that moment

when your kid comes home from school and tells you that her HISTORY teacher told her during class that if she disagrees with US foreign policy, she should move to another country AND THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD BLOWS OFF.


I promised the Bee I wouldn’t write a letter to the school board about this. I didn’t promise not to blog. Sigh…

The silver lining of this otherwise wretched story is that the Bee just kept standing up to him, and challenging the analysis of 9/11 that he was trying to push on the class. And that she thought that part of living in a democracy was being able to challenge your government to be better.


She also told him that if she could, she’d move to Scandinavia, since they have better social policy than we do. He was like, “sure, if you want to pay all those taxes.”


I told her, “next time, why don’t you suggest that he move to get a teaching job in a low-tax state, if he’s opposed to paying taxes? I’m certainly less interested in paying MY property taxes, if it’s going to his salary.”


September 16, 2014. parenting ain't easy, politically motivated. 1 comment.

on the day before the revolution, I baked brownies

Since we made the decision to pull the Potato out of aftercare, I have been really struggling with the work-life balance. Having to stop whatever I’m doing to make it to the elementary school pick-up is challenging, and I’ve been working on a big event that is consuming a huge amount of my mental time.

Add it to the fact that last week, the Bee had to be at school every night at 5:30, and I’m feeling that old, doing everything half-assed and nothing well kind of feeling.

Not today, though.

Because today I baked brownies for the teachers’ appreciation lunch at school. And let the boy have a playdate with his best friend. And killed about 700,000 emails, phone calls, texts and IMs.

Why did I bake brownies on the day before what will possibly be the biggest event of my year?

Because I am a dumbass who likes to think I can do everything.

Also, non-custodial mother guilt.

That is all.

P.S.–the brownies weren’t even that good.

May 2, 2011. politically motivated, separation. 1 comment.

watching democracy

We briefly take a break from an analysis of post-separated life with kids, to discuss the outbreak of democracy in WI, OH & IN.

Last week, I was asked to speak at a meeting of activists, many of whom were trying desperately to figure out how they could get themselves to Madison (the only ones who weren’t doing that were trying to figure out how to get other people to come to Columbus or Indianapolis).

This is something along the lines of what I said to that group:

Here are two things you probably don’t know about me that are important to this story: #1, I’m a Jersey girl; and #2, I majored in theater in college. About 10 years ago, I was in a bookstore, and I saw this book called Striking Performances/Performing Strikes, the first half of which is about the Flint sit-down strike, and the ways that some groups of workers, particularly the Ladies’ Auxiliary, used street theater to sustain the strikers and get their message out. That’s the part that got me to buy the book.

The second half of the book, though, is about the occupation of the state capitol in Trenton, NJ by the Unemployed Council in something like 1935. Unemployed workers took over the state capitol, and they also used theater to get their messages across. And the thing that stunned me about that is that I grew up and was educated in New Jersey from the time I was in kindergarten until I graduated from college, and I never heard that story, never knew that part of my history.

It’s the same way that our history–working peoples’ history–is stolen from us all the time–we can actually see it happening in Wisconsin right now, where Fox News is constantly under-reporting the number of people coming to actions and the seriousness of their struggle.

What’s going on in Wisconsin is exciting and big, and if you’re any kind of organizer at all, you want to be there. But the thing that changed America in the 1930s was not every organizer across the nation flocking to Trenton–it was the fact that people in Unemployed Councils in other cities and states kept on organizing and kept beating a drumbeat for change across the nation.

If this feels to you like a moment where you can put your other work on pause, then you should think again. It’s a moment where we have to use the fights we’re in, in states and cities around the country, to amplify this moment, and make it larger–to use it to redirect the national conversation about who’s paying their fair share and who’s not; about who’s profiting and who’s suffering, in this economy. We have a chance to take our country back from the far-right ideologues who have gained control of too many state houses. Let’s take it.

I still wanna go to Wisconsin, though.

February 27, 2011. politically motivated. 2 comments.

poverty at a 15-year high

The US poverty rate has risen to a fifteen-year high.

It’s hard to imagine that’s not going to be politicized, this close to the election. The Republicans will be saying the president is driving the economy into the ground. The Democrats will be saying it’s a hangover from 8 years of Republican spending.

As an electoral organizer, I wish we could take it out of the rhetoric altogether. Not because I think it will swing the election–but because there is absolutely no chance of Congress doing anything to help poor people while they can make hay talking about them, instead.

September 16, 2010. politically motivated. 1 comment.


In some ways, it seems like the 2008 election was a lifetime ago. It hasn’t even been 18 months.

Barack Obama has been president for less than 15 months. They may have been the longest 14 months of my life. Longer even than the 14 months that both of my pregnancies seemed to last.

I was in a bar on Sunday night with two other people that I work with, while the Congress was voting on health care reform. We were all glued to our phones, getting texts, emails & calls, and (at least in my case) reading tweets from people who were live-tweeting the vote count. When the vote passed, we were hugging and toasting, and generally being overall joyous.

I am disappointed by the results of the health care debate. I’m disappointed that the health insurance industry managed to scare so many people, and to gut some important provisions of the bill.

I am elated that health care reform passed. I am overjoyed that the health insurance industry, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of the legislative process, did not get to have a Harry & Louise moment this time.

Right after the election, I wrote a post that described the price my family paid because of my decision to spend six months of 2008 working to get Barack Obama elected, and what I expected to get for that effort, to compensate us for that price. On Inauguration Day, I wrote another post, committing to help make change.

President Obama, I consider that debt paid in full (though I’m still hoping for an end to the Iraq War, and a de-escalation in Afghanistan). I did not work for you because of your winning smile or your eloquent ability to string some sentences together (although they didn’t hurt). I did it because I wanted to make the world a better place for my children, and I believed that you were the candidate most likely to fight for that change.

I’m glad that you kept fighting, even when I disagreed with the compromises you were making. At the end of the day, it feels like we have hope again. Change feels possible, again.

March 24, 2010. '08 election, politically motivated. 6 comments.

a note to my friends on the campaign side of the world

As regular readers of this blog know, I have a job that involves working in electoral politics from time to time. Here’s a tip for those folks who are not parents, and choose to work in politics:

If you are a political campaign manager, and you are trying to get my attention and/or support for your candidate, do not send me an email telling me that you live across the street from my kids’ school. It creeps me out, and makes me MUCH less likely to support your candidate. Also, it makes me worry that my daughter might not come home from her safety post someday.

I’m just sayin’.

October 13, 2009. politically motivated. 4 comments.

who put the ‘hell’ in ‘health care reform’?

I had a very instructive set of experiences yesterday around health care reform and the current state of our health care system.

First, I went to a town hall meeting that my local Congressman was having, and was blown away by the vitriol expressed by the right-wingers who were there to basically disrupt the event and to keep the conversation from getting to the real problems in our current system. They had a real plan to just shout down everyone who was for reform, and to raise bogus issues to redirect the conversation towards people who are afraid of the government.

One of the first people to ask a question who was in opposition to health care reform asked this question: “I already have to wait too long to see the doctor–if we add coverage to 47 million people, I’ll have to wait even longer. Why will that be better for me?”

*cue jaw dropping on the part of landismom

The second experience that I had yesterday was that the Bee broke her finger, and I got to sit with her for five hours at the ER on a Sunday night. The closest ER to us is an urban, Level 1 Trauma center–and I get that a broken finger is not as serious as a head injury, or a car crash, or any of the myriad of other bad things that can happen to humans. But the reality is that most people I saw there were there because they were using the ER for primary care. Because they don’t have primary care.

And I wanted to ask that woman from the town hall meeting who didn’t want to have to wait for her health care if she wanted me to sit in the waiting room with my daughter for five hours, because she was denying most of the people in the ER the right to access primary care from a primary care physician.

August 3, 2009. politically motivated. 3 comments.

RIP Neda

I‘m not going to post a link to your tragic death mask, because, well, this is a family blog.

But I am going to say thank you for your sacrifice.

And I’m sorry.

I tweeted earlier today that the images of your death reminded me of part of the Bertolt Brecht poem, “When Evil-Doing Comes Like Falling Rain,” and now I’m really hoping that no more Iranians will have to be butchered in the street, or die in their father’s arms, for the world community to rise up and demand an end to this violence.

June 20, 2009. politically motivated. 2 comments.

on twitter and the iranian revolution

Demostration in silence in front of governmental TV station ... on Twitpic

Demostration in silence in front of governmental TV station ... on Twitpic

Way back in the first year of this blog, a little thing called Hurricane Katrina happened in this country. I was having kind of a slow week at work, and I sat in front of my laptop, day after day, watching the unfolding of a horror show that was fairly unprecedented in our country.

One of the things that amazed me, at the time, was the online community’s response. I found blogger after blogger who was doing something about the tragedy—the one I remember best being Liz at Badgerbag, whose daily messages from the Astrodome, where she was volunteering, were rage-filled and compelling. It wasn’t just that bloggers were blogging about their feelings—though that was going on too—but that they were actually doing things that helped people, and helped themselves through a period of emotional upheaval.

Flash forward five years to the present day, and it’s now Twitter that is allowing people to ‘do something’ in support of a situation that they are outraged about—theft of the Iranian election. I’ve been watching the hashtags #tehran and #iranelection over the past couple of days, and have been truly inspired by what I’ve seen, which is a community coming together in support of members at risk, who have developed an informal code of conduct (ie—don’t re-tweet using an Iranian’s Twitter ID; if you’re outside Iran, change your time zone & location to Tehran to confuse the Iranian military; change your profile picture to green to show solidarity with Moussavi’s supporters; don’t trust specific newly-created Twitter IDs, as they may have been created by the Iranian government to spread disinformation, etc.).

And that community is interested in viral expansion of support for the Iranian protesters. Within five minutes of the time that I posted a tweet saying that I didn’t know how to change the color of my profile picture, five different Twitter users responded to me with suggestions—2 of whom actually sent me a version of my profile pic in green. In fact, it can be a bit difficult, at this point, to find new info, because so many people are helpfully re-tweeting other’s responses. On the other hand, with the mainstream media being shut out of news coverage by the Iranian government, it’s the first place that many of us have heard about protesters being killed, or about the dorms at Tehran University being attacked by police.

It’s not just a visible show of support that people are manifesting, although that’s important. After reports that the Iranian government was shutting down cell networks and blocking activists’ Twitter accounts, people starting setting up proxy servers, and creating Denial of Service attacks against the state websites. One user even posted a guide on his blog, to explain to other users what they could do to help organizers in Iran. (Edited to add) And here’s a link to set up your home computer as an anonymous proxy for Iranians. I’ve linked to the Mac one, but there’s a Windows version too.

It’s a little humbling, to watch in real time as a father in Iran worries about his daughter, and tweets that he’s just heard that there are military police in the park that she was last in. And it can feel so far away, that park, and that girl—so far away that there’s nothing we can do to help. But every person reading this can do something to help that girl, right now. You can pick up the phone, and call your congressman, and tell him or her to ask the US to intervene. You can wear green to work tomorrow, even though it’s not St. Patty’s Day. In most big cities, you can find a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with the Iranians, and you can attend it.

What gives me hope about both of these examples is the fact that people are willing to do something. Social media is giving us new ideas about exactly what to do, but it isn’t capable of making us care about something if we’re truly apathetic about it. The world wants to help.

(Note: Here’s a link to the Twitpic photo above–I couldn’t make it work with html.)

June 16, 2009. meta, politically motivated. 5 comments.

economic woes, part 2

I feel as if I’m looking for jobs for almost everyone I know right now. While the job that I have is secure, I have at least four friends who are looking for work, plus my brother & SIL are looking to move closer to us, and so I’m looking for work for them, too. Landisdad’s been looking for a new job on-and-off for at least a year–though I think that in this economy, he’s content to stay where he is for a while.

My friends who are looking for work now are a combination of the laid-off, the about-to-be-laid-off, and the seasonally unemployed (i.e.–they’re political consultants, and this is not a big election year). I know at least one person who told me recently that her unemployment is about to run out, so she will be in the “uncounted” unemployment numbers relatively soon.

Laura recently posted this link from the NY Times that shows national unemployment by county, and I found it instructive–the counties that I live and work in both have unemployment rates that are slightly higher than the national average right now, so it may not be that odd that I know a bunch of people who are looking for work.

In my current work life, I’m having the occasion to talk to lots of folks about the recently-passed economic stimulus plan, and am amazed by how many people seem to have a right-wing feeling about the idea of bailing out homeowners who got sucked into shitty mortgages. These people unfortunately include my own mother. If only I had seen this episode of the Daily Show before having that last conversation….

March 6, 2009. politically motivated. 5 comments.

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