Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions
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Texas Comptroller Susan Combs was interviewed for "Weight of the Nation," the HBO documentary on obesity that premiered last week. She has tried without success to get Texas to increase the number of hours of physical activity required in schools. Only 4 percent of U.S. elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools and 2 percent of high schools provide daily physical education. Ms. Combs warned: "Obesity will crush the United States, and we will fade in the rearview mirror in oblivion. We could have done something different, we should have done something different, and we lacked the moral fiber and love for our children to do the right thing."
Chris Briem at Null Space addresses the conflict over the giant, rusting Bayer/Pittsburgh billboard on Mount Washington, pointing out that there is nothing new about battles over that billboard or others in Pittsburgh. He cites disputes dating back to 1896 and posts a clip from the Mount Washington News of Dec. 3, 1954, that reports, in part:
"Like the fellow that had the bear by the tail, the Pittsburgh Outdoor Advertising Co. may find it a little difficult to disengage itself gracefully from the fight which centers about its monster billboard on the Mt. Washington hillside in Duquesne Heights.
"Public resentment was roused to a high pitch by a tactless letter from an official of the company which referred to Mt. Washington as a collection of dilapidated homes and business houses. Now the Board of Trade has got into the act, firing off a hot letter to the official in question asking how in the heck he can expect people to beautify their homes when the company insists on slapping billboards smack up against their property."
Josh Barro of the Manhattan Institute: "Indiana's experience with reform of collective bargaining rules for government employees suggests that similar changes adopted by the administration of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, although uneven in their impact to date, hold the potential to control costs and limit public sector workforce layoffs over time. Indiana abolished collective bargaining for state employees six years ago. According to the most recent data, Indiana has succeeded in limiting cutbacks in public employment, while not raising state taxes. The Indiana experience also contrasts with that of another Wisconsin neighbor, Illinois, which, although it also limited public employment cutbacks, did so only after a significant state tax increase."
The Borowitz Report: "In a covert mission to destroy what remains of al-Qaida, the CIA has been infiltrating the terror network with executives from banking giant JP Morgan Chase. The mission came to light when al-Qaida dismissed two top officials charged with 'unacceptably speculative' betting with the organization's funds on credit default swaps. Pressed about the covert mission, CIA Director David Petraeus confirmed that it had been a resounding success, telling reporters, 'If you're serious about putting someone out of business, there's no one better than these JP Morgan guys. One of them can do more damage than a thousand drone strikes.' "
Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post examines President Obama's view that marriage law remains a state prerogative and hopes the Supreme Court someday says that states cannot ban same-sex marriage: "Where fundamental rights are involved, where the groups being targeted have a history of being discriminated against, their freedom to marry should not depend on whether they live in Mississippi or Massachusetts. The president, as a former constitutional law professor and, even more, as the son of a couple whose marriage would have been illegal in 22 states, surely understands this point. States, like presidents, evolve. But in the end, the rights of gay Americans, as those of African Americans, cannot be left to majority whim."
Dave Juliette at One Man's Tofu writes about Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich's primary loss to Rep. Marcy Kaptur after their Ohio districts were merged by Republican state legislators: "In an era when gerrymandering has made congressional districts in Republican-controlled states look like visions from an acid trip, more and more incumbent Democrats are facing off against one another. We saw it right here in Western Pennsylvania this spring when incumbent Jason Altmire lost to Mark Critz in a new district cobbled together by Pennsylvania Republicans.
"Republicans learned long ago that winning an election fair and square was for chumps, and so they do whatever they can do within the confines of the law -- and if the law is too confining, then they simply change it -- to ensure Republican victories. And this means that everything from gerrymandering to laws forcing voters to show photo IDs at the polls -- something that Democrats are more likely to lack than Republicans -- is fair game."
First Published May 20, 2012 12:00 am