Spineless


, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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Rick Santorum is another one of the GOP candidates for president who should be roundly and openly “refudiated” for lacking the moral courage to confront and correct a lie when given the opportunity.  You can read about his cowardly approach to a questioner’s assertion that President Obama is a “Muslim” here. The article goes on to say even John McCain corrected someone when faced with a similar situation during the 2008 campaign, but Santorum chose to play to the fear of the crowd and let the statement go unanswered.  His even lamer excuse that it’s not his responsibility to correct every misguided claim only leads one to wonder if elected how would he address lies that affect the national interest.  Would he be as pusillanimous with them as well?  Would he lead the country into war because he is unable to correct mistaken notions about adversaries, or believe that the people on the other end of the lie  should be thick skinned enough to withstand US military intervention?  America, these are the choices the GOP has presented us;  the likes of people who aspire to be our leaders and lead based on racial animosity, loathing, hatred, and fear.  Perhaps the GOP has become irrelevant to the life of this Nation….perhaps it’s time to “refudiate” the entire Party of people who want to take the country in this direction.  Then of course, there’s Ron Paul……..

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Gingrich is back to divisive politics


English: Former U.S. Representative and Speake...

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Newt Gingrich has been reported to have said

I think we need to have a government that respects our religions. I’m a little bit tired of being lectured about respecting every other religion on the planet. I’d like him(Obama) to respect our religion.

This is typical Gingrich cowardice, appearing before a crowd that wants to be pandered too, making divisive and inflammatory remarks to appeal to the very basic instinct of his constituents. Nothing lofty or inspiring about Gingrich during this campaign.

One just has to ask, what religion of his does Gingrich want respected.  First off, let’s eliminate Islam.  It’s not one of the religions he thinks government should respect, even though he spoke in the plural. It should be…it’s one of the many religions that inhabit our shores, but Gingrich doesn’t think it necessarily belongs here and he’s been quite provocative in saying so…likening Muslims to Nazis, promoting the idea that Islamic religious places of worship and where they are built should be determined by the government, that a liberal establishment favors Islam over Christianity, thereby trying to minimize Christian influence while inflating or insuring Muslim domination, etc.  Of course all of this is an indirect reference to Obama’s questionable, in the mind of the Tea Party member, ancestry or origin.  In other words, Gingrich is playing the race card; he’s pandering to the racial and religious prejudices of a certain segment of the population in order to gain political power and or influence.  That’s also known as demagoguery, which has become a staple of the GOP stable in this new epoch.

But Gingrich is also guilty of an even more perverse hypocrisy involving his own Christian faith.  He was raised Lutheran, then became a Southern Baptist in his rise to political power as a congressman for the state of Georgia, and finally upon marrying his third wife  became Roman Catholic.  In other words in his lifetime, Gingrich has embraced three different faith communities while aspiring to become the GOP nominee for president.  In fact, wife #2 asserts his latest conversion is just another attempt at social and political climbing, which also speaks volumes for Gingrich’s sincerity when talking about faith or even public policy. Which one of those “our” religion from the quote above is  Gingrich’s?  Obviously that question is not to be considered. America has been warned repeatedly by people within Gingrich’s sphere of politics, family members, colleagues and pundits of his sinister behavior and duplicity. Let’s hope the repudiation of the Florida electorate to this chameleon is the beginning of the end for his campaign.

Watching the GOP implode


Gingrich just won the SC GOP primary and the rats can’t distance themselves fast enough from him.  A quick look at the GOP’s unofficial news rag, The Drudgereport,  found banner headlines…..ALL of them disparaging Gingrich in such language as to leave no doubt where the allegiances of the “real” conservatives of the party are:

Romney is the most electable candidate not only because it will be nearly impossible for the media to demonize this self-made Mormon square, devoted to his wife and church, but precisely because he is the most conservative candidate.  Ann Coulter

Conservatives should not be surprised by the scandals that lie ahead, if they stick with him(Gingrich). Those of us, who raised the question of character in 1992, were confronted by an indignant Bill Clinton, treating the topic as a low blow. To listen to him, character was the “c” word of American politics. It was reprehensible to mention it. By now we know. Character matters. Paul, Santorum, and Romney have it. Newt has Clinton’s character. R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr.

Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong. Elliott Abrams

All of the folks above have bona fide conservative credentials….as much if not more so than Gingrich himself and they’re telling people that Gingrich….in so many words is a joke!  It doesn’t help Gingrich any that all of this criticism is coming out before the GOP primary in Florida which is less than a week away where polls had shown Gingrich in the lead.  It’s clear this criticism is meant to influence the outcome of that primary and slow Gingrich’s momentum. But it’s not even subtle any more; conservatives and especially those who idolize Reagan are coming out with their fangs bared against Gingrich in a way not seen too often in the GOP and it’s rather entertaining to watch.

Gingrich does have issues, but he is conveniently ensconced in the right party for them.  He’s a demagogue and a race baiter…something he shares with Santorum and Cain and some would say Paul, and he’s a liar. Something he shares with the last Republican administration in the White House.  Check out his latest lie, exposed by CNN regarding his defense against the coming out by his ex-wife  of Gingrich’s alternative lifestyle

“Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday,” King said on tonight’s edition of John King USA. “Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage.”

Producers, sponsors, news directors must be cutting a jig on all the newsroom floors of CNN over this news, especially since Gingrich publicly embarrassed John King to thunderous applause for posing the question about Marianne’s claims in the debate before the SC primary.  Somewhere the God of Justice has just put a smack down on Gingrich’s smugness but like most megalomaniacs Gingrich will neither be humbled or bowed…he’ll merely plod along against the tide of many within his party and outside of it too.  One has to wonder whether the two, Democrat and Republican, won’t team up to get rid of this thorn in everyone’s side.  I could possibly see a bipartisan dirty tricks/black bag group dedicated to spreading  salacious stories emanating of Gingrich’s dark side.  It seems for the moment, Gingrich has even overtaken Obama in raising the ire of conservatives.  Ahh…sometimes payback can be entertaining to watch/read as well as rewarding.

Serve and Protect? If you’re a Muslim in New York city don’t expect it!


Imagine if you lived in a city whose police department regularly looked at films that claim members of your race or religion shoot and terrorize people and showed photographs of victims of terror imposed by your special group of people while stating emphatically every of you was like that and therefore a threat to the security of the country.

Such is the case with the New York City police department which for over a lengthy period of time screened for its officers a film entitled, The Third Jihad.

This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department.

In January 2011, when news broke that the department had used the film in training, a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened “a couple of times” for a few officers.

A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.

During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.

News that police trainers showed this film so extensively comes as the department wrestles with its relationship with the city’s large Muslim community. The Police Department offers no apology for aggressively spying on Muslim groups and says it has ferreted out terror plots.

But members of the City Council, civil rights advocates and Muslim leaders say the department, in its zeal, has trampled on civil rights, blurred lines between foreign and domestic spying and sown fear among Muslims.

“The department’s response was to deny it and to fight our request for information,” said Faiza Patel, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, which obtained the release of the documents through a Freedom of Information request. “The police have shown an explosive documentary to its officers and simply stonewalled us.”

Tom Robbins, a former columnist with The Village Voice, first revealed that the police had screened the film. The Brennan Center then filed its request.

The 72-minute film was financed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan. Its previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.

…….Repeated calls over the past several days to the Clarion Fund, which is based in New York, were not answered. The nonprofit group shares officials with Aish HaTorah, an Israeli organization that opposes any territorial concessions on the West Bank. The producer of “The Third Jihad,” Raphael Shore, also works with Aish HaTorah.

The people behind this nefarious production, The Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah should be enough to call into question the integrity of such a video.  Both organizations are deeply involved in the spread of Islamophobic notions of Muslims in America in a manner consistent with the strategies mentioned in a previous Miscellany101 post here.  I’m also not surprised, but note with more than a bit of sarcasm the presence of a GOP candidate for President being affiliated somehow in this macabre alliance of xenophobes.

the Clarion Fund,……(I)ts previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.

In addition, the NYPD’s denial then admission that the film was ever aired by them and their subsequent position that they did nothing wrong means precisely that they did something wrong.  This adversarial attitude, along with the equally omnipotent  alliance between the NYPD and the CIA has raised more than a few eyebrows, plenty of suspicion and the ire of New York Muslims, some of whom participated in an interfaith boycott last month to protest the city’s increased surveillance of area Muslims after it was revealed the NYPD in coordination with the CIA gathered information on city Muslims who were neither suspected or charged with any crime.  All this is what we KNOW about, albeit with a great deal of diligence at gathering the information and difficulty at getting authorities to respond; no doubt there’s plenty more we don’t know about.  Stay tuned.

A Prophet ignored


Marianne Gingrich stepped up to the plate to warn America about the man, her ex-husband Newt Gingrich, who is running for president and what he’s really like, and America….and in particular the people of South Carolina rejected her.  Ms. Gingrich’s mission in taking to the airwaves was to show the hypocrisy of her former husband who speaks of family values while insisting on having sex with women not his wife; the same man who excoriated Bill Clinton for behavior he, Newt Gingrich, was engaging in at the same time.  But then as now, it’s not about “sex” as it is about trust, honesty, commitment and individual integrity.  How can anyone trust Gingrich seems to be the unspoken plea of Ms. Gingrich and it’s a reasonable question to ask.  Newt Gingrich’s response to that question posed during the GOP debate in South Carolina was typical.  He lashed out at the questioner, the media in general and Obama to the applause of many in the audience which let him completely side step the issue,  and so it has died. Such is the fate of “prophets” whose mission it is to warn people of the consequences of immoral behavior, and like the prophets of old, Ms. Gingrich has become the object of neglect. Let us not forget too that after grave warnings of moral ineptitude, societies which hosted these “prophets” fell into disrepair and ruin.  As our society teeters on the precipice, a faltering economy, an exhausted military, treacherous allies and a society at war with itself on our own shores….can we afford to ignore such warnings?

All those cowering in fear about an impending sharia take over of America, ignore the fear mongerers and fear no more


GOP Presidential Debate June 13, 2011 in New H...

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

It’s all a “myth”, but that’s something I’ve been telling you many times here and at the same time highlighting the incendiary, racist and seditious nature of those who are trying to scare the Nation into enforcing a pogrom against Muslims in America. So, read carefully

If you are not vitally concerned about the possibility of radical Muslims infiltrating the U.S. government and establishing a Taliban-style theocracy, then you are not a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. In addition to talking about tax policy and Afghanistan, Republican candidates have also felt the need to speak out against the menace of “sharia.”

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum refers to sharia as “an existential threat” to the United States. Pizza magnate Herman Cain declared in March that he would not appoint a Muslim to a Cabinet position or judgeship because “there is this attempt to gradually ease sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”

The generally measured campaign of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty leapt into panic mode over reports that during his governorship, a Minnesota agency had created a sharia-compliant mortgage program to help Muslim homebuyers. “As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue,” spokesman Alex Conant assured reporters, “he personally ordered it shut down.”

On Religion
Faith. Religion. Spirituality. Meaning. In our ever-shrinking world, the tentacles of religion touch everything from governmental policy to individual morality to our basic social constructs. It affects the lives of people of great faith — or no faith at all. This series of weekly columns — launched in 2005 — seeks to illuminate the national conversation.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been perhaps the most focused on the sharia threat. “We should have a federal law that says under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will sharia be used,” Gingrich announced at last fall’s Values Voters Summit. He also called for the removal of Supreme Court justices (a lifetime appointment) if they disagreed.

Gingrich’s call for a federal law banning sharia has gone unheeded so far. But at the local level, nearly two dozen states have introduced or passed laws in the past two years to ban the use of sharia in court cases.

Despite all of the activity to monitor and restrict sharia, however, there remains a great deal of confusion about what it actually is. It’s worth taking a look at some facts to understand why an Islamic code has become such a watchword in the 2012 presidential campaign.

What is sharia?

More than a specific set of laws, sharia is a process through which Muslim scholars and jurists determine God’s will and moral guidance as they apply to every aspect of a Muslim’s life. They study the Quran, as well as the conduct and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, and sometimes try to arrive at consensus about Islamic law. But different jurists can arrive at very different interpretations of sharia, and it has changed over the centuries.

Importantly, unlike the U.S. Constitution or the Ten Commandments, there is no one document that outlines universally agreed upon sharia.

Then how do Muslim countries use sharia for their systems of justice?

There are indeed some violent and extreme interpretations of sharia. That is what the Taliban used to rule Afghanistan. In other countries, sharia may be primarily used to govern contracts and other agreements. And in a country like Turkey, which is majority Muslim, the national legal system is secular, although individual Muslims may follow sharia in their personal religious observances such as prayer and fasting. In general, to say that a person follows sharia is to say that she is a practicing Muslim.

How and when is it used in U.S. courts?

Sharia is sometimes consulted in civil cases with Muslim litigants who may request a Muslim arbitrator. These may involve issues of marriage contracts or commercial agreements, or probating an Islamic will. They are no different than the practice of judges allowing orthodox Jews to resolve some matters in Jewish courts, also known as beth din.

U.S. courts also regularly interpret foreign law in commercial disputes between two litigants from different countries, or custody agreements brokered in another country. In those cases, Islamic law is treated like any other foreign law or Catholic canon law.

What about extreme punishments like stoning or beheading?

U.S. judges may decide to consider foreign law or religious codes like sharia, but that doesn’t mean those laws override the Constitution. We have a criminal justice system that no outside law can supersede. Additionally, judges consider foreign laws only if they choose to — they can always refuse to recognize a foreign law.

So if sharia is consulted only in certain cases and only at the discretion of the court, why has it become such a high priority for states and GOP candidates? One answer is that sharia opponents believe they need to act not to prevent the way Islamic law is currently used in the U.S. but to prevent a coming takeover by Muslim extremists. The sponsor of an Oklahoma measure banning sharia approved by voters last fall described it as “a pre-emptive strike.” Others, like the conservative Center for Security Policy, assert that all Muslims are bound to work to establish an Islamic state in the U.S.

But if that was true — and the very allegation labels every Muslim in America a national security threat — the creeping Islamic theocracy movement is creeping very slowly. Muslims first moved to the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, for example, nearly a century ago to work in Henry Ford‘s factories. For most of the past 100 years, Dearborn has been home to the largest community of Arabs in the U.S. And yet after five or six generations, Dearborn’s Muslims have not sought to see the city run in accordance with sharia. Bars and the occasional strip clubs dot the town’s avenues, and a pork sausage factory is located next to the city’s first mosque.

Maybe Dearborn’s Muslims are just running a very drawn-out head fake on the country. It’s hard to avoid the more likely conclusion, however, that politicians who cry “Sharia!” are engaging in one of the oldest and least-proud political traditions — xenophobic demagoguery. One of the easiest ways to spot its use is when politicians carelessly throw around a word simply because it scares some voters.

Take Gerald Allen, the Alabama state senator who was moved by the danger posed by sharia to sponsor a bill banning it — but who, when asked for a definition, could not say what sharia was. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he told reporters. “I wish I could answer you better.” In Tennessee, lawmakers sought to make following sharia a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison — until they learned that their effort would essentially make it illegal to be Muslim in their state.

During last year’s Senate race in Nevada, GOP candidate Sharon Angle blithely asserted that Dearborn, as well as a small town in Texas, currently operate under sharia law. And Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann used the occasion of Osama bin Laden’s death to tie the terrorist mastermind to the word: “It is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

The anti-communist Red Scare of the 1950s made broad use of guilt by innuendo and warnings about shadowy conspiracies. If GOP candidates insist they are not doing the same thing to ordinary Muslims, they can prove it by explaining what they believe sharia is and whether they’re prepared to ban the consideration of all religious codes from civil arbitration. Anything less is simply fear mongering.

fear mongering has become a tenet of the Republican Party and many of those who’ve run for political office in that party; by promoting a non-existing threat Republicans have relegated themselves to a party of irrelevance.  Vote for them at your and the Nation’s peril.

It’s time to call a spade a spade and a bigot a bigot


Muslim bashing by GOP candidates? Nothing new here
By John L. Esposito (I’m glad I’m not the only one who has noticed!)

It’s no surprise that two candidates could not resist playing the “Muslim card” in the recent GOP debate. The bigger surprise is that more candidates did not follow suit.

Park 51 (the plan to build the so-called mosque at ground zero) surfaced the deep roots of fear of Islam and Muslims and triggered a tsunami of hate crimes. Shariah has become the code word and symbol to exploit voters fears and engage in Islam and Muslim-bashing without any push-back because nobody, including most of the candidates, knows what it is. And lets us not forget the Peter King congressional hearings.

Poor Herman Cain knows shariah is a problem, but does not know what it is or why it is a problem? Cain is “uncomfortable” including a Muslim in his cabinet or having one as federal judge because “…there is creeping attempt to gradually ease Shariah Law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong to our government.”

Cain insisted, “There have been instances in New Jersey and Oklahoma where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia Law.” Is he sure? If so, who, when and where? Why does fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey refuse to toe that line? Pressed in the debate as to why he would not be comfortable having a Muslim in his administration, he replied, ‘I wouldn’t be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and militant Muslims – those that are trying to kill us. I meant the ones that are trying to kill us.’ So would he appoint African Americans, Hispanics, Italian-Americans and members of other groups associated with past crime waves or whose members have been imprisoned for violent crimes?

Cain wants to question Muslims about their commitment to the Constitution “to make sure we have people committed to the Constitution working for this country.” But he wouldn’t do the same with Christians or Jews. So much for equality of all citizens.

Newt Gingrich could not afford to be “left” behind: “I’m in favor of saying to people, ‘If you’re not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period.’ We did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists and it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered, after a while, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say no.”

So ALL Muslims, not just an infinitely small number of terrorists, are to be compared to Nazis and communists? Is that the magnitude of the threat? Gingrich and Cain should be real patriots and turn over their evidence to the FBI, Justice Department, Homeland Security and local police because law enforcement offices certainly have not found evidence to support these allegations.

Surprisingly, Tim Pawlenty did not weigh in. Pawlenty has touted the fact that he shut down a program for Sharia compliant mortgages, a program whose creation his administration initially supported. Of course you can’t blame him because, like other candidates, he knows that many potential voters from the right wing of the Republican Party believe Sharia-compliant finance is part of a stealth jihad to subvert the Constitution.

The far right is long on fear mongering and short on providing supportive evidence. They ignore major polls by Gallup, Pew and others that show that the vast majority of Muslims are politically, economically middle class and educationally integrated into American society. Their desire not to be confused by the facts contributes to a growing climate of Islamophobia that has led to discrimination, hate crimes, violence, desecration of mosques and the violation of the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Surveys have shown that Muslims are not looking to install Islamic law in the U.S., promote terrorism or undermine the American Constitution.

Let’s get it right. Should candidates address issues of national security and concerns about Muslim terrorists in America? Of course they should. What candidates have succumbed to is the exploitation of legitimate fear about domestic terrorism with the brush stroking (or perhaps better the tar and feathering) of a faith and the majority of its mainstream believers. Most states that have moved to pass anti-Shariah legislation have not acted because of a major Muslim attempt to replace American law with Islamic law. Indeed, as a mystified Muslim in North Dakota said when a legislator announced he would push for anti-sharia legislation: “There are only 2,000 of us in the entire state.” In fact, there are far more right wing politicians, political commentators and Islamophobes talking about Shariah than the vast majority of American Muslims who, like Jews and Christians and followers of other faiths, accept and follow the Constitution and American laws.

It’s time to call a spade a spade, a bigot a bigot and stop those who would resurrect the intolerance of the past and add Muslims to a long list of groups that has included Jews, African Americans, World War II Japanese Americans and others who have been victims of religious discrimination and racism.