Monday, December 24, 2012

What's Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
What's Your Favorite Christmas Movie?
by David Trumbull -- December 12, 2008
Democrats’ favorite Christmas movie is "Miracle on 34th Street."
Republicans’ favorite Christmas movie is "It's a Wonderful Life."

I first heard that aphorism at a holiday party about a decade ago. It’s been around longer than that and I haven’t been able to determine who first said it and when.

On the face the saying makes sense. After all, what better movie for adults who still believe in Santa Claus than Miracle on 34th Street? Besides (watch out for plot spoiler) the picture’s crisis is resolved when a huge federal government agency—the Post Office—comes to the rescue. And with a divorced mother rearing a child alone, Miracle features a non-traditional family, surely a plus in the eyes of liberals.

It’s a Wonderful Life, on the other hand, celebrates the infinite worth of an individual human being, a worth that far exceeds even the biggest financial fortune. In Wonderful Life the hero’s crisis is resolved (another plot spoiler) by the spontaneous voluntary action of family, friends, and local community; emphatically not by the government. The film also shows people in fervent prayer, not to some generic higher power but to the God of the Bible as worshipped by the Protestant and Catholic believers shown in the picture. That alone must drive some liberals nuts when the film is broadcast over the public airwaves.

But the game can be played the other way. Wonderful Life presents negative stereotypes of bankers, so much so that when it was released some Hollywood observers (but not, as is erroneously asserted on some liberal websites, the Federal Bureau of Investigations) charged that it was a vehicle for communist propaganda. The charge is easy to ridicule today, but in the 1940s communist infiltration of the motion picture industry was a real and serious threat to American values. Now look at the favorable treatment—not to mention free advertising—that Miracle gives to two large department stores! Main Street Republicans surely must find that refreshing compared to the negative views of business that Hollywood gives us today.

The lesson? It’s just a movie! Enjoy them both, or whichever ones you choose to watch this holiday season. Santa’s list does not include your political affiliation, but he does have a lump of coal for those who would strip our public life of all sense of Wonder at the Love of God and thankfulness for all Miracles big and small.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy HOLY DAYS to All

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Happy HOLY DAYS to All

by David Trumbull -- December 21, 2012

On Sunday, December 16th, I passed by the crèche on the Boston Common, a public display acknowledging the majority Christian faith of the residents of the City of Boston. Had I been there a few days earlier I should have seen the public menorah, which was lighted from December 8th through 15th, a civic statement of the importance of Jews and of the Jewish faith in our fair city. This is as it should be. It was not always so.

In Puritan Boston, Christmas was not generally celebrated at all until the middle of the 19th century. In the mid-17th century, when Puritans held political power, the celebration of Christmas was banned. The Puritans, you see, did not subscribe to our secular doctrine of separation of church and state. They did not consider Christmas permissible in their sect and had no qualms about using the power the state deny the joys of Christmas to anyone else, be it Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, or even non-believer who simply enjoyed a bit of merriment during the shortest days of the year.

Image what puritan preacher Cotton Mather would have said from his pulpit in North Square if he knew that a menorah would be on Boston Common 300 years later! He would have probably condemned as witches any Jews he could find in the Bay Colony. A state-run church, especially one organized around very narrow beliefs, is not likely to deal gently with other faiths or persons of no faith.

Now we have freedom! Under our 1787 Federal Constitution the United States may not establish a state church. The Fourteen Amendment, in 1868, extended that prohibition to the States. Recognition of the universal right to freedom to practice religion is part of the fundamental charter of our nation.

Sadly, some today are attempting to change that fundamental understanding of the place of religion in our secular republic. From some liberal politicians we are increasingly hearing the phrase "freedom of worship" in place of the traditional American doctrine of "freedom of religion." "Freedom of worship" merely guarantees the right to gather in church, synagogue, or other place of worship for the liturgies or services of our denominations. Freedom to practice one's religion goes beyond that to recognize the civic aspects of faith. That includes the public display of nativity scenes and menoroth (yes, that is the correct plural of menorah, my two years of Hebrew in college finally comes in handy).

Those public displays of faith are important reminders that not only do we have no state religion, but that the state itself is not our religion. It is also not our metaphysic, nor our science. We pledge allegiance to the flag of our Republic, but we also, each of us, has other allegiances -- to God, to humanistic philosophy, to the rules of physics, and so forth.

On Christmas we celebrate the birth of the kings of kings. We do so in a secular state that, so far, has recognized the right of every person to practice, or not practice, religion, as his conscience dictates. Let us pray and work for an America where freedom of religion is never infringed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Further on Massachusetts Ballot Question 2

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Further on Massachusetts Ballot Question 2

by David Trumbull -- December 7, 2012

On November 6, 2012, the voters of Massachusetts rejected, by 51%, a ballot question that would have legalized physician-prescribed suicide. Question 2 was vigorously opposed by the Catholic Church and others who believe that suicide is never the answer. Groups representing the medical profession and advocates for the disabled also opposed.

Question 2 illustrated a couple of the reasons why enacting law by popular initiative is inferior, as a process, to enacting bills in the legislature.

The choices on a public policy question may be properly framed as "no" and "yes, under such-and-such terms." Say a bill is filed in the legislature to legalize physician-prescribed suicide. Some legislators will be opposed. Others may be open to the idea; for them the job is to work out under what circumstances, and subject to what restraints, it will be legal. Through this process the legislature decides both what is to be done and the manner in which it will be done. When a bill is introduced in the legislature amendments may be offered; some may be accepted. Bills approved by the legislature have been, in many cases, improved by this system of debate and deliberation. On the other hand, a ballot question may be answered in just one of two ways, "no" or "yes." A complex policy question is reduced to a single solution, written by the proponents of the initiative, with no ability to improve it by amendments prior to passage.

That leads to the second flaw in use of the initiative to enact policy. A complex policy question is put to voters who, in most cases, will have given very little, if any, thought to it until shortly before the election. This is especially so considering that ballot questions generate much less press and public interest than "top of the ticket" races for President and Senator. Unlike our elected representatives who vote on a bill after hearings, debate, and deliberation, voters deciding a ballot question will, in many cases, be informed, if at all, by "sound bite" advertisements on radio and television.

Polls several weeks out from the election showed the public quite favorable to Question 2. Opponents of physician-prescribed suicide could not reasonably expect, in the brief window of public interest, to persuade voters that not only religious teaching, but also reason and natural law, dictate that physicians should not be angels of death. Therefore the opponents, wisely, crafted their public campaign around what they characterized as flaws in the proposal. This had the advantage of persuading some voters, who might not oppose physician-assisted suicide in all cases, to oppose this particular proposal. However, that left the underlying question not only unanswered, but un-debated. Physician-prescribed suicide is, literally, a question of life and death. Such questions require sober reflection, sound education, and serious evaluation. A simple "yes" or "no" ballot question with most of the discussion consisting of little more than "sound bites" is no way to deliberate over, let alone settle, such a policy issue.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

2012 Massachusetts Ballot Question Physician-Prescribed Suicide

Res Publica
2012 Massachusetts Ballot Question Physician-Prescribed Suicide
by David Trumbull -- November 30, 2012

One of the most liberal States in the Union, in an election in which the Democrats at the top of the ticket won by comfortable margins, narrowly defeated physician-prescribed suicide. Let's examine the data from the election and see what they may tell us about the voters.

1. Working class Democratic cities opposed Question 2.

The top 15 (by population) communities account for 30% of the total population of the Commonwealth. Question 2 was defeated in 10 of these communities: Brockton (63.8% opposed), Fall River (63.1%), Haverhill (53.8%), Lawrence (69.4%), Lowell (57.6%), Lynn (59.2%), New Bedford (62.5%), Quincy (54.1%), Springfield (65.5%). and Worcester (58.7%), by large margins. In Boston it barely (51%) passed. 26 municipalities account for 40% of the population of the Commonwealth; Question 2 was defeated in 20 of them.

The cities where Question 2 was defeated are, generally speaking, those that, historically, had large Catholic immigrant populations (French Canadians, Italians, Poles, and Portuguese) or substantial recent immigration of Catholics and conservative Evangelicals (Brazilians, Cape Verdeans, and Hispanics). They are also among the poorer communities in Massachusetts. Some of the cities most opposed to Question 2 also had sizeable African-American populations.

In the United States Senate election these communities most opposed to Question 2 went heavily for liberal Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Moderate Republican Scott Brown carried one of the top 15, and 5 out of the top 26. He was not even competitive in most of the rest of them. The cities populated by more affluent professionals, Brookline, Cambridge, and, Newton, also went heavily for the Democratic candidate, however they went equally heavily in favor of Question 2.

2. Many, but not all, Republican-leaning towns and small cities opposed Question 2.

Of 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth 166 had vote totals on Question 2 that were majority opposed. Once we look past the largest communities, find 156 small to medium sized communities where Question 2 was defeated. Scott Brown won 133 of them. These communities are among those that traditionally have supported Republicans and are among the more conservative in an otherwise liberal State.

My hypothesis is that Question 2 was defeated in part due to a competent organized opposition and the nature of turnout on Election Day, as driven by the candidates for the two major parties. Strong candidates from both parties and a hotly contested race brought high turnout. The large Democratic turnout for Ms. Warren in the cities may have brought to the polls a large number of economic liberal/social conservative voters in blue-color immigrant cities. While that also brought large numbers of social liberals to the polls in affluent cities and suburbs, the strong Republican support for Mr. Brown in the smaller more conservative communities may have brought out offsetting economic and social conservatives in those municipalities.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What Happened to Senator Brown?

Res Publica
What Happened to Senator Brown?
by David Trumbull -- November 23, 2012

After Scott Brown's win in the January 2010 Special Election I did an analysis of his remarkably strong showing in the City of Boston. Recently I did the same for this year's election. In both elections half of Mr. Brown's Boston votes came from the following neighborhoods:

  • Back Bay/Beacon Hill/Downtown,
  • Brighton, Chestnut Hill,
  • Charlestown,
  • Parts of Dorchester (Cedar Grove, Clam Point, Neponset, and Pope's Hill),
  • Part of East Boston (Central Square, Eagle Hill, and Orient Heights),
  • North End,
  • Readville,
  • Roslindale/West Roxbury,
  • South Boston, and
  • West Roxbury.
His 2010 percentages in those neighborhoods ranged from 45% to 60%. Voter turnout was relatively high in those neighborhoods. With the exception of Beacon Hill (41% turnout) the best neighborhoods for Brown in 2010 all had turnout in excess of the citywide average of 43%. Three had turnout at, or nearly at, 60%, very high for a special election. In contrast, among the best neighborhoods for the 2010 Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, about 16% of them had turnout in excess of the citywide average, most were under 40% and some were under 30%. Mr. Brown failed to win Boston in 2010, but, for a Republican he did very well by getting a high percentage of his potential voters to the polls and that stronger-than-expected showing in Boston, combined with victories elsewhere, elected him to the U.S. Senate.

In 2012 the total number of registered Boston voters was up 30,000 over 2010, and turnout, at 64% was substantially higher that in 2010. The beneficiary of the large voter base and turnout rate was the Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Warren. She got about 80,000 votes more than the Democratic candidate in 2010. Mr. Brown picked up about 17,500 more votes than he got in 2010. In the best neighborhoods for Brown turnout was up in 2012, ranging from 62% to 77%, but most of that helped the Democrat, as Brown picked up merely 5,800 additional votes in his best neighborhoods. In the neighborhoods that Ms. Warren won by the largest margins, voter turnout was up, typically, 20 or even 30 percentage points above the rates in 2010. Put these numbers together and you get the result in Boston, Brown dropping from 30.3% in 2010 to 25.7% in 2010, a loss of about 4.5 percentage points.

In the North End, where the Post-Gazette is published, Brown did slightly better in 2012 (48.6%) than he did in 2010 (46.3%). North End turnout was also up, at 61.9% compared to 46.3% in 2010.

In East Boston, where the Post-Gazette has a satellite office, the story was reversed. In 2010 the historically Italian-American neighborhood of Orient Heights went big for Brown (54.1%). Turnout, which in 2010 was 43.1%, went up in Orient Heights to 65.1%, and the vote for Brown dropped to 40.1%. I wonder if the 15-percentage point (three times the citywide average) defection away from the Republican toward the Democrat is related to the changing demographics of East Boston. As I pointed out in my April 15, 2011, Post-Gazette column, that neighborhood has become more and more Hispanic over time. Republicans, over the past decade, have not done a good job of giving that growing group of American citizens reasons to vote for the party of economic opportunity and traditional values.

Finally, kudos to Patrick Brennan, whose hard work in South Boston helped delivery Scott Brown 52.4% of the vote in that neighborhood in the recent election.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm Just Thankful the Election is Over

Res Publica

I'm Just Thankful the Election is Over

by David Trumbull -- November 16, 2012

The incumbent President was re-elected in a close, 51% to 48% (popular vote) contest, confirming, as we have known since the 2000 election, that the Union is just about evenly split between Republican and Democratic voters. The President's party gained a few seats in both the House and in the Senate, but neither chamber will see a change in control.

The opposition had hoped that discontent with the President would be enough to turn him out of office. They were wrong. After the election some argued that the man chosen to run against the President -- a multi-millionaire from Massachusetts who did not connect well with working men and women and who had a reputation as a "flip-flopper" on important public policy questions -- was a weak candidate. Indeed, all through the race for the nomination doubts had been raised about him, but, unfortunately for the party, all the alternatives were flawed and, looking back, the choice seems inevitable.

How's that for a summary of the 2012 federal elections? For that matter, how about the 2004 federal elections? Dissatisfaction with Obama's handling of the economy and health care was not widespread enough to un-seat him, anymore than disagreement with Bush's conduct of the War on Terror was enough to defeat him. Both won narrowly (51%) over less than ideal opponents. Both saw modest gains in the House and Senate, although, unlike Bush, President Obama will start his second term without a majority in the House.

After the 2004 election I wrote in this space: "I wish I could soothe my Democratic friends by saying, 'calm down, President Bush can't do one-tenth of the Bad Things you fear he'll do.' He likewise will not do one-tenth of the Good Things I'd like him to do." I believe the same is true of President Obama.

The Republic will survive four more years of Obama. At the end we will be weaker, poorer, and have less freedom, but will shall survive and, with a change in leadership, recover. Republican House and Senate gains in 2014 will limit Obama's ability to inflict all the harm he would with a Democratic Congress. History suggests that second terms seldom go as well as the winner expects. All in all, 2016 is, already, looking to be a good year for Republicans and for the Republic.

Next Thursday I'll be thankful that we won't see and hear negative campaign ads, at least for a few months. I'll be thankful that my friends on both sides can stop sniping over politics. I'll be thankful that the United States is, as Will Rogers said before the 1932 election, too big for any one man to spoil.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fly Me To The Moon

Res Publica
Fly Me To The Moon
by David Trumbull -- October 12, 2012

Fifteen years ago, on October 16, 1997, the Jupiter 2 spacecraft left earth carrying the Robison family and two other men (one of whom was an unintended traveler) to colonize a planet of the nearby star Alpha Centauri. Well, at least in the Columbia Broadcasting System's television series, Lost in Space, that is what happened! In September of 2015, just three years from now, Lost in Space itself will be 50 years old! Wow, was my childhood that long ago?

As a boy, I watched every space travel television show and movie I could find. We lived, for several months, in Coco, Florida (near Coco Beach where another space-age TV show, I Dream of Jeannie, was set) and watched the rocket launches from our backyard. In my lifetime I saw America put a man on the moon, just as President Kennedy had committed us to do. In fact, we put a total of twelve men on the moon and got each one safely back. As a boy, in the late 1960s, I would have been dismayed to learn that as a man, in my 50s, I should live on in an America that has not put a man on the moon since Apollo 17, forty years ago this December -- we don't even try anymore.

Over 500 years later, Christopher Columbus' 1492 voyage of discovery still stands as the beginning of mankind's last colonization of a new world. What of my boyhood expectations of routine space travel and folks living on other worlds? Over luncheon this week with some pretty bright people, including the son of a mechanical engineer who built equipment for National Aeronautics and Space Administration ("NASA") missions of the 1960s, I asked, Did we simply lose the resolve to colonized space? Or was the science fiction of the 1960s unrealistic as to the prospects for colonization? The opinion, at the table, was that space colonization will be much, much harder than popularly imagined in my youth. In other words, Columbus' feat of opening of a new world for colonization will not be matched any time soon.

Today, if Americans fly to the moon and learn what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars, it will be merely in flights of fancy, inspired by Bart Howard's 1954 song -- probably as sung and swung by Italian-American crooner, Frank Sinatra.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Saturday is Felt Hat Day

September 15th is Felt Hat Day the end of the season when men may wear their straw boaters and Panamas rather than the fur felt fedoras, porkpies, homburgs, and bowlers that we wear (You do wear a hat, don't you?) the rest of the year. For more information see http://www.thefedoralounge.com/. Straw hats may not be worn again until Straw Hat Day which is May 15th.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Power of Five Percent

by David Trumbull

It looks like Salvatore LaMattina, Boston City Councillor for District One, which covers Charlestown, East Boston, the North End, Downtown, and part of Beacon Hill, will not be the next Suffolk County Register of Probate. Unofficial results show him in second place, with 49 percent of the vote in the Democratic Primary. It was close, but Patricia Campatelli leads by over 600 votes, out of about 30 thousand votes cast for that office, and the official results are unlikely to change that significantly. Turnout was low, with 7.5 percent of the 413,927 registered voters actually voting in this race. Ms. Campatelli, a resident of East Boston, will face no Republican opposition in November. If past experience is a guide, it is safe to assume that Ms. Campatelli will hold that position until she chooses to depart. As we know, Suffolk County voters practically never turn out an incumbent Democrat. Well, that's the voters' prerogative, and Ms. Campatelli won, so I say, Congratulations to her. My analysis that follows is not meant in anyway to take away from her victory, however, I think citizens in Suffolk County should consider this latest, in a continuing trend, of a very small number of citizens deciding who will hold public office.

Voter turnout is a funny thing. One often hears people say that a single vote doesn't matter. Yet voter behavior suggests that many voters don't understand just how their votes count. Just to be clear, every vote matters. Even if you take a ballot and return it blank, that is recorded as a vote -- it is a message to the candidates that you bothered to go to the polling place and vote even though there was no one on the ballot that you approved of, either because you disapproved, or perhaps simply didn't know enough about them to have an opinion. However, it is also true that your vote matters more when it is more likely to determine the outcome. Ironically, the people who say "my vote doesn't matter" are the same ones who skip contests where their votes matter a great deal but participate in contest where their votes matter little, or not at all.

Take the recent primary (please). Overall turnout for the September 6th primaries was 11 percent across Suffolk County, which is made up of the cities of Boston, Chelsea, and Revere, and the town of Winthrop. But turnout varied from race to race. Nine percent of the registered voters cast a ballot for either incumbent U.S. Senator Scott P. Brown, a Republican, or his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth A. Warren. Perhaps they wanted to make an early show of support for a candidate prior to the November final election. Perhaps the organizations of both campaigns used the primary as a "dry-run" of the get-out-the-vote program then plan for November. Who knows? But there is one thing we can say with certainty: none of those votes counted in the slightest in determining the result as, in both cases, there was only one name on the ballot. 36,786 persons voted in the primaries for U.S. Senator, 32,840 in the Democratic Primary alone. Now compare that to the Campatelli/LaMattina race for Register of Probate. 30,919 persons voted in that race, a race where every vote truly mattered, as the winner will be the next Register of Probate and it was a very tight race. Nearly six thousand more people cast "practice" votes for a Senatorial candidate who would have won even if all the voters stayed home than cast votes in a race where their votes would have made a difference.

Along with the Register of Probate contest there were two Clerk of Courts positions filled in this Democratic Primary (because no Republican is running in the November final election). Maura A. Hennigan won for Clerk of Courts (Criminal) and Michael J. Donovan for Clerk of Courts (Civil). In none of these races did the winning candidate win the suffrages of more than 5 percent of the registered voters. Again, I have nothing against these particular politicians. They won and are to be congratulated. However, am I the only one who thinks that is not good for the long-term health of our Democracy when important offices are filled by candidates who enjoy the active support of merely 5 percent of the registered voters?

Friday, August 31, 2012

GOP Platform, "We Believe in America"

Res Publica
GOP Platform, "We Believe in America"
by David Trumbull -- August 31, 2012

Pop culture dominates the landscape of the American mind, so it's no surprise that the title of Republican Party Platform adopted this week in Tampa echoes a well known movie opening line. The Platform is a dense document that, like The Godfather, reveals more upon repeated viewings, and, like many serious works of prose, says as much by what it leaves out as by what it spells out.

We all know that, despite all the distractions thrown up by the mainstream media in their frenzy to re-elect President Obama, the only issue in this campaign is JOBS. Who can get Americans back to work at salaries and wages that make possible the American Dream. Current weak business conditions and unacceptably high unemployment and underemployment have many causes, but everyone -- that is everyone outside of the Washington, D.C., echo-chamber -- knows that one of the main reasons is our failed trade policy.

Let's look at what the GOP Platform and Mr. Romney have to say on trade policy.

The document contrasts Republican policy with the course pursued by President Obama. It praises, "The Free Trade Agreements negotiated with friendly democracies since President Reagan’s trailblazing pact with Israel in 1985," and charges, "That record makes all the more deplorable the current Administration’s ... failure to pursue any new trade agreements with friendly nations." This is true. The U.S. still maintains tariffs on imports of goods from Western Democracies, such as Italy, however President Obama is aggressively pursuing a Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam, an authoritarian state ruled by the Communist Party, which his own State Department acknowledges as one of the worst violators of human rights. Mr. Obama is also pursuing a Free Trade Agreement with Brunei, an Islamic state where most criminal activity is defined and punished according to draconian Islamic sharia law. According to the State Department it is illegal in Brunei to teach Christianity and violators can be fined or imprisoned. Education in Islam is required by law in Brunei.

The Platform also condemns the ways some governments unfairly "limit American access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents, brands, know-how, and technology -- the intellectual property that drives innovation," and cites as the chief offender, China. The current Administration’s way of dealing with all these violations of world trade standards the GOP Platform characterizes as "virtual surrender." This is true. Many reputable economists have calculated that China's manipulation of it's currency to maximize exports and minimize imports gives that nation an unfair advantage of at least 35%, yet President Obama has, repeatedly, refused to name China as a currency manipulator or file a complaint with the World Trade Organization that China is illegally distorting trade through her currency policy. This Administration's lack of action of China's theft of American intellectual property is appalling.

This Labor Day weekend, take a few minutes away from the cookout and fun with friends and family to look at the two presidential candidates and their platforms. Ask yourself, Which one offers working men and women of America the best plan to create jobs that allow you to raise a family and be proud of your contribution to society, and which offers bigger government and more dependency on government hand-outs instead of the dignity of a job.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Republican Party, Again, Drives Voters to the Democratic Party on Election Day

Res Publica
Republican Party, Again, Drives Voters to the Democratic Party on Election Day
by David Trumbull -- August 24, 2012

Looking at this fall's elections, not many men and women have stepped up to give the voters of the North End and East Boston -- prime readership of this Post-Gazette column -- a choice. The Democratic Party has someone running for each of the eleven offices to be filled. However, out of the ten where there could be a primary contest, Democratic voters will determine the outcome of but four. The other six have only one name per office on the ballot -- so Democratic primary voters have no choice.

Here's how it breaks down. Democrats Terrence W. Kennedy and Francis Xavier Flaherty, Jr. are vying for Executive Councillor. No Republican is running.

For positions in the Suffolk County Courts, Democrats Michael Joseph Donovan and Michael L. Dash are vying for Clerk of Court (Civil Business). Democrats Maura A. Hennigan and Robert J. Dello Russo, Sr. are running for Clerk of Court (Criminal Business). Democrats Patricia Patty Campatelli and Salvatore LaMattina are facing off for Register of Probate. None of these Democrats will face a Republican on the November ballot. For Clerk of Supreme Court and Register of Deeds there isn't even a contest for the Democratic nomination, so voters are quite irrelevant to the process.

For Representative in the General Court the Democrat faces no contest in either the primary or the general election. So out of eight county or state offices to be filled, four will be decided in the Democratic primary, three are already decided before anyone votes (because only one person is running). That leaves just one race that will be decided by the voters in the November election, that is for Senator in the General Court where Republican Thomas Dooley is challenging Democrat Anthony Petruccelli.

Looking to national races, voters in the North End will have the choice of Democrat Stephen Lynch or whichever of the two Republicans, Joe Selvaggi or Matias Temperly, wins in the Republican primary for Representative in Congress. In East Boston the Democratic candidate for Congressman will have no Republican opposition.

The race for United States Senator will pit Democrat Elizabeth Warren against incumbent Republican Scott Brown. For President we all know that Republican Mitt Romney is challenging Democrat Barack Obama.

My question to the Republicans is: Why would I want to register in your party? Say I am a Republican-leaning voter. If I live in the North End there is but one contested Republican primary election to vote in, out of ten possible. And even then, it's just to pick which Republican will lose to the Democrat in November. If I live in East Boston your primary is utterly pointless to me as a voter as you have no contests to settle that day. Far smarter for me to be an unenrolled voter and vote in the Democratic primary which will decide who will be Executive Councillor, Clerk of Court (Civil Business), Clerk of Court (Criminal Business), and Register of Probate, four offices for which there will not even be token Republican opposition in November.

Having voted in the Democratic primary (in order to have my vote matter) I then go into the voting booth in November to see, below the top couple of races, no Republicans running or some Republican whom I never heard of because, having no primary opponent, he wasn't news-worthy. On top of that, he's running against a Democrat who was on my September ballot, possible even a Democrat I voted for in the primary as the "lesser-of-two-evils." The harm from not having primary contests in the Republican Party doesn't stop there. Parties and candidates can spend huge amounts of money trying to identify voters who may lean their way, here in Massachusetts the Commonwealth does part of that for you. For free! If this independent but Republican-leaning voter had pulled a Republican ballot in September that is information you can get free or at slight cost from the city's Election Department. With that information you would know that I am a strong candidate for your get-out-the-vote effort in November. But, because you didn't have primary contests to interest me, I voted in the more important Democratic primary. I'm still far more likely to vote Republican in November. That is if I remember to vote. But you have no way of knowing that. I might have even been a good target for your fund raising efforts, but for all you know, I'm a Democrat, since you forced me into that party's primary.

In sum, what is the point of a political party that doesn't run people for political office?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

by David Trumbull -- July 13, 2012


I don’t agree with the A.C.L.U. on a lot of things, but in this case they happen to be right.” -- New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
To the embarrassment of Bostonians, Mayor Menino made national news when he wrote to Dan Cathy, President of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, warning, "I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston." His comments in the Boston Herald were more menacing: "If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult." One Facebook friend, after reading Mr. Menino's threat, posted, "Did he also add, 'That's a nice restaurant you have up there at the Burlington Mall. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.'?" Chicago Mayor and former Chief of Staff to President Obama, Rahm Emanuel, made similar threats against Chick-fil-A in that city.

Why this vendetta against a business, which according to accounts (I've never eaten there myself) serves up some mighty tasty chicken? Well, as you may know by now, Mr. Cathy, citing his deeply held religious convictions, has stated that he does not support same sex marriage. To the best of my knowledge, there is no allegation that Chick-fil-A has engaged in discrimination against gays and lesbians. To the contrary, the company has a policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation. So this is not in the slightest about discrimination on the part of Mr. Cathy or Chick-fil-A. What it is is blatant, officially sanctioned intolerance of Mr. Cathy's religious beliefs. Shame on you Mayor Menino!

Mr. Cathy's views are certainly not out of the mainstream. Mr. Cathy is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, the second largest religious body in the United States (over 16 million members). Many millions of Americans, for religious or other reasons, do not support same sex marriage. Why, up until a few weeks ago President Obama was against same sex marriage! Mr. Emanuel, who campaigned and worked for the President, expressed no outrage about Obama's opposition to same sex marriage. Mayor Menino's Catholic Church (largest religious body in America) holds the same position on the subject as Mr. Cathy's Southern Baptist Convention. Why single out Mr. Cathy? Simply this, he doesn't keep his views to himself, he has stated them openly and has donated money to like-minded organizations. In sum, Mr. Cathy has engaged in political speech to say something liberal politicians don't like to hear, so they seek to shut him up by threatening to make it impossible for him to do business in their cities.

"It’s clearly unconstitutional," said University of California at Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh in response to Menino's threat to deny permits based on a person’s opinions. And, as Mayor Bloomberg pointed out, even the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports same sex marriage, warned Chicago politicians against infringing First Amendment rights. “What the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,” said Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the ACLU of Illinois.

I think it's about time I find out for myself whether Chick-fil-A tastes as good as they say. To do so I'll have to cross the road -- several roads -- and go up to Burlington.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Part of " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Don't You Understand, Mr. President?

POST-GAZETTE, Res Publica
What Part of " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Don't You Understand, Mr. President?
by David Trumbull - July 20, 2012

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wisconsin) has introduced legislation, H.R.6097, the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act, to stop the Obama Administration from taxing religious institutions and employers for choosing to follow core tenets of their faith rather than bow to the HHS mandate that violates their conscience rights.

As you know, on January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") reaffirmed a rule forcing health care plans to cover sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Many religiously-affiliated school, hospitals, and social service agencies cannot comply with this mandate. Obama's response is to tax them out of existence.

“Obamacare gives the federal government the tools to tax religiously-affiliated schools, hospitals, universities and soup kitchens right out of existence," said Representative Sensenbrenner, who pointed out that the fine for following your conscience is $100 per employee per day. As Sensenbrenner explained, "A religious institution that, say, has a church and an elementary school beside it that employs fifty employees total, which include the administrative and maintenance personnel, ends up being taxed $36,500 per employee per year." For that church and school with 50 employees the tax on the right to follow church teaching would be nearly $2 million per year, every year.

Boston has Catholic schools that would be forced to close if the Obama Administration war on religious freedom is allowed to go forward. Sensenbrenner, who is an Anglican, pointed out that in his state of Wisconsin there are many Lutheran schools as well as Catholic schools that will be forced to close if Obama has his way.

Sensenbrenner is joined by 56 cosponsors of the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act. All the sponsors are Republicans. Not a single Democrat in Congress has been willing to oppose the President and stand up in support of our First Amendment freedom to practice religion.

The HHS mandate is just the latest Obama Administration attack on religion. Back in January the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a Lutheran school (Hosanna-Tabor) had a First Amendment religious freedom to choose its own ministers and that the Obama Administration's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's attempt to meddle in the church's employment practices was unconstitutional.

The HHS mandate must, and will, be overturned!

Friday, July 13, 2012

First, Do No Harm

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
First, Do No Harm
by David Trumbull -- July 13, 2012

According to its promoters, the proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts has been certified to appear on our November ballots. The Archdiocese of Boston has launched a website, http://suicideisalwaysatragedy.org/ to educate voters about this ill-considered proposal, warning of doctor-prescribed death:
  • It facilitates the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person.
  • It promotes a most insidious form of discrimination, especially against the disabled.
  • Certain people claim for themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die.
  • It harms the integrity of the physician/patient relationship.
I applaud Cardinal O'Malley for directing resources of the Archdiocese against this dangerous initiative. One hopes that in Massachusetts, one of the most Catholic States in the Union, voters will reject this assault on the dignity of all human life. Equally, I hope that opposition to physician-assisted suicide not become narrowly religious. Reason, unaided by Scripture, but guided by Nature, ought to lead one to reject doctor-prescribed death. Some ancient, pre-Christian scientists and philosophers did exactly that.

Ancient Roman statesman Cicero, writing in the first century before Christ, disparaged self-murder, likening the suicide to a soldier who deserts his post. In the Sixth Book of his De Re Publica, Cicero has us imagine the hero Publius Scipio Africanus the Younger (185–129 B.C.) visited, in a dream, by his dead father and grandfather. In the dream the elder Scipio (236-183 B.C.) tells his grandson that the dead are, in truth, more alive than the living, for they "have soared away from the bonds of the body, as from a prison-house; but your life, as it is called, is really death."

The younger Scipio responds to the ghost, "Why do I linger on earth? Why don't I hurry up and come to you there?" The answer is given: "Unless that God, to whom all this region that you can see belongs, has released you from the keeping of your body, the entrance to this place cannot be open to you... So, my Publius, you and all good men must allow the soul to remain in the keeping of the body, nor without His command, by whom it was given to you."

Even earlier, around the 5th century before Christ, physician-assisted suicide was rejected as incompatible with the healing profession. "First, do no harm," is a commonly voiced summary of the eponymous oath crafted by the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.). For centuries, physicians of all, and no, religious belief have recited:
"I swear by Apollo the Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods, and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that...I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

American Freedom and Equality Continued

POST-GAZETTE, Res Publica
American Freedom and Equality Continued
by David Trumbull - July 6, 2012

The drama of liberty, which we celebrated on the Fourth of July, continues. Four years after the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts framed this Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants:
All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
Those words were invoked three years later by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice William Cushing, stating:
[the words of the Constitution] declare that all men are born free and equal; and that every subject is entitled to liberty... In short slavery is in my judgment as effectively abolished as it can be by the granting of rights and privileges wholly incompatible and repugnant to its existence.
It would take decades, and America's bloodiest war, to bring freedom to all Americans. Abraham Lincoln's words in 1863 at Gettysburg mark another scene in the drama:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal" Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.
However, in the political and civic realm the genius for enlargement of liberties has, in recent decades, severely atrophied. On November 2, 1976, the voters of the Commonwealth adopted Amendment 106 to the Massachusetts Constitution, which added to the phrase, All people are born free and equal, the following enumeration: Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin. It is a catalog of protected classes, which, far from expanding freedom, suggests that while "all people are born free and equal" the law need only concern itself with persons so far as they are representatives of their sex, race, etc. In sum it is a denial of individual freedom in favor of group identity.

Under this political theory, which now enjoys support among the elite in our Commonwealth, persons are not equal before the law based on nothing more than shared humanity. Rather, they assert that rights arise out of membership is some particular class. There is no end to the new protected classes than politicians can pander to, to the detriment of the common good and equality of persons. And no end to the spurious new rights, which are no rights at all but merely political patronage directed at preferred classes who vote for these politicians.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Collect for Independence Day

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

POST-GAZETTE, Res Publica
Independence Day 2012
by David Trumbull -- June 29, 2012
“…In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole…This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English Colonies probably than in any other people of the earth...”
--Edmund Burke, addressing the English House of Commons,
March 22, 1775.
At ten o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, July 4th, the Declaration of Independence will be read out to the assembled people from the balcony of the Old State House just as it first was in Boston on July 18, 1776.

The document is tripartite. The preamble contains a general justification of self-government. It ends with the formal declaration of severance of ties to Great Britain and the establishment of a new sovereign entity, the United States of America. Between these lies an enumeration of the outrages of King George III which justify this revolutionary act.

They are -- or ought to be -- familiar to us. They would have sounded familiar to hearers in 1776 as well, for the Americans' bill of indictment of King George echoes in many ways the 1689 English Bill of Rights -- an indictment of King James II after he abdicated the throne. The English Bill of Rights declared that the king had subverted the laws and liberties of his kingdom:
  • By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;
  • By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power;
  • By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative for other time and in other manner than the same was granted by Parliament;
  • By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law;
  • By causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;
  • By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament;
  • By prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes cognizable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses.
The American patriots quoted with slight modifications many of those phrases. And they improved on the English precedent by dropping the anti-Catholic language which to this day mars the British constitution.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Fortnight for Freedom

POST-GAZETTE Res Publica
A Fortnight for Freedom
by David Trumbull -- June 22, 2012

Intolerance -- official state-sponsored intolerance -- is on the rise in American to an extent not seen since the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s or even the period of the "Know Nothings" in the mid 1800s. America's Catholic bishops have characterized the Obamacare HHS mandate as unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional.

On Friday, June 8th, several hundred of us gathered on Boston Common to rally against the mandate's unconstitutional interference with the free exercise of religion. We were Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and even a few non-believers who understood that the issue is not the Church's teaching on sexuality, but our Constitutional freedom as Americans to practice religion, or no religion, unimpeded by unjustifiable government intrusion,

The Catholic bishops have called for the fourteen days from June 21st to July 4th to be dedicated as “fortnight for freedom.” and have issued the following Q & A to explain what is at issue.

"What do we mean by religious liberty?

"Religious liberty is the first liberty granted to us by God and protected in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It includes more than our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.

"What is the First Amendment?

"The First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights states the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

"What does “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” mean?

"This phrase, known as the “Establishment Clause,” started out as a prohibition on Congress’ either establishing a national religion or interfering with the established religions of the states. It has since been interpreted to forbid state establishments of religion, to forbid governmental preference (at any level) of one religion over another, and to forbid direct government funding of religion.

"What does “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” mean?

"This phrase, known as the “Free Exercise Clause,” generally protects citizens and institutions from government interference with the exercise of their religious beliefs. It sometimes mandates the accommodation of religious practices when such practices conflict with federal, state, or local laws."


Obviously the bishops know the Constitution, which is more than we can say for our "constitutional scholar" President.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prayer for Religious Freedom

Cardinal Sean is asking Catholics to recite this prayer for religious freedom as part of the "Fortnight for Freedom" initiative which runs from June 21 to July 4.

Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus. We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; by your grace may we have the courage to defend them for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness, and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Last Hope of Mankind

POST-GAZETTE, Res Publica
The Last Hope of Mankind
by David Trumbull -- June 15, 2012

Last week I discussed the first half of Daniel Webster's First Bunker Hill Oration; here, in time for Bunker Hill Day, is the rest.

After his brief summary of the history of America, from Christopher Columbus to the Battle of Bunker Hill, our guide, Daniel Webster, next surveys the fifty years since the battle and finds progress both in America and abroad although not at the same pace, which he compares to "vessels on a common tide, propelled by the gales at different rates, according to their several structure and management, but all moved forward by one mighty current, strong enough to bear onward whatever does not sink beneath it." Knowledge, he says, has triumphed and mankind in 1825 are, "better fed and better clothed . . . they are able also to enjoy more leisure; they possess more refinement and more self-respect. A superior tone of education, manners, and habits prevail." More importantly, he finds those past fifty years to have been given over to "the great question of politics and government."

“A great wheel of political revolution," says Webster, "began to move in America." He compares the guarded regularity and safety of that wheel's rotation in America with its irregular and violent impulses elsewhere and concludes that America was fortunate in the condition of the land and character of the populace at the time of our Revolution. Americans, while under the authority of the mother country, had, nevertheless, many years' experience of self-government as regards internal matters and were accustomed to some of the basic elements of our Constitution: representative bodies, division of power, and checks and balances. He credits the character of the American people -- sober, moral, and religious -- for the restraint from plunder and spoil that might otherwise have attended our Revolution.

Webster exhorts Americans to exult in the conviction that our Revolution was a beneficial example to the world. It is, however, an example that he would not necessarily apply as a template. "We are not propagandists," he says. "Wherever other systems are preferred . . . we leave the preference to be enjoyed." However, given the favorable circumstances of America's experiment in democratic government he concludes that if the representative system fail here, it is unlikely to ever succeed. With America, he asserts, rests "the last hope of mankind." this is a phrase that will be echoed by Abraham Lincoln in his December 1862 Annual Message to Congress ("the last best, hope of earth") and Ronald Reagan in his January 1974 "We Will Be a City on a Hill" speech ("the last best hope of man on earth").

Saturday, June 9, 2012

America: Prodigy of Modern Times, the Wonder and the Blessing of the World.

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
America: Prodigy of Modern Times, the Wonder and the Blessing of the World.
by David Trumbull - June 8, 2012

From last week's subject, Martin Lomasney, remembered for saying, "Don't write when you can talk, don't talk when you can nod," I turn to a man who was never shy about speaking. Daniel Webster, one of our greatest orators, in his 1825 address at the laying of the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument, took the occasion to sketch a history of America of her people and their character.

In the introductory paragraphs he sets forth the purposes of the speech: (1) to move the listeners to an appreciation of the sacrifices of their ancestors; (2) to place the Battle of Bunker Hill as a pivot point in American history; and (3) to sketch a likely future of American prosperity.

He begins, not with the battle, nor even the War of Independence, but with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and continues through the early English settlements of North American -- in New England in 1620 by the Protestant Pilgrim Fathers and in Maryland in 1634 by Roman Catholics -- passing to "that prodigy of modern times, at once the wonder and the blessing of the world," the American Revolution. Webster justifies the erection of a monument to the first great battle of the revolution by pointing to the happiness and prosperity of America fifty years later, to the New World generally shaking off European colonialism, and to both Europe and American progressing in knowledge, legislation, commerce, in the arts, in letters, and in freedom since the American Revolution inaugurated a new age in the world.

Above, Don Feder addresses the June 8th Boston "Stop Obama's HHS Mandate / Stand Up for Religious Freedom" Rally. Note how Webster traces the origin of the United States not to the 1607 English settlement in Virginia, an essentially commercial enterprise, but the Protestants of Massachusetts and the Catholics of Maryland who came to America for religious liberty.


Returning to the subject at hand, Webster addresses the survivors of the Battle of Bunker Hill, about 40 of them, present. He pays homage, by name, to some the heroes of that battle who have since been gathered to their fathers. Finally, he addresses all the veterans of the Revolutionary War.

Having addressed the men who had served in the war, Webster turns to the narration of the events leading to, and proceeding from, the Battle of Bunker Hill. He traces the conflict to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament in 1774. He discourses on how the British suppression of Boston, rather than bringing the other colonies back to obedience to British authority, drove the 13 colonies together in a common rebellion against British outrages. He rehearses how resistance to British mis-rule turned bloody at the April 19, 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord and how New England united with "one cause, one country, one heart" for the June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill, he asserts, transformed the patriot cause from a local insurrection to a full-blown war of independence and inspired the world by showing that Americans were prepared to die for freedom.

Next week, Part 2 of Webster's 1st Bunker Hill Oration.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

“Don't write when you can talk. Don't talk when you can nod your head.”

Res Publica
“Don't write when you can talk. Don't talk when you can nod your head.”
by David Trumbull -- June 1, 2012

Many Post-Gazette readers will recognize the saying, by Martin Lomasney, that heads this column. It is one of the few things ever uttered by Lomasney (1859-1933) that made it into writing. Lomasney, as Democrat Ward Boss of Boston's old Ward Eight (now Ward Three), is one of Boston's most storied political figures.

Lomasney himself gave, in an interview with reporter Lincoln Steffens, probably the best definition of "ward boss" when he said, "There's got to be in every ward somebody that any bloke can come to-no matter what he's done-and get help. Help, you understand; none of your law and justice, but help." In return for that help the boss expected the bloke to vote the way the boss dictated.

The ward bosses of the 19th and early 20th century had tremendous power. With the power of the bosses came enemies. On March 7, 1894 Lomasney received a bullet wound in the leg in an unsuccessful assassination attempt. His assailant, James A. Dunan, blamed Lomasney for a dispute he had with the Boston Board of Health.

Dunan told a policeman at the scene, "I had a good reason for doing it. If you knew as much as I do, you would have done it yourself. He is a villain and anything but a friend of the unemployed." Lomasney is reported to have said something along the lines of, “The people didn't think an awful lot of aldermen, but they didn't think we ought to be shot without a fair trial." As for Dunan, he was committed to the Worcester insane asylum.

Martin (the "Mahatma") Lomasney is the subject of a show at the West End Museum. The exhibit, which runs through August 4th, is curated by West End Museum Executive Director Duane Lucia. The exhibit reception takes place on June 16th at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Guests will enjoy light refreshments, including the “Ward Eight”—a cocktail created in 1898 at Locke-Ober in honor of Lomasney’s election to the state legislature and the district largely responsible for his victory.

Recipe for the Ward Eight Cocktail

2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
Maraschino cherry (optional)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Buy a Poppy for a Disabled Vet

POST-GAZETTE Res Publica
Buy a Poppy for a Disabled Vet
by David Trumbull -- May 25, 2012

Each year I see fewer and fewer men on the street wearing remembrance poppies on Memorial Day, since 1971 celebrated on the last Monday in May. One year I couldn’t even find anyone selling Buddy Poppies, the paper replica flowers that the Veterans of Foreign Wars sell to raise money for disabled veterans.

Ninety years ago, before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW conducted its first poppy distribution, thus becoming the first veterans' group to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

In 1924 the VFW registered with the U.S. Patent Office the trademark right to the name Buddy Poppy. The VFW guarantees that all poppies bearing that name and the VFW label are genuine products of the work of disabled and needy veterans. No other organization, firm or individual can legally use the name Buddy Poppy.

When you buy your Buddy Poppy to wear this Memorial Day you will be giving material aid to a disabled veteran. And when you wear your Buddy Poppy you will be, to everyone who sees you, a reminder of the meaning of Memorial Day.

The American Legion also sells crepe paper poppies for Memorial Day. That is another fine organization worthy of your support.

Although the United States Department of Veterans Affairs states “The wearing of poppies in honor of America's war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day” many of us do join our friends from the British Commonwealth nations in wearing the red poppy of remembrance on November 11th as well.

This Memorial Day remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion to cause of liberty.

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The Torch: be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

—John McCrae (1872-1918)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Today is Straw Hat Day

May 15th is Straw Hat Day the beginning of the season when men may wear their straw boaters and Panamas rather than the fur felt fedoras, porkpies, homburgs, and bowlers that we wear (You do wear a hat, don't you?) the rest of the year. For more information see http://www.thefedoralounge.com. Straw hats may be worn until Felt Hat Day which is September 15th.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

"Your stick should be of plain Malacca or other wood, with either a crooked or straight handle. The only ornamentation allowable is a plain silver or gold band, or top; but perfectly plain is best form." -- Emily Post, Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home (1922), Chapter 34, "The Clothes of a Gentleman."

"Alfonse" holds the sticks.
Of the lady's walking stick Miss Post was silent, for, as it so many matters of dress, ladies are free to accessorize at will. The gentleman's wardrobe choices are few and defined. Speaking of definition, "Malacca," according to Merriam-Webster.com means "made or consisting of the cane of an Asian rattan palm (Calamus rotang)." It is from the common use of cane for men's sticks that "cane" has come to signify a walking stick of whatever construction. However, careful speakers always distinguish between "cane" and the more general term "stick."

Ebay is a good source for vintage sticks, which being fashion accessories were frequently non-weight-bearing. If you need assistance with mobility or stability you should seek out a weigh-bearing stick made to the correct length for your height. I have found the business www.fashionablecanes.com to be an excellent and affordable source. They have a large variety of shafts and handles. Their sticks are rated for the maximum weight they can safely bear. And, their website has instructions on how to determine the correct length of stick for you. This is extremely important as a stick that is too short or too long may actually aggravate the medical condition that indicated use of a stick.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Viva Mexico!


POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Viva Mexico!
by David Trumbull -- May 4, 2012


Congress wanted to commemorate the holiday Cinco de Mayo, but they could not agree on the date.
--Humorist Mark Russell at the 2011 Robert Benchley Society Annual Awards Dinner.
All joking aside, congress could be forgiven for being confused about Cinco de Mayo. Often mistaken, in America, for Mexico's Fourth of July (Mexico's Independence Day is, in fact, celebrated on September 16th), it commemorates the Battle of Puebla, where, in 1862, about 4,000 poorly equipped Mexican soldiers defeated an invading French army of twice that size. It isn't a big holiday in most of Mexico, rather it is local to the City of Puebla in central Mexico.

In other words, Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican equivalent to Bunker Hill Day or perhaps Patriots' Day, a local celebration of a local battle that had national importance.

Cinco de Mayo is now observed throughout the U.S., where it is a much bigger holiday than it is in Mexico. Some U.S. celebrations now extend to honoring Hispanic ancestry and culture of all origins -- North American, Central American, South American, and Caribbean -- not solely Mexican.

American love of Mexican cuisine and of the distinctly Mexican liquor, Tequila, has helped spread enjoyment of Cinco de Mayo, as has, frankly, the commercial interest of food and beverage vendors. Never one to pass on an excuse for a party, I'll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo, although perhaps with Bourbon rather than Tequila, the 5th falling on the first Saturday in May, which makes it Kentucky Derby Day.

The Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, may have been as significant for American history as it was for Mexico. It was during the American Civil War and many historians believe that France was on the verge coming to the aid of the Southern Confederates. The French defeat at Puebla put an end to such plans, if any. Who knows, had Mexico not defeated the French that day the United States might be several States fewer today. That's if the Union survived at all after a Civil War with foreign involvement. So, perhaps it is fitting that Cinco de Mayo is bigger holiday north of the border -- Viva Mexico!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our First, Most Cherished Liberty

Res Publica
Our First, Most Cherished Liberty
by David Trumbull -- April 20, 2012

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently published a statement on the attacks, by local, state and federal government, on religious liberty now happening across America. They cite case after case.

  • The Obamacare mandate that Catholic institutions pay for medical procedures they find morally impermissible.
  • The singling out of Christian student groups for expulsion from the campuses of public colleges.
  • The banning, as in Massachusetts and other states, of Catholic organizations from assisting in adoptions of children.
  • A City of New York "crackdown" on small Protestant churches.
  • Actions in several states to prohibit Catholic, Episcopal, and Methodist churches from performing their long-recognized role of providing sanctuary for the oppressed.
Intolerance -- official state-sponsored intolerance -- is on the rise in American to an extent not seen since the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s or even the period of the "Know Nothings" in the mid 1800s.

The bishops have characterized the Obamacare mandate as unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional.

In the early days of our Republic Thomas Jefferson assured the an order of nuns who served a mostly non-Catholic population by running a hospital, an orphanage, and schools that the principles of the Constitution were a “sure guarantee” that their ministry would be free “to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority. Such was the law in the 19th century and such was the law through the 20th century, and into the 21st century until the Obama Administration announced that Catholic institutions would have to operate as Washington bureaucrats dictated rather than in according with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The bishops have announced plans to pursue both "legislative and judicial efforts to restore respect for religious freedom in the nation." I am please to say that Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown supports legislation to restore the religious liberty we had for 224 years until August 2011. His Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, says that makes Senator Brown "extreme." The voters can settle that one in November.

In the meantime, the bishops have suggested that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated as a “fortnight for freedom” and have urged Catholic institutions to work "in cooperation with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, and indeed, all who wish to defend our most cherished freedom."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wedding Fireworks Display, Boston Inner Harbor, Saturday, May 19th.

Ocean State Pyrotechnics, Inc is sponsoring a wedding fireworks display on the waters of Boston Inner Harbor in the vicinity of Anthony's Pier 4, Boston, MA. The Captain of the Port (COTP) Boston has determined that fireworks displays in close proximity to watercraft and waterfront structures pose a significant risk to public safety and property. Such hazards include obstructions to the waterway that may cause marine casualties and the explosive danger of fireworks and debris falling into the water that may cause death or serious bodily harm. Establishing a safety zone around the location of this fireworks event will help ensure the safety of spectators, vessels and other roperty and help minimize the associated risks. This proposed safety zone will encompass a 450-foot radius around the firework barge.

The fireworks display will occur from approximately 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on May 19, 2012. To ensure public safety the proposed safety zone will be enforced immediately before, during, and immediately after the fireworks launch. If the event is cancelled due to inclement weather, then the proposed safety zone will not be enforced.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

2012 Republican National Convention Caucuses

In accordance with the rules of the Republican State Committee, Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Bob Maginn is pleased to announce that the following locations have been chosen to hold the 2012 caucuses for the purpose of selecting delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention to be held in Tampa, Florida from August 27 to August 30th 2012.

The caucus day is Saturday, April 28, 2012.Registration will begin at 9 a.m. with the caucus to begin at 10 a.m.

In accordance with the Republican Party rules and the results of the Massachusetts Republican Presidential Primary, all delegates and alternates are pledged to support Mitt Romney for President.
First Congressional District - North Middle School Cafeteria, 350 South Hampton Rd, Westfield 01085

Second Congressional District - Sutton Middle School, 383 Boston Road, Sutton 01590

Third Congressional District - Littleton Middle School, 55 Russell St, Littleon 01460

Fourth Congressional District - North Attleboro Middle School, 564 Landry Ave, North Attleboro 02760

Fifth Congressional District - Nevins Hall Memorial Building, 150 Concord St, Framingham 01702

Sixth Congressional District - Lynnfield High School, 275 Essex St, Lynnfield 01940

Seventh Congressional District - Randolph Community Middle School, 225 High St, Randolph 02368

Eighth Congressional District - Braintree Town Hall, 1 J.F.K. Memorial Drive, Braintree 02184

Ninth Congressional District - Old Rochester Regional High School, 135 Marion Rd, Mattapoisett 02739
The convention will host 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. The convention will also include approximately 15,000 credentialed media—an international press corps second only in size to this summer’s London Olympic Games

2012 will mark the third time the Republican Party convenes its convention in Florida. The Sunshine State also played host to the 1968 and 1972 Republican National Conventions that nominated Richard M. Nixon. Both were held in Miami Beach.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Repugnant to the Constitution and Void

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Repugnant to the Constitution and Void

by David Trumbull -- March 30, 2012


Last Friday, March 23rd, over 50,000 concerned citizens gathered at public rallies in over 100 American cities to Stand Up For Religious Freedom. The Boston rally was well attended, in spite of change of location to the Boston Common less than 48 hours prior to the rally and an erroneous rumor that it was being cancelled entirely.

For me the highlight of the Boston rally was C.J. Doyle, Executive Director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts (www.catholicactionleague.org), addressing the substantial arguments against the constitutionality of the Obama Administration's Department of Health and Human Services mandate that religiously affiliated hospitals and other institutions purchase products and services they find morally impermissible.

Mr. Doyle spoke of an earlier state attack on freedom of religion and how the United States Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that such attacks against Church-related institutions were "repugnant to the Constitution and void."

In 1922 the Ku Klux Klan in the state of Oregon pushed for passage, by popular initiative, of a law to ban private schools and to require all children to attend state schools. When Republican governor Benjamin W. Olcott issued a 1922 executive proclamation condemning the Klan that violent organization put its support behind the election of a new governor, Democrat Walter M. Pierce, who supported the anti-Catholic school ballot initiative.

The Klan celebrated two victories in the November 1922 elections in Oregon, the anti-Catholic bigot, Democrat Pierce, defeated Republican Olcott for governor, and the voters enacted the anti-Catholic school law.

The Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary sued to stop enforcement of the law and the case went, in 1925, to the U.S. Supreme Court where the law was held unconstitutional under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court declared:

"The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."
This past week the court heard arguments regarding the unconstitutional Obama health care law. Undoubtedly it, too, will be struck down in whole or in part.

Friday, March 16, 2012

President Obama's HHS Mandate Sparks Nationwide Demonstrations

Res Publica
President Obama's HHS Mandate Sparks Nationwide Demonstrations
by David Trumbull
March 16, 2012

The controversy over President Obama's HHS Mandate is now pouring out onto the streets. On March 23, concerned citizens in over 100 cities will gather at federal buildings for a rally with the theme "Stand Up for Religious Freedom—Stop the HHS Mandate!"
The rallies are scheduled from noon to 3:00 p.m. and in Boston will be at the J.F.K Federal Building in Government Center. Rallies will also be held in New Hampshire, at the federal building in Concord, and in Rhode Island, at the federal district court in Providence.

Thousands of Americans of all faiths are expected to participate in these rallies to oppose the new mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that requires all employers provide free contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans. Religious leaders and other public figures will speak out against the HHS Mandate.

The HHS provided a "religious exemption" so narrow that it would exclude Catholic hospitals, universities and charities, forcing these institutions to act in direct opposition to Catholic teaching through the health care plans they provide.

The Catholic bishops are supported by organizations representing the Jewish faith, as well as Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox Christian bodies, in opposing this Obama Administration violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. In addition, seven states -- Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas -- are suing the Obama Administration to stop this violation of basic human rights.

"With the HHS Mandate, the Obama administration has presumed upon itself the authority to decide what counts as a religious institution in this country," said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. "This is an unprecedented attack on the free exercise of religious faith protected by the First Amendment."

"The Obama mandate is a complete affront to religious liberty," said Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society. "Persons of faith or no faith at all should be alarmed at Obama's riding rough-shod over the conscience of American citizens. We are calling on all people of good will to rise up and vigorously oppose this ruling."

More information is available at the website http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/. There you will find information in rallies in other cities

On Friday, March 23rd, join Liberty activists of all faiths - and no faith - as we demonstrate FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM and against the HHS contraception mandate.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Heart-Warming Story for a Monday Morning.

In West Cambridge, Massachusetts, there is a small, low-powered A.M. radio station, WJIB (AM 740), owned for the past couple of decades by Bob Bittner. Bob plays music of the 1930s through 1970s on the station which accepts no paid advertising, but, rather, relies on contributions from listeners (and unlike the much larger and well-known "public radio" takes no tax money -- it truly is "listener supported"). By Federal Communication Commission rules, Bob has to turn down the power at dusk and can turn it back up at dawn. Once the sun goes down we can't get WJIB in our apartment in Boston, even though it is close enough that from the roof of our building we can see his West Cambridge neighborhood!

Well, in the early hours of Sunday, Bob was up 'til five o'clock in the morning tinkering -- refining -- some of the settings to improve sound quality, after which, tired from a long night he went into a deep sleep. (I should have mentioned that Bob practically lives at the station.) Well dawn with her rosy fingers came, but no WJIB, only static. Turns out that when the station when to full power it blew out the changes he had made and rather more along with them.

Now, Bob's listeners are no you average radio public. They called the Cambridge police, concerned that Bob was ill or injured! By 7:35 a.m. the police were banging on the door and windows of the station. Such is the affection WJIB listeners have for the station and it's remarkable owner!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Whose Ox Is Being Gored

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Whose Ox Is Being Gored
by David Trumbull -- March 9, 2012

"The numerous academies in New England have been established substantially in the same manner. They hold their property by the same tenure, and no other. Nor has Harvard College any surer title than Dartmouth College. It may to-day have more friends; but to-morrow it may have more enemies. Its legal rights are the same... They are founded by private persons, and on private property. The public cannot be charitable in these institutions. It is not the money of the public, but of private persons, which is dispensed. It may be public, that is general, in its uses and advantages; and the State may very laudably add contributions of its own to the funds; but it is still private in the tenure of the property, and in the right of administering the funds."

The quotation above is from Daniel Webster's 1818 argument before the United States Supreme Court in the Dartmouth College case. At issue was whether the government, in this case the State of New Hampshire, could tell a private corporation, Dartmouth College, what to do. I thought of this celebrated case recently when I read that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops plans to pursue both "legislative and judicial efforts to restore respect for religious freedom in the nation."

The points-at-law raised successfully by Webster in the Dartmouth College case -- the constitutional prohibition of ex post facto laws and the inviolability of contract -- differ from the First Amendment freedom of religion and speech arguments likely to be used in the bishops' brief, however, the parallel in the implication of the cases is forceful.

The Obama Administration demands that Catholic institutions bend to the will of the state and violate their consciences by either (1) paying for what they find morally impermissible or (2) abandon corporal works of mercy such as hospitals. As they can do neither 1 nor 2 and remain Catholic, Obama is, in essence, attacking the very existence of the Catholic Church in America. It is much as when the legislature of New Hampshire acted to dissolve Dartmouth College and reconstitute it along lines more conformable to the state's notions for the organization of a college.

Honest liberals of all religions or no religion who cherish their liberties should be as concerned as Catholics now are over the Obama Administration's threat to religious liberty. As I wrote here two weeks ago, if Obama can do this, then any President, liberal or conservative can force anyone to do anything he wants. To paraphrase Webster, other institutions (perhaps some dear to liberals now applauding the Administration's health care ruling) may to-day be stronger and have more friends than the Catholic Church, to-morrow they may have more enemies. To-day it is the bishops' ox. If this state over-reach into the private realm is successful, who knows who ox will be next.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound

Last evening I again attended the vigil Mass at the local Novus Ordo parish and made notes regarding the hymns.

The processional hymn was, as it was last week, the Anglican hymn Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days set to the tune St. Flavian.

At the offertory we sang Amazing Grace! by Anglican clergyman John Newton, set to the beloved tune New Britain. Some Catholics object to this hymn (for example, see this video by Michael Voris alleging that some words and phrases betray a Protestant understanding. Certainly, one can read the words of "Amazing Grace!" as teaching a Protestant -- specifically Calvinist -- doctrine of salvation, but then again, you can find plenty of individual words and phrases in St. Paul's and St. Augustine with which to condemn them as heretics if you start out looking for heresy. Equally, one can find in "Amazing Grace!" orthodox Catholic teaching regarding salvation. If you want to find hymns that are truly suspect as regards their theological assumption, you'll find a much richer target in some the "Catholic" hymns of the past forty years. Three weeks ago I wrote about the hymn "All My Days" by Dan Schutte which appears to reject a Christological reading of the Psalms going back to the earliest days of the Church in favor of a dubious individualistic reading.

The post-Communion hymn, "Gift of Finest Wheat" by Robert E. Kreutz was another example of unsingable "contemporary" Catholic hymnody. This train-wreck of a tune starts in 4/4 time, then after two measures switches to 3/4 time for a few measures, then back to 4/4 time for one measure, only to conclude in 3/4 times.

We concluded with the 18th century Catholic hymn "Grosser Gott" by Ignaz Franz in the 19th century Catholic translation Holy God We Praise Thy Name by C.A. Walworth. It is a paraphrase of the ancient Latin hymn Te Deum Laudamus.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring Ember Days

From the Daily Offices for the Week of the First Sunday in Lent in the Book of Divine Worship.

Collect for the First Sunday in Lent.
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Make speed to help thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and, as thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find thee mighty to save; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week are the traditional spring Ember Days on which one or more of these collects are read at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer:

I. For those to be ordained.
Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed various orders in thy Church: Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all who are [now] called to any office and ministry for thy people; and so fill them with the truth of thy doctrine and clothe them with holiness of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name and for the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

II. For the choice of fit persons for the ministry.
O God, who didst lead thy holy apostles to ordain ministers in every place: Grant that thy Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable persons for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of thy kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

III. For all Christians in their vocation.
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of thy faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all members of thy holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve thee; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Show Me the Way to Go Home...

This past Sunday, First Sunday in Lent, at my local Novus Ordo parish we started and ended with beautiful old Anglican hymns. For the processional it was Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days by Claudia F. Hernaman (1873), set to the tune St. Flavian, and for the recessional Forty Days and Forty Nights by George H. Smyttan (1856), set to the tune Heinlein. They were especially moving sung in that order. The first has a simple upbeat tune that invites us to join in the experience of Jesus in the desert while marking the transition from the outside secular "hubbub" to the reflective sacred space of the temple of God. The second repeats the theme, but to a more somber tune, sending us out in a mood to keep a holy lent in spite of the many distractions we shall face through the week.

At the offertory is was a contemporary hymn, "Hosea" by Gregory Norbet, OSB, published by the Benedictine Monks of Weston Priory in Vermont. Can't say that I remember anything from it, however I made a note at the time -- "Not bad."

The post communion hymn, "Save Your People" by Jim Farrell, was based on the Psalm Dominus illuminatio (Ps 27; 26 in the Vulgate). The refrain, with it's line "show us the way to come home," is set to a simple pleasant melody and reminds me ever so much of--
Show me the way to go home.
I'm tired and I want to go to bed.
I had a little drink about an hour ago
And it went right to my head.

There's a verse too, not that it has much of a melody to sing it to.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sen. Brown Calls For Protection Of Religious Liberty

Res Publica
Sen. Brown Calls For Protection Of Religious Liberty
by David Trumbull -- February 24, 2012

U.S. Senator Scott Brown (Republican, Massachusetts) has issued the following statement on the Department of Health and Human Services mandate under the 2010 health care law that religious organizations either participate in health care plans that violate their religious beliefs or face punitive fines:
"One of our most cherished liberties is freedom of religion. Like Ted Kennedy before me, I support a conscience exemption for religious organizations in health care. No one should be forced by government to violate the teachings of their faith. I encourage President Obama to re-examine his health care law and make sure no one is being forced to do something that is contrary to their religious beliefs."
Recently The Pilot, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston reported that Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York said that President Barack Obama's revision to the contraceptive mandate in the health reform law did nothing to change the U.S. bishops' opposition to what they regard as an unconstitutional infringement on religious liberty.

The Obama Administration has posted a set of false and misleading claims that the President has compromised with the Catholic Church. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has responded, pointing out that --
  • The original rule that violated our religious liberty so severely has not been changed, but finalized.
  • HHS has promised some kind of “accommodation,” but only after the election.
  • The promised “accommodation”—even at its best—would still force our institutions to violate their beliefs.
  • There is no exemption for objecting insurers, secular employers, for-profit religious employers, or individuals.
Speaking of the Obama Administration's attack on the Catholic Church, Cardinal Dolan said: "Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."

Cardinal Dolan also said that some very prominent attorneys, some of them non-Catholic and even nonreligious, had already volunteered to represent the bishops. This is the central issue. If Obama can force Catholic hospitals to pay for something they believe to be morally impermissible, then any President, liberal or conservative can force anyone to do anything he wants. Liberals who think this through should be as afraid of the precedent as are conservatives.

Now it sits with Congress and the Courts to thwart the President's power grab. Will they act to protect freedom of religion in America? Or will our children and grandchildren see come to pass the prediction of Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago? Cardinal George, in 2010, said: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”