Santorum Versus Free Speech, Again

Mar 272012

Rick Santorum wants to ban hard-core pornography:

Rick Santorum wants to put an end to the distribution of pornography in the United States.

“America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography,” Santorum’s official website reads. “Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.” The former Pennsylvania senator states that, “as a parent, I am concerned about the widespread distribution of illegal obscene pornography and its profound effects on our culture.”

Santorum criticized the Obama administration for turning “a blind eye … to the scourge of pornography” and for refusing to enforce obscenity laws. “If elected President, I will appoint an Attorney General who will do so,” Santorum writes. “While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families, that will change under a Santorum Administration.”

In fact, America is suffering a pandemic of harm from meddling statist politicians, particularly of the theocratic variety, such as … Rick Santorum!

Oh, and if that’s not alarming enough, see for yourself how preacher Chris Terry introduces Rick Santorum:

For more, see Pastor Dennis Terry Introduces Rick Santorum, Tells Liberals and Non-Christians to ‘Get Out’ of America.

Vince Carroll on SuperPACs

Feb 132012

Vince Carroll recently published an excellent column in the Denver Post in defense of free speech in elections… against the current hue and cry against SuperPACs. Here’s a taste:

The primary examples of a Super PAC’s handiwork that The Times bothered to mention in its “septic tanks” editorial were ads in Iowa by supporters of Mitt Romney “attacking Mr. Gingrich for his government lobbying and ethics violations.” It’s fine, you see, for The Times — a very big corporation indeed — to point out Newt Gingrich’s “government lobbying and ethics violations” during the peak of a campaign, but let a few private individuals pool their money to make the same case in a negative ad and that is an intolerable state of affairs.

Go read the whole thing.

Candidates: Hire A Campaign Finance Director First

Feb 102012

The Campaign Doctor newsletter offers marketing tip for campaigns. I subscribe because their advice is often useful for thinking about how to best promote political ideas. A recent issue offered some disturbingly useful advice: a candidate should hire a campaign finance manager first, before anyone else. Yes, that’s just how onerous our campaign finance laws are.

How to determine who and what to hire for your campaign
By Chris Ingram

Most campaigns have limited resources. In today’s trying economy, scarce dollars requires even more prioritizing of expenditures than ever before.

Many candidates start their campaign with the idea that they will hire a pollster, a press secretary, a campaign manager, and so on – until they realize those guys (and gals) cost money. In most areas, anyone running for county commission, town council, school board, or the like ends up being their own manager, press secretary – I’ve even seen a few try to be their own pollster!

My advice to candidates is always this: the first person any campaign should hire is not a strategist, manager, or pollster – it’s a good accountant who will file their campaign finance reports. I also advise them not to rely on a friends or relatives who are accountants who will do it for free.

Allow your accountant friend or family member to serve as your campaign treasurer who signs the reports if you want, but you should pay a professional to do the grunt work and keep you out of trouble. And since you’re a paying client, they will return your phone calls, which free labor doesn’t always do.

The person in this role could be called lots of things, but I would call them your campaign finance compliance officer. Ideally they have familiarity with campaign finance law as well as accounting. This person is the most invaluable person on your campaign team and worth every penny. Filing bad campaign finance reports can be embarrassing, costly, distracting, and can result in civil fines and even criminal prosecution.

So when it comes to tracking donations, expenditures, campaign finance law, and disclosure reports, don’t skimp, pay up and hire a good campaign finance compliance officer.

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online.

Thanks to campaign finance laws, a candidate dare not move without a hired accountant to track and report contributions. That’s the predictable effect of demanding “transparency” (read: onerous reports) and “accountability” (read: hefty fines) in elections.

(If you want to sign up for the newsletter, you can do so here.)

Feb 022012

A few weeks ago, an unknown Ron Paul’s supporter (or supporters) created a stir with a video attacking John Huntsman. Reuters reports:

Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman and members of his family expressed outrage on Friday at an advertisement targeted at his adopted daughters by a group supporting rival Ron Paul.

An online ad authored by “NHLiberty4Paul” shows footage of Huntsman with daughters Gracie, who was adopted from China, and Asha, adopted from India, when they were infants.

“American values. Or Chinese,” the ad asks to a soundtrack of Chinese music. It calls Huntsman “the Manchurian Candidate” and ends with an image of Huntsman dressed as China’s former communist leader Mao Zedong, and the words “Vote Ron Paul.”

Here’s the video, and I definitely recommend watching it:

So what is Ron Paul’s response?

Paul, a Texas congressman, disavowed the ad during an interview on Friday on CNN, but said he could not control the actions of all his supporters.

“I couldn’t even hear it, haven’t looked at it, but people do that, and they do it in all campaigns,” Paul said.

(Update: Apparently, Ron Paul’s campaign did attempt to sue to discover the author of the video, but they were rebuffed by the courts.)

Unfortunately, Ron Paul has a long history of tolerating these and other varieties of racist, homophobic, and otherwise disreputable supporters. He distances himself in tepid terms, and refuses to condemn them in anything remotely like the strong language that they deserve. That’s why he’s got problem after problem with downright frightening supporters.

Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign had such problems in spades, particularly for refusing reject donations from neo-Nazis. In this 2010 campaign, Ron Paul’s campaign welcomed the endorsement of a Christian dominionist pastor in Iowa who — consistent with his overall theology — advocates the death penalty (!!!) for homosexuality. (Please go read the whole story, because it’s quite remarkable.) The announcement on Ron Paul’s web site welcoming this fothermucker’s endorsement was deleted, but as far as I can tell, Ron Paul never repudiated the endorsement.

Moreover, Ron Paul has never adequately explained or repudiated the viciously racist and homophobic comments in his newsletters.

How should the lunatic fringe be handled in a campaign? Consider the reaction of Bob Barr’s campaign to a racist endorsement when he ran for president in 2008 on the Libertarian Party ticket:

The Barr campaign is not going to be a vehicle for every fringe and hate group to promote itself. We do not want and will not accept the support of haters. Anyone with love in their heart for our country and for every resident of our country regardless of race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation is welcome with open arms.

Tell the haters I said don’t let the door hit you on the backside on your way out!

I’m not a fan of Bob Barr, but *pow* *pow* *pow* — that’s how it’s done!

Instead of doing that — or anything like it — Ron Paul tolerates dangerous idiots, only setting them at arm’s length when exposed by the media. This pattern of actions reveals something amiss with Ron Paul’s character and judgment, I fear. He’s not a racist, I don’t think: he’s said and done too much too clearly against that. So is he just willing to tolerate and pander to dangerous nonsense in the hope of a few more votes? I don’t think that explains the pattern, not when he sticks to his guns on economics.

I suspect that a major cause of these problems is that he’s got a serious but mostly hidden penchant for conspiracy theories. This fascinating NY Times article explores that in some detail. For example:

In a 1990 C-Span appearance, taped between Congressional stints, Paul was asked by a caller to comment on the “treasonous, Marxist, alcoholic dictators that pull the strings in our country.” Rather than roll his eyes, Paul responded, “there’s pretty good evidence that those who are involved in the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations usually end up in positions of power. And I believe this is true.”

Paul then went on to stress the negligible differences between various “Rockefeller Trilateralists.” The notion that these three specific groups — the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefeller family — run the world has been at the center of far-right conspiracy theorizing for a long time, promoted especially by the extremist John Birch Society, whose 50th anniversary gala dinner Paul keynoted in 2008.

Wow, just wow. By all means, go watch the video for yourself. He just smooth talks right in and out of the conspiracies.

Judged by the standards of a rational epistemology, conspiracy-theorism is nearly at the bottom of the barrel. The mind of the conspiracy theorist is in complete disarray, utterly unable to evaluate evidence or stick to facts. It’s engaging in a constant process of invention, and then confusing those inventions with facts.

For that to be the basic psycho-epistemology of the US President… well, that would be frightening.

Rick Santorum on Pregnant Rape Victims

Jan 312012

Rick Santorum says that pregnant rape victims should “accept the gift of human life” and “make the best out of a bad situation.” And yes, that’s what every advocate of “personhood for zygotes” must say.

As Ari and I said in The Assault on Abortion Rights Undermines All Our Liberties:

In [a] 2004 survey, around 1.5 percent of women who got an abortion cited rape or incest as the cause of the pregnancy. Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted fetus to term when the pregnancy was caused by a sexual assault victimizes her yet again. Even if she gives up the child for adoption, she must live with the ever-present physical reminder of her assault for the duration of her pregnancy. Moreover, the woman might feel a torturous conflict over the born child: she might desperately want to raise her own child, but abhor the thought of raising the child of her rapist.

That last point, I think, is particularly important.

Jan 242012

In this video, Rick Santorum answers a question on SOPA. He doesn’t express an opinion about the bill, but he does explain his view that he regards all rights as limited and subject to regulation, including free speech rights:

Here are some highlights, but I recommend listening to the whole video:

My general feeling is that we have a free market and a free market should work. But like any freedom, there has to be regulation. We’re not unlimited in any right, even rights that we have within our Constitution: they’re not unlimited rights. There is, and can be, limitations on that. Freedom of speech, there are things that you can’t say: you can’t cry “fire” in a crowded theater. There are limitations to all freedom: there are no absolute rights. There are rights that have responsibilities that come with them. If you abuse those rights — piracy — if you abuse those rights, then you have a consequence of abusing that right. …

I would make the case that … there are limits to freedom on the internet. The internet is a powerful source for good. And, as we all know, it has been a powerful source for bad in this country. So the idea that we should just “hands-off” — and it’s a moral-free zone, it’s a regulation free-zone, and that people should be able to do whatever they want — I don’t know of any other zone in America where that’s the case. Why should the internet be different than everything else?

So I would say that responsible, well-[something], discussed regulation — if there is abuse, taking someone’s private property — if there is abuse, as there is in pornography and a lot of other areas where we are destroying the moral fabric of our country — to say, “well, it’s just tough, let people to whatever they want — let a 12 year old — let them do whatever they want.”

There are limitations that have to be put in place because your free speech rights can be incredibly harmful to someone else. Your desire to go a grab something that doesn’t belong to you can be very harmful to someone else. …

Rick Santorum views liberty as mere license to indulge in whims, including stealing from others. That’s an utterly corrupt conception of rights. A person does not have the right to violate the rights of others! Yet on Santorum’s view, protecting intellectual property from theft is on par with banning pornography to protect the moral fabric of society. They’re both a matter of limiting rights to prevent harm to others.

Oy vey.

Vermin Supreme for President!

Jan 122012

Presidential candidate Vermin Supreme is offering free ponies and zombie-powered turbines. I’m voting for him for president!

Ron Paul on Israel

Jan 042012

In this video, Ron Paul talks about Israel and Gaza:

Two things:

First, it’s appalling that he’d speak to the state-controlled Iranian television at all. By doing that, he sanctions a repressive dictatorship and avowed enemy of the United States.

Second, he’s not just saying that we shouldn’t be meddling in Israel’s problems but instead leave her to manage her own self-defense as she sees fit. He explicitly criticizes Israel on moral grounds, citing her as the aggressor in the conflict, and he sides with the Palestinian terrorists.

Oy vey.

Rick Santorum Versus Happiness

Jan 032012

Rick Santorum versus the right to the pursuit of happiness:

Newsflash, Mr. Theocracy!

Life does not consist of a burdensome slew of unpleasant responsibilities to other people, whereupon each person is required to immolate himself for the sake of the common good.

To pursue one’s own happiness does not mean snatching solitary moments of pleasure, but seeking deeply meaningful values and joys over the course of a whole lifetime. That requires the scrupulous use of reason and dedication to virtue.

Every person has just one life to live, and that life is his own. He ought to make he most of it, pursuing the values that he holds dear — not waste it away in submission to the demands of others.

The right to the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental right, and the Founders deserve every praise for recognizing it as such.

Whereas you… you deserve to be tarred and feathered and run out of town.

Yet, you are “surging from behind” in Iowa.

GOP, I hate you. And yes, I would vote for Obama over Rick Santorum.

Civility in the Election Season

Dec 272011

Alas, the 2012 election season already looks unpleasant and contentious… and we have ten more months to go. So… here’s my policy, which I hope that others will adopt too.

I’m happy to be friendly with people who support and advocate candidates that I regard as unworthy of my vote. Politics is extremely difficult, even if you’ve got all the proper principles in place. So I expect that I’ll differ in my judgments from many people that I like and respect. That’s okay. I hope that we can discuss our differences in a friendly way, and perhaps learn something as a result.

However, if you accuse me of dishonesty, call me names, or otherwise behave in an uncivilized fashion simply because I disagree with you, then I will be perfectly happy to never have anything to do with you again. I will un-friend you on Facebook, I will un-follow you on Twitter, and I will ban you from these blog comments — without hesitation. That crosses a line for me, and I’m just not going to tolerate it.

Unfortunately, this kind of ridiculous behavior seems to be the particular modus operandi of some (but not all) Ron Paul supporters. Honestly, even if he were an excellent candidate, without the baggage of those disgustingly racist and homophobic newsletters, the uncivilized belligerence of so many of his supporters would make him unelectable. Such people would do him a huge favor if they’d make some attempt at civilized discourse, rather than launching into personal attacks.

So when you feel that rush of burning anger in an online political discussion with friends and allies, please step back from the keyboard for a few minutes to focus on the broader context. I’ll try to do the same — and if I don’t, please remind me (in a friendly way) to remain friendly. Just those few seconds could do all of us a world of good!

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