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The American Public and Other Slow Lerners

Rarely do we offer any kind words to any Democrats, but we’re obliged to acknowledge those six brave members of that damnable party who joined a House of Representatives majority in citing Lois Lerner for contempt of Congress on Wednesday. A remarkable 26 Democrats went so far as to vote for petitioning the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to investigate Lerner, and we suppose they also deserve some credit for their half-assed acknowledgement that there’s something seriously afoul in the Internal Revenue Service scandal.
The unanimous righteous indignation of the House’s Republican caucus was sufficient to cite Lerner, who headed the department of the IRS that was targeting conservative non-profit groups for punitive scrutiny and delays, and who has since invoked her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid any questions regarding her claim in Congressional testimony that she has broken no laws, but it’s nice to have at least a few Democrats agreeing that it all sounds mighty fishy. We don’t know any of those six Democrats, described by the ladies and gentlemen of The Washington Post as a “band of moderates and others facing difficult reelection challenges,” but we’ll generously assume that they’re genuinely outraged on First Amendment principles that the IRS was used to harass the president’s political opponents. Those 26 who settled for asking for a look into the matter by the Attorney General, who has also been held in contempt of Congress for failure to answer pertinent questions about the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, can at least be credited with a sense of political self-preservation. The vast majority of the Democrats unified behind the it’s-all-a-racist-Republican-plot position of ranking House Oversight Committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings, although former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi had to miss the vote because of a fund-raising engagement, so even the most tepid dissent suggests a worry that the public will eventually be outraged an iron-fisted assault on the free expression of American citizens, no matter how unfashionable their notions about balanced budgets and limited government might be.
Those 26 weasel votes for a special counsel might even be enough to give a veneer of bipartisanship to the much-needed investigation. and thus assure its rightful place before the public’s attention. They bolstered a vote that puts Lerner is serious legal peril, no matter how indifferent the president’s Justice Department might be, and added to the pressure for her to avoid a potential long prison sentencing by implicating any higher-ups that were involved. Given how how very high-up Lerner was, the testimony she doesn’t want to give could be significant.

— Bud Norman

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New Details on an Old Scandal

Now is the perfect time for it, if you’re hoping to spare the Obama administration any further embarrassment, but there have been even more revelations about the Internal Revenue service’s targeting of conservative groups.
Although it was not widely noticed in the midst of all the post-Zimmerman racial hysteria, a report in the impeccably mainstream Washington Post puts the scandal as high up as the agency’s presidentially-appointed chief counsel and close enough to the administration that the paper is obliged to note that “No evidence so far has definitively linked the White House to the agency’s actions.” Even without all the Zimmerman hubbub you might have missed a story in Accounting Today, a web site for certified public accounts and anyone with an interest in certified public accountancy, which reports that the tax records of donors to conservative candidates and organizations were illegally made public.
Both stories are worth noting, even with a riveting racial morality play on the other pages, but much of the press would probably find some reason to underplay them in any circumstances. Using the IRS to harass political enemies was one of the articles of impeachment brought against President Richard Nixon, even though no evidence so far has definitely linked the White House to the agency’s actions, and prospect of the agency’s unbridled powers being used to squash dissent is no less serious today.
There’s a lot going in the world, including the Justice Department’s efforts to limit the citizenry’s right to self-defense in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, and much of it deserves the public’s close scrutiny. The IRS scandal certainly merits more attention, and more outrage, that it has lately been getting.

— Bud Norman