Monday, April 25, 2005

Last week was a good week for gluttony and greed in America. First off, a study by the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that risk of death for overweight people was actually lower than for those whose weight was so-called “normal”. Ha ha! Super-size me, baby!

So fat is the new black. While the news comes as a relief to roughly half of the American public dying to ditch the Atkins diet, the study did not find that the quality of life was better, or the risk of disability, disease, or depression was lower for people currently considered overweight but not obese, just the risk of death. But that’s OK. As everyone knows, American life is defined wholly by quantity. It’s a numbers game. As those in favor of the indefinite continuation of a certain brain-dead woman’s so-called life recently argued, fifteen years in a persistent vegetative state is better than none. This apparently applies to couch potatoes, too.

Better red than dead, right? Yes, the media’s spinning the battle of the bulge as yet another broadside in The War of Red and Blue. Weighing in on the right, Tucker Carlson (who’s looking paunchy) welcomed the news as more evidence that rail-thin liberal elites are out of step with real, rotund Americans. Liberals’ skeletal figures are part and parcel of their Culture of Death. Bony babe Ann Coulter’s been put on notice: pack on the pounds or be banished from the Red Brigade, comrade

Even The New York Times’ David Brooks revealed he has felt passively persecuted by healthy Americans, whose offensive habits, including regular exercise and eating salads in public, he described as “condescending.” The only reason I, for one, go to the gym is to feel superior flexing my washboard abs at flabby arch-conservatives. I’m not doing it for my health. Every salad I eat is an accusation. Republican reaction to the CDC report is another instance of the right’s bizarre, raging persecution complex.

Greedwise, Congress has finally approved drilling in the Arctic reserve Yee-haw Never mind that the amount of recoverable oil could easily be offset by a return to fuel-efficient automobiles. Hybrids are not only feasible, they are actually on the roads. But we know where the Bush administration’s priorities are: tax incentives for chuckleheads who think a trip to the mall in their Sherman tank is cool.

I think it’s a good thing to ease up a little on the weight issue, broaden the scope of “normal”. But a striking trend toward obesity is real. We live in a binge culture. Psychologists speculate that binging is an attempt to compensate for a perceived lack, or a reaction to trauma. SUVS got bigger in the wake of 9/11, and we went to war for oil rather than seek energy alternatives, or curb consumption. The question is: do we really want to be a sad, fat nation in denial?

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