Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a very happy birthday to our resident mom of 7 tjb! (Her birthday is tomorrow.) You are an inspiration to all of us here at MotherTalkers. Thank you for shedding your light and wisdom!

There were elections last night. And as of 10 p.m. PT, Rick Santorum had crushed and swept Mitt Romney in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, according to results at our brother site Daily Kos. Ouch for Romney.

Speaking of sanctimonious Rick, there are a few reproductive justice articles I want to highlight. The first one is this hilarious story at Jezebel about a pro-choice Democrat in Oklahoma amending a personhood bill to include protections for semen ejaculated anywhere outside a woman’s vagina. Needless to say, it failed as this would mean no masturbating, no wet dreaming or oral sex for men without being charged with harming an unborn child.

The office of Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) was called out for posting a satirical Onion story on Planned Parenthood as real news. The story, which was clearly fake, was about Planned Parenthood building an $8 billion “abortionplex” complete with coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater— “features intended not only to help clients relax, but to foster a sense of community and make abortion more of a social event.” The article was taken down — after a screen shot of it was featured on Literally Unbelievable. ROFLMAO!

And in a glaring example of the giant disconnect between Catholic church leadership and parishioners on the ground, a poll found that U.S. Catholics are more supportive (58%) than the general public (55%) of having employers provide health insurance plans that offer birth control at no cost. This story was all over the place yesterday, including Daily Kos.

Marriage equality wins (again) in California! Here is a story on it at the Los Angeles Times.  

Speaking of family values, the Washington Post ran a powerful story on how African American women are more likely than other demographics to care for extended family in spite of great economic hardship. This reminded me of a story some years back about how African Americans were more likely to care for their parents in old age, and not likely to get any inheritance. Unfortunately, their generosity is punished in our backwards-ass economic system.

This article is in Spanish, but too fun not to share. Jeannette Kaplun over at TodoBebé wrote her top 10 favorite things to do at Disney World in Florida. She considered dining with the various characters, taking a ride on the Monorail, and riding on the Pirates of the Caribbean to be highlights. Disney World is so huge and crowded that it can be overwhelming. What are your and your children’s favorite things to do there?

I hate to end on a sad note, but I must mention that Susan Niebur, the 39-year-old mother who publicly and gracefully battled breast cancer, which she documented on her blog Toddler Planet, passed away on Monday. Here is a wonderful Washington Post story on her.

I remember seeing Susan at the Blogalicious conference back in October. She was wheeled in where, despite her physical state, she gave a rousing testimonial about battling cancer with six-year-old and four-year-old sons. She was a public advocate for more research to cure cancer.

Seriously. When are we gong to find a cure for this awful disease? May Susan’s family find solace after such a terrible loss.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Let’s call this the bible edition. There were elections last night, as reported by our brother site Daily Kos. The one race I watched closely was Mississippi’s Initiative 26 declaring conception a person, which raised all kinds of troubling scenarios from allowing women to die from ectopic pregnancies to questions of granting social services to an embryo to banning IVF for infertile couples. I have faith in humanity. As of 9:47 p.m. local time, the initiative was losing by a lot, 57% to 43%. Whew!

Time magazine ran a column about an anti-bullying bill in Michigan that protects religious tormenters. It allows students, teachers, and other school employees to claim that “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” justifies their harassment.

The article made my stomach turn as it sounds like a gateway to bullying of gay children. But I was heartened by the comments, including this one that received 706 “likes”. It is long so I only included the lines that made me LOL:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

…I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

…I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

…I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.


If there is one thing I dislike about the holidays it is the number of e-mails I get from companies and organizations flacking their wares. I ended up deleting most of them since I can’t possibly write about every product and cause out there. But I do like PBS Kids and like how they organized their list of holiday specials this year. :)

Also, I enjoyed this article in Parents about “8 Resolutions Every Mom Should Make.” Of course, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to make all 8 resolutions. But it did get me thinking about what my New Year’s Resolution will be for 2012. So far, I am three for three the last three years: weight loss after having Eli, sticking to an exercise routine and running my first half marathon this year. I think I will focus on carving out regular time for me and DH in 2012. It will be a challenge as it is an election year and DH will be crazy busy.  

What do you think your New Year’s Resolution will be? What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Teachers Union on Education Under Republican Leadership

The National Education Association released a statement on what the American public can expect of public schools under the leadership of House Republicans. Read on:

The congressional election results will impact education-related issues. In the House, the change in Party leadership means that new Chairs will step into leadership roles on key Committees, with different priorities and policies on education than the previous leadership. In the Senate, while Democrats will retain Committee control, tighter vote margins will impact the ability to pass legislation.

On education specifically, Congress will have to tackle two main issues: —revising No Child Left Behind and setting spending priorities for critical programs and services affecting students and working families, programs such as early childhood education, Head Start, college loans for deserving students, and many others. Students woke up Wednesday morning still deserving the best our nation can offer them. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, every student still needs a great public school to fulfill his or her greatest dreams. NEA stands ready to work with the new Congress to put students first and ensure that education is the engine that moves America forward.

Education policy/ESEA Reauthorization:

The new Speaker of the House is expected to be Representative John Boehner (R-OH) and Representative John Kline (R-MN) is expected to serve as the Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. Under their leadership, Republicans are likely to be more focused on local control of school systems and local decision making. This week, Representative Kline outlined broad-based priorities for education and employment policy, including “pursuing education reform that restores local control, empowers parents, lets teachers teach, and protects taxpayers.“ Representative Kline has also been a supporter of full funding for special education. Areas that NEA will be watching closely will include proposals for private school vouchers and increased support for charter schools.

Education Funding:

RepresentativePaul Ryan (R-WI), a rising star in GOP who has burnished his credentials as a fiscal hawk is likely to serve as Chair of the House Budget Committee, while either Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) or Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA), past chairman of the Appropriations Committee, could serve as Appropriations Chair. Republicans are expected to push hard on spending and are likely to propose dramatic cuts to education and other domestic priorities. Already, would-be Speaker of the House John Boehner has proposed cutting all non-defense federal spending to FY2008 levels.

I have heard that some school districts had braced themselves for a change in leadership or loss of funding for schools. What’s been the reaction of your school district to the elections?


Healthcare Reform, “Killing Babies,” and Belated Election News

We are still licking our wounds in the Daily Kos household. We expected it, but I, personally, have been racking my brain on how to reason with well-meaning folks on a few things.

For example, I do know people who voted Republican because of gay marriage and abortion. Never mind they in no way benefit economically from the Republican Party platform, and all have benefited from lots of government services like unemployment, medicare and special education in public schools. But they voted on social issues because that’s what they feel that they have control over.

Then, I am not sure what to make of these news stories:

According to the Wall Street Journal, small businesses have begun offering health insurance to their employees thanks to tax credits awarded by President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. Yet, a majority of small businesses oppose the legislation.

A father in Minnesota wrote a diary for Daily Kos asking for help on how to explain abortion and abortion-related politics to his 9-year-old. She was told by a friend in school that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate wanted to “kill babies.”

Never mind the fact that a state governor has little to do with US Supreme Court decisions. Never mind the debate on when a fertilized egg cell becomes a baby. Never mind the revulsion at carrying your rapist’s baby to term. Because no matter what your view is on any of those things, why would you plant that image in your 9-year-old daughter’s head? What the f!*k was she thinking?

Part of me wants to end my daughter’s relationship with this girl, part of me wants to wring this woman’s neck, but most of me just wants to know how the hell we got here, and what, if anything, could ever possibly make this woman learn restraint.

The first comment to the post was, “You can just explain to children that some people believe crazy and unreasonable things. Then show them something about the Salem witch trials.”

But this seems too simplistic to me. From my perspective these fundies who burned witches in the 1600s have a lot of power. It seems like we should talk to them, but how?

Of course, we must keep in mind that many people also don’t bother to vote, which is a separate rant. What would the electorate look like if they did? How do we engage these folks?

I know this is just random rambling and ranting. What say you to any of this?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

In Politics: It’s election day, which means we will have a special open thread tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Please join us!

Many people from the Daily Kos crew will be at my house to cover the elections. Even though we are expecting a rough night, we plan to order pizza and eat cake as it is Mr. Ari’s 7th birthday today.

In somewhat related news, Medicare will face severe cuts unless Congress acts, according to the Washington Post.

Alcohol More Deadly Than Heroin? A British study, which was cited by the Washington Post, lead with how alcohol was more deadly than heroin and cocaine. But reading through the article, it sounds like heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, or crystal meth, are much more deadly to the individuals who consume them. However, overall, alcohol has a much wider-spread and devastating cost to society.

When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.

But experts said it would be impractical and incorrect to outlaw alcohol.

Leslie King, an adviser to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and one of the study’s authors, suggested education programs that target problem drinkers as opposed to the majority of people who indulge in a drink or two. He said that the price of alcohol should go up so it isn’t as widely available. What do you all think?

World Series: For San Francisco Giants fans following the World Series, our local Zeum Children’s Museum in San Francisco made these adorable movies out of clay models.

LGBT Youth: Our Dana wrote a timely article for the Keen News Service about federal initiatives to curb bullying of LGBT students in school.

Holiday Gift Idea: If you are looking for holiday gift ideas for young children, Sesame Street is offering a 10 percent discount on all its video games to mothers on the blogs. Just go to this website and enter promo code MOMMY at checkout.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I admit, I am too backed up at work to follow politics. But DH was blogging non-stop about the elections last night at our “brother site” Daily Kos. He said it was a good night for the Dems.

CNN covered a very controversial debate among parents and non-parents alike: should babies and children be welcomed in high-end restaurants? Some world-class chefs, who are now parents, have started offering young children their own menus, and even classes at public schools on how to eat at a nice restaurant. My immediate reaction is why not? If kids do not get an opportunity to practice behaving themselves in public places, then how will they learn? And no, playing tea party at home is not the same as interacting with waiters and patrons at the restaurant.

But some of the comments — even within the article — were just plain nasty. In all fairness, not all parents feel children should be allowed in high-end restaurants. Here is Expecting Words blogger Laurie Puhn’s reaction to it.

Here is more evidence that Bristol Palin is so not your typical teen mom. The 19-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin is commanding up to $30,000 a speech at pro-life and abstinence-only programs, according to the Associated Press.  

In other celebrity news: John Travolta and Kelly Preston are expecting a baby, according to MSN Wonderwall.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

As of last night at 9 p.m. PT, the Republicans took the governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, our Hillary did not win the Lehigh County Commission seat in Pennsylvania — but we still think she rocks and look forward to a re-match! — and marriage equality lost in Maine. I was too fried to stay up — it was a rough night for the Democrats. Here were the results at the New York Times.

Basketball Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman has challenged President Barack Obama to a basketball game, according to BlogHer.

Brain, Child magazine ran a fascinating article about conjoined twins. Have any of you met any in real life?

Check out this adorable bus shelter — made out of an actual school bus! — on Boing Boing. Also in case you missed it: Check out Jon Stewart’s and his adorable family’s Halloween costumes at Celebrity Baby Blog.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Late-Night Liberty: Elections Edition

Hello fellow political geeks!

I thought I would dedicate this open thread to the elections occurring across the country. Feel free to discuss the issues in your communities.

I will be glued to the TV to see how Maine voted on marriage equality, the outcome of the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, and of course, our fellow MTer Hillary Glatt-Kwiatek’s race for Lehigh County Commissioner in Pennsylvania. The PA website will be the first one I click to at 5 p.m./8 p.m.. Fingers crossed for her — and the people of Pennsylvania!

How are you tonight?


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Are any of you voting in today’s elections? Can you give us an update from the ground?

Once again, Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids and Mighty Nest reminded us of how much sleep our children need. A new study published in Pediatrics ties sleep deprivation in children with symptoms of ADHD.

I love this: Michelle Obama just launched a mentoring program for girls, according to the Washington Post. The local girls will be mentored by powerful women like senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes, (Michelle) Obama’s chief of staff Susan Sher and social secretary Desiree Rogers. A similar program for young men will launch in the West Wing.

Remember the case of Madeleine McCann? She was the three-year-old girl who disappeared from a Portuguese beach resort two years ago. Police just released photos of what she may look like today, according to the AFP news service.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?