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Unmasking the perp
July 30, 2008 11:10 AM   Subscribe

There's something about Mary. Sarasota, Florida, resident Mary McFate was a prominent gun control activist, active in anti-gun groups around the country. Mary Lou Sapone was a freelance spy with an NRA connection. They are the same person.
posted by parmanparman (59 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sounds like she was made for politics.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2008


I wonder what massive, hidden damage she was doing that more than made up for the apparently-positive stuff.
posted by DU at 11:23 AM on July 30, 2008


The McFate operation, says Miller, "would confirm for me the way that the gun lobby works, which is no rules, no question of fairness or honesty. Anything that they can do they will do to protect the profits of the gun industry."
I'd just sort of assume that going in, you know?
posted by Shepherd at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2008


Before we all jump in and cry foul, realize that the reverse happens, too -- that gun-control advocates and pro- and anti-whatever advocates "infiltrate" the NRA and other organizations all the time.

I all for gun control. I just hate hysteria.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:37 AM on July 30, 2008


I'm no more a fan of far-left fanatics like PETA or Code Pink than I am of the NRA, but if a member of either group was caught infiltrating the McDonald's corporate office or a military contractor, respectively, they'd be accused of terrorism or at the very least calls for their imprisonment would be raised by pretty much ever pundit and politician to the right of Russ Feingold.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:38 AM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


...confirm for me the way that the gun lobby works...

The fact that she's a freelance, not a gun issue specific spy, seems to me to indicate a larger conclusion.
posted by DU at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2008


...realize that the reverse happens...

whew! For a second I thought the fragile and vulnerable NRA would not have a firm voice to stand up for them on the basis of no evidence of any kind whatsoever.
posted by DU at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of amazed that the NRA takes the gun-control movement seriously enough to even bother doing this. The NRA seems to own the politicians and the judges--why the hell do they care what issue the opposition is planning to frustrate themselves with next?
posted by yoink at 11:44 AM on July 30, 2008


At meetings, activists would later say, Sapone advocated taking illegal or violent action to advance the movement. She befriended a 33-year-old activist named Fran Trutt, who in November 1988 would be arrested for planting a remote-controlled pipe bomb near the parking space of US Surgical chairman Leon Hirsch. According to Trutt, on her way to carry out the bombing she lost her nerve and placed a call to Sapone, who convinced her to follow through with the plan—a fact that prompted activists to accuse Sapone of acting as an agent provocateur. (Another Perceptions International operative, Marcus Mead, drove Trutt to US Surgical on the day of the attempted bombing.)

So why aren't Mead and Sapone in prison?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


All I have to say is when I hear or read the name "McFate," I think of Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate from the Dr. Seuss story Too Many Daves.
posted by marxchivist at 11:51 AM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd just sort of assume that going in, you know?


That sounds pessimistic, but not unduly so. If there are lots of other people doing this sort of 'double agent' thing, then this is just the sort of exposure they deserve. This is exactly the type of investigative thing all our journos should be doing.

She has a blog it will be interesting to see if she updates it.


Kudos parmanparman, that's good journalism.
posted by verisimilitude at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2008


Back when the Left had teeth, it had very effective methods for dealing with stools. It's a shame those times have passed.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm really starting to hate this country.
posted by mike3k at 12:11 PM on July 30, 2008


May I just say that I've always wanted to be a spy. I mean, not like the ones who actually do work, but the Mata Hari type...fabulously dressed, lounging around foreign bars, seducing Russians for their dreaded White Russian recipes. A job that involved magnificent hats, and wearing gloves and carrying cyanide lipstick. And an adorable little gun that shoots big, giant holes.
posted by dejah420 at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


NY Times article from 1989 on the same woman; this isn't new and she's apparently not issue-specific.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2008


What I find especially troubling is that it's private entities, rather than the government, who are guilty this time around. Bad governments can (at least in theory) be overthrown or voted out. Far less can be done when it's bad private actors who have unlimited amounts of cash to throw around.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2008


Is Mary Whoever any different from a lawyer who can argue either side of a case, or a mercenary soldier who will work for whoever pays him?
posted by Cranberry at 12:40 PM on July 30, 2008


From the Mother Jones article:
These days, Sean and Montgomery Sapone [Mary Lou Sapone's son and daughter-in-law] are better known as Sean and Montgomery McFate, a successful Washington couple whose current bios make no mention of any past intelligence-gathering or opposition-research work. Sean is currently the program director of the national security initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank boasting an advisory board composed of four former Senate majority leaders: Howard Baker, Bob Dole, George Mitchell, and Tom Daschle. An expert on military affairs, he previously worked for Amnesty International and for military contractor DynCorp. According to an online biography, he helped to organize "the first major legal arms shipment to Liberia in 15 years." Montgomery has made a name for herself as one of the primary architects of the US military's human terrain program, which teams social scientists with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan to help soldiers better understand the local culture. (The controversial program has been sharply criticized by the American Anthropological Association, which fears it may cross an ethical line, and has been described by detractors as "mercenary anthropology.") Now a top Pentagon adviser, Montgomery also contributed to the Army's Counterinsurgency Field Manual drafted under the guidance of General David Petraeus.
posted by russilwvong at 12:51 PM on July 30, 2008


The NRA seems to own the politicians and the judges--why the hell do they care what issue the opposition is planning to frustrate themselves with next?

Well, that's kind of the point. Maybe they own the political process because they have known in advance exactly what their opponents' strategy is, who they are lobbying and exactly what arguments they are using.

if a member of [PETA or Code Pink] was caught infiltrating the McDonald's corporate office or a military contractor, respectively, they'd be accused of terrorism or at the very least calls for their imprisonment would be raised

Not really. Every 6 months we see another video of an animal research or meat-packing plant by a PETA infiltrator. I've never seen any punishments result.
posted by msalt at 1:00 PM on July 30, 2008


"It raises the question," says Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "of what did she find out and what did they want her to find out."

I could be characterized as pro-gun/ anti-NRA, but this quote really threw me for a loop: What deep dark secrets would she have found out being on the inside? Was she clandestinely reporting back to headquarters the shocking revelation that "BCPGV was going to maintain it's anti-gun stance in the coming year?"

I'm sure I'm being uncharitable, but it seems to me that a group who's sole stated being is right there in their name isn't going to have a lot of deep dark secrets that need ferreting out.

Still, I suspect that this behavior of hers is not unlike the cops who infiltrate different groups and end up, for whatever reason, very near the top of the leadership chain. Maybe they get stuck undercover and 'go native' or they are just really enjoying the thrill of the double life or something.
posted by quin at 1:06 PM on July 30, 2008


Back when the Left Right had teeth, it had very effective methods for dealing with stools. It's a shame those times have passed.

If this had been posted on Freep the whole thread would be in an uproar. Adolescent bullshit like this just pushes your pet causes further to the margins.

In a free society, people can join organizations and clubs under false pretenses. It's a shitty thing to do, but some people are assholes. Unless she signed a contract/NDA saying "this information is private and cannot be divulged" or whatever then that's the end of the story.
posted by Spacelegoman at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's funny to hear people whine that the NRA will "say or do anything" to advance its cause, when the anti-gun nuts out there are clearly even more creative and liberal with truth.

The anti-gun movement has failed. Miserably. Twenty years ago, when the anti-gun nuts kicked their campaign into high gear, there were only a few states that had concealed carry. Now 40 states have it. People have had it with the hand-wringing pleas to entrust our safety to ever more apathetic police.

Sorry to hear your movement failed you. Barak ain't bringing it back, either. Best thing to do is to go buy a pistol, play some pistolcraft games with it, and grow a spine.
posted by Sukiari at 1:47 PM on July 30, 2008


It was a sleazy thing for the NRA to do, but I doubt it had any large benefit. Rather it would provide tactical information regarding lobbying etc. What amazes me is that she was outed in the NYT years ago and then was able to keep up with that line of work. She must have excellent social engineering skills.

Why is it always the right wing types who get caught up in dirty tricks? They love to spout honor and duty, etc. but then they go and pull some dishonorable dirty tricks.
posted by caddis at 2:05 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe they own the political process because they have known in advance exactly what their opponents' strategy is,

Maybe--I think it's got more to do with the vast amounts of money they can pour into single-issue advertising in districts where gun-rights are important to the voters.
posted by yoink at 2:19 PM on July 30, 2008


Why is it always the right wing types who get caught up in dirty tricks?

I wonder how many of us would be scolding an anti-gun activist who penetrated the highest levels of the NRA under a double identity?

Our spies are always heros who face extraordinary risks with remarkable courage. Their spies are filthy sneaktheives who deserve no mercy.
posted by yoink at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I wonder how many of us would be scolding an anti-gun activist who penetrated the highest levels of the NRA under a double identity?

But, uh, they didn't. So, well, I'm not sure what your question is.
posted by inigo2 at 2:24 PM on July 30, 2008


"I wonder how many of us would be scolding an anti-gun activist who penetrated the highest levels of the NRA under a double identity?"

""But, uh, they didn't. So, well, I'm not sure what your question is.""

The question is quite clear. Your desire to leave it unanswered is as good an answer as one requires.
posted by Sukiari at 2:31 PM on July 30, 2008


We'll never know. Because that person is buried in the big dig in Mass.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:33 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why is it always the right wing types who get caught up in dirty tricks?

Our spies are always heroes who face extraordinary risks with remarkable courage. Their spies are filthy sneaktheives who deserve no mercy.

Yoink hits on something here ... why does it always seem to be the right-wing types that get caught? It's because we notice them and it validates easy stereotypes.

There's the conservative stereotype of evil, dirty tricks as made famous by the Nixon gang's rat-fucking, Lee Atwater and Willie Horton, and of course, Karl Rove.

The opposite stereotype is the heroic muckrakers and gonzo journalists. Matt Taibbi goes "undercover" among Christian conservatives and gets a book deal out of it.

I'm sure there are plenty of examples of journalists and whatnot lurking among Earth First, animal-rights crazies, the "Direct Action Network" (when it was around) and the like. From a previous thread, I'd be interested in seeing what it would be like to "infiltrate" Critical Mass organizers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:53 PM on July 30, 2008


It's funny to hear people whine that the Galactic Empire will "say or do anything" to advance its cause, when the rebel scum out there are clearly even more creative and liberal with truth

The rebel alliance has failed. Miserably. Twenty years ago, when the rebel kicked their campaign into high gear, there were only a few states that had jedi. Now 40 states have them. People have had it with the hand-wringing pleas to entrust our safety to ever more apathetic storm troopers.

Sorry to hear your alliance failed you. Leia ain't bringing it back, either. Best thing to do is to go buy a lightsaber, play some wikipedia games with it, and grow a spine.
posted by fuq at 3:09 PM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


The opposite stereotype is the heroic muckrakers and gonzo journalists.

There's a huge difference here. Journalists report things to the public. What we do with that information is our choice.

That's very different than someone reporting on one influence group for another. That's a snitch. And snitches get stiches.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:21 PM on July 30, 2008


Sukiari,

"But, uh, they didn't."

Is an answer.
posted by nudar at 3:29 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Journalists report things to the public. What we do with that information is our choice.

Well, that's a fair comment, that journalists ostensibly "do public good" through their efforts, even if they do personally profit from them. On the other hand, I'm sure many of the people involved in these types of shenanigans are certain they are doing "public good," too. Just with their own definitions.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:30 PM on July 30, 2008


Critical Mass organizers

cuz organized demonstrations for safer roadways for cyclists is so leftist.
posted by yort at 3:34 PM on July 30, 2008


on my way home from work today, i heard the local college radio station dj read a public service announcement about an organization here in new orleans. they're looking for people to pose as someone who needs housing. apparently they're trying to sniff out discrimination in rental practices.

the psa didn't sit well with me. i wondered if they'd run it if it was the sheriff's office looking for people to narc out their friends. i doubt i'll ever live to see the day they'd begin to consider it. but i don't really see the difference.

i guess i could maybe understand but yet i wouldn't agree if someone did the spy thing for whatever holier-than-thou higher principle they thought they were upholding. to do it purely for money, though ... that's kind of fucked up.
posted by msconduct at 4:19 PM on July 30, 2008


How much is the NRA paying Sukiari for his contributions here? Because if he's doing all this promotion for gunsellers for free, he's getting ripped off. The NRA is not a "gun-owners" lobbying group, it is a gun-manufactures and sellers lobbying group (with the added bonus of conning its customers to 'contribute' more money to promote their products). The "failure" of the "anti-gun" movement can be attributed to the fact that the "pro-gun" movement is selling something that funds its advertising and promotion. It's the same reason McDonalds & WalMart & Starbucks have grown so big in spite 0f "anti" campaigns. But for purely commercial marketing effectiveness, the Gun Industry has all other business beat.

Also, I must repeat that guns are a grossly overrated defensive weapon and even as offensive weapons require more skill than a lot of gun-wielders have. Still, as I've said before, if I ever decide to purchase a gun, it will be for the specific purpose of killing somebody. Otherwise, I have things that fulfill a gun's "uses" much better.
posted by wendell at 4:29 PM on July 30, 2008


Is it wrong that I'm very happy that someone named 'McFate,' exists?
posted by jonmc at 4:42 PM on July 30, 2008


There's the conservative stereotype of evil, dirty tricks as made famous by the Nixon gang's rat-fucking, Lee Atwater and Willie Horton, and of course, Karl Rove. The opposite stereotype is the heroic muckrakers and gonzo journalists Soviet spies and Al-Queda 'sleeper cells'. Fixed that for you. (Yeah, I said it)

There is also a BIG difference between "infiltrating" for the purpose of writing a book everybody can read and writing reports for your bosses' eyes only. And a BIGGER difference between "infiltrating" to write about it and to "dirty trick", disrupt and sabotage.

I know it's hard work to be a good "MetaFilter Contrarian", but try to avoid comparing apples and pineapples, CPB.
posted by wendell at 4:45 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm normally loathe to use loaded perjoratives, especially when women are involved (cuz they have so many already), but this woman deserves an extra special name, if all this is true. Morally disgusting.

I'm sure I'm being uncharitable, but it seems to me that a group who's sole stated being is right there in their name isn't going to have a lot of deep dark secrets that need ferreting out

If you read the article, you'd know that she likely provided all sorts of valuable information: which legislation they'd be supporting heavily; which congressmen/women they were lobbying; where they were spending media money, etc.

You don't see how that sort of opposition research could affect legislation/public opinion?

Before we all jump in and cry foul, realize that the reverse happens, too -- that gun-control advocates and pro- and anti-whatever advocates "infiltrate" the NRA and other organizations all the time.

Bullshit. Or deliver some proof. There was another story recently about Homeland Security infiltrating an anti-death penalty group. It's always the people in power who infiltrate, because they have the motive and the means.

Yoink hits on something here ... why does it always seem to be the right-wing types that get caught? It's because we notice them and it validates easy stereotypes.

More bullshit. The right-wing types get caught because they are the ones who commit the offenses. They represent the money interests who are in power and want to stay in power. (Or maybe progressive infiltrators end up in the Big Dig, as lumpenprole suggests. A joke.)

How corporations and police infiltrate. (more cops; more cops; McDonald's)
How progressive protesters infiltrate.

Do you see a difference?

Reporters are slightly different. Their intentions are to report information, not negatively affect organizations and movements from within. However, they do reap material rewards out of their deceptions, so I can't say they're morally in the right or not (who am I to judge?). I will judge Mary McFate as wretched, however, based on this article's evidence.

Our spies are always heros who face extraordinary risks with remarkable courage. Their spies are filthy sneaktheives who deserve no mercy.

I'm not committing to either side of the gun debate, but look at the benefits for the corporate spy vs. the honestly committed do-gooder. As it's been pointed out, the NRA is not for gun users; it's for gun sellers.

...

Infiltration happens by those in power who have the means, motive, and social connections. I'm not suggesting that those not in power wouldn't infiltrate goverment and corporations if they could, but they can't and they don't (aside from perhaps a very small handful of cases).

I'm willing to compare though, if you want, CPB. You create a list with incidents of lumpenprole infiltration, and I'll come up with a list of incidents of corporate/police infiltration.

Thanks for the post. Mother Jones has seriously upped its ante in the past few years (which is more remarkable because lots of magazines/newspapers seem to be going in the opposite direction).
posted by mrgrimm at 5:03 PM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I will judge Mary McFate as wretched

If you say this in an 'evil old wizard' voice, it becomes increasingly funny.
posted by jonmc at 5:18 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


why does it always seem to be the right-wing types that get caught? It's because we notice them and it validates easy stereotypes.

Or perhaps because they are sleazy fucking scumbags who have to resort to subterfuge and dishonesty.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:50 PM on July 30, 2008


why does it always seem to be the right-wing types that get caught?

Well, the one's that don't get caught, we wouldn't know about, right?

Also, the quality of espionage has really gone downhill over the past decades. I blame KAOS. or moose und sqvirrel.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, the one's that don't get caught, we wouldn't know about, right?

That, and the damned librul media don't rat out their own of course.
posted by nudar at 6:23 PM on July 30, 2008


It's a lot harder to infiltrate an organization of well-paid, highly connected people than it is to infiltrate hippies and rabble rousers, for one. Opposition groups aren't hiring people or checking them out-- they're looking for all the help they can get, so getting in is easy.

Whereas to infiltrate a thinktank, PR firm, lobbying organization or other part of the "establishment" requires actually getting hired, which is typically harder. Not always, but usually.
posted by Maias at 7:02 PM on July 30, 2008


"Sukiari,

"But, uh, they didn't."

Is an answer."

No, it's an evasion couched as an answer. It's intellectually dishonest.
posted by Sukiari at 7:12 PM on July 30, 2008


"How much is the NRA paying Sukiari for his contributions here? Because if he's doing all this promotion for gunsellers for free, he's getting ripped off. The NRA is not a "gun-owners" lobbying group, it is a gun-manufactures and sellers lobbying group (with the added bonus of conning its customers to 'contribute' more money to promote their products)."

That's why GOA is the gun lobby for me. And the SAF.
posted by Sukiari at 7:13 PM on July 30, 2008


You may see it as intellectually dishonest to shift the burden of proof back on Yoink and his rhetorical hypothesis; and yes maybe a few people here would execute an opinionative about-face if the shoe was on the other foot, but it isn't. That is the point of his answer. The gun-lobby types are in the wrong on this particular issue; until they themselves have been infiltrated, possibly illegally infiltrated, by the gun-control types, it's a non-issue.

Personally I don't care either way, I live in a place where we have strict gun control laws, and I'm thankful for it.
posted by nudar at 9:09 PM on July 30, 2008


The question is quite clear. Your desire to leave it unanswered is as good an answer as one requires.

No, it's an evasion couched as an answer. It's intellectually dishonest.

That's such horseshit. yoink asks a rhetorical question, I say it's a bullshit question. That's an answer.

Hey everyone, what if two equaled one?

Exactly.
posted by inigo2 at 9:28 PM on July 30, 2008


It was an answer, and it was the question which was evasion. The NRA actually did the dirty trick, the other side didn't. The "what if" question avoids answering why it is always the right wing who does the dirty trick. If you are going to troll sukiari at least do a proper job of it. Now, your first comment in the thread, that was trolling worthy of Kibo.
posted by caddis at 9:35 PM on July 30, 2008


Reporters are slightly different. Their intentions are to report information, not negatively affect organizations and movements from within.

Modern reporting is all about selling eyeballs to advertisers. All else is secondary to that goal.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:18 PM on July 30, 2008


Cool Papa Bell and Sukiari are great examples of the ethical failure of the Political Right in this country... not that they are part of the Political Right necessarily, but their apparent inability to understand ethical problems or make sound ethical judgments in this post is exactly the problem the Political Right faces.

This kind of spying is unethical. It doesn't matter if a private group does it or the government does it, its unethical. Any discussion of whether anyone else does or not is immaterial. Any "hypothosizing" that everyone else is probably doing the same or worse is immaterial.

These immaterial contributions are themselves unethical because they derail the conversation purposefully. The political right in this country has been systematically violating ethical standards to the point of legal violation, from contempt of congress to name-that-felony.

It use to be the case that conservatives stood for respect for law, limited government, honest talk, and common decency to fellow citizens. The Right has been ethically corrupt since Nixon, and subsequent Republican administrations have employed the same people.

Time to admit that there is a problem and get some treatment.
posted by ewkpates at 4:17 AM on July 31, 2008


I think this explains why both sides are so comical. The top anti-gun nuts are actually gun nuts trying to undermine the cause and the top gun nuts are actually anti-gun nuts. The world suddenly makes more sense now.
posted by robtf3 at 7:08 AM on July 31, 2008


It was an answer, and it was the question which was evasion. The NRA actually did the dirty trick, the other side didn't. The "what if" question avoids answering why it is always the right wing who does the dirty trick.

Actually, the "what if" question remains equally potent regardless of which side actually does the "dirty tricks."

I'm not sure why everyone is running scared of this hypothetical question as if it's some sort of "have you stopped beating your wife yet." It seems to me an entirely straightforward hypothetical scenario. I know what my answer would be. If I heard that some enterprising gun-control activist had infiltrated the NRA and was passing information about their operations to fellow gun-control activists I'd be ecstatic. I'm utterly opposed to the cause that the NRA works for and an action like that would strike me as brave and praiseworthy.

Of course, there are subsidiary questions. If that agent acted as an agent provocateur (as McFate is accused of doing), trying to discredit the NRA by getting its activists to behave badly (well, more badly than they currently do), then, sure, that would be reprehensible--but the mere fact of infiltration and information-passing. No, I'd be entirely happy with that. Wouldn't you? Why not?
posted by yoink at 10:47 AM on July 31, 2008


In a free society, people can join organizations and clubs under false pretenses. It's a shitty thing to do, but some people are assholes. Unless she signed a contract/NDA saying "this information is private and cannot be divulged" or whatever then that's the end of the story.

End of the episode, yes, but not the miniseries if this post upstream is true (Haven't had time to read the article)
At meetings, activists would later say, Sapone advocated taking illegal or violent action to advance the movement. She befriended a 33-year-old activist named Fran Trutt, who in November 1988 would be arrested for planting a remote-controlled pipe bomb near the parking space of US Surgical chairman Leon Hirsch. According to Trutt, on her way to carry out the bombing she lost her nerve and placed a call to Sapone, who convinced her to follow through with the plan—a fact that prompted activists to accuse Sapone of acting as an agent provocateur. (Another Perceptions International operative, Marcus Mead, drove Trutt to US Surgical on the day of the attempted bombing.)

So why aren't Mead and Sapone in prison?
That the same person figured in both of these episodes is what is newsworthy and disturbing.
posted by xetere at 10:57 AM on July 31, 2008


I reluctantly add yoink to the list. Unethical behavior must be condemned even when it might benefit you. Plus you missed the point: This is a systemic cultural ethics failure. That's why bringing up the other guy is a problem.
posted by ewkpates at 11:14 AM on July 31, 2008


ewkpates: well, I guess I'm sorry to be on your list, but could you clarify what your ethical position is here. What, exactly, would be the unforgivable action of the person I described? Are you saying that there is never a situation where it is justifiable to lie about your identity and your intentions? Are you saying that you would not countenance spying of any kind under any circumstances? If you were President, would you disband the CIA and NSA completely, for example (this is the leave aside the question of which of its loonier operations you'd axe--I just mean would you eliminate all covert operatives of any kind)?

I think it's probably possible to make a coherent argument for a position like that, but it might entail some complex caveats and loopholes (is it, for example, justifiable for someone to lie about their identity if admitting it would get them killed? At what point does that "end justifies the means" loophole breakdown...etc. etc.)
posted by yoink at 12:02 PM on July 31, 2008


Yoink(s)! You're on the list!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:07 PM on July 31, 2008


Yes, but I'm asking him to check it twice.
posted by yoink at 12:23 PM on July 31, 2008


I think there's a lot to what Sukiari is saying. Gun control is one of the primary issues which the Democrats consistently lose votes on, and the belief that this is due to the nigh-magical influence of a single "gun-manufactures and sellers lobbying group" strikes me as a bizarre conflation of cause and effect. The NRA is not gigantic, popular, and powerful due to "purely commercial marketing effectiveness"; it is gigantic, popular, and powerful because the majority of people in America don't actually want strong gun control. Enforcement of existing laws; yes. Slightly more of what we've already got (background checks, waiting periods, etc); maybe. Anything which even remotely resembles gun grabbing or a slippery slope toward gun grabbing; no. This has nothing to do with lobbying or advertising -- the NRA only got into that in the late 70s, after twenty years of gun control debate had already failed to yield support for strict gun control.

Given this, we Democrats have a simple choice: hold to current policy and continue to make absolutely no progress on this issue, forever, or wake up and realize that there are things we can do to mitigate the damage guns occasionally cause without alienating or disenfranchising gun owners. For instance, instead of calling for new laws which have been shown to be both ineffective and widely unpopular (like the reinstatement of the Assault Weapon ban), we should be calling for the rigorous enforcement of existing gun laws, as polls show widespread support for the latter, even amongst conservative gun owners. Instead of concentrating on guns as a source of violence, despite the fact that the vast majority of them are never used to harm human beings, we should concentrate on violence as our core issue, not guns, and we should work toward mitigating the root causes of violence through economic and social support reform. Instead of railing against the NRA and its extremely conservative pro-gun candidates, we should be creating moderate pro-gun groups of our own, in support of gun safety education and pro-gun Democratic candidates like Richardson and Gravel.

In short, I would like it very much if voting for people with decent economic and social policies did not intrinsically have to involve screwing my own hobby and right to self-defense! Wake up, Democrats: there's a lot to be gained on this issue if we're willing to change, and everything to be lost if we refuse.
posted by vorfeed at 12:41 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


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