Is this an e-mail to mock?

One of the 25,000 or so e-mails that Sarah Palin’s detractors are making fun of is this one that she wrote to her family about how her new baby Trig has Downs Syndrome: The One Sarah Palin E-mail We Cannot Stop Thinking About | VF Daily | Vanity Fair.

Are politicians allowed to change their minds?

More political madness that prevents good government:  We don’t allow our politicians to change their minds, even though they often need to.   A politician who is open to persuasion is condemned as a flip-flopper.   So observes Kathleen Parker:

A politician may be able to survive cavorting with prostitutes, sexting with coeds and commingling with interns, but heaven forbid he should change his mind — the transgression that trumps all compassion.

Or thinking.

After all, thinking can lead to that most dangerous territory for a politician — doubt — and, inevitably, the implication that dare not be expressed: “I could be wrong.”

via A defense of flip-floppery – The Washington Post.

Of course there are true flip-flops, the changing of a position simply because of shifts in the political wind, a sign of cynical relativism and lack of conviction.  And yet it’s the sign of a rational mind to be open to better reasoning and honest persuasion.   How can we voters tell the difference?

The Republican candidates’ debate

I watched the New Hampshire debate between the Republican presidential candidates.

Pawlenty is articulate; Bachman sounds like a good campaigner; Paul makes a lot of sense; Gingrich is a fountain of ideas; Santorum seems solid; Cain sounds like a good guy; Romney sounds more conservative than he has seemed.

Pawlenty opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the mother’s health (a huge loophole)?  Santorum takes a very strong pro-life stance, as does Bachman.

Notice that the alleged extreme Republicans, the Tea Party caucus’s Bachman and the libertarian Paul, are the peace candidates, opposing America’s involvement in the multiplying number of wars we are engaged in.  Peace-leaning Democrats should give the Tea Party credit for being more anti-war than their president.

On the whole, though, the candidates seem to be mostly agreeing with each other rather than distinguishing themselves from the others.  That’s what voters need at this point.

But do any of them seem as if they could be president?  I suspect that most American voters these days are influenced not so much about what candidates believe or what they would do as about whether they (1) like them  (2) have an image that seems presidential.  Yes, Americans are basically conservative, but they won’t vote for someone who comes across as angry.  They will vote for a Reagan, an optimistic, cheerful conservative.  Another important factor is “presence.”  Reagan had it; Obama has it.  I’m not sure that any of these candidates do.

Is ending a bad program a tax increase?

Senator Tom Coburn, who represents my natal state of Oklahoma, is probably the biggest deficit hawk in Congress.  He’s a deficit eagle, as fiscally responsible and economically conservative as they come.  But he’s taking flack from conservative activist Grover Norquist and others for violating the no new taxes pledge that most Republican lawmakers have taken.  Why?  Because Sen. Coburn is spearheading an effort to drop ethanol subsidies, which include a tax credit for that industry.

Most conservatives consider the ethanol subsidies to be a huge waste of money, an outdated concession to environmentalists, though farmers like that industry because it buys up so much of the corn crop, sending prices sky-high.  It sends the price for other commodities sky high too, since many farmers are cutting back the production of wheat and other crops in order to plant more corn, which cuts the supply of those other commodities.  But liberals also consider them a waste of money, a payoff to big corporations.  And there is a consensus that the subsidies cause actual harm to poor countries, since turning food into fuel and the consequent high food prices means more hunger for the poorest of the poor.  And even environmentalists now oppose the ethanol option, since it burns more fossil fuels to produce it–all of those tractors in cornfields–than it replaces.  And in this time of economic travail and crippling federal deficits, the subsidies are costing taxpayers $6 billion per year.

So why not kill the beast?  Because part of the subsidy is in the form of a tax credit, so repealing it would be a tax increase, and 95% of Republican lawmakers have promised not to vote for a tax increase.

See Coburn prompts Senate vote on ethanol subsidies – The Washington Post.

Once again, in politics as in religion,  we see the spirit of legalism, which violates the spirit of the law in order to keep the letter.

Can common sense be restored to our government?  Can this country even be governed in today’s political climate?

Feeding frenzy over Sarah Palin’s e-mails

The state of Alaska, following a freedom of information request, has released some 24,000 e-mails from Sarah Palin.  Apparently giddy yet overwhelmed with so much information, the Washington Post is putting them online and asking its own readers to rummage around in them and help them look for dirt.  The  New York Times and the British newspaper the Guardian is doing something similar.  See Read the Palin e-mails – The Fix – The Washington Post.

Doesn’t this strike you as unseemly?  First, why this obsession over Sarah Palin?  The journalists look down on her, and yet they hang on her every word and  lavish more attention on her than they give the war in Libya.  Second, to turn this trove of private messages over to the public just seems wrong.  A journalistic request was legally granted, so let a professional journalist sift through all of the messages to see if they record any wrongdoing.  But for journalists to just efface their role as reporters to turn private correspondence over to the public seems highly unprofessional.   Do your job and don’t make your readers do it!  Am I missing something?

But here is the irony. What has emerged so far from the e-mails is that Palin comes off as a pretty good governor. From a finally sober article in the Washington Post:

Often blunt and frequently impatient, Palin derided “old school” politicians and bureaucrats and acted as a champion of populist interests on issues ranging from energy policy to women’s rights, the e-mails show. Her relations with fellow politicians, including many Republicans, were often strained, and she relied heavily on her husband, Todd, and a close-knit group of aides to help cope with crises and shape policies.

Palin felt passionately about issues of importance to her state, the documents show, and she waged battle with foes large and small. That included detractors on obscure government commissions as well as multinational conglomerates seeking access to Alaska’s vast oil and gas reserves. She twice refers to one major oil executive with a derogatory nickname and complains that phone calls with him did not go well.

And read this amazed account from Politico.com!

Newt Gingrich’s whole staff resigns–for Perry?

Twelve of GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, every one of his top campaign staff, walked out on him!  That doesn’t auger well.  The speculation is that they are going over to Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Do you think he might be the cowboy on the white horse who could ride in and save the Republicans?

I’d like to hear from Texans about this guy, since he’s been governor for longer than anyone and I assume you must see something in him.

Newt Gingrich advisers resign en masse – Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman – POLITICO.com.

Gingrich Staff Quits: Is the Republican Nomination Perry’s to Lose? – Roger L. Simon


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