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Cheer up, for the worst is yet to come

The title is Jonah Goldberg’s. Apologies for forgetting who/what tipped me off to his recent speech. It wanders, but covers much interesting ground.

  • On the 2012 election: Romney is a good man, but was a poor candidate from a poor field. His consultants’ disdain for ideas and making conservative arguments led to Romney often sounding like nothing more than a right-wing greeting card. This let Obama paint him (however wrongly) as a rich, greedy prude and to win voters on the basis of “who cares more about people like me”.
  • On the 2016 election: It’s rare for a party to win a third term, and we can be sure the Democrats won’t do it with Vice President Biden. Meanwhile, the Republicans will have a stronger field.
  • On the GOP’s long-term prospects: The GOP has the right ideas, the ideas that work, but a huge ‘persuasion problem’. Democrats are better at deploying the language of community – such as “government is the one thing we all belong to”, or Clinton’s remark on the politics of “you’re on your own” vs. the politics of “we’re all in it together”. This is a pity, because in real life, conservatives tend to be better involved in their families, communities and causes larger than themselves.
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The nature of Hugo Chávez’s appeal on the American left?

Does Rich Lowry get it?

Chávez got his first political break in a failed military coup and never lost his taste for militarizing politics. Fidel Castro was his mentor, and he propped up the Castro regime with Venezuela’s ample oil. He funded guerrillas warring against the democratically elected government of Colombia. He praised every heinous dictator around the planet as a brother-in-arms. He was hell on the plutocrats, and also on the Jews. “Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by those wandering Jews,” he warned his countrymen, in a sentiment worthy of the 15th century.

All of this should make Chávez an unsympathetic figure for everyone in America. Not so, sadly. For some, all is forgiven if you hate the rich with a white-hot passion and talk the language of populist redistribution, while wrapping your program in a bow of rancid, paranoid anti-Americanism. Then, every allowance will be made for your thuggery. Everyone will obsess about your colorful and charming personality. And praise you when you’re gone.

Emphasis added.  Via Powerline Picks.

The Dietary Delusion

Over the past few weeks, I have awakened to hear snippets of stories such as this one on NPR about “the obesity epidemic.”  The stories are all part of a series reporting on a recent poll undertaken by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.  The poll looked at the attitudes and the self-reported actions of parents towards the ways their children ate and about their children’s activity levels.

Among the key findings of the survey highlighted in the NPR reports have been these two points:

  • “Recent public opinion polls show that most American adults think obesity is a serious problem for society, but most parents in the poll here are not concerned their own children will become overweight as adults.”
  • “In most cases, parents don’t seem to believe that the way their child ate on a given day is likely to make them gain unhealthy weight.”

The NPR story linked above blames a psychological factor known as “optimism bias,” and says that parents may think they are doing the right things, but really they are just poorly informed and/or deluding themselves.

Since this is an ongoing series on NPR, one can expect it to culminate with an interview with Michelle Obama or someone behind her “Let’s Move” campaign, or with a series of suggestions for more government action, or calls for more spending on government nutrition programs, or possibly with all of the above.

What hasn’t occurred to the geniuses at NPR, though, is that perhaps the parents really have been listening to the advice coming from the government and the media for the past twenty five years and they really do think they are doing the right things, but the advice is flawed.

Ronald Reagan famously remarked that “the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”   In recent years, Gary Taubes has become the best-known of those who have challenged the nutritional and dietary orthodoxy which has been promoting a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.  Writing in Newsweek last spring, he explained that:  “The problem is, the solutions this multi-level campaign promotes are the same ones that have been used to fight obesity for a century—and they just haven’t worked.”

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