Thanks to Charles Johnson at LGF:
An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.
— Arthur Miller
In the outpouring of provincial self-congratulation that greeted the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, some of the discomforting history that preceded that joyous day has been rewritten, whitewashed, or tossed into a memory hole. We—and by we, I mean liberal New Yorkers like me, whether straight or gay, and their fellow travelers throughout America—would like to believe that the sole obstacles to gay civil rights have been the usual suspects: hidebound religious leaders both white and black, conservative politicians (mostly Republican), fundamentalist Christian and Muslim zealots, and unreconstructed bigots. What’s been lost in this morality play is the role that many liberal politicians and institutions have also played in slowing and at some junctures halting gay civil rights in recent decades.
A bill passed by Republicans in the Utah House of Representatives would effectively ban comprehensive education about human sexuality, forcing schools to teach abstinence or nothing at all. . . .
The bill forbids advocating for “the use of contraceptive methods or devices,” sex outside marriage or homosexuality. It also restricts teaching about sexual intercourse or erotic behavior.
Public and charter schools would have the option of developing an abstinence-only curriculum or skipping the discussion of sexuality altogether.
"We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest[.]"
Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger.
Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association.
The island’s steps to resurrect itself since 2008, when its banks defaulted on $85 billion, are proving effective. Iceland’s economy will this year outgrow the euro area and the developed world on average, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates. It costs about the same to insure against an Icelandic default as it does to guard against a credit event in Belgium. Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year.
As a sea of people dressed in pink descended the escalator to shop, to "flash our pink dollars," we noticed that all of the JCPenney staff were also wearing pink clothing, and they applauded as we reached their floor. It was a spectacular moment.
[T]here is no reason to ever attempt to accommodate people like this. They will never be happy, and the person doing the accommodating will always be seen as more weak than reasonable.
Second, it's fairly clear that the Bishops don't really care all that much about this issue. They haven't raised this much of a stink about the subject at a state level, even though they're required by many state laws to provide contraception.
This is a political move by the Bishops to damage the President, and to rally support among the most extremist elements of an organization that lost its way and true calling some time ago. They're acting purely as an attack arm of the theocratic Republican Party, and they should be treated accordingly.
Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge and chairman of the subcommittee, replied: “Does it show concern for the child for the mother to engage in criminal activity when she knows she’s pregnant? Do you agree choices have consequences?”
This is not about religious freedom; it’s about women’s health. Religions have the constitutionally protected right to worship as they choose, to require that their adherents dress in a certain way, or behave in a certain way, or shun birth control (although the idea that American Catholics generally follow that rule is pretty laughable). The government has no business meddling in that. But this is an example of where religious doctrine intrudes into public policy. The First Amendment also protects civic society from domination by any particular religion.
Ignore them, and make them follow the laws the rest of us do. My minority views on capital punishment and military spending are not respected in the tax code. There's no reason to give the Bishops any more credence.
In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.
“It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles,” a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. “All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives. It’s a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…There was some press at the time but we issued guidances that were far, far more controversial.”
It wasn’t an issue at all until an African-American Democrat in the White House decided during an election year that “Hey, this is a good idea, let’s put this on the books for all 50 states” just after getting yet another monthly unemployment report that showed that his policies were starting to bring the jobs numbers back around, and that his prospects for re-election were improving along with that uptick on what basically everyone agreed up until that millisecond was the most important issue of the day, the economy itself.
Religious freedom doesn’t mean the Catholic Bishops, or any other religious leaders, have the right to impose what they believe on everyone else. When we cross over to the realm of what the rules should be for everyone, and the pushing is coming from a religious purpose, it’s more likely we’re talking about that other clause, the establishment clause. And that’s exactly where the Bishops are.
Those who oppose any contraception insurance coverage want to prevent the government from having a rule that requires contraception, or have it adopt a rule prohibiting the coverage of contraception. And they want this not for health/safety reasons, but for declared religious ones. In other words, they want a government rule that imposes their religious beliefs on everyone else. That’s not about the “free exercise” clause; that’s “establishment of religion.”
It is the Catholic Bishops and the GOP politicians exploiting this who are pressing to have government violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. And that’s the real Constitutional violation at stake here.
Smith's dissent was weak. In it, he gave some credence to two of the anti-marriage equality side's bases for upholding Prop 8: (1) the "optimal parenting" basis, whereby the proponents of prop 8 argued that opposite sex parenting was optimal and the state has a rational basis for encouraging that through marriage; and(2) the "accidental parenting" theory, whereby opp sex couples can conceive accidentally, and same-sex couples can't, so it's supposedly rational to encourage accidental parenting within the bonds of marriage, and there's no need to offer marriage to same-sex couples.
Now, I will have to check whether rationale number (1) was factually refuted at the trial, but I think it was. In any case, I know of no legitimate study that shows opposite sex parents are better parents than same-sex. But Smith's dissent ignored the factual situation and seemed to say it's enough if the government thinks its justification is rational. That's a head-scratcher for me. Moreover, the state does not prevent other couples who cannot conceive from marrying.
Rationale number (2) also seems like a very limited and tenuous basis upon which the state supposedly provides marriage rights. Again, the government does not restrict couples who cannot conceive from marrying. So this rationale would seem extremely overbroad on its face. Smith ignored that.
People are getting very confused on this issue. We ostensibly believe in rights and liberties in America and have a set of rules in our constitution guaranteeing them. But lately, we've decided that these phony constructs of institutional rights and liberties --- "corporate personhood","conscience of the church" --- actually supercede individual rights and liberties. I don't mean to evoke the sacred founders here, but I'm afraid they would say that idea is, in their words, total bullshit. They knew very well that the government wasn't the only possible oppressor. 500 years of bloody European religious history had taught them that.
If the Catholic bishops don't want people to use birth control it needs to convince people not to use birth control. That's how we exercise "conscience" in a free society. No Catholic employees anywhere, including a Catholic bishop, will be forced to use birth control, I guarantee it. Their individual consciences will be respected.
"Look, I want your son and everybody to have the opportunity to stay alive on much-needed drugs," Santorum insisted. "But the bottom line is, we have to give companies the incentive to make those drugs. And if they don't have the incentive to make those drugs, your son won't be alive and lots of other people in this country won't be alive."
"He’s alive today because drug companies provide care," the candidate continued. "And if they didn’t think they could make money providing that drug, that drug wouldn’t be here. I sympathize with these compassionate cases. … I want your son to stay alive on much-needed drugs. Fact is, we need companies to have incentives to make drugs. If they don’t have incentives, they won’t make those drugs. We either believe in markets or we don’t."
According to Sarah Kliff, the Komen Foundation says it is de-funding Planned Parenthood because it is under congressional investigation. Of course, the only reason it is under congressional investigation is that wingnuts in Congress are subjecting it to a witch hunt.
Mr. Stearns’s “investigation” is nothing more than a political witch hunt, stirred up by Republican leaders and by a right-wing antichoice group, Americans United for Life, which now displays the pink ribbon on its Web site as part of a fund-raising campaign for Komen. The inquiry is part of the Republican campaign to stigmatize Planned Parenthood and end financial support for its invaluable network of clinics. Abortions make up only about 3 percent of its work, but most of this crowd also objects to its leading role in providing access to contraceptives.
Look, at this point it's quite clear that the Komen Foundation has gone over to the dark side. This isn't a result of bullying. This woman agrees with this decision and is simply dancing as fast as she can to tamp down the reaction. The willing hire of a forced childbirth zealot was the first clue.
[T]hree sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new "no investigations" rule applies to only one so far.)
Of course, the real reason is a politically motivated audit undertaken a part of a general jihad against Planned Parenthood undertaken by Florida congresscritter Cliff Stearns, the chairman of an oversight subcommittee and a real freaking prize in his own right. Stearns is the guy who added to the Zadroga bill, which provided for federal relief to the first responders who worked on the pile at Ground Zero in New York, the ludicrous requirement that the names of all applicants for such relief first be checked against all terrorist watch-list. He also once attacked PBS because the South African version of Sesame Street introduced a character who was HIV-positive.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post got a Komen board member on the phone, and he said that “it would be highly unfair to ask us to commit to any organization that doesn’t go through a grant process that shows that the money we raise is used to carry out our mission. … Tell me you can help carry out our mission and we will sit down at the table.”
As my old Uncle Straight Talk used to say (who's much more direct than yours truly) — "Do they care about blacks? They care about winning. Do they care about gays? They care about winning. Do they care about women? They care about winning. Got that, son?"