Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee: The Forgotten Case against an American Icon

By Brian Matthew Jordan
May 2018

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In New Orleans, a sturdy column once capped by a bronze figure of Confederate General Robert E. Lee reaches into the sky. At the dawn of the 21st century, the empty pedestal offers a potent reminder of the enormous influence wielded by the Lost Cause; at the same time, it powerfully suggests that a long forestalled national reckoning with the realities of race, slavery, and the Civil War may finally be within reach.
Perhaps nothing demonstrated the unwillingness of Americans to come to terms with the bloody history of 1861–1865 so well as their veneration of Robert E. Lee. For decades (and without a sense of irony), northerners and southerners acclaimed the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia as an authentic national hero.
Throughout the 20th century, popular writers and academic historians alike assured that Lee obediently followed his beloved Old Dominion out of the Union, waged a righteous struggle on behalf of state’s rights and home rule, and then acquiesced to the numerical superiority of federal arms at Appomattox. After the conflict, the general allegedly championed sectional reconciliation and national healing without a whimper. Some accounts even rendered Lee a “proto-emancipationist”—or else suggested that slavery held out little charm for him.      
John Reeves’ new book, however, “tells the story of the forgotten legal and moral case that was made against the Confederate general in the days after the Civil War.” In his lively and accessible narrative, Reeves relates “the history Americans tried to forget.”       
In the wake of Lincoln’s assassination and amidst startling revelations of the atrocities at Andersonville prison, many northerners impatiently yearned to punish the leaders of the southern rebellion. One Unionist earnestly pleaded—presciently, as it turned out—that Confederate leaders should be “promptly tried,” lest “the North becomes humble flunkies to the pride of the South.”   
At first, Radical Republicans brimmed with confidence that justice would prevail. Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson pledged that he would “make treason odious.” Just three days after victorious Union soldiers strutted down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Grand Review, a Washington, D.C., court charged Jefferson Davis with treason. Then, on June 7, 1865, alongside three dozen ex-rebels, Robert E. Lee was indicted for treason in Judge John Underwood’s Norfolk, Virginia, courtroom.
Nonetheless, as the author relates in absorbing prose, a knot of legal, political, and cultural factors conspired against the successful prosecution of high-ranking Confederate authorities. By the time the legal preconditions for the trials were met, public anger receded, and the risk of empowering a jury to determine the legality of secession all too apparent. So it was that in February 1869, the federal government “vacated” its charges against Robert E. Lee.      
The failure of the government to deliver Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee to a gibbet provided the unfortunate illusion of “vindication.” But Reeves sets the record refreshingly straight. Robert E. Lee not only benefited from the institution of slavery, but also fought to preserve it. Even after the war, he refused to envision a biracial democracy. And Lee stalwartly maintained the chasteness of his motives—despite his prewar assertion that “secession” was an act of “revolution.”      
Though Reeves builds the case against Robert E. Lee, his most persuasive “indictment” is the one that he issues against American historical memory. Like Lee, we too have “found it essential to believe the war . . . [was about] something nobler than merely preserving the economic self-interest of a slaveholding aristocracy.” In effacing the stubborn truth that the Confederacy waged a treasonous rebellion on behalf of slavery and white supremacy, we have failed to intuit the war’s important lessons—or to take up its charge. “There was a right side and a wrong side in the late war,” Frederick Douglass once declared, “which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget."

Brian Matthew Jordan's most recent book is Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War (Liveright/W. W. Norton), a 2016 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He is a history professor at Sam Houston State University.

Mueller completely dropped the ball with obstruction punt

By Andrew C. McCarthy
April 18, 2019

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Robert Mueller, Donald Trump and William Barr

The most remarkable thing about special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report is how blithely the prosecutor reversed the burden of proof on the issue of obstruction.
To be sure, President Trump’s conduct outlined on this score isn’t flattering, to put it mildly. For example, the special counsel’s evidence includes indications that the president attempted to induce White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel (in June 2017), and then (in January 2018) to deny that the president had made the request.
Mueller’s report further suggests that the president dangled pardons. He made ingratiating comments about Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen when they appeared to be fighting the cases against them (and presumably fighting the prosecutor’s efforts to get them to cooperate) but then turned on Flynn and Cohen when they decided to plead guilty and provide testimony for Mueller.
On the other hand, there is evidence that cuts sharply against obstruction. The president could have shut down the investigation at any time, but he didn’t. He could have asserted executive privilege to deny the special counsel access to key White House witnesses, such as McGahn. To the contrary, numerous witnesses were made available voluntarily (there was no need to try to subpoena them to the grand jury), and well over a million documents were disclosed, including voluminous notes of meetings between the president and his White House counsel.
Most important, the special counsel found that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that the president’s frustration wasn’t over fear of guilt — the typical motivation for obstruction — but that the investigation was undermining his ability to govern the country. The existence of such a motive is a strong counter to evidence of a corrupt intent, critical because corrupt intent must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in an obstruction case.
In his report, Mueller didn’t resolve the issue. If he had been satisfied that there was no obstruction crime, he said, he would have so found. He claimed he wasn’t satisfied. Yet he was also not convinced that there was sufficient proof to charge. Therefore, he made no decision, leaving it to Attorney General William Barr to find that there was no obstruction.
This is unbecoming behavior for a prosecutor and an outrageous shifting of the burden of proof: The constitutional right of every American to force the government to prove a crime has been committed, rather than to have to prove his or her own innocence.
This is exactly why prosecutors should never speak publicly about the evidence uncovered in an investigation of someone who isn’t charged. The obligation of the prosecutor is to render a judgment about whether there is enough proof to charge a crime. If there is, the prosecutor indicts; if there is not, the prosecutor remains silent.
If special counsel Mueller believed there was an obstruction offense, he should have had the courage of his convictions and recommended charging the president. Since he wasn’t convinced there was enough evidence to charge, he should have said he wasn’t recommending charges. Period.
Anything else was — and is — a smear. Worse than that, it flouts the Constitution.
Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a contributing editor of National Review.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Off the Shelf: Good Friday

By Michael Brendan Dougherty
April 19, 2019

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By popular demand, after the birth of our third child, and nearing the birth of my own first book, it is time to return to writing a casual books column.
Sohrab Ahmari, the energetic opinion editor at the New York Post, has had enough ideological, physical, and religious journeys for three lifetimes. His memoir, From Fire, by Water (great title!), is the story of a precocious young man with a restless heart, and a story of Providence acting upon his conscience. The book is a conversion narrative, and like the best of this genre it is a love story.
Born in post-revolutionary Iran, Sohrab desired the freedom and quality of life promised by the West, a world he discovers through translated French comics, and American movies. He writes:
My native land smelled of dust mingled with stale rose-water. There was enjoyment in Iran and grandeur of a kind, to be sure. But when it wasn’t burning with ideological rage, it mainly offered mournful nostalgia. Those were its default modes, rage and nostalgia. I desired something more.
Or rather, he seemed to desire a democracy-whiskey-sexy version of the West. And in his boyhood he emigrates to conservative Mormon Utah, and finds himself embracing “the opposite extreme: a cantankerous, and equally facile, opposition to nearly everything about America and the West.” Underneath the surveillance of morality police, Ahmari wanted to be a free man of the West. Among the wholesome white-bread world of Utah Mormons, he becomes a Marxist and atheist. Readers who are historically attuned may recall with a laugh another Iranian who was educated in the West and radicalized by the experience, though in a different direction:
If one allows the infidels to continue playing their role of corrupters on Earth, their eventual moral punishment will be all the stronger. Thus, if we kill the infidels in order to put a stop to their [corrupting] activities, we have indeed done them a service. For their eventual punishment will be less. To allow the infidels to stay alive means to let them do more corrupting. [To kill them] is a surgical operation commanded by Allah the Creator.
Those are the words of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Although, in a sense, Ahmari’s teenager infatuation with Nietzsche and later Marx are not so far apart from the Ayatollah’s reaction. Each disdains bourgeois life in the West. I myself have been accused of the same disdain. But whereas I would seek to re-enchant life in the West — adding something that has been lately subtracted — a nihilist and revolutionary Islamist would seek to negate the modern world which is marked by phoniness, and compromise.
But there is a sternness to Marxism that can be unlovely, especially to one as aesthetically sensitive as Ahmari. And so our author passes through other phases and moods. He develops a fascination with a different, gentler mid-century rebellion, that of the Beatniks: Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.
I was as much fascinated by their dissolute lives as by their prose and verse. The Beats, it seemed to me, had transfigured their debauchery into an authentic style. Perhaps I could do the same.
It is a step back in some ways, back toward the democracy-whiskey-sexy version of the West. But with the beats, the pleasures of Western dissolution that once attracted him as a child are married to the kind of intellectual pose that attracted him as a rebellious teenage goth in Utah. And together they become an authentic “style.” While no one could confuse Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsburg as systematic thinkers, certainly not compared to doctrinaire Marxists, Ahmari’s attraction to these writers is a sign of his own maturing vision, one that desires to fully integrate the intellectual, the aesthetic, and the moral impulses. The problem was, Ahmari could admire Jack Kerouac when Kerouac was drunk. But he was disgusted with himself when he was drunk.
And conscience-striken young atheists can never be too careful about their reading says C. S. Lewis. One day Ahmari reads the Gospel of Matthew and finds his imagination and worldview arrested by the Passion narrative. And it is here that we see that From Fire, by Water combines lush stylish writing, intellectual clarity, and moral beauty into the story of a soul:
The persecution and killing of a Jewish man two thousand years earlier amounted to a speck of dust in the enormous heap of rubble kicked up by the dialectical storm. It was nothing next to the injustices suffered by multitudes who had toiled under various regimes of exploitation, only to perish unknown and unheralded. Or next to such marquee modern calamities as the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars. Next to Auschwitz and Hiroshima. (Never mind the many millions slaughtered by Marxist regimes.) The Marxist takes in the whole pile unflinchingly. He knows that history works in and through these tragedies, to bring each age to its fullness and prepare the way for the next. As Benjamin put it: “That which we call progress, is this storm.” And yet, my mind protested, here is one good man unjustly put to death—a man whose nobility is apparent even to his executioners (Mt 27:14).
The rest of Ahmari’s journey is too good to give away in a review. As in all good love stories, love is first attached to the wrong things. At first Ahmari loves the idea of personal liberation the West, then he loves a kind of image of himself, as a prophet denouncing the West, through Marxism. Later, as a writer for the Wall Street Journal in London, he returns to love of “the West” once again, as an ennobled political abstraction. Only in the end does he recognize in his longings a connection to his personal consciousness of sin. And we discover, as in all good conversion memoirs, that the author is the object of the story, and it was God who was the subject, in pursuit of his beloved.
Ahmari’s story, which results in him announcing his conversion to the world on the day that Fr. Jacques Hamel is unusual for being a beautiful spiritual memoir — a genre that lends itself to personal mythmaking and pious trash. Ahmari’s sins, like St. Augustine’s in the Confessions, may appear small. But it is the experience of an conscience convicting him of sin that suddenly and radically expands his worldview.
It is also revivifying to me to reflect on this memoir as Lent draws to a close. Ahmari is just a few years younger than I am, and he feels so intensely the shames and desires I once felt, shames and desires that seem to have dimmed in my own soul with the onset of middle age, and a year focused on achieving one of my own lifelong career ambitions.
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FR. Jean-Marc Fournier has been hailed a hero. Pic: Etienne Loraillère

And yet, Providence still finds a way to move the heart. Reading Ahmari’s book was like a providential breeze blowing over the embers of faith, and giving the fire a gust. And then came the story this week of another French priest, Fr. Jean-Marc Fournier. He went into Notre Dame cathedral as it was burning in the center of Paris and on millions of television, computer, and phone screens across the world.
Fr Fournier’s account is extraordinary:
As I was on duty, I was called on the scene, and right away two things must absolutely be done: save this unfathomable treasure that is the crown of thorns, and of course our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.
As I entered the cathedral, there was little smoke and almost no heat, but we had a vision of what hell may be: like waterfalls of fire pouring down from the openings in the roof, due to the downfall not only of the spire but also of other smaller debris in the choir. …
The time when the fire attacked the northern bell tower and we started to fear losing it, was exactly the time when I rescued the Blessed Sacrament. And I did not want to simply leave with Jesus: I took the opportunity to perform a Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.
Here I am completely alone in the cathedral, in the middle of burning debris falling down from the ceiling, I call upon Jesus to help us save His home.
I saw, as so many others did, my co-religionists in France — many of them likely backsliders, lukewarm, or in some way discouraged — suddenly moved to pray and to sing hymns to Our Lady in public. As one French intellectual put it, France may be secular, but here was saw the operation of a “Catholic muscle memory.”
And I will shortly participate in a liturgy — the Mass of the Presanctified. Next to me will be my four-year-old daughter. We both are acquiring the muscle memory of this recovered and ancient rite. And I will remember the first time I saw a man serving in the liturgy, fitted with a folded chasuble — made to look like a transfigured version of the Roman soldier, wearing his bandolier. Recognizing as Ahmari did, that the broken man being executed on the Cross truly is the son of God. And at that, the knee remembers to buckle.

Release of Mueller report finally sets Trump — and America — free

April 18, 2019
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Good God, free at last, free at last.
Donald Trump is now free to be president without the cloud that hovered over him since his election. No president ever faced, let alone survived, a probe as fierce and determined as this one.
Cleared of false charges that threatened to end his presidency, Trump can be forgiven for gloating and rubbing a little salt into the wounds of his tormentors with a jab about serving another “10 to 14 years.”
Naturally, the hysterics are hysterical over that one. They can’t even take a joke.
Yet Trump’s great victory is not his alone. The release of the special counsel report marks a day of freedom for all of America and sends shock waves around the world.
As Attorney General William Barr said, the finding by special counsel Robert Mueller that nobody in the United States knowingly helped Russia interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign “is something that all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed.”
Take that, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Deal with it, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. You should be celebrating the outcome, not denouncing it.
The reality was that, while Russia dangled the bait, no one from the Trump campaign or anyone else took it. Those findings stand as a refreshing testament to the character of our people and the sanctity of the election.
So hide your head in shame, Hillary Clinton. You started the false charge of collusion because you couldn’t accept defeat, and now your name will be synonymous with the most destructive hoax in American history.
But reaching this uplifting conclusion took 23 months and held the entire nation hostage for half a presidential term over the possibility that the president had conspired with a foreign power to steal the election, then illegally sought to hide the evidence.
The unprecedented accusations carried the horrifying possibility that the president was a traitor, a finding that would have been catastrophic for our country and its standing in the world.
Had any of the charges been true, the president would have been impeached, convicted and removed from office. He likely then would have faced criminal charges as a private citizen. There would be no pardon to a man of historic venality.
Such a traumatic experience could have driven a stake through the heart of American exceptionalism and killed the image of a shining city on a hill. The beacon to the world would have been seen as just another corrupt country, a laughingstock worthy of contempt.
On many days, fears of that outcome dominated the headlines, as when the media reported this or that development suggesting Trump’s goose was cooked. We now know those reports, nearly all based on anonymous sources, were wrong either in their facts or import.
Take that, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC.
By abandoning their standards, Big Media got the biggest story wrong and misled their readers and viewers — yet refuse to admit it. They are the true dead-enders, still searching for a thread to justify their jihad against Trump.
There were other ramifications, too. Members of Congress of both parties surely calculated the odds of Trump’s survival in deciding how to vote on tax cuts, the border and other matters.
Perhaps last year’s midterm election would have turned out differently if voters knew then what they know now.
Think how much of the stark polarization we see every day is ­owing to the lingering possibility that Trump might be an illegitimate president. Think how families and friendships have been torn asunder, how many heated arguments took place in offices and factory floors and classrooms over the prospect that a puppet of Vladimir Putin sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
To this day, many people who despise Trump can’t articulate why, other than that they believe the election was somehow tainted. They were 100 percent wrong.
The decent, fair-minded people among them will now concede their error.
And what of international affairs? There can be little doubt that both friends and adversaries gave consideration to the investigation when determining their relationship with the United States. They would be fools not to.
Did the probe affect China’s position on trade, or North Korea’s on nukes? You can be sure that Iran is not happy that Trump has been cleared. That tells us something.
We can’t know all the possible ramifications, but we don’t need to know them. The bottom line is ­settled.
The Mueller report, like the investigation itself, is exhaustive in chasing down every possibility that somebody, anybody, linked to the Trump campaign sold out America.
The probers put the screws, often unfairly, to tangential players on the chance that they would give up the president in exchange for leniency.
None did because they had nothing to give up.
Certainly Michael Cohen tried. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer made it his mission to bring down the man he had sworn to take a bullet for. Cohen, in a bid to save himself, switched sides and fired all his bullets at Trump, to no great effect.
Even Thursday he was still trying to sell his soul, but there were no takers. He begins his prison sentence next month.
In fairness, Trump does not escape the Mueller report unscathed. He apparently did lie to the press about whether he helped draft a statement on behalf of Donald Trump Jr., and media reports were correct that he wanted to fire Mueller and searched for ways to make it happen.
Yet the president who is notorious for churning through staff was lucky that some aides were brave enough to ignore disastrous orders. Former White House counsel Don McGahn refused to fire Mueller, and Trump was unsuccessful in getting others to do it, too.
Lucky for him. Had he gotten his way, Trump might be facing an ­obstruction charge.
Yet it must also be noted that not only was Trump innocent of collusion, and so had no corrupt reason to obstruct justice, but also fully cooperated with Mueller.
Not once did he assert executive privilege or try to stop anyone from testifying. Indeed, McGahn spent a remarkable 30 hours with Mueller’s team, with Trump’s approval. Clearly, the president believed he had done nothing wrong and had nothing to hide.
This is not the end of Russia, Russia, Russia. Democrats in Congress can’t let go because they have put all their eggs in the rotten basket. They will do all they can to delay the inevitable, but eventually must get back to governing instead of fetishizing impeachment — or they will find themselves in the ­political wilderness.
More important is the hope that the other side of the story will be investigated with the same intense scrutiny. America needs to know whether law enforcement and intelligence agencies under Barack Obama tried to tip the election to Clinton, then undermine Trump’s presidency.
Get a good lawyer, Jim Comey. You, too, John Brennan and James Clapper.
Much evidence already gathered says they are guilty, but we are far from a certain conclusion. Thankfully, Barr has pledged himself to the painstaking task of investigating the investigators.
So it matters not whether we are at the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end. All that matters is that, sooner or later, somehow or another, America gets the full, unbiased truth of what happened in 2016.
In this season of holidays, pray for that.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Michael Connelly talks about ‘Bosch’ seasons 5 and 6, his true crime podcast and his next novel
April 11, 2019

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When Season 5 of Amazon Prime Video’s longest-running series, Bosch, drops on April 19, fans will see Harry Bosch as they’ve never seen him before.
“This is something different,” Michael Connelly says, “Bosch with no badge.”
Connelly is the author of a series — 21 and counting — of international bestsellers about the Los Angeles homicide detective. He’s also deeply involved in the TV series as an executive producer and writer, splitting time between homes in L.A. and Tampa, and between the solitary practice of writing books and the collaborative process of making television.
In earlier seasons, Connelly says by phone from L.A., “we were mining earlier books” for the TV series’ plot arcs. “This time we jumped all the way forward” to the 2017 novel Two Kinds of Truth for the Season 5 story. (The first five episodes were released to reviewers.)
In the first scene of the opening episode, viewers will see a grubby and limping Bosch (played by Titus Welliver) climbing off a cargo plane with a group of dazed-looking street people. They’ve arrived in the middle of the night at a scruffy campsite of old trailers and school buses, guarded by armed thugs.
“We thought it worked well coming off of Season 4,” Connelly says of the scene. “Bosch had lost his former wife, who he still had a thing for, and he was teetering emotionally. People will wonder what happened” to get him to the camp.
Two Kinds of Truth, like all of Connelly’s books, weaves together complex strands of plot. Its main strands are a new case involving a violent ring of opioid dealers and an old murder case of Bosch’s that’s being reviewed because of new evidence, which could threaten his career.
The TV series also has, Connelly says, “a lot of added stuff.” One element is an expanded role for Bosch’s daughter, Maddie, played by Madison Lintz. “We knew we had a very good actress, and their relationship is kind of the center of everything.” He calls it “the empathic strike zone you want to hit. That relationship is the best thing in his life, but it’s also what makes him vulnerable.”
In the books, he says, the two have “mostly a texting relationship. That’s not going to work in the visual arts, so we have her living at home for the summer, with a job in the D.A.’s office.” That job will bring out Maddie’s own instinct for investigation, as well as Bosch’s worried-dad mode.
Another subplot involves Bosch’s longtime colleagues Detectives Moore and Johnson, a.k.a. Crate and Barrel (played by Gregory Scott Cummins and Troy Evans). The two are getting the retirement push by the brass, and they are not going quietly.
“These guys are national treasures,” Connelly says. “They always bring that element of humor. I thought having their jobs in jeopardy would build a tension.”
Mimi Rogers returns as high-powered lawyer Honey Chandler, whom Connelly calls “Bosch’s heretofore nemesis.” Bosch needs an attorney because of the reopened case. In the novel, his half brother Mickey Haller took the job.
“It’s a clash of art and commerce,” Connelly says. “We don’t have the (screen) rights to Mickey because of the movie.” The 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer was based on Connelly’s first novel about Haller. So Honey steps in, a twist she calls “too delicious.”
Sharp-eyed fans may also spot “my first official cameo,” Connelly says. “It’s kind of an Easter egg.”
With Season 5 about to drop, he’s already working on Season 6. “We just started the writers room.” The next season will be based mainly on his 2007 novel The Overlook, “with some updates. It was based on terrorism; now it involves domestic terrorism.”
There will also be some elements from Dark Sacred Night, the 2018 book that brought Bosch together with the author’s newest series character, Renée Ballard. She won’t appear in the series, Connelly says, “just Bosch’s side of the narrative.”
His latest venture is the podcast Murder Book. “It’s been fun and fulfilling,” he says, “a way of returning to my roots” as a crime reporter.
“I’m writing the scripts. There’s some journalism there, telling a true story.”
The true-crime podcast tells the story of a 30-year-old murder case, the death of a young man named Jade Clark during a carjacking. It includes witness and police interviews and trial audio, with Connelly as narrator.
“It was the perfect case for this, because it involves three detectives (Rick Jackson, Tim Marcia and Mitzi Roberts) who have been helping me with my books for years, who actually worked on the case. I hope it shows where I get my inspirations.”
Eleven episodes of the podcast are already available, with two more to come. “The prosecutor called it the never-ending case,” Connelly says. “The permutations go on and on.”
Before Season 6 of Bosch gets into high gear, Connelly is finishing his next novel. The Night Fire will be published on Oct. 22 and, like Dark Sacred Night, will alternate the narrative between Bosch and Ballard, with a role for Haller.
“My deadline is June,” Connelly says, “so I’m kind of burning the midnight candle.”
Contact Colette Bancroft at or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.
Watch it
Stream the new season of Bosch on Amazon Prime starting April 19.

Sports Writer Jeff Pearlman Compares Having More Than Two Kids To Tossing Garbage Into The Ocean

April 18, 2019

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Photo credit: Erik Isakson/Getty Images
Sports author and podcaster Jeff Pearlman casually floated the idea of population control on Twitter on Monday: “Just saw a Tweet from a guy I know, announcing how excited he and his wife are to be having child No. 6. Does there come a point when, in the name of earth’s survival and limited resources, we’re allowed to say, ‘Hmm. I dunno, man …'”
No, let’s not share in the joy of acquaintances who are blessing the world with another child. Let’s leverage our indubitable wisdom on climatology and public policy to proclaim “earth’s survival and limited resources” are at stake and question whether they are doing the responsible thing.
Oh, but he didn’t stop there. When a Twitter user named Lisa clapped back with, “As a mom of 6 kids, I’m gonna say no,” our erudite intellectual thoughtfully responded, “Serious Q, Lisa–why? Earth truly can’t sustain this. Not hypothetical, factual.” He then went on to say the estimable Jeff Pearlman-approved number of children to have is, “I dunno. 2?”
Lisa objected, leaning on demographers’ projections that the world population will peak before the end of the 21st century. “I think it’s a slippery slope to start telling people how many kids they can or can’t have. My body, my choice.”
But Chairman Pearlman of the People’s Republic of Know-It-Alls would not be swayed. “It bothers me when people tell me not to throw my garbage in the ocean. My garbage, my choice.”

Population Control Leads to Horrible Policies

The fecundophobia of some members of the American elite has blossomed into full-blown hatred. Around this time last year, comedian Nikki Glaser tweeted “Don Jr. and his wife have FIVE kids. No one should be having five kids. Why are people still allowed to have 5 kids?”
In general, many people in the mainstream feel comfortable dehumanizing and devaluing babies and children, which is why tweets like Pearlman’s (which oddly equates people having as many kids as they want with people throwing garbage in the ocean whenever they want) and Glaser’s must be roundly refuted.
If calling out dangerous, immoral opinions on Twitter were ever cheap sport for pundits with time on their hands, it isn’t anymore. The fact that children born alive after abortions can literally, legally be treated as garbage in the state of New York now should not be lost on you. The fact that 232 Democrats in the House of Representatives have refused to even vote on ensuring all children born alive are treated as children, not garbage, should not be lost on you, either.
If there are a few voices at the back croaking weakly in protest, we can’t hear them over the fascist chants for government to regulate anything and everything in the name of the climate “crisis,” up to and including our own bodies (ironic, for the “my body my choice” crowd).
I wonder if aspiring Population Czar Pearlman realizes how many people have been violated and killed based on exactly the policy he’s referring to in the name of “sustainability.” Would you like to know how many people in India were forcibly sterilized out of fear of a population “bomb” that never existed? Around 8 million men and women.
Would you like to know how many people are missing from the Chinese population due to their one-child policy (now a two-child policy)? An estimated 300 million. More than 20 million Chinese people were sterilized in 1983 alone. Families pregnant with an unauthorized child have been threatened with exorbitant fines they couldn’t possibly afford, thus forcing them to seek abortions or literally pay the price.
In 1990, when a small town protested after the Chinese government violently ripped 250 children from the wombs of their mothers, officials sent an army to occupy the territory. The villagers’ armed resistance triggered what is known as the Barren Massacre—the indiscriminate slaughter of hundreds by the People’s Liberation Army (another bitter pill of irony). We know that forced abortions and sterilizations are still occurring on 1 million mostly Uyghur captives held in internment camps in China, according to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Autonomy Onslaught, Here We Come

The radical environmentalists who ceaselessly lobby government for a turn at the levers of power have never been interested in preserving your autonomy. Every natural human right, including the right to procreation and the right to life itself, must bow down to Nature as god.
There has never been such a thing as effective mass population control without violating the rights of the individual, and there never will be. Solutions range from heavy taxation to biological warfare. Celebrated playwright George Bernard Shaw pleaded for a “humane gas” that would kill “instantly and painlessly” to cleanse the population of those who “cannot pull [their] own weight.” But even something as relatively anodyne as per-child taxation is a strike at the knees of all who would not submit to the desanctification of individual human life.
It’s no wonder we’re having to refute ignorant Twitterati who compare children to garbage when people as supposedly enlightened as bioethicists have claimed that “the life of a newborn baby is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.” I wonder if Pearlman and Peter Singer ever slouch in overstuffed armchairs, puffing cigar smoke and egotism into each other’s faces as they wax poetic about the golden days of eugenics and the blatant attempts to keep the poor and the “unfit” from breeding. You know, that heyday of the early 20th century when 60,000 Americans were sterilized? Sports, social hygiene—interchangeable disciplines, really.
That’s where we’re really heading, aren’t we? Why would we indiscriminately limit children from every family when we could doso much good for the planet if we uprooted the “weeds” from the garden of society and kept them from breeding. Wait a minute, that sounds familiar.
Ah yes, we’ve heard that from population-control fanatic Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. In the born-alive debate, the left is already leaning almost exclusively on the false notion that all late-term abortions not directly related to maternal health are of fetuses “incompatible with life.” Unfit, you might say.“Lebensunwertes Leben.” It’s almost like some of them haven’t left that awful genetic supremacist ideology behind or something.

The World Isn’t Ending, and Neither Should Families

All this death and oppression building like a violent storm on the horizon is supposedly justified by science, but it’s mostly echo chamber dogma put forth by people whose predictions pretty much always fail to come true. As David Harsanyi has pointed out, sea levels did not rise 20 feet in the 14 years since “An Inconvenient Truth” (nor did they even rise one foot), a billion people did not die of starvation due to overpopulation, and farming hasn’t collapsed due to increased temperatures. Instead, we are more prosperous than ever. Extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last two decades.
The real kicker is, American fertility is already below replacement rate and, in fact, sits at a 30-year low. If this trend continues, we won’t be able to sustain this nation’s massive welfare state because we won’t have enough workers to generate payouts to the old.
If we’re going to keep our sacrosanct entitlement system intact, then whose lives are authorized for neglect now? Whose lives will be devalued for the “greater good”? All those vulnerable senior citizens tucked away in long-term care facilities, who are already getting the message they’re better off dead.
You see, whether the fertility rate goes up or down, whether the overall temperature ticks up or down, the problem isn’t the flawed science so much as the perverted morality that promotes the abuse and murder of individuals in the name of some greater collective goal, for which the science seems all too often just a means to that end.
You don’t get to a point of suggesting population control and comparing babies to garbage just by believing the earth has a fever. You get there by denying that humans are made in the image of God and that their rights derive from Him, not the government.
That’s why refuting bad methodology and cautioning against tenuous conclusions, as important as they are, is not enough to stop the onslaught against the sanctity of human life. There will always be another excuse, another crisis. A crisis doesn’t determine our morality, our morality determines how we deal with a crisis. Maybe Pearlman should take a seat on the bench until he gets his head around this basic rule of civilized society.
Georgi is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist, host of The 180 Cast, and coauthor of "Clocking Out Early: The Ultimate Guide to Early Retirement." Follow her on Twitter.

Jihad Against Churches

April 18, 2019
Catholic churches in Nimes, Houilles and Lavaur were among those targeted by vandals

Catholic churches in Nimes, Houilles and Lavaur were among those targeted by vandals (Image: N/C)
The cause of the tragic Notre Dame Cathedral fire remains under investigation. Although authorities so far are treating the fire as an accident, rather than as an act of terror, Islamists have wasted no time celebrating what happened as a major defeat for the “Crusaders.”
jihadist media group linked to ISIS carried an image of the iconic 850 year-old cathedral on fire next to their warning, “Wait for the next.” In truth, we do not have to “wait for the next.” During the last three years, as the migrant population coming to Europe from the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa rose dramatically, so has the number of attacks on Christian churches and religious symbols.  “Countless churches throughout Western Europe are being vandalized, defecated on, and torched,” Raymond Ibrahim has reported in an article published by Gatestone Institute. He noted that “in European regions with large Muslim populations, there seems to be a concomitant rise in attacks on churches and Christian symbols.” And we must not forget the July 2016 attack against Fr. Jacques Hamel, who was killed by two young Islamists in the middle of mass at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church. They slit the priest’s throat while screaming "Allahu Akbar." ISIS claimed responsibility.  
The vicinity of Notre Dame itself has been the scene of prior Islamist crimes. On June 6, 2017, an Algerian-born journalist named Farid Ikken, who had moved to France on a student visa, attacked a police officer with a hammer outside the Notre Dame Cathedral. He reportedly shouted "c'est pour la Syrie" ("this is for Syria") during the attack and then claimed he was a soldier of the caliphate.
On September 4, 2016, a car containing seven canisters of gas and pages with Arabic writing was found parked near Notre Dame. Three female jihadists were reportedly planning to blow up the car outside the cathedral, but the plot was foiled in time.
More than 1000 attacks on Christian churches, crucifixes, icons, and statues were registered in France alone in 2018, according to a German news site referenced by Mr. Ibrahim. In February of this year, nine churches were desecrated in France during an 11-day period. Mr. Ibrahim described some truly disgusting examples of desecration that occurred this past February and March. In one example he described, “Vandals plundered Notre-Dame des Enfants Church in Nîmes and used human excrement to draw a cross there; consecrated bread was found thrown outside among garbage.” In another example, “Vandals desecrated and smashed crosses and statues at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, and mangled the arms of a statue of a crucified Christ in a mocking manner.”
Also, last month, a Pakistani immigrant, who had arrived in France quite recently, allegedly tried to burn down the organ of the Saint-Denis basilica and destroyed some stain glass. The year before, pro-migrant activists alongside illegal migrants had stormed this same basilica to protest changes in France’s asylum law.
Germany has experienced a similar pattern of attacks on churches and holy objects, with four separate churches vandalized and/or torched in March alone. “Before Christmas 2016, in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, where more than a million Muslims reside, some 50 public Christian statues (including those of Jesus) were beheaded and crucifixes broken,” Mr. Ibrahim reported.
Some of the perpetrators are not shy about their motivation. A German report quoted by Mr. Ibrahim stated:  "Crosses are broken, altars smashed, Bibles set on fire, baptismal fonts overturned, and the church doors smeared with Islamic expressions like 'Allahu Akbar.'"
European government leaders and the mainstream media have been in denial about the Islamist source of many of the attacks. Instead, they try to kill the messenger. They brand as racists and Islamophobes those who point out that the rising number of Islamist attacks on Christian churches and religious symbols in Europe tracks the dramatic increase of migrants from Muslim-majority terrorist-prone countries.
Some French authorities are blaming what they call “militant secularism” for the church attacks in their country. That is patently absurd. Militant Islam, which teaches hatred of Christians and Jews, is the driving ideology behind many of the attacks. And the attacks are not just occurring in “secular” Europe or in Muslim countries in the Middle East where Christians are becoming a dwindling, persecuted minority. Last January, for example, there was a double bomb attack on a Catholic church in the Philippines, which killed at least 18 people. ISIS claimed that “two martyrs of the Islamic state carried out a double suicide attack.”  Approximately 80 percent of the Philippine population is Roman Catholic. The Catholic Church still plays an important role in Philippine life. "Militant secularism" is not being used as a convenient excuse for the church attack by Philippine government authorities.
In 2017, a propaganda video was released by ISIS militants in the Philippines threatening the life of Pope Francis, and showing a church set on fire as well as the destruction of statues of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph. “After all their efforts, it would be the religion of the cross that would be broken,” the narrator said as a church in flames was displayed.
In Nigeria, which is split between a majority-Christian south and a majority-Muslim north, the ISIS-linked Boko Haram terrorist group and other Muslim terrorists have slaughtered Christians and burned churches. More than 6,000 Christians were killed or maimed by Islamist terrorists during 2018 alone. “We are deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria, including the burning of churches and the killing and persecution of Christians,” President Trump said during a joint press conference at the White House in April 2018 with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is himself a Muslim and has condemned the attacks but done little to stop them. “It’s a horrible story,” President Trump added. The horrible story is continuing in 2019.
Islamists justify their murder of Christians and desecration of churches, as well as their murder of Jews and desecration of synagogues, by pointing to verses in the Koran. One example is found in Koran (9:29): "Fight against Christians and Jews until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low."
We may not know what really caused the Notre Dame fire for quite some time. Terrorism cannot be entirely ruled out just yet, although investigators presently believe the fire started accidentally. We do know, however, that Islamists have targeted Notre Dame, the Vatican, and churches all over the world repeatedly in the past. Their jubilation at what happened this week to an enduring symbol of the Christian faith reveals the depth of their hatred for anything symbolic of Judeo-Christian values and of Western civilization. They will kill and destroy anything they consider infidel whenever they are given the chance. That is who they are. Our answer must be to value life, protect freedom, stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us, and rebuild.