Law & the Courts

Avenatti Stole Stormy Daniels’s Book Advance, According to Indictment

Attorney Michael Avenatti makes an initial appearance on charges of bank and wire fraud as he arrives at federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., April 1, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti was indicted by federal prosecutors Wednesday for stealing the identity of his former client, Stormy Daniels, in order to claim more than $300,000 she was owed for a tell-all book about her efforts to expose President Trump.

In the indictment, prosecutors for the Southern District of New York accuse Avenatti of forging Daniels’ signature on a letter instructing her literary agent to wire her book advance money to an account he controlled. Daniels, an adult-film star born Stephanie Clifford, is not identified by name but the timeline and other details laid out in the document make clear that she is the client in question.

“The literary agent then wired $148,750 to the account, which AVENATTI promptly began spending for his own purposes, including on airfare, hotels, car services, restaurants and meal delivery, online retailers, payroll for his law firm and another business he owned, and insurance,” the indictment reads.

Avenatti, who rose to national prominence representing Daniels in her affair-related suit against President Trump, maintains his innocence.

“No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received. I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence,” he wrote on Twitter after the chargers were made public.

The new indictment comes as Avenatti is facing separate extortion charges brought by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles in connection with his alleged efforts to blackmail Nike. The charges were brought after Nike lawyers provided a recording to the FBI in which Avenatti demands $25 million in exchange for his silence about illegal payments the company allegedly made to high-school basketball players to induce them to attend Nike-sponsored colleges.

Los Angeles prosecutors also indicted Avenatti last month for embezzling millions of dollars from his clients, one of whom was a mentally-ill paraplegic who won a suit against the city of Los Angeles but never received his settlement because Avenatti allegedly stole it. The charges ending in Los Angeles carry a maximum sentence of up to 300 years in prison.

Daniels first raised concerns about Avenatti in November, alleging that he filed a defamation suit against Trump without her consent while stealing money donated to her via a crowd-funding platform.

“For months I’ve asked Michael Avenatti to give me accounting information about the fund my supporters so generously donated to for my safety and legal defense. He has repeatedly ignored those requests,” Daniels said in the November statement. “Days ago I demanded again, repeatedly, that he tell me how the money was being spent and how much was left. Instead of answering me, without my permission or even my knowledge Michael launched another crowdfunding campaign to raise money on my behalf. I learned about it on Twitter.”

The defamation suit Avenatti allegedly filed without Daniels’s consent backfired and she was forced to pay the president’s legal bills.

Health Care

Single-Payer Politics: Choose Your Own Dead End

Jon Walker writes in The Week that single-payer enthusiasts need to change their tactics, because trying to placate doctors and hospitals creates insoluble political problems: By letting hospitals and specialists keep so much money, it makes it very difficult to make Medicare-for-all a clear financial winner for everyone else . . .  A strategy that gives hospitals so much money you need big tax increases but not enough to buy their support is a loser. Presumably, though, those tactics were adopted because the alternatives — even bigger tax increases, or a frontal attack on hospitals and doctors — look like even bigger losers.

What Walker’s analysis suggests, then, is something he doesn’t want to face: There is no set of tactics that is going to make single-payer a near-term or medium-term likelihood.

Economy & Business

Millennials Shouldn’t Blame Boomers for Their Economic Struggles

My latest column for Bloomberg Opinion takes up a new book on millennials, Baby Boomers, and the economy:

As the age profile of Republican voters has risen, a certain note of complaint about young people has become a more prominent part of conservative conversation: Why are millennials so entitled and socialist? Maybe they should quit buying so much avocado toast and pay down their student loans instead. So it’s refreshing to read a book by a right-of-center author who takes the side of the generation born from 1981 through 1996. The millennials aren’t whiners, Wall Street Journal editorialist Joseph Sternberg writes in “The Theft of a Decade”: They have legitimate complaints about economic trends that have hit them particularly hard . . .

Politics & Policy

Northam’s Medical School: After Extensive Review, We’ve Figured Out . . . Almost Nothing

Ralph Northam’s yearbook page from 1984 (Obtained by National Review)

The photo of a person in blackface and a person in a Klan hood on Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s medical-school yearbook page will remain an eternal mystery, according to Eastern Virginia Medical School. Shortly after the controversy arose, the school launched an investigation, but this morning, administrators announced that months of inquiries had determined nothing new about the photo.

“With respect to the Photograph on Governor Northam’s personal page, we could not conclusively determine the identity of either individual depicted in the Photograph,” the medical school said its summary of the findings. “The Governor himself has made inconsistent public statements in this regard. No individual that we interviewed has told us from personal knowledge that the Governor is in the photograph, and no individual with knowledge has come forward to us to report that the Governor is in the photograph.”

The report also said that they did not find any information that the photograph was placed on Northam’s personal page in error and that they could not conclusively determine the origins of the photograph.

Northam’s yearbook photo now ranks alongside the Easter Island statues, the crystal skulls, the Voynich Manuscript, and the Antikythera mechanism as one of those mysterious artifacts that no one on earth can possibly explain. The picture just appeared on his page one day in the ancient era of the mid 1980s, and not even Virginia’s greatest experts can formulate a plausible explanation of how such a racist image could possibly have ended up on the page of a man whose yearbook declared he had the nickname “Coonman.” Clearly, this is the most enigmatic and baffling image to spontaneously appear, without any indication of human activity, since the Shroud of Turin.

The most interesting conclusion of the report is that the medical school knew about the photo for many years and chose to ignore it.

The probe found that two EVMS presidents, including current president Richard Homan, were told about the racist photo while Northam was running for political offices and decided not to make it public.

“We understand President Homan’s reasoning was EVMS should not become involved, or be seen to become involved, in an election as it is a public body and a public institution, and that EVMS did not not want there to be any suggestion that it had tried to influence Governor Northam in any respect by calling the photograph to his attention,” the report says.

We all have to stand up to racism . . . unless, you know, it might jeopardize the election chances of one of our alumni; then it’s okay to pretend you didn’t see it.


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

1. Iraqi Christian leaders plead with US, Iran to sort things out

2.  1.7 million human embryos created for IVF thrown away

3. Washington is first state to allow for composting of human bodies

4. Jeff Jacoby: Is abortion on the way out?

5. Chelsea Patterson Sobolik in USA Today:

No one should be forced into lifelong parenting if they don’t want to take on that role. My own birth mother was unable to parent me. However, she didn’t abort me in the womb. She made the brave and courageous decision for me, and allowed me to be adopted by a couple in a position to love and raise a child. I’m able to advocate for the lives of others, particularly for the little ones in the womb, who can’t speak for themselves.

And her book, Longing for Motherhood, is beautiful.


7. Bishop Robert Barron: It’s time for Catholics (and all religious people) to wake up to the danger of the California Confession bill

8. Andy Ferguson on Knock Down the House

Also, if you’ve not read his Atlantic pieces since joining them, print them out for Memorial Day weekend or something. They are all worth reading, he always is.

9. Speaking of the Atlantic, Sohrab Ahmari writes: Abolish the priesthood? Count me out.

10. Speaking of priests, a reflection, even on Twitter:

And a homily for today on the vine and the branches

11. The September 11th Museum and St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Siblings, years apart

12.  High school valedictorian earns more than $3M in scholarships amid homelessness, loss of father

Law & the Courts

Watch: Rich Lowry’s Five Reasons Why Roe v. Wade Should Be Overturned

In his latest video, National Review editor in chief Rich Lowry lists the five reasons why Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, is a “travesty that should be overturned.”

Lowry explains the misbegotten legal precedent, concluding that the Court should overturn “this extraconstitutional blot on its jurisprudence.”


Rats Are Taking over New York City. Thanks, de Blasio!

Probably not the headline you want to run in the first full week of your presidential campaign:

The New York Times, 5/22/19

Fix the subways? Bill de Blasio can’t even fix the potholes. Fix the potholes? He can’t even keep the rats at bay. I suppose he could fill the potholes with the rats.

De Blasio’s presidential quest would on the surface appear to be a bit of a curiosity given that after considerable pressing of flesh in Iowa and New Hampshire he remains at 0 percent in the polls. Where do you go with that? If I work hard, I think I can double my support? Also, why would he give the Post a stick with which to whomp him upside the head? Why do you keep hitting yourself, Bill?

Ah, but maybe de Blasio is playing four-dimensional chess here, though. He could be pioneering an entirely new style of presidential campaigning, one based on threats instead of promises: Elect me president or I shall unleash my tide of vermin on you, America! Laugh no more, fools, I have a rodent army at my disposal and lots of bridges and tunnels connecting to the mainland! Moooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-ha-HAW-ha!!!” (Peels off Mission: Impossible mask. Face looks pretty much the same underneath). No more goofy, incompetent Bill de Blasio! Now buckle up for the devastating efficiency of Burgermeister Warren Wilhelm!!! Did you think I killed that groundhog by accident?

NR Webathon

Good News, But We Need More of the Same

National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr.

We rise and shine this morning to find we have passed $100,000 in contributions to NR’s 2019 Spring Webathon. An undeniable milestone that! But also undeniable: NR needs to raise at least $75,000 more (and more on top of that if at all possible). What motivates someone to give? There are as many reasons as there are donors — God bless them, each and every one — some of whom anticipated your curiosity by sharing their moolah-transferring raisons d’être:

• Dixie drops $100 on us and . . . maybe it signifies resignation: “All right, all right, all right already!” Well, Dixie, what’s all right is everything about you. Thanks so much.

• Mark and Kristine tag-team a $250 donation and share their familial happiness: “About to send my oldest off to college. Thankfully she is grounded and not succumbed to the views of the left. (I’ve even caught her listening to the Great Books Podcast!) So grateful to NR for clear, logical content with which we can arm her as she enters the lions’ den.”

• William went for the barrel-of-oil donation suggestion, but (and we should never say “but” regarding generosity) his contribution is for $55.22, shy of the $63.26 suggested. Assuming we’d want that difference explained, he supplies such: “I’m sending a barrel of crude. But it is North Dakota Light Sweet, which goes at almost an $8/Bbl discount to WTI partially thanks to the anti-infrastructure keep-it-in-the ground groups. Keep up the good work.” Thanks William, this is truly sweet.

• Philip finds $200 and segments his generosity: “$25 each for Williamson, Goldberg, Cooke, and McCarthy to keep pounding out their great work. And another $100 because NRO is essential daily reading for me.” It all adds up to selflessness. Thanks!

• Stephen is good for 100 bucks, and throws in a plug for NRPLUS: “I’ve been reading NR since my younger days and was a fairly early member of NRPLUS. I’ve enjoyed the call-ins and I’m especially looking forward to the Dan Crenshaw (my congressman) on the 29th. Keep up the good work!” Keeping . . . because you keep keeping.

• Big Bad Paul forks over the same amount, and speaks for a lot of people with his attending comment: “One of the things I enjoy about NR is that it’s open to a wide range of conservative viewpoints, a range that other media sources never see to acknowledge.” Bingo!

• Okay, this will be the last, because it’s hard to top: Stephen gave a thousand bucks and then throws down an amazing trump card: “I had dinner with Mr. Buckley when I was a college student at Lehigh University in the ’60s. Life-altering experience.”

We’d love to know more about that experience, Stephen (why not email us and share details if you wish?). And we’d love for folks who, whether directly or from afar, found their lives altered by what Bill Buckley did through NR, and what NR continues to do for conservatism (combatting socialism tooth and nail!), to help keep this enterprise fortified and fighting on behalf of our mutually shared beliefs. Maybe you can’t match Stephen’s grand (But, what if you can?! Maybe you can even surpass that amazing generosity!), but please consider donating s what your wallet might permit. Is it $10 or $100 or $500 or even $55.22? No matter, it will used consequentially.

Nearly 900 people have donated so far, but again: We remain far short of our $175,000 goal (given our true needs, we could have set a goal double that). So here’s the plan: You donate to the 2019 Spring Webathon so we can sock socialism in the mouth. No worry of you want to do that in old-fashioned mode: Mail your deeply appreciated contribution (made payable to “National Review”) to National Review, ATTN: Spring 2019 Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036. God bless!


Springsteen Sings, ‘There Goes My Miracle’— Barack Obama?

Bruce Springsteen with President Barack Obama at an election rally in Madison, Wisc., November 5, 2012. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

I confess to loving Bruce Springsteen’s uncharacteristically lush and soaring new ballad, There Goes My Miracle. I wonder who it’s about?

The song takes the form of a broken-hearted lament. But it reminded me that a few years ago Springsteen strayed into undisguised partisan propaganda that culminated with his clunky song Working on a Dream, an undisguised hymn to Barack Obama, who was addressed as you: the nights are long, the days are lonely/ I think of you and I’m working on a dream. Springsteen first performed it at a November 2, 2008 campaign rally for the then-presidential candidate and released it on an album exactly one week after Obama was inaugurated.

On the new album, Western Stars, hearing Springsteen go into a high register to wail, Therrrrre gooooooes my miracle, one has suspicions, but there’s nothing overtly political about the song. But notice that (as in Working on a Dream) Bruce doesn’t identify the sex of the person he’s singing about: There’s no her or she in the song, much less any reference to such characters as Sandy, Candy, or Mary. Springsteen ordinarily burrows into specificity but this one is unusually vague: Auburn skies above/I’m searching for my love  and Moonlight, moon bright/Where’s my lucky star tonight? In the chorus, Springsteen sings “Look what you’ve done repeatedly — standard complaint of the heartsick. But then Springsteen switches to “Look what we’ve done. There’s no previous indication that the singer was at any fault in the breakup. So would we be the United States of America? I think this is a love song to Barack Obama.

UPDATE: A dedicated Bruce-ologist writes to tell me he thinks the song is about Springsteen’s children growing up and walking away. Maybe. But I don’t think “Look what we’ve done” is the way one talks about one’s children. And the kids have been grown for a while. Springsteen’s son Evan, a musician, is 28.  Daughter Jessica, an equestrian, is 27. Son Sam Springsteen, 25, is a firefighter.

Books, Arts & Manners

New York Launch Speech for My Father Left Me Ireland

My Father Left Me Ireland by Michael Brendan Dougherty (Sentinel/Michael Brendan Dougherty)

The following is adapted from remarks I gave at The Player’s Club on May 15 for the New York launch of my book, My Father Left Me Ireland.

Tráthnóna maith. Is mise Mícheál.

I’ve sometimes had trouble explaining to people in a sentence or two what this book is about. Ezra Klein came up with a good one. He said My Father Left Me Ireland is “a moving, lyrical memoir about fatherhood and identity.” He said, “It’s also a stirring defense of nationalism, an attack on wonks, and a critique of some of the core assumptions of liberal modernity.” That sounds pretty great, actually.

But I think the book is also, fundamentally, a romance of fatherhood. I did not know it would turn out this way as I was writing it, but in the end I noticed that in trying to describe my fatherless childhood from the inside, in uncovering the documentary evidence of the letters my mother wrote to my father, and that my father wrote to me, I was telling a classical romance story. Two characters separated by their choices or their tragic circumstances, who long to be with one another, and who miscommunicate their feelings to one another.

It is also fundamentally a story about how the romance of fatherhood transfigures us, how it can reveal to us a transformed and redeemed world in a flash of insight or a glorious vision, an insight that comes to you only when you yourself are transformed by a child, or by an act done for posterity itself. I come around at the end of the book to say that my fatherhood taught me that when we act on behalf of the future, the past, even a past marked by failure and brokenness, can be given back to us as a gift.

In the first half of the book, I describe the world that my mother built for me, one with stories of Irish history, with concern for the Irish nation, and its exiled children in the fourth green field. It describes the bits of Irish language she grafted into our daily routines. It’s a story of how she was, intentionally or not, binding my heart and imagination to a country that I could only call my own, through my link to it in an absent father. This attempt to recover an ancient language — even a dying one — she did on behalf of her newborn son. And that’s not all.

I then move on to describe the culture and education I was raised in, the homeland around the home: this period of the 1990s when Ireland had, for its own reasons, some of them understandable, grown tired of the ideas that lay at the heart of its history, when it dismantled this story of how their nation was saved at a great price, through the sacrifices of its heroes; and of an American culture that sought to liberate me from a past it deemed wholly oppressive. Insofar as I was allowed to remain Irish, I had to do so as a Plastic Paddy, as a consumer of the cultural kitsch that was being belched out of the Celtic Tiger.

But gradually I saw the results of this culture in my life. Freed from obligation from without, freed from standards from above, we became pitiless judges of our own lives. Free to define for ourselves our obligations to our families, and to our communities, we end up as latchkey kids, as lonely single moms, as a bereaved young man, who must conjure for himself the just and proper thing from an endless buffet menu of meanings and services, all provided at exorbitant cost.

But as life prepared me for my own child to come into the world, I began to be transformed, the way my mother was once transformed by me. I started throwing myself into Irish history, language, and literature. And tonight I want to pick out two men and examples from it.

At the heart of this book is Patrick Pearse. A language activist, who becomes a political nationalist, a schoolteacher, and eventually the leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. What was so radical about him and his comrades was their willingness to take Ireland — yes, Ireland — seriously. Sure, Irish people had for decades before the Rising been filling themselves with sentimental ballads about their country. They often did so self-consciously, as a form of emotional compensation for what they also viewed as a failed country, a broken home for the Irish people, marked by failed rebellions, famine, and emigration into the more successful parts of a British Empire, an Empire that was fundamentally not run in their interests.

Pearse himself goes through a transformation of converting this sentiment into action. The view of Ireland as a failure — as fundamentally broken — was the wise man’s view. And Pearse wanted to be a “fool.”

In one poem, he wrote:

O wise men, riddle me this: what if the dream come true?
What if the dream come true? and if millions unborn shall dwell
In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?

Pearse detested the moral failures of the previous generation. In the last year he worked himself into the highest lather:

Is mairg do ghní go holc agus bhíos bocht ina dhiaidh,’ says the Irish proverb: ‘Woe to him that doeth evil and is poor after it’. The men who have led Ireland for twenty-five years have done evil, and they are bankrupt. They are bankrupt in policy, bankrupt in credit, bankrupt now even in words. They have nothing to propose to Ireland, no way of wisdom, no counsel of courage. When they speak they speak only untruth and blasphemy. Their utterances are no longer the utterances of men. They are the mumblings and the gibberings of lost souls. … 

They have built upon an untruth. They have conceived of nationality as a material thing, whereas it is a spiritual thing. They have made the same mistake that a man would make if he were to forget that he has an immortal soul. They have not recognised in their people the image and likeness of God. Hence, the nation to them is not all holy, a thing inviolate and inviolable, a thing that a man dare not sell or dishonour on pain of eternal perdition. They have thought of nationality as a thing to be negotiated about as men negotiate about a tariff or about a trade route, rather than as an immediate jewel to be preserved at all peril, a thing so sacred that it may not be brought into the market places at all or spoken of where men traffic.

Pearse hated the education system of his day, for robbing Irish people of their history, their heroes, and thereby robbing them of their manhood. He said the British would no more educate the Irish than they would arm them. He said that the education system in Ireland trained men not to be hard, proud, valiant, but to be sleek, and obsequious — that is, to be good slaves, not free men. He denounced this education as a Murder Machine, that destroyed the Irish nation.

And Pearse had a vision for his own students, students whom he saw himself as “fostering” under the name of Saint Enda at his school. He wrote about it in the school’s magazine:

I dreamt I saw a pupil of mine, one of our boys at St. Enda’s, standing alone upon a platform above a mighty sea of people, and I understood that he was about to die there for some august cause, Ireland’s or another. He looked extraordinarily proud and joyous, lifting his head with a smile almost of amusement. I remember noticing his bare white throat and the hair on his forehead stirred by the wind, just as I had often noticed them on the hurling field. I felt an inexplicable exhilaration as I looked on him, and this exhilaration was heightened rather than diminished by my consciousness that the great silent crowed regarded the boy with pity and wonder rather than with approval – as a fool who was throwing away his life rather than a martyr who was doing his duty. It would have been so easy to die before a hostile crowd: but to die before that silent, unsympathetic crowd. … I remember telling it to my boys at a school meeting a few days later, and their speculating as to which of them I had seen in my dream: a secret which I do not think I gave away. But what recurs to me now is that when I said that I could not wish for any of them a happier destiny than to die thus in the defence of some true thing, they did not seem in any way surprised, for it fitted in with all we had been teaching them at St. Enda’s. I do not mean that we have ever carried on anything like a political or revolutionary propaganda among the boys, but simply that we have always allowed them to feel that no one can finely live who hoards life too jealously: that one must be generous in service, and withal joyous, accounting even supreme sacrifices slight.

Ultimately it was Pearse who would be the fool he prized. He led an obviously doomed rebellion in Easter week, 1916, but one that would provide a flash of transfiguration, that would instantly transform Dublin, the seat of eight centuries of foreign rule, into the central theatre of Irish liberation. He handed his sword in defeat to his enemies. He and his comrades blessed their executors. And they trusted they would be vindicated. He said that he and his comrades would be blessed by unborn generations.

I also reflect on the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh, who hails from the county my father’s family comes from. Kavanagh wrote a poem that was unpublished, describing devout Irish men and women seeking out the material things and prosperity by going to a holy well and performing their devotions. It was called Pilgrims:

I saw them kneeling by the holy well –
It was for life, life, life they prayed:
Life that for a farmer is land enough to keep two horses,
Life that is healthy husband to a maid.

I saw them climbing the holy mountain –
It was the knowledge, knowledge, knowledge of life they pursuid:
Knowledge that is in knowing what fair to sell the cattle in,
Knowledge that is in being able to cart an acre from a field.

I saw them lying on the burning stones –
It was vision, vision, vision they desired:
Vision that is forecasting a mare’s hour of foaling,
Vision that is catching the idler, newly hired.

I saw them kneeling, climbing and prostrate –
It was love, love, love they found:
Love that is Christ green walking from the summer headlands
To His scarecrow cross in the turnip-ground.

What did I find in the words of Pearse and Kavanagh as I rocked my infant daughter to sleep? What I found is that, looking at them, with this little girl looking at me, these men had rebuilt my broken home, they had transfigured my parents.

I found myself adopting Pearse’s generational curse. He wrote his malediction over the Home Rulers who could not recognize the image and likeness of God in their own people. I made his curse my own, and leveled it at the Baby Boomers, who also have made the denial of the image and likeness of God in their people their fundamental claim of liberation, first in America, and now in Ireland. But I have spared some members of this my curse.

People have asked, rightly: Couldn’t you have titled it My Mother Left Me Ireland? Yes, I could have. Because she did. The whole idea of this book began after she died, and I found her letters, and next to her letters, this pamphlet of Nordie propaganda, Britain’s War Machine in Ireland. I suddenly saw in her letters that it was my mother who, in the face of my impending birth, was transformed from the sleek and obsequious person the culture wanted her to be, into a proud and valiant woman, fighting for her child.

In her letters, she contemplated the wise course, the obvious choice. But she was transformed by love. And dismissed the whole thing in an instant, she dismissed what she could not do to “her child.” She was fired from her job. She was overlooked by men in her life, all on my account. And so she learned the Irish language. She became an Irish nationalist. She did something the world barely could contemplate. She suffered disease and loneliness and misunderstanding. She was my Patrick Pearse, who in her love, was willing to take on a doomed battle on my behalf. In the eyes of the world she was the fool threw her life away, to know the joy of motherhood. And that is why this book on fatherhood is dedicated to my mother, an American fool, and my Irish liberator. By recovering the artifacts of Irish nationalism, even as Ireland throws them away, I am giving my children their grandmother, my mother, who longed to see and to know them.

And then there is this man, my father. I won’t say all he did was right. But my book turns on a moment at the start of my adolescence, when my father appears as a surprise at my Catholic school just as the summer is beginning. That school had done its job in making me an atheist. The culture had done its job in making me suspicious of all my received understandings. And I did my own work too. I recruited myself into the idea that my father was visiting me as an afterthought, that he really just wanted to see a football match. After years of not seeing him, he shows up, unannounced. And he offers me gifts. And I rewarded him by despising this gesture for years afterwards. I rewarded him with my silence, with unreturned letters. And those letters I got from him. I ripped open, looking for a check. What was fatherhood, but the provision of a little dough?

And yet, years later, I found myself beside him at a wedding in Dublin — in a place that the British soldiers shot out at the rebels of 1916. And my father told me that this visit to me was driven by a madness to see me, and the fear at being disallowed to see me. He said he felt like a terrorist when he looked back on it, researching the time when he could see me without interruption or interference. He told me about his fear even of being arrested. And he said that being a father now I would understand. I told him, “I do.”

At that wedding, without realizing it, I said to him those two words that I think my mother once dreamed of saying to him: I do. And that moment in my boyhood was transfigured too, transfigured by a knowledge I only had through my own fatherhood. I had reduced fatherhood to the means of provision, for knowing where to sell the cow. But my father had come there to see me, to submit himself to danger, to submit himself to humiliation, and to my rejection. Why? To disclose the love of a father to his children. My father, in his lowest moment, was transfigured into an icon of Christ walking in from the summer headlands. The moment I had rejected him was the moment in which it was Love Love Love, I found.

My Father Left Me Ireland is the story of how my infant daughter mended a broken home. It is written in the hope that our sons and daughters will mend the homelands beyond them, and make America and Ireland nations once again. Go raibh maith agaibh. 

Film & TV


One of those things I seem to have a mental block about: I mentioned Jonathan Last’s excellent essay “The Case for the Empire” on MD&E today, but attributed it to Matt Labash. I think I may have done this once before. It’s a great piece, and I of course regret the error. Apologies.


Ten Things that Caught My Eye Today (May 21, 2019)

1. Robert Royal on The New Pro-Life Moment


3. Sesame Street has introduced a muppet who is in foster care.


5. Naomi Riley on Georgia’s foster-care bill

6. Lisa Wheeler: The abortion debate makes me wonder – Have we forgotten how to love?

7. Cardinal Dolan on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM today:

This is a legitimate, understandable and, I think, exemplary backlash to the viciousness of what we did here in New York.  I think the country got a wake-up call.  They said, ‘Look what’s going on in New York. … No wonder the rest of the country said this is not going to stand.

8. Pope Francis to journalists:

“humble journalists does not mean mediocre, but rather aware that through an article, a tweet, a live television or radio program, you can do good, but also, if you are not careful and scrupulous, evil to others and sometimes to entire communities.”


My friends at Witness to Life have an initiative thinking along some of the same lines for civilly married Catholics who want to get right with the Church.

10. These are the hardest-to-spell words in the English language




Politics & Policy

Florida Abortion Statistics Debunk Common Pro-Choice Argument

(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Data from Florida reveal that, in 2018, an overwhelming majority of women reported obtaining an abortion for reasons other than to preserve their own life or health, or due to fetal-health complications.

Women obtained about 70,000 abortion procedures in Florida last year, and more than three-quarters of those were classified as having been “elective,” meaning that the women did not provide a reason for having obtained the procedure. Another 20 percent of those abortions were classified as having been chosen for “social or economic reasons.”

Meanwhile, the instances that abortion-rights supporters tend to focus on accounted for a tiny percentage of the overall abortions in Florida last year. Fewer than 1.5 percent of the abortions were in cases where a woman’s physical health was threatened, fewer than 2 percent were in cases where a woman cited psychological-health problems, and fewer than .3 percent were in cases where a woman’s life was in danger. One percent of the cases involved serious fetal abnormalities. Only .14 percent of women reported having obtained an abortion due to having been raped, and only .01 percent took place in cases of incest.

A 2004 survey by the pro-choice research group the Guttmacher Institute confirms what Florida’s data suggest, finding that just 4 percent of women who obtained abortions reported a physical-health problem, 3 percent cited possible fetal-health problems, and fewer than .5 percent were pregnant as the result of having been raped. The most common reasons women cited for obtaining an abortion were not being ready for a child or another child, or being unable to afford a child.

These statistics expose a common falsehood promoted by abortion-rights activists, who insist that women never choose abortion frivolously and that most abortions take place in grave circumstances, such as cases when a woman’s life is in danger or the fetus is too sick to survive after birth. In reality, a slim minority of women choose abortion for these reasons.

National Review

Whatever You Do, Don’t Miss the NRPlus Call with Dan Crenshaw!

National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson and Representative Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) (Pete Marovich)

Next week, I’ll be joining Representative Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) on a conference call for members of NR Plus. It’s the eighth one we’ve done so far, with past guests including Ben Shapiro and Karl Rove. If you’re a member, I look forward to you joining the call, and if not, you should sign up now so you can reserve a spot — it’s going to be great.

Crenshaw, of course, is an American hero and represents the second congressional district of Texas, which encompasses parts of Houston, in the House of Representatives. He served three tours of duty as a Navy SEAL and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. In his first year as a congressman, Crenshaw’s fresh voice and principled stands have made him a stand-out addition to the conservative moment.

On the call, which will be on May 29, we’ll talk about his path in politics, the debate over socialism, and more. As usual, we’ll be taking questions via our members-only Facebook group. If you haven’t signed up for NRPlus yet, please do. We’d love to see you at the end of the month and on future calls as part of this great NR community.

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