The Nevada Progressive has a good title for the subject, “Fast and Frivolous.” Not only was the deportment of the House Republicans mystifying yesterday, but the the entire performance was underpinned by the acceptance of one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories yet propounded. And, Representatives Heck (R-NV3) and Amodei (D-NV2) fell for it.
The core of the Great Conspiracy: “Republicans in Congress are arguing that the Justice Department deliberately allowed the anti-gun trafficking operation to unfold in a way that would create a crisis, outraging the public and giving Democrats the cover to implement stricter gun controls.” [HuffPo]
This head-scratcher probably began with the musings of a militia-type blogger: “Michael Vanderboegh, a blogger with militia ties and a long history of talking up armed resistance to the government, asserts that the ATF purposely let the guns go to the bad guys in Mexico so that, after the ensuing bloodbath, the feds could justify a crackdown on assault weapons and gun shows.” [BaltSun]
Mr. Vanderboegh, and his Sipsy Street Irregulars, the same folks who advocated throwing rocks through the windows of Democratic Party HQ’s after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, published the whacky theory, and made his “information” available to Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Charles Grassley (R-IA). Vanderboegh, a sort of neo-secessionist is better known to the anti-hate investigators of the SPLC:
“Back in the mid-1990s, he wrote a document entitled “Strategy and Tactics for a Militia Civil War” in which he discussed the utility of snipers using “violence carefully targeted and clearly defensive: war criminals, secret policemen, rats (Pitcavage take note).” Mark Pitcavage, a historian, was then running a Web group called The Militia Watchdog and doing some work for police agencies. He is currently the fact-finding director of the antiracist Anti-Defamation League. “
There’s fringe, and then there’s fringe. The “information” enhanced by the capacity of the NRA leadership to believe that a Democratic Administration which has not sought a single piece of legislation even remotely mentioning gun regulation wants to re-institute the assault weapons ban, made its way to Rep. Issa who ran with it in his Government Oversight Committee. This was an unfortunate example of an imaginary cart crashing along behind a galloping crazed horse.
The Vanderboegh Conspiracy has been debunked 21 ways to breakfast. This didn’t prevent the NRA leadership from chiming in:
“This fits in with the broader conspiracy theory of Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association. The NRA boss has insisted that the reason Mr. Obama has done nothing to harm the Second Amendment in his first term is so he can win another four years in office, at which point his administration will start confiscating guns with no fear of retribution from voters. That’s right, according to Mr. LaPierre, President Obama is not taking your guns now so he can take them later.” [BaltSun]
A person might think that rationality alone would be sufficient to stifle this perseveration, but with Fox News treating Vanderboegh as an “expert analyst,” and Chairman Issa treating the theory as lucid in a parallel universe, the upshot is a “vote” taken in the U.S. House of Representatives to hold the Attorney General of the United States in contempt — for shutting down a demonstrably unworkable and ethically questionable program?
What did Nevada Representatives do? As noted by Nevada Progressive, Mr. Amodei and Mr. Heck voted to participate in the Alternative Universe, and declare AG Holder “responsible” for — something. [roll call 441] Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1), functioning in the real world in which the musings of radical right winger Vanderboegh aren’t received wisdom, voted no.
The entire Fast and Furious Conspiracy Theory would be risible if it didn’t result in official sanctions being voted upon by politicians elected to office to engage in serious issues facing the American public. Indeed, the episode reeks of partisanship of the first water, and irrationality of the first order. It would be interesting to know if Representatives Amodei and Heck voted in favor of the contempt citation because they truly believed Mr. Vanderboegh’s ramblings, or only because the NRA was scoring the vote and promising retribution during the campaign season?
One rationale makes them look almost psychotic, and the other rationale makes them appear weak?