A Swift Victory for Taylor in Protecting the Rights of Victims

Kudos to Taylor Swift for not only standing up to a sexual predator in her recently settled court case, but to the plaintiff’s aggressive and offensive attorney.   Swift had been sued by David Mueller, who alleged that Swift’s claims that he had sexually assaulted the pop singer were false and led to him being fired as a DJ for a radio station.

Swift gave clear and confident testimony as to what happened, which was that Mueller slid his hand up her skirt and onto her backside during a photo op.  Questioned by Meuller’s lawyers if their client had in fact groped her she said: “Other than grabbing my ass against my will, underneath my skirt, and refusing to let go, he did not otherwise touch me inappropriately.”

For those who have shrugged and said, what’s the big deal here, the guy just grabbed her butt, I would pose the following.  If anyone slid their hands down your pants and grabbed your derriere, I would suggest that most people would be horrified.  Many people would have surmised that this individual was mentally unbalanced. 

Swift was strong and resolute in the brazenly hostile questions she was posed, many suggesting that the incident was in some way her own fault, and that she should have prevented it.  One of her most powerful statements was “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions—not mine."

 

Swift’s testimony should serve to empower men and women across the country who testify in courts in sexual assault cases.  These would include individuals who are victims of domestic and sexual violence.  I am also hopeful it will deter attorneys in court from engaging in blaming victims for the unlawful and predatory behavior of their clients.

No Child of God Should Ever Suffer, Mr. President

 

The world was horrified when photos and news footage revealed that Syrian President Bashar Assad had once again committed the atrocity of using chemical weapons against his own people.  The most horrifying images were those of children who died as a direct result of the attack. President Trump declared, “no child of God should ever suffer such horror”.  The American people overwhelmingly agreed with this statement.

There was significant irony to Trump’s statement, given that Syrian refugee children were turned away, not to mention that children over the world will be seriously harmed by our President’s proposed budget cuts.  One such cut proposes to cut off food aid for millions of children in some of the world’s poorest places, including school meals.  This includes programs which provide free or reduced-price school lunches for kids in the U.S. 

After-school programs which primarily impact poor children are also on the chopping block.  These initiatives help bolster academic performance, enhance social skills, provide a safe environment, and are a lifesaver for working parents.  And, the American Federation of Teachers proclaimed that Betsy Devos and the Trump administration are aiming to “put the meat cleaver” to public education.”

The Trump budget proposes to cut federal programs to assist poor families to pay their heating bills and to provide less funding for public housing.  These cuts will undoubtedly impact children across the country. 

And most importantly, the Trump administration supported the Republican health care plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.  It was widely acknowledged that this plan would have meant that over 24 million people would have lost their health insurance, again, having a significant impact on children. They are still bound and determined to find a way to obliterate Obamacare. 

Should the American people be shocked and outraged by the atrocities being committed in Syria?  Absolutely, and the hope is that there will be an international coalition to put an end to these horrors, and to remove Assad from office.   But we should also be incensed by the proposed budget cuts that will cause our nation’s children to go hungry, have no heat in their homes, and be unable to receive life-saving medical care. 

Let’s shorten Trump’s message to “no child of God should ever suffer”, regardless of whether they are living in Syria, or any other country in the world.  Trump’s proposed budget is a moral document; let’s hope that there will be pressure to provide aid and hope to our country’s children, as well as those who suffer unnecessarily around the world.

Congressional Leaders Need to Do Their Homework

I was positively stunned to learn that many congressmen acknowledged they had not read the latest healthcare bill (The Meadows-MacArthur Amendment to the American Health Care Act or AHCA) before it was recently approved by the House of Representatives.  The bill was also passed before input was received from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which calculates how many more people could lose insurance, how much this plan will cost the federal government and the bill’s ultimate impact on the federal deficit.

The analogy to this would be if you were to purchase a home without knowing the price, failing to calculate your payments or the maintenance costs, and determining if you could sustain the expenses over time.  And no competent business would ever undertake a major overhaul without significant study and attention to detail and to study the financial implications of such a plan.

I was never a numbers person until I became involved with non-profit organizations; going over the financial reports in meetings was something I did not enjoy, nor fully understood.  But over time I learned that it was critical to understanding the numbers, as they could tell us how well we were doing, whether our mission could be sustained over time, and how much money we would need to raise.  I learned how to read and interpret financial reports, which was a critical part of my job as a board member.

Now a bill was quickly passed with virtually no study, discussion or regard for its implications. The congressional leadership pushed the bill through without waiting for the CBO to project its costs or how it would impact millions of people in our country. The projected impact of this bill is frightening; at least 24 million more people will likely be uninsured, protections for people with pre-existing conditions will be gutted through state waivers with little if any federal oversight and seniors could pay five times that of younger individuals for their insurance.  The bill also guts Medicaid by over 800 billion, leaving our most vulnerable citizens without medical care.  Most concerning of all is that the bill is a poorly disguised tax cut for the wealthiest people in the country which will ultimately result in a $850 billion transfer of wealth from the poorest to the wealthiest Americans over the next ten years. 

Every school child is taught the importance of doing their homework.  It prepares you for what’s ahead in school and in life.  Sadly, leaders in Congress wanted to pass a bill so badly to make a political splash that they didn’t feel the need to do their homework. Shame on them…and let’s hope that the Senate takes the time to understand the repercussions of the bill and that they will not be as cavalier with people’s lives and money as our Congressional leaders. 

Where is the Adult Supervision in Washington and Concord?

This has been a roller coaster of a political week.  After drafting a secret bill that would impact over 300 million Americans and 1/6th of our economy, we got to see what the repeal of Obamacare would look like.  With the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, over 22 million people would lose their health insurance, while 1/10th of one percent of the nation's wealthiest people would receive a huge tax cut.  

This is what Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the band came up with after having six years to offer an alternative to Obamacare. Let's call it what it is; it's a redistribution of wealth, plain and simple.  

The Democrats were not able to see or comment on the bill, nor was their input sought. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, this is an affront to our democracy, we should all be concerned.  The Democrats don't get a merit badge for their behavior either, singing "nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye" after the House passed their version of the healthcare bill.  

In Concord, with the recent passage of the state budget, things are not looking much different.  A state senator bragged that "we didn't need the Democrat's votes or input in order to pass the budget".

In a time that now seems light years away, the two parties worked together and got legislation passed.  Everybody didn't get exactly what they wanted, but they compromised and came up with workable solutions.  Ted Kennedy had a long and deep friendship with Republicans Orrin Hatch and John McCain.  Kennedy and his Senate pals from both sides of the aisle would retreat for drinks and a burger, and they wouldn't leave the room until they came to a consensus.  

I now find myself asking, where are the adults in the room?  And where is the recognition and acceptance that our democracy is based on a multiple party system where everyone has a seat at the negotiating table, not just the ones in the majority party?  Looks like we need new leadership in both Washington and Concord that get work done without adult supervision.