When will we stop pretending this is normal?

If we don’t act now, we sentence the planet to death./NASA image

While we’re all going about our daily business as though everything were normal, a petty dictator is amassing power in Washington and dismantling the Constitution.

While you’re at work, he’s filling lifetime judicial seats with cronies loyal only to him, thanks to an equally hate-filled and corrupt Senate Majority Leader.

While you’re running errands, he’s covering up his illegal activities and disobeying subpoenas from Congress.

All of our social compacts are being broken, our confidence betrayed.

He’s enacting policies he knows will exacerbate climate catastrophe.

He’s locking children in cages at the border and refusing them vaccines and medical help.

He’s starting to round up homeless people and talking about rounding up people with mental illnesses instead of raising the minimum wage, getting help for people with mental illnesses or doing anything about the unfettered access to guns that the NRA wants on the streets so it can make more money.

This administration is holding people in cages, forcing toddlers to attend immigration hearings alone — no parents, no attorneys, just the tiny toddler and the judge.

ICE is training more and more agents while the ones already out there flout the law by detaining people they have no right to round up in the first place. American citizens with Latin-sounding names are being denied passports or having them revoked. American citizens have been held in camps for weeks on end with no idea what’s happening to them. One young man had agreed to be deported just to get out of the detention camp when his case was discovered and he was freed.

People are dying in these camps and now the petty dictator talks about using community police to help round up homeless people to be placed in similar camps.

Still, we go about our business as though everything is normal while he and his cronies drum up support for another war-for-profit. Then they’ll recruit poor people with the promise of free college when you get back — if you get back — from however many times they can deploy you to the combat zone.

It’s called the poverty draft, and if you’re above needing that to look forward to a decent life, you still ought to care.

Meanwhile, women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, labor rights and more are being eroded at an incredible pace.

Striking auto workers are being denied their health care. All workers are being denied a living wage. In some states, government workers are denied collective bargaining rights.

Regulations that protect us at work, home and play are being overturned and we have no recourse in the courts because they’ve stacked the courts with their own people.

Doesn’t any of this bother you?

I met a man who was an activist in the Philippines during the time of Ferdinand Marcos, and he told me he thinks most Americans are still too comfortable and still in denial of what’s happening.

If ever there was a classic case for impeachment, it is this one, this time, this president. But Democrats in the House and Senate still worry whether it’s politically expedient, when they should worry more about the state of the Constitution, which, by the way spells out impeachment as the job of Congress in cases such as this.

The Amazon is on fire in a politically motivated attack against the indigenous peoples who were there first and against the Earth itself.

We allow our politicians to scoff at environmental activists and others who are working for a better world, and their lack of action could sentence us all to death within a couple of generations.

An election isn’t going to fix any of this, especially when both political parties are in the pocket of the 1 percent. It won’t matter whether you go along with the overly simplistic “vote blue, no matter who,” you’re going to lose. The fascists are firmly entrenched and we need to take to the streets.

Too many of us still go to work, run errands, take vacations and otherwise live as though there were no emergency, but there is, and the entire planet is in peril.

We don’t have any more time to take care of climate change gradually. We are on the precipice of economic and social collapse on a scale not seen since the end of the Bronze Age.

Tomorrow, I’ll join millions in a strike and for climate action; on Saturday I’ll take part in a public event to promote peace. On Sept. 30, I’ll march in Greensboro with the Poor People’s Campaign.

On days when I’m not taking action, I will continue to write to legislators, to call and visit them and let them know that I see them and I know how they’re voting.

I likely will do more civil disobedience.

I do this because I have great-grandchildren and I want them to live.

The Equal Rights Amendment is back

ERA button

I rejoined the National Organization for Women when the US Supreme Court decided employers could deny women access to contraception, as well as abortion.

Obviously, they want women at home, bearing baby after baby after baby because a few religious extremists think that’s the way life should be for everyone, and if they’re denied their “religious freedom,” they will scream that they’re being persecuted.

It seems we’re all supposed to be the family from 19 Kids and Counting, even though most of us could never support that size family and God knows these same people who pushed for this Supreme Court decision don’t care a bit about our children after they’re born.

I was appalled at the walking back of our right to control our own bodies and reproduction.

The thing is, we never actually had that right. In fact, the only right women are granted in the Constitution is the right to vote. All our other “rights” are granted at the pleasure of the men for whom the Constitution was written.

I believed it back in the 1970s and I believe it now; we need the Equal Rights Amendment to have the same rights in all other things as men now enjoy.

They are free to pass laws governing our bodies and our ability to plan our families and careers unless we are granted equal rights under the Constitution, and you know they’re not going to be fair to women when they won’t even let us in on the discussion.

Monday night in Raleigh, state Rep. Carla Cunningham announced at a gathering of NC Women United she would introduce the Equal Rights Amendment into the NC House, most likely next week. Sen Terry Van Duyn said she would be one of the primary sponsors in the state Senate.

The Equal Rights Amendment was written by suffragist Alice Paul and introduced into the US Congress in 1923. It passed in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. Only three more states need to ratify the amendment, although there is one more hurdle: Congress must vote to remove the five-year time limit that was set in 1972.

I know the atmosphere in this country is decidedly anti-woman right now, but we women can change that. There are more of us than there are men, and we tend to vote in larger numbers.

So, what we need is a coordinated effort to oust those who would send us back to the 19th century. We need to educate all girls and women about the importance of voting, and we need to get them registered and to the polls.

If you are anti-abortion, that’s fine. But if you think it’s OK to tell a woman she has no right to prevent pregnancy and then say rape can be a beautiful thing or that a woman won’t get pregnant from rape unless she enjoys it, I think we should part ways right here and now.

It’s time to give women the same guarantees as men to the rights granted by the Constitution. It won’t mean we have to share bathrooms (one of the more common arguments against the ERA in the 1970s) or showers at the gym. It won’t mean men have fewer rights; it only means women will have equal rights.

So, it’s back. Let’s work together to get it passed.

Happy Labor Day, courtesy of American workers

This could have been my grandmother and her sister near the turn of the 20th century in a Rhose Island textile mill.

My great-grandparents came to this country in the mid-1800s, escaping the great Hunger in Ireland. They were luckier than many; they lived to get on a ship and get here.

My grandparents, born into poverty in the 1880s, never finished elementary school. My grandmother taught herself to read and write and later taught my grandfather. They left school in second grade to go to work because their families needed their income to survive.

As children, they worked in the textile mills of Rhode Island and Connecticut. The noise of the machines cost them their hearing — both needed hearing aids by the time they were in middle age. They worked seven days a week, 12-hour days.

Mill owners loved having children as employees because they were paid less, and their little hands could reach into the machinery and untangle threads caught up in the works. It didn’t matter that children’s hands were mangled — or even that children died. There were always more to replace the ones who were lost.

My in-laws landed in Pennsylvania when they came to this country from Eastern Europe and they worked the coal mines. My father-in-law lost the tip of his finger in an accident and was sent back to work that same day with the finger bandaged. The men of these northeastern Pennsylvania coal towns didn’t live long. They died in mining accidents and from black lung disease, and their employers didn’t care because there were always more to replace the ones who died.

These horrible working conditions happened just a generation or two before me. I remember the stories from my grandparents. My grandmother couldn’t even vote as a young woman, so she had no power to change things other than to hope the men in her life would vote for people who would make conditions better.

Most of us alive today have no direct connection to those times, and the 1 percent are counting on that as they try to abolish all the gains made by our grandparents, many of whom died in the fight for fair labor laws.

We stand at a crossroads in this election year. We can vote to reaffirm those laws, or we can vote for people who wish to do away with minimum wage laws and crush the few unions that are left.

I plan to vote for the rights of workers to make a living wage and to have the protections my grandparents fought so hard to gain for me.

Enjoy your holiday and remember how it came to be. Remember that our forebears lived in mill towns and were paid in company scrip that couldn’t be spent anywhere but at the company store, where prices were just high enough to keep you in debt and unable to leave.

Remember that people could be fired — or killed — for trying to organize for safer and more humane working conditions.

Our ancestors went through hell to make a better world for us. Let’s not hand it back to the 1 percent.

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