Veterans of the pro-life movement will remember Joe Barrett. No, they will find it impossible to forget Joe Barrett. Barrett, who died last week at 71, was described as a stormy petrel. That’s too pale, too pastel. Try screaming eagle. He was forever urging us to fight. He liked to compare politics to a barroom brawl: “Just walk in, throw the first punch, and see who lines up on your side.”
Joe had some unfortunate prejudices. He didn’t like Protestants, Republicans, or Yankees. William Allen White was all three of those things. White was a Kansas editor who wrote about FDR the day he died: “We who hate your gaudy guts salute you.”
I never hated Joe’s gaudy guts. But he was nothing if not gaudy and gutsy. Joe loved marching into Paul Weyrich’s weekly meetings on Capitol Hill-especially if someone from the Bush White House was there, or perhaps a congressional GOP leader. He would start off a blast: “The trouble with you Republicans…”
Joe’s threw his best punch at the Republican bosses in Pennsylvania. The year was 1990. It was the year after a feckless White House response to the Supreme Court’s Webster decision. The pro-life movement throughout the country seemed to be on the ropes. Forty-plus weak pro-lifers in the U.S. House of Representatives, most of them Republicans-turned coat.
Joe saw an opportunity to take a stand for the unborn in the Keystone State. Gov. Bob Casey was a Democrat and quietly pro-life. Casey was running for re-election. In Arlen Specter’s home state, the Republican suits put forward State Auditor Barbara Hafer, a loudly pro-abortion candidate.
Joe wasn’t going to go gently into that good fight. He swung into action and spearheaded a challenge to the establishment by Peg Luksik, a political unknown. Joe knew how to organize a political campaign at the grassroots level. He knew how to count votes. Peg’s campaign had enthusiasm, spirit, and pluck. Lots of pluck—-and no money.
Still, Peg Luksik managed to win nearly 46% of the vote in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary that year. She didn’t win. What she did was even better. She showed the strength of the pro-life cause at the grassroots. Her near-victory made professional pols around the country sit up and take notice. She made possible the landslide re-election of Gov. Casey as an unapologetic pro-lifer. Peg’s strong showing breathed life into the pro-life movement-not just in Pennsylvania, but across the country.
Casey had been elected Governor the first time with just 50% of the vote. Seeing what Peg Luksik and Joe Barrett had done, Casey spoke out more strongly for the unborn. He was re-elected by an astounding 67% in 1990. That translated to 2,065,281 votes. No Pennsylvania governor had ever won by such a margin before. And because he was so strong in his pro-life commitment, Casey earned the contempt of the Clintons. They banned him from speaking at their 1992 national convention in New York.
As they used to say of that good Democrat, Grover Cleveland, we love him for the enemies he made. Joe Barrett was happy to make you some enemies if you didn’t already have enough.
Bob Casey’s voice is sorely missed today. For all the talk of dialogues under Golden Domes, who speaks for the most vulnerable among us, who cries out in defense of the defenseless, who gives voice to the voiceless? Bob Casey did. And so did Joe Barrett.
Before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and before he took the soup, Daniel Patrick Moynihan said,”What’s the use of being Irish if you don’t know the world will someday break your heart?”
Joe Barrett’s heart was broken by what was happening in this country. He cared, too, about human rights in the North of Ireland and about the needs of our returning veterans. Maybe he fought so hard for the wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital because Joe was himself a wounded warrior. He was very Irish, faithfully Catholic, and all-American.
I thank God for Joe’s being in my life. And I thank God for the life that was in Joe.
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen square massacre in Beijing. When BBC reporter James Reynolds tried to enter the square to cover any memorials that might be taking place, he was met with resistance and a bizarre display of what can only be described as umbrella censorship:
The earpiece-umbrella guys are indeed weird, but it’s a sign of the times that apparatchiki would be wearing shorts and alien T-shirts.
President Obama took a lot of political heat from the Clintons last year for saying that Ronald Reagan was a “transformational president.” He was saying to liberal activists: I will be your Reagan. In terms of his formidable communications skills, his self confidence, his dazzling smile, his buoyant optimism, there is certainly much in Obama’s style compare with Reagan. As we today dedicate a statue of President Reagan in the Capitol Rotunda, however, Obama continues his apology tour. Nothing in his core message could be more Un-Reagan. Obama’s in Saudi Arabia now. Tomorrow, he’s slated to speak in Egypt. Having said America is not a Christian nation, he tells the world the U.S. is “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” He should have checked with his own appointee, Leon Panetta, at the CIA. If you take the latest extensive survey of religious identification, Muslims may be as few as 0.6% of Americans*. This could put more than fifty nations ahead of the U.S. in terms of Muslim population.
Reagan never apologized for America. Reagan did embrace the Russian people, and millions of others living in captivity behind the Iron Curtain. But he had no hesitation in calling the Soviet regime “an evil empire.” Reagan stood for human rights and religious liberty. First and foremost, Reagan sought to free Americans from a government that taxes too much and spends too much. Even his harshest liberal critics-and all liberals were his critics-admitted that Ronald Reagan was a Great Communicator. But there was more to him. Reagan communicated powerfully because he believed in timeless American principles. It’s not clear that Obama understands his own country, much less captive peoples around the world.
UPDATE/CORRECTION (6/4): This post originally cited press reports of six million Muslims in the U.S. But the American Religious Identification Survey (March 2009) published by Trinity College found 1,349,000 Muslims in the U.S. (0.6%)
On Monday in an interview with French journalist, Laura Haim, President Obama spoke about the purpose for his trip to the Middle East. During the interview, which you can read on the White House website, the President stated the following:
…I think that the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam. And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there’s got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples.
In April, on his trip to Turkey, President Obama said, “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation…”
So, according to President Obama we are not a Christian nation, but we are one of the largest Muslim countries in the world?
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales thinks you should curb your lifestyle. Britons, Europeans, Americans, according to the latest internet video message from this eminent royal personage, are endangering the planet with our penchant for high living.
It’s not just our caviar, our pate de foie gras, our champagne and oysters, not just our castles and hunting preserves, not just our private yachts and private jets, nor even our stables of race horses—it’s us. There are simply too many of us. And, worse, we persist in having more of us. Children. Horrors!
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales thinks you should think twice about how your very being is threatening the Amazon Rain Forest and bringing about “climate change.” (Climate change is the latest evolution in the thinking of the right thinking elites about what they don’t like about us.) It used to be called Global Warming. But that’s so nineties, when it was actually warming. When too many reputable scientists raised their minority voices about warming, they sure felt the heat. Now, it’s always Climate Change. If you don’t think the climate is changing, just step outside, you denier.
It’s not only His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales who is concerned. Sir David Attenborough is also worried. For American readers, Sir David is a cross between Dan Rather and Carl Sagan. He’s a really big wig. He’s the man who brought color television to Britain. (Was that a good thing?) Sir David has used color TV to bring to his adoring audiences nothing less than Planet Earth. Every bug and beetle, every bird and butterfly has been beautifully captured on film and delivered to the masses by Sir David. But now, he’s having second, and even third, thoughts. He wants the British to have fewer John and Jane Bulls. He thinks Britain’s population explosion is “frightening.” He’s signed on to every population control outfit he can find. Most visitors to modern Britain are struck by the large and growing number of non-British people there are in Old Blighty.
Not Sir David. Away with them all. He and the Queen of Hearts would have made quite the pair: “Off with their heads.”That’ll stop them multiplying.
I have some personal history with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Several decades back, I was assigned to be part of a Coast Guard honor guard that was also a body guard for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. On a royal visit to San Francisco, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was threatened by the IRA underground operating out of Berkeley. They were going to blow him up.
For weeks, we Coasties were trained by detectives from Britain’s very professional police, Scotland Yard. They planned every move, every step His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales would take. They never referred to him as “he.” Never as “The Prince.”
It was always “His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.” That unvarying usage was unnerving. Almost as if they were from the other side of Churchill’s famous Iron Curtain.
When the eventful day came, we lined up at Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco. When the chartered jet of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales landed, it seemed to us it was ten minutes ahead of shedyool. Not so. The jet taxied at a leisurely pace more than two miles to the end of the runway. Then, it turned and processed back to the point of disembarkation.
Outside the cockpit of the jet we saw two flags fluttering-the Union Jack and the Royal Standard of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. I’d seen official limousines in Washington and New York with such flags, but this was unique. Since the jet could not fly with those flags flapping in the breeze, the entire purpose of the ten-minute maneuver to the end of the runway was to position those flags. What a stately procession it was. More than thirty years later, I vividly recall the impression the entrance of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales made on me. That was what it was intended to do.
Imagine the last three decades of royal progresses, royal “walkabouts,” royal safaris, all taken in royal jets, with royal standards fluttering. Envision those jets taxiing to the ends of all those runways, just so they can affix the flags that make such impressions on the happy natives.
Isn’t it marvelous that none of those jets used any jet fuel at all? Think how many royals earth could accommodate if there none of us here! Their carbon footprint could be as big as Gulliver’s if there were none of us Lilliputians mucking up the planet. But who would there be to shield His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales with our own bodies? And who would there be to cheer His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales? The more I think of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the more I think Diana should have kissed a different frog.
In the latest Mapping America, the National Survey of Children’s Health shows that children from intact families who worship at least monthly are less likely to have their school report behavior problems to their parents than are children who live in non-intact households and worship less than monthly.