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LARRY PARSONS: Sometimes the nanny just might be right

Leaders of the mightiest nation on earth continue to amaze.

Unemployment, the Middle East, falling wages, climate change, endless war, health care, decayed infrastructure — take an issue, any issue, and the stakes are great. So should be the national conversation.

And once the smoke cleared from the most moronic play call in the history of the game played between Super Bowl commercials, the debate turned to measles and vaccinating kids against preventable diseases.

Politicians who want voters to take them seriously — Sen. Rand Paul and Gov. Chris Christie so far, but certain to be joined by other defenders of liberty and the constitutional right to be ignorant &mdash are siding with the so-called “anti-vaxxers.” Lots of others, from House Speaker John Boehner to Hillary Clinton, are coming down on the side of the vast majority of public health providers who say, in effect, “Get the shots, already.”

FOX News’ Sean Hannity boldly declared he would’t trust President Obama to tell him where, when or why to get his children vaccinated. Of course, Hannity, who declared a state of siege the day Obama took office, wouldn’t trust the president to tell him, “Pull the chute, Sean,” if he was falling out of an airplane.

I realize for many of my fellow citizens the essence of America’s promise could be summed up today by the phrase, “Don’t tell me what to do, Jack!”

By the minute, they see more and more evidence of the oppressive reach of big government impinging on their freedom. Nothing will dissuade them from this core belief. It’s wearying to even try.
Then along comes another breath-taking example of the asinine reaches to which this mindset can wander, and it forces one to gasp and try again to muster the words, “But, but …  it’s for the common good.”

A sitting member of the United States Senate this week said this can’t be the land of the free if restaurants are required to tell workers to wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

Let the market and its invisible hand — don’t worry about where that hand has been — decide the fate of eateries that opt out of this draconian dictate.

The senator says any such restaurant would have to advertise this policy to the public so the mighty forces of the free market — someone looking for a decent bowl of chili, for instance — could do their wondrous work. Though that sounds suspiciously like another big-government regulation, it’s clear what effect such an ad campaign would have. The next sign in the restaurant window would say, “For rent.”

Either the gentleman from North Carolina was joking, or the whole “government is the problem” world view has reached pandemic levels of stupid.

It wasn’t Marx, Lenin, Mao, Castro or Jimmy Carter who came up with the whole “Wash your hands after using the bathroom” rule.

In my household, it was Mom. She was no faceless government bureaucrat. And I won’t have some grandstanding politician talk about moms everywhere like that.

To those who would chant, “Nanny state, nanny state, ” I recall my mom’s words that chafed at my 7-year-old sense of freedom: “Wash your hands again. With soap and hot water, this time!”

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close-up making sausages automatic processAs Central Coast residents and media folks rushed Thursday to deal with the buckets of rain brought by “Hellastorm,'” another hellastorm played out in Congress.

It featured “Cromnibus” — which isn’t a Hollywood monster or an old “Seinfeld” holiday — but last-ditch legislation to keep the federal government from being shut down at midnight.

Eleventh-hour legislation to avert government shutdowns is becoming as much a holiday tradition as trimming the tree, shopping for presents and Fox News coverage of the 30-year War on Christmas.

Passage of Cromnibus — a semantic salad mixing “continuing resolution” and “omnibus appropriations measure” — was going to be tight.

Right-wing Republicans didn’t like it because it actually paid for federal operations that they would just as soon see nullified.

Left-wing Democrats didn’t like it, particularly because of a last-minute provision that no one would publicly cop to supporting, which will use tax dollars to insure risky swap investments by big banks. One reform measure passed in the wake of the 2008 economic crash had removed federal insurance from this high-roller action by the big investment banks.

Those fancy financial instruments were instrumental in the 2008 meltdown and subsequent, highly popular bailout of bonus-earning Wall Streeters.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren urged House Democrats to reject this crummy feature of Cromnibus. The drama increased as President Obama and Vice President Biden personally pitched in to help House Speaker John Boehner round up yes votes. Even JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon was working the phones. And he probably got right through to many of those of Congress critters who answer average constituents with snappy form letter thank yous.

In the end, 57 House Democrats joined all but 67 Republicans to pass the spending bill, including Central Coast Congressman Sam Farr. He must have bought the White House arguments for Cromnibus more than he bought those from Pelosi and Warren.

Why isn’t exactly clear.

Farr’s last tweet on the subject urged Central Coast residents to stay dry while Stormulus lashed his home turf as he remained in the capital for the big budget showdown.

The Associated Press quoted Farr as telling colleagues to “Hold your nose and make this a better world.” There was too much good stuff in Cromnibus to risk getting a worse deal once Republicans take control of both houses of Congress next year. Those goodies include money to fund nearly every Cabinet agency through September 2015, increases for health research, securities regulation, processing of a backlog of rape kits, and foreign aid.

In a press release Tuesday, Farr had glowingly said the spending bill would have an amendment he co-authored to prevent the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients.

That’s what legislators call compromise.

Bankers will get full house backing on their high-risk investment gambles. And medical marijuana patients won’t have to fear the federal kick on the door.

And the rest of us, the next time the economy crashes, may need some hellagood recreational pot.

UPDATE (2:10 pm)
Here’s a statement Farr posted on Facebook explaining why be voted for Cromnibus.

“Last night was a tough vote. Before us was a bill to avoid a government shutdown and keep the government open through September. The bill contained a lot of good things: increased funding for federal agencies, provisions to help our local ag industry, protections for medical marijuana patients, and it saved healthy school lunches to name just a few. It also contained some bad things the Republicans added at the last minute. I felt the good outweighed the bad and voted for it. The alternative was to allow the government to shut down or to only fund it for a short term until the Republicans take control of the Senate, leaving the Democrats with even less negotiating power. In both of those situations we would have lost all of the good this bill accomplished.”

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