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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Tea Partiers' Showdown in the Nevada Desert

| Sat Mar. 27, 2010 10:52 AM EDT

Tea Partiers from across the West have descended in their Winnebagos and pickups on tiny Searchlight, Nevada, former gold-mining capital of Clark County, and, more importantly, hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They're here for the Tea Party Express' "Showdown in Searchlight," a conservative mega-rally (Sarah Palin is the featured speaker) in the Mojave that boosters have rebranded the "Conservative Woodstock." Burning Man might be more like it. The timing is impeccable: One week after the biggest progressive victory in two generations, conservatives are quite literally wandering in the desert.

I realized how packed the event would get when I drove into town to the welcome of a chorus of No Vacancies (all the RV parks and motels in the area have been booked up for weeks). Luckily the owner of the property where the event is being held has opened up his land to anyone wanting to spend the night. Hundreds took him up on the offer (myself included). It wasn't quite a field of dreams, but it's kind of surreal to pull off a lonely highway, down an unmarked road (I missed the turnoff three times), and find an encampment of hundreds of Tea Partiers. At least a hundred RVs were there when I arrived late last night, with just as many other vehicles, and a smattering of campaign buses thrown in for good measure. For a conservative Woodstock, I can't report much loud partying, though: "Downtown" Searchlight was largely Tea Party-free Friday night, and if there were any bonfires or karaoke contests, they were over by the time I got there. Fox News showed up at 7 this morning, just as I left for coffee.

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Texas SBOE Facing Death Sentence?

| Thu Mar. 25, 2010 5:20 PM EDT

If Democratic lawmakers have their way, the Texas State Board of Education could soon go the way of the Enlightenment and Hip-Hop. Yesterday, state senator Juan Hinojosa announced plans to write a bill eliminating the board, in response to the...ungenerous treatment of civil rights and minorities in the state's new social studies curriculum. Earlier this month, the board tentatively approved the standards after making a host of controversial changes. Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White (and his gigantic ears!)widely considered to be the Democrats’ best threat to win a statewide race in Texas since the late Ann Richardscalled on his opponent, Gov. Rick Perry, to send the social studies standards back to the drawing board.

Specifically, White wants the professional educators who wrote the more balanced first draft of the standards (before passing it on the board for substantial editing) to have another crack at them. Those are both pretty obvious suggestions: It's not entirely clear why you'd want a dentist, rather than experts, to have the final say over education policyor, for that matter, how electing board members locally makes them any more accountable than if the governor appointed them.

Ralph Reed's Terrifying Book Trailer

| Thu Mar. 25, 2010 1:28 PM EDT

Most progressives left Ralph Reed for dead in 2006. That's when incriminating e-mails about "humping in some corporate accounts," coupled with a sound primary thunking in his race for Georgia lieutenant governor, seemed to cast the former head of the Christian Coalition into political exile. And while Reed has attempted to revive his political career of late—mulling a run for Congress in Georgia, opposing health care reform, and attempting to align his new PAC, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, with the Tea Party—he's a shell of the cocky organizer who once warned opponents, "You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag."

But with every death comes rebirth. So said the ancients, and so it is with Reed. In his case, "rising from the ashes of his political career" translates to a bright new future in supermarket express-line political thrillers. Reed's first book, Dark Horse, sold pretty well, and, as one friend raved to me, "it actually wasn't  that terrible." But that was only the beginning. Yesterday, Reed tweeted the release of a movie trailer for his latest book, due out in September. (Since when do books get their own trailers?) It's called The Confirmation, it's about a Supreme Court confirmation (and so much more!), and it's a reminder of just how much healthier politics are when Ralph Reed is writing paperbacks about SCOTUS nominees rather than, you know, vetting them. Anyways, we checked out the trailer and can report that it is truly and utterly terrifying. Behold:

The syringe! The syringe! What is going on at the 0:33 mark? Tell us your wildest disaster scenario in the comments. Also, kudos to Ralph for absolutely nailing my writing process at 0:11.

 

Conspiracy Watch: Little Green Men

| Wed Mar. 24, 2010 7:00 AM EDT

The latest installment in our ongoing collection of wonderfully weird (and totally whack) conspiracy theories. Find more Conspiracy Watch entries here.

THE CONSPIRACY: The alien spaceships that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 (PDF) hold the secret to stopping climate change. The federal government has spent billions studying their anti-gravity propulsion system, which would make fossil fuels obsolete. But Republicans, wary of Democrats reaping the political benefits of unveiling this revolutionary carbon-free energy source, triggered the financial crisis to distract President Obama and delay our E.T.-inspired green future.

THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS: Stephen Bassett, head of the Extraterrestrial Phenomena PAC, claims the Roswell saucers have an "inertial mass reduction system" that uses a mere fraction of the energy consumed by man-made engines—with zero emissions. He estimates that this technology could slash our energy costs by as much as 95 percent. Bassett has written to Obama and Al Gore urging them to end the "truth embargo" on the reverse engineering of UFOs. He's also praised the Exopolitics Institute, which has suggested that the Iraq War was a secret effort to capture alien "stargates" hidden inside Sumerian ruins—a Conspiracy Watch favorite.

MEANWHILE, BACK ON EARTH: Bassett may not be the only one who wants to believe: Former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Center for American Progress head John Podesta have called for full disclosure of any top-secret extraterrestrial research.

Kookiness Rating: Tin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat Small
(1=maybe they're on to something, 5=break out the tinfoil hat!)

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