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.

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

 

3 Lessons From Monopoly

While my kids are playing Call of Duty or Minecraft, I chill old school and play Monopoly on the iPad. I play at the Hard level against three computer AI opponents and I win over 90% of the time, which I like. I actually think I’ve learned some stuff, too.

1) Focus & Mind Your Business

I usually win just by controlling one or two property groups; the Orange, Purple or Light Blue. The game AI makes the computer buy up everything in sight, which I use to my advantage in trades. If I have extra properties, I usually mortgage them right away. I just want one or two color groups where I can immediately build three houses.

2) The Dice Don’t Matter

There’s a lot of luck in Monopoly and it makes almost no difference to me at all. The dice are what they are. I don’t count on the dice so I can buy a property; just as often as not, I’ll do trades to acquire the properties I’m focused on buying. You can get what you want , if you’re focused on really getting it.

3) Adapt To The Rules

One thing I do to keep it interesting is to mix up the Houses Rules. Sometimes, make it so there’s a ton of cash in the game — extra money for landing on Go plus money for landing on Free Parking. Sometimes, I make it so there’s almost no cash — starting with a lower bank and no money for passing Go. I still win consistently because I adapt how I play the game to fit the circumstances.

Attribution Some rights reserved by Mike_fleming

Big D

Three weeks ago, if you’d told Lauren or me that we’d be living in Dallas, Texas at some point, we would have assured you that it would never, ever happen.

It’s more or less a fluke that we came to Dallas at all. When we left New Mexico, our plan was to head to Dallas to take the kids to the State Fair of Texas and then head down to Austin. We had it all planned out. We’d arrive on Wednesday, because that’s the day the Fair has reduced admission if you bring cans of food. So, eight cans of beans or something plus about $20 and we were going to give the kids a few hours of childhood memories.

Then, my Dad passed away and that pushed back our move bv a day. No Wednesday arrival but maybe we’d get to the fair later in the week and then we planned to head down to Austin. We liked Austin, we’d lived there before and the Keep Austin Weird lifestyle seemed to suit us since we’re — ya know — weird.

We never made it to the Fair.

We found a Studio 6 hotel we liked near Dallas, though. It was small and cramped with two adults, three kids and two cats but we’d known it would be small and were prepared to deal with that for a month or two if we had to. We thought we’d be in the Dallas hotel and then move down to one in Austin.

One week ago, I thought we’d be staying in the Dallas for another month and then we’d be heading south. I’d paid for the hotel a month in advance and was settling down to work.

Then I went to church last Sunday. I’d found a Unitarian Universalist church that was close enough to the hotel and that was doing stuff for Halloween. This was a big deal to the kids, who wanted to see what ‘trunk or treat’ was about. I wanted to light a candle for my Dad.

I’ve drifted in and our of UU churches for about eight years now, in Austin and then Southern California and a little bit in Albuquerque. During times of real personal upheaval a few years ago, going to the UU church was a real help and it was pretty strange to me how in many cases the message delivered there was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

So last week, I went to light a candle for my Dad and it happened to be the week they were celebrating the Day of the Dead, complete with an alter with sugar on it. The kids and I went to church, sat in the back row and I lit my candle and the kids quietly sang along with hymns. The message was about prayer and how prayer isn’t winning the lottery. They played Eric Clapton’s song Change The World early in the service and the CD skipped and everyone laughed. The man sitting in the row next to me said, “We have a lot of fun here.”

After the service, I talked to that man about the church and how we ended up there; about having to move from New Mexico and going to Dallas for the fair and staying in the hotel and so on.

And — that man happened to have a townhouse that he’d just moved out of…and he offered to rent it to us, really cheap, for a couple of months. After the service, I told Lauren and it almost didn’t seem real. It was too…perfect. The place sounded like exactly what we needed; affordable, three bedrooms, right in the city.

Something else had happened in our time in Dallas…we discovered we like the city, a lot. It’s a big, modern city with great grocery stores and restaurants and lots to do.

So, we went to look at the townhouse and it was even better than I’d imagined. Lauren walked around with a grin on her face. The kids ran around and picked out rooms. That was on Wednesday, just three days ago. We moved in on Thursday.

And now we live in Dallas.