Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy


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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Last Thoughts on the Uncharted Lands Beyond the Tea Party News Cycle

| Fri Oct. 15, 2010 5:00 PM EDT

Lower Ninth Ward Community Center, New Orleans (Photo: Tim Murphy).Lower Ninth Ward Village Community Center, New Orleans (Photo: Tim Murphy).San Francisco, California—Now that I'm back in the Bay Area and somewhat settled, I've started to get The Question. Usually there's some sort of buildup, maybe a few softballs to butter me up—"what's the weirdest place you went?" (without hesitation: far west Texas); "Do you like being back?" (occasionally); "Are you broke?" (yes, buy my car). And then it comes, politely, maybe a little earnestly: "What did you learn?"

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Focus on the Family's Parallel Pop Culture

| Sat Oct. 9, 2010 2:00 PM EDT

Focus: James Dobson may have been forced out of Focus on the Family last winter, but his presence is still felt at the Colorado Springs headquarters (Photo: Tim Murphy).Focus: James Dobson Sr. is a constant presence at Focus on the Family's Colorado Springs headquarters (Photo: Tim Murphy).

Colorado Springs, Colorado—In the visitor center at Bob Jones University, you may recall, there was a portrait of the school's founder dressed as Shylock from Merchant of Venice. Well, Focus on the Family has a thing for Rembrandts. Or faux Rembrandts, rather. There are a half dozen of them, filling an entire wall at the organization's Colorado Spring headquarters.

In fact, the salient feature of the Focus on the Family visitors center is the extent to which everything there seems to mimic something entirely different. 

I Was a Teenage Folk Hero's Victim

| Fri Oct. 8, 2010 6:00 AM EDT

For the first summer in half a decade, Kara Webber didn't have to worry about Colton Harris-Moore crashing a stolen car into the propane tank behind the convenience store she works at. Or emptying out the ATM after-hours with a debit card he'd filched from a neighbor. Or breaking into her home for a quick bite to eat—while she was in the living room. And that, on balance, is a good thing: "He's locked up; we're happy," she says.

Kara explains to me how Colton used to break into her store late at night, then she takes a deep breath: "I mean, kid's an idiot."

Well, sort of. By now you've probably heard about the escapades of Colton, aka "The Barefoot Burglar," aka "the kid who stole all those planes." Raised by his mother in a trailer on Camano, a wooded island about an hour north of Seattle, he graduated from petty theft, to swiping cars, to, eventually and most dramatically, stealing and crash-landing private airplanes. Note the plural. Colton did this five times, at least, the last of which brought him to the Bahamas this summer, and from there, to a federal holding facility outside Seattle.

The Problem With Idaho

| Tue Oct. 5, 2010 10:29 PM EDT

Moscow, Idaho—Moscow has been called "the Berkeley of Idaho," which is kind of a loaded statement, I guess. Mostly, I think, this refers to the fact that there's a university, and cool bars, and coffee shops (try Bucer's), an arts scene, and even a few honest-to-goodness liberals. That, and the communist thing.

It's a nice little town in the heart of the Palouse, a 10,000 square-mile stretch of rolling hills of golden wheat in southeastern Washington and northwest Idaho. The hills of the Palouse—sprawling dunes of super-rich glacial silt—are steep enough in spots that a combine capable of climbing them wasn't invented until the mid-20th century, and they're sufficiently sculpted so that if you can observe them from an elevation, and at the right time of year (I didn't), it gives the illusion of a technicolor Sahara. Coming from the west, the Palouse is the first real patch of farmland you'll have seen for hundreds of miles and the most stunning in at least five hundred; the wheat fields forms elaborate, symmetrical patterns, drawing a depth from the shadows and a scope against the Big Sky sky that makes the monotony of the corn belt wilt by comparison.

Moscow's a beautiful place—it just shouldn't be in Idaho.

A Sense of Where We Are: Home

| Mon Oct. 4, 2010 2:32 PM EDT

View Westward Expansion in a larger map

So just like that, we're back in San Francisco. But stay tuned: I'll be wrapping up the blog this week with some more dispatches from the road, and a few closing thoughts.

Mon Jul. 21, 2014 3:33 PM EDT
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