Sunday, September 23, 2018

Most Damning Indictment Of Kleptocracy And Capitalism: Infants Crying Because There Are No More Clean Diapers In Their Home

The most damning indictment of capitalism possible appeared on the refrigerator at my school this week. It announced a diaper drive in my area, an effort which I'm confident the staff at my school will participate in. 

The Kennebec Valley Community Action Program created a flyer which was posted with a handwritten note that a staff member will deliver the diapers we bring to school next week.

I will donate diapers and gladly, but it's a perfect example of why charity will not get us as a society out of the disgusting mess capitalism has created.

Despite what the flyer claims, charity is not a solution to this problem.

Here are some of the facts shared on the flyer that I as a middle class grandmother found traumatizing. I can only imagine how traumatized are the children, parents and grandparents experiencing diaper distress. (Increasingly, children in dire poverty around here are raised by their grandparents).

  • 36% of mothers living in poverty regularly run out of clean diapers.
  • You cannot buy diapers with food stamps.
  • Babies in soiled diapers cry more, and are abused more. Somerset County where I live has the highest rate of child abuse in Maine, and 1/3 of children live in poverty.
  • Parents who have run out of diapers feel guilty, anxious and stressed.

Some of the questions running through my brain:

What would a person in another country think of the U.S. if they knew these sordid facts about how we care for our most vulnerable community members?

Source: Maine Equal Justice Partners "It's time to end child poverty)

Is America great again in light of these realities?

Will elections that put in place candidates from either of the two corporate parties fix this shameful problem? 

For those who blame the victims, yes by all means let's criticize mothers in poverty for using expensive disposable diapers instead of virtuous cloth diapers washed by hand in the bathroom sink. Because a hallmark of poverty is lack of a washer and/or dryer in the house (often, lack of hot water in the house), and if you've ever used cloth diapers you would understand that a daily trip to the laundromat and a whole lot of quarters would be required if you can't wash them at home. A diaper service like I used when my children were babies -- if you could even find one in rural Maine -- costs just about the same as disposables i.e. approximately $100 a month. That is after you have purchased the pricey diaper covers that hold everything in place and make it waterproof. And a whole lot of washcloths or disposable wipes for those blowouts when the baby poop extends up their back and down their legs (my youngest grandchild's parents cut her onesie off her with scissors to extricate their daughter from a mega blowout when she was around 5 months old.)

Flooded hog farm, photographer unknown (Source:

When I told my husband about how horrified I was after reading the flyer, he was reminded that he had been horrified hearing radio reporting on the hog feces flowing into towns downstream from industrial scale farms in the path of Hurricane Florence. Rescue workers are warning that folks returning to clean their flooded homes will be exposed to E. coli, and that town water supplies are also at risk.

It appears to me that late stage capitalism will drown in its own shit before the people wise up, rise up, and shut the system down by withdrawing their cooperation.

Women could do this quickly if they just stopped showing up for work.

If the date rapist candidate for the Supreme Court is confirmed, women may very well get angry enough to do so feeling that their reproductive freedom is at stake.

Otherwise, the kleptocracy now in power will have successfully captured the judiciary of the federal government at its highest level. Moneyed interests will decide everything from how much health care your great grandmother receives, to whether climate change and catastrophic storms are addressed, to how many clean diapers your baby is entitled to. Don't bother suing because a) you can't afford it and b) if you make it to the Supreme Court, you'll lose.

So much for checks and balances.

Any system that treats children like ours does deserves to die.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fascism Is No Longer Creeping, It's Galloping Now 17 Years After 9/11

I'm supposed to be blogging about 9/11 today, justifying the endlessly profitable "war on terror." But I think I'll blog about the uses that have been made of those events instead.

Fascism is no longer creeping, it's galloping now was my husband's response to news that my posts of the Peace Hub video from Saturday's climate march had been removed by Facebook. Allegedly it "looked like spam" or perhaps "violated community standards" so my account was locked temporarily also.

Here are their messages and then the actual video so you can judge for yourself why spybook didn't like my posts:

Here is the offending video:

Link in case the video does not play here on Blogger or in your email feed:

In possibly unrelated news, we found recently that the soup kitchen in the town where we hold our weekly peace vigil had closed. Word on the street is that the place where Skowhegan's large homeless population could count on getting a hot meal was closed down because suddenly the volunteers were required to prove they had background checks, and they didn't.

This was our response on the bridge. (If you're wondering, yes, I do have a background check because I was forced to get fingerprinted in order to keep my job as a public school teacher after 9/11.)

We'll be there again on Sundays, noon - 1pm. Spread the word.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Defeaning Silence On The Carbon Belching Elephant In The Climate Room

How lucky was I to be in action with family and friends at yesterday's Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice march in Portland, Maine. These powerful banners created by Ellen Davidson of Veterans for Peace in New York were trundled up to Maine by Ellen and Tarak Kauff, a VFP member who spoke at our Peace Hub preceding the funeral march for the cod.

Gigi, seen here helping grandpa and me hold the "Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming --People, Peace and the Planet" banner, held several signs throughout the course of the day. Gigi is a tireless social justice warrior whose mom, Selene Spivak, spoke at the end of the Peace Hub reminding us that the next generation is counting on us to leave a habitable world.

Videos of all the Peace Hub speakers will be available soon thanks to dedicated Peace Action Maine videographer Martha Spiess, and I will share them when I see them. For now here's a short video I made of Bruce Gagnon speaking about the need for conversion of the military-industrial factories to building sustainables: a win for jobs, a win for unions, a win for peace, and a win for the environment.

Maine Public Radio managed to cover the march without a whiff of the fumes constantly belching from the Pentagon's war machine. A glimpse of one banner did sneak in behind the dead cod puppet, but six hundred words was not enough to get "public" radio to mention the elephant in the global warming room. Their coverage was focused on the covert Democratic Party agenda for the entire climate march: register and get out voters. As if voting for Democrats would reduce Pentagon budgets and their CO2 exhaust, a bi-partisan problem that continues under any administration. ("Progressive" rep for Portland Chellie Pingree just voted along with Tea Party rep for the poorer half of Maine, Bruce Poliquin, to authorize the biggest Pentagon budget in history. Nuff said.)

The Maine Natural Guard was out in force yesterday reminding folks to connect the dots between militarism and climate change. Pictured here in our team shirt is Jason Rawn. Mary Beth Sullivan is wearing hers behind the banner, too, and Cynthia Howard rocked her shirt while holding this excellent banner which mimics the popular book series _____ for Dummies.

My remarks at the Peace Hub were excerpted from this excellent article by Stacy Bannerman, "Is Climate The Worst Casualty of War?" We handed out nearly 100 copies of Bannerman's article along the way of the New Orleans funeral-style march through Portland's downtown. And I continued to share these with high school students assembled at City Hall to hear many of their own, including water warrior Luke Sekera, who called out the Nestle Corporation for its theft of Maine's groundwater. Luke mentioned that he has been at this for seven years now. Yup, since he was 9 years old.

Colorful banners created by the Union of Maine Visual Artists' Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT!) were everywhere, including this beauty created for and carried by the Maine Poor People's Campaign.

This national campaign -- founded to combat Martin Luther King Jr.'s evil triplets of racism, militarism and extreme materialism -- sees how all the pieces of our corporate oppression are connected.

It's time to stop pretending that the Democratic Party will do anything to save us.

Image: Anthony Freda