Politics Archive

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dream Act

Support the Dream ActBy now, most people have probably heard of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). The law is meant to provide a path to citizenship for illegal aliens who came here as minors. Those undocumented immigrants who served in the military or went to college would be granted permanent resident status, and could later follow on to try to become citizens.

I very much like this idea. Children should not be held accountable for the crimes of their parents. And when parents bring their children with them into the country illegally, it is definitely the parents committing the crime. Those children that grow up here know no other way of life but this one. And the DREAM Act was specifically targeting those immigrants who would most likely to become productive members of the economy.

Now, Republican Senator Mark Rubio is touting his own alternative to the DREAM Act, which apparently has some differences from the bill that was put before the Senate in 2009. What I've heard most on the news is that Rubio didn't like that the original DREAM Act provided a direct path to citizenship, while his alternative would only grant them permanent residence status. Now, whether it's a case of Rubio misrepresenting the original DREAM Act or a case of bad reporting, I'm not sure, but the original DREAM Act didn't lead directly to citizenship. I've checked the first place of lazy researchers, Wikipedia, as well as DreamAct.info. The DREAM Act would only grant permanent resident status. (Or maybe I'm just doing my research poorly.)

Personally, I'd like to see something that lead more quickly to citizenship, but limiting it to permanent residency seems like a reasonable compromise to me. It allows those children who grew up and were raised in this country a chance to seek citizenship without the threat of being exported to a country they barely know.

In my life, especially since I've moved to Texas, I've met many people who came to this country illegally. Most of those people I know were brought here by their parents while they were still very young - before they'd even started school. They're every bit as much a product of and a part of American culture as I am. They themselves did nothing wrong. The only difference is that they just happened to be born a little further south than me. Most of those people that I know have since become legal residents or citizens, but it was a more difficult process than it should have been, and they were under constant threat of deportation. In fact, some of them, as elementary school children, would take a packed suitcase with them to immigration hearings about once a year. Had they been deported, they wouldn't have been allowed to return home, so their suitcases were all they would have been able to take with them.

Unfortunately, even permanent residency for people committed enough to serve in the military, or gifted enough to graduate from college, is too much to ask of some Republicans. It's true that some members of the GOP, such as Rubio, are supportive of ways to keep such people in this country, but Boehner has already come out and said that he didn't think even Rubio's watered down version of the law had a chance to be passed due to Republican opposition.

To put a personal face on this issue, here are a couple stories of people who were brought here illegally as children, and then went on to be exactly the types of people you'd want to stay in this country.

  • Jose Godinez-Samperio - Came to the U.S. when 9, Eagle Scout, high school valedictorian, completed college and law school on a full ride, passed the bar exam - not accepted by bar due to lack of immigration papers
  • Daniela Pelaez - Came to U.S. from Colombia when she was 4, high school valedictorian with 6.7 GPA, accepted to Dartmouth - ordered to be deported but received a 2 year reprieve

I really just can't understand the opposition to keeping productive members of society in this country due to the crimes of their parents.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Response to an Editorial by Ken Huber

NewspaperI got another right-wing e-mail the other day. At least, I assume it's right wing, since most of the arguments in it tend to lean that way, and it specifically criticizes "progressive" stances as wrong. However, it's a bit hard to tell. Maybe it's better just to chalk this up as one of those rants where everything was so much better in the good ol' days, but now the world's going to Hell in a hand basket.

This one was supposedly a reprint from an editorial, but I've been unable to find it online to determine what paper it was originally printed in. I was able to find it in examiner.com, but only as basically a reprint. The only clue is that the man who supposedly wrote it, Ken Huber, signed his name from Tawas City, which Google tells me is in Michigan. For the sake of argument, I'll just assume that someone named Ken Huber did actually write this editorial, and that it did actually appear in print. It doesn't really matter much, since this article has taken on a life of its own in e-mail forwards.

Before getting into my response, I'll note that after I wrote all this, I came across three other very good responses, which I'm linking to below. The first is the shortest and pithiest. The other two are a bit more thoughtful.

On to the editorial. I'll use my normal approach of putting a section of the original in blockquotes, followed by my comments.

Editor,

Has America become the land of special interest and home of the double standard?

Lets see: if we lie to the Congress, it's a felony and if the Congress lies to us its just politics;

Politicians lying is definitely infuriating, but it's not something to bring up in a question of 'what has America become', since politicians have always lied. At least with the dawn of the Internet, it's easy to fact check the politicians.


if we dislike a black person, we're racist and if a black person dislikes whites, its their 1st Amendment right;

I suppose Ken Huber is white. If he dislikes a black person just because of the color of their skin, then yes, he's racist. And if a black person dislikes Huber just because of the color of Huber's skin, then that black person would be a racist, too. And if a Latino, or an Asian, or an American Indian, or anyone else dislikes any person just because of the color of their skin, then they're a racist. But the 1st Amendment grants everyone that right, so long as you don't let your personal feelings cause actual harm against those people.

Huber's complaint would be much more persuasive if organizations like the KKK weren't allowed to spew their hatred, but they're free to speak just like everyone else. (I won't link to it, but the mere existence of Storm Front really shows society's tolerance of despicable speech.)


the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims;

I hope Huber is upset at the balance of spending, and not just on the fact that the government spends money to rehabilitate criminals. If the overall purpose of the legal system is to make society safer, what do we expect criminals to do once they get out of prison? Turn right back to crime and cause more harm before being arrested again? Or become productive members of society who can actually contribute?


in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process;

How are these related. The first is an issue of tolerance. The second is an issue of separation of church and state. Does Huber want schools to 'teach that homosexuality is OK' while specifically calling out Christianity on its intolerance and bigotry?

I know - not really. He wants to continue to allow people to be bigoted against homosexuals, and he wants to use religion as the excuse to allow it.


you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer;

I've already written about abortion, so I won't rehash all my arguments here. I think there are legitimate debates about how many rights to grant to a fetus at different stages of development, and how to balance those rights against those of the fully human woman who's carrying the fetus, but I also think there are times when abortion is justified.

Huber, though, does point out the hypocrisy of many of the 'pro-lifers'. Apparently, life is only sacred when still in the womb. Once you're an adult, it's okay if the state kills you. (Me - I'm ambivalent on the morality of capital punishment. Instead, I look at it from a pragmatic viewpoint - I don't trust the government to make irreversible life and death decisions, especially when so many convictions for people on death row have been overturned.) I'd have much more respect for the consistency of supposedly 'pro-life' supporters if they were vegetarians and opposed to the death penalty.


we don't burn books in America, we now rewrite them;

Actually, this is a problem. The right wing dominated State Board of Education here in Texas is notorious for the shenanigans it's pulled with textbook standards, from re-writing the religious influences on the Founding Fathers and our nation in general, to last minute back-door dealings on English standards, to injecting creationism into science.


we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive;

There actually are communist and socialist parties in this country. They are far more extreme than any Democrats or mainstream politicians who label themselves as 'progressive'.

It's gotten to the point where if you try to have anything in this country publicly funded, it gets labeled 'socialist' or 'communist' by the right wing. If a government funded fire department or police force is socialist, either socialism isn't such a bad thing, or people are throwing around the term where it doesn't belong.


we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea;

When I look at the border between North and South Korea, I don't see something to aspire to.


if you protest against President Obama's policies you're a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

Who has been labeled a terrorist for protesting Obama's policies? I don't see Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck being charged with anything.

And yes, it should be your right to burn any inanimate object you want to (assuming that act isn't dangerous). It may be offensive, but it does no actual harm to anybody. That's kind of the whole point of free speech. Doesn't prohibiting symbolic gestures seem a bit totalitarian?


You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas;

Wait, what? On what broadcast TV channel can you get pornography? The only channels I know of where you can find that type of content are on cable or satellite, i.e. channels that a person has to purchase.

This comparison is just silly. Cable/satellite TV are private services that people purchase. The Internet sites Huber's referring to are also privately owned. A public park is government run. Now, if you want to put up a nativity scene on private property, you've got every right to do so. I see plenty of them around town here during the holidays.

To really see how silly this comparison is, just swap around his comparisons. You can put a nativity scene on TV or the internet, but you can't have pornography in a public park. Appropriate venues for appropriate content.


we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people;

The U.S. has the largest prisoner population in the world, both in absolute numbers and per capita. Just think about that - we have more prisoners than either China or Russia. 25% of the inmates of the world are in the U.S., even though we only have 5% of the world's population And it's not as if the prison systems are public health institutions, or that chain gangs are a thing of the past. We're not soft on crime.


we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

Yeah, because nobody uses lab rats anymore.

There are definitely ethical considerations when using research subjects that experience emotions or feel pain. We tend to place the most restrictions on humans, mostly because it's us humans making the laws and we have high opinions of ourselves. But, humans are also the most intelligent animals, and probably have richer emotional lives than some other animals (though I'd be willing to bet the difference between us and chimps in this regard is practically nonexistent). And we're also the only animals that can give consent, so it does make sense for the restrictions to be highest for us.

But embryos and fetuses are a grey area. How do we judge when it's ethical to experiment on one organism and not another? If it's okay to use rats for research, how is it wrong to use a day old blastula that doesn't even have differentiated cells, let alone a nervous system or a functioning brain? Does the mere fact that it has human DNA make it special? If so, what do we do with HeLa cells, or even biopsies?

The first link below is a non-sensational account of the actual research that takes place with embryos and fetuses.


We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don't want to work;

Has this guy looked at any stats on wealth distribution or income inequality? The richest Americans have a hugely disproportionate share of the wealth, and both wealth inequality and income inequality are increasing. So who's losing out on money? Or does he think the rich are the ones stealing all that hard earned money from the poor and middle class?


we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology;

Not much argument here. The right wing tends to ignore the separation of church and state, suppress free speech, and wants to impose their morality on everyone, while the left wing tends to ignore the right to own firearms (though of course, that's a broad brush both ways). Both parties are ignoring the right to due process and a speedy trial with Guantanamo and the Patriot Act.


we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct;

Wait, wasn't he just complaining about it being okay to burn the flag or an effigy of the President? It sounds like he's arguing for freedom of speech, but only when it's speech he approves of.

When the Fred Phelps, Rush Limbaughs, Glen Becks, and Bill O'Reilly's of the world can get away with saying everything they do, it's hard to argue that only politically correct speech is permitted. (And don't confuse public outcry against the things those people say with restricting freedom of speech - it's really just granting the same freedom to the people who want to criticize their opinions.)

If you want to see problems with freedom of speech in areas where it's supposed to be upheld as a virtue, look to Europe. With their blasphemy laws, laws against Holocaust denial, the U.K.'s libel laws, etc., it makes you appreciative of the freedom we have here (not saying that Holocaust denial is noble, but that the government shouldn't be able to outlaw it).

And if you want to see huge problems with freedom of speech, look to the theocracies, dictatorships, and other oppressive governments of the world, which make you really grateful to live in a country that values that freedom as much as the U.S.


parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games;

No big argument from me, here. Those types of drugs are over-prescribed. I don't have a strong opinion on the video games.


the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs;

I do agree that welfare needs reform. Through my wife who used to work labor and delivery, I've heard of plenty of people abusing the system by having children just to get a bigger check. But, I also think it's a program that serves a valuable purpose and should stay in place in some manner. As the old saying goes - a hand up, not a hand out. Personally, I'd like to see some modern version of the CCC, but good luck getting that past the Tea Party who'd just call it socialist or complain of government expansion.

To be honest, though, the actual cases of welfare fraud are greatly exaggerated.


the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

No big argument on this one.


And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who's at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes; tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

In regards to the 'raises our taxes', I'll just quote something I wrote before. "I don't understand why taxes all of a sudden became such a big issue when Obama took office. Why didn't we see the Tea Party protesters 3 years ago? The timing seems a bit suspicious. For most people, taxes are comparable to what they've been for the past 50 years. For the wealthy, they've increased slightly under Obama, but they're still significantly lower than they were during the Nixon & Reagan years. The tax burden in the U.S. isn't that bad compared to other countries, either. All the data just makes the Tea Party protesters seem like a bunch of whiners who don't want to pay their fair share to support society."


What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

- Ken Huber
Tawas City

No real comment on this last part.


So that's it - one long rant of claims and comparisons that mostly didn't stand up to any scrutiny.


Updated 2012-03-23 - Slightly reworded the section on freedom of speech, and added the mentions of oppressive countries, since those really are far worse than the U.S. or Europe.

Updated 2012-03-26 - I didn't explicitly state this at the top of this entry, but this originally began as a response to the friend who sent it to me. I actually posted this entry before sending the response, and in reading over the response one last time before sending it to him, I found a few more changes - the biggest being the inclusion of a few more stats in regards to incarceration in the U.S. I also added the links to some of the other reviews that I found.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Evil Girl Scouts

Girl ScoutsThis is a bit old news by now, but I couldn't let it pass by completely without comment.

The Indiana House of Representatives had a resolution to recognize the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts of America. One of the Republican representatives, Bob Morris, refused to vote for the resolution. His reason? Among others, that Girl Scouts is a "radicalized organization" that "promote[s] homosexual lifestyles", and that they're being used by Planned Parenthood into "sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts".

Morris wrote a letter to his fellow Republicans explaining his views. It can be read in its entirety at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

While Morris was the only member of the Indiana House to not support the resolution, he is not a lone crackpot on this issue. There are more people than I'd like to imagine who are opposed to Girl Scouts for the reasons he discussed. So, for that anti-Girl Scout movement, I think it's worth taking a look at Morris's letter.

Morris's comments haven't gone unnoticed. The council up there, Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana / Michiana, has released a statement responding to Morris's claims:
What We Stand For

I guess I should also add that my wife and I are the co-leaders of our daughter's Girl Scout troop. While that may make us biased in favor of the organization, it also means that we're actually involved and know what actually goes on in Girl Scout activities.


Morris's comments are what I've come to expect from the extreme right - a combination of some things that simply aren't true, and some things that are true but where I disagree with his opinion. Let's start with this one from near the start of his letter.

The Girl Scouts of America and their worldwide partner, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood.

No, they haven't. How many times do different branches of Girl Scouts need to set the record straight before he'll believe it. Neither the council in Indiana nor the national GSUSA have any official ties to Planned Parenthood. I don't know for sure abut WAGGGS, but they don't set the agenda for GSUSA, anyway.

Here's one of the claims about Planned Parenthood's influence.

A Girl Scouts of America training program last year used the Planned Parenthood sex education pamphlet "Happy, Healthy, and Hot." The pamphlet instructs young girls not to think of sex as "just about vaginal or anal intercourse." "There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!" it states. Although individual Girl Scout troops are not forced to follow this curriculum, many do. Liberal progressive troop-leaders will indoctrinate the girls in their troop according to the principles of Planned Parenthood, making Bishop Conley's warning true.

Now, I don't know whether or not that pamphlet might have been used, but I'll assume it was included as part of a training program for leaders as an example of the type of material they could use when talking with their girls, if they were going to get into that topic. We haven't gotten into any type of sex ed with our troop (and if we ever do, I doubt I'll be a part of that meeting), but it is something I expect a scouting organization to at least touch on. It was something I had to do when I was in Boy Scouts years ago. Remember that any type of sex ed in scouting is kept age appropriate, and that scouting covers a broad age range. It's not as if people are talking to Brownies or Cub Scouts about sex. Those discussions are for the older scouts, who have already reached puberty, and who will have questions about it. And the policy of the Girl Scouts is to make sure that parents approve beforehand of their girls being in those types of discussions. It's not something leaders would just spring on the girls.

Not knowing exactly what was in that pamphlet, I can't see any problems with what Morris quoted from it. No, sex is not "just about vaginal or anal intercourse". It carries a lot more emotion than simply 'making babies', and is as much about an emotional connection with your partner as a physical one. The part about "no right or wrong way" and to "have fun, explore and be yourself" sounds entirely reasonable to me. It's removing the stigma so that people will be comfortable in their sexuality, not ashamed of 'dirty' feelings.

(Well whaddya know - per Snopes, the Girl Scouts never did use those handouts.)

Many parents are abandoning the Girl Scouts because they promote homosexual lifestyles. In fact, the Girl Scouts education seminar girls are directed to study the example of role models. Of the fifty role models listed, only three have a briefly-mentioned religious background - all the rest are feminists, lesbians, or Communists.

Oh, the horror - lesbians and feminists. Just because Morris is bigoted doesn't mean the Girl Scouts should be. One of the things I've been really impressed by with the Girl Scouts is their tolerance and inclusivity.

Plus, I'd sure like to see some documentation of what he's claiming. I can't recall any of the literature we've gotten from the Girl Scouts with anybody being used as a role model because of their sexual orientation. In fact, I can't recall any literature that discussed anybody's sexual preference at all. And I certainly can't think of anybody who was used as a role model for communism.

As far as feminism - what does he expect? Sexism has been a major problem in our country's history, and it was feminists who fought against it. Shouldn't Girl Scouts point out some of those feminists who paved the way for the girls of today.

World Net Daily, in a May 2009 article, states that Girl Scout Troops are no longer allowed to pray or sing traditional Christmas Carols.

World Net Daily? Really?

Anyway, I can assure you that none of that is true. Our council (much to my own personal chagrine) starts dinners and luncheons with a prayer. We've never been told that we weren't allowed to pray with our girls (though obviously, I don't do it), and there are no rules against singing 'We Three Kings'.

Boys who decide to claim a "transgender" or cross-dressing life-style are permitted to become a member of a Girl Scout troop, performing crafts with the girls and participate in overnight and camping activities - just like any real girl.

Who the hell cares? If a kid wants to dress up like a girl and do 'girl activities', and their parents support it and have talked to a counselor about it, who am I to disagree? To be perfectly honest, I'd prefer that there was just Scouts, without the gender distinction. That's how Campfire does it. And once they get old enough, girls can join the Explorers branch of Boy Scouts.

The fact that the Honorary President of Girl Scouts of America is Michelle Obama, and the Obama's are radically pro-abortion and vigorously support the agenda of Planned Parenthood, should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization.

Does this guy know what 'honorary' means? She's a figurehead, with no real influence over the organization. The First Lady has been the Honorary President since Lou Henry Hoover. They're not picked for their political leanings, but simply because they're the wife of the president. (I can only assume that the first female president will also be made the Honorary President of the GSUSA.)

Now that I am aware of the influence of Planned Parenthood within GSA and other surprisingly radical policies of GSA, my two daughters will instead become active in American Heritage Girls Little Flowers organization. In this traditional group they will learn about values and principles that will not confuse their conservative Hoosier upbringing.

Yeah, all that tolerance from the Girl Scouts sure is confusing.


If you have the time, I really do recommend reading the What We Stand For section from the Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana / Michiana. Here are excerpts of a few of my favorite sections.

GSNI-M remains dedicated to our values of creating an accepting environment where girls build leadership skills necessary for success, supported by our committed staff and dedicated volunteers. We believe that Girl Scouting is the place to develop moral values, strong ethics, and a social conscience which will serve girls throughout their lives.
That said, if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana - Michiana is an organization that can server her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.
Yes. Girl Scouting suuports girls from all backgrounds and beliefs. While we are a secular organization that refrains from teaching religious or spiritual beliefs or practices, we believe that the motivating force in Girl Scouting is a spiritual one, and we greatly value our longstanding partnerships with religious organizations across many faiths that share the values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law.

Their response exemplified the values of scouting, without being craven and caving to pressure from extremists. After reading it all, it made me proud to be involved in the Girl Scouts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rick Santorum

Rick SantorumSomehow, Rick Santorum is leading in the polls over Romney. Now, I'm not a huge fan of any of the current GOP candidates, but really Republican voters? Rick Santorum?

Evolution

I first noticed Santorum back in 2005, when he made some comments during an NPR interview in which he promoted Intelligent Design and criticized evolution. I mentioned it briefly in a blog entry where I ranted in general about religious fundamentalism. I couldn't find the full quote then, but I managed to find it now. Here's what Santorum actually said.

It has huge consequences for society and it's where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply, you know, the result of chance. If we're the result of chance, if we're simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn't put a moral demand on us that if, in fact, we are a creation of a being that has moral demands.

In that old blog entry, I explained why Santorum's statement was so bad. Basically, it's just an argument from consequences, and ignores all the evidence that evolution did actually happen.

Just because that statement was when I first heard of Santorum, it doesn't mean he wasn't active trying to corrupt science education before. In 2001, he proposed an amendment to the education funding bill (now known as No Child Left Behind), which promoted teaching Intelligent Design while questioning evolution. So we know that his anti-science stance on evolution would have repurcussions in how he would apply the law, or laws he would approve or veto.

To be fair, Santorum has backed off on his support for teaching Intelligent Design. In fact, in that same 2005 interview, he explicitly said that he didn't think ID should be taught in the classroom. But I question his motives. He still doesn't seem to accept evolution. Here's more of what he said in that interview.

I think I would probably tailor that a little more than what the president has suggested, that I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom. What we should be teaching are the problems and holes and I think there are legitimate problems and holes in the theory of evolution.

Anyone who's familiar with creationists recognizes this as one of their standard arguments. I've covered it before in an entry titled, Strengths and Limitations. While there's no problem with honestly addressing strengths and weaknesses of any scientific theory, in practice, creationists want to bring up all types of nonsense and discredited ideas specifically against evolutionary biology and any other science that goes against their interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis.

Just recently, Santorum was interviewed by Chris Mathews (I apologize for using Huffington Post as my source). Mathews asked explicitly whether or not Santorm believed in evolution, and Santorum replied (edited somewhat to remove stammers):

I believe that we are created by a living loving god, and if there's some amount of evolution with respect to certain species in a micro sense - yes. For evolution to explain the creation of the human species from nothing to human beings, absolutely not I don't believe in that.

This 'micro' wording is another one of those terms instantly recognizable as creationist in origin. Anyone who's studied evolution at all, and who has even a modicum of integrity, has to admit that evolution happens. It's been observed in bacterial resistance to antibiotics, beak size changing in populations of finches on the Galapagos, cane toads evolving longer legs and causing changes in their predators, etc. So, creationists accept those changes as 'micro' evolution, but then deny that evolution could go on to produce bigger changes, like fish adapting into land dwelling tetrapods, or hoofed animals evolving into whales. But it's all a bit silly. Where's the stop sign in the genome that prevents all those small changes from accumulating?

Global Climate Change

Okay, that's plenty on evolution. Let's look at another science issue - global warming. In 2008, Santorum wrote an editorial for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here are a couple excerpts from that, showing typical denialist arguments.

Could it be that Americans know that over time the Earth goes through natural cooling and heating cycles?

Could it be that they recognize that most of the doomsday scenarios are not scientifically supported and that even the "consensus" projections are just that - projections based upon highly interactive questionable assumptions over long periods of time?

Or could it be they suspect that no one really knows the role that man-made carbon dioxide plays in the larger scheme of climate change?

Or maybe Americans are coming to understand that global temperatures have actually cooled over the last 10 years and are predicted to continue cooling over the next 10.

It's one thing to argue over the best approaches to address global warming. But to doubt the fact that our world is warming, and to make claims that are just plain wrong, is ludicrous.

Contraception

When you move past objective science and into subjective social issues, Santorum's views are even worse. According to Esquire magazine, he had the following to say on contraception.

One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.

Talk about an invasion of privacy. And it's not just the fact that it is an invasion of privacy. It's wrong. People are going to have sex. History has proven this out. And not just in a procreative sense when they're married, but all throughout their lives. Contraceptives and condoms are a way to ensure that women don't become pregnant before they (or their partners) are ready, and help to limit the transmission of many diseases. Who in their right mind would want to go back to the Dark Ages on this?

Gay Rights & Marriage Equality

Santorum's views on homosexuality are well known. Even his name, Santorum, has become a bit of a joke in response to those views (warning - don't click on that link if you're too prudish). It's worth pointing out just how bad he is. Santorum has signed a pledge put out by the The Family Leader, a conservative, Iowa-based Christian group. Among other things, the pledge calls for candidates to defend DOMA, and support a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman (it also mentions, in a weird way of bringing up sexual assault, that women shouldn't be allowed on the front lines in the military).

Santorum had an AP interview in 2003 where he made some really bigoted remarks. Here's the Wikipedia summary.

Santorum described the ability to regulate consensual homosexual acts as comparable to the states' ability to regulate other consensual and non-consensual sexual behavior, such as adultery, polygamy, child molestation, incest, and bestiality, whose decriminalization he believed would threaten society and the family, as they are not monogamous and heterosexual.

Religion

In a speech from 2008, Santorum claimed that Satan was attacking America, and that he had infiltrated and made fall many institutions. That's the type of outlandish claim you expect to hear from someone like Pat Robertson or Glen Beck, not a serious presidential candidate.

Here's on excerpt from that speech, showing his distrut of academia and intellectuals.

The place where he [Satan] was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they're smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell.

Santorum himself is a Catholic, and he doesn't appear to trust Protestants very much. Here's another excerpt from that same speech.

...and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the Church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they're pious to use both vanity and pride to also go after the Church.

And if you don't follow any religion or want to keep religion out of politics, Santorum really doesn't like you. Here's his revisionist history take on that.

They are taking faith and crushing it. Why? Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what's left is the French Revolution. What's left is the government that gives you right, what's left are no unalienable rights, what's left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you'll do and when you'll do it. What's left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we're a long way from that, but if we do and follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road.

Conclusion

The more and more I read about this man, the more I wonder how he could have so much support, and how he could have ever gotten elected to any office in the first place. He's anti-science, anti-intellectual, bigoted, a bit nutty on religion, wants to interfere in everyone's sex lives, and has plenty of other faults I didn't list. Who in their right mind would vote for this man?

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Political Litmus Test Update

Litmus PaperA little while back, I wrote an entry titled 2012 Political Litmus Test. I looked at the candidates positions on climate change and evolution, since those are both well supported by the evidence, and well enough known that everyone should have been exposed to that evidence, so there's no good rational reason to doubt them. Well, I wrote that entry early on in the campaigning. And if there's one thing politicians are known for, it's pandering. Since there are really only two candidates left in the running, I'll just look at their current positions, and ignore the rest of the field.

Mitt Romney has backpedaled on his acceptance of global warming. Here's what Romney had to say this past October.

My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.

Source - Think Progress

As far as I know, he still accepts evolution.

Newt Gingrich has also backed away from supporting climate change. In a town hall meeting in Iowa, he said that global warming "hasn't been totally proven", and that even if it had been, he'd no longer support a cap and trade strategy to address it.

Source - Mediaite

There's also the matter of his upcoming book, where he has decided to cut a chapter on global warming.

Source - The Guardian

Gingrich has recently made some disparaging remarks about evolution. In the quote below, I included just a bit more, to highlight his contempt for the separation of church and state.

The idea that taking school prayer out in 1963 made the country better? I don't see any evidence that children who don't spend a moment recognizing that they're subservient to God... [I think the video was edited here -JRL] I'll let you approach God in any way you want to. There's an enormous difference between a culture which believes it is purely secular, and a culture which believes that it is somehow empowered by our Creator. I always tell my friends who don’t believe in this stuff, fine, how do you think — we’re randomly gathered protoplasm? We could have been rhinoceroses, but we got lucky this week?

Source 1 - YouTube
Source 2 - Think Progress

Actually, that part about approaching God any way I want to really pisses me off. What about those of us that don't believe in any gods? Are we non-existent? Or just not worthy of any consideration?


So, going back to the point of that original Political Litmus Test blog entry, I no longer see any Republican candidates worthy of consideration. Someone living in a fantasy land, or someone willing to lie on something so obviously true, is not someone I want running the executive branch of the federal government.

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