Thirty Reasons to Vote: #19a

TRIGGER WARNINGS: The following post deals with miscarriage, mental illness, the consequences of denying women the right to an abortion, racism, violence, and murder.

Kansas is an odd place. In many ways, it is very conservative, but it has some of the more liberal abortions laws in the country. Back in the early 1990s when Dr. George Tiller’s clinic was besieged by Operation Rescue protestors, my mother was one of the counter-protestors who stood to protect the clinic and its clients, even though the clinic had been bombed in 1986 and the threats of violence from people who called themselves pro-life were constant and real. In 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms, and in May 2009, he was murdered in his church while welcoming congregants to services.¹

The battle carried over to the op-ed pages of the Wichita Eagle. My mother showed up there, too, in this letter to the editor she wrote in response to a young woman making a case for adoption. One additional note: in her letter, my mother uses the racist term “mongoloid,” which was, for a time, the descriptor used for people with Down’s syndrome. I do not excuse her usage, but would like it noted that she quickly became aware of the hurtful nature of the word, and quit using it shortly after she wrote this letter.

Most women who have an abortion do so to save their lives, their sanity, their health, their jobs and finances, their family’s well-being. Vote for choice.

  1. Joe Stumpe and Monica Davey. New York Times, “Abortion Doctor Shot to Death in Kansas Church.” May 31, 2009.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #19

 

 

 

 

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #18

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #14

 

 

The constant denigration by elected officials of our leading researchers, of those who base their arguments on reason and evidence, erodes confidence in the science and research that produce the tested cures we need, that keep us safe from chemicals and pollutants, that track the food we eat. Remember last year when there was a sudden decision to shift USDA researchers from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City? That was an ill-advised move because

“Moving these researchers out of Washington puts them out of earshot from policymakers. A lot of the research that scientists and economists do at [the USDA] has policy implications, and members of Congress need this information and need to have face-to-face meetings with these researchers,” Rebecca Boehm, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Hill.

“It keeps science out of the policymaking process. And we’ve seen many times that this administration doesn’t like facts or research that isn’t convenient or [is] an impediment to their agenda, so I think moving them away helps accomplish that,” she added.³

This separation of policy and science is outlined in a list compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists. It includes, among many other items, “EPA refuses to Regulate Rocket Fuel Chemical in Drinking Water,” “White House Demands Rewriting of CDC’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Schools,” and “Trump Administration Disavows Own Meteorologists for Issuing Factual Statement on Hurricane Dorian.”4

The dangerous disrespect the current administration and other representatives show for the wisdom and advice of science have led to Scientific American, for the first time in its one-hundred-seventy-five-year history, to endorse a candidate for office, and its nod went to Joseph Biden. In the October 2020 issue, the editors explain that 

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.5

Finding out that SA felt it necessary to speak out and take a side feels monumental to me. I appreciate that way that, in normal times, many organizations stay out of politics. But sometimes there is no virtue in silence and neutrality, and we are living in such times. 

I’m a humanities person, but I understand the vital role science plays, should play, must be allowed to play in our lives and society. So vote for science, for representatives who respect science and research and who will encourage and support with both words and funding the scientific leaders whose voices must be heard loudly and clearly for our society to survive.

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Monteverde Fire Opal

 

  1. Governor Jay Inslee Calls West Coast Fires ‘Climate Fires.’” YouTube. September 15, 2020.
    Andrew Hammond. The News Tribune, “Wildfires one sign of the ‘New Washington’ created by climate change, Inslee says.” September 9, 2020.
  2. Philip Bump. The Washington Post, “The president who says the coronavirus will go away makes the same prediction about global warming.” September 14, 2020.
  3. Rebecca Beitsch. The Hill, “Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area.” July 15, 2019.
  4. Union of Concerned Scientists. “Attacks on Science.” July 2, 2020.
  5. Editors. Scientific American, “Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden.” October 2020.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #12

 

Guns and Tyranny

  1. Aaron J. Kivisto, Bradley Ray, Peter L. Phalen, American Journal of Public Health. “Firearm Legislation and Fatal Police Shootings in the United States.” July 2017.
  2. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic. “The Overlooked Role of Guns in the Police-Reform Debate.” June 19, 2020. Robert Gebelhoff, The Washington Post. “No police reforms would be complete without gun reforms.” June 11, 2020.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #10

 

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #8

 

Making health care available to whomever seeks it is not just the right thing to do, it’s the practical thing to do. Our economy depends on the health of everyone who works, depends on our workers being able to continue to work rather than having to stay at home to care for family members. When we make it difficult or impossible for segments of our population to get the care they need, others end up paying for it when these folks have to go the emergency rooms and can’t pay their bills. This cost is passed on to taxpayers; we all pay anyway, but without the benefit of a healthier national community. This is a self-serving argument, I know. Mostly I believe we should provide health care to all because is the moral course of action.

So vote. Vote for increased health care, health insurance, health for us all.

Pure Pens Cotswolds
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  1. Meagan Flynn and Tim Elfrink. Washington Post. “Trump Administration asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare.” June 25, 2020.
  2. Kathleen Sebelius, New York Times. “Attention All Women: Trump Is Coming for Your Health Care.” July 13, 2020.
  3. Maureen Groppe. USA Today, “Who pays when someone without insurance shows up in the ER?” July 13, 2017.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #6

Back in April of this year, the National Geographic magazine for Earth Day was a double-sided issue. One cover bore the title, “How We Lost the Planet”; the flip-side offered “How We Saved the World.” The issue pretty much embodies how I exist these days: in a constant state of flipping between despair and hope.

Today, here in Colorado, the smoke from our own fires mixed with that from California. Early in the afternoon, the air reminded me of growing up in L.A. in the ‘sixties and early ‘seventies. We had “smog days” when we couldn’t go outside, when recess was held indoors and we played “Thumbs Up, Seven Up,” sitting at our desks with our heads down and a thumb up while a classmate would go around and tap a set of kids on the thumb. Once these children were chosen, we would be allowed to pick up our heads while the selected seven tried to guess who had tapped them. It was every bit as exciting as it sounds.

But even on the days when we allowed to play outside, our chests would hurt and sometimes we couldn’t get a full breath. We didn’t think too much about it; that was all we knew. But our parents did and for a while there were effective efforts to mitigate air pollution. The air in L.A.got better, as it did in other cities in America.

 Today, my lungs thought they were right back in the L.A. of my youth. Breathing ached; my throat felt scoured; my head ached; my stomach turned sour. And however poor the conditions are here, they are fractionally as awful as California’s.

My husband and I had planned a drive today, just to get out of the house. We made it up high enough to be away from the smoke briefly, but most of the time the cab of the truck was smoke-imbued.

 

 

It was difficult to come back down where the smoke blanketed everything like fog, and nothing like fog.

By early afternoon, I was no longer thinking of Los Angeles; I was thinking of Pompeii.

Ash on the window
Ash on the windshield


Ash on the hood of the truck 

Ash on the red bud leaves

 

 

 

 

I write this late in the day and ash is still falling. A plume from the Cameron Peak fire spiraled up thirty-five thousand feet (that’s a 35 with three zeroes after it. Think airplane-cruising altitude).

And these fires are not caused by a lack of raking. They’re caused by the climate changes brought on by humans. We must acknowledge that we have caused and are causing this damage and then work to undo it. Remember how quickly the air cleared when we were all on lock-down?

Wildfires are far from the only disasters caused by global warming. Plastic is raining down across the country, including in our delicate, protected preserves; hurricane season is far more dangerous now. The disdain for science so proudly promulgated by politicians and voters will cost us our lovely planet and guess what? There’s not room for all of us on the International Space Station.

In addition, a lot of us are going to be denied the opportunity to be grandparents because of climate change. The next generations are reluctant to bring children into a world that might not be around long enough for their children to live to old age or that will mean they have to live in a wasteland. I don’t have an effective counter-argument for them.

The setting sun and the moon have been orange and lurid for weeks now.

 

 

 

 

But this evening was the sun was new kind of eerie.

And tonight — tonight the moon is red, a mourning red, an angry crimson.

So vote for our lives, for our home, for our environment, for the continuation of our species, for leaders who will push us to evolve into stewards of the Earth. Vote. Please vote.

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  1. Union of Concerned Scientists. “The Connection Between Climate Change and Wildfires.” Updated March 11, 2020.
  2. Gavin Newsom on climate change and California’s wildfires. August 20, 2020.
  3. WBUR. “Meet Allie, One of the Growing Number of People Not Having Kids Because of Climate Change.” September 16, 2019.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #3

We shouldn’t have to say it any longer, but we do. Black Lives Matter. And today the news has given us a new name to say:

Daniel Prude

Mr. Prude was killed back in March, but the circumstances of his death while wearing a spit hood the police put on him only recently came to light. I’ll let you read the details in the accounts below.

There are other groups whose lives we similarly devalue. Some are subsets of the Black community (Black trans folk, Black women) and some are not (BIPOC groups) or may not be (Jews, Muslims, other minority religions). I’m not sure how to talk about these groups without seeming to diminish the BLM discussion,* but for the moment, perhaps the ink offers an analogy. The ink looks black when left alone, but a little water shows it comprises other colors and shades. I will continue to find a more elegant and effective means to discuss the broad swathe of people whose rights we need to affirm and whose wrongs — the ones done to them in the past and the ones we continue to tolerate, propagate, and commit — we must work to assuage.

Vote.

* 4 September, 2020: I just read in the New York Times this excellent distinction made by Daria Allen, a sixteen-year-old  who has been protesting in Portland, Oregon: 

One of the few chants she consistently recites is “Black lives matter.” It annoys her that the phrase has become a subject of controversy, often met with the diminishing response “All lives matter.”

“When they have the breast cancer runs, you don’t see people out there yelling, ‘What about lung cancer?’” she said. “Just because I’m talking about what’s happening to me doesn’t mean I don’t care about what’s happening with you. Why do I have to constantly remind these people that I matter?”

When Ms. Allen

posted a link to the fund-raiser in a neighborhood Facebook group, a woman confronted her. Ms. Allen was destroying the city, she said. Ms. Allen fired back, arguing that the police were polluting the city with tear gas. The argument ended with the woman sending her a direct message, which Ms. Allen has saved in her inbox, just to remind herself of the mentality she is fighting against.

“If I see you on the street, you will be the next Black person hanging from a tree,” the woman wrote.

It makes me ill that anyone would throw the hateful and horrifying spectre of lynching at a Black teenager, one who is raising her voice and risking her health and life to call for justice and equality. Vote for Daria Allen because Daria Allen isn’t yet old enough to vote for herself.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/03/us/portland-protests.html?searchResultPosition=2
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Ink: Taccia Sharaku Kurocha

  1. Washington Post “Seven police officers suspended after video shows hood placed on head of Black man who later died.” September 3, 2020.
  2. Washington PostBody-cam video in Daniel Prude case shows Rochester police placing hood over Prude.” September 3, 2020.
  3. Wall Street JournalSeven Officers Involved in Daniel Prude Death Have Been Suspended.”

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #2

 

Noodler’s Luxury Blue Eternal Ink

Please write your senators, your congressional representatives, your secretaries of state, and your state attorneys general to urge them to keep voting safe and accessible and to stand up to everyone who is trying to undermine the postal service. Public pressure matters. Apply some daily.