|Your Brain is Green|
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
And that's a shame, because Barak Obama's cafe au lait skin has nothing to do with what I'm writing about.
What is largely forgotten in presidential election years is that one-third of the Senate, and all of the House of Representatives are also up for grabs. All the rhetoric in the world won't change the fact that an unfriendly Congress can tie the hands of any new President. In fact, it can darn well choke him/her.
My middle daughter, a.k.a. The Curly-Haired Monster, asked me, a few years ago, when she was about 21, if I had ever heard of a singer by the name of Bob Dylan. It seems she had just heard "The Times, They are A'Changing" on MTV.
Every generation thinks it reinvents the wheel, and usually thinks it does it better than before. I hear Obama trotting out all the Kennedy-isms, and I feel very old. ("Yes, dear", I told the CAM, "we smoked, and we inhaled".) I remember what happened to JFK when he tried to get any legislation through a Republican-dominated Congress. The only reason LBJ was able to rescue JFK's programs was because of the public mood after the assassination and--this was actually the more important reason--LBJ had over 25 years of wheeling and dealing on the Hill, and he was one sly SOB.
Obama's hands are completely empty. Oprah likes him. I probably would, too, if I met him. But he's barely been in national politics long enough to know how to find the right washroom.
Should Obama get the nomination, I predict the following:
- McCain will win the election because most Clinton Democrats will either stay home or vote for him. I cannot see many Clinton supporters transferring to Obama. Hillary could beat McCain, both on her own virtues and because I think she would get some swing votes from McCain, and certainly from Obama's people. It wouldn't be easy, but it could be done.
- Obama won primaries in the South because the total number of voters in many places were blacks. However, this may not be reflected in Congressional districts where there is a majority of white voters. I don't want to use the term "backlash", but if the poorer and more conservative Southern whites see any threat in an Obama Presidency, they will vote for the "lesser" of two evils: a Republican.
Let us assume that Obama does get into the White House but control of the House, and/or Senate is only very narrowly Democratic. It has to be remembered that while Bush is personally very unpopular these days, many Republican Senators and Congressmen aren't. Neocons and the Bible Belters can't abide the liberalism of Obama, and with the country not in the best economic situation, conservatives in Congress will take an awful lot of convincing to embark on radical, vague, changes.
And he has no power base. He hasn't been a Senator long enough to do much of anything, let alone create a cadre of supporters who can call in favors and swing votes. What the public sees on the Senate and House floor is the end product of many meetings in corridors and offices, clubs and other venues. Oprah Winfrey, in this regard, probably has more real clout than Obama does.
And now for the unmentionable "color" issue: should Obama get to the White House, and turn out to be a President like Jimmy Carter was, a nice man way over his depth, the advancement of blacks in the US will be harmed for another generation. I can only wish that Obama had chosen to wait another 8 years before running, when he'd been more seasoned and tested in the ways of power. As it is, I think he's going to be roasted.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
One of the commenters, on Homebirth Debate, has written:
The question we are left with is the wisdom of assigning
primary care of normal birth (admittedly a time-consuming,
physiologically-based management skill) to a surgical
working against ourselves by not being more
realistic about these issues? Could
it be that we are barking up the wrong
tree by confusing the topic of midwives
and planned home birth with the
general problem of a maternity care system that
in general needs to be
carried to absurd lengths. In spite of medical advances, quite a few women
jealously maintain they have a right to endanger themselves and their babies in
the name of personal freedom. Inadequately educated persons labelling
themselves as obstetric professionals jealously guard their right to be
allowed to endanger others in the practice of their entirely unregulated
"profession". As I write this, those Americans who think the Constitution
gives them the right to own guns are claiming that the students gunned down in
various campus shootings only died because they didn't have guns to protect
themselves against their assailants, rather than trying to remove guns from easy
access by the assailants.
We wouldn't allow doctors to practice medicine without being licensed, by a responsible authority, to do so, because lives are in the balance. Why do we allow "midwives" to do so? The first step to making reforms in our maternity care system is to make the practitioners of midwifery uniformly worthy of the respect of the medical community, as a unique branch of it. This would require, however, legislation on a Federal level, both of educational requirements, of the curricula of schools of midwifery, and of standards of practice. It would be necessary to create a governmental department responsible for the training, certification, and oversight of practicing midwives. Midwives would have to be, just as nurses and doctors are, graduates of accredited institutions meeting certain standards, be legally obligated to keep records, hold malpractice insurance, and do continuing education in order to maintain their licensure.
It ain't gonna happen. That would restrict "freedom". At present the demand for midwives is so small, and by such a fringe group that they don't exert any real pressure. Despite all their propaganda, DEMs account for less than one-half of one percent of births in the US.
The US is a very big and diverse country. European countries, on the other hand, are much smaller, more urbanized and centralized, and don't fear central government the way Americans do. European countries can, and do, regulate midwifery much more than will ever be feasible in the US. Also, the European homebirth model would be resisted vigorously in the US. Not all women are eligible for home birth in Europe (indeed, the majority deliver in hospital even in those countries held as models by homebirth advocates). One of the "rights" demanded by the homebirth lobby is that just about anyone who chooses a home birth must be allowed to have one, as a matter of personal choice, no matter how irresponsible that choice is. There is currently one DEM blogger who supports homebirth in a number of instances which are, by any criterion, not low risk (she even claims to have delivered a woman whose baby was in a position which is impossible to deliver vaginally). There is another DEM whose opinions have appeared on the internet which are completely refuted by all reputable statistics. Some women will be convinced by these women because they want to be .
"Empowered" is another term often bandied about. My guess is that it means that one is attempting to control an essentially uncontrollable process. The very unpredictability of birth is frightening. But whereas, if we were indicted on a capital charge, or if we needed to take an airplane to another city, we'd not hesitate to retain the very best criminal lawyer or put our lives in the hand of an experienced pilot, women who need this feeling of control over birth do the exact opposite. They choose not to trust medical professionals but deliberately want an amateur, who can't or won't contradict them, to be their birth attendants. Fear of hospitals is combined with fear of doctors, who are accused of being virtual sadists, bent on forcibly restraining women and subjecting them to gratuituous, painful procedures deliberately to wreck the "birth experience" (another phrase in the lexicon of those who want to reject modern science).
Oh, I could go on and on. Dr. Tuteur has written extensively about all of this. It is, to my mind, very odd.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Saturday, February 02, 2008
There was the Black Muslim Birth, where several Afro-American (as they were called then) men, dressed in business suits, arrived with a very pregnant woman in the "uniform" of floor length skirt, long sleeved tunic top, and head scarf, all in the same pastel color. (This was back in the days of Elijah Muhammad, when the Black Muslims had not yet become standard Sunni Moslems and whose main tenet was hatred of the whites). One of the men informed the (white) OB resident that "no damn white man was going to examine his wife", let alone deliver her. But as she was obviously in labor, we could hardly send her away. I was not yet a CNM, but I'd done quite a few deliveries when the residents were otherwise occupied, and it was agreed I'd take care of this woman unless something began to go wrong.
After all the normal admission preliminaries, the husband informed me that it was essential, when I cut the cord, that the stump attached to the baby be anointed immediately with grain and oil and certain prayers said. Fine by me, I said. I was hardly going to argue with a very large and rather aggressive black man. He seemed satisfied, and unrolled his prayer rug, and began his version of the standard Moslem prayers, even though I could have told him that he had the Arabic all wrong and he was bowing with his backside facing Mecca. Couldn't see much point in it, frankly. I was a devil to him.
The delivery was uneventful. As I tied and cut the cord, with Daddy at his wife's head, I used the drapes on the mother's stomach to hide the baby's end, which I'd left quite long, and held up the placental end. "Here", I said, "do your thing" and with much "Allahu Akbar"-ing and other gibberish he anointed the placental end of the umbilical cord with his grain and oil and I saved the baby from septicemia.
When I was at the very beginning of my career as a delivery room nurse, we had a patient who, every two minutes, would let out the most bloodcurdling screams: "Ay, dios mio!! Ay, Santa Maria!!! Ay-ay-ay!!!" Every time this happened, I'd jerk, and start to get up to go to her, but my comrades in the nursing station would tell me to sit down, that she was nowhere near delivery. "But listen to her!" I'd exclaim, and they would smile and shrug. Then we heard "Ay, dios mio! Ay, Santa-----" followed by silence, and everyone stampeded toward the patient. You can't scream and push at the same time.