Christopher Shea highlights a new study that analyzes the effect of U.S. grain and soy subsidies on the American diet. The study's abstract leads with its contrarian, we're-taking-on-Michael-Pollan angle:
Many commentators have speculated that agricultural policies have
contributed to increased obesity rates in the United States, yet such
claims are often made without any analysis of the complex links between
real-world farm commodity support programs, prices and consumption of
foods, and caloric intake.
So, the Blunt amendment got killed in the Senate. And good riddance: you wouldn't know it from the L.A. Times's writeup, but the measure was a good bit broader than a reversal of the Obama administration's contraception mandate (which itself would have been nothing to celebrate). From the amendment text (pdf):
A health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the
essential health benefits package...on the basis that it declines to
provide coverage of specific items or services because...providing
coverage (or, in the case of a sponsor of a group health plan, paying
for coverage) of such specific items or services is contrary to the
religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer, or other
entity offering the plan.
In other words, essentially a line-item veto of whatever the boss is morally opposed to, based on church teaching or otherwise.
So Bloomberg talked to some rich Wall Street types
about dealing with the impact of reduced bonuses. All populist
eye-rolling aside, I think this quote from Michael Sonnenfeldt--founder
of Tiger 21, a "peer-to-peer learning group for high-net-worth investors"--actually makes some sense:
Sonnenfeldt said [Tiger 21] members, most with a net worth of at
least $10 million, have been forced to “re-examine lots of
assumptions about how grand their life would be.”
While they aren’t asking for sympathy, “at their level, in
a different way but in the same way, the rug got pulled out,”
said Sonnenfeldt, 56. “For many people of wealth, they’ve had a
crushing setback as well.”
Sure--you don't have to be destitute to experience the disappointment of unmet financial expectations.
Attention mainline Protestants: a conservative Christian candidate for president would like to point out that your institutions are in decline, and that he doesn't mind because you're not Christian enough, anyway. Take that!
Like a lot of Protestants, I've never been one to take the fasting element of Lent all that literally. But while I never set out to intentionally do the opposite, it sometimes seems to happen.
morning, I ate half a bag of jelly beans. I haven't done that in years.
Then, with my brain exploding with sugar and my mouth with fantastic
artificial flavor, I remembered what day it is. It's as if I got the Fat
Tuesday memo a day late, and also missed the part about using up perishable bad-for-you food, not junk you couldn't spoil if you tried.
The new Century editorial
offers that if the Republicans nominate Rick Santorum for president,
his regular rhetoric about poverty might challenge President Obama to
engage him on it--giving voters a chance to hear two different analyses
of the problem instead of, you know, not hearing about it all.
Somewhat more quixotically, I've found myself wondering whether there's an opportunity as well in Santorum's recent claim that environmentalism amounts to a "phony theology." Stephen Prothero's reaction is to challenge Santorum's desire to draw who's-a-real-Christian lines; Rachel Tabachnick's is to trace the "phony theology" line to the influence of the Cornwall Alliance.
points both, but what interests me here is that Santorum's comments
point to one of the basic theological questions for Christian
eco-engagement: Is the emphasis on human membership in the wider
creation or on human responsibility for it?
"Not God bless America, God damn America!" bellowed Jeremiah Wright from his former pulpit.
"That’s in the Bible for killing innocent people." This sermon
quote--actually, usually just the "God damn America" part, stripped of any
context whatsoever--created a media frenzy, earned death threats for
Wright and jeopardized a then-parishioner's presidential campaign.
"I don't think God will continue to bless America," said Rick Santorum the other day, "if we continue to kill 1.2 million children every year." Unlike Wright, Santorum is himself a candidate for president. Yet two days later Google offers mostly crickets.
Amid a fragile economic recovery, it shouldn't be hard for Congress to pass things like extensions of the payroll-tax holiday and unemployment benefits. But it is, not because these measures are themselves controversial--they aren't, or at least not very--but because the Congress is mostly broken, rendered dysfunctional by the perverse incentives of electoral politics.
Something foul is brewing in the small-town Midwest, where I grew up:
A few years ago, hog farmers throughout the Midwest
noticed foam building on top of their manure pits. Soon after, barns
began exploding, killing thousands of hogs while farmers lost millions
Wow, okay, so explosive pig-manure foam is a thing.
The Pentagon: Women can serve in more, though still not all, critical combat roles than before.
Rick Santorum: "I do have concerns about women in front line combat. I think that could
be a very compromising situation where - where people naturally, you
know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission
because of other types of emotions that are involved."
John Potter: "I can't be the only one who thought of" 30 Rock.
Are Protestants more in line with
the Catholic bishops on contraception than Catholics
are? Or is it just that there's some correlation between being
Protestant and being politically inclined to oppose most any proposal
that starts with "Employers should be required..."?
I don't have much to add about Mitt Romney's assertion
that he doesn't need to worry about the very poor on account of the
safety net he aims to dismantle and the Democrats he aims to unseat.
Except that you really should read Gail Collins.
My problem with the National Prayer Breakfast isn't simply a secularist one, i.e.
government officials should avoid any event with a smack of
sectarianism. What I object to is the political exploitation of the
importance of prayer in American life.
Weeks ago I ranted
about Fox News's absurd piece on how the new Muppets movie is out to turn
children into free-enterprise-hating liberals. Now the film's about to
come out in the U.K., and naturally Kermit and Piggy are doing press
around the release. Turns out they're perfectly capable of defending
themselves on their own.
It's not what the headlines are highlighting, but Mitt Romney's 2010 tax return
includes one impressive fact: his charitable contributions amounted to
$7 million. I know, this hardly put him at risk of losing one of his houses
and ending up out on the street till his driver could pick him up and
take him to one of his other houses. Still, giving away almost a third
of your income is nothing to sneeze at.