Sunday, April 15, 2012

What “Rape Sonograms” Are Really About

February 17, 2012
This week, the Virginia State Legislature – joining Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa – passed two of the country’s most restrictive abortion bills. One, a personhood anti-abortion bill and the other, mandating a coercive mandatory transvaginal probe for women seeking abortions. This week’s momentum of the “personhood” movement is not surprising in that it is closely tied to conservative Republican’s inability to target the economy as a problem in a campaign year.  A shift in focus on social issues is logical.

It struck me as particularly meaningful, therefore, that I was watching The Loving Story as I thought about the passage of these bills. That documentary is about the mixed race couple who took their challenge of Virginia’s anti-miscegenation slavery laws to the Supreme Court in 1963, exactly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Can you tell by looking at it, if that map is a map of states considering personhood bills or a map of the states that had anti-miscegentation laws up to 100 years after Emancipation? Of the states that have introduced personhood bills 77% had anti-miscegenation laws on their books as late as 1948-1967.  Of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-misegenation laws,  but rather had them overturned by Loving vs. Virginia, more than half have introduced personhood bills.

These statistics are not a coincidence. Racism, sexism, homophobia – they go hand in hand and the people oppressed by them experience them in intersecting ways. Worldwide,  women’s human rights are complicated by these intersections.

Like these two Virginia bills, anti-misegenation laws were really not about “morality” or “decency”, but about social order. They’re not about “personhood” but “humanity.”  Sex, controlling other people’s private lives, dictating what they do with their bodies and controlling their “place” in society. The more “human” you perceive yourself to be, the more you presume you have authority to tell others how to be and what to do.   And, like those laws, these bills are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. After many years, the Lovings won their landmark case and succeeded in finally dismantling shameful government-sanctioned racism in regards to mixed-race marriages.

Exactly how ugly and perversely wrong do things have to get before people pay attention to how fragile women’s rights and choices are in the face of sexism, misogyny, and legislative bullying?  Is requiring women  to undergo a medically unnecessary,  invasive vaginal penetration bad enough?  To me, it sounds as punitive, threatening and coercive as “virginity tests” that female Egyptian anti-government protestors were subjected to last year.

Personhood bills grant full rights, privileges and immunities to multicellular diploid eukaryotes. They also, for good measure, restrict and may entirely ban hormonal contraception.  The second Virginia bill, and others like it, is what I want to focus on here. It forces any woman seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound. Without her consent.

You see, if you raise the bar for decency, humanity and safety so far up, it might make your actual indecency and coded threats of violence seem somehow reasonable.

Either that, or the Republican Virginia legislators are unclear about what “trans,”  ”vaginal,” and “consent” mean. “Trans,” a panic-inducing prefix for conservatives, means “across.” “Vaginal” means a place in a woman’s body to put phallic things into when the government wants to.  For someone that hasn’t had to or will never have to experience it this is how Medline Plus explains what happens when you put “trans” and “vaginal” together in an ultrasound:
“You will lie down on a table with your knees bent and feet in holders called stirrups. The health care provider will place a probe, called a transducer, into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and a gel…The doctor can immediately see the picture on a nearby TV monitor.”
“Consent” means with permission. I am surprised, since a TV monitor is part of the procedure, that they haven’t yet mandated a live-stream into the legislative chamber – just to make sure no one is cheating them of their god-given right to invade another person’s body without her permission.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a conservative Roman Catholic, who has never experienced a transvaginal probe, has explained that he will sign the ultrasound bill, although he is uncertain about the personhood bill. Does this mean he’s not sure if a mass of undifferentiated cells are people, but he is sure that women aren’t?

Not only are they fuzzy on those terms, but the Governor and Republican members of the Virginia State Legislature don’t understand what rape is.  Maybe they should consult the FBI, which defines rape this way:
“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
“If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness’s will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person; or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or (iii) with a child under age 13 as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.”
Or maybe they just think women should “expect to be raped” if they live in Virginia and want abortions, just like in the military.

Republican legislators explicitly declined to vote for a proposed amendment that would have required women to sign a consent form. Carrie Brandstrom, who started the FaceBook page Stay out of MY UTERUS! Stop ANTI-Women Legislation,  called it a “rape sonogram” earlier this week and she is right. That’s what it should be called.

As Andy Kopsa, writing in RHReality Check,  put it, “The bottom line is pro-choice legislators in state houses around the country as well as physicians and women’s rights activists must start drawing the clear line between state forced transvaginal ultrasounds and rape.”

I know that the Republicans in the Virginia Legislature, and the people that support them, don’t want to rape good women.  They know that unless a woman screams and fights, it’s not “real rape.” They want to protect women from their own intrinsically poor decision making faculties and take away the access to birth control and abortions that turn them into craven sluts.

Can you imagine making it mandatory for any man needing medicine for erectile dysfunction to pay for and have a rectal exam and cardiac stress test? I mean, how ridiculous is that? No legislative body would ever pass an amendment making anal penetration with a probe mandatory for men who don’t want it.

Ha! What a joke! Except it isn’t.

It was a protest that no one took seriously. Virginia State Senator, Janet Howell,  to whom I am currently erecting a small shrine in my office,  attached the mandatory rectal exam and cardiac test to theses abortion bills. Needless to say, it did not pass. That’s because THAT is different and the legislators in question have no doubt about what transrectal probes are. 

Just to be clear, I don’t want to make any trans-orifice probe mandatory, but there is no difference between these procedures except the gender of the people subjected to them.
Delegate David Englin, a Democrat who thinks women are equal before the law, had this to say:
“This bill will require many women in Virginia to undergo vaginal penetration with an ultrasound probe against their consent in order to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion, even for nonsurgical, noninvasive, pharmaceutical abortions. This kind of government intrusion shocks the conscience and demonstrates the disturbing lengths Republican legislators will go to prevent women from controlling their own reproductive destiny.”
He proposed the failed amendment that would have required women to give their consent before the invasive procedure. These bills go beyond casual misogyny. They ignore and revoke women’s right to privacy and deny them their personal liberty, not to mention dignity.  They are unconstitutional and will be challenged if signed into law.

How long will it take for women to have full and equal reproductive rights and control over their own bodies, free from conservative legislative interference?

Differing Points of View Abortion, contraceptives, pro life

Some of the video may be disturbing 


The Threat to Leaglized Abortion by Lorraine Sheinberg

Framing Feminism - Never Go Back:

Uploaded by on Jul 16, 2009
Painting a vivid picture of life before the Roe v. Wade decision, this documentary outline the impact of Supreme Court retirements posed to accessible, legal abortion in the U.S. during the George W. Bush presidency.

Narrated by Carrie Fisher
Produced and Directed by Lorraine Sheinberg

Danger: Personhood 2012

Abortion is not murder.

Uploaded by on Mar 7, 2011

Virginia Proposal Mandating Ultrasound Before Abortion Debated

Uploaded by on Feb 23, 2012
Amid rising criticism, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell changed his stance on a bill that would require women to have a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion, noting that an abdominal ultrasound would be more appropriate. Judy Woodruff and guests discuss Virginia's proposed law and nationwide efforts to curb access to abortions.

Assault on Birth Control & Abortion Rights: What's Going On?

Uploaded by on Feb 27, 2012
Gloria Feldt, former president of Planned Parenthood, joins iVillage Chief Correspondent Kelly Wallace and iVillage Election Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger to discuss how abortion rights -- and your right to birth control -- seem to be under attack more now than in recent memory.

For more political coverage, visit iVote 2012 at

Banks make a financial statement

By: Robin Bravender
April 14, 2012 07:04 AM EDT 

       A group of banks launched a super PAC to focus on key congressional races. | AP Photos

Big banks might have kept their heads down in 2010, but those days are over.
A group of banks launched a super PAC to zero in on key congressional races recently. Earlier this year, financial services groups held a high-profile fundraiser for a candidate challenging a senior Senate Republican. And the industry is remembering its friends on Capitol Hill — shelling out cash to lawmakers who have consistently voted their way.
It’s a PR shift for banks, who lowered their profile after the widely unpopular bank bailout, which served as a rallying cry for the tea party.

But after President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill into law and the Occupy Wall Street movement amplified anti-bank rhetoric that even some Democrats in Congress picked up, it appears the industry has had enough. They’re taking a more vocal stand this cycle, and they’ve shown they’re willing to back up their talk with serious money — a scenario that should make both Democrats and some Republicans nervous heading into the summer campaign season.

“No one likes being kicked around, and there’s definitely that sentiment,” said Scott Talbott, senior vice president for government affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents the banking industry in addition to other financial interests.

The banking industry has always been a major player in political spending, but its increasingly aggressive tactics are a sign that some in the industry want to pack more of a punch on Capitol Hill, particularly with the sweeping overhaul to the financial system still under way and with big legislative reforms on the horizon.

(Also on POLITICO: Bernanke: Still trying to fix system)

“They just feel pretty picked on by everyone,” said one financial services lobbyist. “And there’s two ways of dealing with that, hiding and waiting for it to go away — and judging from the rhetoric of the campaign it’s probably going to get worse. It sounds like some guys have gotten fed up, and they’re going to put their money where their mouth is and try to fight back as best they can.”

Their latest strike: state banking associations launched a super PAC late last month dubbed the Friends of Traditional Banking.

Its stated purpose is to support members of Congress “who show a consistent understanding of the vital importance of traditional banking in our communities and our local economies,” and to oust those who don’t. “Together we can become a force that Congress will listen to and respect,” their website says.

Howard Headlee, president of the Utah Bankers Association and treasurer for the new super PAC, said traditional banks have taken a beating, and they’re tired of the vitriol they’ve confronted.

“We had a crisis, there was an attempt to address certain weaknesses associated with that crisis and then it just went totally overboard for no reason,” Headlee said.

“We went to Washington repeatedly and told congressmen the same thing over and over again: ‘Don’t do this, there’s these unintended consequences, you’re going to impact traditional banking. It’s going to make the recovery slower; it’s going to make it more difficult.’ They didn’t listen at all and they seemed propelled by these extreme interests.”

The super PAC won’t function like other well known outside spending groups like American Crossroads, by bringing in big checks to run pricey advertisements. Instead, they are planning to convene their advisory council to pick a few key races to play in. Their supporters would then pledge to donate between $300 and $1,000 directly to the targeted campaigns.
It’s still unclear how much of a force the super PAC will be, but it could have a big impact in a few races this fall if the group is able to get bankers across the country to pony up.

Other groups have already made waves this election season by backing the primary opponent of Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) after he spurned them on a key vote.

Several veteran financial services lobbyists held a fundraiser in January for Richard Mourdock, the tea party favorite challenging Lugar in Indiana. The event was hosted by Talbott of the Financial Services Roundtable, Lisa Nelson of Visa, Peter Blocklin of the American Bankers Association and Vincent Randazzo of PNC.

The fundraiser was seen as a shot across the bow after Lugar and a dozen other Republicans voted against banks on an amendment that would have blocked caps on swipe fees last year. That amendment, which failed in the Senate, pitted two of the nation’s most influential business groups — banks and retailers — against each other.

The ABA also cut a $5,000 check for Mourdock last June, soon after the Senate vote on the swipe fee amendment.

These tactics may have been considered brazen for the industry not long ago, but banks are feeling less timid lately, now that the bailout is a few years behind them and the anti-bank rhetoric has calmed.

“Time heals all wounds,” said the financial services lobbyist. “Obviously when they’ve got their hands out to the federal government, sheepishly looking for billions of dollars, it’s hard to ask for anything other than the billions that you need to just kind of open the doors the next day. But they paid it back. The nation went through a crisis and it weathered the storm; most of these banks are pretty healthy or healthy enough right now.”

They’re also nervous about what might happen with the implementation of sweeping new financial rules if they don’t have plenty of friends in Congress next year.

Talbott said the banking industry has always been politically involved, but now,”there’s a little more urgency here because of Dodd-Frank.”

“We just went through a very challenging economic and political environment,” Talbott said. “I think that they’re just starting to support officials or candidates who understand our industry to build a more receptive audience.”

Meanwhile, banks are keeping up their traditional tactics of helping their friends, even after political donations took a dive in 2010.

Among the top congressional recipients of cash from commercial banks this cycle: Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) who co-authored legislation favored by banks to delay limits on debit card swipe fees, and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The commercial banking industry donated just $21.7 million in 2010, down about $16 million from its spending on federal candidates in the 2008 cycle, according to CRP data.
Employees and PACs associated with commercial banks have donated more than $13.6 million to federal candidates so far this cycle, the data shows. And the industry is the 18th biggest sector in terms of political contributions, up slightly from 19th place in the 2010 cycle.

10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Is Nuts

Soraya Chemaly


Posted: 03/15/2012 5:47 pm

This week the Georgia State Legislature debated a bill in the House that would make it necessary for some women to carry stillborn or dying fetuses until they "naturally" go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigs in the same situation.

I have a question for Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and too many others: I have three daughters, two of them twins. If one of my twins had been stillborn would you have made me carry her to term, thereby endangering both the other twin and me? Or, would you have insisted that the state order a mandatory fetal extraction of the living twin fetus from my womb so that I could continue to carry the stillborn one to term and possibly die myself? My family is curious and since you believe my uterus is your public property, I am, too.

Mr. England, unlike the calves and pigs for which you expressed so much empathy, I am not a beast of burden. I am a woman and I have these human rights:

The right to life.

The right to privacy.

The right to freedom.

The right to bodily integrity.

The right to decide when and how I reproduce.

Mr. England, you and your friends do not get to trade these rights, while "dog and hog hunting," in return for a young man's chickens.

Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn, compares women who have a non-viable pregnancy to cows, pigs and chickens.

My human rights outweigh any you or the state corruptly and cynically seek to assign to a mass of dividing cells that will eventually turn into a "natural" person. Personhood-for-zygote based bills and related legislation, like Georgia's and hundreds of others, bills and laws that criminalize pregnancy and abortion and penalize women for being women, violate my human rights. 

Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean I cannot think clearly, ethically, morally, rationally about my body, human life or the consequences of my actions. Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean that I do not have rights when I am pregnant. I have responsibility but am powerless. You have power but are irresponsible with my rights.
By not trusting me, you force me to trust you. And YOU are not trustworthy. 

I gestate humans, you do not. I know how it feels to be pregnant. You do not. I know what happens to a fetus in a womb. You do not. I have carried three fetuses to term. You have not. What I experience when I am pregnant is not empathy. It is permeability. The fetus is me. And the state is you, apparently. But, no matter what you say or do I have fundamental human rights.
What makes you think that you, who cannot have this fully human experience, can tell me anything about gestation or how I experience it? Especially when you compare my existence and experience to that of brutish animals.
The rest of the civilized world thinks this country has lost its mind. It's no wonder. Look at this list of frenzied misogyny:

1. Making women carry still-born fetuses to full term because cows and pigs do. This week, Mr England, you supported a bill, the net effect of which, taken tandem with other restrictions, will result in doctors and women being unable to make private, medically-based, critical care decisions and some women being effectively forced to carry their dead or dying fetuses. Women are different from farm animals, Mr. England, and this bill, requiring a woman to carry a dead or dying fetus is inhumane and unethical. By forcing a woman to do this, you are violating her right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and tortured. And, yes, involuntarily carrying a dead fetus to term, although not torture to you or to a pig, is torture for a woman. It is also a violation of her bodily integrity and a threat to her life and as such, violates her right to life.

2. Consigning women to death to save a fetus. Abortions save women's lives. "Let women die" bills are happening all over the country. There is no simple or pretty way to put this. Every day, all over the world, women die because they do not have access to safe abortions. Yet, here we are, returning to the dark ages of maternal sacrifice. Do really have to type this sentence: this is a violation of women's fundamental right to life.

3. Criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriages and arresting, imprisoning and charging women who miscarry with murder, like Rennie Gibbs in Mississippi or at least 40 other similar cases in Alabama or like Bei Bei Shuai, a woman who is now imprisoned, is charged with murder after trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Pregnant women are becoming a special class subject to "special" laws that infringe on their fundamental rights.

4. Forcing women to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration (otherwise called rape) with a condom-covered, six- to eight-inch ultrasound probe. Pennsylvania is currently considering that option along with 11 other states. Trans-vaginal ultrasounds undertaken without a woman's consent are rape according to the legal definition of the word. This violates a woman's bodily integrity and also constitutes torture when used, as states are suggesting, as a form of control and oppression. Women have the right not to be raped by the state.

5. Disabling women or sacrificing their lives by either withholding medical treatment or forcing women to undergo involuntary medical procedures. We impose an unequal obligation on women to sacrifice their bodily integrity for another. For example, as in Tysiac v. Poland, in which a mother of two, became blind after her doctor refused to perform an abortion that she wanted that would have halted the course of a degenerative eye disease. If my newborn baby is in need of a kidney and you have a spare matching one, can I enact legislation that says the state can take yours and give it to her? No. We do not force people to donate their organs to benefit others, even those who have already been born. One of the most fundamental of all human rights is that humans be treated equally before the law. Denying a woman this right is a violation of her equal right to this protection.

6. Giving zygotes "personhood" rights while systematically stripping women of their fundamental rights. There is too much to say about the danger of personhood ideas creeping into health policy to do it here. But, consider what happens to a woman whose womb is not considered the "best" environment for a gestating fetus in a world of personhood-for-zygote legislation: who decides the best environment -- the state, her insurance company, her employer, her rapist who decides he really, really wants to be a father? Anyone but a woman.

7. Inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion, including abortions sought by rape victims to end their involuntary insemination, imposing restrictive requirements like 24 hour wait periods and empowering doctors to lie to female patients about their fetuses in order to avoid prosecution. In Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas and other states around the country bills that make women "pay" for their choices are abounding.

8. Allowing employers to delve into women's private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she chooses to use birth control. In Arizona, which introduced such a bill this week, this means covering payment for birth control as a benefit only when a woman has proven that she will not use it to control her own reproduction (i.e., as birth control). As much as I am worried about women and families in Arizona though, I am more worried about those in Alabama. You see, as recently revealed in a public policy poll in Alabama, conservative, evangelicals who support "personhood" related "pro-life" legislation and are fighting for their "religious liberty" -- 21 percent think interracial marriage should be illegal. So, what if they decide that an employee involved in an interracial marriage should not, by divine mandate, reproduce? Do they switch and provide birth control for this employee? Do they make contraception a necessary term of employment for people in interracial marriages? This violates a woman's right to privacy. My womb is one million times more private than your bedrooms, gentlemen.

9. Sacrificing women's overall health and the well-being of their families in order to stop them from exercising their fundamental human right to control their own bodies and reproduction. Texas just did that when it turned down $35 million dollars in federal funds thereby ensuring that 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic preventive and reproductive health care.

10. Depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Bills, like this one in Arizona, allow employers to fire women for using contraception. Women like these are being fired for not.
You presume to consign my daughters and yours to function as reproductive animals.

This is about sex and property, not life and morality. Sex because when women have sex and want to control their reproduction that threatens powerful social structures that rely on patriarchal access to and control over women as reproductive engines. Which brings us to property: control of reproduction was vital when the agricultural revolution took place and we, as a species, stopped meandering around plains in search of food. Reproduction and control of it ensured that a man could possess and consolidate wealth-building and food-producing land and then make sure it wasn't disaggregated by passing it on to one son he knew was his -- largely by claiming a woman and her gestation capability as property, too.

This is not about freedom of religion. If it were, we would, for example, allow Christian Scientists to refuse to pay for coverage of life-saving blood transfusions for employees. Religious freedom means I get to choose whether or not to be religious and if so, how. It does not mean that I get to impose my religion on others. Paying for insurance is part of the way we compensate employees, even when they use their insurance in ways we don't agree with and are in contravention of our own personal beliefs. I think that it is stupid, dangerous and immoral to chain smoke, especially around children whose lungs it irreparably harms. But, I still have to pay for an employee to have access to lung scans, nicotine patches and oxygen tanks. I do not get to say that my religious beliefs, which include keeping bodies as healthy as possible, make it possible for me to withhold payment of this employee's insurance. Guaranteed coverage of contraception and reproductive health care has overwhelming benefits for society, including reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. By inserting your religious beliefs so egregiously into government legislation and my life, you are imposing your religious beliefs on me.

You don't like mandated insurance coverage for basic reproductive health humans with two X chromosomes? I don't like being bred by state compulsion like Mr. England's farm animals. I have a MORAL OBJECTION to being treated like an animal and not a human. You do not have to use contraception, you do not have to use birth control. But, that does not mean you have any right to tell me that I cannot if I choose. That is my right.
Property, control, sex, reproduction, morality -- defining what is human. Sounds a lot like issues surrounding slavery 170 years ago. It is no surprise that of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-miscegenation laws, but rather had them overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967 more than half have introduced personhood bills.

,Anti-miscegenation Laws in the U.S.
The word miscegenation comes from two Latin words—-miscere, which means “mix,” and genus, for “race.” Anti-miscegenation laws forbade interracial marriage. These laws were part of the American legal landscape as early as the 1600's, long before Francis Galton's new "science," eugenics, traveled across the Atlantic ocean from England in the late 1800's. Many of these laws, however, were re-written in the early years of the 20th century, based on the new "scientific" theories and data of the American eugenics movement. One of the most influential laws created during this period was Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924.

"...the true motive behind [the 1924 Act] was the maintenance of white supremacy and black economic and social inferiority--racism, pure and simple...Eugenical ideology...provided intellectual fuel to the racist fires."1
                       --Scholar Paul Lombardo
Like anti-miscegenation laws,anti-choice laws and bills that humiliate women, that treat them like beasts, that violate their bodily autonomy, are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. These laws are not about "personhood" but "humanity." That women of color are massively, disproportionately affected by these assaults on their bodies and rights should also come as no surprise -- their rights and their bodies have always been the most vulnerable to assault.

This is about keeping women's wombs public and in other people's control -- the exact opposite of private and in their own control.

And, yes, I do know how complicated the ethics, bioethics and legal arguments related to these decisions are. You, apparently, do not. If you were truly concerned with sustaining life and improving its quality or in protecting innocent children, you would begin by having compassion and empathy for living, born people that require and deserve your attention. You feed them, educate them, lift them from poverty and misery. You do not compound these problems as you are with twisted interpretations of divine will.

Only after that do you have the moral legitimacy to entertain the notion of talking to me about my uterus and what I do with it. By then, fully functional artificial wombs should be available and you can implant your own, since you are so fond of animal analogies, as was completed with this male mouse. What you are doing is disgraceful, hypocritical and morally corrupt.

And, no, I am not crazy. I am angry.

Mr. Santorum, Mr. England and Mr. Brownback and Mr. Perry you should consider not clinging so dangerously and perversely to the Agrarian Revolution ideas. Birth control and safe abortions are life-saving technologies. These archaic bills and laws, wasteful of time, money and lives, obscure an enduring and unchangeable truth: safe and effective family planning is the transformative social justice accomplishment of the 20th century. They will not go away. This is a revolution, too.

In an 1851 speech in which she argued for equal rights for women, Sojourner Truth said the following: "The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don't know what to do. Why children, if you have woman's rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won't be so much trouble."

Do you, Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and friends even know who Sojourner Truth is? 

This post has been updated since its original publication. 

Some of her other articles.v
1   "Miscegenation, Eugenics, and Racism: Historical Footnotes to Loving v. Virginia" by Paul Lombardo from U.C. Davis Law Review (Vol. 21, No. 2) Winter, 1988, p. 425.

For information on the legacy of anti-miscegenation laws, including the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, which overturned Virginia's 1924 Racial Integrity Act, see the section Legacies and Judgments.

Friday Talking Points -- "Mommy Wars" Versus "War on Women"

Chris Weigant

Posted: 04/13/2012 9:43 pm

First, a happy Friday the Thirteenth to everyone.

The biggest political news this week was that Rick Santorum quit his increasingly-desperate attempt to win the Republican presidential nomination, and will soon (through clenched teeth, no doubt) be endorsing Mitt Romney as his party's standard-bearer, in the hopes of becoming the "Next Guy In Line" in 2016. Republicans almost always nominate the NGIL, so it's understandable that Rick quit before he faced the embarrassment of Pennsylvania voters rejecting him once again. Go out on a high note, instead of in disgrace -- a good tactic in politics.

Republican Allen West appears to be channeling the spirit of Joe McCarthy, stating that over 75 Democrats in the House are card-carrying "members of the Communist Party." Boy, that really takes you back, doesn't it? Nothing like some good, old-fashioned Red-baiting to get the juices flowing on the Right, eh? The problem is, these days, we're buddies with Red China (our economy would collapse without them, so who really did win the Cold War, one wonders...), we trade with the folks who beat us in Vietnam, and (other than Cuba) we have no problem with cozying up to Godless Commies around the globe. It's not exactly Dr. Strangelove times, in other words. West's comments got a hearty laugh all around (even from the Communist Party USA itself), and were quickly forgotten in a haze of Joe McCarthy and House Un-American Activities Committee jokes.

The big political distraction at the end of the week was a reopening of what used to be called the "Mommy Wars," by Democratic insider Hilary Rosen. This came about largely because the political chattering class was bored, now that their GOP nomination horserace is all-but-officially over, and they needed a new toy to blow up with metaphorical firecrackers. Of course, they leapt at the chance to do so with all the fervor of a nine-year-old with a pocketful of Black Cats and his sister's Barbie doll, heading into the woods for some pyromaniacal fun.

Now, this tempest in a teapot has many facets, most of which have been explored in great detail by others. I, for instance, am going to refrain from commenting on the Mommy War aspect itself, since I am not now (nor, in true HUAAC fashion, have I ever been) a Mommy. The entire question of staying at home to raise children versus having a career is one that I am not competent to weigh in on (if you're looking for this core discussion, please see: the entire rest of the blogosphere). But, having said that, as much as we'd love to ignore the entire subject, we're going to use it as a case study in today's Talking Points section, as an example of how a talking point can go horribly wrong.

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Both President Obama and Vice President Biden have been doing a great job in the past few days of giving rousing speeches on their economic agenda, even if not many people are paying attention at the time. Being incumbents this time around, Mitt Romney will have one advantage over the White House team, and that is he's been honing his campaign skills for a very brutal primary season which has taken up most of the last year. Obama, on the other hand, hasn't had a primary challenger to fend off, so it is good to see that he's also getting some practice rounds in on the stump. The "Buffett Rule" is not going to pass the Senate next week, but it will be a major issue in the campaign, so these early speeches may held the Obama team sharpen their message.

Hillary Clinton was impressive last week, and showed all other politicians (of either sex or party) how this whole "charisma" thing is done. These two guys started a spoof site about Hillary, it took off online, and so Clinton's staff just called the two guys up and invited them to meet her in person. Hillary even played around with putting out a real/fake message in the site's style.

Now that is class. That is also incredible political savviness. For such, Clinton is awarded an Honorable Mention this week.

In fact, in a normal week, this probably would have been enough for Hillary to pick up the coveted Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. But this was an extraordinary week for a few Democratic politicians.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin was chased by four bears around his own backyard, and emerged unscathed (Shumlin was reportedly attempting to defend his bird feeders). That's either pretty impressive or pretty reckless, depending on how the average person would see it. Or depending on the "av-er-age bear," to quote Yogi.

OK, we just couldn't resist that one, and we apologize to all concerned, especially all bears. Ahem. We'll just hand Shumlin his own Honorable Mention and move along.

But this week's real MIDOTW winner is none other than the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who heroically ran into a burning building and saved a woman's life. That is not a misprint or any sort of joke -- Cory Booker ran into the flames and hauled a woman out of a building who likely would not have made it out on her own.
There are only two things worth saying about this story, because the story simply speaks for itself. The first is to point out once again, as I have always maintained, that true heroes never call themselves such, and deny being such afterwards. Instead, he said "I did what any neighbor would do -- help a neighbor." One of the hallmarks of being a hero is always to deny it.

The second thing worth pointing out is the truly defining point of heroism, though. Booker selflessly ran towards danger to save another. That is heroism, plain and simple. He pushed aside a security detail "who tried to hold him back by his belt." Heroes don't stand around wondering what to do, or why anyone else isn't doing something. Heroes act.
Cory Booker is, without any dissention, the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. And a hero, to boot.
(Congratulate Mayor Cory Booker on his official Newark contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.)

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week
This one is pretty easy, this week. Democratic operative Hilary Rosen is, quite obviously, our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week.

The entire Talking Points section contains our full explanation of why we feel this way. It boils down to a simple fact: Rosen is supposed to be a professional at political/media communications. She's supposed to be an expert at this stuff. She gets paid money to do this for a living. She's not even some hapless politicians caught on a live microphone in an embarassing gaffe -- she's supposed to be the one training politicians not to make on-air gaffes.

In other words, she has no one to blame for choosing the wrong phrase to make a larger point but herself. For that alone -- not even for what she said -- Hilary Rosen is our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award-winner.

(Contact Hilary Rosen via her company's contact page, to let them know what you think of her actions.)

Friday Talking Points
Volume 206 (4/13/12)
Once again, we find ourselves distracted here from larger political issues. I wrote, earlier in the week, a column which went on offense rather than defense, on how Democrats from Obama on down should start using the phrase "Reagan Rule" instead of "Buffett Rule," but it was immediately lost in the uproar. So if you're looking for a more talking-point-ey column, I'd advise reading that one instead. Because we're going to play defense here, today.
The remarks which put Democrats on the defensive were uttered by Hilary Rosen, on Anderson Cooper's political show on CNN. Here is the entire quote, when asked about why the Romney camp shouldn't be reaching out to women on economic issues:
Well, first, can we just get rid of this word war on women. The Obama campaign does not use it. President Obama does not use it. This is something that the Republicans are accusing people of using, but they're actually the one spreading it.

With respect to economic issues, I think actually that Mitt Romney is right, that ultimately women care more about the economic well-being of their families and the like. But there's -- but he doesn't connect on that issue either.

What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.
Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we -- why do we worry about their future?

So I think it's -- yes, it's about these positions and, yes, I think there will be a war of words about the positions, but there's something much more fundamental about Mitt Romney. He seems so old- fashioned when it comes to women.

And I think that comes across and I think that that's going to hurt him over the long term. He just doesn't really see us as equal.
This was immediately truncated to the soundbite: "[Mitt Romney's] wife has actually never worked a day in her life." Her larger point was completely lost, at least to the chattering class in Washington, to focus solely on Rosen's "attack" on Ann Romney.

But, as I said, we're going to leave most of that sort of thing to others to discuss -- where on the sliding scale of "Momminess" this sort of opinion should be pegged.

Instead, I would like to go off on three separate tangents: the politics of Rosen's comment, the victimhood "card" and whether Ann Romney is politically "fair game" or not.

The politics were disastrous for the Democrats. The White House team, and Obama himself, quickly disavowed any support for Rosen's comments. Snarkmeister Jason Linkins wrote the funniest line of the week on Huffington Post, summing up this quick damage-control:
Washington, D.C.-area commuters are advised that all buses have been re-routed today to drive over Hilary Rosen, by order of the Democratic National Committee, so expect service delays.
Heh. But even with all the loud disavowals, Democrats may have been hurt politically by this kerfluffle. Up until this point, the "War on Women" charge was resonating very effectively throughout the electorate. The only counter to it that Mitt Romney had managed to come up with were some very misleading statistics which weren't exactly doing him much good. Now, however, Mitt can stand up for Moms across America, and champion the conservative feminist backlash position of "stay-at-home Moms." It was like a gift from Heaven for Romney, and you can bet he will exploit it for all its worth.

The most interesting thing to watch in the debate was the speed of both election teams in jumping all over the issue. Ann Romney was on Fox News so fast it made your head spin. Barack Obama himself weighed in on the issue before the news cycle was half over. In other words, both campaigns are already well in gear for the general election. This sort of dueling-statements thing will happen on many other distracting non-stories over the course of the campaign, and both sides can feel good about the fact that nobody on either side seems to be letting the grass grow under their feet -- both candidates' teams seem fully up to speed.

The ironic thing for Democrats is that Republicans have, by now, perfected a tactic which used to be the sole purview of Democrats: playing the "victim" card. The politics of victimhood goes back (on the Democratic side) to the 1970s and 1980s (some might even argue the 1960s), and it used to confound Republicans no end, because they just didn't have any sort of effective response that didn't somehow come off coldhearted and mean.  Long about the 1990s or 2000s, Republicans finally figured out how to turn the victimhood charge back on Democrats and manufacture their own faux outrage. Here's a quick example: "Democrats are unfairly playing the 'race card,' why are they discriminating against me in such a racist fashion?"

So now we find ourselves in the showdown: "Mommy Wars" versus the "War on Women." Which phrase will resonate more politically is anyone's guess at this point. I'm betting on the War on Women, since it has more factual legislative ideology (concrete laws Republicans are attempting to pass) behind the slogan (such as the war on Planned Parenthood, just to name one). The Mommy Wars spring boarded off a comment by one Democrat who isn't part of any campaign, and who was repudiated by most other Democrats immediately, which doesn't seem like it'd have any staying power, but in today's political world, who really knows?

Now, a word here about the predicament Hilary Rosen finds herself in. While it's hard not to sympathize with anyone who is caught up in the "Gotcha!" game the media plays of ignoring your main point in favor of obsessing over one phrase you used, at the same time it is also hard to extend such sympathy to such a political/media insider. Rosen makes money advising politicians on communications skills -- in her own online bio, she calls herself: "A nationally recognized strategist who skillfully navigates the intersection of communications, media and politics in Washington DC." CNN lists her as a "CNN Contributor," which I assume means she also makes money by being an on-air Democratic strategist. To put it another way, she's supposed to be a professional at opinionating on national television. The problem with this job is that you have to also be interesting and entertaining at political commentary, or else you don't get asked back very often. Which can lead to saying things you might regret later, when removed from any context.

I'm certainly no on-air expert myself. If I regularly appeared on television spouting political opinions, there is a near-certain chance that eventually I would say something really stupid which would come back to haunt me. I can state this certainty would likely approach 100 percent, the more I was on television. I'm a writer, and used to going back and editing (most) stupid things out of what I write. Unedited -- and most likely in search of a cheap laugh -- I would doubtlessly screw up sooner or later. So it's hard for me to moralize too much about others' lapses, knowing this sort of thing.

Rosen did have a good point to make, and when you edit out the one line everyone's focusing on, she did a reasonably good job of making that point: being married to Mitt Romney and raising five children is a lot different than many women's experiences. It was another way to paint the Romneys as horrendously out of touch with the average middle-class American. But the point was lost in the fracas (even though Rosen did try to steer the conversation back to it, right before she offered up an apology for her original gaffe), and now it'll be hard to make any sort of similar point in the future -- at least about Ann Romney -- because the Rosen quote will always be brought up by the other side.

Which brings me to my final point: is Ann Romney a valid target for political commentary? President Obama and his First Lady unequivocally said "No," but then you'd expect them to. As far as they're concerned, spouses and children of politicians are always off-limits.
But are they? Or should they be?

My own feeling is that wives, husbands, children and other extended family members make this choice themselves. Family members are campaign props -- this is just a fact of American political life. Family members are going to appear on stage with their candidate. But even this doesn't make them "fair game," politically. To put it another way: Sarah Palin was right to complain about attacks on her children and husband, even though she dragged them on stage as often as she could manage. Todd Palin, or even Bristol, never became political spokespersons until after the 2008 election, at least that I recall. Making them off-limits, politically, right up to that point.

But after the election, Bristol Palin astonishingly started taking money to be a spokesperson for abstinence, because there was some group out there willing to pay her to be a "bad example," and she was willing to tell her story and make lots of money doing so. This immediately made her a valid political target on the entire sex/sexual hypocrisy issue.

Amy Carter, likewise, became fair game to go after when she started getting herself arrested to protest apartheid.

This isn't a perfect yardstick. There are grey areas, I should mention. Right now, Mitt Romney's sons fall into this grey area, and so I have to give them the benefit of the doubt and declare them off-limits. Mitt's sons have indeed acted as official campaign spokespeople (such as traveling to U.S. island territories in an effort to whip up primary votes), but mostly off the national stage, as surrogates for Mitt. To me, this walks up to the line of being a "public political figure" in your own right, but doesn't actually cross it.

Ann Romney, however, I would call "fair game." At least for the past month or so. Up until this point, she was not a valid political target, however, as she had limited herself to mostly appearing on stage in front of crowds, and occasionally introducing her husband in the adoring language that only a spouse can truly get away with. Again, to me, this walks up to the line, but doesn't actually cross it into "fair game" territory.

But once Mitt realized he had two big problems, Ann began taking on a bigger role. Mitt's problem is he is not so good at the whole "human being" thing (which most political people call "charisma"). He's not the guy most voters would pick to "have a beer with," to put it another way. Then, a few weeks ago, the Republican anti-women's-rights campaign became a major issue and -- coincidentally -- his poll numbers among women voters went over a cliff. So Mitt had a problem connecting to average voters, and an even bigger problem connecting to women voters.

This is where the Romney campaign sought to re-define Ann. She became Mitt's go-to "consultant" on women's matters, and she started giving her own speeches. Putting Ann in the spotlight, the campaign figured, would "humanize" Mitt.

But what it also did was make it entirely fair and reasonable for Mitt's opponents to bring Ann into the political conversation. She is now (or was, three days ago) "fair game."

To the Democrats' dismay, however, the first person to take on Ann's new persona happened to be Hilary Rosen. And her effort backfired in an enormous way. The Right began howling that Rosen was attacking "stay-at-home-Moms" and conservatives' beliefs that choosing motherhood over a career is a valid (indeed, "the correct," to listen to them) lifestyle choice for any American woman to make. Rosen's point about how Ann Romney had the luxury of making this choice, knowing that her family would not suffer financially as a result, was entirely lost.

What else is likely lost is the chance to ever contradict Ann Romney in any way for the entire rest of the campaign. Barack Obama immediately jumped into the fray (which was the right thing to do -- get your response out as fast as possible) and declared Ann Romney and the Romney boys off-limits for Democrats. Period.

This will free the Romney campaign up to deploy Ann in whatever fashion they choose, full in the knowledge that she will be completely immune to any official contradiction from the Obama campaign whatsoever. That is a very large price to pay, when the general election campaign is less than a week old.

I think Ann Romney isn't going to get all that much traction out of keeping the pressure up on the "Mommy War" front. I think that women who see things through this lens are already likely going to be voting for Mitt this year. Independents will either ignore the whole fray, listen to what both sides are actually saying, or seriously compare the life Ann Romney has led with their own (and draw their own conclusions). So I really don't think this is all that big a weapon in the larger "War on Women" theme which is going to run throughout this entire campaign. I could be wrong about all of that, but that's how I feel at the moment.

The Obamas decided to take the moral high road and declare wives and children off-limits. This may pay off for them later, because they will be able to call on Mitt Romney to denounce any attacks leveled at Michelle Obama. First Ladies can indeed be political targets, but usually this is restricted to their chosen issues -- and Michelle trying to keep kids healthy and fighting hard for military veterans doesn't really present many opportunities. But Barack can cut off any such talk before it has a chance to spread, thanks to his reaction to this controversy.

But what this means is that both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney may enjoy a certain immunity for the rest of this election cycle. Whether this was worth it or not remains to be seen.

Call It The Reagan Rule

[ Posted Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 – 14:47 PDT ]
President Barack Obama is using the week before income taxes are due to make a full-court press for the vote next week in the Senate on the so-called "Buffett Rule" (which would force people making a million bucks a year to pay higher taxes than their secretaries). Today, he mentioned what could turn out to be the biggest weapon in this fight, and made a joke about what it should be called instead. Obama shouldn't be treating it as a joke, though. He should take his own advice and publicly rename the idea the "Reagan Rule" -- and then run a television ad explaining why to the country.
Before we get to that, though, a quick review is necessary. Monday, ThinkProgress uploaded a video to YouTube. The same day, Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi were emailing the link to journalists. When I viewed the ad on Monday, it had less than 500 views. It now has over 72,000. I encourage everyone reading this to view this clip right now (it's only about a minute long) and add to this total.

Published on Apr 9, 2012 by
The Buffett Rule, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, would ensure that every American pays their fair share of taxes. A look back in time shows that President Obama is not the only president who thinks restoring fairness to the tax code is a good idea.

The video is simple. It shows a longish clip of Ronald Reagan giving a speech in 1985, and then a much shorter one of Barack Obama at the end, seemingly agreeing with Ronnie. Today, President Obama gave a speech in strong support of the Buffett Rule. In it, he explains the Reagan video clip:

Let me just close by saying this. I'm not the first president to call for this idea that everybody has got to do their fair share. Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept. He gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong. So this president gave another speech where he said it was "crazy" -- that's a quote -- that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary. That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.
He thought that, in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so. I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days, but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we’re calling for now: a return to basic fairness and responsibility; everybody doing their part. And if it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule.
Obama kind of played it as a joke. This is wrong. He should follow his own advice, and start calling it the Reagan Rule. Democrats in the Senate should immediately rename the bill they're setting up for a vote the "Ronald Reagan Tax Rule." Every Democrat interviewed anywhere in the next solid month should refuse to utter the phrase "Buffett Rule" and instead insist upon referring to it as the "Reagan Rule" -- leaving it up to the interviewer to explain what he's talking about.

Some might discount this as cheap political trickery, or a crass example of "framing" or "branding" gone amok. I could not disagree more. Whoever dug up that clip over at ThinkProgress was brilliant to do so, and Obama's speech writing team was equally brilliant at coming up with the "Reagan Rule" quip. But now Democrats should follow through on it in a big way, to drive the point home with a sledgehammer.

Rarely in politics is there an idea which covers so much ground at the same time. Republicans would have to tie themselves in knots explaining why Reagan really didn't mean what he is -- quite obviously -- actually saying. This would hit the Republican Party hard, and they would spend valuable time bickering over the implications. The ways this would be effective are almost too lengthy to list, so we'll just briefly touch upon a few of them:

Saint Ronald of Reagan

The modern Republican Party has all but sanctified Ronald Wilson Reagan. This worshipful adoration is on display whenever they hold a debate in Ronnie's presidential library, under the looming wings of the previous Air Force One plane he used to ride around in. Reagan, quite bluntly, never did anything wrong or questionable to today's Republicans. However, mythologizing aside, Reagan actually did many things which would, as Obama pointed out, have disqualified him for national office in today's GOP. The public needs to be reminded of a few of these things, and this clip is the best way to do so that I have yet seen.

Reasonable and understandable

What Reagan is saying is reasonable and understandable to virtually every American voter. It is the core of the "Buffett Rule" -- people making millions of dollars per year should not be able to pay a lower tax rate than firefighters, police, and those serving in the U.S. military. To say nothing of their secretaries. Overwhelming percentages of the American public agree with this concept, every single time they are polled on the question. It is a popular (and a Populist) message: these folks need to pay their fair share. Even Reagan knew it. And there are millions of what used to be called "Reagan Democrats" out there who would agree with Ronnie, and agree with the concept, if they saw this video in an ad.

GOP extremism

Ronald Reagan had another favorite saying which needs to be turned back around. Reagan (say it softly) started out his career as a Democrat. To explain his party switch, he used to say "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me." This is exactly where millions of voters are now finding themselves who used to be reliable Republican base voters -- not even swing voters. They used to happily vote the straight GOP party ticket, secure in the knowledge that the more extreme wing of their party was held in check by saner heads in the party leadership. This is no longer true -- the GOP leadership is now terrified of the extremists in their party, because the extremists have risen to such power and prominence. Again, voters need to be reminded of this. Ronald Reagan couldn't win a Republican primary today in many "red" states. Reagan's not the reason for this change -- instead, the Republican Party "left him." Democrats need to make exactly this case to Republican rank-and-file voters who are horrified at how extreme their own party has become. A good way to do this is to point out: "Today's Republican Party would kick out Ronald Reagan because he wasn't extreme enough to pass their purity tests."

Puts GOP on defensive

Ronald Reagan, as previously mentioned, never did a single thing wrong as president, according to today's Republicans. Having to explain why their patron saint supported the same idea Barack Obama is now pushing is a tough row for them to now hoe. They can't badmouth Reagan -- this is simply not an option. They can't very easily explain how your lyin' ears are hearing something different than what Reagan "really said" -- because that video clip is so obvious and clear. This entire debate is a great one for Democrats to have with Republicans, because it causes Republicans to play defense on a field they are not used to defending. It is distracting from their own "class warfare" argument (easy answer: "Are you calling Reagan a class warrior?"), and it only shows how reasonable and centrist the popular idea is.

Romney's key vulnerability

Lastly, this goes straight to the heart of Mitt Romney's biggest vulnerability: the fact that he seems to be some mutant offspring of Richie Rich, Scrooge McDuck, and the Monopoly icon Rich Uncle Pennybags. With maybe a bit of C. Montgomery Burns thrown in, for flavor. The more people are talking about Romney's taxes, the better, for Democrats.

For all these reasons (and others), we have to conclude that Obama's idea is not a laughing matter -- it's not just a throwaway joke in one speech. Or it shouldn't be, if Democrats were smarter about the entire concept of "branding" and "framing." Democratic politicians need to start saying things like "We will be holding a vote on the Reagan Rule next week, and I will be very interested to see how many Republicans can bring themselves to vote against the Reagan Rule -- and how they will explain that vote to the public in the coming months. Ronald Reagan supported the idea that people like Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett shouldn't be paying a smaller tax rate than their secretaries. I'm simply astounded that today's Republicans are ignoring what Ronald Reagan had to say about this important fairness issue. But, as I said, we'll see how many Republicans vote against the Reagan Rule next week."

Because of the explosive nature of the video itself, the Democrats in charge of re-electing Obama should prepare the Reagan clip as a television ad, and then run it during one of the national network morning news shows. The ad is so powerful, all it would require would be one airing. After that, it would snowball on its own. It would be featured on news shows for a solid week, gaining millions of viewers in exposure that wouldn't cost a dime, as the anchors explained why Democrats have changed the name of their bill.
Obama is right, and it is no joke -- it is a powerful political statement that is begging to be made, right now. Call it the "Reagan Rule." Do so often.
-- Chris Weigant

Reviving the Mommy Wars

We seek to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.

April 12th, 2012 by Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse
Hillary Clinton created a firestorm back in 1992 when she remarked in an interview that she guessed she could have just stayed home and baked cookies.  Fast forward to 2012 and Hilary Rosen — who has visited the White House more than 35 times — attacks Ann Romney, mother of five boys, for “never work[ing] a day in her life.”  Just when we thought the left couldn’t get more insensitive and condescending toward conservative women and derisive of the concept of motherhood, the Democrats’ narrative about a supposed GOP “war on women” gets exposed to reveal the long-standing, patronizing, and extremely abusive feminist “war on conservative women.”

All it takes is a quick look at all the magazine features about “women of the year” or “outstanding women” to discover that the media elites and leftist women in politics and punditry have zero knowledge of the accomplishments of conservative women; nor do they understand or appreciate the contributions to society and the future of the nation by those women who “choose” to nurture and raise their own children.

Rosen’s put-down of Ann Romney also reveals an appalling lack of understanding about the work involved in raising your own children.  I am a career woman who chose to stay home with my children when they were young; those years flew by and were just a blip that hardly registered on my career path.  But, for me and for my children, those were incredibly productive and important years; both they and I are still reaping the benefits of that investment of my time, talents and energies.  It is very short-sighted of Hilary Rosen and others of her ilk to poke fun at those of us who put our husbands and children at the top of our priorities.  Anyone who looks at the fractured families that are so prevalent today will recognize that the nation and individual families are paying an exorbitant price for making family and children’s well-being an afterthought in women’s lives.

I also have to add that, for me, those stay-at-home years were the hardest work I have ever done.  Mothering would be much easier if, during the day, someone else cleans up all the messes, fixes all the meals, does all the laundry, picks up all the toys, handles the squabbles, and is on call for nine hours straight!

But, I feel sorry for working moms; they miss out on the joy of each new discovery their children make.  I didn’t want someone else to have those daily moments of pleasure.  I didn’t want someone else’s values and attitudes shaping my children’s outlook and attitudes toward life.  I didn’t want someone else training and nurturing my children and determining their future prospects and influencing their day-to-day development.

Yes, I understand that, for some women, staying home is not an option, but many are merely sacrificing their time with their children for a nicer house or car, a luxury that would otherwise be out of reach, or a splashy vacation or other perk of modern life that seems necessary at the time.

I am fully aware of — and experienced and survived — the significant financial and career sacrifices families make to live on only one income during their children’s formative years.  I am even more aware of the hefty sacrifices that many of those families make when it comes to their children’s well-being and the mom’s emotional fulfillment.  That latter consideration is certainly part of the reason for the underlying venom in leftist women’s disdain for stay-at-home mothers.

Pick up any women’s magazine today, and you’ll find stories of exhausted women who have no interest or time for themselves, their families, for sex or for homemaking — gorgeous kitchens with the latest in refrigerators and stoves are unused as family members pick up fast food on their way to somewhere besides home.  Read any newspaper, and you’ll see accounts of wealthy kids who are in trouble and kids from tony neighborhoods who are runaways or throwaway teens.  When my children were pre-teens, the dean of my husband’s university college laughingly told us, while making conversation during a cocktail party, that his son had dropped out of high school to “find himself.”  Here was a man with a Ph.D. and a long list of academic accomplishments whose son dropped out of high school.

What was it both Barbara Bush and Jacqueline Kennedy said?  If you fail at being a mother to your children, nothing else matters.

Concerned Women For America
Press Release

April 12, 2012
CWA Responds to Rosen’s Ann Romney Comment

Washington, D.C. — Democrat strategist and DNC advisor Hilary Rosen says that Ann Romney, who raised five boys, “never worked a day in her life.” Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, says in the brief statement below that raising kids is the hardest and most important work in the world:
“Rosen is wrong on so many levels. Stay-at-home moms hold the purse strings for the family. Statistically, they are better qualified to give economic advice then Obama’s advisors. Talk about energy policy, these women see the effects every day of desperately trying to manage paying almost four dollars a gallon for gas at the pump. They make tough choices to live within their families’ budget every month, something this administration is clearly unable to do."
"Stay-at-home moms are also experts in the areas of education, nutrition, and a host of other issues. Rosen’s remarks expose a deeper problem with the values of this administration and even sometimes society at large. We say raising kids is the hardest and most important work in the world. How does this administration not get how important stay-at-home moms are to our nation? Haven’t they heard the saying, ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’? And in this case, it swings elections.”