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Playlist: The Indifference Diaries

Compiled By: Susan J. Cook

The hand life deals you... Credit: Susan Cook
Image by: Susan Cook 
The hand life deals you...

Elie Weisel, the humanitarian Holocaust survivor, once said "The opposite of love is not hatred, it's indifference". Indifference brings out the worst in humanity sometimes. Sometimes we can't document the day-to-day sequence of events that culminate in harm. And sometimes we can.

Why Women Don't Tell, Part 4: What the Media Leaves Out

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:21

Exclusion by the Media of facts about the nature of the exploitation at the center of the Trump trial, and the $130,000 paid to an adult film actress, to silence her, leaves out the grooming she was subjected to, instead casting her as licentious.


Why Women Don't Tell, Part 4: What the Media Leaves Out


In the PBS Newshour Friday night left/right voice section, a substitute journalist, Eliana Johnson from the Washington, DC-based Free Beacon, sat in for the conservative David Brooks.


The moderator moved the topics along to the Trump Criminal trial. As almost an aside, Journalist Johnson observed that “Stormy Daniels was up there talking about things that are not appropriate to say on this network.”


And thus, she (Johnson, not Daniels) presented the perspective which most of the trial coverage has clung to and, by default, to what's been left out. For a second, I wondered if the “not appropriate” she referenced is Stormy Daniels' rape history, the time from age 9 to about 11, when she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a next door neighbor, who also raped her childhood best friend. When the friend finally disclosed to the school guidance counselor her rape experience, Stormy then known as Stephanie, told him the neighbor had assaulted her- repeatedly. The Guidance Counselor told her she was lying. She just said that, he said, because she wanted the attention her friend began to receive. Ms. Daniels' did not remember this incident until she was vabout 23. The amnesic relationship to abuse and the silencing of disclosure is not at all unusual, any trauma therapist would validate.


The posture of that Guidance Counselor uniquely and disturbingly parallels- no surprise- the defense attorneys' questioning of Ms. Daniels. It also parallels the trivialization of the sexual exploitation she experienced by the then 60 year old Donald Trump which Eliana Johnson presents- as does much of the media- as trivial- and sees as secondary to her occupation as a stripper and “adult” film actress , “adult” film director and producer. Add to this the designation as “the smart one”, which Trump applied to the then 27 year old Daniels as a pretense for his request to have dinner with her- communicated to her by Trump's body guard.


I read the “liberal” New York Times' supplied transcript of Ms. Daniels' testimony which motivated me to read her book “Full Disclosure”, her second more widely known effort to tell the truth.


I speculate but my guess is Eliana Johnson hasn't read it, what with the focus on the words that can't be said on Public broadcasting. Exclusion of the facts about what really happened to Stormy Daniels means that Eliana and the other journalists collude in ignoring  “grooming”, the hallmark of a predator before the exploitation actually takes place. It shifts the focus to the teller's credibility, the teller's sexualization- your dirty mind- of what is taking place. After all, the predator grooming the object hasn't acted yet on his intention.


Exclusion of her childhood sexual assault, in this case, leaves Ms. Daniels' to be characterized as the one with the licentious sex life, ignoring Donald Trump's grooming of Ms. Daniels with the offer of a Celebrity Apprentice appearance. Sex as the outcome of her meeting him in his Penthouse Suite was not what she anticipated. After going to the restroom and finding Trump standing between her and the bedroom door, his bodyguard shielding the entry to the suite as he was when she arrived, she describes an episode of derealization. Look it up.


Eliana Johnson having a pat phrase to the signify the witness with the dirty mouth speaks to the rubric the media has taken on. Yes, the substitution of the word “adult film” actress for “porn star” mitigates the sullying. But it does nothing to tag Trump's grooming as predatory, his baiting with a Celebrity Apprentice appearance. Harvey Weinstein used similar tactics.


An outcome of this trial could be that the 60-something Trumps of the world- along with the Harvey Weinsteins- would be more easily held accountable. A higher paying job, a good paycheck, a reliable living for someone like Daniels who grew up with a single mother who had to work more than one minimum wage job at a time is- even Eliana Johnson might agree- motivation. For the adolescent Daniels, a Baton Rouge , Louisiana Ballet dancer, and dressage horsewoman who taught riding lessons to handicapped children, her foray as a teenager into “exotic dancer” stripping meant she tripled her income. She testified that her whole life she had supported herself financially. Women earn 84 cents to a man's dollar, which was far lower the early 2000s.


Left out of the narrative, as well, has been the threat leveled by an anonymous stranger in 2016 in a parking lot to Daniels and her child. This was ultimately what led her to speak about the encounter with Trump, lest her family or she herself be physically harmed.


An outcome might galvanize the always tenuous feminist collective which the Elianas splice open, often. In “Full Disclosure” and in her testimony, Daniels refers – over and over- to her coworkers- other strippers- as “girls”, no matter how old. There's truth in that too. The Club owners are called men, generally, a reminder of who holds power in the world- those with money or masculinity. Both have been tools to re-assert that power, in the Trump trial, to silence the truth about sexual exploitation under the guise of principled indignation, and they continue to be reasons why Women Don't Tell, but - not for Stephanie aka “Stormy” Daniels- now.

Ch'i and the Lessons of "Rage": Donald Trump through the lens of Sun Tze and Hannah Arendt

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 09:14

The revelations of Woodward's "Rage" are understood best through Sun Tze, the ancient Chinese text also known as The Art of War and the historical rendering of "The Origins of Totalitarianism" by Hannah Arendt.


Ch'i and the Lessons of "Rage": Donald Trump Seen
through the Lens of Sun Tze and Hannah Arendt

Use order to await chaos

Use stillness to await clamor

This is ordering the heartmind

-Sun Tze-


-Susan Cook-


Bob Woodward's “Rage” shares his taped record of the actions and omissions by President Trump, Jared Kushner and his colluders which have contributed to 200,000 deaths in the US from COVID -19. Yes, the exponential indiscriminate human cost parallels the failure to act against Nazi era policies which led to the Holocaust.


On February 7, 2020,  Donald Trump told Woodward very clearly that COVID-19 spreads through airborne transmission and is carried by asymptomatic infected people. President Xi Jinping informed Trump on January 23 of these known COVID 19 facts “We're sending them things,” he told Woodward, N95 masks, Personal Protective Equipment. Trump continued to minimize the virus, held large rallies in which the preventive- masks were not required. He continued to refuse to wear one himself.


His January 23 call with President Xi Jinping informed him of the complete shutdown of Wuhan, China and the internal block on travel within China. Trump's January 31 ban of flights from China to the US, still, allowed upwards of 70000 travelers to enter this country on flight transfers originating from China. To the public, he minimized. ”It'll go away.”


With 200000 dead now, in this country, numbers still rising, concealing airborne viral transmission becomes akin to a guard claiming he did not know prisoners were being led to gas chambers not showers or Eichmann claiming he was a "mere instrument" of the State.


On January 23, 2020, Beth Sanner, the chief briefer for the Director of National Intelligence, reported in the Presidential Daily Briefing, “Just like the flu. We don't think it's as deadly as SARS. We do not believe this is going to be a global pandemic” , “Rage” quotes her as saying (pg. 230). 


Trump handed off to son-in-law Jared Kushner oversight of distribution of Personal Protective Equipment and Ventilators. Astronomical rates of infection among healthcare workers followed a created "shortage" of protective equipment. Many health care workers arrived at shifts at major COVID 19 treatment hospitals, only to be given a paper mask and a paper bag, told to write their name on it and reuse it over and over. While Kushner depleted the national stockpile of N95 masks, sending millions to China in January, thousands of healthcare workers have died, administering care to COVID 19 patients. (Washington Post, April 18, 2020 ". The State Department announced Feb. 7 that nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies had been shipped to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials.) (Also see St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 3, 2020 "Inside Jared Kushner and Peter Navarro's efforts to rescue the White House's coronavirus response)

Kushner's failure to prioritize human need over international political posturing, echos the Ukrainian Holodomor when Stalin created a "faked" food shortage. Millions died because in Ukraine's "fertile breadbasket", the government seized food distribution, claiming a “famine” had struck.


The mindset of Donald Trump and his appointees is clarified in 2 books. The total state must not know any difference between law and ethics,” Hannah Arendt quotes  Adolf Hitler in "The Origins of Totalitarianism" (p. 394). The events decribed in “Rage” suggest the actions of Jared Kushner and Donald Trump have became the State, informed by ethics they perceived as equivalent to the law. "It's crazy but it works," Kushner who depleted the national N95 mask stockpile as "heroic"generosity toward China.


Hannah Arendt quotes Plato. “...The universal art of enchanting the mind by arguments had nothing to do with Truth but aimed at opinions which by their very nature are changing and which are valid “only at the time of the agreement and as long as the agreement lasts...[There is a ]very insecure position of Truth in the world, for from opinions comes persuasion and not from Truth” Plato wrote. "Rage" details the daily Trump activities focused on his "satisfaction with a passion for the victory of the argument at the expense of Truth”. Jared Kushner is no passive bystander to those events- his "Hero"quest preemininent.


The Truth in this Pandemic is the novel Coronavirus- COVID-19. Despite the publication on January 10,2020 by Chinese scientists of the COVID-19 genome, the Truth of COVID-19 eludes the best scientific minds.


Meanwhile, China's lock down of travel within China and failure to prevent departures from China became a global weaponizing of a life-threatening disease.


The 2500 year old Chinese military treatise, Sun Tze or The Art of War is a guide to conflict resolution without aggression, a "How To", in this case, a handbook to creation of the perfect foil for Donald Trump, for whom truth and fact are secondary to persuasion. His flaws are there for the taking.


Sun Tze says:

And so in the military-

Knowing the other and knowing oneself

In one hundred battles no danger

Not knowing the other and knowing oneself

One victory for oneself

Not knowing the other and not knowing oneself

In every battle defeat


Trump's response to the COVID 19 truth, the Chinese likely knew, would be aggression toward China because Trump's only strategy under conflict is verbal or physical aggression. The Chinese know well Pandemics tell the truth. COVID 19 would make it to the US borders.


Sun Tze explains ch'i, the life force. 


And so the ch'i of the 3 armies can be seized

The heart mind of the commander can be seized

...therefore morning ch'i is sharp

Midday ch'i is lazy

Evening ch'i is spent

Thus one skilled at employing his military

avoids their sharp ch'i



The Chinese know Trump better than he knows himself. COVID 19 facts disclosed to "late night Tweeter/ spent Ch'i " Trump meant the truth would be ignored, aggression toward perceived enemies a priority, persuasion not fact the focus of his public pronouncements. The State, ethics and law treated as one. Someday, "Rage" forewarns, the inactions of Trump and Jared Kushner and those blindly supporting them may enter history's record as crimes against humanity.


Why Women Don't Tell: Dying from Silence

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:59

The anniversary of the loss of my childhood friend who died from suicide just passed. She, like many women, was sexually abused and never told anyone. Not too long ago, many assaulted by Harvey Weinstein are finally told. For the silence of those who have been exploited or sexually assaulted to end, shame needs to be disenfranchised, for once, from telling. Which means that the blame, the ready cacophony of ‘She’s lying’, the persistent undermining of women’s credibility, no matter what her experience or credential ends. We all bear witness to that in the reduction of an exceptionally experienced, brilliant woman who ran for president reduced to liar, sneaky untrustworthy thief and criminal. We should all fear that the same specter awaits those who have accused Weinstein and that in time, his accusers will be met with the same sanctioned dismissive view.


Why Women Don’t Tell: Dying of Silence
-Susan Cook-
The anniversary of the death of my childhood best friend, who I’ll call ‘S’, passed recently. 'S' drove to an isolated country road, parked her yellow convertible by the side, and, in time, died. She committed suicide. Someone found her there. Over the next few weeks time- word of her death spread to me when her roommate answered my call late one Sunday night,  hoping to talk  to my longest friend. Her ashes were scattered  from a mountain overlooking the ocean.   The long disoriented grieving then began for a 24 year old, who I knew had not always been happy, but presented happiness to everyone else. Yellow was her favorite color.
Years later, her roommate, who had an unusual first name, was mentioned in a memoir I was reading. I wrote the author, wondering if the mentioned person was the roommate I had spoken to that night.  It was. In the conversation that followed, the roommate  told me that yes,  ‘S’ had been repeatedly sexually abused by a sibling. ‘S’ and I shared much about our  lives but she never told me that.
Sexual assault and abuse unravel the innocence of human development.  I remember when her first high school boyfriend told  her , she had ‘bedroom eyes’. one of those precipitous moments when, she and I knew, there was something emerging in the way she was seen and we did not know what it was. Then there were the nights when  her parents weren’t home, when we each with our then 2 or 3 week - long romances,  disappeared into  separate rooms, the radio on, playing "Strawberry Fields Forever", sometimes. From ninth grade on, she bleached her hair with ‘Summer Blonde’, lighter and lighter shades, the older she got. She had learned males like blondes.
Why S never told me, or for that matter, only one other person  was, I suppose, emotional protection- of an extremely isolating and dangerous kind . Not all sexually violated people commit suicide . But if  suicidality doesn‘t come, substance abuse and deep despair and distress may.
All of this comes to mind , as it does every year,  because  ‘S’  not telling  makes her like the hundreds of women who have not told. This year, it comes at a time when many women have- only now-  come forth to identify themselves as victims of  sexual assault and harassment by  Harvey Weinstein. They are finally telling.  S never got that opportunity or could not take whatever one arose.
We don’t need to travel too far to witness the subtle and unsubtle signs that telling will be met with blame, the ready cacophony of ‘She’s lying’, the persistent undermining of women’s credibility, no matter what her experience or credential . And this year the question is again raised. Why hasn’t shame been disenfranchised, once and for all from the telling of sexual assault and abuse? 
Many may remember Rep. Todd Akin raising the question in a Missouri television interview about whether a woman claiming rape  “was really raped”. After all, he said, discussion of the choice to terminate a pregnancy after rape is irrelevant because “rape doesn‘t cause pregnancy.” 

And then, there‘s the coverage of a 2013 Maine prostitution trial  following the exploitation of a young woman by 140 men. Her feelings, her body, her violation were pretty much ignored as the media devoured the events. The statewide newspaper headlined the “dilemma” of men who paid for sex with her trying to prevent the embarrassment of publicity . And then there was  the Maine Press Herald columnist  who  wrote of the young woman  “oh yes, having sex with well over 140 men who paid dearly for an hour of her precious time” and questioned how contrite she was  when she said “These actions were not taken because I wanted to. I did not feel like I was in a position to choose.” Bill Nemitz, the columnist wrote, “Come again?” “The Madam glides from the spotlight insisting she'd been tricked into turning tricks,” he wrote.
The young woman was held in sex slavery  (the human rights term for prostitution)  by Mark Strong, the Thomaston insurance agent barely mentioned by Mr. Nemitz or his newspaper. After her trial, in which she was sentenced to 10 months in jail, she announced that she “was feeling free“. Any humanitarian observer would note that anyone who says she is ‘feeling free’ after being sentenced to 10 months in jail has been  imprisoned by far worse jailers.
Most recently,  the same male columnist shared the stage as the interviewer of this year’s winner of the Frances Perkins Center award for  Intelligence and Courage, named after FDR‘s very accomplished Secretary of Labor. This an interviewer  who quite crassly dismissed  the credibility of a sexual assault victim . It was  as if a sexually assaulted  woman’s undermined credibility in telling had absolutely nothing to do with  that of Jane Meyer, the award winner or Frances Perkins, both of whom no doubt encountered as women many efforts to dismiss their believability.  Maybe the Center thought interviewing Jane Meyer would be ‘easy’. Of course, different day, different dollar, as the saying goes.
Which brings us back to not telling- and where the  permission to shame and discredit sexual assault victims comes from. To accuse them of lying,  ‘she deserved it’, sometimes with  the subtle collusion of women using long familiar tactics for shaming girls and women. We should all fear that, in a short time, Harvey Weinstein’s accusers will be met with the same sanctioned dismissive view.
So, this time of year  yes, I’m angry about that. But not as angry as I am that my friend ‘S’ could not tell about her long sexual abuse because she knew  the consequence of telling and thus died, from silence.

Waiting for the Mockingbird: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting the Credibility of Those Who Speak Out

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:23

The possibility that we can all take part in finding out what is true, just by speaking up, can become very uncertain and maybe one day disappear because no one bothers to protect it anymore.


Waiting for the Mockingbird

-Susan Cook-

When spring comes, northern mockingbirds used to arrive at a marsh near my house. Sometimes in the night, I could hear one of them singing. They are called Mockingbirds for good reason: first, he’s a robin, then he’s a red-winged blackbird, then he’s a song sparrow. It's hard to tell what his own song is, he has so many that he has heard from others. I don’t know where he goes in the winter but every year I wondered if he'd come back and sure enough, he has not.

Maybe the sonar activity of the world's fifth largest weapons producer which abuts the Marsh has something to do with it. I often thought, someone he was waking up would kill him if he didn't stop. Some are very mean when they are woken up.

You could plant your seedlings according to the arrival of the red-winged blackbirds out there. The northern mockingbird seemed much less predictable, more vulnerable and now he's gone .

A bird can be gone like that but when people hear things they don’t like, the slow withering of the credibility of those who speak out begins. “The inaccuracies in what she said...”, “it is only a small group of loud complainers that are saying these things,”- “he’s just mad because he believes he can do whatever he wants”- all the statements start that gradually, over time, deplete the replenishing of the urge to speak, draining the nourishment we receive when we say words we believe are true, about a wrong we want righted, an injustice that has taken something away from us. It is not a mockingbird that’s gone. The possibility that we can all take part in finding out what is true, just by speaking up, becomes uncertain and is one day gone because no one bothers anymore. No one likes to have their credibility attacked and if someone else is the prime manufacturer of what the truth is, why do it?



It's a dangerous situation. Not too long ago, in my town, the Children's Librarian was fired by the Public Library Director, who knows why. The public outrage about it placed the Library in peril because people did not retreat from finding out the truth both because of the shared ownership of their respect for this gifted children’s librarian and their value of the library. A Mediation agreement to solve the community unrest followed. The Director who did the firing didn't follow it. What is troublesome is that she had a version of the truth that she felt was better than that of anyone else. It happens all the time.


The Northern Mockingbird is gone now, I think. Doing everything possible to disregard other voices, raises an instinctual fear of extinction of voice and credibility. It is not a matter of where one sits on the right to left continuum. Those who manage to enter positions of responsibility in the Democratic party or the Republican party or any staff position of leadership may be just as likely to justify their own actions by disregarding Truth tellers and attacking their credibility (“She doesn't have any proof”). I criticized a Senator recently and compared one staffer's maintenance of a List of Twitter/Facebook users who criticized the Senator to Richard Nixon's Enemies List and McCarthy-ism. The newspaper's Opinion Page (which has a committee vetting process) hasn't published any of the letters I've submitted since. The legal system is only one venue in which the credibility of Truth tellers is protected. Each of us plays a part in valuing the skill the Northern Mockingbird knows. Those who stumble into positions of influence then exercise every option to destroy the credibility of Truth tellers raise the real possibility that those who spoke out will not be back again.

The Opposite of Love is not Hate, it's Indifference: Cupcakes and the Lineage of Hatred

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:52

When we don't recognize the unkindness of entitled hatred, we may be quietly consuming more of it than we realize. That may be a way in which a lineage of hatred quietly enters our system and our lives.


The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, It’s Indifference:
Cupcakes and the Lineage of Hatred
-Susan Cook-
Dutsi, depending on whether the translation is from the Sanskrit or Tibetan, means human remains. In Tibetan Buddhism, small amounts are consumed during some very high level spiritual rituals. It is said that when Chogyram Trumpah Rinpoche, a modern Buddhist spiritual leader, was a boy in a Tibetan monastery, he was given as part of his monastic teaching, dutsi to eat from his beloved brother who had died. What is consumed is no small matter in Buddhist circles.
I help staff from time to time Buddhist retreat weekends, during which Trumpah Rinpoche’s teachings are taught, bringing bagels, tea, sometimes more elaborate celebratory fare. At one retreat, an anti-choice participant brought 46 cupcakes, symbolizing 23 pairs of chromosomes- the veiled gesture being that some of those supporting reproductive rights- would be eating cupcakes ,symbolically chromosomes.  as if they were cupcakes. Chogyram Trumpah Rinpoche was similarly deceived- the legend being that the monastics did not tell him that in his grieving moment of lost idealization of deep love- in this case for his brother. Such are the lessons of impermanence in Buddhism. Left un-grieved,  traumatic loss of idealized love and attachment brings consequences like permission to  physically and sexually abuse, abandonment, addictions , deep maltreatment and trauma. Un-grieved loss, in effect  perpetuates a lack of human compassion. And an absence of  love in the world.
Most of the people at the retreat didn’t count the cupcakes or notice the unspoken energy around the mockery in  eating cupcakes they were offered-  as might have been the case for Trumpah Rinpoche in his isolated dependence on his monastic  teachers. 
One might say that the compassion Buddhist teachings aim for was lost in dogma.  Buddhism’s  Four Noble Truths, include that we all have been given precious human birth. In Tibet, surviving beyond birth has always been and is still extraordinarily difficult. Precious human birth comes in that culture in very, very  different ways than it does in Western culture. Almost 40 years ago, I worked for a year on an observational study in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a major hospital where we observed infants born before 28 weeks gestation and the environment around them. Very sophisticated medical technology, intubation, oxygen ventilators, umbilical IV monitoring and other complex interventions brought some of these neonates to survive. Others did not. And, no insurance did not cover all the costs, then or now. In 2015, the New England Journal of Medicine, published a study of 5000 premature infants which found that the gestational age at which  some neonates receiving this complex technology could survive - still not breathing on their own- was about  2-3 gestational weeks earlier than sophisticated technology made available 40 years ago. In the Far East where Buddhism began, that medical technology is not now and has never been available.
We don’t know how Trumpah Rinpoche experienced the consumption of dutsi. As an adult, he brought his interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism to the West in a palpable and palatable way to white, alienated, privileged westerners. His life characterized great spiritual accomplishment as well as sequelae of trauma. Nancy Steinbeck, one of his early devotees wrote about the "crazy wisdom’ of Trumpah in  her memoir “The Other Side of Eden".
Belief in reincarnation is also a steadfast truth among devoted Buddhists. The question often asked  is how could genetics alone and mere nurture bring, so quickly,  such ominous gifts to very very young children. In Buddhism, tulkus are children recognized at a very young age as being reincarnates of Buddhist deities and realized practitioners. In ‘Music in the Sky’, Michelle Martin wrote at length about the recognition and pronouncement of Tulkus.  They’re not recognized because of western smug science about the available gene pool , having ‘good genes’ and chromosomal status. There’s much, much more to the accomplishment of spiritual lineage than that.
To get back to the cupcakes, Buddhist teachings about compassion are often displaced by white western proprietary dogma and replacement of "what is" with what someone else thinks "should be".  "Dharma" the teachings of Buddhism, translates as "things as they are".  The holocaust survivor Elie Weisel said "The opposite of love is not hatred. It’s indifference" to things as they are. Indifference is transformed  to mindful awareness through Buddhist practices, meditation in particular. The Compassion that Buddhist practice develops means that hatred and acts of unkindness won’t be unnoticed.
During the 2016 campaign, the Presidential candidate- now former  President-  remarked with a not-so-veiled hatred that any woman who terminates a pregnancy should be punished. His remarks were met with some push back but certainly implied warning to any of his former casual sexual “dalliances“ which -  who knows- may have resulted in  unwanted pregnancy-  to not disclose their  private medical history.
Elie Weisel reminds us that hatred is not on the opposite end of a continuum that begins with love. Hatred is a different entity. If we do not recognize the unkindness, its mockery, its one-up-man-ship, smug claim to a better version of ‘what is’, in its hidden consumption either as cupcakes or dutsi, we may end up with more of it in our system than we know. And that may well be how the lineage of hatred is perpetuated after all.

"It's A Grand Night for Bailing, Updated" in the Dept. of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning). Lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook!

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:39

We've been humming the tune from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "State Fair", again! "It's a Grand Night for Bailing, Updated! The Evangelical version" which could be sung to the tune from "It's a Grand Night for Singing!"


“It's a Grand Night for Bailing Updated”
-Susan Cook-


It's a grand night for bailing,

the writing's on the wall,

and somewhere a bird who is bound he'll be heard

is giving his lawyer a call!


Evangelical nature

requires that they ask:

Could this man be my pastor? They ignore the disaster

he'd be as their daughter's first date!


Evangelicals voting

for You-Know-Who because

they think he's the link between Sin and the Brink

forget that he's currently charged!


When you walk thru the Check-out,

the magazines for sale,

include one you know. It just goes to show

The Enquirer has survived!


There is no room for liars,

Evangelicals agree

at the Pearly Gates, God won't stand there and wait

for Mr. Pecker to be free.


To Role Model is different

than what a pastor does.

Generally speaking, it does not lead to preaching

that he is a morally upstanding guy!


Presidential behavior

can be role modeled too!

That means lying and cheating and expletive deleted

is not what is done with spare time!


Evangelic behavior

is not that different from

what might be expected from a man who's elected

for daughters and sons to admire!



They say “I would not want him

to be my Pastor" yet

his policies are good. Tell us does that include

permission to exploit the women with whom he's had s--?



It's a grand night for bailing!~

The writing's on the wall!

And somewhere the herd who have finally heard

are giving their Lawyers and Pastors a call!


Why Women Don't Tell, Part 3: The Cultural Anomie that Keeps Violence Toward Women Hidden in Broad Daylight

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:36

The arrest of a Fifth Avenue architect as the alleged serial murderer of several women brings up the question of whether anyone over that long period of time knew of the man's aggressive and violent underworld life. Did they know and just not tell? Is this yet another example of Not Telling about Violence Toward Women, about the cultural anomie about disclosure- "a lack of moral standards" a "lawlessness" about disclosing about violence toward women?


Why Women Don't Tell Part 3
The Cultural Anomie that Keeps Violence Toward Women Hidden in Broad Daylight

In the 15 or so years since the first woman was murdered by the alleged perpetrator, the now- indicted and arrested Fifth Avenue Architect, didn't anyone suspect or even know this man had violent tendencies? Aggression toward women? Was there no speculation that his wife and children periodically left because of a recurrent aggression no longer suppressed? Some recurrent resurfacing of a pathology? Did no one suspect or even witness events that raised doubts about violence and aggression in the man's life?


The deaths of these women described only as “prostitutes” as if there was nothing else to say about them, renews fears that this culture's anomie about violence toward women has not gone away or is at least quietly accepted. Anomie, Google says, means “a lack of moral standards, or a sense of lawlessness, or sometimes the anxiety that comes from being in a lawless place.”


Then there is the Anomie about Telling What We Know about someone else's violence and aggression. The arrest of this particular alleged perpetrator hiding in plain sight raises renewed anxiety that cultural acceptance of failing to Tell What We Know persists-Why Women Don't Tell. Surely, someone must have known or suspected this alleged perpetrator's violent side. The Tarrasoff Law would dictate that even healthcare providers disclose to authorities threats of known violence or homicide or committed ones.


Sometimes, the most fiercely internalized moral lessons  come from witnessing in ourselves or in others the horrible aftermath of moral atrocities. The next step is to speak out but we know too well that if you see something you very often do not say something. Telling, comes at a cost- a well known cost that many avoid. Our internalized evolutionary tool for bettering the human race by telling- our sensitivity to human pain and suffering  betrays us. There is no telling. The secret is kept.


I am a psychotherapist who for many years has studied and continues to study and provide Trauma intervention. Knowing itself- witnessing- violence- the discovery of the dark truth can be all by itself traumatic. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V acknowledges hearing about and witnessing violence, atrocious events can lead to post traumatic stress disorder. The frontal lobes- where we plan, decide, our executive skills which lead us through our lives, go offline, as Bessel Van der Kolk writes. Psychotherapist Sebern Fisher notes the neurobiology of a response to trauma may bring fight or flight, tonic immobility, collapsed immobility, an orienting freeze, or loss of consciousness or fainting (the vasovagal response) The human abilities through which we function are hijacked or shutdown completely. All reasons why others don't tell what they have seen, heard or know.



There is also plenty of exposure to culturally sanctioned punishment for Telling by the discloser. A shameful example of that punishment if not assassination  for telling is best exemplified by a Washington Post Pulitzer Prize toting- columnist who reviewed in 1997 “The Kiss”, Kathryn Harrison's telling about her father's incestuous acts with her. The words in the book synchronize almost with precision the torturous emotional sequalae of the act of telling about incest and the incest itself. So precise as to bring  chills which they did on my first, second and third reading. The real topic of the Washington Post reviewer Jonathan Yardley is given away by the article's title: “Daddy's Girl Cashes In”. His review explicates how to take down the girl who tells the truth about being the object of violence- physical or sexual- or fearful that violation or victimization has taken or is about to take place. The visual metaphor of Yardley's stance is that of him standing with his heel on the back of Kathryn Harrison's neck- pushing her face, the mind with which she eloquently and painfully found the words to disclose and the lips that mouthed them in mud. “Slimy, repellent, meretricious, cynical”, he wrote. “His seduction of the not-unwilling her. Its essential elements are not graphic sex -- in that department Harrison is coy rather than revealing -- but a revolting mixture of self-pity and narcissism“. “The real act of dishonesty is this shameful book, which exploits the private life of the author's family -- if, by the way, anything herein actually happened as she claims it did...” As if telling about sexual violence is exploiting “family privacy”.


Jonathan Yardley could have served as Consultant for anyone hoping to suppress suspicions about the now DNA-verified suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders. He reminds any perpetrator how to irreducibly discredit Anyone who might Tell the Truth of what they have seen, heard or observed. Yardley even refers to the same geographic area, the “polygon” of the alleged murderer's route writing that salaciousness rather than the atrocity of Harrison's sexual abuse drew readers. “The chattering classes of Manhattan and the Hamptons have homed in on it with the unerring instinct of swine slopping in swill. It is the Flavor of the Month.”


If the response to the trauma of hearing the atrocious does not bring shut down, freeze, a loss of conscious willingness to know what we know, our ethical core can be part of the making sense. There's a chance here that the Cultural anomie of Telling about Violence toward women will be uncovered- if it's held up to the light here- broad daylight where it has been hiding all along.

The Indifference Diaries: The Opposite of Love is Indifference: How to be a Good Neighbor and Warship Builder

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 09:56

As Bath Iron Works ships become more sophisticated in their use of sonar devices, we recall the 40 million dollar Maine Legislature approved tax break for a subsidiary of the fifth largest weapons producer in the world. A reporter recently disclosed via the Freedom of Information Act the communication between the bill's sponsor, a legislator, and the Vice President of the General Dynamics-owned Bath Iron Works which will receive the money . The VP's solicitous tone and responsivity is in striking contrast to his refusal to respond and his frank indifference to a neighborhood citizen seeking information about the devices used/installed/tested in the shipyard and their pronounced health impact on residents.


The Indifference Diaries: The Opposite of Love is Indifference- A Defense Company Ignores the Impact of  What They Do
-Susan Cook-
Elie Weisel ,the Holocaust survivor once said, "The opposite of love is not hatred, it's indifference".  It is everywhere, every day, indifference that is.
In my state,  a bill passed last year sponsored by 2 local legislators to give 40 million dollars to a subsidiary of the world's fifth largest weapons producer.  In this case, the subsidiary makes destroyers, now themselves weapons because of the addition of sonar. Now, living nearby as I do, I am well aware of their building and their intense security measures and when it is in use- either because they accompany it with radar/ intense security surveillance or because of what the sonar itself does. It  kills whales. Its installation  and testing here means the cell and neurological  busting that sonar is suspected to do can and does effect people nearby. I have contacted various levels of adminstrators at least a hundred times and asked them what they are doing.  I started by asking  who the medical physicists are that the company consults with to ensure  the safety of children, adults and mammals in the neighborhood exposed to their sonar tinkering and intense security measures - radar, for example.
I wrote to the communications director, who was preceded by another communication director, who was preceded by another communication director.When I called the first one,  he would actually speak to me. One time he told me, "Oh they are testing a navigation radar and a low level powered radio system today." Bless his heart.  The next one and the next one after that have never responded. At some point I decided to communicate directly with the CEO of the subsidiary, of which there have been 4, the overseer of Fleet services- who presumably is the Navy's liason- the communications director and the  lawyer, Jon Fitzgerald who is a vice president and whotestified about the 40 million dollar indifference bill.
I finally included a note that I was cc:ing the text to New York Times reporting staff. And then when they ignored that, I specified the lead writer on the front page New York Times story about the sonic attack on employees at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. 
I have never gotten a return registered letter like the one I sent to Mr. Geiger and Mr. Harris, former CEOs respectively, about the damage caused by their 1) sonar 2)radar systems 3) security devices. All of which takes place at the end of the yard, by the way, with the big old briny Kennebec River right there, to keep watch over.
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016 at 4:45am
Dear Mr. Harris,
What testing is in place at BIW this morning from 3 AM or so on? Sonar is harmful.
Thursday, April 14, 2017 Matt Wickenhouser, the Communications Director called me  back after multiple multiple contacts by me.  "They are not testing any thing (with an emphasis on the word testing)" When I threatened legal action if they didn't respond, Mr. Wickenhhouser wrote:
"At this point I will no longer respond to your messages , given your decision to pursue legal action. Our counsel is Jon Fitzgerald." Now, Mr. Fitzgerald is a vice-president.ewho testified as theleadl lobbyist on this tax break bill who I have also contacted multipletimes  precisely when the disturbance because of sonar/radar/"you tell us" is happening.
I  contacted Mr. Fitzgerald multiple times: August 29, 2017 3 am  July 17, 2017 3 am  Dec 7, 2017 7:37am  Nov 19, 2017 5:58am  October 28, 2017 12:08am  Dec 28, 2017 1:42AM  Jan 5, 2018 5:05am  Dec 26, 3:45am
My text pretty much said and asked the same question.

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald,  Starting at about [fill in the time], the sound of testing of a sonar device at or near the drydock on Washington St. is loud and disruptive. Please inform me before your company testing begins. And please remember the Duke  University Engineering work which indicates that sonar  disrupts on the cellular level."

 After this bill was filed,  a  reporter using the Freedom of Access law, obtained copies of Mr. Fitzgerald's communication with the bill's sponsor.
The legislator needed "talking points" from Mr. Fitzgerald.
“I am available at your convenience, thanks for sponsoring.”
“[H]appy to host a working lunch or whatever works for you,” Fitzgerald said in a Dec. 8 email to the bill's sponsor. “At that time, I will have the expanded list of city/town BIW employment, a draft of the legislation, a multi-page listing of state, county and municipal assistance provided to Ingalls in Mississippi. It would be great to get specific on co-sponsors and any other details you require.”

[Ingalls Shipbuilding is a BIW rival based in Pacagoula, Miss. Bath Iron Works has argued the renewal of a 1997 tax deal from Maine is essential to maintaining the company’s competitiveness with Ingalls, which has received considerable subsidies from its state".] The two met Bath Iron Works’ offices.

“[W]ould you like me to order lunch?” Fitzgerald wrote. “I would get something from the Sandwich Shop. If that works for you, let me know what you would like, they usually have fish chowder on Friday.”

“Sounds good,” former State legislator Jen DeChant replied. “Turkey sandwich. Thank you.”
In the many times I texted Mr. Fitzgerald and other managment, he never expressed any concern about the children, adult, animals, mammals, including me who live in the South End. Nor we might add, has the bill's sponsor.

Truth be told, I received one response from Mr. Fitzgerald to the multifold I sent. "There is no testing of sonar equipment at 4 am. " he texted on Wednesday September 13, 2017. Testing as opposed to installing; using as opposed to testing; sonar as  opposed to radar; radio waves as opposed to radar. I am not a medical physicist so parsing exactly what they are doing is difficult.

The obvious question is  what is happening there because children and adults, mammals, feel the physical consequence when BIW is using/testing/installing/exploring with sonic/security/radar devices.  Because they have not bothered to respond. That is indifference.  One local principled activist has decided to go ona hunger strike to protest the 40 million $ indifference bill. Coincidence isn't it that in the  long run the most compelling evidence of indifference against this weapons producing company may be an emaciated human body.

The Indifference Diaries, Part 2: Giving Three Million Dollars to Corporations While Maltreated Children Wait

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:52

Maine's children receive grossly inadequate services from Child Protective Services. Three have been murdered or had a perpetrator convicted in Maine since December. The Legislature has prioritized giving 3 million dollars to the subsidiary of the largest weapons making corporation in the world. Protection for children tagged as maltreated remains underfunded all the same.


The Indifference Diaries: Part 2 Prioritizing Corporations Over Maltreated Children

-Susan Cook-


In December of 2017, a 4 year old child was murdered by the partner of her grandfather, after Maine's Child Protective Services placed her in their foster care. She is one of 3 children murdered or whose perpetrator was sentenced for murder in Maine since December. The living situations of these children were not investigated by Child Protective despite multiple reports. Maine funding for Child Protective has been substantially reduced. One example: 2.2 million dollars for Community Partnerships for Protecting Children will end in September.


In December, local legislators not far from where the 4 year old lived were carefully catered to the BIW Vice President Jon Fitzgerald grooming them to sponsor a 3 million tax cut bill for the local subsidiary of the fifth largest weapons maker in the world. State Senator Dana Dow of Wiscasset, the town where the 4 year old lived in an under-investigated foster home, has spoken loudly about the need for that 3 million dollar a year tax cut.


There is not enough money for both good services for maltreated children and 3 million for BIW managment in the state budget. If there were, children who have been screened in as likely child maltreatment cases would not have to wait an average of 99 days for services.


Then there's the ten year old in Stockton Springs who died in February after being beaten daily, multiple Child Protective reports ignored. State Senate President Mike Thibodeau and State Representative Karlton Ward represent the district where she lived while Child Protective report after report were ignored by an underfunded DHHS. These legislators too want the state to give that 3 million dollars a year toBIW.


The annual federal Child Maltreatment report has been published for 27 years for the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, by the Children's Bureau of the Department of Human Services. Child fatalities, Child Protective Services data and Perpetrator data are voluntarily sent. Maine has gaping omissions in the data they submit.


*Maine's Data on the number of child fatalities in 2016 is left out.

*Maine's Data on the number of child maltreatent victims eligible for then referred to other agencies is missing

*Maine's Data on the number of maltreatment victims who received court action is missing.


The Child Maltreatment report is available about a year after it is collected. Maine's 2016 Child Maltreatment information sent in tells us there were about 225000 children under 18 in Maine.


*There were 3158 perpetrators that year who maltreated 3446 child victims that year.

*1626 children received services that year.

*Of those 1626 children, 799 received services on or after the report date.

*The average number of days after report until the child received services was 99 days .

* About 23 calls a day or 8392 calls were received through the Child Abuse hotline. 7618 were screened out.

*That leaves 774 children who were reported as possible victims of maltreatment who on average 99 days later would be recieve services from the state of Maine.


Multi-billion dollar corporation General Dynamics/ Bath Iron Works will wait far less time to know if they'll receive 3 million dollars a year in a cash back tax subsidy.


Three million dollars a year works out to about $3800 a year to pay for services for each of those 774 children screened in as maltreated. A 99 day wait period- on average – is hideous.


So to get back to Senator Thibodeau and Senator Dow sponsoring 3 million in BIW cash tax rebates, why not spend it on saving children's lives and bringing them services soon after someone calls suspecting child maltreatment? There is not enough money for both.


Does it have to wait until someone realizes "That's Senator Thibodeau's and Representative Ward's district. That happened in Senator Dow's district, the chair of the Taxation Committe who strong-armed everyone into giving 3 million dollars in year-end retirment contribution/bonus money to the 5 th largest weapons maker in the world." I have worked with children and adolescents since 1976. I do not know what a diary of these children in the last weeks of their lives would say. I do know that 3800 dollars a year that might pay for a once a week home visit for each child would go a long way toward preventing their deaths. That amount would cover the same service for the other 774 children tagged as being maltreated in 2016. Favoring corporations over 774 children tagged as maltreated is indifference. Not to corporations but to children.

The Indifference Diaries, Part 3. Using Good To Create Evil, Seizing the Parent/Child Bond to Punish

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:57

Being of the wrong lineage, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, now carries devastating consequences for the children of parents caught crossing the US border illegally. Separation from attachment figures has been documented by generations of developmental scientists as carrying grave consequences for children. Attorney General Sessions now justifies its use as a tool to punish asylum seekers.



The Indifference Diaries, Part 3. Using Good To Create Evil, Seizing the Parent/Child Bond to Punish

The Pope  now prevails upon the world to believe that Reproductive Rights- including termination of an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy- are the equivalent of Nazi-era eugenics. His effort to sanctify bearing children by placing it under the umbrella of church doctrine stands  in direct contrast to Attorney General Jeff Session's policy of seizing children who cross the border illegally with their parents. Children as contraband that the government can take away because the parent has sought freedom certainly bears many of  the hallmarks  of eugenics. The suffering created for these children because government has deemed them an object for punitive purposes suggests a selective identification like eugenics-  not because the child is in danger but because the government has chosen to  because the government doesn't like the parent's judgment in seeking illegal entry into this country. Yes, there are connections between separation of parent and child and death, as the work of Swiss psychiatrist Rene Spitz first documented in 1945.

Of course, Sessions selectively  parses which parental judgement is  a problem. That's  similar to the selective exclusion of  poor parental judgement we have witnessed here in Maine under Governor  Paul Lepage.  In Maine, since December 2017, the media has reported  arrests, sentencing and criminal prosecution in the deaths of 5 children murdered by 5 caretakers. Each death was preceded by multiple reports to Maine's Department of Health and Human Services  now ineffective because of underfunding by conservative lawmakers thus  allowing  attribution of their selective inattention to high case loads. 

Yes, the legal system and judges exploit the parent/child bond, too,  now used as a point of contention- much like shared financial assets are -  in high conflict divorces where attorneys fill their pockets as divorcing parents  repeatedly litigate child custody. There is little or no acknowledgement of the pain inflicted on children by separation from their primary attachment figure let alone the disruption to children's daily lives ("Where's my soccer uniform/ homework/ snow pants? Oh, they're at Dad's ") .  Brangelina now anoint high conflict divorce as high social dilemma because Brad Pitt seeks to take on shared equal physical custody of their children with  Angelina Jolie.

Generations of child psychologists and child psychiatrists have documented the extraordinary consequence of parent/child separation and the level of trauma disruption inflicts. Swiss child psychiatrist Rene Spitz first described anaclitic depression in infants in his 1945 article "Hospitalism: The Inquiry into the Genesis of Psychiatric Conditions in Early Childhood." (The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, v. 1,  Ed. Anna Freud et al)

He specified " the evil effect of institutional care on infants, placed in institutions from an early age, particularly from the psychiatric point of view." His research was  especially concerned with the effect of continuous institutional care of infants under one year of age, "for reasons other than sickness."  One of his most influential studies compared the developmental status of children in 4 different conditions, including one prison: 3 where children were with their mothers or a significant sole attachment figure, one a foundling home where multiple staff members  kept the children  under hygienic conditions,  carefully maintained, in individual cubicles, "adequate food excellently prepared and individualized according to the needs of each child".  In the foundling home, the temperature of the room is appropriate, he wrote,  with "pastel-colored dresses and blankets" for each child. Physicians visited the children once a day. One head nurse and 5 assistant nurses tended to 45 babies, a few by their mothers. By a few months of age,  all of them were removed to isolated cubicles. 

The developmental status of the foundling home children became  substantially and significantly lower than children in the 3 other groups over their first 12 months-  beginning with a precipitous decline at 4 months.  This happened despite the fact that the "Foundling" home children begin with developmental scores equivalent to the 3 other groups. 

Spitz documented that the withdrawal, refusal to eat, failure to thrive, retardation of development, insomnia fit a syndrome which he called "anaclitic depression provoked by separation from their love object."  In fact, despite the  hygienic conditions and asepsis, availability of medical care and food, the mortality of foundling children "was inordinately high" of life.  Thirty four of the 91 foundling home died within the first 2 years.

Spitz first published this work in 1945. Urie Bronfenbrenner republished it in 1972. The work spurred generations of studies of  attachment  which amplify its central significance as a  vital fluid in  human development. Bessel VanderKoerk now proposes separation from primary attachment figures as "developmental trauma" equivalent to post-traumatic stress disorder.  

There were no Pokemon posters on the walls of the  circa 1945 foundling home like there are in the former Walmart supercenter where Jeff Sessions now houses  some of the close to 2000 children seized from their parents who chose to seek safety for them here. He claims cleanliness, food, clothing and toys are adequate substitutes for the physical presence of their attachment figures.  Spitz  and legions of developmental specialists prove that is simply not the case .

The Society for Research in Child Development has chosen to not violate their 501-c3 status by openly condemning a political policy but is publicizing  the developmental science  about the danger of separation of children from attachment figures "that speaks for itself". The high mortality rate of the children separated from their "love object"  that Spitz- and others- have documented tells us that separating children from their parents is a kind of passive eugenics. Passive because  the US  Senators and Congressional representatives allowing the policy to continue won't see its impact but eugenics just the same. A child of the wrong lineage, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Indifference Diaries, Part Four: Adventures in the Skin Trade and Child Maltreatment

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:17

The murders of four children at the hands of caretakers were adjudicated by Maine's court system recently. As the last days of a child whose grandfather's girlfriend is on trial for her murder, the question is raised. What factors influence the caretakers of children who are abused, neglected or abandoned.


The Indifference Dairies, Part Four: Adventures in the Skin Trade and Child Maltreatment


-Susan Cook-


In "Adventures in the Skin Trade", Dylan Thomas writes of a boy lying in a summer corn field, dozing off to dream of a young woman who captivates him. "I'll have a baby on every hill,"she tells him, love and romance re-draped over childbirth, the reality receding that love alone does not create competent childrearing, the consequences of parenting failures left for the child to bear.


In Maine, the minute details of that failing came under public scrutiny during the trial of a woman who, as the foster caretaker of her boyfriend's son's child, murdered the child. The child was one of 4 child deaths adjudicated by the Maine legal system during a recent one year period.


Maine's Child Protective Services removed the child from the biological parents. Child Protective services never returned to assess the safety of the child or the adequacy of the new caretakers.


The testimony of the medical examiner about the child's injuries, offered in intricate detail and reported by the local The Wiscasset Newspaper, is bone chilling, explicating "the early signs of dying during a slow dying process" . The caretakers ignored them. DHHS or the child's biological parents were nowhere to be found.


I spent several years studying parents' conceptions of children, childrearing and parental influence for my Masters' Thesis, later published in a peer reviewed journal. The research included Maine samples of parents with a history of abuse and neglect as well as parents with no such history.


"The human potentials realized in the parental role are often reduced to the singular notion that it is the capacity to love which provides the motivation, resilience, and understanding to nurture a child. Yet, loving parents can understand and treat their children in very different ways. Studies of family violence suggest that the emotional investments of parenthood remain highly vulnerable to the stresses and demands of childrearing." (Newberger and Cook, Am. J.of Orthopsychiatry, 53 (3), July 1983, p. 512)


The town where the child lived announces itself on a road sign as "the prettiest village in Maine". The spots within its boundaries - poor people frequent- The Family Dollar store where one cashier noticed bruises on the child and considered calling Child Protective Services is in a non-descript strip mall. The locally-owned flourishing discount store which sells low-priced surplus, overstocked and fire-damaged goods serves many who live in poverty. There, the adult shoppers with their developmental disabilities and lost capabilities accompanied by their group home staff, peruse items. Maybe the child was brought there or given one of the low priced toy or children's books. The reporter noted that the foster caretakers eventually stopped taking the child out in public "because of her bruises."


Romanticized proprietary childbearing fantasies or accidental conception did not save this child from dying any more than the dreamer in the Dylan Thomas story brought a baby born on each hill who was not abused.


I visited Wiscasset and the local discount store days during the trial. The cashiers at the The Family Dollar are a stanchion for the abused and vulnerable. Still, Family Dollar treats their employees poorly- exponentially increasing their own life stress. I don't know if the cashier was the same one who noticed the child's bruises because these no-benefit, low-paying jobs have high turnover. The local discount store was eerily quiet- hardly any developmentally disabled adults and their group home staff there that day.


Both the prosecutor's expert witness who examined the child's multiple injuries and the defense attorney's expert witness agreed that the child died of child abuse- deliberately inflicted injury rendered by an adult or adults.


Parental Conceptions have been studied and replicated as a risk factor- in other research- prospectively, most notably by Egelund and Brunquell. Parents at risk of child abandonment and abuse see their children as either empty vessels who absorb and mimic the environment "poured" into them or if the child is resistant- a carrier of some defect that defies outside influence. Discipline is solely to hold power and control over the child, the parent shaping the child in the parent's image. The unique perspective of this child - the vulnerability, pain, distress, is foreign to them.


Thought influences mood and behavior. Parental Conceptions effect - likely not exclusively- how parents act. Trusting or not trusting one's own parental adequacy or potential adequacy is often not considered in childbearing decisions. The pressure to not terminate a pregnancy - and the visible demonizing and shaming of women who believe reproductive choice is a human responsibility- leads to decisions further removed from the pregnant woman and her belief that she or her partner do not have the capacity or will to prevent abuse, neglect or child abandonment. Right-to-Life proponents, protesters who stand outside of Planned Parenthood Clinics with pictures of in-utero fetuses did not and still have not rallied to insure that Maine's Child Protective Services keep children safe. It is almost as if Dylan Thomas is at it again- romanticizing - over and over- this time- the pro-Life crowd who want to cut services that cost money- at the cost of a child's life. And then are nowhere to be found.

How to Be Invisible, Part 2: Preventing Maltreatment By Listening to Someone Else

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 09:50

Our society has systematically discredited women's ability to know themselves, their bodies and their ability to parent. Child maltreatment, Harvey Weinstein's victimization and Ireland's long permission to invade women's private medical decisions are consequences of that discrediting.


How to Be Invisible, Part 2: Preventing Child Maltreatment by
Listening to Someone Else

-Susan Cook-


I was driving to the local farmer's market the other day, in the rain. Not torrential, but still, rain. I passed a man walking by the roadside with a ma-a-y-be 4 or 5 month old baby in a baby carrier backpack, the child facing forward. No hat. Legs and arms completely bare and exposed. The child's, that is. I thought for about 3 seconds and I slowed and rolled the window and said to the father (I assume), "Your baby's head is getting wet." Father had his hat and rain jacket, on. He nodded and pointed generally down the road. I rolled the window back up and started to drive. Then, I thought about another 3 seconds, rolled down the window and said "You know little kids get hypothermia a lot quicker than adults do."

"Thanks for the help," he said, "[Expletive] ... off."


I continued driving , thought about Child Protective's 1-800- line, the local police and continued to drive. Child Protective in Maine has now been documented as negligent following release of a vague "investigation" of 2 child deaths by caretakers since December 2017. Three other events linked to the deaths of 3 other children at the hands of caretakers also took place. That's 5 children killed by caretakers since December. Largely uninvestigated. It is after all, the time of fertilizing political egos. Election season.


Child Protective will take a long time to be "on their game" enough to investigate a baby who "might" get hypothermia from bare skin completely exposed to rain.


I once told a father of a similarly small baby that he should not take the child in his canoe on a lake that becomes quickly rough during a canoe race. Oh, he had already placed the child in the canoe, the child with a life preserver on. Let's be clear- the life preserver was not the father's good judgement. I did call Child Protective that time.


Ego is inextricably bound to parenting. Every chicken speck of ego fragility, every blurring of the absolutely necessary distinction between what is safe for children and what is safe for adults- after a live birth- gets tossed into the more powerful, more dominant current of a parent's ego. Parenting means putting your own needs on hold- whether it means missing the farmer's market closing or abandoning your addiction.


"My kids are the ones that look like me," I heard a mother call out to someone recently.


Ego is not just about vanity. It's about when parents won't acknowledge the impact of their actions on their children. Ego can make a parent's conscience as opposite as the perspective of the child sitting behind the father in the baby carrier. And it contributes to child maltreatment. (See Parental Awareness and Child Abuse and Neglect, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, July 1983).


I told one of the fiercer peace advocates I know about this event later in the day. "I've done that and you pay for it."

She's right about that. I wrote a letter to the newspaper about the 4 Maine child maltreatment deaths since December. An immediate comment from a Republican said "She's a political operative who accused the Republican State Senate President of "tapping" her phone." The comment reflects the same sloppiness of detail the then- yes- Republican Governor and DHHS commissioner brought to reviewing the 5 child deaths. No effort to be accurate in response to the many calls to Child protective about these children that were dismissed.


The "[Expletive]... off" comment came on the same day that Irish women were celebrating the successful referendum to remove the abortion ban from Irish law. It comes the day after Harvey Weinstein was charged, arrested and lead off in handcuffs for rape and sexual assault of two of the many women he victimized. Both in their own way speak to the permission to discredit women- pregnant or not- who know best what their own bodies have experienced, their own suitability and ability to parent, and the suitability and ability of the fertilizing male to parent a baby born after that long period of incubation. It's not about the threat to the father's ego called on to support the woman's ego. When one unmarried, single woman who bravely and independently fended off society's then rampant familial shaming and humiliation to give birth to the child, called the emotionally disengaged father from her hospital bed to announce the child's birth, he hung up.


Emotionally, the immediate defense against shaming is a wish for invisibility. Fear of shaming- and its explotation- made Harvey Weinstein's accusers invisibile. Successful shaming leads to real invisibility. Irish women (and Americans) for generations were sequestered in 'homes for unwed mothers", their infants ripped from them and, a Maine newspaper recently reported, sold by the Catholic church to those willing to make donations.


The zygote, the newly fertilized ova, the embryo are now medically visible to pregnant women, as they have never been before. The physical and emotional needs of the developing fetus, for nutrition, medical care, substance- free, psychotropic- medication free, mothers whose emotional bearings are free from abuse and yes, shaming, remain the same. Very often unacknowledged and ignored. Maine's then Governor and then DHHS head banned child-bearing age women from receiving food stamps if they held over $5000 in assets- a reliable vehicle, a motor home, a savings account. They opposed Medicaid for poor childbearing age women.


The people who knows best what her body has experienced, much as Harvey Weinstein's victims know best what he did to their bodies, much as Irish Women know best their own invisibility to the physical intrusiveness of Ireland's government and the church, are the women themselves. Any politician's effort to suggest they know better than the woman replicates and breeds the theft of credibility, like that of Harvey Weinstein's victims. Like that of women sequestered in Irish homes for unwed women.


Unconditional credibility for women begins to end shaming as the tool that pries a woman off her own body's instinct to speak up or acknowledge what it knows and makes her gut invisible to herself.


This brings us to the Gag rule Congress now reviews to prohibit Planned Parenthood clinics from telling women about options for termination of a pregnancy. It is another version of the discrediting of Weinstein's victims, the practice of sequestering of unwed, pregnant women and yes, the hip young dad telling me to "[Expletive]... off". Child maltreatment is, as ever, put on the backseat made invisible egocentrically, by shaming, humiliating and discrediting. Just saying, "[Expletive]... off" if someone happens to notice it.

The Little Prince and His Imaginary Rose: Her Imaginary Care and The Proprietary Life

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:17

I’m not sure how one marries the  proprietary "I give the right to life”  to the “I give the right to life free from emotional and physical torment”. Like “The Little Prince” in St. Exupery’s book, the rose some in our society imagine they "give the right to life” becomes even more imaginary when it comes to her care, drawn only on paper. And even when the roses are real, a judicial system that gives only a verbal warning to an alleged sexual abuser to have no contact with children gives only imaginary protection to them.


The ‘Little Prince”  and His Imaginary Rose:
Her Imaginary Care and  the Proprietary Life
-Susan Cook-
“I gave my children the right to life“,  a friend said to me recently.  I was struck by how proprietary that view- that who conceives a child owns the right to life. I had never quite heard it put that way. There is much more to be done to own life and nurture children than conception .
I remembered that conversation  when the founder of a local youth theater group was indicted for sexual exploitation, unlawful sexual contact with children under the age of 12 and violation of their privacy. The accused’s attorney  sought 500 dollars cash bail . The judge raised it to 5000 dollars cash bail and 50,000 dollars real estate surety and "banned" the alleged perpetrator from having contact with children under the age of 16. The tone of his defender in the local newspaper generously left room for doubt. The demand for a complete and thorough review of policy and practice, conviction on hand or not, was muted by comparison. The fear that some "citizen" might lead to disenfranchisement of the theater group seemed an undercurrent.
The founder of the local youth theater group has now been sentenced to 10 years in state prison for the sexual abuse of 8 children.
Sexual abuse and molestation damage the right to a life free from emotional and physical torment and life-long impaired functioning. I often wonder why the same  logic used by Second Amendment proponents "If guns are outlawed, only  outlaws will have guns" isn't  applied to someone who has been indicted on sexual abuse charges who has successfully deceived caretakers. Why wouldn’t that same deception apply to his agreement to ban himself from harming them? Why would a judge believe that sexual abuse indictments bring some magical restoration of a conscience which says do not hurt children?  The legal system's bar seems to be set very high for the proof required to show that children are in need of protection from an alleged exploiter.  Five hundred dollars cash bail? All the indicted has to do is nod his head "Yes." The  protesters outside Planned Parenthood clinics holding pictures of fetuses, directed toward those who see parenthood as a privilege, needing responsible commitment and planning are lawfully permitted to engage in far more shaming and hostility than this man indicted on sexual abuse charges will witness. 
Still, this “sole proprietorship” claim -“I give them the right to life”- does nothing to protect children when there is no ownership or accountability, personally, or by society, for a life damaged by   neglect and abuse, dangerous parenting, poverty, non-vigilant child care or a legal system that relies on a verbal caveat to alleged sexual abusers "to avoid contact with children under 16". I am reminded of the Portland Press Herald report that the average number of years spent in jail by people  convicted of murdering a child in Maine is six years. I am reminded of the Maine Children’s Death Study (1980, Maine Bureau of Health) which found that the co-occurring factor for most  children who die by any means between birth and age 18  is the family’s receipt of food stamps. In other words, poverty. The  "Adverse Childhood Experiences" (ACE) study  now further confirms that abuse and neglect lead to markedly higher levels of  physical and emotional illness, and impaired functioning throughout life.
At the same time, personal choice after conception to continue a pregnancy - or not- what an individual can claim as theirs to decide- is always being disputed by those who claim to be the better judge than the mother of whether she has the emotional, physical and social capacity to bear and raise a child free from abuse, neglect and torment. It is only the child who suffers from their misjudgement and the shaming and humiliation of a woman who does not believe she can give a child a safe life. Nobody contests the average 6 year sentence in Maine of murderers of young children. Nobody contests the gross inadequacy of a judicial system giving a verbal warning to an alleged abuser to have no contact with children under the age of 16. Ownership of the damage and suffering children experience  when raised by parents whose reckless self indulgence or deprivation take precedence over a child’s well-being may be nowhere to be found. It does not freely follow from the sole-proprietor “I give the right to life" claim.
We are not a society that takes care of children or mothers. They are not guaranteed good care if the state enters into the home because neglect or abuse has been recognized. The foster care system is miserably under funded and inadequate. Maine has witnessed in recent months yet another murder of a child by a foster home caretaker deemed adequate by the Department of Health and Human Services.
A woman  offered maternity leave at 1/3 her prior salary is inadequately paid. There is certainly no wish to extend any care or bounty to chilldren of illegal immigrants, asylum seekers or legal immigrants, a recent suggestion floated that parents and children seeking asylum be held in separate facilities by Immigration authorities.
I’m not sure how one marries the  proprietary "I give the right to life”  to the “I give the right to life free from emotional and physical torment”. Like “The Little Prince” in St. Exupery’s book, the rose some in our society imagine they "give the right to life” becomes even more imaginary when it comes to her care, drawn only on paper. And even when the roses are real, a judicial system that requires only a verbal warning to an alleged sexual abuser to have no contact with children gives only imaginary protection to them.

Seeing Consequence Before It Happens: Asking Questions about Children who are Suffering, Noticing the Answer

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:20

We know the consequence of indifference.In late 2017, Maine witnessed 3 murders of children: 2 by foster care-takers, one at the hands of the nonbiological partner of the parent and a pregnant parent. Just-like-that. Although we know it was not just-like-that. It was consequence. And we have to say, from the Commissioner of the Dept. of Health and Human Services on down, ours to be accountable for.


Seeing Consequence Before It Happens: Asking Questions, Noticing the Answer

-Susan Cook-
In Buddhism, samsara is the Sanskrit word for the endless cycle of suffering: birth, death, rebirth, misery. They poach some of their  agony about this onto "karma" which is regularly misinterpreted to mean "What goes around , comes around." That is a misinterpretation of karma. Karma says, quite simply, there is a consequence from cause and effect. That doesn't mean that we dismiss the possibility of a user-friendly existence. Samsara says, quite simply, "We know."
I am reminded of this as yet another child has died in a foster home deemed safe by Maine's Department of Health and Human Services Commissione,  the head of the organization so yes, the karma is the Commissioner's to bear, ultimately. 
I run out of ideas about how we help people become more vigilant about watching children to make sure they are cared for and not in harm's way.  I say that in the wake of an active and engaged interest in child abuse and neglect that stretches back to 1976. I worked then as a home visitor to children aged 3 or under who were considered "at risk". Bearing witness to parents barely able to provide warm shelter in rural Maine winters and watching children take second place to their parents' inability to see beyond their own needs set me on a path of inquiry. Why do some parents end up in that circumstance?
Now, sometimes it seems others deign to ask that question. That it is not for us to ask why but ours to watch when it happens and say the karma lies elsewhere.
I was in a training chock-full of clinicians, guardian-ad-litem (those appointed by the court to assess the best interest of the child), lawyers, judges and state Child Protective officials.
Back then, a child had been murdered by another foster parent, who also had been a child welfare worker. I asked what seemed an obvious question of the Child Protective official. What has changed since the child's death?
Vipers don't recoil more quickly than the Child Protective Official did.
"Maybe you should tell us what you think should change, " in a tone that even in a cold Maine winter was icy and mocking. 
I have to say, it was, at that point, that I wondered if there was still any interest in asking "why" anymore.
Rather, as time has progressed, care for what happens to children is directed toward the zygote - immediate post conception- or the embryo stage- the first 10 or 8 weeks of pregnancy. Terminating an unwanted pregnancy at that point is now vociferously protested  as indifference to well-being. 
When a spiritual tone envelops the discussion,  the view becomes even more unambiguous about what is or is not protecting a child.
When I told one clinician who was  outspoken about his deep sensitivity to zygote/ embryonic pregnancy, that I worked with children in high conflict families, often with abuse present, he said, "Oh, that's big of you. If you're drawn to that kind of work." I asked myself how an avidly outspoken clinician, keenly sensitive to zygote/embryonic pregnancy could not be drawn to working with children at risk for abuse  in those situations.
That is karma. Without being drawn to the consequence of zygote, embryonic, fetal development, labor, delivery, birth, neonatal health, developmental stages, and the context of parental and family care, the karma  may well become indifference.
We know the consequence of indifference. Maine now has another child murdered by a foster care-taker. Just-like-that. Although we know it was not just-like-that. It was karma. And we have to say, from the Commissioner on down, ours.

Compassion and Its Blindspots: Women's Turn for No Compassion in Alabama

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:09

A Buddhist teacher talking about Compassion told the story of the leader ripping open his vein to feed a starving stranger. Bodily acts coming out of compassion to prevent suffering are found in many spiritual traditions. The blindspots in compassion in this society it appears may now prevent recognition of the decision to end a pregnancy as one of those acts.


Compassion and Its Blindspots: Finding A New Dedication to Merit


I heard a Buddhist teacher talk recently about Compassion, he born in Bhutan. In Bhutan, wealth is measured by Gross National Happiness, not a Gross National Product. There is no military. Hatred, anger and suffering the teacher said are dispelled by compassion. He explained the origin of a Buddhist liturgy that like in any other tradition people will repeat without really understanding its significance. The liturgy recited after a lengthy practice session or teaching goes like this,


By this merit may all obtain omniscience,

May it defeat the enemy wrongdoing,

From stormy waves of birth, old age, sickness and death,

from the ocean of samsara may I free all beings


A variation of this liturgy says,

By the confidence of the golden sun of the Great East

May the lotus garden of the rigdens' wisdom bloom

May the dark ignorance of sensient being be dispelled.

May we all obtain profound brilliant glory.


The merit , he explained, comes from an example set by the ruler of a mythical and beatific country where establishing compassion was the standard by which everyone lived. Some very dark evil carnivorous beings came who had no compassion and because this was a country where killing to eat was not tolerated, they had nothing to eat. They came to the ruler, starving and on the verge of death and asked him to given them food. And the ruler ripped open his vein and gave them blood to save them and from this he created the Dedication of Merit.


From the beginning of time, war and conflict between men (largely) has been the source of blood sacrifice that is considered noble, patriotic, beyond question as an act of valor. Compassion rarely comes from that. Rather, we are more familiar with body strewn images of the Civil War, World War I and II, the Vietnam War, any war that comes to mind. and the misery of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so closely associated with those who survive the horrors of war. Somewhere along the line, the ripping open of the veins to feed the starving as an act of compassion to end suffering has been subverted: the patriotic encouraging the blood shed unaccompanied by compassionate intent.


This brings us to the current vitriol surrounding the termination of pregnancies. There is much more beyond conception to creation of compassionate care for the breathing born 40 weeks or less later. This is not a secret. Women know what is not available to the unborn, the deprivations of the unborn in utero that psychological and emotional despair, poor nutrition, poverty, alcohol and opiod use, and abuse of the body of the woman carrying the child creates. Who bears the deprivation of care most significantly, if the infant survives to a breathing birth, is the child.



The decision to terminate a pregnancy is the ripping open of the vein like the king in the Dedication of Merit origin- a choice to bear the suffering oneself rather than 40 weeks later pass the deprivation, the abuse, the harm onto a being only able to breath on their own at birth.

Like the leader, it is an act of compassion in which one bears the consequence ones self. It is only in white Western elite societies that sophisticated medical technology allows survival of some infants after birth that in third world countries without medical sophistication do not never survive.


The "merit" that Donald Trump know endorses as a criteria for immigration to this country reifies the White Western elitism seen in births that survive because of sophisticated medical technology and the absence of that "merit" in third world countries.


There is no license granted in any spiritual tradition to my knowledge to reserve bodily sacrifice for the War dead. The ruler ripping open his vein to feed those filled with hatred and contempt as an act of compassion is not unlike those ending a pregnancy who openly acknowledge their own inability to provide compassionate care because no mystery here- society or family do not or will not provide the care either. The deprivation of care after birth is passed on after a 40 week gestation period- if a breathing being endures the deprivations. Many do not feel entitled to make the zygote, the embryo, the fetus bear the suffering of the deprivation. Like the Buddhist leader who chose to bear it himself, they choose to bear it themselves and terminate the pregnancy.

There is a spiritual blindspot in the pronouncements of the Alabama and Missouri governors who pass legislation to ban termination of all pregnancies because- this is no mystery either- they fail to acknowledge "the life" they alledgely are saving needs much much more to survive to a live birth let alone grow to and through a healthy childhood. In keeping with the Dedication of Merit, we could establish a new merit rating for each for these states that pretend to glorify life by assessing these qualities:

-availability of free birth control to all conception-eligible women to prevent unwanted pregnancy

-provision of housing, food, medical care and employment at a living wage scale for women during pregnancy

- provision of safe, reliable, well monitored child care immediately after birth

-Medicaid and Medicare for all

- Food stamps distributed without shaming or race-baiting

-psychological and psychotherapy intervention widely available 

-healthy, safe foster care if a mother cannot provide care

Men or family may well not be willing or able to provide care. In the United States,society is not- no surprise- our extended family. And for the woman who is victimized, incested, raped, shunned, broke, abandoned, partner-less, or damaged in body, mind and spirit, ripping open the vein, terminating a pregnancy may be the only act of compassion available and she chooses it.


Sunshine Week Is Coming! Public Record Access and the Freedom of Information

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:22

March brings us Sunshine Week, an annual honoring of the ethical and legal obligation for Transparency of Public Records and the Freedom of Information Act which sustains it. The impeachment trial immersed us in avoidance of transparancy, if not efforts to make invisible the public records of the US government. How are we doing here in Maine?


Sunshine Week: March 8 - March 15, 2020.
Honoring Freedom of Information

-Susan Cook

Harry Potter knows the difference between transparency and invisibility. His Invisibiity cloak is not necessary for the Transparency which lets him hop through the wall to catch the Hogwarts Express.


The Center for Public Integrity celebrates Sunshine Week to honor Citizens' Right to Know what Government Is Doing (Federal and State) through the Freedom of Information Act and Maine's Public Access Law. The cluster of Maine Democratic Party-affiliated appointees (Governor Janet Mills' appointed staffers, Jeremy Kennedy, former executive director of the Maine Democratic Party, now appointed Chief of Staff, Mills' Communication Director Scott Ogden, former Communication Director of the Maine Democratic Party and others, for example, Speaker Sara Gideon's Director of Communications, former Executive Director of the Maine Democratic Party, Mary Erin Casale, and Jonathen Asen, Speaker Gideon's Chief of Staff) all are required by law to hold allegiance to. Of course, Sara Gideon's attorney of choice during a recent ethics committee complaint against her for campaign contribution problems was Ben Grant, former chair of the Maine Democratc Party when now Governor Janet Mills was the party's Vice-Chair.


I recently tried to exercise the state law called The Maine Public Access law (modeled after the federal Freedom of Information Act) which allows the public access to documents generated in doing state business. Invisibility/ transparency distinctions seem, let's say, fuzzy, at least in Speaker Gideon's office. Maine laws exist to clarify the invisibility/transparency distinction and uphold Democracy.


In February 2018 , I sent a Freedom of Access (FOIA) request to the Maine Office of Information Technology. General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works had presented a bill asking for a 60 million dollar tax break. Will the money cover retirement and/or bonuses funding? Who among you believes that BIW would depend on the vagaries of the Maine Legislature for essential funding?


To look at bill development, I requested the email communication from prior Director of Communications Jody Quintera to the newly appointed Mary Erin Casale.


The first response from Chief of Staff, Jonathan Asen said I was confusing the federal documents under the Freedom of Information Act with Maine public documents. I sent him the documentation that Maine has a Public Access laws too, and said I limited my request to the period between October 31, 2017 and January 31, 2018 and exclusively to email communication.


In May 2018, Speaker Gideon's Chief of Staff replied that the Office of Information technology had pulled 12978 documents from the 93 day period which included the emails of only the Director of Communications. That's about 140 emails sent each day by Ms. Casale each or 17 each hour of an 8 hour day, every single day of those 93 days, including holidays. Mr. Asen said I would have to send him a $3000 downpayment to cover the cost for he and Mary Erin Casale to redact "personal" information and that each page would have to be printed in order to do that at a cost of $.25 per page.


Doesn't transparency become invisibility when names are deleted off email copies? Not in this case. The parchment would be scratched out, Harry Potter-style. In May, I did not say print them. I asked only for electronic copies. The law says the fee is $15 per hour after the first hour of staff time. Transparency, the law's intent, is affordable not exorbitant cost.


August 13, 2018, Mr. Asen received my letter limiting my request to Director of Communication emails between October 31, 2017 and January 31, 2018. He replied only after I queried the FOIA ombudsperson about my request.


November 5, 2018 (Election Day eve), Mr. Asen wrote that he wouldn't provide redacted electronic copies . To receive the documents , I would pay $.25 a page for printing. The cost including the $615 for the cost for Mary Erin Casale to go through redacting printed documents, Mr. Asen nearby, would be over $2000. He now signed his letters "Jonny".


FOIA and Maine Public Access laws mandate transparency. Real transparency among those newly hired by Governor Mills and Legislative leadership makes for better government. If Sunshine Week got by them/, maybe their employers will give them a workshop to make sure they don't confuse invisibility and transparency. Even Harry Potter gets that. 

Why Women Don't Tell, Part 2: July 20, 1969 for Some Women Means Remembering Violence

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:29

The 54th anniversary of the Moon Landing reminds some of us that violence toward women and girls is still minimized.


Why Women Don't Tell: Part 2
This Time It is Not the Victim Who Is Silent
Everyone was remembering where they were the night Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon on July 20, 1969.
I was too. That 1969 night, I was upstairs in my bedroom  cowering, full of fear at the family home  where I grew up.  Not fearful for Collins, Armstrong or Aldrin  but for myself.
My brother who had beaten me up a few weeks earlier after, drunk, he drove the station wagon off a small dirt road was sitting  in the living room downstairs, drinking. No one else was home and as I came downstairs to see one small step for man, one giant step for mankind, I could see he was very drunk. He was a violent drunk. I had no way of knowing whether he would draw his fist again.
I was 17. I had never been beaten up before. I always thought it fortunate that I was able to open the passenger side door and get out .  I was able to outrun him. 
As I watched the American Experience and Nova programs about the Apollo flights, I was wondering  how many other women and girls on July 20, 1969 were cowering somewhere , fearful that a relative, a boyfriend, a stranger passing them in a subway station late at night would turn and assault them. 
And on July 20, 1969, as  so many were remembering that night 50 years ago, how many girls and women were cowering that a male known or unknown to them would attack them.
Out of all that technology has brought us since then, most men are still stronger than women and certainly physically stronger than girls. And violence against women and girls is still to be expected. The assault, the public shaming and humiliation, the denigration of credibility, the character assassination , the demeaning  and the implicit passivity these are all met with when they are directed at females persist.
The President of the United States has taunted. demeaned, and encouraged violence toward  4 women - they are women first-  and few in Congress have spoken loudly and yes- aggressively- spoken out against the violence toward women this President has encouraged.
They have instead focused on the correct political rubric- let's see... is it racist or sexist- and um signed  a resolution. A stranger walked by me the other day in a  store the other day and commented " He's going to end up getting someone killed." He took more a risk in saying that to me than Maine's Senator Collins has. She has said nothing against the violence.
"We're always going to feel strangers to these men," Eric Sevareid, the television commentator said after the landing. " They will in effect be a bit stranger even to their own wives and children. Disappeared into another life we cannot follow.." 
But they were not strangers to us at all, nor were the leaders who rushed to congratulate them. They divorced, wrestled with celebrity.  Never corrected the omission of woman kind from the first words spoken. Richard Nixon, who until recently was the least admired President  in the history of the United States, greeted the astronauts as quickly as he could. Just a month earlier, on June 21, 1969, his Vietnam War- it had become his- killed the first boy my mother ever let me go on a date with - in his car By 1974, Richard Nixon had violated every ounce of civil political discourse imaginable- authorizing a burglary at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Shifting funds to silence the perpetrators. A pettiness so earthly and easily avoided such that no moon shot could cast a shadow big enough to  cloud the small minded self-serving-ness of it.
Eleven billion dollars was spent getting the first men to the moon.  Corrected to present dollars-  it is accurate to say that in the 50 years following the moon landing - eleven billion dollars has not been spent on preventing and solving violence toward women   and girls.
As so few condemn the incitement  of violence by this President (Does he mean to drag them back to "where they came from" by their hair? Or at gun point? )  we have to ask why  we tolerate his encouragement of tacit character assassination, attacks on credibility, and oblivion to violence toward women. 
And we have to ask why in not speaking loudly, vociferously, we tolerate the complicit postures of our Senators and Congress members. Because this time, they are the ones who are silent not the victimized this President is taunting.

Love Really Counts: Greta Thunberg's Plea for Climate Change Action

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:17

Greta Thunberg, in her UN Climate Change speech called on threatened loss of the loved, in her view, the environment to bring action on climate change. If loss of the environment is not enough to change deniers, perhaps loss of the loved will be, just like the grief the loss of loved ones brings to the surface on holidays and anniversaries.


Love Really Counts: Greta Thunberg Calls on Love to End Climate Change


Greta Thunberg's address to the United Nations Climate Change Summit sounded like love suspicious of yet more betrayal and imminent disappointment. "We will never forgive you"she said, if these leaders fail to act. Greta accused them of leaving Love behind for the fairytale of perpetual economic growth.


The hearts' UPC scan code to distinguish false love from true is not perfect. But its accuracy depends on one premise and one premise alone. Love really counts. And now we bear witness to the  winding and wending path climate change has created into the heart of Greta Thuberg. Where scientific documentation of imminent extinction of koala bears and right whales, the collapse of ecosystems, uncontainable widespread drought and wildfires have not impressed the economically driven, love will. If it really counts, that is.


George Bernard Shaw or some other member of the white Western male canon said genius is perpetual adolescence. Adolescence is the developmental proving ground in which love re-discovers and re-invents itself over and over. It is not naive or diminishing to believe love really counts, as Greta Thunberg does but adulthood is the disproving ground where awareness of love's limits are re-discovered: as life's carbon-spewing, coal-fired engine spews along.


I am not the first to use the phrase "Love really Counts" but I did vote for it at a Board meeting for a Maine center which offers free services to families who have lost a loved member. The Center for Grieving Children was founded by a dear colleague after his sister died. After all, bereavement is not pathology. It is the human molting of an interior layer of love, taking its own very long time to surface. Even under the best of circumstances, grief never quite goes away. So my colleague, Bill Hemmens founded a place where children and their parents could go to sit together in that long shedding. When time for the Board to find a brief summation of the Center's mission, "Love really counts" came up, I voted for it. It passed.


Scientific progress has not eliminated bereavement.Only in its absence after loss of a loved one, does the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (Fifth version) codify with a diagnosis. Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder, ICD-10 code F43.21. For a time, we worked on a project to put into print interviews he had done with children who attended the Center. A very young child whose sister had died, told him, in the safe confines of grief acknowledged, "Sometimes in the night when the wind blows, I can hear her crying." And thus a five year old's image resonates with many who have known grief that is both silent and loud enough to wake you from sleep.


As Greta Thunberg looks dead-on into the eye of the world's money-driven, we are struck by their absence of grief at the loss of the natural world and the complete lack of reckoning that the death that goes unmourned may be our own. Witnessed oblivion makes those who heard Greta Thunberg, listen, shuddering, because, we know she believes love really counts. Her indignation toward the world's powerful as they come to her generation for hope betrays her recognition of the underlying pathology that makes Denial of Climate Change political fodder. And "sometimes in the night when the wind blows" the deniers may be awakened by what they have not done.



Re-purposing Good:Sustaining Heart, Finding Truth During the Pandemic

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:32

The pandemic has brought much repurposing for good. As the current President comes to Maine for Public Relations at a factory churning out 1 million nasal test swabs a week, let us acknowledge how we have sustained heart and struggled to find the Truth.


Re-purposing Goodness-Sustaining Heart 

I read today that Donald Trump is coming to Maine to repurpose the Goodness of the Guilford factory churning out 1 million nasal swabs a week. Repurposing their goodness for his own public relations camouflage. All those workers have set aside their fears of illness and contamination during the Lockdown and gone to work anyway. Trump, meanwhile, minmized the pandemic during February. His appointed CDC Director minimized. Nancy Messonier, director of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in February fully a month after the SARS-Covid19 genome was sent to the CDC was quoted in the Washington Post as "frustrated" about problems with the test kits. The CDC hoped to send out a new version to state and local health departments soon. The article said problems with the first test kits sent were created by a failure of the CDC to follow its own protocal for test development: conducting creation of the test kits in 3 different facilities so that no contamination of the components could happen. The trial test kits sent out showed contamination when test sites used the tests on purified sterile water samples which inaccurately indicated presence of Covid-19 in the sterile water.



Nancy Messonier is the sister of Trump-fired former Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who suggested his co-workers tape record Trump as documentation of Trump's mental status. The Trump administration was not above threatening defunding or some other vendetta against this Rosenstein relative Nancy Messonier, as early as January and February we know now.


"Trump," the Washington Post said on April 23, "ignored 70 days of warnings about the Coronavirus beginning in early January. He kept insisting as he did on March 10, that "it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away." Even the Wall Street Journal stepped up and reported that "Trump was 'furious' after Nancy Messonier warned finally on February 25 that the coronavirus was rapidly spreading and that 'the disruption to everyday life might be severe.' Trump called Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and threatened to fire Messonier. " Vice President Pence the next day was declared "in charge" of the pandemic. Azar too was telling Trump exactly what Trump wanted to hear. 


When we consider the heart Mainers bring to fighting Covid19 spread, Trump's actions to – as ever- repurpose any situation to his own self-serving myopia- borders on sinister. His government has worked against Mainers who in their own good way, like the Guilford folk going to work despite fears, did their part.


I went to "Big Al's Super Values" recently the first time since March 21 when Maine began closing almost all of its doors and the electronic sign outside changed from "We Have Toilet Paper"

to "Closed. Saturday March 21 6 PM" to "Reopen?" Big Al has bent with the times, compliance with CDC recommendations required for entry.


The items they sell, "Odd Lot Outlet" all seem slightly more luminous now- not just because the clerks said they have been sanitizing everything. I know they have. Us all in our face masks and face shields, every cookware item, automobile repair assistance tool, toy and coloring book and the fire sale paper and office products from a nationwide retailer who I won't mention by name, all of it seemed brighter.


Yes, a little, just because it was there, even the canary yellow legal size paper. I noticed that because as Maine closed its doors, me running out of paper loomed large. I knew I would soon run out of the 6 for $1.00 small metal clip binders I place around hard copies of my PRX series submissions. For some reason, I thought I'd have enough until the store re-opened. I did run out. I knew I was set with my collapsible portable blanket storage box which serves as my sound and echo-proof recording studio, barring additional disaster.


And yes, far greater loss has merged into American lives, our country, too, a repository of stunned grief like that of refugees or other trauma survivors. Our roots are newly veined with heart breaking events that have become commonplace. The high school seniors with their drive-thru graduations. Many, many members of this disparate society finding a mask to wear, one a friend made, a relative passed on, or something re-purposed to protect.


There are the dancers in their apartment hallways now using the confines of their sequestered freedom to roam, as props in choreography. And the children with their crooked elbows resting their chins on hands. The sadness in their eyes while they gaze into computer screens not photo-shopped out.


We all lose track of time in upending moments, even the usual reliability of time  has changed. Three months in the life of an 8 year old does not have the same duration as that of a ninety year old in an entire life span lived. And the delineation of time, in the stores we visit, in retail, of all things, keeps us from losing hope in an ending. This pandemic gives us a taste of just how debilitating the timelessness anti-aging drugs tantalize us with.


While Big Al's, his staff, we were all doing our part, good was being repurposed for bad by an administration set on deception. In many countries, lying to please the Fuhrer has been commonplace. There is a way in which leaders repurposing good for bad is timeless. In our masks, staying 6 feet away, we need to recognize it when it decides to visit us where we live.

The Thickness of the Moral Skin of the US Senate: To Be the Catcher in the Rye

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:19

The thickness of moral skin is sometimes measured in the willingness of its inhabitants to take on the risk of being the catcher in the rye- the one who protects the children running toward danger. The US Senate during the hearings to vet a Supreme Court nominee stepped aside- almost to a one. The spectacle was almost like watching the ingenuousness of Holden Caulfield falling away after encountering the world's indifference- this time right in front of us.


The Thickness of the Moral Skin of the US Senate: To Be the Catcher in the Rye


"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye? I'd like-"

"It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!" old Phoebe said. "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."

"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."

She was right, though. It is "If a body meet a body coming through the rye." I didn't know it then, though.

"I thought it was "If a body catch a body'," I said."Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch eveybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."


After Holden Caulfield has this conversation with his little sister, in his sojourn before entering a psychiatric hospital, he calls up Mr. Antolini, the Pencey Prep teacher . "He's the one that finally picked up that boy that jumped out the window I told you about, James Castle. Old Mr. Antolini felt his pulse and all, and then he took off his coat and put it over James Castle and carried him all the way over to the infirmary. He didn't even give a damn if his coat got all bloody."



In the aftermath of the confirmation hearing of a prep school alumnus who left a trail of nightmares and unresolved trauma in the emotional web of one 15 year old, the thickness of the moral skin of US Senate members comes to mind. I'll talk about the 2 from my state since I know most about their moments of moral cowering.


In 2007, I was interviewed and quoted by a reporter for Current.org , a public broadcasting newspaper. Susan Collins had contributed mightly to the firing of a popular Friday night jazz host who had criticized the Iraq War- in a genial, understated. way Turns out that the Maine public broadcasting Board of Trustees was comprised of members who together gave over $160,000 to the Republican party. I said (look it up) that Mainers would work hard to defeat Susan Collins in her next go-round she being someone who engages in activities that usually get legislators thrown out of Washington. Now, Senator Collins does not like anyone making reference to her pre-marital relationships in her first 50 years of dating eligibility or recreational activities. That off-sides view that Susan Collins endorses about her own past, may explain her minimizing the testimony of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's sexually assaulted victim. Indecent exposure is also illegal. Instead, she insisted his distortions, lies and beligerence toward his 2018 Senate questioners had nothing to do with his judicial temperament. By Collins' side, as she announced her choice, was Maine's recent failed GOP gubernatorial candidate, former DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew whose cost-cutting adminstration co-occurred with an almost unparalled number of deaths of children at the hands of their foster, biological or step-parents.(https://www.pressherald.com/2018/05/14/letter-to-the-editor-mayhews-dhhs-neglected-maines-children/)


Senator Collins usually hires out her thin moral skin and backlash toward those who threaten. Her one-time Director of New Media Matthew Gagnon was a player on the Maine political commentator scene whose willingness to bully has been documented on the front page of Maine's largest newspaper.


Then there's Maine's other Senator Angus King who ires quickly when anyone calls him out on his - ahem- purchase - when he was governor- of a state-owned oceanfront parcel of land abutting one of Maine's pristine ocean-side state parks. I even a wrote some lyrics sung to the tune from "America the Beautiful" which his purchase decidely was not.The purchase was documented in the Times Record and noted there was no "public bidding" on a piece of property that any one knew would do nothing but increase in value. It is now worth many times what he paid for it by encouraging the right state employee .


"Oh beautiful for spacious me, for land I'd like to buy,

that borders on state property in Georgetown or nearby,

that suddenly the state of Maine would like to sell to me,

the ocean deep, the price real cheap, what better guy than me?"


The morally thin skin of US Senators created a Brett Kavanaugh nomination and hearing that has left millions of sexual assault survivors in this country with a deep sense of moral betrayal. While survivors are compromised because of the emotional fissures trauma creates, many have stepped forward to disclose, despite the insistent cacophony of shame and the self-doubt that the assault is their own fault. Withstanding that self-blame requires morally thick skin which the moral imperative of the Kavanaugh hearing creates.


I do not trust Senator Collins or our other Senators- to be- we all hope they might- the catcher in the rye. Only one came to Holden Caulfield's mind- the teacher who carried the suiciding adolescent boy and didn't even care if he got blood on his jacket. Senator Collins and her GOP Senators minimized the belligerance, hostility and denial of his past of a Supreme Court nominee accused - not in a trial- but a job interview. In the wake of that dismissal, many, many sexual assault survivors who the equally morally thin-skinned Lindsay Graham said "have a problem"( hint: are flawed, damaged, mentally ill) will go home and direct the damage toward themselves- in self-harm, self-mutilation, if not suicidality.


Not one of these Senators can be trusted to be the catcher in the rye- nor can this Supreme Court nominee-. They are far too frightened of getting blood on their jackets or their morally thin skin.

Do Good For Evil, My Grandmother Used to Say

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:28

There are many many examples of malice these days. And then there are the opportunities to do good.


Do Good for Evil, My Grandmother Used to Say
-Susan Cook-

There's a quote from The Bible I've taken to lately that my father often said my grandmother used.

It's in Romans Chapter12. She quoted the simple, straightforward version. "Do good for evil."


That ethic seems reassuring these days. Day after day, there are examples of malice in the world, in our country,  in our state. Does it really require trillions of dollars or a mound of extensive years-long clinical trials to prove the intent of vaccine developers to do good for evil? Does it really require another 15 years of US National Guard members in Afghanistan to prove that the vast majority of the Afghan people see malice not good in what the US has been offering them, calling upon their religion ? 

I watched a journalist  interview a hospital surgical technician who underwent chemotherapy who now refuses to be vaccinated. They rolled the vaccine out too quickly, she said, and didn't do enough studies first.

The journalist asked if she thought 600000 people dead from Covid 19 was adequate reason to expedite vaccine development.  The Covid 19 genome was made available to Western scientists in in January 2020

At that point, the Surgical Technician  broke into a broad smile. I was struck, at first, by the numbed quality of her response. As I've thought about it, this seems yet another time when good done for evil is perceived as malice.

The Life enhancing, yes, Prolife core of any ethic lies in doing good for evil,  that too, now stained as Antilife. How can a fierce opposition to a vaccine to do good for evil be seen as Prolife?


These are traumatizing times- emotionally numbing, mind- fogging, time bending, anxiety inducing. 

We don't have trillions of dollars or access to the high echelons of power. We do have simple acts of  kindness, and as my grandmother said, in our small way, we can do good for evil.

The Texas Abortion Ban, Vigilante Justice and Frankie Valli's Love for Human Connection

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:17

The Supreme Court decision to ignore the inhumane aspects of the Texas Abortion law reminds us to look to the places where human connection is valued.


The Texas Abortion Ban, Vigilante Justice and Frankie Valli's Love for Human Connection


-Susan Cook-


"Jersey Boys", the emotionally sensuous, tender musical journey of the 1960's-era Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons is now the one remaining 2021 production of Maine State Musical Theater shown to vaccination proving/ masked audiences only.


Opening night coincided with the US Supreme Court 5-4 decision to not review the Texas abortion law which appoints and allows citizens to seek vigilante justice against a medical provider or insurance company who is "suspected" to have supported or enabled a woman to terminate a pregnancy. A Vigilante Justice mindset toward women who support or act on Reproductive Choice is not new. Social media "shaming", "outing" if not outright harassment have become commonplace, fostered by Vigilante Justice -types- those who have seized on anti-abortion stands as a chance to fan the moral crevices of their narcissism through anonymous Facebook or other social media posts. That has yet to become a prosecutable crime so it is not surprising that women's privacy again is seen as fair game for assault if not rape.


The music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons was and is a mirror for the moral narcissism of their time. The libido-driven romance of – yes- men and women (adolescents and adults) reckoning with the quest for deep human connection- heterosexually- it seemed- carrying on the myth of "The One" while the fifties and sixties culture around them minimized any of the psychological or physical trauma of the time. The unwanted pregnancies, some terminated by inner city abortionists, the deaths that followed from physical consequences or suicide, the closeted men and women invisible in the cultural edification of heterosexuality, the dismissiveness toward date rape, incest, domestic violence, wife and child battering, the lack of any safe and sound child care options so latch-key children were left as caretakers, 9 years old left to caretake  5 year olds.


The Four Season's second big hit, "Big Girls Don't Cry" perfectly mirrors the time's trivilialzation of deep emotional pain:


"...told my girl we had to break up

...maybe I was cru-you-el...

Shame on you, your Mama said...

Shame on you you're crying in your bed...

Shame on you you told me lies...

Big Girls Do Cry...


Any number of teenage women whose disclosure of an unwanted pregnancy or incest or rape or sexual intercourse were met with (still often are) physical assault, face slapping, shunned exile or abandonment by mothers, fathers, relatives, the circles they might have reached toward. Collectively, the woman's emotional pain became invisible. The shame that Facebook and other social media now profit from in their anonymous posting options allow the Vigilante Justice-types a new means for public shaming through privacy rape. Many Frankie Valli-era teenagers and young women died from the shaming that fueled their drug or alcohol addiction or promiscuity or suicidality. Big girls don't cry.


Shame is precisely the emotion that the Senior Legislative Aide of Texas Right to Life, Rebecca Parma attempts to generate in an NPR interview when she offers the false equivalence that terminating the pregnancy of a zygote, embryo or fetus which is non-viable outside of the mother's uterus is equivalent to killing a child that even rape or incest do not justify.The 30 or 40-something Rebecca Parma now endorsing Privacy rape by forcing providers to disclose private medical information is as exploitive as the Frankie Valli-era exploitation of privacy then dismissing as "private" incest, date rape, domestic violence and in the case of unidentified paternity, fathers whose signatures and names were left off birth certificates of infants born to single mothers, later left and ignored in foster homes, foundling homes or orphanages. Ancestry.com has now filled in many of those blank signatures. Ms. Parma may not know of any suicided pregnant women or backroom abortion recipients or incested or physically assaulted children. The Texas Abortion law renders them as invisible to her as the privacy rape victims the law targets. A case in point is the non-acknowledgement to her Republican colleagues of the profound impact being born into poverty carries. As early as 1980, the Maine Children's Death Study documented the strongest correlate of child death before the age of 18 as the child's household's eligibility for Food Stamps.


Tragedy came Frankie Valli's way, too. His 22 year old daughter Francie died of a drug overdose, alcoholism ended his marriage , likely more human suffering than Jersey Boys reveals. But his lyricists and songwriters brought their creative longings to the moral underpinnings of true love: that it could be good, whole and true. In 1967 "You're Just Too Good to Be True" came just six years before Roe Vs. Wade began to unpack the cultural truth around him, in all its human suffering, walkup abortionists and suiciding 20- somethings. Roe vs. Wade began to prevent what had always belonged to women to bear: the ignored suffering of children after birth . Frankie Valli's devoted musical reverence for the deep nourishment of a healthy life-enhancing human connection did not and could not succeed in bringing those to fruition in the ways that Roe vs. Wade has- in far far more ways than Ms. Parma could ever know, despite the Texas license giving her and anyone else permission to invade privacy at whatever cost.

Shaming and Humiliating By Choice: Roe v. Wade and Denying Consequence

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:13

As 6 Supreme Court Justices end Roe v. Wade, shaming and humiliating Pro-Choice advocates becomes the anti-choice strategy.


Shaming and Humiliating Women By Choice
Shaming and humiliating have always been behind actions made toward females who do something adverse to the (the male- dominated) status quo. Ten year old girls slapped across the face when they disclose for the first time to an adult that they have been repeatedly sexually abused by another person or adult women standing up to defend women's right to make choices about her body  are examples of targets of actions intended to summon these feelings.
At the Planned Parenthood of New England rally I attended,  a man held up his poster of a mutilated face (just enough of face to imply that this photo-shopped image was a baby) . Other protesters went over and held up their signs to block his sign. He eventually put that sign down then held up his picture of a 3 or 4 month old infant. His intention was clear: shame, humiliate and the unsaid about the rally attendees : murderer, torturer with whatever grotesque imagery or distortion he could make.
Zygote, embryo or fetal health- and that of a newborn- are - as reproductive rights insist- fundamentally linked to the physical and mental health of the mother. As Gloria Steinem points out, reproductive rights also protect giving birth to an infant at the same time protecting a woman's right to not be forced to give birth against her will.
Pro-choice exists for the suicidal woman with an unwanted pregnancy, the pregnant woman in an abusive relationship who knows the physical, sexual or emotional abuse from a partner will not end just because a pregnancy is brought to term and will very likely make the newborn a victim of that abuse as well. Pregnancy does not cure physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The ectopic pregnancy of a woman who will die if the pregnancy continues, all of these are the object of the man who showed up to shame and humiliate. Would he be an abusive, shaming and humiliating father too? His intent at the rally was clear.
Shaming and humiliation have always been the back pocket strategy to denigrate women- prostitutes, rape victims (she asked for it), sexually abused children (they're lying), the abused woman who cannot make the abuse end or the woman in a relationship where the cold indifference to her emotional well-being did not succeed in preventing pregnancy. The recourse for women in these situations is limited.

Reproductive choice supporters know each of these circumstances has precipitated many female suicides.
If all else fails to denigrate the authentic pain women experience, when an unwanted pregnancy takes place, Ed Whalen, a prominent anti-choice lawyer on PBS “Firing Line” emphasized another “go-to”. Roe v. Wade should be overturned because, he said “Roe was lying. She made it up.”
There is explicit gender bias in anti-choice laws. Males who've fertilized a female ova have always found ways to avoid parental obligation. “Ignore the pregnant woman” is one which 23andMe and Ancestry.com are rapidly undoing by uncovering actual paternity of children previously unidentified, born to mothers who by threat or force remained silent. A woman recently discovered her half-sister much to the rage of her 90-something mother .
Another way is to present complete indifference to the pregnancy, making it clear that the sole provider of caretaking will be the mother if she carries the pregnancy  to term. Remember women earn 70 cents or so for every dollar men make, a figure which has been much much lower in the past.
Threats to the woman by the male if she brings the pregnancy to term are not unheard of,  literally again, forcing her to terminate a pregnancy is also not unheard of.
And then there are the stories about the women who brought an unwanted pregnancy to term calling the father to announce the birth upon which the male immediately hangs up the phone, these days the text or email deleted.
The man showing up with his grotesque photos carries on that cycle of shaming, humiliating, abusing and precipitating physical and mental illness, if not suicide, with, by the way absolutely no consequence (as there are none for Ed Whalen) for his actions.

An American Sonnet for The Woman Who Is a Journalist

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:17

During National Poetry Month, an American Sonnet to bring us to know better the women journalists of Ukraine.


American Sonnet for the Woman Who Is a Journalist

For the women journalists of Ukraine

The moral righteousness of the human
spirit gradually appears as suffering,
a dark spot on the lungs, another strand
of fatigue. Her sustenance, enough, brings
the heaviness to us differently. Just there,
in her questioning, we see physical
intricacies of transformation. This
is how evil spreading its miserable
inhumanity begins to change. This
is how goodness brings itself to the small
crevice inside, asleep, reawakened,
rising from the body's cellular call
compassion, for all who are forsaken.
The softened voice speaks as if her bones find
words, chiseled there by those buried alive.

-Susan Cook-

Sonnet for Looking for China

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :59

From the Spring 2023 Maine Arts Journal. A poem on the intricacies of grieving.


Sonnet for Looking for China

(Maine Arts Journal, Spring 2023)

-Susan Cook-

I am in my garden when I fall on

my knees because I remember I can't

find you now. Things that call or that beckon,

what walks toward me, has not been you. It can't

be. So, because I remember behind

everything, there is always something more,

I start to dig. People have tried to find

China this way. You found it, I bet, sure

now, of where it is that loss goes, the fall

it brings. I will find it too and when we're

there, together, we will celebrate small

truths. "Woman burrows to China." We'll cheer

human accomplishment, what cupped hands can

do, know what it is we didn't know then.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:07

Some years back The House of Representatives' healthcare bill denied maternity care and denied health insurance to 18 to 25 year olds. Back then, Maine's Representative Poliquin fled to the restroom when reporters asked about his vote to pass the bill. Only a sonnet conveys the stark neglect of others in his proposed bill.


Sonnet for Whom the Bell Tolls
-Susan Cook-
The bell does not toll unselectively
anymore. It tolls for whom white men  want
it to. Those for whom we’ve wept - give me
your tired, your poor, your huddled mass, who want
to be free, remember- are left on bare
Mattresses. Newborns are a wealthy man’s tax
burden, babies denied health care, once they’re
born. Mr. Pro-Life’s knife, stabs at their backs
and ex- Representative Poliquin
hides in the men’s room. The truth has a fist,
that now endures and cannot be hidden.
In his healthcare vote, newborns don’t exist.
The bell tolls now for white men, who squander
this country of hope, the lost who’ve wandered. 

Credibility in Business Casual: Sexism Wears a New Outfit

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:46

The Republican attack on women, a not- so thinly veiled attack on credibility, the females, that is, is not new. Women, you may remember, require more “proof” that they are telling the truth than men do. Women’s credibility remains the non-credentialed, not appropriately dressed, inarticulate sweetspot where, when hit just right, sexism implants its tendrils and goes viral, its derision entitled, origin unknown, because we are talking about women.




Much is heard about the "new" Republican attack on women,  a  not so thinly veiled attack on credibility, the females’, that is. Women, you may remember require more “proof” that they are telling the truth than men do. Women’s credibility remains the non-credentialed, not appropriately dressed, inarticulate sweetspot where, when hit just right, sexism implants its tendrils and goes viral, its derision entitled, origin unknown, because we are talking abut women.

Many women don’t realize that today’s war on women’s credibility is like that faced by Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearing either because they now have credentials that they hope protect their credibility or they were not old enough or not allowed to watch that spectacle as it unfolded on national television in the early 1990’s. During the hearings to admit Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, Anita Hill, an African-American attorney was subpoenaed to testify about the sexual harassment she endured at his hands at his previous job.

I still have my “I Believe Anita Hill” button. Many women don’t. Many men never got one in the first place. The smug confidence that Clarence Thomas evinced during those hearings has metastasized into complete silence, as he now sits on the Court.  He perhaps  now believes he doesn’t have to say anything  to have credibility as he has not said or asked any questions during the oral arguments for something like 6 years.  

Some believe that blatantly different standards for male and female credibility have gone away. We need go no further than the recent trial of John Edwards for federal campaign law violations for “proof” that sexism’s new  business casual dress does not mean standards have changed. 

Criminal law trials are about credibility. The “designer” proof presented by John Edwards that he was telling the truth was this: A video of his nationally-televised appearance lauded as his moment of truth-telling, the “tell-all” in which he stated that he had a brief affair with Rielle Hunter but it had ended and his unethical staffer had fathered her child.

 This “truth telling” explique was presented  to the jury as evidence that the man before them was really not telling the truth then, even though he said he was before a national television audience, but he was telling the truth now. This, strategized his defense team, was, yes, a wardrobe failure in credibility that would now be restored with that ever-trustworthy safety pin- the fact that John Edwards is a man. They knew that would hold up better than the fact that Edwards is a lawyer. One word captures how a woman engaging in such tactics would be characterized: Flighty!

The Credibility dress standard  is not the same for men and women.  Credibility remains an icon of sexism that presumes that women have to meet different standards of proof than men do.  There are cultural and social questions that we all must ask about the different standards for “proof” that apply to men and women, that are as unfair and unequal now as they were when Anita Hill was subpoenaed to testify about  Clarence Thomas. 

When we ask for proof from men and women, do we ask each of them, equally, no matter what the context, no matter who has been  privileged with the presumptive “truth-teller” status?  When the ” court of public opinion” is courted, really deep down, don't you think you can overlook what she says is true? That what everybody else thinks is better proof?  That any  other truth that she might offer is really just her reaching for a safety pin- when really- there isn’t one big enough to fill the gap?


Stochastically Yours: Hey Nate Silver (and Amy Walter)! Polls Do Not Predict the Future.

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:01

The American voting public has become as gullible about Election polls as they are about quick weight loss plans. In Maine, Election eve, 2010, the Times Record newspaper published below page one's masthead, an AP reporter’s article on Rasmussen Reports polls. They showed the Gubernatorial Republican Tea Party candidate Paul LePage polling up. No mention that Rasmussen polls have the highest bias (chance of inaccuracy) of polls and are least respected by other pollsters.

Poll bias is measured by a statistic called "stochastic bias". Rasmussen Reports have the highest Stochastic Bias among pollsters- the most biased. At Princeton University, the Stochastic Democracy Group studies this at length .

All of this suggests, as we move toward Election Day, we all need to make a collective plea to media outlets to never publish polls without explanation of their stochastic bias. Statistics do not predict the future. They are a mathematical model that explains the likelihood of things that have already happened. Not ones that haven’t happened yet.


Stochastically Yours: Loving Your Vote and Ignoring  Poll Seductions - A Citizen’s Guide
-Susan Cook-
The American voting public has become as gullible about Election polls as they are about quick weight loss plans.  In Maine, Election eve, 2010,  the Times Record  newspaper published below page one's masthead, an AP reporter’s article on Rasmussen Reports polls. They showed the Gubernatorial Republican Tea Party candidate Paul LePage polling up. No mention that Rasmussen polls have  the highest bias (chance of inaccuracy )of polls and are least  respected by other pollsters.
Poll bias is measured by a statistic called "stochastic bias". Rasmussen Reports have the highest Stochastic Bias among pollsters- the most biased.  At Princeton University, the  Stochastic Democracy Group studies this at length . 
Now, hold your breath, here. This is the Princeton University Stochastic Bias  Group explanation of what Rasmussen polls do. They over sample for Republicans by "weighting [results]  by self reported party affiliation, using  average party affiliation from Rasmussen polls in the preceding month [replicating previous distortion] which  doesn't remove any over sampling of Republicans which is undoubtedly there. [He] could weight using proportions from polls by reputable pollsters. [He chooses] not to. This is a deliberate effort to bias results." In addition to weighting to make pools look like their sample contains numbers of Republicans equal to the general population, [when it does not], his sample collection is biased by not calling back "no answers" which means he over samples  people who are home a lot. [He]  then adds "definite supporter" to "probable supporter" inflating "definite supporter" results. 
For those cringing because you don’t know what  Stochastic Bias is, an explanation from a statistics wonk.
"...A pollster will be above  the average 50% of  the time and below the average 50% of the time if the pollster is unbiased and the average is unbiased. ..By looking at how individual polls diverge from average polls, we can take the  average of the [pollster’s]  divergence.  If the poll is fair then the average gap will be close to zero.  If this gap is positive then it means on average the pollster reports poll levels of either approval or disapproval above the average poll value for a period.  If  the average is negative  then it means the pollster reported average is less than the polling average .Looking at Rasmussen Reports it is clear that there is something fishy going on.  In 2008,  Rasmussen’s average disapproval rating report [of Obama] was nearly 7 points above those of other polling locations while the approval rating was under-reported by nearly 2 points.  In addition, every poll that [was] put out by Rasmussen  reported 100% of  the time[s] disapproval rates above  the average. This is an astounding number since it is clearly highly unlikely. " 
In other words, yes, you flip a coin and  heads and tails have a 50-50 chance of coming up. But some days you flip it ten times in a row and it comes up tails ten times in a row.  However, if somebody has ut a tiny drop of lead on one side of the coin, that side will come up more often.
Rasmussen has cleverly tied the ridiculous influence polls have to suppress or enhance voter turnout to the numbers he reports.  And there are many naïve media outlets that suck them up like Aedes mosquitoes and the Zika virus. 
In Maine, in the Governor’s race in 2010,  an article by a  statistically naïve AP reporter was chosen by a newspaper which then put out the “Fire, fire” call above the masthead on Election Eve.  The race was a 3-way. The Editorial Page editor favored the Independent candidate- he had just chastised me for writing about that candidate’s Chinese human rights blind spot. Since the editorial page editor had his own bias toward the Independent Candidate, he was happy to scare the public with a Rasmussen Poll- stochastically biased Rasmussen Poll- indicating that the Right-wing Tea Party candidate just might win and that the Third Party Independent was polling higher thus had a better chance of beating him then the Democratic candidate.  Many Democratic voters, including the advocates focusing on passing Gay Marriage Bills, switched their vote to the Independent. One advocacy group - Equality Maine- sent an email urging their followers to do just that -influenced by corrupted Rasmussen polling data with excessive Stochastic Bias. Because as Rasmussen does, Republicans were over-weighted in his sample thus had greater statistical torque in his poll than they actually did. 
As we move toward November 2016, we all need to make a collective plea to media outlets to never publish polls without explanation of their stochastic bias. Statistics do not predict the future. They are a mathematical model that explains  the likelihood of things that have already happened. Not ones that haven’t happened yet. There is no reason why the outliers- the events the model says are less likely to happen- won’t. The world works  that way too- unless someone is using polls to make someone do something they would not have done otherwise. Like vote for the Independent candidate which ultimately gave Maine a Tea Party Governor.
Pollsters don’t take ethics oaths before they sit down at their laptops or design their sample procedures. The media needs to remember that and dig out their Stochastic Bias Manuals before they publish poll results.