Less than two weeks ago President Obama stood in front of graduates from The Ohio State University and told them to reject those who warn of government tyranny.

“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems,” he said.

To young, idealistic people his words likely sounded insightful — until last week. That’s when it became officially impossible to deny that the government abuses its power for political gain.


In the 2008 Pixar movie WALL.E, humans so clogged up the earth with garbage they had to move to spaceships. Motorized chairs ferried the obese blobs portraying people of the future, who sipped liquids from massive cups and sat mesmerized by video screens.

It was both funny and scary in its assessment of America’s throw-away, fast-food culture where convenience is everything and self-control and direction outsourced to technology. At the time of the movie it was part of an emerging chorus of voices decrying Americans’ growing girth. Five years later it is almost impossible to go a day without seeing a news story on obesity; first lady Michelle Obama has made childhood exercise and healthy eating a top priority; and even purveyors of the triumvirate of salt, sugar and fat feel compelled to make amends for selling the stuff most blamed for everything from extra pounds to diabetes and heart disease. Coca-Cola, for example, recently promised to make lower-calorie drinks and nutrition information for its products more widely available around the world.


Imagine the pitch to a History Channel executive for the smash hit “The Bible.”
Here’s one scenario:
Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett: “Hi, we want to produce a story that appeals to all age groups. It’s has everything: love, lust, greed, war, self-sacrifice and redemption. It’s called ‘The Bible.’”
Executive: “Could you repeat that? You said ‘The Bible?’ ”
RD and MB: “Yes – we want to retell the Bible for this generation. And we think we can make money doing it. We’ve done a lot of market research -- there is no competition out there.”
Executive: “Have you ever thought that the lack of competition could speak to the fact that there is no market for what you describe? Look at the numbers. Twenty percent of Americans have no religion, up from 15 percent just five years ago. I am one of them.
Besides, the Bible? No one associates healing and miracles with the History Channel. Our bread and butter is destruction. We like family feuds, alien invasions and apocalyptic stories.”
MB: “I get that – I produce ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Voice,’ remember? Maybe you didn’t know, but many parts of the book are violent. It is also filled with incest, adultery, and murder. Let’s recap just the story of David in the Old Testament. As a boy he kills a giant and helps to save his nation from enemy capture. The king at the time, Saul, praises the boy only to try to murder him later in a power struggle for the throne of Israel. Saul dies in battle. David becomes king, sends friend off to front of the battle to die so that the friend will never find out that David slept with his wife, who is pregnant. Should I go on?”
Executive: “I’m listening….”
I don’t know how History chose “The Bible” or how financing was secured for it. But the success of the miniseries – it drew over 11.7 million viewers the final episode Sunday and made the History Channel the top cable station in March  -- speaks to the fact that many Americans are still captivated by stories that have had such a profound impact on world history, the origin of the United States, the English language and millions of lives despite entertainment that regularly depicts people who practice the Christian faith as maladjusted Bible thumpers or casts Christ as gay or the father of an illegitimate child.
It’s hard to understand what took so long, purely from a profit perspective. After Mel Gibson’s 2004 “The Passion of the Christ,” filmed in Aramaic and other languages, made over $600 million, Hollywood should have realized there was an untapped market for Biblical stories – told in English. Maybe they did but didn’t want to give credence to a worldview few in that industry understand or respect. Regardless, “The Bible” is so in your face that it would be hard to claim a softer approach is needed to introduce American audiences to its stories. It’s like “Will & Grace” – the show credited with making gay people cool and gay marriage possible in America – except for Christianity.
Bishop Walter Thomas, pastor of the 7,000-member New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, said Hollywood “presumed it new faith” in a similar way to how it thought it understood black audiences -- until Tyler Perry and others reinvented the genre to their great financial benefit.
He said he sees the “The Bible” as a tipping point for entertainment featuring Christian themes because the media will realize it can make money on the products. He may be right. A spinoff of “The Bible” is in the works. However, what’s covered is what matters and it may be that the profit motive is less important than ridding the world of a worldview seen by many powerful media and entertainment executives as backward and intolerant.
The fact that the show was produced at a time of cultural upheaval and in an era where The New York Times doesn’t get the basics of Easter – it had to run a correction on a Sunday story that mischaracterized the events and meaning of the celebration -- speaks to a large chasm between perception of American culture by those in the media and entertainment industry and actual American culture.
May “The Bible” encourage the powers that be in those professions to start depicting America as it is rather than what they would like it to be. They might find themselves and Americans of all faiths are enriched in more ways than one.
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Imagine the pitch to a History Channel executive for the smash hit “The Bible.”

Here’s one scenario:
The coming demise in June of the daily print version of The Washington Examiner is bad for the Washington region and worse for what it says about the direction of America.
The Examiner is a free daily tabloid that covers local news in D.C. and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia but is most well known for its scathing critiques of the Obama administration and big government. As of June it will move to a website and will offer a weekley print magazine focused on national politics.
According to a statement from Ryan McKibben, the president of Clarity Media Group, which owns The Washington Examiner, “As a result of research and analysis conducted over the past year, we have determined that there is an opportunity to bring our style of investigative journalism and keen analysis and commentary to covering national government and politics. The re-positioned Washington Examiner will meet that demand.” That’s one way of looking at it.
Almost 90 current employees will be laid off in the process and its readers in the D.C. region of the country will lose great local coverage of politics and other news. That should leave Washington-area politicians happier and residents more likely to hear press releases fabricated as stories on nightly TV news, a dangerous trend going on around the country.
But more importantly The Examiner’s new direction speaks to the problem with America: the rise of Washington as the nation’s epicenter of wealth. In essence the paper is saying it can’t make money as a newspaper so its new business model is to become one of the many feeding the ever expanding beast of government.
The company’s press release said as much: “The target readership for the print weekly will be 45,000 government, public affairs, advocacy, academia and political professionals in Washington, DC and state capitals.”
It is not surprising as The Washington Examiner is only following the pack when it comes to orienting a publication to the desires of those who make a living either directly or indirectly from government.  The niche it’s entering is as crowded as Cancun beaches on spring break. Politico is one of the most prominent publications in the genre that has cropped up in the past decade as Washington Gucci-fied and has been very successful gilding its brand on cable news.
But the fact that The Washington Examiner would turn that direction is ironic for a paper that prides itself on assailing big government, as the new business model takes for granted that the leviathan will prosper and special interests with it.
It is especially so as the original Examiner model was designed to hold state and local government across the country accountable to the people. The company registered the Examiner name in dozens of locations to make it possible to open papers in many cities and still operates Examiner.com, a network of local bloggers (Full disclosure: I worked for The Baltimore Examiner as editorial page editor from 2006 to 2009, the three years the paper existed.)
But those plans were made before the recession hit and before Washington solidified its status as the end all be all. The shift of money to Washington has been fast: In 2000, four counties around D.C. were the wealthiest in the country. Today, seven of the 10 make that exclusive list.
I don’t begrudge Clarity for wanting to make money. But I wonder how one more publication targeting Washington’s elite, even one impugning the Capitol’s ways, will help to shrink government when the target audience depends on it growing. Meanwhile, the number of reporters covering state houses around the country has dropped precipitously and made it easier for those in power to sculpt the news. It won’t be long before governors and other officials around the country launch their own portal like Vice President Joe Biden did with “Being Biden” at http://www.whitehouse.gov/being-biden. According to the site, “In this audio series Vice President Biden will tell the story behind a photo – of where he was, why it matters to him, and how the experience fits into the broader narrative of this Administration.”
The website is funny in an absurd way, but it won’t be laughable if his and others like it become the “news.” America needs more accountability, not more public relations, which is why those from all political stripes should worry when another paper stops the presses.
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The coming demise in June of the daily print version of The Washington Examiner is bad for the Washington region and worse for what it says about the direction of America.

The Examiner is a free daily tabloid that covers local news in D.C. and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia but is most well known for its scathing critiques of the Obama administration and big government. As of June it will move to a website and will offer a weekley print magazine focused on national politics.

Lost in the self-righteous clamor to demonize Marissa Mayer for making employees at  Yahoo work in the office is a sense of perspective.
Everyone from feminist icon Gloria Steinem to Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, have criticized the CEO of the struggling tech company for recently ordering those who telecommute to return to the office full time by June 1.
Ms. Steinem, in an interview on PBS NewsHour on Feb. 26, cattily dismissed Ms. Mayer for her decision. She said that not everyone included in the PBS documentary "Makers," which profiles influential women including Ms. Mayer and Ms. Steinem, is a "heroine." She leaves no doubt about her view of herself, however.
And like so many vultures feasting on road kill, legions of others pointed
out that the 37-year-old Mayer, a new mother, built a nursery in the
office - with her own money - so that her son could be near her.
"Hypocrite!" they yelled.
Women of all political persuasions owe a lot to Ms. Steinem and early
feminists for giving us a voice and demanding equal treatment under the
law, but the uniformity of their criticism reveals they believe we must
act one way: in accordance to feminist commandments.
This undermines what feminists worked so hard to achieve - the freedom to
choose one's own path. It also assumes that women should have the right to
flexible work schedules regardless of the situation.  The current debate
over mandatory maternity leave also speaks to that sense of entitlement.
Let's start with the first issue. Ms. Mayer has never claimed to be a
feminist.
In the "Makers" interview she said, "I don't, I think, have sort
of the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that sometimes
comes with that (feminism). There are amazing opportunities all over the world for women. I think that there's more good that comes out of positive energy around that than negative energy."
That makes her sin seem to be that she does not give enough credit to her
forebears for making her position possible.
But the bigger issue is that she is the head of a large company in need of
a turnaround. If she does not change Yahoo's performance, no one will have
a job, which would be really bad for everyone at the company. She should
be given the flexibility to make decisions best for Yahoo, where some were
running startups from home while earning a paycheck from the company.
In regards to the entitlement issue, Ms. Mayer's great wealth insulates her from the problems faced by all but a few working mothers. But that does not mean all women should be able to telecommute or receive other perks. Great if companies can offer them and use them to attract the best talent, but what about the millions of women who work for themselves (like myself) or for small firms that can't afford benefits like paid maternity leave or for whatever reason can't endorse telecommuting?
The government could have mandated paid maternity leave during my pregnancies but I wouldn't have been able to give it to myself. That is my choice and I am not asking for sympathy, just some perspective on the fact that not every company can provide what would be wonderful benefits if it were financially possible.
In addition, there is no way to eliminate all the challenges of
motherhood. Anne-Marie Slaughter addressed this issue with honesty in her
widely read piece, "Why women still can't have it all," in the July/August
Atlantic.
As the former director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011 said, "Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation.
But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on
the grounds that glibly repeating 'you can have it all' is simply
airbrushing reality, it is time to talk."
So let's give Ms. Mayer a break as she struggles to make Yahoo an enduring
and valuable company like Google, the search giant she left. And I hope
those who have brayed the loudest against her will also be the ones most
vocally praising her if she succeeds because a woman who creates thousands
of high paying jobs is a heroine.
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Lost in the self-righteous clamor to demonize Marissa Mayer for making employees at  Yahoo work in the office is a sense of perspective.
How can a nonjudgmental culture deal with terrorists in its midst?
Evil should not surprise Americans. We’ve seen it so many times and in so many degrees and variations — in those who tolerated some people having to sit in the back of the bus, in children who torment animals, in bankers who knowingly sold junk financial products and helped to destroy the economy and in men who set bombs in front of innocent bystanders at a marathon. The list is almost endless for those who look.
The federal government today announced new regulations for buying fast food.
Starting June 1, upon entering a national fast food chain restaurant or before ordering via a drive-thru each patron must undergo a Body Mass Index (BMI) analysis. The score will determine portion sizes for adults and children and restrict the options available. Scores are: underweight, normal, overweight, obese and morbidly obese. Automated tickets issued from the machines will be color coded to alert servers of a patron’s options.
If a person is obese, for example, he or she will only be able to order sugar-free drinks and meals with a combined 500 calories. Those items will be color coded on the menu to make choices easily identifiable, according to Wendy Smith, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the agency that wrote the regulations. Those who wish to speed the process may apply for wrist bands, which will allow patrons to bypass the BMI calipers. Fingerprints will also be taken at checkout to ensure that those ordering receive one portion.
Cindy Dvorak, the former head of DHHS and CEO of Calipers for Change, the company chosen by the government to launch the new program, said, “Our devices will quickly, accurately and discretely inform patrons of their fat ratio and help them take positive steps to achieve an appropriate weight and a fulfilling life.”
But not everyone is happy with the new rules.
The head of industry group Chain Restaurants of America said it will be filing a federal lawsuit against the regulations on Fourteenth Amendment grounds of unequal treatment under the law.
Fast food patron Joy de Cocinar admits she needs to lose a few pounds but does not want to be stigmatized by the new rules. She plans to visit her local fried chicken stand in Charlotte, N.C., which is exempt from the regulations, more frequently instead of her usual Kentucky Fried Chicken to fulfill a weekly chicken and biscuits craving.
Indeed, local chain owners are already talking about dumping their affiliation with national brands. An owner of a McDonalds in Kansas City who asked not to be identified said he was considering becoming MacDoodles to avoid the regulation.
The new rules follow years of increased regulation of food by Congress and federal agencies as Americans have grown ever larger. An estimated 36 percent of Americans are overweight and many of them obese.
Starting this year, for example, new refrigerators must come equipped with cameras in order to photograph the purchases of consumers and relay information to the DHHS where the images will be assessed by nutrition experts. Americans found in violation of the federally approved food pyramid will be referred to the agency’s armed food police. Police may confiscate food and impose fines up to $1,000 on those deemed obese or morbidly obese found with certain high fat foods including ice cream, triple cream brie and bacon in their homes. All violators must go through a federally approved food counseling session run by AFSCME members.
A network of drones will assist DHHS in monitoring grocery store parking lots and driveways. Nutrition experts at the agency will also monitor the online “recipe boxes” of those with accounts on food websites to ensure that Americans are choosing the best meals for their families, among other measures.
Obese adults with children who are not fat will be able to apply for waivers for certain items and all people will be allowed to apply for waivers for certain holidays.
Another law passed this year will require those buying clothes over a waist size 36 men’s and size 12 women’s (members of Congress excepted) to submit an Individual Health Excellence Life Plan  (iHELP) to DHHS and provide monthly updates on their progress in order to speed their achieving a federally accepted healthy weight.
Anti-obesity advocates credit former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for making the new regulations possible. Mr. Bloomberg in 2015 successfully banned sugared soft drinks from Manhattan after a long fight and has been a leading advocate for the measures above. “As Mr. Bloomberg said,  ‘If we are serious about fighting obesity then we have to be honest about it and courageous about tackling it,’” said   Albert Gored, the executive director of Freedom from Fat. “He is an inspiration for us all.”
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The federal government today announced new regulations for buying fast food.

Starting June 1, upon entering a national fast food chain restaurant or before ordering via a drive-thru each patron must undergo a Body Mass Index (BMI) analysis. The score will determine portion sizes for adults and children and restrict the options available. Scores are: underweight, normal, overweight, obese and morbidly obese. Automated tickets issued from the machines will be color coded to alert servers of a patron’s options.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul last week filibustered the confirmation of John Brennan for Central Intelligence Agency director over the fine points of drone use on American citizens.
He stood before the Senate for 13 hours to protest the fact that the government said it could under “extraordinary circumstances” strike an American citizen labeled an enemy combatant on U.S. soil. Many ridiculed him for arguing about something that will never happen.
Maybe it won’t. But in highlighting what is likely an obscure event and getting a ton of media coverage in the process, Rand, a Republican, launched what I hope is the opening salvo of a much bigger debate about the loss of civil liberties in the country.
The issue of drones, in particular, is a great place to start the discussion. Once used primarily to assist U.S. troops overseas in killing enemy fighters and to patrol the U.S. border, they are now being used to surveil U.S. citizens throughout the country. In one of the first public instances of the federal government lending drones to local law enforcement agencies, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) let the Grand Forks North Dakota Police and the sheriff’s office borrow a multimillion dollar Predator in 2011 to monitor a farmer accused of not returning cows worth $6,000 to a neighbor. If something so financially trivial prompts government into using drones, what does it say about the ubiquity of their future use?
Today, DHS is not only lending drones to local agencies but distributing grants to them so that they can buy their own without an official policy in place to guide how and when they can be used. Congress, however, has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to change airspace rules to make it easier for local police and other organizations to use them. The Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act request discovered that 358 public institutions, including 14 universities and colleges, have permits to fly them. This means that machines that can film people not accused of a crime and store the information indefinitely could soon be hovering over your home and neighborhood because the owners and/or the operators feel like it.
According to a recent report by NBC News, the FAA estimates that about 10,000 commercial drones will be flying in the U.S. by about 2020, fueling many schools to start offering training for unmanned aircraft. Who could be against jobs, right?
Before all these programs start, taxpayer dollars are spent and gazillions of images stored, shouldn’t the public and its representatives thoroughly debate the parameters of how the machines can be used? It took a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court last year to tell law enforcement they needed a warrant to track people via GPS, so it’s clear once technology is available, government officials and others will use it regardless of the ethics – and constitutionality of it. I don’t know if Americans are yet prepared to become residents of London, where cameras blanket the city, and do not think current law adequately protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure linked to information gathered from unmanned aircraft.
It is also scary to think of how drones dehumanize people. Information generated by them transforms individuals into data points to be analyzed by big government or big business in the same way that they do to enemy combatants. Using a weaponized video game to protect U.S. citizens is one thing, but to turn them loose on Americans, even for civilian reasons, should not be a natural progression.
Ever since September 11, 2001, Americans have been told it’s necessary to sacrifice civil liberties for safety. But the vast majority of new government powers have been used not to monitor terrorists, but for traditional law enforcement. Just because technology exists does not mean it should be used. Without people like Sen. Paul questioning government, however, cradle to grave surveillance will become as American as obesity and bankrupt entitlement programs.
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Marta H. Mossburg is an independent columnist. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul last week filibustered the confirmation of John Brennan for Central Intelligence Agency director over the fine points of drone use on American citizens.

He stood before the Senate for 13 hours to protest the fact that the government said it could under “extraordinary circumstances” strike an American citizen labeled an enemy combatant on U.S. soil. Many ridiculed him for arguing about something that will never happen.

The elections are only a few months behind us, but Democrats are already busy working to ensure citizens and non-citizens, the dead, felons and those registered in two or more states can cast a ballot in the next political contests.
These “new Americans" - the term used by Democratic rising star and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for illegal immigrants, used-to-be Americans, those who gave up their voting rights after committing a crime and extra-engaged citizens - have one thing in common: They like Democrats.
That is why the left is busy pushing voter “access” from the top down.
President Barack Obama said in his inauguration speech that, "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote." And in his State of the Union speech, Obama proposed a commission to study electoral reform to make voting faster and easier.
But that is really not the mission. The average wait time around the country is 14 minutes, hardly an overwhelming burden.
The real issue is finding ways to ensure Democratic hegemony for decades to come. That is why the party and liberal activists want federal and state reforms allowing same-day registration and voting, and expanded early voting. It's also why they go postal over laws requiring voter identification and refuse to acknowledge fraud and election security issues.
Instead, they say the real problem is a vast conservative conspiracy to prevent minorities and the poor from voting.
As Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said on the floor of the House, “State legislatures are attempting to impose voting restrictions that are the modern day equivalent of poll taxes and literacy tests. … We cannot allow state legislatures to drag our nation backward in what is nothing more than a political quest to protect their governing majority’s interests.”
??First, virtually everyone has a photo ID these days because they are a requirement of the activities of modern life, from boarding a plane to cashing a check.
But many of the state laws referenced by Wasserman Schultz don’t require a photo ID. They ask for things such as a utility bill, bank statement or Social Security card.
Second, even those who believe that line of reasoning admit the number of people impacted by ID laws will be small. As Harvard history professor Alexander Keyssar wrote prior to the November election, “The number is unlikely to be huge, particularly since various pro-voting-rights groups (as well as the Democratic Party) will work hard to help people get their ID documents.”
Keyssar thinks the number could be “large enough to affect the outcome of close races for Congress and even for the presidency,” but does not offer evidence to back his claim.
There is plenty of evidence of fraud, however.
Wendy Rosen, a Democrat who ran for Congress in Maryland last year, withdrew from her race after news broke that she voted in both Florida and Maryland.
The New York Daily News found that 46,000 snowbirds, mostly Democrats, were registered in both New York City and Florida. Its analysis exposed that up to 1,000 of them voted in both states in multiple elections. The paper wrote, “The finding is even more stunning given the pivotal role Florida played in the 2000 presidential election, when a margin there of 537 votes tipped a victory to George W. Bush.”
And a group in Minnesota found by comparing criminal records with voting rolls that more than 1,000 ineligible felons voted in the state’s 2008 election that decided a U.S. Senate seat, won by Democrat Al Franken, by 312 votes.
Waiting in line to vote is an inconvenience, but reducing the wait time to zero is not worth it if it jeopardizes the integrity of elections across the United States. If those on the left truly cared about free and fair elections, they would focus on ensuring those allowed to vote have appropriate identification and that voter rolls do not allow people to vote in multiple states.
Couching the lie of “voter suppression” in the guise of “voter access” makes it no less dangerous.
The elections are only a few months behind us, but Democrats are already busy working to ensure citizens and non-citizens, the dead, felons and those registered in two or more states can cast a ballot in the next political contests.