June
2nd 2008
Monday Morning Roundup: less than half a loaf edition.

Posted under: American history, Gender, the body, wankers, women's history

Historiann was on a mini-break this past weekend (at a place I’ll call Rolorado Rings), away from television and internet access, but fortunately others were hard at work reporting on the DNC’s blithe refusal to count votes cast by Democrats, for Democratic candidates!  But, I’m sure that like the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore (2000) , this is just a one-off ruling and shouldn’t be taken as precedent for any other possible voting rights case the court might hear.  Nope–no stare decisis here folks, nothing to see, keep it moving.  Historiann had a nightmare last night in which the 2008 Presidential election came down to the electoral votes in Michigan, with Barack Obama arguing (refreshingly!) for a recount to “count every vote,” and John McCain arguing (after Bush v. Gore) that as the candidate with the 216-vote lead, it would violate his rights for the votes of Michiganders to be counted.  But, that was just a bad dream!  It could never happen, could it?  Michiganders and Floridians will be thrilled to vote for the candidate of the party that cut their votes in half and then stole some of them to boot.  And the debacle in 2000 was EIGHT WHOLE YEARS AGO, and this professional historian know that history never has consequences!  That’s what’s so great about being an American.

Anyhoo, don’t miss the rally coverage at Roxie’s World, and Roxie’s final thoughts on the vote-halving and stealing that went on in Washington on Saturday, by Democrats, against other Democrats voting for Democratic candidates.  Jeralyn Merrit’s and Big Tent Democrat’s coverage at Talk Left has been nonpareil–click here for her final thoughts, and don’t miss her link to Dana Milbank’s coverage of the RBC meeting for the Washington Post.  Milbank writes, “A smaller number of Barack Obama supporters kept their distance. One woman, passing by a 4-year-old girl and her mother carrying pro-Clinton signs, shouted at them: ‘Cheater!’”  Stay classy, Obama supporters! 

In other news?

  • Women who have had Caesarian sections are being denied insurance coverage, because C-sections are more expensive than vaginal births.  (Uterine ruptures, of course, are reallly expensive, if not also deadly!)  Well, guess what?  Allopathic medicine is more expensive than midwifery and homeopathy!  Antibiotics and tetanus shots are more expensive than soap, water, and Bactine!  Hope is not a health care plan, folks.  C-sections are safe, predictable, and they save lives, and only rarely are they the decisions of patients themselves.  Suck it up.  (Maybe if insurance plans stopped covering Viagra, they could allow a few more women safe childbirth?)
  • Denver-area public schools experiment with separating boys and girls into different classes, recesses, and lunch periods.  It doesn’t hurt, and seems to help all the way around.  (This article indicates that boys are clearly the disruptive actors, and that they and the girls benefit when they’re segregated.)
  • And:  oh, yeah!  Hillary Clinton wins Puerto Rico by another blowout margin of 36%.  (Does anyone wonder why the actual voters aren’t actually voting for Obama, despite the fact that he’ll certainly be the nominee?  Was Howard Dean winning primaries in May and June despite John Kerry’s lock on the nomination?  Why aren’t Democrats taking orders from their party leaders?  Will they in November?)

 Et vous, mes amis?  What’s new with you?

17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Monday Morning Roundup: less than half a loaf edition.”

  1. Knitting Clio on 02 Jun 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    Our Bodies, Our Blog recently posted something related to this regarding Vaginal Birth After Caesarian:

    http://ourbodiesourblog.org/blog/2008/05/arizona_hospital_banning_vbac.php

    Short version — the enormous rise in C-sections over the past half-century has really not improved maternal/child health and is really more a product of malpractice litigation than medical science. Also, it’s a lot easier for a doc to make his/her tee time if s/he schedules a C-section rather than a vaginal delivery.

  2. Historiann on 02 Jun 2008 at 12:52 pm #

    Sorry, KC–I’m not on the anti C-section bandwagon. To be sure, there are some physicians who are too quick to cut. But quite frankly, the fetishization of so-called “natural childbirth” papers over a lot of the problems it causes, the consequences of which can be lifelong.

  3. neil maclean on 02 Jun 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    Historiann,

    Your take on the Democratic Party’s Florida and Michigan delegate decisions conflates, emotionalizes and betrays history. The Florida general election was manipulated by appointees of the brother of the eventual winner. The means were refusing to count ballots that were legitimately cast, disposal of ballots that were cast, phony rules that rejected votes legitimately cast, and finally, a supreme court that intervened with bias towards the outcome.

    This last weekend the Democrats manipulated a delegate election within their own party. Originally, both contestants agreed not to count the delegates, neither ran campaigns and one wasn’t on the ballot in one of the states. The rules that set this up were confused and last Saturday’s decision was a mishmash, but it was _not_ one party stealing an election.

    Your conflating these differences draws questions about your respect for history.

  4. Historiann on 02 Jun 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    Yeah, right Neil. Democrats have nothing to worry about when other Democrats ignore or trash their votes! It’s all OK if it’s in the family! Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!

    I’m not “conflating” “emotionalizing” or “betraying” history. I’m merely suggesting that if one sows the wind, one may well reap the whirlwind. (But, nice touch telling a women’s historian that she’s “emotionalizing” history! How’s the weather back there in 1957?)

    Please read the rules for commenting on this site, especially the part about how “attacks on people’s integrity, reading comprehension abilities, and intellectual capacity will get you banned from commenting here.”

  5. Indyanna on 02 Jun 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    Roxie’s report makes me even sorrier I missed the bus to DC on Saturday, but at least I didn’t end up “under it,” as one of the great rhetorical tropes of this campaign has it. “Unity cannot be assumed” in the “Bottom Line” part pretty much captures my current position for November. But, sending out a 4-year old kid (or better yet, swarms of them!) to steal the election. What a great concept!! Except for that eagle-eyed counterprotester on Saturday, they’d never see ‘em coming and it might even work. Worth a try in South Dakota tomorrow, where some accounts now have a real horserace shaping up. (Obama’s reported reluctance to go see the Stoned-Presidents Monument last week is said to be playing badly in the Badlands)!

  6. The History Enthusiast on 02 Jun 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    I’m a Republican, so my perspective is quite different from yours on many things, but I just wanted to commend you on the various posts you’ve written recently on misogyny and the mistreatment of Hillary Clinton.

    I do not like her because of what I perceive as character flaws, but I can’t help but be disgusted at the way she is being treated. The woman in me revolts at some of the suggestions being made in the media. If I was her, I would still be in the race too.

    Anyway, keep those articles coming!

  7. Historiann on 02 Jun 2008 at 5:44 pm #

    Hi History Enthusiast–thanks for stopping by to comment. I’d like to ask you if you think a lot of Republicans will indeed cross party lines to vote for Obama, as many seem to have done in the open primaries? Or do you think they’ll come home in the fall to McCain? (Embarassingly, Historiann has always had a little crush on him–at least the McCain up until 2002, when he really started to go downhill and get all lumpy & old-manlike.) My father is a Republican who is very enamored with Obama (and, not incidentally, disgusted with the Bush administration and Republicans in general), but I think he’ll end up coming home to McCain (mostly because the Republicans will jam him the way they jammed Kerry by making him look like an effete wimp.)

    And Indyanna: why didn’t we think of it before–armies of four year-olds marching on Bozeman and Sioux Falls, after they visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder historical sites, juice boxes full and ready to go? (“Children’s Crusade,” indeed!) I think you and Roxie’s moms have a lot in common–keep reading over there.

  8. Jeremy Young on 02 Jun 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    Historiann, I’m talking about you: http://www.progressivehistorians.com/2008/06/if-obamas-limping-its-hillary-whos.html

  9. Historiann on 02 Jun 2008 at 6:35 pm #

    Sorry, Jeremy–I’m not playing. I have never advanced the notion that “Obama is to blame for the fact that Hillary’s doing so well.” I think Hillary Clinton is the reason Hillary Clinton is doing so well, and that Obama should learn from her example.

  10. Jeremy Young on 02 Jun 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    Well, you don’t have to play, or even respond (though I do thank you for your response). It’s just I generally let folks know when I’m disagreeing with them at my place, as a courtesy.

    I think Hillary Clinton’s doing well is irrelevant at this point, and she should step aside and let the party go on with its work.

  11. Knitting Clio on 03 Jun 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    I’m not anti C-section if it’s medically necessary, e.g. because of a breech presentation or prolonged unproductive or obstructive labor. However, there is solid evidence that the increase in the percentage of C-sections is not due to safety issues but for convenience.

    The cause of many birth injuries during vaginal delivery is poor prenatal and obstetrical care, as well as very young maternal age and malnutrition. Hence the problem of vaginal fistulas in developing countries.

    In general C-section in the United States is quite safe, but like any major surgery, does carry risk of complications.
    Again, see Our Bodies, Ourselves and their blog.

  12. Historiann on 03 Jun 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    KC–yikes, the fistula issue is a big one. But, the fact is that many healthy Western women’s bodies are never the same after either so-called “natural” births or C-sections. They’re not usually permanently afflicted in the dramatic fashion of a fistula, but a lot of the consequences of so-called “natural” birth are papered over in prepared childbirth and natural childbirth classes, and even by the medical profession.

    Our Bodies, Ourselves was my bible in the late 1980s and 1990s. Its descriptions of sexuality, birth control options, and the course of pregnancy are really great. But I found that it didn’t give the whole picture when it came to childbirth. No publication could present the total picture in sufficient detail for everyone–there are other books that do different things–but I found its portrayal of “natural” births versus C-secion births to be highly ideological (with “natural” births being the “good” births, and C-section births being described as “failures”–either of a woman’s body, or of her failure to direct or control her birth experience.) I think it’s unfortunate that some stripes of feminism are just as controlling and judgmental as allopathic obstetrics used to be in the bad old days.

  13. Knitting Clio on 04 Jun 2008 at 5:54 am #

    I don’t think you’re being fair to OBOS — they were among the first to point out that the benefits of C-sections and other birth interventions were overstated at best, and the risks underreported. Sure, not every woman can deliver vaginally, but the risks of infection during C-section (as with any surgery) are not insignificant.

    OBOS’ policy statements are consistent with those in Reproductive Health Reality Check and the World Health Organization. Both point out that the United States has the highest percentage of C-sections (nearly 1/3 of all births), yet the worst maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates in the developed world.

    Since you’re an early U.S. historian, I suggest you review the work of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and others on early midwifery — they demonstrate that the shift from midwives to physician-assisted births was based more on ideology than on actual outcomes.

  14. Historiann on 04 Jun 2008 at 7:34 am #

    KC–I’m well aware of Ulrich’s work and that of Susan Klepp, etc. on the fertility transition too. I simply don’t think that OB/GYNs are all evil, controlling people forcing women into unnecessary surgeries! And, I stand by my critque of OBOS as having an overly ideological view of birth.

    Much of the feminist critique of allopathic intervention in childbirth was necessary and helpful, and it changed the way most OB/GYNs practice. (We’re no longer in the 1820s, or the 1960s!) However, much of the message of the so-called “natural” childbirth movement asks women to embrace pain and mutilation as “natural” and a more authentic birth experience. (Just because Martha Ballard had a great record as a midwife doesn’t mean that that’s the way to go for all time.) For some reason, we don’t approach any other medical procedures this way–root canals, minor or major surgery, etc.–we assume that anaesthetics are not only acceptable, but mandatory. But the “natural” birth movement is too much like the biblical injunction to “bear children in pain”–and telling people that they need to experience physical pain is to me not a feminist message. That is to me an ideological expectation that we put on women’s bodies only

    As for the high C-section/high infant mortality rates: both are troubling, but they’re not related in a direct causal relationship. The women who are getting C-sections are wealthier and well-insured patients for the most part, who took their prenatal vitamins, etc. The women who tragically are part of the other troublingly high statistics are not wealthy or well-insured, which is probably a major reason that their birth outcomes are not so good. (No link to the stats now–apologies–this is just my gut instinct and so am willing to be proved wrong here.)

  15. Historiann on 04 Jun 2008 at 7:38 am #

    p.s. The bottom line for me is that people should do whatever they think is best for them. Women are all different, and for some, it’s important to push a baby out the old-fashioned way. For others, it’s not an option unless they’re OK with mutiliation and/or delivering a blue baby. For still others, “natural” is not an option they would consider in the first place. So, clearly, it’s too rigid to insist that there’s only one “correct” or “authentic” or “feminist” way to give birth.

  16. Knitting Clio on 04 Jun 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    The two statistics are indeed connected in that both reflect vast disparities in our healthcare system, one that supports expensive high-tech options for the insured, and nada for the uninsured. Martha Ballard had good outcomes because she had clients that were basically healthy and well-nourished. The same is true of today’s highly trained midwives.

  17. Historiann on 04 Jun 2008 at 8:00 pm #

    Good point–midwives do get a very healthy sub-section of patients. My sister-in-law gave birth at Ballard House (yes, named after that Ballard!) in Portland, Maine, and although it’s right across from Maine Med., as I recall, it was quite a battery of hurdles she had to clear in order to be permitted to give birth there. The midwives were very careful in selecting patients who had a very low chance of ending up needing any serious medical or certainly surgical intervention.