Free Markets, Free People

Fast and Furious


Fast and Furious guns still enabling crime in Mexico

The scandal that is the DoJ’s “Fast and Furious” debacle continues to enable crimes and murders in Mexico:

Three more weapons from Fast and Furious have turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, CBS News has learned, as the toll from the controversial federal operation grows.

According to Justice Department tracing documents obtained by CBS News, all three guns are WASR-10 762-caliber Romanian rifles. Two were purchased by Fast and Furious suspect Uriel Patino in May and July of 2010. Sean Steward, who was convicted on gun charges in July 2012, purchased a third. The rifles were traced yesterday to the Lone Wolf gun shop in Glendale, Ariz.

During Fast and Furious and similar operations, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) encouraged the Lone Wolf and other gun stores to sell massive amounts of weapons to questionable purchasers who allegedly trafficked them Mexican drug cartels.

Patino is said to have purchased 700 guns while under ATF’s watch. Ever since, a steady stream of the guns have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. But the Justice Department has refused repeated requests from Congress and CBS News to provide a full accounting. An estimated 1,400 guns are still on the street or unaccounted for.

What I find interesting about this is what happened in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that this operation had been so badly bungled. Remember the reaction from the administration when this began to become public knowledge?

Denial. The attempt to pin the blame on some “rogue agents” in Phoenix.

Ring any bells? What was their reaction to Benghazi? To try to pin the blame on some video producer.

IRS? I believe it was rogue agents in Cincinnati.

Name your scandal and the results are almost uniformly the same.

And the real result in every case? None of the initial spin had any credence whatsoever.  None.  Not once.

In fact, all were traced back to high level failures on the part of various executive agencies.

And they wonder why trust in government is at an all time low.

~McQ


Suggested title for a book on the current scandals: “We told you so, you f@(%!ng fools!”

In the book In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage, a great story is told about historian Robert Conquest. He wrote a book in the 1980s about the abuses of Stalinism, and got the usual roasting from Soviet apologists in academia. They accused him of cherry-picking data, failing to see Stalin’s supposed good points – the usual blather of Marxist-friendly social science academics.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, opened archives showed that Conquest not only had it right, but was actually a bit conservative is his assertions. His publisher suggested an updated edition of the book incorporating that information, and asked Conquest if he wanted to change the title.

Conquest responded “How about ‘I told you so, you f*cking fools’”? *

I’m feeling that same impulse after reviewing the cascade of scandals over the last few weeks.** Anyone who wasn’t mesmerized by Obama and actually paying attention already knew that:

1. Benghazi was not just a tragedy. It was one of the most massive screw-ups ever perpetrated by the State Department, and there was clearly a cover-up to keep the rest of us from finding out the what, where, when, how, and why.

2. The IRS was targeting and harassing limited government groups.

3. Fast and Furious was a botched effort to engineer evidence in favor of gun control.

4. Fox News was being targeted by the administration from its earliest days.

Various folks on the right could see all this, yet our supposed smart media pundits at major organizations are still expressing surprise at every new revelation. In other words, we told you so, you f*cking fools. And we were ignored, or even ridiculed as paranoid and obsessive.

I learned a valuable lesson in my first job out of graduate school. The software company I worked for was acquired by a giant corporation. The executives from that giant corporation came down for meetings after the acquisition. After listening to them for a day, I concluded that they were incompetent fools.

But I had some doubt. How could they have reached such a position of authority and still be such fools?

Yet, in the ensuing years, under their leadership, the giant corporation lost tens of millions of dollars running that small software company into the ground. They ended up selling it after five years for about five percent of what they paid for it. So yeah, those guys really were the incompetent fools I thought they were.

I now assume that if I have good reasons to believe something, the assertions of powerful or influential people don’t change my mind. I assume they are simply ignorant, willfully blind, or actively deceptive. This round of scandalous outrages by the Obama administration is just another confirmation of that assumption. If media types and establishment politicians didn’t realize these problems existed before last month, then they are f*cking fools, no matter how high they have risen in the political class.

On the other hand, if they knew the problems existed and did nothing, they are despicable villains and not fit to be in the job they hold. Not in their own eyes, of course. As Robert Conquest found out, to those on the left, even Josef Stalin isn’t really a villain.

* I first saw the anecdote about Conquest in a review of the book in Reason Magazine, Fools for Communism. I got the book, which is a concise, good read. If you want examples of willful blindness by lefties, In Denial is a great source.

** Many writers predicted Obama scandals early in his term. I’m pretty sure they feel the same lack of surprise, even if they don’t express it in such a vulgar way.


What is the IRS scandal if not political?

Peggy Noonan makes this statement today:

What happened at the IRS is the government’s essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position’s powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned. Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don’t, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn’t stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.

And it would be shameful and shallow for any Republican operative or operator to make this scandal into a commercial and turn it into a mere partisan arguing point and part of the game. It’s not part of the game. This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is to say our ability to function.

First paragraph … agree, for the most part.  Where I don’t agree is that there is a “minimal faith” in the revenue gathering arm of the US government.  There’s been little faith in it since it’s inception.  Most people understand that the gun is pointed at them and the prison cell is open and waiting.  They don’t pay taxes because of any “faith” or respect for the IRS or government.  They do it out of fear.

As for the second paragraph, that’s total horse hockey.  Total.

The entire point of the scandal was it targeted “political” organizations.  How does one not politicize it?  It took place under a Democratic administration and the opponents of that party were the target of the IRS.

Hello?

And what do we get from Noonan? “Hey, let’s take a knife to a gun fight”.

Noonan’s advice is, by far, the stupidest advice one could give.

Yes, this is about the integrity of the system. And, like it or not, that is directly linked to those who administer and govern.

Ms. Noonan, who is that right now? And how, if they were doing an effective job, would this have been going on for two years. Oh, and speaking of trust, how are you with the whole AP scandal? My guess is you’re wanting some heads over that.

Well, I want some heads of this. And Benghazi. And Fast and Furious.

Instead we get shrinking violets like you advising everyone to back off and not make this “political”.

BS.

~McQ


MLK is spinning in his grave

I wonder what Martin Luther King would say on the day  a black president is sworn in for his second term – a day that also celebrates King’s birth. You hope he’d be pleased. But my guess is, since he was more concerned with the content of your character than the color of your skin, that might not be the case.

Why? Because of the ongoing assault on our rights. For instance the gun control distraction that involves an Attorney General who is possibly the greatest hypocrite and biggest criminal in Washington.

What am I talking about?

Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have asked a federal court to indefinitely delay a lawsuit brought by watchdog group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit seeks the enforcement of open records requests relating to Operation Fast and Furious, as required by law.

Judicial Watch had filed, on June 22, 2012, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious and “specifically [a]ll records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012.”

The administration has refused to comply with Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, and in mid-September the group filed a lawsuit challenging Holder’s denial. That lawsuit remains ongoing but within the past week President Barack Obama’s administration filed what’s called a “motion to stay” the suit. Such a motion is something that if granted would delay the lawsuit indefinitely.

I don’t care what anyone says what happened with Fast and Furious was criminal. And the ongoing cover-up is also criminal.  The “most transparant administration ever” is, in fact, the most opaque.

As for the hypocrisy, well that’s easy, especially given Fast and Furious.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the government will consider “imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals” while talking about gun control to U.S. mayors.

ERIC HOLDER: And to consider a series of new federal laws imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals.

Who is the biggest “gun trafficker” we know of?

Eric Holder.

~McQ


Fast and Furious – It takes Univision to “break” it?

Seriously?

This has been a scandal for over 2 years. It has bubbled along in the blogosphere for some time. But in the MSM, it has been mostly ignored. Cheryl Atkinson of CBS is about the only reporter I’m aware of who has done any in-depth reporting about this and it too has been mostly ignored.

Even the coverage of the Congressional hearing into this fiasco was muted.

Finally, we have some journalism coming to the fore (with apologies to Ms. Atkinson) and Univision, a largely Hispanic network, has done an expose on this operation that can only be called either the dumbest and most inept operation known to man or a very cynical and malevolent one. More and more I’m leaning toward the latter explanation with a sprinkling of the former.

ABC has finally picked up the ball, and if you are interested in the Univision report, they have it with English captions. Definitely worth the view.

Says ABC:

As part of Operation Fast and Furious, ATF allowed 1,961 guns to “walk” out of the U.S. in an effort to identify the high profile cartel leaders who received them. The agency eventually lost track of the weapons, and they often ended up in the hands of Mexican hit men , including those who ordered and carried out the attack on Salvarcar and El Aliviane, a rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez where 18 young men were killed on September 2, 2009.

In Mexico, the timing of the operation coincided with an upsurge of violence in the war among the country’s strongest cartels. In 2009, the northern Mexican states served as a battlefield for the Sinaloa and Juarez drug trafficking organizations, and as expansion territory for the increasingly powerful Zetas. According to documents obtained by Univision News, from October of that year to the end of 2010, nearly 175 weapons from Operation Fast and Furious inadvertently armed the various warring factions across northern Mexico.

Univision went into some real depth in their investigation, apparently even deeper than the Congressional investigation:

Univision News identified a total of 57 more previously unreported firearms that were bought by straw purchasers monitored by ATF during Operation Fast and Furious, and then recovered in Mexico in sites related to murders, kidnappings, and at least one other massacre.

Remember, this was first claimed to be a “local, rogue” operation. Then White House staff emails referencing it were found. This was an ATF/DEA/DoJ operation that was never coordinated with Mexican officials. It has caused at least 2 deaths of US agents and literally hundreds if not thousands of deaths in Mexico.

Someone should be held accountable and be heading to jail.

But then “someone” ought to also be reporting about it too, shouldn’t “they”?’

~McQ
Twitter: McQandO
Facebook: QandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 30 Sep 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the election.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


The tax that isn’t a tax because 75% of it falls on the middle class

If you’re wondering why the administration is so adamant about claiming the health care mandate isn’t a tax, all you have to do is look at this chart:

 

Taxmandate

 

Even a quick look makes it clear that 75% of the taxes to be paid will be paid by those making $120,000 or less.  That, my friends is a middle class tax increase of epic proportions– something this president promised wouldn’t happen on his watch.

Of course it doesn’t fully kick in until 2016 (it starts in 2014), but let’s be clear, it is going to kick in (thanks to John Roberts).

And, if you’re wondering what that means in terms of money, well, here’s a repeat of the chart of the tax from the list of 20 taxes (of about half a trillion) this monstrosity levies (and don’t forget, it is the amount or the percentage of AGI – whichever is highest):

 

obamatax

 

Yet what do we get from the dopes at the Romney campaign?  Well first they agree it’s not a tax it’s a penalty.  What’s one of the first maxims of politics?  When you’re opponent is self-destructing, shut up and get out of the way?

Yeah, they do neither.

Then what do we hear today?

For an issue that’s supposedly potent against Democrats, Romney’s campaign is declaring a cease fire. This, even as the law polls unfavorably and it proved to be a motivating force for Republicans and disaffected independents in the 2010 midterms.

Now on the one side, I have some sympathy, since the following paragraph touts what I’ve been recommending – don’t get distracted:

It’s becoming clear that Romney has decided to focus on the economy at the expense of everything else, even issues that could play to his political benefit. He’s avoided criticizing the administration’s handling of the botched Fast and Furious operation, even as it threatens to become a serious vulnerability for the president. He’s been silent in responding to Obama’s immigration executive order, not wanting to offend receptive Hispanics or appear like a flip-flopper.

Got it.  But let’s not put blinders on.  The health care tax (and don’t let them get away with calling it  anything else) and Fast and Furious are political gold.  You don’t have to necessarily concentrate on them, but let’s see a little multi-tasking, for heaven sake.  Use them even as the campaign concentrates on the economy. You don’t freakin’ call “cease fires” in politics on issues in which all the rounds are outbound toward your opponent.

This is about broken promises (flip-flopping in some cases – remember when candidate Obama argued against imposing a mandate?) and new taxes.  Two very unpopular issues in politics (oh, and for the Republicans agreeing with the administration that the mandate isn’t a tax – STFU, will you?)

Finally, those two charts are something the Romney campaign should have as a part of just about everything they release.  They disallow dissembling by the administration.  It’s a tax, it’s going to begin to hit in 2014 and it is a tax on the middle class.

Use it often and relentlessly.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Was “Fast and Furious” a government plot to increase gun control?

We’ve been asking about that since the scandal first came to light months and months ago on the podcast and on the blog.  Usually not given to conspiracy theories, we’ve found it hard to justify the operation otherwise.  The recent use of executive privilege by the President seems to lend credence to the assertion/theory.

At least in this case, It appears where there’s smoke there may be fire.  And both Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley have spoken out on the notion:

But the suggestion by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that the deadly operation was conceived to advance the administration’s gun-control agenda is quite plausible.

"Here’s the real answer as to gun control," Issa said on ABC’s "This Week": "We have email from people involved in this that are talking about using what they’re finding here to support the — basically assault weapons — ban or greater reporting."

Issa was asked about the possible connection after comments he made at an NRA convention. "Could it be," he said on NRA News’ "Cam & Company" program, "that what they really were thinking of was in fact to use this walking of guns in order to promote an assault weapons ban? Many think so. And they haven’t come up with an explanation that would cause any of us not to agree."

Grassley is less oblique about it:

According to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, "There’s plenty of evidence developing that the administration planned to use the tragedies of Fast and Furious as rationale to further their goals of a long gun reporting requirement."

In fact, they’ve already cranked up the reporting requirements:

As Issa noted on "This Week," the Department of Justice announced on April 25, 2011, "right in the middle of the scandal," that it was requiring some 8,500 gun stores in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico to report individual purchases of multiple rifles of greater than .22 caliber by law-abiding American citizens to the ATF because such guns are "frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest border."

Of course every one of the multiple sales that contributed to the guns that went into Mexico were okayed by the ATF. And don’t forget the prelude to all of this:  the use of a discredited study that supplied the justification for an attempt to increase gun control:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the administration had been pushing the discredited line that 90% of guns seized in Mexico came from the U.S. as justification for stricter gun laws and reporting rules.

But of course, it’s all really nothing more than a logical assertion or theory at the moment since the misnamed Department of Justice won’t release key documents as legally and rightfully demanded by Congress (in the execution of its Constitutional duty of oversight) and the President of the United States is aiding and abetting this avoidance of DoJ’s legal duties.

Reinstating the assault gun ban and tightening gun control are undeniable goals of the liberal left.  There’s no denying that.  But to summarily do it would be politically disastrous and they know that as well.  So there has to be a pretext, a reason for it.  What better pretext than the death of hundreds of Mexicans at the hands of guns smuggled in from the US coupled with the false 90% stat?  Convenient, no?

Obviously it wasn’t supposed to leak out that the Federal government ordered it or, I’d guess, see 2 Federal agents be murdered as a result of their operation.

What could be worse than turning over the documents requested by Congress?

Something like this coming to light.

Look for the Obama administration to do whatever is necessary to delay, deny and obfuscate for 4 months on this.

But if this is true, and if Obama is fortunate enough to be re-elected, it may end up being a very short second term.  There are scandals presidents can survive and then there are those they can’t survive.

This would be, or at least should be, one that isn’t survivable.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 24Jun 12

This week, Bruce and Dale talk about the President’s Fast & Furious executive Privilege claim.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


With the options available, why did Obama choose to invoke executive privilege?

That, at least to me, is the pregnant question.  He had a number of other options but  4 months from a critical election, chose the most controversial and potentially damaging one.

Why?

Let’s begin with a quote from  a former White House counsel from a Powerline post:

Even with his fawning press, [President Obama] will pay a price for this one. He knows this, meaning that the documents now to be withheld must be dynamite. They have to show either that Holder knew what was going on with Fast and Furious and approved it, or that he directly committed perjury in his Congressional testimony, or both. I just can’t see any other explanation for such a risky move.

Wasn’t the Washington Post just covering big time the 40th anniversary of Watergate? I wonder how much coverage this one will get.

That’s the result of the move – speculation that the documents being withheld point to perjury by Holder or the President, or both.

So let’s break this down a bit.  If it was all about Holder, why would the president risk this sort of a controversial move this close to an election.  It’s not like he’s never thrown anyone under the bus.  In fact James Carville is on record advising Obama to dump Holder.

Obama had the option, then, of letting Holder face contempt charges (not much happens as we’ve seen in the past, to those who are served with contempt of Congress charges) and drag out the document release until after the election.

With the election season gearing up, it is likely that while the controversy would have been an issue, it wouldn’t have been a major issue.   Now it certainly is.

He could have asked Holder to resign.  He could have then used the opportunity to appear as a statesman, a leader and bi-partisan all in one fell swoop.  Depending on how he handled that it could actually have been a positive for him heading into an election.  In the meantime, an acting AG could continue to delay on providing documents.

But he did neither of those things.  For some unknown reason (at least to this point) he chose to do the least likely and most politically damaging thing – invoke executive privilege.  As the lawyer quoted has said, those documents must be “dynamite” to have the president make this move.

And, unsaid by the lawyer is the speculation that the documents show the involvement of the White House to a degree that is damaging – apparently more damaging than the speculation and attention this move by the President has brought.

David Kopel at Volokh Conspiracy gives you a great history of the controversy.  As for the documents Kopel notes:

According to Attorney General Holder, the DOJ has 140,000 documents related to Fast & Furious. Fewer than 8,000 have been provided to Congress pursuant to subpoenas. The contempt vote has been narrowed to 1,300 documents. In refusing to comply with the House subpoenas, the DOJ has refused to create a privilege log–which would identify withheld documents, and the legal reason for their being withheld.

Matthew Boyle at the DC caller points out that Holder has retracted two previous statements he made to Congress where he gave them inaccurate information in an attempt to blame previous AGs or administrations.  It seems that’s a standard operating procedure with all parts of this administration.  So Holder is left holding the bag all by himself on this one, or so it seemed, at least, to the point that executive privilege was invoked.

That brings us to these 4 point by Todd Gaziano at the Heritage Foundation about the use of executive privilege:

First, the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon (1974) held that executive privilege cannot be invoked at all if the purpose is to shield wrongdoing. The courts held that Nixon’s purported invocation of executive privilege was illegitimate, in part, for that reason. There is reason to suspect that this might be the case in the Fast and Furious cover-up and stonewalling effort. Congress needs to get to the bottom of that question to prevent an illegal invocation of executive privilege and further abuses of power. That will require an index of the withheld documents and an explanation of why each of them is covered by executive privilege—and more.

Second, even the “deliberative process” species of executive privilege, which is reasonably broad, does not shield the ultimate decisions from congressional inquiry. Congress is entitled to at least some documents and other information that indicate who the ultimate decision maker was for this disastrous program and why these decisions were made. That information is among the most important documents that are being withheld.

Third, the Supreme Court in the Nixon case also held that even a proper invocation must yield to other branches’ need for information in some cases. So even a proper invocation of executive privilege regarding particular documents is not final.

And lastly, the President is required when invoking executive privilege to try to accommodate the other branches’ legitimate information needs in some other way. For example, it does not harm executive power for the President to selectively waive executive privilege in most instances, even if it hurts him politically by exposing a terrible policy failure or wrongdoing among his staff. The history of executive–congressional relations is filled with accommodations and waivers of privilege. In contrast to voluntary waivers of privilege, Watergate demonstrates that wrongful invocations of privilege can seriously damage the office of the presidency when Congress and the courts impose new constraints on the President’s discretion or power (some rightful and some not).

The key point, of course, is executive privilege cannot be used to “shield wrongdoing”.  While it is speculative, it appears highly likely – given the other options available – that executive privilege is being used for precisely that reason in this case.

Additionally, given the choices available to the President, it is not at all out of bounds to speculate that the most transparent administration in history is trying desperately to hide something even more terrible than the political fallout from this choice.

The White House cites internal discussions and ongoing investigations are the reason for its denial and claims the investigations would be jeopardized with the release of the documents.  But, as Gaziano points out, accommodations can be made in that regard.  The total number of documents requested is 1,300.  The White House is simply refusing to cooperate or accommodate.

Why?

We’re still left with that question.  

And the answer, given the  actions to date, lead to some logical speculation – what is contained in those documents is much more damaging politically than the damage done by the decision.  Additionally, Obama can’t afford to let Holder go because if he does there’s the potential that Holder will then spill the beans.

Oh, and finally, this move has suddenly brought Fast and Furious to page one and the top of the newscast like nothing else could.  The majority of the country, which was mostly ignorant of this scandal are now in the loop.

As the cited former White House counsel said, “the documents now to be withheld must be dynamite.”  In fact, they must be so explosive that the White House is desperate enough to try to weather this self-inflicted political storm in lieu of exposing them.

That says a lot.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet