Tales of the Nanny State: taxing your dessert, timing your TV watching

February 20, 2015
I said, no fun allowed!

I said, no fun allowed!

Because what Americans are yearning for right now is even more government intrusion into their daily lives:

The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released its far-reaching 571-page report of recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thursday, which detailed its plans to “transform the food system.”

The report is open for public comment for 45 days, and will be used as the basis by the government agencies to develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are used as the basis for government food assistance programs, nutrition education efforts, and for making “decisions about national health objectives.”

DGAC proposed a variety of solutions to address obesity, and its promotion of what it calls the “culture of health.”

“The persistent high levels of overweight and obesity require urgent population- and individual-level strategies across multiple settings, including health care, communities, schools, worksites, and families,” they said.

And if that isn’t enough, DGAC wants to monitor your TV watching — for your own good, of course:

The amount of sedentary time Americans spend in front of computers and TV sets is also a concern to the federal panel.

They recommended “coaching or counseling sessions,” “peer-based social support,” and “electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies” as a way to limit screen time.

The screen-time recommendations came from The Community Guide, a group affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reviewed studies that used an “electronic monitoring device to limit screen time” of teenagers.

Progressive America — where TV watches you!

Really, if these bureaucratic scolds wanted to annoy people so much they would elect even more small-government conservatives who would then take a meat ax to the bureaucracy, they couldn’t find a better way to go about it. “Sin taxes” are already so popular with the public.

I encourage them to press on.


What the hell is wrong with New Jersey prosecutors? #2A

February 18, 2015
Citizen! Have I got a job for you!

Good job, New Jersey!

Here’s the situation in brief: Gordon van Gilder is a 72-year old retired English teacher who lives in New Jersey. He also happens to have a hobby collecting 18th century memorabilia: coins, furniture, etc. Along came the opportunity to buy an antique 18th-century pistol. No bullets or powder, just the pistol. He and a friend drove to Pennsylvania to get it and then, on the way back, they were stopped by New Jersey police. Mr. Van Gilder cooperatively told the officer of the weapon in the glove box, and the officer promptly wanted to arrest him for violating New Jersey gun laws — for an antique pistol that wasn’t working. A superior talked some sense into the officer and told him to return the firearm and let the two men go. You’d think that would be the end of it, right?

Per Charles Cooke, think again:

The officer did as he was told, and gave the pistol back. The next morning, however, he came back — “with three cars and three or four sheriffs.” Van Gilders says, “He told me, ‘I should have arrested you last night.’” So he did. “They led me away in handcuffs” and, at the station, “chained me by my hands and feet to a cold stainless-steel bench.”

“I’ve never been handcuffed in my life — or arrested, even,” Van Gilder explains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed. The only prisoner there was myself: a 72-year-old English teacher. I was really ashamed.”

Before long, Van Gilder had been charged and the gun had been taken away for “ballistics testing,” almost certainly never to be returned. (That the department believes that a ballistics test on a flintlock pistol can be useful should give you some indication of who we’re dealing with here.) “They’ve angered me,” Van Gilder concedes. “But technically, by New Jersey’s law, the officer was probably right.”

The officer may have been right, but the law that officious jerk was enforcing is an ass. Now Mr. Van Gilder is facing a possible ten-year sentence with a minimum of 3.5 years without parole.

Remember the Obama administration’s risible claim that it had “prosecutorial discretion” to not enforce immigration law over a whole class of people? That was bunk, but here is a case where discretion should have been applied by by New Jersey authorities to refuse to prosecute a case that was clearly never contemplated under the state’s gun laws. Leave aside the fact that those laws violate Mr. Van Gilder’s Second Amendment rights, the very idea of humiliating him and then facing him with mandatory jail time over an antique pistol the federal government doesn’t even regard as a weapon is infuriating.

More Cooke:

Earlier this week, the lawyers’ group blog Popehat noted caustically that “none of the New Jersey founders who ratified the Constitution when this pistol was crafted would have questioned the man’s right to keep it.” This is indisputably true. Indeed, the news that an arthritic septuagenarian retiree had been tied to a bench for a non-violent crime would presumably have shocked them to the core. But, for all that their words live on, those leaders are dead, and we must look now to the ones that we have today. Where the hell are they? Where are the voices crying out for a change in the rules, and for a restoration of basic American liberties? And above all, where is the fearless Chris Christie — a man who seems to want to be president of the United States — when one of his constituents is being harassed by the state?

That’s a darned fine question, and I’d be very interested in would-be President Christie’s answer.

PS: As Cooke’s editors point out, you can help out with Mr. Van Gilder’s defense here.

PPS: And this isn’t the first time New Jersey prosecutors have tried to curb-stomp the Second Amendment.


American political scientists downgrade our fourth-greatest president ever

February 17, 2015
"Tell me you love me!"

“Tell me you love me!”

Via The Washington Examiner, the results of this survey should have Obama running to his mirror for reassurance:

According to a Brookings Institution survey of American Political Science Association scholars, they put Obama on the worst, not best, list by a margin of nearly three-to-one. Here’s how Brookings wrote it: “Those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin.”

And, the friendly think tank added, “nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated.”

Overall, Brookings said, “Few think of Obama as an excellent president, while many more rate his presidency quite low, with the bulk of experts appearing to give him a passing grade but not one that would get him on the Dean’s list.”

The survey was sent to 391 members of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents & Executive Politics section, the premier organization of experts of the American presidency, and 162 participated online.

First, let’s note that Brookings is not what one would call a “conservative” institution, so, if they have any bias, it likely runs in the other direction. Second, the APSA itself has a very liberal bent, so we can imagine that while it hurt to ding Obama, some of that criticism probably came from the Left, disappointed that he hasn’t gone far enough. Regardless, it’s a far cry from the fawning euphoria felt by those who greeted him as the second coming of FDR and those halcyon days when he was granted a Nobel peace Prize before he had done anything. (1)

Then again, FDR’s economic policies were largely a failure, so maybe the comparison was apt, after all.

Still, “the worst” by a 3-1 margin? There can be only one explanation: racism.

Don’t they know he’s the fourth-greatest president, ever?

Footnote:
(1) Then again, that is likely to be remembered as the high point of his administration….

UPDATE: Changed the headline from the original, since, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed tendentious.


Should Government Regulators Make the Internet More Like the Post Office or DMV?

February 15, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’ll take Option C, “neither.”

Originally posted on International Liberty:

The Internet has made all of our lives better, in part because there’s been an accidental policy of benign neglect from Washington.

But that’s about to change.

Even though our economy already is burdened by record amounts of regulation and red tape, the FCC is pushing forward with a plan to turn the Internet into a moss-covered public utility.

This almost leaves me at a loss for words. It’s truly remarkable – in a bad way – that the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission think that the Internet can be improved by a big dose of 1930s-era regulation and control.

My Cato colleague, Jim Harper, summarized the issue last month.

Do you want your Internet service provider to operate like the water company or the electric company?… the FCC has sought for years now to regulate broadband Internet service providers…like it used to regulate AT&T, with government…

View original 637 more words


The Democrat-Media complex is scared to death of Governor Walker

February 12, 2015
Fear him.

Fear him.

Via Michael Walsh, the MSM and their progressive clients have just tipped their hands:

Scott Walker was gone. Dropped out. And in the spring of his senior year.

In 1990, that news stunned his friends at Marquette University. Walker, the campus’s suit-wearing, Reagan-loving politico — who enjoyed the place so much that he had run for student body president — had left without graduating.

To most of the Class of 1990 — and, later, to Wisconsin’s political establishment — Walker’s decision to quit college has been a lingering mystery.

Not even his friends at Marquette were entirely sure why he never finished. Some had heard that a parent had fallen ill, or maybe there was some financial strain. Others thought he had simply had enough of school.

Get that? There’s something wrong about Scott Walker: he quit school, he wasn’t a good student, he was politically ambitious, and –my favorite– he may be religious:

Walker lost, 1,245 votes to 927. His friends say he handled it with grace, telling them the loss just meant that God had another plan.

What you see there is a liberal “dog whistle, meant to signal like-minded progressives that Walker’s “not one of us.” He’s one of “those people” — the religious. Who knows what other frightening and primitive things he might believe? OMG!! RUN FOR THE HILLS! VOTE DEMOCRATIC OR WE’LL ALL HAVE TO GO TO BINGO NIGHT!!! AAIIEE!!!!!

Does anyone else besides me see nothing noteworthy in the son of a Baptist minister dealing with his electoral defeat in a Christian manner? The. Horror.

Read the whole Post article, then read Walsh for its deconstruction. He’s spot on when he writes:

To the Kredentialed Klass, a college degree — preferably from an Ivy League school — is the sine qua non of life itself. Sure, a couple of very prominent media personalities lack one themselves, including the recently defenestrated Brian Williams; the current host of Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, didn’t graduate from college, either. But no matter: this is the presidency we’re talking about!

The effrontery of this rube, thinking he can rise from Flyover Country to join Our Betters on the East Coast!

Walsh brings up the example of Mitt Romney and how the MSM had to dig into his high school days to find anything bad about him, but I think there’s a better example: Sarah Palin. Remember the reaction from when John McCain introduced her as his running mate to her amazing speech at the Republican convention? The Democrats and the media elites (but I repeat myself) were beside themselves with fear and, once they had stopped wetting themselves, they set out to do everything they could to destroy her: mock her intelligence, her middle class origins, and even the way she speaks; set hundreds of reporters dumpster-diving through her records, looking for anything little thing that could be spun against her; get Alaska allies to file bogus ethics charges one after the other; and even question whether her Down-syndrome child was really hers. They were scared to death she could beat them, and so they set out to find anything they could to destroy her. And while they didn’t find anything, the constant drumbeat of accusation and innuendo itself did its work: she was forever tarred as a future candidate. (1)

Then there’s the “curious incident of the dog in the night-time,” the one that didn’t bark. For all that digging into Palin, Romney, and now Walker’s distant past –looking for anything!– let’s recall how closely the media in 2008 and 2012 looked into Barack Obama’s background.

Oh, you’re back already. Yep. The dog did nothing in the night-time. Almost no one in the MSM  looked more than superficially into Obama’s family, his boyhood in Hawaii, his time at Occidental and Columbia, his law school years at Harvard, his years as a community organizer or his record as a state senator. Not into his actions or the people he associated with. Nothing. (2)

Good doggie. You just lie there and stay asleep. You’ll know what to do when a Republican shows up.

Walsh (and before him Rush Limbaugh) is right: the Democrats and their allies in the media will always tell you whom they fear most. Right now, Governor Scott Walker scares the tar out of them.

With good reason.

Footnote:
(1) Yes, I know: “She resigned!” And that stained her image, too. No doubt. But, without going into a long explanation, I think a whole lot of people have no idea what they’re talking about in this case.
(2) There are good books about Obama’s background, but they came out either too late for the 2008 election (and were overwhelmed by the financial panic) or years later and were mostly read by a specialized audience. Three I’ll recommend are The Case Against Barack Obama, The Communist, and Radical in Chief. I reviewed the latter two here and here.


Truth-telling on race, politics, and America, courtesy of @BobbyJindal

February 9, 2015
x

Wait. He’s not White?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is on my short-list (1) of presidential candidates, and his recent statements on race and politics in the wake of a silly “controversy” over a portrait that painted him with very light skin:

But in an interview with reporters during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Monday, Jindal rejected the premise that Americans should be defined by race — for any reason, politics included.

“You mean I’m not white? I’m shocked at this revelation,” Jindal, 43, said sarcastically upon being asked about a portrait that reportedly made him appear Caucasian. “I will give you permission in every picture you run of me, every story you run about me, you have my permission to put a disclaimer, to put a note that, I’m not white.”

“I think this whole thing is silly. I think the left is obsessed with race. I think that the reality is, one of the dumbest ways we divide people is by skin color,” Jindal continued. “We’re all Americans, and one of the great things — one of the great aspects of our country is that we’ve been a melting pot, it shouldn’t matter whether you came here five minutes ago or 100 years ago, we’re all Americans and that’s the important thing.”

Spot on, both about the Left’s mania over race and on the nature of the United States. The Hill has more on Jindal’s views on Democratic politics:

Jindal on Monday accused liberals of seeking to make an issue of his race.

“I think the left is devoid of ideas, and unfortunately this is what they’ve resorted to – name-calling, going back to dividing people by the color of their skin,” he said. “This is nonsense.”

Again, right on the money. Progressivism (2) is a bankrupt ideology that’s failing even as it achieved its greatest electoral victories in decades in 2008. It has nothing to offer anyone except perpetual victimhood and dependency on government. So all they’re left with is the politics of division, resentment, and envy, as the Community Organizer in Chief shows again and again. Unable to offer good government, genuine opportunity, and real prosperity, they have to divide people into groups and set them against each other. And, given America’s history, race is the quickest, easiest, and dirtiest way to do it.

Like the Governor said, it’s “nonsense.”

Footnote:
(1) Subject to change as new data warrants. But, in case you’re curious, and in no particular order… Top-tier: Jindal, Perry, or Walker. Second-rank: Rubio, Cruz. After that, everyone else. Generally I prefer governors over senators who haven’t yet been a governor.
(2) I prefer this term to “liberal,” since I think it’s more honest about modern American liberalism’s roots.


Is there anyone lower than a Senate Democrat?

February 4, 2015
"Senate Grinch"

“Senate Grinch”

I’m really not sure, after this stunt:

In a shocking move, Senate Democrats today filibustered all funding for the Department of Homeland Security. They refused to allow the DHS funding bill, which has already passed the House, to be brought up for a vote. This means that funding for DHS, including its many vital national security functions, will soon run out.

Why would Democrats vote unanimously to shut down DHS? Because the funding bill excludes the implementation of President Obama’s patently illegal and unconstitutional subversion of the nation’s immigration laws. The Democrats’ position is: either you go approve of and pay for the president’s illegal acts, or we will shut DHS down.

Note that “unanimously” includes supposed bridge-building moderate Joe Manchin (D-WV), who says he’s in DC to “get things done.” Remember this lesson: there is no such thing as a moderate or conservative Democrat, not when it counts — in a vote. They’ll say all the right words their voters want to hear about being “centrist” and standing against the president, but, when push comes to shove, they still vote with their progressive leadership.

But then, what else should we expect from a caucus still lead by Harry Reid, who as Majority Leader turned himself into a human roadblock against almost any bill passing, even amendments his own party members wanted considered? When it came to being “Dr. No,” Reid made Andrei Gromyko look like a paragon of cooperation.

Now in the minority, he apparently plans to do the same thing, all to protect Obama’s anti-constitutional usurpation of the Congress’ power to write our laws.

Again, what should we expect from the man who ran as fast as he could to a microphone to stab our Armed Forces in the back and scream “all is lost” just as they were about to begin a major campaign against al Qaeda?

Harry Reid is a venal, mean-spirited old wretch of a man whose idea of the “national interest” extends no further than his party’s caucus chamber and who couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about his responsibilities to the Constitution.

The Senate will be improved immeasurably once he retires.

More from Politico.


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