President Biden delivered a prime-time address last night from Philadelphia. In the history of nighttime presidential speeches this was certainly one of them. Like every speech Joe Biden has delivered in his adult life it was stilted, awkward, and just plain terrible, but at least it was free from the casual racism that appears in so many of his remarks. So at least he had that going for him. Which is nice.

Biden’s theme was that “MAGA Republicanism” threatens to destroy democracy, enslave our children, and kill our puppies, or something along those lines. The president, who a week earlier signed an almost certainly illegal executive order “forgiving” student loan debts that may cost the Treasury up to a trillion dollars, issued a stern warning about fascism, or semi-fascism, or pseudo-fascism, or whatever.

In delivering these remarks, Biden carefully chose as his setting a backdrop which most certainly does not evoke any dictatorial or Nazi imagery at all.

I will spare you all the 300th Dwight Schrute joke you’ve probably already heard today. I will merely thank the heavens above he didn’t shave his eyebrows.

Who wore it better?

Anyway, our very concerned about norms president took to the stage and angrily denounced voter reform laws by calling it Jim Crow 2.0 and comparing Republicans to Bull Connor.

Whoops, sorry, wrong speech.

In last night’s speech, President Biden was mainly concerned by the threat posed by “MAGA Republicans,” a term of art he carefully tested in front of audiences – meaning staff members mainly looking to escape the room before he touched them inappropriately.

Our uniter president said:

And here, in my view, is what is true: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution.  They do not believe in the rule of law.  They do not recognize the will of the people. 
They refuse to accept the results of a free election.  And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.

There are certainly aspects to these remarks that rang true. There are a band of Republicans who refuse to abide by election results. There’s no place in our politics for people who refuse to accept the result of elections, which is why I look forward to Joe Biden taking back his endorsement of Stacey Abrams. Or maybe firing his press secretary.

Biden is also very concerned about political violence.

They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.

Oddly enough, President Biden did not find the time in his remarks to condemn the attacks, bombings, and vandalizations of crisis pregnancy centers. Perhaps that is coming in the sequel.

Speaking of abortion, our very Catholic president – who undoubtedly had just prayed a rosary he retrieved from some young man’s throat – made sure to make multiple allusions to the Handmaiden’s Tale that is bound to grip America if “pro-life” Republicans like Blake Master have their way and abortion is only permitted in the first 38 weeks of pregnancy.

Which really brings us to the heart of why Biden’s remarks were so frustrating and revolting. While Biden tried to distinguish between “MAGA Republicans” and “regular” Republicans, his litany was the same exaggerated rhetoric we’ve been hearing about the entire Republican party for decades. What difference is there between this:

MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.

And what Ted Kennedy said about Robert Bork:

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

Joe Biden happily stood aside while Kennedy defamed a good man, and we’re supposed to take him seriously when he’s repeating the same slander 35 years later?

The painful part of this all is that Donald Trump and some of the candidates following in his footsteps are worthy of condemnation. Charles Cooke rightfully called Donald Trump a lunatic for peddling his election theft lies and fantasies about being restored to the presidency. There is an absolute problem with some parts of the right following this madman over the cliff, which is why the promise of a red wave this November has been shattered.

But the blatant hypocrisy of this administration cannot be overlooked. Biden has abused his office multiple times – first with the continuance of the eviction moratorium and recently with this student loan farce. He continues to inflame passions rather than heal them with his divisive rhetoric, and his press office lies to our face and attempts to gaslight the American public on a regular basis, as it did just yesterday with these remarks from its election-truther press secretary.

She then said schools went from “46 percent open to nearly all of them being open full time” in less than six months.

“That was the work of this president and that was the work of Democrats in spite of Republicans not voting for the American Rescue Plan which $130 billion went to school to have the ventilation to be able to have the tutoring and the teachers and be able to hire more teachers and that was because of the work this administration did,” she added. 

Democrats worked to reopen schools much the same way the Phillies have tried to beat the Mets by scoring fewer runs than them in every game (and it worked in all but 5 of their 19 games). The chutzpah is shocking even for this administration, but hey, anything to make Americans forget what Democrats and their masters in the teachers’ unions did to children. At least Democrats have learned from their mistake and have seen the light on the disastrous school closure prices.

Oh. Wait.

Biden’s cynical ploy to detract attention away from the disastrous results of his administration’s policies is understandable, most of all because it has frankly worked. And it will continue to work because Donald Trump is an idiot and he will undoubtedly provide the ammunition for further attacks. That there is a kernel of truth to Biden’s remarks don’t make them any less odious or divisive, only politically effective. That they may work to only strengthen Democrats’ grip on the levers of power, considering what they did with a bare majority, is enough to make at least some of us lose a little sleep at night.


Dobbs: Culmination and Beginning

I didn’t expect to react to the Dobbs decision as I did: a quick spontaneous clap followed by tears. This is a day I did not expect to see in my lifetime. Many, if not most pro-lifers (some driven by cynical partisan motivation) thought Roe and Casey would never be overturned. So when I read the words on Scotusblog “Opinion written by Alito” I just about lost it. My lifetime has spanned all but four years of Roe’s existence. I have never known any other regime. Alito’s opinion, joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett, and kinda sorta but not really Roberts, dismantled one of the most unjust, unreasoned, and non-constitutional judgments ever rendered in the history of the Court. It spoke a plain truth recognized by even intellectually honest pro-choicers: the right to abortion is nowhere in the Constitution – indeed, it isn’t even hinted at, and Roe v. Wade was an exercise of judicial legislation. It returns this issue, rightfully, to the states, meaning that the work of the pro-life cause has just begun.

The correctness of the decision is best made by the dissent. Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan could not even muster a proper constitutional argument. Instead, their dissent reads like a fundraising letter written by Planned Parenthood. There is barely any attempt to ground their opinion in constitutional analysis. Much of it overheated rhetoric about how women basically have no rights, as though complete womanhood can only be achieved by ready access to abortion. They spewed Squad-inspired talking points about economic opportunity (and the lack thereof) as though it has any relevancy to the central question: is abortion a protected right under the Constitution or is it not?

Alito and the rest of the majority ably vanquish both the dissent and Roberts’ Hamlet act in his concurrence. In terms of legal arguments, it was the Tyson-Spinks of constitutional debates.

Perhaps progressive legal minds can take a lesson from what happened. Over-reliance on stare decisis has enfeebled the progressive legal project, particularly on abortion. Originalists have spent 49 years perfecting reasoned arguments based on the constitutional text and history. The Federalist Society has helped churn out hundreds upon hundreds of well-trained legal minds who know the law, Constitution, and history inside and out. If pro-choicers would like to make headway on this issue judicially, then they might want to take a cue from the other side, otherwise there will be more judicial routs.

So where do we go from here? As I have indicated elsewhere, I don’t think the politics of this issue are as clear as some would like to make it out to be. Polling on this issue is skewed both by the wording of some polls as well as people’s basic ignorance. That so many people have been led to believe that overturning Roe means abortion is banned throughout our country is a failing of our civic education and an indictment of our media. Even now the lie is being propagated that this also means decisions like Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergfell will also be reversed.

Which leads me to Thomas’s concurrence, because it has given folks on both sides of the issue quite a bit of agita. Thomas flat out said that these decisions should be overturned because the doctrine of substantive due process is legal bunk (I am rather loosely paraphrasing).

As a frank legal matter Thomas is of course (as he nearly always is) correct. Many late 19th and early 20th century decisions were based on substantive due process claims. These decisions usually yielded what might be called economically libertarian outcomes. While there are a decent number of libertarian-leaning judicial analysts, such as George Will for example, who think these decisions were rightly made, many others believe they were suspect at best. After the New Deal, substantive due process was used in many opinions that resulted in court victories for socially liberal causes.

Thomas, quoting himself in the concurrence, writes

The notion that a constitutional provision that guarantees only ‘process’ before a person is deprived of life, liberty, or property could define the substance of those rights strains credulity for even the most casual user of words.

But even if Thomas is correct, why bring it up? As he lays out in the concurrence, substantive due process enlarges judicial power and permits judges to act as a sort of super-legislature, interpreting into clauses rights where none exist. It also distorts other avenues of interpretation, and it often leads to “disastrous ends,” with Dred Scot being a prime example.

As Thomas indicates, outcomes based on substantive due process claims could also be achieved by other, more legitimate constitutional means. But even hinting at overturning the decisions mentioned above can allow progressives to say “Aha! We told you so!” So is it worth it?

Again, Thomas is correct and his concerns about substantive due process are on the money. It is a pernicious doctrine. But even if he had four other justices to agree with him (doubtful) that doesn’t mean these cases are going anywhere. For justices to rule there has to be a justiciable case before them. No state is about to outlaw contraception or criminalize homosexual acts. Even on gay marriage there doesn’t seem to be any real appetite to change things. So these cases are almost certainly never going to be revisited for that fact alone.

But can substantive due process be vanquished as a legal doctrine otherwise? Without directly overturning prior legal decisions could the Court as a whole determine that substantive due process will no longer be a foundation for future rulemaking? Or does it need to be attacked root and branch with affirmative denunciations of prior decisions? It is admittedly a somewhat thorny issue for originalists. While these decisions were almost all as erroneously decided as Roe, personal opinions on the policy being overturned are almost universal in their disapprobation of the actual policy (again, perhaps less so with gay marriage). Abortion is a much different issue, and passions on that remain hot. Outside of perhaps a few nationalists, I can’t see too many legal scholars setting their sights on contraception access.

So while Thomas is ultimately right, I don’t know how much of an effort originalist legal scholars will be making to upend these precendents.

Which brings us back to the question: where do we go from here? As emotionally satisfying as yesterday’s opinion was to read, it really is just the beginning. Abortion becomes an issue to be debated on a state level. I live in a state that has already legislatively given its blessing for continued abortion on demand through all stages of pregnancy.

Which means the hard work has really just begun. Roe v. Wade was a judicial abomination that all but the most ardent pro-choicers saw as such. Getting it overturned was the easy part, for we just needed five justices who had the courage to openly declare it for what it was.

It was also a relatively unifying cause. All but the tiniest handful of pro-lifers thought Roe should be overturned.* But now that abortion properly enters the world of public policy such unity will dissipate. We’re already seeing this with some pro-lifers calling for more direct economic control and federally mandated assistance. There will certainly be divisions within the pro-life camp about how far legislation should go. Should all abortions be prohibited at every stage with no exceptions? With some exceptions? Only after a heartbeat? Or 10 weeks? Or 15?

*: Such “pro-lifers” include egg-headed former third party presidential candidates who may or may not have to read instructions on how to tie their shoe every day.

So with that unity in the pro-life camp sure to fracture, it will make convincing everyone else even more challenging. And make no mistake, our job now is to convince the rest of the country that abortion is what it is: the murder of unborn life. And if we can’t do this job, then yesterday’s victory was ultimately meaningless.

The Fear of Winning

I’m convinced that people like complaining, especially when it comes to politics. People especially like to complain about losing. That would certainly explain why some pro-lifers seem to be cowed by fear that Roe v. Wade may actually be overturned. I am not talking about the anti-anti-abortionists I mentioned a couple of posts back. No, I am instead talking about genuinely pro-life people who nonetheless are concerned that reversing Roe may lead to Democratic gains in the November elections.

First, on a simply practical level, I don’t think that’s going to happen. There is already scant evidence that the leak of the potential majority decision in Dobbs has led to any appreciable uptick in donations to Democrats. What’s more, the people who are most agitated (on either side) over the abortion issue assuredly have their votes cast in stone and were set on voting for Democrats (if pro abortion) or Republicans (if pro life) this Fall. The mushy middle on abortion (and I am more convinced every day the Simpsons Halloween special from 1996 captures the mood of a good chunk of the American electorate) are not likely to be especially bothered by a SCOTUS decision they barely understand when they’re paying $5 to fill up their cars or when they can’t buy baby formula.

More fundamentally, though, so what if the decision did have some negative electoral consequences? What is the point of winning elections and appointing originalist justices if we live in perpetual fear of actually accomplishing legal or policy goals? Pro-lifers (and even some originalist pro-choicers) have waited 49 years to overturn the abomination that is Roe v. Wade. For the first time in half a century this issue will be left to the states (hopefully – the decision has not officially been rendered). While there will be states that continue to permit abortion, and there will be woke corporations willing to fund abortion tourism, this will result in lives being saved as states pass laws restricting abortion to varying degrees and stages of pregnancy. This is a good thing. There will be much work left to accomplish, but it is impossible to put abortion on a course of ultimate extinction without this first step.

Reversing Roe will not only permit states to restrict or even prohibit abortion, it will change the conversation. Many people labor under the misunderstanding that reversing Roe will outlaw abortion, or that under the current regime states may prohibit abortion after certain stages of pregnancy. They are not aware that America’s current abortion policy is far, far more permissive than in almost every other country on earth. Most European countries either prohibit or severely restrict abortion after the first trimester, a fact that eludes a good chunk of the electorate. Bringing abortion back into the democratic process will be an educational opportunity for pro-lifers to bring light to the issue. Once more people will grasp the reality of current policy, it may begin the process of people asking even more questions about abortion, and including questioning their own beliefs.

Abortion isn’t the only policy issue where some seem almost forlorn that some measure of success has been achieved or that the issue may be debated out in the open. Senator Rick Scott’s 11-point plan has come under fire, although not without reason. He has already walked back an earlier iteration that called for raising taxes on lower- and middle-income people to make sure “everyone had skin in the game.” And some of the other points seem a little half-baked. Yet there almost seems to be a reluctance to have any meaningful discussion on any policy proposal that may generate even the tiniest amount of pushback. Republicans will almost certainly have a great November, and so many are content to mute any kind of issues-oriented campaigning. But what exactly is the point of elections if you refuse to ever advance an agenda?

In some weird way I almost admire the “burn it all down” approach of the Democrats. Sure almost everything they have attempted to do is completely unpopular, but you have to give them credit for their gumption. Of course, their problem is the complete opposite: completely disregarding public opinion is no more sensible than poll-testing every utterance. Somewhere between political cowardice and complete recklessness is a governing philosophy that hopefully some of our leaders might adopt before the end of the republic.

Does Trump’s endorsement make a difference?

After last week’s win in Ohio for JD Vance in the GOP Senate primary, there has been the usual pundit hot takery that is little more than a public therapy session meant to confirm one’s priors. Anti-Trump and/or anti-populists downplayed the importance of Trump’s endorsement, while those more friendly to Trump or at least the new right, populist brand hyped it up. Personally, I do think Trump’s endorsement likely put Vance over the top, but that is not necessarily a portent of things to come. The Ohio Senate GOP primary was, for all intents and purposes, a MAGA-off. Every candidate was attempting to out-Trump the other. The only viable, non-Trumpy candidate was a mediocre candidate who barely stood out from the pack. In that environment it makes sense that Trump’s endorsement would carry more weight.

Yesterday Trump went one for two in his endorsements, with a Trump-backed candidate winning a West Virginia House primary but another losing a Nebraska gubernatorial primary. Again, though, how much is either a reflection (good or bad) on Trump and not just a reflection on local and unique situations? In West Virginia, two incumbent House Republicans were squaring off because the state is losing a Congressional seat due to reapportionment. Alex Mooney defeated David McKinley, the latter of whom voted for the bipartisan infrastructure act. West Virginia is now one of the most solidly red states in the country. (Side note: who could have predicted that 20 years ago? For all the people who think states’ political dispositions are forever fixed, here is exhibit A on why that is a flawed assumption). McKinley voting for the IJA probably had more to do with him losing than Trump endorsing his opponent, though in a state like West Virginia it assuredly had some impact. Nebraska is a different kind of political animal with its own unique set of issues, so again, I am not sure how telling the outcome there is for Trump’s influence in the party.

Primaries in Pennsylvania and Georgia will be more telling. Trump’s endorsement of Doctor Oz is not even popular among his own supporters. Oz may win, but it will be because the non-Oz vote will be split, and there are no runoffs. (Another side note: even if it shouldn’t be necessary to get an absolute majority, why not set at least a minimum threshold of, say, 40% to win a primary?) In Georgia, it looks like Governor Kemp is set to whomp David Perdue. Considering that Kemp is Trump enemy number 1 as far as Republicans go, this would be a major rebuke. Some of that will no doubt be on Perdue, who has essentially decided to take his Trump levels to 11. But Perdue is also someone who has won statewide elections in Georgia. Unlike Doc Oz, he has actual political experience, so his defeat would be a bit more meaningful.

In the end, I am not sure how much Trump’s endorsement really matters. It probably can decide close elections in certain states, but is probably otherwise no crucial. If anything, a Trump endorsement may be a lagging indicator than the deciding factor.

The anti-anti-abortionists

So, anything happen while I have been gone?

I don’t have much to add on the substance of the leaked decision that may spell the end of Roe. Pro-lifers have had too many Lucy pulling the football away moments to feel comfortable until the decision is actually handed down. I will note that the talking point going around that conservatives/Republicans are focusing on the leak because they don’t want to defend the actual substance of the decision is preposterous. First of all, the leak itself is a huge news story, and it represents one of the worst breaches of trust in the history of SCOTUS. If the leaker is a clerk, he or she should be fired and possibly disbarred. If the leaker is a Justice, impeachment should not be off the table.

Second, many conservatives have been quite happy to laud the draft opinion. Personally, I refuse to read it until Dobbs is formally and officially decided, but those who have read it, at least among actual conservatives (more on that in a moment), have universally and unapologetically praised it.

What I would like to discuss are the erstwhile conservatives and Catholics who have either thrown cold water on the decision or else have actively derided it. I won’t even bring up the folks at the Grifter Project. Everyone already knows their principles are subject to being changed by the highest bidder, so I will go on ignoring them as every good and decent person should.

No, I would like to talk about the more “enlightened,” principled conservatives, especially those whose mission is to conserve conservatism. First of all, there is Evan McMullin.

Sorry, I have to pause here. Every time I see that name I am embarrassed all over again for having voted for him in 2016. It’s pretty bad when the protest vote against two despicable candidates winds up being the biggest grifter of the bunch. He is single-handedly responsible for ensuring I never vote third party again, and will instead leave the ballot blank when I dislike both candidates.

Anyway, the man who was about 60 million heartbeats away from the presidency penned this philosophical gem.

As a pro-life Utahn, I’m concerned that the never-ending tug-of-war over abortion laws threatens to create a public health crisis and further divide the nation without solving anything. My campaign is about forging a new way forward and building a new American consensus, even when it seems impossible and others refuse to try. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, some states will immediately enact extreme laws — such as total bans on abortion, onerous limits on birth control, and criminalization of women in desperate situations. I oppose these laws. I will advocate for sensible legislation that improves support for women, children and families, safeguards access to health care, and establishes reasonable standards that prevent extremists from doing harm

Everything written after “pro-life Utahn” proves he is anything but. Evidently this “pro-life” politico opposes laws that would actually restrict abortion. I am also unaware of any states currently thinking of limiting access to birth control or criminalizing “women in desperate situations,” but when your entire political philosophy was created in a lab run by Bill Kristol, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when the end result is a political Frankenstein monster with an even less substantial brain than Mary Shelley’s original creation.

Speaking of the Gil Gunderson of the American right, Bill Kristol managed to kind of sort of criticize the leak, but not without demonstrating his “brilliant” understanding of how the Supreme Court works.

No one should break Court rules and leak draft opinions. But if we were setting it all up now, given the unique “public law” character of Court “opinions,” would it be ridiculous to allow drafts to be made public? Draft laws and regs are often improved by comments and criticism.

Evidently Kristol thinks Supreme Court caselaw is just like a Department of Transportation rule that’s open for comment in the Federal Register. Sure, the Supreme Court should just open 30-day comment periods and have the public offer critiques of their preliminary decisions – I can’t see how that possibly could go off the rails. The again, the public can offer comments to the Court – in advance of the case in these things known as amicus briefs.

Then there’s Jonathan Last, another writer at the Bulwark. Last was once a staunch pro-life advocate and author of books like What to Expect When No One’s Expecting. He was also a fierce critic of the Democrats and the shenanigans they pulled during the Kavanaugh hearings. Alas, Last’s current employers don’t want to hear anything that might in any way be critical of Democrats or espouse traditionally conservative views, so he managed to twist himself into a pretzel to write this hot take:

But there is a longer-term consequence that is starting to become very clear: For the first time since the days of Jim Crow, it is going to matter a lot what state you live in.

Oh, it gets better from there.

Both political parties are interested in controlling peoples’ lives. In many places, the Democrats, for instance, want to prevent you from using plastic grocery bags. Democrats forced restaurants to put the number of calories in a dish on restaurant menus. You may recall that in New York City Democrats even wanted to control the maximum size of a soda you could buy. Quelle horreur.

And the Republicans want to exert control over Americans’ lives, too. They want to be able to control the presidency on an ongoing basis with a minority of the popular vote. They want to impose their own rules on how voting may happen, how votes are counted, and even whether or not governmental bodies may choose to reject the results of vote counts. They want to control what the CEOs of private businesses may or may not say in public. They want to criminalize abortion.

So, you know, both sides I guess?

Yes, dear Jonathan, we all know the left is only interesting in controlling drink sizes. Otherwise, the woke left is absolutely for the maximization of individual liberty, as any Christian baker in Colorado would surely understand. Sure, leftist scolds want to eliminate from public discourse anyone who might disagree even a little with the current orthodoxy of transsexual issues, but Republicans want to, umm, set clear voting roles and mitigate voter fraud. Yeah, I mean, we’re on the edge of the Fourth Reich here.

Of course it that’s next-to-last sentence that rankles. They want to criminalize abortion? Until Center Enterprises, Inc. started dangling paychecks in front of him, so did Jonathan Last.

In the end, I will just let Isaac Schorr have the final word on Last.

If I were to play Last’s game and describe Democrats’ position as uncharitably as I could manage, I’d argue that Democrats also want to impose their own rules on how voting may happen, how votes are counted, and even whether governmental bodies may choose to reject the results of vote counts. They want to legalize late-term abortion across the country. They want teachers to preach the virtues of fringe theories about gender and race in the classroom.

Now I happen to think he’s quite talented, so it’s my assumption that Last knows that the arguments he’s making are poorly grounded and constructed but are nevertheless easy on his readership’s eyes. And if these are the sacrifices he believes he needs to make in order to keep them, I’d only remind him that there are ways to make a living that are much easier on the conscience.

Finally, there is Mark Shea. Frankly, I have tried to forget that Shea still writes, but out of morbid curiosity I just had to see what he wrote about all this, and unfortunately he didn’t fail to disappoint to disappoint.

if you are trying to think through the question of abortion, “Eucharistic coherence”, voting and all that, particularly in light of the possibility that SCOTUS is about to finally hand the “prolife” movement the pyrrhic victory of overturning Roe.

Shea calls the evident reversal of Roe a pyrrhic victory, but perhaps he is upset because it’s a victory he has assured us for decades was never coming because the GOP has been playing us. Now that two decades of doomcasting have been proven to be bogus, Shea wants to pretend it is utterly meaningless.

The fantasy that this will magick away abortion is of a piece with the entire right wing fantasy that law can change hearts and minds.

So, we shouldn’t work to change unjust laws that permit the murder of innocent children? Should we not outlaw rape and murder because the laws don’t change hearts and minds?

So if you are a Catholic who wants to actually think with the Church, or a prolifer who wants to actually save lives and not simply impose a regime founded on force, fear, blood, and iron that will, soon and very soon, be destroyed by a democracy that has had it up to here with MAGA antichrist religion, this is my crie de coeur

Look, I can try to parse this sentence, but I am only human. That this could have been written by a supposed Catholic apologist is just sad.

Only 13% of Americans want to outlaw abortion. 

So Mark is now quoting pro-abortion talking points – and ones that are so manifestly false as to make me question the man’s grasp on reality. I’m not going to do a deep dive on abortion polling data, but this isn’t even close to true unless you are using the strictest interpretation of wanting to outlaw abortion imaginable.

Finally, in the comments, Mark added this:

The Church’s teaching on the *legality* of abortion is, painfully obviously, not clear at all. 

Once again, this man is a professional Catholic apologist. He has spoken many times about how he has dedicated his life – at the expense, at times, of his family’s comfort and financial well-being – to apologetics, and he comes out with this statement that is manifestly and obviously false. I will quote from the Pillar:

But not everything that is immoral needs to be illegal. So the Church speaks directly to the question of whether abortion can be legal: “A law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion is in itself immoral,” the CDF said in 1974. 

The CDF said later that “As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of his conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.” 

That’s unambiguous. 

The CDF does not say who should face those penal sanctions – and Catholic ethicists have most often called for laws which penalize doctors who perform abortions, not women who undergo them – but the text answers directly what the Church teaches about possible justification of the legal protection for abortion.

Sin makes you stupid. Sometimes plain old stupidity does the trick as well.

RIP Rush

I just heard the news about Rush Limbaugh’s passing. I didn’t expect to have it hit me as hard as it has. I stopped listening to Rush at about the time Donald Trump rose to prominence, but for 23 years before that I was a steady listener. I was 15 years old when i tuned into Rush for the first time, and he was at the forefront of my formative political memories.

Rush was simply head and shoulders above everyone else in political talk radio. He didn’t yell. He didn’t scream. He was almost always interesting. Stylistically no one else compares.

What I fondly recall was my father initially hating Rush but then quickly becoming a regular listener. My father was a lifelong Republican but voted for Clinton. It didn’t take long for my father to grow disenchanted with Slick Willy, and before you know it he was there listening to him alongside me. He even quipped that Rush’s “See, I Told You So” must have been written specifically for him.

Whatever disagreements I’ve had with Rush in recent years I will always appreciate what he did for the conservative movement.

Liz Cheney Wins a Round

It is encouraging that Liz Cheney won the vote to remain in leadership, and it wasn’t particularly close. Matt Gaetz storming off like a petulant child who didn’t get his way was the chef’s kiss.

Will this be a short-lived victory? While I think the anger at her back home might be real, I am not certain that when all is said and done she will not survive her primary challenge. Perhaps I am being naively hopeful, but after more than a year emotions may call and more rational voices will come to the fore and Cheney will be returned to the House.

This is less encouraging.

The other big story coming out of the GOP meeting on Wednesday was McCarthy’s decision to keep freshman Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia as a member in good standing despite wildly conspiratorial, bigoted, and violent remarks she made in recent years.

Of course the Democrats being Democrats, decided to overplay their hand and will be holding a vote to strip her of her committee assignments. While I think Republicans absolutely should do this, I think the decision should be left up to the caucus. And when Ilhan Omar is one of the ones leading the charge – well, there’s a saying about glass houses.

Catholic Schools Offer Ray of Hope

William McGurn writes in the Wall Street Journal on the success of Catholic schools during these pandemic times, and also how they can offer opportunities to all students failed by public schools both during and before the pandemic.

The National Catholic Education Association reports that its schools boast a total enrollment of 1,626,291. In ordinary times their teachers do an extraordinary job, especially for their poor and minority students. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, “Catholic schools have been a pipeline to opportunity” for people like her—poor, Latina, raised by a single mom. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Catholic-school administrators have moved heaven and earth to keep their classrooms open to new generations of Sotomayors.

“The science is clear that there is no substitute for in-person learning, especially for poor and minority children most at danger of falling behind,” says Tom Carroll, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Boston. “Across the nation, the Catholic school approach is to stay open wherever we are allowed.”

This paragraph is telling:

“I can date the change in Massachusetts,” says Mr. Carroll. “We were facing a drop of more than 5,000 students. But when the three teachers unions in the state announced they wanted a delayed opening and remote learning, our phones started ringing off the hook.” Alas, not everyone can afford the Catholic option even though the tuitions they charge are relatively modest.

When Montgomery County attempted to block private schools from re-opening, it had absolutely nothing to do with genuine concerns about safety. The public school monopoly feared what indeed did happen – parents with options would place their children in private schools.

Private schools in this area have been open since September, and there have been almost no COVID breakouts that I am aware of. Meanwhile, public school students in the area might get to go back before the summer.

Thank God for Catholic schools, or who knows how many additional children would have been stuck with another year of distance “learning.”

David Harsanyi Asks A Very Good Question

On this day where the March for Life would ordinarily be held, he poses a very good question indeed.

Now here is Lyla Stensrud at four years of age. I have yet to hear anyone offer a good argument — other than pointing to the extreme rare cases that genuinely threaten the life of the mother — as to why it is either moral or legal to end the life of thousands of children like Lyla every year.