School Cracks Down on Candy Pushers

Schools have enough trouble stopping the sales of drugs. Now one school is bothering to try to prevent the sales of candy and other unhealthy food in school:

The New Haven schools superintendent said Wednesday that he will review a principal’s decision to suspend an eighth-grade student for buying candy in school.

Michael Sheridan was stripped of his title as class vice president, barred from attending an honors student dinner and suspended for a day after buying a bag of Skittles from a classmate.

The New Haven school system banned candy sales in 2003 as part of a districtwide school wellness policy, said school spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo.

Shelli Sheridan, Michael’s mother, told the New Haven Register that he is a top student with no previous disciplinary problems.

It is at least good to see that the superintendent is reviewing the decision. While it might make sense to try to reduce the amount of candy eaten by children, a suspension such as this is quite excessive. The school’s policy is that “no candy or junk food fundraisers will be allowed on school grounds.” A total ban also sounds excessive. The goal should be to teach children about a health diet, which for most people does include occasional treats. Even the American Diabetes Association has loosed their recommendations in recent years to allow an occasional treat, recognizing that this is more realistic than totally prohibiting them in their diet plans.

A better  goal than banning unhealthy food would be to have the students understand what constitutes a healthy diet so that they can hopefully be able to make healthier choices throughout their lives. Most people are not going to totally abstain, and a policy of total prohibition in the schools might actually be counterproductive as it gives the students no experience in school of balancing a healthy diet with some treats. Beside, they are going to do what they want once they get out of school. There is absolutely no point in making an otherwise good student suffer such unjustified punishment.

The Big State Argument

It is hard to decide whether I do not want Hillary Clinton to be president more because she is wrong on so many issues (her support of the Iraq and drug wars plus her conservative positions on civil liberty and social issues) or because the amount of dishonest and irrational arguments from her camp is getting so tedious to listen to. Keith Olbermann already chastised her for a number of such arguments emanating from her campaign. Looking around the blogosphere, it looks like many have heard her bogus electability arguments far too many times.

One of Clinton’s many irrational arguments comes down to claiming that because she has won many big states she is more electable in the general election. Putting aside the fact that she ignores states where Obama has won, this ignores the fact that the big states where she has won, such as New York and California, are just as likely to go Democratic with Obama heading the ticket. There is very poor correlation between place in primaries and winning the general election.

What is far more important than which specific states each wins is who each candidate can appeal to. In general Clinton’s support is limited to Democrats. Clinton receives the support of Republicans in primaries on Rush Limbaugh’s endorsement only because they want to cross over and vote for the Democratic candidate who will be easier to beat. In contrast, Obama has long had the support of many independents and some Republicans. As a result, he is likely to win the blue states which Clinton has won as well as being far more competitive in the battle ground states and even in some red states.

Steve Benen looked at the competing claims from each campaign with regards to electability and concluded:

In some ways, this leads to an interesting dynamic — the Clinton campaign is boasting of its ability to win contests in big “blue” states, while the Obama campaign can tout its success in winning in big “purple” states.

Does this “debunk” Clinton’s big-state argument? Sort of. I’ve never found the argument entirely compelling, but I consider states like Virginia and Missouri pretty big, and if Obama has a better chance of winning these states in November than Clinton, it’s an important angle to consider.

The next question, at least for me, is whether Clinton’s big-state victories are limited exclusively to her. In other words, she won major prizes like California and New York — but does that mean Obama wouldn’t win California and New York? That would matter a great deal, but I haven’t seen any evidence to that effect.

Kos looks at the states in various different ways, comparing them with current polls. Polls taken at this time are certainly not predictive of the general election result, but it doesn’t help Clinton’s arguments that such an analysis goes against her. After analyzing the data a few different ways Kos concludes, “No matter how you parse it, the data is clear that Obama is the more competitive November candidate for the Democratic Party.” There are certainly ways to argue with some of Kos’s assumptions, but they are at least more plausible than the arguments coming from the Clinton campaign.

Update: Pennsylvania Polls Debunk Clinton Electability Argument