Dealing with the devil

As you probably already know the NRA made a deal with the devil:

On June 14, 2010, Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives
pledged that H.R. 5175 would be amended to exempt groups like the NRA, that meet
certain criteria, from its onerous restrictions on political speech. As a
result, and as long as that remains the case, the NRA will not be involved in
final consideration of the House bill.

The “certain criteria” are:

  1. The organization must have more than 1 million members
  2. The organization must have been in existence for more than 15 years
  3. The organization must have members in all 50 states
  4. The organization must raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations

Some say this set of criteria can be met by only one organization–the NRA.

There are lots of ways to read this and as good as the NRA is at backroom deals and reading the political winds I still wonder if they got this one right.

If you read things from the NRA point of view in the literal sense it comes out something like this:

The NRA is looking out for the best interests of it’s members and the organization. If the proposed law does not apply to the NRA then the NRA has no business spending political capital on it.

If you read things from the point of view of the devil it comes out something like this:

Get what we can now and we’ll get the rest later. Once it passes those poor souls in Hell will scream so loudly about the NRA exemption that we will collect the souls of the NRA on our next pass through town without any difficulty.

In this scenario the devil wins and goes home with our souls. It may have been delayed for a few months or a year, but the devil wins.

If the NRA is good, really good, they can play with the devil and win the game for everyone without even trying. That goes something like this:

The NRA gets it’s exemption then either with or without some back channel urging by the NRA the exemption stirs up such a storm that the entire bill becomes impossibly toxic with or without the exemption.

I know the NRA is good. But are they good enough to take a 1000 yard shot with the proper windage such that the political winds push the bullet into the X-ring once it has left the barrel?

I hope the NRA knows what they are doing because they are playing a game where (mixing my metaphors because there has been a Charlie Daniels earworm of The Devil Went Down to Georgia going on for the last twenty minutes) the devil deals the cards. And it’s more than just a fiddle of gold against a soul at stake.


6 thoughts on “Dealing with the devil

  1. A couple of minor issues: The exemption is for groups that have been around 10 years, and it certainly applies to more than just the NRA. Unfortunately, another group that would qualify is HSUS, but so would the AARP.

    Of course, not many have acknowledged that the first drafts of the amendment tried to pull almost everyone out of the fire – so to speak – because they would have exempted all (c)4s. Unfortunately, the Dem leadership caught that and added the restrictions.

    From what I’m seeing out of other groups, this amendment could very well kill the bill. Here’s what we either know or can safely assume by the actions of this Democratic Congress so far:

    1) They have a history of ramming things down the throats of the American people even when there is 50%+ opposition – even very loud and visible opposition.
    2) They pretty much see the writing on the wall that this is their last stand in the House. They could back off to calm people down before the elections so they have a shot at holding on to power or they could try to get every little thing they can right now while they know they have it.
    3) They wanted this bill, and it’s clearly a priority of the President who broke all standards of reasonable protocol by attacking the Supreme Court justices who attended his SOTU. Therefore, fact # 1 becomes more relevant to anyone working on this issue.
    4) NRA could make sure their members were taken of in the event they do ram this through Congress. It may only hold off the fight for another day, but come January, we’ll at least have a friendlier House – even if we don’t take full control of it back. In two more years, we may have a friendly White House & Congress to gut this thing.
    5) The side benefit to this kind of exemption is the added attention that could kill the bill in all forms. The outrage is there from the left. But, looking back at # 1, NRA donors are still safe for now. It’s just a matter of whether Pelosi, Schumer & Obama are so confident to stick their tongues out at the left and yell, “What are you going to do, vote Republican? Just take it with a smile and vote for us again in November.” Based on the “hell no” Van Hollen gave to any union exemption last night, I tend to think they’re going to try and ram it down everyone’s throats even over the objections of their base.

    This is sausage-making at its worst. It is never pretty, but the irony is that most of the people screaming bloody murder aren’t even remotely in danger of being outed. They don’t give at the levels required for disclosure. If it did apply to NRA, depending on how they opted to move forward in structuring the funding operations for their campaign activities and how we divided up our giving for a given year, we might qualify. I would say that’s not fun, but we’re already pretty damn public about our support. Sebastian has a bumper sticker for life membership on his car (I misplaced his endowment sticker), and we’re both listed as volunteers for their political activities on their website. Even so, we’re adamantly opposed to the bill, we’re just not blaming NRA for something the Democrats are doing to the American people.

  2. Joe,

    I detest the sausage-making crap that is going on right now in DC. The hubris being shown by the Dems in their zeal to silence their critics is breathtaking.

    So the NRA got themselves a carve-out on an unconstitutional “do-over” of McCain-Feingold? Bully for them. If the NRA was willing to risk that deal and STILL score the vote after getting theirs, I would be happier.

    As John Ross pointed out in Unintended Consequences, the politicians who are anti-gun are in most cases Anti-Rights. Their willingness to infringe upon the citizens rights in the quest to aggrandize more power unto themselves will not be appeased for long. As you point out in your second scenario, it is only a matter of time before they come back to us.

  3. My metaphor was chess. You cannot be a ‘single issue’ chess player who only focuses on the Knight. And in this case, it appears the NRA has sacrificed the Queen, the bishops, and a couple of pawns in hopes that their skill with the knight will help them protect the King.

    I understand what they did and can even see why (everyone looks after their own self interest, always), but I disagree with the move and have reservations about the entire organization because of it.

  4. In Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell makes it clear that when a corporation sees threats to its market share on the horizon in the form of competitors, it will often look to the government to protect that market share through regulation. Example, the large meat packing houses of the 20s and 30s being pro-regulation because they knew that the smaller packing houses could not afford to upgrade into compliance and stay in business.

    To me, the NRA is a “single issue” organization, it’s just that I see their single issue as being the NRA rather than the Second Amendment.

  5. I have only been an NRA member for about 5 years, since I began actively shooting and realized the threat to the Bill of Rights posed by the political careerists and royalty in Sodom on the Potomac.

    I was strongly considering a lifetime membership, and the form sat on my desk until this afternoon, when I heard this because of Lars Larsons show.

    I will not send another dime to the NRA, and I will send everything possible to those ACTUALLY struggling to protect our rights. The NRA angered me years ago with some of their stances, but I saw them begin to make sense over the past 5 or 6 years, and thought it was safe to join. I was wrong.

    The Second Amendment cannot be protected without the First, or vice versa.

    The NRA should be ashamed of themselves, I know I am.

  6. Such is the nature of politcal economies. It becomes hard to distinguish between pragmatism, enlightened self-interest, and rent seeking.

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