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Secretary of State Clinton reaches out to women in Seoul, Korea

Cross posted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri

Main information crossposted from 51 Percent.

I think that it’s imperative that nations like ours stand up for the rights of women. It is not ancillary to our progress; it is central.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton speakng in Seoul, 2/20/2009

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing as many of us expected, using her position to reach out to and therefore empower women around the world. One way women here at home can begin to overcome their differences to work together toward women’s emancipation is to understand what we share in common with women around the world, so that we can all work toward women’s emancipation. Below is the text of Secretary Clinton’s primary remarks, my emphases added.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Town Hall Meeting at Ewha Women’s University
Seoul, South Korea
February 20, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. (cheers and applause) Thank you so much, President Lee. I am honored to be here at this great university. I wish to thank also Chairperson (inaudible) and the more than 107,000 alumni at this great school. Standing up with me was our Ambassador Kathy Stephens, who has told me that more than 50 graduates of Ewha Womans University work at U.S. Embassy Seoul. We are extremely proud of the education they have received here.

It is a great privilege to stand here before you on the stage of the largest women’s university in the world. And I came to – (applause) – this university as a matter of destiny, because you see, Ewha and I share a connection. (Cheers and applause.) I am a Methodist, my family on my father’s side comes from Scranton, Pennsylvania – (applause) – and I must say that Wellesley College is a sister college for Ewha University. (Applause.) So being an honorary fellow seems right at home today.

I also note that in this audience are some Korean-American friends from New York and California. There are several Wellesley graduates whom I met backstage as well – (applause) – and an extraordinary number of talented young women, faculty members, and administrators.

Learning about this great university and the role that you have played in advancing the status of women made me think about so many of the women throughout history who are inspirations to me: Madame Scranton, someone who started teaching one young woman, and from her dedication and hard work came this university; Eleanor Roosevelt, a pioneering First Lady of the United States and a voice for democracy around the world, and one of the driving forces behind the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. Now, that was more than 50 years ago, but just a few weeks ago, one of Korea’s most accomplished leaders, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, called on all nations worldwide to push for more progress on women’s equality. And I want to thank the Secretary General – (applause) – because he said that women’s empowerment is the key to progress in developing nations.

People who think hard about our future come to the same conclusion, that women and others on society’s margins must be afforded the right to fully participate in society, not only because it is morally right, but because it is necessary to strengthen our security and prosperity.

Before I came out on stage, I met a number of young women who are in political office here in the Republic of  Korea, and I hope I was looking at a future president of this great nation. (Applause.)

As you think about your own futures, keeping in mind security and prosperity and the role that each of us must play, is essential because of the urgent global challenges we face in the 21st century. We need all of our people’s talents to be on the very forefront of setting a course of peace, progress, and prosperity; be it defending our nations from the threat of nuclear proliferation and terror, or resolving the global climate crisis or the current economic crisis, and promoting civil society, especially women’s rights and education, healthcare, clean energy, good governance, the rule of law, and free and fair elections. All of these matters speak to our common desire to make a nation that is safe and strong and secure.

More than half a century ago, this university became the first to prepare women for professions that were formerly reserved for men, including medicine, law, science, and journalism. At about the same time, your government wrote women’s equality into your constitution and guaranteed protections for women in employment. And there have been other rights and protections for women encoded in Korean law in subsequent decades.

These advances coincided with Korea’s transformation from an undeveloped nation to a dynamic democracy, a global economic power, and a hub of technology and innovation. The inclusion of women in the political and economic equation, calling on those talents and contributions from the entire population, not just the male half, was essential to the progress that this country has made.

As I have been on this first trip as Secretary of State, I have visited Japan and Indonesia, and tomorrow I will be in China. I was very impressed by my visit to Indonesia, a young democracy that is demonstrating to the world that democracy, Islam, modernity, and women’s rights can coexist. I met elected women officials. I met high appointed members in the foreign ministry and other cabinet positions in the government. It would be hard to imagine the progress that Indonesia has made in the last ten years, moving from a stagnant autocracy to a burgeoning democracy, without women being part of the reason.

And on Sunday, I’ll meet with women in China to hear about their efforts to improve opportunities for themselves in their own country, another reason why women have to lead the way if there’s going to be higher standards of living, a healthier population, and an actively engaged citizenry.

But no country has yet achieved full equality for women. We still have work to do, don’t we? And just a few weeks ago, President Obama signed into law a new provision protecting women from salary discrimination, a step that was overdue. So there is a lot ahead of us to ensure that gender equality, as President Lee mentioned, becomes a reality. And we also need to remain vigilant against a backlash that tries to turn the clock back on women and human rights, countries where leaders are threatened by the idea of freedom and democracy and women are made the scapegoats. The abuses of women under the Taliban are horrific reminders that just as women had been central to progress in countries like ours, the reverse can happen as well.

Some of you may have seen the news reports some weeks ago of young girls in Afghanistan who were so eager to go to school, and every day they went off with a real light in their eyes because they were finally able to learn.
And one day, a group of these young girls were assaulted by a group of Taliban men who threw acid on them because they had the desire to learn. We have to remain vigilant on behalf of women’s rights.

We see this kind of suppression in different forms in different places. In Burma, the valor of Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous struggle for freedom of expression and conscience. To the North, 70 percent of those leaving North Korea in search of a better life are women, a sad commentary on the conditions in their own country.

So part of my message during this trip and part of my mission as Secretary of State is that the United States is committed to advancing the rights of women to lead more equitable, prosperous lives in safe societies. I view this not only as a moral issue, but as a security issue. I think that it’s imperative that nations like ours stand up for the rights of women. It is not ancillary to our progress; it is central.

In 1995, when I went to the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing and said that women’s rights were human rights, and human rights were women’s rights, people were so excited. But that to me was almost a sad commentary that we had to say something so obvious toward the end of the [twentieth] century.

So here we are in the [twenty-first] century, and every day we make progress, but we can’t be complacent. We have to highlight the importance of inclusion for women. We have to make clear that no democracy can exist without women’s full participation; no economy can be truly a free market without women involved.

I want to use robust diplomacy and development to strengthen our partnerships with other governments and create collaborative networks of people and nongovernmental organizations to find innovative solutions to global problems – what we call smart power.

Today, I’ve come to this great women’s university to hear your thoughts about the future. The other night in Tokyo, I had the privilege to listen to students at Tokyo University, and I came away not only impressed by their intelligence and the quality of their questions, but encouraged by their concern about the future that lay ahead and what each of them wanted to do to make it better.

Today, I’ve held bilateral meetings with your president, your prime minister, and your foreign minister. We have discussed issues like the need to continue the Six-Party Talks to bring about the complete and verifiable denuclearization in North Korea, and how we can better coordinate not only between ourselves, but regionally and globally, on the range of issues that confront us. But in each meeting, we took time to reflect about how far this country has come.

Back in the early 1960s, there were a series of studies done where different groups were looking at nations around the world, trying to calculate which ones would be successful at the end of the 20th century. And many commentators and analysts thought that the chances for the Republic of Korea were limited. But that wasn’t the opinion of the people of Korea. And so for 50 years, you have built a nation that is now assuming a place of leadership in the world, respected for the vibrant democracy, for the advances across the board in every walk of life. And it is a tribute to your understanding of what it takes to make progress at a time of peril and uncertainty.

The relationship between the United States and Korea is deep and enduring, and it is indispensible to our shared security. Without security, children can’t even imagine their futures and may not have the potential to actually live up to their talents. Our two countries have joined together as a force for peace, prosperity, and progress. Korean and American soldiers have served shoulder-to-shoulder in so many places around the world.
We know that the most acute challenge to stability and security in Northeast Asia is the regime in North Korea, and particularly its nuclear program. It bears repeating that President Obama and I are committed to working through the Six-Party Talks. We believe we have an opportunity to move those forward and that it is incumbent upon North Korea to avoid provocative actions and unhelpful rhetoric toward the people and the leaders of the Republic of Korea. Remember that the North Korean Government committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and returning at an early date to the Treaty of Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

And I make the offer again right here in Seoul: If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama Administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s longstanding armistice agreement with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic and humanitarian needs of the Korean people.

Also essential to our shared security and prosperity is a resolution to the global economic crisis. Korea and the United States have both benefited from a strong economic relationship, and your leaders and I today discussed ways we can develop that relationship further. We are going to work on a vision of a much more comprehensive strategic relationship. We want more partnerships to bring not just government leaders together, but business and professional and academic and political and people-to-people. We want to work with Korea so that both of us will be leaders in getting at the root causes of global climate change and vigorously pursuing a clean energy agenda. And I applaud your country for being a global leader in this area, and for calling on the ingenuity and skills of the Korean people to promote green technologies that will create jobs and protect our planet and enhance our security.

Students here at Ewha have a long and proud tradition of engagement with the world. And you have the talent and the training to help shape that world. It may not be always obvious what you can do to make a difference, so do what you love. Do what gives you meaning. Do what makes life purposeful for you. And make a contribution.

I don’t know that Mary Scranton, who founded this university teaching one student in her home, could have ever dreamed of where we would be today. But that’s often the way life is. I never could have dreamed that I could be here as the Secretary of State of the United States either. (Applause.) You have to be willing to prepare yourselves and as you are doing to take advantage of the opportunities that arise, to find cooperative ways to work with others to promote the common good, and then follow your dreams. You may not end up exactly where you started out heading toward, but with your education and with the opportunities now available in your country, there is so much that you can do. And I know that you will be well-equipped to make your contribution that will contribute to the peace and prosperity and progress and security, not only of Korea, but of the region and the world that needs and is waiting for your talents.
Thank you all and God bless you. (Applause.)
And now we’re going to have some questions, I think, right? (Laughter.)

[Secretary Clinton’s meeting continued]

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Wow!

eggdone2

This is what happens when you pour Kool-aid on your Cheetos and snort the orange glop through a straw:

The furthest possible thing from corrupt incompetence is not principled incompetence – it’s intelligent leadership whose decisions result in the desired outcome, guided by principle without being blinded by subservience to ideological symbolism.  

That Barack Obama shares our objectives is not in question among any serious people.  The issue is whether we acknowledge that he has a better grasp of how to obtain them than we do, and I’d say the jury was in on that a long time ago.  We have a general, a scientist, and a philosopher of the highest caliber in our president, and I have no doubt that he has to dodge, weave, and feint with entrenched powers in order to make progress.  

I am constantly taken aback by the mind-numbing naivete (I have to struggle with myself not to say “ignorance”) with which some people regard government, as if the solution to the legacy of George W. Bush would be an equally incompetent liberal who ignored the complexities of government and aborted all hope for lasting reform just to create the most pleasant possible aesthetic for activists on the left.

The Obama administration and the reality-based community behind it is a new and different phenomenon from the past few decades.  We are not here to indulge in four years of fantasy role-playing just to hand our country back to its destroyers and return to the role of embittered, impotent minority, wallowing in rhetorical opposition while reality descends into entropy.  The deep changes this administration implements will not be abortive, feel-good measures that exist only skin-deep and can be ripped out by the roots by the next Republican to take the office.  They will be foundational, and change the shape of America’s future.  Needless to say, this takes quite a bit of planning, and no small amount of subterfuge.

I wonder if Troubadour ever reads Glenzilla? “Serious people” is an epithet meaning “villagers”

BTW – I apologize to anyone who lost their lunch.  I should have passed out puke buckets first.

Saturday Morning Dithers

New and improved! We have turned on a new feature that allows for threaded comments 5 levels deep.  So, if you’ve been waiting to tell someone off, personally, here’s your chance!

If you’re looking for a topic, try the newest podcast from Planet Money on mortgage renegotiations.  Bottom line:  the Obama proposal is designed to help homeowners with their interest.  It won’t address principal on a house that was overvalued when it was bought in the first place.   (Another Obama proposal that misses the point until it’s too late) The mortgage industry has fought hard against principal renegotiation clauses in the past for good reason.  But in this current economic climate, that may cause strapped homeowners to walk away from their homes with underwater equity.  It’s a short podcast and there’s some “twitter” stuff too.  Is anyone interested in twittering The Confluence?  Let us know in the threads!

In other news:

“First you say you will, and then you won’t.  And then you say you do, and then you don’t.  You’re undecided now, so what are you going to do?”

The AP reports this morning that Obama did not say he was going to nationalize the banks.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday insisted it’s not trying to take over two ailing financial institutions, even as stocks tumbled again. On Wall Street, talk of nationalization of Citigroup Inc., and Bank of America Corp., prompted investors to continue to balk, worried that the government would have to take control and wipe out shareholders in the process.Citigroup fell 20 percent, while Bank of America fell 12 percent in afternoon trading but also came off their lowest levels.

“This administration continues to strongly believe that a privately held banking system is the correct way to go, ensuring that they are regulated sufficiently by this government,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said when asked about nationalizing the banks.

“That’s been our belief for quite some time, and we continue to have that,” Gibbs said

When a reporter suggested Gibbs could do that by saying point bank that Obama would never nationalize banks, Gibbs would not make that statement, but emphasized: “I think I was very clear about the system that this country has and will continue to have.”

Uh-huh.

This reminds me of the comments that Bush and Cheney made about Americans and their propensity to buy large, oil guzzling vehicles and how this was a uniquely American cultural thing and that no long-haired, hippy type, pinko fag, treehugger (and by this, I think they meant *us*, Oh Best Beloveds), was going to change us.  And how did that work out?

Paul Krugman writes about the fear of nationalization in his blog, The Conscience of a Liberal:

We are not talking about fears that leftist radicals will expropriate perfectly good private companies. At least since last fall the major banks — certainly Citi and B of A — have only been able to stay in business because their counterparties believe that there’s an implicit federal guarantee on their obligations. The banks are already, in a fundamental sense, wards of the state.

And the market caps of these banks did not reflect investors’ assessment of the difference in value between their assets and their liabilities. Instead, it largely — and probably totally — reflected the “Geithner put”, the hope that the feds would bail them out in a way that handed a significant windfall gain to stockholders.

What’s happening now is a growing sense that the federal government, in return for rescuing these institutions, will demand the same thing a private-sector white knight would have demanded — namely, ownership.

Yes, it seems like the thing that bankers fear most from nationalization is that they aren’t going to be saved by the white knight.  They are going to have to eat $@%! and die and the American people will own them, at least for awhile until they can be restructured and sold again to private investors.  THAT’S what’s sending the stock market down.  Some very rich people are going to see the end of the gravy train.  It is most certainly not what they paid Obama to do.  And Obama dithers because he knows he can’t count on $600 million for his next election if he screws his backers, er, bankers.

Verily I say unto you, President Obama, you cannot serve two masters.  You took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution of the US “to the best of [your] ability”.  The fact that you have no experience, insight or coalitions earned over time to help you does not excuse you from fulfilling your oath.  You may be a weak president, by design (thank you David Broder and Karl Rove), but this is something you will have to overcome or you will be a one term African-American president who will have a worse legacy than George W. Bush.  Your new freshness ties your hands.  Too bad for you.  Do the right thing. Promote the general welfare already.

But what’s this?  Obama is holding a fiscal summit to reduce the deficit? I thought that putting the brakes on deficit spending is exactly what one does not do during a deflationary cycle.  (Hey, I’m not an economist so correct me if I’m wrong here)  Is this the same fiscal responsibility summit that is designed to cut social security benefits?  Because Social Security is practically the only government program that is working fine all by itself with little excess overhead and a record of outstanding value to the taxpayer?  Ohhhh, right.  It’s sitting on a big wad of cash, that surplus I’ve been paying into my entire working life (thank you Ronald Reagan for raising my payroll taxes).  Yes, let’s give that money to the bankers to play with.  We’re not going to just throw the baby out.  We’re going to harvest its organs first.  Nice going.

It sounds like Obama is Ok with The Shock Doctrine theory of cultural change.  Or he’s desperate for the money.  Or both.  Aren’t we all lucky to be living through such interesting times?  And we couldn’t have Hillary why, exactly?

Hillary Clinton in Indonesia (note all of the happy faces)

(Note:  Funny thing about that picture above.  It used to be attached to the NYTimes article on her stop in Indonesia but it was replaced by another one which shows her pretty much in isolation without the adoring crowds.  That was no accident.  The original picture above is stunning.  She *looks* like The Foreign President.  Well, we can’t have that.)

Bad Movie Open Thread

So what’s eating you?