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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

March 19, 2010
You Got My Support. But.

I support equality and decent treatment of fellow human beings, regardless of gender, age, physical ability/disability, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, or political affiliation or almost any -ism you might be able to think of. (There are exceptions.)

But? If you're going to post rants about how this person dissed you for having brown skin or that person dissed you for having boobs or some other person dissed you because you're gay, you have got to provide some level of detail explaining why you think you were dissed for that reason.

I'm not saying you have to prove it--we all know this shit happens.

I'm saying that if you're not able to say some guy in the grocery story cut in front of you in line because you were in a chair or some guy didn't offer you a job you felt you were perfectly suited for because he could tell you were gay, or some guy was talking too loudly about boobies in public because he wanted to hassle you--if you can't provide some level of justification for connecting the cause and effect you claim you see, then it's awfully hard for those of us who would like to gather together and help put a stop to that behavior to know precisely what it is that identifies that behavior in your eye.

Because, honestly, I've been dissed a million times--in grocery stores, on buses, on airplanes, in restaurants, in interviews, and walking down the street. Mostly I was dissed because the person dissing me was a jackass and not because I was female, young (or, later, not so young), differently able-ed (even when I was on crutches), or anything else. There are a lot of people on this planet. A surprisingly large percentage of them are jackasses.*

This is a continue source of frustration for me. I believe racial and gender stereotypes and age-ism and sexuality and religious slurs happen in our society. All too often. But, when I want to speak out against them, I go and read anecdote after anecdote and almost never find any reason stated why the person who was dissed was, in fact, dissed for the reasons they believe.

That's an old saying. "What gets measured, gets done." It's mostly for business and reflects the reality that people do what they know someone else will be monitoring results for, but it works in this arena as well. If you can tell us what someone did, something quantifiable, then we can try to stop that kind of behavior--through education or whatever. We cannot--I am sorry, but this is as true for the Left as it is for rightwingnuts and others--we cannot measure or change "he was looking at me funny."

People look at all of us funny every day.

99.99% of the time--again, I apologize if I'm about to hurt your feelings--they aren't seeing us. Everyone is the center of their own universe and their own reality and 99.99% of the time, they are thinking about themselves. We just happened to get between their eyes and the horizon.

People do not "look through you" or "fail to see you" because your skin is brown or you've in a wheelchair or you're overweight or for any of those reasons. They do it because they are not thinking about you.

When the case is otherwise, when people are, in fact, being dissed for things I don't think people should be dissed for** then I want to step up to the plate and help do something about it. But I can't. When I read various stories online, all I find is people assuming some jackass would not have been a jackass if they had not been tall/brown/short/gay/heavy/etc.

A jackass is a jackass. You could be anyone, from the Virgin Mary to the Pope and that person would still act like a jackass.

Having said that, I want to make it clear that I do know that many jackasses feel free to be extra jackassy toward people they perceive as vulnerable. This can include women, especially women of color, the physically challenged, older people, and/or people whose appearance in some other way makes them stand out from the herd of sheep.

digression

The question that makes me scratch my head is how to uproot and weed out that biologically ingrained instinct to attack "the other" that we all evolved with? Because that's a lot of what I think motivates this behavior. There's a wariness--a fear of "the other" that was part of what helped us survive long enough to evolve. That same instinct can been seen in a lot of other animal species.

Today, it's not PC, it's not socially acceptable to judge on the basis of appearance, but how much can fifty years of incomplete "social re-training" combat a million years of evolution?

I happen to think the answer to that is, "quite a lot" but the solution is found in education and familiarity and that makes me realize I'm in danger of wandering far from my original rant theme.

/digression

I'm just saying. Those of us who have the privilege of being sheeply enough not to trigger the jackass-reflex in those less-evolved types have an obligation to join in smacking down the jackass population, yes, but we cannot make them not be jackasses. (Note that I do not argue that it is not our responsibility to try.)

All I'm saying is, it would be useful if you could point us to a specific word and/or behavior or two--some kind of starting point for our smackdowns.

Thank you.


____________

* Being dissed by a jackass is a compliment. It means he looked at you and decided you were not like him. Jackassery being what it is, that essentially means he saw someone superior to himself and got snippy about it.

** The list is long. It does not include wanton or willful stupidity. Or jackassery.

__________________________________

Having posted this rant, the truth about why I was so irritated finally wafted through my brain. I am not a brave person--I am not the one who takes a stand in a public place, risking physical attack, in defense of a principle.

Pondering many of the stories I've read--I realized that I'm not certain that, if I'd witnessed these incidents and interpreted them the way these people interpreted them, I'd have had the courage to speak up.

So, you know, I'm taking it out on the victims to cover up my own inadequacies. Which makes me not really any better than the jackasses.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:37 PM | Comments (3)
March 18, 2010
No, Seriously

I saw online somewhere today that next year will be Reagan's "centennial" or something. He'd have been a hundred if he hadn't died, anyhow.

Apparently this is going to be a big deal for the news media, currently at a loss for rabble-rousing sensationalism. (DADT was revoked and no one cared. All reliable polling says that abortion is not at the center of the "health care reform" drama, in spite of dozens of news outlet headlines trying to say it is. Obama won't do anything outlandish they can make hay from. The so-called "Tea Party" is imploding from the weight of their own crazy. Palin is so five minutes ago.)

But. Seriously? Reagan? Reagan?

I mean, put Party labels aside, forget your own political affiliation for the moment. Look at results.

#1 - Reagan promised that if we gave rich people tax breaks, the money would "trickle down" to us.

First, how condescending is that? I don't need someone else's money trickled down to me, okay? I work for a living and always have. I'm not a charity case and I can't be pacified with the promise rich people will hand me a few bucks if I vote right and don't cause any trouble. One of the images Republican voters have about themselves is that they're affiliated with a party that supports and encourages rugged individualists. If that were true, Republican voters would have staged a rugged rebellion against this condescension.

Second, all other considerations aside, it was a lie. Rich people got richer. Poor people got poorer. People who had not been poor before became poor. Republican, Democrat, independent, apolitical, didn't matter. If you take money from everyone, then everyone will have less, but rich people will have, to coin a clumsy phrase, less less.

#2 - Reagan promised that union-busting would be good for labor--he promised that corporations would treat us right.

First, if you ever believed that, even for a split-second, take a moment now to look in the mirror and realize you're one of the people I'm thinking about when I diss the monumental stupidity of the general public.

Second--no, there is no second. Whyintheheck do you think unions were formed? Because corporations are not good to people, okay? Corporations exist to make money and to continue existing. That's all. There was never a time--never a minute, never a second--when it wasn't completely obvious that weakening labor and strengthening corporations was going to be disastrous for both the people and the stability of this country.

#3 - Reagan promised to shrink government and control inflation and make our national defense stronger and a lot of other BS.

First, by the time he left office, the Federal government was sucking down more--a lot more--of our GNP than it had been when he got there. So, you know, he didn't shrink anything except your paycheck.

Second, although the Fed did collect less in the way of taxes under his Administrations, more of what was collected came from poor people--people just like us! Increased Social Security withholding (Republicans have always sneered at this "socialist" social program while eagerly dipping their snouts in the trough and hoovering up the money it collects) and increased state and local taxes to offset Federal funding cuts.

So, you know, Tax cuts for the rich which, again, how stupid do people have to be to keep voting for the Party that keeps doing that?

Third, whatever he saved by cutting lifeline social and domestic programs--and he did cut those painfully, whatever he saved and more, he spent on developing weapons. (I am deeply concerned about how obsessed Republicans are with killing people.) He insisted that our defense had been sadly neglected in the half-dozen years or so since we'd pulled out of Vietnam and that we were in danger of being overcome by--wait for the--the Red Menace! The Evil Empire was coming to get us! (An obsession no doubt inspired by his long-before testimony, as a friendly witness, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. This happened at a time when, as the president of the Screen Actor's Guild, he might have been expected to be defending his industry, not selling it out.) Defense spending increased 40% or so in just his first term.

This was also, let me remind you, the point at which stories of corruption, gross cost overruns, and outright fraud from the DOD and their contractors became legion. (Money for projects--weapons and suchlike, increased, as did the stories covering wasted, misspent funds. Money for soldiers decreased. Money for corporations and crooks. None for people.)

So, not really money well spent, unless you consider explosive growth in the--wait for it--one of my favorite phrases is coming--explosive growth in the military-industrial complex to be money well spent. Personally, I don't feel that setting the world's feet on the path to pocket-sized nuclear weapons is that much to celebrate, but that's just me.

Fourth, while inflation did decrease, substantially, during his years in office, that's largely because the Reagan years came with the bonus of the worst period of recession this country had seen in thirty or forty years. A number of other factors, many involving moves by the Federal Reserve and factors involving other countries also contributed significantly to the slow-down in inflation.

He more than tripled the national deficit.

On a statistical level, a number of measures around economic growth were up by the time he left office, but when you consider that the modest increase in productivity was scooped up by the Federal government he'd promised to shrink and spent on bombs and bombers, it hardly seems worth it.

While claiming that too much Federal interference in people's lives was the root of all evil, he tried to push through legislation and regulations supporting his personal moral agenda. Rule changes and legislation that, let us be clear, would have required more, a whole lot more government interference to enforce.

Also, according to my sources*, what few neo-conservative agenda "gains" his Administration registered happened early on. It wasn't just the DOD that suffered from fast-spreading stories of fraud--even criminal behavior. From the suspiciously timed release of the hostages in Iran to James Watt to Reagan's corruption-ridden circle of cronies and advisors, a lot of Reagan's second term was preoccupied with aides hiding his Alzheimers and his inner circle dodging the law.

His full political history reflects opportunism. He campaigned for Democrats (and as a Democrat) for candidates from New Deal supporter Harry Truman (1947) through Eisenhower (1956). He didn't officially switch parties until 1962 (long after he campaigned, as a Democrat, for the 1960 losing candidature of Richard Nixon).

He displayed what I'd call immoral and unethical behavior--not the least of which was undermining Carter's work to get the Iranian hostage crisis resolved. Outright criminal behavior, like the complicated three-way Iran-Contra shell was not beneath him. (Nor did he have much respect for the American public. Even back then, with no easy access to information via the internet, it didn't take long for his poorly concealed deal-making and law-breaking to become public.)

His "achievements" weren't significant, even in the 80s and, as history is reporting, actually laid the seeds for the every-decade cycle of recession we're experiencing today. He weakened the country, stirred a pot that was already seething in the Middle East, presided over explosive growth in weapons development both at home and abroad, the fallout from which we're still dealing with today, gave the world Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and left a completely inexplicable "legacy" of positive achievement that I simply can't understand.

I know--I know--he had sky-high approval ratings when he left office. I just don't know why.

____________________


* All actual facts referred to in this article courtesy of the Reading Eagle, and NPR and a Dollars and Sense, since I felt it was important to back up my personal opinions with at least ten seconds of research.

I even read this from the Ashbrook Center and can highly recommend it. There's much to be amused at--counting how many times the "cultural elite" is referred to and wincing at the typos.

Also, be amused at the author's assertion that Reagan accomplished nothing after the first couple of years because he knew that being President of the United States meant holding a weak position and that anything he didn't do instantly, on gaining office, he wouldn't be able to do at all.

I honestly did go looking, although not very hard, for rightwing historical support of Reagan's so-called accomplishments, but my thirty seconds of research didn't reveal any sites where the list didn't begin and end with the downfall of the Soviet Union, as thought he'd jogged over there and single-handedly toppled the tottering empire, so this entry, which was never going to be even-handed, is all from my perspective and supported largely by sites cherry-picked to give me the sound-bite style 'facts' I was looking for. Big surprise.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)