How do we stop rape? Can we? What would it take? And how do we start? We start by changing how we treat the crime of rape. And we have to change the way we treat rapists. It is time to have an all out “war” against rape and rapists. And the most disgusting, despicable crime of rape must be met with the strongest, most stringent punishments we can deliver. Which is why the rape of any of our military personnel must be classified as treason and those convicted court-martialed and imprisoned for life. No parole, no plea bargains. If you are convicted of rape of our military personnel you are guilty of treason, and you go directly to jail. And any accusation of rape must be investigated by an Independent Council, outside of military jurisdiction, separate and accountable only to the Justice Department, not the military itself.
Actually, I’d like to classify all rape as treason. Because rape is truly an act of terrorism and should be treated as such. But that will take a real outcry from the public, to start I think we can at least insist that the rape of our military members be treated as treason.
We have to appoint an Independent Counsel and insist on an investigation of these crimes in our military, and we need to get for-profit private contractors out of our military. We need an overhaul of the whole system, and the only way that happens is with strict oversight and objectivity. Why are we paying billions to outside contractors while some of our military is on food stamps? How is that patriotic? What role might that have in these attacks on our service members? Why are women and men being raped and no one is being convicted? It is really unbelievable.
Every single American should be outraged at this, our service women and men are being raped, beaten and dying, not at the hands of our enemies, but allegedly at the hands of private contractors and even by others in our military. Some are killing themselves. We have seen the stories in the past few weeks, that those in charge of battling sexual assault are guilty of it, now what are we going to do about it?
Culturally, we are all shocked and disgusted when the news headlines were focused on the recent rapes in India, but why aren’t our headlines filled with the accusations of women and men in our own military? Why is that being ignored? Why aren’t we investigating Halliburton and its one time subsidiary KBR? There are several allegations against this company that has made billions during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The list of alleged crimes by these two includes various crimes, from rape to selling shoddy waters systems that led to the injury of our troops, these profiteering private contractors have taken our tax dollars and may be getting away with murder.
I say it is time to stop it once and for all.
Once case in particular has been brought to my attention. Every day I receive emails, posts and messages from people asking me to read their stories. This one was sent to me about a year ago, and ever since it has haunted me. Army Private First Class LaVena Johnson was a beautiful young woman, now she is dead and the facts surrounding her death are particularly disturbing. Why have there been no arrests? Just this opening from an interview on Democracy Now! Raises so many questions:
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Army Private First Class LaVena Johnson would have turned twenty-three this month, but three years ago the African American teenager from Missouri was found dead in Balad, Iraq, just a few weeks short of her twentieth birthday.
Her body was found in a tent belonging to the private military contractor Kellogg Brown & Root. She had abrasions all over her body, a broken nose, a black eye, burned hands, loose teeth, acid burns on her genitals, a bullet hole in her head. The Army labeled LaVena Johnson’s death a suicide. They told her parents she died of "self-inflicted, non-combat injuries."
But her parents never believed that story. They think she was raped and murdered and that the Army’s investigators ignored physical evidence that would have proved this. The Johnsons are now demanding a full congressional investigation into their daughter’s death.
We invited the military to come on the show; they declined. The Criminal Investigation Command told us that "facts are facts." They stand by their investigation that concluded LaVena Johnson’s death a suicide.
It is time to make this a Federal case. It is time to insist our women and men are protected and respected. It is time to insist that crimes against our troops are punished and to call it what it is, treason.
Join me in calling on Congress to insist on Congressional Hearings and an investigation into these crimes. This is about protecting our military from predators from within, if the Taliban or other terror group were raping our men and women in uniform it would be considered a war crime, so why when it is American private contractors or our own military personnel is it being ignored?
Here are some suggestions on who to contact, please email, fax and call these members of Congress. Please post your call or contact and write a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper.
Thomas R. Carper, Chairman, D-DE
Dr. Tom Coburn, Ranking Member, R-OK
Carl Levin, D-MI
Mark L. Pryor, D-AR
Mary L. Landrieu, D-LA
Claire McCaskill, D-MO
Jon Tester, D-MT
Mark Begich, D-AK
Tammy Baldwin, D-WI
Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND
John McCain, R-AZ
Ron Johnson, R-WI
Rob Portman, R-OH
Rand Paul, R-KY
Michael B. Enzi, R-WY
Kelly Ayotte, R-NH
Frank R. Lautenberg, Chairman, D-NJ
Richard J. Durbin, D-IL
Tom Udall, D-NM
Mike Johanns, Ranking Member, R-NE
Jerry Moran, R-KS
John Mica, Chairman, R-FL
Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, Ranking Member, D-VA
Mark Meadows, Vice Chair, R-NC
Michael Turner, R-OH
Thomas Massie, R-KY
Jim Cooper, D-TN
Mark Pocan, D-WI
Ander Crenshaw, Chairman, R-FL
José E. Serrano, Ranking Member, D-NY
Jo Bonner, R-AL
Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL
Tom Graves, R-GA
Kevin W. Yoder, R-KS
Steve Womack, R-AR
Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA
Mike Quigley, D-IL
Marcy Kaptur, D-OH
Ed Pastor, D-AZ
I attended a family wedding this past weekend. It was great to see family we haven’t seen in a while, but I have to admit, I continue to be perplexed by this whole concept of marriage. Why do people do it? The money, the angst, the stress. The endless planning and painful spending, what does it all mean?
It seems to me that marriage as an institution has questionable usefulness to society, and as I have written before, aren’t all marriages performed outside of a religious sacrament really just civil unions? Simple legal agreements between two people to honor each other for better or worse, through sickness and health, until death do you part? I don’t get it, but I guess it doesn’t really matter if I do or not.
And hold on, before you jump on me for being a cynic. It isn’t like I am saying I don’t understand love. Love is a many splendored thing, I get it. But marriage and forever commitment? Well, it seems to me that when you use the same word to describe entering a relationship as you do for entering a mental institution there might be something to be concerned about.
As someone who has never been married, refused to get married and who has no desire to get married, I cannot understand the need of two adults to dress up and stand up in front of witnesses and promise to stay together forever and ever. I mean really, it doesn’t seem like it is any of my business what two consenting adults want to do with the rest of their lives. And I am a bit beyond believing in happily ever after.
But like I said, what two consenting adults do is not my business. Which is why I guess I feel pretty strongly that if gay couples want to get married they absolutely have that right. No one has the right to bar two consenting adults from entering into a committed relationship, or legally binding contract, or marriage or whatever you want to call it. And we decided many years ago that in this country we don’t discriminate based upon race, age or sex. So why should any state have the right to stop two consenting adults from entering into a legal contract of commitment? Or in conservative speak, a marriage?
I mean, let’s think about this, most state houses that are blocking gay marriage are using the one man and one woman argument, which is really a religious argument, and if I remember my high school Civics, that argument is barred from our government pretty clearly. So why are we allowing this blatant discrimination? And the new procreation argument? Pure hogwash. That is not a legal argument. Marriage is not about procreation. I know plenty of childless couples. Are we going to force annulments on all of them?
What really confuses me is the constant crowing of conservative groups that somehow marriage equality is going to cause inequality. Or beastiality. Or polygamy. Really? How is that even a rational thought? I mean, its not like these same groups are ignoring any other basic logical realities, no, of course not. They are totally supportive of a sane, reasonable slate of policies based upon their constant affirmation of a total and absolute conviction and belief that we must uphold and protect every aspect of our Constitution, just as the Founding Fathers intended. Oh wait, that can’t be right.
What about immigration? Conservatives are all for the same immigration policy as the Founders, right? No, they are not. Nor do they agree with them on taxation, religion in politics, education, the postal system, libraries, or basic civil liberties. To name a few.
Wait, but they believe in the Founding Fathers and the Constitution don’t they? Well, sort of. Sometimes. That is, they do until it isn’t convenient to their particular ideology. Like for example, when it comes to equality. Suddenly when two men or two women want to marry they certainly aren’t equal to the one man and one woman theory of marriage equality. And they have no problem infringing on what two consenting adults agree to do or what a woman wants to do with her body.
And it doesn’t stop there. There are lots of other Constitutional provisions conservatives love to hate.
Who was it screaming loudest to forget all that Constitutional hooey and charge a US citizen on US soil as an “enemy combatant”? Who is it that keeps carping we should forget about due process and all those other pesky protections our patriarchal politicians professed would protect us from tyrants and taxation without representation?
I have to say it is quite confusing to this simple liberal voter. I believe we should read our Constitution with a mind to the intent and context of when it was written and that we were meant to interpret it given our current context. This activist isn’t a fan of activist judicial interpretation that seems to taint the tenor of this testament to the Founders faith in our shared future.
And there it is. Faith. Could it be that is the problem I have with marriage? I guess that is what marriage is really about. And why I don’t get it. I am too locked into logic and reason to take a leap of faith into forever, like that literal leap across the broom of olden days. And I can’t see the sense in a sacrament that is blatantly biased.
Any contract that has at its essence an invalid clause is in and of itself invalid. So to me, every marriage is invalid as long as two adults are barred from marriage. It is an immoral clause, and a moral cause.
And one we all need to fight. In sickness and in health, for better and for worse. Until death do us part.
When I was growing up the leaders in our community were the local politicians, the Mayor, and the bankers. I can remember how my Grandfather, who was President of School Board, and his brother, the Mayor, and his other brother, the Chief of the Fire Department, would talk with their other brothers, one owned a deli and the other was a florist.
They respected the local bankers, they were the pillars of our community, and we all waited for All Savings Day, to see what the annual interest rates were going to be. No one questioned how the rates were set. Bankers were like Priests. They were above cheating, lying and stealing. Or so we thought.
Now we find out that bankers have been cheating us all on a global scale, and those too big to fail market makers have taken us all for fools, and taken our retirement savings along with our trust.
How did we get here? When did it become normal for greed and treachery to take over one of our most sacred institutions? I mean, it is a simple system. We give our money to the bank, and we trust them to care for it in our absence. To lend it to others who need it to start a business or buy a house.
What we never expected was that our trusted banker was in turn being played by unscrupulous greedy scam artists in international banking.
Here is how this scam worked: banks set what is called the “overnight rate”. Every day multi-national corporations with millions in excess cash, lend it to the banks. The banks in turn lend it to other businesses who need to make payroll and other expense payments. The lender earns and the borrower pays. The bank makes the deal making the difference. Sweet right? The bank basically making money for transferring funds.
In the US, this rate was based on the Prime Rate, or Prime Lending Rate, published daily. This rate is in turn impacted by international rates, like the LIBOR rate. Which is set by international bankers.
Now, we all know the market makers at Goldman Sachs and other investment banks are making millions on hedge fund management, which is basically making money for them with your money on hedged bets. And then those market makers got greedy and started to pillage client accounts, just blatantly packaging bad investments with good and using a little scam to cook the books to make themselves millions but cost most of us billions in lost earnings, homes and investments.
And that was unbelievable enough. I mean really, bankers scamming clients? It was unthinkable. Most of us in finance still can’t believe that there have not been mass arrests. Or that Goldman Sachs is still allowed to operate. And not only that, they are allowed to control a good deal of the wealth of this country, despite saying dangerously loud and terrifying up close to Congress that they had no fiduciary duty to their clients.
What? No fiduciary duty? None? Really? You take money from a client. That client pays you to manage that money, and you claimed no fiduciary duty. And you got away with that? Inconceivable.
At least to anyone in finance with a conscience it is. Or should be.
This was hammered to us in college. As an accounting major I had classes in Finance, Economics, Law, Tax and, of course, Accounting. Every one of my Professors reminded us again and again, that our fiduciary duty to our clients was above all else, what had to guide our decisions. That we should never forget the trust our clients had invested in us when they entrusted us with their investments.
And to this day, I hold that belief. My job is to safeguard and protect my clients. Always. It is unthinkable to me that I would ever take their money illegally or knowingly give them bad advice. It would be a repudiation of everything I believe as a Finance professional.
It is why I was thoroughly disgusted by Goldman Sachs during the hearings. Those self-proclaimed “market makers” sat there in front of Congress and all those news cameras and told the biggest lie I have ever heard, that they had no fiduciary duty to their clients.
Now, unless you are a Finance professional, this may not mean a whole lot to you, but let me tell you, to those of us who are entrusted by our clients with the care and protection of their assets, it means quite a bit.
For me to even consider taking one penny from a client is totally and absolutely unthinkable. But those market makers at Goldman Sachs pillaged and took advantage of clients for billions with nary a thought of responsibility or ethics. And now we hear that the fraud is going on at a global level. And believe me folks, you want to pay attention, this is costing our economy trillions.
Let’s look at a simple example, say Corporation ABC has $10,000,000.00 in excess cash at the end of the day. They agree to allow Bank DBA to sweep the funds and loan them to Corporation XYS. ABC will earn 2%, XYS will pay 2.5%, the bank will make the difference, .5%.
But now, the twist is this, Bank DBA has colluded with other banks to set that rate, in actuality the lending rate was reasonably set at 2% but the borrowing rate was really only 2.25%, a difference of .25% or $25,000. So the bankers basically rigged that rate to give themselves a little bonus pay.
You don’t think this is a big deal? Okay. Let’s imagine that each night on a global scale perhaps $1 billion is put into the overnight lending sweep. That would mean that in one day banks scammed $2,500,000 in additional interest fees, annually that comes to $912,500,000.
You still aren’t sure it is a big deal? Well, $1 billion is a conservative estimate. And who do you think is really paying for the near $1 trillion dollars that is annually pulled from our economy in this example?
Think about it this way, for every product you purchase you are paying this interest for the banks. Forget the deficit, that is nothing compared to this. For every dollar you spend, you are paying for the greed and corruption in our banking system. It is beyond despicable, it is destroying our economy.
It is time to stop allowing bad bankers and mad men to tell us fairy tales about how the deficit is ruining our country but the banks are too big to fail. The problem isn’t paying teachers a fair wage or providing pensions and health care to them and our police, the problem is greedy bankers sucking our money from our banks into their offshore tax havens.
The problem is politicians saying stupid things and refusing to prosecute corruption.
The problem is voters who would rather vote for an Idol, and who can’t be bothered to vote in an election.
The problem is we allow those market makers to continue to steal our money even today.
We are not powerless. We are not victims. It is our money. It is our government. Take it back. Just take it all back. Don’t use one of those too big to fail banks. Don’t use their credit cards. Just start there. Move your money. Cut up that credit card. Find a local bank, or even better, credit union. Ask questions, what are they invested in? How do they set their lending rate? What are their values?
Values? Why should you ask a bank about their values? Because values matter. Your values. My values. Our collective values. That is what defines us. That is what makes us great.
And that is what differentiates us from bad bankers and mad men. Our values.
What are yours? Define them, then live them.
How many times have we all seen the tragic video of the Hindenburg crashing? Herbert Morrison, a radio announcer, said those words as he wept to think of those who died in the crash. And in this last week, I have wept at the loss of life, but also for what I saw as a loss of our collective humanity.
As I watched to coverage of the bombing in Boston, the explosion in Texas and the different reactions to the two events, I found myself wondering, “What has happened to our humanity?”
After the capture of the 2nd suspect, the images of people celebrating this “victory” as if their team had just scored a home run. I had to turn away, because at no time could I celebrate any part of what happened in Boston. I heard words like “jubilation” and “success” being used, and it made me angry, how could anyone use words like that about any part of the unspeakable destruction and death we witnessed this week?
It seems as if even our tragedies are now reason to celebrate.
I felt sick, and found myself concerned for how this 2nd suspect would be treated. Would he be recognized as a US citizen? It would seem this would be the 1st test of the “indefinite detention” clause of the NDAA. There are calls to treat him as an enemy combatant. Would our President invoke what I had said for a year now was a non-existent clause of the NDAA? From what I am reading, no he will not, proving to me at least, once and for all, there is no such thing as indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil. We would not give up civil liberty for retribution, and I was relieved to hear it. Once again our President is earning my respect by doing not what is easy or popular, but what is ethical, moral and by definition, part of our way of life.
Yes, what the two suspects did was evil and yes I want this captured suspect punished, but not tortured, not beaten, and certainly not killed. He is a US citizen, and unless he is found to be a traitor, he is entitled to the full protection and due process of our Constitution, and so far, I am relieved to hear that despite the heinousness of the crime he is accused of committing, he will be tried in a Court of Law.
But as I watched Boston unfold, I also had to stop and watch a town in Texas lose almost everything. 14 dead, hundreds wounded and many others lost everything in this blast.
Is this any less an act of terror? Those poor people had no idea that Texas had so under-funded safety and regulatory departments that this corporate person was a ticking time bomb. Greed, indifference and that all-mighty mantra of “small government, less taxes” led Texas to allow an unsafe and dangerous, potentially explosive operation, to continue until it literally exploded.
Where is the outrage? Where are the calls for arrests? Why aren’t people up in arms calling for retribution against this corporate person? Conservatives were so keen on making sure corporations were deemed “persons” and entitled to free speech, well guess what, since they are “persons” they can be arrested, convicted and punished.
Doesn’t Texas lead the nation in death penalty convictions? Well then, let’s start there by executing corporations that kill people. Take away their charter, confiscate their assets. Ensure that the public is protected from such predators.
We have to stop seeing some deaths as more worthy of our outrage than others. Being murdered by madmen or terrorists is not more horrible than being murdered by greed and political dogma.
And we have to begin the process of truly understanding we reap what we sow. We have to stop using and advocating violence as a means to our end, or it really will be our end.
We have to understand and speak out against the policy and use of drones in Afghanistan. We have to be better than that. As a parent I say all the time, we have to model the behavior we want our children to adopt, this is the same thing. If we want the violence to stop, we have to stop being violent.
I am sad for everyone who died this week. Those who died in Boston, and those who died in Texas. But also for the child who died of hunger in Africa. Or the young woman who was beaten to death as a sex slave. I am sorry for everyone who died from cancer or other disease. I am sorry for those of died from neglect, and those who died due to greed and indifference. I am sorry for the child who was bullied and felt there was no other way out than death, and I am sorry for the many who kill themselves out of desperation. I am sorry for all those who died of natural causes. But I am outraged for those who died of unnatural causes.
My heart aches for the families and victims of everyone in Boston, in Texas and around the world. But I have to wonder, what has happened to our humanity, that we can see a town leveled, and not be outraged? Or that there could be any feeling of “jubilation” in Boston? All I can feel is a profound sadness and confusion.
Has our humanity left the room?
What is the difference between those who died in Boston and those who died in Texas? Only one, people are celebrating the arrest of the murderer in Boston.
One part of me is worried I won't be able to sleep tonight, and another part of me is afraid to go to sleep. Afraid of nightmares, afraid I'll wake up to even worse news.
And there is another part of me that is just so angry. I cannot grasp this kind of terror attack. Or any terror attack. And it makes me realize, when I saw another post earlier, even though it was incorrectly saying that the US killed 30 civilians in a bombing today, but in fact that bombing did not happen today in Afghanistan, there was not a bombing at a wedding today that killed 30 people. But it did happen, just in 2002, not today.
We are still bombing Afghanistan. Why? Why are we still bombing Afghanistan?
Will it come out that this was a foreign terror group? Or domestic? What is the goal of such unspeakable evil? Terror right? Just instill fear? But that isn't what happens is it. It instills rage and instigates more violence. So does it matter if it is foreign or domestic terror group? Maybe. Maybe not.
If foreign, what is the motivation? What could be the possible goal of such an act? What has terrorism accomplished?
I think we need to remember the real reason bin laden was "determined to attack the US", because we have 30,000 troops in Saudi Arabia, protecting and propping up the vile House of Saud, for oil. And that is why we are in Afghanistan, to eradicate terror. To make sure it never happens again that the US is attacked by terrorists. Except we are. And does it matter? Why we originally went there? That our purpose was clear? The we were "right". Does that matter? Besides, we can't really claim moral superiority anymore can we? That seems to have gotten lost, and the US continuing to bomb and use drones, well, it seems like we lost whatever moral high ground we had.
And if it was domestic we can try to determine what hate motivated that kind of evil. But really people, if it comes out that this US citizen is being detained on US soil, are you going to complain? Because this is exactly the exception our Constitution sets out, treason. If you plot death and destruction of US citizens, its interests or its government you give up your protection of due process, you are a traitor.
But that brings me full circle, to the old saying, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. Are we all blind? Have we ceased to be able to see the truth? What the hell is wrong with the world? And how do we stop it?
I wrote the title to this blog on Saturday, it just popped in my head. And then I had no idea what to write. I am sad to say, now I have too many ideas.
I think most people will understand this metaphor; picture a cake, a beautiful layer cake. Any kind you want. Cut it into equal portions. Let’s say you cut nice generous pieces, and the cake provides 8 slices of cake to share, and since there are 8 people wanting a slice, that is perfect. Now, since you are not a machine, odds are those slices are not perfectly equal, which is fine, some people may want slightly less, and other slightly more. Perfect right?
But now imagine that one person takes 6 slices and says that the other 6 people in the group have to share just 2 slices. Suddenly that cake is now a scarce resource for 6/8, or 75% of the group.
Money is no different from cake. Money is a finite resource, and yes, I know how the Federal Reserve works, how they print money and how they impact financial markets. But even given all that, money is not very different from cake.
When you give the bulk of a resource to one group that makes up a small percentage of the total population, there is less for everyone else. So, think of tax policy as the way you slice the cake. Do you try to make the slices about the same size, or are you purposefully making some slices huge and others very small? When we allow huge tax-free transactions for the few, it is basically shoveling cake into one group and giving the rest of the population crumbs.
Here is an example, minimum wage. How can anyone, anywhere, justify paying someone $7.25 and expect them to be able to pay for food, shelter and other necessities? And since they can’t obtain the basic necessities on $7.25 per hour, we then as a society have decided to provide assistance, so really, isn’t this just a form of corporate subsidy? We pay what the corporations don’t?
We have socialized the cost of doing business. Why? Don’t these companies make big profits? I mean, they seem to, and yet they don’t pay any tax, or pay very little. How is that possible? The answer is in how they pay their executives; they create losses, not profits, for tax purposes. How do they do this? They pay a few key people at the top huge salaries and benefits, expenses and bonuses, and deduct it all. All subsidized by taxpayers, and it is a huge entitlement.
Think about this. A CEO who makes $25,000,000 per year is making over $480,000 per week.
That is $12,019.23 per hour.
The person making minimum wage makes $15,080.00 per year.
Do you see the problem?
This issue is compounded by the Social Security wage base, which limits the amount of wages from which we deduct and fund Social Security. Do you know what the wage base is? Do you know how much you pay per year? The Social Security wage base for 2013 is $113,100? Why? And why only on wages? Why are we not including passive income? Why don’t legislators pay?
There are lots of questions we need to ask. We have to look at the whole policy, not just slices of it.
So I suggest we fix two problems with one solution. Limit the amount of corporate salary that can be deducted for tax purposes to the amount included in the Social Security wage base and tax the excess as a dividend.
Wow. That CEO making $25,000,000? His total Social Security deducted from his pay and matched by his employer is about $7,000. And the other $24,886,000.000 is not taxed at all for Social Security, if we did include this entire amount we would collect an additional $1,542,987.00 in Social Security. From just that one CEO, and that does not include the corporate income tax, state income tax, and other taxes that would be due. And think about this, that one CEO still has just under $22,000,000.00, versus the minimum wage worker who many not make that much in his or her lifetime.
People, we do not have a spending problem. We do have an entitlement problem; it is a corporate entitlement problem. It is not the amount we are paying out, it is the amount we are not taking in.
So let’s change the conversation, contact your legislators and tell them, it is time for true entitlement reform. It is time for a real balanced budget. It is time to understand the game that is being played with our money.
And if you are ready for real change, sign the petition at: http://signon.org/sign/true-entitlement-reform-1
Is it really necessary to say this? Of course women can “have it all”. Why shouldn’t they? Just asking implies that women can’t have it all, but men can. And that is ridiculous. Despite the new wave of new women executives, like Sandberg at Facebook and the new CEO at Yahoo, many of us are managing to have both family and career quite well. We just don’t define it on the same old, traditionally male terms; “9 to 5, white shirt, blue suit, golf at the club and drinks at 5” type success.
We are the women who are redefining success and having it on our terms. We may wear suits, we may not. Some of us have an office, some of us work at home. We work 40 hours, or 60 hours, or 30 hours. We have health insurance, or maybe we don’t. We take our kids to work, we have nannies, some of us have personal assistants, and we struggle to find quality child care. We love to cook and we rely on take-out to supplement when we are just too tired, or simply too busy, to bother.
We deal with the judgment and jealousy that is endemic, we love our friends who support us, the ones who call us to pick up their child because they had to work late and the ones who call us to come over for a glass of wine because they were home all day with their children and they need some adult conversation. We hope we are good mothers, good employees, good business owners, and simply good people.
We are as protective of our children as we are of our free time, and we have no tolerance for those who bully the first or waste the second. We don’t suffer fools gladly, and we aren’t blandly accepting the things we cannot change. We are changing the things we cannot accept.
Redefining success means redefining our roles. And being more vocal about what is, and what is not, acceptable. In order to have it all, we need to have some agreed upon parameters, some common standards and maybe a few uncommon ones too. And we need to expose bad behavior, and that includes in our homes, in our schools and in our society.
“Having it all” is not just about what I have, I see it in a much larger context. I see a direct correlation between the willfully ignorant refusal to acknowledge that child and slave labor exist and are making those designer label jeans or shoes and the willfully ignorant refusal to accept that paying for fossil fuels is silly, to the willfully ignorant acceptance of bullying as “normal” and lack of gun control as Constitutional. It all defies logic. Once you start to accept the unacceptable as plausible, you are halfway down the slippery slope to ignoring reality and facts to create an alternative version of having it all.
I believe this policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” trickles down to our children. At least something is trickling down right? They are constantly assaulted with ads for billion dollar companies, and stories about celebrities making millions while many of them are seeing parents lose jobs, lose homes and lose hope. Telling them in so many ways, they can’t have it all. They won’t have it all. And if they do get it all they will be very mean and angry.
Actually, they may already be angry. They are definitely confused. The messages they are getting are totally contradicting each other. Be good, but laugh at bad behavior. Be strong, but laugh at weakness. Hate slavery, but ignore that the clothes you buy and food you eat may be made by people who are treated like slaves. Be responsible, but support companies that are totally irresponsible.
What does this do to our children? What message does it send? How do they define “having it all”?
Well, many of them become mean. It is all over the news, the prevalence of teen on teen bullying. Children using Twitter as a platform to parade their meanness. They tweet vile things to and about each other, and they spread with the same virility and destruction of a wildfire, while their parents wonder why and how their “kids” became so mean. (But just hang on a sec honey, I don’t want to miss this next show. I’ve just got to watch the latest celebrity reality show judge shred the contestants verbally).
The message is constant, and no longer subtle. Mean is funny. Mean is cool. Mean is powerful. Having it all has become hating everyone.
It is not. And it is unacceptable. And there are a few things we can do to combat it. We can start by turning off reality TV. We can refuse to accept that being mean is an acceptable form of entertainment.
Now doesn’t that feel better?
Next, rethink consumerism. Take the time to check out the companies that want your money. Are they fair trade? Union? Do they manufacture in the USA? Are they using quality and safe materials? Paying a living wage? Offering their employees health care and other benefits? By supporting companies that use child and slave labor, make no mistake, you personally ARE supporting child and slave labor. And yes, that makes you personally responsible.
My equality is not an isolated thing, it depends on equality for all. And isn’t that the epitome of having it all? Why do we accept this bad behavior? Why do we accept this myth that we have to accept bad behavior in teens? That it is “normal”? It is not. And this is not the only way we allow our delusions to get in our way of having it all.
One BIG myth we have all accepted to excuse ignoring child and slave labor: manufacturing in the USA will cause products to be more expensive, companies are forced to “leave” because of regulation and taxes. Because evidently we want to have it all, just at discount prices.
The thing is, this is absolutely FALSE! Nike moved to Mexico several years ago. Are your sneakers any cheaper? Nope. Because this myth of cheap labor and less regulation has NOTHING to do with the price of your sneakers. Here are the factors that have made those sneakers cost $200:
- It is the CEO who “needs” to make millions.
- It is the head of the advertising agency who “needs” to make millions.
- It is the celebrity who endorses them and “needs” to make millions.
- It is the sports team who pays the celebrity who endorses them who “need” to make millions.
- It is the lobbyists being paid millions to push through legislation to ensure that all those millions paid are fully tax-deductible, fully subsidized entitlements that you the taxpayer pay for.
That is the problem, not the workers who make $30, or if they are lucky and in a union, might make $50 per hour. Pensions for workers are not the problem. Health care for workers is not the problem. Teachers, firefighters, police officers and our seniors are not the problem. It is the lobbyists and CEO’s who are making $10,000 to $15,000 per hour who are the problem.
But I digress.
Can we have it all?
I say yes we can. But first, we have to be willing to stop being willfully ignorant. And willing to step up and live our lives so that our having it all doesn’t mean taking it all from those without anything at all.
I was raped. I didn’t tell anyone. I was 13. A freshman in high school. It was my first High School party. And the first time I really had a drink. I remember playing quarters. And then I remember waking up and two guys had me in bed, one of them with his fingers inside me.
I was scared. Confused. Ashamed.
There was no one I could tell. Nothing I could do. We didn’t have the internet. Or cell phones. And there was no one I could tell. What would I say?
It was just a party. And I wanted to be there. I thought I was so special, the only freshman invited.
If I had known. If anyone had been able to help me. So much might have been different.
But here we are. It is 2013. I’ve moved on I think. Created my life. Found my way. And yet this one thing stays with me.
I was raped.
One of those boys died a few years after he assaulted me. Karma found him one night while he was driving drunk. I don’t know where the other boy is, now a man. I don’t think it matters.
What does matter is I was raped. And I couldn’t tell anyone.
Has anything really changed?
I am proud of the girls who come forward. Because I know, if it happened to me, 35 years ago, Steubenville isn’t the first, or even unique. How many girls have been silent like me?
I was absolutely shamed. Sure it was my fault. Even though I was a child. Insecure. Unsure. Inexperienced.
I was raped.
I decided to tell you this now, because I can no longer be silent. No longer in denial. It feels like I am, well, somehow complicit. I know I am not. But this is how it feels.
I am a mother now. And I won’t be silent. I won’t let my daughter grow up this way. I moved on, not without difficulty. But I am moving on.
This is our culture. There are girls everywhere getting raped, wondering like I did, what did I do? Why did this happen? What is wrong with me?
And I am finally saying, there is nothing wrong with me.
I was raped.
Some religions claim we are all born with “original sin” staining our soul. There are days I agree with the sentiment but not for the same sanctimonious reason most religions give. I have my own theory.
I just heard the news that two teenagers in Ohio were found guilty of raping a 16 year old girl who was unconscious. And I feel the weight of their sin on my soul, or what I consider my consciousness. I have a 16 year old, and I cannot imagine the anger, sadness, confusion, loss and violation that this young woman and her parents are enduring. I could say the same for the boys, but I honestly can’t care much about what they are feeling. I am sad for their parents and families, and I cannot imagine how a family can ever recover from this type of tragedy. But for the two boys, I have no sympathy.
Even as I write those words, I realize they are not absolutely true. My heart breaks for them too. They ruined their lives, and for what? Why? By what standard did they think that what they did was okay? I have seen and heard some of the video, of one boy saying he wouldn’t care if that was his daughter, and it made me physically sick to hear it.
Is this the society we have created? One where boys are so callous as to joke about their own daughter being raped and killed? How the hell did we allow this to happen? How did we allow even one boy to be brought up to think this was okay?
And I can’t help but think that we allow so many violations, every day. The vicious reality TV shows. The disparaging attacks on our politicians. The lies, innuendo and invective that flow from certain TV talking heads and their sponsors. We have politicians who are legislating that women must undergo a vaginal probe before getting an abortion. There are lobbyists arguing that of course we can’t stop a manufacturer from selling a video game where the “player” gets points for murdering prostitutes. And we allow networks to dish out a never-ending barrage of bad taste and worse behavior, while selling us pills we don’t need for ailments we wouldn’t have if they weren’t selling us shit that was bad for us from the start.
And I think we are all guilty. This is our world, we made it. We created it in our image. And so, we are all guilty of allowing our society to rape, torture, murder and we look away and pretend it is not happening. We think that it is no one we know, that it is not our sons who rape, not our neighbors who kill, not our friends who would do such a thing. But it is. It is someone’s son. Someone’s neighbor. Someone’s friend. And that is why I say we are all guilty.
It won’t stop until we stop it. Turn off the TV, throw away those video games. Don’t be silent. If you have a son, sit him down and explain that any “game” that involves killing for “fun” is wrong. Period. If it is your friend’s son, your co-worker, your neighbor, speak up. Tell them it is unacceptable to have it in the house. Refuse to continue to allow this culture of apathy and ignorance to pervade our world.
Last night, my daughter was going to a birthday party. And when I said, well, you know I have to come in and make sure the parents are there and ask some questions, she rolled her eyes and just said, “There are no teenage boys, they have 3 daughters…” She knows, one of the questions I ask is “Do you have a teenage son and does he play violent video games?” followed by “Are there guns in the house?”
No parent has ever berated me for daring to delve into their personal lives. And like many of our friends, the dad was a hunter, and they assured me the guns were kept in a locked gun safe and no one but the parents had the combination.
It is my small act of rebellion against a world of apathy. My instinct to protect my child outweighing what I see as an unwillingness to question the status quo. I can’t accept that this is “just the way the world is” that there is “nothing we can do about it”. It isn’t and there is.
If you have violent video games in your house, throw them away. Turn off the idiotic and disturbing reality shows, play cards, go for a walk. Talk to your teens if you have them. Don’t be afraid, don’t put it off, don’t think it couldn’t happen to you, or your daughter, or your son. Because I am sure that is exactly what those parents in Ohio thought.
And I reject the theory that we have to accept original sin, bad behavior, violent video games or vaginal probes. This is our world, now let’s protect it.
This entire "debate" actually just annoys me, what is the real issue here? This debate was on my Facebook page last night, and this blog is mostly comments from that debate. It won’t be popular with liberals or conservatives, but I find the whole thing pretty despicable, and what Rand Paul did most of all. To accuse our President of plotting to kill US citizens on US soil as part of a publicity stunt? Well, I think Rand Paul needs to resign. He is a man on a mission, but the mission is not what is true or in the best interest of “we the people”, the day after his little stunt he sent out a totally false fundraiser letter claiming his inability to shut up somehow altered US policy. Honestly, this egomaniac is actually an elected official.
What is going on? Why the sudden questions? Well it all started with a letter Rand Paul wrote to our Attorney General. And in his first reply the Attorney General said, well under certain circumstances, I guess there might be circumstances where we could use a drone on US soil. What circumstances? Could you be in danger of a drone strike? Well, have you plotted the death of American’s and destruction of our government? If not, you are safe.
I've read many different reports on this, and at the end, they all come down to the same thing, the answer is no. Here is my question if Timothy McVeigh had been killed by a drone because he was about to blow up a federal building, would that have been justified? What if he was "just" shot? What about the guy in CA who was burned in that cabin? Where was his due process? Our government has ALWAYS had the right to use lethal force against enemies, this is a new weapon, not a new policy. I see it as just another red herring to try to make people distrust the Black man in the White House and the other Black man in charge of the Justice Department.
Feel free to comment, I am well aware I will bring on the ire of both sides on this issue, conservatives and liberals both, and here is the thing, I don't agree with the use of drones, but guess what? No one asked if I approved, and no one asked if I approved of the invasion of Iraq either.
There are lots of policy issues I disagree with, but this week we did have one other announcement that made news, the decision to try a terrorist in New York, not Guantanamo. Why and who is for it, who is against it? Well, our President has wanted to close Guantanamo and move these trials to New York for some time now. Did you know that in fact, the military tribunals at Guantanamo have been largely symbolic? That in fact, trying terrorists in a US Court of law has actually been seen as not only more "successful" but seems to provide due process to terrorists.
What? Who is responsible for this? Our President. This is what he has been doing, against the objections of the GoP, who want to continue with what has been described as little more than a "kangaroo" court.
And yet, so many people want to believe that this same man, who is fighting to offer due process to non-US citizens would order a drone strike against US citizens on US soil and that he is trying to allow indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil.
It simply boggles my mind.
I continue to research, so far, nothing I have read has given me any reason to change my opinion, the facts are quite clear. I think that we will need a few more court cases to ensure people understand, our Constitution is stronger than the GoP games, it was McCain who helped write the original language in the NDAA and it was our President who said it would never withstand Court challenge, and it has not. And Attorney General Holder was clear, drones will NEVER be used against US citizens on US soil. If a citizen is engaged in terrorism or treason, they have given up protections under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, it has always been this way, and will always be this way. Unless "we the people" decide to change it. And would we change that? Really?
And let me ask this, why would anyone try to ferment discontentment on this issue? Since when are we asked if we agree with policy? Let’s face it whether I agree or not is not the point, the point is, why is it a big deal now? And who benefits?
I have written repeatedly on the NDAA. There is NO such thing as indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil. It simply doesn’t exist. And people keep saying but, what about Chris Hedges? What about the ACLU? What about the lawsuit. Well, I don't agree with Hedges et al, period. I am not sure what they are doing, but I can tell you for sure, there is no such thing as indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil. I have read the NDAA, the change our President insisted on that specifically excludes US citizens is there, the signing statement, transcripts and many, many articles. Please, go to the actual bill and read it, then please post where exactly it allows for indefinite detention of US citizens. Not an article, but the actual bill. Not a blog, not an opinion piece, but go find the actual bill and read it.
I have read the wording of the law, and it is clear, especially given the context of our Constitution, this is not a question to be debated, we have a law. There is no such thing as indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil and the answer to the question, can the President use drones against US citizens on US soil is no. Not maybe, not sometimes, the answer is no.
Can the President, or the police, or our military kill someone engaged in terrorism or who is deemed dangerous and an enemy of the state? Yes. Absolutely. That has always been our law. Nothing has changed.
I don't think our President is trying to expand executive power or infringe on our civil rights. I think he is a good man in the most difficult job in the world surrounded by people who promised to obstruct everything he did and who are backed by some of the biggest industries, with the might of their money and their media against him. It is sad, and sick. And I don't agree with everything he does, I don't even agree with the drone policy, but this fake indignation, the rampant ridiculousness of the conservative angst on this issue, the obvious hypocritical hysteria, it is simply mind-boggling.
Post the links and sources, what UN investigation? What documentation exists that our President is plotting to kill American citizens on US soil? And since no one is calling for Bush to be tried for invading a sovereign nation I guess we are going to just ignore that and pile on the maybe future mythical crimes of our current President, sure, because that makes so much more sense.