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Keeping up with Madame Secretary: Women and Girls Front and Center

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with women from SEWA in Mumbai, India, on July 18, 2009.

Wonk the Vote here, bringing a Week’s worth of Hillary, with the cause of women and girls informing every foreign policy move Madame Secretary makes. I thought it would be nice heading towards the week’s end to collect some Hillary headlines and share some quick thoughts on it all. It’s good for the spirit. Especially with the news being nothing but bad juju lately it seems.

This statement from Hillary is from a week ago (October 1, 2010) and is just so good I’m going to quote it in its entirety:

Today, the United States joined with the international community to send a clear message: discrimination against women is a violation of human rights. I applaud the UN Human Rights Council for adopting an historic resolution to create a new mechanism that will promote the elimination of laws that discriminate against women. Establishing this mechanism by consensus at the UN Human Rights Council reinforces once again that women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.

Equality for women is not only a matter of justice — it is a political, economic, and strategic imperative. The world cannot make progress if women are denied the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential. The United States will continue its commitment to advance the human rights of women and girls around the world.

Next up… a look at what’s on the state.gov homepage. I grabbed the following text blurbs and vids from the rotating announcements on there.

Most Powerful Women Summit:

Secretary Clinton (Oct. 6): “Supporting women and girls is both the right thing to do and also the smart thing to do. That’s why we have made it a key priority of the foreign policy in the Obama Administration.” Full Text» Vodpod videos no longer available.

Launch of the mWomen Program:

Secretary Clinton (Oct. 7): “We’re called to close the mobile gender gap because of our commitment to fairness and because of our commitment to progress.” Full Text»Briefing» Vodpod videos no longer available.

U.S. Pledge to Global Fund:

Coordinator Goosby (Oct. 5): “This pledge is part of a comprehensive approach to combat AIDS, TB, and malaria through President Obama’s Global Health Initiative.” Full Text»

The state.gov website understandably chose to highlight the U.S. Pledge to Global fund for October 5th (Tuesday), but on that same day something else worth highlighting took place: Hillary received the George McGovern Leadership Award for her work on addressing global hunger. You can read a full transcript of her acceptance remarks by clicking here. Below is an excerpt along with the footage: (Click the prompt to keep reading, lots more Hillary stuff to come…) Continue reading

They call him “The Freak”

Tim Lincecum



Tim Lincecum’s experience on the national stage has been so sad, it’s almost funny. He was picked for three All-Star teams. He missed the first at Yankee Stadium in 2008 because he got sick. He started at St. Louis in 2009 and surrendered two runs in the first inning. He made the trip to Anaheim this year and was not asked to pitch.

Tonight, Lincecum gets another shot in a far more important venue. All-Star Games are nice little exhibitions. The playoffs are for keeps.

The two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner will throw the Giants’ first postseason pitch in seven years in Game 1 of their Division Series against Atlanta, at AT&T Park.

The game starts at 6:37 p.m. Pacific

Fear the Beards!

WTF Week continues

Over at the Plum Line at WaPo they are calling the above clip “Sharron Angle’s ‘Willie Horton’ ad.”


Between her thinly veiled endorsements of violence, her railing against government spending while receiving government health care, and her recently revealed attempts to force third-party candidate Scott Ashjian out of the race, Sharron Angle’s extremism has turned her race against Harry Reid from an easy romp for Republicans to a winnable race for Democrats. Her campaign’s latest ad, attacking Reid for his support of the DREAM Act, which Greg mentioned earlier in his roundup, is as despicable as it is desperate. In its naked appeal to racial animus against Latinos, it rivals the infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” ad deployed against Michael Dukakis.

Now I’m no fan of Sharron Angle but she’s running against Dirty Harry Reid. Talk about Dumb and Dumber. Unfortunately, one of them is going to win.

But it is an article of faith among progressives that Willie Horton = racist dogwhistle.

Let’s talk about that. Here’s the actual Willie Horton ad from 1988:


Horton was a convicted murderer who was serving a sentence of life without parole in Massachusetts. In 1986 Horton was released from prison as part of a weekend furlough program but did not return. In 1987 in Maryland Horton raped a woman twice after pistol-whipping, stabbing, tying up and gagging her fiancé. He then stole the man’s car but was later captured by police after a chase.

Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge, Vincent J. Femia, refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, “I’m not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again.”

I have to agree with the judge on that one. But later the Horton case became in issue in the 1988 Presidential campaign between Michael Dukakis and George the Elder. Wikipedia:

Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts at the time of Horton’s release, and while he did not start the furlough program, he had supported it as a method of criminal rehabilitation. The State inmate furlough program was actually signed into law by Republican Governor Francis W. Sargent in 1972. However, under Sargent, convicted first-degree murderers were not eligible for furlough. After the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that this right extended to first-degree murderers, the Massachusetts legislature quickly passed a bill prohibiting furloughs for such inmates. However, in 1976, Dukakis vetoed this bill.[2] The program remained in effect through the intervening term of governor Edward J. King and was abolished during Dukakis’ final term of office on April 28, 1988. This abolition only occurred after the Lawrence Eagle Tribune had run 175 stories about the furlough program and won a Pulitzer Prize.[5] Dukakis continued to argue that the program was 99 percent effective; yet, as the Lawrence Eagle Tribune pointed out, no state outside of Massachusetts, nor any federal program, would grant a furlough to a prisoner serving life without parole.

According to progressives it was all about the color of Horton’s skin. So let’s say Willie looked like this:

Continue reading

Bipartisan BOHICA

Every time you hear how “the Republicans are worse” you should think about this story from Moneynews:

A bill that homeowners advocates warn will make it more difficult to challenge improper foreclosure attempts by big mortgage processors is awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature after it quietly zoomed through the Senate last week.

The bill, passed without public debate in a way that even surprised its main sponsor, Republican Representative Robert Aderholt, requires courts to accept as valid document notarizations made out of state, making it harder to challenge the authenticity of foreclosure and other legal documents.

The timing raised eyebrows, coming during a rising furor over improper affidavits and other filings in foreclosure actions by large mortgage processors such as GMAC, JPMorgan and Bank of America.

Questions about improper notarizations have figured prominently in challenges to the validity of these court documents, and led to widespread halts of foreclosure proceedings.

The legislation could protect bank and mortgage processors from liability for false or improperly prepared documents.

The White House said it is reviewing the legislation.

“It is troubling to me and curious that it passed so quietly,” Thomas Cox, a Maine lawyer representing homeowners contesting foreclosures, told Reuters in an interview.

A deposition made public by Cox was what first called attention to improper affidavits by GMAC.

Since then, GMAC, JPMorgan and others have halted foreclosure actions in many states after acknowledging that they had filed large numbers of affidavits in which their employees falsely attested that they had personally reviewed records cited to justify the foreclosures.

Cox said the new obligation for courts to recognize notarizations of documents filed by big, out-of-state companies, would make it more difficult and costly to challenge the validity of the documents.


“Constituents” Pressed For Passage

After languishing for months in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill passed the Senate with lightning speed and with hardly any public awareness of the bill’s existence on Sept.27, the day before the Senate recessed for midterm election campaign.

The bill’s approval involved invocation of a special procedure.

Democratic Senator Robert Casey, shepherding last-minute legislation on behalf of the Senate leadership, had the bill taken away from the Senate Judiciary committee, which hadn’t acted on it.

The full Senate then immediately passed the bill without debate, by unanimous consent. The House had passed the bill in April.

The House actually had passed identical bills twice before, but both times they died when the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to act.

Some House and Senate staffers said the Senate committee had let the bills languish because of concerns that they would interfere with individual state’s rights to regulate notarizations.

Senate staffers familiar with the judiciary committee’s actions said the latest one passed by the House seemed destined for the same fate.

But shortly before the Senate’s recess, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pressed to have the bill rushed through the special procedure, after Leahy “constituents” called him and pressed for passage.

The staffers said they didn’t know who these constituents were or if anyone representing the mortgage industry or other interests had pressed for the bill to go through.

These staffers said that, in an unusual display of bipartisanship, Senator Jeff Sessions, the committee’s senior Republican, also helped to engineer the Senate’s unanimous consent for the bill.

Neither Leahy’s nor Session’s offices responded to requests for comment Wednesday. (emphasis added)

Hey Mr. Leahy! In the immortal words of Richard B. “Dick” Cheney:

“Go fuck yourself!”

To which I add “And the donkey party you rode in on!


(From WCMB in the comments)

They are obfuscating because the problem isn’t the foreclosures themselves. The problem is all the mortgage-backed securities that spun off of those original notes – all the “side bets” that leveraged the original mortgage up to many multiples of the first note. Those are sitting on the big banks’ and hedge funds’ fake balance sheets of “assets” like big ole stinking turds.

The law required due diligence, and that non-performing loans did not get bundled into those “assets”. And the banks all winked and nodded and proceeded to pile garbage by the truckload into those “baskets” of derivatives, not bothering with the paper trail that was legally required. They were making money hand over fist on this Ponzi scheme, and figured they would never get caught because the housing bubble would never pop.

It’s not the foreclosures that will blow the whole thing sky high, it’s the side bets. Hillary knew this, which is why she wanted to actually unwind the MBS market, identify the toxic assets, and put them in a federal “bank”, a separate “pile” to isolate them from the rest of the system. Isolate them FIRST, leaving the banks healthy, then make decisions as to solutions for the toxic pile.

Our corporate govt is going to write a law, give a waiver, whatever they have to do to make sure that all that shaky leverage the banks took on is never exposed. Because if the banks are forced to take their real losses, many of them implode immediately.

The 700 billion bailout did NOTHING to clean up their balance sheets. Not one goddamn thing. They are as insolvent in reality as they were when this shit started, no matter what their fictional balance sheets say.

Making them eat their losses in a structured, organized way, with some help from the treasury so that the whole system didn’t go down, would have been a difficult time for the economy. It would have sucked for the country. But we would have come out of it with clean accurate balance sheets and a solid foundation to rebuild.

Instead, we spent 700 billion papering over the theft, only to wind up now right back where we started, with the rot still lurking there underneath, threatening at any moment to go kaboom once again.

Morning Madness Meditations


Cutting thru the crazy in suburban NJ


It’s another manic day in the deepest. darkest suburbs of central NJ but my mind is turned westward.  I am very worried about the mental state of our Petulant Klown.  He’s got some serious hypergraphia lately, for good reason.  But Klowns like voters can be very unpredictable.  He’s obviously worried about the Democrats.  I expected the Democrats to roll out some extra special strategy with secret sauce after labor day and instead, their strategy seems to be playing chicken with their base.  I think they underestimate their base.

Yeah, it would totally suck if Republicans won.  They’re a wild and crazy bunch alright.  Everybody is losing their jobs and houses and then there’s that whole redistricting thing that will make voting all but a formality for many.  But the Supernanny treatment was never going to be easy.  The brats are going to scream and wail that it’s all your fault but you’ve got to remain firm.  Either the Democrats get their act together before election day or the this version of the party is history and not a moment too soon.

(BTW, as a voter in NJ under the regime of Republican governor Chris Christie, I can report that there are some unexpected benefits.  Everytime the municipality or school district cuts back on something, the perfectly legitimate excuse is “the budget didn’t pass”.  So now I know that when Brook develops permanent curvature of the spine from carrying home 80 pounds of tattered books instead of accessing her books online like she did last year, I will remember that it was Chris Christie who slashed the state aid to schools that forced local taxpayers to reject yet another significant hike to their local property taxes.  We only have to live through 3 more years of this before we are sick of Republicans once and for all.)

If the Democrats want us back in the fold, they can stop the beatings until morale improves.  Oh, and kill the Catfood Commission BEFORE the election.  Kill it dead.  We don’t want any zombie committees later.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about attending Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington on October 30.  Yeah, Jon Stewart was a total dick to Hillary during the 2008 primary season but I’ve seen enough of his stuff lately that suggests that he knows he made a terrible mistake.  Anyway, he gets the party.  All too well.

On a related note, Lambert at Corrente had a post on a study on collective intelligence. The study showed that groups dominated by a single individual who bogarts the conversation are less collectively intelligent than groups where the opinions of all members of the group are solicited.  But wait!  There’s more.  In the journal Science where the paper was published, the researchers found that collective intelligence, c, was composed of several principal components.  The most significant component is “social sensitivity”.  “Social sensitivity has to do with how well group members perceive each other’s emotions,”  To their surprise, the researchers found that the number of women in a group is a significant component as well and is correlated to social sensitivity.  Collective intelligence has no correlation with the mean or max intelligence of the individual members of a group.  (Of course, if all of the members of the group were socially sensitive, you wouldn’t need women.  I believe this can be taught.  Maybe some women should teach it.)

In other words, if you have one person in your group making all the decisions, getting all of the plum projects and all of the limited budget resources and all of the praise, and shutting every other person in the group out of the conversation, that group will be less effective than one where there is more delegation and sharing of information and resources.  If the rumors and complaints about the Obama White House are true, ie, that it is micromanaged and subordinates are told to shut up and do what they’re told, then we are in trouble.

So, verily we say unto you, Barack Obama, if you want to make your administration more collectively intelligent, add more women to it.  And LISTEN TO THEM.  If I recall correctly, you have fewer women in your administration than either George Bush or Bill Clinton.  And you know what?  It shows.

I’m off!  (Well, I’m always a *little* off).

One last thing: Jeralyn, you should be ashamed of yourself for picking on people who just want to have a little fun.  It really is beneath you to be so petty and mean spirited and reveals a want of character on your part.  We don’t pick our mothers.

You owe myiq2xu an apology.