For senate, Caroline or Carolyn?

Caroline Kennedy strikes me as a very impressive woman with all the right priorities, such as education. But I also find it unseemly and undemocratic that she seems to have vaulted to the top of the Senate list by virtue of who her dad was. Seeing which way the wind is blowing, Rupert Murdoch’s NY Post has already endorsed her. Isn’t that sexist? Isn’t that the kind of system we rebelled against in 1776?

Governor Paterson is said to be drawn to appointing Caroline Kennedy to the senate because she would be a good fund-raiser who could be reelected in 2010 and would cast a glow around him and his issues. But we don’t want a plutocracy, we want a democracy. And frankly it is discouraging to see the way the system so often elevates particular families into politics, generation after generation, because of their names, bank accounts and Rolodexes. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are self-made exceptions, but we now have a president who rose in part because of who his father was, and there are many such cases.

After all, Beau Biden seems poised to succeed Joe Biden in the senate from Delaware, once his military service is completed. Ken Salazar’s senate seat from Colorado may be filled by his brother John. And here in New York State, we have a governor who is a second-generation politician who is choosing a senator from among such front-runners as a woman who is the daughter of a former president and a man who is the son of a former governor.

Leaping to anoint Caroline Kennedy also seems to me disrespectful of so many other women in New York politics who have worked for many years in Congress and accumulated tremendous experience and credentials. Think of Carolyn Maloney, who has been one of the great champions of women around the world on issues ranging from sex trafficking to reproductive health. Or Nita Lowey, likewise a formidable member of Congress with a great record of getting things done (who perhaps doesn’t want the senate seat). Isn’t it sexist to rush to support a woman because of her father, while ignoring other women who have earned their own substantial credentials in their own careers in Congress?

If Governor Paterson wants to replace Hillary Clinton with another woman, how about Carolyn rather than Caroline?

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"Thousands Made Slaves" in Darfur
BBC News: "Strong evidence has emerged of children and adults being used as slaves in Sudan's Darfur region, a study says. Kidnapped men have been forced to work on farmland controlled by Janjaweed militias, the Darfur Consortium says. Eyewitnesses also say the Sudanese army has been involved in abducting women and children to be sex slaves and domestic staff for troops in Khartoum." Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Commentary: If Clinton could do it, why not Kennedy?

Story Highlights
  • Roland Martin: When Hillary Clinton ran for Senate, she lacked usual background
  • N.Y. politicians deferred to Clinton and gave her the nomination, Martin says
  • Caroline Kennedy has a record of philanthropy and dedication to issues, he says
  • Martin: Kennedy's heart is in the right place, demonstrating compassion

CNN Editor's note: Join Roland S. Martin for his weekly sound-off segment on Live at 11:10 a.m. ET Wednesday. If you're passionate about politics, he wants to hear from you. A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information.

Roland Martin says the critics of Caroline Kennedy's Senate bid are wrong.

(CNN) -- When Hillary Clinton announced in November 1999 that she was running for the U.S. Senate to replace the legendary Sen. Patrick Moynihan, she had never cast a single vote as an elected officeholder. She had never put forth an agenda the voters could use to decide whether she was the best candidate.

Her resume?

First lady. Lawyer. Advocate for health care and children's issues.

That's it.

But when she made it clear that she was going to seek the job, the New York Democratic congressional delegation stepped aside, bowing to the wishes of the first lady, who had barely lived in New York state long enough to figure out where to find a great slice of pizza. Even Rep. Nita Lowey, who had spent 10 years in the House of Representatives and was considered the front-runner for the Senate seat, bowed out to accommodate the wishes of Clinton.

So here we are nine years later, and there is a huge fuss over Caroline Kennedy's decision to let New York Gov. David Paterson know that she desires the job.

It's rather pathetic to listen to the naysayers deride Kennedy's accomplishments and dismiss them as if she was a spoiled rich kid of a family who has bounced from Paris to Monaco to Dubai, living the high life, and all of a sudden deciding that she wants to ride the Kennedy name into elected office.

New York Rep. Gary Ackerman did his best to dismiss Kennedy's qualifications by saying that "she has name recognition -- but so does J-Lo."

Even Clinton's rabid supporters are trying to scuttle Kennedy's bid, still angry because she endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama over their candidate for president. Frankly, it's time you got the hell over it.

By the way, for all the Kennedy haters who are stuck on stupid when it comes to qualifications, go and read the U.S. Constitution. There are just three requirements as outlined by law for the seat:

"No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained to the age of 30 years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen."

That's it; end of conversation when it comes to the issue of qualifications. Anything beyond what the Constitution says is entirely subjective.

As a resident of the state of Texas who also resides in Illinois, I really don't give a hoot who represents New York in the U.S. Senate. But I am willing to call out sheer ignorance when it is operating in full glory.

I've met Caroline Kennedy just one time in my life, and that was in the CNN Grill at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. I said hello. She said hello. End of story. So I have no dog in this hunt.

But I find it intriguing to know that this candidate is someone who has spent years focusing on philanthropic issues that deal with education, health care, expanding America's interests in the arts, writing books dealing with the right to privacy and the Bill of Rights, showing a passion for civil rights and serving as a national board member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Instead of ripping her to shreds, maybe the haters should step back and recognize that here is a woman who understands public service. A notoriously private woman who is painfully shy in public, she clearly recognizes that we are in desperate need of people who care about the public good, and not necessarily amassing power on their way up the political ladder.

There are countless individuals in the U.S. House and Senate who sought the position because they actually wanted to change something. There are doctors, teachers, small-business owners -- all individuals who saw this nation going down the wrong path, and they desired to step up, rather than sit back and complain.

Paterson may choose a typical politician to fill the remaining two years of Clinton's term. But at least he can count on Kennedy's heart being in the right place -- having love and compassion for the people, which is the true measure of a public servant.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

Read more about it: Wikipedia entry on Caroline Kennedy
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Captive doctor returns to UK

BBC World News - Monday, 15 December 2008

Humayra Abedin is expected to return to the UK on Monday

An NHS doctor who was freed following claims that she was being held captive in Bangladesh by her parents is due to fly into the UK later.

Lawyers for trainee GP Humayra Abedin, 33, from east London, said her family planned to force her into marriage.

She had travelled to Dhaka in August after hearing her mother was very ill.

London's High Court had ordered her return to the UK under the new Forced Marriage Act and the High Court in Dhaka has now ruled she must be freed.

Lawyer Sara Hossain, representing Dr Abedin in Bangladesh, said her client was "very relieved" by the decision and had "clearly stated" that she wanted to return to the UK immediately.

Dr Abedin's parents had been ordered to appear at Dhaka's High Court with their daughter on Sunday.

She was later released into the custody of the court and handed over to the British High Commission. She is expected to return to Heathrow from Dhaka on Monday.

Judge Syed Mahmud Hossain said her parents' actions were "not acceptable".

Dr Abedin's father collapsed from shock after the court's ruling.

'Hope' for women

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka said Dr Abedin had been held captive first at her family's home and then at a psychiatric hospital following claims she was not able to make decisions for herself.

Anne-Marie Hutchinson was part of the legal team fighting for Dr Abedin's release

But she had managed to get messages to her friends in the UK about her plight who then notified the British authorities, he said.

She has chosen not to press charges against her parents.

Dr Abedin's UK lawyer, Anne-Marie Hutchinson, said there were currently up to 350 similar cases involving British women and she hoped the latest case would give them hope.

"What the ruling makes clear is that there is a right of redress," she said.

"I would hope that many other young victims, or potential victims, would feel confident enough now to come forward and feel confident in the fact that courts will act and authorities overseas will act on their human rights and implement them."

She added that, although forced marriage was already illegal in Bangladesh, it was significant that the judge had gone public with his ruling in demonstrating that such things were unacceptable.

An unnamed British victim of a forced marriage, who is now separated from her husband, told the BBC's Today programme the ruling was the "best news" for those facing similar situations.

"I think it will give a lot of hope to young girls out there," she said.

Court action

Dr Abedin arrived in Britain in September 2002, when she studied for a Masters degree in public health at Leeds University.

She had been due to start work in August at a GP surgery in east London, but travelled to Dhaka after being told that her mother was ill.

The British High Court had served her family with an injunction under the Forced Marriage Act ordering them to free their daughter and allow her to return to the UK.

However, this was not enforceable overseas because Dr Abedin is not a British national.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the order was issued in the hope that it might "carry some weight" within the Bangladeshi court system.

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