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.

Get my RSS |

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Report: The Government is Really, Really Bad at Keeping Records About Chemical Plants

| Thu Aug. 29, 2013 10:03 AM EDT

In April, a massive explosion ripped apart a fertilizer storage facility in West, Texas, killing 12 first responders and injuring at least 200 people. This didn't have to happen—as Mother Jones reporter previously, the disaster was a product of lax regulation and mismanagement at various levels of government, and a company that had taken few steps to protect itself or the community. (The county didn't even have a fire code.)

Just how bad is the oversight of chemical facilities like West Fertilizer Co.? According to a new report in the Dallas Morning News, 90 percent of the federal government's chemical safety data is wrong:

A Dallas Morning News analysis of more than 750,000 federal records found pervasive inaccuracies and holes in data on chemical accidents, such as the one in West that killed 15 people and injured more than 300.

In fact, no one at any level of government knows how often serious chemical accidents occur each year in the United States. And there is no plan in place for federal agencies to gather more accurate information.

As a result, the kind of data sharing ordered by President Barack Obama in response to West is unlikely to improve the government’s ability to answer even the most basic questions about chemical safety.

And that's just the beginning. Give it a read.

Black Parents Need to Get It Together, Says Former Tea Party Congressman Sued Over Child Support

| Wed Aug. 28, 2013 10:20 AM EDT
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, an event organized by a badass gay activist and keynoted by Martin Luther King Jr.'s (copyrighted) "I Have a Dream" speech. It's a time for reflection on where the United States has been and where it's headed.

Unless you're former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.).

Walsh, a tea partier elected in the conservative wave of 2010, has reinvented himself as a talk radio host after getting trounced last fall by Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth. On Wednesday, Walsh celebrated King's legacy by drafting a list of problems he believes afflict African Americans, such as an unwillingness to take responsibility for their own lives, and a total dependency on "the government plantation":

I have a dream that all black parents will have the right to choose where their kids attend school.

I have a dream that all black boys and girls will grow up with a father.

I have a dream that young black men will stop shooting other young black men.

I have a dream that all young black men will say "no" to gangs and to drugs.

I have a dream that all black young people will graduate from high school.

I have a dream that young black men won't become fathers until after they're married and they have a job.

I have a dream that young unmarried black women will say "no" to young black men who want to have sex.

I have a dream that today's black leadership will quit blaming racism and "the system" for what ails black America.

I have a dream that black America will take responsibility for improving their own lives.

I have a dream that one day black America will cease their dependency on the government plantation, which has enslaved them to lives of poverty, and instead depend on themselves, their families, their churches, and their communities.

You can listen to the audio of Walsh himself reading it, if you hate yourself.

Walsh's dream that all black boys and girls will have fathers who play an active role in their lives and wean them away from a culture of dependency is somewhat ironic given that his ex-wife sued him in 2011 for $117,437 in overdue child support payments. (The former couple settled in 2012; details of the settlement have not been released, although Walsh's ex-wife released a statement at the time saying the congressman was not a "deadbeat.")

No, the New York Times Didn't Change Its "Fuck" Policy

| Mon Aug. 26, 2013 11:29 AM EDT

On Monday, Salon's Laura Miller reported on an almost mythical creature—an actual F-bomb in the pages of the New York Times. According to Miller, the use of the word "fuck," in an excerpt from Jonathan Lethem's new novel Dissident Gardens, constituted the paper of record's "first ever use of the word." As she put it, "With the discretion of a well-bred debutante, the Times has just lost its F-bomb virginity, so to speak." Lethem, reached for comment, told Miller he was "delighted."

But it's not the first time the paper has used "fuck" or one of its variants. The Times' anti-profanity editorial policy is, as Salon has chronicled before, often absurd, leading to the awkward censorship of band names, book titles, and, at least once, the vice president of the United States. But it only applies to nonfiction. A quick search through the paper's archives reveals dozens of instances of F-bombs casually inserted in fiction excerpts. Most of the time those are online-only features that supplement print reviews, but occasionally the word makes its way into the paper itself. And in some extenuating circumstances, such as the publication of the 1998 Starr Report, the paper's news desk has consented to publish the F-word as it appears in quotes.

And there's this, which was excerpted in the September 21, 2003, edition of the Times: "He might even be truly sick, fucked up, in pain, who knew? Your only option was to say dang, white boy, what's your problem? I didn't even touch you. And move on." A few paragraphs later: "Play that fucking music, white boy! Stretching the last two words to a groaning, derisive, Bugs-Bunnyesque whyyyyyyyboy!"

The author? Jonathan Lethem.

Thu Oct. 1, 2015 10:23 AM EDT
Thu Aug. 13, 2015 5:00 AM EDT
Wed Aug. 12, 2015 9:46 AM EDT