Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Texas Birther Rep. Sponsors Secession Rally

| Fri Mar. 4, 2011 7:48 AM PST

Courtesy of the Texas Nationalist MovementCourtesy of the Texas Nationalist MovementIf you can't make it to SXSW, here's the next best thing: The Texas Nationalist Movement, which is exactly what it sounds like, will be holding a rally tomorrow in front of the state capitiol in Austin to push for a referendum on secession from the United States.

As with any half-decent declaration of independence, the group's resolution has a list of grievances: Specifically, the federal government has failed the protect its borders, and "implemented thousands of laws, mandates and agencies in violation of the United States Constitution that have invaded the sovereignty of the State of Texas."

But wait: This story actually gets stranger. As the Houston Press reported, the Texas Nationalist Movement's secession rally is being sponsored by none other than state Rep. Leo Berman. You may remember Berman as the man who introduced a bill to force the President of the United States to prove his citizenship (again), and, when asked for proof, cited YouTube videos he'd seen because, "YouTubes are infallible." He's also sponsoring a bill to save state courts from the scourge of Islamic Sharia law.

So why is a state legislator promoting a secession rally? The Press caught up with Berman, who explained that while he "very strongly" does not support secession (statehouse rallies need a legislative sponsor), he doesn't think it's such a terrible idea either:

He says he has "no qualms" about supporting a secession rally. Is there any group out there whose message is so far out, so radical and dangerous that he would refuse to be a legislative sponsor for them?

"I'm very, very, very strongly pro-life," he says. "So I would not support an abortion-type rally."

Man's got to stand for something.

Support for secession has a long and rich history in the Lone Star State. According to a 2009 poll, 48 percent of Texas Republicans agreed that the state "would be better off as an independent nation." That came after GOP Governor Rick Perry told reporters at a tea party in Austin that if the federal government didn't change its ways, secession might be an option. And in 2009, a Kerr County resident was arrested for claiming to be a sheriff's deputy for the "Republic of Texas." For more, check out our interactive map on US secession movements.

Also of note: Although the group's poster features a severely mutton-chopped Sam Houston calling for Texas independence, the real Sam Houston famously took an unpopular stand against Texas secession on the eve of the Civil War. As he put it: "The Union is worth more than Mr. Lincoln. I was denounced then. I am denounced now. Be it so!"

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Who is GOP Presidential Candidate Buddy Roemer?

| Thu Mar. 3, 2011 1:30 PM PST
Flickr/ dsb nola

The big 2012 news this week (well, other than this) is that former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer is forming a presidential exploratory committee. So who the heck is Buddy Roemer? Politico's Jonathan Martin had a must-read take this morning, but here's a closer look:

A former Democrat: Roemer was a four-term Democratic congressman from Shreveport, but switched parties midway through his first and only term as governor. Although he supported President Reagan's economic policies in Washington, Roemer said the party's lingering racism was holding it back: "The only thing that is keeping me from being a Republican is the Republicans." He finally made the switch in 1991 in the hopes that it would help his re-election chances (it didn't). For his switch, Roemer's critics took to calling him a "transvestocrat."

A New-Age Mystic: As part of a very public mid-life crisis, Gov. Roemer began wearing blue jeans and adopted the slogan, "Goodbye to me, hello to we." Here we'll quote from Charlie Trueheart's 1991 Washington Post story:

"[H]e and his erstwhile Roemeristas (so called because of the much-touted but since-wilted "Roemer revolution") have been reduced to mouthing the ridiculous platitudes of Robert Fulghum and other New Age shamans. Cook reports, "He packed himself and his staff off to motivational treats dubbed 'Adventures in Attitudes,' where they learned to banish negative thoughts by snapping a rubber band against their wrists while uttering 'Cancel, cancel.'"

Not a culture warrior: Roemer's no lefty: He supported chain gangs and presided over the execution of a mentally handicapped man who had murdered a state trooper at the age of 17. But in one of the signature showdowns of his political career, Roemer opposed his base: As governor in 1991, he vetoed a GOP proposal that would have banned all abortions, except in the case of rape or incest—and even then, abortions could only be performed in the first 13 weeks of a pregnancy, and the rape or incest victims had just five days to report the crime. The bill passed into law over his veto, but was later blocked by a federal judge. The National Right to Life Committee called Roemer's veto "a betrayal." Roemer also signed a law legalizing medicinal marijuana in Louisiana, and vetoed a bill that would have restricted the sale of profane music like 2 Live Crew.

Why is Huckabee Talking to Bryan Fischer?

| Wed Mar. 2, 2011 2:43 PM PST

Yesterday, we flagged an interview in which possible GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee alleged that President Obama developed an anti-colonialist worldview because he was raised by his father and grandfather in Kenya. Huckabee later clarified that he misspoke—he meant to say that Obama was raised by his father and grandfather in Indonesia. Which is also incorrect. Today he doubled down in an interview with the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, explaining that while his words have been distorted, he really does believe that the Mau Mau Revolution has deeply influenced Obama's thinking.

Adam Serwer says Huckabee threw conservatives under the bus, but maybe the larger concern isn't what Huckabee said but who he said it to. Why is Mike Huckabee appearing on Bryan Fischer's radio show? Let's review the record: Fischer has previously argued that gay sex is "domestic terrorism," that Native American societies were a "slop bucket" that deserved to be wiped out by Christians, that the President is a "fascist dictator," that Muslims should be banned from serving in the military, that gays literally caused the holocaust, and that grizzly bears should be slaughted to appease an angry God.

There's no evidence that Huckabee agrees with any of that, but Fischer's radical views aren't exactly unknown—and it's not the first time Huckabee's been on the show. We've contacted Huckabee's PAC for a response; we'll let you know if we hear back.

Missouri Jumps on the Anti-Sharia Bandwagon

| Wed Mar. 2, 2011 11:28 AM PST

Courtesy of Rep. Paul CurtmanCourtesy of Rep. Paul CurtmanTime to update the map. On Tuesday, Missouri became the 16th state (by our count) to consider a ban on the enforcement of Islamic Sharia law in state courts. The proposed law is nearly identical to the sample legislation drafted by David Yerushalmi, the Arizona-based attorney whose racist views and militant attitude toward Muslims I reported on yesterday. Via PoliticMo, here's the bill's sponsor, Republican state Rep. Paul Curtman:

"I don't have the specifics with me right now but if you go to—the web address kind of escapes my mind right now. Any Google search on international law used in the state courts in the U.S. is going to turn up some cases for you."

Later Tuesday afternoon, Tilley sent out a statement citing a single case in New Jersey. There, a Muslim man apparently sexually assaulted his wife. The judge did not cite Sharia law, instead citing first amendment religious concerns in his ruling, which was overturned by a higher court.

Who brings supporting evidence to a press conference, anyway? It's worth emphasizing that the New Jersey case, which is cited over and over and over as evidence of creeping Sharia in the United States, not only ignored existing state law, but also totally misinterpreted Islamic law. As Sharia expert Abed Awad told Justin Elliott, " Islamic law...prohibits spousal abuse, including nonconsensual sexual relations."

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