Tag Archives: President Clinton

Women’s History Month 2014: Janet Reno

11 Mar

Janet RenoToday I would like to honor and pay tribute to Janet Reno.  It was just 21 years ago today that Reno was confirmed as the first woman U.S. Attorney General by President Bill Clinton. The 75 year old Reno is from Miami, Florida where her father served as a police reporter for the Miami Herald.  Two defining moments in Reno’s career as Attorney General were: the standoff with David Koresh and his followers (known as the Branch Davidians) in Texas and the conviction of  Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh–two very dark and sad moments in our history. Reno took full responsibility for a bizarre turn of events in Waco with the Branch Davidians resulting in 76 deaths. Another defining moment under Reno’s tenure was the capture and conviction of Theodore “Ted” Kaczynski, the Unibomer.

Reno became one of the most respected members of the Clinton administration in its first term, known for launching innovative programs designed to steer non-violent drug offenders away from jail and espousing the rights of criminal defendants.  How sad that we do the exact opposite today, trying to  steer all purported criminals to jail. In effect, we build a criminal system, rather than a justice system.  Not a big surprise that Reno suffered great misogynistic attacks from the Republican party.

Although she left public life after serving her tenure as Attorney General, Reno reappeared to testify before the federal 9/11 commission in 2004 and voiced her opposition to some of the nation’s antiterrorism policies (racial profiling) through a legal brief in 2006.  Sadly, we know that  racial profiling against people of color remains just as disproportionate as it did in 2006. The irony is not lost on the fact that some of the worst terrorist attacks in our country have been perpetrated by white heterosexual men.

Reno continues to fight for issues around social justice and tries to keep people OUT of prisons: she serves on the board of directors for the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization which assists prisoners who could be exonerated through DNA testing. Brava, to our Janet Reno.  I wish there were more people working to address the disparities and inhumanity of the prison systems.

Discharging Clinton’s Legacy

20 Sep

Repealed after 18 years

Today is a significant moment in the Civil Rights movement for the LGBT community.  While I am happy that today marks the end of the military’s  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, I can’t help but worry about how slowly the wheels of progress move and how safe our LGBT brothers and sisters will actually be from their own ranks.

18 years ago, it was President Clinton who capitulated to the Republican bullies and instituted the DADT policy.  Let us not forget the chief bullies that played center stage during the Clinton years, Ken Starr and Linda Tripp, better known as Boris and Natasha.  One need not look hard to see Democratic Presidents capitulating to Republican bullies.

While the Pentagon has made statements that the military is now ready and has been trained to work with the LGBT community, the reality is that we know many of our LGBT soldiers are still going to be bullied by their peers.  I have heard the “higher ups” state that they will enforce the new policies regardless if they agree with them. I worry about LGBT soldiers fear of reporting abuse or harassment; feels rather like our Anita Hill having to report sexual harassment to her then boss and abuser, Clarence Thomas–we all know how well that turned out.  If only we could discharge that legacy of Bush Sr.

For today, I shall put aside my skepticism, and celebrate a move towards civil rights and equality for the LGBT community.  Now, let us get to the business of repealing DOMA!

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 29

29 Mar

Honoring Madeleine Albright

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Madeleine Albright. Albright was the first woman to become Secretary of State in the U.S. under the Clinton Administration. Rather sad that it was not until 1997 that we finally had our first woman Secretary of State. Let’s hope we see the first woman President in my lifetime.

I know the right wing hate anything that smacks of intelligence, given the anti-intellectual platforms from the Tea Party and our former President, so I imagine Albright, who is fluent in five different languages, has many detractors on the far right. Albright is an alumna of  Wellesley College, where she was on a full scholarship.

Albright has a great understanding of how we are all connected and how we must see our selves as global citizens. Albright is even critical of the UN and of herself regarding the genocide in Rwanda:

My deepest regret from my years in public service is the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt these crimes.

Even now, Albright is a diplomat for social justice. She currently serves as an Honorary Chair for the World Justice Project. The  World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.

My hope is that as a nation we will see the value in having intellectually superior leaders in the US representing us on the world stage and not someone that shows great disdain for the power of intellect.

Celebrating Black History Month: February 18

18 Feb

Honoring The Queen of Soul

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Aretha Franklin. There is only one Queen of Soul, and that is Ms. Aretha Franklin. With a total of 20 Grammy Awards, Franklin had ten Number 1 R&B albums – more than any other female artist – between the years 1967 and 1982.  In 1987, Frankin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame.  Ms. Franklin performed at both President Clinton’s first inauguration and President Obama’s inauguration. Much of Franklin’s early work was influenced by the amazing Mahalia Jackson. Franklin’s first breakthrough hit was I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), which I love, but not as much as (what used to be called the B side of the ’45) Do Right Woman. Of course, her second single, and I would describe it as her signature, was Respect (written by Otis Redding); it’s also the ring tone on my cell phone. Both Respect and Think became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement. Another one of my favorites is The House that Jack Built.  I would be remiss if I did not tip my hat to Natural Woman. Finally, I would like to dedicate Chain of Fools to John Boehner and the GOP.

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