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#1160 – Peter Barus on politics; plus, an opportunity to view the entire 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

NOTE from Dick Bernard: Peter commented after last weeks post on Swiftboating Hillary Clinton. His always perceptive remarks are below. He writes from Vermont. His previous posts can be found here.

In addition, recently I received the link to all of the plenary session talks at the outstanding 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis. The Forum was outstanding, and I was privileged to attend it. At minimum take a look. The Forum was especially great this year.

PETER BARUS:
In the political discourse effectiveness is measured against what we’re after in the first place. Are we seeking to support a candidate by defending their “narrative” (meaning, the carefully focus-grouped, workshopped and spin-doctored story saturating the corporate media channels)? That’s defending the story, not the candidate. Are we seeking to hold a candidate’s actions and words up to the light of proven fact? Usually we test for consistency of word and deed, and leave fact out of it. Are we hoping for some break in the timeworn, corrupt and entrenched “system” that might finally, for once in all of history, provide for an actual election that is actually free and fair? And results in the elevation of an incorruptible and honest leader? Well, we do almost universally profess to be in favor of exactly that.

The candidates know this terrain very, very well. Bernie Sanders (my Senator) knew from the start that he would fail to be nominated, much less elected: he knows how things are done in America. But it was a kind of reverse-Reagan action: he hoped to shift the center to make an election include values and voices that are always marginalized. Clinton is of course a master of the Way of Washington, and has achieved real and incontestable stature the old fashioned way: she is more “pragmatic” (ruthless and cunning) than all the other aspirants to the Oval Office dare to be. Saving only the Republican Nominee. As for that celebrated personality, his expertise is in fighting by his own rules: on his turf, with him as referee.

In a fight, the first thing is to choose the ground. The Republican did this years ago, and has owned it completely. We may think it is a stupid choice, an insane choice, an immoral choice; but it is the ground on which the candidate stands and hurls his challenges. And it is going to be very tricky for the Democrat to fight him on some other battlefield than the one where he is already fighting. Consider that to hold a debate, the venue will have to be TV, and that’s the ground the Republican has staked out. Clinton’s ground, of international relationships, deep personal understandings with and of world leaders in their political contexts, the management of continual wars around the globe, and the staunch backing of Wall Street – all that is already on TV, and out of her hands. Her ground is part of his ground. Welcome to my world. Said the spider to the fly.

The second thing in a fight is never box a boxer, or wrestle a wrestler. Somebody is going to have to fight a Reality TV host. On Reality TV. That’s two fundamental principles of warfare that he has, and she doesn’t, going in.

The real assets in this campaign are not the money, or the power-brokers, or the smoke-filled rooms. Not the people you insult, or those abandoned by the American Dream, or disparaged for loving Jesus, or too proud to take a government handout. No Minorities or Special Interests matter here. Nor the battle-scars of the top diplomatic office in the United States Government. And most certainly not your “gender”: Lucretia Borgia? Imelda Marcos? Maggie Thatcher for heaven’s sake? What’s sex got to do with it?

No, none of that. What really matters now is attention. Human attention, focused not on the candidate, but on that candidate’s pointing finger, moment by moment. What do they point at? Is it the moon? A reflection? Which candidate will garner the highest ratings while giving us the finger? We will hear all about the type of fake nails on hers, and the exceptional length and girth of his.

There is this funny thing about the human brain. What it perceives it also acts from. This happens before the intellect is engaged. All the intellect can do, after attention has been seized, is rationalize the accompanying behaviors. And there are two basic reactions to the Reality TV candidate’s performances: apathy or outrage. And both of these human responses stoke the fires of his campaign. Outrage for or against, it doesn’t matter at all, the campaign balloons. See, it’s not a “for or against” switch: it’s an On/Off switch. And the light goes on either way while we’re frantically fighting over who gets to flip the switch.

Meanwhile, one candidate trumpets ever more crazy bigotry and xenophobia, and outright lies about economics and his penis; and the other candidate, already trapped in the same discursive space with the opponent’s genital dimensions, sounds like a teacher from a junior high school civics class, going hoarse trying to yell above the noise of excited teenagers as the bell goes off. “DO. YOUR. HOMEWORK! THERE. WILL. BE. A. TEST!”

Whichever candidate’s chosen ground becomes the scene of the big showdown, the real issues will not get any airtime. Instead, one candidate will throw any reasonable discussion into chaos, and the other will flounder helplessly grasping at straws to regain some fraction of public attention. That fraction will hear defensiveness and righteous disdain. And that triumphant, derisive laughter. And the pundits will analyze each nuance of foreign policy, the cost of a wall on the Mexican border, and and whether Clinton killed Bin Laden to silence him about their relationship. But most of the viewers will have passed out by then, after the cathartic relief of seeing the Strict Father put the Nurturant Parent in her place.

Never mind that the former Secretary of State has conducted war after war in precisely that way, sowing chaos. With the Air Force, the Marines, the Army, the Navy, the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA, and organizations that fund aspiring dictators, like the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute. Pragmatic, utilitarian (non-partisan) tools of State. And her opponent has no experience whatsoever with actual invasions, airstrikes or drone-killings; he just uses metaphorical weapons, like the Big Lie, the verbal sucker-punch, the innuendo, the question-as-fact, the straw-man, the begged question, the categorical denial, the stonewall. And of course, mockery and derision. Tools of Reality TV.

It’s happening on TV. The President is elected on TV. We’re in the domain of attention, remember. In this campaign, a shooting war might get attention, except what’s new about a war? War is just background white-noise now, to most Americans. If it comes up at all it will be to blame the former Secretary for losing it. Whereas a good one-line chant like “lock ‘er up!” will cut to the bone.

But. There is hope. We are not just stimulus-response machines. Your attention please: it is your attention. You can direct it elsewhere. Your attention is yours alone to give. Don’t let them snatch it away. Make them work for it, at least. Take ownership of your attention. Talk with people who are like you, and not like you, face to face. Ask questions, and listen to the answers. We could, theoretically at least, elect a President in an election, and not Reality TV.

Then when those politicians point at something, you can tell whether that’s the moon they’re pointing at, or just the reflection in a mud-puddle.

COMMENTS:
from SAK, in England: Thanks Mr Bernard,
Mr Barus’ comments about choosing the ground for a fight brought to mind part of the reason the UK voted to leave the European Union. The nationalist far right politician Nigel Farage chose the ground to fight on, the same ground Mr Trump has chosen: immigration. The EU means free movement of EU citizens among the member states – it does not mean borders open to all & sundry as the poster Mr Farage hung on his bus seems to imply [hordes of apparent non-natives coming into somewhere]. Furthermore the UK is nowhere near “Breaking Point” as far as welcoming European citizens who wish to live and work there. It seems truth is the first casualty not only of war but of political campaigns as well.

POSTNOTE: Pertinent and timely: Today’s Just Above Sunset, “Under the Volcano

SECOND POSTNOTE, a column in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, the headline says it all: Threats replace political dialogue at State Fair. The exact same example the writer uses in her article was used by some guy I had never seen before out in small town North Dakota in March, 2014, commenting on Hillary Clinton outside a building. At that time, 2 1/2 years ago, Hillary Clinton had not been a politician since being appointed Secretary of State in 2009, and when she was a politician, she was simply one of 535 members of the United States Congress. Hatred without benefit of fact is still easily transmitted. The guy who accosted the woman in the op ed would have been a good candidate for the ruffians who enabled the Third Reich in the early days.

#1158 – The “Swift-boating” of Hillary Clinton: the e-mails and Clinton Global Initiative and whatever else is next….

Friday, August 26th, 2016

An 1879 Essay about Running for President by Mark Twain: here

Many days when I walk I wear a perfectly good old t-shirt that goes back to the summer of 2004.

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It was the year John Kerry (now U.S. Secretary of State) ran for President against George W. Bush. And it was the same year that the purveyors of politics of personal destruction unleashed the Swiftboat ads, turning one of Kerry’s chief strengths (Vietnam war hero, also Vietnam war protestor) into a weakness.

The sliming of a very decent man worked….

Karl Rove was the innovator of this strategy. While Swiftboat was probably not Rove’s personal doing, at least not so far as we knew, or directly, it was basically direct application of that innovative smear, put into play by others, and funded by big money which paid for the advertising.

Swiftboating worked then, and it is in play now, big time: take Hillary Clinton’s major strengths, such as political and diplomatic experience, and her demonstrated competence, and the Clinton Foundation that does a great deal of good, and turn them into negatives by cherry picking fragmentary “facts”, or even making facts up, then churning, and churning and churning.

1. The Clinton Global Initiative “scandal” is one of those breathless non-events. Check it out before being critical. (I notice, in searching for the link, that the Trump campaign has probably purchased first billing in the search engine to try to “trump” Clinton Global Initiative….)

So it goes. You can find Trumps link on your own, if you wish.

(While you’re looking, check into another great former Presidents initiative: the Carter Center.

Clinton and Carter were Presidents who chose to do good not only in office, but after they left office.)

2. The e-mail non-scandals (that’s what they are) will fade into the background, doubtless morphing into new sensational charges about other things…this has been the modus operandi against the Clintons for the entire time they’ve been in elected office, from Arkansas forward. There has been relentless smearing of them for years, all the while, the Clintons remain among our most admired people.

(The e-mail thing is something I relate to, since I do many e-mails. Personally, I have 32,528 “sent” messages saved on my computer. These go back to October 9, 2010, nearly 6 years ago, when I bought this computer; and there are many other archived messages which go back much longer.)

It seems insane to keep these old e-mails, but occasionally they come in handy, most recently at this blogspace, recalling Feb. 2008, Hillary Clinton 2008001, when I first wrote about why I was supporting Hillary Clinton for President (my personal endorsement continues.)

I muse about what would happen to me if some enemy felt a need to grab my e-mails, mine them for whatever data could be found, and then use bits and pieces of the e-mails to indict me for some sinister or unseemly deed. Would it be easy to find material within those 32,528? I’d think so. All you need to do is find a sentence, somewhere in there, a subject line even, and then milk the daylights out of it.

Could I defend myself? First, would I even remember whatever the e-mail was about? Hardly.

But, that’s how this dirty game is played.

The only antidote is to refuse to be sucked into this conversation. The Clinton folks know how to deal with this. I have a great deal of confidence in them.

Years ago when an organization I was part of was forced into a corner by attack after attack by the opposition, we finally figured out that there was not a thing we could do: a response to one attack was answered by another attack about something else.

Our troubles ended when we went on the offensive.

The times and circumstances were different than now, but not much.

I have confidence.

Back to 2004 John Kerry did alright after losing his run for President. George W. Bush got his second term from 2005-2009, and life went on.

After Hillary Clinton‘s honorable stint as Secretary of State, John Kerry was appointed, and he’s doing a great job, best I can tell.

The Republicans have been brutal in their attacks on their former Senate colleague, and I think the main reason is that she is extraordinarily competent and well prepared for the most demanding office in the world.

They know she is, but they cannot admit it.

And all of us are stuck with Donald Trump, whose campaign is so untruthful it’s not safe to believe anything that he says….

It’s not long to the 2016 election. Vote and vote very well informed.

POSTNOTE: REMEMBERING A CAMPAIGN OPPORTUNITY WITH THE KERRY CAMPAIGN.

August 25 and 26, 2004, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to actually participate in ‘boots on the ground’ in the John Kerry campaign.

A small album can be viewed here: Kerry Mpls 8-25-2004001

Along with John Fitzsimons, a teacher in Anoka-Hennepin School District, I was assigned to a truck whose role was to carry press gear to the downtown Hilton Hotel when Mr. Kerry came to town for a campaign stop. It wasn’t flashy duty, and there was a lot of hurry up and far more waiting, but it really did give a unique view into the reality of campaigning for President.

My recollection is that we showed up for duty early in the day at the Executive Airport section of the Twin Cities airport. You don’t just show up for this kind of duty. Security is a concern.

We had earlier volunteered as part of Veterans for Kerry and were thoroughly vetted.

The photos show the nature of our duty: in the afternoon we loaded up the Press equipment that had come in with candidate Kerry, and joined the motorcade to downtown Minneapolis.

The next day we reversed the drill, and at the airport in the afternoon all of us had a chance to “press the flesh” with Mr. Kerry before he re-planed and left for his next stop.

Our task was very mundane, but as I think back on it, it was one of many unseen essential duties.

Apparently I wasn’t fired.

October 26, 2004, I was back on duty, driving some press people in the motorcade of John Edwards, vice-presidential candidate, to a morning event at the University of Minnesota.

The drill was the same as before.

Here, we drivers had an opportunity for a group photo, and I indulged myself in a “selfie” at some point in the morning.

Both candidates were most gracious.

Essentially three full days of work for myself and the others; and the candidates got a few column inches in the press, and a few seconds on the TV news.

Drivers for Edwards motorcade Oct. 26, 2004.  Dick Bernard 2nd from right

Drivers for Edwards motorcade Oct. 26, 2004. Dick Bernard 2nd from right

Dick Bernard selfie, October 26, 2004

Dick Bernard selfie, October 26, 2004

#1157 – Dick Bernard: Two Books Well Worth a Read: Shawn Otto’s “The War on Science”; and Lois Phillips Hudson’s “Unrestorable Habitat”

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Back in January a mysterious e-mail appeared in my in-box from someone named Cynthia. She had googled the name Lois Phillips Hudson to see if anything would come up, and found me. More on Mrs. Hudson’s book, “Unrestorable Habitat“, “below the fold”…

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A few months later came an invitation to hear Shawn Lawrence Otto read from his new book, The War On Science.

I know of Shawn’s past work, always first rate, and I bought the book, and it made my summer vacation book list.

I read, and learned a great deal from, both books.

They are, on the one hand, very different; but on the other, very similar. One is by an old lady written when she was my age range. Mrs. Hudson, is a retired college professor, quite obviously grieving the loss of her daughter to illness. She writes about the deep conflict she sees between today’s natural world and technology, compared with her youthful days in the midst of the worst of the Great Depression and World War II which followed.

(The retired college professor died before she finished her book, so one has to speculate on what her ending would be, but that actually contributes to the richness of her passionate expression of feelings on her past and present, and our future.)

The other book is by an author who painstakingly and expertly documents not only the very real “war on science”, but on other areas susceptible to manipulation of public opinion. Shawn Otto expertly reviews the problem, and then devotes much of the meat of the book to ways towards solutions.

SHAWN OTTO’S “THE WAR ON SCIENCE”

I highly recommend “The War on Science” to anyone with even a tiny bit of interest in topics like science, marketing, politics, and the incessant manipulation of personal and public opinion (propaganda) in our own country. Get to know the name “Edward Bernays”…. He enters the story by name at page 257.

You don’t need to be a scientist to understand the book, which is a very interesting history of science and its not always consistent position of esteem in our society (thus “war”); in addition, The War on Science is an equally interesting history of propaganda as it has been used in America especially related to marketing of products and ideas going back as far as WWI.

There is so much interesting and well argued information in the book that I would do a disservice by simply doing a once over in a review.

You need to read the book.

Best to take a look yourself. There are many formal reviews of the book at Amazon.com. One of them is mine.

You will see the book is being very well received.

Personally, I found “The War On Science” to be unusual in a couple of respects:
1. It nicks most everyone, including scientists, who get complacent and think they have found and can sit righteously on their own truth, as they define the term “Truth”. The book is heavily footnoted: 59 pages of sources.
2. Most importantly, fully 87 pages of the book discuss ideas for how individuals and groups in our society can move toward solutions to what seem intractable problems.

The War On Science is an excellent basis for book club discussion, as is Lois Phillips Hudson’s Unrestorable Habitat (following). Give both a serious look.

Unrestorable Habitat001

LOIS PHILLIPS HUDSON AND UNRESTORABLE HABITAT (continued)
A few days ago I was at a nearby park, completing “The War on Science“.

This day my phone rang, and on the line was long-time friend Nancy, from Hibbing, calling to comment on Unrestorable Habitat which I had sent her some months earlier and she had set aside and was just getting around to reading.

She had set it aside, but was finding it to be a marvelous book, a strong compliment coming from a retired teacher of English.

Unrestorable Habitat is one elderly woman’s reflections about her life, a certain huge business in her hometown of Redmond WA, some local fish, the loss of ability to imagine, and really, about all of us, everywhere in the so-called “developed world”.

Hudson’s book centers on an issue much on her mind as she grew older: the conflict she saw between salmon and big business in her town with lots of looks back at remembered pieces of richness flowing from her own very real hardships as a farm daughter during the worst of the Great Depression in North Dakota, then in Washington state, and forward into WWII in Washington. (She graduated from Redmond WA high school in 1945.)

Hudson died before she completed her book, but there is far more than sufficient “meat on the bones” to be published exactly as left by her: her opinions about post-9-11-01 contemporary U.S. society.

*

Some years back, I had blogged several times about aspects of Hudson’s 1962 well known book, “Bones of Plenty“, written about the worst of the Great Depression in rural North Dakota, and that is what Cynthia Anthony found in her random internet search. Cynthia, this mystery lady from New York, had become archivist for Mrs. Hudson’s papers, and asked permission to link my posts, “numbers 490, 495, and 565, which reference Lois Phillips Hudson” to her Lois Phillips Hudson Project, a website dedicated to preserving Ms Hudson’s rich but now basically unknown legacy.

It was Nancy who had earlier called my attention to “Bones of Plenty“; and now I was the one who had called Nancy’s attention to “Unrestorable Habitat“.

(Nancy had Mrs. Hudson as a teacher at North Dakota State University 50 years ago, and had vivid memories of her. She was a great teacher, Nancy said. She mentioned one quote by Hudson – at page 24 – that particularly caught her attention: “As..the mother of two daughters and the daughter of a father who frequently assured me that the brightest woman could never be as bright as your average man….” Unrestorable Habitat is peppered with such reflections.)

Once into Unrestorable Habitat, she found the book very interesting and thought-provoking.

Unrestorable Habitat so caught my attention that I purchased and distributed 100 copies, starting about 100 days ago.

Nancy was one of the recipients.

Here is the letter I enclosed with each book: Unrestorable Habitat

*

Let me leave it at that. “Unrestorable Habitat” is worth your time, as is “The War On Science“. Each can encourage you to “Do Something”.

The two books complement each other.

I hope you “take the bait”.

August 21, 2016

August 21, 2016

POSTNOTE:
1. Some readers might say, about “The War on Science“, that I don’t know enough about science to learn.
Not at all true. In my own review of the book (it’s probably the 22nd or so, link above) I acknowledge that I had virtually no science education in the tiny schools I attended growing up. My opportunities to know science were basically ad hoc, like watching Sputnik blink in the North Dakota night sky in 1957, or getting the Salk Vaccine not too long before. “The War On Science” is more than just a primer, but written to an audience who knows nothing about science. It is a learning tool in itself.

2. In the solutions section of “The War on Science“, Shawn Otto has a section entitled “Battle Plan 1: Do Something” (p. 371).

In her own way, Mrs. Hudson in Unrestorable Habitat was (I think) trying to begin a conversation: where can or should the new ways fit with the old, and complement, rather than compete with, each other? She wrote at least some of her draft on a laptop in a coffee shop, so what some might perceive as a rant against technology, at least part of her text was simplified because of the very technology she railed against.

There is room for conversation. She was Doing Something.

Earlier today I was at Mass at Basilica of St. Mary, and afterwards noted again the three trash containers downstairs (photo above).

This experiment goes back a couple of years, when my friend Donna and her committee got a small grant to get recyclable containers for use in the coffee area. They were Doing Something.

The experiment has never worked as it was supposed to. If one looks in the bins, there are admixtures of items, despite the verbiage on the containers. One can say it failed.

But I don’t agree. Who knows, among the hundreds of us who visit that area each Sunday, there is someone who gets an idea for use back home, maybe if only in their own home? Great ideas start with experiments that seem to fail. But to start them, someone has to “Do Something”.

#1152 – Dick Bernard: The Newspaper; Government by Twitter

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Those interested in why I very strongly support Hillary Clinton for President can read my post from Sunday here. The post includes several comments pro and con as well.

Personally, I always find the perspectives of Just Above Sunset informative. The latest is here.

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The Packing Crate, June 7, 2015

The Packing Crate, June 7, 2015

Dubuque paper001

Monday evening came one of those far too infrequent “faceoffs” (as Dad would say) with my cousin and her husband from Winnipeg. We had a too-short but animated visit over dinner in Edina, and covered lots of bases, a small part of which touched U.S. politics, which is a natural point of interest (and concern) for Canadians, who share thousands of miles of border with us.

My relatives, who grew up in the border area just north of the Minnesota/North Dakota border, still speak their native French as first language. At the same time, they are equally fluent in English, and have been dual citizens of the U.S. and Canada for years.

The conversation drifted to Ovila, my Dad’s first cousin, and my cousins father, born in the early 1900s.

How did Ovila learn English in the days before television, living on a farm in a section of Manitoba whose first language has always been French?

The answer to this question is complex, but as I recall, the newspaper was a primary vehicle, and as I recall from my own conversation with him years ago, catalogs, a primary source of information about goods for the farm. He self-taught himself English.

Ovila read every word of the newspaper, as did his neighbors. They were very well informed. Made no difference who wrote what, agree or not, it was consumed.

It caused me to think about my German grandparents, whose now-former farm has been my preoccupation for the last two or three years.

Being male, my focus was on Grandpa. Their country mailbox was full of paper: the weekly newspaper from LaMoure; the Jamestown and Fargo papers; the Farm Journal; catalogs; on an on. And they were religiously read. People like my Mom occasionally contributed a piece of poetry; I have articles Grandpa wrote soliciting membership in the fledgling Farmers Union in 1928. And on and on and on.

Last year, while going through the abundant detritus after my Uncle died, we looked through a well constructed coffin like packing crate obviously used to bring possessions to the North Dakota farm from Wisconsin when Grandma and Grandpa moved there in 1905 (see photos above, and following). Among the precious contents (at the time), Grandma’s wedding dress, and assorted ‘stuff’, then to be saved, now of little interest, except in passing.

The Packing Crate revealing its contents, May 24, 2015.

The Packing Crate revealing its contents, May 24, 2015.

In the box were two crumbling Dubuque newspapers, one in English; the other in my grandparents native German. Probably they had been delivered to the Wisconsin farm, and were handy when they were packing stuff for shipment to ‘Dakota. The articles in the English edition covered the waterfront (photo above); I’m sure the same was true for the German edition. What is certain, every page of each of these newspapers had seen many eyes. (Grandma and Grandpa married Feb. 28, 1905; he, his brother and his cousin came west first to build a house and such; Grandma came about six weeks later. The crate likely carried her belongings.)

Fast forward to today, August 3, 2016.

Those old newspapers, with readers whose education seldom was past 8th grade, were astonishing pieces of literature.

Today’s small town newspapers, like the LaMoure Chronicle, carry on the tradition of the past. They are a treasure to be savored.

But now we’re in the “Twitter Generation”: news by headline. I don’t need to define that any further. We can pick our own particular bias, and pretend that it is not only the only perspective that matters, but that it is the only perspective. We know that’s not true, but…. Our collective narrowness, made possible by infinite organs of “communication”, serve us ill. I think we know that, but it is easy to deny this reality.

Today far too many of us choose, freely, to be uninformed, EXCEPT to confirm our own biases. Our Elders had less means to receive and share communications, but in many ways they were much better informed and prepared to participate in a civil society than we are.

We are not at our best, these days: watch the political polemics. Hopefully we’ll survive our collective and intentional ignorance particularly of other points of view.

.

#1142 – Dick Bernard: The State Department E-mails, and a Personal Reflection Back

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

I write after FBI Director Comey has made his report on the Hillary Clinton e-mails a few hours ago. The assorted “spheres” will make of the report as they will, over, and over, and over, and over….

Permit me a moment to share a bit of historical perspective.

It happens that in the last few weeks I was tasked with writing an introduction to a near-1000 page publication entitled Chez Nous, whose contents will be 155 actual newsletters published by volunteers in a small organization in which I was long active, which existed between 1980 and 2002.

I had been volunteer editor of two thirds of these newsletters, and beginning about seven years ago I decided to make them potentially useful by creating an index of their contents. This required me to read every newsletter once again.

A few months ago a decision was made to publish the newsletters as part of the legitimate historical record of a time past, and here we are.

And so, an introduction (which quotes a few e-mails, by the way), was in order.

(For the curious, you can see and read everything here (click on the tab “library”, then on “Chez Nous”, then on the link to the newsletters.)

There are two sentences in the introduction to those newsletters which I wish to emphasize, and they are on page VI, as follows: “It wasn’t until Jan-Feb 1999 that an e-mail address appeared in the newsletter (p. 760)…We tend to forget how recently e-mail came to us common folks.”

It was 2009 when Hillary Clinton came to head the massive U.S. State Department with tens of thousands of employees world-wide. Some of these persons were originators of these now famous “e-mail chains” in which a few apparently “secrets” were referenced or revealed. Most, in a technology sense, were “common folks”, trying to figure out how to use this new way of communicating. My bet is that we can all tell our stories.

Of course, we commentators – all of us – will not know what these “secrets” were…they were, after all, secrets.

There is no need to invest more words. If you’ve read this far, you probably have already come to some conclusion about guilt or innocence of Secretary Clinton, or even if this whole business amounts to nothing at all.

It is part of history.

Six lines down from the statement I quote above, I say this: “Ten years in technology today is like 100 or more years in the older days. It can get confusing”.

Reflect on your own past with this technology thing, and remind others to do the same.

COMMENTS:
from Norm (himself a longtime and excellent volunteer newsletter editor):
Gees, Dick, and to keep things consistent with the predictable reactions to the FBI report on Hillary’s use of emails, are you sure that there wasn’t some sort of cover-up or whitewash in all of those emails that you have decided to index and categorize? Isn’t there a severe risk that upon reading and reviewing your compilations that someone will come forward with the claim that your purposely omitted some of them or “lost” some of them or put them into the wrong category?

I mean isn’t there a significant risk, Dick, that someone might claim…or perhaps a group could complain…that your indexing and compiling “clearly shows an obvious” North Dakota bias or something like that?

Gees, Dick, one or more of those disgruntled non-North Dakotans might even insist on a public investigation of your work to determine if such a bias exists as they, of course, are absolutely sure that it exists.

I mean, goodness, a feeling could develop or being suggested that there is always something with Bernard’s always good work that reflects that doggone North Dakota bias?

There isn’t a little Kenny Starr among those potential critics is there who would want to take such an investigation to the end no matter how much the cost, is there?

Just in an all out effort to trump your work, as it were?

Response to Norm: Egads! I’ll have to delete that blog before it causes me problems!

One of my worries, with the newsletter “book”, is inadvertently misstating a page number in the index, or missing a cross reference I should have caught. It does happen, of course, And finding it after it’s printed is too late.

I did the initial indexing, and some years later essentially re-indexed to fill in the blanks missed the first time (there were many such blanks). Even now, when I’m pretty sure I’ve caught most of them, I’m sure I’ll still find mistakes. But those 155 newsletters are more thoroughly indexed that, I bet, you’ll find anywhere!

As you know, as a newsletter editor yourself, mostly you’re so starved for news, that you take almost whatever comes in, fact-checking be damned. If you read my piece, when I was doing that newsletter for an ethnic group (French-Canadian) I gave priority to whatever came into my mailbox (and that was the U.S. mail, by the way), and, of course, like you, because I was editing something, I was always on the lookout for items which might be of interest to the readership.

One of my many “weaknesses”, I suppose, in these ideological purity days, is that I like to hear and share opposing points of view…so long as the writer identifies him or her self. This factors out those ridiculous “forward” that are anonymous and passed from e-box to e-box forever…and there will be a lot of those I can bet.

Thanks for the comment: I’ll add to the post.

Peter Barus: A Talk By Amy Goodman

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

NOTE: Peter is a longtime great friend from rural Vermont. He is an occasional and always welcome visitor at this space. On May 22, he had an opportunity to hear journalist Amy Goodman in Troy, New York. His comments follow, with his permission.

(click to enlarge)

Peter Barus, front row, left, Oct 23, 2002, Mastery Conference, Annandale MN.

Peter Barus, front row, left, Oct 23, 2002, Mastery Conference, Annandale MN.

Peter Barus:
May/22/2016

Amy Goodman spoke last night at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY, a lovely little old converted church. Arriving early, I strolled around the block in this economically by-passed neighborhood of old houses, grand old churches, and grinding poverty. A local church still retains its original Tiffany stained glass windows, and the Troy Music Hall is world-famous for extraordinary acoustics. I found that the Sanctuary for Independent Media is very active in the immediate community. At one end of the block is a little park, with an outdoor stage, built by (and commemorating) local artists, craftspeople and community groups. The back of the stage is a wall of intricate mosaic made by many hands. There was chicken being cooked for the $100 a plate dinner, and while I was standing around, a little car parked, and out stepped Amy, with two or three friends. We all walked around the little park while one of the Sanctuary’s leaders explained the history of this little patch of green in the city. There is a community garden at the other end of the block, and inside the Sanctuary is a 100-watt FM radio station that broadcasts Democracy Now! along with music and community affairs programming.

After supper Amy spoke to a packed house in the high-ceilinged former church. Soon everyone was listening as if sitting across the kitchen table with Amy, as she reported on the 100-city tour she is completing with her book.”Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America” by Amy Goodman, David Goodman, and Denis Moynihan. Her speech covered almost the last four decades of peace, justice, civil rights action, from an eye-witness perspective only she can provide. The connections, the people and events, touched my own life at more points than I’d ever realized. Her stories are moving and the raw truth of them is immediate and inspiring. They seem to have a common thread, of ordinary people acting in admirable and selfless ways, without a moment’s hesitation, in the face of systematic oppression, violence and injustice. And it seems that this is how human beings normally act in such circumstances – media depictions to the contrary notwithstanding.

One important message is that the media have almost no connection to direct human experience, and politics is covered in proportion to political ad revenues. Punditry demands no actual knowledge of the facts. This is why, for instance, we rarely hear what Sanders actually says, much less in his own voice. Instead we are treated to speculation about violent “followers”. This major Presidential candidate has been “vanished” from the airwaves. The night the Republicans ended up with a “presumptive nominee”, that individual got coverage of an empty podium at one of his mansions, captioned “to speak soon!” while his rivals’ concession speeches, some Hillary sound bites, and zero mention of Sanders droned on. Sanders was at that time addressing an audience of tens of thousands in Arizona, by far the largest actual news event, and the cameras were pointing at an empty platform.

Amy brought stories of a real and very large movement, the same one we are constantly told ended successfully when Obama was elected, It is the current generation’s Civil Rights movement. Occupy Wall Street is part of that, Black Lives Matter is part of that. The many anti-war demonstrations that go almost totally unreported are part of that. The Sanders campaign is part of that. And the real, and unreported, question today is whether the corporate media will manage to keep enough of us distracted, resigned, apathetic and cynical while the forces of blind capitalism complete the looting, militarization and ultimately the destruction of our only planet.

The corporate media are simply ignoring that ubiquitous and vital public conversation. The stakes seem high. As I listened to Amy speak, it became clear that it’s not about choosing “sides” in some mythical epic struggle between good and evil, war and peace, much less “Republicans” and “Democrats”; it’s about discovering one’s own commitment, and whether it is to mere personal avoidance of pain, or to aliveness and possibility for all people, everywhere. To climbing the mythical Ladder of Success, or being of some actual service in making a workable world while we’re in it together.

Amy Goodman is a walking demand that we struggle with this question, for ourselves. Get with “people like us, and not like us,” she says, and express your own experience honestly, and listen honestly to theirs. Instead of accepting the false dichotomies and slogans and polls, endless polls, that pour out of the media echo chamber, take your part in the conversation that matters.

Peter

COMMENT:
from Dick:
Great post from Peter. I most resonate with the last paragraph.

Each time I hear the conversation about who has the power I think back to a thirty years ago talk, about 1987, about “Referent Power” – how much we have, and how ineffectively the left uses it. Referent Power? Here. Scroll down a little ways. Developing positive relationships with someone who sees some things differently is crucial to making positive change. Relationships are not easy. They are crucial.

#1132- Dick Bernard: The Spymasters, and related.

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Last night we watched what I’d consider a must-watch two hour special on CBS’ 48 Hours: “The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs“. If you missed it, I think you can watch it on-line here. Ordinarily these are shown free for a very limited amount of time.

Succinctly, we live in a complicated world. The constant effort, on all sides, is to try to reduce everything to the simplest of terms. If you watch this program reflectively, rather than strictly judgmentally, it will cause you to think.

Towards the end of the program we were reminded that in the 15 years since 9-11-01 there have been 45 deaths due to terrorism in the United States (an average of three per year in our population of over 300,000,000); on the other hand, radical Islamic terrorism and its dangers have spread dramatically. We see this, of course, mostly in TV images of ISIS these days. But even here, there are only a limited number of merchants of terror.

Fear of Terror is exploitable, as we see most everyday in our political conversation. It is used to keep people psychologically on edge, by so doing keeping them more susceptible to manipulation.

Back in the winter of 2016, I set about trying to define a bit how the face of war has changed. It exists in this single page graphic: War Deaths U.S.002.

Here is the same data pictorially (click to enlarge).

Human Cost of War001

We are in a time of change, and in my opinion it is change for the better, though we will never rid the planet of evil. And the nature of news – we see it every single day – is to focus on the tragedies, the evil, the polarization of one person, one group, against another.

But a shift is happening.

By no means is it obvious, but it is happening. People of good will, which is the vast majority of us, simply have to take the bait and be, as Gandhi said so clearly, “the change we wish to see in the world”. But to do this we need to change our own behaviors, so easily leveraged by those who seek to elevate war above peace for their own reasons.

For one instance, yesterdays e-mail brought a rather remarkable commentary from a long-time peace activist in Israel, Uri Avnery. Avnery is a 92-year Israeli Jew with credentials. His comments are, I feel, pretty remarkable. You can read that here.

I thought the e-mail fascinating, and sent it to our near 90-year old friend, who grew up in a largely Catholic town in Nazi Germany and still has many relatives and contacts in her home country.

Her response: “The email on Uri Avery’s Observations gives insights to what is going on in Israel.

I believe it was Bastian, my German relative, who sometime ago remarked about the great number of Jews from Israel that come to Germany, want to live there, and seek German citizenship. Bastian stated also that these new immigrants could not live any longer with what was going on in Israel.

I was doubtful, I thought they may have been drawn by the free education and the lack of inflation that is taking place in Israel.

I went on the internet tonight and checked Jews moving back to Germany and I got quite a choice. To me surprising and interesting.

My niece Manuela … is most outspoken and angry about the fact that Germany is still paying Israel 3 billion a year for the Holocaust. She says, “My generation wasn’t even born when that took place. The young Jews that come here like us, so let it rest. There are enough monuments here — we will never forget.”

Israel should think about what it is doing to the Palestinians. As long as they take the land and freedom from the Palestinians there will never be peace.”

#1115 – Dick Bernard: A Sad First Day of Spring, 13 years ago. The Day the Bombs Fell on Baghdad.

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

A few days ago a good friend, Barry, sent some of his friends, including myself, a brief e-mail: “This week on March 20 marks the 13th anniversary of our invasion of Iraq. I encourage you all to send of letters to the editor and remind folks what a fiasco that was and continues to be. I have attached my own short article [see end of this post].”

Barry has far more than “paid his dues”: he’s a Vietnam vet who knew people whose names are on the memorial wall. He has walked the talk for peace, visibly and publicly for years. A thirteenth anniversary is an anniversary easily overlooked. I’m glad Barry reminded me.

March 20, 2003 (it was a Thursday) began our invasion of Iraq. Some would correctly contend that March 20 was simply a continuation of the brief Gulf War of early 1991. I still have the letter some anonymous GI wrote from the front at the end of that War. (Back then letters to GIs were encouraged, and my “pen pal” then, must have passed my letter to him along to someone somewhere in Iraq. The letter, 25 years ago, says it all about the reality of peace through war.)

(click to enlarge)

Letter from Iraq Mar 9 1991

Letter from Iraq Mar 9 1991

A dozen years after this lonely GI wrote from the Iraq desert came what we witnessed between March 20 and May 1, 2003: what was called “Shock and Awe”.

On May 1, 2003, President George Bush gave his celebratory and still controversial Mission Accomplished speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln. We were led to believe that the Iraq War was over 40 days after it started; all that remained, we were told, were the candy and the flowers, the gifts to and from Iraqis for bringing “democracy” to Iraq….

Mission Accomplished, indeed.

*

I have my old e-mails from that awful time in history, Spring 2003, including a halfsheet post sent to friends on March 19, 2003 (#1 below).

And for some weeks now I have been putting together a single sheet of paper which I call “The Human Cost of War For The United States”. I wasn’t planning to roll out either one in connection with today, but Barry’s reminder is sadly appropriate.

I’d encourage Barry and everyone to print out those sheets and discuss their application to today.
1. The E-mail of March 19, 2003 (one half page): E-Mail March 19, 2003001 (At the time I wrote this, I was quite new to the Peace and Justice movement, and not a leader in any sense of the word: just a concerned citizen who routinely participated in protests.)
2. U.S. War Deaths from Civil War through March, 2016 (one page): War Deaths U.S.002
and
3. Here is a much longer piece of additional data for those with an interest: World and Historical Deaths from War and other anthropogenic disasters here. (The key columns are the first one, and the columns which give duration of the particular catastrophe.)

*

While, I realize that this topic of war is subject to endless argument, here are a few thoughts to help stir up conversations wherever you are….
4. Essentially war has ceased to be a cause of American deaths; and while we are “armed and dangerous” to an extreme degree, the amount of killing at our hands out in the world is proportionally very low compared with even our recent past (2003-2008). We are still, however, extremely comfortable with violence and too many reverence what they feel is our “power” and past “might” and glory. The slogan, “making America great again” celebrates the glory of War, of dominance.
5. The Iraq War turned out to be ruinous and near catastrophic in many ways for our country, not even to mention Iraq and the Middle East. We didn’t think, 13 years ago, that we were building ISIS from the ground up.
6. Back then in 2003 the word “Drones” was not part of the conversation – the way to go was to “bomb the hell out of ’em”, give ’em “Shock and Awe”; now Drones preoccupy. Drones will not disappear. Back in 2011 I encouraged my own peace movement to enter into a constructive conversation about Drones, generally. I don’t recall much buy-in for the conversation at the time, or since. John Rash in yesterdays Minneapolis Star Tribune called attention to a new film about the ethical aspects of Drones. I suspect we’ll take in that movie. I continue to support the idea of deep conversation and action to at minimum regulate the use of Drones in War.
7. Far too many in our American society are pre-occupied with protecting an obsession with our sacred guns, and similar. Paradoxically, we now directly kill far more of our own citizens by firearms, than we kill faceless others by bombs, but we seem to refuse to deal with this domestic issue.

*

8. I abhor war. Nonetheless I believe “war” will never be archaic. All we need to do is look at history (see the depressing data I linked in #3 above. There is always a new rogue, sometimes of our own making, who has fantasies of being in control. It never works, long term…but there are always the dreamers….
9. The ever-increasing wealth gap is a huge problem in all developed countries, but most of all in our own. This seeming out of control gap births conflict. The poor, and those for whom reasonable success is elusive, do not want to be rich; but they do wish to be able to survive with dignity. A saying I once heard applies: in the long run, even the selfish will pay for their own selfishness. It’s just a matter of time.
10. The United Nations is regularly vilified, even by the left, and, yes, the UN needs reform, but without the United Nations this world be in much worse shape. In many ways, the UN or its related organizations help keep an otherwise unstable human world from repeating the 20th century legacy of death and destruction especially before 1945.
11. As individuals or small groups we may seem to have little power, but as Margaret Mead so famously observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
12. Conversely, those who believe that they can take a pass on electing competent leaders at all levels of government, or even take a pass on voting at all, are foolish and short-sighted.

I could go on and on and on and on.

Have a good conversation. And have a great Spring.

Comments welcome, and will be printed unless there is a specific request not to print:
dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

*

Barry’s submission to the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Thirteenth Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

On the thirteenth anniversary of the US most recent invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, let us reflect on its costs. Just a few of which are: Thousands of US lives lost, Trillions of US dollars spent, anywhere from a Few Hundred Thousand to over a Million Iraqi civilians dead, totally destabilized the region, exploded sectarian tensions and led directly to the rising of Isis. Not to mention of course, it was all based on lies.

Let us remember too who voted for and supported this disaster, Hillary Clinton, while Bernie Sanders spoke out strongly against it. Do we really need another War President?

To Barry: Personally I strongly support Hillary Clinton for President. She has the experience to deal with the many great complexities the next President will have to confront in this nation, and in our world.

Your friend, in deep respect,
Dick Bernard

Viking News, Valley City (ND) State Teachers College, May 24, 1961

Viking News, Valley City (ND) State Teachers College, May 24, 1961

COMMENTS:
from Norm: Thanks Dick for your blog this morning. We are not reminded enough. And thanks for including your Collegiate Press piece. A wonderful second sentence.

I’m reading The Obama Doctrine by Jeffrey Goldberg in the current, April 2016, of The Atlantic which I was surprised the whole article came up online [You can read it] here.

I marked two paragraphs because they say so much for what Obama is about. Here they are:

The Atlantic April 2016
This was the moment the president believes he finally broke with what he calls, derisively, the “Washington playbook.”

“Where am I controversial? When it comes to the use of military power,” he said. “That is the source of the controversy. There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow. It’s a playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses. Where America is directly threatened, the playbook works. But the playbook can also be a trap that can lead to bad decisions. In the midst of an international challenge like Syria, you get judged harshly if you don’t follow the playbook, even if there are good reasons why it does not apply.”
===================================================
I first spoke with Obama about foreign policy when he was a U.S. senator, in 2006. At the time, I was familiar mainly with the text of a speech he had delivered four years earlier, at a Chicago antiwar rally. It was an unusual speech for an antiwar rally in that it was not antiwar; Obama, who was then an Illinois state senator, argued only against one specific and, at the time, still theoretical, war. “I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein,” he said. “He is a brutal man. A ruthless man … But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors.” He added, “I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.”

from Jim: I read your post with interest. You conclude with your support for Hilary Clinton. She of course voted for the invasion of Iraq. She was part of the debacle in Libya. She has come out against the Pacific trade deal, negotiated by the Obama administration and which I support. Mrs Clinton is an astute politician. Like her husband, she collects thousands for making speeches. When you review her tax returns, about the only charity she regularly contributes to is the Clinton foundation. At the caucuses, I supported Bernie Sanders. I sent $50 each to Bernie and Governor Kasich.

Response from Dick: Thanks for the comment.

To piggyback on your comment a bit: Hillary Clinton was, of course, U.S. Senator from New York at the time of 9-11-01. New York City was the epicenter of 9-11-01. I was always troubled by the fact that 94% of Americans de facto wanted war against somebody after 9-11-01. It was probably even higher in New York. That is a strong wind to buck.

The rest is part of the dilemma of decision making faced by an individual representing a powerful country in an extremely complex world. (BTW, if I could afford to have my own Foundation, I guess I’d be inclined to give preference to it in my donations). And as Secretary of State, representing one of 193 countries in the world, albeit the most powerful, there is not a single simple decision.

She has been under relentless attack for 25 years, and I think she’s more than capable of the position of President of the United States; still the Left piles on. I like Bernie, too, and he’s running a strong campaign, as Hillary did against Barack Obama in 2008 – up to almost the Democratic Convention.

Kasich? I think the more we learn about him, the less likeable he’ll be….

from Stephen: I really try to get along with everyone, peace at home and all that. Some times I can get so angry at even friends and family. Some one I love said to me peace through strength. It just took the wind out of my sails. I just said “ya”. If this e-mail had been in my head I would of said,”Strength maybe War no. Thanks for all you’ve done and do.

Love not War, Stephen

from Barry: I respect your opinion but I believe very strongly that there is the possibility for real change with Bernie (as I did with Obama) if for no other reason than getting corporate money out of our politics. Bernie has also already pushed Hillary to the left on many issues. He has been at this longer than Hillary and has been a voice for reason right along. He speaks his truth whatever it is even though it may not be popular or win him votes.

I read in Friday’s StarTribune Obama stating about Bernies authenticity that “folks say that Bush was authentic too, but authenticity does not make a good President.” Well I don’t know about you but it is certainly a quality I admire. Plus what does that say about Obama? Also he said that at “some point Bernie needs to step aside.” Well it seems to me that the race is not over yet

Your friend.

Response from Dick: Many thanks. The only reason I made the entry about politics, is in response to your comment about politics. I happen to like Bernie Sanders a lot, but I think if he gets the nomination (which is very unlikely) he’ll have as much chance as right winger Barry Goldwater had in 1964.

Most of what I have to say about Hillary is in response to Jim’s comment above.

As it happened, yesterday afternoon I watched her deal with the Libya issue in a one-on-one Town Hall Forum in Springfield IL, at the old state Capitol building. In Libya, she said, credibly, that among the many dilemmas she faced was the need to listen to concerns of allied nations, such as Europe and Egypt, who needed to have something done. And, of course, Libya’s leader, Qaddafi, had never been a knight in shining armor. Etc. She did well in her response.

At these high levels, every decision is wrong, from somebody’s point of view. This was Obama’s reality, too, and I think he knew it well on entering office. The best we can do is select someone who helps to make our nation and world a better place. I think that happened with Obama, and it will happen with Clinton.

#1089 – Dick Bernard: December 7, 2015, “War” to Peace: Changing the Conversation.

Monday, December 7th, 2015
Grandpa's Flag, 1957

Grandpa’s Flag, 1957

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.

Anyone who knows me, knows my Uncle Frank Bernard went down with the USS Arizona Dec 7, 1941.

A year ago, Dec. 7, 2014, was especially emotional. I was given an opportunity to speak publicly about my Uncle at the December 7 observance at Landmark Center in St. Paul.

The talk was easy to prepare – I know great deal about my Uncle’s life and death, and I have no trouble in front of people – but actually speaking the words was very emotional for me that day.

(My notes for that talk, and a few added photos can be seen here: Uncle Frank Dec 7 14001).

*

Fast forward to two days ago.

I noted the box labelled “Henry Bernard Artifacts” in the garage.

Henry, my Dad, died 18 years ago.

I hadn’t looked inside the box for years, and on a whim, Saturday, decided to take a look.

There were two artifacts: one an empty hand-made box, likely made by my Grandpa Bernard, Frank Bernard’s Dad.

The other was the flag (above) which covered Grandpa’s casket when he died in 1957. Grandpa Bernard earned his flag as a veteran of the Spanish-American War, 1898-99 in the Philippines. The flag, used but rarely, has 48 stars.

Grandpa died at 85, before Hawaii and Alaska entered the U.S. as states.

Henry Bernard, upper left, at Presidio San Francisco, Summer 1898; his future wife's cousin, Alfred Collette, is at lower right.

Henry Bernard, upper left, at Presidio San Francisco, Summer 1898; his future wife’s cousin, Alfred Collette, is at lower right.


*

Revisiting history.

We are headed for Hawaii on Dec. 17, and the first weekend we’ll take Grandson Ryan, 16, out to Pearl Harbor, and Uncle Frank’s tomb on the USS Arizona. I plan to take the flag along, symbolically bringing a family back together.

*

War to Peace, Changing the Conversation

My family, like many others, has “War” imprinted in its DNA. I can directly “trace” my own families history with war back 200 years, to the days of Napoleon’s dreams of conquering Europe and Russia. My relative who gives me my last name came to Quebec from France 285 years ago, likely connected with militia.

There are common elements to all wars; the uncommon element is that War is ever more deadly in each succeeding rendition.

We are not fighting with “swords” any more.

*

The 9-11-01 Generation

Our response to 9-11-01 brought our nation into a “war” mood, bringing us into what has become a permanent state of war…on “Terror”, with attempts to make that word synonymous with a major world religion.

But away from the media and political spotlight, something has been changing in our national mood, rarely public, but very evident.

You won’t see it on the news, but there seems a basically more rational response among our populace to tragedy. Rather than demanding more war, or more and deadlier guns to kill each other, hideously easy to acquire, and division as a default response to any disagreement, the vast majority of us, nationally, person to person, seem to be embracing decent relationships among peoples as the highest value.

*

A reality.

There will always be evil in our world, including among our own citizens.

Incidents, a Roseburg, Colorado Springs, San Bernardino, must be confronted.

But we don’t need to make things infinitely worse, as we’ve done after 9-11-01, in the process becoming birth parents, almost literally, to ISIS or whatever radical groups are called; and going insane over alleged “rights” to weaponize ourselves.

Collectively, everywhere, common citizens of the world seem to get this. But we can’t implement a firmer peace and more rational gun policy without working together towards them, including being willing to accept incremental improvements, rather than insisting on instant peacefulness.

Let’s learn from the endless series of mistakes that have led so many, combatants and civilians, to premature deaths and dislocation everywhere. Let’s deal with issues as issues.

*

Looking back to the day before 9-11-01

I close with a single sheet from a file of about 2000 sheets of paper generated by myself and others between the time of 9-11-01 and the end of November 2003*.

It is a simple family letter I wrote on September 10, 2001, the day before 9-11-01: Here it is: Sep 10, 2001001. It is nothing special, just a family letter on an ordinary day, the day before we chose a violent path.

Most of us have some memory of that day prior to “The War on Terror”. Why not take a moment to recall your own memories of that ordinary day in September, 2001, when life was going on without war. Here it is, again: Sep 10, 2001001

A better world is possible. It is up to us.

I wish us peace.

March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

Grandpa's flag, being raised at the Apartment Community, Our Lady of the Snow IL, Memorial Day, 1998.

Grandpa’s flag, being raised at the Apartment Community, Our Lady of the Snow IL, Memorial Day, 1998.

POSTNOTE:
1. President Obama’s Speech on Sunday Evening
2. A summary of 2016 Presidential candidates response to the speech.

* – The 2000 sheets referred to above are being submitted to the Minnesota Historical Society on Tuesday, as a hoped for addition to the archives of an important time in history.

#1086 – Dick Bernard: “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream…A Million Copies Made”

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
Lynn Elling, Sep 21, 2015, at Dedication of Minneapolis' Open Book as a Peace Site, sponsored by Minnesota Peace and Social Justice Writers Group

Lynn Elling, Sep 21, 2015, at Dedication of Minneapolis’ Open Book as a Peace Site, sponsored by Minnesota Peace and Social Justice Writers Group

Eight years ago – it was June of 2007 – I decided to drop in on the annual meeting of World Citizen, one of the member groups of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, of which I was then President.

During this meeting, an elderly man, Lynn Elling, who turned out to be the person who had founded World Citizen back in 1972, stood up and gave his 86-years young rendition of the peace anthem composed by songwriter Ed McCurdy, and made popular by John Denver, and many others: “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream”.

A couple of weeks later, at the annual meeting of another MAP member organization, Citizens for Global Solutions, Lynn and his wife, Donna, sat down at the same table as myself, and he “set the hook” (those who know him know what that’s all about – for others, he’s a retired salesman!). For eight years now, in varying ways, I’ve tried the impossible, to keep up with Lynn Elling*, WWII Navy officer and lifelong peace advocate.

Early in our acquaintance, I learned that in 1971, Lynn borrowed John Denver for a day, and John sang his song, and another, and talked about peace in our world, for the film Man’s Next Giant Leap, which can be watched here.

I write about this today, for a couple of reasons:

First, Lynn, now closer to 95 than 94, is being transferred to Presbyterian Homes in Bloomington (98th and Penn). A day or two ago, it looked like finis for my friend, but the “old bird”, as he describes himself, doesn’t accept invitations from Father Time readily. So, sometime in the next day or two, Lynn’s health permitting, his friend Ruhel Islam of Gandhi Mahal, Larry Long and myself, will go down and hear Lynn’s story, once again. (If you know Lynn, and plan to visit, call Presbyterian Homes first (952-948-3000); and plan a trip Dec 2 or later.)

We’ll all know that Lynn’s every Friday evening at Gandhi Mahal has probably ended, and it will be a bittersweet visit.

Either of us could pass on before Lynn – that’s how life goes, you know. But the odds are not in Lynn’s favorite in this race: he has a long head start.

He’s run a good race for a lot of years, and it’s getting to be time to move on.

The second reason, relates to Ed McCurdy’s simple but powerful song about A Million Copies….

At this moment in history, it is easy to be terminally depressed about the state of our world. All you need to do is to watch the TV “news”.

But there is a major climate conference going on in Paris which is serious business. Sure, far too late, but going on nonetheless.

And there are major initiatives going on, largely not covered by the “mainstream media” to deal positively with the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and the xenophobia that has gained currency in the current U.S. Presidential candidate contests.

The event of the week is the attempt of politicians to get political distance away from the horrific incidents at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Were it not so very sad, it would almost be funny to see the attempts to manipulate the story. If you’ve got the time, read a long summary here.

Here’s what my own Church newsletter had to say about the Syrian Refugees on Sunday: Basilica Refugees001. Places like Basilica of St. Mary take on these issues.

Then there’s the business of “a million copies made”.

When McCurdy wrote his song, “leadership” was considered to be “man’s work”, and getting signatures of a million men was a very, very tall order.

The song was a fantasy.

Today women and kids are far greater players in all ways in this world, with much more power, if they so choose. And the men, not in McCurdy’s room, have far more power as well.

Still it is far easier to click a box on a screen in favor, or against something; or just fall into hopeless mode. “I can’t do anything anyway, why bother?”

But as in McCurdy’s Dream, individual effort is what will, in the long term make the difference.

The future is not to be delegated.

If you can’t make a million copies, make one, or two, or twenty.

Do something beyond your comfort zone, and do it every day.

Dick Bernard, Ruhel Islam, Lynn Elling, Larry Long, December 2, 2015

Dick Bernard, Ruhel Islam, Lynn Elling, Larry Long, December 2, 2015

* – The website behind Lynns’ name, A Million Copies, is a tribute to two passionate advocates for Peace and Justice, Lynn Elling and Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg. It is in need of maintenance, but remains identical to when I put it on line in March, 2008.