History

...now browsing by category

 

Dick Bernard: Three weeks after inauguration day. Letters to Judd

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

More on the topic of the 2017 Presidency here.

(click to enlarge)

The town in which we live, Woodbury MN, would be considered a prosperous suburban community just east of St. Paul. Sometimes I refer to it as “suburban 3M”, since 3Ms headquarters are nearby and many highly skilled employees live here. Politically, we’re probably a “purple” place: our State Senator and one of our two state legislators are Democrat and female; the other side of the district had a hard fought race between two women: one Democrat, one Republican. The Democrat (we call Democrats DFLer – Democratic Farmer Labor in Minnesota) is a young African-American professional woman; our town of 62,000 has a significant number of Muslims, primarily highly educated professional people.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, yesterday, to see our local paper, the Woodbury Bulletin, carry a front page and very long column by Youssef Rddad on the WWII internship of the Japanese in America, with a headline “Does Trump order echo the past?

Meanwhile, back in Washington…. A good daily summary I look forward to every day is found in Just Above Sunset, a retired guy in Los Angeles. The last number, overnight, is titled: “The Persistence of Nonsense“. [Feb. 11: the most recent posting, again overnite, is chilling and important, here. Avoiding reality is not a good option…for us.]

Here at home I had occasion to pull down one of the boxes of farm “junk” – part of the last remaining residue of my grandparents 110 year farm in rural North Dakota.

I was looking for the book about the 1997 Red River Valley Flood (which is here, somewhere), but instead, sitting on top, was a 64-page pamphlet, “Letters to Judd”, originally written in 1925 and, according to author Upton Sinclair, “reprinted in 1932 and 1933. I might have rewritten it, but I thought you would learn more by reading it as prophecy.”

It would count as “prophecy” for the first decades of the 2000s as well.

Upton Sinclair was a prolific author, a Socialist, once a candidate for Governor of California. You can read the entire 1933 pamphlet here.

The pamphlet I have is the 1933 edition, and five pages can be seen here: Letters to Judd002

Take the time to read the first couple of letters. I think you’ll want to continue to the end.

Grandpa Busch was about 53 – my oldest sons age – when he picked up the book in 1933. His area, North Dakota, was in the hard times of the Depression. He had lost, or was about to lose, part of his land.

I’ve gotten to know a lot about Grandpa and Grandma and their family over these past many years.

Grandpa came to the prairie in 1905 to be somebody. As so often happens to the little guys (and gals), greed of bigger shots than he put the brakes on his aspirations. The Non-Partisan League beckoned; later he was one of the first to join and become very active in the North Dakota Farmers Union.

But I think he was always on the conservative side, not happy with “loafers” who got government jobs in the CCC and WPA and such (even though a nephew was in the CCC). He was a gifted tinkerer, convinced that inventing stuff – he had patents – would sail his families boat, though it never did.

It would be great to have a conversation with Grandpa about “Letters to Judd” – how he came to learn about it; what he thought of it…. He lived on 34 more years, on the same farm, always a dreamer, a tinkerer.

Letters to Judd is about the battle between concepts: Capitalism versus Socialism. We are in a society where Capitalism has won, but have we…?

Read the pamphlet, think about what you’ve read, share it, have a conversation.

What part do you play in our future.

COMMENTS:
from Corky: Letters to Judd is interesting read. Economic analysis is interesting. I understand the plight of farmers much better now.

from C: How sad. We watched the movie Grapes of Wrath last night on [TV]. You couldn’t help but cry at what they went through. I kept thinking of our refugees. I know we shouldn’t live in fear, but I can’t help it. I fear what is happening in our country. Is this the coming of Hitler’s dictatorship time? I hear how, ” this and that” is being investigated and it gives me hope but it’s so slow in happening. It’s like I read where a president was told “Don’t piss in the pot we all have to eat out of”. The women in congress speak up but the only men that speak up are Democrats, Senators Tim Kaine, your [Mn Sen.] Franken, and Republican John McCain.

from Emmett: As I read through the material, I found that it paralleled the story of my family. My dad suffered from a hernia and wore a truss, as did Judd. Our house was also made of a couple of houses brought together, and then other additions were added later. Much of what is said sounds a lot like what my dad said. And much of what is said is still happening today (automation). The letter writers would be shocked by what is currently happening in this electronic world we live in. It is interesting as to how people can witness the same thing and yet process it in such different ways. All this makes me think about Mitt Romney and his comment about makers and takers. You have a work force making things and the wealthy executives of the company take the profits for themselves leaving little for the makers. Yet from Mitt Romney’s perspective, he was the maker by virtue of his investments, while the 47%, made up largely by poor underpaid makers were the takers in his mind. I was thinking that this should be sent to Trump. But I’m not sure he has the intellect to digest it all. All this makes you understand the passage of Glass-Steagall, to protect us from the wealth crooks that caused the Great Depression and the Bush Recession.

from Peter: Here is a letter I just sent to my extended family. I encourage everyone to follow the link and take effective action

Love

Peter

*******

Family,

It may have been awhile since you heard from me about other than births, deaths or marriages.

We are confronted with an administration that seems bent on harming as many as possible of the most vulnerable among us. Most of you saw this coming, and opposed it, but here we are.

Today immigration raids have begun in earnest, tearing apart families all over America. I had seen this under the previous administration, when I participated in a workshop in Boston with teenagers who often came home from school to find the front door missing and their parents gone. In Boston. In America. But this is now set to “surge”, according to ICE.

This can’t be accomplished by haranguing people who already agree with us, which is what happens when we blog or use the Book of Faces. One way that might have real impact, however, is to erode their corporate support, as outlined below. Because, although corporations are not democratic in any way, they exist because we put up with them, regardless of politics or law. And we don’t have to put up with them. They live under the Rule of Money, not the Rule of Law, and in that country [Money], we have considerable, innate power.

The history of the list, and those included on the list, is GrabYourWallet.org/about.

We are seeing a massive power-grab by the likes of Bannon, who is a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist. He is now attacking Planned Parenthood, the golden goose of his hate-spewing career, now that he is running the White House. That person knows no limits, and believes in an an ultimate war between the few people he likes, and the rest of humanity. The President, as is obvious, is a loon who is easily steered by such manipulators, and will be discarded – a last great trumpian spectacle – when his puffery ceases sufficiently to distract the nation from the deep substantive changes his backers are making to our system of governance.

We are all needed now. Meanwhile, as Joni Mitchell sang:

“The gas leaks

The oil spills

And sex kills…”

Love,

Peter
PS- as with all links in emails, paste it in your browser, don’t click on it here!

from Fred: Here is [a] Kipling poem The Sons of Martha and the note my friend sent. If you want to see Upton Sinclair’s comment [on the poem] just google reviews of the poem*.
“I’ve seen this cited in a couple of places on the web as a key to (at least some of) the psychology of the 2016 election. It’s called “The Sons of Martha”. Biblical reference is Luke 10. Notes here.”

Rudyard Kipling (1907)
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother, of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are –
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s ways may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!

* – Upton Sinclair: from “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.(Under this title the English poet has written a striking picture of the social chasm. He figures the world’s toilers as the “Sons of Martha,” who, because their mother “was rude to the Lord, her Guest,” are condemned forever to unrequited toil. “It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.” The poem goes on to tell of the ignorance and torment in which they live—while the Sons of Mary, who “have inherited that good part,” live in ease upon their toil.
“They sit at the Feet and they hear the Word—they know how truly the Promise runs.
“They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and—the Lord he lays it on Martha’s Sons.”
But it appears that for a long period of years Mr. Kipling has refused to permit this radical poem to be reprinted. Under the circumstances, all that the editor can do is to state that it may be found in the files of the New York Tribune and other newspapers throughout America having the service of the “Associated Sunday Magazines,” on April 28, 1907. The editor ventures to doubt if there exists a more dangerous social force than the man of genius who turns his divine gift to the crushing of the efforts of his fellowmen for justice)”

Dick Bernard: The 15th day after inauguration.

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Related Posts accessible here.

Sunday till Thursday, the end of January, the beginning of February, 2017, we were visiting a friend who has lived for over 50 years in a northern Minnesota town of under 2,000. We have been there before – we are friends for many years. It is always a pleasant visit.

Of course, we’re in the beginning of different political times, and this was a few days to notice things. For starters, I noticed a small photo of our friends “Gentleman Soldier” (below) who she had met in the aftermath of WWII in Germany, and later married, and lived and raised their family in rural America, for over 50 years, till he died in 1998.

I asked to borrow the 2×2 1/2″ photo, and scanned it. It is below (click to enlarge).

“Gentleman Soldier”, rural Germany, 1945.

It got me to thinking about those authoritarian days our friend and all Germans became accustomed to the 1930s, the days which ultimately left their country in ruins, and themselves, starving.

Back in the beginning, in the 1920s and 1930s, communication was primitive compared to today, not much difference between Germany and the U.S. There were newspapers, of course, and other printed material; there were telephones, but seldom used, and telegraph was more likely and reliable for emergency use. Radio was in its infancy (the first American radio news broadcast was about 1920).

Today, of course, all is different. Makes hardly any difference where you live, you have hundreds of choices of media.

We watched cable and regular news on the channels she preferred. We read the newspaper and the magazines she received, etc. It was just like at home. We could watch the beginning of the new administration in Washington just like anybody else. The new President couldn’t contain himself, with yet another reference to “fake” news (it seems to mean, that which does not flatter him).

Our friends rural community is like (apparently) most during this election time: basically conservative Republican. In the just completed election, the now-President won about 60% of her counties vote.

These would probably include the old guy (maybe my age or younger) who was railing away at the town bowling alley which doubles as the morning coffee hangout. He was raging against those present day immigrants and refugees taking free stuff that belonged to him. His friend didn’t seem to agree with him, but wasn’t about to argue.

The rural town dates back into the late 1800s, and was virtually 100% settled by immigrants from Norway and Sweden but, I guess, he thinks those immigrants were somehow different than today. My guess is the anti-immigrant guy comes from that immigrant stock.

Our friend shared last Sunday’s church bulletin from her church in town. She said the pastor was a veteran, two tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. His words are well worth the time to read in their entirety: Pastors message Ja 29 17001 I wonder how the flock received his words. And how many other pastors are pondering how to approach the business of politics in this new American environment.

Our friend also shared what was obviously a hand-made Christmas card with a beautiful piece of art painted on a piece of cloth. It was from a friend with whom she had shared a deeply personal tragedy many years before.

Light in Darkness

Her friends Christmas letter was profound, in part saying:

“My birthday on November 8th began with chilled champagne and the expectation of emotional celebration It ended with the appalling realization that life as we know it will never be the same – in the worst ways. With each new nomination and each middle-of-the-night tweet, the darkness has become more real and more frightening.

The Gospel of John contains no stable scene – no manger, angels, shepherds. No Christmas pageant script. It’ short and to the point: in the beginning was the Word…the light shines in the darkness…the Word became flesh….

In the midst of our discouragement we also sense the fires within to be torchbearers. We will surround ourselves with people we respect who will inspire us and light the way for us to think and act outside our comfort zone. We will donate more time and money to the organizations that support the values we hold dear. We will treat the environment with care. We will contact our legislators. We will be advocates for the people who will undoubtedly suffer discrimination, fear, and injustice under this administration. We will do what we can to welcome the stranger and feed the hungry. We will be the intentional in showing kindness and compassion.

We will do our best to be reflections of the Light. The Light that shines in the darkness.

Let your light so shine.”

POSTNOTE: In the last 30 miles to our friends town last Sunday, I got to thinking: there were, after all, almost 66,000,000 of us who voted for the candidate who won the election, but lost the electoral vote. What if, what if, every one of us committed, each week, in the next year, to do a single action aiming to positive change in direction of our country?

That would come out to nearly three and one half billion (3,500,000,000) actions.

How about it?

And I must also share this commentary from page 47 of the January 30, 2017 Time magazine: Time Jan 30 2017001. It speaks for itself.

August Wilson’s “Fences”

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Sunday night we went to the Denzel Washington film interpreting August Wilson’s play “Fences”. The film is very powerful. Here is detail of showing places and times for your area.

Fences is one of ten August Wilson plays, representing the African-American experience in each of the ten decades of the 20th century. The play, like the film, largely takes place in the tiny back yard of a tiny apartment in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. One would presume the general setting is similar to where August Wilson grew up, at 1727 Bedford. The cast for Fences is all-star, and it would not surprise if the film is a candidate for one or more academy awards.

More about Fences, Wilson and his career can be read here.

It was serendipity that got me acquainted with August Wilson, and then his sister, and later his niece, Kimberley.

(click on photos to enlarge)

1727 Bedford, Pittsburgh PA, April, 1998

The photo above shows August Wilson’s boyhood home in 1998. The door can be seen in white at the rear of the building. Looking west, down the hill, the Pittsburgh downtown skyscrapers can be seen.
I took this and other photos on a rainy day.

My daughter Joni, and I, had the immense good fortune of getting the tour of August Wilson’s neighborhood with his sister, Freda.

Back in the late 1980s while living in Hibbing Minnesota I got a piece of junk mail from a new theatre in St. Paul, the Penumbra. Life then required many trips to St. Paul for meetings, and on one trip I went to some unremembered play at the theatre, and I liked it. In 1990, I attended Fences at the Penumbra. Penumbra was a small intimate theatre, and we were all near the stage. I remember this play, and it was powerful.

Along the way, I think I’ve seen all of Wilson’s ten plays (“The Pittsburgh Cycle”) at one time or another, almost all of them at the Penumbra.

It was awhile before I connected a few dots, and learned that I had met August Wilson “way back when”, about the time he moved to St. Paul.

It would have been about 1979 or so, and at the time I was volunteering on occasion at Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, on Lake Street in south Minneapolis. This particular day I was there at the time of lunch, and the person who cooked the meal for us and sat at the same table as I and the others was August Wilson, though, of course, I (or he, for that matter) had no idea of the celebrity he was to become not many years later.

Wilson had taken the job of cook because it interfered least with his passion to write, and his first play was first given a test run and performed during his time there, at the Playwright’s Center not far away on Franklin Avenue. It was “Black Bart and the Sacred Hills”. Some of the then staff at Little Brothers were among those who attended that reading. Black Bart… does not appear in the anthology of his works, but was nonetheless a successful play by him.

I met August Wilson one more time in the late 1990s. It was at a fundraiser of some sort, and my impression of him was that he was not comfortable being there – a quiet man out of his element. A little later I was to attend a conference in Pittsburgh and was introduced to his sister who, in turn, treated my daughter Joni and I to a long and very fascinating tour of his and her Hill District, the setting of most of his plays.

I feel especially honored to have had the opportunity to get to know August Wilson and his world a tiny bit more than most.

I hope you can see Fences.

Daughter Joni and August Wilson’s sister, Freda, at 1717 Bedford, Pittsburgh PA Apr 1998

Freda in kitchen of the apartment at 1727 Bedford, Pittsburgh Apr 98.

Kimberley and Freda at Little Brothers, Minneapolis, Feb. 15, 2011

Dr. Kimberley C. Ellis can be found here; Freda Ellis passed away in Pittsburgh in 2015.

COMMENTS:
from Laura, who knew August in the Little Brothers days: Of course, I saw Fences(movie). I sat next to August on the opening of Fences, the play, at Penumbra. I cried during the movie. August definitely would have approved.

from Thad, who knew August well at Little Brothers: Thank you very much for the link to your blog. In fact, and you won’t believe this, I just saw “Fences” today. The film ended at 7:00 pm and here I am emailing you half an hours later. What a coincidence. Anyway, I was really moved and like you, feel really privileged to have known August for the time he worked at Little Brothers.

#1203: The Time of Donald J. Trump begins one week from today.

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Donald Trump becomes U.S. President on January 20. I’ll recognize that he is President, but in the 14 inaugurations since I turned 21 (then, the voting age), this one will pass me by minimally noticed. I’ve come to know Trump far too well for over a year: from his own mouth and Twitter; I’ve learned about his “base”, from his choice of issues and slogans at his rallies, and from trash e-mails from his most ardent supporters. I have learned about his future direction, from noting who he has selected for his inner circle. I don’t think he can change.

One shouldn’t set aside the shameful way the Republicans (and Trump) dealt with Hillary Clinton for years and years. They were terrified of her. I hope she doesn’t back away. And the same Republicans did everything in their power to damage the legacy of President Obama. In that, they also failed, regardless of what they do to try to slash and burn his accomplishments, like the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

Following is my opinion, and I emphasize, it is only my opinion. But I don’t think I’m alone.

Germany, 1954

Wednesday, I happened by the television which, at the moment I came by, was the hearing for Rex Tillerson as Trumps Secretary of State designee.

Tillerson has an appropriate high level executive look and bearing, of course. “When he talks, you listen”. He had just received a “softball” question from a Senator along the lines of “how many countries have you visited?” Tillerson wasn’t sure – perhaps about 40, he said. Then he was asked about how people he had met in these countries perceived American foreign policy. He was diplomatic, of course, but the suggestion was that the people he talked to wanted change.

It was an innocuous vignette, but it drew me in. There are about 193 countries in the world, and there are over 7 billion people. Tillerson certainly had talked to some people who had opinions, as have we all, but who were these people, and what would that prove? He has a particular area of expertise. There is not a single decision ever made by any person in high level decision making in government that has not been wrong in some observers mind. It is a reality of the public leadership.

More interesting to me is that Tillerson’s entire working career has been with what is now ExxonMobil, and I recall he was recommended for the job by, among a few others, Richard Cheney, former U.S. vice-president and before that U.S. Government official and Halliburton chief executive.

One might recall that Halliburton did very well during the good old days of the Iraq War. Cheney was a central and crucial part of the team promoting and prosecuting that disastrous war which still involves us.

Behind the easy questions and the unchallenged answers lies much more to the story of not only Tillerson, but every other Trump appointment to his Cabinet. It is a club of, by and for the already rich. The “swamp” is just being refilled.

I went about my other work of the day.

*

About the same time as the Tillerson hearing, the network cut in to the Trump news conference at Trump Tower in New York City. I wasn’t watching that, but later reports spoke for themselves. The media, and the people who watch them, face a real dilemma in these coming long, long weeks and years: Trump is money in the bank for them. He’s a draw, and that is what networks want: viewers, aka generators of advertising revenue.

On the other hand, as evidenced by that first press conference, he is trashing selectively media who are critical of him, broadcasting the label “fake news” – which is red meat for his base. At the same time, he has benefited by “fake news”. It has become hard to discern what to believe….

By now, everybody who pays any attention at all to Trumps routine has to know that the prudent person cannot believe a single word he says, regardless of how fervent he is in declaring its truthfulness; nor how often or loudly he repeats it. Parts of what he says might be true, most likely not. He gives meaning to the phrase “caveat emptor”, “let the buyer beware”. And he is not yet even in office of President.

Serial lying and out and out bullying has served Trump well. And coupled with being a charismatic pitchman, comfortable with the media and a media celebrity elite, about to become the most powerful person in the world, and caring only about himself and his ego, this makes for a potentially lethal combination…for us all.

People best beware of being sucked in. This is not a time to be disconnected.

It will be interesting to see how the media in general deal with the contradictory objectives: making money, and responsible reporting.

*

Speaking only for myself, my specific on going concern is this:
In my fairly long life, I have never seen such a scurrilous, dishonest, down and dirty campaign against a person, as I saw waged against Hillary Clinton. This was waged for years against Hillary Clinton, personally, and in fact continues.

Similarly, a war was declared on President Barack Obama as he became President of the United States, with Republican efforts to block his success. In spite of all of this, the Obama administration was successful. You would never hear such a word from the Republicans.

I see no need to be respectful of those who engage in reprehensible behavior. You expect campaigns to be hard-fought, but not the scorched earth we have experienced for the past many years.

Personally:

1) I have no interest in validating Trumps daily declarations by being part of his audience. Personally, I am sick and tired of the daily dose of Trump, and my limited television viewing, almost all of ‘news’, is decreasing, and I am letting my news anchors of choice know this. I almost never have been surveyed; I have to write a real letter as a real person to another real person. It needs to be done. I have done this in the past. These letters are read.

2) The crucial actors in this continuing circus will be the members of Congress, both Senate and House. It is not enough to be silent. If there are any ways to give witness, such as the pending million women march in your area, go for it, and let your congressperson and senator, and, for that matter, your state legislators and Governor as well. The “nice person” who is your own local congressperson or whatever has a record which deserves scrutiny between now and the next election. He/She most cares about reelection.

Germany 1998

What’s Ahead with an Authoritarian President?

No one knows, of course, what Trump will actually do, which is especially worrisome to those who are “in the know” at the highest levels. No one knows, even the Republican leadership who embraced him, what he might do, or when, or even how. Perhaps he doesn’t know….

I think that recalling Nazi Germany is useful, just as a caution.

First, Americans in general are moderate, nice people. We know that. My most recent issue of the American Spectator (January, 2017) is highly worth the time to read in its entirety: Spectator001.

So were most of the Germans in the awful time after WWI, even in time of desperate poverty. People are people, universally.

My mother was 100% German, both grandfathers migrated from Germany to the U.S. in the 1860s, and I have German cousins who I have visited. A dear friend of mine was 7 years old when Hitler and the Nazis consolidated their power in 1933. She was 18 when the Germans surrendered in 1945, their country in ruins, millions dead and displaced, the dreams of a 1000 year Reich gone after a dozen years.

Beginning in the 1920s, it was Hitler’s aim to “Make [Germany] Great Again”, with all that entailed. In 1933, the Nazis took control of the government. The dream lasted perhaps ten years….

Years ago I got serious about my roots, both German and French. In the process of gathering data from anyone and everyone, a relative in Illinois sent some photos taken by another relative in Iowa who visited the home farm in Germany in 1954.

One of the photos is at the beginning of this blog.

This was nine years after the war, and judging by the other photos, it was obvious from the photos reconstruction had not been completed. This was not the prosperous Germany we see today. The visitor was taken around by horse drawn wagon. (The farm I saw in 1998 was very prosperous.)

The photo is of a shrine in the yard of the ancestral farm house. I asked about it when I visited the cousins in 1998, and I took the followup photo during my visit there (the one immediately above). The statue remains identical to this day, I believe.

I was told that four men of the farm had been drafted into the German Army in WWII, and the statue to the Blessed Virgin was raised as a prayer of sorts for their safety in the conflict.

They all came home, apparently intact and uninjured, but none of them had ever, according to my relative, said anything about their experience. It was a forbidden topic. They had all died, their stories buried with them.

My German friend, Anneliese, had a similar story with a different ending. Her father and mother refused to join the Nazi Party (which benefited those who became members), and he was drafted into the Army, and was last seen about Christmas in 1944. He worked on a road crew as an engineer, I believe, and they think he was killed in Russia, but are not sure, and the search continues for closure.

In effect, he received a death sentence for his resistance to the Nazis.

Can Nazi Germany happen here? These are different times, and as I’ve noted, we are a different society. In answer to my own question, I don’t think so…but never in my wildest imagination could I envision a crude egotistical dishonest billionaire becoming our President, either.

1933 Germans, while just coming out of deep poverty after WWI, were susceptible to the same
messages as 2016 Americans were: anger, resentment, identifiable enemy (in one case the Jews, in another Muslims, illegals….) And the resentment was fanned by a charismatic leader with a great pitch who promised he and they would “Make America [Germany] Great Again”.

There are similarities and differences between 1933 Germany and 2017 America, but the reality is that there is a far closer relationship than we care to revisit.

To start, it took lots of good Germans in the 1930s to get and keep the Nazis in power. In the beginning the Nazis were a nuisance; later, people self-silenced.

In the end, as Martin Niemoeller often said so famously, in sometimes different specific ways:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The Thousand Year Reich was destroyed. We have the potential of doing the same to ourselves.

The temptation is to pretend that we aren’t vulnerable; or to say in many ways, “there’s nothing I can do anyway”, and then prove the point by doing nothing.

This is our country, and our future, and now is not the time to pretend that all will work out, that Donald Trump will change his stripes, and “Make America Great Again” (as if it isn’t already a great country.)

COMMENTS:
from Leila: I keep waiting for someone to stop this trainwreck.
from Bill: I am committed to a total boycott of all TV on 1/20/17. I will find something else productive to do instead.
from Jan: well stated and we cannot be silent in the days ahead!
from Joni: I shared to my wall with comments. Thank you for once again articulating so clearly and eloquently what my heart and head feel.
from Suzanne: Thank you for the post…..I will be in DC for the women’s march.
from Nancy: So, my question is why are we as a nation being forced to take Drumpf’s punishment? He has shown himself to be unfit for the office and the responsibilities. He shouldn’t be inaugurated.

from Annelee, Jan 15: (Anneliese is referenced above, and is the lady who grew up in Nazi Germany. Her comments are shared with her permission.)

Your blog today gives me and those who read you what was there all the time, but I and some us didn’t see it till now.

I have been thinking about TRUMP—and the more I think, the more he scares me. WHY?

GERMANY 1933 is coming to America—will the people notice?

Why was I so blind????

…Don’t shut [Trump] out, listen to all he says, does— [my] Papa and Uncle Pepp knew [about what was happening in our town in Germany] but most of the time they kept quiet—

…When you say the media?? He uses it so skillfully already: he said, “The media spreads false news, just like it was happening in NAZI Germany.”

People to this day fear Nazi Germany— His supporters surely gobble that up and remember the bad media.

It wasn’t the media that gave the story about Russia knowing negative things about [Trump]; it came from Britain.

Did he correct that he was wrong? Never!

I wish someone could have looked into the papers he had displayed [in envelopes at his news conference which] showed he is giving his business to his sons— I bet they were empty [envelopes].

The similarities of the 1933 promises Hitler made, look the same as what Trump is proposing.
Give the population some good times and then, when you have them convinced that you are the best— you can do what you want.

What frightens me the most is how he already blames and attacks the press. If our press is not free, the non-thinking population is sucked in and set for doom.

NOTE from Dick: I have known Annelee for 14 years, and she has spoke and written extensively about how it was to a young person in a small German town during the time of Hitler. When the Third Reich took root, it was dangerous to talk to the wrong people. Annelee (her name was changed when she came to America in 1947) is completing a third book on her 90 years of life experience in Germany and the U.S. In fact, I met her when I read a review of her first book in 2003. Her website is here.

Dick Bernard: Meeting a Witch.

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

First, a significant program which will be accessible worldwide for the next week, beginning tonight on the National Geographic Channel. Details here. This film, “Before the Flood”, is Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary on Climate Change, on the National Geographic Channel tonight, and gives details on the many free access points for the film on the web for the next few days.
POSTNOTE Sunday evening Oct. 30: I have just watched this film. It is very thought provoking. Excellent.

The Witch

Saturday noon our friend, Don, and I went to the local Dairy Queen for lunch. Just inside the restaurant, we met a nice looking middle-aged lady all dressed up as a witch, tall pointed hat and all black clothing, about to leave.

I made a good-natured crack, and she responded, good-naturedly but with authority, “I am a witch”. There was a small amount of banter, and we were on our respective ways. She was a most pleasant person!

Around us were a few youngsters “practicing” for Monday night, All Souls Day, Halloween. There weren’t any hobgoblins, but the assorted costumes allowed that they were preparing for “trick or treats” a couple of days out (we used to say “money or eats”, too – I wonder….) Our neighborhood lately has been almost devoid of young gremlins, though my wife has stocked up for Monday night since there are a fair crop of new neighbors with kids, including a 7 year old next door. We might get some business.

The little interchange with the witch (I’ll take her word for it), caused me to think.

Witches tend to get a bad rap, which causes them to most often be quiet about their belief system. Our mindset, when “witch” is mentioned, is of people casting spells; the “wicked witch of the west”, “witches brew” and such.

(The witch we met yesterday did a more than reasonable “cackle”.)

There likely is a reputable witch web site that is “fair and balanced”. For the lazy researcher – me – the wikipedia entry seems helpful. You can read it here.

One day a year – tomorrow – the kids come around to stock up on unhealthy food bought by otherwise good parents.

No carrot sticks and celery on Halloween! Apples have a bad reputation…too easy to put sharp things in.

There are other events. A number of years ago I walked in the Mexican Dia de Muertos, “Day of the Dead” in south Minneapolis. It was very impressive. My guess is that it will happen this week as well.

This morning at Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis there will be the 22nd annual procession of the Icons, an annual event connected with All Souls Day, always impressive (at 9:30 and 11:30 Mass for any interested).

A few years ago, around Halloween, Nov. 5, 2001, we happened to be at a B&B overlooking a little park in London, England, and at night noticed parents and children were around in the park with little fires, having fun and celebrating something or other. Later I learned it was Guy Fawkes Night, celebrating the day that a militant English Catholic tried and failed to blow up Parliament in 1605.

I don’t know if I actually met a “witch” yesterday, but whoever she was, I’m grateful that she caused me to take a moment to reflect on the humanity of all of us, and the sometimes nonsensical things we do to validate ourselves over others; or just invalidate others….

There’s room for all kinds of people in our society, so long as we deal respectfully with each other.

Have an enjoyable Halloween!

#1169 – Dick Bernard: A 175th Birthday in St. Paul; “In the Beginning, there was a Chapel”

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Yesterday, I took a short trip to St. Paul, to a park at the corner of Kellogg Blvd and Minnesota Street, overlooking the Mississippi River.

(click photos to enlarge)

Site of the original church of St. Paul, built October, 1841, the namesake of the City of St. Paul MN.  Located at Kellogg Blvd and Minnesota Street, St. Paul

Site of the original church of St. Paul, built October, 1841, the namesake of the City of St. Paul MN. Located at Kellogg Blvd and Minnesota Street, St. Paul

175 years ago, in October, 1841, eight French-Canadians, migrants from Red River country, built a log chapel overlooking the Mississippi River at the point marked by the above monument, well hidden in plain sight.

The chapel (seen below as painted by Alexis Fournier) was dedicated to St. Paul, and thus the location once known as Pigs Eye, became St. Paul, and some years later became the Capitol city of the new state of Minnesota.

The simple structure was dedicated November 1,1841, 175 years ago.

fournier-chapel

About two weeks from now, Tuesday, November 1, a special event will mark the 175th anniversary of the little Chapel, which named a city, and became the first of four Cathedrals built in St. Paul.

A special program, sponsored by the French-American Heritage Foundation, will celebrate the anniversary (click here for all information about the program and registration.)

There is limited seating. Reserve soon.

If you haven’t been there in awhile, or ever, take a few minutes to visit the place that gave St. Paul its name, directly across Kellogg Boulevard at Minnesota Street in St. Paul.

There is a lot of history at this small place.

One of the four panels at the site of the monument to the chapel of St. Paul

One of the four panels at the site of the monument to the chapel of St. Paul

The monument looking from Minnesota Street towards the Mississippi River.

The monument looking from Minnesota Street towards the Mississippi River.

Also, FAHF has recently published three books about the French in America heritage in Minnesota. One of these is about the birth of the Cathedral, “In the Beginning there was a chapel”. Here is the link to order any of the books.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Board of FAHF, and responsible for the three volume “Chez Nous”.

The third new book is “They Spoke French”, a primer about the strong but quiet presence of the French in Minnesota.

All of the books are brand new, very recently released. Each would make excellent holiday gifts.

#1167 – Dick Bernard: The gathering at the Band Shell. Some thoughts before the next political debate, and election day, 2016.

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Thursday morning, as I was leaving Valley City ND, I stopped in at the City Park to take the below photo. It was in this park, at this band shell, that I heard Gov. Nelson Rockefeller speak in June, 1960, as he was seeking the Republican nomination for President.

(click to enlarge)

Band Shell, City Park, Valley City ND Oct 6, 2016

Band Shell, City Park, Valley City ND Oct 6, 2016

I wrote about the event I witnessed that pleasant June day in 1960 at that Band Shell in November, 1996. You can read it below. At the end of the post I explain why I wrote the piece.

Today is a month before November 8, 2016, Election Day in the U.S. (My personal opinion, from Sep. 24, 2016, can be read here.) A follow-up comment following the October 9 debate in St. Louis is here.

*

Politics seems different now, brutal. It has always been hard-nosed, but it seems meaner and nastier today.

Friday of this week, the day after Valley City, I was having the “free breakfast” at a motel in Fargo, N.D. The TV was on droning as usual; and on came, a couple of times, an absolutely hideous political ad painting Hillary Clinton in the most unattractive way possible, doing as designers of these pieces do: picking the worst of the worst, and emphasizing it. Such advertising is said to work, which is sad, since there is no interest in any professional accuracy in articulating differences in philosophy, as we were treated to in June, 1960.

How deep are the depths of public political meanness? We don’t seem to have reached rock bottom yet, but we have to be close. And it doesn’t make for a healthy country.

*

Here’s June 4, 1960 remembered from the vantage point of the election of 1996, respectively 14 and 5 Presidential election cycles ago.

A REFLECTION BY AN AMERICAN PERSON (ONE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE)
by Dick Bernard
November 27, 1996

While observing the often sordid political campaign of ’96, I found myself revisiting in my mind a scene in the Valley City (ND) City Park in the summer of 1960.

I was, then, a 20-year-old college student, about a year from attaining the right to vote. I remember a beautiful sunshiny day, with many people gathered around the bandstand in this small partk, which was bordered on three sides by the beautiful Sheyenne River. This day a high school band was playing. We were waiting for a visit of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, then beginning to seek – unsuccessfully it turned out – his party’s nod for the 1960 Presidential race.

I recall that the governor came, was politely received by all in attendance, gave his speech, and left for his next stop. It was a thrilling day for me, being the first time I had actually seen in person a real national political figure.

My memory of that day carried forward for 36 years. I do not remember the content of the governor’s speech, nor the precise date. What I do remember was the civility and respectfulness of the occasion. It was one of those positive memories we all carry about certain events, with the passage of years perhaps revising the reality of the event.

In my mind, I contasted that gentle day in 1960 with the “slash and burn” disrespect-of-others-as-persons national spectacle presented from 1993 to 1996 by political leaders and their parties, including Ross Perot’s, as well as by many business and labor PAC’s, and others. I labelled may of this year’s actions “character assassination by pious hypocrites”. I think I was accurate.

But did my perception of that 1960 gathering match the reality With profound thanks to Rebecca Heise of the Barnes County (ND) Historical Society, I recently re-visited what really happened that day, June 4,1960″

“The June 3 Valley City Time-s Record reported that the governor, after speaking for about 10 minutes, would spend about 20 minutes shaking hands with North Dakotans following the speechmaking.” The governor and his party were accompanied by “a busload of newsmen and commentators….” and “[t]he Litchville high school band…present[ed] a concert…until the governor [arrived].

So far,so good…. Perception conformed with reality.

The June 5 Fargo Forum reported on Mr. Rockefeller’s speech: “Estimates of upwards of 1,200 persons cheered Rockefeller…in the Valley City park.”

“We, in a free land, often take for granted the many blessings we enjoy,” Rockefeller told the Valley City gathering.

“So it is wonderful to see so many here today to take part in this political rally,” he added.

“It’s too bad so many people say that politics is a dirty business, when in reality it is the life-blood of the American government. When they tell me that politics is a dirty business I tell them ‘who don’t you get into politics then and clean it up’?”

He said that freedom has never been challenged more than it is today.

“This was shown,” he added, “by the wrecking of the summit conference where insults were hurled at President Eisenhower who has dedicated his life, first as a military man, and now as President, working to help this nation through trying times.”

So…in the speech I heard the governor talk about “dirt” and “insults” as a part of the then-political process.

Did this mean that the 1996 campaigns were nothing more than “the same old, same old” of contemporary politics in 1960? I don’t think so.

As months went on in 1960: Governor Rockefeller lost the Republican nomination to Richard Nixon. John Kennedy won both the Democratic nod and the election (I was still not old enough to vote).

Political “dirt” in 1960, in my recollection, was pristine compared to today. John Kennedy’s peccadilloes, reported ad nauseum in recent years, apparently were widely known and considered as private matters by most everyone – press and opposition included – in 1960. If there was a personal “character issue” it never filtered down to the grass roots. Richard Nixon, who might have easily won a 1996-style “personal character” test in 1960, in 1974 resigned the U.S. presidency in disgrace.

Kennedy’s religion – Roman Catholic – was perhaps more exploited as an issue than any other in the 1960 election. TV was a campaign player in 1960 – witness Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow and its supposed effect on viewers in the first televised debate ever. But TV news then was not the instantaneous, full color business it is today. Rather, the medium used black and white film, and TV advertising and news were not developed to the extent they are now. A smaller percentage of Americans owned TV sets than now. There were no mute buttons or remotes to use to tune out junk either. But, in 1960, we were spared endless hours of sophomoric attack ads on the tube.

As an electorate, those who voted in 1960 had yet to deal with the harsh reality of President Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, and the battles on many fronts for assorted civil and human rights. Some would say we were naive, then.

In short, the environment Governor Rockefeller described that June day in Valley City was dramatically different from today, eevn though he used rhetoric still familiar to all of us.

Will we ever again approach the relatively innocent and naive days of 1960? I often wonder….

Tabloid journalism has infected today’s mainstream media – sometimes there seem to be too many newspeople and too little news. Many pundits and other media persons are so blatantly partisan – left and right – that their highly polished one-sided arguments merit little or no serious attention. Some have worked in Republican or Democrat administrations as speechwriters of spokespersons.

Much of contemporary talk radio is nothing more than “infotainment” – with credible “info” in very short supply.

Today’s television has in many ways become an Orwellian wasteland in the hand of those who seek to influence political decisions, including religious leaders, commentators and politicians of all persuasions. The airwaves are full of faux-sincerity. Messengers know how to use the medium; how to stay on message; and how to avoid answering touch questions without seeming to avoid those questions. The manipulation of the camera is so universal and so transparent that is it (hopefully) beginning to reduce TV’s impact as a credible medium.

Today ever more complex and advanced technology seems ascendant, with messages, opinions and rumors zapped instantaneously and worldwide via the Internet. Will this, too, suffer from fatal credibility problems when the novelty wears of and use of the medium has been sufficiently abused? What will be the next stage…?

I hope that 1996 was the nadir of sanctioned disrespect of candidates especially at the national level. I cannot see how we an go much lower than we descended in 1996, and still attract candidates who are capable of the immensely complex ob of leading this magnificent country, and who are willing to face the intense, unfair, daily and unremitting scrutiny of their personal lives, and then endless second guessing of their every decision. It is as if a microscope is used to find every flaw, no matter how small, and then each flaw is absurdly magnified.

I wonder what business would succeed if its officers and products were as constantly ridiculed and second-guessed as are political candidates and government these days. I wonder what business would succeed if if its leaders were a polar opposites in philosophy about the product line, and ruled by a “winner take all” credo in Board of Director votes. I suspect business, under current public policy tradition, would be rife with failure – customers would not buy its products. even if the products were highly desirable and essential.

Had Colin Powell run this year, he would have become fodder for the media and for his opposition, and i would not be surprised to learn some day that this was a major factor in his declining to run for public office. There are means, far easier and less humiliating than politics, for him to accumulate money, power and influence. We all – including the general – have “something to hide”. General Powell doubtless knew that in a campaign he would not have been treated deferentially like his predecessor general Dwight Eisenhower was treated in 1952.

How about “we, the [American] people”? Since I earned the right to vote in 1961, I have cast my informed vote, to my recollection, in every election. This makes me feel qualified to spout off to the 50% of the American citizens who did not even vote in November 1996 (and the 60 percent who did not vote in 1994.)

I have personally become sick and tired of the endless analysis of what the “American people” were saying when they voted this Nov. 5. Every imaginable “special interest” seems to have had its own spin” on what “we, the people” decided.

When I stood in line at the polls at 6:45 a.m. that chilly Tuesday, the 30 or so of us waiting to vote didn’t talk about the issues, or look like Republicans or Democrats, or treat each other disrespectfully. We were there as individuals – as “American persons” – to mark our ballots and fulfill our civic duty. I suspect mine was not an unusual polling place.

I admit ambivalence about those who did not vote. Perhaps it is best that they stayed away, if their source of political information was TV ads and the like. Having said that, those who succumbed to cynicism (a hope of those who strategically use negative advertising or rhetoric to encourage people to stay away from the polls) or whose views are so narrow that they could not find the perfect candidate to represent them, do not deserve the respect they seem to demand. They copped out and effectively gave up their right to be credible critics.

Are there any silver linings as this election season ends? I think there are many. More so than I’ve ever seen before, efforts are being made to once again develop an honest an credible political process.

Mr. Rockefeller in June, 1960, said it right: “It’s too bad so many people say that politics is a dirty business, when in reality it is the life-blood of American government. When they tell me that politics is a dirty business I tell them ‘why don’t you get into politics then and clean it up’?”

There is hope for our country’s political system – but only if we get actively involved beginning now. As citizens we need to constructively advise those committed people who are willing to represent us in all levels of government. We need to learn the issues, and develop constructive opinions about these issues. If we identify problems we need to also identify solutions.

This is our country – the richest, most powerful, complex and divers on earth. It needs us and we need it.”

POSTNOTE:
A single event, a last straw, finally motivated me to write about how I saw politics in the year 1996.

I was single, and working, and in those years generally watched CNN for “news”. Sometime in October, 1996, Newt Gingrich was on the tube, looked me straight in the eye (as one does on television), and lied through his teeth about something I knew something about.

It was then I decided to turn off the television, and for an extended period of time, at least months, probably more. I found out that I didn’t miss TV, and when I did begin again to watch it, much more sparsely than before, I noticed things, like the fact that advertising was emphasized far more than programming.

As a nation we tend to be addicted to images on iPhone and Television and the like. It is not healthy for our society.

Personally, I’m interested in how I saw politics in America in 1960, and 1996; and my hopes for the future.

I’ve made my own observations. The reader can as well.

We have work to do.

#1166 – Dick Bernard: The Presidential Debate, and a Look Back at some 1927 Debates in the United States… “And Nothing But The Truth”

Monday, September 26th, 2016

September 27: DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT, AND DO YOU HAVE COMMENTS ABOUT THE DEBATE? Let me know. We went to a house party in the area. There were 25 of us, “birds of a feather” I’d guess, all of us serious demeanor and very attentive. I felt Secretary Clinton did a very good job: Mr. Trump was as always; and the audience at Hofstra was relatively well behaved. Lester Holt did the best he could. I still am not sure of the substantive value of political debates as they are now staged. dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

Watching the Debate Sep. 26, 2016.

Watching the Debate Sep. 26, 2016.

September 26 Post:

Most likely we will be joining a group to watch the debate tonight. About the only preliminary reading I have done specifically about the debate is here. It speaks for itself.

The “debate” tonight will speak for itself as well.

It seems an appropriate time to recall an interesting round of debates in the year 1927 in the midwest and western United States. The debaters were young graduates of Cambridge University in England. The details follow, if you are interested. The circumstances are a serendipity kind of story.

(click to enlarge)

The itinerary of the Cambridge Union Society debate team, 1927

The itinerary of the Cambridge Union Society debate team, 1927

The teams that they debated against are on page two, here: 1927-debates002

My summary of debater Alan King-Hamiltons Diary of the Debate story is here: 1927-debates003

A photo of the three debaters and their Cambridge Union colleagues is here:

Cambridge Union Society with  committee and two  guest speakers 8 June, 1927. Debaters in America, Fall 1927:  Alan King-Hamilton and H. L. Elvin, front 4&5th from left; H. M Foot, back, 4th from left.   From King-Hamilton's book, "And Nothing But the Truth".

Cambridge Union Society with committee and two guest speakers 8 June, 1927. Debaters in America, Fall 1927: Alan King-Hamilton and H. L. Elvin, front 4&5th from left; H. M Foot, back, 4th from left. From King-Hamilton’s book, “And Nothing But the Truth”.

How this 1927 story came to be:

My father and I and four others traveled to Quebec in 1982, and on one day an English lady joined us for our days excursions. We were all staying at Laval University.

Over the years, Mary and I kept in touch by annual greeting cards. I knew little about her except that she was a dealer in old books.

In November 2001 my wife and I went on a trip to London, and I let Mary know we were coming. She volunteered to show us around. At this point, I didn’t know that her father, then still living, was Alan King-Hamilton, a retired judge of the Old Bailey Criminal Court in London.

I don’t recall the sequence, but we met Judge King-Hamilton in person, a most charming gentleman, well into his 90s; and she also showed us Middle Temple, of which her father was a long-time member.

We went into the library, and I was casually browsing, and noted the spine of a book, And Nothing but the Truth by Judge Alan King-Hamilton QC, her father.

I picked the book up, flipped the pages, and the first stop was page 13 where in mid-page was a comment “Our debating tour took us right down the Middle West, from North Dakota….

North Dakota! That was where I was from. That was where my Dad had planned to go to University in 1927, but had to revise his plans when his Dad’s employer, the flour mill, closed, and the bank that held all their savings also closed within a week of each other.

It all went from there. I received from Mary a book personally autographed by the Judge, and he also privileged me with the 45 page transcript of the diary of he and two colleagues 1927 tour of the midwest and west as part of the Fulbright (then called IIE) exchange program.

Out of the transcript I wrote the summary which you can read above.

There were elements of tonights debate back in 1927, but what was most striking to me is the formality of the competition.

The debaters needed to be completely versed in the affirmative and negative of six potential questions, and weren’t certain of what question they would be debating, whether affirmative or negative, until right before the debate began. Presumably, their competitors were under the same rules, though I’m sure there were temptations to fudge.

Enjoy, and thanks to Alan King-Hamilton and his daughter, Mary, who still lives in suburban London.

ScienceDebate.org: Released today: U.S. President Candidates Respond to Science Questions.

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

NOTE: Set aside adequate time to really closely review this link, released today: U.S. Presidential Candidates Answer ScienceDebate 2016 Questions.

ScienceDebate.org has, since before the 2012 Presidential Election, been advocating for candidates for public office to answer specific questions related to Science and public policy.

The above link is a major and long overdue and very positive development, where several of the candidates for U.S. President publicly answer pertinent questions prior to the 2016 election.

A related post about ScienceDebate co-founder Shawn Otto’s new book, “The War on Science”, on the treatment of science in the public policy debate, past and present, is here.

#1163 – Dick Bernard: 9-11-16, and the dark days of 2001-2009

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Friday, my wife and I and our 87 year old neighbor Don, went to the local theatre to be among the first to see the new movie, Sully, the incredible story of the emergency landing of an airliner in the Hudson River off NYC in January, 2009. “How can you take a 90 second event and turn it into a 90 minute movie?” my friend asked.

Very, very easily. Take in the film. The basic true story is here.

*

Of course (I’m certain), the movie was timed to be released on the eve of the 15th anniversary of 9-11-01, even though the near-disaster actually happened in January, 2009.

I have feelings about 9-11-01. At the end of this post, I share a few personal links from that period in time. I will always have doubts about certain and substantial parts of the official narrative about what happened that awful day, though that labels me as a “conspiracy theorist” I suppose. So be it.

*

But what occurs to me this day in 2016 came to mind a few days ago when I found a cardboard envelope in a box, whose contents included this certificate (8 1/2×11 in original size).

Notice the signature on the certificate (Donald Rumsfeld) and the date of the form printed in the lower left corner (July 1, 2001). (Click to enlarge).

cold-war-certificate-001

The full contents of the envelope can be viewed here: cold-war-cert-packet003

Of course, people like myself had no idea why the article appeared in the newspaper, or how this particular project came to be.

It is obvious from the documents themselves that the free certificate was publicized no later than sometime in 1999; and the certificate itself wasn’t mailed until some time in 2001 to my then mailing address…. The original website about the certificate seems no longer accessible, but there is a wikipedia entry about it.

When I revisited the envelope I remembered a working group of powerful people called the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) formed in the late 1990s.

The group as then constituted no longer officially exists, but had (my opinion) huge influence on America’s disastrous response to 9-11-01 (which continues to this day).

Many members of this select group, including Donald Rumsfeld, and Richard B. Cheney, strategized to establish permanent U.S. dominance in the world, and had very high level positions in the administration of George W. Bush, 2001-2009. PNAC was no benign committee of friends meeting for coffee every Saturday. To cement the notion that to have peace you must be stronger than the enemy…there has to be an enemy. If not a hot war, then a cold war will have to do. Keep things unsettled and people will follow some dominant leader more easily.

Their Cold War ended in December, 1991, as you’ll note, which likely was cause for concern. 9-11-01 became the magic elixir for a permanent war with an enemy….

(I happen to be a long-time member of the American Legion also – the Cuban Missile Crisis and the beginning of the Vietnam era were part of my tour of duty in the Army – and much more recently, the Legion magazine
updated talk about the Cold War, here: America at War001.)

My opinion: there remains a desperate and powerful need by powerful entities to sustain an enemy for the U.S. to fight against and, so goes the story, “win”, to borrow a phrase and “make America great again”. As we learned in the years after 9-11-01, dominance has a huge and unsustainable cost. But the idea still lives on.

The mood of the people of this country is for peace – it is simple common sense – but peacemakers have to do much more than simply demonstrate against war to have it come to pass, in a sustainable fashion.

*

Yes, 9-11-01 was very impactful for me. Here are three personal reflections: 1) chez-nous-wtc-2001002; 2) here; and 3) here: Post 9-11-01001.

I have never been comfortable with the official explanations about many aspects of 9-11-01 and what came after. It is not enough to be ridiculed into silence. Eight years ago my friend Dr. Michael Andregg spent a year doing what I consider a scholarly piece of work about some troubling aspects he saw with 9-11-01. You can watch it online in Rethinking 9-11 at the website, Ground Zero Minnesota. Dr. Andregg made this film for those who are open to critical thinking about an extremely important issue. I watched it again, online, in the last couple of days. It is about 54 minutes, and very well done. Take a look.

Let’s make 9-11-01 a day for peace, not for endless and never to be won war. Humanity deserves better.

(click to enlarge. Photos: Dick Bernard, late June, 1972)

World Trade Center Towers late June 1972, New York City

World Trade Center Towers late June 1972, New York City

Twin Towers from Statue of Liberty, late June, 1972.  (one tower was newly opened, the other nearly completed)

Twin Towers from Statue of Liberty, late June, 1972. (one tower was newly opened, the other nearly completed)

Here, thanks to a long ago handout at a workshop I took in the early 70s, is a more normal reaction sequence to a crisis. As you’ll note, it is useful to allow 9-11-01 to live on and on and on. It is not healthy.

(click to enlarge)

Handout from a circa 1972 workshop.

Handout from a circa 1972 workshop.