Archive for the ‘Leo Berman’ Category

Creationism as Charity?

December 1, 2011

Texas state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, clearly has a problem with scientists who — go figure — support science. Rep. Berman is calling on the University of Texas at Austin to fire a tenured biology professor who objects to including an anti-science creationist group on a list of state-approved charities that are supposed to be involved in delivering health and human services.

The Austin American-Statesman has reported that biology professor David Hillis and other UT-Austin faculty members are trying to get the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) removed from the charity list. Employees can have donations to charitable organizations on the list deducted from their paychecks.

According to the Statesman, state law requires that charities eligible for the list provide “direct or indirect health and human services.” But that’s not what ICR does. The Dallas-based nonprofit promotes biblical creationism and rejects mainstream science about evolution.

Hillis told the Statesman:

“The Institute for Creation Research is an anti-science organization. They work to undermine the mission of the university and of science in general, and especially the science that is the very basis for health and human services. How could such an organization possibly be listed as a charitable organization to be supported by state employees?”

Rep. Berman on Thursday sent a statement to the Austin-based political news website Quorum Report (subscription required), charging that Prof. Hillis “fears debate on evolution vs. creationism” and that “Godly professors of science who are creationists fear retribution” from scientists like Hillis:

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‘Tired of the Crazies’

August 17, 2011

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s refreshing to see a person in a high position of power stand up to the hysterics, even if some of those hysterics are the same people who voted for him.

“And I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.”

So are we. The above is how New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie recently reacted to criticism of Sohail Mohammed, an attorney Christie appointed to a state judgeship. Mohammed is a Muslim, so the far right immediately pounced with the math of hysteria: Muslim + Judgeship = OMG! Sharia Law!!

Credit Gov. Christie, as he was having none of that nonsense at a recent press conference:

“Sharia law has nothing to do with this at all. It’s crazy. It’s crazy. The guy’s an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer to practice in the state of New Jersey, swearing an oath to uphold the laws of New Jersey, the constitution of the state of New Jersey, and the Constitution of the United States of America . . . This Sharia law business is crap. It’s just crazy. And I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.”

Here’s video of Christie’s comments in full:

This is the kind of anti-Muslim hysteria we’re all too familiar with here in Texas. Just this last legislative session, state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, lead the charge to outlaw the use of Sharia Law in Texas courts with a piece of legislation that essentially said the U.S. Constitution should be the supreme law of the land. Because that wasn’t already obvious?

Thankfully, though, Berman’s bill taking a nasty swipe at American Muslims didn’t become law. But if we were to bet, we would put some money on another attempt by Berman or another legislator to get the obvious enshrined into law when the Legislature reconvenes in 2013. And when they do, they’ll try to do so with no evidence to back up their hysterical claims of a subversive Muslim plot to take over the country, much like they did in attacking Gov. Christie’s appointee and much like Berman and his supporters did during this year’s legislative session in trying to get the anti-Muslim measure passed.

Rationality 4, Leo Berman 0

June 30, 2011

When the Texas Legislature finally ended the session on Wednesday, a little bit of sanity won out and a Texas-size rebuke was handed to far-right lawmaker state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler.

Berman, perhaps the Legislature’s top inciter of anti-Muslim hysteria, attempted during the regular and special legislative sessions to pass a measure banning Sharia law (which is already barred, along with other religious laws, by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). He failed not once or twice, but four times. The law could not gain approval as a stand-alone bill, and each of the three times Rep. Berman succeeded in amending it on to other bills, reasonable heads prevailed and stripped it out of the legislation later.

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Leo Berman to the ‘Rescue’

June 22, 2011

Well, I feel safer. Do you feel safer? We should all feel safer given the latest valiant effort by state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, to keep us all safe from the phantom menace of Sharia law and its impending attack on the Texas court system.

Rep. Berman took to the Texas House floor Wednesday afternoon and successfully added his anti-Sharia law legislation as an amendment to a judiciary matters bill that was approved in the lower chamber and has been tossed to the Senate for its consideration.

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Anti-Sharia Law Measure Back from the Dead

May 24, 2011

I’ll say this for Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler — the man is persistent. Like a weed is persistent.

His one-man crusade to pass a law “protecting” Texas from Sharia law — a threat that apparently exists only in his mind, and possibly on talk radio — has officially become a zombie tale. This is the bill that just won’t die. First, he passed HB 911 out of a House committee, only to see it die in the House Calendars Committee without a hearing on the House floor. Then he amended it onto the governor’s emergency tort reform legislation (with the help of Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville) last week. But that bill (HB 274) was given an overhaul in the Senate State Affairs Committee over the weekend, and Berman’s amendment was stripped out of the bill.

Undeterred, Berman was back on the House floor last night, pushing to add his anti-foreign law language as an amendment to yet another bill (SB 1717). And as with his previous attempt, the words “Sharia law” or “Islam” were never mentioned during the brief discussion in the House. The amendment passed without a word of dissent — or even a record vote.

Since Berman’s amendment was one of several significant changes the House made to this bill, it will likely be assigned to a conference committee to resolve the differences. We’ll be watching to see if this language finally passes into law, or if this is strike three for Berman.

Anti-Sharia Proposal Quietly Advances

May 11, 2011

After languishing in the House Calendars committee for several weeks — and looking as if the clock might run out on this ill-considered bill — Rep. Leo Berman’s anti-Sharia law measure (HB 911) made a surprise appearance on the House floor on Monday. The language of Berman’s bill was offered as a floor amendment by Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, to the Governor’s “emergency” tort reform bill (HB 274). The amendment passed easily with minimal debate, and since the tort reform bill passed as well, it now moves on to the Senate State Affairs committee.

In stark contrast to the strident, alarmist rhetoric of the committee hearing — and Rep. Berman’s comments in the press — the words “Sharia” and “Muslim” were never even uttered on the House floor during debate. Rep. Hilderbran presented the amendment as an uncontroversial clarification that international laws cannot be considered by the courts when such law contravenes the U.S. Constitution. But just as in the earlier committee discussion, when pressed to explain what sorts of problems this legislation would remedy, its promoters were stumped. Consider this telling exchange between Rep. Hilderbran and Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas:

Anchia: I’m aware of no cases where the U.S. Constitution as it is applied by U.S. courts is not supreme.

Hilderbran: There’s some crazy judges every once in a while that do some crazy things…

Anchia: Well, then they get reversed on appeal.

But in this matter, apparently absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Berman and his ilk are convinced that somewhere, someone, right this very moment is convincing a judge to throw out our entire system of laws and force us all to live under mandatory Sharia law. And when you know it in your gut, you don’t need proof.

It struck me earlier today how closely the entire discussion of Sharia law tracks the debate over “sanctuary cities” in the House this week. Both are, at bottom, rooted in a mistrust and prejudice against a certain group of people. And despite the lack of a documented threat or problem (there are no sanctuary cities in Texas), proponents argue the state MUST act proactively to defend against the possibility of a threat.

But from where I sit, it just looks like  targeting a group of Texans for their religious belief or the color of their skin.

Sharia Hysteria: Dancing with Bigots

April 29, 2011

As we have reported, an Arizona attorney and white supremacist who traffics in anti-Muslim and anti-black bigotry created the model legislation for House Bill 911, an anti-Sharia bill that passed the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee last week. And who is supporting HB 911?

One supporter testifying in favor of state Rep. Leo Berman’s bill during the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee hearing on April 4 described herself as a “national member of ACT! For America.” ACT! describes itself as providing “American citizens a means to be a collective voice for the democratic values of Western Civilization, such as the celebration of life and liberty, as opposed to the authoritarian values of radical Islam, such as the celebration of death, terror and tyranny.” In truth, ACT! works overtime to smear all Muslims as “radicals” and “militants.”

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Berman’s Portable Goal Posts

April 28, 2011

Say what you will about Texas state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, you have to give the man credit for becoming a master at moving the goal posts.

Unless you were nowhere near a TV or computer on Wednesday, you missed the big dose of widely verified reality the White House dropped on the world when it released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate proving what most rational people already knew: President Obama was, in fact, born in the United States.

Maybe not surprisingly, that still doesn’t satisfy Rep. Berman, who filed a bill (HB 295) this year requiring that presidential and vice presidential candidates present an original birth certificate to qualify for the Texas ballot. But after President Obama presented his birth certificate to the nation yesterday, Birther Berman flipped the switch and got those goal posts a-movin’ out of the stadium and all the way out into the parking lot.

The Texas Tribune wrote the following about Berman:

He said he’s now seen two birth certificates: the Hawaiian one released by Obama this morning, and one he said indicates Obama was born in Mombasa, Kenya. And he claims the hospital Obama lists on his birth certificate — in fact, all hospitals in Honolulu — have denied the president was born there.

And here’s video from the Tribune of Berman’s lingering doubts:

See? He’s just asking questions — not giving any credible answers, but at least he has the courage to ask questions.

You know who else asks a lot of questions? PolitiFact Texas. The award-winning website has vetted Berman’s latest claims and guess how they rated them? C’mon, guess.

Yep, Pants on Fire.

The Man Behind the Sharia Hysteria

April 26, 2011

So who is really behind House Bill 911, the proposed Texas legislation that supporters say will stop the mythical threat of Sharia law from being imposed on Texas? As we’ve said before, scratch the surface of the anti-Muslim hate and hysteria promoted by far-right pressure groups in this country and you’ll sniff the familiar stench of bigotry.

The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee unanimously passed HB 911 last week. At the committee’s April 4 public hearing on that bill, an attorney told lawmakers that he had helped develop the model policy on which those Texas bills were based. And with whom did he work on the so-called “American Laws for American Courts” model? David Yerushalmi — an Arizona attorney and white supremacist who traffics in anti-Muslim and anti-black bigotry and is one of the biggest promoters of Sharia hysteria in America.

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I Heard It on the Radio

April 19, 2011

Late Monday evening, the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee voted unanimously to pass House Bill 911 by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, a statute that purports to bar Texas courts from applying “foreign laws,” but is really about responding the paranoid fears and biases of those who claim Sharia law is going to “take over the country” (as one of the bill’s supporters testified in committee).

To be clear, every single member of the committee (with one member absent) voted to pass this bill, despite the fact that no one is aware of any legitimate problems the bill will address.

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Sharia Hysteria!

April 6, 2011

We warned you. Over the weekend we noted that Monday’s scheduled hearing in the state House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee on HB 911 by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, and HB 3027 by Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland,  had the potential to turn into a “Muslim hate-a-palooza.”

Sometimes we hate being right.

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Just Plain Embarrassing

November 30, 2010

The more he says, the worse he sounds.

Last spring at a Glenn Beck/Tea Party rally in his hometown, state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, called President Obama “God’s punishment on us.” Then recently Rep. Berman filed a bill in the Texas Legislature that would require a presidential candidate to submit an original birth certificate before qualifying for the ballot in the state. He justified the bill by calling into question whether President Obama is a native-born American citizen:

“This bill is necessary because we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place.”

Claims that President Obama isn’t — or hasn’t proven that he is — a natural-born citizen were debunked long, long ago. But the loony right won’t let it go. Monday night Rep. Berman further embarrassed himself on Anderson Cooper’s CNN news program, AC360, by repeating absurd claims about President Obama based essentially on deceitful rumors, Internet spam and ignorant blather from right-wing websites and crackpots. Talking Points Memo was watching:

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Breathing Fire in Tyler

April 27, 2010

Political fire-breathing was center stage at “The Oil Palace” on Saturday in Tyler, the only Texas stop on FOX News show host Glenn Beck‘s traveling road show, his “Take America Back” tour. The event showed once again how religious-right rhetoric increasingly dominates the so-called “tea party movement.” Beck and various Texas politicians provided plenty of that rhetoric.

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