Quick Update on Me ;-)

Hey everyone!

I know I haven’t posted quite a broad range of topics, but I wanted to assure you that more posts on different things are coming.  I’ll still be writing about feminism and whistleblower protections, especially pieces on Reality Winner, but I will also be posting some fictional pieces, and stuff on things going on in my life right now that I think you all may find relate-able.

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Reality Winner: A Case of Misogynistic Oppression

As some of you may know, I am a strong advocate of gender equality and women’s rights, and I have taken a particular interest in Reality Winner’s plight. I’ve been an advocate for Reality for months now, and have done some research on different aspects of her case, and the more I learn, the more I am appalled.

I’ve written about her treatment, and why we should be paying attention. I’ve written about how mainstream media continues to ignore her case, even after reporting on her initial arrest. And I’ve written about how we need to be talking to our government officials and candidates running for office in the upcoming elections about closing the gaps in whistleblower protection laws, and about the use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers. It would seem that with a case of this magnitude, more people would be paying attention. But due to lack of media coverage, with the exception of a few big names such as actress Rosie O’Donnell, political Twitter personality Brian Krassentien, and Thomas Drake, Reality and her family mainly gain supporters one tweet at a time, one Facebook post at a time, and one protest march at a time.

When I sit and look at what I have written as a whole, about Reality’s case, there seems to be a common denominator that keeps popping up that I can no longer ignore. I’m seeing a pattern of what women are currently fighting back against. A pattern that has gone on for decades, nay, centuries, of men having the upper hand. A pattern of women’s oppression, inequality and injustice. You see, sexism hides everywhere, from the darkest corners, to right under our noses. And Reality is feeling the full force of it.

Looking at the surface, you may be wondering how I’ve come to this conclusion. I’ll show you. First, we look at the many cases of whistleblowers that any average person, with a daily life outside of the news can remember, and most of them are, or were, biologically men, when they blew the whistle. We can easily name Thomas Drake, John Kiarku, Edward Snowden, Jeffrey Wigand, and even Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning. But when we think of women whistleblowers, although there are plenty to choose from, we struggle to recall names.

Why is it that when a male blows the whistle, we will tend to remember his name, yet when a woman blows the whistle, on equally important issues, it is the issue we remember, and not her name? Many people remember the Enron scandal, or at least hearing about it, but don’t know it was Sherron Watkins who exposed the company’s lies and fraud. And even more alarmingly, many remember that the FBI was alleged to have failed to act on information, provided by agents in Minnesota, about one of the figures involved in the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. Some even say that had the FBI acted on that information, 9/11 may not have even happened. But who was the whistleblower? A few may remember, but for the most part, Coleen Rowley is just another woman.

Upon this realization, I started looking into media coverage, since that’s how a majority of the public finds out what’s going on in our country. Mainstream media, such as MSNBC, CNN, The Washington Post, NY Times, and yes, even Fox, along with many others, have taken on the charge of getting information to the American people. Yes, there are biases and twisted stories, but some form of whatever the big topic is, is getting out there. If we know what the general topic is, we can research on our own, or head to our preferred networks. But without a topic, a name, anything, the general public doesn’t know the story even exists. We heard the names of Snowden, Drake, and even Assange, from these news outlets, so one would think, especially in the era of the Women’s Movement, these outlets would jump all over a young woman who stands accused of blowing the whistle on the Russian hacking interference in our 2016 presidential election.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, even in 2018 America, where we tell our daughters they can grow up to be anything they want to be. It’s mortifying that this may be another case in which we remember the issue but forget her name, because she is a woman and mainstream refuses to update coverage. This should not happen, and we need to remember her name. Our country pushes “See something, say something,” but it has no role model for children to look up to. With Reality Winner being accused of blowing the whistle to help expose Russian hacking efforts, it comes to mind that this is a courageous act and could be used as an example of what we’re teaching our children. We shouldn’t let her gender make us forget her name. That would be a travesty for our kids’ futures.

Yet mainstream still continues to ignore Reality, day in and day out. Any time I watch a news station, there’s always something new about Trump, Russiagate, or Stormygate. There are always quoted tweets or a video clip of Trump foaming at the mouth. But there’s no air time for something as important as being accused of leaking a document highlighting that a foreign government hacked into some of our election support companies. Is the mainstream media discriminatory against women?

However, media isn’t the only issue. Chauvinism even flows throughout Donald Trump’s presidential administration and within the Department of Justice. A simple browse through the Twitter feeds of Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, et al, gives a quick sense of why the Women’s Movements around the country are so outraged with this administration. From trying to regulate what women can and can not do with their bodies, to bragging about grabbing them by the pussy, and all the sexual assault allegations in between, the Trump Administration has that “good ‘ole days, women should keep quiet unless spoken to” mentality that many find toxic.

The Trump Administration was admittedly actively seeking out any leakers during the time Reality was approached by a group of mostly armed, male FBI agents. This was made clear in a NY Times report headlined “Intimate Look Into Trump Presidency” that contained details of a meeting between Trump and James Comey, who was then head of the FBI. The report stated:

In the same meeting in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to end the Flynn investigation, the men bonded over leaks of sensitive government information.
“I said I was eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message,” Mr. Comey wrote. But, he explained, prosecuting journalists “was tricky” for legal reasons.
Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey to talk to “Sessions,” referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “and see what we can do about being more aggressive.”

And it seems they figured out their aggressive plan. During the entire FBI interrogation, in which she cooperated fully, Reality was the only female present. She was informed that there were search warrants, including one of her person, and she knew, as most of us do, that the same gender must be present for a bodily search. Female searches female, and male searches male. Knowing this, Reality nervously sat with the group of mostly armed, male agents for hours, feeling intimidated, but fully cooperating. It boggles the mind to think that the FBI wouldn’t have one single female on the team that originally interrogated Reality. The Trump Administration was still in cover-up mode at this point, and wasn’t going to let anyone get away with a slap on the wrist for allegedly exposing that it knew about Russia’s meddling all along. Especially a female, who should have stayed in her place.

Now if the misogyny that Reality is currently up against still isn’t quite clear, we haven’t looked at the Depart of Justice yet. Reality was charged under the Espionage Act, which itself is a whole other unjust problem facing whistleblowers, which I briefly covered in a previous write-up. The charge under the Espionage Act has allowed the United States government to virtually silence her from the beginning. Anything she was to say from that point forward would be recorded, twisted out of context, and used against her in court. Also, the prosecutors have a fairly easy task of proving the violation under the Espionage Act, that the document was classified at the time it was alleged to have been released, because classified information is labeled as such due to its risk of harm to the public. Basically, they just have to prove that the unauthorized disclosure took place. This is important to note because the information that was in the document is now public knowledge: that Russia did, in fact, hack our election support companies.

What makes things even more difficult are the prosecution’s (at times ridiculous) arguments and a magistrate’s willingness to rule based solely on an absurd claim. To date, Magistrate Brian Epps has affirmed nearly every argument from the government’s prosecuting team, and denied nearly every argument presented by Reality’s defense. This includes being denied the ability to mention the document, or the fact that the information it contained did not pose a threat to the public. This also includes the denial of mentioning that Russia hacked the 2016 US Presidential Election, or any news or media about the Russian hacking. Furthermore, this includes the denial of 40 out of 41 subpoenas. And Magistrate Epps making this decision seemingly out of the blue, in addition to cancelling the specificity hearing that had been scheduled for the witness subpoenas. This, of course, was after hearing the prosecution’s argument that it was a waste of time and tax payer money that 41 subpoenas were allowed.

However, all that isn’t specifically where the DOJ meets female prejudice. Sometimes we find it hiding in the shadows. Along with the arguments stated, Magistrate Epps also affirmed the prosecution’s argument and denied Reality’s bond, despite the facts that she gave up her passport, offered to wear an ankle monitor and be in the custody of her parents, who offered their family home as collateral. Among the reasons that Reality was denied bond, some had to do with her being intelligent, not knowing how much information she has in her head, and that Reality knows how to change a SIM card (who doesn’t?) Then, the prosecutors brought up that Reality had recently gone on a trip to honor her deceased father. They argued the fact of a woman’s travelling alone to Belize:

by herself, for only three days, including travel. Nothing criminal about that, Your Honor, but it seems odd.

That statement alone, made by US Attorney Jennifer Solari, for the prosecution, in a Georgia Federal Courtroom, is evidence that sexism is ingrained into American culture. For a country that calls itself free, where all persons are created equal, it seems odd that that statement could be included in an argument, and be considered by a Magistrate, in order to come to a decision in a PRE-trial bond hearing, for this non-violent woman with no priors. Essentially, prosecutors are conveying the idea, without saying it, that this 26-year-old US Air Force veteran is more likely to be a terrorist sympathizer than an independent woman with the ability to travel by herself.

And the misogyny in the courtroom doesn’t stop there. When you compare Reality’s case to some of the more notable, or even recent, cases against men, it’s fairly easy to see the gender discrimination:

Rick Gates took a plea deal in order to avoid more serious charges of money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, bank fraud, and conspiracy. Taking the plea deal meant pleading guilty to the charge of conspiracy against the United States and lying to authorities, which comes with some pretty decent side provisions for Gates. The Daily Mail reported that Gates’

guilty-plea deal references a special provision in sentencing guidelines that offers probation for those who cooperate with investigators and also repeatedly says Gate’s actions came “at Manafort’s instruction.”

So basically, a slap on the wrist, as long as Gates cooperates.

Then there’s Bill Cosby, who has been accused by multiple women of drug-facilitated sexual assaults, rapes, and sexual battery, dating back to 1965. His sexual assaults didn’t come to light until comedian Hannibal Buress’ video went viral in October of 2004. Because most of the assaults were past the statute of limitations to be tried, many of the alleged victims never got their day in court. That’s why everyone was so hopeful during Cosby’s first trial, where he stood accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. But the jury came back deadlocked and it was declared a mistrial.

However, when Cosby was taken back to court a second time, he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Finally, at least a small sigh of relief could be had for as many as 60 women. During all this back and forth in court, bail was set at $1 million, and he was also ordered to give up his passport. After being accused of drugging and sexually assaulting more than 35 women (at the time bail was set) and eventually being found guilty, Bill Cosby was allowed a luxury that Reality Winner was not. He was able to be at home during his trial.

While there are plenty of more well-known cases to choose from, Ricco McHam’s is definitely worth mentioning. His name may not be a nationally recognized, but if you live around Charlotte, NC, you probably saw his picture flashed up on the news, back in June 2017. (Which coincidentally happens to be around the same time Reality was arrested.) McHam was originally charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of his friend, Markas Vereen, in a dispute that McHam’s family said was associated with their dangerous lifestyle. McHam drove to the hospital after Vereen was shot and was subsequently arrested. In addition to the murder charge, McHam was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. He was already a convicted felon, had been arrested 16 times since 2014 with priors ranging from assault on a female, to firearms violations and drug trafficking.

Yet, even being a convicted felon with prior violent charges, McHam got bail set at $275,000 by Superior Court Judge Bob Bell. McHam eventually came up with the money and posted bail. He was placed on a 24-hour home detention and ordered to wear an ankle monitor. Despite this, McHam fled, cutting off his monitoring device. He was eventually captured by police, but Judge Bell defended his decision to set bail stating:

$275,000 is a lot of money, even for a murder case. I’m going to say that bond was appropriate for that case. …And there are going to be cases when a person doesn’t show up. That’s not chump change. For somebody to make a bond that size, somebody’s gotta dig deep in that pocket. I’d have trouble doing it.

McHam ended up pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter. So, even after the priors, being a convicted felon, killing his friend, and skipping out on bond which caused a statewide manhunt, he will spend a little over three years in prison. Whether it was an accident or not, it’s hard to wrap your brain around McHam’s case.

Now let’s bring this back to Reality Winner, who was accused of releasing one document one time. It’s important to also remember the fact that Reality has not been accused of any violent crimes, nor does she have a prior history with law enforcement, and she has not been convicted of anything. She has been denied bail four times, which makes it extremely difficult to prepare for trial and it looks like Reality will stay behind bars, without a conviction, until her trial in October. This means she will have spent one year & four months in jail, and ultimately be sentenced to less time than she’s already served, or even be found innocent.

Reality’s plight is one that we should be paying attention to. Not only is she being silenced because she allegedly called Trump out for lying, but also our great country of chauvinism has its hand in the cookie jar as well. I’m not grasping at anything here, just connecting the dots. Reality Winner is up against one of the most ultimate cases of misogynistic oppression to date. She needs our help and we can’t let her down.

*All views are my own.

** For more information, including on how you can help, please visit standwithreality.org , join the Facebook Group and on Twitter follow @standbyreality and @bjwinnersdavis

Risking Freedom For Telling The Truth

As we get closer to November 2018, many people are thinking about voting out the corrupt representatives who have plagued our government.  Candidates and incumbents alike are pushing campaign ads and sending postcards; some are even knocking on doors.  If the committed voter numbers in November are anything like the hype we’re hearing, this will be a voter turnout for the history books.  And with the political environment being what it is, we can see why.

News that Russia had hacked into our election systems rocked many Americans, and the belief that we, the people, have a patriotic duty to vote, and take our country back, is strong.  The feeling of needing to rid our government of the money-hungry representatives who are only in office to line their pockets is overwhelming among any group that talks politics these days.  Of course, voting corruption out should be Priority One, but then shouldn’t Priority Two be finding candidates who fit what we want and need as Americans?  Are we asking our candidates, who want our votes, everything that we should be asking them? Probably not.

There’s so much going on week to week, and even day to day, that it’s hard to keep up with all the political agendas arising, that we once thought were safe.  Because of how busy we are, and how much things change day to day, just because an issue deserves our attention, doesn’t always mean it will receive our attention, and that could be a big mistake in one case. If there’s one issue that deserves our attention and has been overlooked, it would have to be the one that is pertinent to identifying and alerting the proper authorities, including the general public, of illegal, immoral and corrupt activities in order to keep corruption out.

This one issue, that many don’t think about, and has gone largely unspoken, is whistleblower protections.  Fraud and corruption run through our government like a snake slithering through high grass.  It can be hard for the decent high-level government officials to spot, because it succeeds as it’s concealed right under their noses.  Lower-level officials and private citizens, by contrast, sometimes have an advantage of seeing it from the outside, or a bird’s-eye view.

America does have a few different whistleblower protections in place, but they definitely need to be looked at and amended in order to fill the gaps for those who should be protected, as well as to address the broken chain of commands that happen when an official decides to sweep something under the rug and be complacent.  One must simply look at the case of Reality Winner, among other whistleblowers, for a prime example of why these laws need to be changed.

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Why We Should All Look Closer At Whistle Blower, Reality Winner’s Case

With today’s hustle & bustle of our busy lives, many people don’t take the time, or don’t have the time, to really look into things that don’t directly effect them. Because of that, many people scan the newspaper in the morning, getting the gist of what’s going on, but not knowing the particulars of its contents, let alone in its entirety. If there were a list of articles, topics & cases most widely known for a name, yet most widely unknown in their specifics, the case of Reality Winner would probably be right up there in the top 10.

Reality Winner has an unusual name, and one that many have focused on.  But yet what’s not known is that she is a young US Air Force veteran, and ex NSA contractor. She is the whistleblower, or truth teller, that is charged under the Espionage Act for allegedly releasing a document to the online media outlet, The Intercept, that helped show that Russia was hacking into our US election support companies.

The last sentence of that paragraph alone would have had people up in arms, in the not so distant past. If an announcement was made that Russia was, and has been for years, meddling in our elections, and continues to do so, many people would have taken to the streets. But, with so much going on every damned day, it’s unknown whether we are becoming desensitized to the corruption in our government (on all sides,) or if people really just don’t care. Or maybe, even still, they have a hard time trying to filter through all the bullsh*t and end up buying into it.

This piece is meant to take a second and explain why Reality Winner has such devoted supporters. The thing is, there is a visible division in our country.  And unfortunately, that divide is causing people that normally would be supporters of Winner to cut themselves off from the truth about what is going on with her case.  From my personal experience, to be blunt, most people that are Trump supporters are not going to want to support her because she’s alleged to have helped expose Russian hacking, to which some have said they don’t believe, or, because they feel any form of leaking should be penalized as treason.

Trump supporters should check into her case, though, because her supporters aren’t there based only on their political stance, whether they are resisting Donald Trump, or not.  And her supporters aren’t trying to claim her innocence either.  (Although now that the main stream media has reported that Russia did in fact hack, and there are thirteen Russian indictments, one should wonder why the document Winner is accused of releasing is still considered classified.)  Her supporters are saying, however, that her treatment has been unfair, and unjust, throughout the past nine months.

Donald Trump himself said in a tweet, when speaking of Rob Porter’s departure over allegations that he abused his past wives, that every American should be seen as innocent until proven guilt, and that every American deserves their right to a fair trial and due process.  Winner’s supporters agree.  Yes, every American does deserve that.  Every US Air Force veteran and every NSA contractor, also deserve that.  So why isn’t Winner receiving any of that?

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Reality L Winner Whistle Blower, USAF Veteran & Self Described Political Prisoner

 

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Are You There, MSM? It’s Me, A Reality Winner Supporter.

It seems as though we’ve gotten used to waking up every morning and seeing some crazy or off the cuff tweet sent out by the man that is supposed to be the leader of the free world, our country. Each day, there’s a quoted tweet, or five, plastered on the television screen while Joe Scarborogh, Joy Reid or Anderson Cooper talk about what an asinine thing it was for a President of these United States to publicly announce. But has anyone sat back and thought about why this is happening?

Donald Trump knows that his tweets are under a watchful eye. Not only by the millions of people on Twitter, but also by the press that has to have something new to report on every day. And Trump knows this. He knows that if he sends out a tweet saying that transgenders are no longer allowed in the military, that a screen shot of that tweet will be up on his television screen hours later. He knows that if he makes an announcement on raising tariffs and that a trade war is a good thing, his face will be on that same television screen.

Trump is a reality TV star first, and acts as such. He knows how to stay in the spotlight, cause drama, and irk people. No matter how much we want to call him out for being insane or not being mentally fit, he’s smart enough to know that he can control what the main stream media (MSM) will report. He even told a journalist, in a one on one interview at Mar-A-Lago, that the media needed him. That they want him to win reelection in 2020. And they’re taking the bait.

Robert Mueller is hot on the Russian investigation, and things are being reported to be spiraling out of control in the White House. Reports of Trump’s aide, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s security clearance being revoked, gave the week of Feb 26, 2018 a jump start in MSM. Hope Hicks’ resignation soon followed, with her telling special counsel that she has told “white lies” for Trump in the past. And then, a final report of Trump announcing higher tariffs on steel & aluminum, and potentially sending us into a trade war, made for some interesting news to be reported.

But how many people know who Reality Winner is? She happens to be pretty important in the Russia investigation. She’s the young Air Force veteran that tried to help warn American citizens of Russia’s hacking into our election support companies while Trump continued his praise of Putin saying they didn’t.

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#NY2GA4Reality

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On February 27, 2018, a Suppression Hearing was held in the decision making time period before Reality Winner’s actual trial in which she is being charged under the Espionage Act. This was an important hearing because Magistrate Brian Epps will decide whether or not Reality’s confession will be able to be submitted as evidence against her in court.

Magistrate Epps has since asked both the prosecution & defense to submit statements of their arguments and then he will make his decision. This, ultimately, will push back Reality’s trial that is scheduled for this month.

The reason this is so important is because of what happened the day Reality Winner was interrogated by two male FBI agents. This was set up as a sting operation from the beginning. The lead agent said he briefed his team about the case a half mile away from Reality’s apartment, in a school parking lot. Reality was not arrested by the FBI agents, she was arrested by the local police department.

Reality cooperated with the FBI agents, while they blocked the only exit in the tiny, unfinished bedroom in the back of her apartment during the questioning. While a group of nine armed, male FBI agents ransacked her apartment with their search warrant, she even asked if she could tend to her pets’ needs, instead of walking around freely in her own home. And when Reality asked the two agents interrogating her if she was being arrested, knowing there was also a search warrant for her person, but seeing no female agent during the entire exchange, her question went unanswered.

Instead, she was told that she would benefit from cooperating, which she thought she was doing. And, that they would feel much better knowing they didn’t have a serious issue if she was just frustrated with her job. The same tactics that you see on television when a suspect is being interviewed & arrested; the coerciveness, the pressuring, the “we know you did it so you better tell us now.”

There were seven cars outside of Reality’s small Augusta home, all blocking in her vehicle. She had handed over her keys and her cell phone, and even showed the armed agents how to gain access into her phone. None of this made Reality feel as though this was a voluntary interview. She felt that she was being arrested, which she ended up foreshadowing correctly.

This wasn’t Winner’s first pre-trial hearing either. She has been denied pretrial bond multiple times over the course of the last 8 months. And while Winner has gained a lot of support online, her mother & step father, Billie Winners-Davis & Gary Davis, have been the only supporters of Winner to show up at those hearings.

This time was different though. Because of all the support that Winner has gained online, her parents wouldn’t be the only ones in the courtroom this time. Supporters from Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York, came to show Winner and her parents that they are not alone.

My husband, Ryan, & I were two of those supporters. Back in January, there was a call to action online for Reality Winner supporters and I worked with other supporters to try to fill the courtroom. Donations came in to help get supporters to the hearing, and Ryan & I offered to carpool anyone needing a ride. We even picked up a fellow supporter in Philadelphia on our way down to Augusta, GA from upstate NY.

Ryan & I started our trip on Monday, February 26, 2018. We packed our bags & I made a hash tag: #NY2GA4Reality. I wrote the hash tag on my car windows and set the GPS for our 15 hour drive. I made my Twitter update so people could follow our drive down using the hash tag and we were off. We were going to be there for Reality and her parents. We wanted them to know there were people out there like us.

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Reality Is My Winner

Reality Winner. An unusual name for a military veteran, but seems quite fitting somehow. Some people have heard of her, but many have not. Reality is the fit blonde, in her twenties, that allegedly released a document to the online media outlet, The Intercept, back in May 2017.

Out of the all people who know her name, there lies a division. If you believe yourself to be an ethical person, and someone with morals, yet you also believe that she broke the law so she’s where she needs to be, that Reality is guilty before her trial, or think her being charged under the Espionage Act is the appropriate, then I’ll stop you right here & have a separate message for you:

This post isn’t for you. If you choose to continue to read, please know that I will not approve any negative comments. I’m all for answering questions to the best of my ability, or at least directing you to someone who may know. And I’m always willing to engage in civil conversation with those that hold opposing views, but I do not tolerate incivility. It’s your choice whether you want to be civil. This is a personal narrative on Reality. With that said, whether you choose to continue to read or not, & whether you choose to be civil or not, is all on you. We’re all adults here, so let’s act it.

For the rest of us, I think it’s normal to feel like we want to make a difference at some point in our lives. Whether we decide to act on that desire is a decision based on three things:

  1. How much we relate to want we think needs changing.
  2. How emotionally connected we are to that relationship.
  3. Opportunity.

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