Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Love & Kindness

We are still in starting-from-scratch mode in terms of building an America that can be a true beacon of equality and justice - the election showed us just how big our ugly underbelly is and how much work we have to do.  So we start with loving the babies and teaching them well, as we keep emailing and calling our representatives, standing up for what is right and spreading awareness and working for better results.  In that spirit, this edition of the Subversive Children's Book Club features books that exemplify love and kindness and the courage that compassion so often requires of us.

 Primary and Lower Elementary:
  •  Faith The Cow by Susan Bame Hoover
  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
  • Uncle Willie and The Soup Kitchen by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan
  • Sister Anne’s Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki
  • Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier
  • The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter 
 Upper Elementary and Teens:
  • Daphne’s Book by Mary Downing Hahn 
  • Monkey Island by Paula Fox 
  • Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff   
  • Crash by Jerry Spinelli 
  • Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Action Alert: Texas Medicaid Cuts to Services for Disabled Babies and Toddlers Set to Go Into Effect In Two Weeks

The long threatened cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates for therapy to disabled babies and toddlers in Texas are set to go into effect on December 15th.  These therapies help children with disabilities learn to walk and speak and care for themselves so they can be ready for school. Parents and therapists tried to stop the cuts in court but the Texas Supreme Court did not care about the 60,000 babies who will probably lose services.  Please call Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick and ask them to halt these cuts.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Thanksgiving was kind of rough. So much worry. So much hurt that ones so loved could make choices that could hurt us so seriously, choices that can ruin the futures we so carefully tended for our precious children. So much heartbreak in the wondering if that breach of trust can ever be repaired for them, even as I just want to to huddle close to both the hurt and the hurters.

I won a book in a contest - Catastrophic Happiness by Catherine Newman - and finished reading it this weekend. It is just the sort of sweet momoir I have always loved but it felt pretty precious in light of the dumpster fire that has been 2016. I know it was a mere two years plus ago when I was filled with such pedantic worries as my eldest going off to college and being ...lonely? Was that it? This holiday and those sweet stories make me wonder what is, I guess, an age-old worry when things get really rough - why was I not more grateful then? What horrors await me if I do not squeeze every single drop of gratitude out of today?

So squeeze I do, trying hard to snuggle close both to the girl who sometimes lashes out from pain and exhaustion and the girl who lashes out from being twelve. I am so grateful that we are here together, every fractious minute, so grateful for all that we still have and every minute that what we have is each other.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Action Alert: Take The Speaker's Survey And Support The ACA

Speaker Paul Ryan is conducting a phone poll on the Affordable Care Act, doubtless hoping to get lots of opposition to cite in support of his efforts to destroy it.

Of course, many people's very lives depend upon the provisions of the ACA that prohibit health insurance policies from having lifetime limits on coverage or banning coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  Many people with disabilities and chronic illnesses have the hope of survival, education, and a productive life of meaningful work, all because the ACA protects their ability to maintain health insurance.

Please call the Speaker today and take the survey and express your support for the ACA.

Please call (202) 225-3031.

Press 2 to weigh in on the issue.

You'll hear an amazingly biased, anti-ACA recording about HR-3762, Paul Ryan's erstwhile proposal to destroy the ACA, and the fact that President Obama vetoed it.

You will be asked to indicate your opinion.

When I took the survey, the directions were to press 1 if you support Obamacare, and 2 if you oppose it, but please listen carefully in case the choices have changed.

Please let the Speaker know that we, the mothers of America, support the ACA and want our children to be able to continue to survive and blossom under its protections. 

Please call today and spread the word to others who will call.

Thank you, Mamas.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Crayon Ban at Karnes

According to RAICES, ICE has informed the Karnes Pro Bono Project that children in the visitation area at the Karnes Family Detention Center are no longer allowed to have crayons.  Apparently, the kids were getting crayon marks on things and that "destruction" of "contractor property" could not be allowed to continue.  It is pretty hard for attorneys and imprisoned toddlers to have meaningful conversations about legal status as it is, being as how toddlers do not have a nuanced understanding of asylum issues beyond the whole abject terror thing, so asking them not to use crayons, in addition to being cruel and developmentally damaging, is quite damaging to their ability to express their case to their attorneys.

Please tell ICE to give the kids back their colors, Mamas.  Or better yet, to let them go stay with their American family members instead of being imprisoned.

Watch Those Bills, Texas

Even though we seem to have all the terror we can handle with the results of the recent presidential and Senate elections, it is important to remember that the 85th Texas Legislature also convenes in January with a whole new host of horrors possible.  Many scary things were filed on Monday, and our Lt. Governor said scary things about his agenda.  It seems he is especially interested in suppressing voting rights, persecuting transgender people who need to pee, undermining our public schools and persecuting refugees from what I got from his legislative priorities.

Texas Democrats are prioritizing child welfare, affordable college, access to health care and increasing voter registration and participation in their filings.

Let's keep an eye on these bills, Mamas.

Action Alert: Do Not Allow Bans on Pre-Existing Conditions

Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans also tended to deny people health coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  HIPPA significantly helped to limit this, but it was still a problem.  Risk pools, the answer that many Republicans offer for this problem, never really worked very well because it is easy to see how putting all the people who are really ill in one group will make that group too expensive to manage. Risk pools end up with lower lifetime limits than most other plans as well as often unaffordable premiums, for this reason.  The ACA sought to fix this.

Are you writing your letters, Mamas?

Today's letters could be to your Congressional Representative and your Senators and Speaker Ryan and the President-Elect, please, and you can ask them not to repeal the provision of the ACA that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people based upon pre-existing conditions.

Please, Mamas.  It is people's lives. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Action Alert: No Lifetime Limits

Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans tended to have lifetime limits which meant that they stopped covering a person after that person became "too expensive".  This is how many people with disabilities and chronic illnesses lost their health insurance.  

Let's write letters every day, Mamas.

Today's letters could be to your Congressional Representative and your Senators and Speaker Ryan and the President-Elect (I actually can't get my computer to connect with his website today but I will find one that will; also my letter is too long for the space Senator Cruz' contact form allows so I am calling tomorrow to ask for an actual email address or something), please, and you can ask them not to repeal the provision of the ACA that prohibits insurance companies from having lifetime limits.

Please, Mamas.  It is people's lives.  People like my daughter.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Starting From Scratch

Hello, Mamas.

I'm making myself drink some water before going to bed in hopes that it will help with the sick feeling.  

Obviously, we have a long way to go in getting America to a place where all children can be safe, healthy and free.  We have some serious work to do on the front lines of love and kindness.  In keeping with that work, this installment of Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club goes back to that sweet board book for babies by Innosanto Nagara: Counting on Community 

Because we are going to need to do just that.

This book is a counting book that invites children to count people in their community ("urban farmers") and things they all share (bicycle helmets, chickens).  We all need people we can count on.  More than ever now. And we need to see them.

Keep loving.  Raise babies who love. Know that you are loved.

Lone Star Ma

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

It's Election Day: Vote! To The Polls!

If you have not voted yet, Mamas, vote today! Don't let anything stop you!  Not the lines, not the weather...this is for our children! 

To the polls!   


Monday, November 07, 2016

Election Day Is Tomorrow: Do You Have A Plan To Vote?

Hello, Mamas!

Election Day, as you may have noticed, is tomorrow. It is totally crucial that we protect our children as much as is possible at this point by turning out to vote and electing Hillary Clinton, who has always fought hard for children and families.

Have you voted yet during early voting?  If not, you need to make a plan to vote on Election Day.  There will probably be lines but this is important.  Do what you have to do to get it done.

Do you have a plan?  Do you know where your polling place is and what its hours are and what sort of ID you need?  Vote411, a project of the League of Women Voters, can help you with all of that information.

The nation is counting on you, Mamas.  We all are.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

We Must Defeat Trump To Protect Democracy

Hillary Clinton is an excellent candidate for President who has done many progressive things (disability rights, school desegregation, the children's health insurance program, to name a few) and has tons of experience which should be reason enough to vote for her.

That said, electing her is also the only way to defeat Trump on Tuesday and we must defeat Donald Trump.

There are lots of racist, sexist, bigoted and scary things that I don't like about Trump and I have been sharing them but there are two that I think deserve a lot more attention than they are getting because they threaten the very fabric of our shining democracy:

Donald Trump has stated that he may not accept the outcome of the election if he does not win, essentially threatening a possible coup.

 Donald Trump talks a lot about suppressing the free and independent press and frequently threatens to do so. 

 There is no place for that kind of totalitarian talk in these United States.


Several More Reasons To Vote for Clinton So We Don't Get Trump

  • He jokes about sexual assaults that he may or may not have committed and makes light of it
  • He mocks people who are disabled
  • He called a breastfeeding mother disgusting when she needed a pumping break
  •  His supporters have been telling lies that the Pope said it was a mortal sin to vote for Clinton, which the Pope did not say - they are lying about the Pope

Don't Vote for Homophobia

Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, when running for Congress, advocated for public funding to be used for "conversion therapy", although every legitimate mental health association in America has denounced the practice, which does a great deal of harm.

Don't Vote for Racism

The KKK and various other white supremacist organizations enthusiastically support Trump; the KKK newspaper gave him their official endorsement.  He has hired that alt-right racist from Breitbart for his campaign so he seems to welcome their support.

He has said numerous racist things on the campaign trail about people of color and people of faith.

What does that say about him as a candidate?

Please vote for Hillary on Tuesday.

Call Swing States!

There is a campaign tool on Hillary's election website that allows you to phone bank from home, calling swing states in crucial areas.  You could probably call 100 swing state voters in about an hour and a half and do your part to help save our nation!  I am phone banking in swing states and passing out information in my neighborhood today.

Remember to vote on Tuesday, Mamas!

The Dangers of Climate Change: An Important Reason to Vote for Clinton

Mr. Trump has vowed to end all federal spending on renewable energy and to abolish the EPA.  There is no future for our children if we do not start addressing climate change so we cannot afford a candidate like this.

Not to mention that with more and more cases of contaminated water showing up around the nation, we cannot be getting rid of the EPA, the one agency that makes an effort to enforce safe standards for our air and water.

I should point out that the Libertarian Party also supports getting rid of the environmental regulations that help protect our air and our water supply.

Please vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, Mamas.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Importance of The Affordable Care Act: A Good Reason to Vote for Clinton

People complain a great deal about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, particularly in states like Texas which have not chosen to expand Medicaid as the Act was designed to do.  States who have chosen not to expand Medicaid really have put the working poor and the working class in a bind, but that has to do with the decisions made by those states, not the Act.  Also, insurance companies, in their ever-growing greed for more profit, continue to raise premiums but that also is not about the Act, it is about the insurance companies and the fact that Republicans would not allow the Act to include a public option (just like they would not allow the single-payer healthcare plan that Hillary Clinton fought for during Bill Clinton's presidency pass) and would not allow it the teeth to really prevent insurance companies from exercising that greed.  As for the middle class and wealthy families who complain, health insurance was always expensive and its cost always raised in a terrifying way every year - some people are just young and new to having to pay so they blame the Affordable Care Act for what is really our long national nightmare of a for-profit healthcare system.

So, there are problems with the Affordable Care Act - it was not allowed by a Republican Congress or by many Republican-controlled states to go nearly as far as it needed to in making healthcare affordable for Americans.  The President wants to expand it.  Hillary Clinton wants to expand it.  Bernie Sanders wants to expand it.  Basically, the Democrats want healthcare to be accessible and affordable for all Americans and the Democrats are working on getting it there as fast as the need to compromise with Republicans will allow.

Still - over 20 million people who were uninsured in the United States have been able to get health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.  That's a lot of people.  It's progress.

And here's the thing:  I want to tell you about my own fears.

I have a daughter.  She is in college.  She is brilliant and kind.  She worked hard in school and earned enough in scholarships to cover her college education.  She wants to be a doctor and she studies and works really hard.  She is a junior in college and she just turned 21.

She's sick.  

She has a chronic, progressive disease that requires serious medication to control, medication that can have serious side affects over time. She may eventually need surgeries.  A wheelchair.  Other assistive devices.  We hope not, but maybe.  Almost certainly without the medicines, which are very expensive. 

Because of the Affordable Care Act, her pre-exisiting condition does not prevent her from having health insurance and getting life-saving medication.  

Because of the Affordable Care Act, she can be on our health insurance and go to college and keep working hard.  

Because of the Affordable Care Act, her health insurance cannot say that she has reached her "lifetime limit" and that they are not going to cover her medicine anymore.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, she can keep working hard to get her education and then get a career and be a productive, independent member of society.  She is on track to be someone whose name you are going to know if you do not already.  

You are all going to know her name.

But that is what Donald Trump and the Republicans want to kill: my hardworking, kind and brilliant daughter.  They want to repeal the Act so that health insurance companies can deny her coverage and cut off her coverage and let her die.

You may see third party voting as some sort of "it has to get worse before it gets better thing" but having Trump in the presidency with a Republican Congress could repeal what many Americans like my daughter have to have in order to keep surviving.    

That's what the Affordable Care Act is really about:  survival.  And that's why I voted for Hillary Clinton.  That's why I am asking you to vote for Hillary Clinton and for Democrats in Congress.


Thursday, November 03, 2016

Swing State Texas!

Remember, folks - Texas is actually a swing state in this election.  It is terribly important, both for the presidential race and all the down ballot races, to get out there and vote for the Democrats.  Whether you love the Democrats or not, they are worlds better than the Republicans who have a platform full of such bigotry, sexism and classism that it is truly a horror to believe that people willingly associate themselves with such a document.  Their hold over Texas needs to be broken once and for all.  Only then do we have a hope of moving Texas toward more progressive policies.

Vote blue in Texas!

Tomorrow Is The Last Day of Early Voting in Texas!

Have you voted yet, Mamas?  Get out there and vote today if you haven't yet!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Suffrage

In honor of Election Day on Tuesday, this edition of Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club features books about the American suffrage movement that won the right to vote for U.S. women in 1920.  On Tuesday we may well get to see the fruition of these, our sisters', struggles as we elect our first woman president.  

Go and vote, Mamas, and make it so!

  • Ida B. Wells:  Let The Truth Be Told by Walter Dean Meyers
  • Elizabeth Started All The Trouble by Doreen Rappaport
  • You Want Women To Vote, Lizzie Stanton? by Jean Fritz
  • Elizabeth Leads The Way by Tanya Lee Stone & Rebecca Gibbon
  • You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! by Shana Corey
  • The Ballot Box Battle By Emily Arnold McCully

Three More Days of Early Voting, Mamas!

Good Morning, Mamas!

There are only three days of early voting left in Texas, and that includes today!  Friday is the last day of early voting!

It is wise to vote early to avoid long lines on Election Day!  This election has drawn so many voters that there are even some lines for early voting, so you definitely do not want to wait!

Vote this week!

You can find information about polling places and what is on your ballot from your county or from the good folks at the League of Women Voters with their Vote411 project.

Vote, Mamas - our children's lives could depend on it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

All Saints

For saints you could look almost anywhere in the tangle
It's hard to get to the fruit beneath the scaly peel, to pry off the darkness in shreds
The food and the garbage are both there for the taking, no matter what you see