Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First of all, I’d like to let you all know of a couple speaking gigs I have. I hope to see as many of you there.

I have been asked to speak at the BlogHer Conference in San Diego this year. It takes place between August 5 and 6. Also, my husband, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, and I will be co-hosting the parents caucus at Netroots Nation in Minnesota this year. It takes place between June 16 and 19.

Also in BlogHer: one of my favorite comedians, Margaret Cho, just wrote an article on “finding your unique sense of humor.”

In other news: in an effort to limit credit cards to people who can’t pay for them, the feds are considering restrictions to even stay-at-home mothers, according to the TODAY Show. This, of course, puts many women in a precarious position.

The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof, who has done extensive international reporting and is fluent in Mandarin, wrote an op-ed telling parents that Spanish is the most practical language for their children to learn — even against Mandarin. That is some beautiful bachata to this Latin momma’s ears!

In related news, a friend sent me this video on the linguistic genius of babies.  

The Primrose child care centers and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals are co-sponsoring a “dance off” that families can contribute 30-second videos and win money for charity and a FLIP camcorder. Here are the rules to apply.

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

Share

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Attention Bay Area moms: Ari’s and Eli’s school will be showing a film about immersion programs at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley. The event was put together by yours truly, is free, has won a San Francisco film festival award, and will include a Q&A with at least one of the filmmakers. Please come and pass along to everyone you know in the Bay Area:

What: Escuela Bilingüe Internacional Presents “Speaking in Tongues,” a one-hour documentary. Q&A with filmmaker Marcia Jarmel to follow.
When: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Where: La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley

Thanks for letting me pimp one of my pet issues. :) Now onto other news:

The Momologie newsletter just featured Halloween costumes. It is that time of year, so what are your children going to be? Do you plan to dress up? I don’t know if I will dress up, but Ari is going to be a ninja and Eli will don a Cinderella costume. I picked them up at Walgreens.

Contrary to the documentary, Waiting for Superman, which deals with failing urban schools, there is another documentary out there focused on high-achieving parents and their kin called Race to Nowhere. The Washington Post ran a review of it. My immediate thought was can we get a sane movie about what parents like about their schools and policies that need to go like high-stakes testing and “No Child Left Behind”? I know it’s probably not sexy enough…

This is a week-old, but it’s so outlandish that I must share. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina told an audience at the Greater “Freedom” Rally that openly gay people and women engaging in premarital sex should not be allowed to teach in schools, according to Ms. Magazine. Is it just me, or are we living in the twilight zone in this country?

In other political news, Krystal Ball, a congressional candidate in Virginia I had the pleasure of meeting at the Netroots Nation Convention, was recently attacked by GOP bloggers for a racy photo of her with her ex-husband, according to the New York Daily News. Notice how Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts had a similar indiscretion — without his spouse mind you — and was not skewered for it? Double standard, anyone?

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

Share

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?


(Photo by Elisa’s iPhone: Four undocumented college students stand before Sen. Harry Reid and Daily Kos’s Joan “Mcjoan” Carter at the 2010 Netroots Nation Convention in Las Vegas.)

I am back from Netroots Nation, and back to my daily routine of childcare, housekeeping and writing. Here are some final thoughts on this year’s NN political convention.

Out of the five out of five I have attended, I thought this year’s was the best because it was well-attended (2,300 people I’ve been told) and most diverse. Both Democracy for America and National Council of La Raza paid the way for dozens of people to go. There were old and young people, disabled people, white people and people of color. Also, there were more women than I remember from previous years. I was especially thrilled to shoot the breeze in español with so many Latinos — the Latino caucus was well-attended this year. There were Latinos from all backgrounds and both documented and undocumented.

Here are a couple of memories I will forever hold dear. Both took place during the question and answer session between Daily Kos’s Joan “Mcjoan” Carter and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. When Mcjoan asked Sen. Reid about his support for the DREAM Act, which would grant undocumented college students temporary residency, four undocumented college students dressed in caps and gowns stood before him. The audience cheered and commended the students for being brave and protesting in such a respectful manner. (FYI: Sen. Reid supports both the DREAM Act and immigration reform, but did not say when either pieces of legislation will come up for a vote.)

What brought many folks to tears, including this gal, was the warm embrace between Lt. Dan Choi, who was expelled from the military for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Sen. Reid, who promised to hold onto Choi’s West Point ring until DADT is repealed. Here is coverage of the exchange in CBS News.

Next year’s Netroots Nation will be in Minneapolis, which I look forward to as I have never been to Minnesota except for a layover on my way to New Hampshire.  

Prior to the conference, DH and I got to spend some time alone, which was great. At the beginning, we joked with how we didn’t know what to do with ourselves now that we had time. B.C. (before children) I remember feeling ridiculously busy, and even got mono in college from holding down three jobs, going to school full-time, and keeping up with a serious relationship (DH).

Now I am even more busy, and often wonder what the heck I did with all my time before children. Now I know:


1.) I put on make-up every single day, even to go to class.
2.) I brushed my teeth and flossed twice a day.
3.) I napped — uninterrupted.
4.) I laid in bed after waking up.
5.) I went to parties and had a life after 8 p.m..
6.) I had sex.
7.) I went to the movies.

Of course, by the end of the week I found myself desperately missing the kids. Here is what I missed:

1.) Nightly snuggles before bedtime.
2.) Morning snuggles
3.) Being told that I am beautiful (even without makeup).
4.) Being told that I am loved more than the universe and all the toys on the planet. (Ari’s words!)
5.) Seeing the look of delight on my kids’ faces whenever I cook them their favorite meal or give them a gift. (From Las Vegas, I brought back a notebook and wristwatch with insects on the band for Ari and a purple tutu for Eli.)
6.) Hearing the most exquisite laughter no matter what game I play with them.
7.) Receiving a beautiful drawing telling me how much I was missed.

In other words, it is nice to be home.

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

Share

Saturday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Here are some nuggets from Netroots Nation yesterday: the Parents Caucus was well-attended with between 30 and 35 people. Afterwards I talked with our Christina (“San Diego Dem” on Daily Kos), and we agreed that this was one of the better attended caucuses, including more men and even a couple of vocal dads. It was thrilling.

What did we discuss? First, we had everyone in the room introduce themselves. We had parents obviously, and they were writers, educators, lawyers, accountants, school board members and folks running for office. I was inspired by Krystal Ball — “yes, my parents did that to me,” she joked — a mom to a two-year-old girl who is running for Congress in Virginia. Her husband, Jonathan, was one of our outspoken dads, who, you could tell was so supportive of his wife. He made a book suggestion about a family-friendly workplace, which I plan to read: Maverick by Ricardo Semler.

We then had our trivia challenge, which among the winners, included our Christina. We were able to use the trivia data on (the lack of) paid parental leave, paid sick days and a social safety net for families in our country to launch a discussion. One of our moms very eloquently pointed out that there are moms out there who don’t even have the luxury of thinking about it, yet, we must not forget them when we fight for policy change. (Amen!)

We ended our talk by exchanging resources and business cards. I urged the women in the room to sign up for MomsRising’s online action alerts, MotherTalkers — of course! — and my co-host’s blog Momocrats. Also, the White House has an initiative to bring flextime to workers, including working with businesses to implement it.

Other great resources mentioned at the caucus were the Center for Health, Environment &  Justice, Women and Work, Center for Working Families, and the National Education Association, which has a Facebook page speaking out against school budget cuts and informing the public on education bills.

The National Education Association and unions, in general, had a strong presence at Netroots Nation. I laughed my ass off at a video that aired Thursday night before the speakers. It was put together by AFSCME and opened with right-wing millionaire pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly going after union workers. It compared the salaries of the pundits — millions of dollars — with that of city employees. The video then ended with bold green lettering (paraphrased): “Let’s Stop the Bullshit.” It received mad applause.

The speakers that night, by the way, included Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, MSNBC pundit Ed Schultz, and Daily Show co-founder Lizz Winstead.


On Friday, I attended the education caucus, which was moderated by Daily Kos diarist Deborah Mayer (“Annie Em”) and National Education Association Vice President Lily Eskelsen. Next week, I plan to run a question and answer interview I conducted with Eskelsen. In the meantime, here are some quotes and tidbits that came out of the meeting:

Eskelsen on budget cuts: We have worked to save up to 300,000 teaching jobs. We keep hearing that times are tough, but you only get one year to be a high school senior. If they have cut your French teacher, and you need that foreign language to get into college, you are going to be hurting….They (legislators) think we can be leaner, and it is the kids who are suffering.

Eskelsen on No Child Left Behind: No Child Left Untested…this is bigger to me than the jobs….What’s at stake is what it means to teach and what it means to learn. People will refer to themselves as “reformers” but it’s a corporate term….The only thing that matters is you privatize and you deregulate. This is the model that has brought us to the economic crisis we are at right now….We want whole child reform. (By “whole child reform,” she meant a rich curriculum that went beyond multiple-choice tests and helped build children’s knowledge and character.)

Eskelsen on the importance of teacher unions: (She asked her students to “build your perfect teacher.”) (My students tell) me that person is caring, fun, smart. They wanted someone who can care about their interests, and someone who doesn’t assume they know everything about them. A learner. “I don’t want a teacher who thinks she knows everything,” one student says…I asked my students to “pretend you are a laywer and have to defend (NCLB)….”A standarized test doesn’t measure everything,” one student says. “I bet you could cheat on the test.” One guy says, “My least favorite teacher was my AP teacher, but I was smart enough to do well in spite of the teacher. Why should that teacher get rewarded?” They got it. Why can’t the Senate, the Congress, the Secretary of Education get it? This is not rocket science.

Other tidbits from the education caucus: Many parents stood up and complained about school budget cuts that have affected all aspects of student life, like, the lack of buses to go to school, scrapped breakfasts, which for low-income students, is the only way they can eat breakfast, and lack of technology for students and technology training for teachers.

Educators in the classroom decried the “corporatization” of education in the way of running schools like private businesses with mass firings and re-hirings of teachers, standardized testing, and the creation of for-profit charter schools that carefully select their students and do so at the expense of traditional public schools. Our Shenanigans, who serves on a school board in a small rural district in California, expressed dismay at the way companies are making money off standardized tests and their accompanying textbooks.

In terms of important education bills, Eskelsen urged everyone in the room to call their representatives in support of a bill that would save teaching jobs. She said that No Child Left Behind needed to be reformed so that teachers did not have to kill all joy in education by non-stop drilling and teaching to the test. She was also critical of President Obama’s “Race to the Top” plan to raise student achievement, which is detailed on NEA’s website. Unlike President Obama, Eskelsen said she supports a cap on the number of charter schools so that they are run by qualified educators and held accountable.  

Stay tuned for my interview with Eskelsen next week…

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

Share

Racial Profiling in the Name of Immigration Law Enforcement

I attended a lively, well-attended and diverse — meaning age, Latino background and allies — Latino Caucus at the Netroots Nation Convention in Las Vegas yesterday. The caucus was headed by Nicole Rivera, who is a field representative for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and it did not disappoint.

At the heart of the conversation was how to pass the DREAM Act to help undocumented Latino college students — who were represented at the caucus, by the way! — achieve conditional permanent residency. Also, we discussed coalition-building to pass comprehensive immigration reform to meet the demand for labor in this country as well as a reasonable path to residency and citizenship so that people don’t have to cross the border illegally.

There was big-time concern over racial profiling, especially in light of Arizona’s proposed law, SB 1070, which would require local police to ask for documentation of anyone under “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally. Carmen Cornejo, who lives in Arizona, said so much tension and animosity has arisen from the proposed law that her son was questioned by police simply for “looking suspicious” on his walk home. Also, she said that one politician running for office in Arizona has proposing less than ethical ways to combat illegal immigration like cutting off the electricity of people suspected of harboring undocumented immigrants — in Arizona’s 110-degree heat, mind you.

“(Arizona’s law) SB 1070 brings this antagonism between the Latino community and the rest of the community in a painful way,” she said. “It is very, very nasty.”

There was agreement in the room that the public is not reading enough stories about the racial profiling that is going on due to heightened fears and xenophobia.

Cori Redstone, an organizer in Utah, brought up this civil rights infringement in the name of citizen immigration law enforcement. An actual list of Latino families, their social security numbers and personal information like “baby due 4/4/10″ actually circulated offline and on the Internet, causing for some families to receive threatening phone calls and face harassment. The problem is not all the families on the list were undocumented, yet their privacy was violated, Redstone said. (Update: there is a criminal investigation into the person/people who compiled the list.)  

Redstone proposed building a coalition to pass immigration reform like the churches. The Church of Latter Day Saints in Utah, for example, has issued a statement calling for “the strongest desire to do what is best for all of God’s children.”

Finally, we discussed ways to frame the issue so that immigration reform is not only a “Latino issue,” but an American issue that warrants the public’s attention. Here were a couple of suggestions:


• Actually show people the complexity of having local law enforcement request proof of residency. Ask the person you are debating to, “prove that you are an American citizen.” Chances are they will not have their birth certificates with them, yet, people who “look” like they are undocumented — namely Hispanics — are expected to be able to produce such paperwork, or possibly face detainment.

• To combat the talking point of “legal versus illegal,” bring up the fact that many Latino families in this country are of mixed documentation. For example, you could have an undocumented mother and documented father with children born in the United States. And as I have reported here and in the Huffington Post, a whopping 92 percent of children of Latino ancestry are U.S.-born citizens, which is why “just deport them” is not a practical nor legal solution.

Perhaps the best explanation I have encountered in wading through this contentious issue came from Arizona sociologist Cecilia Menjivar, who wrote about Latina immigrant mothers at MomsRising:

All your comments raise some very important questions that go to the heart of the debate (and create much of the confusion we see today, and lead to misinformation). So let me see if I can clarify some points.

  1. When someone says that their family members came here legally years ago and waited their turn to become citizens, there are a couple of things that are fundamentally important to understand. CONTEMPORARY laws differ significantly from those in the past. Today you have people who wait years, if not decades, for their permanent legal residence, but this depends on the country of origin. For instance, if you come from Mexico and petition for a sibling to migrate, that person has a waiting time of about 19 years, but if you are from Norway, England, or the Czech Republic, the waiting time is significantly shorter. This is because the length of the backlog of applications for the different countries is very different. (Immigration law is complex and I’m not doing justice to it in these short lines, but I hope I can help clarify some points.)

Second, some immigrants (those from Mexico and Central Americans, for instance, who face long waiting lines) first have to apply (and wait for years)to get their permanent legal residence, and then, after 3 years (if you’re married to a citizen) or 5 years, they become eligible to apply for citizenship. So it is not correct to say that an immigrant can come in and apply for citizenship (as was the case a long time ago).

And third, although an idea exists in the public’s and policy makers’ mind that the documented and the undocumented populations are completely separate, this is not the case. Documented and undocumented immigrants are often members of the same families (married to each other, parents and children, etc.), work side by side, attend the same schools, live in the same neighborhoods, and pray in the same churches. So they become quite inseparable and difficult to distinguish.

Thank you, Cecilia.

I plan to attend the education caucus today at 3 p.m., and will certainly report on it. Also, here is a session I may miss due to a scheduling conflict, but nonetheless, piqued my interest: someone at PatchWorks Films reached out to me to let me know that there is a film about kids growing up bilingual in language immersion schools, which will air during the immigration panel of the screening series. It is called Speaking in Tongues and will also take place at 3 p.m. today.

Have any of you attended any sessions at Netroots Nation? What did you think? Also, is there anything specifically you all would like me to cover? More stories and pictures to follow!

Share

Friday Morning Open Thread

(Bear with me as I took this photo with my iPhone. From left to right: Kyle de Beausset, Matías (last name not listed), Lisbeth Mateo, and Yahaira Carrillo, at the “Illegal” Organizing panel.)

On my first day at Netroots Nation, I attended so many interesting panels such as the Latino Caucus — my report on it is coming up next — and the panel pictured to the right: “‘Illegal’ Organizing: Lessons from the Migrant Youth Movement.” For video of the discussion, click here.  

The four young adults pictured are brave. They have “come out” — their words — as undocumented and have been arrested for civil disobedience. They have sat in Sen. John McCain’s office, Sen. Harry Reid’s office, have stood front and center at immigration rallies and have even been detained. One of the speakers said she believes they have not been deported because it would be “bad PR” for immigration officials. When people discuss “illegals,” the image of a young person in a cap and gown, assimilated and speaking English, is not what immediately comes to mind. Yet, passage of the DREAM Act would grant a million of these youth temporary permanent residency in the only country they call home.

“We are visible and upfront,” activist Yahaira Carrillo said. “We get personal attacks, personal e-mails and personal messages on Facebook and Twitter. But (coming out) also has its benefits.”

Unlike their parents, Carrillo and her fellow panelists represent a new mentality among undocumented youth. They are not afraid of declaring themselves undocumented, signing online petitions and attending rallies.

Lisbeth Mateo said they survive through their creativity. They have started their own businesses, been hired anyway — they are educated and speak English — or depend on donations for their activism. In other words, they have the work ethic and drive of Americans.

“Some people call it naive or foolish,” Carrillo said. “But we call it fighting for our lives.”

One way to help their cause is to call your members of Congress and have them support the DREAM Act.

In non-Netroot Nation news: Laurie Puhn at the Expecting Words blog wrote about how our partner’s flaws — and our own flaws — can blow up in our faces once we have children. She offered tips on how to fix them. Also in the Expecting Words blog: Laurie just attended the Smart Marriages Conference in Orlando and learned a bunch of factoids, like, the No. 1 predictor of divorce is the habitual avoidance of conflict. (Here is the source.)

The Associated Press had an article about a controversial school board measure in Raleigh, North Carolina, that critics say will re-segregate schools. Warning: do not read the comments as they are downright scary.

A writer at Mamapedia wrote about life after foreclosure.

In celebrity gossip break (that’s what it’s become!): Mama Palin supposedly doesn’t approve of daughter Bristol and Levi Johnston’s engagement, according to Reuters.

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

Share

Thursday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

This is sad. Thirty-two U.S. soldiers killed themselves last month, the highest number in a single month since the Vietnam era, according to CNN. Also in CNN: some parents in Helena, Montana, are peeved at a proposed health education curriculum they say are teaching their children about sex too young. I was proud of this mom defending it: “It sounds like they are teaching body parts and things that are facts of life,” (Cathy) Areu said. “I feel more comfortable with my daughter learning about this in a classroom than from a boy in the hallway.” Amen.

This is brave. Unlike their parents’ generation, undocumented college students are standing up, protesting and letting everyone (including the police) know that they are undocumented, according to the Washington Post. They are drawing awareness to the proposed Dream Act, which would give undocumented students — brought to this country as babies or young children — a temporary work visa.

The Texas Board of Education will decide this week whether to allot money for charter school facilities, according to the Austin American-Statesman. And whoa: four in 10 Texas teachers held second jobs to make ends meet, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Doctors in the UK are trying to link childhood obesity with neglect, according to the Guardian.

Sorry I have been quiet in the threads lately. But I have been preparing for the Parents Caucus, which is tomorrow, by the way, at 10:30 a.m. in the Miranda 5 room of the Rio Hotel & Casino.

Also, DH and I have had some much-needed alone time. What did we do with our time? We went to lots of restaurants, went to the movies and fit in a show, Jersey Boys, which was incredible.

I admit, that initially Jersey Boys was a back-up as we couldn’t find anything better. I wanted to see Cher and DH wanted to see Jerry Seinfeld — but they are off right now. So Jersey Boys it was, and I was enthralled. I found myself bobbing my head, kicking my leg and eventually standing up to cheer for the actors who played Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It was great music, good plot, excellent acting that I didn’t even notice the time go by. Afterwards, I had to google “Frankie Valli” and the other members of the group to see what they were up to nowadays and find out their reaction to the musical. (They actually helped promote it.)

Now it’s time for work, although I always enjoy Netroots Nation because it is basically a reunion of friends. I will definitely keep you guys in the loop on what’s happening.

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

Share

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Here is a friendly reminder that I am co-hosting the Netroots Nation Parents Caucus this Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Rio Hotel & Casino “Miranda 5″ room. I have among other prizes, an iTunes gift card, a Target card, and chocolates, to give away to the winners of our parenting trivia challenge. (Hint: brush up on your reading of the Motherhood Manifesto, MomsRising.org, and MotherTalkers.) All are welcome!

Here is more evidence of that disconnect between Catholics on the ground and the Vatican in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. There are more than 100 ordained women priests, including the chaplain at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She said she has received nothing but support from fellow parishioners and “many people I didn’t even know were Catholic” after the Vatican issued a “clarification” calling the ordination of women priests a “grave sin” and akin to pedophilia. Oy vey.

Again, I don’t know how I get on all these lists, but the FedEx newsletter had an article of all its offerings for college students, like, specific boxes and packaging for video game consoles, laptop computers, picture frames, and other items that college-aged students tend to own. Just FYI.

Here is a frightening article in the Washington Post by a retired journalist who has no money, urging people under the age of 40 to save — and save big.

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

Share

Best Parents Caucus Ever!

What is the pay disparity between a single mother and a man? What percentage of fathers are primary caregivers? Think you know the answers to these questions and more, then come to this year’s Netroots Nation Parents Caucus in Las Vegas!

Unlike previous years, Sarah Granger from MOMocrats and I will be co-hosting the caucus onsite at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, July 23, at 10:30 a.m.. Room number to be announced.

Plus, we will be giving away prizes to the winners of our parenting trivia challenge. Think gift cards and other goodies. Worth playing for? Please do come!

As in previous years, children, spouses and non-parents are welcome to join us.

Share