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Voting and Assault Weapons

President Bill Clinton was right when he said, “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.”

From TP:

While Clinton also called on America to implement health care reform and invest in science and education, the gun line elicited the biggest controversy, leading Alex Seitz-Wald to fact-check the claim. As it turns out, Clinton is correct: individuals can buy assault weapons without showing identification in more than 30 states, while federal law prohibits states from allowing individuals to vote without some form of identification. In recent years, 13 states have passed stricter voter ID requirements and half a dozen more are considering voter suppression measures in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling invalidating a key section of the Voting Rights Act.

In fact, a ThinkProgress analysis found that anyone can obtain assault rifles from unlicensed dealers at gun shows or online without a background check in 39 states. Zero states allow people to vote without some proof of identification:

By |2013-08-30T07:12:55-04:00August 30th, 2013|Civil Rights, Elections|Comments Off on Voting and Assault Weapons

I was going to say that

Over the last 24 hours a story about Romney at a fundraiser has exploded. David Brooks, who can be very thoughtful at times, simply roasts Romney.

Steve has beaten me to the punch:

As the political world digests the significance of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” controversy, I’ve seen this comparison come up quite a bit.

It was just four years ago that Obama was recorded at his own closed-door event talking about how people “cling to guns and religion” when things don’t go well in their lives.

The parallels between the two situations are striking; both feature the candidate inartfully characterizing people who support the other team. Of course, Romney’s comments will be much more important to this campaign, given that they aren’t four years old.

Conor Friedersdorf is thinking along the same lines, referencing “Mitt Romney’s ‘Clinging to Guns or Religion’ Moment.”

The superficial similarities are, of course, obvious. Both involve presidential candidates getting caught on secret videos saying something politically embarrassing, while speaking behind closed doors to supporters.

But I think the parallels effectively end there. In fact, on a substantive level, the two secretly-recorded videos are actually opposites.

It’s been four years, but if you go back and look at Obama’s comments, the then-senator was talking about white, working-class voters who feel politically skeptical as the economy has left them behind, but he told his supporters that he intends to fight for these voters’ support anyway. Obama defended these folks, said they have a right to be “bitter,” and explained why he felt like his plan would meet these voters’ needs.

Romney’s comments, meanwhile, offer an entirely different perspective — instead of defending those who may skeptical of him, the Republican is writing them off, chastising them for considering themselves “victims” and failing to “take personal responsibility.” While Obama’s comments show his desire to fight for every last vote, even in communities where he wouldn’t expect to be popular, Romney said, “[M]y job is not to worry about those people.”

They offer fascinating bookends that tell us a great deal about these candidates’ values, but to see them as similar is a mistake.

By |2012-09-18T19:53:28-04:00September 18th, 2012|Elections, Party Politics|1 Comment

Olbermann is suspended and I have a few questions

Here’s what I don’t understand. Is there a policy at MSNBC or not? If there is, then is it being applied to everyone or only to Keith Olbermann?

From Josh Marshall at TPM:

I find the Keith Olbermann story bizarre, on both sides but mainly on MSNBC’s. First, political contribution records are the most public thing in the world for anyone who is even somewhat in the public eye, certainly for someone who courts controversy. So political giving strikes me as something done entirely in the open for someone of Olbermann’s stature. On the one hand that sounds like MSNBC is flipping out about something that must have been all but an open secret. On the other, if this is MSNBC’s policy, why was Olbermann openly flouting it?

Second, MSNBC’s policy forbids employees from making donations to political candidates, unless they ask for permission to do so, in which it seems usually to be granted. That seems to me to undercut the principle behind the policy.

But of course all of this pales behind the larger point which is that Olbermann’s job at MSNBC is to be an extremely opinionated commentator on politics. And he’s the centerpiece (along with Maddow and more equivocally, Matthews) behind the business strategy of making MSNBC the liberal cable news/chat network. (How they square that with simultaneously having a more traditional and by the books NBC News is something they clearly have yet to work out.) But when you take that all into account, seeing him now all but canned over a handful of individual political contributions because he’s compromised the objectivity he’s supposed to bring to the job sounds like a bit of a joke.

Greg Mitchell comments on the media for The Nation. Here’s what he has had to say:

Just hours after Politico dug up the fact that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, a few days ago, had donated to three Democrats running for office, the cable news network suspended the newsman / commentator without pay indefinitely.  Olbermann has not yet responded and it is unclear when, or if, he will return.

A little later, Rachel Maddow tackled the episode, saying that she understands the NBC rules about asking permission before making a donation–as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough apparently did at least once.  But she insisted that the “point” had been made and “we need Keith back.” She then profiled the multitude of Fox hosts donating to, fundraising for and outright endorsing Republicans.  “We are not a political operation,” she said. “Fox is. We are a news operation. And the rules around here are part of how you know that.”  Here’s a transcript.

More from Greg Mitchell:

Liberal bloggers were quick to point out that  Scarborough, once and current MSNBC host, donated $4200 to a House candidate in 2006.   Records also show that Scarborough made a $5000 contribution to a candidate earlier this year.  He claims the records are wrong — the donation was from his wife.

It recently came to light that Fox’s Sean Hannity, and his wife, each gave $5000 to Michele Bachmann.  Neil Cavuto has also donated to candidates.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post raises the question: Did Olbermann even violate the network’s policy?   Activists are already circulating petitions — more than 100,000 signed by the end of the evening —  and jamming NBC phone lines.

By |2010-11-06T11:15:28-04:00November 6th, 2010|Countdown, Media, Rachel Maddow Show|Comments Off on Olbermann is suspended and I have a few questions
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