Dance Video Shows off IRS Boogie Men
The IRS isn't exactly waltzing away with your tax dollars -- but almost. A new video released by the House Ways and Means Committee shows that the IRS wasn't too busy attacking conservatives to cut a rug. The incriminating footage, taken during the agency's Anaheim conference, shows employees enjoying taxpayer-funded dance lessons. When they weren't perfecting the "Cupid shuffle," conferees were kicking back in their presidential suites, taking in baseball games, or sipping government-sponsored cocktails. (According to one probe, the IRS overpaid on hotel rooms in exchange for perks like sports tickets and drink vouchers.)
The damning evidence, the latest in a steady stream, is only part of the Treasury Inspector General's findings. Sources say he's set to release a new report of IRS indiscretions, "Collected and Wasted: The IRS Spending Culture and Conference Abuses," that will make Americans' heads spin (and hopefully, IRS heads roll). Apart from its $60,000 Star Trek parodies (which the IRS apologized for three years after the fact), the agency is said to have spent more than $49 million on 220 conferences between 2010-2012 (the same years the IRS was engaging in systematic viewpoint harassment).
To the irritation of House leaders, this was also when the IRS was crying poor over tax enforcement. Congressional appropriators, Politico reports, will be even more annoyed because they've heard for two years that "tax cheats will get off scot-free unless [the IRS's] budget is beefed up." All the more reason these lavish taxpayer-funded getaways "should not have occurred," said Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.
No kidding, fired back Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a subcommittee chairman for House Ways and Means. The agency seems to be where "abuse and waste is the norm and not the exception," he said. "Whether it is the tens of thousands of hard-earned taxpayer dollars spent to produce frivolous entertainment for agency bureaucrats, or the IRS's own admission that it targeted the American people based on their personal beliefs, the outrage toward the IRS is only growing stronger."
And that outrage goes well beyond the IRS's taxpayer-funded conga lines. Last week, we learned that agency ex-commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the Obama White House 150 times in 2010 and 2011. (President Bush met with Shulman's predecessor once in four years.) While the administration insists that those meetings were to discuss ObamaCare, the idea that the IRS's conspiracy against conservatives never came up seems a little ridiculous. After all, Ed Morrissey points out, the scandal involved at least 88 employees -- a far cry from the "few low-level" workers the IRS originally estimated.
Meanwhile, the controversies haven't exactly made the IRS more responsive. Two congressional committees are still waiting for answers to their questions (41 in the case of the Senate Finance Committee). Apparently, the IRS takes taxpayers' deadlines very seriously, but not their own. Agency employees missed the House's due date on May 21, and then refused to turn over documents on time to Senate Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). "This is an agency that revolves around making the American taxpayer meet hard deadlines each and every year when they file their taxes, oftentimes penalizing those that are late. The IRS needs to do much better."
In my opinion, the IRS is beyond repair. It's time to abolish the agency as we know it and reform the U.S. tax structure. Check out my new op-ed, "With the IRS, It's Your Money and Your Life" on Fox to read why.
Air Force Takes Atheists under Its Wings
If the military isn't taking orders from the secular Left, you could have fooled us. Last month, the Pentagon denied its relationship with anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein only to turn around and prove how strong their ties are. On Friday, the Air Force removed an "inspirational" painting from the Mountain Home AFB less than an hour after Weinstein complained.
Far from the "overt display of Christian nationalism" Weinstein called it, the picture included a "Matthew 5:9" reference (which, ironically, was about "peacemakers"). After he was tipped off by a "disturbed" Airman, Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation called the Pentagon and demanded it be removed. It was, in record time. Weinstein brags that it took the Air Force "56 minutes" to respond to his complaint and tear down the painting.
If only the Pentagon were that responsive to Congress! Three weeks ago, House leaders sent -- not one, but two -- letters to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel demanding answers to the Pentagon's new hostility toward religion. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) fired off the first one, questioning the Pentagon's judgment in accepting a meeting with Weinstein considering his vicious public statements. Fifty-nine congressmen "respectfully request[ed] clarification on the nature of the meeting and detailed information regarding: [the meeting(s)' participants, goals, plans for future collaboration]." As of this morning, they've received nothing. Nor have the 56 House Republicans and Democrats asked Secretary Hagel for "the names of all organizations you are consulting in drafting regulations to comply with the [National Defense Authorization Act] and the date by which you expect to have the regulations [upholding] conscience protections."
Apparently, five dozen congressmen don't command the same respect as a single fringe militant, who has publicly Christian witnessing to "spiritual rape." What's more, Fox News's Todd Starnes reports, a wing commander at Mountain Home promised to make a sweep of the installation to "rid the base of anything else like what had been hanging in the dining hall." So the next time the Pentagon says Weinstein doesn't influence their decisions, who are you going to believe?
In Illinois, Redefining Marriage No Cake Walk
In Illinois, redefining marriage was supposed to be a walk in the park. Homosexual activists had plenty of money, support from the media and outside groups, and the distinction of being the home state of the first President ever to endorse same-sex "marriage." In the end, even those advantages couldn't compete with a massive movement from the state's pastors -- who joined together across racial and denomination lines to sink a bill destined for passage.
Thanks to the Illinois Family Institute, which poured its blood, sweat, and tears into defeating the measure, there was an unprecedented army of opposition to the bill. Pastors' breakfasts, press conferences, and meetings helped pull together a fierce coalition from every corner of Illinois -- ultimately killing a bill that should have been a sure thing in a country that was supposedly racing to embrace homosexual "marriage." Black, Hispanic, Asian, Catholic, and evangelical church leaders were overwhelmingly engaged, speaking from the pulpit, sponsoring robo-calls, and even threatening primary challengers for any leader voting "yes."
The LGBT lobby, who assumed their bullying would have the same effect on these legislators as it's had in other states, were completely blindsided by the churches' powerful resistance. On Friday, while the Left was preparing for a victory lap, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), tearfully announced on the last day of the session that he didn't have the votes to bring the bill to the floor.
For our side, which has had its share of setbacks, it was a reminder of what can be accomplished when we stand together. Illinois voters refused to buy the line that same-sex "marriage" is inevitable -- and because of their courage, it wasn't! Join us in congratulating the Illinois Family Institute and the hundreds of pastors who stood their ground on marriage! It was a victory well-deserved, and more than that, a success story every state can learn from.
Boy Scouts 'Uniformly' Rejecting Group's Roots
Meanwhile, if you're wondering what happens in an organization that doesn't have leadership or moral courage, look no farther than the Boy Scouts of America. After the BSA knuckled under to activists' demands, the effects are already starting to show. As FRC predicted, it took no time at all for the influence of the radical Left to seep into a group that now openly celebrates homosexual boys. On Sunday, in an act of defiance, Boy Scouts and adult volunteers marched in Utah's gay pride parade -- even after its chief scout executive said it violated the organization's rules. Members of a troop chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ignored the council's guidance and put their "gay pride" on full display -- and in their Scout uniforms.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the BSA headquarters, tried to distance the organization from the troop by saying that "these individuals do not represent Scouting." But after last month's vote, they certainly seem to.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.