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Showing posts from April, 2023

Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII

Oliver Twist 2023 - Part 1

 If you had a high school English teacher who was a 19th century British literary fanatic like I was, then you probably struggled with Charles Dickens and his classics a time or two.  That means you remember a few of his best characters, like Pip and Oliver Twist, and you might even know that Dickens used many of his own  life experiences to shape his novels.   For example, Dickens’ father was taken to debtor’s prison, so young Charles had to provide income to his family by working in a blacking factory and other jobs that gave him particular insight into the horrors of child working conditions in the 19th century.  If you’ve read Dickens, you’ve read about those conditions. But what you might not know is that those same horrors existed in this country, fueled by the Industrial Revolution and greed.  Nineteenth century American industry used hungry children in manufacturing jobs because they were cheap and small, giving them access to dangerous jobs like cleaning machines and going whe

Roar Like McMorrow

 Just over a year ago this happened: Michigan Senator Mallory McMorrow gave a powerful speech that went viral and was an inspiration for many progressives including myself. At that time, I had just retired as a health care provider for under-served members of our community and I knew I needed to get involved.  This speech kicked my rear end into gear so I joined the Staunton Democratic Committee. So what was so special about her speech ? There have been many individuals and communities in history that have stood up, spoke out, pushed back and bent but did not break.  This speech and her message of tolerance and caring for others while exposing and pushing back against the hatred and hypocrisy of others hit me at just the right time.  I had never heard of Mallory McMorrow but I will never forget that transformative moment.    All of us have had those moments where something happens to shift our thinking, pushes us into action and makes us a better person.  Also, we have all been the sou

Unintended Consequences ?

 The US is number 1 !   A Commonwealth Fund report from 12/2022 that the US leads the rest of the similar high income countries in the world in maternal mortality. Deaths per 100,000 live births: US - Black - 55.3 US - Total - 23.8 and worsening US - White - 19.1 US - Hispanic - 18.2 Virginia - 15.6 New Zealand - 13.6 Korea, Canada, France, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Netherlands - much lower. The "best" healthcare system in the world apparently is not doing very well in terms of maternal mortality.   So why is this happening and what does the future look like ? What are the characteristics of higher mortality states ?   The states with higher maternal mortality rates have: Significant abortion restrictions Increased maternity care deserts (= fewer healthcare facilities) Fewer Obstetricians and Certified Nurse Midwives Decreased prenatal care Decreased healthcare insurance options including Medicaid Expansion And the future ? N

Nobody Won

If you’re celebrating the decision by the squad in black robes to leave Mifepristone on the market for now - don’t.  It’s not a win for anybody;  it’s status quo.  It’s kind of like you had the winning lottery ticket and all you got was the dollar back for your purchase.  Not exactly a win.  If you live in a state that allows abortion rights, nothing changed.  Doctors can still use oral drugs for abortions, just like they always have for a majority of women seeking health care.  That means when you woke up Saturday morning, you still had the right to abortion procedures, just like you had on Friday.  And if you live in a state where abortion is limited or outlawed, and legislators have left the definition of “life of the mother” ambiguous, nothing changed.  You woke up Saturday morning with the same restrictions that you had on Friday, and an abortion is something you have to seek in another state, if you have the means to do so.  So let’s rethink how we got here.  The same team that m

Youngkin Rolling Us Back to "Jim Crow"

 If you didn’t know that Virginia’s policy towards re-instating voting rights to ex-prisoners has changed, you aren’t alone.  Seems that the governor made up his own policy and didn’t tell anyone about it.  According to the Washington Post , Youngkin’s voting restoration policy for those who have done the time for crime is a secret, neither stated nor made public for those seeking to re-enroll as a Virginia voter.  The past two governors, Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam, restored over 300,000 voting rights to Virginians who had completed sentences.  In fact, the process of reinstating voting rights to Virginians was made easier by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell.    However, to date, Youngkin has restored only 3,400 and sees no reason to let the state know why, or even how he makes his executive decisions.   Ex-prisoners seeking to vote again aren’t on the run or involved in criminal activities. Many made mistakes when young and have given a good deal of their lives to repay their

The Bombs Never Fell But The Bullets Are Flying...

 I was in the second grade in 1962, and the country was preparing for an atomic bomb strike.  We had no idea what the fallout would be, but when the long bells sounded, we second graders would go to the coat closet in orderly fashion, return to our desks, and settle underneath with coats over our heads - until the all-clear bell.  Then, we’d go back to practicing our cursive letters and learning where the sun rose, if it really did tomorrow.   Only we never really return to normal after the fear of death.  I can still bring back the terror I felt at the sound of those long drill bells or during the bus ride home on a practice nuclear bomb dismissal, or throughout the discussions around the dinner table about how we would stock the furnace room for an attack.  And the bombs never fell.   But suppose they had, because the Kennedy administration determined that there was nothing to be done to stop them ? So far this year, there have been 13 school shootings, and it’s only the beginning of

Jane - Part 4: The End, or just the beginning…

Please read  Part 1 ,  Part 2  and Part 3  first. Dobbs and all of its ramifications for women didn’t happen overnight.  A cast of characters and a decades-long plan led to the decision, so let’s give credit where credit is due.  To the crowds that marched with “Right to Life” signs since the Roe decision in 1973, proclaiming that all fetuses were really people and that they must be protected:  you have blood on your hands.  To Samuel Alito and his crew of right-wing cronies who rendered the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, declaring abortion was not a constitutional right:  you have blood on your hands. To the U.S. Presidents who nominated the right-wing judges to purposely dismantle the past 50 years of women’s health care rights:  you have blood on your hands.  To the governor of Texas, along with 14 other governors, who purposely signed ambiguous abortion bills into law, forcing U.S. women to face possible sepsis, sterility, and emotional trauma due to doctors’ fear of existing law