Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy


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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Important Moments in History With Oakland's Kitty Cop

| Fri Oct. 28, 2011 3:10 PM EDT

On the morning after a violent crackdown that left a protester—and Navy Marine vet—in critical condition after being hit by a bean bag projectile, the Washington Post chose to illustrate their story about Occupy Oakland with a photo of an Oakland police officer petting a kitten. Was it a metaphor? A somber reflection on human decency? A flickering, 120-watt incandescent light bulb of hope amid the encroaching shadows of oligarchy?

It was none of these, actually. As the Post's photo editor Carol McKay explained, "The photograph was chosen because it was a visual 'moment' in time showing a police officer doing something interesting—not just walking through tents and trash." Plus there was the whole time zone thing. Fair enough; a deadline's a deadline, and as Shani Hilton notes, the Post's online coverage of the demonstration was characteristically strong.

But about that photo. It looked so, so—so familiar. Where had we seen it before?

And then it hit us:Vancouver Riot KittyRich Lam/Getty Images; photo illustration by Tim MurphyBut of course! Kitty Cop is everywhere:


Selma KittyAP; photo illustration by Tim MurphyAnd in Libya, too:

Libya KittyAris Messinis/AFP; photo illustration by Tim MurphyAnd New York City:

V-Day KittyAlfred Eisenstaedt; photo illustration by Dave GilsonAnd here:

Abbey Road KittyPhoto illustration by Dave GilsonOkay, I'll stop.

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Texas Store Refuses to Sell Guns to Muslims, Socialists

| Fri Oct. 28, 2011 1:28 PM EDT

Mason County, Texas, is notable mostly for being the only place in the United States to have a piece of public art inspired by the book Old Yeller. It's also home to Keller's Riverside Store, a general store owned by one Crockett Keller, who recently cut a radio ad announcing that his store would refuse to offer training lessons to Muslims and Obama supporters.

Here's the offending ad, which has prompted an investigation from the Texas Department of Public Safety:

"If you are a socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner-in-chief, please do not take this class. You have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as required under the law. Also, if you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class. Once again, with no shame, I am Crockett Keller. Thank you and God bless America."

I can accept the premise that Crockett Keller might have some sort of prejudice against Muslims, because Islamophobia is pretty widespread in the United States. But non-Muslim, non-Christian Arabs? Who exactly is he referring to—the Druze?

Elizabeth Warren's Volunteer Army

| Fri Oct. 28, 2011 10:15 AM EDT
Volunteers at a organizational meeting for Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren

Nick Baumann flagged this photo that Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren snapped at a campaign event at Framingham State College on Tuesday evening. It is, as he notes, somewhat unusual for a candidate to draw that kind of crowd on a weeknight, one month into a race that's still a year away from being decided. But that's actually been the norm for Warren, who despite being a first-time candidate has rolled out an impressive volunteer operation in the Bay State for her campaign against Republican Sen. Scott Brown. Warren's big crowds are all the more noteworthy given that she's only running for the seat because of the shortcomings of the last nominee, state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

In addition to 300 people at the event in Framingham, Warren drew another 100 on Wednesday night at a union hall in Springfield. And at 7:30 on Thursday morning, about 100 supporters filled the rec room at the Scandinavian Living Center in West Newton for a joint appearance with Newton mayor Setti Warren (who dropped out of the race almost as soon the other Warren—no relation—entered it). For progressives still scarred by the Coakley collapse, Warren's emergence has been cathartic.

"When I woke up this morning and I saw it was raining, I thought, 'I hope she doesn't cancel!" said Barbara Darnell of Newton, a nod to Coakley's famous declaration that she didn't want to campaign outside in the cold. "She's just gotta get out there." And she's glad the candidate showed up: Warren answered Darnell's question about the middle class (she's in favor of it) and won her over with her brief remarks.

What It's Like to Work For Herman Cain

| Thu Oct. 27, 2011 10:47 AM EDT
Herman Cain's memo for staff: speak when spoken to.

One of the most interesting stories to come out of the Herman Cain presidential campaign hasn't actually been written yet—and it might not be for a while, until after he drops out of the race, Fox News contract in hand, sometime before, during, or after, the early primaries. I'm speaking, of course, about the post-mortem, the campaign ritual in which disaffected former staffers spill the beans about what a horror show they endured for however-many months. (Joshua Green's email-heavy deconstruction of the Hillary Clinton campaign is canon for this genre.)

But the New York Times has a hint of what's to come today:

And then there was that e-mail to the staff about traveling in a car with Mr. Cain: "Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to," the memo said.

"I found it odd," said a former staff member who liked to prep Mr. Cain for appearances while driving. The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, quit not long afterward, citing the e-mail as one of the deciding factors...

Setting up offices was also something of a trial. "When I told people, 'You'll be getting offices and phone lines,' I'd have to postpone that," the former staff member in Iowa said. "It was like they were running for sophomore class president."

Mr. Hall added, "We couldn't even get our own e-mail addresses," for the campaign.

Emphasis mine. Cain's spokesman, J.D. Gordon, notes correctly in the piece that the book tour—dismissed by many ex-staffers—has been a big success. But that's assuming that the goal of the book tour was to sell a lot of books and turn his candidate into a celebrity; if the goal was to build a campaign organization capable of getting out the vote in critical early primary states, well, Cain might have been better served by actually visiting early primary states.

Mississippi Dem Unsure What Personhood Does, Still Supports It

| Wed Oct. 26, 2011 8:24 AM EDT
Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Johnny DuPree (D).

The New York Times has a story on something we've written about a bit before—the push to pass state-level constitutional "personhood" amendments to ban abortion (among other things) by defining life as beginning at conception. Previous initiatives have fallen short, but Mississippi's personhood movement, which was initiated by a one-time Christian secessionist who backed a plan to create an independent theocracy in upstate South Carolina, has a decent chance of passing this November—at least if its high-profile endorsers are any indication:

Mississippi will also elect a new governor on Nov. 8. The Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, is co-chairman of Yes on 26 and his campaign distributes bumper stickers for the initiative. The Democratic candidate, Johnny DuPree, the mayor of Hattiesburg and the state’s first black major-party candidate for governor in modern times, says he will vote for it though he is worried about its impact on medical care and contraception.

Yes, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee supports the measure, which would ban abortion even in cases of rape. DuPree fleshed out his views a bit at a debate at the Mississippi College School of Law:

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