Russia's Gas Grip Has the World over a Barrel

Russia's Gas Grip Has the World over a Barrel

January 26, 2022

If the White House didn't orchestrate Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement, then they certainly won't be unhappy about its timing. A vacancy on the Supreme Court is exactly what the PR spin doctors ordered for Joe Biden, who's had trouble changing the news cycle from the president's latest debacle-waiting-to-happen: Ukraine. And while it might turn a few heads in the short term, it won't do anything to quell the long-term problem of Vladimir Putin. As the rest of the world scrambles to pull Europe back from the brink of war, the burning question in most nations' minds isn't whether America can stop Putin -- but whether an America led by Joe Biden can.

The situation 5,500 miles away on the Russian border is changing by the minute. Even for leaders in the know -- like North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer (R) -- it's been hard to keep up. And the U.S. president certainly isn't helping matters. One minute Biden takes a firm hand against Putin, the next time, he's throwing down a welcome mat for a "minor incursion." On Tuesday, Biden put on his stern voice, warning that Putin's force build-up on the Ukrainian border "would be the largest invasion since World War II. It would change the world." Then he shrugged, grabbed a chocolate ice cream cone, and left.

In the background of frantic global meetings, the military preparations continue. As Russia drills its soldiers -- practicing bombing runs, shooting exercises, and steering warplanes, ships, and paratroopers into the area -- Putin took a more menacing tone. His righthand men, like foreign minister Sergey Lavrov vowed revenge if United States and its allies don't shut up and look the other way. "If the West continues its aggressive course," Lavrov threatened, "Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures." Insisting Russia wouldn't be stymied by "endless discussions," the foreign minister went on to mock the world's response, laughing that "our Western colleagues have driven themselves up into a militarist frenzy." Ukraine is probably more scared by what he called "the Western scare" than anything.

Meanwhile, as the U.S., Britain, Australia, Germany, and Canada call their diplomats home, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is desperately trying to stop the nationwide panic as words between the two sides get more and more heated. Behind the scenes, he continues to plead for more support -- including with a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators. Cramer, who just returned from Kyiv, reiterated what an important trip it was, especially in light of Biden's mixed messages. "It just seems like he's always fumbling around and sending chaotic signals, which I think are complicating matters a little bit. And I'm sure that his trying to keep the NATO coalition together [is] part of the challenge... But it isn't helped by these [conflicting statements]."

The group of four Democrats and three Republicans were hoping to clean up some of their president's mess. "It was an important trip," Cramer explained on "Washington Watch." "We were able to do a couple of things. First of all, of course, to get information on the ground. And we did... But also, and probably more importantly, [we wanted] to relay a unified voice from Congress itself... And I think to that end, we were pretty successful. The Ukrainian leaders, including President Zelensky, saw this unified front, [and] I think [it] gave him a sense of confidence."

Zelensky's concern -- and perhaps all of Europe's -- centers around Putin's energy monopoly in the region. "Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country," the late Senator John McCain half-joked. And under Donald Trump, we might have had the leadership to treat it like one. Now, with so many nations wholly dependent on Russia's gas -- and no reliable alternative (thanks to America's energy retreat under Biden) -- talk of sanctions becomes even more complicated. Already, Russia is cracking down on its supply, sending energy prices soaring -- and inflicting major pain on countries like Germany. It's a tricky business threatening Russia's economy, Cramer agreed. We need a response that "punishes the people that need to be punished" without the effects harming our allies.

"That's part of the reason Germany has been so difficult to work with on this situation," the senator acknowledged. They've allowed [Russia's] Nord Stream 2 pipeline [to come into Europe] and [give] Putin more leverage over -- not just Germany -- but all of Europe when it comes to natural gas and energy. I always say coming from an energy-producing state [that] energy security is national security. To make Europe more captive to Vladimir Putin is really shortsighted. It may seem like a good idea in the short run, but not in the long run."

And America bears some of the responsibility for that. Under Joe Biden, we've helped give Russia the keys to its new energy empire, turning off our own spigots and undoing all of the energy independence under Trump. We have a solution to this problem right here at home -- a 41 percent cleaner alternative, Cramer pointed out ironically. "We have an American solution to this situation that Germany and Europe [need]. We [have] to be more actively involved in a geopolitical trade solution that provides the energy security that we all seek. And we haven't made that case."

At the end of the day, America has to have standing with the world to lead. The fact of the matter is, we've lost that standing under Joe Biden -- and a number of countries could pay for it with their very existence. Let's pray that doesn't happen.

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

Misdiagnosing COVID: Where Biden and the Media Got It Wrong

January 26, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court dropped the hammer on the president's vaccine mandate almost two weeks ago, but the administration must have had a hard time saying goodbye. It took 12 full days, but OSHA, the government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, finally got around to shutting down the private employer "jabs for jobs" rule it never had the grounds to write. A defeated Biden formally withdrew his "emergency temporary standard" this week -- which, as it turns out, was never an emergency, but thanks to the justices, it sure was temporary.

If only America could take back the other 365 days of bad COVID policy, Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) said on "Washington Watch." "We all talked at the beginning about 'follow the science.' The sad thing is... with this particular administration... it's become political science rather than real science." And, like a lot of Americans, Murphy is upset that our country is now paying for it. As part of the GOP Doctors Caucus in the House, he sent a letter to the head of NIH, Acting Director Lawrence Tabak, about the dangerous side effects of the administration's far-Left policies.

The group of almost 20 members asked for specific data from the agency on the "adverse reactions" of the COVID lockdowns. As the collection of doctors points out, the government's decision took a mental and physical toll on children (not to mention setting American students back scholastically). It held cardiac and cancer patients hostage while they waited for the care they needed during the elective surgery stoppage. Then, there were psychological effects of closing businesses and firing people based on their vaccination status. Our country witnessed a rise in domestic violence -- and, as we all saw, violence in general.

"Let's see how many years of life lost we had because of our actions of COVID," Murphy argued. "Let's look at the lockdowns. Let's look at people being kept away from families, their churches, their friends, and the depression that ensued, subsequent substitutes that ensued [like drug abuse]... I want to help restore faith in medicine to the American public," he said. "I also want real answers... In my opinion, I think we should have had a much more selective approach of helping those who are at high risk rather than just a shotgun approach to everybody."

In his mind and the rest of the caucus, we owe it to the American people to stop and think about the "short- and long-term ramifications of this administration's restrictive, repressive, and often damaging COVID-19 policies." So much of what's been done in the last two years as part of the government's virus response would fall in the category of abnormal. But unfortunately, what we're not hearing in the media is a discussion of what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to be the done as we address future pandemics.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) is doing his best to correct that, hosting a special event this past Monday called "COVID-19: A Second Opinion." Bringing together the best doctors, the discussion centered around ways the public had been misled. They covered a lot of ground -- from vaccine mandates to comorbidities of the virus -- and, not surprisingly, they got very little attention from the liberal media. "They can't afford to be proven wrong," the senator said Tuesday on "Washington Watch."

"Eight hundred eighty-nine thousand Americans have perished in COVID, and of course, we've been listening collectively to a group of public health officials -- many of [whom] don't practice medicine. Few, if any, of them have ever treated a COVID patient. And so, what I tried to do is provide the American public with [the truth] coming from doctors who have actually had the courage and compassion to treat thousands of COVID patients. They expose themselves to the virus. They've treated patients successfully using cheap, generic, widely available drugs that have been around for decades with an incredibly strong safety profile... And that's really not who the legacy media has listened to."

All the Biden administration wants to do is send people home afraid, he argued. Force them to isolate and maybe take some Tylenol. And just pray you don't get really sick. "They are the ones who suppress this [information], who have kept people from accessing early treatment... So this is a travesty that has occurred. I hope Americans start waking up."

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

Involved Parents Are America's Most Wanted

January 26, 2022

Round One in Virginia goes to Team Parents. On day one, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) announced a hotline for parents to report divisive material in the schools. In no time, that hotline began to expose woke ideology. "There were reports of a school in Fairfax County teaching a high school level course that included a privilege bingo game," said FRC Senior Fellow for Education Studies Meg Kilgannon, where, if you were white or male or were part of a military family, you had "privilege." Talk about an unrealistic, unfair portrayal of how real life works!

Firm support from the governor is exactly what Virginia parents needed after hostile school boards cut them out of the process, dismissed their concerns and attacked them personally. The stonewalling went so far that the school board in Loudoun County abruptly ended a public meeting and arrested a father to conceal a sexual assault on his daughter enabled by their transgender bathroom policy. The Justice Department stepped in, not to investigate the criminal or the school board, but to threaten parents with a domestic terrorism investigation. No wonder Virginia parents voted for Youngkin. Said Kilgannon, "It's a really gratifying case of an elected official who ran for office promising to respect and defend parents' rights... and is actually doing that."

Youngkin also let parents decide whether their children should wear masks to school, creating a carveout to school board mask mandates by executive order. The order is based on a lack of scientific evidence showing a need to mask children and the possibility that mask-wearing may actually hamper a child's development and learning. While many parents are happy, some school boards are not. Seven DC-area school boards have sued to block the policy. "There's nothing preventing the parents in those counties from sending their children to school masked," noted Kilgannon. "The executive order simply... allows parents to decide what will happen."

Parents are exposing CRT and LGBT indoctrination in schools in other states, too. States like Idaho and North Carolina have also created portals where parents can report divisive, un-American curriculum to which their children have been exposed. "These efforts are not just political gamesmanship, as the mainstream media would have people believe," said Kilgannon. Parents are "responding to what's happening in the classrooms, which they were able to see because of the virtual learning during the pandemic."

"Parents all across the country are giving help, whether they're asked or not," said Kilgannon. When Minnesota initiated a review of their social studies curriculum in order to approve a K-12, California-style "ethnic studies" program, parents revealed that the school system in St. Paul, the state capital, had partnered with LGBT advocacy groups to indoctrinate toddlers about how to choose their own gender. At that age, kids can't tell their left shoe from their right one.

The sad part is, radical school districts are pushing woke indoctrination to the neglect of real education. Only 33 percent of St. Paul students test proficient for reading at grade level, and only 21 percent test proficient in math. Kilgannon continued, "parents are aware that the education their children are getting is not the education that the parents got."

Parents across the country are also getting involved, both by exposing divisive indoctrination or by becoming "the one [on the school board] who will listen." Any parent can participate in an online school board boot camp. "If you're a high school graduate," said Kilgannon, "you're qualified to determine what is appropriate for high schools." The Left fears parents--not because they're violent, but because they can expose and end the indoctrination.