Reaping what they’ve sown

Lots of great stuff about the National Review’s issue of trying to take down Trump.  I especially enjoyed this take in The Guardian by Jeb Lund:

National Review, a Thurston Howell impression on print and with staples in it, published a special edition yesterday titled Against Trump. Not Stop Trump, or Dump Trump or even Chump Trump. “Against Trump.”Toward a Normative Understanding of Trump Negation. Whatever.

I’m sure it will be very effective with all 5,000 subscribers who are not conservative thinktanks. There is definitely no way that the snob mouthpiece of the Republican party rolling out a coordinated attack on Donald Trump will backfire. And nobody will make fun of the cover, and the august list of contributors definitely does not read like a grocery list beginning with “Lunatic”, stopping off twice at “Nepotist” and hitting all the other lowlights of fraudsters and homophobes, etc…

What makes this especially fun is that everything that makes Donald Trump a runaway success is a creation of conservatism. He is their Be Careful What You Wish For candidate. (This guy put it about as succinctly and hilariously as anyone can.) National Review can stand athwart history and yell stop, but they’re standing in front of a snowball they’ve been pushing down a hill for the last half-century. Even the hand-wringing that Donald Trump is such an ugly and hateful candidate is hilarious from a rag that started out defending liberty andsegregation. [emphasis mine]

Take Glenn Beck. I really don’t know what genius at National Review thought he would be a good representative for impeaching an opportunistic huckster prone to wild populist confabulation. Sending Beck to stop Trump is like trying to get a gravy stain out of a carpet by steamrolling a prime rib into it. This guy so regularly leaks torrents of crocodile tears that if you’d sent him back to Bronze Age Egypt, the denizens along the Nile would have invented the calendar to chart how often Glenn Beck flooded their banks…

Other contributors, like L Brent Bozell III, are hardly better. Bozell currently works for the Media Research Center and is formerly of the Parents Television Council, whose sole purpose was furnishing TV executives’ mailing addresses for every sexless tightass who wanted to write an angry letter whenever they saw lesbians kissing on TV…

Even attempts to chide Trump for insulting others come across as hollow. Mona Charen wrote “Who, except a pitifully insecure person, needs constantly to insult and belittle others …?” Has Charen ever looked at a single candidate’s Twitter page? It would take a thousand words to document every atrocity from the last three months.

Rubio and the establishment

Sarah M. directed me to this 538 post, remarking that she had no idea that Rubio was at all anti-establishment.  Indeed, so.  It’s easy to forget that he rose to national prominence in 2010 as a Tea Party darling who defeated an establishment Republican in a Senate primary.  Anyway, here’s Harry Enten bringing some data on Rubio:

Rubio’s ideology tends to get lost next to that of Cruz, but he is one of the most conservative members of Congress. We can see this using DW-Nominate, an algorithm that rates members of Congress on a liberal-conservative scale based on their voting record. Rubio is more conservative than 77 percent of Republicans serving in Congress this term…

Rubio’s other problem is that his voting pattern seems to be more anti-establishment than the average member of Congress. While it’s not always clear what “anti-establishment” means, DW-Nominate’s second dimension, as I have written about, is a decent proxy for it. It isn’t a perfect measurement and it probably overstates Rubio’s disagreements with the GOP leadership. Still, Rubio’s score on this metric indicates he is more anti-establishment than 88 percent of Republicans in Congress. It’d have to be way off for Rubio to somehow be considered establishment friendly… [emphasis mine]

Rubio was elected in 2010 as a tea party supporter who challenged Florida’s sitting governor in a Senate race. Except for immigration reform (on which Rubio’s position seems malleable), there were few occasions when Rubio went to bat for a major cause of the establishment.

Indeed, Rubio’s voting profile more closely resembles the House Freedom Caucus than it does a mainstream Republican…

Rubio’s problem is that the mere threat of Cruz and Trump hasn’t made many mainstream Republicans run to him with open arms. It may be, among other reasons, because they’re afraid that endorsements from the “establishment” would actually hurt Rubio. Voters seem to want an outsider this year, and YouGov has found that they’ve already pegged Rubio as a member of the establishment.

But if Rubio’s voting record is any indication, it may be that Republican members of Congress are not choosing Rubio because his record doesn’t line up with theirs. Some may be hoping that Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich can rally. If they can’t, or if Rubio wins a primary or two, we’ll see if Rubio’s fortunes on the endorsement front change.

Good stuff.  With Trump out there in his own world and Cruz, literally the most conservative member of Congress, it is easy to see Rubio as more “establishment” than he actually is.  Also, it is amazing the symbolic power of one high-profile deviation from party orthodoxy.  Even when back-tracked.  This fits with my long-held idea that a Republican who was literally as conservative as Cruz on every single issue except abortion would be labeled “moderate” by all the media if they were even modestly pro-choice.  That was part of Bill Clinton’s brilliance in 1992– by being pro death penalty (an issue upon which the president has almost no impact) and taking on Sister Souljah, it enabled him to seem “moderate” while generally holding orthodox liberal positions.

Anyway, short version: once upon a time being moderate on immigration and being not nearly as crazy as Cruz has gotten Rubio labeled “establishment.”  But, in the big picture, there’s plenty of reason to think establishment Republicans would prefer somebody else until given no choice (i.e., it is clear where the establishment goes if only Rubio is left against Cruz and/or Trump).

Thinking about SIDS

As someone who has (debatably) successfully raised four children to pre-school age and older, I’ve thought a lot about SIDS over the years.  Especially since my wife and I ignored the advice of the famous “back to sleep” campaign and let our babies sleep on their stomachs so that they could sleep more deeply.  In the case of David, we actually had doctor’s permission because of his bad GERD, but with the others, we just went with it because it was quite clear that they slept more soundly on their stomachs than their backs.  And when you’ve got a newborn to take care of, sound sleep is definitely your friend.

In fact, in the NIH official recommendations on the matter, the fact that your baby will sleep more deeply on their stomach is specifically mentioned as a reason not to do it:

Compared with infants who sleep on their backs, infants who sleep on their stomachs:

  • Are less reactive to noise.
  • Experience sudden decreases in blood pressure and heart rate control.
  • Experience less movement, higher arousal thresholds, and longer periods of deep sleep. [emphasis mine] 5,6

Here’s the thing, in reading about SIDS through the years, what seems fairly clear to me, but that they never tell you, is that if you follow all the other safe, sleeping recommendations, i.e., make sure they cannot get their face in bedding, under a blanket, etc.., make sure you don’t fall asleep next to them while you are intoxicated in any way, and others, that your risk of SIDS is going to be really, really low.

Here, the American Academy of Pediatricians provide their broad “safe infant sleeping environment” guidelines:

The recommendations described in this report include supine positioning, use of a firm sleep surface, breastfeeding, room-sharing without bed-sharing, routine immunization, consideration of a pacifier, and avoidance of soft bedding, overheating, and exposure to tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs. [emphasis mine]

Notice that supine sleeping position is just one of a series of safety considerations.  My guess is that if you mess up on all these others (though, I don’t want to get into the bed-sharing debate, but, again, guilty), having your baby on it’s back is definitely protective.  What goes unsaid, though, is that if your baby truly has a safe sleeping environment otherwise, there is probably minimal additional risk from being on their stomach instead of the back.  Of course, what also goes unsaid is that authorities don’t actually trust parents to implement all these other factors, so the “better safe than sorry” approach is to have your baby on its back.

From my reading on the subject, it seems pretty clear that, in one sense, SIDS is suffocation.  The baby fails to get enough oxygen.  Now, if your baby is just buried under a heavy comforter, that’s not so much SIDS as obvious suffocation.  SIDS is the fact that instead of waking up and crying because it cannot breath, the baby’s arousal mechanism does not kick in and it dies from lack of oxygen.  With stomach sleeping and deeper sleep, it is therefore more likely that this arousal mechanism will fail and the baby will die from lack of oxygen when in a low oxygen environment.  Here’s the thing, though, as far as I have been able to read on the matter, this only becomes relevant if for some reason the baby is not getting enough oxygen, e.g., head under a blanket, caught in padding at side of crib, etc.  So, it seems to me that if you can be sure your baby will have a steady supply of oxygen and the sleeping environment is fully safe in that regard, the issue of stomach versus back should likely have minimal impact.

Now, I get why they emphasize back-sleeping so much.  Plenty of parents make mistakes in these other regards and back-sleeping is clearly more forgiving of these other mistakes.  But when the only going for you with your colicky newborn is some nice, sound sleeping, it’s nice to know you can get that on your baby’s stomach.  A little more forthrightness on what SIDS really is and the role that back-sleeping plays would be nice.

Now, let’s be clear, I’m not saying that you should ignore this advice and put your newborn to sleep on its stomach.  I am, saying, however, that I strongly, suspect the practice of stomach sleeping when accompanied by otherwise safe sleeping practices is not nearly as dangerous as made out to be.  And, I suspect, only very marginally more dangerous than back-sleeping.

The best post I have found written on the matter from a statistical perspective is from a parent.  Here’s the key section:

Correlation is not causation: the actual statistics on SIDS

Basically, the statistics in the United States are roughly thus:

— about 1 in 1000-1500 prone-sleeping babies die of SIDS
— about 1 in 2000-3000 supine-sleeping babies die of SIDS

(Black and Native American populations have 2-3 times the rates as whites, but the cause is unknown.  There are also other seemingly random variations that occur in different regions of the US, different seasons of the year, etc.)

No matter what position, 999 of 1000 babies will be just fine.  If we randomly chose a sleeping position for infants, about 1/3 of SIDS deaths would still occur in babies on their backs.


Anyway, the upshot.  If you have a healthy baby that sleeps better on their stomach, chances are very small, this will directly contribute to SIDS.  If you have a healthy baby that sleeps better on their stomach and you follow all the other safe sleeping guidelines, it would seem chances are very, very small, that this would contribute to SIDS.  Just a little perspective.

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