The Last Free Mother’s Day

Usually, Mother’s Day arrives with a serene, crisp morning and the promise of flowers, brunch, hugs and chocolate, and shared recollections of tender kisses for scraped childhood knees.  It is typically a day as gentle as those we take this time to honor.  Not so this year.  2022 Mother’s Day is a nightmare from which there is no waking, as the right wing justices on the United States Supreme Court stand on the precipice of stripping away the very right to decide whether to be a mother at all.

Unless you have been exploring the valleys of Mars or so single-focused on the Stanley Cup that you haven’t bothered to raise your head from the sports page, you have seen the news that the draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, scrawled in dystopian hellfire fashion by W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito, plans to overturn 1973’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision and thus trigger complete bans on abortion in the majority of the states.  Forced birth activists across America are salivating at the arrival of the horrific vision that has driven them for decades and will condemn millions of poor women, especially those of color, to imprisonment or death simply for exercising the choice to do with their bodies as they wish (naturally, wealthy women or the mistresses of Republicans will still be able to get safe, expensive abortions whenever they need them).  In some states, a woman who has an abortion after being raped will be subject to harsher prison sentences than her rapist.  Some Republican lawmakers have boasted that saving a fetus is more important than preserving the life of the person carrying it.  This is who they are, and they do not care.  Their moment has come.

There is no sugar-coating this.  It is as bad as everyone who has been sounding the alarm for years has said it will be.  Alito’s “reasoning,” if you can condescend to call it that, falls back on the laughable doctrine of “originalism,” the notion that if slave-holding white men of the 18th Century didn’t explicitly write it down in the Constitution – men who, it must be said, couldn’t conceive of the concept of the computer that Alito or his fascist clerks are barfing out this rights-crushing jeremiad on – it cannot be allowed to exist.  The opinion reaches for justification to the decisions of a judge who literally sentenced women to death for witchcraft and further commodifies children (again, from the party who are accusing everyone who dislikes their agenda of being groomers) by referring to the shortfall in the “domestic supply of infants” in claiming that allowing abortion means there aren’t enough unwanted little orphan Annies for the woebegone would-be Daddy Warbuckses of ‘Murica.  In a public statement following the leak of the decision, Alito’s lickspittle, the odious Justice Clarence Thomas, has shrugged “too bad, so sad” to the vast majority of the country who support abortion rights, telling them they have to suck it up with outcomes they don’t like, when his repellent wife Ginni is an open seditionist who backed the January 6th attempted coup because she didn’t like the result of a fair and free election.

Because the decision undermines the right to privacy, liberals are warning that the right wing has no intention of stopping with abortion.  There is a laundry list of freedoms that conservatives are rubbing their hands about the prospect of overturning in the wake of Dobbs, with gay rights being the most tempting target to attack next.  For this, now, apparently, is how government works in the United States – Thomas’s patronizing missive aside, conservatives can simply appeal legislation they don’t like to a corrupted, utterly politicized Supreme Court that is happy to twist itself into knots to overturn it for them.  Swept aside are any notions of democracy, the majority of the people deciding.  This is the endgame of a slow-moving push towards autocracy orchestrated by a scheming, pampered right – captained by Mitch McConnell, Rupert Murdoch and Federalist Society capo Leonard Leo – and frankly, a lazy left hypnotized by overpaid media pundits who served up endless helpings of “don’t fret silly libs, it won’t be so bad” columns every time another crypto-fascist blundered his way into power.

The battle over abortion is about one thing only – the paranoid need of the penis to dominate the uterus.  Why is it, do you ever wonder, that the men who bleat on about the unborn are all cut from the same and arguably inferior cloth – the white, bloated, puckered, pasty-faced incel type who’d likely have a prostitute wanting to pay him to avoid getting anywhere near that limp noodle hiding in his pants?  The kind who are so unbelievably ignorant that they go on national television and say that well actually, the female body has ways to prevent pregnancy if it senses that it’s being raped?  The ones who have perpetuated a misogynist myth of shamefully promiscuous women laughing through dozens of abortions from forgotten one-night stands?

There is an old saying that “politics is show business for ugly people,” and never is that ugliness more evident than in the hearts, minds and words of these otherwise unemployable male clowns whose deep-rooted insecurity manifests in the desperation to dominate innocent people – to show that big bad world how tough they truly are.  Plotting away in the basement like Revenge of the Nerds writ large, they get themselves installed in low-profile offices – school boards, local councils, usually through the same rote script about taxes and family values and eking by with 20% support in a negligible-turnout election – and once inside, like the emerald ash borer they burrow quietly into the fabric of decent society, building influence, rising to incrementally higher standing and chipping away at liberty one tax cut at a time until one day they’re on the national stage lecturing that the cause of freedom demands that many will have to be sacrificed – to the thunderous applause of millions, Fox News fellation and the collective amazement that this could actually happen here.  These unloved, useless men are angry at the universe that they weren’t born with the faculties to be movie stars or professional athletes or with the choice of a different voracious supermodel to have insatiable sex with every night.  And the world – and women – are suffering exponentially at the hands of these irreparably wounded egos and completely flaccid penises.  Look across the water to Russia today to see a blatant example of a limp dick struggling to erect itself.

You know this is the case because if it was really about protecting fetuses, then the same legal restrictions would apply equally to men.  Employing the same sort of “logic,” it can be argued that a sperm is a living organism that is capable of becoming a human being.  Therefore, every time a man masturbates into a sock he is committing billions of homicides.  Whichever hand he uses should be confiscated as a deadly weapon.  Playboy publishers and creators of hentai videos are accordingly accessories to mass murder, and wet dreams should be recategorized as involuntary manslaughter.  Who weeps for those dear, precious unborn, lost forever to that episode of Star Trek: Picard where Seven and Raffi finally give in to their unspoken passions?  I am still waiting to see the Oklahoma or Alabama state legislatures table the appropriate bills to address these egregious crimes against humanity.  Otherwise, shut up with this ridiculous refrain that you’re defending the rights of the unborn.  This is only about keeping the uterus in line – making government small enough not to drown in the bathtub but to fit snugly inside the fallopian tube.

The Dobbs decision will be handed down in June, but it is foregone.  The lines are drawn, the votes will not be swayed.  The media is, as usual, adopting GOP talking points to focus on the wrong part of the story (pearl-clutching over what foul rapscallion leaked the decision???) and suggesting that this is all in fact a brilliant strategy on the part of the right wing to get the bad news over and done with early so that the rage dies down and that gas prices end up swinging the midterms to the Republicans so they can hold two years of hearings on Hunter Biden’s laptop and refuse to certify any election that doesn’t crown their orange, Putin-fluffing and increasingly senile idol king-for-life.  But I really do not think that the uteruses of the nation are going to shrivel up and accept that what Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and the gruesome threesome of Trump-appointed judges (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett) want should take precedence over their ability to govern their own bodies.  Here in Canada, where we have far too many forced birthers of our own entrenched in positions of power watching and waiting for their moment to rear their hideous heads, we must remain just as vigilant – lest future Mother’s Days be occasions not to celebrate but to weep for liberties lost at the will of Man.

It’s not over, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  Perhaps extra reason to ask anyone with a uterus if they need an extra hug today.

Dear Pasty Republican Billionaires: Haven’t You Got Anything Better To Do?

Founder of the new Super PAC, “Americans for a Prosperous Tatooine.”

You can’t read U.S.political news lately without seeing a story about a septuagenarian Republican one-percenter with a hate-on for the President pouring millions of his fortune into a new Super PAC.  Thanks to Citizens United, right-wing sugar daddies are emptying their coffers to Karl Rove and ilk to flood the airwaves with ads blaming President Obama for everything from sunspots to the common cold.  Figures like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and most recently, Joe Ricketts, are positioning themselves as the new architects of what is left of American democracy.  You’d think that achieving staggering levels of wealth would be enough, but apparently, multiple mansions and car elevators are not where it’s at anymore.  These oligarchs-in-waiting are determined that the government is destined to be a rich guys-only club, and who gives a damn how many poor people get steamrolled out of existence in the process.  In fact, the more poor are simply obliterated, the better.

Stories about Republican Super PAC funders seem to have one thing in common – the men in question are uniformly old, bloated and incredibly sour-faced, as if their soul has been eaten away by a lifetime of stress, drinking, smoking and rage.  Paul McCartney told us that money can’t buy me love; these characters are the embodiment of that axiom.  These real-life Charles Foster Kanes have conquered the business world, crushed enemies in their wake and accumulated wealth to rival that of the pharaohs.  But love remains elusive for them, no matter how many zeroes in their Cayman Islands offshore holding account.  Nobody loves these guys.  No young boy goes to sleep at night dreaming of being a hedge fund manager and forcing people out of their homes.

Instead, Republican billionaires squirm and twist in a constant state of paranoia, terrified that colleagues, friends, family members and even the postal carrier who slips on the ice in their two-mile long driveway in Aspen are scheming to take everything away.  It’s no surprise, given the path a man has to take to claw his way into mega-millions.  You simply don’t get there by being adored.  How frustrating, then, that others of far more limited means can still manage to find love.  Joe Ricketts’ recently announced plan to dredge up Reverend Wright again centers on trying to make voters hate the President.  Not disagree with his policies; hate him.  So, presumably, the President can then feel as down-trodden and hopeless about life as Joe Ricketts must.  You get the feeling that we could have been spared the phenomenon of the Super PAC had their mothers just hugged these people more.

What Ricketts and the rest of these billionaires despise most about President Obama is that he is everything they are not, and will never become.  Truly self-made; someone who came from nothing and got where he is by working hard and applying himself, instead of being parachuted into accidental greatness by a generous trust fund.  A man with a beautiful wife he clearly adores beyond words and a happy, loving family.  President Obama is a greater embodiment of the American Dream than any of these grumpy old guys.  Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, he has the ability to inspire people across all walks of life, and around the globe.  Hope and change remains a potent campaign slogan because it appeals to our better angels.

For crusty old billionaires, this does not compute.  They believe everyone is as greedy and money-grubbing as they are; that altruism is a fool’s game, that no one ever does anything out of a simple wish to be good.  And it positively bakes their collective noodles that not everyone wants to be rich.  The majority of us just want to earn enough to look after our families, so they don’t have to worry about getting sick or feeding themselves or having a roof over their heads.  Amazingly, you can still do that without millions in a diversified asset portfolio, and working hard at that goal despite difficult odds is far more likely to earn you genuine love than the extra fifty million you’ll earn if Obamacare is tossed by the Supreme Court.

Simply put, a heart that is rotting cannot lift others.  The Koch brothers may have helped the Tea Party become a ground-shifting political force, but no one would ever accuse David and Charles Koch of being inspiring men.  They and those like them don’t inspire with words and ideas; they push with threats and cattle prods, because they don’t know any other way.  And they come to envy and hate the ones who do.  Whenever you see Karl Rove’s picture, this pudgy, balding sinister figure without a kind word to say about anything left of Genghis Khan, you can’t help thinking that he must have been the fat kid who was always picked last for the team, and is continuing to take his revenge on the popular kids forty years on to satisfy some long-simmering Freudian dysfunction.  And it is all so futile.  Mitt Romney could sweep all 50 states and half of Australia and these people will still be stewing in their self-loathing and cursing their inability to feel any better.  No one will love them any more.  They’ll feel even worse if they blow all this cash and President Obama still wins.

So here is my modest suggestion.

Take the money you had intended for your Super PAC and found a charity instead.  Build a school.  Refurbish a hospital.  Fund cancer or AIDS research.  Erect a nature preserve.  Start a new business and hire some people, for god’s sake.  Then go visit one of these places anonymously and look for the genuine joy in the eyes of the people you’ve been able to help.  Just stand there and soak it in – the sense of gratitude, of warm feelings.  Let your heart quicken.  Feel the love.  Then think about how you can do even more.  How good it will feel when a child whose life has been saved because of an initiative you backed mentions you in their prayers before going to sleep at night?  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  Don’t you like the idea of being remembered, like Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of the story, as “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world”?  Or would you rather spend your money on TV ads demonizing the President of the United States, ads that will be as forgotten as swiftly as you will be the day your rotten heart finally croaks its last beat?

Ball’s in your court, Super PACs.  I know I’m sleeping fine tonight.

I can’t worry about gay marriage; I’m too focused on my own

There is a first-season episode of The West Wing in which a pollster played by John de Lancie advises President Bartlet that he can sew up re-election by supporting a constitutional amendment banning flag-burning, as the numbers indicate that a vast majority of Americans are in favour of such an amendment.  Faced with the prospect of a gut-wrenching policy flip-flop to the dark side, the news is dispiriting to Bartlet’s staff, until another number-cruncher (Marlee Matlin) gives them her figures on how little the issue is of importance to the average voter, and that the total number of people whose vote would actually be swayed on flag-burning alone is insignificant.

This exchange was at the forefront of my mind as I read about President Obama’s announcement of his support for same-sex marriage yesterday.  The people who are so tyrannically obsessed with this issue that their vote hinges on it (the Santorums of the world) were never going to support the president anyway, even if he announced he was cutting taxes on the rich to 0%, declaring Planned Parenthood enemy combatants and appointing Pat Robertson Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  In strictly political terms, the president has lost nothing, energized the liberal base that first elected him, and forced his presumptive opponent into defending bigotry.

All in simply doing the right thing.

I can’t pretend to understand the fervour that drives certain elements of the conservative religious population to spend so much time, energy and money in attacking the LGBT community; I haven’t been to a regular church service since I was nine, and even then it wasn’t exactly one of these old-time fire-and-brimstone parishes either.  Like the lily-livered liberal latte-sipping literati atheist that I am, I believe in treating others as I would like to be treated, and that the consensual relationships of two adults, straight or gay, are none of my damn business.  Frankly, even if I were of the abhorrent mindset to want to dictate to other human beings how they should be permitted to love each other, I don’t know where I’d find a spare moment.  I’m busy working on my own relationship.  I’d say my plain old man-woman marriage is generally a happy one, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t constant effort.  I simply don’t have the time to worry about anyone else’s.

When we think about the complexity of love, its many twists and turns and ups and downs, and its perpetual evolution and change as two people try for decades on end to figure out how to share their lives with each other, it is a difficult enough road without having elements of society, even family, castigating you at every turn – looking askance at the two of you as you walk down the street holding hands, or whispering sarcasm out of earshot as you share a kiss in a tender moment in the park on a sunny afternoon, or smirking smugly after you’ve had a fight.  Love is a journey to be explored, a discovery awaiting each of us as we wind our way through life, and each of us deserves the chance to find and experience the love that we long for.  Who we love forms our identity, and asking our LGBT brothers and sisters to turn away from their natural feelings is like asking them to disconnect part of their soul – condemning them to a slow death of the spirit.  No one deserves that, and I cannot believe it’s what any truly loving god or goddess would desire for their creation.  Nor does the evidence indicate that a broad societal acceptance of same-sex marriage will bring forth any of the apocalyptic visions foretold by the dubious media soothsayers who adore citing nonsensical “slippery slope” arguments such as the forthcoming rise of man-dog, woman-horse, boy-tractor and girl-Cayman Islands holding corporation marriage.

A friend posted on her Facebook status yesterday that she was disappointed in the dearth of common courtesy these days, in the almost complete absence of “please” and “thank you” in our daily interactions.  Whether it’s the economy, sunspots, Mayan prophecies or too much Fox News, the world of 2012 seems stalked, like Winnie the Pooh, by a persistent little thundercloud.  Gloom and a general unpleasantness are humanity’s dominant tone.  I can’t help but wonder if we are obsessing too much over other people’s lives and failing to attend to our own, to the root causes of why we are so unhappy, why our own relationships are struggling.  A man who spews homophobic invective is clearly not smiles and sunshine deep inside, and rather than blaming the same-sex marriage boogeyman for his woes, he needs to take a good, long look at what is lacking in his own soul, at why, instead of trying to make a positive contribution to the world, he simply be hatin’.  What is so wrong with his own marriage, his own life, that he turns that loathing outwards instead of confronting it.  For hatred will not heal self-neglect.

We only make our marriages better by never taking them for granted, and by ensuring that our marriage, and ours alone, is our singular passion.  Our LGBT friends should be able to enjoy the same challenge, the rewards and even the pitfalls that may come with it.  That, I think, is how one preserves the sacred institution of marriage – by making our own an example of the best that it can be, not fretting fruitlessly over whether other people can or can’t get married to the person they love.  It would seem, based on his announcement, that President Obama feels the same way.