Friday, October 31, 2008

My two latest blogs are on

To read my latest blogs on the battle over same-sex marriage in California (Proposition 8) and on why Halloween is our default setting, check out Silicon Valley Moms Blog ( The site has published my two latest efforts, and each time I publish with them, there is a chance my work will get picked up by a newspaper syndication group and published nationwide.

My two most recent blogs are "Halloween is our Default Setting" and "The Debate Over Gay Marriage Makes me Wonder: Do Bigots Live Here?" The controversial one on the "bigot" debate in my neighborhood generated 25+ comments from readers, many of whom agreed with me and many of whom clearly thought I was crazy. (They might be onto me there!)

I got so fired up and indignant about all the "Yes on 8" signs in our neighborhood (note to non-Californians -- Yes on 8 means you are voting to change our state constitution to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry) that I also called in to "Talk of the Nation" on NPR last week. And I got on! It was surreal to hear Neil Conan, the host, say "Erica, from San Jose, you're on the air" and realize that whatever came out of my mouth would be broadcast to several million people. I talked about how Proposition 8 has really divided our neighborhood and how many "Yes on 8" supporters there are, even in supposedly "liberal" Silicon Valley. I mentioned that my Mormon neighbors all have "Yes on 8" signs on their lawns, since their church passed them out one Sunday. I also said that there are other religious people in California, like me, who believe that God created all people equally and that we should all have equal rights.

I'll keep blogging on my own space here at and occasionally writing unique content for Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Greatest Girl's Weekend Ever

Since I told everyone I know (and some who I didn’t) that I was going to the Democratic Women’s Leadership conference in Chicago last weekend to see the Obamas, quite a few of you have asked me how it was. In a word, incredible. Inspirational. Possibly life-changing. (Ok, I know that’s more than one word). These are powerful emotions that are hard to capture.

There is a certain joy and power that a woman feels from being in a room – even if it is only a Sheraton Hotel ballroom – with 1500 women (and a few intrepid men). Add to that the fact that all the women there share one goal, which is to change our country for the better, and you get really, really excited. Once you’re in that ballroom, a series of remarkable people come out on stage and make inspirational speeches. They praise you for the money you have raised, the phone calls you have made, the neighbors you have talked to and for being part of a unique grassroots movement in our country. They tell you what inspires them about this candidate, and they share stories from the field that bring tears to your eyes thinking about how much kindness and goodness is still out there in ordinary Americans.

So what did we do at this conference anyway? We laughed, we cried, we listened, we learned, and we basked in the feelings of camaraderie and belonging that came from being part of a gathering of women from every corner of the country (even Utah!) who are working to elect Obama and change our future.

First, Oprah came and made a funny and heartfelt speech about what women can do when we put our minds to it. She ought to know. Just thinking about all of her accomplishments makes me feel like a slacker. She talked about the campaign as a marathon and likened it to the one she ran a few years back. She talked about how you hit mile 18 and you need every woman, every friend, every family member, even Jesus Christ himself to help you finish. And that’s where we are now in this campaign -- at that tough part where everyone feels a little bit tired and spent and we have to call on every angel we can think of to help get Obama across the finish line.

After Oprah, there were speeches and panels by Jill and Joe Biden, Howard Dean, Gayle King, David Plouffe (the Obama campaign strategist who sends some of us MANY emails), personal finance guru Suze Ormon, Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona, the hilarious and wickedly smart Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, Michelle Obama, former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, former Council of Economic Advisors Chair Laura D’Andrea Tyson, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, David Axelrod of the Obama campaign, the woman who founded the group “Republicans for Obama”, and many others who are all a blur to me right now.

All of these speakers shared their expertise and insights. We learned about the perils facing us in the international community and how best to tackle them from Madeleine Albright, and we learned about the inside story of the global financial crisis and the bailout from Bob Rubin and Laura Tyson. We learned about how the campaign plans to win 270 votes in the Electoral College (at least!) and elect Barack Obama to the presidency from a number of the campaign’s top dogs.

And then there was one more speaker. Barack Obama. Some of you have asked me what he’s like in person. He is charming, funny, and eloquent. He has that 1000-watt smile and an aura of calm that radiates dignity, grace and intelligence that a lot of us find so compelling on television. I will admit right now that I burst into tears when he walked out on stage. The combination of excitement, anxiety and hope – above all hope – just made me have to sob for a few minutes as I watched this man who is so different from any politician I have ever supported come out to speak to ME and 1499 of my new friends. I hope that everyone who reads this has the opportunity to see Senator Obama in person some day. Even if you disagree with his policy proposals, I think you will respect the man that he is and find that he offers many people in this country who have lost hope a chance to believe that our country can do well again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just one of many...

If you've talked to me in the past two months, chances are I've told you that I'm going to a Democratic Women's Leadership Conference in Chicago this weekend. It's a chance to see the Obamas (both of 'em) as well as many of the bright lights of the policy world who I revere: Madeleine Albright, Robert Rubin and Laura D'Andrea Tyson. Since I'm a policy wonk, these are my stars. When I'm at the hairdresser and I try to read People or Us magazine, I only know who about half the celebrities are so I quickly get bored. (Don't even get me started on trying to watch "Dancing with the Stars". That show makes me feel like I've been on a deserted island for the last 20 years.) But give me the line-up for a policy conference that includes experts like Madeleine Albright and Susan Rice, and I'm all atwitter.

Apart from seeing Barack Obama speak in person, I plan to relax and enjoy being among the like-minded. Thousands of Democrats and others who support Obama all in one room, talking about what policies this country needs and what we can expect from an Obama administration.

Lately I feel like our country is so polarized that it's hard to believe we share any goals in common anymore. For the third time in recent weeks this morning, I listened to a random voter in a Red state on the radio saying that Obama "scares the bejeezus out of 'em" and "I just don't trust him." Those are tough interviews to listen to. I understand disagreeing with the policies he is promoting but I can't even imagine why anyone would be scared of Senator Obama. Is it his race? Do they not know any mixed race or black people? Are they believing the crazy talk radio and Internet rumors that the senator is secretly a Muslim who plans to somehow convert us all and give aid al Qaida?

What reasons are there for being scared of a politician? It is understandable to be scared of one who is threatening to take away cherished rights. One example: Governor Palin, who wants to take away a woman's right to choose, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. But which rights is Senator Obama threatening to take away exactly? He had to make a campaign appearance in rural Virginia recently where he reassured voters that he would not do anything to take away their guns.

All this makes me wonder what the fear-mongers are saying and doing to scare voters? Or what is it about an African-American man that so scares some people? I look at Senator Obama and all I hear is clear logic and common-sense proposals to solve our country's problems. At times it's such hard-core policy talk that I could see the average person being bored by it, but not scared. Other times, I watch him and see bright bursts of a huge, infectious grin accompanied by passionate speeches about how great this country is for giving him this opportunity.

Meanwhile, I've got to pack my bags and figure out what to wear. They've just added Oprah to the line-up at this conference. Now there's a star that even I've heard of.