Skip the online petitions and polls; get out and do something

Mark Kelly wants your contact information so his people can ask you for money every day. If you donate, your contact information likely will be shared and others will ask for your money. Again and again and again …

Every day on social media, it’s the same thing: a one-question instant poll asking whether I think the occupant of the Oval Office is racist, whether Joe Biden is too old, whether pollution is a bad thing …

“Sign the petition!”

“Tell Congress you want sensible gun laws…”

“Tell Congress to protect our Second Amendment rights …”

None of it demands you get off your butt and do anything. Just sign and go on scrolling and looking at other people’s dinners and reading celebrity gossip.

But one thing you do accomplish when you take these “instant polls” or sign on to petitions that likely won’t ever be delivered, and even if they are, nobody’s going to act on them, is that you give your contact information to some marketing firm and your inbox is going to be inundated with requests for money.

That’s all they want. Your money. They’re not going to accomplish any policy change, but they have your information and they’re going to ask you for money every damn day.

Bernie needs $1 to make it to a million donors.

Mayor Pete will fight for you if you answer one question: Are you happy with your health care plan?

Elizabeth Warren needs to know whether you support consumer protections.

Sign the petition and tell Congress to protect Israel. Or Palestinians. Or Russian workers. Or the people of Hong Kong …

“Let’s put Gov. Inslee on the debate stage …”

I see dozens of them every day, and I like to comment: “I’m not giving you my contact information so you can use it to clog up my inbox with demands for money.”

I don’t answer instant polls and I don’t sign online petitions.

Neither should you.

These “polls” aren’t scientific and they’re useless as a result. And I’ve never heard of an online petition changing public policy. The only aim is to raise money, and they won’t stop, especially if you donate.

Now they know they have a live one, and they’ll tell their friends.

Have you ever tossed food to a single seagull at the beach? That gull will call all its friends, and before you know it, there are a dozen or more gulls flocking around you, trying to get at your lunch.

That’s how these marketers work. Suddenly, you have a dozen e-mails a day asking for you to sign petitions and donate money.

So, what should we do instead?

Show up.

Show up at your legislators’ offices with your demands for action.

Show up at events to learn more about the issues, so you know more than you’ll learn from clicking a yes or no button on Facebook.

Learn what you can about the issues you care about, about the pros and cons of policies and how they affect real people.

When ICE is in town, take groceries to families who are afraid to leave their homes.

When City Council wants to sell off a piece of public-owned land to a private developer, show up and demand the land stay in public hands, or if the sale is for the development of “affordable” housing, make sure that housing is truly affordable, not $1500 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Educate yourself and act on what you know, and then help others learn.

If you’re tempted to post a petition, find a fact sheet and post that instead.

Oh, and make sure you’re registered to vote, and then vote. If we all use the ballot, cheating is less likely to work for those who steal elections with voter suppression laws and gerrymandering.

You can check your voter registration status here: https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/. If you thought you were registered and you’re not, you’ve probably been purged and you need to re-register. Do it now so you don’t get screwed out of your vote on Election Day.

The instant polls and fake petitions are a distraction. Please treat them as such.

Guns are the problem

Guns are the problem.

You can deny it all you want, but that’s the truth. Guns kill people. Sure they have to be in the hands of someone, but you can’t have mass shootings without guns.

Take the guns out of the hands of these angry white racist misogynists and the carnage will stop. It really is that simple.

Someone commented to me yesterday that cars kill people too. The difference here is that guns are manufactured expressly for the purpose of killing, I told him. Cars are made for transportation and accidents happen. People drown in bathtubs, too. Big deal.

He tried to tell me guns have purposes other than killing people. What about hunting, he asked.

I told him my father always brought home dead animals from hunting, and if that’s doing it wrong, perhaps I’d better talk to other people in my family who hunt.

Also, hunters who want to eat what they hunt don’t use assault-style weapons because you can’t eat an animal that’s been shot with one.

The problem is guns.

If these angry white men couldn’t get their hands on guns, we wouldn’t have mass shootings.

We need to regulate guns to keep them out of the hands of men who have been convicted of domestic violence, men who threaten people who disagree with them on social media, men who are members of “incel” (involuntarily celibate) groups, men who strut about in public with their assault-style weapons slung from their shoulders, thrilled that others “respect” (really, fear) them and believing it somehow will make their penises bigger.

Because guns are the problem.

It is not mental illness, either. The VAST majority of people with mental illnesses don’t shoot anyone. In fact, they tend to commit fewer violent crimes. Women have mental illnesses, too, and at the same rate as men, if not higher, but we don’t shoot up Walmarts, theaters or anything else. And the rest of the world has pretty much the same level of psychiatric illness as we do, but they don’t have the mass shootings because they don’t have unfettered access to guns.

Every now and then you’ll read about a person with a knife who manages to kill a couple of people and injure a few more before being stopped, and the gun lovers will say, “See? Knives kill people too!”

But had the knife wielder had an assault-style rifle, the death toll would have been a whole lot higher.

The problem is guns in the hands of angry, racist white men who think they should own and control everything and everyone.

The problem is the racist pig squatting in the Oval Office, egging them on so that he can watch with unconcealed glee as people he wants us to see as enemies are slaughtered.

The problem is Republicans who won’t do anything about gun violence because peddling fear is what gets them elected again and again. Well, that and cheating.

The problem is that right-leaning judges have been pushed by the NRA to interpret the Second Amendment as unfettered access to high-powered military-grade weapons.

The Second Amendment actually says, ” A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Do you want to join a well regulated militia? You know, attend meetings and take gun-safety classes? Do military drills? Have supervision?

Probably not. These gun enthusiasts want unfettered access to guns they see as toys.

The problem is that guns are everywhere and angry white men love to use them in place of the giant penises they wish they had.

Time to move the Overton Window back to the center

If he’s the nominee, we’re in trouble.

Have you ever heard of the Overton Window? That’s the movable political “center.”

Back in the 1970s, the Democratic party stood for universal access to health care, a living wage and more. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was to be a program that would mostly end poverty in a single generation, but it was overwhelmed by the Vietnam War It was, however, a Democratic ideal, and Robert Kennedy would have continued those policies. The Republican Party platform at the time looked about like the Democratic Party platform does now.

Under Ronald Reagan, the conversation moved way to the right, and it continued to do so, fueled, at least in part by Fox News once it hit the airwaves. Suddenly, “liberal” was a dirty word and government was bad — always bad, no matter what. The Overton Window was parked squarely in front of conservative Republicans, and it has moved steadily to the right ever since.

The conversation kept moving rightward until today, the very things that were in the 1976 Democratic Party platform are considered “far-left,” or “socialist,” even though that’s exactly what the majority of Americans want.

Our two parties now represent 1960s-era Republicans and fascists, and both sit well to the right of center. Wall Street is trying to get the Democrats to put up another 1960s-era Republican against the fascist currently squatting in the Oval Office, and too many of my Democratic friends are rolling over and saying they’ll vote for that.

Sorry, but I’m not so sure I’m willing to do that again, and I know millions of others feel the same way. I’m not saying I won’t vote blue unless Bernie is the nominee, but it had better be someone who will work toward those same traditional Democratic values, because even if I get in line and vote for the moderate, as I did last time, millions of others will not.

A “moderate” (a 1960s-era Republican) will not win in 2020.

The DNC needs to understand that.Republican opinion writers are telling us we have to put up a moderate, but that’s just so David Brooks and his ilk will have somebody they can vote for. Well, I don’t give a damn how David Brooks and other moderate Republicans vote, I want a Democrat — a real Democrat, and I hope the DNC understands that I’m not in the minority.

I want health care and sensible gun laws and real action on climate change. I want private, for-profit prisons banned. I want minimum wage to be a living wage. I want prison camps for migrants and the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And the majority of Americans want those same things.

The ball is in your court, DNC. You can play to win or play to lose, but don’t blame me when Uncle Joe goes down in flames.

Stop denying your privilege. It’s truly offensive.

Last night, somebody shocked me by telling me I was talking “nonsense” when I insisted out current health care “system” is broken, and that we have to move to single-payer.

“We need to preserve our system,” she said, and proceeded to try and shame me into supporting Joe Biden or another “moderate” who’s beholden to the profit-mongers currently in charge.

I was appalled that anyone knowing how I lost my son to this mess would say that to me.

I told her she was talking privilege.

She has the privilege of being covered by an insurance plan she can afford, co-pays, deductibles and all.

She has the privilege of not needing immediate help that’s just unavailable because she can’t afford it.

She has the privilege of not having watched someone she loves more than life itself draw his last breath because nobody would help him.

She has the privilege of being able to wait for politicians get off their asses and do something about the 35 million Americans who have no insurance, and the millions more who have insurance with a deductible so high they can’t afford to use it.

She claimed she has no such thing as privilege, that she just wants people to be able to get health care.

But she can’t see that tens of millions of Americans are going without while she calls me stupid for wanting them to get immediate access.

She probably thinks we can wait a few years for the minimum wage to hit $15, too. But if you’re making $7.25 an hour, you can’t wait for that raise. You need that money now. If you think otherwise, your privilege is showing.

If you hold the people at our borders in contempt because they walked a thousand miles with their children to escape drug gangs — gangs that are the direct result of US drug policy — your privilege is showing.

If you think our policy of incarcerating people — non-citizens or citizens — in private, for-profit prisons, not feeding them enough (I know about conditions in private prisons because my brother is in one) and then “contracting” their labor out to the highest bidder, your privilege is showing.

If you think the people in Flint and other cities with lethal contaminants in their water can wait for it to be fixed, your privilege is showing.

If you think it’s OK to keep somebody in jail for months as they await trial for a nonviolent misdemeanor like falling asleep on a park bench, causing them to lose their jobs, housing and even their kids, just because they can’t come up with $250 cash bond, your privilege is showing.

If these things and other atrocities perpetrated by the fascists in Washington are OK, it’s because you have a warm bed, clean water, access to health care, reliable transportation, enough food — in other words, privilege.

If you think poor people are just lazy and only want a handout, your privilege is showing big time.

And if you’re white and male and you don’t see any problem with the way things are, you’re particularly privileged.

When you have such privilege and you deny it, I find that deeply offensive. When you call me stupid because you can’t see your privilege — even when it’s pointed out to you, you are even more despicable to me.

When you have such great privilege and you deny it, you are willfully ignorant, and there are few greater sins in my book.

I know it’s hard to recognize our own privilege, but we must if we are to move toward a just society for everyone, not just for you.

No more gradualism, no more excuses

New York Times photo

A “friend” came onto my Facebook page yesterday to explain to me why we need to fix health care gradually.

The first thing I did was ask whether she thinks a century is gradual enough, since it was Theodore Roosevelt who first proposed a single-payer health care system more than 100 years ago.

But then I thought about it and removed the post — and the friend.

This is a person who knows I lost my son to this broken system. Her post was immensely disrespectful, and before I removed the post, I asked whether it would take the death of a child of hers to make her understand how misguided her post on my timeline was.

And in the 11 1/2 years since my son died, another half million Americans have died the same way. That’s right, 500,000 — 45,000 a year, year in and year out. The Affordable Care Act helped for awhile, but now 70 percent of employer-sponsored plans have a deductible of $1,000 or more — some as high as $6,000 — not to mention co-pays and out-of-network charges. Even plans on the exchange are pricey unless you have a large subsidy. The year before I went on Medicare, my premiums were $1,300 for just me and the deductible was $3,000. My co-pay to see my regular doctor was $40, and a visit to a specialist was $75. When I needed outpatient surgery for a kidney stone, I was responsible for more than $6,000 of the $13,000 bill. And this was before our local hospital was sold to a for-profit corporation.

No one has studied how many insured Americans die because they can’t afford that kind of money. Remember that a recent survey showed the majority of Americans can’t afford an unexpected $800 expense. Since most deductibles now are more than $1,000, where does that put the average family?

I’ll tell you one thing, it puts them in a place where they can’t afford health care. Sure, they’re able to get the colonoscopy or the mammogram, but if it shows any irregularity, now what? Can you afford the tests? How about the treatment?

Nearly half of cancer patients have to wipe out their entire life savings for treatment — and that’s with insurance. One in three will go bankrupt.

Once every 12 minutes another American dies from lack of access to health care. I’m betting their families would rather not have waited for reform.

If you think you need to tell me why we should wait to fix health care, do me a favor and restrain yourself. I’ve heard all your arguments and I don’t need to hear them again. It only re-opens the wound of my son’s unnecessary death again and again and again.

I understand that you don’t know what it’s like to watch your child breathe his last, and I hope you never do. But you need to understand that hearing you say we can wait for health care means you don’t give a damn about any of these deaths, even though you say “I’m sorry for your loss.”

If you come onto my timeline to tell me why we can wait, you are most assuredly not sorry for my loss, or for anyone else’s.

I think enough people have died, and you’ll never convince me it’s OK to let more people die.

I think your excuses are lame, and a lot of them are lies designed to keep the oligarchs in charge of our health care.

I think you’ve probably not lost a child to this mess, and I sincerely hope you never do.

And I still think we need to fix this now. There are no more excuses.

Listen to the young people

I like Joe Biden personally, but that doesn’t mean he can win the presidency. Young people won’t vote for him, and they have to live with the consequences of this election a lot longer than I do.

Joe Biden won’t win.

You can argue with that all you want, scream bumper-sticker slogans at me, hate people who won’t give in to your demands — and Joe Biden still won’t win.

In fact, no “moderate” will get young people out to vote. Here’s why:

Young people are getting out of school with a mountain of debt and no real job opportunities. They know we need real change if they are to have any chance of the life my generation was handed.

But we Boomers are a selfish lot. It has always and only been about us. Give us the power to change America for the better, we said in the 1960s. Our parents’ generation balked at that, so we protested, promising we would fix everything if they just passed the baton to us.

Then 1980 came. We had graduated college, paid off a few thousand dollars in debt, bought homes and started to save for retirement. Suddenly, our attitude became “I got mine, get your own,” and huge numbers of us voted for Ronald Reagan to secure our holdings. God forbid we should help people who were less fortunate — we just accused them of being lazy while we watched Republicans crush unions and steal our nation’s wealth.

Now, we’re at the age our parents were in the 1960s and ’70s, and we’re even more determined to hold onto power. We don’t care that our so-called leaders are denying science to the point that they’re endangering the very planet we call home. We are nearing the point of the collapse of our entire ecosystem, and no matter how “clever” we are, we can’t survive that as a species.

But sure, let’s suck the last few drops of fossil fuel out of the planet and allow it to cross the threshold of our ability to survive. I don’t care how smart humans are, we can’t breathe methane, and we can’t survive a broken food chain.

Young people know all this. They know that if we continue on our current path for just a few more years, we will kill the entire human race, perhaps within their lifetimes.

They know a vote for a moderate is a vote to continue along the current path of everything-for-profit and damn the consequences.

They need health care, and moderates say we really can’t fix that. Gradualism is the key, here, they say. Well, a single-payer system was proposed by Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago. How’s that for gradualism? Oh, and more Americans die every damn day we don’t fix this — approximately a half million since my son died from this cause 11 years ago. But, yeah, what’s a few hundred thousand human beings?

Young people need a living wage, but moderates say we should raise it up to $15 over the course of five years, even though it would have been $23 now if it had kept pace with inflation. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, you need that money NOW, not in five years, when it will be worth even less.

Yeah, I know. You’re going to invoke the courts. They already have the courts. Mitch McConnell has been quietly stacking the courts for years. And a moderate who appoints moderates won’t fix that, either.

Young people look at all this and demand better. If we don’t give it to them in the form of a candidate who they’re willing to vote for, we will lose again, just as we did in 2016.

We Baby Boomers can continue to hold onto power while the entire planet crashes, or we can step aside and let the next generation take the reins. God knows they can’t screw it up any worse than we did.

Republicans want a moderate; the people want change

Migrants are gathered inside the fence of a makeshift detention center in El Paso, Texas in March. (Photo by Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

We’ve seen a number of writings by Republicans lately urging Democrats to run another “moderate.”

Here’s why we need to ignore them:

Moderate Republicans want to make the Democratic party their own because they can’t bring themselves vote for a fascist. That’s a good thing, but not for Democrats.

If we put up another moderate, we’ll get the same result: another loss. That’s because most Americans know we need real change and we need it now, not in another four or eight years. Young adults won’t vote for another moderate, and a lot of traditional Democrats won’t, either, so please stop telling me I’m dooming us because I refuse to pledge to “vote blue, no matter who.” That little bumper-sticker slogan was probably coined by a “moderate.”

Eighty-three percent of Americans want Medicare for all. Eighty-three percent. But none of the moderates will pursue that.

Our planet is suffering irreversible damage because of climate change. If we don’t so something drastic in the next decade, we face extinction because we can’t breathe methane, and methane levels are increasing at an alarming rate. A moderate won’t do anything radical because he or she is owned, or at least partly owned by fossil fuel interests.

Minimum wage NEEDS to be $15 or more an hour. A moderate won’t do that because his or her corporate overlords will forbid it.

We have a humanitarian crisis at our border, which is nothing more than a ramping up of existing policies put in place by a moderate. Yes, Obama was a moderate, and he deported more people than anyone before him. Obama created the camps, although they were nothing like what they have become. Still, I doubt a moderate will close them. Remember how Obama promised to close Gitmo? It’s still there.

As a result of this policy, human beings now are being rounded up and placed in conditions that we wouldn’t allow for animals. How long before we start killing some to make room for more?

We have a criminal thug in the Oval Office and the moderates in Congress do nothing to stop him.

The people offering this advice are REPUBLICANS looking out for their own interest, not ours. Where are your critical thinking skills, people? These are not “hard left” positions. These are mainstream positions, and we will not win back the Senate or the White House by embracing them.

We can’t endure another four years of fascist rule. The Republicans in the Senate have pushed through hundreds of right-wing judges, and another loss could corrupt our courts beyond repair.

Our deficit is rising precipitously and we can’t endure that for another four years.

Our air and water are dirtier than they’ve been in many decades.

Worst of all, we have lost our leadership position and any moral authority in the world.

A moderate won’t fix any of this. The attempt to get Democrats to run another moderate is nothing more than the 1 percent looking out for its own interests.

They’re scared because of the popularity of the true Democrats. Look at the party platform from 1976 and you’ll see the traditional values of the Democratic Party. You’ll also see they’re the same values being embraced by what Republicans are calling the “left wing” of the party, and by the majority of the American people.

Don’t fall for the lies of the Republicans and the oligarchy. Insist on a real Democrat to oppose the current administration and you’ll ensure a victory in 2020.

Still grieving after all these years

Mike being Mike. He was all about making people laugh.

I’ve spent the last month with family and close friends, which has done me a lot of good, but the conversations kept turning to all the losses among my family and friends this last year.

Beginning in mid-July with the sudden death of a lifelong friend, I have lost nine people — to cancer, to other long-term illnesses, to sudden illnesses, heart attacks and advanced age.

But last night, my son and I talked at length about my younger son, who died 11 years ago from lack of access to health care.

“I miss him a lot,” my son said. “Even now, after 11 years. Sometimes it seems longer, but more often, it seems like just yesterday I heard him make some inappropriate wise crack and then laugh.”

Danny is still in touch with some of the people Mike helped to get and stay sober, and most maintain their sobriety. They miss his wisdom, compassion, kindness and his wildly inappropriate sense of humor.

We wish he could have lived to know his niece’s daughter, Reaghan, to see his nieces and nephew grow up, to watch his beloved Yankees play, to steal all the blueberries.

Reaghan and I picked about half a pint of blueberries yesterday, but then we bought another pint so she could just eat them with cream and a little sugar — the way Mike used to — and I could still have enough for a peach and blueberry cobbler.

Even after 11 years, Danny and I cried over his absence. Even after 11 years, too many things bring me to tears and my grief is still as raw as the day he died.

After 11 years, some people tell me, I should be over it.

These are people who haven’t lost a child. These are people who’ve never had the breath knocked out of them by a flashback of sitting at their child’s bedside, wishing they could be the ones dying, because living without your child is worse than dying.

It is a heartbreak that doesn’t end, and I don’t particularly want it to.

Someone gave me a book a year ago that supposedly helps with grief. I’m sure it would have helped when my sister died, but not my son. The first chapter was all about how this book would help me get over my grief. I closed it and returned it to my friend.

“Did it help?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said. “It made me realize that there is no help. It made me understand that this is normal now because a piece of me is missing and can’t be replaced.”

There is nothing wrong with not getting over the death of a child. It is the very worst thing that can happen to a person, and you just don’t heal from that.

Our children are supposed to outlive us; that’s the natural order of things. Most of us go through life blissfully unaware that our children really might die before we do, and when it happens, we never recover.

And too often, people who think they’re being helpful say the wrong thing.

“He’s in a better place now …” “God needed another angel …” You have another child (or grandchildren) …” “He’d want you to get over it.”

That last one is a killer for me. I know my son. He knew me well enough to realize I would never heal, and he encouraged me to use my pain to work for change. He also loved being the center of attention. I can almost feel his presence every time I tell his story.

A childhood friend lost her son a couple of years ago to the opioid menace, and that very night, she was talking to the TV cameras about opioids and addiction.

My friend, Cindy Sheehan has used to pain from her son’s death in Iraq to fuel a peace movement.

Another friend in Minnesota, Nicole Holt-Smith has turned her son’s death from insulin deprivation (even with insurance, he couldn’t afford what he needed) into a movement to cap drug prices and/or allow people to buy insulin in Canada.

Still another friend whose son was murdered has spent decades working for a nonprofit that mentors at-risk youth to prevent them from entering lives of crime.

This is our therapy. Don’t ever tell us to stop because we can’t. This is what gives our lives meaning. This work for justice is the manifestation of our grief, and we don’t want to get over it.

If you want to know the right thing to say to a parent whose child has died, try this: “I’m so sorry. Tell me about him.”

Talking about our children keeps them alive to us. When my stepbrother, Marc, died in 1980, people avoided talking about him to my stepmother, who, at a family gathering, finally said, “I need to talk about him. It might make me cry, but if we don’t talk about him, if we don’t remember him and laugh about his jokes and cry about his absence, then he really is dead.”

When others experience the loss of a child, I have to be honest with them. I have to tell them they won’t get over it, that it won’t get easier, but that, with time, they will become more adept at living with the grief.

So, if you know someone who has lost a child, please, please don’t suggest they get over it, move on, be happy again … It really isn’t helpful at all.

I’m told July is Bereaved Parents’ Month. It seems like a good time to educate people about what we live with and how they can help by not making it worse.

This has nothing to do with saving babies’ lives

Don’t kid yourself. The abortion debate isn’t about saving babies’ lives.

The attempt to criminalize abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, is about enslaving women.

It’s about taking control of our lives away from us.

It’s about keeping us in poverty and forcing our children to fight the endless wars of the uber-wealthy.

The policies of the people who call themselves “pro-life” are as anti-life as it gets.

The irony of their position is that they’re thrilled when I decide to continue with a pregnancy that could result in a child with serious birth defects, but once that child is here, they refuse to treat his medical condition, refuse to insure him, turn him away when he’s sick and refuse to even see him until they can make a profit from his chemotherapy. But before they’ll allow him access to treatment, he has to leave his wife because she has a newer model car and some tuition money in the bank. When he applies for disability because he’s now too sick to work, we make him wait 37 months and he’s  dead nine days before his first check comes.

Then these same “pro-life” people want to know whether he was working when he got sick, as though he somehow didn’t deserve saving if he’d been unemployed, as though he were morally inferior and didn’t deserve for anyone to fight for his life.

Sure, you’ll stop me in the parking lot of Planned Parenthood and scream insults at me, no matter the reason for my visit there, and accuse me of murder, and in the next breath trash the life of my son because he’s somehow not deserving of that life.

If you think it’s a life worth saving before birth but you don’t care about it after it’s born, you are the worst kind of hypocrite.

You want to insist I bear a child whose life ends with three years of unspeakable suffering because your “pro-life” policies care nothing for him or his plight? That’s not going to happen. I’m going to fight for women’s right to control our own bodies, plan our own families, make our own choices.

Now I get men telling me how precious that life is while it’s still in the womb, as though it were their lives at stake during pregnancy and delivery, as though they’re going to help raise it, pay me a decent wage so I can feed, clothe and shelter it, make sure it gets a decent education, stays safe from harm …

They want to be able to walk away if a woman gets pregnant because it’s her fault, as though their sperm had nothing to do with the pregnancy.

Or, they want to be able to rape me and then take over my life because the child deserves a father in its life, even if that father is a violent criminal. They want to force me to share parenting with a person who already has demonstrated that he’s not fit to raise a child.

They want my 11-year-old daughter to bear the child of a rapist and then have him in her life forever.

And then they romanticize it by finding a woman who had her rapist’s child and loves that baby. Awwww. Aren’t the rest of us craven murderers if we disagree?

Well, I loved my son. I tried everything I knew to get him the care he needed, but since he was born already, nobody cared.

Where were you “pro-life” people then? Where was your loving concern as my precious son lay dying? Where is your advocacy for the 45,000 people who die the same way every damn year? We’re closing on a half million deaths from lack of access to health care in the 11 years since my son died. Why do I hear nothing but crickets from you on this pro-life issue?

I’ll tell you why: You don’t care about human life, you only care about control of women’s bodies, that’s why.

And if this isn’t about controlling women, why are these same people attacking access to contraception?

The “Christian” patriarchy wants us to believe sex is a sin for women, but not for men. We women are seductresses and nothing more, they think. They have to control us because we can’t control our urges and we cause them to lose control of their own.

I know this to be true because I was raised among these people. I was taught very deliberately that I was less than a man, that my abuse at the hands of my grandfather — which began when I was just 3 — was my own fault, that I somehow seduced that poor man. They are hate-filled and despicable.

If you want me to believe you’re pro-life, then show up on the front lines of the fight for health care, a living wage, voting rights, mitigating climate change … Get arrested with me while trying to talk to a legislator about the importance of people’s lives after they’ve exited the birth canal.

Otherwise, perhaps you should just admit that you are not pro-life, you’re simply pro-fetus and pro-control of women.

But remember this: Women will rise up. We will not go back to enslavement or forced childbirth. We will learn ways to induce our own abortions, just as we always have.

Some of us will die because of your backward, amoral policies, just as we always have. But you’ve proven already that our lives mean nothing to you, so I don’t expect you to care about that.

 

 

 

‘What are you gonna do?’

Sherri White-Williamson, a specialist in energy regulation and law, who is retired from the EPA, now works to make all out energy safer and renewable, issued a challenge to everyone on the Poor People’s Campaign Truth and Poverty Bus Tour to go home and DO something.

In the three years my son battled cancer, he often played the Cancer Card.

What that meant was if he wanted something, or if he didn’t want to do something, he would whine, “But I have cancer!”  Then he would laugh, whether he got his way or not.

In the days before his death, he told me I was about to get a card that would be hard to top — the Dead Kid Card.

“I don’t want it,” I said. “I want nothing to do with it.”

He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter what you want. It’s there. It’s being dealt as we speak. What I want to know is what are you gonna do with it.”

I told him I didn’t know and he shook his head again.

“Nope, I want to know. What are you gonna do?”

I thought for a moment and told him I will work for access to health care for everyone. Real access, not a high-deductible insurance policy that just puts money in the pockets of the 1 percent, but real, meaningful access.

He sank back into his pillow and smiled.

“Good. I approve. You have my blessing,” he said. “Go get ’em.”

Eleven years later, I’m still working on it.

Last week, I went with some of my fellow activists in the NC Poor People’s Campaign on the National Emergency Truth and Poverty Bus Tour across the state to visit people affected by poverty.

We saw people doing, including the first homeless/formerly homeless Street Medic Team, based here in Asheville. We met homeless activists in Charlotte, several of whom got on the bus and traveled with us.

We met environmental activists in Robeson, Scotland and Duplin counties. One of them was Sherri White-Williamson, who retired from the Environmental Protection Agency and now works across Eastern NC as an activist fighting the deforestation causing catastrophic flooding, the proliferation of industrialized hog and poultry farming and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other fossil fuel enterprises.

Sherri spoke to us in Robeson County and again in Duplin, and she told us to go home and do something.”

“You’re all excited now, enthusiastic about working to improve things,” she told us. “But coming here and learning what’s happening is not enough. You have to go home and do something.

“What are you gonna do?

In the 11 years since my son breathed his last, somewhere near a half million Americans have died from lack of access to care.

I worked for the Affordable Care Act, even though I was uncomfortable leaving insurance companies in the mix because I feared they would work to sabotage the law — which is exactly what has happened.

So, I continue to work to educate people about why we need to do what every other so-called developed country has done — find a way to get access to health care to everyone.

But I can’t work in a vacuum. Health care is not the only issue we need to address because if we get health care to everyone and we don’t fix the environmental devastation or raise the minimum wage, stop the endless wars or fix voter suppression, we’re still screwed.

We need activists for this fight. We need people to work with us.

We as a nation need you to pick your issue or issues and join the fight.

We don’t need online petitions because they never, ever, ever result in any change. Never. Sitting at your computer and typing in your name, e-mail address and phone number does nothing more than give some political hack your contact information so they can inundate you with requests for money.

Donating to a cause is great — the Poor People’s Campaign could sure use some financial help, as could any number of other causes — but these are perilous times and we need people to be in the streets.

We need people who can register voters and educate people on the issues — God knows the corporate media don’t peddle much beyond propaganda.

We need people to run for office — school board, city council, county commission, state legislature — and work for real change.

We can’t do this if people just stay home and go along to get along.

We need you in this fight because this is a fight for our very existence as a species.

What are you gonna do?

Think about it. We don’t have a whole lot of time left.

 

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