FDA study results in concerns about government food Nazis

Calvin thumb on nose
You realize it is April 1st, right?

An FDA advisory committee is evaluating the strength of the evidence surrounding a link between food dyes and behavior changes in children.  Scientists and academics are accusing the dyes of exacerbating hyperactivity in children and are advocating for a ban on the eight dyes they claim are dangerous.

Sarah Palin was quick to dismiss the finding saying:

Those ivory tower elites just think they know everything.  How dare they accuse our Froot Loops of exacerbating? There’s no call for that sort of language. I think maybe, you know, they’re the ones doing that, and if they don’t cut it out they’ll go blind.

Glenn Beck was also on the defensive as he accused the FDA of kowtowing to First Lady Michele Obama’s food Nazi agenda. He asserted that Skittles were the last line of defense against the rising tide of socialist Muslim oppressors intent on taking our freedoms away.  Beck then waxed poetical, paraphrasing Pastor Martin Niemoller.

First they came for the saccharine,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a coffee drinker.

Then they came for the trans-fats,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a McDonald’s customer.

Then they came for the red dye 40,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Pop-Tart eater.

Then they came for my high fructose corn syrup
and there was nothing left to eat.

Beck then went on to note that this country was founded on corn.  Our founding fathers recognized corn was God’s gift to them.  It was fuel, food, oil, sugar, and vegetable.  John Addams called corn “American manna.”  Beck reminded that the Indians didn’t want us to have corn and tried to confuse our ancestors by calling it maize.  He said, this is why we make corn mazes every fall, to honor the confusion and disorientation the pioneers suffered at the hands of the cruel Indians.  Beck concluded, “And you know who else hated corn?  Hitler!”

Politicians were also quick to rise up against the outrageous actions of the FDA.  Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced yet another rider to the 2011 budget prohibiting the FDA from using federal funds to restrict food additives whose primary purpose was aesthetic.  Pence claimed America has the single greatest looking snack foods God ever gave man on this Earth, and he would not sit idly by and let our Twinkies take a back shelf to Chinese knock-offs.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office also released a statement that he was backing a no-bid contract with Haliburton to lease America’s Ritalin riddled children as part of the GOP’s green energy plan.  The press release said this is not the time to be thinking about reducing the hyperactivity of our youth. We cannot possibly cut our addiction to Middle Eastern oil on hamster power alone.  Experiments at powering wheels with seniors in exchange for Medicare coverage didn’t pan out.  It turns out, arthritic men with heart conditions simply can’t sustain the velocity needed for reliable electricity production.  Cantor emphasized, “Children are our future.”

Christine O’Donnell added, “It’s just food coloring people, not witchcraft.”

Palin had nothing to gain from apology

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin in her America's Enduring Strength video

Sarah Palin released her “America’s Enduring Strength” video today in response to the media reaction to the of shooting of Rep. Giffords and others in Tuscon, AZ. Palin is suitably sympathetic in the seven minute monologue, but is decidedly unapologetic for her rhetoric. Not surprisingly, the political left and right are having dramatically different reactions to her message.

While most everyone in the mainstream seems to agree there is no direct link between Palin and the mentally unstable shooter, Palin feels understandably attacked in the media aftermath.  There is ample basis for discussion over whether or not the violent and gun-based language and imagery used by Palin and other politicians and pundits is potentially inciting violent actions by the fringe elements of society.  And it’s understandable why the Arizona shooting has been the catalyst for bringing up the topic of the lack of civility in our political discourse.  But the fact remains that there is no traceable connection between this incident and anybody’s political rhetoric.  Palin defends that point, and strikes back at those who would try to pin any wrongdoing on her or the right in general.

Ezra Klein makes the eloquent case on the left for why Palin missed an opportunity.

Imagine if Palin had come out and said, “My initial response was to defend the fact that I had never condoned such violence, and never would. But the fact is, if I in any way contributed to an unhealthy political climate, I have to be more careful and deliberate in my public language rather than merely sharpen my defenses.” That would’ve been leadership: It would have made her critics look small, and it would’ve made her look big. Those who doubted whether Palin could rise to an occasion that called for more than sharp partisanship would’ve been silenced.

The right’s reaction is typified by fellow Examiner Lori Calabrese.

In a climate of hate, Palin rose above her critics with a beautifully written address that spoke to us as a nation and,although, Palin struck back at her critics, she didn’t further divide our great nation, yet called for unity and defended the rights and freedoms that make America exceptional.

I don’t know about you, but I saw something different in Sarah Palin. She leaped into the leadership role of the Republican party with her statement, while other GOP hopefuls have either remained quiet on the issue or proved that they don’t have the grapefruits to lead our nation. Palin defends our rights spelled out in The Constitution addressing the fact that a member of Congress went so far as to announce that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

What Klein and others on the left are not owning up to is that while Palin may have made a few points with a more apologetic message, it would not ultimately have changed any of their minds about Palin.  Meanwhile, an apology would have inflamed her supporters who expect her to stand firm, refuse to compromise, and take no prisoners.  She had everything to lose by appearing to kowtow to the accusations of culpability, and nothing to gain.  However, staying true to her “don’t retreat, reload” mantra, she struck back at her accusers.  In doing so, she reinforced her credibility with her loyal base, and acted about like everyone else expected her to act.

All indications are that strategically this was the appropriate message for her to release.  Whether you loved it or hated it, she gets credit for being smart enough to recognize there is little she’s going to do that would persuade those who have already written her off to give her a second look.

AZ shooter is a nutjob, but violent rhetoric still matters

Sarah Palin's infamous "crosshairs" map of Congressional targets for 2010

Mere minutes after news broke of the shooting of Rep. Giffords and others in Tuscon the media war was launched to assign blame.  The left blamed the right, and the right blamed the left.  As more and more facts come to light on suspected shooter 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, the only clear picture emerging is that he was mentally unbalanced.

The shooter’s particular lunacy embodied elements of crazy right-wing, crazy left-wing, Libertarian, Communist, and Nazi fixations.  This was mixed with a heavy paranoia about mind control, and an obsession with literacy.  It would be difficult to ascribe Loughner’s behavior to his allegiance to any political movement or his influence by any particular pundit or politician.

Loughner was a disturbed and frightened man looking to blame someone for everything.  And that is maybe the whole point.  When Sarah Palin says to “reload” in an effort to take back the 20, or Sharon Angle suggests the need for “Second Amendment solutions” to take back the government, sane people don’t hear that as an explicit call for armed insurrection.  They recognize it as charged political rhetoric intended to engage and polarize an audience.  But if your mind is a little less balanced… if your predisposition is toward paranoid fear… if you are basically a walking bomb in search of a detonator, then such messages resonate somewhat differently than mere rhetoric.

The political right has a particular penchant for militant and violent political rhetoric.  Their opponents are often positioned as evil and bent on destruction of the country.  Labels of communists and fascists, political regimes the country has previously been at war against, are thrown about.  Guns are frequently brandished at political events.  Even terms such as “death panels” position those with different policy opinions as an existential threat.

As an exercise, try searching the web for the terms “right wing militia” and “left wing militia“.   Alternatively, try “right wing violence” and “left wing violence“, or choose whatever terms you may like.  In all the cases, note the discrepancy of article types and images returned.  It’s not that the left is less fervent or politically active, but the results suggest a significantly lower affinity on the left for militarism, guns, and violence.

We may never know exactly what set Loughner on the tragic path that led him to shoot Giffords and kill six others, including a federal judge and a 9-year old girl.  As Glenn Beck has reminded us before, these happenings are each the act of a “nutjob”.  Granted.  But it would be naive to assume that nutjobs are immune to the influence of violent rhetoric.  On the contrary, they are likely the most gullible, malleable, and primed to be incited to violent action.

Perhaps your words don’t make you criminally negligent… but they still matter.  Choose them wisely.

Amazing Race Speculation

Amazing RaceTonight is Episode 4 of this year’s Amazing Race.  The trailer shows they will be headed to the Arctic for this week’s adventure, which prompted some dinner table speculation this afternoon about what might be in store for the nine teams remaining.

As it’s the Arctic, it seems only fitting the episode run a Sarah Palin themed day.  We think it might (or at least it should) go something like this.

After arriving at a remote outpost, teams will have to drive a snow machine 7 miles to a hunting camp, where they will be given their next clue.  The clue is a Detour called “Moose or Squirrel”.  In it, teams must choose one of the two challenges.

In “Moose”, teams must locate one of the recently shot moose in the surrounding woods and properly field dress the carcass.  Once the moose is dressed to the huntsman’s satisfaction, he will give them their next clue.  Teams that aren’t squeamish can cut through this task quickly.

In “Squirrel”, one team member must play the TV reporter and the other will play the politician.  The reporter must ask pointed topical questions while the politician must squirrel out from giving answers of any substance while incorporating the word freedom, constitution, or mama grizzly into the response.  Once three questions and answers have been recorded, teams must hand the video to the Producer, who will given them their next clue.  Teams with lots of hot air can float through this task with ease.

Next, teams will encounter a Roadblock, which is a task that must be performed by only one member of the team.  In this Roadblock, teams must choose a pilot who will fly them over the tundra where we have placed nine wolf shaped targets.  Teams must tag an unmarked target with their paintball rifle while the pilot flies by.   Once they have shot a wolf, the pilot will give them their next clue, which contains instructions to the Pitstop for this leg of the race.

As you will recall, last week’s last place finishers, father and son team Michael and Kevin, found out this leg of the race is a non-elimination race.  Meaning this team will encounter a “Speed Bump”, a task only this team needs to perform, somewhere during this leg.  In the Speed Bump, Michael and Kevin must search a house looking for the proper window from which they can see Russia.  Once they’ve spotted Russia, they may proceed with the rest of the leg.

Also new this year, and being introduced tonight, is the “Secret Fast Forward”.   A Fast Forward is normally a task where the first team complete it may proceed directly to the Pitstop without completing the remaining tasks.  A Secret Fast Forward is like a normal Fast Forward except that teams are not informed ahead of time what the Fast Forward is.  Rather, they must realize, based on the theme, how to complete the Fast Forward.

In the Secret Fast Forward, the first team to complete half the tasks, and then simply declare they are quitting to pursue other legs of the Amazing Race may proceed directly to the Pitstop.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait for 8:00 to get here…