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.

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The Mask has dropped from Justice Ruth Ginsberg:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she doesn’t want to conjure up the possibility of Donald Trump in the White House.

“I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” Ginsburg told The New York Times in an interview published Sunday. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
Ginsburg, on the high court since 1993, told the Times the prospect of a Trump presidency reminded her of the type of wry comment her late husband might have made.
“‘Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand,'” Justice Ginsburg said.

Not only did the mask of impartiality drop she refused to put it back on and doubled down:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s well-known candor was on display in her chambers late Monday, when she declined to retreat from her earlier criticism of Donald Trump and even elaborated on it.

“He is a faker,” she said of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, going point by point, as if presenting a legal brief. “He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that.”

As you might have heard this got some critique from Donald Trump but it also got a lot of critique from liberals as well:

The New York Times:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg needs to drop the political punditry and the name-calling. …

In this election cycle in particular, the potential of a new president to affect the balance of the court has taken on great importance, with the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, other justices are nearing an age when retirement would not be surprising. That makes it vital that the court remain outside the presidential process. And just imagine if this were 2000 and the resolution of the election depended on a Supreme Court decision. Could anyone now argue with a straight face that Justice Ginsburg’s only guide would be the law?

The Washington Post

I first wrote about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s controversial comments about Donald Trump on Monday. Since then, the situation has erupted into an all-out feud, and now the editorial boards of both the New York Times and The Washington Post have weighed in against Ginsburg’s decision to insert herself into the 2016 campaign…I’ll say at the top what I’ve said before: It’s hard if not impossible to find a direct analog to what Ginsburg has said in recent days. Supreme Court experts I’ve spoken to were unaware of any justices getting so directly and vocally involved — or involved at all, really — in a presidential campaign.

Slate:

There is really very little to debate about the ethics of Ginsburg’s comments. They were plainly a violation, the kind of partisan partiality that judicial ethics codes strive to prevent. But Ginsburg, who is a quietly canny judicial and political strategist, surely knows that her comments were an ethical error. That leads to a fascinating question: Why would the justice risk her reputation and good standing—and even her power to hear cases involving Trump—for a few quick jabs at the candidate? The answer, I suspect, is that Ginsburg has decided to sacrifice some of her prestige in order to send as clear a warning signal about Trump as she possibly can. The subtext of Ginsburg’s comments, of her willingness to comment, is that Trump poses an unparalleled threat to this country—a threat so great that she will abandon judicial propriety in order to warn against looming disaster.

To be clear, what Ginsburg is doing right now—pushing her case against Trump through on-the-record interviews—is not just unethical; it’s dangerous. As a general rule, justices should refrain from commenting on politics, period. That dictate applies to 83-year-old internet folk heroes as strictly as it applies to anybody else who dons judicial robes. The independence of our judiciary—and just as critically, its appearance of impartiality—hinges on a consistent separation between itself and the other branches of government. That means no proclamations of loyalty to any candidate, or admissions of distaste of any other.

Even CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin was not happy as reported by Newsbusters:

No, I don’t think there’s any chance she will resign, but I think it’s appropriate to criticize her about this. This is not how Supreme Court justices have talked traditionally. They do not get involved in day-to-day political controversies. They do not endorse or un-endorse candidates.

Describing himself as a “great admirer” of Justice Ginsburg, he then got to the subject of recusal as he added:

And I think there are lots of good reasons for that, not least of which, something involving the election may come before the Supreme Court in a Bush V. Gore type case. And I think she’d have to recuse herself at this point. 

I just think, as someone who is a great admirer of Justice Ginsburg, she is completely wrong in this situation, and she should not be making these kinds of political statements.

And cartoonists as well:

A lot of people are upset about this ethical violation.

I’m not.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a complete abrogation of her duty as a judge on the highest court in the land and an action unworthy of her and her position. Furthermore it sets a horrible precedent for the future.

However there is one other consideration.

If there is one thing that anyone who watches the court knows it that any 5-4 decision will involve a “conservative’ justice voting with liberals. You will not and have not seen any of the liberals, Kagan, Sotomayor or Ginsberg being the deciding vote for a case going in the direction of conservatives.

Justice Ginsberg’s public statements make it plan for all to see that our liberal friends on the Supreme Court are simple ideologues and that their vote on any key issue dividing left and right would be no different if every brief in support of the liberal position consisted of the sentence: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” repeated ad infinitum.

Ann Althouse gets it

In the case of Justice Ginsburg, Trump isn’t inferring bias and politics from whatgroup she belongs to. It’s a reaction to her particular statements. It’s individual. She openly displayed her political leanings and her desire for political allies on the Court and her intent, going forward, to use those allies to get to a majority that would overrule cases that recognize important constitutional rights — includingHeller, the case that says there is an individual right to bear arms.

And here’s where it becomes clear that the NYT editorial proceeds upon the second reason I posited above, that Justice Ginsburg’s particular political statements are dangerous and damaging to the political cause she and the NYT support. “In this election cycle in particular,” it’s important to keep voters believing that judges will be impartial and above politics, and here’s Ginsburg “call[ing] her own commitment to impartiality into question.” The Times tries to pass this off as Ginsburg “choos[ing] to descend toward [Trump’s] level,” but she’s not joining Trump, she’s proving him right: Judges are political, and that’s a bad thing. Perhaps Curiel didn’t deserve the criticism, but Ginsburg does, and it’s very irritating to the NYT, it would seem, because the Curiel incident was so effectively used against Trump, and then along comes Ginsburg displaying herself as pleased to be political.

Justice Ginsburg unethical behavior has provided a valuable service to the entire nature by allowing them to see that lie that the NY Times and other want to keep hidden.  The question becomes will the American people react the way the NYT and the left fears they will?

One can only hope but no matter how they do, rest assured the American people will get the president and the justice system we deserve.

Sorta Update: Justice Ginsburg has finally figured out she was not helping her cause.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Thursday she regrets remarks she made earlier this week to CNN and other news outlets criticizing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” Ginsburg said in a statement. “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.”

The best part of this non-apology is it allowed Donald Trump the high ground in response:

“It wasn’t really an apology, but we have to move on anyway. It’s just something that should not have taken place,” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said.

“It’s just a very disappointing moment for me because the Supreme Court is above that kind of rhetoric, those words. … But she acknowledged she made a mistake, and I’ll accept that.”

The greatest ally Trump has in this election are the people who oppose him.


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You are Obsolete

The Twilight Zone 1961

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,

C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters #12

Because of the storm which Cancelled the Romney event in NH on Tuesday I was able to attend the weekly game night with the crew I’ve been playing with for decades.

During the course of the evening a Question 2 ad showed up on the TV and a heated discussion took place between me (Catholic and opposed) and everyone else.

While most thought the law poorly written they all agreed the best solution was to pass it then “fix” it.

During the course of the evening a friend at the table brought up his late mothers illness and her pain in the closing weeks and the advantage such a law would have been, I then asked a provocative question:

“If you could do it without legal issues would you have suffocated your mother if she asked?”

My friend reacted very angrily to that argument, and the other insisted that it was not relevant or the point, but I say it exactly IS the point.

The worst thing you can give a person when dealing with a question of morality or ethics is an excuse. With the right excuse people who would normally consider an action immoral or evil will suddenly find themselves not only doing it but justifying it.

If the idea of killing the sick, is just and right and a mercy if they wish it, then the fact that it is your mother, your wife, your child would be totally irrelevant, in fact you would be doing a positive good.

It’s been argued that it would be a burden? WHY would it be a burden? Why should it be any burden at all if it is a positive good.

The reality is this is not about the people who are dying, it is about the people who are living who do not want the responsibility, they want an easy way out. They can put things on a doctor and tell themselves that they didn’t have to go though the expense, the time and the effort to keep an elderly or sick relative alive so much easier to take the simple path. To kill by omission on your part and commission and call it “dignity”.

And to the old, deciding to hang on, to live your life, to continue to fight for the life that God gave you will be “selfish”, expensive, inconsiderate.  They will have all of society telling them to exit with “dignity” and those who do will be celebrated for doing so.

It is a horrible and evil thing and mark my words, as the generations that were taught the sanctity of life age and die, the generations that replace them without such a teaching will find a positive good in these death and it will be this generation that voted this in that will be ushered off by a society that finds them Obsolete.

If you give me power, I’ll use it

Lady Agrippinna to Claudius. I Claudius 1976

One of the disadvantages of abandoning Judeo-Christian ethics is that you get an interesting crop of ‘Ethicists’

We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her … it is not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense …

what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

We who subscribe to the old-fashioned oppressive philosophy of traditional western civilization refer to this as “murder”.

I would say I was surprised at this post at Breitbart (via smitty) but that would be as dishonest as a Democrat in the White House denying they are connected with Hilary Rosen:

I would make the obvious statement that this is simply evil, and I mean Satanic level evil, but our modern secular society has decided that “evil” is relative and “Satan” is superstition so let me make the self-interest argument that such folks will understand:

Once you decide to abandon the Judeo-Christian principle that all lives are of equal value in the eyes of God, once Doctors abandon the traditional Hippocratic Oath then things like “personhood” and “life” and “ethics” can be defined however those with power choose to do so, I assure you they will.

And when the day comes when someone playing Kodos decides to define YOUR life or your children’s lives as something without value to society, a waste of scarce resources better used for others, remember who willingly gave them the power to declare you obsolete.

You have been warned.

Update: Let me make something clear that might not be clear otherwise, one does not have to believe in the God or the doctrine of either Judaism or Christianity (or as I call him God) to agree that the Judeo-Christian ethic of all life being of value is an important one and a healthy one for a society. It is on that Juedo-Christian ethic that western Civilization is built (with kudos to the Greeks for the ideas of Democracy and Republicanism).

Update 2: Bill Quick who I admire and while agreeing with me on the sheer evil of this suggestion considers the post an “unwarranted smear against atheists” and points to an example of Christians violating their own tenants tenets. Fair point, many Christians do, but that reflects on those who violate those tenants, not the tenants> tenets themselves, as Christ himself said:

“The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. Matthew 23:2-3

I would still submit that the weakness of a moral code not God based means it can be altered by man or even by majority vote, and when that is true anything is possible depending on the current (ICK factor).

Remember civilization, peace and justice is not the default position in the history of men or nations, that’s why America for all it’s faults that our friends on the left love to point out is as special as it is.

Update 3: Typed tenants instead of tenets but for the record, if a Christian violates his “tenants” that’s against the “tenets” of the church too.

This story at MSNBC has generated a ton of comments:

Kale pointed to research in Canada and the United States indicating that immigrants in certain ethnic groups, including people from China, Korea and India, selectively abort female fetuses: couples who have two daughters are more likely to have a son as their third child than would be expected if left to chance.

Two large organizations of doctors — the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — agree that sex selection is unethical.

Why is it unethical? If a woman has a right to an abortion and the unborn are just a clump of cells then it doesn’t matter if the woman aborts due to economics, sex, sexual orientation or because the wind is blowing 5 mph from the NNE.

The very debate and the 10 pages of it gives lie to it all. In fact the unborn is fully human, fully unique and fully innocent human child…

…and abortion kills him or her.

This is the truth that those who support abortion do their best to deny to each other and to themselves, because if they don’t then they have to deal with the implications of such a decision.

Even the ancients who first took the Hippocratic oath understood it that’s why even this oath, without a hint of Christianity, had to go, after all those who make their living off such things need to sleep at night.

Update: Missed link, inserted.