If The Soul Fits, Wear It

We’re sure Bruce Caswell is a nice man. He’s a retired schoolteacher and school superintendent. He coached his high school track team to four consecutive state championships. He has a long record of community service. He’s been married for thirty-seven years.

And, as a Michigan state senator, he recently proposed denying new clothes to foster children.

Did we mention that Bruce Caswell was also named his county’s “Republican of the Year” in 2007?

When questioned about his proposal by Michigan Radio, he explained that he wanted to make sure the $80 annual clothing benefit was spent as intended. But when pressed on the matter, he also said this:

“I never had anything new,” Caswell says. “I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was — and quite frankly it’s true — once you’re out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes.”

Yes, that’s right: Bruce Caswell quoted his dad to justify denying new clothes to foster children. You don’t earn Republican of the Year for nothing.

That story came out on April 15, and has attracted its fair share of scorn. By the following Monday, he revised his proposal:

Senator Caswell initially proposed issuing a gift card for the clothing allowance for resale shops in order to ensure the money would actually go toward purchasing clothing. After a suggestion from a constituent, he plans to draft an amendment to the proposal that would direct the state to work with major retailers to create a gift card program that would ensure the clothing allowance money only purchases clothing and shoes at their stores. Furthermore, the amendment will direct DHS to negotiate with the retailers for a discount on those clothing items purchased with the allowance in order to get the best deal for the recipients.

We might grumble about how Republicans enjoy insulting the impoverished, or how their attention might be more productively spent on corporate instead of personal welfare, but we really can’t disagree with the constituent-suggested revisions.

Only that’s not how Bruce Caswell justified it the first time.


the amendment will direct DHS to negotiate with the retailers for a discount on those clothing items purchased with the allowance in order to get the best deal for the recipients

That’s… um… sohalizum according to Citizens United Front known as Teabaggers and the GOP, but I guess that only applies to medicine. Silly me.

$80 a year for clothing appropriate for four seasons, including what I assume is a winter colder than SE Massachusetts?

$80 a year for clothing for a growing child who needs decent shoes for growing feet, a warm winter coat, jackets, hats, scarves, mittens, underpants, socks, sweaters, play clothes and school clothes and pajamas?


If these kids are forced to dress out of the Salvation Army, one assumes that they are wearing cast-off shoes as well. Do you know badly that can fuck up the way you walk, wearing some other kid’s worn shoes?

Whatever happened to “think of the children!”

As if it’s not bad enough being in foster care.

I hope Bruce Caswell and his constituent both DIAF.

@karen marie has her eyes tight shut: He’s not the first one to propose this. Apparently these kids aren’t entitled to any sort of dignity.

The local chain of mattress stores here is constantly doing ads urging people to donate “gently used” jackets and shoes to be donated to foster children. Every time I hear the ads I want to stab something.

@karen marie has her eyes tight shut: Others have done this kind of thing in a nostalgia for charity, in the narrow, Calvinist sense. As if these are charitable functions belong to the church not the state.

Today in WTF. King and Spalding seem to be backing out of defending DOMA. Homosexual terrorists FTW!!11

@Benedick is not as stupid as he looks.:
I’m sure that there are plenty of Liberty You “lawyahs” out there that could take up the case. They’re good… hahahahaha

@Benedick is not as stupid as he looks.: The vetting process, my butt. I’ll bet one of the senior partners is gay and/or has a gay or lesbian child.


All of King & Spalding’s employees – lawyers and non-lawyers – are barred from advocating for the Respect for Marriage Act – the bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act – in the 112th Congress, according to the terms of the contract to defend DOMA that King & Spalding partner Paul Clement signed on the firm’s behalf on April 14.

. . .

What’s more, Jon Davidson, the legal director at Lambda Legal, told Metro Weekly that in some states the provision might be illegal. Davidson specifically pointed to California, where King & Spalding has two offices, in which Labor Code Section 1101 states that “[n]o employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy … [f]orbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics ….”


@mellbell: And the President of the Stonewall Bar Association is an associate at K&S? Jeezus.

@Dodgerblue: Probably a few clients, too.

Breaking: Holy shit, Paul Clement *resigned* from the firm. What the hell happened at the Monday morning partners’ meeting?

@karen marie has her eyes tight shut:

Perhaps Sen. Caswell can get together with Gary Johnson and put those kids to work…

@SanFranLefty: I wore a fair amount of Goodwill, thrift store and rummage sale stuff while growing up. I think that’s how I developed a taste for oxford shirts. That, and it’s what the guys wore in their pictures on the back flaps of books we got from those places.

I rotate a lot of stuff to those stores now so that some guy who is in an entry level job or waiting tables or whatever will have something that will pass in a work or business environment. I also have two bags of flour to deliver to the men’s shelter in the truck. In addition to food stamps we used for a while, we also had government “commodities” in silver cans printed with pictures of a chicken, cow, pig or peanut, depending on the contents. The government velveeta made some decent chili con queso dip. Almost every Indian who grew up on the rez had some meals coming out of those cans.

Hey – you still want that iPhone case made? Email or sandbox me.

@SanFranLefty: I would love to have been a fly on the wall at that one.

Comments are hidden for your protection.

Best warning evah.

Maybe King & Spalding didn’t want any part of the 21st Century’s upcoming Dred Scott decision?

Like celebrity obituaries, no doubt it’s already been written by the Heritage Foundation’s finest leegul mindz and messengered over to the Sue-preem Kort for 5/4 rubber-stamping. The real entertainment is gonna be waiting to see if they accidentally release the decision before hearing any arguments.

Well, Clement landed on his feet – he just joined the firm founded by Viet Dinh, John Yoo’s partner in crime in writing the Patriot Act.

They must have had this arranged for some time. I mean, this all didn’t happen today. He had to find a new firm, write his resignation, and agree with the old firm what to say. Plus they’d have had to organize what he took with him and what he was owed. No? I bet this started as soon as the firm saw what it had been dragged in to.

@SanFranLefty: I was hoping he’d be the newest blogger at Shilling Me Softly or Subprime JD.

Viet Dinh: “This is a no brainer.”

Yeah, tell us about it.

Not worth even a quickie, but Haley Barbour just announced he’s not running for Preznit.

I’m guessing his real reasons are:

1 Too many questions about his lobbying
2 Too many questions about racism
3 FEC financial disclosure
4 Getting too rich from lobbying

@nojo: Oh noes! And he stood such a good chance of winning!

Mittens 2012!

Regarding hand-me-downs, can still remember the first couple times that I recieved new shoes to wear. It was such an unusual event to get fitted instead of trying to fit into whatever my brothers grew out of.

Maybe this guy is just trying to stretch the taxpayers dollars the best way possible, I dunno. Having depended on garage/ yard sales, re-sale shops and Goodwill most of my life, I guess I don’t take offence by the suggestion. I would be reluctant to assume this was a mean spirited gesture.

I think Caswell MIGHT still be an asshole, but I would need to read more about his intent to pass that judgment.


I think the telling line is here:

Senator Caswell initially proposed issuing a gift card for the clothing allowance for resale shops in order to ensure the money would actually go toward purchasing clothing.

There’s a pretty clear subtext there of “gotta make sure those shifty poor people aren’t spending the money on booze and cigs” – nevermind that the stereotype doesn’t even fit, it’s now standard GOP practice to insinuate that *anybody* (that’s not a farmer or a corporation) receiving government checks must be some sort of parasite. I’d put the move here in roughly the same class as the proposal in MN a while back to make having cash in your pocket while on welfare illegal.

@DElurker: @al2o3cr: Yes, the subtext — which, granted, is not clearly stated — reminds me very much of Reagan-era welfare queens. And Caswell didn’t even defend it in terms of, say, stretching the state’s very limited clothing-allowance amount. The point was to spend the money on clothes, and not something else.

Something Else here being undefined. I’m guessing 40s or lottery tickets.

I was honestly surprised — and I made a point of looking — to learn that Caswell was a former schoolteacher and coach, and not a Cardboard Wingnut. At best you can credit him with ignorance and not viciousness, but someone truly interested in the welfare of the indigent could have come up with the revised proposal in the first place.

A footnote: While Michigan Radio reported the story a week ago Friday, it wasn’t until last Friday that the (progressive) Michigan Messenger picked it up, which is why it’s spreading now. Only the Messenger just did a straight rewrite of the original story, and didn’t go looking for any updates. Presuming the press release was actually posted Monday as dated, there’s a version of this story spreading around the Web that doesn’t reflect the revision to the proposal.

In other words: Hang him high, but be sure to mention the mitigating circumstance.

@ManchuCandidate: @Benedick is not as stupid as he looks.: Newsweek, Sunday:

Iowa likes Haley Barbour, who’s set to announce his 2012 plans. In the huge GOP field, don’t bet against him.

It takes a Villager.

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