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Dems push for Warren’s recess appointment

Regulatory capture by the financial services industry is so pervasive, I don’t know that Warren would even be able to get much done. Certainly, she’d be undermined within the agency. But it would be nice to see someone try to protect consumers, wouldn’t it? You can sign CAF’s petition here:

With Senate Republicans committed to blocking all potential directors of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, congressional Democrats are pressing President Obama to accept reality and offer Elizabeth Warren a recess appointment to head the agency she conceived of.

“Regretfully, Republicans in the Senate have now made it clear that they oppose reform,” reads a letter from House Democrats that will be delivered to President Obama.

They have vowed that they will not allow consideration of any nominee to head the CFPB until the bureau is weakened. They would rather hold your appointment hostage and obstruct the process than make sure consumers have a strong advocate on their side.Since Republican Senators have said that no one is acceptable unless the law is weakened, we would urge you to nominate Professor Warren as the CFPB’s first Director anyway.

If Republicans in the Senate indeed refuse to consider her, we request that you use your constitutional authority to make her a recess appointment.

The letter was authored by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Brad Miller (D-NC), who are collecting signatures from their colleagues.

The CFPB was created as part of the recently enacted Wall Street reform bill, over significant opposition from Republicans and influential industry players, to protect consumers from predatory financial practices. President Obama appointed Warren to stand up the agency in an advisory capacity ahead of the 2010 election. But it will soon migrate from the Treasury Department to be housed within the Federal Reserve, and will need Senate-confirmed director to officially run the show. Because of objections from Republicans, financial services lobbyists, and even some Democrats, Warren was thought to be unconfirmable, and thus not a likely candidate for the nomination.

However, Senate Republicans recently gave Obama a way out. Almost every one of them signed a lettervowing to block any nominee — even a Republican one — until Democrats agreed to weaken the bureau by statute.

Candidate

I predicted this when he cut his mullet last year!

Home birth increasing

They miss the obvious here: Some women are giving birth at home because they don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to pay cash up front for a delivery. That was true back in the 1970s, when I apprenticed as a lay midwife, and it’s even more true now.

There’s no question that home delivery is much cheaper, and in low-risk births, just as safe when you have a qualified midwife. (For one thing, you don’t pick up those antibiotic-resistant superbugs in your own home.) The medical restraints of hospital births can trigger a cascade of complications and interventions that might account for the U.S.’s disgraceful 32 percent C-section rate. The standard line is that American doctors are jumping the gun to avoid legal liabilities, but I think there’s more to it than that: C-sections have become so commonly used that most medical students don’t ever learn non-surgical alternatives to managing a complication, and thus don’t know any other way to treat them.

The argument against home birth is the risk. But why are our infant and mortality rates so bad? We have the worst statistics in the developed world. You can’t blame that on home delivery.

The other factor in choosing home delivery is that the quality of prenatal care is usually much higher, since midwives are famously reluctant to chance a high-risk home delivery.

Consider the typical profit-driven OB-GYN “assembly line” visit of 20 minutes or so. My visit with my lay midwife was more likely to last a couple of hours, including detailed questions about my protein intake, any unusual symptoms that might indicate nutritional deficiencies, blood pressure sitting and standing, and internal and external examinations. Midwives also recommend positions to encourage a breech baby to flip. (My midwife diagnosed twins in the last trimester that the woman’s OB-GYN had missed. Just sayin’!)

So instead of moaning and wringing their hands as they’ve been doing for decades now, it might make more sense for ACOG to offer more affordable – and safe – alternatives to women. In England, it used to be that a low-risk woman in labor was provided with a midwife or doctor to attend her (the UK has since moved toward the American model of technology-controlled birth) with an ambulance on call outside her home.

Oh, and by the way? Any kind of universal health care should include supported home birth as an option, because it helps control costs. Hospital-based maternity services are a very lucrative revenue stream.

ATLANTA – Home births rose 20 percent over four years, government figures show, reflecting what experts say is a small subculture among white women toward natural birth.

Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. births occur at home. But the proportion is clearly going up, study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. The new figures are for 2004 to 2008. Home births had been declining from 1990 to 2004.

The increase was driven by white women — 1 in 98 had their babies at home in 2008, the most recent year for which the statistics were available.

[...] The increase is notable because doctors groups have been increasingly vocal about opposing home births, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has for years warned against home births, arguing they can be unsafe, especially if the mother has high-risk medical conditions, if the attendant is inadequately trained or if there’s no quick way to get mother and child to a hospital if something goes awry.

Doctor participation in home births declined by 38 percent from 2004 to 2008. The percentage of home births attended by certified midwives and nurse-midwives grew, meanwhile.

Las Vegas

Looks a lot like the new Detroit.

Brave, brave Sir Robin

Scout Prime at First Draft with the news that the Wisconsin Republican majority leader walked out of a press conference because members of the public were there. Which, by the way, also tells you a little something about politicians’ comfort level with the press, knowing they’re so rarely challenged:

Republicans walked out of their own presser when the public showed up and one person asked a question.

Majority leader Sen. Fitzgerald stated: “I’m not sure who’s in the room right now, if it’s all credentialed media or not.”

Audience member: “This event is open to the public, sir.”

Fitzgerald: “Yeah, I’m concerned about that, I guess.”

They then left. (added-when another question was asked)

Damon Terrell took the podium to speak and was eventually led out by police. C.J. Terrell imediately took to the podium to speak and was also taken away. Both were given disorderly conduct citations.

New Zealand

Mass penguin deaths.

Chantix

Oh, look – 150 completed suicides from Chantix users “improperly” reported to the FDA!

I’ll say this again: If your doctor prescribes a new drug (and really, whenever possible, you should ask for a drug that’s at least 10 years old), go online and find the bulletin boards where users report the side effects they experience. Those communities were reporting problems with Chantix long before the medical community figured it out.

It’s important, however, that you read all the comments. When you read the rest, you often find the side effects go away in a few weeks, or that a drug interaction was responsible. Some people (like me!) have strong reactions to just about any drug, and you have to use common sense.

The kinds of stories coming out about Chantix were unusual and scary. Someone should have noticed sooner.

You don’t have to cry

Crosby Stills Nash and Young:

‘Do you know who I am?’

Yeah, you’re an asshole:

HARRISBURG – Gov. Corbett’s newly minted secretary of health likes his eggs fresh off the grill – very fresh.

Diner owner Richard Hanna says he found that out the hard way.

Hanna says that just weeks after Corbett tapped Eli N. Avila to serve as the state’s top health official, Avila walked into Hanna’s restaurant opposite the Capitol, ordered an egg sandwich breakfast, and angrily complained that it wasn’t fresh enough.

What followed, Hanna says, was a testy exchange that culminated with Avila’s shouting, “Do you know who I am? I am the secretary of health!”

A month or so later, a city health inspector descended on the restaurant, Roxy’s Cafe.

A Harrisburg city spokesman confirmed Thursday that the visit was triggered by a complaint from the state Health Department – about eggs, no less.

Avila, who came to Pennsylvania from New York and received state Senate confirmation two weeks ago, declined a request for an interview for this article.

Instead, his office e-mailed this statement, saying the incident was in January: “Secretary Avila went to Roxy’s . . . and noticed what he believed were unsanitary cooking conditions. As the secretary of health, he felt it was his duty to report this incident to the city of Harrisburg.”

Go read the rest of the story to learn what really happened. Asshole.

Assault reported

This was smart. This woman is a lot more likely to get a real investigation this way than by reporting it to the police:

In a tear-filled disclosure, a Lower Merion woman took the lectern last night at a township commissioners meeting to allege she was stalked and sexually asssaulted by a a Lower Merion police officer in 2010.

Speaking in a shaky voice during the public comment period, the 25-year-old woman alleged that the patrolman stalked her over a period of a month by sitting in a patrol car in a parking lot beneath her window.

“He saw me naked,” said the woman, whose identity is being withheld by the Inquirer. “Because of this, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

Further, she told the commissioners, when she reported the police officer to the township, she was “illegally detained by one of his friends.”

“It was a violation of my rights,” said the woman. “It took a lot of courage for me to come forward. I know I’m not the first, and I know I’m not the last. You guys can make that decision.”

The woman said the matter had been troubling her “for over a year.” She told the commissioners she came forward because she was looking for “justice, not money.”

“I just don’t want this to happen to another girl,” the woman said.

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