American Elephants

Please Stop Telling Us What to Eat! You Don’t Know Squat. by The Elephant's Child

Digital StillCameraThe trouble is, somebody gets a bright idea about something or another, and first thing you know the federal government has created an agency or bureau to deal with it. In this particular case, the bureaucracy was already there — it was just a matter of expanding their jurisdiction. Obama thought as long as we were doing new dietary guidelines, they should address his fallback ‘good thing’ — addressing the environment:

U.S. dietary guidelines, the government’s benchmark for balanced nutrition, have long advised Americans to eat dark, leafy greens. Now, there is another way the standards could be going green.

A panel of nutrition experts recruited by the Obama administration to help craft the next set of guidelines, to be issued this year, said in long-awaited recommendations Thursday that the government should consider the environment when deciding what people should eat.

The environmental focus means endorsing a diet that included limited amounts of meat and more plant-based foods, while encouraging consumption of seafood whose stocks are not endangered. The market may be accomplishing that without Obama’s help, the price of beef continues to climb, and California’s concern for the comfort and well-being of chickens — legislating larger cages, means that the cost of chickens and eggs will go up as well. One of the major environmental concerns seems to be cattle effluent which they believe contributes too much CO² to the atmosphere, but the worry now refers to burps, rather than the other end.

I do not now, nor never have, posted a U.S. Department of Agriculture poster on healthy eating, whether a “my plate” contemporary version, multiple food pyramids, nor earlier, kindlier “Guides to Good Eating.” Nor do I know of anyone who has, nor anyone who takes the slightest interest in what the federal government has to say about the proper food to eat according to self-proclaimed experts.

I think the entire department can safely be abolished, the bureaucrats released to go annoy someone else, and lots of money saved for taxpayers. They have always been wrong about everything anyway. Butter is good. Fat is fine, bacon is fine, fruit is all sugar anyway, coffee is actually good for you, don’t worry about cholesterol which was prominent in their very first dietary guidelines issued by a U.S. Senate committee in 1977, though any scientific evidence linking cholesterol to heart disease was and is inconclusive. Oh yes, salt may be good for you after all.

“Organic” in foods refers only to the process of growing food, and excludes chemical fertilizer, though animal manure is fine. Same for pesticides, no chemicals, but you can use the extremely poisonous pyrethrum based pesticides. Organic is only a marketing ploy, and there is no nutritional benefit, nor are organic foods healthier or safer in any way. They will be about 30% more expensive.

Steven Malanga has a nice history of the food guidelines here.The previous guidelines were much more dependent on carbohydrates, which have had the effect of making more Americans fat, and giving more American diabetes, so perhaps someone is paying attention. More proof that they have always been wrong. Abolish the food bureaucracy, abolish the food police, shut down the “health food stores” and eat what you please. And never pay any attention to those silly little ads at the bottom of the page saying “never eat this one food,” or conversely “this one food can…” The American people have enormous good sense and do just fine — uncontrolled and unregulated.

Congress Is Supposed to Meddle in the Iran Talks. That’s Their Job. by The Elephant's Child

Put aside the overheated spat about the wisdom of inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress this week. The deeper constitutional issue involves the insistence by President Barack Obama that the House and Senate have no business floating sanctions bills that might upset the administration’s negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The truth is that there’s nothing remotely unusual going on. Congress has pressured presidents to change their approaches to foreign policy for as long as the country has existed. This sort of interplay among the branches is exactly what the Framers expected.

This is Stephen L Carter, writing for Bloomberg last Thursday. Do read the whole thing. It’s particularly nice to see a professor of law, once again, clarifying the relationship between the executive office and Congress. The people often complain that Congress just seems to fight. Why can’t they just get along, and get stuff done?

Nancy Pelosi supposedly fumed about Congress’s “insult” to the president by inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress. Congress does not have to ask the permission of the president to invite anyone they want to speak to them, and Ms. Pelosi knows that perfectly well.

Congress has not only the right to disagree with the President, but it is their duty when they believe he’s off on the wrong track. The founders intended for Congress to debate and fight and expose all sides of the questions before them. Laws are not to be made by presidents, that’s Congress’s job, and laws are not to be made in haste but after the problems have been hashed out to the extent possible.

Professor Carter cites numerous recent examples that make it clear that struggles between the legislative and executive branches have occurred “over how to deal with everything from attacks on U.S. ships by the Barbary states to Russian expansionism in North America.”

This unambiguous history makes it all the more remarkable that members of the Obama administration continue to insist that there is something constitutionally troubling about, for example, the proposed Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, which would require the president to submit for congressional approval whatever agreement he reaches with Tehran. “I don’t think there ought to be a formal approval process,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in congressional testimony last month. “I believe this falls squarely within the executive power of the president of the United States in the execution of American foreign policy.”…

We can argue long and hard over the proper contours of the final deal with Tehran. But it’s wrong to suggest that Congress is misbehaving when it insists on protecting its prerogatives. Battles between the executive and legislative branches over foreign policy are as old as the republic. If the outcome of the current fight is a restriction on the freedom of this or a future president to go his own way, that’s a feature, not a bug.

Stephen L.Carter is a professor of law at Yale University, who teaches courses on contracts, professional responsibility, ethics in literature, intellectual property, and the law and ethics of war, and writes good thrillers as well.

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