Monday, February 10, 2014

The Art of Selfish Giving

And the list of the top fifty wealthy donors is out and, as usual, the wealthy give large amounts of cash to places that just don’t need it. The worst was today’s story in the Los Angeles Times about Mark Zukerberg and his wife. He gave nearly a billion dollars to……drum roll, please…….the Silicon Valley Community Foundation!!!! Yes, he gave just under a billion to a foundation to upkeep the community that he and his fellow multi-millionaires and billionaires enjoy. Last I checked, Silicon Valley wasn’t knee deep in poverty. Frankly, I don’t call that charity.

Robert Reich wrote a really terrific column a few months back about how the wealthy donate and why. I really suggest everyone read’s it because it’s an eye-opener. Rich people do not give to places that need money. They make vanity donations or they start their own “foundations”, mostly for tax write offs. Or, in Larry Ellison’s case, to avoid massive fines by the SEC. They need to give money for tax purposes but they are loathed to give it without getting major recognition, like a big plaque or a building or a wing with their name on it. They also don’t like to give where they have zero say in how their money is spent. And they certainly don’t want to give to places where their fellow one percenters won’t see the plaque, wing, building, etc.

When you go through rich people’s donations, you see a long list of foundations they created, prestigious museums, prestigious universities, prestigious hospitals, etc. But you see very, very little giving to where the money is truly needed, like poverty programs.

I love looking at the list at the Chronicles of Philanthropy. The top Douchebag Award goes to Steve Schwarzman, who gave a MASSIVE donation this year to a CHINESE University! He gave $103 MILLION dollars to Tsinghua University. Wow, really, Mr. Schwarzman? A lot of AMERICAN students could have used a donation like that to one of our STATE UNIVERSITIES. Not the “MIT of China”. He claims he wants to start a “Rhoades Scholarship” type program that will help bridge the gap between the West and East. The founder of Blackstone? I seriously doubt it. More like he sees a good business opportunity. Mr. Schwarzman also gave to the Catholic organization Inner City Scholarship Fund, which seems less to do with caring about Catholic education and more about “education reform” (translation: smashing the public school system), the New York Library (apparently to get his name engraved into the hundred-year-old marble) and New Yorkers for Children (which looks more like a charity for socialites to show off their couture than anything) and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (probably the only decent charity he gives to).

If one goes through the list, you see a large amount of wealthy donors donating large amounts of money to foundations in their own name. George Mitchell is listed, even though he and his wife are dead (Mr. Mitchell this July, Mrs. Mitchell in 2009). But, according to this article, Mr. Mitchell’s foundation primarily funds the already well funded Texas A&M, the Houston Symphony and other Houston cultural icons. He also does the requisite, feel-good Boys & Girls Club and the Galveston Historical Society. But, like most of these of these foundations, the giving is more about image than about doing real charity work.

Another foundation is John Arnold’s. He is a wealthy Texas hedge funder. I have to give it his public relations people, they are good at obfuscating. I had to do some major digging to get to the heart of this “foundation”, which is more politically motivated. This foundation is heavily involved with the “education reform”, which should really be called, “privatization and corporatizing” of our public school system. The foundation also seems to be involved in creating laws to destroy state pension funds. I hardly call this “charity”.

Another one on the list is the Omidyar Network. This was created by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar. This looks like ANYTHING but charity. It’s nothing but funding businesses. How does this even qualify for charitable status? That is called INVESTING. Investing is not charity. When a group funds both for-profit AND non-profit businesses (just the fact that it’s funding businesses in the first place should be a disqualifier), it should not be granted charitable status. He also gave to the Hawiian Community Foundation, which is a very well endowed foundation that looks good on paper but seems to have some serious internal problems. And his wife’s “HopeLab” just seems utterly frivolous when people are suffering from real problems. I am sure Mr. Omidyar thinks that he is one of the “good guys” but, frankly, he’s just another out of touch, “born on third”.

Another Silicon Valley gazillionaire on the list is Sergey Brin, founder of Google. He also gave to his own foundation that he create with his now soon-to-be ex-wife. And, again, it’s a “good on paper” foundation (though maybe I shouldn't bitch too much, as they gave $500K to Wikimedia) but really does very little in the way of “charity”. When you do any digging, the foundation gives here and there to other foundations. Yes, curing Parkingson’s Disease is a nice goal but, one foundation giving to another is just not helpful. In this case, this foundation giving to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is already incredibly well-funded because of Mr Fox’s celebrity. And, frankly, there is already a ton of funding going to universities for this type of research.

Here’s the big problem with rich people’s donations to any kind of medical institution. They don’t allow the facility to put the money to use where it’s NEEDED. They want it used in specific ways, even if it’s not the most necessary or efficient use of the funds. And, with the wealthy, they tend to give to prestigious but already extremely well-funded medical facilities and shy away from places that NEED the money. My favorite example is Barbara Streisand’s very large donation to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center here in Los Angeles. If you live in Southern California, everyone knows that Cedars is the Cadillac of hospitals, where the wealthy go to get treated. Trust me, they aren’t hurting for money.

Another example is David Koch’s large donation to New York Presbyterian Hospital/Morgan-Stanley Children’s Hospital. Yes, this is a very well funded hospital (just having the children’s hospital named after the now defunct Morgan-Stanley is kind of a giveaway). But, then again, Mr. Koch is a douchebag philanthropist. He heaps large amounts of money on the richest art museum in the nation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here’s the deal with the Met……since its inception, it’s been a one-percenter’s favorite “charity”. Anyone who’s anyone in that sphere, from Vanderbilts down to Annerberg, have their names plastered all over that museum and have left their vast art collections to the Met. It’s a badge of honor for the wealthy. So, the next time you go to the Met and you see that “recommended donation”….ignore it. That is one museum that does NOT need your money. Just tell them David Koch paid for you. Read “Rogue’s Gallery”. It paints a very greedy and ugly picture of the Met.

But back to Mr. Koch. His “charity” goes to places that either serve his needs or where he can plaster his name where other one percenters can see it. He donates to programs for prostate cancer research because HE suffers from….prostate cancer!! The man has never given a dime to people who truly need it. His favorite “charities” are universities like MIT and John Hopkins, both of which have huge endowments. He also funded the Met, the Smithsonian and American Museum of Natural History (another well funded museum). And, along with New York Presbyterian Hospital (his donation is building a new outpatient building to be named after him), he donated to Mt. Sinai Medical Center, so that it’s Jaffe Food Allergy Institute could be renamed after him. He doesn’t give a dime unless his name is put up. Nice guy.

Another winner in the Douchebag Giver race is Los Angeles’ very own miser, Charles Munger. Mr. Munger is one of Warren Buffet’s partners. And, no, I don’t worship at the altar of the almighty Buffet. Mr. Munger likes to hide his background (it requires some digging) but you find out that Mr. Munger is just another member of the “born on third” club. Dad was an attorney in Omaha, who went on to be a United States District Judge. Munger’s giving is a laundry list of one percent giving. A long time resident of Los Angeles, Mr. Munger donates a lot of his money to his one alma mater, University of Michigan. UofM is THE most well-funded universities in the state of Michigan, thanks to many very wealthy donors. Plus the fact that the University’s football team, the Wolverines, is one of the most winning and a powerhouse team. UofM has a very LARGE endowment. Mr. Munger also donates to Stanford University, one of the wealthiest private universities in the world, to the Marlboro School
, a chi-chi private school his wife attended, Harvard-Westlake school, another chi-chi private school where the spoiled brats of the rich and stupid of Los Angeles attend and Polytechnic School, a VERY pricey private prep school in Pasadena that Mr. Munger is an alumna of. He has also given substantial amounts to the Huntington Library and Gardens (the former residence of railroad tycoon Henry Huntington….another very well-funded entity). Another one who thinks that charity begins at home in the mansion.

I know what you are saying, “Why should I care what rich people do with their money?” Well, normally, I wouldn’t give a damn, either. But, like everything else with the wealthy, they like to outsource their donating. In this case, it’s with large tax write-offs. Which means, dear fellow Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, we are helping to foot these people’s largess through our taxes that WE PAY. Not only do these people NOT pay their fair share, they are even making us pay for their so-called “charity”. WE get to help them put their names on buildings through our taxes. And they get to be congratulated for their faux-generosity!

Robert Reich, the award-winning Professor of Economics at University of California, Berkeley, who has served in the administrations of Presidents Ford and Carter and was Labor Secretary for President Clinton, explains the tax issue much better than I could ever do it….”In economic terms, a tax deduction is exactly the same as government spending. Which means the government will, in effect, hand out $40 billion this year for “charity” that’s going largely to wealthy people who use much of it to enhance their lifestyles.

To put this in perspective, $40 billion is more than the federal government will spend this year on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (what’s left of welfare), school lunches for poor kids, and Head Start, put together.”

Do you think it’s right that Ron Lauder (heir to the Estee Lauder fortune) will get to write off the whole amount he spent to purchase the famous Klimt Adele Bloch-Bauer painting ($135 MILLION he spent on the Klimt) because he “donated” the painting to the Neue Gallerie? That’s not charity, friends. That’s a multi-millionaire avoiding taxes and screwing us, the taxpayers. He couldn’t have even donated it to a real museum (even to the greedy Metropolitan Museum), where the great unwashed could enjoy it. It’s to a “museum” that Ron Lauder owns and where the painting currently resides. It’s not a “museum”, it’s a gallery to house Mr. Lauder and his partner’s art collection and get a write-off. Nice.

I am sick of hearing how the rich give more. As you can see, they don’t. There are a few exceptions but for the most part, the wealthy only give to things that benefit them. But, I do have to give a shout out to some of the good guys.

The Motion Picture and Television Fund is a great example of a community that takes care of it’s own, which is actually the MPTF’s motto. You may think that it’s the movie industry paying for other wealthy movie people. But, it’s not. The MPTF is for the whole entertainment community. It helps actors and crew members in times of need. It run health clinics, helps with financial aid and other services. If you have been a member of one of the entertainment industry unions, you are eligible. It’s funded through payroll donations and various fundraisers. The nursing/retirement home is a nice one and has taken care of the entertainment industry’s elderly. You do not have to be a big star to get care. But everyone in the industry gives.

In 2006, the nursing home was threatened to be closed. After much press, many in the industry came together and contributed to keep the home open. And the nursing/retirement home is still open. It shows how when everyone, rich and poor, work together, good things can happen.

There was some other donors on the list who actually gave, it seems, from the heart. Jeffrey Carlton, founder and CEO of Press Forge in Paramount, CA, gave a large donation to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, where he had been a patient. Hoag IS in a wealthy area but it treats people from many communities. The foundation that was set up after his death is for three other charities, Impact Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facility in Pasadena, St. Jude’s Research Hospital and Paralyzed Veterans of America, which will each get a quarter of Mr. Carlton’s $212 million. Mr. Carlton died in 2012. And, the nicest part? His donations are all unrestricted. Which means he left the donations to the discretion of the organizations to use as they needed.

The only other person on the list to give to a charity that benefits the others besides the one percent was Seattle lawyer, Jack MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald did not live the life of a multi-millionaire. He wore threadbare clothing and clipped coupons and lived at a not-so-fancy retirement home. When he died at the ripe old age of ninety-eight, very few knew how much money he actually had. Having no children, he left his fortune to Children’s Hospital of Seattle, the Salvation Army and University of Washington’s School of Law. They get to split up $187.6 million dollars.

As with so many of our laws, we need to take a serious look at our charitable giving tax laws. I really don’t care if David Koch wants to give money so that people will build monuments to his over-inflated ego. But, the taxpayers should not be forced to pay for his vanity. We need to look at endowments of universities and tell the public ones that they either need to provide more scholarships with the money or find a way to use the money more efficiently. No public university should be sitting on BILLION or even multi-million dollar endowments. Private universities should be told that they need to start finding better uses for their endowments or get faced with taxes on the money. And we need to start setting up better oversight. If someone wants to make a non-tax deductible donation, that’s their business. But, once you involve the IRS, it becomes ALL our businesses. And, sorry guys, I am just not thrilled with giving more money to the Met, Harvard, Stanford, New York hospitals, Cedars-Sinai or “foundations” set up by rich people to give as they want while we get to pay forty percent. Charitable giving is just another tax dodge for the wealthy. We need to say enough. And when rich people say, “Well, look how much we give!” just tell them that Harvard doesn’t count.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Questioning Motives In the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen Case

I remember as a kid, seeing Woody Allen and having an adverse reaction. Don’t ask me why, as I was much too young to see any of his movies and these were the days where the only place to see movies like his were in the movie theaters. But, I remember that if I saw his face on a magazine or on television, I always just felt this immediate feeling of “yuck”.

As a teenager, I did try to watch a couple of his movies. I never could get through more than twenty minutes. I just never felt good watching them. I just told myself that I wasn’t a fan. But, I always remember that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought I was weird to have such feelings.

I was a young newlywed when the news of Mr. Allen’s “affair” with Soon-Yi Previn broke. Ms. Previn and I are around the same age, with myself being a couple of years older. I remember thinking, “Wow, my gut was right. Eeeew.” But, at the age of 23, I was more interested in my new husband and starting our new life.

A few months later, the story about Dylan broke. I again remember reading about it and going, “Oh, wow. He is sicker than I thought.” But, again, being young and frivolous, I paid the cursory attention, read about it in People Magazine, saw the news, heard the banter. But nothing beyond that. But, in all the years I have only watched one Woody Allen movie. “Match Point” was a brilliant film and I adore Jonathan Rhys Meyers but, again, I still didn’t feel good about watching it. And I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch any of his other movies. Even John Cusack couldn't entice me to watch "Bullets Over Broadway" or "Shadows And Fog".  And I love John Cusack! It wasn't that Woody Allen just isn’t my taste. I have several filmmakers that I just don’t care for. Their movies never made me feel uncomfortable for just watching them.

But now, I am forty-five years old. I have a daughter who was the same age as Ms. Previn. And there is a thing that did not exist back in 1992. The Internet.

When Dylan Farrow’s letter came out last Sunday, it really gave me a shock. I had read about Ronan’s and Mia Farrow’s Twitters. But, reading Dylan’s letter really moved me. But, then I was repulsed by the outpouring of hate and anger being heaped onto this young woman by legions of Woody Allen fans and Male Rights Advocates, who were hammering her with even more abuse. Then, I found the Daily Beast article from January, written by Woody Allen’s documentarian, Robert Weide. Weide, who was seemingly upset by the October 2013 article written by Maureen Orth in Vanity Fair. That piece, which was an update from her previous piece that was written in 1992, which had covered the Allen-Farrow child custody trial and child molestation case The Weide article was a hit piece on Mia Farrow, masquerading as an impartial look at the facts. The Weide piece was being passed around by Allen fans like it was the Testament of Robert Weide in the Holy Book of Woody Allen. Every time anyone wrote anything in support of Dylan Farrow, this article was linked. I am sure the hits are in the millions on the Daily Beast for this article.

When I read the Weide piece, along with Ms. Orth article (Ms. Orth is a prize-winning investigative journalist and widow of NBC’s Tim Russert), I decided to do my own research. I never take someone’s word and I always like to get more than one source or a source that is impeachable. So, I sat down with my favorite research partner, Google (and few of my other little search friends that I use), and I proceeded to read. And I read. And I found the original ruling by Judge Wilk. That was my first long read. I then found a great piece written by investigative reporter Andy Thibault, who worked for a local Litchfield, CT paper at the time and is now currently with Connecticut Magazine. He did a piece on the molestation case and State’s Attorney Frank Maco. That, too, was a major eye opener. I also found many articles from the time from the New York Times, the LA Times, the Orlando Sentinel, People Magazine and other sources that had chronicled the story. And I compared them to both the Weide piece and the Orth piece. Take a wild guess who’s piece stood up to fact check? Here’s a huge hint… wasn’t Mr. Weide’s. And I managed to do all this in under twenty-four hours of reading Dylan’s letter. It prompted me to write my two blog pieces, "Why Do We Blame Victims?" and "A Rebuttal To Robert Weide's Daily Beast Article On Woody Allen".   I do not fancy myself a professional anything and I don’t play one on television. But, I would pit my amateur post against Mr. Weide’s piece any day of the week and twice on Sunday. At least my facts can be verified and I didn't edit them to fit an agenda.

After all of this, I was angry. Not just angry but damn angry. I was angry that the media took the Weide piece as truth, right off the bat, and past it around. I heard that piece read EVERYWHERE. I heard it being regurgitated on my favorite morning talk show, “The Stephanie Miller Show”. A progressive show, they read and took Robert Weide’s word like it was chapter and verse. Chris LaVoie made comments like, “We will never know”, without bothering to even look at anything else. They regurgitated the unfounded “nuts and sluts” accusations against Mia Farrow, who has never done anything to deserve it. Little did they know that they were simply parroting the words of Woody Allen and his team of lawyers and public relations people. And, if one of my favorite progressive show was saying this, I could only imagine what the others in the media were saying! It was just sickening that so many people thought that there was something crazy about a mother being upset with her fifty-something year old lover seducing her nineteen-year-old daughter (the Allen camp likes to bump up Ms. Previn’s age. Ms. Previn was adopted from Korea without a birth certificate and her age was estimated. Ms. Farrow and Mr. Previn had a medical exam done, with a bone scan and they estimate that she was born around 1971-1973…..I was born in 1969, you do the math). To hear them talk, you would think it was normal for mothers and daughters to “compete” for men. And that mothers act “jealous” of their daughters. Here’s a clue from a mother of a teenage daughter…..we don’t compete for men with our kid. But we do want to dice into little bitty pieces predatory old men who seduce our teen girls! When you do the research, those stories come back to Woody Allen and an interview he gave to “60 Minutes”. As I have stated many times, I am not a fan of Mia Farrow’s. I can honestly say I have not seen any of her movies. And I am a huge movie fan, as well as a Hollywood history buff.   But, since most of her movies have been done with either Roman Polanski (a director who’s movies I refuse to watch because he raped a little girl) or Mr. Allen, I haven’t watched her work. But, I am a mom. And the mom of a teenage girl. So, frankly, I completely understand her pain. And, yes, I am aware of her defense of Roman Polanski.  But, as my husband likes to say, "What does that have to do with the price of eggs?"  Do I like that she supported Roman Polanski?  No.  But it's irrelevant.

I’d get even more frustrated when I’d read an article or a blog and the same, tired lines from The Book of Woody Allen were posted over and over and over. When I would post links to either the articles I found or my blog post with all the links, I was not only rejected but I was dressed down. Many lawyerly types would tell me that I “didn’t understand the criminal justice system”, as Mr. Allen was never prosecuted. Well, I know that you don’t have to go to law school to know that it’s not libelous to post facts. And I also know that not being charged with a crime is NO T the same as being found “not guilty” by a court of law. A certain former New York prosecutor made some interesting claims that Mr. Allen “passed a lie detector” (wow, I thought the correct term was polygraph). When I presented her the evidence that there was no proof that Mr. Allen did take the test (and, Counselor, if you do read this, I do want to point out that I was right……he refused to take one administered by the Connecticut State Police but had one done by his own team. It was rejected by both the Connecticut State Police and by Judge Wilk), I was told that I was wrong! And that has been the basic reaction from Woody Allen supporters. If you present them with facts, they just shout you down and tell you how wrong you are.

So, for several days, the only truth being told was Woody Allen’s. If anyone dared try to correct information that deviated from the “Mia Farrow is a crazy bitch out to get Woody Allen, poor guy!”, you were either dismissed out of hand, told you were “emotional” or “ill-informed” or that you just want everyone to always believe victims without question. I was inundated with stories of how so many custody cases were marred by false child sexual abuse allegations, how “we’ll never know” what happened and that anyone who just wanted to show that there was some meat on the bone of the story was on “Team Mia”. I keep saying, I am on “Team Facts”.

Finally, the tide started to turn. Woody Allen’s team made a huge mistake. First, Mr. Allen sent his attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, who also happened to have represented him in the original custody case and against the molestation charges. Mr. Abramowitz savaged Mia Farrow on “The Today Show” and tells the world that Dylan had these memories “implanted” by Mia Farrow because of Mia Farrow’s “jealousy” over Mr. Allen’s relationship (for lack of a better word) with Ms. Farrow’s daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. Then, a few days later, Dylan’s Yale-New Haven evaluation lands on Radar Online. Now, the only people to have this would be Mr. Abramowitz, Ms. Farrow’s attorney and the Court. Since these are behavioral evaluations, they are not available for public records. So, only one of the lawyers would have leaked it. Mr. Abramowitz kept claiming on “The Today Show” that this evaluation “exonerates” Woody Allen. And a few days later, they end up on Radar Online leaked in convenient .PDF form for everyone to download, violating Dylan’s privacy even further. And, of course, only the part that made Woody Allen look good were leaked.

Then, the Woody Allen “60 Minutes” interview is posted and promoted on the CBS News website. If you have never seen it, it is a jaw-dropping, shocking piece. If this was meant to help Mr. Allen’s case, it backfired. The whole piece highlights exactly what Judge Wilk referenced in his ruling. He is very self-absorbed, callous and cold. He has no empathy for Mia Farrow and the way she found the pornographic pictures of her daughter in his apartment. He treats the Valentine she gave him as a death threat, when it was an expression of the pain he caused her. He tells unverifiable stories of threats by Ms. Farrow, shows no concern for his children and doesn’t even show concern for Soon-Yi Previn. He makes no mention of how the turmoil affected Soon-Yi. It’s shocking how little he cares about anyone other than himself. The worst part of it was when asked about when Mia found the pictures. His reaction was so non-chalant, so, “Yeah, so?” Even the interviewer looks somewhat taken back at his reaction.

So, I am sure you are wondering why am I so engrossed in this case? Even I had to sit back and ask myself why. What it boils down to is that too many were just too willing at first, to jump on Woody Allen’s side and savage Mia Farrow. This wasn’t about Mia Farrow. This was about Dylan. In 1992, Woody Allen had one thing going for him…..there was no Internet. He could say whatever he wanted and people couldn’t check his story. They believed him blindly. But, unfortunately for Mr. Allen, it’s now 2014. He just can’t take out his script from 1992 and give it a polish. I hear that Mr. Allen has refused to embrace technology. And I think that will be his undoing. His open letterthat he wrote and was put out on Friday in the New York Times,  is too easily fact checked. And, it looks like the media has decided that he doth protest too much and is starting to look at his story with a critical eye. And they are not liking what they are seeing. Because, it seems to be the same script that he had in 1992 from the "60 Minutes" interview.

And there is another unpleasant fact. Mr. Allen and Ms. Previn adopted two girls. When you read  Judge Wilk’s decision, all you ask is, “Who in the name of all that is stupid would give this man children?” According to Maureen Orth’s article, it seems Dylan’s Department of Children and Family Services file has “disappeared”. That file was tagged “indicated”, which means that Mr. Allen was investigated for child abuse. At the least, one has to be concerned with what Judge Wilk determined about Mr. Allen’s lack of parenting skills. And, at worst, we look at the facts of the molestation case. It makes you hope that maybe something more in depth will come out of this. It’s too late for Dylan’s case. But I don’t have a good feeling about the children residing in Mr. Allen’s home. When he started his “relationship” (again, for lack of a better word) with Ms. Previn, she was very young. She left her family to be with Mr. Allen, cutting herself off from any support outside of Mr. Allen. Andre Previn disowned her. She has been estranged from her mother and siblings. She has no life outside of Woody Allen. She has nothing that isn’t Mr. Allen’s. Her very life depends on Mr. Allen. I don’t have very great hopes that Ms. Previn would be any kind of protector of her children.

When I look around the Internet and see all the comments, it saddens me that the old “a little nutty and a little slutty” strategy still works so well. So many people have been so easily lead away from the point by Woody Allen screaming, “MIA FARROW!” It seems Mr. Allen wants you to look away from Dylan and only look at Mia Farrow. You need to ask yourself this, how much have you actually read about this case? Have you actually heard Mia Farrow speak out on this case, other than the few comments she has made on Twitter? Has Mia Farrow sent out attorneys? No. She is being a mom and is taking the hits for her kid. She is letting Dylan have her say. Now, you have to ask yourself, “Why is Woody Allen doing all of this?” Wouldn’t it have just been simple to have made a sensitive, declarative statement like, “While I am very sadden to see that Dylan still believes I harmed her, I still love her and I don’t wish to distress her further. I still maintain that I never harmed Dylan. I love my daughter and I wish that none of this sadness had ever happened. I hope one day we can reconcile.” Wow, is that hard? But, have you seen ANYTHING from Woody Allen that says anything close to this statement in that diatribe he wrote? Do you see any love for her?  You can see the outright contempt he has for Ronan, which seems to have been the case since his birth.  Maybe Mr. Allen wants Ronan to be Frank Sinatra's kid, so that he can justify his feelings that he has always held against Ronan.

You really have to question if an innocent man could be this cold, callous and vindictive, even after twenty years. If he has to constantly point to Mia Farrow and say that she is still out to get him, after twenty years, who really deserves to be labeled, “Nuts”? I think his obfuscation and misdirected anger speak very loudly, as do his actions of sending out his attorney to bad-mouth Mia Farrow and Dylan Farrow. Why bring up Ronan's paternity?  And, you really have to ask yourself, “Why bring a nuclear bomb when a flyswatter would have been more than enough?”

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Rebuttal To Robert Weide's Daily Beast Article On Woody Allen

As I keep reading the fall out of Dylan Farrow’s open letter about the abuse she says she suffered at the hands of Woody Allen, the article that keeps getting tossed around is by Robert Weide, that was published by The Daily Beast. Now, I love reading the Daily Beast but, in this case, the fact checkers must have taken the day off when this piece came about.

Mr. Weide is obviously another member of the Woody Allen Sycophant club, though he denies it throughout his piece. But, his piece is sorely lacking in empathy for Dylan Farrow and the rest of the children of Mia Farrow for the harm that Woody Allen caused. And, not just for the possible molestation of Dylan, which is horrendous enough. But for his general lack of humanity. From screwing their sister, Soon-Yi Previn, to the horrendous name calling of Mia Farrow (their mother) to his attempt to get custody of the three children he shared with Mia Farrow after the accusations of molestation came out. When you read the court summaries, Mr. Allen comes off as a monster of narcissism and his lack of empathy for anyone but himself is just disgusting.

The comments that Mr. Weide make are very telling of where Mr. Weide’s allegiances’lie. From Mr. Weide’s article: “Because he doesn’t go online, he was blissfully unaware of how much ink (sorry, bandwidth) the story was getting. If he had known, he still wouldn’t have cared. Mia’s accusations were old business, and the fact that Ronan was publicly chiming in meant nothing to Woody, who hadn’t even seen his (alleged) son for 20 years” Wow. This from a man who spent a lot of money trying to get custody of this “alleged” son. Ronan and Mr. Allen had a very difficult relationship, pretty much from day one. Mr. Allen blames Ms. Farrow, of course. But, his therapist, Dr. Coates, tried to show him that it was his lack of patience with the child and lack of attention that was causing the issues. The court also saw this and did try to encourage a relationship between Ronan and Mr. Allen but only under supervision. The story that does NOT get bandied about by the Woody Allen Sycophant Club or by Mr. Weide is when Ronan (then Satchell) was three and Mr. Allen was trying to get Ronan out of bed one morning. Ronan kicked him and told him to go away. Mr. Allen refused and Ronan kept kicking. Mr. Allen grabbed Ronan’s leg and twisted it, saying, “I’m going to break your fucking leg!” Ms. Farrow had to intervene. Dylan told this story to the Connecticut State Police. After the trial, Ronan was forced to continue visitations with Mr. Allen. There was another incident of Ronan kicking Mr. Allen and Mr. Allen getting physical with Ronan……this time, grabbing Ronan by the neck and throwing him onto the couch. Ronan continued to refuse to have anything to do with Mr. Allen and would throw tantrums in the office of his therapist during supervised visits. When he started to make himself sick, the therapist finally made the suggestion to the court to end the visitation. Ronan was seven. But Mr. Allen just doesn't care.

More evidence of where Mr. Weide’s loyalties lie is just this sentence…..”He then counseled me not to use up my ‘remaining days’ fretting over Mia.” In fact, his article goes over Ms. Farrow’s relationships with Andre Previn and Frank Sinatra, saying that because she was of similar age as Ms. Previn when she became involved with both men, that the two situations are comparable. Mr. Weide’s moral compass needs some balancing if he truly believes this. Ms. Previn was Ms. Farrow’s DAUGHTER. Mr. Allen was having a sexual relationship with her and Ms. Farrow found out by finding sexually explicit pictures of Ms. Previn on his mantle. I’m sorry, but pictures of your nude daughter, spread-eagle are not “erotic” or “artistic”. I’m also a photographer. When the pink is showing, that’s porn.

Another thing Mr. Weide fails to address is the very distressing way Mr. Allen handled this whole messy affair. He could not see (and still doesn't) why this was such an issue. And the courts really took notice of this. Not just Judge Wilk. Even the Appeals Court made the same observations when they denied Mr. Allen’s appeals. That was the biggest sticking points for everyone, when it came to the custody case. Woody Allen was an unsuitable parent to the three children. He would never acknowledge the Previn children. He differentiated between the biological children and the adopted children. He created chaos in the household with the staff, trying to turn everyone against one another. And he never accepts any responsibility for any of his behavior, which he does to this day.

Another tell is this very offensive sentence: “Did this event actually occur? If we’re inclined to give it a second thought, we can each believe what we want, but none of us know.” Wow. What a very insensitive thing to say about someone who was a victim. And, Mr. Weide, the courts believed Dylan. The police believed Dylan. The State’s Attorney believed Dylan. The only ones who didn't believe Dylan were people on Woody Allen’s payroll and sycophants like you. Again, if you go to the summaries of both the custody case AND the appeal, the courts both state that they think that Dylan was abused, that Ms. Farrow did NOT coach this child and that Mr. Allen is an unsavory person, who they denied custody to. If you believe that Ms. Farrow is such a great actress that she could fool a the first judge AND the Appellate Justices who heard the appeal and brainwash them , well, then, you are pretty gullible.

Mr. Weide also claims, “authorities never found credible evidence to support Mia’s (and Dylan’s) claim.” Again, not true. Mr. Maco found Dylan credible and felt he had enough to charge Mr. Allen. But, he felt Dylan was just too fragile. Mr. Allen played very dirty and, with his lack of empathy for anyone but himself, there is just no doubt that he would put that child through the wringer again, just to “win”. Mr. Maco did what was best for Dylan in the short term. The custody case had been torture for all the children in the Farrow family. Ms. Farrow had sole custody. To move forward would have not been in Dylan’s best interest. But, again, the only people who found Dylan not credible were on Woody Allen’s payroll or were sycophants. That is according to the judges. And it’s extremely offensive when you keep claiming that these claims are “Mia’s”. When you do that, you discount Dylan and her feelings. I know Woody Allen means a lot to you but to smear the victim and her mother are just low.

Now let’s address Mr. Weide’s statement about the Yale-New Haven evaluation. Dylan was evaluated NINE TIMES. That was highly excessive and not in Dylan’s best interest. And, Doctor Leventhal NEVER INTERVIEWED DYLAN. The team did. Yet, Dr. Leventhal wrote the report. Also, the team destroyed their notes, which is highly usual. That, in itself, made their report useless, as the court cannot make a determination without them. Also, the team would not testify. It would only give a deposition, which also made their evaluation very suspect. The judges in both the custody case and the appeal said that they wouldn't give the report much weight because of these reasons.

Mr. Weide also makes much about the pediatric exam, where Dylan didn’t come right out with the story. If you read the court summary, it’s not unusual for a child not to be immediately forthcoming and that the pediatrician told Ms. Farrow to bring Dylan back the next day. It’s embarrassing for a child to talk about. Even Ms. Farrow stated to her attorney, “I hope it’s just one of her fantasies.”

The nanny who recanted is laughable. Her salary was paid by Mr. Allen. What makes us believe that a woman, on his payroll, isn’t going to lie for him? As for what the other nanny said, that’s not even up for debate, as it’s hearsay. The other nanny has never confirmed that she said that.

I want to address the infamous polygraph. There is NO MENTION in either of the court summaries (first custody hearing and in any of the appeals) of Mr. Allen taking a polygraph or Ms. Farrow refusing to take one. When you do a search, you find articles, from that time, that come from MR. ALLEN’S ATTORNEY, J. Martin Obten. Mr. Obten also further states that he doesn't know who administered the test. Wow, that’s compelling! There is some articles alluding to an interview Mr. Allen did with "60 Minutes", where he gave the results to them and, possibly, "a battery of psychological tests", which, supposedly, Mr. Allen "passed". Was the doctor who gave the evaluations interviewed? Who witnessed the admission of the evaluations? What evaluations were used? These need to be answered because "passing tests" (you don't "pass" tests....evaluations is the key word) is vague. I can give you a diploma with my name on it that said I went to Harvard. It doesn't make it true. If you try to find anything concrete, you come up empty. And where did the story of Ms. Farrow refusing to take a polygraph come from? Because, in the stories at the time, there is no mention of it. And Mr. Allen spread the mud high and wide, saying she was a drunk and a pill popper, his sister saying that she was a “second-rate actress and a bad mother” and his friends spreading nasty rumors. As for the tape of Dylan being leaked by Ms. Farrow…..again, baseless. You can do the research yourself. All allegations always circle back to Mr. Allen’s camp but nothing concrete. It’s all rumor.

As for Mr. Maco being rebuked by the disciplinary panel….yes, that happened. The part Mr. Weide doesn’t discuss was that Mr. Allen’s team had private detectives investigating everyone involved in the case in Connecticut, looking for dirt. While what Mr. Maco did was probably out of line when he sent his report to the New York Surrogate Court, who was deciding the fate of the status of Mr. Allen’s adoption (and that adoption is another subject to discuss… that was not the correct avenue to go), Mr. Allen was involved in some activity that was not only questionable but possibly illegal.

I want to know……are Moses Farrow's claims that are in Mr. Weide’s article in his documentary? Did he speak to Moses Farrow? Because I did a pretty wide search and I came up with nothing. Even his Twitter feed is void. Moses Farrow has been completely mum for many years about the whole issue and is a Marriage and Family Counselor in Connecticut. And, after the bombshell this weekend, he is still mum. But, he had plenty to say at the time. He was very angry with Mr. Allen and wrote him a letter expressing his feelings. Of course, Mr. Allen attributed the letter to Ms. Farrow because, to him, it’s inconceivable that anyone would be angry with him for any of his actions. (An update on this.....apparently, what Mr. Weide said was true. Moses Farrow has spoke to People Magazine with the claims made by Mr. Weide. But, a reminder from the court summary...."With respect to Satchel, the IAS Court denied the petitioner's request for unsupervised visitation. While the court stated that it was not concerned for Satchel's physical safety, it was concerned by Mr. Allen's "demonstrated inability to understand the impact that his words and deeds have upon the emotional well being of the children". We agree. The record supports the conclusion that Mr. Allen may, if unsupervised, influence Satchel inappropriately, and disregard the impact exposure to Mr. Allen's relationship with Satchel's sister,"…..yes, they said it about Satchel but the point is that Mr. Allen was singled out by the court as the parent to be the one who would have inappropriate influence. Just food for thought.  But, I do have to say that I find his remarks about his father's relationship with his sister a bit alarming for a licensed Marriage and Family Counselor.  But, that is my own personal opinion. )

As for Mr. Allen and Ms. Previn adopting…..apparently, Dylan’s DCFS file has disappeared. Supposedly, it had been marked "indicated". Now, this I will tell you was according to Maureen Orth's Vanity Fair article, so you can give it what ever weight you will. But, that is probably how Mr. Allen and Ms. Previn were allowed to adopt. Not to mention how wealthy Mr. Allen is. It seems that things become less stringent when you have a lot of money and good lawyers. Look at how he was able to adopt Moses and Dylan. Adopting children of a single mother who had previously adopted them? And not being married to the mother? In 1991, that was unheard of.

I also love how Mr. Weide tries to muddy Ms. Farrow by using her brother’s conviction for child molestation. As with him trying to compare her marriages to older men (whom she had very good relationships after the divorces) to Mr. Allen’s disgraceful actions with Ms.Previn, this, too, falls flat. Let’s address two points. One, her brother, John Farrow (not the director) is in prison for his crimes. Two, what does her brother's conviction have to do with Dylan? You did not see Ms. Farrow defending her brother. And it doesn't seem like they were very close. It was just another way to sully Ms. Farrow. As was his bringing up Ms. Farrow's support of Roman Polanski. Again, that is trying to divert attention from Dylan's claims to Mia Farrow and to make it about Mia Farrow. And, for the record, Woody Allen also supported Roman Polanski.

Another quote in Mr. Weide’s defense of Mr. Allen says, “To remind readers that the woman is recalling memories from the age of seven, when a six-month investigation characterized her as being “emotionally disturbed,” and making statements that were likely “coached or influenced by her mother,” takes a little more than 140 characters.” He keeps saying he doesn’t want to abuse Dylan but he keeps making these statements, which is pretty much slut-shaming. Again, the only people who have made these allegations were people who were either in Woody Allen’s employ or who were in awe of Mr. Allen. Basically ONE report. And it’s a highly questionable one, where the team tore up their notes and no one on the team would testify. They would only gave a deposition. And the leader of the team never interviewed the victim but HE wrote the report! And he later testified that he "made mistakes" about Dylan being "disturbed" and having a "thought disorder". So, the court couldn't really use the report. The courts had to disregard or give it very little weight because of these issues. The other psychologists who were treating the children were paid by Woody Allen. It was insane. The court-appointed psychologist had a much different view.

Mr. Weide also tries to cast aspersions on the Vanity Fair article by bringing up the fact that Roman Polanski sued them and won. Okay, Mr. Weide……do we believe for one minute that if there was one libelous sentence in that article, Mr. Allen wouldn’t have sued? Considering his actions in the custody hearing, I seriously doubt it. Again, when you can’t present the facts, baffle them with bullshit. I have backed my post up with facts. Can you say the same?

I want to reiterate, I am not a Mia Farrow fan.  Never have been.  Nor am I advocating anything like boycotting Mr. Allen's movies or having him arrested.  That's not what this piece is about.  I wrote this piece because  I think that we have been cruel to victims of abuse for too long and too many people refuse to take a stand on it when it comes to the famous, the wealth and the powerful.  It's tough enough to get convictions when you are an ordinary mortal.  But, when your  abuser is possibly a Woody Allen (or a Roman Polanski or an R. Kelly), your chances of getting justice sucks.  And their sycophants will help spread the smear and make you feel like dirt.  I believe that people need to get their morality right and defend the victims. Am I saying that victims should be taken at their word?  No.  Look at the evidence.  Not just at someone's version of the evidence, as is Mr. Weide's piece.  And, no, I cannot separate the man from his art.  That's moral relativism.  But, hey, if that's the only way you can sleep at night, so be it.  But, again, what would you do if it was YOUR DAUGHTER?  I just wonder if Robert Weide has a daughter.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why Do We Doubt Victims?

I am sure that by now, everyone has already read Dylan Farrow’s open letter to Woody Allen.  I am sure that it was very difficult for her to write but I can understand why she needed to do it.  While people are damning her and her mother in a misguided effort to protect Woody Allen, I think people who believe Dylan Farrow (I won’t post her current name) need to speak up louder, to drown out the Woody Allen sycophants.  To this day, I will never understand how people can so easily defend men who molest and rape little girls.  They fete men like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski……like Dylan Farrow asks, what if it had been your daughter?

The worst part of all of this is the way the Woody Allen suckasses discount Dylan’s story, claiming it’s a figment of Mia Farrow’s mind.  When you do the actual research, nowhere do you find anything indicating that Mia Farrow is off her rocker or a vengeful woman.  When you hear stories like that, they inevitably come back to Woody Allen and his camp.  There is no proof that Mia Farrow did anything wrong.  Unlike Woody Allen.  In a very in depth article for Vanity Fair, Maureen Orth writes about the whole case.  There is some pretty damning evidence that has resurfaced.  Like the fact that the team of experts from Yale that was brought in had their own agenda…..working for Woody Allen.  According to court documents, many on the team worked for him.  That Woody Allen and his legal team hired private investigators that were going after the Connecticut State Attorney’s office.  It’s hard to believe that all this has been forgotten just by Woody Allen calling Mia Farrow a harpie.  It’s diminishes Dylan’s feelings by emphasizing that her memories are nothing but her mother’s words and that everything she feels are not only not real, they are hurting Woody Allen.  How do you think that makes her feel?

There is just so much more screaming evidence.  It wasn't Mia Farrow who first sought sole custody.  It was Woody Allen.  When the facts about his incestuous affair with Soon-Yi and the his actions with Dylan came out, it was his first shot across the bow.  Woody Allen was the one who made this public, it seems, according to court records and news accounts of the day.  The fact that the judge, the state’s attorney of Connecticut and the Manhattan Department of Children’s Services did not believe Woody Allen screams bigger volumes than Mia Farrow being a jealous lover, which, in itself, is REALLY a sick explanation.  Yes, Mia is just loaded to bear with jealousy over a man who seduced her barely legal teenage daughter and molested her prepubescent daughter.  It just shows the chutzpah that man has.  That, in of itself, is just disturbing but goes to the root of Woody Allen’s issues.  He can never take any responsibility for his actions.  He just foists it onto Mia Farrow and blames her.  Never mind that your two children hate your guts, as do the rest of the children and Andre Previn.  It's that’s bitch’s fault.  She brainwashed them!  You have no culpability!  Everyone says so. 

That’s the other seriously disturbing part of this story.  Everyone claims that Dylan’s story is “Mia’s story”.  Never mind that no one, except those paid by Woody Allen, has ever said that Dylan was coached or has deviated from her story.  Every time you see the Woody Allen sycophants come flying  out, protecting their dear idol, it’s always the same, tired accusations.  Yet, when you dig farther than the surface, those accusation never pan out.  When it comes down to it, it’s not about Mia Farrow or Woody Allen……it’s about Dylan Farrow.  She’s the victim.  So, when people like Robert Weide keep claiming that Dylan’s story is “Mia’s story” and constantly pointing out that Mia’s relationship with Andre Previn and Frank Sinatra as supposedly being equitable to Woody Allen’s incestuous affair with Soon-Yi Previn, it belittles Dylan and the rest of the children of the family.  And, yes, I call Woody Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi Previn incestuous.  He was her mother’s lover.  She was barely legal when they started a sexual relationship (that we know of). He was in their home, in a position that was not as just a guest.  He took unbelievable advantage and has never shown an ounce of remorse.  I find that disturbing. His attitude is flip, self-serving and incredibly self-involved.  

 Bob Weide likes to make hay about the fact that the Farrow children’s nanny recanted.  Yes, considering that the nanny was paid by Woody Allen, I’m not surprised.  In cases like this, bribing is not uncommon, and everyone knew that Woody had far more money than Mia Farrow.  He also played writer’s hopscotch on his claims about the Yale team.  Even the judge on the case didn’t buy their conclusions.   The team never even interviewed Dylan.  The team never observed Woody Allen interacting with any of his children.  And, yes, Mr. Weide, it’s VERY suspicious for a team to destroy their notes.  That is part of the file.  What were they hiding?  Ask any shrink…..they will tell you that they do not destroy notes, especially in cases where they are ask to evaluate a child to see if she can withstand a trial and be able to testify.  Oh, and Bob Weide asks why Mia Farrow allowed this to happen on “her team”….it wasn't “Mia Farrow’s team”.  The state’s attorney asked the Yale team to do the evaluation.  And Woody Allen was never “cleared of charges”.  He was never charged.  The investigation was dropped.  Mr. Weide is playing a bit loose with the truth.    I also like how Bob Weide neglects to mention that not only did Satchel (now Ronin) fight against seeing his father, under supervised visitations, he became physically ill.  Ronin and Woody had long had a contentious relationship.  But Bob Weide never makes mention of that.  And Bob Weide makes no mention of the fact that Dylan’s file has disappeared from New York Department of Children’s Services and that is probably why he was able to adopt (that and his money).  That’s another disturbing fact.  Why did he and Soon-Yi adopt?  She was a healthy, much younger woman.  It’s just my opinion, but it screams of a preferential pedophile, who doesn’t like to molest biologicals and can justify his perversion by adopting.  Bob Weide likes to pretend he wrote a piece that was trying to look at both sides but he fail miserably. He even excuses the creepy way Woody Allen mailed a huge envelope of pictures to Dylan, with a different name on the return address but dismissing it, saying that one of his assistants last name was the name on the envelope.  Lame explanation, Mr. Weide. 

I want to make something clear…..I am not a “Mia supporter”.  I never care about the adults.  I support the kids when it comes to abuse.  And, when you hear about these types of cases, the kids always get ignored.  And, when it comes down to it, young women are rarely believed when it comes to sexual abuse.  And it’s incredibly sad because it’s just another way to tell women how little we matter.  We women need to stop accepting this as the norm.  We should not allow this to continue.   Whether it’s geeky directors like Woody Allen or R&B singers like R.Kelly, we need to start making law enforcement and society start taking women seriously about sexual assault.  We need to take that power that they hold over us and tell them, “IT’S NOT OKAY TO RAPE.”  Our bodies are not there for men to abuse.  And, when we allow these cases to go unpunished and keep allowing the abusers to be treated like heroes, we tell our young women, “Suck it up, baby.  Nothing’s gonna change.” I, for one, refuse to tell my daughter that.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

There Is a Rat In The Marlise Munoz Case......Why Won't The Media Talk About Him?

I wrote about the horrible case of Marlise Munoz and how John Peter Smith Hospital took her body hostage when she died because she had been fourteen weeks pregnant.  It’s just a heartbreaking case but, she was finally allowed to die last weekend, two months to the day she was found unconscious and not breathing by her husband, Erick.

But, the misery for her family continues.  Because this hospital made decisions against this familiy’s wishes, fought them for two months while keeping the shell of Marlise on expensive medical telemetry, forcing them to seek out legal counsel and go through the courts and causing them incredible pain and suffering, Erick Munoz is now facing crippling medical bills.  Insurance will NOT pay for the treatments that the hospital forced upon Marlise, as they do not pay for treatment on dead people.  And, because the fetus was so far away from viability and with the immense amount of complications, there was zero chance of survival for either mother or fetus from day one (AND IT’S DOCUMENTED), the chances of the insurance company paying a penny is not good.

Yes, this public hospital is CHARGING Erick Munoz for the treatment they forced upon his dead wife.  Treatment that he and her family rejected.  And do you want to know the worst part of this?  He cannot sue under Texas’malpractice laws.  He will get a lousy $250k for his pains, because of the caps placed on malpractice cases.  Yes, all that “tort reform” that everyone screams for is not what they think it is.  But the argument against “tort reform” is for another post. 

Erick Munoz was harassed by this hospital and now is being charged for it. What is sickening is that the for-profit media has not mentioned the NAME of the person who might be the reason for this drama.  Neal Adams is the outside council for John Peter Smith Hospital.  He is ALSO on the advisory board for the Tarrant County Right to Life Educational Association.  He has been a very militant anti-choice activist since the eighties.  Yet, he has remained in the shadows and the hospital has been vehement in claiming the Mr. Adams is not “representing” the hospital in court.  Yeah, but they didn't say that he had recused himself from this case.  And, when even the authors of the law say that the hospital was interpreting the law incorrectly, that tells me that there is some anti-choice influence happening.

My question is WHY is the for-profit media skipping around this blatant conflict of interest?  Why have they not mentioned Mr. Adams and his ties to the anti-choice group?  Or his anti-choice activities?  Why has he not been interviewed?  Why is there such a lack of interest in this part of the story?  Because it seems to be the heart of why Marlise Munoz and her family was put through hell.  This could have been handled quietly by simply following the SCIENCE and listening to her DOCTORS.  It wasn’t an iffy case.  Marlise had been without oxygen for an indeterminate amount of time.  For a fetus, the amount of time without oxygen, brain damage can occur after a few minutes.  Add in all the rescuitating medications and there was no hope for the fetus.  I am sure that the peri-natologist on staff told the hospital board this.  And, the chances of Marlise’s dead body being able to incubate a fetus that had just entered the second trimester was slim to none.  Also, getting a fetus just to viability is not optimal.  Survival rates of twenty-four week preemies are not great.  If they do live (which is a fifty percent chance), the chances of them surviving without major disabilities are very low.  Thirty weeks is the goal line.  Then the numbers increase to a ninety-five percent survival rate with pretty good neurological odds.  The odds of this fetus surviving was so improbable that the odds were better of Marlise’s body getting up and dancing a jig.  And I am pretty damn sure that the neo-natologist on staff told the board that, along with the neurologist on staff. 

So, with all this information presented to them (and I am pretty damn sure that it was and it’s documented), why would the board choose to ignore it and focus on a sentence in the law? (that even the authors have said is not applicable to this case)  Who would focus on this so adamantly?  Who on that board?  Would it be THEIR LAWYER?  I think that this PUBLIC HOSPITAL owes the public an explanation for their behaviors, beyond the bland one they have been passing. 

In the mean time, Erick Munoz is in desperate need of help.  He has a young son at home without a mother and is grieving.  He’s been put through the wringer.  And, now, he is facing a mountain of medical bills.  If you could help, please, please……To donate to a fund for Munoz medical bills, set up by the Crowley Professional Firefighters Association, donors may go to any Wells Fargo location and reference the Erick and Mateo Munoz fund.

When You Buy Girl Scout Cookies, A Conservative Cries

And, it’s the yearly histrionics over those most evil of confections…….GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!  And it’s not Jillian Michaels making all the noise.  Nope, it’s the Right-Wing Crazies!  They have again called for a “Cookie-cott” of Girl Scout cookies because they supposedly teach horrible, feminist things and won’t pledge their allegiance to the Right-Wingers and all they hold Holy.  This year’s scream-fest is over a Tweet about a poll that included evil, evil women like Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius and that most evil of all feminists, Wendy Davis (aka “Abortion Barbie”). 

I am a veteran Cookie Mom.  I was a Troop Leader for four years for my daughter’s troop.  We started as Daisies and ended as Juniors.  I have done my fair share of cookie sales and, only recently, have I been able to look at the little buggers.  I have had a zillion boxes in my garage, have done booth sales, have picked up box after box at the “cookie cupboard” (where your council sets up a temporary cookie warehouse) and have become sick of the sight of colorful boxes with smiling girls on them. 

So, as a GS Mom and former troop leader, I am here to tell you, GSA does NOT promote anything remotely controversial.  Most of us Leaders are hard pressed enough to find entertaining things for a bunch of little girls to do once a week!  I always have to laugh when I read the hyperbole that comes from the imaginations of the Right-Wing about GSA.  From the way they talk, us Troop Leaders were having round-table discussion about abortion while serving biscotti and lattes and not making friendship bracelets while serving cookies and juice boxes.  Trust me, the average Girl Scout is SO not interested in abortion, Wendy Davis or anything else that adults obsess about.  They want to spend that two hours making a craft, eating a snack and trying to earn badges. 

Another thing that the Right-Wing loonies get wrong is about where the money goes.  I did the finances for cookie money.  WE got about twenty percent.  And we planned on how we used that money, as a Troop.  It was usually something extremely fun because those tykes worked HARD for the money, honey!  We would plan a camp out or a trip or something along those lines.  I love how Right-Wingers have to lie to get people to boycott by telling them that a large portion of cookie money goes to GSA National.  I am here to tell you, as a someone from the trenches…..BULLSHIT!!!!!!!   It does NOT HAPPEN.  We only had to pay for our cookies….profit goes to the Council and the Troops.  All LOCAL.   Yes, GSA National DOES earn seven percent on LICENSING.  Bastard people!  How dare they want to keep the lights on and pay salaries! 

Honestly, what this boils down to is that GSA, unlike Boy Scouts of America, refuses to get into bed with the Right-Wing.  So, because of it, they declared war and have been going after GSA for years now.  Because GSA refuses to discriminate, get religious or basically let the adult bullshit mess things up for the kids, like BSA did, the Right-Wing lunatics have been deviling GSA and trying to smear them.  That’s how screwed up the Right-Wing is…..they are more concerned about their dogma than about little girls having fun and learning about cooperation. They already damaged BSA to the point of having lawsuits and ill feelings.  Now they want to destroy GSA.  They just aren't happy unless everyone is miserable.

So, please……buy Girl Scout cookies.  Help the girls out by expanding your waistlines.  Plus, really…..what would you rather do?  Listen to the lunatic Right or each Thin Mints?

Friday, January 31, 2014

A State of Disillusion

I know that it's been several days since the SOTU, but I like to digest it a bit before I write about it.

I LOVE to watch the State of the Union (SOTU)!  I always read the transcript the next day because my husband and I are far too busy making jokes at the expense of Congress members to completely listen to the actual speech.  It’s just too much fun!

Watching the President making his entrance alone is hilarious!  The schmoozing, the kissing of the ladies, the slaps on the backs……reminds you of a scene from “The Godfather”.  The only thing missing are the envelopes.  Plus, watching the warring tribes pretend to be friendly (and some not even lending a pretense to being friendly) is like being an ant at a family reunion.  You get to watch to your heart’s delight, unobserved while all the action takes place.  It’s utterly amusing to see the farce.  Watching Eric Cantor, who always looks like he is smelling cat shit, walking BEHIND the President (and you can see on his face that it’s not his favorite position), so much fun!  And watching The Boehner, flushed from the Merlot he had at dinner, sitting behind the President during his speech is hilarious!  And Joe Biden, with his Joker smile flashing, while Boehner looks morose… have to pay big bucks for this type of entertainment, normally!  I spend more time posting captions on Facebook, than listening to the speech, which I would rather READ, so I can think further on it.

Oh, I also like to pick out the big names in the audience.  Ted Cruz, looking like an oily salesman and not very happy.  Paul Ryan, who had his dumb puppy look on, just sat there.  Watching the behaviors of the various Congress members is like walking onto the campus of my daughter’s high school.  Cliques reign high in Congress and I think the students on my daughter’s campus are far more mature.  Look at Steve Stockman (R-Texas) storming out in the middle of the speech.  Can we say, “Drama Queen”.  And look at some of the Republican membersTWEETING during the President’s speech?  Are you kidding?  Dissing the speech IN TWEETS during the actual speech?  We don’t allow our high school students to do this but we allow Congress to be this disrespectful?  Or is it “staffers” Tweeting for them.  Regardless, it’s childish and rude.  People, act your age.  You are suppose to set an example for the country. 

There was some bi-partisan applauses.  His bit of sucking up to Boehner with his, “Son of a bar keep” was met with mutual clapping from a room full of mostly well-born folk.   They also applauded themselves when the President talked about the “accomplishments” in regards to the housing market (which is mostly a bubble created by “investors” paying cash forforeclosures, edging out average people who have to qualify for now tougher to get conventional loans), the oil industry (thanks to fracking and other less than safe measures, not to mention oil spills),  the lower unemployment rate (the jobs that ARE available are hardly the quality jobs that left…..mostly low-paying service jobs) and the deficit cut in half (on the backs of the middle class and the poor by cutting services and anyother programs, while there has been nothing asked by multi-national corporations or the one percent)…….I guess the President had to throw the Do Nothing Congress a bone because I seriously don’t consider anything they have done “accomplishments”.

But things got very cool, very quickly.  When the President got to the part about how multi-national corporations have made record profits, while the average American is working harder and harder just to make ends meet or not at all, due to jobs being “outsourced”.  When the President talked about reforming the tax laws that not only do not penalize AMERICAN companies for outsourcing but REWARD THEM with tax breaks, you could see the Republicans get indignant and see many Democrats squirm. 

And when he talked about going around Congress when he could (using Executive Order), that brought out the downright ugly.  The President vowed to raise the minimum wage on CONTRACTORS who get Federal contracts.  That brought out the Linda Blair in many Republican Congresscritters.   Michelle Obama, who has been the object of ridicule (again) for her “Get Moving” program teaming up with Subway, causing quite the hissy fits among the Right-Wing-Freaks (OMG!  What a BITCH!!!  She wants to encourage kids to EAT SUBWAY!!!) was commended by the President for the program, as was FLOTUS’ and VP-FLOTUS’, DR. Jill Biden, for their Joining Forces Alliance project, that helps find jobs for our vets and their spouses.  That earned polite claps from Republicans but with frowny faces.  The same with the President’s plan for College Opportunity (which the President of my city’s beloved,  Whittier College, met with the President to discuss!) and his mentions of homelessness and marriage equality the Republicans just had the frowny faces, as both are icky subjects for Republicans.

Getting to energy, that is NEVER a fun topic.  Anything with the word “reform” in it generally brings frown lines (or the closest thing to it on many a Botoxed face) to Congresscritters.  Patent reform, as are the words “solar” and “wind” are simply dirty words in Congress.  And the fact that we are having an oil boom has not made Republicans happy, as it has happened under OBAMA!  More frowny faces when he mentioned (bragged about) it.   And even MORE frowny faces when the President talked about the dreaded “CLIMATE CHANGE”.   A word that many a Republican say is a hoax.  I swear, I am sure that all the plastic surgeons in DC were completely booked after SOTU for the next month.

Then came the unpleasant topic of education and wages.  Some of it was benign and nothing new, like Race to the Top (blech), corporate funded education (blech), Common Core (feh), getting the communications companies to hand over “free Internet access” to some of our schools (wow, how generous of them, considering they couldn't make money without government help) and pre-K.  Education is where the President and I part ways.  He’s on the side of corporate education.  I am not.  But at least he mentioned that he is finally dumping standardized testing. 

When the President gets to the minimum wage, that also brings the ugly out of Republicans.  The President telling Congress that no one should live in poverty while working full time seemed like a foreign concept to many of the Congresscritters.  Especially single mothers.  And it was downright insulting to Americans when the Republicans did nothing but look pissy when the President said, “Let’s give America a raise!” when talking about raising the minimum wage.  Not a good move, Republicans.  You dissed the American people by doing that.   And when he talked about the ACA (Obamacare) and how the whole forty votes to repeal was stupid, you would have thought someone let off a hellacious fart on the Republican side of the chamber.  The ACA is still a very raw spot with Republicans.

Yes, I do find it entertaining, but, we shouldn't.  It’s far from funny.  Here we are, people are suffering and these people are playing games.  They can’t even pretend to behave in front of the cameras.  They have basically told us, the American people, “Fuck you!”  They have told us that our business just doesn't matter to them.  We should be more than offended.  Yet, what do the American people do?  We are still squabbling among ourselves, pointing our fingers at each other, blaming people who have less than us for our lot in life and NOT VOTING!  How stupid are we?  Congress doesn't even have make a pretense anymore.  We ACCEPT their bad behavior!  Yet, we don’t do a thing about it.  I am seriously tired of the blaming of the poor, of the President (he can only do so much) and the fighting among ourselves.  We have allowed a handful of boorish people to take over our government and do as they wish and pretty much flip the American people off while doing it.  The President said many times in his speech that it was up to CONGRESS.  And Congress has told your what they think of Americans.  And the worst example was when so many Republican Congressmen were flocking around the guy from "Duck Dynasty" and not the soldier who did TEN TOURS of war and was severely injured.  Talk about a "fuck you" to the military.

So, what are YOU going to do?