Today's Blogs

Iraq Study Group? BFD!

Bloggers respond to the Iraq Study Group’s final report, New York City’s ban on trans fats, and George H.W. Bush’s tearful breakdown over his son Jeb’s fortitude in electoral defeat.

Iraq Study Group? BFD!: The blogosphere yawns at the much-anticipated but bathetically received Iraq Study Group report, which was released to both President Bush and the public today. Among the recommendations were a “constructive” diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria, removal of most U.S. combat troops by 2008, and withholding economic aid to the Iraqi government until it assumes more responsibility for quelling domestic violence.

Conservative Cliff May at the National Review’s The Corner blogs as he reads: “On the plus side this report is not a recommendation to move out of Iraq; it’s explicitly a recommendation for ‘moving forward’ in Iraq. On the negative side: It’s very mushy. … On what basis can anyone conclude that Iran and Syria see it as ‘in their interest’ to avoid chaos in Iraq?”

Liberal Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal isn’t buying Iranian and Syrian compliance, either, and adds: “Baker is claiming that the report doesn’t set out a timeline, but the report itself is replete with references to ‘milestones’ that have to be met if the Iraqi government wants the U.S. to stay engaged. What’s more, the report says all combat brigades should be out of Iraq by the first quarter of 2008. What am I missing? In what way isn’t this a timeline?”

Time magazine’s Mike Allen at The Allen Report doesn’t see much “realism” in setting timelines for minimizing the American responsibility in Baghdad: “It’s clear the Iraqi government will need U.S. assistance for some time to come especially in carrying out new security responsibilities, the report says. But the panelists say the U.S. ‘must not make open-ended commitments to keep large numbers of troops deployed in Iraq.’ That will be welcome news for the President, the military and Congress. However, that is certainly easier said than done.”

It’s all for nothing, argues defense contractor and righty James Joyner at Outside the Beltway: “Both sides will use the Report to seek political cover for what they want to do but I suspect they will continue to bludgeon their opponents over the war.”

Read more about the Iraq Study Group report.

Everything bad is bad for you: In a health-conscious coup, the New York City Department of Health voted to ban large amounts of trans fats from Big Apple restaurants—from McDonald’s to Balthazar. A synthesized food ingredient, trans fat can lead to heart disease, obesity, and other assorted bodily unpleasantness—but forcibly removing it from people’s plates leads to libertarian ire in cyberspace.

Social marketer Nedra Weinreich at Spare Change wants ad campaigns, not laws, to improve New York diets: “This would not have been possible without the efforts of the anti-smoking forces that paved the way for policy change back in the ‘90s. I do see a difference, though, between restricting secondhand smoke—which can affect the health of other people—and restricting the use of trans fats—which only affects the eater.”

Conservative “Theobromophile” at Helvidius, a Pachyderm, a blog devoted to “federalism, feminism and food,” says “[t]he cost of food will increase, which will be tough for the poor and middle class New Yorkers (unlike the proposed Chicago regulation, this would apply to all restaurants, not just those doing over $20 million in annual sales). … [T]his is a ridiculous, patronising intrusion of government into business. Couldn’t they just require restaurants to list the amounts of trans fats in foods and let diners make their own decisions?”

Brian Sack at New York blog The Banterist has penned a tribute to Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “He held my hand and helped me across the street. We passed several French restaurants that were forbidden from serving foie gras before finally arriving at the Freedom Tower. At one story tall, it was not technically a tower. ‘Towers are dangerous,’ said the mayor. He unlocked the giant steel door and ushered me into a room filled with nothing but amazingly soft, non-flammable pillows. ‘You’ll be safe here,’ said Mayor Bloomberg, ‘I’ll be back later. With everyone else.’ “

Read more about the NYC ban on trans fats. In Slate, Ed Finn explained the difference between trans fats and saturated fats in 2003.

Man-geiser Bush:Former President George H.W. Bush broke down during a speech at a leadership forum in Tallahassee, Fla., Tuesday, remembering the dignity and stoicism displayed by his son Jeb, now governor of the state, when lost his first gubernatorial bid in 1994. (Watch the video of leaky paternal pride here.)

Lefty Michael J. Stickings at The Reaction offers the obvious if obligatory sequel: “Do you think he breaks down in tears when he thinks about how his other son—George, that is, not Neil or Marvin—has fucked up as president and is one of the worst presidents ever?”

Scott at The Truth by Scott submits: “If you think about it, had Jeb become governor in 1994, he might have run for President instead. He was certainly considered a better candidate. Despite his unconsitutional and highly political intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, he’s smarter, more articulate, better traveled, and more thoughtful than his older brother. It makes me wish I had voted for him. … It makes me want to cry for our country too.”

Read more about George Sr.’s weeping.