Wasilla Watch: Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits
Even in tough budget times, there are lines that cannot be crossed. So I was startled by this tidbit reported recently by The Associated Press: When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the small town began billing sexual-assault victims for the cost of rape kits and forensic exams.
Ms. Palin owes voters an explanation. What was the thinking behind cutting the measly few thousand dollars needed to cover the yearly cost of swabs, specimen containers and medical tests? Whose dumb idea was it to make assault victims and their insurance companies pay instead? Unfortunately, her campaign is shielding the candidate from the press, so Americans may still be waiting for answers on Election Day.
The rape-kit controversy is a troubling matter. The insult to rape victims is obvious. So is the sexism inherent in singling them out to foot the bill for investigating their own case. And the main result of billing rape victims is to protect their attackers by discouraging women from reporting sexual assaults.
That’s why when Senator Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, drafted the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, he included provisions to make states ineligible for federal grant money if they charged rape victims for exams and the kits containing the medical supplies needed to conduct them. (Senator John McCain, Ms. Palin’s running mate, voted against Mr. Biden’s initiative, and his name has not been among the long list of co-sponsors each time the act has been renewed.)
That’s also why, when news of Wasilla’s practice of billing rape victims got around, Alaska’s State Legislature approved a bill in 2000 to stop it.
“We would never bill the victim of a burglary for fingerprinting and photographing the crime scene, or for the cost of gathering other evidence,” said Alaska’s then-governor, Tony Knowles. “Nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies.”
If Ms. Palin ever spoke out about the issue, one way or another, no record has surfaced. Her campaign would not answer questions about when she learned of the policy, strongly supported by the police chief: whether she saw it in the budget and if not, whether she learned of it before or after the State Legislature outlawed the practice.
All the campaign would do was provide a press release pronouncing: “Prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault is a priority for Gov. Palin.”
Eric Croft, a former Democratic state lawmaker who sponsored the corrective legislation, believes that Wasilla’s mayor knew what was going on. (She does seem to have paid heed to every other detail of town life, including what books were on the library’s shelves.)
The local hospital did the billing, but it was the town that set the policy, Mr. Croft noted. That policy was reflected in budget documents that Ms. Palin signed.
Mr. Croft further noted that right after his measure became law, Wasilla’s local paper reported that Ms. Palin’s handpicked police chief, Charlie Fannon, acknowledged the practice of billing to collect evidence for sexual-assault cases. He complained that the state was requiring the town to spend $5,000 to $14,000 a year to cover the costs. “I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer,” the chief explained.
“I can’t imagine any police chief, big city or small, who would take on the entire State Legislature on a bill that passed unanimously and not mention to their mayor that they’re doing this,” Mr. Croft said. Even if he didn’t inform her, the newspaper article would have been hard for her to miss.
In the absence of answers, speculation is bubbling in the blogosphere that Wasilla’s policy of billing rape victims may have something to do with Ms. Palin’s extreme opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape. Sexual-assault victims are typically offered an emergency contraception pill, which some people in the anti-choice camp wrongly equate with abortion.
My hunch is that it was the result of outmoded attitudes and boneheaded budget cutting. Still, Ms. Palin has been governor for under two years, and she’s running for vice president largely on her experience as mayor of tiny Wasilla — a far superior credential, she’s told us, to being a community organizer. On the rape kits, as on other issues, she owes voters a direct answer.
It is a beautiful day here, again.
We are blessed by the weather gods.
My intention is to see if I can ignore the news until about five my time this evening.
Since the debates, or one speech maybe, will be during our dinner-time, I am trying to think of appropriate food.
It has the air of the Super Bowl, but nachos and pizza don't seem quite right. Perhaps, in honor of Obama, a tasteful salad with some local cheese and a glass of Syrah are appropriate.
Zebulen sent me on a search for books that have influenced me. I returned to Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. One takes "tests," and discovers their five top signature strengths.
Curiosity and interest in the world.
Love of Learning.
Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence.
Capacity to love and be loved.
They are equally distributed for me, so I got 100% on each of these and my strengths are important to remember on what feels like such an important day.
If you are interested, you can check Seligman out and take some tests at: http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx
I think the book is the way to go, and the site can entice you into that, which may lead you to a tome, Character Strengths and Virtues, by Peterson and Seligman. I must admit I bought the tome, but haven't read it, and now it sits on my desk, inviting, saying, now is the time. I don't know what this day brings, but I do know the importance of each of us celebrating our strengths, virtues, and even weaknesses, each moment of the day.
Watching a man disconnect from his soul and flail about is sad, and is an inducement for each of us to nurture a stronger hold and honoring of what fuels our soul. What else do we really have, but a firm connection to Source, and what matters is how each of us manifests the diversity and unification of the whole.
I have read a great deal lately on the difference between how Democrats and Republicans view the world. I think we are all aware of the Democratic good father model vs. the harsh, patriarchal Republican father, but I think I got a deeper sense of it when I read an article by Robert Novak on Slate this morning.
He seemed surprised that the Kennedy family would put politics aside and ignore his insults over the years and support him and be kind to him in regards to his brain surgery.
I may be generalizing but I think Democrats believe in change. They live change, because they are adventurous and curious. They try things out. They know they may be rich now, but things could change, and they might be poor tomorrow, so they want a social network. I think there is a rigidity to the Republican stance that stifles life, movement, acceptance, and the recognition of forgiveness and moving on. Again, I may be generalizing, but it is my only explanation for how one votes for or against social programs, and for why one would be surprised that a family would reach a hand toward you in illness despite your diatribe against them over the the years.
Perhaps it is also why the Democrats struggle more with vicious ads and attack on character. They know character can change and the issues are what should be discussed. What matters is providing a safety net for us all, and the ways of doing that may be in flux, but let's start.
I also see how firmly hate comes back and blasts the sender. It is a boomerang.
Here is one of my favorite poems on the subject of hate.
I have landed here
Falls off the shelf
And years form the mind
Caroom, lost to the next thing
Does this compute?
To act dumb, to say nothing can be done
Out the door, the table
It would not be our plight to witness
Human, the blue sky
All's to be done, and then
Yet give up, fight
And it is us to prove a point
Hate is like throwing a handful of shit
Onto a red hot ingot
You have to pick it up first
"Remember, it's a television show," said Alan Schroeder, Northeastern University associate professor of journalism and author of "Presidential Debates: Fifty Years of High-Risk TV." "Television is not an intellectual medium. It's an emotional one."
The best advice: "After the debate is over, turn off your television and make up your own decision," said Aaron Zelinsky, editor of Presidentialdebateblog.com. "Don't wait to be spun by the post-debate commentary. I hope to put guys like me out of business."
We need to remember this is not a sporting event. This is the future of our country, for ourselves and generations. What Barack Obama represents is change at a fundamental level and a firm acceptance of entry into the global world.
McCain Wins Debate
Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 09:20:05 AM PDT
Barack Obama might as well go back to his suspiciously unsuspended campaign, because John McCain has already won tonight's debate.
"McCain Wins Debate!" declares the ad which features a headshot of a smiling McCain with an American flag background. Another ad spotted by our eagle-eyed observer featured a quote from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis declaring: "McCain won the debate-- hands down."
And now we know how McCain intends to deal with the nation's economic crisis -- they've invented time travel.
Having come up with technology so advanced McCain can win the debate before he even announced whether he'd show up for the debate, the Republican team is ready to go on to their brilliant plan to save the nation from its current fiscal crisis. The McCain campaign isn't putting out all the details, but it involves sending Sarah Palin back in time with a moose rifle. If McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm suddenly vanishes into a puff of smoke, you know she's been successful.
I watched the debate and listened to the commentary on KQED. It sounds like all agree that McCain was the strongest he's been, and Obama did what he needed to do, and looked and spoke in a presidential and experienced manner, and had the edge, especially if you want a change. Obama showed he can do it. He has the experience. He has a plan. He and McCain differ, and there is a clear choice between the two.
I thought they each stayed on-message, and agree there are no stand-out phrases to banter about, but that seems like a plus to me. I don't think the presidency should be chosen on a sound-bite. I was a bit startled by Obama's closing, that children around the world may not look up to us as they once did, that the young may not come here as his father did, and I think, unfortunately, it is the truth. I think Obama is the honesty we need as to our current stature in the world. We've been sugar-coated and given pablum long enough. The economy says it all. Obama offers leadership, a global look at the world, vision, and change.
I thought Barack's comment on McCain and his narrow lens on Iraq was right on. McCain did a great deal of repeating. Obama kept giving us his points and there are many. I like how Obama says 1, 2, 3, 4. McCain just kind of muddles on and often went over his time and kept going and spoke when it wasn't his turn. I didn't think that served him well. It made him look desperate, and I want a president who can listen and cooperate. I think McCain's use of the word "maverick" is sounding lame, and brings to mind Palin which is not a positive. McCain did not mention his vice-presidential pick at all, whereas Barack pointedly did, emphasizing the foreign and domestic policy experience of Biden. It was a lovely arrow.
The more I think on it, the more I see the power and strength of Obama and his responses. I think he did just what he needed to do.
I don't think McCain's insistence on winning Iraq serves him well right now when people are well aware we don't have the money for this war. Also, his tax ideas clearly make no sense and won't work. We've heard it before and today is proof it doesn't work.
I give a firm nod to Barack on the debate and hope the country agrees. I know that many of the already decided probably were not swayed, and I hope the undecideds are thinking Barack can get us back on track. He certainly showed that national security begins at home with educating our children, and that we reach out into the world with a willingness to recognize, talk and negotiate and we will stand firm where needed, though again I thought he made it clear that our financial vulnerability right now and huge debt put us greatly at risk as to being believed when we posture. He is asking us to look at the truth of the situation, and this last week may force the American people to do just that. I think people are aware the situation is dire. Willie Brown said a friend of his took $1500.00 out of Washington Mutual yesterday and put it in B of A. She was told it will be honored, but when she tried to take $100.00 out today, B of A said they still didn't have the money, and the money will probably be available October 2nd. This does not inspire confidence, and confidence is what we need right now, which is why I believe the bailout needs to pass, a bailout with restrictions, control, and something for the "little guy."
Kudos to Barack, the next president of the United States.