What’s wrong with flip-flopping? (5×8 – 1/2/12)

The art of changing your mind, the polar plunge, Fargo-Moorhead’s person-of-the-year choice, how Bret Favre is still killing the Vikings, and should a leg keep a pilot from pursuing a dream?

The Monday Morning Rouser:


Answer me this: When’s the last time you changed your mind about something and realized you might’ve been wrong in an initial assessment or opinion?

An opinion segment on yesterday’s CBS Sunday Morning made a compelling case for “flip flopping,” arguing that changing one’s mind is evidence of a mind that considers new data. Why is that a bad thing?Mano Singham made a similar point in a blog post last summer:

When I look back on my own life, I can see many areas where my views have changed dramatically. I used to think that US involvement in Vietnam was a noble thing. I now think is was an atrocity. I used to be a devout believer in god and now am an atheist. I used to disparage the feminist movement as making much ado about trivial things but now realize what an important role they played in the drive for women’s equality. I used to be indifferent to gay issues but now strongly support their move towards full equality. If I think harder, I am sure that I can come up with more examples of my own flip-flopping on important issues. But I don’t see myself as a rudderless person, drifting this way and that on the basis of whims or expediency.

Years ago, when I first started the Polinaut blog (now Capitol View) on MPR, I challenged politicians in the state to tell me the last time they changed their mind on an issue based on new data, testimony, or citizens’ input at a “listening session.”

No politician has ever answered the question.

If there was still any doubt that politics is just a “game” for many people, this MPR story about a supporter of President Obama’s who is in Iowa campaigning for Michele Bachmann should dispel it.

A quick read of the story could lead one to believe he just wanted his candidate to have softer opposition in a general election, but it appears he had to do it as part of a class at Oral Roberts University, Mrs. Bachmann’s alma mater.

“I go to a very conservative school, so the opportunities we get academically are generally conservative. I would really enjoy more liberal opportunities as well,” Jonathan Townsend told MPR’s Mark Zdechlik.

The story raises so many ethical questions, indeed. This “democracy” things is serious business. Why should people have to work on behalf of a candidate, if the person doesn’t want a candidate elected? Should a young person check his values at the door?



Nothing says “happy new year” like jumping in icy water. The first fib of the year: “it wasn’t that bad.”

Ice cold bragging rights, Minnesota style from s. gross on Vimeo.


A gutsy call by the Fargo Forum newspaper. It named the CEO of American Crystal Sugar company as its 2011 “Person of the Year,” guaranteeing that the “letters to the editor” page will be the most popular page in the paper for the next few days. David Berg has locked out his company’s union workers, saying it’s to protect the profitability of farmers growing sugar beets, while the company’s shareholders gave him a big bonus.

“This isn’t about we had a good year in 2010, so we’re going to pay out a bunch of money in 2011,” Berg told the newspaper, in the first interview he’s given said the lockout began months ago. “If we don’t do a good job with this contract, we jeopardize the profitability of sugar beet companies” – and, by extension, the jobs of workers.

“There’s a lot of anger,” a union member said. “At first, we thought it was the management. The more we see into it, Dave Berg is the one that’s making the call on this. That’s what the farmers have hired him to do.”


When Brett Favre intentionally allowed himself to be sacked years ago so that his friend, Michael Strahan, could set a record for sacks in a season, many people said it was evidence of what a great guy Favre was.

What it actually showed was how little respect for the game Favre had. Yesterday, Jared Allen, who had to work hard for every one of his sacks, came up 1/2 sack short of a record he deserved to hold.

Here’s the game in 60 seconds (Pioneer Press):

Category: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”






Many years ago, I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. But back then, if you wore glasses, the military didn’t want you. Times change, but not completely. Matt Pirrello of Ohio has fine vision, he’s just missing a leg. He’s trying to win an exception to pursue his dream, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Check out the video at the above link.

Think you can’t fly a plane without all your limbs? Meet Jessica Cox.

Bonus I: End of an era: The Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railway Co., name is history. It’s merged with two other railroads under the Wisconsin Central name. The Minnesota Historical Society provides the railroad’s history.

Bonus II: Cee Lo Green changes the words to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and feels the heat.


Now that it’s a new year, many people will be trying to make new habits or break old ones. Today’s Question: What do you intend to do differently in 2012?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Previewing the Iowa caucuses.

Second hour: Author Chuck Palahniuk on Talking Volumes.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Norm Ornstein joins Midday to discuss the what the new year brings for Congress and the president.

Second hour: New BBC documentary about the year of “Arab Spring.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Politics and religion.

Second hour: What we’re learning from identical twins.

  • I think people are afraid that if a politician has “flip flopped” in the past, they aren’t guaranteed to keep their campaign promises. That he really isn’t “one of us”.

    But what politician keeps all of their promises? Or even *can*?

  • David Galitz

    With politicians, there’s the added difficulty of determining if it’s an honest change of opinion based on the facts or pandering.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob- Re “I wanted to be an Air Force pilot.”

    That explains a lot. Thanks. Or perhaps, in addition to inadequate eyesight for bombin’ n shootin’ stuff from the sky, “you changed your mind about something and realized you might’ve been wrong in an initial assessment or opinion?” 🙂

    Re “What it [ allowing himself to be sacked for a friend] actually showed was how little respect for the game Favre had.”

    Hey, were you consulted on the Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission decision? You know, the one that said that corporations have a value equal to that of human beings? Cool.

    And all this from a guy who writes some of the most compassionate human interest pieces that I’ve ever read. Complexity, thy name is Bob. 🙂