1. Abortion issue dents Dems effort to promote next generation.

By Thomas Beaumont, Associated Press, May 8, 2017, 3:51 AM

Democrats desperate for fresh faces cast 37-year-old Heath Mello as a pragmatic, next-generation leader who could win in the Nebraska heartland. Yet his anti-abortion stance has become a flashpoint for the national party.

If Mello prevails on Tuesday in his bid for Omaha mayor, it’s a promising sign, he says, for a candidate “with a proven record of working bipartisan and tackling some big issues and, yes, to some extent, is a pro-life Catholic Democrat.” He is challenging Republican incumbent Jean Stothert.

Mello’s bid has exposed the cultural divisions within the party over the decades-old issue of abortion. It’s also proved a major embarrassment for the new party chairman, Tom Perez.

The party chairman’s actions angered several moderate Democrats and frustrated others as the party struggles for relevance. In the last decade, Democrats have lost about 1,000 elected posts from the White House to Congress to the 50 statehouses, a power deficit the party has not seen nationally in 90 years.


2. A first bite of an apple: Trump’s religious liberty order disappoints the right, reassures the left.

By The Editorial Board, The Washington Times, May 8, 2017, Pg. B2

The eagerly anticipated presidential executive order to make it easier for churches and pastors to participate in election campaigns falls short of what many religious conservatives, many of whom supported Donald Trump for president, hoped for. Mr. Trump signed it with considerable Rose Garden ruffles and flourishes, but many of his friends called it “disappointingly vague” or at best “just the first bite at the apple, not the last.”

The scope of the order was considerably narrower than in a draft version in February that was leaked to the media (perhaps by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner), to water it down if not derail it. The executive order that emerged appeared to have taken on considerable water. It was greeted on the left not with angst and umbrage, but with relief and derision. The American Civil Liberties Union dismissed it as “an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.”

The lukewarm reception to the executive order on the right can be traced less to what was included than to what was not. Missing from Thursday’s executive order was a provision in the February draft exempting small-business owners, religious organizations, schools and others to federal laws dealing with abortion rights and gay and lesbian rights.

However, as one religious leader said on Thursday, “it’s an important first step.” But it’s only a first step.


3. There’s Always an Upside to Having the Little Sisters of the Poor in the News.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, May 8, 2017, 4:00 AM

Sometimes even when there’s good, it’s not entirely right. I thought of that not for the first time as I watched the president invite the Little Sisters of the Poor up to his Rose Garden podium on the annual National Day of Prayer to be applauded. It was a perplexing and frustrating day as most days when one pays a moment’s notice to politics is. 

But I’ll give him credit for this: Unlike others, he did not pretend that the Little Sisters religious-liberty “ordeal” unnecessarily prompted by the Obama administration was yet over with the stroke of his pen. He indicated that it may soon be. In truth his executive order didn’t change anything for them though it and his words at the White House on religious liberty were a change of tone for the executive; in the previous administration, the president and his cabinet saw religious freedom as a narrowing thing, something to be curtailed if the believers were deemed archaic or worse in some of their matters of faith and tradition.

On social media, I’ve been told to drop my obsession with the likes of the Little Sisters. In truth, focusing on them could mean the renewal of our lives and our culture and our politics. They are women who know great love is in sacrifice and making sure that every person knows he is loved. Many you and I may encounter today have no idea they are — and that void is inhumane and affects so much of the inhumanity in our midst. Individuals and communities who insist on making sure people know in the most loving ways make all the difference. 

The Little Sisters are the peacemakers, and by celebrating them, we celebrate the kind of love we ourselves want, and for those we most love. …. So I’m grateful the president called them up to the podium in the Rose Garden. Now, I pray, his administration actually restores freedom from unnecessary regulation for them and so many. And even more so: That we begin to celebrate and participate this kind of love that restores not only human hearts and souls but the health of a people. 


4. Why We Must Support Human Rights.

By John McCain, The New York Times, May 8, 2017, Pg. A21

In a recent address to State Department employees, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said conditioning our foreign policy too heavily on values creates obstacles to advance our national interests. With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere: Don’t look to the United States for hope. Our values make us sympathetic to your plight, and, when it’s convenient, we might officially express that sympathy. But we make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values. So, if you happen to be in the way of our forging relationships with your oppressors that could serve our security and economic interests, good luck to you. You’re on your own.

There are those who will credit Mr. Tillerson’s point of view as a straightforward if graceless elucidation of a foreign policy based on realism. If by realism they mean policy that is rooted in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be, they couldn’t be more wrong.

I consider myself a realist. I have certainly seen my share of the world as it really is and not how I wish it would be. What I’ve learned is that it is foolish to view realism and idealism as incompatible or to consider our power and wealth as encumbered by the demands of justice, morality and conscience.

John McCain is a Republican senator from Arizona.


5. Little Sisters hope contraception battle is nearing an end.

By Mark Zimmermann, Crux, May 6, 2017

One day after President Donald Trump issued his executive order on religious freedom and expressed support for the Little Sisters of the Poor during a White House ceremony marking the National Day of Prayer, a spokesperson for that religious community summed up her hopes for what lies ahead with a football analogy.

Rather than likening their situation to a “Hail Mary” pass, Sister Constance Veit compared the possible end of the Little Sisters’ five-year legal struggle over the HHS contraceptive mandate to finally being near the goal line after a long scoring drive.

“We’re on the one-yard line, first down. We just have to get it over the goal line,” she told Crux in an interview.

Veit, the Little Sisters’ spokesperson, expressed hope that their legal case will be resolved soon, and “we’ll be able to go back to what we do, (and) take care of the elderly poor without anxiety and worry” and without devoting further time and attention to the controversy.

She said the experience led her to research her order’s history, and she saw how that over the centuries, the sisters tried to stay true to the vision of their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan, and trust in God as they served the elderly poor. She noted that members of the order, founded in the wake of the French Revolution, over the centuries continued their service through civil wars and two world wars, and when sisters in communist China were imprisoned, they remained faithful.


6. Opponents of Abortion Warily Measure Progress.

By Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times, May 6, 2017, Pg. A13

There are few constituencies as pleased with President Trump’s three and a half months in the White House as the anti-abortion groups that rallied to his side during the 2016 campaign.

He has signed legislation making it easier for states to deny funding to health centers that perform abortions. His recently confirmed Supreme Court nominee, Neil M. Gorsuch, has the unwavering backing of anti-abortion groups. And on Thursday, the House voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act while also eliminating most public funding for Planned Parenthood, a central campaign promise of Mr. Trump’s.

But the battle over the roughly $500 million Planned Parenthood receives each year could yet become the litmus test for social conservatives. And it is one that is already straining the relationship between the president and this pivotal bloc of voters and interest groups, many of whom put aside deep misgivings and supported him specifically because of his repeated and insistent vows to make it more difficult for women to get an abortion.