Mark Steyn's Blog
April 15, 2013
Further to Andy's and Shannen's notes on abortion and language, I see that even those commentators tipping a belated toe into the sewage of the Gosnell trial still can't bring themselves to address what the guy did. Howard Kurtz mentioned it on CNN yesterday - except that, in one crucial sense, he didn't:
But just a couple sentences after agreeing the media hasn't given the story enough attention, Kurtz accidentally revealed why. He says "Kermit Gosnell is on trial for allegedly running a house of horrors, storing all kinds of mutilated fetuses, some of which were brutally killed." [Emphasis added.]
Fetuses? Gosnell is not on trial for murdering fetuses, he's on trial for murdering babies (and one adult woman). Here are the first two lines of the grand jury report "This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors."
One one hand I'm sure this was just a slip of the tongue, but I think it's fair to say in this case--the Kermit Gosnell case--the line between fetus and baby is decidedly not a minor rhetorical point.
No, it's not. This guy is on trial for killing babies. There's no argument about this. No one's accusing Gosnell of killing "blobs of matter" - that's perfectly legal in America, and it's the biggest fetus-killing machine in the western world. But this case is about babies: it's in the first sentence of the first page of the first section of the grand jury report. And, if you can't even bring yourself to use the B-word in those circumstances, you're part of the problem.
Our NR colleague Ross Douthat wrote about the media and the Gosnell trial in The New York Times yesterday. The word "baby" does not appear. Instead:
It’s how you end up with a press corps that went all-in for the supposed “war on women” having to be shamed and harassed — by two writers in particular, Kirsten Powers in USA Today and Mollie Ziegler Hemingway of GetReligion — into paying attention to the grisly case of a Philadelphia doctor whose methods of late-term abortion included snipping the spines of neonates after they were delivered.
"Neonates"? I wonder if that was Mr Douthat's word, or a compromise painfully negotiated with his alert editors at the Times. Ah, what a lovely neonate; she's got your eyes.
So now we've advanced linguistically from euphemisms for abortion to evasions for infanticide. Progress! By the time the President weighs in and says that if he had a male neonate he'd look like the contents of Gosnell's refrigerator, we'll hardly notice it.
April 13, 2013
Santorum’s respect for all life, including even the smallest bleakest meanest two-hour life, speaks well for him, especially in comparison with his fellow Pennsylvanian, the accused mass murderer Kermit Gosnell, an industrial-scale abortionist at a Philadelphia charnel house who plunged scissors into the spinal cords of healthy delivered babies. Few of Gosnell’s employees seemed to find anything “weird” about that: Indeed, they helped him out by tossing their remains in jars and bags piled up in freezers and cupboards.
That's what pro-choicers like Donna Brazile need to ask themselves: Why is it "weird" to think that in a civilized society plunging scissors into the spinal cords of dozens and dozens of healthy, delivered babies ought to be front-page and network news?
@daveweigel Meh. The story needn't be nationalized. It's being used to attack reproductive health care for women.
— mcbyrne (@mcbyrne) April 12, 2013
Here is the District Attorney's report to the grand jury*. Look at the bodies on pages 85 and 102, or the severed feet on page 74, or the head with "snipped" neck on page 115.
But as Ms Byrne and too much of America says, meh.
And so a progressive society evolves, from the me-generation to the meh-generation.
[*Actually, the report of the grand jury. My apologies for the error. I'm happy to say, unlike my friend Conrad Black, I have a limited acquaintance with the US justice system.]
At Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald demands to know:
On Gosnell “blackout,” where were conservatives before this week?
Well, here's where I was:
This is a remarkable moment in American life: A man is killing actual living, gurgling, bouncing babies on an industrial scale - and it barely makes the papers.
That was February 10th 2011 - or, in pro-choice terms, nine trimesters ago.
Mr Seitz-Wald adds:
A search of the National Review’s website shows it’s written little on Gosnell.
Here's what I wrote here almost a month ago, on March 20th:
Gosnell’s murderous regime in Philadelphia reflects on him. The case’s all but total absence from the public discourse reflects on America.
There are over 800 comments on that post, so, even if Seitz-Wald was flummoxed by the whimsies of the NR search engine, evidently plenty of others weren't. I will grant his silly argument this - that no doubt there are many so-called conservatives who reflexively shy away from stories like these because they're cowed by the broader culture into feeling it's somehow uptight, provincial and problematic in image terms to be seen to make a fuss about a mountain of dead babies. As Andy's powerful column reminds us this weekend, the left is brilliant at framing the debate in language that demoralizes too much of the right into pre-emptive surrender.
But some of us have argued a consistent position on this case for over two years now: Relatively few people wish to commit mass murder on the scale of Gosnell - that's the good news. The bad news is that the vast ranks of newspaper publishers, TV executives, editors, news producers, radio assignment editors, and reporters somehow reached an instant, near universal consensus that a man who may well be America's all-time champion mass murderer isn't a story at all, never mind one to hold the front page for. Because they didn't see him as a murderer, they saw him as a "choice-provider" who got a little out of hand.
That's a dark, disturbing stain on our culture and our morality. It says nothing good about where we're headed as a society - and all the dreary misdirection from the likes of Salon can't change that.
April 12, 2013
A few hours after Margaret Thatcher’s death on Monday, the snarling deadbeats of the British underclass were gleefully rampaging through the streets of Brixton in South London, scaling the marquee of the local fleapit and hanging a banner announcing, “THE BITCH IS DEAD.” Amazingly, they managed to spell all four words correctly. By Friday, “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” from The Wizard of Oz, was the No. 1 download at Amazon U.K.
Mrs. Thatcher would have enjoyed all this. Her former speechwriter John O’Sullivan recalls how, some years after leaving office, she arrived to address a small group at an English seaside resort to be greeted by enraged lefties chanting “Thatcher Thatcher Thatcher! Fascist fascist fascist!” She turned to her aide and cooed, “Oh, doesn’t it make you feel nostalgic?” She was said to be delighted to hear that a concession stand at last year’s Trades Union Congress was doing a brisk business in “Thatcher Death Party Packs,” almost a quarter-century after her departure from office.#ad#
Of course, it would have been asking too much of Britain’s torpid Left to rouse themselves to do anything more than sing a few songs and smash a few windows. In The Wizard of Oz, the witch is struck down at the height of her powers by Dorothy’s shack descending from Kansas to relieve the Munchkins of their torments. By comparison, Britain’s Moochkins were unable to bring the house down: Mrs. Thatcher died in her bed at the Ritz at a grand old age. Useless as they are, British socialists were at one point capable of writing their own anti-Thatcher singalongs rather than lazily appropriating Judy Garland blockbusters from MGM’s back catalogue. I recall in the late Eighties being at the National Theatre in London and watching the crowd go wild over Adrian Mitchell’s showstopper, “F**k-Off Friday,” a song about union workers getting their redundancy notices at the end of the week, culminating with the lines:
“I can’t wait for
That great day when
Comes to Number Ten.”
You should have heard the cheers.
Alas, when F**k-Off Friday did come to 10 Downing Street, it was not the Labour party’s tribunes of the masses who evicted her but the duplicitous scheming twerps of her own cabinet, who rose up against her in an act of matricide from which the Tory party has yet to recover. In the preferred euphemism of the American press, Mrs. Thatcher was a “divisive” figure, but that hardly does her justice. She was “divided” not only from the opposition party but from most of her own, and from almost the entire British establishment, including the publicly funded arts panjandrums who ran the likes of the National Theatre and cheerfully commissioned one anti-Thatcher diatribe after another at taxpayer expense. And she was profoundly “divided” from millions and millions of the British people, perhaps a majority.
Nevertheless, she won. In Britain in the Seventies, everything that could be nationalized had been nationalized, into a phalanx of lumpen government monopolies all flying the moth-eaten flag: British Steel, British Coal, British Airways, British Rail#...#The government owned every industry -- or, if you prefer, “the British people” owned every industry. And, as a consequence, the unions owned the British people. The top income-tax rate was 83 percent, and on investment income 98 percent. No electorally viable politician now thinks the government should run airlines and car plants and that workers should live their entire lives in government housing. But what seems obvious to all in 2013 was the bipartisan consensus four decades ago, and it required an extraordinary political will for one woman to drag her own party, then the nation, and subsequently much of the rest of the world back from the cliff edge.
Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles -- although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural twelve-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was. She was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain’s most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war, but as much as in 1940 faced an existential threat.
Mrs. Thatcher saved her country -- and then went on to save a shriveling “free world,” and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off -- as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the “leader of the free world” as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable? #page#
And, even when Mrs. Thatcher won her victory, the civilizational cringe of the West was so strong that all the experts immediately urged her to throw it away and reward the Argentine junta for its aggression. “We were prepared to negotiate before” she responded, “but not now. We have lost a lot of blood, and it’s the best blood.” Or as a British sergeant said of the Falklands: “If they’re worth fighting for, then they must be worth keeping.”
Mrs. Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for, at a time when everyone else assumed decline was inevitable. Some years ago, I found myself standing next to her at dusk in the window of a country house in the English East Midlands, not far from where she grew up. We stared through the lead diamond mullions at a perfect scene of ancient rural tranquility -- lawns, the “ha-ha” (an English horticultural innovation), and the fields and hedgerows beyond, looking much as it would have done half a millennium earlier. Mrs. T asked me about my corner of New Hampshire (90 percent wooded and semi-wilderness) and then said that what she loved about the English countryside was that man had improved on nature: “England’s green and pleasant land” looked better because the English had been there. For anyone with a sense of history’s sweep, the strike-ridden socialist basket case of the British Seventies was not an economic downturn but a stain on national honor.#ad#
A generation on, the Thatcher era seems more and more like a magnificent but temporary interlude in a great nation’s bizarre, remorseless self-dissolution. She was right and they were wrong, and because of that they will never forgive her. “I have been waiting for that witch to die for 30 years,” said Julian Styles, 58, who was laid off from his factory job in 1984, when he was 29. “Tonight is party time. I am drinking one drink for every year I’ve been out of work.” And when they call last orders and the final chorus of “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” dies away, who then will he blame?
During the Falklands War, the prime minister quoted Shakespeare, from the closing words of King John:
“And we shall shock them: naught shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true.”
For eleven tumultuous years, Margaret Thatcher did shock them. But the deep corrosion of a nation is hard to reverse: England to itself rests anything but true.
April 10, 2013
The Preezy of the United Steezy's willingness to slow-jam the news with Jimmy Fallon and groove around Ellen's dance floor is widely considered to have played a part in his margin of victory last November.
But, to be honest, I prefer Mrs Thatcher's attitude when a third-rate Swedish telly celeb tries to inveigle the PM into reducing herself into just another lo-rent airtime-filler. Her response when informed that "Gorbachev did it" is especially fine. The Iron Lady is no Preemy of the United Keemy.
(PS Link fixed. Sorry about that.)
April 9, 2013
There used to be a formulation of cynical news editors to determine American news priorities for mass murder. It ran something like: 1,000 dead Bangladeshis = 100 dead Italians = 10 dead Americans.
So how many dead American babies does it take to make the news? I wrote two-and-a-half weeks ago about the U.S. media's determination to ignore a story that's inconvenient to their biases. But, given the gun-banners' ceaseless grief-feasting on Sandy Hook, at some point doesn't the corpse count in Philadelphia merit maybe, oh, a thousandth of the attention?
He also claimed he saw about 100 babies born alive and then 'snipped' with surgical scissors in the back of the neck, to ensure their 'demise'.
That's from a story about Gosnell's Pennsylvania abattoir in the Daily Mail, a British newspaper doing the job American media won't do. Headline:
'Fetuses And Blood All Over The Place': Medic's Graphic Account Of 'Beheading Live Babies' At Abortion 'House Of Horrors' In Philadelphia
More dead baby testimony:
There an 18-to-24-inch baby, who did not yet have eyes, was lying in a clear glass pan, she recalled in horror. It was “screeching, making this noise” that “sounded like a little alien," she said. It “really freaked me out,” she said, causing her to leave the room.
Sorry it "freaked you out," but as the Pundette comments:
"Making this noise" "like an alien"? That's called crying. It's what human babies do when they're in distress, in this case, the ultimate distress. The "aliens" here are the inhuman monsters who caused that distress.
So . . . if a baby screams during an outside-the-uterus "abortion," does it make a sound? Or, to put it another way, if an abortionist goes on trial for murdering infants, but the media refuses to cover it, is it really happening?
The U.S. media's unanimous agreement to see no evil is sick and totalitarian. A very small consolation is that, with news judgments like these, the wretched American press is doing a pretty good job of sawing through its own neck.
Further to Andrew's post below, less actively activist Thatcher-haters contented themselves yesterday with creating a #nowthatcherisdead hashtag as a one-stop shop for gleeful if witless Tweets. Unfortunately, this being the "knowledge economy" and "information age" and all, fellow Tweeters read it as "now that cher is dead", and responded accordingly:
Craig Morrison @craig_mo5
Not sure Cher was Maggie's cup of tea. To the best of my knowledge, Mrs T's favorite songs were "Baby, It's Cold Outside", "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?", and Rolf Harris' classic "Two Little Boys".
April 8, 2013
Mrs. Thatcher's predecessor as prime minister, the amiable but forgotten Sunny Jim Callaghan, once confided to a friend of mine that he thought Britain's decline was irreversible and that the government's job was to manage it as gracefully as possible. By 1979, even this modest aim seemed beyond the capabilities of the British establishment, and the nation turned to a woman who was one of the few even in a supposedly "conservative" party not to subscribe to the Callaghan thesis. She reversed the decline, at home and overseas. The Falklands War, inconsequential in and of itself, had a huge global significance: After Vietnam, the fall of the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, and Soviet annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Grenada, the British routing of the Argentine junta stunned everyone from the politburo in Moscow to their nickel ’n’ dime clients in the presidential palaces, all of whom had figured the "free world" no longer had any fight in it.
As for the domestic front, on the silver jubilee of her premiership, I wrote an assessment in the Telegraph:
Just after the Fall of Thatcher, I was in the pub enjoying a drink with her daughter Carol after a little light radio work. A fellow patron, a "radical" "poet", decided to have a go at her in loco parentis, which is Latin for "in the absence of her loco parent". After reciting a long catalogue of Mrs Thatcher's various crimes, he leant into Carol, nose to nose, and summed it all up: "Basically, your mum just totally smashed the working classes."
Carol was a jolly good sport about it, as always. And it has to be said that this terrible indictment loses a lot of its force when you replace "Vatcher" -- a word the snarling tribunes of the masses could effortlessly spit down the length of the bar -- with "your mum".
On the other hand, he had a point: basically, her mum did just totally smash the working classes.
That's to say, she understood that the biggest threat to any viable future for Britain was a unionized public sector that had awarded itself a lifestyle it wasn't willing to earn. So she picked a fight with it, and made sure she won. In the pre-Thatcher era, union leaders were household names, mainly because they were responsible for everything your household lacked. Britain's system of government was summed up in the unlovely phrase "beer and sandwiches at Number Ten" — which meant union grandees showing up at Downing Street to discuss what it would take to persuade them not to go on strike, and being plied with the aforementioned refreshments by a prime minister reduced to the proprietor of a seedy pub, with the Cabinet as his barmaids.
In 1990, when Mrs. Thatcher was evicted from office by her ingrate party's act of matricide, the difference she'd made was such that in all the political panel discussions on TV that evening no producer thought to invite any union leaders. No one knew their names anymore.
That's the difference between a real Terminator, and a poseur like Schwarzenegger.
As to the force of her personality, at the Commonwealth Conference in (I think) Vancouver a couple of decades ago, they had a "dress-down Friday" thing for the final day: the chaps from Oz, Canada, Belize, Papua New Guinea, and whatnot showed up in slacks and open-necked shirts, and then Mrs Thatcher came downstairs dressed in the usual big blue power suit with the Eighties shoulder pads. I think it was Bob Hawke, the Aussie PM, who observed, "Forty-nine blokes in the right dress code, and one woman who isn't. And she made us feel like the ones who'd got it wrong."
The term "rest in peace" doesn't seem quite right for Margaret Thatcher. I hope upstairs they're getting out an extra large tumbler, and readying for some vigorous debate into the small hours.
April 7, 2013
Now that there seems to be a certain change in the climate of opinion after decades of ecopalytic hysteria, and Michael Mann's hockey stick has a bad case of ED, my fellow "climate denier" James Delingpole suggests it might be time for the global warm-mongers to face a Climate Nuremberg. He takes the precaution of adding:
But please note, all you slower trolls beneath the bridge, that when I say Climate Nuremberg I use the phrase metaphorically.
As someone currently being sued by the world's most litigious fantasy Nobel laureate over use of the phrase “tree-ring circus,” I could have told Delingpole that attempts to explain common literary devices would cut no Antarctic ice with this crowd. And sure enough, the shrieking ninnies at Climate Progress are having none of it.