Tag Archives: Newt Gingrich

They believe in nothing

Two semi-related items today.  First, here's Newt Gingrich's version of the secularism has caused mass shootings argument, from Thinkprogress:

When you have an anti-religious, secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive God out of public life, something fills the vacuum. And that something, you know, I don’t know that going from communion to playing war games in which you practice killing people is necessarily an improvement.

What is "secular bureaucracy"?  Is it anything not identifical with the Cardinalium Collegium?  And the secular judiciary?  I wonder what kinds of judgements a non-secular judiciary would or could impose.  I'll leave that to you as an exercise.

Second item.  Here is DougJ at Balloon Juice on the Megan McArdle comment the other day. 

In case you missed ABL’s post yesterday, this appears to be Megan McArdle’s principled libertarian position on preventing mass shootings:

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once

For now, people are mostly making fun of this idiocy (Sullivan; Chait; Josh Marshall), but I wonder: how long til someone at Slate takes the contrarian position “sure, it’s easy to mock Megan McArdle for saying this but once you get past the conventional wisdom of our hippie overlords you will see the logic, and, empirically, the Finns have a proud tradition of shooter-rushing, which children learn from an early age, and they have a much lower rate of mass shootings blah blah blah”.

Yes, I too wonder whether McArdle will get iron-manned.  Another exercise: let's see some Iron Men of McArdle's argument.



You ain’t just (dog)whistling Dixie

Newt Gingrich suggested that Romney serve Chick-fil-a at the Republican convention (reported in Newsmax here). 

I certainly think that the Romney campaign would be smart to serve Chick-fil-A at the convention for one occasion. I think that would send a pretty clear signal to people without having done very much except to make it happen.

Now, there's the first read of this, which is, I think, what Newsmax has in mind: that Romney, who's seen as having missed an opportunity to show his cultural conservative bona fides with the chicken sandwich issue, can make clear that he stands with opponents of gay marriage with a small token.  But I have a bit more of a less optimistic reading of what Newt communicated with this.  I think he's asking for Romney to make the move only to show just how weak Romney is on cultural issues important to conservatives. (Does anyone remember the "who's a real conservative?" issue in the Republican Primaries?)  And if Romney doesn't make the move, then even worse for him.  Gingrich was clear in the primaries that he didn't see Romney as a real conservative, and this suggestion here has ambiguous import on that issue. Here's another way to put my second point:  Gingrich, with the second sentence, is implicating that Romney hasn't been clear on the issue.  That's enough for social conservatives. 

Today in nutpicking

It is good, every now and then, to take a look at the kind hateful bile that spews forth from internet commenters.  Charles Johnson, former right wing blogger, takes a look at Fox News commenters on Obama and the Trayvon Martin case.

Still nutpicking, sadly, but here was Newt Gingrich's reaction to Obama.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich harshly criticized President Obama for commenting on Trayvon Martin’s race as he extended condolences to the 17-year-old shooting victim’s parents on Friday. Obama said, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” a remark that Gingrich said he found “disgraceful” and “appalling.”

“What the president said, in a sense, is disgraceful,” Gingrich said on Sean Hannity’s radio show. “It’s not a question of who that young man looked like. Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background.

Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him? That’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot. It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban, or if he had been white, or if he had been Asian-American, or if he’d been a Native American. At some point, we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”

In a normal argument, Gingrich's hypothetical would not be followed by very conclusive assertions using the hypothetical as evidence.  Because, after all, this is cleary not what the President was suggesting.

He is enough of a historian

Some may have heard of Saul Alinsky from Fox News or Newt Gingrich (same thing, of course).  The Chicago Tribune has a short piece on a book about him.  It included the following puzzling remark by the book's author:

"Newt realizes this is just an act, saying Alinsky is a dangerous radical. Gingrich is enough of a historian to know what Alinsky was about," Horwitt said. "This is something that he is feeding to a part of the conservative right. (Alinsky) was not a bomb-throwing radical by any means."

Newt, you mean, is lying.

Not sure if Troll, or just illustration of Poe’s Law part #1834

The other day I posted something on Senator Grassley's attempt to find a contradiction in Democrats' support for more robust child labor laws–it would keep children from being physically active, he said.  That sounded like a joke–but it wasn't.  Now comes Keith Ablow, of Fox News, arguing that Newt Gingrich's adultery makes him a better candidate for President than non-adulterers.  He argues:

1) 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.

2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married.

3 ) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.

Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.

The people, by whom I mean three women who have been married to Gingrich, have spoken.  Clearly the nation as a whole will like him.  There's more:

4) Two women—Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives—have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.

Conclusion: I can only hope Mr. Gingrich will be as direct and unsparing with the Congress, the American people and our allies. If this nation must now move with conviction in the direction of its heart, Newt Gingrich is obviously no stranger to that journey.

Hm. Not sure if Ablow means he hopes Gingrich dumps the US for a younger, sexier country, which he will carry on a secret affair with (Iran maybe).

Analogy and hypocrisy

Cal Thomas thinks Newt Gingrich is being unfairly criticized for his consulting work for Freddie Mac.  The charges of hypocrisy, he holds, are off base.  Here's the defense:

That Gingrich took money from Freddie Mac, an agency he now derides, may seem like hypocrisy to some, but not to me. I, for example, think the Department of Agriculture should be closed, though I once worked for them. I also received a student loan, which I repaid, though I am now critical of how some of the government's student loan programs are run. I attended public schools, but believe parents ought to be able to send their kids to a private school if it promises to offer a better education. Am I hypocritical?

I wonder what Thomas would have to say to someone who said: Yes, all that is hypocritical.  Now, it may be the case that Thomas worked for the DOA and thereby learned that they don't do anything worthwhile.  So he believes that the agency should be shut down.  He may have taken a student loan because it was a sweet deal.  Now he sees that the government shouldn't give such sweet deals, because it can't be on the hook for the loans.  And it may be the case that he attended a public school, but because there were no other options.  So he now believes there should be private school options, too.  That's the story to tell.  In these cases, we have someone who was part of the system being criticized who saw something negative about it and now has critical things to say.  That's perfectly intelligible. And it's not hypocrisy. (My own view is that he's not a hypocrite, just wrong)

But are these cases analogous to the Gingrich case?  I don't think so, as Newt knew what Freddie Mac was about before he took the consulting job. He had choices of alternatives as what companies or corporations to be an advocate for.  If he's hired as a consultant, he should be knowledgeable enough to know what he's getting into. Thomas may not be a hypocrite for the incongruity between his past and his current views, but that's not enough to get Newt off the hook for the hypocrisy charge.

But now a broader question:  of what relevance is the hypocrisy charge against Gingrich, to begin with?  There's already so much about the guy I don't like, the fact that he's a hypocrite about this is not very important.  But I think the importance of the point is more for deep red Republicans.  Hypocrisy, especially on an issue like this at a time like this, is really important to anyone who is looking for the right (right-wing) fiscal conservative.  If Newt has a history of getting into bed with failed companies  that contributed to the mess, it's harder to sell him as someone who can fix it.  The issue, really, isn't his hypocrisy, but his judgment generally. 

There’s an argument for that

Maybe someone can do a spoof of that Apple "there's an app for that" commercial replacing "argument" for "app."  Here are two possibilities. 

First, Newt Gingrich–the stupid man's idea of what a smart person sounds like–argues that Child Labor Laws ought to be repealed.  Seriously, this was practically what I had assigned to my Phil 210 course this year as a troll assignment: they had to argue that children ought to work–or ought not to be prohibited (with child labor laws, etc.) from working–in coal mines.  His argument

This is something that no liberal wants to deal with," Gingrich said. "Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.

"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model," he said. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."

Interesting choice of words. The second is a variation on the argument that pizza is a vegetable.  Pepper spray is "a food product, essentially", one squirt and you're South of the Border.  Where would one find this?  Why Fox News of course.  Video here.

O'Reilly: "First of all, pepper spray, that just burns your eyes, right?"

Kelly: "Right, I mean it's like a derivative of actual pepper.  It's a food product, essentially.  But a lot of experts are looking at that and saying is that the real deal or has it been diluted because–"

O'Reilly: "They should have more of a reaction than that."

Kelly: "That's really besides the point, it was obviously something that was abrasive and intrusive.  Several went to the hospital."

Tastes like burning (someone–can't remember where–beat me to that one). 

Anyway, here's one more from the archives.  Do you do something that contradicts your stated principles?  Well, Ayn Rand has an argument for that.  It's not wrong for you, because you object to it.  Do you disagree with all forms of public welfare but collect it?  It's not wrong if and only if you think such things are wrong.

The recipient of a public scholarship is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarships, have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not in its victims.

And so on.  Much more in our archives. 

My leadership trackrecord is irrelevant to my leadership

Newt Gingrich replied to Chris Wallace (Fox's only real news reporter), when Wallace asked about Gingrich's staff resigning, alleging that he lacked seriousness or the will to win, (or really the political judgment relevant to governing) as follows:

Well, let me say first of all, Chris, that I took seriously Bret’s injunction to put aside the talking points. And I wish you would put aside the gotcha questions … I’d love to see the rest of tonight’s debate asking us about what we would do to lead an America whose president has failed to lead, instead of playing Mickey Mouse games. (video here)

But why is this a 'gotcha' question?  The campaign staff thought Gingrich wasn't serious about the campaign.  If Newt cared about the ideas (he is an ideas man), then he'd stick it out for their sake, instead of taking the cruise, wouldn't he?  Wouldn't that be leadership?

The informal logic point: aren't some tu quoque arguments appropriate?  That is, don't they show that if some person S is inconsistent in supporting view p, even in cases where it is clearly in S's interest, then isn't S insincere?

Marriage is between one man and a series of women

Disgraced former Speaker of the House and current Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich on Gay Marriage:

"I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I think that's what marriage ought to be and I would like to find ways to defend that view as legitimately and effectively as possible."

Getting hetero-married over and over (Gingrich is on his third wife) is not perhaps one of those ways.

In other news–every read this awesome post by Scott and Rob Talisse at 3 Quarks Daily.

Another squirmish* in the culture wars

In the category of self-refuting worries (by now noticed by all of the web), here is disgraced former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich:

"I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

A secular atheist country dominated by religious fundamentalists.