Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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Mitt Romney gave $10,000 to the National Organization for Marriage in 2008.

We've known that Mitt Romney helped bankroll California's anti-gay-marriage campaign in 2008. But on Friday, Huffington Post's Sam Stein presented new details—specifically that Romney's $10,000 donation (did he lose a bet?) to National Organization for Marriage, the nation's leading stop-gay-marriage outfit, came via his network of state PACs that we reported on last July:

Records filed by Romney's Free and Strong America PAC with the Federal Election Commission did not include details of that $10,000 donation. Nor did NOM's public 990 form. In fact, record of the payment was only uncovered Friday when the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign was sent a private IRS filing from NOM via a whistleblower. The Human Rights Campaign shared the filing with The Huffington Post.

Asked for comment, an aide to Romney said that the donation was made through the Alabama chapter of the Free and Strong America PAC. State records confirm this. However, the 990 NOM filed lists the donation as having come from PO Box 79226 in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Belmont, of course, is where Romney maintains his nominal address, in the basement of his son's house.

The NOM donation is particularly dicey given another recent development. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed reported on an internal NOM document detailing the group's aim to "drive a wedge between gays and blacks" in order to knock down gay marriage efforts. Those documents date back to 2008. Put another way, Romney donated $10,000 to an effort geared at "fanning the hostility" between gays and black voters.

Here's the full document, via HRC: 

NOMSched2008PDF

On Wednesday, Public Policy Polling came out with a new survey of the Nebraska GOP primary race. That's not all that important—Rick Santorum will probably win the state, win slightly more delegates than Mitt Romney, and still not win the nomination. Not very many people live in Nebraska.

But there was one interesting element to the Democratic-leaning polling firm's Nebraska report: In the state's second congressional district, Obama trails Romney by just one point in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup:

Courtesy of Public Policy PollingCourtesy of Public Policy PollingNebraska, which allocates its electoral votes by congressional district rather than winner-take-all, went overwhelmingly to John McCain in 2008, but Obama was able to pad his landslide tally with a narrow win in Omaha.

The odds of Omaha delivering a decisive electoral vote to Obama this time around are pretty small, but via the good folks at 270towin.com, you can at least game a scenario—say, if Obama repeats John Kerry's 2004 map, then adds Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico to the mix while losing New Hampshire. And in that case, with Obamaha providing the winning margin, you might actually see some serious introspection from Republicans and Democrats alike on why we still rely on something as unwieldy and undemocratic as the electoral college in the first place.

The Karnes County (Texas) ICE detention center, as imagined by Rep. Lamar Smith.

On Wednesday, as most of official Washington was fixing its gaze squarely on the Supreme Court, the House Committee on the Judiciary convened a hearing on another issue: the supposedly posh conditions at the Department of Homeland Security's immigrant detention centers. The hearing, dubbed "Holiday on ICE" by chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), focused on the idea that Obama administration rules intended to prevent sexual abuse and inhumane conditions at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facilities made detention too fancy. "War on Women," meet "War on Immigrant Women."

In 2008, the Washington Post published an in-depth investigation of inhumane conditions at ICE detention centers. As Bob Libal at Texas Prison Bid'ness points out, ICE was forced to cancel its contract with a detention center in Texas' Willacy County after it was "rocked by allegations of sexual assaults, immigrant smuggling, spoiled food, and protests." Those conditions, detailed in a 2011 Frontline report, were exacerbated by Obama administration policies exempting immigration detention centers from the Prison Rape Elimination Act. As far as accommodations go, Willacy was more Hostel than Holiday Inn.

Montana state Rep. Krayton Kerns.

Montana GOP state Rep. Krayton Kerns is taking criticism for comments he made earlier this month comparing Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to a studding English bulldog named "John-Boy." Yes, really.

In mid-March, Kerns, a veterinarian from the ranching town of Laurel, posted an entry to his personal blog, "Ramblings of a Conservative Cow Doctor," in which he mused about the irony of freedom-loving Americans being "screwed" by the debate over access to birth control. Why, Kerns wondered, are we spending so much time talking about "contraception for coeds"? On Monday, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Stacey Anderson told the Missoulian Kerns' post was "degrading, sexist and inexcusable."

Anderson was referring to this passage:

Before a mock congressional hearing she testified $1000 per year for contraception is cost prohibitive for students and this expense should be borne by people who actually have jobs. (This makes sense to her because she is still in college.) When I finished banging my head on the table, I pulled out my imaginary photo albums and reminisced about the free-love college days in the '70s and '80s. Things were different then. I remember John earning $1000 per month for sex at Colorado State University, so contraceptive costs were meaningless to him. Let me tell you about John.

John was a swinger, but not your typical a sex symbol. He was hairy, had short legs, fat belly and he slobbered a lot, but the vet school rumor mill said he was earning nearly $300 per week practicing his trade. John's registered name was John-Boy and he was a grand champion English bulldog owned by a pharmacology instructor at Colorado State. Lamenting John-Boy's stud service popularity, Steve, a classmate of mine whined, "That dang dog makes $1000 per month in stud fees and I can't even give it away." Enough said about the good old days and this brings me to my point: How in the world did the political debate descend to the level of contraception for coeds?

This is of course a misunderstanding of the concept of health insurance, which is not charity, but rather something that you pay into in exchange for coverage. It's also not an accurate depiction of Sandra Fluke, who is a thirty-year-old third-year law student, not an undergraduate "coed." Nor does it appear that Kerns actually read Fluke's testimony, which focused not on her sex life, but on one of her lesbian classmates who has a medical condition that made birth control a necessity. Also: What does a studding bulldog have to do with anything?

But at least Kerns understands that the cost of birth control doesn't hinge on how much sex you have—which is more than you can say for Rush Limbaugh.

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