Next anti-gun attack: crony capital, bailed-out banks

GE_CapitalThe administration’s next line of attack on gun owners, having been thrashed in Congress, is taking shape: hit ’em in the pocketbook. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday:

General Electric Co. is quietly cutting off lending to gun shops in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, making it the latest financial firm to back away from the gun industry.

This month, Glenn Duncan, owner of Duncan’s Outdoor Store in Bay City, Mich., said he received a letter from GE Capital Retail Bank in which the lender said it had made “the difficult decision” to stop providing financing services to his store. Other gun dealers have received similar notices.

By all means,  Read The Whole Thing™. (Try this link if you’re locked out by the paywall; let us know in the comments if it worked). In fact, GE’s press release (which, as we’ll demonstrate, this article is almost entirely copied from, word-for-word) does stress Newtown as a reason for the cut-off, but the cut-off didn’t occur after Newtown. It lost after the GE CEO’s political allies lost the political battle to stigmatize legal gun owners.

Mr Duncan hasn’t been singled out for any personal or business reason. He was on the sharp end of a systematic decision by GE to ghettoize legitimate gun dealers and gun owners. It’s probable that it stems from oily GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s close ties to the President, which has brought GE executives and stockholders benefits unavailable to its competitors: for instance, immunity to the taxes the rest of us must pay.

Other bailed-out banks had already shut off gun-industry borrowers, including Bank of America ($336.1 billion in bailout as of two years ago) and Citigroup ($476.2 Billion taxpayer dollars taken as bailout, and counting  — same link. These numbers are low, because the Times found hundreds of billions more in December, 2011, and noted that the banks kept these bailout slush funds out of their earnings releases). These shutoffs of gun-industry merchants were contemporaneous with the receipt of bailout largesse in 2008 and 2009; although correlation doesn’t prove causation, it definitely looks fishy. At that same time, upon the election of their candidate to the Presidency, GE Capital stopped taking new gun-industry customers. It’s likely any remaining bailed-out banks financing gun makers, wholesalers and dealers will succumb to the same political pressures GE did — let’s face it, they’re de facto nationalized firms now; they sold their independence for cash, the largest single portion of which seems to have stuck to executives’ fingers or bought them flashy perks (Citigroup, a $50 million jet as personal taxi for the CEO).

This bitter-end action is unlikely to slow the superheated gun market, now propelled by Marathon Bomber fears as well as executive anti-gun actions. Other lenders are likely to step in, and one businessman has already called about establishing an overtly pro-gun gun-finance specialty lender. What it is likely to do is impact GE’s consumer business, because this is essentially a declaration by Immelt that he does not want the business of the gun-owning public. We wouldn’t want to disappoint him, would we?

Another detail that’s interesting is that the WSJ article is nearly word-for-word the same as:

  • The USA Today article (which even cites all the same examples of other anti-gun banks)
  • The Los Angeles Times article (which the author at least admits is cribbed from the Journal, and has one additional quote from a gun store owner as a fig leaf justifying the byline).
  • The New York Times article (which will spam you with a video before letting you read the same exact facts, bylined to Steve Lohr but containing not a single solitary original word).
  • The Washington Times (whose bylined author admits she cribbed it from the NYT).
  • The Denver Post (but this is an edited reprint of the WSJ article with the original authors retaining credit).
  • Narodniy Politichesky Radio aka NPR (link is to a web page that lets you launch the audio story. It contains the exact same facts and quotes, read with the dulcet, sneering tones and soporific EQ and reverb for which NPR is notorious).

In other words, every one of these stories, with two exceptions where the reporter made one quote-seeking phone call, is plagiarized from the GE press release, or plagiarized from another reporter’s plagiarizing of the press release. And these bums put their bylines on there!

In case you had any wonders on how reporters roll. Plagiarizing press releases is so common that a watchdog organization has a browser plug-in that lets you deconstruct them by URL, although it’s scarcely necessary in this blatant case.

So why do they go to J-school if all they do is copy others’ work? We guess it’s to learn what others to copy. Exercise for the reader: go to the websites of those six media titans, and find an example of those bogus bylines attached to a cosmetically reworked NRA press release. We’ll still be here when you get back… God and the actuarial tables willing. But we can tell you right now you’ll be empty-handed.