Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama and the Politics of Gun Control [UPDATED]

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UPDATED (1/15/13): On the one-month anniversary of Newtown, we heard yet more news about gun control from our mayor and president.

In Baltimore, Bloomberg attended a summit on the topic at John Hopkins University and, once again, called for more action on a national level. His speech outlined his federal advisory role we mentioned in this post a few weeks ago; in it, he made clear the specific demands he has been discussing with Vice President Joe Biden's task force.

In Washington, Obama gave the final press conference of his first term. Before chastising the House Republicans for debt ceiling stalemates, the president made clear that he would be reviewing the VP's work this week. In addition, he stressed the need for a federal assault weapons ban -- a demand that Bloomberg made clear just a few cities away.

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What The Fiscal Cliff Means for New York, Pt. 2


Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admitted his cynicism towards a fiscal cliff compromise, blaming the House Republicans' "dictatorship." The New York Post's cover featured a diver jumping off a cliff, with the catchy headline "This Fall Is Really Going to Hurt." We later found out that a handful of legislators aren't even back in Washington yet. 

Basically, the morale level is pretty low right now for something serious to get done in less than a week.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, we collected the New York-only consequences from a failure to solve this impending "crisis." They included: a $43 billion tax increase for 8.9 million working Americans; 3.4 million people now forced to pay the federal alternative minimum tax; a drop of $609 million in funds for Albany; and a loss of $164 million for our schools. New Year's Eve wasn't supposed to hurt this badly.

Hopefully, you're sitting somewhere near a stress ball while reading this. And, after you're done, make sure you buy another one because we have two more major things to add to this list: a huge blow to unemployment benefits and Hurricane Sandy recovery funds.
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NY GOP Confident, Arrogant at Midtown "Victory Party"

Categories: #AskObama
The New York State Republican Party is holding its election night "victory party" on the third floor of the Westin Grand Central in Midtown right now, and spirits are high amongst GOPers as their horse in this year's presidential election appears to stand a chance at pulling off a victory.

"I think it's gonna be close vote-wise," one GOPer said before returns started coming in, "but Romney's gonna crush [Obama] in the electoral college."

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The Mayor on the Election: Romney, Obama Economic Plans "Are Not Real"

Since he endorsed then-president Bush in 2004, Mayor Bloomberg has remained relatively mum during the election season. He didn't endorse anyone in 2008 and will not do so this year either. The Republican-turned-independent politician likes to pull strings from the outside instead: Just last week, the billionaire told the press that he would be creating his own SuperPAC to funnel funds to Congressional candidates that shared his political views. 

By doing so, the mayor hopes to influence a different level of the national stage. And that makes sense, given that he doesn't seem to like the two presidential candidates too much.

In an interview with The New York Times yesterday, Bloomberg spilled the beans on all his electoral emotions, much to the dismay of the Romney and Obama tents. Needless to say, the criticisms were harsh for both sides, but the icing on the cake of it all was the mayor's overarching referendum on the candidates' policies:

"Their economic plans are not real. I think that's clear. If you listen to what they say, they never get explicit." (For Romney, at least, a whole website has been dedicated to that idea: Ladies and gentlemen, we give you...

The mayor has spoken.
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Why The Ryan/Biden Debate Will Be Inherently More Entertaining

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The gaffer.
America is still letting out an exhausted sigh from the debate two nights ago in Denver. At this point, who knows who won, and who actually cares? The best/worst part of it all, as my colleague James King pointed out, is that Donald Trump was mentioned two times in 90 minutes; that's two times more than the number of times Trump should ever be mentioned in a presidential debate.

Nevertheless, the next two meetings between Romney and Obama will likely produce more "mehs" from the begrudging national audience. Don't worry, Election Day will be over soon enough. At least we hope so.

The pointdexter.

But, Romney and Obama aside, we are forgetting a very important part of the American democratic process: the vice presidential debate. Next Wednesday, in lieu of the big boys fighting again, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will face off at Centre College in Kentucky. The topics: domestic and foreign policy. The expectations: With last Wednesday in mind, it's evident that the VP debate will be much more entertaining then what we saw with Romney/Obama.

with these two characters involved.
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Obama Demands Birth Certificate From Innocent Child in Orlando

It's been three years of bullying for Obama and his origin of birth. Even after he showed us a video of his Miracle of Life ala the opening scene of 'The Lion King,' Donald Trump and the army of birthers - an entire sub-sect of our political culture that is named after their one ideology: Obama wasn't born in America - continued the clarion call for the President's papers. And this accusation has leaked a bit onto the national stage, with Romney cracking a birther 'joke' a few weeks back ago at a campaign stop.

The President just cannot escape the birth certificate thing, no matter how many times he releases the long-form version or flashes pictures of his mother and father to the press. Needless to say, Obama has become the weak geek whose constantly getting jumped for his lunch money in this only-in-America situation. That teenage angst and isolation boils up over time; soon enough, the geek has the courage to man up to the bullies. 

That or simply take out one's frustration on someone even smaller.
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Eastwood Explains His Improv, Invisible Obama and the Stool

When we reported a few weeks back that Clint Eastwood endorsed Mitt Romney, we had no idea that the campaign would give him the podium; one that was being watched by millions of people. Or that he would give one of the most memorable speeches in convention history. Needless to say, we were gleefully surprised by it all (as was most of Twitter and the blogosphere).

While the media tried to decipher the cultural/political/economic implications of the speech, Eastwood remained silent on his remarks. Until yesterday: in an interview with the Carmel Pine Cone, the newspaper of the town in which Eastwood used to be Mayor, Clint had a few things to say about what exactly happened in Tampa. He called the Obama administration the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and told reporter Paul Miller the inside story.

So, here at the Voice, we're going to take you through the good, the bad and the ugly of Clint Eastwood's speech, one theme and one defense at a time.
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With Business/Birther Quips, Romney Flip-Flops With Humor

A week or so back, fellow Voice scribe James King argued that Vice President Joe Biden brings nothing to the Democratic ticket except awkward gaffes and constant smacks to the head by the DNC. This came off the news that Biden told a crowd of mostly African-American citizens that Romney's policies would "put y'all back in chains." Ouch.

But the thing about Biden is that he is a consistent gaffer; throughout his career in politics, he's been prone to mess up the names of states, the audience he's speaking to and other sensitive subjects. So, it comes as no surprise when we read a headline that includes 'Biden' and 'gaffe' in the same sentence; Obama chose him more so for his foreign policy knowledge, not for his keen knack for bad publicity.

That's what separates him from Romney's unintentional statements. With Mitt, his gaffes show us a flare of Mitt that is both cruel and contrary to past statements. By now, the entire country has pretty much accepted the fact that he has flip-flopped on every policy notion argued in Congress since 1865. It's whatever; we get it, people change over time. 

But, in the past day or two, Romney has somehow ventured into a new area of flip-flopping that has been previously untouched by the Republican ticket: humor - something he has never been an expert on, except that time he told David Letterman that he was the generic guy in the photo that came with the picture frame. Whether it was unintentional or not, Romney rehashed criticisms he used himself just months ago for talking points; in one case, in the form of a joke.

Let the gaffes begin.

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We All Hate Obama -- Hank Williams, Jr., Just Had to Remind Us

The man of the hour.
After today's news that Paul Ryan is a huge Rage Against the Machine fan, we are continuing into the weird vortex of politics and music. And what a strange place it always tends to be.

Yesterday was the Iowa State Fair and, headlining the Midwestern fun in the infamous caucus state, Hank Williams, Jr., was out in full force. The country singer played all his hits - we forgot the names but we assure you that they were some great tracks - and the crowd loved him. Especially after he said some harsh words about the commander-in-chief.

Joe Lawler, a reporter for the Des Moines Register, stood in the crowd and witnessed Hank play a relatively calm show... until the end. Before the show's close, the singer yelled out,

"We've got a Muslim President who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!"

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A Contraceptive Calamity in Colorado

Next Wednesday, against the Obama administration's will, a political firestorm will be unleashed: the provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that forces businesses to pay for employees' contraceptives without a co-pay goes into effect. You may remember this little ticking time bomb at the beginning of the fiscal year; it had the Catholic Church up in arms, forcing the Obama administration to enforce an exclusionary rule that allowed religious establishments to opt out of the provision.

Well, yesterday, one of those angry businesses with a Catholic flair to it took the provision to court... and won (kinda). Hercules Industries, the plaintiff in the case known as Hercules v. Sebelius, argued that the provision infringed upon the business's right to freely exercise their religious beliefs. The exclusionary rule mentioned above only allows establishments that primarily serve members of their faith a one-year break but Hercules, an air conditioning company owned by siblings who are against birth control, doesn't fall under that category. We wonder why.

The U.S. District Court for Colorado ordered a three-month injunction to the business, halting the provision from taking effect next week. Instead, the court will revisit the law in its legal format; in other words, an enormous headache for the folks behind Obamacare.
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