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October 21-22
2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [story]

Out of Left Field | Commentary by Charlie Vignola
| Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013

charlievignolaThe FDA announced last Thursday that it is effectively banning trans fats – that delicious but dangerous artery clogging by-product of partially hydrogenated oils – from foods in the U.S. As a result, the taste, texture and longevity of such beloved items as microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, doughnuts and coffee creamers are about to change forever.

While I anxiously await how this will alter some of my favorite foods, I’m more than a little curious at the surprising lack of conservative outrage at this development.

After all, isn’t this just another prime example of “nanny state” meddling on behalf of the U.S. government, thinking they know better than us what we should or shouldn’t be able to partake of? Isn’t that why the GOP excoriated New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for trying to outlaw super-sized soft drinks in Manhattan?

Conservatives send decidedly mixed messages on this front. On the one hand, a few years ago Sarah Palin openly mocked Michelle Obama for having the nerve to spearhead an anti-obesity program and encourage children to eat healthier foods, declaring the First Lady an elitist busybody.

In that case, a prominent Republican strongly suggested we should have the freedom to put whatever we want into our mouths.

Yet just last week, Virginia Tea Party candidate Ken Cuccinelli lost his gubernatorial bid partially because he decided the government should determine what we can put in our mouths. Although in Cuccinelli’s case it was about reinstating sodomy laws against oral sex.

So I guess he’s cool with stuffing Twinkies in your mouth, just not … other stuff.

But that inconsistency is the problem. Republicans have a sliding definition of what constitutes our “personal freedoms.” As far as I can tell, their definition is basically, “whatever our party’s values say they are.”

For example, every American has a God-given right to booze and cigarettes – even though the Center for Disease Control says there are 80,000 alcohol-related deaths and more than 440,000 tobacco-related deaths in the U.S. each year.

And yet, Republicans are dead-set against legalizing marijuana – even though according to the conservative Family Council, the FDA has recorded only 279 marijuana-related deaths from 1997 through 2005, and only 187 of those were from smoking cannabis directly.

So what’s the reasoning behind marijuana being outlawed while alcohol and tobacco are perfectly legal? Is it because bankers and businessmen enjoy cigars and scotch, while only hippies smoke dope? Who knows? But I guarantee you’ll never get a clear, straight answer from Republicans.

Conservatives also believe we should have the personal freedom to exercise our religious liberty in public by displaying the Ten Commandments in front of government buildings or school children declaring “one nation, under God” in their pledge of allegiance – just so long as the religion in question is Christianity.

The first time we have a Muslim mayor in some American city who decides he wants to start his city council meeting with an Islamic prayer from the Quran, let’s see how fast Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck rush to their defense.

The GOP’s definition of personal freedom gets really shaky when it comes to reproductive health. In that case, they believe a woman should have just as much control over her own body as a man does – unless she happens to become pregnant. Then her body should be controlled by the state.

At that point, there’s some debate in Republican circles. Some believe if the woman is the victim of rape or incest, or if the baby would be mentally or physically handicapped, or if her life would be endangered by delivery of the child, then she should be able to terminate the pregnancy.

And then there are other Republicans who believe the unborn child’s personal freedom supersedes the mother’s, and that under no circumstances does the mother have a right to interfere – even if delivering the baby will kill her.

What’s the logic behind this? Conservatives say it’s a sin against God. But what if you’re a woman who doesn’t happen to believe in God, who accidentally got pregnant despite taking precautions, and who doesn’t want to have a baby?

Tough. You lost that right the moment you voted Republicans into office. Because Republicans are all about getting the government out of people’s lives.

Maybe conservatives aren’t throwing a fit over the banning of trans fats because they’re not mentioned in the Bible, or because they’re too distracted by fighting Obamacare, or because Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers don’t have a financial stake in them, so they’re not filling the airwaves with pro-trans fats propaganda.

Whatever the reason, public health advocates should be thankful. Getting rid of trans fats could prevent about 20,000 heart attacks and save more than 7,000 lives in the U.S. every year.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when conservatives don’t just reflexively reject every government regulation designed to protect the public. Now, if we could just get them to ignore global warming regulations, then we’d really have something.


Charlie Vignola describes himself as a former College Republican turned liberal Democrat.  A resident of the Santa Clarita Valley since 1999, he works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.

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  1. Neil says:

    That’s a lot of hot air over transfats.

  2. Steven says:

    Things must be getting desperate “out in far left field” as after five years of liberalism there is absolutely nothing that they have pushed (and Mr. Vignola has supported) that is working. The signature piece of Obama’s presidency, Obamacare is imploding, proving it was built on a bunch of lies. And all of the concerns which lead not one conservative to support Obamacare have been validated as fact. This latest attempt to demonize conservatives from Mr. Vignola by trying to paint them as hypocrites because they haven’t spoken out about a trans fat ban is the equivalent of a child’s temper tantrum over dropping one cheerio. Our healthcare system is imploding, we have no job growth, no economic growth, out of control spending, increasing debt, no justice for the American’s killed in Benghazi, an IRS that has targeted conservatives etc. Fighting a trans fat ban is so far down the list of things that need to be addressed it is a “non-issue”. Unless you are a liberal desperately grasping for something to use to demonize and attempt to distract from how badly your side is losing.

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