Friday, April 25, 2008

Superstition 1, Healthy Babies 0 

Mary sent me this article about the Texas polygamy case. Apparently, the mothers can see their children to pray with them, but not to breastfeed them:
The Texas judge overseeing the polygamous FLDS sect's case has rebuffed pleas to allow breast-feeding mothers to remain with their children in state custody.

Judge Barbara Walther did rule that the women and children currently staying at the San Angelo Coliseum could meet twice a day to pray without being monitored by state workers.
I'll admit that the title of this post is a bit unfair, as I do not doubt that a mother praying with a child can have real psychological benefits in a time of stress, but so can breastfeeding, which promotes the physical and psychological health of babies.

Beyond the obvious inconsistency, the judge's reasoning shows a lack of understanding of the basics of breastfeeding:
Walther acknowledged the nutritional and bonding benefits of breast-feeding.

"But every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave," she said....

Apparently, Judge Walthers has never seen one of these:
In fact, through the use of breast pumps and other strategies, 23% of U.S. mothers who work full time outside their home (and 33% of those who work part time) are still breastfeeding at six months, which is not that different from the 35% of mothers who are not employed.

UPDATE: A website set up to monitor the situation reports that the judge has reversed herself. Good news.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Strategy Is For Girls 

Shorter Bob Margolis:
Sure Danica Patrick won the Japan 300, but it doesn't count because she used strategy to take advantage of a favorable opportunity and looks good in a swimming suit.
No, seriously, he really said that:

Danica Patrick’s first IndyCar win in the Japan 300 was more a triumph in public relations than auto racing.

It didn’t happen as the result of a final lap, wheel-to-wheel battle, one that many close observers of the sport feel she will never win.

It instead was more a battle between the race engineer’s computers on the Andretti Green team and that of her rival Helio Castroneves’ Penske Racing team. It was a matter of who would get the best fuel mileage in the final handful of laps of the 200-lap race.

Both drivers had made their final pit stop on Lap 148, and when race leader Scott Dixon was forced onto pit road for a final splash of fuel, it became an opportunity for both Patrick and Castroneves to win – in a fuel mileage battle....

The win was the result of a well-calculated move – pure and simple....

Despite her having only won in go-karts and not while driving in a professional auto race, Patrick has been able to command a legion of fans, perhaps for no reason other than she is a woman participating in what most regard as a man’s sport.

And after tiring of fending off questions about when she would win, she distracted her detractors by posing in swimsuits and making suggestive ads for her sponsors.

I don't know anything about auto racing, but -- big surprise -- using strategy is not generally considered a bad thing, at least when a man does it:
Michael Schumacher is just as happy to outsmart the field as he is to dominate it.

He won the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday for his seventh victory in eight races, using a two-pit-stop strategy to perfection to overcome a season-worst sixth-place start.
UPDATE: I really wasn't trying to channel Melissa McEwan this morning, so I'll take refuge in the "great minds think alike" defense....

UPDATE 2: Via Feministing, they're changing the rules to make it harder for women to win.


Buyer's Remorse 

What is it with Barack Obama's foot-in-mouth disease?
"You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain. And all three of us would be better than George Bush," Obama told a town hall event in Pennsylvania. "But what you have to ask yourself is, who has the chance to actually, really change things in a fundamental way?" (Emphasis added.)
If the electorate thinks voting for McCain is voting for four more years of Bush, we win. If it doesn't, we don't.

Does Obama really not get that?

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton would be right about this ("We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain."), if she hadn't spent last month trumpeting John McCain's wonderful commander-in-chief credentials.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blood Libel 

OK, it's not quite that bad, but it's close:
Q: ...It's been suggested that the President, who has met so often with Catholic leaders and reached out so aggressively to Catholic groups, and whose social views very closely reflect Catholic Orthodoxy, is actually America's first Catholic President. What do you think of that? (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: He's also been called America's -- or, the first Jewish President, is what the Israelis call him, too.


And What Positions Are Those, Exactly? 

Joe Lieberman's remarks suggesting that Barack Obama is perilously close to being a Marxist are getting a lot of attention:
[ANDREW] NAPOLITANO: Hey Sen. Lieberman, you know Barack Obama, is he a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case in today’s New York Times? Is he an elitist like your colleague Hillary Clinton says he is?

LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he’s obviously very smart and he’s a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America. (Emphasis added.)
While it's the first part of Lieberman's answer that's gotten the most attention, the last part is also worthy of attention.

Mary's response, on reading this, was to ask, "And what positions are those, exactly?" To quote Joe Lieberman, I must say that’s a good question.

It can't be about the Iraq War. Lieberman and Obama may disagree about that, but Obama's opposition to the war has never been a secret, and cannot be something Lieberman learned about Obama "during this campaign". It's hard to imagine what domestic issue it could be. Lieberman's stated positions on domestic policy remain relatively liberal -- for example, he's still nominally pro-choice, he's co-sponsored the Wyden-Bennett universal healthcare bill that's probably more "liberal" than the Obama plan, and even as late as 2007 he continues to receive moderate to liberal voting scores from National Journal on economic and social issues (although, to be sure, less liberal than Obama). I could be forgetting something, but I am hard pressed to think of a domestic policy "position" (far less a prominent one) that Obama has taken during this campaign that is "far to the left" of Joe Lieberman.

The key to understanding Lieberman's statement is that he's not talking about Obama's "positions" at all. What he means actually comes out earlier in the passage -- he's talking about "the kind of environment from which he came ideologically". He's talking about Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And that, I think, is pretty clearly about race, not positions.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Dream Team? 

Fred and I got talking again this morning of the possibility of Obama and Clinton ending up on a ticket together.

Even now, however much animosity the most active of their supporters may be feeling, I suspect that many, many rank & file Democrats would respond as the audience at the debate in Texas (was it Texas? my mind is going) did and be ecstatic.

I had previously been pretty skeptical of the idea of the combination with Obama at the top, just because the age and experience issues (and, admittedly, Clinton's somewhat overinflated view of herself) seemed to make it unworkable.

But Fred points out that she really is young enough to be v.p. for 2 terms and still serve 2 of her own.

And more importantly, from my perspective, it occurred to me that bringing Clinton onto his ticket would offer Obama a very important "out" of some of the stupider things he's said so far in the campaign.

One of the real challenges of supporting Obama, for me, has been that I simultaneously agree with almost everything Paul Krugman has said about his shortcomings on domestic policy and his use of Republican talking points--particularly his ridiculousness on health care mandates and the stupid stuff he said about a social security crisis.

So here's the thing. If Clinton ran as Obama's Vice President, it would give him a second chance on those issues. He gets to say that in order to unify the party, they've met in the middle, or made some accommodations to each other, and that gets him off the hook for having to defend those indefensible positions in the general election. He could even, as Fred suggested, spin it even more positively, saying how "blessed" he is to be running with someone who has her experience on the health care issue...

Imagine it as Kennedy-Johnson. They didn't love each other beforehand, but each brought something important to the ticket. The only difference would be that instead of giving Clinton the mushroom treatment* (I have to credit Fred for putting it that way), as Johnson was, you would actually (as Fred has blogged before) give her a portfolio of important domestic issues to be in charge of.

Also, during the general election, we have him floating along with his feet not quite touching the ground, inspiring people, while she takes out the opposition with her sharp left hook... She'd be a much better attack dog V.P. candidate than Edwards was (which isn't actually saying much, much as I am fond of Edwards for his poverty positions). I don't care who McCain picks as a running mate--I think we could count on Clinton to demolish him or her in the debates.

Also... I never liked the people Clinton surrounded herself with (the Penns and Wolfsons and the rest), with the exception (most of the time) of Bill, but at the same time, I've never stopped liking her. If she's the running mate, her people don't really get to decide the direction or tone of the campaign, presumably. So we get to ditch the overpaid blowhard consultants with terrible judgement that she seems determined to surround herself with, but we still get Clinton herself.

* I assume everyone knows what this is, but just in case not... Kept in the dark and fed shit.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Brand Awareness 

Baby Girl Garth turned eleven months old this weekend. Now that she's a big girl, she won't eat baby cereal anymore ... unless she sees it poured out of the box with a baby on it.


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