Category Archives: politics

I voted.

Voting makes me feel rather misty-eyed. When I think about what so many in the past went through to win the right to vote, and when I think of all those around the world who still don’t get to enjoy this privilege, I feel profoundly thankful and lucky.

I also find myself feeling a part of history, thinking of presidential elections past, present and future. I realized that in another 12 years, Phoebe will be old enough to vote. (And another 14 for Theo.) I think back 4 years, 8 years and 12 years (oh, that one was stressful!) and the memories are fresh in my mind. (Those of 16 and 20 (20!) years ago are much fuzzier.) I think of how far we have come in the years since I became an adult, how much technology has advanced, and the many signs of social progress we’ve seen, and I am heartened. (Then again, I also see the ravages resulting from our environmental abuses, and I am discouraged.) Above it all, though, I feel the importance of speaking out for my beliefs, and working towards the future I want to see.


We all went to the polls together in 2008. Look at little 2-month-old Theo!


Tonight, I brought Phoebe with me. (Theo wasn’t feeling well, and John voted earlier in the day.) This photo amuses me, since it looks like the “vote here” sign is pointing to the bush. (Or to the shrubbery, if you prefer.)


Here is Phoebe, in 2008, reminding us that her future is in our hands.

This excessively sentimental post was brought to you by a build-up of election-related tension, a bottle of micro-brewed ale, and some good quality dark chocolate.

signs of the times

I know that everyone and their mother and their dog and the fleas on their dog’s back is thoroughly and entirely tired of hearing about the stinkin’ US presidential election.¹ But this time, I’m going talk about a different race: the Massachusetts senatorial race. Not even really about the race. About the sign we have in our front yard. (But maybe your dog and its fleas should leave the room, anyhow.)

Early in 2010, Massachusetts held a special election to fill the seat that had long been held by Ted Kennedy, after his death. I was not happy about the results.² Happily, there is a new candidate for senate this time, and one I enthusiastically support: Elizabeth Warren

I have been marginally involved with the Elizabeth Warren campaign. I did a very small bit of phone banking, and an afternoon of door-to-door canvassing. And I signed up to put up a yard sign.

This may seem like no big deal, but it actually was a bit of a deal. Perhaps a medium-sized deal.

We’ve never had a yard sign up before. We support candidates in a variety of ways, but not typically with signs. One issue is that we are non-confrontational, and somewhat private. Anyone who knows me well knows how I lean politically. But it has generally not been the case that people who don’t know me well would necessarily know.

It should also be noted that while we live in a blue state, our town is far from blue. We live in Scott Brown territory. Back in August, when I put up our sign, I don’t remember seeing any other Elizabeth Warren signs. (Happily, there are some others scattered around town now.)

You may wonder whether having a sign up does any good at all, but I have to say that I think it matters. Especially in areas where signs for one candidate dominate. People driving by see that there is diversity of opinion. Closet supporters of a candidate feel heartened. Open supporters feel bolstered. (I know I am happy whenever I see other Elizabeth Warren signs in my area.)

But, it also publicly marks us. And in these rather ugly times, with so much open hostility surfacing with election, that’s not always a comfortable feeling. One afternoon, while I waited at the top of our driveway for Phoebe’s school bus, I noticed someone giving me a dirty look as he drove by. In the next day or so, our sign disappeared. Coincidence?

John’s response was to order 2 new signs. A few weeks later, we had a sign back up in the yard. The 2nd new sign was kept as a back-up, in case the new sign also disappearead.

I’m happy to say that our current sign has weathered both the ravages of weather and hostile neighbors. We have not needed to break out the emergency back-up sign.


Here is our first sign, in early September, shortly before the sign’s disappearance. Note the green leaves on the trees.


Here is the replacement sign, several weeks later.


Here’s the sign again, just this afternoon. Still there! And check out all the leaves, none of which remain on the trees.


Here is our back-up sign, at the top of the stairs, in front of a bookcase. Note the lack of leaves, but the presence of a Duplo robot and some light bulbs.

Phoebe and I also got to meet Elizabeth Warren at an event at her Worcester campaign office, which was enormously exciting for me. I was more than a little star-struck, but Ms. Warren was gracious and kind, and spent several minutes talking with Phoebe. Here they are doing a pinky promise.

¹ Especially you poor souls in swing states.

² I concede that Scott Brown has turned out to have been not as extreme as I feared, and has even occasionally broken with his party in his voting. However, he still by and large doesn’t represent me and my views. But I don’t want this post to be about him.

³ The reasons I support Elizabeth Warren are many and varied, but a good indication of them can be seen from my results from ISideWith, a website that shows how well you mesh with candidates based on answering policy-based questions. I scored a 96% overlap with Elizabeth Warren, and only 52% with Scott Brown. (For the record, for the presidential race, my highest score, 97%, is for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Second is Obama, with 90%. As for my overlap with Romney? 6%. I kid you not. That’s not a typo. Less than 10%. Of course, I don’t know how they determined Romney’s positions on policy, because they seem to be moving targets to me…)

a binder, goofier discourse

With apologies to my international friends and readers who either aren’t following, or are getting more than they’d like about, the US presidential race. For my friends and readers in the US who are still hearing more than they’d like about the US presidential race, I feel your pain. But I’m going to go ahead and post anyhow.

On Tuesday night, I faced the debates with a knot in my stomach.

That last few months have been increasingly stressful for all in this country who have convictions about what is best (or worst) for the country. The discourse has become increasingly ugly. Civility has left the building.

It won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog regularly that I am left-leaning.¹ I voted for Obama in 2008, and will enthusiastically vote for him again this year for a variety of reasons. But that’s beside the point.²

The point is that I watched the debate with many months of tension building, expecting to feel outraged. Dismayed. Disturbed.

What I did not expect was to go to bed giggling that night, and to wake up feeling like a 50-pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

I thank the binders full of women.³

I have a number of friends and relations who really didn’t see what’s so funny about “binders full of women.” They saw the reaction to it as blown out of proportion for a simple poor choice of phrase. They saw it as distracting from the real issues.

But I saw it as funny.

Really, really funny.

I loved the way people ran with it, and the many, many clever and quick responses.⁴ Sure, Romney’s phrase was only slightly off. If he’d phrased things a little less awkwardly, there might have been nought to run with. But the phrase brought up absurd imagery. And run with it, people did. To my great enjoyment.⁵

For the record, there were plenty of things that Romney said during the debate that I objected to. Things having to do with real issues that I care about deeply. But for all the critically important well-constructed arguments on the issues, for all the articles and the numbers and the counterpoints, none of them has given me so much relief and release and actual hope about the outcome of this election as the binders full of women comment and the ensuing flood of mockery.

So thank you, internetz. You came through for me this time. And thank you, Mitt.⁶


There are some good analyses out there about why the phrase got such a broad⁷ response. I though this one from the Guardian, brought to my attention by laloca, was particulary good. Here’s an excerpt:

Why did the phrase resonate? Because it was tone deaf, condescending and out of touch with the actual economic issues that women are so bothered about. The phrase objectified and dehumanized women. It played right into the perception that so many women have feared about a Romney administration – that a president Romney would be sexist and set women back. And it turns out the way Romney presented it – that he asked for a study of women in leadership positions – wasn’t true anyway.

¹ I regularly lean really, really far to the left, but I have good balance, so I don’t usually fall over.

² Sort of.

³ In case you missed it, “binders full of women” was an unfortunate phrase used by Romney when telling an anecdote about his efforts to recruit women for positions on his cabinet as Governor of Massachusetts.

And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, can you help us find folks? And they brought us whole binders full of — of women.

To see the full transcript, with a really cool interactive feature that lets you play the section of video from the transcript, check out this page on the 2nd debate at the New York Times.

⁴ Like these, most (if not all) of which can be found on the binders full of women tumblr: 3 rings to rule them all, nobody put’s baby in a binder, Binder?, Gobias, txt from Hillary, Hefner, Bill Clinton. Or the Facebook page, which someone started within seconds of the phrase being uttered. Or the reviews on this binder on Amazon. Or this one.

⁵ I’m sorry, but if the RNC can go gung-ho and build a whole convention theme around a poorly phrased bit of reference ambiguity offered by Obama, folks can have a little fun with Romney’s poorly phrased bit of metonymy.

⁶ Not something that my friends have expected to hear from me.

⁷ Heh. I said “broad.”

The Republic of Pants: Election 2012


It’s once again election season in the Republic of Pants. Four years ago, we were gripped by the tight pants race between Corduroy O’Bloomer and Trousers McPants. Today, the pants of the Republic are still split.

The media’s bias-cut stretches the fabric of the truth, tailoring the fit to either the Left Pants Leg or the Right Pants Leg. For those fully comfortable dressing on one side or the other, the choice may seem an easy fit. For those caught between the legs, however, the decision remains an uncomfortable one, and many concerns chafe.

After wearing O’Bloomer for 3 years, many are ready to try on a new pair of Pants. Some complain that O’Bloomer didn’t fit the way they’d hoped, that they’d been deceived by overly flattering dressing-room mirrors. Others never thought he was a good fit, and are pushing to go back to older pants styles. Yet there are still many who support O’Bloomer, and argue that his sturdily constructed pants are only beginning to be broken in.

O’Bloomer and his Vice Pants, Bootcut BiDenim, seek to publicize benefits of The Affordable Cleaners Act, a law by which all pants should be given access to adequate laundering. They claim that better fabric care for all pants will positively impact the well-being of the Republic, as well as addressing the rapidly rising costs of laundry. Critics argue that the dry cleaning companies will clean up while the pants of the Republic are hung out to dry.

Corduroy continues to be hemmed in by threadbare rumors, including that he is a Muslin, or just like Linen. Rumors that he was manufactured abroad persist in spite of his display of his “Made in the Pants Republic” labels.

Opposition styles, though, are also far from universally appreciated. After one of the most awkward and embarrassing fashion shows in decades, Tweed R. Moneypants was selected as challenger to O’Bloomer.

Few would call the Moneypants campaign seamless, with evidence of it being patched up on the fly. Many claim that R. Moneypants is really a pair of reversible pants, showing whichever pattern of his double-face fabric better suits his base. Some dispute his claims that he pulled himself up by his belt-loops, saying that he was braced by his father’s suspenders. Moneypants has further been criticized and for pocketing his assets in offshore Bermuda shorts, and for being in the back pocket of powerful suits with a vested interest in seeing him wear the Pants.

The uncomfortable stiffness of Tweedy’s material has been the butt of many jokes. Hammerpants Rayon, running mate of Moneypants, seems to be cut from a more comfortable pattern, but many doubt that his flashy cloth has enough substance to adequately cover the seat of the Pants Government.

Every fiber of the candidates is being examined for stains, holes and other defects, whether or not they are material to the issues. In this straight-legged race, neither side has the option to be a relaxed fit. Both must stay up on their briefs or risk being caught with their pants down. As the old adage goes, “He who slacks off gets sent to the cleaners.”

Both O’Bloomer and Moneypants are expected to be neatly pressed for the upcoming debates, with carefully tailored responses under their belts. Questions likely to be addressed include: How will each address the continuing strain on the fabric of the Pants Economy? How will they protect the National Pants from the looming menace of international Powerbritches? And finally, and most controversially, do leggings really count as pants?

blue state blues

I’m feeling blue today.

Massachusetts held its special election yesterday to fill the seat that had been held for decades by Senator Ted Kennedy.

I did not like the results.

Massachusetts is considered by many to be a liberal stronghold. What has come to be known as a blue state. I like it that way. I like it that we allow same sex marriage. I like it that there have been reforms to the health care system in our state, and that measures have been taken here to ensure that everyone has access to health insurance. Legislation and voting in this state often reflects progressive values. In case you hadn’t guessed, those are my values.

Now my state has elected a senator whose values greatly diverge from my own. As Keith Olberman put it:

In short, in Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees. In any other time in our history, this man would have been laughed off the stage as an unqualified and a disaster in the making by the most conservative of conservatives.

And you know what? I’m not just blue. I’m angry.

April Just Posts

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The April Just Posts roundtable is here, and Holly and I are pleased to serve up another round of posts on topics of social justice from around the blogosphere. Come join us ’round the table!

This month, I’d like to raise a glass to recent progress in the US towards marriage equality rights. In April, Iowa and Vermont joined Connecticut and Massachusetts in passing legislature allowing marriage rights to same-sex couples. Just a few days ago, Maine followed suit. There’s also news of progress in New Hampshire and New York.

While this doesn’t serve to wash away the bitterness of California’s Proposition 8, it shows that more and more people across the country are becoming more accepting of marriage equality.

Of course, there’s still lots of work to be done, with a vocal portion of the population speaking out “in defense of marriage” in its less inclusive definitions. In response, I offer up “Defenders of Marriage” by Roy Zimmerman:


Mr. Zimmerman scores bonus points for this line:

Let’s get the government out of our lives and into our pants

And now, the April Just Posts:

THANK YOU to April Just Post Readers:

Thanks for reading! Please also pay a visit to Holly at Cold Spaghetti, and see what she has set on the table.

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I’ve never been happier to retire a piece of clothing

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
George W. Bush, August 5, 2004

In less than 12 hours, an article of clothing in our household will become instantly outmoded.

I’m talking about you, little “I already know more than the president” onesie. Yes, Phoebe wore you proudly, back when she was small enough. And sure, you would still fit Theo, size-wise. But your message, so sadly and humorously apt for far too long, will no longer be appropriate. And that deserves a celebration of extraordinary magnitude.

To send off this once-stylish article of clothing in style, I thought I’d post a few pictures from a photo shoot it had with Phoebe, back in 2006.

Photographer: Hi, Phoebe.
Phoebe: Oh, hi.

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Photographer: Hey, Phoebe, what’s that you’re wearing?
Phoebe: You mean this?

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Photographer: You look fabulous, dahling. Now, strike a pose.

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Photographer: Work it baby, work it. Now show me the pout.

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Photographer: Oh, yeah, baby. Yeah.
Phoebe: Can we stop this now? I’d like my lunch.
Photographer: Okay, okay. But first, tell me. Will you be happy to see a new president in office?
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Phoebe: You know it!
Photographer: Oh, yeah. Anything you’d like to say to the President as he takes his leave?

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Phoebe: Buh-bye.

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Phoebe: And don’t let the door hit you on the a…
Photographer: Phoebe!

This post is also doing double duty as a Monday Mission post. The assignment for this week was to post a series of photos with accompanying dialog, inspired by such posts from Wherever Ewe Go.

And by the way, anyone have any suggestions about what to do with this onesie?