Maddow and Hayes talk Chicago and Newtown!


Where the good kids are: Today, voters in Illinois’ second congressional district start the process of replacing Jesse Jackson Jr.

In the past several weeks, Rachel Maddow has presented this contest as a test of the NRA’s ongoing political strength. Reason: One Democratic contender, Debbie Halvorson, has an A rating from the NRA, based upon past votes as a one-term congresswoman in a different Illinois district. Other Democratic contenders have always been low-rated by the NRA.

On February 15, Maddow discussed her theory about the NRA’s dwindling influence. She played tape of Halvorson at a past event, then offered a framework which struck us as slightly odd:
MADDOW (2/15/13): That was Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat, promising a crowd at a gun rights rally she will be their voice wherever she goes. That same Debbie Halvorson, now a former member of Congress, still a Democrat, is trying to win the first congressional election taking place in America after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Maybe once upon a time, that kind of position on guns, maybe once upon a time having an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association would be a great asset for getting elected to Congress. I’m sure at some point it might have been, but it is not anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, we showed the ad that the super PAC run by Mayor Mike Bloomberg had started running in that Illinois district. Highlighting Debbie Halvorson’s A rating from the NRA and highlighting it is not a good way.
Maddow’s analysis struck us as somewhat odd. For starters, we doubt that an A-rating from the NRA would ever have been a big plus in this heavily Democratic, largely urban district. Mainly, though, we refer to her statement that this will be “the first congressional election taking place in America after the Sandy Hook shooting.”

Is Sandy Hook the real frame of reference in this Chicago-area district? According to the Chicago Tribune, the district covers the South Side of Chicago and the southern suburbs. The district’s voting-age population is 54 percent black and 34 percent white. The district is heavily Democratic.

Question: Do black and Hispanic Chicago Democrats really think about Sandy Hook first when they think about guns? As many people may have heard, Chicago has had its own unique problems with gun violence in the past year. Just last month, the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, age 15, was a major event in Chicago. Pendleton had performed as a majorette at Obama’s inaugural parade just one week before.

When Chicagoans think about guns, do they think first about Sandy Hook? Maddow made that suggestion several times, then introduced Chris Hayes as she started her next segment. We wondered if Hayes would broaden Maddow’s frame of reference, but it didn’t happen:
MADDOW: This Illinois special election, the first congressional contest since what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last month, happens just a week from Tuesday. Joining us now is Chris Hayes, the host of Up with Chris Hayes, weekend mornings at 8:00 here on MSNBC.

Chris, it is great to see you as always.

HAYES: Always great to see you.

MADDOW: Did you ever think you would live to see the day when an A rating from the NRA would be an albatross for politicians?

HAYES: You know, the weird part of it is I saw that day when it I was 13 years old or 14 years old, when there was this period, the Million Mom March, the assault weapons ban, when this kind of thing was good politics for Democrats and the Democratic Party leaned into it...
It didn’t seem to occur to either pundit that the death of Pendleton and other Chicago kids might count for a great deal in this district along with the deaths of the children at Sandy Hook.

We don’t know who will win tonight. Turn-out may be very low; part of the district is located in gun-friendly rural areas. We’ll only say this: For ourselves, we’re tired of seeing our fiery liberal leaders look right past the lives of black kids.

Do Chicago voters think of Sandy Hook when they think about guns? We will guess that folk in this district may know how to mourn Hadiya Pendleton along with those other beautiful kids, the beautiful kids from halfway across the country.

Do we liberals know how to honor black kids? Quite often, it seems that we do not, although that plainly can't be true. Reason? Because we’re the good people!

Worth at least a thousand words: To see what other good kids look like, please click here, then stare at the photograph hard.


  1. Let me help you out here, Bob.

    Sandy Hook changed the conversation on guns. Aurora didn't do it. Brookfield didn't do it. It finally took 20 dead six-year-olds before our leaders could finally say, "Enough is enough."

    This is indeed the first congressional election since Sandy Hook. That is all that Maddow said. To fault her for not mentioning Hadiya Pendleton is YOU playing the race card, something you are quick to fault others for.

    In fact, during the Trayvon Martin case, you bent over backwards, forwards and sideways to avoid discussing the "Stand Your Ground" laws backed by the NRA which has helped lead to the gun culture we are living in that is killing so many kids like Trayvon and Hadiya.

    Where was your concern for the black kid then as you tried to pimp Zimmerman as the innocent victim of an MSNBC railroading?

    Finally, it is NOT Maddow making the issue of Halvorson's "A" rating from the NRA. It is her primary opponent and Bloomberg's SuperPac seeking to tie that around her neck like a millstone.

    In other words, for the first time in decades, we've got "liberals" directly challenging the political muscle and might of the NRA.

    And that congressional district is a pretty good battleground to choose to fight upon.

    1. Anon., of course I could be wrong (I know I'm not as smart as some of you city fellers) but if there is anyone who needs help it is you. You clearly have misunderstood what Bob is saying regarding the current issue of Chicago politics; and you have clearly misunderstood what Bob was saying regarding the Trayvon Martin case. "[P]imp[ing]" Zimmerman? Good grief!

      Horace Feathers

    2. Maybe the way to look at this: Sandy Hook changed the national mood on gun issues, which has helped focus even Chicagoans attentions on gun issues (not as if they didn't already have reasons aplenty). Complementary, not in competition.

      It would have been nice, I guess, if Maddow and Hayes had highlighted more the particular gun problems of Chicago (which aren't precisely the same as Sandy Hooks'), but I am not convinced that, the fact that they did not do so in this one segment, means they are indifferent to Chicago's version of this problem -- or to Chicago's victims.

    3. Well, unfortunately for your revision of history, Horace, Bob does have incomparable archives.

      Go read it for yourself. Not a hint of mourning for the dead kid. Only sympathy for the poor little pussy that shot him.

      It served Bob's narrative that MSNBC is the source of all evil quite well.

      Just as Hayida Pendelton serves that very purpose now. And that is the extent that Somerby cares about either kid. Only as clubs to bash his hated MSNBC hosts with.

    4. Exactly, mch, and here is yet another way to look at it.

      Chicago should be the perfect laboratory for NRA's theory that the solution to gun violence is more guns. After all, "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." That message will surely sell in ultra-violent Chitown, should it not?

      The latest polls have Halvorson, a former U.S. rep who was gerrymandered out, with a slim lead over Robin Kelly, so you might abandon the notion that the NRA has been poison to Halvorson before. In fact, she is waiving her gun nuttiness like it was a flag.

      Only this time, she is facing opponents, backed Bloomberg's SuperPac money to counter her NRA money, who are campaigning hard to turn her NRA creds into a badge of dishonor.

      So yes, this is a pretty good test of the new national mood, since Sandy Hook, concerning guns.

    5. The latest polls have Halvorson with a slim lead? Kelly beat Halvorson by OVER 2 to 1. Whose polls were those?

    6. Victory Research poll, but it was conducted Feb. 17-19. One of those "likely voter" things too, which might have been hard to identify in this particular race.

      No matter how Somerby tries to spin this the NRA's way, this was a huge and stunning loss for the NRA, and Independence USA is feeling its oats.

    7. I think the point is that those who may have personal experience with gun related tragedy, or live in an area heavily saturated with gun violence, may be less influenced by "the conversation" or "national mood(s)" than by their own experiences.

      BTW MSNBC did disgrace itself in regards to the Martin shooting.

  2. She may win the election, but she may not either. Whether she does or does not will have nothing at all to do with the NRA. Why?

    1)"When Chicagoans think about guns, do they think first about Sandy Hook?" No, they do not. They think of the south side. And they want their guns.

    2). "On February 15, Maddow discussed her theory about the NRA’s dwindling influence." The NRA's influence is only diminished her and other radical left-wingers fevered minds. None of the proposed gun control laws are going to pass the Congress. Not even the background checks. Not even the trafficing law as long as it contains language establishing draconian penalties for private transfers that go horribly wrong.

    1. Contrary to the implication of TDH, it was Sandy Hook that prompted the Bloomberg PAC to bury Halvorson. As tragic as the individual murders were, and they received a lot of attention, it was Sandy Hook that changed the national conversation and, accordingly, the Chicago conversation.

  3. I have no idea how to bring down Chicago's horrendous murder rate. Clearly gun control isn't the answer: Chicago already has very restrictive gun laws -- laws more restrictive than those now being debated nationally.

    1. "Clearly[,] gun control isn't the answer ...."

      As a long-time resident of Chicagoland, I would hate to think of the carnage here if Cook County and the City of Chicago gun laws were less restrictive then they are.

    2. Can you imagine that there might be less carnage in Chicago if gun laws everywhere were just as restrictive and it wasn't so easy to bring guns into Chicago from everywhere else?

    3. Can you imagine that there might be less carnage in Chicago if gun laws everywhere were just as restrictive and it wasn't so easy to bring guns into Chicago from everywhere else?

      Exactly. In order for additional gun laws to actually bring down crime, we'd have to pretty much ban private ownership of guns nationwide, as Chicago does. This is why NRA members believe that the real goal of gun control proposals is the banning of guns. It's why the NRA will oppose any new gun control measures.

    4. David, Chicago does not and can not ban private ownership of guns, and unless you are painfully stupid, you know that. So go peddle your macho "from my cold dead hands" BS somewhere else.

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  5. Many of Chicago's guns come from gundealers in the suburbs and from neighboring Indiana, which is just minutes away. So no matter what the gun laws in Chicago are, they're not going to prevent guns from coming into Chicago.

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  7. It's one thing to imagine that widespread gun ownership would lead to more murders. It's another thing to look at actual results.

    For 30 years, in Kennesaw, GA every household has been required, by-law, to own a gun and the ammunition to use it. When this law went into effect, there was a 29% drop in crime. Over the last 30 years, the crime rate has remained low with just four gun-related homicides.


    1. Right, David. If it worked in Kennesaw, Ga., it will surely work in Chicago.

      Are you truly this incapable of serious thought?

    2. Anon, I just offered some evidence that more guns would reduce crime and not lead to increased gun murders. You and those who think the opposite offered no evidence at all for your POV. Instead you supported your POV with sarcasm and snark.

      BTW history shows that one specific goal of early gun restrictions was to keep guns out of the hands of blacks. I hope this type of racist thinking is no longer with us.

    3. David, in 1982, when Kennesaw passed its silly little law that couldn't possibly be enforced, the town had a population of 5,000.

      Yes, burglaries dropped from 65 to 26 in one year, but what your NRA buddies forgot to tell you is that they nabbed a ring that year that was responsible for nearly two-thirds the burglaries in Kennesaw. Meanwhile, the instances of other crime remained pretty much what you would expect.

      FYI, Kennesaw is now an ex-urb of Atlanta that has exploded in population to about 30,000. Yes, they still have the same gun law, but it is pretty much ignored.

      And guess what has happened to the crime rate during the population boom?

      Something just a wee bit different that what you read somewhere, a long time ago about Kennesaw?

      In short, David, you once again provided no "evidence." You provided spin.

      And even if your spin were true, to think you could use a village of 5,000 people as an example of how to control crime in a city of millions is just beyond stupid.

      And that is not an ad hominem. You provide evidence of your stupidity and ideologically-driven willful ignorace on a daily basis.

  8. We should pass a law to give every black male a gun and training at birth. It might not bring down the murder rate, but it sure will bring down the NRA's political influence.


    1. Not so farfetched. A fascinating history of gun control.