Last week a furor broke out over comments Mike Huckabee, the arch-religious conservative, made about Oscar winner Natalie Portman. You see, Natalie had committed the absolute worst sin:
And no, I'm not talking about the fact that she starred in a movie with Ashton Kutcher.
Portman's sin was that she had the AUDACITY to get pregnant out of wedlock. This is completely unacceptable. Who in the Hell does Natalie Portman think she is? Bristol Palin?
During an interview with conservative radio host Michael Medved, Huckabee had his Dan Quayle moment. This is what he said:
"You know Michael, one of the things that's troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, 'Hey look, you know, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having these children, and they're doing just fine.' But there aren't really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that's the story that we're not seeing, and it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of having children out of wedlock.
You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids -- across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering."
Is Huckabee telling the truth? Are "most" single moms very poor, uneducated, and can't get a job?
The short answer is no. The long answer is this: 80 percent of single mothers work. Fewer than 10 percent are recipients of TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families). And 26 percent live below the poverty line.
26 percent! I suck at math, but even I know that 26 percent is not "most."
In a recent post for The Nation, Melissa Harris-Perry said that maybe Huckabee was really attacking teen mothers. After all, that's where the real crisis is. Only 50 percent of teen mothers finish high school. And the children of teens have higher risk of being born prematurely, having low birth rate, and dying during infancy.
I've seen "16 and Pregnant." I've seen teenage mothers holding their baby while sitting at the bus stop. I've seen my own 16 year-old sister struggle to take care of her kid.
And there is nothing sadder than a pregnant teenager. Because you already know that the odds of her kid making it in this cruel world is slim.
But Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is just like every other card-carrying member of the Religious Right. They believe the way to get teen girls to stop having babies is to teach them abstinence.
Teaching kids abstinence is like sending Charlie Sheen to rehab. It doesn't work. It's counterproductive.
According to the CDC Healthwatch, the states with the highest teen birth rates were the states that emphasized abstinence-only programs. The five worst states (with rates of 60 pregnancies per 1,000 teens) are Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and . . . (drumroll) . . . ARKANSAS, Huckabee's old stomping ground.
Meanwhile, the states with the lowest teen birth rates (25 pregnancies per 1,000 teens) are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. And they all offer sex education to their high school students. They teach them about the birds and the bees. They tell them, "Girls, you have a vagina. Boys, you have a penis. And when two people love each other, they have sex. And then they get married, and they stop having sex!"
To Mike Huckabee and all the other Christian Conservatives, here's something I want to "impregnate" into your skulls: You CANNOT have it both ways. You can't reject sex education, tell women they can't have safe (AND LEGAL) abortions, or access to birth control, and then turn around and complain that there are too many out-of-wedlock children in America.
If you guys want to reduce the number of women who have children out of wedlock, tell those Republican assholes in the House of Representatives to not defund Planned Parenthood. That would be the logical thing to do. But logic is a street that you guys refuse to drive on.
And these Christian Conservatives are the same Republicans who are so in favor of "personal freedom." But that freedom is restricted only to those who walk and talk the way they do. If you don't believe in their God, if you have an out-of-wedlock baby, if you have an abortion, and if you're gay, these people turn into the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld:
"No freedom for you!"
Let's go back to Huckabee's comment, the part where he says . . . "75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids -- across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering."
This is the shit that pisses me off! Read between the lines. What he is saying is "these black and hispanic women are having these out-of-wedlock babies. And your tax dollars should not have to take care of their kids!" Every time I hear someone on the right talk about black women having babies, my bullshit radar starts going haywire. After all, it was Ronald Reagan who introduced America to the fairy tale known as the "welfare queen", the unwed black mother who committed welfare fraud, and used her government money to buy Cadillacs.
Ask anybody black and they'll tell you that was a bold-faced lie. Black women weren't taking their welfare checks and buying luxury cars. The truth is that black women were just trying to survive. A few of them were irresponsible, just not all of them. But truth is stranger than fiction. The Republicans needed to demonize welfare and they found poor black women to be easy targets.
Here's some more truth for you: The "cost" of all these black and hispanic kids does NOT come from being born of out wedlock. It comes from 30 years of Republican policies. Policies that cut taxes for rich white guys, while cutting social programs for black and hispanic kids. Policies that gave the economic pie to the wealthy, and gave the middle finger to everybody else.
"No pie for you!"
If Mike Huckabee wanted to criticize a celebrity, why didn't he pick on Lindsay Lohan for being a washed-up jailbird.? Or Kim Kardashian for being insufferable?
Why did he choose Natalie Portman? She may be having an out of wedlock baby, but she's engaged to her babydaddy. This girl is not your typical Hollywood starlet. She's intelligent. She went to Harvard. And there is a zero percent chance that you will ever see her on TMZ flashing her crotch as she steps out of a limo.
And didn't Huckabee watch Star Wars? Doesn't he know Natalie Portman's baby is going to one day defeat Darth Vader and blow up the Death Star?
I guess Huck was too much of a coward to say anything about that out-of-wedlock-baby-having, riding-on-the-coattails-of-her-mama, high-school-dropout Bristol Palin. Guess he didn't want to get mauled by Mama Grizzly.
And just to show how much of a hypocrite Mike Huckabee is, check out this quote he made about 16-year old, unwed Disney star Jamie Lynn Spears (Britney's sister) back in 2007:
"I respect it. Apparently she's going to have the child and I think that it's the right decision, a good decision, and I respect that and appreciate it. I hope it is not an encouragement to other 16 year olds who think that is the best course of action. But at the same time, I'm not going to condemn her."
Of course, now that public opinion has tilted heavily in favor of Portman, Huckabee is trying to walk back his comments, blaming it all on Hollywood and the liberal media. PRICELESS! Hey Mr. Sanctimonious, Hollywood and the media didn't say anything negative about Natalie Portman. YOU DID!
And finally, you know who was raised by a single mother? I WAS! And I seemed to have turned out alright. I got a job. I pay my bills. And I'm not in jail. I have aunts, cousins, and friends who are single mothers. There are millions of single mothers in America. And you know what? Most of them kick ass! They have a hard job, a job made harder by a society that demonizes them but refuses to hold men to the same standards.
So to all you single moms who are out there doing your best, who are out there trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents, and who don't need a man to "put a ring on it," I salute you. And to Mike Huckabee, I salute you to. The only difference is that I'm giving you the one-finger salute.
Care to guess which finger?