Friday, June 12, 2020

What do Liberals think?

As is often the case. I was "confronted" over on Facebook today by a cut and pasted quote from a long time conservative friend that, in a nut shell, could be titled "liberals hate me and want me to be not myself - and why I keep throwing them the middle finger." I pointed out to said friend that plenty of people see no problem telling me as a liberal how to be. His uncaring response was to tell me to write out how I saw things.

So I have. What follows is my response to the points in his post.

Before I go into all your individual points, I want to start by pointing out that cutting and pasting this in what I assume was its original form means you did what you often accuse liberals of doing - painting with a broad brush that's not attached to reality as you know it. You seem to think if you do the same thing you accuse us of doing that's ok, but if we try to do so we are wrong and deserving of your derision. If you want people to look at you differently, you have to do something differently. But here goes.

  • I used to think I was pretty much just a regular person, until it was pointed out that I was born white into a working, two-parent household which now, whether I like it or not, makes me privileged, racist & responsible for slavery.
    • I was born white, I grew up in a two parent working household too. It does make both of us privileged, and while neither of us is responsible for slavery we ARE responsible for righting the lingering wrongs from that Great Sin because we are white, male and privileged. And we are racist to the extent that we ignore that privilege and the system that underpins and supports it.
  • By today's standards I am a fiscal & moral conservative, which makes me a fascist because I plan, budget & support myself.
    • No it doesn't. Like me (yes I plan budget and support myself too) that makes you a responsible adult. But fiscal and moral conservatives aren't just about personal decisions - those are labels about economic and political actions and actors writ large. And many of the decisions made by politicians, business owners and ordinary people under those labels do indeed support facisim as it is expressed in the US. Indeed, the fact that moral conservatives have no problem passing legislation telling Americans what they can do in their bedrooms, where they can go to the bathroom and who they can avoid serving in their businesses is certainly about controlling society. Fiscal conservationism seems to express itself politically in wanting someone else to pay for the things you want government to do for you, since adequate taxation is anathema, but ballooning deficits is not.
  • I went to school & always held a job. But I now find out that I didn’t earn it myself because I was somehow advantaged, because others that didn't follow the same path say so...
    • Great. Congratulations. You were advantaged however in that your skin color didn't prevent you from getting a job, or a promotion or an education. Don't believe me?
      • White men with a criminal record are more likely to get an interview than Black men with no criminal record. (
      • African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be unemployed and they earn nearly 25 percent less when they are employed. (
      • Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback. This would suggest either employer prejudice or employer perception that race signals lower productivity.
  • I believe in freedom of religion, which depending upon which religion you believe in, makes me your friend or your foe, because apparently I'm supposed to believe whatever you do....
    • No one asks you to give up your faith. No one asks you to convert to another faith. But both liberals and the U.S. Constitution say quite clearly that your faith is no better - and should receive no special government protection - then any other. Oh, and there's no war on Christians in the US. If there were I'd be on the front lines - defending all religions including the Presbyterian Protestant tradition I grew up and was baptized in.
  • I believe in the 2nd Amendment, which makes me a de facto member of a vast gun lobby.
    • Well I guess that would make me a gun lobbyist too. But we both know that's not the case, so . . . its your resistance to dealing with gun access leading to gun violence and gun suicide in the vague name of liberty that is the problem. When the President - last week - said he would send the regular Army into America's streets to quell protesters if governors and mayors weren't tough enough by his standards, the same people who only a month before carried automatic rifles into the Michigan legislature to protest stay at home orders were SILENT. After 8 years under President Obama of railing that a black liberal president was going to come take our guns. Want to persuade me you care about these things - what did you do when a legal concealed carry permit holder was shot and killed in his car by police after telling them he was reaching for his CCW permit? What did you do when a 12 year old kid was killed within 1.2 seconds of police contacting him because he was in a public park with a toy gun? And were you upset when you learned the NRA used to be in favor of strict gun control - until the Black Panthers began carrying weapons in US cities to protect themselves from police brutality? 80% of Americans claim to support universal background checks and closing the gun show loophole, so how about working with us on this?
  • I doubt almost everything the "main stream" media tells me, because I don't know who's lying to me today, which makes me a right-wing conspiracy nut.
    • I'm a scientist, so doubt is my profession. But the "mainstream media" actually reports a lot of stuff factually and always has. You have been conditioned to doubt them by other media who make money off keeping you uninformed. Otherwise why would the President's reelection campaign send CNN a letter telling them to retract a poll the President doesn't like when even Fox has put up polls he doesn't like? What makes you look like a right wing conspiracy nut is trafficking in and not pushing back publicly on right wing conspiracies. Like a 75 year old long time peace activist who was handing a police officer back a lost helmet was then shoved to the ground so hard he bled out of his ears because he was somehow scanning police radios. Or the NRA fueled gun seizure rumors I noted above. Or Pizza Gate. This stuff is clearly made up - even my kids can see through it. Why can't you?
  • I am proud of my heritage and our inclusive American culture, making me a xenophobe.
    • Our culture isn't inclusive. See my job stats above. Or consider that George Floyd died after being arrested for committing a property crime - allegedly passing a fake $20 that in all likelihood he didn't know was fake. Or Breanna Taylor - killed in her own home by plainclothes cops executing a warrant to arrest a person who hadn't been seen (much less lived) at her home in months and who police already had in custody. Find me stories like that of white men and white women. Or U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R -SC) who had to show ID to the U.S. Capitol Police to prove he was a sitting US Senator. Or read all the stories about people of color being told they have to cut their hair to wrestle or graduate highschool. And what about how you treat and talk about transgender people? Even IF the US was inclusive, the label of xenophobe comes because you would rather attack people coming here from south america and africa fleeing war and gang terrorism seeking a better life for themselves then welcome them and help them become Americans.
  • I believe in hard work and fair compensation, which today makes me an anti-socialist.
    • Socialism has nothing to do with hard work and fair compensation. White women still make 80% of what a man makes in the same job. Black women make 65% of what a white man earns. Black Men earn 87% of what a white man earns for the same job. Compensation is not yet fair, and to the extent that you oppose changing that or support systems that perpetuate that - yeah you are part of the problem.
  • I believe our system guarantees freedom of effort – not freedom of outcome, which makes me a borderline sociopath.
    • By now it should be clear that effort only gets you so far. Your rabid resistance to looking these facts in the face and then advocating for change is indeed beyond frustrating. Too many people work all their lives and never get ahead simply because of the color of their skin or their gender.
  • I believe in the defense and protection of America for and by all citizens, now making me a militant.
    • No liberal suggests we shouldn't defend the nation. But we object strenuously to the idea that decade plus year long wars should be fought in our name for questionable reasons in places where there is no existential threat to the US. Especially when taxes are not raised to pay for those wars, and other government services that do take care of Americans are curtailed at the same time.
  • I am proud of our American flag, what it stands for and the many who died to let it fly, and I stand and salute during our National Anthem, so I must be an uncaring, unsympathetic racist.
    • You APPEAR to be an uncaring unsympathetic racist because rather then support the rights of black Americans to kneel in protest of things being done to them in your communities under color of that flag, you insist they are unpatriotic or unamerican. You keep this up even when veterans of all races and background tell you over and over that they didn't serve so you could denigrate your fellow Americans. If that weren't enough you don't push back when my patriotism is questioned in your space - even though I have dedicated my career to public service and public science. My oath to protect the Constitution is the same one spoken by every American soldier, sailor, airman and marine (and every federal bureaucrat up to the Vice President). But to too many of your other friends my liberal view make me a mentally unfit traitor who hates his own race. And you NEVER tell them to knock it off.
  • All this happened in the last 15 to 20 years, when I was raising my kids to be good responsible people, and must not have been paying attention, to the invading hordes of self righteous good-doer's!

Self righteous people are all around and on all sides. The ones still calling liberals mentally diseased are definitely self righteous. The ones saying that they must arm themselves to the teeth to "water the tree of liberty" by preventing a tyrannical government who choose to remain silent when government commits actual tyranny are definitely righteous do gooders.

Every day you make a choice in what you say, what you support, and what you remain silent on. If you don't want liberals to roll their eyes, wring their hands, or see you as the opposition then don't give us reason to. Treat us with the dignity and respect you claim we don't give you. And recognize and affirm that differences in opinion about how to achieve a more inclusive, successful America aren't reason to knock anyone.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Assessing Joe Biden

Over on Facebook I’ve been in some heated discussions over the Democratic Presidential primary race this year. As former VP Biden consolidates his delegate count on the way to the Democratic nomination, I’ve raised the issue that I don’t think he’s going to beat Trump. Lots of my liberal friends have pushed back – some harshly – that I’m wrong, and that I’ll need to eat a lot of public crow when he wins. Since I don’t have the energy or time to rewrite my reasons across a great many platforms, I’m consolidating them here, in the hopes that folks will come and read, and at least understand.  I don’t need or want agreement.


Polling is a fickle thing – a great many people refuse to trust it since so many polls had Sec. Clinton winning right up until she lost. Yet absent polling data its hard to tell what’s going on in the electorate since the primaries are not head to head; we’ve had no debates yet, and the ad cycle is not geared to a national election. So as a data guy I turn to the state by state polling as summarized by 538. Its by no means perfect (most of the polls are pre-Super Tuesday), and I’m sure Nate Silver would trash my analysis, but I think its good enough for discussion.

Looking at 538’s polling data the picture is not at all clear for Biden.  There are three sets of states in that data – polling in states with 10 or more Electoral College Votes; Polling in states with less then 10 Electoral College votes; and a surprising group of states with varying EC votes but no real polling (Illinois I’m looking at you).  If you add the most recent state polling averages for Mr. Biden and the President, and chart them against the available electors in each state you get my first table.  The “Electors with no polling” are an assumption that states Trump won in 2016 are states he’d still win, and that states Clinton won in 2016 are states Biden wins now. 

Electoral College Totals if Polling holds

Polling total electors 10+
Polling total electors -10
Electors no Polling
Electoral Totals

Its worth noting that a lot of the states Biden wins in current polling at +5 Biden or lower, and I think its reasonable to say those states are in play for the President if he chooses to contest them.

As we know however, the state and national polling missed a lot of the actual trend information last time, and when it was all done, Trump have flipped 5 states that have 10 or more EC votes from Obama to himself (Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin).  While Biden is currently leading polls in Florida, Michigan and Ohio, he’s only managed to pull even Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  Which means the With Current Polling totals put PA and WI in the President’s column since he took them last time (tie goes to the runner and all).

If, however, you move all the flipped states to the President, and hold the rest constant, you get my second table, which is telling.  By holding those flipped states along with all his other prior wins and current polling leads, the President remains in office. This seems to be the strategy the President’s campaign is banking on, based on rallies since he took office. It also means the VP’s campaign has to work harder in states he might otherwise want to avoid to prevent their loss again. Since he still doesn’t have the nomination, I don’t know if he will pivot successfully, but its not a given and not reassuring.

Electoral College Totals if 2016 Flipped states stay flipped

Flipped total electors 10+
Polling total electors -10
Electors no Polling
Electoral Totals


The biggest policy challenge on the campaign trail will be economic.  The President has benefited enormously so far from the upward economic trends Mr. Obama left him, and has not managed to tank those trends. Despite his rhetoric however, his actual economic policies are not keeping manufacturing, returning coal jobs or making sure wages are climbing. And while he hasn’t succeeded in taking out the Affordable Care Act entirely, it’s not for a lack of trying. This means he can still be shot at for economics, but as long as unemployment remains low, wages don’t back slide, GDP remains steady, and stocks don’t majorly correct his economics won’t get a deeper look.

Mr. Biden on the other hand is all in on the Neoliberal economic approach that Sec. Clinton and Mr. Obama favored.  That means he prefers to act for the good of the corporation when government acts economically, and he’s not likely to support Single Payer or any other health care reform that pushes us to a more equitable model.  He can certainly point to the successes of the Obama Administration in arresting the Great Recession, but much of that was not in labor or infrastructure development, and main street’s recovery is still lagging Wall Street.

Lots of people took their anger about not getting bailed out when the banks and auto makers did out on Sec. Clinton, and Mr. Biden’s policies are no different. While folks may be doing better paycheck to paycheck now, they aren’t likely to associate that with him. This all means his economic approach isn't aligned with either real needs or perceptions of success.


In my lifetime there hasn’t been a centrist Democrat who has defeated a sitting Republican up for a second term, and the only open Centerist to win office was Bill Clinton. Mr. Obama, if you will recall, ran initially as a progressive and then governed from the center.  But Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton all ran as centerists and lost. Biden was part of most of those elections either as a Senator or as a candidate, and its telling that he’s the only one left still trying to win the WH.  Now past is not always prologue – the current President is an excellent example of that – but again, Mr. Biden is campaigning from a place that historically hasn’t worked for Democrats.


Like it or not, modern politics is as much about perception as policy (perhaps more so), and here Mr. Biden faces an almost vertical climb.  There remains a sizable portion of the population – across party lines but more so Republicans and Independents – who do not believe Washington (by which they often mean Congress) is or was fighting for them. I hear it a lot from southern moderates who voted Obama twice then went Trump.  And like it or not the President has a VERY blustery “Fighter's” demeanor.  Sure, he deploys it to attack and “other” all sorts of people, but until Chuck Schumer’s ill-advised rant on the Supreme Court steps this week most folks would be hard pressed to identify a Democrat on the national stage who has done anything similar.  Mr. Biden isn’t really capable of running up the rage tweets or the mocking of people, and even if he were it would not play well with large swaths of the electorate.  But the President promised to “blow up Washington” and he is definitely doing so in ways that feed the fighter perception – damning as they are to the rule of law and the Constitution.

Mr. Biden will also be dogged all the way to November by the "investigations" of his son's "corruption" in Ukraine, and his alleged role in that.  The optics are in no way good - Hunter Biden did spend years receiving $50,000 a month for sitting on a corporate board  - and to a great many people it will look unethical even though its not illegal.  The Senate is poised to issue Hunter Biden subpoenas on the matter - which I am sure he will ignore on the advice of counsel.  That will also be used against the elder Mr. Biden as further evidence that he's corrupt in an almost caricatured way.  And yes, the same accusations could be made against Mr. Trump and his kids, but so no one has.

Summing it all up

Ok, ok some of you may say – his polling is ambivalent at best (but its sure to come up closer to the convention when he has the nomination locked); his economic policies are not going to win back the Obama-turned-Trump voters (but he’ll get better help with what he does try because the Senate will flip to join the House); he’s not perceived as a fighter (but people are getting tired of the fighting); no Centerist Democrat has unseated a Republican up for reelection (but Obama!).  Fine, you say.  Joe is still our guy because he’s going to bring us back to something we think we recognize as normal. And that’s enough.  That’s a start.

It is a start.  It’s not enough however.  Sec. Clinton won by 3 million votes, and still lost the White House. The Senate stayed Republican – and the consequences of that will still need unraveling by my kids when the judges that have been confirmed all finally die.  The House stayed Republican through 2018 – and now we have to hold it against a Republican onslaught at significant cost of finite campaign resources.  And the Democratic Party is now 20+ years in to being captured by big money – the same big money that has driven the Republican Party hard right and that created economic conditions that Republicans could leverage against racial animus to put the current President in power.

Much of that is directly attributable to the votes not cast.  The 45% who stayed home. And the loss of key battleground states that are showing dead even right now in the polling.  Joe Biden is not the clear national alternative to the President. He is nowhere nearly as inspiring as Sec. Clinton.  He still has a significant uphill battle to get there, and then he has to sustain momentum in more places and more ways the Hillary Clinton did. Both his track record and his experience of this campaign do not lend confidence that he will.

I hope I am very wrong.  But this isn’t about hope.  It’s about fighting for what’s right.  It’s about a last stand for democracy in a crashing republic.  It’s about pushing back authoritarianism once and for all.  For that Democrats have to move much further left and much more quickly.  Incrementalism is part of what got us here. Incrementalism will not save us.

And for reasons best left to another blog post – Bernie Sanders is all that we have left of the left.
Thanks to his bluster and the Bernie Bros he’s at least got the fighter thing down pat.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Another Brick in Trump's Wall - Stolen From the Rule of Law

President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.
He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.

It also means that Congress’s Power of the Purse as enumerated by the allegedly Republican Revered Constitution is now nothing more than a suggestion:

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is expected to approve a White House request to divert $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to the barrier project in coming weeks, money that Trump sought after lawmakers refused to allocate $5 billion. The funds will be pulled from Defense Department projects in 26 states, according to administration officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the matter.

And those laws designed to ensure fair, competent contracting is done with taxpayer dollars – not even thought about:

“Border Patrol insists on compressed acquisition timelines, and we consent. Their goal is to get contracts awarded, not for us to get a quality contract with a thoroughly vetted contractor,” said one senior official who is concerned the agency has been hurried to hand out contracts as quickly as possible.
 Military officials expect more contract protests because the arrangements have been rushed, the official added. The Army Corps already has had to take corrective actions for two procurement contracts, after companies protested.

And of course, there’s no consideration for environmental damage or private property rights:

The companies building the fencing and access roads have been taking heavy earth-moving equipment into environmentally sensitive border areas adjacent to U.S. national parks and wildlife preserves, but the administration has waived procedural safeguards and impact studies, citing national security concerns.

“They don’t care how much money is spent, whether landowners’ rights are violated, whether the environment is damaged, the law, the regs or even prudent business practices,” the senior official said.

CBP has suggested no longer writing risk-assessment memos “related to the fact that we don’t have real estate rights and how this will impact construction,” the official said.

Now many folks would say that interests of national security require us to forgo the legal mandates and Congressional preferences so that we can secure our border. And were we under active military invasion they MIGHT have a point.

But we aren’t.  All this wall is being done as a spectacle to fuel race-based animosity against powerless defenseless migrants literally fleeing for their lives.  They are seeking succor in the US – a country whose proxy war with Russia in the last century in Central and South America largely drove the violence and destitution they are fleeing. They come here and mow our lawns, build our houses, feed us, clean our office buildings, pick our fruit and slaughter our chickens.  They add dollars to local economies, they send their kids to school to learn English, and they give away billions in tax dollars for services they can not receive.   American born citizens do not do the jobs they do, nor will they once immigrants are thrown out.

The Wall is a political misdirection.  It takes money that Congress set aside for other purposes and throws it at a useless barrier that won’t make meaningful changes to immigration or economic policy so the President can stoke fears to keep power.  And along the way, the Part of Law and Order and the Constitution can keep trashing all those things because no one will notice.  Or care.

Oh, for a functional Deep State.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Left Behind Already - Why Mr. Trump's Bullying Works

Like a lot of pundits, CNN’s Michael D’Antontio almost gets to the heart of the matter assessing Mr. Trump’s recent racist tirades against sitting members of Congress.  He seems to correctly diagnose Trump’s bullying for what it is, and then extends it to his followers thusly:

The fear of being targeted, excluded -- or even sent away, like the President was as a youngster -- may also lurk in the hearts of voters who accept Trump's behavior. With his attacks on the four members of Congress, his coldhearted crackdown on America's immigrant families and asylum seekers, and his repeated effort to demonize those who disagree with him, Trump has demonstrated what happens if you step out of line.

What he misses, however, is the fact that many if not most of Trump’s supporters ALREADY feel thrown out – out of the economy, out of social and cultural superiority, out of the ability to control their own destiny.  Mr. Trump’s attacks against a vast array of “others” on their behalf gives them the feeling of being back in, of achieving power stripped from them by a world and systems that evolves without their input, much less their permission.  They might well have decided Rep. Ilhan Omar was worthy to be an American (albeit a second class one in many eyes), but no one asked their permission directly, and since they have bought 4 decades of stories about brown skinned people taking from them (again based on bully fear mongering), they now demand to be heard. There will be no peace until they are, but the cost to the nation until then will be dear.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dr. King and the Furlough - Attacks on the Dream

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (abbreviated MLK Day). Its also day 30 of the latest government “shutdown.” Contemplating each day requires contemplating both.  And sadly, this year we seem to be even farther from Dr. King’s vision and call to a higher place.

The furlough is impacting communities nationwide and has spread its pernicious damage well beyond the 450,000 or so federal civil servants who have now worked a month without pay.  Hundreds of thousands of federal contractors – who work beside us daily to deliver federal services to our fellow citizens – remain furloughed as well, and they will not be back paid for time lost. Their economic straits will get worse more quickly and honestly I don’t expect to see many of their faces when we do return to work.  Many small businesses are also suffering – dry cleaners, restaurants, office suppliers, and a thousand thousand others who rely on federal spending to make their money are now either shuttered or running on a shoestring.  They too will not be compensated.

Lost in those grim statistics is the number of immigrants and people of color whose lives are upended by this. People of color make up 36.7% of the federal workforce, and many of them are employed by the agencies currently shuttered.  Contractors too are significant employers of people of color, most notably in the building maintenance, food service, custodial, and childcare facility contracts.  Roughly 25% of the workforce of the Department of Homeland Security are minorities, which means people of color working to secure our border are seeing their livelihoods impacted in the President’s fight over the wall.

Elsewhere communities of color are being impacted by the closure of HUD; by the decrease in food safety inspections, and by the inability of the IRS (so far) to issue tax refunds.  Thus this shut down isn’t just about shafting fed to try and force Democrats to do something most American don’t want; nor is it winning support for Republicans (only 29% of respondents in the survey linked to the Examiner article say Democrats are to blame).  Rather, this latest political intrusion into good government is also impacting communities of color in growing and pernicious ways.

So what would King say in response?

There are few direct quotes in his many speeches and writings about government directly, except that he notes on many occasions that local governments seek to preserve a racist status quo in the US. He frequently takes whites to task for their assertions of moderation and ill timing of the Civil Rights movement, and this leads me to wonder if he would rebuke those who call for civil servants to just back up and bear it all.  Mostly though, I believe he would be on the forefront of those who remind us this shut down is not about border security, but another battle in the long war to bring true justice to those people of color who labor to make their nation a better place by working in the government system, even as that government continues to be used against them.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Now What - A mediation on the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

My head hurts.  Not because the confirmation hearings for Mr. Kavanaugh produced dialogue about gender equality or sexual assault that's over due.  Not because many women are - perhaps for the first time - willing to take on the patriarchy.  And not because Mitch McConnell proved again that he doesn't really care about anything other then power.

No, it hurts because so many of my fellow Americans have reduced all this a simple statement:

We Won!
or to another simple statement:

Suck it Libtards!
No matter the evidence that Mr. Kavanaugh is not fit to sit on the Supreme Court - and there were questions about him perjuring himself before the Blasey-Ford hearing - no matter that he is a partisan jurist who will be an "activist judge;' and leaving aside the fact that going into the second hearing the Senate Judiciary Committee was actually aware of 7 allegations against him (making it a He Said They Said no a He Said She Said) as it was billed; and never mind Mr. McConnell's disastrous silencing of Judge Merrick Garland - what the folks on the right love above all else is stick it to the left.

They don't care that their own voting rights might eventually curtailed - as long as the Left looses. They don't care that their healthcare costs will go back up - as long as the Leftlooses.  They don't care about a Trillion dollar deficit - as long as the Left looses.  They don't care about the end of medically safe abortions for women of lower economic means - as long as the Left looses. They don't care about clean air or clean water - as long as the Left looses.

And they certainly don't care about adhering to teachings of the Christ they all claim for themselves - as long as the Left looses.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

If You Are in Awe of the Duchess of Cambridge, You Don’t Know Modern Birth

CNN’s AJ Willingham wrote on April 23rd about the “Awe” expressed by so many in the fact that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, walked out of the hospital 7 hours after giving birth to her third child.  The Duchess has done this sort of thing twice before, and it seemed so . . . magical . . . mythical . . . unmodern to so many commentators, both women and men.

Now yes, as Ms. Willingham points out the Duchess has a great many advantages – from ambulances and police escorts and on-call doctors; to stylists and nannies – that the vast majority of women lack.  Catherine has also had a great many challenges in all her pregnancies, as she battled through bouts of “hyperemises gravidarium during the early stages of all three of her pregnancies. The condition causes severe nausea and vomiting, and can pose serious health risks.” Yes, child birth can be exhausting and yes, three kids into my own marriage and I can assure you it’s sometimes messy.

But where Ms. Willingham gets it wrong – as do far too many people in today’s world (including rafts of expectant mothers) - is that the challenges of birth itself is some sort of debilitating CONDITION that must be treated or alleviated. Instead, understood properly and prepared for with gusto, you really can arrive at a childbirth experience that gets you out of the hospital in a red dress looking like you just won an award.  Which you did.  By giving birth.

To understand how we got here, you have to look at how medicine is practiced in the “Western” world – and more specifically in the US.  Just a glance at the terminology that is associated with birth in most medical settings is a serious clue – American medicine speaks of birth as “labor” wherein you can get medication for “relief” of “pain.” Labor is “induced” as an “intervention.” Doctors demand the “right” to monitor women and their babies with often restrictive ultrasound harnesses – despite a growing body of evidence that said monitoring actually increases anxiety in mothers, slows the birth process, and increases the occurrence of C-Sections (Which are major, painful and invasive surgeries). At one time many woman even sought out drug cocktails called Twilight Sleep to medically induce amnesia so as to forget the challenges of birth.

And yet . . . many women – like my wife – choose to take control of their birth experience just as they take control of their reproductive rights, their careers, their finances and their relationships.  They increasingly choose – as we did – to birth with a midwife or in a birth center away from a hospital so that birth can be the natural, empowering experience it has always been.  In that regard the Duchess is well ahead of the game:

Though still a relative novelty in the U.S., midwife-led maternity care is the norm in other developed countries, including most of Europe.* In England, for example, midwives are the lead care providers at more than half of all births. (There, midwife care is considered fit even for royalty; last month Kate Middleton gave birth to her daughter Charlotte under the care of two midwives.) “In England, what they say is, ‘Every mother deserves a midwife, and some need an obstetrician, too,’” Declercq says.

In addition many pregnant woman are taking advantage of things like Hypnobabies (which we used twice), a national program that, through meditation-like practices, exercises in visualization, and practice between the woman and her partner – aim to transform both the woman’s birth experience AND her perceptions. These approaches don’t take away any of the physical stress in the pregnant woman’s body.  They do, however, better prepare a woman to thrive in the birth experience and emerge just as the Duchess did.

So go ahead, be in awe.  But know that as a woman – or the birth or life partner of a woman – you too can achieve a similar outcome when you birth.  And that means you can emerge from the hospital 7 hours later in a red dress (thankfully without the cameras) to go do the important work of raising good humans.