Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Should We Make Of Obama's "Army Of Community Organizers"?

Hey, Friends - I wanted to let you know that I will be gone from 2/26 - 3/6, and unable to check in here. As always, I recommend these sites for your edification: No Quarter, Stray Yellar Dawg, Uppity Woman, and Logistics Monster, to name a few. Links are provided in the Blogroll to the right.

The Los Angeles Times in a short piece by Andrew Malcolm, says it all in the headline,"Obama Recruits An Army Of Community Organizers To Carry His 'Movement Forward For Years To Come."

Holy crappy doo.

You may recall that during the 2008 Election campaign, Obama had his "Obama For America" thugs, er, troops. Once he successfully stole the nomination from Clinton, it became rebranded as "Organizing for America." You know, the one that "thoughtfully" provided a (used) slogan for a memorial service in Tucson after Jared Loughner opened fire, "Together We Thrive." (Photo from LA Times article.)

Hard to believe it can get worse than that headline, but it does (depending upon your perspective, that is):
[snip] Strengthening "our democracy" presumably has something to do with reelecting the revered leader in 2012.

However, the Organizing for America recruiting message says nothing about politics or election campaigns and strangely talks in military terms of "a grassroots program that aims to put boots on the ground and help foster a new generation of leaders -- not just to help win elections but to strengthen our democracy in communities across the country."

The same Obama campaign group was reported involved in fomenting and facilitating the ongoing Wisconsin protests against Gov. Scott Walker's budget plans.

The message about what it calls the "Summer Organizing Fellowship" adds: "Effective organizing doesn't happen in a vacuum. It takes commitment, time, and hard work to build a movement around a cause." It does not specify what the "cause" is, other than promoting Obama and his agenda.[snip]

Again I say, holy crappydoo.

Is this scaring the shit out of anyone else but me?

Well, if that part above didn't, maybe this will:
[snip] The cadres "will be assigned to a specific community," the message informs, "where they'll work to organize supporters street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood."

Hey, friends - I will be out of town starting 2/26 - 3/6, and unable to check in here. As always, I recommend visits to No Quarter, Uppity Woman's blog, Stray Yellar Dawg's site, and Logistics Monster's site, to name a few. There are links to each one in the Blogroll. I hope you all have an excellent week. I know I am planning on doing the same!

Their job will involve recruiting additional Obama workers, running Obama-related events, knocking on doors to talk of Obama "and lay new groundwork to carry this movement forward for years to come."

"In the end," the Obama campaign appeal says of the community organizer corps, "their work will take our grassroots power to an impressive new level." [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

How about now? Recruiting members, knocking on doors, all to spread the Good Word Of Obama, and implement his will for "years to come"?

And just what does it mean to "take our grassroots power to an impressive new level"? I don't think I want to know.

How about you, what do you think?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Let's Talk Taliban

Particularly, about the Taliban in Afghanistan and how it treats women. Now, I realize this might just seem like an "out of the clear blue sky" kinda thing, but trust me when I tell you it is not. (Photo by Steve Evans)

First, I should say that before the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women actually had a fair number of rights. They had the right to vote about the same time women in the US did. The participated in the legislature, worked as teachers, worked in the government, and generally enjoyed a number of freedoms in side and outside the home.

And then the Taliban came along. Let's just look at some of the changes instituted by the Taliban in terms of women:
[snip] 1- Complete ban on women's work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers and most professionals. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in some hospitals in Kabul.

2- Complete ban on women's activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother or husband).

3- Ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers.

4- Ban on women being treated by male doctors.

5- Ban on women studying at schools, universities or any other educational institution. (Taliban have converted girls' schools into religious seminaries.)

6- Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe.

7- Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.

8- Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles.

9- Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage. (A number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule).

10- Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off).

11- Ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males.

12- Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman's voice).

13- Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman's footsteps.)

14- Ban on women riding in a taxi without a mahram.

15- Ban on women's presence in radio, television or public gatherings of any kind.

16- Ban on women playing sports or entering a sport center or club.

17- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.

18- Ban on women's wearing brightly colored clothes. In Taliban terms, these are "sexually attracting colors."

19- Ban on women gathering for festive occasions such as the Eids, or for any recreational purpose.

20- Ban on women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place.

21- Modification of all place names including the word "women." For example, "women's garden" has been renamed "spring garden".

22- Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses.

23- Compulsory painting of all windows, so women can not be seen from outside their homes.

24- Ban on male tailors taking women's measurements or sewing women's clothes.

25- Ban on female public baths.

26- Ban on males and females traveling on the same bus. Public buses have now been designated "males only" (or "females only").

27- Ban on flared (wide) pant-legs, even under a burqa.

28- Ban on the photographing or filming of women.

29- Ban on women's pictures printed in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Pretty exhaustive list, right? Wrong. There is more. Much more. To say that women are treated poorly by the Taliban is the understatement of understatements.

So, why the hell am I going on about the Taliban? Because the Obama Administration is making good on a claim Obama made to engage with them. The theory, as I understand it, is to try and get some of them to move away from Al Qaeda. How likely that will be is debatable, but these authorities seem to think it will not work:
[snip] Some Afghan policy specialists are skeptical about whether negotiations would succeed. Peter Bergen, a specialist on Afghanistan and al-Qaida, told a US Institute of Peace seminar in Washington last week that there were a host of problems with such a strategy, not least why the Taliban should enter negotiations "when they think they are winning".

Audrey Kurth Cronin, a member of the US National War College faculty in Washington, and the author of How Terrorism Ends, said talks with Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network were pointless because there would be no negotiable terms.

She said there could be talks with Hekmatyar, but these would be conducted through back channels, potentially by a third party. Given his support for jihad, she said, "it would be unreasonable to expect the US and the UK to do so".

Asked how Obama's Afghan strategy was progressing, a senior former US government official familiar with the latest Pentagon thinking said: "In a word, poorly. We seriously need to be developing a revised plan of action that will allow us a chance to achieve sufficient security in a more sustainable manner." [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

So much for not negotiating with terrorists. I guess that is so Twentieth Century.

Indeed, the New Yorker has an article coming out soon about this whole issue, the US. and Taliban talks. This is something that is moving along, even if we haven't heard much about it:
[snip]When asked for comment on the talks, a White House spokesman said that the remarks that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made last Friday at the Asia Society offered a “thorough representation of the U.S. position.” Clinton had tough words for the Taliban, saying that they were confronted with a choice between political compromise and ostracism as “an enemy of the international community.” She added, “I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable. And diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace. President Reagan understood that when he sat down with the Soviets. And Richard Holbrooke made this his life’s work. He negotiated face to face with Milosevic and ended a war.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Uh, yeah - "distasteful" is putting it mildly. Because here is the thing that these articles do not discuss - how the US can negotiate with the Taliban not only for its Al Qaeda ways, but the horrific treatment women suffer under their rule. Here is what happens when you "negotiate" with the likes of the Taliban (h/t Breeze. Photo credit:
[snip] On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed his government plans to take control of some of Afghanistan’s women shelters.

“Those who are found in violation of the established standards and the rules and regulations will be taken over by the Afghan government,” he said.

Under the plan, a group of Afghan officials will decide who is allowed to seek protection in a shelter.

Human Rights groups worry that Afghan government-run shelters will be disastrous for women and girls fleeing abuse.

“I don’t trust many of the people in this government to decide who should be allowed into a shelter and who should be ejected from a shelter,” said Rachel Reid of Human Rights Watch. “Often people in government have the same conservative attitudes that these girls and women are fleeing.”

According to the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, most Afghan women and girls face severe domestic violence – and many are forced into marriage well below the legal age, some as young as 8 years old. [snip}

And what does this have to do with the Taliban? This takeover of women's shelters is a (misguided) attempt by Karzai to "woo" the Taliban.

But wait, there's more:
[snip] “This regulation comes at a time when the president is trying to position himself as someone the Taliban can do business with,” said Reid. “He is reaching out and calling them [the Taliban] his brothers. He isn’t very interested in protecting his sisters, his wives, his daughters at the moment. But they desperately need his protection.”

Women's rights activists fear this is just the first step in a much larger plan to welcome the Taliban back into political life.

“I really see that in the future they will target other women’s programs and women’s NGOs just to appease the Taliban,” said Manizha Naderi, the head of Women for Afghan Women, a group that runs shelters across Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department issued a public statement saying that it was “concerned” by the takeover. Privately, American and western diplomats are furious. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

This is what happens when one tries to negotiate with this kind of organization, which is why they US deciding to engage with the Taliban is problematic. Why State personnel should be "concerned" about this takeover is indicative of the short-sightedness of this enterprise. What, did they think the Taliban would just embrace Obama's Hopey Changyness and forfeit their belief system, including how they treat women? Please. Karzai is making this concession now, to take over the shelters, based on a less than credible rationale, to appease the Taliban. But what would the US do to appease them, and get them to come to the table?

I think this old proverb sums this whole situation up: when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Karzai, the US, or anyone else who negotiates with the Taliban are going to be tarnished in one way or another. Sometimes things that are "unimaginable" should remain so, and not made a reality. Like negotiating with the Taliban. Just a thought.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Really Happened To Lara Logan, Who Wasn't The Only One...

More and more information is coming out about the treatment women reporters in Egypt have been enduring for some time now. The horrendous attack on Lara Logan seems to have opened the floodgates for other women journalists to acknowledge with what they have been dealing for years now. That many of them felt they had to suffer in silence lest they be seen as "weak" by their male counterparts, who, as noted in Angella Johnson's piece below, have no qualms speaking out when they are beaten, is troubling.

But first, an update on what Lara Logan, CBS foreign correspondent, endured at the hands of the 200 strong gang of men who attacked her. Let me tell you this is not for the faint of heart. From the Daily Mail:
[snip] The 39-year-old foreign correspondent for CBS News show 60 Minutes was separated from her film crew in Cairo on February 11 and surrounded by as many as 200 men in Tahrir Square at the height of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations.

According to one source, reported in The Sunday Times newspaper, sensitive parts of her body were covered in red marks that were originally thought to have been bite marks.

After further examination they were revealed to be from aggressive pinching.

It has also been revealed that she was stripped, punched and slapped by the crowd, which was labelling her a spy and chanting 'Israeli' and 'Jew' as they beat her.

And medical sources have revealed that marks on her body were consistent with being whipped and beaten with the makeshift poles that were used to fly flags during the demonstration.

An unnamed friend of the reporter told The Sunday Times: 'Lara is getting better daily. The psychological trauma is as bad as, if not worse than, the physical injuries. She might talk about it at sometime in the future, but not now.' [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Yes, I imagine it will be some time before she talks about this, and frankly, if she chooses never to talk about this in public, I would support her completely.

As noted, though, she is not the only one who has endured some form of sexual assault while in Egypt. While the other reports have not been as extreme as Logan's, that they are so common is disturbing. Angella Johnson writes about her experience in this piece, "I Was A Mob Sex Attack Victim In Tahrir Square... Just Like Lara Logan":
I was especially horrified to read of CBS journalist Lara Logan’s sex ordeal as she reported on Egyptians celebrating the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak – because I too was a victim.

I was a few hundred yards away in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last Friday, unaware that Lara – whom I had worked with at GMTV – was then desperately fighting off a mob of 200 rabid men in a sustained sex assault.

Now I can say what I have only told a few friends since my return: That I too was subjected to several sexual harassment attacks at the scene.

Although they cannot be compared to the trauma Lara suffered, they were deeply upsetting.

Regardless of the severity of the assaults, that these women, both journalists and citizens, have experienced these kinds of things so regularly is disconcerting, to say the least. But especially that so few media outlets reported this as a part of the story of the recent protests.

Back to Ms. Johnson:
The first happened soon after my arrival in the square with photographer Philip Ide.

At first it had seemed just the merest accidental brush of a hand on my bottom but within seconds I felt another, less hesitant stroke.

I ignored it and kept moving, firmly gripping Phil’s shirt so we would not be separated in the surge of bodies.

The hand behind me thrust forward again, this time boldly grasping a fair amount of jeans-clad flesh.

I turned round sharply and glared at a young man who stood out in a crisp bright purple shirt but studiously avoided looking at me. He was no more than about 19.

I suspected he was the culprit and in any other situation would have confronted him angrily.

But in the mass of excitable men, their passions inflamed by hectoring chants and revolutionary songs blaring through speakers, I knew it could have resulted in an angry escalation.

And that is just it. Any woman who has ever had someone touch them inappropriately has to gauge the situation and see if it is better to let it go than to speak up for herself. Just a sad reality with which women have to live:
[snip] Then, using the jostling of the crowd, he lunged forward clumsily and thrust his pelvis into my behind, while holding on to my shoulder with his right hand and attempting to encircle my waist with his left.

I reacted instinctively, surprising him with a sharp elbow to his torso and was rewarded with a muffled grunt.

Then I grabbed Phil, explained what had happened and asked him to walk behind me for the rest of the way. Purple shirt soon gave up the chase.

At this stage I didn’t feel particularly threatened or scared. Having travelled the world extensively for work and pleasure, I have been in more frightening situations.

With hindsight, I realise I was also lulled into a false sense of security – as no doubt Lara was – because the crowd largely comprised happy, smiling people.

Even when several youths brushed against me in an intimidating way, some muttering suggestively in Arabic, I felt more annoyance than fear.


When I got caught in the middle of one particularly boisterous group, they mobbed me and several attempted to grope and fondle my body.

For a moment I was nervous – I could see Phil’s head but several bodies were between us – then I got angry and pushed back. Luckily, I managed to wriggle my way out of their grasps. [snip]

Ms. Johnson was lucky indeed to be able to escape the grasp of these men, to put it mildly. And thank heavens she did. But there is more to this:
[snip] It never occurred to me to complain to my bosses. I have never wanted to give male colleagues any reason to treat me differently.

But what happened to Lara has given women like me a chance to tell our story, like the time in South Africa when I fled a Zulu after he pushed his hand down my blouse.

Or the occasion in Qatar when I fought off a sheikh in full traditional dress trying to force his way into my hotel room.

I have had my breasts grabbed in Turkey, been chased by a gang of men while walking down the street in Morocco and generally treated like a piece of meat on a previous visit to Egypt.

That was why I arrived in Tahrir Square armoured in jeans, a baggy, long sleeve top and with my hair covered with a knitted hat.

No doubt, as a woman friend has said to me: 'In their minds, you and Lara were just two "infidel whores", the kind of sexually-liberated women they see in films and videos, or the ones who visit on holiday, get drunk and have liaisons with local men.'

There are those who believe women like Lara should not cover stories where they could find themselves in danger.

Some British and U.S. male commentators have suggested that in some way she was responsible for the attack because she’s petite and attractive
.(Emphasis mine.)

Others have suggested she has 'form' for dressing provocatively.

I find such comment offensive. No one ever says a male journalist asked for it if he gets beaten up. And I could not have covered up more – apart from wearing a burka.
(Click here to read the rest.)

This is upsetting in many regards, that these kinds of assaults happen routinely to women is bad enough. But when they are BLAMED for them for essentially just BEING, as opposed to holding the perpetrators accountable, is adding insult to injury. It is NOT Logan's fault she was attacked by 200 rabid men. It is THEIR callous disregard for women that is to blame.

This is not new. This has been going on against women journalists in that area of the world for some time. It begs the question, though, why has our media chosen to ignore these attacks? Because it would affect their narrative?

This is a bigger picture problem. The treatment of women, whether abroad or at home, must be taken seriously. No more blaming the victim, or justifying the assaults. It is wrong, it is a violation of not just women's rights, but human rights, and it must be treated as such. I am glad Secretary Clinton has weighed in on Lara Logan's attackers, but that is just the beginning.

Perhaps it is time the United States started to play hardball with those countries that treat women so disparately. Maybe when we have an administration for whom that is important, we will. Clearly, that time is not now. And that is just wrong.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Brothers Won't Work Hard Like Mexicans..." **UPDATED**

Oh, man - did SC State Senator Robert Ford (D) really say this? Talk about your classic "foot in mouth" disease. Needless to say, a whole bunch of people aren't happy with him about his comment. Ford has been in the Senate since 1993. This isn't the first time he has come out with something that made people do a double-take(he has a tendency to come our with some doozies). Yep, you just never know what Senator Ford is going to say.

But let me put this into context. He made this comment in the midst of a Senate discussion. Here's more from this Post and Courier article:
Robert Ford, a Charleston Democrat, is under fire for making a comment about the work ethic of South Carolina blacks.

“Brothers won’t work hard like Mexicans will so we need to make sure enough Mexicans are here,” Ford is quoted as saying, according to a posting by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beauford. Ford’s comments came during a Senate committee meeting on immigration legislation.

Ford told The Post and Courier his comments were directed at all Americans — not any specific ethnic groups. He said new immigrants, illegal or otherwise, work at hard labor job such as construction. Americans whose families have been in the country for generations work as doctors or lawyers or school teachers, he said.

“I was talking about the building of America and how every generation of Americans did the hard work,” Ford said. “Americans are not going to do real hard work. Everybody in America knows that.”

You just cannot make this shit up.

And before you start to think, "wow, this guy is a major racist," this is Sen. Robert Ford:
Yep, that would be the esteemed senator. Wowie zowie, are people a bit perturbed with him. This is the response by one of the head Republicans in the area:
Joel Sawyer, executive director of the state Republican Party, said Ford should apologize.

“It’s disgusting and abhorrent that any elected official would say something that offensive,” Sawyer said. “He needs to apologize immediately and hopefully the condemnation of his comments will be equally as loud from both sides of the political aisle.”(Photo by O'Neal Compton)

To which did Senator Ford responded:
Ford said he does not mind apologizing, but in this case he said he does not know why anyone would be offended by his comments.

“What am I apologizing for? I made a lot of jokes in my presentation like I always do,” Ford said.

Ford said people who don’t have a sense of humor “need to get a life. I am not going to stop bringing a sense a humor.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Yeah, lighten the hell up, people! What's the big deal? It's just a joke. Sheesh! Ahem.

The fact that he is now trying to pass this off as just being a joke, while still claiming that Americans won't work hard, pretty much says it all about the good senator. Wowie zowie.

As for Ford's claim, apparently Ford doesn't know people like our brick mason, who worked until after 10pm, the night of the Super Bowl, I might add. He wanted to make sure he got the foundation finished before the rains came again.

And while I am it, how about the current attacks by the Left on Conservative Blacks? Oh, this is rich, coming from the same people who called everyone on the planet who thought Obama was unqualified when he ran, and a horrible leader now, racists:

You have to hand it to Juan Williams - he nails it. It is "crazy thinking."

Just in case you don't know who Hermain Cain is, another very hard-working man, Bret Baier did an interview with this potential presidential candidate just the other day:

So, what do you think about what Senator Ford said? Should he apologize for his comments? Should people get a sense of humor already? How about the guy and the horribly racist representation of Herman Cain? Herman Cain himself? Let's hear it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's An Epidemic

No, I don't mean whatever flu or cold this is going around right now. I mean what is happening to a number of our women who serve their country in the military.

This is a disheartening result, and is a stain on the honor of those who serve. And that would be this - there is an epidemic of rape and sexual assault against (primarily) women in the Armed Services.

But some of these women are fighting back, as this article highlights
Gates, Rumsfeld Sued Over U.S. Military's Rape Epidemic:
A landmark lawsuit filed Tuesday against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, alleges that the military's repeated failures to take action in rape cases created a culture where violence against women was tolerated, violating the plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights.

“There are three types of women in the Army,” says Rebecca Havrilla, a former sergeant and explosive-ordnance-disposal technician. “Bitch, dyke, and whore.” During the four years that Havrilla was on active duty, she was called all three—by fellow soldiers, team leaders, even unit commanders. Once, during a sexual-assault prevention training, the 28-year-old South Carolina native claims, she watched a fellow soldier—male—strip naked and dance on top of a table as the rest of the team laughed. While deployed in Afghanistan, Havrilla spent four months working under a man she alleges bit her neck, pulled her into his bed, and grabbed her butt and waist—on a daily basis. When, on the last day of her deployment, she alleges she was raped by a soldier she considered a friend, it was, she says, “the icing on the cake.”

But Havrilla calls herself lucky: the end of her military commitment was in sight. In other cases, soldiers have had to keep fighting alongside, or even under, the person who assaulted them; been ostracized by their units for reporting an attack; or, as another woman says, simply “shoved to the side.” Havrilla and 16 others are now plaintiffs in a class action suit filed Tuesday against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, alleging that their failure to act amounted to a violation of the plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights. The suit, brought by Washington, D.C. attorney Susan Burke, and filed in the Eastern Virginia federal court, charges that despite ample evidence of the problem, both Gates and Rumsfeld “ran institutions in which perpetrators were promoted; … in which Plaintiffs and other victims were openly subject to retaliation… and ordered to keep quiet.” The plaintiffs, in turn, have been “directly and seriously injured by Defendants’ actions and omissions.” “It’s shocking,” the case’s lead investigator, Keith Rohman, tells The Daily Beast. “And it’s just hard to understand why they’ve held off. Families all over America send their young men and women to serve and they do that at tremendous personal risk and danger. But this is not a risk that those families want to assume.”

Nor is it a risk they SHOULD assume. Too often, these perpetrators get off scot-free, with the victims further victimized by the very institution they serve.

I have to say, while reading about this lawsuit, and seeing what has happened to these women at the hands of their commanding officers and/or colleagues, often resulting in their dismissal, I am reminded of the story of the 14 year old Bangladeshi girl, raped by her uncle, and then charged with adultery. It is a matter of degrees. The woman is still blamed, and still bears the brunt of both the assault, and loss of vocation, employment, or career (in the matter of the Bangladeshi girl, she lost her life after being lashed to death).

But I am getting ahead of myself. This kind of treatment of women has been going on for a while, but it is getting worse, not better:
[snip] Meanwhile, the numbers continue to rise. In 2009 reported sexual assaults went up 11 percent, according to Department of Defense statistics, with one in three women reporting having been sexually violated while serving in the military. The Pentagon itself admits that reported incidents probably represent just 20 percent of those that actually occur. Female recruits are now far more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed in combat. But women aren’t the only victims; statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs indicate that more than half of those who screen positive for Military Sexual Trauma are men.

“The military is so focused on operational readiness that all these other issues can be labeled ‘minor.’ But the fact of the matter is, it’s destroying the military internally.”

Even when rape cases are reported, the ACLU finds that only 8 percent of them are prosecuted—the civilian system prosecutes 40 percent of alleged perpetrators—and the military trials are often stunningly mishandled. Prosecutors in a case brought by Christine Smith—a civilian who was says that in 2006 she was raped by a man serving in the airborne division—said that they’d lost her underwear, so didn’t introduce it as evidence. But after the soldier was acquitted Smith received a phone call saying she could come retrieve the underwear from the military investigative office.

Oh, dear goddess. That is a staggeringly low percentage. But to first claim evidence was lost to then offer to return it post-trial is the height of callous disregard. What is worse, there is little one can do:
In such cases, the plaintiff has little recourse. “For lots of reasonable historical bases, the military has a level of civil immunity in our society which is quite high,” investigator Rohman says. “There’s a downside to that: their lack of external accountability means that they have not had to adjust in the way the rest of society has.” In particular, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling, known as the Feres Doctrine, places the military beyond the reach of workplace laws regarding sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. To make matters worse, charges are usually investigated within the immediate chain of command. “There’s no investigatory training. They don’t tell you to look for evidence,” says Greg Jacob, who spent 10 years in the Marines and rose to the rank of captain. Instead, they hand over a manual for courts martial, which explains, among other things, that the investigating officer should consider, first and foremost, “the character and military service of the accused.” Jacob says that essentially means weighing each soldier’s past and future value to the unit. “It’s an HR approach to criminal conduct,” he says. “Military justice imbued me with the ability to be judge and jury. Honestly, I had no idea what to do.”

It was watching the military bungle one such investigation that eventually caused Jacob to leave the service. When a course critique revealed that a senior enlisted marine in his company was systematically assaulting “dozens and dozens” of female trainees, Jacob investigated, got more than 80 corroborations of the behavior, and sent the report up along the chain of command. Less than a week later, the offender was sent to Camp Lejune and subsequently deployed for Iraq. When Jacob asked why he hadn’t been prosecuted, Jacob says he was told, “He’s a good soldier. He just can’t handle an integrated training environment.” In Iraq, the marine was killed, leaving a widow and five children. “If they’d prosecuted him, he would have stayed here and lost some stripes, but not been killed,” Jacob says. “That’s when I decided to get out. I’d been in for ten years. I was a decorated combat Marine. They were going to send me to take a unit to Iraq. But they lost out on all my experience, all the money they’d spent on me. The reach of this problem stretches a long way.” (A spokesperson for the Marine’s Manpower and Reserves Public Affairs office said that she couldn’t comment on individual cases.)

Jacob left the military. Ultimately, Havrilla left as well. Three months after returning to the States she was discharged, having been diagnosed with both combat PTSD and sexual assault PTSD. She’s now living in Missouri and is currently unemployed. She hopes that the lawsuit, and the attention it will receive, will compel the military to start outsourcing sexual assault training. “You’re not going to change hearts and minds overnight,” she says. “Someone who is a misogynistic asshole isn’t going to change their minds because of some PowerPoint presentation. But at that point, at least you can’t claim ignorance. There’s no wishy-washy ‘Oh, it’s just boys being boys.’ If you have a leadership that doesn’t give a shit, nothing’s going to change. It has to start from the top down.” And while the suit seeks significant monetary damages, a payout is neither expected nor entirely the point. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

This is disturbing on so many levels. As noted above, often these victims are victimized repeatedly, through the deliberate lack of action taken, as was the case here:
[snip] In one incident, an Army Reservist says two male colleagues raped her in Iraq and videotaped the attack. She complained to authorities after the men circulated the video to colleagues. Despite being bruised from her shoulders to elbows from being held down, she says charges weren't filed because the commander determined she "did not act like a rape victim" and "did not struggle enough" and authorities said they didn't want to delay the scheduled return of the alleged attackers to the United States.

"The problem of rape in the military is not only service members getting raped, but it's the entire way that the military as a whole is dealing with it," said Panayiota Bertzikis, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit and claims she was raped in 2006. "From survivors having to be involuntarily discharged from service, the constant verbal abuse, once a survivor does come forward your entire unit is known to turn their back on you. The entire culture needs to be changed." [snip]

Indeed, the culture does need to be changed, though it is too late for these women, whose victimization continues through the "trial," or the threat or actual loss of career, as was the case for Kori Cioca:
[snip] Even though the man confessed to having sex with her, Cioca said in the lawsuit she was told if she pressed forward with reporting the sex as a rape, she would be court-martialed for lying. She said the man pleaded guilty only to hitting her and his punishment was a minor loss of pay and being forced to stay on the base for 30 days. She said she was discharged from the military for a "history of inappropriate relationships." [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Court-martialed for "lying." So, not only was she assaulted by this man physically, but sexually as well, and SHE as the one court-martialed. There is something seriously, seriously wrong with this.

Here is Ms. Cioca detailing what happened to her:

"It wasn't important. I wasn't important."

I don't know about you, but I need a minute after watching this video. Wow.

That is one helluva message for the military to be sending to women. Now you know, I appreciate those who are willing to serve their country, and have a nephew now serving his 3rd tour in the Middle East. But this kind of behavior is systemic, and must be addressed as such. Anyone willing to give of themselves in service to the country deserves to know that the very people in their unit are not going to assault them. And if they DO, they must face the consequences in a sober, serious, meaningful way. Whatever the military is doing now is clearly not working.

I hope these women and men win this lawsuit. But until we, as a nation, are willing to address how women are treated in our country, in our culture, any changes as a result of the lawsuit will be window dressing. As Havrilla said above, “You’re not going to change hearts and minds overnight,” she says. “Someone who is a misogynistic asshole isn’t going to change their minds because of some PowerPoint presentation." Indeed, we need real, systemic change. Nothing else will do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Shocking Story of One CBS Reporter In Egypt

Word has recently come out that Lara Logan, a longtime CBS foreign correspondent, suffered a brutal, horrible assault and sexual assault at the hands of a gang of Egyptian men celebrating the downfall of Mubarak. According to this CBS report (H/T to Carol Maka), Ms. Logan was covering the celebration for "60 Minutes."

And that's when it turned ugly for her:
[snip] It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently home recovering.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Let us pause and reflect on how a "celebration" results in a brutal assault, both physical and sexual, of a woman.

This is so disturbing on so many levels. But this was not the first indignity suffered by Ms. Logan while covering the Egyptian uprising. Howard Kirtz of The Daily Beast had this report regarding Ms. Logan:
[snip] The assault occurred a week after Logan and her crew wound up in the custody of Egyptian military authorities. At first, she was essentially confined to her Alexandria hotel.

"It was literally like flipping a switch," Logan said in a video. "The army just shifted dramatically to a much more aggressive posture. They have absolutely prevented us from filming anywhere today—no cameras, no cameras, is what we're being told." She said when her crew went out to shoot so-called beauty shots, "they were intimidated and bullied, and in fact marched at gunpoint through the streets, all the way back to our hotel—a very frightening experience, and one that was repeated throughout the day for us."

After that video was made, Logan and her crew tried again, and were taken into custody.*

"We were detained by the Egyptian army," Logan told Esquire. "Arrested, detained, and interrogated. Blindfolded, handcuffed, taken at gunpoint, our driver beaten. It's the regime that arrested us. They arrested [our producer] just outside of his hotel, and they took him off the road at gunpoint, threw him against the wall, handcuffed him, blindfolded him. Took him into custody like that."

There was more: "They blindfolded me, but they said if I didn't take it off they wouldn't tie my hands. They kept us in stress positions—they wouldn't let me put my head down. It was all through the night. We were pretty exhausted… We were accused of being Israeli spies. We were accused of being agents. We were accused of everything." In the process, Logan said, she became "violently, violently ill." The army eventually released Logan and the crew. And then, because it is hard to keep Logan away from a hot foreign story, she went back. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

* This is the video referred to above:

So, even before the horrendous attack against Ms. Logan, she had been "arrested, detained, and interrogated," forced to stay in a "stress position" for hours. Wow.

Ms. Logan is a brave woman, having worked in countries like this before. For a woman in that neck of the woods, that is quite an achievement. Ms. Logan spoke about this in an interview a few years ago (h/t to Samb):

How prescient was that, sad to say?

Ms. Logan is home now, recovering from her assault, at least physically, that is.

Meanwhile, as if things were not already bad enough for women in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood is working to form a recognized political party. And they are one of eight representatives on the Transition Panel. Despite attempts by some to minimize the dangers of this organization, and their "extensive terrorist operations" (and that is from the Anti-Defamation league), dangerous they are, both in Egypt, and to the West. Sharia Law, and Jihad, are an integral part of what and what they are.

Oh, and for those who keep trying to claim the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate, peaceful organization, despite it being outlawed in Egypt for an assassination attempt against Nasser (I think that pretty much rules out the "non-violence claim," though its connections to Hamas do that, too), their support for Sharia Law, for the denigration of women, speaks volumes. In other words, pssst, your misogyny is showing - you might want to zip it up.

It is disturbing, horrifying, infuriating, and saddening, that CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan was so brutally attacked and assaulted. It is a glimpse into the scene there that at Tahrir Square, in the midst of a celebration, something so heinous could occur.

I cannot help but worry that, should the Muslim Brotherhood continue to ascend in Egypt, how much worse it will be for the women who live there, and the women who travel there. If something like this could happen out in the open, well, that alone is unthinkable, yet it happened, so it does not bode well for the future.

In the meantime, my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to Ms. Logan. Sadly, she has a long row to hoe ahead of her as she deals with the effects of that day. All the best to her...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Major Hasan's Major Pass (Updated)

Or should I say, "passes." More on that below, but as we all now know, a small number of Egyptians have forced out their ruler for 30 years, Mubarak. The military is now in control, which has suspended their Constitution and dissolved Parliament. In essence, as Larry Johnson and others have pointed out, they are currently under a military coup.

But that's not what this is about, actually. No, in a way, it is about the concern a number of us have that Egypt might now fall into an Islamic theocracy run by the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sharia Law supporting organization, which sees jihad as its way. Many in the US, including the "esteemed" Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, have minimized who and what the Muslim Brotherhood is.

Why is that? Why would someone at his level minimize this organization, about which I have written a fair amount recently, whose last campaign slogan was, "Islam Is The Solution"? This unwillingness to name the reality likely can be chalked up to political correctness. (Updated - I removed a citation here though that does not imply it was faulty, rather I prefer to find one with more substance. It does not alter the theme of the post, though.)

And that is about what this post is. It was just that kind of political correctness that is being blamed for Major Hasan still being in the Army, despite the blatant, glaring, massively huge, red flags waving back and forth for all to see. Yes, the reports are in, and they are scathing indictments of the US Army, and the FBI, for not removing this ticking time bomb.

This man, Hasan, was in touch with the man now believed to be the BIGGEST threat to the United States, Anwar Al Awlaki, and nothing. Nope, not investigated further, not brought in for questioning, nothing but promotions and "Hail fellow well met." That is just absurd, and clearly, dangerous.

Debra Saunders had a very good piece on just this issue, the title of which says it all, "PC Military Fails To Detect Fort Hood Shooter." The tale her article tells is disturbing on so many levels, it is practically emetic. Lives were lost that day, 13 to be exact, and over 30 were wounded. Families were torn apart, a military base was under attack from one of its own.

And it all could have been, SHOULD have been, avoided. To Ms. Saunders' piece:
When he was in his residency, studying psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 2003 to 2009, Nidal Hasan gave a lecture in which he defended Osama bin Laden, justified suicide bombers and suggested that Muslim Americans in the military - like him - could be prone to fratricidal attacks against fellow troops.

He was "a chronic poor performer," who often failed to show up for work and was often on probation. His program director considered him "very lazy" and "a religious fanatic."

His superiors described the first draft of a presentation needed to complete his residency as "not scientific," "not scholarly" - but a rehash of Quoranic verses with no mention of a single medical or psychiatric term. Another presentation - in which he charged that U.S. operations abroad were part of a war against Islam - so angered his colleagues that an instructor stopped the speech. And yet the Army consistently gave Hasan positive evaluations and promoted him to major in 2009.

So says the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee in a report released last week by Chairman Joe Lieberman and ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.[snip]

Is this not startling? How in the hell does this happen? We have people being kicked out left and right for being gay, but this lunatic was not only KEPT in the military, he was PROMOTED, even though they knew he was a religious fanatic. And why? Under the misguided (and unevenly applied) concept of "political correctness.

Can someone explain to me why it is the United States is bending over backwards to not give offense to the very kinds of people who attacked us on 9/11, attacked the USS Cole, and attacked Marine barracks, to name a few? Why we are playing nice with the same kinds of people who tried to attack us in New York City? In a plane over Detroit, to name a couple?

Saunders continues:
[snip] The Senate report also slams the FBI for failing to interview military superiors and colleagues when intelligence revealed that Hasan had been in touch with Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Sadly, the committee found, the Defense Department and the FBI "collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed to understand and act on it."

By the way, the emphasis of the report is not to marginalize Muslims, but to alert the military to the signs that an officer was radicalizing. The right policies, the report notes, will protect "the thousands of Muslim Americans who serve honorably in the military from unwarranted suspicion arising from their religious practice."


Political correctness clearly reigns in the military after this bloody lesson. Last year, the Pentagon released a report, "Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood," which never once referred to Islamist extremism. The report instead concentrated on workplace violence, even touting the U.S. Postal Service's program to end workplace violence as the sort of program that could prevent another attack. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

I'm sorry, but HOW was "Islamist Extremism" NOT mentioned in the Army's report? What kind of sweep-under-the-rug stick-your-head-into-the-sand (or someplace else) kind of BS is this? Of COURSE it was Islamist radicalism! Despite the host of very glaring clues the Army and FBI failed to address, the shouting of "Allah Akbar" as Major Hasan was attempting to obliterate as many fellow soldiers as he could is a bit of a hint. For crying out loud - this isn't "political correctness." This is delusion, something we are seeing way too much of these days.

I am reminded of a comment I saw today while reading this article, "A Child Bride In Sudan." The commenter, Sophia, had this to say:
[snip] Since 9/11 in particular, many people have been trying to learn about Arab and/or Muslim culture. There is also opposition to the war in Iraq and also the whole idea of Israel - Intifada II paralleled the war in Iraq and has gotten confused/conflated with it. So there is fashionable interest in the Palestinians as well with Israel assuming a mirror image of the "brutal" US. The Left in particular has a habit of supporting the perceived underdog no matter what and that is also clouding perceptions.

Much of this interest in Middle Eastern people and culture is a well-meaning attempt to learn about "the other" but all too often it has taken the form of idealizing people and cultures simply because they appear to oppose the US. Also, we see "cultural relativism" wherein human rights are ignored because the value of so-called indigenous culture overrides that of actual people. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Well said, and spot on analysis, I think.

This commenter goes on to say a great deal, very eloquently, about the treatment of women in these cultures, and why so many liberals are okay with that. She specifically mentions Phyllis Chesler who has been writing great posts about Egypt, Islam, and the treatment of women, who has been attacked by the Left for daring to acknowledge the realities of life for women under Islamic regimes (if you haven't signed up for Chesler's posts, I recommend them).

It's all about the political correctness, which enabled this religious fanatic to carry out his horrifying plan for jihad against fellow Americans, and soldiers. It is what allows people to downplay the realities of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ironically, political correctness doesn't extend to how women are treated, which sure makes it easier to turn a blind eye/deaf ear to how women are treated under Sharia Law. But it also allowed someone who should never, ever have still been in the US military to be there (and that makes it harder for the Muslims in our military who are not religious fanatics).

Just in case there is any confusion, the next time someone is spouting anti-American rhetoric, threatening harm, and generally sounding crazy in their radical religious beliefs, even if someone might dare call you Un-PC, do the right thing: say something. Just a thought.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What This Week Has Brought

It has been quite a week, has it not? Egypt and the non-stop media frenzy over what is going on there (and just what stories have we been missing as a result?). There have been debates over the Budget in the US between the new Tea Party members in the House and the old-school leadership. There has been Obama opening his pie-hole (as Larry Johnson would say) every few minutes (feels like it, anyway).

And there has been the weather. We have seen unprecedented snow storms all across the country. Where I live, we are in the midst of a monsoon season (or so it seems), only with cold temperatures. Temperatures have plummeted, snow piles are growing, and people are having a hard time all the way around.

So allow me to share with you one weather report from Atlanta, GA. This is from the middle of January. The reporter is something else. Check it out:

"Go to work! Got to school! Learn something!" Amen, sister!

It's an Open Thread. Feel free to talk about any of the above, or some of the stories that have gotten buried in the midst of the 24/7 Egypt coverage. It's the weekend. Let's have some fun, people.

Friday, February 11, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Mubarak Hands Power To The Military

Mubarak has resigned, handing power over to the military:
Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt and handed power to the military, bowing to the demands of protesters who have occupied central Cairo for the past three weeks demanding an end to his 30-year rule.

“Mubarak has decided to relinquish the office of the presidency,” said Vice President Omar Suleiman in a statement on state television today. “He has instructed the Supreme Council of the armed forces to take over the affairs of the country.”

The resignation came after Egyptians streamed out of Friday prayers vowing to topple Mubarak, 82, after he yesterday defied calls for him to leave for the second time this month. Military helicopters buzzed the presidential palace at dusk and Arabiya television earlier reported that Mubarak had left Cairo for the Sinai resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

The announcement opens a new phase in a crisis that was sparked by the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14 and is rippling through the Arab world, which holds more than 50 percent of the world’s oil reserves. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

This raises all kinds of questions, particularly, who is going to step in to fill the void? Elbaradei, the former IAEA leader who was roundly criticized as a poor leader (he is not a nuclear scientist, but a lawyer), is inserting himself already.

Doug Schoen, Democratic pollster, is convinced the Muslim Brotherhood will be taking over Egypt, which is bad for the USA, and bad for a whole host of reasons:
[snip] President Obama dramatically understated the level of support the Muslim Brotherhood has garnered in Egypt in his Super Bowl interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, and is most likely wrong to have asserted that the Brothers and their allies do not command majority support in the country.

While the Brotherhood now says that they don't plan to contest the presidential elections directly, that can always change. And the data suggests strongly that any candidate they back directly or indirectly would have a potentially decisive advantage. Moreover, there is every reason to believe they would win a decisive, if not dominant role, in Parliament and would be the key actors in selecting the next prime minister as well as setting the legislative agenda.

While very recent public opinion polling from Egypt is not currently available, a number of clear inferences about what is likely to happen can be drawn from prior surveys and prior election results.

The bottom line: there is at least a 50 percent chance, if not more, that a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood or a party with a generally similar approach and orientation will win the next presidential election.

I draw this conclusion from a number of factors. First, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that support for the current regime is very limited to nonexistent. But the underlying structural issues present a more daunting challenge. Even before the fall of the Mubarak government, the Egyptian public was strongly aligned with fundamentalists and traditionalists, rather than modernizers who support a secular, pro-western tradition.

Put simply, Egyptians support Islam, its expanded role in the country's civic life, as well as Shariah. [snip]

Those of us who care about the rights of women, Israel, the stability of the Middle East, and the threat of increased terrorism in our country, are more than a little concerned that this might come to pass:
Egyptians also support the central elements of Shariah Law. For example, 84 percent say that apostates, or those who forsake Islam, should face the death penalty and 77 percent say thieves should have their hands cut off. A majority (54 percent) says men and women should be segregated in the workplace.

Further, the Egyptian people clearly support a political agenda that can only be described as radical. More than 7 in 10 said they were positive toward Iran getting nuclear weapons in a July 2010 Zogby Poll and close to 80 percent favor abrogating the Camp David accords with Israel.

A significant number of Egyptians are favorable to terrorist organizations, with close to half favorable to Hamas and one in five favorable to Al Qaeda.

Given this data it is no shock that the only group in Egyptian society that has any broad based support is the Muslim Brotherhood. Their leader, Muhammed Badi, has not surprisingly said the Koran should be law in Egypt and that jihad was essential. He also said that Israel and Zionism have to be resisted in every way possible with every resource at the disposal of the Egyptian people.[snip](Click here to read the rest.)

No wonder Lawmakers on the Hill gave a stern warning to Obama that the Muslim Brotherhood cannot have a role in Egypt. Well, I think their warning is too little too late, especially now. Thanks, Obama. Kinda makes me wonder on whose side he really is.

So Mubarak has officially handed over the reins. That's where we are right now.

Is Our Director Of Intelligence Really This Clueless?

As you may have heard by now, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, announced at a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday that the Muslim Brotherhood wasn't all that, they were basically a secular group who hadn't a violent bone in their body. Okay, maybe not THAT bad, but close enough. See for yourself:

Just as a little reminder (and h/t to Allahpundit at Hot Air from the reminder), this was James Clapper's response to a question from Diane Sawyer about a major, major bust in London of 12 in an anti-terrorism sting:

"Huh? Say what? London?" Holy cow, does this guy not watch the news or something? How could the Director of National Intelligence not know something of this magnitude? It was a bit telling that the other gentleman tried to cover for him. Wow.

Larry Johnson had a great post about the Director of "Clap On, Clap Off" Intelligence, "Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest: The Obama Security Team." I think the title says it all.

As Allahpundit pointed out, the Washington Post had a piece by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fotouh (which is kind of screwed up of the Post from the get-go, if you think about it), as an apology for the Muslim Brotherhood, and how it really is a peaceful organization, "blah, blah, blah, ignore all of our writings, our website, our threats to destroy the United States from within, and our connections to organizations like Hamas, blah, blah blah, because we really aren't that bad. No, really..." So, don't be alarmed when you read statements like the following:
[snip] Because we are an Islamic movement and the vast majority of Egypt is Muslim, some will raise the issue of sharia law. While this is not on anyone's immediate agenda, it is instructive to note that the concept of governance based on sharia is not a theocracy for Sunnis since we have no centralized clergy in Islam. For us, Islam is a way of life adhered to by one-fifth of the world's population. Sharia is a means whereby justice is implemented, life is nurtured, the common welfare is provided for, and liberty and property are safeguarded. In any event, any transition to a sharia-based system will have to garner a consensus in Egyptian society. (Emphasis mine.)[snip] (Click here to read the rest of the apology.)

So, um, tell me again how that is a "secular" mindset, Director Clap Off?

No wonder FBI Director Robert Mueller tried to set the record straight on Clapped Off's comments on the Muslim Brotherhood. Mueller testified that, uh, yeah, they do have some violent branches which "have supported terrorism," and the rest of what he had to say about them would be in private chambers, thank you so much.

Wow. How is it that this man is so off-base? How could he be so unaware of statements by the Muslim Brotherhood? As one astute NQ reader, oowawa queried, does he not get that the fact "Muslim" is part of the name, automatically means it is religious in nature?

Yep, Larry had it right: "Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest." Maybe Intelligence Clapped Off Director should take a little look-see at The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report so that the next time has is asked about the Brotherhood, he doesn't make a complete ass of himself.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Tale Of Two Haitis

Just recently, I received the following email from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund written by Gary Edson, the CEO of this project:

Help us rebuild more lives in Haiti I recently traveled to Haiti and visited Leogane -- the city at the epicenter of the earthquake -- where I witnessed the incredible rebuilding efforts you have helped make possible.

I met Jerry Joseph, an inspiring father, who was so proud to tell us how he uses his new IT skills to help build network sites and provide technical support in his town.

The technical training Jerry received was from Inveneo -- a Clinton Bush Haiti Fund grant recipient. With the salary that Jerry earns he is able to send his five-year-old son to school. The future looks bright for Jerry and his son Jerus.

Jerry is just one of many success stories I saw in Haiti. And there will be many more stories to come as we continue our transition from emergency relief and assistance programs to long-term reconstruction efforts, which promote job growth and economic opportunity.

The critical work to rebuild Haiti continues. Be a part of it by making a donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund now:

The creation of jobs does more than change individual lives. Economic stability has the power to transform whole communities and allows Haiti to chart its own successful future.

While visiting the town of Jacmel, we witnessed the powerful impact artisan sales to stores like Macy's can have on a community. These sales were made possible through organizations like BrandAid and Fairwinds Trading.

As our Fairwinds Trading partner explained, "It was stunning to see this town after that first order from Macy's hit. The vibe changed. Suddenly there was work, jobs, money was flowing. People were smiling."

You made these smiles possible. BrandAid and Fairwinds Trading are examples of two incredible Clinton Bush Haiti Fund recipients.

I spoke with Haitians encouraged by job growth. Small business owner and artisan Gerard Dumas, who cares for seven children, previously employed four to five people. He now employs 15 people as the direct result of business through Fairwinds Trading.

Help us transform even more communities. Make a donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund today and help us build back Haiti even better:

The road to economic security for Haiti will be a long one, but we're seeing progress in Haiti and we remain hopeful.

Wow, it sounds like things are really turning around there - for some, at least.

What I found to be striking, and disconcerting, about this letter from Mr. Edson is that it said NOTHING about how women are faring in Haiti. See, I had just read the following article by Tracy Wilkinson of the LA Times a day before I got this email, "Rape Flourishes In Rubble Of Haitian Earthquake."

Well, the title gives you a pretty good idea of what is happening to women in Haiti. In all honesty, this article brought me to tears. It is disturbing on so many levels, including how much a part of the culture sexual assault against women, and girls, is:
Halya Lagunesse thought she knew despair. Nearly seven years ago, the soldiers who had killed her husband gang-raped the Haitian woman and her daughter Joann, who was 17 at the time.

But that pain pales in comparison to the torment of learning last March that her 5-year-old granddaughter had been raped.

The attacker gave the child about 50 cents to go and buy rice. On her way back, he intercepted her and dragged her into a cemetery.

"How did that happen? How did that happen?" Lagunesse, 50, cried, wringing her hands.

"This situation does something to their minds and makes people sick," she said. "Their hearts are bad."

Hers is a tragedy of rape compounded: Her granddaughter, now 6, was conceived in the gang rape of her daughter.

Six years old. A child conceived by rape is raped herself at SIX YEARS of age.

As to the culture in Haiti, there is this:
Rape wasn't even considered a serious criminal offense in Haiti until five years ago.

The women who pushed for the legislation making it so also built Haiti's first shelter for abused women. Next they had hoped to make fathers legally bound to acknowledge their children and pay some support.

Haitian women are the poorest and most disenfranchised in this poorest of nations in the hemisphere. And yet, through the work of a spirited coterie of feminist activists, real strides were being made.

Until Jan. 12, 2010.

How disturbing is that, that rape was not even considered serious until five years ago. The effect of the earthquake is far-reaching:
Haiti's cataclysmic earthquake killed hundreds of thousands, left this capital in ruins and sent more than a million people into a life in crowded, squalid camps.

It also devastated a strong and surprisingly successful women's movement, which, a year later, struggles like the rest of the nation to recover, even as women are being subjected to horrific sexual violence.

So much has been lost.

Magalie Marcelin, the indefatigable activist with the gap-toothed smile who founded one of Haiti's most important women's advocacy organizations, Kay Fanm. Crushed to death as she mentored an aspiring feminist.

Myriam Merlet, broad-faced, cheerily abrasive and endlessly effective, whether in her position at the Women's Ministry she helped shape or lobbying for the rape law she helped enact. Died in her home under a ton of concrete.

And there were so many more, equally and less famous, midwives, nuns and professors, peasant leaders and government officials, all who worked for women. All gone.

"It was a very big loss," activist Danielle Saint-Lot said. "We cried together. We are mourning together." [snip]

Indeed. Not only were so many people lost, so much devastation to this already poor nation, but the impact on women and girls is tremendous.

How is it that Mr. Edson missed this in his upbeat review of the situation in Haiti a little more than a year after the quake? He made no mention whatsoever of women in Haiti, and what they are enduring. That is just shameful.

Well, there is the obvious answer to that question, and it is not a good one. Suffice it to say, I am not exactly running for my checkbook to give more money to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Rather, I will find a women's organization working there to support instead.

But I am getting ahead of the story. It is a long article, and I cannot possibly reprint it all here. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety at the LA Times. But here is just a bit more of it:
"If you tell anyone," one of her attackers threatened, "we will kill your brother or your sister."

After the rape, Simone, 23, sought medical attention. Then an organization that helps rape victims, Kofaviv, took her under its wing and gave her psychological counseling.

But she still lives in the plastic-tarp tent, and her attackers lurk, murmuring their threats, watching her.

"I feel very unsafe," said the young woman, whose bright eyes widen as she tells her story. "I have nowhere else to go. I am tortured."

Rape has long been a scourge in Haiti. It was used as a form of political repression in 1994 and in 2004, periods of upheaval when military dictators and their brutish gangs of enforcers seized power. Men who opposed the regime were abducted and killed, women raped. An entire generation of Haitians is filled with children of rape.

The earthquake generated new shockwaves of sexual violence. Hundreds, maybe thousands — there is no comprehensive count — have been raped. Some of the assaults are crimes of opportunity, but increasingly they seem a calculated, predatory form of stalking and attacking.

Only a few of an estimated 1,300 tent encampments that are spread through this shattered capital have nighttime lighting or significant police presence. Tents do not have doors or locks. People are jammed together in dehumanizing density without privacy.


Young women are easy prey for uneducated, unemployed men who populate the camps, often stoned and with time on their hands. They see women and girls as fair game. Many women have denounced camp leaders, always male, for demanding sexual favors in return for tents, food and building materials.

Activists are bracing for a jump in teen pregnancies and HIV and AIDS cases, whether from rape or unprotected sex, since clinics that dispensed birth control and advice were also destroyed. The United Nations estimates that Port-au-Prince needs at least 1,000 maternal-care clinics. There are 10. [snip](Please click here to read the rest.)

Why is that? Why do so few of these encampments have lighting or a security presence? It seems to me that should have been a major priority post-earthquake: the safety of those who are left. Given that rape and sexual assault are so problematic in Haiti, it is astonishing that more money, more work, more intention has not gone to doing so. It is also unacceptable.

One organization working for the women of Haiti is KOFAVIV. You can access them on Facebook, or through MADRE, another women's organization which is working with this organization, which was established by rape victims for rape victims in Haiti. If you are so inclined, you can make a donation through the MADRE site.

What is happening to the women in Haiti is reprehensible, abhorrent, and unacceptable. It must stop. And it would sure be nice if the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund added Women's Rights (and security) to the list of their programs in Haiti (if it is there, I missed it). Until then, I'll be sending my money to women's organizations who ARE doing the work to secure women's and children's rights, their HUMAN rights, to be free of fear and sexual assault.

And maybe Mr. Edson needs to take another look at what is happening to over half the population in Haiti before he paints so rosy a picture...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Well, That Is Putting It Mildly About the Brotherhood, Obama

I will admit right upfront that I did (could) not watch the Bill O'Reilly pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama. I am not a big fan of either one of them (now I know THAT comes as a shocker, especially about Obama). I mean, come on already, the Puppy (and Kitten) Bowl was on Animal Planet!

But I have seen a number of clips (I couldn't help it - they would just start showing them!), including one which included this exchange between O'Reilly and Obama about the Muslim Brotherhood:
[snip] "O'REILLY: Are they a threat?

"OBAMA: But they are well-organized and there are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S. There's no doubt about it...[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Talk about your classic understatement about the Muslim Brotherhood and "strains of their ideology." Wow.

Now, I know I have been discussing this issue a lot recently, but hey - blame Obama. He is the one who insisted that this outlaw group have a place at the table in Egypt. Oh, yeah - and he is the one who invited not one, but TEN members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend his big ol' Cairo speech in June of 2009. Yep - because THAT wasn't a slap in the face of Egypt and its laws. But hey - he's Obama, so he is above all of that law stuff.

But wait until you see what this Atlantic article from 2009 says about this organization:
[snip] The brotherhood is a Salafist/ Islamist party with branches in many countries, and it does not have a reputation for liberalism and has supported violent campaigns against Israel (and Egypt's own government). It has deep roots in the region and traces its intellectual lineage to Sayyid Qutb, a top American-educated Islamic intellectual who was executed -- or martyred -- by the Egyptian government in 1966. The Brotherhood has direct links with Sunni groups like Hamas in the Palestinian territories. Its standing in Egypt has suffered as of late because of a crackdown by the Egyptian government and a growing frustration that it is too conservative (anti-women's rights, the whole gamut) for a modern Middle East. Still, it's the largest Sunni opposition party in the world, and it's clear that the Obama administration wants to engage the Sunnis -- even the less moderate Sunnis -- in his "Mutual Respect" tour. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Well, then, one can easily see why Obama would want to extend "mutual respect" to this organization that is anti-Israel, anti-women, anti-US, and pro-Hamas, can't you? Yeah, me neither. Bear in mind, that little snippet of history is from The Atlantic, and the author is none other than Marc Ambinder, one of the JournoListers. That explains some of the attempt at minimizing for what the Brotherhood stands.

So let's turn to an organization that has been following the Muslim Brotherhood in light of Obama's understatement that there are "strains of their ideology that are anti-US," the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report. I wish I could tell you who the editors of this site are, but for a disconcerting reason, I cannot:
[snip] The editors of the site choose to remain anonymous because of the “extraordinary lengths that the global Muslim Brotherhood would go to harass, defame, or slander its critics.”

“We saw this happen to others, including venerable university presses and leading news organizations and with the recent controversy over the resignation of the Obama campaign’s Muslim outreach director,” the site explains. “Hence we made the decision to let the information, often originating from the Brotherhood and its affiliates, and backed by public records, speak for itself, and not get lost in the distraction created by Brotherhood harassment. [snip]

Holy crappydoo. That gives you a bit of a glimpse into the modus operandi of the Brotherhood, but that is really just the beginning. In this article, "10 Questions With The Editors Of The Global Muslim Brotherhood Report," their response to the very first question should give one pause, and highlight the duplicity of Obama's response to O'Reilly:
[snip] 1. What are the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood?

It must be remembered that at its heart, the Muslim Brotherhood is a covert organization albeit with a public face and there is discordance between its public and private positions. Although the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, along with the whole of the Global Muslim Brotherhood network, proclaims it support for democracy, the motto of the organization remains as it always has been:

- Allah is our objective.

- The Prophet is our leader.

- Qur’an is our law.

- Jihad is our way.

- Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

In practical terms, the Brotherhood attempts to gain as much influence for itself as it is able, presumably in the service of its long term vision. Its ability to gain power and influence varies from country to country according to the conditions “on the ground.” That said, its has already been noted that the Global Muslim Brotherhood is a covert organization at its heart and much remains to be learned about its true nature. For example, a secret document unearthed in a U.S. terrorism trial revealed the thinking of a senior Global Muslim Brotherhood leader close to Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, the most important leader in the global Muslim Brotherhood network who lives in Qatar, and which said:
The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.(Emphasis mine.)

[snip] (Click here to read the rest of this article.)

I think a "Grand Jihad" to destroy Western Civilization might be construed as "anti-U.S.," especially considering the whole "eliminating" thing and "sabotaging" from within. Yep, I think I would surely classify that as the Muslim Brotherhood having just a bit of animosity toward the United States. So, thanks Obama, for insisting on giving this organization more legitimacy and power in Egypt. I mean, really, how can that possibly come back to bite us here, right? Right?

Is it just me, or does it also freak you out a bit that our president is being so cavalier about this organization which he seems to be courting, or at least supporting, to get more power? Just wondering...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kirsten Powers: "Americans' Naivete About Egypt"

In case you are not familiar with Kirsten Powers, she has an impressive resume, as stated at The Daily Beast: Kirsten Powers is a columnist for The Daily Beast. She is also a political analyst on Fox News and a writer for the New York Post. She served in the Clinton Administration from 1993-1998 and has worked in New York state and city politics. Her writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Observer,, Elle magazine and American Prospect online.

One thing this brief biography does not say, though, is that she also has family in Egypt. She knows whereof she speaks when she says the following from The Daily Beast post regarding the Egyptian uprising and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular:
Don’t buy the hype about the moderate Muslim Brotherhood. Kirsten Powers on why the U.S. should worry about the rise of an Islamic power in Cairo. Plus, full coverage of the Egypt unrest.

Americans are notoriously naïve.

This is the message I am getting from people I know in Egypt today.

When the protests first began in Egypt, I was in constant contact with an Egyptian relative who is a successful businessman, university professor and astute student of world politics. As my husband and I panicked for our family’s safety, this relative was calm, assuring me that Hosni Mubarak would appoint an interim government and that there would likely be an important role for Omar Suileman, who is a well respected leader in Egypt. Both these things quickly came true. Day after day he assured me that everything would be fine. He was sure that the Muslim Brotherhood—which he regards as a radical Islamist group – was not organized enough to gain any significant power.

Today, he was not so calm. Our family in Egypt is shocked and alarmed by what they are hearing from Western voices and even the apparent leading opposition candidate Mohamed ElBaradei—who has partnered with the Muslim Brotherhood -- who claim that the Brotherhood is a moderate group that should not be feared.

As of this writing, all of the news sources are reporting one thing - Obama got his demand. That demand, as I have written previously, is that he wants the Muslim Brotherhood to have a seat at the table. And so they will. It is just disturbing beyond belief that a US President would make such a demand for a group like the Muslim Brotherhood, yet he did. Shocking.

Ms. Powers also speaks about the Christians in Egypt and the difficulties they face. The bombing of a Coptic Church on January 1st in Alexandria in which 23 people were murdered, and 79 hurt, is a case in point. Just the other day, two Coptic Christian families were shot and killed, a total of 11 people, including children.

It leaves me speechless, and incredibly sad. So, I will return to Ms. Powers' post:
[snip] As a liberal, I have a very hard time with the idea that I’m not supposed to care about a potential government that is oppressive to minorities and women.

During the last elections, the Brotherhood's slogan was “Islam is the solution.” Its logo is a black flag with a sword and the Koran.


I spent much of yesterday interviewing American experts on the region—including two Brookings Institution scholars who are experts on the Muslim Brotherhood—and was reassured over and over that the organization has reformed and does not seek to establish a fundamentalist state. One claimed that Brotherhood officials have said they view Copts as equal citizens.

My relative laughed at this. He says when Brotherhood members have been asked about how they would treat Christians they are vague. When asked about whether they would nationalize the banks, they are vague. Even one of the Brookings scholars told me that the Brotherhood would probably segregate the sexes. This is far from a secular group.

I had a similar reaction when an old friend tried to claim that the BBC said the Muslim Brotherhood was moderate now, and opposed to violence (something not in the Profile they did). This organization gave birth to the likes of Hamas and Al Qaeda, and we are honestly supposed to believe this organization, which helped fuel the recent protests, has changed their stripes, with a slogan like, "Islam Is The Solution" (and, "Resistance Is Futile?")? Uh, sure, okay.

Ms. Powers seems to be of the same opinion:
Our family in Egypt always makes the point that if the current regime—which is considered moderate and quasi-secular—arrests people who convert from Islam to Christianity, what do you think it will be like if power is seized by a group that has as its explicit goal the spread of Islam?

One of the things I consistently hear from the Egyptian Christians I know is that Islamists know the right things to say in order to gain power. They are sophisticated. They are especially astute at telling Westerners what they want to hear.


As a liberal, I have a very hard time with the idea that I’m not supposed to care about a potential government that is oppressive to minorities and women. I also do not support theocracies—Muslim, Christian or otherwise even if they aren't fundamentalist. If find it strange that so many American liberals aren’t concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated mission to “spread Islam.” It’s hard to imagine them being so unconcerned about a Christian political group with the stated mission of establishing a Christian theocracy gaining power in a new government.

If the Muslim Brotherhood wants to evangelize Islam on its own time that is fine; but it shouldn't be able to use government power to do so. I should also note that it is already against the law for Christians to share their faith in Egypt—and that’s under a quasi-secular government. (Human Rights Watch last year accused Egypt of “widespread discrimination” against Christians and other religious minorities.)

This isn’t to say that Mubarak deserves our support. He's an oppressive dictator. But all the Americans who are supporting the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the new government need to understand who they really are. Beyond my own personal concern for the treatment of Christians and women, fundamentalist Islamic governments generally aren’t known for being pro-American.

I shared with my Egyptian relative that most experts I spoke to here believe that Turkey is the model that Egypt will follow.

Again, laughter. (Click here to read the rest.)

Yeah, I bet. But I'm not laughing. Again, I have to ask, why does Obama have so many connections to this organization? How can that possibly be, and why are so few people concerned about that given for what they stand?

And in all honesty, I am thankful I had a chance to go to Egypt when I did. Muslims of the Brotherhood variety don't deal too well with people of my persuasion, or gender, for that matter. Because for what the Muslim Brotherhood stands, "Islam is the Solution," is to promote Sharia Law. Let me give you just a few more examples of what that means for, oh, let's just begin with homosexuals (from Top Ten Reasons Why Sharia Is Bad For All Societies):
In February 1998, the Taliban, who once ruled in Afghanistan, ordered a stone wall to be pushed over three men convicted of sodomy. Their lives were to be spared if they survived for 30 minutes and were still alive when the stones were removed.

In its 1991 Constitution, in Articles 108—113, Iran adopted the punishment of execution for sodomy.

In April 2005, a Kuwaiti cleric says homosexuals should be thrown off a mountain or stoned to death.

On April 7, 2005, it was reported that Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for 'gay conduct.'

Anyone want to take bets on how long those men survived having a stone wall pushed over on them? Yeah, I wouldn't take that bet, either.

How do women fare? Well, heaven help you if you are married:
[snip] The Quran says:
4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (MAS Abdel Haleem, the Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004)

The hadith says that Muslim women in the time of Muhammad were suffering from domestic violence in the context of confusing marriage laws:

Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az—Zubair Al—Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" (Bukhari)

This hadith shows Muhammad hitting his girl—bride, Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr: Muslim no. 2127:

'He [Muhammad] struck me [Aisha] on the chest which caused me pain.'

Oh, sure, that's the old school talk. But hey - you can check out this cleric describing the proper way for a man to beat his wife a year ago in Egypt. Wait until you see the justification for it:

Well, okay then - as long as you don't curse her when you beat her, then things are just peachy keen.

Good grief. Oh, there is so, so much more to Sharia Law along these same lines.

Tell me again why, and how, Obama is so connected to the Brotherhood? How is it he asked a member of an outlawed group to attend his big speech? Why does he keep pushing for them to have a seat at the table?? I really want to know.

What will it take to break through Americans' naivete about Egypt, about the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sharia Law? I'm with Ms. Powers. I am not okay with Egypt being given over to Islamic Rule, for women, for Christians, for the stability of the Middle East, and the impact on Israel.

I can only think of our lovely tour guide, how proud she was of how far women had come in her country, how they only had to wear the hijab, that they were able to work, and go to school. I hope, and pray, for her sake and all the women there, that Egypt does not give over to the conservative elements. I guess this is one of the times that, truly, only time will tell.