Nel's New Day

April 5, 2017

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: DDT Defends O’Reilly

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. In keeping with presidents in the past, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) issued a proclamation to honor this event:

“We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children, and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated…. “As we recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we are reminded that we all share the responsibility to reduce and ultimately end sexual violence. As a Nation, we must develop meaningful strategies to eliminate these crimes, including increasing awareness of the problem in our communities, creating systems that protect vulnerable groups, and sharing successful prevention strategies.”

During DDT’s campaign, a 2005 recording shows him bragging about his committing sexual assault in which he said, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p***y.” Eleven women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, and one is currently suing him for defamation after the controversy.

After the sexual-assaulter promised that his administration “will do everything in its power to protect women, children, and men from sexual violence,” DDT defended Fox network host, Bill O’Reilly, after the New York Times’ article about his harassment of women, including the $13 million paid to settle claims to five women. Five days into Sexual Assault Awareness month, DDT declared that O’Reilly is a “good person” and declaimed that “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Advertisers were so disturbed with the revelations, that included information from other women who didn’t sue him, that over fifty companies, including major automobile manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, have dropped their advertising for the O’Reilly show. DDT also said, “Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled.”

As a fan of Fox, DDT gets all his false information from them such as all that wire-tapping that didn’t exist. He is so obsessive about watching the cable that his schedule shows that he doesn’t being any presidential activity until almost 11:00 in the morning. DDT has attended baseball games with O’Reilly and been a regular guest on his show, giving him an interview airing on Fox during its Super Bowl pregame bowl.

DDT brags about referring to the Fox owner, Rupert Murdoch, by his first name. Since the presidential election, the two men frequently communicate. In the past, Murdock mentored DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Murdoch’s former wife, Wendi Deng, made DDT’s daughter Ivanka a trustee of the Murdoch children’s fortune until Ivanka dropped out of this role a few months ago.

In saying that he thinks that neither O’Reilly nor Ailes did anything wrong, DDT is probably not lying. He thought that he also did nothing wrong in assaulting women. A 2015 survey found that one in three women have been sexually harassed at work, and 71 percent of them did not report the harassment, partly because powerful men can block their job prospects. Like O’Reilly, DDT denied that he did nothing wrong and would sue women who made claims against him.

Last year DDT defended former Fox CEO Roger Ailes after a number of his female employees reported his sexual harassment.  “I think they are unfounded just based on what I’ve read,” Trump said. “Totally unfounded, based on what I read.” Ailes was forced to resign from Fox News just one week after that interview. Julie Roginsky has recently filed another sexual harassment suit against Ailes. The FBI is investigating him and other Fox executives for using corporate funds to pay off the company’s sexual harassment victims. DDT defended Mike Tyson against his 1992 rape charges as well as billionaire whose private jet was nicknamed “The Lolita Express” and Joe Paterno who ignored Jerry Sandusky throughout years of the assistant coach’s sexual abuse of young boys.

O’Reilly has spent two decades at Fox being verbally abuse to female staffers, punishing them for refusing sexual advances, and appearing to masturbate while on the phone with them. Seventeen years ago, producer Andrew Mackris’ sexual harassment lawsuit accused him of describing his sexual fantasies about her and urging her to purchases a vibrator. If she told anyone about this, he said, she would “pay so dearly that [she’d] wish she’d never been born.” Mackris received $9 million by issuing a joint statement with O’Reilly that “no wrongdoing whatsoever” had occurred. She has not worked in television news since then. In 2011 Rebecca Gomez Diamond settled for an undisclosed amount. One of the settlements came because one of the women had recorded telephone calls with O’Reilly.

 

Transcripts from a custody hearing between O’Reilly and his ex-wife in 2014 show that their daughter once saw her father choking her mother and dragging her down the stairs.

In response to the NYT article, O’Reilly played the victim when he said, “Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.” His next cover was that he “would do anything to avoid hurting [my children.]” The question might be the identities of “prominent and controversial people” other than DDT.

Last week, DDT “honored” National Autism Day after he spread the falsehoods that vaccines cause “horrible autism” and that there’s a “tremendous increase” in the number of autism cases. After his intense ridicule of journalist Serge Kovaleski, he skipped over honoring Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March. DDT has until September 15 to figure out how to work around Hispanic Heritage Month after his racist attacks, including the ones against a Latino judge.

March 9, 2017

Betsy Devos: Huge Danger to the Nation

Billionaire activist Betsy DeVos and her family have given over $4 million to Republicans who have now confirmed her for Secretary of Education. Of that sum, $250,000 went directly to members of the education committee, $950,000 were given to 21 senators who voted to confirm her, and another $2.25 million was sent last fall to the Senate Leadership Fund, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) super PAC. The National Republican Senatorial Committee got another $900,000. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who promised to keep a rein on DDT, took $98,000 from DeVos and paid her back with his vote.   She followed the same process in Michigan, paying state Republicans $1.45 million in seven weeks after they passed the no-accountability charter school law. DeVos has said that she no longer takes offense at the accusations of buying politicians because “we do expect something in return.”

Before the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, I posted about how she would be a disaster for education in the nation. Her blunders during the first few weeks on the job show that she is worse than many people may have predicted. In summary, she is a billionaire who wants all children to be force-fed her brand of Christianity in charter schools that massively profit already wealthy people—like her.

Her gaffes began on her first day as head of the education department when she tweeted, “Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started. Now where do I find the pencils? :)” Most schools in the United States are so poor that teachers have to buy their own pencils.

Devos’ actions thus far:

  • insulted teachers at a middle school for not helping students succeed
  • supports the idea of her department being erased
  • says that critics want “to make my life a living hell”
  • misspelled W.E.B. Du Bois in a tweet for Black History Month—and then had to fix the tweeted apology that stated “our deepest apologizes”
  • ignored the first Twitter chat that she held for teachers
  • asked teachers to make up for children’s troubles at home such as absent fathers
  • made U.S. marshals protect her and ran away because protesters blocked her entrance to a DC school
  • accused protesters of “keeping kids in and new thinking out,” “how hostile some people are to change and to new ideas”
  • sold out transgender students to allow AG Jeff Sessions to discriminate against them in using facilities corresponding to their gender identity
  • and, surprise, gave her top priority as “school choice” that destroys public schools

DeVos’ responses to the hearings were so bad that her  confirmation required Mike Pence to be the first vice president in history to break a 50-50 tie to confirm a Cabinet nominee.

Her job may not last long. A House bill, HR 899, dissolves the Department of Education and another, HR 610, provides educational vouchers and repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, including nutritional standards for school meals. The only responsibility left to the department—if it continues to exist—would be to award block grants to states with the $20 billion for vouchers that DDT wants. There may not be enough support to shut down the Education Department, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants $20 billion for vouchers, most of the department’s budget for local communities largely used for low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, and other vulnerable children.  

After trying to compliment teachers at Washington’s Jefferson Academy by calling them “wonderful,” she told them that they were “not going to bring success to an individual child” because they were in “receive mode, waiting to be told what they have to do.”

DeVos tried to help DDT woo blacks for the 2020 election in her statement:

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) … are the real pioneers when it comes to school choice.  They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

Her revisionist history purports that the Jim Crow education system of legal segregation gave black students “more options” as if they had the option of attending all white schools before the Supreme Court ruling that began to eliminate permissible racial discrimination. The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo’s analogy:

“To paint historically black colleges as pioneers of ‘school choice’ is like saying the Montgomery bus boycott was a transportation startup.”

There was much controversy about the perch of Kellyanne Conway, DDT’s counselor, during the meeting with HBCU leaders. Some photographs show her taking a photo, but her real insult was that she couldn’t even get the name for the group correct when she talked to Lou Dobbs on his TV program. In addition, the photo op, proposed at the last minute to show DDT’s comfort with blacks, left those attending with little time to communicate with the man in the White House about the current state of these institutions. DDT plans to fund only the private sector instead of directly supporting HBCUs and requested that the White House Initiative on HBCUs be removed from the Department of Education.

In reality, DeVos has little power because Congress weakened the power of the executive department two years ago. Congress will be the one to create a voucher system and remove more standards for education in the nation. But she can create trouble by taking no action in other areas that creates more difficulty—for example, not investigating, complaints in the area of sexual assaults and reverse rules requiring colleges to use a lower standard of proof in determining sexual assault. DeVos might also ignore part of Title IX, reversing the progress of female athletes in schools. One way is to divert funds to the Office of Civil Rights which leaves the Department of Education unable to address IX complaints even if DeVos chooses to do so. The percentage of female high school athletes has gone from seven percent to 42 percent since the law was implemented. Title IX isn’t just about sports and transgender issues: it protects “pregnant and parenting students, women in STEM programs, and victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence,” according to Neena Chaudhry, Director of Education and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

DDT will definitely “relax” the past crackdown on for-profit colleges, including a new regulation relieving students of loans if they prove their college defrauded them. Under DDT, Trump University might not have had to pay $25 million. An indicator is the way that stocks have shot up—DeVry over 40 percent, Stayer’s 35 percent, and Grand Canyon Education over 28 percent. The GOP will also try to disappear the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that tries to protect consumers from predatory for-profit colleges.

About Betsy DeVos, education historian and researcher Diane Ravitch wrote:

“She was never a student, a parent, an educator, or school board member of public schools. It is her life’s work to tear down public education. She does not respect the line of separation between church and state. She supports for-profit charter schools…. She is ignorant of federal law, federal programs and federal policy. When asked at her Senate hearing about the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, she did not know it was a federal law. She had given no thought to lessening the burden of debt that college students bear, which now exceeds $1 trillion. At a time when the federal role in aiding students with the high cost of college needs to be redesigned, she knows nothing about it.

“… DeVos has financial conflicts of interest which she refuses to divest. She told the Senate committee that she had no role in her mother’s foundation, which has funneled millions of dollars to anti-LGBT organizations, but her name appears on 17 years of the foundation’s audited tax returns. She told the committee that online charter corporations produce stellar results, but researchers demonstrated with facts that she was wrong.

“Choice policies in Michigan have caused the test scores in that state to decline. Detroit, overrun with charters and choice, is a chaotic mess….

“She personifies the privatization movement. She is the leader of the Billionaire Girls Club, spreading her millions across the land to reward and enrich allies in Congress, on state and local school boards, and in any setting where she could tout school choice as a magical remedy for poor performance. Charters and vouchers, whether for-profit or nonprofit, is her sole idea. She has singlehandedly stripped bare the ‘reform’ movement, showing it to be not a civil rights movement but a privatization movement funded by billionaires and religious zealots.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told his protesting constituents at a town hall meeting that they cared so much about Betsy DeVos that she probably had too much power. Our conservative representatives don’t want people to care about what happens in the government.

In a country that almost never recognizes the name of the Secretary of Education, almost half of the people have an opinion—and two thirds of them have an unfavorable opinion of Betsy DeVos. Her lack of approval at 31 percent is worse than that for Jeff Sessions (23 percent) and Mike Pence (28 percent).

The greatest danger that DeVos might do to education in the United States is the proposed voucher program—the subject for the next blog post.

October 15, 2016

Trump, Sons Lead Rape Culture

Filed under: sexism — trp2011 @ 9:52 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Whenever Donald Trump’s children appear, they seem so well-behaved–in great contrast to their father. Even Hillary Clinton praised them in last Sunday’s town hall. Since then, however, Trump’s two sons have shown themselves to be either woefully ignorant or sexist.if-only-women-could-vote

if-only-men-could-vote

 

 

 

After Nate Silver released voting demographics of the United States showing the differences between men and women, son Eric Trump used the above map on the right as a fundraiser. His email, entitled “Momentum,” stated, “We’re making huge gains against Crooked Hillary that you can see for yourself.”

Eric Trump may not have known that his “momentum” happens only if the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote in federal elections, is repealed within the next 24 days. Some of Trump’s deplorables, however, are promoting a “rigged election” with their hashtag #repealthe19th.

Trump’s other son, Donald, Jr., is another apple who fell close to the Trump tree in his “family values” and attitudes toward women.

Donald Trump, Jr. in 2013 about women permitted in all-male golf clubs:

 “If you have a guys’ place you have a guys’ place.”

Junior explaining that men “hate having” women around because they complain about things like harassment:

“They stop us from doing what we want to do.”

An excuse Junior provides for his father’s admission that he’s a sexual predator:

“I think sometimes when guys are together they get carried away, and sometimes that’s what happens when alpha personalities are in the same presence.”

More from Junior about sexual harassment:

“If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce. Like, you should go maybe teach kindergarten. I think it’s a respectable position. You can’t be negotiating billion-dollar deals if you can’t handle, like, you know.”

Junior mocking women who he accuses of suing just to make money:

“’This is my get-rich-quick scheme. I’m now suing you guys because I feel uncomfortable.’ And by the way, that’s what happens in the world. I can play along, I can be fine, and then I can decide randomly, ’Uh oh, you now have crossed the line, even though I’ve been going with it.’”

Junior in defense of his father’s behavior, including groping women:

“I think it makes him a human. I think it makes him a normal person, not a political robot.”

Trump, Jr. writing about his wife’s breast-feeding as he displays the same lack of respect for women on social media as his father :

“If ur a boob guy this whole lactation thing is amazing the sports bra the wife is wearing is losing the containment battle!!!”

In just the past three days, the number of women who declared that Donald Trump sexually assaulted them has gone from two to 12. This week is sure to bring reports from more women. Yet Republicans cling to the GOP presidential candidate like barnacles. Even some of the national legislators returned after they disavowed him following the Washington Post’s release of the infamous video with Billy Bush, George W. Bush’s cousin, in which Trump claimed to be a sexual predator.

At his rallies, Trump declares that the women who have accused him are too ugly for him to attack. [Left: Rachel Crooks; right: Jessica Crooks; below right; Natasha Stoynoff]

leeds-crooks

natasha-stoynoffAfraid of violence against her and her family from Trump supporters, Mindy McGillivray, another woman who had described Trump’s sexual assault, said she was leaving the country.

Fox Business Anchor Lou Dobbs, an open Trump supporter, published the address and telephone number of 74-year-old Jessica Leeds, who was assaulted by Trump on an airplane when she was 40 years old. In an attempt to discredit his attack on Leeds, the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post published a report from Englishman Anthony Gilberthorpe who said that Leeds was the aggressor and confessed to him her desire to marry Trump. At the time, he was 18 years old. Since then he has been identified as a serial liar, but the Fox network is delighted to repeat the story.

Six months ago, Republicans panicked about the very thought that transwomen would grope their daughters and wives when they passed laws to keep transwomen out of the women’s bathrooms. Yet the reality that Donald Trump would actually grab “p***y” was passed off as “locker room talk” despite Trump’s admission on a Howard Stern show that he is indeed a sexual predator. Trump, his family, and his supporters are promoters for a rape culture in the United States.

In addition to exposing Donald Trump for the man he is, the women describing his sexually predatory behavior have brought out the problem of workplace sexual assault, particularly prevalent among low-wage workers. Last week, 15 McDonald’s employees filed harassment charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This harassment is so common among hospitality workers that Unite Here, their national labor union, has launched a campaign to address the problem.

Over three-fourths of almost 500 casino workers in the Chicago area reported incidents of sexual harassment. Researcher Sarah Lyons said, “Forty-nine percent of the housekeepers we surveyed said a guest had exposed themselves, flashed them or answered the door naked.” Women sexually harassed at work say that they don’t report these incidents because they fear they won’t have any support. Unite Here is working on legislation to ban guests sexually harassing employees and provide panic buttons to employees who work alone in rooms.

Since women began to reveal Trump’s assaults, more women are opening up about sexual assaults. The live chat helpline for sexual assault accusations, operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) had a 33-percent increase.  Calls to the telephone hotline have also gone up by 35 percent. RAINN President Scott Berkowitz said, “A lot of people calling have specifically said that it was the Trump stuff that got them thinking [about calling].”

Yesterday Trump blamed Clinton for plotting “the destruction of U.S. sovereignty” by meeting with global financial powers. On the campaign trail today, Trump is still vehemently denying the avalanche of sexual assault and making baseless accusations ranting about how the election is rigged, vowing to put Hillary Clinton into jail, and charging her with being on drugs at the last debate, calling on her to get tested before the next debate. It may be that he is projecting again after his constant sniffles in both his debate and town hall with Clinton and his uncontrollable shifts in mood and energy levels. The next debate is four days away. As usual, the major question is which Trump will appear.

October 13, 2016

Victims of Sexual Assault Leave Their Closets

Filed under: Women's issues — trp2011 @ 9:29 PM
Tags: , , ,

My blog on National Coming Out Day (October 11) left out an important group of people who are still in the closet–the women who have been sexually assaulted. During the fast few days, millions of these brave women have started to leave their closets although it’s proving dangerous in many cases.

The media is now focusing on the growing number of women who are telling how Donald Trump sexually attacked them in a rejection of Trump’s claims that his infamous “grab them by the p***y” statement were “just words.” They all have the same reason: at Sunday night’s debate Trump blatantly insisted that he had never sexually assaulted any women in an effort to protect himself from criticism regarding his coarse language about women.

Trump’s response was typical of his approach to accusations by calling them all “horrible, horrible liars.” He also told his audiences that he could not possibly have attacked these women because they were so physically unappealing. After declaring that the stories of sexual assault against a woman on an airplane was a “totally fabricated and false story,” Trump said, “Take a look … at her. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.” The words were accompanied with a sneer, and the crowds cheered. He used the same words when he accused a reporter of lying about his sexual assault on her.

Trump’s language about women has been devastating to them even if they have not been sexually assaulted. On the campaign trail tonight, an 11-year-old Girl Scout asked VP candidate Mike Pence a question. She brought up some of Trump’s language about women’s bodies and said, “When I hear those words and look in the mirror, they make me feel bad about myself.” Pence’s solution for her concerns is that the GOP foreign policy will keep her safe by destroying ISIS.

Why didn’t the People staff writer Natasha Stoynoff make the attack public when it first happened? This is her answer:

“Like many women, I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it (‘It’s not like he raped me…’); I doubted my recollection and my reaction. I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted people feature killed. ‘I just want to forget it ever happened,’ I insisted.” But when she saw Trump deny putting his offensive words into action, she could no longer forget.”

Many women who report sexual assaults aren’t believed. If they push the issue, they usually run the chance of being punished. Conservative male politicians and pundits are now accusing the women telling their stories about Trump for being opportunists. Yet some of the women have talked about their experiences throughout the campaign, and the people largely ignored them because of their illogical hatred for Hillary Clinton. The media also failed to widely publish the information.

In his support of Trump’s sexual assault “locker room talk” and behavior, Rush Limbaugh ridiculed liberals for the importance of consent in “American sexual mores.” Limbaugh ranted:

“If the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation, then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left.”

In his attempt to indicate the absurdity of this law, Rush Limbaugh is really correct. Consent really is the “magic key”: the Justice Department defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

Yet Limbaugh, often recognized as a leader of the conservatives, believes that women don’t have the right to protect themselves by refusing to give consent. Other conservative leaders follow his lead. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) said that he might continue to support Trump even if the GOP candidate said, “I really like to rape women.” It should be noted that Farenthold was sued two years ago for creating “a hostile work environment” and sexual harassment.” He allegedly told his communications director at the time, Lauren Greene, that he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her. The case was eventually settled out of court.

The escape that conservatives use to justify for their continued support of Trump is to “condemn” his words but then stand by him. For example, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, claims that Trump is a “changed” man. Conservatives like Dave Daubenmire think that “it’s better for a president to grab a vagina than have one.” Falwell ignores the Trump of today who still maligns women, claims he will send Hillary Clinton to prison without legal justification, defrauds people, and constant lies about his personal and professional affairs.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defends Trump by saying that Hillary Clinton’s statements are just as bad. “She lies an awful lot,” he said, which is in itself if not a lie than a massive misrepresentation not supported by evidence. At least Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who is running for re-election, had the good sense to take back her statement that Trump is a “role model for youth.”

Newt Gingrich didn’t even deny Jessica Leeds’ description of Trump’s touching her breasts and putting his hands up her skirt when she sat next to him in first class. Instead, he referred to the disgusting event as “a bad airplane flight.”

Dave Zirin explains how males provide the impetus in forcing women to keep their experiences of being sexually assaulted a secret. He tells about not calling out the bragging of an upperclassmate about making women have sex with him and telling a story about his attack on a girl. Zirin wrote that he kept quiet because he didn’t want to “look like a loser” but went home ashamed. The bragging student was later accused of rape but allowed to quietly leave the school without prosecution. Zirin emphasized the importance of confronting predators, something that three-fourths of the GOP political leaders refuse to do. The secrecy of sexual assault creates a rape culture.

As tragic as these sexual assault stories demonstrate the rape culture throughout the nation, woman who have been attacked are coming out of the closet. Huffington Post is keeping a list of women who describe Donald Trump’s assault on them, including Trump’s first wife and a woman suing Trump for rape when she was 13 years old. New Yorker has descriptions of sexual allegations against Trump.

Author Kelly Oxford used social media to expose stories of attacks when she asked women to tweet about their first sexual assaults last Friday. Over 30 million people have read or answered Oxford about their initial sexual abuses. Goldie Taylor, Daily Beast editor-at-large, started another Twitter conversation after Trump supporters like Joe Scarborough slammed women because they didn’t immediately report the assaults. Taylor tweeted, “How long did it take you speak publicly about your sexual abuse and name the perpetrator? It took me 30 years.” She had never told friends, family, or even her partner about the assault.

In all his horribleness, Trump may have opened the closet for millions of victims of sexual assault.

August 24, 2016

Men Who Sexually Assault Women Need Protection, Judge Asserts

Filed under: sexism — trp2011 @ 7:53 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

david beckerAnother judge understands that poor athletes don’t deserve prison time for sexually assaulting unconscious women. David Becker, 18, was charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery at a party in Palmer (MA), but Palmer District Court Judge Thomas Estes ordered Becker’s case be continued for two years without a finding and sentenced him to two years of probation. The recent graduate of East Longmeadow High School was told to avoid drugs and alcohol, submit to an evaluation for sex offender treatment, and stay away from the two 18-year-old victims.

Becker has no jail time, won’t be required to register as a sex offender, and can have his record cleared if he successfully fulfills the requirements of his probation. He can also serve his probation wherever he decides to go to college, originally at the University of Dayton (OH) until the school reported that he will not be attending. Thomas Rooke, Becker’s attorney, is naturally delighted that he won’t be impeded “from graduating high school and to go onto the next step of his life, which is a college experience.”

Both victims woke up while Becker was sexually assaulting them. He denied assaulting one woman but apologized to the other in a text the next day. He had thought his behavior was acceptable because the unconscious women didn’t stop him. Becker evidently has a history of assaulting other girls because his nickname is “David the Rapist.” The lawyer said, “We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old…. Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid’s life.” The DA’s office concurred although prosecutors recommended two years in prison.

Estes’ ruling follows the exoneration of students Brock Turner, Stanford University, and Austin Wilkerson, University of Colorado, for similar offenses. Since Stanford became notorious for the judge’s permissive attitude toward sexual assault, the university has a new policy that may protect future rapists. The school’s solution is to ban large containers of hard alcohol from campus undergraduate events and tell women to be careful of how males “perceive” them if they drink. The new rule continues to put blame on the victim, as the sentencing for Brock Turner did. The policy is only for undergraduates; graduate students and staff have no guidelines.

An entire portion of Stanford’s policy is devoted to “Female Bodies and Alcohol” that begins, “A woman will get drunk faster than a man consuming the same amount of alcohol.” The policy follows with how women should “optimize the positive effects of alcohol and avoid negative consequences.” At least it eliminated the statement that “research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be.”

In a survey this week, 56 percent of men think that sexism is a thing of the past.

Trump Watch:  Trump’s new “persuasive” argument to people of color is asking them what they have to lose by voting for him. Prominent Hispanic activist and conservative Ana Navarro answers Trump:

What we have to lose, is our dignity. Our sense of self-worth…. Our moral compass…. Our political leverage. We would lose any power. If we allow somebody who has been bashing us for over a year to win the presidency, it means the Hispanic vote does not matter. So, that’s my answer to Donald Trump. What do we have to lose by voting for you? Our dignity.”

After Navarro listened to GOP Hispanic Communications Director Helen Aguirre Ferré extol the virtues of the GOP candidate, the political analyst listed several Trump offenses against the Hispanic community before she said to Ferré:

“Listen, Helen, I let you speak and I’m old enough to remember when you used to Tweet against Donald Trump! I’m old enough to remember when you used to be as offended as I am by the things Donald Trump used to say! That was before he was the nominee. That was before you had an RNC job.”

At least seven of Trump’s paid campaign staffers agree with the candidate’s bigotry: their personal social media accounts declare that Muslims shouldn’t be U.S. citizens, Secretary of State John Kerry should be hanged, and the country should have a civil war. A graphic designer posted a racist video, and other staffers supported conspiracy theories. There may be many others, but several of Trump’s staffers have set their accounts to private. An examination of internal emails from Clinton’s or the DNC staffers did not find any racially or religiously inflammatory content.

Law enforcement officers, including a sniper perched atop an armored vehicle, watch as demonstrators protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 13, 2014. The police chief of this St. Louis suburb said Wednesday that Brown injured the officer who later fatally shot the unarmed 18 year old ? though witnesses dispute that such an altercation occurred. (Whitney Curtis/The New York Times)

Law enforcement officers in Ferguson (MO),  August. 13, 2014. (Whitney Curtis/The New York Times)

Eager to be known as the “law and order” candidate, Donald Trump wants to put war weapons back on the streets of the United States after President Obama banned sales of such surplus military equipment as grenade launchers to police departments. White House reforms require federal oversight and restrictions for police departments that are allowed other military equipment.

Part of Trump’s strategy to get elected is his lie that war zones in foreign countries are safer than U.S. cities. Yet fewer violent crimes were committed in 2014 than during any year in the past several decades. Crime rates stayed flat in the 30 largest cities during the first six months of 2015. A decade ago, during the reign of George W. Bush, crime rates were 30 percent higher than now. At the same time, Republicans have convinced two-thirds of the nation’s population that crime is vastly on the rise.

crime rate chart

In his business acumen, Trump has almost quintupled the monthly rent charged to the presidential campaign for its headquarters at Trump Tower–$169,758 in July alone. It was much cheaper in March–$35,458—before donors started paying for the rent. Donors to his campaign are also paying in Trump’s coffers through rents for many of his facilities. He has also been caught illegally using campaign funds to buy thousands of copies of his own book at retail cost, putting the money from donors into his own pocket and artificially boosting his sales figures. In the past the FEC has permitted candidates to buy copies of their own books from the publisher at a “discounted bulk rate”with no royalties going to the author.

Comedian Seth Meyers nailed the Trump’s pivot that even mainstream pundits are buying into these days:

“The 2016 campaign has settled into something of a pattern: Donald Trump spends weeks saying inflammatory things that drive his poll numbers down, then for a few days he acts relatively normal, and the media thinks he’s ready to get serious. Well, it’s happening again—even as Trump surrounds himself with people who feed his worst instincts.”

As Meyers said:

“That’s how low the bar is for Trump right now: Republicans are complimenting him for being ‘mature.’ They talk about their nominee the way people talk about a 5-year-old wearing a suit at a wedding.”

And it’s not just the GOP who think this way. As Adele Stan wrote:

“When Trump repudiates his racist followers and stops stoking their fears, we’ll know he’s serious about reaching out to non-whites.”

If Donald Trump loves black people as much as he claims, why doesn’t he meet with them? Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski explained that it’s too dangerous for Trump.

The man who tweeted this declaration wants to be the president of perhaps the most powerful nation in the world:

“I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That’s where the fun is!”

In another tweet, Trump told people not to purchase the newly released book about him, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power, because it’s “boring. which went on sale Tuesday. The word “revealing” might be better used for this book that included 20 hours of interviews with Trump. According to the book, Trump wants a TV show if he loses the election, he’s never read a biography about a president, and he thinks that his wife’s breasts have to stay looking good from him to stay married to Melania. There’s also information about his involvement in “one of the most significant racial bias cases” of the 1970s when he and his father tried to keep blacks from living in one of their buildings.

August 13, 2016

No Prison for Sexual Assault Perpetrator

Petition.

Another judge has ruled no prison term for a college student who sexually assaulted a young woman. Like Judge Aaron Persky in the Brock Turner case, a convicted sexual assault perpetrator jailed only three months for sexual assault conviction, Boulder District (CO) Patrick Butler finds the future of the perpetrator more important than punishment.

Austin James Wilkerson, University of Colorado (CU) student, was “pissed off” after the victim rejected his advances. He called her a “f*$%ing bitch” and told friends later that he would “take care” of her. While others watched, Wilkerson gave her water and checked her pulse and temperature. He even sent a text to her friend about his caring for her.

When he was alone with the victim, he sexually assaulted her in multiple ways while she went in and out of consciousness. At trial, he testified she wasn’t drunk and had made “pleasure sounds” while he “caressed” her vagina. He said he left in the middle of the encounter because he felt guilty for cheating on his girlfriend. Wilkerson finally admitted that he “digitally and orally penetrated” the woman while he “wasn’t getting much of a response from her.”

The probation department determined Wilkerson remorseful, but Deputy District Attorney Caryn Datz disagreed, saying the former college student had lied on the witness stand. “It was a five-day display of arrogance, entitlement, privilege and blatant disregard for the role of law,” Datz said of his trial. “This defendant on the witness stand admitted he is willing to lie to gain an advantage to himself.” Deputy District Attorney Lisa Saccomano said Wilkerson displayed a pattern of “highly deceptive, manipulative behavior,” changing his story when it suited him from the night of the sexual assault to his interviews with the probation department.

In court, Austin’s victim said:

“When I’m not having nightmares about the rape, retaliation or a retrial gone awry, I’m having panic attacks. Some days I can’t even get out of bed…. Have as much mercy for the rapist as he did for me that night.”

The victim also told the court about the victim blaming and quoted the ways that victimized are faulted for attacks on them–for example, “If I hadn’t been drunk, this wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t gotten separated, this wouldn’t have happened.” She asked, “Yet it was excusable for him to rape me because he was drunk?”

patrick butlerAlthough Wilkerson’s conviction for unlawful sexual assault and assaulting a helpless victim should have given him four to twelve years in prison with the possibility of life if he weren’t rehabilitated, Butler (right) was afraid that rehabilitation was not possible and didn’t want to send him to prison. Therefore he sentenced Wilkerson to 20 years to life on probation and two years in the county jail allowing him to leave during the day to work or attend classes. The judge agreed that Wilkerson appeared to feel “entitled” and “tried to play the system,” but he still kept Wilkerson out of prison.

University of Colorado has 13,000 female students. A recent survey shows that 28 percent of female undergraduates at CU say they were sexually assaulted during their time on campus. Datz explained what she tells victims they will have to endure if they take a sexual assault crime to court:

“That despite her courage, and telling her parents, her school, police coming to meet me, it wouldn’t be enough. That she would have to come into a court and be totally exposed in a court full of strangers. I had to tell her she’ll be accused of seeking attention or having some sort of unknown agenda, and that our community may dismiss this as a drunken college night. I hate to have these kinds of conversations with the bravest people I get to meet.”

In California, Persky is facing a recall campaign for his light sentence of Brock Turner. In the meantime, some prospective jurors are refusing to serve under Persky because of his actions in the Turner case. Persky was also removed from a case in which a male nurse faces allegations of sexually assaulting an anesthetized woman.

According to Mitchell Byars, staff writer for the Daily Camera, district judges are not subject to recall. They are appointed by the governor’s office and subject to retention votes. Butler is not up for retention until 2020, and voters in the 20th Judicial District, covering Boulder County, have always supported a judge in a retention vote. The state legislature can, however, impeach judges. Signatures on this petition are one way to show legislators that they need to impeach Butler for his sentence of Wilkerson.

Wilkerson is not the only person convicted of sexual assault in Boulder County to stay out of prison. Seven months ago, Boulder District Judith LaBuda saved Daniel Ryerson, an Air Force cadet convicted of raping a fellow cadet, from a prison term of up to six years to life. LaBuda said she saw no “remorse” but found he had “redeemable qualities” allowing him to “be a functioning member of society in a positive manner if and when you accept responsibility for the crime that you committed: the rape of somebody who trusted you.” Letters from Ryerson show only blame for the victim and the court as he considers himself the victim.

Despite forensic evidence of rape, defense attorney John Pineau said his client wasn’t to blame any more than the victim:

“The facts in the case indicate that there was a joint venture in the case where both people had almost identical conduct, yet one person is demonized and the other is made a victim. The truth is not typically black or white, it’s somewhere in between.”

Ryerson raped the victim in a bathroom while she was drunk at a party. She says that she now lives in constant fear of retaliation. LaBuda said that she hoped there was “education to the rest of the cadets,” but lack of prison may not provide “education.”

All three men convicted of sexual assault are white and alive and not in prison.

Trump Watch: Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, may be as ignorant as Trump about foreign and domestic affairs. She told CNN that Barack Obama was responsible for invading Afghanistan—that country that George W. Bush invaded in 2011 after he was appointed president by the Supreme Court—seven years before Obama became president.

Trump says that the presidential campaign has boosted his business, but he still refuses to release any tax returns. His excuse that he can’t while he’s being audited is totally bogus. His statement was made as part of a deposition in a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Geoffrey Zakarian. The chef pulled out of a deal to open a restaurant in Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel after Trump accused Mexican immigrants of being rapists and drug dealers. Trump also blamed the media in his deposition for misinterpreting his comments. He also filed a lawsuit against chef José Andrés who also terminated his restaurant plans after Trump’s statements.

The deposition also showed that Trump’s company keeps two sets of books—the real ones and the “rosier” ones for lenders and investors, according to testimony from Raymond Flores,  a financial analyst. Projections from the two different sets of books about Trump’s $200 million luxury hotel from Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office building shows a difference in earnings of 25 percent more in rooms and twice as much in food—millions of dollars—in the lenders’ “model.”

Asked about the reality of the “rosier” picture, Flores said that “it is within the realm of possibility to do great things with this hotel.” Trump’s lawyers tried to keep the May testimony from the public eye, but BuzzFeed News has petitioned the court for the full deposition. The judge ruled in favor of the media, but Trump’s team has filed an emergency motion asking for him to reconsider. If the judge turns Trump down, there may be more revelations about Trump’s dealings.

Trump’s past deceptions have been made obvious with probes into Trump University, his  purchase of condominiums in Baja California, the failure of his Atlantic City casino, refusal to pay his workers, etc. Only the investors in his projects lose.

Once again, Trump may have persuaded Reince Priebus, RNC chair, that the candidate can pivot into a civilized person. After Priebus appeared at a Trump rally to talk about their unity, the RNC and Trump’s campaign are working together to open 25 Florida field offices and install over 200 paid staff within the next three weeks. The spending is in the low six figures whereas Clinton and her allies have already spent more than $20 million in the state.

This is the same Trump who said about the recent letter from leading Republicans begging the GOP to dump him:

“I don’t know that we need to get out the vote. I think people that really want to vote, they’re gonna just get up and vote for Trump. And we’re going to make America great again.”

If he weren’t so scary, it would be more fun listening to him than the Bushisms of George W.’s early first term.

 

June 9, 2016

White Male Privilege – Rapist Apologists in a Rape Culture

Twenty-year-old Brock Allen Turner, Stanford University student and wannabe surgeon, has been found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and sentenced. The jury heard about how the victim became incoherent within 20 minutes of arriving at a frat party and how Turner was later seen straddling her completely unconscious body behind a dumpster. The woman did not regain consciousness until 4:15 a.m., and had no memory of the assault.The crime occurred in January 2015, the trial last March, and the sentencing this week. For this crime, California law carried a sentence of two to 14 years in state prison.

At the trial, Turner said that the 23-year-old woman seemed to be enjoying his actions. Yet he tried to run away after two graduate students saw him. They caught and restrained him. Witnesses and physical evidence all refuted Turner’s claims. His court statement explained that drinking can ruin a person’s life and then called the victim “the cause” and himself “the effect.” The jury found Turner guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated person, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

Law enforcement refused to publicly release Turner’s mug shot to the media until after a huge outcry. Instead Santa Clara County used his sentencing photo until forced to provide the original mug shot (below left). Media typically used his photos on the swim team or one (below right) that appears to have come from a yearbook. The procedure was in direct contrast to stories about black men accused of sexual assault that typically use mug shots.

brock clean cutbrock mug shot

brock yearbook

 

Judge Aaron Persky, a past Stanford student and captain of the lacrosse team, sentenced Turner to six months in county jail and another three years of probation. The reasons? Turner is an All-American swimmer with Olympic dreams. He just made a mistake, and more than the sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner’s future. The judge added that he didn’t believe that Turner would be of danger to others and that he’s young.   Turner may be out of jail much sooner. He was sentenced on June 8, and his scheduled release date is September 2 of this year.  While DA in Santa Clara County, Persky prosecuted sex crimes.

In a letter, Turner’s father wrote that any jail time was too harsh. He added, “This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 years plus of life.” The father also suggested that Brock Turner work to warn students about the dangers of “promiscuity.” Michael Miller mourned in the Washington Post that “his extraordinary yet brief swim career is now tarnished, like a rusting trophy.” Other defenses from family members and friends were equally disgusting.

Turner’s sexual assault on an unconscious woman wasn’t really rape, according to his friend Leslie Rasmussen, who sent a letter of support for Turner to the judge. She wrote:

“I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.

“This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgement [sic].”

After the backlash for her comments about her support for a rapist, Rasmusson (below right) has apologized. But her indie grunge-pop band Good English has lost its gigs, and the judge’s light sentence still stands.

good-english-1

The judge’s sentencing sent two powerful messages.

  1. Color matters: Standout Vanderbilt football player, Cory Batey, was immediately remanded after raping an unconscious woman and got a sentence of 15 to 25 years; Brock Turner got six months for the same crime. Turner would probably not have been convicted at all if two Swedish graduate students hadn’t been riding by on their bicycles.  Batey is black; Turner is white.
  2. Campus rape doesn’t matter: Conservatives continue to blame women and their participation in the “hook-up culture” for their rapes while attacking colleges and universities for trying to decrease the number of sexual assaults on campus.

Turner defended himself on the rape charge by saying that he was drunk and couldn’t help himself. A Facebook post from Matt Lang explained what’s wrong with his defense:

“I’ve been drunk many times, even in the presence of promiscuous women who were also drunk, and I managed not to rape them, so I don’t think drinking and promiscuity are the problems. This here is the problem: some guys are entitled pricks, and they’re entitled pricks because their fathers and coaches and friends taught them to be entitled pricks. Because they are entitled pricks, they think they can have whatever they want, and that their worth is defined by what they have and what they take….

“Brock Turner and his ilk were never taught that [rape is wrong]. They were taught that they can have what they want, when they want, including women. And that’s called being a man. Brock Turner thought he was entitled to a little ‘action’ any way he could get it, and he thought that long before he got drunk. The alcohol didn’t introduce that thought, it unlocked it. That thought: ‘I can take whatever I want, including her,’ was planted and watered by a whole, rotten village.

“It is right that we shame him, and his father, and the friend who came to his defense, and the judge, and every other entitled prick we meet.

“Just as importantly, we need to love our boys, and teach them the dignity of the body, and how to live through disappointment and confusion, and how to navigate confusing feelings, and how to separate feelings from action, and how to communicate and listen. We need to redefine for them what it is to be a man, that their worth doesn’t come from that which they have and take.”

Thanks, Matt.

Over 100,000 people have signed a petition to recall Persky. The National Organization for Women has also published a letter endorsing this action. It is available here. Persky may think that six months in jail is a “severe impact,” but the real impact is the life-time sentences for all of the victims, especially the ones who no longer want to come forward about these crimes because of Turner’s light sentence. The only hope is that the country stay enraged about the actions of Turner, his supporters, and his judge.

November 10, 2015

The Tragedy of Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day, a designated time to honor U.S. veterans for their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. For many years, being a vet meant moving toward the middle class, a benefit for struggling citizens. Yet today’s United States is a very sad place for many veterans.

One serious problem is health care for veterans who were sexually assaulted while in the military, ten times the rate for women as for men. Reporting these assaults while in the military is frequently ignored which impacts the lack of care later on, especially when military officials warn television stations to not air these stories.

Col. (Ret.) Kathy Platoni, a U.S. Army psychologist for more than three decades, cited problems such as hostile physicians and violations of HIPAA privacy regulations in the VA. Susan Avila Smith, advocate for raped and sexual abused women in the military, told about a woman placed on a VA co-ed psych ward who was forced to watch a New Year’s Day football game with a group of male patients. They cheered their team, and she screamed in fear, remembering her rape by a serviceman. She was strapped to a gurney, legs spread, and left alone in a quiet room instead of receiving appropriate care and support. Only 55 percent of the 150 major VA hospitals have women’s clinics.

Female service members account for about 15 percent of the armed forces, but 46 percent of military sexual assault victims. Of the victims who reported attacks, 62 percent said they received retaliation both professionally and socially because of their reports. According to an estimation, fewer than three out of every 100 sexual assaults in 2012 were prosecuted.

Among the homeless, veterans represent 8.6 percent, down from five years earlier because of efforts to end veterans’ homelessness. Overrepresented are black veterans who comprise 39 percent of the homeless veteran population but only 11 percent of the total veteran population. Feeding America reports that “20 percent of families served by its food banks and pantries include someone who has served in the U.S. military.”

At least ten percent of people on death row today—over 300 inmates—are military veterans although only seven percent of the population has ever served in the military. Many more veterans have been executed, according to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center. Researcher Richard C. Dieter reports that this disturbing statistic may be related to the serious traumas that veterans have suffered, receiving poor treatment or none at all. One-third of homicide victims killed by veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan were family members or girlfriends. Another 25 percent were fellow service members.

Jeffrey Toobin points out the difference between recent and past veterans:

“Earlier generations of veterans came home from war to ticker-tape parades, a generous G.I. Bill, and a growing economy that offered them a chance at upward mobility. Younger veterans returned to P.T.S.D., a relatively stagnant economy, especially in rural and semi-rural areas, and an epidemic of drug abuse. And they came home to a society where widening income inequality suggested the futility of their engagement with the contemporary world.”

Veterans also have a suicide rate 50 percent higher than those who didn’t serve in the military. Because the suicide rate is higher among veterans who didn’t deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq, the causes of suicide for the veteran population may not be limited to the trauma of war. Suicide among women veterans is much higher than men, almost six times the rate of other women. Suicide for women veterans ages 18 to 29 is 12 times the rate of nonveterans, and every other age group of women veterans is between four and eight times higher. In the general population, women tend to attempt suicide more often than men but use pills or methods other than guns. Female veterans, however, are more likely to have guns; 40% of female veterans use guns to commit suicide.

Veterans, like the elderly, disabled, and others on Social Security, won’t receive a cost of living this coming year, for the third time since 1975. In introducing the Seniors and Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act—a one-time increase of 3.9 percent or about $581—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) selected that percentage because it’s equal to the average annual increase in CEO pay at the top 350 U.S. companies. Taxpayers subsidize CEO pay packages because they are considered a business expense. Closing that loophole would pay for this increase veterans and Social Security payments while still leaving funding for the Social Security Trust Fund.

Tonight the GOP presidential candidates met to debate issues. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) supports privatizing the VA health care system, removing government-connecting negotiating power for prices. He also “advocated for leniency in the U.S. Department of Education’s investigation of Corinthian Colleges and its job placement claims” although Corinthian Colleges illegally used official military seals “in its advertising in an effort to recruit recently discharged service men and women” before abruptly shutting down “under the weight of regulatory and legal pressure.” The company was also accused of advertising programs that it didn’t offer and misrepresenting job placement rates to students and investors.

While governor of Florida, Jeb Bush tried to privatize health care for veterans, but the private company providing nursing and food services—a company that donated to Bush’s campaign—went into bankruptcy two years later. The facilities using the private companies provided substandard care and were ranked in the bottom 20 percent of facilities in the county. Records showed that nine out of ten patients did not receive proper care.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson wants to do away with the VA and put their care into facilities for the general population. Although not all VA-enrolled veterans seek health care during a given year, the U.S. had 9,111,955 VA-enrolled Veterans in 2014, a number equivalent to the combined populations of Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and both Dakotas.

Back in 1998, Sen.Lindsey Graham (SC) lied about seeing action while in the military when he claimed to be “an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran although he never got closer to the war than McEntire Air National Guard Base near Columbia where he was a military lawyer.” Later he said that he “didn’t mean to mislead people.” His job while in South Carolina was to make wills for soldiers sent to the Gulf War.

Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), and Rubio voted against spousal benefits for legally married same-gender spouses of veterans. The amendment would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.” It passed without the votes from the GOP presidential candidates.

In opposing giving veterans access to affordable housing, Paul was also one of 11 senators who voted against considering a bill that would “provide $142 billion in fiscal 2012 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction, military housing and related operations. The bill also includes $52.5 billion in advance fiscal 2013 appropriations for VA medical programs.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to set aside 3 percent of all state contracts for veteran-owned businesses. President Obama signed the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act this past summer, but Christie refused to hire them for state projects. During the debate, Christie said, “Hillary Clinton doesn’t respect [veterans] service.

Candidates in the debate were eager to create more crisis situations in the Middle East which would force more death and disaster for military members, but they did not go beyond empty words in helping them. Last spring, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a measure that would have expanded education and health care, including 27 new medical facilities, for veterans. The bill proposed the guarantee of in-state tuition rates at all public universities for post-9/11 veterans. Conservatives are ready to cause wars but reluctant to care for the “collateral damage” of their decisions.

In a recent poll, two-thirds of the surveyed veterans opposed privatization of VA health care. In addition, 57 percent of them said that this issue would determine the presidential candidate that they choose. The GOP presidential candidates might want to take notice.

May 24, 2015

Worry about Josh Duggar’s Crimes, Not Sins

The conservative world is still reeling since the revelation that Josh Duggar, eldest son in his family and the face of Family Research Council (FRC) at anti-LGBT rallies, molested at least five girls when he was a teenager. As executive director of FRC Action, the organization’s political arm, he raised funds, hobnobbed with half the GOP presidential contenders, and talked about how LGBT people are a threat to children. Because the statute of limitations has run out on the 27-year-old’s crimes, he will most likely not be prosecuted, but the publicity surrounding his actions is well-deserved, because of his “holier-than-thou” demeanor toward people who don’t follow his path of hatred and bigotry. Duggar has resigned from his position, but the whirlpool of his actions and the resulting reactions spreads every day.

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The patriarch of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob Duggar, waited over a year—and three months after he told the elders of his church—to file a police report after learning about Josh’s crimes. Jim Bob also refused to allow police to interview Josh during a felony investigation in 2006. The police report emerged only after In Touch magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act request and has since been expunged at the request of a judge appointed by then Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Police spokesman Scott Lewis said the expunging of the record was highly unusual because similar records are usually kept indefinitely.

Huckabee explained that the file was destroyed to protect the “innocent victims.” Six years ago, Huckabee wrote about director Roman Polanski’s raping a child almost 30 years ago in a Fox op-ed: “If something is right, it’s right. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Diversity is a good thing; duplicity is not.” Huckabee has a history of releasing criminals, including two murderers who went on to kill six more people.

The police report shows that Josh was investigated for sex offenses—including felonies—against five minors, four of them his sisters. He was accused of touching the girls’ breasts and genitals, often while they slept. Instead of alerting the police, the family later claimed they sent Josh to a four-month Christian program of hard physical work and counseling in 2003 but really sent him to live with a family friend in the home remodeling business. Jim Bob finally took Josh to personal acquaintance Arkansas State Trooper, Jim Hutchens, who only gave Josh a “very stern talk.” Hutchins took no other action and is now serving a 56-year prison sentence for child pornography.

After TLC became aware of Josh’s history of molestation, the channel waited to determine the future of their cash cow program. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was immediately canceled after TLC learned that “Mama June” was dating a convicted child molester although he had not been a member of the cast, but TLC aired a Duggar marathon after Josh, a part of the program, apologized for his behavior on his Facebook page. The program began losing its advertisers such as General Mills, and the TLC indicated that it was pulling the show. The show is still listed to air on June 1, and the network hasn’t decided on its long-term decision regarding the show’s fate.

Josh’s former employer, FRC, has traditionally demonized LGBT people through false allegations. The website still posts a 2002 document, “Homosexuality and Child Abuse,” which wrongly assumes male molesters of boys are gay to purport that homosexual men molest boys at disproportionate rates to “the rates at which heterosexual men molest girls.”

Duggar mentor Bill Gothard, 79, has also resigned from Basic Life Principles, the Christian homeschooling organization he founded, after accusations that he sexually harassed over 35 women and teenage girls. Three years ago, Gothard was asked to step down because he “has exhibited a 40-year pattern of moral failure” and “publicly repent.” Basic Life Principles’ curriculum preaches that victims are at fault for being sexually assaulted and the perpetrators are the real victims who are defrauded by the sexual assault victims. Girls are also taught from an early age that they provoke the rapes and have no right to pursue justice. That is what the Duggar children may have been taught.

The billionaires who own Hobby Lobby have provided substantial financial support for Gothard’s organization for at least a decade. Gothard is also associated with Quiverfull, a movement championed by Jim and Michelle Duggar that advocates wifely submission and considers all forms of birth control as sinful. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green praised one ofGothard’s books: “Through the example and teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, we have benefited both as a family and in our business.”

In a religious homeschooling family in Wake Forest (NC) , four of the six brothers pled guilty to sexually abusing their sister for nine years. Anti-schooler parents, John and Nita Jackson, fled to Colorado with the victim to keep her from being interviewed. Eight indictments were handed down after they were returned to North Carolina. Oldest brothers Eric and Matthew received sentences of 12 to 15 years, and two other brothers, Nathaniel and Benjamin, will serve two years each for multiple counts of incest. One brother is expected to plead guilty, and another will go to trial. The girl told police that her mother had walked away after witnessing at least one of the crimes.

Like Josh, the Duggar parents are politically active. Jim Bob was a state representative from 1999 until 2003 and a U.S. Senate candidate. Michelle campaigned for overturning a measure that banned LGBT discrimination in Fayetteville (AR) on the basis that the law would endanger children. She said, “We   should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child.” She succeeded.

Fayetteville is the location of a Christian school that knowingly employed a man convicted of sexual offenses against an 8-year-old child. Paul Leroy Connor, convicted of “taking sexual liberties with” and committing a sexual offense against the child in 2001, served two years in prison and is barred under state law from being on school property. The school’s administrator, Joan Drayton not only refused to fire Connor but also told the reporting teacher to stop teaching students how to search for sex offenders. An investigation revealed grade tampering for the athletic program and wealthy families as well as “fraudulent conduct on the part of the school and its administrators.” One senior with a GPA of .97 received a diploma.

Freedom Christian Academy is one of the state’s top recipients of private school vouchers, almost $120,000 taxpayer funds in 2014. A recently passed state law diverted $10 million from the state’s public system to student vouchers at schools like Freedom Christian that operate with no accountability or oversight and are exempt from financial accountability, ethics oversight, and academic reporting standards which are required of public schools. Many of these schools have no certified teachers on staff, and at least 74 percent do not follow state curriculum mandates. They also collect taxpayer funds for schools who are taught at home rather than at school.

Mike Huckabee, the GOP presidential candidate who earlier slammed President Obama for letting their daughters listen to Beyoncé, praised Josh Duggar for his apology and said that his life as an adult “is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility.” Today, Huckabee told Chris Wallace on the Fox network that the president of the United States should not be required to follow a Supreme Court ruling that legalizes marriage equality. Wallace pointed out that the country has obeyed court rulings since the 1803 Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803) which formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review under Article III of the Constitution.. Huckabee answered that the president must follow the “Supreme Being” and not the Supreme Court.

Huckabee may be surprised by the negative response he has received on his Facebook page regarding his protection of Josh Duggar. Instead of praising him, they have erupted with criticisms. Responses can be found here. These comments reflect how conservatives are disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Duggars and those who defend Josh’s criminal actions. His behavior was horrendous, but the actions of those who try to protect him are far worse. Josh Duggar committed a crime, not a sin, and adults who tried to cover up for him are also committing crimes.

May 9, 2014

Campus Rape a Serious Problem

Three University of Oregon basketball players–Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis, and Brandon Austin—won’t be charged for alleged sexual assaults in March, because ”the crimes cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Patty Perlow in Lane County. The victim said that the three males raped her repeatedly.  Dotson had been suspended from a game earlier this season after trying to use a fake ID to get into a bar, and Artis was out of  the first nine games of the season for selling team-issued shoes in violation of NCAA rules. Austin transferred to UO from Providence College (Rhode Island) after suspension following allegations of sexual assault.

This is another ugly chapter in sexual assault on college campuses across the country. U.S. politicians promote a culture of rape through their laws that concern themselves with a definition of “forcible rape” or refer to a pregnancy caused by rape as a “gift from God” or biologically impossible from “legitimate rape.”

UO officials haven’t explained why they didn’t immediately begin investigation into the March 9 assault when they were alerted, as mandated by federal law. The campus was not notified about the assault, as UO has done in cases not related to athletes, and the report does not appear on the UO police crime log. Eugene police notified UO of its completed investigation on April 8, but university officials did nothing until April 24, well after the three accused basketball players were able to play in the NCAA tournament. The vice-president of student affairs is now blaming criticism from the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence’s for deterring the students from coming forward.

This is part of a pattern across the country, but students are starting to fight back, filing Title IX, Title II, and Clery complaints against a number of universities. The Clery Act, named for Jeanne Clery who was raped and murdered in her dorm room by a fellow student, requires higher institutions of learning to report crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, and use of a date rape drug.

The federal government has released the names of  55 colleges and universities that they are investigating for  mishandling of sexual abuse complaints. One of these is the University of Southern California that classifies sexual assaults on campus as “injury response” so that they don’t have to report attacks to the LA Police Department. A year ago, USC campus police told Ariella Mostov, who filed a sexual assault report, that she had not been raped because her attacker did not orgasm. They explained, “Even though his penis penetrated your vagina, because he stopped, it was not a crime.”

Two Republican and 10 Democratic members of Congress have requested that the US News & World Report college ranking report include a rating for the handling of sexual assault on campus. Critics claim that such action would further underreporting of this crime and shaming of victims to keep them quiet. Twenty percent of women experience sexual assault while in college, and six percent of men have the same experience. The victims know 90 percent of their rape perpetrators. One study, however, found that 95 percent of college sexual assaults are unreported. Only 20 to 25 percent of men found guilty of sexual assault are expelled from college. Their punishment might be writing a research paper.

Studies indicate that colleges reporting a low level of campus rape are those that discourage victims from reporting. These campuses are likely to have rapists continuing to offend. In contrast, victims are taken more seriously and rapists face real consequences at schools with relatively high numbers of reported rapes. A study by Safer and V-Day found that almost one-third of schools surveyed don’t meet even the minimum reporting standards of the Clery Act such as anonymous reporting, transparent and just judicial hearings, prevention programs, and definitions of “sexual misconduct” requiring students to practice affirmative consent.

A reason for concealing sexual assault at colleges is the search for funding. Higher education relies on private money, and institutions count on good public perception to make money. Private donors and businesses have less interest in funding schools with problems of violence. Much of the money comes through the jock culture that encourages sexism and violence, and college sports programs frequently use women to attract athletes.

At the same time that a group of women are suing the University of Connecticut because of their failure to follow Title IX, the state legislature has passed a bill against campus sexual assault. Requirements for all state colleges and universities:

  • Immediately provide concise, written notification to each sexual assault victim regarding their rights and options under the school’s policies following an assault.
  • Accept anonymous reporting of sexual assaults.
  • Enter into a “memorandum of understanding” with at least one community-based sexual assault crisis center and one community-based domestic violence agency to make sure sexual assault victims can access free and confidential counseling and services on or off-campus.
  • Create a campus resource team to review school policies to make recommendations for services to students and employees who report being sexually assaulted.
  • Provide more prevention programs, with an emphasis on encouraging bystanders to intervene.

Gov. Daniel P. Malloy has not yet said if he will sign the bill, but it passed unanimously in the state Senate.

Testifying against a rapist is a horrifying experience for the victim of sexual assault. A common attitude in the country was demonstrated by a contractor’s tweet on Mass.gov: “Sexual assault is always avoidable.” Criticism caused Gov. Deval Patrick to call the tweet a “dumb mistake” and have it taken down. The sentiment, however, remains: a victim of sexual assault should be sober, dressed conservatively, and stay out of “dangerous” places. Society advises women to protect themselves from rape by not drinking, but nothing is ever said about men avoiding alcohol so that they don’t rape others.

Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University junior, was raped by another student, but the man, accused by two other students of sexual assault, avoided any sanction. Harvard officials failed to act after a male student raped a young woman living in the same dormitory. Kimberly Theidon, an anthropology professor at Harvard, claims that she was denied tenure because she spoke out against sexual violence on campus and supported women who came forward with allegations.

Wagatwe Wanjuki filed a complaint at Tufts University in 2008 after two years of rape and abuse by an ex-partner, also a Tufts student, but the only action that the university was to expel her. She and another victim of sexual assault at Tufts had published a telephone number with this information: “We think rape is bad. We will help you. Call these numbers if you’re raped.” Expulsion for rape victims who insist on justice is not uncommon.

Wanjuki was awarded some justice six years later when the Education Department found Tufts to be in violation of Title IX, writing that the school has mishandled complaints of sexual assault and harassment. It has the option to terminate federal funding for the school, yet Tufts refuses to follow Title IX law. Wanjuki is now an organizer with Know Your IX, a group to educate students about their rights under Title IX.

At the end of April, the White House released a report from its Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The goals are identification of the scope of the problem, prevention, and improvement of responses of universities and the federal government. Instead of using statistics about occurrences, the report suggests a “climate survey” to find students’ awareness of and attitudes toward sexual assault on campus. The problem with this approach is how to detach it from the college’s profit motives.

Title IX can be a useful tool to combat the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. NotAlone.gov provides information about protections for students under this federal law. A 52-page document from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights provides additional information. Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand and some of her colleagues propose a database of all Title IX and Clery Act violations. Other ideas to increase students’ protection from sexual assault:

  • Colleges themselves must be held responsible for changing their culture of rape.
  • Students found guilty of sexual assault must, at the least, be expelled.
  • Students must have access to mental healthcare, safe housing, and rape kits that are actually processed.
  • The Education Department can withhold federal funding from a school that doesn’t comply with the law.

The University of Oregon is just one of many campuses that can be part of the problem or part of the solution. The university’s president said today that the three accused players will never play for the Ducks again.  University President Michael Gottfredson also said the university is appointing an independent panel to take a closer look at sexual violence and harassment on campus as well as recruiting practices at the university.

On another note, Oregon men’s basketball head coach Dana Altman said, “I am very disappointed in the three young men.” Just “disappointed”?

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