Thomas L. Knapp: ‘The Ted Cruz-Gary Johnson Connection … And it Ain’t Pretty’

Thomas L. Knapp at Knappster:

For some time, inquiring minds have wanted to know: What’s up with Gary Johnson versus TEH MOOOSLIMS?

On the day he announced his 2016 presidential campaign, he made it a point to tell no fewer than three reporters in three different interviews that as president he would sign legislation to ban burqas. He semi-retracted that the next day, pretending that he’d only said it once and in answer to a question and throwing out some “burqas are bad because Muslims can beat their wives” weirdness (he’s still doing that, as you’ll see in the video below). But it pretty clearly was something that had been on his mind for some time, that he wanted to talk about, and that he thought would be a good lead-in to another presidential campaign.

Since then, whenever Islam or Muslims come up in his public appearances and debates, he goes into a weird sort of glossolalia, spouting weird stuff about “sharia law” as if he knows what it is and has done some kind of hard policy thinking about its implications. It’s pretty obviously that he doesn’t and hasn’t, as he made abundantly clear in Pennsylvania last weekend when a Muslim debate moderator asked him some basic questions on the topic:

Will Coley of Muslims4Liberty has, for obvious reasons, been following this matter with some interest. “I’ve been watching Gary since we first met in 2010,” says Coley in an email exchange with yours truly. “He seemed a rather calm and rational fellow, we did a couple events together, and that was about it. This year however I noticed a troubling trend, of Gary adopting some of the right’s more insane rhetoric, particularly in the area of Muslim and Middle Eastern policy.”

On closer examination, Coley connects Johnson’s focus on — and complete disconnect from reality with respect to — Muslims to one person: Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. of the Center for Security Policy.

I think Coley may be on to something.

In his keynote address at last October’s FreedomFest NYC, Johnson bragged that he’s “shariah-phobic” — a term associated for years, both positively and negatively, with Gaffney.

When challenged on his knowledge of sharia, Johnson urges debate audiences to “Google sharia versus the Constitution.” Give it a try. The first link such a search brings up is to a PDF from Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. The next three top links all cite Gaffney and/or CSP. In the debate video above, Johnson basically just ticks through Gaffney’s talking points in that paper.

So, does the name Frank Gaffney ring any bells? If you just can’t place him, here’s a little help:

Ted Cruz on Monday night defended his decision to include an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist on his foreign policy team.

“Frank Gaffney is a serious thinker who has been focused on fighting jidahists, fighting jihadism across the globe,” Cruz said of the Center for Security Policy founder.

How serious is Gaffney as a thinker?

Well, he claims that both “conservatarian” anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin are secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

And that the US Missile Defense Agency’s logo “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo” as an “act of submission to Sharia by President Obama and his team.”

And that Barack Obama may be a Kenyan-born Indonesian Muslim.

In other words, cuckoo for Coco Puffs[TM] in a big way.

I’m can’t say I’m surprised that he’s advising Ted Cruz on national security.

But I’m somewhat dismayed that he’s also a Libertarian presidential candidate’s chief source of information on a major world religion, so much so that Johnson seems to have either had the bejabbers scared out of him and become completely deranged like a character in a Lovecraft story, or else thinks that he’s onto a gimmick he can use to get Libertarians to hide under our beds and write checks to his campaign committee.

19 thoughts on “Thomas L. Knapp: ‘The Ted Cruz-Gary Johnson Connection … And it Ain’t Pretty’

  1. Michelle Catlin

    Your obsession with Gary Johnson seems very pety. And this conspiracy nonsense doesn’t help either.

    Sharia is absolutely a violent law that’s antithetical to the constitution, and you don’t have to be a “neocon” or have “evil connections with someone else” to come to that conclusion.

  2. Steven Berson

    I was a big supporter of GJ’s in the 2012 election, including being someone that was part of an early effort to have him change from the GOP primary to the LP’s – and was a delegate to the National Convention in 2012 that voted for him. But I do have to say that I was seriously dismayed almost to the point of embarrassment during this year’s early media appearances as he announced his entry to the election – where he used up good amounts of precious few minutes of mainstream broadcast where he could highlight libertarian principles – filling it instead with his “Sharia law” schpiel.
    While I still help to provide content to a pro-GJ2016 social media site between this and the lack of transparency regarding his 2012 campaign’s finances it certainly has made me question whether to give any further support, even though I really like GJ as a person and find that he still remains way preferable to any of the D or R candidates. Based on time spent hanging out with GJ – it seems unlikely that he is doing this as a way of pandering to Republican voters but more likely is based on knowing limited information and taking to heart some of the misinformation he found.

    fwiw – I’ve met Hesham El-Meligy briefly in NY and voted for his nomination in 20132 as the candidate for NYC LP’s Comptroller and thought he ran a decent enough campaign and came off as a principled libertarian to me. Hopefully he and GJ had some discussions regarding this which might have had a positive influence on GJ’s future rhetoric on this issue – especially since it seems to me that based on the weakness of other competing candidates GJ will still ultimately gain the LP’s nomination.

  3. robert capozzi

    It’s as if GJ reads one thing he finds persuasive and he doesn’t really doesn’t test it out and listen to the counters. I don’t get the sense that he’s thought and studied on foreign policy as much as he should have.

    Maybe he should get a briefing from the f.p. wonks at Cato, and then come up with a crisper narrative. He gets caught in the weeds like he did here in PA, and it wasn’t pretty. (The questioners were also not especially fair.)

    He might come up with something like: There has been conflict in the ME for hundreds of years. The conflict was largely suppressed by European colonialism and has come to the surface since WWII. US overt and covert meddling has inflamed the situation, leading to blowback and a wave of terrorism.

    We need a serious rethink of the situation. We’ve spent $X on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and what do we have to show for it? ISIS terror attacks? It makes no sense. Just as the US finally realized that the Vietnam War was a quagmire that we only made worse, we need to exit these Middle East conflicts and redirect these funds and resources to doing what America does best: Creating prosperity and maintaining peaceful relations with the rest of the world.

    Look at it this way: We checked Saddam and bin Laden, and the result was ISIS. Even if we can check ISIS, do we really believe that there won’t be ANOTHER ISIS-type organization springing up to take its place?

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is the very definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    And yet that’s exactly what the Rs and Ds are offering us. I say: Enough!

  4. Darcy G Richardson

    “I don’t get the sense that he’s thought and studied on foreign policy as much as he should have.” – Robert Capozzi

    That’s an astute but understated observation, Robert. There’s a reason most serious-minded reporters and pundits in New Mexico during his tenure as governor frequently described him as “flaky,” a kind of space cadet when it came to any kind of thorough understanding of the substantive issues of the day.

    Completely out of his league when it comes to foreign policy (not that he’s any better informed on domestic policy), Gary Johnson probably couldn’t name a dozen world leaders — current prime ministers, presidents, etc. — if his life depended on it.

    He probably couldn’t even identify South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the UN, let alone name a couple of his predecessors.

    As incredible as it sounds, the former New Mexico governor, one of the most clueless individuals to ever seek the presidency, almost makes Donald Trump seem like a foreign policy wonk.

  5. robert capozzi

    dgr, the bar is lower for a pol who basically can’t win. BUT, he should have strong, basic narratives to handle maybe 20 issues.

    I don’t expect GJ to be a “wonk.” I do think he should be a smooth communicator, even in a Jimmy Stewart kind of way. He still needs a lot of work in the basics. Show up. Remind folks he’s a former guv. Have a basic rap fluidly delivered.

    If he can’t go deep on a subject, have lifesaver outs to tactfully evade issues. Answer the question you want to, giving lipservice to the questioner.

    At this stage, unless he gets some serious coaching, I almost don’t want him to get in the debates. I say this as someone who generally likes GJ, appreciate that he’s taking the time out of his life to do this, but I don’t get the sense that he’s doing the right kind of preparation.

  6. Shane

    Gaffney is a human turd. Make no mistake. The attempts to destroy Grover (along with Glenn Beck’s smirking participation) are beyond the pale.

    Linking Johnson to Gaffney then Cruz is a stretch.

    Johnson is a foreign policy lightweight and more than likely just googled that himself.

    Knapp’s piece is just an attempt to smear Johnson when he could have just called the man up and asked, “Hey Gary, are you being advised by that piece of shit Gaffney?”

    So TK, why write a piece like that when the subject is so accessible and could have been immediately known, rather than wildly speculated on? Because you’d lose the substance of your hit piece?

  7. robert capozzi

    SC, don’t forget: TK wants NOTA as a means to cleanse the LP of the stench of 2 failed Rs as standardbearers.

    He’s calling for penance: Father Spooner, forgive us, we have been miserable sinners, losing our NAP way. Let us turn inward, to re-committ ourselves to our Great Multi-Millenial Cause against the Dark Forces, the Cult of the Omnipotent State!!! 😉


    Forty five years in, where is our LP expert on both foreign and domestic affairs who also has executive and political experience, wide spread name recognition, and no skeletons in the closet? Maybe one or more who fit this description are out there but reluctant to run because they would not have either ground game support or sufficient financing. So the LP has to pick from those who step forward, flaws and all. And the delegates will have to decide on running a pure principled Libertarian who will be almost totally disregarded by mildly interested voters, or running a Libertarian lite who an focus on several important issues and maybe get some mildly interested voters to put their foot in our door and eventually learn
    more about pure principles.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp


    The word “smear” implies something that’s untrue. Feel free to name anything in the article that’s not true.

    As far as Johnson being “accessible” it took me four years to get him to answer the last question I asked him.

  10. George Phillies

    ATBAFT: There are more than two candidates in the race, and choices much better than the ones you described, assuming I am linking the right names to your choices.

    For four

    And while Perry has his strange ideas on donations, the LNC can run an independent campaign of unlimited size, meaning the donations in real money to advertise for Perry could simply go through the LNC (which, incidentally, has a much higher limit on donations than ).

  11. Shane

    TK, saying Gaffney is his chief source of information (because he googled it) is a stretch. Linking anyone to Gaffney in my book is a smear — although in the case of Cruz, the dude chose to smear himself with the association.

    Fair enough on contact with Johnson. Figured he’d be more accessible — I’ll try calling him myself.

    RC, the LP needs to agree on what the metric is for a successful campaign. In terms of numbers, the last two were the top performers (Barr was third I think).

    Otherwise, we always bash our “failed” former candidates and it really is unfair. It’s not like these guys are benefiting from the relationship with the LP.

  12. robert capozzi

    sc, statistically meaningful “metrics” are not possible when the observations are in a tight range separated by a few tenths of a percentage point.

    NAPsters care mostly about message, specifically how consistent a candidate is with a literal reading of the NAP. They could keep a running tally of NAP-aligned positions vs. NAP-violating positions. NAPsters might be willing to see perhaps a 5% violation or less as legitimate candidates. The rest are not real Ls, and the convention should have screened them out, in favor of NOTA if necessary.

    My bad on the use of “failed.” That does describe GJ, but both BB and GJ might better be described as “former elected R officials.”

  13. robert capozzi


    Yes, most LP nominees did not benefit in obvious ways from their efforts. None of them parlayed their efforts that I can see.

    Browne may have to some extent in the 90s. Badnarik had his Constitution classes. Clark went back to corporate lawyering, and his wife later got elected Chair, if that’s a “benefit.” Bergland…not sure, I think he kept lawyering.

    A thankless job, generally, I’d say.

  14. Gene Berkman

    Not to go too “historical” and “scholarly” but long before Frank Gaffney got into the fear business, Sharia became an issue. The actual history of modern “Islamism” (or Islamic extremism, to distinguish from the normal practice of Islamic societies) begins not with terrorism, but with the implementation of Sharia in Pakistan in 1977.

    The military rulers of Pakistan were trying to give legitimacy to a government created by a coup. They did not want to have elections, so democratic legitimacy was not an option. So they decided to claim that there were implementing an Islamic regime – two years before the Iranian revolution.

    The Pakistani rulers made Arabic compulsory in schools, ordered knives from Saudi Arabia to be used to cut off the hands of thieves, and introduced other authoritarian policies which they claimed were in line with Sharia. A couple years later, a similar military regime in Sudan claimed they were introducing an Islamic state based on Sharia, and they ordered knives from Saudi Arabia so that they could cut off the hands of thieves, and they too introduced other policies claimed to be based on Sharia.

    Recently I saw an ISIS recruiting video, and it put Sharia – “God’s Law” in the center of the recruitment pitch. On a world scale, Sharia is a threat to freedom, much as Fascism and Communism have been and in some places still are.

    Of course in America, the threat of Sharia is as big a chimera as the threat that Mitt Romney might want the Libertarian nomination for President.

  15. Prefer Not To Say

    Western civilization’s common law already prohibits Sharia law’s many calls for the abuse of force. Of course, western civilization only exists in pure form as an abstract theoretical construct, and the prosecutorial stacking of the jury has resulted in a schizophrenic implementation of western law. But rather than focus on positive “bans” shouldn’t the focus be on enforcing laws that already criminalize “mala in se”?

    I wish Johnson would have pardoned the drug offenders and victimless (non)crime traffic offenders in New Mexico. Had he done that, he would have had my vote.

    Just because the annointed have not criminalized something (or legalized it) does not mean that courts cannot pursue someone for the underlying crimes they are guilty of. Adding an extra 10 years to a prison sentence for a rape, mutilation, or murder case because it was done in accordance with Sharia is unnecessary. What is necessary is to redirect the court system away from punishing the innocent, and extorting their money with the threat of cruel and unusual punishments.

    This is something Johnson could have done as governor, but didn’t. He could have educated everyone about their rights as jurors, but he didn’t.

    …The prior portions of Sharia law that most conflict with western civilization incide mutilation (cutting off of hands and feet) for theft, and murder (for apostasy, homosexuality, etc.). Those actions are already crimes, and punishable as such, regardless of what stone-age religion’s name they are committed under.

    Then again, highway robbery is also outlawed under Sharia, so maybe we should just point the Sharia fanatics toward our local police departments and hope they’re about evenly matched.

    The primary point Gary Johnson has is that when Islamic communities exist, they are predisposed to enact theocracy as quickly as possible. (And hey, when the gays begin getting murdered for walking the Islamic part of town, or gay teenagers start getting murdered by their parents, will the jury be comprised solely of Muslims?) This is what their toxic religion commands.

    The people on the panel who excuse Islam are almost as bad as Johnson’s stated desire for unnecessary positive laws that contradict the First Amendment. The entire goal of Islam is the murder, subjugation, and taxation or “Dhimmitude” of other civilizations, and of the subjugation of the individual to an imaginary, barbaric “god” who is interpreted solely through the voice of sociopathic Imams.

    Islam is organized barbarism. The only decent muslims are apostates. The only tolerable muslims are the ones who are grossly inconsistent and whose actions, due to their mirror neurons, err on the side of empathy and toleration. …Much like Christians.

    As an aside: My mother was an empathic Christian who didn’t hate gays, even when her priest indicated being gay was a sin. When the Catholic church was revealed to be covering up gay child rape on a large scale, she quit going to church and struggled with her identity a bit. When she read Hitchens’ book on religion, she realized the mass suffering caused by preventing Africa from receiving contraceptives, and she abandoned religion as irrational.

    Long before she abandoned her religion, she would stick up for gays and other targets of religiously-motivated bigotry. In this way, she was inconsistent with the religious bigotry she had been taught, while still claiming to be of that religious denomination.

    So yes, Muslims should learn, like Christians, to be inconsistently supportive of the unreason that is their religion. Then, like most Christians in the USA have already done, they should abandon that unreason as completely as possible. Religion is unreason, and extreme unreason often leads to criminal behavior (such as that of the Olympics bomber, Eric Rudolph, who was so pro-life he decided to end a bunch of people’s lives).

    …But government shouldn’t make any more stupid rules, especially when it refuses to enforce the good rules that already make the stupid rules obsolete.

    …No matter how well it plays with god-fearin’ lizard-brains from Texas.

  16. Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

    How come no one has suggested asking Dean Ahmad to provide briefings for Johnson and Weld? Dean has been running the Minaret of Freedom for over 20 years and routinely provides in depth briefings. And Dean was one of the LPs first Treasurers and has been a consistent spokesman for NOTA.

    And you should see his I Am Grand take off on Ayn Rand. Hysterical.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *