Bolder than Holder: Cruz Demands Answers from DOJ
For once, Eric Holder is conducting an investigation instead of being the subject of one. Even that's proving to be a tall task for the U.S. Attorney General, whose agency can't seem to put aside its political motives long enough to give conservatives a fair shake. And while accountability isn't exactly the motto of this Justice Department, Congress at least expected a pretense of concern over the very serious allegations of conservative targeting at the IRS.
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Attorney General Holder feigned interest as he listened to members rant about the DOJ's indifference over one of the most shocking scandals to hit the IRS in modern history. It's "astonishing," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of Holder's lack of urgency. Despite stacks of evidence dating back to 2010, DOJ has yet to hold anyone accountable for the high-level shakedown of tea party groups applying for nonprofit status.
"In the 280 days since that inspector general report, nobody has been indicted. Not a single person. In the 280 days since that inspector general report, it's been publicly reported that no indictments are planned. Today in this hearing, you were unwilling to answer a question whether even a single victim of targeting has been interviewed," Cruz scolded. "Two hundred and eighty days have passed and apparently the anger and outrage that both the President and you expressed has utterly disappeared." Holder shrugged off the insinuation that the investigation was being conducted with the same bias as the original targeting. He insisted the probe was above board and that there was no need for the special prosecutor Cruz called for. "[I know this] by looking at the facts, applying the law to the facts and reaching the appropriate conclusions."
That's hardly a comfort to conservatives, who know that there are two things Eric Holder rarely considers: the law or the facts. The IRS's viewpoint suppression, which can be traced all the way to senior management, aimed to shut down the President's opposition by holding back the groups' application for nonprofit status. One of the victims, True the Vote's Catherine Engelbrecht, said her organization was run through the gauntlet, with agents asking "hundreds of questions over and over again. "They requested to see each and every tweet I've ever tweeted or Facebook post I've ever posted. They also asked to know every place I've ever spoken since our inception and to whom, and everywhere I intend to speak in the future." The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and Occupational Safety Hazards Administration all started snooping around, followed by surprise audits of the family's business.
And according to Cruz, none of this was a coincidence -- not with a generous Obama supporter at the helm. "[I]t has not been publicly reported that the lead lawyer heading the investigation was, No. 1, appointed from the civil rights division, which has historically been the most politically charged division in the Department of Justice. And even more astonishingly, is a major Democratic donor and donor to President Obama."
Knowing this, Cruz asked, was the DOJ taking a closer look at the meetings between the head of the IRS and White House operatives? As if on cue, Holder clammed up, insisting he couldn't discuss an ongoing investigation. Either way, Cruz went on, the DOJ's integrity has been "severely compromised." That's putting it mildly, considering Fast and Furious, Holder's defiance of marriage law, pornography laws, marijuana laws, gambling laws, and his own shame of being held in contempt of Congress -- which, at this point, is nothing compared to the public's contempt.
House Questions M.O. of E.O.
If religious liberty isn't a problem in the military, you wouldn't know it by the number of people in yesterday's House hearing. According to Armed Services Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the members' attendance was record-breaking, as people packed the room to debate what the Left insists is a non-issue. After months of complaints from service members, Wednesday's hearing was the first opportunity members have had to question the Defense Department publicly about the military's war on religious liberty.
And while the discussion touched on several subjects -- from grooming standards to turbans -- leaders pressed hardest on the cases of anti-Christian harassment. From the attacks on prayer to the DOD's definition of extremism, members criticized the Obama Pentagon's disregard -- or worse, outright hostility -- toward Christians in the ranks. "We know of instances where Christians have been reprimanded for statements as simple as [expressing their faith in Jesus Christ]," said Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). Congressman Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) added his concerns about the wave of anti-Christmas political correctness at Camp Shelby. But after each episode, Nunnelee said, "We get the same answer we continually get, and that is, 'This is an isolated incident, it will not happen again.'" Interestingly enough, DOD and branch chiefs of chaplains claimed they hadn't heard of service members or chaplains being restricted in their faith -- which contradicts what members of Congress have heard and what FRC and other groups are hearing directly from service members. At that point, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) directed the DOD to FRC's "Clear and Present Danger" report, documenting the cases of abuse. "I'm disappointed that we don't have General Boykin and others who can actually tell us about this [problem]," he said.
Fortunately, the Committee did have the benefit of General Boykin's written testimony, which FRC submitted into the official congressional record. In one of the more interesting moments of the hearing, Rep. Rob Wittman pointedly asked if the Pentagon still considers the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) a reliable source and whether the group (which was officially tied to a case of domestic terrorism in federal court last year) still had input on training materials for Defense's Equal Opportunity institute. Virginia Penrod, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, said she didn't know but promised to look into the matter. Based on the members' interest, she'll have ample time to update the House, since conservatives plan on hosting a series of hearings to delve deeper into the problem. That itself is a big step toward victory on religious freedom.
Steny Hoyer: The Women's Lib?
Just when you thought Democrats couldn't sink any lower, the House's Minority Whip, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) launched his own war on women -- or, more specifically, a woman: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). The Washington State Republican was chosen by GOP leaders to give her party's response to the President's State of the Union address Tuesday night -- a selection Hoyer called "transparent." "I think the Republican Party knows full well they are not a very diverse party, whether you look down on the conventions or down from the gallery of the House of Representatives or the United StatesSenate... [S]o when they get the opportunity to project some diversity, they want to take it. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a very pleasant person... She gives a good appearance [and] she speaks well." Hoyer's comments were shockingly sexist for a party that insists it speaks for all women.
As our own Connie Mackey pointed out, leaders like Cathy McMorris Rodgers are the ones speaking truth to power. They're the ones promoting life, freedom, and family -- and in so doing, reflecting the majority of women in America. So when liberal MSNBC hosts, who think they've cornered the market on feminism, tweet, "Living room. Lady on a settee. Where's the needlepoint?" -- look out. That kind of condescension is sure to backfire among Americans who judged McMorris Rodgers's response -- not based on gender, but merit. And speaking of transparent, what about the Democrats' motives for suddenly embracing the military? President Obama put a wounded warrior on display in the gallery on Tuesday when his own record has done nothing but undermine brave men like Cory Remsburg. Who's playing political games now?
** Do taxpayer dollars really impact abortion rates? FRC's Emily Minick is sure of it. Check out her Christian Post op-ed, "Government Funding Increases Use of a Product or Service: Abortion Is No Different." Also, don't miss Ken Blackwell's column, "President Obama: Mr. Inequality" in the Christian Post.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.