Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Obama’
July 28th, 2014 at 8:11 pm
A More ‘Proportional’ Response than Impeachment?

Add First Lady Michelle Obama and various members of the Democratic Party to the chorus of politicos discussing the possibility of impeaching President Barack Obama.

The First Lady warned a group of donors that, “If we lose these midterm elections, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to finish what we started because we’ll just see more of the same out in Washington – more obstructions, more lawsuits, and talk about impeachment.”

A series of fundraising email blasts was then sent on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee begging immediate donations to thwart a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. “ALL GIFTS TODAY ARE TRIPLE-MATCHED!” blared the emails.

Despite all this, impeachment is still seen in most quarters as far-fetched. Simple math says the GOP needs at least 67 senators to ensure conviction (since the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote). For context, the GOP needs to pick up six seats just to get 51 members and control of the chamber.

Beyond counting noses, there’s a concern that impeaching the president at this stage would be disproportionate. Better, say thoughtful critics like Byron York, for Republicans to pass legislation that overturns the executive orders and policy directives they loathe – such as deferred action – and dare Democrats in Congress to vote to defend Obama.

Though York doesn’t think impeachment should be an option at all, his ‘proportionate’ thesis dovetails nicely with what Andrew McCarthy has written about in his book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment. McCarthy says that although pursuing impeachment is justified, it won’t work unless the groundwork has been laid with the public to show conclusively that Obama can’t be trusted to follow the law. It’s hard to imagine a better way to make that case than with a string of presidential vetoes usurping Congress’ constitutional power to legislate.

Should that come to pass, perhaps the only proportionate action left to take would be impeachment.

June 20th, 2014 at 10:05 am
School’s Out, But Lunchroom Fight Continues
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In an interview with CFIF, Daren Bakst, Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy at The Heritage Foundation, discusses the massive food costs of the new school lunch requirements, major declines in student participation, food waste, lack of flexibility and First Lady Michelle Obama’s criticism of the House of Representatives for considering a one-year reprieve for certain schools.

Listen to the interview here.

March 29th, 2014 at 2:09 pm
The Obama-Ryan Double Standard

“Is something less true if a white person says it about black people?”

That was the question liberal comedian Bill Maher asked on his show in relation to Paul Ryan’s recent comments about the link between poverty and culture.

Just prior Maher read a quote which he attributed to Ryan “about how lazy kids are these days and how they need to aspire to be more than ‘ballers’ and ‘rappers,’” reports Mediaite. But then Maher revealed he was quoting Michelle Obama – not Ryan.

The point Maher made was that black political figures get a pass for speaking hard truths on certain issues while their white counterparts do not.

Rich Lowry gives even more examples of this double-standard by quoting then-Senator Barack Obama.

Imagine the reaction from liberals if Ryan had said the following instead of the current president: “We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households… We know the statistics – that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.”

Anyone who follows politics knows that had Ryan said this, the statement and the (completely unmerited) backlash that would greet it would likely define and limit the rest of his career. Aside from Barack Obama’s speechwriter at the time, no one else probably remembered he ever made these remarks until Lowry unearthed them.

The irony of the identity politics double-standard is that neither Barack Obama nor Paul Ryan has been able to speak truth to power and get results. Instead, Obama is ignored while Ryan gets flayed for motives he doesn’t have. The only way to break the logjam is for the president to defend Ryan’s diagnosis, even if he doesn’t agree with the House Budget chairman’s remedy.

Certainly then America would sit up and listen.

March 20th, 2014 at 8:49 pm
New Food Labels: A $2 Billion Exercise in Irrelevancy
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Troy Senik, CFIF Senior Fellow, former speechwriter for George W. Bush and senior editor of Ricochet, discusses First Lady Michelle Obama’s push for new FDA nutritional labeling guidelines and the lessons learned from California’s regime of high taxes, oppressive regulation and rampant litigation.

Listen to the interview here.

February 28th, 2014 at 2:37 pm
Michelle Obama: New Food Labels Will Help Counteract the Fact That America’s Moms are Morons
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As a veteran of a speechwriting shop or two, I’m amazed that no one in First Lady Michelle Obama’s office thought to reel in the remarks that she made yesterday about the new FDA nutritional labeling guidelines that I blogged about yesterday. Here’s how the First Lady described the hellish odyssey of a mother in the supermarket under the current regime:

So there you stood, alone in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at the precious little time remaining to complete your weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered, and wonder, is there too much sugar in this product? Is 50 percent of the daily allowance of riboflavin a good thing or a bad thing? And how on Earth could this teeny little package contain five whole servings?

This stream of questions and worries running through your head when all you really wanted to know was, should I be eating this or not? Is this good for my kids or not? And if it is healthy, how much of it should I be eating? But unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope, or a degree in nutrition, you were out of luck. So you felt defeated, and you just gave up and went back to buying the same stuff you always buy.

I’m not sure who these mothers are who find themselves overmatched by the grocery store, but it seems to me they probably need more help than just better labels on food. For the rest of us — all of whom seem capable of acquiring foodstuffs without an epistemic shutdown — this remains a $2 billion exercise in irrelevancy.

February 27th, 2014 at 7:09 pm
Obama Administration Forcing Food Companies to Spend $2 Billion to Change Fonts
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Following on Ashton’s post below, there’s yet another Obama Administration initiative that will reach deep into the pockets of the food industry.

As Politico notes, the FDA is overhauling the labeling requirements for nutritional information on consumer products. The new labeling requirements will more conspicuously display calorie counts, change the definitions of serving sizes, and mandate the description of added sugars. Unsuprisingly, this push is being spearheaded by the First Lady’s office (which invites the question of who empowered Mrs. Obama to do anything in the lawmaking department).

There’s certainly some limited utility to this nutritional information, though I imagine it probably would have emerged (albeit perhaps in a slower fashion) from market demand as Americans became increasingly diet conscious. That said, these changes are incredibly minor. Here, courtesy of Politico, is what the current labels look like by comparison with the new ones:

Current Label

Current Label

Proposed Label

Proposed Label

Now, you may be thinking “What’s the harm?” And that’d be a reasonable response if this was a cost-free exercise. According to the FDA, however the cost to the food industry to make this change will run around $2 billion. That, by the way, is enough to finance about 150,000 lap band surgeries.

It says something remarkable about the Obama Administration’s failure to engage in even the most basic cost/benefit analysis that that would be a less crazy way to tackle this supposed problem.

September 6th, 2013 at 9:17 am
Video: Big Government Leaves a Bad Taste
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the failure of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and explains that “government has neither the right nor the ability to make our personal, private decisions for us.”

September 27th, 2012 at 6:47 pm
Kansas Students Provide a Hopeful Sign About the Next Generation’s Commitment to Liberty
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Here’s a story that will restore your faith in the next generation — and the power of civil society.

Students and teachers throughout the nation are bridling at school nutritional requirements imposed by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a piece of legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010 (it barely merits mentioning that the bill’s head cheerleader was First Lady Michelle Obama). So what could possibly go wrong with some well-intentioned efforts at keeping kids fit? Well, plenty. Here’s Suzanne Perez Tobias, writing for the Wichita Eagle:

The major sticking point: a new federal rule that sets calorie maximums for school lunches — 650 calories for elementary-schoolers, 700 for middle-schoolers and 850 for high-schoolers.

Protesters in Kansas and elsewhere say 850 calories isn’t enough for some high-schoolers, particularly athletes who can burn calories by the thousands.

The students’ reaction? Well, at one Kansas school they created a nice little bit of satire set to the tune of the hit song “We Are Young” — and so far it’s generated more than half a million views. Watch and try not to admire the pluck:

May 8th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
First Lady Blows Off Free Market, Fails as a Result
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We here at CFIF have always cast a jaundiced eye on First Lady Michelle Obama’s nanny state attempts to hector Americans about how they eat. Whether it’s Ashton pointing out that the program consistently fails in public schools because kids don’t actually like the food or my observing that this trend has actually led to black markets in the cafeteria, we’ve primarily focused on the initiative’s shortcomings for America’s children. It turns, out however, that it’s just as robustly failing adults. From Bloomberg:

After vowing to open more than 1,000 stores selling fresh fruit and vegetables in underserved urban neighborhoods, or “food deserts,” grocers have opened a fraction of them, putting in jeopardy Michelle Obama’s effort to improve food choices for low-income Americans.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which said last July it would have 300 food-desert stores nationwide by 2016, has opened 23 and delayed opening some locations after a backlash from activists. Supervalu Inc., which pledged to double to 2,376 its Save-A-Lot stores, has slowed the pace of openings amid declining sales and scarce financing for its licensees. Meanwhile, grocers are opening stores in wealthier urban enclaves.

Food desert locations, by definition, aren’t profitable, according to Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“The whole phrase ‘food desert’ sort of implies the weather created it,” said Lichtenstein. “It’s not the weather — it’s because people don’t have any money.”

Shoppers who live in low-income city neighborhoods “don’t fill up a basket and spend $100, they buy $10,” said Lichtenstein, who wrote “The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business.”

There’s a couple of worthwhile takeaways here. The first is how often politicians and corporations earn praise from press releases and hollow promises. Wal-Mart undoubtedly got more fanfare for announcing the “food desert” stores than it will get scrutiny for failing to build them.

The second is the pervasiveness of the liberal creed that undesirable outcomes must be the product of systemic oppression. Mrs. Obama has long suggested, at least implicitly, that a neglect of urban communities is to blame for the absence of fresh produce in the inner city. It seemingly never occurred to her that the absence of a service in a given market might owe to the fact that there’s not enough demand to make it profitable. The First Lady’s real problem isn’t that corporations aren’t producing what people want; it’s that consumers don’t want what she thinks they should.

That gets to the core of the Obama Administration’s problem. They don’t simply want to change public policy or see corporate practices altered. They want to see human behavior reengineered — whether in the form of the food we eat, the cars we drive, or the doctors we visit. Sooner or later, however, reality will catch up with the White House, as it has in the case of the “food deserts.” No government edict can make straight the crooked timber of humanity.

January 26th, 2012 at 8:02 pm
More Pie-in-the-Sky Thinking From School Lunch Czars

The drive to force schoolchildren to eat healthier meals continues unabated, despite overwhelming evidence that serving adult-oriented meals increases kids’ use of junk food.  In today’s San Francisco Chronicle one local school district food advocate (yes, they exist) thinks that new federal rules mandating increased use of red, yellow and green vegetables and protein-rich legumes will result in a generation of kids yearning for spinach.

“Parents can now imagine their children coming home from school with a newfound love for spinach, sweet potatoes and whole-wheat spaghetti,” said Dawn Undurraga, staff nutritionist with Environmental Working Group, which works on public health issues, in a statement. “That’s a positive development that will have a lasting impact as they grow into strong, fit young adults.”

Would that it were so.  As a parent myself, I can vouch for the flights of fancy we sometimes entertain when junior’s decision-making process does not mirror our own.  On occasion I’ve tried to convince myself that maybe if I just eliminate sugar from my son’s diet he won’t want it anymore.  Of course, his taste buds and Grandma intercede and the game is up.  He knows that there’s a much better tasting alternative to the wheat-filled slag Dad is serving.  It is one thing for a parent to be paternalistic, but it’s quite another when public sector food bureaucrats (or “activists”) think they can socially engineer a kid to crave certain food.

Unfortunately for the Berkeley-based Ms. Undurraga, my column on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s failed food experiment points in the opposite direction.  According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times students confronted with mass produced health food are reacting in a way all too familiar:

For many students, L.A. Unified’s trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.

There’s just one problem: Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.  (Emphasis mine)

What?  A black market for comfort food seething right below the pad Thai noodles and quinoa salads?!  Obviously, the next step is to confiscate the hamburgers and punish those responsible.  Perhaps Michelle Obama could be called in to force-feed yummy bowls of spinach until the little ones develop that “newfound love” of greens everyone is so eager to foist upon them.

December 21st, 2011 at 5:50 pm
Michelle Obama’s Food Nannying Leading to Black Markets in Public Schools
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Conservatives (myself included) have had a lot of fun over the past few years taking shots at First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to get Americans — particularly schoolchildren — to eat healthier food. Usually, however, the criticism is at a fairly abstract level, focusing on the administration’s seemingly endless appetite for nanny-state interventions. But as Michelle Malkin notes, the First Lady’s impact goes well beyond giving hectoring speeches … and the results aren’t pretty:

According to a weekend report by the Los Angeles Times, the city’s “trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop.” In response to the public hectoring and financial inducement of Mrs. Obama’s federally subsidized anti-obesity campaign, the district dropped chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and flavored milk from the menu for “beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads.”

Sounds delectable in theory. But in practice, the initiative has been what L.A. Unified’s food-services director Dennis Barrett plainly concludes is a “disaster.” While the Obama administration has showered the nation’s second-largest school district with nutrition awards, thousands of students voted with their upset tummies and abandoned the program. A forbidden-food black market — stoked not just by students, but also by teachers — is now thriving. Moreover, “principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away.”

The story goes on to report that L.A. Unified produces a staggering 21,000 uneaten meals every day, partially because the healthy fare is so unpalatable; this while the woman spearheading this initiative is choking down 1,700 calories a sitting in her down time.

Of course, fairness compels us to admit that the First Lady’s diet habits are none of our business. But we’re not planning on butting out of her life until she returns the favor.

September 15th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Michelle Obama’s War on Breadsticks
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Oh, the policy initiatives of a First Lady. In most White Houses, they’re confined to feel-good exhortations to increase child literacy or avoid the temptations of drugs. And at their best, they’re an opportunity for the president’s spouse to take a stand on an issue better handled by civil society than government. That’s not without merit. The voice of an influential public figure can certainly change popular attitudes for the better.

What’s a little dismaying however, is when what starts as an earnest appeal to self-improvement becomes an excuse for nannyism and artificial quotas. Consider this, from the Daily Caller:

Bending to the whims of Michelle Obama, Darden Restaurants — the company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and other restaurant concepts — announced Thursday that it will cut the “calorie footprint” and sodium levels in its meals and create new kids’ menus to comply with the first lady’s public health objectives.

With Michelle Obama, Darden unveiled its plans for all 19,000 of its restaurants in 49 states at an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, Md., in front of a prominent sign advertising the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.

The company pledged to reduce the overall calories and sodium in its meals by 10 percent over the next five years, and by 20 percent over 10 years.

Is the First Lady’s goal to suck all the joy out of life? Has our concept of limited government been so diminished that we’ll accept being hectored by the waiter at the Red Lobster over how many cheddar bay biscuits we’ve had because it’s a directive from Michelle Obama’s office?

The First Lady is certainly right that Americans could stand to step up their excercise regimes and cut back on the calories. But taking away options is the low road to virtue. If her case is compelling, it’ll sink in on the merits. If not, those are the wages of living in a free society.

As for those cheddar bay biscuits, I have five words for Mrs. Obama: “… from my cold, dead hands.”

August 10th, 2010 at 9:29 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Let Them Eat Gulf Shrimp
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 9th, 2010 at 1:53 pm
First Lady’s Spanish Vacation Another Example of Obama Rookie Mistakes

Here they go again.  After a week’s worth of media beatings for taking an expensive vacation to Spain that is costing American taxpayers $75,000 a day (for the security detail), the folks running the Obama Administration still haven’t learned how to avoid self-inflicted PR nightmares.

Here’s a brief reminder:

  • Gifts of incompatible DVDs given to the British Prime Minister
  • Gift of an IPOD to the Queen of England filled with President Obama’s speeches
  • Conflicting directives from the White House Social Secretary that enabled the Salahis to gate crash a state dinner
  • Excruciatingly slow response to the Gulf Oil Disaster that made the president look impotent
  • Haphazard action plan thereafter that made him look incompetent
  • Continuing to host a series of expensive private parties at the White House during a severe economic downturn

All of these can be chalked up to a group of people who were not – and so far, are not – ready for prime time.  According to columnist Kirsten Powers, if this keeps up the limelight may not be shining much longer:

Some argue that Michelle should be able to travel wherever she wants if she’s paying for it herself. This is naive. She is the first lady at a time when Americans are experiencing great economic pain. There are endless great locations here at home that she could put on the map with a visit — American hotels and restaurants that would be grateful for the business generated by such a high-profile visitor.

If it’s a huge sacrifice for her, so be it. Sacrifice is actually a noble trait, last I checked.

Plus, if she keeps this up, she will be able to vacation anywhere she wants in about two years.

May 11th, 2010 at 6:35 pm
White House to Bully Food Marketers Using the Pulpit . . . and the FCC & FTC

Today, a White House report brought more news from the Government War on the American Diet.  The First Lady, who has made fighting childhood obesity a signature project, discussed the findings of the report.  Despite administration protestations that they would rely on “bully pulpit” pressure when working with the food industry, suggestions for new federal regulations are being discussed.

The Task Force on Childhood Obesity, which released the report, is the muscle behind Mrs. Obama’s otherwise toothless awareness campaign.  The working group, comprised of the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Interior and Education, as well as senior White House staff, has several regulatory designs in mind.  Just like the Santa Clara Co., California ban on “Happy Meal” toys, the task force recommends that popular media characters only be used to market healthy food.  Coming to a McDonald’s near you, The Ironman Veggie Platter! As CBS News reports:

“If voluntary efforts fail to limit marketing of less healthy products to young viewers, the task force suggests the FCC should consider new rules on commercials in children’s programming. It also challenges food retailers to stop using in-store displays to sell unhealthy food items to children.”

This type of persuasion is akin to a robber pointing his gun at you through his coat pocket.   The robber says, “Give me your money,” but implicit is, “or else I’ll shoot!”  When it comes to government, the “give me your money” option is always on the table.  The report also calls for an analysis of sales taxes on unhealthy food.

This is just another example of the European-style paternalistic state the Obamas have in mind.  Never mind freedom of choice, they’ll choose for us because Father-Government knows best.  Cass Sunstein, Obama’s Regulatory Czar, believes government can nudge the people to make the right decisions for themselves.  But those who wield the power of government know full well if the people don’t budge, they can be coerced.

February 10th, 2010 at 11:54 am
Do it for the Nation, Tubby!
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Somewhere in the White House, there is a speechwriter who, if she has any sense, is perusing the classified section on Craigslist.

This would be the person responsible for First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks yesterday about the threat of child obesity (a crusade I’ve previously chronicled here).

Having labored in a speechwriting shop or two in my day (including the one at the White House), I’m sympathetic to the plight of a writer who needs to get five pages out of a topic where one sentence would suffice (in this case, “step away from the eclair”). It usually involves a lot of excess verbiage and a few stretches of the imagination. But the First Lady’s invocation of obesity as a national security threat rivaled her husband’s propensity for audacity. To wit:

“A recent study put the health care cost of obesity-related diseases at $147 billion a year,” Mrs. Obama said. “This epidemic also impacts the nation’s security, as obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.”

While advocating for everything from revamping the food pyramid (is there anything First Ladies aren’t responsible for?) to “help[ing] places like convenience stores carry healthier food options” (I have no idea what that means, but I’m sure it includes some subsidies), Mrs. Obama also waxed inspirational about the task ahead:

“This isn’t like a disease where we’re still waiting for a cure to be discovered – we know the cure for this,” Obama said. “This isn’t like putting a man on the moon or inventing the Internet. It doesn’t take some stroke of genius or feat of technology.

Hmmm. But it does take a major program run by the federal government, huh? You’ve got to love liberals. If you’re below a certain rung on the socio-economic ladder, they want to give you everything for free. If you’re above it, however, they want to pry the money right out of your pocket — and now the cheddar bacon potato skins right out of your mouth.