Posts Tagged ‘newt gingrich’

President Ronald Reagan talked about the importance of “openness to people of all beliefs”, and keeping church and state separate. That was less than thirty years ago. Where will we be in another thirty?

– Misspelt URL aside, this account of a Sally Morgan performance, in which the psychic seemed to be channeling a fictional character (whose details she had been prompted with before the show) is quite damning.

– Newt Gingrich is caught professing entirely unsurprising double standards, hammering Obama for something he never criticised Bush for. His excuse: “I wasn’t a presidential candidate at that point”. But now he is, he needs to play to the extremist Republican base, and to hell with consistency.

– Oh science, what hast thou wrought?

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There’s an assumption that Christians doing Jesusy things is never any kind of obstruction to anyone. That you should just get out of their way if they want to Jesus it up at any point. That explicit Jesusification should be expected as the standard, even in official state affairs, and it’s up to you to either move aside or keep quiet if you’re going to stray from this default setting.

So I’m generally inclined to support cases like this, where Christianity is being actively promoted by schools in even some subtle and minor way. It might not be the biggest, wrongest wrong out there, but it’s still wrong, and religious privilege is never going to go away unless things like this are addressed.

But I can understand those who think it’s not worth the fight. Reasonable people can believe that secularist battles like this one are a little petty and unhelpful. I was moderately indifferent to Jessica Ahlquist and her plight, in fact, until the true, despicable face of religious fervour made itself known against her.

That is where the really important fight is. You might not think it’s worth launching a lawsuit against the religious language hanging on a wall in a school hall, or a student-led prayer at a graduation ceremony. But you can probably agree that taking a stand against people who’ll threaten you with death and torture for daring to question their privilege is a more noble fight.

In the above case of the graduation prayer, I haven’t seen anything like the kinds of threats Jessica received (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re out there somewhere). But I have seen Newt Gingrich.

When one district judge supported the plaintiff’s case, Newt said:

…judges appointed for life cannot be dictators and they cannot threaten our children with jail for saying the word ‘prayer.’

Which is just the kind of dramatic, hissy-fit overstatement you’ll be familiar with from religious folk if you follow much atheist activism. Nobody’s threatened anybody with any such thing, as I suspect Newt damn well knows but is hoping his core conservative Christian base will go along with it.

So, when an amended complaint was brought against the school again recently, it was nice to see that same district judge setting the record straight on one or two things in the official court opinion (PDF):

What This Case Has Not Been About

The right to pray.

Any American can pray, silently or verbally, seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, in private as Jesus taught or in large public events as Mohammed instructed.


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– Newt Gingrich knows what’s wrong with US drug policy: not enough people are being killed for carrying handfuls of marijuana.

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance.

Nice analysis of a picture which has apparently been doing the rounds lately, being used to suggest that Obama, unlikely his Republican counterparts, is a down-to-earth man of the people. Uh-huh.

– One school in New York has seen a bizarre spate of a rare medical condition among its students, involving tics similar to those characteristic of Tourette Syndrome. They’re investigating the possibility of some kind of chemical poisoning or memetic virus that will enslave humanity.

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I’m all for more liberal relationship norms. I strongly think we should be striving to break away from the idea that monogamy is some supreme standard we ought all to aspire to. It shouldn’t even be the default mode. It’s working very nicely for me, thank you very much, but it’s high time we stopped having to call it an “alternative” lifestyle if people want to form different-sized groups with different, complex relationship dynamics of their own.

But cheating on your wife for six years, then, when she finds out, asking if you can’t carry on seeing both of them, is not what polygamy is. It’s not a way to bring about a freer and more loving world.

Dammit, Gingrich.

Christina knows the difference:

Here’s how you don’t do polyamory: First you get married to wife #1 (Jackie) and presumably have monogamous vows. Then, you cheat on her. Then she gets cancer and you divorce her while she lay stunned by the news of your affair. Six months later, you marry the woman with whom you cheated on your first wife with (Marianne), presumably having monogamous vows. You have a clandestine affair for six years, then decide you want a divorce so you can marry your mistress. After you tell your current wife you want a divorce, you tell her you will stay with her if she agrees on an open marriage. When she cannot agree, you divorce her and marry your third wife (Callista).

As my friend TheNerd said, “Comparing Gingrich to polyamory is like comparing wife-beating to BDSM.”

The fact that monogamy might not be for him isn’t why Newt’s not someone we should want as president. The fact that he’s repeatedly demonstrated himself to be a lying, cheating ass? That bodes less well.

The writer of a Fox News opinion column has a hilarious take on all this:

Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.

Yeah. And he’s been so unmoved by any sense of compassion for each of them in turn that he’s responded to their affections by treating them like dirt. This is not a sign of such “energy and intellect” that we should be holding him up as a paragon of leadership and conviction. This is a sign of being a self-centred douche.

Mind you, you know what’s really “despicable” about the number of wives Newt’s cheated on? Daring to bring it up while he’s trying to persuade people that he’s a legitimate candidate for the highest political office in the country.

Now that’s low.

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– Surprise surprise, the misguided and patronising religious response to Christopher Hitchens’s death is well underway. Some of the best examples of Christian charity came from Twitter, rather nicely demonstrating just how right Hitch was.

Newt Gingrich is going to be faithful, to this wife. Third time’s a charm, and he’s made a special pledge to maintain “personal fidelity”. So you know he’s serious. Not every life partner gets one of those.

– North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il has died. There’s a lot about him that was obviously hilarious, but let’s not forget just how completely, seriously fucked up his regime has been.

– Ugh. Kevin Trudeau. Just… ugh.

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I didn’t plan to. I don’t really care about it much. But I’ve reached the point where I’m prepared to attempt to say something interesting in a not-caring sort of way.

Some people are getting very angry indeed about Anthony Weiner’s penis, and what he’s been doing with it, which seems to amount to talking about it and showing it off to someone, in private conversations, in a way that eventually became publicly known. In almost all cases, their righteous anger seems rather misguided.

One person who may have a legitimate cause to be pissed off with him is his wife. It’s likely (though I don’t know if anyone’s actually checked) that, as part of their relationship agreement, Anthony Weiner had implicitly agreed with his wife that he wouldn’t exchange certain kinds of explicit messages and pictures with anyone who wasn’t her.

Even this is a bit of an assumption. It’s possible they had a marriage in which his flirting with other women was entirely permitted, and broke no faith between them, and they’ve simply decided that admitting to this much sexual liberation might actually damage his reputation more in the eyes of the American people (or the American media, or the opposing half of American politics) than letting everyone think he’s a philanderer.

This is purely speculation, and not worth dwelling on in the absence of any actual facts, but it’s relevant to the question of how harshly Anthony Weiner should be judged for what he did.

Either way, I don’t really see how it’s anyone else’s business. If you weren’t in any kind of relationship with the guy, why should you care?

The people outside his circle of personal relationships who come closest to having an opinion that matters are the ones he represents. New York’s 9th congressional district voted him in, and maybe some of them will choose not to do that any more because of his recent actions.

Of course they’re entitled to do that. Marital fidelity is important to a lot of people, and if you’re considering whether to vote for someone, it’s entirely valid for your decision to be swayed by ways in which they’ve behaved that run counter to your values. But having a sexually charged online relationship with someone while being married to someone else is a wholly apolitical act. It’s not obvious that it affects his ability to do his job in any way. And if the people of his district still think he’s the best man to represent them, even knowing what they now know, what could be wrong with letting them?

Hell, Newt Gingrich has had multiple affairs, is onto his third wife, and we’re still acting like he has a shot of getting a majority of the country to vote for him as President. His political career doesn’t seem to have been derailed at all by far more egregious wrongdoings.

One key difference, of course, is that we haven’t seen any provocative pictures that Gingrich took of himself. With Anthony Weiner, it’s all been brought out in the open. That’s what makes it so popular to see it as icky and comical. It’s rather depressing that the correct response, on learning that somebody sent another person candid photos with the intent to arouse, is apparently to find this both creepy and amusingly pathetic. Even if it was entirely solicited and successful in its intent, but only if the sender is male.

Relatively little of the corresponding judgment is actually to do with the infidelity (the only part of this whole business with the potential to hurt anyone). I suspect the response would have been largely the same if Anthony Weiner had been single.

Newt Gingrich actually had sex with people behind his wife’s back. More than once, with more than one wife. But that’s an abstract thing we find far less distasteful, because mercifully he never filmed it (or at least such a tape never made its way onto the news).

It’s been suggested that Anthony Weiner should either resign or hold some sort of special election, to measure the voters’ opinions in the direct wake of the scandal. The thing about that is, it’s actually quite a low bar to set. There’s a lot of lying and broken promises in politics, often on subjects far more politically relevant than who showed who their penis. These are things which could also give a congressman’s or senator’s constituents a genuine reason to reconsider whether they want him or her to represent them.

Until he turns up to a House meeting in a gimp mask, Anthony Weiner’s sexual proclivities really have no bearing on the political process. Saying he’s not fit to be a public representative because he’s capable of enjoying sexual acts in ways that aren’t socially approved of is on a par with saying that America could never have a female president because she might nuke Russia when it’s her time of the month.

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Newt Gingrich is running for President.

I’ve only really found out who he is over the past few weeks. If you’re also new to Newt, he’s a Republican politician, of the kind who campaigns against gay rights on a “family values” platform while working his way through three marriages.

If he sounds like the kind of fun guy you want to get to know better, Mother Jones has a pretty good start. Among my favourites:

Asked whether he agrees with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s comments that opposition to the Bush administration’s Iraq policy is tantamount to appeasing Hitler, Gingrich responds, “Yes.”

Gingrich tells Bill O’Reilly that “there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us.” The gay and secular fascist movement, Gingrich charges, is “prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it.”

Gingrich warns that Obama’s agenda “would mean the end of America as it has been for the last 400 years.”

Yep. Obama’s trying to ruin what your country’s been like, consistently and without incident, since the year 1600. Every American citizen from all 63 states should be outraged.

Vote for Newt.

[Late edit: Ooh, here’s some more.]

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