Golf and motherhood

Really interesting article in the Times a few days ago about the challenges of trying to be a mother and an elite golfer.  Again, its a really stark example of how important gender remains in our society– elite male golfers simply don’t face this problem.

For Kerr, the impediment to motherhood is golf, and there is no automatic relief. A woman’s athletic prime and her peak child-bearing years overlap like a total eclipse of the moon. A woman’s fertility peaks in her mid-20s and declines sharply after the age of 35, a real conundrum for golfers, whose games, like the courses they play, take years to mature…

Over the past two years, the L.P.G.A. Tour’s two biggest stars retired to devote their energies to family. The departures of Annika Sorenstam at 38 and Lorena Ochoa at 28 rocked a tour that was reeling from lost sponsors and tournaments.

In this age of million-dollar purses and million-mile travel, can the L.P.G.A. keep its superstars long enough to increase the tour’s following? The players’ fitness trailer is a reminder of the tour’s weakened state; its sides are adorned with larger-than-life images of Sorenstam and Ochoa.

Michael Whan, the L.P.G.A. commissioner, said women’s professional golf was “a tough, aggressive, highly paid career path, and people struggle with what kind of competitor they want to be and what kind of mom they want to be.”

Truth is, I think if I had elite golfing talent, I’d struggle with that kind of father I want to be.  I cannot imagine any occupation that would take me away from my kids so much, but lip service aside, this really doesn’t seem to be a problem for all that many men.

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The Republican’s new agenda

Tax cuts!!  You’re shocked, right?  Jon Chait eviscerates Karl Rove’s latest WSJ Op-Ed as only Chait can:

So the Republican growth agenda is to leave all the Bush administration’s policies in place. My favorite twist in the argument is where Rove calls this a “positive agenda” and immediately segues to arguing about all the terrible things that will happen if we restore Clinton-era tax rates. It worked so well under Bush, of course it’s the solution to our problems now! (Also note that the Bush-era tax rates have not yet expired, so they’ve literally been in effect throughout this entire crisis.)

Also in that op-ed, you can watch Rove try to grapple with Keynesian economic theory:

Last Thursday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the president in his bad bet by offering up the economic gem that extension of unemployment benefits “creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name.” Really? Faster than, say, cutting personal income tax cuts or slashing the corporate tax rate?

That’s Rove’s entire rebuttal: “Really?” He thinks it’s self-evidently absurd to claim that extending unemployment benefits would create jobs more quickly than cutting taxes for business or upper-income taxpayers. In fact, the unemployed have a high propensity to consume marginal dollars — they’ve seen a huge loss of income and are trying desperately to pay their bills and maintain some level of consumption. Businesses are sitting on enormous piles of cash.

The superiority of unemployment benefits as stimulus is economic conventional wisdom.

Karl Rove may know how to help Republicans win elections, but when it comes to actually understanding and writing competently about public policy, the man is an absolute buffoon.  It’s a shame that because of his ability in the former so many people take him seriously in the latter.

Nanny State

Every now and then, I do like to prove I’m not hopelessly liberal, and this attempt from the NC legislature to mandate that daycare not serve chocolate milk strikes me as a good opportunity:

Proposed nutrition standards for day care centers were watered down in the state House on Monday night, after conservatives lambasted the effort as a big-government plot to ban chocolate milk.

Faced with building opposition, bill co-sponsor Rep. Jennifer Weiss introduced an amendment to change the nutrition mandates to suggestions. Still, some Republican members of the House assailed the proposal as “nanny-state” rules intended to remove from parents the discretion to feed their children as they see fit.

The state already sets nutrition standards for licensed child care facilities. The new bill seeks to tighten those existing requirements to meet the recommendations of a legislative task force on combating childhood obesity. Many of the recommendations, such as substituting reduced fat milk for whole milk for children older than 2, came from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For once, I’m with the conservative backlash, though I think they could treat the problem of childhood obesity more seriously.  This is a very real problem, but I don’t think the solution is to literally remove parents’ choices about what their kids drink while in daycare.  Certainly, I think the state should do everything in its power to try and keep kids healthy and to encourage good health and nutrition, but to actually forbid chocolate milk in daycare sure seems a bit much.

While, I’m at it on the nanny state, I also get that they don’t want to see people putting their eyes out with bottle rockets, but, I am thankful that there are a number of states that allow me to take that risk.  On July 4th, we had a home fireworks show with fireworks legal in North Carolina (emits sparks up to 6 feet).  On July 5th, we traveled through Tennessee where you can get the good stuff.   The July 5th show was much cooler.  And nobody came anywhere close to harm.

A “controversial” appointment

So, yesterday, Obama used his recess appointment power to appoint Don Berwick as the head of Medicare and Medicaid Services (an obscure, but very important job).  Berwick is a very “controversial” appointment according to several stories I read/listened to.  Why?  Well, let’s see, for this important medical policy post, he’s supported by:  doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, the AARP, his predecessor under George W. Bush, and health policy wonks everywhere.

Well, he’s not supported by Republicans in the Senate, who have decided he needs 60 votes for confirmation (mmmm, democracy).  Apparently, he’s made favorable comments about the British National health service (which just happens to deliver care more efficiently than about anybody) and the following comment, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly,” which anybody who actually knows health care policy understands is absolutely true.

So, instead of having what could almost be described as the perfect person for the job (seriously, who gets support from all of those different groups?) we have to use the back door recess appointment that will expire because the Republicans in the Senate are b) really ignorant about health policy; and b) determined to filibuster everything (yes, requiring 60 votes is a filibuster whether the media reports it that way or not).  Yuck.

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