One week after bragging that he would not permit Muslims to serve in his administration, GOP presidential candidate and pizza magnate Herman Cainalleged that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has pledged his loyalty to Islamic law, rather than the Constitution. Per the Allen West Theorem—which states that anytime someone says anything that ridiculous, the freshman Florida congressman probably said it first—we'll just note that Allen Westsaid this first.
Other people who probably won't be a part of the Herman Cain administration: Herman Cain, who trailsPresident Obama in his home state of Georgia.
South Carolina came one step closer to becoming the third state to ban Islam law from being enforced in state courts.
Nebraska State Sen. Mark Christensen introduced his state's anti-Sharia bill after a meeting with his local chapter of ACT! for America, reports Salon's Justin Elliott. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies ACT! as a "hate group."
Former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasnerwants to be the next United States senator from the Sunshine State, which is why he was in the Orlando area on Wednesday warning tea party activists about the threat of "progressive Sharia-compliant Islam." We have no idea what that phrase even means, and Hasner, for his part, hasn't clarified.
The New York State Senate held hearings on the threat of Islamic extremism to the Empire State. To demonstrate just how seriously they take the threat of Islamic extremism, senate GOPers selected as their star witness Frank Gaffney, who once wrote an entire column arguing that the Defense Department's missile defense logo is a gateway to Islamic law (heaven forbid Gaffney ever finds out about these). Also testifying: Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who told the committee that 99-percent of American Muslims are "outstanding Americans."
Big news on the conspiracy theory front: On Wednesday, an Oklahoma House committee approved a bill requiring presidential candidates to present a valid, long-form birth certificate before their names can appear on the ballot in the Sooner State. More than a dozen states have considered "birther" bills since the beginning of 2009, but yesterday's vote puts Oklahoma on track to become the first state to actually enact such a law. The vote means the bill, which has already passed the state Senate, just needs to be approved by the full House before it can go to Republican Governor Mary Fallin's desk.
The bill's sponsor, Republican state Sen. Ralph Shortey, explained to The Oklahoman that under the proposed legislation, President Obama's certificate of live birth would be insufficient—even though not all states provide long-form birth certificates. He also took pains to note that this isn't a birther bill:
"A lot of people are classifying this as a birther bill which I don't think it is," Shortey said. "The concern has stemmed from the questions that have arisen from President Obama."
It's a bill that arises out of concerns that the President of the United States is ineligible for office because he was born in a different country, and therefore requires him to present a valid birth certificate, which he has already done. But it's not a birther bill; where would anyone get that idea?
Editor's Note (5/10/11):Well, it kind of seems official. On Monday, a spokesman for Newt Gingrich announced that on Wednesday Gingrich would announce on Twitter and Facebook that he is running for president. (How suspenseful!) And in the days since commentators have been dissecting the former House speaker's past: his messy personal life (two divorces, three marriages), his erratic policy pronouncements, his combative politicking. But given that Gingrich has thirty-plus years of extreme conduct, many of his past excesses end up being truncated and compacted into characterizations. ("Known for his often controversial remarks...") The full Newt is often given short shrift. But a month ago, Tim Murphy and David Corn set out to chronicle Gingrich's 33 years of rhetorical extremism. They ended up with a long list. A very long list.
Newt Gingrich, a preseason 2012 Republican contender, likes to present himself as an ideas man. He is a former college professor and the architect of the ideology-driven 1994 Republican Revolution. But for all his references to Camus and Clausewitz, there's another side to the former House speaker—a verbal bomb-thrower who's never met a political crisis he couldn't analogize to the annexation of the Sudetenland.
Gingrich was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1978. He learned quickly that a back-bencher in the minority party could distinguish himself and gain attention in Washington by employing extreme rhetoric. Ever in attack-mode, Gingrich swiftly moved up the ranks within the House GOP caucus. Democrats accused him of practicing "skinhead politics," and a 1989 Washington Post profile declared him "notorious" and "defiant." But his political thuggery worked, and he led the GOPers in their historic retaking of the House and became speaker. He did not last long in the post. After a rocky stint—marked by a government shutdown, his party's sex-and-lies impeachment crusade against President Bill Clinton, and several ethics controversies involving Gingrich—the GOP lost seats in the 1998 election, and Gingrich resigned as speaker and left the House. (During this time, he was having an extramarital affair with a congressional aide who would eventually become his third, and present, wife.)
In his post-House years, Gingrich, at times, toned down the rhetoric. He worked with Hillary Clinton on health care IT issues. He sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi to highlight their joint support for climate change action. After the 2008 election, he called for policymaking that would unite Democrats, Republicans, and independents. He blasted a candidate for GOP chairman who circulated a parody song called "Barack the Magic Negro." Still, he wasn't able to escape the siren call of overheated oratory. He repeatedly bashed the "secular left" for attempting to destroy the country, and as he has moved closer to declaring a presidential bid, he increasingly has returned to the hooligan ways of his past.
So here's a rather incomplete guide to Gingrich's greatest (or worst) hits of the past 33 years. As he might say, it's the most accurate, predictive model for his future behavior.
Right-wing opponents of the non-existent threat of Sharia law frequently warn that, if we don't act now, the United States will quickly turn into Western Europe—which, they say, has succumbed to the slow creep of Islamic law. I thought that sounded like a lot of empty fearmongering, but then I saw this:
[The] Duke of York, Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward, who is well known by the name Prince Andrew calls on Indonesia to plot sharia financing in the country.
During the meeting between Prince Andrew and Indonesian Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo on Wednesday, both parties are planning to discuss several policies on financial services including future sharia financing in Indonesia and partnership between UK and Indonesia in the development of financial market and protection toward customers' assets.
Sound the horn of Gondor! It's worse than we thought.
Well, that, or maybe permitting Sharia-compliant finance is really just a smart business decision, allowing UK companies to stay competitive in new markets. Just throwing that out there.
Since the election of Barack Obama, right-wingers like Glenn Beck have made a concerted effort to craft a narrative in which whites are the new oppressed and reverse-racism, rather than actual racism, is the new great challenge of our times. CNN captured the zeitgeist last month, when it headlined a story, "Are whites racially oppressed?" (the actual article was far less hysterical).
Charles Murray, the libertarian scholar most famous for his book The Bell Curve, thankfully, did not go down that path in his "State of White America" address to the American Enterprise Institute last night. Instead, he focused on a set of social trends he believes "will end what has made America, America." Specifically, an ever-widening gap between what he calls "the new lower class" and "the new elite," which he attributes to the slow creep of the European-style welfare state.
He's offered a glimpse of this before, but he expanded on it at AEI: Essentially, he says, the four virtues that hold the key to American Exceptionalism—marriage, religiosity, work ethic, and honesty—are in steady decline among the white lower class, with destructive consequences. It's an age-old problem: the government gives you food stamps, and the next thing you know, your marriage has collapsed, you've quite your job, you've turned your back to God, and you're facing 5 to 10 for holding up a Piggly Wiggly.
"The parallel that keeps nagging at me is Rome," he explained, comparing the nation's current precipice to the classical civilization's conversion from a republic to an empire. We're not going to collapse, he says, but society will become a lot more stratified.