the politics of breastfeeding

Apparently Michelle Obama has inflamed the ire of various conservatives with her support of breastfeeding.

The two main complaints are that women are busy and have enough pressure on them already without this type of coercion, and that Ms. Obama is out of line by suggesting that it would be reasonable for the IRS to credit the cost of breast pumps to women’s tax burden.

Yes, women are busy, and no one should be forced to breastfeed if they don’t want to. But does anyone really believe that milk from cows, meant for cow babies, is better for human babies?

And secondly, the federal government is already subsidizing infant formula for families in poverty already. Isn’t breast milk actually a lot cheaper? Last I checked, it was actually free, if you don’t count the “cost” of having to avoid 5-star spicy dishes at your favorite Thai restaurant and alcohol. And, isn’t it also, in fact, a lot more convenient? No bottles to wash, no need to have constant access to perfect water at the perfect temperature, no cans of formula to lug around on trips short or long?

Of course, Sarah Palin has to weigh in with another well-researched and intelligent response. “No wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody, ‘You better breast-feed your baby,’ ” she said at a speech on Long Island. “’Yeah, you’d better, because the price of milk is so high right now.'” Except, according to the inflation calculator at the United States Department of Labor website, the cost of a gallon of milk, which was $1.69 in 1980, would cost $4.52 today. Is anyone paying $4.52 for a gallon of milk? I pay $3.99 for organic at my local grocery store.

But thank you, Sarah, for raising the level of argument yet again.


14 Responses to “the politics of breastfeeding”

  1. February 18, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I think this goes to how politics are played these days. No common sense, just attack, attack, attack, no matter what. Even if a comment is sensible, or simply neutral, the other side figures out a way to spin it negatively. I hope the rest of America, like myself, is realizing this is just a game being played between the two parties, and there is no real substance being discussed most of the time. There is an imaginary scoreboard with imaginary points being added and subtracted in the minds of the game players. It’s unfortunate because it takes up a lot of time and energy and distracts mightily from the real issues at hand, and takes away from any effort at solving real problems.

    Having had a spirited discussion re: Ms. Palin on your pages before, all I’ll say in that regard is she never seems to miss an opportunity to snark on Michelle Obama. If Michelle Obama is in the news for any reason whatsoever, we can all rest assured there will be a Palin soundbite about it the next day. As if my life weren’t rich enough already.

  2. February 19, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Every time conservatives pretend that they are upset about some simple healthy thing, it reminds me of the stink they raised about the solar panels President Carter put on the roof of the white house — and of how quickly President Reagan had them removed. It’s hard for me to not be depressed about this sort of thing, and preaching to the choir (so to speak) doesn’t help me as much as it used to. But I can’t think of any other way to go but to keep talking, because I care. I think I’ve been particularly down this week, because I stupidly clicked on a blog that I thought might be scary (because the writer’s face is all over the Freshly Pressed blog comments, and I’ve been trying not to pre-judge every conservative, in an effort to remain open.) Then I stupidly commented on something there, to try to politely introduce reason. The vileness that ensued from him, hurt me like a fist clenching inside my chest. In the end, I wished his children strength and good health. I’ve been close to tears for them ever sense.

    I’m sorry to be such a downer here. I was moved by what you and your previous commenter said, and wanted to express my agreement. I actually try to be positive a lot of the time, and do possess a sense of humor. Honest — I swear!

    • February 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      It seems to me that the less carefully-thought-out one’s opinions are, the more vitriolic one’s responses to polite reason.

      I quoted a paragraph from the book “The Lacuna” by Barbra Kingsolver (see it at https://ahmjustsayin.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-same-thing-over-and-over-and-over-again/ if you’re interested) that is addressing politics during the McCarthy era. Unfortunately nothing seems to have changed except everybody seems that much less sympathetic and open to the possibility that their opinion might not actually be the right one.

      I think of myself as quite open-minded, but responded last night quite emotionally to my husband stating a viewpoint I hadn’t thought of, even though he was right; and “defriended” someone on facebook yesterday when he stated his opinion regarding the despicableness of an organization I support, so maybe I’m just open-minded to the opinions of people who think like me. Maybe we’re all just preaching to the choir. Or maybe we’ve all just never learned the art of disagreement; of listening and valuing other’s opinions; of being willing to suspend our own ideas long enough to thoughtfully consider the possible viability of those of others. I know I try, but often fail miserably, although I try to refrain from vileness and insults.

      I wonder if there’s time to teach THAT in school.

      • February 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

        I think we could all use that class! I’m having such a hard time lately knowing that so many people truly believe that the things they want, that take away my right to be healthy both physically and mentally, are perfectly fine. And they are happy to believe that they can and will snuff out my choices.

        I just watched one of the documentaries about past presidents on PBS (the one about Reagan.) A scientist (I think) who had tried to discuss the problem with nuclear weapons with him, described the feeling she had when she left the meeting as a painful kind of shock that left her feeling weak and useless against his kind of refusal to see. That’s how I feel when I pay attention to what the other side is saying and doing, which of course we should, because it’s impossible to counter what we don’t see. I guess we have to figure out how to be okay despite “the same thing over and over and over again.”

    • February 21, 2011 at 12:37 am

      So sorry that happened to you. I’ve responded in threads when I knew my opinion would be in the minority (on a Freshly Pressed blog) and got reamed, myself. And this was a blog about child rearing! I think in some respect it’s the nature of blogs, being “anonymous”, being able to shout people down who differ if there are a lot of others who support your opinion

      I used to work at a law firm on a help desk, and found the the rudest and most abusive people were those I hadn’t met. I also trained, and once they took my class those people were never rude on the phone to me again. Facelessness seems to give us some sort of carte blanche to treat people abominably.

      Please don’t take some anonymous person’s comments to heart. There’s no reason to punish yourself — you gave an opinion, tried to open up a dialogue, and it didn’t work. That’s got to have happened to all of us hundreds if not thousands of times. If there was anything to be learned from the encounter (do not click on this guy!) learn it and move on.

      Women tend to blame themselves (sociological studies prove this). Men tend to blame the other person. Take a note from a guy and choose to blame the *sshole who was vile, instead of yourself.

      Once when I was very upset about something and going on about it to a friend, she said, “You’re upset because you can’t control it.” Voila. The upset left me, the poison drained out. Why? Because she was right and I knew it. You couldn’t control that situation and it got out of hand. Use your sense of humor (a powerful commodity for healing) and let it go.

      • February 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

        Thanks for your support! I hear you. And yes, it is the lack of control that bothers me. When the other person votes, they are voting with the belief that “some people are better than others” and that “there is no right to eat organic food.” This kind of lack of control makes me very afraid. I’m trying to become a person who can release that fear out of myself instead of pushing it down inside. I’m still learning.

    • 7 guardo
      February 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm

      I wish you had been a little more specific about that conservative blog. Getting in on a discussion like that is just what I need to perk up my week.

      • February 24, 2011 at 12:51 am

        If your politics are connected to having an open heart and caring about the welfare of others as well as yourself, you may not want to be insulted by J Roycroft. He doesn’t discuss; he tells you how unintelligent you are. His face can be found in just about any Freshly Pressed blog’s comments section or opposite their Like button, and you just have to click on his name to be transported to his unpleasant blog. Unfortunately, I think he is so unbalanced that he would love the attention that an argument would bring. All he seems to care about are his kids and his “beautiful young wife.” If you do engage him, I hope you are much smarter than I am, and that he’s the one who comes out of the encounter with the stomach ache. I feel compelled to say, Save yourself! If not, then at least, good luck.

  3. February 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I agree completely with what Julee said…or what I think she said anyway! That is, isn’t it a pity that the essence of politics is not achieving the best for the community, it’s all about opposing the position of the other side. The politicians don’t come to a well reasoned and thoughtful position on a given issue, they see what the other party (or in this case, people associated with the other party) are saying, and say something contradictory, critical, dismissive or abusive in relation to that issue. I doubt whether this approach achieves a good policy or achieves a good harmonious society.

  4. 11 guardo
    February 24, 2011 at 8:29 am


    Thanks for your concern for my tummy; I appreciate it. I just read seven or eight posts of the “Roycroft Report” (good grief). I don’t think I have much to say to this person. As you note, he is not interested in conversation of any kind. Communication for him is a one-way proposition: he tells you what he thinks; you listen and nod, or else!

    He’s just a little man who hasn’t done very well, and is angry about it. But now that he has completed his “divorce from the off spring of Satan” (seriously), things are looking up. As well, he has learned how to balance his checkbook, thanks to the genius of his new wife, and, undoubtedly following several weeks of isolation and introspection atop some local mountain, has determined the following: “Hey, if you are married, here is a piece of advice – Both you and your spouse need to share in the finances of your home.” Now, with this level of insight on offer, I think we should all follow his blog, but I’m going to keep my reactions to myself.

    • February 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      Thank you so much for making me laugh about this tiny cretin! I didn’t think it was possible, but I really needed it. Here’s to your strong stomach, and your great sense of humor!

      • 13 guardo
        February 24, 2011 at 4:02 pm

        I was going to add that I don’t think that you ought to take to heart being yelled at by people like this. I think you’ll find that those who lack thoughtful or coherent arguments do the most shouting. It’s a smokescreen, of course. It is also clear that the most insecure people tend to be the nastiest. So just smile, be thankful that you have the capacity to think and to reason, and move on.

      • February 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

        I hear you, Guardo, and I do try to ignore these people and keep my spirits up. I think my pain is more about the fact that there are so many of these people out there who, as voters, are trying to force their selfishness and closed-mindednesss onto us all. It’s nice to hear your kind words. Thanks!

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