The bottom line: Democrats don’t give a damn

Abortion

It’s been gnawing at me for a while that Democrats have chosen the path of indifference and inaction, to just hold a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate without putting each and every senator who says they are pro-choice on the record for eliminating the arcane and anti-democratic procedural filibuster, the only true vote at this point that might enshrine Roe into federal law.

Now that someone from within the Supreme Court leaked a draft opinion in which five conservative zealots will finally get to live out their career-long dreams of ending Roe v. Wade, it is clear to me that the Democratic Party, as an institution, does not care more about keeping my doctors and nurses out of jail than Republicans do about putting them there. If they did, they would not throw up their hands and say that there’s nothing they can do to protect women. They would not ask us for donations or votes in November to expand the power voters already gave them in 2020 by handing them the White House, Senate, and House.[1]

Meanwhile, on the Republican side:

In March, anticipating the very decision that [Samuel] Alito drafted, a Missouri lawmaker introduced an amendment that copies Texas’s bounty-hunter law to allow private citizens to sue people who help abortion patients leave the state. In recent years, thousands of Missourians have already been crossing the border to Illinois for abortions, many more than have been able to be seen by the state’s last remaining clinic. The provision didn’t succeed this time around, but its author, state Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman, wasn’t wrong when she responded to claims the provision was unconstitutional by telling the Washington Post, “That’s what they said about the Texas law, and every bill passed to protect the unborn for the last 49 years.” It’s only unconstitutional until you get the right court.[2]

Medication abortion, in which a woman takes two drugs to terminate an early pregnancy at home, became the most commonly used method in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly after the Food and Drug Administration stopped requiring the prescription be dispensed at healthcare facilities and allowed it to be delivered directly to users. Many online pharmacies around the world ship them without a prescription at all. . . .

Nineteen states prohibit pills from being prescribed via telehealth appointments or delivered in the mail, and 32 states limit which healthcare professionals can prescribe abortion pills, according to Guttmacher.

Mailing abortion pills to a patient is banned in Arizona, Arkansas and Texas. Similar bans in Montana, Oklahoma and South Dakota were blocked by the courts.

Just this year, more than a dozen states introduced restrictions on medication abortion, including complete bans, a prohibition on mailing pills and a ban on using telehealth to provide them.

Others are focusing on banning all self-managed abortions. The practice is illegal in Nevada, South Carolina and Oklahoma, but patients have been arrested in other states too.[3]

The simple truth is that Democrats, for all their words, don’t give enough of a damn to prevent[4] women from being enslaved by the state:[5]

Women who cannot make their own decisions about whether or not to have babies are enslaved because the state claims ownership of their bodies and the right to dictate the use to which their bodies must be put. The only similar circumstance for men is conscription into an army. In both cases there is risk to the individual’s life, but an army conscript is at least provided with food, clothing, and lodging. Even criminals in prisons have a right to those things. If the state is mandating enforced childbirth, why should it not pay for prenatal care, for the birth itself, for postnatal care, and – for babies who are not sold off to richer families – for the cost of bringing up the child?[6]

But really, the Democrats expect abortion rights supporters to vote for them because, mostly, they aren’t themselves actively attempting to enslave women but are, rather, enabling those who do.

Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, “Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows,” Politico, May 2, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/02/supreme-court-abortion-draft-opinion-00029473

Caroline Kitchener, “The next frontier for the antiabortion movement: A nationwide ban,” Washington Post, May 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/05/02/abortion-ban-roe-supreme-court-mississippi/

Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, “Roberts directs investigation into leaked draft of abortion opinion,” Washington Post, May 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/03/supreme-court-leak-investigation-abortion-roe-wade/

Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, “Collins and Murkowski on the defensive after leaked Roe draft opinion,” Washington Post, May 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/03/murkowski-collins-roe-abortion-opinion/

Josh Gerstein, “What falls after Roe? Liberals warn of a privacy rights nightmare,” Politico, May 3, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/03/supreme-court-abortion-privacy-rights-00029871

Oriana Gonzalez, “Collins says Kavanaugh and Gorsuch possibly broke promise on Roe v. Wade,” Axios, May 3, 2022, https://www.axios.com/susan-collins-kavanaugh-gorsuch-abortion-court-leak-d6d1dad3-15d4-4269-b2ee-b5b5b2a4ea94.html

Molly Jong-Fast, “My Mother Was Wrong,” Atlantic, May 3, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/supreme-court-overturn-abortion-peaceful-protest/629746/

Irin Carmon, “Can Republicans Stop Patients From Leaving the State for an Abortion? Some Are Willing to Try,” New York, May 4, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/can-republicans-stop-out-of-state-abortion-patients.html

Erin McCarthy, “Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf vows to protect abortion rights, but can only do so for the next eight months,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 4, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/news/pennsylvania/abortion-rights-pennsylvania-governor-wolf-20220504.html

Meredith Shiner, “Democrats Can Go Scorched Earth on Abortion Rights, or Go Home,” New Republic, May 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/166293/democrats-abortion-rights-roe-2022

Alexandra Martinez, “Birth control, gay and interracial marriage, and more may be at risk if Roe v. Wade falls,” Prism, May 5, 2022, https://prismreports.org/2022/05/05/civil-rights-roe-v-wade/

Anna North, “Abortion has been treated as a fringe issue by Democrats for decades. This is the result,” Vox, May 5, 2022, https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2022/5/5/23057317/abortion-supreme-court-roe-v-wade

Martin Pengelly, “Louisiana Republicans advance bill to make abortion a crime of murder,” Guardian, May 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/05/louisiana-abortion-bill-murder-republicans

William Rivers Pitt, “Democrats Had 50 Years to Save and Protect ‘Roe.’ They Failed,” Truthout, May 6, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/democrats-had-50-years-to-save-and-protect-roe-they-failed/

Margaret Atwood, “‘Enforced childbirth is slavery’: Margaret Atwood on the right to abortion,” Guardian, May 7, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/07/enforced-childbirth-is-slavery-margaret-atwood-on-the-right-to-abortion

Jennifer Haberkorn, “Abortion pills: A post-Roe game changer — and the next battleground,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-05-05/medication-abortion-safety-net-battleground


Work

The Los Angeles Review of Books article is actually rather disappointing and I’m not sure how much this is really the authors’, these being Max Haiven, Graeme Webb, and Xenia Benivolski, fault. It, the article, summarizes much that is already known about Amazon and proffers a methodology, “worker inquiry,” that appears to be a variation on action research I have not seen before.[7] The description of this methodology is vague and scattered rather than systematic; it fails to explain how worker inquiry is related to and different from other methodologies; and the report on inquiry already conducted—focus group research?—is similarly vague and scattered.[8] I read the article and while it is clear that this inquiry is in progress, I still don’t know with any precision what they’re doing. I can’t rule out that these authors with their co-researchers, Amazon workers and ex-workers, will produce something useful—indeed, they very well might—but this LARB article appears as a profoundly unsatisfactory compromise between a research proposal intended for a scholarly audience and work intended for a culturally- or intellectually-inclined audience of the Los Angeles Review of Books. It will satisfy neither audience.

The larger question is why it even appears in, yes, a relatively high-brow publication, but no, not a scholarly publication. What I fear is that this reflects a continuing breakdown of academia as traditionally understood, where now

That there’s a market for Chegg’s predatory practices at all reflects the grim reality of higher education in the 2020s. As stories about the New Faculty Majority reveal, a critical mass of faculty members don’t make enough money to support themselves and their families.[9]

Haiven and Webb appear to be affiliated scholars, though Webb may be an adjunct, paid next to nothing. If Benivolski is affiliated, her biography doesn’t say it. They are paying their co-researchers, both in the initial and forthcoming phases of their project. They do not say where this money comes from, nor do they overtly solicit contributions. But they will require money to pay their budding science fiction authors and facilities to train them to be authors. The funding question here is huge and the answer’s omission glares.[10] So what I have to suspect is that they are asking for money without asking for money, trying (desperately?) to build some popular support for any more formal research proposals they submit to philanthropic organizations.

My understanding is that funding for social science research, let alone that using a non-mainstream methodology,[11] is near nil.

Kate Eichhorn, “The Gig Economy Comes for Scholarly Work,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 5, 2022, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-gig-economy-comes-for-scholarly-work

Max Haiven, Graeme Webb, and Xenia Benivolski, “Is Amazon the Borg? We Asked Their Workers,” Los Angeles Review of Books, May 7, 2022, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/is-amazon-the-borg-we-asked-their-workers/


Ukraine

Catherine Belton and Greg Miller, “Cracks emerge in Russian elite as tycoons start to bemoan invasion,” Washington Post, April 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/04/29/russia-oligarchs-ukraine-invasion-dissent/

Bloomberg, “Russia Will Quit International Space Station Over Sanctions,” April 30, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-30/russia-will-quit-international-space-station-over-sanctions

Paula Erizanu, “‘I don’t feel safe here’: Transnistria fears could spark Moldova exodus,” Guardian, May 1, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/01/i-dont-feel-safe-here-transnistria-fears-could-spark-moldova-exodus

Joseph Menn, “Hacking Russia was off-limits. The Ukraine war made it a free-for-all,” Washington Post, May 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/05/01/russia-cyber-attacks-hacking/

Nataliya Vasilyeva, “‘I want to see Putin hanged’, says Gazprom executive who fled Russia,” Telegraph, May 1, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/01/want-see-putin-hanged-says-gazprom-executive-fled-russia/

Cnaan Liphshiz, “Speaking about Zelensky, Russian foreign minister says Hitler also had Jewish ancestry,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 2, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/05/02/global/speaking-about-zelensky-russian-foreign-minister-says-hitler-also-had-jewish-ancestry

Missy Ryan et al., “Russia planning to annex new areas of Ukraine, U.S. intelligence finds,” Washington Post, May 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/05/02/russian-annex-territory-invasion/

Will Dunn, “‘He has embarked on a war he can’t stop’: Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Putin’s next move,” New Statesman, May 3, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/ukraine/2022/05/he-has-embarked-on-a-war-he-cant-stop-mikhail-khodorkovsky-on-putins-next-move

Mary Ilyushina, Miriam Berger, and Timothy Bella, “Russian TV shows simulation of Britain and Ireland wiped out by a nuke,” Washington Post, May 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/03/russia-ireland-nuclear-weapons-video-ukraine/

Richard Kemp, “Vladimir Putin’s military cupboard is bare,” Telegraph, May 3, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/05/03/vladimir-putins-military-cupboard-bare/

Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. His Oligarchs,” Puck News, May 3, 2022, https://puck.news/putin-vs-his-oligarchs/

Delia Gallagher, “Pope Francis warns pro-war Russian patriarch not to be ‘Putin’s altar boy,’” CNN, May 4, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/04/europe/pope-francis-patriarch-kirill-ukraine-invasion-intl/index.html

Times of Israel, “Putin apologizes for Russian FM’s ‘Jewish Hitler’ remarks, Bennett’s office says,” May 5, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/putin-apologizes-for-russian-envoys-hitler-comments-bennetts-office-says/

Christian Esch, Susanne Koelbl, and Fritz Schaap, “Putin’s Disaster and What Could Happen Next,” Spiegel, May 6, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/putin-s-disaster-and-what-could-happen-next-a-e8c89bfa-b7a3-4e32-908a-7642a301eda6

Anthony Faiola, “How millions of Russians are tearing holes in the Digital Iron Curtain,” Washington Post, May 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/06/russia-vpn-putin-censorship-disinformation/


  1. [1]Meredith Shiner, “Democrats Can Go Scorched Earth on Abortion Rights, or Go Home,” New Republic, May 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/166293/democrats-abortion-rights-roe-2022
  2. [2]Irin Carmon, “Can Republicans Stop Patients From Leaving the State for an Abortion? Some Are Willing to Try,” New York, May 4, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/can-republicans-stop-out-of-state-abortion-patients.html
  3. [3]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Abortion pills: A post-Roe game changer — and the next battleground,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-05-05/medication-abortion-safety-net-battleground
  4. [4]Jordain Carney, “Manchin joins with Senate GOP to block bill guaranteeing abortion access,” Hill, February 28, 2022, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/596223-manchin-joins-with-senate-gop-to-block-bill-guaranteeing-abortion-access/; Anna North, “Abortion has been treated as a fringe issue by Democrats for decades. This is the result,” Vox, May 5, 2022, https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2022/5/5/23057317/abortion-supreme-court-roe-v-wade; William Rivers Pitt, “Democrats Had 50 Years to Save and Protect ‘Roe.’ They Failed,” Truthout, May 6, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/democrats-had-50-years-to-save-and-protect-roe-they-failed/; Meredith Shiner, “Democrats Can Go Scorched Earth on Abortion Rights, or Go Home,” New Republic, May 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/166293/democrats-abortion-rights-roe-2022
  5. [5]Margaret Atwood, “‘Enforced childbirth is slavery’: Margaret Atwood on the right to abortion,” Guardian, May 7, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/07/enforced-childbirth-is-slavery-margaret-atwood-on-the-right-to-abortion
  6. [6]Margaret Atwood, “‘Enforced childbirth is slavery’: Margaret Atwood on the right to abortion,” Guardian, May 7, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/07/enforced-childbirth-is-slavery-margaret-atwood-on-the-right-to-abortion
  7. [7]Action research is not my specialty. It is certainly within the umbrella of methodologies that human scientists may apply, but the very fact it is a qualitative rather than quantitative methodology now very unfortunately means it will be a fringe methodology for mainstream academia. That, by itself, will limit the impact of this work, regardless of any other merit.
  8. [8]Max Haiven, Graeme Webb, and Xenia Benivolski, “Is Amazon the Borg? We Asked Their Workers,” Los Angeles Review of Books, May 7, 2022, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/is-amazon-the-borg-we-asked-their-workers/
  9. [9]Kate Eichhorn, “The Gig Economy Comes for Scholarly Work,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 5, 2022, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-gig-economy-comes-for-scholarly-work
  10. [10]Max Haiven, Graeme Webb, and Xenia Benivolski, “Is Amazon the Borg? We Asked Their Workers,” Los Angeles Review of Books, May 7, 2022, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/is-amazon-the-borg-we-asked-their-workers/
  11. [11]There is a difference in tone between the third and fourth editions of the SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, the fourth being starkly more defensive, that informs me that the only research now favored in academia is quantitative. This was a battle that was lost not on the merits but to neoliberal imperative. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2008); Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., Landscape of Qualitative Research, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2008); Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2008); Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, 4th ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2011).

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