Kate Walsh O’Beirne R.I.P.

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Kate O’Beirne was part of National Review’s world before she joined the staff. When she became the magazine’s Washington editor in 1995 her resume already included stints at Senator Jim Buckley’s office, the Reagan administration, and the Heritage Foundation. She served NR in that position for eleven years and then became president of National Review Institute for six more.

She brought a witty and well-informed conservatism to a national television audience as well through weekly appearances on CNN’s marquee political talk show “Capital Gang.” Conservatives were outnumbered there as on cable news generally at that time, but it never seemed that way as long as she was on.

Both her “Bread and Circuses” column for NR and her television commentary were marked by a rare combination of a deep interest in conservative policy, psychological insight, and common sense. Many of those same qualities put her advice — on politics, editorials, careers, and personal matters — in high demand.

It was advice she was happy to give, setting her listeners right while somehow also making them feel like geniuses. She enlivened every party, taking special care for the people who seemed shy or left out. This same impulse led her to take in young colleagues, or classmates of her children, who had nowhere to go for holidays.

And it made her one of the most beloved people of Washington, D.C.

You had to get to know her very well before you realized she was an introvert, one who was making a titanic effort to make sure everyone was happy.

Kate was a quiet apostle for the Catholic faith, taking great satisfaction in the people she had brought, or brought back, to it, and cooking for priests who would “eat me out of house and home.” Reverence was never a chore for her. Leaving last year’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast — one of her final public outings — she saw a favorite priest tipping a bellman, she thought, inadequately. She gently corrected him: “Father, you took a vow of poverty, not him.”

Decades of chain-smoking caught up with her last year — vaping came too late for her — leading to an ordeal from which she shielded nearly everyone who loved her.

In her final days she clutched a rosary while surrounded by her devoted husband Jim, her adored sons Phil and John, her sisters Mary Ann, Virginia, and Rosemary, and many friends. Her great regret was that she would not be able to spend more time doting on her grandchildren. She died at noon on this Divine Mercy Sunday.

Phil noted that his mother had believed in the show-business adage, Leave them wanting more. She has done that. R I P.

It’s Macron (It Seems)

by Andrew Stuttaford

The first numbers are out, and they appear to show that the run-off in France’s presidential elections will be between Emmanuel Macron, the Blairite (for want of a better shorthand) on 23.7 percent and Marine Le Pen (21.7 percent), who needs no introduction. There are no exit polls, so these numbers are projections based on early vote counting. That those two were going to emerge as the finalists was what the polls were predicting, although arguably Le Pen has done a little worse and Macron a little better than expected.

Fillon (the conservative) and Mélenchon (left-wing maniac) appear to be battling it out for third and fourth place with a little over 19 percent apiece.

It looks pretty certain that Macron will be the next president of France.

Ça ira (or not)

by Andrew Stuttaford

With France going to the polls in the first round of its presidential elections on Sunday, this long, reflective piece by Chris Caldwell in City Journal is well worth your time. Indeed it would be worth your time even if there was no vote tomorrow.

Some extracts ought to make clear why (my emphasis added):

[E]conomic opportunities for those unable to prosper in Paris are lacking elsewhere in France. Journalists and politicians assume that the stratification of France’s flourishing metropoles results from a glitch in the workings of globalization. Somehow, the rich parts of France have failed to impart their magical formula to the poor ones. Fixing the problem, at least for certain politicians and policy experts, involves coming up with a clever shortcut: perhaps, say, if Romorantin had free wireless, its citizens would soon find themselves wealthy, too. Guilluy disagrees. For him, there’s no reason to expect that Paris (and France’s other dynamic spots) will generate a new middle class or to assume that broad-based prosperity will develop elsewhere in the country (which happens to be where the majority of the population live). If he is right, we can understand why every major Western country has seen the rise of political movements taking aim at the present system.

Le Pen, Mélenchon, Trump, Sanders: Their aim may differ, but, to many of their voters, the target is the same.

Back to France:

At a practical level, considerations of economics and ethnicity are getting harder to disentangle. Guilluy has spent years in and out of buildings in northern Paris (his sisters live in public housing), and he is sensitive to the way this works in France. A public-housing development is a community, yes, and one can wish that it be more diverse. But it is also an economic resource that, more and more, is getting fought over tribally. An ethnic Frenchman moving into a heavily North African housing project finds himself threatening a piece of property that members of “the community” think of as theirs. Guilluy speaks of a “battle of the eyes” fought in the lobbies of apartment buildings across France every day, in which one person or the other—the ethnic Frenchman or the immigrant’s son—will drop his gaze to the floor first….

Guilluy has written much about how little contact the abstract doctrines of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” make with this morally complex world. In the neighborhoods, well-meaning people of all backgrounds “need to manage, day in, day out, a thousand and one ethno-cultural questions while trying not to get caught up in hatred and violence.” Last winter, he told the magazine Causeur:

Unlike our parents in the 1960s, we live in a multicultural society, a society in which “the other” doesn’t become “somebody like yourself.” And when “the other” doesn’t become “somebody like yourself,” you constantly need to ask yourself how many of the other there are—whether in your neighborhood or your apartment building. Because nobody wants to be a minority.”

Thus, when 70 percent of Frenchmen tell pollsters, as they have for years now, that “too many foreigners” live in France, they’re not necessarily being racist; but they’re not necessarily not being racist, either. It’s a complicated sentiment, and identifying “good” and “bad” strands of it—the better to draw them apart—is getting harder to do.

France’s most dangerous political battles play out against this backdrop. The central fact is the 70 percent that we just spoke of: they oppose immigration and are worried, we can safely assume, about the prospects for a multiethnic society. Their wishes are consistent, their passions high; and a democracy is supposed to translate the wishes and passions of the people into government action. Yet that hasn’t happened in France.

Emmanuel Macron, the neo-Blair who will, I suspect end up as France’s next president (full disclosure: my predictions over the past year have been…fallible) has said:

“We can no longer defend a political system whose practices weaken democracy…”

Macron is a eurofundamentalist, an evangelist, therefore, of post-democracy.

My hope is that Macron is a liar, a cynic or both. My fear is that Macron, a product of the elite, is so lost in the Groupthink of his class is that he is simply unaware of the contradictions contained in what passes for his platform.


Guilluy breaks down public opinion on immigration by class. Top executives (at 54 percent) are content with the current number of migrants in France. But only 38 percent of mid-level professionals, 27 percent of laborers, and 23 percent of clerical workers feel similarly.

Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them. The immigrants with whom the creatives share the city are dazzlingly different, exotic, even frightening, but on the central question of our time—whether the global economic system is working or failing—they see eye to eye…

Those outside the city gates in la France périphérique are invisible, their wishes incomprehensible. It’s as if they don’t exist. But they do…

Read the whole thing. Really.

Krauthammer’s Take: Obama ‘Caved’ on Inspections, Now Iran Is Developing a Nuclear Weapon

by NR Staff

Charles Krauthammer argued that the Iran nuclear deal allows for a weapon to be developed since only one part of the process is even being delayed at all, and the inspections are too weak to seriously impede Iran:

There is no contradiction whatsoever in our position. You need three things to develop a usable nuclear weapon. No. 1, you need the fissile material. No. 2, you have to weaponize it, you have to make it explode. And that, it was revealed today, they have been working on assiduously. Third, you need the ballistic missiles that will deliver them. The problem is that the Obama administration looked only at the fissile element. So technically speaking you can say that, yes it is a frozen program, they are not increasing the amount of enriched uranium.

But what the Iranians are doing — and this is so obvious a child can see it — is while the program on the fissile material is frozen, they’re working rapidly on the weaponization, which is the other part you need, and of course, on the ballistic missiles which we can see. The weaponization is in a military facility called Parchin. It was supposed to have been investigated under the Obama administration and before the signing of the agreement. To make sure it hadn’t been used in the past for weaponization. Of course, Obama and Kerry caved on that, never did. We are not allowed to inspect. We allowed the Iranians to inspect themselves on Parchin, which was a joke. So yes, they are developing a nuclear weapon. It is a violation of the spirit of the agreement, because the way they look at it, in half a decade, they will be able to resume the fissile material, the enriching uranium, they will have weaponized, and they will have the missiles.

A Grave Defeat for Religious Rights in Russia

by Paul Crookston

Russia’s crackdown on religious activity took a major step forward this week as the Justice Ministry banned Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russia has steadily curtailed rights to evangelize in recent years, but this move signals their commitment to aggressively policing private religious activity.

The Russian supreme court ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses amount to an “extremist group,” and therefore the government is shutting down their headquarters and local chapters, seizing their property, and banning them from meeting. Vladimir Putin’s campaign to strengthen ties between the government and the Russian Orthodox denomination has included the passing of absurdly broad laws that prohibit “religious discord” and can easily be deployed against any religion or sect.

This ruling will directly harm the 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, but it also poses a clear threat to other minority religious groups, such as Protestant Christians. Without genuine protections for the free exercise of religion, the government has remarkably free rein to determine the social benefits of a given religion — and that means trampling the consciences of those who fall victim to government caprice.

This battle may continue in some form. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ lawyers said that they would appeal the ruling, and they may even take it to the European Court of Human Rights. While it is worth pursuing available avenues of recourse, the larger trend of religious persecution in Russia is continuing apace.

Working the Demand Side of the Anti-Abortion Cause — Democrats, Read This

by Nicholas Frankovich

Response To...

The New York Times Gives ...

Every couple of years, it seems, a Republican politician explaining his opposition to abortion makes the news for having said something repugnant. It can be career-ending, as in Todd Akin’s case. But those are isolated incidents. Democrats talk that way all the time, though from the other side of the debate. At least that’s how they sound to many Americans who abhor or even just feel ambivalent about abortion.

“Even I have trouble explaining to my family that we are not about killing babies,” Donna Brazile remarked after the 2004 election. The “we” were Democrats. She was recommending that her party tone down its rhetoric on social issues.

After the results of 2016, some are now arguing that Democrats should promote policies designed explicitly to reduce abortion. Michael New thinks that a couple of proposals — streamline adoption procedures, drop opposition to the Hyde Amendment — that have been recommended to the Democratic party by a Boston College professor writing in the New York Times are meager, but most pro-life measures advanced by Republicans are also at the margins of the abortion debate: parental notification, stricter licensing requirements for clinics, etc. If Democrats add a measure or two of their own, excellent: Pro-lifers should applaud them and encourage more.

Some pro-lifers will object that Democrats seeking their votes are insincere. But Republican support for their cause over the years has also appeared perfunctory at times. The pro-life movement’s response to that political reality has been clear-eyed: It supports pro-life policies and, unless he’s a crackpot or a scoundrel, the candidate who can best be relied on to advance them. Whether his heart is in it or not is immaterial to their immediate purposes.

In any case, many Democrats could sincerely support abortion-reducing measures. When you talk with people who call themselves pro-choice, you find that few are pro-abortion and that most feel the moral weight of the issue more heavily than you might have thought. They are receptive to certain pro-life ideas when the question is about what is morally optimum.

Why abortion should be illegal is a related but different question. It’s necessary for pro-lifers to answer it for their aim to be intelligible, but that frame is not sufficient to their ultimate task, which is to abolish the injustice or at any rate reduce its incidence to as close to zero as they can manage. It is true but misleading to say even of thoroughgoing pro-lifers that they oppose legal abortion. They oppose illegal abortion equally.

Current legal restrictions on abortion in state laws are about as protective of unborn children as public opinion supports. Pro-life legislators looking for more ways to reduce the supply of abortion are close to an impasse. Measures to reduce demand tend to be more popular. They blunt the objections of activists who are dug in against efforts to reduce the supply.

If only out of electoral self-interest, Democrats could, for example, propose that government funding of Planned Parenthood be halved and that the other half go to Birthright, which offers prenatal care and information on adoption. The organization does what it can to reduce the demand for abortion while removing itself from efforts to reduce the supply. A hard core of party activists would object to any Democratic embrace of Birthright, but the organization’s carefully circumscribed mission is irrelevant to the fight over “choice.” And in any case, where would pro-abortion-rights Democrats go?

Pro-life Republicans would object to the half of the funding that remained for PP. They could make the case that the glass being offered to Birthright should be full, not half full (although limited-government fiscal conservatives might not want to argue for a diversion of such funding rather than for the outright elimination of it). Even if Republicans lost that debate, the pro-life cause would see some gain: more money for Birthright, less for PP.

Let the parties get into a bidding war for the pro-life vote.

Other People’s Money

by Andrew Stuttaford

A Labour win in the upcoming British general election (or even a strong showing by the inaccurately named Liberal Democrats, something that I would not rule out) would be terrible news for the UK, but Theresa May’s Tories seem intent on proving that they are no more than the least bad option for Britain’s unfortunate voters.

Just today, for example (The Guardian reports):

Theresa May moved to quash speculation that the government might drop its pledge to spend 0.7% of national income a year on foreign aid, saying the commitment “remains and will remain”.

The prime minister said Britain should be proud of meeting the UN target, but stressed the need to spend the money more effectively, after days of speculation that she would water down the commitment.

And also today (via the BBC) there was this:

The chancellor has given a major hint that he is no fan of the 2015 Tory manifesto pledge not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT. After the embarrassing U-turn on the attempt to raise taxes for the self-employed, Philip Hammond told me the government needed “flexibility” on taxes. The manifesto is not yet final, so no irreversible decisions have been taken.

So let’s get this straight. Cutting foreign aid is out of the question, raising taxes, not so much.

This, by the way, is (The Daily Telegraph reports) how a very small sliver of that foreign aid has been spent (there are other horror stories to pick from, believe me, but this seems, well, timely):

North Korea has received more than £4 million in foreign aid from the UK in just six years despite the country’s status as an international pariah, according to reports…Despite the country’s status as a rogue state, official statistics cited by the Daily Mail show that £740,000 was sent to North Korea by the UK to fund aid projects in 2015 with the Foreign Office reportedly committed to continuing the handouts.

The UK sent £32,000 of aid to North Korea in 2009 but spending increased under [David Cameron’s] coalition government, peaking at just over £1 million in 2013.

The cash has reportedly been spent on items such as providing English lessons for regime officials and physiotherapy equipment.

There had been concerns that “regime officials” had been mangling the phrase “sea of fire”

The Foreign Office told the Daily Mail that aid spending is not given directly to the North Korean regime and argued that the cash can be used to improve relations.

A spokesman said: “The projects we carry out in North Korea are part of our policy of critical engagement, and are used to promote British values and demonstrate to the North Korean people that engaging with the UK and the outside world is an opportunity rather than a threat.”

Critical engagement.



Scholars Begin to Refute the Micro-aggression Theory Rampant in Academia

by George Leef

All humans have to put up with things other people say that are bothersome, but leave it to American academics to elevate that into a great social problem. About ten years ago, a few scholars began arguing that when members of certain minority groups (oddly enough, the same ones that colleges and universities always feel obliged to succor and protect) hear words or phrases from “dominant” people, they are wounded in ways only they can know. They came up with a name for this: micro-aggression. Ever since, college and university officials have been bending over backwards in efforts to stop the hurting.

A few daring scholars have taken issue with the micro-aggression mania, however, and I write about their criticisms in this Martin Center piece.

Althea Nagai of the Center for Equal Opportunity has penned a sharp critique of the pseudo-research behind it for Academic Questions, the quarterly journal of the National Association of Scholars. Her big point is that the micro-aggression researchers violate the rules of science in their techniques, such as the way they conduct focus groups: with leading questions meant to elicit answers that bolster their theory.

Scott Lilienfeld, professor of psychology at Emory, has also published an academic paper recently. In it he calls out the micro-aggression theorists for bad technique and inflated, unsupportable claims.

And what if the furor over micro-aggressions is counterproductive? Professors Jonathan Haidt and Lee Jussim have argued that it is: It further encourages a victim mindset among members of those protected groups, whose members are supposedly so mentally fragile that they must be sheltered from any words one of them might find offensive — “America is a land of opportunity,” for example.

College officials should back away from the micro-aggression mania and focus on actual education, but that would take some daring on their part. The social-justice warriors would undoubtedly attack them for their insensitivity and “privilege.” I’d bet that this silly movement continues to pick up momentum.

The Clintonites’ Disunity Whine

by Peter Spiliakos

One of the more irritating parts of the new book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign involves Clintonites whining about Bernie Sanders criticizing Clinton and dividing the party. Bernie’s challenge to Clinton was a perfectly normal event, given that there was no Democratic incumbent running for reelection. If the Clintonites wanted to see some real division and bitterness, they just needed to look at Trump and the GOP.

Sanders was a challenger who took some rhetorical shots, won some states, and then endorsed the eventual nominee. This isn’t unusual. In 1980, Reagan faced the same kind of challenge from George Herbert Walker Bush. In 2000, George W. Bush faced the same kind of challenge from John McCain. In 2008, Obama faced the same kind of challenge from Hillary Clinton. So did party nominees who didn’t win the presidency: Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney. Given that she wasn’t an incumbent, Clinton’s road to the nomination was about average.

And then there are the Republicans. The shots that Trump took from his Republican rivals were much sharper than anything Sanders threw at Clinton. There is nothing from Sanders that even begins to compare to Rick Perry’s calling Trump a “cancer on conservatism.” Sanders said he didn’t care about Clinton’s e-mails while Marco Rubio attacked Trump from head to . . . well . . . you know.

Sanders gave a prime-time speech at the Democratic convention endorsing Clinton. Ted Cruz, Trump’s main GOP rival, gave a prime-time speech at the Republican convention whose implicit theme was that voters should elect Republicans to Congress in order to protect the Constitution from both Clinton and Trump. The resulting scene of a GOP convention booing a former candidate who was passive-aggressively attacking the nominee was like something out of the GOP disaster in 1964.

One of Clinton’s many advantages was that her party’s elected elites rallied around her to a normal degree, while the GOP’s elected elites obviously hated and despised Trump. House Speaker Paul Ryan would take every opportunity to distance himself from Trump whenever things got hot. Ryan made it a point to publicly disinvite Trump from a party unity rally. There is no keeping track of all the Republican elected officials who refused to endorse Trump, or unendorsed Trump (however temporarily), or suspended their support for Trump at one point or another. It was a lot.

Clinton had the advantage of a normal road to the nomination and a unified party. Trump faced the kind of intraparty hostility that is usually associated with blowout losers like Barry Goldwater in 1964 and George McGovern in 1972. The Clintonites (and their candidate) blew it.

Wean Colleges Off Federal Funding

by Peter Augustine Lawler

James Patterson has written an able — if quite arguable — commentary on my dispute with Stanley Kurtz on what’s wrong with higher education and what can be done to make things better.

This, is of course, a friendly dispute. And I agree with Stanley completely that the higher-education establishment has become in certain crucial ways an enemy of authentic human freedom in our country.

It is also a timely dispute, insofar as many are joining Stanley in urging President Trump and the Republican Congress to declare war on our institutions — and especially our elite colleges and universities — of higher education.

The defenders of this approach rightly say that the key precedents were set by the Obama and even George W. Bush administrations. It was Bush’s secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, who demanded that accrediting agencies become obsessed with the details of the accreditation process, forcing accreditation to become considerably more intrusive — a problem that morphed into an opportunity for our establishment educational administrators. And it was under Obama that the Department of Education began writing menacing “Dear Colleague” letters that went far beyond anything the law actually said.

As in the case of executive orders, we should regard these as precedents Republicans should reject.

You might respond: The federal government gives colleges and universities lots of money, and so regulations are appropriate. And surely colleges and universities should be made to protect academic freedom. I don’t think that can be done effectively. Endless attempts at effective oversight would ensue, with inconclusive results. Well, I’m for individuals relying on litigation — our courts — to defend academic freedom in particular cases, just as I’m for genuinely liberal public intellectuals and experts showing how weasly and insincere the statements of behalf of said freedom are at places such as the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

Plus: I doubt that intrusive bureaucracies ever serve the “moral good.” Consider the ways the Democrats were trying to script our institutions. And Trump was elected to preserve the freedom of our countercultural religious institutions of all kinds. His futile attempt to discipline Middlebury would produce a more than compensatory boomerang when the Democrats come back to power, which is inevitable and probably sooner rather than later.

To repeat myself once more: I’m for libertarian means for non-libertarian ends. That means I’m for weaning our colleges off federal money — slowly, and with due attention to issues of accessibility. Meanwhile, I’m particularly interested in Republicans setting as many deregulatory precedents as possible.

Our elite institutions are going to continue to be what they are, and they can’t be saved by government. If you don’t like them, there are plenty of other choices. It’s not like they really give the best education in our land in the social sciences and humanities. And if you’re a science/STEM nerd, you can just ignore all the silliness from the rest of the campus.

Another Reason Men Earn More: How Far They Go For Their First Job

by Carrie Lukas

Women and men make different choices about the number of hours to work (even when working full time), industries, specialties, physical risks to take on, and how much time to take off.

Those are the factors that we mostly hear about when people explain the wage gap statistic that consistently shows that men, on average, still earn more than women do. This new study adds another factor to the mix, how far men and women move for their first job:

We used data from more than 115,000 resumes — 54,000 women and 61,000 men — and found that on average women move 318 miles from their college for their first jobs, while men move 370 miles….

According the Census data, this larger search area brings in an additional 3,873,908 jobs total…

Access to more job possibilities means that men also have the potential to find higher paying options. It’s another reason that men end up earning more than women do.

This study is similar to one I wrote about here on working men having longer commutes, on average, than women do. Once again, it shows men tend to be willing to take on big burdens—longer drives and moves—in order to increase their pay.

Different societal expectations for the sexes may explain why women and men make these different choices. Certainly, working women may feel they can’t take on longer commutes because their assume the bulk of family responsibilities. Similarly, young women may feel that a longer move away from college (and potentially from home and family) would be considered unacceptable.

Yet this research and new factor to consider still chips away at the suggestion that workplace discrimination is the root cause of the wage gap. This is important information for young women to have. If earning more is the goal, they ought to consider expanding a job search to include new cities. That’s far more actionable advice than the Left’s focus of blaming intractable sexism for the wage gap.

It’s Now Racist to Question Whether a Hawaii Judge Should Make Immigration Policy for the Entire United States

by Rich Lowry

This is a stupid controversy even by the standards of the Trump years, but Jeff Sessions is getting slammed for a comment about a judge on “an island in the Pacific,” a.k.a. Hawaii, blocking the president’s travel ban. Sessions said on the Mark Levin show, “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.” Clearly, Sessions was highlighting the geographic remoteness of Hawaii as a way to emphasize the ridiculousness of a single judge making such a sweeping national judgment. But Sessions is being accused by his critics of denying Hawaii’s statehood in keeping with his racism, slandering a federal judge, and playing to vicious and long-standing anti-Hawaii sentiment. It’s obviously too much to ask these critics to get a grip (they won’t for the next four-to-eight years). So, it’s probably best to adopt a tone of light dismissiveness in response, which is why the DOJ statement is just right: “Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the Attorney General’s granddaughter was born. The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the President’s lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”

The Blinding Optimism of the Elites, Here and Abroad

by Jim Geraghty

A short offering from the last Morning Jolt of the week…

The French Elites, Comfortable with American Elites’ Playbook from 2016

Writing in the New York Times, Kamel Daoud contends that France’s political elites are telling themselves reassuring lies about how Marine Le Pen couldn’t possibly win:

Why is it, finally, that Ms. Le Pen cannot become president? Because while the far right has changed its discourse, the mainstream elites still hold on to their old ways of seeing the world, or imagining what it is.

Their analysis of the rise of populism is out of sync. It rests on assumptions, faulty reasoning and denial. The prospect of a Le Pen presidency upsets a kind of political positivism: the view that democracy can go only from good to better, from being a necessity to being a right. Ms. Le Pen’s election would run counter to the course of history, the reasoning goes, and therefore it cannot be. This is a happy ending for elites: a narrative convention, a marketable concept, a variant form of utopia — and the basis of an irrational political analysis.

Out-of-touch elites believing that they are destined to win forever because they represent progress? We know the feeling.

Abortion Lobby Doesn’t Want Women Informed About Choices

by Wesley J. Smith

Pro-abortion types claim they are “pro-choice.” But they apparently don’t want women considering abortions to be fully informed about what it is that they are making a choice about, most particularly the nature of the being that is the subject of the decision to be made.

Witness the brouhaha over Senator Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison endorsing Democrat candidate for mayor of Omaha, Heath Mello. NARAL, the Daily Kos, and others have gone into a fit because Mello is “anti-abortion.”

At least that what Politico calls Mellow in its headline about the story. Let’s see what theocratic imposition of anti-choice tyranny Mello supported. From, “DNC Rally with Anti-Abortion Candidate Fuels Backlash” (my emphasis):

The addition of an anti-abortion Nebraska mayoral candidate to a Democratic National Committee “unity tour” sparked blowback from the left on Thursday.

Democrat Heath Mello, a Bernie Sanders-backed candidate for mayor of Omaha, is scheduled to appear with Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the DNC’s new deputy chair, at a sold-out rally on Thursday.

But Mello’s sponsorship of a 2009 state Senate bill to require women be informed of their right to request a fetal ultrasound before obtaining an abortion prompted a leading abortion-rights group to slam the DNC for elevating him.

Did you get that? Politico’s reporter, Elana Schor brands the very pro-choice Mello–who has expressed strong support for Planned Parenthood–”anti-abortion” because he supported a bill that requires abortionists to tell women they have a right to receive information that could impact their decision.  

The Hill deployed the same (for them) epithet to describe Mello, as did NPR

Notice that Mello did not support a bill that would in any way restrict access to abortion. Still, the usual suspects have had a conniption, joined by the abortion lobby’s mainstream media camp followers.

That’s not “pro-choice.” It’s pro-abortion. And it explains why the pro-life Democrat has become a more endangered species than the California condor.

Howard Dean Is Peddling ‘Hate Speech’ Hogwash

by Charles C. W. Cooke

This again, and from a former governor no less:

This is incorrect, and dramatically so. There is no such thing as “hate speech” in American jurisprudence, nor is there any associated or comparable principle that comes close to it. Whatever moral determinations an individual might make about the hatefulness of a given set of words, there is simply no mechanism by which the government can back him up with force. In the United States, there is speech, and then, at the bleeding edge, there are incitement, obscenity, and libel. Contrary to Dean’s implication, none of this country’s “beyond-free-speech” categories are defined by subjective judgments such as “hatefulness,” “cruelty,” or “divisiveness,” and for good reason: If they were, we would all suffer under an effective Heckler’s Veto, and there would be no point in our having protections in the first instance.

It is often lost on the uninformed just how extraordinary are this country’s free speech protections. The stupidity of her comment notwithstanding, Ann Coulter is entirely free in America to say that she wishes the New York Times had been bombed, and she is free to do so without fear of recriminations or ill-treatment by the government. Indeed, Coulter is free to say far, far worse things than she has. With impunity, she could say that she thinks that slavery was a good idea; that the Holocaust didn’t happen; that blacks or Hispanics or Jews are genetically inferior to whites; that Iran has the correct policy toward gays — and that America should adopt it; that Asians should be ineligible for immigration; that the Nazis had it right, all told; and, even, that it would be a good thing if Americans staged a revolution. Under the Brandenburg standard, she couldn’t phrase her words in such a way as to incite imminent lawbreaking — there is a difference between saying “I think the government should be overthrown” in the abstract, and saying to a group of armed rebels, “Meet me in a hour, let’s overthrow the government” — but what constitutes “imminence” and “incitement” is extremely narrowly drawn, and, in any case, “hate” doesn’t enter into it. As has been shown time and time again — including recently in a case that involved the rights of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals — were Howard Dean to bring his theory to the courts, he would be swiftly laughed out of them.

And so he should be. I am no fan of Ann Coulter’s, and nor am I impressed by the turn that certain self-described “conservatives” have taken toward turning the movement into a haven for the worst sort of trolls. But if I have to choose between the people who say rotten things and the people who want to point bayonets at them, I’ll pick the former every time. That I’m being asked to make that choice illustrates the profound mistake that the contemporary Left is making on this question at present.

Friday links

by debbywitt

This 1983 episode of The Family Feud pitted the cast of Gilligan’s Island vs the cast of Batman.

Jazz was America’s “Secret Sonic Weapon” Against Communism.

South Indian frog oozes molecule that inexplicably devastates flu viruses.

April 22 is Earth Day: here’s the story of the co-founder who killed, then composted, his girlfriend.

The Science Behind Your Cheap Wine.

The Coffee Revolt of 1674: Women Campaigned to Prohibit “That Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor”.

ICYMI, Tuesday’s links are here, and include the history of women pirates, the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed 80% of San Francisco, the 8 year long McDonald’s Monopoly Fraud, and some history – T’was the eighteenth of April in seventy-five (the midnight ride of William Dawes and Samuel Prescott (and Paul Revere))

Monkman and Monkmaniac

by Jay Nordlinger

As regular readers may know, I am a fan of University Challenge, the British quiz show. I even wrote a little appreciation of it for Standpoint magazine last year (here).

This season, a standout was Eric Monkman, of Oakville, Canada. He captained the team from Wolfson College, Cambridge. They went all the way to the final round, before losing to an Oxford college (Balliol).

Monkman became a huge star, all over the world. (Many of us watch on YouTube.) There was even a hashtag: #monkmania. Why?

I could write an essay on this, but I think these are the basic reasons: his staggering knowledge, yes; his speed in answering; his obvious generosity of spirit. But I think the biggest reason of all is the following: Monkman is absolutely himself. Not trying to be anything else. Not wanting to be anything else. Not adopting a different persona for television.

I don’t pretend to be a societal shrink, but I think that people — monkmaniacs — reacted to a certain authenticity.

Anyway, Eric is my guest on Q&A. We recorded this afternoon (go here). I ask him a slew of questions: about his acquisition of knowledge; about such concepts as “elitism”; about the Internet. (He thinks that Wikipedia will be remembered as one of the great achievements of the early 21st century.)

In podcasts and elsewhere, I’ve interviewed many, many people, from many walks of life. It was a kick to talk with this quiz hero.

BREAKING: Terrorist Attack in Paris Leaves 1 Policeman Dead, 2 Wounded

by NR Staff

Via the New York Times:

PARIS — A gunman jumped out of a car, killed a police officer and wounded two others on the Champs-Élysées in central Paris on Thursday night, French officials said.

The gunman was shot dead by the police as he tried to flee on foot, Pierre-Henry Brandet, a French Interior Ministry spokesman, told the BFMTV news channel.

Mr. Brandet said that shortly before 9 p.m a car pulled up to a police vehicle that was parked on the famous boulevard.

The man opened fire on the police vehicle with an automatic weapon, killing an officer. He then “tried to leave by running away while aiming at, and trying to target, other police officers,” Mr. Brandet said.

“He managed to wound two others and was shot dead by the police forces,” Mr. Brandet added.

French authorities have confirmed that the shooter, who has not yet been named, was on a terror watchlist, and the French government is treating the attack as an act of terrorism.

The shooting comes just days before the first round of France’s presidential elections, scheduled for Sunday.

House Republicans Debut AHCA Amendment

by Alexandra DeSanctis

The House GOP has created an amendment to the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a product of ongoing negotiation between House leadership, moderate Republicans, and the conservative members of the Freedom Caucus. Republican leadership hopes this new compromise will garner enough votes to pass the bill, perhaps even right after Congress returns from recess next Tuesday.

The newest iteration of the bill, as indicated in the MacArthur Amendment, will reinstate essential health benefits as the federal standard and keep the key provisions of the original AHCA bill, which was scuttled last month after the GOP lacked the votes to pass it. According to CNBC, a member of the Freedom Caucus said the amendment would change the AHCA enough to gain the support of 18 to 20 new “yes” votes from his group.

Among the provisions maintained are guaranteed coverage, community-rating rules, coverage for preexisting conditions, and allowing dependents to remain on their parents’ health-care plan until the age of 26. But, in an attempt to reconcile the desire for greater coverage with conservative concerns about Obamacare’s regulations and ensuing premium hikes, the amendment will also offer states the option of obtaining limited waivers for some of the AHCA’s requirements.

States could seek these waivers for essential health benefits and community-rating rules, except for those regarding gender, age, and health status (with the exception of states with high-risk pools). States can only access these waivers if they intend to do so for the purpose of reducing premium costs, increasing the number of people insured, or otherwise benefiting the state’s public interest.

Although it is possible that Congress might revisit the AHCA and this amendment as early as next week, the looming possibility of government shutdown next Friday will likely force them to first deal with a spending bill.

Campus Watch