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Archive for December, 2009

I do not really feel like arguing on this last Sunday of the year, but given the mission of the Department of Homegirl Security,  I feel I must respond to the editorial in today’s Washington Post, Redefining human rights,  addressing  Secretary Clinton’s seminal address on the issue of human rights and the Obama Administration’s agenda for the 21st century,  delivered at Georgetown University on December 14.  (All emphasis below is mine.)

…she did not limit herself to past principles. She offered an innovation: The Obama administration, she said, would “see human rights in a broad context,” in which “oppression of want — want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact” — would be addressed alongside the oppression of tyranny and torture. “That is why,” Ms. Clinton said, “the cornerstones of our 21st-century human rights agenda” would be “supporting democracy” and “fostering development.”

Without meaning to insert a chicken/egg question here, I wonder to what degree democracy can emerge and thrive without development. I appreciated her use of the word “supporting” above since it indicates a clear division from eight years of Bush-Cheney democracy building a secondary or tertiary excuse upon which we were in Iraq. I believe Secretary Clinton was saying that we will not impose by force our system upon others, but we will encourage democratic principles where we see them practiced. If the argument we have heard so often post 9/11, that others hate us for our wealth, has any credibility, an effort to aid in development should be a welcome about-face from our cold, hard imposition of our principles by force.

Ms. Clinton said that in adding “human development” to human rights and democracy, “we have to tackle all three simultaneously.” But there are two dangers in her approach. One is that non-democratic regimes will seize on the economic aspect of her policy as an substitute for political reform — as dictators have been doing for decades. Another is that the Obama administration will itself, in working with friendly but unfree countries, choose the easy route of focusing on development, while downplaying democracy.

Change carries risk. This country voted for change, I understand.  I doubt that we will see this administration downplaying democracy. That is a pretty strong word. We probably will see focus on development. No matter what you think of our Afghanistan policy,  that the Afghan troops need all kinds of development is undeniable. It is bad enough that women and girls in that country are prevented from attaining an education in Taliban-controlled regions, but even military recruits are woefully undereducated. Many are illiterate, and those in command have cited that as a primary reason why these troops fail at carrying out their missions. I fail to see how supporting education, or getting one while nourished and healthy,  short-changes anybody in the developing world.  (And before anybody says it, of course this implies that our own youngsters have access to the same advantages).

Judging from Ms. Clinton’s own rhetoric, that is the approach the State Department is headed toward in the Arab Middle East. In a major speech last month in Morocco, she said that U.S. engagement with Islamic countries would henceforth focus on education, science and technology, and “entrepreneurship” — all foundations of “development.” She made no mention of democracy. If the Obama administration believes that liberty is urgently needed in the homelands of al-Qaeda, Ms. Clinton still has offered no sign of it.

If these are not the 21st century tools that can greatly assist in establishing democratic ideals, I would like to know what are. I personally think the Secretary of State made a measured, balanced, wise speech that day.

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I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas. Thank you, dear readers, for being so supportive. I know our Hillary has many, many loyal supporters and admirers. Happy Holidays to one and all! Merry Christmas to Hillary
Myspace Glitter Graphics

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How on earth do these two stories arise on the same day?  I have done  battle with myself all day to refrain from commenting on these stories, but can restrain myself no longer.  There is this.  Smart money is on Hillary Clinton for 2016.   When you read it you understand that the writer is a Beltway regular even though the publication is out of the UK.   In addition,  you  will note that 2016 is a mere come on since he really means 2012.  This is a familiar song from the UK in that it is the second time in a week that we have seen this proposal raised  from those quarters –  wishful thinking, I am guessing.

In the face of the UK story,  we encounter a great deal of hype for The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, due out in February, and supposedly,   according to Joel ,  a gigantic  obstacle to Hillary Clinton.   In her current post  she shines brighter than any SOS in MY memory.   She  will  excel in any  official position and give it her full attention.  We are not talking about an easily distracted person.

I really do not have a great deal to say about all of this except that Hillary has much bigger fish to fry than to occupy stuff that happened more than ten years ago or might happen two or six years from now.  She is a major player on the world stage, and she knows very well how to brush this nonsense (almost 800 pages though it may be) off her very pretty shoulder.

There’s a coup brewing in Pakistan – where they have nukes! And she’s expected to worry about whom? Monica Lewinsky? Please!!! Give me a great big break!

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Once again, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken out against unfair, in this case abusive and even fatal,   proposed legislation against the LGBT community, and this time, in her capacity as our top diplomat, her position has international implications.  Back in June,  Secretary Clinton announced that,  having been asked at the beginning of her service at State to consider offering benefits to domestic partners of State Department employees,  she had set forth the assessment she had promised in February and had found that this was indeed doable and would be implemented.   At this announcement,  members of the LGBT community rejoiced.

Well there is nothing to rejoice about, during this Christmas Season, regarding the proposed anti-gay legislation (backed by certain neo-con elements in the U.S.) in Uganda which,  today we have learned, has arrived one step closer to ratification.  In a washingtonpost.com article today,   Ugandan government backs anti-gay legislation,  we learn that the government is backing this law to Secretary Clinton’s consternation.

By Barney Jopson Saturday, December 19, 2009
KAMPALA — The Ugandan government is backing an anti-homosexuality bill that would introduce some of the world’s toughest punishments for gays, with a minimum life sentence for anyone convicted of having gay sex and a mandatory death penalty if the person is HIV-positive.

Further,

The bill would also introduce a three-year prison sentence for anyone who was aware of homosexual activity and failed to report it to the authorities within 24 hours. Its proponents said the proposed law reflected the will of Uganda’s people. In this conservative, predominantly Christian country, many people consider homosexuality an immoral habit that can be “cured.”

(Seriously!  Can you imagine this?  It is outrageous!)

In the face of this impending legislation, WaPo offers Secretary Clinton’s reaction.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called it “a very serious potential violation of human rights.” Britain and Canada have expressed strong concerns, and Sweden has threatened to cut off aid to Uganda.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE…

The legislation itself brings to mind  mass imprisonments and exterminations of the past.  I am certain readers here can find parallels in history.

On mainstream media, as far as I know, only Rachel Maddow has been doggedly following this story.  Others do not even seem to have it on a back burner.  But the LGBT community has a vital duty to be aware of who is for and who is against it.  Hillary Clinton again comes through as a fighter for the human rights of the LGBT populace.   Just sayin’.  (Now you KNEW I wasn’t going to end this without a picture of the Homegirl Superior.)

**UPDATE** I just ran across another article in Metro Weekly that expands on this issue.  The excerpts from her speech are too impressive to ignore, so I am adding it to this post.  Hillary Clinton: Persecution of gays in countries like Iran, Uganda are at top of Human Rights list

I urge you to go to the link above.  It is not long, but it is a very powerful argument for why the LGBT community should pay close attention to Hillary Clinton.  She is a powerful advocate.

And then the example that I used about a piece of legislation in Uganda which would not only criminalize homosexuality but attach the death penalty to it. We have expressed our concerns directly, indirectly, and we will continue to do so. The bill has not gone through the Ugandan legislature but has a lot of public support by various groups including religious leaders in Uganda. And we view it as a very serious potential violation of human rights.

So, it is clear that across the world this is a new frontier in the minds of many people about how we protect the LGBT community. But it is at the top of our list because we see many instances where we see there’s a very serious assault on the physical safety, and an increasing effort to marginalize people. And we think it’s important for the United States to stand against that and enlist others to join us in doing so.”

If you would like to see the complete video or read the transcript of the entire Human Rights speech she gave at Georgetown University last Monday, I have posted them at my other blog. You can find them here: Still4Hill.

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This blog is dedicated to defending Hillary Clinton, women, children, and all those who cannot defend themselves,  so I do not think it is inappropriate for me to post here on this very disturbing report that came through on my Care2 feed this morning.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Cruelty to Baby Circus Elephants Exposed

This week a story in the Washington Post brought to light cruel and unusual training methods used on baby elephants at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which is run under Feld Entertainment.

Former elephant handler Sam Haddock came forward to deliver shocking photographs and a notarized report of his 18 years of experience training baby elephants at Ringling’s breeding center in Florida to PETA before passing away last month.

“This is the first time that the violent training methods used on baby elephants have been exposed in the United States, and with the biggest circus in the country,” said Debbie Leahy, director of captive animals rescue and enforcement for PETA.

Read the full article here

I have been to the circus (and it did happen to be Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey) once in my life.  I think I was seven.  It was a nightmare!  I HATED it!  It was dark, way too busy, and much too cruel.  Elephant calves are helpless to defend themselves from these practices.  They are babies without defensive strategies, and they cannot speak up for themselves.  I think Homegirls (and Homeboys) here will agree that it is high time to stand up and speak out against cruelty to elephants and all circus animals.   We can begin by boycotting the circus.

Here’s another thing we can do.

Write to:

Write to:
Dr. Robert Gibbens, DVM
Western Regional Director
USDA, APHIS, Animal Care
Email: Robert.M.Gibbens@aphis.usda.gov
Fax 970-494-7461

A sample letter is located here.

I believe Hillary, our Homegirl,  would be in agreement with us that these practices are cruel and must be stopped.

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Hillary Clinton is nothing if not savvy.   My disappointment in some of her moves (or stock-still stances),  such as the one outlined in my last post on Honduras,  is always tempered by an underlying faith that the true Hillary is lurking just below the surface, and that her primary goal throughout these first 11 months as Secretary of State has been to shine as a team player.   From the day of her confirmation hearing, when she first set this analogy forward, through the past several weeks of rounding up support for the Obama administration’s Afghanistan plan,  she has personified her own metaphor of being out on the field rather than running to-and-fro on the sidelines wringing her hands.   She dives into crowds in much the same way we have seen at other times from other popular figures, JFK,  RFK, JPII.   She wades in and speaks the administration line with such charm, grit, wit,  and style that even when confronted by anger and opposition she comes off smelling like a rose.   (See this post from yesterday:  Video: Hillary Clinton With Six Pakistani Interviewers At One Time – Holds Her Own! AWESOME!)

So many Vampire-Tales-that-would-not-die have circulated over these 11 months (all of them addressed here many times over) that when this rumor raises its head another time after perhaps a four or five week hiatus, and with a reasoned argument,  I, for one, am on board for this prediction which would explain some of her apparent priorities.

In a UK Guardian article that popped up on the news feed tonight, the rumor that surfaced  – when?  In October?  Returned like a boomerang: Win or lose, Hillary Clinton just goes from strength to strength.

The rumor, of course, is the one that after two years as VP, Biden steps down and Hillary is nominated by Obama, giving her two years in that post, the second,  predictably, spent also as Obama’s running mate in 2012.  Now, yes, I know, as a Hillary supporter from way back, all the reasons why Hillary loyalists cringe at this idea since she obviously is eminently qualified to run for the top post,  and,  in this subordinate position, is simply Obama’s insurance.  I know, also, the argument that people vote for a president and not a vice president, which we heard aplenty regarding the McCain ticket last year.  But I do think the second on the ticket plays a role in vote-getting, and this could turn out to be a win-win.   I have a hope, in a deep cell of my heart, that this could happen.  The only misgiving I have with this article is the alternative scenario where she becomes a Supreme Court justice instead.  To that I say, “Nope!”  No black robes over those many colorful pantsuits,  and no sequestering Hillary where we neither see nor hear her.  God made Hillary to be seen and heard.  I have always said, here and elsewhere, cream always rises.  I grew up near a dairy farm and remember the days of guernsey milk.  It rises, and for my generation, Hillary Clinton is among what our elders referred to as “the cream of the crop.”   Hillary cannot help but rise.  Let’s see how high she goes.

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UPDATE: And now this!  Honduran coup leaders want Zelaya to make pledge which has a familiar ring to it.  Last month, the Haitian election council decertified the Fanmi Lavalas Party of  exiled former President Aristide, banning the party from the 2010 elections. Now the coup government wants Zelaya to sign a pledge not to campaign from outside the country before they will let him leave.  So he is not signing, and not leaving the Brazilian Embassy…for now, anyway.

Banning political parties and candidates, this is “democracy” we support?  Great work Tom Shannon and Hugo Llorens!  (Holdovers from the Bush Administration, BTW.)

Well this popped up from Reuters on my feed and is less than heartening: Zelaya to leave Honduras for Mexico – sources.

As my readers know,  I spent ten years in Haiti.  I left well before Aristede mounted his campaign and would not call myself a supporter because,  unlike the newly resurrected Lori Berenson (as a parallel – a false one, I might add, to Amanda Knox),   I knew enough NEVER to get involved in local politics as a guest in that country.   But I did have friends in the Aristede administration.  Among them, Lilas Desquiron, his Minister of Information, and Calixte Delatour whose post I forget.

In February 2004,  when Aristede’s government was under siege,  I expressed to a colleague my concerns about my friends, and a secretary, overhearing, said to another colleague, “Didn’t we put him in?  When are we gonna stop doing that?”

I wanted to cry, and I did not even speak up, and now I am sorry.  I was worried about my friends.  But the answer is and was,  NO!   We did not “put him in!”  He was democratically elected.  People died trying to cast their votes.  (Cherish your democracy,  Americans.)   We did not “put him in.”  He was elected in the first democratic election in Haiti – ever!   All we (the Clinton Administration) did was to escort him where he could assume his elected office.

Well, Aristede was ousted in 2004, and, at the time, I emailed then SOS,  Powell,  about it.    We should help a democratically elected president.  Colin Powell expressed “no interest” in pursuing any further  assistance to the Aristede government.  I was PISSED!

Powell did not  lift a finger to help President Aristede, to whom I owe no loyalty,  and  did/do not much like.  But, you see, the Haitian people had elected him – some died trying.

Now, I have watched the same scenario play out again (differently, but with the same result) in Honduras.  President Zelaya, who was democratically elected, is going into one of the major centers for Latin exile,  Mexico.  He’s leaving without a fight.  Defeated.  As did Aristede.

I love Hillary – really -I love her!   But, like Colin Powell, whom she honored this week,  she did not step in consistently (she did at first, and changed her  trajectory after DeMint’s visit)  when a democratically elected president  was illegally ousted.   Now that guy with whom she posed – the elected one, will be leaving for Mexico – in exile.

I  am disappointed.  We have accepted the coup – as we did in Haiti under G.W. Bush.  Supporting these elected guys IS the way to building. nurturing,  and insuring democracy.  Twice now, we have dropped the ball,  divested ourselves of interest in that bullet on the Latin American/Hemispheric agenda.   This sends a message,  and it is not a good one.

Please, Homegirl  Hillary, please do not be another Colin,  regardless of your very busy week or whom you might have honored.

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Sometimes the best defense is to accentuate the positive (h/t Johnny Mercer). So Here is a little feel-good,  positive news.  The Head Homegirl has been named the 4th of 25  “Smartest People of the Decade” by The Daily Beast.  Visit the link to see the list and the reasons.  And I say, “Brava!”  “¡Viva Hillary!” “You GO girl!

N.B. Smart girls choose really cute pantsuits and necklaces.  This one also has a great hairstyle today!

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My news feeds were rolling like a one-armed bandit today with one after another story alleging that Secretary Clinton had been dragged into the Amanda Knox case.  Having watched the Secretary on three Sunday morning shows, posting the transcripts, and knowing that when George Stephanopoulos threw this one out of left field, Hillary, the short stop,  did a DJ: caught it, turned mid-air and let it go straight into Jorge’s glove before the runner got home, I already knew the Secretary’s response to the suggestion that she intervene.

Here is the exchange with Stephanopoulos on This Week:

QUESTION: We’re just about out of time. Secretary Clinton, I want to ask you about the case of Amanda Knox, the American college student who was convicted of murder in Italy just on Friday. Senator Cantwell of Washington has expressed a lot of concerns about this conviction. She said she wants to talk to you about it.

Here is what she said: “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial. The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty. Italian jurors were not sequestered and were allowed to view highly negative news coverage about Ms. Knox.”

She goes on to lay out several of the concerns she had with the trial. She did say, as I said, she’s going to be in contact with you so you can express the concerns to the Italian Government. Do you share her concerns about this trial?

SECRETARY CLINTON: George, I honestly haven’t had time to even examine that. I have been immersed in what we’re doing in Afghanistan. Of course, I’ll meet with Senator Cantwell or anyone who has a concern, but I can’t offer any opinion about that at this time.

QUESTION: So you have not expressed any concerns to the Italian Government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have not, no.

Nonetheless,  when I looked at my news feeds, this little beauty hit me in the eye: Hillary Clinton drawn into row over conviction of Amanda Knox – well not exactly.  If you read past the first five paragraphs, you arrive at this:

Asked on US television about the trial Mrs Clinton said she had not had time to study the matter and could not offer an opinion, but would meet with Senator Cantwell “or anyone who has a concern”.

Headlines in today’s Italian newspapers included “Hillary steps in to the Amanda case” and “Clinton intervenes in Perugia trial”

So, no, there is no real there there. According to this article from Reuters, U.S. to follow appeal in Knoxmurder case: Clinton, these were the Secretary’s words:

“I understand that there will be appeals taken, and we will follow that. And of course, I stand ready to meet with anyone who wishes to discuss this case further,” Clinton said.

Well, that’s a different kettle of fish. Especially since Barbie Latza Nadeau, of The Daily Beast, who has reported extensively on this case and attested tonight on CNN that she has been in the courtroom every single day, further assured that American embassy personnel had also been present with equal regularity monitoring the proceedings.

What does this mean? It means that the State Department was doing its job all along by following the trial. It also means that Secretary’s Clinton’s role in this remains what it has been all along. Her embassy personnel will follow the appeal process.  The Secretary herself has other fish to fry.

N.B. We are not dealing with a lawless state here.  This is Italy.  They do have their laws and processes.  Barbie Latza Nadeau,  given her extended stay there, has some opinions about them.  I understand those opinions do not include disrespect or writing them off as inadequate.  You can read her latest article on the Knox case here:   The New Face of Evil.

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Many readers here will recognize the Phoenix logo to the left from 2008 when it became a symbol within the PUMA movement  in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention.  The slogan was “Rise, Hillary, Rise” and referred to the hopes of the PUMAs that a fair and transparent roll call on the convention floor would permit Hillary to prevail as the nominee.   Things did not play out that way.  When Barack Obama became the nominee, and Hillary campaigned for the Democratic ticket (as she had always said she would), many of her supporters fell away, became embittered, some attacked Hillary, and this blog was born in her defense.

Now, in the run-up to President Obama’s (yes, folks, he is the President) speech on Afghanistan policy tomorrow night from West Point, this very interesting article pops up on a news feed, and I find it so very noteworthy for several reasons.  In  Can Hillary Clinton win the war in Afghanistan?, published by The Newark Examiner online, my new best friend  (and Homeboy) Kyle Sennett refutes several of the toxic memes that we Homegirls have been battling over the months of Hillary Clinton’s service as Secretary of State.

Perhaps the most persistent and  infuriating was the marginalization meme.  It also served as the umbrella for other spin-off memes.  You remember that one.  The story was that Hillary was being marginalized by the White House.  The spin-offs were that she was powerless,  was overshadowed by her special envoys (the ones she suggested to help her oversee critical regions),  that she was unhappy (because she was powerless),  that she was quitting State and running for Governor of New York, her old Senate seat, etc.  You can find them all in the archives here.

So now, at the zenith of speculation about what President Obama will lay out as an Afghanistan policy tomorrow night (or tonight, depending on when you read this) among the many predictions, some perhaps based on leaks, but nary a single word from Hillary who refused flat out to speak on the issue, Sennett posts his own reasoned argument regarding the issue and Secretary Clinton’s role in it.   In doing so, he carefully dismantles the toxic memes, argues as to how she has been a major player all along on the AF-Pak issues and policies,  and proposes that this is her vehicle.  That Obama is handing Af-Pak to her to manuveur.

I will not presume to answer the question in his title.  If she can,  this would be a first in the history of the region which time and again has resisted foreign intervention.  But there is no question that as Sennett states:

Secretary Clinton is at the forefront of the effort, and all signs point to the idea that she, and the Obama administration, are approaching it with an open mind.

Sennett provides an excellent review of events leading up to the formation of this policy and of Secretary Clinton’s involvement. You can, and should,   read his whole article here.

You didn’t think for a minute that I would post this without a picture of the Head Homegirl, now, did you?

 

Oh!  And in case Kyle and I have not made it perfectly clear:  Hillary was never down.  She has always been, and continues to be, rising, and rising, and rising.

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