Archive for March 1st, 2012
9 Santorum Speeches That Make Me Want to Throw Up Adele M. Stan
The thought of living under a neo-theocracy makes me kind of queasy.
The topic was a speech that Rick Santorum, really, really didn’t like — the speech John F. Kennedy gave during the 1960 presidential campaign, in which Kennedy declared his belief in an “absolute” wall of separation between church and state.
“That makes me throw up,” Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania told George Stephanopolous on the ABC News program, “This Week.”
That got me to thinking about speeches that might make me throw up, and, funny thing, an awful lot of them were delivered by Rick Santorum. I mean, this guy is the oratorical equivalent of a bottle of ipecac.
The thought of living under a neo-theocracy makes me kind of queasy, and Santorum’s lectures often render judgment on the theology of others, not to mention the supremacy of his own, which he seems keen to throw, like a wet blanket, over the writhing body politic — a worldview that Santorum would seek institutionalize in policy and law.
Then there’s the anti-intellectualism, and the demonization of educators as “indoctrinators” — not to mention his customary celebration of ignorance. Santorum’s plan for reviving American manufacturing seems to rest on making it more difficult for people to go to college, forcing them onto his 19th-century idea of what a factory floor looks like. Ew, that’s a nasty taste in my mouth.
Another thing that gives me a case of agita: demeaning the memory of the Holocaust and its victims, as Santorum does when he uses what he calls “World War II metaphor[s]” to compare President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, or Democratic procedural moves in the Senate to the Nazi invasion of France.
And racism — damn, that stuff just gives me a major fit of chalushes, as in when the very pious senator repeatedly characterizes food-stamp recipients as black or members of “minority communities.”
This list of nauseating pronouncements by the current frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination consists of remarks derived only from speeches (hence, none of his trademark anti-gay comments). There are many more invitations to cookie-tossing in the senator’s numerous television appearances and written statements.
These speech excerpts are presented in no particular order, and this is, by no means, a comprehensive list. But with such an embarrassment of vomitorious riches, one has to stop somewhere.
1. Hailing the Crusades; Spartansburg, S.C. (Feb. 22, 2011). While yet undecided on whether he had heard the call to run for the presidency, Santorum traveled to South Carolina to deliver a speech to the students of Oakbrook Preparatory School, a private Christian academy. There he educated the young men in attendance on the virtues of the Roman Catholic Church’s crusades against the Muslims of the Holy Land. From GoUpstate, a South Carolina Web site:
“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” Santorum said. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom. They hate Christendom. They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”
But Santorum, 52, disagreed with the “Christian Soldier” assessment.
“I don’t see it that way at all,” he said. “What I’m talking about is onward American soldiers. What we’re talking about are core American values. ‘All men are created equal’ — that’s a Christian value, but it’s an American value. It’s become part of our national religion, if you will. The point I was trying to make was that the national faith, the national ideal, is rooted in the Christian ideal — in the Judeo-Christian concept of the person.”
During the same campaign trip, Santorum lashed out at African American women during a visit to a right-wing “crisis pregnancy center.” As reported by GoUpstate:
He talked in part about what he said was the high rate of abortion among black women: “The most dangerous place for an African-American in this country is in the womb.” He likened abortion to slavery, saying that Roe v. Wade treated unborn children as property, without rights — just as black people had been defined years before under slavery.
2. Black People Take Your Money; Sioux City, Iowa (Jan. 1, 2012). At a campaign stop two days before the Iowa caucuses, Santorum stood before a nearly all-white crowd, telling them:
I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money, and provide for themselves and their families. And the best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling again.
3. Education = Snobbery, Food Stamps = ‘Minorities’; Troy, Mich. (Feb. 25, 2012). Addressing a crowd of activists for Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-allied organization founded by David Koch, Santorum derided the notion of making college available to all by calling Obama “a snob” — a remark that drew cheers from the audience. College, after all, was basically a left-wing plot, Santorum seemed to say. (Earlier in the weekend, Koch, in a radio interview, suggested that Santorum was too “nuts” to be the GOP nominee because of the candidate’s statements decrying birth control as “harmful to women.”)
In the same speech, the former senator reprised his suggestion that recipients of food stamps and other safety-net aid are non-whites. CBS News has the video; the following transcript is mine:
…and I know what it means to have those manufacturing jobs at that entry level that get you in there. It gives you the opportunity to accumulate more skills over time and rise, so you can provide a better standard of living for your family. Those opportunities for working men and women. Not all folks are gifted in the same way. Some folks have incredible gifts with their hands. Some people have incredible gifts [unintelligible ] use it and want to work out there making things.
President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob! There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to tests that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor to try to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college: to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so that people can remake their children into their image, not his.
Then this, from the CBS News report:
Santorum said he planned to “talk to minority communities, not about giving them food stamps and government dependency, but about creating jobs that they can participate in and rise in society.”
You can view the whole speech here, but you may want to have a pail at the ready.
4. The Would-Be Theologian-in-Chief; Columbus, Ohio (Feb. 18, 2012). Talking to supporters at a rally in Ohio, Santorum suggested that the whole of the Obama agenda is based on “a phony theology.” As reported in the New York Times:
“It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology,” he said. “But no less a theology.”
In later comments to reporters, Mr. Santorum said while there are “a lot of different stripes” of Christianity, he believes that “if the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”
“I’m just saying he’s imposing his values on the church, and I think that’s wrong,” he said, adding that he did not believe Mr. Obama was less of a Christian for doing so.
On CBS News’ “Face the Nation” the next day, Santorum said he was talking specifically about the president’s environmental policy and, no, he didn’t mean to suggest that Obama is a Muslim or anything like that. (Actually, he was suggesting that the president is an earth-worshipping pagan whose earth-worship is a path to growing the size of government.) Transcript from ThinkProgress:
When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth; by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate — this is all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government.
5. Bomb Iran Because its Shi’ite Theology Is Scary; Salem, N.H. (Jan. 10, 2012). Speaking to New Hampshire primary voters gathered at an Elks Lodge, Santorum suggested that the reason Iran deserves to be bombed is that its nuclear program is based on some mighty scary Shi’ite end-times theology (that sounds suspiciously like pre-millennialist evangelical Christian end-times theology). From my own report:
They’ve located the facility in a little town called Qom [which he pronounced Kwome]. Qom happens to be a rather significant city in Iran. It’s outside of Tehran, and their savior, if you will, from the Shi’a, the Shi’ite — that’s, the ruling class, the ruling government of Iran is Shi’ite, which is a minority among the Muslim world, but is a majority in Iran and in Iraq. But the Shi’ites have one of their holiest sites — in the Shi’a religion, not as Muslims generally, but as Shi’ites — is in Qom, because there’s a well there called the Jamkaran well — which is a well where their, they call it the the Mahdi — the equivalent of, in some respects, of a Jesus figure — who is gonna come back at the end of times and lead Shi’a Islam in the ruling of the world in peace and justice. That’s what their end-of-times scenario is. Well, he comes back at a time of great chaos. And so there are many who speculate that there are folks over in Iran who wouldn’t mind creating a time of great chaos, for religious reasons. And the fact that they built this nuclear program in this city, next to where this man is supposed to return, leads one to think that there may be more to it, since they could pick any other place in the state, in the country, to do so — that there may be other reasons than to develop domestic nuclear power.
6. Satan Is Taking Over the U.S.; Naples, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2008). Santorum knows what’s wrong with America: Satan has taken possession of our once-great nation by inhabiting the bodies of liberals. That’s the essence of the message he delivered at Ave Maria University more than three years ago, a message in which he says that the “father of lies” has run rampant in the academy and even through the mainline Protestant denominations (which are largely run by Christians with a progressive point of view). Right-Wing Watch dug up this speech, which despite its incendiary rhetoric, failed to merit a single question at the most recent debate, which was hosted by CNN. The video is here; part of RWW’s transcript appears below:
This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country — the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.
He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.
He was successful. He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions. The place where he 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.
We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic, sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, 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.
…now I know you’re going to challenge me on this one, but politics and government was the next to fall.
7. Wasting Energy Makes a Nation Great; Washington, D.C. (Feb. 10, 2012). There was much in Santorum’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference speech, delivered while surrounded by his wife and six of his seven children, to give one the bends: the standard smear of Obama as an enemy of religion (because of his administration’s mandate that even women who work for businesses affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church should enjoy the same access to birth control as those who don’t), and the derision of climate change science, which Santorum contends is a lie. But the kicker wasn’t even his assertion that government attempts to make the nation more energy-efficient are a conspiracy for greater control over the lives of individuals; it was his contention that the more energy the nation wastes, the greater it will be:
One of the favorite tricks of the left is to use your sentimentality, is to use your proper understanding that we are stewards of this earth, and that we have a responsibility to hand off a beautiful earth to the next generation. And so they use that, and they’ve used it in the past to try to scare you into supporting radical ideas on the environment. They tried it with this idea, this politicization of science called manmade global warming.
You look at any country in the world…the higher the energy consumption, the higher their standard of living.
8. Democrats Are Just Like Nazi Invaders; Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2005). During the fight over President George W. Bush’s nomination of Priscilla Owen to the federal bench, Democrats sought to delay the nomination by using a filibuster. Owens was known to have taken campaign cash from Enron executives, and Democrats fought her nomination because they alleged she was ethically unsuitable. Santorum, then the junior senator from Pennsylvania, stepped out on the senate floor to declare his opponents the moral equivalent of the Nazi army. ThinkProgress has the video; transcript from The Raw Story:
Some are suggesting we’re trying to change the law, we’re trying to break the rules. Remarkable. Remarkable hubris. I mean, imagine, the rule has been in place for 214 years that this is the way we confirm judges. Broken by the other side two years ago, and the audacity of some members to stand up and say, “How dare you break this rule?” It’s the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942: “I’m here in Paris. How dare you invade me? How dare you bomb my city? It’s mine.” This is no more the rule of the Senate than it was the rule of the Senate before not to filibuster. It was an understanding and agreement, and it has been abused…”
9. Not Really Comparing Obama to Hitler While Comparing Obama to Hitler; Cumming, Ga. (Feb. 19, 2012). Visiting one of the most conservative states on the March 6 Super Tuesday roster of primaries, Santorum turned to Hitler again, this time as a “metaphor” for the allegedly misplaced trust the American people have placed in Obama. Transcript via The Raw Story. CBS News has the video:
“Why? Because we’re a hopeful people. We think, ‘You know it will get better. Yeah, I mean, he’s a nice guy. It won’t be near as bad as what we think. You know, this will be OK. You know, maybe he’s not the best guy.’ After a while, you found out some things about this guy over in Europe and maybe he’s not so good of a guy after all. But you know what? ‘Why do we need to be involved? We’ll just take care of our own problems, just get our families off to work and our kids off to school and we’ll be okay.’”
Santorum later denied he was comparing Obama to Hitler, but it’s hard to come away with any other conclusion. Pass the Pepto, please.
© 2012, agentleman.
Lies to Congress, Domestic Spying, Torture: Why the Bush White House Must Be Prosecuted
A new book by Elizabeth Holtzman, former Democratic congresswomen, makes the case that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be prosecuted for breaking federal laws.
Elizabeth Holtzman is a former Democratic congresswomen, lawyer, prosecutor and author. Her new book, co-written with Cynthia Cooper, is Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution—and What We Can Do About It. She talked to AlterNet about the book and about holding the Bush administration accountable. (Listen to the audio version.)
Steven Rosenfeld: Let’s begin by reminding everyone what George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are likely guilty of—and what you would like to see a federal court determine.
Elizabeth Holtzman: My co-author Cynthia Cooper and I took a very long and hard look at what possible federal criminal statutes could be involved in President Bush and Vice-President Cheney’s misconduct during their administration. Their misconduct fell into three main areas: One, deceptions of Congress in connection with taking the country into the Iraq war, which now the figures suggest cost us $3 trillion aside from lives and injuries to American service people.
The second area of possible illegality is the possible violation of the wiretapping laws, which is a federal crime and a felony.
And the third area is the mistreatment of detainees, which can also be a federal crime under the anti-torture statute and it could be under the War Crimes Act, certainly as it was first written.
So we took a long and hard look at these statutes to see, first of all, do they appear to cover the actions that we know about from the press, from pubic documents, from congressional reports, and from federal documents themselves. Then we took out all the material that had nothing to do with President Bush’s own personal knowledge and Vice-President Cheney’s own personal knowledge. We did not want to charge them with actions of their subordinates. We wanted to make sure that they were knowing actors. Then we took a very hard look at the statutes and we believe that on the face of it, there’s three statutes that are implicated here in terms of possibilities for prosecution.
One is the conspiracy to defraud Congress, which is a violation of section 371 of the U.S. statutes. Then you have the wiretapping, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is a federal crime, and third, you have the violations of the anti-torture act. Not only did we take a look at what crimes could cover these misdeeds, but we took a look at possible defenses, such as could they claim that there is a statute of limitations. Or could they rely on their lawyers’ advice—you know, “My lawyer told me that I could torture, so I could torture,” that kind of thing.
We went through potential defenses and pretty much said that they didn’t apply, and so we do believe there is what we lawyers call a prima facie case, a case on the surface, for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate whether the president and his top aides violated federal statutes—not state statutes, not international law—but U.S. federal criminal statutes, and we think it is critical for any numbers of reasons to do that.
SR: Who would prosecute?
EH: The Justice Department could do it itself, but I tend to believe that the Justice Department, at least if a Democrat engaged in this, or a Democratic [administration] Justice Department, would be accused of politics. So I think it has to be somebody who is above reproach, somebody who is viewed as a totally professional prosecutor, I mean somebody like Patrick Fitzgerald, whom the public could have confidence in.
I was a prosecutor. I was district attorney of Brooklyn, New York. I know as a former prosecutor that just because it looks like somebody has violated the statute, you can’t make a decision until you take a very hard look at the evidence to whether there really was a crime committed. Is there enough evidence to warrant a prosecution? And what are the countervailing arguments in terms of potential defenses? And so that activity has to be done by a professional prosecutor, somebody that the country could have confidence in. And they did, for example, the special prosecutor in Watergate, the special prosecutor in Iran-Contra; so I think that’s what has to be done and at that point the criminal justice system will proceed. Maybe the prosecutor will say there is insufficient evidence, or maybe the prosecutor will say there is sufficient evidence.
To say that we are not going to enforce our criminal laws when it looks like you have a case on the surface of it is a very bad idea and sets a terrible precedent, because what makes America survive is our Constitution and the rule of law. And the minute you exempt any category of people from having to obey the laws you undermine democracy, and you breed public cynicism. We don’t have to look much farther than what recently happened. The American people are furious and angry and upset that people who are running the banks have not been subjected to any serious criminal investigations even though millions of people have lost their homes to foreclosures and fraud and so forth, and the economy is in shambles.
Now President Obama just responded to that by appointing a new unit in the Department of Justice to take a look at this. And I think that it’s because when people feel that the powerful, the high and the mighty get a break, it begins to erode our faith in democracy and our faith in justice. So we can’t exempt presidents of the United States from obeying the law. Because once we do that, whether it is with President Bush or with a Democrat or whoever it is, then we are down the road to tyranny.
SR: You were on the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment hearings. What has happened to respect for the rule of law since then?
EH: Well, that’s a very important question. During the impeachment hearings on President Nixon, and the other proceedings that took place, both in the grand jury, in terms of prosecution of Nixon’s top aids, and indeed naming of President Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator, as well as the work of the Senate committee, established, I thought, a very clear precedent. That there has to be accountability; that no one is above the law. And that was a precedent, by the way, that the country completely embraced.
You have to remember—many people weren’t alive then who are living now—that President Nixon, a Republican, was elected in one of the biggest landslides in the history of the United States in 1972. About a year later most of the American people were demanding that Congress system take action because it looked as though the president had violated the law. And Congress did. And the American people, most of whom had voted for Nixon, said “Hey, wait a minute—even though we voted for him, [what’s] more important than any president and more important than any party, is our Constitution which has preserved our freedoms and our democracy and the rule of law.” And that’s what Americans agreed upon then.
But what’s happened since? Are we playing politics with our Constitution? With the very idea of justice for all—liberty and justice for all—those are very basic words in America. But we are not going to get justice for all if we take a big eraser and say, “Hmm, we erase the criminal laws when it comes to president of the United States and his top aides. They are above the law.” That’s what President Nixon said. He said, “It can’t be illegal if I do it. I am the president.” Well, we can’t adopt that philosophy.
SR: Why do you think more people don’t want to pursue this now? What’s the resistance?
Holtzman: I am not sure that people don’t want to pursue it. I don’t think the American people know that a case can be made. I don’t think there has been a lot of publicity about the fact that criminal laws may have been violated—or stronger than may have been violated, that criminal laws appear to have been violated. And therefore, they are not saying, “Therefore we need to have a special prosecutor.”
Once the American people understand that there is what we call a prima facia case, that the laws appear to be violated, I can’t imagine that most Americans would say, “Well, let’s give any president a break. Whatever the president wants to do with obeying or disobeying the criminal laws, that’s up to him or her—we allow our presidents to do whatever they want.” That’s what you have in a military dictatorship. That’s not what you have in America.
Neither the heads of banks nor the president of the United States, or anyone who is high and mighty, and neither anyone who is poor and low, should be exempt from the criminal law. We talk about personal accountability and personal responsibility, and that’s something that we have to uphold, because if we start down that road it is a very dangerous road.
So I can’t tell you how the American people feel, but some of the pundits all supported these activities, they may not want to feel as though someone could be prosecuted for them, because I’m not sure that some of them thought there was anything wrong—they said it was great to torture people; we are all for waterboarding. Well, they are endorsing criminal behavior. I don’t think they want to be put in that position. So, I think it is natural that some of the pundits and some of the press and some of the media people who supported waterboarding don’t want to have it exposed as a crime.
SR: What’s the constitutional risk or peril to not pursuing this now?
EH: If we say that it looks like President Bush has violated criminal laws and we don’t appoint a special prosecutor, then the next president, maybe President Obama, maybe somebody down the road, maybe somebody after him, maybe 10, 20 years from now, may say, “Well, the law says I can’t arrest American citizens on my own say so. Well, President Bush started a war lying to Congress. He violated the law on wiretapping. He tortured whoever whom he wanted to. So why can’t I arrest American citizens on my own say so?” And that’s the problem.
I was a prosecutor. You enforce the criminal laws for two basic reasons. One is to punish people who commit crimes, because society says this conduct is unacceptable; but it also to send a message to would-be criminals in the future. You can’t do it and get away with it. And that’s what’s at stake here. By refusing to investigate, by refusing to hold people accountable, you trivialize the conduct. You say that it is unimportant and insignificant that a president of the United States ignores the criminal law.
So that’s a terrible message about the conduct, and a terrible message about the future, because it is just an incitement and an encouragement to other presidents to say, “I’m above the law. I’m the president. I don’t have to obey it.” And that’s why the American Revolution was fought, to say to King George that we don’t want a monarchy in the United States. We want the rule of law. We want a president who is accountable to the rule of law. We could have had a king. Why did we fight the American Revolution? We’re not going back there.
SR: What will readers find in the book?
EH: What readers will find in the book is a very careful and I hope, readable, analysis of what these criminal laws are. It lays it out very clearly. What are the possible that have been broken by the Bush administration and what we can do about it.
It’s a very short book, but it makes you very informed. And then armed with this book, armed with the facts, people can go to their representatives, congresspeople and senators and say “Just as we don’t want to exempt the high and mighty banks, we don’t want to exempt the high and mighty presidents of the United States. We have a rule of law. We have a democracy. And we are not going to accept the idea that the president is a monarch and can do whatever he wants.”
© 2012, agentleman.