That is the question posed by Jonathan Backer of the Brennan Center. In response to the claim that big money lost in 2012 (also addressed here), Backer points to the $20 million spent by the NRA in 2012 and suggests that spending influenced the votes of Sens. Mark Begich (AK), Mark Pryor (AR) and Lindsey Graham (SC) on universal background checks. But is NRA spending really the catalyst for their votes?
Both Begich and Graham have “A” ratings from the NRA suggesting they have previously supported NRA stances on various gun legislation. Given this, why should we assume NRA spending is the reason for their vote as opposed to ideological reasons? Perhaps they are ideologically predisposed to support the NRA position.
And while Pryor has a “C” rating, other potentially vulnerable Democratic Sens. Hagan (NC), Landrieu (LA) and Rockefeller (WV) voted for cloture and have a “C” rating or lower. They also voted for the Manchin amendment. These are states where the NRA could potentially invest in spending against them in 2014. Why is the NRA a threat to Pryor but not these equally vulnerable candidates?
To assume the threat of NRA spending is the primary reason for their vote on the Manchin Amendment, we have to rule out all other possible motives, which is not reasonable when there are other alternatives, such as ideology or local political considerations.
Specifically, Twitter. I haven’t followed the #txlege on Twitter this year, and really haven’t been the worse for it. However, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency bill’s death lead to a Twitter brouhaha last night - involving slurs, fake accounts and general pettiness. Let this be an example of how not to engage on social media.
(h/t: Houston Chronicle)
Texas Monthly has rated the Top 50 BBQ joints in Texas, and I’ve picked out some that are close to Austin:
- Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
- John Mueller Meat Co. (Austin)
- La Barbecue (Austin)
- Lamberts Downtown Barbecue (Austin)
- Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Austin)
- Cranky Frank’s Barbecue Company (Fredericksburg)
- Black’s Barbecue (Lockhart)
- Kreuz Market (Lockhart)
- City Market (Luling)
- Hays Co. Bar-B-Que and Catering (Bastrop)
- Zimmerhanzel’s BBQ (Smithville)
From this list, I have only eaten at Black’s and Kreuz, but for me, Smitty’s in Lockhart is better than either of those. And as many times as I’ve been to Fredericksburg (went just last weekend), I’ve never been to Cranky Frank’s. So, I have a new mission: eat lots of bbq this summer.
You can read the entire list here.
I came across this story the other day about New York City considering allowing green card and visa holders to vote in municipal elections. The story also noted several cities in Maryland and Massachusetts allow non-citizens to vote. Apparently this was the case many states until the 1930’s. Intrigued, I decided to read up on the issue a little more, and this paper by Jamin Raskin caught my attention. According to Raskin’s research, alien suffrage was common in the early United States and was part of the Northwest Ordinance, which was reenacted in 1789 by the First Congress. The Annals of Congress for this time show no debate on the issue in either the Senate or the House. Just some interesting history I learned this week that I thought I’d pass along.
Traffic unaffected, because it’s already horrible. This town really needs to work on its infrastructure.
The Texas Legislature is considering online voter registration legislation - SB 315 by Sen. Uresti (D-San Antonio). The bill passed the Senate on April 23rd (21-10) and is now in the House, where they have until May 26th to send it on to the Governor. If it becomes law, voters with a valid driver’s license or identification card can register online.
There are currently 18 states who have passed online registration legislation, and another 15 states are considering it - including Texas (Source). Arizona was the first state to adopt online registration in 2002, and their Secretary of State says that over 70 percent of voter registrations are completed online.
You can read more about Arizona and Washington’s online voter registration program here [pdf].
Writing in Federalist #17, Alexander Hamilton posited that the citizens of each state naturally felt a stronger bias towards their local government than towards the national/federal government. He said, “It is a known fact in human nature, that its affections are commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of the object.”
Hamilton’s observations still seem to ring true after two centuries according to a new Pew survey:
Favourable views of all levels of government have declined since 1997, but local and state governments are still closer to the hearts of the citizenry (the exception appears to occur around 9/11).
Hamilton’s goal was to habituate the citizenry to a more favourable attitude towards the federal government; however, he’d be disappointed that it seems to be a losing battle for a variety of reasons at this stage.
(h/t: Washington Post)