Because there's never a bad time to stoke the fires of resentment and anger, Darrell Issa is holding a vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.
Late last week, House Republicans pulled a Chris Christie and released their own report on the so-called "IRS scandal." Among their predictable conclusions: Of course the IRS picked on conservatives over liberals because the IRS is a liberal tool.
Issa is staging this for the benefit of the base, because he knows the one thing he does not want is for Lois Lerner to testify. Having boxed her in a corner, he's now using her choice to exercise her constitutional rights as reason to hold a kangaroo court vote. If she were to testify, she'd blow his entire case out of the water, so it's far better to render her silent and slapped.
The last person to do something like this was McCarthy, during the HUAC hearings. Huffington Post:
But there seems to a serious hitch in the drive to punish Lerner. According the records retrieved by the Congressional Research Service, no American has been successfully prosecuted for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights before Congress.
Congress brought contempt cases 11 times from 1951 to 1968, according the the CRS. Only two of those cases that involved documents -- not personal testimony -- were upheld by the courts.
Most of the cases involved the House Un-American Activities Committee and its communist witch-hunts in the 1950s. But one that is particularly instructive involves a Buffalo, N.Y., woman named Diantha Hoag, who was fired from her factory job after Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) and his Senate Committee on Government Operations accused her of being a communist and she pleaded the Fifth.
That won't stop Issa. We live in times where precedent means nothing, where the end is far more desirable than the means, and where holding a government official in contempt for refusing to incriminate herself is just another day at the office.
This all feeds into the Republican/Fox News/Wall Street Journal/talk radio/blog “scandal machine.” For example, the Wall Street Journal today has this “story” today, “GOP Report on IRS: Only Tea Party Groups Received ‘Systematic Scrutiny’.” The party issues a “report” and the conservative media machine blasts the “findings” around the wingnutosphere, and the “outrage” ensues.
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Well, yes. They even have groups coordinating those messages. They know they can't win on ideas, so they're busy grinding the outrage machine for November. This is just one cog in the larger machine.