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Monday, March 19, 2012

Hallucinated history: Romney gives us gas, Santorum gives us porn

For months, I've semi-rooted for Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination on the grounds that he is not insane. Or rather, that he is the least insane of the bunch. Now...I'm not so sure.
On Fox News Sunday, Mitt Romney said that President Obama campaigned saying that “he wanted to see gasoline prices go up” and that he implemented that plan once in office.

“He said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views and he selected three people to help him implement that program: the secretary of energy, the secretary of the interior, and the EPA administrator,” Romney said.
Let me get this straight. Romney says that Obama explicitly campaigned on a pledge to raise gas prices.

Cah-MON. Are we really supposed to believe that any candidate for national office could win on such a platform?

I was paying attention throughout 2008. I spent every damned day looking for reasons to tell people to vote against Obama. If Obama had said: "Folks, we need higher gas prices," I would have noticed. The McCain team would have noticed as well. Any such statement from Camp Obama would have resulted in Republican attack ads seen by everyone in the country.

Although Americans may be notorious for their imperfect grasp of history, do people really have silly-putty memories of stuff that happened only four years ago? Mitt isn't the only one spreading the "Obama said he likes high gas prices" myth, which has been thoroughly disproven.

I like what Zandar says...
Also, when Mitt launches his war with Iran and gas goes up to $7 a gallon or so, it will be because Freedom Isn’t Free™, and SHUT UP THAT’S WHY.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum once again focuses on below-the-waist issues.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday defended his promise to "vigorously" fight a war on pornography by accusing President Barack Obama's administration of "exposing children" to risk by not enforcing existing laws.
The children! Why doesn't someone think of the children?
"The proof is in the prosecution," Santorum replied. "Under the Bush administration, pornographers were prosecuted much more vigorously than they are under existing law than they are under the Obama administration. So, you draw your conclusion."
So. Are we now to believe that porn became less readily available during the 2001-2009 period?

My recollection is that, during the Dubya years, porn became even more commonplace than before. Adult videos became so easily and freely available that "normal" pornography was no longer profitable. A pretty girl having sex? Yawnsville. During the Bush years, pornhounds got hooked on much harder stuff, as our fearless filth merchants bent over backwards -- so to speak -- to out-gross their competitors.

I'm going to try to discuss this hot-button issue objectively, because Santorum's charge has predictably resulted in a flood of off-topic commentary. The question before us is not (not not not) "Does porn do harm?" A lot of people want to talk about that question, but that is not the question. Not here; not now.

Here and now, the real question is this: Is Rick Santorum telling the truth when he claims that the Bush Justice Department prosecuted porn "vigorously"? Or is he (like Mitt) peddling hallucinations about our recent past?

I looked into the matter. Surprise: Santorum is partially right.

But only partially.

The Bush administration really did increase prosecutions -- although anyone who says that he did so "vigorously" has chosen the wrong adverb. "Tepidly" gets us closer to the truth. Here's a story from 2005:
Since 2001, 40 people and businesses have been convicted and 20 additional indictments are pending, said Andrew Oosterbaan, chief of the Justice Department’s child-exploitation and obscenity section. By comparison, there were four such prosecutions during the eight years of the Clinton administration, he said.
Critics say a few dozen criminal cases will not dent an industry with an estimated $10 billion a year in sales. Moreover, they say, the effort is an assault on the First Amendment protection of speech and expression, however distasteful.

“They’ll find some sacrificial victims, but the porn industry will go on,” said Marjorie Heins, founder of the Free Expression Policy Project at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

A proponent of strict enforcement of obscenity laws agreed with Heins that so far, the administration has aimed mostly at minor figures in the industry.

“At some point, they’re going to have to ratchet it up if they want to do something meaningful,” said Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media.
There was no such ratcheting. Dubya picked off a few very minor players who earned some lunch money by peddling home-made wares. Bush did just barely enough to earn the right to tell his Christian supporters that he cared about one of their key issues. But he never went after the major (or even medium-level) makers of adult videos.

There was no panic in the streets of Chatsworth, California.

At the time, both the Christian right and the anti-porn feminist left understood very well that those "few dozen" convictions amounted to window dressing. This 2007 piece from the National Catholic Register quotes several anti-porn activists:
“No, we haven’t turned this tide of pornography back at all,” said Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media. “Very little has been done since the Reagan administration, and the other side is winning big.”

Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America, wrote Feb. 26 in the organization’s online publication: “Anybody who keeps track of obscenity prosecutions knows the stats show that it’s not the ‘priority’ we’ve been told it is.”

Gonzales, aware of growing criticism that the administration has allowed porn to run amok, last year established the Justice Department’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force and appointed veteran prosecutor Brent Ward to lead it.
Ward got a fair amount of press; his efforts impacted the state Attorneys General scandal. (Long story there. Too long to go into here.)

Here's the bottom line: It is true that there were a few more prosecutions under Bush. But it is also true that, during that same time period, porn exploded in availability and became much edgier, much more extreme.

Santorum is engaging in mythology when he speaks of a vigorous program of prosecutions under Bush. Didn't happen.
Comments:
The gas price thing might be attributed to Obama's Energy secretary Stephen Chu's remarks about letting gas prices rise as a way to curb consumption.

What kind of porn did the Bush administration go after, mainstream or child?

If prosecutions have dropped off could it be that the DOJ has shut down most of the studios producing child porn?

And yes, most Americans can't remember what happened four years ago due to the constant rewriting of history by the print and broadcast media. It's not just the AM Hate Radio broadcasters but cable news that do it.
 
Chu was hardly in the picture in 2008.
 
I here ya Joseph...I don't remember obama ever claiming he "WANTED" higher gas prices what he said was this......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VquNu30hDe8....
 
How about raising the price of gasolene to pay for a state health service, available to all, free at the point of use? I mean the kind that has existed in most other 'advanced' countries for generations.

A candidate who campaigned for that might be worth voting for!

I can hardly look around me without getting hit by green-coloured corporate and government 'save the planet' propaganda, but raising the price of petrol (gasolene) for private individuals, while reducing it for public transport use, would seem an obviously good idea.
 
As Red Dragon points out, it's not exactly hallucinated, just a combination of selective, misleading quotes and propaganda - at least on the gas issue. The full 17 minute NYT/CNBC interview from June 11, 2008 is here:

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2008/06/11/us/politics/1194817111103/campaign-conversations-barack-obama.html

Obama gets himself in this mess because he fails to disagree explicitly with a leading question about rising prices being "good" in the long run. His previous discussion certainly makes it clear that he's not in favor of a gasoline price shock, but he's so eager to appear "thoughtful" that he can't bring himself to say "No, of course not" before launching into one of his interminable, droning "teachable moment" monologues.

He really shouldn't be allowed to speak without a teleprompter.
 
Remember when porn star Mary Carey dined with Bush in the WH?

The DC Madam was "vigorously prosecuted." She was convicted, and sadly died, while her clients, like David "diapers" Vitter are still in positions of power (when not being diapered by hookers).
 
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