Speaker Pelosi’s Show Trial

Picture this: It’s early 2023, and Congressional Republicans, having regained majority control of the House of Representatives, announce the formation of a select committee to hold hearings on allegations that President Biden had some involvement in son Hunter’s shady business dealings.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while objecting to the planned hearings, duly submits the names of Democratic House members she has appointed to serve on the committee.

But Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy vetoes several of those names—denying the right of the Democratic House leader to appoint the Democratic members of the committee!

Outraged at this violation of protocol, not to mention fair play, Pelosi pronounces the committee and hearings illegitimate, and refuses to appoint ANY Democrats to participate in them. McCarthy, the Republican leader, then takes it upon himself to appoint the Democratic representatives on the committee—two Democrats whom he knows to be critical of the Bidens’ financial maneuverings.

How do you think mainstream media would react?

I have little doubt they would see Pelosi’s outrage and raise it; echo her denunciation of the hearings as illegitimate; and give them short shrift in terms of news coverage.

And I believe all fair-minded Americans would agree with that judgement.

Yet the above scenario is exactly what has happened—in reverse—with regard to House hearings on the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol by several hundred Trump partisans.

Speaker Pelosi, after announcing the formation of a select House committee to investigate the uprising, vetoed two of the Republicans named to the committee by Republican Minority Leader McCarthy—leading McCarthy to rightly label the committee and its hearings a partisan sham, and refuse to appoint any Republicans to participate. Democrat Pelosi countered by appointing two Republicans known to be harsh critics of Trump and his supporters: Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

And the mainstream media, having grown unabashedly partisan itself, barely batted an eye at Pelosi’s flagrantly partisan power-grab; fully embraced the totally one-sided hearings as legitimate; and excoriated anyone who disagreed.

This week, Pelosi and the Democrats—desperately casting about for something to slow the GOP’s perceived momentum heading into the mid-term elections—held public hearings on the Jan. 6 riot. And mainstream media were all in, with wall-to-wall coverage.

Hard to imagine such coverage of hearings into the Bidens’ financial dealings, should the Republicans retake the House and initiate such hearings. Even if those procedures are done legitimately, with both parties able to select their own participants, such hearings are virtually guaranteed to be downplayed by mainstream media outlets.

Now I write this as someone who has forcefully condemned the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, and who would have welcomed legitimate, bi-partisan hearings designed to get to the bottom of what actually happened, who was actually responsible, and what can be done to prevent a recurrence. For some reason, Speaker Pelosi, supported by her party and mainstream media, did not want such bi-partisan hearings, and used (abused?) her powers to prevent them from happening. Why?

I also recognize that double standards are not the sole province of one political party or one point of view. Take, for example, both parties’ handling of Supreme Court nominations. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland ten months before a presidential election, then rushed to confirm President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett just a month before a presidential election. Democratic Vice President Joe Biden supported confirmation of Garland in 2016, after he had called, as a U.S. Senator prior to the 1992 presidential election (when a Republican, George H.W. Bush, was president), for “not scheduling confirmation hearings” on any potential Supreme Court nominee “until after the political campaign season is over.”

Both parties engage in double standards, and both are fair game for criticism.

But Pelosi’s action seems a new and radical departure. For the leader of the majority party in Congress to presume to dictate to the minority party leader which of his duly elected members he may or may not appoint to a House committee seems like a stake through the heart of any hope for renewed bi-partisanship in Congressional deliberations.

Mainstream media doing their job as public watchdogs should be as one voice in denouncing this. Instead, they are in almost complete lockstep enabling it.

They have their own partisan double standards.

Roe, Alito, and Justice for the Unborn

Some thoughts on Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked Supreme Court draft regarding Roe v. Wade:

The leak itself: The prevailing belief, that it came from someone on the pro-abortion side hoping to spark a last-ditch uproar—exactly as has happened—seems likely. Reaction on both sides of the aisle—pro-life Republicans demanding an investigation, pro-abortion Democrats totally uninterested in finding out who was responsible—certainly seems to affirm that consensus.

Pro-abortion hysteria: Reaction was immediate, and unhinged, not only from abortion activists and the lucrative abortion industry, but from their ever-faithful media lapdogs and pro-abortion politicians. “An abomination—one of the worst, most damaging decisions in modern history,” wailed the habitually overwrought Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Abortion advocates doxxed Supreme Court justices and are now trying to intimidate them with demonstrations outside their homes. Catholic churches have been vandalized as pro-abortion forces resort to the anti-Catholic bigotry that has long been their trademark. In Wisconsin, a pro-life office was fire-bombed. In Boston, a pro-abortion protester was arrested for assaulting a pro-life speaker. In Los Angeles, pro-abortion demonstrators clashed with police. And if 2020’s violent Antifa-BLM rioting is prologue, we’re in for more of the same—absent, of course, any theatrical denunciations from Schumer or other pro-abortion pols and media.

President Biden: Trying to square his “devout” Catholicism with his political ambitions in a pro-abortion party, Joe Biden has been all over the map on this issue over the years. So it was no surprise that in condemning the Alito draft—but not it’s having been leaked—he uttered words that inadvertently buttressed the pro-life cause and undermined his own. He defended a woman’s right “to abort a child,” acknowledging that a child exists in the womb; and then he declared, “I have the rights that I have, not because the government gave them to me … but because I am just a child of God, I exist.” The pro-life case cannot be stated more succinctly than that.

Precedent: Pro-abortion voices are howling that a Court ruling from almost 50 years ago, and a subsequent ruling affirming it, make Roe untouchable. “They do not have the right to change this,” claimed Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). She needs to become a little more familiar with the Constitution. Of course the Supreme Court can revisit prior decisions, and change or overturn those they deem egregiously wrong. Justice Alito cited a case in point: Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 “separate but equal” ruling upholding racial discrimination. That decision was in force longer than Roe has been; yet it was, thankfully, overturned by the Court in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.

What Alito’s draft would actually do: In fact, Roe was even more extreme than Plessy, and Alito’s draft falls well short of what Brown did in overturning Plessy. Plessy did not mandate discrimination against African Americans, it simply allowed states to discriminate if they so chose. Roe mandated that every state allow the indiscriminate killing of unborn children. Brown rightly concluded that no state could deny any person equal protection of the law based on race. Alito’s draft, on the other hand—much like Plessy—would still allow states to deny equal protection to the unborn, if they so choose. Yes, it would finally strike down Roe’s unfounded creation of a constitutional “right” to abortion. After almost 50 years, that is a major achievement, and a great step forward. But it is not, as many conservatives now assert, the end of the national government’s responsibility on this issue. Because at bottom, this is not about “states’ rights.” It is about the right to life, the most fundamental of natural rights on which all others are necessarily based. If that constitutional right, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the 5th and 14th amendments, is to be upheld, we must ultimately—as one nation—follow the science, recognize the legal personhood of unborn children, and afford their lives the equal protection of our laws.

The politics: Pro-abortion Democrats and their media allies, desperate to stave off a projected huge Republican wave in the mid-term elections, are seizing on this as their chance to turn the tide. It won’t—unless Republicans run scared, as some often do on this issue. Americans are closely divided on abortion, and many support the kinds of state—and national—limits the Alito draft would allow, and pro-abortion Democrats oppose: bans on late-term abortions; protection for babies born alive following failed abortions; informed consent for women seeking abortions; parental notification before a minor can get an abortion; an end to being forced to pay for other people’s abortions with our tax dollars. Pro-life Republicans should stand their ground, support these popular restrictions and use them to illustrate the extremism of their pro-abortion opponents. They should also stand firmly in support of pro-life pregnancy resource centers, vigorously opposing pro-abortion efforts to drive those centers, and their loving care for women and children, out of existence—leaving abortion as the only choice for women in crisis.

Going forward: The pro-life movement, besides supporting all these life-affirming initiatives, must re-double our education efforts, using technology, science, and personal witness to tell the beautiful story of new human life growing in the womb—so that one day, please God, all Americans will stand together, to lovingly welcome and legally protect the lives of innocent unborn children. Only then will justice have prevailed.

“Oh Gosnell” Play Survives Censorship, Will Open Thursday Night

Following on my post last week about the Kermit Gosnell-type abortion atrocity in our nation’s capital, comes word about an off-Broadway play, Oh Gosnell, opening this Thursday night, May 5, after efforts to censor it.

The author, Phelim MacAleer, explains that “Oh Gosnell is a Verbatim Play using only the transcripts of the trial and Grand Jury.” It’s May 5 opening is intended to counter the opening the same night of JJ Abram’s and Ilana Glazer’s “abortion comedy,” Oh God, A Show About Abortion.

“They laugh about it – we tell the truth about it,” MacAleer says.

Theatre Row in Manhattan, where Oh Gosnell was scheduled to open, abruptly cancelled the play just two weeks before its scheduled opening. It will instead open at the Chain Studio Theater at 312 West 36th Street in Manhattan. For scheduled showings and to purchase tickets, click here.

The Thursday night opening will also feature a Q&A after the performance with narcotics detective Jim Wood, who will recount his experience helping bring down Dr. Kermit Gosnell after an informant told him about the death of an immigrant female patient at Gosnell’s clinic.

With the abortion debate raging across the nation in anticipation of the coming Supreme Court decision, and with courageous pro-lifers facing charges for trying to expose the Gosnell-type atrocity currently unfolding in D.C., it is essential that we spread the word about the true, horrific nature of what abortion does to women and children. This play can help to do that, but only if a good opening night turnout allows it to extend and expand its run.

If you’re in the New York area, please try to attend Thursday night’s opening.

Brutalized Babies, ‘Criminal’ Pro-Lifers, and Morally Compromised Law Enforcement

Recently, two pro-life women touched off a storm of reaction when they revealed that they had recovered the bodies of late-term aborted babies from the trash of a Washington, D.C. abortionist.

Mainstream media spun it as a story about a ghoulish anti-abortion activist collecting and storing “fetal remains” –for what morbid purposes, the public was welcome to speculate.

It has turned out instead to be another gruesome, Kermit Gosnell-type abortion atrocity.

But that is not even the whole story. Another aspect involves public authorities–from the D.C. police and medical examiner, to the highly politicized FBI–targeting the pro-life activists while refusing to even investigate the abortionist’s evident violations of federal law.

Pro-life activists Lauren Handy and Terrisa Bukovinac, in an interview on the Catholic site Pillar, give their description of events. 

They and their organization, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), have been focusing on abortionist Cesare Santangelo’s Washington Surgi-Clinic, because they believe that, like Gosnell, he has been performing illegal, late-term partial-birth abortions and allowing babies to die without treatment after being born alive following failed abortions.

In fact, in undercover video from Lila Rose’s Live Action group, Santangelo repeatedly reassures a prospective “client” that if her baby is born alive, his clinic will make no effort to sustain its life–in clear violation of the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

The women tell Pillar they persuaded a waste disposal truck driver picking up boxes from Washington Surgi-Clinic to let them take one of the boxes. Getting a deacon to come to Handy’s apartment, they opened the box and discovered, they say, the remains of 110 tiny infants, but also five much larger, fully formed babies. (Live Action provides graphic photos of these brutalized children, if you have the stomach for it click here.)

They named the babies, arranged for a funeral Mass for all of them and burial of the 110 smaller ones, but wanted a pathologist to examine the older children, to determine if they had been killed illegally.

Unable to get a private pathologist, they had a lawyer contact the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office, asking that D.C. Homicide investigate, and retrieve the bodies for the purpose of autopsies.

They were told the bodies would be picked up that night, but that did not happen.

Instead, the very next morning, Lauren Handy and eight others–including my brother here in New York–were rounded up by the FBI on charges involving a sit-in two years ago at Washington Surgi-Clinic. While Handy was thus in custody–and unable to give her side of the story about the dead babies–D.C. police showed up in force to retrieve the bodies, attracting media and enabling the false narrative of ghoulish pro-life fetus collectors to be spun unchallenged.

Does this seem like coincidence? Hardly.

My brother explained to me that when he, Handy, and seven others sat in at Santangelo’s abortion mill two years ago, in an effort to rescue babies from imminent death, they were arrested by local authorities and charged accordingly. FBI agents questioned them at the time, but no federal charges were forthcoming.

That all changed when Handy notified authorities about the evidence she had now found–in the form of fully developed babies thrown in the trash–implicating Santangelo in possible criminal violations of federal law.

Rather than investigate those possible federal crimes, the FBI suddenly leaped into action to add federal charges to the two-year-old case against the pro-lifers–now charging them with violations of the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances), the 1994 law designed to equate peaceful pro-life civil disobedience with acts of violence, in order to impose harsher sentences on peaceful, prayerful pro-life rescuers.

While helping local authorities downplay evidence of an abortionist’s brutal crimes against innocent children (the D.C. police and medical examiner quickly dismissed any need for autopsies or criminal investigation) the Feds treat a peaceful, prayerful pro-life sit-in, from two years ago, as though it is the crime of the century–my brother tells me FBI agents were poised with a battering ram, ready to smash their way into his house when he answered his door, and Bukovinac told Pillar agents reportedly had guns drawn when they entered the homes of some of the other rescuers.  

This is the same politicized FBI that is under intense scrutiny by Special Counsel John Durham for its involvement in what proved to be the hoax of Russia-Trump collusion; the same FBI whose attempt to entrap defendants with its own contrived kidnapping plot of Michigan’s governor has now fallen apart in court.

Regardless of one’s political leanings, we should all be profoundly disturbed when an agency with the sweeping national police powers of the FBI abuses those powers in service to a partisan political agenda–looking the other way when federal laws are broken by those it sympathizes with, while weaponizing such laws, and even suborning criminal behavior, to persecute those whose views it doesn’t like.   

There are two levels of scandal here.

There is the Gosnell-like brutality, and possible criminality, of Santangelo’s late-term abortion business.

And there is the refusal of authorities, local and federal, to investigate that alleged criminality–topped off by the FBI instead targeting the peaceful pro-life protesters who brought Santangelo’s possible crimes to light.

Cancel Culture vs. Public Prayer

Monsignor Robert Batule, a regular commenter on this blog, is a long-time friend who has favored me over the years with his insights and affirmation. He is a dedicated pastor; a theology scholar who teaches dogmatic theology at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers; and, as editor of the Catholic Social Science Review, a nationally prominent commentator on Catholic social thought and its application to the great issues of our time.

He has also become the catalyst, recently, for a local politician’s exercise in cancel culture.

It seems that shortly before Christmas last year, Msgr. Batule, as pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland in Selden, Long Island, was invited to give an invocation before a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature. In doing so, he included prayers for the unborn and for religious liberty.

This struck one legislator as a violation of the U.S. Constitution–an unwitting demonstration, on her part, of just how disconnected too many of our government officials are from the true meaning and spirit of our nation’s founding documents. She introduced a bill to require “neutral” prayers before the legislature that do not “advance religious doctrine.”

Of course, that is not what Msgr. Batule’s prayer did. He provides a brilliant response on the website of Crisis magazine, cogently explaining the natural law and its application to such issues as freedom of conscience, religious liberty, and the sanctity of human life. I encourage everyone to read it, and share it with others.

And when you have, please join me in thanking and affirming Msgr. Batule for standing strong, as he has throughout his priesthood, in challenging those who would expunge expressions of religious faith from the public square.

Adelaine’s Cross, Her Faith, Her Gift To Us

Back in my Catholic school days–far longer ago than I care to contemplate–we would hear the stories of saints whose faith was unshakeable–indeed, actually made stronger–through suffering so seemingly unbearable it might have been expected to cause a loss of faith and trust in a loving God.

Such stories, while inspiring, always seemed far removed from my personal experience of faith. Certainly, given my low tolerance for pain, they seemed beyond my spiritual capacity.

But over the years, my family and I have been gifted with the personal witness of people who, similarly afflicted with extreme, protracted suffering, have transformed their trials into opportunities to draw closer to Christ by joining their suffering to His, and to bring more souls to Jesus by offering their suffering for others.

Such has been the witness of our daughter Clare’s dearest friend, Adelaine, her freshman roommate, household big sister, and an incredible young woman of faith during their years together as students at Franciscan University of Steubenville. For ten years now, Addie has borne the cross of intense, unrelenting suffering brought on by a most severe case of Lyme disease–and done so while exuding a faith and trust in God even more intense, more unrelenting, than the suffering that has so tested her.

Let Clare, from her Facebook page, take it from here:

“Many of you have heard about and prayed for my dear friend, Adelaine, over the years. Ten years ago [near the end of their time together at Franciscan], she contracted Lyme disease. Her case is the worst her doctors have ever seen. Since 2015 she’s been totally home bound and, during that time, lost all ability to communicate. She was no longer able to speak, read, or write and was hyper-sensitive to stimuli, such that any noise or movement could send her into painful seizures. The one consolation she had was an incredible new artistic talent that developed. Adelaine had never taken a single art class but suddenly began to produce masterful drawings. For several years, this was her only means of communication, until she lost that ability as well.

“Praise God, over the past year she’s begun improving! Though still very sick, she is regaining the ability to communicate, including through her artwork. With the help of her family, she has just opened an Etsy shop to sell some of her incredible drawings. She is so excited to have an occupation again! Please check out her shop and share with anyone you think may be interested. You can also read more about her situation in the “About” section of the shop.”

I should add here that Addie’s artwork is all “faith inspired,” deeply spiritual Catholic imagery.

Some eight years ago, as Addie’s condition continued to deteriorate, Clare wrote that her friend “had to give up her dream of entering religious life as she will never be well enough for it.” Yet “through all of this she has displayed astounding trust in the Lord and surrender to His will.”   

Surely the Lord’s will was for Addie to join her terrible sufferings to His, and to offer those sufferings for others. Now it seems–having gifted her with at least some measure of healing, and with a talent for art she never before experienced–He also wills that she use that gift to spread His word and evangelize the faith.

“When I say she is a saint,” Clare wrote eight years ago, “I don’t mean that metaphorically. Everyone who has met her knows that she will be canonized one day.”

We should also note the courage and saintliness of her parents. I think the one thing most of us would find more challenging to our faith than our own suffering would be watching our children suffer unbearably. Yet Adelaine’s parents have been there with her throughout this ten-year ordeal, loving her, caring for her, bearing this cross with her, and affirming her own incredible faith and trust in God with their own.

We are so thankful that, through our daughter, our lives have been blessed and our own faith deepened by the love, the witness, and the depth of faith of this extraordinary Catholic family.

The powerful image above this post, of St. Dominic and St. Francis, titled, “Wake Up the World,” is one of my favorite examples of the aesthetically breath-taking, spiritually inspiring Catholic imagery from Adelaine’s hand–and her heart. There are many others.

During this Lenten season, give yourself the spiritual gift of a visit to her EyesoftheHeartStudio-Evangelization Through Sacred Art. 

And please keep Addie and her family in your prayers, that God will continue her healing, and continue to give all of them the strength to bring others to Him through their inspiring witness.

“Stop This Massacre”

“…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation…” (Isaiah 2:4).

“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.” (Joel 4:10)

“For everything there is a season … A time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

The pure savagery of Vladimir Putin’s murderous assault on Ukraine calls to mind these very contradictory Old Testament passages.

All of us are familiar with the one from Isaiah; we pray that it will one day come to pass.

I only recently became aware of the passage from Joel, much more obscure and seldom if ever invoked.

But for the people of Ukraine, that seems their only answer to Putin’s brutal, unprovoked aggression against them. Undesired by them, it is their time for war. They are fighting for their homeland, for their families, for their freedom—for their very survival. Who would judge against them for doing so?

Putin justifies his invasion by claiming Ukraine has historically been part of Russia. Even if true—and it is much disputed—that doesn’t justify the massive killing and destruction he has unleashed upon a people he claims really want to be governed by his authoritarian regime.

That hardly seems the case, given their heroic resistance in the face of overwhelming military might. And why would it be, given the Ukrainian people’s most recent experience with Russian rule: almost 4 million of them starved to death in Stalin’s unspeakably cruel planned famine, and the communist government’s brutal suppression of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Why would they now want to be ruled by a former KGB henchman from that totalitarian regime, who is currently demonstrating a contempt for Ukrainian lives every bit as cruel and sadistic as was Stalin’s?

Putin wanted to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. He didn’t want a NATO member—and potentially NATO military installations—right on Russia’s border. Ukraine, on the other hand, feared being outside NATO’s protections with a potentially aggressive Russia right on its border. Putin has now justified that fear—while also affirming the wisdom of all the former Soviet satellites that did seek and obtain NATO membership.

The west’s response—providing arms to Ukraine and imposing what it hopes will be crippling economic sanctions against Russia—seems to me morally justified, but probably inadequate.

While we are unwilling to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine, the U.S. has now declined even Poland’s offer to deliver, through us, MiG-29 fighter planes so the Ukrainians can defend their skies themselves.

Yes, we have to be careful about not widening this war or escalating to a nuclear confrontation. But if those with the strength to call Putin’s bluff are instead cowed by his threats and nuclear saber rattling, how will his murderous rampage be stopped? Recall John F. Kennedy’s words about our (Russian) adversaries six decades ago: “We dare not tempt them with weakness.” 

These are terrifying decisions, bearing on our very survival. I’m glad I don’t have to make them; but am I alone in lacking confidence in the man who does—President Biden?

Regarding sanctions, it seems clear they will not be fully effective—“crippling” —as long as western nations are still dependent on Russian oil. Recognizing this, President Biden has now banned U.S. importation of Russian oil. But European nations—whose energy needs are far more dependent on Russia than ours are —cannot ban Russian imports without harsh economic consequences for their own people.

Had we maintained the energy independence, and status as an oil exporter, we enjoyed prior to the Biden administration, we could now be supplying some of Europe’s imports, reducing their dependence on the Russian imports that fuel Putin’s war machine. Yet even now, the president refuses to lessen restrictions on domestic oil production.

Most disturbing to me is Biden’s attempt to use this grave crisis to deflect responsibility for the domestic problems that are damaging him politically. Inflation has been rising virtually non-stop since he took office, and gas prices since he began restricting domestic production. Of course the needed sanctions against Russia will exacerbate these problems. But they did not cause them. For the president to claim otherwise—exploiting the horrors happening to the Ukrainian people for his own political benefit—is unconscionable.

What can each of us do? First, we can contribute to those proving humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people. And yes, we should not just accept, but welcome, whatever deprivations we may experience because of our nation’s support of Ukraine—remembering that our sacrifices are as nothing compared with what these beleaguered but incredibly courageous people are suffering.

And finally, let us pray.

Let us pray long-term, for that time of peace when all nations will “beat their swords into plow shares” and make war no more.

And let us pray urgently that right now, Vladimir Putin will heed the impassioned plea of Pope Francis:

In the name of God, I ask you, stop this massacre.”

Congress Should Honor Senator Buckley

Amid the swamp that is contemporary politics—the vitriol and hate, the hypocrisy and moral compromise, the elitism and arrogance of power—it was moving to read my friend Herb Stupp’s poignant tribute, in the February 27 New York Post, to “one of the most humble public officials anywhere”: former U.S. Senator James L. Buckley.

Unlike Herb, who as state chairman of Youth for Buckley was instrumental in his historic 1970 Senate campaign victory, I do not know Jim Buckley personally. But Herb and others who know him have always confirmed what all of us could easily observe: that James Buckley was that all- too-rare public servant—a man of unyielding principle and unfailing civility.

“In the Senate,” Herb writes, “Jim Buckley was known for his personal cordiality and his steadfast adherence to conservative principles.” Citing his “unimpeachable honesty, gentility and ethical standards,” Herb observes that “No hint of impropriety has ever attached to Buckley’s decades-long service” in all three branches of our national government.

While I am sympathetic to just about all the conservative principles James Buckley has espoused over the years with unsurpassed grace and erudition, his pro-life efforts stand out for me as a particular profile in political courage.

After the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in January 1973, Sen. Buckley moved swiftly to craft and sponsor a human life amendment to protect the unborn. Some of his conservative supporters were less than pleased. Sure, he could and should vote pro-life, they reasoned. But having to face re-election in New York, one of the most liberal states in the nation—with, as he himself noted, the “most permissive” state abortion law prior to Roe—couldn’t he let other senators, from more pro-life states, take the lead on this hot button issue?

But it was clear that to James Buckley, this was a foundational issue; of “paramount importance,” he said, because it attacked not only the unborn—unjust and horrific as that was—but “the most cherished principles of humanity.”

Having taken office just two years before Roe was promulgated, one wonders if perhaps, given his devout Catholicism, Buckley felt that maybe God had placed him in the Senate precisely to lead in this defining struggle of our age. In any event, one sensed that for him, there was really no purpose in being a United States Senator if he could not stand up and lead on a matter as fundamental as the protection of human life.  

He would not be deterred by the political risk; for as Herb Stupp writes, he “never let politics get in the way of doing what was right.”    

Herb alerts us that on March 9, when James Buckley turns 99, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island will introduce legislation renaming Staten Island stretches of federal beachfront in honor of the man who helped protect them. An ardent environmentalist, Sen. Buckley co-sponsored legislation creating the Gateway National Recreation Area, which protects Atlantic beachfronts in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey.  

As I said, I do not know Jim Buckley. But one of my most treasured possessions is a simple framed photograph of us shaking hands, as I finally got to meet him at a Human Life Foundation dinner in 2012, when he was honored with the Great Defender of Life award. Already 90 years old, he was as eloquent as ever in his address, and as warm and gracious personally as I’d always heard.

He has always been my model of what a Catholic public servant should be. I will be contacting my representatives in the U.S. House and Senate, urging them—in the spirit of principled bi-partisanship that Sen. Buckley also exemplified—to support Rep. Malliotakis’ legislation. I hope you will do so as well.

In conferring this much deserved honor upon an exemplary public servant, the current Congress will also comport itself honorably—something that these days occurs all too rarely.    

Prayers and Condolences

This post, I feel certain, will not be well-received by some readers. But I implore you to read it carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what I am saying—and what I am not saying— before reacting, with understandable anger, given the subject matter.

That subject matter is the horrible shooting murder recently of two courageous young New York City police officers—and the response of New York City Councilwoman Kristin Richardson Jordan of Harlem, where the murders took place.

Jordan, in a statement of condolence to the families of Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, sparked public outrage by also sending condolences to the family of the shooter, Lashawn McNeil, who was shot and killed by police after killing Rivera and Mora.

To put this in full context, it’s important to acknowledge that Jordan, a democratic socialist with a “political style” that the New York Times calls “revolutionary activist,” has been quite radical in her anti-police rhetoric. She has “equated the policing system with slavery” and called not just for “defunding” the police, but for the “abolition” of police departments, according to the Times.

And it does seem distasteful, to say the least, for her to have led a vigil just days after the murders that seemed to memorialize not just the slain police heroes, but their killer as well.

So stipulating Jordan’s demonstrated anti-cop agenda, my attention here is focused on a larger question: Do the families of those who have committed horrific crimes ever merit our compassion and condolences—and our prayers?

Often, I submit, they do. Consider Shirley Sourzes, Lashawn McNeil’s mother.

Days after the shooting, with Officer Rivera dead and Officer Mora near death, she told the New York Post she deeply regretted having called 911—not because her son was also dying, although she must certainly have felt that too; but because her son had shot both responding officers.

As the Post reporter told it:

“‘A weeping Shirley Sourzes said she is beside herself thinking about the parents of the two shot cops, slain rookie NYPD Officer Justin Rivera and critically wounded Finest Wilbert Mora.

“‘If I knew, I never would have made the phone call,’ said the mom, whose plea to 911 about her mentally unstable son brought officers to the Harlem home Friday evening—when an armed McNeil allegedly opened fire on them without warning.

“’I would never have called!’ Sourzes said.”

Addressing herself at that time to Officer Rivera’s parents—surely she had the same sentiments when Officer Mora later died— the Post story continued:

“’I would like to say to Mr. and Mrs. [Rivera] that I am deeply sorry,’ the mom said through tears. ‘I know that there is not words that I can express. Your pain. Your sorrow.

“‘Me and my family are not proud of my son taking of life.

“‘There is nothing I can say to heal your sorrow, but God is a comforter. … And I know that he sent your son to do his will,’ she said, addressing Rivera’s parents. ‘I don’t understand it. It’s not fair. My heart goes out to you and your family.'”

Speaking of her son, Ms. Sourzes told the Post “His mental state is very distorted, and that’s all I can say.

“I told him to submit himself to help. At this point, his mental state was incapacitated. He thought he was God, and he wouldn’t submit himself to no one.”

Think of all the anguish this mother has gone through and is going through: the pain of seeing her son’s mental state deteriorate; repeated run-ins with the criminal justice system as his behavior became violent; the constant fear of what harm he might bring on himself, or do to others; the heartbreak of having to call the police on her own son, as his behavior that night became threatening; the horror of watching him shoot down two police officers who answered her call for help. 

This is the lot of so many who have a family member struggling with violent mental illness: anguish over their loved one’s suffering; a sense of powerlessness when nothing they or others do seems to help; the constant fear that their loved one poses a danger to himself or others; and, when lethal harm does result, their overwhelming grief and sense of guilt.

To pray for, and offer condolences to, these stricken families in no way diminishes the sorrow and compassion we feel, or the prayers we offer, for families whose loved ones have been violently killed by a mentally disturbed person.

As a Catholic Christian, my heart goes out to all of them; along with my prayers that they experience God’s healing love and consolation.

Profaning Political Discourse


I first realized this was a “thing” when I was accused of it for posting a blog, after last year’s January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, in which I called for an end to all the violence—from that Capitol riot by some Trump supporters, to the far more lethal rioting by some on the left that had swept our cities over the previous year. 

Then I began to see the term regularly used by progressives to characterize any attempt to defend misbehavior by Trump supporters (which I was not doing) by calling out similar misbehavior by anti-Trumpers.

So I was interested the other day to see progressive talking head Joy Reid engaging in a little “whataboutism” of her own. As she endeavored to deflect criticism of President Biden for calling Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy a “stupid SOB” (the president didn’t abbreviate the offensive term), she said, in effect, What about the “F… Joe Biden” signs brandished by Trump supporters?

Actually, she referenced the “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase that some have creatively substituted for the anti-Biden obscenity. But that at least injected some much needed levity into our overheated political climate, and testified, even if unintentionally, to the repugnance of the profanity it was being used to replace.

It seems that to progressives, “whataboutism” is only wrong when employed against them by the Trumpies. When they want to use it to defend their progressive president’s offensive remarks, that’s perfectly OK.

And often, the progressive left’s answer to “Whataboutism” seems to be a “SoWhatism” to sometimes worse behavior by those they agree with. The January 6 riot was presaged in Wisconsin 10 years earlier by government workers taking over the statehouse to block passage of bills they didn’t like? So what, they were trying to block conservative legislation, so that was OK. Rioting by left-wing activists throughout 2020 that terrorized our cities? So what, those were insurrections against the police and against Donald Trump, so that was OK. Democrats constantly refusing to accept the legitimacy of elections they lost (Bush in 2000, Trump in 2016, Stacey Abrams 2018 defeat in Georgia)? So what, they were trying to delegitimize Republican election victories, so that was OK.

Now, having said all that, let me clearly register my disgust at those “F… Joe Biden” banners, chants, tee shirts, etc., that regularly mar protests and rallies of the pro-Trump, populist right.

To be sure, I am absolutely appalled by the disastrous performance of the Biden administration, from the Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco, to the chaos and human suffering on our southern border, soaring inflation at home and dangerous aggressions of our adversaries abroad. Add to that more people having died of COVID on his watch than on President Trump’s—after he said Trump “should not remain as president” given the number who died when he was in office—and we have some idea of the utter failure that has been the Biden presidency.

And I am especially appalled that Mr. Biden, who wears his Catholicism on his sleeve, achieved his party’s nomination by completely caving to its most extreme pro-abortion demands, even promising to force all of us to be complicit, with our tax dollars, in the killing of unborn children.

But all this can be said—forcefully, as I have just done—without resort to vulgar obscenities meant to offend rather than persuade.

I try, when someone on “my side” of an issue or political contest engages in questionable rhetoric or actions, to ask myself how I would react if those on the opposing side engaged in similar behaviors.

In the current climate, the question answers itself. I don’t like it when President Biden resorts to profanity and personal insults; nor should I like it when his critics do. I was outraged 10 years ago when those protesters seized control of the Wisconsin statehouse to block Gov. Scott Walker’s initiatives. So I should have been, and was, outraged when a mob tried to seize the U.S. Capitol a year ago to stop Biden’s election from being certified.

Now I will agree, there are far worse things poisoning our politics and culture than foul language. And I certainly don’t pretend that I never utter a profanity myself, in momentary anger or frustration. But I don’t go shouting them publicly, parading them on banners, or otherwise shoving them in people’s faces.

And I submit that the coarseness of language that permeates virtually every aspect of modern society—from politics, to music and sports, to everyday interactions—is a contributing factor to the polarization that plagues us today. At the very least, it demonstrates disrespect for the sensibilities of others. At worst, it communicates hate. And hateful language can presage hateful actions.

So I implore those who share my strong opposition to President Biden and his policies: Don’t like his uncalled for profanity, at news conferences or on the campaign trail? Outraged by Snoop Dogg’s “F…the Police” rap lyrics? Turned off by crotch-grabbing, profanity-spewing pro athletes? Tired of being bombarded with profanities in daily conversation?

Me too.

So please, in the name of consistency and decency, lose the “F… Joe Biden” chants and banners.