What to Read on Rick Santorum

Who Is Rick Santorum? — The Atlantic

Homosexuality, abortion and family values have been the signature issues of Santorum’s career, rising to prominence as he did during the height of the 1990s culture wars. He authored the partial-birth abortion ban that passed the Senate in 2003. He proposed an amendment to the No Child Left Behind legislation that would have required public-school teachers to discuss the “controversy” surrounding evolution. Remember Terri Schiavo? That was him, too — he was one of the leading voices calling for the federal government to intervene to prevent the Florida woman from being taken off life support amid conflicting family wishes. Santorum decries secularism, hedonism and the idea that different family configurations are equally acceptable, openly pining for a bygone society built around heterosexual marriage and traditional gender roles. In his book, It Takes a Family — intended as a rebuttal to Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village — Santorum blamed “the influence of radical feminism” for the distressing fact that women were finding it “more socially affirming to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.”

Santorum is an extreme Iran hawk, arguing that tough action, likely military, is needed to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. In effect, he says, the U.S. has been at war with Iran since 1979, and regime change will be necessary to ensure the country is no longer a threat. Santorum has been pounding this drum for some time. In 2005, he authored a bill to put $10 million toward Iran regime change.

Santorum Rose Quickly From Reformer to Insider — Sheryl Gay Stolberg

Mr. Santorum won election in 1990 to the House by attacking his Democratic opponent for living in Washington while representing Pennsylvania; by 2006 his critics said the same of him. As the third-ranking Senate Republican, he was a point man in a controversial effort to place Republicans in lobbying jobs. And his finances came into question, amid controversy over political donations and tuition money he accepted.

[In college, he] struck professors as ambitious, if more interested in tactics than issues.

“Most students would ask whether a policy would be worth the cost; he was unusual in that he was interested in what would get you the most votes,” Robert O’Connor, a former professor, recalled.

The group [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] put Mr. Santorum on its list of the “20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress,” and accused him of introducing legislation to benefit political donors.

Santorum: States Should Have the Right to Outlaw Birth Control — Igor Volsky

Santorum has long opposed the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling “that invalidated a Connecticut law banning contraception” and has also pledged to completely defund federal funding for contraception if elected president. As he [said, “Contraception is] not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

…contraceptive services provided at publicly funded clinics helped prevent almost two million unintended pregnancies. Without funding from Medicaid and Title X, “abortions occurring in the United States would be nearly two-thirds higher among women overall and among teens; the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women would nearly double.”

Santorum Says He Would Bomb Iran’s Nuclear Plants — Michael Ono

Rick Santorum said today that he would be in favor of launching airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

“We will degrade those facilities through airstrikes, and make it very public that we are doing that,” Santorum said…

“On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly,” Santorum said…

Among the possible methods for dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat listed on Santorum’s campaign website is treating nuclear scientists working for the Iranians like enemy combatants.

Santorum Hypes Iran “Threat” — Juan Cole

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum warned North Dakota on Wednesday that it was in the cross-hairs of an Iranian attack.

Iran has a small medical research nuclear reactor, which produces nuclear isotopes for use in chemotherapy.

The medical reactor was given to Iran by the United States… The reactor is being regularly inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure it is being used only for civilian purposes.

The reactor actually has no conceivable military purpose, and its fuel, uranium enriched to 19.75 percent, is used up when run through the reactor, so it cannot be used to make a nuclear warhead. Nuclear bombs need the uranium to be enriched to 95 percent…

Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects While Obsessing About Birth Control — Juan Cole

  1. …Pope John Paul II was against anyone going to war against Iraq…
  2. The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans.
  3. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations.
  4. The US Conference of Bishops has urged that the federal minimum wage be increased, for the working poor.
  5. The bishops want welfare for all needy families…
  6. The US bishops say that “the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions…”
  7. Catholic bishops demand the withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Rick Santorum denies that there are any Palestinians…
  8. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops ripped into Arizona’s law on treatment of immigrants…
  9. The Bishops have urged that illegal immigrants not be treated as criminals and that their contribution to this country be recognized.
  10. The US Conference of Bishops has denounced, as has the Pope, the Bush idea of ‘preventive war’, and has come out against an attack on Iran in the absence of a real and present threat of an Iranian assault on the US.

Ayatollah Santorum Excommunicates Obama, Mainstream Protestants — Juan Cole

Rick Santorum does not think Episcopalians are Christians.

…he believes the social Gospel and non-literal approaches to the Bible are un-Christian, and he has thrown President Obama out of Christianity along with 45 million other mainline Protestants. Santorum does not believe that the Bible suggests you care for the poor and needy.

In fact, Santorum by declaring the social Gospel to be un-Christian has not only excommunicated liberal Protestants from Christianity, he has excommunicated the majority of American Catholics, along with the US Council of Bishops and the last few popes, all of whom speak of an “option for the poor.”

…he condemns fornication and adultery, but also implicitly revealing clothing. And he is against condoms and birth control pills because in his view they encourage sleeping around (though he doesn’t approve of them for married people either; go figure).

…Santorum’s approach to religion and social policy is reminiscent of Muslim fundamentalist parties…

What to Read on Newt Gingrich

Gingrich Urges War with Iran and Skyrocketing Oil Prices — Juan Cole

Gingrich: “We need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with minimum use of force. We need a strategy…of being honest about radical Islam and designing a strategy to defeat it…

“We need a strategy in central Asia that recognizes that, frankly, if you’re Pashtun, you don’t care whether you’re in Pakistan or Afghanistan, because you have the same tribal relationships.

“But if we were serious, we could break the Iranian regime, I think, within a year, starting candidly with cutting off the gasoline supply to Iran, and then, frankly, sabotaging the only refinery they have.”

The new round of sanctions on Iran recently announced by the US, the UK and Canada have helped drive the price of Brent crude over $100 a barrel…

Oil supplies are tight, and if the US and Israel really could succeed in taking the 2.3 million barrels a day that Iran exports off the world market, on top of the Libyan reductions, it would likely put the price up to more like $200 a barrel (i.e. for Americans $6-$7 a gallon for gasoline).

The US…cannot hope to both replace Iranian production and meet increasing Asian demand with any known “all-energy” policy in the short to medium term. That is a science fiction scenario.

Iran has more than one refinery. The US doesn’t have the assets in Iran to conduct such extensive and massive “sabotage.” And, Iran could “sabotage” things right back. If he means bombing Iranian refineries from the air, that would be an act of war.

There are no [Pashtuns] in Iran or Central Asia, and Gingrich’s bizarre comments on Islam and Central Asia have nothing to do with Iran or its gasoline and petroleum production. Most post-Soviet Muslims in Central Asia are Tajiks or Turkic and are relatively secular.

As far as I can tell, Gingrich wants war with the whole Muslim world.

Newt’s War on Poor Children — Charles M. Blow

Nearly two weeks after claiming that child labor laws are “truly stupid” and implying that poor children should be put to work as janitors in their schools, he now claims…, “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”

[But, the fact is,] three out of four poor working-aged adults — ages 18 to 64 — work.

[Most] poor children live in a household where at least one parent is employed. And even among children who live in extreme poverty…a third have at least one working parent. And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas…nearly a third live with at least one working parent.

[Even] as more Americans have fallen into poverty in recent years, the crime rate over all — and, specifically, among juveniles — has dropped.

Gingrich Culls War Hawks for His National Security Team — Ali Gharib

Gingrich announced his national security team…:

  • David Wurmser: In 2007, a U.N. official called Wurmser one of the “new crazies” who wanted to attack Iran. In 1996, Wurmser co-authored a paper…advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.
  • Ilan Berman: Berman…has advocated U.S.-led regime change in Iran… [He’s] also attempted to minimize negative effects of [a military] attack and, in 2005…, said Iran is a “prime candidate” for Iraq-style pre-emption…
  • James Woolsey: Woolsey advocated for the Iraq war, supports illegal Israeli West Bank settlement construction, and now pushes a confrontational stance on Iran. In 1998, Woolsey signed onto a…letter urging the military removal of Saddam Hussein…
  • Robert “Bud” McFarlane: In 1988, McFarlane plead guilty to four counts of withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which he played a major role, even secretly travelling to Iran in the early arms-for-hostages part of the affair.

Fact Checking the Tea Party Debate: Republicans Stumble on Tax Issues — Citizens for Tax Justice

Gingrich [said] that he is “cheerfully opposed” to raising taxes by closing the sorts of corporate loopholes that benefit GE and other corporations, while also conveniently leaving out that he actually works as an advisor to GE.

Gingrich and the Destruction of Congressional Expertise — Bruce Bartlett

Gingrich said the [Congressional Budget Office] “is a reactionary socialist institution which does not believe in economic growth, does not believe in innovation and does not believe in data that it has not internally generated.”

Most policy analysts from both sides of the aisle would say the C.B.O. is one of the very few analytical institutions left in government that one can trust implicitly.

Gingrich said, “If you are serious about real health reform, you must abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies.”

Gingrich did everything in his power to dismantle Congressional institutions that employed people with the knowledge, training and experience to know a harebrained idea when they saw it. When he became speaker in 1995, Mr. Gingrich moved quickly to slash the budgets and staff of the House committees, which employed thousands of professionals with long and deep institutional memories.

In addition to decimating committee budgets, he also abolished two really useful Congressional agencies, the Office of Technology Assessment and the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The former brought high-level scientific expertise to bear on legislative issues and the latter gave state and local governments an important voice in Congressional deliberations.

The amount of money involved was trivial even in terms of Congress’s budget. Mr. Gingrich’s real purpose was to centralize power in the speaker’s office, which was staffed with young right-wing zealots who followed his orders without question.

Sorry, Newt. You Never Balanced the Budget — Robert S. McIntyre

In fact, the budget surpluses that we enjoyed from 1998 to 2001 had nothing to do with [Gingrich’s] balanced budget act. Instead, the surpluses stemmed from a dramatic surge in federal revenues, mainly personal income taxes.

In 1993, Bill Clinton undid some of the Reagan tax cuts for the wealthy, in a bill that every Republican in Congress opposed. In the years that followed, federal revenues shot up. By 1996, the deficit had fallen by more than half from its 1993 level.

In 1998 tax revenues continued to soar… That was enough to produce a $64 billion budget surplus. …this had nothing to do with the ’97 budget act, which, because of its tax cuts, actually reduced the 1998 surplus slightly.

How Newt Gingrich Added $16 Trillion to the National Debt — Bruce Bartlett

According to the latest Medicare trustees report, the unfunded liability of Medicare Part D is $16.1 trillion.

[Just before Congress voted on Medicare Part D], Newt Gingrich [wrote in the] Wall Street Journal: “Every conservative member of Congress should vote for this Medicare bill. […] If you are a fiscal conservative who cares about balancing the federal budget, there may be no more important vote in your career than one in support of this bill.”

The Republican Candidates’ History on Mandates — Sarah Kliff

Newt Gingrich has repeatedly supported the mandated purchase of health insurance… “I agree that all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care,” he told “Meet the Press” earlier this year.

Newt Gingrich’s Doctoral Dissertation — Robert Paul Wolff

“Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960 A Dissertation Submitted on the Sixth Day of May, 1971 to the Department of History of the Graduate School of Tulane University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Newton Leroy Gingrich.”

There is no evidence in the text that he traveled either to Belgium or to the Congo, and he seems not to have interviewed any of the principal actors, Belgian or Congolese, even though the dissertation was written only a handful of years after the departure of the Belgians from the Congo.

Colonization is seen almost entirely from the perspective of the colonial power, not from that of the indigenous population. The rule of King Leopold II, who literally owned the colony as his private property until, at his death, he willed it to Belgium, is widely understood to have been the most horrifyingly brutal colonial regime in Africa. Gingrich acknowledges this fact once in the dissertation.

What to Read on the Fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi

The Libya War Argument — Glenn Greenwald

[Gaddafi’s] demise [tells] us very little about the key questions surrounding the war: how many civilians…died and [will] die in the future? What [will] be required to stabilize [Libya]? How much more fighting [will] be unleashed? What precedents did the attack set? What regime [will] replace [Gaddafi] and what type of rule [will] it impose, and to whom [will] its leaders be loyal?

Of course the U.S. participation in [the Libya] war is still illegal. It’s illegal because it was waged for months not merely without Congressional approval, but even in the face of a Congressional vote against its authorization. That NATO succeeded in defeating the Mighty Libyan Army does not have the slightest effect on that question, just as Saddam’s capture told us nothing about the legality or wisdom of that war.

[The] real toll of this war (including the number of civilian deaths that have occurred and will occur) is still almost entirely unknown, and none of the arguments against the war (least of all the legal ones) are remotely resolved by [Gaddafi’s fall from power].

History Repeats Itself, with Mistakes of Iraq Rehearsed Afresh — Robert Fisk

No one is going to make the same mistakes we made in Iraq. And no boots are on the ground. No walled-off, sealed-in Green Zone Western zombies are trying to run the future Libya. “It’s up to the Libyans,” has become the joyful refrain of every State Department/ Foreign Office/Quai d’Orsay factotum. Nothing to do with us!

But, of course, the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen — all pretending to be “advisers” rather than participants — is the Benghazi Green Zone. There may (yet) be no walls around them but they are, in effect, governing Libya through the various Libyan heroes and scallywags who have set themselves up as local political masters. We can overlook the latters’ murder of their own commanding officer — for some reason, no one mentions the name of Abdul Fatah Younes any more, though he was liquidated in Benghazi only a month ago — but they can only survive by clinging to our Western umbilicals.

How to Avoid Bush’s Iraq Mistakes in Libya — Juan Cole

  1. No Western infantry or armored units should be stationed in the country.
  2. As much as possible of the current bureaucracy, police and army should be retained.
  3. Some Libyans are complaining about the prospect of retaining the same police as in the old regime, and want local security committees instead. A compromise would be to establish a strong civilian oversight over police,
  4. Avoid being vindictive toward former Qaddafi supporters, and avoid purging all but the top officials from the body politic.
  5. Avoid a rush to privatize everything.
  6. Consult with Norway about how it is possible for an oil state to remain a democracy.
  7. Use the Alaska dividend system to share the oil wealth with Libya’s 6.5 million people.
  8. Democratization and economic growth cannot be attained through oil exports alone. …use the petroleum receipts to promote other industries and services.
  9. Recognize Berber as a national language.
  10. Once it gets on its feet socially and economically, Libya should go forward with bruited plans to get into solar and wind energy big time.

Obama’s NATO War for Oil in Libya — Robert Dreyfuss

[The] rebel leader who heads the opposition Libyan oil company, which was formed with support from the Arab Gulf kleptocrats, says that Libya’s new leaders, a combination of wealthy defectors, tribal chieftains, and Islamists, plan to favor their NATO backers when handing out access to Libya’s oil.

Helpfully, the Times points out: “Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with.”

 

What to Read on Israel and Palestine

What Lies Behind Netanyahu’s Bluster on “1967 Borders” — Juan Cole

Lots of countries are unhappy with their borders. Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait in 1990 in part because he felt that the British had erred in not giving modern Iraq a deep water port, which made Iraq ‘indefensible’ and put it at an economic disadvantage. Pakistan believes that its failure to secure the headwaters of the Indus Valley rivers in Kashmir in 1947 puts it at a permanent disadvantage vis-a-vis India and makes the country overly vulnerable (‘indefensible’). Netanyahu’s immoral argument that a country just has to take by main force whatever it feels will make it more secure is astonishing and is a standing danger to world peace if it were taken seriously by other countries.

“Bibi” Votes Republican — Patrick J. Buchanan

Obama was not saying the 1967 borders were to be the end of negotiations but the starting point. Indeed, where else would one begin land negotiations if not from the last recognized map?

Palestine’s Hidden History of Nonviolence — Yousef Munayyer

It wasn’t until nonviolent protests were met with severe repression that Palestinian guerrilla movements began.

Here Comes Your Nonviolent Resistance — The Economist

So now we have an opportunity to see how Americans will react. We’ve asked the Palestinians to lay down their arms. We’ve told them their lack of a state is their own fault; if only they would embrace non-violence, a reasonable and unprejudiced world would see the merit of their claims. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of them did just that, and it seems likely to continue. If crowds of tens of thousands of non-violent Palestinian protestors continue to march, and if Israel continues to shoot at them, what will we do? Will we make good on our rhetoric, and press Israel to give them their state? Or will it turn out that our paeans to non-violence were just cynical tactics in an amoral international power contest staged by militaristic Israeli and American right-wing groups whose elective affinities lead them to shape a common narrative of the alien Arab/Muslim threat? Will we even bother to acknowledge that the Palestinians are protesting non-violently? Or will we soldier on with the same empty decades-old rhetoric, now drained of any truth or meaning, because it protects established relationships of power? What will it take to make Americans recognise that the real Martin Luther King-style non-violent Palestinian protestors have arrived, and that Israeli soldiers are shooting them with real bullets?