How Dare They?!?

In an earlier post, I’ve shared my abortion story.

Without Roe v. Wade, I would not be where I am now, with my two grown children and new grandson Luke.

I would have become a single mother at the age of 16, without a high school diploma or the assistance of the father. He was my boyfriend for months before I became pregnant, but, like most males, deemed the pregnancy and it’s outcome as not his problem or his responsibility.

It is of course obvious that the extremists who have been pushed onto the court by Republicans over the last several decades, especially the last 3, have now reached the critical mass that will allow them to force their theocratic views onto the majority of Americans who DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM.

For years, the Supreme Court (which is neither supreme, nor a court. Discuss.) has gradually pushed this platform to the front. With the Masterpiece Cake case, the Roberts’ court decided that it wasn’t discrimination to refuse to provide your service to a same-sex couple because your magical sky god says its a ‘sin’ versus being none of your fucking business. Apparently, the Roberts’ court has no recollection of the churches that used to say black and whites intermarrying was also a sin.

This is the same “Supreme Court” that is also poised to tell a school district to reinstate a coach who was encouraging his players to join him in prayer on the 50 yard line, although his case claims he was just praying silently alone. That isn’t what it looked like when he brought in the media and local politicians to join him, but maybe it’s just me.

It’s been clear to those of us not under the thrall of right-wing media that there is one fundamental issue that should be driving all of us to the polls, and that is this:

Republicans will not stop until they have rolled back all of it. Contraception, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and any other rights that have been explicitly or implicitly enjoyed by all of us until now are under threat by a radicalized, extremist, theocratic Republican party bent on holding and swinging their minority power to squash all dissent & maintain their illegitimate grip on power.

A vote for any Republican is a vote against the rights of women, LGBTQ people and frankly anyone who does not agree with their draconian proposals. If anyone who reads this cares about someone who has or used to have a uterus, you have no excuse for continuing to cast your vote for “low taxes” or “small government” for any candidate with an “R” after their name.

I do not want to live in a country where a small, radicalized and extremist group of unelected, lifetime-appointed ‘judges’ can chose to take away rights that they don’t like because of their religious beliefs. These ‘originalists’ claim their reasoning is based on the fact that the word ‘abortion’ isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, which exposes once again their rank hypocrisy. Automatic weapons aren’t mentioned in their hallowed document, either, but the court said that they were legal anyway.

This is blatant religious misogynism, a dystopian Handmaiden’s Tale of a future where any male can decide to impregnate any female with impunity, forcing rape and incest victims to carry their rapist’s baby to term. They are forcing all people with uteri to suffer the consequences to their bodies that pregnancy causes against their will. Those of us who chose to terminate a pregnancy also chose to avoid those consequences; this outrageous decision by these religious zealots says that their religious dogma holds more sway than the freedom to chose what happens inside our bodies. Ironic, given their refusal to uphold vaccine or mask mandates to protect everyone from a deadly pandemic.

Those of us who can become pregnant should all have the individual liberty to decide when, or even if, we want to be or remain pregnant. This is one of the most important decisions anyone makes for themselves; for these extremist, Catholic judges to impose their religious belief about when they think that life or “personhood” begins is not the American way. We are a country founded on the belief that there is a separation between church and state. With the extremist super-majority placed on the court by Republicans, that separation isn’t just erased, it’s reversed.

Freedom of religion is not the goal for Republicans; their ultimate dream is to force their Christian White nationalism on all of us. While the population as a whole has grown less religious, with the majority choosing “None” when asked their religion, the Christian White nationalist part of the Republican party continues to shove their beliefs down the throats of the rest of us.

We need to fight back for freedom from religion. It is imperative that we do whatever we must to put into office people who are professed to be atheists or agnostics, without any religious affiliation at all. It is too easy for those who profess to be religious to use that religiosity as a shield they can later claim prove that the liberties they’re trying to claw back from millions of Americans are just ‘moral issues’ or ‘not mentioned in the Constitution”. What they are, to be honest, is full of shit.

Justices Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Coney Barrett should be impeached and removed from the court for lying during their confirmation hearings about ‘stare decisis’ and ‘Supreme Court Precedent’ as something that they respected and would abide by. Thomas should be impeached for refusing to recuse himself from January 6 cases that he knew his wife could be entangled with. And Alito is another example of why there needs to be term limits in the Supreme Court.

All of us who acknowledge that the overturning of Roe is an absolutist stance against the bodily autonomy and liberty of every person with a uteri and those who love them to decide their future. Therefore, it’s mandatory to remind everyone we know who plans to vote for a Republican that their vote supports the destruction of our democracy and the subjugation of women into forced pregnancy and motherhood.

George Carlin, whose death I still mourn a little, had a bit back in the day about the “preborn”, and how the religious right was so very worried about the lives of the preborn right up until they take their first breath. After that, “you’re on your own”. That’s still the case – no Republican will vote for anything to help support these babies or their mothers – not child care, SNAP benefits, or anything else that could help those without the means to raise their children.

They prefer to force them to have the children, then watch them all suffer. Apparently, the cruelty really is the point.

If your birth control fails, that’s your problem. If you’re a teen without the maturity, financial support or life skills to successfully raise a child, well, maybe you should have thought about that before you opened your legs. If you’re a single mom who’s barely able to provide for your already born children, well, I guess you should have considered that before your new boyfriend ‘stealthed’ you against your wishes and without your consent, impregnating you against your will. If you went to a party and had too much to drink, then discovered after the fact that you were raped, well, get used to the fact that you’re going to have a baby.

We have so much to do to fix this, and it’s going to take way more time than people are often willing to invest; we didn’t get here overnight. In order to bring our government and the Supreme Court to heel, we have to vote all Republicans in all elections out of office. Their party has become an extremist organization determined to impose their White Christian nationalism on the entire country, and the only option we have left is to eliminate them from politics and power.

Only after there is no longer any ability for the minority to continue to force their beliefs onto the majority of Americans can we hope to move our society forward in a way that benefits all of us, not just the few at the top who cling to power corruptly. Then, we may have the opportunity to right all that is wrong to move forward with a ‘more perfect union’.

If not, we will descend into something we will not recognize, with a resulting anarchy not seen in our lifetimes. This must not stand.

My Abortion Story

I had the unfortunate pleasure of developing my secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, wider hips, etc.) at a very early age. By 11 years old, I had already had my first period, which in an of itself was a traumatic experience. My mother knew what was coming, because she took me to the pediatrician to have him examine the ‘lumps’ that had developed on my chest that I can still hear him explain to her…

“They’re breasts, Mother,” Dr. Brogan (Dr. Louie to us kids) pronounced.

I can’t remember what they spoke about after that, but surely she knew that menarche came next, right? After all, she too was a woman, and clearly had gone through puberty to have successfully had me, so what did she expect would happen next?

In any event, I found myself bleeding while on the toilet (as most girls do), and tried to get a better look at things by sitting on the edge of the tub with my legs spread so I could look at myself while simultaneously opening the door and screaming for my mom “Mon! I’m bleeding!!!!”

My grandmother came up the stairs first, and she turned to look at me in the bathroom as her head cleared the level of the floor. When she saw me, she started laughing, which only made me angry, since I was convinced I was dying.

“I’m bleeding to death, and you’re laughing at me!”

With that as my introduction into my sexual maturity, it’s no wonder I was completely unprepared to deal with Barry Weiner, a guy I knew from seeing him on The Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Barry was friends with Fred Richman (who had substituted for my freshman biology teacher for the last week before summer vacation) on whom I had a huge crush. Fred of course saw a high school freshman when he looked at me, while Barry saw a young woman, and that is how I lost my virginity.

Like every other teenager everywhere, I thought I knew things I had no clue about, and that became a real problem when sex entered the mix. I thought it was cool to hang out with guys who were at the very least 5 or 6 years older than I was, which at that time was 14. I had NO IDEA what the hell I was getting myself into and simultaneously lacked the wherewithal to extricate myself from the situation gracefully.

So there I was, in this seedy hotel room on Pennsylvania Avenue where many of the people who worked on Steel Pier spent the summer, lying in Barry Weiner’s bed, naked, trying to talk my way out of having sex with him.

“I’m a virgin.” This had to be a turn-off, right?

Nope.

“I’m 14 years old.” Jail-bate, so this will make him back off, right?

Nope.

I know! “I have my period.” How gross! That’ll work, for sure!

Nope.

So instead just telling him no, I don’t want to do this, or just getting up, putting my clothes on and leaving like an adult, I thought I had to let him do what he wanted to do (another example of how girls were raised to do what they were told, not what they wanted). And there, on that bed where who knows what else happened before me, I lost my virginity to Barry Weiner, diver from Steel Pier and friend of Fred Richman.

Afterwards, I wondered what all the fuss was about over sex. I don’t think I even knew about orgasms, and for sure didn’t learn about them that day! I felt dirty and used, but decided that I had no one to blame for the entire experience but myself for getting into the situation in the first place, so I said nothing to my parents. I was so underwhelmed by the entire encounter that I decided then and there not to do it again until I was much older. By the time I started to date Donald, I had learned that telling boys I was a virgin was the best way to keep their hands out of my pants, so I told him that, too. For reasons I still don’t understand, my ‘friend’ Rick told him that I wasn’t a virgin, and Donald used that to wear me down. That, along with my awakening libido, was all that it took, and I was off to the races.

Donald and I had sex every chance we got, all of it unprotected and without any consideration of things like ovulation. Like most teenage girls, I refused to contemplate the possibility that my active sex life could result in a baby, certain that it wouldn’t happen to me. A few months later my period was late, and I’ll always be glad that my mother was paying attention and figured out that I was pretending to have my period.

My mom, who had more balls than most men of her age, didn’t let me maintain the charade. She had me make an appointment at Planned Parenthood, where I went on my way home from school for my first gynecological exam and pregnancy test. Although I knew I was pregnant that visit, I lied to my Mom, telling her the test was negative and I’d have to go back if I didn’t get my period in the next two weeks if I still didn’t get my period. I wanted a little time to think about things before my parents started to pressure me about it.

During those two weeks, I dreamed about how Donald and I would have the baby and live happily ever after. It didn’t take long before the reality of what was on the line became much clearer, as Donald made it very clear that he wasn’t going to take any responsibility for a fetus I literally could not have made without his input. I hadn’t yet made a decision the day my mom pointed out that I wouldn’t be able to be a teenager anymore, missing out on dances, my friends and hanging out on Steel Pier over the summer pregnant. Having it pointed out so starkly made my decision easy, so I walked to the phone and scheduled the procedure to terminate the pregnancy.

My mom tried to get Donald’s family to pitch in on the cost of the abortion, but his mother also felt he had no responsibility for the unwanted pregnancy his sperm had been crucial in creating.

My mom accompanied me to my appointment, sitting in the waiting room until I was released to go back home. I wasn’t traumatized by the procedure, which was over in just a few minutes, believing then as I do now that the products of conception prior to extra-uterine viability are not a separate living being and therefore have no ‘right’ to life as such. This is of course my personal opinion, one that I cannot force on anyone else.

I didn’t choose abortion because I wanted to kill my baby; I chose abortion because I didn’t want to have a baby at all at that time. The fetus that was removed from my uterus was not a baby; it was a clump of cells with a bit of electrical activity in the area that may have developed into a heart had the pregnancy continued. At 15 years old, the future for myself and that potential baby was statistically poor, and the life that I’ve led since that 1974 decision, including the children I have now, would likely have been very different, indeed.

I went on birth control after that abortion because I try to learn from my mistakes. I stopped oral contraceptives only twice, both times to have planned pregnancies. Eventually, I chose to have my tubes tied in order to avoid the possibility of getting pregnant again. In the year 2020, it is unacceptable that either elective abortions or birth control should be either controversial or something that the government has any business regulating or legislating. Reproductive healthcare is women’s healthcare, and no one other than each individual woman and her physician should be involved in any decision or choice.

The Republican’s hypocritical insistence on ramming through another right-wing ideologue preselected by Leonard Leo and The Federalist Society to maintain their minority hold on our courts and our rights for decades to come is unacceptable. This is their last, desperate attempt to ensure they can continue to force their religious beliefs onto those of us who do not believe what they do. It is made more reprehensible because they know that they have no reason to be worried that the rights they want to deny to the majority will be unavailable to their own wives/daughters/girlfriends because those with the cash can have whatever they want, while those with the most to lose and the least ability to pay are literally screwed.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

Vote as if your life depends on it.

Vote.

They Deserve Whatever Happens

I’ll admit it, without pretending to be remorseful.

When I heard that the Trumps and many in their circle are now positive for Covid-19, I cheered out loud. I know that this will offend some out there, and I couldn’t care less. The people who are offended by the schadenfreude are those who cheered while Trump pretended everything was fine, mocking the scientists and professionals who had the good sense to update their recommendations as more information became available, suggesting the widespread use of masks early on in this pandemic.

These are the same people who were encouraged by Trump as they stormed unmasked into various state governments armed with automatic weapons, complaining that their ‘rights’ were being violated by the Democratic governors in their states who had the audacity to issue orders specifically intended to keep the majority of citizens safe from the virus. This happened in large part because of the lies Trump continued to spew into the ether until his reckless behavior brought the virus home to roost. The Trump supporters who have steadfastly refused to wear masks in public, based in no small part on the Fox Spews circle jerk of disinformation that provides the majority of their ‘facts’, are now at the heart of a new superspreader event that apparently originated at The White House.

I know that those in the media who have reported on this all insert the caveat about hoping for the complete recovery, blah, blah, blah. I suspect that most of them do so because it’s what they’re expected to do, given that Trump is still president; maybe some of them truly feel that way. I, however, am under no external requirement to say the ‘right thing’, given my lack of corporate, or actually any, sponsorship and admit that I hope Trump and those around him have long-term problems as a result of his rejection of science and facts. Karma happens, and his irresponsible and selfish behavior is the number one reason he is now infected with this highly contagious virus.

Trump has never been held accountable for anything he’s ever done through his entire life, from childhood up to and including his old age. He was never required to follow instructions or do an actual job ever, using his father’s wealth to disguise his massive failures while he used the court system to wear down those who opposed him until they gave up, out of money or time to continue their fight in court.

Trump has consistently used misdirection and hyperbole to distract everyone – media, tax assessors, insurance brokers, local politicians, television viewers – from the obvious truth of his complete and total lack of talent, intelligence, business acumen, or basic human kindness and compassion. While that may work if you’re selling a condo or convincing someone down on their luck to enroll in Trump University, it is ineffective in the face of a highly contagious virus. In fact, Trump’s lies about Covid-19 have been shown to be the biggest source of Covid-19 misinformation in the world!

His cult followers seem undisturbed by this, continuing to gather in large, maskless, non-socially distanced campaign rallies to ‘own the libs’, as if their gathering in these huge, foolish crowds will in some way make us on the left sorry? For what? That we don’t have an idiot like Trump at the top of our ticket, too? That we’re smart enough to follow the science behind viral transmission in order to stay safe? Or that we can’t gather together in equally idiotic groups to create our own superspreader events? Please, give me a break!

Those of us who lean left, who believe that government run right is a good thing and regulations are in place to keep the people safe, are not going to be intimidated by the fools on the right into tossing out our masks. Most of us understand that the only way out of this pandemic is for everyone to do what has been proven to be most effective – both now, before there is a vaccine as well as after one is available – and follow the recommendations of healthcare professionals and epidemiologists to stop the spread. Social distancing, correctly wearing masks to cover both the nose and mouth and effective hand washing are still our best options for stopping this pandemic from taking another 200,000 lives, and it will only work if we do it all over the country, in red and blue states, cities, suburbs, small towns, and farmlands everywhere.

I know it’s annoying and can be a hassle to wear a mask. I was an RN for over 20 years, and I hated having to don masks and gowns whenever I had to enter an isolation room, but I also knew that the whole point was to avoid spreading the infection from patient to patient. I tend to perspire a lot, and I firmly believe that my profuse sweating has had the added benefit of keeping my skin clear and less wrinkly as I’ve entered my 60’s. Regardless of my subjective skin observations, I know how one can become uncomfortable when wearing a mask for long periods of time, and I don’t envy those who are working and required to keep a mask on for hours every day (I am retired). However, in order to keep everyone safe, the only thing we have to work with right now (thanks to Trump and his minions inability to do anything that remotely benefits the country as a while) are physical barriers to keep our respiratory secretions apart.

I’m unconcerned about the feelings of those who have believe that their right to spew respiratory secretions unhindered by any facial coverings overshadows the rights of the rest of us leave our homes without fear of inhaling their wayward exhalations. Since when in this country does the desire of individuals take precedence over the public good? Or, as Spock said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” The needs of the many requires everyone to do the responsible thing and cover their nose and mouth when in public, maintain physical distancing, and avoid crowds, indoors and out. Period.

Trump and his followers have been forced to admit that their fantasy about Covid-19 is a farce, as the virus runs through many of those who participated in yet another large gathering at The White House and in campaign rallies in states with large numbers of Covid-19 cases. That has not made a whit of difference in Moscow Mitch’s plan to force through another young, unqualified, extreme right wing judge on the Supreme Court, nor has it changed his opinion about extending additional financial assistance to the millions of Americans who have been so screwed over as a result of the continued malfeasance of the Republican Party during this once-in-a-century disaster. It has done nothing to swing the Republican’s views on systemic racism or the disproportionate killing of Black people by police across the country, nor about the importance of allowing extensive use of vote-by-mail in November.

Trump continues to lie about the security of our election, when the biggest threat to the integrity of our election is in fact Trump himself. The complicity of the Republicans in this is mind-numbing, as they do everything they can to remain in power by preventing everyone else from voting. This is not new, but it has become so much worse during Covid-19 as those of us who have facts and science to guide us try to use mail-in ballots to have our voices heard while remaining safe at home. The Republicans have succeeded in convincing their own followers to vote in person on election day, exposing all of them to Covid-19 in doing so. This again reveals their callous disregard for the lives of anyone outside their own elite circle of wealthy donors and their peers in power.

Trump was never the person who could ‘grow into the office of the president’ and magically develop empathy and concern for others. As someone only interested is himself, there was no possibility of a Trump administration developing any policy or plan that provided a benefit that didn’t first and foremost benefit Trump. The acquiescence of the Republican Party to this self-centered and dictatorial direction Trump took them in is the culmination of decades of Republican planning. Gerrymandering, voter disfranchisement, voter suppression were always part of their playbook. Moscow Mitch’s plays during Barack Obama’s eight years in office – preventing his appeals court nominees from being brought votes, refusing to do his job and hold hearings when Merrick Garland was nominated in early 2016 – has allowed the Federalist Society/Leonard Leo to funnel hundreds of right-wing extremist and often unqualified judges to lifetime appointments throughout the federal judiciary along with two (possibly three) Supreme Court Justices who will have decades to force their minority opinions on the rest of us.

Trump and those around him deserve no sympathy now that their foolish, irresponsible and selfish refusal to listen to the professionals and follow the best and most scientifically sound advice has led to the most likely outcome – catching the virus. They could not keep the country safe because of their complicity. Trump could not even keep himself and those closest to him safe, despite having what was thought to be the premier infectious disease agency in the world on speed dial.

How anyone, anywhere in the country, can look at the mess we are now in and believe that any of them deserve another minute in office defies logic. All of them need to be drummed out of public life, forced to live in hovels alongside of their foolish followers. Unmasked, without any social distancing.