Food Policy

The State of Food Policy

From heritage hog bans to the "sriracha apocalypse"


From the USDA's ridiculous expansion of the National School Lunch Program to the FDA's move to ban trans fats, I've been downright terrified by developments in food policy so far this year. As I wrote here last month, "February 2014 may go down as the worst month for food freedom since the New Deal era."

While I stand by my claim that this year is the worst in recent (or even distant) memory, a little perspective is always useful. To that end, I asked a handful of experts from different fields, perspectives, and regions what, in the respective opinion of each, is the most interesting food-policy development so far this year—for better or worse—and where they see us heading for the rest of the year. I encouraged them to focus their response on any federal, state, or local legislation or regulations (or some combination).

Kristin Canty, Producer/Director, Farmageddon

The food freedom movement has had a few positive developments so far this year.

On the state level, heritage breed hog farmers had a big victory in Michigan. Mark and Jill Baker, owners of Baker's Green Acres, a very successful grass based farm, have been under siege by the government for raising heritage breed hogs. They, and other farmers raising them for food were told that their hogs were feral and needed to be shot or they could pose a danger to Detroit. Many other farmers caved in and shot their pigs, however, Mark and Jill decided to fight the long battle with the state. Last month, a judge ruled that Mark and Jill could continue to raise their hogs.

At the federal level, Rep. Pingree (D-Maine) and Rep. Massie (R-Ky.) have proposed legislation that if passed would protect farmers from federal interference: "The Milk Freedom Act of 2014" and the "Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014[.]" Both representatives are farmers. Let's hope that 2014 continues to go in this positive direction.

Helena Bottemiller Evich, Reporter, Politico

I think one of the biggest developments so far this year was the unveiling of the Nutrition Facts panel update. Revamping the design and policy behind the iconic panel is a big deal in and of itself–it's the first overhaul since the labels were mandated in the 1990s–but it's particularly interesting that First Lady Michelle Obama announced the proposed policy at the White House. She's publicly endorsed–and her staff was involved in crafting–a bold policy that will impact every American consumer.

I say bold because the plan is controversial for much of the food industry. The mandate to list added sugars along with updating the serving sizes to be more in line with the larger portions Americans are eating two of the biggest concerns, but Obama has made it pretty clear these two changes are here to stay. Expect to hear more about these issues in the coming year.

Jason Foscolo, Attorney, The Food Law Firm

The most interesting news so far this year has been the FDA's announcement it will overhaul food labeling regulations. This may come as a surprise, but federal food labeling reg[ulation]s are excruciatingly detailed and comprehensive. It takes a big commitment to understand them if you run a food business now, pre-overhaul. Without a doubt, small to midsize manufacturers are going to have to re-familiarize themselves just to stay compliant, and this will come at a cost.

Professor Ernesto Hernández-López, Chapman University Law School

In October of 2013, the Los Angeles suburb of Irwindale went to court to stop production of sriracha, the popular jalapeno-based hot sauce, crafted for Vietnamese pho and used worldwide in myriad dishes. Seeking to "enjoin all operations," Irwindale argues that Huy Fong Foods, maker of sriracha, emits harmful odors. Its city council began public nuisance proceedings. In November, a judge found no credible evidence of health problems associated with odors. As of April 2014, Irwindale has not dropped the suit or ended nuisance proceedings. This has been labeled "sriracha apocalypse" and "srirachagate," with sauce fans fearing an end to Bon Appétit's 2010 Ingredient of the Year and Cook's Illustrated's best-tasting hot sauce. The immediate lesson: cooks and foodies beware. The larger lesson: food producers be careful of local governments and their legal authority.

Professor Jayson Lusk, Oklahoma State University

After California voters passed an initiative in 2008 banning certain livestock production practices, notably battery cages in egg production, the California legislature, fearful that its poultry producers would now be at a competitive disadvantage, passed a law requiring imported eggs to meet the same standard. Earlier this year, the Missouri attorney general (now joined by five other states) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the California law. Proponents of California's law point to state's rights to set their own minimum quality standards. Opponents posit that the law violates the federal interstate Commerce Clause and they argue that farmers and ranchers should be free to sell to consumers in any state, presuming they can find willing buyers. The outcome could have significant implications for states' abilities to set their own food safety/quality standards and for the free trade of agricultural products across state lines.

Walter Olson, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

The big, ominous, and still underpublicized story this year has been the Food and Drug Administration's development of regulations to implement Congress' panic-driven, ill-thought-out Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. "Local growers are discovering that proposed FDA regulations would curtail many common techniques, such as using house-made fertilizers and irrigating from creeks," reported the L.A. Times in February. Another batch of new rules will curtail the age-old practice of feeding livestock on spent beer grains, to the dismay of many small brewers and farmers. While I'm ordinarily critical of the FDA's direction under Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, in some of these cases the agency has no choice—the law requires unreasonable results. Too bad for small, local, distinctive, traditional variety in food and farming—and too bad a supposedly anti-corporate, anti-overprocessed food policy culture led by folks like Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, and Marion Nestle will offer no effective resistance.

Michele Simon, Public Health Attorney, Eat Drink Politics

While some food advocates are celebrating the first lady's leadership on meager reforms such as increased font sizes on the Nutrition Facts label, there remains deeper food system challenges that continue to go ignored by the Obama Administration.

NEXT: Tonight on The Independents: Where's the Pork? Featuring a Live Pig We've Named "Pelosi"!

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  1. It takes a big commitment to understand them if you run a food business now, pre-overhaul.

    Well, it takes hiring the attorneys like those who craft them. Which is the point.

    1. Single payer legal care, with non-lawyers writing the rules.

      If it’s good enough for doctors….

      1. Obamalaw??

      2. The lawyers always write the rules. It’s one of the problems. It’s no coincidence that the best Senator we have is not a lawyer.

  2. The immediate lesson: cooks and foodies beware. The larger lesson: food producers be careful of local governments and their legal authority.

    The biggest lesson: take care not to build your factory where you might encroach on the private property of others.

    1. Or piss off the raw people who might suddenly decide you produce a dangerous raw food.

      Officials with the California Department of Public Health said a rule change affecting the company’s production procedure for Sriracha and its other two sauces became necessary after government officials reviewed the manufacturing process earlier this year.

      “The regulations outlining this process have been in existence for years, but the modified production requirements were established for the firm this year,” state Health Department spokeswoman Anita Gore said in a written statement.

      Because Sriracha is not cooked, only mashed and blended, Huy Fong needs to make sure its bottles won’t harbor dangerous bacteria.

  3. Opponents posit that the law violates the federal interstate Commerce Clause and they argue that farmers and ranchers should be free to sell to consumers in any state, presuming they can find willing buyers.

    Someone doesn’t understand the current, sole use of the Commerce Clause.

    1. That use is “Fuck you, that’s why”, of course.

  4. When a socialist is not a socialist.

    If it were, it would be populated by the likes of Catherine Mas-Mezeran, a Parisian mother of three who wrinkles her nose at the mention of President Fran?ois Hollande. She calls him “the Socialist,” which, technically, he is. But if President Obama had the birthers, Hollande now has the baptismists.

    Somehow the head of the Socialist Party is not a Socialist. Fuck, when a European socialist is more honest than an American journalist it’s very bad.

    1. When a socialist is not a socialist.

      When he’s a national socialist.

      1. What gets me is the reflexive nature of it. You know he didn’t think twice when he wrote that sentence. Of course he’s not a socialist, no one in power has ever been a socialist because if they were socialists then no bad things would ever happen.

        As long as two kulaks are meeting in the dead of night to trade some eggs for truck vegetables, everything will be the fault of capitalism.

        1. Maybe they are referring to the fact that many Socialist parties in Europe seem to have given up on the idea of nationalization which usually defined socialism in favor of various ‘third way’ programs.

          1. So then Hollande is a fascist, not a socialist.

            I eagerly await the Post’s correction on this matter.

            1. Not a fan of ‘third way’ programs, but they could be seen as different from fascism in some important ways (less nationalism, racialism, militarism, etc., more devoted to at least some political and civil liberties).

              1. Ever read Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism?

                1. Heard of it, but I find Goldberg pretty superficial on most things.

                  1. It’s not deep scholarship, but the bibliography is there for further reading. I read it when it first came out, and it was very illuminating to me, because I had always kind of subconsciously thought fascism was right wing.

                    The hate mail he got was also always hilarious. Like when people would say that hate and intolerance were objectively right wing. To which he’d also reply that makes Stalin and Mao rightwingers. Which is absurd. But then he’d get another email where some tool would say yes, Stalin and Mao were right wingers because No True Communist would ever set up gulags.

                    1. I think fascism had elements that you can find among both the modern left (central planning, state worship) and right-militarism and nationalism

                    2. Militarism is rightwing? That makes Napoleon a rightwinger. Which is just foolish.

                      Nationalism is rightwing? Again, this makes Castro a rightwinger. How silly is that?

                    3. In the US it is the right that tends to fawn over the military and national greatness

                    4. “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

                      Noted rightwinger Barack Obama said that.

                    5. I think you’re confusing nationalism with patriotism. Orwell wrote a good essay regarding the difference.
                      Right wingers are more likely to be patriots, I don’t think they’re more likely to be nationalists.

                    6. ^This was for Bo, btw

                    7. I should take a look at that. I was using nationalism in its usually accepted sense, such as this one from Merriam:
                      “a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries”

                      And I think that is plainly found more prominently on the right than the left in the US.

                    8. “Stalin and Mao were right wingers”

                      They were both communists, and have traditionally been seen as of the left. To claim they were fascists is bizarre and I suspect the author is being disingenuous.

                      Stalin was certainly more conservative than Lenin. It was under Lenin that the writings of the anti-enlightenment, anti-western author Dostoevsky were banned; under Stalin the ban was lifted and his novels were once again published. A look at some of the Stalin Prize recipients will also show Stalin’s traditional tastes. I wouldn’t make too much of this but wouldn’t want to make the mistake of conflating conservatism with fascism.

    2. And notice how right-wingers are “strident.” It’s what they would call “passionate” in a left-winger.

      1. Of course. When leftwingers are emotional, it’s their deep sense of justice. When rightwingers are emotional, it’s their seething core of anger.

    3. Scores of social conservatives took their children out of public schools for one day in January to protest new lessons being tested in some French schools aimed at dispelling gender stereotypes. The social conservatives said the lessons could lead to boys wearing dresses and girls playing mechanic, or even masturbation classes for children.

      Frog SoConz!!11!

      1. or even masturbation classes for children.

        Unlike the ones now, heavily weighted in favor of boys.

      2. They need classes on masturbation? I think the French are doing something wrong…

        1. Maybe because the people who invented French kissing and the menage-a-troi don’t need to?

    4. When a film review of a documentary about the murderous catastrophe of Pol Pot’s genocide fails to even mention the Khmer Rouge’s Marxist/communist ideology.

  5. The big, ominous, and still underpublicized story this year has been the Food and Drug Administration’s development of regulations to implement Congress’ panic-driven, ill-thought-out Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010.

    Congress, sensing a restless FDA and knowing that idle hands make the voter forget your worth, decided to set the bureaucracy about fixing a new slew of non-problems, and tossing the attorneys more work.

  6. Alt-Text visible only with special glasses: “OBEY”

    1. The new food regulations say wylie may only be fried in vegetable oil.

      1. I’m no fun at foodie parties. Farties?

        1. Artsy farty!

  7. Does it seem like to anyone else the article cuts off rather abruptly?

    (I’m having another “I can’t type day” so please forgive any uncaught errors.)

    1. I got that impression too.

      And as for the “I can’t type day”, all of us over at the TCM boards are currently having fun dealing with the new forum software that has an extremely overactive filter. Apparently it’s turning the plaintext “password” into a bunch of asterisks.

      1. Trying to write blog anti-spam software was when I learned you can’t spell socialism without cialis.

  8. I love the bit about “feral” pigs being a hazard to Detroitlings.
    That’s takes someone who isn’t with pigs or Detroit. All pigs are a hazard and so are Detroitlings.

    1. I love the bit about “feral” pigs being a hazard to Detroitlings.

      “feral pigs” is a euphemism for the cops. The government-sector workers are a hazard to Detroitlings.

  9. The latest bullshit on women and STEM

    Implementing flexible working doesn’t fix the leak if women decline it for fear of incurring subtle career penalties.

    Yes, employers like workers who actually work full time, and tend to compensate and promote those above people who are “flexible workers”.

    Gender-blind evaluation of candidates for senior jobs doesn’t fix the leak if women are tending to minimize their skills compared to men.

    What does this even mean?

    Ensuring women are shortlisted for STEM vacancies don’t fix the leak if hirers still subconsciously choose men over women with the same qualifications anyway.

    Wow, if only there was some major difference between men and women that had a major impact on how many hours it would be possible for a prospective employer to work which could explain this discrepancy. It would have to be something major though, something which would leave a woman unable to work for a year or more at any time.

    1. Mandatory paternal leave now? You will use that FMLA!

    2. “Yes, employers like workers who actually work full time, and tend to compensate and promote those above people who are “flexible workers”.

      Are they calling for employers to allow some workers to work less than full time, or allow people to fill those hours in ways different than the standard ‘9-5?’

      “something which would leave a woman unable to work for a year or more at any time.”

      Physically women can return to work after childbirth in a month.

      1. Are they calling for employers to allow some workers to work less than full time, or allow people to fill those hours in ways different than the standard ‘9-5?’

        Right, because work in STEM is just like flipping burgers. You clock in, clock out, and only work the hours you’re assigned.

        God you’re insufferable when you try to pontificate on shit you know nothing about.

        Physically women can return to work after childbirth in a month.

        You’re a student IIRC. Have you ever worked in an office?

        1. STEM workers often work in labs in coordination with others. Since you know so much about the field you know that, right?

          As to your second question, yes I have, I work every summer and have for a while. I know several women who returned to work after childbirth within a month to six weeks.

          1. Often? Ive been in T and E my entire working life. Lab workers are a tiny fraction.

            However, i had the same question as you wrt flex vs part time. Especially in T, flex time is very common.

            1. I think this article is about academic careers.

              1. Haha oh that’s even more hilarious. My second job is in academia.

                Maternity leave there seems to take a couple years. I’ve worked there for a year and a half, and I’ve never met one coworker. But her full time job is waiting for her whenever she decides to come back.

                1. My experience in academia has been the exact opposite. All the women I know who had children were back on the job full time within a few months, and none of them really ever dropped out of work entirely. They just weren’t in the office or devoting quite as many hours per week as usual.

                  Depending on the lab, there may be tighter restrictions. My wife’s co-worker couldn’t do lab work after getting pregnant because of the types of chemicals they were using. She transitioned to desk work but was still in the office almost right up to giving birth, and back pretty shortly thereafter.

    3. concern that their ‘geeky’ male classmates will present poor social prospects is genuinely one of three key barriers

      So, women are that shallow, eh?

  10. OT: “The Chester County SPCA will cite the owner of a Great Pyrenees guard dog after it attacked and bit a deputy sheriff who was serving court papers..the dog ran at Cpl. Kurt Hansen and bit him multiple times.. Although Hansen drew his firearm he did not shoot at the dog…’he said he didn’t want to shoot the dog because it could have been a family pet.'”

    1. The dog was barking “Stop resisting” and the officer didn’t comply.

    2. And why does the SPCA have the power to cite pet owners?

    3. Absolutely on topic.. Would that dog have bit the sheriff if there was a nutrition label showing just how unhealthy a single serving was?

    4. Good doggy.


    So the nonunion parts makers here in Dixie have a lower injury rate than the union shops up North. So guess who gets more federal inspections?

    Can we please secede again? Please? We can win this time, they don’t have a Sherman or a Grant. Sure as hell won’t be any college professors winning the Medal of Honor leading a crack regiment.

    1. Whitney Houston led a crack regiment, too.

      1. Crack regimen, Ted. Without the “t”.

    2. One can never get enough of libertarians that pine for the great liberty bastion that was the Confederacy.

      1. Haha yes I am pining so hard I posted a scene from a movie wherein the Yankees turn back the rebels.

        Look, Blue Tulpa, honestly, if the former Confederate states voted today to secede, do you think they or the remaining USA would end up as a more libertarian polity?

        1. How about a trial secession? You know, in a “laboratory of democracy” spirit? A “conscious uncoupling”?

        2. I live in a former Confederate state, and I think it would be hard to say

    3. Can we please secede again?

      What’s that on the flag of the Commonwealth? Yea, I’m down as long as we also banish our socialist governor.

      1. He’s a carpetbagging fuck. But then again, so are most people north of Fredericksburg.

        They can keep NoVA.


    Another test, another success.

    1. Just wait, Virginian. You *know* that Wild West bloodbath is a-comin’.

  13. they could pose a danger to Detroit

    I would think a ready food source roaming through the streets of Detroit would be an improvement.

  14. Rep. Jim Moran: Members of Congress are underpaid

    “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran, who’s announced he will leave office when the current Congress ends, told the newspaper Roll Call. “I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”

    1. …”this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”

      Yeah, well, we’re not paying you for what you shouldn’t be doing.
      Get over on Aisle 6 with a mop, stat!

      1. This.

        Moreover, if you *are* “the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world” you’re doing a piss-poor job and ought to — at least — *forfeit* your pay.

        1. So if Congress is the board of directors, does that make Obama the CEO and voters the shareholders? And does that make the federal government a kind of corporation? And if so, will progressives direct their hatred and ire at it? I eagerly wait to find out.

          1. And just think of the corporate income tax on “the largest economic entity in the world”! No wonder it’s moving overseas!

  15. Although Hansen drew his firearm he did not shoot at the dog…’he said he didn’t want to shoot the dog because it could have been a family pet.'”

    His fellow workers are probably now wary of his lack of commitment to OFFICER SAFETY.

    1. Hey, the deputy did a pretty decent thing there.

  16. “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran, who’s announced he will leave office when the current Congress ends, told the newspaper Roll Call.

    Obviously, he has decided to cease his charitable work for America and go make some real scratch out there in the private sector.

    1. He just can’t make it on that minimum congressional wage of $174k.

      1. And they get lifetime pensions, right?

        1. Yep, I am guessing he’ll be getting about 50k a year as a pension.

          1. If he doesn’t want it, I’ll take it.

  17. heritage hog ban

    Nice band name.

  18. Surprise!
    SF residents overwhelmingly think other people should give away their money!

    “In charitable giving, 83 percent of respondents think tech companies should give back to the city, but two out of three disagree or are unsure that the companies currently do”…..tudy-says/

    1. “In charitable giving, 83 percent of respondents think tech companies should give back to the city, but two out of three disagree or are unsure that the companies currently do”

      With all due respect, doesn’t San Francisco tax tech companies?

      1. “With all due respect, doesn’t San Francisco tax tech companies?”

        It’s more than a bit of pathetic ‘envy theater’, and what passes for the city gov’t is ‘doing things’.

        1. I keep waiting for some legal battle over “corporations aren’t people, so how can they engage in charitable giving”?

  19. Congresspersons rated on Church/State Issues

    “According to the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans saying there is “too much” expression of faith and prayer by politicians crept up from 12 percent in 2001 to 38 percent in 2012, enough for a plurality. Most now say that churches should keep out of political matters, and a majority agree that ‘religious conservatives have too much control over the GOP.’

    Against this backdrop the Secular Coalition for America…released its rankings of how much ? or little ? legislators have supported the notion of church/state separation in the 113th Congress. Representatives were scored according to their votes and sponsorship of 14 bills related to church-state issues, including a measure in support of prayer in schools, a bill to amend the Constitution to prevent gay marriage, and a bill to eliminate funding for abstinence-only sex-ed.

    In total, 35 legislators received ‘A’ grades ? all Democrats. In fact, no Republican scored higher than a “‘D,’ and there were only two of those ? Justin Amash of Michigan and Vance McAllister of Louisiana. The remaining Republicans were all given an ‘F.'”…..4&hpid=z18

    Some of the items are questionable (for example, Amash likely voted against the last item because of belief government should not fund it.

    1. Which of these SCA-opposed bills is the entering wedge of theocracy?

      “to require that implementation of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell not infringe upon the free exercise of religion by and the rights of conscience of [sic].”

      “To protect rights of conscience, to amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit certain abortion-related discrimination in governmental activities, and for other purposes.”

      “To exempt employers from any excise tax and certain suits and penalties in the case of a failure of a group health plan to provide coverage to which an employer objects on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction.”

      “To restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations by repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.”

      1. Secular means socialist in the world of the Secular Coalition of America. It’s impossible to oppose the imposition of the State on any other grounds but raw superstition and religious zealotry.

      2. I think exemptions granted solely on religious grounds are establishment concerns, yes.

        1. Repealing the Johnson Amendment doesn’t sound like an exemption, it seems like repealing an objectionable law altogether.

          1. And sure, you can call the First Amendment a religious exemption if you want.

            1. First Amendment has an Establishment Clause too, Eddie

              1. So not taking is giving, and thus shut up Snowcones!

                1. No, takings should not be determined by whether one is religous or not. Everyone should have less taken.

                  1. That’s not what you said. How the fuck is a tax exemption a violation of the Establishment Clause?

                    1. When the exemption is based on religion?

                    2. lol, the Establishment Cause prohibits an established church.

                      So once again, you think not taking is giving.

                    3. Funny, my version says establishment of religion, not church

                    4. And a tax exemption is neither one of those. Still waiting for you to explain how not taking is giving.

                    5. Special treatment on grounds of religion alone establishes religion

                    6. Under a progtards definition of establishment maybe.

                      Establishment of religion has a specific meaning: the disbursement of monies from the treasury to religious institutions.

                      A tax exemption does not violate the Establishment Clause. The sickeningly unconstitutional Office of Faith Based Initiatives does.

                    7. Read Jefferson and Madison. When they refused to make religous proclamations they were not worried about disbursement of monies, but ‘intermedling’

                    8. Which does not change the fact that “establishment of religion” has a specific and concrete meaning in the context it is used in the Constitution, which refers to the common practice in the colonies of establishing a church with money taken from all the people for the benefit of some of the people.

                      Once again, giving and not taking are two different things.

          2. Oh come on, we can’t let the Snowcones have freedom of speech. So I actually didn’t know that it was LBJ who rammed that through. Hmmm, passed in 1954.

            Dare I suggest that this particular piece of legislation was aimed at a very specific group of churches and clergymen?

            1. I think it was aimed at a secular nonprofit that – talk about coincidence – opposed Johnson in Texas.

              So the prog talking point is “why should churches complain, they weren’t targeted! They were simply collateral damage, so they should suck it up!”

          3. It’s about a tax exemption for churches

            1. For nonprofits, including secular nonprofit groups *and* churches.

              1. Churches automatically qualify for separate tax exemptions.
                Btw- I never heard your answer, given your championing of religous exemption, should religous polygamists get exemptions from polygamy/bigamy prohibitions?

                1. I will choose to answer your question: No. Remember “least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest?” If you have further questions, take them up with Chief Justice Waite, who delivered the Reynolds v. U.S. opinion.

                  Now back to your point – the Johnson Amendment applies to all nonprofits, not just churches. I’m just repeating myself now.

                  1. So you agree with US v Reynolds (note, strict scrutiny was not the test back then)?

                    As to your second point, Johnson applies to all orgs as to their exemptions, the exemptions though are granted differently to churches than other orgs

                    1. As to your second point (I’ve already addressed as much of your first point as I care to), the Johnson Amendment has *nothing to do* with the other parts of the tax code relating to churches.

                    2. I bet you don’t want address the first part further, as it demonstrates your rank hypocrisy on religous exemptions.

                      And your second, the Johnson amendment revokes a tax exemption which is initially granted to churches differently than for secular non-profs

                    3. Your cite of Reynolds is particularly hilarious, since the case that begat RFRA, Smith, was seen as a throwback to Reynolds. From the Wikipedia entry on the Court’s decision in Reynolds:

                      “The Court investigated the history of religious freedom in the United States and quoted a letter from Thomas Jefferson in which he wrote that there was a distinction between religious belief and action that flowed from religious belief. The former “lies solely between man and his God,” therefore “the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions.” The court considered that if polygamy was allowed, someone might eventually argue that human sacrifice was a necessary part of their religion, and “to permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” The Court believed the First Amendment forbade Congress from legislating against opinion, but allowed it to legislate against action.”

                      This is of course what the government is arguing in Hobby Lobby, so interesting you would fall back on it to deny religious persons whose religious claims just happen to be opposed by your religion an exemption. This is a model case of Socons talking liberty: for them liberty is all good as long as it is for ‘me, not thee.’

                    4. The human sacrifice argument, and others like it, are so insanely stupid and disingenuous as to be laughable. The courts could apply a very clear, simple, and easy standard when judging such cases: does the religious act in question harm someone against their will? Polygamy? Nope. Human sacrifice, honor killings, etc.? Yep. There, problem solved.

  20. Iowa SoCons Decry ‘Bullying’ Depiction of Their Leader in Comic Book, Call for Bible Lessons in Schools to Combat ‘Bullying’

    “Recently, at the Iowa Governor’s Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning Youth, a comic book written and distributed by Progress Iowa (a left-leaning think tank) clearly depicted Bob Vander Plaats, the President of The FAMiLY LEADER, as a supervillain character. As much as we are disappointed in the villainous portrayal of Bob Vander Plaats (as “Bull Von Ploots”) in a 28-page comic book, we are more concerned about the message it sends to students across Iowa. Will they now be concerned about being ostracized and demonized (bullied) when they express values and beliefs different from those promoted by Progress Iowa?

    Our Founding Fathers have it right. To have safe and strong schools staging an optimum learning environment, students need to be taught morals. This is why, until 1963, the Bible was taught in public schools as a resource for moral instruction.”…..omic-book/

    1. I love it when people bring up “The Founding Fathers” as though they were a monolithic entity with no ideological differences. It lets me know I can safely ignore their opinions.

      Though I got to say, five (maybe four depending on how you define adultery) of the ten commandments are excellent moral principles. If everyone followed 6,8,9, and 10 to the letter, we’d live in a very peaceful and civilized world.

      And the Golden Rules is a great thing to pound into kids heads at an early age. I do it all the time at work.

  21. “Though I got to say, five”

    Somehow I doubt ‘5 out of 10’ is what they are talking about.

    1. Yeah, that’s the issue aint it. I mean, if we put Ron Wyden in charge of the NSA and Ron Paul in charge of the Fed, things would be awesome.

      We should propose a grand compromise! The public schools will teach the second tablet of the Ten Commandments in school.

      Thou shalt not kill
      Thou shalt not commit adultery
      Thou shalt not steal
      Thou shalt not bear false witness
      Thou shalt not covet

      I think all people of all faiths and lacks thereof can get behind this. I’m writing my Congressman right now.

      1. Thy shalt not covet

        “‘Covet’? … Oh, you mean wish to have what belongs to another? What kind of BS law is *that*?!”

      2. You are violating every commandment in which the Left believes. They believe they have an unconstrained right to murder, copulate with anyone (or anything) with a orifice, everything belongs to them so their taking “your stuff” is not a problem, lying is not “lying” it’s an inconvenient (for you) truth, and covetousness is righteousness since you only got what you own through deceit and theft (both of which are OK for the Left to do, but not for you).

  22. Taxes are hard.

    NINA OLSON: You know, the low-income population is the population that is least equipped to prepare their own returns. And they also have some of the most complicated provisions in the code that affect them.

    STACEY TISDALE: That means poor people who depend on one of the nation’s biggest anti-poverty programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC, can lose a big refund they depend on. And the federal government has lost billions because of incorrectly filed tax returns.

    Over the past decade legislation to regulate tax return preparers has been introduced repeatedly in Congress with bipartisan support, but failed to pass.

    So in 2011, the IRS started implementing regulations on its own to try and remedy the situation.

    Tax preparers would be required to take an initial certification exam, pay annual fees, and complete at least 15 hours of continuing education each year.

    The plan was supported by big tax prep chains like Jackson Hewitt and H.R. Block, both of which already have tax training programs.

    It was also supported by groups representing accountants, tax attorneys, and enrolled agents ? all of whom were exempted from the new rules.

    Whatever you do, don’t make the tax code simpler, or more logical. Especially for the working poor.

    1. I asked my congresscreature why everyone complains about the tax code yet it is never made simpler or more logical.

      His answer: “Washington is a complicated place.”

      That really sticks in my craw.

      1. What an asshole.

        Quite simply, if paying taxes is so complicated you need to hire someone or use a special software to do them, then something is severely fucked up.

        1. His answer: “Washington is a complicated place.”

          He was insulting his intelligence.

          He was saying he’s not smart enough to understand.

          As long as we’re going to have an income tax, we should make payment due on election day.

          They should print the ballot on the back of your tax form. After a couple of elections like that, they’d be able to fit the tax form on the back of a ballot.

          1. It’s definitely not a coincidence that Tax Day and Election Day are almost exactly six months apart.

    2. Not to mention that under a certain threshold, a number of online tax preparers off free returns. Or the free in-person tax prep sessions for seniors and low income held all over the damn place. Or that a low income person’s returns are usually pretty straight forward on a 1040EZ.

  23. Fucking libertarians.

    STACEY TISDALE: John Gambino, a certified financial planner in Hoboken, New Jersey who does taxes for many of his clients would have been subject to the new test and education requirements.

    He was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit brought by a libertarian, public interest law firm. The suit challenged the IRS’s authority to impose what it called [a] “tax preparer licensing scheme.” And in January of 2013 a federal district court judge sided with Gambino and halted the IRS’s program. Ruling the agency lacked “statutory authority.” This past February a federal appeals court agreed, leaving the new regulations dead.

    But despite the legal victory, Gambino remains concerned about the potential for regulation, which he believes would be anti-competitive and increase costs for consumers.

    How dare they pretend people are not as dumb as the Top Men think they are?

    1. I’ll propose a modification of my erstwhile recommendation:

      Randomly select one congresscreature, A, and one IRS employee, B. Flip a coin to determine A or B — say, A. A provides B all info A thinks is needed to prepare its tax return. A and B independently prepare A’s return. If their bottom lines do not match, both A and B are fired. Repeat with new random selections until all congresscreatures are gone or the tax code has been “fixed”.

      1. all congresscreatures are gone or the tax code has been “fixed”.

        I’m thinking that former condition will result in latter condition coming true.

        1. I actually think we’re past the point of no return. I think the bureaucrats are running the show at this point.

          1. Each bureau now has it’s own show.

            1. Yeah when the Department of Education has people to execute search and arrest warrants, well, things are over.

              1. Wait until HHS gets their swat teams and billion rounds of ammunition.

                HHS Health Protection Dispatcher: “Deploy unit to said residence immediately, report that resident has soup with too much sodium, children in residence…”

  24. Let’s just wander out into left field, for a moment. What if we allowed the working poor (all workers, even- what the hell, it’s a fantasy) to just take their money home at the end of the week and spend it as they see fit, instead of running it through the Rube Goldberg sausage maker?

    1. Mmmmm…tasty sausage of unknown provenance. *drool*

  25. Just another reason for Huy Fong Foods to leave California. They’d be quite welcome in Michigan

    1. I don’t think you can get jalapenos to grow very well in MI. They need a long growing season to get them to turn red, which is when they’re harvested to make sriracha.

      1. Yeah, Texas would be a better state for them. 🙂

  26. Listening to Melissa Harris Racetroller clamber up onto her soapbox and whine about the oppression and exploitation of that most noblest specimen of the human animal, the Student Athlete, makes me lose all sympathy for their plight.

    I hate that.

  27. “Proponents of California’s law point to state’s rights to set their own minimum quality standards. Opponents posit that the law violates the federal interstate Commerce Clause and they argue that farmers and ranchers should be free to sell to consumers in any state, presuming they can find willing buyers.”

    So, California is arguing for states’ rights (What, are they racist?!), and their opponents are citing the interstate Commerce Clause, hoping that the federal courts will use it to protect an individual’s right to buy or sell what they want.

    Did I wake up in Bizzaro World this morning?

  28. Another goverment high cost update is the ICD10 update coding that is on its way. When that goes into effect there will be a cost of initial compliance. It will impact every aspect of health care and will require chaining or dramatically updating software, billing , and records. I have not seen an estimate of costs but I expect it to run into the billions of dollars. It will not impact care provided nor will it improve outcome but it will be an administrative cost.

    1. I think the main point of the law was to create a series of massive new bureaucracies.

      Think of it as a jobs program for bureaucrats.

      So, in effect, Obama was right about Obamacare, he’s won.

      1. IIRC , right after obamacare passed, that question was raised, and the answer was that given the way the law is written it , it was actually unknowable how many new agencies would be created.

  29. To get back on topic, why doesn’t some GOP congresscritter write up a bill to repeal the stupidest sections of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010? Get Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, and Marion Nestle to endorse the feeding of spent grain to livestock, etc. Get some good PR from foodies prior to the mid-terms.

  30. my roomate’s step-sister makes $77 /hr on the internet . She has been unemployed for 8 months but last month her income was $18827 just working on the internet for a few hours. see page…..

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