I had initially decided not to watch Sarah Palin’s speech to “Tea Party Nation” Saturday night. Unfortunately, being the political rubbernecker that I am, I caved in and eventually watched nearly the entire address.

My first instinct was the correct one — it was a thing to be skipped. Palin deals in warmed-over conservative feel-good cliche, and she had at least 46 minutes worth of those Saturday evening, addressing the attendees of the “Tea Party Nation” in Nashville, who had each paid something like $600 per ticket.

Palin had clearly been prepped, but felt enough in her own element that she seemed to go “off-script” occasionally, often losing track of where she was in a sentence, and escaping by adding a string of dependent clauses which she would use to trail off wistfully before launching into a new statement.

Predictably, she made countless references to Ronald Reagan — which brings me to her first instance of where Palin should have felt a strong sense of cognitive dissonance. Early on in her speech, she lambasted President Barack Obama for the administration’s response to what has come to be known as the Christmas Day Panty Bomber incident. She decried the fact that the would-be bomber, one Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been granted legal representation. She drew cheers as she repeatedly stated that Abdulmutallab had “lawyered up,” and suggested that he will now not be providing law enforcement with intelligence about where he was trained, who he had worked with, or if any more plans for attacks were in the works.

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Health care reform has taken center-stage in the headlines, but it would be a mistake to call any of what’s happened a “debate.” Proponents of the bill have been saddled with the thankless task of countering the constant, bawling parade of misinformation and red herrings, which requires explaining subtleties and specific policy points — as well as overarching goals — that the other side is either too stupid or too willfully bull-headed to understand.

As H.L. Mencken once observed, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

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Via Pharyngula, here are two reactions to the reports of systemic abuse within the Catholic reform schools in Ireland:

Dublin Archbishop Diarmud Martin:

The church has failed people. The church has failed children. There is no denying that. This can only be regretted and it must be regretted. Yet “sorry” can be an easy word to say. When it has to be said so often, then “sorry” is no longer enough.

And on the other side of the spectrum, we have the American president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, who decided that it really wasn’t all that bad, and it was a long time ago anyway:

The Irish report suffers from conflating minor instances of abuse with serious ones, thus demeaning the latter. When most people hear of the term abuse, they do not think about being slapped, being chilly, being ignored or, for that matter, having someone stare at you in the shower. They think about rape.

By cheapening rape, the report demeans the big victims. But, of course, there is a huge market for such distortions, especially when the accused is the Catholic Church.

Bill, being as he is blinkered by his affiliation with the church, is unable to see the implications of this latest Catholic scandal. Instead, his organization has been spending its time decrying Obama’s visit to Notre Dame.

Oh — and it’s interesting to note that Donohue is very concerned about possible rapes of children. Just not when the rapists are Catholic clergymen.

I can’t claim that I’ve been busy because I haven’t. The semester is over, I wound up with a surprisingly decent GPA, and now I am half-heartedly looking for a job. Burger-flipping may be in the offing.

A couple things I need to address at some point — the president’s and former vice president’s speeches on national security Thursday is a major one. I came away from Obama’s reassured in the principles he is operating under (the idea of coequal branches of government, that the executive is bound by the decisions of the judiciary — you know, novel ideas like those) and from Cheney’s… well, was anybody really surprised by Dick Cheney’s 9/11 scare-fest? The speech was, on its face, repellent, and certain writers (who I won’t link to yet) have pointed out the blatant lies and half-truths he used in justifying his torture program (as well as, um, everything else the Bush administration did).

Another issue I should probably get some thoughts down on is atheism. I’ve wound up in a couple discussions about this since my last post, and it’s probably time to approach the subject — particularly after watching Dinesh D’Souza “debate” Daniel Dennett. D’Souza, in addition to being a big fan of Jesus, is also a fan of red herrings, straw men, and filibustering.

But that’s all stuff for later. I’m off for a run.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve gotten into a few arguments with Catholics upset at President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at Notre Dame University (scheduled for Sunday). There’s a petition you can sign online to “stop the scandal,” and prevent the president from giving the address.

Their argument is basically that since Obama supports abortion rights, it is therefore evil for him to speak at a Catholic university.

My argument has been that it isn’t, and it’s in fact a positive overture for the president toward American Catholics, as well as a significant honor for the Notre Dame class of 2009.

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I can’t wait to hear Obama-bashers come up with a reason why this is a bad idea:

Barack Obama targets offshore tax havens – Eamon Javers – POLITICO.com.

Likely, it’ll have something to do with “raising taxes during an economic downturn.” But let’s be clear: closing tax “loopholes” is simply another way of saying “eliminating tax shirking.”

I think it would be terrific to have a bank account in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands. But since I’m not Jason Bourne, I have to make due with my domestic account and pay taxes like every other poor schlub out there. Corporations — which are “citizens” when they find it convenient to be — ought to be expected to do the same.