27 July 2010

Want to curb childhood obesity? Then let kids be kids!

In Michele Obama's ongoing war against childhood obesity, one culprit has gone strangely unmentioned: the public schools.

Contrary to the ridiculously self-indulgent and superficial school lunch reforms called for by certain celebrity chefs, the greatest harm to children's health comes from the forced inactivity which has greatly increased over the last twenty years. This is important, because children are, by nature, active. Inactivity is trained behavior.

It's been estimated that some 40% of schools have eliminated recess in the United States. From my own experience in our local school district, although recess technically remained, it had been reduced to about ten minutes, with no running or shouting allowed, by the late 1990s. I suspect our local district is not alone.

Inside the classroom, modern school designs often include no windows, closing off even a view of the playground. The rooms are festooned with video screens and electronic instructional materials - exactly the sort of environment any good parent would try to avoid creating at home. All-day kindergarten continues to expand, penning otherwise active children into these cushioned cells beginning at ever earlier ages. Extensive homework is assigned beginning in very early grades, ensuring that free time after school will be occupied with even more indoor sitting.

The public schools are notoriously unable to teach basic academics, but they are succeeding in one area: teaching kids to sit around instead of playing. You want them to slim down? Let them be kids.

21 July 2010

The curious case of Shirley Sherrod; or the end of the race card?

In the curious case of Shirley Sherrod, there seems to be a lot of blame to go around. Andrew Breitbart ran with a video without trying to find any greater context. The NAACP issued a knee-jerk condemnation and called for her firing. The White House fired her. Sherrod herself, although she tempered her racial remarks, when heard in context, added several looney left-wing remarks in the speech, possibly violating other standards of conduct for Federal employees.

The NAACP retracted its condemnation, accusing Fox News of "snookering" them, by not showing the full speech - which was originally delivered to themselves. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs apologized, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack offered to re-hire her.

After all that - and more - I don't even remember now what got this whole ball rolling. Do you? I didn't think so.

But after a few days of knee-jerking, name-calling, firing and un-firing and spinning, I do know this:

The NAACP and the White House look like complete, incompetent clowns, and I know for sure that I should ignore them whenever they cry "racism."

Andrew Breitbart is a genius.

20 July 2010

If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we put a man on the moon?

I remember my dad waking us up to come downstairs and watch the footage of Neil Armstrong on the moon. His historic first step was taken forty-one years ago today.

I still have the envelope of 8 X 10s that NASA sent to me in response to a letter I wrote. I eagerly anticipated every moon launch that followed, and dreamed about adventure in space - our only modern equivalent of the age of exploration.

Yet in school, and on television, I often heard people arguing that all that space program money would be better spent on feeding the poor here at home.

"If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we (insert your cause here)?!"

So here we are, 41 years later, having abandoned manned spaceflight, and asking ourselves, "If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we put a man on the moon?"

In the end, or at least for the time being, those who argued the money would be better spent on earth have won the day, as present entitlement spending far exceeds the NASA budgets of yesteryear.

But has that made us a better country?

18 July 2010

It's long past time for Sheila Jackson Lee to go

The 18th Congressional District in Texas is considered by all analysts to be a safe Democratic seat. The incumbent, Sheila Jackson Lee, has held the seat since 1994, and won with just over 77% of the vote two years ago. But in a year that swept a Republican into a Senate seat held for more than half a century by teh Kennedys of Massachusetts, who knows?

One thing we know for sure - Sheila Jackson Lee is an embarrassment. She embodies the insulated arrogance of power that has driven ordinary people to march in the streets in Tea Party rallies, and to crowd town hall meetings to demand their voices be heard.

Lee, you may recall, is the Democrat rep who chatted on her cell phone at a town hall meeting while a constituent was asking her a question. Really.

Among her legislative initiatives was the introduction of a resolution to honor Michael Jackson last summer. Yes, really.

Her opponent this year is not a professional politician, but he is a US Navy veteran, a constitutionalist, and a strong conservative. His name is John Faulk.

The moneybomb is today.

17 July 2010

This genre used to be called "progressive," but I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with Obama. Or did it???

Hey, funding 19th century technology like windmills and trains; advocating 1930s ideas like socialized medicine and corporatism - if that isn't "living in the past," what is?

15 July 2010

President Obama, you just don't send Europe flowers any more

Comes word today that EU president José Manuel Barroso believes that the relationship is not working. It's much like when your wife wants to "have a talk." Barroso thinks we "should do more together."

As Hugo Brady of the Centre for European Reform points out, "Obama was always overblown as a symbol because US foreign policy interests tend not to change."

Ladies, don't you know you are not supposed to marry a man thinking you can change him?

Do you remember those heady days of 2008, when the Obama team told us how he could heal our foreign ties, tattered by eight years of the arrogant, cowboy Bush? Remember how he was going to "push the reset button?"

I think he must have grabbed the wrong remote.

13 July 2010

The national debt is not like a cancer, but a VAT is a lot like chemo

Erskine Bowles, co-chair of President Obama's debt and deficit commission, a.k.a., "pass the buck committee," declared yesterday that the nation's debt is "like a cancer."There is very little suspense in awaiting this commission's recommendations - they will certainly recommend substantially higher taxes, including, in all likelihood, a Value Added Tax (VAT.) In fact, equating the current deficits and skyrocketing debt to a mysterious and incurable disease is quite an obvious tip of their hand on that.

Despite the identification of many contributing causes to various cancers, nobody in the medical world really knows what causes the disease. Additionally, there still is no cure. There are, however, some treatments - awful, painful, disfiguring and permanently disabling treatments in many cases, but what can you do? It's brain surgery, radiation and chemo, or die right now.

The national debt, and the annual budget deficits which extend it, are nothing at all like cancer. We know exactly what causes deficits and we know exactly how to eliminate them. It would be idiotic to apply the high dose chemo and bone marrow transplant of a VAT.

Our annual deficit has been estimated to be in the range of $1.4 to $1.6 trillion dollars. The cause of that is overspending and nothing else. As recently as 1997, the entire Federal budget was only $1.6 trillion. Yet, during years of strong growth and low unemployment (suggesting decreasing needs for spending,) and exploding revenues (suggesting overtaxation,) Federal spending has more than doubled, to $3.55 trillion. There is no conceivable justification for spending increases of that scale in such a short time.

Bowles is wrong to call that a cancer. Cancer can attack anybody, and, while it can sometimes be cut out (surgically, radiologically or chemically,) it can't be cured. And if we treat this debt like cancer, it will certainly return, and be even more damaging to an economy which has been permanently and structurally weakened by a VAT.

Our government doesn't have cancer. It is just fat and lazy. To get rid of cancer, you have to endure horrible treatments. To lose weight, you just have to stop eating.