Will We Fail These Children Again? Or Answer Their Prayers?

Will We Fail These Children Again? Or Answer Their Prayers?

Friends, I’m calling on your support and prayers. I don’t often say “read this” but READ THIS. Take two minutes and read the whole thing.

I’m about to fly to Washington D.C. to give a press conference on Monday. Much is at stake but nothing more important than the girls who have been let down time and again in the Mette Rape Scandal.

Almost nobody knows about this story and that’s part of the tragedy.

mette-phorRichard Mette and his wife Wendy took in foster children in South Dakota who they adopted. The Mettes were given about $300,000 in taxpayer money over the years as foster & adoptive parents.

Richard Mette raped the girls for years. Both parents beat them, sometimes with shoes or belts. The children said Wendy knew about the abuse.

Imagine the terror these girls faced every night for around a decade: not knowing if 6’9″ Richard Mette would once again force to choose between a beating or sex with him, not knowing whether they would be beaten or cut with a knife. As evil as the abuse was, it’s the waiting and not knowing what would be next that makes me cry when I think about it: thousands of nights anticipating more abuse.

Now imagine these children praying every night that someone would come and help them, to make the terror stop. Their hopes were dashed every single time.

In 2001, the Department of Social Services and police investigated. The children were betrayed: the Mettes were given a warning. In 2007, another investigation and another betrayal. Years more abuse as the state of South Dakota ignored porn everywhere in the house and stories of abuse and touching. Wendy was furious at the children who’d reported the abuse, and yelled at them until they cried.

In 2010, the children are finally removed from the home. Arrests followed as the sickening details came out. Now-finally-maybe the nightmare would end. They were saved, with the help of prosecutor Brandon Taliaferro and child’s advocate Shirley Schwab.

But the children were about to face the biggest betrayal of all.

The state of South Dakota was worried about a lawsuit since they’d failed the children so many times. The dropped all charges against Wendy Mette. They dropped all but one charge against Richard Mette. Then the state of South Dakota snatched the children from the sister they were living with and sent them back to live with Wendy. And in an unbelievable twist, they arrested the people helping the children: Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab.

Now, the children were betrayed not just by their adoptive parents and the state of South Dakota’s highest official but by the South Dakota media, who didn’t want to rock the boat.

That’s why almost nobody heard of this story. The South Dakota newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and other media outlets failed these children, too. I truly don’t understand this: did these reporters go into journalism to cover up for politicians or to tell the truth that protects the voiceless?

Nobody told their story. Now, many powerful people want to cover it up. The girls were let down at every turn.

Now, I’m begging you.  plea let’s make sure that you and I don’t fail these girls.

Right now, you can help them by making sure their story reaches as many people as possible..

You’re busy. A million things call for your attention. Your life has enough struggle and drama.

But now that you know some of the story, don’t just walk away. Take a few moments and do something. Tell others.

One of the girls wrote this a few days ago:

“Although all of this is hard for me to talk about and brings up horrible memories, I have a voice and I’m going to use it. This is the some of corruption in the state of South Dakota that my siblings and I had to deal with. Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab are our heroes NOT criminals like they were/are made out to be. They were the ones who were there for us and helped us find a safe place and until people like the Attorney General Marty Jackley, States Attorney Kimberley Dorsett and others took that away. Please spread the word, the truth”

Now, YOU are the voice.

Those girls survived because for year, they said thousands of prayers for help. Their faith that someone would answer them kept them going.

In this moment, I want you to see that you are the answer to one of those prayers.

For more on the story read this summary and listen to Season One of Brought To Light.

The Mette Scandal: Summary Of The Shocking Cover-Up

The Mette Scandal: Summary Of The Shocking Cover-Up

For years, 6’9” 310 pound Richard Mette raped & tortured his adopted Lakota Indian daughters at the home he shared with his wife Wendy Mette in the town of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

After Richard Mette was arrested in 2010 authorities learned he assaulted Katrina Mette nearly whenever they were alone from the time she was eight years old, sometimes forcing her to play a game he called “Beating or Blow Job.” The police found a huge collection of pornography including titles like “Family Lust” in Richard & Wendy’s bedroom. In the open, public area of the house they found a large set of “Sex Dice” with the pictures of of body parts on one die and words like kiss, suck or caress on the other.

Richard Mette would be charged with 23 counts of rape of child under ten years old and related charges. Wendy Mette would also be arrested and charged with 11 counts of abuse or cruelty to a minor.

The abuse could have been stopped earlier. The South Dakota Department of Social Services investigated the Mettes twice before the 2010 arrests; once in 2001 and another time in 2007, when Richard was sexually assaulting his daughter constantly. In both investigations, the police and DSS found evidence of inappropriate touching and physical abuse but left the children in the home and allowed the Mettes to continue in the foster parent program with a warning to stop spanking the children.

After the 2001 case, the Mettes were allowed the adopt the foster daughters that Richard would go on to assault.

In the 2007 case, State’s Attorney Kim Dorsett failed to file any charges, despite the fact that the Mette daughters told police that Wendy Mette had been told that Richard Mette was assaulting them.

After the 2010 arrest, the rape and abuse cases against the Mettes were spearheaded by a young Assistant State’s Attorney named Brandon Taliaferro and a children’s advocate named Shirley Schwab. Both Taliaferro and Schwab clashed with the DSS, who were trying to reunite with girls with Wendy.

But a few months into the case, a stunning turnaround happened.

After a June 1st, 2011 hearing where it was announced that a lawsuit against the DSS on behalf of the Mette Girls was in the works, Taliaferro was removed from the Mette case. In September 2011, under a direct order from South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, Brandon Taliaferro was fired from his position as an Assistant State’s Attorney.

Schwab contented to work on the case. On October 31st, 2011 she filed a court report that included evidence that State’s Attorney Dorsett had a lucrative side contract with the Department of Social Service that prohibited her or her private law firm from doing anything “in opposition to the interests of the state of South Dakota or any of its departments.”

That motion exposing the conflict of interest by Kim Dorsett happened to come just days after NPR ran a three part story by journalist Laura Sullivan called Lost Children, Shattered Families that put a national spotlight on South Dakota.

Nearly 700 Native American children in South Dakota are being removed from their homes every year, sometimes under questionable circumstances. An NPR News investigation has found that the state is largely failing to place them according to the law.

The combination of the NPR exposé and Schwab’s conflict of interest revelation created an immediate pushback from Dorsett, working in concert top law enforcement officials in South Dakota at the direction of Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Within days;

  • A secret plea deal was made to drop all charges against Wendy Mette, despite Dorsett being told on November 2nd that Katrina said that Wendy Mette knew about the abuse. (November 3rd)
  • AG Marty Jackley gave the order that investigating Schwab and Taliaferro for witness tampering was the ‘top priority’ of Division of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Black. (November 3rd)
  • Black removed the Mette girls from school and interrogated them in the basement of the DCI office. The girl’s lawyer was not present and permission to remove the girls was given by the DSS. (November 4th)
  • Dorsett wrote an affidavit containing information she knew to be false and had DCI Agent Black sign and submit it in an ex partè hearing to remove Schwab from the Mette case. (November 5th)
  • The home and office of Taliaferro and Schwab were raided and their computers seized. (November 7th)
  • Despite a court order, Agent Black went to the home of an older sister who was taking care of the Mette girls. (December 7th)

South Dakota State’s attorney Micheal Moore officially dropped all charges against Wendy Mette and dropped 22 of the 23 charges against Richard Mette, who was given a 15 year sentence for years of taxpayer subsidized rape and torture of his adoptive daughters. The girls were ordered to be sent back to live with Wendy Mette, which ended any lawsuit against the State or the DSS.

Schwab and Taliaferro were arrested and charged with witness tampering and subornation of perjury. They faced forty years in prison.

When the trial eventually happened, the state’s case against Taliaferro & Schwab was so weak that the Judge took the almost unheard of step of stopping the trial halfway through after the prosecution rested. Two charges had been dismissed by the state, and the Judge threw out the rest.

That didn’t end the nightmare for Schwab and Taliaferro, however, who had lost their livelihoods and racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills. Taliaferro was unable to get the dismissed charges expunged from his record because South Dakota law requires consent of the prosecutor.

My Twitter Account Is Under A Harassment Attack

My Twitter Account Is Under A Harassment Attack

Yesterday, conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain reported he’d been hit by a “fake follower” attack.

I’m currently under the same sort of attack: new fake followers are coming in about one every couple of seconds.

I don’t know who is behind this attack. I have been subject to ongoing harassment by the account of @XCitizen10 for years, a subject I’ll have more to say about in the coming months.

If you aren’t familiar with Neal Rauhauser, this article from 2012 says:

He is a self-admitted hacker. From available information and sources it is hard to determine if he is a black hat hacker (criminal) or a gray hat hacker (line between criminality and legitimacy).

Actually, it is hard to determine anything about Neal Rauhauser. Facts are sparse. Rumors, legends, myths, and his own braggadocio are plentiful. What is known is deeply disturbing. He is described as maniacal, diabolical, and extremely vengeful.

Depending on who you talk to or what you find on the Internet, Rauhauser is either a very disturbed individual, domestic and political super spy, agent provocateur and federal informant, federal cyber security contractor or consultant; is usually armed with a hand gun on his person or in his car, lives somewhere in America, lives in Montgomery County, Maryland, works on Capitol Hill, is an expert on wind technology, started and busted out several businesses, cannot hold a responsible job, the list just goes on and on and on.

My Big Plans For 2015

My Big Plans For 2015

I had a great, very interesting 2014.

I spent almost half of it up in South Dakota, where I made lots of new friends, did political work and reporting on the corruption there. (You can read more about that at my site DakotaReporter.com ) I also spent time in Louisiana, Las Vegas, Florida and took a number of trips to Washington, DC. I love and missed my family but everyone’s doing well.

Here’s what I’m hoping to do in 2015.

1) Launch. Ship. Deliver.

My friend engineer and inventor Brad Carvey used to talk about how he’d always wanted a ‘secret laboratory’ to work on tech projects. Then at one point he looked around and realized that he had it: after years of acquiring the tools and gizmos he needed, he’d built his secret lab.

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to have my own multimedia studio. I didn’t have the word multimedia four decades ago but I was interested in music, video, visual art, and print. I wanted access to a recording studio, a video production control room and a vast worldwide publishing empire.

Well, guess what? I have it. In 2014, I really put together all the pieces. The hardware has gotten affordable and portable enough that I have the ability to record beautiful high definition video, I have a warehouse full of virtual audio equipment and a recording studio and all the tools to create films, books, albums and more. And the studio all fits in a flippin’ BACKPACK.

So, time to start making stuff and shipping it.

I’m planning to finish The Caliphate and my film about internet political trolling madness soon. Books and other projects are on the way. Some businesses and more classes, because I love teaching. There’s a lot to do and I have the tools.

The trick is having the time, which bring me to…

2) Measure

One way to achieve more is to measure.

This is why fitness devices like the Fitbit are so great: suddenly when your every step is being counted and you can see how much exercise you’re getting or not getting, your life becomes a kind of live video game where you can keep score and compete.

I’ve begun to use tools like RescueTime to keep try of how I’m spending my computer time. (Hint: I spend too much time on Twitter.) I’ve using a tool called Vitamin-R to keep me focused on writing this post right now. And I want to start working smarter on my use of social media by keeping of what’s working and what’s not.

 3) Hello, World

I like people. Right now, a lot of my contact with other humans is online and especially on Twitter. That’s not ideal for all sorts of reasons, including sanity.

I need to see more people live and in person.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate my online friends. I get to talk to people all over the world. We’re bound together by shared interests, not geography. That’s incredible but I DO need to get out more.

There are a few challenges. I work at home. I’m legally blind and can’t drive but Dallas has great public transit and Uber makes it easier for me to get around.

No excuses. People, watch out. Here I come.

4) Edit My Life

I have too much stuff. I don’t think I’m alone on this.

Junk accumulates. Old tech I don’t use. Paper books I can’t read because of the whole “legally blind” thing. A tangle of cables. Documents from years ago. Too. Much. Stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I like stuff but I want to pare it down so I have what I need, not the extra stuff.

I’ve been going digital for years. I don’t buy CDs or paper books but I have a huge music collection and library that I take with me on my Kindle, iPad. iPhone and MacBook wherever I go. Kindle Unlimited and Spotify up the size of that collection to “more than I can ever possibly consume.”

A great blog that talks about these sorts of ideas including minimalism and small space living is Life Edited.

5) Worry Less, Pray More

About a year ago, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. This year, I saw God’s bigger plan for our lives come through for me again and again. Things happened that were beyond anything I could have conceived for myself.

But obviously being saved doesn’t end the work. It begins it, really. For me, part of that is simply trying to keep focusing on constant improvement in every area of my life and knowing that God’s going to do His will.

Prayer beats worry. A lot of non-Christians think of prayer as “asking for stuff” as if God is an invisible Santa Claus and if we wish for it, we’ll get presents. While asking God for things for yourselves or others can be part of prayer, you can also pray without asking for a thing.

Gratitude is often the best prayer of all. Being grateful for the gifts you’ve already been given is incredibly centering in times of stress And most stress is really just the ideas floating around in your head.

And on that note, I’m grateful for you, dear reader.

That’s my list. What are your plans?

Featured Image: by Les Taylor

 

How To Tell When A News Article Is Lying To You: Southern Poverty Law Center Edition

How To Tell When A News Article Is Lying To You: Southern Poverty Law Center Edition

Knowing how to tell what’s true and what’s false on the internet is one of those useful skills that nobody is teaching you. Right? You aren’t handed a BS detector when you graduate school.

As a writer, reporter and filmmaker, I have to deal constantly with information overwhelm-going through tons of articles, book, video and other content and then separating out the correct parts from lies, bias and lazy research.

Here’s an example I found when researching my documentary  The Caliphate where a widely respected and quotes source just gets the basic facts wrong. The group is the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, who designates ‘hate groups’ and has helped groups like CAIR push the idea of Islamaphobia as a way of downplaying the clear and present danger from Islamists.

One of the methods they use is discredit sources. In this case, the source is FrontPage editor and former 1960s radical turned conservative David Horowitz. (Full disclosure: I’ve never met or spoken with Horowitz, but we’re both featured as narrators in the film Occupy Unmasked.)

Here’s what the SPLC says in a section of their hit pieces on Horowitz describing a video that made the rounds a few years ago. Here’s how the Southern Poverty Law Centers describes an exchange between Horowitz and a student:

During one such week in 2010, Horowitz appeared at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Midway through the program, he began to debate a Muslim student wearing a traditional Palestinian keffiyah — what Horowitz called a “terrorist neckerchief.” When the young woman asked Horowitz to clarify the connections he had been drawing between the Muslim Student Association on campus and radical terrorists, he instead asked the woman to denounce Hamas.

“For it, or against it?” he barked, demanding an answer. It was a trap.

While she would later claim she was thinking unclearly and intimidated, she bashfully replied, “For it.” Horowitz nodded and smiled. It was a rhetorical trick — the kind Horowitz has perfected. If she supported Hamas, Horowitz argued, the Muslim Student Association to which she belonged was actually tied to a terrorist organization, as defined by the State Department.

The video made the rounds on conservative news outlets, seeming to confirm for Horowitz and his followers that his fight with the “radical faith” was on target. Islam was on the move — everywhere.

It’s interesting that the SLPC doesn’t embed the video or even link to it.

This is intentional for reasons you can see when you take three and a half minutes to watch the clip being described.

 

checkedLet’s break down some of the falsehoods. Minor point, it’s UCSD.

The glaring thing is how the whole tone described doesn’t correspond with what you see in the video. Horotwitz doesn’t bark. The student doesn’t seem intimidated, in fact she’s fairly aggressive and insulting to Horowitz throughout.

The article also gets the order of events wrong. The student makes it clear that she is for Hamas and there’s no intimidation. The ‘For It’ part is where Horowitz asks her if she’d like see all Jews gather in Palastine so they are easier to kill.  She’s For It.

Also note the scare quotes around Horowitz’s “terrorist neckerchief.” This is a common trick that sends the message to the reader that the person saying the thing in the scare quotes is misguided, wrong or crazy.

In this case, it’s meant to trick readers who can’t see the video. When you watch the video, the woman asking the question is obviously and intentionally wearing a black and white chequered keffiyeh.

What does that mean?

The black and white chequered keffiyeh has become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, dating back to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. Outside of the Middle East and North Africa, the keffiyeh first gained popularity among activists supporting the Palestinians in the conflict with Israel.

While Western protesters wear differing styles and shades of keffiyeh, the most prominent is the black-and-white keffiyeh. This is typically worn around the neck like a neckerchief, simply knotted in the front with the fabric allowed to drape over the back. Other popular styles include rectangular-shaped scarves with the basic black-and-white pattern in the body, with the ends knitted in the form of the Palestinian flag. Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, these rectangular scarves have increasingly appeared with a combination of the Palestinian flag and Al-Aqsa Mosque printed on the ends of the fabric.

David Horowitz isn’t blind or dumb and neither is the Southern Poverty Law Center. The whole section and indeed the whole article is an attempt by the SLPC to separate out support for the Palestinian cause with terrorism.

But unless the readers of the article do diligence, they will be tricked.