Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

From our brother site Daily Kos: Rick Santorum won last night’s primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. As of 9:16 p.m. PT, Mitt Romney was in third place in both states. I did not stay up to watch the returns in Hawaii. Feel free to chat among yourselves.

Happy birthday to our NCmom! May you have many more happy and healthy ones.

Please join me at 1 p.m. ET/ 10 a.m PT today for a live talk at The Motherhood on tips to raise bilingual children. I am in great company and so honored to have been asked. It should be a great discussion.

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


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I was out last night at an election-viewing party, got home at 9 and looked at our open thread for predictions. You all are GOOD! And nerds.


I am excited to report that this bad reality TV show that is the Republican primary continues! Here are the results as of midnight on the east coast:

Alaska — Not in yet
Georgia — Newt Gingrich
Idaho — Mitt Romney
Massachusetts — Romney
North Dakota — Rick Santorum
Ohio — Too close to call
Oklahoma — Santorum
Tennessee — Santorum
Vermont — Romney
Virginia — Romney

In related news, the anti-immigrant and anti-women rhetoric coming from the Republican Party as of late is catching up to them in a big way. As my husband pointed out in a story that I saw floating in Latino tweeting circles yesterday, a FOX News poll shows that U.S. Latinos prefer President Obama to any of the Republican candidates six to one. Yesterday, I was listening to CNN en español for political news coverage and was amused to hear a Republican on the ground lie through her teeth about contraceptives and family planning. “You can buy contraceptives for $5 at Wal-Mart!” she actually said. “Republicans support family planning!”

She said this in reply to the radio host’s question, in which he pointed out that Latina women, like most U.S. women, support contraceptives and family planning so aren’t Republicans shooting themselves in the foot on this, too? Sheah!

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh keeps on hemorrhaging advertisers and a Republican legislator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said she regretted her vote for the Blunt amendment, which was a way to deny women health insurance coverage for contraceptives. Let the soap opera continue!

Also, I threw my hat in the ring for this essay-writing contest held by the Oakland Children’s Hospital Foundation. The winner will receive free tickets to an event to read the essay as well as phone calls from 1) a Random House/Ballentine editor, 2) the Executive Editor at O Magazine, and 3) an agent from ICM. I know that there are a lot of writers here so I thought I’d share.

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


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Gung Hay Fat Choy! It is indeed the Lunar New Year and it is the year of the dragon, the mightiest sign in the Chinese zodiac. MomsRising is celebrating with a blog carnival by Asian-American writers about what the holiday means to them and what it means to be a “dragon mom” in the year of the dragon. One of the writers is Alex Tse, the Hollywood screenwriter behind the Watch Men and soon-to-be released remake of The Crow.

Please do check out the stories and hit the Facebook “Like” button. Many thanks, all!

Also, I had fun looking at this Washington Post slideshow presentation of historical figures and celebrities who were born in the year of the dragon.

Here is an interesting take in Slate on Newt Gingrich cheating on his second wife with his third wife and why some conservative Christians have turned a blind eye to it.

In celebrity gossip break: I did the shameless this week. I bought People magazine just to read the Johnny Depp cover. It appears that his 13-year relationship with love Vanessa Paradis is on the rocks. Word is he’s been appearing solo — even for red carpet premieres. This is more shocking to me than Heidi Klum and Seal’s split. Whoa!

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, I want to wish our Cynmill — and Laura! — a very happy birthday. Here’s to a fabulous day for a fabulous trio!

In case you missed it, Newt Gingrich won the Republican primary in South Carolina this past Saturday. Here are detailed results courtesy of AP.

Brain, Child magazine ran a bittersweet story on the complicated history and nature of sibling relationships.

This blog post at BlogHer, in which a new mom claims that “parenting isn’t hard” and that yelling at your children in public is tantamount to abuse, perhaps not surprisingly, garnered a lot of reaction in the thread.

A couple in the UK that refused to reveal the gender of their baby for five years, just announced to the world that they have a boy, according to Yahoo Shine.

Parents magazine published a comprehensive story on the lack of paid maternity leave in this country. MomsRising executive director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner was quoted in the second half of the story.

Actress Jessica Alba launched an organic diapering service called Honest.

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


Friday Open Thread

Happy Friday!

What would you do if you were sitting with your third grade child helping with homework, and came across this math word problem:

Each tree has 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?


If Frederick got two beatings each day, how many beatings did he get in one week?

I don’t know about you, but I would be pissed. Is pissed the right word? I’m not even sure! I was so thrown when I read this story and truly can’t believe that this shit still happens. Apparently, parents were angered, the NAACP asked for the teachers (four in all) to be terminated, and the school district investigated. A spokesperson has confirmed that one of the four has resigned.

Another story that caught my eye…

Did you hear about Marianne Gingrich’s (Newt’s second wife) explosive interview? Apparently, the hunka-hunka burning love known as Newt wanted an “open marriage” so that he could continue seeing Calista Bisek – you know, wife #3. The very same Stepford Wife who introduced him to Catholicism.

And, just two days after asking wife #2 for a divorce, Mr. Eye Candy had the audacity to give a speech to the Republican Women Leaders Forum about family values. Oy vey.

What’s on your mind this Friday morning?


Iowa Caucus Edition

Attention political geeks everywhere. Here is your open thread devoted to the Iowa caucuses, which start at 7 p.m. local time. The caucus system generally takes around three hours to vote so it will be a late night.

The Republican primary has been one crazy-ass soap opera. So pop the popcorn, pull up a seat and make your predictions here.


Writing a Letter to the Editor Makes a Difference!

Who knew that an e-mail could lead to a stylebook change in the New York Times? That’s what happened last week.

I read an article in the New York Times about Newt Gingrich’s nuanced position on immigration, which unfortunately referred to undocumented immigrants as “illegals”. This is what I wrote to the paper:

I am wondering if you refer to rapists and murderers as “illegals.” This is a made-up word with an agenda, which is why I had a difficult time reading your otherwise informative piece.

We can’t have a civil conversation about immigration in this country with this derogatory, made-up word tossed around. As a Latina, who was born and raised in the United States, I find this deeply offensive.

Also, it is important to note the complexity of simply labeling people “illegals.” Many immigrant families, as I have seen here in California, have mixed status households. One spouse will lack documentation while another spouse is a U.S. citizen. (It isn’t enough to marry a U.S. citizen to gain papers anymore.) Or, the parents are undocumented and the children are U.S. citizens.

Imagine my surprise to see the letter published in a New York Times blog with a note that the New York Times style handbook will be updated so that reporters will no longer use the made-up and pejorative term “illegals”. Reporter Bill Keller also tweeted this out: ‘Illegals’: Readers challenge the word, and win a change in the almighty NYT Stylebook.…

Yay! Write those letters, people, they really make a difference!


Where Did “Death Panel” Myth Come From?

We know that the vicious lie about end-of-life provisions — or “death panels” — in Congress’s proposed healthcare reform bill was spread by Sarah Palin and other Republicans. The White House, by the way, said it would drop the provision if it already hasn’t done so.

But what I did not know was the name of the Lutheran Hospital that originally proposed the provision — Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse, Wisconsin — and that it once received widespread support from Republicans, including Newt Gingrich whose own father-in-law received end-of-life care there.

From the Washington Post:

President Obama’s health-care initiative was nearly consumed by the furor over that provision, and Republicans continue to argue that the legislation would ration care for the elderly. The debate has underscored how fraught the discussion is on end-of-life care in a country where an optimistic ethos places great faith in technology and often precludes frank contemplations of mortality. That tendency has a price tag: A quarter of Medicare costs — totaling $100 billion a year — are incurred in the final year of patients’ lives, and 40 percent of that in the last month.

But the controversy has had most resonance where it arguably took root, in this town of 52,000 where nearly everyone of a certain age has an advance-care directive.

La Crosse became a pioneer in addressing end-of-life questions in the mid-1980s, after Hammes, a native of the city who has a doctorate in philosophy from Notre Dame, arrived at Gundersen as the director of medical humanities, charged with educating resident physicians about ethics. He noticed a “troubling pattern,” he said, in which family members struggled to make medical decisions, such as whether to continue dialysis after a stroke.

“We’d turn to the family and say, ‘We need your input. If your mother or father could speak now, what would they tell you?’ And the family would say, ‘If we only knew,’ ” said Hammes, 59. “I could see the distress. They were going to have to live with themselves, with the worry about making a mistake. This was unacceptable.”

The hospital began urging families to plan while people are healthy. For those who want help writing a directive, a physician will discuss the powers and limits of medicine and explain to family members what it means if they agree to serve as the “health-care agent.” They will also help people define the conditions under which they would no longer want treatment. Hammes said people often define this as “when I’ve reached a point where I don’t know who I am or who I’m with, and don’t have any hope of recovery.”

The directives are power-of-attorney forms that protect physicians and family members against liability, and the hospital makes clear to its doctors that they are expected to follow them. Today, more than 90 percent of people in town have directives when they die, double the national average.

Here is the part about Newt Gingrich:

But Gundersen staff members say those conversations take a lot of time — a good hour, plus follow-up talks to alter directives as medical situations evolve. And Medicare does not reimburse doctors for the time spent on such discussions….

Gundersen officials were particularly upset when  Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), whom they had considered an ally, said that the government should not “pull the plug on Grandma” and that the provision would be dropped. They were also dismayed when the provision was criticized by former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who had been open about how much he appreciated the end-of-life care his father-in-law received at Gundersen.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) admires Gunderson generally but said it erred in pushing for Medicare to cover consultations. “It’s right and proper for Gundersen to innovate in these directions, but it’s a wholly different thing for the federal government” to endorse end-of-life planning, he said.

Gundersen officials are still fighting to keep consultation payments in the bill, with support from Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who has become a leading advocate for such planning. But this week, word came that the White House is willing to drop the provision. The hospital officials are even less hopeful about more ambitious terms they sought to add — changing Medicare payments for end-of-life care so that they are based not on the procedures a patient receives in the final months but on whether care complied with the person’s wishes.

Do you have a will with end-of-life provisions? What do you think of including it in any healthcare proposal signed by the president?