Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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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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Erick Erickson Mulling Whether to Be Next Todd Akin (UPDATE: He Won't)

| Fri Nov. 30, 2012 7:08 AM EST
RedState founder Erick Erickson.

Update: On Friday morning Erickson announced that he had decided not to challenge Chambliss. As he explained"Were I to run for the Senate, it would be a terribly nasty campaign. It’d actually be really awesome, but it’d be really nasty. I have a seven year old, a soon to be four year old, and a wife who does not like being anywhere near a stage. I’m not putting my family through that when the best outcome would mean a sizable pay cut in pay and being away from my kids and wife all the time huddled in a pit vipers often surrounded by too many who viewed me as a useful instrument to their own advancement." But, he added, Chambliss shouldn't rest easy: "We will find someone to catapult into the arena."

Erick Erickson has the itch. After years of backing conservative primary challenges to moderate GOPers, the RedState founder and CNN contributor is mulling a primary challenge of his own. He's thinking of taking on Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Georgia Republican who last weekend took the occasion of the fiscal cliff debate to publicly criticize anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. "Saxby Chambliss is waffling around like a dog off its leash for the first time," Erickson wrote in a post for RedState on Tuesday, before speculating that "[a] conservative from metro-Atlanta could put Saxby Chambliss in peril and we should work to make that happen." By then, he was telling his radio show listeners that he just might be the man for the job: "I've been very adamant, I wasn't going to do it, but after a few conversations today with a few heavy hitters in Washington, D.C. and some here in Georgia, I should at least consider it."

From his perch at RedState, Erickson has scored a few big wins in his plan to make the Republican Party walk and talk a bit more like Erick Erickson. He beat the drum early on Marco Rubio, back when then-Gov. Charlie Crist was the toast of the Republican establishment. He backed Ted Cruz for Senate when the former Texas solicitor general was flailing in the polls.

But he's chosen jesters as often as he's picked kings—and it's cost the Republican party dearly. He endorsed Sharron Angle in Nevada. He was among the first prominent conservatives to back Richard Mourdock's campaign against Sen. Richard Lugar. He backed Christine O'Donnell in her primary against former Rep. Mike Castle.

The only way Republicans could possibly stand any chance of losing a Senate seat in Georgia in 2014 is if they they nominated someone with a history of degrading comments about women and inflammatory views on abortion. That is, someone like Erick Erickson.

To recap, Erickson:

  • Expressed his surprise that "feminazis" had complained about then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's pro-life Super Bowl ad in 2010. As he put it: "That's what being too ugly to get a date does for your brain." That was followed by this tweet: "Turned on Twitter today and there was a barrage of angry feminists upset with me telling them to get in the kitchen and learn to cook."
  • Once called Michelle Obama a "Marxist Harpy Wife."
  • Referred to the first night of the Democrat National Convention as the "Vagina Monologues."
  • Dismissed bullying of a presumed gay classmate as: "Mitt Romney cut a hippy's hair at his preparatory high school."
  • Argued that civil war may be unavoidable if Roe v. Wade is not overturned. As Erickson put it: "[O]nce before, our nation was forced to repudiate the Supreme Court with mass bloodshed. We remain steadfast in our belief that this will not be necessary again, but only if those committed to justice do not waiver or compromise, and send a clear and unmistakable signal to their elected officials of what must be necessary to earn our support."
  • Called for more Willie Horton ads, citing the invisible scourge of the New Black Panthers: "The Democrats are giving a pass to radicals who advocate killing white kids in the name of racial justice and who try to block voters from the polls. The Democrats will scream racism. Let them. Republicans are not going to pick up significant black support anyway."
  • Contemplated shooting bureaucrats:

At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

At some point soon, it will happen. It’ll be over an innocuous issue. But the rage is building. It’s not a partisan issue. There is bipartisan angst at out of control government made worse by dumb bans like this and unintended consequences like AIG’s bonus problems.

If the GOP plays its cards right, it will have a winning issue in 2010. But it is going to have to get back to "leave me the hell alone" style federalism where the national government recedes and the people themselves will have to fight to take their states back from special interests out of touch with body politic as a whole.

Were I in Washington State, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation.

  • Contemplated shooting bureaucrats again:

I'm not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They're not going on my property. They can't do that. They don't have the legal right, and yet they're trying."

On the plus side for Georgia Republicans, at least Herman Cain's not running.

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NH Produces Weirdest Political Story of 2012, All Time

| Thu Nov. 29, 2012 10:58 AM EST
New Hampshire state Rep.-elect Tim O'Flaherty (D)

Democrats won big on election night in New Hampshire. They held onto the governor's office, took back two seats in Congress, and won control of the state house of representatives. But for progressives, the victories went even deeper than that: At least four seats in the legislature went to activists with the Occupy Wall Street satellite, Occupy New Hampshire. Granite State progressive blogger Bill Tucker catches the group touting its success on Facebook: "We aren't going to reveal names, they can if they want. But we have 4 or 5 people who were very involved Occupiers, and another handful who were part of the network—either already Reps or newly elected. We got juice—or maybe just a little pulp."

How did this happen? It's largely a consequence of the state's uniquely enormous legislature. At 400 members (for 1.3 million people) it's the third-largest legislative body in the English-speaking world, and you only need about a thousand votes to win a seat.

With the election wins, New Hampshire becomes the first state where Occupiers have secured an actual foothold in the political arena. But they're not the only group of ideological activists who are winning elections in the Granite State; they're following the trail already blazed by members of the Free State Project, the movement to repopulate New Hampshire with libertarians and slowly turn the state into a small-government (or no-government) paradise. As I reported in a piece for the magazine last summer, the movement has finally begun to make inroads in the state legislature, winning seats—while often keeping their affiliation under wraps—and then getting to work deregulating margarine and de-funding high-speed rail. As conservatives struggled statewide this November, the libertarians held their own. Free State Project president Carla Gericke announced:

Over the past eight years, FSP participants who have become state representatives went from zero to 1, to four, to 12-14 in 2010, to eleven this cycle. We only have 1,100 movers on the ground. With only 5% of our goal movers in NH, political FSP participants held onto the status quo while Republicans got trounced. Baby steps, people. It ain't called a "project" for nothing!

Take, for example, the case of newly elected Rep. Tim O'Flaherty, a self-described "anarchist" who ran as a Democrat and edged out Republican challenger Dan Garthwaite in a Manchester district. As it happens, both O'Flaherty and Garthwaite are supporters of the Free State Project. They're also roommates. The two rivals live at "Porc Manor," a Manchester home that's become a flophouse of sorts for Free States. (Supporters called themselves "porcupines" because they bristle only when provoked.) A 2009 landlord manual for Porc Manor offers tip for renting to Free Staters, noting that, for instance, "A lot of porcupines will frown on deposits, mostly because they feel their status as acknowledged defenders of property rights makes them immune to the reasons landlords require deposits."

Their living arrangement served as fuel for perhaps the most unusual storyline in any election this year, or maybe ever. As the Manchester Union-Leader's Mark Hayward explained:

In one of the more bizarre moments in the campaign, O'Flaherty wrote to Comedy Central's election Internet site to say he and Garthwaite are lovers, and the election would decide certain role-playing aspects of their relationship. (We're talking dominance and jackboots here.)

But O'Flaherty, who is gay, said he doesn't know Garthwaite well, and he made the comments to undermine his opponent with his Republican base.

No really, this actually happened. Here's what O'Flaherty told Comedy Central's Dan Poppy in an email:

Things were hot and heavy when Dan and I first met and we found ourselves living in the same boarding house. We have had some heated political arguments but I haven't been able to persuade Dan to turn from his Statist beliefs. Lately we've been looking for ways to keep things interesting in the bedroom and we've been exploring some roleplaying. Dan likes to play the cop/thug, forcing me to lick his jackboot.

I've become concerned recently that our roleplaying was counter-revolutionary and contrary to my anarchist principles. Violent revolt was a looming prospect but Dan (the consummate Statist and devout believer in the Democratic Faith) suggested we put the matter to a vote. We agreed we would both run for State Representative but on opposite sides of the ticket, the winner gets to choose his role to play in the bedroom.

Now voters in Manchester's Ward 5 will decide the outcome. If Dan beats me in the election his Statist domination will continue unchecked. If voters should choose me they will quite literally be saying "Fu*% the State(ist)." Please tell your readers to spew their vitriol on my Facebook page.

In his interview with the Union-Leader, O'Flaherty also floated an unusual hypothesis for his primary victory over former state Rep. Richard Komi: "He said Komi may have suffered from name problems; his name is similar to Joseph Kony, the Ugandan guerilla leader whose capture was encouraged by the Kony 2012 effort, a viral Internet video."

On November 8th, when the vote count in Manchester's Ward 5 was made official, O'Flaherty hopped on Facebook with a simple but deliberate message for his supporters: "Victory is mine!" He added, "It was the best $2 i've ever spent!"

And with that, New Hampshire may have finally outdone itself.

Idaho Lawmaker Promotes Bold New Plan to Elect Romney

| Wed Nov. 28, 2012 7:03 AM EST

Idaho state Sen. Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll (R) has found a daring plan to reverse the results of the November election and turn the keys to the Oval Office over to Mitt Romney: Boycott the Electoral College. Last Monday, Nuxoll, a Republican, blasted out a link on her Twitter feed to a new proposal from Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, explaining that if 17 Romney states rejected the Electoral College, they could throw the outcome of the election to the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. As Phillips put it, referring to episodes in which Democratic lawmakers crossed state lines to avoid controversial votes, "Democrats have actually set this precedent of refusing to participate to deny Republicans a quorum. They did this in Wisconsin and in Texas. Why can't we do this with the Electoral College?"

So is this possible? Has the key to a Romney presidency been hiding in plain sight all along? 

No.

Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review burst conservatives' bubble, and snagged the quotes of the year:

Constitutional scholar David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University, said the plan is not "totally constitutional," as touted in the article, but is instead "a radical, revolutionary proposal that has no basis in federal law or the architecture of the Constitution."

Adler called it "really a strange and bizarre fantasy."

Nuxoll said, "Well, I guess that's one lawyer."

Annnnnd scene.

Rick Santorum Takes on Treaty for Disabled Kids

| Tue Nov. 27, 2012 1:44 PM EST

According to my Google Alerts, Monday's big Rick Santorum news (such as it is) was his declaration on Piers Morgan's talk show that he is "open" to another presidential run in 2016. We sort of knew that, though, and anyway it's 2012 right now; the speculation can wait. The real story is what he did with the rest of the day. Dana Milbank explains:

Santorum, joined by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), declared his wish that the Senate reject the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities — a human rights treaty negotiated during George W. Bush’s administration and ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The former presidential candidate pronounced his “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared at a news conference.

The treaty, which is up for ratification in the Senate, has plenty of Republican support (Arizona Sen. John McCain backs it). But it's become a rallying cry on the far-right, where conservative Christian activists fear that it will water down American sovereignty and threaten families. As homeschooling activist Michael Farris put it in August, "My kid wears glasses, now they’re disabled, now the UN gets control over them; my child's got a mild case of ADHD, now you’re under control of the UN treaty."

The United Nations isn't really coming for your kids. As Milbank points out, the treaty exists mainly to nudge other countries a little closer the United States' standards. The irony here is that is Santorum's daughter Bella, who he brought with him to the press conference, is precisely the kind of special-needs child the treaty is designed to protect. But much like his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and its prohibition on denying access to people with expensive preexisting conditions, Santorum's paranoid fears of a Big-Brother takeover only serve to undermine policies that are designed to benefit families like his own.

Bachmann's Ed Allies Warned of Mind Control Scheme

| Tue Nov. 20, 2012 3:28 PM EST

Since we reported last week on Georgia GOPers' four-hour, closed-door briefing on a planned United Nations takeover of the Deep South, the event's organizer, Sen. Chip Rogers (R) has dropped his bid for another term as majority leader and distanced himself from the contents of the presentation. On Monday a spokesman told the Huffington Post that Rogers "probably sat politely if he was there, that is his style."

But the conspiracy in question—that liberals like President Barack Obama are using a mind-control technique called "Delphi" to push a one world government with the aim of foisting sustainable development on the world's citizens, as outlined in a decades-old UN agreement called "Agenda 21"—actually has much deeper roots. How deep? As Bluestem Prairie blogger Sally Jo Sorensen points out, the Delphi siren was sounded in 2002 by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's allies at the education watchdog, the Maple River Education Coalition. That year, when Bachmann was still speaking at group functions and pushing its policies at the state capitol, the MREC hawked a two-page instructional document titled, "Beware the Delphi Technique." It warned:

The Delphi Technique was developed by the RAND Corporation, a liberal think tank, in the 1960s. It was developed originally as a way of using repeated surveying of a group of people to bring them to agreement or "consensus."

The original survey technique has been adapted for use in controlling and manipulating meetings or study groups called to get public input for issues in education, police community relations, state control of child care, etc.

Delphi was framed as the vehicle by which central planners at the state and federal level would ultimately break down the walls of sovereignty and push a pantheistic global union. But all was not lost; there was an easy way out:

Maple River Education CoalitionMaple River Education Coalition

Bachmann, as far as I can tell, never discussed Delphi directly. But it was a pretty integral aspect of the MREC's push against the Profile of Learning, the Minnesota curriculum standard that launched Bachmann's career in public life. Beginning in 1998, she criss-crossed the state on behalf of the group and maintained close ties with the MREC during her time as a state Senator in St. Paul. In hearings as a state Senator Bachmann used her platform to push the Agenda 21 conspiracy in a fashion that would have fit in at the Georgia state capitol; she once questioned a panel of professors on whether they supported population controls or intended to ban humans from living in certain areas. She also fretted that the United Nations definition of sustainable development would lead to a moratorium on light bulb production.

In early November, Bachmann scored the narrowest re-election victory of her congressional career despite the fact that her district became more conservative after redistricting. She held off a challenge from Democrat Jim Graves by just one point—in a district that Mitt Romney won by 15. Raving against sustainable development helped launch Bachmann's career, but if this month's election results are any indication, her frequently conspiratorial warnings may also be what eventually brings it to an end.

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