Friday, October 24, 2003

Parent-Teacher conference this morning

Remember to print up a couple of position papers on education and early childhood, and invite the teacher and the director to Meetup.

I finally watched Trippi's message to the Nov. Meetup. We have so much work to do. Time to get all of those who say they like Dean to get active. We have to just assume that Dean is going to be the nominee and start thinking in terms of the beating Bush. Because Bush and Rove are raising so much money. With no opponent and a very late convention, things are going to get ugly once the primaries are over.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Sick, sick, sick

What happens when you send your child off to school? He or she gets sick. Then you get sick. But since you're a mom, you don't get enough rest, so it turns into bronchitis or worse. Thankfully we have health insurance through my husband's job. My mother finally convinced me to drag myself to a doctor. 20 minutes later I was picking up a prescription for an overpriced antibiotic.

But what about the single mom who works as a home-health care worker and then part-time at Walmart. She never gets enough hours to qualify for benefits, but she makes too much to qualify for Medicaid. She can't take time off to get rest and get well because she'll lose her job. So she drags around feeling miserable getting sicker and sicker until it turns into pneumonia. Or not. Maybe she just stays sick.

Then someone like my stepdad comes into the store. A year ago he had a lung transplant. Today the anti-rejection medications he takes mean he has no immune system to fight off the slightest cold. And every cold turns into pneumonia and an extended hospital stay with more overpriced drugs.

Her kids go to school sick because she can't take time off to stay home with them. Then my kids play with her kids, and they get sick. When they are sick they can't see their grandfather. All of the agony and discomfort and stress of the transplant was so he could have a few more years to get to know his grandsons. Instead they are bundled up on the couch sipping juice and watching movies.

Then three-year-old's cold has also turned into bronchitis. He HATES the medicine. And it was expensive, too. Even with health insurance, our co-pay on prescriptions has almost tripled. The employee portion of the premiums deducted from my husband's paycheck has more than doubled, consuming his entire annual raise and then some.

The health care system in this country is a mess. It is killing people. Howard Dean knows this. He's been on the front line of this battle. As a doctor he's seen first hand how inadequate the system is. The crisis in health care isn't just another vote getting issue to him. Dr. Dean will give us answers and solutions.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Then Life intervenes

Sometimes being a Mom means that family has to come first. The weekend was dominated by a visit to grandma's house. Monday was parents' night at my son's school. This morning was my first meeting of the grant writing committee for his school.

At the committee meeting we talked about importance of the first six years in a child's life, and how an investment in children at that age has major payoffs all throughout the school years and beyond. Yet in many cases preschool teachers are paid less than people who work in fast food. Talk about messed up priorities. It just drove to me again how desperately this country needs a really advocate for children in the White House — not someone who uses children to further political ambition. I know that Howard Dean will do whatever it takes to make access to health care universal for all children.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Debate last night.

We don't have cable, so I listened to the debate on while reading the commentary on the official Dean blog and on Gov. Dean statement about not just changing presidents but changing America really hit home for me.

Judy Woodruff was an atrocious moderate. Asking a question direct from the spinmeisters in Kerry's camp was pure slime, reflecting poorly on both Woodruff and Kerry.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Time for a little gardening

I wrote my monthly garden column, then had to take a break. The boys gave me their cold. Why are these kid colds always so much worse when mom gets them?

Reading through my column, I detect subtle ways that this campaign has begun to permeate everything in my life. For example: Weeding in the spring is just beginning the battle. Summer weeding is a never-ending war. But weeding now means victory is in sight. If I can get all those greedy, tricky, tenacious, unwelcome residents out in the next week or so, the falling leaves will form a thick mulch and keep my soil safe until spring. Hmmm....weeds or Bushes? You make the call.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Success by Six on Official Blog

I come downstair after getting my boys to sleep for their naps — they're both sick with colds and coughs — and turn on the computer to start my garden column. Instead great news. Howard Dean outlines his proposal to make Success by Six national. Thank you Gov.Dean

Please sign up for Moms4Dean. Please visit is coming together. The page explaining Vermont's Success by Six program went up last night. It's the Children link, under Dr. Dean's picture. What do you think?

Take a minute now and join the Moms4Dean yahoo group, so we can stay in touch, and we can let each other know about issues and developments important to moms and dads and aunts, uncles, grandparents, pediatricians, day-care providers, preschool teachers, and anyone who puts the health and well being of children before money and power.

This is all I can do for today. After a trip to the grocery store, we're all going to the park. Today is also the day I have to write my gardening column.

Dean and Malpractice

I posted a comment about Dean and medical malpractice on the official blog. Then I got some emails asking me to share Dean's statement. Here it is.

Here it is in a nutshell:
Vermont now has one of the lowest medical malpractice rates in the country. We protect the rights of patients, but our doctors do not face the crisis of rising insurance costs that confront doctors elsewhere.

Why is malpractice important to moms? Five little letters: ob/gyn. They can't afford the lawsuits. They are losing their malpractice insurance. They are quitting the profession. What are we supposed to do? C-section rates are rising again as doctors refuse to take risks. This is a horrible situation for doctors, moms and babies. It's becoming a crisis, especially in rural America. If the Democratic party nominates someone other than Howard Dean, someone who's campaign money has come from the pockets of trial lawyers, I foresee a vicious ad campaign next fall scaring people that they are going to lose their doctors if a "pawn of the trial lawyers is elected."

Dr. Dean explains his position:
As a physician, I understand the concerns doctors have with medical malpractice system. Faced with rapidly increasing insurance premiums, doctors are avoiding certain specialties, and many are leaving the medical profession altogether. This isn't good for patients or for the American health care system generally.

But access to the courts is a fundamental civil right for all Americans, and many patients receive compensation for their injuries through the justice system.

We need a medical malpractice system that works for both doctors and patients. Patients and their families should have recourse to legal remedies if they suffer injuries and are wronged. Doctors shouldn't be run out of business by soaring premiums or spend countless hours defending frivolous lawsuits.

The position page on Dean for America linked above lists some of the solutions to this crisis, but my favorite, typical of Dr. Dean's commonsense approach, is:
The Institute of Medicine found that thousands of patients die each year due to medical errors, many of which reflect system-wide problems instead of individual negligence. To reduce errors, we need to move from a culture of blame to a culture of safety in which the health care system learns from its mistakes. Reporting systems have had great success in the aviation industry. They can improve health care outcomes as well.

The burgeoning malpractice crisis is potentially far more dangerous and will cost many more lives than the threat of international terrorism. But it's not going to be an issue with the Democrats funded by trial lawyers or with Bush, whose campaign coffers are swollen is insurance company money.

Monday, October 06, 2003 is up and running

It's simple. It's rough. But is open and ready for business. is an information site — a place where anyone who cares about kids can go an get a solid introduction to Dr. Dean and his record on health care, education and child welfare. Moms4Dean, the yahoo group, is more for staying in touch, organizing, and building outreach. Please give me feedback so I can make these sites as useful as possible.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

New Yahoo Group: Moms for Dean

My husband took the boys to the park this morning so I could set up Moms4Dean. Please join. I am not sure what is the best medium for organizing yet, and I certainly don't want to get too spread out. But the faster we can grow our movement of moms, the more we can reach out, and the sooner I can call the New York Times and tell them that the women of this country want a doctor in the White House.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Let's Get Organized

Moms in my neighborhood are busy, but they are also eager to find out more about Dean. I am going to start hosting "Mom meetings" on either Tuesday mornings or Sunday afternoons. Any ideas?

Who I am and why I support Howard Dean

I'm Michele Gray, a 43 year old stay-at-home mom in Central Pennsylvania. I have two boys, Ted who is 3 and John Michael who is 21 months.

I also write a monthly garden column for the local paper. I have never donated to a political candidate before. I have never done anything like this before. Usually I don't even vote. Six months ago I didn't even know what a blog was. Now I'm doing my own because I believe Howard Dean is the best choice for President of the United States. From where I sit, he is the only choice.

Howard Dean doesn't just promise us yet another "plan" to fix the health insurance system in this country. He's actually done it in Vermont. His innovative Success-by-Six program slashed child abuse rates. As a governor he understands first hand that schools can't effectively teach our kids when they are saddled with trying to meet unfunded federal programs.

The other candidates running understand only too well how to make speeches, propose programs, and pander to interest groups and constituencies. But they don't know about the fear of a mother with a really sick child in the middle of the night debating whether or not to go to the hospital because her insurance might not cover it or else she doesn't have insurance at all. Dr. Dean knows, and he's proven that he will do something about it.

My Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Here is the part of the Times story where I come in, but read the whole article. It's excellent. Glen Justice really gets it.

From the New York Times:
The Dean fund-raising network has attracted people like Michele Gray, a stay-at-home mother from central Pennsylvania who went from supporter to solicitor in just a matter of months.

Impressed by a Dean speech, she became a regular on his Web site and started to contribute. She has now donated the maximum $2,000 to the campaign and she is asking the people around her to give what they can. She held a fund-raiser in her home, tracks contributions on a Web page provided by the campaign and has brought at least $5,025 into Dr. Dean's coffers.

"My $2,000 counts as much as George Soros's $2,000 or Ken Lay's $2,000," Ms. Gray said. "I may be just a mom in Pennsylvania, but I can be just as much a participant. That makes me feel powerful. That makes me feel like I'm participating in this country again."

Many of the campaign's efforts are focused on providing tools, such as software that helps plan a fund-raiser, or individual Web pages that help track contributions. Perhaps the most important is the Web log, or "blog," which allows supporters to communicate instantly with the campaign staff and each other. It offers a steady stream of information from the campaign and a nonstop chain of feedback from supporters.

Together with "the bat," a red baseball player graphic on the Web site that provides updated fund-raising numbers, it forms the heart of a system that takes supporters as close to Dr. Dean's organization as an outsider can get.

"It makes it fun," said Ms. Gray, who has been in touch with supporters from Hawaii to Alaska. "It really does feel like a community."

Supporters on the blog chatter obsessively about the numbers on the bat, challenge each other to give more and share thoughts on how their candidate is faring. The campaign often gets involved, challenging supporters to meet a fund-raising goal. It was in just such a challenge that Ms. Gray gave her first $100.

My First Blog Entry

I'm a grassroots mom supporting Howard Dean for President. Thursday I was quoted in the New York Times — not a letter to the editor, but several paragraphs in a big story about Howard Dean's third quarter fund raising. I received at least a hundred emails from all over America. Thanks to everyone who wrote me.

As a result, I'm going to try to keep a public record of my journey in this campaign. I am new to blogging so hang in there with me.

Let's go.