The contemptible Messrs. Issa and Boehner

Congress’ vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt is contemptible. This vote is steeped in racism, lies, cover up, NRA-gun politics and paranoid conspiracy theories. It marks a new low for Republicans in general and Reps. Darryl Issa of California and Speaker of the House John Boehner in particular: Issa for pushing the House of Representatives vote and Boehner for agreeing to it.

Democrats, prompted by the Congressional Black Caucus, plan to walk out en masse. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., chairman of the CBC, said the entire Democratic Caucus “will seek to delay any vote that is essentially a baseless attempt to reduce the significance of the attorney general’s work. We are not going to cooperate with something that’s so alien to our sensibilities. The only way is to not be there when it takes place.” A few Democrats who are in the pocket of the NRA said they would also vote with Republicans.

At the heart of the matter lies a vast right-wing conspiracy hell bent on destroying the first African American president (and AG) and everything Barack Obama represents, including the American people who elected him in the first place.

Holder is the first black attorney general. Given the history of racism and civil rights in this country, the symbolism of a black attorney general, who is tasked to enforce the laws of the country – including civil and voting rights laws – was monumental. You may remember the Republicans’ effort to block Holder’s appointment led by none other than Karl “SuperPAC to destroy Obama” Rove.

Indeed, Holder’s Department of Justice has vigorously moved to enforce the nation’s laws – from investigating voting rights violations in GOP-enacted ID laws and voter purges to suing Arizona and Alabama over immigration – challenging two policies that are the darlings of the extreme Republicans.

The basis of the vote stems from a politically-driven investigation into a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program called “Operation Fast and Furious.” It is alleged that the agency ran guns into Mexico and some of these guns were involved in the death of a U.S. border patrol agent. Sounds like a bizarre and poorly thought-through program with tragic consequences that should be investigated.

Unfortunately that’s not the world we live in. In our world, we have a vast right-wing conspiracy, (Hillary was right!) who love to spin lies, play to people’s paranoia and fears and infect the political atmosphere with racism and hysteria through their blogs, radio and TV broadcasts.

Somehow, in that world, “Fast and Furious” became a grand scheme by the president and Holder to take away Americans’ guns and second amendment rights, and on top of that, according to Gun Owners of America, (think NRA) Holder is guilty of murder!

The NRA told House members they have to vote for contempt or face their wrath, claiming the administration wants to use Fast and Furious to win gun regulations.

Now the vast right-wing conspiracy has political power and will do something never done in the history of the United States: hold in contempt a sitting AG.

Doesn’t that suit the Republicans (and their Wall Street backers) well to have the first black attorney general – the nation’s top lawyer – arrested? They would take the racist criminalization of African Americans to a whole new level. Such an action is part of their strategy to win the White House in November. Use racism as much as possible. Cast doubt on the administration. Confuse and divide. Play to hatred and the worst in people.

If that wasn’t enough, according to a blockbuster story by Fortune Magazine’s Katherine Eban published June 27, “Fast and Furious” gunrunning didn’t even exist as currently asserted.

Eban shows how Arizona gun laws backed by the NRA, allowed people to buy as many guns as they wanted and then channel them into criminal operations, including drug running in Mexico.

The thousands of guns supposedly “walked” into Mexico with the ATF’s blessing were actually let through as the result of weak gun laws and prosecutors in Arizona telling the feds there wasn’t enough evidence for arrests. The agents involved in “Fast and Furious” were not allowed to stop the flow of guns because, under NRA-backed gun laws, they were legally bought.

The right wing hates the ATF (remember “jack booted thugs” and Waco, which led to the Oklahoma City bombing by Tim McVeigh) because they purportedly take away people’s guns. But now these same people are furious because they didn’t stop guns that were legally bought because of the lax gun control regulations. Eban calls it ironic. That’s charitable.

In an interview with CNN after her story came out, Eban said that after the six months of investigating the story it became clear to her that Congress’ so-called facts were “misconstrued, incorrect” and “a case of cherry picking.” Her story exposes as a lie the claims made by Issa and other Republicans on his witch-hunt committee.

Let’s call the House contempt vote what it really is – a political lynching. This is a new low for the Republicans. To drag Congress down in the gutter like that will leave a lasting stain on the Republicans and Boehner. Their behavior embarrasses and hurts the entire country.

In November, the American people will hold their own contempt vote and hopefully throw these liars out of office. But today you can express your contempt for Congress. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights urges taking action and protest the “aye” votes. Click here to see how your representative voted. Call (202)224-3121 to express your outrage.

Photo: Eric Holder, via AP Photo.


Teresa Albano
Teresa Albano

Teresa Albano was the first woman editor-in-chief of People’s World, 2003-2010, leading the transition from weekly print to daily online publishing and establishing PW’s social media presence. Albano has been a staff writer for People’s World covering political, labor and social justice issues for more than 25 years. She traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad, including India, Cuba, Angola, Italy, and to Paris to cover the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. An award-winning journalist, Albano has been honored for her writing by International Labor Communications Association, National Federation of Press Women and Illinois Woman Press Association.