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.

Get my RSS |

Survivalist GOP Rep.: You Should Probably Avoid Cities

| Tue Mar. 15, 2011 3:35 PM EDT

Maryland GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is a child of the Great Depression, Nancy Pelosi's date to this year's State of the Union, and a member of the House Tea Party Caucus. As Alexander Carpenter points out, he's also something of a survivalist:

In a series of clips from a documentary called Urban Danger available on YouTube and 3AngelsTUBE, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)...shares his fear of impending threats to America and advocates that people move out of urban areas...

In the context of his surmising about the threat of living in urban areas, Bartlett states in the video that there are two strains of smallpox, one is the U.S. and one in the "Soviet Union".

You can watch the documentary online here. Urban Danger's official site takes pains to note that the film is not "survivalist," but rather a guide to "finding practical solutions to problems we face today."

Those problems, however, are dire: One speaker warns that American cities are about to experience something "a lot worse than what happened in New Orleans," suggesting that the situation could be Biblical in nature; the congressman, for his part, floats the possibility of of biological warfare, alleging that terrorists may have already obtained the aforementioned Soviet smallpox. "A storm is coming, relentless in its fury," the narrator explains. "Are we prepared to fight it?"

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Bachmann: "This is Our Mice and Men Moment"

| Tue Mar. 15, 2011 10:51 AM EDT
Photo: Gage Skidmore

Update: The three-week CR passed, with Obamacare intact. Apparently we're mice.

Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann implored House GOPers to defund the Affordable Care Act at a forum at the Capitol on Wednesday evening, calling the upcoming vote on a three-week continuing resolution "our mice and men moment." Speaking to a small audience of about two dozen mostly junior staffers, interns, and reporters, Bachmann warned that the continuing resolution, along with an upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling, represent House GOPers' last best chance to defund the law, nearly one year after it was signed into law.

"This is our mice or men moment. We need to show whether we are mice or men," Bachmann said. "It is not for us to wait for us to fight when it's easy... Now is our moment. What are we made of: Are we mice, or are we men?"


Bachmann wants her colleagues to vote against any continuing resolution that doesn't explicitly strip funding from health care reform—although as Alex Altman notes, a continuing resolution can't defund Obamacare.

"They wanted what they wanted, the people of the United States be damned," Bachmann said. "This was a fraud that was perpetrated on the people and on the Congress. We should be shouting from the rooftops, 'Give the money back!'"

What We Talk About When We Talk About Zombie Ants

| Sun Mar. 13, 2011 10:18 AM EDT

One of the best things about fact-checking an article about combatting invasive pests with imported insects is that the researching process jumps back and forth so effortlessly from serious academic and scientific questions, to really crude Discovery Channel-style footage of insects eating other insects. Cutting-edge entomological research is pretty highbrow stuff. Referring to the subjects of cutting-edge entomological research as "zombie ants"? Not so much. To wit:

Story link: kxan.com

Brain-eating larvae are inherently newsworthy, but there's a broader signifance, too. As Michael Behar explains in the latest issue of Mother Jones, Texas' experiments with phorid flies are part of a relatively recent push by entomologists and land managers to combat invasive pests not with gallons upon gallons of toxic chemicals, but with something far more basic: their natural predators, imported from the home country. The process is called biocontrol, and if it works, it can save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and keep sensitive ecosystems clear of harmful chemicals. It's not an easy process—biocontrol projects regularly take decades to yield results—but it just may be man's best shot at reining in invasive pests with  names ripped out of Harry Potter (leafy spurge, tansy ragwort, cottony cushion scale) and no natural predators. As one University of Florida researcher tells Behar, "We've reached the end of our chemical rope"; maybe it's time to give the insects a shot.

Anyways, it's a fascinating topic. Check out the piece here. Read more about ants whose minds have been possessed by fungi here.

Texas Considers Bill to Ban Almost All Abortions

| Fri Mar. 11, 2011 5:04 PM EST

 From the Texas Independent:

House Bill 2988 by state Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) would prohibit abortions from being performed unless a physician determines there is a substantial risk to the woman's life or a major body function. Parker's bill comes on the heels of a bill by state Rep. George Lavender (R-Texarkana) banning abortions except in cases of medical necessity, rape or incest.

Among other things, Parker's bill makes no exception for cases of rape or incest, an exception that's long been considered untouchable even by many pro-lifers. It also explicitly prohibits physicians from considering possible impairments to mental health. A spokesperson for Rep. Parker told Mother Jones that the legislator "does intend to include [exemptions for rape and incest] if it moves through the process." But they're not included in the version that was filed on Thursday because Parker didn't actually write the bill; it was drafted at the behest of the Grass Roots Institute of Texas, an organization founded by conservative activist Bill Burch.

In February, Burch floated a similar bill in the Lone Star State that would establish that life "begins at the moment that the initial splitting of a human cell occurs during fertilization," explaining at the time that his bill "will eliminate abortion in the United States" by giving the Supreme Court a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Parker's effort is part of a nationwide effort by conservative lawmakers to scale back abortion rights. Last month, we reported on the House GOP's effort to redefine rape as part of its "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions." In South Dakota and Nebraska, legislators introduced legislation that could have provided legal justification for the murder of abortion providers. In Texas, a controversial bill requiring women to see a sonogram before having an abortion—with no exceptions for rape or incest—passed the house on Monday.

Thu Oct. 1, 2015 11:23 AM EDT
Thu Aug. 13, 2015 6:00 AM EDT
Wed Aug. 12, 2015 10:46 AM EDT
Thu Jul. 2, 2015 11:31 AM EDT
Fri Jun. 12, 2015 11:59 AM EDT
Wed May. 27, 2015 1:00 PM EDT