June 14, 2014 at 1:00 am


Other writers, on school lunch, Eric Cantor and Iraq

On school lunch, ignore First Lady

Windsor Mann in Reason : Last month, Michelle Obama took an “unusual” step, The Washington Post reported, “by delivering White House remarks taking issue with makers of frozen pizza and french fries.”

Despite speaking to a carefully selected group of people who already agreed with her, Obama felt herself sufficiently qualified to speak on behalf of all parents. She said she spends every waking minute “thinking and worrying” about “our kids.” What does she think and worry about? The nutritional value of school lunches.

Thanks to her efforts, businesses and schools are forced to divert their time and resources toward “combatting” childhood obesity. Lest they be fined and imprisoned, they must comply with a host of impractical, burdensome regulations so that American children will be statistically less fat and so that the president’s wife can have a cause instead of a job.

“In 10 or 20 years,” Obama said, “I don’t want to look back with regret and think that we gave up on our kids.” So, for our children’s future as well as the first lady’s, we should do whatever she says “as a mother” about an issue involving millions of people and billions of dollars. Question: Besides her motherhood, in what other way is this woman qualified to oversee, as she put it, a “major transformation of our nation’s school-lunch program”?

Nancy Reagan wanted kids to say no to drugs, Laura Bush wanted kids to read, and Obama wants kids to lose weight—noble causes, all of them. No one wants fat illiterate kids who do drugs. But who needs reminding from the first lady?

GOP eats one of its own

Dana Milbank in The Washington Post : Eric Cantor, announcing to his House Republican colleagues Wednesday afternoon that he will resign as majority leader, recalled some wisdom given him recently by a Holocaust survivor: “Suffering is a part of life. Misery is a choice.”

It was typical of Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, to wear his faith on his sleeve as he grappled with his unimaginable loss in Tuesday’s primary.

Minutes after his closed-door remarks to colleagues, the Virginian greeted reporters with thoughts about how, “in the Jewish faith, you know, I grew up, went to Hebrew school, read a lot in the Old Testament, and you learn a lot about individual setbacks.”

Cantor, who had been on course to be the first Jewish speaker of the House, was an important symbol in a party dominated by evangelical Christians. The ouster of the only non-Christian Republican in Congress by a primary challenger running as an immigration hard-liner is a crucial moment for the GOP because it risks cementing the party’s demographic troubles.

In the Jewish tradition, burial generally occurs within a day of death. Cantor’s GOP colleagues took that further, dumping him instantaneously — and unceremoniously — after his unexpected political demise.

Without a decent interval, Republicans hoping to secure a place in the leadership because of Cantor’s misfortune already were calling supporters and putting out feelers Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Reps. Pete Sessions (Tex.), Peter Roskam (Ill.) and Steve Scalise (La.) talked up their candidacies. Those who are not running beat the drums for personal or regional favorites.

Sessions, asked about Cantor’s loss, blamed the victim for not asking for help from his colleagues. “We were all listening to Eric, and he said he was fine,” Sessions, who hopes to succeed Cantor as majority leader, told reporters. “You tend to trust what you’re hearing. These are the kinds of things that must not be left to guess.”

U.S. military can't save Iraq

Nussaibah Younis in The New York Times : The Obama administration must help the Iraqi government retake the city of Mosul from Islamists and stem their march toward Baghdad. But military aid will not be enough. For lasting success, the United States must compel Iraq’s divisive leadership to pursue government by reconciliation just as vigorously as it pursues battlefield victory.

We have learned the hard way that military counterinsurgencies that do not address political grievances always fail.

Unless the Shiite-led Iraqi government adopts radical reforms that address the complaints of Iraq’s Sunni minority, an influx of American weapons will only add fuel to the fire consuming the country.

On Tuesday, Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to Islamist militants led by a breakaway group of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. That puts ISIS, a leading force in the Syrian civil war, dangerously close to its goal: establishing a militant Islamist ministate straddling the two most violent countries in the Middle East. The United States simply cannot allow this, and the Obama administration is indeed responding by pouring military aid into Iraq.

The scope of the militants’ victory shows how desperate the situation is. When ISIS fighters swept into Mosul, a largely Sunni city, they faced virtually no resistance; the armed forces in and around the city shed their uniforms and fled. An estimated 500,000 residents also fled.