May 31, 2012

Eric Holder plays the panic card

I'm Alright Jack.

I guess it could be classified as a sub-category of the race card.  Eric Holder is busy ginning up fear among African American pastors in order to gin up fear among African American voters that their right to vote is under attack by conservative boogymen.

Via Politico;
Attorney General Eric Holder told a council of African American church leaders Wednesday that the "sacred" right to vote is under assault nationwide, with federal lawsuits and at least a dozen state laws that could hinder - or block – minorities’ access to the ballot box this fall.

"In my travels across this country, I’ve heard a consistent drumbeat of concern from citizens, who – often for the first time in their lives – now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation’s most noble ideals,” Holder said in a speech before the Council of Black Churches. The threats of legal assaults and lingering discrimination, he added, means that “some of the achievements that defined the civil rights movement now hang in the balance.”

As if to underscore the point, however, a voting rights group is worried that Holder and the Justice Department aren’t acting quickly enough to stop Florida’s Republican governor from continuing a purge of registered voters from the state’s rolls because they lack proof of U.S. citizenship.
Not only is that a spurious argument regarding voter disenfranchisement, both Holder and the Politico piece completely ignore the questionable tactic of getting churches to preach politics.  As Rush Limbaugh points out, they are doing an end run around IRS rules:
Representative Emanuel Cleaver (Democrat-Missouri), said, quote, "We will have representatives from nine denominations who actually pastor somewhere in the neighborhood of about 10 million people, and we’re going to first of all equip them with the information they need to know about what they can say and what they cannot say in the church that would violate their 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. In fact, we’re going to have the IRS administrator there, we’re going to have the Attorney General Eric Holder there, we’re going to have the lawyers’ organization from around the country, the ACLU -- all giving ministers guidance about what they can and cannot do."

They're gonna tell 'em just how close they can get to the line. They're probably gonna tell 'em how they can jump over the line a couple times. What's funny about this is Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson. These guys fund-raise from the pulpit! They pass the plate for campaign donations from the pulpit. It's been reported, but nobody does anything about it because nobody's got the guts to. Who wants to criticize black churches for being engaged in politics?

Churches get involved in politics fairly regularly.  Some churches do at least - remember Jeremiah Wright?  There's certainly a line there somewhere that is not supposed to be crossed, but note that some leeway is intentionally allowed for whatever reason.  That's not the real issue.  The real issue is that the Attorney General of the United States is out there trying to smudge whatever that line already is by pressing it as much as he can, for purely partisan political reasons.  You don't think he's blurring it?  Forget for a second about how far away from this a responsible Attorney General would stay from this sort of activity.  Go instead back to the intention of Holder being there in the first place.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver, whose Congressional Black Caucus, says quite plainly what his little project is all about.
Cleaver said they would not tell pastors which candidate to support. They will let them know who to regard as the bad guys, though (hint: not Democrats).

“President Obama is going to get 95 percent of the [African American] vote,” and wants to keep that turnout high.
And using the Attorney General of the United States and the IRS to directly do that constitutes multiple violations of the Hatch Act. The most obvious one is this:
May not knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of anyone who has business pending before their employing office.
Every one of these churches (and the churches not getting the special “advice,” for that matter), by virtue of their tax exempt status, perpetually has business pending before the IRS. That’s what makes this particular and blatant partisan encouragement of black churches to pontificate on policy so egregious.
Never heard of the Hatch Act? It would seem not only are those pastors at risk, under the Hatch Act, Holder himself may be crossing that line.  Don't worry though liberals, everyone seems to be afraid to raise concerns about it.  No complaint, no foul.  With it looking lately like Mitt Romney has some electoral momentum, conservatives may not care as much about this as they otherwise would, but they should.  Eric Holder has consistently displayed a preference for liberal agenda over legal scrutability in his decisions.  Either we stand on principle, or we just allow the notion of the rule of law to slowly evaporate bit by painful bit.  Personally, I prefer the former course of action.  That means Holder must be taken to task for these actions, as well as others like his role in the Fast and Furious scandal.  The same goes for those ministers who would simply do his bidding.

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