Saturday, February 02, 2019

The Party of Death, Out in the Open

February 1, 2019

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Governor Cuomo signs the Reproductive Health act into law on January 22, 2019

Safe, legal, and rare was a lie.
President Bill Clinton in 1996 told Americans abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” That was then. Now the cult of death, pro-abortion movement has taken over the Democratic Party whole-cloth, and the result is the infanticidal law passed in New York on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Now the party line has shifted to abortion on demand, paid for by taxpayers, at any time, even up until moments before birth: witness what just took place in New York state. The Empire State no more; New York is now the Abortion State.
The laws just signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo are as vile as they are expansive. New Yorkers are now legally able to end the life of their unborn child up until the moment of birth. In cases which threaten the health (even the mental health) of the mother or when the unborn child isn’t considered “viable,” a woman now has the right to have lethal injection performed on the child, ending its life just moments before it would enter the world.
And you don’t even need a doctor to conduct this abortion; New Yorkers can have physician assistants and even midwives perform some abortions. New York’s new abortion laws put it in the same class as China, Vietnam, and North Korea, where abortion is available at most any point.
The bad company in which New York now finds itself should speak to the immorality of this law. Just because people pass a law and make something “legal” doesn’t mean an action thereby becomes moral or ethical or right: slavery was legal, too. To hear the cheers on the floor of the New York Senate when the law passed must have been the same sound slave owners made when a new big shipment of fresh slaves came pulling into port or the cheers that echoed through the Reichstag with the passage of the Nuremberg Laws.
New York can legalize evil all day long, but it won’t change the brutal reality that a human child dies with every abortion. “Legality” didn’t justify the Nazis’ atrocities, nor did it legitimize institutionalized racism and slavery in America’s Antebellum South. Neither can it legitimize abortion on demand.
The singular William Wilberforce, when he spoke on the floor of the House of Commons over 200 years ago, pushing for the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire, said, “Policy is not my principle and I am not ashamed to say it. There is a principle above everything that is political and when I reflect on the command which says, ‘Thou shalt do no murder,’ believing that authority to be divine, how can I dare set up my reasonings of my own against it. And when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principle of justice and the laws of religion, and of God?”
There is no justice or rightness or goodness in what New York has done.
Horrifyingly, Vermont legislators are now looking to follow New York’s lead with an abortion bill that would loosen controls on abortion even further. The proposed constitutional amendment in Vermont would ban prosecution of  “any individual for inducing, performing, or attempting to induce or perform the individual’s own abortion,” making it functionally impossible to stop someone from performing abortions at any stage of pregnancy for any reason. Moreover, Democrats in the state of Virginia are brazenly proposing legislation to have abortions up until the moment of birth, their governor having suggested in a radio interview that it is no big deal. Rhode Island and New Mexico Democrats are making similar moves.
It’s almost as though Democrats are channeling Mengele and Molech.
There are terms for what they are proposing, including butchery, infanticide, and murder. In a normal society, people who proposed such barbarism would be ostracized and yet Democrats openly celebrate these politicians as heroes and champions. They are not just tolerated, they are embraced by one of the major political parties in the United States.
To add further to the sickness of it it all, some of these same people, no doubt would be horrified by the killings of kittens or puppies or baby sea turtles, yet with a straight face and acting as though it’s perfectly normal they propose killing a human baby right at the moment of birth.
There is nothing normal about any of this and, in a very personal way, this is all quite horrific. There are moments in life you never forget and for me, the moment my daughter was born at 24 weeks is one of those. This little one pound, seven-ounce, 12-inch long baby girl, shortly after she was born, took my forefinger into her hand. Her skin was like tissue paper, her eyes still sealed shut; her little hand, with its perfectly formed fingernails, was so tiny it couldn’t even fit around my finger. I just stood there by her isolette, watching her, torn by grief, wanting to lay down and take her place, praying, hoping: It was clear that this tiny human being wanted to live. Of course, she could not speak these words but she was fighting. After four months in the NICU, she came home to us. She just turned 11 a few months ago.
My daughter’s survival and her beautiful life showed me clearly that the pro-abortion lobby is on the wrong side of literally everything, including science. Now, children like my daughter are born earlier and earlier. Doctors are able to save babies in even more desperate conditions at even earlier weeks of the pregnancy. Eventually, we might see a time when an unborn child is viable at extremely early stages of the pregnancy. At some point, abortion advocates must come to terms with the obvious implications of their actions: they are killing human beings. Period. As slavery is a horrifying blot on our history, for which we paid dearly with hundreds of thousands of lives, so too abortion on demand is to the utter shame of this great nation. The Left will not let us forget the stain of slavery, but what has it learned from it?
In light of what New York has done, and what other states are proposing, it is time for the Senate and House to take up the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that would ensure that abortions cannot be performed 20 weeks after fertilization. There are literally only seven countries in the entire world that allow these late-term elective abortions: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. This should horrify every American with a conscience.
But clearly, it doesn’t.
On the day he signed the bill into law, Cuomo ordered the lights of World Trade Center One changed pink to commemorate the passage of the bill. Cuomo should have had them colored red for the blood on the hands of New York state for all the innocent children who will lose their lives.
Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Too Fearful of Man to be Fearful of God

January 31, 2019

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Andrew Cuomo in 2016.

Of the many memorable scenes and sequences from the film, “Casablanca¸ one that stands out for both its subtlety and its continuing resonance comes when the Bulgarian Bride—her name is Annina Brandel in the script—sits down with Rick Blaine and asks for some very important advice. Let’s watch the scene first before discussing it:

The young woman, played by Joy Page, wants to know whether she can trust Captain Renault to deliver exit visas for her and her husband, Jan, if she sleeps with him. She poses her question to Rick as a hypothetical, but we know the central moral issue of her query cuts deep: it’s basically the same choice Rick’s lost love, Ilsa Lund, made when she left him standing the rain in Paris at the train station in order to rejoin her husband. She doesn’t know that, of course; when Rick abruptly excuses himself, she has no idea that he’s going to rig the roulette wheel in Jan’s favor in order for them to win enough money to afford the visas and then get the hell out of North Africa for America.
It’s a quandary to which we can all relate. One of her lines of dialogue, however, has an especially timely meaning: “The Devil has the people by the throat.” In the context of the film, the Devil is Hitler and the Nazis; the Brandels were lucky to escape with their lives. Today, the Devil is much closer to home. I’m speaking, of course, about the recent “Reproductive Health Act” passed by the New York State legislature and signed into law by a nominal Catholic governor, Andrew Cuomo. It is the greatest moral disgrace in American history and, if we don’t stop it, it’s just the beginning of what Ramesh Ponnuru has called, correctly, “the infanticide craze.”
In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that makes abortion legal, even after the unborn child is viable, so long as the abortionist makes a “reasonable and good-faith judgment” that abortion will protect the pregnant woman’s health. In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo has pledged to sign legislation that also makes abortion legal after viability to “preserve . . . health.” In Virginia, state legislator Kathy Tran has introduced legislation that would, she has explained, make abortion legal even at term and in the middle of birth. Governor Ralph Northam supports that legislation.
Does he ever: “When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way,” Northam said on WTOP radio in Washington. “And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion.”
Northam, of course, is a Democrat; a member of a criminal organization masquerading as the political party of slavery, segregation, secularism, socialism and sedition. If there is any meaningful distinction between his sentiments (for which he was roundly roasted by decent Americans) and those of any national-socialist murderer—other than perhaps his assurance that the victim would be “kept comfortable”—I would like to hear them.
Let’s be clear: the Empire State’s new law, and the one proposed but luckily so far tabled in Virginia, where it never got out of committee, has nothing to do either with reproduction or health. In fact, diabolically, it is the exact opposite. For it is meant to allow what amounts to infanticide right up to the moment of birth, thus preventing reproduction, and it has little or nothing to do with a woman’s “health”—unless you, like the Democrats, define pregnancy as a disease.
Shamefully, the New York legislature erupted in cheers when the bill passed, and the governor—his sainted father, Mario, was an unctuous phony, but Andrew is the real thuggish deal—said, “this is a victory for all New Yorkers” and ordered the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan to glow pink in the celebration of homicidal “feminism’s” latest burnt offering to Baal and Moloch.
The Devil has the people by the throat, indeed. And a pussy hat on his horns.
Meanwhile, those who actually are in the business of devil-fighting, instead of devil-worshipping, are AWOL. That would be the Catholic Church (the rest of the Christian sects are too far gone to care, or care about), in the form of the Irishman, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and the Argentine-born Italian pope, Francis. If any single public figure has richly earned public excommunication from the Church, Andrew Cuomo is him. And yet, where are Francis and Cardinal Dolan?
It’s been a rough time for faithful Catholics recently in our state government’s frantic rush for “progressive” ideas.
I’m thinking first of the ghoulish radical abortion-expansion law, which allows for an abortion right up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survives the scissors, scalpel, saline and dismemberment, to die before his eyes; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and might even be used to suppress the conscience rights of health care professionals not to assist in the grisly procedures. All this in a state that already had the most permissive abortion laws in the country.
Those who once told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal and rare now have made it dangerous, imposed and frequent.
So, what are you going to do about it, Your Eminence? Nothing: “Notable canon lawyers have said that, under canon law, excommunication is not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion,” he said in a statement.
This is not only wrong, it’s cowardly, which is what we’ve come to expect from the American bishops, who have been so busy trying to bury their gay clergy scandal without getting the hems of their skirts dirty that—since many of them have no skin in the game in more ways than one—they don’t have time for matters of faith and morals any more.
As I’ve often asked, what would Dagger John do?
In 1844, faced with a Nativist threat to burn down St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (at Prince and Mott streets), John J. Hughes, the Irish-born bishop (and later first archbishop) of New York, gathered several thousand of his mostly Irish parishioners and deployed them around the church. Any attack on the cathedral, warned the man known as “Dagger John,” would be repulsed with force. The Nativists backed down.
During the Civil War, Hughes undertook a secret mission to Europe at the personal request of Abraham Lincoln, to rally support for the Union cause and keep Britain from entering the war on the side of the Confederacy. This he did in part by explaining the facts of life to the English: that they’d have no luck in raising troops in restive, famine-stricken Ireland to fight against America, and a great deal of trouble if they tried.
Those were the days of the two-fisted Irish clergy, who understood their dual American roles as both the spiritual leaders of their people and—when necessary—political figures as well. But those days are long gone (Cardinal O’Connor was the last of the line).
In other words, Archbishop Dolan and his confreres ought to ask themselves, What Would Dagger John Do? No need for mobs this time, just morals. But if they’re not going to vigorously defend their own faith, in a Church Militant sort of way, who will? 
I wrote that in 2012, when the public threat to private morals came from another notional Catholic, Kathleen Sebelius, implementing Obamacare’s mandatory birth-control coverage at government gunpoint. Over the next two years, I wrote three more articles in this series, concluding with this:
So I’ll tell you what Dagger John would do. (For more on Dagger John Hughes, please consult the first three articles in this series herehere, and here.) He would simply refuse to comply no matter how the courts rule, announce that no Catholic institution will either obey the mandate or pay the fines, stand on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and dare Eric Holder to arrest him in front of every TV camera in New York City.
With just a few changes of words, the same sentiment could and should be expressed today:
Can you imagine what John Cardinal O'Connor would have said publicly to @NYGovCuomo? He would have berated and condemned him from the steps of St. Patrick's before every TV camera in New York City.
Ah, but the Dagger Johns of the Church Militant are long gone, and in their place have come the mincing social-justice warriors in cassocks and mitres, too fearful of man to be fearful of God, false to their faith and false to their mission. Andrew Cuomo and his gloating, murderous, ilk are bad enough, but these whited sepulchers are even worse, because they know better and don’t care.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
That’s Jesus talking, not me. The hell with them all.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

An American Nightmare

By Judge Andrew Napolitano
January 31, 2019

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Roger Stone outside of the courthouse in Ft. Lauderdale. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Last Friday, on a quiet residential street at 6 in the morning, the neighborhood exploded in light, noise and terror. Seventeen SUVs and two armored vehicles arrived in front of one house. Each vehicle had sirens blaring and lights flashing. The house, which abutted a canal, was soon surrounded by 29 government agents, each wearing military garb, each carrying a handgun and most carrying high-powered automatic rifles.

In the canal were two amphibious watercraft, out of which more heavily armed government agents came. Circling above all this was a helicopter equipped with long-range precision weaponry and high-powered spotlights.

Four agents approached the front door to the house. Two held a battering ram, and two pointed their rifles at the door. One of the agents shouted and banged on the front door until the terrified owner of the house emerged, barefoot and wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He was greeted in the dark at his open front door by two rifle barrels aimed at his head.

This was not a movie set; it was not a foreign city in a war zone; it was not the arrest of the Venezuelan opposition leader in Caracas. It was Middle America, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The agents worked for the FBI, and the target of this operation was not a drug kingpin or a terrorist operative or a kidnapper of babies. It was a peaceful American in his own home -- a political operative and longtime friend of President Donald Trump's, named Roger Stone.

Why were there more FBI agents sent to arrest Stone than Navy SEALs sent to kill Osama bin Laden? Why jackboots in the morning in America? Here is the back story.

Stone has been both a paid formal adviser and an unpaid informal adviser to Trump for 40 years. He was fired from Trump's presidential campaign during the summer of 2015, but he continued to work on his own to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Some of that help -- according to the government -- involved the release of embarrassing Clinton emails that had probably been hacked by Russian agents.

Last Thursday, one of special counsel Robert Mueller's grand juries indicted Stone on five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness intimidation and one count of obstruction of justice. His Gestapo-like arrest followed his indictment by just a few hours.

Stone was represented by counsel throughout the time of his testimony before Congress last year. He was the recipient of grand jury subpoenas for his text messages, his emails and other records -- all of which, through his counsel, he surrendered. He claims that when asked by members of the House Intelligence Committee about certain aspects of these, he innocently forgot about them. Who could remember each of 1 million texts and emails?

In the real world -- where the influence of politics into law enforcement is kept to a harmless minimum -- defense counsel is generally known to prosecutors throughout their investigation of a target. According to Stone, federal prosecutors have known for a year who his lawyers are. Also in the real world, when a defendant has been indicted for a nonviolent crime, has no criminal record and is not a flight risk or an imminent danger to society, prosecutors inform defense counsel of the indictment, send the defense counsel a copy of it and request the peaceful and dignified surrender of the indicted person.

In the current, unreal world -- where politics deeply infuse law enforcement -- prosecutors use brute force to send a message of terror to innocent defendants. Like all defendants at the time of arrest, Stone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

What message does brute force send? It is a message of terror, and it has no place in American life. As if to add embarrassment to terror, the feds may have tipped off CNN, which carried all this live in real time.

When I interviewed Stone on Fox Nation -- after a judge released him without requiring him to post bail -- he told me that he will not cave to this terror but he is willing to speak with the prosecutors. Stone wavered a bit when I pressed him on the nature and extent of any communication between his lawyers and Mueller's team and on the nature of any cooperation by him personally with Mueller. As a practical matter, his lawyers must communicate with Mueller's team to address the logistics of pretrial events, as well as their discovery of the evidence in the government's possession.

One item in the government's possession that is very problematic constitutionally is the transcript of the testimony Stone gave to the House Intelligence Committee, wherein the indictment accuses Stone of lying. Because that testimony is classified, Stone is not permitted to see it, and his lawyers -- who may view it only in a secret facility -- may not copy it.

How can they defend against these charges? How can it be that the government has a piece of paper that allegedly is proof of the crime charged and the defendant's lawyers may not copy it? Didn't the government waive the classified nature of this document by Stone's very presence at the hearing where the document was created? What remains of the constitutional guarantee of confronting one's accusers and challenging their evidence?

If Stone goes to trial, the soonest it could be held is early 2020 -- in the midst of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and 2 1/2 years after Mueller's appointment.

No innocent American merits the governmental treatment Stone received. It was the behavior of a police state where the laws are written to help the government achieve its ends, not to guarantee the freedom of the people -- and where police break the laws they are sworn to enforce. Regrettably, what happened to Roger Stone could happen to anyone.

Stone Arrest Exposes the Cancer Eating American Criminal Justice

January 30, 3019

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Last week’s arrest of Roger Stone at the behest of Special Counsel Robert Mueller incites me to recall Joseph Welch’s famous question of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you no decency?”

Sending 29 FBI agents in bullet-proof protective gear and brandishing submachine guns at 6 a.m. to the house where Stone—who is 66 and does not own a firearm—lives with his wife, two dogs, and three cats, to effect another shakedown arrest for alleged untruths uttered by Stone to a congressional committee since Mueller was installed in his totalitarian sinecure, was disgusting and un-American.
The charges could have been laid—and if there is the slightest truth to them, should have been laid—by contacting Stone’s lawyer during normal business hours and asking him to produce his client for charging and processing. So slight was the risk of flight (Stone claims his passport has expired), the judge set bail at an easily manageable (for him) $250,000, which was produced at once. The entire hideous procedure, as if Stone were a suspected violent criminal with vast resources, at the head of a heavily armed and dangerous organization, and in a home extensively guarded by armed and experienced gangsters and with a helicopter in the backyard, was an outrage that must shock every civilized American, as it astounds the civilized world.
There was absolutely no need or excuse for such an absurd and repulsive use of force in effecting the arrest of a man with no history of violence who is an improbable flight risk and certain to surrender quietly and respond to allegations against him through due process in the courts. Moreover, he is fully entitled to the constitutional presumption of innocence.
Media Collusion
This shock-and-awe extravaganza was leaked in advance to the chief media arm of the Democratic Party, CNN, (though MSNBC is a rival in rabid support of the enemies of the Trump regime). CNN’s unctuous claim that it was able to capture this pre-dawn thuggery thanks to the clever intuition of a reporter who could deploy a film crew to a Fort Lauderdale residence before dawn on a hunch is as wildly implausible as the rest of the network’s political “news” (which could be described better as a partisan screed of relentless fervor and acoustic, not to mention cognitive, irritation).
Mueller, a generally respected former head of the FBI, certainly knows his way around the minefields of Washington politics and legal IEDs. For him to sanction such a farcical and exaggerated arrest, assuring it would be filmed as if it were a patriotic mission on par with the courageous lads going ashore at D-Day or Iwo Jima, confirms unsettling impressions about Mueller’s mental stability. (I believe every other reasonable observer gave up on the raison d’etre and ostensible purpose of the special counsel’s investigation at least 18 months ago.)
People who might be vulnerable and have known—or claim to have known—the president are indicted for unrelated conduct and then browbeaten and threatened with indictments of their families, unbearable legal costs, and endless media smears to invent inculpatory testimony against the president, with a guarantee of immunity from prosecution for perjury. This is the standard playbook of American prosecutors. It has been denounced repeatedly and every informed person in the country knows about it, but nobody does or says anything consequential.
American criminal justice is a cancer and Robert Mueller and his acolytes, James Comey and Patrick Fitzgerald (Comey’s lawyer now but a former U.S. attorney), are eminent and eager carriers of the disease. Paul Manafort, even if he is a tax-cheat, deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for resisting Mueller’s sadistic isolation and persecution of him. Someday he and other resisters such as G. Gordon Liddy, who defied the Watergate railroading exercise, will be recognized as heroes of American justice.
An Endless Danse Macabre
No one disputes that the United States must have a system capable of addressing serious wrongdoing by politicians and their supporters, and the complete absence of such processes and personnel would endanger the integrity of the democratic process. Moreover, there is nothing officially to be done about the unwavering political bigotry of the national political media. Their sense of unease is understandable: Donald Trump has end-run them with the social media, knocking from their hands the lethal swords of political media assassination. He attacks them as unwaveringly, and a good deal more entertainingly, than they attack him. They do have, as do we all, some reason to worry at times about this president’s judgment, though there is no justification at all to question the legitimacy of his election or the legality of his conduct as candidate, president-elect, or president.
This danse macabre of the ludicrously numerous and over-armed FBI agents filmed by invitation by the CNN propaganda service in their strenuous exercise to frighten Roger Stone’s cats and dogs raises the questions of what Mueller and his entirely partisan Democratic lynch-mob, some of whose most prominent members have been exposed and disgraced and fired, think they are now doing.
Whenever the suggestion that it might be time to wind down this stupor-inducing affront to the Bill of Rights starts to get determinedly to its feet in full voice, Mueller vanishes from sight. He leaves it to the Trump-hating media to canvass members of Congress, always recruiting one of the politically endangered NeverTrump Republicans to provide the patina of bipartisanship with a cameo flirtation for public attention, to repeat the tired pieties that “We don’t know what we don’t know,” and “Let Bob Mueller finish his work.”
The fact is, after 30 months of this investigation we do have a pretty good idea of what we don’t know —that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and anyone in Russia, and that what Mueller has been doing for almost two years doesn’t meet the normal criteria for work. But these are not much mentioned.
The Wheels of Justice Grind Slowly
Depressing and monstrous though this entire ghastly burlesque of Madisonian public service and accountability has been, there are two young green shoots of hope.
Despite Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) pawing the ground and sounding the trumpets like the legendary warrior of Jericho about a deluge of subpoenas on the White House, they are no more effectual or even visible on the propaganda networks than when they were leaders of the minority on the House judiciary and intelligence committees.
Even better still, the Department of Justice has been emancipated from the official eunuch, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the 360-degree-conflicted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, joined at the hip with Robert Mueller through much of his public career.
The return to non-stop, wall-to-wall barracking of the president by former intelligence chiefs John Brennan and James Clapper this past week has made the point more delicious and mouth-watering: they both lied to Congress, as did Hillary Clinton and many other leading Trump-haters to federal officials. The House committees have no standing systematically to irritate the president. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and attorney general designate William Barr have promised to get to the bottom of the ant-hill of Democratic skullduggery and chicanery, and they will do it.
Mueller may torment formerly active Trump supporters, threaten their families, and produce droolingly narrated police raids. But they have all devoured the nothingburger. The impartial exposure, demolition, and—where appropriate—prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of those who, in their Trump-hating fanaticism, have debased national institutions will begin as the ability of Mueller, Brennan, and Clapper to distract the media ends. At least, as the whole correlation of legal and media forces changes, the Clintons, comparative professionals as they are, maintain a dignified discretion.
The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they still turn, and not in contemptible publicity stunts like the shaming arrest of Roger Stone (whether he is guilty of anything or not). Mueller’s answer to Mr. Welch’s question (like Senator McCarthy’s) is: Apparently not.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

America’s Opioid Crime Family

The Sacklers of Purdue Pharma helped create our drug crisis. Now they're finally facing some accountability.

January 30, 2019

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he devised campaigns that appealed directly to clinicians, placing splashy ads in medical journals and distributing literature to doctors’ offices. Seeing that physicians were most heavily influenced by their own peers, he enlisted prominent ones to endorse his products, and cited scientific studies (which were often underwritten by the pharmaceutical companies themselves).
Arthur Sackler, whose brothers Raymond and Mortimer owned Purdue Pharma, built a vast fortune selling Valium and Librium to treat anxiety. Valium especially became ubiquitous. Between 1969 and 1982, its sales outstripped those of any other prescription drug. In the film Starting Over from 1979, Burt Reynolds collapses while shopping, and, as the critic David Denby wrote, “sympathetic onlookers shower him with Valium, a blessing of bourgeois holy water.”
Many found real benefits to taking Valium. Like most drugs, however, it had the potential to be both healthful and harmful. Valium was liable to encourage dependency, which, combined with its sedative effects, impaired people’s daily lives. David Herzberg, in Happy Pills in America, makes an effective case that the subsequent “Valium Scare” was overheated. Valium was not comparable to heroin or other opioids. There were not thousands dying from “Mother’s Little Helper.” Yet it still had unpleasant effects for many of its users, and, more damagingly, the means by which Arthur Sackler marketed the drug to patients and clinicians set the standards by which future drugs would be promoted. Patrick Radden Keefe writes:
Sackler promoted Valium for such a wide range of uses that, in 1965, a physician writing in the journal Psychosomatics asked, “When do we not use this drug?” One campaign encouraged doctors to prescribe Valium to people with no psychiatric symptoms whatsoever: “For this kind of patient—with no demonstrable pathology—consider the usefulness of Valium.”
Arthur Sackler died in 1987, and eight years later his brothers and his nephew Richard released OxyContin, which they claimed was a miracle painkiller. Its release, Richard Sackler is alleged to have claimed, would be followed by “a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition.” Burying the competition, it seems, was a more powerful motivation than helping their fellow man.
OxyContin was hurried through the process of Food and Drug Administration approval. FDA examiner Curtis Wright, Sam Quinones reports in Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, was concerned about potential addictive qualities, but approved it nonetheless. Two years later, he was working for the Sacklers.
Richard Sackler had learned from his uncle. He promoted the drug through doctors. “Purdue pursued an ‘aggressive’ campaign to promote the use of opioids in general and OxyContin in particular,” wrote Art Van Dee, MD, in a paper titled “The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin.” “In 2001 alone, the company spent $200 million in an array of approaches to market and promote OxyContin.” Physicians, pharmacists, and nurses were invited to all-expenses-paid conferences and showered with gifts. Doctors who were less discriminate in their prescriptions were identified and targeted. The drug was marketed not just to people with acute and cancer-related pain but those suffering from conditions where, as Van Dee wrote, “benefits are much less clear.”
Meanwhile, Purdue Pharma minimized the risks of addiction. “Delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets, is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug,” claimed the label of OxyContin. There were two problems with that. First, this claim wasn’t based on good science, and second, the “delayed absorption” could be circumvented by crushing the pills, as the Sacklers would have known from their experience with previous drugs.
Doctors began to report that patients were becoming addicted to OxyContin, and Purdue had an answer. Doctor J. David Haddox, who worked with Purdue, had promoted the theory of “pseudoaddiction,” which suggested that what looked like addiction was really untreated pain. This was an excellent excuse to sell more drugs, though a paper from Marion Greene and Andrew Chambers found that it “has not been empirically verified.”
The truth soon began to emerge. In 2007, Purdue pled guilty to misleading the public about the addictive potential of OxyContin. The company, its president, its top lawyer, and its chief medical officer paid $634.5 million in fines. This was an impressive sum, to be sure, though observant readers will note that Purdue spent only three times less than that on marketing OxyContin in a single year, and has made tens of billions of dollars from selling the drug.
This month, a case was brought by the Massachusetts attorney general against Purdue. It alleges that the company wanted to sell OxyContin as an uncontrolled drug and had to be dissuaded by its own creator. Richard Sackler, it is claimed, constantly pushed his employees to increase profits and opposed attempts to regulate the drug more severely. “It’s [like] the Genovese family,” commented Patrick Radden Keefe. This seems unfair. The Genovese family, for all its faults, rarely killed anyone.
It is important to avoid two unhelpful responses. The first and most obvious is to demonize pain medication, without which a lot of people suffering from cancer and traumatic injuries would be in even greater distress. The second is to make Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers the sole villains behind the opioid crisis. Other drugs, like fentanyl and Xanax, have also led to thousands of deaths, and they are not created by Purdue.
In addition, making the Sacklers solely responsible would acquit a system in which doctors are easily exploited, in which regulations are painlessly bypassed, and in which millions of people seek a chemical crutch. It would be foolish to reduce a massive, systematic crisis to the evils of a few bad actors. We must seek the truth and hold Purdue Pharma to account, but we must also ask ourselves how they ended up so successful.
Ben Sixsmith is a British writer living in Poland who has written for Quillette, the Spectator USA, the Catholic HeraldPublic Discourse, and Unherd.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Today's Tune: Tift Merritt - Broken

The Progressive Race to the Bottom

By Victor Davis Hanson
January 29, 2019

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Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar
The old Democratic party championed the working classes, wanted secure borders to protect middle-class union wage earners, and focused generous federal entitlement help on the citizen poor. Civil rights were defined as equality of opportunity for all.
That party is long dead. An updated Hubert Humphrey or even Bill Clinton would not recognize any of the present “Democrats.”
Even the old wing of elite liberals is mostly long gone, with its talk of legal immigration only, opposition to censorship, pro-Israel foreign policy, let-it-hang-out Sixties indulgence, and free speech.
It was superseded by grim progressives who are not so much interested in a square, new, or fair deal for the middle classes, as an entirely different deal that redefines everything from the Bill of Rights and the very way we elect presidents and senators to an embrace of identity politics as its first principle.
Indeed, we are currently witnessing a quite strange series of North Korean–like reeducation confessionals, from repenting erstwhile liberals and now presidential hopefuls such as Joe Biden, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand. They and other would-be candidates parade before show cameras to apologize for their prior incorrect heresies, including their erstwhile support for drug laws, tough sentencing, and border enforcement.
The subtext of these charades is that 28-year-old socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (who won her Democratic primary with 15,897 votes and with that victory an assured congressional seat in a gerrymandered Democratic district) is the new Robespierre — warning that the earth as we know it will end in twelve years, ICE must be disbanded, all student debt abolished, wealth taxes levied, and Medicare provided for all. And her political guillotine awaits any progressive with lingering stains of the Ancien RĂ©gime.
Presidential elections are now to be seen by the Left not as the end of a four-year political cycle. Instead, they are the beginning of an any-means-necessary, existential effort to reverse the proverbial will of the people and to remove or delegitimize the president. From now on, if the Left loses, then everything is in theory on the table: seeking removal of the victor by warping the Electoral College vote; or suing under the Logan Act, the emoluments clause, or the 25th Amendment; or cherry-picking federal judges to block presidential orders; or using the Congress to impeach the president; or unleashing a special counsel for years of investigation.
In other words, we are in a revolutionary cycle in which the old idea of Democrat or liberal is being superseded by progressivism — and then going well beyond even that. The new generation of Democrats no longer resents “socialist” as a right-wing slur, and “Communist” may well go through the same rehabilitation.
The new, new Left questions not the operation of American democracy but the very premise of American democracy. When the selection of the Senate leads to something abhorrent like a counterrevolutionary majority, then the Founders are proven wrong after all, and senators should not be apportioned two to a state but by population at large. The Electoral College should be ended entirely, to reflect the reality that America is the urbanized corridors of the East and West Coasts where the right people live. The Bill of Rights, especially the First and Second Amendments, is considered an impediment to social justice.
What explains this accelerating transformation of so many liberals into progressives, and so many progressives into hard-core leftists, socialists, and who knows what next? The reasons predated Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Money, lots of it, matters.
The left-wing approach to billionaires has radically changed. Aside from the rhetorical boilerplate about robber barons and the need for an income-tax rate of 70 percent, in reality the hard Left has partnered with the nation’s richest. The new big fortunes of America are now mostly in high-tech, media, and finance, not in the old conservative and muscular corporations centered in farming, manufacturing, or oil and minerals. And the new zillionaires are left-wing, and they are activist: Bezos, Bloomberg, Buffett, Gates, Zuckerberg, the Google and Apple teams, Soros, Steyer, and a host of others. Through grants, foundations, purchased media, and super PACs, astronomical amounts of money flow into federal, state, and even local midterm election campaigns, and into voter harvesting and issues from global warming and late-term abortion to open borders, gun control, and identity politics. The 2018 midterms were a mere precursor of things to come.
The new mega-wealthy envision an America in a way that satisfies identity politics while exempting their own monopolies, trusts, and billion-dollar fortunes from the ramifications of their own ideology. Unencumbered by personal consequences, they pursue boutique agendas — sort of like a few of the White Russian aristocrats who hoped to continue on by subsidizing and supporting the Bolsheviks, or the Jacobin bigwigs of the French Revolution who thought they could guide the deserving rich people into the national razor. In such a bizarro world, there is nothing wrong with tech employees forced to sleep in their cars near Silicon Valley monopolies -— as long as the owners wear T-shirts and flip-flops and rail at Trump in internal memos.
The media are not just becoming left-wing (they’ve always has been); they’re no longer even a news-gathering operation. Reporting is synonymous with editorializing. Fake news — whether the latest BuzzFeed myth or the Covington charade — is simply a word for thirtysomethings who believe that they have a duty to promote race, class, and gender agendas that they were spoon-fed in college. They too often define accuracy as the higher Truth that transcends the fossilized idea of truth predicated on obsolete ideas such as evidence, facts, and empiricism.
In terms of electronic media, the way the news is delivered through Twitter, Facebook, and Google is itself massaged to censor, aggravate, and impede conservatives and conservative thought. Orwellian selective censorship, the warping of Internet searches, and the banning of political opponents insidiously magnify progressive influence, and to such a degree that leftists are now the biggest defenders of monopolies and trusts, given the power that accrues from them to progressive causes.
We are also reaping the fruits of the new university run by hard-core leftists who have indoctrinated a generation with progressive envy and anger, while offering them little education. The resulting ignorance and arrogance make a lethal combination. Professors now in their late sixties can remember old-fashioned liberals of the 1970s and 1980s whose politics were incidental to their professional expertise, but there is now almost no one left in the academy who recalls such dinosaurs.
Instead, after the early 1980s, now-tenured progressives sought to produce leftists who took over and produced socialists. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a valuable reminder of how university education results in self-importance coupled with witlessness.
The Obama presidency also proved a watershed. It convinced Democrats that a leftist could win and move the nation radically leftward (“fundamentally transforming the nation”) by executive orders, court decisions handed down by activist judges, and the force of popular culture. In a mere eight years, formerly debatable issues such as gay marriage, planet-threatening global warming, and transgenderism in the military became boilerplate requisites of Democratic politics. Obama moved the goal posts far to the left, to such a degree that leftists today now consider the left-wing Obamas almost quaint.
The new socialism is also attributable to ten years of anemic annual economic growth below 3 percent, massive student debt, open borders, changing demography, and radical new approaches to marriage and home ownership that have radicalized the younger electorate.
Young people have the patina of affluence, with an array of electronic appurtenances and lifestyle choices, but not so much else when it comes to finding good jobs, affordable homes, and freedom from debt — especially tragic when so many got so little from the university in exchange for their borrowed money.
As a result, millions of young people have redefined adulthood as prolonged adolescence in “Life of Julia” and “Pajama Boy” style. Urban hipsters, hook-up culture, childlessness, and studio apartments have replaced the traditions of marriage, child-rearing, and home ownership before 30. Among today’s youth, one’s twenties are consumed with student debt and urban sybarite singleness, not changing diapers and patching the roof or refinishing the kitchen table.
Republicanism itself has so often failed to offer a viable economic and culture alternative, as well as a muscular and combative defense of traditional American values and tradition — at a time when globalism rewarded winners and punished losers. At the national level, the top echelons of the Republican party reiterated country-club shibboleths like “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” and marginalized social conservatives and populists as near rubes who objected to the gospel of creative destruction.
Republicanism at the presidential level was caricatured as a silk-stocking, country-club cutout of the 1950s, even as its expanding base at the local and state level was working-class. But even more important, solid presidential candidates such as John McCain and Mitt Romney campaigned as Marquess of Queensberry Republicans, as if they would rather lose nobly than win ugly. And so they did just that — lose — whether by McCain’s ruling out reference to the virulent anti-Semite and racist Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s inspiration personal pastor, or by Mitt Romney’s allowing moderator Candy Crawley to hijack the second presidential debate and hand it to Obama.
Such laxity was not seen as magnanimity to be reciprocated, but rather as weakness deserving of contempt by the many voters who have no ideology other than wishing to be cool and on the winning side. Progressives brilliantly exploited the idea that a Republican blue blood would say or do almost anything — or sometimes say or do almost nothing — to avoid being libeled as a racist, sexist, homophobe, nativist, or xenophobe.

Mushy Republicanism also did its part in giving us the present-day hard Left and the likes of new congressional representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who apparently believe that anti-Semitism and racist demagoguery have lots of upsides and no real negative consequences. In the Covington farce, all too many conservatives jumped the gun to establish their liberal fides, perhaps out of fear that they’d otherwise be tagged by the Left as abettors of “white privilege.”
The bad news is that conservatives will likely increasingly be outnumbered, outspent, and out-organized unless they are shocked out of their somnolence. The quasi-good news is that the hard Left is unapologetic that it is the hard Left, not just bankrupt in its ideology in a world where socialism has demonstrably wrecked entire countries, but also predictably hypocritical and cynical, given that leftists are now really the party of the rich — and without much empathy for the deplorable and irredeemable middle classes.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.