Saturday, February 8, 2014

Addressing the elephant in the room: Woody Allen and a pattern of abuse

As the firestorm continues to swirl after Woody Allen's DAUGHTER, Dylan Farrow published molestation charges against him - I refuse to go along with Allen's published assertions that an adoption somehow merits distinction -  I have to address the huge elephant in the room.

Why does everyone act as if Dylan is the only person who has been harmed? What about Soon-Yi? What about Allen's two new adopted GIRLS? Who speaks for them?

No one questions why Soon-Yi,  a child of only 7 or 8 when Allen came into her life, continues to stand by Allen. According to reports, Allen dated Mia Farrow for 12 years, during which Soon Yi, the child he first met, became the adult he later married.

Allen himself has gone on record to claim that he never considered Soon Yi to be his daughter because she's the adopted child of his then girlfriend. They never lived together, he reasons, and acts incredulous that anyone think it immoral for him to take nude pictures of, let alone marry the daughter of a woman he's dating.

To Allen it seems being adopted is an import an distinction. In interviews, he repeats "she isn't my child; I didn't consider myself her father” – as if the lack of a biological connection clears him of despicable behavior.

Coming to his support, supporters claim at the time the photos were found and a relationship admitted, Soon Yi was over 21 - a consenting adult – so it doesn't matter.

But doesn't it? It is not appropriate to have an intimate relationship with your girlfriend's daughter -- no matter where you live or how old she is.

To someone well familiar with child abuse, the term Stockholm syndrome has to be a familiar one. For example, Jaycee Duggard was of age, with two children when she was finally rescued. As an adult, she didn't run or contact the authorities when she had the chance. Instead she followed her abuser, did what she was told, supported him when asked.

Dugard was found after years of abuse. But when first approached by police she told investigators that Phillip Garrido - her captor and rapist - was "a great person" who was "good with her kids." It was after Garrido confessed, that she changed her story. Is that consent? Or was she just hopelessly resigned to her fate, seeing no way out?

Shawn Hornbeck was not a willing captor, but years after he was kidnapped he was often seen playing alone outside or walking alone in local malls giving no indication of being kidnapped and held against his will or wanting to escape. He even spoke with a policeman on occasion without alerting them of his predicament.

One New York trauma psychologist describes Stockholm syndrome this way: “Whenever an abuser shows acts of kindness toward you, it shows you some hope that you will survive.”

No one is accusing Allen of kidnapping. He doesn't have to. He lets adoption do his dirty work for him.

Seeing how Allen's powerful friends vehemently support him, brushing off graphic, reprehensible accusations as “imagined” and in effect, attacking and smearing the credibility of the women who dare speak out against him, is there any wonder why Soon – Yi, who was abused child even before she met Allen, remains stoically in his corner?

Allen's other adopted daughter, Dylan, claims he molested her. Yet we pretend her case is isolated, that one is not connected to the other. Why? Because Allen says so? Here we have two girls - both adopted - and both allegedly in an inappropriate relationship with an adult who dated their mother; a man who has already demonstrated he's oblivious to any moral obligation not to engage in a sexual relationship with children who aren't biologically his. How can we pretend there is no pattern? To make things worse, Allen was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan long before the relationship with Soon Yi was revealed.

I'm sick of people regurgitating Allen's talking points. If you're dating a woman with children, you have a moral obligation not to get sexually involved with those children. It doesn't matter if you are married, living together, living in separate states or seeing each other three times a year. It doesn't matter if the children are 5, 15 or 25. And it certainly doesn't doesn't matter that they are adopted.

Allen has two more adopted daughters. Who speaks for them? Soon-Yi, a woman who was abused even before Allen came into her life? Certainly not Allen. When will the press stop giving him a free pass? I'm still waiting for some reporter to ask Allen the same types of pointed, hard questions, and employ the same journalistic skepticism given Michael Jackson.  I've never seen an article on Jackson's alleged indiscretions introduced the way Nicholas Kristof couched Dylan Farrow's open letter on his blog -- cautioning that,  the face of a victim's direct accusation, the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  We're constantly urged to give Allen benefit of the doubt.

Every time I see a picture of those children with Allen, l see vacant, hopeless stares. In photos, they seem quietly resigned, even uncomfortable around Allen. As they and the rest of the world witness what is now happening to Dylan for speaking out about her abuse; how she's doubted, questioned, challenged; her mother vilified, attacked and labeled; those children must feel trapped with no hope for rescue. Like Duggard, the world looks past the obvious tent in the backyard.

Outsiders see their hopeless situation exactly the way their powerful abusers want it to be seen. And no one cares enough to ask hard questions or look beyond the front door. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Debunking an Old Paternity Rumor? Or Just Digging Up Old Dirt?

A Huffington Post article this week says it has "new evidence" regarding the connection between Thomas Jefferson and his children by Sally Hemings. The report claims it has a new "scholarly report" that disputes that claim. The report then goes back to regurgitate all the old things we already know: namely that a DNA study back in the late 90s linked Jefferson's DNA to some of Hemings's children.

The Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society says -- as they always have -- that that doesn't mean the father is necessarily Jefferson. It could have been his brother, they say. The Hemings family, however, claims otherwise.

The family of Sally Hemings has an oral tradition linking it directly to Jefferson. Why do we take some of Jefferson'­s children at their word, yet consistently debate, disparage or question his children of color?

The word of the family isn't 'scholarly' it would seem, at least to some.

Why is the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society so eager to disprove Jefferson's paternity when it comes to the Hemings's offspring? A quick review of their website unearths a startling pattern. They seem more eager to disprove Jefferson had any connection to Hemings, than they are to finding the truth.

There are links to articles against "biohistory," i.e. using DNA to research and study historic figures. Such research invades the "privacy" of the families involved, they say.

Once could assume from this series of readings on DNA and Hemings that discovering you have black relatives is a not something to embrace, it's something to fear. There are even links to articles that explain how more African Americans are using DNA analysis to find their heritage, an article that has no mention of Jefferson or the Hemings controversy whatsoever.

One narrative "Is it True? A Primer of Jefferson DNA" even attacks the Hemings family. The author even goes so far as to say, quote "If the Hemings oral histories are so good, why don't they know where their ancestors are buried? One of the first, most basic things a family does is honor the burial place of their ancestors."

Say what? Maybe the writer, who claims to be a Jefferson descendant - one who I assume hasn't been forced to offer his own DNA to prove his claims - just doesn't understand slavery. Maybe he doesn't know that slaves were routinely sold away from their families, punished and even killed for trying to maintain ancestral connections. Had Mr. Works, the writer, been stripped from his family, sold into slavery on another continent, robbed of his history and language, even threatened with death for trying to maintain any sort of family ties, he wouldn't know where his ancestors were buried either. But I digress.

Having a black child isn't an abomination. It doesnt make Jefferson any less of a great figure in history. It would be nice if the Jefferson Society, which stated mission is to preserve Jefferson's legacy, was more interested in embracing all Jefferson was as a historic figure -- even if a part of that legacy includes a man who loved a black slave and fathered her children.

You can read the full article here:
Thomas Jefferson Slave Paternity Rumors: New Study Questions Evidence That Former President Fathered Sally Hemings' Child

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Debt Deal: The Great Hypocrisy

I miss Keith O...

Countdown dissects the debt deal

Here's the link:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

State of the Economy: Where's the Wealth?

When commenting on the state of the economy, someone close to me had this to say: People stay poor because they don't save their money or use it wisely. And penalizing the people who are responsible for their money, making them carry the burden [for the poor] is classism, bordering on socialism.

I was stunned. It was the second time in recent weeks I became painfully aware of the importance of history. Specifically this nugget of truth: when African Americans don't know their history, they leave themselves open to repeat it. That means their foundation in the present is shaky at best.

Most European Americans know a thing or two about English history. Before the film's opening credits they probably knew the Other Boylen Girl by name or could tell you that, while Elizabeth would soon be Queen, her beloved Dudley would never be King of England. After school many Jewish American children attend cultural studies to learn about their rich history.

But outside of Black History Month, Harriett Tubman and WEB Dubois, how many African Americans know the history behind why a disproportionate percentage of people of color remain in poverty?

For me, that statement about the poor may as well have indicted my father and his legacy. It was a slap in the face to everything he worked for all his life.

My dad was one of the wisest people I know. He was a military veteran, serving in World War II and the Korean war. He worked hard and saved virtually every nickel and dime he earned. He took pride in his home he invested in it for his family. He saved all his life and when I was old enough, he walked me and my piggy bank filled with weekly allowance straight to the nearest bank to open up a savings account.

But he couldn't save his way out of poverty. And no matter how comfortable our lives were, and how middle class we strived to be, the fact is that house he worked hard to make a home is smack in the middle of what is now a crime infested ghetto. The wealth he saved for all of his life barely makes a decent down payment in today's economy.

Poverty has little to do with who saves what. It has everything to do with who is denied opportunity and who isn't.

My dad didn't deserve to be refused housing in certain neighborhoods or to have the value of his home artificially kept low. He didn't deserve to be redlined out of his wealth.

But how to you explain this to someone who hasn't lived it firsthand? I was grateful to stumble across Tuesday's segment of the Rachel Maddow show, hosted by Melisssa Harris-Perry, which outlines why the new conservative talking point, that people are poor because they are careless with their money is not only not true, but also ignores the underlying issue of racism that is at the core of economic disparity in this country.

Use the link below if the video box doesn't appear.

The Rachel Maddow Show: US wealth gap reflects racism's legacy

Dr. Thomas Shapiro, the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy at Brandeis University, talks with TRMS guest host Melissa Harris-Perry about a new report showing a wider than ever wealth gap between whites and people of color.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christian Science Monitor: The big lie is crumbling

Now that Rupert Murdoch's media empire is crumbling at the seams, it's a good time to dissect his propaganda machine. Fox News, specifically, is a dangerous outgrowth of rampant Republican fear mongering at the expense of people of color. While phone hacking is beyond outrageous, what's truly cause for concern are the abuses of power by New Corps, his media conglomerate, and the misinformation it thrusts onto the political debate.

President Obama was right in describing Fox as "destructive to [America's] long-term growth."

Of course spreading misleading and blatantly wrong information is nothing new. It was a pinnacle of the Hearst empire in the 50s and 60s. However, Hearst never had such global reach, nor the ability influence global markets with a bed of lies.

The Christian Science Monitor recently looked at President Obama's accomplishments contradicting some of the misinformation:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Blame Game

Today I got a robo-call from Dick Morris, the conservative pollster and hooker patron, trying to "take America back" -- I guess from President Obama -- by buying his book in order to "make America great again." Forget the fact that the majority of Americans voted for Obama and still support him. The call went on to call the President an "idealog who rammed the deficit up to 14 trillion dollars by expanding government to likes never seen in American history. Really?

Unfortunately it's all a lie. I've been a conservative for years, but if the conservative ideals are worth fighting for, why do Republicans feel the need to lie to get others to support them?

The truth is adeptly told in this Washington Post article written by Lori Montgomery, Published: April 30. She writes:

"The nation’s unnerving descent into debt began a decade ago with a choice, not a crisis.

In January 2001, with the budget balanced and clear sailing ahead, the Congressional Budget Office forecast ever-larger annual surpluses indefinitely. The outlook was so rosy, the CBO said, that Washington would have enough money by the end of the decade to pay off everything it owed."

She goes on to do the simple math that sums up our deficit woes:

"Big-ticket spending initiated by the Bush administration accounts for 12 percent of the shift. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have added $1.3 trillion in new borrowing. A new prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients contributed another $272 billion. The Troubled Assets Relief Program bank bailout, which infuriated voters and led to the defeat of several legislators in 2010, added just $16 billion — and TARP may eventually cost nothing as financial institutions repay the Treasury."

And Obama?

"Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus, a favorite target of Republicans who blame Democrats for the mounting debt, has added — 6 percent of the total shift."


You can read it for yourself here:

In the meantime, I have a great idea: Let's stop blaming President Obama for the enormous hole dug into the economy by the Bush tax cuts. In reality, if you cut billions of dollars worth of income out of the economy, you get exactly what we have today, a massive deficit.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Latest WTF Moment: Keith Olbermann leaves MSNBC

It was the tweet read 'round the world.

Early Friday evening, MSNBCs Countdown with Keith Olbermann began like it always does. Legendary NBC Nightly News theme music. Check. Keith's summary of stories we'll be talking about. Check. Thurber teaser? No check. Hmmmm...

That night Olbermann tweeted his show promos as usual, counting down from first to last. Then at 7:30 p.m. came a change. The tweet: @KeithOlbermann ShowPlugSupplemental: We will have a slight change in the Thurber selection tonight.

That lone tweet was the only indication something massive was about to happen. Keith Olbermann and MSNBC would part ways.

Earlier that night Olbermann announced an entirely different Thurber selection. At 6:30 Keith tweeted that the Friday nightly Thurber read would be a repeat: @KeithOlbermann ShowPlugLast: And back where we started on Fridays with Thurber: The Peacelike Mongoose.

But as the hour moved on and it drew closer to showtime, something changed. Something big enough to warrant a different Thurber with a different moral ending.

In the end, Olbermann chose Thurber with an ending that speaks to the importance of asking questions. Thurber's: The Scottie Who Knew too Much concludes with a moral: "It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers."

Was the change significant? Or just a minor flux?

The moral of Peaceable Mongoose, while a repeat read for Olbermann, speaks to a mongoose who dared be different being betrayed by its peers. Instead Olbermann switched to a poem that highlights the importance of probing for a better understanding of a situation.

In the immortal words of Peter Finch, "So..."

Did Olbermann know going into the night that it would be his last? Or did something change Friday night right before his show?

In the final minutes of Countdown, Olbermann announced to his legion of nightly viewers he had been told it was his last show. He went on to recount the classic scene from Network, where Finch urges viewers to stand up and shout "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more..." He expressed gratitude that, unlike previous times, he had been given more than 15 seconds to say goodbye.

Reportedly Olbermann was in the midst of a $30-million, multi-year contract. But the rivalry between Olbermann and MSNBCs President Phil Griffin is no secret. Adding fuel to massive speculation, Olbermann's abrupt departure marks the anniversary of NBCs controversial yanking of Conan O'Brien's late night talk show, to-the-day. It also came within days of the controversial FCC approval of the Comcast/NBC merger.

Did Comcast have anything to do with pulling the plug? Or did the tension between Olbermann and Griffin finally reach its breaking point? Did MSNBC negotiate a non-compete clause that would keep Olbermann from taking his show to another network? Does the quick change in the moral behind the breakup give us clues?

It's better to ask some of the questions, than know all the answers.

Olbermann signed off with his traditional throwing of the night's script. But sorely missing in the closing moments was the fond banter between Olbermann and his protege -- immediately succeeding commentator, Rachel Maddow. Rachel had the night off, so viewers missed her initial reaction to Olbermann's announcement, which might have given some indication of how sudden the departure really was.

Minutes after his final sign-off MSNBC aired its regular Countdown promo, highlighting its popular, mercurial, but now suddenly departed host -- leaving viewers scratching their heads and left with an even greater sense of loss.

From Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook

Olbermann Out At MSNBC
'Countdown' host's last show was Friday
By Jon Lafayette -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/21/2011 9:06:09 PM
Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's best-known anchor and lightening rod broadcast his final show on the network Friday.

In an on-air farewell on Countdown, Olbermann said he had been told that this was his last show, which might indicate he'd been fired by NBC Universal, which had suspended him in November for making campaign donations to Democrats. But he also said there had been times that "all that surrounded the show . . . were too much for me."

The reason for the departure was not immediately clear. "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," said the network in a statement released as Olbermann went off the air. "MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

NBCU this week moved a step closer to being controlled by Comcast Corp., with the FCC approving the cable giant's transaction with General Electric, NBCU's current owner. The deal is expected to be finalized Jan. 28.

Given Olbermann's outspoken persona and his anti-establishment views, there has been speculation that Comcast would be less tolerant of his behavior on-air and behind the scenes with management.

One insider said that Comcast was informed of the deal made to terminate Olbermann's contract before it was announced, but that it was not involved in the decision.

Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice confirmed: "Comcast has not closed the transaction for NBC Universal and has no operational control at any of its properties including MSNBC. We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal's news operations. We have not and we will not."

An MSNBC spokesman would not comment on the situation beyond the network's statement.

Comcast said back in November it had no role in the suspension or reinstatement of Olbermann.

"Comcast is not in any way involved with decisions made currently by NBC News," the company said in a statement in November. "We have pledged that when the transaction is concluded, Comcast will abide by the same policies for NBC's news and public affairs programming that have been in place since GE acquired the company in 1986. Comcast is committed to the independence of NBC's news operations."

MSNBC had to shuffle its lineup in the wake of Olbermann's exit, a move made easier by the emergence of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell as anchors whose shows on some nights draw more viewers than Olbermann's program Countdown.

On Monday, The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell will move from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m., with The Ed Show will move from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Countdown had been airing at 8-9 p.m. The Rachel Maddow Show remains at 9 p.m. O'Donnell will repeat at 11 p.m., replacing an Olbermann rebroadcast, and Cenk Uygur, MSNBC contributor and host of Web show "The Young Turks," will fill in as host of the 6 p.m. hour.

Olbermann helped MSNBC build viewership by taking on President George W. Bush and Fox News, attacking both with features such as "Worst Person In the World." He particularly went after Fox host Bill O'Reilly. The tension between the two hosts required high-level intervention from executives at both GE and Fox News parent News Corp.

Olbermann also created enemies inside and he was close to being fired a few times in addition to the campaign contribution issue in November. In his farewell broadcast, he thanked a large number of people, but did not include either NBC News President Steve Capus or MSNBC boss Phil Griffin.

Of Olbermann's departure, Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said, "Keith Olbermann did real journalism and spoke truth to power during the Bush years when most reporters fell down on the job. For that, he is a hero to many Americans -- including the 300,000 people who signed our petition to put Keith back on the air last November." Olbermann had donated to two candidates endorsed by Green's PAC.

"A lot of people are trying to figure out if this was truly voluntary or not, with some noting that the Comcast-NBC merger was approved by President Obama's FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski just this week," Green added. "We'll see what develops. But regardless, Keith: Good night and good luck."