The States of America

Our country has been divided for a long time. We’ve all lost friendships and family over it. We avoid talking about it with many of those closest to us and wind up feeling depressed for all the unsaid things and awkward moments that might lead us into those topics that divide us.

As of Friday, June 24, 2022, that division is now cemented. We knew it was coming. They made sure we knew it was coming. And with the signatures of six unelected officials, we are no longer The United States of America.

We are now in our individual states – red or blue – sizing each other up. Determining how to proceed with each other going forward. Because for the first time since the Civil War, where you live now means whether you are free or not to make the critical decisions about your body, your health and your life.

The Supreme Court has put us in a war. An actual, real war with our fellow Americans, all based on our zip codes. We got a taste of what the violence may look like back on January 6, 2021. And they made sure to open up the door for more violence by striking down the New York law on carrying concealed weapons. I don’t believe for a minute the timing of these two rulings was a coincidence. And the duplicity of ruling that the NY gun law must be decided on a federal level while the Dobbs decision must put the onus on states to decide how to handle abortions is almost stunning – unless you’ve been paying attention.

The right wing’s ability to twist laws and norms to suit their preferences is worthy of awe. And anger.

But what does all this mean going forward? No one knows because the right doesn’t care about that part. They don’t care how their new bans on abortion are enforced. I mean, they are the party of law and order right? So surely, they will make sure that any pregnant person who becomes un-pregnant is fully investigated. Right? How does that work, exactly?

Hypothetical Case: Mary and her husband, Joe, are really looking forward to starting a family. They are thrilled when they find out a baby is on the way after a missed period and at-home test. Because of the new bans in their state they decide to stay quiet about it until they are sure the pregnancy is viable only telling a trusted family member. But that family member is so happy they decide to just tell one or two others who promise not to say a word. Sadly, a few weeks later Mary suffers a natural miscarriage. She and Joe are devastated. And scared. If Mary goes to her doctor for an examination what will happen? Meanwhile, one of the “friends” picks up on the fact that Mary is no longer pregnant and becomes suspicious. And reports a possible abortion to the police.

Now, what do the police do about this? Seriously – has anyone actually thought about how this would work? Do they scour the house for evidence of a positive pregnancy test? Take over their electronics to look for signs that they may have gone to an out of state clinic or figured out how to abort the baby at home? Raid the doctors office for medical records?

How do you prove a natural miscarriage?

I could come up with hypothetical scenarios all day long. And they all come back to the same thing.

How do you enforce these laws? Texas thinks they have it all figured out by placing bounties on the heads of pregnant people and those who help them seek an abortion. But when they cross state lines can it really hold up?

Here in Minnesota, abortion is still legal. Governor Walz has signed an executive order which commands state agencies not to assist other states’ attempts to seek civil, criminal or professional sanctions against anyone seeking, providing or obtaining legal abortion services in Minnesota.

Additionally, he will decline to honor requests to extradite people accused of committing acts related to abortion that are not criminal in Minnesota.

And what of the lawsuits that will come out of this? It boggles the brain to think about how many people will use the courts to fight for the liberty that has now been taken away. Jewish and Muslim women, in particular, have a great case. It is accepted in their religions to seek abortions under certain circumstances. So, how to square their religious freedom with anti-abortion laws?

The courts will be tied up with this for years. Until the lawsuits make their way back up the ladder to the place where all this chaos was created in the first place. The right-wing, Christian zealots who hold the majority on the Supreme Court. I guess we already know how that will go.

But all is not lost. That’s right – I am not giving up hope. I believe that the majority of Americans are quite angry about this ruling. I believe that same majority is fed up with minority rule over the rest of us. And I believe they will show that displeasure at the ballot box. (And while I’m on the subject, voter suppression laws are not a coincidence either.)

I have been posting this same mantra on social media non-stop since the ruling came out.

Democrats are the only party in America that is NOT trying to take away anyone’s rights. In fact, they are the party that wants to expand civil rights to all Americans.

So, you must vote for them. Every single one, up and down the ballot. Dog catcher – yes. City council member – yes. School board – yes. Mayor, state reps, congress, President. I don’t care if you are a life long Republican, Independent, Green or Libertarian. If you are upset about this ruling you cannot justify voting for any Republican running for any office. At least not until we get this train back on the track and when the “normal” Republicans regain control of their party, if that ever happens.

Seriously. Are you willing to let your daughters and grand daughters grow up in a country that doesn’t see them as full citizens? Do you want them to have fewer rights than you had?

The Women’s Health Protection Act has been passed by the House. Of course it has not passed in the Senate because of the fucking filibuster, Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema. We need just two more seats in the Senate to negate their votes, end the filibuster, and pass this bill into law which will make abortion care the law of the land. We could make that happen by January.

The day on which we all celebrate our freedom from a tyrannical king/government is coming up in a week. July 4th has always been my favorite holiday. But not this year. I will not celebrate on that day.

Instead I will mourn the loss of The United States of America and the freedom that has been stolen from 50% of its population.

I Blame You

That’s right. I blame you.

I blame you for the murder of 19 children and 2 adults in Texas yesterday. I blame you for the murder of 10 black people who were simply grocery shopping in Buffalo last week. I blame you for the countless number of people murdered by gun violence in the United States every day.

You know what else I blame you for? I blame you for the imminent overturning of Roe vs. Wade. I blame you for every state law that is being passed that will keep women from making their own health care decisions.

I blame you for the climate crisis and for the fact that next to nothing is being done in the US to mitigate it.

I blame you for the insurrection on January 6th, 2021. And I blame you for every single voter suppression bill that has been passed since TFG started spreading the big lie.

And yeah, I blame you for him too.

You are responsible for all of these things. Every one of them. You.

I don’t blame Donald Trump. I blame the people who voted for him.

I don’t blame Mitch McConnell. I blame the people who voted for him. I don’t blame the Senate Republicans who obstruct everything. I blame those who voted for them.

I don’t blame Ron DeSantis or Greg Abbott. Or any of the crazy politicians who spew hatred and bigotry on a daily basis. I blame all of you who voted for them.

I wrote in my last post that I’m not going to try to change minds anymore. And I stand by that statement. But that doesn’t mean I won’t call you out for your part in all of these tragedies.

Each one of you who voted for ANY Republican in ANY race for ANY position caused us to be where we are as a country right now.

Some of you tell me you believe there should be background checks before purchasing a gun. You tell me you believe that assault weapons should be banned. You believe loopholes should be closed. But you vote for people who make it easier to not only carry a concealed weapon but easier for any angry 18-year-old to buy a weapon of mass destruction to use in murdering innocent children and adults.

You tell me you’re pro-choice and yet you keep voting for people who will not rest until every single abortion is a crime.

Is the irony of these two issues lost on you? Republicans are willing to criminalize abortions to save fetuses but make it easier and easier for those born children to be murdered with a gun.

The dream of America is dying at the hands of Republicans who you voted for.

Democrats are not blocking gun control bills. Democrats are not taking away women’s rights to control their own bodies. Democrats want to make voting easier, not harder. Democrats believe the science and dire warnings about climate change and want to implement policy to alleviate some of the damage.

This is on you. You voted for these people again and again. And then stood by and watched the carnage unfold, taking none of the responsibility. You do not get a free pass or the right to blame politicians you put into those jobs. You are not patriots. You are not pro-America. You are not pro-choice and you certainly are not pro-life.

I blame you.

One Month In Paradise

It has been over a year and a half since I last posted a blog here. Why so silent? I was processing. I’m still processing. It’s never ending.

I just spent a month in my home state of Georgia specifically to enjoy the always amazing springtime and to see where all the processing of the last few years has gotten me.

But let’s start with Spring.

I have now lived in Minnesota for over six years. I cannot express how happy I am here. I am content. I am comfortable. I even like the weather – except for spring.

Summer, fall and yes, even winter are always enjoyable. But the months of March and April leave a lot to be desired. It’s cold, wet, windy, brown and muddy. Meanwhile, in Georgia, March and April are glorious.

When I first moved to Minnesota I made a pledge that I would spend at least one month each spring in Georgia. But scheduling and a global pandemic thwarted that plan. But, in 2022, it looked like I could finally spend most of April and a bit of May at my second home. Due to the length of the visit and the health of our dog, my spousal equivalent stayed in St. Paul. So, for the first time in years, I bravely boarded an airplane and headed south. Mask mandates were still a thing when I left MSP. There were no apparent crazy people on our flight and we managed to make it to ATL without incident.

As I made my way through the “world’s busiest airport” I immediately noticed a difference. Unlike the MSP airport where every single person was wearing a mask, you could see that in Atlanta folks weren’t nearly as diligent. I gave up counting the “chin diaper” wearers or the visible noses. And non-maskers were everywhere.

I rode the escalator up to the MARTA platform to take the train to the northern suburbs and there, to my delight, was Spring. I looked north toward downtown and was thrilled to see the forest that Atlanta exists in. Beautiful, new, light green leaves were visible. The ride to North Springs is about 50 minutes. Much of it is through tunnels or goes underground. But each time the train burst out into the sunlight the white dogwoods and pink, red and white azaleas were everywhere. Beneath my mask I was grinning from ear to ear.

I don’t care where you live or how beautiful it may be – there is nothing like Georgia in the spring. And I had timed this trip perfectly. It was even Masters week when the azaleas are legally required to be in full bloom. It took me a full week to quit talking to everyone I came in contact with about how beautiful everything was.

Now it was time to visit. I had a long list of people I wanted to spend time with. Phone calls, Zoom, email and Facebook just doesn’t quite take the place of an actual, physical interaction. Looking people in the eyes, seeing body language, hearing the changes in tone. We humans must interact this way. That is why the last two years of social isolation has done so much damage. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time. We were already isolated due to politics. COVID-19 piled on. Some relationships didn’t survive. But I wanted to see which ones still had a chance.

If you know me at all or have followed my writing, you know where I stand politically. I am a proud liberal and I seem to get more liberal with each passing crisis. And I think one of my strongest assets is that I come from a conservative place and used to consider myself a Republican, even though I wasn’t a very good one. So, I know what makes conservatives tick. I know what riles them up. But what I know more than anything else is the deep-rooted cultural need to keep things the same. There is safety in sameness. There is comfort in familiarity. And there is a generational tendency to stick with your tribe, no matter what.

And while I spent the better part of my adulthood trying to squeeze my own square peg into that round hole, I never succeeded.

So now, here I was. In my home state, a purple one if there ever was one. Georgia’s state government may be in the hands of the right-wing but the majority voted in Biden, Warnock and Ossoff, which shows you can’t gerrymander state-wide elections. After all the trials of the Trump years, the insurrection, and the pandemic, I was voluntarily meeting with a long list of individuals who I know I disagree with. I went into this exercise with a few ground rules. 1. I would not initiate any topic of politics but would engage if prompted. 2. I would listen more than I spoke. 3. I would always speak the truth.

While it is tempting to go into very specific details about these interactions, I won’t. There is nothing to be gained by naming names or assigning specific opinions to specific people. It is the opinions themselves that matter, not those who harbor them.

A short list:

  1. Immigration – The Biden Administration is handing out phones to “illegal” immigrants but they are simply throwing them away. (A quick Google search explained this and here is the most surprising thing about it – it was from Fox.) And, apparently, Indians (from India) like to shop at Costco and this is a problem.
  2. High Oil Prices – We need to drill more oil in the US. (I will not bore you with all the reasons we are paying a higher price for gas. Most people with access to the Internet can also easily find out more. But this simplistic view of solving this problem is ridiculous.)
  3. Education – “They are teaching kindergarten age children about being trans.” “CRT – we should only teach reading, writing, math and some history so we don’t repeat it.”
  4. Climate Change – “We can’t just turn on a switch and have electric cars. Poor people can’t afford an $85,000 Tesla.”
  5. President Biden – Various forms of “he has dementia” or “he is insane”. This from people who voted for Trump.
  6. Democrats in general – “What about AOC?” My response, “What about her?”

If I sound glib here there is a reason for that. Every single point that was made was nothing but noise. None of it – None of it is based on real, hard facts. Every single point was based on sound bites, right-wing talking points, propaganda and disinformation.

Every. Single. One. Nonsense. All of it.

During a couple of conversations I asked this simple question, “Why are you a Republican?” It was met with blank stares and this poignant and not to be overlooked response, “Because my family has always been Republican.”

That right there is all anyone needs to know about being conservative, especially in the south, in 2022.

Because it’s always been that way.

People don’t like change for lots of reasons. But the most impactful reason people don’t like change is because they cannot accept that perhaps they are wrong. Or, perhaps, their parents and grandparents were wrong.

They also don’t like change because they are afraid. The right-wing knows this and have been playing on those fears for decades. And it works. Back to the numbered points above:

Immigration – Fear the changes to culture. Fear the dark skin. Fear the crime they will bring. Fear different languages. Fear anyone who does not look or talk like you.

High oil prices – Fear a change to the wonderful convenience of two or more cars in the garage. Fear of not being able to buy whatever vehicle you want, no matter how big, no matter how much gas it guzzles, no matter how much it pollutes the air. We want to be able to drive our Dodge Ram pickup a mile and a half to Starbucks, idle our engines in the drive-thru for 10 minutes for the freedom to purchase a $5 cup of coffee.

Education – “Don’t indoctrinate our kids!” Let me tell you about indoctrination.

I grew up going to public schools in Dekalb County, Georgia in the 60’s & 70’s. I was in college before I was taught that The Civil War was fought over expansion of slavery into the western territories. It was drummed into our little, 8th grade, minds that the entire “War of Northern Aggression” was fought over States Rights. And how ironic that in 2022 we are still fighting over States Rights and how children will be taught about our American history.

Add to this we were also taught “Indians bad. White settlers good.” But, of course, we were. That is indoctrination and apparently, it was successful for many of my classmates.

As for LGBTQ+ issues, this is pretty simple – Democrats want to teach children to be nice and accepting of everyone. Republicans want to teach kids to fear and distrust anyone who is different from them. More fear. Keep them scared because they are easier to control.

Climate Change – This one continues to baffle me. It all comes down to a concerted effort by oil producers to convince people that climate change is a big nothing burger and we just need to keep doing what we’re doing.

This is the one thing everyone should actually be afraid of and yet, people still try to tell me it’s all just normal, cyclical weather.

And finally – Fear The Liberals. Why?

Because we want to live in a free, fair country where every single person’s rights matter? Where we welcome all people? Where you can grow up knowing that you won’t lose your home because someone in your family got sick and couldn’t afford medical care? Where we all are able to afford higher education? Where our natural resources are protected and preserved?

A place where billionaires and corporations pay their fair share in taxes?

Because we want to live in an actual democracy where every single vote is cast and counted? Where gerrymandering and dark money don’t decide elections? Where corruption is held in check?

Fear. Every bit of it is based on fear. Buy guns and as much ammo as you can store because FEAR!

So, overall, how did my month in paradise go?

It made me feel great. Wonderful. Amazing. Every bit of tension, stress and anxiety that I’ve been carrying around since November, 2016 was lifted. I am rejuvenated and more determined than ever to work every single day to make sure that Republicans do not win elections. Any election, anywhere.

The burdens and fears of my friends and family who identify with right-wing ideology are not my burdens and fears. They have the means to find the truth. The truth is not subjective. The truth is not opinion. But some people fear the truth. The truth makes them uncomfortable.

I can’t fix that. I can’t change those minds. That’s not my cross to bear. Either they will eventually figure it out or they won’t.

I don’t have time to waste on it anymore. Our rights are being stripped away from us as I type this. That is not hyperbole.

And you don’t have time to waste either. Get busy. March, rally, protest, organize, find candidates to support and politicians who share your goals for America. Campaign for them. Hold elected officials accountable for their misdeeds or inaction. Don’t leave this to the rest of us. We need all hands on deck!

Find people in your community who share your passion. Get out of your comfort zone and get to work. This is a great place to start:

Donald Trump Thinks My Brother Is a Loser and a Sucker

I’ve written before about my family’s service in the military. I am the proud daughter of Lt. Colonel Albert C. Erbes, who fought in the Pacific during World War II and went on to serve thirty two years in the US Army. One vivid memory of our home growing up was a tray hanging on the wall that said, “Duty, Honor, Country”.

I’ve been thinking about that tray a lot since reading the reports of Trump’s disparaging remarks about the men and women who serve in the military.

And before I go any further I want to say that I know there are those reading this who don’t believe those reports. It’s fake news from people who hate the president and want to see him defeated by Joe Biden. And to that I say – Fox News has even confirmed this along with most other major media outlets. Based on past comments by Trump, especially related to John McCain, I think it isn’t a very far stretch that these stories are true.

And maybe you do believe he said these things but it doesn’t matter to you because… the economy. To that I have two things to say. The stock market is not the economy. And, if all you care about is money than Trump is the right guy for you. But don’t try to convince me that you are a patriot and you care about the men and women who have and are now serving in the military.

My brother, who just celebrated his 78th birthday, is a true American hero. I don’t throw things like that around lightly.

He graduated from West Point in 1965 and went on to serve in Vietnam in 1967-68. By the end of his tour he had been awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars for heroism, Army Commendation for heroism and three Purple Hearts.

Upon his return home he received a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Ohio State. He then made a career change. He attended and graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry at age thirty-three. He truly loved the dental profession and always said that was what he was supposed to do as his life’s work. He retired from his dental practice in his early 70’s.

According to our draft dodging president, who in my estimation is the epitome of a coward, this highly decorated war hero and accomplished man is a loser and a sucker.

About a month ago, my brother shared with me the following essay which tells the story of his time in Vietnam. When I first read it I was aware of the almost detached way he describes the horrors he witnessed and the injuries he endured. I suppose that is typical of people of great courage and character. They tend to downplay their achievements. They tend to be humble.

My brother is the exact opposite of Donald Trump. I couldn’t be more proud of him. With his permission, here is his story, in his words.

VIETNAM   September 2,1967-August 27,1968

I was assigned to the Vietnamese Airborne Division, the Vietnam Army’s most elite unit. Our unit was Advisory Team #162. We were headquartered at Tan Son Nhat Air Force Base in Saigon and I lived in a BOQ in Saigon when not in the field.

September/October 1967

As part of a security force, I accompanied a convoy to Vung Tau on the South China Sea, known as Vietnam’s Rivera.

Later in the month, we flew to Hue/Phu Bai and eventually made our way to the DMZ at Dong Ha.

Basically, we sat on the DMZ doing patrolling and preventing infiltration from the north. Occasionally received some incoming fire from 155mm North Vietnamese artillery from across the DMZ. It was scary to hear them fired and then whistling toward us before exploding nearby.

Came back to Saigon late October and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion as the Assistant Battalion Advisor. The command structure of these 600 men Airborne Battalions was that three American advisors were embedded in each Battalion. The Senior Battalion Advisor was always with the Vietnamese Battalion Commander (BN CO). The Assistant Battalion Advisor, which was my job, accompanied the Battalion Executive Officer (BN XO) and we were almost always situated with the Battalion’s lead elements. The Non-Commissioned Officer (Sergeant) was usually with the rear elements.

I replaced my West Point classmate and 1st Captain Bob Arvin who was killed near Quang Tri City in late October. He was an awesome guy and sad loss.

November 1967

Late November, The NVA laid siege to the town and airfield at Dak To. They had control of the mountains that encircled that area. They had already destroyed several C 130 aircraft on the runway. The 2nd Battalion was deployed to Dak To.

We flew from Saigon to Kon Tum and then convoyed to the Dak To area. In a day or two we had our mission and the entire Battalion made a helicopter assault into a landing zone (LZ) near Hill 1416m. As soon as we came off of our choppers, we came under heavy fire from NVA troops on the mountain.

A few minutes later, I was told over the radio that my boss, the Senior BN Advisor had been wounded by friendly fire from the attacking US Air Force jets that were giving us cover as we disembarked from the choppers. He was med-evacuated and I was now the acting Senior BN Advisor. I was located with the lead company as we advanced toward the hill. After paralleling the hill for a while, the Vietnamese leadership decided to start up the hill. The old French maps were not very good, but I thought we should continue and turn up the ridge line about a 1000m farther. Since this was my first combat operation, I acquiesced to their idea. This turned out to be a huge mistake as we then had to advance up a super steep hill with the enemy controlling the high ground. Upward movement was painfully slow and darkness approached. We were probably half way up when we became stalled on the side of the hill. We used the cover of darkness to stay put. The enemy had a large mortar on top and fired it occasionally on our position.

About 1am a US Air Force C 47 came overhead and asked if I needed his help. I answered that his help would be greatly appreciated. The nickname for this aircraft was Puff The Magic Dragon based on a popular song by Peter Paul & Mary. This plane was designed to assist beleaguered ground troops at night. It was equipped with a 50 caliber Gatling gun and dropped flares to illuminate the battle area.

Sometime in the middle of the night, the enemy on the top fired their mortar at us. The pilot saw the mussel flash and immediately began firing his Gatling gun at the mortar and silenced it for the rest of the night. Under cover of darkness the VC/NVA retreated from the mountain top. The next morning, we moved to the top of the hill with no resistance. We found the mortar that was destroyed by Puff during the night. We found four dead VC wearing Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. To this day I have no idea how they got them.

That morning I got a new boss, Capt. Tyrus Raymond Cobb USMA Class of 1963, to replace the one wounded the afternoon before. As we left the hilltop headed west, we got on some parts of the Ho Chi Minh trail. We were fairly quickly attacked by the rear guard of the unit we had been engaged with the night before. After about 30 minutes, they fled. For the next week we patrolled that mountainous area, but never had any more contact. We headed down the mountains to the town of Dak To. There we had a belated Thanksgiving dinner at a small US garrison. A couple of days later we flew back to Saigon.

December 1967

While in Saigon our battalion was assigned to guard the Presidential Palace and Vietnamese Pentagon. During this time most of our troops were on stand down to rest and see family. For us advisors there was not much to do either. We occasionally drove up to Bien Hoa, a super large US joint military base with a large airstrip. We were usually looking for military equipment that our Vietnamese unit could use. We always had many captured enemy AK 47s that were used to trade to these rear echelon US supply units.

Some evenings we would walk to one of the old French Hotels to have supper. There was always a large bar on the first floor. On several occasions over the year, I would happen to sit down next to an US Air Force pilot. We would often share our war experiences with each other. Once a pilot told me he had been flying over Hanoi that day. He was frustrated at seeing Russian and Chinese cargo ships unloading war materials and not be able to engage them. These ships were not approved targets for fear of bringing either the Soviets or China into the war. Some other time another pilot would report flying over Cambodia and witnessing thousands of enemy soldiers in plain view. They were basically on R&R, knowing US policy did not allow US attacks into Cambodia. This also was frustrating to him as well to me. These NVA or Viet Cong troops could traverse the 30 miles from there to Saigon in two nights. Almost every night they would launch six feet long surface to surface rockets indiscriminately into Saigon killing a few civilians. This was terrorism in 1967-68.

A lonely Christmas came in 1967 with me anticipating the Bob Hope show with Raquel Welsh on the 27th in Saigon. However, we got orders on the 25th to leave on the 27th to head north to Quang Tri City about 20 miles south of the DMZ on the coast.

January 1968

The first 10 days we patrolled the coastal plains in that area never seeing anything. We got complacent at the end of one day’s search. All the leadership gathered in an open space with all of our radios highly visible to discuss something. After a few minutes, I heard a muffled puff and a few seconds later a US made M79 grenade launcher round landed among us wounding several of us, including me. Luckily all of us received only minor flesh wounds. Mine was extremely embarrassing as it was in my butt. Hard to explain to Doctor who removed it. It was so minor that I immediately returned to my unit.

By mid-January, we got orders to head West into the mountains between Quang Tri and Hue that paralleled the coast line approximately 2-3 miles inland. After a few days, I told my immediate boss, Capt. Cobb, that there had to be thousands of the enemy around somewhere because of all the human feces visible everywhere we went. We patrolled in the mountains for approximately another 10 days with no enemy contact. We received orders to head back down to the coastal plains. As we approached the west side of the last mountain ridge line, we received very minimal AK 47 fire from our front. The enemy scouts fled as we got closer.

Much to our surprise, we found a huge field hospital dug into the west side of this ridge line.

There were four caves consisting of very large operating rooms. They were outfitted with an abundance of medical supplies, instruments and operating tables. An adjacent cave was filled with weapons and large amounts of ammunition. A water buffalo left behind became our dinner! The next morning, we blew up everything and came back down that mountain to the coastal plain. We were not smart enough to realize all the unseen enemy forces and the field hospital were in preparation for the forthcoming Tet Offensive.

By then it was near the end of January. We set up camp about 10 miles north of Hue.


Early on the morning of January 31st, the Vietnamese 1st Division headquartered in the three hundred year old citadel of Hue radioed us that they were being over run by an overwhelming NVA force and could we come to help. That was at 4am.

We had transport trucks so estimated it would take us several hours to get organized, feed, and load 600 troops with all our equipment and depart after dawn. It was only a 12 mile journey. However, the first bridge on Vietnam Highway 1 was blown up so we had to abandon our vehicles and head south on foot. Moving 600 men on foot crossing several more streams took to about 4pm. As we approached the stone fortress from the north, we came under intense 50 caliber machine-gun fire from the top of the 16 feet high parapet wall. We slowly moved farther south closer to the walled city.

Fortunately, there was a huge cemetery with large headstones and mausoleums that provided us with cover just northeast of the wall. We were pinned down and could not move. After an hour or so, a helicopter gun ship pilot from the US 1st Cavalry Division came up on my radio asking if we needed his help. I, of course, said yes! I told him our predicament and where the machine-gun was located. He radioed he would reconnoiter the situation and then circle back to take it out. However, on his fly by he was shot down.

Once darkness came, we slowly began moving toward the wall. As an advisor, I was usually assigned to accompany the Vietnamese Battalion Executive Officer (second ranking officer in the battalion). Sometime after midnight as we were trying to sweep around the enemy’s right flank my Vietnamese counterpart was killed by an AK47 round thru his helmet. We fought the rest of the night and after daybreak were able to get into the NE gate. This gate was secured on the inside by the beleaguered Vietnamese 1st Division. This was the morning of February 1st. For almost the next two weeks we were engaged in urban warfare. We had no training in this type of fighting as all of our operations had been in the jungles or rice paddies.

During the next twelve days, we slowly and painstakingly proceeded house by house and block by block. During this battle for Hue, the well-armed 7500 NVA troops occupied all the roof tops and wall tops. Therefore, we were at a tremendous disadvantage.

Our 600 man Battalion suffered tremendous casualties. By the time we were replaced by the US Marines on February 12th, my battalion was down to 90 soldiers. While inside the walled citadel, I had no idea the US Marines had been fighting so courageously for the same entire time on the other side of the Perfume River. After the US Marines had destroyed the NVA and secured that area, Walter Cronkite was there broadcasting that he did not see how this war could be won.  This was the rainy season so we never saw the sun during that two week period. It was chilly at night (mid 40’s). Also, we had almost no food for the first week. I ate many bananas, coconuts and crackers the civilians had left behind in their homes. Because of the historical and cultural significance of the citadel, we were not allowed to use air or artillery support. During our time inside the citadel, we sadly saw many civilians (approximately 15-20) who were executed with their hands tied behind their backs. We were evacuated by US Navy LST barrages via the Perfume River to the Phu Bai airport from where we eventually flew back to Saigon.

March 1968

About mid-March we deployed west of Saigon to protect Saigon from another Tet like attack from the NVA Cambodian sanctuary. By this time during the war the NVA was heavily deployed in the  Parrot’s Beak area of Cambodia which reached far into South Vietnam. It was only 30 miles from the Cambodian border to Saigon. We were engaged by the NVA almost daily. I was slightly wounded on April 6th by an enemy mortar round that landed so close that it knocked off my helmet and cut my head above my ear. It was so minor that I returned to my unit the next day.

On April 12th, we were engaged with a large NVA unit of at least two companies. This entire area was made up of rice paddies. Very tediously and dangerously as we moved from rice paddy to rice paddy. The enemy was usually dug into each corner of a rice paddy dike with machine guns that had great fields of fire as we tried to cross them.

In this type of combat, my job was to bring in US helicopter gunships armed with 30 mm rockets and 50 caliber machine guns. I would talk to the pilot on my radio and with the use of colored smoke grenades guide him to the enemy targets. In this type of combat operations, we were usually 25-50 meters from the enemy. After the gunships eliminated the machine guns, we could cross the rice paddy.

As the day progressed, we crossed numerous rice paddies. The NVA troops were filling the air with many B40 rifle propelled grenades whose projectile was about one foot long. This was an awesome weapon that could be used effectively against helicopters or advancing ground troops like us.

After crossing one of the rice paddies, I radioed my boss, probably 100 meters behind me, to alert him of the numerous B40’s flying over my head. Our lead element consisting of me, my radio operator (RTO), Vietnamese Battalion Executive officer, his RTO and a US Army artillery sergeant forward observer, who carried his own radio, eventually hunkered down behind a nice rice paddy dike for cover and to catch our breath after one of many such crossings. As we were trying to reconnoiter the situation to our front, all of a sudden my counterpart (Bn Executive Officer) threw out a red smoke grenade. I asked him why he did that. His response was his boss (Bn CO) was up in a helicopter flying near us and wanted to know where we were. My immediate response was the rest of the world now knows where we are too. Within seconds a B40 round hit the top of our rice paddy dike throwing shrapnel all over us. I was hit pretty badly, having a large gaping wound near my right knee. My back hurt really badly so I had the US Forward Observer next to me examine it. It felt like my back was gone, but he assured me just multiple lacerations and not bleeding too badly. My knee was bleeding profusely so I concentrated on applying maximum pressure to that site. In times like this your mind races back to recent soldiers you have seen with terrible wounds. One was a solider whose back was a gaping hole from a B40 direct hit.  Since my back felt like that, I felt better after my companion’s assessment. Also, a week or two before, my counterpart at that time was hit by an AK47 round in his thigh and bled to death on the med-evac helicopter. So, you can see why I was worried about my wounds.

Within 10 minutes, a corpsman came to my aid applying first aide, a morphine shot and got me on a stretcher for removal to a med-evac helicopter. I was taken to a US Army Field Hospital in the town of Cu Chi. I remember in the triage area being asked my Mom’s maiden name. I answered Norton. Years later, I thought that was very strange as they would have had no idea the correct answer. They moved me to the OR to debride my multiple wounds. The surgeon left them open to drain for a week and put me on massive penicillin. During that week, I had a surprise visit from Bud Fish a close West Point classmate. He brought me a six pack of beer. It was great to see him. Years later I asked him how he knew I was wounded and in that hospital. It turned out the American FO beside me worked for him and had told him my name.  After a week, I went back into OR for all the wounds to be closed with metal sutures. That night the hospital was mortared. Instinct caused me to dive from my bed onto the concrete floor under the adjacent bed.

The impact broke two of the wire sutures in my right knee and hurt like hell. The next day the surgeon said no way to fix; I would just have a larger scar. He was right.

After two weeks the sutures were removed, and I was transferred to a convalescent hospital at Cham Ranh Bay. This was on the beautiful South China Sea. This area was so secure that at some point President Johnson made a visit there. I spent four weeks there.

June 1968

I returned to duty approximately mid-June. I was assigned to our detachment headquarters at Tan Son Nhat Air Force Base in Saigon after 8+ months in the field. I became the Detachment S-1. This is basically the personnel officer for the unit. I again replaced another West Point classmate, John Alger, whose tour was over and returning to the states. For the next 2+ months, I lived and worked in Saigon.

As the personnel officer, one of my functions was to pay all of the members of the detachment on pay day, the last day of every month. This meant I had to travel all over the country to find and pay our guys in the field. I had to hitchhike on aircraft to reach the troops in the northern provinces and then helicopter to their exact location. I do remember on July 31st helicoptering into some remote places taking mail and pay. After all my combat history, I thought this will be something to be shot down taking them money they can’t spend in the jungle. Luckily for me this never happened.

These two months was really an uneventful time as I was just counting the days when I would return home to family. Sherri had been three months old when I left and fifteen months old upon my return.  

Personal Observations

 By the end of my year in combat, I realized this was an unwinnable war for many reasons. We obviously had superior firepower. This enemy fought like our revolutionary army did against the much stronger British forces. This enemy only fought when they knew they had the advantage and an exit plan. They only moved at night which they owned. They were able to resupply without planes and helicopters. We had to be resupplied by helicopter every evening with food and munitions. In the many combat encounters I had with the enemy, they never ran out of ammunition. They were also methodical about removing their dead and wounded from the battle field. This created a psychological advantage for them. We knew exactly our KIAs and WIAs and would find none or minimum on their side. This tactic lead US forces to have to estimate enemy KIA’s which was usually highly exaggerated.

My unit was welled trained and armed and I never worried about my safety.  On many a quiet night, they would tell me they had been fighting since 1940 when the Japanese invaded. They were tired and happy the US wanted to take over the bulk of the war. On occasion, they would hold back and willingly let the adjacent US forces take the lead.

The government did not control the countryside so it was clear to peasants that they had to help the VC or NVA to survive. There was also much corruption in the government. They wanted to be free, but not sure they had the passion anymore for it. As I mentioned above, our policy not to destroy the ships in Hai Phong harbor or the troops in Cambodia was not how you fight a war to win. Our offensive plans were called search and destroy missions. We would search and only find them on their terms. This usually was some kind of ambush where they had the element of surprise. As I said earlier, they always knew where we were and only fought on their terms. Even in the large US bases, they had plenty of spies who always passed on information of troop comings and goings.

When I got home, I realized I did not want to go back and fight this same type of unwinnable war. Which as an Infantry Captain, I most certainly would have to do. After three Purple Hearts, I was not sure how much luck I had left. As it turned out, 26 of my West Point classmates were killed in action and I have no idea the number wounded. Now many others have died younger than normal due to Agent Orange exposure.

We were taught success meant winning the hearts and minds of the populace. However even the best intentions, were eventually worn down. It was impossible to distinguish the good Vietnamese from the bad ones. You would see friends killed or maimed by roadside bombs or the many creative booby traps. Hand grenades were thrown into passing jeeps. Except for those Vietnamese personally known, most Americans began to treat all other Vietnamese with disdain.

From an Army career standpoint this was an awesome assignment, as I was often engaged in frequent combat. During the Tet offensive, I just happened to be 10 miles from Hue when it began. It took almost a month of intense combat before victory. I was in the Citadel for almost two weeks before my unit was almost completely decimated. Dak To was also a significant 1-2 week battle. After Tet, the 30 miles between Saigon and Cambodia became a constant battleground as the NVA had large units in that area. I was lucky enough to survive receiving numerous awards for heroism. These included the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars for heroism, Army Commendation for heroism and three Purple Hearts.

As I have told many, I was no braver than anyone else. I had a job to do and always tried to do it to the best of my ability. I was probably as best trained for this job as one could be; this training and luck saved my life.

Sad war!

My memories,

Don Erbes

What Can I Do?

The morning after the 2016 election I felt as if someone had died.  It wasn’t just me.  There were millions of Americans who felt exactly like I did.  I kept asking myself how something like this could have happened.

But deep down I knew what had happened.  We had grown complacent.  We let other people worry about the state of our republic.  We weren’t involved in the process, other than voting, and many Americans didn’t even bother with that.  We were able to get away with our complacency up until 2016.  But then it totally bit us in the ass.

Women, especially, felt the pain.  Hillary Clinton, for all of her perceived faults, was the most qualified person to ever seek the office of President of the United States.  Yet, the orange buffoon had managed to squeak out an electoral collage win.

I had never attended a protest/demonstration in my life.  But I marched with 100,000 other Minnesotans on January 21, 2017 at The Women’s March.  It was the largest single day protest in US history.  That wasn’t enough for me.  At the age of 60 I became an activist.

Over the last four years of the trump administration I have involved myself in many ways to make a difference, to have an impact and to defeat the right-wing agenda.  I have learned a lot.

I’ve been asked many times “What can I do?”  Well, now I’m going to tell you.

PSA – If you are still supporting trump and other Republican candidates, you can stop reading now.  Move along, nothing to see here.

Ok, for the rest of you, I am going to give you a laundry list of things you can do to help elect Democrats up and down the ticket.  The majority of these are pretty easy and you don’t even have to leave your house.  Can you use Google?  Perfect, you can make a difference.

The first thing on the list – donate.  For better or for worse, all campaigns need money to be viable.  Whether you can donate $10 or $100, just do it.  I do monthly donations of just $10 to several campaigns.  We need to flip the US Senate, so start donating to those Democrats who are attempting to unseat trump enablers.

Amy McGrath is running against Mitch McConnell.  He needs to go.  Seriously, I can’t think of any other single politician who has done more damage to our democracy.

Lindsey Graham couldn’t suck up more to trump if he tried.  Help out Jaime Harrison to get Graham out of office.

There are so many others.  Maine, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina.  Even Tina Smith’s Senate seat here in Minnesota isn’t a shoo-in.  I donate to her campaign and help out with text banking.  You can help her too:

Now, let’s start at the top of the ticket:

Go to  to sign up to volunteer for the Biden/Harris campaign.  They have a list of ways you can help.  Sure you can donate.  Do.  But you can phone bank from home, text bank from home, attend events online, order yard signs, bumper stickers and lots of other merchandise.  Visibility is key.  Let folks see that you support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

I used to think that these actions didn’t matter.  But they do.  You can put a sign in your yard.  It’s about the simplest thing you can do.

Personally, I am hooked on text banking.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s really fun.

Calling voters or sending texts might not be your thing.  How about writing letters?  Vote Forward is a fun way to reach out to voters in targeted areas.  You are given templates, addresses, etc.  Check them out here:

Ever heard of Indivisible?  Find them here:  A national organization, Indivisible works through local chapters to get a lot done.  I began working with the local Indivisible St. Paul chapter last winter.  Since then, I’ve become part of the core leadership team and am involved in so many initiatives I can’t quite keep them all straight.  We work locally, regionally, state wide and nation wide to get Democrats elected up and down the ticket.  St. Paul is a safely Democratic community.  But one of our goals is to flip the Minnesota Senate from red to blue.  So we will be “adopting” Democratic candidates in flippable districts.  We’ll be fund raising and volunteering for these candidates to help get the Minnesota state senate back in the hands of Democrats.

There is an Indivisible chapter near you.  You can find them at the link above.

Are you worried about the election?  Yeah, me too.  Especially as it pertains to voter suppression, voting by mail and interference from a number of bad actors.  Your local election offices need help.  They need people to work at the polls during early voting and on November 3rd.  Reach out to your county election office (Google is your friend) and find out how you can apply to be an election worker.

Never underestimate the power of social media.  It might be the one thing Trump truly understands.  Follow your favorite candidates on all the social media sites you use.  Like, share and retweet their posts.  Share information about their policies and campaign events.  Like  I said above, visibility is key.

And it goes without saying – VOTE.  If you vote by mail, take every precaution to make sure your ballot is delivered on time and counted.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Make your plan to vote now.  It is too important to be left as an afterthought.  Talk to your family, friends and anyone who will listen about voting.  Be a pest.  It’s ok.  Desperate times and all that.  Trump has stated unequivocally that he wants to slow down the mail to keep people from voting.

This is no ordinary election year.  Donald Trump and all of his enablers need to be beaten and beaten well.  We need all hands on deck.  Every single one of us needs to actively work to get rid of trump and the harmful Republican policies that are ripping our democracy apart.

If you aren’t sure how to get started or are uncomfortable with just jumping into any of these activities reach out to me.  I’m more than happy to help get you started.

We can’t wake up on November 4th asking ourselves “what could I have done?”

Let’s get to work.


It’s Not About Politics

It’s about right versus wrong.

It’s about common decency.

It’s about truth versus lies.

It’s about honoring our system of government and how the founders intended it to work.

It’s about checks and balances.

It’s about empathy and compassion.

It’s about serving all of the people, not just a minority subset of them.

It’s about being a humble public servant.

It’s about the rule of law.

It’s about the common good.

The shattered families and friendships are not about political differences.  It was never about that.  Political differences are as old as the country itself.

This isn’t about policy differences.  We’ve always had different ways of looking at the same issue.

This is deeper and more sinister.  A large portion of the United States population has decided to hitch their wagon to a person who has done absolutely nothing to deserve their support or their vote.  A person who drives wedges between us rather than doing the job of the President, which is to unite us.  A person who has no desire to govern the country but only to wallow in the adulation of people wrapped up in the cult of his personality.

The MAGA hat wearers support him because of his lies.  Because of his crassness.  Because of his lack of intellect.  They love it when he tweets and retweets all the things they think but, up until now, didn’t feel comfortable saying out loud.  I don’t care about them.  Not one bit.  They are the minority of the minority.  Their glorification of the con artist isn’t surprising.  It’s just professional wrestling to them.  It’s entertainment, not politics.  They don’t care one iota about the workings of their government.  They just want to be part of the show.

But what of the rest of them?  The rest of his supporters.  The ones who don’t wear the hat or wave the campaign flag?  The ones who don’t treat him like a rock star?

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how otherwise good, moral and yes, intelligent people can continue to support him.  I lay awake thinking about it.  How can they not see what I see?  A small-minded man totally driven by his insecurities.  He ran for President for the attention and publicity.  He never thought he’d actually win.  But now that he has that microphone and people all over the world are watching his every move, he is not about to give it up easily.

An amoral person will not think twice about lying, cheating, and stealing to get what he wants.  He’s been doing it his whole life.  He doesn’t hide it.  He does it out in the open because he knows it throws us off.

And other amoral people will cheer him on.  Because it validates them.

But what about those people we thought we knew?  What of them?  What are we to think when they tell us they still support him?  What does that tell us about these people we thought we knew?

I don’t have the answer to that.  I spend hours each day worrying over it.  Trying to figure it out.  Trying to see what they see.  But it’s impossible.

This isn’t about politics.  It’s about character and goodness and generosity and empathy for each and every human being.  It’s about holding on to what is great about America, if you can even manage to find it anymore.

Why are the good people in that minority of Americans willing to trash everything?  Why do they want to tear it all down?  Why do they think that’s necessary?

This election is the most critical in American history.  You can argue about others, but this one right here will decide if the great American experiment can be revived.  It’s currently on a ventilator with little chance of recovery if this administration is allowed to continue.  You can kiss everything that we thought was great about America goodbye.  Unhook it from life support and bury it.

And while the majority of us will mourn it’s passing the minority of the minority will cheer, yell, and pound their chests because they got exactly what they wanted.  More of the show, more of the entertainment.

And the others?  The ones we thought we knew?  What will they think?  Will they quietly celebrate the passing of America?  Or will they finally realize that they were the ones who unplugged the life support?

Two men are vying to be our next President.  One lies as easily as he breathes.  One cannot manage to show an ounce of empathy or compassion.  One cannot put his own needs and desires aside for the greater good of the American people.  One is tearing apart our institutions on a daily basis.  One spends every waking moment trying to game the system.  One enjoys dividing us.

The other is the exact opposite.

This is not about politics.  And if you think it is, you would be wrong.

A Tale of Two Cities

What happened to George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, Minnesota would not have happened in Atlanta, Georgia.

I know this like I know I’m a 63 year old, white woman who has lived in both places.  Technically, I live in St. Paul, but I can see Minneapolis from my front yard and the Twin Cities are called that for a reason.

Georgia has been in the news a lot lately and not in a good way.  I don’t want this blog to devolve into a critique of Brian Kemp, so I’ll assume you’ve been paying attention to all the news out of Georgia, including the murder of Ahmud Aubrey.

What Georgia doesn’t get enough credit for, however, are all the right things that happened as a result of desegregation in the 60’s.  My family moved to Atlanta in 1966 right smack dab in the middle of the civil rights movement.  We rented a house in SW Atlanta off of Cascade Road.  White flight was just getting started in that neighborhood and more and more black families were moving into the middle-class homes on beautiful, tree lined streets.

Our neighbors included both Hank Aaron and Martin Luther King, Jr.  My playmates included the daughters of Atlanta Braves left fielder Mack Jones.  For the first time in my short life I went to school with black children.  And even at the young age of nine, I recognized that all of this was somehow new and different.

I was invited to a slumber party.  I overheard my mother on the phone and later talking to my dad about it.  The mother hosting the party called my mother to let her know that a black girl from my class, Marilyn, would be attending.  She just wanted my parents to know in case they had an issue with it.  Apparently, another girl’s parents wouldn’t let her come when they found out Marilyn was going to be there.  My parents, thankfully, didn’t see an issue with it at all and let me go.  It was my first sleepover and I had a blast.  Marilyn did too.  We became good friends over that year that we lived in SW Atlanta.

My parents were smart people.  And they didn’t tolerate bad behavior.  Over and over throughout my childhood I recall a simple but clear message.  We are not better or worse than anyone else.  Treat all people with kindness and respect.  Do not tolerate bullies or racists.  We are all equal.  And never, ever, ever let us catch you using the “n” word.  Ever.

I lived in and around Atlanta until 2016 when I packed up and relocated to the progressive bastion of the Twin Cities, Minnesota.  The differences between the two regions are too many to name.

But one of the first and the most stark things I noticed was the inequities between white people and people of color.  African Americans in the Twin Cities are in no way equal to their white counterparts.  In it’s defense, Minnesota is a pretty white state.  It was settled by Scandinavians and it shows up everywhere.

I came from one of the most diverse cities in the country.  I came from a place where black people had fought hard to advance in every way.  I came from a place where African Americans held the highest positions in city government and could control the narrative as it pertains to social and criminal justice.

African Americans in Atlanta live in nice neighborhoods, drive nice cars, attend good schools and are able to get good jobs.  The middle class is full of every shade of skin color.  It is so prevalent that you take it for granted.

Until you come to the Twin Cities.  Where people of color still live in the poorest neighborhoods and whose prospects of scraping their way into the middle class are pretty dim.

And where city governments and police departments are still run, for the most part, by white people.  Melvin Carter, Mayor of St. Paul, being a welcome and somewhat recent exception to that rule.

What Atlanta has shown us is that once people of color are in positions of power and influence, they are able to make their way out of poverty and oppression.  Atlanta isn’t perfect.  Racism is alive and well throughout the region.  There is still wide spread poverty among the black communities.  But what Atlanta seems to have that the Twin Cities doesn’t is hope.

A young, poor, black man in Atlanta can look to the police officers and political leaders of that city, the upwardly mobile friends and relatives who were able to get an education and a good job and he can see a way out.  While getting stopped by the cops would still be a scary experience, he is more than likely going to be stopped by another black man who might not be as eager to show him who has the power.

That same black man in Minneapolis or St. Paul does not have that same hope.  When he looks around he sees very few opportunities for advancement.  And very few role models to emulate.  And when he has contact with law enforcement he knows that his chances of equitable justice are sketchy at best.

I don’t know what George Floyd did or didn’t do on Monday that led to the police being called to the scene.  But I do know this – if he had been in Atlanta, he’d still be alive.

On Being Expendable

We sure have fallen fast.  We Americans really are the world’s most impatient people.

We’ve all been self-isolating for what, 10 days?  It’s all a blur but here at my house we have been officially home-bound for exactly one week.  And I’ll be honest with you, it really hasn’t been that awful.  We’re retired so staying home most of the day is our lifestyle.

So, just for the sake of argument let’s say it’s been 10 days.  For 10 days many Americans have been working from home and schools have been closed.  We’re still buying groceries and beer.  We’re still mailing stuff.  We’re still ordering take-out.  And we’re all keeping Jeff Bezos at the top of the food chain.

I am not at all downplaying the extreme effect that Covid 19 is having on the economy.  It has actually kept me awake at night thinking of all the people I know who own small businesses or work for small businesses who are losing their livelihood.  It’s damn scary.  It will be extremely difficult to come back from this the longer it goes on.

But at 10 days in – 10 fucking days – I have found out that anyone over the age of 60 is apparently expendable.  And not only are we expendable but we should happily put our lives on the line as a patriotic gesture to the United States economy.

I am 63.  My spousal equivalent is 70.  We are both ridiculously healthy.  And active.  In June we rode our Yamaha FJR motorcycle almost 11,000 miles in 11 days across America in an event called the Iron Butt Rally.  We usually rode 20 hours a day and slept for 4.  We went through massive downpours (one that almost killed us), ice, snow, and oppressive heat.  We do this for fun.  Try that.  Most people I know can’t handle an 8 hour car trip with air-conditioning and a DVD player for entertainment.

But we are expendable.  After 10 fucking days of self isolation and the shutdown of only SOME of our businesses.  All of the larger businesses are still going.  I know more people who are doing their jobs from home than people who are out of work.  But the people who are out of work are the ones who can least afford it.  Waitstaff, bartenders, cooks, retail workers, fitness instructors, etc.  They are the ones needing a stimulus package.

So, apparently, if I were a true patriot, I’d happily agree to have all aspects of life opened up, let the virus have its way with us and if I’m one of the ones sacrificed then I’ll be remembered as a hero.  An unselfish warrior in the battle of Covid 19.  I am sure there will be monuments built in honor of our sacrifice some day.

This is where we are?  The United States of America can’t do any better than this?  If the Dow Jones is tumbling, let’s sacrifice some senior citizens?

I have known for a very long time that selfishness and self-interest have taken over our country.  I have watched as the most famous grifter of all time has taken every single beautiful thing about this country and ground it under the heel of his cheap shoes.

And I have watched in horror as people I love have cheered him on as if they are spectators at the cheesiest pro-wrestling match ever.  I have seen the effects of “I have mine. Screw you.”  I have seen greed up close and personal and it is God Damned depressing.  They talk about “bad choices” and “bootstraps” but we all know what it really is.

I’ll be the first one to say that the Boomers have screwed up a lot of things in this country.  And if you want to throw us out to the Covid 19 wolves, then I only have one favor to ask.

Since it was conservatives who came up with this idea, let them go first.


Strange Times

I’ve been gone for a while.  I’m one of those writers who does her best work under dire circumstances.

The Trump election seemed pretty dire to me which is when I started this particular blog site.  However, it became impossible to maintain that level of “direness” over the long haul.  I just couldn’t keep up that level of rage.  It’s unhealthy both for me and my relationships.  So I walked away from the keyboard and focused on the occasional snarky Facebook post and yelling at the TV.

I have watched, as we all have, as Covid 19 has taken over the world.  That isn’t an exaggeration, is it?  We are all now holed up in our homes wondering how in the hell our lives could be so upended in the space of a week.

I won’t rehash all that has transpired since we first heard of Coronavirus in December.  I won’t even rehash all of the missteps along the way by many governments across the globe.  I won’t turn this into a rant on the mind-blowing ineptitude of the man sitting in the Oval Office and those who stand behind him at every press conference bobbing their heads in agreement while he blathers on incoherently adding lie upon lie to his mountain of lies.

I will admit that in the early stages of all this I thought perhaps it might be overblown.  But as we watched the spread I allowed myself to re-calibrate my level of concern.  Even now I’m not panicked.  I have a full refrigerator and a fully stocked bar.  I can stay like this for a few weeks.  I am retired and my income will continue – although I refuse to even look at my investment accounts.  So, yes, there is some denial going on here.

But the dire part is out there – I don’t want to see people get sick and perhaps die.  And I don’t want to think about the effect this has on small business owners and the self-employed whose businesses have been shut down.  All of the restaurant and bar workers who are now out of work.  Hair stylists, fitness trainers, etc.  All of those people whose livelihood depends on the rest of us being OUT there.  We’re IN here and they can’t work.

The rate of change is now in minutes rather than days.  Remember when the NBA cancelled their season and we were all in shock?  That was exactly one week ago.  It seems like a year.  That began the landslide of sporting events to follow their lead.

And now here we are.  One week later.  Huddled in our homes, watching social media, binge watching anything that will take our minds off of this situation.

And wondering how it will all end.  When will it end?  And how many of us will come out on the other side completely healthy and financially secure?

So now I’ll turn it back to the reason I started this blog in the first place.   I would be so much more comfortable with all of this if I had even one iota of confidence in the leadership of the United States of America.  If ever we needed a strong person of character to help guide us through this crisis it is now.

The United States has always managed to steer its way through bad times in the past.  Whether you like the policies of the person in the White House or not, you knew, deep down, they all truly had our interests at the forefront of their decisions during a national crisis.

We cannot say that now.  We have a man in control of our very lives who has no moral compass at all.  To paraphrase Maya Angelou – He has shown us many times exactly who he is and we should believe him.  He is so far out of his league and he has no one with him other than the “D” team, if that.  All of the good ones have been fired or resigned.

I could attempt to end this post on a happy note but it simply isn’t possible.  The situation is much too dire.

And I’m back at the keyboard.


It’s None of Your Business

I never discuss abortion.  Well, until now.

I never discussed abortion in the past because it was none of my business.  It is a legal procedure for any woman who must come to terms with making the excruciating decision to end a pregnancy.

Her reasons for ending that pregnancy are none of my business.

I don’t live her life.  I don’t know about her finances.  I don’t know about her relationships.  I don’t know about her health.  I don’t know about her capacity or resources to raise a child.  I don’t know if she has been raped or abused.

I know nothing of her heartache or pain.  So, it is none of my business.

But thanks to the Republicans in many state legislators, it has now become my business.  And yours.  Now we all have to weigh in and share our opinions about what a woman should or should not be allowed to do about her own body and her own life.

I was sixteen years old when the Supreme Court made it legal for a woman to get an abortion.  I am now sixty two.  I have never had to think about what it would be like if abortions were illegal again.  Through the child bearing years of me and my friend’s lives, abortion has been a legal option for those who needed it.  I have never had to contemplate this decision.  But I know plenty of people who have.

And not once, not one single time did I judge those who had this procedure done.  Because it was their decision to make.  Not mine.

No one is pro-abortion.  No one wants to end a pregnancy.  No one is using abortion as birth control.  But extenuating circumstances that are not easy, black and white issues, make it imperative that women have this as a legal and safe option.

By making it illegal, you won’t stop abortions from happening.  You will simply create a black market for the procedure and turn women and doctors into criminals.  Women will be relegated to the dark corners to secretly find a way.  And they will be harmed by this.  Both physically and mentally.

So, why now?  Forty three years has passed.  And all this legal wrangling to make getting an abortion a crime has been in the works for all of those forty three years.  Finally, all that hard work is paying off.

All of the stars have lined up perfectly for the pro-birth crowd.  Through gerrymandering and voter suppression, they have been able to get themselves elected to political office.  They have had the help of the Senate Majority Leader who, in my mind, is the most dangerous man in America.  But, boy, is he smart.  By not allowing the Senate to vote on Merrick Garland and through the election of Individual-1, SML was able to push through not one but two Supreme Court justices and countless other conservative judges who can help move things along as the lawsuits make their way up the judicial line.

“It can’t happen here.”

Well, yes it can.  And it is happening.  You can sit there all comfy if you like.  But make no mistake – our democracy, our freedom and our American government, as laid out by the founders, is being dismantled right before our eyes.

The abortion issue is just one piece of it.

Are you going to wait it out some more?  First we were waiting on the Mueller Report.  Then we were waiting on the mid-term elections.  Now we are waiting on the 2020 elections.

Meanwhile, the minority Christian right is hard at work.  Making America in their image.  It matters not that the majority of us are against their agenda.  They have that all figured out.  And their plan is working perfectly.

Do I sound paranoid to you?  I bet I do.  I bet the good people of Germany in the 30’s thought some were paranoid.  And probably many in Afghanistan and Iran.  And the Philippines.  Hungary.  Venezuela.  And all the other countries where authoritarian regimes took over.

What comes next?  Once abortions are outlawed?  Will they reverse gay marriage? Of course they will.  Why wouldn’t they?  And it won’t end there.

Your decision to get an abortion is none of my damn business.  Just as it should be.  And I’m pissed off that I even have to type that.  It’s 2019 and it is inconceivable to me that we have to fight this battle again.

But, we do.  We need to fight it tooth and nail.