Oprah and McMartin Preschool ‘Retrials’

by Andrew Stuttaford

In a post yesterday, I mentioned the contribution made by Oprah Winfrey to the ritual satanic abuse witch hunts of the 1980s. One of the most notorious cases of that era was the McMartin preschool trial, and I quoted this from an article last year by Philip Terzian in the Weekly Standard (my emphasis added):

The police were quickly persuaded that ritual satanic sexual abuse—a popular preoccupation of the era—was a regular feature of life at the McMartin preschool, and social workers prompted and (in many cases) badgered their 3- and 4-year-old witnesses to affirm and repeat increasingly fantastic accounts. This was the pre-social-media era, to be sure; but the national press and assorted TV personalities—including future Presidential Medal of Freedom laureate Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael, and newsman Geraldo Rivera, among many others—seized on the story with particular relish, and a nationwide hunt began. In the subsequent decade, the McMartin case was followed by many more spectacles—featuring comparably outlandish, and curiously identical, tales—involving dozens of nursery schools across America and hundreds of day-care employees, mass arrests, prosecutions, and deliberately long prison sentences.

Eventually that case collapsed, but I was unaware of this particular  postscript.

Here’s Howard Rosenberg, writing in the LA Times In January 1990 (my emphasis added):

It was a dream.

Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner did not drop charges against five of seven people accused of molesting children attending the McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach. There was never a McMartin trial that lasted 2 1/2 years. There was never a McMartin verdict acquitting the remaining two defendants of 52 counts of child molestation.

Yes, it was all a dream.

At least that’s the impression you get these days from watching some of television, where former McMartin students and their parents have succeeded at last in doing what they have been unable to do in the courts:

Convict the McMartin defendants…

Even in trying to address child molestation trials as a generic issue, the [Geraldo]  show was overwhelmingly concerned with the ordeal of the children caught up in the McMartin case. No one would reject that as a legitimate concern. But what about the ordeal of the seven original defendants, especially Buckey and his mother, who each spent years in jail?

That question was not addressed on “Geraldo.” Nor was it addressed on two earlier TV retrials of the case, on “Oprah” and “Sally Jessy Raphael.” Compared to them, “Geraldo” was as judicious as the Supreme Court.

A smaller number of former McMartin students and their parents were on stage in Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago studio along with Greg Mooney, the attorney who represents many of the McMartin families, and Colleen Mooney, director of the South Bay Center for Counseling, which treated some of the McMartin children.

Speaking by satellite from Los Angeles–and as electronically disadvantaged as the satellite guests on “Geraldo”–were McMartin Judge William Pounders and Brenda Williams, the most articulate of the McMartin jurors who have gone public after the verdict.

The level of fairness here was typified by Winfrey’s admission that she would have made a poor McMartin juror because “I would say, ‘The children said it; all right, you’re right.’ ” The studio audience applauded.

Their truth, presumably.


Winfrey’s show is a perfect vehicle for emotions, which she brings out with great sincerity. That’s her strength. Yet her show has difficulty reaching the stories beneath the surface tears, and, like much of TV, it strips away nuances and tailors complexities to its own time constraints.

Winfrey to a former McMartin student: “What did you tell the jury?” That’s right, capsulize 16 days of testimony in a few sentences.

Again to the same student: “How old were you when all of these things allegedly happened?” And now to the student’s mother: “How did you at first find out that something was allegedly going on at the school?”

Using allegedly here was like trying to mend decapitation with a Band-Aid.

Of all of TV’s talk show hosts, Winfrey is perhaps the least inclined to play devil’s advocate. She could have asked Pounders about the propriety of his multiple talk show appearances, but didn’t. She could have demanded evidence when one of her guests accused McMartin defendants of “terrorist tactics,” but didn’t.

It was clear that she, her studio audience and the McMartin kids and their parents were on the same side…

Twelve Things that Caught My Eye Today (Jan. 11, 2018)

by Kathryn Jean Lopez


2. From Open Doors: The 50 countries where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus 

3. From an e-mail from Aid to the Church in Need: ”First Christmas Mass in Mosul since 2014—Muslims lend a hand”: 

Keep reading this post . . .

Felzenberg to Talk Buckley in Florida

by Jack Fowler

Our pal Al Felzenberg, author of the acclaimed biography, A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr, will be talking about our founder this Monday, January 15, at 2:30 p.m. at The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Fla.

Reservations are required: Get complete information here. (And if you go, look for NRI president Lindsay Craig — she’d love to meet you).

Meghan McCain Takes Michael Wolff to Task over Trump Exposé

by Alexandra DeSanctis

On The View Wednesday morning, Meghan McCain put Michael Wolff through his most difficult interview yet, pressing him to answer for some of the errors in his new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

The sensational book — which was released earlier than its scheduled publication date, after excerpts published last week sent political insiders into a frenzy — contains countless stories of dysfunction within the Trump administration over the last year, most of which reflects poorly on the president and those surrounding him.

The factual basis of much of Wolff’s material has been questioned, however, including the validity a number of the quotes and stories he ascribes to individuals both in and out of the White House.

“You know, Michael, your credibility is being questioned. Trump says the book is full of lies-” McCain began, before Wolff interrupted to ask who exactly was questioning his credibility.

“Let me finish,” McCain shot back. “New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, New York Times’ John Martin, David Brooks, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Tony Blair, Tom Barrack, Kate Walsh, Anna Wintour all denying quotes. . . . There are a lot of factual errors in here . . . How can I trust some of these quotes when, again . . . all these people are denying these quotes and stories attributed to them?”

“Well, you have to look at the great number of people not denying them,” Wolff protested. And later he insisted, “The New York Times is going into some amount of apoplexy about this probably because I kind of scooped them.”

Later in the interivew, when Wolff admitted that he had quoted material from an ostensibly off-the-record dinner he hosted at his home with Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon, McCain groused, “This is why people hate journalists, by the way. It’s why I don’t believe in the concept of ‘off the record,’ this right here.”

Wolff did admit in the interview to having mixed up the names of the Berman brothers in his book — one of the several glaring factual errors the book contains — but he never addressed the other errors McCain mentioned, nor the fact that a laundry list of prominent individuals are denying having made the comments Wolff ascribes to them.

While many seem intent on believing the claims in Fire and Fury, McCain’s decision to pressure Wolff for some of his mistakes revealed the author’s unwillingness or inability to account for them.

Here is a video of the back-and-forth:

National Review Summer Internship

by NR Staff

National Review is accepting applications for its summer internship. The intern will work in our New York office, receive a modest stipend, participate in every part of the editorial process, and have some opportunities to write. The ideal candidate will have an excellent academic record and some experience in student or professional journalism. If you wish to apply, please send a cover letter, your résumé, and two of your best writing samples (no more, please) to editorial.applications (at) nationalreview.com.

Elderly Indian Couple Ask for Joint Active Euthanasia

by Wesley J. Smith

A healthy elderly couple in India is asking for joint euthanasia because their lives are of no use. From the Telegraph story:

Mumbai: A city-based elderly couple have sought President Ram Nath Kovind’s permission for active euthanasia or “assisted suicide”, saying they “are of no use to the society or themselves”.

Narayan Lavate, 88, and Iravati, 78, who have no children and say their siblings are also no more, have likened their lives to life imprisonment and argued that keeping them alive against their wishes is a “waste of the country’s scarce resources as well as theirs.”

And they have offered a utilitarian “plum to society” (as I once put it), if their desire to be killed is allowed:

In their plea, the couple have said that they had “already committed to donate our bodies after death and whatever little wealth we have to the state treasury”. 

No one would ever permit that! Right?

Wrong. In Belgium, Netherlands, and Canada, doctors already conjoin euthanasia with organ harvesting.

Doctors in Belgium and Netherlands also commit the occasional joint euthanasia homicides of elderly couples. Switzerland’s suicide tourism industry has also assisted “two-fers.” (I wonder if the suicidal couple received a discount from the individual death price?)

So, this is the nihilistic virus that euthanasia activists have unleashed. Alas, as this story illustrates, the pathogen is spreading.

For those who have eyes to see, let them see.

Tax Cut Armageddon, Part Five!

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Armageddon, Part Five

As Nancy Pelosi warned us… it’s Armageddon out there! (See parts one, two, three, and four.)

It’s Armageddon for the roughly one million hourly employees of Wal-Mart!

Walmart’s employees will reap the benefits of the recent tax law changes, as the company raises its starting wage and distributes bonuses to eligible workers.

The big-box retailer announced Thursday it will be increasing its starting wage rate for hourly employees in the U.S. to $11, and expand maternity and parental leave benefits. The retailer also will pay a one-time cash bonus to eligible employees of as much as $1,000.

Currently, Walmart’s starting wage is $9 until workers complete a training program. Then, they receive $10.

The company is also creating a new benefit that provides financial assistance to its employees who are looking to adopt a child, giving them as much as $5,000 per child to cover expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal costs.

It’s Armageddon for trash collectors!

Waste Management, Inc. announced today that, in light of the meaningful contributions of its employees and the new U.S. corporate tax structure, the company will distribute US $2,000 in 2018 to every North American employee not on a bonus or sales incentive plan; that includes hourly and other employees.

Approximately 34,000 qualified Waste Management employees could receive this special bonus.

It’s Armageddon for electricity customers!

Washington Gas officials say they plan to pass on an estimated $34 million in annual tax savings in the rates charged to 1.1 million customers in the District, Maryland and Virginia. The lower rates would kick in early this year, the company said.

Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest utility, with 2.5 million customers, is evaluating the impact of the corporate tax cut and “how it might benefit our customers,” spokesman Chuck Penn said.

It’s Armageddon for winery employees!

In response to the tax cut bill that passed this week, John Jordan, owner of Jordan Winery in Sonoma County, California, announces that he will give all eligible winery employees a $1,000 bonus as a result of the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill.

It’s Armageddon for… digital sheet music makers!

The new year brings a new salary increase for all 55 employees at Musicnotes, Inc., the worldwide leader in digital sheet music based in Madison, Wisconsin. Effective January 1st, the 3% salary increase is tied specifically to corporate tax reform and is in addition to Musicnotes’ existing annual raises to eligible employees.

It’s Armageddon for pharmaceutical companies!

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation CEO Lou Kennedy today announced five percent increases for all employees with the exception of commissioned employees. The raises are a direct result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law last week by President Donald Trump.

It’s Armageddon for credit-card company employees!

“Tax reform in the United States will strengthen Visa’s competitive position globally and create new opportunities for Visa to invest in our business,” the company said in a statement. “With the additional 401(k) match, Visa’s U.S. employees will enjoy a sustained benefit, consistent with the role they will play in building our business.”

The company said it will increase its 401(k) contribution to 10 percent of base salary. In other words, an employee who earns $100,000 a year can set aside $5,000 and the company will contribute $10,000. Visa’s longstanding policy has been to contribute $2 for every $1 an employee contributes. Employees can now contribute up to 5 percent of base pay, up from 3 percent.

Oh, the humanity! When will it all end?

Steve Bannon and Populism’s Missed Opportunities

by Peter Spiliakos

One of Steve Bannon’s problems is that he learned some wrong lessons from 2016. He thought that Trump’s election proved that the political establishment was so unpopular that there was no such thing as a populist candidate too repugnant for the voters. It turned out that the election of a candidate as vicious as Trump was more the exception than the rule. Tying the populist cause to Paul Nehlen’s antisemitism and to Roy Moore’s combination of bigotry, senility, and hebephilia turned out to be a tactical error (to say nothing of a moral error.)

Bannon also misjudged the constituency for center-right populism. Trump didn’t win because of the social-media posts of half-ass Internet Nazis. He won because millions of mostly working-class, white, economically moderate Obama voters shifted toward the Republican column. They did this because Trump talked as if their problems were real and could not be solved by another round of tax cuts for the rich. But these voters can’t eat white-identity politics. Candidates ranting about Israeli influence or being nostalgic about slavery family values hurts as a matter of raw politics. And thank God for that.

Bannon had a chance to take on the Republican establishment, but it required discipline and some measure of decency. It required combining his talents for publicity and fundraising with candidates of character.

Between them, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz got about 70 percent of the Republican presidential-primary vote. That is a lot of people who are hostile to the “Swamp.” Most of those people are, like David Brat (who came out of nowhere to beat Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor), unknown. An effective Bannonite infrastructure would have sifted from among that vast number of disaffected Republicans to find the candidates with the least baggage and then invested in a little training to help them (who would — whatever their positive qualities — tend to be novices) appeal to the widest possible electorate. That is what the hated Republican establishment does. That is its biggest advantage. It makes an effort to spot and nurture talent.

Instead of doing that, Bannon decided it was easier to ally with grifters and lunatics who had preexisting brands. The result is that a “populism” of Paul Nehlen, Roy Moore, Joe Arpaio, and Steve Bannon looks worse than no populism at all.

There are still decent populists. Utah Senator Mike Lee has taken an interest in the struggles of the working class. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has dissented from the GOP establishment on immigration. Between the two of them, one can see the outline of a populist conservative agenda. They also have the added advantage of actually being senators (unlike Roy Moore.)

Lee and Cotton are unusually well-credentialed men, but an effective populism would give them congressional allies who are drawn from ranks of everyday American life. Not everybody can be a Harvard Law grad turned Army infantry officer, but the vast pool of Republicans who dissent from their party’s lobbyist classes contains better, saner people than the Nehlens and the Moores. These better populists have to be found and nurtured. Maybe that will be a job for a better and saner successor to Steve Bannon.

Michael Wolff and the Death Rattle of Trumpophobia

by Conrad Black

From my most recent NRO article, about Michael Wolff’s notorious new book: “It is so overtly and egregiously false, so completely worthless as an account of what is happening in the White House, the respectable elements of Trumpophobia are finally taking to the lifeboats.”

Whether you agree or disagree, your comments are, as always, most welcome.

What Sort of Infrastructure Bill Does the White House Want?

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Over the weekend Josh Dawsey reported for the Washington Post that “President Trump expressed misgivings about his administration’s infrastructure plan Friday at Camp David, telling Republican leaders that building projects through public-private partnerships is unlikely to work — and that it may be better for the government to pursue a different path.” That sentence is accurate, without spin, and utterly remarkable. As are the next sentences: “Then on Saturday morning, Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, delivered a detailed proposal on infrastructure and public-private partnerships that seemed to contradict the president. He said the administration hoped $200 billion in new federal government spending would trigger almost $1 trillion in private spending and local and state spending, according to people familiar with his comments. Cohn seemed to present the plan as the administration’s approach, although the president had suggested such an approach might not work.”

At CNBC, Eamonn Javers has a similar report: “A senior GOP Capitol Hill aide agreed that the plan under consideration and the president’s plan might be at odds. ‘There’s an outline of a plan that (White House economic advisor) Gary Cohn has put forward. I’m not sure if Trump is completely on board with that,’ the aide said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.” Note that by “the plan under consideration” Javers appears to mean “the plan under consideration by the White House.”

There have certainly been occasions during previous administrations when a president had sentiments at odds with those prevailing among his aides. That seems to have been true of President George W. Bush on federal funding for embryo-destructive research and President Barack Obama on Afghanistan policy. What I can’t recall is any occasion during a previous administration when anyone entertained the possibility that there might be a “White House policy” different from the president’s. But this administration runs very differently than past ones, for good or ill.

The Terrible DACA Ruling Is a Symptom of Our Constitutional Order’s Atrophy

by Jonah Goldberg

Josh Blackman offers the best legal analysis of Judge William Alsup’s ridiculous ruling barring President Trump from rescinding DACA.

But, without stealing too much from Charlie’s bag of peeves (or prematurely borrowing from my forthcoming book), I think it’s worth emphasizing how this is just a symptom of a much larger and more pernicious problem afflicting our entire constitutional order.

The system the Founders set up depends to a huge degree on the assumption that our branches of government will be jealous guardians of their institutional prerogatives and powers. Indeed, the Founders expected that each branch of government would, from time to time, try to steal more power than afforded them by the Constitution. They assumed that the greatest bulwark against such encroachments would be the refusal of the other branches to relinquish their rights and power. It never occurred to them that the branches would willingly relinquish their responsibilities to the other branches.

This thread from @ThomasHCrown is an excellent summary of what has happened, and it is worth reading and retweeting.

Lord knows I had my problems with Steve Bannon – but, as I wrote at the time, he was absolutely right about the administrative state. Congress, the courts, and the executive branch have each in their own way acquiesced to a separate, parallel government walled off from democratic accountability. Congress has bequeathed the power to make laws and even, in some cases, to raise taxes to independent agencies. The courts, meanwhile, have been happy to let the bureaucracy combine what should be separated powers in the hands of bureaucrats. As Clarence Thomas put it, the courts have “overseen and sanctioned the growth of an administrative system that concentrates the power to make laws and the power to enforce them in the hands of a vast and unaccountable administrative apparatus that finds no comfortable home in our constitutional structure.”

But it’s not just the administrative state. No one wants to take political responsibility for policies they want. Just last week, Senator Cory Gardner was livid with Jeff Sessions for not maintaining the Obama policy of stealing power and authority from Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts upheld Obamacare because he didn’t want the Supreme Court to take the heat that would come with doing its job. When George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold, he said he thought parts of it were unconstitutional but he was happy to pass the buck to the Supreme Court anyway. I could go on.

In one sense, Democrats are worse than Republicans because they have a philosophical commitment to advancing policies as the crow flies. The history of progressivism has always been defined by a willingness to advance the ball wherever the field is open. But the flipside to this is that at least the Democrats are philosophically consistent in their animosity toward the Constitution. Republicans claim to be passionate guardians of the Constitution — they just aren’t all that interested in doing the work required of such guardians.

New White House Talking Points on Immigration

by Ramesh Ponnuru

They include this all-cap sentence: “ANY DEAL ON DACA MUST END CHAIN MIGRATION, ELIMINATE THE VISA LOTTERY, AND FULLY SECURE THE BORDER, INCLUDING WITH A WALL.” During yesterday’s televised meeting on immigration, President Trump made those policies sound like things he would like to have but would not insist on. A lot of observers, including me, wondered whether the White House would try to undo that impression. We’ve got our answer. Well, our provisional answer.

Update: At a joint press conference with the Norwegian prime minister this afternoon, Trump said he would not sign a bill without funding for a border wall.

The Editors: The Making of the Sausage

by NR Staff

Check out the latest episode of The Editors, in which Rich, Charlie, Reihan, and Michael Brendan Dougherty discuss Trump’s immigration meeting, Michael Wolff’s claims about him, and more!

You can subscribe to The Editors on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, and TuneIn. You can also download this episode here.

Mike Murphy on The Jamie Weinstein Show

by Jamie Weinstein

In the latest episode of my podcast, I sat down with Mike Murphy in Los Angeles. Known for his political insight and colorful commentary, he didn’t disappoint.

The famed Republican political strategist opened up on a lot of issues, including a possible Mitt Romney 2020 presidential run, and his hope the GOP will return to the days when party elites chose presidential nominees.

“Oh, yeah, I think so, if he wants to run,” Murphy said when asked if he thinks Romney, who is reportedly considering a run for Senate in Utah and whom Murphy guided into the governor’s mansion in Massachusetts, is a viable presidential candidate in 2020.

Murphy sees the 2020 field as wide open because he doesn’t believe Donald Trump — who he says has been “beyond awful” — will ultimately run for re-election. And if voters always vote for the opposite of what they did last time, as Murphy believes, Mitt seems perfectly positioned.

“Trump seemed like a bumbling incompetent in many ways, so what’s the opposite of that — who is a comfortable Republican, super-confident, safe, no drama choice? It’s Mitt,” he declared. 

Murphy, who ran Jeb Bush’s Super PAC during the 2016 presidential race, also made the case for returning to the days of “smoked-filled rooms” to choose Republican Party presidential nominees.

“The old smoke-filled rooms were mostly about how do we win and move the ball forward. They were professional politicians, which is the art of getting policy victories for a point of view by organizing and persuading,” he argued.

“People say, ‘Oh, it’s anti-democratic,’” he continued. “No, that’s what the general election is for. I like the idea of party elites making rational choices in the primary.”

As for the political aides who he sees as enabling Trump’s presidency, he warned (I think at least half-jokingly), “It’s not like we’re not keeping a list of all these guys.”

Listen to the full episode here. Even if you hate what he says, you’ll love the way he says it.

When Should the Feds Let Students Out of Paying Back Their Loans?

by George Leef

Here’s one of the worst problems with federal student loans: The government makes it easy for kids who don’t belong in college to borrow money to attend schools that merely pretend to educate them. Sometimes those schools used dodgy tactics to get the students to enroll. Should the government let those students out of having to repay, thus sticking the taxpayers with the loss?

That has become quite a heated controversy in Washington, and I write about it in this Martin Center article.

When this erupted under Obama, following his Education Department’s crusade against some of those dodgy for-profit schools, officials curried favor with students by taking a very liberal approach. Under Trump, however, Betsy DeVos has chosen to adopt a different approach, one that looks at students individually. Even if they attended a school accused of fraud or misrepresentation, they haven’t necessarily suffered any damage. The Democrats and activist groups are up in arms, calling her effort at minimizing the loss to taxpayers an attack on hapless students.

I think that DeVos has made another brave move, as she did by rescinding the Obama-era Title IX “guidance,” but a better “borrower defense” rule doesn’t solve the underlying problem. That problem is federal student lending itself. The government has no incentive to make only those student loans that make sense. It ought to get out of this business and leave it to people who are playing with their own money.

Oprah, Subjective Truth and Salem 2.0

by Andrew Stuttaford

Over on the homepage Philip Devoe rightly laments Oprah Winfrey’s fondness for pseudoscience and New Age ‘thinking’. It would only be fair to also mention the role she played in the 1980s Satanic ritual abuse panic. Writing in the Houston Press in 2015, Chris Lane recalls the contribution made to this disgrace by the book Michelle Remembers (my emphasis added):

Michelle Remembers describes the therapy sessions that a Canadian psychiatrist named Lawrence Pazder conducted on a patient. The book is the first written on Satanic ritual abuse, which his patient, Michelle, “remembered” through lengthy hypnosis sessions. It’s one of the first books popularizing the idea of repressed memories of victims of Satanic abuses, and largely influenced the ensuing panic. Michelle Remembers was hugely profitable for both Pazder, who co-authored the book, and Michelle Smith, but the stories of abuse seem to have been largely or entirely false, with many contradictions and factual errors cropping up. Michelle’s recovered memories were horrific, involving rituals she was forced to take part in at the age of five. According to Michelle, these included being locked in a cage, being sexually abused and tortured, and being covered in the blood and body parts of victims who were murdered as part of the rituals conducted by a satanic cult.

The book sold well, and was heavily promoted by the media, including talk show hosts like Oprah Winfrey, and propelled the idea of widespread Satanic ritual abuse into the mainstream. Michelle Remembers also created a template that many other subsequent cases would use, and was instrumental in shaping how law enforcement agencies responded to allegations of occult crimes. The book’s influence was huge, and it seemed to withstand criticism of its accuracy until it was thoroughly debunked many years later, sadly after much damage was already done.

Indeed it was.

Writing in the Weekly Standard last year, Philip Terzian turned his attention to one of the most notorious cases of that era, the McMartin preschool trial (again, my emphasis added):

The police were quickly persuaded that ritual satanic sexual abuse—a popular preoccupation of the era—was a regular feature of life at the McMartin preschool, and social workers prompted and (in many cases) badgered their 3- and 4-year-old witnesses to affirm and repeat increasingly fantastic accounts. This was the pre-social-media era, to be sure; but the national press and assorted TV personalities—including future Presidential Medal of Freedom laureate Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael, and newsman Geraldo Rivera, among many others—seized on the story with particular relish, and a nationwide hunt began. In the subsequent decade, the McMartin case was followed by many more spectacles—featuring comparably outlandish, and curiously identical, tales—involving dozens of nursery schools across America and hundreds of day-care employees, mass arrests, prosecutions, and deliberately long prison sentences.

A quick glance at some old YouTube footage of Winfrey on that topic (some of it, appallingly, seemingly still being used by conspiracy theorists) will show that her interest in ‘your truth’ rather than the truth is nothing new.

It’s worth remembering how that worked out for those imprisoned on what would, in saner times, have been literally incredible grounds.  

The Art of No Deal

by Ramesh Ponnuru

President Trump wants to sign a law to let people brought here illegally as minors stay here legally. All Democrats and most Republicans in Congress want to send him a bill that would do that. So why isn’t it happening? I look into the question at Bloomberg View.

Paul Ryan to Address Next Week’s March for Life

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Next week is the March for Life Week in Washington, D.C. A number of conferences, events, and rallies surround the annual March for Life, marking the Supreme Court’s grave Roe v. Wade decision in January 1973. The March will happen this year on Friday, January 19.

This morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan confirmed his attendance at the March. He’ll be addressing the official rally before marchers — who tend to consist heavily of student groups and families, and, of course, activists from throughout the country — head up toward the Supreme Court. That’s no small thing, for Ryan to use the distinction of the office to say this is important, the Court got this wrong, and to thank all of those who tell the truth about the dignity of innocent human life.

By addressing the March, he also brings added media coverage.

The March is infamously under-covered and unnoticed by the media and, well, the world, it seems. As someone who has attended for longer than I can remember now (and I am far from alone; there are plenty of people who have been going their entire lives at this point, which I cannot claim), I always feel bad for the people missing out. There is such joy at the annual gathering. There is such encouragement. To see so many young people who seem to understand: that abortion is wrong, that it is heartbreaking, that a nation as generous as ours should never leave women alone to feel as if abortion has to be their “choice.”

This is from the March for Life release going out this morning:

“It is an honor to have Speaker of the House Paul Ryan address the 45th annual March for Life. Speaker Ryan has been an unwavering champion for the pro-life cause since taking office, and continues to utilize his post to promote the inherent dignity of the human person at all stages of life,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. “We are grateful for the significant strides Congress made in the last year to protect and defend the most innocent among us, and are confident that 2018 will see even more pro-life progress with Speaker Ryan leading the charge.”

All are welcome, by the way, at the March for Life, so there’s still time to decide to join us. I expect there will be some other announcements to come about speakers. But it’s obviously not always a given that the Speaker of the House attends or makes a formal address. (In his first year as speaker, Ryan made an unannounced stop in front of the Supreme Court to support the cause.) Whatever your politics, it’s a good thing to do with the power of the office — in terms of presence and history on such an urgent and fundamental human-rights issue. And to bring attention at the same time to an event that radiates such hope. Capitol Hill is full of stories and testimonies and beautiful faces. The theme this year is “Love Saves Lives,” and I suspect you’ll see some of that love on display, as I do every year. Be inspired . . . and go home from there (or from catching some of it on TV (EWTN/C-SPAN) or social media; I tend to live tweet until my phone freezes at @KathrynLopez) to look around and see what and who you can support close to home, especially people making a difference on this front such as maternity homes, crisis-pregnancy centers, and the Sisters of Life.

And if you’ll be at the March for Life and associated events, let me know at [email protected]. I’m always amazed by how far folks travel – from Florida and Texas and North Dakota and Louisiana. I’ll be at the Catholic University of America’s pep rally on Tuesday and at the March for Life expo on Thursday (also hosting a small private lunch for the National Review Institute, bringing some leaders together), abd the Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as well as the actual March and the Evangelicals for Life conference on Friday. (And, some things, I’m sure, that I have forgotten!) Hope to see you there somewhere!

And in the midst of everything else going on in the world, consider thanking Paul Ryan for addressing the March. We tend only to complain about things, but gratitude is good. 

Wednesday links

by debbywitt

The die is cast! On January 10 in 49 B.C., Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River.

US road grid corrections because of the Earth’s curvature.

This $800 belt (presumably for the elderly) has airbags to protect your hips.

Video: X-Ray Camera Reveals How Hamsters Fit So Much in Their Cheeks.

Albert Einstein and the high school geometry problem.

Innovation, regulation, and illegal shipping containers: How an Illegal Shipping Container Reshaped the World Economy.

ICYMI, Monday’s links are here, and include Elvis Presley’s birthday, the woman who slept with both Napoleon and Wellington, the business of making the fake money used in movies and TV shows, and advice from 1595 on how to slim down in fourteen days.

South Korean President Moon: Trump Deserves ‘Big Credit’ for Inter-Korean Talks

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt, a bit of good news and praise for the president on the Korean peninsula…

A Glimmer of Hope on the Korean Peninsula?

Look, no one’s saying the potential threat of war on the Korean Peninsula is gone. But for the first time in a while, things look a little better than they did the day before.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in credited U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday for helping to spark the first inter-Korean talks in more than two years, and warned that Pyongyang would face stronger sanctions if provocations continued.

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed at Tuesday’s talks, the first since December 2015, to resolve all problems between them through dialogue and also to revive military consultations so that accidental conflict could be averted.

“I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, I want to show my gratitude,” Moon told reporters at his New Year’s news conference. “It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”

Perhaps Moon is just attempting to ensure Trump gets some of the credit, or to warm U.S.-South Korean relations. Or maybe those international sanctions are starting to squeeze North Korea’s economy in ways that the regime can’t afford to ignore:

…exports may have declined by “as much as 30 percent last year”, according to Byung-Yeon Kim, author of the book “Unveiling the North Korean Economy”.

In particular, exports to China – North Korea’s biggest trading partner and the reason many believe Pyongyang is able to survive – are down as much as 35 percent.

That’s a third of the regime’s economic growth wiped out. And Professor Kim’s figures don’t take into account the latest sanctions that were passed in December which targets, amongst other things, visas for North Koreans working overseas.

Remittances from those workers are the second biggest foreign exchange earner for Pyongyang. And some predict that new sanctions could cut North Korea’s hard currency earnings by up to 80 percent.

Everyone expects North Korea to be on its best behavior during the Olympics.

S. Nathan Park, writing in the Washington Post, notes that South Korean President Moon is probably as good an ally in Seoul as the U.S. could hope for at a time like this:

Moon is emblematic of this newer generation. Moon served his military duty as a special forces soldier defending the demilitarized zone. His own family comes from the North, which they escaped during the Korean War on a U.S. ship. Moon his little reason to romanticize the regime in Pyongyang and has consistently stated his support the alliance with the United States. Despite considerable controversy at home and intense economic and political pressure from China, he allowed the Americans to deploy a missile-defense system to protect U.S. troops in South Korea. He has even managed to get along with President Trump, who has criticized South Korea for not paying enough for the stationing of U.S. forces. (In a recent phone call before the inter-Korean talks, Trump said: “America supports President Moon 100 percent.”)

It’s worth noting that South Korea remained a steadfast ally of the United States even at the peak of anti-Americanism in 2002. Today, Trump is personally even more unpopular in South Korea than Bush was, but there are simply no large anti-U.S. protests in South Korea — not even when Trump personally visited Seoul. Nor is there any indication that South Korean liberals are displeased with Moon’s pro-U.S. stance. A recent opinion poll puts his approval rating at a remarkable 77.2 percent.

Finally, there was that surprising leak yesterday that the U.S. is “quietly discussing” a limited military strike in North Korea. Considering the likelihood that Pyongyang would retaliate (and perhaps escalate by using chemical or nuclear weapons), one wonders whether this is a real discussion or a strategic leak, a verbal warning shot that lets Pyongyang know that they’ve got a good incentive to calm things down, too.