Jared Polis Has A National Security Threat To Address-- Obesity

Even if you're not a TV aficionado you've probably gathered enough from the zeitgeist to know the story of Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, and Huntington, West Virginia, America's most obese city. Celebrity chef goes to the country's fattest town to teach the kids-- and their parents-- about good nutrition; he doesn't get lynched, but most of the people of Huntington aren't interested in his advice. Three months after the show, Jamie returned to Huntington to discover:

• That beleaguered bureaucrat Rhonda was unable to cope with the government-ordered processed food supply that was piling up while the school systems’ various cook staffs used Jamie’s fresh-food recipes. So she instituted “Processed Food Friday” as a way to unload all the excess french fries and chicken nuggets down the gullets of the children. Oh yeah, and Jamie’s bete noire (vache noire?)-- chocolate milk-- is back in the cafeteria hand-out bins.

• Parents, apparently either sick of hearing their kids whine about having to eat veggies at school or sick of Jamie’s British accent honking on about health, started increasing the number of bag-lunches with which they sent their kids to school. Oliver asks one small child to show him the lunch her deeply caring parent prepared so lovingly for her: potato chips and jelly beans. Another kid is eating out of a bag of McDonald’s food. Says Oliver with snorting indignation, “Even makin’ an old-fashioned sandwich is out of fashion now!”

• Also dismaying: Jamie learns that, once Food Revolution began airing on ABC, Alice-- the tough-minded cafeteria cook who was quite sensibly skeptical of Oliver’s promises initially-- got a lot of hate mail from people around the country. Can you believe that? It’s one thing to disagree with a citizen you see on TV, but hate mail?

In the end, what was most admirable about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is that it didn’t try to tidy up the complexities surrounding his simple fresh-is-good message. The people Oliver dealt with were frequently hamstrung by state or federal laws about what could and could not be provided to the school system or served there. And there’s also the problem you don’t have to explain to anyone who’s ever taught in a public school or attended a school-board meeting: As Jamie puts it, “Everyone is obsessed with not upsetting the parents.” The result: a combination of pushiness and spinelessness that ends up, in this case, making the good food program difficult, if not impossible, to implement.

Jared Polis (D-CO) over for a chat today. We ran into him at a friend's house about a month ago and we were fascinated by a bill he had introduced, H.R. 4870, the Healthy School Meals Act. He'll be joining us below, in the comments section, for a discussion of the bill and the ramifications of the obesity epidemic. Epidemic? You bet-- and worse. The Pentagon is complaining that the have an exploding manpower shortage based on obesity and it's actually turning into a serious national security threat.

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Blue America Welcomes Judy Feder (VA-10)

Our Blue America candidate today is Judy Feder from northern Virginia in the 'burbs outside Washington, an area that used to be dependably Republican but... well no more. Judy joins us at Firedoglake today at 2pm (EST) for a two-hour discussion of the issues in her campaign, particularly health care policy, her field of expertise. But just because she is the dean of Georgetown's Policy Institute and has spent an entire career trying to figure out how to make universal health care work for all Americans, that doesn't mean she isn't paying attention to the other issues important to us all. This morning Judy sent me two things, the video intro she shot for us last night and the answer to a question about FISA and if she would be any different from the rubber stamp incumbent, Frank Wolf, who has been a big backer of warrantless wiretapping and retroactive immunity. Judy's response:

No one in this country should be above the law and saying Alberto Gonzales told me it was okay is hardly an excuse. I oppose retroactive immunity for the telecoms who engaged in illegal surveillance. Unfortunately, Frank Wolf has again sided with the President on this issue voting in favor of immunity for those who circumvented the FISA courts and our legal process.

If you decide to donate to Judy's campaign today-- or to any Blue America candidate you want to see elected-- don't forget that this is the end of our Air America contest and if you add in a penny it goes as a vote towards that candidate. Donate here at our Blue America page.

Blue Dog McIntyre Flip-Flops on SCHIP! UPDATED


It looks like pressure paid off. Mike McIntyre announced this afternoon that he has changed his stand on SCHIP. More from the release...

Congressman McIntyre stated, "As a long-time advocate for children for over 25 years, and as one who has consistently supported family health issues, I will not support President Bush's veto of the SCHIP bill, and I will vote to override his veto. My objection to the method of funding for this bill and my support of North Carolina's farmers and the economic well-being of our communities are well-known, but I have always supported the SCHIP program and will do what is necessary to preserve it for the sake of children and families in need. As Chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee that oversees tobacco, I will also continue to do all that I can to support our farmers and our region's economy. That commitment has not changed with this vote for our children."

This flip-flop comes in the wake of national pressure, local pressure from Wilmington, NC MoveOn members, and bad publicity in the Wilmington, NC StarNews newspaper.

The Bush Dogs are feeling the pressure, as Jane says, two down and three to go...keep up those calls and letters.

UPDATE: Please donate here so we can keep the pressure up with our Blue America ad campaign.

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