Monday, June 10, 2019

All Roads Lead Here

When I began this journey 
It was not any fun
And now I'm back to step one
With old promises ringing 
In my ear for a new change
The trajectory is down for this ship
But the deck chairs they rearrange 
We got this, to the public they say
This is wrong, its not our way
You profess
And yet more walk with me
Not less
Kevin McGill




The video documentary, The Invisible War, continues to draw me back to one of America's most visible stains. Our armed forces still has a problem with sexual assault and sexual harassment. I remember the words of Coast Guard recruit Kori Coica, a vibrant young woman, stationed in Saginaw River, Michigan.

"I was the only female in my section. I had a supervisor- it got to the place where I'd get
Kori Coia
calls at 3 o'clock in the morning, and he'd be drunk at a bar, telling me to come get him, and I'm like- 'I can't, I'm in bed. He would then threaten me. I'd walk in from training and he'd be sleeping in my bed. ' It was in the evening around taps, he had unlocked the door and he had come in, and he had an erection and he tried to get me to touch him. I took my right hand and pushed him in the chest- and started to yell for the other guys to hear me. Kind of 'hey hey, hey!'- He hit me across the left side of my face. I remember holding the closet and thinking; 'What just happened?' And my face hurt so bad." 
-From the video documentary, The Invisible War.
Further complaints to higher ups in the chain of command were met with zero action until this supervisor raped Cioca in his berthing area. She carried the aftermath of her attack with her for years. Even with those testifying to his behavior, the Coast Guard chose to look the other way. And eventually ,because this situation was a reminder of the problem that the Armed forces had, she was quickly discharged from the Coast Guard like many others. The media eventually flipped on the spotlight, and in lieu of Cioca's story as well as many others, the combined commanders were called to give an account of this out-of-control epidemic of rape, unwanted sexual contact, harassment, and retaliation in the military in 2013. The generals stated their cases to members of Congress about why they should retain control over these issues. Most defended themselves by stating; "We have zero tolerance for such things," and "good order and discipline was needed in their command, and by removing this issue out of their hands, there would be a breakdown in leadership."


D- NY Kirsten Gillibrand 2013
Kirsten Gillibrand specifically remarked to General Mark Welsh "I think there's a lack of understanding and training for this specific type of crime that is continuing to rise. So do you understand, General Welsh, that there is something that needs to be fixed?"
General Mark Welsh attempted to impress her and the panel of Senators by remarking on some research he had made using the data from Rainn, a national resource for sexual assault and loved ones: Rainn took our data put it in their model and for 2012 according to their statisticians we are one point something percent below their prosecution rate and 3% above their conviction rate so a fact on the table is that we don't have a very different problem than district attorney's offices around the country have. It's the same-- it's a horrible problem but it's the same problem so that's not the critical issue that makes the military
General Mark Welsh 2013
different. 
The General, looking at the stats and comparing them to the Rainn stats on civilian rapes and sexual assaults seemed to infer that there was a problem, but the military wasn't so bad in dealing with it. That seems odd in light of the fact, the Air Force claims to "Aim high." He went on to remark to Senator Gillibrand who challenged him on his mindset that the problem took a “careful analysis of the data.” There were some obvious false equivalencies in the General's remarks. Among them is the fact that a survivor of this sort of crime doesn’t have the freedom or mobility to move away from their assailant. (Such as in the case of Kori Cioca)

“When we went to one of the higher ups in the chain of command, they were all like his drinking buddies, and they told me 'just because I didn't like somebody, they weren't going to switch me away from this guy.”
She had to see her assailant every day, report, and no doubt, salute him if he were an officer. Put yourself in her place? Can you imagine how that could play with your head? I note in my book, From The Outside Looking In, of one young sailor who went AWOL to escape his attackers. Heath Phillips jumped ship and escaped his situation only temporarily. The police picked him up and he was turned over to the harbor police. He was returned to the same ship and same situation. There are somethings you cannot assess by reading statistics.

But one thing you can tell by the stats, the problem hasn't gotten better. Since 2013 , sexual assault reports are up across the military: Estimates from DOD’s 2018 Sexual Assault Response and Prevention report peg incidents of unwanted sexual contact at 20,500, up from 14,900 during the last survey in 2016. That’s a 37 percent increase.

The Generals wanted to maintain control of their troops on this issue to insure good order and discipline. You would have to ask yourself, where is the good order? Where is the discipline? Since 2013 and before then, it would stand to reason, part of the objective should be that servicemen don’t rape their own. And it would be met with forceful results.

Especially in light of some of the new findings we see today. On July 7, 2016, Jacob Whisenhunt was accused of assaulting a female cadet in her sleeping bag while she slept during a summer field training event. The original verdict found the West Point cadet guilty and was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the rape. But because of a 3-man review and some archaic mindsets, Whisenhunt has been set free. "They found that because the victim did not struggle and Whisenhunt made no attempt to cover up their sexual encounter, the circumstances did not amount to rape beyond a reasonable doubt."- June 5,2019 Army Times I use the word archaic because it shows something that this three-panel review overlooked. During my research of rape victims, they don't cry o ut like many might imagine in the movies. Their first impulse is to freeze. This is instinctive for most survivalists of rape. These men of wisdom did not take that into account. The judges went on to write that they thought it was unlikely that the survivor wouldn’t gasp or cry out when she woke up next to Whisenhunt, which would have alerted others to an assault. “This is particularly true when there is no evidence that appellant threatened [the victim] or took any steps, such as covering her mouth, to prevent an outcry,” they wrote. June 4, 2019 Army Times

This decision smacks of the Aviano Sexual assault case in 2013 when LT. Col James Wilkerson’s case was overturned by LT. General Craig Franklin. The only difference is instead of one Commander's decision to do so, we now have three. And to add insult to injury, Wilkerson was promoted in rank.

One can only ask if justice really matters to the leadership in the Military.  Apparently some victims of this crime do not. "After a decade-plus of concerted efforts to address sexual harassment and assault, the problem has only gotten worse,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., during a House Armed Services Committee in February. “This isn’t a blip, a ‘me too’ bump, or some accident. It’s a clear illustration of a destructive trend and systemic problem.” And in truth military leadership isn't being asked to decrease in stature, but they're being challenged to look at the big picture of the Armed Forces.

In 2019, statistics alone won't get the job done. It will only give a smoke screen that an institution is attacking the problem. Leaders need to look at what is happening with their people if they seriously want to do something about rape in the military.

We can dress it up with slogans, sayings, and parades, but our first and last line of defense that attacks from within is doomed to self destruct, which is not good for America or anyone. We have been promised changes on this problem in the military since the Tailhook scandal, but the rhetoric isn't measuring up to the reality of it.

Sources
Army Times
Rainn
YouTube

Special thank you to @Veracrusin on Twitter for alerting me to this story.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Why They Don't Report

To hear nothing soon
Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas Confirmation- 1992

Means there was no crime
The leopard has morphed
And changed with the passing of time
Your rights are gone
You have no proof
You waited way too long
For anyone to believe
Your truth
The mocking will start
And you'll feel the shame
You're a liar they'll say
Yes it will hit your ears
It's your fault they'll sing
As the choir of haters sing
And you feel the tears.

Kevin McGill

To watch the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings at this point is like a re-mix of an familiar issue.
Judge Brett Kavanugh
A past victim and present survivor, Christine Blasey Ford steps out of the shadows via the Washington Post and  calls out a powerful man who seeks more power, In spite of something that he did in his younger years. Ford was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in the Summer of 1982 while both attended high school. Yes, in some ways it's Judge Clarence Thomas versus Anita Hill once again. But now we have a president who speaks his mind and it's not for victims of sexual assault. He has blasted Professor Ford for her choice of waiting to speak out now.  Not very presidential to say the least and his constant Tweets kicked off the hash tag why #WhyIDidntReport. Ironically it's an upside to the ignorant tweeting and expressions that Trump and the GOP has made.

The reasons for the hash tag are so evident because some women and men were sexually assaulted as young as their childhood by a trusted friend or family member like Elizabeth Desnoyers-Colas

Some children are too young to give their abuse a name. Others take on the blame because we were told that adults are never wrong.
For some children like Donna Bartos the abuse continued into their teenage years because they didn't know they had rights.

People don't talk about their sexual assault because it's not safe to do so. It doesn't matter if it happened day after a day, or a year or twenty years. The very thing that's happening to Christine Blassey Ford only enforces their fears that it's safer to stay away and pretend life is okay.  Her life has been turned upside down with death threats, hacked emails, and their family being torn apart.
On the day that Ford publicly identified herself as Kavanaugh’s accuser in an interview with The Washington Post, her husband was driving their 15-year-old son and his friends from a soccer tournament in Lake Tahoe. He couldn’t answer the calls that were blowing up his phone; by the time they reached home, a crowd of reporters was waiting.
Russell struggled to explain it to his children. “I said that Mommy had a story about a Supreme Court nominee, and now it’s broken into the news, and we can’t stay in the house anymore,” he recalled. The family was separated for days, with the boys staying with friends and their parents living at a hotel. They’ve looked into a security service to escort their children to school.
- Washington Post September 22, 2018
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley
No one who believes in justice for all, bullies, harasses, or threatens a victim from coming forward. Only cowards and people so immersed into the stench of the sewer of their political preference attempts doing these things. This should be about choosing the best man, but Republican Senators don't seem to care what is best for the country, but what is best for their party.  Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is not calling for an FBI investigation on the matter.  In fact he has demanded the Professor Ford testify, but on his terms.  He has sent her several deadlines, and none of them seem to help to create space for truth and justice to get the last word.  If the professor is a liar, then let an investigation exonerate his obvious preference?  He is apparently playing a game of chicken with the survivor's lawyers.

This entire situation has blown up Twitter with the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport because the culture doesn't seem to get it.  People don't speak out when you want them to do it. They speak out when they're damn well ready as in the case of Judge Roy Moore.  Men like Moore and Kavanaugh continue to ascend the ladder of prominence until their past catches up with them.

“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court,’ ” her husband said. “She wanted out.”- Washington Post September 22, 2018
She was having what I call her own WTF moment.  To just up and run leaving her career, family, and personal life was no longer an option.  She knew as soon as she spoke up, the alligators would come looking for her.  Maybe she never thought one of the biggest swamp gators would be Donald Trump, (who has his own accusers of sexual assaults to deal with.) This is the time to stand and face them and fight.  Her conviction has stirred thousands on Twitter to recall their personal stories including the military.
Kristen's experience left her feeling as though she had no one in her corner who saw her worthy to be defended.  The typical response has been you have no proof, or you violated a rule such as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And giving shade to military married men who rape will make the survivor the perpetrator as in the ex-servicewoman's case.

Men have been and still carry around their own private shame of sexual assault, because the culture says real men don't let this happen to them.  The church has many sins it needs to answer for.  And molesting young boys is at the top of the list.
Young and older men bear it in silence because family members can't handle the news. We've got a real mess on our hands. This is a thing that haunts us wherever we go. Your masculinity or politics doesn't help. 
I read thousand of the Tweets in response to Donald Trump's flippant callous remarks about why she didn't report her abuse years ago. There are so many people who don't report.  And why not?  Simple: they've seen what happened to some who do report or at least attempt to get some one on their side at any time of their lives. I interviewed Lyndie Rose who recalls:

Lyndie Rose 
I was a virgin to this point, never dated or anything, and my sister was staying in town because her husband was in Vietnam, and she had two small girls 13 months apart. And I had been staying there in the summertime at her house because she had been going to the university to take classes in summer school, and I had been watching the girls. She wanted to get together with some friends from high school and so they were going camping and going to the movies, so I was babysitting the girls. And this guy--- I knew who he was. He was a friend of my step- sister's. He had come around one night. He had wanted to use the phone …and I said, ‘I just don’t let anybody in, and my sister's not here. And he told me he was having car trouble. So, dummy me, I let him in. So, he started kissing me, and I said ‘don’t! Don’t do that!’ and he knew the girls were in there asleep, and I was afraid to yell, and he told me that if I said or did anything--- if I screamed out or anything, he would hurt the girls. So, I fought as hard as I could, but he ended up just picking me up and carrying me in my sister’s bedroom and he raped me--- And I didn't know what was going on, I had no idea what to do, and he left after that. I had nobody to call. (There were no cell phones back then) I sure wasn't going to call my mother. And I didn't know what else to do so I waited for my sister to come home. And My sister who I was very close to, she blamed me. I don't think she bought my story. She said “Oh he came over, and you guys must have started kissing and you let it get out of hand and you led him on. And it happened. So, don't tell anybody.” Well I told my mother and she was the same way. …I must have done something. 

Lyndie Rose never reported her rapist because she was too young to know what do. Her sister and mother threw the blame back onto her because they either didn't know what to do or feared that there might be repercussions if she spoke out and made trouble.  Like many survivors, you get older and understand more, but the rape is still as real as the day it happened.  LaSanya Rucker, shared her story with me as well.  Here is a excerpt of the aftermath of a young black teen who was betrayed by an old friend from high school, and gang raped by five men.  She's back home now, and all she is trying to do is to keep her mom from blaming her for her own rape.

 LaSanya Rucker
As I went into the bathroom to clean up I heard my Step- father say it to my mom, "You need to come home,now" I think she really didn't want to leave her friend's house. I remembered first taking a shower and then taking a bath, I think I was trying so hard to clean the stench of rape off of me. It is interesting that I can say the word rape now but, back then when it happened, I never applied the word rape to what happened to me. I don't think somehow in my young mind, I could comprehend that it happened to me, Shortly after I finished my my bath and gotten into my bed, my mother came into my room. She took one look at me and briefly left the room. Somehow without any words transpiring between us I think she knew, when she returned back to my room. She closed my door behind her. I remembered her telling me as she placed a plastic card on my dresser, that this was my medical card to Kaiser and that I knew my doctor. If I need to go to the doctor for a physical or even if I need it to talk to a psychiatrist, all that was covered in my plan. And then she left my room as quietly as she came in. She never asked me for details who, if, why, where, not even ever years later. It is a conversation that we never had. I remembered laying there dazed, shocked and crying..I remembered feeling so alone and unafraid, not knowing what to do I remember thinking my Mother hated me to me and really didn't care what happened to me. It was until years later, later I realized through my own trials and tribulation as a black woman, many times you walk and stand alone, she probably wasn't equipped mentally to accepted or deal with it.
LaSanya's mother had answers in the moment, but among them were not words of action or comfort. We become educated like the child on the playground of life to never report the bully. The other kids see it and know better that it's wiser not to tell anyone what happened. Kids grow into adults who still have the same attitudes about personal violence. You never report, you never tell, and you never snitch. The perp sets the rules, and we all fall in line in the military, the boardroom, the home, and sadly to say, our Nation's Capitol. I believe Professor Ford. She spoke out in her way, and on her day.


Before the first, or second confirmation scandal hit, (A second person has comes forward.) I wrote about these two courageous people Lyndie Rose and LaSanya who shared their story with me in my book: From The Outside Looking In.  It points to the problem of why people may or may not report their rape.  I hope you will consider getting a copy either in paperback or on Kindle from Amazon.com. I'm challenging man culture with what I believe are relevant answers to an ongoing dilemma in our society.     




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sexual Assault Month #MeTooMilitary

This is April, and among other things it is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Once again, we are asking you to grab a piece of teal and wear it to show your support for victims of Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and domestic Violence. Although the proclamation comes from the White House, its roots go back as for as the 1970's and today adopted by National Coalition Against Sexual Assault. It started out as a one-week-in April focus and, of course, there is a need to continue to stay focused on the problem in civilian life and the Military.

The number of reported sexual assaults that occurred have gone up and not down since 2013, according to the DOD, on military bases and installations around the world. More than half the military victims in 2016, (68%) did not report sexually violent crimes, according to data from the annual Department of Defense report on sexual assault in 2017. As I have said before, when the media (both social and mainstream) turn the lights onto the problem, the right things are said, and it appears that the military will fix the problem. Many survivors punched hard with the documentary, The Invisible War. Never did we see anything like the stories being told by men and women of what they went through while trying to serve their country. Some of these survivors came to Washington DC to speak with senators and congressmen about their cases. They were flesh and blood Veterans attempting to make a change for those who would raise their hand and take the oath to serve and protect American and defend the Constitution. But of course there was some contrition, when the brass faced the Senate, but very little was changed to reverse the problem.

"The truth is that the scourge of sexual assault in the military remains status quo," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said about the 2017 Pentagon report. "(It) disappointingly shows a flat overall reporting rate and a retaliation rate against survivors that remains at an unacceptable 6 out of 10 for a third year in a row."

We need to realize this month that sexual assault crimes in the military are still a problem no matter what is going on in the world or what this White House is trying to distract us with.

A Monster Dressed In Fatigues

A young Army Specialist, Sarah Reyes, considered herself a church girl who had bad relationship experience before signing up and was determine to abstain from sex until marriage and put the Army first. In an interview with CNN she said that she loved her job, and her instincts had always prompted her to run toward danger, not away from it. "I lived for it, and I was good at it," she said of her time as an Army combat medic, which included a nine-month stint in Afghanistan.
The opposite seems true for Sarah now because she was sexual assaulted by someone whom she thought was trust worthy. A fellow soldier at a barracks party at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Sarah now calls him a monster who raped her dressed in fatigues. They both had been in the same platoon and  deployed over seas. So you would think a fellow soldier and a brother-in-arms wouldn't take advantage of her in this way. 

It's the same old story of someone receiving very little to drink, but passing out because someone had
conspired to mix the drinks making their intended victim blackout drunk hard and fast.
Rapists in and out of the military are good at this because it causes memory gaps. As in Sarah's case, she had no idea what had happened to her.

Reyes told CNN that she did not feel like she drank too much but noted that she was "not making her own drinks" and "does not have much memory" of the night.

Although the timeline of the evening is still fuzzy at times, Reyes said she now recalls more about what occurred -- including feeling very tired during the party and lying in the bed of a male soldier.The realization that something beyond her initial memory of the night had occurred did not fully set in until the next day, when her friends asked if she had consented to everything that happened during the encounter. "That moment was like someone flipped on a light switch -- I realized I didn't want it all to happen," Reyes said. "My body went numb and I was crying. ... (I) felt like my world had ended and I couldn't figure out why."
What's so shocking was that the male soldier confessed to what he did to her, but the all-male investigation panel couldn't do anything because they don't have anything to prove beyond his confession. In other words the investigators wouldn't allow Reyes's attacker to incriminate himself because she couldn't remember if she said "No" to him. People who are looking to exonerate a rapist are now with the old, "Well, did you say 'No'" dodge. If a person is so out of it, how can he or she swear to anything or remember anything that was said? Of course this person wasn't found guilty of anything. He was allowed to return back to his duties. Reyes told CNN that it took her a long time to speak out and tell anyone what had happened, partly because the circumstances didn't feel straight forward in a military sense. And perhaps she's right in the sense that there is no one-size-fits-all situation that fits a standard of sexual assault. There is also apparently no flexibility in the military male culture to understand that rapists depend upon the military to make a case based on a sober victim, or at least one who can recall what happen. But even with that, the system will set up roadblocks which allow the perp to escape unscathed such as performance of duties and rank. They're no longer allowed to express feelings of a soldier's good conduct, but the bias still remains. The higher up the accused is in the chain of command, the harder it is to convict them. 

The System of The Old

We've been here before. Survivors like Reyes have no advocates on the inside of this situation because the old way of handling sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation is baked into the cake. The mindset hasn't changed and so they are looking for the change of law which allows a victim/survivor to get help outside the chain of command. The Military Justice Improvement Act remains stymied by politicians who either fear that change would alter the military that they know, or see it as a feminist win against a total male dominated culture. The author is Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who sees the bill as giving military servicemen and servicewoman a hand up in respect to receiving an fair and unbiased sense of justice. It doesn't take away the Commander's authority or power. 

The carefully crafted Military Justice Improvement Act is designed to professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes like sexual assault, and to remove the systemic fear that survivors of military sexual assault describe in deciding whether to report the crimes committed against them. Repeated testimony from survivors and former commanders says that the widespread reluctance on the part of survivors to come forward and report is due to the bias and inherent conflicts of interest posed by the military chain of command’s sole decision-making power over whether cases move forward to a trial. 

At the beginning of the year, advocates including Col. Don Christensen, president of
Protect Our Defenders; Monica Medina, a former special assistant to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; plus Heath Phillips and Nichole Bowen Crawford, survivors of military sexual trauma gathered at the Pentagon and spoke about how this system, which was supposed to be fixed, still remains broken. The DOD's reply was "The Department of Defense continuously works to eliminate sexual assault from the military, and we encourage service members to report all instances of sexual assault so we can provide support services and hold offenders accountable," spokesman Col. Rob Manning.

Sounds great to me. Except what's the magical number of sexual assaults which will cause you to fly into action? Some of these advocates speaking out, use to be in your ranks Military. Just saying. I would encourage those in the #MeToo movement to reach out to Veterans and active servicemen. Because it may have started in Hollywood, but it's about everybody.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Turning A Blind Eye to a Black Eye

Donald Trumps firm hand claps with General Kelly
The correlation between the military mind set and what is happening in the White House is glaring. Donald Trump's White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, couldn't get a permanent security clearance for the man he brought on board to be Staff Secretary. Why? Because Rob Porter failed an FBI background check. Two of his ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby were victim-survivors of Porter's abuse in their marriages. The General sent out a statement defending Porter's character saying :
 "Porter was “a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.” Kelly reportedly urged Porter to “stay and fight,” in spite of the incredibly serious accusations against him." NY Times. February 8, 2018
It turns out that wasn't the case. Photo's emerged from Colbie Holderness who had a black eye that she received from Porter while on their Honeymoon, of all things, in Italy. The FBI now has copies of the photo's from Holderness, plus statements from the two abused ex-wives. And the General was forced to walk back his claims of Porter's sterling character after both Holderness and Willoughby spoke on record to The Daily Mail and other media sources.

In a memo to the staff on Thursday night, Mr. Kelly wrote, “While we are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence very seriously. Domestic violence is abhorrent and has no place in our society.”- NY Times. February 8, 2018

Todd Shane Tomko, another abuser Kelly defended
Now what some of you may or may not know is that this same General John Kelly went to bat for Todd Shane Tomko. Tomko is a disgraced Marine Colonel who was found guilty of sexually harassing two female subordinates. Mr. Kelly praised the colonel as a “superb Marine officer.” That turned out to be a bad characterization of Kelly's. Tomko was so messed up, it was reported that he drove drunk to his own arraignment. General Kelly has a problem that has been in the Armed Forces for decades now. And that is to save the warrior at all cost. Screw the fact that he's being accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment or other punishable crimes. Save the accused, because he is worth it.
Even in the fact of the blacked eye photo's and the press pushing hard for transparency, Kelly only took a half-step back in the assessment of the situation with Porter. While admitting that domestic violence is a terrible thing, Kelly wouldn't give an inch on Porter's character. This was followed by Donald Trump's own remarks today, as he still believes Porter is innocent.

I don't want to drift too far afield of my main point, and that is in John Kelly's opinion, getting the job
Rob Porter. Domestic abuser who Trump believes is innocent
done always comes before anything else. He stood by Porter because Porter performed his duties well. This is much akin to the James Wilkerson case where his conviction was overturned by a 3-star General. It shows bias and blind loyalty from the brass. They treat victims/survivors as casualties in pursuit of what they see as the greater good.

In 2014 I wrote a story much like this one of a young woman who was a victim of domestic abuse. (I hope you check it out if you haven't already.) She tweeted me asking to help get her story out. And there it was; Bobbie Moulder had a black eye given to her by her Marine husband. She shared her story of a horrific marriage, and how the Military was just doing a dance with her case, and waiting for the clock to just run out on it while her now ex-husband had moved on with a promotion. These abusers continue to abuse partly because men like John Kelly and Donald Trump turn a blind eye to the reality that domestic violence, as well as sexual assault and other related crimes, are wrong. Rob Porter has been pried away from his job after a year. Since then, he has abused another woman who works for the federal government. She won't give her name (no doubt out of fear of losing her job) but she has sought out the advice of the 2 ex-wives.

 (R)Holderness, 37, (L) Willoughby
It's a damn shame that our own government which touts transparency and zero tolerance for this sort of behavior, doesn't have the confidence of women working for them. And Porter has moved on from dating this unknown person, to a relationship with Trump's own White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks. Now whether you like or dislike Miss Hicks, you can't help but wonder how long it could take before another page of domestic abuse will be added. Perhaps a page that might not have been necessary, if the General really believed his words:
“When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,” he said. “Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases.”- HuffPost October 9, 2017

Update:

By this weekend Donald Trump's reflection of how he views domestic violence was summed up in one of his tweets. He seems to put a lot of stock in the fact that people who work hard for him couldn't possibly be guilty, and of course after a matter of time should it really matter? His words come off as a dog whistle that accusers are just out to hurt these men. Apparently men free of scandal are hard to find to work for his administration.
The scene from Celebrity Big Brother with a vulnerable Omarosa Manigault who was brought into the inner circle by Trump and cast out by Kelly, says it all. (Whispering) "...It's not my circus, not my monkeys, I'd like to say not my problem but... it's bad." 

My thoughts:  The Evil you accept, is the evil you ignore.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Grab Him by The Presidency

"Turning a human being into a thing,
Is almost always the first step,
Towards justifing violence
Towards that person."

-Jean Killbourne






My thoughts today are not so political as much as a question of how any president of our country should conduct himself. Again the President of the US has shown a moral failure in his leadership. In fact he's gone back to the locker room talk again. Whether you're into politics or not, you can only shade bad behavior so much. I'm taken aback again by the very man who should be setting the highest example of what we all should aspire to be as people and Americans. Donald Trump, in the midst of his bid for the presidency, was caught on a now infamous and verified tape from Access Hollywood joking with Billy Bush on his expertise in predatory behavior towards women.

Trump tells Billy Bush about a failed attempt to seduce Nancy O'Dell, who was Bush's co-host at the time of the recording:
"I moved on her actually-- you know she was down in Palm Beach I moved on her and I failed. I'll admit it--- I did try and fuck her she was married. You know Nancy---  I moved on her very heavily
Trump exiting the Hollywood Access with Billy Bush
and I took her out furniture shopping--- she wanted to get some furniture--- I said I'll show you where they have some nice furniture--- I moved in her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there and she was married. And all of a sudden I see her she's now got the big phony tits and everything--- she's totally changed her look. --- I'm gonna use some tic-tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful--- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet--- I don't need to wait and when you're a star they let you do it. ---You can do anything whatever you want-- grab them by the pussy.---" -Washington Post October 8, 2016 

When the news broke about the frat boy convo, Billy Bush was sacked faster than you could say, "give me a Tic-Tac" and Trump sat in front of a camera and offered up an apology via teleprompter. In his apology statement back in 2016 he promised: "
"Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize. I’ve traveled the country talking about change for America, but my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid-off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down."- NY Times November 28, 2017

Everyone now knows that Trump, the candidate, became the 45th president of the United States. In fact some women have remarked to me that Trump's victory has resurrected feelings of being victimized all over again.  And unfortunately other accusations of his behavior with women have followed him into the first year of his presidency. Most of his accusers are sticking to their guns about the former Apprentice star turned Commander-in-Chief's behavior. Women like Summer Zervos who said before reporters that a business meeting with him had gone bad:

Summer Zervous
Zervos said Trump asked to meet her for dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She was instead escorted to a bungalow where, she said, Trump "started kissing me open-mouthed" and groped her breast. "'I pushed his chest to put space between us, and I said, Come on man, get real,' Zervos said. 'He repeated my words back to me, 'get real' as he began thrusting his genitals. He tried to kiss me again with my hands still on his chest, and I said, 'dude, you’re tripping right now,' attempting to make it clear I was not interested."- NBC News October 15, 2016
Donald's bad behavior is resurfacing like wisps of grass through the concrete sidewalk in the "Me Too" hash tag on Twitter. His accusers have found a new voice aided by other survivors of sexual assault as well as Senator (and sexual assault advocate) Kirsten Gillibrand.

In light of the undying allegations against Trump, Gillibrand called for his resignation. Then on Twitter he let the whole world know what he personally thought of the Junior Senator from his own home state. The sexual inference by this man who sits in the oval office was, Gillibrand would prostitute herself for money and career.  The backlash was fast and furious. First from Gillibrand herself, who remarked "You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office." Later as she face reporters on Trump's remarks, she called them a sexist smear. Then (without much prompting) professional women in the media stepped up to respond to Trump's frat boy comments. On election day for Alabama voters, Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski who has been the target of Trump's past innuendo's and remarks about her personal life, could hardly contain her outrage as she looked dead at the camera.
"I just want to say something beyond the fact that this is reprehensible that the President of the United States would say something so derogatory and disgusting about a woman--- we're not surprised Mr. President, you do it all the time. You treat women terribly and you treat the women around you even worse and you treat women like punching bags, because it's fun for you--- because you were intimidated by women that's your problem okay--- but for the people who work for you, you need to act."- Morning Joe Youtube- December 12, 2017


It was the first time I've ever seen Scarborough almost silent as Mika continued to hammer away at Mr. Trump.  And if there were people who thought that this would be a moment of enlightenment for Trump's White House Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then they were dead wrong. Instead Sarah chose to pull the president's fat out of the skillet again as she remarked to reporters that "anyone who thought Trump's remarks about Senator Gillibrand were sexual, their minds were in the gutter."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand unflinching and undeterred 

No doubt this defense is great for the Trump base. It must be a great paying job when someone can betray their own values, and self worth, while lying to the press and the American public. Sanders did a full court press with continuous hoop shots of Trumpian denials defending his reputation like a mother protecting her neighborhood bully-son. When some of the journalists in the room said "apples" Mrs Huckabee Sanders, gave strange "Banana" answers.

In light of this latest Tweet attacking a sitting female Senator, His original promise "I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down..." makes me wonder where is the better man? Trump has forgotten that it was women (in spite of all of the scandals and rumors) who helped elect him. Some continue to carry his political water even now. And what's even more disturbing is, his own party has gone silent on this issue. No other president, living or dead, could have gotten away with this sort of behavior. It may take a tremendous feat to restore what it means to be the President of the United States.
I think it's time for Congress to stop being bystanders to this slut-shaming, and grab Trump by the presidency for this latest outrage. He needs to apologize to the Senator and all women in America, which I doubt will ever happen with any unprompted sincerity. Al Franken, who now exits the Senate, had it right when he said,
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls, campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” 

Special thanks to: 
my foodie friend Yumyumyummy @yikesks on Twitter for alerting me to this issue.

Check out my commentary and perspective on my You Tube Channel posted last year.

Locker Room Talk

Previous issue on the Roy Moore campaign
What If God Was One of Us?


Monday, December 11, 2017

What If God Was One of Us


If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin' to make his way home?
-Eric Bazilian



I had a sweet grandmother who favored me a lot, and I would have followed her anywhere. One Sunday she decided to visit the church which was a block from our house and I went with her. I kept on going back, in spite of the weird stain glass windows and hideous ceiling rafters. I went back  because of my attachment for my grandmother. I had an idea about who God was and I've accepted his existence. Maybe I saw his existence in good people like my grandmother and later on in a good guy named Chuck Todd (No relation to the newscaster). Chuck was almost another father who helped me through those hard teenage years.
My friend Catherine doesn't see a reason for God's existence. Her mom asked Catherine to give church a try in her younger years. She even sang in choir at a Protestant church, but it was not a go. She grew up in a scientific family, both grandparents were doctors and couldn’t associate scientific data with the belief in an unknown higher being. Catherine had a great attachment and admiration for her grandfather.
"Yes. My grandpa wanted to invent the pill to help all the poor women who in those days had multiple children. I thought it wasn’t very godly to force these poor women to have children they couldn’t support. I felt religion was built on people’s fears and it was their way to explain the unknown, like what happens to you when you die. Some of the basic tenants I agreed with, helping the poor and treating others well, but trying to control people’s thinking and lives was unappealing." - Catherine O'Brien 
Catherine and I don't talk about science versus God. We have common ground on human rights and respect for civil liberties. When it comes to sexual assault and sexual misconduct, a person's character should matter and not his reputation. A person's reputation is only what people think of him.

This last month has been "flavor of the week" for guys getting called out on past misdeeds. And some real chickens coming home to roost on social media. A few like Al Franken and Charlie Rose have fallen on their swords about their dark deeds. And we watched members of NBC's Today show choke back the grief and utter the words that Matt Lauer, their fellow member, had been dismissed for his bad behavior. It can't be easy for those ladies to look at their audience and admit that one of their own had victimized women in the workplace. But on the flip side of this issue, those who claim to know Judge Roy Moore continue to dig in their heals about the person who they claim is God's choice to go the the Senate in December.

Roy Moore with Wife and supporter Kayla
Moore, who stands accused of sexual assault and pedophile behavior by 8 women, (many who were teenagers at the time when these incidents happened), has declared himself innocent of these charges. Moore's base, as well his campaign spokespersons, have all but claimed that the man can walk on water.  The most telling part of why some are defending him comes out when you hear people like Alan Keyes shout at reporters with fury and spit,"--- it is not up to Judge Moore to provide the truth. It is up to those who accuse in this country. We will not let you strip him of his personal rights--- of his person-hood the way you have stripped out unborn children!"
 His defenders are more concerned about the judge upholding the stone laws of the Bible and bringing a "Thy Kingdom Come" agenda to Washington DC and America.

Janet Porter a conservative activist and president of conservative group Faith2Action and
Janet Porter
Moore's campaign spokesperson, sees Roy Moore's candidacy as a religious mandate.
"This is ground zero for religious liberty; this is ground zero for life, and the winner of this Senate race is winner-
take-all; it will be the deciding vote on the United States Supreme Court who will sit on the court for the next 30 or 40 years." -Janet Porter CNN
In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Porter refused to answer directly about the allegations about her candidate.  Doing some fancy line dance moves on the issues of Roy Moore's character, her answers fit Coopers questions like a banana skin over a melon. Porter also invoked the names of James Dobson, Ben Carson, and Sarah Palin as endorsers.
As a kid growing up in the 60's, my home, my school, and my church were all on the same page about what was right and wrong in life, and especially about abuse and assaulting people. The standards used to be unshakable. Only the most harden or desperate person would continue to stand behind flimsy excuses, or tissues of lies.

Flip Berman, an Evangelical Christian minister and the national leader of Concord, North Carolina-based Operation Save America, a group that evolved from Operation Rescue, defended Moore's attraction for female minors. "He (Moore) did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that's true, that's straight and he looked for that."NY Daily News November 22  
(L) Flip Berman (R) Jim Ziegler 
Do I have to point out to anyone how pervy that sounds? I've got more--- Jim Ziegler, Alabama State Auditor, told the Washington Examiner.
“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler said choosing his words carefully before invoking Christ. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.” Washington Examiner November 9, 2017

These are desperate people who need to win the big one for God even if it means they will lie and defend a man who allegedly sexually assaulted, several teenage girls. While Moore does a great Billy Graham impression, Dean Young, a personal friend of Moore's and a chief political strategist for his campaign, gave a "mansplaining" defense of Moore's attractiveness to young girls: 
Dean Young doesn't believe the victims

"What I'm okay with is--- Judge Moore made it perfectly clear if he did date a teenager he didn't know about it so--- I can't tell you how many times I've been on a date and then asked a girl how old she was--- especially after I asked her mama if I could date them."- Dean Young CNN News

It's a real head-scratcher that an assistant DA whose should know the laws of his state, and should be smart enough to make sure a girl he's about to become involved with could be jail bait. Either that's another pathetic falsehood, or Young and Moore were living by their own personal code of don't ask, don't tell. 

Other remarks from potential voters have rationed that this all happened so long ago, that God has forgiven the Judge, and so it really makes everything alright.  I've never seen so many people dip their religious chocolate in the political peanut butter. This is what is know as relativistic situational
ethics. Some of these religious types are trying to reshape something wrong by explaining it with Bible scriptures, or excuse someone's behavior by saying we're all sinners and God forgives everyone.
Being desperate to get what they want, they've disregarded some of the concepts of their faith while engaging in verbal spats with journalists. Abandoning the "turn the cheek" philosophy of dealing with people, some of them reciting from the book of Trumpism, called reporters "the fake lying media from the swamp." Their talk wasn't adult-like or Christian for that matter.

I haven't seen Judge Roy Moore offer any credible defense against his accusers as of right now. I heard a lot of interesting remarks from people who speak for him. As a person who knows something about church culture, I can say that I've met some awesome people in my life. They were awesome because they were good people deep down inside. Also I've known some hurtful types of religious people too and I wouldn't trust them to take care of a child or a dog. Religion doesn't make you good. Religion just makes you religious. The same can be said for the humanist or the atheist. Being good is a choice that you work at, either in or outside of church. And maybe it starts with good people like my grandmother, or Catherine's grandpa.

CNN Graphic of Women who Moore Allegedly abused or pursued
Personally, I believe the victims. They've been living in the dark with this secret for too long. They've taken some risks to come out right now against a national figure like Roy Moore. They haven't been paid by the media to tell their stories. And as to why they waited so long to talk? In light of how survivor victims are treated regardless of when they choose to speak out, who can blame them?
My gut tells me, that if God was one of us, he'd tell some religious types to quit dropping his name because frankly, they've never met.

Special thanks to @Deja1422 on Twitter for sharing a little of herself to help. Her grandpa would be proud of her today.

Previous Issue:

Accusers Abusers and Losers



Rutgers Expands Support for Sexual Assault Victims


Monday, November 20, 2017

Accusers, Abusers, and And Losers

Road less Traveled
I've got nothing on my mind, 
Nothing to remember,
Nothing to forget.
And I've got nothing to regret. 
But I'm all tied up on the inside, 
No one knows quite what I've got, 
And I know that on the outside 
What I used to be 
I'm not anymore.
-Don McClean




I hope you will bear with my thoughts and opinions, because some of them are a little heady.
A week ago, by the time I hit the published button, it seemed like a dam had broken. Four more Roy Moore accusers stepped up to add their voices to the original ones. Now, with a few likable personalities such as Al Franken thrown into the mix, followed by President Trump's mocking, it has been a mental pile up of opinions, reactions, and Twitter drama.

For some of us, it's obvious to the most casual person, that someone who has a history of questionable behavior, followed by being banned from their own town's mall, is not suited for public office and needs to be called out on it. I continue to watch the behavior of Roy Moore. He not only says all of his accusers are liars, but he continues to invoke God, Jesus, and his pristine background as a husband, father, and grandfather.

Moore Staff and Supporters with religious zeal yell at media
It's a real moment in politics only found in Brady Bunch re-runs. Moore's wife and sweetheart (a real Carol Brady of the south,) Kayla, proudly stands by her man, along with Moore's political base. We saw a "Night of the Religious Dead" screaming at reporters recently. They barred them access to the Judge, calling the reporters "fake news from the swamp." (How original.)
   
On the flipside of this Sweet Home Alabama political scenario, news broke out about funny man turned, State Senator, Al Franken. Back in 2006 on a USO tour, Franken did some real dumb and inappropriate things with Leeann Tweeden, a radio host and former model. The photo was jaw dropping to some of his friends, fans, and followers. And the reactions were different. By the time the full effect was felt, it was like a 20-car pile-up. Opinions outside of the "gotcha" crowd, called for Franken's resignation, some felt the comparison to Donald Trump and Moore was unfair, others chimed in, "They all should go!"  While others suspect that the Franken attack was a hit job with a fake photo. Some of that back and forth discourse didn't end well. I even suspect some of this could have opened up old personal wounds of sexual abuse or harassment.

What I Use To Be, I'm Not Anymore

The reality for me has been that although there are unrepentant types in politics, in the entertainment arena, or even in my personal life, people are not perfect. They will disappoint and disillusion us and it hurts sometimes.

I've said very little on the subject of Bill Cosby, because the initial revelations and fallout almost
Bill Cosby and Cast of very famous 80's sitcom
wrecked me. I grew up in the sixties admiring him as an example of what a black man could become. He went from stand up comic to the voice of Fat Albert (giving moral lessons to kids),
iconic TV Dad in the 80's, and spokesman on many issues. So when the news of Cosby's serial sexual assaults came, it hit me like a wrecking ball. For awhile I was stunned into silence, and maybe secretly praying that this was some cruel prank or conspiracy. But as it became more evident that my idol was a rapist, I had to work through my five stages of grief and admit to myself, "Yes, he did those things."  I couldn't excuse him, or crawl into some imaginary Cliff Huxtable world. One of the lesson's I've learned is that, the truth may set you free, but it can sometimes hurt like hell.

To Al Franken's personal credit, he responded to the allegations almost immediately.
"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine—is: I'm sorry.
"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that, makes me feel ashamed.
"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women. See full statement at CNN.com. 
SNL Comic turned Senator Al Franken 
An apology doesn't make everything rosy for the Senator. But maybe it highlights the difference in someone whose not running away from himself or what he did. His actions towards Miss Tweeden were wrong, the picture (according to one of my friends,) triggered her PTSD. This is why I've always said that rape is not, and cannot, be judged politically. This is a personal issue. And even when it's not personal for you, it can be for someone you know.
Simply illustrated: if the most likable person you know who also likes you as well, takes you to dinner and treats a waitress badly, maybe even pinches her ass, do you dismiss it? If she complains about it, do you say to her, "he really is a nice guy" or "he was just kidding..."  or "That's just the way he is. But he doesn't mean any harm." Then you've just co-signed with someone against that waitress who brought your food, kept your water glass filled, and served you with a smile.

All Tied Up On The Inside

It's okay to admit you're struggling with a nice guy's behavior. In fact to admit that to others, like Sarah Silverman did, is very human.
Stand-up Comic Sarah Silverman
"One of my best friends of over 25 years, Louie C.K, masturbated in front of women---He wielded his power with women and in f**ked up ways sometimes to the point where they left Comedy entirely. I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is but that's totally irrelevant isn't it? Yes it is. It's a real mindf**k--- you know because,  I love Louie--- but Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true. So I just keep asking myself-- can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later certainly because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they're victims because of something he did--- so I hope it's okay if I am at once very angry for the women he wronged, and the culture that enabled it. And also sad, because he's my friend. But I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential it's vital that people are held accountable for their actions no matter who they are we need to be better--- we will be better.- Sarah Silverman Comments on Sexual Harassment
For me Sarah Silverman is a hero. That may repulse some of you because she's been associated with Louie CK. But I see her as someone who seems to be vulnerable and scared enough to admit this whole issue is a big fat freaking mess. The person she admired did this, and she's pissed and confused, and really doesn't want to talk about it. But she's laying it out there in an un-cute and unfunny way. That takes courage. She's not saying things to make the tribe or her fans feel better. It's just a messed up situation and it is what it is.

All Roads Lead To Where We Stand

Before I finish this next sentence, there will be more sexual harassment and sex assault revelations coming out. We have to also remember that there are also un-famous abusers still committing these crimes to not-so-famous people like ourselves. So maybe we have to ask ourselves-- "Does this get our attention because I care about the issue, and the people it hurts?" Or am I getting swept along because it's what's trending right now? It's not wrong to give input about the famous people who are in powerful positions in Hollywood, Government, or even in religion, but also if you truly want to see rape culture stopped, and bad behavior not normalized, we need to remember where be personally started with this issue. For me it was because a family member had been sexually assaulted. I became more aware about this issue because with every person who privately shared their story outside of the spotlight, something in me changed. I also remember feeling like a single voice trying to get others attention about rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other issues. When you care about something like this, you speak up for the people whose lives it's affecting. That's something that I try to remember for the sake of one more person who wonders if their life really matters.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends who strive to survive in this Invisible War.




Previous Issue

Her At Fourteen