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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The Great Texas–California Flame War of 2013

| Thu Feb. 7, 2013 10:16 AM EST
The passage east.

The first wagon trains left in January. There were just a few in the beginning, and they proceeded with caution, fording the San Joaquin River, navigating the canyons and switchbacks of the high Sierras, and traversing the salt flats and creosote scrub of the Great Basin before descending, at last, over the rocky peaks and into the the fertile loam of the southern plains. What they couldn't carry with them—ocean-going yachts, car elevators, labradoodles—they'd simply discarded. Someday, maybe, when the time was right, they would return to the California they'd fled, to the Ocean-front estates and climate-controlled wine cellars they'd left behind. But for now, their sights were set on a new homeland where men, and sometimes even women, were free. Texas.

Or something like that, anyway. Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) ratcheted up his longstanding feud with California by purchasing radio ads in the Golden State urging businesses to pack up their things and come to Texas. "Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible," Perry said. "I have a message for California businesses: Come check out Texas." California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) responded as well as you might expect from someone who had just been trolled by Rick Perry. The ad was "barely a fart," Brown said at a press conference, while working in a dig at "Lubbock, or whatever those places are that make up that state."

And now the New York Times has entered the fray with the provocative headline, "Millionaires Consider Leaving California Over Taxes." But the article mentions just one Californian, golfer Phil Mickelson, who has recently considered leaving over taxes, and Mickelson later apologized for even talking about the idea. There's also this, from Stanford sociology professor Cristobal Young:

"I suspect the accountants are busier this year, but I don’t think the moving companies are getting a boost," Mr. Young said. "Moving out of state is actually one of the most costly responses they could make. California's high-income earners are clustered in coastal cities far from state borders. Moving to Nevada or Texas or Florida is a very big life change, and means leaving behind family, friends, colleagues and business connections."

Reuters highlighted Young's research in a similar piece last fall, concluding that tax hikes had no impact on where millionaires chose to live:

In fact, more millionaires came to the state than left after California's so-called Millionaire's Tax was introduced in 2005 - adding 1 percentage point of tax to incomes over $1 million. A 1996 cut to taxes for those earning $110,000 and up did not spur migration into the state, either.

The number of millionaires has risen or fallen by about 10,000 a year, but that change has been almost entirely due to the state economy, not wealthy people coming into or leaving the state. Such migration accounted for about 47 people, net, on average.

That's because, high taxes notwithstanding, California still has many things going for it, including science classes that teach science, the ability to drink at a bar without being hauled off in handcuffs, and—this can't be overstated—proximity to California.

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Here's a Potential GOP Senate Candidate Playing Beer Pong

| Tue Feb. 5, 2013 1:49 PM EST
State Rep. Dan Winslow (R-Mass.)

On Tuesday, after a handful of Republican candidates with statewide name recognition had signaled they weren't interested, Massachusetts state Rep. Dan Winslow announced he was forming an exploratory committee for the special election to replace former Democratic Sen. John Kerry. Winslow, who is pro-choice and has been previously endorsed by gay rights groups, has been viewed as a rising star in the state party for a few years now (see this profile in Commonwealth magazine in 2011), but would face an uphill challenge if he runs. Reps. Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey are vying for the Democratic nomination.

Prior to launching his exploratory committee, though, Winslow's most noteworthy political move was becoming perhaps the only pol in American history to hold a photo op while playing beer pong. The "Beer Pong and Politics Networking and Fundraiser," held at Boston's Battery Park Bar and Lounge in September 2011, gave attendees a chance to mingle with their representative while partaking in the national sport of 18–24-year-olds. As Winslow told the Medfield Press, "The idea is to encourage participation by people not typically involved in politics. It's as much a 'friend-raiser' as a 'fund-raiser'"—hence the low ticket price ($25, open-bar included). Per the Press, Winslow played with water in his cups instead of beer.

Here's the logo for the event, per its Facebook page:

"Sink it / drink it" Facebook

And here's Winslow's promotional tweet:
 

Winslow isn't the only Republican interested in the race. The Hill reported that the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has also approached former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez about running for the seat.

Winslow hasn't responded to a Mother Jones inquiry about the his pong skills, but we'll update if we hear back.

The 12 Most Threatening People on the NRA's Enemies List

| Fri Feb. 1, 2013 12:52 PM EST
The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is Barry Manilow with a microphone.

Back in September, in an effort to prove...we're not exactly sure what, the National Rifle Association published a list of some several-hundred non-profits, celebrities, companies, and news organizations that "have lent monetary, grassroots or some other type of direct support to anti-gun organizations." Daily Kos, which drew attention to the list Friday morning, calls it "nuts," which is certainly one way of looking at it.

The NRA doesn't offer any explanation of its selection process, or why they think it's a compelling argument to call attention to the fact that the Civil Rights organization founded by Martin Luther King Jr. opposes what the NRA does. But maybe they're on to something.

Here are 12 of the most terrifying people and groups on the NRA's list:

Carrie Fisher. Daughter of a Jedi.

Henry Winkler. Literally jumped a shark one time.

Mennonite Central Committee. You know who else had a central committee?

Barry Manilow. Is Barry Manilow.

The Temptations. Deliver us from them.

Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine. Basically what it sounds like.

Central Conference of American Rabbis. Ditto.

Mary Lou Retton. Her medal may be gold, but her bullets are lead.

Tara Lipinski. Actually wears knives on the bottom of her shoes.

Boys II Men. [sic]

Bob Barker. QED:

Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We don't actually have a joke here. How can you put the SCLC on your enemies list?

Mississippi Bill Would Ban Manimals, Mermen, and Minotaurs

| Thu Jan. 31, 2013 10:38 AM EST

Not in Mississippi.

What do you do after you've made abortion de facto illegal in your state by shutting down (almost) all of the clinics? Well, if you're the Mississippi legislature, you resurrect one of the forgotten moments of the George W. Bush presidency—attempt to push through a law criminalizing the creation of "human-animal hybrids."

Human-aniwha? Here's what the bill says:

 

 

More broadly, the bill basically parrots the failed 2011 Personhood amendment, which sought to redefine human life as beginning at fertilization. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger's Brian Eason helpfully clarifies that "the way the bill is written, it would not outlaw freak accidents in which, say, you were bitten by a radioactive spider and later developed spider-like qualities."

Before the 2012 South Carolina primary, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told pro-lifers that he was unequivocally opposed to the idea of human-jellyfish (hellyfish) hybrids.

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