A New ‘Affluenza’ Epidemic

Remember back in 2015, when I wrote about Ethan Couch, the ‘affluenza teen’?  Most of you probably weren’t readers of this blog yet at that time, so I will include links to the series of posts I did about him, in case you’re interested.  In a nutshell, Ethan Couch stole two cases of beer from a store, then stole his father’s pickup truck, then with seven passengers in tow, driving 70mph in a 40mph zone, crashed into an SUV and a Volkswagen, killing four people.


Ethan Couch

Couch was initially sentenced to ten years’ probation in juvenile court after his lawyer argued that it was not his fault, but the fault of his parents because he had been so privileged that he was incapable of discerning right from wrong or understanding the consequences of his actions.  After violating the terms of his probation in a most blatant manner, a judge finally sentenced him to 720 consecutive days in jail and he was set free in April 2018.

brock turner

Brock Allen Turner

And then there was Brock Allen Turner, who I wrote about in mid-2016.  Turner raped an unconscious woman on the campus of Stanford University after a party.  There were witnesses, so there was no question of his guilt.  After eight days of testimony, the jury returned with a ‘guilty’ verdict.  Based on that verdict, Turner could have faced up to 14 years in prison.  The judge sentenced him to 180 days in jail, saying …

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

With time off for “good behaviour”, Turner served only three months.

Well, it’s just happened again, folks.  It actually happened two years ago, but for reasons I will explain in a minute, has only made headlines this week.  An unnamed New Jersey teen, 16 years of age with the initials G.M.C. raped an unnamed, intoxicated, teenage girl, again at a party.  But, he didn’t stop there … he went on to video record himself raping the girl, then sent it to seven of his friends, texting them, [w]hen your first time having sex was rape.”

Monmouth County prosecutors in 2017 sought to charge the boy as an adult with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, among other charges.  His behavior, prosecutors said, was “sophisticated and predatory,” warranting a waiver of the juvenile to adult court.  I agree.  The rape itself was bad enough, but the fact that he recorded it and then bragged about it, sharing the recording with seven friends, to me indicates that there was no remorse whatsoever, that he was well aware that what he did was wrong, and that he was proud to have been a jerk.

The New Jersey family court judge, one Judge James Troiano, however, had other ideas.

“This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well…He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college.”

James Troiano

Judge James Troiano

He went on to say that that the boy’s alleged actions didn’t fit “the traditional case of rape” — which, according to him, occurs when “two or more men” “clearly manhandle” a victim at gunpoint.  Say WHAT???  When did the definition of ‘rape’ change to include guns and two or more men??? As to the teen’s text message to his friends referring to the rape, Troiano dismissed it as “stupid crap” a 16-year-old says to his friends.  Judge Troiano also noted that the young male had been an “Eagle scout”.  Oh, surely he must be pure of heart and spirit then, eh?  Oh yes, one more thing.  Judge Troiano said that the girl and her family should have been told that bringing charges against the boy could have a “devastating effect” on his life.  Again … Say WHAT???  Methinks the good judge has a mistaken notion of who is the victim here!

Now, two years later, an appellate court has overturned Troiano’s decision and also admonished Judge Troiano for deciding the case on his own, when he had only been tasked with deciding if the youth should be tried as an adult or a juvenile.  GMC will now be tried as an adult. And two days later, the same appellate panel overturned a similar ruling by another judge in the case of a 16-year-old male raping a 12-year-old female.  In that case, family court Judge Marcia Silva determined the teen’s actions were not “heinous” because the victim only lost her virginity and bled, which the judge believed was not “especially serious harm.”

Is this, then, the new culture in the United States?  It isn’t behaviour or morality, but only how much money one has that determines guilt or innocence, especially in cases of crimes against women?  Think about this … the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct multiple times, and his response was that “when you’re famous, they let you do it”.  We all remember the famous ‘grab ‘em by the {ahem}’ remark, right?  Do we women need to start carrying a baseball bat with us wherever we go?

And the whole thing begs the question … what if the young lad had been poor … what if he had been black or Hispanic?  Would the judge then have allowed him to be tried as an adult?  Would he have, perhaps, received a 20-year sentence?  What sort of message does this send to the children who had the luck-of-the-draw to be born into wealthy families?  Or poor families?  And when these wealthy spoiled brats get by with a slap on the wrist, what message does that send to them for their future?  “Oh, fine, as long as I stay rich, I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and suffer no consequences.”  We are one screwed up nation.  Think about it.

Links to posts about Ethan Couch:

And Brock Turner:

A Jaw-Dropping Headline …

The headline:

Failed Texas Bill Would Have Made Death Penalty Possible in Abortion Cases

Say WHAT???  You have got to be kidding me?!?!?! The story …

A bill considered by members of the Texas House of Representatives this week would have criminalized abortions and opened up the possibility for women and physicians to receive the death penalty.

The bill would have allowed women who obtained an abortion or doctors who performed one to be charged with assault or criminal homicide, the latter of which is punishable by death in Texas. It would have allowed no exceptions for abortions in cases of rape or when the health of the mother is at risk.

Yes, the bill failed to pass the Texas state legislature, with even some legislators who identify as being strongly “pro-life” feeling it went too far.  But I find the fact that somebody even thought of it to be chilling.

So, a young mother who already has two children, works two jobs to support them and still struggles to put food on the table and pay the rent, gets pregnant.  Knowing that she cannot possibly manage to support yet another child, she struggles, searches her soul, sheds many a tear, but at the end of the day she sees no choice.  She has an abortion.  Does anybody honestly think she should be punished at all, let alone be treated in the same way as a man who goes on a shooting spree in a mosque, or an African-American church and kills 10, 15, 20 people?  WHERE is the logic in this?

Worse yet, picture the woman who discovers, at the same time she finds she is pregnant, that she has cervical cancer and carrying the fetus to full term would likely cause her death.  Somebody in Texas thinks this woman should be arrested, sent to prison and put on death row for having an abortion in an effort to save her live?  Again I ask … WHERE is the logic in this?

Nobody can dispute that the U.S. has moved backward in terms of civil rights over the past two years.  Bigotry in all its ugly forms has expanded, obviously including misogyny.  One of Trump’s selling points in his campaign was that he would put judges on the bench who would be willing to overturn Roe v Wade, and he has placed two such judges on the Supreme Court so far.  What happens if Roe v Wade is overturned?  If we have people who honestly think that abortion is akin to murder, then folks, we are in deep trouble.

Women make up only 28.7% of all state legislatures in this country.  There are 127 (23.7%) women in the U.S. Congress.  It’s an improvement, but still not what I would define as equality.  I repeat what I said not too long ago … how would men like it if women decided whether or not they should be allowed their Viagra prescriptions?  Ponder on that one for a while.

Oh … one last thing here.  All those who claim to be “pro-life” … why aren’t they out there fighting hard for universal healthcare, for an expansion of social services to protect and preserve the lives of those who are living below the poverty line?  And why aren’t they vociferously speaking out against the death penalty?  If they aren’t doing those things, if abortion is the only area in which they are concerned about human life, then they aren’t ‘pro-life’, but rather they are misogynists, considering women to be second-class citizens.

Let’s rise up

I am very fortunate that among my male friends, there are very few misogynists, few who believe men are superior to women, or that women were put on this earth to be the playthings of men. Our friend Keith is among the most open-minded, fair men I know, and his post from two days ago is proof. As Keith points out, women are tired … of many things. And as he urges us … our vote must speak of our thoughts, of our tiredness, or our mindset. Thank you, Keith, for this caring post!


A terrific singer named Andra Day provided an anthem for women, but also forward thinking men as well. It is called “I’ll rise up.” Here is the final chorus which says let’s all rise up.

“Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousands times again
And we’ll rise up
Rise like the waves
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up.”

There has been a building crescendo worldwide, but especially here in the US, to say women matter. Women are tired of being taken advantage of by sexual predators, violent and controlling partners and men in power telling them what they can do with their bodies. Women are tired of people ignoring or demeaning them when they complain or accuse a violator. Women are tired of kitchen table issues like equal pay and healthcare gettimg ignored. Women are…

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It’s Still A Man’s World …

There were about 125.9 million adult women in the United States in 2014. The number of men was 119.4 million. At age 85 and older, there were almost twice as many women as men (4 million vs. 2.1 million).  Women, in other words, comprise over half the population of the United States.  Now, let’s look at Congress.

  • Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 84 are women, or 19.3%
  • Of the 100 members of the Senate, 23 are women … 23%

So, women comprise approximately 51.3% of the nation’s population, yet only a mere 20% of our main governing body.  Does anybody besides me see anything wrong with this picture??? And interestingly, of the 107 women in Congress, 78 are democrats and only 29 are republicans, a ratio of nearly 3:1.  And this, in spite of the fact that the republicans hold a majority in both chambers of Congress!womenBut, there is something wrong with the title of this post.  Yes, it is still, as the above statistics show, very much a man’s world.  But what about this …

  • Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 48 are African American, or 11%
  • Of the 100 members of the Senate, 3 are African-American, or 3%

African-Americans, in other words make up only 9.5% of our main governing body, even though they comprise 12.6% of the population.  A little closer than women, but still not equitable representation.gender gap.jpgThe point being that the U.S. Congress is largely comprised of white males.  And so, is it any wonder that when it comes time to confirm a potential Supreme Court justice, and the nominee is one who is likely, given the chance, to trample all over women’s rights, we are not represented?  When said nominee is also accused of having sexually assaulted women in his past, it doesn’t matter, for those who will judge him are white males, many of whom have likely done the same themselves.  They share a wink-wink and say, “Ahhh … the good ol’ days, eh?  But that’s long ago, and he shouldn’t have to pay for what he did 30+ years ago, right?”  And once again, we are not represented.  If you doubt that there is the pervasive attitude among some, but certainly not all men, that women are put on earth for their (men’s) pleasure, just look at how many men have been brought low in the past two years by the #MeToo movement.  Look at Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Mel Gibson, Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, and the list would take the next 15 pages or more, but you get the idea.

Remember Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer who received naught more than a slap on the wrist for raping an unconscious woman on campus after a party?   Even though he was found guilty on three felony counts, he got off lightly because a) his daddy had money, and b) well … boys will be boys, right — wink, wink?  The judge said he saw no reason to ruin young Turner’s life and sentenced him to only six months.  Turner served 90 days in prison.

The Senate Judiciary Committee that heard the testimony of both Dr. Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is comprised of 21 members:  11 republicans and 10 democrats.  The next day, Friday, a vote was held, and predictably 11 members voted to move Kavanaugh’s confirmation out of committee and to the full senate for a vote. 10 voted against.  Can you guess who voted how?  There are four women on the committee … all four are democrats.they-dont-careAfter the vote, retiring Senator Jeff Flake called for an investigation by the FBI prior to the full senate vote.  A noble gesture for which he is being lauded.  However, the fact is that he voted “Aye” in the committee vote speaks louder.  Another, Senator Lisa Murkowski, also called for an investigation prior to the full senate vote, leaving Donald Trump with no choice but to order the investigation.  However, he ordered a ‘limited’ investigation on Friday evening, giving the bureau only until next Friday to present their results.  I see this as paying lip-service, an attempt to appease those of us who believe that Brett Kavanaugh is not who or what he purports to be and is not qualified to sit on the highest court in the land.

angry Kav

The face of ugly

All else aside, Brett Kavanaugh has shown us an ugly side this week, vacillating between fury and whining.  Even if he hadn’t lied under oath and if he didn’t sexually molest Dr. Ford, his emotional instability and his lack of respect should disqualify him.  The behaviours he has exhibited this week would have disqualified any woman who had been facing a confirmation hearing.

My best guess is that either a) the FBI investigation will be so limited in scope and time that it will turn up nothing to disqualify Mr. Kavanaugh, or b) no matter what the investigation reveals, Kavanaugh will be confirmed anyway by the mostly male senate.  I hope I’m wrong.  I also hope that Brett Kavanaugh is not confirmed to the Supreme Court, for he is very much a partisan, and I fear will not ever be capable of being fair and impartial.  We shall see.

Women’s ‘Rights’? HAH!

Way back in the beginning days of this nation, women were not allowed to own property, nor were they allowed to vote.  Women were basically considered, as were African-Americans, to be chattel, possessions. women-property-rightsGradually … and I do mean gradually, ever so s-l-o-w-l-y … women gained a few human rights, such as the right to own property (1848-1895) and the right to vote (1920 – 19th Amendment).  It would be 1963 before it was decided that women should receive equal pay for performing the same job duties as men.

Women’s rights has been every bit as much a struggle as were civil rights for African-Americans, albeit not as violent.  By the end of the 20th century, most would tell you that women were now fully equal in the eyes of the law to men, that the barriers for women’s equality had been removed.  Remember back in the 1970s, the advertisements for Virginia Slims cigarettes, whose slogan was “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!”? virginia-super-slims-advertisement1.jpgBut in this, the year 2018, I would argue that we’ve still got a long way to go.  Two issues prove my point.

The first, is whether a woman has sovereign rights over her own body, and anyone but a fool knows the answer to that is that ‘no’. There is a push today, mainly by the Republican Party on behalf of the evangelical Christians, to deny women access to both birth control and abortion.  Strange, don’t you think, that there is no hue and cry about men obtaining drugs such as Viagra, but women and birth control is a different matter.

In 1973, the issue of abortion was settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Roe v Wade, and it was ruled that a woman has the right to seek an abortion if she so chooses.  But the ruling has been the subject of much criticism by Christian churches, and in 2016, when Donald Trump was campaigning for the office of president, he appealed to the evangelicals by promising to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v Wade.

Furthermore, access to birth control has been challenged and although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that employer-sponsored health insurance must provide coverage for birth control, again the Christian groups stepped in and the courts have ruled against women’s rights.  Newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is partly to thank for that one.

There is much, much more I could say about these assaults on women’s rights, but I want to move on to my second point, which is the one prevalent in today’s news, and that is the right of women to be respected, to be taken seriously, to not be turned into a sex object and the brunt of male perversity.

The subject, of course, is Dr. Christine Blasely, the woman who came forth to tell of the time, some 30+ years ago, that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party.  I won’t re-hash the details, for you’ve heard various versions likely hundreds of times in the past week unless you’ve been in a coma.  But my point is the abysmal treatment Dr. Blasely has been afforded ever since she came forward.  She has been called a ‘liar’, it has been suggested that she made up the story at the behest of the Democratic party, and she has received death threats.

Donald Trump and the members of our not-so-illustrious congress have cast aspersion on this woman and attempted every trick in the book to browbeat and bully her.  And in so doing, they have set women’s equality back decades.  Rather than jump to claim she is lying, why didn’t those in charge of the confirmation hearings order an investigation to bring the event into the open, to put to rest any doubts?  Why?  Because they know.  Somewhere deep down, they know that she is not lying.  They know that their esteemed Brett Kavanaugh is guilty as charged.  They know that this will likely, if taken seriously, be the nail in the coffin of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  And they know the price they will pay from the ‘man’ in the Oval Office if they fail to complete their mission of confirming Kavanaugh quickly before the democrats find their voice in November.

  • Senator Scott Newman: “Even if true, teenagers! Frankly, I don’t believe her.”
  • Kavanaugh spokesperson/activist Josh Marshall says it’s not clear that the incident was attempted rape as opposed to just “rough horseplay”.

Remember in 2016 when the Access Hollywood tape came out with Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about his treatment of women?  His defenders, despite evidence that he was indeed guilty of multiple cases of sexual abuse, brushed it off as only “locker room talk”.

Tell me, folks … if the tables were turned … if a female nominee were accused by a man of having groped him, attempted to disrobe him, and clapped her hand over his mouth in order to keep him from calling for help, would the senators be so glib?  I think not.  I think they would pretend to be horrified and decide early on that she was not qualified to sit on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court.  But, the ‘good ol’ boys’ network is alive and well, and instead of horror, there is a wink-wink, a knowing smile, and ultimately a confirmation of a man with too little integrity.

But understand, please, that Dr. Blasely is not the first, nor will she be the last woman to be treated in such a manner.  Women throughout the ages have been disbelieved or expected to accept sexual abuse as their due.  Sure, we’ve “come a long way, baby”, but make no mistake … women do not have equal rights in 21st century America, and I despair that we ever will.

**  Here are links to two excellent timelines of the history of women’s rights, in case you’re interested:

A Very Ugly Man …

It is difficult … nay, nearly impossible … to imagine that in this, the year 2018, there are still people who believe that women are a sub-standard segment of the human race.  What is even more difficult to grasp is that one such person is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate in November.  Allow me to introduce Courtland Sykes who is running for Senator from the state of Missouri against the incumbent, Claire McCaskill.

Courtland-SykesSykes, age 37, is a graduate of Harvard and an 8-year US Navy veteran.  How he even got into Harvard, let alone graduated, is beyond me.  Sykes left the military in 2011, and last year he co-founded a company, Talosorion, that is listed as a security firm, but what they actually do seems a bit obscure.  Sykes himself refers to the company as a ‘defense consulting firm’, but even on Talosorion’s website, there is nothing to say what they actually do.  According to Sykes, it is …

“… a consulting and education firm, frankly; specifically designed for military and special forces intelligence guys.”

The company lists its mission as “bridging military and diplomatic strategies.” Rather vague and obscure, don’t you think?  Per a September 2017 phone interview with the Kansas City Star, the firm has no clients. Bound to be a money-maker, yes?

And now, I will let Mr. Sykes speak to you in his own words …

“I don’t buy into radical feminism’s crazy definition of modern womanhood and I never did. They made it up to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads.”

“I don’t buy the non-stop feminization campaign against manhood. I want to come home to a home cooked dinner at six every night, one that Chanel [Sykes’ fiancée] fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix.”

“I don’t want them [his daughters] to grow up into career obsessed banshees who … become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she-devils.”

“… big media has become too many dumb blonds…too many leg dangles, too many ‘tee-hee’s,’ too many hate-Trump stories, too much ‘fake news,’ too many left-biased reporters, too much mud-slinging — the credibility is shot to hell and with it big media.”

“There is nothing more Anti-American than the modern day democrat.”

Had enough?  Sykes’ Facebook page  is filled with disgustingly vulgar images of prominent women such as Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and of course his opponent Claire McCaskill.

Sykes is an over-the-top Trump supporter, or as one writer said, “Trump-inspired populism on steroids”.  It is, however, unlikely that the favour will be returned in the form of an endorsement, as Trump has praised another candidate, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.  A visit to his website   tells us that his goals are:

  • To restore honour in politics
  • To support the freedom caucus
  • To fulfill Trump’s America First agenda

Sykes’ campaign video is a must-see, with warnings about immigration, crime and the possibility of nuclear war played over violent imagery before it transitions to a series of laudatory statements about Donald Trump.

Needless to say, my hackles were raised by his view on women, but the more I looked into this man’s ideology the more certain I am that he is 100% unqualified to run as dogcatcher, let alone U.S. Senator.  He says he would like to stop Muslim immigration “cold”, and that the United States is a “Christian nation”.  Sykes is also, not surprisingly, for unrestricted gun rights.

sykes gun ad.png“I oppose gun control absolutely. The right of Americans to keep and bear arms is constitutionally inviolate. No compromises on this. I am an NRA life-member. I hunt, conceal carry, collect guns, do competitive shooting, and attend gun shows. I totally oppose gun control.”

Unsurprisingly, Sykes is a fan of Breitbart.

“I like their authenticity. They’re bold and they’re fearless.”

There is much mystique surrounding Sykes’ background.  Originally from Arkansas, he has lived in Missouri less than a year.  When asked about his family, he said he preferred not to discuss family.  His LinkedIn page initially said he was a graduate student in London, but that was quickly taken down when it prompted questions. I strongly suspect that his campaign will not go far, so I am not too concerned about seeing him sitting in the U.S. Senate next year.  What does concern me, however, is that when I visited his Facebook page, I saw many comments agreeing with his biased views, cheering him on.  It disturbs me that there is a contingent of people in this nation, in the 21st century, when I thought we had grown and matured, who still have so much hatred toward all who are not white Christian males.  Has the world, in fact, turned upside down?