Date Night…

I am genuinely infatuated with the Obamas. To me, they symbolize glamour, style and sophistication…a la John and Jackie Kennedy. They are both so eloquent, tall and attractive. During Barack Obama’s campaign for President, he promised Michelle that he would take her to a Broadway show when it was all over. He made good on his promise on their most recent “date night”

“I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished,” the president said in a statement an aide read to the press.

After dining a little more than two hours at Blue Hill, a West Village restaurant touted by New York magazine as a “seminal Greenmarket haven” that features food grown by chef and owner Dan Barber on his upstate farm, the president and first lady headed to the Belasco Theater to make curtain call for “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.”

Sigh… how romantic.

Apparently, the Republican National Committee doesn’t share my sentiment. They issued a “news release that chastised Obama for saying he understands American’s troubles, but then hopping up to New York for a night on the town.”

Wait. Aren’t the RNC responsible for wasting $150,000 on Sarah Palin’s wardrobe? Whatever…

What about you? How important do you think a “date night” is? Do you have one? What does it include? Is it a regular thing?


Stimulus Plan

Does anyone know where to find the specifics of the Recovery Act?  I’ve heard news stories, clicked on links that ended up being dot coms, and found the whole text of the bill.  

But just an overview of different aspects of it (for example, tax refunds or mortgage assistance) – that I can’t find.

For all the transparency, the bill is impossible to read and I can’t find an overview or a bullet list.

What have you found?


The *Grassroots* at the Ledbetter signing! w/ photos

I work for a little nonprofit,  Our tagline is “Working For A Truly Family-Friendly America.”  Taking back that term “family friendly” means, among other things, equal pay for equal work.

So we’ve been working nonstop for over a year to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  You all might remember some months ago when I posted about how Palin refused to accept our 20,000+ signatures on a petition asking what her (and McCain’s) stances on family friendly issues were, including her stance on fair pay.

This week all of us grassroots folks who worked on this were celebrating!! And remembering his roots, Obama invited the community organizers to join him in the Oval Office for this historic signing.

We worked really hard on this.  Last January, MomsRising.orgmembers set up meetings in 44 local US Senate offices to talk about their support for equal pay for equal work.  

And as you might have seen in the other diary, over 9000 members sent in their resumes when McCain, after being absent for last year’s fair pay vote, said that women just needed more education and training.

We partnered with the National Women’s Law Center, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, NAACP, Alliance For Justice, American Progress Action Fund to engage the grassroots deeply on this.

The best part of all this is that the law is now at least restored to what it was before the terrible Supreme Court decision. In a nutshell– every time you receive an unequal paycheck, that’s a new injury although you can receive only up to two years’ worth of the difference in pay.  The Supreme Court had said to Lilly that because she didn’t find out about the unequal pay within six months of getting the job, she couldn’t recover anything.  Wha-?  Who finds out their colleagues’ pay after six months on a job, or ever?? We still have much work to do on actually getting equal pay, but now you can at least do something about it if you happen to find out you’re getting shafted.

And the next best part of all for me was seeing our ED, even in a blurry camera phone shot, with Obama in the Oval Office!! Forgive me for getting squealy, but EEEEEEEEEEEE! title=

And with our champion for equal pay herself, Lilly Ledbetter: title=

Here’s our press release on this:
STATEMENT OF Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner                       CONTACT:    Gretchen Wright Executive Director                                                                       202/371-1999
On President Obama’s Signing of the                                                  
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

January 29, 2009

It was with great pride and great joy that I attended today’s Presidential signing ceremony of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  As someone once said famously, “it’s been a long time coming,” but now federal law ensures that employees are able to seek redress if they learn that they have been discriminated against in pay because of their gender, race or ethnicity.

Many years ago, Lilly Ledbetter bravely stood up to a major corporation and fought for the rights of workers all across this country to fight pay discrimination.  And today, by making this the very first bill he signed into law, President Barack Obama showed us that he is acting on the promises he made in his campaign.  This law is a signal to people all across this country that pay discrimination will not be tolerated and now employees have the right and the ability to fight it.‘s members worked hard to help pass this legislation.  They signed petitions, sent letters and even met with U.S. Senators’ offices to urge passage of the bill.  Today, we are proud to see our efforts rewarded and we recommit to fighting for the range of family-friendly policies this country needs.

  1.   #   #   # is an online grassroots organization that is working for paid family leave, flexible work options, excellent childcare and health care for all children, and to stop the wage and hiring biases that penalize so many mothers today. has more than 150,000 members across the United States.

Thank you to everyone who ever sent an email on this or supported this bill in any way– including by supporting Obama and Democrats.  When our lawmakers truly believe in equality and fundamental fairness, we all benefit.


This Land is Your Land

Okay, I can’t stop watching and listening to this YouTube clip from January 19th, just Monday night. Apparently, Barack Obama invited Pete Seeger to sing this classic song at the Lincoln memorial.

Check it out. There he is with his grandson, Tao, and Bruce Springsteen. I caught it on Democratic Underground and I just can’t get over it. What a beautiful gathering and a great song, with ALL the verses.

Hooray! Hooray for the U.S.A.!!!!


Senator Ted Kennedy Collapses at President Obama’s Inaugural Luncheon

According to media reports, Senator Ted Kennedy collapsed at an inauguration lunch honoring President Barack Obama. Senator Kennedy had to be removed on a stretcher for medical attention.

Other media reports said that both Kennedy and Sen. Robert Byrd were taken from the luncheon because of health problems.


Inaguration with Kids? UPDATED

We are in Northern VA… my three oldest children and myself (our toddler is at back home in PA with her Nana). Tomorrow, we meet up with 2 friends, Monday, 5 more, and 1 more at the crack of dawn Tuesday morning.  We swapped houses with a friend in NOVA… a few days here for us as trade for a week at the beach for them this summer.  So… we are going to try to see what we can see for the inauguration… with 6 kids.  Despite the fact that “the powers that be” seem to be saying we shouldn’t, I really want to at least try… my kids have been so involved/aware/inspired by this election and by Obama, that I feel like we’d regret not trying.  The thing is, I certainly don’t want to regret trying either.

I am generally very confident that things will work out fine.  And in general, that’s been the case.  We are not crowd-shy, and we know how to stand and wait… particularly in line outside to see Obama.  But I know this will be a true test, especially for the kids.  They are thrilled, but really, no matter how much I try to prepare them, they have no idea what it will be like, and I spend half my time thinking that I don’t either.  I hope it is like a bigger-scale version of the other Obama events… good natured people dealing with the long lines and weather because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves.  The other moms and I are all agreed… if it starts not to feel safe, seems like it will be too much, we will bail in a nanosecond.  We don’t have tickets, so we’re hoping to be part of the throngs on the mall.  We will also be taking Sunday and Monday to do lots of touristy things around DC, and spend Monday night using the dress-ups we brought with us for our own “inaugural ball”.  That way, if Tuesday becomes a bad idea, we’ll still have lots of memories of our trip and know we were there… sort of.

So, I  guess my question to the wise MTer community is… am I nuts?  Any suggestions?  Strategies?  We have lots of warm gear, I have an ergo to carry my three year old, bright coats for the big kids, we have a 1:1 kid:adult ratio, know each other’s cell numbers, know how to text, signed up for alert DC, are doing dry runs on the metro over the next two days… and have generally roll-with-it kinda kids with us.  We first saw Obama a little under a year ago in Wilimington DE (seemed cold then, but now we’ll understand cold a bit better), met him in person (as I’ve written in a diary here) and waved at him at train stops through our town (but skipped bitter Philly this morning).  I guess you could say we’re groupies, and this seems like something a true groupie wouldn’t want to miss.  

…………………………………… UPDATE………………………………………………….

YES WE DID!  OK, sort of.  We all headed down to DC, and our friends met up with us over the course of the weekend.  I took my kids to the mall for the We Are One concert… that was incredible… amazing artists and that friendly Obama-atmosphere we’ve seen at other events.  My 5 year old danced around for 2 hours, my 9 year old just keep shouting “Usher!  Bono!  Springsteen!  Stevie Wonder! in utter amazement as they graced the stage.  My 2 year old hung close and wanted to be with Mama, but said he liked “the guy with red glasses” best…  Bono.  We all liked seeing that the Obama’s were there too.

Monday we went back on the Metro, visited the Air & Space Museum, and did carousel rides on the mall.  My daughter said she loves seeing all those important buildings spinning around her.  I was interviewed by CBS radio, but am pretty sure I said nothing intelligent enough for the poor guy to use, despite him trying for about 7 minutes.  Monday night we munched on “Obamalettes” at the diner, and had our own Inaugural Ball with dress-ups.

Tuesday, the big day, my 5 year old awoke with a froggy throat and was adamant about being too sick to go.  I knew she’d be fine, bouncing around in no time, but she absolutely needed to be at the top of her game in order for it to work, taking her little brother too in the cold and crowds.  I had to decide whether to do what I would have done for school (just get her up and out of the house and she’s fine), or let everyone else go without us.  I chose the latter, since we didn’t know how easy it would be to get back if she really didn’t feel well.  It was a bummer to say the least.  She was bouncing all over the house, completely fine all day.  grrrrr.

But, Sammy (my 9 year old) did get to go with our friends, and they had a wonderfully easy time of it.  I dropped them off at the Metro at 9am, they got off and walked to the Lincoln Memorial, were right near a Jumbotron in the mix of it all, even had a blanket to hang out on and eat snacks.  They loved it, cried, cheered, and rejoiced.  One of my friends recently retired from teaching, and knowing she was there to witness it all made my heart happy.  Although I spent the day trying to reign in the Wonder Twins (as we lovingly refer to our middle two trouble-makers), we did watch the swearing in together.  I am still amazed by it all and grateful that even though we didn’t all make it to the big day, we all witnessed the atmosphere of the inauguration in the days leading up to it.  It really was just like all the other Obama events… good natured people, excited, hopeful, dealing with long lines and tricky weather to be part of something bigger than themselves.  


Will We Really?

The Forum for Education and Democracy an education think tank that works to restore the public purpose of public education, has launched an online petition with an accompanying webfilm asking the incoming administration to keep education on the front burner.  With the current economic crapfest, a lot of us in the field are wondering if we’ll find ourselves with a politically supportive but overwhelmingly distracted educational climate.  Since we’ve had a flurry of edu-diaries around here lately, I wanted to pass it along.petition


One of the sister organizations of the Forum, The Coalition of Essential Schools, has it’s national offices in Oakland and is very active nationally.  (I work for them in NH as well.)

What do you think?  Do you imagine that we’ll have an administration that will continue to focus on public education even with the nightmarish tenor of, well, everything else in the world?


“Talk to the officers, Mr. Obama-hatin’ Supremacist.”

It’s the rush hour, and I’m muddling my way through traffic in my Subaru to pick up my son from his child care provider. Nobody’s loving their commute, really… especially the guy in the big SUV next to me as we exit the highway off-ramp. He speeds up to reach me, honking angrily.

So I roll down my window to figure out what he’s trying to tell me. This guy is quite angry! At me! He rolls down his window, waves a sign at me that reads OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST.

Okay, I abuptly end my cell phone conversation. This guy’s SCREAMING at me. Yes, all caps. “F— you, you voted for a f–ing socialist! You F—ing b—!” His middle finger is waving wildly at me. “F– you and your F—–ING OBAMA BUMPER STICKER!!!! Good job!! Ain’t that great, you F—ing B—-! Farakahn! FARAKAHN!! White supremacy!!!”

This guy is really unhappy about my bumper sticker! My mass-distributed faded Obama bumper sticker!

I catch his license plate, call 911, and am idling next to the guy now at the stop light. He’s a big guy, wearing a University of Michigan sweatshirt. He’s screaming at me some more…I’m intrigued by his level of rage, really. 911 connects me to the local police, who I must say always seem a bit bored and looking for action. I put them on speakerphone so that they can enjoy this guy’s angry rant at me.

Angry Man assumes it’s my “husband” I’ve called. He waves a pen at me.
“Yeah, that’s right, you b—-! Call your husband! Nice NOSE RING!!!!” And on and on. Yes, sporting the Obama bumper sticker on a Subaru and wearing a nose ring do help build the case that I am indeed from the dark side.

Before the light turns green, we have not one police car, not two, but THREE police pulling over Angry Man. I pull over a good distance from the guy, two police cars between us. Flashing lights, gawkers, show us your license, give us the story, the whole bit! It doesn’t take too long before the angry man has suddenly had a CHANGE OF HEART and tells the officers he’s SO SORRY and wants to apologize to me. WTF?!? Um, no thank you, I tell my three officers. No, I don’t want to press charges or make any official complaint, just give him some grief and put that behavior on his record, thank you very much.

So glad my 5-year old wasn’t in the car to witness.


Oh Rod… Good God.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but my lovely home state of Illinois is going for not one but TWO imprisoned Governors this decade! And this one isn’t any licenses for money scam- oh no, this one is something only the idiotic brain of the often-investigated Blagojevich could come up with. What do you do when your Senator has been elected President of the United States and you’re the sole person to decide who should fill his seat? YOU SELL IT TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich embarked on a “corruption crime spree” and tried to benefit from his ability to appoint President-elect Barack Obama’s replacement in the U.S. Senate, federal officials said Tuesday.

I just… gah! GAH! Way to make Illinois politics look even more horrendously corrupt than EVERYONE already thought we were you fricking rube! Way to ensure this state gets tossed right back into Republican hands you jerk face. I voted for you. What an absolute waste!