Monday, August 14, 2017

Thoughts on Charlottesville

The alt-right hate groups who caused so much terror, death and destruction in Charlottesville over the weekend are horrible enough. And then there's the extreme center's castigation of what they derisively and falsely call their "alt-left" counterparts.

White supremacists shouting anti-black, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic slogans had converged to protest the imminent removal of a statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee on the grounds of the Virginia university founded by slave owner Thomas Jefferson. They were confronted by democratic socialists, anarchists and other social justice groups who'd traveled to the quiet college town to show solidarity and bear witness. 

There has to be a reason that police stood by and let the two groups battle it out in the streets before they finally intervened. It was to give the TV audience watching at home the opportunity to see that "both sides do it." Lookee here, folks, socialists are the same thuggish thing as fascists! So before one young woman got killed and many others injured by a road-raged young neo-Nazi, the violence was dutifully portrayed as a  "clash" between two equally unruly groups. If an alt-right man threw a punch, and a leftist defended him or herself, it was caught on camera so that both could be chided for resorting to violence. Maybe they would just cancel each other out in the eyes of the great moral majority, and go home so that the proper anti-Trump resistance of the Democratic-Neocon alliance could get on with the more seemly outrage and virtue-signalling. 

Although centrist criticism of the leftist counter-protesters has now become suitably muted in light of the fact that one of them - a white female Bernie Sanders supporter, no less - was actually killed, the liberal punditocracy had been saying the exact same things which they are now criticizing the shocking Donald Trump for saying: that "many sides" act egregiously.

Right before Saturday's terror attack, corporate Democratic groups were actually goading young leftists, mocking them as probably too cowardly and basement-bound to ever don a pink pussy hat and join the astroturfed Clintonoid "resistance" movement against Trump. Writes Shuja Haider of Jacobin:
The morning before the rally, Mieke Eoyang, vice president of the National Security Program at centrist think tank Third Way, tweeted, “If the Bernie Bros wanted to make a show of force on behalf of progressive values, Saturday in Charlottesville would be a good time.”
Neera Tanden, president of liberal think tank Center for American Progress, turned disdainfully to her left later that day. “We have actual fascists marching with torches. Maybe everyone on the progressive side could focus on the enemies of progress in front of us,” she tweeted. “We’re ready for you to join us Neera,” one young activist responded. Tanden’s response was to ask him to condemn “those on the alt left who want to join with the fascists.”
If it had been Hillary Clinton supporters who were attacked by a Nazi sympathizer with a vehicular weapon, I think it's a good bet that their biographies would be cause celebre for a massive outpouring of corporate news coverage and fundraising appeals. But the New York Times, to name just one, never even mentioned in its bio-piece about the murdered Heather Heyer that she had been a Sanders supporter. It doesn't fit their prescribed identity politics Narrative. As a matter of fact, in a separate Tweet, Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg remarked that "the hard left seem as hate-filled as the alt-right."

Meanwhile, down at the more staid Netroots Nation's annual convention, which wound up over the weekend, the agenda was The Russian Infiltration of Our Democracy™️. The prescribed resistance at the Atlanta meeting was not against fascism, but against any and all criticisms of the Democratic Party's Russophobic propaganda. If I were a conspiracy buff, I might even suspect that the NSA and the CIA have infiltrated what used to be an independent group of progressive activists and bloggers. From Politico: 
The question of alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia looms especially large here. In the hallways and on side panels, activists and organizers are resisting the guidance of party leaders who worry about overplaying the Russia issue at the expense of others that may matter more to voters. The message from the grass roots? We’re not going to stop talking about President Donald Trump and Russia.
“Not only is it a false choice, it’s a really limited choice,” said Democracy for America Executive Director Charles Chamberlain of the common refrain that Democratic candidates and groups ought to focus on issues like health care rather than the investigations. “I get it when people are frustrated when they feel like all they’re hearing is, ‘Russia, Russia, Russia…[but] it actually isn’t a distraction: It’s actually critical for our democracy.”
Chamberlain wasted no time, therefore, sending out an email blast in which he used Donald Trump's remarks about Charlottesville as the perfect fund-raising hook. How quickly Russia is forgotten! Now we should give this Democratic veal pen group money to show how united we are in (artificially narrow) righteous indignation against Trump's failure to call out white supremacists. It is absolutely critical for the Democratic Party to co-opt the same events that it deliberately chose to ignore in favor of Russia, Russia, Russia. (Not least because their backfiring pro-Clinton propaganda has seemingly infected so many "grassroots" minds to the point of no return.)

Hate and righteous anger are being falsely equated by far more sources than just the odious Donald Trump. As usual, the establishment is bursting its seams with its own, glibber versions of the same old platitudinous jingoistic boilerplate. (Love Trumps Hate; This Is Not Who America Is; Let the Healing Begin; Thoughts and Prayers; War Is Peace, etc.)

That being said, the emboldened, no-hoods-needed neo-Nazi movement is absolutely being aided and abetted by Trump's dangerous rhetoric, more bullhorn than the usual right-wing dog whistle. He is simply using the resentments of bigoted young white men the same way he is using the plights of the coal miners and the veterans and the fragmented labor unions: to further cement his own power. An administration composed of Wall Street bankers, bloodthirsty generals and fascist ideologues is his dangerous way of triangulating against traditional institutions, not least of which are the United States Congress and the entire federal court system. The courts have thus far balked at his unconstitutional directives and desires, the Congress not so much. So where there's gridlock, there's at least a little hope left for what is still left of our democracy.

Meanwhile, membership in the Democratic Socialists of America is skyrocketing. As a result, there are already worrying signs of infiltration by establishment Democrats, who'd also tried to co-opt the Occupy movement before the camps were torn apart by Democratic mayors, and the solidarity splintered, and the co-optation rendered moot.

While supporting such measures as universal health care and standing up to Trump-inspired fascism, there is, tellingly, nothing on the DSA website about resisting American wars and imperialism. 

And what is the American military's aiding and abetting of multinationals high on capitalistic crack but fascism? What are the bombings and occupations of faraway countries and their darker-skinned people anything but racism?

*****

Note to readers: I'll be away, so few to no postings in the next two weeks. I'll still be checking in regularly to moderate and publish your comments.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sounds, Furies, and Nothing-Burgers

Just hours after publishing my previous post on the media going crazy over the dearth of news coming out of Trump's New Jersey golf club, he obligingly made them even crazier by seeming to threaten a nuclear attack on North Korea. Or, as he colorfully put it, "fire and fury like the world has never seen." That would presumably include Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it definitely surpasses the Mother of All Bombs which he recently dropped on some old CIA tunnels in Afghanistan.

Trump apparently believes mainstream news reports hinting that North Korea already possesses full nuclear capability, which it does not. He should really be more careful about all the news he consumes on CNN, which is going even crazier than usual ginning up the fear and paranoia in its viewing audience.  According to the latest polls, more than half of Americans now believe that a preemptive attack on North Korea would be just fine and dandy.

Propaganda absolutely works. Never underestimate was passes for intelligence in generous chunks of the consuming population, a large sub-chunk of whom don't even know where the Korean peninsula is on the map. Even so, 72% of those questioned in a CBS poll declare themselves to be "uneasy" about the situation after watching the requisite approved programming. This programming includes breathless reporting from Hawaii, complete with nuclear warning siren soundtrack. CNN's Wolf Blitzer acted downright disappointed that officials from the American military base/possession of Guam are so sanguine in the face of North Korean threats. The island's governor seemed more interested in touting Guam's tourism industry than in ducking for cover. Come on over, the water's fine.*

If you were thinking that the press and the Democratic-Republican-Neocon alliance would be condemning outright Trump's inflammatory rhetoric, you would be thinking very wrong. The general consensus is that although The Donald indulged in verbal conduct unbecoming a president, he is nevertheless deserving of praise for bellicosity extremely becoming of the American Empire itself. Trump may be more neon-con artist than ideological neocon, but as long as he gets with the program, some of his harshest critics are suddenly letting bygones be bygones.

Relentless Trump critic Senator Lindsay Graham, for one, is suddenly mellowing out in near-ecstasy at the mere prospect of more American aggression, even if it would cause the deaths of many thousands, perhaps even millions, of people:
 Graham said the president’s remarks are in line with the only reasonable approach to dealing with the Kim regime and that many of those criticizing the president have had previous opportunities to deal with North Korea and failed to do so. A North Korea armed with a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. is unacceptable, Graham said, because “I don’t believe our missile defense systems are that good.” 

As such, Graham said the U.S. must be prepared to strike North Korea if it obtains such a weapon, a step some believe the Kim regime has already taken, or if it attacks the U.S. or its allies.
“His rhetoric yesterday, I think, is a change that is probably necessary. Everybody who spoke before him failed,” Graham told Hewitt. “Every smart person on TV who talks about what Trump should do, when it was their turn to deal with North Korea, they failed miserably. There’s no place for him to kick the can down the road.”
What philosopher Alain Badiou once wrote about the French right-wing populist Jean-Marie Le Pen applies just as well to the bloviating overreactions to Trump's bombast:
"He is like the hideous spectacle of what one is oneself, but taken to its extreme, or proclaimed rather than hidden.... Do these people really like deprived immigrants, workers, sick Africans, war fraternities and enthusiastic political adventures, that is, everything that stigmatizes their electoral nightmare? There is nothing to warrant believing it. Instead, just as they have always done, moderate profiteers veil the chronic violence that shelters them from the real world, and the vast anonymous masses with proclamations of love. But when someone declares, in all its rawness, the very thing their comfort presupposes, the thing they consent to in silence, or through lies, they cry out that enough is enough, and they won't have any part of it."
This is also true of the liberal outrage over Trump's admittedly cruel immigration policy. Despite his inflammatory rhetoric over "bad hombres" and the like, it was in fact the more debonair and glib Barack Obama who set a deportation record the likes of which the United States has never seen.

As reported in Politico this week, the deportation rate has slowed down under President Trump. 
From Feb. 1 to June 30, ICE officials removed 84,473 people — a rate of roughly 16,900 people per month. If deportations continue at the same clip until the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, federal immigration officials will have removed fewer people than they did during even the slowest years of Barack Obama's presidency.
In fiscal year 2016, ICE removed 240,255 people from the country, a rate of more than 20,000 people per month.
In fiscal year 2012 — the peak year for deportations under Obama — the agency removed an average of roughly 34,000 people per month.
Obama knew when and how to keep his mouth shut about his real agenda and accomplishments (deportations, bombings, arms sales to despots, drone assassinations, corporate giveaways, sweetheart deals with Wall Street criminals) while still talking a good humanitarian game. Trump keeps braying out the inhumanity which has been the de facto policy of the United States all along. It makes the important people feel very uncomfortable, at least until the desired result - war, war, and more war - is achieved to everyone's comfort and complicit satisfaction. 

 ***
In other news, (H/T annenigma) the New York Times was forced to issue a correction to its blockbuster front page scoop that Trump might try to block the release of a scary "new" report on climate change. It turns out that the report in question has been available online for the past eight months.  As I wrote the other day, the newspaper weirdly slanted the story around pure speculation into the president's thought-processes. The report itself was just a hook all along, with its actual content achieving only secondary importance. Now we know why. It's not the climate change that they really care about - it's keeping the anti-Trump media hysteria alive. Facts not fitting the prescribed Narrative be damned.

The Times recently got rid of its entire copy-editing desk, which used to go over every story with a fine-tooth comb before publication, looking for errors in both fact and grammar. Oops.

*Update, 8/12: In a phone call with Guam's governor on Friday, Trump also touted the island's tourism industry, much to the pseudo-shock of CNN and the professional indignados of the media-political complex. What, they never heard of disaster capitalism before?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Might As Well Face It, They're Addicted to Trump

The New York Times is so obsessed with Donald Trump that it headlines a scary new report about climate change, not as a scary new report about climate change, but as about the clear and present danger which The Donald represents in possibly - possibly! - withholding his official imprimatur.

Frankly, given that any document bearing Trump's signature is suspect on its face, his failure to sign the new report might actually be a very good thing. It will get a lot more attention without his outsize paw-print obliterating the fine print. It'll be a lot like the lists of condemned books and films that the Catholic Church used to display in the vestibules. Before even hitting the holy water font, we'd make a beeline for the latest report. We were that eager to learn what was forbidden us, and then we'd promptly perform our own extended searches in the public library and in newspaper movie listings to gobble up all the forbidden fruit we would not otherwise have known about.

So what is it that Trump allegedly doesn't want us to see? Get out of our way!

Since the media apparently has forgotten how to cover any story without inserting a Donald Trump angle into it somewhere, anywhere, they are nevertheless persisting in doing him the honor of making everything all about him.

"Scientists Fear That Trump Will Dismiss Climate Change Report" blares the Times and most other news agencies today. Therefore, fear not the premature dying of yourselves, your children and the planet. Worry instead that Trump is so magical that his mighty Tweets will a) speed up the process; and b) convince everybody that they are not sweating more than usual during this Summer of Hell.

Who knew that such a doofus could be so powerful as to actually control our thoughts? Methinks the mainstream media doth protest too much, especially seeing as how the actual report has successfully eluded Trump's slimy grasp. So much for the totalitarian suppression of facts under this fascistic regime, which has thus far proven itself mighty inept in the barn door-closing department.

The media is really having a hard time of it now that Trump is vacationing so far away in exotic New Jersey. They're so used to being the supporting actors in his show that performing their anti-Trump soliloquies minus the comforting backdrop of the press briefing room is jarring. They're scrambling to insert Trump into stories which have nothing much to do with him or for that matter, with us. They assume that the American public is as addicted to Trump trivia and drama as they are.

Due to the lack of any real news emanating from Trump's golf club during these dog days of summer, the Times was even impelled to publish a piece in which four - four! - of its critics "weigh in" with snarky suggestions on what he should watch on TV during the next couple of weeks. (Hint: one of the shows centers around the obsessive-compulsive disorder of its protagonist. Pot/kettle much?)

The newspaper has also started publishing a regular feature curating all the late-night show jokes about the Trump show. I read in today's Times that last night one of the hosts quipped about Trump making a peace deal with some golf course gophers. I'm too lazy to go looking for the links link myself, so Google it if you must.

Times columnist David Brooks is so obsessed by Trump that he devoted a full column to how obsessed he is by Trump. At least it's funnier than the gopher story. An excerpt:
Now a lot of people are clearly still addicted to Trump. My Twitter feed is all him. Some people treat the Trump White House as the “Breaking Bad” serial drama they’ve been binge watching for six months. For some of us, Trump-bashing has become educated-class meth. We derive endless satisfaction from feeling morally superior to him — and as Leon Wieseltier put it, affirmation is the new sex.
According to a recent Harvard study (which somehow has also mysteriously escaped the all-powerful Trumpian clutches), the mainstream media devotes almost half of all its space and air time to Trump.

From Poynter:
The report portrays a media that was initially solicitous to Trump, later more critical and, now, distinctly combative. And, all along, he was fascinating and clearly a positive influence on ratings and circulation, especially on the digital side of elite newspapers.
"Our studies of 2016 presidential election coverage found that Trump received more news coverage than rival candidates during virtually every week of the campaign. The reason is clear enough. Trump is a journalist’s dream."
"Reporters are tuned to what’s new and different, better yet if it’s laced with controversy. Trump delivers that type of material by the shovel full. Trump is also good for business. News ratings were slumping until Trump entered the arena. Said one network executive, '[Trump] may not be good for America, but [he’s] damn good for [us].'"
The report serves as a window, too, onto the mentality of journalists — in ways that might ruffle Fox News and other exemplars of conservative conventional wisdom in portraying the "mainstream" press as driven by liberal bias.
"Although journalists are accused of having a liberal bias, their real bias is a preference for the negative."
Trump is so ridiculously easy to cover. All that reporters need to do is set their alarms to beat the competition to the early morning Tweets. Barring that, they can regularly stick their microphones right into his obliging face when they're not passively lapping up all the creamy leaks gushing from anonymous sources both within and without his administration. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the leaks were coming from The Donald himself. He has, after all, been known to impersonate his own publicists. 

If Trump is impeached, indicted or resigns, the media will be deprived of the best drug it ever took and the best drug it ever dealt. The crash and burn will be epic, especially when we all wake up to the early morning mug of the oh-so-sober and oh-so-dangerous Mike Pence.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Krugman: You Can Have Single Payer Health Care When You're Dead

Despite the palpable spike in my blood pressure whenever I read something by Paul Krugman, nevertheless I persisted.  And the ensuing pounding sensation in my ears this morning did not disappoint.

In a piece ironically titled "What's Next For Progressives?" the star New York Times pundit suggests that we stop being so damned unicorny and fight for universal pre-K as a worthy substitute for the impossible dream of maintaining our lives and livelihoods when we get sick or hurt.

Not that he personally has anything against a single payer health insurance system, of course. It's just that such a program would be too hard to sell to anti-government Deplorables.  It's just that a public program would put all those private insurance executives and claims adjusters and rent-seeking lobbyists out on the street. Or should I say, out on The Street?

No, it's simply that the desperate people insanely clamoring for a single payer program are unreasonably forcing Democratic politicians to take a litmus test for purity. Making candidates promise Medicare for All would essentially be inviting them to lie, and goodness knows, they don't want to also be faced with a lie detector test should they have the amazing good luck to win any more elections on their feeble incremental platforms.

On behalf of the Clinton-Obama wing of the party, Krugman chides:
So it’s time for a little pushback. A commitment to universal health coverage — bringing in the people currently falling through Obamacare’s cracks — should definitely be a litmus test. But single-payer, while it has many virtues, isn’t the only way to get there; it would be much harder politically than its advocates acknowledge; and there are more important priorities.
What could possibly be more important than life and good health, you may ask?

Why, saving the predatory insurance cartel which helped save Obamacare by altruistically pushing back against Republican repeal, of course! Blue Cross/Blue Shield saved the day for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Let's give three cheers for the oligarchy.

Also more important than the lives and well-being of 330 million American citizens is the convenience of those who currently obtain their insurance through their employers. No matter that a program like HR 676 would require no effort, automatically enrolling everybody, Krugman claims to be worried that transitioning from private to public would cause a massive outbreak of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among the current beneficiaries of for-profit coverage.
Moving to single-payer would mean taking away this coverage and imposing new taxes; to make it fly politically you’d have to convince most of these people both that they would save more in premiums than they pay in additional taxes, and that their new coverage would be just as good as the old.
This might in fact be true, but it would be one heck of a hard sell. Is this really where progressives want to spend their political capital?
As economist Robert Frank and others have demonstrated, this premiums vs. taxes argument doesn't hold water. But Krugman not only refuses outright to discuss the specifics, he dismisses them out of hand. He doesn't tell his readers that for one thing, administrative costs for a government run insurance program would only be two percent of the total budget, as opposed to the six percent costs of running a for-profit system. Further reducing costs would be the government's ability to negotiate lower prices for drugs and other services. And most important, a Medicare for All plan would be virtually repeal-proof. If everybody enjoyed the same benefits, the divide and conquer politics of resentment would be a thing of the past.

So Krugman pulls the old bait and switcheroo. If centrist Democrats (he calls them  "progressives" solely for purposes of propaganda) can't deliver on single payer health care, perhaps they'll get some political mileage from pretending to care about Our Children. Krugman has suddenly discovered that "we" neglect the nation's children. But rather than suggesting a living wage and/or guaranteed income for their parents, an increase in food assistance, a federal jobs program and subsidized housing, he tosses out the crumbs of pre-K and paid parental leave.

My published response:
Health care is either a basic human right, or it isn't.

Incremental improvements to, and more public funding of, our for-profit predatory health care delivery system are not going to cut it. A system in which some lucky people are insured and some are not is, in fact, the very antithesis of social and economic justice. It's health care apartheid.

Whatever happened to "justice delayed is justice denied?"

Krugman maintains that it would be "too hard" to educate people that paying premiums, via taxes, to a centralized government-run Medicare for All-type system is fairer and cheaper than paying premiums to private corporations whose CEOs make obscene salaries and whose wealthy investors suck profits from the pain of ordinary people.

Krugman is squandering an enormous opportunity from his popular perch in the op-ed pages to do some of this educating himself. Of course, his claim of "impossibility" is not true at all. According to most polls, between half and two-thirds of the American populace already support a single payer system.

So he should have titled this piece "What's Next For the Plutocrats Running the Place?" As established by Gilens and Page in their Princeton study, it's the rich donor class which despises the idea of true universal health care.

The only "progress" the billionaires care about is the progress of their own wealth and their own dynasties as the chasm between rich and poor grows wider by the day.

The rest of us can't wait. Single Payer or bust.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Let Them Eat Birth Control Pills

"Could we just have some birth control down here?" sniffed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's enormously wealthy and enormously tone-deaf schools chancellor in 2011 after touring an overcrowded building in one of New York City's poorest neighborhoods. Cathie Black was also so enormously unqualified for her job that Bloomberg was forced to assign another person to do her actual job for her. Unlike the oligarchs and family members in Trump's administration, however, she only lasted a couple of months before her mayoral pal reluctantly threw her under the proverbial limousine.

Especially with Donald Trump and the Republicans in power, it's getting increasingly hard out there for the good rich to get America's increasing numbers of poor women to stop breeding poor children - for whom both the good rich and the bad rich have been slashing food assistance, housing aid, subsidized child care, cash grants,  and other safety net programs over the past four decades.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof gives it another concern-trolling try anyway in his latest column about how "Americans" are letting mothers die at a greater rate than in all other civilized countries.  To find out why "we" are letting this happen, he parachuted down to Houston to hang out with the president-elect of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists..
My day with Dr. Hollier underscored that there’s one very simple and inexpensive starting point: Help women and girls avoid pregnancies they don’t want. “You can’t die from a pregnancy when you’re not pregnant,” Dr. Hollier noted.
Almost half of pregnancies in America are unintended. And almost one-third of American girls will become pregnant as teenagers. (Meanwhile, President Trump slashed $213 million in funding for teenage pregnancy prevention programs.)
The underlying message of Kristof's piece is that if you are poor and pregnant, you have done something wrong. You either got pregnant out of your own carelessness or laziness, or you got pregnant because Donald Trump cut off your birth control. Nowhere in his piece does he highlight an underpaid mother who gives birth to a planned, loved and much-wanted child.

 He does describe one Latina woman who went off the pill for just a few months as now "bulging" with a full-term pregnancy.

Because he chose Texas, maternal death capital of the nation, he naturally highlights his column with another high-risk mother with a Spanish surname who has already undergone three C-sections. Cue the xenophobic outrage, cue the Kristoffian scolding. We've got to keep those culture wars alive!
 Some of you readers are thinking this is outrageous irresponsibility. But we should also look at society’s irresponsibility in failing to help all women and girls get access to long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs.
Kristof has just given cover to the actual policy-makers of our de facto oligarchy. Aside from the eminently detestable Trump and his cabal of dour misogynists, the names have been changed to protect the guilty. From "we" and "America" he shields all the other power players behind the anodyne "society." Kristof just cannot or will not admit that the rich political donor class running the place are loath to part with even a small part of their wealth to help take care of the less fortunate. And those less fortunate include every man, woman and child whose well-being plummeted even as the top One Percent scraped up 94% of all the wealth recovered since the 2008 economic collapse.

Kristof is pulling another Cathie Black. In essence, he writes that policy-makers should address the shameful maternal mortality rates in this country, not by protecting mothers and children throughout their lives, but by actually reducing the motherhood rate itself.

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell  (Phillips-Andover Prep/Princeton Legacy) puts it even more bluntly. Notice all the neoliberal buzzwords in just this one little paragraph:
But giving low-income women more control over their own fertility also promotes economic security, educational attainment, income mobility and more stable environments for American children. Not to mention deficit reduction (two-thirds of unplanned births are paid for by public insurance programs, which is why government spending on family planning has a high return on investment ); and abortion reduction (40 percent of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion).
  There's a name for this: Eugenics-Lite. True, it's a lot more nuanced and politically correct now than it was in the original movement's heyday in the 20s and 30s, when the poor, minorities and the "feeble-minded" were often sterilized against their will. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, herself had a love-hate relationship with the eugenics movement. To its credit, Planned Parenthood does not sugarcoat her history, even going so far as to condemn a speech she once gave to the Ku Klux Klan.

Although women are rarely sterilized against their will, it does still happen to incarcerated women, and was an especially widespread egregious practice in California prisons until quite recently.

Women lucky enough not to be in jail for the crime of being poor or addicted or indebted are urged instead to get with the program of "investing" in long-term contraceptives, the better for our betters to "empower" us. They proudly point to their own special selves as inspirations, for having had the good sense to make financial sacrifices, to control themselves and delay having their own children until they were very firmly established in their careers. Best of all, they carefully chose partners who are as intelligent and as well educated as they are. (For more on this philosophy, see my post, Pity the Poor Upper Middle Class).

In other words, if you're working your butt off at $9 an hour in front of a Walmart cash register, don't count on ever getting financially secure enough to become a mother. Even the "controversial" bill proffered by the most liberal Democrats for a $15 dollar minimum wage is not nearly enough for one person to live on, let alone a mom and child.

Today's liberal class is telling underemployed and underpaid women that they can feel safe and prosperous simply by getting an IUD inserted into their wombs. This is as insulting in its own smarmy way as sadistic Republicans telling us that we have no choices and no right to any medical care at all.

Here is my published response to Nicholas Kristof's column:

Nobody is more hateful or dangerous to women than a man worried about his own virility. Thus does Donald Trump anxiously monitor his testosterone levels at the same time he goes about demeaning women in a hundred different ways.

There's a big fat Texas redneck just beneath that Rogaine-enhanced New York comb-over. Why else pick a doofus like Rick Perry as energy secretary? Low-T anxiety, that's why. Don't mess with Trump and his ilk, ladies, or they'll find more ways to mess with you than cutting off your birth control.

The only part of the human life-span they care about is the nine months we spend in the womb. After that, it's hasta la vista to the Have-Nots.

Meanwhile, Kristof's antidote is unnecessarily weak. Rather than increased "access" to contraception and prenatal care, what we really need is Medicare for All, or single-payer health care. Sadistic states like Texas would then be helpless to turn back the clock, given that fully 100% of the population would be contributing beneficiaries.

Despite having some of the highest maternal (and infant) mortality rates in the "civilized" world, the US also has the highest per capita medical costs. The mortality rate is also rising for middle-aged women, while general life expectancy for Have-Nots who reach the age of 60 is less than it used to be.

Being pro-life must also include improved housing policy, living wage /guaranteed income, subsidized child care, enhanced food assistance, strong public education, and an end to our destructive wars.