The Trouble with Barack's Barracks
It must have taken a lot of restraint for America's top military leaders to sit through yesterday's Senate hearing on sexual assault and never say the one thing on everyone's minds: "We told you so." A little over two years ago, the same Senate ignored the warnings of many of the men assembled Tuesday and charged ahead with its repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" against the military's advice. Now, a year and half into this post-DADT era, these Senators demand to know why sexual attacks are through the roof.
Isn't it obvious? The Pentagon downplayed the effects of open homosexuality when it was implemented in 2011 -- something it will have a tough time doing now, with the rate of male-on-male assaults at a record high. While the media rightly highlights the female victims, the Pentagon's 1,400-page report explains that service men are just as affected -- if not more so. According to the Defense Department's own numbers, military men suffered 2,000 more sexual attacks than their female counterparts in 2012, the first full year that open homosexuality was tolerated. All together, "unwanted sexual conduct" climbed to 26,000 cases (up from 19,000 in 2010) -- a 37% spike in two years. And some believe that's a low estimate -- in part because men are so reluctant to report abuse, especially from other men.
Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said a "focus" of the assault office "is specifically geared toward male survivors and will include why male survivors report at much lower rates than female survivors..." Unfortunately, most are victims -- not just of assault, but of this new sexually-charged environment. And while the military could certainly do a better job of cracking down on abuse, lawmakers are blasting service chiefs for a problem that, in many ways, they helped create! Senators like Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), for example, led the charge to overturn DADT -- and then spent yesterday's hearing complaining about the result.
Of course, the liberal members of the Armed Services Committee were careful to dance around the same-sex assault issue, but there's no mistaking the elephant in the room. The White House has spent Barack Obama's entire presidency sexualizing the military, beginning with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that when Congress made sexual attraction a qualification for military service -- on par with academic performance, community service, physical fitness, or moral standing -- it radically altered America's fighting force.
Either Senate liberals are either naive (which I doubt) or just covering their tracks. It should be fairly obvious to anyone that when you sexualize the military, you invite more sexual behavior -- including sexual abuse. Air Force General Mark Welsh admitted as much yesterday when he compared the spread of violence to a "cancer." In part, Army General (and Joint Chiefs Chair) Martin Dempsey acknowledged because the armed forces "allow, albeit unwittingly, some people with histories of sexual bad acts to enlist and serve." "Obviously," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) fired back, "we have to fix that."
For now, however, it looks like the military will have relatively no help fixing its most fundamental problem, which Marine General James Amos foreshadowed during his testimony in 2010: "To add any element of sexual competition, sexuality, or hesitance in trust would unquestionably prevent the military bonds--and destroy [them]." Now, that nightmare is the military's reality. And Generals like James Amos watch helplessly as even a single assault "undermine[s] everything that a commanding officer and every Marine in that unit has worked so hard to achieve."
NOMinally Disturbing: The IRS's Attack on Marriage
While the country waits for the next (dancing) shoe to drop in the IRS scandal, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has a simple solution: eliminate the agency altogether. "I think we ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax where the average American can fill out taxes on postcard," he explained in a Fox News interview over the weekend. "Put down how much you earn, put down a deduction for charitable contributions, home mortgage and how much you owe. It ought to be a simple one-page postcard, and take the agents, the bureaucracy out of Washington and limit the power of government." While the call to do away with the IRS is nothing new, it's certainly picked up steam in the last two months, as Congress uncovers more of the agency's wrongdoings.
The most outrageous revelation -- that the IRS targeted conservative groups for harassment -- was fleshed out yesterday in a special House Ways and Means Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.). "At its core, this investigation is about how and why the IRS was empowered and allowed to use a broken tax code to abuse individuals based on their beliefs," Camp said.
Six conservative groups were called to testify -- including our friends at the National Organization for Marriage, whose private donor information was "inadvertently" leaked in the heat of the 2012 campaign. The President's friends at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest homosexual rights group, published the document on its website -- raising many people's suspicions about the IRS's involvement when HRC obscured its source. Among other things, the Left used the information to harass donors and smear Gov. Mitt Romney for his $10,000 contribution. "When group members sought information about the leak of confidential information," NOM Board Chairman John Eastman testified, "they were told by the IRS that the agency could not discuss confidential taxpayer information. I ask you to think about the irony of that," he said.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) shocked everyone by insisting that conservative groups were responsible for their own harassment. To cheers from the crowd, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) criticized him for the insinuation. You are implying that these conservatives "were responsible for the targeting because they chose to apply for tax-exempt status?" He turned to the witnesses and said, "So you are to blame, I guess, is the message here? Do you think you were targeted based on your political beliefs, your religious beliefs, or just because you chose to apply?" "Our beliefs," answered Becky Gerritson. "Our views."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.