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The Holder Battle and the NRA

I would probably be remiss as a so called pragmatist if I didn’t explain my take on the political situation surrounding the Holder confirmation.  I should note that it is very important that folks contact their Senators and express their concerns about Holder, and ask them to oppose his nomination.  The reason it’s important is because it lets our representatives know we’re out here, and that we have a lot of concerns about the upcoming administration.  I also don’t think there’s any harm in NRA members calling NRA to tell them what they think.  I would welcome the NRA getting involved in trying to defeat the confirmation of Eric Holder for Attorney General, but I believe that involvement unlikely.  What I will try to explain is why this is unlikely, and why it’s not unreasonable, lazy, or cowardly for NRA to decide the upside to opposition might not be worth the downside.

It’s not unheard of for a nominee to be rejected by the Senate, but it’s rare.  Even rarer from The President’s own party.  If you look at how large the Democratic majority in The Senate is, it is extremely unlikely that Eric Holder will not be the next Attorney General, short of him being caught with a dead girl, or a live boy.  You can call me defeatist all you want, but that’s reality.  Republicans and the braver blue dogs can ask tough questions, hew and haw, and rake Holder over the coals, but they are not likely to have the votes to outright defeat his nomination.  Late in 2007, we had a similar issue with the Sullivan nomination, and I would note that the Bush Administration is now ending with Michael Sullivan still director of ATF.  He was never confirmed, because allies in the Senate put his nomination on hold, but he remains Acting Director of BATFE to this day.

The NRA is probably in the most precarious political situation it’s seen itself in since 1994.  We have the mother of all battles coming.  If you look at things from their point of view, you would look at the risk/reward equation in the following manner:

Rewards

  1. Getting the grass roots fired up over Holder, who appropriately makes a good villian.
  2. Letting politicians know NRA’s membership is not happy with Holder.
  3. Letting Holder know NRA and their membership are unhappy with his record, and are skeptical of his appointment.
  4. Pleasing membership who expects NRA to fight everything.
  5. Very remote chance of defeating the confirmation.

Risks

  1. Holder will try to get back at NRA for their public opposition to his confirmation.  NRA will be shut out from working with anyone, even friendly people who might be holdovers, in the Department of Justice for the next four years.
  2. NRA throws its political weight behind defeating Holder, is ultimately unsuccessful, and signals the Obama Administration that NRA can’t oppose it.
  3. Distracting membership from bigger fights looming on the horizon, like a new Assault Weapons Ban, Gun Show Loophole, and other gun control wish items, which might be winnable.
  4. By not getting involved, upsetting membership who wants Holder defeated.
  5. If against all odds, Holder is actually defeated, the strong likelihood Obama will nominate someone just as bad.

It’s perfectly reasonable to believe NRA should get involved with the fight against Holder, but it’s also perfectly reasonable for NRA to see a lot of risk for not much chance of benefit too.  When you and I act against Holder independently, it has no downside, because we are not creatures of DC, and don’t have to worry about perceptions of our political capital. The National Rifle Association does not have the same luxury.  They have to very carefully weigh which fights they need to wage.  There will be times when it is necessary to fight with no hope of victory, but members should ask themselves whether they’d rather have NRA go down swinging trying unsuccessfully to defeat Holder, enhancing the paper tiger meme, or whether they’d prefer NRA preserve its political capital to defeat gun control bills?

Before someone suggests, “But all we’re asking for is a membership alert,” the other things NRA doesn’t have the luxury of is half measures.  It will become known that NRA alerted its members, and NRA will incur many of the risks outlined above.  They either need to poop, or get off the pot.  This is actually an area where GOA, JPFO, Firearms Coalition, blogs, and forums can be of tremendous help, because they can speak on issues, like this, that are very risky for NRA.  Like I said, I would welcome NRA’s involvement, if they decide the risk is worth the reward, but I won’t blame them if they don’t see it that way.

44 Responses to “The Holder Battle and the NRA”

  1. I think a good way to go after Holder, is by some of his track record, and leave the gun issue alone. Find another issue that rubs you wrong that he believes in. I think think this will be the new way of going after people. It’s more grass roots, and leaves the NRA outta it.

  2. Horsesh-t. If the NRA won’t fight this battle, they won’t fight any battles.

    “The problem with retreating is that once you do it, it’s hard to stop.” — Sgt. Lee Johnson, 23rd Regimental Combat Team, Korea, 1950.

    Saving themselves for the “big” battles? Puhlleeze. You boys need to learn the “Bugout Boogie.”

    “Lordy, Lordy, won’t you listen to me,
    The colonel said ‘Stand!’
    But it ain’t gonna be,
    ‘Cause we’re buggin’ out,
    Yes, we’re movin’ on . . .”

  3. Mike123 says:

    Another risk for the NRA is when John McCain comes out and supports Holder. So here you have the NRA endorsed McCain endorsing an Att Gen. opposed by the NRA.

    Think McCain’s support is unlikely? McAmnesty went after Holder in the summer without success. To improve his Maverick status and desire to pass Amnesty, he’ll need to mend fences with Obama. Supporting Holder is ideal.

    Off topic slightly, I believe the NRA endorsement system sucks. They should not have endorsed McCain. He’s a gun banner (gun show loophole) and the NRA fought him on McCain Feingold.

  4. Sebastian says:

    Endorsing McCain was a huge risk, overall, for a lot of reasons. Of course, not endorsing McCain was also a huge risk. In hindsight, they probably shouldn’t have, but that’s hindsight.

  5. Sebastian says:

    Yes, because no good general picks their battles carefully. It’s reasonable to suggest NRA is perhaps too McClellan, and not enough Sherman, and at times I would agree with you. But on this one, I honestly think it can go both ways as to whether their involvement is a smart move. This isn’t so much a retreat, as choosing not make a foolish attack.

    Obama won the election. That will have consequences for us. Do you honestly believe we can defeat Holder? Where are the votes against him going to come from? How is this situation different than Mike Sullivan?

  6. Sebastian says:

    The problem with confirmation hearings, is there is a powerful incentive for politicians to tow the party line, and give their party’s president his nominee. Even the bluest of blue dogs is going to be hard pressed to cross their own president, and the party leadership, to stick their necks out on something most of their constituents aren’t going to care about.

    When it comes to Gun Control Bills, the dynamics change a bit, and more conservative blue dogs have more license to split from their party’s leadership. They will be more responsive to arm twisting by lobbying groups, and grass roots efforts.

    The reason it makes sense for blogs, and other groups to make a go of Holder is because there’s not as much downside risk as there is for NRA. If NRA twists arms over Holder, and puts a lot of blue dogs in a difficult spot, you’re not just blowing your own political capital, but that of the blue dogs as well. Next time you twist, they might tell you to fuck off. Sure, you can try to defeat them next election, but a lot of damage can happen until them. Any siding with NRA is going to put blue dog Democrats, who’s support we will absolutely need to defeat gun control bills, in a precarious position with party leadership. If you’re going to ask that of them, you better be damned sure the stakes are awfully high. Like I said, it’s not unreasonable to believe the stakes are high enough with Holder, but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that blue dog arm twisting is best left for fighting gun control bills in Congress. Even if you defeat Holder, you have no guarantee the next guy won’t be just as bad, and in fact, he probably will be.

    No interest group in Washington is powerful enough to convince the party in power to defeat two of their own president’s nominees. I’m not sure in the history of the United States that has ever happened.

  7. Tim M says:

    I agree that NRA really can’t help with the derailment of this appointment. If the Rich pardon, his memo on the 6th amendment, his work with Blago which Specter has called him on, plus sending the storm troopers to pry the little Cuban kid away from his family in Florida isn’t enough to disqualify him, then the gun issue never would. Clinton lost 2 AG nominees because of comparatively minor nanny issues if I recall correctly. There is enough out in open already to get rid of Holder if the Senate Repubs were to grow a set. Even if Holder can be damaged enough to be dumped, Obama would nominate someone just as bad or worse. Elections have consequences!

  8. Tom says:

    who IS the NRA?

    Are we talking members here or just another set of jackass representatives that only watch out for their self interests and not the people who put them there.

    Fuck the organization, that’s the same big gov “let someone else do it” crap that gets us into these problems in the first place.

    Shut down the switchboards like with amnesty, and keep the number on speed dial.

  9. Wolfwood says:

    Direct attack on Holder over gun issues is waste of resources. If there are other skeletons then by all means use those, but at present I’m concerned that we won’t even be able to get a sunset provision put into the next AWB. RKBA advocates have will soon have a hostile President and bureaucracy, hostile Congress, and hostile media to deal with; off-set only by a tenuous and slim majority on the Supreme Court. Things are bad. We’re not samurai who are honor-bound to attack at every turn; we’re in a position where we need to pick out battles and make maximum use of our resources.

    Directly attacking on the issues is resource-intensive and presumes that you have very, very strong support among politicians and/or the public. That’s not where things are right now. Collateral attack is cheaper and usually easier. Surely he’s done something morally or legally questionable of which we can make hay.

    You also need to remember that RKBA isn’t the number one issue among some. One of my Senators is very pro-RKBA yet also pro-abortion; I’d trade him for someone squishy on RKBA and anti-abortion if I had to choose between the two, and I will not ever cast a vote for my current Senator regardless of what he does on the gun issue.

  10. Late in 2007, we had a similar issue with the Sullivan nomination, and I would note that the Bush Administration is now ending with Michael Sullivan still director of ATF. He was never confirmed, because allies in the Senate put his nomination on hold, but he remains Acting Director of BATFE to this day.

    And I would note that one possible reason for Sullivan’s continued presence as Acting Director is that the NRA chose a sideline role for that battle, as well.

    That’s a role that the NRA seems to enjoy, and I have to admit, they have a good deal of practice at it.

  11. anon says:

    In September of 1777, the British had taken Philadelphia. Members of Congress like John Hancock were roused from their slumber at midnight and told to flee the city because the British were just a few hours away. The delegates frantically packed their bags, gathered their political papers, and fled within the hour. The home of Congress had fallen to the enemy.

    As the fall turned towards winter, Washington desperately wanted to engage the British in an offensive campaign to retake the city. Virtually all of Washington’s staff disagreed with his plan, citing it as too dangerous. They preferred establishing a fortified winter quarters encampment, and to draw the British out for a fight on more favorable ground. Washington’s force numbered 8,000, compared to the roughly 10,000 Redcoats under Howe. An American attack on an entrenched army who could retreat into the protection of a major city would be an incredible risk. Henry Knox warned, “My opinion is clearly, pointedly, and positively, against an attack on the enemies redoubts, because I am fully convinced a defeat would be certain and inevitable.”

    Yet Washington very nearly took the risk, in no small part because of the pressure put on him by Congress to go on the offensive (and the fear that the Conway Cabal would succeed in replacing him as Commander in Chief). By December of 1777, even Congress had seen the error of their ways and approved of the decision to draw back to winter quarters. The Continental Army suffered through the hellish winter of 1777-78, losing thousands of men in the process, because they they knew they were engaged in a strategic battle that wouldn’t come without cost. Still, the tactical importance of picking their own battle was worth it. Looking back in hindsight, I’m thankful that caution prevailed over the cries for immediate action.

    Even the best of us can sometimes fail to recognize sound strategy. Sebastian’s articulated very good reasons for “waiting until we see the whites of their eyes” before we expend some of our political capital. In the meantime, we should be working towards things that can build us more of that precious resource.

  12. Sebastian says:

    The votes weren’t there to defeat Sullivan. He was acceptable to the Democrat Majority, and a lot of Republicans. I was surprised there was even a hold put on it. Plus, you have the same problem even if you’re successful: That the guy who nominated the first asshole, gets to pick another asshole. You can hope that the second asshole is better than the first, and with Bush, maybe you could have counted on that. No such case with Obama.

  13. Skullz says:

    RISKS

    1. Holder will try to get back at NRA for their public opposition to his confirmation. NRA will be shut out from working with anyone, even friendly people who might be holdovers, in the Department of Justice for the next four years.

    So? Let him go for it, you’re (and many others) are already (rightly) convinced he’s going to go after it anyway. If the NRA doesn’t want to respond to it’s paying members – fine it WILL be shut out because it won’t be funded.

    2. NRA throws its political weight behind defeating Holder, is ultimately unsuccessful, and signals the Obama Administration that NRA can’t oppose it.

    This is an opportunity for NRA to show that “You can deal with us and our members or you can deal with those freaks that keep scaring the white people. You’re move.”

    3. Distracting membership from bigger fights looming on the horizon, like a new Assault Weapons Ban, Gun Show Loophole, and other gun control wish items, which might be winnable.

    Distracting? My ass… this is the first of many fights that we should be aggressive about. Send a clear message that the NRA isn’t screwing around (my, what a thought). Just what do you think Holder will be pushing if / when he gets in? Let’s send the message NOW that his confirmation and the fight behind it are just the beginning.

    4. By not getting involved, upsetting membership who wants Holder defeated.

    Yep – the NRA can stay silent on this and I will split the amount of money I spent last year on the NRA between GOA and JPOFA. I’ll make an effort to convince other people to do the same.

    5. If against all odds, Holder is actually defeated, the strong likelihood Obama will nominate someone just as bad.

    And then we fight it again, and get the NRA involved again.

    If the NRA wants my support, they best give it in return. The America’s First Freedom issues since the election have been filled with “The Coming fights” and “What we’ll need to do to preserve our rights” editorials on every page. The request for additional donations have been arriving in my mailbox every other week for the last 18 months. Well? This is the first fight – lets go, then.

    I’ve contacted my reps multiple times on this issue. I’ve sent email, snail mail, and calls to the judiciary committee. I’ve convinced a few people who are ambivalent to the 2A issue to contact the judiciary committee and oppose Holder on the basis of Rich, FALN, and Elian.

    If I can do all that, I expect, no DEMAND, that an organization that I support financially every year to get of their asses.

    But, you and others will give them a pass. I’m sure that Mr. Cox is is reading your reasoning and assuring himself that it’s all gonna be alright. Hey, maybe he’ll send you a new hat or an NRA engraved knife commemorating Holder pushing through the new AWB.

    Skullz

    III

  14. Sebastian says:

    So? Let him go for it, you’re (and many others) are already (rightly) convinced he’s going to go after it anyway. If the NRA doesn’t want to respond to it’s paying members – fine it WILL be shut out because it won’t be funded.

    It’s a good point, but he might have other priorities unless provoked. There will be holdover from the previous administration once you get below the higher level appointees. There are ways that people who are comfortable working with NRA, or who are known to be NRA members themselves, within DOJ, can be made, shall we say, uncomfortable. But if NRA does decide to jump in, it’ll probably be because it can’t get much worse from a “Holder is going to screw you.” point of view.

    This is an opportunity for NRA to show that “You can deal with us and our members or you can deal with those freaks that keep scaring the white people. You’re move.”

    I give that line of argument about a 0.01% chance of working on Capitol Hill. NRA would be shunned in DC if they even suggested violence if they didn’t get their way. That’s a ticket on the fast train to the political wilderness, when just the election alone has them nearly half way there already.

    Distracting? My ass… this is the first of many fights that we should be aggressive about. Send a clear message that the NRA isn’t screwing around (my, what a thought). Just what do you think Holder will be pushing if / when he gets in? Let’s send the message NOW that his confirmation and the fight behind it are just the beginning.

    You greatly overestimate how much drive the average gun owner has to write a letter, call, or send an e-mail. What you don’t want is for people to write once over this, then figure they already talked to their Congressman about guns when a new gun control bill hits the floor in Congress.

    And then we fight it again, and get the NRA involved again.

    It would be a miracle to derail one appointment. It would be historically unprecedented to derail two when the President and Congress are of the same party. Political capital is not infinite. When you ask your allies to in politics to do certain things for you, it’s a favor. Bad things happen to people who ask too many favors, both friendships and politics. When you get something out of someone by twisting someone’s arm, you better be able to threaten their seat. Better also hope they don’t decide to tell you to piss off let you have a run at it, and better hope you’re not bluffing if they do. You will have a handful of great friends who will do anything for you, in both personal life and in politics, but interest groups are lucky to have a handful of those. Right now, NRA is relying on a lot of political allies, and arm twisting. You can only do so much of that, so the fight you wage today on Capital Hill, makes you weaker the next go round. That is the essence of political capital.

    I’ve contacted my reps multiple times on this issue. I’ve sent email, snail mail, and calls to the judiciary committee. I’ve convinced a few people who are ambivalent to the 2A issue to contact the judiciary committee and oppose Holder on the basis of Rich, FALN, and Elian.

    That’s great. I do think that’s important. But understand there’s a difference between doing it on your own, and NRA asking its membership to do it. Once they do that, they are, in effect, twisting arms on Capitol Hill.

    But, you and others will give them a pass. I’m sure that Mr. Cox is is reading your reasoning and assuring himself that it’s all gonna be alright. Hey, maybe he’ll send you a new hat or an NRA engraved knife commemorating Holder pushing through the new AWB.

    I can assure you Chris Cox has better things to do than read my blog. And I will give them a pass, because as I’ve outlined, believing Holder’s nomination is not worth trying to defeat is not an unreasonable position. Granted, I would love someone else, but the guy I voted for didn’t win this election, Obama did, and Obama isn’t going to nominate an AG who is pro-gun. NRA does not have unlimited political power or resources. If it had 20 million members instead of 4 million, it could walk on to capitol hill and dictate terms. But it can’t. If NRA fights Holder and loses, which is nearly certain given the makeup of the Senate, that will have grave consequences to NRA’s political power. I don’t like Holder, and I think we should make our displeasure known to our representatives. But yes, I do give NRA a pass for thinking they have more important battles coming up.

  15. Skullz says:

    “But yes, I do give NRA a pass for thinking they have more important battles coming up.”

    THEY are US! At least they are supposed to be, or used to be….

    If I, as a gun owner and contributing NRA member have to think of the NRA as a they, then I certainly won’t be a contributing member much longer.

    Hell, Sebastian.. if it’s not US, we’re fucked… and so are THEY.,

  16. Jeff Knox says:

    Sebastian,
    I couldn’t disagree more.
    In spite of all of the doom and gloom being circulated about what Obama and the Dems are going to be pushing for on the gun control front, the reality is that Dems have not pushed gun control for the past two years because they like being in power and they remember 1994. The key to whether they will push gun control now is not about whether they can pass the bills or whether Obama will sign them, but what the reaction of the voters would be.
    Sarah Brady and her crew are trying to convince the politicians that the “gun lobby” is dead; that gunowners strongly support “reasonable restrictions” on guns and that the NRA has lost its influence because Heller took away the threat of an outright ban on guns.
    NRA has a choice right now to either step up and lead the fight against Holder or sit quietly and reinforce the belief that they have lost their clout. Even if NRA keeps silent they are going to receive the credit or blame for whatever happens in this fight. If they go for a full-out press to block Holder’s confirmation and GunVoters make a huge stink – it doesn’t matter if we don’t succeed in the end – everyone knew it was an all but impossible fight to win, but we made a good show and rattled the old saber. If we do succeed – that’s HUGE!!!
    The only way to lose capitol on this one is to not fight or not fight very hard and look like wimps. That’s where NRA is leaving us right now.
    Let me tweak your pro’s and con’s:
    Rewards

    1. Getting the grass roots fired up over Holder, who appropriately makes a good villain.
    [And the grassroots are desperately looking for something to cling to. They need to be put to work or they are going to drop off or get into mischief. (Yes I’m talking about you Vanderboegh)]
    2. Letting politicians know NRA’s membership is not happy with Holder.
    [Letting politicians know that the reports of our demise are exagerated.]
    3. Letting Holder know NRA and their membership are unhappy with his record, and are skeptical of his appointment.
    [I don’t really care what Holder knows or thinks about us. He’s anti-gun and he’s going to take anti-gun action as AG.]
    4. Pleasing membership who expects NRA to fight everything.
    [Not everything – everything that makes sense, and this does.]
    5. Very remote chance of defeating the confirmation.
    [Very remote chance – as opposed to NO CHANCE if they don’t get involved.]

    Risks

    1. Holder will try to get back at NRA for their public opposition to his confirmation. NRA will be shut out from working with anyone, even friendly people who might be holdovers, in the Department of Justice for the next four years.
    [Holder is going to be the most NRA-unfriendly AG in history regardless of what NRA does or does not do regarding his confirmation.]
    2. NRA throws its political weight behind defeating Holder, is ultimately unsuccessful, and signals the Obama Administration that NRA can’t oppose it.
    [Nonsense!!!! There is no shame in losing a fight that everyone believes is un-winnable. As long as we make a good showing, we win – building political capitol and engendering fear and respect. Doing nothing sends the message that the gun lobby is impotent.]
    3. Distracting membership from bigger fights looming on the horizon, like a new Assault Weapons Ban, Gun Show Loophole, and other gun control wish items, which might be winnable.
    [Nonsense! Those things are at the front of members minds – as gun sales prove. Organizing for, and leading members into, this fight is a good warm-up for the fights to come and some of those fights might just evaporate if we make a good showing right now.
    Also, “might be winnable”?!? We do not want our first battle with this Congress and this President to be over something which, if lost, is going to be a major substantive set-back for our rights. Losing this fight over Holder is no harm – as long as we make a good fight of it. Losing a fight over AW’s or 50’s is a big deal. Making a good fight over Holder could preempt any fight over AW’s or .50’s, thus securing the victory without the battle.]
    4. By not getting involved, upsetting membership who wants Holder defeated.
    [Members want to be doing something NOW. Not getting them involved and activated now is a big mistake and might result in them not being available to help in the future.]
    5. If against all odds, Holder is actually defeated, the strong likelihood Obama will nominate someone just as bad.
    [And we might have to do battle again, but we’ll have sent our message loud and clear – Don’t Mess with the Gun People and the Second Amendment!]

    Our opposition to Holder is growing and I believe that it is only a mater of a day or two until the lame-stream media will be shifting their reporting on the Holder issue to include Second Amendment concerns with concerns about Marc Rich and Holder’s Sixth Amendment memo. Once that happens, this will be a matter of “the gun lobby” opposing Holder. Once it is the “gun lobby,” it is the NRA whether they are actually involved or not. So all of the negatives apply without any of the positives and no chance at some of the positive potential.
    Political capitol is not like money, it is not something which is diminished when you spend it. Political capitol is lost when you lose power. Making a Hell-of-a-fight over something which is perceived as rather minor, builds political capitol whether you win the fight or not – it is the fight itself which generates the capitol.
    When you combine all of Holder’s problems and the interest groups which should be opposing him, the potential for victory is looking better and better every day. NRA is making a HUGE mistake if they do not get out front on this and lead the charge.
    This really is straight forward: An avowed enemy is being offered the most powerful job in the land and our leading government watchdog group is going to sit idly by and not say a word?
    NRA sitting this one out can not be justified. If they do not get involved they are making a very big mistake. I sincerely hope that they are just quietly getting some ducks in a row before they drop a bombshell because they have nothing to lose in opposing Holder and much to gain.
    Jeff Knox
    The Firearms Coalition
    Much more information about Holder and the fight to keep him out of the AG’s chair can be found at:
    http://www.FirearmsCoalition.org

  17. anon says:

    What about Hillary Clinton as SecState? Or the anti-gun Arne Duncan as SecEd? Nancy Killefer as the new Chief Performance Officer? Has Sanjay Gupta ever said anything bad about guns on CNN?

    Obama’s anti-gun. We know that. So of course he’s going to appoint anti-gun officials to key positions. That’s expected. What will motivate the vast majority of gun owners is a direct threat to their freedom, and the simple appointment of an official will not resonate as an urgent threat with gun owners overall. We don’t have to like it, but we do have to accept it as the current reality.

    So call out the “unorganized militia” on this one. Encourage individuals to call their Senators as Sebastian and others have done. But the “standing army” of NRA members has to be used for the battles, not the skirmishes which are sure to come.

  18. Sebastian says:

    Sorry, for thinking we have more important battles coming up. But part of being a “we” means that not everyone will always agree with you 100% of the time. If enough members call them, they well have to listen. NRA is a representative body — a civic organization. Members elect board members, who hire NRA leadership, who hire staff, implement management structure, and generally make the organization function (or not function, as the case may be). Like any civic organization, they can’t keep everyone happy all of the time. They have to aim for keeping most of their members happy. Some members are happy just getting a magazine. Others just do shooting sports, and don’t much concern themselves with politics. But most of the members are most concerned about new gun control measures, which is what they are going to expect NRA to fight. NRA has issues several alerts already highlighting Holder’s record. I would expect they will release more. But if they ask people to call, write, fax and e-mail, that means a different kind of thing on Capitol Hill. That starts the spending of political capital. There will be times when members will just have to do the right thing without NRA having to ask them to do it.

  19. anon says:

    Jeff,

    Given the complete lack of interest the lame-stream media showed towards the 2nd Amendment in the presidential election, what makes you think they will suddenly find it a compelling subplot regarding the nomination of Eric Holder?

  20. Sebastian says:

    Jeff:

    You make a good case. The best case made for getting involved I could probably imagine. But I still think there’s serious risks to NRA pulling out all the stops on an fight with very little chance of a positive outcome in the end. People know guns weren’t much of an issue in this election too, and yet we still have stories in the media about how the NRA is dead. I can’t think of too many better ways to demonstrate that than by fighting Holder and losing.

    I also think you overestimate how many people are actually fired up and rearing to flood Congressional switchboards. Dedicated people are tough to find. Perhaps that will change, and the stars will line up the wrong way for Holder, and NRA will pile on with all the other groups pointing out the skeletons in his closet. If that happens, great. If he’s defeated, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. But even in that instance, I don’t have high hopes for Obama’s second choice in regards to guns. If I thought there was a pro-gun AG somewhere behind Holder, I might be more inclined to demand NRA go down swinging, but this is one of those battles that even if you win, you still lose.

  21. Aren’t you save-it-for-later types just the least bit worried that if the rest of us, in alliance with a broad spectrum of groups, actually derail Holder that you will once again be seen as ineffectual cowards whose default mode is to avoid a fight, any fight, if possible?

    Just curious.

  22. Sebastian says:

    I’ll worry about that when it happens. But even if it does, do you think Obama is going to pick someone pro-gun for the second try? Just curious.

  23. Of course not. But he will KNOW that WE (not counting y’all of course) forced him to do it. You don’t defend the walls of city by waiting for the seige engines, Sebastian. You carry out spoiling attacks while the enemy is vulnerable in the approach march.

    An enemy with a bloody nose does one of two things. He either recoils in shock, or loses his temper and comes at you with everything he’s got, hey diddle diddle, right up the middle. Either action can be used against him to win the fight. All of that presupposes that you are willing to fight at all.

    Of course, if you’re willing to prove our previous point about your analysis being grounded less in principle and more in self-preservation, then just hide and watch. You risk nothing that way, except, as I say, the proving of our point.

  24. Sebastian says:

    The approach march was in November. We lost that part. What you’re suggesting is shooting the bastard manning the siege engine, when there’s another bastard right behind him willing to step up. We will run out of defenders before they run out of attackers.

  25. Sebastian says:

    I should refine that analogy a bit better… you’re suggesting the general tell everyone to shoot the bastard manning the siege engine, rather than take individual initiative in making the bastards manning the siege engines a target of opportunity. Ammunition is limited. It will need to be spent where it counts the most.

  26. Jeff Knox says:

    Mike is right. Unnecessarily confrontational and abrasive, but right. This is not about Holder or even stopping Holder, it’s about fighting. You characterized this as, “one of those battles where even if you win you lose.” That’s exactly wrong. This is a fight where even if we lose, we win – if we make a good fight of it.
    We are going to have an anti-gun AG. That is not in question. Are we going to sit idly by and allow the appointment of an AG who has stood up on the front lines of assaults on the Second Amendment?
    This is not about winning it is about fighting. Not fighting is losing by default and inviting more attacks. This is school yard bully stuff. A bully starts taunting and pushing you and you either push back or it will get worse. You might know he’s going to kick your butt, but he’s going to do that whether you fight or not – that’s what bullies do. If you fight though, and fight hard, not only will he be much more cautious about messing with you in future, the other bullies who were lining up to take a shot at you will back off too.
    The Republicans would love to give Obama a bloody nose right now, but they, like the NRA, don’t think they have the clout so they are mostly just taunting and blustering. With the clamor rising, it would be NRA who was doing the R’s a favor if they jumped into this thing about now. I half expect the ACLU to issue a statement opposing Holder over the Sixth Amendment memo. Don’t you know the press would eat up an ACLU – NRA coalition opposing Holder?
    Something else about winning the fight. We don’t have to win the fight in the Senate. That’s next to impossible. We need to win the fight in the public. The media isn’t going to help us much, but that picture of the storm-troopers grabbing Elian Gonzalez and Holder’s quote; “”He was not taken at the point of a gun” are pretty powerful stuff.
    Janet Reno was Bill Clinton’s third or fourth pick for AG. None of the earlier ones were defeated by a vote in the Senate they had hired “undocumented” nannies or gardeners or something. Holder has flagrantly abused the Constitution. If we and others can raise enough ruckus, he will be too tainted to be seated and he’ll decide that he’d like to return to private practice.
    I still say that fighting this fight hard builds political capital rather than spends it.
    I hope the powers that be at NRA will see that in time to take action. In the mean time, I encourage the continued pressure through letters and calls to both the Senate and NRA, but I discourage the arguing about it. Rights supporters disagreeing in strategy or tactics, arguing about it, and letting the argument get personal thereby dividing us and keeping us from working together even when we do agree, has done more to harm the movement than anything else ever has. Those of us who want to fight this fight need to stay focused on the fight with Obama and avoid getting wrapped up in fights with the folks who want to sit this one out. There will always be another fight and we’ll all need each other before this presidency is over.
    Jeff

  27. Wolfwood says:

    I think that those suggesting a serious fight are vastly overestimating the power the RKBA movement has. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the NRA’s membership is wholly devoted to the RKBA cause as their first issue. For many, they belong to the NRA because their shooting club requires it and they don’t care so long as their gun isn’t physically taken away. Even of the remaining (minority?) of owners who are politically aware, a large amount have other issues which take precedence. I said above that one of my Senators is known to be solid on RKBA, yet I’ll vote against him regardless because of his position on abortion; do you think I’m the only person who thinks that abortion (or gay rights, Iraq, educational vouchers, Global Warming, prayer in schools, etc.) takes precedence over RKBA if forced to choose? The NRA’s true clout on this is less than it seems because anti-RKBA types know that the NRA can’t count on 100% of its membership on every issue. RKBA types try to pick off Blue Dog Democrats on gun issues; do you really think the Democrats think the NRA can muster four million outraged members?

    Small gains are being made (park carry, Heller, state CCW), but Classical Liberalism in general is getting its butt kicked at the moment. Is the NRA big and powerful? Of course (and this makes it a tempting target for those newly flush with power of their own). The problem is that there are three main possible outcomes:

    1. Holder is rejected based on the issues. That’s great, although probably expensive monetarily and politically. Obama next appoints a carbon-copy, rightly figuring that he’ll run out of anti-RKBA candidates long after the NRA runs out of funds and power.
    2. Holder is rejected based on some collateral matter, such as having an illegal immigrant nanny. This does little, if anything, for RKBA (he’ll be replaced by a carbon-copy), hardly demonstrates anything about the NRA, and wastes NRA resources. This is less expensive than Outcome #1, but utterly wasteful.
    3. Holder isn’t defeated. Who has the bloody nose (and fewer resources) now? Should the NRA charge, or should it retreat? Using the logic above, the NRA will have just weakened itself for a more substantial blow against it.

    Armchair commandos calling other bloggers cowards is also a bit rich and speaks poorly of those making the insult.

    In the Real World, I’m surrounded every day by those who will be and those who currently are active in state and national politics. In general, they know jack-squat about guns; what little they know comes from Hollywood. These are the type of people that it’s being suggested we sway by stirring up a (probably unsuccessful) mess and whom we threaten with violence from outside groups if our demands aren’t met. We’re not Sinn Fein, and anyone thinking we ought to be needs to step back and re-assess the situation.

  28. “wastes NRA resources.” On a mass EMAIL?

    “We’re not Sinn Fein, and anyone thinking we ought to be needs to step back and re-assess the situation.” You’re right, were bigger than Sinn Fein, have vastly more arms than Sinn Fein ever dreamed, and we have the advantage of not being apologists for socialist terrorists. We don’t want independence from the British. We already won that argument. We don’t want revolution, or insurrection or any of the other allegations of so-called “pragmatists.” We simply want to be left alone. We’re not demanding anything from the collectivist bastards other than that. And if you were smart, being so well connected with politicos and all, you ought to be using our existence to convince them to back off.

    But you won’t even risk that. They might think you’re a “gun nut” and we can’t be having that, can we? Might risk your delicate reputation. And you call US, “armchair commandos”? That just shows how totally divorced from reality you are.

  29. Paul W. Davis says:

    Sebastian,

    I could dig you reasoning out of neighbor’s barnyard.

  30. Wolfwood says:

    Mike Vanderboegh

    As Sebastian has pointed out, even an email can be risky. It would be as though someone asked you if you’d recommend so-and-so for a job with them. It doesn’t directly cost you anything to say yes or no (and hardly anything to write a letter of recommendation). If it turns out that the person you recommended doesn’t pan out, though, you’ve just lost some credibility with your friend the employer. It’s the same principle here. A slight variation on this would be like the Boy Who Cried Wolf: Holder isn’t the only person in a position to harm the RKBA; if Obama tells him to do nothing but has various other officials do it then the NRA looks stupid. The NRA is in a target rich environment with limited ammunition: they need to pick their shots and can’t just spray-and-pray.

    As for those around me who are politically connected, the approach you’ve suggested doesn’t work. Even the idea that the Second Amendment protects a right of revolution is too much for most of them. These are otherwise well-educated and well-meaning people but this is quite simply a huge blind spot for them. Where I have had some success, including the head of the local ACLU and the editor of a local paper, has been in talking and in taking people shooting for their first time. Do I think they’d consider me a loon if I talked about militias and such? They certainly would, and what successes I’ve had would not only be countered but their views on RKBA would be set back even more.

    We have to go slowly and work with what we have; the nature of our audience and our political position and the moment are such that pushing too hard is going to be counter-productive. The time to go full-steam will come, but right now the groundwork’s in such bad shape that we’re going to stumble if we go too fast.

  31. Announcement: Due to the overwhelming complaints received by Korean War veterans at being compared to the NRA by virtue of my naming Bugout Boogie to be their common anthem, I hereby retract that statement. The veterans are correct that they earned the right to sing that song by virtue of risking their lives, whilst the NRA has only ever risked their shaky reputations in verbal jousting with an armed foe.

    In its place we have selected “A Company of Cowards,” the New Christy Minstrels tune from Advance to the Rear, a 1964 comedy starring Glen Ford and Stella Stevens.

    The plot was the story of some Yankee misfits who were such an embarassment to the Union army in the Civil War that they were sent West to keep them out of sight. The movie was the basis of the television series “F Troop.”

    Here are the lyrics, updated:

    Company Of Cowards

    As I was walkin’ in D C, ’twas on a fine spring day
    What d’you suppose I chanced to see, desp’rate to get away?
    They tumbled out the Senate’s doors, afraid to take a stand
    ‘Twas a company of cowards, I could tell by how they ran

    CHORUS:
    Oh get around oh get around get around
    Oh get around get away
    ‘Tis a company of cowards
    And they’re called the N R A

    You should’ve seen their fancy suits, as shiny as new glass
    And when they passed E. Holder, they kissed him on the ass.
    And such were their pretensions, we laughed until we cried
    It’s a pity, Mis-ter Obama, that they’re not on your side.

    CHORUS:
    Oh get around oh get around get around
    Oh get around get away
    ‘Tis a company of cowards
    And they’re called the N R A

  32. That’s “risked their shaky reputations in verbal jousting with an UNarmed foe.”

  33. Jacob says:

    You need to seriously increase your daily intake of lithium Mike.

  34. AlanR says:

    The whole argument’s a cop out, it’s unheard of for judges not to be confirmed but Utah Shooting Sports Council and Gun Owners of Utah kept Hilder from being confirmed last year.

    NRA will miss 100% of the shots it doesn’t take. On the other hand, they have a good record of waiting until a win looks like a sure thing and then stepping in to take credit.

  35. Sebastian says:

    How did you defeat Holder last year when Obama was just elected in Nov.

  36. Wolfwood says:

    I don’t think “Hilder” was a typo; there was apparently a Judge Hilder up for elevation in Utah last year.

  37. Russn8r says:

    What’s the problem? Isn’t Holder rated “A” by the NRA like thousands of other anti-gun politicians? If not, NRA should just give him an A rating as they did with Sheriff Brown in Santa Barbara – who then went on to revoke all private carry permits as everyone knew he would.

  38. AlanR says:

    Not Holder, Judge Robert K. Hilder, an anti nominated for the Utah Court of Appeals. His nomination was defeated following a longshot, but successful, grassroots campaign.

    From Utah Shooting Sports Council Information Alert 11/19/08:
    ANTI-GUN JUDGE’S NOMINATION SHOT DOWN!!!

    The Utah Senate defeated the nomination of anti-gun rights Judge Robert K. Hilder, after hearing from outraged gun owners throughout the state, and others critical of his judgment and demeanor! This rejection of an Appeals Court judicial nomination is almost unprecedented in Utah, and reflects directly on Hilder’s proven antipathy to gun rights protected by the Article 1 section 6 of the Utah Constitution and the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  By his actions, Hilder also thumbed his nose at clear, constitutional language of laws passed by the Utah Legislature.

    Clearly, Utah does not like activist judges who try to legislate from the bench, instead of applying the laws.  Thanks to YOUR efforts contacting Senators with your concerns about this nomination, a major victory has been won for gun rights in this state.

    THANK YOU GUN RIGHTS SUPPORTERS! Make your voices heard and we can continue to protect and advance gun rights. The powerful gun lobby is made up of thousands of law abiding citizens who believe in the rule of law, and the right of lawful self defense.

    Senators Buttars, Waddoups, Bramble, and Madsen were the leaders of opposition to Hilder, and deserve special thanks.   The full list of Senators and their vote will be provided in a future alert.

    Governor Huntsman will nominate another judge for the Appeals Court.  We hope his picks a solid “strict constructionist” and not another judicial activist.

  39. Do I believe the NRA could have done much more to oppose the Holder nomination? You betcha! Much more.

    Do I think that Holder will be confirmed anyway, even if they had done much more? Yep…look at the numbers we’re up against in Congress. The enemy has the upper hand. That is a simple fact.

    Do I think we should then just give up and roll over? Nope. There is a major battle ahead, but we knew that going in…ever since November 4. We have our backs against the wall in Washington, and we need to prepare accordingly.

    What that means in practical terms regarding the NRA, I don’t know. Clearly on this particular issue the GOA has done much more.

    Perhaps the NRA is gearing up for what has every appearance of being a fight for our very lives on the gun issue in the near future…I don’t know. Let’s hope they are not just blowing smoke…

  40. emdfl says:

    A battle you refuse to fight is a battle you have lost by default. Lose enough of them this way and you lose the war. And it IS a WAR. Mike may be a loudmouth, but he at least understands the problem.

    The anti-gunners will not stop until nobody is allowed to even speak of firearms, let alone own any. And all those expensive shotguns and rifles owned by the NRA board members will be thrown in the ovens along with the EBR – they’ll just be on top of the pile.

    The difference between Mike and the NRA is that he hopes that he can convince the stupids to leave him alone. The NRA hopes to “work” with the stupids and be allowed to keep their toys.

    THAT AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.

  41. Sebastian says:

    This is not war. It’s not a street fight. It’s a political stuggle, which is a different animal. There are consequences to fighting and losing in politics.

  42. Oldfart says:

    Sebastian said “There are consequences to fighting and losing in politics.”

    There are always consequences to losing – whether in politics or in war. Someone (I don’t remember who) once said that one is merely and extension of the other. Let no one misunderstand: We are engaged in a war! At this point it is a cold war of words and politics. If we do not win it now we will be forced to fight a hot war, one of steel and blood and death. Consider that when you choose your fight.

  43. Chad D says:

    Does anyone have a good letter typed up that I could send to my Senators? If you do my email is surf71@yahoo.com. I would also like to send something to the NRA since I am a life member discussing my disappointment in them.

  44. MichaelG says:

    Okay, I’ll call you defeatist as you have described yourself.
    Not opposing Holder is not going to do any Liberty loving person any favors, so I just don’t see the downside for the NRA.
    Sebastian, perhaps you need to review Waco again? There is little to nothing that the NRA, GOA, & JPFO stands for that Holder does not oppose.

    BTW: that siege weapon analogy earlier: the best bet is to target the people directing the building of them. They are the most valuable and difficult to replace of the opposing force. Then you go for the operators of those engines. The last you want to fight is the soldiers as they scale your walls. III

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