Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Does Sarah Palin think its OK to be unfit and too dumb to serve?

If you don't know by now, or haven't heard, we're a FAT NATION.  This ain't a good thing.  We have the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity among advanced democracies, if not the entire world.  While we bask in the glow of our American Exceptionalism, we are also exceptionally FAT.

This is a major concern for our Federal Government and our Armed Forces.  So much of a concern that efforts to raise awareness and move the country to a more healthy place are being championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.  But for Sarah Palin, this is just another example of Big Government trying to tell folks how to live their lives by dictating to them what they can and can't eat. 

Now, its pretty clear that we don't like anyone telling us what to do, or requiring that we have to do something.  We generally have to be dragged kickin' and screamin' in order to change our ways, despite the obvious benefits the change would create or the harm our habits and way of life has on ourselves and others.  In this instance, Sarah Palin and those that joined her in criticizing the efforts of the First Lady to encourage kids to get out and exercise and eat health were just off base.  But again, we are creatures of habit and some folks just can't use the common sense God gave us to see what the First Lady was doing was not another example of Government intruding in our lives. 

This criticism by the former Alaska Governor and public policy lightweight, Sarah Palin, was called out by other conservatives and conservative leaning media outlets for what it was, silliness and amateurish.  God forbid that our young people be physically fit in order to serve this nation when called upon. 

This isn't just about eating right and exercises, this is a National Security issue.  This isn't just the First Lady saying this, but also two former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired U.S. Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili and Army Gen. Hugh Shelton.  As they wrote in their April 30th, 2010 Op-ed

"It seems incredible, but these are the facts: As of 2005, at least 9 million young adults -- 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24 -- were too overweight to serve in the military, according to the Army's analysis of national data. And since then, these high numbers have remained largely unchanged." 
And this isn't the only National Security issue connected to the fitness of our young people.  A recent Army Study has found that 75% of 17 - 24 year olds couldn't serve because they were unfit, had a criminal record, or dropped out of school.  23% (or roughly 1 in 4) who took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam, a.k.a the ASVAB, FAILED.  Almost 25% of high school graduates who took the ASVAB, FAILED

As the Roanoke Times said in today's editorial,
"Virginia lawmakers especially need to pay attention to the lessons contained in the Army's findings before they head to Richmond and are yet again tempted to balance the state budget at the expense of public education." 
Now, Sarah Palin hasn't commented on the Army Study, and its probably a good thing.  But, small government conservatives with whom she identifies, have been trying for years to cut school budgets.  In many states they have cut education budgets to the point that it would seem state and local governments will have no other choice but to get out of the business of public education, eventually.  Is this the price we pay for not investing in education and smaller government?  Is this what less government advocates envisioned?  Not only is it hurting our economic competitiveness, but our ability to defend our nation. 

That famous scene in the cinematic classic "Animal House" speaks volumns to these issues when Dean Vernon Wormer says, "fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."  All be it, these were fictitious college students, but if the shoe fits...  But again, maybe this is OK with Sarah Palin and her supporters? 

Images found at:  http://blog.sierratradingpost.com/wp-content/uploads/Childhood%20obesity_1.jpg  and http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/WI/223/1647/PreviewComp/SuperStock_1647R-76587.jpg

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Critique and analysis are coming in on the "Lame Duck" session of the 111th Congress and the consensus seems to be saying is that it was anything but lame.  Whether it be a campaign promise kept to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", or the deal with the devil that was struck between the President and Senate Republican Leadership to extend the Bush Era Tax Cuts for everyone (including the wealthy) while also getting an extension of Unemployment Benefits and a few others Democrats wanted, the winners of the final round of the 111th Congress are the Democrats and President Obama

If Republicans are wondering what the heck just happened, Ezra Kline's column in the Washington Post sums it up best with a quote from Senator Lindsey Graham (R) SC, saying that "When its all going to be said done, Harry Reid has eaten our lunch."  Included in this assessment was a major Foreign Policy victory for President Obama with the passage of the new START Treaty. 

If you are feeling a little perplexed, a little in aw of this political mastery, and wondering how the ingredients came together for the President and the Democrats, the always pragmatic and wise David Gergen offers his assessment of the situation by stating,
"What happened?  One answer, I would submit, is that the president and his team found a better approach to governing:  Instead of relying on the Democratic Caucus in each chamber to deliver, they built up coalitions of their own that swayed public opinion in their direction and gave the leverage in Congress." 
So how did these coalitions get cobbled together?  It wasn't just the two moderate Republican Senators from Maine (Olympia Snow and Susan Collins), or Scott Brown from Massachusetts.  It was other, more conservative Republicans, that came together with the President and the Democrats on the way out. 

Retiring Ohio Senator, George Voinovich, the now independent (dare we say Rogue) Senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, newly minted Senator from Illinois, Mark Kirk, and then we have the ethically challenge John Ensign of Nevada, Richard Burr of North Carolina, ranking Republican on Senate Foreign Relations, Richard Lugar and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is in the Republican Leadership.  Of note, Lisa Murkowski voted with the President and Democrats on DATA repeal, START, the compromise on extension of tax cuts and unemployment benefits, and of all things voting with Democrats to end debate on the Dream Act. 

Then there's the Food Safety Bill, the DoD reauthorization, and a few others, that if it were not for Republican support, would have died on the vine.  So then, why did all this pressing legislation that was so important, finally get passed?  There are several thoughts on that.  One being from Ezra Kline, where he observes: 
"The answer, I think, is that there are plenty of Senate Republicans who aren't too comfortable with the class of conservatives who got elected in 2010. These legislators knew they had to stick with McConnell before the election, as you can't win back the majority by handing the president lots of legislative accomplishments. But now that the election was over, the bills that had piled up were, in many cases, good bills, and if they didn't pass now, it wasn't clear that they'd be able to pass later. 

The incumbent -- and the outgoing -- Republicans know that the fact that Republicans will have more power in 2011 doesn't necessarily mean that they'll use that power to pass sensible legislation. So those of them who wanted to pass sensible legislation decided to get it all done now, even if that meant handing Reid and Obama a slew of apparent victories in the lame-duck session." 
For me, its a combination of several factors with a big part of it in line with what Ezra Kline states above.  The opinion polls since the November elections have been loud and clear that voters are tired of the hyper-partisanship and want things to get done.  Congress responded.  Also, it seems that there is a realization from establishment Republicans that the new crop coming in, of which 70-80% of them have never held public office before, are going to be a political nightmare and a major liability if they can't harness the energy in a strategic direction.  Just like Democrats misread the results of 2008, this new group of Republicans seem to be over-reaching and reading too much into the results and projecting a mandate that just isn't there. 

Did the President and Democrats run the table?  Not even close.  They fell short on the omnibus spending bill, Dream Act, and they were unable to exclude the wealthy from the Bush Era Tax Cut extension.  But coming off the "shellacking" of the November 2nd debacle, this was nothing short of clutch, a Masterstroke! 

Image found at:  http://hiphopandpolitics.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/obama-pointing.jpg 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Earth to Guvs,... come in Guvs...

These two statements go into the file of "What planet are you on?"  First we have Governor Haley Barbour (R) Mississippi, saying that he didn't remember the Civil Rights era "being all that bad."  While his hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi banned the Klan, they did have segregationist Citizen Councils. 

He has "clarified" his statement as of Tuesday, but come on man!  Of course things were pretty good for you and your family, friends, and relatives.  Ask Chris Rock would say, "What white folks gotta worry about?   You're white!  Everything's good."  White folks of this era controlled everything.  All lunch counters, bathrooms, water fountains were open to all white citizens.  Even the poor white folks.  Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post has an excellent op-ed that frames Haley Barbour's fuzzy recollection of segregation in the South.  Click here for the article. 

As the Governor of a state, and one that is widely rumored to be contemplating a run for President in 2012, this level of insensitivity regarding race, in Mississippi of all places, is disappointing but not a total surprise.  What else are we to expect from a white southern Republican? 

You can apologize and clarify all you want, but the damage is already done.  Its as if he is following the lead of Governor Bob McDonnell (R) Virginia, when he went out of his way with his proclamation of Confederacy Day that conveniently omitted the whisper of slavery. 

The second statement comes from, you guessed it, Governor Bob McDonnell (R) of Virginia.  This one about the supposed lack of access to health care, according to his excellency the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Bob McDonnell thinks that just because people have access to emergency rooms and must be treated, regardless of their ability to pay, that there's no access problem to health care in Virginia.

Tell that to the masses of people that come out to RAM (Remote Area Medical) clinics in far southwest Virginia.   In 2006, more than 188,000 southwest Virginia residence used RAM.  Tell that to the more than 1,300 people that RAM saw at the Virgina/Kentucky Fairgrounds in Wise County over the course of two days in July of this year.  The disconnect to the realities of life are staggering and disappointing, but not too much of a surprise.  Again, what else are we to expect from a white southern Republican? 

If you would like to learn more about Remote Area Medical, click here

Images found at:  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://mscasinos.org/image/4974/mississippi_governor_haley_barbour_to_speak_at_sou%3Fmax_width%3D290%26max_height%3D1000%26q%3D70&imgrefurl=http://mscasinos.org/&usg=__MLvDEFh9PZ6gVq_gC8uTNxEdT4Q=&h=392&w=290&sz=16&hl=en&start=0&sig2=0eE70rFdqaLSqZ0NYcKl-w&zoom=1&tbnid=_DjStmZhkarYRM:&tbnh=138&tbnw=121&ei=whMSTYGpLMH58AbP0aXRDQ&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dgovernor%2Bhaley%2Bbarbour%2Bimages%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26biw%3D1276%26bih%3D547%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=655&oei=whMSTYGpLMH58AbP0aXRDQ&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0&tx=68&ty=65 and  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.alan.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/bob_mcdonnell2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.alan.com/2010/04/07/governor-bob-mcdonnell-time-traveler/&usg=__HLHwb4qOdjfXAam4yU3qmQHgQfg=&h=300&w=291&sz=15&hl=en&start=0&sig2=pGitJ9xnOb1CRp8VeYcm3A&zoom=1&tbnid=h-kZxvqGGFB9-M:&tbnh=145&tbnw=147&ei=hxUSTYa-CsGC8gb436zUCg&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dgovernor%2Bbob%2Bmcdonnell%2Bimages%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1276%26bih%3D547%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=271&vpy=171&dur=7113&hovh=228&hovw=221&tx=123&ty=90&oei=hxUSTYa-CsGC8gb436zUCg&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=13&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0

Sunday, December 19, 2010

If Climate Change/Global Warming is a conspiracy, then why is...?

So, an "internal memo" comes out this week that directs the on-air personalities of Fox News to utilize language that is more favorable to conservative sensibilities (Shocker, I know).  For example, when discussion is centered around healthcare reform, instead of referring to the key part of the Obama Administration's healthcare reform proposal as "the public option", the preferred terminology should be "government-run health insurance" or "government option."  

As for Climate Change/Global Warming, regardless of the mountains of data and evidence that shows the increase in temperatures are connected to human activity, Fox News personalities have been instructed to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.

Thanks to Lowell Feld and the group at Blue Virginia for posting this piece about the Blue Planet Forum in Norfolk.  It just makes you wonder why so much money, time, and effort have been put into casting doubt on Climate Change/Global Warming?  Which brings me to my point.  If Climate Change/Global Warming is a conspiracy, then why is the United States Navy investing so much interest in determining the impact on Naval Operations and National Security? 

Here is Admiral David Titley, USN Oceanographer and Navigator, discussing why the United States Navy is concerned about Climate Change/Global Warming: 

But, what do I know?  The word of Fox News is gospel and everyone else is just making stuff up.  I wonder how long it will be before the man responsible for the leaked email/memo, Fox News Vice President Bill Sammon, will be promoted?

Image found at:  http://www.topnews.in/files/global-warming_10.jpg