Tennessee Centennial Exposition, Nashville, Tennessee, 1897. “Opens May 1st. Closes Oct. 31st.” This bird’s-eye-view was originally printed by The Henderson Litho. Co., Cincinnati. It is not to scale. Sorry about the center line, that is from a break/fold in the original. The exposition was actually a year late, 101 years after Tennessee’s admission to the union.
The Champions of the Mississippi, Published by Currier & Ives, c1866. Original art by Fanny Palmer.
The WaPo has a lengthy piece on how the NRA started out as a way to improve marksmanship and was also involved in hunting and conservation advocacy. A pretty mainstream organization that would let its opinion be known but were not the intimidating lobbyists, blackmailers and extremists that the organization is today. How NRA’s true believers converted a marksmanship group into a mighty gun lobby
They are absolutist in their interpretation of the Second Amendment. The NRA learned that controversy isn’t a problem but rather, in many cases, a solution, a motivator, a recruitment tool, an inspiration.
Gun-control legislation is the NRA’s best friend: The organization claims an influx of 100,000 new members in recent weeks in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. The NRA, already with about 4 million members, hopes that the new push by Democrats in the White House and Congress to curb gun violence will bring the membership to 5 million.
The fact that mass murders is followed by a national conversation about some kind of control increases NRA membership is not particularly surprising. The NRA has and does cultivate paranoia. Many of its members also buy into survivalist mentalities, much like Newtown murderer Adam Lanza’s mother, who stock piled guns in quantification of the collapse of society. The personal psychology of firearms as fetish, as all-powerful protector and as symbol of freedom is part of this phenomenon: Why Do People Believe Stupid Stuff, Even When They’re Confronted With the Truth? The “backfire effect” helps explain how strange, ancient and kooky beliefs resist science, reason and reportage. When this guy decided that he would start murdering people if someone placed even the mildest restrictions on his ownership of firearms, no interpretative skills required. His guns meant more to him than the sanctity of human life. It is no coincidence that there is overlap between the gun fetishists, the Birthers, the people who see an apocalypse around every corner and those who believe in UN conspiracy theories about U.S. sovereignty. While the NRA has a well organized political machine they are not invincible. Americans own around 270 million guns, 88.8 per hundred people. There are far more moderate minded gun owners than the entire membership of the NRA. 76% of American support some gun restrictions, while only 10% support zero restrictions on gun ownership.
LaPierre received $960,000 in compensation from the NRA and related organizations, according to the 2010 documents. Kayne B. Robinson, executive director of general operations, was paid more than $1 million. Chris Cox, head of the ILA, made $666,000. NRA President David Keene, a longtime conservative activist who was elected in 2011, is unpaid.
When it pays well to be a fanatic there is no incentive to stop being one. This is an on going issue with the radical Right. The NRA whips up fears about gun laws of any type equaling tyranny is just a subset of issues related to conservative paranoia that is easily exploited, The conservative movement is still an elaborate moneymaking venture. The story of FreedomWorks’ big Glenn Beck payout encapsulates the right-wing media
FreedomWorks, which is funded primarily by very rich people, solicits donations from non-rich conservative people. More than 80,000 people donated money to FreedomWorks in 2012, and it seems likely that only a small minority of those people were hedge fund millionaires. And what are people who donate to this grass-roots conservative organization funded mostly by a few very rich people getting for their hard-earned money? In addition to paying Dick Armey $400,000 a year for 20 years to stay away, FreedomWorks also apparently spent more than a million dollars paying Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to say nice things about FreedomWorks, in order to convince listeners to send FreedomWorks money that FreedomWorks would then give to Limbaugh and Beck. It’s a pretty simple con. Beck, meanwhile, also has a subscriber-based media operation, in which people pay his company money for access to programs where Beck expresses opinions that he was paid to hold. He also spent years telling everyone to buy gold from a company that pays him and defrauds consumers.
As Armey admitted to Media Matters, FreedomWorks at this point essentially raises money for the sake of raising money. It exists to bilk “activists.”
There are several reason that the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson became a millionaire. One of them is the constant appeal for donations to fight against women having autonomy over their own bodies – an alleged threat to “values” . If that should go away as an issue, like Beck and Limbaugh, he will have to create new conspiracy theories to drive donations. While the moderate side of the political spectrum raises money, we’re reliant on actual issues, fact based infringements on personal freedom, documented abuse of the environment and the medical consequences. Making it a law that a semi-automatic cannot have a magazine larger than 7 or 8 is hardly the great big bogie man of tyranny. Creating a health care model based on one created by the conservative Heritage Foundation is hardly the slippery slope to Marxism.
“They were not willing to accept what police chiefs who deal with shooting and firearms every day were saying,” Wexler says. “It was like, we don’t really care what you’re saying because this is what we think. The NRA has a preconceived idea about what should be done. And that is nothing.”
The NRA has drawn an absolute line about guns rights. They feel that there cannot be enough rights per their extreme interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. yet they have proposed restricting 1st Amendment rights such as free speech, freedom of expression and the freedom to petition. So they are not in anyway strict constitutionalists, they just zealots about one freedom which they claim they need to keep the others, which they are willing to shred. If the only right we have left is to own an urban assault weapon that would make as like Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
Charles Blow also takes a look at the sociology of gun zealotry. Revolutionary Language
Andrew P. Napolitano, a Fox News analyst, said in a video posted Thursday on the network’s GretaWire blog: “Here’s the dirty little secret about the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment was not written in order to protect your right to shoot deer, it was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants if they take over the government. How about chewing on that one.”
He went even further in a piece in The Washington Times, saying that the Second Amendment “protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”
Who are Napolitano’s tyrants here? Is this government takeover theoretical, imminent, in progress or a fait accompli?
Ward went so far as to say on CNN: “I believe that Gun Appreciation Day honors the legacy of Dr. King.” He continued: “The truth is, I think Martin Luther King would agree with me if he were alive today that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from Day 1 of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history. And I believe wholeheartedly that it’s essential to liberty.”
Set aside, if you can, what would most likely be King’s horror at the association, and look at that language. Pay particular attention to the suggestion that guns are an essential guard against slavery’s resurgence in this country. And who would be the slaves and who the enslavers?
As the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a Spring 2012 report, the number of so-called patriot groups surged after Barack Obama was first elected president.
“The swelling of the Patriot movement since that time has been astounding,” the report said. “From 149 groups in 2008, the number of Patriot organizations skyrocketed to 512 in 2009, shot up again in 2010 to 824, and then, last year, jumped to 1,274.”
(According to the center, “Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the ‘New World Order,’ engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines.”)
The center also points out: “Fears of impending gun control or weapons confiscations, either by the government or international agencies, also run rampant in antigovernment circles. As a result, many antigovernment activists believe that being well armed is a must. The militia movement engages in paramilitary training aimed at protecting citizens from this feared impending government crackdown.”
These are the same people – anti-government, because govmint equals tyranny – that want to put an armed government agent everywhere to prevent the next mass murder. These same people – their great grand children at this point have been worked up over the UN taking over the world almost since the original League of Nations. Its like the Mayan apocalypse that was supposed to happen every year and never does.
Here they are:
1) Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending.
2) For Congress to “decide whether” to raise the debt ceiling, for programs and tax rates it has already voted into law, makes exactly as much sense as it would for a family to “decide whether” to pay a credit-card bill for goods it has already bought.
While they do help simplify all the media noise about the debt ceiling, let’s remember that Republicans in Congress already know these simple facts. And they relish the prospect of a meltdown. With changing demographics favoring Democrats, conservatives know their goal of destroying the New Deal and Great Society is soon to be buried with the old musket balls. Like the prospect of sensible gun safety regulation, that prospect just makes them foam at the mouth a little more than usual.