Friday, October 31, 2008

What I just learned on Health Care

1. The US currently spend $2 trillion/year on health care, much more than any other country in the world. There's plenty of money to make all sorts of changes in this area.

2. On top of that, government is heavily subsiding our health care system, big government already has its hands all over our system.

3. John McCain's plan is a big improvement over our current system. Barack Obama's plan is a much, much bigger improvement over our current system. Basically, our current system sucks.

4. If we could just get over our hang ups with big government, we would open ourselves up to major improvements in health care. You simply cannot have a fair, equitable and just system without government involvement. Our current system would be much, much worse if government wasn't involved. Get over it people.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My picks for all of the people on the ballot.

Arizona Republic Recomendations

I'm probably going to skip the judges until I feel I can intelligently for them. I spent some time on google and I came up with this, not comfortable enough yet to turn a judge away...:

By the way, its practically impossible given our current system to turn a judge away (apparently), not one in 30 years has been voted out. Yep, I'm probably going to skip them.

Also, regarding the legislature. Arizona has so many entrenched Republican districts, all I want is a little balance in the leg, and the democratic choices are pretty good.

By the way, balance is important, very important. More on this later, but if we never have our views challenged. If we only associate with people we agree with. If we only enjoy preaching to the choir, then our views tend to over-simplify, and get harsher more extreme and more wrong.

Its true for a court system, its true with our political leaders. The one thing I'm worried about November 4 is a Democratic presidency and a super majority Democratic Congress. I hope they'll use their new found power well, but I don't trust them to have it for long.

Harry Mitchell, you are on notice. I'm itching to vote Republican in 2010.

The People

Ballot ItemMy SelectionBrief Explanation
PresidentBarack ObamaObama, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
U. S. Representative in Congress District 5Harry MitchellA highly effective pragmatist and moderate that is badly needed in our government right now.
State Senator District 17Meg Burton-CahillEffective, and just doing my little part to keep the Arizona state legislature balanced.
State Representatives District 17David Schapira and Ed AbleserEffective, and just doing my little part to keep the Arizona state legislature balanced.
Coporation CommisionI have no ideaPlease help
County Board of Supervisors District 1Fulton BrockEd Hermes is 24, a little young, and Fulton Brock has done nothing to deserve to be voted out.
County AssessorKeith RussellOnly running against a libertarian, and I'm mad at that party right now.
County AttorneyTim NelsonAndrew Thomas is way too punitive, and his views on immigration are draconian.
County RecorderHelen PurcellVery effective, or so they say.
County School SuperintendentDon CoveyI refuse to vote libertarian.
SheriffDan SabanOther than Obama over McCain, the biggest no brainer in this election.
County TreasurerCharles HoskinsRunning unopposed.
Maricopa County Special Health Care District 1Bill BrunoThe AZ Republic has convinced me.
Tempe Union High School Governing BoardI have no ideaPlease help.
Tempe Elementary School BoardI have no ideaPlease help.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Cultural War Stuff

Just read the following from this blog post regarding the cultural war. Basically, my favorite blogger gave his top ten reasons for a conservative to vote for Barack Obamam, and Culture 11 website which is a really cool place for young conservatives who are trying to reshape what it means to be a conservative in modern times, provides some analysis.

One of the big reasons I think Obama is such an incredible candidate is that he seems the perfect vehicle to bridge the cultural civil war that is tearing our country apart.

Here's a cold splash of reality:

"Wishful thinking, I’m afraid. Figures on the right and the left both need to come to terms, here, and Obama can’t do it alone. He helps in some ways, but hurts in others; and if he’s president, you’ve got to be sure he’ll be under intense pressure on the left to do rotten culture-warlike things — even if Obama develops no interest at all in doing them himself, which runs contrary to at least some of his public statements, especially as concerns abortion. The main trouble is that the culture war is real — and cultural conservatism is good — but fighting it out at the level of national politics is debilitating because there’s no national agreement durable enough to provide laws on the cultural hotbutton issues with the legitimacy they need. The obvious answer here is to devolve the decision point down to the states. But this is as dissatisfying to liberal ideologues as it is to some conservative ideologues. That’s a problem Obama might be able to help with in some respects. But as the Dems’ president, he’s likely to hurt in others. Unless he wants to stand up to the left and advocate for federalism on culture issues! That seems unlikely, though I’d cheer loudly if it happened. Obama does seem willing to go there on capital punishment. And he is right that the boomer war is tiresome. It’s certainly not clear to me that McCain would amp up the culture war in office. He’s not a boomer either. That leaves Palin, who we meet in the next point."

I added the bold for emphasis on the key point, and it's exactly right. The cultural war is real. Homosexual marriage, especially right now, is a major emotional issue and there is simply no hope for a resolution, no hopes for a grand compromise.

Abortion has basically played itself out generally, but many, many people still care deeply about this issue as well.

But regarding homosexual marriage, how can you compromise?

One side views it as a sin and a danger to traditional families. The other side views it as a civil rights issue and that all churches and individuals who want to ban homosexuals from marriage are hate-mongers, practicing discrimination.

The problem is that its impossible to come to a moderate or nuanced position over issues like these because the people on both sides of the cultural war largely do not associate with people on the other side. When that happens, when you rarely if ever associate with people who disagree with you, your positions tend to get more entrenched, more extreme.

The biggest problem with American politics is the great segregation you have amongst the partisan players. The cultural conservatives simply live in different cities and in different parts of the cities from the cultural liberals. They aren't friends, they don't attend the same churches, or social gathering, or clubs.

Personally, my goal is moderation in all things, I'm far from being there, but I recognize the valid arguments on both sides, on the homosexual issue and on abortion. But really, the only way to really become a sophisticated moderate is to have a lot of experience engaging with people who disagree with you, something that seems more and more difficult to do.

The problem is that if you are vocal about people who refuse to see these issues in a nuanced way, even when you try to, you are automatically parked in the extreme opposing camp from the person you happen to be talking to.

In just over a week, I've defended Obama's position on homosexual marriage to a cultural conservative and I know she views me as a raging liberal with one foot out of the Mormon church.

I've also, just today, had a rather heated argument with a cultural liberal, and I know she views me as a hateful person belonging to a hateful church who refuses to look at his own faith with an introspective eye.

See what I mean? Are not we all more complicated than that? Are not these issues more complicated than that?

I agree that some issues are not, obviously. Some issues, like racism in the 1960's require strong people taking strong stands. Or terrorism, or war, or poverty. These are issues where its pretty easy to come to a national consensus, all that's left is to work out the details on how to deal with them.

But let me give you a hint. If there is an issue where large numbers of really good, thoughtful, caring, smart people have strong contradictory positions, chances are almost 100% that there's more than one way to look at the issue.

Maybe we could all learn a little bit more from each other.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Generation We

Its this kind of message that makes me dizzy and unrationally in love with Barack Obama. Obama really is the first national politician to really hit this nerve. It's exactly the kind of think I am personally in love with. I'm not sure how real it is, and I am sure there are some problems with it, but its worth seeing how a movement like this turns out.

This, my friends, is not a movement of socialism. It is "Yes We Can", it is government by the people, for the people. Really, what Obama is about is not national mandates, but more national empowerment and mobilization. With a little help from the government, and a lot of encouragement from the presidential pulpit, what Obama will try to do is to help unify and mobilize all of us to change our country and the world.

It's also about a quest to move the national conversation away from divisive issues that have both stagnated and divided our nation, like abortion, onto real problems where national unity is possible.

It's why the baby boomer politicians yawn when Obama refers to his legislation to help secure nuclear missiles. "That's no brainer legislation", they say. But that's the point. Let's tackle real problems with real solutions. These might be "no brainer" kind of issues, but it will take all of us to solve it.

Am I too old to be part of Generation We?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Propositions: How I will vote

First here are the Arizona Republic Recommendations.

I'm annoyed by two in particular. John McCain's (obviously). It completely ignored how badly McCain has mismanaged the presidential campaign, focused only on the good Senator years (from about 2000-2006), glossed over all of his flip-flops to gain favor of the base, not to mention ignoring the Palin fiasco, and didn't even defend the fact that John McCain is now 72 well passed his prime... I'm just saying.

Also, the arguments against 102 that I've heard here and in other places are very misleading. What's really annoying about what's happened in states like California and Massachusetts is that the courts have basically laid down the law in the regard.

I guess I can understand the civil rights argument to some extent, but gay marriage is much more than a civil rights issue. For a handful of judges to basic legislate this decision, is much more than presumptuous. There would not be this movement to amend state constitutions if judges would just stick with interpreting the law and not making it.

Also, the Arizona Republic incorrectly compares 102 with the proposition of two years ago that was rejected. That proposition was much more restrictive prohibiting legal rights not just for gay couple but for any unmarried couples. It was correctly turned down.

This one simply states that the legal definition of marriage should be between a man and a woman, but gives all kinds of room to allow for legal civil unions for gay couples. Quite simply a supporter for Obama (like myself) can easily vote yes for 102 without a hint of contradiction.

Anyway, here are my choices for the propositions in full:

The Propositions

PropositionMy VoteBrief Explanation
100: Prohibition of Transfer Tax on PropertyNoI strongly disagree with arbitrary prohibition of taxes effectively tying the hands of legislature.
101: Freedom of Choice Health Care InitiativeNoThere is no need for this proposition and could tie the hands of our government from solving a more pressing problem - the huge numbers of the uninsured.
102: Marriage AmendmentYesFor me, this is actually a freedom of worship amendment. A traditional definition of marriage has strong religious implications. To change the legal definition of marriage runs directly counter to a great majority of long established religious tradition and deeply held religious faith.
105: Majority Rule InitiativeNoWill effectively dismantle the initiative process. Maybe not such a bad thing, just not sure I'm ready for that.
200: Pay Day Loan InitiativeNoPayDay loan reform written by the PayDay loan industry, can we say: "Conflict of Interest"?
201: Homeowners Bill of RightsYesI'm torn on this proposition slightly. I wish it was written differently, a little softer. But over the past 10 years Phoenix has grown irresponsibly, building soulless sprawl, and shoddy construction. I know most of that is halted now with the housing bubble bursting, but I'm all for a bit of additional barriers to mindless cheap housing construction, as well as a little protection against home buyers from shoddy construction.
202: Immigration InitiativeYesThis proposition actually weakens the current law in effect from a previous election year suite of propositions. I voted no on all of those, I'm voting yes here. Maybe someday I can write to the fullest extent possible my feelings on immigration. For now, let me say, it makes me sick (in fullest extent possible) how poorly we treat people who really all they want to do is work.
300: Pay Raises for LegislatureYesI only wish it was more so that more people could feel free to run and support a household on the salary.
School Bonds Questions 1 - 3Yes, Yes, YesOur schools need the money
School District UnificationNoNobody seems to want this, no money has been allocated to make sure it would work.
City of Tempe Bonds, Questions 1 - 4Yes, Yes, Yes, YesCall me a free spending liberal, but I want to see my city develop and maintain its water and sewage (question 1), improve its streets and drainage (question 2), improve public safety (question 3), and improve its parks and community services (question 4).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Something That Really Bugs Me

On occasion I get in a little e-mail debate with a ultra-right conservative member of my church, and it really bugs me. Too often, they use scripture or quotes from leaders of our church, or the church's now well publicized support for the marriage amendments on the ballots in California, Arizona, and Florida as a reason to vote Republican down the ticket.

Indeed, if you look at the electoral college map, you see Utah as one of the darkest red states out there, the most consistently conservative state in the union. This bugs me because it seems to imply at least culturally, to be Mormon you have to be Republican. Or they will try to equate liberalism with sin and conservatism with righteousness. This bugs me in so many emotional ways that I can't fully explain, but I absolutely know this is not how our church leaders want it.

There is a reason why, except in very rare cases, the church stays politically neutral. Actually, I believe there's absolutely really good reasons church neutrality is crucial. And I feel many evangelical churches hurt themselves really profoundly when they take sides. Why? Because the Republican party is ultimately secular, man-made, and dizzyingly flawed, ideologically and otherwise.

You do not want to build your foundation on that, because as the scriptures say, you're building your foundation on a house of sand, be prepared to watch it get washed away. And that's exactly what we're seeing right now. The Republican party has washed themselves out of this government.

Unless something fishy happens, there is no way McCain wins. And on top of that, they should lose more seats in Congress. The reason is that they have literally backed themselves into a corner ideologically. The only sensible debates right now are between different factions of the Democratic party and a quickly shrinking population of sensible conservatives.

Consider this quote from a conservative commentator, in this blog post regarding all of the accusations on Obama's tax plan as socialism:

"Another thing on this subject - is opposition to wealth-spreading in principle really now a litmus test for being a conservative? I thought that being on the right meant that you wanted a welfare state that's small in size and limited in scope - that's what I signed up for, at least - and the most just and reasonable way to shrink and/or restrain the American welfare state that I can see is to make it more redistributive, rather than less so. To quote William Voegeli quoting Paul Pierson in a fine essay on the dilemmas of small government conservatism: "If conservatives could design their ideal welfare state, it would consist of nothing but means-tested programs." In other words, a conservative welfare state would eliminate our current network of universal entitlement programs, and replace them with cheaper, means-tested programs that, well, spread the wealth - that spend your tax dollars to provide temporary assistance to the unemployed, underwrite health care costs for the aged and very poor, set an income floor underneath American seniors, and so forth, rather than taking money from the middle class with one hand and giving it back to them with the other. "

It's fashionable among the far right to call everything Obama and the Democrats propose as socialist.

What exactly does the Republican party propose in opposition to it? They keep reciting the mantra: cut taxes, small governments, strong military.

But what's behind that? Sure, cut taxes, but to what rates? What governmental programs can we realistically cut? What programs should we cut?

Do we really want a country without a safety net at all? Without programs for the elderly (those who can't work)? For the poor? For the unemployed or under-employed?

Do we really want to live in a society where the hungry aren't fed? Where the affordable housing is not available? Where health care is not available to everyone?

Please, I want healthy debate between the two parties on how best to achieve objectives where more people have more? Not mindless accusations and misguided name calling.

And please, please vote yes for 102 in Arizona or 8 in California. But do not, I repeat, do not use that as a reason to vote for McCain/Palin or any other Republican. Vote for the best person and the best ideas.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Giving Birth

Fair warning, what follows is a rambling essay that spans across at least four different topics and has not yet been fully proof read or edited. Read at your own risk.

So I have taken a break from political blogging. I started this blog to write essays (not blogs), but I felt so strongly about the presidential election this year, I wanted to do my little part to help Barack Obama win :-), so I transformed this space into a much more traditional, rapid-fire post format in order to sway maybe one or two votes Obama's way. Not sure I succeeded, but I felt better in the process.

Granted, the election is far from over, but a combination of the complete tanking of the American banking system (blamed mainly on the Republican party), McCain's (to me surprising) completely dysfunctional presidential campaign, and Obama's practically flawless campaign have combined to turn this presidential campaign into a blow-out, with or without me involved. And I'm giddy.

We are about to watch a transformation of both political parties. Obama appears to be ready to take the baton from the Clinton's and to continue the transformation of the Democratic party into something relevant for this century, not a socialist party. But one where the government plays an active and important role in attempting to assuage some of the excesses of the free market.

The Republican party is completely dysfunctional right now (like McCain's campaign), and losing the white house in combination with losing even more seats in Congress should seal the deal on Gingrich/Bush/Cheney brand of Republicanism. A new/non-boomer generation will have a chance to re-brand. It may take a while, but it will be interesting to watch.

So, with that being said, I have to explain why I haven't blogged for about two weeks.

That is because my wife had our third baby just a week ago, a baby girl. The baby has been in the NYICU for the past week or so because of some issues that came up shortly after birth. What issues were they? Nobody knows for sure. For ten long days, the hospital staff treated it like it was an infection, keeping her in the NYICU to finish an anti-biotic, although no bacteria was found in any of their tests. But now she's home, and we're happy and glad that whole hospital ordeal is behind us.

But giving birth is an interesting experience for me personally. Everything is political I've heard it said, and of course health care is no different. So, here is my story on the political ramifications of our baby girl's birth.

But before I go into that, I must give you a little Turley family birthing background. While my wife was pregnant with our first baby, we casually came across an article in a random parenting magazine describing the Bradley Method of childbirth. Well, for a variety of reasons both my wife and I were interested, and we decided to look further into it.

Interesting enough, we found (unknown to us) someone we knew was on an internet list of Bradley instructors in the Tempe area, and that someone went to our church. After contacting her, we discovered she was not currently teaching, but she knew someone who was, and that someone also went to our same church. From her, we started Bradley.

Well, I won't go into the details of Bradley, but let me put it this way, Bradley is to hospital childbirth what homeschooling is to public schooling. To me, having a Bradley style home birth, followed by a Dr. Spears inspired attachment parenting in the early years, finalized by homeschooling them all the way through childhood just seems like the most natural and logical way to both bring a child into this world and prepare them to face the world. And I'm always slightly surprised when the most committed home birthers/breast feeders, stop when their child turns five... :-) But I know that's a rather simplistic (and wrong) view of the world. But if you are interested, read here for the full story about we we home school.

You'll find that homeschooling is really sort of a rebellion and for me the Bradley method is a rebellion of sorts as well. Like homeschooling, it takes a major commitment from both the mother and the coach (usually the husband) to learn about birthing, to practice and prepare together for labor and to do everything from a proper diet to exercise to ensure that the actual birth will go as smooth and complication free as possible.

The main disadvantage to Bradley, though, is that it can make some people (people like me), a little too extreme about birthing. I went into the births of our first two babies very suspicious of our medical system. For good reason I might add. We have far too many Cesarean sections, major surgery, for no medically sound reasons. So, the good thing about Bradley, is that it keys you in on the many unnecessary aspects of hospital births.

You see, hospital births is this mixture "lowest common denominator" and "expect and prepare for the worse" approach to birthing. Neither of these views of birthing, in my view, are entirely appropriate, but I understand where they come from.

But what's interesting is that most people go into the birthing without really knowing what to expect, and just allow the hospital staff to do whatever they want. But there are risks to almost everything. Some examples:

1) Vitamin K shot. This article describes the pros and cons of the shot and suggests alternative. The con? Potential link between the shot and childhood leukemia.

2) Prophylactic eye ointment. This article describes the reasons for this ointment. This one is obvious and should only be done with babies born to a mother with gonorrhea or chlamydia. Because its impossible to get all mothers who have it to admit to it, the doctors give it to all babies...

3) Hepatitus B vaccinations in the hospital. Again, another unnecessary shot given to all babies just in case. An article here.

Ok, with that as an introduction, let me describe what happened with the birth of our third child. Despite our Bradley instruction, we have chosen not to home birth. For all three births, we have decided to hedge our bets by choosing a midwife to deliver our children as naturally as possible but to do so at the hospital.

In some ways, this choice was forced on us because for both of our previous births, my wife was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy where the mother is at risk of having a still born baby. The only known treatment is inducement before 37 weeks. For that reason, our first was born at 37 weeks, our second at 36 weeks.

This time, my wife only experienced the symptoms (itchiness) really late in the pregnancy, and her blood tests were consistently normal, so no inducement was scheduled. Nonetheless, we worried because she did start to feel the itchiness late, but even late blood tests came back normal. My wife did go in the day of her due date with the thought of doing an inducement. Our midwife basically said that if we wanted to induce, just show up at the hospital and let it be known, and by golly an induction will be done. But her body did not cooperate (everything closed up, the baby was pretty high up in the womb), so we decided to wait a bit longer with baited breath.

Well, four days after the due date, early Saturday morning, contractions came. We have never spontaneously waited for labor before so we had trouble recognizing. My wife diagnosed gas, so I left for the drug store at 4am to buy gas medicine. She took the medicine, the pains persisted. So, we assumed it was really labor, and at 5am, we were driving to the hospital, half suspecting we may have to return home. (We suspected gas because the pains would come anytime my wife would get up or move in any way, they were not regular at all - weird).

Well, it wasn't gas, it was labor and literally 4 hours later, we had our third baby, looking happy and healthy and big, nursing like a champ. And it was a text book Bradley labor. Me as her coach, wife resting in a Bradley style sideline position during most of the serious labor, then getting on a birthing ball when the contractions got harder. Then a bit of pushing, a little tangling with the cord, getting hung up around the baby's head, and out came the baby. No drugs, no vacuum extractors, no nothing.

But having a birth in the hospital gets tricky because the midwife goes away, and a whole system of nurses and doctors and procedures and hospital staff take over.

Meanwhile, we brace ourselves for a whole spate of rejections. No we don't want the eye ointment, no we don't want the PKU (we get that later), no we don't want the Hepatitus shot, for gosh sakes no bottles please. No we don't want to Vitamin K shot (why, I'm not sure I just know I need to reject everything)... Well, we had the Vitamin K shot because we were unprepared and couldn't remember if this was a necessary shot or not. And we were convinced it was necessary.

So anyway, two hours later, right after we were transferred to our new room for recovery, while my wife attempted to nurse, the baby coughed and sputtered and turned blue. The nurse came in, laid the baby down on the bed, stimulated the baby's body. The baby cried and breathed, and returned to a normal color. The nurse left briefly, my wife picked the baby up, but again she coughed. We pressed the emergency button, the nurse rushed in, picked up the baby, and rushed out. I followed.

The baby was rushed into the nursery where another nurse tried to administer oxygen to the baby (or something some such, they wouldn't let me in). I was left waiting and worrying in the hallway. This was particularly excruciating because they kept telling me the baby was fine, but everyone just seemed to be progressing to a more and more panicked state...

After about 15 or 20 minutes, the nurses had an oxygen mask on the baby and were rushing her upstairs to the NYICU for more treatment. They allowed me to follow and tried in the rush to explain to me what was happening, that the baby was not getting oxygen throughout the body. The baby was discolored, especially on the extremities, and was not crying. All bad signs. They suspected either an infection or a heart problem, maybe a narrowed artery.

Well, a heart doctor was called in, they immediately hooked the baby up to what seemed like countless tubes. She was administered an IV, given an antibiotic, given dopamine (her blood pressure was low) and who knows what else. They wanted to stabilize the baby and were also preparing to give the baby and Echocardiogram (EKG) to analyze the heart.

Everyone seemed convinced it was a heart condition. And I was bracing for a surgery. Well, our baby's system soon subsided enough that a heart condition was ruled out (really good thing), and the default assumption was an infection, and that Saturday began ten days of an anti-biotic treatment.

During that process, we were drilled with questions like, did you have an ultrasound that would have detected a heart issue? Were the bag of waters broken prematurely? Anything happen that could explain an infection?

Most annoyingly, those first few days, we heard, with no exxageration at least 10 times, good thing you didn't home birth...

Well, what exactly did happen to cause this.

Here are the possibilities based on conversations my wife and I had with each other, our midwife, the nurses and doctors, and the pediatrician we have seen a day after our baby was released:

1) An infection? Possible. No bacteria was detected in any of the cultures they grew from the samples they took from the baby. Does this fact rule out an infection? I have no idea. I guess its possible for someone to have an infection without doctors being able to find bacteria? I guess.

The baby's platelet counts were dangerously low (11 when they should be well above 100). For this, she received a blood transfusion, and her levels have been hovering in the 90's since, and the day of her release she broke 100. But apparently, a low platelet count points to an infection.

Another reason to suspect an infection was that the baby was immediately placed on antibiotics and has basically fully recovered. Either this was a coincidence, or the antibiotics killed off whatever bacteria she had.

Well, I can live with this explanation, but I'm not sure I'm ready to declare that to be the cause of the problem. For one, how is an infection possible? I guess bacteria live all around us and are pretty small creatures. I suppose it doesn't take much for one of those little things to get to the baby...

On my wife's due date, she did explore the possibility of being induced. In that spirit, her membranes were stripped, and I believe there is a small chance of an infection in doing that.

2) Some weird affect of my wife's ICP was a possible explanation my wife and I brought up. Our midwife also brought this possibility up. The tail end of the pregnancy had his weird ICP tension hanging over it. The itchiness was there but not the blood results. Were we risking the baby's life by not inducing? Every day we waited was another day we worried whether we were making the right choice.

So, when the baby is born with complications, you have to suspect ICP, right? The NYICU doctors completely dismissed this idea out of hand, though. But you know what, there our countless stories of doctors not taking ICP seriously, and to our knowledge, nobody knows why ICP babies can be born stillborn. So, by my book this is still a possibility...

3) Ok, now we get to the possibility that makes the most sense to me right now. Nobody at the hospital thought of this, remarkably, maybe because the idea is complete bunk, I have no idea. But it makes a ton of sense to my untrained mind, so this is the possibility that I'm running with. When my wife visited the pediatrician and explained to him the events of the birth, the first thing he said was:

Pediatrician: "Good think you were at the hospital when this happened."

Wife (in her head): "Oh great, another home birth hater. Oh wait, maybe he means, good thing I wasn't released from the hospital then it happened".

Wife (outload): "What do you think happened?"

Pediatrician: "Sounds like because the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck on delivery, perhaps some of the blood meant for the baby went back into your body. In other words, perhaps the baby just did not have enough blood. This would explain the low platelet count, and the blueness, especially on the extremities".

Wife: "You know, that makes a lot of sense."

You know, that makes a lot of sense to me too. Why? Because there was some confusion about that cord before I cut it. Our midwife looked at it, and there was no blood in it, so she assumed it had stopped pulsating into the baby. Maybe it never got a chance.

4) Or maybe it could have been something else altogether.

The bottom line is nobody knows for sure.

What is for sure is we discovered how loving and caring of a community we live in. Every single doctor and nurse without exception was cooperative, concerned, and considerate. They allowed my wife, after a day or two, 24 hour a day access to the baby to breast feed. Most of the nurses were very supportive of it.

Also, we knew many of our friends and family members were praying for us and the baby. We felt it, I felt it. Just this feeling of support and love is unexplainable. We had so many offers for help that we had to turn people away. We had more people that wanted to help us than we actually needed, which is also an incredible feeling.

But back to Bradley and homebirthing and politics.

How would this have gone differently if we had home birthed. I have no idea. Perhaps, the rush to the NYICU was completely unnecessary. I'm assuming a competent midwife would have most if not all of the equipment to revive a baby, to provide oxygen. Maybe a mad rush to the emergency room would have been necessary. Perhaps the baby would have revived on her own without the intensive intervention she received at the hospital.

I have no idea.

But while I was being bombarded by all of these events, with all of these questions, the newspaper had an article about how in the United States ranks 29th in the world in infant mortality (deaths from live births within the first year of life.

Some people think this low ranking is a result of our highly interventionist approach to birthing. I'm not so sure. In my brief research, it seems the evidence is not conclusive regarding the relative safety between home births and hospital births.

And there seems to be other factors for our low rankings completely unrelated. We have a growing trend of premature births, why? Black communities have a much higher rate of infant mortality than other communities in the US? The US has a much larger disparity between the rich and the poor than in higher ranking countries like Japan.

Indeed, I read a quote that infant mortality rates is one of the best indicator of state failure, and access to health care is no where near universal.

The bottom line is that we have no idea. The best advise I can give is to take ownership of your health. To make informed decisions. To study the alternatives, and to try to make decisions that you feel most comfortable with.

Coincidentally, there is a proposition on the ballot, Proposition 101, that is related to these issues. Its a way to preempt this growing wave to provide universal access to health care, by preserving a person's right to choose the type of health care they receive.

I definitely have mixed issues with this (like I do with education). I love choice. I support a woman's right to home birth. I support our right to home school. By signing your child up to a school, by entering the hospital to give birth, you are submitted you are basically allowing another system, another bureaucracy to manage and to control how your children will be taught and raised, how your birthing experience will go.

You can impose your will to some degree, but in significant ways, your freedoms are compromised.

To turn over the funding of your health care system to a government agency, in some ways can exacerbates the problem. You can only see certain doctors "in network".

But health care is such a fundamental need, like food, like shelter. Everyone should, fundamentally and morally, have access to these things, I think trade-offs are in order.

I think the biggest problems with our health care system does not fundamentally manifest itself in the nuances of a home birth versus a hospital birth. Bottom line is that our baby is home, healthy and happy. We didn't go bankrupt over it.

The fundamental problem is that too many people do not have acess to the same prenatal care, infant care post birth.

Bottom line, because of economics, too many people have no choices at all. And no proposition on a ballot is going to change that.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

VP Debate

Sarah Palin owes Gwen Ifill a big basket of roses because she saved Palin's national career ambitions tonight.

No follow up questions, no calling her out for blatantly avoiding the question.

I know debates are about talking points, but Palin had like 5 to 10 talking points drilled into her the past couple of weeks, and she turned to them over and over and over and over again.

I have never seen anything like it actually.

When she wasn't doing that, she would return to the handful of topics she actually knows about: her family, Alaska, drilling for oil.

But the bar was low for Palin. She didn't give any jaw dropping stupidity tonight that she showed in the Couric interviews. But of course, she really wasn't given an opportunity to hang herself either. No rope, just softballs.

It was almost as if Fox news was doing the interview.

To be fair, Biden got the same softball treatment. But at least Biden took advantage of the time he was given to provide some substance.

Look, I like Palin. She has obvious talent and intelligence and loads of potential. She's obviously feisty, and given time to study and internalize national issues, I'm sure she would be a great spokes woman for the next generation of conservative ideas. But there's two problems, the next generation of conservative ideas don't exist, and Palin sure hasn't been internalizing anything beyond local Alaska politics.

Quite simply, it's just mind-bogglingly obvious that she's not ready for the big stage.

This is an indictment on McCain, not Palin. Palin was used by McCain as a gimmick. It was a despicable and selfish thing to do and it had (and still might) have the consequence of ruining Palin's national career.

But Palin (with a big assist from Iffil) got a pass tonight. McCain will probably lock her up as much as possible until November.

And I guess it is for the best. McCain/Palin loses, Palin goes away for a while, maybe resurfacing in about 8 years a new person, her own person.

By the way, it would be a national nightmare if McCain/Palin won this way. No way in my worse dreams could I imagine it, but it would really be mind boggling if McCain could run a presidential campaign purely on gimmicks and not a lick of substance and still win.

You would have to be a complete partisan hack or just not be paying close attention not to see this.

Unfortunately, most Americans are probably in one of these two categories, which is why this McCain is still hanging around.

Local Elections

I have not, by any stretch of the imagination, decided how my entire ballot is going to be filled out this year. I'm currently a registered Democrat (surprise, surprise), but I really consider myself an independent. I just feel that the current version of the two parties, the Democrats seem the more pragmatic party of the two. In fact, our current Congress has an ever shrinking supply of moderate conservatives...

But put a gun to my head, and force me to make my choices right now? Here's how I would go, but for many of these, I'm very much in need of more information before I can make my final decision. And I will get informed... at least as best as I can.

Really someday soon, I want to get into a position where I can track in real time the votes of my legislature. I hope to be much better informed in the near future.

Ok, here it goes.

The Propositions
Proposition 100: Protect Our Homes
This proposition prohibits a sales or a transfer tax on any real estate sale. Currently there are no taxes.

My vote: No. Want to keep tax flexibility with the government...

Proposition 101: Patient Choice Measure

This bill is a preemptive proposition ahead of possible health care legislation providing comprehensive government backed health care insurance. Something Barack Obama has pushed as a central piece to his campaign.

The guts of the proposition is to make sure patients can choose any kind of health care plan that they want.

My vote: No, its solving a problem that currently does not exist (similar to the one above).

Marriage Protection Ammendment

I already addressed this one here and here.

I do want to add that Google has come out against a similar bill in California. I understand both sides of the argument, but like I said, this is primarily a freedom of religion issue for me.

My vote: Yes

Proposition 105: Tax Relief or the End of Initiatives

This proposition will basically end propositions because it will raise the standard of passing a passing a proposition incredibly high (basically all registered voters who don't vote will be counted as a no vote).

My vote: No

Proposition 200: Payday Load Reform Act
This ballot will expand the law allowing pay day loans indefinitely, but will provide further regulation.

The interest rates on payday loans are crazy high, and this proposition is sponsored by PayDay loan companies. In my gut, I hate these sort of companies, but I recognize some people may really depend on them.

My vote: No

Proposition 201: Homeowners Bill of Rights
This one adds new regulation to home construction, longer warranties, new rights on fixing defects, etc.

I have not studies this near enough, but a gun has been placed on my head, so I must vote:

My vote: Yes

Proposition 202: Stop Illegal Hiring

This proposition is actually misleading. It actually relaxes the restrictions of earlier propositions making it easier for employers to higher illegal workers in two important ways:

1) Proposition 202 provides that a state, county or local official, in attempting to verify with the federal government if a person is authorized to work in the United States, is to rely solely upon the processes and procedures set forth in federal law. The federal law is weaker than what Arizona law currently requires.

2) Prohibits those who report illegal hiring from doing it anonymously.

I'm a big believer in immigration, and I believe our current immigration laws are a complete joke. Therefore, I support any proposition that loosens the restrictions and oppose any that tighten them.

My vote: Yes

Proposition 300: Legislative Pay Increase

This sort of proposition shows up almost every single time, and it seems to get voted down almost every single time. Give them a raise already. You get what you pay for.

My vote: Yes


President: John McCain/Sarah Palin vs Barack Obama/Joe Biden

My vote: Obama/Biden, duh.

Congress: Democrat Harry Mitchell vs. Republican David Schweikert

Mitchell has only been in office two years, and is a moderate democrat with a long record in Tempe (high school teacher at Tempe High for years and years, Tempe mayor, state legislature, now congressman).

While I hate his vote on the bailout (he voted no), I'll give him two more years. By all accounts, Schweikert is a principled conservative, although a pretty extreme one.

My vote: Mitchell

State Representative: Democrats: David Shapira, Ed Ableser vs. Republicans: Mark Thompson, Wesley Waddle
I know very little about these guys.

My vote (with a gun at my head): Shapira, Ableser

State Senate: Democrat: Meg Burton Cahill vs. Republican: Jesse Hernandez

Again, too little info currently.

My vote: Cahill

County Supervisor: Democrat: Ed Hermes v. Republican Fulton Brock
I'm clueless. Fulton Brock is the incumbent... That's all I know at the moment.

My vote: Fulton Brock

Corporation Commission: Democrats: Paul Newman, Rebecca Schneider, Sam George, Sandra Kennedy, Republicans: Bob Stump, Barry Wong, Marian McClure

The Democrats are making a strong push for much more solar energy. The Republicans want to leave more room for energy diversity.

I'm all in for solar:

My vote: Newman, Schneider, George.

This could change easily because I probably want a mix...

Maricopa County Attorney: Democrat Tim Nelson v. Republican Andrew Thomas

I hate Thomas extremist views generally, especially on immigration.

My vote: Nelson

Sheriff: Dan Saban vs. Sherriff Joe

Joe must go:

My vote: Dan Saban

There are other offices, but these are the major ones. I'll address the rest in another post. I'll also be updating these selections as I know more.

I would also like to know your opinions...