Category Archives: politics

Increasing Breastfeeding rates will reduce government health costs

How does your state rate on the CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card?

http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2011BreastfeedingReportCard.pdf

Chances are, not well.  Most states aren’t doing a great job at this.

It’s a puzzle as to why, since so many states are having trouble financing Medicaid and WIC programs, and many also have state-sponsored child and/or family health insurance programs.

Breastfeeding is so important to reduce costs for families and for our state governments!  Of course formula provides adequate nutrition, and many babies do just fine on it.  But it’s certainly not ideal, and it definitely costs more money.

So why is breastfeeding important?  Well, here are a number of articles you may peruse for more information (all from very reputable sources):

Why Breastfeeding is Important (US Office of Health & Human Services)

The Economics of Breastfeeding: A Cost/Benefit Analysis (Ph.D. in Parenting blog)

Affordable Health Care beings with Breastfeeding (USLCA)

More Breastfeeding could save U.S. billions (Reuters, citing a study in Pediatrics)

How can we get there?  The answers begin in the articles linked above.  But the big answers, in my opinion, are:

  • Incentivize hospitals to become “Baby-Friendly
  • Get more certified Lactation Consultants into practice, both privately and employed by hospitals/pediatric medical practices/WIC organizations
  • Require medical pediatric training programs (for pediatricians, obstetricians, midwives, and OB/pediatric nurses) to include a minimum amount of course hours on infant nutrition and breastfeeding
  • Restrict marketing by formula companies and force them to be more WHO-compliant, and make WIC organizations only do business with companies in WHO compliance for the marketing of breast-milk substitutes
Unfortunately, breastfeeding is only a ‘money maker’ for those who it saves money: families, health insurance companies, and governments.  I’ve seen some positive changes in health insurance circles (with my last baby, I received a whole book on infant care and nutrition from my insurance company that had very thorough and good information on breastfeeding, that emphasized its benefits).  But as a people (and government, remember, is supposed to be of, by, and for the people) we need to drive the changes we need to see that are best for us as a society. 

Discrimination is so gay

Folks that are in the position to do so are trying to end the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and allow openly gay men and women to serve in the military.

Politicians against the policy revocation have spouted various and sundry reasons for keeping it, and most seem to amount to “we don’t want our boys to feel threatened or uncomfortable.”

I wonder if they’ve seen the statistics around women in the military.  From this article:

“According to several studies of the US military funded by the Department of Veteran Affairs, 30% of military women are raped while serving, 71% are sexually assaulted, and 90% are sexually harassed.

The Department of Defense acknowledges the problem, estimating in its 2009 annual report on sexual assault (issued last month) that some 90% of military sexual assaults are never reported.”

But yeah, we wouldn’t want our straight male soldiers to feel a little oogy.  Maybe these naysayers should think about using their political capital to solve some of the problems for female soldiers, and not worry so much about able-bodied men and women (who happen to be gay) who want to serve and fight for their country.

On the confirmation hearings

Two quotes have come out of the hearings that I really appreciate:

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “If I had been elected as a senator from South Carolina [in 1955], I would be amazed if I would have had the courage [to support the Brown v. Board of Education ruling].”

I think this is an amazing thing to say.  All at once he shows self-realization of his own personal and political limitations, and the great foresight and courage of the Supreme Court to make the ruling, let alone to just stand by it.  I give him serious props for being so forthright.

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Sonia Sotomayor (when repeatedly questioned about her personal stances on hot-button issues like gun rights and same-sex marriage):  “Would you want a judge or nominee who came in here and said, ‘I agree with you, this is unconstitutional,’ before I had a case before me?  I don’t think that’s a justice I can be.”

You go, Sonia.  You go with your awesome, wise Latina self.  I totally heart you.

Hope is a very good thing

What a beautiful day.

I’ve been a little excited about the inauguration today, but it just hadn’t seemed real.

When  I woke up today, it seemed more real… though I did check the news to make sure nothing had happened overnight to get in the way of the historic events to come.

Lane had dance class this morning.  There are no windows into the dance studio, but they have a closed-circuit TV so that all the moms can watch the dance lesson.  Today, we asked if we could watch CNN instead, even though all they showed the whole time was people getting into cars to drive to the Capitol.  The other moms and I talked about the historical significance of the day, and our fears for Obama’s safety.

I had set up the DVR to record the inauguration, so I wasn’t in a rush to get home to watch.  So, the kids and I went to Costco for various sundry things.  We bought, and then ate lunch, and then went to get gas.  At that point, Obama’s speech had started, and while I pumped gas I left the window of the car open so I could listen.  The station attendant heard and wandered over to my car to listen.  He was older and black, and I took my sweet time to give him another minute to listen, since he seemed very interested.  Once I finally could dawdle no longer, he moved away from my car and just said, “It’s amazing.  I have such hope.”  I smiled and said, “Me, too.”

Obama wrapped up his speech, and the crowd erupted, as expected.  The announcer on NPR came on, and said something to the effect of, “That was Barack Obama, our 44th president of the United States of America” and I lost it.  Just about three minutes of full-on water works and trying to stay on the road.  It became so real, and I was just overcome with joy.

Then Elizabeth Alexander took the lectern to read what I’m sure was a very lovely poem, but I couldn’t get past her delivery, like a third grader who can’t find the correct cadence reading a poem in front of her classroom.

And, Reverend Joseph Lowery.  Could he possibly have stolen the show more?  He was awesome.

And I do…  I have hope.  It’s not because Bush 43 is finally back on his way to Texas for good, and because the Democrats are in power.  Sure, that ain’t all bad.  But it is because, as Obama mentioned in his speech, that 60 years ago a black man could not even be served a meal at a restaurant in D.C., and today, one has become the leader of all of us.  It’s possible, it has happened.  It’s happened.  Anything is possible.  The future is ours.

Casting call

I’m giddy with anticipation.

All the coverage around who Barack Obama may or may not pick for the dozens of positions he needs to fill just has me fidgety.  I tend to be a bit of a political watcher, and I find all this stuff pretty interesting anyway.  It’s been eight years since all this happened with Bush 43, and it was pretty interesting to watch then.  Now, that I’m pretty psyched that ‘my guy’ won, and that he’d already picked the guy I REALLY liked for VP, I’m just super interested to see who he taps for his key positions.  It’s not so much because I’m a political junkie, because I wouldn’t label my level of interest “junkie” level.  I think it’s more because Obama/Biden, and the Secretaries, and the Attorney General, and other key folks will take frequent turns in the spotlight on CNN.com and I’m just interested to see who it will be I’ll be reading about for the next four-to-eight years.  Sort of like a casting call for an unprecedented political TV drama… only the plot lines affect my life on a daily basis.

I really have no point in writing this.  Just that I’m keenly watching it, and it’s fun.

OK, I need to stop babbling.  The problem is, I accidentally left the keys in the ignition of my minivan earlier, in the battery-on position…. yeah, duh, I know.  Then I went to pick Lane up from preschool and, ta da!  Car wouldn’t start.  In-laws weren’t home, friends next door weren’t home, and didn’t have the numbers in my cell phone of anyone else I felt comfortable calling on short notice to beg for help.  So I resorted to the double jogging stroller.  We live about a mile away from Lane’s preschool and I’ve made the trip bipedally before, many time actually.  It’s the only exercise I have gotten lately.  But I didn’t expect to do it today, when it is very cold and windy, and I didn’t expect to have to do it as fast as I had to do it.  But I bundled Jake up to the gills in his snowsuit and a blanket, and off we went.  And I did the 1.2 miles it takes to get from door to door in about 12 minutes, which is by far a personal record for the trek… and pushing 30 pounds in the jogging stroller and in the bitter cold besides.  And for kicks, I jogged some of it on the way home, too.  The funny thing was, when I tried to start the van when we got home, to show Lane how it was broken, the damned thing started right up.  So, it’s running in the driveway, and I’m still feeling short of breath.  Good times.

What kind of dog should the Obamas get?

Barack Obama famously promised a puppy to his daughters for when they move into the White House. For a kid, perhaps there is no greater thrill than getting a puppy! I am, admittedly, envious of them. 🙂

What kind of dog should they get?

First off, I rule out a small dog. Barack and Michelle are both people of tall stature, and I think a small dog would look more like a rodent next to them. Not only that, but the toy breeds just aren’t very presidential.

There are lots of sporting breeds, hounds and such, but to me these don’t fit with the Obamas. So beagles and bloodhounds and that sort are out.

I also don’t see them taking on an exotic breed, such as a Chow or Shar-Pei.

They are an active family, so a more active breed of dog would certainly be a good fit. Labradors and Golden Retrievers have a high activity level, but they can be pretty wacky when they are younger. I’d hate to think of the destruction an exuberant Lab could rain down upon the China Room.

So maybe one of the gentle giants… a Newfoundland, or St. Bernard, or a Bernese Mountain Dog, or a Great Dane. Hmm. I think I’m really digging them with a Great Dane. And these breeds are all so great with kids.

Of course, there are rescue opportunities, so maybe they’ll go in that direction. A quick look at the Petfinder web site for the Chicago area found these potential rescue pups for them:

http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=12317543

http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=12103131

http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=12184316

And sorry, but how funny would it be if they adopted a puppy named McCain or Palin? LOL!

http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=12218751

Hell has already frozen over, and they called it “Alaska”

Needless to say, I’m quite happy with the election results. Now comes the anxiety that this man will either be assassinated or will turn out to be a completely crap president. I hope neither happen, but I’m having a hard time embracing the unadulterated, exuberant joy that has gripped much of the country. But, granted, I’m much happier than if that other one had won.

All of the gay marriage propositions really have me down. In terms of civil rights for homosexuals, I think history is going to look back at this era of American history with scorn and shame. On the other side of the coin, I’m very pleased with many of the other state propositions. All the abortion props were shot down — even in South Dakota! Michigan got on board with medical marijuana, and Washington got on board with assisted suicide. All very interesting results.

And then there’s Alaska. Ted Stevens, very recently convicted of seven felonies and at 84 years old is simply pretty ancient anyway to be taking on a six-year term, is winning over his challenger, Mark Begich. Nobody’s really called it for Stevens yet, but why in hell is it this close? Are Alaskans so adamant about not voting for a Democratic candidate that they’ll vote for a felonious old codger who thinks the internet is a series of tubes? Wow… just, wow.