Rape, Shmape.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

On a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged 17 million dollars in new funding to combat sexual violence. Sadly though that's not the story most of the media is covering.

Instead there has been intense focus on Clinton's snippy response to an apparently rude question from a Congolese student during a forum in Kinshasa:

"We've all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country -- the interferences from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton, and what does Mr. Mutumbo think on this situation?"

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China and the United States - a marriage of convenience

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

As the United States and China wrap up their two-day "Strategic and Economic Dialogue," it's more apparent than ever that the two find themselves in a marriage that neither can easily dissolve and that neither fully wants.

The speeches struck all the rights notes - "the United States and China share mutual interests," President Obama announced. "If we advance those interests through cooperation, our people will benefit, and the world will be better off - because our ability to partner with each other is a prerequisite for progress on many of the most pressing global challenges" Those sentiments were echoed by both Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal. The Chinese delegation spoke of the two nations as traveling in the same ship, a ship which was wracked by the global financial storm of the past year. In general, the rhetoric could not have demonstrated more clearly that both see themselves as locked in a relationship of mutual dependence.

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Secrecy, Even If It's Obama

This is disappointing:

Invoking an argument used by President George W. Bush, the Obama administration has turned down a request from a watchdog group for a list of health industry executives who have visited the White House to discuss the massive healthcare overhaul.
The Secret Service sent a reply stating that documents revealing the frequency of such visits were considered presidential records exempt from public disclosure laws. The agency also said it was advised by the Justice Department that the Secret Service was within its rights to withhold the information because of the "presidential communications privilege."
Having promised transparency, the administration should be willing to disclose who it is consulting in shaping healthcare policy, said an attorney for the citizens' group. In its letter requesting the records, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics asked about visits from Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans; William Weldon, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson; and J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Assn., among others.

There's not much excuse for this. During the campaign, Obama loudly derided closed-door governing. In fact, it's still on his website:

The Problem

  • Lobbyists Write National Policies: For example, Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force of oil and gas lobbyists met secretly to develop national energy policy.


Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan

Bring Americans Back into their Government

  • Make White House Communications Public: Obama will amend executive orders to ensure that communications about regulatory policymaking between persons outside government and all White House staff are disclosed to the public.

  • Conduct Regulatory Agency Business in Public: Obama will require his appointees who lead the executive branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public, so that any citizen can see in person or watch on the Internet these debates.

Back in primary season, Obama attacked Hillary specifically on healthcare reform transparency:

During one of the recent Democratic debates, Obama, criticizing the secrecy of Clinton's 1993 effort to reform healthcare, talked about how he would open up the entire process -- "Not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN ..."

To be sure, Barack Obama isn't Dick Cheney - the current White House isn't crafting policy with industry executives exclusively. But it's painful to see such an obvious gap between an inspiring campaign promise and a cynical governing reality.

The Bush Administration increased the power of the presidency while pushing public accountability farther away from that power. And given the enormity of the challenges Obama inherited, I'm sure there's temptation to retain at least part of that expanded authority...our new president needs all the help he can get.

But the long-term damage isn't worth it - Bush's abuse of power can't become precedent.

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[UPDATED]The New Witch Among Us!!

The update is at the end.

There is only one explanation for the  high level of vitriol and hate assailing Sarah Palin about her kids, her legs, her body, her brain, and her speech. She's a woman. But more than that, she is a Working Class Woman. Mark Sanford gets ridiculed for his behavior, Dan Quayle for his smarts, Richard Nixon for his ethics, Clinton for his zipper, but no man in the history of American politics has taken the  beating on so many fronts that Sarah Palin has.

And no public figure that I can recall has been so maligned, misrepresented and just plain lied about.

Excerpted from the infamous Katie Couric interview on CBS early in the campaign this Youtube video's headline screams:

Sarah Palin Explains Why Women Should Be Forced to Bear Their Rapists Babies
No, that's not true, but you have to watch the whole video to see that:

So why has Palin  been pilloried and figurateively, if not literally  burned at the stake, like the  witches of yesteryear?

Do you think it could be because she is only the second woman in American history to be nominated for Vice President?

Do you think it could be because she has dared to say we have a runaway political-media machine who are in cahoots and selling you a load of moosedung?

Do you think it could be because she refused to abort a special needs child?

Do you think it could be  because she was a beauty queen?

Do you think it could be because she had the nation laughing with her in the debate with Joe Biden and actually on their feet at her speech to the 2008  Republican Convention?

Do you think it is because she talks like my Mom and Dad talked and like millions of other working class people who don't have health insurance, don't get paid vacations, don't own homes and don't know any better than to like their lives?

Do you think it is because her daughter Had to get married?

This list could go on, but you get the drift. And for the record I want to say that there is not a snowball's chance in hell that I would ever vote for Sarah Palin. Our positions on the issues are different. I support wolves and whales and I believe as profoundly as I believe in anything that a woman has the right to chose and control her own body.

But I am a woman and I say ENOUGH!! This misogynistic orgy must be seen for what it is. Just because you do not like her positions, doesn't give you the right to denigrate her as a female person. If you do not understand how putting a woman down for being dumb, a sleazy stewardess, a bimbo, a breeding machine, a religious kook, a slut, white trash, a scheming bitch, a controlling Mom, uneducated, unethical and  quaint, to recall only a few of the  words written or uttered about her--then you don't get woman hatred.  

You don't like her, fine. You don't agree with her on the issues. Fine!  But we not only hate Palin and all her parts, we lie about her positions. And then we refuse to correct the lies. For the record Sarah Palin has never insisted on abstinence-only sex education,  did not slash funds for special-needs children  and she never  demanded creationism be taught in public schools.

The fact is the media has lied with impunity about her. And today's so-called feminists are a joke.  There are no feminists writing in the media today. There are women who call themselves feminists in order to ridicule other women like Sarah and Hillary and encourage you to  vote for those they trust: "qualified" men.

I feel angry about this latest orgy of misogyny in the media. It is demeaning to women. What if Palin did actually resign as she told us  in part  to stop the state being hijacked by eithics complaints against her. More than a dozen at last count have been lodged, all brought by political adversaries, and most of them patently frivolous.

No matter how frivolous, it has cost Palin more than half a million to defend herself. Alaska has a new political strategy--you ethically complain your opponent to death. And no one in the media seems to get the price in human life that these complaints are costing. Neither has anyone bothered to say that it does seem as if the complaint process in Alaska--where anyone can file an ethical complaint--- has run amuck, has become a travesty and a means of waging a political vendetta.

And very  few pundits remind us  that every one of these complaints appeared only after she rose to political prominence.

Who knows what Palin's plans are? She did not resign in a manner that suggests she is actually contemplating more politics and more of the same. Palin wants her life back. That's the way working class people are.  Hard as it may be for middle class people to understand.

Update [2009-7-7 20:1:39 by linfar]: IMO Palin Is running for President in 2012. And like Richard Nixon before her when he told the press you won't have Tricky Dick to kick around anymore, she is following his playbook. I don't feel tooooooo had--but I ain't going home with the woman who brung me to this post. All that said--woman and class stuff still holds. :)

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Remember the Democratic primary fight over an individual healthcare mandate for adults? Hillary Clinton's plan had one. Barack Obama's plan did not. Paul Krugman got involved. Non-awesomeness ensued.

At the time, Obama claimed he didn't want to"force" Americans to buy health insurance (serving as one of the few sharp policy distinctions Obama could use to separate himself from Clinton).

But that was the campaign.  

Obama's now open to such a requirement, as vaguely referenced in Wednesday's letter to Baucus and Kennedy:

I share the goal of ending lapses and gaps in coverage that make us less healthy and drive up everyone's costs, and I am open to your ideas on shared responsibility. But I believe if we are going to make people responsible for owning health insurance, we must make health care affordable. If we do end up with a system where people are responsible for their own insurance, we need to provide a hardship waiver to exempt Americans who cannot afford it.

Good deal.

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