Maybe He Wanted It to be a Surprise

President Bush, remember him? After Black Monday he was expected to put his foot down, and tell the nation that there was no more funny money being printed up to bail out the stock market. They were going to have to take their losses like us peasants. But something caused a U-turn

WASHINGTON (AP) — With little explanation, President Bush on Tuesday scrapped a statement he planned to give on the tumultuous financial markets, abandoning any press coverage of his meeting with key economic advisers as more developments roiled Wall Street.

As announced by the White House, Bush was scheduled to make comments to a pool of reporters after huddling with a key financial working group led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Its members include Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other key government figures in the field of commerce.

Yet after the session began, the White House told the press never mind. Spokesman Tony Fratto said only: “We decided it would be best to limit public comment about markets today.” He declined to offer any explanation about why limiting Bush comment would be best, or why on this particular day.

Well, that was yesterday. Today I am thrilled to find out that my tax dollars have bought me a 1/3,000,000 interest in AIG. I can’t wait for the dividends to start rolling in. Happy days are here again.

Something Beautiful

Nice story in today’s Providence Journal about recognizing something precious in our midst every day. Pleasant Valley Parkway is a tiny green space tucked away behind Chalkstone Avenue with its own stream.

It emerges from under Academy Avenue to meander on its own through a grassy, tree-lined median between the lanes of Pleasant Valley Parkway, giving it a look that justifies the road’s name. It curves east after a few hundred yards, into a concrete channel built for it in the 1930s. Then it goes straight to a culvert under Davis Park, behind Roger Williams Hospital, where it vanishes until reappearing momentarily before joining the waters of the Woon-asquatucket River on their way to Waterplace Park, Narragansett Bay and, eventually, the Atlantic Ocean.

This year that anonymous stream will be getting a name: Pleasant Valley Stream.

It won’t be the only one. Six other streams in the watershed of the Woonasquatucket River — five in Smithfield, one in North Smithfield — and Pleasant Valley Stream have been nominated for naming by the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council.

Nothing changed but perception. That’s everything. Read the rest of the story here.

Lipstick on a Typo

To the McCain camp — nobody’s perfect, so let’s stop playing ‘gotcha’ and focus on the issues.

When Senator McCain delivered a speech this morning on the upheaval on Wall Street, he referred to several federal agencies and regulators that he pledged to reform to better serve both investors and the public. But in listing the organizations, he didn’t get all of the names right.

He referred twice to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, a government-mandated non-profit entity that restores funds to investors with assets in bankrupt or failing brokerage firms, according to its Web site. The acronym is SIPC, but Mr. McCain reversed the letters and both times read the initials aloud as “S-P-I-C.”

For Mr. McCain, the slip is doubly unfortunate coming just one day after he issued a statement in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

We have less than five weeks to pick a president. The candidates are all sleep-deprived and stressed. What we really need to know is what they will do if elected, because our future depends on it. Fiscal policy and international relations are less sexy than slips and gaffes, but if we care about our country we’ll study up, and get out and vote in November.

Crime and the Politics of Sexual Assault in Alaska

The previous post, ‘Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner–SANE’is intended to explain the forensic rape exam, which is in the news lately because the town of Wasilla, Alaska billed victims for the rape exam until the practice was outlawed by Governor Tony Knowles in May, 2000. This was during Sarah Palin’s tenure as Mayor, which ran from 1996-2002.

The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Wasilla’s local newspaper, covered a press conference on the new law and interviewed the Wasilla Police Chief, Charlie Fannon.

First, Governor Knowles…

We would never bill the victim of a burglary for fingerprinting and photographing the crime scene, or for the cost of gathering other evidence, Knowles said. Nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies.

Next Chief Fannon…

Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.
In the past we’ve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.

According to Fannon, the new law will cost the Wasilla Police Department approximately $5,000 to $14,000 a year to collect evidence for sexual assault cases.

Ultimately it is the criminal who should bear the burden of the added costs, Fannon said.

The forensic exam is just one part of the equation. I’d like to see the courts make these people pay restitution for these things, Fannon said.
Fannon said he intends to include the cost of exams required to collect evidence in a restitution request as a part of a criminals sentencing.

It’s hard to believe that the Chief of Police didn’t know that the vast majority of sexual assault cases do not end in a trial, never mind a conviction. It’s strange that he saw the rape exam as a burden on the taxpayer when his mandate is to fight crime. Losing potential evidence didn’t seem to concern him. The possibility that victims would be discouraged from seeking care because they lack health insurance, or fear being dropped from their insurance or losing their privacy–“the likelihood that rape will go unreported, doesn’t factor in.

And where was the Mayor? It’s one of the Mayor’s responsibilities to work closely with the Chief of Police. In the absence of any record of Mayor Palin publicly rebuking Chief Fannon for his statements it can only be assumed that she endorsed his view.

Why would a female Mayor not support a law that ended an unfair and harmful practice that affected mostly women? Why was she not receptive to victim’s advocate groups? One answer may be contained in the last two sentences of the news report. (As I have been cutting and pasting, I’ve put a link to the entire news story here.)

The new bill would also make law enforcement agencies that are investigating a sexual assault responsible for the costs of testing victims for sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraception.

The Day One SANE training manual includes nine single-space pages of a Catholic review of the ethics of emergency contraception. The essay concludes that it is permissible for a woman to use emergency contraception after a rape. There are more conservative religions that consider it an act of conscience to fail to offer, or to deny access to protection from an unwanted pregnancy. Women are denied emergency contraception in hospitals and at pharmacies, and laws are proposed to shield practitioners from any responsibility for any harm resulting.

A Mayor who belongs to a very conservative church might not welcome the discomfort of having her name associated with a practice that some call abortion. She might not want to go on record as supporting state funding for the morning after pill, even for victims of rape.

And crime victims are in a place no one wants to be, faced with decisions no one wants to have to make. No simple answers, no powerful lobby, and way too close to the violent misogyny that oppresses women worldwide.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner– SANE

It was 1989 at Women and Infants hospital. I was a counselor-advocate for a woman seeking emergency care after a rape. She told me she had been abducted by two men who talked about killing her. She managed to run away and hide in the woods. She was grateful to be alive.

We waited for hours in the busy emergency room. Triage demands that the most emergent patients be seen first, and a rape exam is low on the list.

Finally the doctor arrived. She rushed into the room and stared at my client coldly. ‘Is this the woman who was supposedly raped?’

I was shocked, but kept silent so that the doctor could do the exam and leave, and this exhausted woman could finally go home.

This woman was in pain, with wounds physical and emotional. No one wants to be her, no one wants to be in that place. I’ve often wondered whether the doctor’s contemptuous manner covered a fear that any woman, even she herself, could be a victim.

I volunteered for two years with the Rape Crisis Center, (now Day One), and quickly lost the illusion that women are the more nurturing sex. In fact, the doctor, police officer, or nurse you want is the one with respect and compassion. That person can be male or female. Women might be more empathetic in general, but that’s no help when you run into a woman like that doctor. There were many other doctors both male and female who were kind and professional. It’s character, not gender.

This summer Day One held a class for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). Nurses who complete the program take call to respond to an emergency room when needed. This spares victims a long wait and frees the emergency room doctors from having to take out time from other urgent needs. SANE nurses have a much better record of collecting evidence, documenting, and offering antibiotics and the ‘morning after’ pill to protect against sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy. The evidence collected from the rape exam can be crucial if a case goes to trial. DNA evidence can help to convict the guilty or exonerate the innocent.

The SANE program is not cheap. Emergency room services and trained professionals are needed. In Rhode Island State Crime Victim Compensation Program will pay the costs so that victims are not billed for their care.

This will remove a barrier to women, children, and men who are victims of sexual assault and need emergency care. Day One, formerly the Rhode Island Rape Crisis Center, can be reached at 421-4100. The Victims of Crime Helpline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-494-8100.

September 11, 2001

A beautiful September day like today, working in Dexter Manor highrise. Every TV had a group of worried tenants around it, wondering what would happen next. I was glad that my work mattered to me, and decided to work the best I could to spite whoever had done this. I worried about my child at school.

Walking around Providence, went to my church. The minister had the doors open and candles lit for anyone who needed a place to not be alone. I left and passed another open church, then walked into a church full of people singing and praying.

For the first time I saw the people on the sidewalks, in the cars, in the churches, as Americans — no more no less.

Three thousand working people in New York City murdered by hate and fanaticism. I knew the world would be worse, a line was crossed. It’s the world we live in now.

Good Pork, Bad Pork – Where’s the Beef?

Even I have to admit that reading too much of the left-wing blogs is not a balanced way to keep up with the news. I did see Sarah Palin give her acceptance speech, and she is a talented speaker, the crowd adored her, and clearly she speaks for many women and men who feel like their values have been ignored. And what a great word ‘values’. Kind of like ‘faith’. Uplifting but unspecific, so that everyone can assume that values means, ‘people like me’.

So getting down to specifics, has John McCain chosen a running mate who exemplifies his values and the agenda of his party? To start, let’s look at that left-wing broadsheet, The Economist…

From pork to petrodollars
Sep 4th 2008 | ANCHORAGE
From The Economist print edition

Sarah Palin’s home state is awash with money

JOHN MCCAIN’S decision to anoint Sarah Palin as his running-mate looks eccentric for many reasons. Not the least is economic principle. Thanks in part to Mrs Palin, Alaska’s economy is built on two things that Mr McCain has spent the last few years railing against.

The first is federal spending, especially the little-scrutinised grants known as earmarks. Between 1996 and 2006 per-capita federal spending in Alaska rose from 38% above the national average to 71% above. Scott Goldsmith, an economist, reckons a third of all jobs in the state depend on it. So needy are the citizens of the “last frontier� that the looming trial of Ted Stevens, Alaska’s senior senator and champion pork-rustler, for failing to disclose gifts is viewed not just as a political scandal but also as an economic threat.

Mrs Palin has been less single-minded in her pursuit of pork than other Alaskan politicians (which is, admittedly, setting the bar pretty high). But she can take credit for the other pillar of Alaska’s economy: windfall taxes. Last year she championed a tax hike on oil companies which is helping bring in huge sums—more than $10 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June, according to the companies that pay them. Suddenly flush, the state has promised $1,200 to every man, woman and child, ostensibly to cover the high cost of fuel.

In other words, if a President McCain keeps his promise and vetoes every bill that comes across his desk that contains earmarks it will be tough times in Alaska. From that radical rag, The Washington Post…

The senator from Arizona has made a crusade of battling pork-barrel “earmarks,” but the whopper here is the assertion that Palin opposed her state’s notorious Bridge to Nowhere. She endorsed the remote project while running for governor in 2006, claimed to be an opponent only after Congress killed its funding the next year, and has used the $223 million provided for it for other state ventures. Far from being an opponent of earmarks, Palin hired lobbyists to try to capture more federal funding.

Now, there’s been a back and forth as to whether Alaska is big (geographically), or small (population). So you can’t make a direct comparison between a state with huge distances and a state like Rhode Island, where you feel put-upon if you have to venture out to Woonsocket. So I’m wondering if any interviewer will ask Governor Palin to outline the specifics of her earmarks, and why they are not like the bad earmarks her running mate will veto.

Today’s Providence Journal has a headine, ‘Poll finds McCain gaining among those looking for change’. This to me is one of the weirdest things about the race. A long-term Republican politician running against the record of his own party. From a major newspaper of the decadent region of Appalachia, the Louisville Courier-Journal…

MITT ROMNEY (former Massachusetts governor): “We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

With all the talk about ‘change’ it would be easy to assume that the Republicans have been locked out of power for eight years, instead of running Washington. It’s like the good Republicans are promising to save us from the bad Republicans. And there’s good pork and bad pork. I hope someone will pin down Senator McCain to explain which kind of pork is nourishing and good for the Forth of July barbecue, and which kind is deadly, artery-clogging fat.