Wednesday, July 13, 2016


My column for the Aitkin Independent Age speaks today July 13th about the turbulence of these times.  Killings, protests, massive demonstrations from East to West Coast.  The question has been asked for decades now, "Can we just get along?"

Well it's time again in 2016 to elect a national leader.  The method we use in the U.S. is far from satisfactory.  Our politics is strangely set up this summer to pit an experienced woman against a 70-year-old male celebrity with habits of delivering insults and provocations.  Plus absolutely no background of elective office or governmental anything.

With the recurring problems of violence, racism, sexism, and lack of economic opportunity in America, I conclude that no, we probably can't get along.  The only thing I found for a topic of general agreement in my column was abundant clean water.  Yes, I'll drink to that!

Monday, April 6, 2015


For some time I have believed that "Our best days" have passed, despite what political candidates say every four years.  The list of unsolved problems in our nation and in our world grows every year.  In previous postings on this blog I have taken a look at them: severe income inequality, unreformed immigration, the Middle East in combat from Turkey to Pakistan, nuclear Israel wanting Iran pacified.  And a globe that continues heating up from human indifference.

The Big Things that America has done include Ike's Interstate Highway System, JFK's exploration of the Moon, LBJ's Medicare and Medicaid and a Voting Rights Act.  With Nixon we got a Clean Water and Clean Air Act.

Obama has tried hard to reform Healthcare and defuse Iran's nuclear ambition with diplomacy.  But a Congress with conservatives hell-bent on defeating this Democrat at any cost, are showing the world that in this Century, despite our affluence and raw power, we are unable to function as a government of the people who reside here.

How to stop this decline?  Well, for starters we must acknowledge it.  Then hold those we elect accountable for their actions.  We can speak, blog, and broadcast.  Write, organize, and vote.  A wise person has said that the world is run by those who show up.  It's our  challenge for today.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Veterans Day 2014: Looking Back

As a kid I kept a scrapbook of the war in Europe and the Pacific.
I pasted in maps with lines and arrows crossing France and Russia.
My brother and I collected airplane cards - fighters and bombers
with their top speeds - Bell Aircobra, Lockheed Lightning, Thunderbolt,
and Mustang. We built solid wood models and balsa wood airframes
and gliders and folded our swept-wing paper airplanes.

The next war came in Korea during high school. Gull-winged Corsairs,
and Banshees battled Soviet MIGs. The Navy put me through college
and offered flight school at graduation. By the time I had my wings
the world was caught up in a cold war. Flying from the deck of an
aircraft carrier in Grumman Trackers, we were submarine hunters in
Cuban waters and the mid-Atlantic. In Cuba the Soviets backed down,
brought their submarines to the surface after weeks of tracking, and
we took photos of their missiles being shipped back east.

With my obligation complete I left the Atlantic and settled down to earth
for a mining career and graduate study in Minneapolis. But back on
campus I couldn’t ignore the contrails in the sky as I walked between
classes. One morning I drove to the air station and asked for a reserve
squadron with something I could fly. That is how I joined a helicopter
squadron and returned to Pensacola to learn how to hover, then cruised
to Key West to search for submarines with dipping sonar.

By this time Southeast Asia was claiming a half million U.S. troops in a
war against North Viet Nam. Once a regular officer but now a reservist
I saw that no reserves were ever called up to fight this war - just
draftees and career military. I left the helicopter squadron and finished
out my federal service as an engineer in the naval research reserve -
taking active duty for training in ocean science projects.
It’s a dangerous world we live in today. If I were twenty one again
I would be back up in the sky.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Putting It Back Together: U S A

Most of what we lack today is hope and courage.
Today's news and commentary make dismal reading.

What has happened to America?  To US?
Are we in the Arena?  Let's make sure.  Let's take stock.
Let's remember what we've been given.

At home and in our neighborhood let's listen hard, do right.
And offer to help.

With what we have let's share.
And when we speak, think first: is it true? is it wise? is it helpful?

Greed and hate have no place.
Other ideas, other people deserve respect - until they trample on it.

Elections are coming - our chance to change leaders.
Look behind all the money; look for respect in the speeches.

Is war breaking out again?  Our warriors and police protect us,
but require close oversight.

Let's vow to hope and dare more - and believe that we can
overcome this time of disappointment.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


It has been exactly four months since I posted on this Blog. The Title was "DISCOURAGED , BUT HOPEFUL."  What does it take to hold onto hope in these times of gridlock, dysfunction, looming extinction, inequality, poverty, freshwater scarcity, pollution, Pakistani polio, to name a few problems here and abroad. 
I choose to call this posting today "A BETTER HOPE?"  America has been referred to as the "Last Best Hope on Earth."  "Best" is too strong a word for me today, but we are better for example, than Ukraine, at the moment.  And I guess, better than China, with its pollution and authoritarianism. 

Here in the U.S. we are seeing the rise of our own Oligarchs, and we have a failing underclass without much hope.  Four months ago I took inspiration from the life of Pete Seeger, and could sing along. 

Today I take my inspiration from my Great GrandUncle Isaac P. Prickett, who volunteered in September 1862 to fight in the Iowa 23rd Infantry, Company F, of the Union Army in the Civil War.  Private Prickett was wounded while fighting at Big Black River, Mississippi.  He was taken to St. Louis where he died in July 1863, and lies in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  He and his comrades saved the Union and ended slavery in our America.

One hundred fifty one years later it is up to us the living, and the remembering, to volunteer and tackle the problems weighing down our country.  We can still give hope to others, after all.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Tonight the President speaks to the State of the Union. SOTU it's being called.  Next Tuesday the DFL Party caucuses all over Minnesota.  So it's time to take stock of where we are in this governing business. 

A pundit from the NY Times declares today that our policy has failed in Egypt.  A cartoonist in the local daily shows Uncle Sam hapless in the face of horrific suffering in Syria.  Economic inequality and a lack of upward mobility are dragging many of us backward in this young 21st century. 
A book on my shelf is titled "When Corporations Rule the World," and I tend to agree that much of the time this is true. Money, BIG money, not only talks, but shouts its demands of us. The causes of  "malaise" are many, and I am discouraged as I write this.

Today we mourn the death of folksinger Pete Seeger.  He was 94: sixteen years my senior.  He greatly inspired many of us with his passion, his melodies, and his words.  Freedom, justice, equality, and peace.  We know the tunes.  We know the message and the promise.  As was said to us at my Dad's funeral, "Now we must do the singing."  And the marching and the believing... again!

Monday, October 14, 2013

TITLE "BAD GOVERNMENT FOR ALL" Today is the "observed" National Holiday honoring Christopher Columbus. We learned as school kids that he "discovered America in 1492." Today is also Day Fourteen of the "Partial" Government Shutdown of 2013. Federal Offices are closed, and there is no mail delivery. But many Federal offices have been closed for two weeks, and the news media have been full of the consequences to many of us when the U.S. Government failed to function on October 1st. Reports from Washington now tell us that Republicans in Congress no longer insist that the Affordable Care Act be repealed or defunded as their cost of reopening the government. Now they have linked the Debt Ceiling to the Shutdown, so that they could cause a global economic collapse. It was Senator John McCain who called one of his party's freshman colleagues a "Wacko Bird" a few weeks ago. We hear that about forty hard-core members of the Tea Party Caucus now have effective control of Congressional Republicans. These radicals demand concessions in government spending beyond the extreme sequestering cutbacks - without any added revenues - before they will allow government to reopen or raise the debt ceiling so the Treasury can pay our obligations. Bond interest, social security payments, federal salaries, medicare payments, and on and on. For thirty years now the USA has drifted into a condition of severe income inequality. The wealthiest among us have captured most of the benefits of the recovery from the Great Recession. Much of the Middle Class is doing worse or no better that they did forty years ago. This Country is surely in decline. Today we have both Inequality and Bad Government for us all. With the messed-up districting across the United States, we cannot pull out of this nose dive with anything less that a political upheaval. The World is watching to see if our Democracy can function. One wants to hope, but it doesn't look good on this National Holiday.