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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Mitt Romney Apologizes for America

| Fri Sep. 14, 2012 9:50 AM PDT

Mitt Romney has a very simple foreign policy vision: Don't apologize for America. It's right there on the cover of his book. That's why, when the US Embassy in Cairo attempted to preempt an attack on its compound by condemning a virulently anti-Islam film, Romney was quick to not-apologize. Instead, he accused the Obama administration of sympathizing with the embassy attackers by speaking out against bigotry: "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

Here's what he told ABC News in an interview on Friday, though, when asked about the film:

Well, I haven't seen the film. I don't intend to see it. I you know, I think it's dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people would't do it. Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it's not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.

Notice anything? It's pretty much the exact same sentiment expressed by the US Embassy in Cairo—the one that prompted Romney to accuse the Obama administration of sympathizing with extremists: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims–as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." Like Romney, the Embassy went on to explain (in a subsequent tweet) that an offensive low-budget film was no justification for attacks.

There's nothing wrong with Romney's condemnation of bigotry. The only mystery is why he ever thought there was.

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GOP Rep. Appears on White Nationalist Radio Show

| Mon Sep. 10, 2012 1:43 PM PDT
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)

A North Carolina Republican congressman appeared on a notorious white nationalist radio program on Saturday to talk up legislation he coauthored accusing President Barack Obama of committing impeachable offenses. Rep. Walter Jones, a fiercely anti-war congressman who often breaks with his party on key votes, appeared on the Political Cesspool, a Memphis-based program hosted by ardent white nationalists James Edwards and Eddie Miller. The show has been condemned by groups like the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center for promoting racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic beliefs. Jones is the first member of Congress to appear on the program.

An avowed white nationalist who says David Duke is "above reproach," Edwards has referred to African Americans as "heathen savages" and "subhuman" and suggested that slavery was "the greatest thing that ever happened" to blacks. The show's mission statement is blunt: "We represent a philosophy that is pro-White and are against political centralization," it declares. It then outlines a series of issues the show exists to promote. "We wish to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races," reads one plank. Another bullet point endorses the Confederacy: "Secession is a right of all people and individuals. It was successful in 1776 and this show honors those who tried to make it successful in 1865."

Edwards' rhetoric has caught the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which argues that he has "probably done more than any of his contemporaries on the American radical right to publicly promote neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, raging anti-Semites and other extremists." As the SPLC notes:

"The Political Cesspool" in the past two years has become the primary radio nexus of hate in America. Its sponsors include the CCC and the Institute for Historical Review, a leading Holocaust denial organization. Its guest roster for 2007 reads like a "Who's Who" of the radical racist right. CCC leader Gordon Lee Baum, Holocaust denier Mark Weber, Canadian white supremacist Paul Fromm, American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor, neo-Nazi activist April Gaede, anti-Semitic professor Kevin MacDonald, Stormfront webmaster Jamie Kelso and League of the South president Michael Hill have all been favorably interviewed on the "Political Cesspool" this year, along with former Klan leader and neo-Nazi David Duke, the show's most frequent celebrity racist guest, who has logged three appearances.

Edwards' bigotry runs the spectrum. As Media Matters has documented, Edwards has alleged that Jews "run Washington, Wall Street, and the news and entertainment media" and that they're "using pornography as a subversive tool against" Christians. He defended Mississippi voters who say that interracial marriage should be illegal. (He's called interracial sex "white genocide.") Jones is hardly the first prominent conservative to call into the Cesspool. Paul Babeu, a prominent anti-immigrant sheriff who was forced to step down as Mitt Romney's Arizona co-chair after a gay sex scandal, praised the host in a 2010 appearance on the show. Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan has also appeared on the show; Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had been booked to appear on Edwards' show but canceled at the last minute, citing a scheduling conflict.

Jones, a shoo-in to win a 10th term in November, is an arch-conservative with an independent streak. An early supporter of the Iraq war—he even went so far as to rename French fries in the House cafeteria "freedom fries"—he had a change of heart (as we explained in a 2006 profile), in large part due to the burden shouldered by families in his eastern North Carolina district, which includes Camp Lejeune. (He supported Paul during the GOP presidential primaries.) Edwards, like Jones, is an avowed proponent of "noninterventionism" who, on his website, calls on the federal government to "stop interfering politically, militarily, and socially outside of the borders of the United States of America." On the Cesspool, Jones briefly discussed his bill, HR 107, which states that President Obama's handling of the military intervention in Libya is an impeachable offense.

Jones made a positive impression with his hosts, whom he engaged in friendly banter over the merits of musician Frankie Valli and the musical Jersey Boys. "This is your debut appearance and hopefully the first of many to come," Edwards said.

Multiple calls and emails to Jones' office on Monday were not returned.

Update, 9/11/12, 10:20 a.m.: Erik Anderson, Jones' Democratic challenger, told Mother Jones the congressman needs to clear the air about what happened. "It's unbelievable that a sitting congressman would think that's appropriate," said Anderson, a Marine Corps veteran. "I really would like to hear his reasoning for why he went on there. You just don't go on a radio show like that and not know who you're talking to. I've been on conservative radio shows, but never a white supremacist one." But he has one theory: "I've said [the impeachment resolution] was racially motivated and that's absolutely what it was for because why else would he go on that show if it wasn't?"

Romney Endorses Birther-Curious Congressman

| Mon Sep. 10, 2012 9:21 AM PDT

Mitt Romney's Friday endorsement of proudly anti-immigrant congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) has raised eyebrows given Romney's struggles with nonwhite voters. (Most recently, King has accused of minority college students of feeling sorry for themselves.) But there's another reason why Romney's public embrace of King is noteworthy: Steve King is a total birther.

Via ThinkProgress, here's what King told a tele-townhall in late July:

We went down into the Library of Congress and we found a microfiche there of two newspapers in Hawaii, each of which had published the birth of Barack Obama. It would have been awfully hard to fraudulently file the birth notice of Barack Obama being born in Hawaii and get that into our public libraries and that microfiche they keep of all the newspapers published. That doesn't mean there aren't some other explanations on how they might've announced that by telegram from Kenya. The list goes on. But drilling into that now, even if we could get a definitive answer and even if it turned out that Barack Obama was conclusively not born in America, I don't think we could get that case sold between now and November.

King, who is locked in a tight reelection fight with Democrat Christie Vilsack, the wife of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, received a glowing endorsement from Romney on Friday at an event in Orange City, Iowa. "This man needs to be your congressman again," the GOP presidential nominee said. "I want him as my partner in Washington, DC."

Rep. Keith Ellison: GOP Is "Basically a Bigoted Party"

| Thu Sep. 6, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the nation's first-ever Muslim member of Congress, doesn't mince words when asked about the Republican party's formal proclamation that the United States is under assault from Islamic Shariah law. "It's an expression of bigotry," he said on Wednesday, in an interview with Mother Jones at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. "There has never been any legislation offered to establish Shariah law—not at the federal level, not at the state level. There's not been a municipal ordinance opposing this, there's not been anything."

For Ellison, the anti-Shariah plank was part of a broader narrative of exclusion. "Why do they want to become the party of hate? They're hating on immigrants who are from Latin America. They're demonstrating hatred toward Muslims. They're demonstrating hostility toward women. They act like they don't like gay people. Who is their party supposed to be made up of in 20 years?"

"I'm sad that they have decided to go into this dark ugly place where they see the whole world as their enemy," Ellison continued. "And this is the thing: I don't mind debating taxes and spending; we probably should. But they're the party that is basically a bigoted party and they have now officially declared themselves against a whole segment of the American population, because if we said we were going to put a plank opposing Jewish law, or Catholic canon, it would be an outrage. This is also an outrage. But you know, it'll pass."

Ellison's remarks echoed comments he made in July after his Minnesota colleague, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. (Bachmann's statement was condemned by some high-profile Republicans, like Arizona Sen. John McCain.) Ellison said he's spoken with Bachmann once since the Abedin controversy—in response to a bill she was proposing to audit Medicaid recipients—but didn't bring up the subject with her. "I don't find that to be a productive use of my time or hers," Ellison said. "She whipped up a million [fundraising] dollars by promulgating hate against a religious minority. I'm not gonna talk her out of that." His plan to settle the argument is to campaign for her opponent this fall, Minneapolis hotelier Jim Graves.

"She's always bragging about how great the private sector is. She should join it."

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