The Remarkable Revisionism Of Maureen Dowd

I stopped reading Maureen Dowd’s columns after the 2008 election season.  Dowd’s attacks on Hillary Clinton, her drift into pseudo-literary allusions and her love affair with all things Barack Obama was too much to bear.

Life is short, I reasoned.   So little time, so much to read. Why waste precious moments on mind-numbing crapola?

But yesterday morning, I found a deadly twofer in the Op-Ed section of the NYT.  Thomas Freidman [a man I rarely agree with], waxed eloquent on the future of capitalism, now that the shine on globalization has dulled.  Not to be outdone, Dowd led with the Tea Party’s warrior cry: ‘Don’t Tread On Us.’   Her tagline?

For the Republican uncivil war on women, we’ll need a take-no-prisoners Democratic general.

We’ll need?   As in Maureen Dowd and moi?  As in gender solidarity within the Democratic Party now has meaning?

Oh yes, I’m well aware of the Republican assault on all things female, particularly our sexual parts, our inability to make right-minded decisions when it comes to reproduction or contraception. Women are obviously so clueless it’s a wonder we can tie our shoes. Just to be sure we understand what pregnancy is, what it truly means, women in a number of states will be required to have an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, otherwise known as a legal abortion.  The forward-thinking Great State of Arizona has suggested legislation where an employer can fire you for using birth control.  Amazing!

I’m waiting for someone to suggest arranged marriages.  Or foot binding.

That being said, Dowd piqued my curiosity, seduced me to break my no-read vow. I was fascinated with her head-spinning reversal:

Hillary Clinton has fought for women’s rights around the world. But who would have dreamed that she would have to fight for them at home?

And then goes on to say:

. . . Republicans could drive women into Democratic arms. . . .And whose arms would be more welcoming to the sisters than Hillary’s?

This is too rich.  Hillary Clinton has spent her entire professional life fighting for the rights of women and girls, here and abroad.  But in 2008, none of that mattered.  Shortly before the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton spoke to supporters.  Her eyes welled up.  Maureen Dowd’s reaction?  In her Op-ed entitled, ‘Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back To the Whitehouse?’ she wrote:

But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.

And to further skewer:

She became emotional because she feared that she had reached her political midnight, when she would suddenly revert to the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite. All those years in the shadow of one Natural, only to face the prospect of being eclipsed by another Natural?

Yup, that’s what I call a strong dose of sisterly love!  A sharp knife right between the ribs.  Get the angle right, there’s barely any blood.  And the campaign against Hillary was death by a thousand tiny cuts.

But Dowd was not a one-trick pony.  She kept it up.  In the piece ‘Wilting Over Waffles’:

Now that Hillary has won Pennsylvania, it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival. Certainly Howard Dean will be of no use steering her to the exit. It’s like Micronesia telling Russia to denuke.

“You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out,” said a glowing Hillary at her Philadelphia victory party, with Bill and Chelsea by her side. “Well, the American people don’t quit. And they deserve a president who doesn’t quit, either.”

The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Another warm and fuzzy descriptive: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.  What’s not to love?

Dowd whipped it right to the finish line.  In a piece entitled: ‘Yes, She Can’:

Hillary’s orchestrating a play within the play in Denver. Just as Hamlet used the device to show that his stepfather murdered his father, Hillary will try to show the Democrats they chose the wrong savior.

And:

Obama also allowed Hillary supporters to insert an absurd statement into the platform suggesting that media sexism spurred her loss and that “demeaning portrayals of women … dampen the dreams of our daughters.” This, even though postmortems, including the new raft of campaign memos leaked by Clintonistas to The Atlantic — another move that undercuts Obama — finger Hillary’s horrendous management skills.

Besides the crashing egos and screeching factions working at cross purposes, Joshua Green writes in the magazine, Hillary’s “hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

Dampen the dreams of our daughters???

I’d like to dampen Maureen Dowd’s head, a few dunks in the toilet.  But to be fair, Maureen Dowd is not the only one revising past barbs and now hyping the Hillary Clinton train for 2016.  I’m hearing the pundit echo machine repeat the refrain that Hillary has reached a pinnacle of respect, equal to . . . Al Gore and John Kerry.

Really?

Hillary Clinton reached that pinnacle long before these born-again cheerleaders took note.  Despite the minimizing of her accomplishments–the 80+ countries she visited as First Lady, her participation in Vital Voices during the peace agreement sought in Ireland and her remarkable speech in Beijing—there were many of us who recognized Hillary Clinton as one of the most talented and dedicated political figures of her generation.

The question is . . . why now?  Why the sudden gush of Hillary love after years of pot shots?

Well, riddle me this: who desperately needs the women’s vote in 2012?  Sure, the Republicans have gone out of their way to play the Grand Inquisitor of the 21st century, but until recently President Obama specifically and Democrats in general were watching the female vote slip into tight-lipped resentment.  But then, who can draw genuine excitement in the female electorate [leaving the dwindling Palinistas out of the equation for the moment]?

None other than Hill, who has been voted as the most admired woman for the last 16 years.  With good reason.

Hillary Clinton has stated her role as Secretary of State is likely to be her last public position. I’ve resigned myself to that fact though I’d be thrilled if she were to run again.  But the possibility of a future Clinton candidacy has not cast mass amnesia, erased what we witnessed and heard–the flurry of demeaning articles, suggestions that Hillary was ‘pimping’ Chelsea on the campaign trail, that someone should drag Hillary into a broom closet where only the aggressor comes out, that her nagging voice was like everyone’s ex-wife, etc., etc., etc.

Or this:

If Maureen Dowd and her colleagues have had a genuine change of heart about Hillary Clinton’s extraordinary career, her achievements and leadership qualities, I’m glad for that.  But you’ll have to forgive me.  I’m more than a little suspicious of rah-rah revisionism when the ‘Change We Can Believe In’ mantra has grown old and stale.

You’re not fooling anyone, Ms. Dowd. We have not forgotten.

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Women Of Courage

To read the biographies of this year’s recipients of the Women of Courage awards is nothing short of inspiring.  These are women who have put their lives and futures on the line to improve the quality of life for others, most specifically women and girls in parts of the world where to be female is extraordinarily difficult, even life-threatening.  These are women who would make our Bread and Roses mavens proud, infuse enough energy to conjure those slumbering spirits for another boisterous rally, another yelp for dignity and freedom.

Maryam Durani, a member of the Provencial Council, Kandahar, Afghanistan was one of ten women cited and honored last Thursday in a ceremony, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Here’s a wee bit of her story:

Afghanistan as we all know is not an oasis of women’s liberation.  But Ms. Durani  has pitched herself against the traditional Afghani sensibility, standing as a role model and leader in a country of ancient tribal traditions and strict paternalistic mindsets.  She is the director of the nonprofit Women’s Center for Culture and owns and operates a radio station, which focuses on informing women of their rights.  And the inherent risks of demanding those rights.

She should know.  A suicide bomber nearly ended her life, leaving her with serious injuries.  The death threats haven’t stopped.  Yet, she persists as do the women she serves because in a world where women, by virtue of their gender are considered the enemy, a threat by merely existing as autonomous human beings, there is only one response: fight back.

Here is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introducting Ms. Durani during the Awards Ceremony last week:

Many of the women honored this year and in the past have put themselves on the frontline, encountering serious security threats to themselves and their families.  They are not the first and sadly, they won’t be the last.  The complete list of awardees can be found here.

In January 2011, many people were horrified when the body of Susana Chavez was discovered in a shallow grave.  Chavez, a young poet activist, gave voice to the disappeared women in Juarez, Mexico, nearly 800 women at the time, only to be ‘disappeared’ herself. She was later found tortured, strangled, her body mutilated.

What was her offense?

She would not stop questioning, haranguing, annoying public officials for their inadequate investigations into the deaths of so many women. She was making trouble because she gave voice to those who had no voice, often no identity because their bodies had been disfigured, disposed of, forgotten.

Chavez refused to forget. She refused to be silent.  Giving voice to the abuse of others seems to be a constant thread in all these stories.

In addition to the official US awards, PEN International remembered the murdered women writers of Mexico, eleven murders in 2011, five of whom were women. Since 2006, forty-five writers/journalists/bloggers have been murdered or disappeared because of their investigative/ activist work.

Susana Chavez is on the PEN International list. So is Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, the mother of two and a veteran crime/political reporter.  She was abducted by gunmen in front of her home, only to be later found decapitated.  The message is clear: remain silent or this could be you.

Threats, torture, rape, imprisonment and murder is too often the fate of women who will not be silent, who refuse to get with programs that would restrain and silence them and their sisters.  And yet, like Maryam Durani and others, they persist.  They refuse to back down.

We have our own homegrown fight in the United States, those who would roll back a woman’s right to direct her reproductive life, choose her own destiny.  Here the punishment is humiliation, censor, scorn, name-calling, legislative measures to equate a woman’s fully realized life with that of a zygote, even the willingness to probe a woman’s decision-making process [because authoritarians find women incapable of ‘right-minded’ action, otherwise known as ‘their way or the highway’].

In all these efforts, the purpose is to demean, limit, control, even eliminate women because the Daughters of Eve are traditionally viewed as a danger, a threat to the status quo.  There’s a reason Lilith is rarely mentioned.  She was wa-a-ay too uppity.

But here’s the thing: even for those of us not facing mortal danger, we can have an impact by the way we live our lives, support other women, raise our daughters and sons and in the way we give voice to those who have pushed back against female abuse in all its forms, here and around the world, past and present.

Because to quote Hillary Clinton’s famous line: Women’s Rights are indeed Human Rights.  Our quest should be to fulfill Susana Chavez’s words:  Ni Una Mas.  Ni Una Mas.

Not One More.

Women's Empowerment


Sunday Reads: Three, Eight, Eleven, Fifty and Leap

Good Morning

I spent most of Saturday inside a mall in Atlanta. The place was packed but people were not spending much, aside from the pretzel joint and The American Girl store. Geez, those dolls were everywhere. Some girls even carried two of these freaky “Talky Tina” incarnate dolls, and what a sight…all three wearing the same outfit. Hmmm, I wonder how many of those dolls come to life and wind up telling Telly Savalas, “My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you.” (Yes, I know it is a cheap reference to Twilight Zone, don’t worry I have some other stories to share with you that will also have literary or film references.)

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a link in the comments that I think deserves front page mention. The article is about the latest revelation out of the Catholic Church…and I’m not talking about contraception. Court filing: Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing.

The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese’s Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month.

They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him.

Cardinal Bevilacqua died this past January 31st

The revelation is likely to further cloud Bevilacqua’s complicated legacy in the handling of clergy sex abuse and could shape what happens at the historic trial, the first for a cleric accused of covering up sex abuse. Jury selection began this week. Opening statements are March 26.

Prosecutors say that Lynn, as the secretary for clergy, recommended priests for assignments despite knowing or suspecting that they would sexually abuse children. Facing trial with him are two former parish priests accused of molesting a boy in the 1990s, the Rev. James J. Brennan and Edward Avery.

The Defense is arguing that the recently discovered memo is proof that the cover up of repeated child sex abuse was directed by church officials.

This story reads like a pitch for a Showtime movie of the week, or maybe a sick mini-series on Lifetime.

After becoming secretary for clergy in 1992, they say, Lynn began combing the secret personnel files of hundreds of priests to gauge the scope of misconduct involving children. He did it, his lawyers said, because he “felt it was the right thing to do.”

The result was his February 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of abuse or pedophilia. Lynn allegedly gave it to his superior, Msgr. James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration, who shared his duties documenting abuse complaints.

Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Molloy and Bishop Edward P. Cullen, then the cardinal’s top aide, the filing says. After the meeting, Bevilacqua allegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo.

One week later, Molloy allegedly destroyed four copies, with the Rev. Joseph Cistone as a witness. “This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua,” say Molloy’s handwritten notes.

But Molloy apparently had second thoughts. Without telling anyone, he took a copy of the memo, and his notes, and placed them in a portable, locked safe.

According to the motion, that safe remained untouched and unnoticed until 2006, when archdiocesan officials found it and hired a locksmith to open it. It’s unclear why the records inside were only recently turned over to Lynn’s lawyers and prosecutors, although church lawyers have said they have been reviewing thousands of files to comply with trial subpoenas.

Back in 2002, Bevilacqua had mentioned a list of 35 suspected priests, of which the archdiocese had giving information on to the Philadelphia District Attorney. However…

…He did not mention any memo from eight years earlier or his order to shred it.

During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to Lynn.

“I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up,” he testified.

This now places some concern about the Cardinals videotaped testimony, and whether he perjured himself…and what effect this will have on the prosecution’s case. James Molloy died in 2006. The article mentions an interview he gave before his death that may have hinted at the memo and extra copy of the list of abusive priest.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Molloy described reaching a point when “I couldn’t be sure that I could trust my superiors to do the right thing.” So, he said, he became diligent about documenting his actions.

“I wanted my memos to be there if the archdiocese’s decisions were eventually put on the judicial scales,” Molloy said then. “This way, anyone could come along in the future and say, this was right or this wrong. But they could never say it wasn’t all written down.”

It looks as though Lynn has been used as a scapegoat…but if this is all true it sounds eerily similar to the abuse situation and cover-up at Penn State. .

Think about the parallels between the two cases. Though they are not exact, they seem to mirror one another.

In the Sandusky scandal, an assistant coach walks in on Sandusky anally raping a young boy in the school’s gym shower. He goes to the men in charge, head coach, college president and head of college security…and tells them what he saw. The cover up goes from there…and nothing is done to protect the children who are being abused by Sandusky.

In Lynn’s case, two of the main players, the Cardinal Bevilacqua and Msgr. Malloy are now dead…with Penn State, Head Coach Joe Paterno died last month. Testimony was given in both cases to a grand jury before the men died…it would be something if the Feds find a “smoking” gun or memo in the documents they have subpoenaed from Penn State this past week.

Since I have brought up the Sandusky Child Abuse story, I might as well update you on that.

Feds seek PSU hard drives, financial info in Sandusky case

Penn State adds detail about Sandusky subpoena

Jerry Sandusky scandal:  Feds subpoena Penn State for top officials’ info

I am going to stick with US news for now…so more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Last of the Mohicans

Okay, so I just couldn’t resist Ed Rendell’s speculation on the possibility of a Hillary Clinton run for the Presidency. He’s bullish on 2016.

“I think, and this is just my thinking, that if she leaves after the president’s first term is over and she leaves and she teaches, does something like that, and rests, I think the possibility of being president and being the first woman president in history would probably be too much for her to resist,” Rendell told POLITICO.

“Her life is public service, that’s all she cares about, and I dont think she’s ready to retire,” he added.

Rendell was quoted in Monday’s New York PostOne as saying, “It’s going to be Hillary Clinton in 2016.”

 One of the more fun quotes was about persistent Hillary hold-outs.

Rendell told POLITICO that what he meant was that Clinton would decide whether to make another run for the White House only after she leaves the State Department. That means she wouldn’t run until at least 2016 because Clinton has said she will stay in office until President Barack Obama’s first term is over.

Clinton has said in many recent interviews that she is looking forward to returning to private life when Obama’s first term is complete and that Secretary of State will be her last public job.

Rendell said there is a core group of 2008 Hillary Clinton supporters — they call themselves “The Last of the Mohicans” — who continue to urge her to run for president again.

Anyway, it’s a fun read and much more inspiring than any of the crap coming out of the 2012 race.  We can dream, can’t we?


Monday: Hillary, Gerry, and No Limits

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears during a pre-taping of "Face the Nation" to discuss the latest developments in Libya, Syria and the Middle East, in Washington March 26, 2011. (Reuters)

Hey all. Wonk the Vote here filling in with some Monday Reads for Kat while she rests up. Get well soon, Kat! We’re all thinking of you and sending you healing thoughts.

Alright news junkies, let’s get this morning roundup started.

Hillary on the Sunday Shows

  • Yesterday Hillary did a bunch of joint interviews with Robert Gates on the Sunday morning shows, basically doing all the leg work for Obama’s speech tonight. If you missed the Clinton-Gates interviews and would like to judge for yourself, Stacy at SecyClintonBlog has all the transcripts and videos up here.
  • I’ll let the headlines do the summarizing:

NYT: Clinton and Gates Defend Mission in Libya.

Huffpo/AP: Clinton, Gates: Libya Operation Could Last Months.

David Gregory: Clinton and Gates try to clarify U.S. involvement in Libya.

CBS News: Clinton: No military action in Syria for now.

Jake Tapper’s Political Punch: Clinton Cites Rwanda, Bosnia in Rationale for Libya Intervention. From the link:

In an interview with ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper on “This Week,” Clinton said that the United Nations-backed military intervention in Libya “is a watershed moment in international decision making. We learned a lot in the 1990s. We saw what happened in Rwanda. It took a long time in the Balkans, in Kosovo to deal with a tyrant. But I think in what has happened since March 1st, and we’re not even done with the month, demonstrates really remarkable leadership.”

[…]

In an interview on “This Week” in December, 2007, Clinton told George Stephanopoulos that she urged President Clinton to intervene in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide there.Then-Senator Clinton said, “I believe that our government failed. … I think that for me it was one of the most poignant and difficult experiences when I met with Rwandan refugees in Kampala, Uganda, shortly after the genocide ended and I personally apologized to women whose arms had been hacked off who had seen their husbands and children murdered before their very eyes and were at the bottom of piles of bodies, and then when I was able to go to Rwanda and be part of expressing our deep regrets because we didn’t speak out adequately enough and we certainly didn’t take action,” she told Stephanopoulos.

Hillary, on the passing of Gerry:

  • At the end of the Clinton-Gates appearance on Meet the Press, David Gregory played the “Ms. Ferraro, could you push the nuclear button” clip and asked Hillary to react to it. Here’s what Hill had to say (scroll to the end to find this in the transcript at the link):

SECRETARY CLINTON: It just makes me smile because she was an extraordinary pioneer, she was a path-breaker, she was everything that – now the commentators will say an icon, a legend. But she was down to earth, she was just as personal a friend as you could have, she was one of my fiercest defenders and most staunch supporters, she had a great family that she cherished and stood up for in every way.

And she went before many women to a political height that is very, very difficult still, and she navigated it with great grace and grit, and I think we owe her a lot. And I’ll certainly think about her every day, and thanks for asking me to reflect on it briefly, because she was a wonderful person.

“Gerry Ferraro was one of a kind — tough, brilliant, and never afraid to speak her mind or stand up for what she believed in — a New York icon and a true American original. She was a champion for women and children and for the idea that there should be no limits on what every American can achieve. The daughter of an Italian immigrant family, she rose to become the first woman ever nominated to the national ticket by a major political party. She paved the way for a generation of female leaders and put the first cracks in America’s political glass ceiling. She believed passionately that politics and public service was about making a difference for the people she represented as a congresswoman and Ambassador.

For us, Gerry was above all a friend and companion. From the rough-and-tumble of political campaigns to the important work of international diplomacy, we were honored to have her by our side. She was a tireless voice for human rights and helped lead the American delegation to the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Through it all, she was a loyal friend, trusted confidante, and valued colleague.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Gerry’s husband John, her children and grandchildren, and their entire family.”

(Note the use of Hillary’s trademark “No Limits” in the statement. There’s no higher compliment from Hill than that.)

Remembering Gerry from Queens

  • If you haven’t read Stacy’s tribute to Geraldine Ferraro yet, it’s by far my favorite. I was barely three years old when Mondale picked Ferraro. Stacy’s post gave me a sense of “meeting” Ferraro in the way that she was introduced to many of you in 1984.

Hillary Clinton’s State Department

Europe

Gulf of Mexico

Louisiana officials were confounded last weekend when a thin oil slick washed up on around 30 miles of Gulf shoreline. Initial tests sought to determine whether it might have been residual oil left over from last April’s massive Deepwater Horizon spill, but it turns out that yet another offshore drilling accident may have occurred. Tests matched the oil with crude that Houston-based Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners had reported spilling from one of its wells. The latest accident comes at a bad time for federal regulators, who have just approved four new permits for deepwater drilling in the Gulf — not to mention Gulf fishermen and residents.

MENA region

First, from NY Mag’s roundup… Five Men [allegedly] Arrested in Connection to Libyan Rape Allegations.

LA Times… Libyan woman who alleged rape remains missing:

The whereabouts of a woman who was taken away by security officials while making allegations of rape to Western journalists are unknown. A government official says she is a prostitute and that an inquiry is underway.

Nicholas Kristof, via twitter:

The heroic Libyan woman #EmanalObeidi turns out to be a law graduate, age 29, seized at checkpoint http://bit.ly/fNp4Nf

  • Speaking of Nick Kristof, he has an important piece out about the battle for human rights in Egypt…what Kristof calls Freedom’s Painful Price. He calls attention to the torture, humiliation, and degradation that the women protesters of Egypt are facing…the horrifying circumstance of virginity tests and calling women prostitutes to scare them into silence and submission. Kristof concludes:

The lesson may be that revolution is not a moment but a process, a gritty contest of wills that unfolds painstakingly long after the celebrations have died and the television lights have dimmed.

Previewing Obama’s Week-Late, Leadership-Short Speech Tonight

The speech from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., will be his first major attempt to explain his thinking.

He offered a preview in his weekly address on Saturday, saying that the U.S. should not and cannot intervene every time there is a crisis somewhere in the world.

But Obama said, “When someone like Gadhafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region, and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives — then it’s in our national interest to act.”

President Obama plans a Monday evening address with an increasingly common goal, to sell the American public on an increasingly unpopular war. But while those previous speeches were about the decade-long Afghan War, the Monday speech will be about the new war in Libya.

[…]

President Obama’s effort to sell the American public on support for a third major war will be complicated by admissions from top officials that the new war isn’t even a vital American interest in their eyes.

So what’s on your blogging list today?


Saturday: Women in Active Control

Rise and shine, news junkies.

Here are my Saturday offerings. Enjoy.

But former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter says that “this idea of the women going to war is wildly overplayed.”

“On the one hand, you get the women in the administration criticized because they focus on development issues and empowering women and humanitarian issues, and the next minute they are being stylized as Amazons — that’s ridiculous,” says Slaughter, who ran Clinton’s policy planning office at the State Department until recently.

Clinton initially took a cautious line on military intervention, turning only after she was assured that Arab states supported it and would play a role.

Only the day before, Mrs. Clinton — along with her boss, President Obama — was a skeptic on whether the United States should take military action in Libya. But that night, with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces turning back the rebellion that threatened his rule, Mrs. Clinton changed course, forming an unlikely alliance with a handful of top administration aides who had been arguing for intervention.

Was President Obama “henpecked” into waging war on Libya by his “Amazon warrior” female advisors? Only if you’re shocked by the thought of women in positions of power actually asserting their power. It also helps if you consider skepticism of military engagement to be inherently “feminine” and think that getting convinced of something by a woman is in and of itself emasculating. And if you’re Maureen Dowd you repeat all that stupid, backward cant, because you’re the hard-charging award-winning New York Times columnist with the most retrograde conception of gender relations this side of Hays Code-era Hollywood.

  • Photo (at the beginning of this post): U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledges the crowd at a ceremony marking World Water Day at World Bank Headquarters in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2011 (Reuters).

The water crisis can bring people together. In fact, on water issues, cooperation, not conflict, is and can be the rule.

  • This year’s theme for the UN’s 19th annual WWD was

Water for Cities: responding to the urban challenge.

  • Heather Allen at NRDC, on the MOU (memorandum of understanding) agreement on water, signed by Hillary and World Bank president Robert Zoellick on WWD 2011:

Last year Hillary Clinton’s speech on World Water Day catapulted water to the top of the mind among the diplomatic and humanitarian communities. Previously water had done well in Congress (regularly receiving signficant appropriations and passing the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act), however focus from the White House or Administration had been lacking.

In Clinton’s 2010 speech she called water the ‘wellspring of all life’, and characterized it as central to international development. From that speech and other actions over the last year we have seen significant progress toward prioritizing water. Just last month the Rajiv Shah the Administrator of USAID appointed Chris Holmes to be the new Global Water Coordinator – a position designed to help build a water strategy across government agencies. In addition President Obama requested just over 300 million for water appropriations for 2012 – the largest amount ever, indicating an increasing focus on water.

This MOU will help to ground these advances and build support at all levels throughout government agencies for cooperation on water. Agreements like these can be powerful tools to support innovative projects on water, because they make it clear that the highest levels of government intend to see progress here.

Today’s agreement on water helps people in the World Bank and the U.S. Government focus attention where we need it most – to bring water and sanitation to the billions who lack it, a great reason to celebrate on World Water Day.

  • Hillary and Zoellick exchanging documents after signing the MOU (click to view larger):

  • Perusing through the various links I came across on water day, I was reminded of the Guardian’s John Vidal recently asking What does the Arab world do when its water runs out? (h/t Minkoff Minx for pointing to this piece in one of her roundups last month.)
  • Check out this brilliant slideshow of twenty photos from around the globe on World Water Day (via SacBee’s The Frame).

He raised the bar for what it means to be a public servant and set new benchmarks for what a private citizen can accomplish to make the world a better place. He also has more energy and travels more miles than anyone I know—aside from maybe his brilliant wife.

“With the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, America has lost one of its greatest talents and fiercest advocates for HIV/AIDS research. Born in England, Elizabeth became thoroughly American royalty. For more than a generation, she brought to life unforgettable characters on film, and her tireless efforts to combat AIDS brought hope to millions of people around the world. We were honored to host her at the White House in 2001 when she received the Presidential Citizens Medal for her relentless crusade for more AIDS research and better care. In founding amfAR, she raised both millions of dollars and our level of awareness about the impact of AIDS in the United States and around the world. Elizabeth’s legacy will live on in many people around the world whose lives will be longer and better because of her work and the ongoing efforts of those she inspired. Our thoughts are with her family, her friends, and her many fans. We will miss her talent, her heart, and her friendship.”

Taylor was an avid Hillary Clinton supporter during the 2008 presidential race and donated the legal maximum of $4,600 to Clinton’s campaign.

“I have contributed to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign because she has a mind of her own and a very strong one at that,” Taylor said in 2007. “I like the way she thinks. She is very savvy and a smart leader with years of experience in government, diplomacy and politics.”

As Walker’s biography indicates, Taylor wasn’t afraid to go public with these sorts of feelings. Although Taylor is widely recognized for her work as an AIDS activist, she clearly saw the world in feminist terms. One public event chronicled by Walker shows how fiercely vocal Taylor could be when she felt women were not taken seriously:

The senator was addressing a policy forum of Republican VIPs and saying that women should be exempt from the draft, when Elizabeth gave vent to a dissenting mutter and then, to the surprise of many, a prolonged boo. Warner, in what was interpreted as an attempt to placate her, succeeded in looking as if he were slapping her down. Women, he claimed, were volunteering for jobs in the services. Elizabeth’s hard-edged voice split the tense atmosphere….’What kind of jobs — “Rosie the Riveter” jobs?’ Laughter broke out. Emboldened by feeling that the audience was with her, she backed up her position. ‘Women have been in active control since Year One.’ Look at Margaret Thatcher, she said: look at Cleopatra. Warner, now flushed, appeared to try and subdue her with a wave of his hand — a gesture that brought her leaping to her feet. ‘Don’t you steady me with that all-dominating hand of yours.’

Today, 85 countries from every region of the world joined together in a historic moment to state clearly that human rights apply to everyone, no matter who they are or whom they love.

  • This next one is from a conservative think tank, so you’ve been duly warned — Christina Hoff Sommers, via the American Enterprise Institute — Tina Brown’s Post-Feminist Summit:

When panelist Anna Holmes, founder of the website Jezebel, denounced fashion magazines for retouching photographs of female models, Brown refused to see it as a pressing moral issue. “When I get photographed,” she quipped, “the first words out of my mouth are, ‘Am I going to be retouched?'” A dismayed Holmes replied, “But you still want to look human!” “No,” said Brown, “I just want to look great.”

  • For something more inspiring — Homa Sabet Tavangar met up with Hillary’s go-to person between sessions at Tina Brown’s summit in NYC the other week and posted this interview on Huffpo a couple days ago: Don’t Know Melanne Verveer? Why you Should.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which killed 146 workers and prompted labor reform in the United States, HBO is letting the basic-cable-subscribing public watch its recent documentary about the events.

“Triangle: Remembering the Fire” will re-air on CNN on Saturday, Mar. 26 at 11:00 p.m. ET — just one day after the anniversary.

That’s it for me. What’s on your blogging list today?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]


Saturday: Solidarity, Sisterhood

Good morning, gleaners!

Grab your morning brew, and let’s go!

Wisconsin

  • It’s farmer-labor day today at the WI Capitol building, starting at noon, complete with a “tractorcade.”

Hillaryland

(second link will take you to an AFP report on Hillary’s remarks at Friday’s Women in the World conference in NY. See also her remarks at the 2011 Women of Courage event for more.)

  • This week–on International Women’s day no less–our advocate-in-chief helped to launch a Global Partnership on Maternal and Child Health, bringing a long-neglected development goal further out of the shadows. Brava, Madam Secretary!

(see also Hillary’s 100 Women Initiative. If you don’t know what it is, click and find out.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, introducing the president of Kyrgyzstan at a State Department event.

Women’s Rights

  • See here for RH Reality Check’s exhaustive coverage of the latest developments from yesterday. Also, Minkoff Minx wrote to her Georgia state representative, Stephen Allison (R-8) and received a letter from Rep. Allison that you might find of interest. Scroll to the end of the post to see it.
  • My $0.02 on Allison’s response: The excuse that the most draconian of these bills will never pass is baloney. The rise of mini-Stupaks in states across the country has built up a momentum in the war against women, and that momentum is helping to get other horrible versions of these bills passed. Furthermore, the preponderance of such nonsense legislation clearly indicates a concerted effort to use women and their civil rights as a tool of division and distraction from the economy, degrading those rights in the process and blocking unfettered access to reproductive healthcare for women–all women. The rich will get their safe abortions on demand one way or another, and we all know it.

Tired of hearing about Charlie Sheen?

Economy

  • Bernie Sanders introduces The Emergency Deficit Reduction Act. Sanders’ press release says the bill would a) create a 5.4% surtax on millionaires, yielding up to $50 billion annually for the US Treasury, and b) end tax breaks for Big Oil, yielding about $3.5 billion a year in new revenue. Thank you, Bernie Sanders!

CLICK TO GO TO ECONOMIX

US Politics: 2012

  • US News & World Report says wedge issues are back just in time for the 2012 electoral cycle. In other news… Water? Yep, wet as ever. (When did wedge issues ever leave?)
  • Here’s a derivative piece if ever there was one… Cameron Lynch says Barack Obama is the “Surprisingly Silent President.” This echoes Ruth Marcus last week suddenly discovering that Obama is the “Where’s Waldo” president. Obama told America who he was from 2004 to 2008. The creative clueless class was too busy chattering away and creating “a different kind of politician” narrative to take note that Obama was telegraphing very clearly that he would make an indifferent kind of president.

Civil Liberties

King hearings

  • Adam Serwer (via the American Prospect) has an important read up that puts it all in perspective… Good Cop, Bad Cop: “On counterterrorism, the only difference between Republicans and Obama is rhetorical.”

Disaster in Japan and Elsewhere

(Also, Crowley confirmed his comments about Manning to The Cable:”What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official USG policy position. I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning.”)

  • See the NYT’s photojournalism blog — Lens — for dramatic shots of the devastation from the 8.9 quake and tsunami in Japan, as well as other harrowing pictures from around the world yesterday, that tell the story of tragedy and strife.

Environment

  • “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century. Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

–Achim Steiner, the executive director of UN Environment Programme

This Day in History (March 12)

  • First fireside chat: “It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.” –FDR, 1933 (even FDR sounds like he’s saying Solidarity forever!)

What Kind of Liberal are You?

  • Take the quiz. I’m a “Working Class Warrior.” How about you?
  • I mostly linked to this silly quiz so I could share this priceless bumper sticker quote from the first question: “May the fetus you save be gay.”

Song of Protest for Saturday

Extra verse added to the PPM version: “Show me the famine, show me the frail, eyes with no future that show how we failed, and I’ll show you the children with so many reasons why there but for fortune, go you or I.”

I’m turning the Saturday reads over to you in the comments… Take the quiz and let us know how you score, share a song, link us to what’s on your blogging list this weekend…and have a great day!

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]