Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “rick santorum”

Birth Control? Really? – Tom Rossi

As we approach another presidential election, I expect the usual re-animation of the battle between the pro-choice and pro-birth sides. This is pretty much business as usual, because it’s the single best way that Republican politicians have to convince people to vote against themselves and their own best interests.

I think the abortion issue pretty well splits the country, if not exactly in two. People who see this issue one way or the other seldom change their minds and we sit, locked into yet another eternal battle that will never be resolved, while the rest of the civilized world moves forward.

But just when you were getting bored with the pro-life, pro-birth battle, along comes something so surprising, so weird, so completely out of left field that your head spins around. A debate over… contraception.

Wow.

Part of the Republican Party (fortunately, it’s a small part, I think) is so incredibly out there on the religious right that they oppose birth control in any form. Unfortunately, this faction seems to be all that counts in choosing a candidate to represent their party in the November election.

This right wing of the right wing still wants people to simply abstain from sex if they don’t intend to have a child. These are the same people, I assume, that hold onto the belief that the president somehow sets some sort of national tone for behavior and culture.

The origins of the insertion of this “issue” into this year’s silly season are a little hard to sort out. It might appear that President Obama opened this can of eels himself with the policy he flew up the flagpole that would have required even religious institutions to provide birth control to patients who want it. He later changed the policy to circumvent the hornet’s nest he had kicked, but he had fanned the flames of the religious fire that smolders beneath this country.

But Rick Santorum (currently the only candidate “conservative” enough for the right wing of the right wing) had gone on record long ago in opposition to birth control. Well-versed in doubletalk, he implies that he separates his beliefs from his governmental function in that he has “supported” birth control, but in the same breath says he’s against it because it “harms women and harms society.”

In another development, there is a bill moving through the Virginia legislature (no guarantee that it will make it all the way) that would require women considering an abortion to have an ultrasound. In itself, that may not sound like such a bid deal, but most abortions happen in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy and, at such an early stage, what would be required to perform an ultrasound is the insertion of a probe (into the vagina) which then must be sort of “stirred around” in order to produce a recognizable image of the fetus.

Oddly enough, some women find the idea of the involuntary intrusion of an object into their private parts a little disturbing and are calling this “state-sanctioned rape.” These women actually have the nerve to object to the legal violation of their reproductive organs.

It’s now completely clear. The right wing of the right wing, and the part of the Republican party that seems to be controlling the whole for the time being, want to take away any illusion that women have about being in control of their own bodies. Women are baby factories – period.

This is one reason I agree with Robert Reich when he calls these right wing extremists “regressives.”

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Don’t read this. You might become indoctrinated. – Tom Rossi

With Rick Perry and Herman Cain out of the hunt for the 2012 nomination, the Republican race has lost a lot of its pathetic charm. The entertainment value we had come to know and love has given way to irritating nonsense.

Recently, that tower of philosophical wisdom, Rick Santorum, spoke about how American universities “indoctrinate” students into liberalism and away from religion. As evidence for this, he cited data from a study, done by religion researche rs, that found that 64% (I think he got the number wrong) of students that enter college end up significantly curtailing their churchgoing after graduation.

This, of course, was just the kind of cheerleading chant that would ignite his audience at the First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida. In Rick Perry’s absence, Rick Santorum has become the front-runner for my least-favorite Republican candidate for 2012 (although Newt is still in the running).

Santorum said that this liberal indoctrination is the real reason that President Obama “wants every kid to go to college.” He just wants everyone to be liberal. Where do I start? President Obama said, “I want every child to have the opportunity to go to college.” (emphasis added). If you read something sinister in this, you’re probably the one who’s been indoctrinated… maybe by Glen Beck.

Wow. Just... wow.

The misconceptions held by so many Americans about higher education just blow my mind. These are all assumptions based on the fact that educated people are likely to disagree with simplistic world views. While studying neurobiology at Colorado State University, I was “indoctrinated” into exactly one way of thinking: not to take anything at face value.

The other students and I were not at all led down a path. Instead, we were given the intellectual tools with which to dissect ideas, scholarly articles, and even accepted paradigms. Not one of my professors ever scoffed at me for questioning what was “accepted.” They would ask me what was giving me my doubts… what was my internal logic. Then we would discuss it and usually it would lead to an idea for some new research that might fill in a missing piece of some puzzle.

Higher education teaches people to think, not in a certain way, but with thoroughness and logic. Rick Santorum got his JD (law degree) from Penn State. I guess the “system” doesn’t always work. It didn’t turn him into a liberal and it didn’t teach him to think before he speaks, either.

Nor, evidently, did he learn to read. That same study found that 76% of people who never went to college cut down on their churchgoing in the same way. So much for teaching logic. I conclude from this that one of two things happened. Either Santorum didn’t bother to read the whole paper (or just didn’t care what it really said) or he knew full well what the real conclusions were and just went ahead anyway, in order to fire up the “troops.”

So, is Rick Santorum stupid? Or is he just typically unethical, politician style? I’ll let you decide.

Oh. Almost forgot. Happy “Make Greeting Card, Flower, and Candy Companies Rich” Day! Let it not be said that I’m un-romantic.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Super PAC, Super Disappointment

I have been following the Republican primaries with righteous indignation, just the ticket on the commute to work over the fog-hugging Bay Bridge. Today (Wednesday at the time of writing), Mitt Romney is confident that, despite losses in key states to Rick Santorum, he will win the primaries, because he has the money to buy TV ads.

Really? Not because he attracts the party faithful through his stirring speeches, articulate exposition of policy, his vision and personal principles?

But this seems to be a glimpse of the future political landscape, where money rather than grassroots support, will decide who rises (or floats) to the top.

Those of us on the moral left will point out that our candidate won the elections against considerable odds by rallying hundreds of thousands of people to donate $25, a meaningful contribution for many. We rallied on street corners, in town hall meetings, and across the Internet.

So I am rather upset to hear that President Obama has sanctioned the forming of a Super PAC – Priorities USA Action. Campaign Manager, Jim Messina essentially told us that the President doesn’t like flip-flopping like this, but has to be realistic and anticipate the media assault waiting for him when the real election campaigning begins.

I know that there is a mixed reaction among the faithful. Many are relieved that reality has kicked in before it is too late. Better to accept the future scenario now and do what must be done to ensure four more years.

But other, myself included, have sighed deeply. Did it really have to be this way? Can we not have the courage of our convictions to believe that we will win because our message is right, our vision in tune with what needs to happen, and that Americans are smart enough to treat this like a general election and not a reality show.

Matea Gold and Melanie Mason, have written a great article in the LA Times: Obama’s embrace of ‘super PAC’ will test his base of donors. Worth the read.

I stand as one of the disappointed, but it won’t stop my commitment to reelecting President Obama. I know what the alternative is (whether Romney, Santorum, Paul or Gingrich), and I begrudgingly know how they can win.

I remain stunned that so many people, only a few months into President Obama’s first term, were actually blaming him for the state of the economy, as though none of the economic carnage and greedy abuse happened prior to his election.

Super PACs have no place in politics. They should remain on the Comedy Central where they belong.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

I Hate Obama – Tom Rossi

Republican candidate debate, January 7, 2012

Rick Perry: “I hate Obama.”

Rick Santorum: “No, I hate him more!”

Newt Gin-grinch: “I not only hate Obama, but EVERY bad thing EVER is his fault.”

Ron Paul: “I have some good ideas, some crazy ideas, and some that just show what an adorable simpleton I really am. Here’s what…”

Mitt Romney: “Let me interrupt here to point out that Ron Paul just doesn’t hate Barack Obama enough. I REALLY hate him!”

Rick Santorum: “I haven’t heard anybody up here blame Obama. It’s all his fault and I hate him.”

Newt Gin-grinch: “I’d like to contradict myself within the same sentence and then add that I blame Obama for everything and I really, really hate him.”

Jon Huntsman: “I’d like to sound intelligent and presidential while I blame Obama.”

Mitt Romney: “I’d like to insult you by calling you an Obama lover and add that I hate Obama.”

Rick Perry: “I don’t just believe in Jesus, but I’d like to point out that Obama is the devil and I really hate him.”

Newt Gin-grinch: “I think we should have a negative tax rate for the Wall Street corporations that caused this economic collapse – the government should pay them. Obama is just too stupid to see this as the obvious answer to all our problems.”

Ron Paul: “I will do exactly what Republicans say they want. But they will never elect me because they are liars and hypocrites.”

Rick Santorum: “Well, it’s clear that Dr. Paul doesn’t hate Obama nearly enough. Until he blames Obama much more, he will always be an also-ran.”

Rick Perry: “I had really hoped that people would notice my new Ronald Reagan haircut. Oh… and did I mention that I hate Obama?”

George Stephenopoulis: “I’d like to ask a thoughtful question that would illuminate your policy positions in a certain area…”

Mitt Romney: “I don’t want to insult you or anyone’s intelligence, but I’d like to ignore your question and say that none of my opponents hate Obama as much as I do and I also have a striking profile.”

Jon Huntsman: “Will everyone please stop picking on me? I speak Chinese and I’m not nearly fanatical enough for my own party to nominate me, but I don’t like Obama either.”

Newt Gin-grinch: “See?! He said, ‘Don’t like’! I told you he doesn’t hate Obama!”

Newt Gingrich - thrown in just for Roger Ingalls

Rick Santorum: “Nobody up here except me hates Obama enough. I’m the one who should be allowed to call him names in the general election in November.”

Mitt Romney: “Stop saying that! I hate Obama more than you!”

Chorus of reporters: “Mitt Romney fended off attacks by the other candidates in the 156th Republican debate. Contrary to Ron Paul’s insane ramblings, Mitt Romney will be anointed King in just a few, short months.”

Ahhhh… that was fun. Truth be told, I was stunned to hear fragments (between the Obama hating) of intelligent thoughts from the candidates. Well, all except Rick Perry. Rick Perry was like the “slow,” bratty kid that a teacher keeps in the back corner of the classroom. Every so often he’d pop up and shoot a spit-wad and the rest of the kids would laugh. I think he could be dropped off the end of the stage and the conversation might improve.

It seemed as if the candidates were preparing for the general election by sounding a little more moderate than in previous weeks. All except Rick Perry, of course. He said that, as president, he would immediately send troops back into Iraq. I pick on Rick Perry a lot. Are you getting the idea that maybe I don’t like him too much?

Several candidates made good observations about our economic situation. But these were always followed by ridiculous conclusions and plans of action. All of these candidates adhere to an archaic, false religion – corporate economics. I wish I could shake Newt Gin-grinch by the lapels and tell him that lowering capital gains taxes (even more) will NOT stimulate manufacturing! It’s exactly the opposite!

In addition, most of the candidates (especially Rick Santorum) hold onto the ridiculous idea (as do their supporters) that the president can somehow influence the social tendencies of our country. Here are a few news flashes: People are going to keep having sex. Some people are still going to be gay. Big, powerful media corporations will put sex in movies and on TV. A lot people will do drugs. And lots of people are still going to think for themselves instead of swallowing whatever propaganda is supposed to make them fall neatly into their little boxes in American society.

What I saw in Saturday night’s Republican debate was a fantasy love-in between men with admittedly decent vocabularies. It was a bunch of guys who, while they do possess raw intelligence (except Rick Perry), are out of touch with reality. They still believe in Santa Claus, even after they spotted three Santas downing whiskeys at the local bar, and two others robbing a liquor store.

Fantasy can be a lot of fun. Or it can be a nightmare. This debate was entertaining, but one of these Dungeons and Dragons wizards might end up leading our country based on a paradigm that has proven false. It’s tragically hilarious to me that it’s always Republicans who quote Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result.” There is actually considerable doubt if Einstein even said that.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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