Petitioning the Sovereign

 

I confess I haven’t really been following the whole Michelle Obama school lunch thing. I get the gist: The First Lady has the USDA revise the standards to make them healthier, but the new guidelines are unrealistic, so kids don’t eat the food (with all the attendant behavioral consequences), and schools complain. I figured that eventually reality will win out over this instance of leftist dogmatism, so why bother paying attention?

Today though, Bridget Johnson at PJ Media had an article that made me do a double-take. The background: Congress is working on a bill to give school districts more flexibility, and Mrs. Obama doesn’t like it. (Again, nothing really surprising here; call me when the USDA loses this fight to the 5th graders.) Mrs. Obama explained her motivation:

Michelle Obama… said at a roundtable yesterday with school leaders and nutrition experts that “so many kids write me every day” about the “health crisis in this country.”

This would be unremarkable, except for way the Republican bill works:

“It’s really not opt out. They’re granted a one-year waiver. And it’s only for the schools that are finding it hard to meet,” Rep. Robert Aderholt told CNN….

“This is saying if you’re having a problem, that you can ask for a waiver and the USDA can grant you a waiver.”

So let’s get this straight: The peasants petition the queen to do something about the health crisis. So the king’s ministers issue a decree that must be followed by all the country’s schools throughout the land. And the GOP response? To mitigate the decree, local schools can petition the king’s ministers for a one-year deferral.

What happened to local control of schools? Why can’t local citizens fix their own school lunch problems? And why is the USDA taking direction from the First Lady, who has no constitutional authority? And what happened to the idea of laws duly passed by the legislature, that apply equally to all?

And finally: Is this why we elected Tea Partiers to congress in 2010 and 2012 — to ratify the legitimacy of an arbitrary, centralized regulatory authority?

The institutions of the Republic still operate, but some days it seems to me as if we no longer live under a republican form of government.

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  1. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    I keep wondering what happened to children brown bagging lunch, making lunch for your kid strikes me a bare minimum parenting skill.

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Roberto:

    I keep wondering what happened to children brown bagging lunch, making lunch for your kid strikes me a bare minimum parenting skill.

    I’ve mentioned it before, but growing up in Soviet Canuckistan I was always envious of the schools we’d see on American tv shows like The Wonder Years. None of our schools had cafeterias! We had to bring our lunch from home.

    • #2
  3. 3rd angle projection Member
    3rd angle projection
    @

    This is the problem from the git go. Top down. Same with Common Core. Top down. In fact, most of our problems are from the Top Down.

    For any school related problems, the answers should start at the individual schools, then, if need be, move to the school district, then, if need be, to the county and finally, if need be, the state. And there it stops, at the stateline. Pretty straightforward.

    • #3
  4. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Hmm, some interesting side effects from these royal decrees:

    A report by local Washington D.C. news station NBC4 indicates that over 60,000 low-income students in the area are skipping lunch, dissatisfied with the food offered to them by their schools.

    The kids’ failure to eat is costing the schools big money, as they lose $3 in federal subsidies every time a student on free lunch forgoes taking a meal. That’s $180,000 a day, adding up to over $32 million in a school year lasting approximately 180 days. School officials say the lost subsidies are straining their budgets, as they need the money to pay for healthier food options mandated by Congress.

    • #4
  5. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    I haven’t looked into this issue much, but I am willing to bet that the biggest problem with the government’s new standards isn’t the food the guidelines themselves, but rather the inability to implement them.  By which I mean this. Healthy food is in fact very tasty (and I am not a health nut here). Healthy food is vegetables like tomatoes, radishes, green onions, fruits like apples, pears, cherries, it is fresh cooked fish, slow roasted chicken, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, eggs… all of this stuff tastes amazing some of it even when it isn’t cooked. The catch is this. It tastes best when it is fresh, and if it is to be cooked it has to be cooked well. Now in my 10 years of going to public schools there is one thing I can say with certainty, school cafeterias are not staffed by trained chefs. The the fried food they produced was barely passable in the taste department, I think there is little hope anything else they touch will be any better. 

    Step one to healthy school lunches should be getting good cooks, which of course it the first step of any good restaurant.

    • #5
  6. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Son,

    You bring up an interesting point.  Does the Surgeon General endorse what the First Lady is doing?  Has anybody asked?  Does the AMA?  How in the world is this politician qualified to demand action on a Health issue in the first place?

    The women appears to have quite a big mouth in the photo.  Perhaps that is her qualification.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
  7. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    James Gawron:

    Son,

    You bring up an interesting point. Does the Surgeon General endorse what the First Lady is doing? Has anybody asked? Does the AMA? How in the world is this politician qualified to demand action on a Health issue in the first place?

    The women appears to have quite a big mouth in the photo. Perhaps that is her qualification.

    Regards,

    Jim

     The Surgeon General endorses and supports this, yes. The AMA supports this, yes

    We won’t find protection from the rule of experts amongst in the corridors of liberal power, nor from the trade body of experts.

    • #7
  8. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again:  

    1.  Who is Michelle Obama, and why is she making rules that affect the people of the United States?  Is there an oath she took and I missed it?  What district is she representing in Congress?

    2.  This is a perfect example of the federal gov’t getting its hooks into local gov’t with mandates and dollars.  You don’t follow the mandate some gaggle of incompetents comes up with in DC, you don’t get dollars.  (See also: the federal drinking age mandate circa 1985).

    3.  A dumpy load once tried to implement nationalized health care and was roundly shot down by Congress.  Now, it seems, if you’re the Firstest Lady, you don’t need to worry about niceties like elections and accountability.  You just hold meetings and photo ops, shoveling food into an oversized piehole, while condescension visibly drips from your every pore, and the public will eat it, or else.  Literally.

    When did we become serfs?

    • #8
  9. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Chris Campion:

    It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again:

    1. Who is Michelle Obama, and why is she making rules that affect the people of the United States? Is there an oath she took and I missed it? What district is she representing in Congress? 

    I disagree with her aims, but I have no Constitutional problem with the First Lady advising her husband and making her views publicly known. The United States has never had a more conservatively reforming Presidency than it did under Warren Harding, when Florence Harding was widely, and probably correctly, viewed as the second most powerful person in America. 
    The First Lady takes no oath, but neither does she hold inherent powers. Any power she exercises operates solely through the power of her non-binding advice to those who have taken oaths (or, I guess through her persuasive impact on private citizens, which is also fine).

    • #9
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    What happened to local control of schools? Why can’t local citizens fix their own school lunch problems? And why is the USDA taking direction from the First Lady, who has no constitutional authority? And what happened to the idea of laws duly passed by the legislature, that apply equally to all?

    And finally: Is this why we elected Tea Partiers to congress in 2010 and 2012 — to ratify the legitimacy of an arbitrary, centralized regulatory authority?

    All good questions. Perhaps the Republican goal is not smaller government but a kinder gentler form of totalitarianism.

    • #10
  11. She Member
    She
    @She

    James Of England:

    Chris Campion:

    It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again:

    1. Who is Michelle Obama, and why is she making rules that affect the people of the United States? Is there an oath she took and I missed it? What district is she representing in Congress?

    I disagree with her aims, but I have no Constitutional problem with the First Lady advising her husband and making her views publicly known. The United States has never had a more conservatively reforming Presidency than it did under Warren Harding, when Florence Harding was widely, and probably correctly, viewed as the second most powerful person in America. The First Lady takes no oath, but neither does she hold inherent powers. Any power she exercises operates solely through the power of her non-binding advice to those who have taken oaths (or, I guess through her persuasive impact on private citizens, which is also fine).

     And where do I go to opt out of the fact that my tax money is being spent implementing the non-binding ‘advice’ of this woman who has no authority, other than the largest bully pulpit in the world, to start anything or to do anything with my money?

    I have quite a few good ideas myself, but I’m not married to the President of the United States, so I suspect that most of them are of no interest to the fawning oath takers in Washington.

    The fact that Michelle Obama has this power,  (and it is power), and that we give it to her, simply because of who she’s related to, is just another irony that is lost on the Left, the feminists, and the people who hate Prince Charles (who is a twit, I’ll grant you that).

    • #11
  12. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    James Of England: The United States has never had a more conservatively reforming Presidency than it did under Warren Harding, when Florence Harding was widely, and probably correctly, viewed as the second most powerful person in America. The First Lady takes no oath, but neither does she hold inherent powers. Any power she exercises operates solely through the power of her non-binding advice to those who have taken oaths (or, I guess through her persuasive impact on private citizens, which is also fine).

     If the Federal executive had the same powers today that it had under Harding, it would be less of an issue. But today, the President controls a vast regulatory authority, and no one in that apparatus wants to get on the chief executive’s bad side by saying “no” to his wife. Also, if there were an indication that the president and First Lady respected the constitutional limits of the office, it would be less troubling. But they are constantly angling to expand the powers of the office.

    So schoolchildren don’t write their Congressional representatives — much less their state representatives, or their local school boards — and instead write to the First Lady for help.

    • #12
  13. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Chris Campion:

    It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again:

    1. Who is Michelle Obama, and why is she making rules that affect the people of the United States? Is there an oath she took and I missed it? What district is she representing in Congress?

    2. This is a perfect example of the federal gov’t getting its hooks into local gov’t with mandates and dollars. You don’t follow the mandate some gaggle of incompetents comes up with in DC, you don’t get dollars. (See also: the federal drinking age mandate circa 1985).

    3. A dumpy load once tried to implement nationalized health care and was roundly shot down by Congress. Now, it seems, if you’re the Firstest Lady, you don’t need to worry about niceties like elections and accountability. You just hold meetings and photo ops, shoveling food into an oversized piehole, while condescension visibly drips from your every pore, and the public will eat it, or else. Literally.

    When did we become serfs?

     Triple Dawg Like.  Michelle Obama has exactly zero authority to implement any law or program. 

    • #13
  14. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    She:
    And where do I go to opt out of the fact that my tax money is being spent implementing the non-binding ‘advice’ of this woman who has no authority, other than the largest bully pulpit in the world, to start anything or to do anything with my money?

    I have quite a few good ideas myself, but I’m not married to the President of the United States, so I suspect that most of them are of no interest to the fawning oath takers in Washington.

    The fact that Michelle Obama has this power, (and it is power), and that we give it to her, simply because of who she’s related to, is just another irony that is lost on the Left, the feminists, and the people who hate Prince Charles (who is a twit, I’ll grant you that).

     You go to the same place that leftists go when they complain that the NRA or Rush have excessive power. One of the consequences of living in a democracy is that one must accept that some people will have the ear of the people, and of its elected government, more than others.  I cannot imagine what a law would look like that would provide you with access to the President equal to his wife’s, but I feel confident that I would oppose it. 

    • #14
  15. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Vance Richards:

    What happened to local control of schools? Why can’t local citizens fix their own school lunch problems? And why is the USDA taking direction from the First Lady, who has no constitutional authority? And what happened to the idea of laws duly passed by the legislature, that apply equally to all?

    And finally: Is this why we elected Tea Partiers to congress in 2010 and 2012 — to ratify the legitimacy of an arbitrary, centralized regulatory authority?

    All good questions. Perhaps the Republican goal is not smaller government but a kinder gentler form of totalitarianism.

     Either that, or Republicans are politically inept, and haven’t figured out that they can use tactical opportunities (broad popular opposition to the school lunch changes) to advance strategic goals (reducing the size and scope of government). I’m not going to guess what’s in their hearts. Either way, though, it makes me question whether it’s worth expending any effort to elect them. It sometimes seems like a choice between going over the cliff at 90 MPH vs. going over the cliff at 45 MPH.

    • #15
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Son of Spengler:

    James Of England

    If the Federal executive had the same powers today that it had under Harding, it would be less of an issue. But today, the President controls a vast regulatory authority, and no one in that apparatus wants to get on the chief executive’s bad side by saying “no” to his wife….

    So schoolchildren don’t write their Congressional representatives — much less their state representatives, or their local school boards — and instead write to the First Lady for help.

     Kids do the darndest things. They also write notes to Santa, but I still believe the US to be essentially a capitalist economy rather than one dominated by charitable saints. 

    I mean, honestly, the USDA influence on school lunches is hardly the government’s most terrifying power.  If Obama had any close advisers with very strong views on a subject of this magnitude, it seems likely that he’d listen. Denying Michelle the right to be a close adviser to her husband seems eccentric. I don’t get the impression that she’s the primary figure in the nation’s chief policy debates; defense cuts, the Obama Cadillac tax, and such. 

    • #16
  17. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    “so many kids write me every day” about the “health crisis in this country.”

    Oh right. I’m sure there are stacks of letters from 7th-graders who have taken it upon themselves to lament … to the First Lady, because of course she’s the one who can effect change and 7th-graders know this … about their perceptions of the national health crisis.

    If my daughter ever wrote such a letter, I’d lock her up. Or even worse … I’d make her eat a potato. 

    To explain … from Michelle Obama’s op-ed yesterday:

    Right now, the House of Representatives is considering a bill to override science by mandating that white potatoes be included on the list of foods that women can purchase using WIC dollars. 

    The horror, the horror … potatoes. Potatoes “override science.” Sheesh. 

    • #17
  18. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    It is not easy to come up with a diet that simultaneously solves the problems of hunger and obesity, both of which are epidemic according to Michelle Obama.  Here’s me taking a crack at it:  A cheeseburger and a vitamin pill.  The perfect meal.

    • #18
  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Son of Spengler:

    Vance Richards:

    And finally: Is this why we elected Tea Partiers to congress in 2010 and 2012 — to ratify the legitimacy of an arbitrary, centralized regulatory authority?

    All good questions. Perhaps the Republican goal is not smaller government but a kinder gentler form of totalitarianism.

    Either that, or Republicans are politically inept, and haven’t figured out that they can use tactical opportunities (broad popular opposition to the school lunch changes) to advance strategic goals (reducing the size and scope of government). I’m not going to guess what’s in their hearts. Either way, though, it makes me question whether it’s worth expending any effort to elect them. It sometimes seems like a choice between going over the cliff at 90 MPH vs. going over the cliff at 45 MPH.

     Or perhaps the Republicans are aware that the Senate is more likely to pass minor corrections than fundamental shifts? Maybe they want to make an actual, minor, improvement to Americans lives, and they know that they may be able to do that with this bill, whereas something that dramatically reduced the DofEd would be a fun political stunt but would achieve nothing substantive. 

    • #19
  20. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    James Of England:
    Or perhaps the Republicans are aware that the Senate is more likely to pass minor corrections than fundamental shifts? Maybe they want to make an actual, minor, improvement to Americans lives, and they know that they may be able to do that with this bill, whereas something that dramatically reduced the DofEd would be a fun political stunt but would achieve nothing substantive.

    I wasn’t suggesting that Republicans try to achieve all their strategic priorities all at once. I was suggesting that they try to advance them. So rather than cementing the role of the USDA in school lunches, they could (for example) propose a repeal of the 2010 law — which Democrats passed on a party-line vote — that granted the USDA the authority to set the new nutrition standards. That’s a far cry from dismantling the Dept. of Ed.

    If the GOP focuses on small-ball improvement of people’s lives while ratifying the overarching statism that Democrats impose, they do not help people in the long run. That’s the same logic that suggests “keeping the good parts” of Obamacare.

    • #20
  21. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    James Of England: Kids do the darndest things. They also write notes to Santa, but I still believe the US to be essentially a capitalist economy rather than one dominated by charitable saints

     Two reactions. First, Democrats have promoted a cult of personality around the Obamas as with no president since JFK. Remember the videos of school performances with children singing paeans to the president? The loyalty oath video by Hollywood celebrities? The incessant Obama photos produced by the White House (e.g. a photo of Obama upon the death of Maya Angelou)? The videos of people who expect Obama to pay for their mortgages and cell phone bills?

    More importantly, even if Mrs. Obama made up these letters as a prop, I haven’t seen anyone in government or the media questioning the idea that such letters should be the basis for setting a nationwide nutrition policy. At least Carter got some grief for his consultations with Amy. We’ve gotten to the point where kids’ letters to the First Lady are considered a constructive civic expression.

    • #21
  22. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Michelle Obama… said at a roundtable yesterday with school leaders and nutrition experts that “so many kids write me every day” about the “health crisis in this country.”

     There is no doubt in my mind that this is a lie. (The only way this could be true is if legions of public school teachers required their charges to write to the First Lady about a health crisis. And this, I admit, could be true.)

    So I’m sure it’s a lie. But it’s the “good lie” and therefore we’ll just avert our eyes.

    I hate the lies most of all.

    • #22
  23. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Son of Spengler:

    More importantly, even if Mrs. Obama made up these letters as a prop, I haven’t seen anyone in government or the media questioning the idea that such letters should be the basis for setting a nationwide nutrition policy. At least Carter got some grief for his consultations with Amy. We’ve gotten to the point where kids’ letters to the First Lady are considered a constructive civic expression.

    That’s because the media-driven culture supports the idea that children are pure and unsullied creatures who have natural wisdom that we must tap into while they are young, before such wisdom is socialized out of them by their fathers.

    • #23
  24. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    Roberto:

    I keep wondering what happened to children brown bagging lunch, making lunch for your kid strikes me a bare minimum parenting skill.

     I remembered this story.
    I also had the experience of providing snacks for snack time when my kids were in pre-k and kindergarten: no home made items, no peanuts (no one was allergic in my childrens classes), no nuts, no added sugar, low fat, no whole fruits.  So we got juice boxes (100% fruit juice) and granola bars.  It’s past ridiculous.

    • #24
  25. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Why do schools following Mrs. Obama’s wishes? School districts receive subsidized food support from the USDA. In order to receive “Lunch” welfare, the school districts must conform to rules and regulations put forth by the Federal government.

    • #25
  26. She Member
    She
    @She

    James Of England:

    She: And where do I go to opt out of the fact that my tax money is being spent implementing the non-binding ‘advice’ of this woman who has no authority, other than the largest bully pulpit in the world, to start anything or to do anything with my money? . . . .

    You go to the same place that leftists go when they complain that the NRA or Rush have excessive power. One of the consequences of living in a democracy is that one must accept that some people will have the ear of the people, and of its elected government, more than others. I cannot imagine what a law would look like that would provide you with access to the President equal to his wife’s, but I feel confident that I would oppose it.

     Um.  I think you misread my comment.   Access to the President has nothing to do with it.  And if Michelle would like to get down and dirty and wrestle in the mud with Limbaugh and the NRA, to see how much success she can muster, and how much money she can make  in the world of free ideas and the free marketplace, then I would invite her to go for it.

    But I suspect she won’t.

    You are correct in that our ‘democracy’ is flawed, and that parasites and limpets suck up  far too much attention and power in proportion to their usefulness.  

    However, I don’t think it’s impolite, or inappropriate, or hopeless, to suggest that it’s not the role of  “First Lady,”  a woman who’s never run for anything and who occupies no elected, or even appointed, political office, to use the fact that she’s married to the President of the United States to lean on, bully, and ram through significant social legislation that isn’t a part of her husband’s unfortunate mandate to govern, and which isn’t a part of any platform that he ran on.

    And if you don’t think that her vision of herself includes her ability to do any or all of the above, in addition to the point of the OP, see here for more on her vendetta against white potatoes.  (Hmmm.)

    • #26
  27. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    The Obamas give the term “bully pulpit” a whole new meaning.

    • #27
  28. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    She: ……significant social legislation that isn’t a part of her husband’s unfortunate mandate to govern, and which isn’t a part of any platform that he ran on.

     I think that Obama ran on this stuff. I don’t know if you recall this wonderful video from 2008, but he’s always been kind of interested  in dietary criticism. Now, perhaps you disagree; fine. My fallback position would be that all Presidents do some minor stuff that they didn’t run on, that this isn’t one of his more important reforms, and that even if it were an important reform, Presidents get to do important things that they did not campaign on. Always have done. 

    My second fallback position is that even if voters weren’t aware that they were electing progressives in this regard in 2008, they sure as heck were aware that they were getting two Presidents of the price of one, as the old Texas slogan goes, in 2012. Lets Move was extremely high profile, and was pretty popular. 

    • #28
  29. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Son of Spengler:

    James Of England: Kids do the darndest things. They also write notes to Santa, but I still believe the US to be essentially a capitalist economy rather than one dominated by charitable saints

    Two reactions. First, Democrats have promoted a cult of personality around the Obamas as with no president since JFK. Remember the videos of school performances with children singing paeans to the president? The loyalty oath video by Hollywood celebrities? The incessant Obama photos produced by the White House (e.g. a photo of Obama upon the death of Maya Angelou)? The videos of people who expect Obama to pay for their mortgages and cell phone bills?

     I thought that the loyalty oath was tacky and dislike a lot of the Obama campaign’s tactics. I’m not a fan of Michelle Obama, or of her position on this issue. My disagreement with you is simply over a: the Constitutional position; I don’t think there’s anything Constitutionally wrong with having important advisers or with having your wife be one of them and b: the Republican response; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying sincerely to mitigate harm rather than pointlessly grandstanding. 

    • #29
  30. West Facing Squirrel Inactive
    West Facing Squirrel
    @WestFacingSquirrel

    All I have to say is a hearty thanks to Michelle Obama.  My children have decided that a homemade lunch is far better than the cafeteria food at school, and it has saved me over $75 a month since the new food regulations were implemented!

    • #30
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