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Friday, April 20, 2012

Working Moms' Challenges: Discrimination

Many working mothers say their employers don't support them when they need to tend to a sick child. In this file photo, a single mother holds her child at a health clinic in Colorado.
Enlarge John Moore/Getty Images Many working mothers say their employers don't support them when they need to tend to a sick child. In this file photo, a single mother holds her child at a health clinic in Colorado.

The past week's political firestorm in the presidential race focused on stay-at-home moms, but two-thirds of women with young children now work. Nearly half are their family's primary breadwinner. What some feel is being lost in the political debate are the challenges they face in the workplace.

When Kids Get Sick
"We unfortunately have a number of workplaces that operate as if workers are still men, with wives at home full-time," says Ellen Bravo, who heads Family Values at Work, a coalition that promotes paid-leave programs.

"So many moms are dying to be able to stay home at the most important moments — namely, when they give birth, and when their kid is sick — and aren't allowed to do so," she says.

That was the case for Marianne Bullock a few years ago, when her 18-month-old had a stomach virus.
"It was the first time that my daughter had really been sick," she says. "She was not nursing, and she was lethargic."

Bullock was a personal care assistant in Massachusetts; that day, she called in sick. The next day, she had to take her daughter to the hospital, where she was hydrated. The third morning, her daughter seemed better and Bullock got ready to leave for work.

"As I was walking out the door, she vomited again," Bullock says. "And I was like, 'I just have to take her to the hospital.' And so I called in — and when I called in, the care manager that I spoke to said, 'You just might as well not come back.' "

Bullock was fired. She says the manager actually told her they'd rather hire someone without a child.

A few years ago, Marianne Bullock lost her job after she took time off to take care of her daughter, who was suffering from a stomach virus.
Enlarge Courtesy Marianne Bullock A few years ago, Marianne Bullock lost her job after she took time off to take care of her daughter, who was suffering from a stomach virus.

Many companies do offer generous leave policies, and this year Connecticut became the first state to mandate sick leave. But the United States is one of the only developed nations with no federal policy requiring paid leave.

The Day Care Dilemma
Like many mothers, Amy Krohn works part time — in her case, for a municipal government in Ohio.
"I didn't, for about five years, have any paid time off," she says. "So, I had no sick time, no vacation time."

For her, staying home with a sick child has meant economic hardship. Even when Krohn was sick, money came into play. She once got strep throat when her husband was out of town. She took her two kids to day care because she didn't feel able to care for them. But then she worried.

"The fact that I had to take them to day care, and pay for it, really made me feel like I needed to go to work," she says. "So I actually went to work with strep throat, and just tried to avoid people and not get the whole office sick."

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, head of the mother's advocacy group MomsRising, says having a baby is a leading cause of temporary poverty. Many women with no maternity leave end up quitting their jobs to care for a baby.

"And when they lose those needed jobs, it's very hard to get back into the labor force," she says, "because all of a sudden, we have a cascading impact of motherhood. Right now, child care costs more than university costs in many states in our nation."

Seeing A Political Gender Gap
Combine that with women's unequal pay — and it's worse for mothers — and, Rowe-Finkbeiner says, some see no choice but to stay home, because they can't afford child care.

She feels these issues help explain the current political gender gap. It's largely Democrats who champion paid leave and equal pay legislation. Republicans tend to join business groups in speaking out against them.

"We think employers are in a better position to offer that voluntarily, rather than having a one-size-fits-all federal leave mandate," says Lisa Horn of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Horn says more businesses are trying to be more family-friendly on their own. But she says a mandate creates problems.

"It hampers an employer's flexibility in tailoring those leave programs," Horn says, "and at the same time adds that compliance burden, and that's costly. Many simply just can't afford it."
Especially, she says, in this bad economy, when businesses are trying to create jobs.

Whatever the solution, the challenges of balancing work and family may yet play big on the campaign trail. Women make up more than half the electorate, and both parties will continue to heavily court their votes.


PACs, Lobbist and paying for a meeting with a Congress Member

"You tell me there is gambling going on here...shocking, absolutely shocking." -Casablanca
Yesterday, we reported on the fundraisers that lobbyists hold for Congressmen every day in Washington. Today, we hear what happens inside those events. The stories are part of our series on money in politics.

At a typical event, there's a member of Congress and a member of his or her staff who is in charge of collecting the checks. This person is known as the fundraiser.

"The fundraiser is standing in the room, and the fundraiser has 35,000 bucks in checks sitting in her pocket right now," says Jimmy Williams, a former lobbyist for the real estate industry. "And we're going to talk about public policy while we take the checks."
  How much influence do those checks have over public policy?

Most of the time, checks don't by votes, Williams says. But they buy access. They buy an opportunity to make your case.

The rules are clear: Lobbyists use money from their political action committees to get access to lawmakers.

One time, Williams says, he took a couple clients to meet a Congressman when his PAC had fallen behind in its donations.

"I've put in two calls to your PAC director, and I haven't received any return phone calls," the Congressman said, according to Williams. "Now why am I taking this meeting?"
The minute he left the office, Williams called his PAC director, and she cut those checks.

Most of the nitty-gritty action in Congress happens in committees.

Not surprisingly, campaign contributions flow to members of the committees that big donors are really interested in — like, say, the ways and means committee, which oversees the tax code.
This makes a huge difference to lawmakers, who need a steady stream of donations to fund their re-election campaigns.

Both parties rank each committee for its fundraising potential. There are lists of the A, B, and C committees, and fundraising targets for the members. Those lists aren't public. Many lawmakers say these lists exist, but no one would give one to us.

So we created our own list, based on publicly disclosed fundraising numbers. At our request, Lee Drutman of the Sunlight Foundation, crunched data going back to the early '90s.

The analysis found that Ways and Means is the most valuable committee for fundraising. Lawmakers on the Ways and Means committee raise an extra $250,000 a year compared to the average Congressman.

The judiciary committee was the worst. Congressmen on that committee raised $182,000 less than the average Congressman.

Here's a list of the bottom three and top three committees:
The Value of a Committee Seat
One thing this graph doesn't show: The value of being a chairman.

This is the true, or least a major reason political parties spend so much to get the majority in the House or the Senate. The chair is made of gold, or something far more valuable. 

Being a committee chairman carries huge power in Congress. Not surprisingly, it also leads to a huge fundraising boost. But the lawmakers who land these spots are expected to raise lots of money, and turn it over to the party, which spreads it around to other members.

"Where much is given, much is required," says Rep. Jeff Flake. "You're given dues, assessments, and if you're a senior member on committees that lend themselves to fundraising, and you're either a ranking member or a chairman, then you're expected to raise a lot of money. When you come up every two years to either retain your position or move to another committee, those things are certainly taken into account"

Today is 420....4/20....the day to celebrate pot!

A statue of Willy Nelson, strong advocate of the legalization of Marijuanna, was unvailed today in Augstin Texas. The musical version of "Reefer Madness" opens tonight at Insurgo, a local Las Vegas theatre. Events across the country mark this as "Cannibus", "PT" and "Mary Jane Day."

Statue of Louis Pasteur, at San Rafael High School.
Observed by Cannabis counterculture, medical patients, legal reformers, entheogenic spiritualists
Type Secular
Date April 20
Observances Cannabis consumption
420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is primarily a term used in North America and refers to the consumption of cannabis and, by extension, a way to identify oneself with cannabis subculture. Observances based on the number include the time (4:20 pm) as well as the date (April 20).[1]

April 20 observances

April 20 has evolved into a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.[1] Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the decriminalization of non-medical cannabis in the United States.
Observances have been held in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district,[8] the University of Colorado's Boulder campus,[3][9][10] Ottawa, Ontario, at Parliament Hill and Major's Hill[11][12] Montréal, Québec at Mount Royal monument[13][14] Vancouver, British Columbia at the Vancouver Art Gallery [15] Auckland, New Zealand at the Daktory.[16][unreliable source?] and Dunedin, New Zealand, at University of Otago.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

New Rules for Politics: Put Up or Shut Up


There is a lot of talk and a lot of projection about the Founding Fathers. In the eyes of the Tea Party, they were a bunch of gun lovin’ anarchists. In the eyes of many progressives, they were striving toward an egalitarian society. I’ve read a bit about the Founding Fathers. It seems to me that the only things they agreed upon were knee socks and a unanimous hatred of King George.

Not much has changed since the days of the founders. We still don’t agree on much. That’s fine. Disagreement has been part of democracy since the days of Aristotle. In fact, robust debate could be called a necessary part of any participatory electoral system.

It would be nice though, if we could agree on a few rules, so here are my proposed rules for semi-civil disagreement which might even stand a chance of advancing our society:

1. Take a civics class, or if you are having a hard time finding one (not surprising in today’s anti-education climate), buy a School House Rock DVD. Learn the three branches of Government. Learn which one holds the checkbook and is capable of starving even the most progressive of programs. Learn which one holds the power to overturn literally everything the other two branches accomplish. Learn the limits of the Executive Branch. The Constitution might call them “coequal branches of Government,” but soon after the country’s founding, the Supreme Court granted itself superior powers in Marbury v. Madison. Our current corporate political system can be traced directly to the Supreme Court’s decision that money is speech.

2. Vote. Threatening to withhold your vote is both childish and self-defeating. Your vote might be a drop in the bucket, especially in national elections, but all buckets of water are made up of drops. It can be far from a drop in the bucket in local elections.

3. Cynicism isn’t cool. Cynicism is lazy. When you say they are all the same, you are giving them permission to step all over you. Educate yourself. Learn the differences between the candidates. Learn that they do have different agendas. Learn the actual accomplishments. Nothing scares corrupt leaders more than an educated populace.

4. Don’t say you hate politics and in the next breath complain about the economy/roads/schools/immigration, etc. Someone famously said that “Everything is politics.” Politics simply means “of the citizens.” Everything you see, hear, smell, touch and taste involved a political decision somewhere along the line. Saying you don’t like politics is like saying you don’t like breathing.

5. Don’t drop the ball. Okay, you got your guy elected. Do you even know the names of your Congressperson and Senators? Do you know the names of your state and local politicians? You think they don’t matter? The Koch brothers sure seem to think they matter in Wisconsin. When was the last time you decided to bitch somewhere other than your computer? Call and write your Representatives, along with Congress’ leaders. Call and write the President. Call and write your governor. Make some signs and use Facebook to organize rallies.

6. Realize that you aren’t going to get your way all the time. Even in cases where you do get your way, there are bound to be aspects where you disagree. There are 300 million people in this country. Most of them (foolishly, perhaps) consider themselves to be moderate. Moderate voters beget moderate politicians. When multinationals are able to vote with their billions, we are lucky to get anything to the left of Pinochet. If you aren’t familiar with Pinochet, see below.

7. Read something other than blogs. Newspapers still exist, for the moment. Read books. They don’t tend to be as pithy, but you might actually learn something.

8. Choose your debate opponents wisely. Political 180s have the legendary allure of the Loch Ness Monster, and are just as unlikely. Find common ground and debate from there. We all want more, better paying jobs. We just disagree on how we should get there.

9. Stop with the name calling. Calling someone an “Obamabot” or “Teabagger” really doesn’t help you win an argument. It makes you look petulant. If that’s what you are going for, fine. But don’t call yourself a political activist. You are a troll…someone looking for trouble.

10. If you have nothing positive to add to the conversation, such as solutions, STFU! Of course, whiners have a right to whine. We can’t stop you, but those of us who are looking for solutions to a seriously messed up system also have the right to tell you to shut up. In fact, I believe it was in the first draft of the Constitution.

Finally, realize that we are all in the same sinking ship. Some are blaming the gay, Mexican, teacher, poor people. Almost everyone is blaming the guy holding the bucket, even though he’s bailing as fast as he can. Maybe, just maybe, if we all got together, we could steer the ship to land.

Follow me on my new Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson
From: blog

Republican rhetoric over the top

Not all overheated political rhetoric is alike. Delusional right-wing crazy talk — the kind of ranting we’ve heard recently from washed-up rock star Ted Nugent and Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) — is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.

Let me be clear: I’m saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left — and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation. Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem.

SAG-AFTRA Actor: Will Hunger Games meet its match with The Lucky On...

SAG-AFTRA Actor: Will Hunger Games meet its match with The Lucky On...:  

Will Hunger Games meet its match with The Lucky One? Or do you Think Like A Man? Dish LA Viewers while Direct TV offers deal or NFL Fans. CW affiliates unhappy and could bail.

From the LA Times Company Town blog.

Union Thugs

War on women?

Wisconsin Republican Claims Single Mothers Want Fatherless Children, Says Women Lie About Planned Pregnancies

Wisconsin state Senator Glenn Grothman is once again attacking women and single mothers. At a time when Republicans are trying to win back voters by denying that they are waging a war against women, Grothman appeared on the Alan Colmes Show and said a number of things that women should find totally offensive. First, Grothman claimed that single mothers want their children to be fatherless. Second, he said that women are “trained” to tell doctors that their planned pregnancies are actually unintended so that they can get an abortion. And finally, Grothman told Colmes that women need to be “educated” to not become single mothers.

GROTHMAN: There’s been a huge change over the last 30 years and a lot of that change has been the choice of the women. There’s a reason why in the 50s and the 60s you had less than ten percent of the births illegitimate, and now we’re over 40 percent. It’s not that there weren’t abusive men in the 40s or there was a problem with child support. It is the popular culture, led by the social service professions, who are saying…
COLMES: Well tell me what you would change.
GROTHMAN: I think the first thing we do is that we should educate women that this is a mistake.
COLMES: You think women need to be educated, are they not smart enough on their own?
GROTHMAN: They do have to be educated, because right now the culture encourages a single motherhood lifestyle.
COLMES: You think women choose to be single moms…
GROTHMAN: Oh absolutely.
COLMES: You think women want to have homes without fathers? You think women look to the opportunity to have to raise kids and not be able to get work because they have to stay home and take care of the kids. Women want to do this?
GROTHMAN: I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred.
COLMES: According to data published in USA Today, at least four in ten pregnancies in every state are unwanted or mistimed. According to the analysis that was released last May, more than half of pregnancies in 29 states and the District of Columbia were unintended, 38 to 50 percent were unintended in the remaining states. This mitigates against the argument that women are purposefully wanting to have kids. Their unintended for the most part. They’re unintended pregnancies, which is the argument for health care services and birth control for women.
GROTHMAN: I think you undersell these women.
COLMES: Undersell them?
GROTHMAN: Undersell them. I think when you have an epidemic of this great proportion, people are not so dumb that it’s surprising when they get pregnant. I think people are trained to say that ‘this is a surprise to me,’ because there’s still enough of a stigma that they’re supposed to say this.

Here’s the video via Right Wing Watch:

Grothman, like many Republicans, thinks that women should be educated to always stay with the father of their children no matter what. Even if he cheats or is violent. He also thinks women lie about unintended pregnancies so they can get abortions. And if that weren’t enough, he actually thinks all single mothers want their kids to be fatherless. The nerve of this sexist ___ is outrageously offensive. He doesn’t think women are smart enough to make their own decisions, he thinks women ought to be subservient to men, and he thinks women are the ones at fault for being single parents. It doesn’t matter if the father left or died or went to prison, or doesn’t want the responsibility of raising a child, Grothman thinks women are to blame for the single parent household. Just like he thinks that single parenting is akin to child abuse. Even when confronted with the facts, Grothman refuses to back down. These statements are precisely why Republicans are being accused of waging a war against women.

From the addicting info blog. Click here.