Only A General Strike Will Secure The Right To Safe, Legal Abortion

Yesterday I endangered the 20 people I was with, standing on the pavement thinking about the government. I yelled at an older man in a car with NY license plates who was mansplaining that Maine still has access to safe medical abortion. I asked him if he had a uterus and then told him “If you don’t have a uterus then shut the f up” (yes, I said f not the f word). Luckily he did not become angry and shoot anyone. He just said, “Nice language, lady” and drove away.

I’ve apologized to the event organizer for losing my temper. 

The incident made me realize how deeply angry I am about the attack on people who can get pregnant, by attackers who can’t. 

I was disappointed by the coverage in the local paper which focused on the need to vote harder for Democrats. Really? Y’all still falling for that bullshit that got us to where we are today?

Honestly, though, I just became a hair more willing to vote for the Democratic incumbent for governor, a woman who has disappointed numerous times with her craven pandering to big business. Her challenger is the old incumbent, a man who arguably was channeling 45 before that demagogue had even made it to the White House. Rude, crude, and would definitely strip Maine of reproductive rights if he were able. (And ranked choice voting does not apply to the election for governor in our state.)

Some of my friends are posting as former wards of the state about their hellish experiences in foster care. They are challenging the narrative that adoption is a magic wand that solves unwanted pregnancy problems. They are reminding us that they were kicked to the curb after aging out of the system at 18; many ended up unhoused, exploited, addicted, or dead.

I’m also reminded of the now decades old statistical analysis pointing out that access to safe, legal abortions caused the U.S. crime rate to plummet. (If you’ve not heard about this theory before, you can listen or read about it here on the Freakonomics site.) There’s no doubt that policing and incarceration are systems built to keep white people at the top of the heap. Unfortunately, those are constants in the U.S. But did legalizing abortion in the 1970’s have a ripple effects on the rate of violent crime 20 years later?

As a teacher for 25 years I had occasion to know many families. The vast majority of people love their kids — even moms and dads who didn’t particularly want children to be born into poverty and who are struggling themselves after a bad childhood. Parents and other caregivers (increasingly grandparents after their own child succumbs to substance use disorder) don’t always make the choices that seem wise to their teachers. Educators are a middle class bunch, mostly raised by parents that had resources and took the job seriously. We are often judgmental about the suffering we see and who’s causing it. 

If you haven’t lived a childhood full of trauma it can be hard to empathize with those who have. The scars are invisible, but they are deep.

I worked with children in dire poverty for many years. Subsequently, I wrote a novel about their struggles and triumphs; the book includes trafficking, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. My protagonist experiences all of the above but she triumphs in the end because she’s a bad ass who’s able to find her way into nurturing communities. She has a safe, legal abortion while other characters are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Now I’m revising while trying to find an agent and/or publisher. If you have any suggestions for me, I want to hear them.

You can buy this cool poster here on the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) website.

I could end this post by saying, see you on the streets, but I’m pretty sure only a general strike will turn this ship around. Easy for a retired person like me to say, but if all the women and girls who could manage it stayed home from work next week, within a month Congress would have passed and the president would have signed a law guaranteeing the legality of abortion throughout the U.S.

We must hit our corporate overlords in the pocketbook by withholding labor in order to get their attention.

Of course then Democrats would lose the ability to fundraise off the abortion political football. And I’m pretty sure we’re all clear on which they value more: $$$$ or basic human rights. Under their leadership, what’s the only wealthy country on the planet that doesn’t have universal health care? Of which abortion on demand is just one component.

The fervor of this young person attempting to communicate with the president’s motorcade in Los Angeles this month is what’s needed now. What are they shouting? 

“An abortion ban will not stop abortions! Only safe ones!!!”

Good News, Bad News — Which Do You Want First?

Me, I want to get the bad news up front but appreciate the warning (bad news coming): Nancy Pelosi, an 80 year old multi-millionaire so clueless she proudly showed off her two luxury refrigerators full of gelato during the first pandemic lockdown, yesterday was re-elected to lead the House of Representatives for her corporate sponsors. 

This after presiding over a pathetic $600 one time payment to struggling taxpayers while other countries have been providing thousands per month so people could afford to stay home.

The really bad news for many was that the so-called Squad of progressive Democrats in the House caved and supported Pelosi even though their followers were calling en masse for them to withhold their votes in order to #ForceTheVote on the wildly popular brand of universal health care, Medicare for All.

The fact that any progressive in Congress generally gets co-opted within a couple of years and falls obediently into line on behalf of her career is not a new phenomenon. 

Most mysterious to me is why people continue being (acting?) surprised when this happens.

Worthy of note is that my representative did something really unexpected and unusual: he voted for a fellow war veteran who serves in the U.S. Senate. This taught me that the Speaker of the House does not have to be a member of the House (who knew?), and suggests that he could not bring himself to vote for corporate shill Pelosi. The statement explaining his choice shows that he and his staff get the sentiment that is abroad in Maine and throughout the land:

I am of the opinion that only a general strike will bring about universal health care in the U.S. 

Our corporate overlords have long since indicated that we can eat shit and die as far as they’re concerned. Withholding the labor that builds all that wealth would be powerful — and calls to do so are growing every day. Status quo upholders claim “that will never happen” to which I say: return to your history books and read up on what happened when elites had bled the working class dry in empires of the past.

Ok, ready for the good news?

A conservative judge who was expected to extradite journalist Julian Assange to face trumped up espionage charges in the U.S. did not do so. Her stated reason: mistreatment during his long imprisonment by the UK on behalf of the U.S. has rendered him a suicide risk, and District Judge Vanessa Baraitser does not believe the conditions in U.S. prisons are such that Assange could be prevented from killing himself in custody. 

According to AP:

“I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” the judge said.

(Wondering if she was thinking about Jeffrey Epstein here. Does anyone really believe he killed himself in prison?)

According to independent journalist Jeremy Scahill:

So this one victory does not mean the persecution of Julian Assange for revealing evidence of war crimes via Wikileaks is over. In order to stay up to date on the health of the free press canary in the corporate coal mine, we can’t rely on the Associated Press or other corporate news outlets who ignore him whenever possible. Instead, we can use this handly list compiled by independent journalist Kevin Gosztola of other reporters who are consistently paying attention.

Because without real news, we’re doomed to die in the dark.