Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. 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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Progressive Dems Spar Over Who Will Succeed Markey

| Fri May 24, 2013 9:42 AM EDT

If Rep. Ed Markey wins the special election to become Massachusetts' junior US senator next month, it'll have at least one unintended consequence: A potentially ugly fight between two progressive Democrats for Markey's seat as the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. After Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio launched his candidacy by getting 20 prominent congressmen—including Georgia Rep. John Lewis and two former chairs of the committee—to sign onto a letter on his behalf, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is pushing back, winning the endorsement, on Thursday, of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The battle-lines are familiar, if not not entirely related to the actual responsibilities of the Natural Resources Committee: immigration reform and the Keystone XL pipeline. "DeFazio actually has a very anti-Democratic record on immigration," argues Grijalva spokesman Adam Sarvana. As proof, his office is sending around a fact-sheet highlighting a vote DeFazio cast in 2012 that would have authorized the Keystone XL pipeline as part of a larger transportation package—in contrast to DeFazio's otherwise outspoken criticism of the project. Sarvana is also touting support DeFazio received from the anti-reform outfit Numbers USA. (The group does not endorse candidates but has praised DeFazio's backing of universal electronic citizenship checks as a condition of employment.)

In a statement provided to Mother Jones, DeFazio, who is still considered the front-runner for the job, dismissed the Keystone vote as a procedural oddity: "I just helped lead the fight in two committees and on the floor against the Keystone Pipeline. In 2012, I voted for a transportation bill designed to bypass Tea Party obstructionist and get a much needed transportation bill to conference. As a conferee, I had assurances from Senator Barbara Boxer the Keystone provision would be stripped out of the final bill."

Markey's job isn't open just yet—the special election isn't until June and recent polls have shown a tight race. But the Democrat has never trailed, and his possible successors aren't waiting around for clarity.

Here's the CHC letter backing Grijalva:

 

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Virginia Lt. Gov. Candidate E.W. Jackson: Gays Are "Ikky"

| Thu May 23, 2013 1:18 PM EDT

"Yuk!"

That's an actual tweet from the Rev. E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia.

Jackson, a social-conservative activist with no record of electoral success, was nominated on the first ballot at the state GOP's convention on Saturday and almost immediately triggered an acute case of heartburn among the party's establishment due to his far-right views on gay rights and abortion. (Among other things, he favors the reinstatement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and said the Democratic party's platform was in line with the Antichrist.) Jackson is, as Daily Kos Elections' David Nir puts it, "an oppo researcher's mescaline-fueled fantasy bender riding on pegasus-back."

And we're only starting to scratch the surface. A quick survey of Jackson's now dormant Twitter feed, @ewjsr (he now tweets at @Jackson4VA) shows that he is been remarkably consistent in his attacks on the gays, Muslims, and communists he believes are destroying the country from within.

"The 'homosexual religion' is the most virulent anti-Christian bigotry & hatred I've ever seen," he tweeted in October of 2009. "They have threatened me, but not vice versa."

That was around the same time he concluded that "[t]he homosexual movement is a cancer attacking vital organs of faith, family & military - repositories of traditional values." After President Obama addressed the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group, Jackson groveled that the organization wanted to "homosexualize the country." After Family Research Council president Tony Perkins was disinvited from an event at Andrews Air Force Base, Jackson called the Obama administration "the Gestapo." When Rush Limbaugh invited Elton John to perform at his wedding, Jackson called it "utterly disappointing." He referred to Democrats as "Demoncrats."

Elsewhere, Jackson describes President Obama as the "first homosexual President," and endorses an argument by Frank Gaffney that Obama is also the "First Muslim President."

Jackson, a Harvard Law School graduate and former student at Harvard Divinity School, recognized the contradiction in these statements, and openly struggled with it: "It will be interesting to see how Obama reconciles Islamicizing America with homosexualizing America," he tweeted. "Babylon v Sodom & Gomorrah." (The Baylonians weren't Muslim, but that's hardly the point.) Jackson considered it "tragic" that American foreign policy was, in his view, now "pro-Islam."

He was also bothered by the presence of practicing Muslims in the administration:

Jackson's fear of Muslims was such that after an Air France flight crashed into the Atlantic Ocean and a gunman opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, in 2009, he immediately alleged—citing absolutely nothing—that both events had been acts of Islamic terrorism. (The Holocaust Museum gunman was a white supremacist, and the Air France crash was ruled an accident). Responding to a report that Obama was hoping to use his space agency as a way of reaching out to to the Muslim world, he was indignant: "Obama's new mission for Nasa, not to explore space, but expand Islam! Huh?"

Given the last few days, this last tweet seems somewhat fitting. It's from 2010, and it's a stirring defense of another conservative activist whose unlikely nomination cost Republicans a once winnable race:

Tennessee Congressman Slams Holder on Pot Prosecution

| Thu May 16, 2013 10:17 AM EDT
Attorney General Eric Holder.

Attorney General Eric Holder's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee went exactly like you'd expect. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) grilled him on the excessive redaction of emails he'd requested relating to Secretary of Labor-nominee Tom Perez. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Penn.) grilled him on the investigation into leaked intelligence on the Benghazi attack. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) grilled him on his failure to recuse himself in writing from said leak investigation. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said some crazy things about asparagus.

But not everyone was as focused on the scandals du jour (or asparagus). In a rare moment of actual congressional outrage over federal sentencing guidelines and drug policy, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) used his allotted five minutes to question the administration's near-total refusal to make use of its pardon power—and its continued prosecution of marijuana offenses. The money quote:

One of the greatest threats to liberty has been the government taking people's liberty for things that people are in favor of. The Pew Research Group shows that 52 percent of Americans think that marijuana should not be illegal. And yet there are people in jail, and your Justice Department continues to put people in jail for sale and use, on occasion, of marijuana. That's something the American public has finally caught up with. It was a cultural lag, and it's been an injustice for 40 years in this country, to take people's liberty for something that was similar to alcohol. You have continued what is allowing the Mexican cartels power, and the power to make money, ruin Mexico, hurt our country, by having a prohibition in the late 20th- and 21st-century. We saw it didn't work in this country in the '20s, we remedied it. This is the time to remedy this prohibition, and I would hope you would do so.

Watch:

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