More Deals with the Devil, and Some Hot Sex

“It’s a deal—we overlook the allegations against you, and you vote for the tax bill.”–New Yorker

The first part of this post discusses how the Democrats fail to defend women’s reproductive rights, and it’s kind of grim. The second part is more cheerful and also about reproduction, specifically how hot, prolonged sex might go on in your kitchen, or dining room, or…

Throwing the Fight

My maternal grandmother, who used a wheelchair in her old age, was passionate about professional wrestling. She didn’t understand English but knew which competitors were the good guys and which were bad. She would shout Yiddish exhortations—“teytn im!”(kill him!)—to the TV screen in her bedroom. No one could convince her that the bouts were staged, and that the guy who played the villain was being paid to throw the match.

We can watch a similar drama, or read about it in the press, from the White House and the halls of Congress. I regularly read four papers online, including the New York Times. My observation is that the majority of Times readers who post comments complain that the Democrats are weak. That they bring a butter knife to a gun fight. That they keep trying to “reach across the aisle” despite being slapped in the face every time. That they don’t understand the nature of the opposition.

I beg to disagree. In my opinion the centrist Democrats understand the nature of what’s going on just fine. They are simply being paid to throw the fight.

The writers of these comments generally come up with one solution, summarized in the slogan, “Vote Blue no matter who.” The implication is that casting a ballot once a year, even urging all your friends to cast ballots, is all that’s necessary to implement the changes we want. The same comment-writers—and the columnists who work to shape their opinions—frequently cast blame on progressive candidates for being too far left and turning off moderate voters.

A few readers seem to get it, or come close. One wrote, “The far right are [sic] willing to be extremely corrupt to bend this country to their liking. The centrists and moderates are willing to be mildly corrupt to maintain the status quo…”

The centrists and moderates are only mildly corrupt? Again I disagree. I present of two notable examples of Democratic corruption (there are many more), specifically with regard to reproductive rights.

Nancy Pelosi

On June 27, Pelosi wrote a letter suggesting steps Congress could take to safeguard a woman’s right to choose. “While this extremist Supreme Court works to punish and control the American people, Democrats must continue our fight to expand freedom in America.” Of course, none of the steps she suggests would have any chance of succeeding without the elimination of the filibuster, and that will not happen any time soon, because at least two key Democrats (Manchin and Sinema) are unalterably opposed to that change.

Not too long ago Pelosi demonstrated her dubious commitment to reproductive rights by supporting Texas Representative Henry Cuellar, who is firmly anti-abortion. His challenger in the primary was a pro-choice progressive, Jessica Cisneros. Pelosi contributed $4,000 to Cuellar’s campaign. She wasn’t alone. Seventeen other Democrats in Congress sent money. The anti-abortion Cuellar appears to have won by a hair, which probably would not have happened without that Democratic support. (There is a call for a recount.) In 2018, Pelosi supported anti-choice Illinois Representative Daniel Lipinski, as did the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). (The race was close, but progressive challenger Marie Newman defeated Lipinski.)

Joseph Biden

President Biden has expressed his “outrage” at the Dobbs decision—a very performative outrage, given his recent pact with Mitch McConnell. In this deal with the devil, Biden promises to nominate an anti-choice Federalist Society right-winger to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell agrees to go along with two of Biden’s nominees for limited-term positions.

Biden also proposed doing away with the filibuster as the way to get pro-choice laws passed. As I noted above, there’s no chance of that change happening now. It might be possible if the Democrats win more seats this year, but all predictions say the Republicans will make gains instead. In any case, even if it were possible, and if the GOP gains even a slight majority, getting rid of the filibuster would remove any obstacles to their peeling back the advances in civil rights of the last five decades.

Biden also owns part of the Dobbs decision, as he was instrumental in putting Clarence Thomas on the Court. In a lengthy New Yorker article Jane Mayer recounted how he defended Thomas’ character and “set many of ‘the rules’ that damaged Hill.” Three other women would have substantiated Hill’s accusations, but Biden wouldn’t let them testify. “Howard Metzenbaum, Democrat from Ohio, later admitted, ‘Joe bent over too far backwards to accommodate the Republicans, who were going to get Thomas on the Court come hell or high water.’”

By the way, many other (male) Democrats didn’t take Hill seriously. Metzenbaum told a reporter that half the Senate was guilty of sexual harassment.

Nearly 30 years later, just before announcing his candidacy for President, Biden called Hill and offered a non-apology. I wouldn’t call it half-assed or even quarter-assed. He told her he was sorry for “what she endured.” In a TV interview the following day, he said, “I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules,” without mentioning that he set those rules himself. He added, “I don’t think I treated her badly.”

Follow the Money

Pelosi, Biden, and almost all the rest of our office-holders have certain things in common: high salaries, gold-plated health care, and many other perks, including up to 239 days off per year for members of Congress and a spending allowance of $1.2 million for house members and $3.3 million for senators—all paid for from your tax dollars. They stay in office by passing laws that enrich their wealthy donors, and get rich themselves through investments in companies that, let us say, do not have ordinary voters’ interests in mind. Some of those companies are actively destroying this country and the planet.

Nancy Pelosi’s current net worth is estimated at $135 million. Her investments include Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, Bank of America, General Electric, IBM, and Johnson & Johnson. She also owns quite a bit of expensive real estate.

Joe Biden’s net worth is estimated at $41 million. His assets include nine real estate properties, five cars, two luxury yachts, $12 million in cash reserves, and over $6 million in the stock market. He also gets a $400,000 annual salary from the taxpayer. If that doesn’t seem like much compared to Pelosi’s wealth, consider that his son Hunter has a net worth of $230 million. Hunter’s wealth is projected to grow at a staggering pace of 400% in the upcoming five years. Each week he closes a deal bringing him millions of dollars in income.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

The DCCC uses its money to support incumbents, no matter how reactionary they are. That would include anti-choice, pro-gun, pro-fossil fuel politicians, and even someone like Joe Manchin, who quashed the paid family leave portion of the Democrats’ policy package. Each incumbent, even a newly elected representative at the bottom of the totem pole, is required to contribute a minimum of $150,000 per year to the DCCC. You’d have to be pretty wealthy to donate that much—or else be getting lots of donations from wealthy supporters.

In 2020 the DCCC passed a rule blacklisting companies that worked on the candidacies of challengers. Even the most progressive legislators, though they didn’t like the rule, caved and continued sending in their $150,000. All except one—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She refused to pay DCCC and instead gave the money directly to progressive candidates. As a result of her principled stand, the DCCC eventually backed down and eliminated the blacklist.

A Forty-Year Assault

Bill McKibben and Akaya Windwood point out in their recent Guardian article, that SCOTUS and the GOP, with the compliance of the Democratic leadership, are heading toward the destruction of all the progressive gains of the 1960s and 1970s. These include:

Right to contraception – 1965
Voting Rights Act – 1965
Gun Control Act – 1968
Gay rights revolution – starting in 1969
Clean Air Act – 1970
Roe v. Wade – 1973

McKibben and Windwood focus primarily on the most recent SCOTUS decisions. But for at least the last 40 years, federal policies and SCOTUS decisions have reliably come down on the side of corporations and against workers, starting with Reagan’s 1981 attack on the air traffic controllers’ union. In consequence, overall union membership in the United States declined from 20.1% of the work force in 1983 (the first year that these statistics were kept) to 10.8% currently.

The Democrats weren’t just passively compliant. Clinton gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which shipped United States manufacturing jobs to low-wage factories in Mexico. Obama and the Democrats gave us a health “care” plan that guaranteed exorbitant profits to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. When some doctors, nurses, and activists came to DC to testify in favor of single-payer, they were arrested, handcuffed, and dragged off to jail.

The moderate Democrats in general have shown not “weakness” or failure to understand anything, but an active intention to sell us down the river to increase their own power and wealth.

What We Can Do

Our options are limited, but what we can’t do is give up.

We still have to go out and vote. We can support the more progressive candidates at every level, from city council and school board on up. Donate to their campaigns, write letters and texts urging others to support them, go door-to-door. Once they’re in office, we have to keep on top of them to make sure they continue to support progressive policies. Go to their town halls and make our voices heard. Visit their offices—going in a small group works best—and demand that they enact the laws we want passed.

Put referendums on the ballot in states where we can. Demonstrate in the streets. Make sure to notify the media, so they cover us.

The next tactic is civil disobedience, which so many used during the civil rights movement. People sat in at segregated lunch counters or refused to move to the back of the bus—and suffered beatings or imprisonment. Beyond that is simple disobedience to unjust laws. The Jane collective in Chicago did exactly that, performing over 11,000 illegal—and safe—abortions in the years before Roe v. Wade.

How we can disobey or break laws connected with other issues, like saving the environment—I will leave that to your imagination.

The Hot Sex Story I Promised You

I just finished reading Super Fly by Jonathan Balcombe. The author is a scientist who studies diptera, the order of insects that includes flies, midges, gnats, mosquitoes, and such. The book is an easy read for a layperson, full of wonder and delightful flashes of humor. Part of one chapter describes the sex lives of fruit flies—those tiny critters who have contributed so much to medical research and who, even as we speak, may be having orgies around the fruit bowl on your dining room table. Or, in my kitchen, making love around the compost bucket. Here’s Balcombe’s description:

Each species has an elaborate, multistep sequence [of mating dance]. Moves include wing tilts, twitching one or both wings forward, wings outstretched to the side, and rapid wingbeats that create hums of varying tones. Each step must be performed in the right order and at a satisfactory level of proficiency, or else the entire dance is aborted and the flirting reverts to square one (or less)…If the dance moves are doing the trick, the action intensifies, eventually leading to physical contact. The male taps and strokes the female’s body with his legs and feet. All going well, the male begins kissing his beloved, his soft mouthparts rhythmically pressing against her back and abdomen. Sometimes the petting gets heavier, and body kissing escalates to genital licking. Copulation lasts about two hours. Sex is usually followed by the couple resting and grooming, and occasionally watching television.

Fruit fly cunnilingus, oh my! A short life but a merry one indeed.

3 Responses to More Deals with the Devil, and Some Hot Sex

  1. Connie O Byrne July 5, 2022 at 9:07 pm #

    Martha, I find politics in general. So depressing as to make me want to go jump and running traffic. I am trying to maintain some sense of hope in my small local area but with limited success.

    I do want to thank you for your numerous look at insect sex life. As a biology major from years ago and a self-taught naturalist, it is easy to see that the insect and animal world that surrounds us is full of interesting and challenging approaches to reproduction if we but watch and observe. Thank you very much for giving me a little bit of humor to go along with trying times. I fell and broke my humerus this last Friday night and I am struggling to maintain a positive attitude to say the least. Now you spiral fracture of the numerus will at the very least require four to six months of recovery time. As a knitter and hand spinner and avid gardener, I think you can imagine how that feels. Keep on writing your entertaining and often thought-provoking columns. I really enjoy them

  2. Martha Shelley July 5, 2022 at 11:49 pm #

    Oh Connie, I’m so sorry about humerus! My wife Sylvia and I were pedestrians hit by an idiot driver in 2010. I broke both my left wrist and right elbow. Sylvia’s left humerus was shattered. There were a couple of funny things that happened. One was while I was lying in the gutter, unable to use my arms to get up, a passerby ran up to me and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

    “Yes,” I said patiently. “Call 9-1-1.”

    That was Wednesday. Surgery was the next day, and I persuaded the doc to let me go home on Friday, because my first novel had just come out and I had a reading at the local bookstore that evening. He was OK with it as long as I could wipe my butt. The bookstore owner had of course heard about the accident and wasn’t expecting me to show up. She had already cancelled the performance. You should’ve seen the expression on her face when I walked in the door, both arms bandaged, with a friend carrying a music stand to put the book on so I could read from it!

    “The show must go on,” I told her.

    Of course neither Sylvia nor I could cook, clean, or change the cat box. It was weeks before I could even floss my teeth.

  3. Connie O Byrne July 6, 2022 at 12:54 am #

    Oh Martha, thank you so much for sharing. What happened. Since Sylvia’s humorous was messed up, you two know what I mean about the pain. I only wish surgery could be sooner, but I’m not even going to see the ortho guy until Friday afternoon, a full week after I fell. What I’ve read about spiral fractures is not fun. It says recovery time is 4 to 6 months. I don’t think I will be knitting again anytime soon. My spinning wheel. Both of them will be sitting in the corner too for a long time. Forget the gardens. They will become weed beds once again. Good thing I don’t care anymore. I told my next door neighbor she can come over and take pick blueberries. No excuse me, blackberries anytime and to please help herself to the tomatoes as they get ripe. Now. That sucks. I’m thinking about getting someone to clean out my kitchen and throw out or give away all the stuff that I haven’t been using. Anyway. Same thing for the garage to get rid of things like the circular saw and jigsaw if that’s what they still call it. The drill is worth keeping but I’m not going to be doing any major construction of anything anytime soon if ever again this stuff is so depressing but I can at least wipe my butt one-handed but I can still wipe my butt. But my dog and I are fighting for the covers every night and getting her to let go of her spot with just one hand so I can get under them can be a challenge. Like I said, thank you for sharing your story. It helped me feel less alone. I will keep you posted and look forward to more of your humor

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