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.
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.
Courtesy 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."
If you had the ability to shoot plasma from your hands, would you need a concealed weapons permit? It's a silly question, we know. Of course you would—and the state would be obligated to grant you one, provided you had no serious criminal history and the plasma-blasting was something you could control.
At least, that's the legal conclusion drawn by James Daily of Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and Ryan Davidson, an insurance lawyer from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Daily and Davidson are the founders of Law and the Multiverse, the first blawg to seriously consider such questions as: Would mutants be protected by the Americans for Disabilities Act? Is Batman a state actor? And what's the best place for a super-villain to build his super-secret hideaway? (Answers: yes, yes, and outer space). Law and the Multiverse is where DC Comics meets DC v. Heller, and habeas corpus meets levicorpus.
Mother Jones spoke with the dynamic duo recently about the Affordable Care Act, Citizens United, and the zombie apocalypse.
Well, that didn't take long. Just one week after calling the birther conspiracy theory "nonsense," probable GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee raised concerns of his own about the president's upbringing, in an interview with a conservative New York talk show host. In an appearance Monday on the Steve Malzberg show, the Fox News personality and former Arkansas governor appeared to sympathize with his host's questions about President Obama's citizenship, and then floated a theory of his own: Obama was raised in Kenya. Per Media Matters:
"I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American."
But don't worry, he's not a birther:
"The only reason I'm not as confident that there's something about the birth certificate, Steve, is because I know the Clintons [inaudible] and believe me, they have lots of investigators out on him, and I'm convinced if there was anything that they could have found on that, they would have found it, and I promise they would have used it."
Huckabee went on to explain how Obama's Kenyan upbringing imbued him with an anti-British worldview radically different than most Americans. (You know, like the guys who wrote this anti-British screed.) Media Matters has the full audio here.
Just to be clear: Obama was not raised in Kenya. So what exactly does he think the President is hiding? I contacted Huckabee through his PAC for a response; we'll let you know if we hear back.
Huckabee's assertion about Obama's childhood haunts is decidely fringey, but his comments about the President's attitude toward the British should sound familiar. He's parroting the argument made in Forbes last fall by Dinesh D'Souza: that Obama's decision-making is informed by a distinct "Kenyan, anti-colonialist" worldview. The piece earned praise from one of Huckabee's likely primary challengers, Newt Gingrich, who announced the formation a presidential exploratory committee this week.
Update:Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley tells Ben Smith "The governor meant to say the President grew up in Indonesia." But it's worth noting Huckabee did more than just misidentify Obama's childhood residence; he misidentified everything about Obama's childhood. As Huckabee explained: "[Obama's] perspective...growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather." Whether it was Kenya or Indonesia, Obama didn't grow up with his Kenyan father or his Kenyan grandfather. Huckabee's not a birther, but he's either playing fast and loose with the facts or he doesn't really know them.