Monthly Archives: August 2008

The Government is Making Me Eat Healthily!

All those who don’t follow the guidelines for good eating and no smoking are just going to have fewer choices available to them.  Free will to be self-destructive is about to managed by the government.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a one-year moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in a 32 square-mile area of South Los Angeles, an area plagued by above-average rates of obesity:  30% of adults, as compared with about 21% in the rest of LA.  Nationally, 25.6% of adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When you look at the realities, an intact family with a homemaker mom or dad (versus a two-career, busy, busy, busy set of parents) generally results in everyone eating less fast food, and more nutritious at-home meals.  But promoting marriage and a division of responsibilities is politically incorrect, isn’t it?

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law ordering that, as of 2010, no California restaurant will be able to serve foods containing a harmful form of fats called trans fats.  Baked goods containing trans fats will be banned in California as of 2011.  If a product’s list of ingredients contains the words “partially hydrogenated,” the product contains trans fat, which is used to harden vegetable oils into shortening and margarine to help extend product shelf life.  Trans fats lower “good” cholesterol (HDL) and contribute to other health problems.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, eliminating artificial trans fats from the food supply “could” prevent between 6 and 19 per cent of heart attacks and related deaths each year. 

Do you think there’ll be an underground market for trans fat products?

San Francisco is ready to become the first city in the nation to ban sales of tobacco products at pharmacies, which last year accounted for almost 20% of U.S. tobacco sales.  The logic is that pharmacies are places people go to get healthy, so cigarettes ought not to be on the shelves as they are a known health hazard. 

Since trans fats are going to be off the supermarket shelves because they’re unhealthy, shouldn’t supermarkets stop selling cigarettes too?

I am all for healthy habits.  I work hard at eating as healthily as possible, generally ordering fish without sauces in restaurants and salad without dressing.  As sauces, gravies, and dressing are very high in calories, perhaps they should be banned from restaurant recipes, or ordered only under a physician’s approval…assuming you already have a very high HDL level.

Lastly, restaurants around the country will soon have to post on menus the exact calorie count of a meal.  It will blow your mind to see what you thought was healthy is actually loaded with hidden calories.  There’s a terrific book, called “Eat This, Not That” which will make your head explode when you find out where calories are hidden in some of your favorite meals.

What Exactly Is Abortion?

A new draft regulation (which is still being revised and debated) from the Department of Health and Human Services will label most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as “abortion,” because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus.  The regulation would consider those items as devices for destroying “the life of a human being.”  The current administration could enact the regulation at any point without Congressional approval.  The next President will have the power to reverse it.

The regulation’s stated purpose is to improve enforcement of existing Federal laws that protect some medical professionals’ “right to refuse to participate or assist in abortion.”  Evidently, the draft argues that “state laws too often coerce health-care workers into providing services they find immoral: requirements that emergency rooms offer rape victims the ‘morning-after’ pill, insurance plans cover contraception as part of prescription-drug benefits, and pharmacists fill prescriptions for birth control.  The draft regulation would weaken these laws by expanding the right of conscientious objection.” (Wall Street Journal, 7/31/08).

I’ve been aggravated by the objections of “Un”-Planned Parenthood and most women’s activist groups to the required 24 hour waiting period, after a woman receives a consultation and mandated description and visualization of her fetus, before a final decision about abortion is made.  I would equally be aggravated if women were not given sufficient informed consent to know what their options were, including the option of contraception.

If a health-care provider believes in good faith that any of these techniques is “killing a child,” then they have the moral and ethical obligation to make a referral, so that any woman can know all of her legal options.

I’d like Planned Parenthood to put an adoption service in every one of their clinics.

Who Picked China for the Olympics?

Being able to breathe seems to be a high priority for Olympic athletes – and in Beijing, that’s going to be a bit of a challenge.  However, according to Associated Press sources, China is working hard at it….cough…cough.

Last week, Beijing’s air pollution index dropped to 44 from its more typical number which is double that.  A reading below 50 is considered “good,” and between 51 and 100 is “moderate,” but “moderate” is still above the World Heath Organization’s guidelines for healthy air.

Their polluted air has prompted the government to begin drastic measures, including the halting of most construction, the closing of machinery, chemical and construction factories, and the imposition of restrictions on half the city’s 3.3 million vehicles. 

Many of the 10,500 Olympic athletes are heading to South Korea, Japan and other places to avoid Beijing’s air for as long as possible.  This is a kind of “reverse doping,” as the impact of the city’s pollution on the health and performance of these athletes is in question.

Yet another risk is that of Islamic terrorism.  Some of you have been led to believe that jihadism is a reaction or reasonable payback to America and her friends for being bad, bad places.  So it might seem strange to you to find out that a Muslim group, claiming responsibility for a series of explosions in Chinese cities, is allegedly planning to attack the Beijing Olympic Games. According to the AP, “earlier this year, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said it had disrupted two plots to attack the Olympics.  It claimed one group had been planning to kidnap athletes, foreign journalists, and other visitors, while a second had been manufacturing explosives and was plotting to attack hotels, government offices, and military targets in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities….”  Just yesterday we heard about sixteen Chinese policemen who were killed in an attack on a border post in the Muslim region of Xinjiang.

As if that were not enough, the Chinese government was planning to censor the  Internet during the games.  Reporters already in Beijing have been unable to access scores of web pages – particularly politically sensitive ones that discuss Tibetan succession and Taiwanese independence, as well as the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers.

Oh, you should know that the International Olympic Committee quietly agreed to the Internet limitations…that is, the blocking of sites that were not Games-related.  There was such an uproarfrom other countries, however, that China has backed off on this deal, and on Friday, the Chinese government announced that it will not censor the Internet during the competition.

In 2001, when China won the right to host the Games, it made the commitment that it would improve its record on human rights and provide athletes with clean air.  Without Friday’s announcement (made only because of outside pressure), that would have made the score zero for two.

Black and White Reigns

Andrew Klavan, an award-winning author of mystery novels, wrote a brilliant op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal (7/25/08) in which he stated exactly what I believe. 

He pointed out that liberal Hollywood films about the war on terror (In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, and Redacted) have all failed, largely because they propose to make the actions and philosophies of terrorists and coalition forces moral “equivalents,” because they disrespect the military, and “seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism.”  These films depict “good” guys as indistinguishable from “bad” guys, ultimately “denigrating the very heroes who defend us.”

Klavan points out that the big blockbuster The Dark Knight, is a conservative movie about the war, like 300 before it, and these films value morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right.  Liberal, ultimately anti-American, films are realistic and direct, while conservative, pro-values films are usually fantasies using comic-inspired heroes (Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Spiderman 3).

What makes the real world difficult is that “good” guys must defend values in a world that does not universally embrace them, and that puts “good” guys in the awful position of sometimes having to be intolerant, unkind, and brutal in order to ultimately defend the “good” values we love.

As a psychotherapist, I talk to people on the air every day who try to keep out of the way of conflict, confrontation, and judgment, so they will be liked and seen as “good” guys.  I remind them that “good” guys risk, and sometimes cross the line, to stand between evil and the innocent who need protection from the few.

Instead, as Klavan points out, “When heroes arise who take those difficulties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness.  We prosecute and execute the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve.”

That means that sometimes good men have to kill (“murder” is to kill an innocent) to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate values in order to maintain those values.  That’s just a fact of real life in which good and evil have always co-existed.