Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

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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GOP Sen. Wants to Require a Two-Thirds Majority for Gun Laws

| Fri Mar. 22, 2013 3:30 PM EDT
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

The Senate is expected to reject an assault weapons ban when it's introduced as an amendment to a large gun control package next month. But Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) isn't taking any chances. On Friday, the first-term conservative is planning on filing an amendment to the Senate budget resolution making it impossible for any gun control legislation to pass the Senate without a two-thirds majority—a standard currently reserved for the ratification of treaties. (That's an even higher threshold than that imposed by filibusters, which can be broken with 60 votes.)

"[I]f the Lee amendment is passed, the practical effect will be that gun control can never again pass the Senate," the far-right Second Amendment group Gun Owners of America boasted in an email to members on Friday.

Lee's amendment won't pass. But the fact that Republicans would consider carving out an entirely new voting threshold just for gun control legislation tells you just how little ground they're willing to concede, at least publicly, on this fight.

Here's the amendment:

 

Former Obama Official Compares Glenn Beck's Attacks to Orwell's "Two Minutes Hate"

| Thu Mar. 21, 2013 11:17 AM EDT
Former Fox News host Glenn Beck

In a new book, former senior Obama administration official Cass Sunstein compares former Fox News host Glenn Beck's harsh attacks on his record to George Orwell's 1984, and blasts what he calls the "the true terribleness of the contemporary confirmation process."

Sunstein, a former law professor at Harvard and the University of Chicago, was nominated in 2009 to be director of the little-known Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs—a job that quickly took on the sobriquet of "regulatory czar." His long record of books and speeches quickly became fodder for Beck, who dubbed Sunstein "the most dangerous man in America." In his soon-to-be-released book, Simpler: The Future of Government, Sunstein notes that Beck "developed what appeared to be a kind of obsession with me" and says that the unrelenting criticism from this tea party leader and other conservative pundits triggered more threatening messages:

In Orwell's 1984, there is a brilliant, powerful, and frightening scene of the "Two Minutes Hate," in which party members must watch a film depicting national enemies. (As it happens, the leading enemy is named Goldstein.) At times, Beck's attacks on me, featuring my smiling face, were not entirely unlike those scenes. A new website was created, stopsunstein.com, filled with inflammatory quotations, some taken out of context to suggest that I endorsed views that I rejected and was merely describing.

I began to receive a lot of hate mail, including death threats, at my unlisted home address. One of them stated, "If I were you I would resign immediately. A well-paid individual, who is armed, knows where you live."

Beck wasn't the only right-wing leader who had Sunstein in his sights. In 2009, Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, bashed Sunstein as "a radical animal rights extremist who makes PETA look like cheerleaders with pooper-scoopers," and he alleged that Sunstein "wants to give legal standing to animals so they can sue you for eating meat."

In his book, Sunstein's response to the attacks from hunting and agriculture groups is succinct: "OMG."

Despite all the conservative opposition to Sunstein, he survived the confirmation process and was approved by the Senate on a 57-40 vote—after having to ensure fence-sitting senators he would not in his new post ban hunting or steal guns. Following the vote, he met with Obama in the Oval Office, and Rahm Emanuel greeted him with a sarcastic exclamation: "Fifty-seven to 40! That's a landslide!"

Arizona One Step Closer to Using Gold Bullion as Currency

| Wed Mar. 20, 2013 2:01 PM EDT

On Monday, an Arizona House of Representatives committee took its most serious step yet to prevent the state from descending into a post-apocalyptic Thunderdome—it passed legislation too allow gold and silver bullion to be used in private transactions and tax payments. Per Bloomberg Businessweek:

These doomsayers are pushing forward legislation that would declare privately minted gold and silver coins legal tender, no different under state law than the U.S. dollar printed by the federal Department of Treasury.

The measure is Arizona's latest jab at the federal government, which prohibits states from minting their own money. It also reflects a growing distrust of government-backed money.

"The public sees the value in it," said Republican Rep. Steve Smith, of Maricopa. "This is the type of currency we have had over the history of mankind."

As I explained back in 2011, there has been a renewed push by state legislators, motivated by former Rep. Ron Paul's candidacy, to return their states to so-called "sound money" systems. Currently, Utah is the only state that has passed such a bill—but without a system for storing and transferring gold, it hasn't really gotten off the ground.

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