Watch Out Bristol, Mike Huckabee is Gunning for “Privileged” Unwed Mothers

Guest blogger Michael Rowe

The writing of Michael Rowe is wondrous to let flow unto your brain.

Michael is one of my fellow Huffington Post writers. This past August I read an HP piece of his (What it Says About Us When a 17-Month-Old Boy Is Beaten to Death for “Acting Like a Girl) that was so well done I had to write him to express my admiration for it. Thus began our friendship.

This weekend, Michael wrote and submitted to Huffington Post the piece below. Alas, it did not receive on HP the play it deserves. (Which is understandable: HP takes in massive numbers of submissions, some of the best of which are bound to now and then slip through the cracks.)

“Obviously, I’m no HufPo,” I wrote to Michael. “But if you’re up for it, I’d of course be pleased to publish your latest on my own blog. I know my readers would dig it.”

Am I right about that?

By the gracious courtesy of Mr. Rowe, I hereby present to you his latest flash of brilliance.

 

Watch Out Bristol, Mike Huckabee is Gunning

for “Privileged” Unwed Mothers

by Michael Rowe

 

Promoting his new book this week, Mike Huckabee took aim at this year’s Best Actress Oscar-winner and soon-to-be wife and mother, Natalie Portman, as a bad example for American girls. The actress, who won the Oscar for Black Swan, is carrying a child by her fiancé, dancer Benjamin Millepied. According to the pair, they plan to be married soon. While it was nice of them to share the news of their impending nuptials with their fans, it’s certainly none of Mike Huckabee’s business.

From the New York Times:

“People see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts, ‘we’re not married but we’re having these children and they’re doing just fine,’” Huckabee told conservative radio host Michael Medved Monday. “I think it gives a distorted image. It’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of- wedlock children.”

From US Magazine:

Unlike movie star Portman, he argued, “Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care.”

Leaving aside how hard the Republicans have worked to ensure lack of affordable health care for unwed mothers (and most anyone else, for that matter) or the fact that “Hollywood starlets” and “the Hollywood elite” are, to Republicans, the political moral equivalent of the dog that everyone in the family blames when they pass gas — an easy blame receptacle, in the absence of gays, feminists, or Democrats whenever they need to highlight the moral decline in America — the notion of Huckabee singling out Portman for his scarlet letter is fascinating.

One has to ask, since Mike Huckabee has tried to slut-shame Portman as a privileged, “boasting” unwed mother with money and childcare at her disposal (unlike “most” unwed mothers, according to him) whether he will now risk the wrath of Palin, Inc. by daring to go a step further and take a swipe at Bristol Palin, the most privileged ex-teen unwed mother in America? Or is the point not “unwed mothers” at all, especially not the daughters of fellow Republicans, but rather “Hollywood starlets” and their immoral ilk?

Miss Palin herself famously escaped Republican “unwed mother” opprobrium during her mother’s campaign for vice president. The GOP elite kept admirably straight faces, in 2008, as Sarah Palin bawled out her “traditional family values” and “teen abstinence” message on the stump, with her increasingly fecund daughter (and said daughter’s star-crossed fiancé) by her side.

In the ensuing years, Bristol Palin became a spokeswoman for teenage abstinence, warning other young women about the costs of unwed motherhood — costs she, as an unwed mother from a privileged background and no shortage of familial support, never actually had to pay.

Further along, she became a tabloid staple and a reality-television “star,” patrolling the Alaskan tundra with her mother’s cable TV entourage and galloping across the stage of Dancing With the Stars. Oh, and pulling in a reported $30,000 per speaking engagement.

Somewhere in the midst of all that glamour, she finished high school, and now, at 20, is apparently preparing to share her wisdom with the world in a memoir,Not Afraid of Life.

The book, according to the breathless Morrow press release, will detail “the highs and lows of her appearance on ABC-TV’s ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ including the aching hours of practice, the biting criticisms, and the thrill of getting to the show’s finals. She speaks candidly of her aspirations for the future and the deep religious faith that gives her strength and inspiration.”

One can only wish the still-unmarried Miss Palin well. God bless America, where no gimmick is ever dismissed out of hand if there’s a buck to be made.

That said, in the spirit of political equanimity, Mr. Huckabee might consider backing off Miss Portman, the Academy Award-winning, Harvard-educated, self-made mutli-millionaire “Hollywood starlet” who, even if she wasn’t actually engaged and showing every sign of actually winding up married to Mr. Millepied, could take care of any child she chose to bring into the world.

Picking and choosing which “unwed mothers” to throw under the bus as one’s presidential campaign gets underway seems churlish and partisan, to say the least.

While it seems unlikely, with the 2012 election cycle on the horizon, that Republican presidential candidates will be leaving their obsession with other people’s sexual morality at home any time soon, it would be nice if they would diversify that outrage to include, for example, moral outrage at the wholesale slaughter of men and women in self-generated wars, or American families having to choose between homelessness and medical care, or American children who don’t have enough to eat before they go to school in the morning.

That, and square their obsession with the perils of “unwed motherhood” with a ramped-up war on the right of women’s reproductive freedom and sovereignty over their own bodies.

If they could do those things, it might be easier to listen to their tut-tutting nonsense about movie stars like Natalie Portman. On the other hand, with that sort of diversification, they probably wouldn’t be 21st century Republicans at all.

*****

Michael Rowe is an award-winning independent journalist who has lived in Beirut, Havana, Geneva, and Paris. His work has appeared in the National Post, the Globe & Mail, The United Church Observer and numerous other publications. He has been a finalist for both the Canadian National Magazine Award and the Associated Church Press Award in the United States. The author of several books, including Writing Below the Belt, a critically acclaimed study of censorship, pornography, and popular culture, and the essay collections Looking For Brothers and Other Men’s Sons, which won the 2008 Randy Shilts Award for Nonfiction, he has also won the Lambda Literary Award. He is a contributing writer to The Advocate. In 2009, The Atlantic Monthly’s Andrew Sullivan nominated Rowe for the Michael Moore Award “for divisive, bitter and intemperate left-wing rhetoric” for his work on The Huffington Post. He considered it his proudest moment as a new media journalist to date. Website: www.michaelrowe.com

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

    Oh Bravo Mr. Rowe. You beautifully displayed just one of the aspects I find highly troubling about the conservative/Christian/political movement.

    Thanks John for giving this piece some extra coverage. It certainly deserved it.

  • Rebecca

    so spot-on….the thrill of modern technology and the internet for me is all wrapped up in reading someone else’s words that say EXACTLY what I would say if I was good at that sort of thing. Thank you, Mr Rowe.

    It did get me wondering, however….why is it that the truth is so evident in your words, but when I re-post this on FB and ask people to comment (I’m one of those gluttons who like to debate my virtual friendies) my conservative friends will see no truth in these words, or at least not admit any truth? I always wonder if anyone actually READS something like this, at least anyone who thinks Huckabee is just “telling it like it is”….you can always depend on some non-readers to comment nonsensically. But how can someone who is truly conservative not see the truth when written so eloquently?

    I guess it’s true I’m not reading Palin’s or Beck’s or Huckabee’s words often, so perhaps this is understandable. Still amazes me that no one seems interested in seeing perspectives different from their own…

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

      I wonder if the real problem is a disconnect with average people. It’s easy to criticize, malign, discredit those you don’t bother getting to know. I Wonder if it also represents a disconnect with American culture. There is a lot of talk about ending teen pregnancy, eradicating abortion, etc, but little on solutions other then the abstinent choice. Obviously that didn’t work for Jesus’ mother.

      (ok, I’ll lower my snark meter, just a bit)

  • DR

    I adore him. ADORE.

    • DR

      Michael Rowe, not Huckabee. That should have been obvious. !!

  • Donald Rappe

    Don’t forget to vote!

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers wondered if this wasn’t really an attempt to cut off Palin from a presidential run. Blaming Bristol directly would only incur the wrath of Palin & her fans while garner sympathy from potential voters, but attacking a “librul” Hollywood actress would let him also get a shot at Palin & her family in such a way that they couldn’t respond w/o seeming to defend Portman at the same time.

    • Diana A.

      Yeah, that occurred to me too.

  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

    As is so often the case, Gov. Huckabee spoke without thinking.

    And I say that as someone who supported him in 2008. (Something I’m trying to forget more and more lately …)

    It is, though, a running theme in Republican moralization. While Bill Clinton and John Edwards were horrible adulterers, Newt Gingrich, David Vitter, Ronald Reagan, etc. get free passes.

    Much of the Right doesn’t bat an eye at the irony of calling themselves supporters of “family values” while listening to the thrice-divorced Rush Limbaugh say that the only reason to watch women’s sports is to ogle women.

    The Republicans have more than enough planks in their own eyes, they should stop going after specks for a VERY long time.

  • Valerie

    He may misspoke a bit but look at your alternative for president. Palin oh come on. Well the reason most Christians vote with the most conservative candidate which usually ends up being republican. Just vote your conscience people whatever candidate or party.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

      I always vote my conscience. I take the time to look at a candidate’s views are in relations to the relevance to the position he holds, and any public decision making records he may have. I then compare the public statements with the public decisions to make my choices. I then decide if those relevant issues line up with how I feel would be the best way to work in the position they are vying for. Based on that I make my decision.

      Interestingly, one’s religious preference, how many times they espouse “family values” or their bashing of the other party’s candidates have one iota in how I make that decision. In fact it may serve to turn me against that candidate entirely. I am a Christian, but that isn’t a criteria for the best qualified candidate in my opinion.

      Last election, the only republicans who met that standard of decision making were running unopposed. I didn’t like a couple of the DNC candidates for the same reason, so voted third party on those.

  • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

    “In 2009, The Atlantic Monthly’s Andrew Sullivan nominated Rowe for the Michael Moore Award “for divisive, bitter and intemperate left-wing rhetoric” for his work on The Huffington Post. He considered it his proudest moment as a new media journalist to date.”

    I can only assume Mr. Rowe is still very proud of himself. Talk about vitriol.

    • Michael Rowe

      A commendable, deeply-thought out, reasoned commentary on the facts of the story in question, Margaret. Your insight into the question of conservative double-standards when it comes to politicians taking swipes at Academy Award winners with a 4.0 grade point average from Harvard for being pregnant is a credit to the vast intellectual capacities of the American conservative Christian right wing. Brilliant.

    • DR

      Maragaret so far all you’ve brought to this conversation is some drive-by passive-aggressive comment shootings but that’s just not going to work anymore, people are on to Conservatives and their righteous indignation when someone is “mean” while many in your party are obsessed with the President being a (whispered softly) “Muslim” who (whispered softly with some side eye) “doesn’t have a birth certificate”. So excuse me if your righteous indignation doesn’t exactly hold much water when there is radio silence to the savage, intentional rhetoric coming out of Right’s mouth (in the name of Jesus).

      Speak out just as loudly as the rumor-mongering, reputation-killing people in your own party and then maybe – maybe – you’ll have the moral authority to speak out against someone who is exposing some very necessary truths that are uncomfortable to view. And is making people furious in the process.

      Conversely, you could add some actual facts to the dialogue as well. Either way.

  • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

    From Palin to Portman: An Inconsistent Truth

    Mr. Rowe writes, “In the ensuing years, Bristol Palin became a spokeswoman for teenage abstinence, warning other young women about the costs of unwed motherhood — costs she, as an unwed mother from a privileged background and no shortage of familial support, never actually had to pay.”

    While I feel with Mr. Rowe, and other commenters here, the pain of recognizing the obvious lack of cognitive dissonance in Mr. Huckabee’s remarks as it relates to his omitting to vilify Ms. Palin in like manner as he did Miss Portman, I disagree that Ms. Palin never had to pay a price.

    While it is true that had Ms. Palin been the pregnant unwed daughter of a democratic vice presidential candidate we would have likely heard no end to the fit throwing from the Conservative Right and pious pontifications about the lack of morals on the Left, since the candidate was a Republican and well liked, the less than ideal situation was spun to promote their pro-life agenda. How Karl Rove of them. Instead of Ms. Palin being cast as a poor role model to the abstinence movement, she is now a brave and courageous young woman for not taking the “easy way out” and is a good role model for the pro-life movement. True, “God bless America, where no gimmick is ever dismissed out of hand if there’s a buck to be made” writes Mr. Rowe, but also never dismiss a golden opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade by pushing the pro-life agenda when there are votes on the line.

    The political playbook take away from all this: No matter how bad it looks – stay on message.

    Having been reared in a fundamentalist church, home, and school I felt a compassionate cringe for Bristol when it was revealed that she was pregnant. I could imagine with vivid clarity the path she had traveled to have arrived at that point in her life. If you’ve ever been a woman who was indoctrinated that sex before marriage is wrong, but abortion is far worse and yet found yourself in the unfortunate situation of traveling to a drug store where no one is likely to know you in order to purchase only the minimum necessary to camouflage the obvious: that you’re really only there for the pregnancy test, and endured the, “oh, honey” look from the woman behind the counter (and not the “oh, honey. I’m so sorry you’re going through this alone. I feel your fear.” look, but the “oh, honey – you’ve been up to no good.” look), and spent hours contemplating the what if scenarios and how difficult all of them will be before you built up the courage to buy the pregnancy test in the first place, and then sat staring at the pink and blue lines on a small pee soaked plastic stick reading and rereading the packaging to make sure you’ve interpreted them correctly, and then drove to a random public garbage can to dispose of the evidence – then you know Bristol paid a price.

    I can imagine no greater horror at the age of 17 than having to tell my very conservative parents that I was pregnant, only to find out, rather abruptly, that the whole world would soon know too. There is a heavy price in that.

    Regardless of the ensuing gimmicks and the bucks that were made, whether we are on the Left or the Right, we should recognize that for this young girl, her new found fame was most likely unwanted and came at a high price indeed.

    Blessings,

    Christy Caine

    • Michael Rowe

      Christy, I appreciate your compassion very much. That said, Miss Palin’s memoir is rumoured to have come with a seven-figure advance. Between that and charging for magazine cover appearances and speaking engagements, I suspect that she’s not only more than able to pay the “very high price, but very likely doesn’t see it as such. She’s learned at the knee of the master.

    • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

      Michael, Thank you for your thoughtful note. I agree that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. May Miss Palin one day see that the path she has chosen will not heal the hurt she seeks to soothe.

      I hold gadflies and heretics in high regard. Keep up the good work.

      Christy

  • Tim

    One thing that griped me was Rowe’s inability to leave aside,”how hard republicans have worked to ensure lack of affordable health care for unwed mothers (or anyone else for that matter).” Rowe seems no less prone to political hatchet work than Mike Huckleberry Hound. Paahhleeeze! As one republican that can see Huckabee is (like most politicians) operating with a healthy double standard, I strongly disagree that republicans have some malevolent agenda to keep healthcare unaffordable to unwed mothers as well as their own kith and kin. Does Rowe have any idea how ridiculously conspiratorial that comes off?

    Republicans aren’t against affordable healthcare, but the myth that somehow signing Obamacare into law is going to magically make healthcare affordable, is about as sensible as believing that D.C. politicians will ever give up their golden parachutes. If the people so eager to sign Obamacare into law will have to be as subject to it’s constraints as their constituents, fine. But until someone can show me the mathematical wisdom of spending ourselves out of debt, I will call Rowe’s “aside” just another crappy tit-for-tat partisan brick in the blogger’s wall.

    • Michael Rowe

      There’s nothing more amusing than Republican revisionism.

      The GOP’s history on the entire universal healthcare debate speaks for itself, not just in this last presidential term but throughout recent history. They even gave it a name, “Obamacare,” to make sure it sounded as foreign and “socialistic” as they could. They’ve opposed it in every possible way since it was first raised as a possibility. Since their rise, following the midterm elections, they have ramped up their war on women’s reproductive rights, up to and including my favourite petty-monster Grand Guignol political maneuver in Georgia: an attempt to make miscarriages subject to police investigations. The same people who are happy to shrug off a multi-trillion dollar war debt as though it were beer money shriek and squeal at the thought of universal health care and call it “spending ourselves out of debt.” That’s conservative “logic” at its best.

      That’s not “political hatchet work,” it’s called reporting independently verifiable facts. If you don’t like the facts, you can either get over it, or you can find another political party to support. But it’s far from reasonable to expect everyone else to join you with your head in the sand. Working brains tend to need oxygen.

      • Tim

        What precisely would you say I revised, Michael? Your claim is a broad generalization when you say that “the republicans” (meaning all republicans, not some, unless you qualify it as such) are working hard to ensure a lack of affordable healthcare. I will agree that many republicans are trying to get the democrats to provide some workable numbers as to what President Obama’s bill will cost and how many new government employees it will take to facilitate it. Trust is what seems to be in short supply and I don’t think any one party has a monopoly on what little trust is left. Whatever happens in Georgia does not involve all republicans, and the multi-trillion dollar war debts aren’t exactly being curtailed by our current Commander-In-Cheif.

        It seems the name Obamacare has become something akin to the “n” word to some people, but I didn’t hear any squawks when the names “HillaryCare”, “RomneyCare” or “Reganomics” were coined. Universal healthcare is a myth no matter what you call it. It will either fail to be truly universal, or it will fail to pass for healthcare. Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true. Maybe if you curb your political generalizations and farting Hollywood elite, I will take a breath and try to oxygenate my severely addled republican brain.

        Cheers

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/10/06/about-lgbt-folk-ill-listen-to-my-god-thanks/#comments slick

          “Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true.”

          Wow, that is one incredibly awesome quote. I keep a list of exceptional quotes and I have just added that one to it.

          I also couldn’t help laughing at your funny, and almost certainly correct, reference to your, “severely addled republican brain”. (Just joking.) I have read your posts for some time now Tim, and enjoyed them. Although you are totally and completely wrong on the subject of health care, I still think you are A-OK in my book, for a stinking republican I mean. (I tell my sister the same thing all the time, LOL)

          • Tim

            Don’t be too impressed. The quote isn’t mine. I just heard it and it resonated. And thanks (I think) for the compliments. I used to be a Fu–ing liberal when I was younger. But then as the years passed, I began to see that I was mistaken about some things. No offense.

          • Donald Rappe

            A little late to this party, I guess. How can anyone who has been watching not have noticed that the Republicans were working as hard as they could to repeal American health care. They have made no secret of it. After wasting weeks of the congress time writing an impossible to pass repeal law, they are now moving on to the greater work of shutting the government down to emphasize their belief that the sky is falling.

          • DR

            I was just commenting elsewhere but it hit me after this comment that Republicans don’t value support unless it’s “not wasteful”. It needs to be “efficient” in order for them to get behind it.

            The world we live in is completely messy. Scripture even defines it that way, it’s impossibly broken due to sin and it will not be made perfect until Jesus comes again. Until then? We are left with messy, everything is messy. Any good we do? messy. Any relationship we’re in regardless of how much we love the other person? messy. And so will health care for everyone – it’s all messy.

            I think this escape hatch of “We all really want the poor to be taken care of we just want to make sure it’s efficient!” is a waning truism and it certainly will never be realized in such a broken world.

          • Diana A.

            I agree.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Well…

            If heaven and earth are divided by a domed partition up above us, then the sky *is* going to have to fall before Jesus can come in glory.

            And if the world’s going to end in 2012, he *will* be on his way shortly.

            Just saying…

      • Drew

        As a Canadian I’ve long been fascinated with how so many American politicians look upon military spending as sacred cow. I don’t know what the figures are (please correct me if I’m wrong) but it’s my understanding that the US has more firepower than the next dozen countries combined. How much is needed to keep America safe?

        • JohnJay60

          I’ve read that in dollar terms, US military spending is half of the world’s defense budgets. However this does not account for the relative cost of maintaining an American soldier, tank, or aircraft vs. other countries doing same. So we don’t have half the soldiers, half the aircraft, and so on. But we certainly have enough to deter any invasion ever from any enemy now or in the indefinite future.

        • DR

          Have you heard the phrase “penis car?”. The American military investment is essentially a trillion dollar cherry red Corvette.

    • DR

      Republicans had an opportunity to vote in free health care for children of lower income families who aren’t covered because their families aren’t covered. It would have cost us something like 1.7% of the Iran war costs. Yet we apparently just couldn’t afford that while those kids hit up an emergency room racking up massive costs because they can’t get a root canal which then festers into a full-blown infection. This is not the exception to the rule, it’s happening in droves all across our country and it’s racking up massive, massive charges back to those of us who have to absorb the costs.

      As one who is actually in the tax bracket that’s going to have to absorb mosts of the health care bill in debate right now? I want it. Bring it. I’ll lose some additional income if I know it’s increasing the overall health of our nation which in turn, saves the money I will have to pay anyway to get these people health care when they get really sick and then *really* need serious health care. Pay now, Pay later.

      • Michael Rowe

        Well said, Tim. I’m not sure how many different ways the same thing can be explained to these people, but presumably at some point they run out of ways to obfuscate and revise. I’d love to see it happen in my lifetime. I’m mesmerized that so many of these people claim to be “Bible-believing Christians,” given their apparent animus towards the poor and the needy, the very “sheep” Christ taught his followers to feed. Spellbinding.

        • Tim

          You slipped Michael. I’m the supposed revisionist. Read my response to DR below. I have nothing but caring compassion for the poor. And instead of continuing to call me a revisionist, I’d still like to know specifically what I’ve revised.

          Cheers

    • DR

      Tim simply put – what is the solution for people who can’t afford health care in this country? I keep hearing Republicans state time and time again that they are not against health care for the poor, the unwed mother etc. yet each and every time a bill is put in front of them to vote? They shut it down. And please show me any kind of legislation that the Conservatives have *proactively* put forth for consideration along these lines. The bills I’ve seen have always been in reaction to the ones that the Dems put up.

      I’m genuinely confused by this. Am I missing something? I see conservative politicians fighting for any number of things consistently from year to year – abortion being one example. Am I just missing it? Where are Republicans making affordable health care a priority?

      • Tim

        Hi DR–

        If someone comes into a hospital emergency room, or if they call a paramedic because their spouse is having a coronary, neither the EMTs or ER attending physicians turn people away because they don’t have an insurance card. I know this is true first hand. IMO, insurance should be reserved for medical emergencies and not for well patient care or elective procedures. I think if we were more willing to take financial responsibility for the non-critical medical care, national healthcare wouldn’t become a bottomless pit of endless “freebees” with mountains of administrative paperwork moved along by government paper pushers whose numbers are yet to be named. The republicans generally reject legislation that makes government more responsible for its citizens because history shows that the more responsibility government takes, the less responsibility it’s citizens assume. I hate to beat a dead horse, but the key to trimming costs isn’t hiring untold scores of new government workers to manage a new bureaucracy hasn’t even been assigned a line item in the new budget I just keep hearing that the Republicans are blocking healthcare, but that’s because nobody can get a straight answer to what it will cost. Wisdom says that a builder counts the cost before committing to the work. Still haven’t seen any close numbers. I think the priority is the economy and jobs. Without those, national health care is sort of like worrying about where we’re going to steer a cart that has no horses to pull it. Everyone wants to eat at the government’s table, but nobody wants to do the dishes.

        • DR

          What a lovely response. (I’m serious). Thank you, I really appreciate you being so specific. Would you say a little bit more about this?

          “The republicans generally reject legislation that makes government more responsible for its citizens because history shows that the more responsibility government takes, the less responsibility it’s citizens assume.”

          What examples would you give here?

          • Tim

            One example that stands out would be Welfare. Possibly even Social Security. The idea that government can manage our lives better than we can ourselves is, in itself, demeaning. It says the common citizen is too lazy or stupid to care for themselves, so we (the government, not the people) must care for them instead. I’ve paid SSI for nearly 45 years. If Social Security isn’t ka-put by 2017, I will net a whopping $1500 a month until it IS ka-put. If I had been allowed to put that money into a diversified mutual fund or 401K of my own choosing, I can almost guarantee that I would have more to show than gas and beer money.

            I also lived for a little over a decade in a section 8 ghetto in Southeast San Diego. Most of my neighbors were collecting welfare. That ghetto is a block or two from where I grew up in the 1960′s. So I’m not a foreigner to government subsidies and how it impacts families…generation to generation. A friend of mine who partnered with Rosey Grier to create Impact Urban America took tremendous social strides to break people’s generational dependence on Welfare in neighborhoods like the ones I grew up in (and moved back to later in life).

            The saddest legacy of Welfare I saw in my community, was the subtle dehumanization of people. For instance, my next door neighbor went back to school and worked two jobs to get her and her daughter out of the ghetto. She became a paralegal and when she began to enjoy some of the fruits of her labor (new clothes and car), people who were supposedly her friends and neighbors started calling her an “Oreo” and “Jim Crow N-word”. My friend at IUA said it was a common occurrence he referred to as “Crab-In-The-Kettle” hierarchy. When someone makes efforts to get off the Welfare rolls, the ones comfortable on Welfare tend to see them as “too good for Welfare” and “better than us po’folk”. Like the conundrum of the chicken and the egg, it’s hard to know if that attitude begets poverty or poverty begets that attitude. Back in the 1960′s, there was a stigma attached to being on government assistance. Now there seems to be one on those trying to get off. Welfare? Indentured servitude as far as I can see. Social Security is a pyramid scheme that has been raided by administrations of both political parties.

            Sorry if it seems that I ramble, but you asked.

            Have a good day, DR

          • JohnJay60

            The story of your neighbor being called “Oreo” is sad.

            However, this story of people’s mean spirited behavior has NOTHING to do with the social safety nets installed by government and such rude exlusive behavior predates welfare by tens of thousands of years, I’m sure.

          • DR

            Thank you. Woof. That was a tough read.

          • DR

            Yikes, Tim. I understand that you’re referencing your experiences with public assistance (well not personally, assuming the impact it had on your neighborhood) but the data is really against you. I worked for the government with regards to programs for the poor and also a non-profit. First, it’s primarily working families who are white and on disability who are in need of food stamps. Second, the percentage of “generational” welfare are less than 3%. The predominant amount of people who receive public assistance and very hard workers and get off of it within about 19 months of having it. The data just doesn’t support some of the macro conclusions you’re drawing here and as you use the word “ghetto”, I’m hoping that you’re not making any implication about people of color being the primary users of public assistance. That would be incorrect.

          • Tim

            In my thinking, a ghetto is a neighborhood comprised primarily of government subsidized housing. The particular one I lived in was diverse. White, Hispanic, Asian, and Black. My neighbor was black, and so were her supposed friends. I’ll have to revisit the statistics regarding generational Welfare. My figures may be a little stale. I just didn’t imagine the economic downturn saw a decrease in government assistance.

          • DR

            The figures for public assistance that I quoted have not changed for the last 15 years.

        • DR

          Tim with all due respect how would this ever play out with people who are workig four jobs to pay the mortgage?

          • Tim

            My question would be how does a loan applicant who is working four part-time jobs qualify for a mortgage?

          • cat rennolds

            because we qualified for our mortgage before the recession, before my husband’s company went under, and before my company cut my pay and my hours.

            we work, and we’re still married, so regardless of our income, in this state we don’t qualify for temporary food assistance. If he left me – with 2 minor children – or one of us quit work, we would.

            our company offers insurance, but we can’t afford it. we don’t have the sense to declare bankruptcy. after all, we can still pay the mortgage, right? just barely. luckily the car is paid for. we just shelled out several hundred dollars to have an emergency dental extraction because we kept hoping we’d catch up on the bills while it still just needed a root canal.

            what’s the solution? I don’t mean us particularly, but in general? I’m a little tired of paying taxes so somebody else can have health care INSTEAD of me.

          • DR

            Cat I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. What an awful, scary mess. And with kids! I can’t imagine.

            I will let Tim speak for himself but in my experience you and your husband pose quite a quandry for those who don’t believe in creating a system for you and your family to have health care because they are very comfortable with defining who is “poor”. For many, “poor” are those people who Reagan affectionately termed “welfare queens” those men and women living in ghettos who are lazy and don’t work anyway so why should we do jack to help them? They are the bottom feeders of our society.

            And then cat and her family enter the scene. Hardworking, busting your ass. Maybe even fairly comfortable financially. But then something horrible happens of which you have no control like the stock market crash. You take on extra jobs to keep what you have, you’re not just laying back and going into bankrupcy. You are now someone who is legitimately needing some assistance. And thank God you spoke up because there are millions of people just like you and we need you to tell us your story to challenge the current working definition of “poor” for those who prefer it to equate exclusively to “ghetto and lazy”. I don’t mean to use your life as some kind of platform, that’s gross to even consider. But you out of anyone deserve an answer, particularly from someone who is against the current legislation that would ensure your basic needs are covered.

          • DR

            It was hard enough to comment with any grace after your “I’m a white guy who understands the intricacies of ‘the ghetto’ because I lived there” comment, but this is too much. I’m not going to even dignify this with any kind of substantial response. Ugh.

    • Jennifer

      This is typical of Rowe. If you read his Facebook posts, you would think his entire reason for being was to constantly work in references to a Palin. He’s got a bigger hard-on for constantly slagging “righties” and Republicans than Joy Behar.

      • DR

        I’m a regular reader and I could count those references on one hand.

      • Tim

        I had never heard of Rowe before. But as I said, he was right to criticize Huckabee, but making ridiculous asides that republicans are slathering malevolent hand wringers working to keep affordable healthcare from everyone, even themselves and their own families….come on. He should be writing comics, not commentary..

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/10/06/about-lgbt-folk-ill-listen-to-my-god-thanks/#comments slick

          I don’t think republicans are malevolent at all, just hugely mistaken. As far as turning against their own families, it wouldn’t be the first time. I’m refering to their war on drugs which has largely been more a war on American families. Also this blog is littered with testimonies of people being disowned by their conservative families over their difference in belief. And the cutting of benefits to the poorest of Americans to pave the way for the rich to keep more tax cuts, etc. is about as unchristian as one can get.

          • Tim

            First, my dear slick…I never made any implication regarding what you thought one or the other about republicans. And my descriptive was an exaggeration of Rowe’s implication that the republicans where intentionally pushing back the passage of universal healthcare expressly to hurt poor people and deny them affordable health care. Similar to his implication that using the term “Obamacare” is equal to calling President Obama the “n” word. If a conservative is questioning the fiscal responsibility of universal healthcare, why do they always seem to get cast as a hater of the poor or a rubber stamp butt-plug of corporate fat cats? I’m actually not that wealthy. I am paying a mortgage…but that doesn’t make me a slave owner. And the testimony of a couple dozen people whose judgmental fundamentalist conservative parents disowned them, is proof that ALL conservative parents probably disown their gay, atheist, democrat, or theologically divergent progeny? Please, slick. Wratchet down the emo. I have the best interests of everyone at heart regarding universal healthcare. That means I will piss off some of the radicals at each end of the political spectrum. I totally and whole-heartedly believe that quote you seemingly liked earlier. I know that reason occurs where the two sides meet in the middle and are willing to think. Reason fails when people prefer to marginalize their opponents instead of hashing out the issues. Rowe called me a revisionist and hater of the poor, but has yet to produce any substantive examples of how I revised facts or hated the poor. I could say all liberals are hit and run lovers of ad hominum attack, but I won’t. That isn’t true. Only a few are.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/10/06/about-lgbt-folk-ill-listen-to-my-god-thanks/#comments slick

            Hi Tim,

            I think you are a caring person. I also think my family, all of whom are republicans, are caring people. I’m just concerned, out of christian love, for my family. I know they do not hate the poor, but I also know that they vote in a way that is very unsupportive of the poor. To say that we cannot afford healthcare for the poor is one thing, it is an entirely different matter to take that stance while at the same time voting to enrich the already wealthy.

            I love my family and I like you, based on what I’ve read. I’m just concerned that if Father chooses to judge you based on how you’ve judged other people, then you’ve got a huge problem. And I think you can be caring and loving of the poor, but when you vote to take health care, money and benefits from the poorest and neediest of our society, you have not only judged them, but taken action to strip them of what little they have. And to do that while spouting so much pro-family BS is ridiculous. It is a slap in the face to everything our Father and Savior stood for and continue to stand for.

            I personally didn’t dislike the old republican party. They were for the rich, but at least they were honest about it. The new republican party is in biblical terms, a nest of vipers. They say they are pro business and pro family, but that clearly can’t be true. Businesses have no soul and they seek to make the most profit possible, which normally means paying their workers the least possible. Family’s need money to live on and when these so-called family loving businesses lay off their workers, etc. or cut wages to the bone, there just isn’t much left for the family. I guess it’s pro family of the republicans to teach families how to survive on less and less, but somehow that’s not my interpretation of the matter. And what good does it do the republicans to be anti-abortion, when they do their best to try and starve the family once the baby is born.

            I would like the republicans much better, if they would just be honest. But then we wouldn’t be having this wonderful conversation, because few people would ever consider becoming a republican in the first place.

            God bless you.

          • DR

            Marry me Slick!

          • DR

            And my descriptive was an exaggeration of Rowe’s implication that the republicans where intentionally pushing back the passage of universal healthcare expressly to hurt poor people and deny them affordable health care.>>>

            But isn’t the larger point about the *impact*? I just want to see Republicans actually make a proactive move regarding taking care of the poor that doesn’t involve giving the wealthy more money via tax cuts so they can subsequently give more via private donation. The myth of “let’s allow the non-profit sector/the churches to take care of the poor” is just that, it’s a myth. There is absolutely no way any non-profit organization or banding them all together could ever have the instant, sweeping impact of a program that is fueled by tax dollars.

            Big problems get solved with really big money. It’s not a statement on Christians, the intent to help and support is there but the tiny slivers of funding we offer can’t ever meet the effort needed around basic, affordable healthcare for people who are working four fast-food jobs to just keep a roof over their head and have no benefits.

          • Tim

            The MYTH of non-profits taking care of the poor? What percentage of the volunteer aid workers that went to the areas hardest hit by Katrina and the Haitian earthquake victims last year were teams sent by literally thousands of churches from across the U.S and around the world? Zero, I suppose, if I believe you. The same must have been true when the tsunami hit Indonesia in the winter of 2005. But no…I can vouch that my church was there. We were there at ground zero feeding firemen, policemen and port authority workers. We were praying with anyone and everyone who was standing in front of the wall of lost family member photos. We were clearing tons of sludge, sewage, debris, and garbage from dozens of homes in Bay St. Louis, MS. We were offering medical assistance, bringing blankets, water, dehydrated foods, offering a consoling arm around the shoulder of Haitians and Pacific Islanders. And not just my non-profit church. Lots of other volunteers from other non-profit churches. Not saying all of them were registered republicans, but I would say a good number of them were. But you didn’t make that distinction so neither will I. I just know they were those mythical non-profits that can’t take care of people as well as government bureaucrats.

            You used to be a republican and I used to be a liberal. Point counter point. Seriously, if you think (in accurate generalizations) that most republicans move in signal-driven lockstep like a gridiron formation of skynet terminators….seems to me the least of your problems is worrying about affordable healthcare for the poor. That’s all HR 3590 really does. It doesn’t “ENSURE” healthcare for the poor and uninsured. It only makes it more affordable…emphasis on the word AFFORDABLE, meaning it still costs money and obviously not everyone that needs it will get it.

            Aye-aye-aye…have a nice evening and a pleasant night’s sleep. I do care about you, DR. I care about people regardless of what they believe or how much they might disagree with me.

          • DR

            Tim I don’t care if you care about me to be honest. My feelings about you and your feelings about me are inconsequential compared to the massive disparity we have in this countyr. Please stop making it about our feelings, our feelings have absolutely no place in this discussion.

            “The MYTH of non-profits taking care of the poor?”

            Yes. The myth that is exactly what it is. Sure some Christians show up after a disaster, they run some soup kitchens and they build houses in some third world countries. That barely covers 1% of the needs of the poor.

            The myth the Republicans love to throw out is that the tax cuts they offer to the rich is so the rich will take care of the poor. The Republicans want us to believe that the private sector if just given the chance will take care of “the poor” – everyone who is currently on public assistance, everyone who needs a home, everyone who is mentally ill, everyone who needs financial support. And millions of Republicans vote that in because it saves them money.

            But here’s the reality that you need to face. In Christianity Today last year, the amount of tithing that rich people give is substantial. Over 50% of it goes to their own church programs for their own children. So this rhetoric that Conservative Christians want more money given back to them to take care of the poor? Your own publication busted that myth, 50% of the money christian conservatives give go to your kids getting a particular kind of experience. Your rich kids. OK? It’s a myth and millions of republicans who actually are working their asses off in ministries and wanting to do good are getting absolutely played by a very manipulative group of people in Washington.

          • DR

            PS – looking forward to seeing that legislation that the Republicans put forth on their own about affordable healthcare. You said it was a priority for your party – where is the legislation that they put forth that got the ball rolling? Please provide that. Thanks.

          • DR

            Tim it’s you who may need to ratchet down the emo, the defensiveness and victimhood you display is something I see a lot of Conservatives offer and used to offer as a Conservative myself. So I get it. But it’s not appropriate, the facts simply don’t support you. If you’re aligned with a party that has historically, never made one move to solve health care for the poor? That has spent nearly all of its energy *fighting* it? You’re part of it if you’re voting it in. Statements like “If a conservative is questioning the fiscal responsibility of universal healthcare, why do they always seem to get cast as a hater of the poor or a rubber stamp butt-plug of corporate fat cats?” are more about you and with all due respect – I’m really not meaning this to be mean-spirited – no one cares about you. We don’t care that your feelings as a Conservative are getting hurt as much as we care about people who are hurt by the Republican agenda.

            The people you’ve voted in have demonstrated absolutely no legislation ever that moves healthcare to the poor as a realistic option, they have fought it tooth and nail. They fought Head Start, they fought public assistance, they fight gay marriage, they fight a number of things that are liberating and essential to people who are marginalized. And if you vote for them? You’re in part responsible. So suck it up dude, or get a thicker skin. Seriously, if you’re called a hater its because you’ve aligned yourself with people who have demonstrated no real action toward the poor at all.

          • Diana A.

            And they’re still fighting all of those things. Think about Wisconsin. Think about the current budget the Republicans in Congress are trying to push through. There are some Republicans whose conservatism is primarily fiscal and who are genuinely interested in the well-being of the nation, but the Republican party as a whole has become about helping the rich get richer by gutting what used to be the middle-class. This is one reason why I am no longer a Republican.

          • DR

            Each and every Conservative I’ve ever asked for this information has never provided it yet they *insist* they care about health care for the poor, that it is a priority. If so then just show me the legislation. I just want to see it! No one has ever provided it. I keep hoping.

        • DR

          Tim can you show me any legislation that the Republicsn party has ever introduced to ensure poor people have healthcare? I’ve seen the party react against legislation that is proposed but never submit any without prompting. The legislation our Representatives put up for consideration and push to get it into a law is the stuff that feeds fairly accurate generalizations, so please show any legislation the Republicsns have offered on this topic that isn’t a modified plan in reaction to what the democrats have offered.

          • Tim

            As I stated up the thread, nobody is introducing bills that “ensures” healthcare for the poor. That is a misconception. Healthcare can’t be free. If it is, it either isn’t universal, or it isn’t healthcare. My sister, who voted enthusiastically for Obama, doesn’t want anything to do with universal healthcare. She works for Child Protective Services in San Diego County, and she will admit that even at the county level, bureaucracies can’t come close to doing what people should reasonably do on their own. This whole discussion has devolved into partisan pissing match. My initial beef with Rowe was his painting all republicans with a broad brush. I personally don’t think that Romneycare was any kind of boon to the people in Massachusetts. If implemented, HR 3592 will have unforeseen expenses and shortfalls like anything crafted by people who can’t possibly have all the facts straight. Just from a business sense, it’s foolish to launch a boat before you inspect it for holes. And it’s not like attempts at repealing the bill is preventing poor people from getting care. Undocumented aliens can walk into an emergency room and get care. Maybe the republicans don’t offer anything because they learned a long time ago that healthcare can’t be free. Even my uninsured brother is paying off a $58k hospital bill at around $50 a month. What happens when he dies? Do they go after me? His kids…his grandkids? Yes. Because they will be paying the increasing tax rates to bail out this Swiss cheese boat.

          • DR

            As suspected, just more attacks on why we shouldn’t do it, more examples of how it would never work instead of showing me how your party is actually going to make a difference via legislation on a macro-scale. In short, your party has done nothing. So stop saying it’s a priority for your party to take care of the poor – it might be for *you* but not enough to vote people in who actually are trying to get something done at the national level, who want to see it happen, even if it happens inefficiently. You or your party don’t value the poor if it means inefficiency. That’s the truth.

          • Michael Rowe

            Again, DR, well said. There are countries all over the world where health care is “free,” as in paid for by the taxes everyone pays, and the standard of living in those countries is very often much higher than it is in the United States.

            One of the problems with Republicans is, they see health care as a luxury and wars as a necessity, which is why they grunt, “Uhhhh…whassamatta wit dat?” when the multi-trillion dollar bill is presented to them for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but become both pompous and irritable whenever it it suggested to them that the multi-trillion dollar war bill could have been better spent insuring American citizens–including those uppity poor people who can’t afford to get sick or injured– and taking care of the massive healthcare and education mess at home, before trying to turn the Middle East into the United States of Arabia.

          • DR

            I’m growing increasingly fascinated with power and how it really is – more than sex – more than money – the true resource we cling to with the heat of a thousand suns. America is going to have to lose almost all of our wealth before we understand how little we really need it.

          • DR

            PS, the conservatives fought the unions when the unions insisted we create a weekend within the work week to protect workers, they insisted it would destroy the economy. Still waiting for that to happen.

            Enjoy your weekend (sponsored by the godless Liberal party).

          • DR

            As I stated up the thread, nobody is introducing bills that “ensures” healthcare for the poor.>>>

            No Republicans are doing that, you mean. Democrats are doing exactly that.

  • http://asad123.wordpress.com Asad

    The weird thing is that I relate to what Huckabee is saying because I’m a Muslim. Muslims have a set of moral codes that can seem Draconian in contemporary America – no pre-marital sex, no alcohol, and no pork. Human nature being what it is, when I see someone do something I’m not allowed, it makes me crave it sometimes. But my belief in God and the grace of God allow me to overcome that feeling. So I get why Huckabee doesn’t like seeing unwed mothers in the news. But here’s the thing – you can only impose your moral code on yourself. Even trying to impose it on your children gets dicey.

    I don’t know if he has a daughter, but certainly there are many behaviors he might see women exhibit in the media which he wouldn’t want his daughter to practice. But Natalie Portman isn’t running for President or trying to be a pastor. She’s not even Christian (and even if she was Huckabee would still have no right to judge her). It would be one thing if she said, “I’m a leader, I’m a role model.” But she’s just an actress and she doesn’t pretend to be anything more. The moment you try to impose your values on people in the public square is the moment you join the Taliban.

    • Diana A.

      Yes. This is so true. Thank you for writing this.

    • Christie

      Beautifully expressed. I agree completely!

  • Nora

    Great piece, and spot on. And of all people to pick on! Natalie Portman is hardly one to seek the spotlight. Bristol Palin is the one who’s turned her teen pregnancy into a cottage industry. Portman is an accomplished woman who is recognized for her body of work and who happens to be expecting a baby. Palin is an unaccomplished young woman who is known ONLY because she is an unwed mother and happens to be the daughter of someone who has worked relentlessly to seek out the spotlight.


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