Skip to content

The Single-issue Voter: A birder’s look at Rick Santorum (R)

October 7, 2011
by

It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. This is the second of The Drinking Bird’s however many parts it takes series.

–=====–

I’d like to just make clear, dear reader, that I’m doing this for you.  I’d like to consider myself a pretty politically aware guy, and while I generally come down on the far left of the spectrum (which tends to be the far far far left of the American political spectrum), I’m not completely unaware of the charms of our friends on the right and find myself in general agreement with them on issues of civil liberties, constitutional rights (real, not perceived), and various individual freedoms therein.  Now I don’t think those freedoms should be applied to various legal entities (i.e. corporations), nor do I think basic civil liberties (that life and liberty jazz Jefferson went on about) should be denied non-Americans either.  But these are things that relatively reasonable people can disagree about honestly.  What I cannot, for the life of me, understand, though, is the fundamentalist christian wing of the Republican party, and while the individuals who make up this part of the right are fully capable of being decent and friendly fellow citizens one-on-one, the politicians that generally seek to appeal to this part of the constituency are nothing short of abhorrent.  Low-lifes who seek to further their political careers through the lowest, basest, ways possible.

I am not religious, but I can appreciate the meaning and import people place on that aspect of their lives.  And to prey on that emotional weight as a means to convince people of little means to fork over their money in return for promises that, however repugnant they may be, these con-men (and women) never really intend to keep is about the worst thing you can do.  These clowns are no better than sideshow hucksters selling jars of snake-oil that might as well be corked bottles of latrine water in a fancy wrapper.  I mean, they are completely awful human beings with few, if any, redeeming qualities.  But still, I’ll see what he has to say.  For the good of all.

I suppose that means that I’m probably not inclined to not giving Rick Santorum a fair shake.  Fair enough.  Few grifters have been as successful as Santorum over the years, who turned his uneventful House career and one term in the Senate into a lobbying gig with a part-time side job as a would-be presidential also-ran (he has to know he doesn’t have a prayer).  But since he does insist on putting on the red nose and floppy shoes, I suppose I’ll stand in the back and check out the performance.

Here’s the thing about Santorum, he’s from Pennsylvania.  And the Keystone State has, historically, been one of those places where coal is king.  That’s less true now that the Appalachian coal seams are almost tapped out, but old habits die hard just about everywhere, and as a Senator, Santorum toed the line to the coal industry.  He has long been known for the almost evangelical zeal in which he promotes anti-climate change talking points, running out such well-worn canards as claiming climate change is a “liberal scheme” and that scientists have not “decisively concluded” that it’s happening.  He has long been an advocate for energy independence, but has consistently and constantly voted against renewable energy programs that actually seek to make that happen, preferring to throw his weight behind coal-to-liquid-gas programs, the efficacy of which has not been proven and whose smokestacks, which Santorum has worked hard to see remain uncapped, spew Mercury and other carcinogens into the atmosphere surrounding environment in disturbing levels.  None of this is particularly unexpected coming from a rust belt Republican though.  Like many oil friendly politicians from both major political parties, the refrain of “job-killing regulations” leaps forth from his throat easily and often and what the extraction industries want, they get.

But all that’s old news.  What lately?

Given that Santorum hasn’t held office in some time, and that environmental and bird-friendly positions are generally not high on his list of political priorities, there’s not a lot there. But for the last several years the issue of hydro-fracking, the mysterious process by which natural gas is mined from shale pockets in many parts of the United States, has been a huge issue in Pennsylvania particularly.  Hydro-fracking in the Marcellus shale region is big business, and with a new governor and legislature in the state, business has been very good.

The environmental impact of this extraction process is not well know, but what little is known is universally bad.  Large quanities of water and chemicals are injected into the water table across the state with dire consequences, according to a recent Duke University study.  Not only that, but large continuous tracts of forest land and logged and fragmented to make room for these massive drilling platforms.  In Pennsylvania, the Republican governor has even allowed drilling to take place in state parks and natural areas, a policy that has obvious detrimental effects to migratory and nesting bird species.  It’s enough to say that any involvement in this highly-destructive industrial practice would be a strong statement as to where his priorities lie. For that reason it’s probably not to shocking to know that one of the largest hydro-fracking companies in the world, and a huge player in Pennsylvania, Consol Energy, has been paying him upwards of $330,000 last year for his… well, it’s not entirely clear what he’s doing for them, but they’re probably getting their money’s worth with this “presidential campaign”.

And that probably tells you everything you need to know about Rick Santorum.

Geez, this series is depressing this year.

Advertisements
4 Comments
  1. October 7, 2011 8:11 pm

    There are so many reasons to fear Rick Santorum. I’ve even thought of becoming a Republican so I can help make certain he is stopped.

    Actually, there is one more thing you need to know. When his wife miscarried at 20 weeks gestation, they brought the fetus (they named him “Gabriel”) home so the siblings could hold their little brother. They kept the body in the home overnight before returning it to the hospital. When he was a Senator, Santorum kept a photograph of his children holding Gabriel on his desk.

  2. Nate permalink*
    October 7, 2011 8:52 pm

    @Carolyn – That may be the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard.

  3. October 8, 2011 10:39 am

    “Geez, this series is depressing this year.”

    I think what makes this all the more depressing is that you’re only two candidates in so far. Luckily, I’m pretty well decided not to vote for this side anyway; unluckily the nausea of one of these folks making it to the White House is going to keep me awake nights.

    Great series, though.
    -Mike

  4. October 9, 2011 12:27 am

    What an eloquent well-reasoned dismantling of this clown.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: