Monday, February 24, 2014

The Truth of It All Revised


Honesty, is such a lonely word, 
Everyone is so untrue,
Honesty, is hardly ever heard,
And mostly what I need from you,
I can always find someone,
To say they sympathize,
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve,
But I don't want some pretty face,
To tell me pretty lies.
All I want is someone to believe,



Billy Joel laments the sadness of this song that it's heart breaking when you can't find honesty in a person, or an institute. Our military promises to be the best; to train a man or a woman to serve; to give a band of brothers and sisters who will fight along them.  Truly Honesty has become such a lonely word because brothers are raping other brothers or sisters; and the very organization that made promises to you, rejects you when you're a victim.

If You Look For Truthfulness 

As we continue the waiting game on the fate of the Military Justice Improvement Act, I wonder about the hearts of those opposing such a straight-forward piece of legislation, that would curb the rising tide of sexual assaults of men and women in our Armed Forces.  For two decades, Congress has heard the stories, seen the numbers, and even listened to the testimony of sexual assault victims. The stories are so familiar you could almost predict each nightmarish scenario in your sleep. A man or woman is sexually assaulted by a fellow serviceman or a superior.  If he or she chooses to report the crime, their commander does little to nothing in prosecuting the assailant. Many times the victim is labeled a troublemaker, given harsh duty, ostracized, and in some cases the assaults continue.  Eventually the victim is given less than an honorable discharge, turned back into society crippled with PTSD or MST. And Congress continues to allow that very institution to remain empowered, and  to deal with the problem as they see fit.



Lost Boys playing their game of "Pretend Dinner"

The Military Institution isn't defending an actual reality of authority that is needed to maintain good order and discipline. They're defending a perception wrapped up in rhetoric. For over 25 years now, the folks on Capitol Hill have been feasting on a pretend meal of "Zero Tolerance in the military for rape," with a side of "Good Order And Discipline" And sadly that has left sexual assault victims, survivors, and advocates wondering if we will ever be served an honest to goodness real meal of justice. 

For quite a while now, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) has come to the Senate floor and spoken about sexual assault and rape in the military. Last count was 29 times. She has shared honest stories of survivors, and their brutal treatment at the hands of rapists and the system. These are stories that should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Jesus of Nazareth told a parable  of a woman who went before an unjust judge to get justice. She would appear before this judge almost everyday until finally, the woman got her justice. Like the parable of the woman and the unjust judge; Congressman Speier has cried out for justice on behalf of men and women who, as she puts it, "are being attacked even as we speak now."  Yet the needle to implement real change in military justice has barely moved.


The words from the Senator should touch a place in all of us. That just like Emperor Nero; Congress fiddles away while our military burns with this crime.
"Seventy men and women serving in the military every single day are sexually assaulted and raped.--- While we sit here and we talk, that's going on.  And for over 25 years--- for over 25 years we have known about this problem and we have done very little. Aberdeen Tailhook, The military academies, Lackland,--- all these are happening under our collective watch and we have found it acceptable to hold hearings--- to bring the brass up here--- have them say the right words, 'zero-tolerance' and then we would go about our business--- that is not good enough." -26th Military Speech by Congresswoman Jackie Speier

You Might Just As Well Be Blind

 Even with the promise to straighten up and fly right, more reports continue to pour in from our military institution on their unwillingness to meet and fix this problem. The case of rape at the Navy Academy; A female cadet accused 3 US Navy football players of sexually assaulting her, and true to military form, the lawyers for all 3 men grilled the accuser for 30 hours over things such as her sexual habits, how she performed oral sex.  First in September of 2013, the three men stood trial, then by October, there were only two facing an article 32 hearing, and now--- you guessed it! As of January of 2014, there is only one!
"The decision to drop charges against the midshipman, Eric Graham, means that only one of three former football players accused of sexually assaulting a female midshipman at an off-campus party in 2012 will face court-martial. Charges were never brought against the third midshipman. The remaining defendant, Joshua Tate, is charged with aggravated sexual assault and making false statements. Mr. Graham had been facing charges of abusive sexual contact and making false statements." -Sexual Assault Charges Dropped at Annapolis New York Times January 10, 2014

Any guess what sort of justice the victim can expect in this loop-hole military justice process? Sounds a little Agatha Christie to me. "And Then There Were None." She is again victimized as she watches another one of her assailants walk free.

Keep your eye on this story from the Air Force Times as it develops about an Air Force Reserves Major, who is being charged with the distribution of child pornography. 
"Maj. David Riley had several online conversations with an undercover detective from Washington's Metropolitan Police Department after responding to a Craigslist advertisement posted by a joint police-FBI task force, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia."-Air Force major charged with distributing child pornography Jeff Schogol AF Times Thursday Feb 6, 2014

If that's not enough to convince you that leaving the crime of sexual
assault and rape in the hands of commanders is wrong, then read the article from the Associated Press on the Military's Chaotic Sexual Abuse Record.  These are crimes perpetrated on soldiers overseas by other fellow soldiers and even superiors. Also the report reflects a growing outrage from civilians in places like Okinawa Japan, and Korea, because women have been attacked by Military personnel.

The AP analysis found the handling of allegations verged on the chaotic, with seemingly strong cases often reduced to lesser charges. In two rape cases, commanders overruled recommendations to court-martial and dropped the charges instead.  Even when military authorities agreed a crime had been committed, the suspect was unlikely to serve time.By YURI KAGEYAMA and RICHARD LARDNER — Feb. 9, 2014 AP

Where Else Can I Turn

Going back to what Congresswoman Jackie Speier said, this problem needs to be attacked at both ends, regardless of rank or military record.  My guess would be that men and women who have been attacked by their own still do not trust this system in place, with its few congressional patch fixes. It is still a leaky, rickety ship; still trying to sail and bail. 
Last week Kirsten Gillibrand had an interview with Chris Hayes to get an update on her fight to bring the MJIA to the floor for a vote. I learned some interesting things about the Senator in that interview. Mainly, she didn't just take this on because she didn't have anything better to do. Also she is willing to meet the oppositions filibuster. That is how important this issue has become to her.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Continues To Fight on

 "We have 54 Senators who are with us. ---It's Bipartisan.-- if our opponents want to filibuster a bill-- if they want to filibuster justice for these men and women who will give their lives for this country--- that is their right and we will meet that 60 vote threshold."
 And so now the date has been moved forward to March sometime. I keep asking myself why all of the opposition and road blocks in getting this bill passed? Some of the answers are obvious. Perhaps from the Pentagon's point of view, to cave into the idea that they need a separate civilian entity to process sexual assault crimes would mean that they are weak in handling the problems within the walls of their own institution. Perhaps their message to Congress has been: give us a bill that doesn't take away our authority and we will sign off on it.  If that is the case, then the Pentagon and Congress has missed the most important point in this whole issue; it's not about the authority of the chain of command, its about the troops that they lead. The MJIA bill will not undermined their ability to command their troops, and they know that. It's all about perception with them.
And so what keeps two people like these Congresswomen charging ahead and never forgetting what this is all about? Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering said to Katie Couric in an interview: 

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering
"You know I think the military's finally just starting to take this issue seriously, but they're looking at it from the top, down.--- Education's great but you can't force education down the chain of command-- but if you look at it from the bottom up from a victim--- there is an entirely different perspective and the problem is they're not sitting down with enough victims and talking; if once you start talking to victims you realize you can't report it in the chain of command. They will not do it--- they will not trust it. Most people assaulted by someone has a higher rank in their larger chain of command-- they just don't trust it." -Kirby Dick, The Invisible War: A Film and Discussion
"We're going to get this done!" Jackie Speier
to survivor Trina McDonald
If you compare the reality of survivors who have lobbied Washington and spoken to some of our Senators; Senator's who listen to the stories of victims, and who tell their story 29 times on the Senate floor, is the big difference of understanding that sexual assault, harassment, and rape in the military is about getting justice for the victim, and not about a failed chain of command's need for good order and discipline.

Tell Me Pretty Lies

This is an updated version of my original report. It puts a spotlight on the dishonesty of our Senate leadership. This morning I received news from Rosie Palfry Via Huffington Post that the MIJA Bill that was ready to come to the floor for debate and a vote, has received a stone wall by a Republican Senator Jerry Moran. (R-Kan)

"WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, blocked a bid Monday to vote on bills to combat sexual assault in the military, saying he wanted a vote on Iran sanctions in return. In the Senate, it takes just one lawmaker to shoot down such requests. Moran did just that, insisting another bill that didn't get a vote last year -- a measure to levy tougher sanctions on Iran -- should come to the floor along with the sexual assault bills. "I'm terribly disappointed that my Republican friends are trying to turn this vital national security concern into a partisan issue by trying to inject [it] into a setting where it's clearly not relevant," Reid said." -Michael McAuliff Huffington Post.Com

An outraged Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took to the Senate floor to express her dismay and outrage over a move that was clearly a dirty trick to block and stonewall a bill that could curb an epidemic of sexual assault in the military. An epidemic that affects the lives of military men and women, at rate of 70 per day. In order to watch this video you will need a device that uses a Adobe Flash Player App. Or watch it on your computer or laptop.
 "This is a sad day for the US senate. What does it say about a body that after having seen so many brave survivors of sexual assault in the military a walk through the halls at this congress for over a year now we can't even give them the decency have a debate on the reform they so deeply believe in. A reform that they so deeply that they have selflessly re-told their stories--- re-living some the worst moments of their lives. ---All so hopefully someone else doesn't have to suffer what they did. ---They may not wear the uniform anymore, but you can't tell me the aren't still serving their country through their sacrifice. ---And we can't even agree to vote  for moving forward to the debate on the issue.--- They deserve a vote! The men and women who serve in our armed forces deserved a vote! Anyone Who Has been listening, has heard over and over again from survivors of sexual assault in the military--- how the deck has been stacked against them. --- And for two full decades the Defense Department has been on able to uphold its continued failed promises up zero tolerance for sexual assault."
Sad to say but a bill that started out as Bipartisan may become a partisan issue. Honesty is hardly ever heard, and mostly what we need from the Senate!

So needless to say, we need an honest system, that will not put the mission first, and give the Best of The Best a get out of jail free card on this crime, or any heinous crime, but that the process will be impartial, honest, and fair.  I am convinced that it cannot be done with the chain of command.
Again consider honestly making your voice known for victims of sexual assault with in the military by contacting your Senator or State Representative today.

You might want to tweet Senator's Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jackie Speier or like their Facebook pages. Thank them for their tireless efforts to keep this fight alive on the Senate floor.  They are amazing Invisible Warriors. The War continues.

Thanks again friends on Twitter who keep me up to date on what's going on with these issues.
Rosie Palfry, Barbara Jackson, Hawkeye. Victoria Sanders. and VeraSantaClara

Sources: Associated Press: DOCUMENTS REVEAL CHAOTIC MILITARY SEX-ABUSE RECORD
              You Tube -Kirby Dick, The Invisible War: A Film and Discussion
               MSNBC -Sen. Gillibrand joins for exclusive interview
               AF Times - Major Charged With Distributing Child Pornography
               NY Times- -Sexual Assault Charges Dropped at Annapolis New York Times January 10, 2014
               HuffingtonPost.Com- GOP Senator Blocks Votes On Military Sexual Assault To Push Iran Sanctions



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wake Up Everybody


Wake up everybody, no more sleepin' in bed,

No more backward thinkin'; time for thinkin' ahead.
The world has changed so very much,
From what it used to be so,
There is so much hatred, war, an' poverty,

The world won't get no better if we just let it be,
The world won't get no better, we gotta change it yeah, 
just you and me.



Rikki Tikki Tavi
Remember the story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi? Whether you were introduced to it by the book that Rudyard Kipling wrote, or through the Chuck Jones animated special on television, you will remember that a cobra has but one enemy, and that is the mongoose. A fierce and swift little creature that can kill a cobra in a flash. I was amazed that this little animal could be a mortal enemy to the deadliest creature known. Kipling describe Rikki-Tikki as a creature that eats and sleeps very little. He moves
An ever vigilant Rikki discovers the Cobra plot
quickly from place to place, always hurrying to investigate. The vigilance of the mongoose is what, no doubt, saved the people living in the big house, because Rikki-Tikki was always on the move, making sure he knew where his enemy was. We, no doubt, need a mongoose-type justice in our society and our military. Because the snakes are always slithering and ready to strike.

No More Sleepin' In Bed

I was reminded how much we mustn't take our rights for granted when someone tweeted to me after the last publication: "Kevin, I hate to ruin your day but you need to look at this: Clicking onto the link, I discovered that this (harump!) person was declaring that "a woman's no, means yes." The article continued pontificating the worse dreck this side of the "Date Grape Kool-Aid scandal." *


Women say “no” to me in one way or another on a regular basis, e.g. “no, you can’t have my number”, “no, I should go home”, “no, I’m not coming into your apartment”, and of course, the classic, “no, we’re not having sex”.Yet somehow, when it’s all said and done, the woman is invariably happy that I didn’t listen to a single word of protest she uttered; that I barreled through her resistance nonchalantly and drove the ball to the basket. Women RESPECT this sexual insistence even if they aren’t acutely aware of it.- When her No Means Yes. By Vincent Venturi
That's only the opening statement from this article. It get's worse--- I wonder if the dude had a mom or someone to teach him that women aren't playthings.  If you decide to read the full article, be fore-warned, it may make you crazy!  Mr. Vincent Venturi's goal, it seems, is to free his oppressed brothers from the shackles of consent, claiming that most women who enjoy the act, will later cry rape as a need for acceptance. Now, as my heart beat through my chest reading that piece of BS, I wanted to show it to the Pentagon and the top Military Brass of our Armed Forces.




Imagine "Mr. Top Military Commander," a young man who reads a blog like that one by Venturi raising his hand and taking the oath of allegiance at the induction center?  While high standards of sound mind and body are to be applauded; what about moral courage and character, on and off the battle field?  If soldier a sees a woman as his potential porn fantasy--- to be taken whenever he wants to, then don't be surprised by the DOD's next report at the end of this year. Because "Mr. Commander if your idea of maintaining good order in the ranks is to tell your men and women "Don't get raped," and to ship off a rapist, and discharge his victim, you've just given the disciples of Vincent Venturi a gold card to "Be all that they can be!"  That kind of person put into uniform, ripe with this gospel of misogyny, and he will slither his way through the ranks preying upon female and male comrades, whom he swore to aid and protect.  When a snake is a higher ranking NCO, then he preys upon soldiers easier because he can hide behind his rep of military service, good family man, etc.  After all, who is going to believe the word of a "slick sleeve boot camp female" against the word of a drill sergeant with a stellar reputation?



"And they made the determination that this Drill Sergeant wasn't smart enough to do this--- that he didn't have any reason why he would do this--- he has a family; he has a wife--- so they went with the fact that they were going to just keep it at company level, and kind of sweep it underneath the rug, and they didn't believe me at all."

No More Backward Thinkin'

Some men in uniform don't see a soldier, they see a woman, or a weak male, to humiliate. We need a mongoose-type military justice that is always alert and ready to strike hard. If you go back to the old system of telling soldiers "don't get raped, here's a pamphlet, a video and a battle buddy app for your cell phone---" then you've done nothing proactive. Justice is not damage control and rhetoric; it's catching the people who are committing these crimes and making sure that they feel the the full extent of the the law, and send a real message that soldiers don't rape! Soldiers defend their comrades and this nation, and that poisonous thinking from people like Mr. Venturi's is not the military way. I want to point out there are some very good things being done to speak out against sexual assault, but when a perp receives a get out of jail free card, then all then the path to good intentions still lead to the same cliff!

Mongoose-type justice has to be planned and then swiftly executed. PFC Schuette was transferred to a new platoon and endured ridicule from other Drill Sergeants and well as some of her own peers. Finally she made her move to strike back at the head of the cobra.



The intestinal fortitude of this young soldier is to be commended. She was left with no other choice but to jump the military chain of command shark and go to someone that she hoped would listen to her. As it turned out her Sargent Major listened and responded appropriately, and thereby uncovering other crimes committed by this Cobra with the stellar reputation. 
"From the outside this drill sergeant was stellar. He was fast-tracking on his way to first sergeant--- he really was."
When a perpetrator singles out his prey, his behavior is lost on others, such as in this case. He's a tough bad-ass type who is admired for his abilities as a drill instructor, he only shows his military professional style to most of his trainees. A smart perpetrator influences other recruits below him by not acting out in front of them. And so most recruits or enlisted types don't see his behavior, only that he is this great person.  A slick snake-like crafty perp will choose his time and place to make his move. Many times it's hard to connect the dots in his behavior because many are afraid to speak out, but in PFC Schuette case, it was the combined efforts of leadership plus some brave recruits that proved to be his undoing.

Time For Thinking Ahead

Thomas Jefferson
Perhaps the best way to look to the future is to look to a voice from the past. Thomas Jefferson was quoted to say "The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance" As we are experiencing reversal in voting rights, women's reproductive rights, and other issues, it should be apparent to us all, that we need to wake up and always watch out for the snakes that look for a chance to strike at the heel of justice.  Perhaps Jefferson knew--- that to have liberty for his generation was one thing, but liberty dies if it is not taught, exercised, and protected by us all.  We must be ever watching and learning, ready to sound the alarm.  The shelf life of what we have will expire as soon we believe that civil rights and freedoms are on automatic pilot. A very upset woman tweeted me asking what has happen to the very freedoms that civil right's leaders fought for?  Do we need to fight for them again?  I would say yes!  We must speak out, not just when injustice attacks US, but for others as well.  The recruits in that platoon learned that its better to speak out in fear, than to suffer in silence. 

Martin Niemöller was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.  He is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me

The World Won't Get No Better


The snakes are still slithering through the ranks of the military.  It's a big job to get them out of our systems and into prisons, but it would be easier if the commanders and military leaders would put their men and women before tradition.  The Military Justice Improvement Act is a bill that will help our military men and women to have their rights protected against sexual assault and murder. Until there is more cooperation and decency within the Chain of Command, and perpetrators are no longer protected, then we must encourage our elected officials in Washington DC to put in place this law that will strike swiftly and eradicate the snake of sexual assault from our military. Again, if you haven't done so, its time to wake up, and alert your State Representative or Congress Person to vote yes for the MJIA.

*Update! The owner of the Daquiri Factory has changed the name of their drink from "Date Grape Kool-Aid" to "Q-LAID"  What do you think? Still feel a little Misogynistic to you? Leave a comment.

Thank you bonimaroni ‏@eyorker1 for sharing the Return of The Kings Blog! You didn't ruin my day.
Thanks GeeeBeee for giving me the update on The Daiquiri Factory. In my own opinion, it's a creative spin but that's all it is. 

Sources
When her No Means Yes. By Vincent Venturi - Check it out but take your BP meds first!


 Pass MJIA
Please Click Here







Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reflections Of My Life

The changing of sunlight to moonlight   
Reflections of my life
Oh, how they fill my eyes
The greetings of people in trouble
Reflections of my life
Oh, how they fill my eyes
Oh, my sorrows
Sad tomorrows
Take me back to my own home

Reflections of My life is the adopted song of every war weary soldier since the Vietnam crisis. Men fighting a war that seems to take a toll on their minds and spirits. The sad part was they knew that they weren't popular back in America for being in what was called the most unpopular war ever fought.  And as they fought on, their bodies wracked with weariness and minds drained from sleep, would long for the fighting to end. 

The World Is A Bad Place
Rachel Weisz as Kathryn Bolkovac in the Whistle Blower
The WhistleBlower is a book written  by Kathryn Bolkovac who went to Bosnia as part of a UN mission. She discovered kidnapping of young girls, sex trafficking and other crimes - and refused to stay silent about it. I saw the movie with Rachel Weisz, who played Bolkovac. It must have been unnerving to find the very system you were working with was almost as corrupt, and the victims were silenced by brutality and death. Going against a corrupt system has its price to pay and that's where we make a decision. Are we going to help? Or stand by doing nothing?

There are women and men who are beginning to share their stories of sexual assault with me on many levels. As I have said previously, there is nothing funny about rape. Yet some person thought it was clever to call a cocktail "Date Grape Kool-Aid."  Jamie Pendelton, the owner of the establishment "The "Daiquiri Factory," apparently couldn't help himself in promoting this drink. Mr. Pendelton has no idiot-filter, cause this was a stupid thing to do. 
"There are some serious topics you can joke about: Life’s unavoidable death sentence? Hilarious. The frailty of man in the face a cold and unforgiving universe? Knee-slapping good fun. But naming a drink after the very serious, unfunny subject of date rape? Nope. Tell that to a bar in Spokane, Wa., where a new “Date Grape Kool-Aid” drink is now on the menu." -Consumerist February 4, 2014


Date Grape Kool-Aid mocks the plight of Sexual Assault Survivors

 "As someone who has survived raped twice, most recently being three months ago--- it tells me and other survivors that our experiences don't matter--- that people either don't believe us or they don't care about us, and that all we are is a punchline" -Taylor Malone Protest Organizer
Protesters of Daiquiri Factory and Date Grape Kool-Aid
The owner's response on Facebook has been extremely cavalier. He remarks on Facebook that "It's a bar, not a candy factory. Persons 21 and over are welcomed." Obviously he belongs to the stupidity without borders team, because this has nothing to do with age, and everything to do with respect of rape survivors everywhere.  You would think that establishments like this one, would show respect to their patrons. Instead they pull an offensive stunt in order to get curious customers to come in and sample their misogynistic brew. There's a lot of great things about Spokane WA, but this isn't one of them.
It takes courage stand for the truth rather than for popularity. You can stand outside this establishment with a sign speaking out, or go inside where it's warm, belly up to the bar and order a glass of this purple Judas swill.  No doubt you'll have lots of company. You'll even think, this isn't so bad. The laughter and music will drown your thoughts of rape survivor's cries, and the alcohol will make you numb to people like Stacey Thompson who was a Military rape victim in 1999.

Feel Like I'm Dying


Stacey Thompson Speaks out in support of MJIA

Stacey was an eager 17 year old who joined the US Marines with her parent's signed permission. She was sexually harassed by a senior marine and drugged and raped by her sergeant, both of who were in her chain of command.
"However shortly after reporting the rape I was retaliated against by the very people I trusted to execute justice--- to maintain good order and discipline---  Even after filing a report with the Naval Criminal Investigative Services and speaking with the commanding general of the base--- the Sargent who assaulted me was able to separate from the Marine Corps during an open investigation for the crime of rape." - Stacey Thompson

A person who joins any branch of the service, should never have to stand alone when she is attacked and raped by a so-called battle buddy. But Stacey was. Her story became as predictable as the direction the sun would rise and set. Stacey was ostracized by other Marines, and she found herself at the center of a separate investigation for drug use stemming from that night. Six months later, she was kicked out with an other-than-honorable discharge — one step below honorable discharge — which means she lost her benefits. And yet Stacey Thompson, like the Whistle Blower in the movie, refuses to keep quiet. Because rape is no joke, Mr. bar-owner, and victims are not the punchline. She is speaking out with other victims against a system of betrayal and a system that is broken.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

I'm Changing Everything

On February 6, 2014, she added her voice to others who have been attacked and fallen upon by a system that was suppose to honor their service to their country. Now these men and women are joining together to establish a new order for those who serve. They're promoting the Military Justice Improvement Act. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's Bill is up for voting soon, with a threat to be filibustered by Claire MacCaskill, whose own bill became part of the new NDAA package for 2014.

Paula Coughlin, the mother of military whistle blowers and the face of the Tail Hook scandal in 1991, spoke along with Stacey Thompson and others at a recent conference on Thursday of this week.

Paula Coughlin
"The calls from military leaders and their supporters for more time ring hollow.  And history shows that these promises are really a veiled defense of the status quo. No more excuses, no more delays. Congress must act now. They must listen to our servicemen and servicewomen--- the victims who are directly impacted by this crime. These brave members of our armed services, who raise their voices and are calling for an independent impartial military justice system must be heard. Last year Congress passed a series of reforms but they do not go far enough. They do not instill trust, and victims need more." - Paula Coughlin

Indeed we need to add our voices to those already speaking out. Get the word out to your Representatives or Congress persons of your state. Persuade them now.  Most want to get re-elected. Tell them to vote for the MJIA. We've tried it the military's way, now let's do it the right way.

But in case you think that naming a Daiquri after a crime against women is still funny, before you order another tall, cold one, drink this video in.

Men Let's Talk

To remain silent while our culture and our military is steeped with victimization and unpunished crimes, only adds fuel to an already out of control epidemic. We all need to speak up and take action now. Please share this blog with your friends today.

Thank you Twitter family for you resource help! verasantaclara Rosie Palfy GeeeBeee Barbara Jackson
Sources: Consumerist Blog- Bar Debuts Drink Called “Date Grape Kool-Aid,” Outrage Inevitably Ensues
               KQH NBC- Date Grape Kool-Aid Sparks Protests
               Protect Our Warriors- Stacey Thompson Speaks Out
               You Tube- Masks Off- A Challenge To Men 




Monday, February 3, 2014

Mad World Part 2


And I find it kind of funny I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
it's a very, very...   Mad World




It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that people who run in circles get nowhere. They're showing to the world, they're making progress, but in truth they're stuck in a rut. And any farmer will tell you that's bad for progress. If you listen to the song Mad World with it's haunting piano and melodic tune, you feel the sadness of never expecting change in an unproductive scenario. "All around me are familiar faces, worn out places; worn out faces." Can't you feel the grayness?  But Mr. Einstein was speaking about those who refuse to accept that their method just isn't working, and the madness is that they refuse to give in and find another solution.

Tell Me What's My Lesson?

Denver ABC Call7 Investigative Reporter Keli Rabon
In part 1; you remember that a shocking scenario of routines and complacency was uncovered in Denver, Colorado (in 2012) when an investigative team lead by Keli Rabon, discovered that rape kits were not being processed and used to catch rapists. The "mad hatter" explanation from some Colorado law enforcement agencies at the time was "if the issue is consent and she knew who the person was, then we don't process the DNA."  Fortunately, Rabon and her team investigated the matter and found the explanation was weak and inexcusable. Can you imagine (if you're a woman) being poked and probed for what might seem like an eternity--- evidence collected from your body, only to have it bagged tagged and warehoused? Then you discover that justice takes a vacation in your case? At last count, some other the agencies are now taking steps to reverse their "going nowhere routine."

After a report of at least 26,000 cases of military sexual assault has been reported and it has taken an act of Congress to make something happen, it is a question of whether anything seems to be happening. The most favorable change among rape survivors, is to remove the decision to process sexual assault cases out of the chain of command. The change has been championed by both Republicans and Democrats. A sweeping common sense reform bill has been drafted by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  But of course, the knees of the top military brass are knocking, as they claim that removing the authority from the chain of command would diminish their ability to command. The military's trickle down convictions make you wonder if they really care about zero tolerance.



And so a closed panel on this issue seems to think that "you can get from here to there" if you just put your foot on the gas and spin your back wheels.
"A strong majority of Subcommittee members agrees the evidence does not support a conclusion that removing authority to convene court-martial from senior commanders will reduce the incidence of sexual assault or increase reporting of sexual assaults in the Armed Forces," a preliminary report from the Subcommittee stated.  Seven of the nine members of the main panel supported the conclusion, while two opposed it.  The debate over removing commanders' authority to oversee sexual assault cases is one of the central points of the committee's deliberations. Thursday's meeting, which ran all day and followed a string of closed-door sessions, included testimony from those who support and oppose Gillibrand's proposal, as well as firsthand accounts from two women who say they were repeatedly raped and abused while in active duty.From US News January 30, 2014

No One Knew Me

I call this; "disaster denial", where you've talked to the victims, seen the carnage, and you go away and think "Maybe it's not as bad as all of that. Besides doing something about it might make things worse."  I know I'm sounding snarky, but I'm trying to make a point that old Albert E. might agree with me on, if he was still alive. This problem won't stop by just warmed over predictability and public relations work.
"The Invisible War" showcases the efforts of the military to combat sexual assault with slick posters, and hip-hop, baby!

"You cannot prevent sexual assault with pretty posters--- Posters do not prevent sexual predators from preying upon women and men in the military--- No poster is going to prevent a criminal from barging in your room in the middle of the night. These are violent people."- Ret. Captain Anu Bhagwati, The Invisible War.
 This "hands-off approach" seems to be aimed at the potential victim. It implies that you can prevent your assault if you do these things that we tell you to do. Rather than that approach, we need to send a message to the perpetrators. Maybe a message telling them not to rape. That to rape a fellow serviceman is a betrayal, and will be dealt with severely! It needs to be a "facts of military life" speech that every commander needs to speak and mean it! With the money being spent on slick campaign programs that wouldn't help a bunch of middle school kids, just tell your troops: "if your rape another soldier, sailor or airmen (non-gender reference) you will be prosecuted."

And now in it's effort to help potential victims deal with this problem, or perhaps other issues connected with sexual assault, the Army Reserve Corp has unveiled it's downloadable app called "Battle Buddy!"  Technology strikes again. Can you imagine a victim using this handy little app in a time of crisis?
Free Battle Buddy App in case of rape
 I wonder if it has a button to report a sexual assault? I'm not going to poo-poo this concept altogether, or anything that can help someone who is a victim, but what is needed here is changes that will begin to root out the problem by sending a hard message to the troops, and then backing it up with some tough action. The fear of God needs to be put into the bad guys who harass, ostracize, obstruct, or rape, not victimize and re-victimizing a servicewoman or servicemen. Apparently Congress has again opted to keep the chain of command, and let the victims maneuver through the ranks and figure it out on their own.  Indeed they will need a Battle Buddy.

Look Right Through Me



Attorney Susan Burke
"And so this notion  that anyone could be a rapist so be on alert, --- it misses an opportunity for preventing rape. If they actually had a system of accountability that prosecuted and imprisoned perpetrators, you would rid of a lot of the rapes right away."- Susan Burke, Attorney The Invisible War

 

We've come so far since the "Tailhook scandal" and yet the
needle has hardly moved on the subject of sexual assault, because whatever courage our leaders have on the battle field isn't displayed in a dead-on fashion when it comes to having a tough talk to those under him. A "get out of jail free card" should not be standard military issue. So if the Mad World of politics, and Zero accountability, and trickle-down judicial system, is ever to be done away with, then we need leaders who can partner up with the right agencies to drive the problem out of the system. Military leaders should realize that the day's of the "Lone Ranger" Leadership when it comes to heinous crimes is a thing of the past. Keep your Stars, Bars, or Eagle. No one wants to dethrone you. We on want to elevate justice where it belongs for everyone. Hi Yo Silver!

Special Thanks to Twitter friends like verasantaclara and Barbara Jackson for their support and leads.

Sources
Keli Rabon- Justice Denied
The Invisible War- http://invisiblewarmovie.com/ 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mad World Part 1

All around me are familiar faces 
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily race
Going nowhere... going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression... No expression
Hide my head, I want to drown My sorrow
No tomorrow...no tomorrow

Sometimes you'd think that we'd be moving in the right direction in society because of the struggles for equality and justice that others have fought, and even gave their lives for.  I assumed that the fight would be over by now, and we would all have a better understanding of each other.  I believed to a great degree my children, and their children would be reaping the benefits of those who fought so hard for access to justice in our society.  And yet I need to hear and remember the word's of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. – Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” April 16, 1963




I Want To Drown My Sorrow


Troll on Twitter
Just recently I stumbled upon a convo on Twitter, where this troll tweeted to a friend of mine threatening, to "Twitter rape her."  That set off a flood of anger in me. This joker tried to defend himself to a host of other tweeps, saying that he was justified because he didn't agree with their political views. Finally I interjected, "Rape doesn't care what your politics are, dude!"  He never responded. I assumed he blocked me after that. On social network, the greatest weapon a user can have is denial. Truth can't touch him, or peoples opinions, feelings, or respect. They can sign in, and be rude, crude, and as socially unacceptable as they want. They can express racism, misogyny, or a myriad of other anti-social behaviors. Sexual assault is not a political issue. We don't win this battle through waiting for our political side to weigh in. This is a crime that cuts across most barriers including gender, culture, and politics.  I'm watch an emerging generation, (especially young men) who think that rape is something to be laughed at or dismissed. Some are saying "It's just sex." Our culture is high on technology, but is becoming out-of-touch with humanity.

This week the President gave a speech in his weekly address speaking on Sexual Assault in our society, on collage campuses, and our military. This speech is somehow historic, and sad too, because now this crime has to be addressed by the President on his weekly address to the nation.


Whether you voted for him or not, he is speaking on a non-partisan, non-political issue.
"Sexual assault is an affront to our basic decency and humanity. And its about all of us-- the safety of those we love most-- our moms, our wives, our daughters, and our sons. Because when a child starts to question their self-worth after being abused, maybe starts withdrawing; or young woman drops out of school after being attacked; or mom struggles to hold down a job and support her kids after an assault--- it's not just these individuals and their families who suffer. Our communities--- our whole country is held back."
Sexual assault touches us on many levels. Either directly or indirectly. In this Mad World the voices of indifference along with the crippling broken system to catch these perpetrators, leaves many women and men with the belief that there is no hope for me in the system. The risks of reporting far outweighs the hope that anything will be done about it. The evidence can be as hard as it can be, and a broken military or civilian system will have as much power as a single match in a snow storm.

I Find It Kind Of Sad

"I was raped, and they did nothing."
In 2010 Kelly Binder says she was drugged and raped by an officer on TDY, that she met at a bar in downtown Denver, Colorado.  He physically restrained her. And Kelly told her assailant, "no-- I don't want to do this--"  Kelly said within hours of the assault she contacted Denver Police who recommended she go to the hospital for a rape kit. Kelly recalls laying on a white sheet under these bright lights--- every intimate part of her exposed, while they took photographs and pulling hair from her scalp; Kelly says the process felt like another assault, calling it a nightmare. Kelli Rabon Investigative reporter for ABC 7 News, reports in Denver:  

Kelly Binder
The rape kit was given to police but weeks later Binder says Denver police told her they 
couldn't prove she didn't give consent telling her her rape kit would not be tested to see if her attacker raped anyone else. Kelly Binder replied, "I was raped by this man; he raped me and they did nothing; they did nothing at all"
 
Many Rape Kits remain archived
A system that turns it's back on its citizen's right to justice is a system turns it's back on this country and the freedom that it stands for. To refuse to advocate for a person like Kelly Binder, or others, and to let a criminal go free because their goal is to work while doing very little, is a disgrace to the principals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  If justice doesn't work for your neighbor then it won't work for you either. The shocking thought that women undergo a procedure for evidence collecting such as a rape test, only to discover that law enforcement agencies choose not to process the evidence so that their attacker can be brought to justice, is loony-tunes. Instead, it is stored in a warehouse along with the Ark of the Covenant. The reason for not processing Kelly's rape kit, according to Denver police, was that they could not prove that she had not given consent to her attacker. They had affixed guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to Kelly's case before and an investigation or an arrest was made.
 The rape kit was given to police but weeks later. Binder says Denver police told her they  couldn't prove she didn't give consent, telling her her rape kit would not be tested to see if her attacker raped anyone else.- Kelli Rabon ABC News 7 Denver

The sad part of all of this that Kelly is still awaiting justice in this mad world that says if the police can't prove  it wasn't consensual then they won't investigate, arrest, and the law won't prosecute.  There are a lot of nice things about Denver, Colorado, but justice isn't one of them.


I Find It Hard To Tell You

Inside the walls of our Military Justice system, now under reform, we await the passage of the Military Justice improvement Act because of mad thinking like this.

And with hard irrefutable evidence, another person was failed by a mad world system that turned their backs on the truth, and mocked justice.
"The NCIS agents assured me we have never had this much evidence. They had pictures of the door where he actually maneuvered the lock to get into my room--- They had my clothing where my zipper was broken and his fingerprints on my articles of clothing. --- They had his DNA on my comforter--- The found his DNA inside my rape kit-- He was still found not guilty of anything.--An explanation that I got and I quote 'It is no question that his genitals touched your genital area, but it is reasonable to believe that he believed that he had your consent.'---"
Do I need to tell you how ridiculous that sounds? A system that tries to take "a reasonable approach to rendering justice," when the evidence is stacked in favor of the victim? This is the system that is fighting to keep it's authority intact, to be left alone to render it's own justice in criminal cases like these. Senator Gillibrand said the system is akin to one where you're in a family, and your brother commits the crime, and now your father must settle it. But does your father do what's right? When someone in the family gets hurt, is the father thinking: "we can't let everyone know about this. ---what about the family name, and the scandal it would cause?" 


I Find It Hard To Take

According to the top military brass, to remove this one area of judicial authority from them would cause dissension in the ranks. They would be seen as not having full authority by the men and women they command, and would lose respect, which would cause a breakdown in good order and discipline. At the risk of being a broken record: with high numbers of rapes, sexual harassment, and the climate of fear and intimidation that many of these victims lived under; where was the order? With alleged perpetrators; cases such as the young mother of the two boys who was told; 'It is no question that his genitals touched your genital area, but is reasonable to believe that he believed that he had your consent.'---" where was the discipline? And more importantly why should you be trusted to be fair and impartial when it comes to a crime like sexual assault?

The March Hare's tea party with Alice, the March By Sir John Tinniel
Also coming to this Mad tea party is the panel whose majority believes that commanders should remain in total autonomy when it comes to all offenses.

"A strong majority of Subcommittee members agrees the evidence does not support a conclusion that removing authority to convene court-martial from senior commanders will reduce the incidence of sexual assault or increase reporting of sexual assaults in the Armed Forces," a preliminary report from the subcommittee stated.
Seven of the nine members of the main panel supported the conclusion, while two opposed it.
The debate over removing commanders' authority to oversee sexual assault cases is one of the central points of the committee's deliberations. Thursday's meeting, which ran all day and followed a string of closed-door sessions, included testimony from those who support and oppose Gillibrand's proposal, as well as firsthand accounts from two women who say they were repeatedly raped and abused while in active duty
.- From US News January 30, 2014
According to the article, 2 members of the panel still agree that removing the authority from commanders in the case of rape, murder or other heinous crimes would be best. As for the remainder of the other committee members who sat and listen to the testimonies of military rape survivors, make one question their sense of reality. It makes as much sense as thinking the ingredients in making water is H2O and dirt.

Once again Senator Gillibrand makes her common-sense bill known to many in an interview on MSNBC.


"We will get the votes we need to pass this measure because the men and women who serve in our Armed Services do not deserved to be attacked, raped or brutalized by somebody within their own unit.-- We're not talking about some foreign enemy abroad, we're talking about their brothers and sisters they serve everyday with. They deserve a justice system that is worthy of their sacrifice."
At this point, nothing other than some convincing from We the People to our constituency, and a little rain of sanity sprinkled over Congress, will help. But we need to believe for the sake of those still serving that we can make a difference. We have to make our few voices many on this subject; things I believe can change on this subject. Regardless of your politics, President Obama's closing words are appreciated on sexual assault, in and out of the military.


"This is a priority for me, not only as President and Commander-in-Chief, but as a husband and a father of two extraordinary girls. And I hope it's a priority for you. Because here in the United States of America, every man and woman, every girl and boy, has the right to be safe and protected and to pursue their own piece of the American dream. Let's all do our part to make it happen."
Again I appeal to those reading this blog, let me inspire you to action, Call, tweet, write, or Facebook your Senator or Representative. Make your voice heard to make a change for those fighting to keep our freedom a reality.

Special thanks to my Twitter friends who help to keep me in the know on these events.
Rosie Palfy, Barbara Jackson. HawkEye, ‏verasantaclara. And no doubt I have forgotten others. Please forgive in advance.

Sources
The White House Weekly Address: Taking Action to End Sexual Assault 
Protect Our Defenders: Drachelle's Story http://youtu.be/PABg6q9uOwY
US News Powerful Panel Says Commanders Should Keep Sex Assault Oversight