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Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2010

GINGRICH DEMANDS LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS IMAGINARY THREAT.... Remember, as far as the media establishment goes, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is a "visionary" worthy of respect, despite his frequent slips into madness.

[P]erhaps the former House Speaker's loudest applause [at the Values Voter Summit] came when he weighed in on the controversial Islamic center and Mosque proposed to be built near Ground Zero, declaring, "We as Americans don't have to tolerate people who are supportive of violence against us, building something at the site of the violence."

"This is not about religious liberty, if they want to build that mosque in the South Bronx, frankly they need the jobs," he continued. "But I am totally opposed to any effort to impose Sharia on the United States, and we should have a federal law that says under no circumstance, in any jurisdiction in the United States, will Sharia be used in any court to apply to any judgment made about American law."

Note the classic non-sequitur -- converting a clothing store into a community center, in Newt's twisted mind, is part of an effort to impose Sharia on the United States. At least, that is, what he wants his easily-confused audience to believe.

But I'm especially impressed with the legislation Gingrich wants to see. To hear him tell it, we need a law to prevent U.S. courts from basing rulings on Sharia. Are there any U.S. courts doing this? Well, no. Have there ever been any U.S. courts doing this? Nope, not one. Is there any evidence at all to suggest U.S. courts might ever do this? Not even a little. This is the talking point of fringe, unhinged radicals.

But Gingrich wants a law anyway. I was disappointed he didn't also call for a federal law that says, under no circumstances, will Bigfoot be allowed to run for Congress. Also, unicorns must not be permitted to roam the streets, and flying saucers must not land within 100 yards of a school. We must think of the children, you know.

The disgraced former Speaker added that the Democrats' "secular socialist machine" is comparable to "radical Islamists," and that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius relies on "the spirit of Soviet tyranny."

Major media outlets, however, have no qualms about considering Gingrich a credible, mainstream figure.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

You know what I miss in this whole real estate and housing crisis?
Attics.
We don't have enough of them.
As evidence, I give you FOX News and the Republican Party.
'Maybe if we build them, they will go...'

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 19, 2010 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that the threat is imaginary has nothing to do with Congress' wilingness to pass laws against it. See "Photo IDs to vote". The Republicans keep on the initiative and are driving the narrative, sucking up all the oxygen from the Ds. That is the brilliance of all of it. YOU may think it should be reality-based, I may think it should be reality-based, but as long as their media enablers ensure that we all keep talking about the crazy, the Dems will not get any traction.

Posted by: bluewave on September 19, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

I hate to be the one to invoke Godwin, but having watched Valkyrie last night, I am struck at how similar the rhetoric was to these modern psycopaths. Fear of the other, vocal platform, nationalistic hysteria, it's all there.

Posted by: terraformer on September 19, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

So if Sharia law is such a non threat, is it really worth getting your knickers in a not over it? How many other completely useless laws are there in this country? LOTS!

The real problem is you KNOW sharia law IS a real threat and THAT is why you oppose any effort to oppose Sharia law.

Its funny that Libs would be so for Sharia law and Conservatives against it. I mean after all Sharia law bans gays, allows a man to beat his wife, makes plentiful use of the death penalty, and keeps the taxes at a flat 10% for everyone, rich and poor alike.

Posted by: John on September 19, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Real conservatives just don't say these things. There is something deeply wrong with these righties. I'm concerned for the Republican party.

Posted by: Bob M on September 19, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Interviewer: Was there anything unusual about him?

Gloria: Not him. I should say not. Except, that Dinsdale was convinced that he was being watched by a giant hedgehog whom he referred to as 'Spiny Norman'.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on September 19, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Newt Gingrich knows that judges are already prohibited from applying Sharia. He also knew his audience, based on their standing ovation for his hateful suggestion.

I do have a quibble, though. It appears that a trial judge in New Jersey applied his understanding of Sharia law in a domestic abuse case: http://volokh.com/2010/07/23/cultural-defense-accepted-as-to-nonconsensual-sex-in-new-jersey-trial-court-rejected-on-appeal/

The judge was reversed on appeal, but it is not accurate to say that no judge ever tried to follow Sharia. Newt, of course, has written about the New Jersey case, forgetting to mention that the trial judge was reversed.

Posted by: Don C on September 19, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Senator Richard B. Russell got exercised about a less than accurate news story in the late Fifties. The result was:

TITLE 50 > CHAPTER 15 > SUBCHAPTER II > § 407. Study or plan of surrender; use of appropriations. No part of the funds appropriated in any act shall be used to pay
(1) any person, firm, or corporation, or any combinations of persons, firms, or corporations, to conduct a study or to plan when and how or in what circumstances the Government of the United States should surrender this country and its people to any foreign power,
(2) the salary or compensation of any employee or official of the Government of the United States who proposes or contracts or who has entered into contracts for the making of studies or plans for the surrender by the Government of the United States of this country and its people to any foreign power in any event or under any circumstances."

When assured by President Eisenhower that such studies were not underway nor would they be so long as he was President the good senator responded that it mattered not one whit. It should be noted that, symptomatic of the the period, the NY Times found something favorable to say about the new law.

Posted by: Jerry Sweeney on September 19, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Its funny that Libs would be so for Sharia law and Conservatives against it. I mean after all Sharia law bans gays, allows a man to beat his wife, makes plentiful use of the death penalty, and keeps the taxes at a flat 10% for everyone, rich and poor alike.

So if that's Sharia Law, why are Republicans so against it? I thought you were quoting the Republican Party platform.

It's all right there. The death penalty, anti-gay, flat tax. You should be all for it, John.


Posted by: Pug on September 19, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Imaginary threat?" You need look no farther than the "imaginary" Sharia compliant banking services that are offered throughout the US at certain lending institutions.

This "imaginary threat" starts out in what might be considered unimportant areas and will continue to grow. The only thing "imaginary" in this situation is thinking that Sharia Law will not and cannot affect us here in the US.

Posted by: Mom on September 19, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

I think a ban on unicorns roaming the streets goes too far in restricting the sacred unicorn rights that are a cornerstone of the nation. I am willing to consider unicorn leash laws in conjunction with neighborhood unicorn parks, Assuming Chief Justice Roberts is OK with it.

Posted by: Art Hackett on September 19, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich and a whole host of Republican pseudo-leaders have reached a point where the nonsense they spew is a rough, right-wing, equivalent to the type of stuff that Ward Churchill spewed on the left. And yet, look at the difference in the way they are treated by the press. Why is that?

Posted by: majun on September 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

A few people have tried to argue based on culture or religious practice that criminal laws should not be applied to them. For instance, a guy and his wife who argued that the honor killing of their daughter was "justifiable homicide." They didn't get far. Moreover, this little religious escape clause has been used more often by Christians -- e.g., by parents whose refusal to get medical care for a child resulted from their religious beliefs.

I will be the first person to object to the imposition of Sharia or any other religious code by a court as a justification for criminal behavior or ignoring civil standards of law. The difference is that I will actually view every attempt at imposing religious diktat in the same way and I won't imagine the threat before it actually arises.

As for the "Sharia" based lending practices -- this is a minuscule percentage of the market, and -- listen carefully -- is not being imposed by law. It's like seeing kosher designations on food in the supermarket as evidence of a Jewish world takeover. And after reading through one article on the lending stuff, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't even a particularly good deal for the borrower.

Posted by: Barbara on September 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Contra Mom above, sharia-compliant banking doesn't sound like the beginning of the end of the Western World.

From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking):
"Islamic banking refers to a system of banking or banking activity that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law (Sharia) and its practical application through the development of Islamic economics. Sharia prohibits the payment or acceptance of interest fees for the lending and accepting of money respectively, (Riba, usury) for specific terms, as well as investing in businesses that provide goods or services considered contrary to its principles (Haraam, forbidden).

Indeed, though I'm not opposed to the notion of interest, a bit more restraint shown in the pursuit of interest might collectively have stood us in better stead in the recent past . . .

Posted by: John B. on September 19, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

I think a law that prohibits the application of Sharia to any U.S. court ruling does not go far enough. Who knows, maybe some courthouses may have religious symbols or words inscribed on their doorposts and lintels? To see the Crescent of Islam or quotes from the Koran written on our courthouses will naturally create a prejudicial atmosphere for non-Muslims who are heard in these courts. What if, in some horrible future America, only Muslims can hold public office, or our tax money could be used in support of the 'charitable' activities of your local mosque? I, for one, do not want my children or grandchildren to grow up in such a future.

What is needed is not some limited law for the courts alone. What we need is a firm wall of separation between the Church and State. As Jesus said, "give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Let the Civic and Spiritual realms be tended by their own separate stewards.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on September 19, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

(I am not very familiar with Sharia law, so any comment I make should be taken with that in mind.) Suppose, however, the parties to a contract (such as a prenuptial agreement) expressly, knowingly and voluntarily agreed that resolution of any dispute regarding such agreement would be according to the principles of Sharia. Would Newt Gingrich want to prohibit a court from giving effect to that contractual agreement?

Posted by: John in Nashville on September 19, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

In response to Mom; So the USA and Christian religion should not try to impose our laws and our government on nations that have cultures, government, and religion that are different. What gives us the right to go into other countries,and interfere in their lives. Look at our history, we come into this country drive out the Indians and attempt to impose our values and Christianity on them, then bring in black people from Africa, enslave them and try to impose our government, laws, and Christianity on them. Later in our history we go into the Middle East and we're trying to impose our western values on them. What's wrong with this picture- Oh, I forgot we are the Americans and we are an exceptional people. We will never grow as a people until we get rid of this so-called "noble" bullshit vision of ourselves.

Posted by: Chris on September 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Major media outlets, however, have no qualms about considering Gingrich a credible, mainstream figure.

And I, however, have no qualms about considering "Jack-Boot Newt to be a Moot Coot."

Start spreading that meme around; I'll bet it'll gain some traction....

Posted by: S. Waybright on September 19, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

But I am totally opposed to any effort to impose Sharia on the United States, and we should have a federal law that says under no circumstance, in any jurisdiction in the United States, will Sharia be used in any court to apply to any judgment made about American law.

I seem to recall that we have such a federal law. It reads something like this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Since Sharia is Islamic holy law, it sounds like this federal law would prevent any imposition of Sharia on the United States to me.

Posted by: blank on September 19, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Islamic banking is being imposed by the free market.

Financial institutions have found a service to offer a previously underserviced market.

Why do conservatives hate the free market?

Posted by: TonyB on September 19, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sharia allows religious leaders to commit the most unspeakable crimes and still claim immunity from civil prosecution.

Oh wait, did I say "Sharia"? I meant "Vatican policy." Never mind.

Posted by: Chris S. on September 19, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Majun, I think there is considerable symmetry between Newt's musings and those of Ward Churchill. But quite a different reaction in the press.

I wonder if Newt would be OK with prohibiting judges from "basing rulings on Sharia or any other so-called sacred text, such as the Bible".

Posted by: sceptic on September 19, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I'm more worried about the liberals trying to implement Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, and also Starfleet's General Order #1, the Prime Directive. Asimov and Roddenberry were atheists, you know.

Posted by: Conservatroll on September 19, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

It's terribly alarming to think that religious extremists could have the power to impose laws on our cities and neighborhoods that prohibits commerce on days deemed to be days of worship, and restricts activities on certain hours when people should be engaged in religious observation, and restricts the sales of certain products deemed sinful by the dominant religious extremists.

What will become of America?

Posted by: g on September 19, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Next should be a demand to outlaw Soylent Green.

Posted by: sublime33 on September 19, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Newt's just worried about how he'd fare under sharia law, as a twice-divorced, serial adulterer.

Posted by: TR on September 19, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Next thing you know, the religious extremists will impose their beliefs on America by enacting laws that prohibit the sale of alcohol on days of worship, force stores to close on certain religious holidays, or keep citizens from their god-given right to hunt on Sunday.

You do know that it's actually illegal for car dealerships to sell cars on Sundays in some states because of religious Blue Laws?

Perhaps Gingrich should look at our own Sharia laws.

Posted by: g on September 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich:

"On the one front we have a secular socialist machine led by Obama, Pelosi and Reid, and on the other front we have radical Islamists who would fundamentally change this country into a system none of us in this room would recognize."

I'm getting pretty tired of this kind of incendiary language. There ought to be a 'Godwin's Law' for it. Every time the word 'socialist' comes out of their mouths, they should be ruled out of order.

You can imagine their reaction had someone of equal stature on the Left routinely used equivalent language.

Posted by: leo on September 19, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Don't we already have the First Amendment to the Constitution? Why is that not enough to keep religion and government separate? Oh, I see -- we don't want to keep ALL religion separate from government, just the ones we don't like. And we're convinced that the founders had two fingers crossed behind their backs when they agreed to that amendment, because of course they intended this to be a Christian Nation.

Posted by: T-Rex on September 19, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

T-Rex asked, "Don't we already have the First Amendment to the Constitution?"

Yes, but the Texas GOP platform explcitly calls for the Supreme Court to lose its jurisdiction in Bill of Rights cases (PDF, p. 11). Interesting, non,/i>?

We call Congress and the President to use their constitutional powers to restrain activist judges. We urge Congress to adopt the Judicial Conduct Act of 2005 and remove judges who abuse their authority. Further, we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the
Bill of Rights.

Posted by: Andy Hall on September 19, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Newt needs a padded cell and a whole lot of jello to play with! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 19, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

ith apologies to Neill God Damn Newt Gingrich shit filled soul to hell . That blot on western civilization needs to be ignored in a big way.

Posted by: johnr on September 19, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

This seems like as good a time as any for me to rant on this whole, ridiculous "mosque controversy".
#1 and most important, is that is isn't even a godamn mosque, it's a frickin' community center with a prayer room located somewhere inside, much like any YMCA you've ever been in has a small room that functions as a chapel.
#2 it isn't at "ground zero", but that term is now seemingly being defined as anywhere in the New York where Muslims dare show any display of faith whatsoever.
#3 the chances of Sharia law being enacted and practiced in United States courtrooms is roughly the same chance we have of being invaded by Neptune.
#4 This situation proves once and for all that it doesn't matter what the story is, how untrue it is, or what the facts are. If the right-wing is pushing it, it is gonna be true, and it is gonna be covered by the media, 24/7, until the next pile of horseshit comes around. There is no way to penetrate this kind of insanity.

Posted by: jjstraka on September 19, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the new law will ban Gohmert's "terror babies"? He's probably afraid of those, too.

Posted by: cat48 on September 19, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

But but but but ... he was a PROFESSOR. That means he MUST know what he's talking about, doesn't it.

Um, but wait? Aren't professors part of the 'elite' we need to get rid of in Washington?

My head hurts.

Posted by: Tea Partier on September 19, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

@Andy Hall: OMG. The SUPREME COURT should have no jurisdiction over the First Amendment? This is taking us back to before Marbury v. Madison.

Well, maybe there's a silver lining. Citizens United wouldn't have any effect.

Posted by: Sarah Palin IS the ANTIchrist on September 19, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

also: the Tooth Fairy can pay for ones only without cavities.

Posted by: Daphne Chyprious on September 19, 2010 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

From my glancing acquaintance with the issue, I gathered that the Muslim whomever wanted to use Sharia law within its own courts, not superseding the US courts. In other words, US law says speed limit 65 on the interstate, Sharia law says no, speed limit 55, and punishes offenders within its jurisdiction (members of the congregation) accordingly. Saying the Sharia speed limit is 75 and trying to use that to get out of a speeding ticket in US court: no good. As for stoning etc., obviously US law would prevent it.

The Sharia law would be more restrictive, and only apply to those who accepted it. As noted above, kosher dietary restrictions do the same thing.

Posted by: steverino on September 19, 2010 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Good to see John and Mom on the lookout for Sharia Law. I think it's necessary to prevent not just this good ole USA from going all Muslim and such but thank god we've invaded Middle Eastern countries to keep them from imposing that there Sharia on their citizens.
Let's face it, if we had spent, by some estimates, $3 trillion, so that the brand new democracy of Iraq could impose Sharia Law on its citizens, why, good gravy, that would be just crazy!

Oh, wait, the Iraqi Constitution has a little phrase right at the beginning that says there can be no law passed that violates Sharia Law.

Dayum, that Gingrich is dead right; he's just got the wrong country. Get thee to Iraq, Newt, and ask to pass that law of yours.
What a dolt. You, too Mom. And John, also.

Posted by: Tom M on September 19, 2010 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Tom M -- well played! (And can Newt please take the half-gov, Kristol, Limbutt, hell -- every neocon teabagging SOB -- with him. PLEASE!)

Posted by: lrtc on September 20, 2010 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Why? Every time I see Newt Gingrich speaking out, I am reminded of Norah Desmond?

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on September 20, 2010 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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