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Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

Huge majorities of voters in New York back key provisions in the state's sweeping new gun law, according to a poll from Siena College released Thursday.

New York this week became the first state to pass a new gun control law in the wake of last month's massacre in Newtown, Conn., placing some of the strictest restrictions on firearms in the country. The poll suggested that the measure, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) almost immediately after its swift passage through the state legislature, is far from controversial in the Empire State.

Seventy-three percent of Empire State voters support a ban on assault weapons and magazines with the capacity of more than seven bullets. Moreover, 91 percent of voters support stiffer penalties on purchasing illegal guns or using guns on school grounds. 

In a statement provided to TPM on Wednesday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) responded to crticism voiced by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) toward a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that enabled more than 800 libraries nationwide, including one at a community college in North Carolina, to acquire books on Islam and Muslim culture.

Jones denounced the use of federal dollars "to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations" and expressed concern that the grant was unfair to Christians. But the 10-term Republican representative rebutted the notion that he harbors an anti-Islam prejudice by pointing to his friendship with Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Ellison also called Jones a "friend" in the statement, while emphasizing the importance in having the "freedom to learn about any culture."

The statement:

“I do plan on talking to my friend Walter Jones.  Americans should have the freedom to learn about any culture and specifically excluding any religion is Un-American.  Just as we have access to books on Christianity, Judaism, and atheism in our public libraries now, Americans should have access to books about Muslim culture.  More than anything, free speech gives us the freedom to learn about beliefs and religions other than our own.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Tuesday sought to assuageĀ concerns voiced by black lawmakers regarding an election law that reduced the number of days for early voting by insisting that he had nothing to do with the legislation, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

In 2011, Scott signed a bill into law that cut the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, resulting in long lines and mayhem at many Florida voting locations in the days leading up to Election Day in 2012. But on Tuesday, Scott concurred that changes to the state's election laws are in order and offered a message to concerned black elected officials: it wasn't my fault.

"It was not my bill," Scott said. "We've got to make changes, I agree. ā€¦ The Legislature passed it. I didn't have anything to do with passing it."

The anemic approval rating of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) may catch up to him when he's up for re-election next year and a Republican apostate could be the one to capitalize, according to the latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released Wednesday.

Fifty-seven percent of Florida voters disapprove of the job Scott is doing — a continuation of the low popularity that has dogged him his entire first term in office. Only 33 percent approve of Scott's performance as governor. 

Moreover, the poll showed Scott trailing in four of the six hypothetical gubernatorial matchups tested by PPP. Charlie Crist, a former GOP governor of the Sunshine State who joined the Democratic Party last month, would defeat Scott by 14 points, according to PPP. Crist, who campaigned on behalf of President Barack Obama during the 2012 election, is enormously popular among Florida Democrats. Seventy-three percent of Democratic voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Crist and 52 percent would prefer to see him as the party's gubernatorial nominee in 2014. 

The PollTracker Average captures Scott's longstanding weak approval rating among his Florida constituents.

 

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) issued a statement Wednesday hailing the gun policy proposals outlined by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as "a major step forward."

The statement:

“Today, President Obama and Vice President Biden outlined a series of steps to make our communities and children safer from gun violence.  From a universal background check to a new ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, from new resources for law enforcement to new initiatives that help those with mental illness access the help they need, the President’s plan is a major step forward to address the epidemic of gun violence that has plagued our country in recent years. 

“It is now Congress’s responsibility to work with the President to move forward with this plan, which is based on common-sense ideas supported by a majority of Americans and a majority of responsible gun owners.  Only through a concerted plan of action can we prevent the kind of mass shootings like the ones in Aurora, Portland, and Newtown – and the thousands of smaller but no less horrifying incidents of gun violence that plague our communities each year.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to bring legislation to the floor over the coming weeks to implement these proposals.” 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) took to Twitter Wednesday to praise President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden following their news conference in which they unveiled new gun policies that will be pursued by the White House.

 

In a letter sent to his lieutenant governor and the state speaker of the house that was posted on his Facebook page, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Wednesday called for immediate legislation that  would make any "unconstitutional order" on gun policy taken by President Barack Obama "illegal to enforce in Mississippi by state and local law enforcement."

Bryant wrote that the president's executive order on guns — Obama and Vice President Joe Biden actually unveiled 23 executive actions on Wednesday — would likely infringe on the Second Amendment "as never before in American history."

Read the entire letter here.

 

At a news conference to unveil gun control policies to be pursued by his administration, President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he intends to push for more research on mental illness and the adverse effects of violent video games.

"We don't benefit from ignorance," Obama said. "We don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence."

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) is objecting to a North Carolina community college's acquisition of 25 books on Islam and Muslim culture, the progressive website Think Progress reported on Tuesday. 

Craven Community College in New Bern, N.C. is one of more than 800 libraries nationwide to take advantage of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of an effort to provide "trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations." But Jones contends that the grant amounts to a waste of taxpayer dollars, saying in a statement that it makes "zero sense for the U.S. government to borrow money from China in order to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations."

In an interview with a North Carolina-based NBC affiliate WITN, the 10-term congressman raised concerns that the addition of the books on Islam may be unfair to Christians.

“I want to treat it fairly and I think too many times the Christian faith is not treated fairly," Jones said. "If they want to have book about the Muslim’s faith, let’s have equal number of books about Judeo-Christian [sic].”

But Jones said he has no qualms with Islam, nothing that he is friends with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim. Jones also said that he'd prefer to "see the $150 million spent to remodel schools in Craven County or build schools in the Craven community." But as a blogger at Library Journal pointed out, $150 million actually represents the entire budget of the NEH, not the size of the grant. 
 
Watch the interview with WITN:

 

(h/t Huffington Post, New York Daily News)

 
 
 

  

As the country approaches the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a poll released Wednesday from Pew Research Center indicated that 63 percent of Americans do not want the landmark Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights reversed. 

Only 29 percent support an overturn of Roe, but the country is divided when it comes to the morality of abortion. Forty-seven said that having an abortion is morally wrong, compared with 13 percent who said the procedure is morally acceptable. But 27 percent said that abortion is not a moral issue and nine percent indicated that it depends on the situation.

 

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