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.

Three more free days for The World Is My Country

Yesterday ended of the Free Week to preview the film, “The World Is My Country”. There has been a very strong, positive response in my small corner of the internet world. If you missed the show for whatever reason, below, in a note from the producer, is your opportunity: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Feb. 2, 3, 4. Pass the word in your own networks.


“Due to the enthusiastic response to “​The World Is My Country​”​ ​the filmmakers have ​extended the CGS Free Week through Sunday February 4th!

This is the final ​deadline​ so click here. Sign in and then enter the code: CGS2018 is the pass code (Note: “CGS” must be in all capital letters).​

SPECIAL: If you order the DVD FilmFest screening kit or T-shirts etc. ​use the​ ​code CGS​2018 ​- you’ll get a 10% discount — and the filmmakers will send another 10% as a contribution to CGS! Click here.

Survey responses are pouring in:

​”​I cried through the whole thing. I wanted to create this 50 years ago when I was 9 but didn’t know how. My heart is so full.​”​ S.L.

​”​I felt inspired that one person could do so much. He is my new hero.​”​ A.P.

​”​I feel empowered, each time. It is a great film for anyone of any age with an interest in a better world.​”​ C.E.

This is a fabulous opportunity to build support for the goals you’ve always dreamed of. So ​check out the movie!


As for current events, yes, I did watch the State of the Union. More in a later post. Check back, later today.

Have a good weekend. Today the Super Bowl is in my town, Minneapolis. The vast majority of we natives will be as far from downtown Minneapolis as possible. If past is prelude, most of the American world will stop tomorrow evening, glued to the tube. Already, a friend passed along a delicious cookie, part of a batch made for a Super Bowl party Sunday….

“It Can’t Happen Here”

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

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


Tonight is the State of the Union.

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

We shall see, in a few hours.

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

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

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

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

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

Hitler and his Nazis promised a better day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get engaged.

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

Overnight and relevant: Capturing the Flag


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The World Is My Country

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information about this 84-minute film is here.

Comments/Questions? dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

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

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

The film “The World Is My Country”. One week to the free week, online

PRE-NOTE: An organization in which I’m active, Citizens for Global Solutions MN, sponsored the very successful World Premiere of this film, “The World Is My Country”, in Minneapolis in April, 2017*. Film Director Arthur Kanegis is offering anyone with internet access one free week access to this film, beginning one week from today, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2018. Details follow, as provided by the films producers. This is a unique opportunity. I hope you take the opportunity. Dick Bernard
For years you’ve known that our current path of war and ecological destruction is insane.

You’ve been trying to tell the world: ​”​There is a better way.​”​

Finally, a movie says it all – in ways you never dreamed of!

“The World is My Country,” is the perfect tool to show people there are GLOBAL SOLUTIONS!

It’s the movie that’s getting people out of their doldrums. It’s inspiring people with new hope. It’s the antidote to a world of “politics gone mad!”

It’s the intriguing story of how one little guy, a song and dance man on Broadway, turned his war guilt over bombing civilians into an electrifying action that galvanized war weary Europe and sparked a movement. A mighty movement that helped spark ​recognition that we have ​universal human rights​. A movement that helped inspire people to unite the nations of Europe – which ended a century of wars between its member states!

Now this film can help inspire the world to do ​something even better ​- so​ human rights can truly be honored and​ disputes can be taken to court not the battleground!

It’s a lost piece of history, that gives us what Martin Sheen calls: “A roadmap to a better future!”

The FREE FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING WEEK is January 26th – February 1st, 2018.

Sign up now to get your special viewing code here.

Here’s the deal. This film about World Citizen #1 Garry Davis is so new that it’s not yet being shown on PBS, in theaters or on Netflix or Amazon. It’s only being shown at film festivals​ – where it’s getting sold out crowds and standing ovations!

​T​he director of the film, Arthur Kanegis, wants you to see it — so you can help get it into film festivals in your area. ​ Or ​even make your own GLOBAL SOLUTIONS festival of films!

​After you see it, he’ll tell you how.

​Meanwhile, n​ow is the time ​to share the good news:

1. Forward this post to all your friends and family.

2. Contact other groups and organizations and invite them to send announcements to their members.

3. Here is the ​​Facebook post social media: link here (actual text shown below, click to enlarge).

As one of those special people — who is ahead of your time — don’t miss this opportunity to make a ​huge​ difference.

Of course you have tons of things to do – but this is the time to put them aside — while you take on ​what Einstein thought was the most important thing:

”Mark my words, this boy, Garry Davis, has grasped the only problem to which I myself am determined to devote the rest of my life, up to my very last day: a problem which is, very simply, the problem of the survival of the species. It is a question of knowing whether mankind – the very universe of man – will disappear by its own hand, or whether it will continue to exist” – Albert Einstein​ (​Quoted in the transcript of 10/4/1949 hearing before the 14th Court of Corrections in Paris, as translated by Richard V. Carter in Survival Meetings, Writers Club Press, 2001​)​

​Start now by signing up at: www.theworldismycountry.com/freeweek

Together we can fulfill your lifelong hopes and dreams for a better world!

* – I previously wrote about this film on Jan 5, here.

Nuclear War

To be clear, this post is not about North Korea (though it well could be). One cannot imagine what “dotard” and “rocket man” (Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un) will do. This is a very dangerous time, led by very dangerous men.

Rather, this post is, once again, about the weaponization of Sex in America. If you’re reading this, I don’t need to fill in the blanks. You know them.

So, yesterday, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor joined the fallen. And they are front page news. There will be the usual clucks of righteousness.

There may be someone out there who thinks that all of this just happened through some painful overnight revelation by victims.

Rather the revelations are strategically timed, from data gathered over many years, just waiting for the right moment to light the fuse and disrupt and confuse…and sow and nurture fear (“am I going to be next?”).

As a good friend of mine, senior citizen female, said the other day (with her permission to share): “… by the time someone is old enough to run for president (or another higher office), they likely have “history.” (Either that, or they haven’t lived much – in which case, they’d probably not be a candidate in the first place.) And of course, then the skeletons-in-the-closet hunters come out in force. I wouldn’t want anybody digging in MY closet, either.”

She could have said “or anything” as well, but Garrison Keillor had not been decapitated at the time she wrote.

Long and short, Sex has been Weaponized. It is useless to try to identify ground zero, or who the sleaze bags are who have weaponized it. They won’t out themselves, and will deny the credit, even if deserved. It goes back quite a number of years now. It is a useful weapon.

Of course, its value as a weapon depends on people like us to give it meaning.

It is up to us to deal with this ourselves, in our own circles.

Wednesday (before the Lauer and Keillor “bombshells”) I had occasion to dig out one of items I have kept on file, this one for the past 17 years.

This one, a sermon, is six pages, and was delivered by the minister of a prestigious St. Paul Church, who specifically wanted it shared at the time, regardless of one’s political persuasion. It seems appropriate for today. Here it is: Morality and Civility001

from Jeff: “All Administrations, I suppose, are more or less corrupt; certainly the depth of corruption this one has reached is scarcely suspected as yet, even by
Its enemies.”

1871, Whitelaw Reid, Managing editor of the New York Tribune

from Madeline:
I concur, and I read the excellent sermon you included.

from Judy: I didn’t read the whole sermon, but I think he was saying that some things are immoral, others illegal, and Clinton didn’t do anything illegal. Sexual harassment in some cases is illegal. But I am convinced that Senator Franken and Garrison Keillor did nothing illegal or immoral. I am so upset that we are rushing to judgment about these fine men. What happened to due process

Yes, I have been the victim of sexual harassment. All women my age have been.

from Jeff, re Postnote: This history of that time period is very interesting.

The Republican party was splintering between the Radical Republicans (in favor of remaking the country from the South to the West in the image of the North and the Northern Midwest), and the “Liberal” Republicans who were previous to the war staunch upper class abolitionists… they were the intellectual elite and some of the financial elite and were in favor of the return of the Gold Standard, ending Reconstruction in the south and allowing a return to stable White controlled states there, and were anti-immigrants as they saw immigrants as a power block for corrupt politicians, they also in concert with wishing for a return of white control of the South were in favor of restricting suffrage (and that worked pretty well for them in the South)

Democrats were split as well… between those that were the old Confederates, some urban Democrats particularly in NY city who aligned with Tammany Hall and German and Irish immigrants; and Democrats of a Jeffersonian/Jacksonian type, mostly rural in favor of paper money, inflation and the sanctity of the small farmer and small businessman.

from Florence: I’m perplexed by how Trump seems to be walking away free from his transgressions. I look to the machine that got him elected. The article you shared affirmed that. Thank you!

Response to Florence, from Dick: First, Trump is much too useful to the radical right wing; and if he goes, we’re left with Mike Pence who’s even more useful in the longer term, especially with court judges. Second, his entire history is to countersue, and any potential litigants against a very wealthy man who has teams of lawyers who challenge everything know how hard that is.

BTW, this is not simply a woman’s issue, though women for reasons we both know have borne the brunt of this throughout human history.

from John: Your thoughtful suggestions to deal with sensitive issues of sex and power should make many folks think. Where are we going? As a people, and as human Beings? We all need to think.

from Joyce: Excellent, Dick!

from Christine: Very interesting!

from Michelle:
My word of the day – DISCERNMENT.

noun: discernment
the ability to judge well.
“an astonishing lack of discernment”
(in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.
“without providing for a time of healing and discernment, there will be no hope of living through this present moment without a shattering of our common life”

We seem to have replaced discernment with simple “judge everyone the same-ness.” We seem to have lost the ability to judge well, to indeed no longer take time to discern one thing from another. No, it’s not the same to drink 5 drinks and drive, as it is to drink 1 drink and drive. No, it’s not the same to accidentally hit someone with your car and drive away, as it is to hit someone accidentally with your car and then stay to help. In the first example, it’s true that both include drinking and driving. But JUDGMENT is used, and we know that drinking 5 is much worse with greater effects than drinking 1 drink. In the 2nd example, it’s true that both include accidentally hitting someone. But in the first, someone drives away and doesn’t accept responsibility. And in the 2nd, someone stops to help, accepting that something happened. We DISCERN and discover that indeed, while there are similar acts here – they are NOT the same.

So take sexual harassment. I would say – No, it’s not the same to pull your pants down in front of an unwilling employee, as it is to hug someone too low and put your hand on their buttocks. While we need to take this issue seriously, I feel we also need to practice the lost art of discernment and using good judgment to determine justice in these situations, and to be able to reflect, heal and move ahead with greater knowledge.

from Catherine: I do think we are reacting to an age-old problem in an insane and unfair way, tossing aside one’s right to a proper defense and forgetting that every wrong or perceived wrong cannot be categorized as all of the same criminal degree. Worse for us, how dare MPR remove all of Keillor’s contributions to our culture? That punishes us, not him. Like all women I’ve experienced sexual harassment since I grew breasts, but as irritating and insulting as it was, most of it was not especially traumatic. It’s not reason enough to destroy lives and the future work of men who have grown up and learned better. I realize this doesn’t apply to serial creeps and child molesters. I also think that this is just as much politically motivated as anything else. We have to take this case by case and examine it all with care. I’m all for strengthening women and ending bad treatment and harassment but we don’t have to drive people to suicide.

from David: Count me among those who don’t see a conspiracy to bring down liberal (or, for that matter, conservative) men or causes. Many changes come about through the long, hard work by their proponents. Often those struggles involve decades-long work with seemingly little progress being made. Then, along comes some seminal event or moment that changes the dynamic. Rosa Parks comes to mind. Or, perhaps a better example, America’s sea change in attitudes towards marriage equality.

Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore claims that accusations against him are made up, the women are all lying and doing the bidding of the anti-religious liberals. Al Franken admits to boorish behavior recorded on film but “can’t remember” details of other events.

Are we to believe that the women making these accusations have just now decided that it’s politically expedient to come forward? Or, that they shared their stories earlier, but a lid was kept on the information until the time was ripe to bring down a political opponent?

I believe a better explanation is that the atmosphere has changed and women (and a few men) are now feeling more empowered, and safer, to step forward with their experiences. Absent evidence to the contrary, attributing political motives to their difficult decisions to come forward, sends the message that advancing our political agenda trumps our values.

Response from Dick: I think the value of this business is that there is conversation now taking place. As I’ve mentioned, I had a little head start on this, having to represent school teachers back in the mid to late 1970s and 1980s when the issue first raised its head. In these cases, due process takes a big hit. I try to keep in mind a simple fact: there are hundreds of millions of (let’s admit it) sexual beings out there, called humans, male and female. Balance that against the numbers of alleged perpetrators and presumed victims all now coming forward at about the same time. One has to wonder….

Learn from History

My friend, Madeline, sent this to her Facebook group yesterday. It had originally circulated a year ago, right after the 2016 election. My opinion, this is a particularly useful reflective reading, given our continuing political experience beginning with the electoral campaign in 2016. It is a personal opinion. There is much food for thought.

We have had the good fortune of knowing well someone who learned from life experience in Nazi Germany. Annelee Woodstrom spent most of her growing up years in a small Bavarian town; the last 70 in the United States. She was 6 when the Nazis took control in Germany, and joined all Germans in the desperate quest for survival as WWII ended in 1945. We have talked a great deal about this topic, and she has written about how it was for ordinary Germans, then.

My brief personal comments at the end of this post.

(click to enlarge)

We must learn from history:

This is sobering advice from historian, Holocaust expert and Yale Professor Timothy Snyder posted to FB on Tuesday Nov 22 [2016].

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

POSTNOTE from Dick: The two photos are from Annelee Woodstroms “And So It Was”, and date from the mid-1930s in Nazi Germany. I wrote about this book, her latest, on Saturday. She speaks from experience as an ordinary person, in Germany and in the U.S.

Nazi Germany is a topic not to be politically spoken in the U.S., unless related to “enemies”, as anointed.

There are big differences between Nazi Germany and today’s United States, but be very careful. What became Nazi Germany was a place full of people just like ourselves. It happened there; it can happen here.

Just two comments, relating to Annelee’s experience in a small community in particular:

1. The horrors of Nazism crept up on people, as they prospered under the Nazi war regime, particularly if they became party members. But the dream of a Thousand Year Reich lasted about ten years, beginning to collapse, according to Annelee, about 1943…. We in the U.S. have too much of a tendency to believe our notion of American “exceptionalism”. We are not exceptional at all, except to have been very lucky so far.

2. The Nazis were masters of propaganda, through the means of communication available and utilized at the time. Much of their learning came from the United States propagandists at the time of WWI, and following. Communication today, such as it is, is technologically far advanced, with accompanying enormous potential for misuse and abuse, as we see every day. Each of us can pick and choose what it is we choose to accept as “information”. I read an interesting commentary this morning, which is worth the time, about the present day phenomena. See Project Veritas Fails.

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’, George Santayana said. This is one of first sayings I saw when I visited Auschwitz in 2000, and it bears repeating now.

On Losing Hope…Don’t….

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”
(Proverb, uncertain origin)

As the awful days of 2017 drag on, I am very tempted to give up. Why bother? There seems little reason to hope for any improvement in our increasingly awful status quo – a fate we freely chose last November. If you watch the news only a little, you know what I mean. Here’s a longer version of the most recent, Charlottesville. Scroll down to the quote from “Daily Stormer”, the modern voice of the Nazis.

from Carol: a two minute film from 1943

The reason for my malaise is our national leadership – our President – and a largely cowardly “win at all costs” far Right government leadership who considers people like me the enemy.

But becoming paralyzed is not good for this country. I march on.


In my now long life, I have always emphasized personal optimism: that however bad things were, there was hope for a better future.

A friend once asked me how I came to this positive philosophy. The answer came to mind quite easily. Very early in my adult life, the short two year marriage of my wife and I ended with her death from kidney disease; and I was left with a 1 1/2 year old son, and truly insurmountable debts, mostly from medical costs.

Barbara was 22. We were in a strange place, surrounded by strangers. I was flat broke.

It was 1965, and survival was the essential; everything else was a luxury.

I didn’t give up, and with lots of help from some relatives and new friends and society in general (North Dakota Public Welfare in particular), things turned around, albeit slowly. I’ll never forget 1963-65.

Later perspective came from a career where my total job was attempting to help solve problems between people, not to make them worse.

It was a difficult job. Sometimes I feel I did okay; sometimes I was not so sure. But I gave a damn, and knew the difference between “win-win” versus “win-lose”. In “win-lose” everybody loses…. We have long been mired in “win-lose” in this country of ours.


So, I seek optimism even in the worst of times.

A few days ago I did a blog about Al Gore’s new film on Climate Change: “Inconvenient Sequel Truth to Power“, and highlighted a long and what I felt was a very positive interview with Vice-President Gore on Fox News a week ago; and then noticed on the jacket of his 2006 “An Inconvenient Truth” the highlighted recommendation, from Roger Friedman of FOXNEWS.com. Fox News? Yes.

Yesterdays Minneapolis Star Tribune had an Opinion written by the newspapers publisher, billionaire businessman and former Minnesota legislator Glen Taylor. You can read it here.

I sent the column to a former work colleague, now in Michigan, who knew Taylor in the 1980s when he was an up and coming business man, and who, herself, successfully used “win-win” in contract negotiations. She read the column and said, “He is so correct in his observations. For one thing, this approach is less likely to produce unintended consequences that can hurt either party. Because the potential solutions are freely discussed, those potential problem areas are more likely to be seen and avoided before they happen.”


“Win-Win” is not part of the current American environment.

But it is not time to quit. Just yesterday I was at a gathering where a current member of the U.S. Congress spoke, and he said that next week, August 21 to be precise, is when Trump has to make a crucial decision on CSR under the Affordable Care Act. “CSR”? More here about CSR and the implications of next week. Several times Cong. Walz said, yesterday, August 21 is very important. Express your opinion to your Congressperson and Senator.

Cong. Tim Walz, MN 1st District, at DFL Senior Caucus Picnic Aug. 13, 2017


Finally, the matter of “news”, generally, and what can one believe these “fake news” days, especially from the President of the United States? There is truth out there, but it takes effort to find it, especially now. I think it is prudent to believe nothing this President says; only what he and his lieutenants do, have done, and will do, and not as reported by him, either.

Facts are complicated. A couple of days ago my long time friend Michael sent an article from a technical publication about the N. Korean ICBMs. The article, here, is difficult, and it is technical, but was reassuring in that it came from someone who I’ve known for years to be not only a PhD, but a straight talker. We all know people like Michael. Value them. Here is how Michael introduces the article: “if moral analysis does not move you, maybe technical aspects can. Ted Postol [and others have] a super essay in today’s Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about the latest NK missile launches of Hwasong 14, probably not quite ICBM missiles.”

N. Korea is a very dangerous situation, but consider the source for any information you see or hear about it. There are “facts” out there.

Here’s my Korea Peninsula region map, once again.

Personal adaptation of p. 104 of 7th Edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World

from Fred: An excellent piece, Dick. In challenging times it is tempting to withdraw, hang on and hope for the best. We need to remember that the future is not linear; its unpredictably is about all we can safely predict. Of course, that can mean even more difficult days are in our future. You’ve reminded me that a pragmatic and persistent approach in working for positive change is a most worthwhile option.

#1248 – Dick Bernard: A bit of nostalgia; and “fake news”

This afternoon was picture perfect in my town. It was too nice to stay indoors, so I decided to take a short trip down the old Military Road, ending up at Old Cottage Grove, in front of the Boondocks bar (which, from appearances, seemed to be closed….)

(click to enlarge)

Old Cottage Grove MN April 1, 2017

It wasn’t a long trip – 8 miles – but going there is very much off the beaten path for most of us in this bustling suburb of over 60,000 in which we live.

Down the street from the Boondocks is the John Furber Farm</a> (7310 Lamar in Cottage Grove) and back a couple of miles is the old Cedarhurst Mansion (6940 Keats Ave) which was a very fancy country house back in the day. Both the Furber barn and Cedarhurst house are now used for fancy weddings and parties. People pay for nostalgia. (The places can be seen here.)

Cottage Grove goes way back (for this area). The sign a few blocks from the Furber barn gives the thumbnail history:

Old Cottage Grove sign, corner of 70th and Lamar.

I got to thinking about these places long ago. Cottage Grove, the sign said, was founded in 1843, the town platted in 1871. St. Paul began its life as a distinct place in 1841 – it just celebrated its 175th. In those days, communication was serious business. There was no such thing as express mail, or computers, or tweets. The telegraph didn’t exist until 1861. Literacy spotty, and bare basics.

It cause me to think back to a week ago, watching the segment on “Fake News” on CBS’ 60 Minutes. It was an excellent segment, perhaps still available, though the basics are very simple. Anyone who believes anything that comes from anywhere is taking a leap of faith, including the claims of how many people actually passed something along. We’re in the age where, ironically, we are probably much less likely to get the straight story, than were the folks who lived on the Furber Farm and at Cedarhurst way over 100 years ago.

A little earlier I had checked the stats page for this blog on my home computer, and found something curious. Someone had linked to some very ordinary photo I’d included in a post two years ago. Of course, I can’t answer the “why” question. I’ve heard (tell me I’m wrong) that every photo also has its own signature, and if pirated can be misused, perhaps as a fictitious tweet? Whatever the case, the old phrase, “caveat emptor”, comes to mind. “Let the buyer beware.” There is a great plenty of “fools gold” out there masquerading as the real deal.

Back home, I checked the phone and there was one message from a friend whose career has been as a voyageur, though he was gifted enough with the horn to be part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

He had an offer I couldn’t refuse.

We chatted a bit. He doesn’t do e-mail, but his daughter keeps up a website for his publications. It is here. I gave him my e-mail address to pass along to his daughter, and told him I’d send her a note at the website. Went there right away, but there is no “contact us” tab. Perhaps he doesn’t know that…or maybe it is his rejection of the modern technology. You can write him a letter, it appears, with a real stamp!

We joshed a bit, back and forth. In the Voyageur days, back in the 1600s, we wouldn’t be chatting by telephone! Even Luddites have their limits.

I can vouch, he does very good work. Very interesting.

And I think I can trust his scholarship much more than the next tweet or forward that I receive over the ‘net.

Have a great day.

Dick Bernard: The 15th day after inauguration.

Related Posts accessible here.
Sunday till Thursday, the end of January, the beginning of February, 2017, we were visiting a friend who has lived for over 50 years in a northern Minnesota town of under 2,000. We have been there before – we are friends for many years. It is always a pleasant visit.
Of course, we’re in the beginning of different political times, and this was a few days to notice things. For starters, I noticed a small photo of our friends “Gentleman Soldier” (below) who she had met in the aftermath of WWII in Germany, and later married, and lived and raised their family in rural America, for over 50 years, till he died in 1998.
I asked to borrow the 2×2 1/2″ photo, and scanned it. It is below (click to enlarge).

“Gentleman Soldier”, rural Germany, 1945.

It got me to thinking about those authoritarian days our friend and all Germans became accustomed to the 1930s, the days which ultimately left their country in ruins, and themselves, starving.
Back in the beginning, in the 1920s and 1930s, communication was primitive compared to today, not much difference between Germany and the U.S. There were newspapers, of course, and other printed material; there were telephones, but seldom used, and telegraph was more likely and reliable for emergency use. Radio was in its infancy (the first American radio news broadcast was about 1920).
Today, of course, all is different. Makes hardly any difference where you live, you have hundreds of choices of media.
We watched cable and regular news on the channels she preferred. We read the newspaper and the magazines she received, etc. It was just like at home. We could watch the beginning of the new administration in Washington just like anybody else. The new President couldn’t contain himself, with yet another reference to “fake” news (it seems to mean, that which does not flatter him).
Our friends rural community is like (apparently) most during this election time: basically conservative Republican. In the just completed election, the now-President won about 60% of her counties vote.
These would probably include the old guy (maybe my age or younger) who was railing away at the town bowling alley which doubles as the morning coffee hangout. He was raging against those present day immigrants and refugees taking free stuff that belonged to him. His friend didn’t seem to agree with him, but wasn’t about to argue.
The rural town dates back into the late 1800s, and was virtually 100% settled by immigrants from Norway and Sweden but, I guess, he thinks those immigrants were somehow different than today. My guess is the anti-immigrant guy comes from that immigrant stock.
Our friend shared last Sunday’s church bulletin from her church in town. She said the pastor was a veteran, two tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. His words are well worth the time to read in their entirety: Pastors message Ja 29 17001 I wonder how the flock received his words. And how many other pastors are pondering how to approach the business of politics in this new American environment.
Our friend also shared what was obviously a hand-made Christmas card with a beautiful piece of art painted on a piece of cloth. It was from a friend with whom she had shared a deeply personal tragedy many years before.

Light in Darkness

Her friends Christmas letter was profound, in part saying:
“My birthday on November 8th began with chilled champagne and the expectation of emotional celebration It ended with the appalling realization that life as we know it will never be the same – in the worst ways. With each new nomination and each middle-of-the-night tweet, the darkness has become more real and more frightening.
The Gospel of John contains no stable scene – no manger, angels, shepherds. No Christmas pageant script. It’ short and to the point: in the beginning was the Word…the light shines in the darkness…the Word became flesh….
In the midst of our discouragement we also sense the fires within to be torchbearers. We will surround ourselves with people we respect who will inspire us and light the way for us to think and act outside our comfort zone. We will donate more time and money to the organizations that support the values we hold dear. We will treat the environment with care. We will contact our legislators. We will be advocates for the people who will undoubtedly suffer discrimination, fear, and injustice under this administration. We will do what we can to welcome the stranger and feed the hungry. We will be the intentional in showing kindness and compassion.
We will do our best to be reflections of the Light. The Light that shines in the darkness.
Let your light so shine.”

POSTNOTE: In the last 30 miles to our friends town last Sunday, I got to thinking: there were, after all, almost 66,000,000 of us who voted for the candidate who won the election, but lost the electoral vote. What if, what if, every one of us committed, each week, in the next year, to do a single action aiming to positive change in direction of our country?
That would come out to nearly three and one half billion (3,500,000,000) actions.
How about it?
And I must also share this commentary from page 47 of the January 30, 2017 Time magazine: Time Jan 30 2017001. It speaks for itself.