Nervous Rex Over Abortion Abroad
Cutting 28 percent of the State Department’s budget is no easy task. But Secretary Rex Tillerson got a great head start, thanks to the White House’s decision to ax billions of dollars in overseas abortion funding. Pro-lifers let out a huge cheer last month when President Trump not only reinstated the Mexico City policy but expanded the rule to an $8.8 billion pool of foreign aid. Under his new order, more than 15 times the money will be freed up by the abortion ban than even President Bush’s policy! For once, taxpayers can truly wash their hands of government-supported abortion, knowing that their dollars are being redirected to organizations that aren’t a front for abortion — but offer real medical care.
Four weeks later, Democrats are still beside themselves. After eight years of funneling money to international friends of Planned Parenthood, liberals are struggling to come to grips with the idea that global aid should do exactly that: help. Not harm. At a string of congressional hearings, Secretary Tillerson has taken his share of shots from the Left, which insists that Trump’s position (which happens to be shared by overwhelming majorities of Republicans and Democrats) could hurt millions of America’s neighbors. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who’s tried (unsuccessfully) to make Obama’s global abortion allowance permanent, tried to box in Tillerson with the typical bait. First, she asked if the State Department would reconsider the rule if it showed an uptick in “negative health outcomes.” Tillerson didn’t budge. “Would you be comfortable with such an impact to women’s health?” she fired back. Without blinking, the secretary said again, “We will carry out [the Mexico City policy] consistent with the president’s order.”
The political pressure cooker continued Wednesday, when Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) picked up where Sen. Shaheen left off. Using the same playbook, he asked if people seemed to be suffering from the lack of care, would Tillerson recommend rolling back the Mexico City policy. The secretary replied that he would be meeting with overseas groups to alleviate any concerns. Regardless, he made it clear that he wouldn’t recommend a policy reversal. If there was evidence of “hardship," Tillerson went on, the State Department would handle it. That’s when the secretary went off script. He told Bera that he was open to issuing waivers to certain organizations if he and HHS Secretary Tom Price thought it was necessary. Immediately, the red flags went up.
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who’s been one of the biggest proponents of ending the gravy train for international abortion groups, sounded the alarm at even the suggestion of watering down the policy. Offering exemptions is a terrible idea, he pointed out. "Global health ought to be inclusive not exclusive of unborn children.” Waivers “would have the perverse impact of incentivizing foreign [non-governmental organizations] to be non-compliant with the Mexico City Policy,” he went on. “The only groups that didn’t comply when the policy was last in place under the George W. Bush administration were abortion giants International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International” — two of the culture of death’s biggest sellers.
Unfortunately, Tillerson isn’t the only one raising eyebrows on Trump’s team. At the Commerce Department, new boss Wilbur Ross may have caved to LGBT heat over a common sense rewrite of the agency’s “equal employment policy.” Like us, Commerce officials don’t agree that people who identify as gay or transgender should get special treatment under law. Right off the bat, the agency reversed unilateral modifications made by the Obama administration that included “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the long list of protected classes in the department’s “anti-discrimination” policy. All employees should have the same right to live and work without harassment. Elevating one group above another for what they do behind closed doors is, as we have seen, a dangerous and demoralizing concept.
According to reports, Commerce’s stand was short-lived. When LGBT activists made a stink about the change, Ross raced to reverse himself. “To be clear, the Department’s [Equal Employment Opportunity] policy statement was never intended to change the policy or exclude any protected categories. The Department of Commerce policy remains that we do not discriminate on the basis of transgender status and sexual orientation. Department employees will continue to enjoy the fullest extent of the protections of all the non-discrimination laws.”
And here’s the irony: In catering to the Left, Ross didn’t change a thing. As even BuzzFeed points out, “The exclusion [did] not affect the legal rights of LGBT employees at the department…” It was a disappointing show of cowardice from an administration that’s been anything but weak-kneed. The Obama administration didn’t apologize for the “change” it brought to America eight years ago, so there is no need for the new team to apologize for restoring sanity to our nation’s policy now.
Originally published here.
Left Pushes a Different Kind of Climate Change
While the media says there’s plenty of blame to go around for Wednesday’s Republican shooting, at least one liberal knows exactly where to place the blame: in the lap of the Left. Feminist Camille Pagila unleashed on her party for what she calls a “nationwide orgy of rage of spite.” In an interview with The Weekly Standard, she blasts Democrats for the cloud of vitriol that’s choking off real debate.
“In an abject failure of leadership that may be one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the modern Democratic Party, Chuck Schumer, who had risen to become the Senate Democratic leader after the retirement of Harry Reid, asserted absolutely no moral authority as the party spun out of control in a nationwide orgy of rage and spite,” she said in the interview published Thursday. “Nor were there statesmanlike words of caution and restraint from two seasoned politicians whom I have admired for decades and believe should have run for president long ago — Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi…” She went on, “How do Democrats imagine they can ever expand their electoral support if they go on and on in this self-destructive way, impugning half the nation as vile racists and homophobes?”
It was a brutally honest assessment of the current political climate, where no conservative can seem to hold beliefs that the other side doesn’t take personally. What happened to the America that embraced healthy dialogue? The country that could disagree without being disagreeable? We’ve dissolved into a people who don’t seem to understand that holding diverse beliefs is not an excuse to launch a personal attack. Thanks to the hostility of the Obama years and the rhetoric of professional name-callers like Southern Poverty Law Center, liberals have forgotten that we can have differences without demonization. It’s the fulfillment of Saul Alinsky’s vision, as described in "Rules for Radicals,“ the Left’s bible of political engagement. "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” Then, “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Suddenly, even liberals are starting to see the toxicity of that strategy. “I think we’re in a time when we can’t ignore the extremism from the Left," said Oren Segal of the liberal Anti-Defamation League. ”… The past few months have seen enough of a rise in politically motivated violence from the far Left that monitors of right-wing extremism have begun shifting their focus, and sounding the alarm. They see indications that the uptick in extremist rhetoric and anti-government activism that characterized the early years of the Obama presidency are beginning to manifest on the far Left in the early days of Trump’s, and that the two sides are increasingly headed for confrontation.“ As Segal says, "We have anti-fascist counter-protests … that can ratchet up the violence at these events, and it means we can see people who are violent on their own be attracted to that. I hate to say it, but it feels inevitable.”
If any good comes out of this week’s tragedy, let’s hope it’s a realization that we shouldn’t attack people for their views — nor should we have to agree with their wrongheaded ideas in the name of peace. It’s time to come together as a nation and remember that each of us is created in the image of God and worthy of respect. Stand for your values, but stand with civility.
Originally published here.
Father’s Day, Every Day
Moms can take on the roles of teachers, nurses, chauffeurs, even janitors. But one job they can’t fill is dad’s. I’m so grateful that I had a father who remains involved in my life to this very day. Unfortunately, not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have a dad in their life who loves and cares for them. And the consequences aren’t just hurting them. They’re hurting society. Research from the University of Melbourne found that boys who grow up without dads are more likely to end up as delinquents or in jail. Their ethnicity didn’t matter. Their economic status didn’t matter. What mattered was the amount of contact boys had with their fathers. Just the presence of a father means a “large reduction in the incidence of violent behavior [and crime] for [teenage] boys.” It’s a protective factor only dad can provide.
This week, the Department of Education emphasized another place where fathers make a huge impact: school. At a special “Engaging Fathers and Families” event, FRC’s John Mendez talked about ways that groups like FRC can partner with local schools to engage dads in their kids’ education. As a Hispanic pastor, he understands the importance — particularly in minority communities — of involving fathers in every aspect of their children’s lives.
Despite what some people would have you believe, dads aren’t just an optional accessory. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School writes, “From deep within their biological and psychological being, children need to connect to fathers … to live life whole.” As far as I’m concerned, promoting fatherhood isn’t a Republican issue or a Democratic issue — it’s an American issue. When we support dads, we’re not just giving kids a better shot at life; we’re improving it for us all. We applaud the Department of Education for putting the spotlight for academic success where it belongs — at home.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.