Monthly Archives: February 2018

We the Sheeple


We just nod and walk in unison, lockstep. Confederation and contrived accord. Nothing to see here. Just keep moving along. Make no waves. Just accept. Nothing to see here.

Just Another Thought.

Coincidence, of course, proves nothing. But it’s interesting none the less. If the Democrats had been confident about their “memo” would they not have released it later when the media weren’t preoccupied with Broward County and not on a Saturday? But since they did, it is understandable that one wonders about chickens and eggs. Sun Tzu does commend the art of distraction.

And one more thing. In our era, all points of view have equal validity, right? But how then do we resolve disputes about what is permitted and what prohibited? Easy. As always there is a hierarchy of authority. Parents used to be higher on this list than drag queens. Now they may not even appear. So when the school authorities are asked to defend their offensive decisions, “Shut up,” they explain.

 

The Conspirateers’ Creed, Pledge and Gravamen

Not to go full Godwin on you, but this comes to mind.

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” ― Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

And this. Are you seeing a pattern?

“When the human race learns to read the language of symbolism, a great veil will fall from the eyes of men. They shall then know truth and, more than that, they shall realize that from the beginning truth has been in the world unrecognized, save by a small but gradually increasing number appointed by the Lords of the Dawn as ministers to the needs of human creatures struggling to regain their consciousness of divinity.” ― Manly P. Hall, Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire

Stop blaming the NRA for failed gun control efforts. 

This is a splendid piece from Jake Novak from of all places CNBC. It speaks to the insane patellar reflex that always decries and blames the NRA for everything when in fact, that’s anything but the case.

It usually only takes seconds after a mass shooting for a chorus of people to begin blaming the National Rifle Association for allowing these atrocities to happen.

You know how the argument goes. The “conventional wisdom” is the NRA’s heavy spending stops hundreds of politicians from enacting the “common sense” gun control laws they and everyone else would otherwise support.

There’s only one problem with that theory. It’s all wrong.

Of course, the NRA does spend money and it does have a sophisticated and persistent messaging operation. But so do dozens of other organizations and causes. So, how does the NRA stack up against them?

Not too well. The NRA, gun makers, and gun rights issues do not even show up on the OpenSecrets website lists for top lobbying firms, top lobbying sectors, top lobbying issues, or top lobbying industries for the years 1998-2017.

The figures for Florida Senator Marco Rubio are particularly educational, since he has been a target of a lot of anti-NRA screeds since the shooting in his home state. A look at the top 20 donors to Rubio directly and his PAC since 2009 does not include the NRA. Over his career since 2009, Rubio has raised a total of more than $91 million in donations. The NRA is responsible for just over $3 million of that, or 3.3 percent. Big whoop, as they say. Yes, $3 million is a lot of money and more than most of us could ever donate to anything. But context is everything, and the even a so-called “poster boy” for NRA donations would only be 3.3 percent lighter in campaign cash without them.

Again, that certainly doesn’t mean the NRA isn’t spending a lot of money. But the Poltifact fact-checking website puts the total amount of NRA spending since 1998 at $203 million. That figure is even smaller than it looks when you consider 30 percent of Americans, or about 100 million people, own a gun. By contrast, Wall Street and the broader financial industrial shelled out more than $1.1 billion in the 2016 election cycle alone. The financial industry employs only about six million people in total.

The bulk of that $203 million doesn’t actually go to candidates as the hysterical tweets and finger pointers seem to believe. It’s spent on those “issue ads” that you see mostly on cable news channels during election years. But even if those ads are extremely influential, they are a much different animal than direct campaign donations to individual congressional and presidential candidates.

There’s even a question of whether the NRA is very persuasive among actual gun owners. Fewer than 20 percent of American gun owners are even NRA members. That should tell us something about the “chicken or the egg” argument about the gun lobby. The NRA is much more likely piggybacking off the beliefs of gun owners as opposed to framing them in the first place. The real power is with those voting gun owners, not the lobby group that purports to represent them.

Some gun control advocates are wise to this fact. New America senior fellow Lee Drutman has been working to debunk the myth of the all-powerful NRA’s money for several years. Beginning in 2012, he noted the NRA hadn’t even made donations to a majority of members of Congress. He also made the correct designation between allegiance and influence. That is, the NRA supports candidates that already align with its philosophy as opposed to paying them to toe the line.

Former New York City mayor and media billionaire Mike Bloomberg has thus made a futile point over the years to combat the NRA’s money machine. Bloomberg founded “Everytown for Gun Safety” in 2014based on matching the NRA’s financial clout. It hasn’t been a total political failure. But in the wake of so many mass shootings since 2014, it’s also fair to say Everytown hasn’t been able to shepherd any new significant national gun laws to passage either.

A much better strategy is to talk less about the NRA and focus more on resurrecting the anti-gun violence measures Americans have supported in the past. That includes beefed up policing and improved background check systems.

A misbegotten path is introducing new rules and misrepresenting them to the public. That’s what happened last year when Democrats tried a proposed rule that they and most of the news media portrayed as a way to keep guns from the “mentally ill.” But it really sought to put people into the federal government gun background database if they received disability payments from Social Security and received assistance to manage their benefits due to mental impairments. That’s a far cry from “mentally ill.” Even the ACLU and mental health advocates lined up against that idea, not just the NRA.

A similar mistake is being made with trying to put everyone on the TSA’s “no fly” list into the gun background check database. Again, the ACLU swooped in to join the NRA in opposing that idea since that list is notoriously error-prone and using it would also deprive people of due process.

In each case, the NRA’s power was overstated in getting those proposed laws defeated. That’s because in each case, the NRA had a lot of help.

The problem with that tweet isn’t the sentiment, but the use of the loaded “common sense” term. Everyone is for common sense, but not everyone defines it the same way or even seeks to define it at all. Mr. Obama should know by now that legislative efforts need to be a lot more specific than that to succeed. Highly defined new rules stand the best chance of succeeding because they have in the past.

For example, we already have a national ban on gun dealers selling handguns to anyone under 21 years old. In light of the spike in school shootings carried out by current and recent students, gun control groups might want to start by pushing for extending that under-21 ban to all firearms.

That’s just one idea, but the bottom line is going to nasty war with the NRA isn’t a productive path for anyone. People in favor of reducing gun violence and mass shootings need to focus on specific choices and set out to convince the public to back them with their votes. Then the politicians will be forced to follow.

“Dump the NRA!” is a bumper sticker, not a policy. America needs a new policy.

This Should Explain Everything: A Conspiratorium Clerisy Cartography

This is an excellent starting point. Think of it as conspiracy cartography for members of the Conspiratorium Clerisy. Negotiate within and expect your mind to surge with waves and paroxysms, cavalcades of utter and delicious confusion. And earned awe.