A local cultural observation, just to break up the campaign coverage for a minute…

The Latin Mass can pack a room, and it ain’t all about nostalgia. (Or, as friend used to spell it, “naustalgia,” which I always took to mean the past making you sick.) One of the old ethnic churches in my New England city has just been re-opened after being shuttered for 15 years. Our bishop asked an order of priests dedicated to the Tridentine Mass to set up shop, and the order obliged. The first Sunday Mass was held recently, and it was an eye-opener.

First of all, the number of young families was staggering. They’re looking to the future. Talking with them after Mass was like a tonic.

The church was packed, people standing in the back, even 40 or so standing on the steps outside when the church filled up. It’s possible some were there for the novelty, or to see what a Latin Mass was like. There were a few folks who had been parishioners back in the days when it was “the Polish parish.” There were certainly some pre-Vatican II Catholics who wanted the liturgy of their youth. Most of the attendees, though, looked like they’d been born well after the mid-1960s.

Second, the bumper stickers out in the parking lot indicated a lot of politically-engaged people in attendance. There were humorous (not to say barbed) slogans and serious ones, many explicitly pro-life, few explicitly partisan, yet all designed to give a Democratic nominee the vapors.

So what?

I’ll tell you what this looks like to me: these people praying together are not cultural refugees. They’re not wringing their hands. They’re looking past the next election. They’re steeped less in tradition per se than in faith in God. And they’re bringing that faith with them as they raise their kids, go about their daily business, and prepare to vote.

If the Republican nominee prevails, these are people who will keep him on his toes. If the Democratic nominee prevails – and she won’t, if these folks have their way – these are people who have the makings of resistance, if not outright defiance. People who take their religious faith and their American citizenship seriously are a force to reckoned with, with or without a “win” in November. Let others talk (without a constitutional basis) about separation of church and state – just don’t expect separation of faith and daily life.

Am I giving too much credit to one event in one small city? Maybe. Still, there’s something about that church full of savvy young families that shook up my pessimism about the upcoming election. I needed the reality check.

As for the Mass itself, it was a revelation to me. I’m a post-Vatican II cradle Catholic. Let’s just say there seem to be riches I’ve yet to discover.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at LeavenForTheLoaf.com. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire. See her earlier posts for DaTechGuyBlog: Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash, Putting a Know-Nothing in His Place, Ads Say the Darnedest Things, and Worried About the Court? Then Worry About the Senate. 

A note to readers: I’m still one of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Prospects, striving to earn your thumbs-up. DTG will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent Tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading one of my posts, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep – and thank you! (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.)




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I suspect that those of us who find Trump & Hillary equally unacceptable are going to be voted off the conservative island before this election’s over. I’m being harangued by perfectly nice people saying “butbutbut HILLARY!!”, along with what’s supposed to be the clincher: “Supreme Court!” An awful prospect, to be sure. The thing is, I don’t see that Trump offers any more hope in that department. Neither candidate appears to have the constitutional moorings, never mind the pro-life moorings (since the right to life precedes any written constitution), to be sensibly guided in the choice of Justices.

That leaves the Senate as the firewall against any mischievous molding of the court that a President Clinton or President Trump might want to try.

To likeminded voters who won’t support either of the major Presidential nominees, I say go to the polls anyway. Don’t stay home in a snit on November 8. All those downballot races are going to affect how the next Chief Executive does business. And of all the downballot races, those for U.S. Senate are most critical.

Thirty-four Senate seats are up for grabs. It’s not enough for a candidate to point to the top of the ticket and say “I’m with him” or “I’m with her.” What I want to know is, are you for religious liberty? Do you recognize the right to life? How about respecting First Amendment free-speech rights for peaceful protesters with whom you disagree? Are you ready to defend and expand the Hyde Amendment?

No moot points there. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still waiting to hear if the Court will respect their religious beliefs regarding helping to procure contraception for their employees. The Hobby Lobby decision is still under fire, and so is McCullen – the former a religious liberty case,  the latter a victory for peaceful pro-life witnesses outside abortion facilities. The recent Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision has accommodated abortion providers while making substandard health care for women a constitutional right (and wasn’t that a neat trick?).

Democratic candidates for Senate seem to be consistent in praising Hellerstedt and condemning the other decisions, though I would be pleased to hear of an exception. Republicans are all over the place, to the extent that I can make no assumptions whatsoever about what an “R” means when it comes to judicial matters.

Does a candidate squirm or stand tall under questions about the Court decisions I’ve mentioned?  That’ll tell me a lot about whether I want a particular candidate in the Senate. If Trump gets elected with a bunch of Republican senators who are OK with Hellerstedt and not OK with the Little Sisters, or who are meek about either, Hillary will get the Court she seeks, even if she’s not President.

My own state is in play, with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) being challenged by Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan. I’d much rather have Ayotte voting on judicial nominees. But will she campaign on the threat of a dangerous shift in the Supreme Court or a loss of the Hyde Amendment if Hassan gets the seat? Don’t I wish.

Frankly, in the year of Trump, Republican Senate candidates can’t trust either party’s standardbearer when it comes to the Court. It’s time to lead. Visualize a bloc of Senators telling the new President, Your nominees will have a history of respecting the right to life and the First Amendment, or they don’t stand a chance of confirmation. Better yet, visualize GOP Senate candidates saying that now, putting Dems on the defensive for once. Litmus test? You betcha.

Think about that if you’re tempted to stay home in November.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at LeavenForTheLoaf.com. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire. See her earlier posts for DaTechGuyBlog: Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash, Putting a Know-Nothing in His Place, and Ads Say the Darnedest Things

A note to readers: I’m still one of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Prospects, striving to earn your thumbs-up. DTG will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent Tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading one of my posts, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep – and thank you! (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.)




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As a social media nerd (perhaps you know the type), I take note of the political ads in the sidebars and footers of the blogs and pages I follow. The unseen forces that affect ad-placing algorithms have figured out that I’m pro-life, and most of the political ads I see are for more-or-less pro-life candidates. A pro-Hillary ad like the one that crossed my social media feed today is jarring. (How did she find me?)

A pro-life physician whose blog I enjoy took Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine to task recently for Kaine’s personally-opposed-but position on abortion. No surprises, until I got to the end of the post and saw a pro-Hillary ad at the bottom of the page.

The blogger sure didn’t place that one. The platform hosting his blog did. I took grim pleasure in thinking how few clicks the ad must have gotten from the blog’s usual audience.

This, I reminded myself, is why bloggers need to bite the bullet and pay for self-hosted sites. When we don’t, we’re at the mercy of the lovely and talented ad team at WordPress or Google or whatever. It’s just plain annoying to know that even in an ad rotation that’s largely non-political on a pro-life blog, something like the Clinton promo can slither in. Free social media isn’t altogether free, a fact I wish I could ignore. If we’re using space on someone else’s property, be it Facebook or Twitter or a blog that’s not self-hosted, the landlord gets to set terms.

This was a minor annoyance, but it was just pesky enough to annoy me. It was my lesson for the day, and I share it with you at no charge: blog your heart out, and own your platform if you can. Hillary is lurking for your readers.

A follow-up to my July 28 post, “Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash”: A report in the New Hampshire Sunday News says that the New Hampshire Executive Branch Ethics Committee has dismissed the ethics complaint against Gov. Hassan and Councilor Van Ostern, who took Planned Parenthood campaign money and then supported state contracts with PP. Nothing to see here, folks.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at http://leavenfortheloaf.com. When she's not writing, she's hiking in New Hampshire.
Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire.

A note to readers: DaTechGuy has given me a chance to earn a regular gig here, and I hope I can earn your thumbs-up with this week’s post along with my earlier ones (here and here). He’ll be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading this, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep. (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.) Thank you!

FYI from DaTechGuy Ellen’s first piece was Ethics and PP cash her second was The portrait’s gotta go: Putting a Know-Nothing in his place.



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A determined little group met at the Massachusetts State House this week with a simple message to legislators: move the portrait of 19th-century Know-Nothing governor Henry Gardner away from its place of honor outside legislative chambers to someplace more appropriate. The basement, maybe.

Former ambassador and Boston mayor Ray Flynn led a roster of speakers at the Pioneer Institute event promoting educational choice for Massachusetts students, including students from economically disadvantaged families. “Move this Portrait: The Know-Nothing’s Governor and Barriers to School Choice” was about more than moving a Know-Nothing’s portrait. It was about repealing the anti-aid measure, also known as the Blaine Amendment, that was added to the state constitution by anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant legislators in the 19th century.

Flynn reminded his listeners of something that Abraham Lincoln said in 1855, when the Know-Nothing party’s brief ascendancy was leaving its legacy. “When the Know-Nothings get control, the Declaration of Independence will read ‘all men are created equal – except Negroes, foreigners, and Catholics.” Flynn urged a repudiation of the Know-Nothing’s legacy, represented by Governor Gardner’s portrait. He knows this calls for united action by determined Massachusetts residents. “If you can’t effectively articulate a point of view, injustice prevails. Determined people can change just about anything.”

Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute asked a good question, a bit tongue-in-cheek, but thought-provoking. “When did it become unpopular with liberals to give poor people money?” Of course if disadvantaged families are paying taxes, it’s their own money. Their sacrifices to send their kids to non-public schools amount to double taxation.

One step at a time, urged the event’s six speakers. Vouchers, education tax credits, education savings accounts: all are measures that would assist poor families, and each one would be a step in the right direction.

Jason Bedrick, one of the event’s speakers, pointed out that the anti-aid amendment was passed in the days when public schools were effectively non-denominational Protestant. It was designed to prevent public money from going to support of Catholic schools, which at the time were depended upon by many immigrant families. Times have changed, but the anti-aid amendment has not. It’s time to change that, said Bedrick, and he pointed out the “tolerance and respect” he enjoyed as a Jewish man who attended Catholic schools. “School choice fosters cooperation and respects minorities, and fosters students more likely to extend political tolerance to people with whom they disagree.”

Take that, Governor Gardner.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at http://leavenfortheloaf.com. When she's not writing, she's hiking in New Hampshire.
Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire.

A note from DaTechGuy: I hope you enjoyed Ellen’s piece (so does Ellen!). Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar. So if you like Ellen’s work please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it don’t forget to mention Ellen’s post is the reason you did so. If you missed her post from last week, it’s here.

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Following the money can be an intriguing political exercise. Take one Planned Parenthood affiliate’s political expenditures, for example. When a candidate benefits from PP expenditures and later has to vote on a PP contract, when does business-as-usual becomes a matter of ethical concern?

Darlene Pawlik wants to find out. She’s checking things out close to her New Hampshire home, and she has filed a complaint with the Executive Branch Ethics Committee against Governor Maggie Hassan and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern. The complaint might be heard formally at the committee’s next meeting, scheduled for August 3.

Pawlik was prompted to act by a June 2016 “do-over” vote by the state’s Executive Council that sent “family planning” money to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England only months after the same Council turned down a similar PPNNE contract proposal. It’s unusual for a contract denied in a fiscal year to be re-introduced and approved in substantially the same terms later in the same fiscal year, but that’s what the Executive Council did with its 3-2 vote on June 29.

A bit of background: PPNNE is the region’s largest abortion provider, although the New Hampshire contracts are for “family planning” services and are not meant to be used for abortions. (Thereby hangs a tale for another day.)  The denial of the original contract hardly de-funded PPNNE, however much the denial gave PP supporters the vapors. PPNNE’s budget is $20 million a year. The original contract was for $638,000; the do-over contract was for a little less than that. By comparison, PPNNE spent $1.5 million on “public policy” in 2014. That doesn’t count campaign donations and independent campaign expenditures by PPNNE’s political arm.

Back to the do-over vote. The more recent contract passed because executive councilor and GOP candidate for governor Chris Sununu switched his vote from 2015. PPNNE’s Action Fund stayed out of Sununu’s race in the 2014 election.  On the other hand, the campaigns of Governor Hassan and Councilor Van Ostern were the beneficiaries of PP donations. Hassan, a Democrat who is running for U.S. Senate, named a pro-PP commissioner of health and human services earlier this year who promised during his confirmation process that he would “bring back” the PP contract. Van Ostern was the chief cheerleader for PP on the Council during the recent reconsideration vote. He is a Democratic candidate for governor.

In her ethics complaint, Pawlik alleges that as recipients of PP donations, Hassan and Van Ostern should have recused themselves from any action on contracts with PPNNE. The governor has no vote on the Executive Council, but she presides at Council meetings and was more than happy in that capacity to speak in PP’s favor at the June meeting before the contract vote was taken.

It’s hardly news that political committees get involved in elections, and it’s hardly news that governments do business with entities associated with those committees.What’s news is that a concerned citizen is taking action to clarify how much back-scratching is too much. The same-fiscal-year reconsideration of a rejected contract begs for further scrutiny.

The New Hampshire Union Leader quoted PPNNE’s vice-president for public policy as saying “PPNNE and its Political Action Fund are ‘separate and distinct organizations with different funding, different activities and different tax status.’” Presto: no conflict of interest, says PP.

Look again, says Darlene Pawlik.

She is appealing to an Ethics Committee that is under most New Hampshire residents’ radar. The Committee itself has been moribund for several months, with its three most recent scheduled meetings cancelled. There’s a meeting scheduled for August 3, though, and we know now that at least one complaint should be getting a hearing.

Stay tuned.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at http://leavenfortheloaf.com. When she's not writing, she's hiking in New Hampshire.
Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire.

A note from DaTechGuy: I hope you enjoyed Ellen’s piece (so does Ellen!). Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar. So if you like Ellen’s work please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it don’t forget to mention Ellen’s post is the reason you did so.




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