Bobby Kennedy

PRENOTE:  You’re an occasional visitor to this space?  If you’re interested in what I’ve been musing about, click on any month on the calendar at right, and the posts for that month will come up.  June 5, I published a brief post on Iftar, for example.


Today, I went over to the excellent 1968 Exhibit at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.  The exhibit runs through mid-Jan. 2019 and is well worth a visit.  Today was my third visit to the exhibit, specifically to remember the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles (he was shot on the evening of June 5, 1968, and died after midnight.).

The 1968 Exhibit is much more than just about Bobby Kennedy.  1968 was a tumultuous year, and the exhibit catches it in a manner that everyone can understand.  There were lots of school groups today.  It occurred to me that a student just completing kindergarten in 1968 would be 55 today.  Time (History) flies by and it takes work to preserve and make it relevant to future generations who should learn from its many lessons.

1968 Exhibit, Bobby Kennedy, Minnesota History Center.

A display entering the exhibit gives highlights of each month in 1968.  Here’s June:

I liked Bobby Kennedy.  I have no particular stories to share.  At the time of his death I was a junior high school geography teacher in suburban Minneapolis.  June 5 – a Sunday – was at the  very end of the school year.  We were, pardon the expression, still “shell shocked” from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr on April 4.  Our country seemed to have gone crazy.  Every month (above) had its theme.

There are endless stories and interpretations of the meaning of Bobby Kennedy, then and now.  We were better for his having been with us; he didn’t live long enough for us to know if he’d be nominated for election for President.

The 1968 Exhibit gives numerous other cues to conversation about other significant events the same year.

If you’re around the Twin Cities, take the time to visit, sometime in the next months.

June 5, 1968, Los Angeles CA


from SAK:  

Thanks for the post, Robert Kennedy deserves to be remembered & yes admired. Many have mentioned that he was very influential while brother John was president – some even said he was the brainy one. While a student in the US I listened to JFK’s speeches at the university library. Impressive. How the standards have fallen . . . today we have tweeters. Perhaps Robert helped write these speeches but there is no doubt John knew a thing or two about oratory.

This book was published yesterday:

The Assassination Of Robert F. Kennedy by Tim Tate and Brad Johnson.

& here’s a British paper’s take.

This impromptu speech by Robert is very moving.

and here is something he said about consumerism & “economism”:

Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman‘s rifle and Speck‘s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Thanks again for reminding us of a great man and, sadly, of a great tragedy!


(2) Our National Insanity

Once again, a gremlin in editing feature of my blog…So, once again, I need to do a chapter 2.

Two comments came soon after publication about the Newsweek article about Al Franken:
from Eric: I went to Newsweek to read the Franken piece you highlighted. They have taken it down because they couldn’t verify it. Cheers and keep up the good work toward a better world.

from Carol, from Newsweek:Newsweek has retracted its story about a conservative botnet effort to force the resignation of Senator Al Franken.

The initial report was based on research conducted by Unhack The Vote, a group examining outside influence in U.S. elections and politics. It alleged that a “decidedly alt-right” botnet “weaponized” anti-Franken stories and amplified pressure on Franken to resign after allegations of sexual misconduct. Newsweek was unable to independently verify their claims after a further review of their work.

Newsweek regrets the error.”

Dick: I guess it just reemphasizes my point, that it is good to be skeptical about “facts”. At least Newsweek provided the correction, by removing the article.

from Claude: I liked your thoughtful blog, Dick. It’s easy to think that the new media (current and upcoming) are out of control because there are so many actors. “There is no pilot” to borrow a line from Laurie Anderson, poet/songwriter. Or to assume that the global corporations are learning on the fly to use the new media for planetary crowd control. The truth is more likely in the middle.

There is much to be learned on media by revisiting Marshall McLuhan who is my hero when it comes to media studies. Most people think he only focused on TV and therefore is out-of-date. But his ideas were born from looking back at the big picture which includes the invention of the phonetic alphabet, the printing press, telegraph (Marshall 1844 as the start of the Electric Age with the coming of the commercial telegraph), radio, TV, etc.

One of his prescient insights was his generalization (and warning) that every new medium gets the content it deserves. That’s why your insight that a tweet is a headline without content hit me like a brick.

I have a playlist of my “video collages” devoted specifically to Marshall McLuhan: here

In a couple of them [#42 and 43] I use the clip in which Marshall states “If unimpeded the logic of this sort of electric world is stasis.”

Thanks for all you do. Uploaded video collages are here.

Dick: Speaking as a former junior high school teacher in a large junior high school, there is no more stupid idea than arming teachers to take out potentially dangerous intruders. I recall a situation in the late 1960s when a 9th grade kid – a student – came to my school with a pistol. In those days, and in that situation, he was just a show-off in a crowded hallway between classes, and the administration dealt with it since he was near the office. He had the gun, and it was a crowded hallway. He could have been anywhere in the building. He was, as I say, just a showoff, a ninth grader. This was 50 years ago. I still remember the incident.

2:35 a.m. Overnight came this, from a long-time good and valued friend in another state. It speaks for itself.

(click twice to enlarge)

So…I’m a “Democrat” and thus a killer? That seems the implication. The enemy is me! I’m sure my friend will dispute this, but that is the narrative sold to the ‘flock’, terrified that they will lose their weaponry.


I’m no stranger to the “guns” conversation. Put “guns” in my search box (above right), and you’ll see reference to 66 posts that have the word. If you read every one of them, you’ll not one time any advocacy for getting rid of guns in this society, though I have never owned a firearm, and don’t intend to, and years ago qualified as expert with the M-1 in the U.S. Army. What I call for is sane management of guns, more than the tiny ‘bandaids’ proposed.

The insanity of this whole converstion is that I think it is far more likely that Guns are a liability than an asset for those who use them – or threaten to use them – as self-ordained militia. Prisons are full of people who murdered someone with a gun. Most of them probably felt the victim had it coming….

With respect to the instant issue, I think that the Parkland high school shootings may end up being for the gun lobby and its supporters the same as the Kent State killings in 1970 escalated the end of the Vietnam War. Yes, 1970 is a long time ago. But back then the young had finally had it with they or their friends being cannon fodder in Vietnam.

To my old friends, from my generation, this battle has to be for the youth who are most affected. Our day is past. Support, yes. Dominate, no. To the youth, this is my test for you: how are you going to manage your own future concerning weapons and other aspects of your future? It is a serious question. Another question to think about: how does the serious proposal to make universal the right of gun owners to transport their states gun rights into someone else’s state. That is frightfully near passage in the Congress.

With no military weaponry easily available to a teenager on Valentine’s Day, 2018, there would be no 17 dead being mourned now in Florida.

The same can go for other deadly events where other weapons of destruction were the players, such as the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. An army of gun-toting defenders against violence at Murrah Building would have had no chance.

We are a violent society. It is time that we deal with ourselves.

From Norm (Norm is a long-time DFL (Democratic) activist in Minnesota.) News story this morning regarding Tim Walz’s decision to support some gun control efforts that the NRA does not support. Walz is a member of the NRA and has received support from that organization in the past, support that may now be in jeopardy.

Obviously, contrary to some of the claims made by some folks residing under our big tent, NRA membership does not mean that a member supports all of its official public policy positions. In fact, there have been indications that the “rank and file” NRA members generally support more controls such as background checks and so on.

The news article claims that the “change in position” by Walz on the matter will put him at odds with Minnesota gun owners which may or may not be true.

In any event, his new position on the matter may change the dynamics of the race for governor in Minnesota both in the DFL contest for party endorsement as well as for the support of the Republican candidate for the office, Tim Pawlenty.

You can be sure that once Pawlenty enters the fray, he will wrap himself in the Second Amendment which the Supreme Court of the US has affirmed as meaning the right of all citizens to bear arms for protection and so on at any time and not just in the time of war.

As such, the argument as to what the Second Amendment means has been settled.

On the other hand, if the claims are true that most NRA members favor some additional controls on the purchase and ownership of guns, then Walz may benefit by speaking out on the matter as he has just done.

Of course, as you well know, his change of position as well as any more tragedies like the recent one in Florida will significantly increase the sale and registration, i.e. permits to carry, throughout the US which may not work in Walz’s favor.

Big doings (as one of my uncle would also refer to as local events in my home town) this weekend in the NRA sponsored conference of conservatives that will be attended by the narcisstic draft dodger and his VP as well as I am sure other prominent Republican legislators to reassure their supporters that all is well and that no one is going to take away their guns.

I am sure that the spin will be on the Second Amendment and the right of citizens to defend themselves with a suggestion or two regarding arming school teachers and/or placing guards in the schools. They will probably also throw in something about preventing mentally ill folks from purchasing and owning guns…which would seem to be almost an impossible thing to legislate let alone prevent.

I mean, do mentally ill folks walk around with a scarlet M on their foreheads or a wrist band noting that they are mentally ill?

They will emphasize that they are only concerned about public safety, of course!


Our National Insanity

Published as the students from Marjory Stoneman Johnson are speaking in Tallahassee FL.

Previous related posts: Feb. 14, Feb 15, Feb. 17 (two posts)

Today is one week out from the massacre at Parkland, Florida.

In the last 48 hours came two items that especially drew my attention. There are many, many more such items, granted, but I’d recommend these two:

1. The Washington Post (WaPo), on Monday morning, simply listed the names of those killed in mass shootings in the United States since Columbine, April 20, 1999. I hope you read it, here.

But only one week after the carnage in Parkland, FL, on Valentine’s Day, we seem generally back to our “normal”: A kind of national insanity, hopelessness. Outrage replaced by resignation…except for a few very brave souls.

2. Then there’s the plague of misinformation: Newsweek Online, scroll down to the article “The social media psy op that took down Al Franken“. These days it is hard work to decide what to believe. Is everything “fake news”. No longer is it a foolish question. Can I even trust “Newsweek”?

Newsweek. I subscribed to Newsweek for many years, at minimum through 2004 (I have hard evidence of such here in my home office). But Newsweek the magazine no longer even exists. Thankfully there’s a wiki article about Newsweeks changes in recent years.

WaPo, too, has gone through major changes in ownership. Washington Post is a part of the Amazon empire.

Then there are local entities, like the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to which we have long subscribed, but which I rarely read these days. It is a shell of its former self, and the most recent years ownership reflects a different ideological slant from years ago, when I was first subscribing.


And how about your social media choices? As we are learning through the Russia indictments (and the Franken gambit, above referenced), social media is a major problem. We are living in the “wild west”, open to being duped. No one can blame anyone else for their personal gullibility. We need to be our own gatekeepers, when responsible gatekeepers are few and far between.


How to be an “informed citizen”?

It is one thing for a “tweet” to reflect the tweeters own “truth”, which may or may not have a shred of truth within. A tweet is a headline with no content, no substance. Gullible consumers can take that tweet, etc., and create their own fantasy reality.

As a society, today we are in very, very dangerous territory. We are susceptible to addiction to deliberately false misinformation.

Informed and engaged are ever more essential. Like most everyone, it is easy for me to become almost paralyzed by the blizzard of information (and, especially) mis-information swirling around. There is no more important task, now, than to stay on the court.


I come from an era where there was a reasonably safe presumption that your “mainstream” print media gave a reasonably decent shot at “fair and balanced”, or at least was basically truthful (in the religious sense – lying was once a big deal).

I recall touring Harry and Bess Truman home in Independence MO with my Dad, in 1983. The guide pointed out the kitchen table where Harry read – if I recall correctly – 5 newspapers every day, including the local Independence publication.

There was a television in the living room. Harry died in 1972, Bess in 1982, and the best guess is that neither spent much time in front of the tube whose programming was, then, very unsophisticated compared with today.

(If you’re in the Twin Cities make it a point to see “1968” at the Minnesota History Center. It will give you a window into communication and events of that watershed year in our history as a nation. You have 11 months, still to see it. It is very worthwhile as a thought-provoking place.)

I didn’t see television until my junior year in high school, 1956, and then it was a single channel with awful reception on only during the daytime and early evening.


As for today, watch very carefully your own choice of “news” tomorrow. I don’t care your ideology. Watch it carefully. If you’re one of those who still get newspapers, note what you read. Note what it includes, and by extension what it excludes.

If your major source of news is other media, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or similar, notice what you choose to open. What do you know about the source of that news, if anything? What do your choices say about you?

Not all of you are on Facebook. Daughter Joni’s post on Thursday (here) has received a lot of attention. Yesterday, came another Facebook post from Joni, referencing something which had moved and inspired me many years ago.

Double click to enlarge the screen shot. Here’s the pdf: Joni on Risk003

As best I can discover, this inspirational saying is attributed to William Arthur Ward.


Always informative: Just Above Sunset for today: “On Being Oblivious to Humiliation“. Consider subscribing. The price is right: free.

POSTNOTE: As I’ve previously noted (Feb. 15), I was more than a far-away spectator of Columbine High School, April 20, 1999. Little did we know, then, the future. Yes, there were outrages before: the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City by white anti-government types April 19, 1995, comes immediately to mind.

Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Johnson HS has much more potential for long term action than the earlier Columbine. For one thing, communication means are now universal. Columbine was before iPhones (2007); as well as the other technologies previously mentioned (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter).

Columbine could reasonably be viewed as an aberration at the time. No longer.

I applaud the kids who are getting in action. And everyone else who has the courage to speak out.

(2) “Editors Update” notes” for February 17:

Once again the ‘gremlin’ said ‘no’ to some important updates to the previous post, dated also today (see updates below). This is the fourth post in this “thread”: Feb. 14, 15 and earlier today. When I contemplated the Valentine’s Day post, and the Ash Wednesday connection with it, I could not have conceived of what has happened since then. The temptation is paralysis. But this is a time for action, not passivity. And we all need to work as individuals and together for positive change.

UPDATES to earlier Feb. 17 post
See also February 15 post, “Guns, again” here; and “#MeToo” for Feb. 14 here.

This time of year, in 2001, we heard about a public preview of a new movie, Bowling for Columbine, at a large Presbyterian church in St. Paul. We stood in line, got seats, film producer Michael Moore was there, and talked about the film. The place was packed; they did a second showing that night. The film was released in 2002. Of course, the film garnered controversy. It is worth seeing again, or for the first time.

A year ago, March, 2017, I once again walked up Cross Hill above Columbine High School. There is now a permanent memorial to those who died in 1999. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post after we returned home: Columbine – Denver Post. They considered publishing it (they contacted me) but to my knowledge it never appeared in the paper.

If you missed the preview week of “The World Is My Country”, and now wish you’d seen it, here’s another opportunity, till February 21. Password: wbw2018 (lowercase)

Today’s Just Above Sunset, The Hammer Drops. The Mueller Indictments of the Russians. Here are the actual indictments as printed.



from Fred: Your daughter’s comments are telling. I hope they get broad circulation.

It is interesting to me, [my friend] Dave as well, that we taught in a “high crime” area in a large metro area for many years. We saw horrible crimes take the lives of our students: the February 1994 gang firebombing of a house across the street from our school that killed five children, including two of our students, and the murder, by their disturbed mother, of six children, again including two of our students, quickly come to mind. Shooting were not common but the a neighborhood grocery clerk, a block from school, was shot and killed in a robbery. Same goes for an SA clerk four blocks north of our building.

Crime was a fact of life at our school and something that we dealt with successfully as a faculty, neighborhood and student body. My use of the word “successfully” refers to the determination of all involved to keep the kids safe and productive while inside the school. We had security in the school—front door monitors, sign-ins, police on duty for night meeting, etc.—from the early ’90s on. Unwelcome outsiders caused problems but not often. Nevertheless, I remember an armed robbery in the parking lot and a few stolen cars from the lot (including mine) over the years.

But we never needed to consider what your daughter contemplates on a daily basis: a well-armed intruder bent on killing. I see columnist Max Boot, no liberal snowflake he, commenting about an American “suicide pact” with the NRA and the gun lobby. I fear that the pact is yet unbroken, but am hopeful that the growing outrage in the nation will finally coalesce and produce change.

from Jeff: Gov. Scott of Florida called for the FBI Director’s resignation because of a field office mistake (NYTimes Feb. 16), to which a letter writer responded: “Please do a full piece setting out all of Florida’s gun laws, especially those enacted under Rick Scott’s “leadership”. Eg. at 18 you can buy an AR-15 but not a hand gun; you can buy a gun without photo ID but you can’t vote with out it; you don’t need a license or permit to buy or sell a gun; you don’t have to register a gun; police can only act if there’s an immediate “mental health crises” at the time of interaction between the “suspect” and the police. Compare the list with the rules and requirements of dog ownership.”

from David: You would think that America valued it’s children, its future, more than anything. Not true. America has decided that children, whether they are in a Florida school or on the mean streets of Chicago, are merely collateral damage in the sacred fight to preserve “Second Amendment Rights.” Politicians have climbed into bed with the NRA ghouls and seem to be able to wash the blood off their hands with “thoughts and prayers.” The public seems to have become numb to whatever latest slaughter turns up on the nightly news. We mumble something to the effect that “someone” should do something but then change the channel and move on. Dead children at Sandy Hook? Dead children in Florida? Dead children on Plymouth Avenue? Someone should do something about this. Meanwhile, I’ve got the Olympics to watch.

from Fred: Well said. I think the general cultural temperature is rising these days thanks, in large part to our leader, AKA The Great Uniter. The center grows restless and sullen, the left angrier, and the right ever more defensive. Raft loads of bad news washes up on the shores of Fortress Maralago. The Emperor has no clothes and even some of his rabid followers are taking notice.

from Carol: Al Hoffman, a big GOP donor in Florida, has notified the Governor and other Rs in the state that he will not be writing any more donation checks until a ban on assault weapons is in place.

from Kathy: Hopefully the young people’s uprising will be big enough to get background checks and not more assault weapons into legislation. Our generation sure has not been able to get it done.

Communicating. Parkland. Littleton.

Associated Press photo front page Minneapolis Star Tribune February 14, 2018

Friday came this powerful Facebook post from my daughter, a suburban Middle School Principal.

“Every single day I walk into my school as the principal, it crosses my mind. “Will today be the day it happens here?”

Every single day I wonder about the student we suspended that said horrible things as they were escorted out of the building.

Every single day I think about the non-custodial parent desperate to see her/his children.

Every single day I think about the phone calls advising me of another “ugly divorce” or a domestic abuse incident. “It was a tough night. Can you let his teachers know he might be a little off today?” the parent asks.

Every single day I think about the multiple entrances to the building that I check to make sure they latched properly when the last staff member or student entered in the morning.

Every single day I think about all the places someone could hide and lay in wait.

Every single day I think about all those people who use “because it’s my right…” to acquire arsenals of weapons “because they can” in America.

And every single day I think about how easily the children can access those weapons because “By God, it’s my right to own these weapons.”

Every. Single. Day.

Your “right” to own guns is NOT more important the safety of my students and my staff and my own children and their teachers. If you get angry about gun control conversations and want to resort to “because it’s my right”, you need to check yourself. If you resort to “We need better mental health services or awareness” but don’t want to engage in a conversation about gun control in America or affordable health care for all, you need to check yourself. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and (& and & and & and…)

Every single day before you assert “Because it’s my right…”, I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of every parent who has buried a child as the result of gun violence. I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of the parents whose child’s body lay where they died inside that Florida high school all night because they were part of the crime scene. I ask you to show some respect and compassion and put those innocent lives in front of your “right”to own a gun. And I ask you to do this…Every. Single. Day.”

It took courage for Joni to say what she did, yesterday. Joni has that courage…. Violence in our civilized society is controversial, and even acceptable.

(click to enlarge)

Cross Hill above Columbine High School, April 1999, granddaughter Lindsay by the crosses, late April, 1999


I think back 18 years:

April 20, 1999, I was returning to my office from a meeting in north suburban Minneapolis. A bulletin came over the car radio about a shooting at a school in Littleton Colorado.

There were no details. Just one of those news bulletins.

Littleton. That was where my son and family had lived since 1988. In April, 1999, their daughter, my granddaughter, was 12.

Soon, the word “Columbine” entered my vocabulary. Either by e-mail or phone – I forget which, now – I learned the shootings were at the high school, and that my family was okay. I looked Columbine up on the then-version of Mapquest, but that was of little help. It was mis-located. I was soon to learn that my family lived little more than a mile from Columbine High School.

They still do.

The horror began to unfold in the evening news of April 20. My son was pretty sure he’d seen the two killers in a local McDonald’s restaurant not long before the carnage began.

A couple of days later: another meeting, in another suburb. This time, with a group of about 20 of us in the Minnesota School Public Relations Association professional development group, almost all of us school PR people. Of course, we all knew about Columbine. Somebody mentioned how impossible a job it must be, now, for the Littleton school PR person (Columbine was part of Jefferson County CO public schools). I mentioned my relationship to Columbine. Instantly we realized what was, even then, a reality: every place, every person, is in some way or another stitched together. Columbine wasn’t them; it was us.

Mostly we talked by phone or in e-mails then. Facebook, the earliest innovation for instant communication, was 5 years in the future, then. YouTube 6 years away. Twitter 7 years…. How easy it is to forget. Joni’s Facebook this morning was not imaginable in 1999.

By circumstance, that week in 1999, I had my ticket for a planned rendezvous Apr 24-30 with a brother and sister in Zion and other parks in Utah. I had purchased the round-trip with a stop in Denver and a short visit with my Littleton family.

Saturday morning, May 1, in a gentle rain, we walked slowly up what come to be known as “Cross Hill” in Lambert Park, overlooking the high school. We were among hundreds of sombre visitors. It was nearly two weeks after the massacre, and you could still feel the intensity. At one point, Rev. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral, along with camera crew, walked up the very muddy hill near where we were standing. Doubtless the video was for his Sunday service the next day.

Back home, National Teacher Day – I believe it was May 4 that year – I was scheduled to give a short talk to educators in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, where I had worked and lived years earlier.

I decided to wear the same clothes I had worn a few days earlier, walking up Cross Hill above Cross Hill in Littleton. I asked Joni, then a teacher, who had gone to school in Anoka years earlier, if she wanted had any recollections that I could share. Joni instantly remembered her second grade teacher, Clem Gronfors, who stood out for her many years earlier, and I mentioned him, and in the audience someone started to cry. She was a teacher, Sue, who was delivering “meals on wheels” to a now very elderly and ailing Clem.

Saturday, February 17, 2017: We probably all thought, those horrible weeks in 1999, that we had seen the worst, that we would not ever see something so horrible again.

How wrong we were.

We’ve all experienced simply the most recent example of an even more horrific Columbine, in Parkland Florida. Columbine was just the beginning. Over and over and over again. Denying an ugly reality. This seems what we have become.

How do we all respond from today forward?

The ball is in each of our courts…. This is no time to be a passive citizen.

If you missed the preview week of “The World Is My Country”, and now wish you’d seen it, here’s another opportunity, till February 21. Password: wbw2018 (lowercase)

Today’s Just Above Sunset, The Hammer Drops. The Mueller Indictments of the Russians.

Guns, Again.

A very sad iconic photo of the Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day massacre at the school in Florida: Florida school massacre001. (That’s the reason for the cross on the ladies forehead.)

If nothing else, take time today to visit these two websites: That’s Gabby Giffords, then Arizona Congresswoman, shot doing the business of being Congresswomman Jan. 8, 2011. Paralyzed.

Then visit Brady Campaign. Jim Brady was Ronald Reagan’s Press Secretary, shot along with the President March 30, 1981, in Washington D.C. Paralyzed. Jim and Sarah, his wife, fought the good fight for years. They are both deceased. Their story is here.

I’m a long-time contributing member to both organizations.

Doubtless there are many other common sense organizations to stop the insanity of guns in our society. Find one, get involved.

Most important:

We have our own paralysis: variations of “I can’t do anything”.

I have the same feeling. It’s not that I haven’t engaged. I just put “guns” in the search engine for my blog and 63 references come up. But I fall into my own paralysis again and again.

The only sure thing about that paralyzed feeling is the certainty that if you can’t do anything, you’ll get the exact same result as the feeling: nothing.

Do something. And then keep doing something. There needs to be far more than a single eruption of concern and outrage today.

Cross Hill above Columbine High School, April 1999, granddaughter Lindsay by the crosses, late April, 1999

This year, April 20, is 19 years after Columbine High School. My then 14 year old granddaughter and her parents lived, and still live, little more than a mile from Columbine – essentially walking distance. She didn’t attend Columbine, but when I heard about the massacre (driving on the freeway in Brooklyn Park MN), I certainly paid very close attention. I was at the school, with the family, at the end of the week, at Cross Hill, still a monument, above the school. That is the photo, above.

The Crosses? Immediately after the killings, a man, I believe from Illinois, came west with crosses, one for each of the dead, including for the two students who killed the others. He placed the crosses on a hill of dirt probably from previous construction. They became their own controversy, and the two to the killers were cut down and removed. We were at Cross Hill one year ago in March. It is still there, but now a formal monument.

Today’s Just Above Sunset, if you wish. Scroll down to the para beginning “This was a bad Valentine’s Day at the White House” for the content about Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, Valentine’s Day 2018.


from Jeff: Congress sends its hopes and prayers, but its too soon to talk about it. It really is very hard not to be cynical about this….they will talk about mental illness now, missing the point that the accessibility and ease of [getting] guns is the actual problem.

from Greg: This tells about the amazing lady after whom the school was named in Parkland Florida. She lived, really lived 108 years. Knowing about her will help us get through the next several days. here

from Carole: No question that we need universal access to medical care and services. Which means that we need a large percentage of the women running for office right now to succeed.

from a long-time Republican friend: Add to this the congressman that is working to get a reciprocity law past which will allow citizens of states that allow open-carry to come into our states and openly carry their weapons. We do need to overturn the congress and clear out all the right wing crazies. I’m pleased to see so many GOP congressman bailing out at the end of their term. Can’t close with my usual “Cheers”. Not much to cheer about today.

Occasionally my edit feature “freezes” on me, and so it happened with yesterdays post. Here are some later comments received yesterday on that post.

from Mary: Thanks Dick for sharing your thoughts and the Valentines. My mom use to make the Valentine box for my class. I think from 1st to 4th grade. Needless to say it was always spectacular which was way the nuns always asked her to make it. I felt very proud of her.

from Darleen: Thanks for the Valentine’s thoughts / memories. I remember seeing my Mother’s cards which were very similar. I made some for my children and grandchildren this yr. Not as dramatic as those old ones, but modern scrap booking… Life was simpler back then — less meetings / clubs / expectations. There was time to run and play and sort out thoughts / beliefs / dreams.

from Lydia: Seeing the old Valentines was a bright moment on Valentine’s Day. Thank you!
While this is a day that’s almost entirely associated with romantic love, I’ve enjoyed using it as a way to appreciate friendships—a connection NOT nearly as appreciated in our society, as I wish it was—especially between men & women. In fact. many still seem to believe that deep friendship is NOT even possible between men & women–only a “prelude” to sex & romance—or those feelings being unrequited on one side or the other. I feel lucky that I’ve had close platonic men friends since high school.

If we found a way to encourage more NON-romantic friendships between men & women, I wonder if that would go some measure towards healing the attitudes that have made the #MeToo movement necessary. An inability to see women as anything EXCEPT an object of sexual desire or to respect women’s right of consent is certainly part of what fuels much (not all) sexual harassment.

Today, men and women are in situations that the past hasn’t prepared us for: some couples inevitable form out of work relationships—and there’s nothing wrong with that. My only caveat would be: it must be made clear that men have to take NO for an answer and NOT be persistent when a co-worker declines. When it’s a supervisor employee situation, frankly people should simply be expected to”act professional”–as it’s too easy to make it at least appear that “job pressure” is being applied. Women have to assert ourselves—but, NOT be punished for doing so. At the same time, I’d apply an Alcoholics Anonymous motto “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”: sexual jokes, a pat on the shoulder, compliments on one’s appearance—UNLESS they are particularly CRUDE & FREQUENT. Then, Human Resources should step in and the “offender” gets a CLEAR WARNING. (NOT fired for first complaints).

Of course, much of what’s been described by women in these last months of the #MeToo movement is far worse than what I’ve described. At times I’ve thought some of it was “small stuff”. With Sen. Al Franken, it sure SEEMED to be “small stuff” EVEN if I believe everything his first accuser—fellow USO performer 11 years ago—was a former lingerie & Playboy model turned into a Fox commentator. I just didn’t believe that a KISS was “traumatic” for her. It smelled by like a political hit-job & that (allegedly) progressive women who were Franken’s colleagues piled on REALLY disappointed me a lot.

There are CONCRETE things that should & must be done. Changing how CONGRESS itself addresses sexual harassment is a start. But, personally, as a survivor of sexual assault (actual rape), I’d like to see FULL FUNDING & a REQUIREMENT to test ALL the “rape kits”/DNA evidence gathering dust in police departments across the country. Whenever that backlog is addressed, perpetrators WITH MULTIPLE VICTIMS are identified and gotten off the streets.

No doubt, there are many more conversations that will come out of the #MeToo movement& they won’t be comfortable. Women have to be honest, men have to listen and we all have to see how we can create a more equitable environment. Starting with a FRIENDS FIRST attitude towards one another could help.

Donald Trump/Charlottesville; Woodrow Wilson/Birth of a Nation

In memory of Heather Heyer, fatality at Charlottesville, and the other injured at Charlottesville VA.

Recommended reading: The Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra.


Sometimes it may be useful to consider a problem from a different perspective.

With all the justifiable horror of Charlottesville, I have been noticing, within my own circles, increasing attention to being positive; to be, as most of us have found most ordinary Americans to be, very positive people, accepting and generous – inclusive, not exclusive. A part of a global community, not an isolated island. Individual positive actions make a very large difference.

In the last couple of days I have seen references to a time about 100 years ago which showed us reverting to our worst – the Jim Crow era – and I want to offer an old book found in a shed as food for thought. (Here’s more about “Jim Crow”.)

(click to enlarge)

From the Birth of a Nation Reprint of the 1905 book, The Clansman

Recent talk has been about President Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) who had a particular affection for segregation. It was during his term that the racist film, Birth of A Nation, hit the screen. The silent film played in the White House.

You’ll notice that Woodrow Wilson was Democrat; and Jim Crow Laws were passed by Democrat legislators in primarily the deep south. Abraham Lincoln was Republican. We are often reminded of this. The shift in ideology (policies of exclusion shifting political party “sides” as it were) happened fairly quickly, most likely in the 1950s.) A pioneer in this shift was Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey in the late 1940s. Civil and Human Rights became largely a Democrat thing, and still is. The Party of Lincoln is now the Democratic Party….


We, regardless of party, like to pretend we’re insulated from racism – we’re not racist – but it’s helpful to be honest about this.

Out on the old North Dakota farm, amidst the junk, I found a book with an intriguing title, The Clansman (frontispiece of the book is in the photo above).

The Clansman is probably still available, and I’ve encouraged people to read it to get a taste of those horrid old days post-reconstruction. It is a nasty book, not pleasant reading, but very instructive particularly in these mean times exemplified by Charlottesville, Virginia.

The whites – the slave owners – were terrified of free blacks, seems the essence of the message of “The Clansman. What would happen now that slaves were free? Today, of course, our national leader has ginned up fear of others, generally: “Immigrants”, “Muslims”, “Mexicans”…. If you’re in one of these target classes, you know the feeling of contempt and fear. If you’re not – like myself – it is much harder to appreciate being excluded.

The ND farm “Clansman” was a re-publication, in about 1915, of the 1905 book. It was published during the Woodrow Wilson administration, most likely in conjunction with the release of Birth of a Nation (1915), since it includes some photos from the “photo-play”.

How did this old tattered book get on the farm? Why was it kept, to be found in 2015 in a shed? Lots of questions without answers, as all of the residents of the original farm are dead and gone.

The book was once property of the Moorhead (MN) Public Library about 120 miles away, and there is only one indirect family tie I know of there. Beyond that, everything is speculation.

Somehow or other, the fact of the matter is that The Clansman spent the better part of its 100 year history on a small farm in rural North Dakota.


The direction our country goes from this day forward is up to we citizens – every single one of us.

We’re the only ones who can redirect. A large part is who we choose to elect to U.S. Congress, state Legislators, Governors, etc. The heavy lifting has to be our own, much more than lamenting or complaining.

There’s plenty of information available about the problem. I highly recommend the Southern Poverty Law Center site. It has a long history of following hate in the United States.

Meanwhile, each day I am more and more aware of how kind people are being to each other…. I don’t think it is my imagination. I have taken time to notice.

It is time for some creativity to work to tamp down the cancer of racism which is, thanks to the current President, out of the shadows, a festering wound. Change happens by action of individuals, one positive act at a time.

Our entire national history is rooted in slavery: we’ll probably never eradicate this part of our national DNA, but we certainly can tamp it down, starting with ourselves.

COMMENT: Just a couple of data points relating to the shift to the GOP by the Jim Crow advocates, who when I was growing up were referred to as the Southern Democrats. When Ike was in office, these southern racists were firmly in the Democratic Party. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act, there was a significant movement by these folk to the GOP, largely during the 1968 elections. The most significant movement took place in 1980 by those referred to as Reagan Democrats. Those folks now call themselves Evangelicals, and they are the homeland of the majority of the KKK chapters. They make up approximately 17% of the nation population. Combine that with the 9% of moderate Republicans and you have the 26% of the population that currently make up the GOP base.

Another interesting point that I’m sure you are aware of is that Trumps dad was a Klansman. He participated in a 1920 or 1924 demonstration march. They didn’t dare go into New York, so the chose to do the march across the bridge in New Jersey.


Related: Just Above Sunset summarizes the last few days at the White House.

The Philando Castile Memorial on Larpenteur Avenue, at entrance to State Fair Grounds, Falcon Heights MN August 10, 2017

I was in Roseville for a meeting on August 10, and had a few minutes, so drove over to nearby Falcon Heights to my old neighborhood to see the site where motorist Philando Castile was shot during a traffic stop a year ago. The police officer was recently acquitted of wrongdoing in the tragic incident, which involved guns. I’m of the mind in this situation that the ease of access to guns made the incident more likely. I wrote about this here.

This incident does not relate at all to Charlottesville, except that fear and race quite definitely entered into the equation. I urge dialogue.

Sign on a lawn, the next block up from where I used to live, August 10, 2017

Dick Bernard: Castile-Yanez

If you opened this post, you know the names and that the Jury decision in this case was national news last night; and occupied a great amount of space in today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune (our at home newspaper).

I’ve written twice about this case, both in the summer of 2016. You can read them here; and here.

The most powerful recent writing I’ve seen about Yanez-Castile is this Jon Tevlin column, written June 11, 2017, at the conclusion of the trial and as Jury deliberations were about to begin. It is worth your time.

I deliberately connect the two names, the motorist who was killed; the policeman who killed him.

They are both the victims, but in our “win-lose” society, it will be difficult to see this mutuality of relationship. We tend to take “sides”. Both polarities are valid, but not if one polarity is considered exclusive of the other. Both Yanez and Castile, to my reading, were good people, contributors to society. Castile is dead; Yanez and his family have to remake a life, somewhere, somehow, after a year of almost certain personal hell. In a sense, they died as well.

My hope is that there is lots of room for rational conversation about the issues raised. I can understand the polarities of the opposing camps. The demonstrations at the State Capitol last night were 15 minutes from where I write; when I did the second post cited above, after a Minnesota Orchestra concert last summer, a demonstration was gathering close by Orchestra Hall. The hard work will come when people can have civil conversations about what we can learn from this and other tragedies.

Fitting our gun-wealthy society, Yanez and Castile both had guns, both had them legally. (Tevlin says 265,728 Minnesotans – about 1 of every 20, perhaps one of 15 if you factor out kids – have permits to carry a gun).

Every police calculation has that in mind when engaging with any personal situation.

All of the rest about this issue you can read on your own. My editorial: “no guns, no death”. Of course, that won’t solve the argument.

Then I’ve noticed the other matter, conveniently dropped into the conversation, marijuana….

(The most accurate descriptor of me would be “tee-totaller” from youth to now. A soft-drink guy at gatherings.)

The “pot piece” will be discussed while folks are indulging – a beer, a drink, what have you; probably with a distinction for the drug, pot, what role did it play?


If you’re into reading, I’d recommend the new book “A Colony in a Nation” by Chris Hayes. Very early in the book – pages 16-19 – the stage is effectively set for this book, whose title comes from Richard Nixon’s speech to the 1968 Republican Convention (p. 30).

Take the time to read the book. It is timely.


As always, Castile-Yanez will disappear in a few days, as will the protests.

The goal ought always be long-term solutions, which are messy, and take lots of work, but are always worth it.

from Gail: Thanks, Dick – you always give us something to think about!

from Norm: A good and thoughtful set of observations, Dick.

Consistent with the concern Shawn Otto expresses in his book, the War on Science, this is another situation where people will focus on what they believe at least in the short term and ignore what the evidence showed or did not show. Obviously, in this case, the 12 person jury of his peers, including two African Americans, did not find that the evidence presented by the prosecution was sufficient to find Yanez guilty of the charges against him beyond the high bar of a reasonable doubt.

And, not surprisingly, the many folks who “knew” that Yanez was obviously guilty claimed that the system was rigged against them and one person even claimed that he/she hated the state of Minnesota in spite of all of the benefits that it provides to many folks thanks to the largess or generosity of its taxpayers.

Interestingly, while so many folks believe that the system failed them once again, not too many years ago, they thought that the system worked just fine when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the two murder charges brought against him because the prosecution, ill fitting glove and all, had not proven Simpson’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt…even though to many, many folks, the star NFL running back was “obviously” guilty as all hell.

Later, a civilian court did find him responsible for the death of the mother of his children using a less stringent level of doubt.

from a friend of many years: I am having a difficult time seeing any equivalency between losing your life and leaving a grieving family behind …. and losing your job because you are immature or just a scum bag like those folks that were responsible for all the Native American deaths reported in that package of articles that you recently sent me. With the host of ongoing discussions about the deaths of minorities at the hands of law enforcers, I have had a number of discussions relating to this issue with our local sheriff and other local law enforcement officers that I know. A common theme amongst the law enforcers is that they are trained to shoot to kill versus shooting to disarm. There was an elderly Native American wood carver sitting on a bench in Seattle carving a piece of sculpture who was killed by a police officer a couple of years ago because he had a knife and did not put it down quickly enough to suit the officer, and the officer went scot free. We cannot know what was in the heart of Yanez, but to pump five bullets into his victim brings both factors, bigotry and immaturity, into question. If Yanez was gripped by fear, a bullet into the leg of Castile would have quickly brought his hands to his wound. When I was a kid, 11 or younger, I would toss a stone up in the air and shoot it with regularity, taught to do so by my sister, who could do the same. So if we could shoot a small stone moving through the air, why can’t a trained law enforcer hit something as large as a leg? Immaturity or bigotry? When you pump a clip of bullets into a person, the intentions are clearly to ensure that you have killed that person. Yanez or someone in the force that provided him a gun should spend their lives in prison. Think about this false equivalency that you put forth.

from Dick, brief response to my friend, and others: For whatever it’s worth. I qualified as expert with the M-1 rifle in the Army days, but otherwise my gun career was plinking at gophers with a 22 – that sort of thing. I have never owned a gun, and consider their use whether offensively or defensively as a liability, not an asset, regardless of whether you’re a “stand your ground” homeowner, policeman, or gang banger settling scores. With a gun, you always lose. And that’s why I emphasized the gun in the Castile-Yanez article.

Every senseless death is a tragedy for an entire constellation of people. The larger problem, I think, is that we all tend to retreat into our preferred response…the many commentaries on this I see tend to start from a particular frame of reference. One really excellent and powerful response I had asked to print, the writer did not want printed, for whatever reason. It would have helped this conversation grow. Hopefully the writer will do more than just share the observations with me. So it goes.

from Dick, June 21: There were three comments to this post; only two of them are above. The third was very powerful but the writer asked that it not be posted, and I respect those boundaries.

Last night, the police car dash cam coverage of the shooting was broadcast for the first time; today’s paper was full of news….

How to deal with this tragedy as a learning opportunity is not at all clear. The tendency is to take a polarized position one way or another.

We all can pronounce what could have/should have happened in all aspects of this case. We have the luxury of this judgement. Philando Castile and Jeronimo Yanez had their deadly and tragic moment. I wonder how I would have reacted, if in either persons position that fateful afternoon in 2016. A couple of years ago I was pulled over for what turned out to be failure to signal a turn. For me, it was not a neutral event. I was very nervous. And I’m just an old white guy justing driving from point A to point B.

It would be nice to have a rational and ongoing conversation, but early indications don’t seem to point in that direction.

I think it will be difficult, and it may be impossible, to learn from this tragedy to help prevent the inevitable next one.

#1144 – Dick Bernard: The "Incident" in Falcon Heights MN July 6, 2016

NOTE: Responses welcome, to: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom. Indicate if you are willing to share your reponse; it and others will be included in a later post at this space.

Thursday, I posted about the 100th anniversary of the end of the awful carnages in 1916 at the Somme and Verdun, France.
Jeff, who recommended the reminder of the horrors of 1916, mentioned almost off-handed what had just happened just hours before in the Twin Cities suburb of Falcon Heights (my home address about 30 years ago). I had not yet heard of the killing of the African-American by a policeman during what seemed a routine traffic stop Wednesday night, but I had included something of a footnote to the main post, and called the killing in Falcon Heights an “Incident” in my headline.
My friend, Christine, Parisienne, was first to respond: “You would be crucified in France to call [the killing in the St. Paul suburb] an “incident”!!!
I asked her for an alternative, and her comment, and my response follow Andrena’s below.
Jeff, again, in suburban Burnsville, sent a comment yesterday from a business person in his circle: “I got an email today regarding business, the guy is an Italian ex pat who has lived in Ethiopia over 30 years. He has an agricultural cleaning and exporting business. He is in his early 70’s.”
At the end of the Italian-in-Ethiopia’s email was this comment:
“St. Paul is very near to Burnsville [Jeff’s home area]. When the police asks for the driving licence do they ask at gun point?”
But today’s commentary, about how it is to be black in this country, in the raw, came on Friday from Andrena, a good friend of mine and others. Andrena is a professional woman, and gave her testimony about being black in St. Paul sometime a week or so earlier.
At the end of the post, I will add my own two cents. But first, Andrena, with her permission:
“I can’t deal with any of this today. I’m back in the crying and anger mode. Why? Because white folks are pissed off about [MN] Gov. Dayton’s comments yesterday when he stated, Philando Castile [who was the man killed by the policeman in Falcon Heights] wouldn’t have been stopped if he were white.
Also, they (white folks on WCCO radio) were questioning, the authenticity of the tape and wondering ‘what happened before the tape was rolling’. Well, it seems, Philando Castile was pulled over because he had a ‘wide nose’ not due to a busted tail light. And now, with the sniper killing in Dallas, those perpetrators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law (which they should be) but, more often than not, police are not held to the same standard when they murder innocent citizens especially, with a 4 year old in the back seat.
I wasn’t angry yesterday but I felt extremely sad and helpless as I do today.
What I didn’t post on FB [Facebook] last week is I was almost pulled over by St. Paul police last week.
I was leaving the Franciscan house after my rosary prayers located [at] Hamline and LaFond avenue [St. Paul]. I was headed to Cathedral Hill to meet a friend for a late dinner at Red Cow restaurant located [in] Selby/Western Ave. I took Thomas Avenue and crossed over Dale. As soon as I passed Thomas Ave and Kent Street which is the corner of St. Agnes Catholic church, the St. Paul police car spotted me and turned onto Thomas Avenue from Kent Street. The time of day was approx. 8:50 pm., nearing dusk. A black woman driving in Frogtown.
I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed the squad car was extremely close on my bumper, I purposely slowed down without hitting my brakes. As fate would have it, I saw the pastor of St. Agnes Catholic Church walking down the street as I was approaching a stop sign and the cop was literally on my bumper, I stopped, rolled down my window and spoke to Fr. Moriarity, waving my hand at him. Fr. Moriarity stopped and we talked for approx. 30 seconds while I was at the stop sign with the cop behind me.
I wanted the … cop to know, I’m not a bad person and I know this priest and he addressed me by my first name.
I then took Thomas Avenue to Western Avenue crossing over University Avenue and 1-94 while still on Western. … cop followed me on Western Avenue until Marshall. The point I’m trying to make is I knew I was being followed aggressively and yet, there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
I’m a professional woman with a high level…security clearance and yet, none of that made any difference. Why? Because in that officer’s eyes, I was a black woman, driving through Frogtown at dusk in a decent looking SUV who he felt was suspicious, probably up to no good, probably trying to score drugs. I’m certain he ran my tags and wanted to know [what] someone with a Woodbury address was doing in Frogtown. I don’t hate the police and they serve and protect us. The only problem is they serve and protect some of us.
Enough of my rant. I’m still weepy and pissed off today………………”

Dick: I responded back to Christine’s initial “incident” comment: “Perhaps I’ll be crucified here, too. Not really. What would it be called? I might change the word, if you give me a good alternative.
We are a basically decent country – you know that. But until the gun issue is dealt with, these outrages will continue. We are accustomed to people being killed by guns every day. It leads our news every night. The death in Falcon Heights has all sorts of different elements, which might make it more effective to demand change.
1) An apparently Innocent African-American who had a legal right to have a gun, which he said he had beforehand, was blasted away by what appears to be a frightened policeman.
2) He was a school worker who was popular and well liked in his job at an elementary school in St. Paul.
3) His killer was a young policeman whose name sounds Hispanic, but likely was 100% American. You can bet the policeman’s ethnic background will be talked about.
4) Most important, the victims girlfriend broadcast the entire incident live on Facebook and it will be seen worldwide, and people like you and I can talk about it.
I presume you saw the amended version of the post (I put up about 2 a.m.).
On July 2, in my usual understated way, I talked about the pre-eminence of gun violence in this country.”
Christine responded: “We would simply call it a mortal police blunder. I am not sure whether blunder would be strong enough…. accident might be better…
Une bavure policière mortelle
I am not trying to correct you but just comparing the way we would speak…The word incident would be understood as a non important event…and will bring millions of comments and threats and insults…”

Summary, from my personal point of view: Those of you who read these posts regularly know that I like “Just Above Sunset” to summarize the national scene, and the Friday night post, long as usual, does so well.
Personally speaking, we are all victims. We are held hostage by those g*ddamned GUNS which some insist should be almost completely unrestricted. Imagine a scenario in Falcon Heights in which a gun wasn’t a player. In the civilized world, restriction on guns works. Here we are less than civilized, too many of us.
I feel some empathy for that young policeman who did the killing in Falcon Heights. He was not a rookie, but nearly so, and he was probably scared, too. He had a wife and a kid, and now everything is gone for them. As I say, “imagine a scenario…in which a gun wasn’t a player.”
In my U.S. Army days back in 1962, we had a basic training drill with fixed bayonets on our old M-1 rifles. As we thrusted our rifle forward, in response to the chant, “what is the purpose of a bayonet?”, we said in unison, “To kill.” Yes, it sounds barbaric, but even back then, in the very early 1960s, the presumption was that you may have to do the evil deed of killing someone with an actual knife, hand-to-hand, person-to-person. That was also true in WWI.
By the mid-sixties we had the sniper in Texas picking off a dozen or so university students in Texas, and on we go. Our societal reverence for guns is insane.
Still, Andrena’s message is the one which most resonates with me. We have, we Americans, a major problem with relationships: the racial divide is real, and it is disgusting.
I don’t think we will ever get past racism: it is ingrained in everyone of us.
But I do think that there is potential for better, and as catastrophic as the last few days have been, we are making progress.
Yes, we are making progress.

from Jeff:
Well done. [The following is] worth a good read: (from MinnPost, here.)
from Larry: The woman [Andrena, above] who was followed by the police tells an eloquent story that’s quite relevant to the horrible behavior of the Falcon Heights police officer. This pathetic excuse for a police officer, obviously poorly trained and unsuitable to carry a loaded firearm, seems (from what I’ve read so far) as a reincarnation of the TV character, Barney Fife.
The Falcon Heights tragedy started with the hiring process and then the training. Clearly, both of these processes failed in this case.
from Mary: Always interesting to read perspectives but I hesitate to blame guns – there is a real intolerance for difference and an unhealthy appreciation for angry rhetoric. The very unfortunate reality in America is that it is deemed judgemental and politically incorrect to be respectful of others and there remains an unhealthy willingness to escape into the safety of firewalled technology to avoid the 70% or so of communication that is non verbal. I am with Christine…this is far more than an incident. This is disgusting no matter what your color or persuasions are……we must grow up and learn respect for each other.
Response to Mary: Thanks. I have no problem for what I call “farm guns” – the old 12 gauge and .22 and the like, and someone going hunting for duck or deer or such. We are long past those innocent old days. Now, with communication being as you well describe it, a gun is like a lit match over a can of flammable liquid. If people had to settle their differences with bayonets and machetes, hand to hand, there would be a whole lot less killing…though the killing will never end. It is now out of control, at least in our civilized nation.
from Bill: Two comments:
1. The policeman who did the shooting had on a previous stop of a minor traffic infraction pulled his gun on a woman driver. This may indicate a character flaw in his personality unfitting for a policeman.
2.One commentator on TV about this problem of how police approach a black person said “if you are afraid of approaching a person with a skin color different than yours you should not be in the police profession.”
from Bill: Thanks, Dick…nice job with all the comments….Mary started with “I hate to blame guns….” and then she went into intolerance, etc. Go ahead and include guns in the blame, nothing wrong with that! We just returned from Norway where – outside of a maniac (singular) a number of years ago, their gun violence is nil. Same with the U. K. Police there, as you know, do not carry guns. Ya, we “hate to blame guns” but there are WAY to many of them in the USA and too many of the wrong kind: the models that are only meant for killing people. Look at any weekly circular from Mills Fleet Farm…always a couple of pages of Bushmasters with 30 round clips. Really sick.

The Massacre in Orlando

POSTNOTE June 18: A letter to the editor which I will submit to the local newspaper next week (I missed this weeks deadline).
“The entire Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” (1791).
All the rest is argument about what those words mean, most recently the U.S. Supreme Court (2008).
For me, the question is very simple: what defines a civil society? What makes us civilized? For example: we have lived for years in a quad home in Woodbury. We share walls with three neighbors. There are 24 such homes (96 units) in our Association, governed by the rules set in Law.
We have been blessed to have good neighbors, and our town is good, too. But as we all know, with over 60,000 residents in a town, there is no assurance that all will be well. Expand that to over 5 million Minnesotans; over 300 million Americans; over 7 billion in our world, and a near absolute individual “ keep and bear arms” doesn’t translate to a “civil society” in which we all can live. Orlando is the latest example.
As I write, our own next-door neighbor for many years has her quad up for sale. She has retired, and is moving. We share a wall with her.
Her objective is to sell her home to someone who, we hope, will be a good neighbor. She would want the same, I’m sure, but mostly she wants to find a buyer.
With respect to the current debate, do we want a new neighbor who turns out to be armed and dangerous?
This is essentially what faces every one of us.
Currently, the complex rules relating to weaponry are set by lawmakers constantly threatened by organized political assassination solely for their actions on the gun issue: “Vote correctly or you’re dead.”
“Assassination? Harsh. True.
Orlando, Sandy Hook, all the rest can happen here. None of us are “free” of the threat.
We citizens are the only ones who can help restore sanity in the conversation about the sacred Second Amendment. We cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed into inaction; to enable the next Orlando, which is a certainty,somewhere within our own borders.
We citizens are the difference.”

POSTNOTE from Jermitt, June 13: Thanks for sharing. The article on Riding Death to the White House was powerful.
One week ago today, I attended the first day of the annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum at the Mall of America in Bloomington MN. It’s theme: Globalizing Compassion…Let us march!” I did a post about that first day last Tuesday, and attended the entirety of the rest of the powerful conference Tuesday and Wednesday. It was inspiring and exhausting, and coupled with a very busy rest of the week, I have not yet completed my thoughts on the recap of that conference.
Then came yesterday morning, waking up to the news about the massacre in Orlando, then headlined as possibly 20 dead; now 50 dead and over 50 wounded, the worst such carnage in American history; as best as can be determined, another one of these “lone wolf” carnages often facilitated by easy and legal access to deadly weapons which, as in Orlando, make wholesale mass murder of innocent people simple.
I yield my space to today’s “Just Above Sunset”, Riding Death to the White House. It is worth the time it will take to read, including the links.
Then, get into action, and stay in action.
“Politics” is every single one of us, and we all can do our bit. We all own a piece of this tragedy.
We can’t pretend it is not our problem to help solve.
Meanwhile, my recap of “Globalizing Compassion” will follow sometime this week.

1905  "Six Shooter" as discovered March, 2015

1905 “Six Shooter” as discovered March, 2015

Thoughts Three Days Later: June 15, 2016, 2 a.m.
Orlando is a tragedy on so many tracks, every one of them demanding our attention.
There is a single common thread that seems most important to me, the one that rises to the top, as we continue to try to make sense of insanity. That single thread is our unwillingness to even attempt to check the ever more dangerous guns that are making our own society less safe. Our society is truly making progress on most of the issues identified in Orlando, such as race and sexual orientation.
We are paralyzed on the gun issue. It is a dangerous paralysis.
1. Including the shooter*, it is now known that 50 people died at the Pulse in Orlando. Over 50 were injured, most severely. This is what a single deranged shooter, a lifelong U.S. citizen, with a combat grade weapon publicly sold in the United States can do. The primary weapon, apparently, was a SigSauer MCX. And we sell this type of horrific weapon to most anyone who walks in off the street?
This leads me to think of the 1905 “six shooter” pictured above. It came west with my grandfather in 1905. I doubt it was ever used, other than to be tried out. It was probably solely a self-defense weapon, as he came west with the basic ingredients for his new farm in North Dakota.
The very day of the massacre, the musical Hamilton, celebrating early politician Alexander Hamilton, got many Tony Awards. Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804 – a political dust-up. It is noted that Hamilton, probably deliberately, never fired his single shot, in effect, giving up his advantage. Aaron Burr “won”, but what?
Now a single shooter, legally, can buy and use a weapon designed for warfare, with warfare like results. That same individual can, in many places, conceal and carry, or flaunt the weapon in public.
2. Mitigating against this right, the track record for assassins, such as the murderer in Orlando, is not good: they ordinarily end up as dead as their victims, and those who survive do not have a promising future either.
Still, we as a society demand the right to possess and use deadly weapons for all sorts of reasons.
3. The main justification, the Second Amendment, apparently gives little cover who claim unrestricted rights. The “right to bear arms” is not unrestricted and never has been.
But politicians are cowards, with good reason: they have the “gun” of being assassinated (un-elected) pointed constantly at their head by the NRA and its ilk. It is difficult to blame politicians for encouraging a firing squad to do them in.
4. It is quite clear, now, that Orlando and other presumed “terrorist” plots are not an organized deal by ISIL or some other big scary acronym. It is also clear that the now-dead shooter would probably still be alive, along with his victims, had he not possessed the legal “right” to buy lethal weaponry in the state of Florida. Armed with something like Grandpa’s brand new pistol, he could not have pulled off the massacre in Orlando.
5. The solution rests with each of us, as citizens. We cannot be silent. We won’t get shot for standing up for, insisting on, action.
But we have to give politicians, the ones who will have to make the decisions in our democracy, cover for doing the right thing politically. In our system, it is the politicians that are going to have to take the action. It is not enough to blame politicians of any party.
We have the power.
We need to learn how to exercise it responsibly.

* – In Orlando and other places, the killer is as dead as the people he kills. But for some reason, his death isn’t treated the same as the others he killed. I first noticed then in 1999, in the wake of Columbine, when someone put up crosses above Columbine High School, which included crosses to the two teenagers who did that carnage. A day or two later, relatives of one of the slain removed the crosses to the killers….