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.

BATTLE 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:  https://tinaforminnesota.com/

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

Go to https://joebiden.com/take-action/  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:  https://votefwd.org/

Ever heard of Indivisible?  Find them here:  https://indivisible.org/  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.  https://www.npr.org/2020/08/13/902109991/trump-admits-to-opposing-funding-for-postal-service-to-block-more-voting-by-mail

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.

__________________________________________________________

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/24/covid-19-texas-official-suggests-elderly-willing-die-economy/2905990001/

https://www.newsweek.com/britt-hume-dan-patrick-tucker-carlson-fox-older-people-1494107

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/03/25/coronavirus-glenn-beck-trump/

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.

Dear Bill

Dear Bill,

I wanted to write to thank you for your quick response to the Special Counsel’s report on Russian interference in our elections.  You obviously worked very hard over the weekend to make sure the American people could rest easy knowing you’re working for us to get the truth out there.

In less than 48 hours you were able to digest all of the details that took two years to compile.  That’s impressive.

Your letter to Congress, all four pages of it, tells a great story.  The first section is titled  “Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election”.  You wrote:

“The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

I realize that in order to appease your boss, it was important for you to focus your summary on his and his campaign’s lack of criminal wrongdoing.  After all, that is exactly why you were hired.

But in your haste to focus on that aspect of Mr. Mueller’s report you kind of left us hanging on the more important issue facing our country.

“The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.”

Sure, Mueller has brought charges against those actors.  But we all know they will never see a US courtroom.  So, the most important question, for me anyway, is this.

As the lead law enforcement official in the United States, what is now being done or what plans are being made to keep Russia from continuing to influence and undermine our democracy?  What hope do any Americans have that their vote and our election process is working without unlawful tampering from a foreign adversary?

It would seem to my untrained eye, that since both Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump got exactly what they wanted out of the previous election interference that there is no reason not to continue with it.

So what will the Department of Justice, the FBI and the CIA (along with all of the rest of our national security organizations) be doing about this?  How will you insure that this never happens again?  What are you doing to stop it?

Given how fast you were able to summarize the Mueller report I have no doubt you’ll be able to answer these pressing questions just as quickly.

On behalf of those of us paying attention, thank you.

Outrage Overload

Happy New Year.  I’ve been otherwise occupied since early December so writing about Donald Trump hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list.

And frankly, I’m just exhausted.  Maintaining the level of outrage required during this time in our history just takes a lot out of you.  Right?  It really makes me understand how people in countries where this stuff is the norm, just plug along without raising too much of a ruckus.  They can’t maintain the level of intensity to fight over it.

I suppose that is the goal of the dictators and authoritarians.  They don’t have to beat us into submission.  All they have to do is keep at it until we all succumb over time because we’re just too tired from the non-stop drama.

For all his faults, Trump is masterful at it.  He crams so many outrageous and dangerous acts into a week that we just can’t absorb all of it.  Being upset, angry, outraged and engaged is a full time job.

Two years ago we had so much energy.  There were marches and demonstrations.  We were all calling our representatives on a daily basis to let them know how angry we were.  There were people camped out at the offices of absent legislators.  New activist groups grew up over night.  I had a steady supply of poster board and colored markers so I could make signs for whatever topic was needed that week.  Women’s March, March for Science, March for Our Lives.  One of my favorite signs was “Protesting is the new brunch”.

I joined Women’s March Minnesota and was promptly given the job of co-event-planner.  I was pretty psyched about it.  But it quickly became too much.  I had a full time job, a huge motorcycle event to plan and just the stuff you do to keep your life going.  I finally had to back away.

So, here we are.  Two years into this national nightmare.  Trump is bolder than ever and tearing away at our democracy and our standing in the world every single day.  It is almost impossible to be surprised anymore.

I fully believe he is capable of anything.  And there are only two things that will stop him, short of death.

  1. Republican leaders finally stop enabling him and stand against him.
  2. He loses re-election.

Notice I didn’t mention Robert Mueller?

I believe Mueller has so much stuff on Trump, his company, his children, his supporters and Putin that it will warrant immediate indictment (stuff it DOJ memo) and impeachment, followed by jail time.  Yes, I do.

But it won’t matter if the Republicans don’t turn against him publicly.   Mitch McConnell has shown us time and time again that he will not stand up to Trump.  And while I’m thinking about it – Gee thanks, Kentucky.  What did the rest of us ever do to you that you felt the need to keep electing this horribly divisive man to represent your state and thus, able to terrorize the rest of us?

So, are we stuck with Trump?  Are we helpless?  Do we have to keep waiting for something big to happen?

Or do we make something big happen first?

We have to get our collective outrage back.  This is our country.  Despite the corruption, cronyism, gerrymandering, voter suppression, greed, power grabbing and back room shenanigans that led us to this point in history – We, the people, still matter.

And while the partial Blue Wave was nice, it wasn’t enough.  Nancy Pelosi and her band of cussing, dancing congresswomen can only do so much.  And poor old RBG is hanging on with all she’s got.  That woman shouldn’t be carrying the load brought about by our lack of attention and laziness.

The Evil Doers can’t take our country away from us unless we let them.  And so far, we have just barely been vocal enough.  These days we manage to give into our outrage between carpool and yoga class.  Between our commute home and the start of Rachel Maddow.

That isn’t cutting it.

We all need to get back to that level of OUTRAGE we felt in January 2017.

Take to the streets.

Call your legislators every single day.  Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth.

Stand up to the enemy whoever and wherever you find them.  Quit trying to be nice to your crazy, Trump-loving relatives.  They don’t deserve your kindness.  They should feel shame for what they have wrought and we need to quit giving them a pass as if supporting this dangerous man is the same as supporting Bush (either) or Reagan.  It isn’t even close.

Volunteer for something, anything that may help get our government back.

Be loud and outrageous and angry and obnoxious.

This is serious business folks.  We can’t wait for Mueller, Nancy or RBG to fix this problem for us.

This is on us.

Stay hydrated and let the outrage commence.

 

Fighting For Freedom

I grew up in a military family.  My father served in the Army for 32 years, fought in the Pacific during World War II and retired as a Lt. Colonel.  My brother graduated from West Point and is a highly decorated Viet Nam veteran.  I am deeply proud of both of them and the sacrifices they made serving in the military.

I often wonder what my father would think of all that is going on now in our country and around the world.  Daddy did not attend college but he was probably one of the most intelligent and well-informed people I have ever known.  He read voraciously and was always up to date on all current events.  Our dinner table conversations usually centered on the news of the day and the historical implications and connections to those events.  My siblings and I have joked that our education came more from those dinner conversations with our father than anything we learned in school.   Interestingly, he didn’t spend much time on his own opinions but focused on the facts.

He was proud of his career in the military and was extremely patriotic. I share his patriotism. But the United States military can only do so much.

We Americans are taught to believe that our military is there to fight for our freedoms.  And we have gotten to a place where we have elevated the military to a point of idolization.  I think even my father would agree that that level of hero worship can be dangerous.

At its most basic, the military is there to protect our sovereignty and to protect us in the case of invasion of a hostile power.  Over our history, the military sometimes works preemptively on foreign land to stem those threats.  On occasions, our military has been used in situations that didn’t quite fit into the traditional context of their purpose.

When we talk about the military fighting for our freedom, what does that mean exactly?

I assume we mean all of the freedoms laid out in the Constitution, right?  They are supposed to be protecting our freedom of speech, freedom of religion and our right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  And we should probably throw in the freedom to vote in open elections too.  I could go on but these basic freedoms will cover it for now.

In my lifetime, the military has been deployed mostly in the Middle East and Asia.  After two World Wars the United States joined with our allies in NATO and the UN to form coalitions to fight as a multi-national group against threats to democracy around the world.  So, while our military wasn’t fighting battles on our soil, they were deployed around the world to promote and protect the ideals of those democratic nations who knew it made more sense to work together than as separate entities.

That’s all well and good.  But what about the fight here at home?  How do we protect those same freedoms when they are being attacked here by our very own elected officials?

As I type there are concerted efforts to squash the freedom of the press, freedom to protest, freedom to vote, freedom to end a pregnancy and freedom to marry who you choose.  This isn’t histrionics.  Each one of these freedoms has been under increasing pressure.  There has been recent legislation in many states to curb protests, end abortion rights and so-called “religious freedom” bills that ultimately lead to discrimination against vast segments of our population.

The attack on voting was a huge issue in this past mid-term election.  Legalized gerrymandering is the go-to fix to make sure the minority gets the majority of state legislative seats.  Voter roles were purged in record numbers.  ID laws were created to make it difficult for certain segments of the population to vote.  The list goes on.

If we can’t get free and fair elections – what I would argue is one of the most basic and fundamental rights – then how do we call ourselves a democracy?  And who is supposed to fight so that we keep that basic freedom?

The United Nations?  The ACLU?  The military?

So when I hear someone say or post on social media something along the line of “Thank a veteran for your right to vote – or insert any freedom here”  I always kind of wonder what they mean by that.

How is the military helping to fight the forces right here in our own government who are attempting to curb our freedom?

They aren’t.  It wasn’t designed that way.

So, while I support our military and am proud of the military lineage in my own family, I really wish everyone would stop thanking them for protecting our freedom.

Yes, our freedom is under attack.  There are foreign leaders who want our democracy to fail.  But, technically, we aren’t militarily at war with those people.

The biggest attacks on our freedom are coming from within.  And I’m not sure the military can do very much about that.  I, for one, don’t want it to get so bad that they have to become involved in that fight.

Not all wars are fought with bombs, tanks and guns with troops on the ground and fighter jets in the air.

The war on our American freedoms is raging but the military soldiers aren’t the ones who can save us.

The fight for freedom right here in the United States of  America needs to be fought by each one of us.  Whether we wear a uniform or not.