THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 768, April 27, 2014
Get a rope.
Dangerous Dollars—Bloomberg's $50M Surge
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
What explains a billionaires' bizarre behavior? With so much money, you would think they could buy some sanity for themselves. Sadly, no.
This time we are talking about billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the soda-pop-banning former mayor of New York and the self-appointed head of the new American gun control moment. This past week Bloomberg announced he is spending at least 50 million bucks to enact more useless gun control laws and elect anti-gun-owner politicians. This is oddly similar to the antics of another billionaire, George Soros, who once said he would spend all of his fortune to buy a presidential election. When you have megabucks, you can often buy whatever you want, from yachts to politicians. But can Bloomberg buy the Second Amendment?
Megalomaniac big-bucks Bloomberg went so far as to designate himself a saint, saying "I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close."
Oh boy! How a mortal ex-mayor can change divine procedure remains a theological mystery. But Bloomberg's meddling in your personal life is the reason he mistakenly thinks Saint Peter will let him in the Pearly Gates' VIP line and across the velvet ropes with no waiting (on the other hand, perhaps Satan has a different express lane for know-it-all intermeddlers).
More troubling than buying divine indulgences is that Bloomberg seems to believe he can buy the will of the American people.
Let him try. So far Bloomberg, Soros, and the other big money machine behind the gun ban lobby are batting close to zero. The Colorado calamity—where Bloomberg and his buddies out-spent gun rights activists by a 7-to-1 margin—shows how effective Bloomberg's money is at buying votes. It was Bloomberg's bizarreness that may have caused his loss according to the New York Times, which said that Bloomberg "seemed unwilling to acknowledge, the ways in which his own persona—of a billionaire, Big Gulp-banning former mayor of New York—could undercut his efforts ..."
What? You mean some folks are turned off by a megalomaniac narcissist hypocrite who knows what's best for you and won't hesitate to jam it down your throat? But he's a saint? Who are we doubt lying ass-holiness?
Perhaps Bloomberg's hubris works to our advantage and we should let him run wild. Maybe we can drain Michael's bank account ... one campaign at a time.
On second thought, even if we could, let's hope we don't have to.
AstroTurf, or Real Turf?
Bloomberg has already failed a couple of times in his attempts to create grassroots organizations operating under his thumb. Mayors Against Illegal Guns (which proved to be more like Illegal Mayors Against Guns given how many have been charged and convicted of various felonies) made no real headway. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense was an AstroTurf (i.e. fake grassroots) project that fooled nobody. Now Bloomberg has merged these together into a new brand: Everytown for Gun Safety. It's one of his sloppier branding efforts, but with his pledge of at least $50 million and a net worth of $33 billion, Bloomberg could keep this train wreck rolling down the gun-ban tracks for quite a while (he did, after all, blow about $600 million lobbying against tobacco use).
Bloomberg's primary objective is to create—basically out of thin air—a grassroots organization to rival the 5 million member NRA. But like the claimed 1.5 million "members" of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the thousands at the "Million" Mom March campaign that collapsed during gun control's last hurrah, anti-gun groups' boasts of large "memberships" are massively inflated and largely fictitious (I signed-up for all these organizations in order to get their emails, and was counted as a "member").
Bloomberg seemingly fails to grasp the big difference between gun control issue voyers paying no dues and gun rights activists. Email subscribers can be mere peeping-toms into the gun control debate. Second Amendment activists are real people who put time and money into supporting what they treasure, the freedom to choose to own a gun. NRA members are passionate about freedom. They pony-up their annual dues and make periodic additional donations to protect their right to choose. And they vote. When there is a call to action, millions of highly invested, motivated people answer, and they will answer to Bloomberg's newest attack on their beliefs.
Will Bloomberg's readers/subscribers do the same? Doubtful. Bloomberg bankrolls list building technology, email address-grabbing web sites, and PR masters who crank out polished press releases crafted to conform with the manipulative PR principles laid out in the gun ban lobby PR bible, the now infamous Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging. Fifty million bucks might get him some traction in the new media grassroots mobilization game, but the commitment and stamina of those techno-recruits to the gun ban cause will never match that of an NRA member, especially one holding a grudge against Bloomberg for endangering their lives and trying to limit their lifestyle choices.
Odd claims with no basis
Part of good propaganda involves getting people to believe your story. Over the years the gun control movement's stories have been exposed as inaccurate or outright fraudulent. This is one reason American's fell out of love with the idea of gun control, aside from the anecdotally obvious fact it didn't work. People dislike being lied to. And gun control advocates, not having the facts on their side, tell very pretty lies about gun laws making us safer. But, the reality is that Americans abandoned gun control in droves while registering for concealed carry permits by the millions. This is the real story: the NRA's five million member numbers pale in comparison to the estimated 11 million people licensed to carry a gun in public, and Lord knows how many tens of millions of gun owners.
However, Bloomberg has learned the liar's lesson well. The slick new Everytown web site makes many startling claims, tellingly all without attribution! No mention of their source data, much less how the data was analyzed to reach the proclaimed conclusions.
Foremost, Bloomberg needs to be called to the carpet on his lack of citations for his oddball claims. Any reasonable person, and even some mainstream reporters, should be skeptical of stats that cannot be validated. To hide the source of data is instantly suspicious unless one is predisposed to the cause behind the claim. Your first job is to challenge the lack of transparency Bloomberg has engineered.
We know Bloomberg is not beyond engineering hoaxes. He often claims NRA members favor expanded background checks. But when you examine the survey that is the source for the claim the actual question read something like "Are you or someone in your home an NRA member." Imagine the radical leftist college kid of the far right homeowner truthfully answering the survey, both admitting to NRA family members and agreeing with gun control (and given how Mayors Against Illegal Guns once allegedly surveyed from Democrat donor lists, you can see how their survey skewing begins).
Nonetheless, it's a deceptive and dangerous mix. Bloomberg is combining unverifiable claims into slick, sharable infographics (contrast to the actually verifiable and source-sited infographics over at the Gun Facts web site). So Bloomberg's canned talking points will be picked-up by people with prejudices against guns, and pasted into lots of social news media outlets. With the site designed to grab email addresses, Bloomberg can at least use his list to orchestrate mass-scale misinformation campaigns to manipulate and distort public opinion.
Goals, and Willing Myopia
More interesting is the paring of Bloomberg's stated legislative goals with his myopia to the statistical realities. That he'll inflict his limited vision on other people is the danger.
Bloomberg wants background checks on all private gun sales (and his elected allies want to make the process as onerous, inefficient, error-prone, costly and invasive as possible). But the Bureau of Justice Statistics tells us that 40% of crime guns come from black market trading, conducted by people who ignore all laws. Can you imagine a fellow who sells stolen guns to inner-city gangsters out of the trunk of his car saying "We'll let's run a NICS check on you first."?
Another 40% of crime guns come from "acquaintance" sales, which can be between drug dealers, paroled thugs or willing girlfriends committing straw man purchases. So anywhere between 40-80% of crime guns will be traded by people who have no intention of running a background check.
Bloomberg will also campaign for "gun safety". Yet the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that their decades-long safety campaigns have been one of the driving forces in America's 70% drop in accidental firearm deaths since 1981. Their campaigns include:
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