Barr Brawl in the House

Barr Brawl in the House

July 29, 2020

House Democrats have been itching to get Attorney General William Barr on the stand for more than a year. But after Tuesday's performance, I guarantee they won't be so eager again. The hearing in the Judiciary Committee, which was supposed to end in disaster for President Trump, was a spectacular failure for the Left, who emerged looking bitter, unhinged, and outsmarted. Barr, in sharp contrast, was the picture of unflappability, as liberals raged, interrupted, and mocked their way through five hours. If this was meant to be Barr's grilling, the media concluded, they blew it.

By the end of Tuesday's half-day circus, it was obvious that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's party had squandered the chance they'd been begging for. Instead of a hearing, it was a hate-fest. Liberals, who'd hoped to draw blood on everything from Portland to the pandemic, ultimately couldn't put aside their loathing long enough to have a real conversation. "I was one of those," Jonathan Turley lamented, "who had high expectations for some answers to important questions. Instead, Democrats dramatically demanded answers and then stopped Barr from answering... It happened over and over; Democrats simply did not want to hear answers that would undermine popular narratives... The whole hearing was about as classy as a demolition derby."

When Pelosi's party did find an area of vulnerability, Barr was more than equal to the task. In fact, his answers to their loaded questions were so disarming that Democrats ultimately stopped seeking them. "He picked apart their misstatements and disingenuous premises with aplomb," Andrew McCarthy pointed out. So what did Democrats do? They "dropped the threadbare pretense that this was a hearing" and decided shut down civil debate altogether. That also backfired, making them look petty and spiteful, while Barr sat, completely unrattled, asking: "If it's a 'hearing,' aren't I the one who's supposed to be heard?"

Everyone from ousted Trump officials to media sympathizers vented that the event was a complete bomb for Democrats. Adding to their frustration, some members of the party are starting to openly break with the Left on the riots. The longer Americans see cities on fire, fear for their homes and lives, and see the impact on their neighborhoods and businesses, the more dangerous it is to the party's chances. Embracing lawlessness, more moderates are saying, is not the way to win in 2020.

Democrat Ted Van Dyk took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to plead with his party to reconsider their defense of the riots. "The longer this continues, the greater demand to see it stopped will grow..." The party, he warns, has already alienated families of "public safety and emergency personnel." Soon, it will add "small-business people, homeowners, taxpayers, and voters." And their over-the-top criticism of federal troops is only making matters worse. "Any president dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt would have taken action under these circumstances," Van Dyk argues. "Many of Mr. Trump's policies deserve criticism, but this isn't one of them. Democrats are presenting a pro-chaos caricature of themselves, which will discredit them with the public if they maintain it."

And yet, Democrats are not only refusing to disavow the violence, they're refusing to admit it's happened! Acting Homeland Security Chad Wolf continues to be shocked by that, as his teams take their lives in their hands trying to contain the mayhem. "We see power tools and we see accelerants. We see commercial grade fireworks. We see a variety of weapons and tactics being used against the federal courthouse there and against our law enforcement officers. We have over around 190 law enforcement officer injuries since July 1st," he told me on "Washington Watch." "So this idea that it is 'peaceful protesting'," Wolf shook his head, "peaceful protestors don't commit crimes."

The press, of course, continues to pump out one-sided portrayals of what's happening on the streets of Portland and elsewhere. "What you hear in the news media is a lot of very inaccurate statements. And they've all been debunked one way or another." One of the most offensive, Wolf says, is that his agents are somehow responsible for the chaos. "This idea that simply enforcing federal law and holding criminals accountable is somehow inciting violence is a false statement, in my view, and completely inaccurate and misleading." If anyone's to blame, he insists, it's the politicians refusing to uphold the law. "You have to hold people accountable," he insisted. "We don't see that yet in Portland... and it continues to... spiral out of control each and every night."

Wolf's advice, which House Democrats could stand to heed, was simple: "We need to make sure that folks understand that we can disagree. We can have a civil debate and we can do that peacefully and we can do that night after night after night. But once you cross the line and you become violent, that's when we're going to step in. We're going to protect our facilities and our law enforcement officers."

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

Doctor Video Suffers from Acute Censorship

July 29, 2020

The who's who of Big Tech took a turn before Congress this afternoon -- and not a moment too soon, considering the mess they're making of free speech. The men behind Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have a lot of questions to answer about censorship, if House leaders will let Republicans ask. And the first one, considering what happened this week with the frontline doctors' conference ought to be: Why are you letting your political agenda get in the way of the coronavirus facts?

By the time Facebook had taken it down, their news conference on COVID had beaten out some of the biggest names on the platform. With 17 million views, even the group -- America's Frontline Doctors -- was surprised at how desperate people were for information. They'd come to D.C. with one goal: to address some of the rumors about the pandemic and share their views on the best ways to fight it. As men and women who'd spend the last several months treating patients with COVID, their opinion was valuable -- to everyone, it turns out, but Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg's platform pulled the video, insisting it was full of "false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19." Twitter and YouTube soon followed suit. Dr. Teryn Clark, one of the participants who joined me on Washington Watch yesterday, was "shocked." First, because the event got so much attention, and then because it was considered controversial. Their intention, she insisted, was only to help answer people's questions. "The numbers are starting to look like they don't add up, people are living in fear. There have been a lot of deaths, but recently, more of the people who have ... tested positive with this have not had symptoms, have been younger, healthier, and recovered more quickly. So I think there is really a curiosity in our society as well. 'It's not looking like in my community, like it's supposed to look and like it looks on the news. So what's the story here?'"

Their main goal, Teryn said, was to share what they'd see up close. "We had, as you said, millions and millions of viewers. And then we were equally surprised when we woke up and all of it had been taken down." Even the website that hosted their conference was gone, along with all the links to the studies that have been done on hydroxychloroquine. That, she shook her head, is where so many people seem intent on shutting down debate. There are papers, she explains, from our own government talking about the drug's effectiveness in treating other COVIDs. "I don't know how it's controversial that we're looking at NIH paper [from] the time Anthony Fauci was at the NIH."

The facts, Teryn argued, are being ignored. And she knows it, because she's treated actual patients and watched them recover. "I was referring people to the CDC's own website," she said, which has a two-page fact sheet on the drug, and even that is cause for censorship. Look, Teryn argued, the medical community has studied this drug for years. "It's been around a really long time... So it's not a mystery. It's not unsafe. It's effective immediately... I just don't know how it could be seen that we're [advocating something] dangerous."

These 20 physicians, from across multiple specialties, aren't doing this for media attention. "We don't have a dog in the fight. We have nothing to gain financially... We're motivated because we want to help people and we want to [cut] through what some of the medical boards are doing with this medication." It's so out-of-control, she explained, that pharmacists refusing to fill the prescriptions. "I've never been questioned about a prescription," she said. "[I could probably write a prescription] for a crazy amount of opioids and get less pushback than I get on this for 20 tablets of this medicine." It's unprecedented.

What's driving this "unusual behavior" in the medical community? Teryn doesn't know. What she does know is that these social media platforms are just as committed to covering up the facts as anyone. And it's time to call them out.

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

A Tale of Two Relief Bills...

July 29, 2020

These days, the two parties couldn't be more different -- and their latest attempts at virus relief certainly prove it. House leaders, who ditched the spirit of goodwill that got America through the first CARES Act, have already made it clear that they're not serious about anything but the elections. Their proposal, which was basically a summary of every radical idea Democrats have ever had, passed in May. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says, it's time to get down to business and consider something reasonable. Whether Democrats will is another story.

"The Senate will not waste time with pointless partisanship," McConnell warned when he unveiled his chamber's plan. "There is a reason why even Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer themselves have publicly downplayed the multi-trillion-dollar socialist manifesto they published some weeks back, and have suggested the real, serious discussion would begin when Republicans released our outline."

Unlike House Democrats, the Senate majority doesn't think taxpayer-funded abortion, cash for illegal immigrants, marijuana banking, state bailouts, rigged elections, and a redefinition of the family will do much about America's real needs. So they've offered something else, the HEALS Act. "I hope this strong proposal will occasion a real response," McConnell told reporters with an eye on the other chamber. "Not partisan cheap shots. Not the predictable, tired, old rhetoric as though these were ordinary times and the nation could afford ordinary politics."

Instead of the $3 trillion Pelosi's camp wants to spend, Republicans have pared down their bill to $1 trillion -- which, as conservatives have pointed out, is still a huge sum. Specifically, the money is divvied up between things like school funding, another round of stimulus checks and Paycheck Protection Program loans, unemployment benefits, vaccine trials, virus testing, and a handful of other things like liability protections for churches, nonprofits, schools, and businesses who shouldn't have to worry about being sued for "spreading" the virus if they reopen safely.

"There [are] a lot of vulnerable folks out there," Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) agreed on "Washington Watch." The goal is to help keep them afloat with another round of checks that can cover things like rent and food. For businesses, several of which are struggling despite the Small Business Administration loans, there's a chance to apply for a second round if they're vulnerable. But one of the biggest changes from the previous versions of the virus relief is the focus on education. And not just public education -- but every option for learning.

Instead of debating it as a freestanding bill, the Senate decided to roll in the school choice initiative that Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced last week. "We're trying to do two things," Lankford explained. "One is [funneling some of] the funds coming down to... private education. This [bill] isn't just geared toward public education -- this is geared toward parents. And so, we're [setting aside] some of the dollars specifically for private education, but also giv[ing] greater latitude to parents to be able to make choices..."

Specifically, the bill creates what are called Emergency Education Freedom Grants, which would send dollars to states in the form of scholarships. Those could be used for private school tuition, for example, or homeschooling expenses. If the states decide not to use the funds for scholarship organizations, they'll be redistributed to states who will. Just as importantly, the language makes it clear that just because a state takes this money doesn't mean the federal government will have any control over any aspect of that schooling.

Meanwhile, to Democrats who claim the Senate's version is "totally inadequate," Lankford shook his head. "I don't understand an argument about 'let's go spend more money.' We should only spend what is absolutely essential to be able to get through it and get to the other side of it."

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

Must-See TV: July 29 at 9pm (ET)!

July 29, 2020

Don't miss my take on the recent explosion of lawlessness in America. Tune in at 9pm (ET) to Daystar or to hear our conversation about how Christians can stand for the truth in these chaotic and challenging times.