The United States Does Not Negotiate... with Congress
Americans have gotten the raw end of a lot of Barack Obama deals -- but the Bowe Bergdahl swap could literally be the most explosive yet. With five of the world's top terrorists on a "work release" program in Qatar, voters see the swap as the ticking time bomb it is. President Obama, who seemed to show some remorse for the "oversight" of breaking the law, has shifted gears, digging in his heels on what's turned out to be a major black eye on his already bruised foreign policy record.
Only 37% of Americans approve of the trade of the Taliban commanders for a decidedly anti-American deserter. Those numbers continue to tank, especially among military veterans, who recognize the steep price paid for Bergdahl's search and, later, recovery. By 68-16% vets say the President made the wrong decision. On both sides, there's also concern about the way he made it. A clear majority (64%) think the White House should have notified Congress, as the law demands. Yet when Pew Research broke down the numbers by ideology, 64% of self-described "liberals" disagreed, saying Obama was right to circumvent lawmakers. Obviously, the President has managed (after plenty of practice) to desensitize most of his base to routine lawlessness. Like him, they seem to embrace tyranny -- if it aligns with their agenda.
Yesterday, the administration finally brought the legislative branch up to speed -- 11 days too late. If Monday's classified briefing was supposed to ease tensions, it accomplished anything but. Members were even more furious that the White House kept them in the dark, especially after learning that at least 90 administrative officials knew about the exchange before they did. "If anything, I have more concerns," said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). "Probably the most distressing thing or the most disturbing thing I heard was at least 80 to 90 people in the administration were aware of this proposed deal, and yet they couldn't notify anyone in Congress."
Unelected members of the Obama administration could be trusted with this information, but somehow America's elected leaders could not? Once again, the President is treating the legislative branch -- not as constitutional co-equals, but as an unnecessary nuisance, minor obstacles to be trampled in his political stampede. "This is just another example of an administration that does not seem to understand there is a Constitution," mused a frustrated Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).
Even Democrats, many of whom are just as tired of being circumvented, spoke up about the President's way of doing business. To Rep. Louise Slaughter's (D-Calif.) ridiculous statement that she "wouldn't tell 435 people a secret either," Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) disagreed, saying that at least key people should have been in on the plan. "... I think it would have been wiser, far wiser, for the administration to have notified certainly the leadership of Congress... Most of the leaks that have taken place have come from the administration and not from Congress, so they really should have brought at least the leadership within their confidence and I think that was a mistake."
Tomorrow, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will have a chance to share his side of the story with the House Armed Services Committee in the first high-profile hearing on the Bergdahl fallout. In the meantime, Obama apologists like Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) continues to insist, "We leave no soldier behind." The reality is, Sergeant Bergdahl left his unit behind. And now, we have a President willing to leave the law behind in order to release terrorists.
Common Core Has a Fallin Out in Oklahoma
The President's foreign policy isn't the only area Americans are having their doubts. After months of intense, grassroots push-back, opponents of the White House's Common Core program won another big prize: Oklahoma. This week, the Sooners became the third state to officially dump the President's education standards, complaining of federal overreach.
"President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core," Gov. Mary Fallin (R) explained, "in an attempt to influence state education standards. The results are predictable. What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president's plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing, and teaching strategies." And this time, the administration -- the same one that claimed this is a state-led effort -- bared its teeth.
Desperate to stop the bleeding on its pet project, the White House sent in attack dog Arne Duncan, America's Secretary of Education, to chastise Fallin in a petty display meant to dissuade other states from following suit. "The Oklahoma example is a pretty interesting one," Duncan told reporters yesterday. "Let me give you a couple of facts. I think sadly, this is not about education. This is about politics." He launched into Oklahoma's education statistics, blasting its proficiency in math and post-high school course studies.
Interestingly enough, the federal government is prevented by law from dictating curriculum -- so they dictate "standards" instead. Arne Duncan is threatening Oklahoma. He says the federal education department "partners with" states. Some partnership. That's like Putin "partnering" with Crimea.
Of course, the irony of Duncan's statement is that Oklahoma is doing light years better than Washington, D.C., where taxpayers shell out nearly $30,000 per student -- and 83% still aren't proficient in reading. So Washington has the answers? In reality, they don't even know the questions. Check out the facts on Common Core that the government doesn't want you to know about in FRC's new publication.
JONAH and the Wail of Anti-Therapy Radicals
With its credibility drying up, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is determined to cement its status as the homosexual movement's greatest ally. Desperate to regain its status in the civil rights debate, the anti-Christian group is following the money to the gay community, where it hopes the partnership will help SPLC regain some of the legitimacy it lost bullying mainstream conservatives. Their latest attempt to claw their way back into the spotlight is a lawsuit aimed at destroying the ex-gay movement.
Almost two years ago, SPLC announced it was suing a Jewish organization called JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives of Healing) for consumer fraud. They claim the therapy, which is designed to bring homosexuals out of bondage and into healthy behavior, failed.
A New Jersey court agrees and said Friday that JONAH should be held liable for any person it couldn't help. Assuming the truth of the plaintiffs' experiences, Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. wrote, "JONAH's conversion therapy damaged the individuals it was meant "'to cure,'" and thus "any subsequent costs of repairing Plaintiff's mental or emotional health are the direct and proximate result of JONAH's actions and, hence, should be borne by JONAH."
That's like suing Weight Watchers because they promised you'd lose weight and you didn't! As FRC's Peter Sprigg will tell you, there's an abundance of scientific and anecdotal evidence that the therapies do work -- although critics are reluctant to acknowledge it. NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) has cited more than "600 reports of clinicians, researchers, and former clients -- primarily from professional and peer-reviewed scientific journals" which show that "reorientation treatment has been helpful to many." The evidence is so compelling that even the Texas GOP reaffirmed patients' right to the therapy in their Republican Platform over the weekend.
The bottom line is that SPLC isn't interested in helping people. Their actions and bank accounts show that the radical organization is more interested in profiting from them. If the Left truly had homosexuals' best interest in mind, they would recognize that for many, these attractions are unwanted. For those who struggle, hope is not in limiting avenues for change -- but encouraging them.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.