Mining Cole for Answers on IRS
In two weeks, the Senate will be taking a long break -- from what, no one really knows. Thanks to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the chamber has been in perpetual siesta, only stirrings from their slumber just long enough to stage a meaningless crusade for “free” birth control, which most women already have.
Unfortunately for the President’s party, the Democrats’ lazy strategy may not have the happy ending they were hoping for. With the clock running out on the summer session, Reid’s chamber will be heading home to voters anxious to know why their leaders didn’t deal with the crises at hand -- on the border, in the Middle East, and with the economy.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), one of the main sponsors behind the push to re-impose the government mandate that trampled the religious beliefs of employers, is already feeling the heat from ignoring America’s real priorities. A Quinnipiac poll sent a warning to every liberal thinking the “war on women” mantra would save them in November. After launching his contraception-abortifacient push, Colorado’s incumbent started dipping in the polls. Asked how they would grade their Senator, voters gave Udall “his lowest net approval ever,” saying 49%-40% that he “does not deserve to be reelected.”
If this were a congressional-wide dysfunction, Americans might understand. But it’s not. While the Senate crawls along, the House has been hard at work -- passing 418 bills to the Senate’s 211. As of today, Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) chamber had signed seven appropriations bills. The Senate? Zero.
And it isn’t as if the House had less to do. The White House’s scandal factory continues to pump out PR fiascos, burying government investigators -- and House Committees -- in work. One of those Committees, Oversight and Government Reform, called the Justice Department to the carpet for dragging its feet on the IRS probe. Despite having every government resource at its disposal, even the DOJ claims it didn’t know basic details about the conservative targeting scandal. After investigating the IRS for more than a year, Deputy Attorney General James Cole claimed he didn’t know about the office’s disappearing emails until the media reported it. “I think we learned about it after that, from press accounts.”
That stunned Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who was under the impression that the Justice Department was on top of the case it was supposedly handling. “Does it not concern you that your exhaustive investigation didn’t uncover the missing emails?” Congressman Meadows asked. “Should we be concerned that your investigation is not exhaustive?” Obviously, liberals, who argued there was no need for a special prosecutor, were mistaken. Asked how many subpoenas had been issued, Cole told Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), “I don’t know an exact number, but I wouldn’t tell you if I did.”
What a spirit of cooperation! Even Democrats like Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) are troubled by the DOJ’s refusal to cooperate. The full Committee, Cartwright pressed, “wants to know what happened to those missing emails -- all of us.” “This is about the violation of your most fundamental right,” fumed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), “your right to speak out in a political fashion against your government, and that was systematically targeted by this administration. And that’s flat-out wrong.” Cole didn’t appreciate the insinuation that his department wasn’t taking the investigation seriously. “The amount of integrity [at the DOJ] is astounding,” Cole insisted. This from an office led by the only sitting Attorney General to be held in contempt of Congress. “I know,” Cole went on, “that they will follow the facts wherever they lead and apply the law to those facts.” Applying the law? That’d be a first.
Meanwhile, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and other liberals insist the GOP is holding these hearings to score political points (which is what they argue whenever Republicans ask for the facts.) “This is the latest example of Republicans desperately searching for a scandal,” Cummings said. Mr. Cummings, under this President, no searching is required!
Masterpiece Theater: Cake Drama Continues in Colorado
If you think Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakes will give in to homosexual bullies, then you don’t know Jack. Jack Phillips, the owner of another Christian bakery under attack, is refusing to cave to the state’s ridiculous demands after he turned down an order for a same-sex “wedding” cake. With help from our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, the baker and his family are fighting Colorado’s order that he check his religious beliefs at the door of his business and participate in the same-sex “marriages” Christianity rejects.
“Americans should not be forced by the government -- or by another citizen -- to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said attorney Nicholle Martin. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”
For now, the case heads to the Colorado Court of Appeals where Jack and ADF will battle for the religious freedoms the Supreme Court just upheld for companies like Hobby Lobby. “If a couple were to come in and ask me to do an erotic cake for a wedding, I would refuse to do that as well. These are my personal standards taken from Jesus Christ and the Bible.” Good for Jack. He’s a living example of what the apostle Paul calls Christians to do in the face of persecution: stand. You can’t win if you don’t fight, and thank goodness ADF and the Phillips are.
Holden out Hope to Stop Activists in Baton Rouge
The LGBT population may be just 2.3%, as government data recently pointed out, but it seems to get 100% of some government leaders’ attention. Just days after the CDC exposed how small the homosexual community is, some elected officials are still moving forward with policies that will cost the religious freedoms of a large portion of the other 97.7%. In my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mayor Kip Holden is pushing the city council to put important issues on the backburner to debate a non-existent problem.
Like Houston, San Antonio, and other cities, Baton Rouge is weighing a special “non-discrimination” ordinance that in actuality give special rights to certain people based upon their sexual behavior. Fortunately, the Louisiana Family Forum is on the move to counter the proposal, but it will take engaged citizens in to beat back this attack on religious liberty. Like several other regions, Baton Rouge’s housing, employment, and commerce decisions would give preference to people based on their “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
Affirming homosexuality through these local ordinances is part of the national agenda of the Left. Across the country, the religious freedom of Christians has been violated by proposals just like this one that order people to engage in activities that violate their moral beliefs. And it’s all being done not based upon quantifiable evidence of a problem, but rather to cater to a small but politically connected group that has become a major source of campaign cash. It’s time for the church to wake up and understand what liberals already do: that when it comes to transforming the culture, it’s not the quantity of those engaged, but rather the quality of the commitment that counts.
** Speaking of Hill testimony, the House Subcommittee on Africa has officially scheduled a hearing on the troubling case of Sudan’s Meriam Ibrahim. Next Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., Chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) has invited me to speak to the crisis of this small family and religious liberty abroad.
** For more on the Democrats’ failed abortion-birth control strategy, check out FRC’s latest columns from Ken Blackwell, “The Blumenthal Kill-Them-Later-and-Later Bill” in Townhall and Arina Grossu’s “The Real War on Women” piece, also on Townhall.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.