Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rest in Peace, Brennan Manning

By Jana Reisss
Religion News Service
April 13, 2013

Brennan Manning, 1934-2013
Brennan Manning, 1934-2013
“Oh no!” That was my response this morning when I saw on Twitter that Brennan Manning,the alcoholic ragamuffin saint, passed away yesterday.
I first found Manning through The Ragamuffin Gospel, as many people do. I was struck by his raw honesty and entire dependence on God. Billing itself as “good news for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out,” the book was a fresh cup of grace to many who were tired of fellow Christians’ legalism and judgment.
And did he ever need that cup of grace. Luther once famously said to “sin boldly,” and it pleases me to think that Manning did just that. By that I don’t mean that he sinned any more than most of us. I think that for him, “sin boldly” was not so much a license to sin as a license to talk about it. He was not a hider.
A couple of years ago when I read his memoir, All Is Graceit moved me deeply. It was published right around the same time as Flunking Sainthood, and I was beginning to hear from readers how much they appreciated authors’ willingness to discuss spiritual failures in public. Such transparency was and is very hard for me, but I have learned that it is the way of healing.
Here is what I wrote at the time:
This memoir is the first thing I’ve read of Manning’s in a very long time, and I found it unexpectedly powerful. It’s good that he recounts his life in chronological order, because by the time you get to the “sin boldly” part, in which he reveals his deeply troubled adult journey, you’ve already read about a childhood so loveless and miserable it would make a Roald Dahl character appear cherished by comparison. His mother’s seething, cold angularity; his father’s ne’er-do-well abusiveness; the sudden death of his only true boyhood friend: It’s all there, along with urban poverty, the Great Depression, and the proverbial wolf at the door.
It’s my observation that kids who come from shame-based backgrounds tend to head in one of two basic directions: they either 1) program themselves on “repeat,” mimicking their parents’ substance abuse and descending into chaos, or 2)  sublimate the dangerous self by trying to be The Good Child. During my own turbulent adolescence—which was on my mind constantly while reading this book, since the weekend I read it marked the first anniversary of my father’s death—I chose what was behind Door #2: social acceptance, academic success, a place in the world. The shadow side of that path, the one they never warn you can be every bit as destructive as what’s behind Door #1, is that external approval becomes its own brand of addiction. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep it real and fight what Manning calls “the impostor self.”
Manning, rather magnanimously, chose both paths. He did this in an almost laughably stereotypical way, by becoming the good Catholic boy who stumbles through mass on Sunday morning because he’s still hung over from Saturday night.  By age 18 he was drinking a dozen beers every night (every night?!), a pint of rye whiskey every other day, and a liter of sake about once a week. He was also beginning to write (a talent he honed in the military, of all places), discovering his unexpected gift for captivating audiences with his words while feeling an even more unexpected tug to the priesthood.
Manning was a priest for many years, and then, just as suddenly, he wasn’t anymore. He had fallen in love. His discussion of this phase of his life is one of the most tender and joyous parts of the book, but it doesn’t last. It wasn’t long before Manning resumed the alcoholism he hoped he had laid to rest forever when he became a priest. One particularly heartbreaking scene in the book has him admitting that he would provide spiritual wisdom for audiences and delight the crowds immediately before checking himself into an anonymous motel in that same town, unplugging the phone so his wife couldn’t reach him, and drinking himself into a stupor. He would be on his bender for several days and then fly directly from that city to his next speaking engagement so as to avoid facing his wife.
But there is true repentance in these pages, genuine sorrow for the ways he has damaged the people he loves. It is a beautiful book, its intensity all the more vivid because Manning is now ill and probably dying. As such, the beginning and end of the book offer a kind offestschrift to frame his story. Numerous friends and mentees share memories of how they met Manning or how he helped to turn their lives around. In the end, these loving voices do much to quiet Manning’s own articulated fears that his sins have outweighed the good he has done with his life. And throughout, always, is the underlying rhythm of a loving and forgiving God—a God Manning will meet sooner rather than later.
Grace, in the end, is everything.
Rest in peace, beloved ragamuffin.

From Dehumanizing Word Games to Gosnell

In Philadelphia, at a human abattoir on Lancaster Avenue, is where it ends, not where it starts. It starts with the perversion of language. It starts when the icons of a dissipated culture reduce a baby to a “fetus.” From there, Yeats’s blood-dimmed tide rolls rapidly in. Before long, a baby is not a person but a punishment, as President Barack Obama framed the matter in his familiar off-the-cuff iciness.
Of course, to describe newborn children in their boundless possibilities and wonder would be to acknowledge, foremost, their humanity. That is why, instead, abortion enthusiasts must grope for words when circumstances force them to speak publicly about their gruesome business.
“That fetus, or child — however way you want to describe it,” Mr. Obama once stammered. This was back when, as a state senator, he was unnerved by the natural resistance of babies to the unnatural insistence of their mothers — of theculture — that they just disappear. If you’ve ever watched a hit man testify, you’ve heard the same stammer: the faint glimmer of a long-forgotten but stubbornly indelible line between right and wrong.
It is the line that makes killing much easier to do than to talk about. It is the line that now impels a self-imposed media embargo against news about the shocking trial of Kermit Gosnell.
Gosnell is a 72-year-old abortionist. The formal charges against him — the murders of a woman and seven babies — are but drops in a sea of carnage. Mounting evidence reveals him to be a mass murderer of epic scale and Mengele methods. It also spotlights the evil — the apparently unspeakable evil — of legalized abortion in all its coarsening gore. Plainly, the vaunted journalists of our debased mainstream have determined that there must be no meaningful coverage. No time in the 24/7 cycle to notice the inexorable path from dehumanizing the vulnerable through word games to mass-murdering them with casual sadism.
Better to shove the evidence into a dark closet. That’s what they did in Chicago. There, despite the best efforts of “physicians” (they of the “do no harm” oath), many “however way you want to describe its” were “not just coming out limp and dead,” as Obama haltingly put it. The abortionists’ answer was to stick the helpless survivors in a utility closet where they could die, out of sight and out of mind. Obama, in the pitiless logic of legalized abortion, labored to preserve this oft-practiced but never discussed form of infanticide against the Illinois legislature’s proposed “Born Alive” ban. (See senate transcript, April 4, 2002, beginning at page 29.)
A decade later in Philadelphia, “it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” So said Stephen Massof, one of Kermit Gosnell’s fellow butchers, as he described for the jury the chamber of horrors that was the “Women’s Medical Society” on Lancaster Avenue. There, scores of babies — perhaps hundreds of them — were willfully mutilated after being born alive.
Standard fare was the “snip.”
“Snip” is a terse, antiseptic word. Like “choice,” it is tailored to those rare, discomfiting occasions when the intentional killing of a “however way you want to describe it” must be spoken of rather than silently done. It is an effort, as much mentally as verbally, to evade the monstrousness we abide in the United States, where nearly 60 million children — a population roughly equal to that of France or the United Kingdom — have been aborted since the Supreme Court’s 1973 fatwa in Roe v. Wade.
In a “snip,” the abortionist, sharp scissors in hand, grasps the squirming and sometimes squealing baby he has just delivered. He stabs the child in the back and then, snapping the blades, severs the spinal cord from the brain. Massof described the snip as “literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.”
He was testifying in exchange for a plea bargain that discounts his participation in numerous such “procedures” to a mere two instances of third-degree murder. After all, most of what he did at the “Women’s Medical Society” was perfectly legal.
The euphemistic “snip” calls to mind the Supreme Court’s opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart, another case about “choice.” Like Gosnell, LeRoy Carhart was an abortion “physician.” In the high court, he joined his progressive friends at Planned Parenthood and the City of San Francisco to defend the “choice” known as “partial birth” abortion — a name soothingly rebranded to “late term” abortion once it became clear that “partial birth” conveyed too much information.
In an uncharacteristically de trop outburst, the five justices in the narrow Carhart majority described varying abortion procedures with startling clinical precision. Most common is the first-trimester “suction curettage,” in which the “physician” vacuums the unwanted “embryonic tissue” from the womb. By the time the second trimester is reached, this “tissue” has matured into the unmistakable shape of a child. Thus the “dilation and evacuation” procedure is often called for.
Employed millions of times in this most civilized country over the last half century, “D&E,” the court explained, involves the “physician’s” use of forceps “to tear apart” the “fetus” by “ripping” it from the cervix and then “evacuating the fetus piece by piece . . . until it has been completely removed” from the mother. Often, the justices observed, the D&E “physician” finds it more congenial to “kill the fetus a day or two before performing the surgical evacuation,” since “medical” experience has shown that, “once dead . . . the fetus’ body will soften,” becoming “easier” to dice and remove. Oh, another helpful tip: “Rotating the fetus as it is being pulled decreases the odds of dismemberment.”
By the time Carhart was decided, Roe v. Wade had been on the books for over a generation — the generation, to be more specific, that is now ruling the roost. It goes without saying — for we wouldn’t want to say it — that, in a nation that has absorbed this generation’s preening “values,” D&E already enjoyed the stamp of judicial approval. The only question before the Carhart Court was whether “partial birth” abortion — “intact D&E” — was beyond the pale.
This “medical procedure” is triggered by an advanced stage of maturation, in which the child’s well-developed head tends to “lodge in the cervix.” Relying on the instruction of Martin Haskell, another experienced abortionist, the justices related:
The right-handed surgeon slides the fingers of the left [hand] along the back of the fetus and “hooks” the shoulders of the fetus with the index and ring fingers (palm down). While maintaining this tension, lifting the cervix and applying traction to the shoulders with the fingers of the left hand, the surgeon takes a pair of blunt curved Metzenbaum scissors in the right hand. He carefully advances the tip, curved down, along the spine and under his middle finger until he feels it contact the base of the skull under the tip of his middle finger.
The surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull. . . . He spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening. . . . The surgeon [then] removes the scissors and introduces a suction catheter into this hole and evacuates the skull contents. With the catheter still in place, he applies traction to the fetus, removing it completely from the patient.
“Evacuates the skull contents” may be more bracing than “snip,” but it doesn’t quite do justice to the process and the frightful insouciance behind it. That was left to a nurse who had watched Haskell perform the “procedure” on a six-month-old “however way you want to describe it.” She recalled that, once all but the head had been delivered,
the baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall.
The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. . . . He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.
Four justices of the United States Supreme Court would have upheld this barbarism. They would not have described it. It is not to be spoken of, only done. After all, to speak of it would infringe upon “choice.”
Speaking of “choice,” if President Obama has the opportunity to choose one more Supreme Court justice over the next four years, the Carhart dissenters will be the majority. Welcome to Philadelphia.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters: A Spring of Modern Comedy

By Lawrence Toppman
April 11, 2013

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More than a dozen funny people died Thursday night at the home of an 87-year-old man in Montecito, Calif.
Jonathan Winters passed away – of natural causes, says his Internet site – taking with him Maude Frickert, Elwood P. Suggins, B.B. Bindlestiff, Princess Leilani-nani (the world’s oldest hula dancer) and Piggy Bladder, football coach for the State Teachers’ Animal Husbandry Institute for the Blind. And others too numerous to mention, partly because they didn’t all have names.
If you’re under 45, you may never have heard of these characters – or Winters himself, unless you show “Smurfs” movies to your kids. (He’s the voice of Papa Smurf.) But Jonathan Harshman Winters Jr. influenced almost every major comedian from the late 1960s through the 1980s.
Cross-dressing? He donned women’s gear before Flip Wilson. An ever-changing array of weird voices and facial expressions? Robin Williams, a lifelong fan, picked those up from him. (And eventually got him a role on “Mork and Mindy,” as Mork’s son.) Odd little bits of poetry and cosmic wordplay? George Carlin killed with those, but Winters got there first. Before it was common for comedians to play dramatic roles, Winters did a marvelous job as an eternally damned pool player on “The Twilight Zone” in 1961.
Prior to Winters’ anarchic, often improvised TV appearances in the 1950s, comedians usually told jokes about wives, analysts or mothers-in-law. (The last survivor of that ancient line was Rodney “I don’t get no respect” Dangerfield.)
Winters opened doors. Actually, he knocked them down with bull-like force: You literally never knew what might come out of his mouth. (He may not have, either.) He didn’t deliver one-liners so much as one-offs, uniquely bizarre people he invented and sometimes cast aside just as quickly.
Though he didn’t curse, he liked to shock audiences with frank remarks, often delivered through the pursed lips of grandmotherly Maude or effete couturier Lance Loveguard. Before Sam Kinison or Andrew Clay, he unsettled people who didn’t know quite how to take his remarks.
Charlotte tea merchant Wayne Powers grew up in Mamaroneck, Long Island, near the house Winters dubbed “Winterset.” (He named it after Maxwell Anderson’s tragic play, perhaps aptly for a comedian whose dark side led him for a while into alcoholism.)
They formed a lifelong, cross-generational friendship – Winters wrote liner notes for Powers’ CD of popular music – and Powers knew the intelligent, curious man who collected a complete set of presidential signatures and prowled flea markets for antiques. Even there, Powers says, “he’d find a sailor hat or a weird pair of glasses on a shelf and put them on and do 15 minutes while a crowd collected. Then he’d say, ‘Why didn’t you get me away from all those people?’ ”
One of Powers’ anecdotes is telling: If you went into the bathroom at Winterset and closed the door, you were facing a large portrait of the owner and the words “Our John.”
Before Winters, most comedians wanted audiences to love them. He introduced the idea that the main thing was to be unpredictable and unignorable – and he always was.
Toppman: 704-358-5232

Jonathan Winters: 1925-2013

Jonathan Winters: Warped and wonderful

By Chris Erskine
1:23 PM PDT, April 12, 2013

Both straight-faced and antic, Jonathan Winters could get a laugh out of Leviticus. His face had more rubber than a set of Goodyear tires.
There are comics who can make you laugh, and there are comics who can make you hurt. Winters was one of those.
Yep, the folksy, Ohio-born comic could be lethal with laugher and goes down as one of the funniest men of his time -- of all time -- right up there with Groucho, Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar. He may not have been the king of comedy, more like its reigning court jester. He could never leave a straight line alone.

PHOTOS: Celebrities react to Winters' death

“The warm-up on ‘Mork & Mindy’ was funnier than the show,” recalled producer Garry Marshall by phone Friday morning. “People would come from all over the Paramount lot to watch Robin [Williams] and Jonathan ad-lib before the show.”
They say Winters, who died Thursday at age 87, could be crazy, literally; that’s always a fine line. Show me a comic who isn’t half nuts and I’ll show you a guy working the Sunday show at the Minneapolis Hyatt.
Indeed, the best ones are all a little nuts. When the rest of us hear noise, they hear rim shots. As eternal third-graders, their minds frolic in places we can never see. They make a life of puffing on the wrong end of the cigar.

PHOTOS: Jonathan Winters | 1925-2013

I’m not sure if it’s a slightly warped frontal cortex, but I do know that it’s occasionally genius -- a whimsical rearranging of the norm, a way of making us laugh in fresh and beautiful ways.
Their loopiness keeps the rest of us sort of sane.
“It’s a sad day,” said Marshall, who first met Winters as a writer for Jack Parr. “You could never guess where his mind might go.”
How funny was Winters?
“He invented a new category of comic genius,” Albert Brooks tweeted Friday.

VIDEO: Jonathan Winters' improv genius on TV

In the 1970s and ’80s, he seemed to be everywhere, one of the rare guests who could make Johnny Carson do spit-takes. He was on “Hollywood Squares,” and appeared in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” With Woody Allen, he even voiced a Saturday morning cartoon called “Hot Dog.”
Then came the fourth season of “Mork & Mindy,” when he appeared as the middle-aged Mearth, the newborn offspring of Williams, in one of the great casting decisions in TV history.
“It was Robin’s idea originally,” Marshall said. “Robin loved him and idolized him. They were sensational together.
“When [Winters] got going, it was one of the few times you could see Robin stop talking.”
RIP, you warped and wonderful comic genius ... Maude Frickert right by your side. 

Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for

Mark Steyn: Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for

2013-04-12 09:47:14
A few hours after Margaret Thatcher's death on Monday, the snarling deadbeats of the British underclass were gleefully rampaging through the streets of Brixton in South London, scaling the marquee of the local fleapit and hanging a banner announcing, "THE BITCH IS DEAD." Amazingly, they managed to spell all four words correctly. By Friday, "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead," from "The Wizard of Oz," was the No. 1 download at Amazon UK.
Mrs. Thatcher would have enjoyed all this. Her former speechwriter John O'Sullivan recalls how, some years after leaving office, she arrived to address a small group at an English seaside resort to be greeted by enraged lefties chanting "Thatcher Thatcher Thatcher! Fascist Fascist Fascist!" She turned to her aide and cooed, "Oh, doesn't it make you feel nostalgic?" She was said to be delighted to hear that a concession stand at last year's Trades Union Congress was doing a brisk business in "Thatcher Death Party Packs," almost a quarter-century after her departure from office.
Of course, it would have been asking too much of Britain's torpid Left to rouse themselves to do anything more than sing a few songs and smash a few windows. In "The Wizard of Oz," the witch is struck down at the height of her powers by Dorothy's shack descending from Kansas to relieve the Munchkins of their torments. By comparison, Britain's Moochkins were unable to bring the house down: Mrs. Thatcher died in her bed at the Ritz at a grand old age. Useless as they are, British Socialists were at one point capable of writing their own anti-Thatcher singalongs rather than lazily appropriating Judy Garland blockbusters from MGM's back catalogue. I recall, in the late Eighties, being at the National Theatre in London and watching the crowd go wild over Adrian Mitchell's showstopper, "F**k-Off Friday," a song about union workers getting their redundancy notices at the end of the week, culminating with the lines:
"I can't wait for
That great day when
F**k-Off Friday
Comes to Number Ten."
You should have heard the cheers.


Alas, when F**k-Off Friday did come to 10 Downing Street, it was not the Labour Party's tribunes of the masses who evicted her but the duplicitous scheming twerps of her own Cabinet, who rose up against her in an act of matricide from which the Tory Party has yet to recover. In the preferred euphemism of the American press, Mrs. Thatcher was a "divisive" figure, but that hardly does her justice. She was "divided" not only from the opposition party but from most of her own, and from almost the entire British establishment, including the publicly funded arts panjandrums who ran the likes of the National Theatre and cheerfully commissioned one anti-Thatcher diatribe after another at taxpayer expense. And she was profoundly "divided" from millions and millions of the British people, perhaps a majority.
Nevertheless, she won. In Britain in the Seventies, everything that could be nationalized had been nationalized, into a phalanx of lumpen government monopolies all flying the moth-eaten flag: British Steel, British Coal, British Airways, British Rail ... . The government owned every industry – or, if you prefer, "the British people" owned every industry. And, as a consequence, the unions owned the British people. The top income tax rate was 83 percent, and on investment income, 98 percent. No electorally viable politician now thinks the government should run airlines and car plants and that workers should live their entire lives in government housing. But what seems obvious to all in 2013 was the bipartisan consensus four decades ago, and it required an extraordinary political will for one woman to drag her own party, then the nation, and, subsequently, much of the rest of the world, back from the cliff edge.
Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles – although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural 12-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was. She was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain's most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war but, as much as in 1940, faced an existential threat.
Mrs. Thatcher saved her country – and then went on to save a shriveling "free world," and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off – as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the "leader of the free world" as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable?
And, even when Mrs. Thatcher won her victory, the civilizational cringe of the West was so strong that all the experts immediately urged her to throw it away and reward the Argentine junta for its aggression. "We were prepared to negotiate before" she responded, "but not now. We have lost a lot of blood, and it's the best blood." Or as a British sergeant said of the Falklands: "If they're worth fighting for, then they must be worth keeping."
Mrs. Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for, at a time when everyone else assumed decline was inevitable. Some years ago, I found myself standing next to her at dusk in the window of a country house in the English East Midlands, not far from where she grew up. We stared through the lead diamond mullions at a perfect scene of ancient rural tranquility – lawns, the "ha-ha" (an English horticultural innovation), and the fields and hedgerows beyond, looking much as it would have done half a millennium earlier. Mrs. T asked me about my corner of New Hampshire (90 percent wooded and semi-wilderness) and then said that what she loved about the English countryside was that man had improved on nature: "England's green and pleasant land" looked better because the English had been there. For anyone with a sense of history's sweep, the strike-ridden Socialist basket-case of the British Seventies was not an economic downturn but a stain on national honor.
A generation on, the Thatcher era seems more and more like a magnificent but temporary interlude in a great nation's bizarre, remorseless self-dissolution. She was right, and they were wrong, and because of that they will never forgive her. "I have been waiting for that witch to die for 30 years," said Julian Styles, 58, who was laid off from his factory job in 1984, when he was 29. "Tonight is party time. I am drinking one drink for every year I've been out of work." And when they call last orders and the final chorus of "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" dies away, who then will he blame?
During the Falklands War, the prime minister quoted Shakespeare, from the closing words of King John:
"And we shall shock them: naught shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true."
For 11 tumultuous years, Margaret Thatcher did shock them. But the deep corrosion of a nation is hard to reverse: England to itself rests anything but true.
© Copyright 2013 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved. 

Of Lunatics and Asylums: Boudin at Columbia

We tell ourselves, we parents of college-bound kids (not to mention other ordinary citizens), that American campuses really aren’t as bad as all that, that students can avoid the most tendentious indoctrinators, and that the press tends to exaggerate. And then we read headlines like “Kathy Boudin Teaching at Columbia” and sharp reality once again punctures the comfortable cushion of denial.

I’m not speaking personally, because I’m among the hyper-vigilant and politically obsessed. I read the newsletters of the National Association of Scholars, a group of academics who bravely battle campus attempts to suppress free speech and free inquiry. I scan the press for news of academia. But most Americans, I’d guess, while knowing that college faculties are dominated by liberals, don’t realize quite how extreme or how deeply corrupt our campuses have become.

Consider the case of Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground, a left-wing domestic terror group. What kinds of gentle hijinks did the WU engage in? They bombed the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, and the Pentagon. They planned to detonate a bomb full of nails at a soldiers’ dance in Fort Dix, N.J. The bomb exploded prematurely in a New York townhouse.

In 1981, Boudin was at the wheel of the getaway vehicle when the WU held up a Brinks truck and stole $1.6 million. Her colleagues killed the driver and gravely wounded another guard in the course of the robbery. When the U-Haul truck Boudin was driving was stopped by police, Boudin got out of the cab with her hands up and urged the police to lower their weapons. When they did, six of her heavily armed accomplices jumped out of the back of the truck and gunned down two of the officers.

Boudin, a cradle Communist (her father was Fidel Castro’s lawyer, her uncle was I. F. Stone), was 38 at the time of the Brinks attack — not a youth. She spent the next 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony murder and she is now an adjunct professor of social work at Columbia University.

Just imagine if someone who had driven the getaway car for a group that attacked and killed an abortion doctor had been offered a place at the Heritage Foundation or Hillsdale College. Of course, you cannot imagine that, because such a person would be irredeemably tainted in the eyes of Heritage and Hillsdale. But supposing such a hire were possible, can you imagine the outcry?

For celebrated academic institutions, a history of terror and murder is no bar to prestige and employment. Bill Ayers was a “distinguished professor of education” at the University of Illinois. His wife, Bernardine Dohrn (who said of the Manson killings, “First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the pig Tate’s stomach! Wild!”) was appointed adjunct professor of law at Northwestern.

From the great halls of our finest universities there is a reverberating silence about Columbia’s decision to hire and thereby to honor a murderer, a terrorist, and an enemy of the United States who has never expressed remorse.

The five-member Orangetown, N.Y., town board passed a resolution condemning Columbia and calling upon its “neighbor” to sever all ties with the woman who was responsible for the deaths of three men. The nephew of one of the murdered officers told the New York Post, “It’s easy to forget that . . . nine children grew up without their dads because of her actions.” Very easy, especially for leftist academics. Veterans of the Weather Underground have a better track record of getting employment at leading universities than do supporters of Mitt Romney.

Each year on October 20, the anniversary of the Brinks robbery, the police in Nyack, N.Y., hold a memorial service. The ceremony is attended by survivors, family members of those who were killed, and local, state, and federal law-enforcement officials. A small scholarship has been endowed to honor policemen Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown.

It’s a disgrace that only the police and the families of the deceased seem to honor their memories. One of America’s great universities has not just forgotten, it has spit on their graves.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why they hated Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, RIP
Posted By Roger Kimball On April 11, 2013 @ 4:34 am In Uncategorized | 15 Comments
I have been out of town in a semi-secure, undisclosed location and have not had occasion to weigh in on the death of Margaret Thatcher.  I happened to be with some close friends of hers when the news came, so I’ve been kept abreast of the currents of opinion.  Much of the commentary, as was fitting for so great and dynamic a political leader, has been celebratory and reverential. Margaret Thatcher was the woman who reclaimed Britain for itself, who put an end to the squalid deprivations of post-war austerity, and who with Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, helped face down the hideous evil of Soviet Communism. (On this latter, see John O’Sullivan’s magisterial The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World [1].) She understood, as few other contemporary leaders have understood, the fructifying symbiotic relationship between free markets and free men.
It’s something that is beyond the ken of many beneficiaries of the mighty cornucopia of capitalism. This melancholy fact was instantly brought home to me by the outpouring of sweaty hatred from the mephitic swamps of leftist animus. Over at NRO, Andrew Johnson aggregated a few early specimens [2]: “Thatcher is dead, but unfortunately Thatcherism lives on. Let’s bury it with her.” From George Galloway: “Tramp the dirt down.” Ted Rall: “Goodbye, Maggie, and good riddance. Along with Reagan, Thatcher destroyed the safety net and the social contract in the West.” Donna Brazile: “Okay, what did the #ironlady [3] do to advance Great Britain and the world? Did she leave lasting footprints for women in politics?” Et very much cetera.
Such spiteful, squamous yammering was partly repellent, partly embarrassing. It was more than counterbalanced, however, but the cataract of grateful remembrance and insightful commentary from those who understood the dimensions of Thatcher’s benefactions. One of the best early commentaries was “Thatcher Was Right, the Left Was Wrong [4],” Kevin Williamson’s brief intervention, also at NRO. Kevin dilates particularly on Thatcher’s brilliant deployment of good humored intelligence in her many spirited clashes with her ideological opponents: “she seemed to be having so much fun,” Kevin noted.
That, I think, is what they never forgave her for. Thatcher laughed at them, mocked them, outwitted and out-debated them. That infuriated the Left: Conservatives aren’t supposed to mock, they are supposed to be mocked. They might be allowed to win a few elections, but they could never be allowed to win the argument, much less to scoff at liberals’ public pieties.
Thatcher won, in no small part because she was her own best case. Her confidence, prudence, good humor, and other virtues were those she sought to encourage in her fellow countrymen.
Exactly so. And Kevin is also right when he goes on to observe that there is a sense in which “we should be grateful to the odious likes of Ted Rall and Donna Brazile.”
As the treacly and insincere tributes from the likes of Barack Obama roll in, we should remember: They hated Margaret Thatcher. Hated her. Reviled her. Hated everything she stood for. Still do. So I do not really want to hear any tributes to her from the left side of the political aisle today. If you were not around at the time, it will be hard for you to appreciate the vulgarity and the cruelty of the attacks to which she was subjected. They hated her for the same reason they hated Reagan: She aimed to defeat socialism abroad and socialism at home, appreciating the structural continuity between domestic socialism and the idea’s full expression under the Soviets.
Indeed. And this is where the passing of Lady Thatcher intersects with contemporary political reality. She won the battle she fought against the totalitarian temptation, but it is a battle that is renewed in every generation. Experience has not  been a successful teacher where the folly of murderous utopia is concerned. We’ve seen the gulags, the poverty, the immiseration, but we continue to embrace the “spread-the-wealth-around” policies that lead there like a superhighway.
That is one reason the example of leaders like Reagan and Thatcher are so uplifting: they show us that victory, if inevitably temporary in this fallen, sublunary world, is nontheless possible. They remind us, as Kevin notes, that “Those who opposed her and reviled her were on the wrong side of the most important question of their age, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with tyrants, many of them as guilty as those who manned the gulag watchtowers. And even today, when they make their pilgrimages to sit at the feet of Castro or bury Ch├ívez, when they put leftist terrorists on their payrolls, they know: They lost. What they do not know, because they are incapable of understanding the fact, is that they deserved to lose. We should not allow them to pretend that they were on the right side all along.”

Article printed from Roger’s Rules:
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URLs in this post:
[1] The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World:
[2] Andrew Johnson aggregated a few early specimens:
[3] #ironlady:
[4] Thatcher Was Right, the Left Was Wrong:

What the New Atheists Ignore


What the New Atheists Ignore

We’d be a hell of a lot worse off without religious do-gooders.
I long ago lost interest in the God Wars, the bombastic clashes between Christians and the New Atheists over whether the Man Upstairs exists, whether He is good or evil, whether Judeo-Christianity has been a blessing or a curse. Put simply, whether Christopher Hitchens is resting in peace or roasting on a spit.
Today, when I hear snide comments from atheists – who often assume I too am an unbeliever because my knuckles do not drag the ground – I spontaneously slip into Defender of the Faith mode. I wait patiently while he (for it is almost always a he) rants about the Inquisition, the trial of Galileo, the pedophile priest scandals, the pope’s silence during the Holocaust, and a thousand years of Jewish pogroms. I don’t deny that over the past two thousand years some who have called themselves Christians — from archbishops to church secretaries — have behaved sinfully. All of that is well documented. And if that were the end of it I too would smugly slap a Darwin fish on my pickup truck.
Only there is more to the story.
A lot more, and all of it seems to be conveniently overlooked by the enemies of faith.
How, for instance, can one overlook the role faith communities have played in health care? In my city nearly all the hospitals are run by religious organizations like the St. Louis-based Franciscan Sisters of Mary, who operate 18 nonprofit hospitals in four states, partner with more than 40 rural hospitals, and run two nursing homes. The Mercy Health Ministry, also headquartered here, operates 28 hospitals throughout Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. (Fly-over states. Who cares, right?) Franciscan nuns also founded nearby St. Anthony’s Hospital, while the Jesuits run a local medical school whose doctors treat mostly inner-city patients. Nearly every local medical center, from Jewish Hospital to Missouri Baptist Hospital, has its roots in a religious denomination. On a more human scale there’s the local Knights of Columbus who raise money for cancer research, a local children’s hospital, and, in their spare time, Special Olympics.
Perhaps the largest provider of social service programs in our area is Catholic Charities. What do they do? What don’tthey do? Their programs provide shelter, counseling, and education to battered women, as well as treatment to women with addictions and mental illness. Their professional counseling agencies offer education and mental health services. There is day and residential treatment for troubled youth, including diagnosis, treatment, education, and healthcare. For families, Catholic Charities provides expectant parent counseling, and foster care, adoption, and residential services. Widows and widowers can attend grief support groups. The poor and homeless receive housing, food, jobs, mental health, and drug counseling and treatment. Free legal assistance, refugee services, housing assistance, and homeless prevention is available to individuals and families in need.
SPEAKING OF THE HOMELESS, the New Life Evangelistic Center, the Catholic archdiocese, and the Centenary United Methodist Church sponsor drop-in centers for the homeless, while the St. Vincent de Paul Society operates several nonprofit thrift stores and provides assistance with furniture, food, clothing, rent, utilities, and transportation. Less than a block from my home sits the Franciscan Connection, which provides emergency assistance to low-income families. Meanwhile the Sisters of Divine Providence offer emergency shelter and a stabilizing support system to women and families in need. Last, the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis’ social services and charity fund has served the needy for more than 30 years. 
It’s well known that the only schools that work in St. Louis are the religious ones. Remove the Catholic, Lutheran, and Christian schools from the equation and the dark soul of the night just got a lot gloomier. What’s more, these schools provide tuition assistance for low-income families. As for higher education, all religiously affiliated colleges have faith-based student service organizations, mandatory community volunteer hours, even free legal and health clinics.
For the elderly, the South Grand Senior Ministry, of which my parish is a member, provides exercise classes, day trips, home repair, yard work, and transportation to medical centers or religious services. Cardinal Ritter Senior Services and Lutheran Senior Services are just two of many church-based organizations that provide retirement housing and support. 
Family services are widely available. Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, Bethany Christian Services, Jewish Children and Family Services, and Christian Family Services are just a few of the nonprofit religious groups that aid families, children, and individuals by providing adoption, counseling, education, and other resources.
I am only scratching the surface. And that doesn’t include any of the hundreds of national or international aid efforts.
In addition to their good works, churches, parishes, and their service groups often provide the only community left in big cities or sprawling commutervilles. From quilting bees to fish fries, churches are about the only place left where Americans can feel a real sense of belonging.
I am still waiting for a single atheist group to open a hospital or school, offer free health clinics, beds for the homeless, food for the hungry, or transportation for the elderly. I have yet to see worshipers of the flying spaghetti monster establish a prison ministry or send their members overseas to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
Personally, when it comes to belief in the supernatural I am a bit of a skeptic. But there’s one thing I am certain of: the world would be a hell of a lot worse off without religious do-gooders.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia Abortion Clinic Horror

We've forgotten what belongs on Page One.

By Kirsten Powers
USA Today
April 11, 2013

Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A childscreaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven't heard about these sickening accusations?
It's not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell's former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart.
NBC-10 Philadelphia reported that, Stephen Massof, a former Gosnell worker, "described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, 'literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body." One former worker, Adrienne Moton, testified that Gosnell taught her his "snipping" technique to use on infants born alive.
Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified "It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place." Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: "Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic."
"Chaos" isn't really the story here. Butchering babies that were already born and were older than the state's 24-week limit for abortions is the story. There is a reason the late Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called this procedure infanticide.
Planned Parenthood recently claimed that the possibility of infants surviving late-term abortions was "highly unusual." The Gosnell case suggests otherwise.
Regardless of such quibbles, about whether Gosnell was killing the infants one second after they left the womb instead of partially inside or completely inside the womb — as in a routine late-term abortion — is merely a matter of geography. That one is murder and the other is a legal procedure is morally irreconcilable.
A Lexis-Nexis search shows none of the news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months. The exception is when Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan hijacked a segment onMeet the Press meant to foment outrage over an anti-abortion rights law in some backward red state.
The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial andThe New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial's first day. They've been silent ever since, despite headline-worthy testimony.
Let me state the obvious. This should be front page news. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, there was non-stop media hysteria. The venerable NBC Nightly News' Brian Williams intoned, "A firestorm of outrage from women after a crude tirade from Rush Limbaugh," as he teased a segment on the brouhaha. Yet, accusations of babies having their heads severed — a major human rights story if there ever was one — doesn't make the cut.
You don't have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being "pro-choice" or "pro-life." It's about basic human rights.
The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.
Kirsten Powers is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors, a Fox Newspolitical analyst and columnist for The Daily Beast.

Liberals go crazy for the mentally ill

By Ann Coulter
April 10, 2013

Obama has been draping himself in families of the children murdered in Newtown.

MSNBC's Martin Bashir suggested that Republican senators need to have a member of their families killed for them to support the Democrats' gun proposals. (Let's start with Meghan McCain!)

In a bizarre version of "A Christmas Carol," CNN's Carol Costello fantasized about "a mother who lost her child," showing up and knocking on Sen. Rand Paul's door, saying, "Please don't do this!"

The victims of gun violence are the left's latest "human shields" -- a term coined by me in Godless: The Church of Liberalism
-- for their idiotic ideas. At least it's not the godawful Jersey Girls this time.

The one clear thread that unites all the mass murders currently being exploited by the Democrats is that they were committed by visibly crazy people who were unaccountably not institutionalized. But Democrats refuse to do anything about crazy people. Apparently, the views of families with relatives murdered by severely disturbed individuals are no longer relevant when it comes to institutionalizing the mentally ill.

If liberals had a decent argument for taking guns away from the law-abiding while doing nothing to prevent schizophrenics from getting guns, they'd make it. Manifestly, they don't, so they send out victims to make the argument for them, knowing no one will argue with a person whose child has just been murdered.

This allows liberals to act as if Republicans' only counter-argument to their idiotic gun control proposals is: We don't mind dead children.

The truth is the opposite. Republicans are pushing policies that will reduce gun violence; Democrats are pushing policies that will increase gun violence.

All the actual evidence -- mountains of it, in peer-reviewed studies by highly respected economists and criminologists and endlessly retested -- shows that limits on magazine capacity, background checks and assault weapons bans will accomplish nothing. Only one policy has been shown to dramatically reduce multiple public shootings: concealed-carry laws.

Unfortunately, there are no similar studies on the effect of involuntary commitment laws for the mentally deranged because no such laws exist anymore and therefore can't be tested. But we do know that the number of mass public shootings has ballooned since crazy people were thrown out of mental institutions in the 1970s.

For most of the 20th century, from 1900 to 1970, there was an average of four mass public shootings per decade. Throughout the '70s, as the loony bins were being emptied, the average number of mass shootings suddenly shot up to 13. In the 3.3 decades since 1980, after all the mental institutions had been turned into condos, mass shootings skyrocketed to 36 on average per decade.

Mass shootings don't correlate with gun ownership; they correlate with not locking up schizophrenics.

Mental illness was blindingly clear in the case of Seung-Hui Cho, who committed mass murder at Virginia Tech. Jared Loughner showed signs of schizophrenia for at least five years before he shot up the Tucson shopping mall. James Holmes was being treated for mental illness long before his massacre at the Aurora movie theater. It was clear to Adam Lanza's mother -- nearly the only person who had contact with him -- that he was mentally disturbed and had violent fantasies. (Three-quarters of matricides are committed by the mentally ill.)

We can add paranoid schizophrenic One L. Goh, who committed a mass murder at a Christian college in California last year, and the Muslim Army major, Nidal Hasan, known to be crazier than an MSNBC host, who killed 13 and injured 30 in a "gun-free" area of the Fort Hood Army base a couple years ago. For hundreds more examples of the mentally ill committing murder, read E. Fuller Torrey's book, The Insanity Offense: How America's Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens.

But Democrats simply will not address the one thing that is screaming out from all of these mass murders, which is that they were committed by crazy people.

As soon as the issue of mental illness came up at a Senate hearing on gun violence in January, Sen. Al Franken leapt in to say: "I want to be careful here -- that we don't stigmatize mental illness. The vast majority of people with mental illness are no more violent than the rest of the population."

Liberals at and The Huffington Post hailed Franken for his sensitivity. Can we check with the families of the children murdered by crazy people on the danger of "stigmatizing" the mentally ill?

Contrary to Franken's claim, some of the mentally ill are far more likely to be violent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, schizophrenics and similarly disturbed individuals are three times more likely to commit a violent crime than others.

The mentally ill are also more likely to be the victims of violence. Ask the sisters of the crazy homeless woman "Billie Boggs" how grateful they were to the ACLU for keeping Boggs out on the street.

Meanwhile, the only target of Democrats' gun proposals -- legal gun owners -- are less likely to commit violent crimes than others. To the contrary, armed civilians justifiably kill about 1,500-2,800 felons a year, compared to 300-600 legal killings by the police. Responsible armed citizens protecting us from violent criminals should be subsidized rather than taxed and harassed.

After five mass shootings by deranged lunatics, even liberals know that the only policy -- apart from concealed-carry laws -- that might have stopped these shootings are laws permitting the institutionalization of the mentally ill.

That's why they keep claiming their gun bills address mental illness. Warning: Read the bill. You will find nothing in any of the Democrats' "gun safety" proposals that will make it easier to commit a crazy person or to prevent him from buying a gun.

The Democrats' argument for doing absolutely nothing about the dangerously mentally ill, while disarming crime-preventing armed citizens is: Tell it to this weeping mother. If the Democrats' "gun safety" bill passes, there'll be plenty more weeping mothers to tell it to.