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Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

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Where Have All Our Cluster Bombs Gone? - Saturday, October 31, 2015

Late last night I was researching arms sales when I came across an article in 2010 how Barack Obama to authorize record $60bn Saudi arms sale This article and others led to the fact that Saudi Arabia is using cluster bombs, banned but sold by US to Saudi Arabia, to bomb people of Yemen. As I was untangling this research, some of which you can find below, the song “Where have all the flowers gone?” came to my mind. With apologies to Pete Seeger here is version of the song using my research on arms sales and cluster bombs.

Where have all our cluster bombs gone?

Where have all our cluster bombs gone?
Long time banned
Where have all our cluster bombs gone?
Not so long ago

Where have all our cluster bombs gone?
Saudi Arabia purchased them, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the Saudi bombs gone?
Long time banned
Where have all the Saudi bombs gone?
Not so long ago

Where have all the Saudi bombs gone?
Dropped on Yemen everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the dropped bombs gone?
Long time banned
Where have all the dropped bombs gone?
Not so long ago

Where have all the dropped bombs gone?
Killing of Yemenis, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the Yemenis gone?
Long time banned
Where have all the Yemenis gone?
Not so long ago

Where have all the Yemenis gone?
Dead or looking for arms, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the arms gone?
Long time banned
Where have all the arms gone?
Not so long time ago

Where have all the arms gone?
Gone to killing, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the killings gone?
Long time banned
Where have all the killings gone?
Not so long ago

Where have all the killings gone?
To buy more US arms, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Adopted from the Song “Where have all the flowers gone” by PETER SEEGER

Barack Obama to authorize record $60bn Saudi arms sale

Hillary Clinton Oversaw US Arms Deals to Clinton Foundation Donors

US-Coordinated Saudi Bombers Using Banned, US-Made Cluster Bombs In Yemen

US-Coordinated Saudi Bombers Using Banned, US-Made Cluster Bombs: HRW

Tracking the Saudi Arms Deal


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Milwaukee, Top Ten Worst City Lists - Thursday, October 29, 2015

Old and New Milwaukee City Flag
Is this the Worst City Flag?

As I kept on reading news reports of how Milwaukee made this or that top ten worst city list I started to compile ten of the top ten Worst Cities Lists Milwaukee made. I have linked the studies that created each of the top ten worst lists. Most are very reliable sources but judge for yourself. Making this list was not hard. I promised myself to seek out ten top best list the city of Milwaukee made. Now that is hard. Can you help?

1 Milwaukee is the Worst City for Black Americans

2) Milwaukee is the number 10 in the Worst Run Cities in the USA

3) Milwaukee is number seven on the list of top 10 most dangerous cities

4) Milwaukee is number one of the top 10 worst cities to raise black children

5) Milwaukee is number 2 on this list of the most segregated cities in the USA. In the last two US censuses, 2000 and 2010 we were number one.

6) Milwaukee is number 2 on the list of poorest cities in the USA, second only to Detroit.

7) Wisconsin has the highest rate of black male incarceration in the nation and the highest rate is in North Central Milwaukee.

8)Milwaukee is 8th in number of Poor People in High-Poverty and Distressed Neighborhoods

9) Wisconsin’s gap in graduation rates between black and white students is number one in the USA, thanks to Milwaukee.

10) Milwaukee has the worst city flag in the USA according to people who study vexillology, study of flags.


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One Party For All? - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tonight there was another debate among the Republican candidates for President. This is the third or fourth one and was sponsored by MSNBC, a so called ‘liberal’ news station owned by big corporate interest. I did not watch it but choose instead to have the World Series on TV in the background. I realize its entertainment and has little or nothing to do with electing a new President over a year from now but still find it offensive to American democracy. As Noam Chomsky says the quote in the picture “In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies.”

As far as one can tell the ‘business party’ has selected Hillary Clinton as our next president and have the money and influence, like the so called debate tonight to make her president. In the meanwhile entertainment events like the debates tonight distract us, in much more serious and damaging way than sports, from the real issues of our times. The ‘business party’ keeps us busy thinking our ‘vote matters.’ Black Lives Matter but Voting does not in the current state of what we call ‘democracy’.

Today a 1.75 million dollar taxpayer funded, heavily secret, military air balloon got loose and few over 200 miles before finally deflated and collapsed. Today another million dollar project, a park, was announced for downtown Milwaukee to serve tourist and rich who live there. A society that claims to be serving the poor in Milwaukee area continues to invest millions of dollar in a suburb that has few poor. Today the General Assembly of the United Nations voted 191–2 to condemn the commercial, economic and financial embargo against Cuba, the highest number of votes ever for a measure. The two nations who voted against this resolution was the United States and Israel, a county who receives over 6 million dollars a day to keep up its military.

The business parties throw so many issues of greed, racism and injustice at us the temptation is to just give up, go along with the system, cast my vote feeling I am doing something and suffer the consequences.

Watching the World Series tonight I saw once again how a team composing of persons of different races and nationalities can work together for a victory. The One Party for All, the business party, may dominate money and politics but we are still, deep within, free.

See enlarged picture below.


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No Democracy with Inequality - Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A former comedian, with no political experience, was elected President of Guatemala. In Haiti in 2011 a popular singer, Michel Martelly, nicknamed “Sweet Mickey” was elected president. What they both have in common is they both have the support and the money of the United States.

In the Republican Party nomination race for President in the USA the top two contenders are persons without political experience. One is a successful business man and host of a TV reality show and the other a famous surgeon with conservative evangelical principals. However, unlike the comedian and singer, they have no chance of being president. Over a year before the presidential election the “powers that be” in the USA have selected the leading Democratic candidate as our next president, our first woman president. Yet the show must go on so millions of dollars will be spent to elect the person who many who will vote for, while calling her the “lesser of two evils.”

Manipulation of elections with money is in the USA is called ‘free speech’. Manipulation of elections by money in countries like Haiti and Guatemala is called corruption. Whatever you call it, the results are the same, the candidate with the most money wins almost all the time. This information, money rules elections, is something people in the United States do not want to hear.

A group of resisters to the Haitian government refuse to vote until President Martelly resigns and the UN military force, financed by USA and Canada leave the country. They claim there can be no true democracy until this happens.

In the USA many people believe it is an obligation to vote no matter if the choice, in their opinion, is for the lesser of two evils. Sometimes I remind people that evil is still evil though some call it the lesser of two evils.

In some Latin America countries, like Cuba and Venezuela, there has been a large movement by people and government to provide all persons with the basics of life, healthcare, food, shelter and other fundamentals due human beings.

The USA leaders call them “socialist” and with that word mean terrible things, like the word communist means in USA. Militaristic countries where big money rules are favored in Latin American by the US Government.

The irony is that the United States, where politicians talk about supporting the middle class, is experiencing a bigger and bigger gap between the rich and poor. Almost every day the Mayor of Milwaukee talks about how this new luxury condo development, new basketball arena, new park, or new trolley lines, all in downtown, Milwaukee will benefit the whole city. The truth is that all this money spent downtown will only benefit the rich who can only afford to live downtown and the tourist who come to visit. The people who live across the line on North Ave get poor while the rich get richer.

Yet I have hope that someday we will tear down the wall on North Avenue separating the expanding downtown of the rich from the increasing impoverishment of the poor as part of bigger USA movement where money and might is overcome with the power of the people. If I am still alive I will vote again since there can be no true Democracy with growing inequality.


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Housing Hard For Poor - Sunday, October 25, 2015

Evicted in Milwaukee

Today, after Church, I talked with a young homeless man. His story was sad but true. He was living in an apartment in West Allis, part of Milwaukee Metro area, owned by a major slum landlord whose real name he does not even know. The apartment was falling apart, rat and roach infested. When he complained about the conditions there was no action. Finally he called the building and fire inspectors who agreed the building was in terrible shape and served notice on the absentee landlord. The landlord asked for an extension of the notice while he removed this person in the apartment. He was granted the extension and immediately the landlord served this man with an eviction notice. When he complained again to the city the landlord had the local police ticket the two trucks he had been parking at the place legally. The young man used the two trucks to do odd jobs to supplement his disability payment. Right after the trucks were ticketed for trespassing the landlord called the city to have the two trucks towed away. The young man complained that the trucks had been illegally towed away but all he could do was pay a $480 fine to get his trucks back. The money was all he had left on his disability payments so now he finds himself in a homeless shelter near our Church.

Sadly, this story, which I have reason to believe is true, is not so unusual with low income people struggling to survive. This young man was white but he had to agree that if he was a black young man the story would have been worst.

The greater Milwaukee Metro area, that includes West Allis, was once known for its high rate of home ownership. However, in recent years the opposite is true. In 2008 a Housing corporation on North side of Milwaukee noted there had been destabilization of neighborhoods due to the rising rate of absentee landlord’s ownership of property. Since that time it has gotten even higher and in neighborhoods once know for pride in home ownership absentee landlords now control most of the housing. The poor are once again suffering at hands of rich and greedy.

What can this young man do? There is not much but to stay in the homeless shelter until he can build up a little money to rent another one bedroom apartment. Hopefully this time the absentee landlord will not be so nasty and greedy. With housing, as with other factors with poor, it is becoming harder and harder to survive.


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A Day of Little Bits of Being - Saturday, October 24, 2015

Today was a day of a little bits.
A little bit of insulating a storm window;
A little bit sorting out my socks;
A little bit of emailing;
A little bit of mediation;
A little bit of phone calling;
A little bit of clerical work for a mailing;
And too many little bits of eating and watching TV.

Most days are like this, composed of many little bits. A few days something big happens, a big bit. But what I am trying to relearn and deepen again is that it is not doing little bits or big bits that matter. It is how you be in life that matters. You can do lots of doing and never really be. Being is more important than doing. So “let it be”, so be it, “be the most you can be”, be present to the moment, celebrate a higher being. Being trumps doing even on a day of little bits.


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African Americans are not Immigrants - Friday, October 23, 2015

I listened the other day to the US assistant secretary for immigration saying how the USA is a nation of immigrants and still the world leader in supporting refugees and immigrants. She was trying to explain away the difficulty and long delay Syrian refuges will find immigrating to the USA. How Syrian refugees are finding some countries with so many barriers to their immigration is ironic if you know history. Syria, before the the USA and terrorist led conflict to overthrow the Government of Syria, the country welcomed refuges from other war torn countries like Iraq. It was estimated in 2007 that 1.2 million of Syria’s population of 18 million were Iraq refugees.

Traditionally immigrants to the USA, Irish, German, and Polish have received strong resistance from the contemporary USA citizens but have eventually been immigrated into the fabric of society. However, there are two groups of American citizen that were not immigrates who have never been fully accepted into the country. One group were the original habitats of this land, the Native America. They were killed in vast numbers from the day Columbus landed in Central America and the remnants still struggle. The other group is African Americans. They were brought here as slaves and despite emancipation and the great strives of civil rights movement many still live in poverty and daily face racial discrimination.

In fact, when I was listening to the government official talk about the USA being a nation of immigrants I realized that part of problem with African Americans still facing obstacles and racism other groups no longer face is that are Not immigrants.

When Haiti was the first nation where the African natives overthrew the Government of France led by Napoleon they immediate faced rejection and disdain from President Jefferson and the USA government. At one point the USA just overthrew the government of Haiti with military force and took control away from the Haitian people. The USA and Canada still keep control over Haiti. Some say they are paying for their sin of being the first nation in the Americas to win freedom from oppressors.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of black children not being judged by color of their skin. In today’s USA we have moved, since his time, away from this dream and back toward slavery. If African Americans were just immigrants like my Grandfather from Syria, my father with his German heritage and my wife’s family from Italy everything would be okay. But African Americans, despite tracing their roots well before our families immigrated to USA, are not immigrants and suffer rejection, stigma and discrimination and racial injustice.


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Hopelessness Breeds Violence - Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today I was listening to a Public Radio show “Here and Now” and an interview with Britain’s former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). He was asked why young men and women in Britain and USA join terrorist groups like ISIS. He said it was, in his opinion, not so much an economic issue but of young adults feeling they do not fit into the society they live in, be it Saudi Arabia, US or Britain. Then he said something that applies to why young adults often turn to violence. He said that young adults who feel hopeless will often turn to violence, even senseless violence like homicides on our city streets or joining some hate or terrorist groups.

This afternoon I got notice that there will be four prayer vigils tomorrow morning for homicide victims in Milwaukee and five other homicide victims will be remembered. All four address of were the persons were killed was in, what I called the “Wall Off” area of North Central Milwaukee. This area which accounts for the greatest numbers of homicides in Milwaukee, with a record breaking year, is the poorest and most segregated part of town, with poorest public education system, poor absentee housing, and home to the largest group of incarcerated young men. North Central Milwaukee facing a growing impoverishment as low income African American are being pushed into area from downtown and other parts of the city. Now excusing any crime, I believe we can say that the hopelessness of African American males is a cause of violence, black on black.

Without hope what is left? When someone faces hopelessness and a lack of opportunity to better themselves it can breed violence.

Another name for the hopeless environment we are creating in Milwaukee is “racism.” Whatever you call it, hopelessness breeds violence.


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Reject, Dorothy Day, ROTC - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I get ignored by a lot by people in Milwaukee that know me and my justice and peace concerns. I have often been labeled by that is “my issue”. However, outside sources, be it the editors of the local newspaper or editors of the Catholic Worker newspaper in New York City, who do not really know me, at times do not ignore me and my words. Today I heard from the local newspaper that my letter to the editor that I wrote in my posting last night was being published in the paper and the national Catholic Worker newspaper came out today with my article in it about Dorothy Day, co-founder of Catholic Worker and ROTC, military training, on Catholic campuses. They made some minor changes in the article and the editors changed my title but basically kept the article intact. It is good to get a pat on back once and awhile and makes me feel my conscience is not the only one saying these things. Rejects, like me, do get listen to. Here is the article as it was printed in Catholic Worker for October – November.

Study for Peace, Not For War

When Dorothy Day died in 1980, the US military was still in the process of moving away from the Selective Service draft system to the militarization of the education system and installing, therein, bases for recruiting. Also, it was still perfecting the teaching of killing based on reflex action, aka killing without conscience. Today, the military has perfected the militarization of our education system and has quietly installed this reflexive killing into its training programs.

In the April 1948 Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day wrote the following: “Some of us at the Catholic Worker have been going to the colleges and distributing a leaflet against UMT [Universal Military Training]. And most everyone, to whom we gave the leaflet, has expressed acceptance of UMT and has thought it a good thing. There are no antiwar organizations in the colleges these days, at least not in the Catholic colleges. There is a sense of the inevitable, that war is to come, that morality has nothing to do with it, that it is a question of licking Russia before she gets too strong, before she gets the atomic bomb.”

In the above quote if you substitute DMS, Departments of Military Sciences for UMT Universal Military Training and terrorist for Russia you get a view of today’s Catholic universities and colleges, with no antiwar organizations and a sense of the inevitable, endless wars. However, the military training in Catholic colleges and universities is not that of Dorothy Days’ time.

Dorothy Day was one of the early resisters in the struggle to remove military training from Catholic universities and colleges. Many Catholic colleges and universities desired to bestow awards and honorary degrees on Dorothy Day during her lifetime. She respectfully refused such honors from Catholic universities. Among her reasons for not accepting honorary degrees were humility and her strong opposition to US military presence and influence on campuses. To Father Leo McLaughlin SJ of Fordham University she declined, writing: “The existence of Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in the colleges and universities makes it impossible for me to accept.” To the President of Catholic University in April 1971 she wrote: “I have had to refuse seven colleges and universities for the reason that they had ROTC and in one way or another were closely allied to the Federal Government. In many areas they receive research grants, many that have to do with war and defense.” (See Dorothy’s explanation for
accepting the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame in Dorothy Day: Writings from Commonweal, Liturgical Press. Chapter 38).

After the Vietnam War, many colleges and universities, both private and public, refused to have military training on campus. The Department of Defense (DOD) developed a new strategy for the militarization of education. For 4th to 8th grade students the DOD developed Starbase the “youth outreach program for raising the interest in learning and improving the knowledge and skills of our nation’s at risk youth so that we may develop a highly educated and skilled American workforce who can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense.” The program provides students with twenty-five hours of stimulating experiences at National Guard, Navy, Marine, Air Force Reserve, Army and Air Force bases across the nation.

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) was greatly expanded after Vietnam. There are now over 3000 JROTC high school programs for Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force “to foster leadership, patriotism, appreciation, training and recruiting for the US military.” For example, in Chicago there are over forty military academies or JROTC programs in high schools, mostly in areas where low income people of color reside.

The Department of Defense took a different direction in officer military training programs in colleges and universities. During the time of the military draft, 80% of officers were trained at military academies and only 20% in colleges and universities. Now it is reversed. The schools that elected for military training on campus, called host schools, had their programs expanded. Other universities in the region, called partner schools, had recruiting offices on campus but sent their students interested in military scholarships to the host school for classes and training programs.

Even at this low level of participation, universities and colleges, both large and small, from Harvard and Stanford to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, were reluctant to have military recruiting on campus. It was all changed by an act of Congress in 1996.

The Solomon Amendment is a federal law that allows the Secretary of Defense to deny federal grants (including research grants) to institutions of higher education if they prohibit or prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus. The law was challenged by law schools in colleges and universities opposed to the presence of military recruiters on campus. In 2006 the Supreme Court upheld the law on recruiting.

Many Catholic colleges and universities became partner schools and sent recruited students to host schools like Marquette University. For example, the Air Force ROTC program at Marquette hosts students from thirteen colleges and universities. As of 2012 there were twenty-three Catholic Universities and colleges that still had military training on campus. Two Catholic Universities, Marquette University and Notre Dame, host all three DOD departments. This is actually a reduction of Catholic universities hosting military training and might seem like a victory for Dorothy Day and other ROTC resisters, until one looks at the content of the military training. A study of soldiers in World War II, published in 1947, found that only one of four soldiers fired weapons directly at the enemy. There was a natural reluctance to kill another human that the military sought to overcome. After scientific study of the brain, the US military developed a way of firing a weapon that bypasses a person’s conscience. It is called reflex killing or reflexive killing. The best explanation of this training technique is described in a paper presented to the Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics in Washington, DC, January 27–28, 2000 by Captain Pete Kilner, instructor at the US Military Academy.

In a paper titled “Military Leaders’ Obligation to Justify Killing in War” he says: “Training which drills soldiers on how to kill without explaining to them why it is morally permissible for them to do so is harmful to them, yet that is the current norm. Modern combat training conditions soldiers to act reflexively to stimuli—such as fire commands, enemy contact, or the sudden appearance of a “target”—and this maximizes soldiers’ lethality, but it does so by bypassing their moral autonomy. Soldiers are conditioned to act without considering the moral repercussions of their actions; they are enabled to kill without making the conscious decision to do so. In and of itself, such training is appropriate and morally permissible. Battles are won by killing the enemy, so military leaders should strive to produce the most efficient killers.

“The problem, however, is that soldiers who kill reflexively in combat will likely one day reconsider their actions reflectively. If they are unable to justify to themselves the fact that they killed another human being, they will likely—and understandably—suffer enormous guilt. This guilt manifests itself as post-traumatic stress disorder, and it has damaged the lives of thousands of men who performed their duty in combat.”

The military command refuses to morally justify reflexive killing but it is still taught. Due to this method of training, the number of soldiers firing weapons at “targets” has increased from 25% to 98%.

Members of the Catholic Worker were traditionally leaders in the movement to remove DOD military training from Catholic campuses. However, over the years the resistance efforts of Catholic Workers and other war resisters have taken different directions: protests against drones, nuclear bomb facilities and military spending. This is understandable and good. However, I believe, with select schools developing large departments of military sciences and the teaching of reflex killing, Dorothy Day would have directed more of her resistance efforts at this concern. Catholic universities teaching war, violence and killing now promote the endless wars we currently face.

When Dorothy Day heard the Marquette University archives had applied for a grant for the Catholic Worker collection from the Rockefeller Foundation, she informed Bill Miller, her biographer, that if Marquette accepted the grant “no more papers will go to them until we get letters assuring us this will be not be accepted” (recorded in her diary on February 4, 1976). Six days later she reported receiving a “terse letter” from Miller pledging “not to use any Rockefeller funds for archives or his work.”

What would Dorothy Day do with her archives at Marquette if she knew that the University was one of two Catholic Universities in the country to host military training on campus for all three branches of the military and was teaching soldiers reflex killing? Perhaps she would consider disassociating herself from the archives if the libraries received “blood money” from the DOD. But we are just speculating. Sadly not many Catholics would stand with her today in her strong beliefs that Catholic universities should not host military training. Even though it brings in great amounts of money it contributes to militarizing our entire education system.


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Black on Black Crime and Racism? - Sunday, October 18, 2015

An article in the Editorial Section of today’s newspaper pushed me to write this letter to the editor. One line I left out to keep down the word count was “If you grew up in a household without beds, a stove or refrigerator, hungry with less and less opportunities to better oneself, would you believe more policing, more incarceration is the answer.”

Dear Editor,

In Sunday’s October 18th MJS an editorial written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, called “Black lives matter to police”, characterizes the “Black Lives Matter” movement as holding that “police are the greatest threat facing young black men today.” The author goes on to state the real ‘taboo’ problem is “black on black” crime.

I do not believe the “Black Lives Matter” movement ignores “black on black” crime but is dealing with the underlying causes that fuels the devaluing of black lives in our society. The real taboo is, I believe, racism.

Milwaukee, for example, has a high rate of crime, much of it black on black. Without justifying crime, we can look at the causes of this high crime rate. North Central Milwaukee is the most racially segregated part of Milwaukee in the most racially segregated city in the USA. This area has the highest incarceration rate in the State that has the highest incarceration rate of African Americans males in the USA. It is the poorest neighborhood in one of poorest cities in the USA. It has extremely high unemployment, degrading housing and schools and a poor transportation system.

The first step to combat crime in Milwaukee is for all people, including county, city and State officials, to admit that what we are doing, pushing more poor African Americans into a congested area above North Ave., is racism. Only then can we truly say “Black Lives Matter” and do something about it.

Bob Graf


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Can You Hear Us Now! - Saturday, October 17, 2015

“Silence is Consent. Can you
us now?”

This morning we went to a three hour workshop by Dr. Megan McKenna, an internationally known author, theologian, storyteller, and lecturer. By lecturing, stories and using audience participation she talk about hearing and listening, their meaning and differences. She said the Gospels are full of lessons about listening and hearing. In the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River the voice of God says: “This is my child, Listen to him.” Jesus often talks about listening and hearing like after a parable saying “Let those who have ears to hear, hear.” Listening in the Gospel and in Church teaching means practicing what we hear and believe.

Since high school I have been concerned about hearing the Word of God and practicing it. People who hear but do not practice our not really listening. When I hear something good, like the talk this morning, I feel a need to reflect on the words and a need to ask myself “What can I do about it” in my life.

After the talk I asked her privately a question that has been in my mind for a long time. I mentioned the quote by Elie Wiesel, an Holocaust survivor, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Then I asked her when in authority show indifference or just ignore your message what do you do? She said you keep on speaking and presenting the message you believe in. I mentioned that often leads to more marginalizing and stereotyping and she responded that it is why it is important to join with other people on in communicating the same message. I could have gone on but others wanted to talk with her with their concerns. Also that was one of the best answers I have received so far.

My follow up comment would have been how to organize and get people to join together on one issue when there is so many issues of justice and peace being thrown out by the “powers to be”. Every individual has their own justice and peace issue. We stay divided and working together becomes more difficult.
Megan McKenna mentioned, something I already knew, that in the Mediterranean culture of Jesus’ time there was no sense of the individual. Everyone was part of a group and a nation, Jewish, Greek or Roman. When people heard the parable of the Judgement of Nations in Matthew 25 they were not thinking about how they, as an individual, fed the hungry or visit the imprison, but how the nation, state or group did these acts of mercy.

Can you hear us now!


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Show Love Not Indifference - Thursday, October 15, 2015

Badger Guns was found negligent in
civil court in selling the gun that
was used to seriously injure two
Milwaukee police officers.”

Last night I wrote about how Milwaukee made another top ten worst list, Top 10 Worst Cities to Raise Black Children. Tonight I heard that the Milwaukee Metro area is the Number one worst city for Black Americans. I decided to look for other top ten worst cities Milwaukee has made. There are many and soon I will publish the list on this site.

Now if I sound negative about Milwaukee, I am not. It is my love for the city that motivates me to be critical of the city. If you really care for a city, organization or a person you are sadden to see that thing going in the wrong direction. For example, I am fond of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Thus when I see the Milwaukee Society spend millions on a “Resource Center” and now a suburban store that does serve its mission I get upset and try to point out how this is wrong. Some consider this wrong but I consider it an act of love.

One of the quotes that speak to me is by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

So when a city, organization or a person shows indifference, like ignoring a person and/or a message I found it difficult to understand, especially if it is me.

Now being critical of someone or something can be overdone if it is not out of love and is done without compassion. So Milwaukee I love you and that is why I wish you were not atop of all this worst lists. I hope to show you, Milwaukee, love not indifference.


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Wake Up to Racism, Milwaukee - Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Milwaukee made another top 10 list, Top 10 Worst Cities to Raise Black Children. This dishonor can be added to those of being number one on the most racially segregated city in USA list, number 2 in poverty cities, highest rate of black male incarceration, and top city in growing in impoverishment of Hispanics and African Americans and on and on. The Milwaukee press takes note of these high ratings in these worst categories and then moves on. Putting all this dishonors together, in my opinion, makes Milwaukee one of the most racist cities in the USA.

People in Milwaukee does not want to hear about being a racist city although the city rates worst in racial categories than cities in South, traditionally known as being racist. Not really hearing it means “powers to be” in the city can continue pushing forward in taking our great city and making it mean for poor and people of color.

Today on local city I saw a protest against cutbacks in the bus system already one of the worst in the country and horrible on poor minorities without cars. The violence and homicide rate in Milwaukee is soaring yet all city officials can think of is more police and more police cameras.

It really hurts me to see the city make these worst list. As a native I see this little big town with lots of parades and festivals being turned into a city for wealthy, white young and old, while people in poverty, especially African Americans are being pushed into neighborhoods of poverty, crime, poor education, high unemployment, terrible housing and no transportation system.

A private developer just announced it is purchased the main post office downtown which is along the river and turning into high income housing, restaurants and shops to join the already existing or planned developments for rich.

How many top worst list must Milwaukee make before people wake up that city is a racist city and are willing to do something about it? I do not know but hope people in Milwaukee wake up soon.


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Being Three and Free! - Monday, October 12, 2015

Neice and Two Daughters

Over the weekend we were in Massachusetts for Pat’s 50th high school reunion. While out East we went to visit our niece who has two little girls and our nephew who has two small boys. In both cases I discovered that my talent for playing with small children was still there. Actually a few weeks ago, visiting a family friends’ granddaughters, in Western Wisconsin, I rediscovered how I can be a silly Uncle Bob.

Before that encounter it had been a long time since I had a chance to see if I still had the ‘touch’ with young children, especially with ones who really did not know me. Over the years with my grandchildren, with children in Latin America and around the USA and world I met I always had a natural ability to play with young children.

These last three times I was more reflective of why I could relate so well to young children. I discovered almost seventeen years ago with my first grandson that children like to repeat the same things over and over again. One of his first words was ‘more’. I would make up a silly story and he would laugh and say ‘more’. At first I thought he wanted another story but that was not it. ‘More’ for him meant to repeat the same silly story not another one. Young children do not get tired or bored with something that is fun and makes them laugh. ‘More’ means repetition.

Another natural technique is to relate two unrelated things to each other. We were waiting for dinner the other evening when I said how hungry I was. Immediately one of the young boy started sounding like a bear and showing me his teeth. I acted like I was scared on a hungry bear and asked that the food be ready soon before he ate me.

Young children like gestures that make no sense. With my grandchildren I started padding the side of my head with my hand whenever I saw them. They started to greet me in the same way. When I was in Guatemala I saw some young children sitting on the Cathedral steps on Palm Sunday. I hit the side of my head with my hand when I caught their eye and they returned the gesture. I have tried the same gesture with children all over the world with most times getting a return of the same gesture. Pat says they are just imitating me and she is probably right. But I like to think it is a universal sign of children and young at heart.

When I took some teenagers on a youth mission trip to Appalachia, the topic came up of what we would like to be when we grew up. While youth said some sensible things, like a police officer or an engineer, I said I would like to be like a “three year old” when I grew up. I was already an old youth minister.

When I would meet a three year old child I would say how old are you? They would say ‘three’ and I would say that I am ‘free’. Children at three years of age have a hard time distinguishing between ‘three’ and ‘free’. Often they will smile and shake their head ‘no’ since I could not be ‘free’ if they were ‘three’. Of course parents would get it and think how silly I was. I guess I was being silly but when you are ‘three’ you are ‘free’.

Young children, especially before they go to school, have great imaginations and can find joy in the smallest of things. They are looking for happiness and have not learned all the categories, names, limits and expectations that education and environment places on them. There is a universal language of joy with children and children at heart that spans ages, is the same for boys and girls, young and old, black or white, poor or rich. Now I know why Jesus said that “unless you become like one of these little children you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” He was not joking. Talking to adults he might had to explain what he meant. But for children they knew naturally what he said since they were the ‘young children.’ I can be three and free.


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Do You Thing or Lets Work Together - Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Back in the late 70’s I was teaching a religious education to a group of high school youth in my house. Trying to understand the values that guide their lives I asked them what the values that are important to them are. One youth said: “To do you thing but not to hurt anyone.” Other youth in the group agreed with him.

When I was a community organizer I was taught that various groups had to work together on a specific issue to obtain change. The Gospel values my Catholic faith taught me are that we must work together for the ‘common good’.

I find today that “do you thing” implies not only to organizations but to groups. Recently I try to put three groups together on a common cause. One group was working on imprisonment and solitary confinement, one group was working to support families and individuals with mental health illnesses and the third group was working on human rights, especially for Blacks. I proposed working together to eliminate the padded solitary confinement cells for persons with mental illness in the County jail. Two groups ignored my request to work together and the director of the third said yes but has been impossible to reach.

I have had many people tell me that issues I have worked on like ridding Marquette University of Teaching War and Killing, stopping the flow of ‘money belonging to poor’ being sent to suburbs by the local St. Vincent de Paul Society or my concern to eliminate the stigma for persons with mental illnesses is “my thing”.

Some years ago I proposed that groups working on peace and justice issues focus and work together on winnable issue and then move on to another one. This is the way the peace and justice movements were organized in the 60’s and 70’s. Now individuals from one group may participate in another group or there are coalitions of organizations; but when it comes to taking direct action on issue it is the ‘thing’ of one individual or one group.

The ‘powers that be’ like this setup and create more issues for more group or individuals to work on. It was called “Divide and Conquer” and it works well.
I asked a good friend for support in the struggle of poor people to stop the flow of money meant to serve them to the suburbs and she said that was “my issue” and she had heard all about it from me. I said that taking money meant for poor and giving it to people in suburbs was not my thing and if I did not exist tomorrow the injustice would still go on. She did not want to argue with me and politely try to end the conversation.

A lot of groups start off saying “Let’s Work Together” to make a difference but soon gone off during their thing.

The art poster on my kitchen wall is from John August Swanson is of an urban scene and says in large “Let’s Work Together to Make a Difference” and in smaller print “Along we can do so little, Together we can do so much, in Unity there is Strength.” I say Amen brother and sister.


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Peanuts For People in Need and Black Community in Milwaukee - Tuesday, October 06, 2015

In today’s newspaper there was an article on major repairs to Miller Park Stadium, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers. We, taxpayers, are responsible for 70% of major repairs to the stadium which are around 1.4 million this year and expected to be 1.5 million in 2016. One of the products being studied is how to provide heat to the lowest 13 rows of seats. Most of Miller Park’s seats are heated with warm air flowing through ducts hidden below the rows. But tight space and other factors prevent that system from reaching the lowest 13 rows. So a separate air handling units warms those seats. However, these new units are now facing corrosion due the salt from peanut shells. Since banning peanuts at Miller Park is not possible so a new system needs to be created for these 13 rows.

Last Thursday the Milwaukee County Executive presented his budget to the County Board of Supervisors. After his presentation a county supervisor asked the County Executive what his budget would do to help the Milwaukee African American community, the largest such community in Wisconsin? His response was to talk about increased spending for social programs, such as more programming at the House of Correction (an extension of the county jail), child support enforcement, social services and mental health services. One commentator said the County Executive “apparently thinks that most African Americans are criminals, unwed mothers, welfare queens and/or psychotic.” See Cognitive Dissidence blog

Last night the Mayor of Milwaukee held a public hearing on his 1.55 billion budget for city of Milwaukee. People were angry at spending $880, 000 of the 278 million police budget to equip 1,200 beat officers with body cameras; the city spending millions on the new Milwaukee Buck’s arena; the news streetcar trolley serving the elite who can afford to live downtown; the low wage of Milwaukee’s public employees struggling to keep up with the cost of living. Critics of the budget pointed how all this money could be used to reduce recidivism, fight poverty and prevent homelessness. After the hearing the Mayor said: “Overall, I was very, very pleased. There was really little criticism of the budget itself.”

The city, county and State lawmakers decided that the taxpayers should pay 400 million dollars (with interest) on building a new Milwaukee Buck’s basketball arena and entertainment district downtown for the Wall Street Edge Funds owners of the team. Some call it ‘welfare for the rich’.

The newspaper also announced today that a new charter school was being planned for the South Side of Milwaukee. This charter school would use State public education funds, private and Federal government grants, thus further eroding funds from traditional public schools that often are left with the hardest to educate.

I continue to be amazed by the construction of the new street in front of our house. All the money, engineering, labor going into this project is amazing.

Maybe the poor and segregated in Milwaukee, the second poorest city in USA and the most segregated should start eating peanuts on the streets of Milwaukee so the salt from the peanuts will corrode our neighbors and force city to reconstruct these neighborhoods and thus create jobs for citizens in Milwaukee. But maybe corrosion of our neighborhoods from salted peanuts would just be ignored like other issues of housing, employment and good public schools. Then again people in need and the Black community are left with peanuts from the city, county and state, as it is. So why not try.


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Breaking the Silence of Indonesia Genocide - Monday, October 05, 2015

Tonight we went, with friends, to the Milwaukee Film Festival to watch The Look of Silence. It is a documentary about a middle-aged Indonesian man, whose brother was brutally murdered in the 1965 purge of “communists,” as he confronts the men who carried out the killings. The men and family involved in the genocide do not want to talk about that time. They keep saying we should not open this wound. Keeping silence, the government behind the coup in 1995 and still in power, encourages. Out of concern for his safety, the man is not fully identified in the film and is credited only as “anonymous,” as are many of the film’s crew positions.

What was scary about this movie was on some scale this is what our society, who backed the coup in Indonesia, encourages, keeping the silence. When people are reminded of the extreme poverty and segregation in our city people do not want to talk about it. When one points out that the US is the biggest arms dealer in the world, selling arms to all sides, people do not want to hear this.

Breaking the Silence is not something people like and can make one a ‘reject.’
Interesting enough is the fact that the movie has had many shows in Indonesia. After fifty years the silence about this genocide is finally being broken. There is now even a Facebook petition for the US acknowledge its role in the 1965 Indonesian genocide.

This genocide, recognizing it and admitting responsibility is a good example of how history can teach us not to repeat the same mistakes. Sadly, the opposite seems to be true in the USA, ignoring history and repeating mistakes.


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Killing by Drone 0r Hand Gun is Still Killing! - Sunday, October 04, 2015

Last Thursday a gunman opened fire inside a classroom at a rural Oregon community college Thursday, killing nine people before taking his own life. President Obama was angry and made an impassioned plea for gun control after the shootings in Oregon.

A few days later twelve ‘Doctors Without Borders’ staff along with seven patients, including three children, were killed after an apparent U.S. airstrike hit the international charity’s hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. There were no International staff involved. President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the victims and said he will be kept updated on any developments into the investigation of the bombing.

President Obama, whose name is globally synonymous with drone strikes, personally expressed his “profound regret and apologized for an errant USA ‘killer drone’ strike that killed Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, an American and an Italian.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni man, sought an apology for an errant USA drone strike that killed members of his family. President Obama refused to offer an apology.

What do these incidents say about the USA and the President? In my opinion and in the view of many in the world these two incidents say loud and clearly two things. The President wants ‘gun control’ for USA citizens but no control for USA bombing and ‘killer drone’ attacks, currently in seven countries. It also clearly says that USA and Western lives are valuable but Yemeni Afghan and Afghan citizens are not.

I do not want to put all the blame on President Obama since he is doing, perhaps on a larger scale, what every President, Commander in Chief, since Ronald Regan, Republican or Democrat, has done: condemn killing of US citizens but looking the other way in US killing of citizens in Middle East countries and around the world, in non-white cultures. Also each President has promoted more military might, weapons of mass destruction, each year. President Obama and the USA has sold more arms to more countries in his first five years in office than President Bush did in all of his eight year term. The USA is the weapons dealer with the most “blood on their hands” as Pope Francis called it.

I remember the day of the Columbine High killings in Littleton Co. My brother and his family live in this town and I was shocked and grieved as President Clinton expressed. Later I found out that on that same day President Clinton had ordered the largest US bombing in Kosovo, killing countless people, many of them innocent Christians.

The countless USA ‘killer drone’ attacks and bombings have been useful for our enemies in these and other countries. Using our verbiage they are ‘terrorist’ attacks and call for more revenge on USA.

When will ever learn that killing with a handgun or by bombing or done attack is still killing and only leads to more killing?


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No More Solidiarty Jail Cells for Ill - Friday, October 02, 2015

This letter is an attempt to get three organizations dedicated justice for poor, blacks and persons with mental illnesses to work together to eliminate solidarity prison cells for persons with military illnesses.

Dear Coalition for Justice, Milwaukee NAMI, MICAH/ Wisdom,

I write to you as organization devoted to justice, “black lives matter” and human rights for persons with brain illnesses. Please read below and respond.

Ever since a young African American male send me the horrifying video of Natasha Mckenna’s, an African American woman with a brain illness of schizophrenia, being taken from her county solitary confinement isolation jail cell by sheriff deputies, five in biohazard suits, to her death, I have had one dominating thought of “What can I do about it”? (See video at Natasha McKenna’s Last Words ‘You Promised You Wouldn’t Kill Me’ Caught On Horrifying Video or Sheriff Kincaid Releases Natasha McKenna Video )

My deceased son, Peter, and his friend, Loren, both had mental illnesses breakdowns and were locked in the ‘isolation’ solidarity confinement cell maintained by Sheriff Clark in the Milwaukee County Jail An isolation cell for persons with a mental health episode is more torturous than a regular solitary confinement cell. A person is stripped down and spends 24 hours in this padded isolation cell with nothing to do. For my son it left a lasted scar on his mind and fear of returning to this cell was overwhelming. Peter and I were sitting in our backyard one day wondering what happened to his friend, Loren, who the police had arrested after he had a brain illness attack about five days earlier. Loren, after five days in custody was finally able to make a phone call and called me crying, requesting that I bail him out of this torture chamber. It was late Friday, so Saturday morning, after jumping through some hoops the Sheriff had put in the way I was able to bail him out of jail.

After this incident I tried to lobby County Executive’s (Walker) and County Sheriff’s office about these ‘isolation cells’ for person with brain illness breakdowns. I got no way.

Now with the deterioration and the closing of the Mental Health Complex, with hospitals not willing to treat poor persons with brain illness and the increased incarceration of African American males more and more persons living with the stigma of mental illnesses are facing jail and prison time in these cells rather than treatment. Our jails and prisons have become our mental health facilities.

Alone we are voice crying in the wilderness but together we can make a difference and stop this torturous treatment of persons with mental illness.

Your organizations are dedicated to justice for all, especially Black young men, for eliminations of solitary confinement and providing treatment to persons with mental illnesses. Can one of you three groups take the initiative to bring together all three groups, other organizations and individuals into a united front willing to take nonviolent action to stop this injustice to the most vulnerable in our Society? Together we can make a difference and close these padded isolation cells in Milwaukee that only enhance a person’s illness.

Please respond, organize and act together,


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