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Posts Tagged ‘newt gingrich’

Mapping the “willful ignorance” of the US Republicans

December 7, 2011 3 comments

Mark R. Levin is a talk show host in America and is much considered by his critics to be like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh – idiotic but loud.

In 2009 he wrote a book called “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto” in which he made a meager attempt at proving global warming to be false – at the despair even of fellow conservatives such as Jim Manzi, a contributing editor at National Review, who went on to call the book a case for “willful ignorance”.

But willful ignorance is the order of the day – and nowhere better can this be seen than in the very Republican circles that Levin treads.

Though this should not have affected Newt Gingrich’s standing – the candidate with a PhD! Surely as the heavyweight he would not water down his message – the people respect a guy who knows what he is doing, right?

With Herman Cain out the contest now (the author of the words uz-beki-beki-stan-stan) Gingrich is having to fill his place for dumbing down and, as aforementioned, willful ignorance.

So right on cue, at a church in Texas recently, he said:

“I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9,” he said.  “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

A secular atheist country dominated by radical Islamists is not only a mouthful, but a bloody headfuck.

This is the same chap who was recently lampooned by conservative pundit George Will in the Washington Post for his “intellectual hubris” and “enthusiasm for intellectual fads” not to mention the charge that Newt “would have made a marvelous Marxist, [believing] everything is related to everything else and only he understands how.”

Now more than ever before should Paul Krugman’s words of wisdom about Gingrich should apply: “Newt Gingrich is a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like”.

It should be noted that after Manzi took issue with Levin’s book calling it willful ignorance, he then went on to say it was “an almost perfect example of epistemic closure.” Gingrich, I suppose, is only doing what is necessary of him.

Illegal Immigration and the GOP: Another Chapter in US Conservative Epistemic Closure

November 24, 2011 2 comments

Many an armchair pundit has diagnosed the problem with President Obama – unlike his predecessor, he just isn’t stupid enough, or at least he doesn’t try hard enough to appear stupid.

Possibly the same armchair pundit has leaned over to one side and whispered the following into the ear of Republican candidate Herman Cain – appear more stupid!

Cain, only too happy to oblige, recently said the following in an interview (seemingly as an homage to former President Bush):

I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions and they’re already starting to come. And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know. Do you know?

Yes. He actually said that. The problem, of course, is that it might work – but it is certainly not Obama’s style, which may be why the Obama camp are worried.

But when the target audience has been situated so adequately, one which responds positively to their candidate appearing stupid on television, the worst thing to do is say something eminently sensible.

Or at least seemingly so.

David Frum, the very interesting right of centre North American commentator, recently put in an article for New York Magazine “Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment.” He notes that as a business model this “evolution” is wonderful, it consists in fear (“death panels” etc) and breeds distrust in other media outlets (the all too familiar confirmation bias) – but as journalism it is a disaster, and this is the stuff that pumps out of the TV sets of American households.

So, this being the case, either Newt Gingrich is very brave or very stupid for taking an unorthodox line on immigration recently, saying:

“If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out”

Already the other Republican candidates are saying the buzzword they know will not sit very well with right wing voters: amnesty! And already this is doing the rounds on debates – Gingrich wants an amnesty, and therefore is a soft touch on immigration, how un-American, how very Obama-esque you may hear them say.

As someone like Frum is all too ready to admit of the US conservative right – they are not ready for “compassionate” discussions on immigration.

But then if the news stations, telling viewers that Gingrich is a mad leftie dinosaur with his no good compassion, were to take a closer look at Gingrich’s plans on immigration, they’d soon question what is compassionate about it (one would hope).

He is in favour of what is called the “Red Card Solution” which would basically extend the guest worker status of an illegal immigrant if they were, in Gingrich’s words, “paying taxes and obeying the law” with a family.

But on the downside, the red card solution all but dissolves the rights of immigrants, makes second-class citizens of them and their families, and effectively marks them out as “cheap labor at the expense of native-born workers.

Even conservatives think so. Dan Stein, president of the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform, said:

“This is effort to create a stratified labor force that provides wealthy employers with a way to get employees at below-market rates.”

What Gingrich supports both cheapens immigration and the movement of people, and is light years from the compassion which those on the GOP hard right are snubbing him for.

Given his recent words on the stupidity of child labour laws, one can only imagine what dreams he has of an entire cheap workforce, spared the burden of proper labour rights.

If his opponents, accusing him of wanting amnesty, were to do a bit of research then maybe they would reveal a different story about Gingrich’s so-called compassion. Not that many would listen anyway.

From the Vaults: Bryan Fischer, a Former US House Speaker, Islam and the Law of the Land

Slate Magazine tonight have said Newt Gingrich will run for Republican presidential nomination.

The former House Speaker will formally throw his hat into the ring for the Republican presidential nomination by the end of next week, his spokesman tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Because of this news I republish here an entry I ran at the start of April, which explains who Bryan Fischer is, how groups connected to Gingrich have been contributing money to him, and how Gingrich tried to deny the extreme views of the American Family Association.

It’s scandalous – only a fool would want him running for President.

*

Bryan Fischer is the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association – a conservative organisation which promotes “Christian values”. He has been keeping US bloggers and commentators busy recently with his almost daily dose of bile which he often pumps out during his talk radio program Focal Point on American Family Radio.

To cite some examples, it is Fischer’s opinion that all new immigrants to the US must convert to Christianity or stay put and that the US should put an end to all Muslim immigration.

He once wrote on his blog that welfare in the US has destroyed the African-American family by telling them that husbands and fathers are unnecessary and that the state has incentivised “fornication rather than marriage” to which he reasoned “it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits.”

Elsewhere Fischer stated that Native Americans, on account of their inability to convert to Christianity, were “morally disqualified” from maintaining their land.

He has also called grizzly bears a “curse” – but you get the idea; he’s not a very nice man indeed, and his rhetoric is filled with hate.

The American Family Association and a former US House Speaker

If you were planning on running for Presidential candidate (or at least testing those waters) – on a moderate GOP ticket – you probably wouldn’t want to touch the man with a bargepole. But Newt Gingrich has done just that.

Associated Press broke the story in March a “group connected to former U.S. House Speaker [...] contributed $125,000 to a Mississippi nonprofit organization […] AFA Action Inc., a nonprofit arm of the American Family Association”. Anyone else might have claimed ignorance saying they cannot micromanage every transaction or some other excuse, but instead Gingrich decided just to deny the extreme views of the AFA, saying:

You [Igor Volsky, Health Care Policy Editor for ThinkProgress.org, questioning Gingrich] bring a series of allegations that I can’t check about a group that is largely a Christian based membership group, that is fairly widespread in its membership and I suspect most of those people do not in any way think of themselves as a hate group even if that’s how you would characterize them.

I suggest Gingrich picks up a newspaper once in a while and checks the views of AFAs’ spokesperson – he’ll soon see rather than being a mere Christian organisation, it is host to an anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Grizzly bear bigot whose absurd opinions are the real threat.

Islam and the Law of the Land

Another recent controversy involved Fischer saying Muslims have no first amendment rights “for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam.”

Of course the first amendment actually guarantees freedom of religion and “prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another.”

But he wriggles out of this one, qualifying his comment: “They have that privilege [to build Mosques in the US] at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked if, as is in fact the case, Islam is a totalitarian ideology dedicated to the destruction of the United States.”

So because Fischer chooses not to distinguish Islam and political Islam, Muslims for him are a political grouping (oh, whose sole intention is to destroy the United States) and thus not worthy of the term religion, safeguarded under the first amendment.

Islam, for Fischer, could not respect the laws of the land in the US and are thus a threat – informing his opinion that all Muslim immigrants are a “toxic cancer”.

But let’s not trust Fischer with the facts on Islam and law; why not consult an expert on the subject.

Professor Shaheen Ali of Warwick University in 2008 waded into the debate about Sharia Law and the UK, as caused by comments by Rowan Williams on the (“unavoidable”) role sharia law has in UK law.

With regards to what Islamic Law has to say about how a Muslim is to conduct oneself in a non-Muslim country, Shaheen Ali notes that:

  • there is already a code of practice on how a Muslim conducts themselves and what their obligations viz-a-viz the country to which they now call home
  • Britain affords a legal system to all its habitants and is therefore congruent with Islam and social justice
  • Britain does not put a curb on the practice of the 5 pillars of Islam (Shahada – the professing of oneself to be a Muslim; Salat – prayer;Zakat – to give to charity; Sawm – the ritual fasting; Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca), therefore the laws here must be respected by Muslims, stipulated, Professor Ali states, by “Islamic law”.

The same applies to the US; providing the law does not prohibit Muslims from carrying out their religious practices there is nothing within Islamic Law that says it must distrust the law of the land in which the Muslim finds him/herself.

On first sight Fischer is clearly a crazed right wing nut job, but on closer examination he’s a crazed right wing nut job who doesn’t bother doing his research.

Bryan Fischer, a Former US House Speaker, Islam and the Law of the Land

April 11, 2011 2 comments

Bryan Fischer is the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association – a conservative organisation which promotes “Christian values”. He has been keeping US bloggers and commentators busy recently with his almost daily dose of bile which he often pumps out during his talk radio program Focal Point on American Family Radio.

To cite some examples, it is Fischer’s opinion that all new immigrants to the US must convert to Christianity or stay put and that the US should put an end to all Muslim immigration.

He once wrote on his blog that welfare in the US has destroyed the African-American family by telling them that husbands and fathers are unnecessary and that the state has incentivised “fornication rather than marriage” to which he reasoned “it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits.”

Elsewhere Fischer stated that Native Americans, on account of their inability to convert to Christianity, were “morally disqualified” from maintaining their land.

He has also called grizzly bears a “curse” – but you get the idea; he’s not a very nice man indeed, and his rhetoric is filled with hate.

The American Family Association and a former US House Speaker

If you were planning on running for Presidential candidate (or at least testing those waters) – on a moderate GOP ticket – you probably wouldn’t want to touch the man with a bargepole. But Newt Gingrich has done just that.

Associated Press broke the story in March a “group connected to former U.S. House Speaker [...] contributed $125,000 to a Mississippi nonprofit organization […] AFA Action Inc., a nonprofit arm of the American Family Association”. Anyone else might have claimed ignorance saying they cannot micromanage every transaction or some other excuse, but instead Gingrich decided just to deny the extreme views of the AFA, saying:

You [Igor Volsky, Health Care Policy Editor for ThinkProgress.org, questioning Gingrich] bring a series of allegations that I can’t check about a group that is largely a Christian based membership group, that is fairly widespread in its membership and I suspect most of those people do not in any way think of themselves as a hate group even if that’s how you would characterize them.

I suggest Gingrich picks up a newspaper once in a while and checks the views of AFAs’ spokesperson – he’ll soon see rather than being a mere Christian organisation, it is host to an anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Grizzly bear bigot whose absurd opinions are the real threat.

Islam and the Law of the Land

Another recent controversy involved Fischer saying Muslims have no first amendment rights “for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam.”

Of course the first amendment actually guarantees freedom of religion and “prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another.”

But he wriggles out of this one, qualifying his comment: “They have that privilege [to build Mosques in the US] at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked if, as is in fact the case, Islam is a totalitarian ideology dedicated to the destruction of the United States.”

So because Fischer chooses not to distinguish Islam and political Islam, Muslims for him are a political grouping (oh, whose sole intention is to destroy the United States) and thus not worthy of the term religion, safeguarded under the first amendment.

Islam, for Fischer, could not respect the laws of the land in the US and are thus a threat – informing his opinion that all Muslim immigrants are a “toxic cancer”.

But let’s not trust Fischer with the facts on Islam and law; why not consult an expert on the subject.

Professor Shaheen Ali of Warwick University in 2008 waded into the debate about Sharia Law and the UK, as caused by comments by Rowan Williams on the (“unavoidable”) role sharia law has in UK law.

With regards to what Islamic Law has to say about how a Muslim is to conduct oneself in a non-Muslim country, Shaheen Ali notes that:

  • there is already a code of practice on how a Muslim conducts themselves and what their obligations viz-a-viz the country to which they now call home
  • Britain affords a legal system to all its habitants and is therefore congruent with Islam and social justice
  • Britain does not put a curb on the practice of the 5 pillars of Islam (Shahada – the professing of oneself to be a Muslim; Salat – prayer; Zakat – to give to charity; Sawm – the ritual fasting; Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca), therefore the laws here must be respected by Muslims, stipulated, Professor Ali states, by “Islamic law”.

The same applies to the US; providing the law does not prohibit Muslims from carrying out their religious practices there is nothing within Islamic Law that says it must distrust the law of the land in which the Muslim finds him/herself.

On first sight Fischer is clearly a crazed right wing nut job, but on closer examination he’s a crazed right wing nut job who doesn’t bother doing his research.

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