• The Ultimate Triumph of Wade

    Pro-choice and anti-abortion demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in 1989, Washington DC
    (Image by Lorie Shaull)
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    Roe v. Wade has been overturned, in the wake of another life-affirming New York state law in the SCOTUS v. Bruin decision, and both debacles are contagious, as many conservative states have already demonstrated by limiting if not planning to eliminate the option to abort unwanted or impossible-to-accommodate childbirths.

    Women's rights and human rights have been violated. In the first instance, the Supreme Court has opened the door to every variety of underground illegality and untold dire consequences to women's health and lifestyles if not lives themselves. It has welcomed in a new Salem witch hunt, turning neighbor against neighbor, Or is it McCarthyism reborn? 1984? Or something even worse? 

    The largest number of victims of this heinous repression will be, as usual, indigent people of color. Opponents of Alito's decision can predictably study the outcome after a measure of time. Affluent people will have channels to eliminate unwanted pregnancies. There will be few other abortions to count, actually. Prisons will fill up with "murderers." Again, read "indigent people of color."

    Could the ERA, if enabled--it has already been passed but very belatedly--be effective in counteracting the five reactionaries? The deadline for enactment was 1979 [perhaps 1982] and this has yet to be updated, even if belatedly, triggering more litigation, ending up with the same SCOTUS. All new appointees are young enough to stalemate the Court for generations.

    Today's SCOTUS decision will be chain reactive, leading to even more repression including elimination of birth control devices. Vasectomies will become illegal. So I can't summon men into the palliative picture unless they can be required, by the Court, to behave responsibly once they've impregnated a woman. And what of the "pro-life" society that insists on bringing children into the world whom parents are ill-equipped to nurture? Will they set up adoption services? Foster parenting? Do they forget about fostering life once it leaves the womb? Are they really "pro-pre-life"?

    What if sexual intercourse becomes illegal except when performed to procreate? You know whose lives will be ruined.

    I once asked an anti-choice proponent, a middle-aged woman, how many crack babies she was willing to adopt. She said she would adopt, not specifying how many, but later adamantly changed her mind with words along the lines of "It's a rotten stinking world we live in!"

    As far as legalizing the carrying of concealed weapons in public places, the Senate passed a counteractive law yesterday making some gestures toward mitigating this headlong rush back to the days documented by John Wayne movies. Some gestures. How many of the fifteen Republican Senators who voted for this measure will be reelected? How many of the 14 Republican Members of Congress who opted to support it this afternoon?

    Gun violence has been condoned and women's rights violated. Is it a gender thing? More men than women own guns in this country--40 percent of men and 22 percent of women. And women are victimized by the overturning of RvW [along with the responsible partners who stick with them].

    Joe Biden was searching for possible executive orders to counteract SCOTUS this morning. The latest headlines indicate that he didn't succeed.

     


  • 25 May 2022: Let's Get Rid of Guns, gangnam-style!

    Harrington & Richardson Model 900

    Harrington & Richardson Model 900
    (Image by CapCase)
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    More innocent schoolchildren have been murdered. Mass gun murders are becoming an everyday headline. Do some people simply say, "Get used to it"? Some must, at their kitchen tables if not elsewhere.

    In a discussion the other day, when I was inveighing against guns, a friend offered the scenario of a farmer being accosted by a herd of feral pigs. Wouldn't she need a gun to save her life?

    Too bad we can't be sure that gun owners will behave responsibly.

    I tried to imagine what it would have been like to go to school dreading possible gunfire. School was the safest place on earth when I was a child. Sources of fear were bullies, mean teachers, and air raid drills. Does anyone remember those? Loud sirens, unique sounds unlike the late bell would go off and we'd run to line the hallways, sitting against the walls with heads in laps, arms over heads. No, don't run. I never wondered what that would accomplish in the event of a nuclear strike. Remember those school kids in Scotland who ran to hide under their desks when that mammoth mudslide hit and killed so many? What else could the teacher have told them to do? They saw the avalanche heading toward them out the window.

    As an adult, I met some wonderful people, liberal activists, who told me they protested against air raid drills by staying outside in broad daylight when those awful sirens went off. No one arrested them though. I was amazed at their defiance. That would never have occurred to this all-American schoolgirl who recited the Pledge of Allegiance so proudly every day. And said the Lord's Prayer also and was chastised the one day I whispered another prayer instead when my grandfather was sick.

    "Someone isn't saying the Lord's Prayer," said the teacher when we were done with it. It was an accusation. She was a devout Catholic. I stared down at my desk feeling like a sinner but had some vague thoughts about being forced to pray. A classmate once asked me what I really say during our Lord's Prayer minutes. "Something in Hebrew," I lied to her respectful silence. Respectful. And we were around 10 if that in a very parochial era.

    It was scary to be singled out as if I had sinned. Scary to hear those sirens amid the years we so feared being buried by Khrushchev. But nothing like fearing for your life every day when your parents take you to school. Does anyone walk to school anymore the way so many of us did back in the olden days? That was so safe also.

    Pity the parents sending their kids off to school each day. Pity the sight of armed officials guarding schools now. They can be gunned down too. Is anyone safe when owning guns may as well be legal?

    Pity a culture that won't take action and instead condones the slaughter of innocence. It's happened before. It's called war. I guess that until we do away with war deranged people will be able to own guns. At least in this country.

    A friend of mine in South Korea tells me that there guns are illegal and no one gets murdered. Well, maybe one person a year. One too many, of course.

    Millions and millions too many innocent people die by condoned violence. That's the ultimate tragedy ridiculing the values we are taught in elementary school if not religious school if not by our parents. But meanwhile, let's narrow down and get rid of guns. Then we can make violence illegal altogether.


  • 6 January 2022: Thoughts on Epiphany: The 9/11 for Democracy

    Epiphany: Are these clouds rising away from the sun or descending to conceal it?

    Epiphany: Are these clouds rising away from the sun or descending to conceal it?
    (Image by dotun55)
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    It's been just a year since that endless nightmare began, the arguably initial battle in a new civil war--or, if you prefer, the continuation of the old one. This shot heard round the world was fired by a president whom the people fired several times via impeachment--this man who became notorious for firing others decisively on his show, The Apprentice,wouldn't take the order himself.

    I have just read that 70 Republicans sitting in elected offices participated in the attempted coup that never received the decisive name that 9/11 did. I wonder why? It was a 9/11 for democracy. It was never named "1/6," for example. Perhaps the country was more unified over the horrific connotations of 9/11. Objections might have been raised over pejorative associations with anything the highly accosted majority might have named it: Capitol Riot, Attempted Coup, Fascist Coup, and other expressions used in the media.

    So the epiphany, now that the Christian holiday has been so accosted itself, was of hordes of very unwise people visiting violence on individuals they disagreed with, but also on democracy as a whole, an icon of sorts, an ideal worshipped in the countries that reach toward it [reality is so hypocritical] as well as those who long for it. I'm trying to turn 1/6 into the opposite of Epiphany. There's even a witty joke that has swept the media about how three wise men (people?) cannot be found in Washington {but many asses: a reverse-creche, if you will]:

    (quoted from Google:) "The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in Washington, DC this Christmas season. This isn't for any religious reason, they simply have not been able to find three wise men and a virgin in the Nation's capitol. There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable."

    We experienced on 1/6 an event that has and will continue to defile governments across the world, headline fodder most of us never imagined could happen here, though the stolen election in Florida 2000 was named a coup d'etat by many. 

    Now, for many of us, elections mark moments to dread . The concept of Election Day has been blighted partly because of fears of intimidation and bullying at the polls of likely Democratic voters (read: people of color, especially Blacks). It used to be a jolly, folksy time. One year I leafletted in front of a small-town polling place joking around with the Republicans who stood with me, in total camaraderie.

    Will those days ever return? Will we be able to find wise people in Washington beyond Bernie Sanders and a few others? There are some from all partisan persuasions, but certainly not enough Republicans, the brave ones fighting against the destructive hordes.

    I don't even remember watching last year's monstrosity on tv as it happened, but am in awe of those who had the courage to video record it. I can't stand to watch the reruns, the desecration of an Ideal if not a reality--an ideal that the Christ child would certainly have espoused over fascism, an ideal that exalts those who he prophesied would inherit the earth.

    And I'd be surprised if any of the assailants on 1/6 did not identify as Christians.


  • 14 February 2021: A Valentine Memory

     

    The Trenton railroad station is a place extremely hard to find amid a maze of narrow highway exits and small, nearly hidden signs once you do truly exit, belying its function as an accessible public facility. Once you get there, parking facilities are insufficiently marked--you don't know there's very short-term availability so that you can walk the passenger in and help carry luggage and hug/kiss good-bye.

         But once you know the place, it serves its purpose. There is a high crime rate in Trenton and so the following anecdote brings the station to life as a hospitable place, if not a nurturing one.

         First, I went there alone at night, when I could still drive at night, to pick up my daughter, who had two large suitcases in tow. We carried them out to my car, which was parked in the short-term area, and loaded them up, so I thought. Now Route 1 North is extremely easy to find so we were soon on it.

         Then I discovered we'd forgotten to load the second suitcase. A U-term followed. We assumed rapid theft. My daughter kindly reassured me that only routine jeans and tops were involved, nothing earthshakingly indispensable.

         When we got back, the suitcase was indeed gone. What do do but report the theft, admittedly abusurdly? I phoned the station and was told there were no police there.

         No police? In Trenton at night in a place I stereotypically considered dangerous? I hurled some objections but gave up and called the Trenton police, who corroborated the absence of their officers.

         And so we just sat down on the pavement of the empty lot, waiting for an officer to show up. Again my daughter reassured me it was no big deal. But we waited.

         "You're the best daughter a mother could ever have," I told her, amazed that she wasn't upbraiding me for my negligence.

         After about ten minutes that seemed a lot longer, a police car pulled up. I approached it. So did an older woman. We let her go first.

         "Officer, I'm just an old lady," she said. "Waiting to meet another old lady who is extremely upset because the train is late. I parked in that illegal spot." She pointed to a space slightly out of the way, in the pitch dark. "She's really upset."

         "I won't ticket you,"said the officer good-naturedly.

         We were touched. Then I repeated our plight to him, the missing suitcase, and assumed he'd file a theft report. We followed him back to his car and he opened the trunk.

         There was my daughter's suitcase!. We were both ecstatic. I gave him a bear hug that embarrassed both of us. Somebody had to, my daughter later affirmed, to my relief. No criticism of my abrupt spontaneity.

         Then back to the car we went, dragging the suitcase.

         I think back often on these unremarkable events, cherishing them both in the context of mother-daughter high points and the good feelings traded in a surprising environment.

         The vision of the suitcase left behind in the empty parking lot says so much to me, as does its rescue.

         Trenton at night had become just any folksy small town, as all such places can be.


  • Jan. 17 ~ Jan. 20, 2005

    1/17/05~1/20/05

    I feel as though another tsunami is coming. This time we have been forewarned but no one is moving. As Bush grins about the democracy we are bringing with blood into Iraq, a tsunami is coming. Only 10 percent of Iraqis will vote this Sunday, far lower stats than even in the United States, but all over the world except in the White House and a few select corporations and mansions, we are all braced, cringing, for Sunday. Those brave enough to assist in the voting procedures (the pay is high) have seen three of their number imprisoned in hell with machine guns pointed at them. Then there is the 10 percent. What brings them out when there are so many candidates, most of whom are scared of campaigning?

    They want democracy at any cost. Remember the citizen militias of the American Revolution? Remember how the president-to-be fought and suffered right with them? Heroism. That is what is missing from our present “administration.” Cowardice and bombast replaces it. Speak lies to power. The power resides somewhere within us.

    This tsunami, short of a miracle, will consist of blood, not saltwater. Terrorism will kill democracy all over. We have aided this process. Just as US spies dot the landscape of Iran, Cheney’s new priority, so terrorists lurk all over our country. Civil war looms in Iraq, a cold civil war already afflicts this country.

    I grope for other conclusions, a slam dunk. The good, that is, we, will prevail. Our dreams will, gently, reasonably. Democracy is built on reason, a foundation being hacked at day in and out in Washington. Remember how Cheney didn’t even “waste the time” to answer Edwards at his high and well-prepared level of debating? Is this the predicted evolution in culture?

    Gag.

    I miss the glamour and glitz of activism in New York City but, now that my daughter is in Washington, I go there less often and have evolved into less predictable patterns than attending rallies, shooting photos, and throwing them up on the web. I can do more, though I shall still do the above also, when possible. I am right now crushed by my work schedule but have joined the steering committee of a new branch of the Coalition for Peace Action located in Bucks County. Here our modest goal is to get our troops out of Iraq. The immediate target are our three conservative Republican U.S. legislators Santorum (speaking of cement walls), Spector (hogtied by his ambition to head the judiciary committee and that way lose the 11% of the time he did not support Bush in legislation?), and our newly elected, said-to-be-Bush-clone Fitzpatrick, but we will give him a chance to remind him that both the county and our little borough went for Kerry. I was so pleasantly surprised. We certainly worked hard in this state—back when I was with the Levittown Dems and we were canvassing and calling, bumping heads with moveon.org constantly because we were using the same lists and couldn’t work together because of some legal technicality. Therefore people would greet us complaining that they’d been contacted ten times before. “Me too,” I’d always say. So what? When you’re blue, you’re blue. There are many reds who are blue these days. Good news that. Bush with the lowest ratings of any “reelected president” in history. “Re-elected by the slimmest margin of any second-term president in history. No wonder. A minority voted for him.

    Anyway, here is a heartwarming anecdote: A week or so before the election, the Bush caravan came calling to my county, horrors, and we were lucky enough (a mixture of Kerry factions) to be allowed to stand at the cloverleaf where his buses and SUVs were scheduled to pass, a quarter of a mile from the acreage donated to him by a local farmer to be violated. At any rate, we had the front row but a Bushite family too late for the rally had a little boy who couldn’t see, standing behind us, so we parted ranks slightly to accommodate him. Then a helicopter landed on the farmland and we were meant to think Team Shrub had taken an alternate route. Well, they hadn’t. They passed by a few moments later and we began our various chants, ending with KERRYKERRYKERRY until they passed, all black-windowed (who would want to see inside that materialized iniquity anyway?). Then on our way back we passed some other Bushites also too late for the rally. “Sorry, the police won’t let you in,” we said with pity and very obvious Kerry signs and insignia. They smiled back at us sadly, not even having ventured closer to the caravan. We are all people. Too bad the Bushites are so wrong.

     

    1/17/05 Happy MLK Day!

    PS: 1/20/05: What inauguration? Here’s another heartwarming anecdote from my canvassing days: We came to a home where the owner met us at the door with a cockatiel on her shoulder. He was busy biting her because she had been away for a few days and left him alone. We chatted about this and that—she was pro-Kerry, which was fine. Then I turned to the cockatiel and asked him if he was for Kerry. He squawked loudly and nodded his head vigorously. I asked the owner if she’d trained him and she said no. Speaking of the “inauguration,” I am so happy to hear that those “altruistic” SOBs are paying for their own hyperlavish orgies. Let that be a start to other positive developments. Let them pay for the Iraq war, for starters. Let them finance their other follies with their own overstuffed wallets instead of our social security savings. Keep it up, guys. Then start your own red country somewhere else.

    ©



birch