Today, Fox News contributor Sandy Rios appeared on America Live to criticize Michelle Obama for promoting breastfeeding. Rios suggested that Obama's initiative might hurt businesses. This would be run-of-the-mill Fox fare (attack the Obamas no matter what they do, however innocuous) except for one thing. Rios specifically said that her problem was that government regulations may be motivated by an interest in promoting breast feeding "in the black community" when "74 percent of American women already breastfeed. We're talking about a problem that is specifically in the black community."
RIOS: There's nothing wrong with promoting breastfeeding. I'm all in favor of that. But you have to remember that 75 percent of American women already breastfeed. We're talking about a problem that is specifically in the black community. And so for you to change federal law and IRS regulations and start forcing businesses to make accommodations for nursing women at their own expense to promote it in the black community is the problem that I have with it.
The health care reform law requires businesses to accommodate nursing mothers and the IRS recently announced that it would give tax breaks for breastfeeding supplies. Rios evidently has a problem with this.
It is true that Michelle Obama has stressed the relatively low rates of breastfeeding among black women. But would "forcing businesses to make accommodations for nursing women" be less of a problem for Rios if the breastfeeding rates were equally low among white women as black women? Her criticism is puzzling given that the new regulations make life easier for both women who start breastfeeding as a result of the regulations as well as those that already do breastfeed.
From the February 15 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Radio host, Townhall.com columnist, and Fox News Channel contributor Sandy Rios wants to know if Rep. Mark Kirk is gay, or if Kirk's roommate is gay. Probably whether Kirk has ever even met a gay man, too, though she doesn't quite spell that out in her strange diatribe.
Nor is Rios entirely clear on why she wants to know if Kirk is gay. On the one hand, she keeps suggesting that as a gay man, Kirk would be vulnerable to blackmail, apparently for fear of being ostracized if he was outted. On the other hand, Rios writes "Homosexuality has now been mainstreamed and de-stigmatized. Any reason not to be open and honest has now been removed," which would seem to undermine the whole "blackmail" fear.
One thing Rios is sure of: Being gay is just like sending sexually-explicit messages to teenagers working as congressional pages:
[P]ress and Republicans alike are rushing to pooh-pooh what, in spite of the weakness of the messenger, has been the topic of discussion in Washington and elsewhere for quite some time. So, where is the reporting? Where are the cameras? The gleaning of records? The follow up on accusations?
Republicans did the same thing in the Mark Foley/Congressional page scandal. Republican leaders knew about Foley but for some inexplicable reason, covered for him. Do they want to repeat the same here?
The rest of Rios' anti-gay screed is just as spurious, like her claim that we need to know if Kirk is gay "Because we are at war" and a gay Kirk might vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, "in spite of the fact that military experts from the top down have argued continually that open homosexuality will harm unit cohesion and have a detrimental effect on morale."
That would be news to General John Shalikashvili, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has said "if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces." And to Charles Larson, a four-star admiral and former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy who joined more than 100 other retired Admirals and Generals in calling for the repeal of DADT. And to former Defense Secretary William Cohen and Colin Powell, both of whom have said the policy needs to be reviewed.