Matt Brundage

Archive for the 'politics' category

Friday, 9 February 2007

New York Nanny State

Recently, you may have heard about the New York City Board of Health’s push to ban artificial trans fats from restaurant menus. Never mind the fact that trans fat occur naturally in meat and dairy products. Or that trans fats are “FDA-approved”. According to the FDA, a full 17% of our fat consumption comes from margarine. I personally got off the margarine train years ago, but I’ll willing to bet that there are thousands of people of the misguided opinion that margarine is the healthier alternative to butter. Just wait twenty years or so, and margarine will be good for you again.

So: liquid oils — made into solid fats by adding hydrogen — will be banned. But what about saturated fats, shown to be correlated to higher rates of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease? When will the Board of Health push to ban meats, daily, and cheeses, all of which are typically high in saturated fats? Soon, all we’ll have left to cook with is olive oil. Until they declare war on monounsaturated fats.

Sure, the Board of Health may be trying to act in the best interests of the public, but how far should legislation go? Consider this nugget of wisdom from Barry Goldwater:

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

Goldwater’s words strike a chord with those who believe New York is turning into the “Nanny State.” Additionally, the excerpt stands up like a fortress to the illogic of New York State Senator Carl Kruger, who has proposed legislation banning iPods and other such devices whilst crossing a city street.

Kruger says that while he is trying not to intrude upon personal freedoms of New Yorkers, it becomes difficult to leave the problem alone when pedestrians tune-in to an iPod/Blackberry/cell phone/video game only to walk blithely into a speeding bus or moving automobile to meet with near certain death.

Yes, Kruger may say that he is “trying not to intrude upon personal freedoms of New Yorkers…”, but he is failing miserably at his goal. Even without considering the personal liberty issues at stake in this issue, consider the holes in his proposal:

  • People with headphones cannot hear approaching cars or their horns. Neither can the deaf. Should deaf people also be fined for crossing the street?
  • People watching their stock quotes or playing a portable video game aren’t watching traffic. For that matter, nor are the blind. Should blind people also be fined for crossing the street?
  • Should we fine people for not looking both ways?
  • What if the music is coming from an old-school boom box not directly attached to the pedestrian’s ears? What if the pedestrian is listening to music originating from a street performer, a source he cannot readily eliminate without force or coercion? Would the iPod cops put the kabash on street performers in the best interests of pedestrians?
  • Should we fine people who put their hands over their ears as they cross the street?
  • Kruger has said that people can simply take the earbuds out of their ears as they cross the street to avoid the fine. But what if the pedestrian simply pauses the song, essentially turning the device off? How would the iPod cops know? And what would they do about those twenty-something interns wearing earmuffs?

Seriously, Kruger acts as if pedestrian deaths suddenly started happening after the iPod was launched in 2001. I hate to break it to him, but non-attentive pedestrians have been getting run over for millenniums. If this illogical proposal becomes law, expect New Yorkers to take to the streets. With their iPods and french fries, of course.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Saddam and Tookie

So Saddam’s execution is imminent after two and a half years of trials and less than thirty days after his appeal was rejected by Iraq’s highest appeals court. Contrast the efficiency of the Iraqi Criminal Tribunal with that of the California court system, which took over 26 years to execute that shred of human debris Tookie Williams.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Scheming Republicans

Those scheming Republicans… improving the economy, lowering gas prices, lowering unemployment, smoking out terrorists, keeping the US safe from terrorist attacks — all to selfishly keep control of the House and Senate! I urge you to vote Democrat to reverse these alarming trends.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Of falling furniture and crude oil

I read a report recently that conveyed concern over the number of children that are injured or die due to falling TVs and TV stands. Pier 1 has even recalled an item after one Canadian child died after leaning on the open drawer of the TV stand. One child.

Try this lecturing on for size:

… The CPSC also advises keeping your TV as far back as possible on its stand. Make sure the stand itself, whether it’s a bookshelf, dresser or armoire — is stable itself. If possible, anchor it to the wall or floor.

Keep all electrical cords out of a child’s reach. Also, don’t give your kids a reason to climb the furniture.

“Avoid putting on top of TV sets or other pieces of furniture, items that could tempt a child to climb, such as a remote control or a toy,” advises Nord.

I know most of this is just common sense and goes without saying. Perhaps we can use this “crisis” as an opportunity to impart to our children a basic knowledge of classical mechanics. If ten deaths a year is to be considered a crisis, what word can be used to explain the early deaths brought on by nicotine, saturated fats, and the like?

I still don’t give a left-handed flying farkle about crude oil prices. Yes, it’s nice right now to pay relatively lower prices. But will my worrying about it cause prices to fall? Will not worrying about it cause prices to rise?

CNN’s Bill Schneider recently claimed that lower oil prices could be the result of a conspiracy by Big Oil to help Republicans in upcoming midterms. Wha? Yet, just a few months ago, conspiracy theorists claimed that Big Oil colluded to jack up prices at the pump. So, regardless of if prices rise or fall, Big Oil is out to get you.

This lose-lose situation is also found in articles about the economy. On Tuesday, USA Today ran a story called “Gas Price Decline May Spur Inflation“. When prices rise, inflation will occur. When prices fall, inflation will occur. As usual, Newbusters has spot-on analysis of this phenomenon.

What have we learned today? Regardless of the price trend of crude oil, inflation is imminent and Big Oil is conspiring against you. Oh, and your TV wants you dead.

Monday, 11 September 2006

In Memoriam

Bush at the WTC site, 11 Sept 2006Five years ago today, the United States fell victim to a vicious, unprovoked attack by terrorists acting on the orders of Osama bin-Laden that forever changed this nation and its people.

The acts of violence committed by al-Qaida, terrorists on September 11, 2001 left more than 3,000 people dead and wounded in New York City, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon. This tragedy shall not and should not ever be forgotten. Today, on this grimmest of anniversaries, I hope we will take time to remember what we have lost, to reflect on what we must do and to recommit to meeting the challenges that lie ahead with vigor and determination as the President has asked us to do.

The acts of these few committed fanatics may have led to the destruction of families, the destruction of property and the destruction of a sense of security the end of the Cold War brought to America; but they did not destroy the American ideal, the spirit of liberty that has made this nation a beacon of hope for the world for more than two centuries.

We have responded to these attacks with appropriate force, taking the battle to freedom’s enemies. Since September 11, more than 1.3 million U.S. servicemen and women have joined this battle, with more than 2,900 giving their lives in defense of this noble cause. We owe them and their families a special debt of gratitude.

We have made considerable progress in this fight against terror. Many of the masterminds of September 11 and other terror plots have been captured. They are being detained and will be brought to trial and are, as the President said Wednesday, being treated “with a mercy they denied others.”

To all of you in the Department of Energy family for whom the losses on September 11 were personal, I extend condolences on my own behalf as well as on behalf of the President. I also want to extend my gratitude to all DOE Federal and contractor employees who work so hard to preserve the freedom and welfare of this great country. Together, we continue to pay tribute to those whose lives were taken on September 11, 2001, by serving our Nation and its citizens with honor, humility, and hope.

Thank you.

Source: Dept. of Energy

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Reuters Photo Fraud

Reuters Photo Fraud

The recent discovery that the Reuters news agency released a digitally manipulated photograph as an authentic image of the bombing in Beirut has drawn attention to the important topic of bias in the media. But lost in the frenzy over one particular image is an even more devastating fact: that over the last week Reuters has been caught red-handed in an astonishing variety of journalistic frauds in the photo coverage of the war in Lebanon.

Also: Malkin’s Fauxtography

Thursday, 11 May 2006

If I had the power

Here’s a little list I started making last month…

Allow states to lower the drinking age to 18. So, you’re an adult, old enough to appear in “adult” films; old enough to mow down enemy combatants with M1A1 Abrams tanks, but not old enough to bring a glass of pinot noir to your lips?

Institute a flat consumption tax and eliminate the income tax. Granted, this may put my dad out of a job, but hey — how much time/money/stress will this save? A consumption tax should not discriminate against certain products — such as cigarettes or gasoline.

For the sake of free speech, eliminate all campaign finance restrictions. All means all.

Either ban tobacco products completely or revert all restrictive and hypocritical legislation regarding its use, taxation, and advertisement.

Overthrow Roe v. Wade and bring abortion laws back to the states.

Make Social Security contributions and payouts voluntary. Remove all taxes on government benefit payments and capital gains income.

Deport as many illegal aliens as possible. Enforce laws. Strengthen the borders.

Protect citizens from out-of-control judges.

See also: what I believe

Friday, 3 February 2006

Good humor always contains an element of truth

Everybody’s more upset with this cartoon than they are about the suicide/homicide bombers that [Muslim extremists] make of their little kids.
Rush Limbaugh

See also: The Cowardly American Media

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

The illogic of supporting the troops but not the war

I’ve often wondered why liberals and some pacifists claim that they support the troops but not the war. Is it so that the rest of us won’t view them as unamerican or unpatriotic? Unfortunately, yes. Why would Democrats, liberals, and others claim to support the troops if said troops volunteer to carry out the decisions of an “imperialist war machine” fighting an “unjust war” that the liberals do not support? It’s like claiming that one supports the murderer, but not the death. …that one supports drunken driving but not the fatal car accidents. …that one supports the Bush Administration but not their policies. Illogic!

…[B]eing against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken – and they’re wussy by definition. It’s as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn’t to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.

If you are of the opinion that the Iraq War is morally wrong, why, in the words of Joel Stein, would you go and “throw a parade” for the purveyors of death and violence? While most of Stein’s opinions are 180° from mine, you have to give the guy credit for not lying about his patriotism (or lack thereof).