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Big Government Rick (Again)

Here’s Josh Barro writing for Forbes with details of some Santorum plans for wasteful and intrusive government:

The Daily Caller flags a little-discussed position paper on Rick Santorum’s campaign website—his pledge to aggressively prosecute those who produce and distribute pornography. Santorum avers that “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography.” He pledges to use the resources of the Department of Justice to fight that “pandemic,” by bringing obscenity prosecutions against pornographers.

I would note that this is very different from what the Bush Administration did. The Bush DOJ did establish an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in 2005, but this body focused on bringing prosecutions against small-time producers who made porn with extreme content. (Even so, it faced significant pushback from U.S. Attorneys, some of whom viewed such prosecutions as a distraction and a misuse of resources.) Many social conservative groups were disappointed with the task force, contending that more mainstream hardcore porn violates obscenity laws, and they urged the Bush Administration to bring obscenity cases against major producers.

Santorum promises that he would do exactly this. His statement references going after pornography that is distributed not just on the Internet, but also “on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV.” Perhaps I am not staying in the most interesting hotels, but my impression is that porn distributed through such channels is almost definitionally not extreme. Santorum’s statement also touts his work on this issue with “groups including Morality in Media, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Family Association”—many of which were among the groups calling on the Bush Administration to prosecute mainstream porn producers in 2007. And he says he “proudly support[s] the efforts of the War on Illegal Pornography Coalition,” which advocates the use of obscenity laws against mainstream porn.

Some of Santorum’s defenders have taken the tack of separating his personal views from his policy views. Santorum thinks contraception is “not OK” and he has announced his intention to use the bully pulpit to discuss “the dangers of contraception.” But he doesn’t think contraception should be illegal, and he voted for Title X contraception subsidies (though he said in a recent debate that he opposes Title X, despite voting for it.) On pornography, though, Santorum’s views can’t be written off as purely personal—he has stated a clear intent to use the levers of government to stop adults from making and watching porn.

And, of course to fritter away taxpayer money (and prosecutorial resources) while doing so.

Now that’s obscene.

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Patronizing Much?

Here’s yet another bossy, patronizing (and, I imagine, eventually taxpayer-funded) idea from the UK’s frequently lamentable Conservative-led government:

[Britain’s] Department of Health is to announce plans for a new system of independent counseling for women before they finally commit to terminating a pregnancy. The move is designed to give women more “breathing space”… The plan would introduce a mandatory obligation on abortion clinics to offer women access to independent counseling, to be run on separate premises by a group which does not itself carry out abortions.

The idea that enough women might require a state-supplied “breathing space” (as if they have had not already had time to think about what they are planning) and “independent” (define that term) counseling to need a change of government policy shows a sense of condescension that would be remarkable were it not coming from Britain’s political class, a group that has long made condescension something of a specialty.

One important thing to note, however: Unlike in certain US states this “independent” counseling will neither be mandatory, nor will some of its contents be dictated by politicians.

That’s something, I suppose.


Via the Daily Telegraph:

The Prime Minister and Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will vote against the proposals put forward by pro-life groups and campaigning MPs, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Their opposition follows claims that ministers were preparing to change long-established rules on advice given to pregnant women.The matter will still be debated in the Commons, but No 10 made it clear for the first time that Mr Cameron would vote against the amendments to the Health Bill tabled by Nadine Dorries, a backbench Tory MP. Downing Street sources said that the proposed amendments would “exclude proper choice”.

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