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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God Hates #micro-blogging?

| Thu Jan. 28, 2010 6:44 PM EST

Important news out of the Bay Area today: The Westboro Baptist Church, the quasi-cult from Kansas that protests at the funerals of dead soldiers and, well, everyone else, has finally found something it likes. But it's protesting anyway. The group will be picketing the San Francisco offices of Twitter today to remind the company of its higher obligation:

We're not protesting Twitter as a platform; that's like picketing televison! =) We're picketing the people who run @Twitter, who don't use their position & voice to warn a generation of rebels of the consequences of their rebellion. Same goes for those at Foursquare & Gowalla (tho I personally find their products useless -- at least relative to Twitter. =)

(For the definitive take on the WBC, check out MoJo's outstanding piece from 1999).

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ESPN Scribe to Haiti: Drop Dead

| Thu Jan. 28, 2010 2:44 PM EST

Until this week, Paul Shirley had built a nice career for himself as the globetrotting basketball player with a gift for writing. He'd published a well received first book about his benchwarming endeavors and parlayed his candid, down-to-earth style into a semiregular column at ESPN.com. That all changed on Tuesday, when Shirley, writing on his group blog, published a—let's just say contrarian—take on the situation in Haiti. "I do not know if what I’m about to write makes me a monster," he began. And then he very deliberately eliminated whatever doubts we might have had. Here's a taste:

Dear Haitians –
First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.

As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it’s possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while? 

The response was swift: Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis called Shirley a "dumbass," which is a little uncouth but we can't really argue with it. And yesterday, ESPN released a statement announcing it had severed its ties with Shirley.

The Liberal Plot to Save California

| Mon Jan. 25, 2010 5:19 PM EST

Even before last week's progressipocalypse, there was a growing sentiment among those on the left that the American political process had some serious mud in its tires. And not just in Washington, either. Perhaps nowhere is democratic decay more pronounced than in MoJo's home base of California.

The state's problems have been well documented (here's a helpful introduction), but no single element has been more problematic than Prop 13, the 1978 constitutional amendment which stipulates that any tax-raising measure requires a virtually unattainable two-thirds majority in Sacramento. With revenues no longer keeping pace with the state’s needs, the cash-strapped government has been forced to slash essential services and issue I.O.Us to creditors. But help may finally be on the way: University of California-Berkeley professor George Lakoff, a linguist who was once dubbed "the father of framing" by the New York Times Magazine, is pushing to effectively repeal Prop 13 via a referendum this November.

"The linguistics is interesting," Lakoff told me after a recent event in San Leandro. "When you say 'supermajority' it sounds like it's more democratic, when it's actually anti-democratic. It's that little twist on language that's there, and I think people had no idea about the reality of what was happening—that this is the only state in the union where there was total rule by a conservative minority."

A 60th Vote... in Texas?

| Thu Jan. 21, 2010 6:51 PM EST

With Scott Brown's Tuesday victory, the Democrats' 60-vote supermajority is over, and with it, likely any chance of meaningful health care reform. Possibly. But there's still one way Democrats could get back up to the magic number before November. It involves winning a statewide race in Texas: Democrats haven't done that in 16 years, so you probably shouldn't wager too many precious Liberty Dollars on it, but as Tuesday's results show, anything can happen in a special election.

Here's how it works: Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is currently locked in a bitter (think Conan v. Leno) Republican gubernatorial primary against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry. Whether she wins or loses on March 2, Hutchison has said she'll resign her Senate seat, although she's been vague about when that would actually happen. Here's Texas Monthly's Paul Burka on what might happen next:

Texas Dem Finds "The Real Killer"

| Thu Jan. 21, 2010 1:58 PM EST

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley ran a pretty lousy campaign in her race to fill Ted Kennedy's senate seat. But is she the worst Democratic candidate to run for a major office in 2010? Not even close. Meet Bill Dear, proud Democrat, private investigator, conspiracy theorist, and (very very long-shot) candidate for the Texas governor's mansion.

Dear's campaign bio reads like an elevator pitch for a new show on truTV. He notes that he has, on multiple occasions, been referred to as "the real James Bond;" he exhumed the body of Lee Harvey Oswald as part of an investigation into the JFK assassination (which he, of course, witnessed firsthand); and, most notably, he has written a book and produced a documentary in which he identifies by name the real killer of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. You can call off the search, OJ!

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