Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

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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Want to Piss Off the White House? Talk About Climate Change

| Thu Nov. 14, 2013 11:54 AM EST

Politico's Glenn Thrush has a revealing new piece on the pressures of being in President Obama's cabinet—a supposedly fun thing most of its members will never do again. There a lot of nuggets in there, but one in particular stood out: the White House's private outrage at former Secretary of Energy Steve Chu's impromptu decision to talk about climate change while visiting an island nation uniquely threatened by it. On a trip to Trinidad and Tobago with the president, a staffer persuaded press secretary Robert Gibbs to let Chu answer a few questions:

Gibbs reluctantly assented. Then Chu took the podium to tell the tiny island nation that it might soon, sorry to say, be underwater—which not only insulted the good people of Trinidad and Tobago but also raised the climate issue at a time when the White House wanted the economy, and the economy only, on the front burner. "I think the Caribbean countries face rising oceans, and they face increase in the severity of hurricanes," Chu said. "This is something that is very, very scary to all of us…The island states…some of them will disappear."

Earnest slunk backstage. "OK, we'll never do that again," he said as Gibbs glared. A phone rang. It was White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel calling Messina to snarl, "If you don't kill [Chu], I'm going to."

Emanuel didn't kill Chu, although that would have made for a more interesting story.

A couple things stand out here. Trinidad and Tobago is seriously threatened by climate change, and given the efforts of similarly situated island nations—the Maldives, Tuvalu—to call attention to the crisis, it's hardly an insult to use the occasion of a trip to the country to talk about it. (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago's capital, is 10 feet above sea level.) But this underscores just how narrow the White House's thinking was at that time. Does anyone actually remember Steven Chu speaking out about sea level rises in Trinidad and Tobago? Did it really distract from the president's economic message? Were there mass protests in the streets of Port of Spain? Did it delay pending legislation or result in any electoral setbacks? The reality is that talking about climate change probably isn't going to be a catastrophe, no matter how awkward it might seem at the time—but not talking about climate change most definitely will.

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Marco Rubio Raising Money for Group That Tries to Turn Gay People Straight

| Mon Nov. 11, 2013 5:03 PM EST

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will speak at a fundraising dinner this week honoring Mat Staver, an ardent anti-gay activist who has defended Malawi's ban on homosexuality. Staver is suing New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie for signing a law banning gay-to-straight conversion therapy, and has said that teaching gay rights in schools is tantamount to "sexual assault."

Rubio, a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, will deliver the keynote address at the annual fundraiser for the Florida Family Policy Council, a prominent social conservative organization that promotes so-called "conversion therapy" to help LGBT individuals become straight. Conversion therapy has been condemned as a form of abuse by psychologists. It is banned outright in a handful of states beyond New Jersey, including California. The American Psychiatric Association, which does not endorse conversion therapy, says the practice is at best ineffective and at worst can "reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."

According to an invitation to the November 16 event, first reported by the progressive watchdog site Right Wing Watch, the dinner will honor Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law and founder of the Liberty Counsel, which provides legal support to social conservative organizations. Staver's group filed a lawsuit against Christie last week alleging that New Jersey's new ban on gay conversion therapy prevented a couple from properly treating their son. Staver has a history of making incendiary claims about gays. In June, he claimed that the passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against LGBT employees and applicants, would "result in significant damage and even death of some individuals." After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last summer, Staver suggested the decision would bring the nation closer to "the realm of rebellion."

John Stemberger, the Florida Family Policy Council's president, is also an anti-gay activist. He is chairman of Trail Life, the "moral alternative" to the Boy Scouts of America, which recently lifted its ban on gay Scouts. Trail Life won't accept openly gay boys as members, but offers counseling services to kids who suffer from "gender confusion."

"We're not going to tolerate somebody who's, you know, here and queer, loud and proud, all of that nonsense," Stemberger told social-conservative radio host Janet Mefferd. Stemberger, a lawyer, also triggered a minor international incident in 1999, when he sued Dollar rental car for negligence for renting a vehicle to an Irish tourist who got in an accident with his client. "Anyone who has studied Ireland knows it's just a fact: To the Irish, drinking and driving is not a big deal," he said at the time. The former mayor of Dublin told the Irish Times that Stemberger's lawsuit was "racist and absurd."

Rubio's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Watchdog Group Banned from YouTube After Anti-Gay Chaplain Complains About YouTube Comments

| Fri Nov. 8, 2013 12:31 PM EST

On Thursday afternoon, Right Wing Watch, an offshoot of the progressive group People for the American Way that monitors the public statements of prominent figures on the religious right, had its YouTube account suspended at the request of an anti-gay former Navy chaplain who is running for a seat in the Colorado legislature. Gordon Klingenschmitt, who left the Navy in 2006 and has had a second career as an evangelical activist, sent out a triumphant press release heralding the news under the tag "David takes down Goliath." YouTube told Right Wing Watch it was being suspended because it had violated Klingenschmitt's copyright, but the chaplain's statement suggests he had another motive for filing the complaint: Right Wing Watch had done nothing to stop threats on his life from its "followers":

Three of those posts, still active on YouTube as of 16 Aug, call upon RWW's followers to kill Chaplain Klingenschmitt:
1.       can we murder this fu**
2.       I don't think he's a fetus. So yeah, you could murder him and still be pro-life.
3.       Another white a** cracker pu*** that needs a .45 Caliber renovation.
 
Three other followers of RWW stated they wished the Chaplain would die, or had been murdered by an abortionist, or praised the demon of murder.
4.       What a pathetic little bi***. Can't wail till these people die out.
5.       Don't diss the "deamon of murder", I've met him. He's not a bad guy.
6.       This guy is a sh** person and would have been better if he was aborted.

In a blog post, Brian Tashman, a writer and researcher for the Right Wing Watch, confirmed the cancelation of the group's YouTube account and said Right Wing Watch had filed an appeal.

The catch is that the threats against Klingenschmitt weren't made by anyone affiliated with Right Wing Watch—they were made by YouTube commenters. Given the often viral nature of Right Wing Watch's videos, and the often volatile nature of YouTube's commenters, crazy comments seemed almost inevitable. I asked Klingenschmitt if this meant that he was responsible for the YouTube comments on his own site. "When I become aware of something or it’s brought to my attention, I will delete things that are inflammatory," he said. "I'm not responsible for the initial posting but if I am alerted and don't do anything, I am responsible."

It's not hard to see why Klingenschmitt, who kicked off his first political campaign in October, wouldn't want Right Wing Watch's videos online. He told Colorado activist Will Perkins* that if gays are allowed to marry, "then they would be able to adopt the children of heterosexuals and therefore that increases their ability to recruit." He described the message of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT citizens, thusly: "The Government is now ordering you: Forsake God or starve to death." And he suggested that demonic spirits were controlling President Obama—and Madonna.

But Klingenschmitt isn't the first conservative to ask Right Wing Watch to take down a video, and the previous cases suggest his victory will be a short-lived. In September, YouTube denied a request from Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network to take down a clip of the influential evangelical pastor suggesting that gay people wear special knife-rings that transmit AIDS to random people they meet.

*This post originally misidentified Klingenschmitt's guest.

 

“The Government is now ordering you: Forsake God or starve to death,”

- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/enda-near-top-ten-religious-right-claims-about-employment-non-discrimination-act-updated#sthash.yyy7hkuO.dpuf

 

“The Government is now ordering you: Forsake God or starve to death,”

- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/enda-near-top-ten-religious-right-claims-about-employment-non-discrimination-act-updated#sthash.yyy7hkuO.dpuf
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