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More From the Ack-Mac Complaint

I’ve been going through the amended complaint as I have time, and a few things stand out. For one, it seems that there is great effort for pinning all the wrongs in Wayne. It looks to me, reading between the lines, that Wayne got along with Angus McQueen, but maybe didn’t get along so well with his son Revan, who took over the business.

I’m intrigued by this accusation:

LaPierre also structured certain “back-scratching” relationships to siphon money to pet projects that the NRA would otherwise be prohibited from financially supporting. Upon information and belief, the NRA makes improper expenditures to directly support Youth for Tomorrow, by making charitable contributions to a third-party charity that in turn donates the money to Youth for Tomorrow, an organization for which Susan LaPierre acted as President.

But even more by this one:

Brewer’s relationship with Angus was toxic from the outset. . For over 20 years, Brewer has had a strained relationship with Angus and a resentful, disrespectful attitude toward him and other McQueen family members. In fact, his personal history of animosity with the McQueen family, his anti-gun political sentiments, and his parade of prior ethical violations raised numerous eyebrows among NRA officials. Brewer was often disrespectful to the McQueen family, voicing frequent professional criticisms about AMc, slow-paying for the services his law firm received from AMc, and vocalizing his disdain for AMc’s relationship with the NRA due to his own political sentiments against Second Amendment rights. Indeed, Brewer has had 20 years, as a family member and AMc client, gaining key insight into AMc’s business strategy and the personal lives of the McQueen family. In that role, and as a McQueen family member, he apparently saw something that he coveted: the prestigious public-relations work that AMc provided to the NRA.

Keep in mind who the source is here, but if there’s any merit to this accusation at all by AMc, we’re in a lot of trouble. A LOT. Bitter and I have speculated whether Wayne might honestly be losing it. He’s at an age where mental decline is not out of the question.

The Continuing Daytime Soap Opera

John Richardson notes and amended complaint by Ack-Mac in their suit with NRA. What a mess this whole thing is. And John is right. We’ll be the ones paying the price. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my involvement with non-profit management, the following things are priorities, in order:

  1. Keep grifters away from money. Or for smaller organizations, don’t let financially distressed people assume positions of power if you can possibly help it. NRA is big enough, the pot is going to be temping for even a well-to-do grifter. For smaller outfits, you can help things by trying to promote people who have enough money that the smaller outfit’s funds aren’t enticing enough to be worth the trouble.
  2. Be wary of narcissistic assholes. Often they are hard workers and quite talented. But they are never worth the bullshit they are going to bring to the table.
  3. Cultivate a competent management team who will take projects and own them, and who you can count on to do things right. This is probably the hardest part, but it’s superseded by the other two. Don’t accept grifters and narcissists, even though they might help you. Honest hard workers are worth their weight in gold. That goes double if you’re not paying them.
  4. Everybody has an agenda. Know what agenda the people who are close to you really have. Be clear about your goals too.

Which of these things has Wayne and the NRA Board done right? How many violate all three of these “rules?”

From the Internets

From a comment on social media:

You know, it would probably help put a lid on all this Q-Anon bullshit if our social betters could do everyone a favor and actually stop touching kids.

I’d say I couldn’t agree more, but I can, since it’s my comment. I’m sure once they let our sniffer-in-chief back out among the people, it’s not going to get any better.

This is an Awful Idea

I’m reasonably OK with the NRA reincorporating in Texas, but I think “Certain executives are relocating to Texas, and will use this office space in connection with the NRA establishing a principal place of business in the state” will be a disaster for NRA. It would be a disaster for any organization. Ask Boeing how well having their executives far away from the people who do the work has worked out for them?

NRA has to stay in the DC area. If they are worried about Virginia’s gun laws, look at West Virginia, parts of which are turning into suburbs for long-haul commuters to DC. At least then they won’t be too far from where the worker bees need to be.

I think NRA is looking at Texas because that’s where Wayne wants to be (or maybe at least where Mrs. Wayne wants to be), and instead of just retiring like a normal person in his 70s, he’s going to drag the whole organization along with him.

A Brief History of Wayne

I am not an expert on NRA history, but I’ve read a lot and talked to people who have been around for most of the history of the modern (post 1977) NRA.

Wayne succeeded Warren Cassidy, who I understand cost NRA significant sums in settled sexual harassment lawsuits, and was generally not well liked. Wayne was selected because he was boring, and not the type anyone figured would cause that kind of trouble for The Association. As best I can tell, Wayne is not a womanizer. While there’s accusations flying around about other top NRA folks, I think they made a good choice if they didn’t want a repeat of Cassidy.

However, Wayne was not without controversy, and he pretty immediately saw challenges from hard liners. Many of the accusations leveled against Wayne by that coalition weren’t always wrong. I don’t know too many people who would argue they didn’t have a lot of points. That pretty much set up the struggle in the NRA that would continue through to the early 2000s, between the pragmatic wing of the NRA and the hard liners.

Wayne was basically a policy nerd. He was not a charming figure. So he needed help, which came from Ackerman McQueen. The Wayne LaPierre everyone knows today was largely their creation. It was Ack-Mac who helped Wayne cultivate his public image and establish himself.

I don’t know whether Wayne could have survived all these years if it wasn’t for the widely held view that the alternative was the hard liners. Many NRA folks, myself included, viewed that a hard-line takeover of the NRA would result in the organization’s political irrelevance. You don’t always get a choice between winning and losing. Sometimes the choice is whether you get lube or not.

I don’t think Wayne has ever been an ideal leader, and he’s long past his expiration date. The financial malfeasance seems a lot worse than I realized, and I think many realized. We knew the relationship with Ack-Mac had become toxic. But I think everyone figured Wayne would retire and Chris Cox would move into the EVP role, and there would be some needed change. That’s not what happened, and NRA is now in heap big trouble.

The one thing I’d warn our opponents of is that NRA’s members haven’t disappeared. We are still out here and paying attention, and figuring out how to organize around this mess, and around the networks of censorship now established via unfriendly tech monopolies. NRA’s political power didn’t come from Wayne, or the NRA Board. It came from us, and you still have to get past us.

More on NRA’s Bankruptcy

John Richardson has the details. I no longer have the time to get as far into the weeds as John is going, so he’s been a great resource in all this. Additionally, my contacts in the NRA were all pushed out during Wayne’s purge of Chris Cox and his circle. So I have no real insight as to what’s going on anymore.

I don’t know who the “good guys” are, or if there even are any in this awful mess. I don’t write much about it because to be honest, it all makes me sick to my stomach.

John notes:

I have always held that this bankruptcy filing was a gamble. Wayne and Brewer are too clever by half and I think the result will not be to their liking.

I think they had a choice between awful and even more awful, from their perspective, so they chose awful. I’m not sure Wayne, or NRA, is getting out of this easy.

Wayne’s been past his shelf life for some time, and in my opinion out of his league. It’s always seemed to me that he needed someone to tell him what to do, and that went from being Angus McQueen to to Bill Brewer.

I keep going back to this: they knew exactly where to hit us.

Short Squeeze

I have to admit, this is one of the more brazen acts of rebellion against the establishment I’ve seen in some time. They nearly bankrupted a hedge fund, and I’m not honestly sure this is over yet. The reaction is telling. Everything is fine when we manipulate the market, but if you proles do it, we’ll have investigations and demand the rules of the game be changed.

It looks like the hedge funds have been doing what I understand is called “naked shorting,” meaning shorting shares that you don’t actually own and may not even exist. The practice is illegal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, as long as the right people were making enough money.

I am far from any kind of expert in finance, so this stuff both fascinates and confuses me. I know someone who trades, and have had him try to explain it all to me, and I keep coming back to: “How is this different than gambling?”

Why I Scaled Down Blogging

There’s a lot of reasons you don’t see my old posting volume, and overall it just comes down to the fact that I believe my energy is better spent on other endeavors these days. To some degree we are beyond talk: beyond hearts and minds. This current political environment is a struggle of zealots, and I’ve never been very good at being a zealot. I’m not in the mood as much to talk 2A politics because I feel that issue is now adrift, and its fortunes tied to the greater realignment that’s happening. 2A rights are a component of that, but won’t decide the whole thing. Plus, whether the righties here want to acknowledge it, there’s a decent amount of support for gun rights on the far left. The gun control movement is almost entirely funded and lead by our modern nobility, with some support from what in Marxist theory would be Bourgeoisie.

Anyways, back to one of my reasons for scaling back. I know our political opposition read gun blogs, especially back in the day when we had more influence. One day I was speaking with someone on the front lines, who did the difficult work of influencing lawmakers and opposing these people on a regular basis. He told me something that went like: “You know, you bloggers are too smart for your own good. We’ve had a great asset that the people I go up against don’t really understand our issue very well. But they are getting a lot better, and I think it’s because you guys are telling them everything they need to know.”

That really hit me when the shit started to hit the fan with Tish James.

While I was always careful not to air inside baseball publicly, I can’t help but think a lot of useful information about the gun rights movement emanated from this blog that was quite useful to our political opposition. I honestly never worried about it when blogs were a bigger thing: the Brady team were honestly over a rope and couldn’t do much. And they knew that. CSGV was a clown show. They were zealots who let their own zealotry get in the way of learning and winning.

Bloomberg’s people were entirely different. Bloomberg’s people are very interested in learning and winning. I’m not talking about the front people like Shannon Watts. She’s more in line with what you see coming out of the gun control movement traditionally. I would not be surprised to find they view her as a liability, but sometimes in any movement you’re stuck with troublesome allies.

Bloomberg’s behind the scenes people weren’t and aren’t fucking around. And it’s hard to have public discussions about our movement, and correcting our movement, that won’t be useful to the opposition. I keep going back to that lobbyist’s statement in my head, over and over, because I know it was true. We helped them get better. And there’s no equivalent of that kind of intel source on our side because the gun control movement is organized very differently.

That’s why I’m thinking we need to go back to basics, and figure out effective ways to communicate that aren’t necessarily broadcasting to everyone who cares to look. Not that I don’t think blogs and their place, or have no place now, but we need to figure out that balance between what we share publicly, and what we keep in our circles. That’s what I need to figure out.

News You Can Use

Getting off of big tech e-mail. I set up my club as a G-suite customer when Google was a good bit less evil than it is now. While I’ve integrated a lot of our processes in with it, but I wasn’t so foolish as to strongly couple things. Switching wouldn’t be a breeze, but I could do it.

But I do have to admit that Google is very good at doing e-mail. The primary issue with e-mail is spam filtering. Without effective spam filtering, e-mail these days is useless.

I could use Office365 for most everything else. Hell, I could use Outlook 365 with exchange. If you had told me Microsoft would be the less evil tech behemoth 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are.

I can easily integrate with anything that does Active Directory. Distribution lists are done in AD with PowerShell, then synced to Google. I can easily just sync to something else. So I may look into that. I’d love to be off Google. Hell, I’d like to be on our own systems, really.

Even though my career is now all about the cloud, I don’t actually believe in it. We’re losing a lot of robustness going to cloud-based systems, and in truth if your company is dependent on AWS, your investors don’t own your company: Jeff Bezos does.

I now would like to try a containerized company infrastructure that runs exclusively on an array of Raspberry Pis. Bandwidth is becoming ubiquitous. While I can appreciate Amazon’s Multi-AZ features, which is quite expensive to do with your own data center, I feel like as bandwidth becomes more commoditized, competition might get easier.

It Was Radical for Its Time. Probably Still Radical Even in Ours

Increasingly, Americans are rejecting America. Including this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Instead, we’re moving quickly to another foundational ideal, by another author:

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others

Or to put it another way, the idea was that if we helped the China get rich, its single-party state would adopt our liberal values. But that’s not what’s happening. We’re adopting their illiberal values.

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