Politics

...now browsing by category

 

#MeToo. Time for honest conversations…lots of them.

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sometime before she began first grade in about 1913 my Aunt Lucina got a Valentine from a young friend, Stella, who lived on a farm a couple of miles down the road in Henrietta township North Dakota.

(click to enlarge illustrations)

Valentine

Her friends Mom helped make this card for her daughter. Most likely it was delivered in person by horse and buggy. A year or so earlier, rural telephone (“two longs and a short”) had entered the vocabulary of these country neighbors, but in those days the phone was “party line” for everybody, and not for casual use. Stella was apparently missing her young friend down the road, my Aunt Lucina.

Valentine’s Day has a very long history. You can read about it here; (do a quick scroll to “Modern Times” for the more contemporary history.

All of the following are Valentine cards from the Busch farm in ND, which I had borrowed from Uncle Vince and Aunt Edithe, and scanned years ago. They were in a box, and I wrote a bit about them a dozen years ago. My post says there were 19 Valentine’s in the box. I scanned the nine you see here.

The remaining illustrations in this post are all from that same box, that same scan, just waiting for the appropriate time to see the light of day, albeit on a computer screen in 2018.

Valentine

Valentine

Valentine

Valentine

Valentine 1911

Valentine 1913

Valentine 1913

Valentine

POSTNOTE, “#MeToo”:
The following are my scattered/random comments as we wade through the swamp of #MeToo. #MeToo is about relationships of one sort or another gone awry. It has overtaken most everything else in the national conversation the last few months, but if you think about it, the high profile #MeToo’s are very few and very rare.

What follows are some personal unpolished thoughts out loud, hopefully to encourage other thoughts out loud, but mostly to encourage people of different genders, ages, points of view, to discuss together, in person, the “#MeToo” issue. There will be squirming and defensiveness, but the conversations are worth having, far better than the insanity we’re going through today.

I have relevant experience with this, beyond simply being a human being.

As a teacher union staff person from 1972-2000, I and my colleagues had plenty of experience with the “sex” issues of those days: accusations similar to todays, most in the area of inappropriate contact between student and teacher; often front-page news. They were also rare, mostly men were accused (but not all), and mostly there was provable guilt to some degree (but not always). There came to be instant and severe punishment: almost automatic loss of the license to teach.

There was an over-reaction by society generally, and by the teacher community. Some saw individual incidents as opportunities to tar the entire teaching profession, particularly the Unions (including myself) whose duty was to represent our members. At the height, my own union adopted a “no touch” rule for members to avoid problems. It made sense at the time, but was also crazy (such as the female kindergarten teacher afraid to help tie a kindergarten boys shoes).

“Innocent until proven guilty” was not part of the conversation. I’d say it was impossible to get a fair trial that ended with exoneration, or rehabilitation. Once charged, you were presumed to be guilty.

How little we have learned EXCEPT that “sex” has become a very useful political tool….

Fast forward to today, very, very briefly: Full disclosure: two of my personal heroes, Al Franken and Garrison Keillor, have been felled by the recent rounds of #MeToo. Again, once accused, convicted. The “whole truth” unnecessary; all that matters, the result. If you like the outcome against one person, be aware, another person you like, including yourself, may be next on the chopping block.

For some reason I kept the Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 Minneapolis Star Tribune, whose top of the front page headline was: “Most believe Franken’s accusers“, with subhead “But nearly half of voters say senator shouldn’t have stepped down.” This was a month after the first allegation against Franken was made, for something which occurred before he ran for U.S. Senate, an accusation accompanied by a single photograph suggesting…. Then came some other allegations, “anonymous”. Then the “court” of public opinion:

(click twice for additional enlargement)

We may as well dispense with hearings or courts or privacy: just take a poll and publicize it…the sample will render the verdict. This is a dangerous way to do things.

I did watch 60 Minutes Sunday night, the “#MeToo” topic was one of the segments. I’m sure you can still watch the segment on-line. Now we move, righteously, to kill sexual harassment. It is a wonderful idea. So was prohibition, and the move to eliminate abortions, or to keep slavery, or get rid of illegals…the lists of schemes to prohibit go on and on and on.

To #MeToo as an issue: I read, and I talk to people of other genders with possibly differing points of view…. “Sex” is a part of every one of our beings. It has a very long history. In our country, there is a fascination with sex, as practiced by someone else.

The objective must be to make things better, rather than to attempt to make things perfect.

Then there is our national moral and legal arbiter Donald Trump. While there is much talk about the sanctity of “due process”, including from me, there is no level playing field when it comes to Trump. It is hard to imagine that he will ever be found guilty of anything. He is a proven serial liar – nothing he says can be taken at face value, even in writing, most certainly not in court, and sexual harassment is generally a very personal deal, rarely public, subject to interpretation. He needs only to deny…and countersue.

Lots of people who should know better, say what he allegedly did happened long ago…we should get over it. (There is something of that mantra about Judge Roy Moore, whose incidents happened, they say, “40 years ago”.)

Trumps reputation as a very rich man is that he is one who can afford to, and does, counter-sue almost at every opportunity. If you have power and lots of money, you can buy much better “due process” justice than if you are poor or less powerful or one of those teachers I used to represent.

With Trump, we have what we deserve, and we’re probably stuck with it. Make it a learning opportunity.

A NEW FAVORITE BIBLE STORY comes via an evangelical guy who attends an every Saturday Bible Study one table away from me at coffee. There seems to be an intended public witness by the half dozen men who usually attend, all nice guys, and knowledgable.

Anyway, a few Saturdays ago one gentleman – likely a PhD and a very decent man from all indications – was saying he’d been at something or other and the speaker talked about the first two commands in the Bible: “have sex and eat“. It got a good laugh from the assembled Christians….

Comments are welcome, but probably this forum is not the best – engage with others where you live.

Happy Valentine’s Day. And Ash Wednesday, too.
dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom

COMMENTS:
From Norm: Those old valentines brought back many memories of my grade school days when we used to exchange them I school. As I recall, there was usually a box set-up in our home room that had been decorated by our creative peers with a slot on its top for us to insert the valentines that we had brought in.

The box would later be opened on or close to Valentine’s Day and its contents distributed with all of the be my valentine messages on them.

I can even recall a few valentines that had a small red sucker attached to them as well.

Thanks for bringing back those special memories, Dick.

from Jeff: I think you make a good point, and one often pointed out, that if you are able, you can buy more due process if you can afford it.

I think the #metoo is a good thing, but while he said she said isn’t always right, sometimes it is (Aziz Ansari)

The Process of Politics (Continued from Feb. 8)

Friday, February 9th, 2018

On occasion, my wordpress platform gets irritated and says “no more revisions”. Yesterdays “The Process of Politics” was an example. I don’t know why; it just dug in its heels and refused to allow me to insert these comments, which add to the conversation I began about the Precinct Caucus (the base of Minnesota political process) and politics generally. So, here are the comments, and yours are solicited: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

COMMENTS:
from Jeff: Was gone at meetings in St Cloud most of the day, so skipped this time. Glad to hear you went! I like the candidates I see… good candidate for the state rep here, she is an immigrant from Africa, looks very
Sharp, good story, and has good background… GOTV [Get out the Vote] as usual will be the crux, my district kind of takes in Western Burnsville and most of Savage… it tends to be a bit more conservative than rest of Burnsville.

from Norm: I attended my precinct caucus (Roseville-3) and had a very positive experience with it as well. There about 45 people who signed in and I think that most of them stayed for the entire session and not just until they had voted in the straw poll. We had 31-people interested in filling the 30 senate district convention delegate slots (2/24/18) and one of them….a late comer…volunteered to be an alternate. As such, there was no need to vote to select the delegates to the senate district convention.

On the other hand, a friend of mine was in the caucus of another precinct on the A side of SD42 who told me that 90 people signed in at his caucus with most of them staying for the entire session that went until 9:30. He told me that they had twice as many folks who wanted to be delegates as they had delegate slots allotted to them. He said that they all worked it out to the apparent satisfaction of everyone with folks dividing up amongst the delegate and alternate slots available.

As such, no voting was required nor was the use of the cumbersome and time consuming sub-caucus process.

On the other hand, I always find the names of the proposed sub-caucuses at senate district conventions to be interesting. Frequently, they appear to be nominated by a person who claims to be a life-long DFLer, i.e. my bias is that to some of them, life-long means since they registered for the convention but… who just never participated in the process but now wants to get involved. Further, he/she feels that persons with his/her background have been ignored by the DFL and it is sure as hell time for the party involved…and not just to send old party hacks to the convention.

I can see it now some of the caucuses that might be nominated based upon my long experience with the process, i.e. Left Handed Norwegians who Secretly Wear Suspenders and do not like lefse! or Right Handed Swedes who do not like egg coffee! or (fill in the blanks).

We had 6 or 7 resolutions introduced on a variety of issues including the one that I introduced on behalf of the Veteran’s Caucus relating to the requested replacement of 150-beds at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis. That number of beds had apparently been lost due to the renovation and remodeling of the facility that included making lots of single and double bed rooms in areas that previously included rooms with several beds in them. It passed unanimously with little fanfare.

The caucus night for SD42 was very well organized and everything went very smooth that I was aware of. Some local candidates and/or office holders did come by as interrupters as they were referred to but no statewide candidates. [A candidate for Governor] was in the hallway when we left the caucus following its adjournment. [The couple] had just gotten there after first stopping at another senate district precinct caucus site where [the candidate] had talked to more than 20-precincts.

You are absolutely right that everyone can participate in the caucus/convention process but very few do no matter what is done to make them more attractive, if you will, including a failed effort a few cycles ago to hold them on a Saturday morning on the assumption that it would draw more people due to convenience. It did not do that and the turnout may well have been less than it had been on Tuesdays.

Well intentioned but no connection to the reality of the busy Saturdays that folks have, especially those with children involved in kids activities.

Given the large tent that we all like to say that we gather under…everyone is welcome…I have long since concluded that the much heralded concern over underrepresented groups is cute and all but has little value. I am convinced based upon my long experience with the caucus process and observations made of it is that folks make the decision to be underrepresented and there is not really much over time that can be done to make them think otherwise.

My individual concern with the caucus system when it is used as the vehicle for party endorsement especially for state wide offices is that thanks to grass roots organizing and whatever, it often produces a candidate who does not have a chance in hell of winning the primary let alone the general election. In addition, many candidates including Dayton on three successful occasions, have gone directly to the primary on the correct assumption that the folks making the endorsement decision through the caucus process do not represent the voters at large let alone the DFL voters at large. The primary always provides the opportunity for the voters to make a mid-course correction if they do not agree with what the endorsement process has placed on the ballot.

Response from Dick: Good comment. I’ll add it to the comments section on the blog. The flaws of the system will never be fully corrected. They are only replaced by other flaws, in my opinion. But it beats the alternative. I will be watching how the “youngsters” do in SD53A. I was impressed with all of them. They are who we were 40 years ago!

Reply from Norm: I agree.

I now enjoy watching the younger folks, i.e. do their thing, that is, us as you said 40-years ago, and see and hear how they do things.

On the other hand, regardless of the age of the participants, I continue to have strong concerns regarding the use of the caucus/convention process to endorse candidates for statewide office (it is very good for local legislative contests) as I think that it very seldom produces a candidate who can win the primary let alone the general election.

Further, given that we are all under a big tent with strong passionate beliefs about this or that, we often find it difficult to get behind the endorsed candidate, i.e. the candidate who wins the primary, because we are miffed or feel slighted that our candidate who “obviously was the best candidate available” did not receive the endorsement.

As Wellstone said, when all do well we all do well or something to that effect. [“We all do better when we all do better.” See 8th paragraph.]

We are a coalition based party, Dick, and, as such, that means that the tent holds the seeds for great success in elections and public policy development when we all pull together. Unfortunately, the big tent also holds the seeds for our destruction and not well during elections resulting in our having to sit on the sidelines whining ain’t it awful because we cannot get together following passionate debates and discussions regarding the merits of this candidate or that candidate during passionate endorsement contests.

So, some of us sit on our hands and stay home or vote for the other party.

The Process of Politics.

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Tuesday was Precinct Caucus night in Minnesota. I attended mine. More on that below the Eagle. But first:

The response to the free preview week for new film, The World Is My Country, was gratifying. If you missed the film, or wish to watch it again, another week begins February 14 at World Beyond War. Look for details here, at February 14. Consider a financial donation to help complete the process for release of the film, here. People like ourselves make such projects possible.

(click to enlarge)

J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy, Jan. 18, 2018

And if you have even the slightest interest in Climate Change, regardless of your personal position on the issue, you’ll find J. Drake Hamilton’s talk to 37 of us three weeks ago to be very informing (photo above). Her topic, Next Steps on Deep Climate Action: How can Minnesota Lead. You can watch it here. J. had recently attending the Climate Change followup conference to Paris’ COP23 in Bonn Germany, Nov 2017, and her report was very interesting. Her interest is in engaging with people of varying points of view. She is Science Policy Director at highly respected Fresh Energy.

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Precinct Caucus

We in the United States live in a world of politics. Politics is something we love to hate. On the other hand, we are the people who make politics function…or not. Something of a personal mantra: we get what we deserve, local, state, national…. Nobody says we can’t get involved, but few do.

There were 21 of us in the caucus room for Precinct 5 on Tuesday night. Mostly we were within two miles of the high school where the meetings were held (a few came to sign in, and left, but were considered in attendance). We convened at 7 and we adjourned shortly after 8 p.m.

We seem to have been fairly typical in attendance: TV news reported about 30,000 attending the Democrat caucuses; perhaps 11,000 the Republican. The state results for Democrats and Republicans are here. There doubtless were smaller gatherings for other parties, but like most places, Democrats and Republicans end up being the only viable parties. There are about 4 million registered voters in Minnesota.

Simple math: with everyone welcome, and no one turned away, about 1% of eligible voters attended the Minnesota caucuses. 99% had better uses for their evening. From the ranks of the 1% will come the decision makers on candidates and party platforms for the months ahead. Lack of civic engagement is a self-imposed problem for the general electorate.

I don’t think Minnesota is atypical.

Along with routine mandatory business of a caucus, our main purposes on Tuesday were three: 1) to elect delegates to the March 10 Senate District Convention; 2) to consider policy resolutions for the party as proposed by those in attendance; 3) meet declared candidates for office who stopped by the room, and do a “straw poll” of who we preferred for Governor at this moment in time.

There were over 4,000 caucuses on Tuesday night, so we didn’t see any major candidates in our room.

I made a very brief statement in behalf of the gubernatorial candidate I am supporting, but by that point in the meeting the voting had already concluded. This was not a campaign stop.

I was gratified, and I said so to the group, that all three candidates for our open state legislator seat were young people (by my definition, people who appeared to be under 40 – two women and one man). We were a diverse bunch in our caucus room, as were the candidates who declared for office. I like that, a lot.

Everyone who wished will be able to attend the Senate District Convention as a delegate (March 10). Eight resolutions on a variety of issues were proposed and passed in our room, some with questions and very civil debate. They will all go forward to a committee that will sift and sort all proposed resolutions, as the process continues.

After the Senate District Conventions will come Congressional District, then Republican and Democrat State Conventions, as the 2018 election contests heat up.

The Practice of Politics:

Our precinct, like most, was like a friendly neighborhood gathering. We are “birds of a feather”, so to speak. But politics, even within political parties, is not bean-bag. There are three candidates for our seat in the Minnesota House. Only one of them will get the endorsement. Our “straw poll” for Governor listed five candidates. By the end of the State Convention only one will get the nod, and lest we forget, Gov. Dayton ran against the party endorsed candidate eight years ago…and won. Strange things can happen.

The practice of politics in a democracy has always been and probably will always be a matter of competition of ideas. We are in a new and much more dangerous era where competition (and bipartisan resolution) has been replaced by the practice of conquest and domination – winners and losers. We see it today, every day, in the national conversation. It is unhealthy, and destructive. Hopefully this unhealthy way of doing political business will collapse before our society does.

“Politics” and “Government” used to represent positive values in a democracy. This is no longer true. “Truth” is only what is necessary to win; and does not have to be true. Most recently, our President suggests that is is almost treasonous to not give him an ovation with each statement – a false validation. It is easy to feel crazy these days.

What we can do is to become well informed about all the candidates wishing to represent us; to support our preferred candidates with time, talent and money (very few people donate much to, especially, local candidates). If we dislike the scourge of big dark money in politics, the antidote has to be our own donations. We need to learn to be very skeptical of positioning against an opponent; similarly, sanctifying our own favorites. No one is as good, or bad, as they are portrayed. All successful candidates have to work with different constituencies with differing beliefs and priorities. In the long run, purists of every stripe are doomed to failure in a pluralistic society, as ours is.

There is no nirvana in politics. Neither does there need to be the disgusting nonsense we have been experiencing in this country in recent years.

There is much more to be said. Let’s start here!

The Precinct Caucus (and its variations)

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Tonight is Precinct Caucus night in Minnesota. Here’s the pertinent information from Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Every state has some kind of analogous activity. The caucus is the beginning of the process to elect the people who represent us, and where issues important to us first surface as individuals present rough-cut statements of priority to the vote of their fellow citizens in the room. Typically, sadly, there are only a few of us rattling around in a classroom. Everyone will be able to qualify to be a a delegate at the next level, the Senate District Convention on March 10.

Even among those who show up, not everyone will take the bait. But at least they showed up.

In about ten months we all have an opportunity to vote on the results of those caucuses – for candidates for local, state and national offices, each running on issues on which they think a majority of those actually voting will support. Then, typically, we settle back to become part of the audience to the bright shining points of light evident in a place that works; or, alternatively, to observing a continuing political train wreck.

Tonight at my caucus, at minimum I expect to see two young people stopping by, introducing themselves as possible nominees for state legislature, running for the seat from which the incumbent, Joann Ward, is retiring. Joann has been outstanding in her three terms.

I’d like to introduce the two people I know of who’ll (probably somewhat nervously) show up in my caucus room tonight: see Greta Bjerkness, also on Facebook; and Tou Xiong001.

Greta has already called me on the phone; Tou (pronounced “two”, stopped by here on a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon to drop off his flier. Both made excellent impressions, and between now and March 10 will be very hard work for both (and possibly others) who seek citizen endorsement to represent tens of thousands of us in the state legislature.

In the meantime, other citizens, people I know, have been sending around positions on issues of one kind or another, both here in Minnesota, and even other states. At every caucus, resolutions on issues will be proposed by citizens. It does not take long to realize that whomever is elected, wherever, asks for the difficult job representing everyone.

But the most important job of all is that of each of us as citizens.

What we are is truly who we elect. And it behooves us to be active and well informed.

POSTNOTE: in Sunday’s blog I introduced an excellent book for citizens. Its simple title, Soul of the Citizen. It is short stories about making a difference.

Soul of a Citizen“…the book is now 18 years old [but that makes] no difference at all. We all can make a difference. One of Loeb’s chapters was headed by this quote, from Dorothy Day: “People say, what is the sense of our small effort. They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time.”

“It Can’t Happen Here”

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

A week from today is Minnesota Precinct Caucus day. Here’s the pertinent information from Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. Attending your caucus is the crucial first step in getting politically engaged.

Three days remain in FREE FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING of “The World Is My Country”, To watch it go here. Sign in and enter your access code CGS2018. Experiencing problems? Go to PS section (#1), here.

*

Tonight is the State of the Union.

Typically, I write before such events, as I am, here. Tonight I will tune in, and watch the President, the reaction in the House, and the response following. I expect to see the inauthentic President at the podium, as opposed to the authentic smoke and mirrors twitter or campaign bombast and very dangerous President.

We shall see, in a few hours.

Then, in following months, and years, we’ll see what is really happening behind the scenes.

Reichmarshall Herman Goering, quoted in the 1947 book, Nuremberg Diary, by Gustave Gilbert p. 278, Farrar, Straus & Co., 1947. Gilbert was psychologist assigned to the Nazi prisoners on trial at Nuremberg.

Last night we had dinner with our friend, Annelee, the lady who wrote “War Child. Growing Up In Adolf Hitler’s Germany.” She was six years old when Hitler and the Nazis achieved political power.

I met Annelee when I read about and purchased War Child in 2003. We’ve gotten to know each other well over these many years. She lived how it was. At 92, she remembers.

This night I asked her to tell again of how Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933. It is really a very simple story: they came to power in a time of overwhelming poverty, humiliated by defeat in WWI.

Hitler and his Nazis promised a better day.

Their party got the largest number, but still a minority, of the votes in 1933, but was successful in achieving power and then control in Germany’s political system. They rapidly consolidated their political power, especially elections; as soon as possible made control of the public communications a key instrument of taking over minds. They promised and delivered on jobs, jobs, jobs: Constructing the autobahn, houses for the workers, and on and on. It became risky to exercise free political speech; essential to join the Party. Fatal to dissent.

It only took a few years, but by then it was too late for the Germans. It took many years to recover.

Long ago, I asked Annelee when the Germans realized it was all over. She said “1943” with no hesitation. The 1,000 year Third Reich was dead, in its early youth.

Reichmarshall Hermann Goering summed it up pretty well (photo above, click twice for detail). It speaks powerfully for itself. He was awaiting death at the Nuremberg trials when he expressed his opinion to American psychologist Gustave Gilbert. He was only 53 when he killed himself in his cell. (We tend to forget that our leaders are most often young.)

I first saw the Goering quotation in some e-mail or other after we invaded Iraq in 2003. I was skeptical about its authenticity, so skeptical that I went to the University of Minnesota Library, found the actual book, read it through till I found the quotation, then photocopied the actual page which I present above.

Is the U.S. in 2018 different than 1933 Germany? Yes, but barely. There are parallels to what happened then, in Germany, to what is happening now, in our own country. Our malignancy may even be worse…as we destroy ourselves from within. We are very easily played for fools by manipulation through media of all sorts.

“It can’t happen here”, as it happened in WWII Germany? It certainly can. And it will if we allow it to happen. What we’re seeing now is simply a variation on an old and failed playbook.

Get engaged.

An interesting read came my way, via a local Indivisible netword a couple of days ago: “Why Liberal Hearts Bleed and Conservatives Don’t”. Read it here

Overnight and relevant: Capturing the Flag

COMMENTS FOLLOW THE PHOTO

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

from Fred: Very insightful quote from Goering. I am impressed and grateful that you personally took the time track it to the original source. This particular statement was new to me. Its basic assumption is correct. I’m not knocking “the masses” anywhere in the world when saying individuals in great numbers can be convinced to take action that could threaten their lives. This has happened even in the more recent Good Wars—winners of conflicts are the only ones describing them this way—when a fairly well informed warrior class sallies forth into the valley of death and conquers.
People make decisions based on what they know to be true—how they come to that knowledge is, of course, the real issue.

from Mert: I have read Sinclair Lewis’ book and it seems very prophetic. It can happen here, and I wonder if we have gone too far down that road already to ever find our way back.

from Dick: I thought a while before adding this paragraph, above: “Is the U.S. in 2018 different than 1933 Germany? Yes, but barely. There are parallels to what happened then, in Germany, to what is happening now, in our own country. Our malignancy may even be worse…as we destroy ourselves from within. We are very easily played for fools by manipulation through media of all sorts.”

If one searches my writings at this space, and elsewhere, I’d mostly identify with two themes concerning politics and people generally: “Two Wolves”, and “Gratitude”. I caught them both in my Christmas blog on Dec. 22, 2017 (here).

We are ALL responsible for the manner and tone of our government at the federal, state and local level, and this includes who we select to make decisions which impact on our own lives, and the lives of everyone else.

This week, in my own Twin Cities, comes the ultimate in excess in our society: The Super Bowl, a celebration of by and for the Richest among us. And at the end there will be a “winner”, for an instant, and a celebration. The world that is the U.S. will virtually come to a standstill for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. The life of everyone whose life includes downtown Minneapolis is already interfered with.

64,000 fit in the U.S. Bank Stadium (everything seems to be an advertisement for Big Business these days). They say that there will be a million visitors to our town of 3 million – not plausible, but stated frequently. A troubled motel in our town, where there are occasional acts of violence, including a murder or two, is advertising rooms starting at $399 a night.

For the rest of us, life goes on. And we all are basically good people. But there is a hole in our lives, and that is how little attention we pay to maintaining our Democracy in this Republic called the United States of America.

The World Is My Country

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

PRE-NOTE Jan. 27: I watched the on-line version a few hours ago. Note PS in this post if you experience any difficulty with your computer. The on-line film is perfect quality. (Do watch all the way through the credits, and complete the evaluation found there.) Free through Feb. 1. My e-mail: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

*

It’s arrived! The free week on-line full length preview of “The World is my Country” begins Friday, January 26, through Thursday, February 1, 2018. To watch it go here, and sign in. Then enter your access code CGS2018.

You are welcome to share that special code with all your friends, on Facebook, Instagram or whatever. It can be played as many times as you want but only during the free week.

Not sure if you want to take the time to watch a movie? Then please take just 2 minutes to watch the short video about the standing ovation and excitement generated by the film when we showed it at the World Premiere at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International film festival: here

I have literally watched this film evolve over the past seven years since I learned of the project, and from the beginning I have been impressed with the rich and little known historical story the film tells, and its appeal to those from high school age to senior citizens. From the beginning I’ve been a volunteer champion for it. Give the film 84 minutes of your time this weekend. I think you’ll want to encourage others watch it as well between now and the end of the preview week February 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if you watch it a second time.

In my opinion, this is a film that is ideal to watch in a group setting, among people of varied ages and similar or differing points of view. It encourages reflection leading to rich, civil conversation. It is about past, present and future…and our role. It is not a “birds of a feather” presentation. Yes, it has a point of view, but open to differing interpretations, on serious contemporary local and global issues.

Yes, the film is “free”. But nothing is ever free – you know that. I’ve watched Arthur Kanegis, the director of the film, put over a decade of his life plus all his resources into making this film to save this important story from the dustbin of history. He’s making this preview available to you in the hopes that you’ll help sponsor it at more film festivals or hold your own mini-fest of films for a better world. Please consider making a voluntary donation to help pay for final licensing and related costs so that this film can play on public television stations and be publicly released. This is a film deserving to be seen now and for years to come. You are part of its future.

Here is a flier I put together which can be shared: The World Is My Country006

More information about this 84-minute film is here.

Comments/Questions? dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

Enjoy the show! (I’m quite certain you will.)

PS:
To show the film to your friends using your laptop and a projector or television:
1. Make sure your laptop has a strong WIFI signal to be able to stream the video without hesitating.
2. Connect your laptop to the TV or projector using an HDMI cable, description here.
(If you have an older laptop that lacks an HDMI port then ask a techie about other connection options)
3. Plug a good speaker into the headphone jack of your laptop or of the TV so you can have louder and clearer sound.
(you might have to use the “sound” control panel of your PC to choose if the sound goes right from the laptop or goes through the HDMI cable to the TV or projector.)
4. Enjoy! And invite everyone who watches to let the filmmakers know how they feel by filling out the survey here.

#45 at 1: Responding to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Sunday Jan 21 1 p.m. at Basilica of St. Mary Minneapolis MN, Refugee Stories: Refugee Stories002. Immigration data: A Case for Solidarity001

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I subscribe to the Washington Post (and New York Times). (Side comment: see the new flick, “The Post“, which we saw last weekend. Worth the time…mostly about the olden days, as in 1971….)

This mornings WaPo is full of commentary about #45’s first anniversary in office, which happens to coincide with the first day of the Government Shutdown, which doubtless you’ve heard about. I want to take a moment to respond to one column in today’s post by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, “I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway? I didn’t know who she was, either. So I did what I usually do, a google: here.

Three of my four children are older than she is, which is no problem for me. I’ve already told my kids that the future is in their generations hands, for good or ill. Mollie is apparently about 43, about the age of Teddy Roosevelt and John Kennedy when they were elected. (Donald Trump was the oldest at time of election of any President – 70 – to me, “just a kid”.)

I recommend a read of Mollie’s column, as a source of information. I do not support her conclusions.

Every since I’ve published this blog (since March, 2009) I’ve identified myself as stated at right: “Dick Bernard is a moderate pragmatic Democrat who speaks from his heart in matters of family, justice and peace.” I’m comfortable with that label. I’m not uncomfortable with occasionally being called “progressive” or even “socialist”, though those labels are often dispensed as if I’m something evil. I’m not, just someone who cares about this community which is called Planet Earth and everyone on it.

I say “planet” and not “country”, since “country” is much too limiting, and almost obsolete.

As things have evolved, it no longer fits to identify oneself as ruler of his “cave” (a contemporary term – living “off the grid”); or even “city-state”; or even increasingly large divisions of geography. From time to time appear rulers who think they can control, and sooner than later they are punished accordingly. Hitler tried for a 1,000 year Reich, and got about ten years. “States Righters” pine for the old days (which really never existed). Grover Norquist has had a pretty good run to date, with “drowning government in a bathtub” or words very much to that effect, for individual “freedoms” sake.. Make people despise their government, and success is closer….

Within the complexities of conversations involving over 7 billion people, there are some general worries that I have.

My greatest concern with the mindset of the Mollie’s of the World is the potential catastrophic problem of a minority (really a small minority) attempting to dominate and control the rest of the population through means we all have had an opportunity to notice.

We know about the efforts now ongoing to pack the federal courts with “conservative” judges whose terms go on for years and years and years.

Get the right judges, and you are more likely to get the right opinions far beyond the term of a Senator or Congress or President….

Similarly, in recent months I’ve heard more about serious efforts by some operating in the shadows to implement an interesting part of Article V of the U.S. Constitution, working state-by-state. The end-game is to remodel the Constitution to fit a particular bias, and thereby to control everyone else.

Article V? Here it is from the pages of a radical right wing “rule book” helpfully sent to me by someone I know (emphasis in the illustration is mine): (here’s the national archives version of the Constitution. Notice the notice you see when you open this page.)

(click to enlarge)

Article V of the U.S. Constitution

Leaders of the radical right have gotten close enough to control in sufficient states to be able to seriously talk about how a few people (out of we hundreds of millions) can amend the U.S. Constitution to fit their own wishes.

Here a serious discussion of that initiative to amend.

Pay attention. If you think it only matters who is President, or even who it is in the U.S. Senate or Congress, or you only need to cast an uninformed vote, think again. Every office is important. In Minnesota, you can begin by attending the Precinct Caucus on February 6, 2018.

If the minority view, which is Mollie’s, is to prevail, it will happen only because the rest of us are very sloppy.

The future is in all of our hands. WE are the U.S.

COMMENTS:
from David: I had read the Mollie Ziegler Hemingway piece in the Post. No one should be surprised that folks with conservative Republican leanings are happy with Trump. Although they might quibble with his style, they should be thrilled with his agenda, and, yes, his accomplishments. Gorsuch is only the most prominent. Rolling back regulations, passing the tax bill, and appointing conservative judges are all things that send waves of ecstasy through the right wing body politic. Trump’s style appeals to his hard-core base, his support for the conservative agenda appeals to mainstream Republicans.

Democrats seem to be taking a page from the Republican obstructionist playbook thinking that all they need to do is be anti-Trump and making it their number one goal to assure that he’s a one-term president. I’d rather see them learning from the recent Wisconsin 10th district senate special election where the Democrat Schachtner campaigned without mentioning Trump but focused on issues important to the electorate: employment, education, and the environment. Currently, national Democrats are shutting down the government over immigration issues. Important issues, yes, but Dems are in danger of sending the message that they are the party of identity politics.

from Dick: Understood. I have to try to simplify things, so I look at the reddest county I know, which voted 23% for Clinton, 69% for Trump and 5% for Johnson in Nov. 2016. In rough terms, that is about three to one. Out of four votes, three were for Trump. Based on that, its game over for Clinton (or like) forever. On the other hand, it would take a single person changing their vote to make the 3-1 into 2-2. Of course, about 40% of the eligible voters didn’t vote at all, which is not unusual. We don’t know how they stand.

Now, the fact of the matter is that the nation is essentially evenly split. In fact, Clinton won the popular vote, which Trump will not forget. There are endless variables, such as the ones you cite, and they are all factors to be taken into account.

The key variable is people actually on the court, contributing in the ways available to candidates, local, state and national; voting themselves; educating ourselves, and educating and encouraging others to vote well informed. Tip O’Neill famously said, “all politics is local”, and I think it is. Schachtner knew this in northwest WI, and apparently played it masterfully, regardless of outside money, ads, or etc. We are all local ourselves.

from Madeline, a post from two years ago, January, 2016. Very, very true.

from Harold (pseudonym) (who sends endless tirades – eight so far, today – from the farthest reaches of the far right): Your first mistake is to buy into two rags that present themselves as unbiased news sources! Wrong, they are two of the Democratic/Marxist proganda arms that can constantly put out fake news with the sources always named as unsubstantiated/unnamed. I would have thought that anyone that sees unmitigated bias for the sake of lack of a better topic to talk about than “overfeeding goldfish in Japan” or “the presidency of Donald Trump will implode the Stock Market” are as useful as the 95% certainty that Killery Clinton will be the first /next vagina in the W.H.

As I have mentioned in the past to you, you make the perfect SJW with your emotionally doing your thinking for a critical analysis of a Global agenda that your mind can’t seem to wrap around. Not only is your political views askew, but your inclination to still fall into the nonsense that having two illegitimen simultaneous Popes is what Christ wants in his halls of Luciferian pedophilia and child -sacrifice of the upper echelon of Vatican City curia and a Jesuit Black Pope who is bound to add his Globalist Cabal rhetoric to the masses of his congregation globally. The priesthood is in essence a save haven for gay men, many of them abused sexually themselves. How soon you forget that the Arch Bishop of Mpls/St. Paul had a good enough incentive to cover the wanton criminality of 100 innocent young boys, who like myself were molested by these predators. Continue with your Cognitive Dissonance Mr. Bernard and your unicorn misconceptions of reality. Maybe some day you will realize that just because you belong to a “group think mentality” of supportive self -righteous peace
apostles, doesn’t mean you don’t even see your soon to wane allegiance to the imploding Democratic-Progressive SJW Corporation global governance with a bit of Democracy, what’s left of it, in their agenda.

from Dick: I don’t block these, rather relegate them to junk. I pass this along as one of his occasional personal expressions of opinion.

from Christina, passed along from National Catholic Reporter: This was an article in the NCR–National Catholic Reporter.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote once, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It’s the congressional silence in the face of President Donald Trump’s unpresidential, international insult of black countries that is bothering me right now.

I haven’t been writing columns as much lately as I did before the 2016 presidential election — for lots of reasons. But one of the most salient of my concerns was that I wanted to call myself to all the objectivity about this new presidency that I could muster because I certainly had not voted for it. At the same time, I did not want to pile on.

I was actually censoring myself in the hope of coming to new insights about the current presidency that could help to bring the country together rather than divide it even more than it is.

But last week a line was crossed in my heart. It touches the way we deal with people. It touches our very integrity as a nation. It touches my understanding of what it is to send people to Congress on our behalf.

I believe that if we do not as a people say “Enough!” now, we will regret it for years.

To elect a racist, misogynist, street-corner-brawler as president is one thing. We knew what we were getting. We watched him perform unabated in the campaign. But the present situation is beyond defense.

Crude, rude and emotionally uncontrolled presidents are dangerous. They affect foreign policy, national welfare and international relations. As a result, a nation once thought to be the gold standard of governments, thanks to Trump, is now dealing with all three issues.

More than that, the Congress that reminds us regularly that they are a “coequal branch of government” is at least as much a factor at this turning point in American politics as the president.

It is difficult to decide which is worse: A president unworthy of the office or a Congress unworthy of their power and place in American society. A Congress that stands by meekly — silently — while the standards of the presidency and the character of the nation deteriorate from the top down also betray us.

Congress and its leaders say not an official word of public censure about the racism that has been exposed in relation to our immigration policies. The silence in this case is not virtue. By saying nothing about the racism that underlies the president’s attack on black countries, Congress abdicates its responsibility to the nature of American democracy.

The question, then, is what can you and I do to stop this slide to the bottom of the international pit?

Only the public can say a word now that can signal to the world that, at its root, America is still American in all its ideals and all its colors.

A censure is a military procedure used to publicly and officially address “conduct unbecoming an officer.” It is a public rebuke of the commander in chief that is halfway between opening impeachment proceedings and doing nothing at all.

If you want to be part of the voice that “Makes America America again”, contact Congress and call for censure.

By Sister Joan Chittister, Benedictine Sister from Erie, Pennsylvania.

from friend who prefers not to be named: Your statement “I’m not uncomfortable with occasionally being called “progressive” or even “socialist”, though those labels are often dispensed as if I’m something evil” caught my attention. It was those Progressives, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight D Eisenhower, that drew me to the GOP, a center right progressive party when I turned 18. I’m sure we have talked about the Southern Democrats and the transformation of the GOP from a progressive party into the dysfunctional conservative party it is today. Not sure there is any hope that intelligence will creep back into the GOP any time soon.

Martin Luther King, a look back to 1963…and forward.

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Free preview, inspirational film “The World is My Country”, January 26 – February 1. Details: To pre-register for the free week click here and spread the word. More here.
*
Today, I find myself wondering what Martin Luther King Jr. would be saying to us on his 89th birthday.

Ten or so years ago my friend, Lydia, sent me a small book which gave me some clues. The book was “Why We Can’t Wait”, by Martin Luther King Jr., about 1963, published just months after John Kennedy was assassinated. Dr. King was just 34 years old. 1963 was the year of the Letter from Birmingham Jail; and the “I Have a Dream” speech on the Washington D.C. Mall.

The book is still in print, and well worth a read.

Even at only 34, by 1963, King was a veteran as a leader in a difficult and indeed dangerous struggle. He was already a national figure, known to U.S. presidents (a chapter is devoted to the political process, with people like Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson mentioned specifically.)

Being a leader was not easy. King’s was a lonely job.

It’s been a long while since I read that book, page by page.

What I think was on King’s mind back then in 1963 was that it took more than one person to make a difference in civil rights or anything else. That everybody had an important role to play. That leaders faced difficult decision making, agree or disagree.

May we all take our own leadership role in the days, months and years ahead.

As Gandhi so famously said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
*
Check in on that preview full-length film mentioned at the beginning of this post, “The World Is My Country”. You’ll find it inspiring.

Peter Barus: The Great and Terrible Oz Does Another Lucy

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

My long-time friend, Peter Barus, lives in rural northeast U.S. and has a gift for thought-filled writing.

Here is a recent post, passed along here at Peter’s request.

It’s been awhile since he’s written here, his attention on a book in preparation. Great to see him back.

Take a look.

Peter’s comment about Oprah’s recent comments at the Golden Globes: “Interesting, what Oprah said about Rosa Parks; it was many years before anybody seemed to learn about her career as a Civil Rights activist, and not just a cleaning-lady who was tired that day. Even back then, Attention was being recognized as a nexus of power. It lacked the technological reach in which we are now immersed, and the battleground has moved now, and most of us don’t seem to understand.”

POSTNOTE: Twelve days to the free week on-line access to the film “The World Is My Country”. Don’t miss out. More information and registration for pass code here.

Oprah, and N. and S. Korea.

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

In the last 24 hours came two separate and remarkable items of breaking news from the New York Times.

The first was Oprah Winfrey’s statement at the Golden Globes relating to relationships between men and women.

The second about 24 hours later from Panmunjon, Korea, about relationships between nations.

Oprah: To be as clear as I can be: my enthusiasm is not about Oprah Winfrey possibly running for U.S. President, though her personal history is immensely impressive. Rather, her speech Sunday night was about relationships.

N. Korea: Similarly, the action in Panmunjon between North and South Korea I view very similarly. It is about changing a conversation between nations from enmity and bombs to something else. I noted the conversation appeared not to involve the United States.

The Korea’s, and the Golden Globes speech, are calls to every one of us to get involved in the conversation. These are not about her or them. It is about us, all of us, continuing to strive for the community that is all of us..

NY Times bulletins disappear of course; some cannot access them at all. At the end of this post is the text of what Oprah Winfrey said Sunday night. The N. and S. Korea meeting should be routine diplomacy between nations, rather than an international piece of breaking news….

My personal mantra for many years, learned on the fly, has been the need for balance (the eagle, once again). A system does not succeed by careening from “side” to “side” (a dysfunctional eagle is a dead eagle); nor does a system built on a winner with lots of losers succeed either. A healthy system needs balance.

There is much more to be said, perhaps later additions to this post. Why not begin with Oprah and the Korea’s?

*

On the topic of N. Korea, a couple of months ago I heard an interesting talk by a retired man, not an expert, who simply had an interest in the Korean peninsula. If you’re interested in what an ordinary man seeking to be well informed had to say, you can watch Jay Kvale here.

Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes:
Ah! Thank you. Thank you all. O.K., O.K. Thank you, Reese. In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black. And I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. And I’ve tried many, many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl — a kid watching from the cheap seats, as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation’s in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field”: “Amen, amen. Amen, amen.” In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille Award right here at the Golden Globes, and it is not lost on me that at this moment there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.

It is an honor, and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them, and also with the incredible men and women who’ve inspired me, who’ve challenged me, who’ve sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson, who took a chance on me for “A.M. Chicago”; Quincy Jones, who saw me on that show and said to Steven Spielberg, “Yes, she is Sophia in ‘The Color Purple’”; Gayle, who’s been the definition of what a friend is; and Stedman, who’s been my rock — just a few to name. I’d like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, because we all know that the press is under siege these days.

But we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. To tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before, as we try to navigate these complicated times. Which brings me to this: What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. And this year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.

So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they — like my mother — had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farmworkers; they are working in factories and they work in restaurants, and they’re in academia and engineering and medicine and science; they’re part of the world of tech and politics and business; they’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.

And they’re someone else: Recy Taylor, a name I know and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and a mother. She was just walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Ala., when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road, coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the N.A.A.C.P., where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice. But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.

And I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth — like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented — goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’s heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery. And it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man — every man — who chooses to listen. In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome. And I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning — even during our darkest nights.

So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again. Thank you.”