The Friday Night Drop

This is a term used by journalists for the “after 5” or “closing time” release of some sort of news or press release on a Friday night.  Either actual fluff pieces that mean nothing but fill space over the weekend or something like the Executive Order on Immigration & Refugees of last Friday night.  That was the other kind of drop, the one that is supposed to lie there, take effect without anyone being the wiser as a change is made to policy or personnel that we, as citizens, are not supposed to notice much because we’d probably not approve.

How things have changed, and thank goodness for that!  This past Friday’s drop was not seen as much until people either arrived at airports expecting to pick up incoming passengers or arrived only to be turned around by DHS or CBP agents.  Then people took to social media and their phones.  And we all, I hope, saw what happened next.

Ordinary people rushed to airports all over the country as the time zones crossed the US and more and more incoming passengers were detained, deported or who knows what happened to them at this time.  The lists demanded of the government, by the courts, have yet to be fully produced.

Yes, the courts, our 3rd arm of government and one of the checks and balances in our system.  So, the lawyers streamed in, pro bono no less!  So did their staff, typists, translators, and even more ordinary folks. And the judges, bless them for staying late or early, depending on where.  One interesting point, ALL of the judges who found against the EO on immigration were women!  New sheroes in the lexicon of legalese.  But what is the deal with sworn officers in CBP/DHS/TSA etc. actively ignoring those orders?  Could we do that?  Ordinary people just telling a federal judge to “get off we only answer to the White House”?  I’m sure that’d go over like a lead balloon and jail would be the least of our problems.

Also interesting is the fact that, whilst the country was going a bit bananas over the totally incompetent roll-out, enforcement and disregard for the law as interpreted by the courts, DJT had dinner with his son-in-law, 2 generals and Bannon.  After dinner, or maybe during, no one knows, the order was given to go ahead with a mission that killed an 8 year old AMERICAN CITIZEN.  Yes, she was related to other Americans, also killed by our government a few years ago, but she was a citizen. We, yes ALL of us, were responsible for killing her father, because we didn’t like what he said.  You read it correctly, it was his free speech we had a problem with. He disagreed with our policies and so, he had to go. No charge, no trial, just dead.  Illegal as hell, but dead is dead, no appeal from that.  Oh, and then we killed her brother a few weeks later, “by mistake”.  He wasn’t in trouble other than by famililial bonds, but he’s dead too.  No charge, no trial, just dead.  Same problem, no appeal.  We killed her because, as “collateral damage”, she was “caught in the cross fire”.  Doesn’t matter, she’s dead.  Who cares right?  From a “terrorists family”.  Just like DJT promised us.  Her whole family is dead. Except for her grandfather, who had to identify her body. He’s the only reason we know about her or the other civilian dead.  And to make sure that no one will ever know how many civilians, especially woman and children we killed, we did something anathema to Muslims, we burned the compound down with the bodies in it.

America, now is the time to look in the mirror and ask yourself some important questions.  Is this who we are?  We get upset when the doors are slammed in people’s faces as they legally come into our country because it is against the law!  How upset are we that our government is killing American Citizens overseas?  Not even talking about green card or visa holders, simply citizens by birth or blood, like a lot of us.  Will we only be upset when a journalist who takes the White House to task is ignored?  What about if they just vanish?  What if it’s your teacher, mayor, priest or someone you know gets snatched from their home or office because of what they said, posted, wore or tweeted? And what if it’s on a Friday night and you have plans?  Where is the line?  Yeah, that line, the one you have to decide which side you’re on……sooner rather than later.

 

PS: Those Australian refugees were specifically mentioned as being exempt from the Friday last EO. So I wonder why DJT yelled at the Aussie PM? Could it be DJT’s an idiot with the attention span of a mayfly?  Or did he not know what he signed….again?

 

 

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The Bad Old Days

I had a heck of a time coming up with a title for this post, and because that is usually the first thing the muses drop on me, it’s been a rough start but it came in its’ own time.  And now it’s time.

I’m lucky, I have had the protection of Roe v. Wade for my entire reproductive life as have my daughters, at least up until now.  My older sisters didn’t and my granddaughter might not, so it is for them I write this.

Growing up we lived in a fairly small house and since there were 4 girls and 1 boy, guess who got to share a room?  My poor older sisters are much older than I and had to put up with toddlers on up in “their” room.   One good thing about this was I got to listen to their whispers after the lights went out.  Some things I didn’t understand until later on in my teenage years, but I heard them as a pre-teen and they sounded a bit scary because my sisters sounded scared and they weren’t scared of much of anything. Or so I thought.

We all worked from a young age, but the money went to the household for the most part. As we grew, we were expected to also buy necessary things for ourselves out of whatever pay we earned, so spending money was a hot issue.  I often heard, in the night whispers, that Sherry, Gina, Shelly, Katie, Audrey etc. needed X amount of money to “get to Mexico” or to “solve her problem”.  I had no idea why my sisters would pay for someone else to go someplace they’d never been or to solve someone else’s problem, whatever it might be. The muted chatter about gas mileage, whose car was able to make it that far and who to trust with the “real reason” they were “going camping” or “sleeping over” or whatever ruse they were going to use sounded like planning a spy caper.  I was captivated by the incredibly sophisticated planning that went on and listened closely as I thought it was some very grown up thing I was in on…it was.

What I was in on was the planning and actions of desperate young women who’d found themselves pregnant in a time when that alone would get you expelled from high school in my Southwestern state.  The actions taken to “solve that problem” held even higher penalties if you were caught. Arrest, jail, public humiliation, sterilization (accidental or intentional) and death.  And women died.  I can bear witness to that.  Sepsis from trying it on your own, sepsis from the “doctoro”, ruptured cervix and uterus, uncontrollable bleeding along with other causes of death that no young woman should suffer.  And there was another COD that those that had no money, friends with cars, friends of any kind, that along with the system that told them how horrible and evil they were for having sex let alone getting pregnant out of wedlock pushed them towards, COD Suicide.  And now, it’s about to happen again.

Donald Trump, in his rush to sign anything put in front of him, signed what is known as the “Mexico City gag rule”.  This rule, first promulgated by Regan, makes it illegal for US taxes to go to ANY non-governmental institution here or overseas that even speaks or has literature about abortion in its’ clinic.  But this time, it’s not just those clinics that have family planning or contraception services that are bound by the rule.  It’s any clinic that does anything having to do with maternal health, HIV/AIDS, and zika.  Why? Because clinics usually do family planning/maternal health as only a part of their mission.  Imagine being in Brazil, a nominally Catholic country, when the zika virus hit.  Where were they telling women to go?  The family planning/maternal health clinics.  Same goes for HIV/AIDS testing in countries around the world. Go to the clinic, which, if you have one in your area, does everything, including abortions if not precluded by law or religion. And now, you can’t. And the defunding of Planned Parenthood in that order will make the same thing true here in the United States.  An estimated 20,000 women, maybe more will die each year if we are forced back into the bad old days.  Women die today due to the rules and regulations in this country that have made getting an abortion that is LEGAL nearly impossible.  Mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, permission slips or court judgements combined with lack of funds and transportation to the few clinics available kill women every year.  And that is just for the medical abortions done with pills or injections. Clinics that offer surgical abortions are scarcer and more heavily regulated than in the past.  The St. Louis Planned Parenthood Clinic does surgical abortions along with all the other health issues PP addresses for both women and men. S The whole point is to make it just next to impossible to get a safe, legal abortion.

As an example: The St. Louis Planned Parenthood Clinic does surgical abortions along with all the other health issues PP addresses for both women and men. It is the ONLY surgical clinic for 100’s of miles in any direction.  So, you somehow gather bus fare ($89.00 per person) arrive in St. Louis after 8 hours and find a convenient hotel room for the mandatory stay over.  The hotels close to the clinic run anywhere from $100.00 to $159.00 per night.  You get up in the morning and go to your initial appointment.  You have to wade through the people praying and protesting, but there are sometimes volunteers to help you across the parking lot.  You go in, have your initial work up and, if you are really lucky, the mandatory ultrasound on that day.  Then you go back to your hotel. The next day, return to the clinic for “counseling” about either the tablets or pre-op for surgical abortion. Back to hotel.  Back to the clinic and you get the pills and go back to your hotel.  You return to the clinic and, if all is progressing as normal, they may release you to go home.  If not, back to the hotel again.  Another visit next day and you’re discharged and take the bus ride home.  Let’s look at that for a second: $89.00 bus ticket, at least 4 and usually more, but we’ll use 4-night hotel at $100.00 per night and we’re already at $489.00 without food, transport to the clinic, friend to hold your hand, child care, etc.  Oh, and I forgot, even with sliding fees, it’s $429.00 for the pills!  So we’re at $1000.00 minimum!  No one I know has that much money saved, let alone can just spend it on anything they want. Yes, credit cards are an option, but think about explaining that to your parents or partner if they are anti-choice. It is a fact, that the whole point of all these rules and regulations surrounding our bodies, is to make it just next to impossible to get a safe, legal abortion.

Many women and not a few men think that women have equal rights under the law.  We don’t!  All we’ve been protected by, in all areas of our lives, are rules and regulations that can be overturned, recinded or revoked.  The only thing that will ever protect us and make us full citizens under the law is the Equal Rights Amendment.  Yes, those 14 words that can solve so many womens issues around lack of parity.  And the good news is, it’s not dead yet.  There was never a deadline imposed on the States to ratify it, so if we can get 3 more state Legislatures to ratify it, we can take it back to Congress. With 34 Republican governors, it will be harder than it was in the bad old days, but it’s not impossible.  Look at what just blossomed in D.C. last Saturday.  A march of women like the world has never seen.  If you are one who marched for women’s health issues, join the fight for Planned Parenthood and the ERA.  It’s time to make sure the bad old days never threaten our lives again.

 

Women’s Work

In prehistoric times, the gatherer part (women and children) of the hunter/gatherer culture brought in over 80% of the calories consumed. In those earlier times, we were the midwife and herbalist that stood at the doors of life and death i.e. the doctors, nurses and pharmacists. We were the ones who stood up for the less fortunate or able in a community and made it work i.e. social workers. As arbiters of conflict and resolutions, we made the world safe and saner for all i.e. diplomats, mediators and lawyers. Cottage industry was the ONLY industry there was for millennium. Baking, weaving, herding, milking, sowing and reaping, the list goes on and on. Women were not only necessary, they were absolutely critical to the survival of the group.

Then the world changed, and our “unpaid work” became that thing called “women’s work” and subject to a sharp discount in a patriarchal world. But some of us still filled those necessary niches . If we were not cut out for a life at the hearth, we might become religious and sort out some kind of career as a teacher or nurse in that mileau. Laywomen evolved into “church ladies”, the ones we all depend on to cook the funeral meats, sew a layette, sit with a sick congregant etc. Today, in many areas of the world, these women still exist and are still absolutley vital to their community.

As time has passed, the large group of women doing the “soft” often unpaid jobs necessary to stabilizing a community have become a smaller and smaller group and sometimes it is down to one, lone woman putting herself out there for the greater good.

Today, as we have become more and more industrialized, the women doing the vital community building work have become known as the “go to gal”.  She’s the “sister” we call when something needs doing and the community knows this sister will get it done if at all possible. She is also the one most likely to get out in front of any project, movement, cause or group and take the brickbats thrown for what they are: claptrap, criticism, and crap chucking. Sooner or later, others will join with her because what she does is so critical and, horrors, it is the right thing to do. Sometimes, due to our systemic inhalation of hierarchy, we women, well, we can crush each other trying to emulate the current “power over” motif instead of the more natural “power with” which allows all women to do what they are best at in a given situation.

In my opinion, we should not strive to gain credit for what we do and we should not force others to follow whatever path we have chosen for ourselves. Conversely, just because we see how one sister is doing something great, this is not an excuse to go out and do a power grab. Picking apart someone’s project and then rebuilding it just so you get the credit is the most unfeminist thing we can do to each other. Instead, honor your mothers, sisters, and daughters in the struggle for humanity in community. Offer help if you truly mean to help and not to co-opt her work. If the woman says “no thanks”, then watch her back for her and support her but don’t take over for her. Everyone has a place and there is a place for everyone.

Now more than ever, women and what they do matter. With a sexual assailant creeping towards the White House and his Republican fellow travelers slavering at the gate to chop, rend and destroy not only the few rights we still have, but with the intent to make our lives and the lives of those we love even more difficult, we must stand with and for ourselves and humankind itself.  Now is the time to help each other, not play the hierarchy game like crabs in a barrel.H

 

~for Heaven IA

A Sign of the Times

bumpers_auction_collage

While I may seem like I’d be one of those political types that has a moving collage of bumper stickers for a car, or a yard that sprouts campaign signs every spring, I am not.  In fact, I’ve had one 3″x 3″ sticker on my car for 5 years now and one sign in the yard since we moved in two years ago.  I am telling you this because the yard sign led us to become involved in an inadvertent social experiment during the last half of 2016.

We bought our place as a stripped-out foreclosure HUD home. In our case, “as is” meant we had to do a lot of work to do before our side of the duplex was livable and the other side was nice enough to rent out.  We put a lot of time, effort and money into the rental half, so that it would be a nice place to live and, hopefully, we’d be able to attract long-term tenants.  In other words, it’s a lot nicer than our side, even though we rent it out at a below market rate – as all we need out of it is the note payment and natural gas costs, not a profit.  We decided not to charge an application fee, as that can be an economic hurdle for a lot of working class families, which were the kinds of applicants we were trying to attract.  After all, our city charges every tenant $150.00 for an occupancy inspection and permit, which we thought was already enough when combined with any deposits or utilities initiation fees. We listed the rental all over the Internet, as well as with local housing agencies, non-profits and advocacy groups in the area, and sat back to wait for interested renters.

The phone calls and emails from interested parties started to come in, and I began to make appointments for people to come by and see the duplex. I’d explain we were willing to work with folks on security deposits, we didn’t do a credit check or criminal background check, pets were ok with a vet certificate, etc. From the initial interest, I didn’t think it’d take long to get a renter into the place.

I was wrong.  We had some lookie-loos during open houses and a few people who would say they were interested but never called back or responded to further emails.  I did begin to notice we’d had a lot of broken appointments and, after a while, I took to calling people who’d made appointments to remind them of the appointment and the address.  And still, after two months, no renters.

What on Earth could be wrong with what we were offering? Aside from the totally renovated interior, the private mailbox, private access, off-street parking, patio and fenced yard, what more could we possibly do to attract renters?  Heck, we were supplying a stove and refrigerator, something that is very uncommon around here for some stupid reason.  So, we dropped the price by $50.00, putting us out of pocket but hoping to come in under some unknown bureaucratic price point.  More emails, more phone calls, and more broken appointments.

By month four it was getting a bit weird.  We checked our “curb appeal” and since our house number is not easily visible from the street, I took to waiting outside in the yard for folks to show up for their appointments.  We also began to patrol both sides of our street for trash each week.  Being semi-rural, you tend to get stuff blown from across fields all over the little neighborhood we call home, so we fixed that. We have great neighbors, no crime and kids are welcome and safe here too.  And still nothing but more wasted evenings and weekends waiting for no-shows.

After 3 months more, in a last ditch move, I paid a landscaper to come and professionally do the yard and shrubs one week.  And, lo and behold, that weekend we had a bunch of people show up, in fact,  every single appointment showed up to see the apartment. The only ones from this crop who showed initial interest, turned out to either want to get a better deal (which we could not do as we have bills to pay also) or would not have been able to get an occupancy permit, as their family was too large for the apartment, as per city code. Also, we were offering affordable housing with a no-cost, blind application, not wanting to become slum lords with people stuffed into too small an apartment.

The next week, I noticed that the landscaper had moved the sign in my front yard and had not put it back in its original position.  After I’d parked, I moved it back,  and the cycle of broken appointments began again.  I spoke to my son after that initial burst of renewed interest waned, and mentioned how the broken appointments seemed to follow a pattern that I planned on looking into by going back over the lists of emails, phone numbers, and kept v. broken appointments.  This took me a few more weeks and the results led me to see a pattern.  I thought I might be wrong or reading something into the data, so I moved the sign back to where the landscaper had put it for a week, and then back to its original site.  Sure enough, the pattern was constant and showed trends based on race, but it was not what you might think.

You see, I come from both Anglo-American and Native American stock, and I look like my father not my mother.  If you see me sitting and waiting, you see a very tall, very blonde, very pale woman.  And, according to those I called and asked about the broken appointments, I gathered that some prospective tenants assumed a white woman wouldn’t rent to them.  On the other hand, if you see the sign first, I am not at ALL who you’d expect to be showing you around.  I noticed some people turning around at our end of the street and was able to flag them down. I’d ask them why they didn’t want to see the place since they’d come all the way there.  With furtive looks toward the sign, they’d explain it was too far from downtown (15 minutes), South County (20 minutes) or Columbia, IL (20 minutes).  These were lies, since we are the closest city to the Mississippi River and, ergo, St. Louis City/County in the St. Louis Metro East communities.  In these cases, it was the sign.

It’s a rather innocuous sign, black with white letters on a rectangle.  Definitely nothing flashy or radical about it. Nor is it something that bothers any of my neighbors, though my sign speaks to only 11% of the population of this city. The sign did not say, “No Trespassing”, “Beware of Dog”, “Please Close Gate”, or even “For Rent”.  Yep, that sign was at fault for us not having renters, or at least not white renters following up on their appointments. It simply states something that I feel people need to be reminded of, even in a town that is 89% POC. And, as long as I live here and it’s relevant, the sign will stay where it is.  Right there, on the front fence of the driveway, so you see it through your windshield,  is a sign that says “BLACK  LIVES  MATTER“.

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The Valley of the Shadow of Death

While I promise to try not to take the Twitter bait put out by Trump every day, today I felt a need to respond to his tweet regarding “the world coming to its’ senses about nukes”.  You see, I grew up in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Phoenix, AZ is a 40 square mile valley that used to be completely surrounded by USAF bases.  These bases, being both Tactical Air Command, i.e. fighters and Strategic Air Command, i.e. nuclear and common bombers as well as the missiles in silos on top of a few of the mountain ranges surrounding the Valley, made us a primary target.  Why target Arizona instead of someplace else?  As I said, TAC/SAC bases, silo missiles and the little, added fillip of the consistently dry weather enabled aircraft to get off the ground 98% of the time which was the best alert to air ratio in our services at the time.  Oh, and the foreign pilots that were there to be trained, so you could, conceivably, hit more than one country by striking Phoenix. So I grew up less than 7 miles from a place Russia would bomb first.

This means my “nuclear plan” was useless, though that didn’t stop the schools from educating us on hiding under our desks, which doesn’t work, as well as requiring us to take Civil Defense in the 7th grade.  This was even more useless as it taught us how to “survive” by placing bundles of newspapers against the walls in our nonexistent basements, finding hospitals and medical supplies to ameliorate radiation burns and sickness, grow food and find water that wasn’t  contaminated.  The last two items evoked gales of laughter from the classroom as it is/was a desert landscape with no regularly flowing water sources.

All we had to do was look at the blast map (see below) and we knew that our only real option was to drink heavily, then bend over and kiss our behinds goodbye.  Why so certain?  Because anything inside of a 90-mile radius is dead.  Either immediately or over the next few weeks.  And there is no cure for radiation poisoning.  A real nuclear attack and the attendant burns, sickness, radiation poisoning of that attack would effectively wipe out the entire Phoenix Valley.  And all of this was true before they put in a nuclear power plant on the west side of the Valley near Luke AFB and Gila Bend Testing Range.  For a realistic treatment of what a nuclear attack would do to people subjected only to wind-borne fallout, I suggest the movie, “Testament” from 1983. It can be found here: http://putlockers.ch/watch-testament-online-free-putlocker.htmlaz .

If for nothing else Donald Trump has done, and there are plenty of things he’s done without being President yet, his statements regarding the “needed” increase in our nuclear stockpiles are probably the dumbest ones he’s made so far. Former Presidents from Eisenhower to Obama haven’t found it necessary to build more bombs and have actually been destroying them as per SALT I & II.  The “necessity” becomes harder to vindicate especially if you factor in how many people will die or be irreparably harmed by such an action.  Even before a nuke is fired, it has been shown to have adverse health impacts on uranium miners, technicians in the process’ of making the bombs as well as those who may handle or be assigned to be near the bombs on a daily basis as part of their military service.  With the right security clearance, civilian workers on the bases could be exposed as well.  And we all know how Republicans love to privatize things that should never be privatized.

If you don’t remember the era of “The Bomb”, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the nuclear history of our United States.  If you do remember, make yourself available as someone who remembers what it was like to live in the shadow of a nuclear holocaust. Then, please use that education to protest even the thought of adding to our nuclear arsenal.  Please, for the sake of the children.  Not one more child should be brought up with the specter of Death hanging over their heads.

Fly Over Country: First you cry…

Then you scream.  Then it’s time to tell yourself to get over it and get on with it.  What that “it” is is totally up to you.  In my case it’s to go back to blogging about where I live, the middle of the middle of the USA and what goes on here, there and everywhere.  Why would I do this?  Because we, the folks in the middle, are being blamed for the rise and election of Donald Trump.  I’m sure some of the people in the area, it is quite big, did vote for him.  What bothers me and others like me is Why they voted for him.  The most common thread spoken throughout the campaign was “He says what I’m feeling.”.  This came as a great shock to much of the nation as most whites on the coasts thought we were “past it” or “post-racial” or something.  Around here, not so much.  Between living day to day in one of the most racists places in America and living through the Ferguson uprising, I can categorically say, we Knew most pale people weren’t past much of anything.  If you care to, you are more than welcome to read through the “Ferguson Files” portion of this blog which is my experiences as a Legal Observer during the uprising and its’ aftermath.

This came as a great shock to much of the nation as most whites on the coasts thought we were “past it” or “post-racial” or something.  Around here, not so much.  Between living day to day in one of the most racists places in America and living through the Ferguson uprising, I can categorically say, we Knew most pale people weren’t past much of anything.  If you care to, you are more than welcome to read through the “Ferguson Files” portion of this blog which is my experiences as a Legal Observer during the uprising and its’ aftermath.

For me and mine, the battle goes on.  Yes, we took a bit of a breather. You tend to need one after a beating like we took.  But, we are like the old Timex’ “we take a licking and keep on ticking”.  We will be standing up for human rights and humane laws in order than the painfully paid for gains of the last 50 years are not lost at the whim of a game show host surrounded by conspiritarians and sycophants.

Tonight in St. Louis there was a memorial service for the homeless that died this past year, a vigil for the victims of Aleppo and a house set on fire the day after a young Muslim bought it. So you see, we’ll get all sides here and I’ll do my best to wade through the dross and give you the story the best I can.  Please rejoin me on my journey from the Middle of Middle America, and let me know what you think and how you feel about what I write.

Happy Whichever Winter Holiday you Choose!