Sunday, March 16, 2014

Whose hands are clean in The War On Women (Ava and C.I.)

On the front page of Thursday's New York Times, Alan Blinder and Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "How a Military Sexual Assault Case Foundered" began and continued on and on.  The story should have outraged.  The two authors ensured it didn't by failing to get to the point.

It takes them 48 paragraphs to introduce the element where the case foundered.  ("Foundered"?  They mean to sink or go under.)

Paragraph 48:

To Mr. Scheff, the lead defense lawyer, this was one more example of improper Pentagon involvement.  Soon, the judge seemed to warm to the same conclusion.  In a hearing last week, he expressed concerns about a letter sent in December by Capt. Cassie L. Fowler, the chief witness's special victim counsel, to General Anderson, calling it "inappropriate."
[. . .]
In her letter to General Anderson, Captain Fowler, a recent Notre Dame Law School graduate, made what legal experts have said was an unsurprising -- but overtly political -- argument for why General Anderson should reject the plea offer.
In a reference to the sort of legislation advocated by Ms. [Senator Kirsten] Gillibrand, she wrote, "Allowing the accused to characterize this relationship as a consensual affair would only strengthen the arguments of those individuals that believe the prosecution of sexual assault should be taken away from the Army."

That's paragraphs 48, 50 and 51 above.

The article is 61 paragraphs long.  Here's the 60th paragraph:

Minutes later, Colonel Pohl surprised many in the court with his decision: The Fowler letter "raised the appearance of unlawful command influence" and had improperly swayed General Anderson.  He told the defense team that it could submit a new plea offer to a different commander.

Like Hedda and Louella in days long past, Blinder and Oppel went on and on about details that didn't matter --  newly discovered cell phones, "beauty queen" (we still don't grasp why that was tossed at the alleged rape victim -- especially since the two men who used the term never bothered to inform readers what pageant the alleged victim had competed in) -- and completely ignored reality.

This is the War Against Women, the real war, and don't expect The New York Times or the Democratic Party to ever tell you about it.

We're taking no position on the issues of the case above.  The basics are a relationship took place and that the female states it included rape while the male insists all sex was consensual.

Blinder and Oppel spend excessive paragraphs and can't determine what really happened.

And, honestly, it really doesn't matter now.

Rape doesn't matter?

We're not saying rape, if it happened, doesn't matter.

We're saying there's a bigger issue now and it effects more than one woman who is saying she was raped.

The military is out of control.  They've stated they would address assault and rape within ranks.

They've said that for decades now.

Most infamously, they said it after the 1991 Tailhook scandal.

They never have fixed it.

They never will.

They propose band-aids from time to time.

Special Victims Counsel (SVC) is one such band-aid.

And what was the selling point here to Congress?

Designated SVC personnel will collaborate with local DoD Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC), Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Victim Advocates (VA), Family Advocacy Program Managers (FAPM), and Domestic Abuse Victim Advocates (DAVA) during all stages of the military justice process to ensure an integrated capability, to the greatest extent possible.

So important was the claim,  it was included in letters to the House and Senate when DoD was arguing its needs for the 2013 Fiscal Year budget.

"During all stages."

So now it's not during all stages and its not collaborating with everyone.

That's the story Blinder and Oppel had but missed.

This band-aid was supposed to help the victims of assault and rape.

A military court just decided a SVC doing her job "raised the appearance of unlawful command influence."

This is not just new, as an expert notes to the paper.  It is also, as we apparently the first to note, completely against what DoD agreed to with Congress.

The Pentagon has had years to address this issue.

It doesn't address the issue, it hides it.

In a few decades, without any help from the fumbling Secretaries of Defense and the Pentagon, the issue will right itself.

That's because of progress within the civilian population on issues such as equality.

It will be seen as stupid to attack, in any way, someone you're serving with.

Rape's not about sex.  It's an attack, it's violence.

The military has refused to address it.


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand?

She's tried to address it.

She rightly proposed that evaluating the crimes of assault and rape be taken out of the military's hands.

It needs to happen.

At The Common Ills, the case of Lance Corporal  Maria Lauterbach was covered extensively.  She was missing in December 2007 when she became news.  She was pregnant when she went missing.  More importantly, she was forced to interact with Corporal Cesar Armando.  She had stated he raped her and gone to command.  Command protected Lauren, it did nothing to protect Maria.

They did not remove her from the situation and she was forced to work with the man who she said raped her.

Not only that, when she disappeared, Lauren was able to escape and flee to Mexico because it never occurred to military command to question Lauren, not even after Maria Lauterbach's corpse was found by the police -- not military police, of course -- buried in his backyard.

If that case had been taken out of military hands, things might be very different and Maria might have lived.

There are many other cases where military command worked for the attacker and not the victim.

Gillibrand came up with a bill that would address the issue and stop the cover ups, a bill that would force accountability on the military.

The result?

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate worked overtime to defeat Gillibrand's bill.

But not just Democrats in the Senate.

From Stacy Kaper, "Kirsten Gillibrand Blames White House in Failure of Military Sexual-Assault Bill"  (National Journal):

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blamed the White House's lack of support for the failure of her sexual-assault bill in the Senate on Thursday, and she vowed to keep fighting to reform the military justice system.
"I made my greatest case, I advocated for this position, this reform, and the president has been very clear: He wants to end sexual assault in the military, he wants it to be further studied, and he wants to see progress and whether it's been accomplished in the next year," the New York Democrat said at a press conference after her bill went down.
When asked if she would have succeeded if President Obama had pushed for her bill and whether she was disappointed by the White House's lack of support, she quickly answered, "Yes, yes."

The Democratic Party doesn't like women.

That'll change in a few decades as certain people die off.

But they don't like women.

The Democratic Leadership Council has morphed into other things today.

But in the 80s and 90s and the first half of the '00s, it was about electing Democrats to office.

How do you do that?

They argued that Democratic issues were unpopular.  They argued that more conservative measures needed to be taken.

Bill Clinton was DLC.  We say that not as insult, just as a fact.  Barack Obama was DLC -- though Barack chose to lie about it.

Hillary Clinton was not DLC.  She was the 'wife of' and that mattered not at all to the DLC.

The DLC didn't value women -- especially not in the 80s and early 90s.

But they knew they needed them.

And they knew the abortion issue could help them get women's votes.

But how to be pro-choice and conservative?

Speak of  abortion as an option that needs to be legal but speak of the option with regret.

A lot of people wrongly claim that the DLC were conservatives who whored the party for their beliefs.

If only.

If only they had beliefs.  That would have meant you could debate them.

They weren't conservatives, they were lazy asses.

They wanted corporate money and wanted to get it in the easiest manner possible.

1992's Democratic Party primary can be seen as the ascendancy of the DLC.  Not only did Bill win the nomination (he was their candidate -- he was also the candidate of many other groups) but Jerry Brown didn't.  Brown was running a different form of campaign.  The media found it threatening so they tended to ridicule Brown and let him be defined by his opponents.

But the campaign Brown was running was based on Democratic issues -- labor, Social Security, safety net, etc. -- and on democracy.  He was appealing to a larger base, he was attempting to motivate (and succeeding somewhat) people who didn't vote or who had stopped voting to come back to the process.

Bill was competing for the tiny swing voters.

The DLC was as well.  (Again, Bill was a member of the DLC.)

They believed that you won the election just by dividing the groups and grabbing the swing voters.  They were not interested in voter registration drives or increasing turnout.

A small segment of voters go back and forth between the two major political parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- and these people are not liberal to put it mildly.

So to appeal to these voters, you have to be conservative -- either outright or in cold.

And this is how the Democratic Party moved further and further to the right.

Barack was on the DLC's last recruits.

They've since gone (actually they created a new name for themselves The New Democrats).

But in 2004, they were still around.

The early '00s saw many Democratic losses.

One of the few things the Democratic Party had in Congress that they were proud of?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton.

Hillary could and did raise funds.  She was effective.  People liked her.  They donated big to any event you could get Hillary to.

At the end of 2003, sewer rats Amy Goodman and John Nichols declared on Democracy Now! that Hillary would be the candidate for the Democrats in 2004, that there was this secret plan to install her.

They may have proved that porn rots the brain, but that's all the two 'informed' 'journalists' proved.

In 2004, the Democratic National Convention was to be held in Boston and early on the speakers were announced.

Not one woman politician in prime time.  Not one.

And Hillary wasn't even a speaker.

The former First Lady, now US Senator whose fundraising gigs kept the party afloat wasn't allowed to speak.

It took a massive protest to the DNC -- complaints, threats of pulling donations, etc. -- for the DNC to quickly schedule Hillary.

Even so, she was the only female politician to speak in prime time.

The Democratic Party does not like women.

In 2008, you saw a huge, huge difference in who got to speak in prime time.  Part of that was due to Hillary's historic run for the nomination but part of it was fear that Barack Obama would lose the women's vote -- PUMA had them very scared.

It's worth noting that while Democrats had to fight to get Hillary on the 2004 speakers DNC speakers list, Barack Nobody -- not even a US senator at this point -- gave the key note address for the convention. It's also worth noting that we are not endorsing Hillary for a 2016 run.

And, yes, we're back to Barack.

Barack Obama

He could have championed Gillibrand's needed measure which would have done so much to help those assaulted and raped while serving.

He elected not to.

But he did make time for "My Brother's Keeper" -- his new effort to help African-American males and Latinos.

In "President Obama Is My Brother's Keeper But What About The Sisters?," Charing Ball notes:

I don’t mean to sound curt but I am quite over the narrative, which places black boys at the central of what ails – as well as what will fix – the community. Black men are no more or less hindered by “tough odds” than black women. Likewise, black men are no more or less dinged and obstructed by racism. And yet, when it’s time to put forth meaningful efforts meant at addressing the downtrodden and disadvantaged in our community, for black women and girls (in particular, funding for black women and girls) are often left out of the equation.

Britney Cooper explored the issue at Salon:

According to the African American Policy Forum, black girls are suspended at a higher rate than all other girls and white and Latino boys. Sixty-seven percent of black girls reported feelings of sadness or hopelessness for more than two weeks straight compared to 31 percent of white girls and 40 percent of Latinas. Single black women have the lowest net wealth of any group, with research showing a median wealth of $100. Single black men by contrast have an average net wealth of $7,900 and single white women have an average net wealth of $41,500. Fifty-five percent of black women (and black men) have never been married, compared to 34 percent for white women.
This situation is dire at every level. But perhaps the most troubling thing of all: The report indicates that while over 100 million philanthropic dollars have been spent in the last decade creating mentoring and educational initiatives for black and brown boys, less than a million dollars has been given to the study of black and brown girls!

She faced a backlash for noting those basic facts.

The backlash should have been aimed at Barack who failed to define what was intended.  Even in this 999 word post by Valerie Jarrett nothing concrete is defined -- other than a 'task force.'

Cooper and Ball raise serious issues but let's put that to the side.

Let's say this program is needed as is.

How is it accomplishing anything?

The thinking -- and both Cooper and especially Ball note the thinking -- is that this segment must be helped and must be helped now.  That's an insulting thought and we'll get to why that is in a minute.  But let's accept that thought for just a second.

If that's true or even just believed, then the clear answer is to get jobs for these two groups of men.  Those under 18 need to be placed in vocational education immediately.  College?  We have nothing against it but if you're talking about drop out rates and other issues -- that the White House is talking about -- and you're saying time is limited -- you rush the underage into vocational education (with the government picking up the tab).  Those who are young adults?  You either get them in vocational education or you create a job for them.

This is a band-aid, please note.

Because you don't help boys this way.  You may help a group, a select group over a certain limited period of time, but you don't help boys and you don't help girls by doing this.

It's funny that what little blowback Barack's gotten on this has failed to note the real realities.

barack the starlet

Barack's saying these two groups of young males must be helped because they're ticking time bombs.

Possibly, people miss that charge because they're not tying it in with the way this administration focuses on boys and men and ignores girls and women.

To grasp "My Brother's Keeper," you need to know about the February 11th House Armed Services Committee hearing.  Specifically, you need to know what the State Department's Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs said.  That's Anne Patterson who's so damn proud of herself (queen bees usually are).  As reported at The Common Ills:

And women should especially pay attention because women's rights don't mean a damn thing to the US government.  Doubt it?  Note this exchange, note it real good.

US House Rep Thornberry:  Ambassador, I want to get back to this subject of credibility that the Chairman raised earlier.  And part of what really bothers me is Ms. Slotkin's answer to the Chairman's first question, she said essentially, 'Well there was a lot of violence in Anbar before the surge, so there's really no lesson to be -- to be learned there because our troops wouldn't have made any difference any way.'  But what -- Well, first, of course, there was a tremendous amount of sacrifice for our folks as well as Iraqis required to change the situation in Anbar.  Secondly, the hope was that some sort of a continued engagement and advisory would increase their capability and keep them focused on the real enemy, the terrorists, not devolve into sectarian struggles.  And so I want to get  -- And the fact that we're not there?  I kind of wonder does that not effect the way other countries see us?  As whether we're a reliable partner or not? [. . .]

Anne Patterson:  Uh, I -- I do think -- Let me say, I do think we're a reliable partner and I think our presence is-is very extensive.  Let me take the example of Iraq and what we've done recently.  Uh, we have made an extraordinary effort with the help of this Committee and other, uh, Committees in the Congress to give them the  weaponry and the, frankly, the intelligence support that they need to meet this, uh, this-this renewed threat, uh, from ISIL.  And it was critically important that we supply Hellfire Missiles, uh, because they had attempted to go after these camps in the dessert with thin-skinned helicopters and, uh, by ground and had been unable to do so.  So our arming them came at a critical point to enable them to go after the terrorists.  We also have, uh, tried to step up training.  We're planning to step up training.  We have an enormous foreign military sales and foreign military financing program with Iraq.  So I think it's very difficult to say that we've abandoned the Iraqis because I think we're very, uh, intensely engaged there.  And as to your broader question, sir, yes, I think we're going to need to be involved in these countries -- whether it's Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq or Egypt for decades to come -- and not just in the military sense.  The key element in all these countries is going to be job creation for the enormous number of young men that are coming into the labor force and basically have no prospects or are in a built-in element of instability.

Job creation for men.

Clearly, the Middle East needs more female suicide bombers.  They already exist.  But they clearly need to increase their numbers or they're not getting the focus of the US government.

Anne Patterson, a woman in the Anne Slaughter sense of the word -- meaning she remembers her gender when she has a book to sell or is in trouble -- is happy to pimp the need for jobs for men.  Only for men.  If that was the policy in the United States, Anne Patterson wouldn't have a job, let alone "my forty year career."

How does this administration plan to combat terrorism?

"Job creation for the enormous number of young men that are coming into the labor force and basically have no prospects or are in a built-in element of instability."

This administration is responding to terrorism the same way they respond to young African-American males and Latinos -- because they see them as the same thing.

My Brother's Keeper is not a long-term solution.  It's a short cut for a really brief time.

That's because what forces people into downward spirals -- crime, terrorism, whatever -- is often best combated by improving the lot of women.

Women's rights are human rights.

And if you want to help the young, you have to help the mothers.

So make real proposals that help the mothers.  Government subsidized child care would do so much right now for so many working families who have children in day care or in after-school care.

Guess what else government subsidies there would do?

Allow more families to put their children into such programs.


That would create more jobs.

And more job opportunities for all but, yes, for young males in the two groups that are identified as at-risk.

That's only one example.

Let's move to terrorism.

How is giving young men jobs going to eliminate terrorism?

Yes, there are people -- men and women -- who are paid to commit acts of terrorism.

But money isn't usually the motive.

The motive is usually the lack of fairness they observe, the lack of caring they observe.

And the motive is often about how that impacted their family.

How they lost a loved one.

If a focus is going to be made on jobs, let's look at Iraq where the White House insists that terrorism is at large levels.

Iraq is, due to the illegal war, The Land of Widows and Orphans.

You want to cut down on terrorism?

Provide jobs for the widow with three kids so that they're not growing up in need, so they're not begging on the street or forced to steal so their family can survive.

The State Department is supposed to have long range planning so it's very disturbing that their answer is no real answer.

It'll briefly create jobs for a small group of the population.

It'll do nothing to change women's lives and it'll do damn little to help Iraqi families in need.

Being "in need" in Iraq is being at risk -- at risk in every way including being targeted with violence.

The State Department's plan does nothing to address the roots of terrorism and it won't change anything in the long run.

78Like · ·

As noted in an Iraq snapshot last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry used International Women's Day to pontificate about how important equality was.  His remarks included:

John Kerry:  Everywhere I travel, in every meeting, I can see firsthand the promise of a world where women are empowered as equal partners in peace and prosperity. But here’s what’s most important: all of the fights and all of the progress we’ve seen in recent years haven’t come easily or without struggle. And we still have work to do.
Our work is not done when one out of every three women is subjected to some form of violence in her lifetime.
We cannot rest knowing that girls younger than 15 are forced to marry and that they are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties.

You know how Iraqi women marked International Women's Day?

By protesting in Baghdad against Nouri al-Maliki's bill to lower the age for marrying off girls to nine (actually it's lowered to eight).  (For more on the bill, please see this Human Rights Watch article.)

There's been some effort to remove the bill from Nouri.  No, he did not propose it to his Cabinet.  He did, however, embrace it, vote for it and he forwarded it to the Parliament.  That makes it his bill.

John Kerry was so very troubled in his speech about women and girls.

But he spoke out against Nouri's bill when?

Answer: Not once so far.

Friday, the State Department did have a comment.

No, they didn't issue a statement.

In  Friday's press briefing spokesperson Marie Harf had to respond because  Said Arikat, Al Quds bureau chief, asked about the proposal.

SAID ARIKAT:  Yeah.  Iraq?

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

SAID ARIKAT:  Are you aware of a law that allows parent – fathers or guardians to marry off their 9-year-old girls?

MS. HARF:  Yes. 

SAID ARIKAT:  And what is your comment on that?

MS. HARF:  This is a draft law.  We understand that this draft law, which I think several high-level Iraqi political and religious leaders have publicly condemned and claim violates the rights of Iraqi women – has been sent to the council of representatives for consideration.  We absolutely share the strong concerns of the UN mission in Iraq, which has noted that this law risks constitutionally protected rights for women.  The draft law I think is pending before the parliament right now.  It would require three readings before a vote could take place, so we’ll obviously be watching the debate closely and welcome a parliamentary process that ensures the rights of all Iraqis, including women, are fully protected in line with its constitution.

And I would also note that some women’s groups, some human rights NGOs, have also condemned the draft law as a significant step backwards for women’s rights in Iraq.

Had she not been asked, she wouldn't have said a word.  In fact, the press briefing was almost over when the question was asked.

John Kerry, for public approval and the cameras, offers generic crap and pretends to care about women.

But he had nothing to say about this issue despite the fact that the State Department is over the US mission in Iraq.

Does that surprise you?

You need to see "Secretary Kerry doesn't really support women's rights" about Kerry's statements to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 17, 2013:

US House Rep William Keating: Thank you for being here.  I know that both of us, although we're here, part of us are still back home in Massachusetts this morning.  Getting to the theme of this morning's hearing, your theme of small smart investments is right on point, I couldn't agree with it more.  One of those areas that the administration and you have been involved with personally and Secretary [Hillary] Clinton had been involved with was really dealing with issues like the National Action Plan for Woman Peace and Security in the World.  And I think that we can't approach the broader issues of poverty and the rule of law and education and health care around the world without dealing with these issues, they're core to dealing with any advancement in that area. And, furthermore, I think they're the smartest way to make some of these investments for our dollar and to be effective. So I'd like you to, just two things, if you could, comment on.  One is generally comment on your ability to deal with these gender equality advancement issues with women around the world and, number two, particularly, gender-based violence.  You know it, in your capacity, you knew it when you were a prosecutor, as I did.  They know no borders or bounds when you're dealing with violence based on gender-based violence.  And internationally, the violence that so many women experience take many different forms -- from rape to early forced marriage to harmful traditional practices that occur such as genital mutilation, 'honor' killings, acid violence, sexual violence and contact -- and I could go on and on and on. But can you comment on the Department's first-time ever strategy to prevent gender-based violence globally?  Those are the two things I'd like you to comment on, Mr. Secretary. 

Secretary John Kerry:  Well, thank you, Congressman.  It's good to see you and thanks for our shared feelings about what's happened up in Boston. Secretary Clinton did a great job of putting this issue squarely on everybody's agenda and I'm determined to make certain that we live up to that standard -- if not exceed it.  And we're in -- I think we're in a good start to do that in terms of trafficking issues and other things.  But in-in London last week at the G8 Ministers meeting, Foreign Minister [William] Hague of Great Britain made the centerpiece of our meeting sexual violence as a tool of war.  And we had a meeting, we had outside representatives come in who helped to raise the profile of that and, in my judgment, it was a very valuable moment for people to realize that this is going to be held accountable as a War Crime.  And we're going to keep this gender-based violence front and center as we go forward.  I would also say to everybody, when I was in Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago, when Anne Smedinghoff was my control officer, she helped put together a remarkable meeting of ten entrepreneurs, ten women in Afghanistan who are struggling against all of the resistance culturally and historically in that country to stand up and start businesses and-and help girls go to schools, help women be able to be entrepreneurs.  A remarkable process.  And the courage that they exhibited deserves everybody's support.  It would certainly get ours in the State Dept.  And we're going to continue this in many different ways over the next years in the State Dept -- you'll see us continue it. 

US House Rep William Keating:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  In terms of accountability, could that also include standards that might be tied to aid to some extent?

Secretary John Kerry:  You know, Congressman, there are some places that lend themselves to that kind of conditionality and there are others that just don't. And I don't think there's a blanket cover all of explaining a set of standards that's going to apply everywhere.  In some countries, the standards could actually be counter-productive and you don't get done what you're trying to do.  It really depends on what is the package, what's the nature of the program, and I think you have to be pretty customized in that approach. 

Kerry does pretend to care about women's issues unless he's expected to do anything more than offer empty words.

He's not willing to tie it to aid, you understand, because it just doesn't rank as an important issue.

Not for him.

Not for the White House.

Not for the Democratic Party.

This crowd grew up using women as pawns -- it's why the Kennedy brothers were so beloved.

The only way a woman can achieve in this party is to be a work horse (Senator Patty Murray, for example) or to be a queen bee (Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is but one example).

There is a very real war on women in the US.

And, judging by Chris Matthews' meltdown on Morning Joe (MSNBC) near the end of last week (he insisted it was time for the Democratic Party to start scaring voters so they could win in the November elections), there's a good chance the DNC portrayed War On Women will be trotted out.

In that example, the Republican Party is intolerant, hateful and a danger to all women while the Democratic Party is the manly guardian that will save us.

We're not seeing a big difference between the two when it comes to women.

The Democrats sure do love to pose like they care about women.

But in the last five weeks alone, what did we see?

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand proposed a bill that would have helped women (and what other countries -- like England -- already do) and Democrats in the Senate as well as the White House worked to kill it.

Thursday, The New York Times report made clear that the administration was not using SVCs as they told Congress they would.

And yet that still is not a headline.

We are the first to point it out -- and that is not said in bragging, that is said in screaming frustration.

We saw Barack tell the nation about My Brother's Keeper -- a short term band-aid to an issue which, in fact, the White House views as necessary in the same way it's necessary to create jobs for young men in Iraq to prevent them from becoming terrorists.

When you put just that together -- there is, sadly, so much more that could be added to the list -- and think about, really think about it, it becomes clear that the paternalistic Democratic Party's not helping women.  At best, they're harming women a little less than the Republican Party.

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