The Coronation, July 15-18, 2024, Milwaukee WI: A Look Back to 2016 and 2020.

Regardless of where you live, please visit and share this website: VOTE.GOV.

There is much content to follow.  Your choice, as always.


The title of this post concerns the Republican Convention beginning Monday in Milwaukee, and anticipates the expected outcome.

Succinctly, this year for the first time in my adult life, I am urging every voter to cast their ballot for their Democrat candidates.

What is now the Trump Party, includes over 120 elected Republican legislators who actively promoted a challenge of the 2020 Presidential election, including Cong. Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota.  (Cong. Jim Hagedorn was in this cadre, but died in 2022.)  The former Grand Old Party now consists of those who have left the current party, or been forced into exile.


In the 15 years I’ve been writing these musings, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing opinions from the heart based both on facts and feelings, often before some scheduled event. I try to think things through.  I’ve done lots of these – 2,017 at last count – and they’re all archived and easily accessible by word search and by date, and I access one or another quite often, there are 7 in this post alone.

We’re completing eight years of the Trump hurricane, and watching the end of a political party, the GOP,  as it was once correctly called, the Party of Abraham Lincoln.  And we’re within sight of the loss of our Democracy, to be replaced by a Project 2025 autocracy.   Anyone who thinks this through even a little knows this is a looming catastrophe if Donald Trump gets the keys to the Oval Office.

The temptation when being being buffeted by a storm, is to seek shelter till it blows over.  This is a storm where the wreckage may be permanent.  It is time to pay attention, and no time to hide out.


I offer the following many links as possible guides to your own thinking.

This post is about July 15-18, 2024, but first…

Here’s what I wrote about the 2016 Republican National Convention after the first night.  It was my only post specifically about that convention (though I gave it space on July 22 as well). At the time of that election I didn’t pay adequate attention to Donald Trump, who I knew basically as “The Apprentice”   (I have never watched an episode).  I knew of Trump Tower, and that Trump had zero experience as an elected official anywhere.  He was an entertainer.

All the character issues were yet to be exposed.

Four years later was very different, of course.  Here’s the last of five posts (August 30, 2020) I did during the time of the “T” Convention August 24-27, 2020.  Here are the other four in 2020: August 24; August 25; August 26; and August 27.  Note that all of these were posted several months before the 2020 election and, of course, before January 6, 2021.

This year, 2024, most recently, are July 1, July 4, July 6, and today.

I’m glad I archive these posts.  I’ll repeat this process next month, right before the Democratic Convention.  I’m just an amateur writer, but looking back at the past notes is sobering…and I’m already worried about the state of our democracy if the lawless coalition bent on control of the U.S. happens to win on November 5.


Other recommendations.

I’d also recommend reading this editorial from the Philadelphia Inquirer, reprinted as an editorial in the July 8, 2024, Minneapolis Star Tribune.: Mpls Star Tribune July 8 2024.  (I’m a long-time subscriber to the STrib.)

I subscribe to three on-line commenters on history and law who I consider extraordinarily credible.  Here are recent posts from each, all pertinent.  Most particularly in this election season, they are worth your subscription, and they deserve support: Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American; Joyce Vance, Civil Discourse; Jay Kuo: The Big Picture and Status Kuo.

POSTNOTE July 12: The above text was complete yesterday afternoon (July 11) before the President Biden news conference, which I watched in its entirety, and the release of the approximately 5,000 word editorial from the New York Times about the Trump candidacy for President.  I thought President Biden with a fine job with the news conference; the NYT editorial is powerful.   Joyce Vance, today, provides a link to the editorial, and summary comments.  Heather Cox Richardson features a very interesting part 1 of a two part interview with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, here.

FINAL THOUGHT: I post to about 600 folks.  I have no idea who, if anyone, reads any particular post.  But I do know I’m read, based on people I hear from, not only from comments.  I suggested to a friend recently that an informal personal gauge for myself is that if one in a hundred gets something out of a post I write, it’s worth it.  You apparently are the one for this post, so thank you.

What we have become accustomed to in this country – called “the American way of life” or however stated – is under active attack by weapons like lies and power and control strategies from a stinky band of skunks.  There is no passive way to deal with filthy politics, in which we are awash, and this is not an ‘everyone does it’ fantasy.  This is a fringe of one side of the ideological spectrum that saw an opening for power and control, and are bent on exercising it with all of the weapons in their arsenal.  No holds barred.  I don’t get hysterical about things.  What we’re approaching now, with Project 25 and the like, is getting very close to the edge.  I urge you to not only get engaged, but to share these posts if you think they are useful.  Again, thank you for reading.

PS: a particular message to the other side, the one that buys the premise that there are winners and there are losers, and the losers best suck it up.  It doesn’t work that way…for either the winners or the losers.  Any kid who’s ever played ‘king on a hill’ and won the hill learns soon that getting the hill has its own perils.  A functioning society has to figure out how to work things out for all sides.  Probably the best example of winning is Nazi Germany, where the promise was a 1,000 year Reich, which ended up at the end of 12 years with an entire society crushed, which – good for them – was helped out of its pit by things like the Marshall Plan.

POSTNOTE JULY 13: Joyce Vance on ‘Christian Nationalism’; Heather Cox Richardson on going back to White Male Privilege.

COMMENTS (more at end)

from Patsy: Amen to ” This is not a routine year.”  Thanks always for your thoughts.

from Joyce: Very well stated, Dick!



Monday I took a short trip east to a memorial service for Dean, who died recently at age 89.

It was a nice service, a good showing of Dean’s friends and relatives.  A beautiful day all around.

I hardly knew Dean.  He was the guy who checked folks in at the local health center when we came in to walk in the morning.  The indoor walk became a habit for me after heart surgery in 2018.  Dean was the usual greeter until he retired last year.  Cancer was winning the race.

He would be like most service people we all meet every day, and take for granted.  I knew only fragments of his life.  His wife died a year before he did, and she had a rough road at the end.  He was a farm kid, had been in the Army, worked in security positions most of his work life, had great-grandchildren.

We all have Dean’s in our own lives.  Mostly we take them for granted, but if they happen to disappear for whatever reason there is a little vacant space in our lives.

I last saw Dean on his 89th birthday about two months ago (photo below, he’s at left).  He was going downhill rapidly, and wanted to come back to the health club to, I suppose, say farewell by his presence.  There was birthday cake, and coffee, and conversation, and then he was taken back to his nursing home.

After Monday’s service, the group gathered at graveside.  Taps was played, and two young military men did the presentation of the American flag in recognition of Dean’s status as a veteran.

I didn’t stay for lunch – I hadn’t seen anyone I knew there, and I really didn’t know much about Dean either, except that Dean in his quiet way exemplified the best about what I would call ‘community’.

Dean is at peace, and the world is a better place because he was here.

POSTNOTE July 10: This morning I learned that, in fact, 7 of my fellow walkers were at the service – they were simply sitting in a different part of the church, and after the graveside service, I had passed on the lunch and came home…..

The Joe and George Show

POSTNOTE July 7: Previous directly related posts June 27, 28, July 1, 4, 6.   The U.S. road ahead is politics, and I am going to try to restrain myself.  Absent some legitimate ‘crisis’, my next politics centered post will be the day before the ‘Republican’ convention (July 14); the next the day before the Democratic Convention (August 18 ); the next perhaps the week after the Democratic Convention (August 22,  before September 1).


Some random thoughts a week after the debate.  First, mark and visit and share this website: VOTE.GOV.

I watched the interview of Joe Biden with George Stephanopoulis on Friday evening.  Mostly I ignored the analysis, which is as valid or invalid as my own.

As with the debate a week ago, I am glad that this interview was held, and that it was pretty no-holds barred.  It is good that we the people, who are the ultimate judges could watch.

The real value, I think, is that we, the people, are being forced to confront our own role in the future of our own country.   The the ball is in our court.  Ours is not a frivolous or optional task. There is no one-size fits all resolution even within the political parties.

The politicians, as has always been true in our democracy, ultimately are responsible for the tough question of who will actually be on the ballot Nov. 5.  Theirs is and has always been a crucial and immensely difficult job.  The first of the two national conventions begins in about a week.  Watch, listen and learn….

Personally, I am not enthusiastic about a second ‘debate’.  I don’t see it as constructive.

There is no question in my mind that the coming months will be brutal, just judging by history.  ‘m guessing it will be even worse than “normal” past years, with more and more sophisticated misinformation and disinformation.  I hope I’m wrong.  One absolute truth in my opinion: Dirty Tricks and the like will be sown to disrupt and confuse.  Resist.  This is why I repost the below Draft which gives you at least some real data to begin to refresh your own memory of past presidential campaigns.

My one judgement is that the two candidates represent remarkably contrasting philosophies  with a drastically different view of our future.  As I’ve said before, I will not comment more about this until after the Democratic Convention in August.

A summary of the past:


Working Draft about Presidents since FDR prepared by Dick Bernard Feb 1, 2024  Here is the pdf of the same document: Presidents since FDR DRAFT Feb 1 2024


A brief reflection: The Bananas and Despicable ME 4….

The Stephanopoulos interview was sandwiched between two other duties the last 24 hours.  Right before the interview, I went to the store to pick up my daily essential: bananas.  Then, today, I took my daughter to a movie she wanted to see, Despicable ME 4.  In perhaps a weird way, the three events make a good sandwich about us, we, the people.

The bananas I found at the supermarket were uniformly ripe, which made them a poor choice for a household which consumes two bananas a day.  On the other hand, I have yet to see a variety of bananas that matures one each day.  Just doesn’t happen.  Some times they’re too green, sometimes too ripe, sometimes just right – at least for day or two.

Yesterday a lady was ragging on a stock boy who happened to be refiling the banana shelf with bananas.  The product was unacceptable to her.  He tried to explain that that was all they had at the moment – he was the one who had brought them from the stockroom.  She was on a roll, wouldn’t let go.  I picked up a bunch, and when I left he was still her target.

I thought to myself, this was nutty behavior.  When I was a kid I don’t recall ever seeing a banana, much less a full service super market with thousands of choices.  We need to get a grip.  We are, mostly, hugely privileged.

Today, daughter Heather wanted to go to Despicable Me 4, so we went to the 10 a.m. show.  I was aware of the Despicable series, from having taken her to one another time.

Despicable 4 was an entertaining film, basically a French production.  It reminded me a bit of the old Roadrunner cartoons, and others of the same genre, though much higher tech.

The good folks win in the end of the kid films, and probably it is all good clean fun for the kids, and even some morals of the story for the adult supervision in the theater with the little kids.  We are in a different time in history, that is for sure.


It is hard, these days, to get some kind of perspective.  In between, before and after, every day there are lots of things to observe, some good, some not so good, that are useful to assess as we cast judgement on the present, past and future.  What we all have to be is engaged in seeking those who are best fit to lead our complicated nation in tomorrows complicated times.  This requires wisdom of all of us.

COMMENTS (more at end):

from Tony: Thank you.  I really like Joe Biden. This is so hard..  We cannot allow Trump to win.  It’s so painful but I think Joe needs to retire. Kamala, rightly or wrongly, must retire as well. She is too unpopular.   I feel terrible about this, but Trump must be stopped!

from SAK:  Many thanks for the post – I agree with so much of it including the banana bit & Tony’s comment.

France has voted & Tony would be pleased that many groups got together to block a party similar to the one Trump is leading – is there really a Republican party worthy of the name in the US anymore!? There are a few individuals but why have so many Republicans in Congress become so obsequious to Trump?

I received this link from a friend who tries to be objective & usually votes Democrat.

Jared Golden might indeed be considering his own future (election prospects). Do politicians these days actually believe J. F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”? Here is the man himself proclaiming that.

Jared Golden should become a turncoat & follow Trump who certainly thinks more of what the country has done & will do for him & his ilk.

In the same inaugural address Kennedy also said: “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.”

Now is Trump a threat to US democracy? Seems like it – of course the Supreme Court will vote 6-3 against such a hypothesis! And there are those, like Jared Golden, who will say the US has survived a civil war . . . what an argument!? Would he welcome a civil war? What if that civil war had gone the other way, say after some foreign powers intervened on the side of the confederacy? Trump has already proven that he is a threat to democracy & not just on January 6th but by constantly attacking most of US’ institutions & by nominating Supreme Court judges who ignore the will of the majority – I’ll be brief & not get into the abortion issue, the immunity puzzle & even worse the Chevron ruling which basically gave the finger to experts on behalf of corporate profiteering.

There are others who are tired of good old Biden & will work for an alternative although it’s late in the day – they should have started the day Biden was elected & he should have led the search for a successor but power is magnetic – as your draft detailing how many vice presidents went on to become presidents shows as well. Jared Golden is not honestly & benevolently seeking for a good alternative but others are. They might still be able to convince Biden to abandon the quest. The problem with liberals is they do not have the will to power, almost by definition, unlike the Republicans who will sacrifice even the country to attain power – surely many in that party do not approve of Trump & yet they campaign for him all the way. The Democrats made a similar mistake in nominating Hilary Clinton against Trump. At the risk of irritating some who accuse me of bringing up UK politics too often, the Labour party there has acted in a similar manner while the Conservatives have sacrificed the good of the country on the altar of power. This time though Labour coordinated their campaign with the Liberal Democrats to make sure they get a majority. In France as well this time various shades of left & center coordinated their campaigns & withdrew candidates in favour of others to block the far right. The left-leaning liberals are learning.

As J.F.K. said in that same address, history will be the judge . . .

All the best.

overnight from Heather Cox Richardson: here


July 4, 2024

POSTNOTE July 8: see postnote July 7.

Today is Independence Day.  Here’s the Library of Congress history about July 4.

I have an affinity for history, and over the years, in travels here and there, it’s always been my inclination to stop and look at placards and stop in at museums of one sort or another, to get a taste of history wherever I happen to be.  Over my life, I’ve made 49 of the 50 states and have seen a great deal in person.  (It appears I’ll miss Alaska,  but no matter).  There’s a lot of history packed into this country’s 248 or so years.

Flag over Ft. McHenry MD ,July 1999, by Dick Bernard

For some reason, this day my mind zeroes in on  ‘Star Spangled Banner’ fort (Ft. McHenry) made famous by Francis Scott Key, which I visited 25 years ago this summer.  (Photo above).  Mostly it rests quietly in outer Baltimore harbor. Here is the map of the area.  In recent months Francis Scott-Key bridge, a couple of miles further seaside, was taken down by an out of control container ship.

Today I’ll take the easy route and just present the history of Ft McHenry as interpreted by its proprietors.  I’ve “been there, done that”.   As the saying goes, in a lot of ways, if you’re seen one fort, you’ve seen them all.  But they’re all unique in their actual history.  Here’s a story of Francis Scott-Key.  As you can read, history is complicated….

America is an exercise of now 248 years, of we the people building a country, now including 50 states: our United States of America.  What our forefathers have fought for, over the last near 250 years, is now at risk. At this July 4, the project begun in 1776 is in very real danger of collapse.

Civil War veterans at O’Fallon IL 1908, from my post for July 1, 2024

Here are some sobering thoughts to consider in coming days and weeks.

Here is my own post, “Joe“, for July 2, 2024.

Heather Cox Richardson‘s Letters from an American dated July 3, 2024.

Joyce Vance‘s Civil Discourse dated July 4, 2024; Joyce also posted overnight on a Congressional review of the dangerous 2025 initiative which is being rolled out by the far right.  Here is that column.

If you worried about disinformation before, my prediction is you’ve seen nothing yet to compare with this years firehose from the Radical Right, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), the new terror.  Here’s a little primer from June 2: Disinformation StarTrib June 2 2024.  Know the original source and authorship of anything you receive.  If you can’t validate it, dismiss it.



Wednesday evening after I had prepared today’s message (the portion above the photo of the Civil War soldiers), I received one of those ‘e-forwards’ that became ubiquitous during the good old (and vicious) days of misinformation and disinformation. in the T-Party and MAGA days.

I have never blocked such information or its senders – they’re often nice people who I know personally, and I want to know what’s out there>. For a long time the garbage essentially disappeared. It appears to be back again, a resurrection as it were.

You will notice that my source of information about Francis Scott Key and Ft. McHenry is the National Park Service, and about Independence Day itself, the Library of Congress of the United States.  Plus, I actually visited the place in 1999.

The item in question (below) is a YouTube video about ten minutes long which has apparently been viewed millions of times and came to me from a reliable source I know well and respect.  It is inspiring.  However, I took particular interest in it because it is about  Francis Scott Key and the events at Ft. McHenry, which topic I had been drafting hours before receiving the content you see above.  The video has the clear implication that we are and were founded as a “Christian” nation, a favorite false trope commonly shared.

Like most such items, the narrator and audience in this forward are not identified, but seems to be a preacher in some large church somewhere.

The video slant clearly seems  “Christian”,  as the word is defined by somebody, and it is also disinformation, as is pointed out in the important note included with it at YouTube – be sure to read that note, it is easy to overlook  Below is the link, and with the above caveats I encourage you to take the time to watch it.  In my opinion it is one of the ‘cannon shots’ that we will be subjected to over the coming weeks.  We are in a war for the future of our nation.

If you wish, here’s the video, which I have watched in its entirety:

Caveat Emptor.  To be forewarned is to be fore-armed.  Best advice going forward: accept nothing at face value, especially if political in any way, verbal, audio, video, in writing makes no difference at all.  Everything from an unknown source has to be suspect, until more is known about the product being sold..


from John, driving across Utah July 4:

Utah country road July 4, 2024

from Claude: That’s a great video and now I have shared it.   I found it compelling. It’s true we have become the empire we fought against but we wanted something different than a kingdom with an upper crust of royalty. Our election situation is so ironic.

response from Dick: Claude, who I’ve known for years, my generation, probably as if not more ‘progressive’ than I am, sort of threw me for a loop – his response to the video seemed much different from mine.  Therein lies a learning opportunity, maybe.

I. too, thought the video was powerful.  But there were a couple of perceptions advanced in the video that turned me off.  First, it’s been watched millions of times and arrived at least ten years ago and even the originator noted in the notes accompanying it that its version of history was slanted.  And of course, it focused on “Christian” – a quote attributed to George Washington that George Washington never made.  Ten years ago would be 2014, during the Obama years and during the always aggressive times of the Tea Party soon to morph into MAGA.  It is likely that the video was produced sometime in the early anti-Obama years.

It was also in the time period when the so-called White Christian Nationalist bunch was sharpening its swords and some were revising history to make us a  white Christian country, which we were not founded as being, and which is not supported by the Constitution.  And then there is the matter of what qualifies as “Christian”.  In my growing up in 1940s and 50s Catholics hardly qualified as Christian to some.  The Catholic/Lutheran and Protestant Ten Commandments are worded somewhat differently.  The Jewish Ten Commandments was dismissed.  Nowadays Christian Nationalists are much of the oxygen for the so-calleed conservative support for the ex-President.  Who qualifies as “Christian” defies an easy explanation.

Having said this, Claude and I and likely the person who sent me the video would get along just fine in a conversation, but the polarities remain, and have to be dealt with, one piece at a time.  I’m glad Claude was complimentary.


Thanks for stopping by.  This message is for you from me.  IMPORTANT NOTE: Between now and the next post on this topic, probably shortly after the Democratic Convention in August, I will continue blogging on miscellaneous topics.  Any random comments from readers on politics in the upcoming two months will be appended to this post, so check back once in awhile if interested.

In todays background, is news about the Supreme Court Immunity decision. Today’s Supreme Court ruling in its entirety is here.  That is an equally essential issue for another day.  This brief post intends to continue the discussion on the ‘debate’ of June 27.

My two posts about the “Debate” on June 27 are accessible here.  I said in the June 28 post, and I reiterate, that I “resist jumping to conclusions“.   I’ll say more on national politics after the last national party convention in August.  I am, as I say at right, “a moderate pragmatic Democrat” who believes we all matter, not just some.  I am a Joe Biden partisan.

Below is a photo I took of Joe Biden, October 5, 2010, in St. Paul.  He was in St. Paul to support the candidacy of Mark Dayton for Governor.  Dayton went on to be a two-term Governor.

I watched the debate last week in its entirety.  The debate was essential, as was the outcome. We all saw, side by side, two totally opposing views of America as an idea.  There were no filters.  A bonus – I mean this sincerely – is an opportunity to recognize and deal with our near universal stupidity in thinking we can rely on electing one person as President of 330,000,000 people, who we can then blame for everything real or imagined – in the instant case a poor performance in a single 90 minute ‘show’ on a specific day.  “The show must go on”, the saying goes.  Any outside circumstances be damned.

I proudly supported Obama/Biden in 2008 and 2012, and Clinton/Keane in 2016, and Biden/Harris in 2020.  There is nothing, including a difficult 90 minutes on the 27th, that changes my mind about supporting Joe Biden again in 2024.

This is an opportunity for an essential national dialogue for every single one of us to consider where we fit into this picture.  We cannot delegate this to, or blame, someone else.  This is our issue to manage constructively, or to lose everything.

Oct. 5, 2010 in Sr. Paul, Joe Biden in support of candidacy of Mark Dayton for Governor. (Photo Dick Bernard)

Here and here are two analyses of the Trump firehose of lies in the recent debate.  We seem inured to the lies….  Even worse is the conservative game plan  – “2025” – should Trump win.  Here’s a readable source critical about this plan.  None of this is hidden.  “2025” is what they intend to do if in power.  It’s an immense blueprint for taking over, no holds barred  At minimum scroll through these.

On November 5, the American people – all of us – will decide on the states and country we wish to be going forward.  This is not a business-as-usual election; I hope we-the-people don’t approach it the way we often seem to, collectively. which is “oh, what the hell – doesn’t make any difference”.  This is my only appeal.  Go into this with your eyes wide open.  A decision once made cannot be reversed.


Finally, July 4 comes on Thursday.  This holiday has a storied history in the United States of America.  It’s meaning, and the internal threats our country faces, are in more stark focus today than ever.

A friend sent me a photo of some old Civil War Veterans last week, and it is too good to not share.  The back of the photo indicates it was taken by a photographer in O’Fallon IL (east of St. Louis) in 1908,.  We live in the country these folks fought to preserve.  Remember that.

I am reminded also that our Founding Fathers sought to protect us from another king….

God Bless us all.  Have a great 4th.  Feel free to comment and pass this and other posts along as you wish.  The future of this constitutional democracy is in our hands.

COMMENTS will be added here as received (more at end of post):

Two very important commentaries about Supreme Court overnight, July 2: here and here.

from Larry: [We] graduated with you in 1962 from [college].  We are both concerned about the outcome of the election.  I agree with you – we’re the ones who count.  I’m really worried that Biden is not up to the task, especially for another four years as president. Thanks for your enlightening blogs.

from JoAnn: Thank you, Dick.  Your message is very (!) important and timely.  Keep up the good work.  [from Dick: the message JoAnn refers to is a brief letter to my own list, which you can read here: Letter from Dick July 1 2024]

from Marion: Dick,  I’m with you. That the Kappan accepted for publication in September an article from a 97-year-old may explain my view of the relevance of age.  The title I submitted: Simplify Schooling: Respect the brain’s organizers of information. Its message is genuinely revolutionary but highly unlikely to be seen as such.

response to Marion from Dick: I’ve been honored to know Marion for the last 27 of his 97 years.  He’s on my list, and he received the letter referred to by JoAnn.  His column will be the 5th published by the Kappan over the years.  He is a class act.  Here is his website.

from Brad: Yes voting is all we have left after our Supreme (?) Court’s decisions recently, and especially today’s misguided and incredibly scary decision re presidential immunity.  It is so reminiscent of the Nixon presidency but so much worse with our county’s democracy now on the line.  Voting.  I am remembering my first vote in 1972’s primary, as a freshman in college.  I met and campaigned with Dr. Spock of the Peace and Freedom party.  I was very compassionate about both gay rights and the end of the Vietnam war.  To me, he was the solution to the upside world of the era.  It seems so much more is at stake now – religious freedom, individual rights, environment safety, and especially the rule of law.  All dangerously in jeopardy of eroding or disappearing.  Voting. We must vote, encourage others to vote, and be proactive in driving a vote that ensures the integrity of our US President.

Keep believing in the positive.

from Jeff:  Spot on.   [from the post, above] “A bonus – I mean this sincerely – is an opportunity to recognize and deal with our near universal stupidity in thinking we can rely on electing one person as President of 330,000,000 people, who we can then blame for everything real or imagined – “

from a friend sent to White House June 30:  Mr. President, I voted for you. I had planned to do so again. I believe that you have done an outstanding job for our country – THANK YOU. I tried to ignore the rumbling that said you had lost your edge. Some of that was downright cruel – and untrue. However, on Thursday night we could all see in real time that there is a huge problem. After that debate, I was literally shaking and crying. We were discussing how we could leave the country, as we no longer believe you can win.

I have watched this play out in family members – plus have observed elderly patients where I worked. Something is seriously wrong, and it makes no difference that the following day you appeared fine. That is how these things go. PLEASE withdraw for the good of the country – but also, for your own good. Leave on a high note! You are not the only Democrat who could beat Trump – even at this point in the campaign season. In fact, many are saying you may be the only one who CAN’T.
That debate performance was excruciating. There is no coming back from that. Please be honest with yourself – and us. Jill looks at you with the eyes of love – but not necessarily objectively. Others may be trying to prop you up for their own purposes (think, Reagan).
WE CANNOT LOSE THIS ELECTION. That is a legacy, trust me, that you do not want to have. I don’t believe I can in good conscience vote for you. I likely will not vote for the president at all, unless something changes. And that makes me sick at heart.
The country will always owe you for what you have accomplished – inc. once defeating that monster who was yelling at you that night. Please agree to pass the baton while there is still time. I beg you.

from Mary, July 2: a point of view from Politico, here.

from Dick:  I read the article and responded to Mary as follows: I printed out the article and read it.  I personally didn’t find much of substance.  We’re old, not much news in that!

I think the conversation is useful.  Nov 5 is of huge consequence for all of us this year – my opinion, of course.  It will be Trump and whoever the Democrats decide next month, and that isn’t my department.  Whoever they decide on, along with state legislators, Governors and the like, will be of huge consequence to our kids and grandkids generations.  If we were just looking at this from our own point of view, it really wouldn’t make much difference…we don’t have a lot of time left anyway.  But I do worry for the kids.  Thanks much for the article.  I’ll add the link to it in the comments section of the July 1 post.

response from Mary: Couldn’t agree more…..”we vote for who we get and we get who we vote for”   However-no need to waste minutes, hours, days and months living in fear of outcomes!

from Jim: We totally agree!  Every vote is important, but even more so this year!




He showed up….

POSTNOTE June 29: I plan to do a specific post, probably simply titled “Joe”, probably within the next week or two.  Check back if interested.

June 28, 2024: I did watch the entire debate last night, and my comments are at the end of this post, preceded by other comments about last night that I’ve received.  The initiating post, with six other comments, is here.  I will add additional comments, if any, at this page, so feel free to comment yourself, and/or check back in awhile to see if there is anything new.

from Carol: Instead of listening to whatever recap foolishness they always have afterward, [my husband] and I just had our own recap.  He’s probably been more of a Biden fan than me, but he totally agreed.  Biden’s polling is going to go in the toilet after tonight.  And hopefully Trump’s will drop as well.  You know who won tonight?  That crazy Kennedy guy who wasn’t even on stage.  Either that, or this mess just ensured that a whole lot more folks won’t vote at all.  The Democratic party had better take a very fast hard look at this, and punt.

Of course Trump lied like a rug the whole time, and made faces and acted like the big bully that he is.  He’s awful, just awful.  I told C more than once tonight how I would JUST LOVE to slap [Trump] silly.  I tried to think of just one thing he said that was even true.  But how many Republicans do you really think are going to fact-check him?  I mean, they already know what a liar he is, so why would they be surprised?  He looked energetic and forceful, and that’s all they’ll care about.
Biden of course had facts and figures on his side.  And tonight that didn’t matter one whit.  (It also seemed that he had a lousy cold.)  He came across as intimidated and nervous plus confused – which is an awful look.  And whoever encouraged him to try to get down into the gutter with Trump should be fired.  I’m embarrassed knowing that the whole world was watching this.  I think Biden has done an excellent job – esp. given what he had to work with.  He was the person we needed at the time.  He should have stuck to his promise to be a one-term president.  He would have gone down in history as being very effective.  Looking at him tonight, NObody is going to honestly think that he can do the job for four more years.
I have never seen anybody who can handle Trump – and I’ve been waiting for a long time now.  The only way would be to have the ability, when he tells one of his whoppers, to hit a replay button and have actual video show up on a screen in real time.  Listing all his lies the day afterward doesn’t work.

Carol #2:  The NYT has a column by Nicholas Kristof saying that Biden should withdraw, plus a ton of comments agreeing.  If he did that, maybe it wouldn’t split the party apart.  Tonight was more than just having a cold, or a stutter.  It was Biden losing his way and then speaking gibberish exactly in the same manner that Trump has been mocked for recently.  Seemingly having no mental agility in responding to Trump.  I said less than 5 minutes into the debate that he had just lost the election.  And pretty much everything from then on just reinforced that.  By the time it was over, I was shaking and couldn’t stop.

There were many comments in the NYT asking Jill to talk to Joe.  Gonna be interesting.  I told [a friend] the other day that it seemed to me Joe’s heart isn’t really in it anymore.

from Lindsay (who has a comment in previous post, to which I had responded): I agree with your comment wholeheartedly! It’s feeling harder and harder to participate in our political landscape with how things are going. I hope some walk away from tonight’s debate having seen the babbling lunatic for who he really is, and perhaps go the reasonable route, but boy does this feel unlikely. You would think so many would have already jumped ship by now.

from Patti: All I can say is wow1wow1wow1  What an eye opener tonight’s broadcast  was.  Everyone who is going to vote this November should have watched this program.  My eyes were opened as to just how dangerous a situation we are in.  I will have to double my prayers.

from David: Reading the NYT’s various commentators’ opinions on last night’s debate, it seems like the consensus is that Biden had one key  job: Demonstrate that he’s up to the job of defeating Trump and he failed. Tom Friedman sums it up well “Joe Biden is a Good Man and a Good President but he Must Bow Out of the Race”.

My own opinion is the Joe Biden is a solid patriot who kept Donald Trump from a second term. Right now he needs to ask himself this question, “Trump is a paramount threat to our democracy. Why do believe that only I can stop him?” Someone else running for president once said, “I’m the only one who can fix it.” Joe’s better than that.

from Jeff: I didn’t watch, perhaps saw one min and Biden’s voice was muddled, Trump was clear and direct (and lying)…

The Dems and pundits are in a panic.   But this was simply waiting to happen.  A good man, needs to face hubris and pass the torch, should have a year ago. now it’s crisis instead.
I don’t understand voters who say they want Biden but have to vote for Trump (a sign of our entire calcified political system which is zero sum 2 choices) but there it is in a nutshell.
Gretchen Whitmer [prospective candidate].

Jeff added, later: the question is strictly about marketing and electability….not the good intentions or soundness of mind of an octagenarian.  As is, Biden would have a hard time winning Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, NV, and Pennsylvania….Trump is evil incarnate, and a Trump White House and a GOP Senate and as seen today Hard Right SCOTUS, would do significant damage even if he didnt become a dictator.

from Chuck:  We got the Debate we deserve. The Democratic party has lost touch with reality. Trump only knows reality TV, while the GOP swears loyalty to a delusional narcissist. Thus, “We the People'” are getting what we deserve. H. L. Mencken said, “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance” and “the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” If we fail to elect a leader in touch with reality, very hard times are coming.

Standing under our Flag we have all pledged loyalty to “liberty and Justice for all”. Collectively however, we have all put our political partisanship ahead of our children’s future. As it is now our Constitution is incapable of achieving any one of the seven intentions in its preamble. Consider the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln who wrote that our “Declaration of Independence is our Apple of Gold” and our “Constitution it’s Silver Frame.” Yet our democratically elected officials have never even considered codifying “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.

It should be a self-evident truth that failing to protect nature and meeting the most basic needs for all people- will never end well for any of us. Because “Everything is connected, everything is interdependent, so everything is vulnerable…. And that’s why this has to be a more than whole of government, a more than whole of nation [effort]. It really has to be a global effort….” Jen Easterly. CISA director. Oct. 29, 2021. [the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency is our nation’s newest federal agency established by the Trump Administration in 2018]. Ms. Easterly is still Director, and our environment is humanities most fundamental and essential infrastructure!

from Terry (in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Terry is on this Listserv). Strib letter.jpg

From Dick:  
Last night, right after the show….  The chattering class on the TV is micro-analyzing the performance (the debate, which, after all, is a show).  I like all of the chatterers, but enough is enough.  Off to bed.  90 minutes done, and 160 days left to the election, near two months before the Democratic Convention.

Most perceptive comment I heard from the chatterers was from Lawrence O’Donnell, graybeard of the bunch at 73,  who sagely observed that Warren Buffet, one of the richest of the rich, is near 93 years old, and still making wise decisions.  In other words, keep the age thing in its proper perpspective.

I look forward to the fact checking blizzard which starts in the morning.

June 28 9 a.m.: The Church Guys, regulars on Friday morning, were next table over as usual today.  No mention at all of the debate. One brought up discussion with his late 80s Dad’s about pro-life, but that’s about it.  It’s important to keep this in perspective.  Not everyone was engaged in this business of watching a debate last night.

One of my life skills, learned in the trenches of dealing with public school teacher matters for 27 years, was learning to resist jumping to conclusions.  What seemed obvious at the time was never quite so obvious weeks or months later when push came to shove.  Frequently perspective was gained driving in the car from one place to the next; or sitting with a cup of coffee in a restaurant, or on and on.  Insights need to mature.  Snap judgements are natural and even useful but not very reliable long-term.  Time tends to modify judgements, as we all know.

Twelve hours out – minutes from the initial ‘shock’ (if that’s what you felt) from the the ‘debate)’ – I find myself thinking about my cousin, Vernon Sell, who had a passion for family history.

Vernon was one of those people who showed up when something needed to be done.  He was on the Court.

Vernon had his doctorate and professorship, but all that paled against his tenacity, which culminated in presentation of a plaque to the family church in St. Lambert, Quebec, built on land donated by the ancestral family 150 years earlier.

He was literally at death’s door when he made the presentation to a packed church.  He’d had an emergency blood transfusion.  Less than a month later he died, at age 69, one of his dreams realized.  I think he literally and deliberately lived just long enough to complete his work.

June 27, 2024, and many, many times before, and Lord willing, to come, Joe Biden has showed up.  Of course, the questions now being raised are legitimate, but also they’re raised in the heat of the moment, and perspective will come only with time.  As I’ve said, Joe is just a kid in my own personal context.  I know the quandaries faced as you get older; I also know from life experience that age is only a single criteria and there are no guarantees for anyone at any time.

(If interested in seeing Vernon and his plaque and the church in question scroll down here.  The last six photos are of the occasion referenced.  I missed this reunion due to a family wedding the same weekend.)

June 29:  I’m adding an old powerful graphic someone used at a meeting I attended probably in the 1970s.  It seems to fit pretty precisely the crisis reaction of the moment:

PDF of below Crisis Sequence 1970s – what happens after  shocking event occurs.  This was a handout saved from some long ago workshop I attended.  It has always made sense.

POSTNOTE Sunday June 30, 2024: I’ll be doing a post, tentatively titled “Joe”, in the next day or two.  If you happen to see this, and can deflect some time from Jay 4 week, take a look.  I hope to have a reflective piece, largely about US.  Your choice.

from Jim:   Well…  At least Dean Phillips, his political career now thoroughly ruined, can go to bed each night and drift off to sleep knowing that he did the right thing and tried to warn us all, right up to and including saying “If no one else will do this, I’ll do it myself!” – even though there was never any chance of his gaining traction.
Pundits and commentators like to point out that the only person Trump cares about, even when he is doing something that does have popular support, is himself.  And that’s true.  It’s time for Biden to step up and think of someone other than HIM-self, or history will judge him similarly harshly.  That is, if he buys in to what his own campaign has been saying all along about this election being “existential” and all the stuff about “democracy itself” being at risk should Trump win.  It is now all but guaranteed that Trump beats Biden in November, if Biden is still the candidate.
Even though I am “only” 69, I have had four medical conditions in the last decade where a doctor has told me “This does not get better.”  For a couple of them, I was told “You can live with this, at least for a while, if you don’t want surgery now.”  But, ultimately, you do what you have to do because the condition will get worse.  Sadly, I know from watching my own paternal grandmother, and my dad, that senescence, one thing that I personally have so far been spared, is one of those things.  It progresses in only one direction.  Maybe some day in the future medical science can change that, but right now we KNOW that Joe, God bless him, is senescent, and in the 4.5 years until the end of a second term, it will get worse.  In that amount of time, it will get MUCH worse.  It is time for Democrats in general, his family more particularly, and Joe, himself, specifically, to stop living in denial.  No, it is NOT fair that, while only three years younger, and nasty/loony/evil/pick-your-own-adjective, Trump shows little or no sign of being similarly senescent, but that is the reality.  By November, for those handfuls of “late decider” voters – those who do not have a horse in the race, yet – it will be beyond irresponsible to vote for Biden.  As such, from last Thursday forward, he can no longer win.  He has to stand down, and I will go farther than most of the pundits and commentators –  If he will not stand down, the movers and shakers in the Democratic party have to MAKE him stand down, by whatever means necessary.  At least, that is true if they, too, believe in all the “existential election / risk to democracy” rhetoric surrounding a Trump win.
James Carville (remember him?) was quoted Saturday with what I think is a brilliant idea.  Biden should have Obama and Bill Clinton over the White House.  They should hole up in the Oval Office for the lion’s share of a day, and when they emerge, Biden should go before the press, with the other two standing either side behind him, and he should announce the five (or another number of their choosing) Democrats that THEY want the Convention to consider.  So that no one has to risk his/her career by “coming out”, or risk being passed over by not doing so.  The nomination is not Biden’s to confer on any one other person, including Kamala Harris, but it IS his to decline, and this is the best way to do it.  Carville, always larger than life, but also such a lightning rod, always has been a favorite of mine – brilliant in both strategic and tactical ways…  I’ve been reading all the various pundits and commentators, and this is the best idea I’ve seen for doing what has to be done in a way that at least MIGHT not destroy others’ careers.
Regarding just running on policies/values/issues – essentially, arguing that our guy is senescent, yes, but their guy is nasty/loony/evil/pick-your-own-adjective, so, dear voter, use some other criterion:  I think it behooves Dems who want to WIN to realize that 40+% of voters LIKE Trump, and the critical “decider” 10% or so either don’t hate him, or hate them both.  And to know that, among both the Trump supporters, AND that “late decider” crowd, it is understood that Trump drove the body politic toward a recognition that the border does in fact need to be dealt with in some way, and that the bipartisan consensus paradigm of just 9 years ago for “free trade” was wrong.  Biden has done little or nothing to reverse those two paradigm shifts – he has basically adopted them, though one can argue about how well either man has implemented either of them.  Polling shows they are IMMENSELY popular stances.  Also, while I’m not at all sure I agree, polling shows overwhelmingly that most Americans think the economy was better FOR THEM during Trump’s four years than during Biden’s 3+.  The poll numbers on this are WORSE for Biden among “late decider” voters than they are for the whole public.  Running behind Biden and emphasizing policies/values/issues is TRULY just another way to lose.
The Dems – the party of change, of risk-taking, of open mindedness – need to make a change, take a risk, and trust in the open-mindedness of the American voters.




Tuesday I had the real privilege of being able to listen in on a zoom cast for a group of retired Kiwanis members in Roseville MN.

I know one of the retired Kiwanians there, and he told me about the program featuring Dr. Michael Osterholm, a long time Minnesota PhD specializing in infectious diseases.

Tuesday, we were treated to a powerful hour.  I don’t think it was recorded.  The alternative is probably found at the link under his name (above).  He has a new book in progress, scheduled for publication in 2025, to be titled “The Big One”, about the inevitability of future pandemics.  Watch for it.  (If you do a search for this you will find this title under Osterholm and Olshaker as a 9-hour audible book, so this may be a book in process, though not yet in print.)

The first big one, the one that brought Dr. Osterholm to my attention, was HIV AIDS.  In the fall of 1987, my organization, the Minnesota Education Association, called a required meeting for all staff at a hotel conference room in suburban St. Paul.  It was at a scary time – not unlike 2020 – and Dr. Osterholm was there to tell it like it was, and he did.  Along with him was a Gay Man in later stages of AIDS, who also spoke to the group.  The man died later in the year, I recall.  He was a very profound witness to the then-reality.

It was a highly charged event.  There were perhaps 100 of us, and it was mandatory, and there we were, stuck in a hotel conference room with somebody who had AIDS.  As Larry, then Executive Director of the MEA and the person who called the meeting, recently remembered:

“I have not thought about that meeting on AIDS for awhile but it was pretty cutting edge at the time. I have a very clear memory of the meeting as well as the race to the payphones after the meeting to call family members. As I recall there were a half dozen pay phones just outside of the meeting room and folks were lined up a couple deep waiting their turn to make a call. It was an impact full and emotional meeting. 
Dr. Osterholm’s prediction, that eventually he believed a vaccine would be developed, was true and it was Dr. Fauci who was the leader of that successful and life saving effort.”

I think it could accurately be stated that at the time of the meeting, AIDS was probably more feared than Leprosy.   It was a terminal illness, and no one was sure about anything, and there was no therapy yet available.

It was understandable that we would be apprehensive.  At the same time, our job was to represent the needs of tens of thousands of public school teachers, who in turn were exposed to hundreds of thousands of students every day, and vice versa.  The analogies to the Covid-19 pandemic are striking.

I asked Larry and Norm, the person who invited me to participate, for a couple of bullets from the talk.  This is an impossible task, since so much ground was covered for this largely retired professional audience.

Larry offered:  “I think his acknowledgement about the loss of trust in public health and the quandary about fixing it is true but troubling. 

He is a great teacher. You can’t listen to him and fail to learn – a lot. 
Not the biggest point of his comments, but it  is sobering to hear the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] reports to 23 different Congressional committees.  No wonder we sometimes feel that Congress is a mess.

Norm, whose career was in public health in Minnesota, had this to say:  “I asked Dr. Osterholm two questions to which he responded very well and, again, very thoughtfully

  1. Given the uncertainty with most scientific explanations of who’s on first and given the seeming fact that so many people are uncomfortable with uncertainty, how should public health deal with the many folks who reject science, aka public health in this case, because it cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that this vaccine or this therapy or this modality will work? I noted that I had encountered many people including several close family members who chose not to believe Dr. Fauci et al because “he would say one thing one day and a week  later another thing that was sometimes different.” They wanted certainty like believing the claim that the visit to our shores by COVID-19 was all a hoax or that just gargling with Clorox would take care of the matter.  Note:  many people did just that and were able to make a few trips to the ER for treatment of throat burns as payment, if you will,  for their strong desire for certaimty.
  2. What should or could public health do to restore trust in its recommendations and findings?”

Dick: Personally, as I recall, Dr. Osterholm opined that he doubted that it would ever be conclusively determined, the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.  He is, after all, a scientist, and that is his job to go beyond soundbites and speculation.

He felt the current vaccine therapy was perhaps useful only for a few months – that one cannot assume that one round of shots is enough.  Every four or five months seemed his bottom line.  He worries about disinformation, and about anti-vaxxers who refuse to get or authorize immunizations – the “nobody will tell me what to do” crowd, who in the process subject others to communicable diseases which are controllable.

Dr. Osterholm is a long-time colleague and friend of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and he recommended Dr. Fauci’s very recent book On Call, available everywhere, whose last 100 or so pages is on Covid-19.  Some other sections of Fauci’s book (which I have) “The AIDS Era”; “The Wars on Terror and Disease”; “Expecting the Unexpected”.

I think Dr. Osterholm has a podcast, and I’d recommend it for those who are interested.  As Larry notes, he’s a great teacher, and as we all learned in 1987, he’s a no-holds-barred kind of guy – he’s willing to deal with tough issues openly and honestly.

We aren’t out of the woods, here or anywhere in the world.  Ours is an international and mobile and very complex society.  We are fortunate to have the Osterholm’s and the Fauci’s of the world doing everything they can to keep us safe.


Tonights debate?  See “Politics” at the end of this post. 

9:56 p.m.  Thursday June 27 – I watched the entire debate as an 84 year old man, 2 1/2 years older than President Biden….  Followup Post :He showed up”, here


Monday I saw the film “Treasure”  (released June 2024) at a theater in Inver Grove Heights MN.

I was the only person in the theatre, for the single showing of the day, at 3:30 p.m.  I only wished I had brought along tissues – it had that kind of emotional content for me.

It was one of the most powerful films I’ve had the privilege to see.  Perhaps the theme, and the current time in history, mitigate against its success at the box office, but I can see it as basis for tens of thousands of introspective thoughts, and dialogue opportunities about making ours a better world.

Obviously, it’s not a box office hit.  It’s easy to search for what reviews there are.  Here is one of many reviews, this one from the Jerusalem Post.

I give the film my highest rating.  It is filled with nuance far beyond a simple dad and daughter nostalgia trip.

Friend, Carol, called my attention to it on Saturday: “We were planning on seeing the new movie “Treasure” but it has disappeared from theatres in like a week.  Do you know anything about it? (seeing as you always seem to know about good movies…)  It’s about a Holocaust survivor who returns to his roots in Poland.”

I looked it up: the nearest theater showing it on Saturday was in Hudson WI, 15 miles or so away.

Carol wrote: “We were going to go on Father’s Day but the weather was crappy.  It had just come out – and now it’s basically gone.  Oakdale theatre said nobody was coming to it.  I’m wondering… bad timing? protests?  It’s not very highly rated – but, like Cliff said, what do THEY know.  Cliff has been to Poland several times, and his German ancestors came from what is now Poland.  So maybe we’ll like it.”  

Then, later, after seeing the film Carol said: “I highly recommend it – I think you would really like it.  Certainly a different movie.  We did go see it in Hudson, and there was one other person in the theatre…  Granted, it was a beautiful day outside, but I think that’s really a shame.  It’s probably kind of a niche movie.  It’s based on a book and real story, which often are my favorites.  I think there’s been complaining that the scenes of them visiting Auschwitz weren’t graphic enough, or something.  But they made their point.”

I can only second what she said.  In my opinion, it is much, much more than simply Poland and Auschwitz, though that is the basic premise of the story: a daughter takes her dad to visit his Polish homeland about 1990, and the story goes from there.

I made a list of insightful moments for me, personally.  There were over 20 on my list, more than just a few for a two hour movie.

I could go into a lot of detail, but if you simply go to the movie and open your mind to reflections on not only the holocaust, but our contemporary world, I will be very surprised if you don’t agree with me – that the film is an investment, not a cost of time and money.

The internet will give showing times if any are available.  Possibly it is available on line, though I didn’t check that.  At least check it out.

Thank you, Carol.

POSTNOTE: About 6 million WWII casualties were from Poland.  About half of these were Jews, the other half Poles.  (In pre-war Poland, the total population was about 35,000,000, of which over 3,000,000 were Jews, of whom less than 400,000 survived.)

I was at Auschwitz-Birkenau the entirety of my 60th birthday, in 2000.  It is one of those times I will never forget.

Walking from Auschwitz towards Birkenau Death Camp May 4, 2000. Photo by Dick Bernard

Our group spent about three days in Poland.  Earlier our tour group had visited the site of the Plaszow Camp (the “Schindler’s List” camp) in Krakow area.  One of my most vivid life memories was at the memorial monument there.  We had just arrived, and our bus driver privately and quietly picked a tiny wildflower and placed it at the monument.  In my mind, I can see the touching action of that ordinary bus driver as I write.


I likely will watch the “debates” on June 27 more as theater than substance.  MPR this morning said that as many as 60% of Americans may watch all or some of the action tonight.

I am interested in and have followed politics carefully for many years.  Both Trump and Biden are well known quantities now – 90 minutes or whatever watching them as verbal gladiators is a waste of time, in my opinion, but a cash cow for media.  Minds will not be changed, and the persons who should be paying attention likely won’t be watching anyway.  Yes, I’m a cynic.

I will write more about the candidates and races after the Democrat Convention (Augut 19-22), and before early voting begins in Minnesota (September 20).  Most likely my comments will be the last week of August at this space.  

(FYI, the Republican Convention is July 13-18; Minnesota Primary Election is August 13.  I have signed up as an election judge for Primary Election.). More information for Minnesotans accessible here.

A post I did earlier, entitled Fascism, is worth a look, if you haven’t previously done so.)


Also, on-line as of June 27, a post on a talk by Dr. Michael Osterholm, well known in Infectious Disease work.

COMMENTS (more below):

from Jeff: Debate: I am in that non watching 40%,  I generally don’t watch, they really arent debates and have gone downhill rapidly since the late 80s.  And yes, for most of the audience it isnt going to change any minds. As for me, there really is only one option, its either an old man or a mad man.  I will go with the old one.

Treasure: I will look it up and read reviews, based on your description of the ticket sales, it sounds like the type of movie that should have gone right
to a streaming platform, which i suspect it will be on quickly, probably do better on there.

Osterholm: Thanks.

from Sandy: Thanks Dick! Let’s hope Biden totally wins the debate tonight and hope Trump looks totally unprepared and dull.

We know Trump will lie and hopefully the Anchor people will confront him and stop him!


Sometimes truth actually bests fiction.

I’m an ordinary fan of classical music.   “Ordinary” to me means attending maybe 5 or so concerts at Orchestra Hall each year, more or less potluck.  When we go, I don’t know what the program is till we’re there; sometimes, there is a conflict and we need to reschedule.

Thursday June 20, was one of those reschedules.  The program book identified the program “CELEBRATING PRIDE WITH THOMAS SONDERGARD“, featuring pieces by Dame Ethel Smyth, Karol Szymonowski, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  The first two composers I’d never heard of.  In fact Karol S’s piece had to be cancelled because pianist Francesco Piermonesi had broke his collar bone in a bicycle mishap in Germany, and was being replaced with identical twins Christina and Michelle Naughton doing a piece by Francis Poulenc.   There was an insert in the program book telling us about them. (Program and supplement here: Orchestra June 20 2024).

The program had a Pride month focus – all the composers were LGBTQ+.  Thomas Sondergard, conductor and music director of Minnesota Orchestra, led an absolutely marvelous program, which was to be repeated Friday and Saturday night.  The Friday night program was to be broadcast live on public television, and I wanted to watch it again, and I did, last night.  Both performances were memorable.

At the beginning of Friday nights program, an announcement was made that Sondergard had fallen ill, and had to be replaced by a fill-in conductor, Chad Goodman of the Elgin, Illinois, Symphony.  I don’t know Sondergard’s ailment.  I hope he’s up and about by now.

I’ve sat in those seats for years.  This was a first time I’d seen this: a last minute substitute conductor.

Goodman had a daunting task, and performed it admirably, and presumably conducts again tonight.  I suppose the purists might have seen some differences between the two performances of the same pieces by the same musicians.  All I know is the standing ovation at the end of both performances.  We had witnessed an absolutely class act from everyone in the Orchestra organization – classic crisis management, which had to be incredible.  To say I was impressed would be a massive understatement.

As noted, the performance high-lighted Pride month.  Early in the program Pride in the Twin Cities was high-lighted.  It was noted that the first Pride event was 51 years ago, spearheaded by 25 who did an apparently unpermitted parade and faced arrest as a consequence, for which 25 others would come up with the bail money.  The Pride event now happening attracts a half-million participants, and is the largest free Pride event in the world.  There is much to be proud about.

POSTNOTE: As it happens, earlier in the week I’d come across a Buddy Holly single printed in 2000 to recognize the singer who died in a plane crash, heading to a gig in Fargo-Moorhead “the day the music died” in February 1959.  I sent it to my friend, Larry, a contemporary in North Dakota in the late 50s, early 60s, who at one point in his career was a DJ.  He appreciated the gift, and sent me a note including a ten minute fascinating audio interview with Bobby Vee, then Bill Velline, the young high school age musician whose group filled in for the deceased Buddy Holly and group that difficult night in 1959.

Larry: “Really appreciate your sending me the Buddy Holly collector’s 45. And the envelope made for the record is good to have too. Although I do have a CD of the Holly masters, I love having this artifact. Thanks for thinking of me.  

BTW…I did an interview with Bobby Vee about three or four years before he died, when he was headed to VC [Valley City] for a class reunion concert.  I talked to him in a phone interview from his recording studio in St. Cloud..he tells vividly about what he did the day the music died…if you haven’t heard it…here’s the link: 2010 Interview with Bobby Vee.mp3 – Google Drive.


A “We” or “Me” World?

The focus of this post is Maryam’s commentary following the map.  Maryam is a long time good friend who grew up in the Middle East, and is long time American, and shares her important insights.  She expands on a brief passionate commentary she made at a meeting I attended on June 4.  Please take the time to read and reflect on what she says so powerfully….  (Ironically, on the same day I am publishing this piece, Russia (Putin) and North Korea (Kim) have expressed dangerous solidarity with each other, and the major headline of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes “Iran set to triple nuclear capacity“.)

Very recently – within the last week – I was sorting papers and came across a file folder labelled simply “Gaza 2008-09“.  The file was mine, now 16 years old.  It had been an active file for me back then.  (FYI, here are the pertinent contents of that file: Gaza 2008-09.)

16 years.  How time flies.  When disaster happened in Israel near Gaza seven months ago, October 7, 2023, I had to review for myself where and what Gaza was.  Sixteen years ago, Gaza had also been front page news in the U.S.

In the file was a long commentary I had submitted as an op ed to the Minneapolis paper, along with letters to various officials, political and religious.  The op ed wasn’t published.  What surprised me is that I had forgotten about it.  I suppose this might be due to the fact that we are so inundated by “breaking news” that one event bleeds into another, and benumbs us, unless the “breaking news” directly and immediately affects us – an unfortunate and dangerous reality.

June 4, about two weeks before I discovered the file, I had been at the meeting referenced in the first paragraph. Maryam, who grew up in Iran, and has lived for many years in the U.S., gave a brief but impassioned commentary on her view of our view of the contemporary situation in the Middle East and world generally.  She was speaking from the heart – you can tell.

I asked her if she would be willing to commit her thoughts to writing, and if I could share them.  I felt her words held much grist for thought and discussion.  She agreed, and what she said follows, below.

I am grateful for her writing, and I hope it leads at least to thought and discussion.  First, a map of the Middle East from Goode’s World Atlas (19th Edition 1995 Rand McNally  p. 182). Note “Gaza” on the map.

Maryam:  I joined CGS [Citizens for Global Solutions] because I wanted to help inform typical Americans of their responsibility to make better decisions and vote with information and knowledge of the consequences of that vote to the rest of the world.

I want people to understand that no single president of the United States or someone like Netanyahu from Israel can address and resolve political, religious, society, cultural, economic issues that have existed for over 3000 years [in the Middle East].  This is particularly true when there is little understanding of the root issues, and what series of decisions by superpowers in the world have brought us to this point in time, most likely have created even more of a complex reality to address.  We ignore basic facts at our peril  
I believe most Americans vote and make decisions based on a single, or very few, issues, to satisfy their own immediate needs and wants, without considering others, including the impacts results of U.S. voting can have all over  the world. This mindset comes from our being uninformed about world history and cultures, The USA does not seem to have a culture of encouraging teaching about the world and how the USA fits as one country within that world [now 195 nations]. 
In the largest and richest democratic republic in the world,  in the 21st century, we have minimal information and knowledge about our role and responsibility in the world.  We can not have “peace in this world ” without putting away our selfish and one issue thinking.  As a country that impacts the lives of so many with every decision made, we MUST be more conscientious about our values, how we vote and who we put in power.  We are responsible for how we impact lives everywhere.  This is not saying we are responsible for others lives, but how we can positively impact on and influence their choices. 
We are living in a world that, more than ever, has interdependencies of economies, religious practices, societal standards, financial stability, health & safety of the earth, food and water availability and politics.   We have to account for all those elements.
Since the U.S. education policy seems to be ever more constrained, even about our own history, the only way I know of to inform and educate the future generation of leaders is to require them to go and live,  for at least a year,  in a country that does not speak English and is very different  culturally/economically, than where they come from, and require them to figure out a way to survive, make money, and complete their expected tasks no matter what.   This might be a program similar to the Peace Corps.  I know the growth they experience will completely change their attitude about life, culture, money, needs, honor, ethics,  purpose and more.”

POSTNOTE: We saw a phenomenal concert by the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall today (Thursday) which will be aired live Friday night June 21 at 8 p.m. CDT on PBS.   I think this may be available by livestream anywhere.  The program is “Celebrating Pride” featuring pieces by Dame Ethel Smyth, Poulenc and Tchaikovsky.

For those of the French-Canadian persuasion who live in the Twin Cities area, on Tuesday evening June 25 at 6:30 at the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall; and Wednesday evening June 26 at 6:30 at St. Paul Central Library,  90 W 4th Street, Christine Loys will show her film En Avant L’Etoile du Nord ou “Le Joie de Vivre”.  Christine will be in attendance at this showing.   I have seen both the original and the current version.  Both were excellent.  The approximately one hour film explores the rich French in America heritage in this area.

Finally, there have been some other posts in the last two weeks: Fascism (6/12) and Country School (6/15) have comments; Bump Stock (6/16) has a recent commentary about gun violence which I consider particularly worthwhile and from an unexpected source.


from Larry: Thank you for this.  I have believed for a long time that every young person should have to do two years of service after high school, in another country or culture.  Paid for minimally, with room and board, like old time military service.  Then when they’re done, college or trade school etc paid for similar to the idea of GI bill.  Military would be one option, but also Peace Corps and many other service efforts.  The Veterans program at Roseville Rotary had several Veterans speaking to what Maryam says – several were doctors and their military service was on an Indian reservation, or obviously in another country.  Plainview, Minnesota just put in a monument/memorial to the Peace Corps.

response from Maryam: I wish the foreign experience could be mandatory in the U.S..  the people here truly need the experience to become world citizens.