Morning Must Reads

In the news: Hillary Clinton, online gun sales, Marco Rubio, immigration, Geraldo Rivera, and former NYC Mayor Ed Koch

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  • “Bald and bombastic, paunchy and pretentious” former New York City Mayor Ed Koch dies at the age of 88. “I’m not the type to get ulcers,” he wrote in Mayor, his autobiography. “I give them.”
  • Mother Jones on the inside, controversial world of online gun sales.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced that he will vote against confirming Hagel, citing issues with the former senator on Cuba, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and defense budgets.
  • Republicans Senators move to withhold funding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board.
  • Retirement woes: Nearly two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 45 and 60 say they plan to delay retirement, according to the WSJ
  • In “30 Rock” Minority House leader Nancy Pelosi calls Jack Donaghy, played by actor Alec Baldwin, “an economic war criminal.”
  • As Hillary Clinton leaves her post as Secretary of State, she says on Syria’s civil war, “I’ve done what’s possible to do.” Obama strategist David Axelrod on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential prospects.
  • Economist Paul Krugman’s NYT column on putting the “deficit obsession aside” to focus on unemployment; David Brooks calls immigration, “The Easy Problem.”
  • Geraldo Rivera considers running for NJ Senate. As Jon Stewart once said of the mustached Fox contributor, “Dude’s got major sack.”
105 comments
DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

 The site may be forced to change. A move by Congress to require universal background checks would put a crimp in its business. In addition, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is representing Jetka Vesel's family in a lawsuit against the site, filed in December. But Armslist and other similar sites aren't likely to go down without a fight. They represent a significant market share for the gun industry. More than 65 million Americans have criminal records that may impede their ability to buy guns legally, and it's clear that many of these folks want to buy guns, unlike most ordinary citizens. (Household and personal gun ownership has fallen 40 percent since the mid-1970s, just as hunting has also declined in popularity.) Since 1993, roughly 1.7 million people have been denied a gun sale because of background checks, and about half of them were disqualified because they had a criminal record. These folks make for a perfect market for online private sales.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

 The Vesel case is not the only murder involving a weapon procured through Armslist. In Wisconsin in October, three days after his wife obtained a restraining order against him for domestic violence, Radcliffe Haughton purchased a gun from a private seller he contacted through Armslist, after posting a rather desperatead on the site that read:

Looking to buy ASAP. Prefer full size, any caliber. Email ASAP. I constantly check my emails. Hoping it has a high mag capacity with the handgun, ammo, accessories. I am a serious buyer. Email me ASAP. Have cash now and looking to buy now. I am mobile.

The restraining order would have barred him from buying a gun legally from a dealer. The next day, Haughton went on a shooting spree at the spa where his wife worked. He killed three people, including his wife, and wounded four others before killing himself. ATF investigated the gun sale, but no one was charged because private sales are only illegal if the seller knows the buyer can't pass a background check.

After the shooting, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett sent a letter to Armslist calling on the owners to implement stronger safeguards to prevent illegal gun sales through the site. They wrote:

Federal law barred Haughton from buying or possessing a firearm after his wife obtained a domestic violence restraining order against him, he was able to avoid an instant background check by purchasing a gun through a private, unlicensed seller on Armslist.com. While licensed gun dealers are required by federal law to conduct background checks, private sellers are not. For Haughton, this lethal loophole made breaking the law to buy a .40-caliber handgun as easy as searching the internet.

Moore and Barrett asked Armslist for a meeting to discuss changes to the site. Armslist never responded. (Neither Mancini nor Gibbon responded to requests for comment for this story.)

When a gun nut starts ranting to you about the limitations of the law, by all means point out to them how gleefully they seem to enjoy circumventing the law to sell weapons to crazy people.  Oh, that's right, crazy people are the reasons we have these shootings.  Never mind that people on Armslist and websites like them seem all too happy to sell them weapons.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Until April 2011, Armslist had operated largely under the radar, attracting attention only from gun enthusiasts. But that spring,Dmitry Smirnov brought the site its first widespread notice. Smirnov was a Russian immigrant living in British Columbia. As a foreigner, Sminrov, then 21, could not legally purchase a gun anywhere in the United States. (Canada's gun laws are even stricter.) But through Armslist, he connected withBenedict Ladera,a 31-year-old Seattle man who sold him a .40-caliber handgun outside a Washington casino. Ladera charged Smirnov an extra $200 because he couldn't prove he lived in the state. Smirnov then traveled to Illinois, and tracked down Jetka Vesel, 36, whom he'd had a brief relationship with after meeting her through an online gaming site a few years earlier. He'd been harassing her from afar ever since she broke up with him.

Once in Illinois, Smirnov stuck a GPS tracker on Vesel's car and followed her for a few days before finally ambushing her as she came out of the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum, where she'd been volunteering. He shot her a dozen times. He turned himself in a few hours later, and pleaded guilty to the crime. Ladera was also prosecuted and sentenced to a year in prison.

Jesus Christ, this is like reading a horror story.  How many people have we seen flooding in here recently already claiming that our current system was perfect, or that as gun enthusiasts they too want to see guns kept out of the hands of criminals?  Thanks for the link Alex.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Armslist quickly took off. By 2011, it was one of the largest online gun sites in the country, with more than 13,000 active listings for firearms. The site also had another, more dubious distinction: Weapons obtained through the site have been tied to the murders of four people and one suicide. An undercover New York City investigation (PDF) found that the site likely was a major conduit for illegal gun sales. Investigators discovered that 54 percent of the sellers they contacted through the site were openly willing to sell firearms to people who admitted they couldn't pass a background check (which is a felony, incidentally).

But hey, let the gun nuts pretend like they care about crime or what impact their second amendment rights (which are not being threatened) has on crime.

grape_crush
grape_crush

"Indeed, going through the transcript, one might be tempted to believe there are only three countries on the planet -- the United States, Israel, and Iran -- and that Iran poses some kind of existential threat to America's future.

Al Qaeda wasn't deemed important, nor was North Korea. China was brought up only a handful of times, and the use of drones wasn't mentioned at all.

In Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the next Pentagon chief, Afghanistan -- the country where American troops are fighting an active, hot war right now -- was largely treated as an afterthought.

And why did the hearing play out like this?"

grape_crush
grape_crush

"The number of student loans held by subprime borrowers is growing, and more of those loans are souring, the latest signs that a weak job market and rising debt loads are squeezing recent graduates.

In all, 33% of all subprime student loans in repayment were 90 days or more past due in March 2012, up from 24% in 2007, according to a Wednesday report by TransUnion LLC.

Meanwhile, the Chicago-based credit bureau found that 33% of the almost 900 billion in outstanding student loans was held by subprime, or the riskiest, borrowers as of March 2012, up from 31% in 2007."

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@MementoMori 

Not surprising.  Fortunately for them the Koch brothers can also rely on moronic lemmings (like a certain individual frequently seen here) to buy into their anti-science propaganda and spread the doubt among others.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@grape_crush 

Context is everything; people who make arguments based on out of context stuff are only interested in fooling everyone else. People who make better arguments based on the full context probably have something worthwhile to say. 

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@DonQuixotic The other night on Jon Stewart, Bob Costas spent some time pointing out that we need to change the "gun culture." Sound as though it's beginning to happen. He mentioned that we changed the culture of smoking, for example. I remember when everyone smoked everywhere and it wasn't that long ago. A recent poll in PA showed that a majority of people support universal background checks, in spite of PA being thought to be very conservative about guns.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@DonQuixotic 

I wish media would spend more time highlighting real problems like these instead of the 'he she said' dumb arguments by the punditry.

If regular folks have this kind of information, they'll see WHY things need to change and it's not about some fearful notion that the gubmint will come and take all their juices and guns.

Romney lost because of that; that and the fact that he was exposed in his contempt for regular folks. But largely because media provided him with the opportunity to truly show what he stand for. We can never get a reasonable gun debate before we have a media that shows the unintended results of leaving loopholes like these open.

Americans are for most part common sense people and we need a way for us to make our voices heard without the special bus interpretations from the know nothing punditry class.

MementoMori
MementoMori

@grape_crush Tangentially related...

Conservatives Launch Facebook Alternative

http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/conservatives-launch-facebook-alternative.html

If the news doesn't conform to your preconceptions, make up your own news. If social media pierces your disinformation bubble, make your own social network.

Is there some state we're not using that much that we can just hand off to them and let them build their little Glenn Beckian Teatopia so that the rest of us can start fixing the mess they've created? It seems to be where they're heading anyway....

MrObvious
MrObvious

@grape_crush 

It also shows that 'the mindless' rants without verifying thus upgrading the hot air into a tornado. We see it here as well, with all the 'you libruls' nonsense. They go to their trusted sources, arm themselves with nonsense then confuse the basics of data=leads to truth and spend endless amount of time arguing against facts 'cause they heard it on trusted sites'.


MrObvious
MrObvious

@DonQuixotic 

Craigslist had to get rid of any prostitution because it's illegal to blow someones head (for money).

But the 2nd amendment provides all kind of opportunities for lunatics to acquire better means of doing something similar but permanently. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@paulejb

"Nothing we're going to do is going to fundamentally alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down to 1,000 a year from what it is now," Biden told reporters Thursday afternoon after he spent over an hour lunching with Democratic senators at the Capitol.

"But there are things that we can do, demonstrably can do, that have virtually zero impact on your Second Amendment right to own a weapon for both self defense and recreation that can save some lives," he said.

More of Paul's failure to read past a headline.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@grape_crush 

Will Ankara be the new Benghazi? Or is that only when the right person gets killed or if Obama is the prez?

grape_crush
grape_crush

Why launch a new service when they can just buy something like MySpace on the cheap and rename it? Call it 'MyRace' or 'GOPle +'.

Pretty sad statement, Teabaggers launching a For Us By Us social app because they can't tolerate conflicting viewpoints. Any bets on how much more actual censorship will actually occur there versus what they're whinging about with Facebook?

What's hilarious is that they think creating will give Facebook any serious competition....sure, Google + and MySpace have users, not that I know any personally...but this has Fail written all over it.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@MementoMori @grape_crush I thought it was such a hoot to see the bit Jon Stewart did on Beck's freedom loving utopia and all the rules involved in living there.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@DonQuixotic @paulejb 

Reading is elitists and leads to knowing shit. Guessing leads to faith in your self-claimed exceptionalism.

MementoMori
MementoMori

@paulejb @grape_crush I know I'm going to regret asking this, but what is your point here, paulie? That higher education is bad? That student loans are bad? That college costs too much? That the government needs to get out of education so only rich kids can attend? What's your issue here, paulie?

Sometimes paulie, you are so against everything and so angry at everyone else, it's hard to tell what your specific beef is at any given time. It's just sounds like "whatever it is, paulie's against it".

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb @grape_crush 

We need more stupid people; because the best way of competing in a global market is to supply the rest of the world with village idiots.

NP042
NP042

@grape_crushAny bets on how much more actual censorship will actually occur there versus what they're whinging about with Facebook?


 Just look to the vast amounts of censorship in "conservative" sites like Free Republic

MrObvious
MrObvious

@grape_crush 

So what is this service called? Boggle? Then the extra crazy can use Boggle +

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@Ivy_B  

Me too!  Glad someone else saw that.  The part that bit sharply was when he said they [the Beck-ites] weren't interested in the freedom *to*, but only the freedom *from*.  I think that's really the crux of it.  The freedom from things that don't fit their world view.  Unfortunately for them, the sun still rises, even if your eyes are closed.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

"My issue is to get a rise out of the hive."  --pseudoPaulie