Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford

I am posting this before the Senate Judiciary Committee casts their vote.

My parents were good about keeping things, and I’ve followed the tradition.  So it was easy to find my First Grade Report Card for St. Elizabeth’s School in 1946-47.  Here is part of Sr. Mary’s report:

I did pretty well that year.  A’s, except for Bs in Penmanship and Art.  The following 71 years haven’t changed much, at least in penmanship and art….

Deportment“, of course, is conduct.  It’s probably a Catholic word, as its root is Latin.  It seems a good place to start this piece, since Brett Kavanaugh possibly had a Catholic education, similar to mine.


I watched only parts of the Senate Judiciary Committee gathering yesterday.  It wasn’t a hearing, that is for certain.  It will be, and should be, discussed for many years to follow.

My brief comments flow from my own education and experience.  The last 27 years of my work career I represented school teachers. I was one of about 40 of us with a similar job in my state, so we had ample opportunities to learn about issues we were dealing with, and help advise each other.  We all worked constantly with, around and against lawyers and we got to know the Law and Contracts very well.  Since our work was with people, we saw clients every day.  During a part of my career, in the 1980s, came increased attention to allegations of sex abuse against teachers.  We were usually the ‘first call’ from someone accused.

I have been very open about my own feelings about the topic which is at the core of Kavanaugh/Blesey Ford.  My own “script” has a rather long history:   In my own career representing members of a profession with several million members, the number of abuse incidents were rare, but always front page news, with a presumption of guilt of the perpetrator by most everyone.

Most of those charged were guilty, but not all.  Rarely did even an obviously innocent person make a legal challenge.  The damage had been done.  Each charge left the entire profession of teaching with a black eye.

So, in watching this affair unfold I have been most struck by the obvious fear of evidence by the promoters of Kavanaugh’s candidacy.

But beyond that, I was not prepared for the horrid deportment of Kavanaugh in the Senate Judiciary meeting room yesterday.  His was not the protestation of an innocent man.  Nor were his handlers approaching this matter with pure intention.

This was a “show trial” for a certain constituency.


September 26 a reader of my Justice post sent me a note whose topic line was: “What did Jesus mean when He said, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone”?”  (Her entire comment is at the end of that post.)

I sent a brief response to her, including a letter I had written to then Sen. Joe Lieberman on Sep. 7, 1998.  The topic, then, was the Bill Clinton matter.  And I especially noted my letter to the editor at the time.  You can read it here: Clinton Lieberman 1998001

Yesterdays post  was several hours before Senate Judiciary convened.  Today I refer everyone to the Otto Sotnak letter which was also included in the 1998 letter, as follows: “Thirty-seven years as a Lutheran minister taught me much about the dark side of human nature.  For example, I learned that everyone has secrets they would rather not disclose.  Moreover, in counseling I learned that whenever a client’s defenses and denials increased it signaled that we were getting dangerously close to the truth.”

Personal opinion: I think the truth has been outed.

Shortly we will see how this plays out for Brett Kavanaugh.

POSTNOTE:  Donald Trump is not much of a moral arbiter in this case.  He has abundant baggage of his own.  My belief is that the only reason he has not yet been sued is that he’s wealthy, with a habit of countersuing; or buying off potential litigants….

POSTNOTE 2: Have I been an “A” student my whole life?  Plenty of people get this post, and doubtless they’ll straighten me out if I get very uppity.  I’m not looking for any lifetime appointment to in effect control other people’s lives, either.

POSTNOTE 3: I highly recommend Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9.  For those who instinctively dislike Michael Moore or perceive his politics a certain way, this is an equal opportunity criticism of all of us, whatever our ideology or activity.  It will hold your attention.

COMMENTS Sat Sep 29: – The overnight Just Above Sunset, Making Rage Moot, is an excellent summary of Friday events.  You can read it here.

Justice. Judging. Judge.

If you’ve read this far, you know the name “Kavanaugh” and have an opinion.  A personal observation:

Duluth MN, Park Hill Cemetery, October 26, 1991

October 26, 1991 – it was five days before the Halloween Blizzard – found me at a cemetery in Duluth MN, attending a very moving event commemorating the death of three men who had been lynched in downtown Duluth in 1920 and had been buried in unmarked and long unknown graves at the cemetery.  (The graves are beneath the tent in the above photo.)

All of the circumstances of this long ago lynching can be read at the Minnesota Historical Society website, here.  “Kavanaugh” brought this long ago memory to the surface for me.

I hope you take the time to  read the timeline, and consider it in context with current events in our nations Capitol.

“Kavanaugh” and “Duluth 1920” are, in many ways, similar, but can also be viewed in many ways, depending on how one chooses to interpret them.

In my opinion, “Kavanaugh” and “Duluth 1920” are all about “Justice.  Judging.  Judge” – or lack of same – as viewed by our far from ideal society.  “Kavanaugh” will be a demonstration of how much America has changed – or not – in the last 100 years and more.


I submitted a brief letter to the editor of the Minneapolis paper on this issue on Monday.  It has not been printed.  My letter, too, can be open to interpretation.

The letter will probably not see the light of day.  Here it is, if you wish.  The referenced Rachel Moran column is well worth your time.

“Attorney Rachel Moran’s column (“If Brett Kavanaugh were 17 today…” Sep 23) brings a memory to mind.

October 26, 1991, I was privileged to be part of a small group of citizens who gathered at Park Hill Cemetery in Duluth to recognize three black men, buried in unmarked graves, who had died June 15, 1920, lynched at the hands of a mob in downtown Duluth.
The allegation: the assault of a white woman by the three negroes.  (all details here.)  From the Minnesota Historical Society files: “It would later prove to be an unlikely story. Compelling evidence asserted no rape ever took place.”  A mob ruled.
Rachel Moran fills in some crucial blanks for readers about how life is today for others less privileged.
One wonders what the narrative would be if all the facts and allegations as currently exist in Kavanaugh were identical, except for the color of the skin and the social status of the males involved.”  

POSTNOTE: My previous commentary on this topic is here.

from Lois: Random thoughts in response to your blog:

One of the first things we heard was regarding support of Kavanaugh by the two political parties, for the most part by party lines which revealed a type of mob behavior.   The same type of analysis seems to be the norm now that the accusation of alleged attempted rape has been made.    This all brings me back to recalling my teenage years, the action of us at parties and on dates – the peer pressure, etc.  and I wonder how much value should be placed on teenage behavior vs. accomplishments of people once the maturity of the 20’s is reached.

Premeditation seems to be lacking in a lot of crimminal judgements, just as it is of intended vote for or against Kavanaugh before the hearings.

I cannot think of any other event in the past that has brought so many issues to be thought about than the Kavanaugh nomination.

This has led me to find info (link below) about what the bible comments are on the subject.  I also thought if any member of Congress is under the same scrutiny and without sin as our Supreme Court justice nominees are, who are only expected to judge on the laws that Congress passes – good, bad or indifferent.

Thank you for sharing the article

from Bill: I am amazed at your blindness!!!  How can Obama  go down as the greatest President??  He appointed Crooked Hillary as head of State Dept.  They corrupted the FBI: CIA and Dept. of Justice!!    America was very close to Monarchy!!!  But,   GOD stepped in and changed minds of people to vote for TRUMP!!            GOD IS TRUTH!!  You need to open the BIBLE and find out what is TRUTH!!  Your day and my day will come before we stand before GOD and answer to our sins!! You  and I are responsible for how we treat our neighbors and who we support in elections.  If, you and I support immoral candidates who have no conscience and support to kill innocent babies—-we are responsible for that vote!!!  God will hold us accountable!!  What did you and I do to prevent such killings!!  TRUTH IS IN BIBLE.  Read and study the BIBLE (TRUTH) and you will be making better decisions!!

Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 11/9

Postcard from the Busch farm, July 10, 1911

We went to Fahrenheit 11/9 this afternoon at our neighborhood theater in Woodbury.

Absolutely, see it.  Likely Fahrenheit 11/9 is playing at a theater near you, and I think it is already available on-line.

It nicks everyone, not the least, the 100,000,000 people who chose not to vote at all in 2016.

President Obama doesn’t escape unscathed….

A few personal thoughts “below the fold”:


I’ve been a fan of Michael Moore since Roger and Me (1989).  The year before Bowling for Columbine was released in 2002 we saw a 20 minute preview segment of that film, introduced by Michael Moore himself.  That winter evening, he was an hour late.  Still, there was so much interest that they filled the large church a second time.

I think I’ve seen all of the Michael Moore films.  Fahrenheit 11/9 is the best of the lot.  I didn’t know how my wife would react.  She had the same response as I.  The film grabbed us and held on.  You could hear a pin drop in the theater.

There is a villain in the film and it is every one of us.  There is also a hero in the film: potentially it is also every one of us.  We are the government we respect…or revile.

I was looking for “over the top” moments – I was most nervous about what I’d heard about the comparison with Nazi Germany.  What comparison there was in the film – and there were and are direct comparisons – were highly appropriate.  We are, after all, theoretically a democracy, and the people ultimately bear responsibility for the people we elect, and the decisions our elected leaders make.

We are, I feel, too much a nation of “me” folks, demanding what we want – our personal priorities.  We deserve our fate.  Our future, long term, is not bright if we stay the present course.

We must be a nation of US, as in collective “we”.

Since our leaders are elected by ourselves.  Who votes for them, or for their opponent, or who doesn’t vote at all for any reason, makes a huge difference.  If we end up with tyranny, we are the ones who so decide that course.

Far too much, Trump has become the face and voice and attitude of America to everyone, everywhere.

Fahrenheit 11/9 gives a great deal to think about.  The film was not entertainment, it was education.

See Fahrenheit 11/9.  Do yourself a favor.

And ask yourself, what does this say to me about my own role in this country of ours?

To Women, Young People, People of Color

About the only thing I can urge is that women and young people and persons of color pay very close attention to the Kavanaugh hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Here are the players for the U.S. Senate (The links to their bios are all wikipedia.)  I have added the ages of the listed individuals.  Which group, Republican or Democrat, most reflects the “America” in which you live?

Chuck Grassley (R-IA, Chair) – 85

Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – 84

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – 63

John Cornyn (R-TX) – 66

Mike Lee (R- UT) – 48

Ted Cruz (R-TX) – 47

Benjamin Sasse (R-NE) – 46

Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – 55

Mike Crapo (R-ID) – 67

Thom Tillis (R-NC) – 58

John Kennedy (R-LA) – 67


Diane Feinstein (D-CA Ranking Member) – 85

Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – 78

Dick Durbin (D-IL) – 73

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) – 62

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) – 58

Christopher Coons (D-NE) – 55

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) – 72

Mazie Hirono (D-HI) – 70

Cory Booker (D-NJ) – 49

Kamala Harris D-CA – 53


Mitch McConnell (R-KY Senate Majority Leader) – 73


Anyone who has been following the rush to pack the Courts with “conservatives” will be familiar with the above, the decision makers about Kavanaugh, et al.  The simple numbers: 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats on the Committee.  All the Republicans are white men; 5 of the ten Democrats are white men.  The Republicans will likely not back down.  They are up by a single vote in the Senate.  In this polarized environment, one vote is an immense margin.

This is the political party which rails against government, but loves that same government, so long as it can control the outcomes.  Welcome to Election 2018.

Of course, I have feelings:  I’m part of the class which the “conservatives” would love to see as permanently disempowered.  That, I would submit, is their greatest weakness, ultimately their fatal flaw.  Divided we fail.  My favorite symbol is an eagle, which cannot fly without both wings working together.  How can a political eagle be any different?

“Messenger of Peace” – Eagle at MN Landscape Arboretum, Chanhassen MN Oct 2008.


Anyone who has spent much time around the Law – I spent most of my career in very close proximity to assorted kinds of Law and their application – learns quickly that whoever enacts the laws and who then interprets those laws must be on a constant quest to stay on top; to be in control.  Of course, as in the natural world, thus who are on top are constantly threatened with losing.  A “win-lose” society, as we seem to have become, is not a healthy society.

Many lawmakers are lawyers by training….  Judges in almost all cases must be lawyers, first.

That favorite lawyer word, “clearly”, is rarely very clear once the interpretation battle begins in, or on the way to, court.

Lawyers and Judges interpret laws.  More so than ever, preferred Judges are people likely to be in philosophical agreement to interpret laws to the advantage of those who appoint them.  The winner always is cognizant of the fact that he can end up losing, so efforts are made to perpetuate influence.  How better to make a permanent legacy than appointing lifetime judges?  So goes the quest.

Today is the ascendance of Trump and the largely white male Republican and Evangelical Christian political establishment, and not only at the national level.  These men are accustomed to being in control, and are terrified of losing any control.  Controlling the legislative process at all levels, and selection of judges sharing their values, are their most important battlegrounds.


(Justice is often portrayed as “Justice is blind“; Justice often symbolized by a woman holding a scale.   Oh, if only there were at least a little truth to this.  Woman didn’t even gain suffrage until 1920.  We know the history of treatment of minorities of all sorts.  Young people are supposed to wait their turn….  Often, ours has not been a kind and gentle society.)

Who makes the laws, and who controls the courts, are very important.

Think about this as the debate about Kavanaugh continues.  This debate is not only about Kavanaugh, it is about the future of our society.


If you’re worried about things as they are, get on the court, now.  This is everybody’s concern.

For the great numbers of us who, like myself, greatly prefer resolution of differences through negotiation rather than winners and losers, there is a paradox: to return to more sanity in the political conversation requires, first, winning.  And changing course is a difficult process.  As the great Nelson Mandela observed about South Africa, which is still struggling, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with them.  Then he becomes your partner.

Postcard Sep 1, 1910, sister-to-sister. Women’s Suffrage was still ten years in the future.


from Fred: Well said. You did a nice job in pointing out the makeup of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It says a lot about the Trump Party and the Democrats.

from Melvin: Good message and great photo of the eagle.

from Dave:Hogwash written by a liberal Dick,

My wife, sister and sister-in-law are more conservative than me. They are “white women” and have been all their lives.   As for “…a rush to fill the court with conservatives….” what would the liberals do if the shoe was on the other foot?  For the answer check history.  Certainly you must be somewhat embarrassed by the conduct of the liberals during the hearings. Harris and Booker among others.  Don’t forget the visitors who were paid to disrupt the proceedings.
There is one African-American on the Supreme Court and he was not placed there by the liberals.  Who was the first women placed on the Supreme Court?  In case you cannot recall, it was Sandra Day O’Connor.  Appointed by Ronald Reagan as you should know.
I have voted for and against three different Presidents.  Bet you can’t say that.
Open both eyes Dick,
Response to Dave from Dick:  Thanks for the comment.  I’ll add it to the blog “from Dave”.  My post probably didn’t surprise you; your response didn’t surprise me, per past exchanges.  No problem from my point of view.  We just have different opinions.

Both of my eyes are wide open, and have been for a long while.  I follow this stuff.  If you look at the right hand of the blog, I call myself a moderate, pragmatic Democrat, and that is what I am.

In the same batch of e-mails was one with an opinion essentially opposite of yours.

Presidential votes and feelings:
1950s – Dwight Eisenhower was President in high school years, and I still describe myself as an Eisenhower Democrat.  He could have run as either a Republican or Democrat.
1960 – Not old enough to vote then, but would have voted for Kennedy.  But I was very impressed by Nelson Rockefeller who came through Valley City ND in 1960.  Given Rockefeller vs Kennedy, had I been 21, I would probably have voted Rockefeller.  I looked back in the old college yearbooks, and I wasn’t involved in either Young Democrats or Republicans.
1964 -Voted for Johnson, I’m pretty sure, though at that point in time my attention was completely taken up by my wife’s ultimately fatal kidney disease and our 6 month old son.
1968 – Voted for Humphrey.  He’s Minnesotan.  And I liked and respected him a great deal.  (He grew up in country South Dakota, as you probably know.)
1972?  I’m not sure, likely George McGovern?  I would have liked him, but not enthusiastic.  Less enthusiastic about ‘tricky Dick’
1976 & 1980.  Jimmy Carter.  I felt, and still feel, he was one of our greatest presidents.  Military man, Farmer, Businessman.  I worked hard for him in the 1980 election.  I know that history very, very well.
1984 – for Mondale, former vice-president and U.S. Senator, another Minnesotan, and another great man, still living.
1988 – Voted for Dukakis from MA, though not with much enthusiasm, but I have always respected GHW Bush.  He seemed a class act.  If I recall, this is about the time hatchet advertising was being perfected by people like Karl Rove and Lee Atwater.
1992 & 1996 – Voted for Bill Clinton.  He was a very effective President, though most of the time the Congress was Republican dominated, much like today.
2000 – Voted enthusiastically for Al Gore.  It was a tragedy that he ‘lost’ (in quotes, because he didn’t lose).  I still have the newspapers from November 2000.  I had nothing particular against George W (see comment about his Dad, above), but I couldn’t see that he was offering much of anything – just inheriting a mantle of a dynasty.
2004 – Certainly didn’t vote for George Bush, John Kerry would have done a great job.  I was one of the 6% who were against bombing Afghanistan [October 2001].  I could see nothing good coming out of trying to avenge 9-11-01.  I turned out to  be correct.  We are still in that quagmire,
2008 – George Bush, Dick Cheney and the boys didn’t even attend the Republican Convention here.  September of 2008, ten years ago, our economy was in active meltdown – a real national emergency.  In 2008, I supported Hillary Clinton till the nomination process ended, then strongly supported Barack Obama, who will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents.  Of course, I voted for him in 2012 as well.
2016 – I voted for Hillary Clinton,  proudly.  I have never seen a hatchet job like the one that was done on her in the campaign.  History says I was correct in supporting her.
I will add only one other postnote: my political mentor and hero was a former Republican Governor in Minnesota, a wealthy businessman, and progressive politician.  I wrote his eulogy for the Minneapolis Star Tribune when he died.

From Carol:   I disagree: Obama will go down in history as the WORST President.he never had a yr with 3% economic growth / he was trying to derail

American democracy / his health care was/is a sham / he lies.

He is trying to take credit for Trump’s victories.

Hillary should be in Prison: she was trying to blame Trump for a Russian kolusion(sp) when she was the one who colluded with the Russians to frame Trump.   (it’s been proven)



All is not dismal

It is easy to get mired in the ‘daily dismal’ (my words).  It is not difficult to find positive things (each of which can have their negative ‘sides’).

Some thoughts, some of which invite additional reading.

If you haven’t already, REGISTER to vote.  If you aren’t already, GET INFORMED ABOUT ALL THE CANDIDATES ON YOUR BALLOT.  SHARE your opinions and requests.  VOTE, and stay engaged for the long haul.


Tomorrow begins the Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg University in Minneapolis.  All details are here.  I’ll be there.

Fresh Energy is, in my opinion, a super star in accomplishing results in positively addressing climate change.  Their annual benefit breakfast is October 3, details at their website.  Take a look at what they’re doing, which is to say, making a big difference.

Another group worth a look is Climate-Smart Municipalities, which I literally stumbled across at the University of Minnesota some months ago.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals encourage activism at the local level.    Learn about the 17 Goals, and find some way, in your local area, to become engaged in helping make our planet healthier.  These goals are the successor to the earlier Millennium Development Goals.

A local group, Twin Cities Nonviolent, has organized a very impressive program on “10 Days Free from Violence:”, which begins September 21 and ends September 30.  Here is an opportunity to engage for the first time, or re-engage, in positive activities which benefit us all.  While this particular event is Minneapolis-St. Paul area based, it is modeled on a similar project in Carbondale IL.  Initiatives like these deserve encouragement, and support and most of all engagement.  Each of us can make a positive difference, but it requires personal engagement.

As many know, September 21, the first day of Fall, is also the International Day of Peace. First set in 1981, ironically, the annual observance was set as Sep. 21 each year by the United Nations during the week of September 11, 2001.


Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church:  As today’s headlines state, Pope Francis is calling all of the Catholic Bishops to Rome in February, 2019.

I have referenced this issue before, with links.  See this 2013 post, and specifically look for links to two long and excellent pieces, published in 2003 and 2005 in a newsletter called Bread Rising, by Richard Sipe.

More recently, on Labor Day, 2018, my post  included, near the end of the post, three recent statements by a Minneapolis Priest, a Twin Cities Bishop and an Archbishop about this issue.

Those seeking a permanent and total resolution of the problem are seeking the impossible.  Catholics number possibly a billion members, tens of thousands of hierarchy of one sort or another, in every nation, all of whom are human beings.  I have watched the evolution of the abuse issue for many years.  The Church is not sitting on its hands.  I stay Catholic.


There is a battle going on between the forces of Fear and those of Hope.

I stand with Hope.

A memento given to dignitaries who attended the 90th birthday of Harold Stassen in 1997.  Stassen was the last surviving signer of the United Nations Charter in 1945.




56 Days

Today is eight weeks from Election Day.  In many places, early voting is about to begin.  Do you know who is running to represent you, or what they stand for, or what the implications of their being elected is, for you, or others in your town, your county, your state, your country?

I would presume that every state has something similar to Minnesota – a place where you can find out who your candidates are, including their websites, if they have one.  Here is Minnesota’s.

In my case, everyone in my precinct will have an opportunity to vote for eight offices where the candidates are running with party designation, such as Governor.  Sixteen candidates are running for three non-partisan positions, such as mayor.  And many judges are up for election, including two contested positions.   In all, we will cast ballots for those to serve us in 33 offices, from City Council to Minnesota Supreme Court.  In all there are 65 candidates whose names appear on my ballot.

Every election has big consequences for everyone, whether they vote, or don’t bother to waste the time.

Honor your flag by assuming your responsibility to your country and your fellow citizens, especially those to young or otherwise unable to vote to defend their future.

Succinctly, for me, this election is for Bennie, Robin, David and for everyone else who knows first hand what a caring society is all about.

This is what this election is about.

Labor Day, 2018

“Home” for my entire life has been North Dakota or Minnesota.  In these precincts, “summer” is usually the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  In Minnesota, today is always the last day of the State Fair.

The Snelling Avenue Gate, Minnesota State Fair, 2018

Those who follow my “life” know that this has not been a routine “summer”.  (Yes, I did go to the Fair on Thursday.)

Some thoughts, as unofficial “Fall” begins (the day after Labor Day):

Bennie: Grandson Bennie and his Dad were in a horrible car accident the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend.  It has been an entire summer in two hospitals.  Best I let his parents define where things are at at this point in time.  Here is the CaringBridge site.  It is at times like this where you become aware of the tremendous service provided by medical and other staff and volunteers and others, like the Ronald McDonald House, at times of need.  I am grateful.

I also have a heightened awareness of what it means to have health care…or not.  Those who have despised the Affordable Care Act (derisively called “Obamacare”) should be very aware of what they seem to be so actively working to eliminate.  All of us are going to pay a very heavy price for our short-sightedness, and in the not too distant future.

Joni:  I especially single out daughter Joni, today.  Tomorrow she opens Oltman Middle School in nearby Cottage Grove.  Joni is a veteran school Principal.  Last year she was Principal of the old Oltman in St. Paul Park, and also the supervising Principal of construction of the new school, which is described in todays St. Paul Pioneer Press: Oltman Middle School001 I’m proud as punch of Joni.   As I’ve told her, 53 years ago, as a young junior high school teacher, I was one of the faculty who opened the brand new Roosevelt Junior High School in Blaine MN.  Time just races by.

Roosevelt Junior High School, Blaine MN, 1968. Photo by Dick Bernard, pilot of the plane, Frank Bernard.

Two Grandkids headed off to new adventures this summer:  Spencer is in the middle of Boot Camp for the Marines at Camp Pendleton CA.  I suspect that today will be like all days in basic training.  He’s about half way through, I calculate.  Graduation is Oct. 12.  We hope to be there.  Ted is newly enrolled at Wartburg College in Iowa.  I saw him for lunch before departure.  His t-shirt said it all about him: “4 out of 3 people struggle with math”.  He’s one who revels in math – a “pi guy”.  Thought of him, too, when the marimba was front and center at Basilica of St. Mary yesterday.  He’s a music guy too, which tends to ‘rhyme’ with math.

Some serious items, not of a family sort:

This summer brought a kick in the teeth for those of us who feel Unions have brought a great deal of value to this country.  The U.S. Supreme Court took a meat ax to the concept of “fair share”.  The issue is complex, and I’m biased.  An article that seems to be fairly even-handed is here: Fair Share002 .  It is worth your time to read, and to discuss.  I could have highlighted sections.  I chose to leave it as is.

I’m no “babe in the woods” on this issue, having been teacher union staff for 27 years, most of which were under “Fair Share” Law, enacted bipartisan, and found legal by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s.

I wrote to the private sector management friend who gave me the article: “I do muse about why unions are so despised – maybe it’s the “I” focus of todays society – ‘all that matters is what matters to me’ – a diminished sense of community.  Forgotten is that much of the middle class prosperity, now diminishing, came from more disposable income resulting (directly and indirectly) from union negotiated wages and fringe benefits.   I remember what it was like before Unions helped fuel prosperity.  The backslide is intensifying.”

And then there’s the matter of being Catholic in this time of stress around misbehavior of Priests and Bishops.  The vast majority of clergy are tarred by the misdeeds of the very few…what is unfortunate is that the evil deeds of some are used to tar everyone, whether guilty or not; regardless of how far back in history.

We seem to have a tendency, generally, to entertain the notion of collective guilt in perpetuity.  At least, that’s how it seems.

Here, for anyone interested, are the positions of our pastor at Basilica of St. Mary and the local Archbishop and Bishop.  These are public information.  For the record, I commended our Pastor for his statement, and subscribe to his number 4.

Here they are: Basilica Fr John Bauer001 and Catholic Bishops Sep 18001

John McCain, a Personal View

Today is the last hurrah for John McCain.  I won’t review what has already been on the tube, in the papers and on the internet.  Among many such weeks in the past two years, the week just passed has been an exceedingly odd one, politically.


I’m reminded today of ten years ago – September 1, 2008, which happened to be Labor Day.  If you’re on Facebook, there is an album of 120 photographs I took during that week, click here.

That week in 2008, John McCain was nominated as Republican candidate for President in downtown St. Paul.  Labor Day (September 1) I was one of thousands who peacefully demonstrated, walking from the State Capitol to the Republican Convention area.  Later in the same week the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers sponsored Peace Island Conference (Peace Island Sep 2-3 08001) three miles or so from the Convention area, and after that a Peace Island celebration on Harriet Island directly across from the Republican Convention hall.

2008, especially September, is not remembered fondly by many.   Our country was very near economic collapse.  Then-President George W. Bush did not even come to the 2008 Republican Convention.

Labor Day 2008, St. Paul was militarized to an absurd degree, thanks to the extremely aggressive Ramsey county sheriff.  I heard of a very few skirmishes here and there, some rare vandalism.  But one could not be sure, even then, if one or more of these incidents had been provoked, or even carried out,  by elements in the protest suppression cadre – so-called ‘agents provacateurs‘.

I was part of the very successful Peace Island Conference.  It was so peaceful that it was not newsworthy.  Even those on the ‘left’ who were covering events preferred more ‘action’ elsewhere in St. Paul.

Sadly, peace does not sell papers, attract viewers, or advertisers.  Violence and mayhem does.

In the photos is a gunboat on the Mississippi.   Not in the photos but memorable  was an intimidating line of unmarked vehicles which slowly and conspicuously passed by those of us on Harriet Island.

Circus over, the St. Paul convention tent was taken down and off the Republicans went, led by Mr. McCain and one Sarah Palin.


John McCain.

I’ve watched how an assortment of people have summarized John McCain this week.

For me, John McCain departs as a class act, unfortunately part of a vanishing breed of old-school Republicans.  Some poll of declared Republicans this week showed that 88% approve of Trumps performance; 35% of McCains.  Those numbers are astonishing, yet indicative of where we are presently, as a country.

I’m not of McCains brand, but I think he was a decent person, a contributor to a better world.

I was at part of the Veterans for Peace conference in St. Paul a week ago, and my favorite photo is this one, worn by a participant.

At Veterans for Peace Conference, St. Paul, August 26, 2018

In our society, too many of us  seem to like to pick and choose the ways to glorify, or assassinate, friend or enemy, domestic or foreign makes no difference.  We seem more comfortable being against, than for….  We choose ‘war’ over ‘peace’.

My friends know where I stand on war and peace, and I would not stand in solidarity with Mr. McCain on many issues.

On the other hand, in a democracy such as ours (theoretically, at this point in our history), our lawmakers are chosen in free elections by the body politic – at local, state, national levels.  And anyone of us who lives in any kind of community knows that we do not all think alike, leaving our leaders in a quandary.  In the smallest of units, compromises and accommodations are essential for a civil society to survive.

(We live in a 96-unit, 24 building neighborhood with a homeowners association, and rules.  Even we need “laws” and “taxes” (dues) for the common good of our residents.  We do not always agree on everything.  Civil society is built on compromise.)

Bottom line, for me, is that as McCain completed his life, he was more than anything else a decent individual who made a significant and positive contribution to his nation.  He apparently knew relationships in his state pretty well.  His was a ‘safe’ seat.

No doubt John McCain made lots of mistakes in life – but don’t we all?

But he also took risks which most politicians would not dare to take – most notable for me was the very public rebuke of a citizen in a neighboring suburb of mine who, in 2008,  a person certain that Barack Obama – McCains competitor – was an Arab or worse: an enemy.

He could have let that act of stupidity go.  He chose to confront it, publicly.

He is at peace; the work is left with us.

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”  Gandhi

COMMENTS (see also Word Press comments at the end of these comments):

from Bruce: I don’t think John McCain would be caught dead with the above T-shirt on. He never saw a war he didn’t like in my opinion.

Response from Dick: I have no disagreement with you. War was central to his family history, of course. As it is central to many in this country. (One of Eisenhower’s trusted aides in his first term, especially, was Harold Stassen, former Minnesota Governor and one of the original signers of the UN Charter.) Many opinions make up the U.S. We are in a dangerous time when there is a war to control the conversation. I hope we survive this war. I think McCain is trying to send a similar message in his memorial service, in progress as I write. Thanks for comment.

from Fred:  Nice piece about McCain. I was particularly interested in your experiences as a protestor during the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul. As an interested armchair bystander, I found the circus in downtown disturbing. There were shadings of the 1968 Chicago and Democratic Convention, but thankfully the St. Paul episode was minor in comparison. Of course, you were on the ground and might have a different opinion.  Very appropriately, you pictured Eisenhower’s great anti-war quote, one of my personal favorites, on a protestor’s t-shirt.

from Barbara: Kudos!  And with that rebuke McCain chose to speak to the person, not the camera, as Amy Goodman supposed he ought.  Did you hear the commentator on his 106 year old mother in the Rotunda ceremony? When she tried to rent a car in France at age 91 she was refused as too old.  So she bought one, drove it on her trip. Shipped it back – drove it home across the U.S.!

from JP: Like you I thought that John McCain was a good and a great American.