Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. 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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Bobby Jindal Wants to Kill Louisiana's Big Oil Lawsuit

| Thu Aug. 1, 2013 9:40 AM EDT
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).

In July, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority–East, a regulatory board that was reformatted after Hurricane Katrina to shore up the state's flood defenses, filed a lawsuit against about 100 oil and petrochemical companies alleging a systematic destruction of the state's wetlands and coast. The backlash was swift—and not just from the oil industry. Garret Graves, the head of the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, dismissed the suit as the work of an overzealous trial lawyer. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) demanded that the levee board withdraw its suit. And now Jindal has gone one step further—asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit. Here's the Baton Rouge Advocate:

"We have asked the (Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority) to look into intervening to make sure the courts understand this suit is not authorized, that the levee board did not have the legal authority to do this," Jindal said.

...

The crux of the legal dispute arises from administration claims that the permission of the governor and attorney general is required before the board can hire special counsel, as they did to prepare and pursue the lawsuit. The board, however, argues they are bound by a different set of requirements that only call for the attorney general to sign off on lawsuits.

The levee board has taken on a more activist role since Hurricane Katrina, in part due to the work of its secretary John Barry, whose history of the 1927 Flood has become required reading in South Louisiana. But the lawsuit represents the board's most dramatic step yet, and the first real showdown with authorities in Baton Rouge.

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Fox News' Neil Cavuto Doesn't Know How Inflation Works

| Wed Jul. 31, 2013 10:29 AM EDT
Neil Cavuto

Fox News host Neil Cavuto has a special message for living-wage activists: Deal with it. "It's like jobs aren't enough these days," he said on Tuesday. "They better pay well, or folks just aren't applying for them at all." As proof, he cited his own teenage years serving fried fish in Connecticut:

Only in America today, can our politicians bemoan a livable wage, forgetting a lot of folks would be grateful for any wage, any chance, any job, anytime. All I know is as soon as I turned 16 and heard a fast food chain called Arthur Treacher's was opening a store in my town of Danbury, Connecticut. I stood in a line for a position—any position. I got the job, and soon rocketed to relief manager, then weekend manager, then by 16 and a half, full-time store manager! And it all started at two bucks an hour. And all the fish I could eat.

That's a good story. But the math makes the opposite point Cavuto intended—adjusted for inflation, he made a lot more money as a teenager than the fast food employees who walked off their jobs in seven US cities this week. Cavuto says he made $2 per hour when he was 16, which would have been around late 1974. That's $9.47 per hour in today's dollars—or $.28 per hour more than Washington state's minimum wage, which is the nation's highest. Cavuto made the equivalent of $1.02 per hour more than the current minimum wage in Connecticut today and $2.22 per hour more than the current federal minimum wage. His starting wage was $2.17 more than Saavedra Jantuah made at the Burger King on 34th St. in New York City before she walked off the job in protest last November because she was unable to feed her son.

Cavuto's riff also misses the larger point, which is that the living-wage fight isn't about 16-year-olds with no kids whose parents cover their basic living expenses. The median fast food worker is 28 years old, and the median female fast food worker is 32. Their wages have dropped an average of 36 cents since 2010. And they're making less than Neil Cavuto ever did.

Watch the segment:

Bobby Jindal Stays Silent on Louisiana Sodomy Arrests

| Tue Jul. 30, 2013 9:47 AM EDT

On Sunday the Baton Rouge Advocate reported on a disturbing trend: A full decade after the Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional violations of a right to privacy, the East Baton Rouge sheriff's department was continuing to enforce the state's version of the statute. Not only that, but it was going out of its way to do so, setting up stings to find and arrest gay men for the crime of having sex—even though the district attorney had pointedly refuse to prosecute those cases. "Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted," a sheriff's department spokesman told the paper, apparently oblivious to the fact that a court had already made such a determination.

So how does Louisiana's arch-conservative Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, feel about the parish's continued enforcement of the invalidated sodomy law? He's been silent. His office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday, nor has he previously commented on the sodomy statute.

The sheriff's department does have a point. The anti-sodomy statute is still on the books in Louisiana, and in 12 other states across the country. And in many of those cases, it remains on the books for a very particular reason: Republican lawmakers want it to. Lawmakers in Texas have quietly killed every legislative effort to erase its anti-sodomy statute (the one that was actually stricken down by the Supreme Court), which makes sense when you consider Gov. Rick Perry is on the record defending it, and the state GOP recently made a sodomy ban part of its official platform. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback left his state's sodomy statute out of a 2012 push to purge outdated laws. The last serious repeal push in Louisiana came in 2003, shortly before the Supreme Court decision, with opponents warning that legalized sodomy would lead to disease and child abuse—two things that, thanks to the sodomy ban, Louisiana had been mercifully free of for the last 207 years.

Keeping anti-sodomy statutes on the books serves no real function, since the crimes are impossible to prosecute. Mostly, the laws' supporters just don't want their states to legally acknowledge that there's something OK about homosexuality. So-called crimes against nature, like other 19th-century relics such as mutton chops, DIY canning, and income inequality, are kind of "in" right now. In July, Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor as a Republican, launched a new website to defend his state's anti-sodomy law.

Anti-Islam Activists Are Freaking Out About Crayons Now

| Mon Jul. 29, 2013 9:59 AM EDT
A sample from Crayola's Ramadan coloring exercises.

Anti-Shariah activists have a new target in their sights: Crayola. Late last week the Pickens County (Ga.) Republican party posted a call to action on its website about a new promotion from the world's leading crayon manufacturer, which had begun offering free Islamic-themed coloring pages in honor of Ramadan. Zut alors! The images are pretty innocuous—one features a prayer rug; another features a young boy kneeling while reading from the Koran. But the Pickens GOP sees something more nefarious:

Recall that Muslims consider Ramadan the "month of jihad" and "month of victory" over infidels. Crayola should remind kids not to try and draw Muhammad lest their parents need to fend off Muslims and enter witness relocation – like the creator of Everyone Draw Muhammad Day – since the FBI nor anyone else will protect them.

Christmas trees and bunnies abound but a search for the Bible returned zero results.

contact Crayola:@CrayolaListening to Consumers and CustomersConsumer AffairsCrayola LLC1100 Church LaneEaston, PA 18044-0431-or-Click here to contact us electronically.About Our Products – in the U.S. or Canada:For Crayola®, Silly Putty®, Portfolio Series and Pop Art Pixies products, call 1-800-272-9652 1-800-CRAYOLA.

Both the Pickens County GOP and another anti-Shariah website, the appropriately named "Creeping Sharia," both published the exact same text on the exact same day, so it's not clear who plagiarized whom. Crayola is in good company. Other American institutions that have fallen under the spell of Shariah (according to anti-Shariah activists) include David Petraeus, the grocery store Wegman's, and Nashville's Hutton Hotel.

Thu Oct. 1, 2015 10:23 AM EDT