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


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

  • 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!


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


(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?


  • 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!


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.


  • “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]

Women, Workers, and The Sisterhood

Hillary has marked today’s 100th International Women’s Day by releasing the following op-ed. As soon as I heard the title, I knew I’d hear, “women do two-thirds, yet…”

Real life Rosie the Riveter. Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a “Vengeance” dive bomber, Tennessee (1943). Library of Congress, LC-USW36-295 (P&P)

March 7, 2011:

Women’s Work-More, Earn-Less Plan Hurts — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

[Bloomberg headline — I Know the Secret to Economic Growth: Hillary Rodham Clinton]

“Throughout the world, women do two-thirds of the work, yet they earn just one-third of the income and own less than 2 percent of the land. Three billion people don’t have access to basic financial services we take for granted, like bank accounts and lines of credit; the majority of them are women. […] If we invest in women’s education and give them the opportunity to access credit or start a small business, we add fuel to a powerful engine for progress for women, their families, their communities and their countries. Women invest 80 percent of their incomes on their families and in their communities.”

Whether Hillary’s in or out of US domestic politics, Hillary is working for all women and for all workers. She’s the woman who first introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2005 after all.

Over the last thirty-something years, Hill’s even gotten Bill speaking the language of women power.

September 2009:

“According to the United Nations, women do 66% — two thirds — of the world’s work, produce 50% of the world’s food — a fact which would stun people in this country given the way agriculture is organized — earn 10% of the world’s income, and own 1% of the world’s property.” –President Bill Clinton, at the Clinton Global Initiative, discussing why we need to invest in girls and women

I’m more familiar with hearing the “two-thirds work, 10% income, 1% property” set of figures. Hillary’s “two third-one third-less than 2%” is a new one on me–I wonder if it’s an update or tweak. Anyhow, another great companion piece to read with Hillary’s op-ed today is this interview at Democracy Now — “Women’s Rights are Workers’ Rights:” Kavita Ramdas on History of International Women’s Day and Challenges Women Face 100 Years Later. From the link:

“I think there is a need for us, I think, at this moment, particularly as there’s an effort to marginalize the rights of workers, as you see across many of the states, particularly Wisconsin, Indiana, an attempt to kind of roll back some of the achievements that workers have fought for so hard. You see that happening simultaneously, Amy, as you mentioned, with the attempt to sort of roll back women’s rights. And this is happening exactly at the moment that globally, the voice says, ‘Oh, you know, the way to have development and democracy is to invest in women.’ So, on one hand, you have what’s right for the rest of the world; on the other hand, you actually have a situation in which people are losing rights, in the context of the country where those rights were fought for, you know, to begin with.” –Kavita Ramdas

I’d love to hear our resident economist and blogger extraordinaire Dakinikat weigh in when she gets a chance and give us her thoughts and analysis on where women’s wage earnings stand and the road forward. In the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to revisit some of Hillary’s earlier op-eds from the last three years, to see how her current piece tackling “Work-More, Earn-Less” fits into her overall vision. I’m just going to pick the op-eds that come to mind for me and excerpt a small passage from each. I want to let Hillary do the talking here and illustrate the framework she’s been putting in place, piece by piece, with each of these editorials.

This will go backwards in time (reverse chronological order.)

November 10, 2010:

An End to Human Trafficking — SecState HRC

“It is especially important for governments to protect the most vulnerable – women and children – who are more likely to be victims of trafficking. They are not just the targets of sex traffickers, but also labor traffickers, and they make up a majority of those trapped in forced labor: picking cotton, mining rare earth minerals, dancing in nightclubs. The numbers may keep growing, as the global economic crisis has exposed even more women to unscrupulous recruiters.”

October 28, 2010:

The Key to Sustainable Peace: Women” — SecState HRC and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store

“Whether they are combatants or survivors, peace-builders or bystanders, women must play a role in the transition from war to peaceful development. And we must urge men and women to focus on changing the conditions that produced the violence in the first place. In the coming weeks and months, our governments will be pressing to ramp up meaningful implementation of Resolution 1325. As just one part of that effort, our governments are among those participating in an important international conference in Copenhagen this week, where the focus will be on the role of women in a broad range of global security issues. If we want to make progress towards settling the world’s most intractable conflicts, let’s enlist women.”

October 2009:

A New Approach to Global Food Security and Hunger— SecState HRC

“Food security represents the convergence of several issues: droughts and floods caused by climate change, swings in the global economy that affect food prices, and spikes in the price of oil that increase transportation costs. So food security is not only about food, but it is all about security. Chronic hunger threatens individuals, governments, societies, and borders. People who are starving or undernourished and can’t care for their families are left with feelings of hopelessness and despair, which can lead to tension, conflict, even violence. Since 2007, there have been riots over food in more than 60 countries. The failures of farming in many parts of the world also have an impact on the global economy. Farming is the only or primary source of income for more than three-quarters of the world’s poor. When so many work so hard but still can’t get ahead, the whole world is held back.”

August 2009:

What I Saw in Goma— SecState HRC

“There is an old Congolese proverb that says, ‘No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.’ The day must come when the women of the eastern Congo can walk freely again, to tend their fields, play with their children and collect firewood and water without fear. They live in a region of unrivaled natural beauty and rich resources. They are strong and resilient. They could, if given the opportunity, drive economic and social progress that would make their country both peaceful and prosperous. Working together, we will banish sexual violence into the dark past, where it belongs, and help the Congolese people seize the opportunities of a new day.”

August 9, 2009:

Women Are Drivers of Positive ChangeSecState HRC

“National Women’s Day commemorates the 20 000 South African women who marched for justice on August 9 1956. Fearless, they sang an anthem that has become a rallying cry: ‘Wathint’a bafazi, Wathint’ imbokodo’ (You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock). Women can be the rock on which a freer, safer and more prosperous Africa is built. They just need the opportunity.”

June 17, 2009:

Partnering Against TraffickingSecState HRC

“When I began advocating against trafficking in the 1990s, I saw firsthand what happens to its victims. In Thailand, I held 12-year-olds who had been trafficked and were dying of AIDS. In Eastern Europe, I shared the tears of women who wondered whether they’d ever see their relatives again. The challenge of trafficking demands a comprehensive approach that both brings down criminals and cares for victims. To our strategy of prosecution, protection and prevention, it’s time to add a fourth P: partnerships. The criminal networks that enslave millions of people cross borders and span continents. Our response must do the same.”

September 25, 2008:

Let’s Keep People In Their Homes– Senator HRC

“I’ve proposed a new Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), to launch a national effort to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. […] The original HOLC returned a profit to the Treasury and saved one million homes. We can save roughly three times that many today. […] If we do not take action to address the crisis facing borrowers, we’ll never solve the crisis facing lenders. These problems go hand in hand. And if we are going to take on the mortgage debt of storied Wall Street giants, we ought to extend the same help to struggling, middle-class families. […] This is a sink-or-swim moment for America. We cannot simply catch our breath. We’ve got to swim for the shores. We must address the conditions that set the stage for the turmoil unfolding on Wall Street, or we will find ourselves lurching from crisis to crisis. Just as Wall Street must once again look further than the quarterly report, our nation must as well.”

August 6, 2008:

No Crisis Is Immune From Exploitation Under BushSenator HRC

“The examples of the waste, fraud and abuse are legion — from KBR performing shoddy electrical work in Iraq that has resulted in the electrocution of our military personnel according to Pentagon and Congressional investigators, to the firing of an Army official who dared to refuse a $1 billion payout for questionable charges to the same company. In another scam, the Pentagon awarded a $300 million contract to AEY, Inc., a company run by a 22-year-old who fulfilled an ammunition deal in Afghanistan by supplying rotting Chinese-made munitions to our allies. But the fraud and waste are not limited to the war. In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, for example, FEMA awarded a contract worth more than $500 million for trailers to serve as temporary housing. The contractor, Gulf Stream, collected all of its money even though they knew at the time that its trailers were contaminated with formaldehyde. […] If we’re going to get serious about putting our nation’s fiscal house in order, let’s talk about putting an end to billions in no-bid contract awards to unaccountable contractors. Let’s talk about the number of lucrative contracts and bonuses being paid for duties never performed, promises never fulfilled, and contracts falsely described as complete. And let’s talk about reforming the federal contracting system so that we can take on the real waste, fraud and abuse in our federal government.”

Are you detecting a pattern yet?

Disaster capitalism… No Profit Left Behind…. Mortgage Crisis… Modern-Day Slavery… Opportunities for Women… Banishing Sexual Violence… Global Food Security and Hunger… Women’s Progress as the Key to Sustainable Peace… Enlisting Women… Investing in Women’s Education and Economic Security…

These are just a few of the challenges and objectives outlined, and the above is hardly an exhaustive compilation.

When I think of Barack Obama’s op-ed writing, I think of his ode to deregulation at the start of this year. When I think of Sarah Palin’s, I remember this summer of 2009 anti-cap and trade diatribe that never even mentioned global warming (or climate change). Two Reagan-wannabe peas-in-a-pod.

Hillary stands out as presidential–a champion for every man, woman, and child to have a level playing field in this world from which to rise. But, as our own commenter paperdoll says, “1600 PA Ave. isn’t big enough for Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.”

And, that’s because Hillary’s work is bigger than her and belongs to all of us.

On this International Women’s Day, I’d like to leave you with the photo below. Because when it comes to Hillary and her work, it’s not about her being likeable, and it’s not about paternalism and rescuing damsels in distress who are incapable of freeing and governing themselves–it’s about all of us supporting these young women, and for that matter one another, so we can each lift ourselves up to our God-given potential.

When Hillary gave her speech at the DNC in 2008, she asked “Were you in this campaign just for me?”

Hillary, I’m still in the campaign for all of us, and I’m in it for the sisterhood:

A group of girls reach in to hug Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a tour of the Siem Reap Center, a shelter that provides rehabilitation, vocational training, and social reintegration for sex trafficking victims, in Siem Reap.


Hillary: Warmonger

March is women’s history month, and Tina Brown’s Newsweek has put Hillary on the March 14th cover of Newsweek, under the banner of “150 Women Who Shake the World.”

The header on the cover is “Hillary’s War,” but on the website the cover story–written by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon–is called “The Hillary Doctrine.”

“Hillary’s War” is not what you think–it takes the common charge against Hillary as the warmonger to outmonger all the men before and after her and turns that canard on its ugly little head.

Hillary’s war is her campaign for all of us–her fight for women and girls. Because if women are left behind there can be no lasting progress. As the byline on the cover notes, Hillary is “shattering glass ceilings everywhere.”

Two other recent pieces/interviews of Hillary that are a must-read for anyone who follows Hillary, btw:

Hilarious to see Kathleen Parker’s whimpy whine that “Women make lousy men” appear as a footnote on the Newsweek cover next to Hillary’s beautiful, beaming face. It’s so revealing. While conservative hacks like Parker are still busy fighting that old battle of the sexes, Hillary and the rest of us in her fearsome army are trying to bring women and girls to the table for the benefit of us all.

So much of Hillary’s comments on Egypt in the last few months–as Barack Obama’s secretary of state–have come across as a pro-stability argument for the West at the cost of a people’s right to self-governance, especially when viewed through the limited backburner coverage we usually get of Hillary’s work from the mainstream media. But, Lemmon’s piece puts the pieces of the Hillary Clinton puzzle into perspective.

Hillary has always been about putting women and girls front and center. And, any time women are left behind, there really isn’t true self-governance by a large segment of that populace anyway.

In Hillary’s own words:

“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century,” Clinton recently told NEWSWEEK during another rare moment relaxing on a couch in the comfortable sitting room of her offices on the State Department’s seventh floor, her legs propped up in front of her. “We see women and girls across the world who are oppressed and violated and demeaned and degraded and denied so much of what they are entitled to as our fellow human beings.”

Clinton is paying particular attention to whether women’s voices are heard within the local groups calling for and leading change in the Middle East. “You don’t see women in pictures coming from the demonstrations and the opposition in Libya,” she told NEWSWEEK late last week, adding that “the role and safety of women will remain one of our highest priorities.” As for Egypt, she said she was heartened by indications that women would be included in the formation of the new government. “We believe that women were in Tahrir Square, and they should be part of the decision-making process. If [the Egyptians] are truly going to have a democracy, they can’t leave out half the population.”

On Saturday, I linked to two pieces that discuss the issue of women and where they fit in in the New Egypt at length. One thing that really struck me while reading both pieces and in this Newsweek feature on Hillary is that there’s this intersection of top-down and bottom-up efforts going on when Hillary brings women’s voices to the international table. She’s building the structure from the top down, but in doing so, she’s not just putting policies into place, she’s also planting the seeds for women and like-minded men to continue the advocacy work from the bottom-up.

Another thing about Hillary that immediately struck me is that she’s more comfortable in her skin than ever, and it shows in the photo of her on the Newsweek cover. She is doing work of purpose–the unfinished work of the 21st century.

Hillary’s presence in Barack Obama’s Cabinet itself is a symbol that speaks volumes. I often think of this picture from when Obama nominated Hillary. To me that photo says it all: There can be no lasting progress if she is left behind.

It’s not just identity politics. Hillary has taken pains to translate the symbolic into the concrete. Or, what a Young Hillary Rodham called the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible. But more about that later.

In her Newsweek piece on Hillary, Lemmon writes:

Her campaign has begun to resonate in unlikely places. In the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, where women cannot travel without male permission or drive a car, a grandson of the Kingdom’s founding monarch (Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud) last month denounced the way women are “economically and socially marginalized” in Arab countries.

Is Newsweek’s newly hired Andrew Sullivan reading this? LOL. Getting the grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch to denounce the marginalization of women… not bad for an untalented, drab woman like Hillary, which is what Sullivan has always insisted about Hill.

Hillary puts the Mama-in-chief propaganda on both sides of the political spectrum in the US to shame, and Lemmon underscores this by bestowing Hillary with the following:

advocate in chief for women worldwide

I was really glad to see Newsweek note the following, as well, because predictably, it didn’t get the attention it deserved at the time:

As she noted in Qatar in January, two weeks before Egypt’s first “day of rage,” the Middle East’s old foundations were “sinking into the sand.”

Here’s a transcript link to what Hillary had said in Qatar. I’m only going to quote a short bit, so click the link if you’d like to read the larger context of her remarks — it’s very thoughtful and incredibly prophetic given the global events that unfolded right after she spoke:

But in too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere.

This wasn’t just two weeks before Egypt’s first day of rage–Hillary said this THE day before Ben Ali fled Tunisia.

That’s our Hillary–we can add cassandra-in-chief to the list of her titles.

Another key theme of Hillary’s work on behalf of women and girls emerges in Lemmon’s piece:

“This is a big deal for American values and for American foreign policy and our interests, but it is also a big deal for our security,” she told NEWSWEEK. “Because where women are disempowered and dehumanized, you are more likely to see not just antidemocratic forces, but extremism that leads to security challenges for us.”

Hillary has been saying this all along, of course:

Exhibit A: “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well.” –First Lady HRC

Exhibit B: “the role and rights of women in today’s world is a critical core concern of foreign policy — it *is* national security.” –SecState HRC

Theresa Loar–who helped Hillary organize the Beijing delegation in 1995–tells Newsweek that she (Loar) got a call from the National Security Council after Hillary expressed interest in speaking at the conference. The NSC told Loar that her job was to make sure Hillary doesn’t go to China. Loar says her reaction at the time was to think “my job is to make sure it’s a rip-roaring success—and guess who is going to succeed?”

And, succeed Hillary did. Hillary’s 1995 speech was a call for all women to assume our rightful places in society and our political voices. When Kirsten Gillibrand took Hillary’s old Senate seat, I remember her describing Hillary’s speech as the clarion call that helped inspire her to become more politically involved. Similarly, the current Newsweek piece describes how Mu Sochua, a prominent Cambodian opposition leader, decided to enter politics the day she met Hillary in Beijing and heard her give that speech.

Theresa Loar also had this to say:

“I honestly think Hillary Clinton wakes up every day thinking about how to improve the lives of women and girls. And I don’t know another world leader who is doing that.”

There are some wonderful paragraphs in the Newsweek piece that talk about Hillary becoming the first secretary of state in two decades to visit Yemen. A tiny snippet:

It’s also a country where a man may marry a girl of 9, and so Clinton sought out the kind of people who rarely meet American secretaries of state—the students, community activists, and, most obviously, the women.

Anybody who has been following Hillary’s work as secretary of state or really her entire history knows this is no anomaly. Hillary has always been about using her voice to bring out the voices and the causes of the marginalized, and she’s made “townterviews” with students, activists, and women a staple of her diplomatic visits around the globe.

A great quote from Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and longtime partner with Hillary Clinton in her work for women Hillary Clinton:

“Politics is seen in most societies, including our own, I would add, as a largely male sport—unarmed combat—and women are very often ignored or pushed aside in an effort to gain or consolidate power,” she says. Her work aims to change that.

[Edit to correct. It was Hillary who said it, not Melanne. Right before that the Newsweek piece talked about how Melanne is at Hillary’s side.]

Hillary and Melanne and countless others fighting this “war” understand that the health of a society can be gauged by how well society treats its women.

Like I said earlier, this goes beyond identity politics. Hillary is not content to let the story just be about herself as an image and end there. Hillary wants to translate her star power and the movement she has created and make sure it is built into something that will outlast her and make lasting change for women, so that when she and Melanne and the rest of the Hillaryland crew aren’t there, the work will still continue:

For her part, Clinton says that her ambition now is to move the discussion beyond a reliance on her own celebrity. She must, she says, take her work on women’s behalf “out of the interpersonal and turn it into the international.” At the State Department, that goal is reflected in a new and sweeping strategic blueprint known as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which establishes priorities over a four-year horizon. Women and girls are mentioned 133 times across the 220 pages of the final QDDR document.

By institutionalizing a process that recognizes the importance of women’s involvement, Clinton hopes her successors will continue what she has started. Many of those on the front lines of implementing Clinton’s changes say they believe her message will stick. “Once you have built this track record, it is much harder to ignore it,” says Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as a chief architect of the QDDR process.

Others worry that without Hillary, the causes of women and girls will return to the backburner:

“There is a culture at State, and you have to break through that culture,” admits one former ambassador. “The guys who work on country-to-country relationships don’t think these issues are central.” Clinton’s efforts could easily stall or be reversed when she and Verveer leave, he adds, in part because each is so good at what she does. “I think the combination of those two personalities is crucial, and that’s why I can’t be at all sure it will last beyond this administration.”

Here’s how Hillary responds to that kind of concern:

Asked whether she worries her eventual departure from the State Department will endanger the future of her mission, Clinton admits to feeling a great weight of responsibility for all the women and girls she has met and the many millions of others like them. “It is why there are 133 references to women and girls in the QDDR,” she says, turning reflexively to the hard evidence. “It is why I mention the issue in every setting I am in, and why I mention it with every foreign leader I meet.

Whatever concessions Hillary has made to work from within the system, and however much I often disagree with the US foreign policy machine that she is very much apart of, Hillary is using her political capital to try her best to make space for ALL of us to keep talking well beyond her tenure at the State Department and open up the space even more and resolve a lot of those foreign policy impasses that have proven so far impenetrable. Hillary’s “war” and “doctrine” is bigger than Hillary, and always was.

That is what separates Hillary from the empty suits and skirts whose audacity and moxie stops where their images stop.

I still can’t wait for Hillary to get back to her advocacy roots and set up that foundation for women and girls. But, I’m also so very glad to hear that my intuition about Hillary and why she is so tireless in always bringing up women and girls has been correct and that it is all very much part of a strategy on her part to integrate women at every later of national security and foreign policy.

I don’t want to ruin the ending lines of the Newsweek piece for you, because it’s so good, you need to read it for yourself. I’ll leave you with this passage from the piece instead, which I found very moving as well:

Squeezed in elbow to elbow around a long wooden table in the State Department’s Jefferson Room was a virtual cabinet gathering, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. As host of the meeting, which began so promptly that several attendees sheepishly slid in late, Clinton asked each of the officials to share their team’s progress. She moved briskly around the table, then stopped to make a frank appeal. “One thing I would urge, if you do get a chance, is to visit a shelter, a site where trafficking victims have been rescued and are being rehabilitated,” she said to a room that had suddenly gone silent. “I recently was in Cambodia, and it is just so overwhelmingly heartbreaking and inspiring to see these young girls. One girl lost her eyes—to punish her, the owner of the brothel had stabbed her in the eye with a nail,” Clinton continued. “She was the most optimistic, cheerful young woman, just a tremendous spirit. What she wants to do when she grows up is help other victims of trafficking, so there is just an enormous amount of work to be done.”

The shelter Clinton referred to is run by the Cambodian activist Somaly Mam, who herself was forced into a brothel as a little girl. Mam credits Clinton’s visit with making her work rescuing young victims respectable in the eyes of her government. “She protects our lives,” Mam says simply, noting that during her visit Clinton took the time to talk with the girls and that many of the shelter’s children now keep photos of her on their walls. “Our people never paid attention. Hillary has opened their eyes, so now they have no choice; by her work she has saved many lives in Cambodia—our government is changing.”

This is change that will reverberate. I don’t have to “believe” in the idea of it. This is change I can see. Words translated into action.

It’s also worth noting that this “warmonger” on behalf of women’s rights was kept off the domestic stage in the US at a time when the right wing’s armageddon on women’s civil rights was taking foot. Just think if we had her to respond to Stupak and all the odious baby Stupaks it has spawned across the nation.