Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead.  The general story is here.

Generally it relates to All Saints and All Souls, with Catholic roots, and Halloween of course, and in a really general sense I would toss into the same kettle, Guy Fawkes Night in England (the video link, about ten minutes, is fascinating), which is November 5.  Nov. 5, 2001, we were in London, England, and our B&B, happened to overlook a small park where parents and kids were doing their thing with little fires, etc., celebrating the night.  (Guy has to roll over in his grave each year!)

One day, Day of the Dead, 2004,  I participated in the twin cities rendition of Dia de los Muertos, just north of Lake Street.  Most of the participants were of Mexico and Central American descent, and a few of us others came along.  It was a low key and respectful, and happy observance in memory of departed friends and relatives.

All of these observances, and doubtless others, relate to Fall (Autumn), in our latitude, a time of transition from summer to winter.  (Generally, Europe is more northern in latitude than the United States.). We all live in the natural world, and various traditions are borrowed from what we live….

Of course, there are endless variations of how these days are observed.  In the old days of outhouses, in my country, a tradition was to tip the outhouses and assorted other kinds of more-or-less sanctioned vandalism (“pranks”, not always innocent) on Halloween. It was expected.

Halloween night of 1991 I lived in Hibbing, and a cold rain on Thanksgiving night was the harbinger of what became three feet of snow in the famous “halloween blizzard” we lived through – and yes, there was three feet of snow.  I shoveled it.

The topic comes up for me today for a couple of reasons:

    1. Yesterday at the Basilica was the annual procession of icons, this year it seemed about 30, relating to All Saints.  Here is a photo of one in the procession:

      Basilica of St. Mary Oct 30, 2022.  Icon at right, held by the carrier.

2. Most especially, today, comes to mind my parents, both long deceased.  Dad died 25 years ago on Nov. 7, 1997; Mom long preceded him, August, 1981.  Ironically, that is 41 years ago, and I was 41 when she died.

Life goes on for all of us, with all of its aspect.  All best in this time of memories.

Two Weeks….

Postnote Oct 26:  Joyce Vance, today.  Note especially the last paragraph and the tweet following. Heather Cox Richardson October 25.

Two weeks from today it will all be over, but the counting.  I make no predictions.  There are too many variables that are unknowable, from the veracity of those responding to polls, to kinds of samples surveyed, to the spin of those who report on the mood, data and on and on and on.  They butter someone’s bread, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on them….

Vote by or on Nov. 8, and step a tiny bit out of your comfort zone and ask one other to vote as well.  You know the drill.  Vote.

Gov. Tim Walz, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan Oct 22, 2022, Minneapolis. photo by Dick Bernard

Saturday I went to downtown Minneapolis in support of Vice-President Kamala Harris, MN Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.  It was an excellent gathering; and a demonstration of the diversity of the Democratic Party, in turn reflecting the diversity of the United States of America.  A colleague, also there, wrote a note later: “it was a great event. I thought it was maybe the best speech I have heard the Governor make. Terrific.”  I concur.  We have much to be proud of.

Those three folks on stage well represent the diversity of this nation of ours.  Tim Walz is a school teachers kid from rural America, and was a public school teacher himself.  From small town Nebraska, 25 years in National Guard, 12 years a Congressman representing a rural district, the last four years Governor of Minnesota, he’s walked the talk of leadership.  Vice-President Kamala Harris is a national figure, so needs no introduction.  Peggy Flanagan, Lieutenant Governor, is Native American and  highly accomplished.

Of course, nothing is ever easy, particularly in these days of smelly attack ads which infest television.

I’ve lived in the large Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area of over 3 million for more than half my life, 50 years in all, including the last 32, and were I to believe the attack ads, we’re crime sodden here, a haven for casual abortion seekers, on and on and on.  We’re basically a progressive (Democrat) area, and, of course, it is people like me, Democrats, who must be responsible for the not so creative fiction on television.

The lies must work, otherwise why spend millions on them?

The gathering I attended Saturday was in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.  It could have been in any town in this state.  I walked three blocks on downtown Hennepin Avenue and not even a single nervous moment.

This past summer someone I know was mugged in the city, and was injured.  I learned about it quite a while after the fact.  As I’ve said to others, it was the first time in my 82 years that I could say that I actually knew somebody victimized by a crime.  (The assailant was a juvenile, a passenger in a stolen car driven by another juvenile.  He and his accomplice were caught and brought to justice.  I don’t think any of this made the press.)  So it goes.

Last summer the Wall Street Journal carried a letter from someone who had left my town because of car-jackings.  There was a ring who’d caused some problems, but as always, it was a problem magnified far beyond reality: it took time and effort to find out what the real story was, nonetheless reported as typical in a major newspaper out east.

Sure, all of us, including myself, sometime or other have had uncomfortable moments sometime or other, not only in the “city”…but mostly the space that we occupy is safe.

Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman made an excellent case in a column in a recent NYTimes about the gap between perception and reality: Krugman Facts Feeling and Rural Politics.   I come from a very rural state, so I also know the reality of the surrounding rural country.

Two weeks from now we’ll know the direction this country is taking.  Those who actually vote will be the accountable ones.

My vote will be for the Democrats.

Two weeks.


Here is the portal for Election Information, again: Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here  (early voting continues).  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

For folks who live in the same community I do: SD 47.  (The link is the local Democrat website.)

Segment Four of Rachel Maddow’s Ultra podcast is now available.  Sunday night we watched “Shouting Down Midnight”, about Wendy Davis and the Texas legislature. Check it out to see when it again comes available.  It is brand new and very worthwhile watching.

COMMENTS (more at end of post)

from Marsh: In our    world here in the southernmost part of California, it is astonishing that the elections that we see here are so brutal. A lot of the politicians have hit pieces either in written form or on television about how corrupt the other candidates are. It’s hard to figure as to who the good guys are. A big issue here is gambling and every Indian tribe has an opinion about to vote yes or no. You can’t really tell who the good Indians are to do a sensible vote. So in the end, I just voted no on everything.

from Chuck: Voting is the minimum for civic responsibility.  It’s what we do regarding our legislatures the hundreds of day between elections.

And, no matter who wins…you still have a monstrous influence if you work with others to prod them with loving persistence.

Unfortunately, our governing system is functionally flawed.  The Constitution has three valves for change…but we rarely use them.
Change is happening so fast…our brains can’t keep up with it.  And our government is essentially flatlined.

Read the preamble to the Constitution and give its seven intentions a grade.

from Len: AMEN. If we all remind our friends to go to the polls and remind them to remind their like -minded friends to follow suit, it could be good.  My friend, who was in the State Senate, was visiting the day after the election in 2002, with her neighbor. Her neighbor broke the news that she had forgotten to vote on Election Day. She would have voted for her neighbor.

My friend lost that election by 13 votes.

from Rich:

I voted yesterday. It was easy. I am among those who have never missed voting in an election.
My parents cancelled each other’s vote. We had many “cause & effect discussions” in our family on current issues of the day … all free of anger and name calling. When Parkinson’s disease limited my fathers mobility, my mother secured him an absentee ballot. This was my parent’s example.
Three days ago I requested a campaigner to leave my property, explaining that I considered a person supported by “his candidate” as treasonous, and his candidate an accomplice. Almost two years ago on January 6, a family member had been on national television in the Capitol during the insurrection … he was carrying a weapon and wearing SWAT Team gear. His response, and personal risk, solidified my now rigid position.
Entrenched division is now part of the political landscape … and I am part of it. But I did cast my vote.
May we have “the greatest good to the greatest number.” (Paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson)


The Union

Pre-note: For anyone interested, the Minnesota Orchestra is live on-line Friday night at 8 p.m. Central at MPR (public radio) and on TPT (public television).  I think both are accessible anywhere.  We were at the concert today, where the announcement was made.  MnOrch is a magnificent orchestra.  Check it out.

Sunday night at 9 on MSNBC is a new documentary, Shouting Down Midnight . Take a look.

The 4th episode of Rachel Maddow’s Ultra is Monday night.  Link is here.  This is a free and outstanding look at America’s flirtation with Fascism in the 1930s right before WWII.  I have listened to all of them, approximately 40 mins each.


Thursday I decided to attend the first part of what used to be called “The MEA Convention”, on the third Thursday of October.  It is called MEA weekend in the local media, a coveted four day weekend each year, for students, parents and teachers.

My visit took me in a direction I hadn’t expected to go, about the business of working together.

Mostly you’d have seen me at the convention every year since I came to Minnesota in 1965.  (It was cancelled in 2020, and I don’t recall it happening in 2021 either – the effect of Covid-19.  But it has a very long history.)

This year it is the “2022 MEA Conference” sponsored by Education Minnesota, since 1998 the merged teacher union of the former Minnesota Education Association (MEA) and Minnesota Federation of Teachers (MFT).

All but two years of a 27 year career, I was MEA staff; the last two staff for Education Minnesota.

I didn’t come to this morning conference with any agenda; what I left with are some reflections on division and reconciliation.

In the first 20 years of my career MEA and MFT were alien entities.  They did the same thing, for the same people, in the same way – representing teachers.  But the energy was devoted to who did it better, and why.  Viewed on the ground it made some sense; from outer space, no sense at all.  We were tribes, much like “Republicans” and Democrats today in the United States.

It was all a bunch of nonsense.  In 1993 the first Minnesota local merged, with the blessing of the state and national unions.  In 1998, the state merger came into effect.

The transition was not easy: the path from war to peace is never easy; but once peace takes root, one wonders “why the war?”

I know a lot about this particular merger, so do some other readers.  In my case, my career was between 1972 and 2000.  A great deal of what we encountered could directly apply to the current political insanity we are living with.  Division doesn’t work; Unity most certainly does….


I came early today, and I came out of the exhibit hall and saw a familiar face, and then I saw her again, sitting with four young teachers for a photograph.  I took a picture:

In the photo, the person at the right is Randy Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.  She asked if she could join them in the photo; I doubt they knew who she was.  I had most recently seen her on television, reporting on a recent visit with teachers in Ukraine.

The four teachers sitting with her probably were very young children, at best, when the Minnesota Teacher Unions merged in 1998.

All they know is Education Minnesota.

The distinctions so important in my early staff years is likely unknown to them.  The President of AFT at our Convention?  Unthinkable!

Getting to yes takes time, lots of time.  But nothing is impossible.

Breaking up the tribes, is a group project, that involves every one of us.

Enjoy the rest of “MEA Weekend”!


Three Weeks from Today

The 2022 Election is three weeks from today.  In the end, either you voted or you didn’t.  Most recently I was struck by data about the Italian election, which was reported to have a low turnout.  I checked, and the Italian “low” turnout was essentially the same as the largest turnout ever for the 2020 U.S. presidential election.  To me that’s the whole story.  We are, as a society, careless about our country’s wellbeing.

On most ballots, most offices, there are two political party candidates, and non-partisan (usually judges).   My ballot has me voting for 38 elected positions.

Once again:

Here is the portal for Information, again: Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here (our early voting began on Sep 23).  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

For folks who live in the same community I do: SD 47.  (The link is the local Democrat website.)


I am Democrat.  My personal mantra is the ageless slogan of Sen. Paul Wellstone: “We All Do Better When We All Do Better.”  My personal family circle is 30 or more people (parents, siblings and families thereof).  The members are of all sorts, all rooted in families of modest means.

The other party, which historically was called Republican, and is on the ballot as such this year, is no longer traditional Republican, and basically operates under the philosophy “Them That Has, Gets“.  Many millionaires and billionaires are in this class.  People like Ivanka, Erik and Donald Jr, are among the folks “born on third base”.

But far and away the biggest issue November 8 is our future as a free democratic republic with so far a history of 235 years.  There is no issue greater than that.

The Democrats have taken on the task of representing all of us – the great diversity that is the United States of America.  This is never easy, but a great responsibility.


Today’s R’s have a very different focus.  I thought this morning about the crew that DJT, and now his acolytes, quite certainly idolize as role models.  Russia’s Putin (Ukraine); China’s Xi Jinping; Brazils Bolsonaro; N.Koreas Kim Jong Un; Hungary’s Orban; Saudi Arabia’s bin Salman (oil), and on and on.

They are the pretenders to the old monarchies that divided the spoils amongst themselves (all of which ultimately failed – even greed has its limits.)

Authoritarianists have now united against democracy in our own country.  Over half of the “Republican” candidates for major office in the U.S. Nov. 8 have denied the fact that elections are free and fair.

The objective, all, is to rein in and strangle democracy.


POSTNOTE:  Other recent posts:  10/13 January 6; 10/15 Life Without Parole; 10/17 Jesus.

Episode 3 of Rachel Maddow’s Ultra, on the rise of Fascism in the United States in the 1930s, is now on-line, as are the first two.  Check them out.  This is a very powerful series.

Tonight (Oct 18) on Frontline PBS: Michael Flynn’s Holy War.

Thursday, the Golden Rule Project is the focus of Citizens for Global Solutions Third Thursday.  Zoom.  All details here.  Pre-registration required.


On August 25, 2022, I wrote a post which in part included the following, which anticipated the Rachel Maddow series.  I said this:

“Nov. 10, 1998, I wrote my Uncle and Aunt in North Dakota about an October 9-11, 1998, visit to the ancestral relatives and farm in western Germany, very near the Netherlands.

It was a standard letter, but it had an additional dimension, since I was visiting kin – Germans in Germany – in a place where the ancestors had lived for hundreds of years, including WWII.

This is what I said 24 years ago: “We don’t talk a lot about WWII, except to learn that WWII, the why’s etc., is still talked about by the common German citizen.  Even people my age – including my hosts – were very young when the war ended.  I wonder about how we in the U.S. would be if our country was taken over by a Hitler-type.  Probably we’d be no different than the Germans in the 1930s and 40s….”

Hitler and the Nazis envisioned a 1,000 year Reich.  They got about 10 years.  They could not see their ignominious end.  Lust for power has a way of overrunning common sense.  As I write, we have our current pretenders to authoritarian rule at all levels in all states.  Will we ever learn?”

Back in 1998, I don’t recall being aware of the 1930s tilt towards Fascism in the United States.  I was obviously aware of my own German ancestry, and World War II.

As the Maddow series thus far points out, and will continue to point out, as an American society we became very deeply involved in support of Nazi Germany.  In a recent previous post, I called back another recent flashback to the days of the “silver shirts” in Minnesota Fascism MN Weisman, hearkening back to the “brown shirts” in Nazi Germany, and the “black shirts” in Mussolini’s Italy.  We are not, my friends, “exceptional” in any sense of the word….

Here’s what I said anticipating this podcast on October 8 (at that point I was not yet aware of the upcoming podcast):  “…there has now been six years of experience, including near two years including Jan. 6, 2021, to learn from experience some life lessons of today’s “T” party infatuation  with authoritarianism.”


October 13: Monday evening Rachel Maddow presented the first two segments of her podcast on pre-WWII seditious conspiracy in the United States… It is powerful, given in context with today.  Here is the link.”




The notion for this post came on Sunday, October 9, based on two unrelated occurrences the same day.

It was preceded  by a lawn sign down the street, “Jesus Loves You”, planted some time earlier; and by another recent appeal from a nephew in Texas who’s become very active in a most worthwhile charity called Covenant House.  These two activities were also unrelated.  Except all four, and countless others, relate to “Christianity”, which in some way or other relate to “Jesus”.

Those who read this space on occasion know my background and behavior related to Christianity.  Those who are people just stopping by, I’m lifelong Catholic, in the peace and justice ‘wing’ of the church.

Most of what follows relates to the two occurrences on October 9.  Having said that, a source which seems reliable, says that there are more than 200 Christian denominations in the U.S., and 45,000 world-wide.  Christianity is hardly a monolith, and its a very human institution.  And Jesus is certainly a player in Judaism and the Muslim faith, among others.  His story, as told by others long after his death and resurrection, lives on, to be interpreted endlessly, in assorted Bibles and sermons….

Here are a couple of vignettes, just to encourage thought, based on two recent occurrences, for your consideration.

  1. October 15 at Mass the Gospel was from Luke (copied below).  The homilist, a retired Pastor and a particularly gifted preacher, chose to emphasize the phrase “…one of them realizing he had been healed, returned…and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus said…”Ten were cleansed…where are the other nine?….”

(Above text in pdf form: Luke Samaritan Leper.  See note at end of post.)

How does this apply to you?  What does it mean?

Father Harry’s focus was on the historically negative relationship between the Samaritans and the Jews…same God, different rules…he compared their relationship as roughly akin to the present day Israeli/Palestinian relationship.  The Samaritans were not the good guys in the Jewish way of thinking….  But they were not all that different, either.

In the Bible story, one of the Lepers healed was Samaritan, and per the Gospel he was the only one of the ten to come back and say thank you.  The focus was on the other nine, likely some or most may have been of Jesus’ group, the Jews. “Where are the other nine?”, was the question.

The Priest was not so indirectly calling attention to our own tribalism in our own country.  I wish his message had been  recorded.  He gave great food for thought.

2.  Back home, a few hours later, we tuned in Sixty Minutes, a usual Sunday evening choice.  This particular program had a segment on the new President of the Southern Baptist Convention – a large Protestant Denomination in the throes of change; attempting to come out of a major sexual abuse scandal.

This was not a compare/contrast recommendation…simply an opportunity to learn a bit about human leadership in another religious organization going through tumultuous times; a crisis in leadership.

The new President of the Southern Baptists was a younger man from a small congregation somewhere in Texas, and the interview – what we saw – revealed a sincere man committed to positive change, but nonetheless constrained by his own personal beliefs, and the beliefs of others in the leadership of this large denomination.  The segment is always available through 60 Minutes, (Church and State, Oct 9) so I won’t interpret it, beyond saying what I said above.


Personally, I’ve long ago decided that I am what I am and to each his own when it comes to choice of faith, regardless of what  that might be.  I mused in an earlier post that even in my own parish, on a given day, the nearest 100 people in proximity to me in the church probably have different opinions about many things, including relating to theology.  We’re just another community, each of us there for our own reasons.

One way or another we choose the leaders who are supposed to represent, in my case, Jesus’ values as recounted in the scripture.  Not an easy deal.  We all are responsible.


In the scripture reading above, I included, on purpose, the copyright designation: the source of the words used in the Catholic version.

I’m not a Bible reader per se, but I probably have ten Bibles here, and I decided to look up the wording of the above quotation from Luke in two of them.  I also compare with the few words that I emphasized.

Grandma’s 1911 Catholic Bible: “…one of them, when he saw that he was ae clean, went back…and he fell on his face before his feet,, giving thanks; and this was a Samaritan…Jesus answering, said, Were not ten made clean? and where are the nine?….”

New Revised Standard (red line version): “Thence of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back…prostated himself at Jesus feet, and thanked him.  And he was a Samaritan…Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?”


Where do you stand?  Who are “we”?  I would submit, these are not easy questions regardless of belief or non-belief.




Life Without Parole

Thursday, Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to Life in prison without parole for the 17 murders on Valentine’s Day, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  A good summary article from CNN is here.

Three members of the Jury declined to vote for the Death Penalty, permitted under Florida Law.  This has led to outrage.  I’m not surprised that there was not unanimity on the death sentence.

The post-decision outrage was predictable. Cruz committed a heinous crime.

I think the Life Without Parole was equally predictable.  Three people, for whatever reasons, did not believe that state imposition of death on the perpetrator was an appropriate penalty.

I’m wasn’t on the Jury, of course.  Had I been in that room, I doubt that I could have signed on to Death, particularly since the penalty of Life in Prison had already been agreed upon.

Vengeance – ‘an eye for an eye’ – seems a default response to actions such as the one carried out by Nikolas Cruz and his companion, an AR-15.  So does Life in Prison.  If memory serves, Cruz wants to die.  Odds are that his life span in prison will not be normal for someone his age.

Of course, Cruz’s gun and its millions of companions go unpunished in any way, free to commit the next carnage someplace.  We have blinders on.

Life in Prison is unproductive, as were things like Debtors Prison in olden days.  It solves nothing.

Restorative Justice seems to be a useful concept to really learn about.  The identified link seems to be a useful portal for beginning.

Another place to learn is The Forgiveness Project.

I personally know people in both Restorative Justice and The Forgiveness Project.   At minimum, take time to learn.

Neither concept is easy, but the alternatives – vengeance and lifelong incarceration – are not good alternatives for either the convicted or the society which did the convicting.

What Cruz did was a heinous crime.  Do we solve anything by piling on?  Similarly, do we solve anything by not calling to account the kind of weapons which made his carnage possible?  In Cruz’ case, the accomplice was a legally purchased AR-15.

POSTNOTE: I’ll always remember seeing the then-new film, Dead Man Walking, in 1996.  It is still available on-line, and worth the time.


Today’s Jan. 6 Hearing

POSTNOTE: Heather Cox Richardson summarizes Oct. 13, 2022.  Another, very important, Oct. 15, 2022.

I watched the hearing today, Thursday Oct 13, all of it.  It was very interesting, as usual.  It was not a hearing in the usual sense.  It was a conclusive meeting of the committee, televised. It seemed all for the main purpose of building a permanent record for posterity regardless of what happens down the road.

I leave the strategizing up to the lawyers and lawmakers (usually one and the same).  They know the process and the adversaries far better than I.

The history will not be buried.

Preceding todays hearing I listened to the first two podcasts of Rachel Maddows Ultra.

Here’s what I said about this podcast on Oct 8. “Monday evening Rachel Maddow presented the first two segments of her podcast on pre-WWII seditious conspiracy in the United States… It is powerful, given in context with today.  Here is the link.”

I am not a regular listener to podcasts, but…

…these podcasts are, indeed, powerful, and easily accessed, together about 75 minutes divided into easily listened to segments.  I think there will be six more.  If you’ve never visited a podcast, it is a very simple process, words, not pictures, from your computer.  (Each podcast had one powerful photo as wallpaper.)

The series is about America’s very close call with Fascism right before WWII.

The main characters in the first two episodes were a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and a Catholic Priest from Michigan.  Neither were choirboys, shall I say.  The Senator, pro-German, was killed in a very suspect plane crash; the Priest, who had a huge following, was Fascist, anti-semitic and pro-German.  They had lots of support from Nazi Germany.  Minnesota was well on-board with the program to overthrow the government.

It is worth taking the time to listen to the program and following segments.

Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 dystopian novel, It Can’t Happen Here, comes into the conversation.  His novel was prescient.

It is remarkable, the similarities between what we’ve been experienced in recent years, and 82 years ago.

Take the time.  It’s our country; it’s everybody’s future.


from Fred:  Sen. Ernest Lundeen was among Midwest isolationists who, prior to Pearl Harbor, was in the anti-war effort. Here is a [Sept 2009] MinnPost article about him and the plane crash.

Father Charles Coughlin, the “radio priest” was a hugely popular and influential anti-semitic fan of Fascism.

reply from Dick: I last wrote about this topic in October, 2020.  “Antifa” is accessible here.

I’m much aware of Minnesota’s reputation in the 1930s especially, but really hadn’t heard of Lundeen.  Re Coughlin, I was born in 1940, but I’m part of what I call two ‘Catholic Catholic’ families.  I don’t recall anyone ever talking about Coughlin in any context.  I knew about him, and his reputation, but I didn’t get that message from family.

Do you have any theories about the plane crash?  I think he knew he was a dead man – just wasn’t sure exactly when or how.  It likely had some Nazi overtones.  Maybe he wasn’t sure of his position of support.  We were certainly a country soft on Hitler and his attitudes towards Jews.  Charles Lindbergh keeps jumping to my mind.  My political mentor and friend, Elmer L. Andersen, was friends of Lindbergh later, and I recall he wrote a little about this in one of his books.  I’ll see if I can find it.  [Andersen had many references to Lindbergh: Elmer Andersen on Charles Lindbergh]

from Fred:  I’m generally suspicious re conspiracy theories particularly involving aircraft in the early days of civil aviation. Knute Rockne and Carol Lombard were two other prominent victims; Will Rogers wasn’t on a commercial plane, of course.

Midwesterners were very leery of involvement in another World War and their congressional delegations were outright skeptics. Lindbergh and America First had some significant traction. FDR managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat when he pushed and cajoled Congress to pass Lend Lease, by ONE vote. In late 1941, polls showed a majority of Americans against any involvement in European and Asian wars.
Remember Mencken’s quote: No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. This should be printed on our currency!!!!

Four Weeks

I spared neither time nor expense for my artwork.  Four weeks from today is “all she wrote”…and voting is only part of the citizens duty.  Know who you’re voting for, and support them in the many ways you can in the next weeks.  Nov. 9 is too late.

Here is the portal for Information, again: Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here (our early voting began on Sep 23).  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

For folks who live in the same community I do: SD 47.  (The link is the local Democrat website.)



Other notes:

January 6 Select Committee hearing will broadcast on Thursday, October 13.  Information here.

Thursday evening Citizens for Global Solutions MN, of which I’m an active member, is having a Zoomcast 7-8:30 p.m. Central time, with Helen Jaccard of the VFP Golden Rule project.  All information is here, including link to the film about the history of the Golden Rule.

Monday evening Rachel Maddow presented the first two segments of her podcast on pre-WWII seditious conspiracy in the United States.  I have not yet watched it, but I plan to. It is powerful, given in context with today.  Here is the link.

Upcoming at this space, I’m working on a post simply entitled Jesus.  I hope you take a look.  Tentatively it will be online on Saturday morning, October 15.



Finally, I never ask for money, and the following is no exception, but an invitation.

This is the 4th year I’ve made a relatively major gift to the local public broadcasting outlet, TPT.  I will be mailing my donation at the end of next week.  If you wish to participate, send me a check, minimum $10, made out to TPT, and I’ll include it with the donation.  Send to me so I receive it before the end of October, Dick Bernard, Box 25384, Woodbury MN 55125.  Alternatively, contribute to your own public broadcasting outlet.

Public Broadcasting was one of the best ideas ever conceived in this country.  Here’s a timeline.

Thank you.

At Dowling Community Garden, Minneapolis, October 11, 2022

Today was a magnificent day in our town, and I had 15 minutes before a meeting at a colleagues home in south Minneapolis, so I stopped by the Dowling Garden that literally borders his property.  This was a Minnesota Fall scene, unaltered.  Past prime but still beautiful.  Dowling is a treasure, residue of WWII Victory Gardens.

COMMENTS (more at end of post):

from Steve, re Golden Rule: For a few weeks I was active with the “Golden Rule” even sailed from Red Wing to Winona.

from Jim: By coincidence Nenita and I were at Dowling garden 3 hours this morning planting a garlic crop.  It is covered with straw and will be harvested next June.

from Chuck: Oct 16 is World Food Day!  It seems making sure people are fed…would be among the top of the Golden Rules. ?

 In 1980 a bipartisan Presidential Commission concluded and its commissioners specifically warned …“The most potentially explosive force in the world today is the frustrated desire of poor people to attain a decent standard of living. The anger, despair, and often hatred that result represent real and persistent threats to international order… Neither the cost to national security of allowing malnutrition to spread nor the gain to be derived by a genuine effort to resolve the problem can be predicted or measured in any precise, mathematical way. Nor can monetary value be placed on avoiding the chaos that will ensue unless the United States and the rest of the world begin to develop a common institutional framework for meeting such other critical global threats… Calculable or not, however, this combination of problems now threatens the national security of all countries just as surely as advancing armies or nuclear arsenals.”

They also stated “that promoting economic development in general, and overcoming hunger in particular, are tasks far more critical to the U.S. national security than most policymakers acknowledge or even believe. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, most Americans have been conditioned to equate national security with the strength of strategic military forces. The Commission considers this prevailing belief to be a simplistic illusion. Armed might represents merely the physical aspect of national security. Military force is ultimately useless in the absence of the global security that only coordinated international progress toward social justice can bring.”

Today’s world is experiencing the consequences of ignoring this commission’s warnings. It specifically warned of increases in “diseases”, “international terrorism”, “war”, “environmental problems” and “other human rights problems” (refugees, genocide, human trafficking…).

Combined, these global pressures have fueled the anti-democratic populist movements thriving today.  Independent governments’ “self-interests” can no longer be more important than humanity’s potential to thrive and survive in the face of these accelerating threats.

Dozens of other prestigious, bipartisan studies and academic reports have followed since that 1980 report. Each clearly documents the direct and indirect links between world hunger, human rights violations, global instability, and the growing array of other threats to our freedoms, nation’s security, economy, and political stability.

I  believe our failure to make the protection of human rights and our environment superior to the protection of national sovereignty and corporate power is the primary driver of accelerating chaos.   The chaos that elections will not stop or even lessen.   Our systems of government are failing us.  Without transforming these systems to prioritize “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” there is not enough money in the world to address all the suffering that’s coming directly linked to so many unsustainable local and global trends that are reactionary in nature, and not preventive.

Preventing these accelerating trends will require a comprehensive global action plan.  An affordable and achievable plan exists today:  the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  No organization has yet taken a leadership role in building a Movement of Movements needed to bring all progress-focused organizations and movements together.   Time is not on our side. The evolution of pathogens, weapons, war, corruption, environmental distresses, and growing economic disparities and debt are outpacing our will to voluntarily change our governing systems. This is literally…globally unsustainable.  Leadership on this is urgently needed.   Which organization will rise to the occasion?

Thirty Days

It is one month exactly from Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.

There is no doubt where I stand.  I make that declaration at the right on this screen every time I’ve published since March, 2009.

I am a Democrat, and I always vote, well informed, on all races from local to national.

I have been voting age for over 60 years, and this is the first year, ever, in my opinion, when there has been such a huge difference between the approaches of the respective parties leadership.  At this time in history, there is only one party that gives a damn about the country – all of us, together – as a community, and that is the Democratic Party.

No, my ‘side’ is not perfect – no family is – but there has now been six years of experience, including near two years including Jan. 6, 2021, to learn from experience some life lessons of today’s “T” party infatuation  with authoritarianism.

(Of course, there is “Republican” on the ballot this year, not “T”; but there is no longer a Republican Party as it used to be.  There used to be some attention to that quaint notion called “truth”.   No more.  Consolidation of Power is all that matters.  Traditional Republicans do not support the current version of their party.)

Having said that, I am only one vote, in one community.  As are you.  As is anyone in this endangered democracy called the United States of America.

At the minimum, Vote Nov. 8.


I have been watching the ‘game’ in my town of 70,000 all summer.  I’m in Minnesota SD 47.  (The link is the Democrat website.)

There is the usual array of candidates.  My focus is on Mn Senate and House of Representatives candidates.

My party, the Democrats, have two women running; there are two men listed on the Republican sample ballot.

None of the four have ever actually held elective office.  I know my two candidates.  They will well represent this district.

What I have found exceedingly odd this time around is that the so-called Republican candidates campaign lawn signs and literature basically hardly reveal any party endorsement, or even the Republican ‘colors’ (red), and the one mailer thus far received had nothing of substance.  To get on the ballot, each person had to have official party endorsement, but in the R case, this apparently is not viewed as a positive.  At the same time, if elected these folks will not be free agents.  This is not how politics works.


Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here (our early voting began on Sep 23).  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

January 6 Select Committee hearing will broadcast on October 13.  Information here.

COMMENTS (note others at end)

from Annelee:  (Annelee is a long-time friend who grew up in Nazi Germany from age 7 to 21.  She knows of what she speaks.)

Dear friend,
The most important action in our life is coming up next month , you and I  need to vote!!! I am not asking what party has your loyalties, I am not asking what church you belong to, whether you are atheist or agnostic if you are a citizen, you need to use your right — and vote.
The media is getting wealthy—the party, the candidate with the most money to spend gets the most exposure to fill our minds with how he-she will change for the better what his/her party opponent neglected to do for you. We need a change, voting for him or her.  really?
It is really not that hard to make a decision.
Look what has given this candidate the right to ask you to be your representative or your president?
look at his/her life actions.?
Did that candidate follow the laws , respect women, took care of their children , taught them right from wrong, and was an example of caring and citizenship. You can expect that from someone who wants the power to make laws and effect  the way you will have to live.
When I look at some of the candidates who want your votes, I am deeply troubled and scared. Remember, you voting for your and your children’s future.
It is your responsibility to check what promises have they kept?  Has he/she sold their honesty for power when their families or friends were lied about. No administration in history  has been without fault, but who has tried to better your life and worked for the future and safety of our country. I am sure you have your own concerns, just think before you vote!
Dick, these are my concern, maybe not stated correctly. but when I hear someone say I voted for him because I liked his name better, I get  scared.  How can anyone listen to Trump or Herschel, yet they are doing well? I hoped I could visit with you, but it hasn’t worked out through no one’s fault.


Saturday evening we watched the new film Elvis.  I’d give it high marks, worth the time, if you have any interest whatsoever in “The King”.

There were three of us a”in the house” literally.  Son-in-law Don came over and joined us.

There are a great plenty of reviews and others personal experiences about Elvis Presley – I thought I’d recall the few intersections of my own life as a country kid with his career.

I was a junior in high school when he hit the big time early in 1956, with Heartbreak Hotel.  We lived in the country, literally, in southeast North Dakota.  Television was months in our future.  There was TV then, of course, but in places like ours transmission of signals was iffy at best and I can’t say I ever saw television until September of 1956.

There was AM radio, but even that was not for casual use.  Somehow or other, though, I do remember hearing that first hit.  There seemed to be something that stuck.  I don’t recall any photos or such.  It was just a voice on a record played over the radio.

Somehow I connect Elvis with Brylcreem (“a little dab will do yah” – never enough), and with ducktail haircuts and sideburns and blue suede shoes.  I overdid the Brylcreem; but no ducktail, sideburns or blue suede shoes.

The next contact was in Valley City, North Dakota.  I was doorman at the Omwick Theatre in 1960-61, and during my time there, Elvis’ Blue Hawaii and GI Blues were big hits.  I saw only bits and pieces – I was working – but there was certainly plenty of customers for the shows.

From then on, Elvis became “The King of rock and roll”, and most everyone old enough knows that story.

Then came the day in August, 1977, when breaking news was that Elvis was dead, at age 42.  Even though I was the most casual of fans, for some reason his death is on the list of deaths I remember, including where I was when….

In December of 1977, son Tom and I joined my sister and her family and we drove south to visit Mom and Dad in Texas.  Enroute, we drove through Memphis and went to Graceland, just to see it.  At the time, shortly after his death, there wasn’t much going on.  No souvenirs or even a photo to present evidence of having been there – but we certainly were there.

Life goes on, and the legend lives on.  Elvis impersonators are still a draw, and some are pretty good.

I’m struck by the common thread, though, of many celebrities like Elvis, and other young performers, who hit it big, early, and died young for various reasons.

We sort of eat our celebrities alive.  And fame has its down side.

Still, the film Elvis is worth the time.  If you haven’t seen it, I think you’ll enjoy it.

POSTNOTE: Today’s generation of young people cannot imagine a time when communication was still rather primitive.  As noted above, we had no television till 1956; radio was AM only, and our family had one radio, perhaps in the country you might be able to access two or three stations, and to my recollection we had no car radio.  And that was it.  Media began to expand in the 1960s, and exploded in the 2000’s.

In addition to Elvis, by the end of the 1950s I’d heard enough Buddy Holly to be able to say I liked his music.  But “the day the music died” in February 3, 1959, I was a sophomore in college 60 miles away from Holly’s concert venue, and I really don’t remember even knowing the concert was going on.  It was a different time.

POSTNOTE 2: Country legend Loretta Lynn died on October 4 at age 90.  Here is her website.  Our local PBS station pre-empted its normal program for an American Masters film on Loretta.  It was a great retrospective, we’d highly recommend.  Check with your local PBS station for information.

We saw Loretta perform once, in her later years, at a concert at Mystic Lake, October 25, 2008.  It was an evening very well spent.