Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Holiday

All my best to all who pass this way, and all who love them... May Christmas be as sacred as your faith and reason allow. Whether you find yourselves at midnight mass or going out for Chinese, may you celebrate with friends, family, food, and fun.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm letting those I disagree with be just as wrong as they want to be for the next 24 hours or so... Life's too short, and my faith calls for peace, love, and joy 'round now... May everyone reading these words get all of 'em, to overflowing...

Merry Christmas, and God bless...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Michelle Obama thinks obesity is our biggest threat?

In which a right-wing blogger named The Malcontent makes wild and unsubstantiated claims about the First Lady's efforts to combat childhood obesity...

the malcontent: Michelle Obama thinks obesity is our biggest threat
Over the past year, I've been thinking, reading and speaking a lot about this issue, but the statistics never fail to take my breath away. Right now, nearly one third of children in America are overweight or obese - one in three. And one third of all children today will eventually suffer from diabetes - in the African American and Latino communities, it goes up to almost half.

So it's not surprising that a study published just this month found that obesity could now be an even greater threat to America's health than smoking. In fact, medical experts are predicting that this generation is on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Obesity is also one of the biggest threats to the American economy. If we continue on our current path, in ten years, nearly 50 percent of all Americans will be obese - not just overweight, but obese. So think about how much we'll be spending on health care to treat obesity-related conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Think about all the missed days of work and decreased productivity we may see as a result. - Transcript: First Lady's Remarks To The US Conference of Mayors, January 20, 2010

Right after that speech, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued an order to stop the production of Nukes and to drop Dunkin Donuts and Kentucky Fried chicken on Every School Yard in the United States!

So she really thinks that obesity is a bigger threat than Terrorist? No surprise here folks!

(Note: The citation for Michelle Obama's January remarks--or for that matter, any indication that the words comprised a quote in need of a citation--did not appear in The Malcontent's original post. The remainder appears as posted on his site.)

I'm sorry, but I'm calling Bullshit. The First Lady did not say that obesity is our biggest threat. She did not say that obesity is a bigger threat than terrorism. And, while I'm not in her head (any more than this blogger can rightfully claim to be), there is no evidence to suggest she thinks either of these statements are true, either...

What the First Lady DID say (echoing Military Brass and at least two former Surgeon Generals--including Richard Carmona, who served under George W Bush, is that military readiness, and therefore national security, suffers when too many folks are too fat and too out of shape to pass the physical. One can agree with that or offer an alternative viewpoint, but either way, Michelle Obama never said obesity was a bigger threat than terrorism, or that it was the biggest threat this nation faces.

Nowhere in the speech The Malcontent quoted: [link], or in her speech from a few days ago, announcing the "Let's Move" campaign: [link], did Michelle Obama say or even allude to the things The Malcontent attributes to her. But do facts like these register with these reactionary naysayers? Of course not...
"Right you are (AGAIN) Mal. I don't think that the Gov. has the right to dictate what to eat to our kids. that's WHAT WE THEIR PARENTS ARE FOR. ALSO SHE WANTS TO TAKE ALL VENDING MACHINES OUT of the schools, well Hello! Big Govt. Once again." - A Guy From Brooklyn

With all respect due Brooklyn, here, I'm not seeing anything to back up what he's alleging... This is a campaign to educate parents and get kids moving and eating right. I see nowhere where the government is dictating what anyone must or cannot eat, and I can find no news report suggesting that the First Lady or anyone in the Obama administration wants to take vending machines out of schools. (They do want to encourage healthier fare be sold in the vending machines, though, and yes, Senator Harkin did introduce a bill to regulate what can and cannot be sold in public school machines... but that's hardly the same thing as ripping 'em out...)

Rather than reply with anything substantive--or God forbid, admit he was in any way wrong--the malcontent scoffs: "Thanks for the entertainment Repac, I don't know what we'd do without you." and leaves it at that.

More of the malcontent's dubious claims appear here, in reply to another person's comment:
I would be one of the first ones to admit that childhood obesity is a huge problem. If, as first lady, she wants to make this her "cause", that's great. Much like "just say no", or "let's read". But to have an office dedicated to this cause, and to spend great sums of money is well beyond the scope of government. I don't have a problem with the worst lady taking up a cause,all of them have,it's using government edicts,mandates and money I object to. Just as you are always bringing George Bush into every subject... Tell me, did the media never gave Laura Bush any limelight on her helping Afghan women. The answer is no.
A great starting point would be cutting the FAT out of her personal staff, getting rid of a few of her "Ladies in Waiting"
And think of this, once the government starts to tell you what to eat, what to drive, what to wear,which doctor to see for what ailments, and what and WHO to listen to and see, how far behind is being told how to vote? - - - or would it even be necessary to vote at all?
Now pardon me I really need to go now, I smell my French Fires burning in the hot oil.

Classy, eh?

And again, there is nothing offered to back up anything he claimed...
"An office dedicated to this cause"?
"Great sums of money"?
"The government telling you what to eat, drive, wear, etc?"
What is The Malcontent talking about? (And, does anyone else detect a whiff of 1970's chauvinism in the whole "first ladies taking up a 'cause'" bit?)

And as before, when another person's comment challenges him to show his facts, he retreats to another one line non-answer answer: "Hows it feel to be funny Shaw?"

Finally, in reply to those who might wish to trot out the whole "Nanny State, government thinking for you, rather than you thinking for yourself" meme (like my conservative friend Pamela D. Hart did in her comment at The Malcontent's blog), I believe we citizens make up the government, and that when we enact laws protecting people's health and safety, we are acting in our own best interest. We, as citizens, are thinking for ourselves and using our power to protect those things we hold most dear...

Whether it's smoking, wearing a seatbelt and not using palm devices while driving, or even mandating what food can & cannot be served to kids in public schools, we as citizens have an interest, and in our role as stewards of our country, we propose & vote on those things we Americans think will better our lives.

The government isn't some otherworldly big bad evil. It's us. We (a few of us, anyway) run for office, we (not nearly enough of us, but some...) vote for the candidates that we believe will best represent us, and we petition the reps we elect when we want something more or something different from 'em. They is us. I do not fear us, even when we elect people with whom I do not personally agree...

As I said above, the vast majority of this "Let's Move" obesity thing is about education, not dictation. While I can appreciate the philosophy that says "*I* want to personally decide what my kid can and cannot eat while at school," is there really any parent saying they want their kids (and everyone else's, too) to have access to as many sugary, chemical-laden foods and drinks as possible? If the vast majority of parents, educators, and health professionals want to keep kids from ingesting too many "bad" foods, then why can't we get together as a nation and say so? Why can't we get together as "the government" and do so?