A “mistake” at 17 should not ruin a life…

While awaiting the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, next week, the one thing to keep in mind is that if her story is deemed credible, Judge Kavanaugh’s fate should not be determined based solely on his alleged actions at age 17.  His fate should be determined based on his actions every day after the alleged attempted rape.  More on that, in a moment.

The initial #GOP defense for Judge Brett Kavanaugh centered around what seemed to be an unassailable denial that Kavanaugh was capable of assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when he was only 17 and she was 15.  The defense transitioned to one that suggested that even if the event had occurred, he was very young. Furthermore, the person he was, then, should have no bearing on who he is as a human being, now.  There has been an outpouring of sympathy, for Judge Kavanaugh, matched by a myriad of doubt, derision, and outright character assassination for Dr. Ford.  Ford is even faulted for not, at 15, taking on a system that has storied tradition of secondary victimization of  adult rape survivors who dare to step forward and name their attackers.  What hope would she have had?

Why didn’t Ford tell someone, more than three decades ago when the event allegedly took place?  I think the answer can be found in the numerous attempts by critics to unveil every detail of Dr. Ford’s life – while ignoring the unanswered questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s spending habits and outstanding debts, which are also relevant to any decision to grant him a lifetime appointment to the bench.

If less than a third of sexual assaults are reported, and less than 5% of perpetrators are convicted, what hope did a 15 year-old have at the time of the alleged, brutal, assault?  We understood even less about rape and rape survivors then than we do, now.

Rape Justice System RAINN.Org.png

 

I would strongly urge anyone reading this blog entry to make your way to RAINN to learn more about sexual assault and its impact on survivors of violence.  I strongly urge you to urge your member of congress to do the same.  I fear for Dr. Ford in her appearance before the Senate Judiciary committee, given the comments and excuses I have read regarding  Judge Kavanaugh’s presumed innocence, at best, and newly limited culpability, at worst.

Is he the same person who, at 17, is alleged to have engaged in such a brutal assault of a 15-year-old teenage girl?  Most likely not, but if he is guilty, he is the same man who  lived every day of his life without once apologizing to his victim or taking responsibility for that day.  If he is guilty, he allowed Dr. Ford to live every day of her life with self-doubt, fear, shame, anger, and a sense of loss that impacted her life to the point of needing support and care to try to recover from the event.  The #GOP is mounting it’s own “Brock Turner defense” in which Turner’s father commented that 20 minutes of action shouldn’t ruin his son’s entire life.

I think it is telling that the Good Ole’ Privilege party views the event from the perspective of the alleged perpetrator and not the alleged victim.  If guilty, Judge Kavanaugh has seemingly moved on and, to our knowledge, has not sought help for any guilt or despair associated with attacking another person.  Dr. Ford has lived with her trauma for more than 30 years. She has not forgotten the clothing she wore, the sound of the music getting louder, the smell of alcohol on her attacker, the hand that covered her mouth, the friends in the house who could not hear her screams, and her own feelings of despair thinking that she would become a rape victim.

If her story is accepted as credible, Judge Kavanaugh is not being criticized and held accountable solely for his actions as a 17 year-old, but for his actions every day since then and his refusal to take responsibility for \the scars his actions left on the psyche of another human being.  If our elected #GOP officials don’t understand that, they are even less deserving of their positions than any nominee they would send to the bench.

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Jack Bryan’s”Active Measures” is yet another wake up call.

Instead of weeping over the state of our nation, we should be thinking of how to become proactive in defending her and protecting our values.  We know that we cannot trust the current #GOP-led congress to stand up for our values or to protect low-income and middle-income Americans..  Protecting our American identity has to come from the only source that truly matters: the voters. If you are not registered to vote, you need to be:

 

I hope you will consider watching the Jack Bryan documentary “Active Measures”. There are no anti-Clinton level tin-foil conspiracy theories, here.  There are documented pieces of evidence which do not require “interpretation”, or even misinterpretation, to connect Donald J. Trump to Russian intelligence and Russian oligarchs.  Those ties simply exist and have been openly discussed by credible journalists even before Nov. 2016.

I would also urge you to read EVERYTHING written by journalists Sarah Kendzior and  Kurt Eichenwald, and former intelligence officer, Malcolm Nance.  Follow them on twitter:  @MalcolmNance  @sarahkendzior and @kurteichenwald.

Mr. Nance is a former intelligence officer with more than 36 years of experience and a specialization in studying Russian Cyber espionage.  I think it would be fair to call it warfare, now  While Donald Trump was attacking Ronald Reagan for his Russia policy and was lobbying to be appointed an ambassador to Russia, Mr. Nance was putting his life on the line to keep America safe from Russia’s imposing reach.  If it’s happening now? Malcolm Nance has already predicted it.

Kendzior has written extensively about the anatomy of authoritarian governments, and routinely writes about tendencies in the current WH administration to make huge swings away from our representative government to one in which the voice of the people is primarily ignored when those voices are inconsistent with will of a fickle Donald Trump.  Where else would you go to be educated about words like kakistocracy?

Much of Eichenwald’s work on this topic was written as a warning prior to the election and feels like a road map for any investigation into the relationship between Mr. Trump and his Russian business “friends” — who seemed to think that buying into Trump businesses also means buying into America’s representative democracy.  Eichenwald has been inside of #Trump’s head for a long time… and for that he has both my sympathies and gratitude.  I wish more of us had listened to him before the general election.

My gift to you?  The Nance/ Kendzior/ Eichenwald “starter pack”.  Read, weep if you must, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work for the midterm elections!

Nance

The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election

The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West

Kendzior

The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America

Kendzior’s numerous scholarly publications.

 

 

 

Eichenwald

How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security

Trump Apparently Quotes Russian Propaganda To Slam Clinton On Benghazi

A People’s History of Donald Trump’s Business Busts and Countless Victims

 

 

 

 

Dear Georgia GOP

Born into slavery, Harriet “Ross” Tubman freed herself and then put her life in jeopardy to do the same for countless other enslaved humans.  She did so by making perilous trips, in the dead of night, through hostile lands.  Her courage and bravery bested the cowardice and rage of the people who hunted her like an animal.  She also served as a nurse during the civil war and led black and white troops on raids against confederate soldiers. Never afraid of a fight, Ms. Tubman also took on the issue of women’s rights.  She still inspires me.

Sojourner “Isabella Baumfree” Truth fought for the rights of women before she was ever acknowledged as a woman, in her own right.  She was the first African-American woman to successfully sue a white male – a man who illegally enslaved her child.  Sold into slavery as a child, her mother’s heart gave her the courage to fight to free her son.  She also helped her daughter escape slavery.  Her courage is undeniable.  I proudly claim the gift her legacy leaves behind.

In the late 1800s, Ida B. Wells fought to stop the lynching of black bodies.  She held no reasonable expectation of police or federal protection.  There were no social media platforms to rally supporters to her side.  She wrote the Red Record to highlight the horrors taking place in the daily lives of supposedly “free men” who were routinely hanged at the whim of men who could no longer legally own them.  Instead, those men  took deadly possession of “free” bodies and altered the futures of their victim’s children and families.  I hold dear the courage that sustained Ms. Wells.

Feel free to add from the millions more stories of women who are strong, vibrant, brilliant, kind, but most importantly, FEARLESS.  Remember their names as you learn their stories.  I ask you to do so for the following reason; if you think that closing 7 of 9 Randolph County polling places will stop African-Americans from showing up at the ballot box to help Stacey Abrams earn her place in Georgia history, you are not paying close enough attention!

 

…That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them…

Excerpted from Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech

 

 

 

Re: Police Brutality/Fatal Shootings, we are telling only half the story…

Admittedly, I am not over the live stream of Philando Castile’s death. I am not over the deaths of Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin (who died at the hands of a “neighborhood watch” member), Sandra Bland, Stephon Clark, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, John Crawford, nor of our Latin/Hispanic brothers and sisters whose names and stories are often ignored by the media – despite their incredibly high risk of being fatally shot while unarmed. I am not over the untimely deaths of all other unarmed Americans whose lives were cut short because of someone else’s fear or biases. Each new death rips open a barely healed wound while adding the weight of its own mass.

I am not anti-Police but I am, unapologetically, anti- senseless death and anti- brutality.  That Robert Johnson’s name wasn’t added the list above, gives me no comfort.

 

The longer video (sound kicks in during the skirmish)

 

 

I believe in the necessity of a defense / peace force that serves and protects American communities.  I also believe that most of the individuals who serve as part of that force are honest, serve with good intentions, and serve to great effect.  Those who poorly serve their communities not only risk harming innocent citizens, but create unnecessary burdens for their fellow brothers- and sisters-in-blue.  They tarnish the legacies of hardworking officers and ruin their relationships with citizens whose trust and support are necessary to create effective neighborhood partnerships – partnerships which save lives.

Where we have, societally, missed the mark is that the focus is almost always on the individual(s) involved in fatal shootings.  We should want to know the details of each shooting, for the sake of the public record and for the sake of families traumatized by these events. It is not unreasonable to invest our hope in making  significant changes in policing, and policies, by learning the details of each shooting.  Officers involved in the fatal shootings of unarmed citizens present only half the story – the latter half.  While no one officer may be a problem, it is possible that the process of determining fitness to serve is the problem. That is where the story begins.

  1.  What is the process for determining fitness for duty of new recruits/trainees?  Is the entire protocol state-wide, or are some standards local/regional?
    • Officers are typically held to the standards and regulations put forth by the state, but how different is evaluation process from state to state – and regions within states?
  2. What part of that initial evaluation process is used to assesses potential racial/ethnic/gender/religious biases against others?
    • Humans are prone to bias, so most of us show some form or bias, but some of us show stronger biases than others.  What kind of anti-bias training is offered prior to hiring, and after?  How extensive is the training?
  3. Which specific psychological evaluations are used?  If none are used? Why not?
  4. Who gives and scores the evaluations?
    • What are the qualifications of those individuals?
    • Are their resumes/CVs available for review?
  5. Are there differences in evaluations administered in-house vs those administered by private agencies?
  6. Are police departments tracking the records of officers involved in cases of brutality/corruption complaints to determine if the same individuals/organizations are responsible for the pre-hire (and any subsequent) evaluations of those officers?
  7. Are warning signs identified by evaluators ignored or downplayed by departments?
  8. Are there policies for follow-up evaluations (every five years, for example)?
    • Given the high levels of stress officers face, in the best of circumstances, it is not unreasonable to suggest that a psychological “check up” be given throughout the course of an officer’s career.  Every officer should be given the ability to address job-related stress and then return to duty.
  9. Are the INITIAL evaluations re-examined, in cases where brutality/corruption complaints are filed against officers or when unarmed citizens are shot?  Are there details in the initial evaluation that were deemed irrelevant then, that would later  carry greater significance?
  10. Is there a mechanism for police officers to recommend re-evaluation when there are concerns which are not yet reported as brutality complaints or concerns which may stem from daily conversations between officers.  Imagine if an officer had the ability to safely recommend re-evaluation in this case:

Racist texts read at trial of Inkster police officer accused of beating black motorist

“At least give me the satisfaction of knowing you were out there beating up n*****s right now,” said a text sent to Zieleniewski earlier this year. It was read aloud in court.

“LOL,” Zieleniewski said in his text response. “Just got done with one.”

Floyd Dent was the target of Officer William Melendez’s attack.  Auxiliary Officer John Zieleniewski was reportedly Melendez’s trainee/partner.  Floyd Dent’s name is not on the list, above, but under different circumstances, it could have been.

We know that the majority of officers never fire their weapons during the course of their service,  and rarely, if ever, have altercations with members of the community.  It is why we should be especially concerned in cases where this does occur,  even more  when the victims are unarmed and not a threat to the officer(s) involved.  Members of police departments, who fully understand the job – having their own experiences to rely on, should be the most concerned.

Just as minority communities are plagued by being defined by our most troubled members, oddly enough, police officers suffer the same fate.  It would, in almost any other circumstance, be the first step in creating a common understanding.  These are communities that understand that the overwhelming majority of its members are good people who only want to live in peace and coexist with others.

Police departments should never hesitate to take the same advice it gives to communities of color, in particular: “Stand up to your most problematic members.  Turn them in if they behave in ways that are violent or threatening.  If those in charge aren’t doing their jobs, do it for them.  Keep us all safe.”

Public service, in all of its manifestations, is both a privilege and a responsibility.  Lasting relationships are formed between citizens and public servants (at all levels) who honor policing as a privilege and responsibility.  While we focus individual cases and the circumstances which have contributed to each unfortunate death, there are bigger questions to ask.  Asking them is not about blaming.  Asking bard questions strengthens our defense/peace forces AND the communities they serve.  Telling half the story, the latter half, will never get us there.  We must tell the full story.  We deserve no less.

Roseanne and Right Wing Premature Excitation

Admittedly, I am still wary of trusting newly-awakened Republicans – those willing to stand up against the excesses of #Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty, and against the party they love dearly.   My wariness stems from the level of introspection the Republican party has failed to show in figuring out how Donald Trump could so easily take control of their party – beyond the absurdity of trying to blame President Obama or Democrats.  Even the newly-awakened are focused on “now” and not how they got here.  Some Republicans blame Trump’s prior identification as a Democrat (ignoring the fact that he has opportunistically joined several political parties before ravaging theirs). Trump clearly knew he could never successfully run bigoted messages through the Democratic Party, and that those same messages would be well-received by Republican voters.

Any time I tell myself to be more trusting of Republicans who have become Trump critics, I also remind myself to try to let go of old fears based on lingering cultural memories for the slightly milder Trump-esque messages the Republican party pushed prior to his election.  Rationality will win, in the end, yes?  I would say yes, but then there is the lesson of John Podhoretz,  a lesson I will let serve as my wake-up call.  This lesson is an easy one.  The moment there appears to be a “data driven” message that suggests that Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty are also mainstream, some will celebrate it and treat it as a warning that it is time for a change in the broader society – a change that should be more inclusive of Trump voters (and, implicitly, more inclusive of some of Trump’s messages). Data used as evidence for change can be as limited as viewer ratings for a single episode of a sitcom revival that may not be indicative of what follows.

To buy into Republican euphoria over Roseanne ratings, you must first cling to the, ridiculous, long-standing GOP argument that liberals do not watch programs or movies featuring conservative actors.  Pretend it is true despite the fact that several cities with the highest viewer rates were in states that have traditionally (pre-2016)  voted with the Democratic party and that several cities with the lowest ratings are in deep red states,   Assume, as Podhoretz seems to, that the ratings are primarily due to pro-Trump voters who tuned in to see their choices defended and the rehabilitation of the well-embraced, Clinton-generated, label: “Deplorables”.  I guess it is safe to ignore the viewers who are not Trump supporters, but who also remembered The Connors, fondly, before politics became so sadly acrimonious.  While it is clear that the “Deplorables” celebrated a successful Hollywood actress embracing their guy, the original show was comprised of fans of all political leanings.

More than excitation, there should be a growing concern facing those moved by this turn of events. Roseanne-the character is supposed to be modeled after Roseanne-the actress. How much blurring between the two will occur with the sitcom?  Roseanne – the character, will have to always remain the Roseanne-lite version of the actress.  What happens when Roseanne – the character, begins yukking it up over joining an attack on 17-year old David Hogg by tweeting the conspiratorial phrase “Nazi Salute”?  I can’t quite imagine playing a laugh track over this one:

Roseanne David Hogg Attack.png

Can Roseanne-the character talk about her penchant for conspiracy theories involving the deaths of   Seth-Rich, and the mind-numbingly stupid Pizzagate ?  It is difficult to fathom that Trump-conservatives really want to see themselves portrayed on TV, embracing the full Trump agenda.  It is even harder to believe that those defending Trump supporters, even while taking on Trump, want to see his supporters as they are, either.  Imagine what that reflection looks like on national television, in an attempt to normalize the worst pro-Trump excesses.  What Trump supporters seem to really want is a warmer, fuzzier, more rational portrayal of themselves, streaming into America’s living rooms.

I agree with Podhoretz that there is a wake-up call for Hollywood. I think that call is, “DON’T FALL FOR IT!”.  The other shoe has yet to drop.  Roseanne – the show has yet to deal with the reality of Roseanne-the actress.  There is also the discrepancy between the version of #Trumpism she portrays, and the reality of #Trumpism the rest of us live.  Beyond the white-working class, there are many more of us who are harmed, daily, by #Trump’s message. There are many of us whose children are at greater risk, whose sensibilities have been insulted and assaulted, who feel displaced by a nation and by people we were learning to trust and embrace.  At the risk of reminding my Republican friends of another failing that got us to this point, I am hesitant to use a well-worn phrase that fits, but I will.  Hold on to your hats:  You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.  Let’s wait to see where the show takes us before screaming “Victory!”.

My Republican friends, you may have to hold on to those premiere episode ratings.   Trumpism and reality will soon set in and if there is anything we have learned in our recent experience it is this,  that everything Trunp touches eventually becomes a rousing dumpster fire.  I expect the same outcome, here.

March For Our Lives: Who ARE these kids?

 

MFOL SignWhile receiving overwhelmingly positive attention for their work in rallying teens nationwide to combat gun violence, the #Parkland teens are also the targets of random cranks and critics.  The silliest charge leveled against them is that they couldn’t possibly  comport themselves in the manner in which they have without coaching from liberal operatives.  What a sad way to devalue and dismiss America’s youth.

Who are these teens?

These are the same people whose academic standards have been set higher than almost any generation before it.

This generation has had to defend itself against exploitation from adults (some of whom run for office and support other predators who run for office).  Prior generations suffered in silence.  This generation no longer has to be silent, but still struggles to be believed. They have learned to find their voices, here, too.

This generation has fought to own their identities, values, and bodies – yet another fight which has taught them to find their voices.

This is the group of young people who communicate with their global peers on twitter, instagram, xbox, playstation, and a host of formats that most of us have not yet heard of or may ever know.  They communicate with global peers who are shocked at the levels of accepted gun violence directed at children and teens in America. They communicate with global peers, none of whom have ever had to practice “active shooter” safety drills in school.

They are the people who have been treated as acceptable collateral damage in our glorification of gun culture over the defense and care of our children.  They dare to refuse to become collateral damage.

At times by intent, often by sheer dumb luck, these are the young people we have created.  Instead of criticizing them, we should be grateful that they are our current justice leaders and future social and elected leaders.  I am confident in the bright future of this nation in the hands of the following leaders (and many others whose names and faces we still don’t know):

At age ll, Naomi Wadler is representing the girls whose stories don’t make the evening news:

 

“You can hear people in power shaking in their boots”

 

“… five years ago, this happened… five years ago and no change has come…”

 

“Bullets do not discriminate, so why should we?”

 

“We need to arm our teachers, with pencils, pens, paper, and the money they need to support their families and support themselves, before they can support the future…”

 

“Keep Screaming at your congressmen…”

 

“I learned to duck bullets before I learned to read:”

 

“6 minutes, 20 seconds….. fight for your life before it’s someone else’s job”

 

Jennifer Hudson voices the hope – and hard work- of this movement”

 

Support from Malala:

Trump’s extramarital affair payments are problematic because…

A – they are indicative of a lack of moral character that proves to the evangelical movement that he should not be permitted to serve in the nation’s highest office, nor as a role model for youth?

Doubtful.  They are no longer worried about “what to tell the children” as they claimed to be with Bill Clinton.  They are no longer worried that their children will ask them uncomfortable question about sex and sexuality as it relates to marriage.  Good luck in those discussions about Porn, Playboy, and the office of the Presidency,  evangelicals,  To be fair, I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not as “in the dark” on these discussions as some think.

B –  the payments may be tied to campaign law violations that could result in criminal charges against #Trump and members of his team?

Doubtful.  Even if those reports are to be believed,  Team Trump has never been held accountable by the cowardly #GOP majority – which would most assuredly fight any charges leveled against the man who signs their bills, no matter how awful those bills are for American families and workers. #GOPTaxScam.

C – the payments show his disregard for women and that he has no problem trying to silence women no matter his own complicity?

Doubtful.  I find it odd that a man who brags about his sexual prowess works to silence the women reportedly involved.

 

His base isn’t concerned about how he treats the women with whom he had affairs, nor the woman on whom he cheated.  If there are no tears for Melania, from the hypocritical right wing, fhe women Trump is alleged to have strong-armed into silence don’t stand a chance.

D – the payments show us just how little integrity and honesty he has?

Here is where I place my money.  Donald Trump stood before the American public, looked voters in the eye,  and lied about knowing nearly every woman who made a claim against him.  He positioned himself as a happily married man, of wealth, who is being extorted by liars and gold digging “tramps”.  He stood before the American public and defamed women whose only real “crime” was telling the truth about former relationships with a man whose loyalty to others is in short supply.

Voters have often assumed that a person who couldn’t be loyal to the people who loved  them most, couldn’t be trusted to care about the rest of us.  If you lie to a spouse, you will lie to anyone, the theory goes.  What do you make a of a person who is disloyal, who lies about it, who allows the public to believe that everyone who steps up to admit their role in an affair is lying?

Hopefully?  That individual will be remembered as a stain on history and a one-termer.

How troubling is this pattern of the use, discarding, denying and defaming of women?  None of us knows, just yet, but we will begin to find out on #StormySunday, as Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) tells part of her story on Anderson Cooper this Sunday on CBS’ 60 minutes.