Star Wars

POSTNOTE Oct 12: A surprise comment from Carole, writing from Amman Jordan.   “I might have even flown out to protest — had I been home. But, a do a lot of that in [Washington] DC!  [Here], for fun, is a shot of the hunter moon rising tonight in Wadi Rum.

POSTNOTE Oct 10:  Here is a history of the composition of the U.S. Congress and Presidency since 1940: U.S. Government001.  The source of the basic information is here.


Tomorrow #45 comes to Minneapolis.

It makes sense to provide a few facts before the plane takes off tomorrow:  Target Center (the venue for #45) has a seating capacity of about 20,000; the Twin Cities population is about 3,600,000; Minnesota population is about 5,500,000; most recent estimate that there are about 200,000 Muslims in Minnesota; Mall of America estimates 40 million visitors a year, and every day over 100,000 people are on site at the Mall of America – people who work there, walk there, are tourists, etc.  It will be easy to fill Target Center, by no means will it be the biggest crowd in history.

I’ve seen two Presidents at Target Center.  In 1996, President Clinton came in October.  In January, 2008, then-candidate Obama stopped by in the days before the precinct caucuses.   I was at both events, enthusiastic and very orderly.

Target Center January, 2008

photos Dick Bernard

Target Center Oct, 1996

#45 will come and he will leave.  I took a time-out just to revisit my own “history” with Presidents of the U.S., including candidates for the office.  It’s not illustrious, but interesting to revisit.

One time I actually was in a meeting in the Cabinet room just off the Oval Office in D.C.   It was in January, 1980, and we were briefed on then-issues.  President Carter was not in town.  It was still a momentous event in my own life.

At White House Jan 16, 1980

The First time I actually saw a U.S. President in person I was about 13.  We lived in tiny Karlsruhe ND, and President Eisenhower apparently was scheduled to be in Minot, maybe 50 miles away.  We were there, along a street where the President drove by in an open car.  Before that, we saw the then-Air Force One fly in.  Off and on, I’ve tried to fix the exact date.  I’m almost 100% certain that the Presidents visit related to the new Minot and Grand Forks Air Force Bases, both creatures of the Cold War.

Years later, I think August of 1975, I took my son and a couple of neighbor boys, to see then-President Gerald Ford at the Marriott in Bloomington. We were on the other side of a rope line.   This was ‘up close and personal and quick’.   President Nixon had resigned the previous year, and Gerald Ford had moved from Speaker of the House of Representatives to Vice-President after Spiro Agnew had resigned as Vice-President.

Gerald Ford Aug. 19, 1975, photo Dick Bernard

Back in 1960, I was at a park in Valley City ND when Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ‘whistle-stopped’.  At the time, he was competing for Republican nomination for President.  Richard Nixon ultimately won, then lost in the general to John F. Kennedy.  21 was voting age then, and I was only 20.  But it was very interesting.  Years later, a direct lie from Newt Gingrich before the 1996 election caused me to write an opinion piece about my experience that earlier day in 1960.  You can read it here: Times Record 12-3-96001

Why “Star Wars”?

Sunday we saw “The Empire Strikes Back”, episode five of the Star Wars series.  It was at Orchestra Hall, with music by the live Orchestra.  It was the 5th performance, and another packed house.  Star Wars still lives!  (I’ve only seen a couple of the episodes, but for some unremembered reason took my son to the original in the early summer of 1977, and he was hooked.

I’ll leave the moralizing to the professionals and the addicts of Star Wars.  But it seems to me that Star Wars always had a moral kind of subtext, and this was pretty clear in The Empire Strikes Back.  (This is the episode where Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker the he’s Luke’s Dad.  Sort of like a futuristic “Boy Named Sue” (Johnny Cash) – his Dad names him Sue, cause he’s been a rotten Dad and he knows his kid will have to know how to defend himself.)

During the film, I think it is the Wise Man – Obe-Wan Kenobi? – is trying to teach Luke Skywalker wisdom, and Luke mostly gets it.  There is talk about the “dark side” (which I think we all possess): (Conover Company)Fear is the path to the Dark Side.” – Yoda (from the movie, Star Wars) “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate.”   I wrote a note to myself during the performance, that the third word was Aggression.

Of course, any analysis can be challenged.  Personally I think the above makes a lot of sense, and we’re a schizophrenic society, at war within and among ourselves.  This isn’t healthy.  We all lose.

We see a great plenty of the dark side these days, and my guess we’ll hear more about it from the experts tomorrow when #45 touches is in our town…

COMMENTS:  (see also end of post comments)  Information about protest of the event can be seen here

from Norm:  Robin Hood or even as a rock star!  Watch the faces of those attending the overflowing rally on Thursday and note the expressions on their faces.  They will look like they are in awe of and almost in a state of worship of a rock star!  I doubt that we will be able to reach very many of those folks with our usual facts and figures.

response from Jim:  Yes, but remember some cried when Stalin died and some still practice Nazism.  Many of those now enthralled by Trumpism are probably lost, but maybe maybe a few will recover.

from Norm:   Yes, and there were lots of Torries still loyal to the kingster during the Revolutionary War.

from Carol: Dick, this is not the day for low key


Just Above Sunset, overnight: This Absurd King

from Jean in Canada:  Very interesting.  FYI: We are having our own Federal election on Monday Oct.21st.   People are so fed up of the mudslinging and the promises that the parties are doing, it is depressing.

from Fred, in 35 point type: Welcome to Minneapolis Mr. President.

Two opinion pieces in the Minneapolis paper on the day of the event: Rally Opinions Oct 10 19002

from Carol:  I was sickened by Trump’s display of hatred and vulgarity at the rally.  But that is what happens when someone has nothing of substance to say (they claimed he was going to talk about healthcare – fat chance…) and so they have to keep upping the ante with shocking language, etc. – otherwise, their “groupies” will get bored.

But his infamous visit is over, and what’s on my mind is what’s going on in Syria.  Even though it’s off your topic, could you post this link?
Turkey is massacring our Kurdish allies – after they told Trump to move our troops out of the way, and he gladly did so.  Our military is livid.  This is obscene.  And now they say Turkey is further into Syria than they stated they were going to go.  Yesterday they (accidentally?) shelled one of our bases (no casualties).  The Kurds feel totally betrayed, and have told America that if we don’t do something, they will be forced to turn to Russia for help in establishing a no-fly zone.  Is this what we want??  Who knows what Trump wants – he just wants to sow chaos.
The comments line at the White House is 202-456-1111.  I’ve found you get through, but will likely have to be on hold for 2-3 minutes.  You can send an online message at  It’s easy to find contact info for our Congresspersons.
This is NOT just a matter of two sides being equal.  Trump crows all the time about “defeating ISIS”; however, we couldn’t have done that without the Kurds, who lost thousands of their men so we wouldn’t have to.  And now this.  Amazingly, the Kurds are still guarding, for us, prisons in Syria where thousands of ISIS fighters are locked up.  Several have already escaped in the turmoil.  WE OWE THEM!!
Trump has blood on his hands.  And if the U.S. does nothing, so will we all.

Downtown Minneapolis about 6:15 p.m. October 10, 2019.  Target Center is about four blocks ahead, just to the left.

5:45 a.m. Friday, October 11.  I had a half hour to ‘kill’ before an evening meeting in suburban Roseville, yesterday, so I decided to drive to downtown Minneapolis to see what might be going on right before the campaign rally at the Target Center.  Succinctly, the weather was miserable and getting worse, and there was really not much of anything going on.  At the corner of, I think, 2nd Avenue and 7th Street, the sign said the street was closed at Hennepin Avenue.  At First, about three blocks from Target Center, I diverted, heading back towards my meeting.  I saw a few people walking in the general direction of the event venue.

Later, driving home from the meeting about 9:30, the rain had increased and it was not a pleasant drive; I saw what appeared to be a bad accident in the northbound lane on I-694 – certainly weather related.  Plenty of flashing lights and emergency vehicles.  Back home, I stayed up for a few minutes and there was little of anything about the event on the tube.  I’ll see what is mentioned in the morning paper – about both event and accident.  So it was, in real time, October 10, 2019.

3 a.m. Saturday, October 12.  Alan Pavlik, who writes Just Above Sunset out in Los Angeles, is to the best of my knowledge from several years of reading his posts, just a citizen like myself – a guy with a keyboard who cares about this country.  His overnight post today, An Alternative Ending, is worth the time to read in its entirety (as are all of his posts).  At the very least, read the last paragraph, especially the last sentence…“We have work to do”.

A few hours earlier came an e-mail from our friend, who is in Germany, introducing her book, newly translated into German, about growing up in Nazi Germany.  I choose not to quote any part of her quite long e-mail, except to requote Alan, above, “We have work to do”, which reflects two sentences of her e-mail..  “Ending” the Syrian war on ISIS and green lighting Erdogan in Turkey to go after Kurdish territory is simple, and complex and dangerous and all sorts of other words, including popular in some elements, regardless of right, left or otherwise.  It is not so simple.

Saturday will soon dawn.  Out in my home state of North Dakota they have apparently endured a severe early blizzard.  Here it is set to be a bit chilly weekend.  And we can pretend, if we wish, that all of the national and international crises swirling around are not our problem, and they will just go away.  The leaves are getting nice this time of year.  This is no time to pretend that all is well.

9 a.m. Saturday, October 12.  I was about to leave my usual coffee place about 8:15.  The Saturday regulars at the large table next to mine – several guys who do their weekly Bible Study there – had just left, and one remained. He’s the ultra-Christian among them, he proudly brought his bright red “MAGA” hat in for all to see ‘back in the day’ when #45 was still future tense.

Today, he’d apparently overheard the two guys at a nearby table talking about going to the rally.  They are also frequent visitors and their conversations suggest they are both ministers.  MAGA-man said he and his wife had a home party to view the speech on Thursday.  He said he didn’t agree with everything the President did but….  Then he started to leave, then turned and came back to the coffee shop blackboard and very carefully printed the words N – A – N – C – Y – P – E – L – O – S – I and left.  I took the picture within five minutes of his writing.  I’ll report on any developments at this space.

The light obscured the sentence above the words, so changed my vantage point to see it clearly (photo below).  I wasn’t especially surprised.  I’d just hand-written a polite response to one person on my e-list who’s sent a brief e-mail “please delete my address” stating “Pelosi can’t name one law he has broken that comes close to High Crimes.”  (I do have people who tell me to not send them any more posts, but they really are quite rare.   Apparently they simply don’t want to hear another version of their truth.)

Nancy Pelosi on the blackboard October 12, 2019, 8:15 a.m.

UPDATE, Sunday morning Oct 13 8 a.m. – I looked at the Board this morning and to the left of the question, someone had written “Donald Trump”.  I have no idea who….

Back home, I did a quick scan of today’s columns in one of my favorite ‘fake news’ outlets, the Washington Post.  One headline attracted attention: “Populists are popular because they give easy answers to problems that don’t have them“.  In the column, David Von Drehle’s analysis in conclusion: Regardless of where populism rises on the political spectrum, it is inevitably fated to fail.

“Nancy Pelosi” is one the favorite hate phrases I hear.  Somewhere, once, I read that among her other attributes, Nancy Pelosi is an active Catholic, and almost exactly my age (a month and a half older).  She and I have age and religion and other things in common.  Of course, some estimable authoritative bunch called the Catholic League has commandeered the internet to declare that she (which probably means me, too) is a ‘heretic’.

Nancy Pelosi is doubly-terrifying because she’s in the same political position as President Gerald Ford was when an earlier vice-president and president got on the wrong side of the law.  As the saying goes OMG.  Oh well.

Have a great day.

Front page Minneapolis Star Tribune Oct 11, 2019


3 replies
  1. Catherine Rivard
    Catherine Rivard says:

    I can’t believe you ever had dark hair! Lumberjack Dick.

    I don’t think there’s much comparison regarding Trump’s visit with the other presidents, who were gentlemen. Trump’s a boor and his fans become so in his presence. There is plenty of opportunity for upset and even danger tomorrow. I would like to attend but the commute home in the dark with roaming Trumpsters all piped up, will keep me in.

  2. Mary Morris
    Mary Morris says:

    I feel extremely lucky to have shaken hands and have conversations with some truly great leaders from Washington DC.including 3 presidents and 4 VP’s. Even when I didn’t agree with all their ideas and actions I admired most of them for their hard work, leadership, and grace. Unfortunately I don’t find any of those qualtities in “The Don” and those who surround him. So I will be at the protest tomorrow. Honestly I thought it would be best to have no one show up to ignore his visit and have gatherings throughout our communities to discuss what each one of us can do for the next election. But sense there is going to be a protest I want that to be a large – very large crowd. Guess that means I have to show. So I got a 30 inch Baby T. Ballon and hopefully tomorrow I wll go some place to fill it with helium. May it be a peaceful protest and may we be polite and [show] respect to those who don’t agree with us.

  3. Sandy Curry
    Sandy Curry says:

    These are great photos Dick of all your involvement in significant historical events! No surprise! I am very worried about Trump coming tomorrow and i hope there is no violence but hope that there are many peaceful non violent protestors outside Target Center and I hope he doesn’t even fill anywhere near capacity at the Target Center. How anyone can even come and listen to this corrupt President is quite unbelievable and hopefully the legal process will continue in the House and the Senate will come to their senses and realize that this President has to be impeached ASAP! He is ruining the world! I just posted tonight on Facebook the photo of mom and dad outside their house with their Peace Pole and told everyone all about what a Peace Is and what my dad Lynn Elling did for Global justice and world law and Peace.
    It is a very scary time Dick and I am also thinking about what is happening in Syria tonight and it is really unforgivable that we have left our allies uncovered and unsupported! Keep up your Peaceful efforts! thanks much Sandy Curry


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