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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America's Greatest Threat: Flashcards

| Fri Feb. 12, 2010 9:50 PM EST

Yesterday, Pomona College senior Nicholas George, backed by the ACLU, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that TSA and FBI agents stomped all over his First and Fourth Amendment rights by detaining him for five hours after they discovered a set of Arabic flashcards and political science books in his backpack. The complaint is worth reading in full (here's the pdf version), but this section in particular is worth highlighting:

TSA Supervisor: You know who did 9/11?
George: Osama bin Laden.
TSA Supervisor: Do you know what language he spoke?
George: Arabic.

Then, according to the complaint, the TSA supervisor held up George's flashcards and asked, "Do you see why these cards are suspicious?"

Uh, no. Another choice nugget: "During their questioning, for example, the FBI agents repeatedly asked Mr. George why he had chosen to study physics at a liberal arts college such as Pomona." (I wonder if his answer was anything like this?).

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Another Truther in Texas

| Fri Feb. 12, 2010 9:28 PM EST

Yesterday I blogged about the political implosion of Debra Medina, the Tea Partier whose Texas gubernatorial campaign came to a crashing halt when she was outed as a 9/11 truther by Glenn Beck (even he has his limits, apparently). Maybe there's something in the water in Texas, because a few hours ago, hair-care baron Farouk Shami, one of two major Democratic candidates, joined Medina in lala-land. Here's what he told a Dallas TV station when asked whether he believed 9/11 was an inside job:

“I'm not sure. I am not going to really judge or answer about something I'm not really sure about. But the rumors are there that there was a conspiracy. True or not? It's hard to believe, you know, what happened. It's really hard to comprehend what happened. Maybe. I'm not sure.

Does this make the Truther conspiracy bi-partisan? For more Texas Tea Party blogging, check out Kevin's take on Debra Medina.

Glenn Beck Outs Truther Candidate

| Thu Feb. 11, 2010 4:01 PM EST

Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, a state-sovereignty advocate, may have expected her interview today on Glenn Beck's radio program to be a big break. Instead she put on a show that at the very least should make Sarah Palin feel a better about her disastrous Katie Couric interview. Medina plodded along for a few minutes—perhaps a little too eagerly—until Beck asked whether she was was a 9/11 Truther. And that's when Medina's campaign blew up like a frozen can of Cola:

Beck: Do you believe the government was in any way involved with the bringing down of the World Trade Centers on 9/11?

Medina: I don't have all the evidence there, Glenn. So I am not in a place, I am not out there publicly questioning that. I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard. There are some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there, so I've not taken a position on that.

Finally, Beck cut her off, saying, "Debra, you've answered the question." Then he ended the interview and poured on the mockery:

"I.... [makes crashing sound] while I don't endorse anyone, I think I can write her off the list! [Laughs.] Let me take another look at Kay Bailey Hutchison if I have to! [More laughter.] Rick [Perry], I think you and I could French kiss right now!.... WOW! WOW! The fastest way back to 4%! [Yet more laughter.] Phoo! Ho-ly Cow!"

You can listen to the interview here.

Medina almost immediately put out a statement asserting that "Muslim Terrorists" were responsible for 9/11, but it might be too late for her. An un-dorsement from Beck isn't likely to bolster her fundraising or win over undecidedstwo things she sorely needed to do to have a chance on March 2. As Texas Monthly's Eileen Smith spun it, "If you can make Glenn Beck look like a perfectly rational human being, you need serious help."

Crashing the Texas Tea Party

| Wed Feb. 10, 2010 9:34 AM EST

Last week I highlighted the increasingly odd Republican primary for the Texas governor's mansion, where Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry were expected to engage in a can't-miss intra-party heavyweight battle. Instead, the race has been transformed by the emergence of a third candidate, the pro-secession, pro-sovereignty, (and very, very pro-gun) conservative activist Debra Medina. Medina has used social media, grassroots organizing, and a tireless anti-government message to compete with the two heavyweightsand now, according to a new PPP poll (pdf), she just might win.

 

The odds are still against her, but Medina now finds herself within the margin of error against Hutchison in the battle for second place; she gets 24 percent of likely voters while Hutchison wins 28 percent. With Perry still well below the majority he'd need to win the primary outright, it's looking more and more likely that we'll end up in a run-off. Medina would have a lot of ground to make up, but the momentum would be on her side. (And Perry, despite his longevity, isn't exactly Mr. Popularity in the Lone Star State: He was re-elected with just 39 percent of the vote in 2006). Katherine Haenschen has a pretty good breakdown of what this all means.

 

Medina's ascent, along with the news that Tea Party godfather Rep. Ron Paul (a Medina supporter!) is facing three primary challengers of his own, offers a reminder of just how foggy the Tea Party movement really is. Perry, having himself broached the idea of secession and having earned the endorsement of Sarah Palin, would seem very much to be the "Tea Party darling," Politico said he is. But Medina has, improbably enough, managed to carve out a platform even further to right than Perry's. Given the fragmented state of affairs in Texas, attempting to apply any sort of unified ideology to the Tea Party (aside from, maybe, "dissatisfied") seems like an unwinnable proposition at this point.

Lil Warlord: Torturous Rap

| Mon Feb. 8, 2010 3:33 PM EST

It's been a rough 13 months for Charles Taylor Jr. In January 2008, a federal judge in Miami sentenced "Chuckie," the Boston-born son of former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, to 97 years in prison for his role as an enforcer during his father's reign of terror in the 1990s and early 2000s. (It was the first-ever conviction under the federal government’s anti-torture statute.) This past Friday, another judge ordered Chuckie to pay five of his victims a total of $22 million in damages; the victims testified that they had been tormented with electric shocks to their genitalia, raped at gunpoint, and scalded with molten plastic, to name a few of the alleged atrocities. And with Junior's father on trial in The Hague for war crimes, things aren't looking so good for the family.

But Chuckie may envision a silver lining: He's now free to work full time on his rap career. As Rolling Stone reported in a 2008 profile, "After he fled the collapse of his father's dictatorship in Liberia, Taylor recorded approximately 20 tracks at a studio called Eclipse Audio in Trinidad." He sent the magazine one of those tracks, "Angel," which you can listen to here (halfway down).

It's more than a little awkward listening to a love song performed by a thug who makes Cam'ron look downright angelic. But if it's any consolation, Taylor is no N.W.A. You can look for "Angel" and other Taylor tracks in the bargain bin, if they make it that far.

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