The Unspeakable Recklessness of Rick Santorum

It's hard to say whether more I'm shocked by former Senator Rick Santorum's sheer stupidity or outraged by the flippant callousness of his remarks. I suspect the former since the latter should not surprise even as the inhumanity remains ever so striking. For the nation to invest in the health and well being of its citizens is not now, nor is it likely to ever be in the foreseeable future, a priority for the GOP, but for a likely Presidential candidate to under any condition to advocate for a debt default simply speaks of an outrageous ignorance of economics and unspeakable recklessness.

Via Think Progress:

As the U.S. steps closer to the economic ledge, a litany of Republican lawmakers are holding the debt ceiling hostage over unpopular priorities like lowering the corporate tax rate cutting entitlement programs. Likely GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum made his own ransom demand today on Fox News Sunday, telling host Chris Wallace that defunding the health care law is “the price” he demands for the debt ceiling and that he’d “absolutely” let the country go into default over it:

SANTORUM: [The health care law] is a program that if the president wants to defend, he should stand up and say the 2012 election is about Obamacare. We’ll put this on hold, and make it a referendum on Obamacare.

WALLACE: Well ok that’s 2012, but you’re saying you’d let the country go into default on this issue.

SANTORUM: No I think the president would let this country go into default on this issue.

WALLACE: But you would make that the condition — you’d make that the price? 


SANTORUM: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Over at Capital Gains and Games, Bruce Barlett, a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and a Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, bemoans that Wall Street, and the nation for that matter, should have known better then to send "a bunch of not-too-bright, ignorant Tea Party members to Congress." Imagine putting one in the White House.

Senator John Ensign to Resign

An ignoble end to an ignominious career.

From the Las Vegas Sun:

Sources confirmed this afternoon that embattled U.S. Sen. John Ensign will resign from office on Friday, opening the door for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to appoint Rep. Dean Heller to finish out the term.

If Heller is appointed, it would give him a strategic leg up as an incumbent against his presumed opponent in the 2012 Senate race, Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley. Berkley is still expected to run.

Ensign's political star fell two years when he revealed he had an affair with a campaign aide, a scandal for which he remains under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

It's unclear whether the ongoing investigation played a role in Ensign's resignation, or whether he was stepping down early at the behest of the Nevada GOP in order to benefit Heller, the party's presumptive nominee for 2012.

The move is implicitly political on the GOP's part in an effort to keep the Nevada Senate seat. Senator Ensign, a member of the notorious C Street Christian fellowship, had already noted that he would not seek re-election next year in the wake of his lascivious conduct that led to Senate Ethics panel investigation that remains ongoing. Rep. Dean Heller, who represents the sprawling Nevada Second Congressional District that covers most of the state except the southern areas around Las Vegas, was expected to seek the seat. Now rather seek election to an open seat, he'll enjoy the benefit of being the incumbent.

Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who represents the Nevada First Congressional District that includes Las Vegas, announced earlier this month that she would seek the seat.

 

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill Linked to US Christian Group

Peter Tachell writing in The Guardian finds the British Commonwealth of Nations is but a Commonwealth of homophobes. Indeed, apart from perhaps Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, gay men are most severely persecuted in the former British colonies now independent that make up the Commonwealth. Of the 53 current members of the Commonwealth, more than 40 still criminalize same-sex relations, mostly under anti-sodomy laws that were originally imposed by the British government in the 19th century, during the period of colonial rule. The most draconian laws are found in The Gambia, Nigeria, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Jamaica. But these pale in comparison to a bill now making its way through the Ugandan Parliament that makes sodomy a capital offense. That's shocking enough, but the bill has ties to a conservative US Christian group whose members includes the high and mighty of American politics of both political parties.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 is going through Uganda's Parliament after receiving its first reading last month. According to Clause 2 of the Bill, a person who is convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment. But if that person is also HIV positive the penalty - under the heading "aggravated homosexuality" - is death. The mere touching of another person with the intent to have gay sex is punishable by life in prison. The bill also criminalizes advocacy of LGBT issues. Membership of LGBT organizations and funding for them, advocacy of LGBT human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people will result in a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of seven years for "promoting" homosexuality. Nor are gay Ugandans who flee their country safe. The bill has provisions for extra-territorial jurisdiction. The law, if passed, will also apply to Ugandans who engage in homosexual behavior while living abroad. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda. There are estimated to be 500,000 gay people in Uganda, from a population of about 31 million, according to gay rights groups.

This weekend on the margins of the Commonwealth Conference being held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, both British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told President Museveni of Uganda that legislation was "unacceptable." They might also have a chat with Senator John Ensign, Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Charles Grassley, Governor Mark Sanford, Representative Bart Stupak and Representative Joe Pitts among others because they are all members of a radical Christian group called The Family. The group which dates back to the 1930s more recently came to our attention for the shenanigans surrounding the affair of Nevada Senator John Ensign and the Congressional boarding house on C Street, but according to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, The Family is connected to the proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

The Family, also known as The Fellowship, was founded in the United States in 1935. According to its founder, Abraham Verene, God came to him one night in April 1935, and told him that Christianity has been focusing on the wrong people, the poor and the suffering, "the down and out". Instead, God commanded him to be a missionary to and for the powerful, the "up and in", who could then pass off the blessings to everybody else. The group does not maintain a website and prohibits its members from speaking about its activities. The group is now run by Doug Coe. The group is also the sponsor of the annual National Prayer Breakfast that has been attended by all Presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Here's Doug Coe in action:

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Senator Ensign Bets the House on Guantánamo

Having just extended his agenda in Iowa by adding two events further stoking speculation of a Presidential run in 2012, Nevada's Republican Senator, John Ensign, just can't seem to keep out of the news.

Returning from a one-day visit this past Friday to the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp, Senator Ensign tells the Las Vegas Sun in an interview that the terror suspects being held there are too dangerous to be transferred to facilities in the US. Instead Senator Ensign believes that these detainees should remain at the military detention facility until the war against terrorism ends even if these detainees are never charged with any crimes. It is fair to say that no one will ever accuse Senator Ensign of being a civil libertarian.

"They are like having Charles Manson times whatever factor - these people are so dangerous," Ensign told reporters on a conference call from Washington.

"It is permissible to hold people until the military conflict is over," Ensign said. "Does anybody think this global war on terror is over? It's not even close. If these people get out they're coming back to kill Americans."

As the Obama administration works to close the facility by early next year, Republicans and some Democrats are escalating their criticism, saying it should remain open until there is a full plan for what to do with the detainees.

The Senate next week is expected to take up Obama's request for funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that will also deal with the Guantanamo issue.

"It is hard to imagine why we would ever think about closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," Ensign said. "I walked away very proud of what our troops are doing down there. I think any American would be proud as well."

Ensign said the facilities at Gitmo are nicer than prisons in the United States, and said the food detainees were served was better than what he and the traveling lawmakers ate.

"They get better health care than the average American citizen does," Ensign said.

The Senator would have us believe that condemning people to life in prison without ever even charging them with a crime serves the national interest. Guantánamo remains a blight on the ideals of the American Republic and on the cause of human liberty. Still it seems that if Senator Ensign wants to pursue Presidential ambitions, it is likely that he will bet the (White) house on keeping Guantánamo open.

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