New at LifeSite: Our GOP Congressional Leaders Are Lousy on Life

Here’s my latest piece, highlighting some of the details NRLC and SBA List left out of their statements slobbering all over Paul Ryan:

Over the years, Ryan voted for and presided over multiple budget resolutions that continued the more than $500 million Planned Parenthood receives from taxpayers annually. Pro-life leaders called onthe GOP to make defunding Planned Parenthood “non-negotiable” in budgets passed under Barack Obama, but Ryan defended not doing so on the grounds that “in divided government, no one gets exactly what they want.”

Last month, Ryan said that supporting the most recent budget was necessary to fund the military. But critics like Rep. Thomas Massie, R-KY, argue that under Ryan, the House forbade lawmakers from voting on amendments concerning Planned Parenthood or any other conservative objections to the bill.

“A more complete betrayal of the electorate I have not witnessed,” Massie tweeted.

Moreover, while Ryan’s House passed several pro-life measures, only the one letting states defund Planned Parenthood ever became law.

There’s a lot more at LifeSiteNews. And here’s a snippet of my piece from earlier this week detailing how ostensible Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (for all intents and purposes, Chuck Schumer is really calling the shots) continues to let Democrats slow-walk judicial nominees, in the hopes of delaying as many as they can until Donald Trump no longer has a GOP Senate majority to confirm them:

An October 10 memo signed by more than one hundred conservative leaders, including Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, and Tea Party Patriot’s Jenny Beth Martin, blames part of the problem on the McConnell Senate’s “continued insistence on working no more than 2 ½ days a week – arriving on Monday evening for a handful of votes, and departing, on average, by 2:30 p.m. each Thursday afternoon.”

Even under the 30-hour rule, the leaders add, McConnell could “easily make this painful for them by forcing continuous session overnight and through the weekend.” They estimate this would enable the Senate to confirm up to five nominees per week even with the added hours of debate.

On a related note, the insipid myth that McConnell is the real hero in getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court continues to make the rounds, even among people who should know better like Matt Walsh:

Advertisements

Assorted Musings on Kevin Williamson and the ‘Respectable’ Right (UPDATED)

Rarely do we see a story that has so much to teach, from which so little is learned, than the saga of Kevin Williamson’s firing from The Atlantic. The nonsense continues to pile up, so let’s see if we can sift out some truth.

One and Done

Lost in the uproar so far has been the fact that Williamson’s one and only Atlantic essay was crap. It was little more than a regurgitation of his longstanding contempt for Donald Trump and rank-and-file conservative voters, all wrapped in his trademark long-windedness that he tries to pass off as sophistication. The best I can say about it is that he dings libertarians for the delusion that they matter, but even that’s tainted by the delusion that they deserve to matter.

Still, it contains a couple of noteworthy nuggets:

  • His gratuitous and misleading swipe at someone who actually possesses the intellect Williamson imagines in himself, Victor Davis Hanson. I can’t add anything to Hanson’s prophetic response, but I do have to say how remarkable (and, I confess, gratifying) it is to see one of the Right’s most respected figures finally mention — in National Review, no less! — what most conservatives have spent years pretending not to notice: Williamson’s tendency to be “incoherent and cruel.”
  • “Self-professed libertarian voices such as Larry Elder have become abject Trumpists.” I don’t hear Elder enough to judge his overall take on Trump, but I can use Google — which is apparently more work than Williamson bothered to do. It took me less than 30 seconds to find this column in which Elder criticizes the “economic illiteracy” of Trump’s tariffs. Especially since it’s not the first time Williamson’s misrepresented a fellow conservative over Trump, his dishonesty makes all the odes to what a wonderful guy he is doubly grating.
  • “The Christian right was able to make its peace with Trump with relative ease, because it is moved almost exclusively by reactionary kulturkampf considerations. ‘But Hillary!’ is all that Falwell and company need to hear, and they won’t even hold out for 30 pieces of silver.” Anyone else see the irony of Williamson sneering at religious conservatives’ judgement that abortion (among other issues) was important enough to justify voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton (a call that’s since been vindicated), just before getting sacked for an abortion statement more extreme than anything they’ve ever said? Williamson understands that abortion is literally murder (and in his saner moments has written eloquently about how being born just a few months later, after Roe v. Wade, might well have killed him). Yet not only did he ignore the moral imperative this gave the 2016 election, he lacks any discernible charity for others motivated to vote Trump by a concern he claims to share.
  • One wonders if throwing in the German for “culture struggle” (or “culture war,” as we’d say) above was meant to evoke the vile smear of Trump supporters as Nazis, or to provide another bit of foreign language faux-sophistication. Knowing Kevin, probably both.

Kevin D. Trump?

I’ve long suspected that one of the reasons Williamson’s animosity toward our vulgar, impulsive, nasty, big-mouthed, thin-skinned president is so visceral is because, on some level, he recognizes some of those qualities in himself. His hanging comments are a perfect example not only of that, but of his #NeverTrump colleagues’ selective outrage.

One of the most glaring (and, so far, unspoken) ironies in all this is that Williamson’s defenders know damn well they never would have tolerated Donald Trump saying anything half as inflammatory. In fact, it’s not hypothetical — they didn’t tolerate it. Remember when Trump told Chris Matthews there “has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions? Conservatives uniformly (and rightly) came down on him like a ton of bricks. National Review’s editors said he “managed to damage his own campaign, the Republican party, and the pro-life cause at a single go.” NR’s David French called it an example of Trump doing “what he does best: open[ing] his mouth and insert[ing] his foot.”

Curiously, though, that doesn’t seem to be the verdict for Williamson saying — and sticking to — a more extreme version of what Trump said and recanted. Now, French meekly says “we might differ about the laws in hypothetical-future-America.” Jonah Goldberg (a senior editor who presumably had some input in the Trump denunciation) says simply that “You can agree or disagree with” Williamson’s position, but what really matters is that “He never made that argument for National Review.”

What’s the difference? That Williamson thought it through and Trump was just spouting what he assumed pro-lifers wanted to hear? True, but irrelevant — if punishing women is the wrong answer, it’s wrong no matter who gives it or why. That a presidential candidate is a bigger PR liability that a conservative opinion writer? Also true, but only a question of degree — the Left made sure to publicize it just the same, and again, it cannot be harmful for one person to say something but harmless for another to say the same thing, only harsher.

Indeed, many of Williamson’s other defenders are actually doing more harm by suggesting he was fired merely for being pro-life — lending credence to the leftist smear that punishing women (up to and including death) really is what opposing abortion’s all about. (UPDATE: Here’s my explanation for why Williamson is wrong about punishing women, and why most pro-lifers are logically consistent on the subject.)

Say, isn’t there a word for holding a like-minded friend to one standard, and a hated opponent to another? Oh yeah…tribalism.

Not Quite a Victim

The Atlantic and Jeffrey Goldberg are absolutely the bad guys here; the left-wing filth they’re willing to both publish and tolerate from their writers proves that leftist mob outrage, not some sincere or consistently-applied editorial principle, is why they canned Williamson. That said, let’s not exaggerate Williamson’s victimhood or overlook his own contribution to his current situation.

First, as Ace wrote Friday (in a post that’s a must-read for points beyond what I’m covering here), an opinion magazine terminating a writer for his opinions is hardly a matter of censorship, and going too far down that road carries a strong risk of hypocrisy:

The Atlantic is a magazine of ideas. Obviously, ideas being its stock in trade, it has the right any business does of deciding what ideas it wishes to sell and which ideas it thinks it can sell to its customer base.

Its ideas and the writers typing up those ideas are its stock in trade and its entire brand identity.

It has a very strong interest in defining not only what its brand identity is, but what its brand identity is not […]

I asked someone at the National Review during general campaign season of 2016 (not primary season — general election season) why they were hiring nothing but NeverTrumpers. They were hiring both writers of quality, like Heather Wilhelm, and trash level writers, who I won’t name.

The quality varied but their politics did not: They were all vociferously anti-Trump. Again, during general election season, when the only alternative to Trump was Hillary Clinton […]

Fair enough.

But then: Doesn’t The Atlantic have that exact same right to choose which writers it wants to tell its audience are worth reading (and, indeed, worth paying cash money for)?

Second, Williamson is only jobless (for the moment) because he chose to leave NR — a platform that, by all appearances, rubber-stamped damn near anything he wanted to say under its masthead, without regard for its reasoning or accuracy, no matter how unprofessionally he conducted himself on Twitter or elsewhere  — for a platform where it was entirely predictable that his days would be numbered.

Why did he make such a shortsighted trade? That brings us to the last item of this rundown…

Jonah Gives Away the Game

In just a few days, the righty blogosphere has filled with gushing defenses of Williamson, including one from his NR pal Jonah Goldberg. Its reviews as the best must-read reaction yet are dead-wrong (John Nolte’s, Scott Greer’s, and Ace’s are all smarter and more important), but it does illuminate a couple of extremely important points Goldberg didn’t intend to.

First, throughout the piece Jonah showers Jeffrey Goldberg (no relation) and The Atlantic with eyebrow-raising praise. Jeffrey “courageously hired Kevin because he wants his magazine to be a public square for different points of view.” Jonah “still think[s The Atlantic] is an excellent magazine, for now.” Jeffrey is one of “many smart and thoughtful liberals.”

Does Jonah really think excellence can be compatible with people and organizations dedicated to undermining the Constitution, individual rights, limited government, and free markets? Or is he stoking liberal egos for elite respectability? Neither possibility is flattering.

And it would be beyond naiveté to honestly believe Jeffrey had such lofty motives. Since the primary Williamson has established himself as one of the nominal Right’s nastiest (and shallowest) critics of Donald Trump and Trump-sympathetic conservatives. That’s what The Atlantic really wanted: a pet conservative to regularly dump on the Right, their own Jennifer RubinBret Stephens, or Charlie Sykes.

It says a lot about Kevin Williamson that “tool of the Left” was a job opening he was happy to fill, and that he thought getting in bed with vipers would spare him their wrath.

Finally, consider the following:

His point is that abortion is the taking of a life and should thus be treated under the law as such. You can agree or disagree with that position, on moral, practical, or legal grounds. I disagree with Kevin on all three grounds to some extent, even though I am what you might call mostly pro-life (I know, I know, but we can argue about all that another day).

And:

There are writers at National Review who are pro-choice, but they aren’t fired for it. They just don’t typically make that case in our pages.

All of a sudden, the past two years make a lot more sense.

Ever since Trump won the nomination, we’ve been inundated with lectures about how accepting Trump would corrupt conservative principles. Yet here we have one of the most prolific peddlers of those lectures admitting that “to some extent” he rejects the most foundational of those principles (the Declaration of Independence lists the right to life first), and that some other NR writers reject it outright.

No wonder he and so many other #NeverTrumpers downplayed the threat Hillary posed to the country and turned up their nose at the idea America’s survival was at stake. No wonder Goldberg lazily dismissed the moral dilemma of throwing a Senate seat to pro-abortion Doug Jones rather than leaving the Roy Moore accusations for an ethics panel to decide. Because #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary were operating from different starting assumptions not about either candidate, but about the causes we supposedly share.

They were the ones taking the conservative principles at stake less seriously than those of us who supposedly “sold out” or “bent the knee” to Donald Trump. And now, on at least one issue, we have one of them inadvertently admitting it.

So in a very roundabout way, we actually owe Kevin Williamson our thanks. His antics turned out to be the catalyst for his fellow travelers to display #NeverTrump’s moral and philosophical bankruptcy with some of the clearest examples yet.

Just imagine the rant we’ll get if he ever realizes it.

New at LifeSiteNews: The Atlantic Hypocrites Fire Kevin Williamson

Here’s my latest commentary at LifeSiteNews. Spoiler alert: Jeffrey Goldberg isn’t the only one I have words for.

Well, that was quick. After publishing just one piece at his new gig, liberal magazine The Atlantic has already fired conservative columnist Kevin Williamson.

On March 22, Williamson announced his departure from National Review, saying he viewed the new job as an opportunity to “be an apostle to the Gentiles,” taking his commentary to an audience where exposure to conservative ideas was the exception.

That might have been a nice theory, but how it fared in practice was entirely predictable. A left-wing mob immediately swarmedThe Atlantic, ostensibly outraged that a “reputable” publication would allow an extremist to supposedly darken its door (though Huffington Postwriter Noah Berlatsky let slip liberals’ real motivation with the simple declaration that “conservative ideas aren’t worth debating”).

The mob has gotten its wish. A memo to Atlantic staff has gone public, in which editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg confirms that the publication has fired Williamson. Goldberg said some of Williamson’s past “intemperate” tweets were not initially deal-breakers, but that was before the left-wing Media Matters unearthed a 2014 podcast in which Williamson doubled down on one of his most controversial remarks: that women who have abortions should be hanged (pro-life leadersdenounced Williamson’s comments at the time).

“My broader point here is, of course, that I am a – as you know I’m kind of squishy on capital punishment in general – but that I’m absolutely willing to see abortion treated like a regular homicide under the criminal code,” Williamson elaborated in the podcast.

Read the rest at LifeSiteNews.

Related reading: Ace on what Williamson’s original writing said about the “respectable” Right, and Victor Davis Hanson refuting a swipe Williamson made at him in his only Atlantic piece.

The Simple Solution to Roy Moore None of His Enemies Want to Talk About

Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake, Michael Steele, Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg, David French, Kat Timpf, Guy Benson, Kimberly Ross, David Harsanyi, and the many other right-of-center figures who want Alabama Republicans to refuse to vote for Roy Moore in today’s election are right about one thing: it is despicable to not care whether Moore is guilty of molesting or assaulting children, to find any degree of rationalization or justification for his alleged actions, and to not care whether a pedophile joins the United States Senate. Reasonable questions have been raised about some of the accusations, but holes have also been poked in some of the Moore camp’s denials (chiefly by Moore himself), so while his guilt is uncertain, nor can we be confident in his innocence.

Here’s where they’re wrong: it is equally despicable to be okay with Moore’s Democrat opponent, Doug Jones, joining the Senate despite the confirmed fact that, according to his own words, he supports the legal ability to kill children at virtually any point in pregnancy (there are numerous issues on which Jones defeating Moore would be a net harm to the American people by further narrowing the GOP’s majority, which is already too thin to consistently pass conservative legislation, but here we’ll focus on abortion, as it best clarifies the moral stakes).

So what do we do? Excuse pedophilia in the name of the preborn? That’s how some of the above have framed the choice. While refusing to directly address the evil of Jones’ abortion position, they argue that we must sacrifice the Senate seat to the Democrats to demonstrate our integrity.

But there’s another option that doesn’t require us to give a possible predator a pass or add another prenatal execution enthusiast to the Senate: vote for Roy Moore, then have the Senate launch an ethics investigation into the charges against him once he takes office. As I wrote at TFPP:

If Moore is cleared of assault and molestation, then the issue is closed and the “honor” of a chamber that counts Teddy “Swimmer” Kennedy and Robert “Sheets” Byrd among its distinguished past members is unaffected.

But if Moore is guilty — or even if he perjures himself while the facts of the charges remain uncertain — then the Senate has an actual basis for expelling him, at which point Alabama Governor Kay Ivey appoints a Republican replacement and the Senate seat has been kept out of the hands of both a child predator and a child killer.

Despite all the hysterics #NeverTrump types have spewed over the predicament, the solution has always been clear. The path laid out above doesn’t require anyone on either side to compromise any of our principles — we don’t have to rationalize preying on children, we don’t have to take the Washington Post or Gloria Allred’s word for anything, and we don’t have to accept that giving Democrats one more vote with which to harm the country is the price of demonstrating how “virtuous” we are.

It has since been reported that the Senate Ethics Committee will “immediately” take up the matter. Especially after Al Franken’s resignation (which may or may not actually happen, but I digress), Republicans will have every incentive to get it done, and most of the people listed above consider Mitch McConnell a principled and effective leader, so he should be more than capable of getting Republicans on board for an expulsion vote (that is, assuming Republicans even need to be pushed).

So what’s the problem? Why isn’t every conservative advocating this path? Why do we have to preemptively surrender the seat to Jones? Nobody listed above will say. It goes suspiciously unmentioned in their columns and tweets and TV appearances. For weeks, I’ve been posing this question to several of these folks on Twitter, and none of them have answered (despite routinely taking the time to highlight and swat back softballs from fringe accounts).

Perhaps it’s because for many in the Beltway-based, moderation-inclined, and establishment-friendly corners of the Right, implementing conservative principles and protecting the American people from the Left aren’t really their top priorities at all.

Maintaining one’s image of (supposed) moral purity is more important. Conservatism needs to be more moderate. Some GOP agenda items matter more than others. The Right needs to be punished for not picking our candidates and appreciating our wisdom. And heaven forbid the mainstream press get the impression that we’re not the respectable kind of conservative!

To varying degrees all of these animate the vast majority of center-right pundits possessed by NeverTrump/NeverMoore fever. And above all, they simply refuse to see the Left for what it is.

Case in point: a couple weeks ago, many of the above ganged up on philosophy professor Tully Borland’s Federalist op-ed arguing that Republicans vote for Moore even if he’s guilty, because Jones’ abortion position is the greater evil. Critics rightly criticized Borland’s passage about adults dating teenagers, but conveniently ignored that his actual overall position was “Elect Moore and support the Senate not giving him a seat. This would bring about another special election”…and none of them seriously grappled with Borland’s ultimate point about abortion’s evil.

In fact, Jonah Goldberg’s response (which doesn’t refute the point; he just frets that he dislikes the implications) inadvertently demonstrates just how morally twisted the “respectable” Right has become:

But because Moore’s opponent is pro-abortion, Moore is the superior choice — despite the fact he is the more evil man in his personal conduct […] His argument isn’t that Doug Jones is an evil man per se, it’s that the Democrats are so evil and the Alabama Senate seat is so important, Republicans should abandon any standards of personal conduct that are inconvenient to victory [emphasis added].

Note how Goldberg distinguishes between policy evil (without expressly agreeing that abortion is evil, by the way) and personal evil–as if there’s a difference. The laws enacted by government take effect in the real world, not SimCity. Abortions kill real human beings just as surely as Stephen Paddock did. How is an enabler and defender of literal child murder not every bit as much of an “evil man per se” as a child predator, just because his evil manifests in his professional conduct rather than personal?

It’s of a piece with this crowd’s hostility to the idea that politics is a figurative war. But whatever one thinks of that framework, it’s apparent their alternative goes too far in the other direction–treating politics like a game in which the other side is granted some bare minimum level of respect no matter what and elections can be thrown without feeling a basic obligation to even address their outcomes’ policy impact on millions of Americans.

Mo Brooks, not Roy Moore, clearly should have been the nominee. But unless somebody knows where to find a time machine, there’s nothing we can do about that now. All we can do now is elect Moore to keep out the proven evil, then demand that the Senate set to work confirming and ejecting the alleged evil. This isn’t a call to settle for the lesser evil over the greater one; it’s a call to exercise patience and strategy to protect the country from both.

Lies, Damned Lies, and NeverTrump: A Defense of Dennis Prager

Note: an abridged version of this column appears at The Federalist Papers Project.

Dennis Prager set the conservative blogosphere ablaze last week with a column asking why there are conservatives “who still snipe (or worse) at President Trump,” who “remain anti-Trump today” despite the fact that for the next three and a half years, he’s our only means of getting national conservative policies across the finish line.

Prager’s first suspected reason:

While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do […] To my amazement, no anti-Trump conservative writer sees it that way. They all thought during the election, and still think, that while it would not have been a good thing if Hillary Clinton had won, it wouldn’t have been a catastrophe either.

Exactly right, and a crucial point that NeverTrumpers, for all their self-righteousness, never seriously addressed.

Prager’s conclusion:

They can accept an imperfect reality and acknowledge that we are in a civil war, and that Trump, with all his flaws, is our general. If this general is going to win, he needs the best fighters. But too many of them, some of the best minds of the conservative movement, are AWOL.

I beg them: Please report for duty.

Amen! This column was a much-needed reminder of the big picture, which NeverTrumpers tend to sorely lack. And sure enough, a string of pundits jumped at the opportunity to demonstrate that they’ve done no introspection whatsoever since the election. Continue reading

Of course: Trump prepping Kristallnacht, according to deranged, abortion-enabling ‘Catholic’

It shouldn’t need to be said that Simcha Fisher’s latest screed—“‘Pro-life’ Trump is engineering an American Kristallnacht”—is pure demagoguery, but after seeing it shared on social media by more than a few people who should really know better, apparently it does.

And before anyone affords the attack added weight because the author professes to be a pro-life Catholic, recall that Fisher has a history of hysterical slanders such as that Republicans “openly encourag[e] people to despite the weak.” So it’s not about Donald Trump being uniquely awful; she would be telling monstrous lies about any GOP president, and it’s disturbing that anyone other other than hardened leftists would approvingly spread her deranged, hateful rantings.

Now, you would think to any ethical author — especially any author who claims to accept “thou shalt not bear false witness” as a direct order from the Creator of the Universe — an accusation as severe as replicating an infamous Nazi massacre that was part of a years-long program of actually oppressing an entire group based solely on their religion would require a pretty high burden of proof. So Fisher must have caught Trump doing something really, horrifically beyond the pale, right?

Wrong. Fisher is the one using a paper-thin pretext to (in her words characterizing Trump) “whip up fear, suspicion, and outrage. To make people feel unsafe and angry.” The entire basis for her fear-mongering is that Trump has ordered DHS to publicize crimes committed by aliens, particularly illegals in sanctuary cities.

That’s it.

To any rational, competent adult who’s been following the illegal immigration debate for more than five minutes, the legitimate purpose here is obvious: draw attention to suffering caused by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, thereby increasing pressure on politicians to support real enforcement.

But if Fisher admitted that, it wouldn’t be as easy to fear-monger. So instead, she maliciously attributes racism to the objects of her own prejudice. The closest thing to a counterpoint she even tries to muster is pointing out “immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States” — a statement that (a) omits “illegal” before “immigrant,” as leftist propagandists always do, and (b) is beside the point. The issue is not whether illegals are more criminal; it’s that the total number of crimes they commit, whatever it may be, is a needless addition to native-born crimes. The only reason they happened here at all is because our willful negligence let them in/let them stay in the first place.

Lastly, since Fisher so casually throws around Nazi references and the fascist label, it’s worth reminding people that she voted for Hillary Clinton and has in past elections said she was “thrilled” to learn a GOP candidate wasn’t pro-life because it freed her to vote Democrat. So even as she invokes Holocaust Remembrance Day to falsely accuse Trump of “openly trying to engineer” mass slaughter of Mexicans, she has no problem supporting those who perpetuate the actual holocaust of abortion, not to mention the party that champions literal curtailment of our individual rights and the democratic process.

Presumably Simcha Fisher’s audience is largely confined to the lunatic fringe, but I have observed that, bizarrely, she also attracts a small handful of more moderate fans who embrace her hate as a legitimate expression of Christianity. Heaven only knows how she pulls that off, but I certainly wouldn’t want to trade places with her when she finds out whether God concurs.

New at TFPP – ALERT: McConnell STABS Pro-Lifers in The Back; Colludes With Democrats

Today’s annual March for Life in Washington, DC comes as the pro-life movement has its first opportunity in years to make real progress toward ending abortion. But Republicans being Republicans, they may yet find a way to squander it.

Politico reports that during a GOP retreat this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on his House colleagues’ hopes of saving babies anytime soon:

Rep. Trent Franks had a simple question for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a private GOP meeting here Wednesday: Would he take up anti-abortion legislation the House passed? McConnell shot back that it would never get through the Senate because Democrats aren’t “pro-life” and have the votes to stop it.

So why don’t you just change the rules? Rep. Bruce Poliquin demanded moments later. McConnell dodged, suggesting it’s not going to happen […]

They’d love to kill the filibuster, a nuclear option the tradition-bound McConnell is loath to deploy.

“The public doesn’t want to hear about process; they want to see us get stuff done,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.). “I think there is a very low threshold of tolerance among our electorate right now for historical process (and) precedent.”

No, Leader McConnell, Democrats don’t “have the votes,” because they don’t have the majority. You are choosing to let them hold bills hostage.

Read the rest at The Federalist Papers Project.