Monthly Archives: March 2012

Secretary Sebelius and “Document Dump Friday”: Protecting religious liberty?

In Washington, DC, the pattern for just about any administration is to “dump” bad news late on Friday afternoon.  The ostensible goal is to draw as little attention as possible to those news items so they “die” over the weekend without notice.

 

 

Last Friday proved no different with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius dumping the news that under the Obamacare healthcare reforms, the healthcare insurance plans that most colleges offer will now have to include contraceptive coverage at no cost.

Although the new HHS regulation apply to religious and secular colleges, HHS allows religious institutions one additional year to comply.

There is one loophole: Colleges offering students self-insured healthcare plans—in which colleges pool students’ premiums to pay for healthcare services rather than purchasing an insurance policy—will not be required to cover contraception.  HHS estimates that ~200k students (of an estimated 1M to 3M students) rely on these self-insured plans.

This loophole leaves President Obama’s so-called “compromise” intact: The healthcare insurer—not the institution—will pay for the “free” coverage which must be included in all policies.

Some religious colleges, like Belmont Abbey College, have sued the government, arguing in part that Church teaching forbids premarital sex as well as artificial forms of birth control.  They ask: How can these institutions uphold Church teaching and offer students contraception free of charge?

The Motley Monk would note that this “duplicity” argument actually matters little to this administration.  Remember when President Obama was lobbying hard for the passage of his healthcare “reforms” and guaranteed that the “conscience clause” exemption would be respected?

Respecting religious liberty?

 

However, Ms. Sebelieus did her best to protect her boss on Friday while announcing the new regulation when she said:

The President’s policy respects religious liberty and makes free preventive services available to women.  Today’s announcement is the next step toward fulfilling that commitment.

Let’s hope the United States Supreme Court has greater respect for conscience and religious liberty next week when oral arguments about the constitutionality of the Obamacare “individual mandate” are heard.

 

Let the discussion begin…

 

 

To read the HHS press release, click on the following link:
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/03/20120316g.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

 

Stanley Fish, CS Lewis and Might Makes Right

 

Stanley Fish, probably the most noted American literary theorist of our time, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times on March 12, 2012 called Two Cheers for Double Standards in which he demonstrated how deeply wed he and other members of the Left in this country are to the Orwell axiom from Animal Farm that some animals are more equal than others:

If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal — that is, non-formal — perspective, the similarity between what he did and what Schultz and Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?

There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.

I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Case Can Be Made For Auschwitz!

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

Michael Moriarty as SS Sturmbannfuhrer (Major) Erik Dorf, in the riveting miniseries Holocaust (1978), attempts at 5:26 in the video above to convince the incredulous SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler that rather than concealing the crimes of the Holocaust the SS should stand behind them and and convince the world that the genocide of the Jews and others deemed “undesirable” by the “master race” was right and just.  He anounces to the astounded SS officers, Dorff being an attorney in civilian life, that “A case can be made for Auschwitz!”  He is speaking to mass murderers and monsters, but even they are repulsed by what he says.  They understand deep down that they have been involved in an unspeakable crime for which no excuse, no argument can possibly be made.

Would that most pro-aborts would have some such shred of moral sensibility remaining.  Alas, I am afraid that this statement of Jessica Delbalzo is much more common among pro-aborts, even if they rarely are this forthright:

I love abortion.  I don’t accept it.  I don’t view it as a necessary evil.  I embrace it.  I donate to abortion funds.  I write about how important it is to make sure that every woman has access to safe, legal abortion services.  I have bumper stickers and buttons and t-shirts proclaiming my support for reproductive freedom.  I love abortion. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

George Washington Celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day

YouTube Preview Image

 

Throughout his life George Washington had a great deal of sympathy for the struggles of the Irish against their English rulers, seeing in those struggles a mirror for the American fight for independence.  Irish immigrants to America, Protestant and Catholic, were enthusiastic in their embrace of the American cause, and during the Revolutionary War many of the soldiers who served in the Continental Army were Irish or of Irish descent.  Therefore when General Washington heard in March 1780 that the Irish Parliament had passed free trade legislation, he issued the following general order to the Army on March 16, 1780:

The general congratulates the army on the very interesting proceedings of the parliament of Ireland and the inhabitants of that country which have been lately communicated;  not only as they appear calculated to remove those heavy and tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to restore to a brave and generous people their ancient rights and freedom and by their operations to promote the cause of America. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

McClarey Polling Central

(Guest post by Don’s wife Cathy)

Don normally delegates the job of answering the home telephone to me, and so I frequently find myself stuck in the role of the “meanie” turning down phone solicitations from the umpteenth charitable group remotely related to one I sent money to a month ago.  During the past few weeks, however, as the Illinois primaries have drawn nearer, clan McClarey has increasingly been the recipient of politically-themed telephone calls.  Sometimes, such calls present themselves honestly as campaign ads for (or attack ads against) one or another candidate for state or national office.  At other times, however, I have been polled.  If the pollster hears that I’m female (and they’ve already over-sampled female registered voters for that day), or that Don blogs about politics, the poll ends very quickly.

Last night, however, asserting that I was married to a blogger wasn’t enough to shoo the pollster away.  From the way the questions were framed, it quickly became obvious that I had been contacted by a “push poll” for Mitt Romney.  I wouldn’t have minded straightforward questions about my opinion of Mr. Romney’s stands on the issues; however, many of the questions consisted of one-liner attacks against Rick Santorum, and the answer choices were either:

did they make me think much more negatively about Santorum,

somewhat more negatively about Santorum,

or not change my mind at all?

I would have liked the option of saying that a statement made me think more positively about Santorum, or that a certain assertion just plain wasn’t true; however, the pollster wasn’t equipped to deal with anything “out of the box.”  (And that “push poll” managed to ruin the retrogaming “Let’s Play” video I’d been recording for YouTube at the time of the call, too!  :( ) →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

An American Issue

YouTube Preview Image

Note how the Bishops in the above video indicate what a unique threat to the Catholic Church in America the Obama administration poses.  They recognize that the goal of the current administration is to strip the Bishops, through fostering a de facto schism in the Church, of their ability to stand in the way of this administration.  This is all very unprecedented in American history and all very dangerous to our concept of religious liberty enshrined in the Constitution.  The Administrative Committee of the USCCB set out what is at stake well on March 14th:

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gathered for its March 2012 meeting, is strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day. In our role as Bishops, we approach this question prayerfully and as pastors—concerned not only with the protection of the Church’s own institutions, but with the care of the souls of the individual faithful, and with the common good.

To address the broader range of religious liberty issues, we look forward to the upcoming publication of “A Statement on Religious Liberty,” a document of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. This document reflects on the history of religious liberty in our great Nation; surveys the current range of threats to this foundational principle; and states clearly the resolve of the Bishops to act strongly, in concert with our fellow citizens, in its defense.

One particular religious freedom issue demands our immediate attention: the now-finalized rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would force virtually all private health plans nationwide to provide coverage of sterilization and contraception—including abortifacient drugs—subject to an exemption for “religious employers” that is arbitrarily narrow, and to an unspecified and dubious future “accommodation” for other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.

We begin,  first, with thanks to all who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate: to our brother bishops; to our clergy and religious; to our Catholic faithful; to the wonderful array of Catholic groups and institutions that enliven our civil society; to our ecumenical and interfaith allies; to women and men of all religions (or none at all); to legal scholars; and to civic leaders. It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate. With your continued help, we will not be divided, and we will continue forward as one.

Second, we wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about. This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Ides of March: Brutus

YouTube Preview Image

This was the noblest Roman of them all:

All the conspirators, save only he,

 Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;

He, only in a general honest thought

And common good to all, made one of them.

Mark Antony referring to Brutus in Julius Caesar

I think it would have amused the Romans of Caesar’s generation if they could have learned that the assassination of Julius Caesar would eventually receive immortality through a play written more than 16 centuries after the event by a barbarian playwright in the Tin Islands that Caesar had briefly invaded.  It would have tickled their well developed concept of the ludicrous, judging from Roman comedy. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Devil and Daniel Webster: Closing Argument to the Jury of the Damned

YouTube Preview Image

A scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.   In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history.  I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.  Go here to read the passage in  Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.  Below is the scene as written in the screenplay: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Poor Arlen!

YouTube Preview Image

I know that it will sadden the readers of this blog that “Snarlin’ Arlen” Specter, former pro-abort Senator from Pennsylvania, who became a Democrat in 2009, in an unsuccessful attempt to win re-election in the Senate, complains in his memoir, according to an article in The Hill, that he didn’t get his 30 pieces of silver:

Specter laments that Obama and Vice President Biden did not do more to help him in the final days of his primary race against former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who beat him 54 percent to 46 percent in the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary.

Specter writes that Obama turned down a request to campaign with him in the final days of the primary, because the president’s advisers feared he would look weak if he intervened and Specter lost.

“I realized that the president and his advisers were un-shy about supporting my candidacy after being stung by Obama’s failed rescue attempts for New Jersey governor Jon Corzine and Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley. They were reluctant to become victims of a trifecta,” he writes.

The snub was made all the more painful by Obama flying over Philadelphia en route to New York City a few days before the election and then on primary day jetting over Pittsburgh to visit a factory in Youngstown, Ohio, 22 miles from the Pennsylvania border, to promote the 2009 economic stimulus law. The painful irony for Specter is that his vote for the stimulus legislation, which was instrumental to its passage, hastened his departure from the Republican Party.

Specter was also disappointed that Biden, who was only a few blocks away at Penn University, did not attend a pre-primary day rally at the Phillies’s Citizens Bank Park — a missed opportunity Specter attributes to a failed staff-to-staff request.

Just over a year before, Obama and Biden welcomed Specter to the Democratic Party with a press conference at the White House and promised him his full support.

Specter believes Reid acted with “duplicity” while managing the party switch. Specter said Reid promised him that he would be recognized on the seniority list as a Democrat elected in 1980, but failed to deliver on it.  ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Courage of the New York Times

 

Recently the New York Times ran a Catholic bashing ad calling for Liberal Catholics to desert the Faith.  The ad was sponsored by the virulently anti-Catholic atheist group Freedom From Religion.  Go here to read a superb evisceration of the ad by Charles Lewis.

Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugged decided to submit an ad which made similar accusations, but against Islam instead of the Church.  The New York Times rejected the ad.

Bob Christie, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for the New York Times, just called me to advise me that they would be accepting my ad, but considering the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, now would not be a good time, as they did not want to enflame an already hot situation. They will be reconsidering it for publication in “a few months.” So I said to Mr. Christie, “Isn’t this the very point of the ad? If you feared the Catholics were going to attack the New York Times building, would you have run that ad?” Mr. Christie said, “I’m not here to discuss the anti-Catholic ad.” I said, “But I am, it’s the exact same ad.” He said, “No, it’s not.” I said, “I can’t believe you’re bowing to this Islamic barbarity and thuggery. I can’t believe this is the narrative. You’re not accepting my ad. You’re rejecting my ad. You can’t even say it.”

We used the same language as the anti-Catholic ad. The only difference is, ours was true and what we describe is true. The anti-Catholic ad was written by fallacious feminazis. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Cult of Obama? What Cult of Obama?

 

After a short stand off between a group of veterans and the head of the Lake County, FL Democrat Party, an American flag that had been altered to depict an image of Barack Obama in the space where the stars are normally located was taken down.

The Lake County Democratic Headquarters in Tavares has been flying two American flags outside their office.  The first an American Flag and the second the altered flag. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Few Thoughts About Last Night

As was tweeted by a few individuals, it is remarkable that a conservative, Catholic, Republican – who largely rejects JFK’s sentiments on religion in the public square to boot – won primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.  It’s also becoming evident that exit polling means squat with regards to Rick Santorum.

Mitt Romney continues to be the weakest front-runner imaginable.  It was funny to listen to John Batchelor and his parade of insiders smugly dismiss Santorum’s victories and chat away about the inevitability of Romney’s nomination while Santorum was winning two southern states in which Romney finished third.  Yes, Romney still has an edge, and with victories in American Samoa and Hawaii Santorum’s delegate edge last night was minimal.  But Romney has far from sealed the deal.

Speaking of Romney, his gaggle of supporters truly marked themselves by their utter gracelessness in defeat.  As Mark Levin said, Romney supporters are quickly becoming as obnoxious as Ron Paul supporters.  It’s true that partisans of all of the candidates can be particularly blind to their own candidate’s faults and to exaggerate the foibles of the others, but Romney supporters in all corners of the internet have been particularly bitter and have done little to actually sway others to their side.  What might explain this phenomenon is that unlike the others, Romney voters aren’t particularly enamored with their candidate and are instead motivated by either dislike of the other candidates and/or fear that any other candidate would lose the general election.  So they don’t really have any convincing arguments to make on behalf of Romney, but instead they kick and stomp their feet every time Romney fails to win a primary.  I would suggest that calling those of us who don’t vote for Romney a bunch of hayseed hicks, and suggesting that social cons be banished from consideration this election might just not be a winning strategy.  Just saying.

As for Newt, there is absolutely no compelling reason for him to stay in this race.  He won his home state, the state neighboring his home state, and has otherwise been a distant consideration save for the states he lost last night in the south.  Rick Santorum already had a slight lead in Louisiana, and I think that last night’s victories just about clinches the state for him (though that’s a rather dangerous prediction considering the wildness of this primary season thus far).  That being said, his reasoning for staying in is not all that outrageous.  He suggested that he didn’t want Romney to concentrate all of his fire on Santorum, something I said not that long ago.  And while he has no realistic shot to win the nomination before or even during the Republican convention – is a brokered convention really going to nominate the guy with the third most delegates coming in? – he might be able to prevent Romney from securing the necessary number of delegates, and that seems to be his primary goal.  After all, not all of his supporters will switch to Santorum.  By staying in the race he is hurting Santorum, but he’s also hurting Romney by picking off a few delegates.  Take away Gingrich from last night, and both Santorum and Romney would have won more delegates.  That would have inched Romney closer to the nomination.

On the other hand, I don’t suppose Gingrich contributors are going to be all that enthused to continue propping up a candidate who has no intention of actually winning, and is instead motivated by nothing more than spite.  Also, as was discussed last night, even if Romney fails to secure the precious 1,044 delegates by the time Tampa rolls around, he’ll still be the favorite at a brokered convention if he is significantly ahead of Santorum.  There is no magical candidate that will emerge from the ashes of a brokered convention.  It’s either going to be Romney or it’s going to be Santorum.  Every delegate that Santorum doesn’t win from here until the convention is just as good as a delegate for Romney under a brokered convention scenario.  If Santorum remains fairly close in the delegate count while neither candidate has the necessary majority, then Gingrich can play kingmaker at the convention.  He would be well-advised to drop out sooner than later if he wants to achieve his twin objection of derailing Romney and having a hand in deciding the eventual nominee.

Of Encyclopedia Britannica and Buggywhips

YouTube Preview Image

I do all of my research online, and increasingly most of my reading.  However, I am one of the children of the expiring age of the book, and therefore it is with sadness that I note this story:

After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print.

Those coolly authoritative, gold-lettered reference books that were once sold door-to-door by a fleet of traveling salesmen and displayed as proud fixtures in American homes will be discontinued, company executives said.

In an acknowledgment of the realities of the digital age — and of competition from the Web site Wikipedia — Encyclopaedia Britannica will focus primarily on its online encyclopedias and educational curriculum for schools. The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Under Southern Skies

YouTube Preview Image

Rick Santorum’s campaign has been truly remarkable.  From being a defeated two term Senator from Pennsylvania, on a Quixotic no cash campaign for President which no observer, including the writer of this post, thought he had any chance of doing anything with other than being an asterisk, he has become the leader of Republican conservatives opposed to the nomination of Romney, aka the Weathervane.  Last night’s dual victories in Alabama and Mississippi underlined this. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Lysistrata and the Libs

 

                                     LYSISTRATA:     There are a lot of things about us women    

  That sadden me, considering how men

See us as rascals.        

CALONICE: As indeed we are!

Apparently some liberal women are calling for a sex strike , stating that if the Government does not coerce all employers to provide health insurance policies that cover contraceptives, that somehow translates into their inability to purchase contraceptives on their own dime.  With that reasoning, I think it appropriate that they are lifting the idea of a boycott of sex from Lysistrata, a comedy by Aristophanes, that envisioned women in Athens and Sparta refusing to pay their marital debt until their men made peace.  Of course nothing like this occurred in the actual history of the Peloponnesian War, just as no one is preventing liberal women from  carrying out their project of making certain that there will be fewer of their descendants in the body politic in the years to come.  →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Obama Losing Public Opinion War Over HHS Mandate

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

 

My favorite liberal pro-abort columnist, Mickey Kaus, is a very honest man, and will never let his ideology stand in the way of a keen analysis of the events of the day.  That is one of the reasons why I stop by each day to read his Kaus Files.  The other reasons are that he is witty and concise.  Here is his take on a recent poll in the New York Times:

Here’s what the NYT‘s story on its latest poll told readers:

In recent weeks, there has been much debate over  the government’s role in guaranteeing insurance coverage for contraception,  including for those who work for religious organizations. The poll found  that women were split as to whether health insurance plans should cover the  costs of birth control and whether employers with religious objections  should be able to opt out. [E.A.]

If the Times says women were “split,” you know that must mean they  were actually narrowly against the NYT‘s preferred position. Sure enough, when asked, “Should health insurance plans for  all employees have to cover the full cost of birth control for female employees  or should employers be able to opt out for moral or religious reasons?” women favored opting out by a 46-44 margin. The margin increased to a decisive  53-38  for “religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or  university.”

That’s among women. Unbeknownst to those who read only the Times‘ main story, the poll asked the same question to men. They were not split. Men  favored opting out by a 20 point margin (57 vs. 37), except when a “religiously  affiliated employer” was involved, in which case the margin increased to 25  points. Combining men and women, a substantial majority (51-40) favors  allowing an opt-out–increasing to 57-36 where religiously-affiliated  institutions are involved.

These are not close results. It’s hard to read this poll and not conclude  that, contrary to some accounts, Obama wasn’t such a genius to pick a fight over  mandated contraception coverage–because he appears to be losing the public  debate on the question. That’s a conclusion the Times story effectively  hides from readers.

It’s also one possible explanation for Obama’s otherwise somewhat mystifying  overall drop in approval during the period–March 7-11–when the poll was in the  field. But not an approved explanation.

Gas prices are the official MSM explanation. Got it? Gas  prices. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .