Uvalde (2)

Here is the prior post on Uvalde.  There have been 15 comments to this post.

Upcoming: Memorial Day, Monday May 30, Vets for Peace MN chapter 27 will renew its annual observance of Memorial Day at the Vietnam Memorial on the State Capitol Grounds at 10:30 a.m.  Here are details.   I have participated in this observance for years.  It is always meaning-filled.

I recently watched two excellent 2021 PBS programs entitled American Veterans.  They are available on Amazon Prime.  In my opinion, very well worth your time.

The World Is My Country, the film about World Citizen Garry Davis, is airing several times on Link TV beginning June 1.  Details here.  I highly recommend this film.


The news Friday about Uvalde was mostly about who to blame.  As is usual, the instrument committing the carnage – the weapon, in this case an AR-15 style weapon – seems only in the background noise.  Guns and ammo don’t create or use themselves….  The ball is in OUR court – each and every one of us.

A quote from Heather Cox Richardsons Letters from an American for May 26 leads this post: “In 2004, a ten-year federal ban on assault weapons expired, and since then. mass shootings have tripled. Zusha Elinson, who is writing a history of the bestselling AR-15 military style weapon used in many mass shootings, notes that there were about 400,000 AR-15 style rifles in America before the assault weapons ban went into effect in 1994. Today, there are 20 million.”  [emphasis added]

400,000 to 20 million in less than 30 years….

This morning I pulled in the parking lot of the nearby elementary school about a mile from here.

May 27, 2020, at a Woodbury Elementary School

Today seems to mostly have been a day of blaming somebody for what happened this week.  The man who pulled the trigger is dead, so not much is said about his cause in the matter.  His powerful partners, the AR-15 and its ammunition, seem to have evaporated as co-perpetrators.

I think to myself, what if, WHAT IF, everything about May 24 in Uvalde had been exactly the same EXCEPT that the evil-doer had nothing other than his anger as a weapon.

Would there be 22 dead, one of which was him, today?

Even David, against Goliath, got lucky.  The AR-15 is a deadly weapon, here used against defenseless young people.

Truth be told, the State of Texas facilitated the murders at Robb Elementary, and the arms industry profited from it.

There is so much I want to say.

In yesterdays post I said I was in the Army 60 years ago.  I was in an infantry company.  It was there I got accustomed to ‘long guns’.  The long gun in those days was the M-1, really a WWII vintage weapon.

We all had a weapon, and we all lived communally, and we learned gun use and gun safety together (I qualified as expert, without any prior experience).

I didn’t pay attention at the time, but every day we were on base the un-loaded weapons were secured and locked together.  It was prudent – there were perhaps 20 of us on a floor, living in the same large barracks room, and we were not always of like minds and temperaments.

Weapons were an essential for a soldier; none of this business of absolute right to purchase, carry around and use without training and responsibility.

The Uvalde killer is out of his misery.

It is the rest of us that have to deal with the aftermath.

And until we figure out that deadly weapons have no place in a civil society, there will be one incident after another….

POSTNOTE: Enroute to an annual dinner with teacher leaders in suburban Minneapolis this week, I kept thinking back to the first annual meeting of the group, in 1999, at which I was the invited speaker.  The event has since become an annual one.

In 1999, the event was held on my birthday in early May.  A few days earlier I had been at Littleton Colorado, with my son and family, walking up ‘cross hill’ above Columbine High School recognizing those who had died.  (There had been two other crosses, for the killers, but they had been removed, and that issue was and still is controversial.)

So, when I spoke that evening, I was speaking from a very fresh memory, shared in one way or another by everyone in the room.  Indeed, I wore the same clothes I had worn as we walked to the improvised shrine atop a pile of dirt overlooking the high school.

It was a rainy day, I recall.

What I felt, then, was doubtless like those at Uvalde and all the other places where well-armed killers took out strangers to themselves, but not to others.

Today, I think also of 9-11-01 whose details are in all of our brains, indelibly.  What I think about is the alternative reality surrounding that event, which was the impetus, the springboard,  for wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and in effect Muslims generally.  President Biden finally extricated us from near 20 years of expensive, deadly and unproductive wars…and the thanks he got from too many was criticism.

When will we ever learn?

I work for sanity in regulating the possession and use of deadly weapons.  Failing that our society is in deep trouble.


Heather Cox Richardson‘s blog May 27, here.

Carol sends this along, she isn’t certain of the source, though the writing seems consistent with a Texas blogger named Sean Dietrich.  Nonetheless, this speaks for itself:

An old woman who shall remain anonymous arrived in Uvalde, Texas, early this morning, driving a 2009 Ford with high mileage and bad tires. She had a backseat full of flowers. She drove a long way.

The woman placed flowers on the crosses recently erected in memory of the 21 killed in the Robb Elementary shooting. She came all the way from Pittsburgh to be here.

“It was about 1,530 miles,” she wrote to me.

When I asked why she traveled this far, she answered, “I want to help.”

Meantime, other helpers invaded Uvalde. The first ones came in the form of dogs. That’s right. Canines.

Lutheran Church Charities sent emotional support dogs to Uvalde, to help those undergoing trauma. The animals are trained to bring comfort in crises and have been present in the aftermath of many mass shootings.

Such as Sandy Hook in 2012. A dog named Howe was at a community center only days after the shooting in Sandy Hook. Immediately, a little boy curled up next to Howe and whispered into the dog’s ear. People standing nearby were weeping when they saw this. They said it was the first time in four days the boy had spoken.

And he spoke to a dog.

Eight of the LCC’s golden retrievers were dispatched to Uvalde County. They are Cubby and Devorah, Miriam, Abner, Elijah, Gabriel, Joy and Triton.

While the dogs were busy lending their support, a woman I will call Angie, a nurse, former paramedic, and soldier, sent me an email:

“Yesterday, I wanted to drive to Uvalde and do something, but there really isn’t a job for an arthritic lady like me. So I ordered a bunch of pizzas and had them delivered to the Uvalde Police Department. I hope first responders at least nibbled on something.”

At the same time, across town, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center set up a blood drive in Uvalde. Texans came out of the wallpaper to donate.

The lines outside donation centers were hours long. On an average day, the blood center doesn’t collect enough blood to say grace over. By yesterday morning, 1,500 people across Texas had donated blood.

One man drove three hours from Austin. Another older couple drove from Oklahoma City. A man named Pete drove 65 miles to give blood in Uvalde. Pete’s granddaughter survived the school shooting.

“It’s the least we can do,” said Pete. “Provide a little service for somebody.”

Meanwhile, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team deployed helpers who were on the scene two hours after the shooting. The chaplains were even asked to deliver death notices to some of the victims’ families along with law-enforcement officials.

“As a father of four young children, my heart is heavy…” said Josh Holland, team director. “We are sending our crisis-trained chaplains to comfort people, listen, and cry with them, and share God’s love…”

There are hundreds more helpers are inundating the city like veritable tidal wave. Kroger donated $300,000 toward food. San Antonio grocery chain H-E-B is donating $500,000 to the community, administering meals and supplies.

Average Joes and Josephines are showing up with barbecue trailers and coolers, donating food to the community.

Throngs of ordinary people around the nation are calling area restaurants and offering to pay for meals for victims’ families and first responders.

Said Rosemary Flores, owner of Sunrise Restaurant, “People are calling from Idaho, Ohio, Wisconsin, and even Canada. I don’t know how they got my number, but it’s okay.”

Something else. Funeral homes in the community are offering to lay the victims to rest at no cost. The Hillcrest Funeral Home and the Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary are waiving funeral fees.

The average American funeral costs around $8,000. For the mom-and-pop funeral homes, this donation adds up to about $170,000 in combined funeral fees.

Moreover, this offer comes amidst a crisis of funeral supplies issues in Uvalde. This is a small town, funeral homes don’t have inventory for mass burials. In an average year, local funeral homes handle maybe six or seven funerals for children. So mortuaries from other communities have offered to help.

“We have gotten calls from other funeral homes offering their assistance,” said Monica Saiz-Martinez, who works for Hillcrest. “The love and support from all over is healing and helpful in so many ways right now. It is just unbelievable.”

There are more stories like these. Too many to tell. So I’ll close here by telling you about a guy named Fred McFeely Rogers. A man who once said this:

“My mother always said, ‘Look for the helpers.’ There will always be helpers, on the sidelines. That’s why I think, if news programs could make a conscious effort of showing rescue teams, of showing medical people, or anybody who is coming into a place where there’s a tragedy, be sure they include that. Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”

And right now, I desperately need to believe there is.


from Rick: These messages have been very comforting and spot on!

The Texas Governor and legislature have been very aggressive in promoting access to guns…for Everybody…but zero efforts to promote access to mental health care.

The really sad part is that they’ll probably get re-elected! And, we wonder why this madness continues!

from Jeff: My takeaway as to Uvalde, it seems a good thing that the “good guy with a gun” premise is being plowed under by the 78 minutes the murderer was allowed in the school while masses of various law enforcement groups acted a bit like Keystone Cops (I hate to use that but it seems apt that the indecision and lack of clear communication was astounding)….the current premise left beyond simple 2nd Amendment liberty uber alles, is that the shooter(s) are “evil” or mentally ill and we need to do more about this. Of course the USA has no monopoly on mental illness, nor evil….we all know what the difference is here compared to our peers.

I noted to someone else that our direct peers : UK, Australia, NZ, and Canada (english speaking former British colonies) all did something significant when faced with severe multiple death gun violence…..notably they are all also parliamentary governments, where even a thin majority has the ability to make legislation.  we are a de facto minority controlled government now at the Federal and many state levels. bespoken to money from PACs, billionaires, and organizations and political parties that thrive on money and power.   The United in our name is broken…the trend with the SCOTUS and the GOP is a return to pre 1865 governance. tis a pity.
from Carol, from Houston Chronicle: “Three days after a teenager slaughtered 19 fourth-graders and two teachers in a little Texas town … the loyal people of the gun are coming to Houston. … No organization in America has done more to delude Americans that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of gun rights is so rigidly absolute that even the most common-sense gun rules — such as licenses and basic training — are verboten … The organization is practiced at gathering in the shadow of tragedy … what to expect: a cavalcade of craven politicians, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and others who will declare their servile obedience to NRA and its distorted view of the Second Amendment. None will speak truth to power at this anguished moment for fear of being Oliver-Twisted when it comes time to hold out their beggar’s bowls. (‘Please, sir. . . .’) … we can expect to see attendees strolling through a massive exhibit space — “over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear” — where they’ll stroke and fondle finely tuned machines … the NRA has helped create a death-dealing culture that has no counterpart anywhere else in the world … We hope our visitors have an opportunity … to interact with everyday Houstonians who are likely to have questions and strong opinions about an organization that has thwarted every effort to stop the plague of gun violence in this country, even as Americans young and old continue to die. Our visitors might be surprised by what they hear.” – Houston Chronicle, 27May2022)
from David, two charts from New York Times:
Postnote Sunday, May 29, 2022: At Church this morning, the visiting Priest, Father B, gave an excellent homily with what came to me as being about our cause in the matter of, as he said, “Weapons of War” killing people in Buffalo, Uvalde and Ukraine.
Today is Ascension Sunday in the Catholic Church (Luke 24:46-53).  The Priest, in his homily, offered an African parable of two villages, both known for making outstanding chairs.
In one, the craftsman held his skills to himself; in the other, the others were taught the skills.  You know who succeeded.
He emphasized one phrase in the first reading from Acts 1:1-11 “why are you standing there looking up at the sky?”  His interpretation to all of us seemed to be, you – all of us – must not wait for somebody else to be the leader; each of us share the responsibility….  This is the only recipe for success, long term.  All of us sharing the load, not waiting for the leader or the magic formula.
May 29, 2022
from Frank: Thank you. You are truly both a child of God (*Who is Love!) and a stalwart man!!!!
from John:  WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Background checks should be passed—but there is no reason for anyone other than law enforcement or the military to
have access to assault rifles, bullet-proof vests, or even handguns.  Most hunters can get along fine with a 3 shot magazine unless they’re hunting grizzly bears in which case they should have a partner.   We must elect more Democrats – our Republican reps and senators don’t seem to “get it.”

Uvalde Texas

A second post on the topic is at May 27.

Today I watched the entire news conference in Uvalde TX in the wake of the carnage at Robb Elementary School May 24.

The Governor and Lt. Governor of TX were center of attention.  I won’t recount much from that meeting, which will cover the walls of todays news, print and visual and virtual.  I first mentioned the tragedy in my blog yesterday.

The death toll so far: 19 early elementary students; two of their teachers; 17 injured; the shooter, age 18 armed with an AR 15, was killed.

To my knowledge, none of the folks on the dais today in Uvalde implicated the unregulated firearm which killed 21 people.  There was abundant finger pointing at mental illness, and maybe the need for more places to put such people.

Lurking in the background is a long history of Texas deregulating guns.  Not coincidentally, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has its annual meeting beginning this week in Houston TX.  There will be more news….  I remember a similar situation in 1999 when the same NRA had its annual convention in Denver, a few days after and within miles of Columbine High School.  Here’s an interesting recount from NPR of what happened in 1999.  (My son and family lived then, and still live, about a mile from Columbine High School.  I was there a week after that carnage.)

I have a long interest and concern about this topic.  I entered “guns” in the search engine for my past posts, and came up with 85 referring to the topic.  The first of these, April 4, 2009, was the third I wrote, about the Binghamton NY shooting in 2009.  You can read it here.

I wrote all of these posts, and what I can say without equivocation is that I have never argued that guns should be eliminated; only that they need to be regulated.  Guns have their place in our society, but not in the hands of someone set to destroy someone else.

Somebody said, yesterday, that we are a nation of over 300,000,000 people, awash with over 400,000,000 guns, ever more dangerous.  Many of us, perhaps most, do not own or use a gun.  those who have them often have many, of all sorts.

This is what I said about this issue in 2009: “I have no issue against hunters and hunting in the traditional sense of that word: shotguns, regular rifles, licenses….
The national debate for years has gone far beyond the lines I describe above. We are an armed and very dangerous nation of far too many people armed to the teeth, wallowing in fear and resentment of this, that or the other.”  It’s much worse, now.

So, I think I’ve been “on the court” on this issue for a long time, and I will continue to be so.  The issue needs to be settled politically – one party and one party only consistently has worked for common sense gun regulation.  That party is the Democrats.  But it’s not an easy political issue.  It is demagogued dishonestly but effectively.  Words like “confiscation” are bandied about.

There were a few comments I flagged from today’s news conference in Uvalde TX.  They were all from the Texas Governor, and carefully prepared.

The emphasis on mental illness is a standard and false dodge.  We are a country with about 4% of the world’s population with a wildly disproportionate share of the kind of gun violence which visited Uvalde yesterday.  Mental illness arguably exists elsewhere, similar to here.  But there is far less access to weapons of mass destruction.  It is harder to kill your neighbor in other countries….

The Law in Texas has a long history of over 60 years.  60 years ago I was in the U.S. Army and our gun was an M-1, very low class and ineffective compared with today’s killing equipment.  Somebody reminded me this afternoon of the infamous Texas Clock Tower Massacre in 1966 where Charles Whitman killed 18 people with long guns from the 28th floor balcony overlooking the University of Texas.

The Texas Governor had to bring up the what-about standard: what about Chicago, New York, Los Angeles….  I had to look that up.  Of course, there are problems everywhere.  The three cities together have metropolitan area populations of 42 million; Texas has about 29 million population.  And it caused me to wonder how much of the incidents in these three cities fits the pattern of Texas – killings in school, church, shopping centers….

It is impossible for me to generate sympathy for the government of Texas given its pattern and practice of always more and more deregulation of deadly weaponry.

This afternoon, on the second anniversary of the George Floyd murder in my own city in 2020, President Biden signed an Executive Order attempting to nick at the resistance that continues in the national legislature of dealing with this crisis in our own country.

There is much more to say.

And much, much more to do.  Get, and stay, active.

COMMENTS (More at the end):

from Judyshaking our heads and hearts despair….knowing that God does the same….blessings to you…you have a great loving heart and keen mind.  Thank you for your thoughts.

from Louisa: Extremely well considered. Your writing always catches my attention. Thank you Dick!

from Larry: Dick, thank you for writing this.  I don’t remember the exact numbers but NAMI always says a very small percentage of violent crimes are done by people living with a diagnosed mental illness.  You said something like “regular and convenient dodge”, and just one more horrendous bit of disrespect and stigma heaped on people living with a mental illness.

from Fred: Excellent post, Richard, excellent.

from Rick: Totally agree with you cousin…keep up the good work and raising awareness of this sickness in America…the Texas Governor was ridiculous yesterday!

from SAK in England: Children are by definition innocent which makes this latest tragedy in Texas so poignant. Dostoevsky (or are we supposed to “cancel” him for being Russian!? He died in 1881) was often troubled by the death of children – his novels debate the question of how a benevolent God can allow this. The Christian theological answers often involve the concept of free will, that God out of respect for humanity granted it free will – unlike some other religions where everything is pre-determined. Perhaps God, looking at the current state of affairs on earth, might be slightly less respectful of humanity! Just kidding of course & I am in admiration of this concept of free will.

Arriving from the UK to study in Austin Texas decades ago, we were told about the mass shooting from the tower. This was at a time when you couldn’t see an armed police officer on the street in Britain – now sadly you do. We later took a bus in the wrong direction & ended up in a disfavoured part of town. Another of the group asked seriously whether we should take a plane back across the pond! All went well & I graduated from there but I do remember a professor being fired for expressing leftist views which astonished me as we had to take a couple of courses about US government, including democracy, to graduate.

Nowadays ownership of pistols & semi-automatic weapons is completely banned in the UK which “has some of the strictest laws about gun ownership in the world” according to some sources, e.g. here and here.

There have been massacres using guns in the UK as well but comparatively very few. This is not to brag after all the UK has an ineffective, scandal plagued prime minister who if he could do the right thing would have resigned yesterday. It’s only to show a correlation between fatalities & gun ownership. After all as you mentioned there are alas many suffering from mental problems everywhere.

It would have been in bad taste had the Financial Times featured this cartoon now but it appeared a few months ago so I hope you will allow me, with apologies, to include it:

[Extremely well-armed guy wearing Texas t-shirt and holding “Pro-Life sign]

Abortion is another issue that has come up on your pages & doubtless will show up again. Although I don’t like abortion & thank God for steering me away from that temptation, after all I daily ask him to “lead us not into temptation”, I don’t see how a secular (in the sense of separation of state & church at least) democracy can outlaw or try to make abortion difficult and/or hazardous.

Abortion is another issue that has come up on your pages & doubtless will show up again. Although I don’t like abortion & thank God for steering me away from that temptation, after all I daily ask him to “lead us not into temptation”, I don’t see how a secular (in the sense of separation of state & church at least) democracy can outlaw or try to make abortion difficult and/or hazardous.

from Mary: I usually take the liberty of listening to the spin offered by various outlets/papers and would recommend that.  If anyone is stuck to one source you get quite a biased picture of statistics but I am also convinced there are some who will never leave their ‘trustedsource.  It just makes me have a bit of a headache. After a period of saturation I default to watching nothing.

Hunters and home protectors don’t need assault rifles.
I would venture to say that what is changing is that there is a groundswell of disgust with the NRA/and second amendment proponents view of necessity.


Yesterday, I rough-drafted the comments seen below, and affixed the title you see above.

Today came the news of the most recent mass casualty school shooting, this time in Uvalde TX.  14 kids and a teacher, dead, is the report.  The shooter killed.

More later on that; first the rough draft.


Separately came two items that dove-tailed with other continuing news in the U.S.

First, the New York Times had a very long analysis of the French economic revenge against the Haitians who declared their independence from France about the time of the birth of the U.S.       Of course, the infant U.S. had concerns about a slave revolt on a nearby Caribbean island, and for years refused to recognize Haiti as an independent country.  Then, from 1916-34, a bankers coup,  where the U.S. physically occupied the island nation.

Here’s the entire very long article in the Times.  My friend, Brian, a long-time expert on Haiti, gave a succinct comment: “It is great.”  I agree.  I’ve known the essentials of the story for years, but never the amount of detail.

Then, Sunday nights CBS “60 Minutes” – a weekly staple for me for years – had a very inspiring story of a wealthy entrepreneurs act of generosity to college-bound students on the South Side of Chicago.  This program is also very well worth the time.

This leads to the present day, to all of us, from our poor to the wealthiest among us.

The United States remains easily the wealthiest country on the planet.  Our country has about one of every 20 persons; and controls almost one-fourth of the total wealth.

Still, we are a nation of huge inequity in distribution of wealth.  It is nice to have philanthropists; sharing is a greater problem.

I have previously sent some carefully gathered data about this fact, from my friend Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg.  The data stands on its own and deserves a look.  Here it is: Wealth of UN Countries.


POSTNOTE: I leave the draft as it is…there is food for thought in both the NYT piece and the CBS program and the World data.

Today, beginning late afternoon, I’ve followed the story as known in Uvalde TX.  The news is repetitive; hearing the same story and analysis can be numbing.

In the older days it was more difficult to convey and even learn about crises.  Pearl Harbor, where my Dad’s brother was killed Dec. 7, 1941, didn’t become known to Dad until late in the afternoon on Dec. 7 and then via battery powered radio.  And my uncle’s death was not confirmed until some weeks later.

Even Columbine, in 1999, did not immediately dominate the news.

So much has changed particularly the last 20 or so years.  We are inundated by information and as a result, sadly, we tend to take it for granted.  (I include myself in the “we”.)

Where do I fit in this picture of Uvalde and the larger issue surrounding it – 400 million guns in our country of over 300 million people?  Where do you fit?  This is our country.

Is there something else for us to talk about than the price of gas, and the other complaints which are all in a greater sense empty and meaningless.

I was going to add, yesterday, that I was lucky to be born at a time when every single one of my mentors – every one of them – had dealt with hardship of the Great Depression and World War II.  I was just a little kid, then, so I didn’t personally experience the times where nothing could be taken for granted.  Of course, I was affected, but like other youngsters, hardly knew the difference….

As I said, this is our country.  What goes on here is our problem, not someone else.  The Dad of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS shooting victim some years ago in FL was on the tv this afternoon about Uvalde.  His daughter is memorialized with this quote: “Dreams and Dedication are a powerful combination.”

We as citizens have a particular dilemma in our country.  We – every one of us – is responsible for the action or inaction we see on matters of great or little importance.  That is the dilemma of a democracy – “government of the people, by the people and for the people….”

We, people, are the people.

A Summer Read

Spring is here; the ice is out, and for some people, canoeing on the northern lakes is on the mind.

This very evening, Friday May 20, my sister and brother-in-law, at the doorstep of 50 years marriage, are setting up their first overnight in Ontario’s immense Quetico park.  The map of their itinerary, starting at Nym Lake, Ontario,  is at the end of this post.   They’ll be out for nine days.  I’ll report on what I hear at the end.  I wish them well.  [See postnote.]

This voyage is nothing new and different.  Flo and Carter have canoe’d in Quetico and the Boundary Waters for years.  I’ve “been there, done that” with them on a couple of occasions, in 1992 and 2001.  They are for real.  This year, their son and one of our brothers, Eric and John, make up the foursome.  In my trips there were six of us in the canoes.

But the real focus of this post is to recommend a new book for your summer reading, about an English artist, Frances Anne Hopkins, best known for her art depicting the Voyageurs and their country, based on her living in Canada in the mid-1800s.

The book is brand new.  I’ve read the book, and I do know the author, who is a retired teacher of French (link to order the book is here).

MaryEllen and I are in an organization together, French-American Heritage Foundation.  Yesterday I sent the following to our colleague Board members.

“I completed reading Mary Ellen’s new book yesterday.
 The book is magnificent – a treasure trove.  This comes from a guy who admits to having deserved and earned a “D” in required course in Art Appreciation in college….
Not only does artist Frances Anne Hopkins become three-dimensional  in Mary Ellen’s book, but so does mid-1800s Canada, her home country of England, as well as the Voyageurs and their environment for whom Hopkins became the iconic artist.
The book is the culmination of a 20 year project for MaryEllen and it shows.  The book is extensively foot-noted.
I first heard of the project when MaryEllen did a session about it at FrancoFete in 2012.  Most everyone with even the slightest interest in Voyageurs knows of Frances Anne Hopkins art.
I recommend this book with absolutely no reservations.  Order your own copy and pass along the word.”
Congratulations, Mary Ellen.  Thank you.  Merci!
Here’s the itinerary of this years Quetico jaunt, as promised.  As I experienced it, Quetico is a series of portages, interrupted by lakes!!!  Nym Lake is the red icon at the north (top) end.  Atitokan Ontario, their sign-in place, is just off the map on the far left corner.  They’re basically off the grid till they report back in about May 28.  Only rarely if at all will they see someone else along their route, which is fine by them.  Theirs is a trip to celebrate the wilderness; indeed as the indigenous people and the Voyageurs experienced it long ago.
POSTNOTE:  Voyage was completed successfully on May 28.  My brother, John, filed some photos from the journey, which are impressive.  Here is the album.

A final note on a separate topic:

Thursday evening I attended the 10th anniversary celebration of Green Card Voices, “A Decade of Storytelling”.

The Landmark was filled with supporters of the organization, and it occurred to me that I probably had been at one of the first, if not the first, program of the organization in 2013.  I wrote about it at this space then.

Green Card Voices is doing great work representing immigrants as valued parts of our state and nation.  They are finding their niche nationwide, and if you’re interested, be in contact with them.

Buffalo et al

There is nothing much to add to the two posts in my in-box today relating to the latest killing spree  in Buffalo.

Heather Cox Richardson,  May 15: here.

The Weekly Sift: White replacement is MAGA’s unified field theory.

A totally different slant, which I don’t think was coincidental programming, was  last nights 60 Minutes presentations,  one about the Virginia Plantation;  and the other about Bellingcat.


I hesitate to overload on the blog front, but these are times to not only reflect, but to get in action, as individuals, wherever we live.   I am one, so are you.  Each of us are the proverbial grains of sand, for good or ill.

Maybe I’ll see you tonight at the St. Anthony Main theater, Minneapolis, 7:15 for the inspirational film about Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama, Mission Joy: Finding Hope in Troubled Times.  Details here.   It can also be seen on-line till May 19.

There have been a few comments to the previous blog about Ukraine.  Comments are invited, always.

Check back every now and then for new posts.  Usually these are one or two a week, and they are potluck – about whatever happens to speak to me on any particular day.  The next couple will probably be entitled 50, and Communication, and for sure politics will enter the menu as well.


PRENOTE: The film Mission: Joy still on through May 19. Details.

This weekend is the annual Garage Sale in Woodbury.  A good neighbor and friend, Jim, is having such a sale and passed along an idea he and his wife are pursuing as their contribution to the Ukraine Crisis.  This is just a single idea from a single person.  If you’re wondering how to engage as an individual, take a look at this single idea from two citizens.  You can read the e-mail here: World Central Kitchen


The May 12, St. Paul Pioneer Press front-page headline asked: “Is Ukraine an unwinnable war?”

Of course the war is unwinnable.  There has never been a winnable war.  However small, a war once declared in the long term is lost.  That fact certainly won’t end war: today somebody will kill somebody else somewhere, and feel totally justified: “he (or she) deserved to die”.  But murder tends to have consequences in the short or the long term in the social structure that is called humanity..

This reality won’t stop the latest or the next mis-adventure.  But the rest of us can open our eyes.

Back on February 25, right before the invasion of Ukraine began, I remembered my first ‘contact’ with Vladimir Putin in June, 2003.  You can read what I said then, here.   More detail is at the end of this post.  Summary: completely inadvertently I had a ‘close call’ with Putin and George W. Bush on Putin’s home turf, St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 3, 2003.


Years ago I participated in an excellent workshop called the Landmark Forum.  One of the learnings from the workshop was about “winning formulas”, something we all have, with an endless variety of specifics.  Winning formulas are things that work for us: think babies crying; think bullying behavior; on and on.

We can come to rely on them – getting drunk dimmed the pain once, and it works again and again…until it doesn’t.

Despots – we’ve had and will have our own, here at home – have come on the scene over all of human history.  They all seem to have the same trajectory; the same general winning formula.  Their megalomaniac tendencies quickly outrun their common sense.  Up, up and away, they hypnotize  their victims, they take control, then comes the fall, taking their admirers and others along with them for the great fall.

Jimmy Jones, while no politician in the usual sense, was one of these, sufficiently successful that his very name became a descriptor for a particular kind of evil.  His followers “drank the koolaid”, and they died.


In our own U.S. of A. we continue our now generations long war against Fidel Castro, even though he is dead, and we have had a lot to do with the impoverished lot of present day citizens of Cuba, just off our shores.   It’s an interesting variation on the despot theme.

Castro upset the status quo applecart in Cuba in 1959, overthrowing a corrupt despot and American puppet, Fulgencio Batista.  Many years later a relative of mine, prominent in banking and politics, told me he had made a $5 bet with a friend back then “that Castro wouldn’t last six months”.  He lost the bet.  He told me about this 35 years later.

At the North Dakota farm I found an old college history book, “A History of Latin America” by Hubert Herring, c 1963.  In the chapter on Cuba, at page 422, Herring wrote a concluding paragraph, as follows: “Reflecting upon the sorry state of Cuba in 1960, the onlooker could say that two things are reasonably clear: Cuba was indeed overdue for revolution and revolutions are never mild and gentlemanly.”   Doubtless, Herring is long gone,  but I wonder what he would have to say today.


Putin probably knows he’s on course for failure, but he will never admit it, and in the process do his best to destroy the very country he is trying to dominate.  All of us will be impacted by his fantasy.   No one knows what or when the last chapter reveals:  what “mission accomplished” will mean.

For some reason, I think Putin got some early ideas from his  contemporary leader, George W. Bush, in 2003; and got more reinforcement from his American counterpart 2017-21.  Now he’s stuck in an unwinnable war.  We will all lose,


More about 2003 in St. Petersburg Russia: No, the visit to the hotel elevator wasn’t a celebrity contact.  We were on a Baltic Cruise with my cousin and her husband. Pauline and J.P. were celebrating their 40th anniversary.   In early June, 2003, our ship docked in St. Petersburg, and we signed on for two days of sightseeing in the city and area.

The June 3  itinerary included a brief stop at the hotel where the Bush’s had stayed when George Bush came to visit Vladimir Putin, native of St. Petersburg, who was then in his first term as Russian President (inaugurated May 7, 2000).  There was time to go into the hotel and see the actual elevator the Bush’s ascended to their room.  I had my camera, but didn’t take a picture (I’ve regretted that misstep ever since.). We could see, but don’t touch!  The elevator?  Average and ordinary.

Of course, we happened to be there at a significant time in American history.

The “Shock and Awe” campaign against Iraq began March 22, 2003.  On May 1, 2003, President Bush landed on an Aircraft Carrier off San Diego, and gave the speech dubbed Mission Accomplished, name based on the banner behind him as he spoke.  Then came his visit with President Putin in St. Petersburg Russia June 1, 2003, two days or so before us.

That was our little league brush with history.

We all know the outcome of Iraq, and varied interpretations of what Iraq meant..

We can’t be the change we wish to see by sitting on the sidelines and complaining about what ‘they’ aren’t or should be doing.


POSTNOTE: Related though not specifically on topic, I had the opportunity to watch an excellent on-line program related to political activism for progressives.  The YouTube presentation is here; a written summary of the hour and a half is here: Thoughts for Activists April 2022.  It is worth your time.

I titled this post “Unwinnable”.  I was going to add a question mark, but chose not to, since some of the issues raised are very much winnable IF activists and people in general are willing to make the commitment.  Putin’s war is doomed for himself, and his country, and perhaps for all of us.  But we can and should work to make a difference.

Earlier Post, May 9: Larry

COMMENTS: (more at end of post)

from Brian: Great, fascinating stuff!  Thanks for sharing.

from EO: I was intrigued by your mentioning Putin and Bush in the same blog.  As the war in Ukraine goes on, I keep thinking of the price paid by Iraq and Iran as results of the actions of the two Bush Presidents.   We paint Putin with a far different brush than our views of the Bushes, yet the hundreds of thousands of people that lost their lives because of the actions of the Bushes far outweigh the lives lost by Putin’s actions. If there is such a thing as heaven and hell, Putin will reunite with the Bushes in hell some day.

from Debbie: Thanks, Dick. That was interesting.  My thoughts go to Ukraine, though.  Many of my peacenik friends won’t touch on the choices that they have made to fight back.  The friends just consistently blame the U.S. and NATO.  I hate to see the needless suffering Putin has put on them.  I remember being a child of 5 and my Mom showed me photos of the concentration camps and I thought “why didn’t somebody try to save them”?  I still feel like that with the Ukrainians, the Rwandans, the Syrians, etc.

Response from Dick: Thanks for comment. Just to be clear, given the circumstances I personally can see no alternative for Ukraine other than to fight back, and indeed for the west to respond unequivocally.  At the beginning, I didn’t think that Putin would actually become the aggressor.  I was wrong.

Some weeks ago in an unrelated conversation about anti-war I recalled a conversation at a Nobel Peace Prize Festival at Augsburg University in Minneapolis.  Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg. well known in the twin cities peace and justice community, and I, were in booths adjacent to that of the official representative of the Gandhi organization in Minnesota.  The conversation got around to the topic of non-violence and anti-war.   The representative posed a question to both of us: what should our response be if we were protecting our property and an invader was about to assault us?  This question was from an advocate of non-violence.  Long and short, as I interpreted it, there are times when non-violence is not the appropriate response.  In my opinion, Ukraine is one of those times.

POSTNOTE May 16: Last night Fareed Zakaria had an excellent program on CNN about Vladimir Putin’s rise to power.  Check to see if/when/how to watch the program.  I especially noted the story of the lesson taught Putin by the common rat who changed the conversation about attacker and attacked, and apparently influenced Putin’s later life, not in a good way.  You’ll have to watch the film for details.


Last week my friend, Bob, called to let me know that Larry Woiwode had died.   Here’s another obit from the Minot Daily News.

Larry was probably not a household name, but he certainly was not average either.  At the North Dakota State Capitol, he is one of those few whose photo is on the wall as a recipient of the North Dakota Rough Rider Award.  You can see him described there.

I write about him not only because he’s earned a place on the wall of the state capitol, or that he and I shared space in Sykeston North Dakota between 1946 and 1951.  I was two years older, which makes a difference when one is 6 and the other 4, but nonetheless we grew up together.  Nor do I write because our Dads were teachers, and so were our Moms, though in the fashion of those days, Esther and Audrey were both “homemakers” with kids underfoot.  Nor is it because, I think, all four of our parents attended Valley City State Teachers College in the 1930s. (“STC” later became my own alma mater. Larry ended up at U of Illinois.)

I write about Larry because his second book, which I first learned of in 1976, was – in my reading – basically a documentary of our growing up on the few, hardly mean, streets of Sykeston, North Dakota, in the 1940s.   “Beyond the Bedroom Wall” is very likely still in print or available, and I thought it a very good read, more than simply about the five years we shared the Sykeston streets as little kids.

Larry and I were not in regular contact, but we never really lost contact.  Best I can calculate he spent most of his life as a North Dakotan, and was truly a son of the prairie.

A few years ago he autographed the books of his which I had, and they reside in the bookshelf here at home.

Look him up.   Here’s the list of books he’s authored. Larry well represents the richness and the complexity of North Dakota.




POSTNOTE May 17:  I saw the film in person last night.  Very worthwhile.  It will probably be one of the Festival favorites and thus have a special showing in a week or two.  At the end of the film was a link to a special website to carry on the message.  You can visit it here.


A suggestion, give yourself a gift:

Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times, is a film featuring Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu, accessible on-line as part of the 2022 Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival.  It is available till May 19.

A preview and all details are here.  The film will also be shown at three venues May 10, 15&16.

See the entire schedule of this years film festival at the link at upper right hand corner of the preview panel.

Mom’s Day and “Victory Day”

All best wishes to all Mom’s on this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 8, especially those whose lives are severely impacted by war and division, especially, but not only, in Ukraine.

I did a related post on May 4.  You can read it here.  It has already had several comments.  It is titled, “Yesterday”, and about the Supreme Court draft opinion seen this week.


Monday, May 9, Victory Day in Russia, has been considered to be an important day in the attempted conquest of Ukraine by Putin.  The story was that it might be the day that Putin could announce that Ukraine had been returned fulfilling part of his dream of restoration of the Russian empire.  Some way will be found to paint the disaster into a victory, temporarily.

Thus far this dream has failed, and if it succeeds it quite certainly will be a protracted and extremely destructive war with no victor at the end: a pyrrhic victory.  To “win” Putin has to kill a proud country with a very long history, long pre-dating Russia.  There is no happy ending that I can see.  Like a long string of despots before him, Putin will ultimately end up dead, his power and wealth worthless; if he “wins”, he and Russia will have a country full of people who hate the very idea of Russia, and Putin and Russia will be a pariah in the world at large….


Like most others, I have had to learn about Ukraine by personal inquiry.  I always knew that there was a Ukraine, but not much about it.  By no means am I an “expert” by  even the loosest definition.  But I am interested.

I’ve always liked geography – that was my college major. Had union work not captured me in the 60s I could well have ended up an academic somewhere.

So, I note that Moscow is about 500 miles northeast of Kiev, more or less situated as Minneapolis is to Chicago.  All of the cities are significant.

Kiev is said to have been founded in 482 CE, Moscow 1147 CE.     The United States became a country in 1787 CE; the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine FL was founded in 1565 CE.  The U.S. is still an infant in terms of recorded history.  “Just a kid”, albeit a very lucky one.  (Yes, indigenous people preceded us all – that’s a separate story.)

More geographic data is at the end of this post.


Then there’s the matter of relationships within places.

Not long ago, Joyce provided me with a very interesting history of the Jews in Ukraine, which appears as a link in the April 17 blog in the section on Ukraine.  Within that article was a descriptor of Ukraine as being in something called the “Pale of Settlement”.  The word, Pale, made no sense to me.  Here is a pertinent definition of “Pale”.  Note its definition as a Noun.

Here is my personal notion of the Ukraine area called the Pale, as I am coming to understand it.  I welcome correction and clarification.  I’ll add it as a comment.

Recently, I revisited my book of maps from the Smithsonian, which helped visually define the term, Pale, and also helped flesh out the Ukraine history a bit more  Below is a portion of a map from the book, History of the World in Maps, Smithsonian, (2018).  Note the area in light green, and Kiev within it.

From other reading, the Pale seems related to this area, and to have been considered a less desirable area than Russia to the east.  It became a place to resettle Jews.  Later, beginning in 1700s, it provided land to invited German migrants – who we call the Germans from Russia, who by the early 1900s were no longer welcome there and left, thousands to the midwest.  Ukraine was a deadly place for the Jews in WWII.  By then, the Germans in Russia were long gone.

“The Pale of Settlement” reminds me of a gigantic Indian reservation of our own country – a convenient place to park ‘others’, reserved for them, until it was useful to the dominant society, and the treaty was broken.  Unfair?  Let me know your thoughts.

from History of the World, Map by Map, Smithsonian, 2018, p 99

Like everyone else, including the “experts” we hear pontificate every day, I have no idea how or when this will all end.

I think the engagement of the Biden administration has been very wise.  Of course, everything and anything is open to criticism – this is an immense problem not amenable to simple solutions.  No one knows anything for certain.

Over all, we are in a war between authoritarianism and democracy, and we in the U.S. will be the big loser if authoritarianism wins, including in our own country.

Frankly, I think more of the fragility of our sacred Internet as the nuclear bomb of 2022.  No ‘side’ so far has wanted to take the risk of tripping the switch on this one, for fear of the response from the other – just my opinion.

We are a global society.  Everything we value and everything we do now has a global aspect.  What we have thought of as a ‘winning formula’ for our entire history as a nation – that we are best – is no longer current.

Putin feels he can dominate.  He cannot.  Neither will he nor the west permanently win.

We are stuck together in the same house called planet earth, and the sooner we figure this out the more likely we can at least keep our place habitable.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Shared in another form, earlier: Re Ukraine I have been thinking about the relative comparison of Russia and the United States in a geographic sense: 

Source of data: https://www.worlddata.info

The three largest countries in the world are Russia, Canada and the U.S.

In land area, Russia is nearly twice as large as the U.S.  They’re first, we’re third.  Canada and U.S. separately are nearly identical in size and together, together larger than Russia.

The U.S. is more than double Russia’s population, 330 million vs 144 million..

75% of Russia’s population is urban; 83% of the U.S.; 82% of Canada’s.

The U.S. is four times as densely populated as Russia, 11 times more densely populated than Canada.

Geographically, overall Russia is more similar to Canada than it is to the U.S.

The Ukraine is quite similar to the Dakotas and Saskatchewan in geographic position, etc..

The United States and Canada are isolated, small and young compared to the countries of the immense land mass that is Europe and Asia.  Eurasia is encrusted with lots of not always pleasant history, going back centuries.

The U.S. remains extraordinary in its wealth, with about 5% of the people, over 20% of the total wealth.

I have spent more or less half of my life in both very rural and big city environments.  There is a difference; but in both we are all people who must figure out how to work together.  Alone or fragmented we are condemned to mediocrity, at best.  

Rural people cannot live in a world without Big City and vice versa.  This is true in a national sense and in an international sense as well.  We figure out how to live together or we die. 



Overnight, I woke up thinking of the Beatle’s and their song “Yesterday”.  Here’s the 1965 version.

Of course, yesterday everything was about the infamous Supreme Court draft killing Roe v. Wade.  More below on that.

But there was more, yesterday, as there is, every day….  My friend, Jim, long-time resident of the beautiful but purposely sparsely populated Molokai, Hawaii, wrote “We just got over Covid-19’s. I had all my shots plus two boosters and was sick for 2 weeks. I hate to think what might have happened without those shots. It just seems to me that most everyone will end up with Covid at some time.   Aloha.”  Say it ain’t so, Jim.  At the same time, “yesterday” the one millionth Covid-19 death in the United States since the Pandemic began…

My list about yesterday is much longer, but so is everyone else’s.  Ukraine, etc.  Life is more than one thing.  Tomorrow, today will be yesterday.  History continues on, and we’re part of it.  All we have is today….


Now the issue du jour yesterday at the Supreme Court, likely continuing in the news today.  Abortion.  We don’t know by who, nor why, the draft was leaked.  In this day of false flags and shameless lies, passed on as “truth”, most any reality is possible.

I’ve followed the abortion issue personally for over 50 years largely because of a single direct personal experience.  If you wish, here is my most recent writing about the issue, from 2019, which links to an earlier blog I wrote in 2009, reflecting back to what happened in 1965.  I am outspokenly pro-choice for women.  I have never been anything else.  I have reasons.

This is the 50th year of the Roe v. Wade decision.  Cynically, what better way, what better time to slay, the “babykiller” dragon (an epithet Ive heard more than once from “Christians” who think they’re doing the Lord’s work of attempting to kill abortion).  They have been subject of a lot of, shall we say, “grooming”, going on for a long time by leaders of the Evangelical right wing, including, especially, the hierarchy of my own Roman Catholic Church in the United States.


“Right to Life” has such a nice ring to it.  “Abortion” even sounds evil…as does “babykiller”.  Some of the “Christian Soldiers” I experience are modern day Crusaders, slaying others rights in the name of Jesus.  In their telling, there is no other side of the story…no room for different opinions.

Absurdity abounds.  I don’t think someone can provide any proof that there has ever been, anywhere, an actual law enacted, declaring abortion to be murder or similar.  If there is such, I’d like to see the evidence.  The dodge is to prohibit the act, not the act itself.

Neither is there any evidence that an unborn baby is a person in a temporal sense.  One example, in my own case: in 1940 I was born about two months after the census taker came around to enumerate my parents in  North Dakota.  So I’m not listed in the 1940 census (which has been public for some years.)  I looked.  Mom and Dad were there; not the pending me, who by then would have been very obvious.

The day of my birth I was baptized.

Being baptized the day of or shortly after birth was not uncommon.  For most of my churches history, church teaching said that unbaptized babies could not go to heaven, nor to hell.  Baptism was not put off. Unbaptized babies who died were stuck in a place called Limbo, by church policy.  This changed, apparently about 2007.  This is how ridiculous this becomes.

Neither is abortion a legitimate theological issue.  It is strictly a power and control issue.  Different denominations, Christian and otherwise, have different beliefs about this issue, including among their own members.

My own church, in the person of a Pope, even came out against birth control when it came available in the 1960s.  Being the Pope, his pronouncement was in effect Church Law.  “Thou shalt not…”

You ask “Why? And why do you stay Catholic?”  Let’s talk abut that, sometime.


The final Supreme Court judgement on abortion (the actual final words) is not likely until this summer.  It may be different, slightly or a great deal, from what was leaked tonight, but it is a seismic event, particularly given the absolutely ham-handed approach of the radical right to seize power in the United States. I’m glad the leak happened, and light was shown on the thought process in progress.

50 years of precedent appears on the doorstep of being discarded.

Beware.  Be on the Court.

POSTNOTE: When I woke up I wanted to include a recording of “Yesterday” within this post.  Much to my surprise, the song was first published about a week after my wife’s funeral in 1965.  In the same month, the Beatle’s were in Minneapolis for a concert.

POSTNOTE 2 May 5:  A reader sent a link to Heather Cox Richardsons commentary in her blog about the situation.  Heathers “Letters from an American” are always well informed.  

COMMENTS (more at end of post as well):

from Jeff: I see it as 150 years of precedent based on the passage of the 14th Amendment. in striking down Roe, the court is enshrined states rights over federal guarantees of civil rights granted by the 14th Amendment. The parade of horrible extends toward racism and authoritarianism state by state.

from Carol: I don’t even know what to say about this.  As some have said, the dog that chased the car has finally caught it.  And I have a feeling that car is going to run right over that dog.  I predict this will make a big difference in November.  Maybe Congress will finally pass that law they’ve been talking about for – how long?

I’ve had friends/acquaintances who’ve had abortions for serious medical reasons which wouldn’t be covered under many of those pending state laws.  We all have examples.  I really hope this will discourage companies from locating in those states in the future.  (In the meantime, Canada has said it welcomes our abortion business…)
I also have some cousins who I know are rejoicing today.  They’re blindered, one-issue voters who are doing God’s work, ya know…
Here is a comment in The Washington Post, so if you use it, please give credit: My former husband is an ob-gyn. Anti-abortion church people picketed his women and children’s hospital and all the offices of the doctors next to the hospital. After five months of picketing against abortion, my ex did four abortions on women who had been picketing. One woman had gotten pregnant by one of the picketers, and the other three with varying other people. They were still all-in on opposing abortion for other women, but each justified it as necessary in her own case.

from Norm:  Thanks for sharing your comments with me and a few others, Dick.

I sent around my bully pulpit commentary on the pending overturning of Roe v. Wade to many folks including yourself the other day although I am sure that is was not something that you would want to include as a comment to your pending blog.  It is mainly an expression of my extreme disgust with so many of my fellow DFLers, liberals and progressives who did everything that they could just out be to assure the election of the an-child who would be king!

Elections have consequences as those dumb-bottoms supposedly on our side of the aisle who assured the election of the man-child who would be king are finally realizing with the release of that draft.

They will continue to be reminded of the stupidity of what they did every time the current SCOTUS overturns or overrules a public policy that we think is an important part of a civilized society!

The SCOTUS will repeatedly be used to make “those people” behave, act, speak and worship in the “right way”, that is, how that group of paranoic narrow minded self-righteous holier than thou dumb-nuts think that everyone should behave, act, speak and worship…and to sue the SCOTUS to make sure that they do!

As you know, that is a theme that I have hammered on ever since the 6-3 margin in the SCOTUS was confirmed by the US Senate and everyone who was somewhat cognitive of his/her surroundings knew that meant the end of Roe v. Wade and the potential effort to make abortions illegal all across the land.

Per your comment as a Catholic regarding this important issue, I am aware of several Catholics who feel similarly about the issue as do you.

It is just amazing the self-anointed protectors of women in the legislatures and governors offices in the US…mainly white guys…are hell bent on making abortions illegal in their states and even across the land for any reason including rape.  The latter really shows one hell of a lot of disrespect for women who under their view of the world should carry the result of that rape to full-term and???  More importantly, the “trigger laws” that have been adopted in so many red states regarding the matter in anticipation of the repeal of Roe v. Wade show one hell of a lot of disrespect for women in general and their own personal right to make their own decisions regarding their bodies.

Interestingly, most of these “pro-life” legislators/governors have no interest at all in providing support for the children that their actions have been bought into the world.

Just pathetic, Dick!

from Joyce:  This is an excellent essay, Dick, and of course you may include my comments in your blog.

As a L&D nurse I assisted with therapeutic abortions, abortions that were necessary to protect the health and/or the life of the mother. Many of these abortions were performed because the membranes ruptured too early; in the absence of amniotic fluid, the fetal lungs will not develop, rendering the pregnancy non-viable. At the same time, the ruptured membranes leave the woman vulnerable to life threatening infection and sepsis, so the safest, the only reasonable option, is to terminate the pregnancy before an infection starts. Catholic doctrine, Catholic hospitals, do not permit the termination, even of a non-viable pregnancy, until the woman’s life is at risk; that’s why Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis, in Ireland, in 2012. It was outrage over her needless death that spurred a change in Irish abortion laws. Catholic hospitals in this country still do not permit termination in those circumstances; in some parts of the country, the only hospitals are Catholic ones.
I’ve seen pregnant women die needlessly from complications of pregnancy because of personal opposition to abortion. That was their choice, a choice that the right wing would deny others. I remember taking care of a deeply religious couple, back in the early ’90s; the woman very nearly died during her 5th Caesarean delivery. When the OB told the couple that another pregnancy would almost certainly result in death, the husband, and only the husband, answered, “it’s in God’s hands.”
When I was a college student in Massachusetts in the late ’60s, contraception was still illegal for unmarried women in the state. I remember a huge uproar when every copy of Glamour magazine had to be removed from stores all over the state because it contained a one-page ad for Delfen Foam; is this what we are headed toward? One of my classmates was raped; what would she have been able to do if the rape had resulted in pregnancy? She didn’t even report the rape to the authorities because she knew that she would be blamed and shamed.
So many rights are at risk, so many lives are at risk, but apparently, women’s rights and women’s lives don’t count.
Abortion bans trample on the religious freedom of Jewish women, who are required to have abortions if the pregnancy threatens their health or well being, including their emotional well being. Abortion is legal in Israel.
from Florence: Can only say “AMEN!”. Protecting the right to choose is protecting the one who is having to make that choice.


from Fred:  As usual I take the long view on almost everything. The early 20th Century produced an abundance of reformers driven to make better the lives of those, particularly new immigrants living in the slums of our largest metropolitan areas. These “do-gooders,” as they were sometimes called, worked to establish child labor laws, pure food and drugs, equal rights for Black citizens, elimination of corrupt local governments, slums and slumlords, corrupt political party bosses, monopolies that crushed competition and wage levels, the existing six-day work week, the little guy (farmers in particular, who suffered from price fixing and extortionate shipping rates), etc.

Among the overlooked reformers was the estimable Margaret Sanger, who worked with poverty-stricken in the slums of New York City. She discovered the trials of the women who cherished their children but were overwhelmed by giving birth to so many. Couples struggled to feed their often hungry and poorly dressed off-spring. Having children that they could not adequately provide for tormented them. And then the mother might learn that she is pregnant again. The health of impoverished women was also compromised and giving birth without proper care markedly increased the death rates of females. Escape routes from poverty were mostly non-existent.
Sanger worked for contraception and family planning education and was jailed in NYC for publicly advocating birth control.
It is interesting to note that the first word out GOP leaders, including Mitch McConnell, was in relationship to the “leaker.” It was all over Fox, too. They don’t want to look “too anti-woman.”
The Far, Far Righters have achieved the goal that, for a half-century folks have been screaming for. No mention of that issue instead it was, “Hey did you hear about the leaker.” McConnell should have returned to the biggest military disaster in US history, Benghazi.

from Mary Ellen: I really have nothing to add to the excellent comments already posted.

Perhaps just this: pity the poor father who knows he cannot afford more children. His life must be torture as he divides a small income by one more share, and especially pity the couple if the child is handicapped. Is there no mercy?
from Georgine: Thank you Dick. The decision is totally about controlling women. There is a lot of “submit to your husband” undercurrent in fundamentalist Christian life, and anger that women are achieving their personal dreams. Hope to not have to live in a culture where I am forced to be subservient. That is not one of my skills. Will continue actively participate in politics. This is the most important time in the past two centuries for thinking rational people to vote and help Democrats get elected.
from Carol, May 29, 2022: The following letter, by Carol, appeared in today’s Sunday St. Paul Pioneer Press.  It was printed essentially as submitted.  In brackets, is a final paragraph as modified by the author.
Carol notes she was responding to an originating column by Gregory Sisk who “holds the Laghi Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of St. Thomas.”  He did quite a lot of bragging about his many achievements.  There’s also a short letter supporting his column – and another long one tearing it apart.”  Presumably the column and the responses are accessible at the Pioneer Press website, here.  
Carol: “Some 60 years ago, I was born to a teenage girl who had left her home and high school without telling others… she made the courageous decision to place me for adoption” writes a local columnist (“When they talk about abortion, they’re talking about me,” 5/22).

Actually, 60 years ago (before Roe v. Wade), there was nothing courageous about a teen placing her baby for adoption; she would have been told by everyone in authority it was her only option.  There was a direct pipeline from the home for unwed mothers to the adoption agency.

The writer shares details of his life of “blessings and opportunities,” his many achievements – for which he certainly deserves credit.  He was fortunate to have been adopted into a loving home.  He’s understandably grateful that his mother did not abort him.  But he can’t know if she would have made that choice even if available.  [He likely doesn’t know the circumstances of his mother’s pregnancy, nor how this may have affected the rest of her life. – They left this sentence out

I’ve known two very young teens who were raped and impregnated – one by her drunken father, also 60 years ago.  Coming from a poor family with no resources, she had no choice but to drop out of school, hide for months, and give birth.  It changed her life.

The other teen, 14, lived far from an abortion provider, was too young to drive, had those telling her abortion was murder.  She had been happy, a good student, an athlete.  She quit school and cried all day, begging to just “be a kid again.”  Her friends dropped her.  The family kept the baby, which had a disability.  The parents divorced over it.  The girl’s life further unspooled, and she made some bad choices seeking to recover her sense of worth.  By the time she was 20, she had aged beyond belief.  It ruined her life.

Lawmakers have recently made some appalling comments about pregnant teens, saying they have an “opportunity,” a “gift from God.”  We have a Supreme Court justice suggesting they can just drop off their unwanted babies at the local fire station.  We should not once again force pregnant teens to supply our adoption agencies.

The writer is of the belief that a fertilized egg suddenly becomes a “human being.”  That’s an argument it seems will never end, and of course many vehemently disagree.  But what can’t be argued is that these teenagers were children, with immature bodies and minds not equipped for forced pregnancy/motherhood.  What about THEIR future blessings, opportunities and achievements?  Do their lives not matter more than an egg or a collection of cells?

The writer points out that abortion ends the potential of a human being, with its own unique characteristics.  However, most fertilized eggs do not implant and grow, and an estimated 20 percent of pregnancies end in early miscarriage.  We accept that as inevitable, acts of Mother Nature.  Opposing abortion because a [specific] “human being has not existed before [and will never exist  again]” does not make sense. [bracketed words added by Carol].
from Dick, May 29: On May 20 the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco said no to Communion for Rep. Nancy Pelosi over her abortion stand as Congressional leader.
The May 26, 2022, issue of the St. Paul-Minneapaolis Archdiocese Catholic Spirit print edition, on page 9, devoted nearly a full page to the issue, called attention to the article on page one, but to the best of my knowledge did not include the article in its on-line edition, accessible here.  We receive the Catholic Spirit, here is a 2-page pdf of the aforementioned page 9.   SF Abp on Pelosi Communion.
Of course, I have no decision making power nor information about how my Archdiocese decides to market its information.  As best I can gather, more or less 10% of the people who receive the Catholic Spirit are considered to be ‘Catholic’ in census information.  So, the newspaper, which is normally about 32 pages print, is in effect an ‘insiders’ publication.
As a lifelong Catholic, who in fact is a regular at Mass on Sunday, and gets the newspaper most likely because we contribute financially to our parish, it appears that the official church has backed itself into a corner by assuming a totally unenforceable position to shame Nancy Pelosi, strictly because Pelosi represents everyone most of whom are not Catholic regardless of individual beliefs.