"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Let's hear Dan Rassier with National Anthem!

(APM image)
Remember when Tommy Loy played the National Anthem on his trumpet at Dallas Cowboys home games? That was in the Tom Landry days - coach Tom with his outdated film noir hat. I once heard that hat sales were a real staple of the old men's clothing stores.
Mr. Loy played the patriotic song all alone. There's a big advantage to having the song done this way: a trumpet player can cover a full two octaves pretty easily. A singer cannot. The Star Spangled Banner has an excessive range of notes.
I was reminded of Tommy Loy when an idea entered my head recently. I was thinking of Dan Rassier, that very stressed individual who was the mistaken "person of interest" in the Jacob Wetterling case. I was familiar with Dan when we were students at St. Cloud State University in the 1970s. I was in concert band for a rather brief time. Dan was the star trumpet player. I too played trumpet, but by that time I had developed into too much of a "stylist" on the instrument. I was playing weekend gigs with the Tempo Kings orchestra, a group that had a style like Sammy Kaye. I no longer felt comfortable in a college concert band.
Dan was one of those prodigy-type trumpet players. Most people can remember such a person from their school days, so capable and self-confident on the instrument. You never had to worry about them flubbing anything. Our exhibit here in Morris: Terry Rice, 1971 Morris High graduate. Terry was showcased on "Portrait of a Trumpet." I drew a caricature of Terry called "Portrait of a Trumpet" in which his pants were falling down (among other things). Us non-prodigies felt a little jealousy.
I got to thinking recently that Dan Rassier should be invited to play the National Anthem on his trumpet for a Minnesota Vikings game. This would be a gesture to try to prop up his self-esteem and make a statement to the whole state about his purity as an individual.
Can you imagine the hell of being a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling case? Yes, he is suing. Because of that, the case will linger.
I emailed my suggestion to Amy Klobuchar and got no direct response. Klobuchar's background is as a prosecutor. Because of that, I'm sure she isn't eager to acknowledge when investigations or prosecutors go wrong. We occasionally hear about people who are let out of prison because they are found innocent. Do they even get an apology? I gather they don't. The reach of law enforcement can touch many innocent people, in Dan's case as a person of interest owing to nothing more than the coincidence of his residence by the abduction point. He got drawn into that whirlpool of tension. It was a unique and foreboding whirlpool because a child had simply vanished, therefore anyone could be a suspect.
How would you like it if something like the Wetterling abduction happened in your neighborhood? In any neighborhood you're likely to find at least one person who doesn't fit the mold of the perfectly-adjusted American. If your lifestyle is unconventional in any way, if you have any sort of checkered background, if for example you've been treated for mental illness (like our Minnesota governor has), well, you might have hell to pay in terms of suspicion hovering.
A good attorney would probably tell you not to say much. Defense attorneys have a trait of encouraging clients to say little, and the Wetterling case presents a good argument as to why. Dan did not immediately gravitate to such an attorney, probably figuring like many naive people would, "what's wrong with talking to law enforcement, in effect helping them?"
Dan went under hypnosis. Why? Maybe law enforcement told him his subconscious might reveal something, something he saw or whatever. Instead his cooperation with authorities appeared to lead him down a road where his life became hell. He seemed on the verge of getting charged with the crime. Remember, this is the most heinous crime imaginable. If law enforcement is going to focus on anyone with an air of suspicion in a case like this, the grounds for doing so must be very firm. The grounds could not have been very firm because we now know Dan was nothing more than a person minding his own business, living a productive life at a place that happened to be where that guy out of hell committed his misdeed.
I attended Dan's recital at St. Cloud State. On a trivial note, I remember that every 3-4 days he'd wear a shirt that had the words "wild ivy" on the back. I remember him breaking down laughing the first time we rehearsed a medley of Walt Disney tunes that included the Mickey Mouse theme song, played by Dan with a Harmon mute pushed into the bell of his horn.
Our trumpet teacher was Al Moore, then with a full head of hair. I probably had no business being in college music. As I reflect, I realize that at age 17 I knew all I had to know about music and the trumpet. I had a nice intuitive feel. I actually played the French horn in the UMM band back in about 1968. The UMM band was short of french horn players at that time. I was junior high-age. Due to hanging around campus so much, I sat in on a couple "moratoriums" at Edson Hall, directed at the Viet Nam war.
Maybe I should have just stuck with the French horn. I took up the trumpet in order to play in marching band. Maybe I should have just taken up the guitar and learned about popular song structure and technique. Our education system isn't friendly to the guitar or even the piano, because they are instruments of individual expression, thus they can be "dangerous" (in the eyes of the "establishment"). We might start protesting things.
I have written two recent blog posts in the aftermath of the Wetterling resolution. As a 27-year mystery it was always ripe for journalists and book authors to explore. I wasn't going to write any more. Then I saw the extensive attention given in the weekend Willmar newspaper.
At present, all our efforts should be concentrated on helping Mr. Rassier resume a normal life in which he can hold his head high. It won't be easy. However, a sheriff fellow appears to be rubbing salt in an old wound. We must keep in mind that all investigating agencies will be striving to defend vs. Rassier's lawsuit. They have incentive to try to suggest that Rassier was sort of off-kilter, or however you want to describe it.
The confession of the murderer (and his pinpointing of the body) has exonerated Mr. Rassier. But "(Sheriff) Sanner said recently that, if he had to do it over again, he would have done the same thing based on the way Rassier answered questions, the fact that he was there alone that night and other details included in those search warrants," the Willmar paper reported.
He was there alone! Oh my, I have read that Rassier drew some suspicion because he was found to have some press clippings about the abduction in his possession. Oh, my! He cried under hypnosis when the subject of the Wetterling abduction came up.
I remember reading a couple online comment boards at the time the "person of interest" tag was attached to him. The media, incidentally, acted very cautious about this, as if many of its members harbored quite justified skepticism. How would you like it if those online comments were directed at you? Someone examined his jogging routes. Rassier was, and maybe still is, a committed runner.
Sanner said "shame on us if we don't do what we did."
Sanner seems to speak proudly about how the official investigation proceeded. Here's a simple question we could ask: If that investigation was so beyond criticism, why in the end was an unpaid blogger presented as a primary hero in the resolution? Why was a national media celebrity, John Walsh, presented as a primary hero? Walsh was a hero partly because he showcased blogger Joy Baker's work.
Thank God for the media. Minus that Walsh special (on CNN), the Wetterling case could have remained open indefinitely. The media pushed investigators to connect certain dots which apparently they were stubborn to try to connect. The investigation was set back ten years by the decision to conclude that the abductor was on foot rather than in a vehicle.
Investigators discounted Rassier's claim that there were two vehicles in his quarter-mile-long driveway that night.
The resolution of the Wetterling case has left many of us feeling rather empty and disappointed. First we have the "collateral damage" of what happened to Rassier and I'm sure others who submitted to investigators' questions, or were pushed to try to remember things. Good grief, I might have trouble remembering what I had for supper last night.
But primarily, we feel disturbed because the murderer was able to strike a deal. Who wants to make that type of concession? Jacob has been gone for 27 years. We are left now with the lives of so many people that have been disrupted, and that includes the investigators who could have spent that immense amount of time on other cases. They were suspicious of the perp right from the start. How tragic that the perp couldn't have been nailed early-on.
This is a unique case that haunts us. I'm not sure that prayer is going to give much solace. So let's try to put Mr. Rassier on a pedestal for showing his well-known trumpet flourish, playing the National Anthem for a Vikings game!
Addendum: Mr. Sanner, did your mother ever teach you the saying about how if you have nothing positive to say about someone, don't say anything?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 24, 2016

MACA employs the run again, beats 'Waska

Tigers 34, 'Waska 14
The Tigers hosted Minnewaska Area on a night with a hint of fall weather in the air. This was a clash of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Lakers came here winless. Meanwhile our Tigers have done nothing but win. This has been accomplished with a minimal, sometimes negligible passing attack. The running game has more than compensated.
Again it was Jacob Zosel spearheading that running game. On this night the hard-charging Tiger carried the football 27 times and covered 244 yards. The Tigers beat the Lakers 34-14.
We were in total command at halftime, up 21-0. Chase Metzger scored the first orange and black touchdown, turning on the jets from 35 yards away. Eli Grove kicked the point-after.
Even though our passing game generated just 32 yards on the night, it was the pass that garnered our second score Friday: a quite impressive 24-yard play that had Toby Sayles throwing and Metzger catching. Grove kicked the PAT. Our third score of the half came when Zosel broke loose for a 42-yard run. Grove's toe was true again, and the halftime break arrived with Morris Area Chokio Alberta up most comfortably.
The second half scoring began with Sayles getting into the end zone from the eight. The kick try failed. The Minnewaska Area fans finally got a chance to cheer when Colin Richards caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Gruber. Chris Claussen kicked the point-after. The Tigers scored again on a nine-yard Sayles run, and Grove kicked the PAT.
Minnewaska's Gruber scored the final points of the night on a six-yard run. Claussen kicked the point-after.
Dominant as Zosel was in our running game, other Tigers had noticeable impact as well: Sayles (71 yards on ten carries), Ryan Dietz (39 yards on nine carries), Metzger (that big 35-yard TD run) and Conner Koebernick (24 yards on five carries). Sayles completed three passes in ten attempts and had none picked off. Metzger had two of the receptions for 27 yards, and Koebernick had the other, for five.
These three Tigers each had a quarterback sack: Sayles, Paul Hockert and Diego Arreguin.
Ryan Christianson was Minnewaska's top ballcarrier with 98 yards in 12 carries. Garrett Jensen rushed for 42 yards in eleven carries. Gruber picked up 13 rushing yards. Gruber completed six passes in 13 attempts for 94 yards and had none picked off. The pass catchers were Garrett Jensen (three catches, 42 yards) and Colin Richards (two catches, 59 yards).
The winning spirit is taking over fandom in Morris, Minnesota! Big Cat Stadium is a place to cheer.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 22, 2016

MACA girls survive test vs. Sauk Centre

The orange and black have inspired spirited cheering, indeed, thus far in the fall season. I have been pleased to write about the volleyball and football teams. The MACA girls downed a powerful Sauk Centre team Tuesday on the road. Scores were 23-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-23 and 16-14.
Click on the link below to read about the MACA football team's 41-21 win over Benson on 9/16. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Tigers 3, Sauk Centre 2
The Sauk Centre volleyball team owns 12 wins on the season. The Streeters gave the Tigers all they could handle at the Sauk court. But in the end, MACA's many strengths prevailed. Those strengths will be on display tonight (Thursday) at home vs. BOLD, and this weekend in the "Midwest Volleyball Warehouse" in Burnsville. The caliber of this weekend's event is expected to be very high.
Sauk Centre's only loss previous to Tuesday was against No. 1 Maple Lake.
The Tigers made a strong statement about their superiority in conference. We're ranked No. 5 in state but got humbled in game 1 vs. the Streeters. We were edged by two points. But it was just the start of an extended, intense and entertaining affair. We took game 2 before getting edged again in game 3. Then the Tigers bore down to prevail the rest of the way. Mission accomplished!
Karly Fehr showed stamina and focus in the setting department, emerging as a key individual in the win with her 49 set assists. Many of those assists were seized upon by Brooke Gillespie who pounded down 15 kills. Jenna Howden and Ashley Solvie each produced 13 kills. The list continues with Nicole Solvie (6), Jenna Larsen (5) and Karly Fehr (3).
Ashley Solvie and Cassidy Fehr each had two serving aces. Koral Tolifson batted one serving ace at the Streeters. Solvie (first name N/A) and Larsen each executed two ace blocks while Karly Fehr and Howden each had one. On the defensive side, Riley Decker accumulated 32 digs to lead. Gillespie was in position to produce 27 digs, Cassidy Fehr produced 16, then we have Karly Fehr (14), Tolifson (9), Howden (7), Ashley Solvie (6) and Larsen (5).
Occasionally I check the Morris newspaper website. I'm puzzled, as I'm sure others are, about the valueless nature of the sports link on that site. It has devolved into a mish-mash of mostly non-local stuff. Non-Morris high schools are there, along with Vikings etc., all outside the normal sphere of what you'd expect a site like this to cover.
In the last couple days I tried finding a review of the Morris-Benson football game. I could not find it. I wrote my own post about that game Saturday morning and had it on the web y 11 a.m. The Morris newspaper staff has someone paid to do this. But maybe they would just link to the Willmar paper's very dry coverage.
Our teams deserve better than this. They deserve someone who has their heart in covering the teams, someone who could apply a little pizazz. I invite any and all to visit my sites: "I Love Morris" and "Morris of Course." The radio station is welcome to link to any post I write. If they get a complaint for any reason, they can just pull it.
We're just getting going in an exciting MACA sports year.
Click on the link below to read about the football team's win over ACGC on September 9:
Quick theory: the Morris newspaper isn't anxious to provide anything for which it isn't paid. The paper might say "we need a sponsor." Why? Does it cost anything to put a game review on the website? The paper would just be saying "show us the money." We needn't be so dependent on the paper.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, September 19, 2016

Johnson staying to deal with new pressures?

Jacqueline Johnson
The big headline in the University Register says Jacqueline Johnson is sticking around a little longer. She has postponed retirement as UMM chancellor. The University Register is available for free at Casey's. It's on a newsstand right next to the newsstand where three other papers are available for payment. I'm always a little nervous just grabbing a Register as I walk out there, so I'll say to the clerk "this is free, right?"
UMM had a campus paper, "Northstar," that supposedly required payment if you wanted more than one copy. That policy was just a naked ploy to catch and prosecute people who might be tempted, for very legitimate reasons, to remove copies from campus because of offensive and ridiculous content.
Our University of Minnesota-Morris went through an awkward period known as a "chancellor search." It proceeded as planned until an embarrassing complication. The person they chose withdrew. The company line about this was: personal reasons. Rodney Hanley apparently had personal reasons for not wanting to come here and accept this prestigious position. What happened? Did he suddenly find out that all the lakes were around Alexandria and not Morris? Here's a nice little game you can play in Morris these days: see who can compile the longest list of well-known people who have moved from Morris to Alexandria.

Strings pulled behind scenes?
I have wondered if certain factions associated with UMM developed concerns about whether the new guy would really work out. An individual with whom I spoke said Hanley "didn't have the background" appropriate for taking the reins. Hanley certainly had to have a good resume to get as far as he did in the process. If not, a pox on the search committee.
No, I think that in this point in time, there may be some alarm bells ringing for our U of M-Morris, making it essential that the chancellor have all the background needed to deal with particular pressing issues. A newcomer might flail away for a while. It may be, this is no time for a glad-handing guy to show up and just give rosy speeches about the liberal arts. Behind the scenes there may be some real pressing matters.
My basis for thinking this, partly, is the news coming out of UMM's cousin in Duluth: the U of M-Duluth. The pressing matters there are right out in the open. We learn that "about $2 million in cuts to academic programs this fall will mark the next step in the University of Minnesota-Duluth's long slog through reducing an annual deficit that once was more than $9 million."
Three of the five colleges that make up UMD will bear the brunt of the fiscal pain, and one of them is - no surprise - the College of Liberal Arts. UMM's brand throughout its history has been liberal arts. The other two colleges facing adversity at Duluth are School of Fine Arts and the College of Education and Human Service Professions.
It's no surprise to learn the two colleges that are being largely spared at this time. One is the Labovitz School of Business and Economics.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC has bemoaned this big trend among young people to gravitate to "business" as a major in college. In previous times, they'd get attracted to stimulating fields of study like theology and history. Then the lure of material gains took hold, so "business" became sort of a mantra, mastering "the deal." Fine, but the refined nature of all these studies, with the ultimate criterion for determining success on "the bottom line," likely contributed to the financial crisis of 2008 with its awful consequences for so many, along with the current Wells Fargo bank scandal.
All this scheming and manipulating just to try to show you're some sort of "business" genius.
Matthews pronounced "business" with a dismissive air.
No doubt, making money is important. An obsessive approach to this can lead to all sorts of rule-breaking that could bring the whole house of cards down. In a previous time, a firm set of ethics was instilled that kept people from crossing certain lines.
In the new world of "business majors," systems were designed entirely with maximum profit as the goal. Why is the head person at Wells Fargo not forced out immediately? Instead he spews the predictable cover-your-ass rhetoric, saying his company really stands for lofty things. I hope he didn't say "mistakes were made" (passive voice).
The other college at UMD that can breathe a sigh of relief is the Swenson College of Science and Engineering. Ah, science! Science will always be spared the budget ax. Elements of the humanities have actually learned to ape the sciences, borrowing its language or its nuances to try to exude an air of science. "Iambic pentameter" in poetry. It's a mostly losing cause, but the humanities are at least trying to steal a little of the gold dust from science's saddlebags.
A UMD administrator said "unfortunately, many programs in the liberal arts are declining." School of Fine Arts Dean Bill Payne has to reduce his budget by $400,000 this year. UMD has an aim of cutting from five colleges to three. So, two deans would be eliminated. The current UMD deficit is $4.3 million. All areas of UMD have been asked to reduce expenses by one percent to save $1 million.
Enrollment decline, meaning less tuition revenue, and a recent period of less state funding doled out by the U of M, combine to put UMD in a position of cutting, which began a couple of years ago. Past reductions were made through dozens of voluntary layoffs and the merging of some programs. Enrollment peaked in 2011, and through last year dropped by about nine percent.
Demographic alarm bell
Minnesota has seen a decrease in high school-aged students! I was discussing this with a friend in Cold Spring recently. I mentioned to him how nearby St. Cloud State University was showing signs of stress. SCSU was a domain for the waves of boomer-age students. It was built for high capacity and not with the most sensitive standards for student comfort. The boomers more or less accepted the limitations. Today's students want more personalized attention, i.e. more pampering.
SCSU has given us "Coborn Plaza" which to date seems a financial boondoggle. The excuse is that it was built before the recession.
Dormitories built in the mid-20th Century, all across the country, are deemed unsatisfying, with many now coming under the wrecking ball, like good ol' Holes Hall at SCSU. But can colleges make adjustments fast enough?
To the extent MnSCU proclaims a "financial crisis," is it because of the stresses at SCSU, a bastion for students of an earlier time but an albatross today? A recent budget request has been described as a "bailout" for SCSU. A bailout here, a bailout there, and eventually you might have a sinking ship.
My Cold Spring friend and I discussed St. Cloud in general, and I mentioned that the hospital was like "a city unto itself." Very true. My friend supplied some interpretation: "Our hospitals are expanding while our colleges are crumbling. What does that say about the power of the boomer generation?"
The UMD administrator said the school is "looking into investments in online courses." Online! Here we may be getting to the heart of the situation, i.e. whether bricks and mortar institutions are still needed to the same extent, merely to infuse knowledge.
This is interesting, because for a long time we heard drastic predictions about what online was going to do to a great many institutions, including book publishing and newspapers. The predictions about ten years ago could be pretty dire, then we realized that many of the foreseen changes weren't going to happen so suddenly. We constantly see book authors discussing their new book on TV. Newspapers have survived albeit smaller. But I sense that recently, these institutions are renewing their defensive mode vs. the advances of online information. Maybe those initial predictions weren't so excessive after all.
The clock ticks and reality sets in: all the info in the world is online. Online connects us to information sources. We take connectivity for granted.
Last week's Morris MN paper was just 20 pages, in the middle of September, hardly a "dog days" time. The fall sports schedule page for MACA, normally ringed by those little "sig ads" (a ripoff in the first place), now has just a little group of "sponsors" in the middle of the page. Those few "sucker" holdouts may depart with time, leaving the Morris newspaper to just report the schedule as part of its purported news reporting mission, which it should have done all along.
An experienced hand needed?
Maybe Jacqueline Johnson is staying here because she's so much closer to the pressing issues coming down on public colleges, as opposed to a complete newcomer. The issues may require real vigilance, and maybe it will be a process of continual downsizing while saving face, the way UMD administration is doing. "The good news is that we are keeping quality high," the Duluth administrator said. Such quotes are easy to rehearse and dispense, and you can be sure the Fargo-owned happy-talk Morris newspaper will put such a quote on the front page.
But what is the reality? You can get more than a hint from the University Register article (free, I'll remind you): "Chancellor Johnson will be working with the campus in order to solve the problems of lower enrollment and a drop in retention rates after the 2012-13 academic year. She stresses, however, that it is 'a problem, not a crisis.' "
Then there's this paragraph: "Chancellor Johnson says that there is no simple answer to the problem of retention - there are emerging patterns, like modest GPA differences and extracurricular involvement, but no overarching conclusion. Competition from the Twin Cities campus is not helping either."
And then there's this: "UMM's New High School student and new Transfer student enrollment numbers were lower than expected in planning the budget for the 2016-2017 year, and the campus administration is working to better enrollment for next year."
In the end are we talking capitulation and downsizing? It may be inevitable in our changing, interconnected world. Forget about reviving the past. The survivors will be those who embrace reality. Here in Morris, where our sheer amenities are not great for attracting students, the retirement and then un-retirement of Jacquie Johnson has been disconcerting. It cannot be just "one of those things."
Addendum: There is an underlying trend that is seeping up into academia, causing a sense of crisis in many places. Ah, the new digital communication is by its nature "bottom up." Traditional academia is top-down. We're witnessing the monumental clash. It didn't happen overnight.
My boomer generation was determined to go to college but we really saw learning as a chore. Professors had to whip us as if we were a team of horses. Kids grow up today finding the learning process far more user-friendly. In other words, we are much more likely to become self-motivated in learning, to identify on our own the best pathways toward learning and knowledge. This is opposed to the old model of being force-fed knowledge in an inefficient, laborious process that made us want to detach from it much of the time.
We "crammed for finals" because we put off much of our serious study, as we found the process laborious and grating. We chose pizza and beer until deadlines loomed. This was not a fun way to learn, but such was the path the boomers followed. Not today. Today knowledge is inviting and exciting. The millennials are blessed.
How would they judge UMM's dormitories?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sweeps and more sweeps: MACA volleyball

The Tigers extended their season-opening win streak to six on Thursday (9/15). The opponent was Minnewaska Area, here. The home fans cheered as the orange and black ran the table again: it was a sweep win over the Lakers. Sweeps are becoming a habit for coach Kristi Fehr's squad. We're a Class AA force. We're established among the elite of Class AA teams. 
Click on the link below to read about the following: the MACA football team's 33-13 win over ACGC (featuring Jacob Zosel), and the volleyball team's sweeps over ACGC and Benson. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Tigers 3, Minnewaska 0
Brooke Gillespie was in top form spiking the ball. She came at the Lakers with 13 kills. She was complemented in this department by Jenna Howden (six kills), Ashley Solvie (5), Jenna Larsen (5) and Nicole Solvie (4). Larsen achieved four ace blocks to lead in that department. Howden chalked up two ace blocks and Gillespie had one.
Riley Decker was tops in digs with 12, followed by Karly Fehr (8), Koral Tolifson (6) and Gillespie (5). In serving aces, Ashley Solvie set the pace with four, followed by Tolifson (3) and Karly Fehr (2). Karly facilitated the hitting attack with her 28 set assists.
The Tigers swept the Lakers with scores of 25-17, 25-13 and 25-9.
'Waska had no serving aces. Laker Taylor Amundson had 15 set assists. Abby VerSteeg led the visitor's spiking with nine kills while Ellie Danielson had seven. Amundson and Carley Stewart each had one kill. Danielson had an ace block.
Bailey Stewart led 'Waska in digs with 22, followed by Abby VerSteeg (16). Amundson and Stewart with eight each, and Makenzia Zemke with five.
Tigers 3, Montevideo 0
The Tigers' early-season success has attracted wide notice. Our high-flying volleyball team has soared to the No. 5 ranking in Class AA. We can certainly envision this team making the state tournament again.
Who can stop the Tigers? Montevideo certainly couldn't. Coach Kristi Fehr's team made the trip to Thunder Hawk country of Montevideo Tuesday (9/13). The first game was somewhat close: a 25-20 score with MACA getting up 1-0. MACA dominance accelerated after that. We won games 2 and 3 by scores of 25-17 and 25-11. Another sweep in the books. We took a 5-0 record into Thursday's home match vs. Minnewaska Area.
Riley Decker batted three serving aces at the T-Hawks. Bailey Marty sent one serving ace at the host foe. Karly Fehr submitted her usual hard work and proficiency in setting: 31 set assists. Jenna Howden was a force at the net, chalking up 13 kills. She worked in tandem with Brooke Gillespie whose kill total was eleven. Other contributors in hitting were Ashley Solvie (six kills), Nicole Solvie (4) and Jenna Larsen (1).
Howden executed two ace blocks and Ashley Solvie had one. Decker topped the digs list with 14. Right behind her was Gillespie with 13, then the list has Karly Fehr and Koral Tolifson each with five.
The Morris school calendar says there was a big cross country meet at New London-Spicer yesterday (Thursday). I cannot find any evidence it was held. I'm beginning to view the school calendar as being rather fallible. Let's just take one week at a time.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Are church bells really needed anymore?

People talked about church bells back during the discussion over the cemetery chimes in Morris. It was unfortunate we were ever forced into that discussion. But as it grew, we heard the chimes' supporters say that if we can accept church bells, why not accept the chimes too?
I began to wonder: are church bells in fact necessary? They seem to harken back to an old time when superstition rather than science guided much of our thoughts. We certainly don't need church bells to know what time it is. So why are they still heard? Well, the churches have them installed and they just seem appropriate, based on what we have always experienced. I'm prompted to think of old black and white movies about even older times, e.g. "Song of Bernadette."
The bells peal, as they say, to convey the weighty importance of our maker who of course we should fear. Preachers in the old days seized on that sense of authority. They lectured and hectored. They told us how to live. In our present age, doesn't that old model of church-going seem dated and rather irrelevant? Prayer does not cure disease, science does.
I talked with a Morris pastor not long ago who told me he did research at a parish within his denomination once. He looked into the history. He was surprised at the large number of relatively young people who died of "natural causes" in an earlier time. We might like to forget about that earlier norm. It's certainly true as my own mother has underscored in her recollections.
The more frail human life is, the more we're inclined to turn to religion as a way of at least coping. A Pierz MN native who has written several books says that funerals in the old days - he was referring to the '30s and '40s - were very sad in their overall tone. I would suggest this was because so many people were leaving us in the prime of life. A friend of mine claims that Bud Grant once said "if you want a lot of people at your funeral, die young." It was an irreverent comment, of course.
Today of course there still are people who leave us at mid-life, just not as many. The crowds for wakes and funerals can be huge like for when Tony O'Keefe had his untimely death. I remember wanting to attend Tony's wake. I was in a crush of people just outside the funeral home. After about 15 minutes of waiting and not moving an inch, I gave up and left. I memorialized Tony in my own personal thoughts. I later suggested that on occasions like this with such an overwhelming crowd, the funeral home should arrange for a constantly moving line so people can at least pass by the casket, and if they want to fight the crowd later, fine. I wonder if the Lee Center could be used for reviewals where a very large crowd is expected.
Funerals are common today where the deceased lived to a very old age and developed so many health issues, it's rather a relief when they pass on. This sounds coarse, but I think a lot of people know just what I'm talking about. My father could easily have died in the 1980s. He got a five-vessel heart bypass with no time to spare. He lived to age 96 and was capable of enjoying life right up to the end. He did lose his ability to communicate at the end.
I think doctors are stressed dealing with patients in their 90s, because even though many medical resources can be applied, people simply do not live forever.
In hindsight we probably should have chosen cremation like through the Cremation Society of Minnesota. We never wanted to talk about death in our family. The "traditional funeral" was a default decision for us. I recommend that everyone talk openly and plan for this. You are welcome to use the Williams family bench monument at Summit Cemetery. If anyone yells at you - and this is a real possibility given the low level of decorum at the cemetery - just tell them Brian said it's OK.
I guess it was the cemetery that allowed Ted Storck's chimes play for so long. What an unfortunate and unnecessary controversy. You can really learn a lot about people. Otherwise intelligent people will have their brains freeze and talk about how wonderful it is to hear this music publicly. They talk angrily about people who say this noise is unacceptable. Of course it's unacceptable because a man's home is his castle. But people got unpleasant and wedges got driven between people, which always happens during times of controversy in a "Peyton Place" type of community like Morris.
In the meantime, the person responsible for the chimes just sort of crawled out from under the pile. Couldn't he show some basic empathy for the people who said they were annoyed at the noise/music? Didn't he feel bad, at some point, at the conflict his chimes were causing?
An upstanding person like Ken Hodgson comes forward and totally defends the chimes in a public letter. Many other public letters were written. One writer wondered if the chimes' critics were "atheists." People can be so stupid.
We heard the argument that "if church bells are OK, shy not accept the chimes?" Well, I'm not sure church bells are really needed or desirable. I think church bells belong in another age, an age that was more foreboding in terms of dealing with our mortality, an age in which we'd fight a major war every couple of decades. Perhaps boys were encouraged to play football because it was a militaristic model getting them ready in case they'd have to be sent off to war.
Football belongs in the age of church bells. All this belongs in an age when we turned to superstition so much more than today.
Is Christianity still relevant? It can be. Problem is, we hear Christianity in terms of "evangelicals" being tied so much with the extreme political right. The media toss around that term "evangelicals" so much. I wish we could get a precise definition. It gives the impression that in order to be a Christian, you have to be a gay-bashing Mike Huckabee type. I don't think that's true. It does injustice to a faith that really is intended to be inclusive. The millennials hear the disturbing message and I think they become less inclined to want to get involved in religion. They join the "nones," people who do not choose to join a church.
People who work in religion are well aware of that problem.
Here in Morris, my First Lutheran Church is now going to one service every Sunday year-round, not just in summer. It's a little disconcerting. Is this move a reflection of the decline of the church or the decline of the Morris community? It has to be one of the two. I don't know. I know that when First Lutheran adopted the one-service format for summer, I considered it a slippery slope. There is no more "New Wine" at First. I never liked the title of that group because of the reference to an alcoholic beverage. I don't care if the term is from scripture. Also, consider that in ancient times, alcoholic beverages were sought in many cases as an alternative to unsafe drinking water. This is not relevant today.
I don't think church bells are relevant today. They are total relics of a less-enlightened, more fearful time in the history of civilization.
Maybe sometime I'll discuss offering plates. (George Carlin always wondered if it's OK to "make change" in an offering plate!) 
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A pall has descended on Wetterling resolution

Vince Bugliosi once shook his head, in effect, and commented on how absolutely simple the JFK assassination was. One unbalanced individual pulled off a notorious crime. Bugliosi has held this conclusion all along. Meanwhile he observes the industry that has produced reams of conspiratorial and speculative stuff.
In the case of Jacob Wetterling, it's not so much a conspiracy that sprouted - instead the wheels of law enforcement churned for years, eating up what I presume to be a considerable amount of precious (and limited) investigative resources.
Something like 50,000 leads had to be catalogued. The outrageousness of most of those leads would appear self-evident. Because, we learn that in the end, as with the JFK assassination, it was one weird and dangerous individual who was accountable 100 percent. He was a suspect from early-on. He slithered away to escape charges while Post Office patrons all over Minnesota had to look at that poster with drawings of possible suspects: "We MUST FIND these men." The drawings seemed like generic men. We might bump into dudes like that at McDonald's on any given morning. Did anyone think those drawings would result in anything? I'm sure people got paid well for producing and distributing this material. The caption for one of the men was "bold, authoritative nature." Reminds me of schoolteachers I had.
The FBI was doing interviews many years after the abduction of the child. A friend of mine has a friend who had to deal with this. Most notoriously, a person I knew at St. Cloud State University was made an official "person of interest." This is a perfect example of how the state can swoop in and disturb anyone's life. The state must be vigilant not to do this, or it may have some of its precious power removed.
Dan Rassier might have been a little clumsy in how he dealt with the investigation's glare. Did the state develop suspicions about him because he was an adult living with his parents? Let's observe here that extended-generation families are far more common today than 30 years ago. In that earlier time, a stigma loomed. The trend toward families sticking together is much commented upon. They can share resources. A middle-age child is a tremendous asset for aging parents.
Obvious as this is, many people are still inclined to disapprove, though these voices seem less strident. Seems Rassier had some press clippings in his possession about the Wetterling abduction. Using this as a basis for suspicion is simply overreach or hallucination. One minute, Rassier is living a peaceful and responsible life, and then, because of the actions of a single psychopathic individual, his life changes and becomes unpleasant.
Think if the Wetterling abduction happened in your neighborhood. And let's say you live an unconventional lifestyle like Rassier. Then the perp is eventually identified after so many years pass. Think you'll get an apology?
Page is turned
We were greeted a few days ago by headlines proclaiming that the Wetterling mystery was solved. Our collective jaw dropped. Many of us were prepared to assume that the picture of that smiling boy would hover out there forever, symbol of a mysterious tragedy. Then the headlines leap off the newspaper page at us.
A sense of relief? A part of us reacted that way, most assuredly. It's over. The perp is known and he will now be punished? Except that he won't, because he is not being charged with Jacob's murder. He is going to be put away because of unrelated offenses. He at least will be in possession of his life, which is more than Jacob was allowed.
In the days that have passed, I think our feelings have morphed. Relief or exhilaration has been replaced by depression and despair. The perpetrator was allowed to strike a deal that left him satisfied in some respects. If what he wanted was a feeling of power, he certainly got it. It was just like the power he leveraged vs. Jacob. His power at the end was his power of knowledge. He was the only one with the power of knowledge of what happened to Jacob.
Psychopaths relish power. He used that power to influence prosecutors to strike a deal that would spare him murder charges, even though he committed the most heinous murder imaginable.
The Wetterling family wanted closure. Their wishes weighed in I'm sure. But is this the type of closure we find satisfactory? The stage got set for the criminal to tell his whole ugly story. Then it was on the pages of the Star Tribune, making our stomach turn as we digested the details. Did we really have to know all the details? Was Heinrich thumping his chest, figuratively speaking, as he got to reveal the whole story? Was he deliberately torturing us? He succeeded.
All I needed to know is that Heinrich was responsible for the abduction and murder. Then let's close the book. Were the Wetterlings simply determined to bury Jacob's remains? This might seem understandable. I would disagree, on the basis that once a person is dead, the disposal of the physical remains doesn't matter much if at all. I'm not sure it was worth it, striking the deal and empowering Heinrich because of the knowledge he possessed, just to recover Jacob's remains.
There is something permanently haunting us about the Wetterling episode. We can never gain the kind of closure that could seem truly satisfying. So in the end it was just one psychopathic man, acting on a sudden sick impulse to do the most horrific things, and for the next 27 years he could avoid taking responsibility, never mind he appears to have been a prime suspect from the get-go.
Law enforcement wheels kept turning over those 27 years, as if some answer might emerge that didn't involve Heinrich. The drawings of those two dudes at the Post Office. The extensive interviews. The application of limited law enforcement resources that might have been applied in other ways. And in the end, it was just one guy. One guy who turned our lives upside down on a single fateful evening in St. Joseph MN.
The current news coverage casts a pall, IMHO.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sifting through rubble in Jacob Wetterling affair

Where does one begin, sifting through thoughts as we learn the discovery of Jacob Wetterling's body? After so many years, I think most of us became doubtful this would ever happen. At least his body was resting in peace all these years, buried but with no marker.
Even the mafia has trouble getting rid of bodies. So how did this unsophisticated perpetrator manage to so effectively have the body disposed for so long? It was on someone's farm property. The property owner was completely uncooperative with the media at first. Why not just a general comment about what a relief we all feel knowing the resolution?
The perp would have needed considerable time getting that grave dug, correct? How could he have done this unobserved? Where did he park his car? Wouldn't the ground have looked disturbed in that spot? Oh, here we go with questions again, endless questions. Law enforcement had something like 50,000 tips or leads. Wouldn't it be neat to read through all of them to see the ridiculousness of most?
Just think of the law enforcement time and resources that were eaten up by this episode. That's the second tragedy, added to the primary tragedy of what happened to young Mr. Wetterling. How did the perp end up in that spot to accost those boys? Why did he think a victim was likely to come along while he lurked, a victim conforming exactly to what he "wanted." How could he pull off the whole thing so cleanly? How was the murder executed?
It very nearly became a "perfect crime," pulled off by this forlorn individual who it seems had serious problems stemming in part from a childhood in which he was sexually abused. He shoplifted items that weren't worth shoplifting. He was able to hold a job in Willmar. Someone familiar with him from his childhood said "he needed help." That may well be true but it's hard finding real sympathy. How could such an unsophisticated and troubled person commit this crime and stay free from getting charged over such a huge span of time?
I saw the Wetterling family walk out to the center of the court for the first-ever Minnesota Timberwolves home opener. The fans applauded lustily, though I wondered how this would accomplish anything. The perp was sitting comfortably somewhere, knowing all the facts. Should he be hanged from the highest rafter? I think not. Considering his apparent background that included victimization, let's just make sure he's put away somewhere.
Maybe there was a plea agreement helping bring this case to resolution. The Wetterling family was consulted, I'm sure, on whether an agreement was acceptable. For the sake of our whole ordeal being over, such a thing was deemed practical, I'm sure.
This was no Ted Bundy being targeted in the investigation, it was a person with serious limitations, prompting maybe a little sympathy? I don't know, but I had that impulse tugging at me for a moment or two. Many people are born with sexual urges that make them do criminal things. Should we blame God? How curious our human species is. Maybe there is no God. Maybe us humans are the products of breeding between Earth primates and space aliens. Maybe this explains the mystery that surrounds so much of our nature.
A tragic consequence of the abduction episode is how many innocent people got dragged in, being forced to account for themselves, having to answer questions just on the basis of "maybe they saw something helpful." But years after the incident, people need to be left alone. Simply being accosted by FBI people is traumatic, because you never know what could happen once you start talking to law enforcement.
Innocent people have a right not to be subject to an undue amount of this kind of stress. Why did it happen? For one thing, a child has simply vanished - anyone could be a suspect. A sketch artist who was in the area had to explain himself. A person who showed up shortly after the incident, because he heard about it on his police scanner, had to explain himself.
But Exhibit 'A' of harassment pertains to poor Mr. Dan Rassier, who I think should launch a major lawsuit now. I played in the trumpet section of the St. Cloud State University concert band for a time with Mr. Rassier, back in the disco '70s. He was chair-conscious which is part of the stereotype of trumpet players (i.e. wanting to be "first chair"). His life was disrupted in a major way. His family's property in St. Joseph was by where the abduction happened.
How would you like it if something like this happened in your neighborhood? In every neighborhood in America, there's at least one person who might be deemed a little eccentric or with a checkered background. Let's hoist this person up as a target for suspicions, right? In Rassier's case, apparently he had trouble submitting totally consistent facts re. the notorious day when it happened. Boy, I can sure see why defense attorneys have as a tenet of their specialty "don't say any more than you have to. Stay quiet."
I might have a hard time remembering what I had for supper last night, seriously. Heaven help most of us if we were to be called into a police interrogation room. The distress with Mr. Rassier reached a point where he was named a "person of interest." Really? How come we didn't see huge headlines about this? The press was restrained with many of its members reluctant to even report Mr. Rassier's name. Why? It was because of judgment applied by those media members, who probably felt skeptical. When the current, true perp became the prime suspect, the media had no problem splashing huge headlines. Why? The media applied the judgment that "this really is the guy."
The Star Tribune never reported on the episode here in Morris involving the high school principal being charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct. I personally called in a tip to them, because I still consider myself a dedicated journalist. The Strib didn't act, possibly because their people applied their own judgment. "This case won't fly - it seems absurd."
Of course, media people aren't supposed to apply their own judgment - a message I got over many years at our Sun Tribune, through times when our community was gripped by controversy as with youth sports.
This Sanner fellow of Stearns County law enforcement says bloggers like Joy Baker can "speculate, whereas we can't do that." The quote was part of the John Walsh TV special. Can't speculate, my ass. What happened with Dan Rassier? That was speculation run wild.
You know what? Now that the Wetterling case is over, I think St. Joseph should proclaim a "Dan Rassier Day" complete with a parade and confetti. His exoneration needs to be trumpeted to the world. Was law enforcement, in its persecution of the guy, just trying to show the public it was making progress in this maddening case? So, it was political. What a tangled web we weave.
I think the time is ripe for Hollywood to plan a movie about Joy the Blogger or "Joy the Curious," Joy Baker. The movie would celebrate the transition in our society to online writers a.k.a. bloggers, being a bona fide force for good. Joy Baker sought only the truth. She wouldn't be distracted by the kind of turf considerations, i.e. jurisdictional matters, that really sidetracked law enforcement, literally preventing resolution of the case, one could argue. And yet "bloggers can speculate" as this pathetic Mr. Sanner said. Well, thank goodness they could.
A tremendous movie could be spun from this. My God, we had the "Paynesville cluster" of incidents that were crying out for attention. What of the conduct of Paynesville law enforcement? I have suggested before, and will repeat, that law enforcement there should have sent out a "decoy," a lone child of the right age, to draw out the perp. Law enforcement inexplicably seemed to sit on their hands.
Years rolled by. Finally Joy Baker, having been put at centerstage by John Walsh, shook everything up and put in motion the momentum toward resolution. It was the media! Thank God for the media. Just think of the books that will now be written. Even my blog post today might attract a fair amount of readership.
Law enforcement showed serious shortcomings, perhaps distracted by the need to issue countless seat belt citations, so to raise revenue for the state. I can live with law enforcement as long as they don't blow people's heads off who get pulled over in traffic stops. I salute Colin Kaepernick.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Wherever it was, Tigers beat WCA 29-7

The first game is in the books for the 2016 MACA football Tigers. I wasn't there and I can't even be sure where it was played. Our school calendar said the game was at West Central Area (Barrett), but the Saturday West Central Tribune of Willmar said the game was played "at Big Cat Stadium in Morris."
I was hoping this review post would be routine to write, but seldom do I have that luxury. I risk looking like a fool every time I rely on the Willmar paper for information.
Click on the permalink below to read about the two season opening sweep wins by the MACA volleyball team. This post also covers the MCA Invite in cross country. The post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading - B.W.
Our school calendar tells us that Friday was Rosh Hashannah. The football game appeared to be less than a masterpiece. Our quarterback completed just three passes in six attempts and had two interceptions. The Tigers also lost two fumbles. We handed West Central Area some nice opportunities but it was the Tigers who prevailed, in a one-sided way in fact. I can only assume we had bigger and stronger players in many positions. We won by a 29-7 score. WCA didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile the Tigers took care of business early, putting 20 points on the board in the first quarter. We scored our other nine points in the second quarter. Jacob Zosel was a workhorse ballcarrier for MACA. Jacob bulled forward for 159 yards in 22 carries. Chase Metzger had 27 rushing yards in three carries. Toby Sayles passed for 38 yards. Three Tigers each had one reception: Connor Koebernick (17 yards), Ryan Bowman (eight yards) and Metzger (three yards).
Three different Tigers scored touchdowns in the first quarter. Zosel scored from the six. Dylan Gillespie kicked the point-after. Metzger raced to the end zone from the 15. The PAT try failed. Then Koebernick caught a 17-yard pass from Sayles. Gillespie's toe was true on the conversion kick, so MACA had a convincing 20-0 lead.
Ryan Dietz built up the margin further with a one-yard TD run. Gillespie produced the PAT. Our next two points came on a safety as Tim Travis tackled the WCA punter in the end zone.
West Central Area got its touchdown in big play fashion, as Ross Anderson passed 80 yards to Parker Clavin. Mason Nibbe kicked the point-after.
The running game clearly gave the orange and black the key advantage on this night. Our rushing yardage: 267. And WCA's: 46.
Ross Anderson passed for 107 yards for WCA but he had three interceptions. Clavin had two catches for 86 yards. Jacob Dreschel had eight carries of the football for WCA, for 26 yards.
Metzger had two of our interceptions while Parker Dierks had one. The tackle chart showed Dietz with five solos and five assists. Sayles had two solos and two assists, and Zosel likewise had 2-2 numbers.
I am supplying this coverage "under protest," sort of, because I no longer see football as an appropriate sport for high school boys. If nothing else, football should become a "club sport." No longer would boys in the high school hallways feel disposed to come out for football due to peer pressure.
Football is dangerous and not worth the many risks presented. It is a throwback sport from a time when it was equated with "macho." Nobody cares about that value anymore. It's too bad Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys don't have any options other than cross country, a sport which is not suited to the "big guys."
As for those big guys, we prove nothing by showing we have more big and strong boys than another school. It's just sad to see how the littler guys get pushed around. Surely many boys could find more constructive ways to spend their after-school time than to practice football. Social change takes time.
Will hockey in outstate Minnesota become a club sport? Morris-Benson is having a hard time cutting it now. Maybe we'll have club teams that cover a wide geographic area, and only occasional home games would be played at our Lee Center.
I'm not sure I would have given $1000 for the construction of Lee Center if I had known that Morris was not sustainable for having a team. "MBA" never excited me. Benson is supposed to be a rival, not a partner, eh? How many people don't even know what "MBA" is? I prefer the orange and black colors.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 1, 2016

We have allowed Donald Trump to get too far

I swear that the following is true: Back when Donald Trump was coming at us with his "birtherism," I had a fantasy about how he might be confronted and discredited. I imagined David Gregory doing this. Gregory was host of "Meet the Press." Trump had said with such bluster that he sent investigators to Hawaii and "it was unbelievable" what they were finding. It was unbelievable because there was never any follow-up or report from him. It was racist-inspired bluster. And yet the important people in the media walked so delicately around this. They gave Trump space to shock us with his incisive talk, talk that was allowed to just float out there.
So I had this fantasy of how David Gregory of Meet the Press might confront Trump. Suddenly, as if Gregory just gave up being courteous, he'd look at the man of bluster and say "You are a racist and you reflect the worst of America." It would have been a turning point moment. It might have shaken us from the detached state we were in. We couldn't see the forest for the trees. We were unable to use our tools of analysis to see what was obviously going on.
Maybe if the media had recognized that Trump was a potential major party candidate, the confrontation with him would have emerged. He might have been set on his heels. But the media seemed fazed, deciding to be rather indifferent and maybe even deferential.
My generation was browbeaten about not being racist in the 1970s. We got the message and even got a little weary with the intensity of the message. The tea party and then Trump-ism came along to glorify anti-intellectualism. Until now I thought maybe our society could stay under control, rendering Trump-ism as rather a sideshow. But after yet another demonstration of his media manipulation Wednesday night (8/31) in his supposed immigration clarity speech, I'm starting to lose sleep. We should have known that Trump's Wednesday behavior was not going to bring clarity as promised.
Aren't we all on to this guy now? His trip to Mexico where he stood at a podium as if he truly was a high-ranking public official, merely set up his prime-time speech. And, his prime-time speech was nothing more than a typical screed in front of his usual supporters. He suckered the three major cable TV news networks into broadcasting it live. It was yet another Trump rally with the recognizable spots. He used much of it to attack his opponent Hillary Clinton. Obviously he massaged the facts or even crossed the line into misrepresentation.
Up until now we have rationalized about Trump: He's a celebrity who is accustomed to using the media, in the past for entertainment purposes. We figured maybe he was just having some fun with his foray into politics. It seemed impossible to envision him emerging with his major party nomination.
But who else could have gotten the nomination? It seemed impossible to envision any of the other GOP candidates getting it. They all seemed too extreme or silly. So we end up with Trump who probably won because he's a performance artist who uses politics as his canvas. He has defied all predictions to date. It is definitely possible he could get elected. And then what?
I remember Newt Gingrich being asked if he'd send Federal marshals to arrest judges. "If they don't follow the Constitution," I remember him saying. Perhaps this statement should have gotten more attention than it did. But I don't think we'd need to be truly afraid of Newt Gingrich. He's implanted in the Beltway culture and would never do anything that drastic. I figured it was just some inflamed talk. With Trump I'm genuinely concerned.
I fear this scenario: various judges stand in the way of some drastic things the impetuous Trump might want to do. What if he does in fact direct Federal marshals to arrest judges? And what if, in the wake of that, we learn that certain judges have mysteriously disappeared? This is the type of thing that happened as Hitler began his rise: people began disappearing. Fear then gripped everyone. The dictatorship slid down that slippery slope.
I can imagine Trump dispensing the most intense and disrespectful rhetoric about anyone who stands in his way. Our government in Washington D.C. was designed with lots of checks and balances, and it was designed to work slowly so that a majority faction can't just ram its designs down everyone's throats. Mitt Romney talked about how government needs to be more efficient. Oh, we all like to sing the praises of efficiency, right? But government has to be more measured. What if that quality begins slipping away? What if it loses its basic and time-tested qualities because of a bully type of leader, a true potential Hitler?
Bob Shrum talks about an "exogenous event" that could catapult Trump into the presidency. I'm guessing he's speculating about a major stock market crash or correction, something causing at least a semi-panic. A despot might seem attractive in the eyes of many. Such is what happened in 1930s Germany. Of course it sounds drastic. But there is precedent.
If Trump gets elected and surrounds himself with thugs, who knows what could happen? People didn't protest in Germany because they knew they'd be killed. The Nazis developed into a death cult that gave us the darkest chapter in the history of the world. Think of the price paid to finally get it eradicated.
The U.S. has had a long and blessed history. But history is full of examples of how the mighty can fall.
What if Trump directs the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons? Anyone who balks at carrying out the order will probably be dispatched like those judges I alluded to. What if the U.S. develops an ominous image in the eyes of the rest of the world? The fundamental gentleness of the Obama administration would be nothing but nostalgia that we would pine for. We would miss that very gentle black man who led us through eight years of relative peace and even prosperity, given how we were digging out of the hole of the 2008 financial crisis.
The George W. Bush administration called for a massive bailout of financial institutions, despite how his Republican Party has always railed against government interference in things. But hey, the top Republicans were in a wink-wink relationship with those Wall Street biggies, right? If government has to virtually bail out the private sector, maybe it's a sign the private sector isn't working. Wouldn't that be a natural conclusion? I'm sick of dealing with the private sector and all its deceiving machinations. I'm sick of private insurance companies. Aren't you?
We have allowed Donald Trump to get in a position he never deserved. The media were complicit. The media could have called a spade a spade. Or, called a racist a racist. If only David Gregory could have given us that. At first we'd be shocked. There would be cries from the likes of Fox News for Gregory's head, and for a time he might have pariah-like status. But in the end, he might have woken all of us up.
Gregory has since departed from "Meet the Press." Chuck Todd is host now.
It's time for the cable news channels to throw the Trump surrogates off the air. It's time to get a breath of fresh air of honesty and objectivity. But it might be too late. Let's say a prayer for all of us.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com