Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Family: Former Sen. George McGovern 'no longer responsive'

Tell him you love him, tell him it is okay, he can still hear you. Tell him what you have always wanted to say.  He is on a journey, one that will take him home.  The journey is long, the preparation is now.  I know this journey, I have been on it with both of my parents, my mom in 2005, my dad in 2008. They pick the time, usually when you have left the room, even for a second.  Kiss his forehead and hold his hand. We went to dinner that night my sisters and me, and we toasted my mom and dad, because they were together again, home in God's heavenly home

The former Democratic Sen. George McGovern, who lost the 1972 presidential election to Richard Nixon and gained fame throughout his career for his devotion to fighting hunger and opposing war.
The family of ex-U.S. Sen. George McGovern says the 90-year-old is "no longer responsive" in hospice care.
His daughter Ann McGovern told The Associated Press that her father is "nearing the end" and appears restful and peaceful. She says it's a blessing that she and other family members are able to be with him.
McGovern was the Democratic presidential candidate who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, winning only 37.5 percent of the popular vote and carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in one of the worst defeats in U.S. history.
Despite the devastating loss, McGovern’s legacy as one of the most liberal candidates of the last half century looms large among politicians of the Baby Boom generation.
While campaigning in 2008, Hillary Clinton boasted of her work registering Latinos to vote in Texas for McGovern, according to the Huffington Post; she moved there in 1972 with her husband Bill Clinton, who was tasked with organizing the state.
McGovern's grassroots campaign was immortalized, too, for its central role in Hunter S. Thompson’s series of articles compiled in "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72." It was also chronicled by Timothy Crouse in “The Boys on the Bus,” considered one of the first insider looks at campaigning.
George Stanley McGovern was born in 1922 in Avon, South Dakota, a farming town of 600. His father was a pastor who had once dabbled as a basketball player. His mother, a Canadian, had moved to South Dakota looking for secretarial work.
In high school, he excelled at debate, an extracurricular that in 1939 pitted him against twins Ila and Eleanor Stegeberg.
The debate topic, according to a New York Times article from 1972 was, “Resolved: That the United States should form a permanent alliance with Great Britain.”
The twins won, but in the long run so did McGovern – he courted Eleanor through college and married her in 1943. Stegeberg died in 2007.
In college, McGovern won the state’s oratorical contest for his speech, “My Brother’s Keeper,” about one’s responsibility to mankind, according to his personal biography. His education was interrupted by World War II, during which he flew 35 combat missions as a B-24 bomber pilot in Europe -- earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He eventually earned a Ph. D in American history and government and was one of two senators with a Ph. D when he launched his 1972 presidential campaign, according to the Times article.
He was a member of the U.S. House from 1957 to 1961, a U.S. senator for South Dakota from 1963 to 1981 and leader of his party’s liberal wing during that time. He was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam War -- the crux of his platform against Nixon.
In the Times piece, he is quoted telling Playboy magazine:
“The great presidents, in my judgment, weren’t men with the killer instinct. The three biggest presidential monuments in the capital are dedicated to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. These were very tough-minded men, but it wasn’t the killer instinct that guided them.
"I think these were men with a rare degree of prudence, wisdom and compassion – qualities that are much needed now. Some cynics feel that decency in a politician is a handicap.
"But I think a sense of decency – not prudishness nor sanctimonious self-righteousness but old fashioned concern and love for others – will be essential in the next Presidents. That’s the kind of President I want to be.”
Increasingly ill
A historian and prolific author, McGovern had been hospitalized several times in the past year after complaining of fatigue and dizziness.
The New York Times reported that he collapsed in December, moments before he was supposed to appear on C-Span for a series about candidates who weren’t elected.
In recent years, McGovern focused on world hunger. On Wednesday, McGovern's family encouraged people to donate to Feeding South Dakota in honor of the senator.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mitt Romney tells 533 lies in 30 weeks, Steve Benen documents them

I’ve written about or linked to a great deal here “chronicling Mitt’s mendacity” — to borrow Steven Benen’s phrase.

Mitt Romney says many, many things that are not true. He says this despite being in possession of the correct facts of the matter.

Which is to say that Mitt Romney lies. A lot. He lies more than any other national candidate for office in my lifetime. And I was born before the Nixon administration.

This is documented. Proven. Validated, verified, demonstrated, catalogued and quantified. Mitt Romney lies.

Here are 30 — 30! — of Benen’s weekly “chronicling” posts. These are all backed up and sourced. These are not assertions, interpretations or allegations. These are facts, actual instances.

Over the past 30 weeks, Mitt Romney has told lie after lie after lie: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX.

Click those links. Read the lists. List after list of lie after lie. Hundreds of them — 533, to be exact, although Benen does not make any claim to providing a comprehensive chronicle.

This is unprecedented. “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” Romney’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, said.

This has produced what James Fallows calls the “post-truth” age — a relentlessly dishonest onslaught of brazen falsehoods with which the media and the political system are struggling to cope. What do you do when every article, every “fact-check,” every arbiter denounces a lie and corrects it, but then a politician just keeps repeating it?

It’s remarkable to behold.

One of the weirder aspects of this for me is watching this unfold in the politically conservative culture of my evangelical world. The most partisan evangelical conservatives are also those most likely to rant against “relativism” and to trumpet their status as defenders of “absolute truth.” Those same folks will dismiss this post — and all 30 of Benen’s posts above — as mere partisan attacks without ever bothering to examine the 533 factual instances of Mitt’s mendacity, chronicled.

That’s the only cognitive defense they have, I guess. Jam fingers in ears and shout la-la-la-you’re-being-partisan!

Because, you see, the fact that Mitt Romney said something he knew to be false is a partisan fact. And the fact that he has done this at least 533 times in the past 30 weeks is also partisan.

I suppose the other approach for Romney defenders who cannot bear to face the fact of those 533 facts will be to angrily pore over all of Benen’s lists, reading each one with a lawyerly eye.

Have at it. Please. Cherry-pick. Spin. Split hairs. Hand-wave away whichever lies you wish as mere misdemeanors and not full-fledged felonies against honesty.

But how many of those charges do you think you can get dismissed? 10 percent? 20 percent? Maybe, if you’re that sort of person and you work really hard at it — if you’re willing to get even more pedantic and semantic and technical than even you are usually comfortable with — maybe you could half convince yourself that 50 percent of those lies somehow shouldn’t really count against Romney.

That still leaves more than 260 lies. That still leaves Mitt Romney as a convicted liar, 260 times over. And at that point you’ll have to join your friends with their fingers in their ears.

But you’ll still know.

Because everyone knows. Mitt Romney lies. A lot. That is what he does. That is who he is. And friend or foe, he does not care if you know it. the truth matters

The facts are out there, just not in Romney's campaign.

* W. Kamau Bell stars in the new video in the "Actually..." series, and this one focuses on Mitt Romney and climate science. (Note some of the language in the clip is not safe for work.)

Women of all ages explain how a Romney presidency would threaten their their rights, their health, and their equality.
Produced by WeApproveThisMessage, a group of independent Americans who have volunteered their time to help bring our country together.

Mitt thinks he'd have a better chance of become president if he was Latino. In the first video of the Actually... series Rosie Perez explains why it will take more than being Latino for Mitt to win the election.
When lies go unchecked, we all lose. spreads the truth, because the truth matters—even in politics. Our team calls 'em like they see 'em, and we hope you'll support the truth by sharing videos before Election Day.
Actually... is a partnership between American Bridge and JCER. Schlep Labs is a project of JCER. Actually... was produced by Amy Rubin at Barnacle Studios

Harold Pollack teaches health policy and public health. When his mother-in-law died suddenly eight years ago, he and his wife became responsible for his brother-in-law Vincent, who is developmentally disabled. Without help from Medicaid and Medicare they wouldn't have been able to save for their daughters' college or prepare for their future. The 2012 election includes proposals to cut Medicaid by more than $1 trillion, including the repeal of health reform which would deprive tens of millions of people of the opportunity to obtain health insurance.
Dr. Pollack knows first-hand that we are all vulnerable. We need to take care of each other. That's the central issue of this campaign.

Draw The Line – Sign the Bill – SPREAD THE WORD

Attacks on reproductive rights have become rampant. Hostile politicians keep trying to put women down in their speeches and keep women down through their laws. But when news of a movement to fight back reaches the one person capable of spreading the word to EVERYBODY, a revolution is born. 
Join us:

 This is for Mitt & Paul

Vote Romney, Ryan, Republican on November 6.

Laid-off Sensata workers protest against Bain Capital

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, October 15, 2012 18:25 EDT

Mitt Romney via AFP

NEW YORK — US and French workers blaming Bain Capital, the company founded by Mitt Romney, for stripping them of their jobs and outsourcing to China protested Monday outside Bain’s offices in New York.
About 60 people, led by a man in a monster suit depicting Bain Capital, accused the Republican presidential candidate’s former company of costing them their livelihoods.
“Romney wants to see your jobs shipped overseas,” read one of the placards held up at the protest.
Some of the demonstrators were from Sensata Technologies, a Freeport, Illinois plant owned by Bain that makes electronics for cars and which is losing all its 170 jobs to China. Others used to work for US luggage giant Samsonite at a factory in northern France, which Bain briefly owned.
Mary-Jo Kerr, 29, said she’d been working at Sensata for six years and would be unemployed from November — as soon as she and other colleagues have finished training the mostly Chinese workers who will take their place.
“It’s horrible,” she said. “You’ve got to go in there with your head up. You can’t say what you really feel, but you want to cry.”
She and other American Sensata employees, including people who worked at the plant for decades, are being given 26 weeks severance pay, she said.
A lawyer representing the ex-Samsonite workers said they were suing Bain Capital in a Boston court over its actions in France, where the investment firm allegedly deliberately ran the business into the ground so that the plant could be shut down.
“They understand in fact that the group taking the decisions was not the people on the board of Samsonite but the people at Bain Capital here in the United States,” Fiodor Rilov said. “In the lawsuit they want to show that Bain Capital was involved in an illegal process in France.”
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, retired from Bain in 1999 and his investments there are controlled by a blind trust, effectively nullifying his links to the firm. Romney has defended himself against accusations that he was a corporate raider, saying that Bain has created large numbers of jobs.

The Oligarchs Are Nervous: Now We Have CEOs Threatening Workers to Vote Romney

Despite the millions upon millions the oligarchs are pouring into their candidate, they're not running away with the election. Courts are pushing back on their voter suppression initiatives, and they're not getting a margin that guarantees their guy the win.
In the battle for control of our country, they're willing to use every weapon at their disposal. Today's weapon of choice is the employee intimidation spray gun.
Over at Koch Industries, a nice little voter pamphlet went out to 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees. Mike Lux found himself in possession of a copy and let us all in on the secret.
The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month. The cover letter, by Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson, read:
While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit.
If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.
Enclosed with the letter was a flyer listing Koch-endorsed candidates, beginning with Romney. Robertson’s letter explained: “At the request of many employees, we have also provided a list of candidates in your state that have been supported by Koch companies or by KOCHPAC, our employee political action committee.”
The packet also included an anti-Obama editorial by Charles Koch and a pro-Romney editorial by David Koch. The letter went on to say, “We believe any decision about which candidates to support is—as always—yours and yours alone, based on the factors that are most important to you. Second, we do not support candidates based on their political affiliation.”
In the flyer sent to Oregon employees, all 14 Koch-backed state candidates were Republicans.
This isn't new. They did it in 2010, and they did it with their little Prosperity 101 seminar employees had to take last year.
But it isn't only the Koch boys. As Heather posted on Sunday, ASG Software Solutions also sent a threatening letter to its employees saying that their jobs were in jeopardy if they didn't make darn sure Mitt Romney was elected. And Westgate Resorts CEO took similar action.
Here's what you need to know. This is a coordinated effort to force support for Mitt Romney. It's just as obvious as the coal CEO docking his employees and making them contribute to Romney's campaign. There isn't a major corporate presence in this country that Romney hasn't touched or crossed in his Bain Capital dealings, and while he might not be one of the oligarchs, he is most certainly the oligarchs' ideal choice to guard the henhouse and provide the digits on command for signatures on their key legislation.
It doesn't stop with coordinated employee intimidation either. Brad Friedman has another report out that ought to raise the hackles on everyone's neck. It seems that Bain Capital owns a hefty share of a voting machine company. Via The Free Press:
The majority of the directors of Hart come from the private equity firm H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. has been heavily invested in Hart Intercivic since July 2011, just in time for the current presidential election cycle. But who is H.I.G Capital?
Out of 49 partners and directors, 48 are men, and 47 are white. Eleven of these men, including H.I.G. Founder Tony Tamer, were formerly employed at Bain and Company, and two of those men, John P. Bolduc and Douglas Berman are Romney bundlers along with former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.
Additionally, four of these men were formerly employed at Booz Allen Hamilton. Bush family friendly Carlyle group is an owner of Booz Allen which also made voting machines for the United States military. Booz Allen was also the key subcontractor for the controversial PioneerGroundbreaker program, an NSA data mining operation that gathered information on American citizens until it was shut down and replaced with even more invasive successor programs like MATRIX and Total Information Awareness.
Awesome. And Brad has more.
Lee Fang at The Nation recently confirmed the FreePress reporting in a story of his own on the "crony capitalism" of Tagg Romney, whose father's money and high-profile connections present a number of troubling corporate conflicts of interest should Mitt Romney become President. Also this week, in a video that has gone a bit viral, The David Pakman Show expressed understandable concerns about Romney's close business partners having this type of corporate control over a large e-voting company whose, extremely vulnerable and insecure [PDF] --- and often 100% unverifiable --- voting and tabulation systems are now used, according to's database, in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. [Pakman's video is embedded below.]
Rule of the oligarchs: If at first you're not succeeding, buy the system and break it.
But I don't write all of this to discourage anyone. Indeed, just the opposite. The only way to overcome their influence is to overwhelm it, and the only way to overwhelm it is by showing up to vote in unprecedented numbers. Because if they succeed, then it really won't matter what happens next. This country will look like Wisconsin after Scott Walker was elected, or Texas, or Rick Scott's Florida. That's what these guys want.
They're restless, and they're hungry, and they can be defeated.

Stoning Rebellious Children? A Look At Dominionism

There’s a story going around the internet about a candidate for state office in Arkansas who wrote a book that argues, among other things, that parents should be able to have rebellious children executed. Here’s more:

Charlie Fuqua, the Republican candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives who called forexpelling Muslims from the United States in his book, also wrote in support for instituting the death penalty for “rebellious children.”
In “God’s Law,” Fuqua’s 2012 book, the candidate wrote that while parents love their children, a process could be set up to allow for the institution of the death penalty for “rebellious children,” according to the Arkansas Times. Fuqua, who is anti-abortion, points out that the course of action involved in sentencing a child to death is described in the Bible and would involve judicial approval. While it is unlikely that many parents would seek to have their children killed by the government, Fuqua wrote, such power would serve as a way to stop rebellious children.
Here’s a longer quote as well:
The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellious children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death. Why is this so? Other than the love Christ has for us, there is no greater love then that of a parent for their child. The last people who would want to see a child put to death would be the parents of the child. Even so, the Scripture provides a safe guard to protect children from parents who would wrongly exercise the death penalty against them. Parents are required to bring their children to the gate of the city. The gate of the city was the place where the elders of the city met and made judicial pronouncements. In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children, however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.
In other words, Fuqua has gleaned his ideas about stoning rebellious children from his reading of the Bible or, more particularly, the Old Testament. And this is where my commentary comes in.

I’ve written a bit before about Dominionism and Reconstructionism. I think a distinction between the two is in order, because I think the two are too often elided. To put it simply, Dominionism is the wider category, including Christians whose ideas about the role of religion in government range from innocuous to extreme, and Reconstructionism is a subset within it.

Dominionism is the idea that God has commanded Christians to “take dominion” over the earth. Many other religions have a similar mandate. Dominionists believe they are to work to create a society that reflects their religious ideals. They want to create a Christian society. However, it’s important to remember that most dominionists don’t actually want a theocracy, and most don’t condone the use of force. While dominionism forms the foundation of the Christian Right, most dominionists don’t see changing society as primarily about a top-down political change. Many dominionists see winning converts through evangelism and thus spreading Christianity and Christian values as the most important aspect of taking dominion. This is why many dominionists see cultural arenas like television and the arts as critically important areas of focus. In general, dominionists’ ideal society is very like a highly idealized version of the 1950s where families stay together, mothers are happy homemakers, everyone has a job (all the males, that is), and people dress like they do in Mad Men.

Christian Reconstructionism is a subset of dominionism that has as its goal a society based on Old Testament law. See the difference? It’s a pretty big difference. Reconstructionists want to return to a world where rebellious children are stoned, gay people are stoned, adulterers are stoned, and, well, you’re starting to get the idea. They take a literal interpretation of Old Testament law and make that their guidebook. The majority of America’s evangelicals and fundamentalists absolutely object to this kind of thing. Why? Because they believe that Jesus overturned Old Testament law, meaning that it is no longer valid. In contrast, some Reconstructionists argue that Old Testament law is still in effect while others say that though it’s not mandatory anymore it’s still God’s ideal.

While there are lots of dominionists there are very few Reconstructionists. Charlie Fuqua, however, is clearly one of them.

Rousas Rushdoony is widely regarded as the founder of Reconstructionism (For more on Rushdoony, see this wiki article). He and his son-in-law Gary North have been some of its strongest proponents. North is the author of this little nugget:
Why stoning? There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost…executions are community projects–not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his’ duty, but rather with actual participants…That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians.
There are also ties between Reconstructionism and the Christian homeschool movement, most especially the Christian Patriarchy segment. For one thing, most Reconstructionists argue that homeschooling is a divine mandate. For another thing, Rushdoony has been a key influence on a lot of Christian homeschool curriculum. The Christian Patriarchy movement has strong ties with Reconstructionism. Bill Gothard, for instance, argues that while Old Testament law is no longer in effect it’s still the best way to do things, or else God wouldn’t have given it in the first place. He even advocates returning to Old Testament purity standards regarding menstruation and how long to wait after birth before sex can take place. Doug Phillips of Vision Forum sells Rousas Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law with a ringing endorsement.

Of course, the ties between homeschooling and dominionism are even stronger, especially through institutions like Home School Legal Defense, Teen Pact, and Generation Joshua. Indeed, the most prominent Christian homeschool leader, Michael Farris, is very open about his dominionism. He frequently tells homeschool parents that they are the Moses generation, taking their children out of Egypt and educating them in the wilderness, and that their children are the Joshua generation who will retake the land for God. Farris founded Patrick Henry University for just this purpose: training homeschool graduates in government, education, and film so that they can go forth and take dominion, spreading a Christian influence through all segments of society. Of course, unlike Rushdoony or North, Farris does not believe in re-instituting Old Testament law.

While dominionism generally involves a troubling and often problematic mixture of politics and religion, Reconstructionism is, quite simply, breathtakingly frightening.
So there you have it. Hopefully this brief introduction to dominionism and Reconstructionism provides some helpful background to Charlie Fuqua, his book, and his candidacy.

  Mitt Romney Doesn’t Get Women

There’s been lots and lots of talk about Romney’s positions on women, especially his anecdote about seeking out “binders full of women” when appointing people to state positions as governor (which by the way turned out to be false).  Frankly, I don’t have time to get into everything Romney has said about women, or his flip flopping and double talk about things like insurance coverage of contraception or whether he would work to outlaw abortion. And frankly, lots of other people out there are addressing these things, so it’s not like I have to. But I do want to touch on a couple of Romney’s comments, one from last night, one from a couple of weeks ago, and a third from a couple of months ago.
Mitt Romney and June Cleaver
The first quote deals with women in the workforce:
“I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.” (source)
This comment really bugs me because it’s so close and yet so far – and also because Romney seems to think that he hits it out of the park when he says this kind of thing, which is telling. In one sense, his comment sounds totally fine. He’s right, moms should be allowed to have flexible hours. I totally agree. But I don’t think that moms need flexible hours because they are moms, and that’s where Romney goes awry. Moms need flexible hours because they are parents. And dads need flexible hours too.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: We need to move away form making this a mom issue and toward making it a parent issue. Only then can we actually achieve equality in the workforce. As it is, male employers look at women with children and assume that they will need extra allowances men won’t need (not that that means they’ll necessarily give those allowances). If we could approach parenting equally – as an equal commitment of both mother and father – then we could move away from this and move in a positive direction. Parents need things like flexible schedules. Both parents, male and female. If I am given allowances, I don’t want it to be because of my gender, I want it to be because I’m a parent, and I want my husband to be given those same allowances as well (of course, the fact that only cis women and trans men can be pregnant or breastfeed does mean there will have to be a few differences early on).
And more and more, families do approach parenting equally. Men and women share the housework and the child rearing. But somehow I don’t feel like Mitt realizes this, perhaps because he’s never experienced it. Instead, he assumes that his female staffer with children needs allowances that he wouldn’t allow a male staffer with children. He assumes that his female staffer needs a flexible schedule because she needs to do mom things like cooking and child care, not because she’s a parent.
As other commenters have suggested, Romney appears to look at his female staffer and see June Cleaver. Well, Mr. Romney, I am not June Cleaver. And nor are the vast majority of women today.
Kids need a stay at home parent…
The second comment of Romney’s that got under my skin was this one, made in the context of a discussion about early childhood education and preparing children for kindergarten:
“It’s an advantage to have two parents, but to have one parent to stay closely connected and at home during those early years of education can be very very important.” (source)
Romney says it is “very very important” to have one parent stay home and not work during a child’s toddler and preschool years. First, kudos to Romney for not saying that it has to be the female parent, but I’m pretty sure he only avoided saying that out of political necessity and not because he really thinks all parents are created equal. I’m pretty sure that when he thinks of a parent being “closely connected and at home,” he’s thinking of a parent with lady parts. But let’s overlook that for a moment. While I’m, like I said above, all for making the stay at home mom issue into a stay at home parent issue, and I’m all for the growing number of stay at home dads, I have a big problem with this idea that a parent has to stay at home for those early years, or else the child is somehow going to be messed up or given the short shrift.
We put Sally in daycare not long after she learned how to walk, and Bobby will start daycare around the same time. I personally don’t think that being in daycare and now preschool has been “second best” for Sally, and Sean agrees with me. We went into the whole daycare thing a bit nervous as both Sean and I had stay at home moms, but Sean told me about six months ago that based on our experience he now thinks of daycare as a positive good rather than a necessary evil, and feels that daycare gives a child more advantages than staying home with a stay at home parent. Now every family and child is different and daycares vary in quality so I would never try to dictate our choices to others, but I can say with absolute confidence that Romney’s comment that having a stay at home parent is necessary and that daycare somehow automatically gives a child a short shrift is bullshit.
There’s another level on which Romney’s comment fails as well. Even though there are more and more and more stay at home dads these days, being a stay at home parent is still seen as more a mom’s responsibility than a dad’s responsibility. If a couple has a child and decides that one of them needs to stay home, their friends and family will generally assume that it will be the mother who will stay home, and it generally will be. So suggesting that kids who don’t have a stay at home parent will be messed up ends up being simply another way to lob guilt at working mothers. Indeed, when I heard this comment it was impossible not to read it as a personal attack. After all, this idea that working mothers are bad for children has a long history, and it is in this cultural context that people hear comments like Romney’s.
…but welfare moms better get a job 
As I hear Romney’s comments and compare them to other comments he has made, I’m struck more and more by his classism.
“While I was governor,” Romney said, “85 percent of the people on a form of welfare assistance in my state had no work requirement. I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’” (source)
Reading this statement in which Romney argues that mothers of small children on welfare need the “dignity of work” and should be required to work and put their kids in daycare side by side with his statement that it is “very very important” that one parent “stay closely connected and at home” during a child’s early years is flabbergasting. It simply doesn’t make sense. If everyone needs “the dignity of work,” then why in the world does he place so much importance on having a stay at home parent? And what about Anne Romney? She never had a job outside the home – which is what he’s saying mothers who take welfare need – so was she robbed of “the dignity of work?”
Romney appears to believe that middle and upper class mothers should stay at home with their children but that poor mothers better work. Poor mothers need “the dignity of work,” but middle and upper class mothers don’t. This is so twisted and wrong it’s making my head hurt. Either people – all people – need “the dignity of work,” or Romney’s claim that this is why he wants mothers on welfare to be forced to get jobs is a smokescreen.
I honestly think it makes it worse that Romney is clearly trying, and yet still falling so short on these issues. He intentionally says that a “parent” needs to stay home with the kids, not that mothers need to, and he trumpets the fact that he gave a woman on his staff extra flexibility so that she could go home to cook and care for her children, but he doesn’t realize that he’s still reinforcing the ideas that working mothers are bad for children and should be expected to pull a double shift, both of which are ideas we need to do away with for once and for all. But the fact that Romney thinks he scores when he says these things means he’s really out of touch with the needs and lives of women like me.
There’s also the fact that he can talk about the importance of having two parents and tout the importance of marriage while refusing to allow gay people to marry. Romney is all for families … so long as they’re his “approved” type of families. Gay families don’t count, and as we learned last night he sees single parents as a cause of gun violence. Oh, and families that are on welfare don’t seem to be approved either, so you better not get too poor if you want to be on Romney’s good side. For Romney, the “approved” type of family is the two parent, opposite gender, not-in-poverty family where one parent stays home when the children are small and the lady parent always cook supper. And that’s simply not the reality for my family, or for the vast majority of American families.
The reality is that Mitt Romney comes across as horribly out of touch every time the word “women” comes out of his mouth.
Note: I’d like to invite my readers to use the comments section to discuss not only what I’ve written about here but also to bring up and discuss other statements made by Mitt Romney on women’s issues. Depending on how the discussion goes, I may copy and past some of your comments offering additional Romney quotes and analyses to the bottom of this post.