The Mueller Retort

The Mueller Retort

July 25, 2019

"Finally, Washington sort of agrees on something," the New Yorker half-joked. "Mueller bombed." After 124 days of waiting, "painful" doesn't begin to describe the disjointed spectacle of former special counsel Robert Mueller's House hearing. The epic dud, proclaimed across the news networks as "sad," "embarrassing," and "a disaster" came to an anti-climatic end Wednesday for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) party. Democrats, who've desperately been trying to find a way to end Donald Trump's presidency prematurely, are back to square one. If they want to send Trump packing, the Washington Post pointed out, they'll have to do it the old-fashioned way -- at the ballot box.

The seven-hour sit-down was supposed to be the must-see event of the year. Instead, the New York Times pronounced, Mueller's appearance was "the blockbuster that wasn't." Confused, evasive, and downright scattered, the man at the center of one of the biggest political witch hunts in history did nothing but prove what a waste of time this entire drama has been. The liberal's political savior was such a liability that by afternoon's end even CNN's Jeffery Toobin was calling it a "win" for President Trump.

Congressman Mike Johnson (R-La.), chair of the Republican Study Committee who had a front row seat for the circus in the hearing, told me on "Washington Watch" that Democrats had every right to be disappointed. "They truly hoped, as I said in my closing statement for the Republican side... that there was really one reason that Mr. Mueller was called to testify today -- and that was to give political cover to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. They desperately wanted him to tell them that they had to impeach the president. He did not do that. His report of course did not do that. And that's where we are today -- just exactly where we were yesterday."

When I asked him if he felt like the committees had covered any new ground, he said flatly, "None at all." But then, he pointed out, everyone should have expected that. Mr. Mueller himself made that quite clear when he had his press conference more than a month ago, when he insisted, "I'm going to stick to the four corners of this document."

But as frustrating as the scene must have been for Democrats, Republicans were equally annoyed. After all, Mike pointed out, there were so many questions that went unanswered about the report's bias, its origins, the Steele dossier, the tainted FBI agents. None of those gaping holes in this theory were addressed, Congressman Johnson vented. "He refused to even talk about the origins of this whole charade... now proven to be totally bogus. That was the foundation of this entire ordeal.... and if the root of it is corrupt, then everything that comes from it is as well."

Mueller was asked to get to the bottom of this supposed collusion with Russia, but we've all known for quite some time that, as Mike put it, "There was 'no there there' -- not even any smoke, much less any fire... It was a political hack job, and now it's proven to be so." From an investigative team with 14 Democrats and zero Republicans, none of this should have come as a surprise. There were FBI agents texting how much they hated Donald Trump and vowing to take him out. "[Those are] their own words. So it's hard to look at this by any objective measure and say, 'Oh, well, this was a fair investigation.'"

For all those people who camped out to watch what history, what they witnessed instead was, in Rep. Johnson's eyes and others, a "colossal waste of time." But don't think for a second that that will deter Democrats. Will the House finally move on now, I asked Mike? "Boy, I wish that were true," he said. Instead, he expects that they'll just change their narrative. "Speaker Pelosi and Jerry Nadler and the other Democrats in charge of these committees are just absolutely fixated on investigating the president. I think it's going to go on through the election."

That's just fine with the White House, who knows the American people are just as sick and tired of this wild goose chase as they are. If Pelosi keeps it up, President Trump will know exactly where to send a thank you note for 2020.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Hollywood Delivers Its Lines on Abortion

July 25, 2019

While Hollywood tiptoes around China for approval on various projects, there is one area they should both agree on: abortion. The infamous one-child regime, which has an increasingly powerful seat at America's entertainment table, won't be the least bit offended by Tinseltown's latest mandate -- scenes about ending pregnancies with characters who are proud of it.

The shift started, the New York Times believes, when a women's rights lawyer held court with a group of Hollywood bigwigs and insisted that promoting abortion should be a more prominent storyline. "The stories on abortion do not match our reality," she said. Nor, she went on, were there enough of them. Now that legal infanticide is the rallying cry of the Democratic party, the industry has slowly started heeding the call to glorify one of the most devastating decisions a woman can make.

"You're definitely seeing more of the matter-of-fact 'I am pregnant, I don't want to be, I'm going to have an abortion,'" sociologist Gretchen Sisson told the Times. Her work, which includes "tracking how abortion is characterized onscreen," has taken an interesting turn since last year, she explains. The number of characters who are talking about or pursing these procedures -- "unapologetically," as they call it -- keeps growing. "And it's gone way up in 2019."

"These portrayals," the Times points out, "...are a marked departure from how abortion was depicted, or not, in story lines from the '80s through the early aughts. Characters facing unplanned pregnancies then usually agonized about what to do or, if the show was set in the past, weighed back-alley procedures. Babies were often carried to term or lost to miscarriage. Terminations led to psychological or physical problems or death. It's not that today's characters come to their decisions without deliberation, but that they are decisive and forthright..."

Of course, it's not like most people expected Hollywood to give the realities of abortion a fair shake. As the writer of Abby Johnson's story Unplanned pointed out, "Hollywood's run by the Left. You won't see pro-life stories on TV." Pro-life stories aside, most Americans would just be happy to see an accurate portrayal of their turmoil and regret. To treat abortion as a simple outpatient procedure -- without trauma and pain -- is a disservice to viewers and a misrepresentation of what thousands of mothers experience.

Lost in this rush to normalize abortion are the deeply personal stories of women trying to cope. In powerful studies about the lifelong consequences, women who've had abortions talk openly about their regrets. What may surprise you is that the grief doesn't take sides. It haunts women on both sides of the political debate. According to CareNet, who points to a lot of data about the turmoil mothers experience for years after their procedure. Dr. Priscilla Coleman published a scholarly report that found "women who had undergone abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems."

In FRC's "Top 10 Myths about Abortion," Dr. Ingrid Skop talks at length about the lie that this procedure has made women's lives better. She quotes Frederic Mathewes-Green, a pro-life feminist, who says no woman looks at this "choice" unemotionally. "...[T]he question remains, do women want abortion? Not like she wants a Porsche or an ice cream cone. Like an animal caught in a trap, trying to gnaw off its own leg, a woman who seeks abortion is trying to escape a desperate situation by an act of violence and self-loss. Abortion," she warns, "is not a sign that women are free, but a sign that they are desperate."

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Parents: Lost in Trans Mission

July 25, 2019

"It's a parent's worst nightmare." That's putting the case of Anmarie Calgaro lightly. No mother should have to find out from someone else that her own son, a bright 17-year-old, had undergone a devastating, life-changing surgery. But that is Anmarie's reality, thanks to a radically liberal legal team who decided to do everything they could to keep her in the dark about her son's gender transition.

Now, three years into this horror, Anmarie is still trying to cope. "The news that county agencies and health service providers, the school, and other county and state offices were completely bypassing me came as a total shock," she's told reporters. "Not only was I robbed of the opportunity to help my son make good decisions," she said emotionally, "but I also feel he was robbed of a key advocate in his life, his mother."

To make sure no other parent would ever have to experience what she has, Anmarie decided to sue, arguing that the government completely violated her rights as a mother when it gave her son dangerous hormones and, eventually, transition surgery without her permission. "Anmarie Calgaro's child, while a minor, was steered through a life-changing, permanent body altering process," her attorneys at Thomas More Society insisted, "becoming a pawn in someone else's sociopolitical agenda and being influenced by those who have no legal or moral right to usurp the role of a parent."

Since 2016, the case has wormed its way through the courts, last landing in the Eighth Circuit this past March, where judges, incredibly, sided against Anmarie. Minnesota's St. Louis County explains, LifeSiteNews notes, "without any basis that Calgaro's son was emancipated and could receive government benefits, even though Calgaro was a 'fit parent' who objected to their actions." "This is an unacceptable situation for any parent and a serious violation of parental and due process rights," Thomas More's Erick Kaardal said.

For now, Anmarie has one last hope: the U.S. Supreme Court, who her attorneys are petitioning to take the case. The justices, who are adjourned for the summer, would be wise to listen to medical experts like Dr. Michelle Cretella, who told "Washington Watch" listeners Tuesday that no child is safe in a world of politicized science. "Sixty-one to 98 percent of children struggling with their gender, she points out, will outgrow it "if allowed to progress through natural puberty." But instead of letting kids progress naturally, they're being co-opted by a movement that doesn't care about the wellbeing of anything but their agenda. As a result, teenagers like Anmarie's are being offered as sacrificial lambs.

"We have physicians and drug companies profiting off of the suffering of children," Dr. Cretella laments, "... [when what they really need is] therapy and sound counseling to get at any sort of underlying issue." Before this "wholesale promotion of transgenderism," she points out, doctors were cautious. "But again, that was before all the transgender propaganda." Now, there are actually whistleblowers in clinics as far away as the U.K. "who are aghast at what's being done to these children. They've come out and said, 'Look, we have evidence that these children are suffering harm,' but that evidence is being suppressed."

At least in some parts of the world, like northeastern Italy, leaders are taking these warnings seriously. "Puberty is not a disease," the local council insists in a motion that would ban hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgery for children. This isn't about ideology, Mauro Bordin insisted, "but a proposal of common sense in the exclusive interest of the health of children throughout Italy."

It may be too late for parents like Anmarie, but it's not too late for other moms and dads to get involved in stopping devastating agenda from hurting their kids. For help, check out FRC's "A Parent's Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education."

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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