Kavanaugh

Need anything else be said?

The Kavanaugh hearings scraped us raw. For far too many of us it brought up old memories. I’m someone who has gotten off lightly — I’ve never been raped, never date raped, never physically abused by husband or boyfriend or parents. And I still kept remembering One. More. Encounter. Some were things that happened to me like the time I had to walk out and home in the middle of a warm night, or the time I thought I was going to be date raped, but then it didn’t happen. Others concerned friends, female and one male, who have been raped or date raped, and some of that was before we even had a word for date rape. Just remembering one more fucked up situation after another — and yes, I just swore. I spent that entire week swearing a lot and feeling like I was walking around in a simmering rage.

The more of Dr. Ford’s testimony I heard, and the more it sank in, the more I realized that it was exactly how I remembered things — some of it perfectly clearly, like that midnight walk home, other parts completely fuzzy, like addresses and dates. Her remembrances rang true, and the more I listened the more certain I was that I believed her.

Yes, we all do stupid things in our youth — but most of us don’t rape people. Most men, even drunk, know that’s something that one just doesn’t do. They know this the same way that they know better than to rob a casino or convenience store or steal a car, better than to kick a dog to death or microwave a kitten, better than to throw gas on someone and then light it. They know right from wrong and even young, drunk and stupid, they know there are lines you don’t cross. Saying “boys will be boys” is just an excuse for lack of restraint and lack of conscience.

I also spent the week painting rocks. It was a way to deal with stress, and my new hobby. You paint a picture or saying on the front and “  (city or other location)   Rocks” on the back, along with “post on Facebook, keep or rehide” and then you leave the rock for someone else to find. Most don’t get posted, but this one did, and as you can see, occasionally I have to paint a subversive rock. I’m glad I did this one, and even more so that it went to someone who appreciated it, and maybe needed it as much as I needed to make it.

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The War on the Poor and The War on the Enlightenment

I’ve been calling the work by the Trump administration and the greater Republican Party to destroy America’s safety net The War on the Poor for some time now.  This includes CHiP, Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP (aka food stamps), Social Security, and a host of other individual programs at the local level designed to help those in need.  The current plan of the Trump Administration (which of course could change at the drop of a hat, or a presidential tweet) is to merge Labor and Education and dump Housing in somehow with that, to create a new department that deals with housing, education and welfare, along with labor, and which would also pull food stamps away from the Agriculture Department to include it under this umbrella.  Trump thinks this will streamline things, but the old Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) department was separated in the late 70’s under Carter, breaking Education apart from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) because having them all together was too unwieldy.  It’s hard to see that they would be any less so today; what’s more likely is that putting all the safety net programs in one place will make it easier to cut funding for them — because really, when in recent years has the GOP not tried to cut any one of these programs?

Fighting for each of these programs individually is wearing.  We feel like we’re running between fires, trying desperately to put one out only to have another spring up in its place.  Seeing this all as part of a concerted attack, a War on the Poor, and naming it as such, makes it easier to wrap our heads around.  It also makes it easier to avoid feeling worn down, worn out, because we can see that we’re not the only ones fighting the battles.  When we drop in our tracks, there’s someone else to pick up where we left off and keep going until we’ve recovered enough to start again.  A host of people are all in this with us, and fighting the same battle on different fronts, we don’t have to win the entire fight ourselves, just the small part that is in front of us because there are many other people fighting it as well and together all of us are making a difference.  Sometimes it’s important to see the big picture and name it as such.  A War on the Poor.

And along that line, I saw this comment on a friend’s Facebook post recently:

Worse that that, it’s the war on everything the enlightenment stood for. Logic, reason, religious tolerance, liberty, tolerance and individual liberty. Everything the founding fathers stood for. It’s sad and now I see it’s becoming very, very dangerous right now.

Seeing this made some pieces fall into place for me, the same way that calling it a War on the Poor did for someone else when I made that comment on Facebook recently.  It’s part of a pattern, and I think that’s why I react to some things at a gut level without always being able to sort out the reasons right away.  Enlightenment philosophy is a foundation of American democracy and of Western thinking.  Jefferson and Franklin and the rest all came out of a very specific world view, and yes, they were all fallible humans and did individual wrongs, but they had some very specific values they believed in and they started this nation as a very radical experiment based on those — and we forget how radical that notion was at the time, that a people could govern themselves justly, under the rule of law, rather than having a king as an authority figure and as head of a state religion.  The current administration, and a large segment of the GOP is trying to destroy that.  And the rest of the GOP is to cowed to stand up to them.  I won’t say cowardly, because I think there is good reason for their fear, but I do wonder if the Republican Party won’t find itself splitting in half because of this before the dust has settled.

In the meantime, there is a strength in naming things.

A War on the Poor.

A War on the Enlightenment.

America the Melting Pot — we used to be proud of this.

I am Czech. That means Bohemian. Than means Bohunk.
 
Yeah, that was the word 100 to 150 years ago for one of the shithole countries of Europe, according to America.
 
I am also Scotch-Irish, and English, and there’s a smidgen of Pennsylvania Dutch (which means German) and another possible smidgen of Welsh and maybe one of actual Dutch in there somewhere. A true daughter of the melting pot. On my mother’s mother’s side I claim pure Czech, on her father’s I could claim and prove the DAR. How melting pot can you get?
 
This much melting pot — my son’s father (my ex) on his father’s side is pure Irish — shanty Irish as they say — and as far as I can trace the genealogy, they may have come over during the famine; they certainly came over by the late 19th or early 20th century. (His dad’s mom’s people probably came later than his father’s people.). My ex said his grandma never lost her Irish accent, but I think it may have been her parents who came to America? Not sure….. Trying to trace it, his grandfather’s people may have come earlier.
 
On the ex’s mother’s side though we can trace one line back to early Massachusetts, extremely early Massachusetts. Like, not the Mayflower, but the second or third ship to arrive after? Someone called Nicholas Snow came on the Good Ship Anne before 1632 I think it is, which means my son could be a member of the Mayflower Society if I could get the paperwork together and come up with the money for him to join it, because his grandmother was a Snow. Sheesh…….
 
So yeah. We’re melting pot. White, but about as melting pot as you can get while still being classified white in America.
 
Did you know that Irish weren’t always classified as white back in the day? Not sure what they were considered, but yeah — English/Irish relations at their best (or worst) — the Irish were considered second class citizens and not, well, white, back in part of the 19th century. On the other hand, at the time North Africans (which now are being discriminated against as Moslems) were considered white, and as of the last census still were listed this way. Next census? Who knows?
 
Race, in other words, is a construct. So is ethnicity, and the lines between the two blur.
 
But this brings us to President Trump, and his comments this week.
 
“Shithole countries.”
 
“Shithole.”
 
Seriously?
 
At some point, if you aren’t White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) you are considered to be shithole. Not always, different places are more likely to be approved of at different times and the closer you come to that ideal, the more likely you are to be approved of. So Trump’s “why not more Norwegians?” — they are both white and Protestant, or descended from Protestants so they check off two of those most of the time. So they were generally okay, but not always. Not always…..
 
Norski. I think that was as much of a put-down as Bohunk and Polack once, and I don’t think anyone bothered to actually figure out if you actually came from Norway, or Sweden, or Denmark originally. You were just Norski. Maybe they’d give you a job, because you were tall and blond and not obviously dark and short and Eastern or Southern European, and you weren’t Catholic or Jewish. But you still didn’t speak English so you were still not quite a good trustable American, you were one of those immigrants……  And that is how it goes.

Now we’re worried about a different set of immigrants, but the language hasn’t changed.  It’s still a matter of “we don’t want you here, you’re not WASP enough.”  And you never will be.  And therein lies the problem.

Because it really is about race (and religion), however you define it.  Who you dump into that unwanted bucket may change, but some people will always be in it, no matter what they do, because of their skin color.  The Polish and the Bohemians and the Irish and Italians may escape because at some point their skin is light enough for them to pass the first part of that list, the big W at the beginning of that list, even though they were Catholic.  In the same way the North Africans escaped it till recently because they were light skinned, even though they were Moslem.  But the Native Americans and the South Asians and the people of sub-Saharan Africa or their descendants in the Americas, and now the people of North Africa and the Middle East won’t because their skin color is wrong or their religion is wrong or both.  And the Hispanics, especially the dark-haired, dark-skinned ones, and their descendants in the Americas always have had both religion and skin color against them.

We used to be proud to be called the melting pot.  Now it seems we are ashamed to be one.

It’s not about the word “shithole” as Fox News is trying to make out.  I use that kind of language myself, it doesn’t offend me.  It’s about calling an entire group of people because of the color of their skin or where the were born or who their ancestors were (or all three) as coming from a shithole, as therefore being shit and therefore worthless.

We built and are continuing to build America.
We are not shit.

Donald Trump just doesn’t get it, does he?

Using “Pocahontas” as a stand-in word for any Native American woman (especially in front of the people it refers to), especially when you are using it to insult someone (as he was doing), does not count as a joke.

The closest equivalent I can give would be if you were insulting someone of Irish descent and called them “that Mick” instead of “that Irishman”. You don’t get out of that by then saying “Oh, I was telling a joke,” when it was obvious you weren’t.

Moreover, he did this in front of a group of Native American veterans, insulting them to their face. Again, this is the equivalent of making an insult using “that Mick” and doing it in front of a group of Irish or Irish-Americans. You do not get out of it by saying “it was a joke” because both you and they damned well know it wasn’t.

And he did this at an event that was supposed to be honoring veterans. Native American veterans. He professes to admire veterans but he is exceedingly tone deaf any time he is dealing with any veterans who are not white.

He pulled Elizabeth Warren into it in order to take a cheap shot at her in insulting terms and in doing so insulted his entire audience in racial terms, for no good reason except that he couldn’t pass up the chance to take the cheap shot at an event it was unrelated to and that was supposed to be all about the veterans’ service.

Taxes and Trickle Down Economics

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to a handy video explaining wealth distribution in the United States in an easy to understand graphical form. It was too good to pass up, so I’m sharing it here, along with my thoughts about the current Republican tax plan as favored by the current administration. This: 9 out of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong about This Mind Blowing Fact

The people getting the main tax cuts are the top 1% who don’t fit on the chart. The rest of us are getting tinkering which may or may not put a little more money in our pockets. Some of us will probably have our taxes actually go up once deductions are eliminated.

The people getting the lion’s share of tax savings are supposedly going to reinvest it so that everyone benefits — this is officially called supply side economics, but is better known as trickle down economics, since the benefits supposedly trickle down. The elder George Bush once referred to it as voodoo economics and while it has been tried before, it never has actually worked. Instead it has led to an ever-widening gap between the lowest paid workers and the upper echelons of the ultra rich as well as to a progressively disappearing middle class. There is no reason to think that the results will be any different this time.

In the meantime, the national deficit will balloon as lost tax revenue will have nothing to replace it. The economic growth that is supposed to offset the lost monies is being over-optimistic and over-promised by the Republican establishment which is in a hurry to pander to their mega-doners who are only interested in protecting their personal wealth.

The rich get richer, the poor get…….

You know the rest.

Attributions

It occurs to me that I need to admit I stole the title of this blog from someone’s email signature line.  Unfortunately it was a line I used to get on email through a listserv — remember those?  if you do, you, like me, can officially claim to be old.  I have no idea who used it since I last saw it sometime between 20 and 25 years ago.

So whoever I borrowed this from, I apologize for not giving your proper attribution.  But this title seems to fit our current political situation, and it was too good to pass up.

Why I marched…

So I marched in the local version of the Women’s March on Washington Saturday.

Someone earlier tonight had a post up on Facebook about why they didn’t march.  It had to do with how women in America have all these freedoms and rights (voting, making their own choices, controlling their own bodies, etc.) while women in a number of places around the world put up with major injustices and horrors. And it had to do with how we were whining, even though we had it so good.

This was not put up by a man, but by a transgender female, and it echoes something I think I read earlier so it may have been at least in part copied and pasted, but if so, it was without attribution.  It was however politely written for the most part, though with a few insults thrown in.  Certainly claiming we’re whining is a way to delegitimize anything we say.

(Come to think of it, I love (you do hear my sarcasm?) how we’re told “we should all be polite” or “can’t we all just be nice to each other and get along?” or words to this effect and then the person who says that insults us.  But that’s a post for a different time.)

Maybe this just pushed some buttons, but I started to write a short response.  It grew.  And this is it:

I am not exactly sure where to start, but I will try to be respectful. I marched, but it is related to all those examples you list. We know about those.

But I also marched because there is a move on to restrict access to birth control in this county. To health care. Not just for women, but for low income people.

Because there seems to be more interest in making sure people can’t vote than that they can at the moment.

Because it’s going to be harder to get money to go to college, and that makes such a difference in being able to pull yourself up out of poverty. And poverty disproportionately impacts women and children being raised by single parents who are most often women.

Because my ex’s niece just married her partner last summer, and my best friend’s child is transgendered.

Because South Dakota statistically has the second highest rate for rape per capita in the US, only being beaten out by Alaska. And because a friend in college was date-raped before we even had a word for that, and a close friend was gang-raped.

Because decades ago when I was in high school and we were about to take the college placement tests a teacher casually told us that they used to rank the males and females separately on the mechanical aptitude section, and all these girls were getting high scores so were planning to go into technology but that now they pooled the boys and girls scores together and the girls didn’t do that well since they now were being scored against the boys instead of just against other girls. The message was very blatantly “girls can’t do mechanics” and “don’t plan a career in this, you’ll never be able to compete with the boys.” I still nailed that section of the test.

Because Breitbart has a headline from June 2015 that literally says “Here’s Why There Ought to Be a Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths” when my sister-in-law was a statistics major at the School of Mines who makes her living in IT, who helped make sure that all the machines and computers at Rapid City Regional Hospital were Y2K compliant over 15 years ago (and was interviewed on local TV about it) and whose first career job was comparing statistics from flight tests of the Sidewinder missile at China Lake Naval Weapons Center in California over 25 years ago.

Because I actually once picked up a Christian book on dating advice that literally said to play dumb so that as a woman I wouldn’t seem to be intelligent. Or at least not more intelligent than a guy. Needless to say I didn’t buy it, but still…..

Because when I was engaged we were using birth control (condom and diaphragm) but we slipped up one night and so I went in to get a morning after pill even though I was pretty sure I wasn’t at mid-cycle, because mid-cycle is unpredictable and so is the exact length of your period, and withdrawal doesn’t work. And even though it was legal and I had every right to ask for it, the doctor refused to give me the pill at the student health center because HE didn’t believe in it. His choice, not mine — on a Saturday morning when student health closed down at noon until Monday, and you have to take the morning after pill within 72 hours, but it’s most effective within the first 24. I went back Monday morning and got the pill within the end of that 72 hour window from a different doctor who told me the first one had no right to have refused me, and who gave me his regular clinic phone number for when he wasn’t working at student health and told me to call him there if this ever happened again. This was in 1990, and our reproductive rights have been being whittled away every decade since. They’d like to ban the morning after pill if they could get away with it.

Because there’s someone distributing a white-supremacist antisemitic, anti-Native American newsletter on the free newspaper piles in western South Dakota. It’s called the Stampede, and has been found at convenience stores in Caputa, New Underwood, and Beulah, Wyo., and I heard also in Kadoka. This neo-Nazi crap is in our backyard.

Because when I posted that I didn’t support Trump on a friend’s Facebook page before the election (she did support him), one of her other friends went off on why one of the reasons she supported him was so that we could return America to being a Christian nation. Only I’m Wiccan, and my kid is agnostic — but also I was raised Catholic and know that Christian in America has always meant Protestant Christian. Catholics weren’t ever trusted, and if you go back to the late 19th and early 20th century a lot of the anti-immigrant feeling is tied up with the fact that the immigrants who were coming to America (especially Irish and Italians) were Catholics. Catholicism was used in the campaign against Kennedy, and before that it led to Al Smith’s defeat by Herbert Hoover in 1928.

For that matter I marched because on one side of my ancestry I have Irish and on the other I have Bohemian. And both the Irish and the Eastern European immigrants weren’t wanted here in America.

All of this and more slushed together and because it’s so disparate it was hard to put a voice to. If you’d asked me yesterday, “why are you marching” I’d have had trouble explaining it, because some of this is so unrelated to other of it. But part of why I marched is because I’m tired of being told to sit down and shut up. Not by you, not in the least, but rather just sort of generally, in the random comments made to people on the Rapid City Journal online edition, or in Facebook posts like the one where someone answered my comment with that we should all just unite and be polite to each other and then two comments later insulted the candidate I voted for in no uncertain terms.

I marched because the version of America I see coming is one I really don’t like or believe in and that I don’t think represents the best about us. And I’m tired of being quiet.

Feel free to share this, though I’d like attribution.  You may need to edit it slightly, as it’s South Dakota-centric.

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