With a tip o’ the TTAG cap (available in the TTAG Store for a reasonable $19.95 + S&H) to founding TTAG Armed Intelligentsia member Bill Montgomery (who we all wish would send us some chapters in his serialized adventure yarn), from whence comes this political cartoon, featuring everybody’s favorite Attorney General since Antonio “Speedy” Gonzales, Eric Holder. (Gotta love those run-on sentences, eh, RF?) Yep, and when the barking dogs of the Liberal media starts a-howlin’ outside your door, you know things are not going well for the home team.

So, time for our ATF Rhetorical Questions o’ the Day: “How high is up?” “Do the big chunks always float to the top?” “Will Holder fall on his sword to save his boss, or will he take the whole Chicago Gang That Couldn’t Play It Straight down with him?” Too soon to tell. But it’s a milestone worth noting that the lamestream boys iz startin’ to hang the Fast n’ Furious albatross around Holder’s neck. And as we watch the shitstorm merrily float upstream, one has to wonder where it will stop.

Let’s get real here. I doubt there was some Evil Master Plan all along from Obama & Co., if only because I’ve never met a government that ruthlessly efficient. (Which is probably as good a reason as any to keep anybody named “Ruth” out of elected office. But I digress.) Nope, but keep in mind that when you have a bunch of people with like-minded agendas, it’s easy enough to have a perfect storm of goals drop into your lap and start humping it.

I suspect what’s happened here is that it’s crime of opportunity that happened by degrees, largely since the Boy’s from Chi-town are, shall we say, a wee bit light in the loafers when it comes to ethics. Start with a program that’s ethically-challenged from the beginning, run by a bunch of guys who think “wretched excess” is the name of some rock group (and they dig their sound). Add an Administration that famously said “never let a crisis go to waste,” and stir in a mixed-bag of personal agendas from like-minded individuals who have no love lost for the gun industry, immigration crackdowns, and the letter of the law. Stir.

The resulting hornets nest serves…how many 10 to 20 year sentences? I don’t really know at this point. But let’s consider the typical checks and balances of bureaucracy, and we can begin to hypothesize as to how far this stinkFest reaches it’s tendrils inside the ObamaNation.

The Theory of Fiefdoms – If you wanna see some turf wars that rival anything you’d see in a Broadway revival of West Side Story, look no further than the inter-departmental “cooperation” between rival departments in the Executive Branch. FBI, ATF, Justice, State, Homeland Security – every last one of them wants to amass as much power and influence as possible (self-preservation is the most basic of urges among Homosapien Bureaucraticus).

So when some program comes around that promises to provide some high-profile “wins,” you can bet your bottom (soon-to-be worthless) dollar that everybody and their monkey will be jumping up to grab some credit and/or piss on the project to mark their territory. But the flip side of that is the old saw “success has a thousand fathers, failure but one.” Blamestorming is more than a blood sport inside the Beltway. It’s a way of life that makes the court intrigues covered in Les Liaisons Dangereuses look like Amateur Night at a Gong Show revival.

So you have to assume that if this SNAFU was the sole property of the ATF, every other alphabet-soup agency in that mosquito-infested swamp we call D.C. would be piling on the home of jack-booted thuggery in a big way. But the other agencies are curiously quiet. Professional courtesy? Don’t make me laugh. Inter-departmental discipline? HA! Guilt by association? NOW you’re talkin.’

The only reason (and I mean the only reason) other agencies aren’t jumping on the ATF is because they are worried they’ll get sucked into the blamestorm and get more than a little wet. Never let a good feeding frenzy go to waste. So I’m thinking there’s a lot of potential blame to go around.

The Theory of Distributed Responsibility – When a project is big and/or successful, everybody wants in on the act. And remember, Fast and Furious was (represented to the public as) successful before it was a colossal failure. So there’s little chance that the FBI, Border Security, Immigration, and the AG’s office didn’t know about the program. And if they knew about it, they wanted in. So what did they know, and when did they know it? We don’t know – yet – because Holder and his minions aren’t talking. But soon as Melson is thrown under the bus, all that may change.

The Theory of Mutually-Assured Destruction – When you’re up to something that looks a little risky, there’s nothing like getting a few close friends sucked in to make it all seem better. Misery loves company, and all that. So I can see the higher-ups in this mess reaching out to their opposite numbers in other departments and offering them a piece of the action, in order to play a little CYA, Varsity-style. They can’t stab you in the back if you’ve formed a little circle-jerk of knife-wielders, each painfully aware that one false move, and they all fall down.

So who do I like in the office pool for The Ones Most Likely To Get a Career-Ending Pink Slip Over Fast n’ Furious? Given the way bureaucracies work in D.C., coupled with the organizational structure of the Chicago (political) Mob (a.k.a. The Daley Machine), I’d lay odds the main playaz are everybody in management at the ATF, AG Eric Holder, former WH Chief of Staff (and current Hizzhonor in Chi-town) Rahm Emmanuel), Janet “Sgt. Shultz” Napolitano, the Assistant AGs in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, the middle and upper managment of U.S. Border and Customs Patrol, at the very least regional managers/dept. heads of the FBI, and ditto for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  So we’ve got the ATF, FBI, ICE, BCP, AG, and…?

You can probably make a pretty good argument for the State Department being involved at some level, although despite her loss to Obama in the Presidential sweepstakes, Hillary is no slouch when it comes to political intrigue. Think “Lady McBeth in a pantsuit.” Or even better, Lucretia Borgia with a briefcase. The woman got the mad skills when it come to machinations. I think that whatever connections her department had to Fast and Furious has been compartmentalized and moved so far from her ken that she’ll be able to walk away from this mess smelling like a Rose, and I don’t mean the law firm. I further suspect that the only reason State hasn’t been furiously denying any involvement in Fast n’ Furious is that La Hillary is biding her time, awaiting the perfect time to play her Ace-high hand in the high-stakes game of political Texas Hold-em.

So where does that leave us in a political body count? Melson: dead, but apparently doesn’t know it yet. Holder: wounded, perhaps mortally-so. Emmanuel: thinks he cheated the hangman, but could get sucked into the black hole of Project Gunwalker by Melson or others. Napolitano: should be getting her resumé together – she doesn’t have game to go up against the career character assassins on this one. Those are the big fish. You can add the Assistant AGs in the border states, and some regional heads of ATF, FBI, AG, CBP, and ICE. When all is said and done, I suspect that this will turn out to be the Dem’s version of Watergate, sans the Presidential sacking. Oh, yeah. The Obama factor. What about that?

As much as I’d love to see Obama go down on this if he ordered or approved Gunwalker, I just don’t think the scandal will touch him. It’s not the way politics is played, Chicago Style. Nope, Midwest Rules hold that your underlings take one for the team. Family loyalty and the Code of Silence thing reign supreme. But just because Obama doesn’t lose his day job doesn’t mean he won’t be mortally-wounded from a political sense of the word.

If he’s got to put up with a full-blown administration scandal while waging 2½ wars, propping up his besieged ObamaCare, and trying to push the rest of his  Progressive agenda, all with a popularity level approaching statistical zero, a second term will NOT be in the cards. And he knows it. In recent interviews, he talks about how “one term may be enough” and how his family is ambivalent about a second term. One more body-blow and we could well be looking at a Democrat primary as wide open as the GOP’s.

So will Fast n’ Furious bring down the House that Obama Built? I don’t know. But if I were the Democrats, I wouldn’t be putting making book on it. Scandals are like nuclear reactions. When you have all the pieces in place, they aren’t that hard to trigger. It’s controlling the reaction that’s the hard part. Stay tuned. It’s about to get interesting.

13 Responses to ATF Death Watch 21: You Know You’re Toast When The Libs Start Mocking You.

  1. In order for a scandal to be devestating politically people have to know about it and care. The vast majority of people are unaware of Gunwalker, most even if they knew wouldn’t care. The people who do know and care are not the kind of folks likely to vote democrat, so nothing lost there.

  2. Great article. I’ve been telling my friends (including some libs) about this. Amazingly most of them dismiss it as a non-event. As you said… It’s about to get interesting. VERY interesting.

  3. Step aside for a hand-picked successor, who preemptively pardons everyone before charges are even laid… Now where have I seen that before?

  4. A run-on sentence (also known as a fused sentence) is one in which two independent clauses are joined together without a colon, a semicolon, or a comma and a coordinating conjunction. Your opening sentence has but one independent clause, so it might be long, but it is not run-on (it is also missing a “from whom” after the second parenthetical aside). I am sorry . . . I have not graded a paper in 4 weeks, and I am getting a bit on edge.

    On to the article: you and I differ politically, but this is not political, it is rhetorical. When making claims, please support. If it is true that “You can probably make a pretty good argument for the State Department being involved at some level . . .”, then make it. I can think of several good arguments State is not involved (which is not to say they are not).

    “Progressive” does not mean anything done by a liberal. I can think of few policies Obama has that are progressive. “Obamacare” is based on a Republican’s model, and is a bit less ambitious than Nixon’s 1974 plan, and he was certainly no progressive. As far as the individual mandate to carry insurance, this used to be supported by Gingrich, Huntsman, Pawlenty, Hatch, Bush I, and other conservatives.

    The scandal does stink to high heaven, but that does not give license for unsupported conjecture in a forum like this one. I hope any and all law-breakers involved are held accountable.

    • Okay, I’ll cop to the Grammar Police charges, but I hope to get time-off for good behavior.

      The thrust of my article (encapsulated in the three theories I presented) is that bureaucracies are the next best/worst thing to living, breathing organisms, and they tend to act as such. “Life finds a way,” chaos theory and all that – or you can just say that opportunity is much like a vacuum – bureaucracies will rush to fill it. I can’t believe that any program that involves relations with Mexico could possibly go on without raising the attention/covetousness/ire of State. Especially when Hillary has had her wings clipped by Obama, with his “special envoys” and “czars,” doing things normally within the purview of the diplomatic corps. (Or “corpse” if you’re Obama.) [Ed. note: Not that it makes it right just because the President screws up, but I’d like to point out that I’m not the only one around here making grammatical errors. ]

      “Progressive” is the monicker given the quasi-Socialist movement of the 1920s, spearheaded by Woodrow Wilson on the Left and Teddy Roosevelt on the Right. It’s not a Left/Right thing. It’s a Socialist versus Vision of the Founders thing. Hillary herself has proudly proclaimed that she is a “Progressive” in the mold of the 1920s movement. The single-payer/government-controlled ObamaCare plan is most certainly a “Progressive” scheme, just as are all of his plans that put the Federal Government in the driver’s seat, and in control of things like the Banking industry, Finance, Automotive, Health Care, Insurance, etc.

      Nixon was very much a Progressive and in no way a “Conservative” unless you’re comparing him to the Happy Warrior, Hubert H. Humphrey, much in the same way that John McCain is “Progressive Lite” to Obama’s “Progressive at tempo di Bat Outta Hell.” Your contention that Gingrich, Huntsman, Pawlenty, Hatch and Bush (I or II) are “Conservatives is equally flawed. Gingrich has always been this weird mix of defense hawk and social RINO. Huntsman is a RINO red herring. I don’t have much use for Pawlenty either. Same goes for Romney and his RomneyCare scheme which, as far as I can see, is a preview of coming destractions for ObamaCare.

      But we can agree on one thing. In the words of a political sentiment from times past, “Throw the Rascals Out!”

  5. Again, sorry about the red pencil thing; these were editing, not grammar, issues. Nice argument for State involvement. This strengthens your article considerably.

    I would argue that progressives, historically, have less to do with socialism than they do with using the government to empower the “little guy.” At times, this would mean diminishing the power of businesses, so that might seem socialistic, but I would not call this intrinsically socialist.

    I know that you are younger than I am and that Rand is your economic/social guide, but, honestly, Nixon was no progressive. He might laugh heartily at that thought . . . after he put you on his enemies list.

    • No offense taken, Karl. The day I start getting offended at being corrected is the day I get too big for my cap (again, available in the TTAG Store for a reasonable $19.95 + S&H…shill much?). Heh.

      Sorry about the omission of the State Dept. thing from the original article. I usually write these on the fly, give it a quick edit and get it up online. Deadlines and all that.

      I think you can make an argument about the motivations of a lot of those who vote Progressive. The dangers in that philosophy, however, are largely that they don’t take into account human nature. If Capitalism errs on the side of self-reliance and “yeah, individuals may get trod on, but the majority will prosper and thrive,” Progressivism errs on the side of the Nanny State, thinking that “if only we can pass some laws that have teeth in them, people will do the right thing and we can create a Utopian society.”

      Frankly, I don’t know of a “pure” system that actually works. But given that Capitalism acknowledges human nature and accounts for it, I think it’s got a much higher chance of success (which has been proven, time and time again throughout history).

      Progressivism to me is “Socialism with a Happy Face,” as the well-intentioned policies of the Progressives, infused with the inevitable influences of human nature, result in us being inexorably drawn closer and closer to a totalitarian state. And there’s nothing ‘happy’ about that.

      I’m not quite as young as RF and the other whippersnappers ’round the TTAG World Headquarters and Overstocked Warehouse. I’m of the 1957 vintage myself, so I actually lived through the Nixon years old enough to appreciate what was happening. He wore the mantle of “Conservative” but his social policies were anything BUT. (As an aside, my dad actually met Nixon, and they exchanged letters and autographed copies of their respective books.)

      • Brad, I appreciate your comments. I do have to quibble with your characterization of progressives, though. To claim that “they don’t take into account human nature” is fanciful. They understand human nature very well, especially greed, and they see that they only way to counter that most human of traits in the powerful is to use government to empower the masses. For example, I believe that this is why the progressives of the 1890s—1920 fought for women’s suffrage: It would expand the voting population and diffuse power.

        You argue that capitalism is based on a basic understanding of human nature, but that is not really true. Capitalism supposedly self-regulates because of market forces, but there are no real markets that push for clean air, clean water, safe drilling, and so on. If we really bought into the capitalists’ argument, we would end the EPA and all sorts of other agencies since the markets will provide the solutions. But how would that work? How would consumers drive industries to not pollute? Since consumers have conflicted needs—lowest possible cost and healthy environment—there is little actual market pressure to shift production towards lower pollution-creating industries and goods. Indeed, since consumers are rational, they might never choose those products since even if they want greener products, they cannot assume that other consumers will choose the same goods. Since huge numbers of consumers would have to be willing to make market driven changes by buying more expensive products, rational consumers would buy the cheaper products. Because of this, rational progressives believe that a counter-weight to market-based decisions must be implemented, and this is where regulation comes in. It has nothing to do with a utopian world-view. It is more cynical than your free market view, in my view.

        I would also argue that your characterization of capitalism creating winners and losers is correct, and there is nothing wrong with this. Businesses and workers should be free to win and/or lose. Crappy workers should lose. Crappy companies should lose. The problem is that the owners have huge power advantages, and individual workers need protections, either through governmental regulations or collective bargaining, to assure that they are not mal-treated in a variety of ways.

        I am sorry I don’t have more time to discuss this, but work calls.

    • Correct, karlb, Nixon was no progressive. He was a fascist. He was a manipulative megalomaniac. He wasn’t a progressive. I voted for him twice. I held my nose while I was pulling the lever, but I still voted for him. I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for that free hump from Minnesota or the jackass from South Dakota. Now, 40 years later, in the cold light of day, I think I made the only election day choices that I could.

  6. With McGovern, he might have been anti-war, but he had been a B-24 pilot in WWII; I admire that he never used that experience when people portrayed him as a pacifist.

    • Hey, my Dad was a decorated WW2 veteran, and he would have made a sh!tty President too. If McGovern was actually a pacifist, I would have respected him. He wasn’t, and I didn’t.

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