Planned Parenthood at 100

by NR Staff

Here’s the cover of the new issue of National Review, out today for subscribers, featuring Kevin D. Williamson’s cover story on the 100th anniversary of Planned Parenthood.

For this and more insight from the best conservative writers, subscribe to National Review’s digital magazine here.

Starting the Music Up Again After the Unspeakable Happens

by Jim Geraghty

Whether or not you’re a fan of Ariana Grande, your heart has to break at the thought of a 23-year-old trying to come to terms with the twist of fate that caused a terrorist to murder her school-age fans at her concert in Manchester. The bomber could have struck just about anywhere or anytime, but he chose this performance on this night. Her concerts were something that brought her and her fans great joy; now it’s associated with this. She’s understandably traumatized, describing herself as “broken.”

The band Pearl Jam dealt with a fatal tragedy at one of their concerts in 2000, when a stampede at a concert in Denmark led to the death of nine people. The band faced accusations that they were somehow at fault for the stampede, accusations they vehemently denied, saying no one at the event communicated to them about the dangerous situation in the audience until it was too late. The band canceled their next two shows and spent about a month in seclusion, then gradually returned to the stage, eventually establishing surprisingly close and lasting friendships with the families of the fans who died.

“To have that happen while we were playing, it was hard to continue on from there because your memories get connected to things, especially music, and that was a matter of life and death that absolutely had us thinking the band couldn’t go on,” Eddie Vedder said in 2002.

You may love Grande’s music, or you may find it to be soft-core tripe. But these unjust circumstances have brought us to the point where we all have to root for the arrival of the day she sings and performs on a stage again. To be silenced would be to concede a victory to the bomber.

“Sabotaging” Obamacare

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Response To...

The Republicans Sabotaged Obamacare by ...

It’s a little odd to watch seven justices vote to strike down one of Obamacare’s key provisions–the one cutting off all Medicaid funds to states that refrain from expanding the law–and conclude that the people who won were at fault for bringing the case. If a health-care law needs that level of support from both political parties to work well, maybe it’s a mistake to enact it without that support?

After Manchester

by Andrew Stuttaford

Writing in Spiked, Alaa al-Ameri, a British-Libyan economist and writer:

Britain has a long history of (relatively gradual) immigration and, most importantly, assimilation that has been, as much as anything, the result of acceptance by host communities – mostly at the levels of the working and lower middle classes. The rise in nationalism is blamed by the chattering classes on some inherent intolerance on the part of these same communities that have been the raw material of assimilation for decades. Yet these communities understand something that is lost on their accusers.

We can have all sorts of differences in class, outlook and background, as long as there is some common thread, some notion of shared interest, history and destiny that binds us together as a community. This is what Islamists and their apologists both reject. One because it violates their claim to govern humanity in the name of God, and the other because it sounds uncouth and parochial….

Islamists, for decades, have regarded Britain not as a family, but as a place to eat and sleep on their way to somewhere else. While the privileged wring their hands and wonder what they might have done to offend their exotic guests, those to whom the house belongs are beginning to pipe up and object. Whenever they do – for example, when their kids are murdered at a pop concert – their more sophisticated relatives seem mostly preoccupied with the desire to avoid a scene.

Openly discussing Islamism is not an attack on me or any other British Muslim. We are the hostages of Islamism and its vampire preachers who weaponised Salman Abedi and used him to slaughter 22 innocents, in the midst of their joy, out of sheer spite. Speaking frankly and honestly about this horror is the only hope we have of emerging from it as anything resembling a cohesive British family.

Douglas Murray, whose new book (The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam) is one that I shall be buying soon, clearly does not expect much frankness and honesty from Britain’s political class. Yes, keeping calm and carrying on is the right thing to do and, yes, Theresa May was, of course, correct to stress that Britain would not give in, but (Murray writes in The Spectator): 

[B]eneath the defiance lie deep, and deeply unanswered, questions. Questions which people across Europe are increasingly dwelling on, but which their political representatives dare not address.

Exactly a year ago, Greater Manchester Police staged a carefully prepared mock terrorist attack in the city’s shopping centre to test response capabilities. At one stage, an actor playing a suicide bomber burst through a doorway and detonated a fake device while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘Allah is Greatest’). The intention, obviously, was to make the scenario realistic. But the use of the jihadists’ signature sign-off sent social media into a spin. Soon community spokesmen were complaining on the media. One went on Sky to talk about the need ‘to have a bit of religious and cultural context when they’re doing training like this in a wider setting about the possible implications’.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan was hauled before the press. ‘On reflection,’ he admitted, ‘we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.’

…In Piccadilly Gardens [Manchester], at lunchtime on the day after the attacks, crowds of people listened to a busker play the usual post-massacre playlist: ‘All You Need Is Love’ and ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’. But just like the renditions of ‘Imagine’, the buskers are wrong. We need to do more than imagine. We need more than love. Everything is not all right. We need to address this problem, and start at the roots. Otherwise our societies will continue to be caught between people who mean what they say and a society which won’t even listen. And so they’ll keep meeting violently, these two worlds.

Meanwhile the EU is taking steps to tighten up on what can appear on the Internet.


The European Union (EU) has signed off on the first steps towards greater regulation of the internet with a vote to establish a universal set of video content censorship rules that companies like Facebook and Twitter would be forced to follow…. The EU Parliament wil have to give the final nod for the proposal to become law, but it seems inevitable that this will happen. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip says:

“It is essential to have one common set of audiovisual rules across the EU and avoid the complication of different national laws. We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way.”

And if you think that increasing government control over Internet content (this isn’t just an EU thing: ask Theresa May) will facilitate “frank and honest” discussion about what is going on, I have a bridge to sell you.

Another Reason Protectionism Won’t Work

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Robert Lighthizer, a longtime advocate for steel interests, is the new U.S. trade representative. He says that he wants to free America from “free-trade dogma.” But in practice, that wouldn’t open the door to a smarter economic policy. It would open the door to interest-group payoffs. The steel protectionism Lighthizer has advocated is a case in point, I argue today at Bloomberg View: It hurts the economy but has a powerful political lobby behind it.

An Obstacle to Single Payer

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Recent polls have found Obamacare to be at unprecedented levels of popularity while Republican efforts to replace it are very unpopular. My own interpretation of those polls: People don’t dislike the Republican plans because they favor Obamacare; they favor Obamacare because they dislike the Republican plans. The public’s dominant sentiment on health care is usually: Please, Washington, don’t do anything more to screw it up, especially if it could affect me.

In Slate, Danielle Ofri concludes from the Republicans’ problems that the public is ready for single payer. If I’m right about the centrality of public fear of Washington-imposed disruption in existing health-insurance arrangements, though, it’s bad news for single-payer enthusiasts too.

Polling on single payer has been mixed. In January, an AP-NORC poll found that 38 percent of Americans favor and 39 percent oppose “a single payer health care system, in which all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan.” If the system would involve a large increase in government spending—which it almost certainly would—the numbers shift to 47 percent opposition and 24 percent support. (The 47 percent number is my history-major math applied to the information provided at the link.)

Some pollster should ask about single payer while making it explicit that it involves replacing everyone’s existing insurance plan with a government-provided one

The Republicans Sabotaged Obamacare by Launching Unsuccessful Lawsuits Against It

by Rich Lowry

Abbe Gluck of Yale makes a singularly unpersuasive case that Republicans are responsible for the struggles of Obamacare in the New York Times, supposedly in large part by launching unsuccessful lawsuits against it. This sentence particularly stands out: “The Obama administration’s decision to allow more people to stay on their old plans than originally expected may also have narrowed the new pool of insurance customers in ways that contributed to premium hikes.” This may have some truth to it, but she doesn’t pause to note that letting people keep their plans if they liked them was a central Obama promise that helped the law get through. She is implicitly conceding that this promise so ran against the design of the law that even making a gesture toward keeping it undermined Obamacare’s implementation. 

Trump Got Trolled

by Rich Lowry

I’m open to believing the worst on Russia, but at the moment I think the likeliest theory of what’s happened is that Trump, in effect, got trolled into lashing out over the investigation and the press coverage. I wrote about this for Politico today:

Rush Limbaugh a couple of weeks ago said he was laughing over Trump’s “epic troll” of the Democrats by firing FBI Director James Comey (and meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the next day). It was really the other way around. Trump wasn’t the troller; he was the trollee…

Limbaugh isn’t wrong to identify Trump with this species of provocation. In fact, it’s possible to see Trump’s entire campaign in 2016 as one long troll of respectable opinion. He routinely stoked the outrage and disgust of the media and the establishment in a way that boosted him in the eyes of his supporters. It’s no accident that among his most ardent admirers were fellow practitioners, like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos…

How did the hunter become the hunted in the Russian controversy? Trump’s critics stumbled on a couple of his greatest weaknesses — namely, an extreme sensitivity to slights over his status (in this case, as winner of last year’s election) and to negative media coverage.

Gianforte’s Goonery Is All His Own

by Rich Lowry

There’s been some commentary about how Gianforte’s body slam of a reporter — which his campaign lied about – is the kind of thing that is bound to happen in Trump’s America. I thought Trump’s calling out of individual reporters by name at his rallies during the campaign was unseemly and wrong, but there’s no connection between that and an adult in possession of all his faculties throwing to the ground and punching someone for asking some unwelcome questions. Unfortunately, though, politics doesn’t always attract the most commendable people. Before there was Greg Gianforte (or Donald Trump), there was Michael Grimm. All that said, it’s dismaying to see some conservatives defending or making excuses for Gianforte’s assault — I guess they haven’t been paying attention to the debate on campus, where conservatives have been trying to make the case that hearing speech you don’t like doesn’t justify violence.

Uncommon Knowledge: OMB Director Mick Mulvaney

by Peter Robinson

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, director of the Office of Budget and Management, sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss the complex process of budget reform by having to blend President Trump’s budget proposal with the realities of dealing with Congress. Mulvaney explains the need for bipartisanship in budget negotiations within the Senate to get the budget passed, which means getting at least eight Democrats to vote for the proposed budget (to get to the magic number of 60 votes) and keeping Trump’s promises to his base.

Is Free Speech So Diminished That Only Recidivists Should Be Punished?

by Andrew C. McCarthy

Response To...

Louisiana Succeeds Where Middlebury Failed

Stanley’s important post on the free-speech provision enacted in Louisiana shows how out of touch I am. My first reaction, upon reading the part about how a second offense for shutting down a speaker mandates a one-year suspension or expulsion, was that the law needs a provision along the lines of: “The mandate of a one-year suspension or expulsion penalty for a second offense should not be construed to preclude imposition of those penalties for a first offense.”

To my mind, an essential purpose of the university (if the universities we now have can still be thought essential) is the free exchange of ideas, very much including ideas that students may find disagreeable or noxious. If that exchange is prevented in the university, then the university is not worth having – there being plenty of ways to access and learn important information in the 21st century without attending a college campus.

We are dealing with young people, of course. Having been one, I can attest that there are many foolish things done that might warrant discipline short of suspension or expulsion. But we are talking here about behavior that undermines the core educational mission – and, in many instances, does so through behavior that violates criminal laws against assault and damaging property. I don’t question the proposition that there could be extenuating circumstances in the rare individual case that might warrant less severe penalties. But it seems to me that preventing scholars and other experts from engaging with students should presumptively result in suspension or expulsion.

Alas, as Stanley explains, the biggest hurdle the model Goldwater legislation faces is the mandatory penalty for a second offense. I guess I’m old school when it comes to school, but I think that’s nuts.

The Feminist Case against Abortion

Oceans of Enjoyment

by Jack Fowler

From the WFB vaults are 19 hardcover and 13 paperback editions of Bill’s sailing classic, Atlantic High: A Celebration, documenting his month-long 1980 passage, with a crew of hearty friends, on the Sealestial, departing the Caribbean for Bermuda and then Spain. It is a fascinating adventure that Bill captures beautifully (as does photographer Christopher Little – the book overflows with his exceptional work).

We’re moving, so — Do you want a copy? You can have the hardcover for $20, and the softcover for $15.

Louisiana Succeeds Where Middlebury Failed

by Stanley Kurtz

The disgraceful failure of Middlebury College to seriously sanction the students who shouted down Charles Murray has green-lighted mob violence on America’s college campuses. The only realistic hope of countering this problem now lies in bills currently winding their way through legislatures in several states. While various campus free speech bills are on offer, only legislation based on the proposal I co-authored with the Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of Arizona’s Goldwater Institute systematically addresses the need to discipline students who shout-down visiting speakers.

Yesterday, by a margin of 66 to 26, the Louisiana House passed a campus free speech bill closely based on the Goldwater proposal. Republicans enjoy a 61 to 41 margin in the Louisiana House, with 3 independents. The bill was supported by 52 Republicans, 12 Democrats, and 2 Independents, with 13 legislators absent.

The Louisiana bill, like the Goldwater proposal it is modeled on, instructs the state university system to develop a range of disciplinary sanctions for students who interfere with the expressive rights of others. Students are to be informed of those sanctions during freshman orientation. Also, a committee created by the state university system trustees is to submit an annual review of the administrative handling of free-speech-related student discipline to the public, the trustees, the Governor and the legislature.

The trustees hold the power to fire the system’s leading administrator while the legislature holds the power of the purse. Since a bad report would constitute reason for action by either trustees or the legislature against the university, the oversight system is meant to act as a check on the administrative tendency to let shout-downs pass without punishment.

Crucially, the Louisiana bill, like the Goldwater proposal it is modeled on, includes the following provision: “any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year or expelled.” This provision is expressly designed to prevent administrators from handing out meaningless Middlebury-style slaps on the wrist ad infinitum.

Invariably, in states considering legislation based on the Goldwater model, the provision mandating suspension for a second offense has occasioned the most comment and opposition, generally from state university systems and from Democrats. (Although note that a substantial number of Democrats voted for the Louisiana bill.) This is unsurprising, since universities desperately want to avoid handing out serious discipline to students in shout-downs. Administrators are afraid to anger students or their parents, and see caving to demonstrators as the best way to get their schools off the front pages.

While the Goldwater-based Louisiana bill does mandate discipline, it also takes the rights of students accused in shout-down incidents very seriously. The Goldwater proposal includes very strong protections for the due process rights of the accused—considerably stronger than the law requires, and far stronger than students are generally accorded in disciplinary proceedings under Title IX sexual assault cases. The annual report by the committee of trustees also serves as a check, not only on administrative weakness but on administrative unfairness to students accused in shout-downs. So while the Goldwater proposal is the only one that provides for disciplining shout-downs, it also includes critically important safeguards against abuse.

Despite this, I expect that some legislatures will remove the mandatory minimum punishment for a second offense provision under pressure from universities that don’t want to be forced to discipline shout-downs in any serious way. Even without that provision, bills based on the Goldwater proposal would still do a great deal to encourage discipline for shout-downs. Nonetheless, the public needs to know that only the full Goldwater proposal, including the critical provision mandating suspension for a second instance of interfering with the expressive rights of others, serves as a maximally effective counterweight to the kind of administrative malfeasance we’ve seen at Middlebury.

This means that we need to be more attentive to the substance of the many campus free speech bills now under consideration by state legislatures. California, for example, is currently considering two campus free speech bills. One would eliminate “free speech zones,” while the other, sponsored by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), is based on the Goldwater proposal. Melendez’s bill would not only eliminate campus “free speech zones” but would discipline shout-downs as well. The Los Angeles Times article on the two bills clearly tilts toward the less comprehensive bill focused only on free speech zones. Yet that bill would do nothing to prevent shout-downs like the ones Heather MacDonald faced at UCLA and Claremont. In fact, one of the remarkable features of the Melendez bill is that it goes beyond the Goldwater proposal and uses a threatened cut-off of state aid to include private as well as public colleges and universities in its purview. That really would have an impact on both UCLA (public) and Claremont (private).

A campus free speech bill recently passed in Tennessee has rightly received national attention. It’s an excellent bill and a major step forward. That said, while the Tennessee bill clearly prohibits speaker shout-downs, it does nothing to actually enforce that prohibition. Only bills based on the Goldwater model firmly, fairly, and systematically address the issue of enforcing sanctions for speaker shout-downs and similar acts of interfering with the expressive rights of others.

Speaker shout-downs are the heart and soul of the campus free speech crisis. We could eliminate every free speech zone in the country and the crisis would still spin out of control if speaker shout-downs continue to go effectively unpunished. Only bills based on the Goldwater model go straight to the heart of the problem. Thankfully, Louisiana has recognized this. Passage of the Louisiana Campus Free Speech Act and similar bills in other states is our best hope to counter the surrender at Middlebury.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [email protected]

‘Send a Fighter to Congress!’ Wait, Wait, We Didn’t Mean Like That!

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

‘Send a Fighter to Congress!’ Wait, Wait, We Didn’t Mean Like That!

If today’s special House election in Montana goes badly for the Republicans, the party has a ready excuse.

“You should see how well we would have done if our candidate hadn’t suddenly been possessed by the spirit of Rowdy Roddy Piper!”

Yes, reporters can be annoying. No, you can’t physically assault them because you don’t like their questions. Most people pick this lesson up by kindergarten.

Of course, 238,320 Montanans have already voted by mail, which will probably be about two-thirds of the total vote. Anybody want to rethink their views on early voting? This time it was that the guy you already voted for is charged with misdemeanor assault; next time it could be that the guy’s charged with being an axe murderer.

The Billings Gazette editorial board rescinded their endorsement. “If what was heard on tape and described by eye-witnesses is accurate, the incident in Bozeman is nothing short of assault. We wouldn’t condone it if it happened on the street. We wouldn’t condone it if it happened in a home or even a late-night bar fight. And we couldn’t accept it from a man who is running to become Montana’s lone Congressional representative.”

And the editorial board of The Missoulan: “There is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

And the editorial board of the Helena Independent Record: “We take our endorsements seriously and retracting an endorsement even more seriously, but we cannot in good faith continue to support this candidate.”

Some will inevitably shrug, “Well, what do you expect from the liberal media?!” Of course, that argument ignores that all of these newspapers endorsed Gianforte in the first place.

Thursday links

by debbywitt


Fans of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: don’t panic - today is Towel Day!

Why You Do Your Best Thinking In The Shower: Creativity and the “Incubation Period”.

15 Famous People Who Actually Married Their Cousins.

Before and After Editing: The Real Women Behind Gil Elvgren’s Classic Pin-up Paintings.

The Curious Evolution of the Typewriter, in Pictures.

Finnish Brewery Sells 1000-Packs Of Beer.

ICYMI, Monday’s links are here, and include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday, how to build your own medieval crossbow, when women started growing out and painting their nails, and the history of tea.

Mugabe’s Noble Challenger

by Jay Nordlinger

Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980. Since then, it has been ruled by one man: the dictator Robert Mugabe. At 93, he is getting ready to run again, in one of those sham elections.

Like most Zimbabweans, Evan Mawarire has never known any other leader. And today, he is a nightmare for Mugabe: a principled, moral, talented, brave critic.

Mawarire is a Christian pastor. Last year, he made a video, expressing love of country, and exasperation at the decades-long dictatorship. The video went viral in Zimbabwe. The pastor became a rallying point.

He was arrested, of course, and soon had to flee the country with his family. He has since returned (and been arrested again, of course).

This week, he managed to be at the Oslo Freedom Forum, in Norway. I sat down with him for a podcast: a Q&A, here. Evan Mawarire is an inspiring person to listen to, an inspiring person to know. He may even be president of his country one day.

The President, the Pope, and Fatima

by John J. Miller

My latest Bookmonger podcast is with Paul Kengor, author of A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century. One of its revelations: Both men were fascinated by Fatima. 

‘It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn.’

by Rich Lowry

The New York Times has a new blockbuster™ story this afternoon on Russian officials talking about trying to influence Trump aides, but there’s always a caveat in these kind of reports that makes them more smoke as opposed to a smoking gun. In the case of the Times piece, it is the above sentence. (And even if the Russian officials did try to influence them, that still leaves us short of collusion.) 

Mr. Human Rights

by Jay Nordlinger

In 2005, Thor Halvorssen founded the Human Rights Foundation (steps away from NR in the Empire State Building). In 2009, he founded its companion, the Oslo Freedom Forum. The forum is taking place this week. Thor is my guest on the latest Q&A podcast, here. We talk about two of his specialties: dictatorship and democracy. Few can talk about those important subjects so well as he.

At the end, we talk about a particular dictatorship: that in his home country, Venezuela. Thor Halvorssen, a Venezuelan? Yes: has a Norwegian name, talks like an American, is Venezuelan.

A man to listen to.