It Doesn’t Make Any Sense

I don’t give a damn about Rick Santorum. Had he won the nomination he would have put his foot in his mouth enough times to guarantee defeat, even as the country suffers economically.

What I give a damn about is this:


Rick Santorum thinks it’s legitimate to claim his campaign is about freedom? To use freedom as a campaign slogan? To emblazon his podium with the word freedom while giving his concession speech?

What freedom?

The freedom to ban pornography (so much for the First Amendment)? The freedom to ban oral sex? The freedom to ban birth control (and of course, all abortions, even ones deemed medically necessary)? The freedom to bomb Iran (resulting, most probably, in huge damage to the American economy)?

Santorum’s platform is one of forcing his religious beliefs, his politics and his geopolitics onto the rest of the country. That’s fine; he’s free to believe in doing that, I’m free to tell him to go and fuck himself.

The problem is calling it “freedom”.

As Orwell once put it:

And those words tell us everything we could ever possibly need to know about Rick Santorum.

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A Time for War?

Arch-neocon Charles Krauthammer — and Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta — say that Israel is ready to strike Iran:

Our own secretary of Defense has said it’s highly likely and he gave a timeframe — April, May, June — which means the Israelis think that the moment, the zone of immunity where they can no longer attack successfully, is approaching.

On the other hand, I am becoming more sceptical of such actions by the day.

Both China and Pakistan have given assurances of some kind of support for Iran, if attacked. Why would Israel choose direct and open warfare against Iran and risk provoking a wider conflict when they can instead engage in a much less risky covert war of subterfuge, sabotage and assassination?

Furthermore, why would the US Secretary of Defence go on the record to divulge Israeli military plans? Frankly, it sounds like Panetta’s vocalisation is a decoy to keep Iran edgy, and try to incite Iranians on the ground to rise up in revolt and overthrow the regime, as a path to avoiding war.

While I have already given a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the Western motivations for such a war, the simple truth emerging is that the risks of wider trouble and blowback are too big, and outweigh all the prospective benefits. American and Israeli policymakers may have finally realised that the West just has too much to lose from antagonising China and Russia even more. And, as I have clearly drawn out, the risks to Israel and to the West from an Iranian nuclear weapon are relatively small. Furthermore, the Israeli intelligence community is not overwhelmingly committed to such an action.

The only people who seem committed to such action are the rabid neocon wing of the Republican party: people like Rick Santorum.

From Haaretz:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday accused President Barack Obama of actively seeking ways to allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapon and suggested that the administration had betrayed Israel by publicly disclosing what may be a plan to attack the Muslim nation.

The bottom line is that there is very little reason to believe that America or Israel will openly engage Iran before the Presidential election. There will be a continued war of stealth, continued drone surveillance, continued cyber attacks, continued assassinations, and a continued blockade — all aimed at provoking an Iranian revolution. I could be wrong, and the situation could change, but as more anti-American rhetoric streams out of Eurasia, as Iran enriches more uranium, as the American national debt creeps higher, the prospects of a war grow more distant.

A zealous theocratic warmonger like Santorum in the White House would change all of that..

New Hampshire…

Chickenhawk

And so the Presidential race turns to New Hampshire. The only real question is whether a unifying candidate can emerge from the religious conservative wing of the party. Newt Gingrich? Rick Santorum? Neither?

The Republican party today is broadly split in three: there is the establishment represented by Mitt Romney. There are libertarians and constitutionalists represented by Ron Paul. And there are religious conservatives — a large chunk of the electorate, but without a consistent or fiscally conservative figurehead. And that’s unsurprising. Religious conservatives believe in the government legislating morality and redistributing wealth. Certainly, they believe in a different morality, and a different pattern of redistribution than Obama. But it is still tax-and-spend redistribution. Gingrich’s and Santorum’s records speak very clearly on that. And in the current economic climate, big spending is unpalatable. Each religious or social conservative that has surged to the top tier — Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, Cain, Trump, Palin and Santorum — has crumbled under the spotlight. The Santorum candidacy does not have legs outside of Iowa — he has no money, no organisation, and has a record of voting for various big-spending initatives.

Religious and social conservatives are running out of time, and out of candidates. They may be forced to pin their colours to either Romney or Paul’s mast.

If no religious conservative emerges clearly from New Hampshire or South Carolina it shapes for a very interesting race.

Paul and Romney will maintain their bases. They are in it for the long haul. The winner will be the one who pulls in more of the social conservatives. Romney is confident that this will be him. After all, Paul is not a foreign policy interventionist, and most social and religious conservatives are.

Yet we should not discount economic and fiscal policy. Paul is the staunchest fiscal conservative in the race, and the only candidate with a serious program of cuts. Narrow Romney victories in South Carolina and Florida might not “sew the race up”, so much as drive social conservatives to Ron Paul as the only serious challenger to a Romney candidacy that differs from Obama only in details, not substance.

The other prospect is that social conservatives unite behind one candidate. But who is it to be? Gingrich? Perry? Santorum? None can be described as a consistent fiscal conservative, and that is a problem in this election cycle.

Most likely Romney will win New Hampshire and South Carolina. To many observers that would be game over after just three states. But Romney is an unsettling prospect to many Republicans — too liberal, too Wall Street, too establishment. Ron Paul — the only candidate other than Romney with a firm base —  stands a fine chance of establishing himself as the anti-Romney and winning a lot of delegates.

How Did We Get Into This Mess?

The chips are down for America; credit rating downgraded, industrial production down, employment lagging. So I suppose that means that political leaders, business leaders, religious leaders and the people of America in general will be simply bursting with ideas to reverse America’s fiscal woes, to boost employment, and to boost productivity? In the Republican corner, 2012 Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is firing off some big ideas:

I do not have a problem with homosexuals, but a problem with homosexual acts. The right to privacy doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution. Anti-Sodomy laws properly exist to prevent acts which “undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family

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