U.S.

Nathan Phillips Is Full of It

David highlights this section from CNN’s interview with Nathan Phillips:

Phillips: Oh, what I was witnessing was just hate? Racism? Well, hate. What I’m saying is that when these folks came there, these other folks were saying their piece, and these others they got offended with it because they were both just expressing their own views. And if it’s racism, that’s what it was because the folks that were having their moment there, they were saying things that I don’t know if I agreed with them or not, but some of it was educational, and it was truth, and it was history about religious views and ideologies, but these other folks, the young students, they couldn’t see it. They had one point of view, it seemed, and that was that their point of view was the only point of view that was worthwhile. And that’s now what I was feeling.

This is just garbage. There’s no other word for it. It’s garbage. Almost every constituent part is vague, sub-literate, open-ended nonsense. “Saying their piece.” “Expressing their own views.” “Having their moment.” “Saying things.” These are descriptions that could apply as equally to Abraham Lincoln as to Benito Mussolini. They’re meaningless. What silliness we put up with on television.

Then we reach the cherry on top:

I don’t know if I agreed with them or not, but some of it was educational, and it was truth, and it was history about religious views and ideologies, but these other folks, the young students, they couldn’t see it. They had one point of view, it seemed, and that was that their point of view was the only point of view that was worthwhile. And that’s now what I was feeling.

The “them” in this paragraph is the Black Israelites. The people who “couldn’t see it” are the students at whom the Black Israelites were shouting. And the “some of it,” which Phillips believed was “educational, and it was truth, and it was history about religious views and ideologies,” is an endless string of abuse and bile. As Robby Soave of Reason notes:

They call them crackers, faggots, and pedophiles. At the 1:20 mark (which comes after the Phillips incident) they call one of the few black students the n-word and tell him that his friends are going to murder him and steal his organs. At the 1:25 mark, they complain that “you give faggots rights,” which prompted booing from the students. Throughout the video they threaten the kids with violence, and attempt to goad them into attacking first.

Other choice insults that were lobbed at the Covington students — and anyone who had the misfortune of passing by — included “a bunch of incest babies,” “dirty ass little crackers” and “coon.”

Phillips complains that the students “couldn’t see it.” Rather, they

had one point of view, it seemed, and that was that their point of view was the only point of view that was worthwhile.

As opposed to what?

Politics & Policy

New York State Senate Passes Expansive Abortion Bill

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in N.Y., November 13, 2018. (Jeenah Moon/REUTERS)

The New York State Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) this evening by a vote of 38-24, on the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which found that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion. The bill already passed the state assembly by a 92-47 vote.

Once signed by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, who has long pushed for expansive abortion-rights legislation, the bill will expand the state’s already liberal abortion regime to allow late-term abortions when “the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

The legislation provides a further exception to permit abortion at any point during pregnancy if a health-care practitioner deems it necessary for the mother’s life or health — the exception that was defined in Roe companion case Doe v. Bolton as “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.” In other words, abortion will be available to women essentially on demand up to the point of birth. The RHA will also decriminalize abortion, moving it from the state’s criminal code to the public-health code.

Earlier this month, Cuomo said he hopes to put abortion rights on the ballot next year and have expansive protections for abortion, similar to the RHA, written into the state constitution. Here’s more from Katie Yoder’s reporting on the bill at NRO earlier this month:

Current New York law doesn’t appear to discourage women from abortion at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent Abortion Surveillance report, for the year 2015, New York City performed 544 abortions for every 1,000 live births. That means roughly one in three unborn babies are aborted in the city. That also means the New York City’s abortion rate makes up more than half of the city’s birth rate. With the state’s voluntarily reported data, the CDC found that 63,646 abortions occurred in the New York City during 2015, with 32.8 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. New York — with the city and state data combined — saw a lower number in 2015. As a whole, New York performed 93,096 abortions total, with 23.1 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. It counted 392 abortions per 1,000 live births.

PC Culture

Nathan Phillips’s Interview with CNN Is Full of Falsehoods, Inconsistencies, and Nonsense

Nathan Phillips on CNN (CNN/via YouTube)

As I wrote on the home page today, it’s disturbing to see the left-wing hate that is still being directed at the Covington Catholic students — days after the initial framing of the story was thoroughly debunked. Judging from the vitriolic online responses to my piece, it’s apparent that many folks on the left are basing their understanding of the incident by still taking Nathan Phillips entirely at his word about the incident. They credit his good intentions. They credit his good faith. And they credit his version of the story.

This is a grave mistake. As my colleague Kyle Smith documented in a viral piece this weekend, in his initial account of the event, Phillips gave substantially different accounts to the Washington Post and the Detroit Free Press. But the inconsistencies don’t stop there. Perhaps his longest statement is contained in this CNN interview, and — quite frankly, it’s simply incredible. There’s an alarming number of falsehoods, inconsistencies, and nonsensical statements. For example, there’s the interesting question of his alleged service in Vietnam (the Washington Post reported today that he served in the Marines from 1972 to 1976 but was not deployed). In the transcript, he appears to falsely state that he served in Vietnam twice:

CNN: Let me ask you about what happened to you. These boys in the middle of this group and you find yourself surrounded. How did that happen and what did that feel like as a person standing there face to face with a young man who seems to be staring at you or glaring at you? How would you describe that moment?

Phillips: When I was there and I was standing there and I seen that group of people in front of me and I seen the angry faces and all of that, I realized I had put myself in a really dangerous situation. Here’s a group of people who were angry at somebody else and I put myself in front of that, and all of a sudden, I’m the one whose all that anger and all that wanting to have the freedom to just rip me apart, that was scary. And I’m a Vietnam veteran and I know that mentality of “There’s enough of us. We can do this.” (Emphasis added.)

Here’s the second:

CNN: One of the things they said is we weren’t protesting against Native Americans. We were there for the March for Life and we were just chanting — and this is kind of putting the blame on you — and that this person came into our space and we were just getting all hyped up. Do you buy that?

Phillips: Not in the least.

CNN: What really happened?

Phillips: They were there looking for trouble, looking for something. Everybody knows the right to life and (pro-choice), it’s been like this and they’re hateful to each other. And it’s because I’m a veteran — I’m a Vietnam veteran — that these two groups even have the right in this country to have protests, to have conflicting opinions. If they were doing that, they should’ve done that there and then when they come into public, that wasn’t the place for that. That was a public forum where we was at. We were still under the protection of our permit for the indigenous peoples rally. (Emphasis added.)

If you watch the available video, the first transcript entry is wrong. He says the more ambiguous “Vietnam-times.” I can’t find video of his second statement (CNN apparently aired only excerpts of the larger interview), but why emphasize Vietnam when you didn’t serve there? This is deceptive at best and an outright lie at worst. But look closer at those same transcript excerpts. Do they comport with the video evidence of the event? He disagrees with the kids’ defense that Phillips “came into our space and we were just getting hyped up.” He says that is “not in the least what happened.” But the video is crystal clear. He walked into their midst just after they did a series of school cheers.

Moreover, he says they were “looking for trouble, looking for something.” Yet again, the video shows something substantially different. The Black Israelites were hurling homophobic and racist taunts. If anyone was “looking for trouble,” it was the people who were calling kids homophobic slurs, “crackers” and “incest babies.” But “looking for trouble” is a subjective judgment, so it’s difficult to categorize as a flat-out lie. Let’s be charitable and simply say that his statement is flat-out inconsistent with the available evidence. Moreover, read the way he describes the confrontation between Black Israelites and the Covington Catholic kids:

Phillips: Oh, what I was witnessing was just hate? Racism? Well, hate. What I’m saying is that when these folks came there, these other folks were saying their piece, and these others they got offended with it because they were both just expressing their own views. And if it’s racism, that’s what it was because the folks that were having their moment there, they were saying things that I don’t know if I agreed with them or not, but some of it was educational, and it was truth, and it was history about religious views and ideologies, but these other folks, the young students, they couldn’t see it. They had one point of view, it seemed, and that was that their point of view was the only point of view that was worthwhile. And that’s now what I was feeling.

Again, this is an astounding statement. Is this at all consistent with the video? The adult Black Israelites were taunting the kids, relentlessly. Anyone who has encountered the Black Israelites (and I have) knows how they conduct themselves. You know they are full of rage and hate. But, right, the kids were the real problem. (Or, as Phillips described them to the Detroit Free Press, they were the “beast,” and the Black Israelites were the “prey.”) But there is no video evidence I’ve seen that indicates these boys threatened the Black Israelites — and at the point where Phillips walked into their midst, the boys were keeping their distance.

Also, please read this exchange and compare it with the video:

CNN: Were you trying to calm the situation down basically when you saw kind of things seemed to spiral out of control?

Phillips: I think so. I think that was the push, that we need to use the drum, use our prayer and bring a balance, bring a calming to the situation. I didn’t assume that I had any kind of power to do that, but at the same time, I didn’t feel that I could just stand there anymore and not do something. It looked like these young men were going to attack these guys. They were going to hurt them. They were going to hurt them because they didn’t like the color of their skin. They didn’t like their religious views. They were just here in front of the Lincoln — Lincoln is not my hero, but at the same time, there was this understanding that he brought the (Emancipation Proclamation) or freed the slaves, and here are American youth who are ready to, look like, lynch these guys. To be honest, they looked like they were going to lynch them. They were in this mob mentality. Where were their parents? Because they were obvious a student group. Where were their–

What does he mean that he “thinks” he was trying to calm them down? Either he was or he wasn’t, and if he was, it is truly odd to do so by not speaking words the boys could understand and walking straight into their midst with an entourage that is actively taunting the kids, telling them to “go back to Europe.” That is odd behavior. It’s not peacemaking. If you’re trying to make peace, say so. The drumming and chanting have no independent, calming power — especially when they’re accompanied by angry taunts.

But then, later, he contradicts himself — saying something that seems much closer to the truth. He told CNN that one of his people said they should “reclaim our space.”

Phillips: When they said, “Let’s go hit the drum, let’s go sing, let’s reclaim our space here” because this was the Indigenous Peoples March rally, and when these two groups came together and started that and I was witnessing as it escalated from just two small groups, then the other one just went back and got more people, went back and got more people, went back and got more people until there were over 100 people, maybe 200 young men there facing down what? Four individuals? Why did they need 200 people there other than it’s hate and racism? They had their target. They had their prey. And so I wish somebody would’ve been able to stand in front of the 7th Cavalry and my relatives at Wounded Knee. I wish somebody would’ve stood there and said, “No, you can’t do this.”

And there it is again, the claim — without any evidence — that the Covington kids looked at the Black Israelites as their “prey.” Finally, here’s Phillips even denying the kids were chanting school chants — something that’s plainly obvious from the relevant videos. One of them is even the very old and corny, “We got spirit, yes we do.”

CNN: Does it feel like hatred toward you because the kids will say, “Oh we were just chanting our school chants and this person came in between us as we were chanting our school chants and we were not being hateful.” What did it feel like to you?

Phillips: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to laugh. Well, yes, I do, I guess. I heard that rhetoric before and it’s just one of those things, it’s got to be like water off a duck’s back. Time for lies to be not accepted anymore. I don’t accept their “I’m just chanting a school chant.”

But again the video contradicts Phillips. They’re clearly and plainly chanting about their school. If you have eyes and ears you can see it and hear it.

I’ve been to dozens of high school football and basketball games. In the South at least, this is what student bodies do. They chant. They jump around. They get loud. And if they’re being taunted by racists, it actually seems like a constructive response to hate speech. Don’t engage, have fun. But then came Nathan Phillips, he walked into their midst, he sang words they didn’t understand, and then he spewed falsehoods in the national media. Why are so many progressives taking his word as true? Because he’s telling the story they want to hear, not because he’s telling the truth.

U.S.

Beto, Male

Jim Geraghty notes that Beto O’Rourke is getting newly bad press, and says that CNN correspondent Nia-Malika Henderson has a point when she writes that the former congressman “roams around, jobless (does he not need a job?) to find himself and figure out if he wants to lead the free world. This is a luxury no woman or even minority in politics could ever have.”

Maybe she’s right about that, but Henderson makes it sound like it’s an indictment of O’Rourke rather than just of the double standard. His vision quest “shows how much of his political identity is predicated on being white and male.” Is he supposed to refrain from doing things that would be criticized more harshly if he were a black woman? And if he doesn’t refrain, is it right to launch a criticism that is predicated on his being white and male?

Culture

Twelve Things that Caught My Eye Today (Jan. 22, 2019)

Today is the Day of Prayer for the legal protection of unborn children.

1.

 

2. Abby Johnson and the actress who plays her in the upcoming movie, Unplanned — the story of her leaving Planned Parenthood and why:

World Over – 2019-01-17 – Abby Johnson and Ashley Bratcher with Raymond Arroyo

ABBY JOHNSON, pro-life activist is joined by actress ASHLEY BRATCHER to talk about the new film UNPLANNED that tells the story of ABBY JOHNSON's time as director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas and how she left the abortion industry.

Posted by EWTN on Thursday, January 17, 2019

 

3.

4. From a Cardinal Dolan homily in D.C. Friday morning before the March:

We acknowledge as well that, well, we have enemies . . .

They detest us . . . we love them;

They curse us . . . we bless them;

They mock us . . . we pray for them;

We invite them to a coalition to at least lower the number of abortions; to set reasonable limits, as the last Marist poll shows 75% of Americans want; to work with us to protest the choice . . . yes, the choice of a woman to have her baby, with sensible counseling, sonograms, and the provision of all the support a mom needs to hold her newborn, and they say no.

They are ready now to pop the champagne corks in Albany as the state already notorious as the most radical abortion state in the union feels driven to expand it even more, dropping the need for only physicians to perform them – – so much for the “health of the woman” – – and allowing a baby who survives the scalpel, scissors, suction machine, and saline solution to die without any help.

This is the culture of death, no longer a hyperbole . . . and they too have unity and friends.

They bristle at our perseverance, our resilience, our youth, our triumphs however few.  They will outspend us, out lobby us, caricature us, and hope to outlaw us.

They want to paralyze us.  Well, they cringe further when we smile and love and tell them we welcome paralysis . . . for we are then that paralytic with the four friends who lowers us for healing and strength to our best friend, Jesus, who says to us, “Rise, stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

Read the whole thing, though, here.

More about New York here.

5.

 

6. Science has changed since Roe v. Wade, now abortion laws must change

7.  Kristen Hanson urging us not to abandon the vulnerable facing grave diagnoses:

8. Yuval Levin: What happened to bioethics?

9. The beautiful message of Jean Vanier

10. Fr. Peter John Cameron on pro-life and evangelical virtues. 

11. A homily for today from Fr. Roger Landry on holding fast to hope.

12. Bishop Robert Barron: The Internet and Satan’s Game

PLUS:

An interview with the author of a book on pro-life apostles

Mark Bauerlein at First Things talks with me about the March. 

If you have not read or re-read Fr. Neuhaus’s will not rest, will not weary speech this year, some of it, with a link, is here.

My syndicated column this week, about the March.

Do you know about my weekly (free) e-newsletter? Sign up here.

Politics & Policy

Catching the Ball

Bill Clinton on a Midwest swing in 1992 (Blake Sell / Reuters)

In my Impromptus today, I have an item about ambition and opportunity. I talk about the presidential race coming up in 2020, while glancing back at some races past. “Strange things happen in politics,” I say — and do they ever.

Consider the Trump campaign in 2016. Bob Ehrlich, the former governor of Maryland, later published a book called “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming.” Consider Emmanuel Macron in 2017. Both Trump and Macron won the presidency of their country in their first run for office — any office. (And Macron did it outside the major parties.)

I have something to share with you in my post here, but, before I do, I have to paste a paragraph from today’s column — so as to set up the Main Event. Here’s that paragraph:

I think of 1992, the Democratic primaries. Very few wanted to run, because President Bush (41) looked so formidable. But there was a governor of Arkansas who wanted to be president, and he was going to run come hell or high water, dammit. So he did. He had weak opposition: a little-known ex-senator, Paul Tsongas, and a few others …

A reader wrote me to recall a Saturday Night Live sketch. Which one? Here, from November 1991. It’s hilarious. It also illustrates my point (which is nice).

The sketch is headed “Campaign ’92: The Race to Avoid Being the Guy Who Loses to Bush.” A debate is about to take place, or at least a forum of some kind. The moderator comes from the League of Women Voters. She says, “Welcome to this, the first of a series of debates among the five leading Democrats who are trying to avoid being forced by their party into a hopeless race against President George Bush. Most of them have already announced that they’re not interested in the nomination. But each, of course, is under enormous pressure to be the chump who will take on the futile task of running against this very, very popular incumbent.”

Five people are assembled: Bill Bradley, who sports a button that says “Stop Bradley”; Dick Gephardt, who sports a button saying “Gephardt” with a diagonal line through it; Lloyd Bentsen, whose button says “Anybody but Bentsen”; Tipper Gore, representing her husband, and wearing a button that says “Just Say No to Gore”; and Mario Cuomo: “I [Heart] NY.”

The moderator notes that several people have already announced for the Democratic nomination, including Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin, and Jerry Brown. She does not name Bill Clinton (who had announced in October, a month before the sketch).

Let me quote from my column once more: “Fortune favors the bold. You never know. ‘Never up, never in,’ we say in golf. And when others are standing on the sidelines, there is an opportunity for you.”

White House

MAGA Hats and Double Standards

(Jim Bourg/REUTERS)

In the cacophony of malice that was generated this weekend against the Covington Catholic High School students who were falsely accused of surrounding a Native American man and chanting “Build the wall”, those who jumped the gun and have a sense of rectitude have since apologized for participating in the unwarranted pile-on. Others chose to only walk-back their attacks, resorting to the continued character assassination of teenage boys based upon the apparel they wore.

The students in the approximately 4-minute video that went viral after being recorded at the March for Life were censured by Twitter blue-checks on both sides of the aisle — that is, until the longer, nearly two-hour video emerged, turning the tables on the prevailing narrative that the boys were harassing Nathan Phillips, the Native American man beating a drum who had pushed himself into the crowd of cheering boys until he was face-to-face with the young, MAGA-hat wearing student whose face has been immortalized.

While some apologies were issued following the surfacing of the full story — Meghan McCain, for example, apologized for having “reacted too quickly” — others have decided to continue blaming the students. The boys, according to these figures, should’ve known better: Specifically, if they didn’t want to attract attention to themselves, and if they wanted to avoid confrontation, they shouldn’t have worn their MAGA hats.

Alyssa Milano tweeted on Sunday that “The red MAGA hat is the new white hood. Without white boys being able to empathize with other people, humanity will continue to destroy itself. #FirstThoughtsWhenIWakeUp”. Putting aside the irony of her involvement in stoking the fake-news fire that contributed to the violent and professional threats to student Nick Sandmann’s family and to the school, necessitating school be shut down for a day, the argument that the MAGA hat symbolizes white supremacy is an absurd one on its face. By wearing the hat, the case goes, the Covington boys were representing a set of morally reprehensible ideas and were asking for trouble. Yet it was the Black Hebrew Israelites hurling slurs at the students, and calling the black students racial epithets, with very little condemnation from the internet choir that eagerly spread the false story that the boys were chanting “Build the wall.”  The argument that a dinky red hat symbolizes white supremacy, and that Catholic-school students are a monolith that would be cognizant of this idea that it does and wear it, beggars belief. (A white-supremacist administration would surely not enjoy the support of nearly half the voting public, for starters. )

How about the charge that the hat had no place at a pro-life rally? Personally, I consider it incoherent. The March for Life has this administration’s support, and in 2017, Vice President Mike Pence became the first vice president to speak at the March for Life since 1974, when it began. Trump has promised to appoint pro-life justices, and has already confirmed two. He reinstated the Mexico City Policy, ensuring that American tax dollars are not funding abortion overseas. These policies are aligned with the interests of the pro-life cause. By a utilitarian standard, the March for Life has forged a successful (if transactional) relationship with the Trump administration.

If progressives’ new standard is that campaign apparel for a president can be offensive depending on the president’s actions while in office, they’re applying that standard inconsistently. Where was the current outrage during the last administration? Andrew Lawrence, senior researcher at Media Matters, tweeted that “If you’re still wearing a maga hat after Charlottesville, and baby cages, and Muslim ban, and trans military ban, and using “Pocahontas” as an insult…then yea, people are going to assume some things about you.”

I don’t agree with the travel ban, but where was the outrage directed at the Obama administration, whose administration was responsible for dropping 26,171 bombs on seven Muslim-majority countries in 2016 alone? Was there similar criticism aimed at President Obama when migrant children were being held in cages at the border in 2014? Did the same people haranguing those boys for wearing Trump hats direct their outrage toward people whose cars were emblazoned with Obama bumper stickers? If anything, they’re wistful for the last presidency. Can we not also assume that Obama-supporters are reflective of the actions of the former president, or do we grant them the benefit of the doubt because he wasn’t as ham-fisted?

Take note of anyone who blames the Covington boys’ clothes to justify their outrage. They shouldn’t be taken seriously.

U.S.

Some Learned from Their Mistakes, Others Continued with Calumny

Copies of the New York Daily News appear on a newsstand in Times Square, N.Y., March 31, 2015. (Brendan McDermid/REUTERS)

People get stuff wrong, including journalists. It has been ever thus and shall remain that way until we are replaced by border collies with opposable thumbs or killer bees.

So while mistakes are often deserving of criticism, they are not necessarily vices like the vanity, pride, or wrath which cause so many to tighten their grips on their errors. We’ve all been guilty of this kind of thing personally or professionally, I know I have. Admitting you were wrong about something is just too painful a concession, because it implies someone you dislike was right. Letting the bastards profit with coins deducted from the treasury of your own pride is just too difficult sometimes.

But it is so much worse in the political and social-media landscape when people get things wrong about innocent people and not only refuse to apologize but set about to destroy the innocent with some fresh calumny. Once the herd is convinced that someone is The Enemy, they also become convinced that further proof must be out there and that there is nothing wrong with looking for fresh evidence to prove your initial hatred was justified. For instance, this morning the Daily News reported on a viral video purporting to show that the Covington boys were seen in “blackface” taunting African–American basketball players from an opposing team. But Insider, the NY Post and Snopes have offered the correct context. It was part of a tradition of wearing all black in solidarity with the teams colors. The Daily News didn’t bother to look for the context.

Culture

Twelve (or So) Things that Caught My Eye at the March for Life 2019

(Kathryn Jean Lopez)

On today — what some of us call the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children — a few people and signs that caught my eye on Friday at the March for Life ….

1. The painful reality …

2. Not a statistic, not a theoretical debate …

3. The pro-life generation …

4. So many families …

Continue reading “Twelve (or So) Things that Caught My Eye at the March for Life 2019”

U.S.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s False Statement about the Civil Rights Act

Continuing in her relentless career of not knowing things, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in the course of making an grotesque implicit comparison of herself with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., advised the noted scholar Stephen Colbert that important activism is bound to be unpopular. She said: “If you think activism is inherently divisive — I mean, today is Martin Luther King Day. People called Martin Luther King divisive in his time. We forget he was wildly unpopular when advocating for the Civil Rights Act.”

No.

As a matter of fact, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — and the people supporting it — were pretty popular in their time. From Pew Research:

A Gallup poll in October 1964 reported that the public approved of the new law by nearly two-to-one (58% to 31%). And in April 1965, Gallup found a whopping 76% in favor of a then-proposed equal rights voting law.

What’s more, following the events in Selma:

By a 48% to 21% margin, a Harris poll in May 1965 found its respondents saying they sided more with the civil rights groups involved than with the state of Alabama.

King himself polled pretty well during his advocacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with his favorable ratings reliably outpacing his unfavorable ratings. That changed toward the end of his life, when King took a more radical turn on economic issues, with that loose talk about “democratic socialism.”

Which is to say: King was in reality far from “wildly unpopular” when he was working for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for the more general cause of desegregating public institutions. He grew unpopular when he starting indulging the kind of batty tomfoolery with which Representative Ocasio-Cortez associates herself.

Those are facts worth knowing.

In other news, the Solon of the Bronx also insisted that the world is going to end in 12 years because of climate change. As I like to do when encountering such predictions, I will happily offer the representative a substantial wager on the question.

Culture

New York Doubles Down on Darkness and the 46-Year Shadow of a Culture of Death

20160518 – Mother Teresa painting Mother Teresa House (Patrick McPartland/Staff Photographer)

It seems the world has been “covering the March for Life” for a few days now, focusing on that video of Covington Catholic high-school students. I’d like to think that so many of the other students who were at the March for Life are praying for all those wrapped up in that onslaught.

Today, though, is the actual 46th anniversary of the day of that grave Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, when abortion was made legal throughout pregnancy. And it is an especially dark and grave day in New York State, where it is expected that the governor may, before day’s end, sign a bill, under the guise of euphemisms, which expands abortion in what is already known as the abortion capital of the country.

(Read more about that here.)

It was telling in some ways that earlier this month Andrew Cuomo was joined by Hillary Clinton in rallying for this deeper dive into the culture of death. Did the Democrats learn nothing from Clinton’s doubling down on abortion during the presidential campaign – during a year, frankly, when some pro-life voters were looking for excuses not to feel like they had to vote for Donald Trump because of abortion?

The March for Life, if you were there, was actually a remarkably hopeful event. It always is, but it seemed even larger than usual and more confident. Generations of marchers were there, young parents who once went as children with their parents, so many of these young people are rooted in what’s right — knowing the difference betwen life and death.

I was moved, for instance, at Mass the night before, when the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was filled with 10,000 people in the pews and chapels, any place where there was a spot to join in prayer. At one point, we all prayed for healing for victims of abuse. These young people have a sense of human suffering and know that it cannot continue. They are solutions already with their tender smiles.

In another post, I’ll include about ten images that caught my eye — or phone camera lens — along the way in D.C. last Thursday and Friday. There is so much heartache and hope along the road to the march and along the route. (My write-up as we were getting started.)

Please join me in a prayer for Covington, New York, and all who suffer because of the poison of abortion in our midst, which makes us a harsher people in other respects too — how could it not?

Yesterday I was rereading Mario Cuomo’s famous speech at the University of Notre Dame, explaining that he was “personally opposed” to abortion. He viewed his Catholic beliefs about abortion as a mere value to be debated among other values. Fast forward some, and his son doesn’t see that this value is even fit to live in his state. Rereading that old speech, I wonder if the elder, late governor, would have come to consider that a fault of his own — his generation at the very least. At least he wrestled enough with it to try to justify his position. Regardless, here we are. The most fundamental human-rights issue is all too often sidelined as a niche problem for the overly pious or just another of the “red-cap” issues.

They’ll be a holy hour and Mass in Manhattan on this grave day at St. Patrick’s tonight, right there on Fifth Avenue. All are welcome.

The polling the Knight of Columbus have commissioned over more than a decade show that people aren’t where Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton are. People want restrictions on abortion, they only want to know that a woman in a difficult situation truly has some choices. The Sisters of Life, Avail, the Gianna Center, Good Counsel Homes, Lumina, and Mother Teresa Home in Buffalo are some of the beacons of light helping with healing and true progress in New York State. Consider learning more about these or the ministries and services in your neck of the world to be a part of the solution.

Last week I saw a rough cut of the upcoming movie Unplanned, Abby Johnson’s story of leaving her work as a Planned Parenthood employee and a director of one of their clinics in Texas. It’s important and powerful. It is light on the darkness of this most intimate violence that happens in our midst and hurts so many, in so many families. Is anyone untouched?

The young people at the March for Life moved me the most with their knowledge that they didn’t have to be born and their appreciation for the fact that they were. They were very much a choice, even if a particular mother didn’t consider abortion, she could have. The law is a teacher, and it tells us that abortion is not just one of many acceptable choices — the culture in a workplace or a home or a relationship, influenced by popular culture, emphasizes and often even expects abortion. Sometimes it’s not a crazy thing to wonder if we even prefer abortion. On a day like today in New York, it’s certainly not.

As Cardinal Dolan from New York put it in one of the keynotes this weekend at the annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference at Georgetown University, a real progressive politics would walk with women and their children so they can choose life. [Also here.] This issue shouldn’t be stuck in partisan politics. A more civilized people would help make adoption so much easier. A more tender people, focused like a laser on the gift of human life, with gratitude, wouldn’t get so easily distracted and be so harsh.

More light. More life. More gratitude. More help.

Let us pray. That we won’t have to March for Life forever, because we will be helping people live it to the fullest, protecting it when it is most vulnerable and helping men and women and children and families flourish.

Science & Tech

Authority Figures

In response to More Than a Technical Debate

David Klinghoffer scoffs at the notion of “passively allowing our views to be determined by others.” It has been a while, but, if memory serves, that is more or less how I learned algebra. Physics and chemistry, too.

Where we disagree is this: I do not believe that lawyers and novelists have anything of real value to contribute to our knowledge of evolution, and I have not seen any evidence that they do, however committed and well-intentioned these amateurs may be.

If I were in need of treatment for cancer, I would not at any point in the course of my therapy consult a poet. I do not hold poets in contempt. But poetry isn’t oncology.

If I had a document in German that I wanted translated, I would consult someone who knows German — not somebody who has been to der Wienerschnitzel and developed some strong feelings about the menu.

It isn’t a put-down to acknowledge that somebody who doesn’t really know very much about a particular topic doesn’t really know very much about that particular topic.

The important questions related to evolution are not really questions of “views.” They are questions of fact. Call me parochial, but I prefer to get my facts from people who know what they are talking about. I wasn’t entirely joking about making a case from authority — sometimes, that is exactly the right thing to do. And the relevant authorities in the evolution debate are not political activists and practitioners of the rhetorical arts.

Again, if you have a great scientific breakthrough, PNAS is ready when you are.

Impromptus

Candidates, Spitballers, and More

Kamala Harris, then the attorney general of California, speaking in 2011 (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters)

In Impromptus today, I lead with Kamala Harris, the California senator. And Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York senator. They are both running for president. And they have both been praised by leading Democratic figures as …

Well, in 2013, President Obama called Harris “the best-looking attorney general in the country.” And in 2010, Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “We in the Senate refer to Senator Gillibrand as ‘the hottest member.’”

Don’t shoot the messenger (i.e., me). More seriously, Harris is one of those politicians who talk about “the people,” and of these politicians, and this kind of politics, I say, “Beware.” Once you’ve had a strong whiff of populism, you run to republicanism as to fresh air.

In my column, I also touch on Bill Buckley, Bill Clinton, Nathan Glazer, King Baudouin of Belgium, Jack Nicklaus (of Columbus, Ohio), Tom Brady, and the meaning of conservatism.

Responding to an item in a previous column — concerning James Harden, Rudolf Nureyev, and other greats — a wise lady from Alabama writes,

An old coach once told me that basketball played well was ballet with a ball. Of course, a Green Beret friend said that combat was ballet with bullets, so …

I also had an item about the name “Moses” — about which the wise Alabamian said,

I don’t know how he came to be so named, but my paternal grandfather was Moses. He died when my father was a mere tot, so we never came to know the story. My father was the youngest of nine children, and he was named Price, for an uncle. Curiously, my grandfather did not choose to name any of his four sons after himself. We are now on Price IV, an immensely charming and mischievous lad of 14. I am currently teaching him how to shoot spitballs with the rubber bands on his braces.

That is one of the most Alabama letters I have ever read.

I had an item on Blake Griffin, the Detroit Pistons star, who pleaded with a ref by showing him video on a tablet (a tablet computer). A wise Georgia man writes,

Showing the ref his tablet? That’s nothing. I once thought I would have to physically restrain my daughter to keep her from running onto the field to show the back judge her cellphone footage to prove Grandson #2 did not step out of bounds. And my wife was egging her on.

A final item, also concerning sports. I was writing about WFB, telling a few stories. And I wanted to say that he was interested in no sports except sailing. But I wanted to be sure that sailing was a sport. So I consulted an expert, my brother-in-law, a sailor. He said, “Absolutely. I have a simple rule: It’s a sport if you know you won when you cross the finish line. Sorry to all the ice dancers of the world.”

Brutal.

Alert: NRPlus Call with Devin Nunes is Imminent

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (Reuters photo: Joshua Roberts)

We are delighted that Republican congressman Devin Nunes is joining us this week for a call with our NRPlus members. It’s Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. If you are a member, you should have an invite in your inbox. If you are not, you can sign up here. I’ll be moderating and we’ll be taking your questions through the NRPlus Facebook group. Thanks very much and I’m looking forward to it.

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Alert: NRPlus Call with Devin Nunes is Imminent

We are delighted that Republican congressman Devin Nunes is joining us this week for a call with our NRPlus members. It’s Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. If you are a member, you should have an invite in your inbox. If you are not, you can sign up here. I’ll be moderating and we’ll be taking your questions through ... Read More
Politics & Policy

‘We Can’t Afford It’

Leon Trotsky — n.b., Millennials: He was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez before she was — understood the power of single-payer systems: “The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.” The socialist powers of Trotsky’s time made good on ... Read More