Sunday, August 21, 2011

Yikes! A sane Republican

It’s a scary thing when a guy starts feeling kind of warm and fuzzy about a GOP presidential contender --- not that I’d ever vote for one. But Jon Huntsman actually makes sense now and then. That’s rare in the Republican field.

Take his Tweet last week: "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."

Crazy, sure, if he hopes to win a nomination from the barbed wire and detention camp crowd fixated now on damnfools (Rick Perry), damnfool zealots (Michele Bachmann) and outright hypocrites (Romney). Plus Ron Paul, whose lunacy kind of defies description.

But, given the chance, Huntsman just might just pick up enough votes to win among Republicans who haven’t yet taken the know-nothing pledge, independents and a few Democrats underwhelmed by the Obama record.

He certainly has credentials, more than the rest can say. During his time as Utah governor (2004-2009), he managed to cut taxes by $400 million, still maintain a budget surplus and help win for his home state the designation “Best Managed State in America” from the Pew Research Center and recognition as one of best states in the country in which to do business. (He resigned during 2009 to accept President Obama’s nomination as U.S. ambassador to China).

Huntsman seems to be something of an emergent --- both as a Mormon and as a Republican, willing to talk to and work with folks of other faiths, both religious and political. He also favors civil unions (although not same-sex marriage), doesn't believe God created fossils as decor for rocks and hasn't added his John Henry to the dumbass sign-up sheet.

It’ll be interesting to see how his act plays among Republicans outside Iowa, where his likes haven't a prayer. He’s also the son of a billionaire (Jon Huntsman Sr.), so he can afford politics.

Back in Iowa this morning, The Register is tip-toeing in a mildly critical way around the fact our new/old Republican governor, Terry Branstad, is stacking the regulatory deck against the environment with key political appointments.

That’s hardly a surprise and it’s only fair to point out that the Department of Natural Resources took big budget hits during two previous, Democratic, administrations.

Still, I’d really like a little cleaner water (you certainly cannot drink and in some instances can’t even wade in Iowa’s safely). Get near a hog confinement operation and you can’t breathe either.

Another Register report deals with Branstad’s continuing assault on the Department of Inspections and Appeals, which regulates nursing homes and other health-care facilities.

Iowa already ranks close to the bottom when it comes to actually inspecting nursing homes and the like --- but the governor campaigned in part on a pledge to reduce oversight even further.

We certainly live in interesting times.

On a more positive note, I seem to be giving up red meat --- and can't quite figure out why. Perhaps I was grossed out by one too many bratwurst. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with personal aversions to feed lots or confinement operations, although I've got them. If it did, although I rarely eat chicken, I’d give up eggs, too, since they’re produced for the most part in similar set-ups.

Actually, I’ve never been an enthusiastic meat eater --- a little hamburger in a casserole, bratwurst now and then, the occasional pork loin chop. Truthfully, I prefer macaroni and cheese, big salads and fresh fruit. And I’m also still eating fish (I’m sure catfish and tuna have feelings, too).

It’s not clear where this is going, and I really do plan at some point to eat the small stash of breakfast sausage and an intimidatingly large turkey breast reposing in the freezer.

Maybe it has something to do with turning 65. According to reports last week, Bill Clinton passed that milestone, too --- and became a vegan. That’s just too much of step for me, I’m afraid.

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