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.

Is Social Media Creating Mass Delusions?

I’d like to think I’m pretty grounded, but the pandemic has honestly opened my eyes to a number of realities that have made me deeply uncomfortable. It’s been eye opening. The first is that a lot of people I’ve had considerable respect for struggle with reality as times get more difficult. This probably goes double when the pandemic has limited in-person interactions. I’ve been fairly present at my club during all this, at some risk to myself, but even life there has been seriously hampered by the inability to meet and gather in person. Work life, which is a lot of people’s only interaction, is also suffering. I’ve noticed that extroverts are suffering considerably more than introverts. Someone at my club commented at the beginning of all this, when I asked him how he was doing: “Great! I’ve waiting all my life for social distancing.” I might not be quite that stoic, but I’m faring better than most, from what I can tell. But with many people around me going stark raving mad, I can’t be completely sure. I’m probably not the best judge of myself.

This article struck me, because it touches on mass delusion. Bitter and I were discussing over dinner whether we’ve gotten a brief taste of what the world would be like if all anyone had was social media. Every other national institution we’ve relied on for years are in a holding pattern. Still there, but not moving forward.

… I’ve been saying for years in this space that the Woke Left is awakening demons that it cannot control. If you are on the Left, and you can’t see this, then you are as deluded as the QAnon crackpots who live in their own reality.

This fits what I see. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for rational voices to be heard, as our nobility enable absolute madness, on both sides of the aisle, exploiting the madness in order to remain in power by stretching the post-WWII order to its breaking point. Division pays, if you want power, and disarmament is hard when no one is talking to each other. It’s easier to whip up hate among the crazies than to try to find a new center.

Coverage of NRA’s Bankruptcy

John Richardson has excellent coverage, starting here with the opinion of an expert in bankruptcy law. Head over to John’s site and keep scrolling.

I’m starting to wonder if the only goal of Brewer’s law firm is just to keep adding more and more complexity to NRA’s lawsuits so as to extract more and more fees. Because I haven’t been able to see the sense in this strategy. I am not an expert, by any means, in bankruptcy law. In fact, I know next to nothing about it. But given we now have an opinion from someone who does, I’m now really wondering what Brewer’s strategy is here. Maybe it’s a Hail Mary. Who knows. But either way, I think things are a lot worse than we’ve been lead to believe.

I’m actually wondering if we might see a split in the NRA… NRA North and NRA South? With NRA North being the pieces of the original NRA that have been picked up by others, and NRA South being Wayne and Bill, Inc?

I am fairly certain Tish James isn’t just going to let NRA transfer everything to Texas without a flight, and it’s hard for me to see how this is going to improve NRA’s position, let alone give them trump card over James.

These are definitely the crazy years.

Sameness and Flatness

I came across this article on Friday that spoke of flatness being an overriding value of Silicon Valley.

Because this cohort insists on sameness and purity, they have turned the once-independent parts of the American cultural complex into a mutually validating pipeline for conformists with approved viewpoints—who then credential, promote and marry each other. 

If the introduction sounds like quackery to you, I think it is, but this is one of the better written examples I’ve read about the complaints of the deplorables. Wretchard the Cat has more today.

Today, as Rana Dasgupta argues in Harper’s, the Western middle class including those with gender studies and critical theory degrees — especially them — are the new unemployables, made redundant by cheap Chinese and robotic labor. The only way to make the destitute Woke feel good about themselves is to let them look down on the Deplorables.

One reason I’m reducing my presence on Facebook is that it promotes a weak thinking and discourages real discussion. The correct cultural understanding of social media is that it is a dinner table: meaning politics is not something to be discussed. It’s always kind of been boorish behavior in ideological mixed company to assume everyone else wants to hear the (usually) dumb shit going through your head. But there it all is on Twitter and Facebook. I quit Twitter years ago and did not miss it. Twitter is a toxic witches brew, and the sooner we purge it from the earth the better off humanity will be. I felt it was turning me into an awful, shallow person.

I am soon to largely quit Facebook (except for pages I manage, including this one). The only thing that’s kept me on there is that it’s a great way to keep in touch with family and distant old friends. But not really. My experience on Facebook is that people on the left will spew their politics to you on a regular basis, as if no one should disagree, then berate you if you dare to argue. I’ve even had family do this!

No one wants to think about anything. Everything is simple, black and white, one-dimensional sameness. People on the right have been quiet for a while if they were thoughtful. It’s largely the clueless boomers on the right that keep sharing shitty memes all day and spewing vapid political nonsense. The primary difference between the left and right on Facebook is on the left, it’s the educated who are spewing vapid political nonsense.

If we’re to come to a new political consensus, it will take serious discussion and honestly. But Facebook is no place to have that conversation. But neither will moving to platforms like Gab and Parler going to help either.

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