Human Life Review Blog

Scroll through our blog to find great articles and commentary on current life issues.

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Archbishop Viganó Might Make a Good Pope

    After many years of sex scandals in the Catholic Church, someone finally blew the whistle in a way that could not be ignored. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, a retired Vatican envoy to the United States, said on August 22nd that Pope Francis should resign because he...
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A Penitent Church Will Vanquish Abortion

  The scandals within the Catholic Church in the past months have had the effect of a neutron bomb. The buildings remain, but life within the Church has been irradiated. Priests continue to say Mass, and a remnant of the faithful still attend, but we are the walking dead....
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Can We Want a Baby Too Much?

Even good things—perhaps especially good things—can be desired too much, or in the wrong way, or potentially so. Take babies, for instance. To be specific, take Rose, the baby daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Devotees of the Little House on the Prairie series of frontier books...
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Sex Dolls and Pandemic Loneliness

  Casey Calvert is an adult-film actress in Los Angeles. She stars in pornographic movies which are shot at film studios, but half of her income, according to a recent BuzzFeed article, now comes from “personalized porn.” What is “personalized porn”? For anywhere from a...
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An Old Thomistic Joke

  Two followers of St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy walk into a bar to discuss the sad state of the world, trying to outdo one another in describing the greatest evils. They finally arrive at what seems like the worst person doing the most horrible deed, a Kermit Gosnell...
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Rediscovering that Rare, Beautiful Thing: The Summer Argument

It was the perfect mid-summer headline: “Terror as Amusement Park Ride Unable to Stop.” Our worst nightmare is not strange aliens, nuclear annihilation, the bizarre, or the fantastical. It is that we are doomed to live in the small space of our own vision; condemned to remain...
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Humanae Vitae At 50

On July 25, Catholics worldwide marked the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae (Of Human Life). Written in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Humanae vitae was intended to consider whether the “Pill”—a newly developed contraceptive that suppressed...
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Shedding Light on Depression’s Darkness

On June 9th, at the end of the week in which both designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain died by suicide, I wrote a Facebook post: It’s been an emotionally wrenching week in many ways. As a woman who struggles with anxiety, phobias, and once (blessedly only once...
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“Please Stop, before It’s Too Late.”

  My community is among those in Appalachia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania hit hard by opioid abuse. The emergency medical technicians tell me they get from one to three overdose calls daily. Rarely does a month go by without a funeral for some young or middle-aged man, or...
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Pro-life Is All In

Several years ago, I used to spend a couple of hours on Friday afternoons praying outside the main Planned Parenthood facility in Madison, Wisconsin. There were usually just two or three of us on the sidewalk: myself, and one or two counselors trained to approach at-risk women as...
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Italy’s New Pro-life Minister for Families Hits the Ground Running!

After much travail a new coalition government in Italy was sworn in on June 1st. The two new parties that garnered the most votes will rule in a coalition that also includes a few nonparty members. The new Prime Minister is Giuseppe Conte, a law professor from the University of...
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empty mirror

The Unfit Mother

Questioning the pro-choice orthodoxy unleashes howls of empty rhetoric, because indoctrinated people cannot listen anymore. “Don’t tell me what your religion demands I do with my life!” “You and your ilk . . .” (My ilk?) “Abortion does not murder women’s souls!” Yes, it does....
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Pro-Choicers Erase the Child

  Most editors would have let it go. The young writer had described a law “allowing abortion up to 12 weeks.” She believed strongly in the right to life, but she was writing with journalistic efficiency, and her editors evaluated her work by a readability score. She used the...
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The Impossible Expectations Placed on Parents

  Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Hate Them is a no-nonsense chapter title from Jordan Peterson’s recent bestseller, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. And it exemplifies the sort of clear-eyed truth-telling that has earned Peterson the reputation...
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Pearl Joy Brown (July 27, 2012-March 29, 2018)

. . . the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.—Mt 13:45-46 Misery loves company. A cynic might say that’s why I became obsessed with Eric Brown’s social...
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The Pro-Life Sincerity—and Irony—of Pope Francis

  Pope Francis perhaps puzzles prolifers. For decades, the Catholic Church supported the pro-life movement both institutionally and philosophically. Francis, however, adopted a critical posture, complaining of Catholics’ “obsession” with abortion. Prolifers have often...
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Welcome Eurobabies!

Eurostat, the European statistical office, recently released data showing that in 2016 there were 5,148,162 babies born in the European Union, pushing the fertility rate up slightly for the first time in several years. This was good news for an area of the world better known for...
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Special Needs, Hidden Treasures

  I mark my calendar a year in advance for the annual Sisters of Life Gala in New York City. If you have been fortunate enough to attend, you understand why. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I encourage you to get there at least once in your life. It’s a magical evening...
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Saint Mugg in a Nutshell

  One fine day in October of 1978 I boarded a train that would take me from Waterloo, Ontario, to Toronto. A kind looking lady shared my compartment. Initiating conversation, she told me about her enthusiasm for the writings of Malcolm Muggeridge, an Englishman regarded by...
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We Must Rebrand Ourselves as Anti-Abortion

  From the beginning, many in the pro-life movement have been restrained, even apologetic in their presentation of abortion to the public. Many still recoil at the idea of showing pictures of the victims, because, they say, it is too aggressive. But the self-identification...
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“You Are Worthy”

  Once upon a time, a fairy princess waited for her prince to save her: from captivity, a wicked stepmother, maybe even an annoying dwarf sneezing on her. No matter what, the lovely young woman needed a man to help her out of a jam. Fast forward to today, where the “fairer...
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Thinking Through Kevin Williamson’s Abortion Remark

  An irony of the recent contretemps over Kevin Williamson is that a writer who delivers such a high ratio of originality to conventional wisdom would become the subject of so much repetition of ideological boilerplate. Four years ago, Williamson wrote in a Twitter exchange...
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Time Travel and Battling Evil

  Lately my grandson’s interest in the Marvel and DC comics world of superheroes has been turning his mind to the conundrums of time travel and the intricacies of rewriting the past. My own pop-culture exposure to time-travel plotlines dates from the Back to the Future...
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Don’t Think We’re in Glenbrook Anymore …

ABC’s award-winning television show Life Goes On, which ran from 1989 to 1993, was built around a family whose eldest son, Corky, had Down syndrome. The show, set in the Chicago suburb of Glenbrook, won accolades for giving many Americans their first real insight into the...
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Crisis Pregnancy Centers v. Abortion Clinics

Crisis Pregnancy Centers v. Abortion Clinics Victoria Garaitonandia Gisondi Megan Burbank, who describes herself as a “repro health” reporter, recently wrote an edgy little piece in the Portland Mercury in which she calls an unborn child “a clump of pulsing organic matter” and...
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Conor Lamb’s Election Is Not Good News for Life

  By a quirk of gerrymandering, we live in Pennsylvania’s eighteenth congressional district and got to vote in the special election to fill former Congressman Tim Murphy’s seat. Murphy resigned after being exposed for asking his mistress to abort their child, despite his...
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Forty Years of Abortion in Italy

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Italy—what has transpired on that front in the past four decades? For answers one turns to the mandatory annual report that Italy’s Minister of Health sends to Parliament. Issued in late December, the 2017...
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Abortion is Rumpelstiltskin

The Brothers Grimm were the first to tell the dark tale of Rumpelstiltskin. And although it was certainly not their intention, the fairy tale eerily parallels so many women’s experience of abortion … Rumpelstiltskin is the story of a poor miller’s daughter, locked up in a tower...
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Abraham’s Sacrifice Of Fatherhood

The Old Testament’s story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22: 1-18) is in many ways unintelligible to modern man. How could God command a father to kill his son? How could God even desire human sacrifice? And how could we believe in such a God? Read against...
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A Tale of Two Protests

  My calling was to organize a pro-life protest. I don’t mean my vocation to priestly ministry, through which I’ve supported many pro-life initiatives. In this case, I mean a literal phone call from a nearby pastor, asking me to help him respond to a Planned Parenthood...
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Bring Back the Ten Commandments!

  In the upstate New York community of Kingston, a synagogue that had fallen into disuse several years ago was sold and converted into a deluxe residence, housing apartments with splendid gardens and scenic views of the Hudson River. Most of the exterior and interior...
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Why Live in the Barnyard?

Americans are right to complain about rude-and-crude comments by President Trump and other politicians today. We should realize, though, that our entire culture has become much ruder and cruder over several decades. Provocative clothing styles, bathroom and other crude “humor” on...
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If You’re In, You’re a Baby

  Last week my office held a baby shower for a coworker and his eight-months-pregnant wife. It is their first baby, and there was lots of conversation about the nursery, the childbirth classes—all the usual things. And there was one of those cutesy baby-shower games: On...
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Ohio Outlaws Death by Discrimination

  Imagine a conversation in which one executive confides to another something like this: “I don’t really want to hire that African-American guy,” says exec No. 1. “I understand, buddy, but legally we can’t reject a person based on race,” replies exec No. 2. “Geez. What do we...
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How a Cradle Pro-Choicer Became Pro-Life

Jack and I met in 1982 when we both arrived as freshmen at an engineering school in Pittsburgh.  The school assigned us to the same floor of the freshmen male dormitory, a hulking bunker of a building that smelled perpetually of college-boy sweat and marijuana. Though Jack and I...
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On the Erasure of History

America recently has been roiled by wholesale efforts to erase history. Monuments go missing in the middle of the night. Undergraduate snowflakes demand “trigger warnings” before they read a book that might tackle somebody or something ugly, hateful, or even controversial....
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Deo Gracias

  Blow on the coal of the heart. The candles in churches are out. The lights have gone out in the sky Blow on the coal of the heart And we’ll see by and by.      —from J.B.: A Play in Verse, by Archibald MacLeish   Cornflower blue skies and crisp breezes are what I...
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The Noble Appeal of “Death with Dignity”

  We had been close friends for twelve years, and I was blessed to be with him as the doctor helped him die. Growing stiffer and frailer over the last year or so, he had still enjoyed life, including a short walk we’d taken just a few days before, with him happily chasing...
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Baby in pink

Late Term Abortion on Healthy Moms and Babies: America’s Dirty Little Secret

  “People have a right to their own opinion,” Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life recently remarked, “but they don’t have a right to their own facts.” He was speaking about the prevalent myth that late-term abortion is done only in cases of medical necessity—or that ...
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A Poem for Advent

  Advent of My Little Child Christ My Lord Oh My Father what was Your Thought To Send Your Son for me to hold To offer him a tiny babe In the weakest of arms, my own? Whene’er I touch such a babe As You send Who has no speech no word no ken Taken aback I stand in momentous...
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Life and the Left’s Inconsistencies

  On September 22, 2017, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, in Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky et al. v. Indiana State Health Department Commissioner et al., permanently enjoined enforcement of a 2016 Indiana law regulating abortion...
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A Lesson in Flag-waving

  Brightly colored flags greet visitors to the United States Holocaust Museum. The flags are not the national flags of the millions of victims of the shoah. Nor are they the national flags of the Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany. Instead, they are the flags of the...
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Jerry Brown: A Helpful Hint of What a Pro-Life Democrat Could Look Like

  Among high-profile Democrats, Governor Jerry Brown of California stands out for his relative benevolence toward the pro-life cause. He has dared to refer to abortion in plain language—“the killing of the unborn”—and has called it “crazy.” He has supported and signed state...
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The Peace Inside Us

  The Halloween terror attack of this past week happened at my 10-year-old son’s school. These are words I never thought I would utter. Terrorism is one of the many threads that make up the fabric of everyday life in New York City. My children read signs on the subway urging...
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Watch the Docs! Check the Meds!

  During visits to relatives or friends who are quite old or have been very ill, you may be alarmed by the sheer number of medicines they take. Is all of this really necessary? The answer may well be “No!” Can some drugs cause new problems instead of solving old ones? The...
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Piety and Laughter—J.P. McFadden

  A small package was delivered to my office. It contained a copy of the Human Life Review and a note from its editor, James P. McFadden, inviting me, on the recommendation of an unnamed source, to write for his fledgling journal. I was honored by the invitation and soon...
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Harvey Weinstein’s Pro-Life Lessons

  The Harvey Weinstein Hollywood sexual-predator story offers one lesson for defenders of life: We defend or deny life even when we’re not within a thousand miles of a life issue. Here’s why. We don’t form a culture mainly by what we do in the big obvious cases. We form a...
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Searching for the Soul of R2-D2

  My familiarity with Star Wars is largely confined to the first few releases of the franchise back in the late 1970s. In the initial Star Wars film, aside from the romantic weirdness of this “galaxy far, far away” and the David-and-Goliath quality of the battle of Good...
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Grassroots Pro-Life Panel Talks Trump, Millennials, and Effective Strategies

  Last Saturday, the Human Life Review’s EXPECT initiative and ProLife Future NYC hosted a discussion panel on how four organizations are working to build a culture of life in America. The participants were Aimee Murphy of Rehumanize International, John Hinshaw of Good...
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Audrey Hepburn’s Beauty Tips

  My title is misleading. It attributes a poem to the stylish actress which she did not compose. “Time Tested Beauty Tips” was one of Hepburn’s favorite poems—she is said to have read it to her children on the last Christmas Eve she spent on earth. Legend credits her with...
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Our Haunting Insecurities and the Human Weeds

  Modern cosmetics tells us something about our culture’s desire to abort the unborn and euthanize the sick and elderly. In our desire to beautify the body, writes Zygmunt Bauman, “the appearance of the remedy as a rule preceded awareness of the deficiency that clamored to...
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Ask Me Anything

Sometimes word games can become mind games. My 11-year-old daughter has Down syndrome. My instinct has always been to put it exactly that way—Down syndrome is something she has, not something that has her or something she is. Does that seem obvious? These are actually hotly...
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Be Decisive, Act Responsibly

  Credit be given, my title is lifted from the name of a talk advertised by my employer, one of those presentations HR puts on about how to be an effective leader. I think it’s a fitting riposte to David Brooks’ New York Times opinion piece, “Why Fathers Leave their...
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Use the Term “Pro-Abortion” Only When It Fits, Which Is Not That Often

  “It’s obviously ridiculous to say somebody is ‘pro-abortion,’” Gloria Steinem told the Associated Press in May. “Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I think I’ll have an abortion. It’s a pleasurable experience.’” Abortion-rights advocates have been saying that since...
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Easy but Uncomfortable

  It’s the language we use for diseases. Polio, we say, has been eradicated from the earth. Last week many pro-lifers jumped on the moral carelessness of a CBS story which declared giddily that Down syndrome had been “basically eradicated from Iceland”— as if someone in...
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A Cure for MS?

  The shocking headline seemed to jump out at me from the computer screen: “Brit scientist could be about to CURE multiple sclerosis and provide hope for millions.”[1] Really? Did I dare hope for a cure after living with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) for more than 30...
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Consistent Life Ethic Conference: John Carr Gives a Call to Action

  “End war, end racism, end poverty, end abortion, end euthanasia, end the death penalty”—this exhortation permeated Consistent Life Ethic’s annual conference last weekend in Philadelphia. CLE is a growing movement with well-known supporters like Martin Sheen, Dorothy...
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Tribute to a Prophetess

  The name Clare Boothe Luce should not be absent from the minds of contemporary Catholics. While she may not have been a saint, she understood well that in times of crisis saints are what we need. In 1952, Luce edited a classic anthology of essays entitled Saints for Now. Twenty...
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We Just Have a Picture. They Have Stories

“Facts are the background noise of debate and analysis,” former Reagan media expert Merrie Spaeth explained in The Wall Street Journal. “Anecdotes are a message’s most powerful anchors. In the battle for public opinion, personal stories win.” Stories decide whose claims feel more...
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The Blind Spot in Women’s Athletics

Just like their male counterparts, elite women athletes receive cutting-edge advice regarding diet, training, medicine, and sports psychology. It’s an approach meant to fine-tune game-day performance using the most up-to-date research. With competition for Olympic medals,...
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A Rule of Life

  Obsculta O fili – Listen, O son. These first words of the Rule of St. Benedict mark the opening of a new world in the West. An abbot (father figure) firmly yet tenderly calling for the attention of his spiritual son stands as a defining point for what would become...
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New life through snow trust

‘Life More Abundantly’

  Health and wealth rhyme, and not just the words, although those tell a story too. The word health comes from whole, what an organism is when its gears are humming as they ought, everything in its place, each part in sync with the others, none missing or broken or...
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Disabilities and Heroic Virtue

  In The Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote that God  “set before me a book of nature; I understood that all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or...
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Our Malignant Normality

  The majority of people don’t have to go all in for evil for a society to turn to evil. They need only go one-third or half-way. That’s one lesson to be taken from the work of the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, most famous as the author of The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing...
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The Lentils Were Planted!

  2016 was a banner year for earthquakes in Italy. More than 300 people lost their lives in two series of shocks that hit the center of the country—especially the region of Umbria—destroying small towns and their treasures. Nearly a year later, authorities are still removing...
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Trusting Ourselves to Trust God

  The joy of being pregnant was dashed for me at five weeks when I found out that the twins I was carrying were high risk. The doctor told me there was a 50 percent chance both would die and an 80 percent chance that at least one would. Every other week more complications...
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Surrogacy and Social Justice

  The New York Times headline warns: “As Mexican State Limits Surrogacy, Global System Is Further Strained.” The gist of the story is that the southern Mexican state of Tabasco, which for a brief moment became the next Mecca for wealthy Westerners looking for Third World...
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Mother’s Day at Villa Guadalupe

On Mother’s Day, the Sisters of Life held a celebration for about 75 mothers and 150 children at their retreat house, Villa Guadalupe, in Stamford, Connecticut. Although it had rained all day Saturday and the forecast for Sunday was not good, there was no way this event could be...
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The Disciple of Rationality’s Unreasonable Thoughts

It’s interesting, the kind of things you find rummaging through your files when you’ve got a deadline and nothing to say. (This, innocent readers should know, happens to the writers you read more often than any of us like to admit.) For example, the ethicist Charlie Camosy’s...
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The Crossword Puzzle as an Instrument of Propaganda

Crossword puzzles are said to be the most popular and widespread of all word games.  Typically, they are free of controversy—all the correct answers are facts that respond to questions such as “what is the longest river in Egypt?” or “who was the second president of the United...
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The Democrats Need Pro-Lifers—and Pro-Lifers Need a Two-Party System

  As Democrats fight among themselves about abortion, Republicans and pro-lifers watching from the sidelines say “Good,” though for different reasons. Republicans enjoy seeing their rival party in chaos. So do pro-lifers who are Republicans more loyal to their party than to...
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Picture Imperfect

  Is the pro-life movement doomed to lose the public relations battle? If so, it’s not because we don’t have the better argument—we do. It’s not because we don’t have great warriors, orators, and persuaders—we’ve got the best. It’s because so many of the intangibles that...
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The Abortionist Willie Parker, a Moral Man

  His becoming an abortionist, Willie Parker tells Rolling Stone, “was an assertion of my responsibility to pursue justice and human dignity.” I don’t doubt him. He is, by his lights, a moral man. Parker heads the board of Physicians for Reproductive Health and performs abortions...
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Blaming the Victim

The story of an abortion survivor is one “that could not be heard, and therefore must not be told.” This was the lesson learned by then-college freshman Melissa Ohden who, in a discussion with new friends about “every kind of abuse, abandonment and human heartache,” found that...
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Notes from Under the Dome

  At a family gathering early in the last election season I was asked by a practicing Catholic who reflexively votes Democratic whether, if Donald Trump had gotten the Republican nomination, I would vote for him in the general election. When I said yes, both she and her...
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The Messenger Is the Message

  During the last presidential campaign, friends and acquaintances urged me to cast my vote for the Republican Party platform. I didn’t, because it wasn’t on the ballot. I wasn’t always so clear-eyed. In 1980, being young and both bloodless and woolly in my political...
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Of Doves and Serpents, and Pro-Choice Magic

  One of the doves who come to our window feeder seems to be missing the skin on the back of his head. I’m pretty sure we see his skull when he looks away from the house. It’s a dangerous world out there when you’re prey. They’re pretty birds, our doves, but they don’t look...
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Standing outside Planned Parenthood

  On the first Saturday of every month, about forty of us gather outside Planned Parenthood on Bleecker Street in downtown Manhattan for an early morning Vigil for Life. We have been holding this vigil for almost ten years and neither wind nor rain nor blazing sun...
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Faraway, So Close

I always knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t know when—or for whom. My 11-year-old daughter, Magdalena, has Down syndrome. Over the years, my wife and I have met dozens of other parents of children with special needs—through schools, through Special Olympics programs,...
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The Magdalene Institute Makes Its Debut

The story of Mary Magdalene, a repentant sinner who went on to sainthood, is well known. Today she serves as inspiration for two life-affirming organizations: The Community of St. Mary Magdalene and The Magdalene Institute. Their founder, Mary Langlois, hopes that the...
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Abortion and Higher Education

  Many pro-life advocates believe that the answer to the abortion problem lies in education.  Science supports the claim that human life begins at conception. Psychology reports that induced abortion has adverse effects on a high percentage of women. Sociology informs us...
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Battling Physician-prescribed Suicide in Massachusetts

  According to the Centers for Disease Control, more people in Massachusetts die annually from suicide than from motor vehicle accidents (National Vital Statistics Reports, April 24, 2008). In 2007, the state’s suicide rate (8.0 per 100,000 people) was almost three times...
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Supreme Court

Let’s Say Roe Goes—Hurray! Then What?

  Neil Gorsuch’s probable ascension to the Supreme Court nicely conforms to a script that pro-life advocates hopeful of seeing Roe v. Wade overturned have been writing in their minds for the past year: Elect a Republican president, who soon fills Scalia’s seat with a pro-life...
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Choose What?

  What is the pro-life movement about? Oddly, it is this question that is most contested. If pro-choice people agreed with us as to the purpose of the pro-life movement, we might actually get somewhere. This was brought home to me recently at a conversation-with-cookies...
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The Left’s Failure: Why Nat Hentoff Lost His Friends

  He shocked his friends, and lost a good many of them. He said something no one in his circles would say. In doing so, he exposed one of the weirder and sadder failures in modern American political life. Nat Hentoff was one of the really cool guys. He wrote for the New York...
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Government by Twitter?

  It is clear that Donald Trump will keep tweeting after he is sworn into office as President. His Twitter site now claims to have over 20 million followers. What politician would give up such a goldmine of support? Especially when media reporters follow it closely? If Trump...
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Wei Jingsheng, Champion of Universal Human Rights

Wei Jingsheng, perhaps the Peoples Republic of China’s best known pro-democracy, human-rights activist, spent a total of 18 years in prison as a dissident charged with “counter revolution propaganda and agitation.” He was released in 1997 and, following pressure from the Clinton...
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Respect for Abortion Victims in Texas

Great is the fury of the pro-choice community. And wouldn’t you be riled, too, if the State of Texas (or any other governmental entity, for that matter) had undertaken to train an unflattering spotlight on your philosophical premises? That’s what Texas’ new requirement for...
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The Democratic Party v. Children

After their devastating losses in the November election, Democratic Party leaders finally understand that they have a huge problem with blue-collar Americans. They know it will take major efforts to regain the trust of the working class they used to champion. But doesn’t it occur...
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The Pro-Choice Abuse of Logic

It’s the claim that the opponent argues illogically when he hasn’t that’s the sneaky thing. People on all sides of every contentious issue do this, but the pro-choice movement seems—and I’ll admit I may be biased here—particularly keen on this way of trying to win an argument...
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