Moderate Republicans Blink on Health Care

by Ramesh Ponnuru

My new Bloomberg View column:

For most of the last decade, moderate Republicans have sounded just like their conservative colleagues on Obamacare: The law was a disaster and had to be replaced. Once Republicans were in a position to do something about the law, though, they were forced to think, apparently for the first time, about specific health-policy decisions. At that point the moderates decided that they want to keep Obamacare but make it cheaper. . . .


How Handel Won

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Henry Olsen concludes that the biggest factor was that Ossoff fell far short of the percentage of Gary Johnson/Evan McMullin voters he needed.

The Most Dangerous Places in America (for Un-P.C. Ideas, Anyway)

by George Leef

The Left used to dominate film, but in recent years, conservatives and libertarians have been catching up. Since fewer and fewer Americans read much any more, using film to make a point is increasingly effective.

Dennis Prager (who is well known to NR readers) and Adam Corolla plan to do a film entitled “No Safe Spaces” about the terrible condition of free speech on college campuses for anyone who challenges the supposed wisdom and compassion of the Left. They are crowdfunding their effort and for more information about it (including how to contribute), go here.

What Should Become of Steven Donziger?

by Jack Fowler

Neither persistence nor determination are virtues. Yes, people value them: We all want to cheer for The Little Engine that Could and Rudy. But Steven Donziger, the environmental-activist lawyer, is no Rudy. Actually, he’s more of Bernie. As in Madoff.

Donziger has been written about frequently here, for his crusade to conduct what has been called the legal fraud of the century: A contrived and calculated green-scamming operation to fleece Chevron over alleged rain-forest polluting in Ecuador (for alleged unremediated well sites that allegedly caused cancer for local peasants), masterminded by Donziger, who orchestrated a brazenly corrupt trial against the oil giant.

That foray ended well for the intrepid barrister: a bribed and coached Ecuadorean judiciary hit Chevron with a $9.5 billion judgment.

Chevron, a National Review advertiser (praised be!), fought back, and took no prisoners. Among other things, the counterattack resulted in a federal court action, and in 2014, as Kevin Williamson wrote at the time, Donziger was on the receiving end of a brutal ruling, rendered by District Judge Lewis Kaplan. National Review’s editorial had this to say about the esquire scammer:

[Donziger is] a politically connected Harvard Law classmate of Barack Obama. Mr. Donziger would come to be the central figure in the legal case against Chevron — a case that, according to a decision just handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was the product of an ongoing criminal conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. The judge, Lewis Kaplan, found that Chevron’s antagonists had used “corrupt means” to procure a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador, and that those means included falsifying evidence, coercing judges, bribing “independent” expert witnesses and ghostwriting those “independent” experts’ reports to the court, bribing the Ecuadorian judge in the case, and subsequently lying to U.S. legal authorities in an attempt to cover up their misdeeds.

Shot down in the U.S. courts (and getting clobbered internationally, such as earlier this year in Canada), Donziger appealed Kaplan’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Same old same old: This week SCOTUS handed the leftist his latest defeat.

Donziger’s globe-trotting circus is getting boring — he’s certain to take his action to some nation demanding its legal system enforce the corrupt Ecuadorean ruling to swindle Chevron (he responded to the SCOTUS verdict saying he was seeking “an international judgment enforcement process.” Before he splits for Burundi or Bulgaria, someone should grab his passport, because it is time he possibly conduct his efforts from the confines of a federal prison cell. As Kaplan wrote in his 2014 decision, Donziger engaged in “bribery, coercion and fraud.” Those are harsh claims from a federal judge (backed up by copious facts, and even an amazing confessional video starring Donziger bragging about his scam). We wonder when a U.S. attorney will formally charge this man with criminal RICO charges. The shareholders of Chevron deserve justice, and the criminal Left that Donziger represents deserves as strong a throttling as our laws will permit.

Where the Public Stands on Gun Issues

by Robert VerBruggen

Pew has a big new report on that topic, with this summary of the results being a handy guide:

A few things pop out to me here. Like other surveys it shows broad support for background checks on private sales, even among Republicans. It also shows a clear majority for “assault weapons” bans — which, interestingly, didn’t show up in a 2015 New York Times poll. The biggest gaps between Republicans and Democrats, meanwhile, are on questions of expanding where people can legally carry guns. And I’m not sure how to interpret the question about “shortening waiting periods,” because, well, there isn’t a waiting period, at least on the federal level.

Finally, there are two questions where Republicans surprised me. One, they support a “federal database to track gun sales.” Currently, guns are traced through their manufacturers and the stores where they’re sold to avoid placing those records directly in the government’s hands, but it turns out that most Republicans aren’t so concerned about a centralized registry. And two, by more than two-to-one, Republicans oppose permitless concealed carry, which has expanded quite a bit in recent years and is a major goal of the gun-rights lobby.

Deposing Assad Could Hurt Syria’s Christians

by Nicholas Frankovich

Response To...

Syria in 2017 Is Nothing Like ...

In Syria, most Christians and other religious minorities, primarily Alawites and Druze, support Assad, certainly according to conventional wisdom. Polling data such as they are indicate that a majority of the total Syrian population, not just religious minorities, backs him in the civil war. “Even the Sunnis” will take Assad over “the extremists,” Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, told reporters in Geneva last year. He estimated that 80 percent of Syria’s Christians would vote for Assad in an election. Syria’s bishops, both Catholic and Orthodox, are adamant in their defense of the secular regime, which they see as the only practical bulwark against greater chaos or the establishment of a Sunni regime that would be hostile to Christianity.

In a proxy war between a U.S.–Sunni alliance and the Russian–Iranian alliance in Syria, the U.S. would be fighting not only Assad, Putin, and Rouhani but, it would appear, also the Christians remaining in or returning to Aleppo, encouraged by the Syrian government’s recapture of the city last December. What persecuted religious minorities perceive to be their self-interest in the Syrian civil war complicates the argument for deposing or weakening Assad.

Or, rather, it should complicate that argument. If an American proponent of going to war against the regime thinks that the cost to Syria’s religious minorities is one that they are tragically doomed to suffer for a greater good, he should say so. Or if he thinks that he knows what’s in their interest better than they do, he should say that. Likewise, an American advocate for Middle Eastern Christians needs to have an explanation if he supports a military campaign to topple the Syrian government.

So I disagree with Max Bloom, although I sympathize with what I take to be his wish to see Putin defeated. Max argues that the parallel between Iraq in 2003 and Syria in 2017 doesn’t stand up, but that’s not how Syrian Christians I read and speak with tend to see it. They are keenly aware that the secular regime of Saddam Hussein gave Iraqi Christians some protection. Since it fell, they’ve been persecuted to the point that the European Union and the U.S. State Department have formally recognized their plight as genocide. Many of the Christians currently in Syria fled there from Iraq. They see history repeating. Are they wrong?

Granted, Syrian Christians are not unanimous in their support for Assad. Many are vocal in their opposition, but they do not speak for the institutional churches in Syria and do not appear to speak for most Christians on the ground. An argument for defending Syria’s Christians while fighting Assad is not impossible, but those who assume it owe it to the rest of us to explain it.

I click on a lot of articles about the Syrian civil war. I search for the character string “chr” and almost always get zero results. Terry Mattingly, a journalist who specializes in media coverage of religion, is an American convert to the Antiochian Orthodox Church, based in Damascus. He expresses frustration at the absence of religious background in otherwise good reporting on events in Syria. “It’s impossible to tell many of these stories without including religion,” he writes. “Why even try?”

Bowled Over by a Book

by Jay Nordlinger

I guess I have more of a political bent than I do a literary one. I wish it weren’t so, but can we help it? All my life, I had read Mario Vargas Llosa — but his journalism. His essays. Interviews of him. That sort of thing. I admired him greatly, and I considered him one of the great classical liberals in Latin America. But I had never read a novel of his — the stuff that got him the Nobel prize.

I suppose I considered Vargas Llosa a political figure, primarily.

A friend gave me a novel by him. I laid it aside (as I do books). Then, some weeks later, I was shirking the reading I had to do, and my eyes fell on the novel. I picked it up, figuring I’d read a few pages.

I did. They were okay. I read a few more. They were okay. Then they were more than okay. And I couldn’t eat, sleep, or breathe until I was finished with the novel.

It is The Feast of the Goat, published in 2000 — a novel of Trujillo and his dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. It is a work of genius, pure and simple. I called David Pryce-Jones. I said, in effect, “Did you know that Vargas Llosa was a flat-out genius?” P-J is polite, but he said, in effect, “Uh, yeah. Where have you been?”

Today on the homepage, my column is devoted to notes on The Feast of the Goat, dictatorship, and man. See what you think, here.

P.S. In recent days, I have had two pieces at The New Criterion that may interest you. Here is one on a Russian pianist — not very well known — who lived from 1908 to 1978. Interesting, impossibly hard life. The pianist is Maria Grinberg, and she is great. There is a story in there about her patronymic — her middle name, so to speak — that you will eat up.

And here is a piece on Swan Lake: its unstalability. A couple of days ago, someone asked me, “What makes a great work of art great? Its universality?” Yes, I said, but also its unstalability: the fact that you can’t wear it out. That you can watch it or listen to it or read it again and again and again.

Dan Hannan and Conservatives International

by Jack Fowler

Our pal, the Conservative MEP and Brexit champion, is determined to engineer an honest-to-goodness global right-wing conspiracy. Minus the conspiracy. And he has done it with the free-market Conservatives International, which launched last month in Miami.

Dan’s keynote speech at the conference is worth your watching:

CI’s next effort is a trade conference next month in Kamapal (details here). 

Friday links

by debbywitt

Tomorrow (June 24) is the birthday of Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil’s Dictionary.

Caterpillars Recruit Friends with Anal Scraping. If you know of others who use the same method, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Lincoln Memorial Undercroft - A cavernous three-story, 43,800-square-foot basement that was forgotten about for 60 years. 

How To Steal Pizza Without Anyone Knowing.

How Much Businesses Pay To Get On Those Big Blue Exit Signs

These Massive Tunnels Were Dug By Giant Sloths.

ICYMI, Wednesday’s links are here, and include the history of the Aloha shirt, the first day of summer, why it’s called Area 51, the rural mail carriers who count wildlife on their routes, and how cats used humans to conquer the world.


by William W. Runyeon


A prayer well known and repeated,

and repeated, the mind focused on the words,

on the words, becomes an internal ceremony,

with little room, and then no room

for another thought; sooner or later

comes the moment when the focus is lost,

the words are lost, when the internal chant

comes up empty, comes to silence;

better silence than the meaning lost.

But when the words are lost,

across that vacant moment,

an image will follow, of Divinity,

of a sacred place, of Benevolence

accepting the devotion of a

weary humanity, prone to loss

of focus and of meaning, to the

wavering use of words, tending to

obscure and not to illuminate.

The silence becomes a light,

the silence turns to light,

that the loss might be redeemed;

picture without words, the figure

surprised in the clearing, become

as a candle of sunlight, by the breath

of contemplation turned to action,

so the loss of words may come to nothing.

– This poem appears in the July 10 print issue of NR.

The Rise of Jeremy Corbyn

by NR Staff

Here’s the cover of the new issue of National Review, out today for subscribers, featuring Michael Brendan Dougherty’s cover story on the rise of Jeremy Corbyn.

For this and more insight from the best conservative writers, subscribe to National Review’s digital magazine here, and print magazine here.

How Badly Do Democrats Really Want to Defeat Trump?

by Rich Lowry

I wrote about this question today in the context of the Georgia special election: 

There’s no doubt that Democrats want to watch TV programs that excoriate the president. They want to give money to candidates opposing him. They want to fantasize about frog-marching him straight from his impeachment proceedings to the nearest federal penitentiary. But do they want to do the one thing that would make it easier to win tough races in marginal areas, namely moderate on the cultural issue? Not so much. 

In retrospect, Jon Ossoff’s loss in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District was overdetermined. He didn’t live in the district. He had no record of public service. Youthful to a fault, he looked like he should have been running for class president. Yet it didn’t help that he was an orthodox liberal who conceded nothing on cultural issues, even though he was running in a Republican district in the South. 

In this, Ossoff merely reflected his party’s attitude. Stopping Trump is imperative, so long as it doesn’t require the party rethinking its uncompromising stance on abortion, guns or immigration. Every old rule should be thrown out in the cause of the resistance—except the tried-and-true orthodoxies on social issues. 

If Democrats had to choose between opposing an honest-to-goodness coup and endorsing a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, they’d probably have to think about it. And if they dared pick opposition to the coup, NARAL Pro Choice America would come after them hammer and tongs.

Harper’s Bazaar Author Peddles Debunked Stat to Promote Overseas Abortion

by Alexandra DeSanctis

In an effort to promote the global legalization of abortion, a number of articles published during the last few years have used the example of El Salvador to argue that “unsafe” abortions lead to the deaths of thousands of women each year. El Salvador prohibits abortion except in the rare cases when a woman’s life is at risk, a policy that is considered “unsafe” by abortion-rights activists.

To illustrate this assertion, each of the authors gestures at one particular data point: the supposed fact that 11 percent of abortions in El Salvador result in the death of the mother. This claim cropped up just this week in Harper’s Bazaar, but it has also been pushed by articles in Marie Claire, National Geographic, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, and Amnesty International.

Unfortunately for proponents of this argument, the 11-percent figure is incorrect, and the origin of these claims becomes evident after a careful review of the data in question. To begin with, nearly all of these articles cite a 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) study, which doesn’t in fact provide any details about El Salvador’s abortion rates or maternal-mortality rates.

The 2011 WHO study links to a maternal-mortality trend report, estimating that 110 expectant mothers in El Salvador died for every 100,000 live births in 2008. That yields .11 percent, and it doesn’t consider specifically abortion-related maternal deaths. So far, the oft-cited figure has yet to appear.

A closer look at the Harper’s Bazaar article provides us with some further clues. To bolster her use of the 11-percent statistic, the author cites a report from the pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), where we do find the claim that 11 percent of abortions in El Salvador between 1995 and 2000 were fatal for the mother.

The CRR then directs us to a Global Health Council (GHC) report, which estimates that there were 246,275 abortions in El Salvador from 1995 to 2000. If the 11-percent claim were correct, it would mean that, in a five-year span, over 27,000 Salvadoran mothers died as the result of abortion procedures.

That figure is almost absurd enough to dismiss on its face, but the GHC report goes on to put the final nail in the coffin, noting that during this five-year span only 209 women died from abortion. That’s .08 percent of 246,275, not 11 percent.

Another interesting note: The GHC report lists 1,885 total maternal deaths in El Salvador for the same period, which allows us to calculate that 11 percent of the country’s total maternal deaths were abortion-related. That statistic is evidently distinct from the claim that 11 percent of the country’s total abortions lead to maternal death.

Leaving aside the complicated questions surrounding maternal-mortality rates and abortion policy, it’s impossible to take abortion-rights activists seriously when they fail to substantiate their arguments with actual data and instead propound unfounded statistics to score political points.

Editor’s note: This article has been amended since its initial publication.

The Perverse Incentives in University Science Funding

by George Leef

When Troy Camplin and a co-researcher sought funding for a university institute devoted to the study of spontaneous orders, they were turned down. The provost declared that he just didn’t believe that complexity was worthy of scientific study. End of story.

That unhappy experience provides the back ground for Camplin’s Martin Center Clarion Call: “Perverse Incentives in Science: 21st Century Funding for 20th Century Research.”

Camplin explains,

Our institutions are dominated by those doing science in the current paradigm. Which is what we should in fact expect. But that means that most funding sources — whether government or private — are going to be conservative and fund the already-established rather than investigations into something that may not work out. And scientists tend to protect their turf against new ideas that could replace them.

One consequence is that lots of money flows into ideas that have already been researched well past the point of diminishing returns. Another is that science professors spend an inordinate amount of time writing grant proposals, at the expense of actually doing research.

Worse still, we are seeing the increasing politicization of science. Camplin writes,

Such politicization is also a perhaps unsurprising result of the breakdown of the old paradigm in science. When those with institutional power feel threatened, they tend to politicize the situation to try to retain that power. This is part of what happened with the recent March for Science, held in large cities around the country. It wasn’t really a march for science, but rather a march for politicized science in the current paradigm.

Camplin has identified a serious problem, but doesn’t have a solution for it. Eventually, he thinks, a new paradigm of funding will emerge, but until then we will suffer through a lot of waste and folly. (Dr. Michael Mann comes to mind as an example.)

Summer Reading

by Yuval Levin

Summer is here, and so is the new summer issue of National Affairs. It’s filled with thoughtful, timely essays on policy and political thought, from Sally Satel on how to understand the opioid crisis to Andy Smarick on how education is changing, Oren Cass on the mirages of “evidence-based policymaking,” Joshua McCabe on our polarized federalism, Arnold Kling on the state of economics, Richard Reinsch on our competing majorities, Michael Cooper on the fate of the rust belt, and much more—from taxing marijuana to the radicalization of our understanding of discrimination, the rhetoric of Black Lives Matter, and the legacy of Edward Banfield.  

Some are open to all, others only to subscribers—and hey, why not?

Netherlander Euthanasia Guru Bemoans His Handiwork

by Wesley J. Smith

Boudewijn Chabot was the Netherlander psychiatrist who assisted the suicide of a deeply depressed woman who wanted to die after the demise of her two children. All she wanted to do was be buried between them. Chabot met with her four times over several weeks–never engaged actual treatment–and then supplied her with poison pills, which she took. He watched as she died.

That led to a “prosecution.” I put the word in quotes because–as Chabot’s lawyer told me in an interview for my book Forced Exit–there was never any intention of actually imprisoning Chabot, or indeed, sanction him in any way. Rather, the purpose was to set a precedent to allow deep psychological suffering to justify euthanasia.

The gambit worked. The Supreme Court ruled, essentially, that suffering is suffering–and whether physical or emotional–IT is what justifies assisted suicide/euthanasia, not disease itself.

Twenty or so years later and Netherlander psychiatrists euthanize mentally ill patients, whose organs may be voluntarily harvested post-death.

Now, Chabot has been stricken by conscience. He notes that euthanasia groups have recruited psychiatrists to kill. From his article, “Worrisome Culture Shift in the Context of Self-Selected Death:”

Without a therapeutic relationship [ME: which he didn't really have, by the way], by far most psychiatrists cannot reliably determine whether a death wish is a serious, enduring desire. Even within a therapeutic relationship, it remains difficult. But a psychiatrist of the clinic can do so without a therapeutic relationship, with less than ten ‘in-depth’ conversations?

Hey, you opened this door: Own it! More:

In 2016, there were three reports of euthanasia of deep-demented persons who could not confirm their death wish. One of the three was identified as having been done without due care; her advance request could be interpreted in different ways. The execution was also done without due care; the doctor had first put a sedative in her coffee. When the patient was lying drowsily on her bed and was about to be given a high dose, she got up with fear in her eyes and had to be held down by family members. The doctor stated that she had continued the procedure very consciously.

Chabot looks at the social and moral wreckage he helped unleash and wonders:

Where did the Euthanasia Law go off the tracks? The euthanasia practice is running amok because the legal requirements which doctors can reasonably apply in the context of physically ill people, are being declared equally applicable without limitation in the context of vulnerable patients with incurable brain diseases.

In psychiatry, an essential limitation disappeared when the existence of a treatment relationship was no longer required. In the case of dementia, such a restriction disappeared by making the written advance request equivalent to an actual oral request.

And lastly, it really went off the tracks when the review committee concealed that incapacitated people were surreptitiously killed.

Please. It was all so predictable.  Heck, I predicted it.

Euthanasia consciousness changes mindsets. It alters societal morality. It distorts our views of the importance of vulnerable lives. It leads to abandonment and various forms of subtle and blatant coercion. 

Over time, it can’t be controlled.


‘They Are Never Talking About Issues Like Russia.’

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

‘They Are Never Talking About Issues Like Russia.’

“Our brand is worse than Trump.”

That quote from Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in the New York Times is going to get a lot of attention. For Republicans, that comment is a reason for glee; for Democrats, it is a devastating self-assessment that challenges them on an almost existential level.

But the comment that probably ought to spur even more thought in Democratic lawmakers’ offices is this one from Chris Murphy, who dares to utter the heretical thought that the preeminent obsession of Democrats since Election Day 2016 – the as-yet-unproven possibility of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – simply is a non-factor in the lives of most Americans:

“The fact that we have spent so much time talking about Russia has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether Ossoff’s defeat means the party should become more progressive, the senator responded that it’s more an issue of what they’re talking about. “When I’m back in Connecticut, I often get on a commuter bus and ride it for just an hour to talk to folks that don’t normally call my office or write my office,” Murphy explained. “They are never talking about issues like Russia. They are not talking, frankly, about what’s on cable news at night.”

Now, this idea that a party should only focus on “kitchen table issues” or what’s on the mind of the “common man” can be taken too far. There are a lot of issues that the average voter doesn’t think about much that are still important. The debt and deficit, the long-term outlook for entitlement programs, almost everything involving foreign relations that don’t involve the war on terrorism, cyber-security, most issues involving the judiciary and debates about interpreting the Constitution, most government regulations outside of a high-profile news story, the state of higher education institutions, most energy issues beyond gas prices… People tend to talk about anything that affects them directly or something that has been in the news a lot, particularly if there’s an element of human drama.

The New York Times article makes a fleeting reference that probably deserves more attention…

Part of the Democrats’ challenge now is that the jobless rate is low, and many of the districts they are targeting are a lot like the Georgia seat: thriving suburbs filled with voters who have only watched their portfolios grow since Mr. Trump took office.

Back in March, during his address to Congress, Trump boasted that the stock market had gained almost $3 trillion in value since his election; since then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen another couple hundred points. In other words, if you’re an investor, these are the good times. Your 401(k) probably looks better than you ever figured it would a year ago. Yes, the stock market could go down, and some analysts think it will. But for now, anyone who’s putting away money for retirement probably is feeling a little better about the future.

Ben Shapiro points out how apocalyptic modern political rhetoric is on both sides. How apocalyptic do you think those voters in those white-collar suburban Congressional districts feel?

California Court Dismisses 14 Criminal Charges against Center for Medical Progress

by Alexandra DeSanctis

This afternoon, the San Francisco Superior Court tossed out 14 of the 15 criminal charges that had been brought by the state of California against two journalists from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), after they released a series of undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s possible involvement in illegal fetal-tissue trafficking.

In late March, California attorney general Xavier Becerra charged David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt with 15 felony charges for recording what he deemed to be confidential communications. Today, a judge dismissed 14 of those charges, but will still consider the remaining fifteenth charge, against Merritt alone, for conspiring to invade privacy.

In a statement today, an official with the group representing Merritt said they are optimistic about having this charge dropped as well. He also pointed out that Becerra received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from both Planned Parenthood and NARAL during his time as a Democratic congressman.

More details from Life News:

The San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday dismissed 14 of 15 criminal counts but the pair are still charged with one count of conspiracy to invade privacy. However the court dismissed the charges with leave to amend — meaning Becerra could re-file the charges with additional supposed evidence against the pair.

The court ruled that counts 1-14 were legally insufficient. The state has the opportunity to amend if it can plead a more legally sufficient and specific complaint. The California’s Attorney General filed 15 criminal counts against Merritt, with counts 1-14 for each of the alleged interviews and count 15 for an alleged conspiracy. San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite gave the state attorney general’s office until mid-July to file a revised complaint.

Aside from being a victory for the freedom of the press, this decision is another big win for the CMP journalists — who were cleared of criminal charges last year in Texas, as well — vindicating them against the frequent claim from pro-abortion activists that they engaged in illegal activity and duplicitous editing of footage to falsely incriminate Planned Parenthood.

There is still a civil lawsuit on this matter pending in California, brought against the CMP by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation. Unlike these criminal charges, however, that suit does not carry the threat of jail time.

The Incomplete Media Narrative about a Murdered Muslim Girl

by Tiana Lowe

Early Sunday morning, a 22-year-old man bludgeoned a Muslim girl, Nabra Hassanen, to death with a metal baseball bat on her way home from an all-night Ramadan observance at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque. The murderer dumped the 17-year-old’s abaya-dressed corpse into a pond, where it was found by Fairfax County, Virginia authorities later that afternoon. Outrage ensued, as it rightly should, given a murder so savage, thuggish, and evil. Yet once again, the media wildly overstepped its bounds to craft a false narrative.

“Muslim Teen Kidnapped and Brutally Murdered in Virginia: This Is Terrorism” read a headline from Affinity magazine. Actress and producer Mindy Kaling also decried the murder on Facebook as “another innocent Muslim person targeted for their faith.” The Atlantic then ran a profile, “‘Muslims Feel Under Siege’” highlighting Islamophobia around Ramadan. Many stories used Hassanen’s murder as a lede to foray into a greater narrative about the collective crisis of violence against Muslims.

But then actual facts and details around the case emerged. First, the Fairfax County Police Department publicly ruled out a hate crime as a motive, announcing that they were looking more closely into extreme road rage. Then, the Daily Caller reported that the murderer, Darwin Martinez Torres, was an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, with ICE confirming that it had issued a detainer request against him. Reports subsequently emerged that Torres, who has a girlfriend and son, barely speaks English and required the use of a translator following his arrest.

On these developments, the media has maintained near-complete radio silence. A Fusion piece reporting that the police ruled out anti-Muslim bias as a motive was still tagged as “Islamaphobia,” and did not include the identity of the killer. They declined to even label Torres a “white Hispanic” illegal immigrant!

That Torres’s motive was not as initially reported should make the murder no less enraging. And nor should his immigration status make it any more deplorable. But any conversation about Nabra Hassanen, be it about hate crimes or immigration policies, will inevitably be half-baked if we’re only served half-truths.


This Acquittal Was Correct — Jury Exonerates Cop in Milwaukee Shooting

by David French

Each police shooting has to be evaluated on its own facts Today, a Milwaukee jury rightly acquitted former police officer Dominique Heaggen-Brown in the 2016 shooting of Sylville Smith — a shooting that led to unrest in the city. This case was markedly different from the Philando Castile shooting, and the prosecution was highly problematic. 

Smith ran from a traffic stop, approached a chain-link fence, and turned to face the pursuing officers, gun in hand. Heaggan-Brown fired his first shot — a shot the prosecution conceded was lawful — and then fired the second, fatal shot less than two seconds later, just after Smith had thrown away his pistol. The prosecution claimed that the second shot constituted reckless homicide. 

The problem with the prosecution is obvious. A police officer who reasonably perceives a mortal threat (as the officer did here) doesn’t shoot, reflect, observe, and shoot again. He shoots until the threat is neutralized. The officer’s expert witness was right:

The defense rested Monday after calling its lone witness, Robert Willis, an expert in police use of force, according to WISN.

Willis testified that Heaggan-Brown acted in “accordance with his training,” CNN affiliate WTMJ-TV reported.

His testimony centered on the 1.69 seconds separating the two shots. He testified the officer’s decision to fire again was made before he even pulled the trigger. The second shot was justified, Willis told the jury, because officers are trained to assume a suspect may have more than one weapon.

Heaggan-Brown experienced the encounter in “real time,” not in frame-by-frame motion as it was shown to the jury, Willis said, according to WTMJ.

“So when we see the trigger being pulled, we have to not consider that the moment of decision,” he said. “It’s not. We have to go back — and I can’t tell exactly how many frames but we have to go back two-tenths or three-tenths of a second — we have to go back several frames … to delve into the decision-making process that goes into firing this shot.”

The officer chose his witness well. According to CNN, Willis “wrote the use of force manual used by Milwaukee police officers.”

Smith’s confrontation with police created exactly the situation the law is designed to address. We can’t impute god-like perception to police officers, and the split-second reasonable decision to fire on an armed suspect isn’t something that has to be reconsidered with every pull of the trigger. In this case, the jury reached the just result.