Senior Airman Eric Humphrey, an 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron pararescueman, throws a colored smoke grenade to mark his team's position during a training scenario in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, October 21, 2011. Using a colored smoke signal is one way pararescuemen designate their position to an air evacuation team. (US Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Renae Saylock)

Newt Gingrich.

The Thanksgiving Family Forum on Saturday wasn't really a debate per se; it was more of a "Jesus is even better than Ronald Reagan" powwow hosted by noted pollster Frank Luntz.

For instance, Herman Cain said that people of faith "have been too passive" and that "we haven't fought back" enough for the right to "express [our] faith in any setting." He also inserted an applause line that took a swipe at the "political correctness police" who have allegedly kneecaped religious liberty in the country. That basically set the tone for the rest of the Republican candidate get-together (sans Mormons Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney).

Family values paragon Newt Gingrich followed-up with his patented critique of effete, soulless secularism, putting his background as a historian to good use:

"None of the Founding Fathers would have said education without character is useful; they would have said it was in fact dangerous," Gingrich said. He went on to assert that "what we have now [in American society] is an outgrowth of the French Revolution," which the former House Speaker defines as the wholesale "rejection of the larger world in favor of secularism." This is the same anti-faith decadence that pollutes the US court system, Hollywood, public education, and so on, Gingrich insisted.

Gingrich's effort to breathe new life into the so-called culture wars has been ongoing for quite some time now. His professed fear of America devolving into a "secular atheist country" was his go-to rhetoric since the beginning of the Obama era, and the book title To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine doesn't leave much to the imagination regarding where he stands on "values."

It's still worth noting that the latest supposed front-runner in the GOP 2012 field continues to claim that school teachers, activist judges, and George Clooney are all dragging American society right back into the dark ages of the Reign of Terror.

Perhaps all the comparisons to Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia were finally wearing a tad thin.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)

At Saturday's GOP presidential forum in Iowa, newly minted frontrunner Newt Gingrich tore into the Occupy Wall Street movement, pointing to it as a symbol of exactly what's wrong with America. "All the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we all owe them everything," he explained. "That is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country, and why you need to reassert something as simple as saying to them, 'Go get a job, right after you take a bath'":

Take that, hippies! Gingrich's zinger is part of an age-old argument on the right, which feebly insists that unemployment is actually caused by systematic laziness on the part of the unemployed rather than structural problems. Which isn't to say OWS went entirely unrepresented at the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines. Prior to the debate, GOP moderator Frank Luntz turned the floor over briefly to an OWS protester and gave him two minutes to explain his grievances. The protester turned out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill Ron Paul supporter, and spent his time railing against the Federal Reserve. America!

h/t Right Wing Watch.

As if to prove Kevin Drum's point that we are fast approaching peak Newt, Fox News reports that the former House speaker is the candidate that Republican voters overwhelmingly trust to have his finger on the nuclear button. Dave Weigel at Slate flags the results:








Maybe they misunderstood the question and thought Fox was asking: "Which Republican presidential candidate would you most expect to survive a nuclear explosion?" We are, after all, talking about a guy whose political career looked like "The Day After" back in 1998.

In any case, the most important aspect of this poll is that it gave me an excuse to play with Photoshop. Happy pre-Thanksgiving weekend, everyone!

You'd think that after flubbing a question on Libya earlier this week in a meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Herman Cain might have done himself a favor by reading a newspaper article or two on the subject, or maybe even just the Wikipedia summary. Instead, Cain went on CNN this afternoon and warned that "the Taliban" might take over the country now that former Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi is dead:

Do I agree with siding with the opposition? Do I agree with saying that [Qaddafi] should go? Do I agree that they now have a country where you've got Taliban and Al Qaeda that's going to be part of the government? Do I agree with not knowing the government was going to—which part was he asking me about? I was trying to get him to be specific and he wouldn't be specific.

Now look, it's fair to worry about how Libya's transitional government will handle issues like the large number of armed militias or human rights and the rule of law. But this answer reflects particularly poorly on Cain, and not just because there is no Taliban in Libya, and no evidence that Al Qaeda is "going to be part of the government." It's because the only thing he was able to muster after minutes of hemming and hawwing during his disastrous meeting earlier this week was that he "would have done a better job" than Obama "of determining who the opposition is."

Now how exactly is anyone supposed to believe that, as president, Cain would have done a better job of finding out who the opposition is when he can't even be bothered to know who they are now?

On Saturday, the GOP presidential field—sans Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman—will gather at the First Federated Church in Des Moines for what's being billed as the "first of its kind" Thanksgiving Family Forum. It's a chance for the candidates to make their pitch to the state's social conservative caucus voters. Frank Luntz, the pollster and Fox News personality who's moderating the event, promises there will be "no gotcha questions by the panel. No spin by the politicians. Just an authentic discussion among the people who seek to lead this great nation." Well, he's probably right about the gotcha questions.

The absence of Romney and Huntsman is notable because they are both Mormon—a serious issue at the most recent social conservative confab. But in light of recent events, perhaps the bigger story is this: The event is being co-sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM!), which just this week promoted an op-ed arguing that gays were responsible for the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.

Per Equality Matters, NOM's site excerpted a piece from anti-gay activist Michael Brown. The column went after Rush Limbaugh, of all people, for not having the courage to publicly link what happened at Penn State to the gay agenda:

He takes on the president, the Congress, and the media (not to mention his derisive attacks on foreign leaders and even radical Muslims), but there's one group he won't take on, one subject he won't touch.

What is it that, in his words, could end his career? What is it about the Penn State scandal that is "glaring; it's right in front of everybody," and yet "nobody has the guts to actually give the explanation for what was going on and why there was trepidation in reporting it"?

Could it be that the sex abuse scandal involved a man allegedly abusing boys, meaning that the acts were homosexual in nature? And could it be that even Rush Limbaugh didn't have the guts to address this?

Huntsman, who not coincidentally has failed to gain traction in the polls, has been the GOP's voice of reason on social issues. Asked about his support for civil unions at a July debate in Iowa, Huntsman stated: "I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality." Earlier this year, Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed NOM's marriage pledge, commiting to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and to "appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters." You can watch the forum, Saturday at 5 p.m., here.

An Assembly member in Wisconsin is the latest anti-abortion lawmaker to introduce a "personhood" measure, which would define human life as beginning at the unification of a sperm and egg.

Assembly Joint Resolution 77, introduced on Thursday, amends the state constitution to strike the word "born" from the line of the constitution declaring that "All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The measure also adds the line, "As applied to the right to life, the terms 'people' and 'person' shall apply to every human being at any stage of development."

Even though Mississippi voters overwhelmingly rejected this kind of measure last week, anti-abortion lawmakers in Georgia and a number of other states want to try passing it as well.

The bill's lead sponsor is Republican Andre Jacque. Abortion is a top issue for Jacque, and something he was active on as president of the Pro-Life Action League as a student at the University of Wisconsin in the early 2000s. In the Assembly, he's also championed a measure to honor so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" and defund Planned Parenthood in the state. He lists previous memberships in Pro-Life Wisconsin and Wisconsin Right to Life on his official bio.

"It's actually a flaw in our current constitution where you have to be born in order to access inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Jacque argues.

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich thinks Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) should be thrown in jail. The feeling's mutual.

To date, the one-liner of the 2012 presidential campaign belongs to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who in an interview with Chris Matthews on Thursday, said of Newt Gingrich's consulting company, "'Frankly, I thought the 'Gingrich Group' were his wives." (Gingrich has been married three times—zing!)

Frank rarely needs an excuse to pop off, and Gingrich has given him plenty in recent months. At a debate in October, for instance, the former House speaker called for Frank and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to be thrown in jail for their ties to the mortgage industry, which is not the kind of charge you just casually throw out.

So, what's at the root of the Gingrich-Frank hate-fest? 

It depends on who you ask. Frank's explanation speaks to an underlying criticism of the former Speaker: "I despise Gingrich because of the negative effect he has had on American politics." As he told Mother Jones in 1995, he thinks Gingrich is a phony intellectual driven only by a lust for power: "That's why he says so many wrong things: He doesn't know a lot about substance. He half-reads some future-oriented books and out of that comes a gabble that's not terribly coherent." Boom.

Henry Kissinger.

Basically, here's Henry Kissinger doing his best Larry David.

The AP reports, based on recently released State Department documents from late 1972:

The White House...sought to assure the American Jews that Nixon was very concerned about the plight of Soviet Jews, had taken up the issue with Soviet leaders directly...A White House official, Leonard Garment, saying he was flooded with letters and phone calls with Jewish appeals, asked Kissinger for help and guidance...According to transcripts released by the State Department, Kissinger...said to Garment: "Is there a more self-serving group of people than the Jewish community?" Kissinger is Jewish.

Garment, also Jewish, replied: "None in the world."

At this point, Kissinger was quoted as saying "What the hell do they think they are accomplishing?...You can't even tell bastards anything in confidence because they'll leak it." But Kissinger said he would take up the issue with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and also meet again with Jewish leaders. "They ought to remember what this administration has done," he said.

Let's take a second to review the historical context: Following Israel's decisive victory in the Six-Day War, there was a massive uptick in the emigration of Soviet Jewry from the USSR to the Jewish homeland. The desire to resettle was also fueled by the fact that anti-Semitism—in media, the education system, the work force, and so on—was, at the time, pervasive in the Soviet Union. Due to the USSR's mangled, biased emigration process, many Jewish leaders, including then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, sought the influence of the Nixon White House to secure safe travel for thousands of Russian and Eastern Bloc Jews.

There you have it: the bastard-ly, self-serving (and apparently loose-lipped) impulse of the Jew to escape mass persecution and cultural eradication.

Given some of Kissinger's other Nixon-era remarks about Jews, these latest revelations aren't particularly shocking. In December 2010, the New York Times reported that in the freshest batch of audio tapes released by the Nixon Library—which also include the former president making "disparaging remarks about Jews, blacks, Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans in a series of extended conversations with top aides and his personal secretary"—then-National Security Advisor Kissinger was recorded saying the following, after Golda Meir's visit to the White House in March 1973:

The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.

So really, the latest Kissinger news is just more of the grotesque, unsettling same.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich has had a tough time during this presidential campaign discussing the individual mandate. Republicans—especially tea partiers—tend to consider the individual mandate (which compels people to obtain health insurance) the worst part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. For them, it is a symbol of Obama's big-government, anti-freedom, socialistic ways. And Gingrich has been tap-dancing around this issue for months. Last May, he said he supported "some requirement" to "have insurance," but quickly afterward issued a campaign video declaring he was "completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals." In a recent debate, he acknowledged that he had endorsed the individual mandate in the early 1990s, but claimed he had done so only as a tactical maneuver in opposition to Hillary Clinton's health care proposal at the time. The clear implication: that was then, now I don't. But yesterday, I reported that his for-profit health policy outfit, the Center for Health Transformation, has for years pushed a health care plan that would, according to the group's website, "require that anyone who earms more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond." In other words, an individual mandate.

Gingrich's campaign did not respond to a request for an explanation. I suppose he could say that he did not agree with all the policies of his own center or that the mandate envisioned by this proposal would be a state-imposed obligation, not a federally imposed one (such as the "Obamacare mandate" Gingrich so fervently opposes). But a 2007 column he posted on the Center's website affords him no wiggle room whatsoever. In that article, Gingrich wrote,

In order to make coverage more accessible, Congress must do more, including passing legislation to: establish a national health insurance marketplace by giving individuals the freedom to shop for insurance plans across state lines; provide low-income families with $1,000 in direct contributions to a health savings account, along with a $2,000 advanced tax credit to purchase an HSA-eligible high-deductible health plan; make premiums for these plans tax deductible; provide tax rebates to small businesses that contribute to their employees’ HSAs; extend and expand grant funding to high-risk pools across the country; and require anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year to purchase health insurance or post a bond. [Emphasis added.]

My, my. Gingrich, under his own byline, was calling for Congress to impose an "Obamacare"-like federal mandate on individuals throughout the land. There's no way he can talk—or even lie—himself out of this.