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Archive for April, 2012

The Mom Vivant / Debbie Baldwin of Ladue News

By Debbie Baldwin

This documentary on school bullying came into the spotlight several months ago as producers fought with the MPAA to change the R rating to PG-13. The cynic in me suspects the push was initiated by bullies of the industry, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, to increase box-office revenue. The pure-of-heart in me thinks the intention was to make the movie accessible to the very victims and bullies the film portrays.

The film follows several school children throughout the south and rural Midwest who are victims of merciless bullying. School administrators are so oblivious they seem complicit, the kids are ruthless and parents have nowhere to turn. Desperate to open eyes, one parent seeks help and uses social networking to raise awareness of the single greatest cause of violence against children in the United States.

Let me state for the record that this film is moving and tragic and very well made. However, it really just scratches the surface of a social dynamic that is as old as the one-room schoolhouse. There is a complex psychology to bullying, and often bullies are victims, as well. Furthermore, the film follows a somewhat unpolished group of people, giving the impression bullying is confined to rural, under-educated populations and that is certainly not the case. That being said, the film does a wonderful job shedding light on a problem that continues to fester in every strata of society.

It’s a 6.

How delegates are chosen

From About. com:

How Delegates are Awarded
The Democratic and Republican parties use different methods for determining how many delegates are awarded to, or “pledged” to vote for the various candidates at their national conventions.

Democrats use a proportional method. Each candidate is awarded a number of delegates in proportion to their support in the state caucuses or the number of primary votes they won.

For example, consider a state with 20 delegates at a democratic convention with three candidates. If candidate “A” received 70% of all caucus and primary votes, candidate “B” 20% and candidate “C” 10%, candidate “A” would get 14 delegates, candidate “B” would get 4 delegates and candidate “C” would get 2 delegates.

In the Republican Party, each state chooses either the proportional method or a “winner-take-all” method of awarding delegates. Under the winner-take-all method, the candidate getting the most votes from a state’s caucus or primary, gets all of that state’s delegates at the national convention.

An easy weeknight dinner

Taco pasta? Stuffed green peppers? These are just some of the recipes I found when I was looking for an easy recipe. There’s just one problem. They’re gross. I am the mother of a 12 year old boy who thinks anything that isn’t a nugget, doesn’t arrive via the Dominos deliveryman and isn’t drowning in parmesan cheese and butter is gross. But tonight I am going to try to get him to eat these calzones. I will probably leave the gouda out.

The recipe is from Bon

Bacon, Cheese and Spinach Calzones

Squeeze-dry thawed frozen spinach and mix together with crumbled cooked bacon and mozzarella and gouda cheese cubes. Spoon onto whole-wheat pizza dough and fold over, crimping the edges together to seal. Bake until puffed and browned.

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The “Rominee” bears down on Tampa after 5 state sweep /

Father records teacher bullying autistic child /

Girl slips into 20 foot sinkhole while talking on cell phone

It's the ladies, by a long shot, in the latest popularity polls

It’s the ladies, by a long shot, in the latest popularity polls

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post polls, Ann Romney is even more popular than Mitt Romney. Michelle Obama is more popular than Barack Obama and even Hillary Clinton is more popular than at any other time in her 20 years on the political stage. Could it be that a partisan weary public sees women as better negotiators and more capable of compromise? The concern I have with this poll is that two-thirds of moderate voters polled said they view both Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton favorably. Only slightly more than 40 percent said the same about Ann Romney. That could be because she is less known. Michelle Obama’s numbers could be the legacy of the cover girl treatment she received in the 2008 elections and Hillary Clinton has been working so hard for so many years, even those who don’t like her politics have grown to respect her, myself included. So, what can Ann Romney do between now and Election Day 2012 to boost her numbers with independents and moderates? I think we just need to see and hear more from her. I heard her on Piers Morgan recently and she talked mostly about Mitt, which isn’t inappropriate, since he is the candidate. But moderate women may want to hear what it is like to juggle a large family when your husband is running for President or what it was like to have multiple sclerosis or her opinions on some of the issues at the forefront this year. Actually, it might create a little Barbara Bush spark if she shared an issue that they don’t agree on. It won’t change his position but it will show who she is apart from her husband. Just a thought!


Michelle Obama and Ann Romney outscore their husbands in personal popularity in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, while Hillary Clinton, for her part, has hit a new high in favorability data stretching back to her entry on the national stage 20 years ago.

Clinton and Obama both are far better known than Romney, helping boost them to much higher popularity ratings overall. All three are rated unfavorably by roughly similar numbers, 24 percent for Obama, 27 percent for Clinton and 30 percent for Romney.

All told, Obama is seen favorably by 69 percent of the public, unfavorably by 24 percent – not her best rating (76-16 percent in March 2009) but a broadly positive one. Her favorability rating is 13 points higher than her husband’s; her unfavorable score, 16 points lower.

See PDF with full results and tables here

Romney’s rating is 40-30 percent favorable-unfavorable in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. While much less positive than Obama’s, some of that has to do with Romney’s shorter time in the spotlight: Thirty percent are undecided about her, compared with 7 percent undecided about Obama.

Romney, in any case, does better than her husband’s 35-47 percent rating last week. She’s a scant 5 points higher than Mitt Romney in favorability, but a broader 17 points lower in unfavorable ratings. As noted last week, Mitt Romney’s basic popularity ratings are the weakest for any presumptive presidential nominee in ABC/Post polls during primary seasons since 1984.

Clinton’s ratings are much like Obama’s – 65-27 percent favorable-unfavorable, a numerical high for Clinton by a single point. That reflects a turnaround from the 2008 presidential campaign, in which she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. At this time four years ago she was seen unfavorably by 54 percent of Americans, favorably by 44 percent.

Clinton likely is boosted by her current position: As secretary of state, she’s prominent as a representative of U.S. interests and concerns overseas, without engaging in the controversial to-and-fro of domestic politics. Note too that her husband, also largely outside the fray of domestic politics these days, had an equally positive 67-29 percent favorable-unfavorable rating in a Pew poll last month, much like his wife’s, and also Michelle Obama’s, today.

There are differences in intensity of sentiment. Michelle Obama is viewed strongly favorably by 38 percent of Americans, strongly unfavorably by 12 percent. Hillary Clinton’s ratings are 33 percent strongly positive vs. 13 percent strongly negative – the latter its lowest by 13 points, and a shift from generally much greater negative intensity in past years. Intensity of views on Ann Romney are evenly divided – 11 percent strongly favorable, 13 percent strongly unfavorable.

GROUPS – Being a step away from the main political fray isn’t the same as being out of politics; indeed there are sharp partisan differences in views of these three women. Obama and Clinton both are viewed favorably by a near-unanimous 90 percent of Democrats, but by far fewer Republicans – 44 and 39 percent, respectively. Romney, by contrast, is rated favorably by 64 percent of Republicans, but 24 percent of Democrats.

In the political center, roughly two-thirds of independents express positive views of Obama and Clinton alike. Forty-two percent hold favorable opinions of Romney, again with many undecided.

There are ideological differences as well, although notably, all three women are rated favorably by roughly equal numbers – from 51 to 53 percent – of conservatives. Obama and Clinton go much higher in popularity among political moderates and liberals, while Romney heads the other way.


Explaining how a Presidential candidate gets his party’s nod

 From A great resource for kids.

Step-by-Step on the Campaign Trail

How the President Gets Elected

—Holly Hartman

Don’t know the difference between a caucus and a convention? Unsure what the electoral college is? Check out our handy guide to the seven steps of the presidential election.

Candidate announces plan to run for office.

This announcement launches the candidate’s official campaign. Speeches, debates, and baby-kissing begin in full force.

Candidate campaigns to win delegate support.

The first stage of a presidential campaign is the nomination campaign. At this time the candidate is competing with other candidates in the same party, hoping to get the party’s nomination. The candidate works to win delegates—representatives who pledge to support the candidate’s nomination at the national party convention—and to persuade potential voters in general.

Caucuses and primary elections take place in the states.

Caucuses and primaries are ways for the general public to take part in nominating presidential candidates. Before the 20th century , only the party leaders in each state could nominate presidential candidates.

At a caucus, local party members gather to nominate a candidate. A caucus is a lively event at which party leaders and activists debate issues, consider candidates, choose delegates, and discuss the party platform, or statement of principles. The rules governing caucus procedures vary by party and b y state.

A primary is more like a general election. Voters go to the polls to cast their votes for a presidential candidate (or delegates who will represent that candidate at the party convention). Primary elections are the main way for voters to choose a nominee.

Nominee for president is announced at national party conventions.

The main goal of a national party convention is to unify party members behind the party’s platform and nominees. Thousands of delegates gather to rally support for the platform and to nominate candidates for president and vice-president.

From the 1820s until the 1930s, party conventions were boisterous events in which determining a nominee could spark hot debate. By the mid-20th century, however, primary elections had become the main way of selecting a nominee.

After the convention, the second stage of the presidential campaign begins: the election campaign. In this stage, presidential candidates from different parties compete against each other.

Carol M. Highsmith photo
Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith

Citizens cast their votes.

Presidential elections are held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. This was decided long ago, when many voters had to make a long, slow journey to the polling place. By early November crops were in but the weather was usually not too cold for travel. And because Sunday was a day of rest, voters would begin the trip on Monday.

Many Americans think that when they cast their ballot, they are voting for their chosen candidate. In actuality they are selecting groups of electors in the electoral college.

The electoral college casts its votes.

Some of the founding fathers wanted Congress to elect the president. Others wanted the president to be elected by popular vote. The electoral college represents a compromise between these ideas.

Every state has a number of electors equal to its number of congresspersons. In addition, there are three electors for the District of Columbia. At the last presidential election there were 538 electors. Although laws vary by state, electors are usually chosen by popular vote. An elector may not be a senator, representative, or other person holding a U.S. office.

All the electoral votes from a particular state go to the candidate who leads the popular vote in that state. A candidate can therefore win millions of popular votes but no electoral votes. This “winner takes all” system can produce seemingly uneven results; in the elections of 1876, 1888, and 2000, for instance, the candidate who had the greatest popular vote did not win the greatest electoral college vote, and so lost the presidency.

On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, the electors cast their ballots. Nothing in the Constitution or federal law requires that the electors vote along with their state’s popular vote, though an elector who did not would likely not be reelected. At least 270 electoral votes are required to elect a president. If this majority is not reached, the House of Representatives will elect the president.

The president is inaugurated.

On January 20, the president enters office in a formal ceremony know as the inauguration. He takes the presidential oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

In accordance with the Constitution, the inauguration used to take place on March 4, because transportation and communication were so slow that it took time to collect election results and allow winning candidates to travel to Washington, D.C. With the 20th Amendment in 1933, however, the inauguration date was changed to January 20.

Read more: Step-by-Step on the Campaign Trail —

The Mom Vivant / Debbie Baldwin of Ladue News

Wardrobe Malfunction

By Debbie Baldwin

 So Cranky is fourteen and like most fourteen-year-olds she goes to dances. These events are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. I actually think I recognized one of the instructors the other night from when I attended. They’re in the same venues at the same times and the kids learn many of the same dances, well not the popcorn or the hustle, say some of the same dances. What is different about these dances—and all teenage social events—is Facebook. Please to explain.

            Cranky informed me last week that the last League Dance was the following Friday and she had, of course, nothing to wear. When I pointed to the closet teeming with skirts and dresses she explained to me that she had worn this dress or that to a party last month and despite the fact that none of the same kids would be at this dance, she couldn’t wear it again because “everybody had seen her in it on Facebook.”

            Hmmm. It occurs to me that the retail industry owes Facebook a debt of gratitude. The site has turned little girls everywhere into Gwyneth Paltrow at awards’ season. What’s next? Are they going to be changing outfits mid-party as the pictures are tagged like Liz Taylor at her last wedding? Even Anna Wintour re-wears dresses for God’s sake. What are my options here? Could there be a disposable dress? A one-use frock that the girls could, say, compost after wearing? It could be sort of a preppy hemp.

            Is it time for the Bedazzler to make a comeback? You know, she could wear the dress once and then I would sew a giant flower on the shoulder or line the hem with rhinestones. By the time I’m done with it, Cranky will look like Molly Ringwald at prom. Perhaps a stylish accessory change up would do the trick. Can we take the age old custom of sharing to a new level? All the moms pull up to the school parking lot with a trunk load of dresses and the girls have at it—sort of an open air Filene’s Basement.

I don’t have an answer. Really since it’s Facebook’s fault Facebook should provide a solution. The girls should be able to go online and photoshop their clothes. Their virtual wardrobes would triple. I guess the good news is that there is such an avalanche of information hitting these kids as they social network that party ABC is forgotten as soon as pictures from party DEF are posted. Having too much information becomes the equivalent of having none. The trick is to know when everybody has forgotten about the last dance or party, and then wear the dress again.

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Michelle Obama says she is now more popular than the President /

Harvard now teaching class on “understanding Obama.” /

Sagging pants earns man jail time

If I can get my son to eat this, I’ll be psyched!

The weather is so incredibly beautiful in St. Louis this Spring that it has me thinking of having dinner outdoors. I’m also putting my house on the market and having less time to cook than ever. This is easy and will knock out at least three of the food groups! It’s from


  1. 1
    Combine turkey, apple, onion, celery, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper in a bowl and form into 4 large patties.
  2. 2
    Preheat a large skillet or a grill pan to medium high heat.
  3. 3
    Drizzle skillet or brush grill with vegetable oil and cook patties 5 to 6 minutes on each side.
  4. 4
    Serve with FF mayo mixed with cranberry sauce for a gourmet touch, on toasted sourdough english muffins!
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It’s practically official – Mitt is the Rominee!

I can’t believe we are about to agree with something that Rush Limbaugh said. But, you have to give credit where credit is due. He’s right. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn’t have to talk conservative anymore. So, it’s safe for his inner moderate to come out. The Mom Vivant (who is a real person named Debbie Baldwin) came up with the slogan Rominee.  It really does roll off the tongue, doesn’t it? Here’s a look at what’s out there this week in terms of reaction to Rick Santorum dropping out.

Rick Santorum on why he had to drop out

What women voters need to hear

The View hosts ask why Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still in the race?