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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Dems Nominate Anti-Gay Conspiracy Theorist for Senate

| Fri Aug. 3, 2012 1:24 PM EDT
Tennessee Senate candidate Mark Clayton

Update, 2:55 p.m.: Via the Tennessean, the Tennessee Democratic party has condemned Clayton, saying in a statement that he is "associated with a known hate group" (a reference to Public Advocate of the United States), and blaming his victory on the fact that his name appeared first on the ballot.

Mark Clayton believes the federal government is building a massive, four-football-field wide superhighway from Mexico City to Toronto as part of a secret plot to establish a new North American Union that will bring an end to America as we know it. On Thursday, he became the Tennessee Democrats' nominee for US Senate.

Clayton, an anti-gay-marriage activist and flooring installer with a penchant for fringe conspiracy theories, finished on top of a crowded primary field in the race to take on GOP Sen. Bob Corker this fall. He earned 26 percent of the vote despite raising no money and listing the wrong opponent on his campaign website. The site still reads, "DEDICATED TO THE DEFEAT OF NEO-CONSERVATIVE LAMAR ALEXANDER," whom Clayton tried to challenge in 2008. (That year, he didn't earn the Democratic nomination.)

On his issues page, Clayton sounds more like a member of the John Birch Society than a rank-and-file Democrat. He says he's against national ID cards, the North American Union, and the "NAFTA superhighway," a nonexistent proposal that's become a rallying cry in the far-right fever swamps. Elsewhere, he warns of an encroaching "godless new world order" and suggests that Americans who speak out against government policies could some day be placed in "a bone-crushing prison camp similar to the one Alexander Solzhenitsyn was sent or to one of FEMA's prison camps." (There are no FEMA prison camps.)

In April 2008, Clayton issued a press release accusing Google of censoring his campaign website on behalf the Chinese government:

After spending the opening three weeks of the campaign ranked between first and third place on the first page for users who type "mark clayton senate" into the widely used internet search engine, Google, the Clayton campaign website has utterly vanished from rankings, and is nowhere to be found in the first ten pages.

Google is suspected to be acting in concert with the Communist Chinese government, which in past months has been extremely sensitive to global outrage at its treatment toward Tibet. As the Olympics, which are to be held in China, draw nearer, pro-humanitarian voices have increasingly exasperated and embarrassed the authoritarian Beijing regime.

Clayton has another intriguing theory. This one involves a former governor of California: "Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, wants to amend the Constitution so that he can become president and fulfill Hitler's superman scenario."

The closest thing Clayton has to political experience is his work as vice president of a Virginia-based organization called Public Advocate of the United States. The group's mission, per its website, is to restore the country to its conservative Christian roots. Public Advocate supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, opposes abortion rights, and believes the Boy Scouts are under assault from the gay agenda. The group refers to mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Tom Menino of Boston as "pro-homosexual socialist dictators" for stating their opposition to the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. (It also issued a statement condemning the "gay muppets.")

Clayton's primary victory is only the latest blow for the Tennessee Democrats in a state that's becoming redder every year. Democrats lost three congressional seats during the 2010 midterms, plus control of the governor's mansion. Corker, a rising GOP star who edged Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. by just 2.7 points in 2006, is now virtually assured of another six years in Washington. The political shift is more pronounced at the local level, where Republicans have taken advantage of their new-found dominance in Nashville to advance far-right proposals like a bill to criminalize Shariah law and to ban the discussion of homosexuality from public schools.

With a conspiracy theorist now a leader of the state Democratic party, the local GOP—a bastion of evolution and climate change denialism—has an opening: It can be the party of rationality.

Tennessee Democratic Senate nominee Mark Clayton (third from left) during his 2008 campaign. Clayton for SenateTennessee Democratic Senate nominee Mark Clayton (third from left) during his 2008 campaign Clayton for Senate

The Texas GOP Just Nominated a Gay-Hating Conspiracy Theorist for US Senate

| Wed Aug. 1, 2012 10:07 AM EDT
US Senate candidate Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

On Tuesday, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz walloped the state's lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, to ice the GOP nomination to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. In a place where Democrats haven't won a statewide election since the 1990s, that all but guarantees Cruz will join the world's most deliberative body next January. The Washington Post's Sean Sullivan calls it "a victory for the tea party and national conservatives who lined up behind Cruz even when a surprise win appeared unlikely." This is mostly true, but there's something else that's worth noting about the GOP's fresh young face: For someone with a reputation as an "intellectual force," he holds some pretty out-there views.

He thinks George Soros wants to ban golf: Like many conservatives, Cruz believes that the United States' sovereignty is under assault from an obscure United Nations agreement called Agenda 21. Although Agenda 21 does not have the force of law, right-wingers believe the treaty's sustainable-development precepts will force Americans to live in "hobbit homes" and forcibly relocate residents from rural areas into densely populated urban cores. "Agenda 21 sounds like absolute crazy conspiracy theory nut stuff, but it's not," explains Glenn Beck. As Cruz puts it on his website:

The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property. He has given millions to this project. But he is not the only one promoting this plan; in fact, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) now consists of over 600 cities in the United States.

Agenda 21 attempts to abolish "unsustainable" environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth’s surface unscratched by mankind. Everyone wants clean water and clean air, but Agenda 21 dehumanizes individuals by removing the very thing that has defined Americans since the beginning—our freedom.

As Senator, he's pledged to confront the Agenda 21 menace head-on. Here's a video of Cruz discussing the treaty with Beck, in which Cruz concurs that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could become vessels for the mass eviction of rural Americans in the name of sustainable development:

He thinks Shariah is creeping: At a campaign forum in July, Cruz told a questioner that "Shariah law is an enormous problem" in the United States. Although plenty of Texas Republicans have voiced concerns about the slow creep of Islamic law into their state, there's no evidence that that's actually happening.

He believes in nullification: Before the Supreme Court upheld the legality of the Affordable Care Act once and for all, Cruz argued that Obamacare could simply be nullified by states if they disagreed with it. He believed that if two or more states formed an "interstate compact," they could ignore the law because the compact supersedes federal regulation. He also thinks Medicare is unconstitutional.

He's really, really proud of his executions: The Texas Observer's Anthony Zurcher, who has a very good profile of Cruz, breaks it down:

Cruz claims he's proudest of the 2008 case Medellín v. Texas. He cited the case by name during his closing statement at the January 12 GOP Senate candidates' debate in Austin. It's easy to understand why. The case featured a United Nations court, federal government intrusion on state power and a Texas favorite: the death penalty. The case involved Jose Medellín, a Mexican citizen on death row for the rape and murder of two teenage girls in Houston, and 50 other similarly situated Mexican nationals who had not been informed of their right to seek legal assistance from the Mexican government following their arrests. Mexico had challenged the convictions before the International Court of Justice, which ruled that the United States had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and that the cases should be reopened.

The Bush administration attempted to force a recalcitrant Texas appeals court to reconsider Medellín's case in light of the international court’s decision and U.S. treaty obligations. Cruz countered that neither the international tribunal nor the federal government could tell Texas courts what to do.

Medellín was executed in 2011. Cruz was so excited he made it into a campaign ad:

He is afraid of teh gayz: During the primary, Cruz used his opposition to gay rights as a wedge against lesser opponents like former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, noting that his opponent had marched in not one but two pride parades. "When the mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride, that's a statement. It's not a statement I believe in":

On his website, he brags about his work nullifying the divorce of two gay men who had gotten married in Vermont, noting that "When a Beaumont state court granted a divorce to two homosexual men who had gotten a civil union in Vermont, Cruz, under the leadership of Attorney General Greg Abbott, intervened in defense of the marriage laws of the State of Texas, which successfully led to the court judgment being vacated." As solicitor general, he fought to protect the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scout leaders. At the Values Voters summit last October, Cruz warned that American politics had been hijacked by the "gay rights agenda." If Cruz is really going to be a 21st-century political star, he'll have to work on the "21st century" part.

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