August 12, 2015

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Peter Whoriskey of WaPo who was last in Pickings June 1st when he reported on new research on salt, is back again popping bubbles. Turns out what the government nutritionists were telling us about the critical importance of breakfast is bogus. Fancy that, the government got something wrong! 

Researchers at a New York City hospital several years ago conducted a test of the widely accepted notion that skipping breakfast can make you fat.

For some nutritionists, this idea is an article of faith. Indeed, it is enshrined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government’s advice book, which recommends having breakfast every day because “not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight.”

As with many nutrition tips, though, including some offered by the Dietary Guidelines, the tidbit about skipping breakfast is based on scientific speculation, not certainty, and indeed, it may be completely unfounded, as the experiment in New York indicated.

At 8:30 in the morning for four weeks, one group of subjects got oatmeal, another got frosted corn flakes and a third got nothing. And the only group to lose weight was … the group that skipped breakfast. Other trials, too, have similarly contradicted the federal advice, showing that skipping breakfast led to lower weight or no change at all.

“In overweight individuals, skipping breakfast daily for 4 weeks leads to a reduction in body weight,” the researchers from ColumbiaUniversity concluded in a paper published last year.

A closer look at the way that government nutritionists adopted the breakfast warning for the Dietary Guidelines shows how loose scientific guesses — possibly right, possibly wrong — can be elevated into hard-and-fast federal nutrition rules that are broadcast throughout the United States. …




WSJ Editors write on more government incompetence; this time the EPA.

‘Ghostbusters” has been playing again on cable, so we are reminded that the villain of that movie classic was a bully from the Environmental Protection Agency. He broke the ghost-containment grid and all hell broke loose. So who you gonna call today when the E-men dump three million gallons of toxic slurry down the rivers of the West?

Last week an EPA hazmat team hoped to inspect an abandoned Gold Rush-era mine near Durango, Colorado, and the backhoe digging out the collapsed cave entrance breached a retaining wall. The blowout spilled the contaminated sludge that had accumulated for nearly a century in the mine’s tunnels into a creek that is a tributary of the AnimasRiver, flowing at a rate of 740 gallons a minute.

The plume of lead, arsenic, mercury, copper, cadmium and other heavy metals turned the water a memorable shade of yellow-orange chrome. …

… Naturally, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, known as the Superfund law, gives EPA clean-up crews immunity from the trial bar when they are negligent. Yet the Durango blowout was entirely avoidable.

In an Aug. 8 “incident report,” the EPA notes that “the intent of the investigation was to create access to the mine, assess on-going water releases from the mine to treat mine water, and assess the feasibility of further mine remediation.” In other words, the mine was plugged, and the EPA was excavating in search of some notional make-work problem to solve. …





Jon Gabriel writes one for the “normal” guy. That would be our fav – Scott Walker.

Despite what The Donald and Jeb! and Carly said in last week’s debate, Scott Walker’s closing statement tackled an even larger elephant in the room: “I’m a guy with a wife, two kids, and a Harley. One article called me ‘aggressively normal.’” The Wisconsin Governor’s detractors aren’t as euphemistic. Let’s face it: Scott Walker is B-O-R-I-N-G.

He brags about the bargain rack at Kohl’s. He spends his Sunday mornings at church and his Sunday afternoons watching the Packers. He live-tweets his haircuts and getting the oil changed in his Saturn. His only unhealthy obsession seems to be an addiction to hot ham and rolls after church. (He really loves hot ham.)

In a news cycle filled with burning cities, beheaded Christians, and transgendered Kardashians, how does a dull Midwesterner stand out? He showed how Thursday night. To paraphrase a reporter talking about Barry Goldwater’s presidential strategy, “my God, Walker is running as Walker!”

This isn’t the first time a politician listed “aggressively normal” as a selling point. In 1920, America’s political climate was in even greater tumult than today’s. President Wilson had fundamentally transformed the federal government into an oppressive entity that regularly jailed detractors, instituted a then-unimaginable level of regulation, and created the first income tax. Our battered soldiers returned from the charnel houses of Europe to find an executive branch pushing for an even more robust internationalism. By the time the president was incapacitated by stroke (a fact hidden for months), most Americans had had enough. …




Walter Russell Mead writes on Trump. He closes with a few ‘graphs on the farce we endure during the election season.

… Trump is a sham, of course, but for many Americans in 2015 the whole political process is a sham. Trump, however, is an entertaining sham, and some voters think that if the establishment is going to screw you no matter what you do, you might as well vote for the funny one.

So it doesn’t matter that Trump’s positions (insofar as he has taken any) are unpopular, or that he is so obviously and outrageously a member of the economic elite that has so many Americans riled up this year—indeed, it may help him. Donald Trump is living large, which is how many Americans wish they could live.

In part, also, Trump’s popularity is the result of harmless good fun; our two-year presidential electoral cycle is a ridiculous spectacle and the reporters and pundits who discuss the horse race in such diligent detail are chasing will o’ the wisps and wasting time. Many of the people who answer the polls that get analyzed to death in long, thumb sucker pieces aren’t thinking seriously about how they will vote more than a year from now. You can also tell a pollster that you plan to vote for Trump simply, as George Wallace used to put it back in 1968, to “send them a message.” Trump offers average Americans the chance to pull the Establishment’s chain, and then watch the wonks and the pundits jerk and squeal. This is a lot of fun for the tens of millions of people out there who think the whole political class consists of high-minded incompetents and unprincipled parasites.

Nihilistic populism, that is, can also be a powerful phenomenon.