Category Archives: Feminist tendancies

Top Women’s Newspaper Journalists of Past and Present

helenthomas

In honor of Women’s History Month, last week I took on the daunting task of listing some top women television journalists that deserve our support. I would like to continue to honor this month by attempting to list top political newspaper journalists, columnists and editors who deserve the same kind of respect, support and place in history. And for a final tribute next week, I will tackle my list of top twenty liberal women political bloggers.

Women are now expected voices during political dialogue – speaking their minds and taking names, so to speak. But how did we get here? After all, we have only had the right to vote since 1920 (a mere 90 years ago) and finally had our first shot at a woman President only in the past year. Wouldn’t you know it, women have been affecting the political scene long before we were voting and have been fighting for their spot on the soapbox in the male dominated field of journalism ever since. Did you know that the International Federation of Journalists reported that only of 38% of working journalists are women?

So as a woman blogger, political junkie and proud feminist, I would like to tip my laptop to the following women of note:

  • Marguerite Higgins was the first woman to win a Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1951.
  • Ethel Payne covered the civil rights movement and became the first African American commentator employed by a major news network (CBS) in 1972.
  • Ida M. Tarbell was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her historical investigative reporting about the Standard Oil company at the turn of the century.
  • Margaret Fuller was the first writer for the New York Tribune in the mid 1800s and was also the first female foreign and war correspondent.
  • Nellie Bly is famous for her undercover work as a journalist who faked her insanity so that she could report on the inner workings of a mental institution in the late 1800’s.
  • Katherine Graham was a Pulitzer prize winning author and managing editor of the Washington Post during the explosive early 70s when the Post unearthed the truth about Nixon.
  • Nancy Hicks Maynard was the first African American female reporter for the New York Times and former owner of the Oakland Tribune.
  • Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer prize winning columnist who has focused her career on bringing attention to the women’s movement while writing a nationally recognized syndicated column.
  • Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who, in 1990, became the third woman in history to write a regular column for the New York Times Op-Ed page.
  • Helen Thomas was the first female member and president of the While House Correspondents Association and has been in the white house press corps since JFK, sitting front and center of every white house press conference. (See image above.)
  • Arianna Huffington was named as one of Time’s worlds 100 most influential people and  is the co founder of the Huffington Post.
  • Margaret Carlson was the first female columnist at Time magazine and is now a columnist at Bloomberg News.

IN 1937, the National Federation of Press Women was founded. For a list of accomplished women journalists found in their Hall of Fame, please visit their site.

With such amazing journalists and inspiring women preparing the ground for future female writers, it is no surprise that such a fabulous crop of political bloggers have sprung forth today, enlightening, demanding and questioning the political arena at large. So who are my favorites? You’ll have to wait until next week when I will finally reveal my top twenty favorite political bloggers. Until then, happy Women’s History Month!

Cross Posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Bloggers, Communication, Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Women

Top Women Television Journalists We Should Support

While it may come as no surprise to you, I still think I need to fess up: I am a news and politics junkie. And in honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to share with you my favorite women pundits, correspondents, news anchors, bloggers and political writers. Women news sources are still in the minority so this is my simple way of supporting every woman out there reporting on what will certainly become history some day.

Now how could I ever sum up the women I support in one concise post? Exactly, it’s utterly impossible. So this will be a three part post – and even then I am quite sure I’ll be skimping on you. Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a shot. This week, I will share with you my picks for the best women television news sources that you need to turn on and follow. Sure, do it for the future of women’s journalism, do it for women’s solidarity but really just do it because they are accomplished professionals making an important impact on mainstream media.

Until the early 1960’s, news reporting was strictly a man’s gig. So first things first – let’s give a shout out to some of first women who reported the political goings on in Washington. Nancy Dickerson was in fact the first woman television reporter. She opened the doors for such news greats as Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Ann Compton, Lesley Stahl and more recently, Katie Couric. The stories I’ve read about how difficult it was for these women to break into journalism makes the hairs on my neck stand up. They deserve respect and credit for the ceiling they have all cracked together.

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Today, there are a number of television pundits and correspondents who have established themselves as top news contributors. But who tops my list? None other than the amazing and brilliant Rachel Maddow. If you don’t watch her MSNBC show at 9pm every weeknight (or follow her on twitter), you are missing something impressive. Ann Marie Coxis often a guest on her show and I have become a fan of hers also.

Another good perspective comes from Campbell Brown and her show “No Bias, No Bull” is my “go to” when I am not watching Keith Olbermann (and while he’s a “he” and therefore does not fit the bill for this post, I am a loyal viewer of his also). And by the way, Alison Stewart(previously of MTV fame and Emmy award winner) does a fabulous job filling in for Maddow and Olbermann – I hope to see more of this amazing news contributor in the future.

Gwen Ifill is the Moderator and Managing Editor on PBS’ Washington Week. Along with the stiff shirts of the McLaughlin Group, my father watches her regularly. I am a big fan myself and think she handled the vice presidential circus debate with grace and professionalism.

And while I stare at my monitor most afternoons, I usually have MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell quietly on in the background. She’s smart and does a fantastic job asking the right kinds of questions. And then Norah O’Donnellis the MSNBC chief washington correspondent and also hosts the 3pm hour of MSNBC.

While not your traditional political pundits, I have to mention the women on The View. They have made a significant impression on this country with their ideals and fiery political debates. Say what you will about The View being an actual news source, Whoopi Goldeberg and Joy Behar have my utmost respect.

And finally, Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, deserves every bit of recognition she has received including the Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards and has been named the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). She speaks three languages and fearlessly positions herself at the epicenter of war, chaos and international instability on a daily basis. There is no question that she has earned my deepest admiration.

The only way we will see more women reporting and commenting on important news stories is if we support the women currently doing just that. Take note of who sits around the table during Meet the Press or gather in the White House Press conference room. Is our women’s perspective represented? Let’s hope it will be the case more frequently in the future.

Feel free to comment about some of your favorite women journalists below. And stay tuned for next week’s second post in this series about my picks for favorite women political newspaper journalists and writers that deserve their place in history.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Parenting, Politics, Reccomendations, TV, Women

Will the Lilly Ledbetter Act Affect Equality in the Workplace?

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So I’m a woman. And many years ago, I was a working woman. I earned a nice-ish little income, I had a title, an office with a view, I wore suits and shared smart ideas about important stuff with other smart, important people around lacquered cherry wood conference tables. There were women and men in our office. And I assumed our pay was equitable. Or was it?

According to Women on Business, women nationally make 77c to every dollar men earn. That is not equitable. And let’s say a woman has proof that she does not make as much as a male counterpart, does she have the resources, the support – heck – even the laws in place so that she can file a lawsuit arguing inequity in her office place? Well sort of – and not until very recently.

So who is Lilly Ledbetter and what does she have to do with this issue? Last week, a new Fair Pay Act was named after her. Why? After working almost two decades for Alabama Goodyear Tire, Ms. Ledbetter filed a suit against the company with proof that she was being paid inequitably compared to her male counterparts. However, she could not win compensation due to some fine print found in the Civil Rights Act. That fine print stated that if 180 days had passed since an employee received a paycheck, a complaint regarding inequitable salaries could not be filed.

What? After working with Goodyear for almost two decades, how was she supposed to know if her pay was considered inequitable and thus know when her 180 days had expired? Why was this situation her fault?

Last week, President Obama signed a bill to change this, allowing workers to more time to file such types of law suits. It seems an obvious change and one that should never have been over-looked – and yet this bill was only signed days ago.

The reality remains, however. Inequity in the work place will not just go away now that companies have to watch their own backs more carefully.

So how do other bloggers feel about the new Fair Pay Act? Do they feel this Act enough? Martha Burk at the Huffington Post feels more is needed and that we should look to New Mexico as an example:

“Not only will the state as an employer have to study and report its own pay practices when it comes to gender and race, so will private sector companies that want state contracts. Richardson [Governor of New Mexico] has declared overcoming pay inequity and job segregation a priority, and established a high-powered task force to implement the needed changes.”

Emily Douglas at The American Prospect argues that this Fair Pay Act isn’t enough. In fact, it isn’t getting us that much further ahead. Rather,

“…the truth is that the Ledbetter Act simply restores employment-discrimination law to its pre-Ledbetter v. Goodyear standard. It doesn’t actually create new protections for workers, protections Ledbetter herself could have used — like a prohibition on employer retaliation if workers compare salaries.”

Punditmom agrees that this Fair Pay Act is a step in the right direction but questions whether the President is overlooking many other important issues in need of immediate attention for women such as increased health services. This apparent “tip of the iceberg” step towards fair pay seems to smack a bit of a quick fix, something to tide women’s rights activists over for the time being.

Sua Sponte is optimistic, however. She writes:

“This is not only an Act that will protect women like Lilly Ledbetter, but also countless other people paid less because of their race, national origin or religion. This Act clearly won’t be the remedy for all discriminatory pay decisions, but it’s a good start and sends a great symbolic message as Obama’s first law.”

Clearly, passing the Ledbetter Act alone will not solve discrimination issues in the work place. It seems simply the clarification of a detail. There is still so much more work to be done to truly establish equity amongst employees. But I suppose we all need to consider this a “glass is half full” moment. Thanks to this new Act, women can file a discrimination complaint and actually have a chance at compensation. Even if the Ledbetter Act is only considered one symbolic deckchair tossed impressively off the Titanic – it is still one step closer to a little something we all consider more American than apple pie: equal rights.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Government, Obama, Politics, Raising Awareness, Women, Working moms

Morningside Mom’s 2009 Resolutions for Barack Obama

The December holidays are finally winding down. Decorations are to be packed up, our homes are being put back into order and left over holiday goodies are being cleaned out of refrigerators. So naturally, as we are fed up with our past week of excess, what comes to mind during the December wind down? Resolutions. And lots of them. But I am a realistic person and I know that my personal resolution lists rarely pan out. So this year, I am doing it a little differently. I would like to consider what sort of resolutions Obama might want to make for 2009. Perhaps you may have a few to add to his list as well.

On the eve of a hope-filled New Year and his first inauguration, Barack Obama’s resolution list has got to be about a mile long. Although, I’m not sure how he can discriminate his resolution list from the endlessly unfurling to-do list draped over his desk right now.

In the midst of all that is to be taken seriously in the New Year, The Red Stapler Chronicles had some resolutions for Obama that gave me a good laugh. For example:

  • Fix the leaking faucet in the Oval Office to immediately save tax payer’s money
  • Make sure new puppy gets along with Biden’s new dog to avoid dog fighting scandal.

Now it’s my turn. Here are a few suggested resolutions this liberal minded mom might add to President-elect Obama’s list:

  • Prepare that pedestal.

    With so much work ahead of him, folks may shove him right off that pedestal if he doesn’t change things on day one. Or, it could go the other way. Any difference he makes at all could officially establish his superhero status and permanence on that pedestal. Either way, he needs to ready his pedestal and be prepared for anything.

  • Keep that ego in check.

    With all the inauguration fanfare and Obama mania ringing in the streets, he needs to keep a grounded perspective. I am expecting Michelle to see right through it all and remind him who Barack really is.

  • Keep it real.

    President or not, he must remember his roots, his family, his heritage and the real reasons he got into politics in the first place.

  • Don’t forget the moms.

    With his wife and mother-in-law dropping everything to raise his children, he better recognize the kind of work mothers actually do and that women nationwide are expecting more focus on rights for working mothers during his presidency.

  • Keep a sense of humor.

    President-elect Obama is a funny guy. There is not much to laugh at right now but his sense of humor will serve him and this White House well in the midst of it all.

  • Stay squeaky clean.

    After our last democratic president, I shudder to think about what sort of damage one stupid, selfish decision could do right now.

  • Keep those promises.

    As any politician does during an election, Obama has made a lot of them. The difference is that this time if he doesn’t keep those promises and we don’t see change happen, a recession will be the least of our problems.

  • Play with your kids.

    There is no better way to keep perspective and maintain sanity than to play with your children after a long day at the office solving the world’s problems.

And finally, I would like to wish the President-elect, his family and this entire country a very happy and hopeful New Year indeed.

And here’s a hand, my trusty friend And gie’s a hand o’ thine
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne
-Robert Burns, 1788

 Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Equal Rights, Family, Fathers, Feminist tendancies, Holidays, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Mothers, Obama, Presidency, Reccomendations, Women, Working moms

Michelle Obama as First Lady, Feminist and Mom in Chief

michelle_obama4

I can’t help but empathize with Michelle Obama right now. As a mother of two small children myself, I keep trying to imagine what she is going through as she prepares her family for life in the White House. I think about her little girls growing up in Washington DC as I did, attending a school right down the road from where I grew up. And as I empathise with our future first lady, my ears perk up when I read both about the support and criticism she is receiving as an accomplished woman who has decided to make her role in the White House “mom-in-chief”.

There can be no more daunting task than trying to raise the First Children. Can you imagine? Your daughters must live in a virtual museum with some of the tightest security world wide. There is no spontaneously running over to a neighbor’s house to play.  They will be isolated and protected from the world and yet they will have the most public lives of any child.

And so Michelle Obama has chosen to make parenting these children her priority. However, within days of learning about her future in the White House, Michelle had already received her fair share of advice. Hillary has jumped in to say her piece. Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, had a few things to say. And even FDR’s grandson offered some words of wisdom. While Michelle did not formally ask for Laura Bush’s advice, the current first lady did share her suggestions with the press later.

I wonder what comfort she has taken from all of this advice, if any. I wonder how much more advice is coming down the pike from other celebrity parents or those with political agendas or even advice from your average “Jane Parent” who always thinks she knows better anyway.

However, while Michelle prepares her girls and faces all of this advice, she must deal with those who already criticize her decision to put her girls first. Michelle is certainly an accomplished woman. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she continued on to work as an associate at a law firm and hold six board of director positions. She founded programs, she lead community outreach – she made “change” happen long before it was cool for an Obama to do so. But now, as her husband has been elected to be President, she has chosen to bring her career to a screeching halt and just be… well… a mom.

In a fascinating article written by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com, Michelle’s choices to focus on the traditional worries of a First Lady leave the author concerned. 

“…some of the most extraordinary [qualities of Michelle Obama] — the ones that set her apart from many of her predecessors in the East Wing — are already falling victim to a nostalgic complacency about familial roles, and to an apparent commitment to re-creating Camelot with an African-American cast, but little modern tweaking of the role of wife and mother.”

She argues Michelle could push the envelope and bring a more career minded feminist into the role of a first lady. She seems disappointed she has chosen to put her role as a mother and wife first and foremost, while leaving all the rest behind.

Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post discusses the ever present question that arises between married parents such as the Obamas: who will work and who will raise the children?

“The brutal reality is that, like our president-elect, most men do not wrestle quite so strenuously with these competing desires [to work or raise your family]. So when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman’s career that yields.”

She implies that Michelle was not given much of a choice in this matter. When Obama was elected President, her career had to end. And there was no other choice but to make her children a priority.

But has Michelle truly failed as a feminist by focusing on her children? Is her career an utter failure because she is stepping aside from it for the meantime? Has she lost all credibility as a potentially new, modern, variety of First Lady?

According to Geraldine Brooks at The Daily Beast, she can make parenting her priority while still representing women as a powerful example.

“She is smart enough and subtle enough to have worked out that so-called Mom issues can make for meaty public policy.”

And then explains that her position as a mother in the White House will in fact bring much needed attention to women who struggle daily as they balance their careers and family.

“Work-family balance? What is that, really, but a polite way of putting the feminist agenda of equal pay and decent childcare back on the table after so many years of neglect?”

Meghan O’Rourke at Slate.com sympathises that, once again, no matter if a woman chooses either work or parenting as the priority, they will be criticized for their choice. And most of often a woman’s biggest critic is herself. She then goes on to make this final point.

“The best way Michelle Obama can act as a role model for women right now is not by making the decision any one of us would make (because we’d all make different decisions), but by reminding us that life is fleeting, and we ought to immerse ourselves in the opportunities and joys of our own life as it exists. Not as it might exist.”

And so my identification with Michelle Obama remains true. With two small children, and a mountain of advice, she must trust her instincts and raise her girls the best way she knows how.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will change the role and perceptions of the First Lady. And however she shakes things up, she has already made it unapologetically clear that she will make her girls her priority. In my mind’s eye, as a mother and brilliant leader able to remain fluid in her many roles as a woman, Michelle will make an excellent “First Feminist” indeed.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under daughters, Election, Equal Rights, Family, Fathers, Feminist tendancies, Guilt and motherhood, Hillary Clinton, Inspiring people, Marriage, Michelle Obama, Mothers, Obama, Parenting, Politics, Women, Working moms

Gay Marriage Bans, Discrimination and Fruit

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While last Tuesday night had many Americans dancing in the streets (and rightfully so – hell, I’m still dancing), we were also given a sobering wake up call. Bans on gay marriage passed in California, Florida and Arizona.

Forgive me as I state the oh so obvious, but this is very bad news for our country.

While we rejoice the fact that an African American man has become a United States President, there – sitting in the shadow of this wonderful moment – is hate, discrimination and fear. And so, a majority of people in these states voted that two people who love each other – who happened to be the same gender – do not deserve the same rights to marry as they do.

Gender. What the hell does it mean anyway? That I have to sit down to pee and my husband does not? That I have the physiology to make a baby and but my husband does not? Or that at Red Lobster, he goes into the “Bouys” room and I go into the “Gulls”? I mean, that’s it. Otherwise, we are as alike as any two people can be – with the same abundance of love for each other and our children, with the same abilities to think and reason, we catch the same germs when we get sick, we like to eat good food, and drink beer, and maybe he watches more football than I do but we BOTH watch Project Runway, for cripes sakes!

Now, my feminist tendancies are tapping my shoulder to remind me that men and women have not been treated the same since the dawn of man… er… people. (SEE?!?!) And gender is a very complex thing indeed (am wiping my brow remembering a Philosophy and Gender class I took in college). But, that’s not what I mean right now. I am talking about just the basics of gender. And that we are the same – except for some interesting bits of physiology. So, really, what it comes down to is that my husband and I – who love each other very much – are allowed to be married simply because he has twigs and berries, and I’ve gotta peach.

And so, depending on how we shuffle our twigs and berries and peaches, those with only the CORRECT assortment of said symbolic plant items can marry. Therefore, two people who love each other deeply but BOTH must use the”Bouys” room… well, call out the reinforcements and send lightening bolts down from the heavens – they absolutely CANNOT be married.

Folks think about it. When it comes to love and family, gender doesn’t mean anything. Love is love. And no one else should be allowed to tell me or anyone else who I can or can not love and marry.

Shoot, if all marriage boils down to is an assortment of the correct kinds of fruit, well then you may as well tell me that I couldn’t marry someone because he or she was shorter than I am. Or has a different shade of eye color. Or a different shade of skin than I do… (oh wait, we’ve done that one before).

Not allowing two human beings to marry – AND I DON’T CARE WHAT COMBINATION OF TWIGS, BERRIES AND PEACHES YOU’VE GOT – is discrimination people. It’s as simple as that.

So before I get any further stewed up and start hurling more fruit epithets your way, I will leave you with this. Please, PLEASE watch this special comment given by Keith Olbermann last night. He gets it so right for me and for all of us. Love is love people, and it’s simply a human right.

keith-olbermann        CLICK HERE TO WATCH KEITH OLBERMANN’S SPECIAL COMMENT.

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Filed under Election, Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Florida, Marriage, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

The Top Ten Reasons I Voted for Obama

It finally happened. I voted today. As an democrat and American citizen, I could not be more proud to cast my vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. However, as a fellow American or global citizen, you may potentially be asking me: Why? Why did I decide to vote for the Obama/Biden ticket? With November 4th only days away, I thought I would share with you my own personal reasons for voting for Barack Obama to become the President of the United States.

1) The Economy. You and I know that our economic troubles are extraordinarily complex. Neither candidate is going to have an easy go at fixing these issues. However, I believe Obama’s focus on creating new jobs, supporting small businesses, holding banks and lenders accountable, and providing tax relief to middle America will certainly make an enormous impact. He is not about protecting the wealthy elite, he is about creating job opportunities and supporting hard working regular middle class folks – like me.

2) The Environment. We need alternative energy resources. We need to quit our addiction to oil and focus on more environmentally friendly transportation options. We all need to be held accountable for our planet. Obama takes our environmental issues seriously. However, he also sees this crisis as an opportunity to create new jobs and empower our own nation to reverse the damage done.  By putting our greatest minds and entrepeneurs on task, I expect we will discover clean energy solutions and escape out from under the thumb of foreign oil companies in the near future.

3) The Supreme Court. During the next four to eight years, it is very likely that the President will have to appoint one or more supreme court justices. As a woman who firmly supports a woman’s right to choose, I believe Barack Obama would appoint Supreme Court justices who will serve fairly and protect my rights as a woman.

4) Foreign Relations. It’s time for a President who can put the United States first while also respecting the countries that support and work along side us. It’s time for a President who cares less about his ego and more about diplomatically and sensitively working out peaceful solutions.  Its time for a President who thinks before he shoots. As a South African friend of mine recently noted, the world is watching and hoping for Obama.

5) The Iraq War. This war was a mistake. We need to be held accountable for this war – and the damage it has left in its wake. And then we need to bring our troops home safely. It will not be an easy task and troops cannot be pulled out immediately. But Obama has a plan to actually bring our troops home within 16 months, including phased deployment and more emphasis on diplomacy.

6) No more hate. I am so exhausted by the hate in our country. Offensive, from the gut, hateful emotions have boiled to the surface recently unveiling our country’s true discriminatory colors. Obama will be an important example as he guides this nation away from divisive, destructive leadership and towards healing and resolution. It’s time.

7) Education. Obama believes in recruiting capable teachers and compensating them appropriately. He is working towards making a college education affordable for everyone. A priority will be integrating parents into the education process, encouraging them to play a more active role in their child’s learning. Obama also wants to reform the half hearted attempt at No Child Left Behind.

8 ) Women. Obama will work towards equal pay for women in the workplace. Both nationally and internationally, he will stand behind victims of domestic abuse as well as HIV positive women and their children. He will put an emphasis on women’s health care research. He will also protect a woman’s reproductive rights and her right to choose.

9) Biden would be an able president. If something were to happen to Obama, God forbid, I feel that Joe Biden is 100% capable and ready to lead this country.

10) A leader I trust. Obama communicates a steady, strong, smart, honest sort of leadership to me. Yeah, he’s a younger candidate and he’s newer to the game. However, I would rather have a sensible, capable person of solid character in office, than an erratic, inconsistent, temperamental Washington good ol’ boy.

Every American has an obligation to vote for their President. And every voter bases their choice on their own perceptions, opinions and retained bits of information. The reasons I have listed are simply my own. This is where I have landed after processing all the information thrown at me during an exhaustive election year. My reasons may or may not jibe with your reasons or choice for President. Never the less, from where ever you sit, you have the right to your own opinions. And it’s time to act on them. Be the change you want to see. Please vote by November 4th.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Economy, Education, Election, Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Gas, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, McCain, Obama, Politics, Raising Awareness, Renewable energy, Women