The Other Ty Cobb

So, it’s confusing because we have a Democratic Ty Cobb in the State House and now another Ty Cobb is running in a different district and so when someone says something like, “Oh my god, did you see Ty Cobb’s website?!” you have to discern which Ty Cobb it is.

If I had my way, I would call the Ty Cobb we have now a conservative Democrat and the Ty Cobb we are surely about to have a Republican. But you know, you start saying snarky stuff like that and someone is going to start lecturing you about how every district in Tennessee is so very different than every other district and we have to shape our message to reach those voters in each district who are, did I mention, so very different and we city folks simply cannot understand, so please leave it to the folks who know these things to figure out. Seriously, by the time they get done with the lecture, you will be lolling in your chair like a petulant teenager, staring at the ceiling obsessing over what would happen if a piece of plaster fell in your eye right then.  In fact, you may secretly be praying for that plaster to fall in your eye, so that you have a legitimate excuse to run out of the room screaming.

But let’s be honest, the line between conservative Democrat and actual motherfucking Republican in Democrat’s clothing probably falls between the two Ty Cobbs.

So, let us turn our attention to the other Ty Cobb.

Ty Cobb, a conservative Democrat, was born and raised in Bedford County where he attended Shelbyville Central High School. Cobb then attended Martin Methodist College where he was a pitcher on their baseball team.

A commonsense conservative, Ty Cobb is a hunter, fisherman, trail rider, sportsman, and a carry permit holder. He is pro-life and a card carrying member of the NRA.

Well, well, well.


You know what? If this Cobb gets in, I think we hold him to it.  It’s time to hold these conservative “pro-life” Democrats to a standard of actually improving the life-spans of people in Tennessee. Now, lots of people in Tennessee die needlessly. One only has to take a look at the latest women’s health report card to see that, if you’re a woman in Tennessee, you and your children are in grave danger and may not get out of this state alive (or at the end of a long life).

But babies are cute.  And who wants to see cute babies die?  And yet, our infant mortality rate is abysmal.

It’s time to start holding these “pro-life” folks to their pro-life standards. We need to ask them, at every turn, what they’re going to do to lower infant mortality rates in this state.  And if they aren’t going to do anything, we need to start letting their constituents know that they’re baby killers.

17 thoughts on “The Other Ty Cobb

  1. Holy cow. That is probably one of the most upsetting things I’ve read in a long time, everything from how they target girls even before they’re pregnant to how they try to steal babies from dads who want them.

    Man, I’d love to see what happens when these pro-adoption loons (not that all pro-adoption people are loons, please read the story) and the MRA folks take each other on.

    I honestly cannot believe that, if a child is not the result of rape, that a father doesn’t have the right of first refusal in an adoption situation. I find that stunning.

    There’s got to be a way to write legislation that would protect women from being forced to give their rapist’s baby to their rapist while also protecting a man’s ability to take custody of his own kid if the woman doesn’t want custody.

  2. Your “challenge” to pro-lifers assumes that there is some magic bullet program that, if only it were funded, would reduce infant mortality.

    There is no such thing. The causes of infant mortality are many and varied. There’s no evidence that throwing money at the problem would improve outcomes.

  3. And yet, we live in a state with one of the country’s highest infant mortality rates. You’re saying there’s nothing we can do? That if 10 babies die in the next ten days and we have a way to save three of them, it’s not worth it? Just let them die, because it’s too complex?

    Other states have found ways.

    And our politicians crow on about and get elected because they’re pro-life. Why don’t the lives of these babies deserve to be fought for?

  4. Hmm. I work with NICU families and HR OB moms, and the causes of high infant mortality are extremely variable.

    We see girls whose bodies are too young to be successful in carrying babies to term (sometimes, maybe often, impregnated by a relative or their own mom’s boyfriend). We see (mostly) young women having multiple pregnancies by choice (their words) without allowing their bodies to recover before getting pregnant again. We see older women having multiple miscarriages in their quest to give birth. We see women who abuse substances. We see patients who come in at 7 months gestation with no prior prenatal care. And then there are the cases where there is simply no known reason.

    The US defines live birth differently from other countries, which affects comparative infant mortality rates worldwide, though I’m not sure if it varies from state to state.

    When you say “other states have found ways”, could you be specific? Exactly what has been done that works? I’m not trying to be contentious here – I would like information.

    Also, the women’s health report card is disturbing regarding the high rate of STD’s. Has anyone brought up the personal responsibility/behavioral aspect of that component? Again, I’m trying to clarify what kind of program can help with that issue.

  5. I can be very specific. A state-wide sexual health and education curriculum in schools that discusses human sexuality in more than “don’t stop wait” terms, that starts in elementary school, taught by teachers who have been trained in the curriculum by state funding. A program whereby adolescents can receive birth control at their middle/high school (because you want to drop the rate of too young kids getting pregnant, and kids will have sex). A state pro-condom campaign, placed in settings like buses and commuter trains, with a state worker sitting at a kiosk in the bus or train station to give them out and give sexual health information. Providing low-cost accessible prenatal health care and nutrition programs, using a healthmobile to get to the areas where women have poor access to public transportation or limited ability to get themselves to the doctor.

    If one wants to make healthy babies (the so-called best practices), there are ways to do so and the state/fed government can do good work. However, if you want to take the personal responsibility (slut shaming) route, the very methodologies that work will sound like they are letting the bad girls get off (so’s to speak). It’s not that there’s nothing to be done, it’s that the state lacks the will to do it because collectively, it’s decided that it’s more socially beneficial to sit in the judgment seat than it is to take steps to improve the infant survival rate.

  6. I ran across this site while I was doing some research for my new writing gig. It’s similar to the women’s health report card, but focused on children exclusively and it has a lot of interesting statistics related to children.

    They have an excellent mapping feature so you can compare statistics across the country or across the state. Here’s a map of infant death rates by TN county: (sorry, don’t know how to embed the links)

    It’s a very interesting map. All of the highest rates are very rural counties, but all of the lowest rates are also very rural. The urban parts of the state tend to fall in the middle.

    If anyone is interested, here’s the page for all the TN stats. They rank TN 46 out of 50 for children’s well being.

    And here’s my own story about it:

  7. Wow, W., I could stare at that infant mortality map a long time. I have to admit, I thought that Shelby and Davidson county would be higher, but it’s sobering to see that we have counties in this state where the infant mortality rate is up above 20 per 1,000. A Palestinian baby is more likely to make it to its first birthday than babies in some parts of our state.


    Anyway, Bridgett, thank you for engaging tnxplant, because I’m still sitting here stunned wondering how one makes it through the day without seeing all of the ways we heap “It’s all your fault” on women. In this state, our policy is always to blame the women and then, when that fails, to throw up our hands and act like there’s just nothing we can do, that if other people in other parts of the country have it better than us, that’s just our shitty luck and a mystery as to why that is.

    And that a nurse would espouse that just goes to show you what a tough row to hoe to actually do anything about infant mortality we have.

    When even the medical professionals are all “Well, we could just have some personal responsibility around here, there wouldn’t be all these dead babies,” it’s pretty disheartening.

    One wonders, is there a threshold for how guilty a mom has to feel that her baby is dead before we feel sympathy and not disdain?

  8. Good grief. Yes, thanks to Bridgett. I’ll just be over here hoping that if I ever have a baby in the NICU or a baby who dies, the people who are supposed to be working with me aren’t secretly muttering about how awful and stupid and irresponsible I am. And all the other parents there, through individual faults of their own, not any systemic lack of access and education or other barriers. Nope, if infant mortality is high, it *must* be the stupidity of Lots and Lots of Individual Women Who Don’t Care.

  9. First of all, thank you, Bridget for your detailed and well thought out response. I asked for information and you gave it.

    Aunt B, on the other hand, what in the world?

    ‘When even the medical professionals are all “Well, we could just have some personal responsibility around here, there wouldn’t be all these dead babies,” it’s pretty disheartening.’

    I can take criticism, but your outright lies about what I wrote are beyond the pale.

    I never said I was a nurse. You have wrongly inferred that. I am genuinely wanting to get information (again, thanks Bridget), and you are creating falsehoods from my comments.

    I never said “it’s all your fault”. I never said that personal responsibility equals no dead babies. I am asking questions. My question, not statement, about personal responsibility is regarding STD’s, not infant mortality.

    Again, I asked for information. I am genuinely interested in what works. I don’t know how else to say that. My descriptions of difficulties with pregnancies are facts from first hand observation, not an attempt to judge anyone.

    I have no idea how you could possibly think that you know what my emotions are for women whose babies have died. I remember them all with sadness for what might have been. I have shed many tears over the years, and I have not disdained or passed judgment on them. What would be the point of that?

    I think, however, that you are very quick to judge me and misrepresent my intent when you don’t have any idea what it is.

  10. tnxplant, I may have misinterpreted your words – I read the list of reasons as “things women are doing that make infant mortality all their fault.” It did read that way to me – as “some women did this, and some women did this, and some women did this.” Perhaps a lot of blaming individual women is not what you intended? If so, my apologies.

  11. tnxplant, there are many other things that might be done if we were ready to think systemically about the challenge of improving the welfare of the commonwealth and doing some collective heavy lifting to improve quality of life for our citizens. For example, if you improve graduation rates for girls (and to a lesser extent, for boys), you reduce teen pregnancy. Likewise, if you amp up funding for two-year degrees at community colleges, you further cut into youth pregnancy numbers (with the side benefit of increasing the state’s ability to compete in attracting new jobs and providing men and women a way of providing better for the families they do eventually have). As the unemployment rate drops for men 18-24 with no college education, the pregnancy rate goes down (as does the number of people on state supplemental aid).

    This is an area where it really would pay to think holistically about community health. Something as simple as holding farmers markets in urban neighborhoods, so families can actually buy cheap fresh produce in season, makes a big difference in improving overall health and changing those troubling statistics about infant mortality.

  12. tnxplant, I think you need to take to heart that, if three other people misinterpreted what you said, then the fault is not that we are poor readers. If you didn’t intend to be hostile, I certainly apologize.

  13. tnxplant, perhaps your words were misinterpreted so reflexively because ‘personal responsibility’ is usually deployed as a well-worn political dog whistle for “I’m okay, so fuck them.” It is apparent that you didn’t intend it that way, but in the context of such emotionally charged issues, well, you see how it can sometimes go. I admit that I saw it toward the end of your comment and my first reaction was “WTF?!”

    But then I saw that your question about personal responsibility and behavior fit right into Bridgett’s ideas; people can better take responsibility for their own behavior when they have the education and resources with which to do so.

    This reminds me of something I was carping about yesterday. When it comes to approaching these problems, I believe we first have to assess our values and our definitions of community. Are we in this together, or can we survive and thrive with a more-or-less ‘everyone for him- or herself’ approach? My belief is that the latter is what has created this situation (the high infant mortality rate) and any solutions must come from an embrace of the former. Some solutions can be achieved at the personal level, but many will have to come through the government. So that means we eventually have to ask ourselves if we see government as an extension or function of community (you know, ‘of, by, and for the people’), or as a barely necessary evil that should be starved and drowned in the bathtub.

  14. secretly muttering about how awful and stupid and irresponsible I am
    There’s a large element of that toward multiple births. Multiple birth infants are so much more likely to be born early and low weight and need lots more resources than a single birth baby so a lot of people think that couples who use fertility treatments and end up with multiples are being irresponsible.

    I don’t know that anyone in the health care profession feels that way, but there’s definitely an element of ‘you brought it on yourself’ from regular people. And these days most people assume you had fertility treatments if you have multiples. Total strangers have asked us what we had done.

    Ontario is considering covering in-vitro fertilization as part of their fertility treatments be covered by their public health insurance. They think it will cut down on resources used up by multiple births. Supposedly people who pay their own way decide to transfer in as many fetuses at a time as possible to increase their odds because they don’t want to pay to try again. So the thinking is that if couples aren’t paying out of pocket they’ll only transfer one fetus at a time and that will cut down on all those evil multiple births sucking up hospital resources and health care dollars.

    They think they can save $400-500 million that way.

  15. Looking at the infant mortality map and changing years, I think the really high values are probably artifacts. I was looking at Grundy/Sequatchie County, which I know well. I don’t think either has a hospital, or a GP who regularly delivers in-office, and I suspect that the numbers are based on birthplace rather than residence. So it’s not 20/1000–it’s 50 births, 1 death (and then other years, 50 births 0 deaths). Look at Sequatchie County–it’s 0 one year, 20 one year.

  16. Looks like about 200 kids are born in Grundy County each year. (958 kids under the age of five, distributed relatively equally). Not to say that your point about the overall n being small isn’t well-taken, but I think it’s bigger than you state.

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