American Elephants


“Our Kids Are Flunking Eating” by The Elephant's Child

d_JPGThis very large mouth is part of an exhibit called “Body Venture,” a 45-foot by 50 foot exhibit that “has kids walking through a giant person’s open mouth, travel through a stomach and small intestines and end up in the “brain dome” an ogre-like creature with a huge nose.” They get to brush and floss very large teeth and dance in the stomach. This is all part of a grant from the USDA  to the Kansas State Department of Education created because “our kids are flunking eating.

They claim that one in three children are overweight or obese, which someone has determined by body mass index (BMI) which is not an accurate measurement of any such thing. The USDA has announced a new round of grants of up to $5.5 million to convince the kids that Michelle Obama’s “Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act” new lunch standards are really good, so they should stop complaining.

bb_JPGThe USDA has almost always been wrong about telling us what to eat. They pushed a high carbohydrate diet, and gave millions of Americans diabetes. Fat was bad, eggs were bad, salt was bad, and eat lots of fruit. Current statistics say fat is fine, and needed. Bacon is fine. Eggs are good for you and an excellent source of protein. You need some salt in your diet, and fruit is mostly just pure sugar.

I am really tired of hearing reports that our kids graduating from high school are poor at reading, can’t write, poor at math, and don’t measure up in international comparisons. And in entering college they need remedial work to catch up.After they got through the digestive system, students “participated in cooking/tasting activities and received a student activity booklet with recipes and weekly activities,” according to the USDA.



Why I Despise The Federal Bureaucracy In One Easy Lesson by The Elephant's Child

13-04-nutrition-choices

The federal government is obsessed with teaching children to eat what they believe the children should eat. It seems to be Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity thing. Kids come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes and some get their growth early, and others late. Watch the kids come out of a junior high school at the end of a school day.

Here is an article from the Free Beacon titled “Feds Spend $149,890 on ‘Mindful eating Intervention’ for Third Graders” It is a study based on the techniques of a Zen teacher to try to  “fight childhood obesity” and turn kids into “change agents” to teach their peers and their family how to eat healthy.

The project, entitled, “Foodie U: The Impact of a Pilot Mindful Eating Intervention on Food Behaviors Among Children and Families,” will focus on low-income Hispanic children.

“The elementary school age is a crucial period for developing life-long dietary habits while parents still significantly influence their food intake,” the grant said. “A school-based mindful eating intervention with parent involvement may positively influence children’s food behaviors.”

Mindfulness is a New Age meditation technique that traces its origins from Buddhism. People engaging in mindfulness are encouraged to focus on the present moment “non-judgmentally.” A 60 Minutes segment on mindfulness showed Anderson Cooper using the practice by eating in silence very slowly, focusing on every bite.

The article adds that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spend $100.2 million on studies testing mindfulness meditation. The study will involve focus groups and include activities about enjoyment of flavor, texture and appearance, hunger and fullness awareness, food and mood, family sit-down meals, and a cultural feast.

They’ll rope in the parents as well to teach them about “mindful eating practices, like beginning the meal with grace, playing the “how full is my stomach” game and telling children creative things like “broccoli is trees for dinosaurs to eat.”(It’s always broccoli, isn’t it?) Cal State University students will serve as “nutrition educators” and “Mindful eating facilitators” for the children involved.

I find this offensive and outrageous. Am I out of line? I don’t think it is the government’s business. “The goal of the USDA project is to make children consume fewer “high palatable, high calorie foods,” while also raising the “awareness and appreciation” of food. No cupcakes, you must like broccoli better. For class birthday celebrations they can have “broccoli parties.”

There’s actually a reason why chefs invented hollandaise sauce.



If You Cannot Believe What You Are Told, You Have Lost Your Freedom. by The Elephant's Child

Lies matter. If you cannot believe what you are told, it changes your life for the worse. Kevin Williamson had an excellent column on Sunday about the real price of lies. He said “There can be no free society without trust.”And he’s right. He begins with U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen who was deliberately lied to by Obama’s lawyers acting for the president in the matter of Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty program.

More than that, I suspect that is a big part of what is wrong with the dysfunctional societies of the Middle East. They are societies built on lies and distrust, but that is true to one extent or another on all dictatorial societies. Americans’ First Amendment rights are the envy of the free world, but other nations have found such rights too scary to adopt in full. Remember that those rights came in an amendment. The Constitution did not fully protect the rights Americans believed that they should have.

Increasingly, we are coming up against a culture of lies. The Obama administration’s push for more bureaucratic control is in direct opposition to our freedoms. The belief that a government run by those who have confidence that they are smarter than the  rest of us is not quite what the framers had in mind.

We are slowly learning that our  president frames his comments  in terms to flatter himself. Naturally, to mark the 5th anniversary of ObamaCare, its backers used the occasion to congratulate themselves on its many successes. Investors took the occasion to point out the five biggest told about ObamaCare:

  1. In many ways, it’s working better than anticipated.” That was the president himself. We know the whoppers— the $2500 everybody was going to save on their premiums went up instead. You weren’t able to keep your plan or your doctor, and were forced to find something new and less favorable or in many cases much worse. Enrollment is less than expected and the government is lying about the numbers. It is costing many their jobs, covering fewer uninsured, and hurting part-time and low wage workers.
  2. It has slowed the increase in heath cost increases to the lowest rate in 50 years.” Health care costs have been going down steadily since before ObamaCare, as new drugs, new diagnostic techniques and new organizations have improved. ObamaCare has little to do with the decreases.
  3. Sixteen million have gained insurance thanks to ObamaCare.” This is not a credible estimate, but based on a dubious analysis of a Gallup survey of the uninsured.
  4. The law has been a boon to the economy The economy appears to be growing, but the growth is hard to find. Annual growth in real GDP since ObamaCare became law has averaged just 2.2%—the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. Job growth has been poor, and much of it has gone to immigrants. Household income is way below  pre-recession levels.
  5. Its helping reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office has stopped trying to figure out what ObamaCare’s impact on the deficit will be because there are too many moving parts. The administration has made improper changes to the law, lawsuits are in the courts, and a lot of things just aren’t working. The long term forecast is bleak.

Obama sold the law to the public on false promises, it was passed by Congress using legislative tricks and back-room bribery. It has never won public support. Emergency room use is up, not down. People on Medicaid cannot find doctors. Computerizing everything has only made patient records available to anyone, changed the practice of medicine so that doctors are interacting with computers instead of patients, and completely failed to connect hospital communities across the country.

It has been a disastrous program for the American people, and its flaws are both predictable and immune to fixing by tinkering. The Left will not give up on it because they hope to change it completely into a single-payer plan, the mother of all failed health care systems.



The Federal Bureaucracy Hard At Work by The Elephant's Child

It’s a new record for improper payments dished out by federal agencies — an all time high of $125 billion in questionable payments after years of declines.

There were tax credits for families that didn’t qualify for tax credits, unemployment benefits for people who were employed, Medicare payments for treatments that might not have been necessary. This is  up by $19 billion over the previous year. The overpayments were spread across 22 federal agencies, though Medicare and Medicaid fraud and the Earned Income Tax Credit together accounted for more than $93 billion in improper payments.

I heard on the radio that we apparently have some of the world’s oldest people receiving Social Security benefits. Since they are apparently older than the oldest woman who was celebrated in the media at 117, it’s fairly safe to assume that they are illegal immigrants receiving benefits by stealing someone’s identity.



How to Become Gluten Intolerant by The Elephant's Child

From the Ultra Spiritual Life, with JP Sears, A chuckle for today.



Sunshine vs. Secrecy. No Change! Still Secret. by The Elephant's Child

sunshine

This is Sunshine Week, And this is a post (revised) I published at this time last year. Has anything changed?  “Open government is good government.” Celebrating Your Right to Know. Yoo Hoo, Hillary…

The government watchdog group Cause of Action released a Freedom of Information Act report card for 15 federal agencies that receive the bulk of all FOIA requests. Six of the 15 agencies received failing grades. Three agencies—the Departments of Education, Homeland Security and Treasury—earned “F” grades for failing to comply with the law’s annual reporting requirements. Whether their grades included agencies that are part of, for example, the IRS which is part of Treasury is not clear.

The Center for Effective Government also rated 15 government agencies, not quite the same list, but even worse grades.

“Transparency and the Rule of Law
will be the touchstone of this  presidency.”
Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

Nice public statement spin, but Obama has been trying to figure out ways around it ever since, and Congress has been trying to figure out how to make it stick. I have 55 articles in my “transparency” file.

You may be unaware that President Obama rewrote the Freedom of Information Act, without telling the rest of America.

The rewrite came in a memo from then-White House Counsel Greg Craig on April 15, 2009, instructing the executive branch to let White House officials review any documents sought by FOIA requestors that involved “White House equities.” That word is not to be found in the law, but the Obama White House effectively amended the law to justify keeping public documents locked away from the public. Cause of Action, is  a Washington-based nonprofit watchdog group that monitors government transparency and accountability.

The exception “applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications.”

Oh, ho, ho. Open government indeed. The FOIA requires federal agencies to respond within 20 days of receiving a request, but the White House equities exception can make it impossible for an agency to meet that deadline.

Cause of Action is still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days.  (Would you care to wager that this has to do with the IRS?) The Department of Energy comes in second at 169 business days. 20 days indeed. Can’t have the  great unwashed viewing politically sensitive documents.

That’s the promised “most transparent administration in history.” As usual, there is the big public announcement which the peasants might hear, followed by the actions that the administration prefers, which people probably won’t hear. Not transparent at all, except where it doesn’t make any difference.

—”Obama Just Officially Decided White House Emails Aren’t Subject to the Freedom of Information Act” Mother Jones 3/17/2015

—”Obama administration stonewalls FOIA request on IRS targeting scandal” Hot Air, 2/10/2015

—’Serious limitations‘: Gov’t watchdogs unite in letter slamming Obama administration transparency,”Fox News, 8/06/2014

“Transparency Groups Seek White House Position on FOIS Reforms” Washington Free Beacon, 10/27/2014

“FOIA request revealed Obama family vacation to Hawaii cost taxpayers over $3.6 million in flight costs alone”
Political Insider, 3/13/2015



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.




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