Archive for April, 2010

Happy Meals . . . not so happy in Santa Clara

So in what might be one of the most absurd pieces of legislation that I have ever heard of some of the children in Santa Clara county (the county we live in) will no longer be able to get a toy in their meal. The county voted today 3-2 to ban the toys in an effort to curb childhood obesity.

I just learned about the proposal yesterday when visiting my local McDonald’s. With an even bigger shock that the vote was today. If I had been able to go to the council meeting this morning I would have been all over it trying to understand this faulty logic.

The ordinance would prohibit restaurants from giving away toys with kids’ meals that are high in fat, sugar and calories. The ban’s reach will be very limited. It will only affect restaurants in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County such as San Martin. (from Mercury News)

Before I get on my issue with the childhood obesity relationship to toys, I am still trying to understand that they limited the ban to unincorporated areas, that with the exception of Stanford, are all less developed and more rural areas of Santa Clara county. I have not been able to locate the text of the this ordinance yet, but am still searching for it.

Now onto the toy = obesity debate: When I choose to take my non-obese children to McDonald’s for dinner, it is my choice. I do not do it for the toy. They are usually cheap and wind up broken or thrown away anyway. I go eat there because the convenience factor for me those days is worth it. I need to feed the children quickly and get where we are going. My daughter eats Kraft Macaroni, apples, and milk from Burger King. I would feed her that at home. So how is getting a toy with the food going to change what people are feeding their children? It’s not. The people who don’t go to fast food restaurants because the food is not healthy (which don’t get me wrong I don’t believe it is all that good for you) are the same people who won’t go there anyway regardless of the toys. And even if this did pass in my area it would not stop me from continuing to drive through on nights when I need a quick meal from my children. The obese children are not a result of fast food restaurants alone. In the brief portion of Food, Inc that I was able to make myself watch, I had to turn it off because I was going to have to stop eating altogether if I continued, profiled a lower-income family that shows how they purchase processed, convience foods or go to fast food restaurants because the healthy non-processed foods are more expensive and on their limited budget or food stamp that cannot afford enough food to feed their families. However, the cheaper processed food provide their families with a full belly after a meal and stay easier on their budget. Is this right? No. I think a reform of the Food Stamps program might be in order to try to increase the ability of the families to purchase healthier food items. So all that said, the people who are “obese” who feed their children at McDonald’s are going to continue to do so because it is cheaper and easier. The toy was just a bonus.

AND from there where does it stop? Stop selling X-Boxes, DS systems, ban Dinosaur Chicken or anything else deemed unhealthy or contributing to obesity in stores? Ultimately this is a parenting decision. You cannot make someone be a good parent. There is no one size fits all direction book for raising or feeding children. It is time for the government to stay out of my house and yours too.

In case you are from the area and were wondering Supervisors Ken Yeager, Liz Kniss and Dave Cortese voted for the ordinance. Supervisors Don Gage and George Shirakawa opposed it. The ordinance will return to the board May 11 for a final vote. It will take effect 90 days after that.

I will be at McDonald’s and Burger King Wednesday night for our weekly dinner on the way to Cub Scouts, happily having the right to still give my children the toy that comes with their meal should I choose too. And if you happen to live in an unincorporated area, then I invite you to come to the fast food chains in the rest of Santa Clara county and continue giving your children toys if you choose, since it is YOUR choice.

Oh yeah as an FYI – you did know you can just go in any buy the toy separately too. I have done that before when we wanted a toy and did not want to eat there. So what’s to stop the affected stores from simply selling them for a quarter with your happy meal purchase?

April 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

Seditious Stretch

In the past couple weeks I started hearing a new term that I had to look up. I love new words. This term is “sedition” or “seditious” depending on who was using it and the context of the sentence of course. So as any other good internet user would do I googled it and read about sedition on Wikipedia (and some other sites too.) So before I do on my discussion about the absurdity and total idiocy that this new attack is let’s go with a definition of the term.

Sedition is a term of law which refers to overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition.

The difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of levying war against a government nor of adhering to its enemies, giving enemies aid, and giving enemies comfort. Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful protestdemocratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).

Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power. Treason is the violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or state, giving aid to enemies, or levying war against one’s state. Sedition is encouraging one’s fellow citizens to rebel against their state, whereas treason is actually betraying one’s country by aiding and abetting another state. Sedition laws somewhat equate to terrorism and public order laws. (from my handy dandy Wikipedia reference)

So now that the term has a meaning to me, I wanted to know what sort of legal standing the term has for prosecution or actual precedent. And here is what you find there:

In 1798, President John Adams signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, the fourth of which, the Sedition Act or “An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States” set out punishments of up to two years of imprisonment for “opposing or resisting any law of the United States” or writing or publishing “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the President or the U.S. Congress, but specifically not the Vice-President. This Act of Congress was allowed to expire in 1801 after the election of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency. He had been the Vice-President at the time of the Act’s passage.

In the Espionage Act of 1917, Section 3 made it a crime, punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000, to willfully spread false news of the American army and navy with an intent to disrupt their operations, to foment mutiny in their ranks, or to obstruct recruiting. This Act of Congress was amended Sedition Act of 1918, which expanded the scope of the Espionage Act to any statement criticizing the Government of the United States. These Acts were upheld in 1919 in the case of Schenck v. United States, but they were largely repealed in 1921, leaving laws forbidding foreign espionage in the United States and allowing military censorship of sensitive material.

In 1940, the Alien Registration Act, or “Smith Act“, was passed, which made it a crime to advocate or to teach the desirability of overthrowing the United States Government, or to be a member of any organization which does the same. It was often used against Communist Party organizations. This Act was invoked in three major cases, one of which against the Socialist Worker’s Party in Minneapolis in 1941, resulting in 23 convictions, and again in what became known as the Great Sedition Trial of 1944 in which a number of pro-Nazi figures were indicted but released when the prosecution ended in a mistrial. Also, a series of trials of 140 leaders of the Communist Party USA also relied upon the terms of the “Smith Act” – beginning in 1949 – and lasting until 1957. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the convictions of 11 CPUSA leaders in 1951 in Dennis v. United States , that same Court reversed itself in 1957 in the case of Yates v. United States, by ruling that teaching an ideal, no matter how harmful it may seem, does not equal advocating or planning its implementation. Although unused since at least 1961, the “Smith Act” remains a Federal law.

Laura Berg, a nurse at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in New Mexico was investigated for sedition in September 2005[13] after writing a letter[14][15] to the editor of a local newspaper, accusing several national leaders of criminal negligence. Though their action was later deemed unwarranted by the director of Veteran Affairs, local human resources personnel took it upon themselves to request an FBI investigation. Ms. Berg was represented by the ACLU[16]. Charges were dropped in 2006[1].

On March 28, 2010, nine members of the militia Hutaree were arrested and charged with crimes including seditious conspiracy.[17]

Now where this gets interesting is that Cheney, Palin, Beck, and the Tea Party movement have all been labeled as bordering on seditious, if not already being called seditious. The fact that the question the current direction our administration is heading and dare to disagree with it is considered a horrid offense. During Bush’s time in office let’s think about all the people who should have been brought up on Sedition charges then. Why was sedition not mentioned when the shoe was on the other foot?

This ranks right up there with you automatically being labeled racist if you don’t like Obama. Since when is it not okay just to not like the policies of the administration. The last eight years it would seem that the Democrats had ample time and loud voices to demonstrate their displeasure. Did that make them racist? It is time to stop the bias in these types of settings. It is not okay for it to be all right for the left to oppose the Conservative agenda but not vice versa. The rules apply to all even if you don’t like the message. I would also like to point out to the person who wrote this fine commentary, even if by some miraculous re-writing of law and whatnot your totally out of field comments calling for the arrest, incarceration, and execution for treason, sedition and conflict of interest of Cheney and other people you deem as seditious individuals, did you happen to notice that even if they were ever actually charged and found guilty your desired punishment for them is by no means, in no way, a punishment that was ever an accepted form of punishment for sedition? The obvious disdain and dislike that commentaries like this one have for other Americans and their right to have an opinion is just flat-out wrong. You are free to not like Cheney. Just like I am free to not like Obama, and to be clear I don’t like his policies. Since I don’t actually know him I can’t say I don’t like him. I can’t say that I would like him if I did meet him. And if you want to talk treason . . . maybe another time.

And for a final thought on sedition, just in case you want people tried on this – check out the Montana Sedition Project site. It is amazing what happened to the people who were tried and convicted there. But it is also here that you find precedent and court decisions regarding the law and acts labeled seditions. Since we know that in court prior decisions and findings create precedent for future cases check this out:

In 1969, in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, the high court set forth the current standard for punishing seditious speech. A person cannot be criminally punished for urging the use of force or for urging that laws be broken “except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite…such actions.” In other words, mere words, unless intended to immediately provoke lawless action, and likely to do so, cannot be punished by the state. Had such a standard been in effect in 1918, no sedition law would have been enacted. (from the Montana Sedition Project)

Before you write and inform me that this was a case involving the KKK which I do not agree with, I am merely pointing out this ruling because it provides the basis for the current way cases of sedition are handled.

And just in case you were wondering none of the people or groups being labeled as seditious are inciting violence. In fact the Tea Party movement has been found to be peaceful, what you might say? They are NOT violent. They are just normal every day people who disagree. The fact that you would associate peaceful opposition as terrorist groups is immature, inflammatory, and an outright untruth.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States when men were free. Ronald Reagan

Additional links:
Andrew Sullivan Agrees With Klein’s Sedition Comments
Lets talk about sedition shall we?….

April 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Pot Calling Kettle

Today I am venting about a pet peeve of my mine.

People who do the exact thing that they complain about.

So to elaborate. You know that I will listen to any rational discussion about politics. Acknowledging that I most likely will not change my views, but am curious as to how other people rationalize their viewpoints. But what kills me is the hypocrisy of the complainant. I have family,  friends and acquaintances who do not share my political views. And with them I choose to NOT get into the argument (unless pressed and if they are erroneously misinformed). But it drives me crazy to read their facebook status updates. I know they think I am just as “uninformed” as I know they are. The problem comes down to the act of following. Believing something just because you heard it on TV and not reading and researching for yourself.

One of the most recent frustrating conversations I actually read involved the Tea Party movement. “If you want to see supposedly educated people making fools of themselves, look at some pictures from these Tea Party rallies, especially the homemade signs they make. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad that they actually believe this crap. It’s very sad that people have not learned to think for theirselves but just follow anyone that comes along.” Now really this just made me laugh and I stayed very clear of this. But can we say Hello Pot. I have no idea why we are making fun of homemade signs, that doesn’t even make any rational sense. Did they want people to buy signs? Where do you think rally signs come from? And I love the generalization that the Tea Party people are uneducated that alone should make us a bit angry if it weren’t so funny. But the best part was the part that says that we don’t think for ourselves and we just follow anyone that comes along. I mean really. Hello. Does the name Barack ring a bell? I am guessing they never saw this video?

This is not some statement on race. This is simply showing that some people (note I am not saying ALL) followed Obama out of blind obedience and adoration as opposed to actually learning the issues and knowing what people stand for. There is a great discrepancy between fact and perception in Washington. Choosing to not believe anything you hear on Fox is just as ridiculous as only believing what you hear on MSNBC (which is a crazy channel in my opinion). So back to my point it makes me crazy to hear ignorant people assume that people in the Tea Party movement have no idea what they are standing for. They do. They are against the expansion of government. They are for states and individual rights. This is not rocket science (although reading the bills might be sometimes). They are for honesty and integrity of our elected officials. Not people who say things like “we’ll find out what’s in the bill after we vote for it”.

The current generation we are raising of those who feel they are entitled to something from our country besides life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is amazing. The desire and the lust for handouts and the audacity to think that you are owed anything other that what you work hard to earn is crazy. Hard work and dedication will get you far. And if you want to debate the American dream with me here, the dream is to be able to have food on your table, clothes to wear, and a place to live. Not to have two BMW’s in the driveway, a summer and winter home, and an American Express Black card. The system is not perfect but what is. Social entitlement programs are a mess and should be totally redone to do a better job to actually help families and provide an exit strategy. They were not meant to be a way of life, but a way to get your life in order.

Anyway, enough of my ranting for today.

April 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

What a Day.

So after you get past the fact that today is Tax Day. The deadline that so many of us wait until to file our income taxes. I filed ours last night, so I am right there with the running late people. Not quite as bad as people who drive to post offices open until midnight to get theirs postmarked in time, but still on the late side. But heck, we owed money and who “wants” to pay any earlier than necessary. We pay A LOT in taxes already and paying even more is painful. So my title for today is about the downer that today is and I still need to read up on how the Tax Day Tea Parties went. I did not get to attend one this year since there was no daytime rally near me and with my three kids (age 5,8,10) I don’t think taking them out after school when they are already getting a crabby and tired anyway was a very good idea. But I was there in heart.

So my big reason for posting tonight. I have an acquaintance on Facebook who posted a link to a CNN article regarding Obama issuing hospital rights to gay and lesbians as well as widows/widowers and members of certain religions. The post was in reference to what the “Red States” will say about this and making some commentary as to what kind of comments Ann Coulter will make. Personally I have no issues with people have someone with them in the hospital. I have no issues with the gay community being allowed to be with each other in the hospital. This would be the same stance I would take on a heterosexual couple who were not married but in a common-law marriage. My issue is simply with gay marriage. Marriage to me is reserved to be between a man and a woman. There is a much deeper significance to me in the sanctity of marriage.

So personally I don’t think there will be a huge backlash on this issue. And if there is, it will be because people view it as a give an inch take a mile thing, but I don’t think it should be. I think going out looking for a fight with the “right” will not always result in what the “left” is looking for. The big bad right, you know us right-wing extremists stay at home moms who drive soccer carpool are not the big bad boogie man. The generalizations are amazing.

April 16, 2010 at 4:31 am Leave a comment

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