September 2008


By Ray LeMoine

Wasilla, AK

One of the most devious policy’s Sarah Palin backed as mayor of Wasilla was the charging of rape victims for post-crime exams. It’s especially damning considering Alaska leads the nation in rape and sexual assault by a factor of two. I’ve written about Palin and rape here and here. Finally the story’s gone big-time national, hitting the Times’ editorial page and sky-rocketing to the number one most emailed story on nyt.com. Here’s the whole must-read piece:

September 26, 2008
EDITORIAL OBSERVER
Wasilla Watch: Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits

By DOROTHY SAMUELS
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.

Ms Samuels’ hunch that Palin’s policy was “the result of outmoded attitudes and boneheaded budget cutting” contradicts what many in Wasilla and Anchorage told me. In fact, rather than attitude and budgets it was the inclusion of morning after pills in the rape kits that made Palin cut the program.

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By Ray LeMoine
This photo leads the Washington Post’s website right now:

Yup, a guy wearing lime green high top Chucks and shants vacuuming a carpet. There’s a debate tonight, of course, but is this really the image America needs to see today? WaMu merged with Morgan. Bailout talks are on-going. Somali pirates hijacked a ship with 13 Russian tanks. Russia gave Chavez $1 billion for arms. McCain just landed in Oxford. But those green Chucks and vac-pack are so newsworthy!

By Ray LeMoine

Not only did House Republican leader John Boehner (OH) crash Paulson and Bush’s bailout party in the Roosevelt Room last night, he also promotes the RNC’s best all night parties.

Boehner’s the guy who stalled the bailout talks last night. He hates Commies and can’t believe Bush and the GOP are about to nationalize $700 billion in Wall St assets.

But when he’s at a Republican Convention, Boehner’s DC’s own Richie Akiva! Via The Hill:

Boehner’s “Best Little Warehouse” parties got their start at the 1996 GOP convention in San Diego and continued in Philadelphia in 2000. The New York party in 2004 went into the wee hours of the morning and boasted 68 corporate sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Eli Lilly and Sallie Mae. The so-called Boehner Warehouse Party will live on in Minneapolis-St. Paul, although House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) name will not be found on any official material or invite.

And please don’t call it the Boehner Warehouse Party anymore, even if everybody knows that’s what it is, GOP lobbyists warn with a wince. New ethics rules passed in 2007 bar corporate-sponsored parties honoring individual members of Congress, and corporations and lobbyists are on high alert not to violate them.

I atteneded the final night of Boehner’s party this year. It was held in a 2000 capacity space, split into two rooms, with live rock and blues in each, and a bunch of open bars. At about 330am I beat up a young Republican after he knocked off my Convention hat. The cops were called, and they threw me out, then shut the party down.

By Ray LeMoine

A girl I used to live with worked for the company that licensed Agent P’s fragrances. Thanks to her, I got exposure to the British lingerie company’s sleazy style. So here’s a picture of 19-year-old Daisy Lowe at an AP fragrance launch in London this week. Daisy’s a Primrose Hill hottie who dated the non-lesbo but still (closeted) gay Mark Ronson.

By Ray LeMoine

Milan Fashion Week still better than war

More fighting between US and Pakistan:

Two American OH-58 reconnaissance helicopters, known as Kiowas, were on a routine afternoon patrol in the eastern province of Khost when they received small-arms fire from a Pakistani border post

By Ray LeMoine
Ye Ole Miss, Oxford, MS.


Networks predict audiences of 100 million for tomorrow’s debate–if McCain doesn’t cancel.

I had the bad luck of hearing the new Kings of Leon record last night. Man, what shit. This band is Exhibit A as for why I’m on a guitar boycott. The dude’s voice sounds like the guy from Barenaked Ladies (Chickity China the Chinese chicken/Have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin’ ) doing a bad Skynard impersonation, or Blues Traveler (Suck it in suck it in suck it in, If you’re Rin Tin Tin) meets the Crue circa Dr Feelgood. Yes, that bad…

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