“Secrecy, Self-Dealing, and Greed at the (fill in the blank here).” Feeling Almost Sorry for the NRA.

Sharing this summary (below) from Axios and looking forward to reading the actual New Yorker piece on actual paper when it arrives in the actual mail (quaint I know).

It leaves me genuinely sorry for the ordinary people still bankrolling the NRA.  A zillion years ago, there were reasonable NRA supporters out there.  Some have stepped off the crazy train.  But how many have been taken along for a ride ending somewhere their 15-years-ago self would hardly recognize (or approve of)?

But this isn’t just the NRA.  So many other institutions have trod the same path into self-dealing malignity.  This sort of rot has set in equally across Right and Left, Labor and Capital, or most any such divide.  So much of what people see as a “deep state” conspiracy is much less organized and much more banal.  It is just deeply greedy people doing what gets them paid.  Consequences be hanged.

  • Private equity taking down so many retailers.  Amazon gets the blame, but its mostly asset stripping.  Load up the debt and extract dividends until it bleeds to death from lack of staffing and inventory.  Sears.  Toys’R Us.  Payless Shoes.  Etc…
  • Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  Social media is more effective, but political consultants don’t get paid a percentage on it.  TV ads aren’t doing squat, but an anointed insider group DOES get paid via side-deals.  Where would you guess Hillary’s spend went?  Into a (very profitable for some) rathole.
  • Facebook and (increasingly) Google.  Creeping after that next dollar across the line between “invasive” and “creepy” and heading inexorably towards “just plain evil.”  Facebook is at least sort’ve transparent about it.  Google is still clinging to the shreds of its own “don’t be evil” self-delusion.  And Apple only seems less evil because they are making a virtue out of failure (to monetize our attention as effectively).
  • Fox News going from “biased media” to “Shameless Party Propaganda Organ.”
  • For-profit education (predatory but well marketed) displacing community colleges (helpful, but not so marketing savvy).
  • Private prison companies seeking to expand into immigrant detention prisons facilities by hyping up anti-immigration sentiment.
  • Insert your favorite example (Left or Right) here…

Working your way back in time, I find myself stopping somewhere in the Gordon Gekko “greed is good” ethos of the late 80’s and early 90’s.  The boomers were young, wearing those yellow ties with the dots on them, drinking Amstel, and doing deals.  Today, they are reaping what they sowed.  As are all the rest of us.  Sigh.


8. “Secrecy, Self-Dealing, and Greed at the N.R.A.”
“The N.R.A. is now mainly a media company, promoting a life style built around loving guns and hating anyone who might take them away,” writes Mike Spies in a deep dive for The New Yorker.

  • Spokesperson Dana Loesch and activist Colion Noir are the organization’s most famous faces, but they “are not technically employed by the N.R.A. Instead, they are paid by Ackerman McQueen, a public-relations firm based in Oklahoma.”
  • “For more than three decades, Ackerman has shaped the N.R.A.’s public identity, helping to build it from a niche activist organization into a ubiquitous presence in American popular culture.”

Why it matters: This relationship seems “to be largely responsible for the N.R.A.’s dire financial state. … [A] small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and vendors has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals, and opaque financial arrangements.”

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