The Department of Justice released a notice of proposed rulemaking Friday that would update the definition of “firearm” for the first time since 1968, in an effort to regulate so-called “ghost guns.”
According to the press release on the DOJ website, the goal is to “help close a regulatory loophole associated with the un-serialized privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes across the country.”
The issue centers around guns that can be assembled from kits, that currently are allowed to be sold without serial numbers or a background check. The proposed rule, signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, would change the definition of “frame or receiver” in order to bring these gun kits under the definition of firearm, thereby making them subject to federal regulation and, according to the DOJ, easier to prevent being sold to convicted felons or other prohibited purchasers, and to track weapons that are used in crimes.
The rule would also require retailers to run background checks “before selling kits that contain the parts necessary for someone to readily make a gun at home,” require manufacturers to “include a serial number on the firearm ‘frame or receiver’ in easy-to-build firearm kits,” and would also require federally licensed firearms dealers to add serial numbers “to 3D printed or other un-serialized firearms they take into inventory.”
More than 23,000 un-serialized firearms were recovered by law enforcement from 2016 to 2020, reported the DOJ. Those weapons were involved in 325 homicides or attempted homicides.
Both Garland and President Joe Biden have publicly spoken in support of closing this so-called ghost gun loophole. Back in April, Biden had instructed DOJ and the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to develop rules to accomplish this goal.
Stephen Gutowski at The Reload has a detailed analysis of what the rule change could mean, including some of the definitional issues that will need to be debated:
Under the current rule, a gun part can only be regulated as a receiver if it has several key components, including the trigger mechanism and breach. The proposed rule would change that to let the ATF regulate a part as a receiver if it includes just one of those components. It would also add language to the definition allowing the ATF to regulate anything that could be “readily” made into a firearm receiver as though it were a finished receiver.
The proposed rule does not provide a set of objective standards for what constitutes “readily” convertible. Instead, it relies on subjective measures of how long the conversion could take, how difficult it could be, and what tools could be required. The agency pointed to court cases for examples of what readily meant. In one example the agency said a part being completed during “an eight-hour working day in a properly equipped machine shop” qualified as “readily” convertible.
Most AR-15 unfinished or “80 percent” lowers currently on the market can be finished in far less than eight hours with proper equipment, making it possible for ATF to determine the lowers need serialization at practically any point in the manufacturing process. And sales of any kind of unfinished lower could require a federal firearms license and background checks on buyers, if the ATF decides so.
On Friday, Carlson told viewers they obtained “one of her steamier novels” and that their senior producer “volunteered to perform a dramatic reading of the most titillating moments in Stacey Abrams’ novel.”
And that’s exactly what happened, with music playing as excerpts like the following were read on screen:
“Heat, like an inferno, blazed in his veins. Temptation, like a song, clouded his mind. It demanded that he slide his arms around her, that he trail his hand along her spine to sink into the silken curls at her nape.”
After one of those excerpts, Carlson said, “She tormented his flesh with her palms. We were tormented as we read it. As we read it more, we noticed our thighs were also getting harder, much harder.”
And he ended the segment by saying, “The book is called Hidden Sins, and frankly, we feel we’ve just sinned in public. You can have that feeling too for the low low price of just $7. Get it. But go easy on your thighs. It’ll wear ’em out.”
On Saturday, MSNBC host Ali Velshi did what MSNBC hosts do: he came to the defense of Joe Biden and his policies. While doing so he also heartily endorsed and defended the concept of Big Government, which he emphasized is distinct from socialism. He also had no ill words for socialism.
Velshi was commenting on remarks made by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who stated the obvious and perpetual goal of one party with regard to the other party, saying that “100% of [the Senate Republicans’] focus is on stopping this new administration.”
“We’re confronted with severe challenges from a new administration and a narrow majority of Democrats in the house and a 50/50 senate to turn America into a socialist country,” said McConnell. “That’s 100% of my focus.”
Velshi dramatically framed that as a sort of guilt admission.
“Well, that’s 100% a lie,” Velshi began. “In fairness, McConnell has since softened his view about obstruction being 100% of his focus, but he still let the cat out of the bag. The GOP is a party with no actual agenda other than to sabotage the current administration.”
Coming off the era of “Stop Trump” that consumed all of cable news and the Democratic party, being the opposition should probably not be quite so strange and confusing a concept as Velshi finds out. But he’s an “economics guy,” he quickly reminded the audience as he segued into defending socialism and big government.
“As an economics guy I’m troubled by the continued false narrative about socialism,” said Velshi. One might think an economics guy would be troubled by the concept itself, but that didn’t really come up.
“Socialism is a system in which the government owns the means of production, ownership of factories, hospitals, machinery used to produce goods and services that people consume,” said Velshi. The “not that there’s anything wrong with that” was left sort of unspoken.
“Biden has not promised or carried out anything that remotely resembles socialism,” he said. “Even if you believe, as I do, that America should have a single-payer health care system, something that Biden disagrees with, that’s still not socialism.”
“If you believe student debt should be canceled or that the minimum wage should be $15 an hour or that carbon emissions should be cut, none of that is socialism,” he continued. “What Biden does believe is that the Era of Big Government is back.”
The “baby” on the end of that sentence was also left implied.
Velshi then offered a full-throated endorsement and defense of the idea of big government. He suggested Ronald Reagan was the original source of the mistaken dislike of a massive central government but allowed that former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have also “shied away touting the benefits” of behemoth bureaucracy.
He credited Biden’s short three or so months at the helm with fixing the pandemic through Big Government and said Americans are “warming” to the idea. “A recent NBC News poll found 55% of Americans say the government should do more to solve the country’s problems,” he said.
“Look, I think we can all agree. We don’t want or need government in our lives all the time,” Velshi said, having just offered no reason to agree with that and every reason to cheer the wonders of government. “But there are some things we just can’t do on our own.”
“A small government can’t fix a warming climate, rising economic inequality, rampant disinformation,” he said, going through a laundry list of ways he wants government in our lives all the time. He also pointed to Russia and China, saying they don’t “sit around wondering if their government should be smaller.”
Well, argument “if Russia and China are jumping off the cliff why shouldn’t we?” wasn’t one we were expecting.
“We’ve been hearing how bad government is for decades,” he said. “It will take a lot to overcome the flawed and outdated idea that government is irresponsible and controlling.”
Not sure how the idea of systemic racism dovetails with the belief that government isn’t irresponsible or controlling but one assumes Velshi has an airtight explanation.
Velshi said Biden may or may not succeed in bringing about the era of responsible, non-controlling big government that solves everyone’s problems, but circled back to his point by saying lying about what Biden is trying to do and calling it socialism, that’s just weak tea.”
Fox Business host Larry Kudlow appeared on The Ingraham Angle Friday to break the news that there is no crisis when it comes to Covid-19. As Donald Trump’s head of the National Economic Council in February 2020, Kudlow said of the growing viral outbreak, “We have contained this. I won’t say airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight.”
Two weeks later, the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. More than 580,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 so far.
Kudlow told Laura Ingraham that despite Republican criticism of Friday’s much weaker than expected jobs report, the economy is still in decent shape because it’s still Trump’s economy and that Biden’s policies have yet to fully take effect.
President Trump’s administration – Operation Warp Speed – created the vaccines and got it out with the distribution plan and now businesses [are] opening and we are now recovering strongly. My point is this. Biden can blame whoever he wants to blame. The public sees right through it. It’s phony baloney. There is no crisis. There is no healthcare crisis. Thanks to Trump, there is no Covid crisis. Thanks to Trump, we have low taxes and regulations. There is no house on fire. The economy is not crashing. Global warming is not an existential threat.
As of this writing, over 600 Americans have died of Covid-19 each day over the last seven days.
Clearly dissatisfied with Kudlow’s assessment, Ingraham asked, “But Larry, don’t you agree that if Donald Trump were still president we’d have hundreds of thousands of more Americans employed, or many millions more Americans employed because businesses wouldn’t be anticipating a lot of these taxes that are coming down the pike?”
Kudlow didn’t answer directly and instead noted he liked Trump’s policies and that there’s no crisis that could justify the trillions in spending that the Biden administration has proposed.
On Friday Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) held an “America First” rally at The Villages, a fast-growing gerontocratic fiefdom in central Florida.
The rally came at a tumultuous time for the bombastic Gaetz, who is currently the subject of a federal investigation into whether he had sex with an underaged girl. His Republican colleagues have said little about the matter, and have for the most part kept their distance from the once ascendant three-term congressman. Greene, for her part, entered Congress in January amid controversy over her past promotions of QAnon and 9/11 conspiracy theories, as well as her apparent endorsement of the assassination of Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). In February, the House voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments, with 11 Republicans joining the Democrats, who unanimously voted for the measure.
While the two backbenchers haven’t exactly endeared themselves to the GOP establishment, they’ve raised eye-popping amounts of money in part because they’re seen shunning business-as-usual politics. Gaetz hauled in $1.8 million in the first quarter of 2021 and Greene raised $3.2 million, a staggering amount for any member of Congress, let alone a freshman.
Gaetz and Greene continued burnishing their independent cred at The Villages on Wednesday, with the former mocking the recent gathering of House Republicans in Orlando:
I didn’t go to the Republican retreat because I feel like the Republicans have been in a constant state of retreat. I’m ready for an advance, not a retreat. And they go to the retreat and basically the whole retreat is Kevin McCarthy fighting with Liz Cheney and I’m watching this thinking, why did they not listen to us like three, four months ago when we said this is not gonna work.
Gaetz added, “We knew that then. I’m glad our colleagues have caught up. Maybe we’re the leaders, Marjorie! They follow us!”
The Florida Congressman spearheaded a failed effort in February to oust Cheney from the House GOP leadership.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen said Friday that there is zero chance that Rudy Giuliani does not get stiffed by Donald Trump on his legal bills.
Reports this week have indicated Giuliani is trying to get the former president to help him with his legal bills, but Cohen told MSNBC’s Joy Reid that’s not going to happen.
“He’s going to get stiffed. All right?” Cohen said, highly skeptically talking about the idea Trump would be willing “to part with a single dollar.”
Reid noted how Giuliani used to be a federal prosecutor and asked Cohen if he’s surprised Giuliani “didn’t try to get paid up front.”
Cohen said with a laugh, “He thought Donald Trump was going to pay him $140,000 a day. He has a better chance of sling-shooting himself to the moon. It’s impossible! Donald Trump wouldn’t pay him two cents! Because his feeling is, it is an honor and a privilege to go to prison for him, to do his dirty work.”
He called Giuliani “dopey” and said his son Andrew “may be dumber than Eric Trump.”
At one point Cohen even welcomed Giuliani to “the under-the-bus club” and said, “The problem with Rudy is he drinks like a maniac, and the worst thing to do is drink and then go on television! He’s stupid, right, in order to drink the way that he does, and he’s more stupid to come on shows like yours or others trying to prove a point that he is absolutely guilty of. And all he’s doing is just creating more harm and giving Donald more of a reason why not to pay!”
Pet owners know the truly deep sense of loss and pain felt when a treasured companion passes away, and share in the grief of others who undergo the same. On Saturday, former President Barack Obama expressed his family’s own grief after the loss of beloved family dog Bo Obama.
The black and white Portuguese water dog joined the Obama’s at the White House back in 2009, and so has been with them for over ten years.
“Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion,” the former president wrote on Twitter. “For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between.”
Bo’s human dad memorialized him over the course of a short Twitter thread. “He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly,” he said of the pup, with a few photos of the good boy.
Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between. pic.twitter.com/qKMNojiu9V
He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair. pic.twitter.com/1x4VOMsLGR
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 21: Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, questions witnesses during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill November 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is the odds on favorite to replace the embattled Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as Chair of the House Republican Conference, the third-highest position in the House GOP. Cheney has run afoul of her party because she has called out Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. House Republicans are expected to oust Cheney in a vote next week.
One might be inclined to think that Stefanik, 36, must have a well-established history of staking out firm positions deeply entrenched in the soil of MAGA-land, especially given that Trump has endorsed her for the number three position.
Stefanik’s record tells a different story, however.
During the Trump years, Stefanik voted with the president 77.7% of the time. Meanwhile, Cheney voted with Trump 92.9% of the time. Moreover, the conservative Heritage Action for America gave Stefanik a paltry 48% for her career on its conservative scorecard, while Cheney received a far more robust 80%. A think tank recently rated Stefanik the 13th most bipartisan member of the House.
CNN’s KFile lists occasions when Stefanik, who in 2015 predicted Trump wouldn’t be her party’s nominee, was critical of him. At one point during the Republican primary, she said, “I think Trump has been insulting to women” after Trump made disparaging comments about then Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. After the infamous Access Hollywood tape was leaked, Stefanik said on Facebook, “Donald Trump’s inappropriate, offensive comments are just wrong – No matter when he said them or whatever the context. I hope his apology is sincere.” She also expressed skepticism about Trump’s border wall.
So how in a few short years did Stefanik go from being seemingly wary of Trump to his top choice for House Conference Chair?
In 2014, Stefanik became the first Republican elected to New York’s 21st congressional district in 24 years, and was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the time. She ran as a moderate, which is no surprise given her record and given the district’s history of Democratic representatives, as well as its reliable support of Democratic presidential nominees, who won the district by double digits in every election from 1992 to 2008. In 2012, President Obama won by six points, but remarkably just four years later Donald Trump won it by 14. He won the district again in 2020, by 11.
It is against this evolving backdrop that Rep. Stefanik has been operating as a politician. Her district has become red and Trumpy, and she knows full well the graveyard of congressional careers is increasingly full of casualties that refused to hold on to Trump for dear life. These careers died in Republican primaries at the hands of unabashedly pro-Trump candidacies that were all too happy to bury RINOs, which these days are simply Republicans who don’t support Trump and his lies about the election.
A Harvard educated alum who worked in George W. Bush’s White House, Stefanik knows which way the political winds blow. She’s apparently also ambitious enough to act on this intuition. During Trump’s first impeachment hearings, Stefanik aggressively grilled witnesses and earned praise from Trump himself for doing so. During the trial, she was one of eight House Republicans to serve on the president’s defense team.
More recently, Stefanik has shown an eager willingness to promote Trump’s Big Lie, and she voted not to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Tens of millions of Americans,” said Stefanik in a statement before the certification vote, “are rightly concerned that the 2020 election featured unprecedented voting irregularities, unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws, and a fundamental lack of ballot integrity and security.”
The statement also said, “To the tens of thousands of constituents and patriots across the country who have reached out to me in the past few weeks – please know that I hear you.”
A CNN poll from last month indicates that 70% of Republicans do not believe Joe Biden won the election legitimately. No doubt some of them live in New York’s 21st congressional district and expect their representative to think – or at least say – the same.
CNN host Don Lemon said it was wrong for Lamar County Texas Democratic Party Gary O’Connor to deride Senator Tim Scott as an “Oreo,” and that Black people may use the term privately, it shouldn’t be used “in the public sphere.”
O’Connor referred to Sen. Scott as an “Oreo” in a since-deleted Facebook post criticizing the senator’s rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress last week. O’Connor later apologized and resigned, but his resignation was not accepted.
On Friday’s New Day, Lemon was asked to weigh in, and he delivered a nuanced commentary in which he decried “name-calling,” explained the term “Oreo,” and said he understood the substance of the criticism — which he suggested is likely used in private by many Black people — even as he disagreed with the manner in which it was expressed:
LEMON: No, I think it’s — obviously, you don’t need the name calling. Any time you call someone a name, you don’t want to become them. You stoop to their level. You give your competitors ammunition and you give them a talking point and you become them.
So I don’t think it’s helpful to call anyone names. There are ways that you can hold people to account that you can call people out by not using names. I do it all the time.
KEILAR: Can I ask you about that, though? This idea, larger than that, is when I see those comments from the Democratic Party chair, it’s almost as if he’s saying, if you are black, you should be a Democrat, right? He’s sort of saying that —
LEMON: I don’t think that’s what he’s saying.
KEILAR: What do you think he’s saying?
LEMON: I think that’s a Republican talking point when people say if you are — if you are black, you should be a Democrat.
KEILAR: No, explain, you know, what Oreo means.
LEMON: Oreo is that he’s black on the outside, and he’s white on the inside. So I think that has to do with how you stand on social issues, issues that affect African-Americans, if you are voting against your own interests. If you are upholding a party that has really been not even — trafficking — has been trafficking in racism and insurrectionist party, a party that’s trying to restrict the voting rights for people who look like you.
So African-Americans understand what he’s saying. I don’t think that they would agree that he should be saying it that way, especially publicly. Now, I’m going to be honest. If you’re sitting around the kitchen table and you’re black and with other black people, they may say the same thing. What is wrong with, you know what, the term he used. But I don’t think it should be used publicly.
I think it is damaging to Democrats, if they are trying to do that, and it gives Republicans talking points.
Tim Scott should be held accountable for what he is doing and if he is voting against the interests of his own people.
That is something that’s valid and should be talked about. The name- calling is something different. It should be kept out of the public sphere.
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R- FL) and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R- GA) teamed up for an “America First” rally on Friday night, and Gaetz made some comments indirectly referencing his ongoing scandal.
“We have a right to confront our accusers in this country. How about that?” Gaetz said at one point. “There can be no due process here if the only process due to conservative is to see leaks embroidered onto lies, then just endlessly repeated by the America last media.”
Gaetz is currently under fire over a DOJ investigation into, as the New York Times first reported in March, “whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him.” The scandal has only grown since then, but Gaetz has been publicly defiant. He has denied the allegations against him and has said his family was the target of a blackmail scheme.
Gaetz went on a tear against CNN at the rally, calling them “the worst” and saying, “Today is my birthday. And I already know how CNN’s gonna report it. ‘Matt Gaetz has wild party surrounded by beautiful women in The Villages.’ So just get ready for it.”
“Today is my birthday. And I already know how CNN is gonna report it. ‘Matt Gaetz has wild party surrounded by beautiful woman in The Villages.'” — Matt Gaetz pic.twitter.com/woymqpqapD