Corporate America, the Gun Industry, and Other F’d up Stuff

One of the things that’s interesting about Stephen Feinberg, the head of Cerberus Capital Management, Chan Galbato, the CEO of Cerberus, Ronald Kolka, the CFO, as well as Kevin Miniard, the chief manufacturing officer of Freedom Group, a subsidiary under Cerberus Capital that owns Bushmaster, the assault rifles used to kill innocent people in Newtown and Aurora, is how mainstream their corporate upbringing is.

Feinberg only recently got into guns, was captain of the Princeton tennis team and worked on Wall Street. Galbato came from an executive position at Home Depot and has an MBA from Chicago. Kolka is also from Chrysler with a degree from Michigan State. Miniard was working at Smith and Nephew Medical. Robert Nardelli, the CEO of Freedom Group before stepping down this past March, was previously the CEO at Chrysler and Home Depot. The Chrysler part makes sense–Cerberus briefly acquired it before the bailout.

Why do they oppose the Assault Weapons Ban? “Legislation of this type, if enacted, could have a material adverse effect on our business.” They are even worried about hunter safety issues–might hurt sales of their guns and ammunition.

Yeah, they have some ideologues mixed in. Dan Quayle is on the board in some capacity. The gun manufacturers that they bought may well have started as mom and pop gun enthusiasts.  But this current group is mostly just MBAs and Wall Streeters. The kind of guys who have kids going to schools in Connecticut.

So what’s my point here?  There’s a lot of great great stuff out there attacking guns and the NRA at slate, at the New Yorker, at the New Yorker again, at NuVote…. Like them, I’m hopeful there is a legislative response. There’s no reason for these kinds of guns and ammo to exist in our society. I’m also skeptical at the ability to get meaningful legislative change; check out the graphs reporting the level of interest in this kind of stuff over at the monkey cage: it’s short lived. Maybe Obama decides to do something. Or maybe everyone is talking about the fiscal cliff by next week. (At the least, given the date of this shooting, I’m guessing it will stay in the media a bit longer so as to make a lot of ‘year in review lists’–I’m guessing the ‘year of the gun’ is going to get some play. I’m even hoping that the killing of children will be a catalyst in a way that other events are not.)

But short of legislative action, I think gun control advocates need a new approach–shaming the corporate money that is attached to guns. Cerberus Capital Management represents the true face of evil–a face that is only partly ideological and primarily profitable. They aren’t the guys hanging out at ammo expos, they are the guys in Manhattan bars getting a drink talking about what island to visit for the holidays and what elite prep school they are hoping to get their kids admitted to. They are a part of high society. They need to be shamed. Stephen Feinberg should know that his alumni money isn’t going to be welcomed at Princeton. Their jobs should not be just another piece of the corporate ladder–a place where there’s money to be made (as the NYT article I referenced in my last post mentioned). If they pull out of the gun industry, it won’t get rid of the industry, but it will hurt it–and hurt it in a way that will have a lot bigger impact than people realize.

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Alright–a few quick things about sports, most of them fucked up too. Not equivalent with the corporate gun industry, but fucked up nonetheless.

It may not be the first time that I heard a description of supposed high schools that are basketball factories, but Jay Caspian Kang’s piece at grantland was worth the half hour it took to read (complete with videos).

Rob Parker is lame. Serbian soccer fans are totally disgusting and fucked up.

Bruce Jenkins at the SF Chronicle was able to point out something fucked up on many levels–the general way in which David Stern has fucked up the NBA–but I think he fucked it up further by adding a fucked up opinion of his own into the mix…He writes, “One of the most distasteful aspects of commissioner David Stern’s legacy – ruining Christmas for far too many people – comes into play again this year with five televised games scheduled.”  Good point Bruce. But…then he says, referencing an interview with Phil Jackson, “Jackson is among many observers who point out the obvious: that Stern, who celebrates Hanukkah, has no real feel for Christmas in the first place.”

OK. Hold up. The problem here is the Jews? Jews don’t have a feel for Christmas? They don’t see that Christmas starts on Thanksgiving at Wal-Mart?  That movies routinely open up on Christmas day?  That Christmas has been about entertainment and dollars since who the fuck knows when?  Hey Bruce, you really think if David Stern was Christian he’d be opposed to games on Christmas day? How about the NFL having the Packers-Jets last year?  And Bruce, I hate David Stern!  And Bruce, I’ve always liked you!  (In my outrage at this, I just googled his messed up article and I appreciate that Erik Loomis at lawyers, guns, and money agrees that Bruce Jenkins is fucked up on this, and has already pointed this out.)

Alright, next blog post is going to get away from all this horrible negativity. Maybe a fluff piece on the amazing Golden State Warriors. Or Blake Griffin’s funny commercials. Or even how warm and fuzzy LeBron James has become (or maybe has always been…whatever, I’m now a fan.) Maybe I’ll even admit to being wrong about Carmelo. Maybe.

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