Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This morning, the NYTimes front page had an eye-catching story: To Buy Children’s Gifts, Mothers Do Without.

I have to admit, I was feeling emotional from listening to NPR this morning. They had two stories in a row about how the struggling economy is impacting the poor. One featuring the rising costs of food prices and its effect on Boston food pantries. And the other on how food stamp usage in the U.S. is nearing an all time high.

So, imagine my surprise to see these as the opening paragraphs (emphasis mine):
Come Christmas, McKenna Hunt, a gregarious little girl from Safety Harbor, Fla., will receive the play kitchen and the Elmo doll she wants. But her mother, Kristen Hunt, will go without the designer jeans she covets this season.

For Ms. Hunt and for millions of mothers across the nation, this holiday season is turning into a time of sacrifice. Weathering the first severe economic downturn of their adult lives, these women are discovering that a practice they once indulged without thinking about it, shopping a bit for themselves at the holidays, has to give way to their children’s wish lists.
Really? I can’t believe that the New York Times is so tone deaf to describe not buying a pair of designer denim as sacrifice. What world are they living in?

The LA Times hit the mark a bit closer today: Frugal Santas find ways to stretch gift budgets.

Regardless, reading all of these articles, makes me appreciate the small, recession-proof bubble that I'm living in for the moment. And it was a nice reminder to sign up to adopt a family this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All Hail the Wife

A few weeks ago, Cherie Blair wrote a much talked about advice column to the first-lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit frustrated with how willing Michelle has been to give up her career to focus on being a full time “Mom-in-Chief”. It seems like an unnecessary concession in the modern age. Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair paved impressive and difficult paths as career-oriented and highly educated women, committed to their families and their careers. Also, does it strike any one else as contradictory that one of Michelle’s top areas of focus as First Lady will be championing issues of working women and work/life balance?

At the same time, Ms. Blair’s column did shed some light on the complexities of the role of First Lady. So perhaps, Michelle is simply getting comfortable in the backseat for the next 4-8 years, knowing that she will be able to on-ramp post the Mister’s presidency.

A summary of some of the other recent commentary on this topic is in the NY Times yesterday.

Let the sun in

As a newly registered state lobbyist, I’m slowly getting used to the fact that I am now a badge carrying member of a rather infamous group in society. Until now, I thought most people reserved their scrunched-nosed venom for lawyers (sorry, Shorty!). Today’s Globe had a thought provoking editorial on the ethics surrounding lobbying rules in Massachusetts. While I absolutely agree that lobbyists need to be held to a high ethical standard and limitations should be placed on being able to unscrupulously influence legislators and law-making, I also think that painting lobbyists as the only bad guys in this process, is completely one-sided. Elected officials have their own responsibilities to resist the temptations dangled in front of them from wealthy donors or constituencies and do the right thing. We only need to look at other recent Boston headlines to be reminded of that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hear me roar!

Here’s a roundup of some of my favorite pieces on the state of women in politics during this crazy post-election season:

Madame Secretary! How exciting that Hillary Clinton will be serving as the Secretary of State in the Obama administration. I love that the question of her qualifications for the job is such a non-issue. It is assumed she will do great at the job: from Republicans, her Democratic colleagues, and the public! Go Hillary!

The Glass Ceiling Holds Strong. In spite of my overly optimistic post about Hillary's run for president helping women in this year's national elections, I appreciated the reminder at just how far we still have to go in having our Congress truly reflect our population: only 17 percent of Congress will be female when the new Congress is sworn in in January. Ouch.

The "Bitch" and the "Ditz": How the Year of the Woman reinforced the two most pernicious sexist stereotypes and actually set women back. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

File under: "Why didn't think of that?"

I'm always impressed when government sees a natural solution to a problem and takes steps to implement it. And this is an idea that just seemed so obvious: Enlisting the Aid of Hairstylists as Sentinels for Domestic Abuse.

Manhattan has a one-year-old program designed to train beauty stylists to identify cases of domestic abuse and provide their clients with contact information to the city's various resources.

Congrats to NYC for launching this program. And here’s hoping that the fledgling program can survive a dicey round of budget cuts.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The love fest for president-elect Obama this week by the media is getting a bit redundant. Everyone is trying to have a personal and unique angle on this historic election. I've been most moved by the touching interviews and photographs of actual voters, rather than by the navel gazing of the media.

But I have to admit that I was quite touched when I got my New Yorker in the mail yesterday. How powerful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I can't help but give a big shout out to my home state, Nebraska. Nebraska is one of only two states in the union (Maine is the other one) that allows for their electoral votes to be split, based on Congressional districts, rather than the "winner take all" system that we all know so well. Growing up in rural Nebraska, I can honestly say I never thought I'd see the day. The last time Nebraska went blue was for LBJ in 1964 (long before I was born.)

I'm not sure why Obama was able to pull the vote. But the fact that the 2nd Congressional district was competitive this year speaks volumes to the dissatisfaction and fear voters had of the worsening economic crisis. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE 2nd) won by only 4 percentage points.

Thank You, Hillary

According to the Center for American Women in Politics:
"More women than ever will serve in both houses of Congress, even though the numbers of candidates were not all-time highs," observed CAWP director Debbie Walsh. "Many women were nominated for winnable seats, so more women won. Along with incumbents seeking re-election, we saw women contending for competitive open seats and challenging vulnerable incumbents. This year women were positioned for success, not merely offered up by parties as 'sacrificial lambs.' "
Yes, yes. I realize the title is a bit presumptuous, but I have to think that Hillary's historic candidacy helped in shifting the mindset of voters to accept qualified female candidates and therefore, electing them! While the post-election punditry is justifiably focused on Obama and the historical inroads on race in the U.S., I hope we will all circle back to the amazing gains for women in the 2008 Election.