Political Theater in Washington





Legacy Comments

  1. Scott McCauley says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 06:19 AM:

    Wow! Are the social liberals parading this girl because they actually believe that she has a "right" to be spared from being responsible for her actions? Or do they fully realize that the girl's demands that someone else pay the $3000 (I believe that's the amount she said) for her to have consequence-free sex while she pursues her degree is such a crazy thing on its face? Do they publicize it because they know its just crazy enough to detract from the real issue of freedom to excercise religionn?

  2. robaylesbury says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 07:54 AM:

    I understand WLC's concern that the Government may impinge on religious liberty, yet doesn't this cut both ways? Religion is all over American politics and has been for some considerable time.

  3. Windy says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 08:15 AM:

    How many mistakes can one person make in one short speech? First, there are no “girls” enrolled at the Georgetown Law Center. We call them “women.” Second, the Blunt Amendment was not limited to religiously-affiliated employers and it was not limited to contraception. It would have allowed Andrew Carnegie to disregard the insurance mandate on the grounds that it interfered with his pursuit of the gospel of wealth. Third, religious affiliates already have been allowed to opt out of the contraceptive coverage. Fourth, there is no serious First Amendment issue under the controlling precedent in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1989), which was written by Justice Scalia. Fifth, I don’t think Dr. Craig has read much in the way of congressional testimony if he thinks some set of “credentials” are necessary to testify or if he thinks they are not theater. The House Republicans blundered when they gathered a row of men to opine about women’s preventive health care in televised hearings, and the Democrats burned them for it. And then Rush helpfully burned all the Republicans. Hilarious!

  4. Scott McCauley says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 09:53 AM:

    As I understand it, E.D. v. Smith had to do with the question of whether states can, or must accommodate what would otherwise be illegal acts (e.g. illegal drug use) in the name of religious excercise. What we're talking about here is whether a law can be made that requires religious organizations to do something their beliefs prohibit; namely provide insurance coverage for contraception. I don't see how E.D v. Smith applies here. More applicable court rulings would be those related to conscientious objection to war.

  5. Windy says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 10:46 AM:

    We are talking about whether the government, in the name of free exercise, must accommodate a religious objection to what would otherwise be an unlawful act: failure to comply with an economic regulation. Looks pretty analogous to me. Plus, as revised, the regulations do not require religious affiliates to do anything. Only the insurance company is required to do something.

  6. Spencer says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 01:55 PM:

    It should also be highlighted that providing contraception relates directly to women's health, not just their ability to engage in sexual activity. If WLC and others actually paid attention to Fluke's testimony, they'd know this.

    "Birth control is directly and undeniably related to women's health. Birth control protects women from the risk of bearing children before they are ready. Birth control helps to ensure that women do not bear too many children or bear children too soon after their last pregnancy. Birth control is used to relieve symptoms of endometriosis, regulate a cycle, reduce acne, relieve symptoms of depression, reduce migraines, treat polycystic ovary condition, alleviate anemia, and even reduce the risk of some cancers."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carolyn-maloney/the-gop-rush-to-deny-cove_b_1320141.html?ref=politics&ir=Politics

  7. BJ says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 02:23 PM:

    Spencer,

    I don't understand how a man as intelligent as Dr. Craig can miss information as simple as that, and take these far right wing positions issue after issue. The depth at which he speaks on philosophical and theological issues is completely absent in these blogs. It's almost nausiating.

  8. Scott McCauley says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 03:58 PM:

    The point is not how wonderful birth control is. The point is that an organization should not be forced (eiher directly or indirectly) to provide it to people when that conflicts with their beliefs.

  9. Spencer says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 06:18 PM:

    I'm not seeing what the religious conflict is supposed to be. Under Obama's recent proposal, it's the insurance companies - not religiously-affiliated institutions - that must pay for contraception.

    "Under the new plan, religious employers such as charities, universities and hospitals will not have to offer contraception and will not have to refer their employees to places that provide it. If an employer opts out of the requirement, its insurance company must provide birth control for free in a separate arrangement with workers who want it."


    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=146691034

  10. Scott McCauley says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 07:38 PM:

    Obama's more recent proposal only applies to non-profic church-affiliated entities. It still compels others who may object on the basis of their faith to choose a healthcare company that provides contraception coverage.

    Obama's more recent proposal compels church-owned insurance companies to provide contraception coverage.

    Obama's more recent proposal is ambigous as to whether it compels church-owned companies who self-insure to provide contraception coverage.

    A president who takes seriously his oath to preserve, defend and protect the constitution should, I think, do a better job of upholding the free exercise clause of the first amendment.

  11. Spencer says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 07:46 PM:

    Scott M,

    "I think, do a better job of upholding the free exercise clause of the first amendment."

    Free Exercise jurisprudence is a complicated area of law. Can you point to any expert legal opinion that supports your position?

  12. Spencer says on Mar 5, 2012 @ 07:58 PM:

    Scott M,

    I'll rephrase my question. Can you cite to any controlling precedent(s) in support of your claim that the contraception coverage plan would violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment?

  13. Scott McCauley says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 03:18 AM:

    Sorry....I don't know how to create paragraphs in my posts...

    I'm no lawyer, but the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" seem pretty clear to me. Being the first words in the first amendment in the document intended to *limit* government's power makes them, I think, pretty important.


    Windy cites E.D. v. Smith. I don't think it applies, but I know that one Supreme Court Justice, Sanda Day O'Conner, thought that it failed to pay proper respect to the first amendment when she said that it "dramatically departs from well-settled First Amendment jurisprudence…and is
    incompatible with our Nation’s fundamental commitment to individual religious
    liberty….As the language of the Clause itself
    makes clear, an individual’s free exercise of religion is a preferred constitutional activity.
    A law that makes criminal such an activity therefore triggers constitutional concern – and
    heightened judicial scrutiny – even if it does not target the particular religious conduct at
    issue."

    The first amendment has been, and probably will be for a long time, frequently debated. Sadly, I think, as our culture grows more and more secular we forget that our rights were endowed on us by our creator and we begin to believe that we can define, redefine, and dole out rights as we see fit. We forget that unless they come from something, or someone, higher than ourselves, they're meaningless. I digress.

    In this case, I don't think that the free exercise being defended impedes anyone elses rights, nor does it interfere with any compelling state interests. There's no reason to brush aside something as important as the first clause in the first amendment of our consitution.

  14. Scott McCauley says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 03:21 AM:

    Hmmm...apparently paragraphs just don't appear in the preview. :-)

  15. Windy says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 05:20 AM:

    Scott M:

    The First Amendment wasn’t brushed aside. The Obama administration crafted accommodations accepted as adequate by Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association. The burden is on the few remaining critics to show why those accommodations don’t go far enough. I’m open to further adjustment, but what should it be? Even without a legal background, can you state a limiting principle for the now-argued-for religious exemption? Would a devout owner of a widget factory be exempt from all insurance requirements if his faith tradition sincerely believes all medicine is morally wrong? What result if his faith tradition sincerely believes only Eastern medicine is morally acceptable? How significantly is a religious interest burdened where a religious affiliate merely must switch from self-insurance to private insurance in order to comply with a law of neutral and general application? What religious interest does a church have in running an insurance business in the first place? (Oh, ye of little faith!) Finding serious answers to questions like these is more difficult than making fun of a girl.

  16. Scott McCauley says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 05:57 AM:

    Windy,

    "Finding serious answers to questions like these is more difficult than making fun of a girl." - I totally agree with this. I hope I didn't come across as "making fun" of anyone.

    I am concerned about the freedom of exercise belonging to the proprietor of a widget factory; especially when protecting that freedom does not trample on anyone elses rights.

    I am just baffled as to why it is, seemingly, that gorvernment-mandated healthcare covereage is being placed on a higher plane than is a constitutional right.

  17. Windy says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 07:11 AM:

    Scott M:

    The Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce so long as it does not infringe on a constitutional right. Congress made a political judgment that employer health insurance needed regulation to correct various market failures and promote the general welfare. Refusal of an employer to abide by those regulations hurts everyone in society because health care that is needed is left undelivered or is delivered inefficiently. This is brutal and cruel thing for any employer to do. You haven't shown that the Obama regulations, as revised, infringe on any constitutional right of a private employer. You've merely asserted a First Amendment position that, in my opinion, is not serious. I have no sympathy for the widget-maker at all, and neither should you. What other health-insurance requirements can she ignore on grounds of religious conscience? All of them? What other social-welfare laws can she ignore? All of them? If tomorrow she opens a lunch counter and decides God did not want to the races to mix, can she exempt herself from the civil rights laws? If she thinks tithing should only be made to God, can she exempt herself from taxes? You need to come up with a limiting principle for your “free exercise” concerns to be taken seriously.

  18. Scott McCauley says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 09:03 AM:

    The limiting principle I put forward was, as I said, "trampl[ing] on anyone elses rights".

    I'll offer a couple others that I could live with:

    1) The “Sherbert Test”: Only the gravest abuses, endangering paramount interest, give occasion for permissible limitation.

    2) The “Clear and Present Danger Test”

    I'll add that I don't believe that the power to regulate interstate commerce gives the federal government authority to compel people to purchase a particular product or service. Regulating interstate commerce does not entail compelling to participate in that commerce.

  19. KStret says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 12:05 PM:

    The issues here are:

    Does the government have the right to force religious institutions to provide non-essential care that they morally disagree with?

    Does the government have the right to force private insurance companies to provide non-essential care at no cost?

    If I find abortions and contraception reprehensible should the government be able to take my money and fund abortions and pay for contraception?

    This primarily a first amendment issue.

    Secondly,
    I don't agree with name calling. At same the time that fact that any one is taking Sandra Fluke seriously is laughable. She is a liberal activist. She knew what George Town's policy was on contraception before she enrolled.

    She is clearly lying about the cost. If she was talking about condoms 3000 dollars amounts to having sex three times a day seven days a week.

    If she is talking about the pill, it doesn't come remotely close to her $3000 number.

    Last, What is your position on Rush Limbaugh's comments?

  20. Windy says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 03:09 PM:

    Scott M:

    The interest of employees in receiving comprehensive preventive health care is being trampled if an employer can opt out of coverage whenever her conscience is tingled. And, to the extent that comprehensive health insurance coverage is now a statutory employee right, that right, too, is being trampled on. Your proposed conscience exemption flunks your own test.

    The Sherbert test (which you misstated but I will state correctly below) was overturned in Employment Division v. Smith, wherein the current First Amendment test is set forth. To the extent Sherbert was revived by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1992 (which is what you ought to be arguing), the statute applies only where free exercise is “substantially” burdened. The widget owner’s ability to practice her faith is not substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement. She can still go to church, pray as she likes, and believe what she wants. She just has to do what is in the greater public interest when conducting private business affairs that have nothing whatsoever to do with her religion. She is not even financially burdened. Contraceptive coverage more than pays for itself by preventing later medical costs. So, in a competitive market, contraceptive coverage would presumably result in lower premiums and save the employer money. (That is why you don’t see insurance companies screaming over the “free” coverage they are now required to give to employees of religious affiliates.) Furthermore, there is no economic difference between the employee using a portion of her salary compensation to buy birth control pills and her using the employer-supported insurance portion of her compensation package to buy the same pills. Whether salary or insurance, it’s all a form of payment to the employee for services rendered. In any case, the government interest in preventive health care is certainly compelling for the reasons stated in Spencer’s excellent post, and the regulation cannot be fashioned in a less restrictive way, short of making compliance with the entire law effectively optional, which is apparently what you envision. So, your Sherbert argument fails completely, even if you mislabeled a statutory argument as a constitutional one.

    Your proposed “clear and present danger” test warrants no discussion. Finally, your Commerce Clause objection is currently before the Supreme Court, it has nothing to do with employer insurance, and it has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

  21. Spencer says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 03:24 PM:

    KStret,

    "She is clearly lying about the cost. If she was talking about condoms 3000 dollars amounts to having sex three times a day seven days a week.

    If she is talking about the pill, it doesn't come remotely close to her $3000 number."

    And yet ANOTHER example of why genuine dialogue with KStret is impossible, since he can't help but (a) be uncharitable and (b) distort the facts.

    "Clearly lying?" Assuming Fluke is wrong about the cost, is it possible that she was just "clearly mistaken" or "clearly misinformed?" Couldn't Fluke have made a honest error in ascertaining correct information? Of course not, says KStret. Fluke is a "liberal activist" and so must be "clearly lying." Why bother being charitable?

    But is Fluke wrong about the cost? KStret is not beyond making gross distortions. In Fluke's testimony, which KStret clearly hasn't seen or read, she focused on serious medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, NOT on anyone's sex life (as KStret implies). Serious medical conditions can be expensive to treat, and Fluke gave the example of a friend with PCOS who was paying $100 a month for birth control medication but eventually could no longer afford it (resulting in the loss of an entire ovary). For women who require medically necessary hormone therapy, the cost of birth control medication can easily exceed $1000 per year. I don't know why KStret (a) has a hard time believing this and (b) feels the need to grossly mischaracterize Fluke's testimony.

  22. Spencer says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 03:51 PM:

    "At same the time that fact that any one is taking Sandra Fluke seriously is laughable. She is a liberal activist. She knew what George Town's policy was on contraception before she enrolled."

    What an astonishing statement. According to KStret, Fluke can't be taken seriously because she is a "liberal activist," which alone can disqualify a person from having a respectable opinion on any political matter. The circumstantial ad hominem fallacy apparently doesn't apply to her.

  23. Scott McCauley says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 05:47 PM:

    Windy,

    You said: "that right [receiving comprehensive preventive healthcare], too, is being trampled on". That's the problem! receiving comprehensive preventive healthcare is not a right. Where do you find that in the Constitution?

  24. Spencer says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 05:57 PM:

    Scott M,

    The right Windy referred to is a statutory right, not a constitutional right. You did not bother to address the substance of her previous post.

  25. Windy says on Mar 6, 2012 @ 06:39 PM:

    Spencer is correct. The right of black people to eat at a lunch counter is not in the Constitution, either. It is a statutory right passed under the Commerce Clause. But no one would suppose that a devout member of some Aryan Church could claim a conscience-based exemption under the First Amendment or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to violate that right.

  26. robaylesbury says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 03:14 AM:

    From a United Kingdom perspective, whenever I hear the healthcare debate across the pond I find myself a bit bewildered. Over here we all pay in and our National Health Service plods along, albeit with a lumbering and sometimes inefficient gait.

  27. Windy says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 06:03 AM:

    The real issue here isn’t about the First Amendment; it’s about how people view contraception. The enlightened view is that of the medical profession, Ms. Fluke and Spencer: it is an important form of preventive medicine. The backward view is that contraception is a frivolous way to enjoy consequence-free sex that contributes to moral decay (except in my own bedroom and those of my friends, where it’s okay). That’s what was so obnoxious about El Rusho’s comment. It’s not that he used the words “slut” and “prostitute” where a less oafish comic would have said “strumpet” and “trollop.” It’s that he said what the anti-woman right wing in America actually thinks.

  28. Scott McCauley says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 06:37 AM:

    First, I just can't see that people have a "right" to have stuff handed to them by somebody else.

    Second, Allowing some employers (or even all employers) to choose what level of healthcare assistance they want to provide does not deny anyone access to healthcare. They can work somewhere else, go to school somewhere else, or they just get pay for their own healthcare.

    If we allow our society to believe that everyone has a "right" to have stuff given to them, then we erode the incentive that people have to take responsibility for themselves.

    If someone can claim a "right" to have birth control given to them, then what's to prevent a bicyclist from claiming his "right" to have a helmet given to him? Where does it stop?

  29. robaylesbury says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 06:43 AM:

    In the UK the NHS (National Health Service) isn't given to us. We pay for it via our taxes.

  30. BJ says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 10:49 AM:

    Mr. McCauley,

    I think your usage of the word "stuff" is very broad. I can see how if everyone has the right to a $100,000 yearly salary -- regardless of their occupation, that could damage the incentive for personal responsibility. But how is a person having the right to receiving medical treatment hurting personal responsibility?

    Also, Spencer and Windy correctly pointed out that a right can be a statutory right without having to be a constitutional right. Do you have a responce to that or do you concede that point?

  31. Spencer says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 11:01 AM:

    Scott M,

    It appears you're moving the focus away from the claim that the insurance coverage mandate violates the First Amendment. Are you abandoning the "religious liberty" argument? If not, what is your response to Windy's previous post? If so, then what is the legal objection to the mandate?

  32. Scott McCauley says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 02:16 PM:

    My objection is on the grounds of the first amendment. That then leads me to an obligation (according to Windy) to show that the first amendment rights can be honored without unduly infringing on anyone elses rights. I argued that no other "rights" are infringed on because nobody can claim a "right" to have stuff handed to them.

    I understand that you label healthcare as a "statutory right". I'm saying that it shouldn't be a "right" - statutory or otherwise; therefore, there's nothing being trampled on. You may say "but it IS a right". I say that doesn't mean that it *should be* - let's fix that too, while we're at it. :-)

    I understand the need for safety nets in a society. But I don't think that birth control is a safety net item. Hospitals won't turn away patients needing emergency treatment. That's a safety net. We don't need to be dishing out birth control under the psuedonym of a "right".

  33. Windy says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 03:05 PM:

    Scott M:

    I did not ask you to "show that first amendment rights can be honored without unduly infringing on anyone else's rights." I asked you show that any First Amendment rights are being infringed (or, to use your less precise re-phrasing, "dishonored") by the complained-of employer insurance regulations. I see no such infringement on any legitimate First Amendment rights such that the regulations might potentially need any correction.

  34. Scott McCauley says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 03:30 PM:

    Windy,

    The Catholic widget factory owner who is forced to contract with an insurance company providing contraception has her first amendment right infringed upon.

    When I said that you asked me to show how honoring her rights did not unduly infringe on someone elses rights, I was refering to your request that I identify a "limiting principle for [my] 'free exercise' concerns to be taken seriously."

  35. Windy says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 04:43 PM:

    Scott M:

    You claim the Catholic widget factory owner’s First Amendment rights are being violated. I say they are not. I said that, for your argument to be taken seriously, you must first articulate a limiting principle by which we can distinguish between laws that violate the owner’s putative First Amendment rights and those that don’t. You proposed a standard under which, apparently, the owner has a virtual heckler’s veto over any law the Catholic Church doesn’t care for, so long as no one else’s rights are being “trampled.” I responded that, for openers, employee rights arguably are being trampled if the owner does not follow the complained-of insurance regulation. Certainly, the public interest is being trampled. I never suggested your “trampling” test makes any sense. It does not. But, rather than embarrass you about it, I went on to explain what the correct test is and why the complained-of regulations pass it. I think Spencer wants you to respond to the latter argument. Personally, I accept that you did the best you could and would just leave that part of the discussion where it is.

  36. KStret says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 06:56 PM:

    Spencer,
    Do you believe that the government can tell religious institutions that they have to pay for non essential contraceptive coverage that they find morally objectionable?

    Do you believe that the government can tell private insurance companies that they have to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost?

    "And yet ANOTHER example of why genuine dialogue with KStret is impossible, since he can't help but (a) be uncharitable and (b) distort the facts."

    Birth control pills cost 20-30 dollars. That is a fact.

    30 X 12= 360. Law school generally runs three years. 360 X 3= 1080. She said birth control costs $3000.

    If her numbers do not add up, who is distorting?

    A Target store three miles away from the University sells Tri-Sprintec. The drug is used to decrease the risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer and to fight acne. Target sell the drug for 9 dollars. A CVS two blocks away sells the drug for about 30 dollars.

    What can get expensive is office visits. As far as I know the doctor visits are covered.

    Even if you give her the amount of $3000 that comes out to 2.74 a day. Perhaps she could get a job?

    "KStret is not beyond making gross distortions. In Fluke's testimony, which KStret clearly hasn't seen or read, she focused on serious medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, NOT on anyone's sex life (as KStret implies). Serious medical conditions can be expensive to treat, and Fluke gave the example of a friend with PCOS who was paying $100 a month for birth control medication but eventually could no longer afford it (resulting in the loss of an entire ovary)."

    Fluke:
    "A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy."

    What did she say? Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance?

    If she wants to give examples that involve individual people she needs to provide names. During the health care debate the left was constantly citing health care horror stories and when they were actually checked out they turned out not to be true.

    There was an occupy Wall Street protester who was protesting a bank. He said that the particular bank took his parents' house away because they couldn't make the payments.

    It turns out that his parents are well off, his parents could make their house payments, lived in an expensive house that was never foreclosed on, and this trust fund baby was was attending a expensive university.

    They can get away with this because they know the media will not investigate it.

    "In Fluke's testimony"

    This was a publicity stunt.

    "According to KStret, Fluke can't be taken seriously because she is a "liberal activist," which alone can disqualify a person from having a respectable opinion on any political matter. The circumstantial ad hominem fallacy apparently doesn't apply to her. "

    I did not say she is a liberal activist, therefore she should be dismissed. Her entire argument is ridiculous.

    She knew what George town's policy was before she enrolled. She was an activists before she enrolled. Some of her early comments could be construed to mean that she enrolled precisely because of George towns policy on contraception.

    They reported that she was 23 and it looks like she is actually 30. That could be a mistake in reporting or something else.

    According to her she was a former president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Here is what they believe:

    A woman’s right to access an abortion, like her other reproductive rights, is rooted in fundamental human rights, including the right to life, the right to health, the right to dignity, the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to information, the right to self-determination, the right to education, the right to privacy, and the freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. [...]

    Abortion bans are a prime example of discrimination against women under this framework, or at least that’s what we would argue, because only women will ever be affected by restrictions on abortion, because only women will ever get pregnant.[...]

    So laws like the Hyde amendment, which withholds Federal funding for Medicaid abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or where a woman’s life is endangered, have a disproportionate effect on low-income women and women of color, and so we would argue they constitute discrimination. [...]

    Guess what the group did when a few web sites posted their video? They made it private so no one could see it. I wonder why they did that?

    In an article she wrote, she said:
    "Discrimination typically takes two forms: first, direct discrimination limiting access to benefits specifically needed by LGBTQ persons, and secondly, the unavailability of family-related benefits to LGBTQ families."

    The example of discrimination according to Fluke is not covering sex change operations.

    "A prime example of direct discrimination is denying insurance coverage for medical needs of transgender persons physically transitioning to the other gender."

    Here is another question:
    If someone else footing the bill for your health care, birth control, sex change operations and abortions are fundamental rights would not food, housing and a job also be a fundamental right too?

  37. KStret says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 06:56 PM:

    Windy,
    "The enlightened view is that of the medical profession, Ms. Fluke and Spencer: it is an important form of preventive medicine. The backward view is that contraception is a frivolous way to enjoy consequence-free sex that contributes to moral decay (except in my own bedroom and those of my friends, where it’s okay). "

    In other words the enlightened ones opinion trumps the 1st amendment. Because the enlightened ones believe that contraception is an important form of preventive medicine, the government can force church institutions to provide contraception.

    Because the enlightened ones believe that contraception is an important form of preventive medicine, the government can force private insurance companies to provide contraception at not cost.

    Group Enlightenment believes X is a good idea. Therefore it is a good idea and they can impose that idea on the backwards thinking white trash hillbillies because they are stupid and don't know any better?

    That sounds like a really bad idea for a political philosophy. I believe that has been tried many times...

    This also means the insurance companies' costs will go up because of the "free contraception." This will make the cost of insurance go up.

    "You proposed a standard under which, apparently, the owner has a virtual heckler’s veto over any law the Catholic Church doesn’t care for, so long as no one else's rights are being “trampled."

    With Obama's health care law, why did the government change their position that the health care law is a tax?

    Because the government can not force American citizens to purchase a product. Despite arguing that the health care law wasn't a tax, they change their argument because they know it is unconstitutional.

    That is demonstrably false to say "the church virtual heckler’s veto over any law the Catholic Church doesn’t care for"

    "I responded that, for openers, employee rights arguably are being trampled if the owner does not follow the complained-of insurance regulation."

    The owners of these institutions are Catholics. Catholics believe certian things. If the catholic church finds certian non essential contraceptives and abortions objectionable, as the owners they have the right not to provide that coverage.

    What you have is the government telling the catholic church that the have to violate the catholic religion because the government says so.

    As I have said before, you are playing a very dangerous game. Have you considered what happens when people who might agree with me political get fed up and start playing the same game that the left is playing?

  38. KStret says on Mar 7, 2012 @ 07:02 PM:

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan's letter:

    At a recent meeting between staff of the bishops’ conference and the White House staff, our staff members asked directly whether the broader concerns of religious freedom—that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table. They were informed that they are. So much for “working out the wrinkles.” Instead, they advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the “enlightened” voices of accommodation, such as the recent, hardly surprising yet terribly unfortunate editorial in America. The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated its own handpicked official Catholic teachers.

    http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=51472

    This is about religious freedom and people better wake up.....

  39. KStret says on Mar 8, 2012 @ 02:18 AM:

    Spencer,
    "In Fluke's testimony, which KStret clearly hasn't seen or read she focused on serious medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, NOT on anyone's sex life"

    Fluke:
    “Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice."

    She said that before she started talking about serious medical conditions. She gave the 3000 dollar figure before she started talking about serious medical conditions.

    If Georgetown does cover birth control for serious medical conditions, why would she be protesting their policy?

    Because they won't pay for contraception for women's sex lives.

    What about Flukes gay friend who couldn't afford 100 dollars a month for birth control. Why didn't she name the birth control drug her friend was taking? Why didn't her friend go to Target and pay $9 or CVS. What about planned parenthood?

    "Since last year’s surgery, she’s been experiencing night sweats and weight gain and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She’s 32-years-old.
    “As she put it, ‘If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no choice at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies simply because the insurance policy that I paid for, totally unsubsidized by my school, wouldn’t cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it.’
    “Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at such an early age – increased risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis – she may never be able to conceive a child."

    If she thinks that $100 is a lot, she's going to be in for a rude wakening when she learns how much it costs to get pregnant via a laboratory.

    Strike that...... If a sex change operation is a fundamental right, I guess artificial insemination would also be a fundamental right.

    Do you think she is going to name her friend?

  40. KStret says on Mar 8, 2012 @ 02:20 AM:

    If you have a problem with Rush Limbaugh's comments, you must also have a problem with the comments of various left wing commentators.

    A book could be filled with Bill Maher's misogynistic comments. He called Sara Palin the C-word. I would think the c-word would be even more offensive than what Rush said. There must have been a huge back lash against Bill, right? No, not a word.

    There are a myriad examples of left wing commentators and blogs saying the same type of thing if not worse. There is no call to boycott any of them.

    If the standard isn't a commentator says X, the commentator should be boycotted or fired etc, what is the standard?

    If a conservative commentator says X, they should be fired or boycotted. If a liberal commentator says X, nothing should happen.

    In other words, the issue is not about objecting to denigrating women, it's about politics. It's about rigging the deck so conservative commentators get kicked off the air and leftist commentators do not.

  41. Windy says on Mar 8, 2012 @ 03:01 AM:

    KStret:

    Scott M raised a question with respect to one discrete issue: the putative First Amendment rights of a private employer who objects to contraception on moral grounds. He was not talking about religious affiliates. I found his position radical and erroneous, and I answered it. Your comments are not germane to that discussion. If you think the regulations, as revised, violate the putative First Amendment rights of another actor, such as a religiously affiliated university or an insurance company, you are free to make that (meritless) argument. So far, you have not. Merely repeating an assumption that a putative First Amendment right is being violated without demonstrating that, in fact, the complained-of regulations violate such a right is just demagoguery of a type too often practiced by pundits, politicians, certain media outlets, and religious philosophers. If you think that contraception is not a form of preventive medicine or that preventive medicine should not be required in health insurance, you are free to make that argument. If you think the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to regulate the insurance business, you are free to make that (astonishing) argument. If you cannot discipline your comments in this manner, I suggest you follow Lincoln’s advice about silence and public opinion.

    My understanding is that economists say contraceptive coverage actually lowers the cost of employee insurance because it more than pays for itself in reduced claims for later medical care. If you have other information, you are free to provide it.

    Finally, your apparent concerns about the individual mandate are not germane. In passing, I will say that it is my understanding the Justice Department has argued the individual mandate is authorized by both the Commerce Clause and the Taxing Power. What would matter for the taxing-power argument is not whether the mandate was labeled as a “tax” when it was passed by Congress but whether the legislation falls within Congress’ taxing power (and is therefore lawful), regardless of how it was labeled when passed. If the President wins the case for a reason he did not advance during the legislative debates, I doubt he will suffer much political harm. But that has nothing to do with subject matter of this thread.

  42. robaylesbury says on Mar 8, 2012 @ 06:29 AM:

    Windy,
    The term "Painting with broad brush-strokes" springs to
    mind when considering the words of your opponent here.

  43. Spencer says on Mar 8, 2012 @ 10:47 AM:

    As KStret knows, when Fluke was talking about the $3,000 figure, she was referring to birth control prescribed for serious medical conditions. To suggest otherwise--as he did--is to willfully distort the facts. To suggest that Fluke's friend could have gotten her prescribed pills for $9 at Target is to engage in wildly unfounded, uninformed speculation (I have no reason to doubt that prescribed pills used to treat ovarian cysts can be expensive). In any case, the fact that KStret is so quick to charge Fluke with being a clear liar shows his willingness to engage in personal attacks, contrary to his earlier statement that he doesn't "agree with name calling."

  44. Mark ONeil says on Mar 9, 2012 @ 04:13 PM:

    How is it constitutional to compel an individual to buy something they either do not want or do not agree with either on free speech grounds or on religious grounds? I believe a parrallel example to the Fluke example would be that Joe Gun was a gun owner (2nd Amenment Right) and Joe Gun started to lose his hearing because he chose to operate his gun frequently on his own time. Joe Gun then complains that everyone else must take care of his medical needs (health insurance) to have earplugs or some other hearing safety device in order to protect the medical health of his hearing. Afterall, Joe Gun will become medically disabled if He loses his hearing and may need further medical attention such as implants if he loses his hearing completely.

    Now posit that there are other citizens like Saint Fluke who has religious beliefs that the use of weapons--like guns--are immoral. Is compeling Saint Fluke by force of law or penalty of fines or jail (instead of a personal libery choice by Saint Fluke to either participate or not participate on personal religious, free speech, or other morally based grounds in the free market options available) to pay for Joe Gun's personal lifestyle a power that constitutionally belongs to the state? The fact is that compelling someone against their religious and free speech constitutional rights by force of law, fine, or jail IS the test that the law is unconstitutional and cannot be applied.

    I can give so many more parallel arguments like that above which people of all moral persuasions would find morally reprehensible or objectionable. The premise of the entire healthcare of the individual mandate is just flat out unconstitutional (period).

  45. Ruber says on Mar 9, 2012 @ 05:23 PM:

    Isn't this about religious liberty BECAUSE of contraception? One side says contraception, the other side says religious liberty, but is it not both?

  46. Windy says on Mar 9, 2012 @ 05:57 PM:

    No. There is no legitimate religious-liberty issue. Churches and other religious institutions are exempt from the contraceptive-coverage requirement. Religious affiliates (such as universities, hospitals and charities) can opt out, though the insurance company must separately provide coverage to the employee at no additional cost. Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association are satisfied with this arrangement, and no one here has presented any reasonable argument that their judgment is wrong. Finally, for the reasons previously stated on this thread, the regulations do not place either a significant or impermissible burden on the religious liberty of other employers engaged in private commerce. The Catholic Church merely wants to make it as hard as possible for women to obtain birth control pills. That is the only "religious principle" at stake.

  47. Mark ONeil says on Mar 9, 2012 @ 08:25 PM:

    Wendy,

    It is not just religious organizations that will bear a significant burden against their religious liberty but also EVERY INDIVIDUAL citizen whose specific natural and unalienable religious right as described in the amendments to the U.S. Constitution will also bear a significant burden against their religious liberty to do something that is against (compelled against) their conscience. Namely, provide money to a organization whether governmental or private enterprise in the name of providing birth control to others in the name of medical care.

    Another example from historical law is excluding citizens from significant burdens to their religious thoughts(i.e.speech) is the exemption of conscientious objectors from government mandated drafts for military service. Every citizen who has conscientious objection to the healthcare law ought to be exempt from contributing to birthcontrol in the name of "healthcare" that goes against moral conscience. TO COMPEL CITIZENS TO VIOLATE THEIR MORAL CONSCIENCE is a significant burden. It is clear as day in the Bill of Rights. It IS an unalienable right to religious liberty that is being violated in the name of immoral and illegitimate jurisprudence.

    Currently, private health insurance covers the use of birth control hormones for legitimate medical problems. My wife has had birth control hormones prescribed to her for a legitimate medical condition and was convered by our private insurance. If this is the heart of Ms Fluke's argument, then it is one based upon a fallacious premise. However, to require that birth control be required for the sake of personal choice in sexual activity is not a medical requirement, but a personal activity that no one else should or must have to pay to occur.

    There are two major problems with the government healthcare as it is currently set up:

    1) The inidividual mandate is illegitimate. The government has no such power enumerated in the constitution and no such "right". Citizens own and are responsible for their own bodies and their own healthcare. My body and my health are my own private property/being and are not public commercial activities that can and ought to be regulated, except where harm or injury is caused to them by others.

    2) Compelling others by any law of jurisprudence against their relgious or free speech conscience is violating the unalienable rights of those citizens. This is the "test" which ALL law must pass for them to be legitimate laws. If there is no exclusion clause for religious liberty or free speech then the law is unconstitutional and violates the unalienable right of the citizen. Furthermore, the exclusion clause must not be burdensome in execution to those who have conscientious objections to the law.

    Lastly, how can you say there is no religious liberty issue? If any citizen who is a member of a historical religious organization that has a history of religious beliefs concerning a particular moral issue to which a law touches upon, then there is by defintion a religious liberty issue.

  48. Windy says on Mar 10, 2012 @ 12:29 PM:

    Mark O:

    Let me take your comments in reverse order:

    1. There is no question that a federal regulation is invalid to the extent it does not comport with the First Amendment. But you have not demonstrated the complained-of regulation violates any “free exercise” right of any individual. You merely assume the point in dispute and pound on the table like Scott M. Obviously, not every legal obligation that causes one to do something against one’s religious conscience violates “free exercise.” Otherwise, we would live in an anarchy of religious hecklers’ vetoes.

    Say a church considers the death penalty to be immoral and contrary to its most basic teachings. Can a church member, who was the only eyewitness to a multiple robbery-murder, refuse to testify on grounds that she does not want to contribute, even indirectly, to an immoral execution? Does she have a conscience-based right not to testify under the First Amendment merely because her church’s opposition to the death penalty is one of longstanding? Or must she put aside her individual conscience, perform her duty as a good citizen under the law, and limit her death-penalty opposition to the pursuit of legislative change? According to the theory previously advanced by Scott M (and possibly by you, as well), the answer would be that she may refuse to testify, since she is acting according to religiously-based conscience and she is trampling no one else’s rights. Surely, that would be a radical, and I think irresponsible, change in the law. And it would not be consistent with the legal tests used to determine when a law of general applicability unlawfully burdens free exercise of religion.

    If you think the moral consciences of a few oddballs who disapprove of contraceptive coverage are more important than the undisputed benefits society derives from efficient delivery of preventive medicine, that is a political argument. It is, in my opinion, a disgusting and retrograde argument, one that attacks women unconscionably merely to accommodate the inane opinions of natural-theology medievalists, but it is one way to balance interests politically. It rises or falls on its own merits, though. It does not wear any cloak of “religious liberty” that commands reflexive deference from the rest of us. Oddball religious crackpots (including ones who follow the advice of their bishops) have no general First Amendment right to pick and choose which laws they will deign to obey in the secular marketplace, and economic regulation need not be individually tailored to accommodate every eccentric who dissents from it. That is why the real issue here is about contraception and perhaps (religious-inflected) morality, but it is not about religious liberty. In fact, it trivializes the very concept of religious liberty to extend it into the regulated marketplace in the radical fashion you (and Dr. Craig and Rush Limbaugh) seem to endorse.

    2. The individual mandate is obviously not a question of religious liberty. Its constitutionality turns on the Commerce and Taxing Clauses. Those issues are before the Supreme Court and will be decided soon. There is no point in arguing them here. In passing, though, I will note that I am more than a little amused to watch people who, in other settings, denounce “judicial activism” urging the Supreme Court to invent limits on the Commerce and Taxing Clauses that do not appear anywhere in the text of the Constitution. So much for principles.

  49. Scott McCauley says on Mar 12, 2012 @ 09:47 AM:

    Windy,

    You say "If you think the moral consciences of a few oddballs who disapprove of contraceptive coverage are more important than the undisputed benefits society derives from efficient delivery of preventive medicine, that is a political argument. "

    Nobody has shown that upholding the rights recognized in the Free Excercise Clause would result in any significant loss of "benefits society derives..." Since that has not been shown, the default should be to that right granted in the constitution.

    Before you go and cite specific benefits that contraception provides to individuals, let me remind you that individuals can still get contraception elsewhere if they really want to and think they need it. You need to show clearly, in order to trump a constitutional right, that society is significantly harmed by upholding that right.

  50. KStret says on Mar 13, 2012 @ 11:34 PM:

    Spencer,
    " when Fluke was talking about the $3,000 figure, she was referring to birth control prescribed for serious medical conditions. To suggest otherwise--as he did--is to willfully distort the facts."

    You make an accusation, I post a rebuttal to that accusation, and then you repeat the exact same accusation again as if I had not said any thing.

    I addressed everything you said.

    Go back and listen to the speech. She starts out talking generally about birth control and gives the 3000 figure. She talked about her married friend who couldn't afford "contraception" any more. She said nothing about health issues until later in her fake testimony.

    There is the other problem when she said "technically George town covers birth control pills" for health issues.

    Why is she protesting Georgetown's coverage if they do cover birth control pills for health issues? Because she wants birth control covered for sexual issues.

    Then there is the Walmart and Target problem of selling birth control for 9 dollars....

    Post the same thing again...

  51. KStret says on Mar 13, 2012 @ 11:35 PM:

    Windy,
    "Scott M raised a question with respect to one discrete issue: the putative First Amendment rights of a private employer who objects to contraception on moral grounds. He was not talking about religious affiliates."

    I asked the questions:

    Do you believe that the government can tell religious institutions that they have to pay for non essential contraceptive coverage that they find morally objectionable?

    Do you believe that the government can tell private insurance companies that they have to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost?

    The second question is not a 1st amendment issue. The first question is a 1st amendment issue.

    "If you think that contraception is not a form of preventive medicine or that preventive medicine should not be required in health insurance, you are free to make that argument."

    This is a red herring. The issues are:

    Do you believe that the government can tell religious institutions that they have to pay for non essential contraceptive coverage that they find morally objectionable?

    Do you believe that the government can tell private insurance companies that they have to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost?

    "If you think the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to regulate the insurance business, you are free to make that (astonishing) argument."

    The government passing regulations on insurance companies is not even remotely close to the government dictating to insurance companies that they have to provide a product at no cost.

    "My understanding is that economists say contraceptive coverage actually lowers the cost of employee insurance because it more than pays for itself in reduced claims for later medical care. If you have other information, you are free to provide it."

    That is a red herring. If private insurance companies want to provide contraception at no cost, that is their business not the governments. The government can not force a private insurance company to provide contraceptions at no cost.

    I own a business and sell certain products. I buy them from distributer X but distributer Y sells the products 20% cheaper, does the government have the right force me to change distributors? NO!

    The government has no right to tell me how to run my business more efficiently. That is what you are saying with your economist point.

    You objection to this is based on a total misreading of the commerce clause. The commerce clause does not give the government carte blanche to ram whatever idea they think is best down the throats of a private company.

    This goes directly back to my point of the progressive movement changing the way law was taught. It was changed from what the founders actually believed to case law.

    If you are going to pick case law as the barometer to interpret what the constitution means, the logical end conclusion to that position is the law means whatever a judge says it means.

    In other words, you would have to believe that forced sterilizations are constitutional.

    "Say a church considers the death penalty to be immoral and contrary to its most basic teachings. Can a church member, who was the only eyewitness to a multiple robbery-murder, refuse to testify on grounds that she does not want to contribute, even indirectly, to an immoral execution? "

    You are making a text book straw-man argument. An insurance company being forced to provide contraception at no cost is not even in the same ball park as being an eye witness to a robbery/murder. Theft and murders are crimes. Not providing contraception is not.

    "Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association are satisfied with this arrangement, and no one here has presented any reasonable argument that their judgment is wrong."

    This is simply not true. This argument is being floated around by a bunch of left wing web sites and is based on flawed polling data.

    "If the President wins the case for a reason he did not advance during the legislative debates, I doubt he will suffer much political harm. But that has nothing to do with subject matter of this thread."

    My point was that that the Obama administration changed their argument. It wasn't a tax until it they had to make a legal argument to support their case. The government does have the right to tax. The government does not have the right to tell every individual citizen in the country that they must buy a product.

    He suffered a great deal of harm passing the bill. The majority of Americans are against it.

    "n fact, it trivializes the very concept of religious liberty to extend it into the regulated marketplace in the radical fashion you (and Dr. Craig and Rush Limbaugh) "

    Do you have a problem with Bill Maher?

  52. KStret says on Mar 13, 2012 @ 11:36 PM:

    Scott,
    "You need to show clearly, in order to trump a constitutional right, that society is significantly harmed by upholding that right."

    Even if she can make the argument that society is significantly harmed by upholding a constitutional right, the right can not be discarded.

    We would need to hold a constitutional convention and get rid of the right by amending the constitution.

    However, she doesn't believe that any of this is unconstitutional.

  53. KStret says on Mar 13, 2012 @ 11:50 PM:

    Mark,
    "How is it constitutional to compel an individual to buy something they either do not want or do not agree with either on free speech grounds or on religious grounds?"

    It's not. If it is deemed constitutional, the next question is what can't the government compel people to do?

    If people get their insurance from the government, can the government tell you how to eat? If you don't eat right health care costs go up. The greater good clearly shows, that the government can regulate what you eat.

    If you are overweight can the government deny you treatment that could be construed as being the cause of the illness? The greater good clearly shows, that the government can deny coverage.

    If a women is pregnant and there could be a problem with the baby. The problem will have a high cost throughout the baby's life, does the government have the right to force the women to get an abortion?

    Scary things happen when you take a collectivist point of view.....

  54. Spencer says on Mar 14, 2012 @ 07:26 AM:

    KStret,

    "I addressed everything you said."

    But you didn't. You clearly didn't listen to her speech.

  55. Windy says on Mar 14, 2012 @ 03:11 PM:

    KStret:

    Allow me to rearrange your comments in order of importance:

    “Do you have a problem with Bill Maher?” Sure, lots of them. Who doesn’t? But he’s small potatoes compared to El-Rushamore. I say: Meat first and spoon vittles to top off ‘em. (Apologies to Mark Twain.)

    “Do you believe that the government can tell religious institutions that they have to pay for non essential [sic] contraceptive coverage that they find morally objectionable?” Since religious institutions are exempt from the coverage requirement, the question is idle. I think the regulation is valid as it applies to religious affiliates, if that’s what you’re trying to ask. To the extent you’re trying to ask something else, the question is so poorly written as to be beneath notice.

    “Do you believe that the government can tell private insurance companies that they have to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost?” The regulations, as revised, state that, where an insurance company provides insurance to a religious affiliate and the religious affiliate declines contraceptive coverage, the insurance company must honor the exception but must make contraceptive coverage available at no additional cost to the employee. The insurance company is not required to provide anything to the employee except as an adjunct to its own prior business relationship with the employer. I think it is perfectly lawful to regulate business in this manner. To the extent you are trying to ask something else, see response above.

    "An insurance company being forced to provide contraception at no cost is not even in the same ball park as being an eye witness to a robbery/murder.” My example – a person who objects to the death penalty being forced to testify in a capital-murder trial – was given in the context of someone else’s discussion of the limits on the individual’s religious liberty, a subject about which you appear to be uninterested. My point was that the obligation of the witness to testify does not depend on an ad-hoc balancing of interests. Her testimony does not significantly burden any cognizable interest in religious liberty to begin with. The same absence of a burden on religious liberty would exist with respect to a widget-maker who objects to contraceptive coverage (or to an insurance company that objects to it). The absence of a burden on religious liberty would not exist, however, with respect to the priest-confessor privilege, which would apply in a trial no matter how serious the crime. The point is that religious liberty can be implicated by the direct regulation of a priest or a church in a way it is not implicated by the regulation of a private economic actor who merely belongs to a church and holds certain beliefs.

    “The commerce clause does not give the government carte blanche to ram whatever idea they think is best down the throats of a private company.” Oh? Where do you see a “throat ramming” caveat in the Constitution? Quote the words. Identify a useable principle that properly cabins federal regulation of interstate commerce. “You[r] objection to this is based on a total misreading of the commerce clause.” Really? A total misreading? Gosh, Mister, what part of “Congress shall have Power . . . [t]o regulate Commerce . . . among the States” do I misread? What part of that sentence prohibits an individual insurance mandate? “If you are going to pick case law as the barometer to interpret what the constitution means, the logical end conclusion to that position is the law means whatever a judge says it means.” What can I say? Like all true conservatives, I’m a sucker for stability, continuity, ordered progress, plain language and precedent.

    Finally, you dissent from my statement that "Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association are satisfied” with accommodation of religious affiliates. I double checked on the Internet, and maybe you are half right. The Catholic Health Association immediately issued a forceful statement in support of the accommodation. Catholic Charities initially issued a similar endorsement, but apparently later qualified it to say the accommodation was a good “first step.” Maybe it felt some pressure from You Know Who.

    Rush, I mean.

  56. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 12:36 AM:

    If those attacking Fluke won't listen or read her whole testimony, perhaps they'll read this:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201203140016

  57. Windy says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 04:19 AM:

    And, after they're done ignoring Spencer's post, they can ignore "Why Obama's Health Care Law is Constitutional" by David Cole in this week's Nation magazine.

  58. robaylesbury says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 04:56 AM:

    And when they've done that:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-m-krauss/santorum-science_b_1346111.html?ref=politics

    Not strictly related, but raises an interesting question.

  59. Windy says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 08:13 AM:

    Actually, Rob, the Krauss piece is directly related to our discussion. The centerpiece of KStret's opposition to contraceptive coverage is his unexplained and aggressively anti-scientific assumption that contraception is "non essential" to a comprehensive program of preventive health care. That is Limbaugh's position as well: that contraceptive coverage merely pays for sexual license.

  60. BJ says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 09:29 AM:

    The media matters piece was pretty enlightening. I wonder if Kstret is really Sean Hannity, since their arguments sound so similar.

  61. KStret says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:02 PM:

    Spencer,
    Media matters is a leftist propaganda web site. For someone who is so concerned about "distortion" and "lies" it is ironic that you would post something from media matters.

    I am sure you would all take an article that I posted from Rush Limbaugh's web site seriously.

    "But you didn't. You clearly didn't listen to her speech."

    You didn't address one thing I said and repeated the same things as I predicted.

    If her problem has to do with health issues and not people's sex lives, why has she been protesting Georgetown's contraception policy when she said that "technically" Georgetown's policy does cover contraceptives for health problems?

  62. KStret says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:09 PM:

    Windy,
    "Sure, lots of them. Who doesn’t? But he’s small potatoes compared to El-Rushamore."

    Which is worse calling a women a slut or the C-word?

    You essentially stated by calling Maher small potatoes that your problem isn't about misogynistic comments but rather with their political positions and status.

    "Since religious institutions are exempt from the coverage requirement, the question is idle. I think the regulation is valid as it applies to religious affiliates, if that’s what you’re trying to ask."

    In the other thread, you took the opposite position, didn't you?

    There isn't really much difference between a religious institution being forced to provide contraceptives at no cost and the religious institution opting out and the insurance companies being told by the government that they have to provide contraceptives at no cost.

    The end result is that the religious institution has to provide contraception to it's employees even though they object to it.

    "My example – a person who objects to the death penalty being forced to testify in a capital.."

    At best you have an invalid comparison. You are making a strawman argument. You cannot compare testifying in a murder case to not providing contraception.

    Do you believe that the government can tell private insurance companies that they have to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost?

    In other words, you do believe that the government has the power to tell a private insurance company that they must provide contraception at no cost.

    Does the government have the power to tell a private company they must change the distributor that they buy their products from?

    "total misreading? Gosh, Mister, what part of “Congress shall have Power . . . [t]o regulate Commerce . . . among the States” do I misread? What part of that sentence prohibits an individual insurance mandate?"

    The progressives reinterpreted the commerce clause to mean any gainful activity. This gave them a wide berth to impose more regulations. Passing regulations is how progressives go around the constitution.

    They are not going to ban guns, they are just going to have the EPA ban lead, which makes it imposable to buy bullets.

    They are not going to ban guns, you just have to fill out 1000 pages of paper work if you want to buy a gun. If you don't cross a 't' the right way you can't buy a gun.

    The original meaning of the commerce clause was limited. In other words, it doesn't give the government the power to take over the health care business, force American citizens to buy a product, or tell an insurance company that they have to provide contraception.

    "What can I say? Like all true conservatives, I’m a sucker for stability, continuity, ordered progress, plain language and precedent."

    Is the original meaning of the constitution and what the founders believed the barometer we should use for interpreting the constitution or do you believe that case law is the barometer?

    "The centerpiece of KStret's opposition to contraceptive coverage is his unexplained and aggressively anti-scientific assumption that contraception is "non essential" to a comprehensive program of preventive health care."

    Really? That's funny because I though my opposition to Fluke points was that religious institutions have the right not to cover non-essential contraceptives.

    She stated that "technically" Georgetown's policy does cover contraceptives for health problems. Her objection to Georgetown's policy would have to be about Georgetown not covering contraceptions for sex. Do you think sex is an essential activity?

    I also thought my position was that the government doesn't have the right to force private insurance companies to provide contraceptives at no cost.

    I don't believe that it is a right to get contraceptives at no cost. Wouldn't heart medication be more essential than contraceptives? People have to pay for heart medication. Shouldn't heart medication be "free" too?

    The amount of 3000 breaks down to about 2.73 a day. Are you telling me that she can't get a job? Why don't all these people she talks about go to Walmart, Target, or Planned Parenthood?

    If someone else footing the bill for your health care, birth control, sex change operations and abortions are fundamental rights would not food, housing and a job also be a fundamental right too?

  63. KStret says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:10 PM:

    Rob,
    That article was a giant ad hominem attack.

  64. KStret says on Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:21 PM:

    BJ,
    If I posted an article from Sean Hannity, Rob, Spencer, Windy, and you would dismiss it.

    Yet, posting articles from a leftist propaganda web site is enlightening. According to you, Rob, and Spencer I am incredibly dishonest. I am always lying, distorting, and reverting to dirty tricks.

    However, posting an article about Rick Santorum that is giant ad hominem attack is fine.

    Why? Because you agree with it.

  65. robaylesbury says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 02:45 AM:

    I think we need to explain to kstret what "Ad hominem" means.

  66. Windy says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 03:49 AM:

    KStret:

    1. You are not being attacked personally. The statute under which the health-care regulations were promulgated mandates comprehensive insurance coverage, including preventive care. The medical profession has identified contraception as a form of preventive care. You keep insisting that contraceptives are “non-essential.” It is the centerpiece of your argument, since obviously you are not such a brute as to deny essential preventive health care to any human being. But you have yet to explain why the availability of contraception is not essential to women’s health. Your position is so contrary to the best medicine and the best science that you’re beginning to sound like Bill Maher on one of his rants about “non-essential” vaccinations.

    2. To require an insurance company to provide contraceptive coverage, at no additional cost, to those employees to whom it already furnishes insurance for a fee is obviously not the same as requiring an insurance company, at its own expense, to provide a contraceptive policy to anyone who walks in the door and demands it. For one thing, the “free” contraceptive coverage actually works to the insurance company’s financial advantage in the former case (because the preventive care more than pays for itself in the long run). For another, the former case involves an existing and larger business relationship, while the latter does not. I have expressed no opinion about whether it would be lawful to require insurance companies to provide a contraceptive policy, at their own expense, to anyone who walks in the door, because the “question” does not reflect any real-world concerns. In fact, I’m not sure any of this discussion about insurance companies reflects any real-world concerns, since, to my knowledge, the for-profit insurance companies are not the ones complaining.

    3. I have not, to my knowledge, taken any inconsistent positions. Under the revised regulations, contraceptive coverage is furnished as an adjunct to the employee’s coverage, but the religiously- affiliated employer has no formal connection with that particular transaction. Obviously, the insurance company has business connections with both the employee and the employer, but the insurance company has no religious sensibilities to be accommodated. (Neither does the religiously-affiliated employer, really, but that’s water under the bridge.)

    4. With respect to your rambling jurisprudential comments, the assignment I gave you was very precise: identify the actual words in the Constitution that prohibit the individual insurance mandate in specific or the federal regulation of insurance-related commerce in general. So, far, I’m forced to give you an “incomplete.” For make-up credit, though, you can look up the definition of “judicial activism” and write it five hundred times.

  67. robaylesbury says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 03:56 AM:

    I wonder whether some us get hung up when we hear the term "Ignorant" bandied about? I think we need to remind ourselves that in and of itself ignorance is not a crime. My main issue with the Republican movement is with what appears to be a wilful rejection of any or all information that would threaten or undermine existence mantra's.

    I have a big issue with this. I think we all should. When I see the Republican candidates from the far off shores of the UK I am astonished, perplexed, and horrified. Would we want any of them holding the most senior office on the planet?

  68. Spencer says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 08:21 AM:

    KStret,

    There's nothing "propagandist" about the Media Matters article; it consists mostly of statements from conservatives who commented (and distorted) Fluke's testimony and Fluke's actual testimony. Did you even read the article?

    "You didn't address one thing I said"

    But I did. In response to your charge that Fluke was "clearly lying" about the $3000 figure, I pointed out that you have no basis for making this personal attack. She was not referring to anyone's sex life but to birth control prescribed for serious medical conditions (which you still don't seem to get). I also pointed out that saying her friend could have gotten her prescribed pills for $9 is to engage in wildly unfounded, uninformed speculation.

    "If her problem has to do with health issues and not people's sex lives, why has she been protesting Georgetown's contraception policy when she said that "technically" Georgetown's policy does cover contraceptives for health problems?"

    Only someone who hasn't understood Fluke's testimony could ask this question. She pointed out that even though Georgetown insurance policy "technically" covers her friend's prescription, her friend wasn't actually covered. Do you not understand the difference between something being "technically covered" and something being "actually covered?" From her testimony:

    -----------------
    Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy. Under many religious institutions’ insurance plans, it wouldn’t be, and under Senator Blunt’s amendment, Senator Rubio’s bill, or Representative Fortenberry’s bill, there’s no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs. When they do exist, these exceptions don’t accomplish their well-intended goals because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren’t, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body.


    For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy.
    -------------------

    Confusion about why Fluke was protesting Georgetown's policy can only result from not wanting to understand her testimony.

  69. BJ says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 10:47 AM:

    KStret,

    Your dismissal of the media matters piece is a textbook ad hominem fallacy. It's unfortunate that you didn't even give it a 3 minute read.

    If you posted a Limbaugh/Hannity/Coulter article, I couldn't dismiss it without at least reading it and finding something to take issue with. I challenge you to go back and read that article, sir.

    Upon reading it, you will see that many of the points that you take issue with, with respect to Ms. Fluke's testimony, are simply incorrect.

  70. Spencer says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 11:02 AM:

    "Your dismissal of the media matters piece is a textbook ad hominem fallacy."

    That is correct - KStret committed the circumstantial ad hominem fallacy.

  71. Spencer says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 03:47 PM:

    I posted a link to another Media Matters article detailing the numerous other offensive remarks made by Rush, but my post was deleted.

    I have always admired reasonablefaith's fairly liberal comment policy, which I found to be a model of openness for the free exchange of information and ideas; in my experience, other Christian websites aren't so open. The deletion may force me to revise my previously held opinion of reasonablefaith, but I will (for the moment) attribute it to a one time mistake made in haste. In my next post, I will repost my deleted comments.

  72. Spencer says on Mar 16, 2012 @ 05:13 PM:

    I see that my post in which I link to the Media Matters article was again deleted (a third time), and without any explanation whatsoever. I am truly disappointed in FR. For those interested, see the following article in Media Matters: "Limbaugh Launched 46 Personal Attacks On Fluke; He Apologized For Two Words."

  73. robaylesbury says on Mar 17, 2012 @ 01:53 AM:

    I'm generally in agreement with Spencer and much admire the relaxed moderation on this site. I've learned that jokes made at the expense of WLC tend to be deleted, so I've reigned in that mischievous aspect of my personality. It's much harder for Christian's over at Richard Dawkins site, although a lot of that has to do with the quality of some of the fly by posters. Someone like Scott would be absolutely fine because he at least get's you thinking. It's the believers that think quoting scripture concludes all discussion that tend to be shown the door.

  74. Windy says on Mar 17, 2012 @ 06:43 AM:

    To sum up: This thread has demonstrated that the complained-of contraceptive-coverage regulations implicate no legitimate religious-liberty concern with respect to religious institutions (churches, temples, etc.), religious affiliates (universities, hospitals, etc.), private businesses (widget-makers), or insurance companies (who aren’t even complaining). It has further demonstrated that contraception is an essential form of preventive medicine, which was properly included by the President in the comprehensive coverage mandated by Congress to correct perceived failures in the health-insurance market. This thread has further demonstrated that criticism of Sandra Fluke’s public statement ranges from the crude to the ignorant to the idiotic. It reflects simple misogyny, whether that misogyny takes the crass form of calling an articulate law student a “slut;” the condescending form of calling a 30-year-old advocate for reproductive rights a “girl” who lacks sufficient expertise to speak; or the utterly insipid form of claiming that the only purpose of contraception is to facilitate carefree sexual license.

    Ps. The $3,000 figure that has drawn fire in KStret’s repetitive talking points was obviously an estimate of outermost three-year costs (what contraception “can” cost), not an estimate of average three-year costs. It presumably includes any medical uses for contraceptive pills that require a higher-than-average dosage. I realized this when I reread the excellent links that Spencer managed to slip past the watchdogs of morality and discourse. Thank you, Spencer, for your persistence.

  75. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2012 @ 09:36 AM:

    Additionally, notice that WLC never bothers to mention Fluke by name even though she is a main focus of his podcast, but he does mention Angela Morabito by name (i.e. the Georgetown student who attacked Fluke in a hit piece). Maybe I'm over-analyzing, but this asymmetry in name-mentioning struck me as a subtle, calculated tactic to attack the credibility of Fluke ("a girl") and to boost the credibility of Morabito ("fellow student"). The subtle can often be more powerful than the obvious. If WLc weren't such a fine debater, I probably wouldn't have thought this.

  76. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2012 @ 04:22 PM:

    Some excellent responses to many of the talking points surrounding this controversy:

    http://blog.talkingphilosophy.com/?p=4396

  77. pauld says on Mar 17, 2012 @ 06:07 PM:

    Windy:  As a lawyer I think the free-exercise issues are self evident.

    A basic distiction  can be drawn between two categories of cases:

    1) Cases in which religious groups seek exemption from laws that prohibit a religious practice;

    2)  Cases in which religious groups seek exemptions from laws that compel them to act contrary to their religious beliefs.  The contraceptive mandate falls in this latter category

    First amendment challenges to the first category have seldom if ever been successful.  For example, Courts have had little problem upholding laws against polygamy against challenges  by Mormans.  Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith also falls within this category. (Upholding law that banned use of peyote, including native indian ceremonial use)

    By contrast, there is a long line of cases in category 2 that have recognized 1st Ammendment challenges. See for example, Wisconsin v Yoder (exempting Amish from compulsory education laws past the 8th grade based on religious objection) and Minersville School District v. Gobitis (Jehovah Witnesses could not  be compelled to say pledge of allegiance over religious objections)

    Courts are always called upon to define the limits of constitutional rights such as when the free speech clause pushes against libel laws.  The fact that lines must be drawn and limiting principles must be defined has never been a reason to delete a constitutional right.

    Finally, I would note that the status quo has no mandates.  Employers and employees currently negotiate medical benefits.  I think it is over the top to describe existing policy as trampling upon rights.

  78. Windy says on Mar 17, 2012 @ 07:59 PM:

    Pauld:

    I have discussed the constitutional and statutory aspects of this issue, with the brevity this forum permits, above. As a lawyer, you should be aware that Employment Division v. Smith distinguishes Yoder and Minersville on a ground other than the one you rely upon. The language of the decision, which is available online, plainly leaves no room for your position as a matter of constitutional law. The statutory issue is more interesting, but I think is ultimately unavailing for the reasons previously stated. Still, anyone can file a lawsuit, so I guess we shall see.

  79. pauld says on Mar 17, 2012 @ 09:23 PM:

    I would disagree that the dicta in ED v Smith forecloses a 1st amendment claim. I am curious whether you tbink a law compelling ob/gyns to perform elective abortions would raise legitimate 1st amendment claims.

  80. Windy says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 01:12 AM:

    Pauld:

    Put it this way: It would be a lot easier for a judge who didn’t want to get swiftly reversed to distinguish Yoder and Minersville, as per Smith, than to try to dismiss Smith’s devastating, on-point reasoning as mere dicta. If a widget-maker won the First Amendment argument you’ve just sketched, its lawyers would deserve every penny of their fee. In my opinion, requiring insurance companies to include contraceptive coverage in the employee insurance offered by a widget-maker can scarcely be characterized as even an incidental burden on the religious beliefs or practices of the widget-maker. The case could be distinguished from Yoder and Minersville on that ground alone, not to mention the complete absence of any intertwined free-speech concern. And, since any hypothetical constitutional defect could be immediately fixed merely by making the formal opt-out provision available to religious affiliates more broadly available to widget-makers, I’m not sure I see any practical point to the litigation in the first place. But good luck with your theory! Let us know how the cases come out.

    With respect to abortion, a regulation mandating the inclusion of abortion coverage in employee health insurance would probably be fine constitutionally, although the rule might be beyond the statutory authorization, depending on how it was written. A regulation requiring doctors perform abortions would not be authorized by the statute, so, for our purposes, the question is moot. In the extremely unlikely event that such a statute were ever passed by a state or Congress, my offhand guess would be that there would still be no free-exercise violation under the First Amendment, although the statute might invite a sui generis extension of substantive due process, since the requirement bears some similarity to the kind of involuntary servitude by increments that the Fourteenth Amendment, at its core, was written to guarantee against, and that rationale probably would be extended to the Fifth Amendment, as well. I’d have to think about that question a great deal more to give a complete answer, though, and since the issue is widely hypothetical and goes far beyond the subject of the podcast, I would not be inclined to divert any further discussion to it. Feel free to state your own hypothetical opinion, however. Someone else might find that sort of improbable arcana interesting.

  81. pauld says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 02:42 AM:

    The hypothetical regarding a law that would compel an ob/gyn to perform  elective abortions is simply to illustrate that the view of religious freedom you advocate is extremely cramped and narrow.  No doubt that is why the religious freedom restoration act was swiftly and overwhelmingly passed in response to ED v Smith decision..  It also illustrates why I think it is  possible that a majority of the justices may want to revisit it if given the opportunity in a case of broader significance than peyote use.

    I agree that generally that one can rely somewhat on the judgment of Congress not to pass legislation that offends most people's sense of decency and fairness.  That is why I don't think the contraceptive mandate would have passed if put to a vote in Congress

  82. Windy says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 06:03 AM:

    Pauld:

    I look forward to seeing how the widget-makers fare in their fight to convince the Supreme Court to revisit the Smith decision, broaden the currently moribund “constitutional right” to disobey economic laws of general applicability in the name of personal conscience, and correct the hypothetical flaws in hypothetical future laws. As I say, keep us posted on their progress. In the meantime, the real-world debate – the political one – pits the health of women and the welfare of society against the moral opinions of a few (supposed) widget-makers who don’t even appear to be all that riled up to begin with. The defeat of the Blunt Amendment was a good start in the ongoing struggle for decency and fairness, but battle is far from over. We should applaud people like Sandra Fluke for doing their part so ably and so responsibly in the face of such cruelty, dishonesty and stupidity.

  83. pauld says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 06:31 AM:

    Oh please spare me the hyperbole. Currently there is no contraceptive mandate and women seem to be surviving and even finding access to contraceptives.

    I personally have no moral objections to cotraceptives, but Iknow how extending the principle involved threatens the religious liberties of all. So much for the concept that Obama was to be a uniter rather than a divider. I think that he is directly attacking a core term of the social contract that has allowed diverse people to live together and function cooperatively.

    I am curious about your use of the term widget maker. Is this term intended to trivialize the work of many people who produce products?

  84. Windy says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 08:14 AM:

    Pauld:

    No disparagement intended. If you review the preceding discussion, you'll find some of it appears to confuse religious institutions (churches, etc.), religious affiliates (universities, hospitals, etc.), private businesses (non-sectarian widget-makers) and people who are required to have insurance under the individual mandate. I was just trying to keep the categories separate with consistent use of a commonly used and memorable phrase.

    Re hyperbole: check out the third-world status of the United States on measures of health care like infant mortality. Comprehensive health coverage, including preventive care, is extremely important.

  85. Tex says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 09:36 AM:

    KStret,
    You really are in over your head. At least McCauley was made legally-based, although invalid, arguments. I’m gonna start from the beginning and slowly make my way through your posts.

    “Does the government have the right to force religious institutions to provide non-essential care that they morally disagree with?”

    Personally I think the idea that religious institutions are exempt from laws that infringe on their morality is at best a load of crap, and at worst dangerous and outdated. Morality as a legal defense is an insult to the American judicial system. It’s a “get out of jail free” card for churches, and it creates a huge gray area. Why should Christians’ morals be legally protected, but mine aren’t because I don’t belong to a church? That’s just my opinion, but I digress.

    To answer your question, yes, the government does have that right. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” Neither of the religious clauses of the 1st amendment, Establishment and Free Exercise, are violated. A law requiring insurance companies to provide contraception is not respecting an establishment of religion. Gonzalez v. UDV (2006) says that free exercise cases must meet the “compelling interest” standard, such as preserving the lives of multiple individuals. Providing potentially life saving healthcare to women clearly meets this standard. Honestly, Mormons have a better case for the legalization of polygamy. It’s funny, y’all keep harping on how the government is infringing on your freedom of religion, when in reality they’re stopping you from infringing on others’ freedom from religion.

    “Does the government have the right to force private insurance companies to provide non-essential care at no cost?”

    This question shows exactly how the Christian-right is ruining the Republican Party. Yes, they do. Do some research next time.

    “If I find abortions and contraception reprehensible should the government be able to take my money and fund abortions and pay for contraception?”

    How are you a functioning citizen? Are you seriously asking if the government is legally obligated to get every citizens approval before they spend any of their money?

    “I don't agree with name calling. At same the time that fact that any one is taking Sandra Fluke seriously is laughable. She is a liberal activist. She knew what George Town's policy was on contraception before she enrolled.”

    If you’re gonna try to insult someone from one of the best schools in the country, at least spell the school’s name right. It’s Georgetown, not George Town. That just wreaks of community college drop out.

  86. pauld says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 10:16 AM:

    If you take some time and read a careful analysis of the comparisons of international mortality rates you will find that they tell one very little about the relative quality of health care.  Furthermore to the extent the U.S. has health care delivery problems, access to affordable contraceptives is not one of them.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out politically. Glenn Reynolds, a law professor,  has noted many of his faculty collegues who are liberal Catholics are deeply offended by the mandate.  He suggests that if the idea is going over well on law faculties, that isn't good for the proposal.
    I personally cannot think of any other government policy that is as deeply offensive to my to my views on religious freedom as this and I am not Catholic nor morally opposed to contraceptives. 

  87. KStret says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 02:42 PM:

    Spencer,
    "Only someone who hasn't understood Fluke's testimony could ask this question. She pointed out that even though Georgetown insurance policy "technically" covers her friend's prescription, her friend wasn't actually covered... ......She was not referring to anyone's sex life but to birth control prescribed for serious medical conditions (which you still don't seem to get)" ."

    You didn't answer my question.

    I asked you if Fluke's only concerned with Health issues, why is it that she has been protesting Georgetown's policy since she started attending the University when they do cover contraception for health issues?

    If Georgetown does cover contraception for health issues, what does she want covered if she is protesting that policy?

    I also addressed her fake testimony.

    In the beginning she was not talking about health issues. She cited a married "friend" who had to stop taking birth control pills and another anonymous victim who was humiliated when she attempted to purchases birth-control pills and learned that it wasn't covered.

    "But I did. In response to your charge that Fluke was "clearly lying" about the $3000 figure, I pointed out that you have no basis for making this personal attack."

    Did she name the medication and her friend? No, she did not.

    I also pointed out that her numbers didn't add up and that even if you give her the 3000 dollar amount that comes to 2.73 a day.

    "I also pointed out that saying her friend could have gotten her prescribed pills for $9 is to engage in wildly unfounded, uninformed speculation. "

    You are free to point that out but it is a fact that Walmart and target provide birth control pills for $9.

    I believe Planned Parenthood also provides birth control pills.

    This entire issue is designed to take the attention off of the real issue.

  88. KStret says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 02:44 PM:

    BJ and Spencer,
    "Your dismissal of the media matters piece is a textbook ad hominem fallacy."

    If I posted a story that came one of those grocery store tabloids that have alien babies on the cover, would it be a a textbook ad hominem fallacy to dismiss the story based on where it came from?

    Let's take media matters and add an (R)instead of a (D) after it's name.

    If I posted a story coming from a republican propaganda web site that meets regularly with top republican party officials, that has a team of lemmings listening to liberal talk shows attempting to find anything they can use to get the hosts kicked off the air, and leaked memos show that they were hiring private investigators to follow and dig up dirt on liberal television network members so they can blackmail them, would you say the same thing?

    That is exactly what media matters does.

    Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are honest about where they are coming from. They are conservative commentators.

    Media Matters does not rise to even being a web site from a liberal perspective. They are a flat out propaganda outfit. There are a myriad of examples of this outfit lying, distorting, and taking out things of context.

    If someone you know is a compulsive lair, it is not a textbook ad hominem fallacy to dismiss what they tell you. Media Matters is a compulsive liar.

    Neither one of you objected to Rob's post that was a giant ad hominem attack of Rick Santorum. Neither one of you would read a conservative article coming from Hannity or Limbaugh and take it seriously.

    "If you posted a Limbaugh/Hannity/Coulter article, I couldn't dismiss it without at least reading it and finding something to take issue with."

    You have dismissed many things on this board because of the source. I made a point about President Obama, you dismissed the claim because you thought it was coming from Fox news.

    The logical fallacy here is special pleading.

  89. Spencer says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 02:58 PM:

    KStret,

    "I asked you if Fluke's only concerned with Health issues, why is it that she has been protesting Georgetown's policy since she started attending the University when they do cover contraception for health issues?"

    This question was answered. Go back and re-read (several times) the quoted portions of Fluke's testimony and you'll understand why she's protesting Georgetown's policy.

    "If Georgetown does cover contraception for health issues, what does she want covered if she is protesting that policy?"

    Asked and answered.

    "I also addressed her fake testimony. "

    But you didn't. When she brought up the $3,000 figure, she was clearly talking about birth control pills prescribed for serious medical conditions, but you have dishonestly suggested that the figure refers to the average cost of birth control. Again, you had no basis for your "clearly lying" charge.

    "This entire issue is designed to take the attention off of the real issue."

    The only issue I was concerned with was your "clearly lying" charge, as it offers a perfect demonstration regarding your inability to engage in honest dialogue. For someone who "doesn't agree with name-calling," you were very quick to launch an utterly baseless personal attack against Fluke.

  90. Spencer says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 03:04 PM:

    "Media Matters is a compulsive liar."

    Sorry, but there is nothing you said to substantiate this (baseless) claim. Did you even bother to read the article? If you did, you'd know your "lying" charge makes no sense because the article consists mostly of quotes from Fluke's critics followed by Fluke's actual testimony.

  91. Spencer says on Mar 18, 2012 @ 03:29 PM:

    "They are a flat out propaganda outfit. There are a myriad of examples of this outfit lying, distorting, and taking out things of context."

    Name one example, if you can. But even if Media Matters is guilty of those things, that does nothing to undermine the particular article I linked to because (again) it consists mostly of just quotes from conservative critics and Fluke's actual testimony.

  92. KStret says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 01:07 AM:

    Windy,
    "But you have yet to explain why the availability of contraception is not essential to women’s health."

    I don't need to. That is a red herring that has nothing to do with the topic.

    Is there a difference between taking birth control pills for a heath issue and taking them because you don't want to be pregnant?

    "Your position is so contrary to the best medicine and the best science "

    This is another red herring. It doesn't matter what the enlightened people believe.

    "To require an insurance company to provide contraceptive coverage, at no additional cost, to those employees to whom it already furnishes insurance for a fee is obviously not the same as requiring an insurance company, at its own expense, to provide a contraceptive policy to anyone who walks in the door and demands it."

    1.You have the government dictating to a private insurance company what their policy is.

    2. You are forcing church institutions to provide a product that they don't want covered because of religious objections. The Church owns the institutions.

    "For one thing, the “free” contraceptive coverage actually works to the insurance company’s financial advantage in the former case (because the preventive care more than pays for itself in the long run). "

    This is another red herring.

    You must also believe that the government can force private companies to change distributors because the change would save the company money. Is that correct?

    "identify the actual words in the Constitution that prohibit the individual insurance mandate in specific or the federal regulation of insurance-related commerce in general."

    The Constitution is charter of "negative liberties." In other words, the purpose of the Constitution is to restrict government power. It tells the government what it can't do.

    The founders understood that the nature of government was to keep growing bigger and acquire more and more power.

    The question is not what provision of the constitution restricts government from an individual mandate. The question is what provision allows it.

    You cited the commerce clause. The commerce clause was not meant to be interpreted as the government can step in an regulate "any gainful" activity.

    The commerce clause is much more limited.

    Is the original meaning of the constitution and what the founders believed the barometer we should use for interpreting the constitution or do you believe that case law is the barometer?

    Another issue that seems to be misconstrued here is the rights of the business owner. If you want to stand up on the table during a business meeting and give a speech, you have a right to do that.

    The owners of the business have the right to fire you for doing so. Firing you for speaking out isn't a violation of freedom of speech.

    "It reflects simple misogyny, whether that misogyny takes the crass form of calling an articulate law student a “slut;”"

    Which is worse calling a woman a slut or the C-word?

    "For make-up credit, though, you can look up the definition of “judicial activism” and write it five hundred times."

    Ouch...hand cramp

  93. KStret says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 01:08 AM:

    Spencer,
    "This question was answered. Go back and re-read (several times) the quoted portions of Fluke's testimony and you'll understand why she's protesting Georgetown's policy. "

    You are answering a different question than I asked you.

    In one of her first interviews (when she was falsely reported as being 23) Fluke said that she knew about Georgetown's policy before she attended the University and she was fighting that policy from the beginning.

    The policy does include contraceptive coverage for health issues. Fluke was fighting that policy.

    Why was she fighting a policy that does cover contraception for health issues but not for sexual reasons?

    If Fluke's only concerned with health issues, why is it that she has been protesting Georgetown's policy since she started attending the University when they do cover contraception for health issues?

    If Georgetown does cover contraception for health issues, what does she want covered if she is protesting that policy?

    "Sorry, but there is nothing you said to substantiate this (baseless) claim"

    If I posted a story coming from a republican propaganda web site that meets regularly with top republican party officials, that has a team of lemmings listening to liberal talk shows attempting to find anything they can use to get the hosts kicked off the air, and leaked memos show that they were hiring private investigators to follow and dig up dirt on liberal television network members so they can blackmail them, would you say the same thing?


    "Name one example, if you can. "

    Spencer, the fact that you don't think I can come up with one example of media matters lying, distorting, and taking things out of context shows that you think they they are a credible outfit.

    They were literally planning to dig up with dirt on people at Fox news so they could blackmail them.

    "For someone who "doesn't agree with name-calling," you were very quick to launch an utterly baseless personal attack against Fluke."

    My objections are the equivalent of calling her a slut? Really?

    "When she brought up the $3,000 figure, she was clearly talking about birth control pills prescribed for serious medical conditions"

    Once again, she did not provide a name of a drug or her friend's name. Let's say they need to take double the dose of the pills. That is still 18.00 and the math doesn't work out. Even if you triple it, it doesn't come out.

    Even if you conceded that her "friends" health condition come out to 1000 a year, that comes to 2.73. A sob story for 2.73 a day? A paper route would cover that.

    Cue sad violin music.....

    Spencer, a friend of mine....... This is so hard to say without crying..... A friend of mine was given birth control pills by mistake at a pharmacy.... oh no.... I am breaking up...... he took the birth control pills and now he looks like Meat Loaf in the movie Fight Club.... the tears are falling like rain..... That's why all birth control pills need to be banned.... I need to go...this is too painful to speak of...

  94. KStret says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 01:10 AM:

    "Tex"

    "Yes, they do. Do some research next time."

    If the government has the power to force a private insurance company to provide contraceptives at not cost, the government must also have the power to tell another private company that they must provide a product at no cost too or tell a private company how much they can charge for a product. Once you are in that area there isn't much that the government can't do.

    What provision of the constitution gives the government the power to do this?

    "To answer your question, yes, the government does have that right. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” Neither of the religious clauses of the 1st amendment, Establishment and Free Exercise, are violated."

    Can a private religious institution make their own insurance policy and exclude non essential contraceptives that goes against Church teaching? Either way they have to provide contraception.

    "Providing potentially life saving healthcare to women clearly meets this standard."

    Heart medicine has a cost and I would think heart medicine would be much more important. Wouldn't food be more important than health care?

    Does the government get to flush any part of the Constitution they want down the toilet when they can come up with a compelling interest or does that only apply to the 1st amendment?

    "Personally I think the idea that religious institutions are exempt from laws that infringe on their morality is at best a load of crap, and at worst dangerous and outdated. "

    The 1st amendment of the constitution is outdated? What you suggest we replace that with?

    "Gonzalez v. UDV (2006) says that free exercise cases must meet the “compelling interest” standard, such as preserving the lives of multiple individuals. "

    Is the original meaning of the constitution and what the founders believed the barometer we should use for interpreting the constitution or do you believe that case law is the barometer?

    "If you’re gonna try to insult someone from one of the best schools in the country, at least spell the school’s name right. It’s Georgetown, not George Town. That just wreaks of community college drop out."

    Have I repeatedly spelled the university as "George Town"?

    If Sandra Fluke is the product of the best schools in the country, I think everyone would be better off not dropping a hundred and fifty grand on a education you could get for a dollar fiddy in late fees at the public library.

    I would say the public library would provide a better education.

    Cue sad violin music:

    I had a "friend" who was attending G-Town and their car broke down. The car was a 1976 Gremlin.(Yes I know, it's a sweet ride) The repair costs came to 1500 dollars. My friend couldn't afford it.

    My friend had to drop out of school because he/she couldn't afford to fix the car or get a new one. The last I heard, my friend is a homeless prostitute.

    All of this could have been avoided if G-town didn't discriminate against college commuters. College commuters have been oppressed for far to long.

    They are being denied the basic fundamental right of access to a car mechanic.(Denied access is defined as other people paying for your things.)

    G-Town we implore you to stop this bigoted hateful discrimination and provide free cars or free car mechanics for all students. Please stop the hate.

  95. KStret says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 01:14 AM:

    Rob,
    Santorum clearly stated many times that he is personally against birth control but publicly supports it. He doesn't want to ban birth control or anything like that.

    "More recently, however, his divergence from reality has expanded to include the claim that all forms of contraception are unhealthy. In doing so, he made no comment on either the strain on women's bodies of repeated childbirth, much less the effects on the mental health of both mother and child. Perhaps most important, in the context of global considerations of the future, he ignored the deleterious effects of our ever-increasing world population on the health of the planet."

    When Santorum used the term "unhealthy" he was referring to the moral fabric of society not in a scientific sense. Krauss makes it sound like he is speaking in scientific terms.

    What does Krauss believes we should do about the deleterious effects of our ever-increasing world population on the health of the planet? Do you think he agrees with Guttmacher's ideas?

    Isn't it time we stopped the ignorant people with medieval views from reproducing?

    "Santorum has argued that evolution, the basis of modern biology, has no firm basis in fact"

    Krauss references an article that has a bias.

    Did Santorum argue or say that evolution "has no basis in fact"? No

    Here is what he said:

    “My sense is that intelligent design is a theory, that is an interesting one that personally I see holes in, just as I see holes in evolution,” Santorum said in a May 2011 interview.

    Santorum said in that interview that there are “issues with evolution” that cannot be explained, which are important for students to understand. “What I’ve said and what I said in the [2001] legislation was we should teach the controversy surrounding evolution,” Santorum said. “As far as intelligent design, my sense is it should not be taught.”

    Santorum made a similar point in a 2005 interview with NPR, when he said, “I’m not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom. What we should be teaching are the problems and holes and I think there are legitimate problems and holes in the theory of evolution.”

    But in a March 14, 2002 Washington Times op-ed, Santorum wrote, “Intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.”

    At best the article shows that in 2002 Santorum believed that ID was a legitimate theory and changed his mind by 2005.

    Does believing that ID is a legitimate theory equate to believing that evolution has no basis in fact?

    Do you think that is honest, Rob?

    Are terms that Krauss repeatedly uses like "medieval views" and "ignorant" not insults?

    Should I go on?

    The entire article is an ad hominem attack.

    It doesn't count because you agree with Krauss?

    Special pleading......

  96. Windy says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 06:03 AM:

    KStret:

    I understand your positions, such as they are, except this one: Why do you characterize contraception as “non-essential?” Those are your words, not mine. You have used them repeatedly. Your dismissal of your own words as a “red herring” is revealing, perhaps, but not responsive. I simply would like to know why you think contraception is non-essential, even if you don't think the reasons are important.

  97. BJ says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 08:44 AM:

    KStret,
    You’re unreal. Yes – if you posted a story from a tabloid, it would be a textbook ad hominem fallacy to dismiss every single story in the magazine without reading it – unless I had reliable data that contradicts the claims in the magazine. As Spencer pointed out, the particular article in question was simply quotes from her testimony along with some quotes of right-wing commentators.

    LOL @ you backing up Limbaugh and Hannity. I remember listening to Limbaugh once hanging up on a black woman caller after telling her to “shut up and get that bone out of your nose”. Do you have David Duke’s back as well?

    You made a point about President Obama and I dismissed it as Fox News nonsense. I remember that. I think I said you were smoking the Fox News crackpipe to be exact. Is your point that you can commit ad hominem fallacies as long as I do it as well?

  98. Spencer says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 08:44 AM:

    KStret,

    "You are answering a different question than I asked you."

    Nope. Your question has been addressed - you just don't want to read it.

    "Spencer, the fact that you don't think I can come up with one example of media matters lying, distorting, and taking things out of context shows that you think they they are a credible outfit."

    So name one example already. But even if you could, that changes nothing: it does nothing to undermine the particular article I linked to because (again) it consists mostly of just quotes from conservative critics and Fluke's actual testimony.

    "Once again, she did not provide a name of a drug or her friend's name"

    And this somehow shows she was "clearly lying?" That was your charge, not mine. Once again, the $3,000 figure was about birth control pills prescribed for serious medical conditions, not merely to prevent pregnancy (as you have dishonestly suggested).

    "My objections are the equivalent of calling her a slut? Really?"

    When did I say this? I objected to your baseless accusation that she was "clearly lying," which is is a personal attack. My only purpose in engaging you in this thread at all is to highlight your inability to dialogue honestly.

  99. Pauld says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 09:18 AM:

    Windy: An attempt to describe a particular medical need as essential or non-essential I think is ultimately futile. With respect to Obama-Care I would make two points related to this question.

    First, medical insurance in the United States has long ago ceased to be "insurance" as that concept is typically defined. The term "insurance" when applied to most other areas of life is a method of spreading the risk of catastrophic events such as death (life insurance), major fires (home owners insurance) or car accidents (car insurance). The market for "insurance" products in these areas does not cover routine expected costs. For example, home owners insurance does not cover the cost of fixing a leaky faucet and car insurance does not cover the costs of routine oil changes, even though such repairs/maintenance are absolutely essential.

    Medical "insurance" in today's market typically is a hybrid between traditional insurance that covers catastrophic medical costs and a pre-paid medical plan that covers routine medical expenses. The hybrid nature of medical insurance has arisen because government policy has made medical benefits tax-free. As a result, both employers and employees have an incentive to provide tax-free benefits in lieu of taxable compensation.

    This distortion of the medical market by government policy, however, is the major reasons why medical costs have become out of control in the United States. When a people can receive a routine benefit without paying for it directly, they will naturally consume more of it. So for instance, if a person can receive a brand-name expensive form of contraceptives at no out-of-pocket costs, she may reasonably consume more of this expensive product rather than lower cost substitutes that might have otherwise been preferred, if the costs were paid directly out of pocket.

    In a medical insurance market that is not distorted by government tax policy it is likely that medical "insurance" would more closely resemble other types of insurance products. That is because most people require and are willing to pay for catastrophic medical coverage, but would prefer to perform their own cost/benefit analysis regarding routine expenses that they can afford out-of-pocket. Under the current system, employees tend to receive an expensive pre-paid package in which the cost/benefit analysis of routine medical care is performed, if at all, by the insurance company. Under Obama care, the cost/benefit analysis of routine care will be performed by government bureaucrats.

    If it is not already, it will soon become clear that under Obama care people will not be able to afford medical insurance coverage that includes all possible medical care they need or want. This is evident in Massachusetts where a plan similar to Obama care is causing the costs of medical insurance to sky-rocket far more rapidly than in other states. Massachusetts is attempting to address the problems with price-controls that will simply convert the problem into rationing by shortages and waiting lists.

    My second point is that the question of whether a particular benefit is "essential" or "non-essential" will soon out of necessity become a question of prioritizing medical care that can be afforded. For example, is the cost of providing 1,000 people an extremely expensive liver transplant that might extend their lives by twenty-years a more important priority than providing millions of young women access to contraceptives, or perhaps, a particular form of brand-name contraceptive that they prefer?

    How these questions are answered under Obama care will likely depend on the political clout of the prospective beneficiaries. I have little doubt that young women who would prefer free contraceptives will likely have more political clout than the much smaller group who would prefer timely coverage for liver transplants. I do not want to become bogged down in this particular example. I could use any of a million similar trade-off decisions that will need to be made once the government gets into the business of balancing what can be afforded against what is included in medical plan coverage.

    When one exams the "free" medical care provided by other western nations one finds a recurrent pattern. Routine, inexpensive medical care is provided for well in such plans as this is particularly popular for the vast majority of people who are healthy. Expensive care for sick people, however, is rationed by waiting lists. Many people die or suffer on the waiting list. In short, in such countries the medical "insurance" has upside down priorities from the solution that is preferred in a free-market. Expenses that could reasonably be paid without coverage are provided for well, but expenses for which insurance is typically purchased are provided for poorly. If the government took over the home "insurance" market, one might find that the plan provided quick access to plumbers to fix leaky faucets, but homeowners whose house burned down might have to wait years for it to be rebuilt.

    So this brings us back to the question of whether contraceptive coverage is medically necessary. In the abstract, one can answer reasonably that the answer is yes. In the real world of limited resources, the better question is: "compared to what?"

  100. Windy says on Mar 19, 2012 @ 03:44 PM:

    Pauld:

    I already know that contraception is a vital form of preventive care for women everywhere. I already know that it could not have been lawfully excluded from the regulations under the statutory mandate passed by Congress. Economists have already explained why its inclusion in employee health coverage is cost efficient. I have already rejected as meretricious any argument that free exercise under the First Amendment is even remotely implicated by the manner in which this important preventive care has been included in the regulatory scheme, and certainly not as the regulations are being revised by the Obama Administration largely in response to the concerns of Catholic progressives. I don’t need to hear any more about that stuff. But I would love to hear KStret agree with you that contraception can reasonably be characterized as “medically necessary,” even in the abstract, and that it has been “futile” for him to repeatedly characterize it as “non-essential” all this time. That would definitely help cut the malarkey and propel the discussion toward a satisfying end point.

  101. pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 02:56 AM:

    I can see that these matters are well settled in your mind.

    You seem to have missed the point contained in my first sentence: "An attempt to describe a particular medical need as essential or non essential is ultimately futile". Perhaps my last paragraph could be rewritten with more clarity to state: " In the abstract, one might reasonably argue that just about any medical need is medically necessary. This is the wrong question. In the real world of limited resources the question of medical necessity must always be framed with the question, "compared to what?"

  102. Windy says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 04:42 AM:

    And, now, perhaps KStret can explain why he characterizes contraception as "non-essential."

  103. pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 06:20 AM:

    "And, now, perhaps KStret can explain why he characterizes contraception as "non-essential."

    I don't want to speak for KStret, but one possible reason why he charcerterizes contraception as non-essential is because one can simply refrain from having sex to avoid pregnancy. Or one could simply accept pregnancy as a natural outcome of engaging in sexual relations. Or one could use methods of contraception other than medication.

    Strict Catholics seem live healthy lives while complying with the moral teachings of their church.

  104. Pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 11:53 AM:

    Windy says " I have already rejected as meretricious any argument that free exercise under the First Amendment is even remotely implicated by the manner in which this important preventive care has been included in the regulatory scheme"

    I find your opinion that the contraceptive mandat does not implicate first amendment free-exercise issues to be stated with far more certainty than is plausibly warranted.

    The majority opinion in UC v Smith does have language that supports your position. In was written by Justice Scalia and joined by Justices Rehnquist, White, Stevens and Kennedy. Obviously Rehnquist, White and Stevens are no longer on the Court.

    The case involved the Constitutionality of a state law that banned the use of peyote and did not provide an exception for native Indian religious ceremonial use. As I have previously indicated, the case falls within what I have described as category 1 cases, in which a general law prohibits an act that is permitted or required by a certain religion. This issue, in my view, is entirely different from category 2 cases, which involve laws that compel a person to act in a way that is contrary to his religious beliefs. Category 1 cases have seldom been struck down by the Supreme Court whereas category 2 cases have been struck down on numerous occasions.

    The Smith majority did not recognize this basic distinction and to that extent, it supports your view. The relevant language, however, is dicta, advisory language that was not required to reach the holding of the case. Accordingly, while it is persuasive authority, it is not binding on the U.S. Supreme Court or even lower courts as stare decicis.

    It is also worth noting that while Justice O'Connor agreed with the judgment of the court, she disagreed that the First Amendment was not implicated and argued that the state was required to support the law with a compelling state interests, a burden she thought it had met. She reached this conclusion even though the case involved what I have described as category 1 issues. Justice Blackmun dissented, arguing also that a "compelling state interest" was the appropriate standard of review and that the law in question did not meet that standard. Justices Brennan and Marshall joined O'Connor's opinion in part and Blackmun's opinion in part. Thus, on the critical issue, whether the 1st Amendment was implicated by this category 1 case, the Justices split 5 to 4.

    The Smith decision outraged many in the general public. Many groups came together. Both liberal (like the American Civil Liberties Union) and conservative groups (like the Traditional Values Coalition) as well as other groups such as the Christian Legal Society, the American Jewish Congress, and the National Association of Evangelicals joined forces to support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would reinstate the Sherbert Test, overturning laws if they burden a religion. The act, which was Congress's reaction to the Smith case, passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97 to 3 and was signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

    It is easy to see why the Smith case generated such overwhelming Congressional and public disapproval. The majority opinion in the Smith case takes a very narrow view of the 1st Amendment religious freedom. Under the Smith reasoning, a law could be enacted to require a pharmacist to dispense drugs that chemically induce an abortion over the pharmacist's religious objections. In fact, I believe that there are such cases in the lower courts that have followed the Smith decisions and have upheld such laws. It is a short step to imagine a law that could require ob/gyns to perform elective abortions over religious objections as a condition of their licensure. While you may not agree with the application of the 1st amendment to such circumstances, it is easy to see why Congress overwhelmingly reacted as it did. In my view, the core values of the First Amendment are implicated by such laws.

    The U.S. Supreme Court in yet another highly controversial decision has since held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cannot be applied to strike down state laws. However, it is still very much an open question whether the law could be applied to strike down a federal administrative rule promulgated under the delegation of Congressional powers and very much an open question whether the contraceptive mandate would violate the RFRA.

    Reasonable people can argue about the applicability and effect of the RFRA with respect to the contraceptive mandate. I think you are naïve if you think that the outcome of future litigation under the RFRA is certain. It is worth noting that if the contraceptive mandate is challenged, the plaintiffs will likely choose to file before a district court judge who will be receptive to their arguments and willing to make factual findings to support such arguments that will be binding on appeal.

    No doubt such a case will eventually reach the United States Supreme Court, where the issues will be decided against a backdrop involving an issue of far greater public interests than peyote use by Native Americans. In addition, such litigation clearly will clearly present the questions whether there is a valid Constitutional distinction between category 1 and category 2 cases. Finally, the case will be addressed by a court comprised of many new Justices. I personally would not be surprised to see Justice Scalia modify his position. I also would not be surprised to see other more recently appointed Justices such as Thompson, Roberts and Scalia taking different positions from their predecessors.

    The last point I would make is regardless of the outcome, the U.S. Supreme Court is not infallible on the correct interpretation of the Constitution. It is merely final. In my view, if the Supreme Court gives a green light to the notion that laws can compel persons to act contrary to deeply held religious beliefs, it will have done much to tear the fabric of society and religious accommodations that have allowed people of differing views to live together harmoniously.

  105. Windy says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 12:07 PM:

    Pauld

    Pauld:

    I doubt very much KStret thinks what you suppose. I imagine has read the relevant portions of the report of the Institute of Medicine entitled “Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps (National Academies Prsess 2011), on which the contraceptive-coverage regulations were based. But, in case I’ve underestimated him, here’s a sampling of the expert medical opinion I pulled off the Worldwide Web in the last five minutes:

    As physicians, we know that access to contraception is essential to the health and well-being of our patients.

    * * *

    About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Regular use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancy and reduces the need for abortion. Contraception also allows women to determine the timing and spacing of pregnancies, protecting their health and improving the well-being of their children. Contraceptive use saves money by avoiding the costs of unintended pregnancy and by making pregnancies healthier, saving millions in health care expenses. Several contraceptives also have non-contraceptive health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of certain cancers and treating debilitating menstrual problems. Making contraception more affordable is a significant step forward for the health of women and their families.

    – Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

    Government bodies and private-sector experts have long recognized contraceptive services as a vital and effective component of preventive and public health care. A strong body of research shows that contraceptive use helps women avoid unintended pregnancy and improve birthspacing, resulting in substantial benefits for the health and well-being of infants, women, families and society.

    – Guttmacher Institute

    [A]doption of these recommendations would represent a significant step forward for women’s health, since half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, and unintended pregnancies carry high risks for women and children.

    – New England Journal of Medicine

    “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay you to have sex, we want something. We want you to put the videos online, so we can all watch.”

    – Rush Limbaugh

  106. pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 12:29 PM:

    Windy says: "About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Regular use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancy and reduces the need for abortion."

    The relevant question is not whether the use of contraceptives will reduce unintended pregnancies. The approrpriate question is whether providing free contraceptive coverage under health care plans will reduce unintended pregnancies in a society where contraceptives are already widely available and are already free or nearly free to many people through private insurance, medicaid or private charities such as Planned Parenthood.

    I would suggest that the problem of unintended pregnancies is not caused by health care plans that do not dispense free contraceptives. Other considerations play a much more dominant role.

  107. Windy says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 12:45 PM:

    KStret:

    If you’re still out there and can wade through all these interruptions, I really would like to know why you characterized contraception and/or contraceptive coverage as “non-essential.” Don’t feel obligated, though. For what’s worth, I found your legal arguments much more interesting and relevant than some others.

  108. pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 02:48 PM:

    If you will pardon another interruption.

    Perhaps I am incorrect, but as I skimmed through the comments I was surprised that I did not find any previous mention of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was passed overwhelming by Congress in response to the Smith decision.  I am curious about your analysis.

    It is interesting to note that the possibility of a contraceptive mandate was expresssly presented to Congress in testimony .    Nadine Strossen, president of the ACLU, even warned, as the State News Service reported, that the Smith decision “could force religion-sponsored hospitals to provide abortion or contraception services. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/291310/church-and-rfra-brian-bolduc

    Constitutional lawyer Ed Whalen presents a lengthy analysis of its provisions as applied to the contraceptive mandate, including its application to widget makers here. 
    http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubid.4654/pub_detail.asp

    Mr. Whalen observes:

    "What I do find remarkable—even amazing (to reprise Justice Kagan's term)—is that the HHS mandate appears to be so clearly unlawful. In particular, I can't see how the Obama administration could actually believe that the HHS mandate is compatible with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (The Supreme Court held in City of Boerne v. Flores (1997) that Congress lacked the power to apply RFRA against the states, but the Court recognizes, as its decision in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao de Vegetal (2006) makes clear, that RFRA applies against the federal government.)"

    To forestall an obvious objection I would also note that he observe:

    "RFRA itself provides that a later-enacted federal law is subject to it"unless such law excludes such application by reference to this chapter." In other RFRA bolsters the already-robust presumption against implied repeal by stating that any repeal or override of its protections must be express.  There is nothing in the Obamacare legislation that explicitly over rules it. (Nor is there anything that impliedly does)"

    I am not so much curious to learn why you may disagree with Mr. Whalen.  I am curious as to why you do not think his argument doe not raise serious issues.

  109. pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 03:27 PM:

    I am not sute that my link to the Whalen artcle above works. Try this
    http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubid.4654/pub_detail.asp

    If that does not work google ed whale religious freedom restoration act and it wii be one of the earliest links to appear

  110. pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 03:37 PM:

    Good golly, it is Edward Whelen. That is what i get when I try to post from a smart phone.

  111. windy says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 06:26 PM:

    Pauld:

    We discussed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act about a million posts ago.

  112. pauld says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 06:47 PM:

    Yes now I see that you did provide a very cursory analysis as to why you dont think the act applies. Mr. Whelen provides a much more in depth and I think convincing argument that it does. In paricular he shows that the type of analysis that you provided on the substantial burden requirement is not consistent with case law that applies the test in the context of free exercise cases. I am still curious as to why you think his argument is frivolous.

  113. Anonymous says on Mar 20, 2012 @ 07:09 PM:

    Mr. Whelen responds point by point an analysis set forth by Dorothy Samuels in a NYT's column that seems to me to be similar to your analysis. Here is the link:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/292018/inept-inyti-op-ed-defending-hhs-mandate-part-1-ed-whelan

  114. Windy says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 02:37 AM:

    Pauld and Anonymous:

    I can’t click on the links you provided, so I’m not sure I read the right articles. The National Review articles I did find on my own were short, conclusory, superficial, rather strident in tone, and thoroughly unconvincing. The author did not deal with any decisions involving the specific employer-employee insurance relationship in question, but he seemed to broadly imply that a business owner would be free to disregard the minimum wage or hourly restrictions if he believed it violated Koranic or Sharia principles. The articles I saw did not cite any decisions under the Freedom of Religion Restoration Act that had been applied in the context of employer-employee insurance coverage, and I very much doubt a court would take the generalized arguments seriously. I certainly don’t think the articles established any “substantial” burden on the religious liberty of a “person” very credibly. It might be more helpful for you to cite a law review article of the kind in which top legal scholars express themselves in more depth on legal matters of significance. Prior to the Smith decision, it was common for scholars to refer to “free exercise” jurisprudence as “strict scrutiny in theory but not in practice” because few judges found Yoder readily usable outside the sui generis confines of the Amish community. That was one of the problems that prompted the Smith decision in the first place. Furthermore, the Wikipedia entry I found for an Edward Whelen described a man prone to vicious and very personal Internet wars of a type I would like to avoid, and even though I’m sure I’m anonymous small fry well beneath his notice, I nonetheless think it would be prudent for me to reserve further comment until the regulations have become finally revised and there have been some actual judicial decisions we can talk about. Maybe someone else will want to carry on this discussion with you, but I have nothing to add to my previous comments. My low opinion of the FRRA argument, as things currently stand, remains unchanged.

    And, with that, I really will now object to any more interruptions. The floor is KStret’s, if he chooses to take it, although, thanks to your hijacking efforts, I would not blame him if he didn’t. I don’t intend to read any more comments on this thread other than his. (By the way, KStret, you won me over on the Bill Maher thing. I came across a “joke” of his about Bristol Palin that was ten times worse than anything Rush Limbaugh said, and he actually defended it without apology. I don’t get his program on my TV, so I can’t cancel. Where do I sign the petition?)

  115. pauld says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 03:38 AM:

    Windi:  You are certainly free to ignore my comments and also to reach your own opinions on the contraceptive mandate.  I'll continue to write for others here who may not fully understand that you are presenting the one-sided perspective of a committed partisan.

    I did not gain the same impression of Mr Whelan as you  by reading his wikipedia entry.  I would note that he was graduated from Harvard Law School,  clerked for Judge Clifford Wallace of the ninth circuit and Justice Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court.  He has contined to have a distinguished career, which among things, included serving as general counsel for the Senate Committee on the judiciary. 

    I will note your observation that you were not impressed by Mr. Whelan's argument.  I would note that he described Dorothy Samuels analysis, which is similar to your's, as inept.

  116. Anonymous says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 06:36 AM:

    Windi has presented the position that the contraceptive mandate does not raise any plausible "free-exercise" objections. I have suggested that she has presented the one-sided perspective of a committed partisan. I would like to fully elaborate this assertion with a rather lengthy post.

    Because the U.S. Supreme Court is reluctant to overrule or narrow prior precedent, I think that it is likely that if the court is inclined to strike down the contraceptive mandate, it will do so with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (RFRA). Although the Court has previously ruled that the RFRA cannot be used to strike down state laws, it recently ruled unanimously that the act can be used to challenge federal laws, and by implication, administrative rules.

    As I have previously indicated the RFRA was passed almost unanimously by Congress and signed by President Clinton in response to the public outrage over the narrow reading of the 1st Amendment freedoms set forth in the Smith decision. Testifying in favor of the acts passage, Nadine Strossen, president of the ACLU, even warned that the Smith decision “could force religion-sponsored hospitals to provide abortion or contraception services."

    Windi has argued that the RFRA has no application to the present controversy. Mr. Edward Whelen has provided a different perspective. For the purpose of this post I will lay out Windi's arguments as she has previously expressed them here, followed by Mr. Whelen's arguments.

    Before doing so, I will note that Windi does not think that the arguments made by Mr. Whalen are likely to be persuasive. She is entitled to her opinion, but it is not clear to me why we should rely upon her judgment. By contrast, Ed Whalen is a former law clerk for two well-respected jurists, Clifford Wallace of the 9th Circuit and Justice Antonio Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court, clerkships that are awarded to only to the very best recent law school graduates. I would suggest that he is in a position to know what types of arguments judges are likely to find persuasive. In any event, I will let the readers decide.

    The RFRA has four prongs that must be met to strike down a federal law. The first two are that the law must involve the "free exercise of religion" and place a "substantial burden" on the free-exercise of religion.

    Windi has argued that the contraceptive mandate fails to meet these first two prongs because:

    " To the extent Sherbert was revived by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1992 (which is what you ought to be arguing), the statute applies only where free exercise is “substantially” burdened. The widget owner’s ability to practice her faith is not substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement. She can still go to church, pray as she likes, and believe what she wants. She just has to do what is in the greater public interest when conducting private business affairs that have nothing whatsoever to do with her religion. She is not even financially burdened. Contraceptive coverage more than pays for itself by preventing later medical costs. So, in a competitive market, contraceptive coverage would presumably result in lower premiums and save the employer money. . . Furthermore, there is no economic difference between the employee using a portion of her salary compensation to buy birth control pills and her using the employer-supported insurance portion of her compensation package to buy the same pills. Whether salary or insurance, it’s all a form of payment to the employee for services rendered."

    Mr. Whelen argues:
    "As I have explained, a person engages in an “exercise of religion” under RFRA when, for religious reasons, he performs, or abstains from performing, certain actions. In the text of RFRA itself, Congress cited the landmark Free Exercise cases of Sherbert v. Verner (1963) and Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), which set forth the standard of scrutiny that RFRA restores as a matter of federal statutory law. In Sherbert, an individual’s religious beliefs forbade her from working on Saturdays. In Yoder, the parents of teenaged children had religious beliefs that prohibited them from sending their children to high school. So neither case involved “religious practice or ceremony” or “church governance.” Nor has any RFRA case imposed such a narrow reading of “exercise of religion.”

    Samuels [Windi] seems not to grasp that her apparent recognition that RFRA applies when a person is “force[d] … to use contraceptives in violation of religious belief” reflects the broader principle that RFRA applies any time a person is forced to take any action in violation of that person’s religious belief. (To be clear: In saying that RFRA “applies,” I am maintaining only that RFRA’s standard needs to be satisfied—the point Samuels denies—not that the person’s RFRA challenge will necessarily succeed.) So Samuels [Windi] is flatly wrong to maintain that a person is not engaged in an “exercise of religion” for purposes of RFRA when that person, for religious reasons, refuses to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortifacients."

    Since Mr. Whelen is not replying specifically to Windi, he does not address her argument that:

    " Furthermore, there is no economic difference between the employee using a portion of her salary compensation to buy birth control pills and her using the employer-supported insurance portion of her compensation package to buy the same pills. Whether salary or insurance, it’s all a form of payment to the employee for services rendered."

    This argument, however, is specious. It problem can be illustrated by what I will concede is an obviously outrageous hypothetical. Wendi is by analogy arguing that if an employee uses her compensation to hire a hitman to kill her husband, this is not substantially different from her employer providing her with money to kill her husband as part of a "hitman" employee benefit. There is an obvious distinction between what an employee freely chooses to do with her compensation and what an employer is required by law to pay for.

    Also included in Wendi's argument is that the contraceptive mandate does not substantially burden the exercise of religion because, "[the widget maker] is not even financially burdened. Contraceptive coverage more than pays for itself by preventing later medical costs. "

    This argument misses the relevant point. As Mr. Whelen explains:

    " Let's begin with what the "substantial burden" test means under the pre-Smith regime that RFRA restored statutorily. As the Court made clear in Sherbert v. Verner, the question is not limited to whether a law "directly compel[s]" a person to act contrary to his religious beliefs but extends as well to "indirect" burdens. Adell Sherbert was denied unemployment benefits because she refused to work Saturdays. The state was not directly compelling her to work on Saturdays—or to seek employment at all. Nevertheless, as the Court put it:

    "The [agency] ruling forces her to choose between following the precepts of her religion and forfeiting benefits, on the one hand, and abandoning one of the precepts of her religion in order to accept work, on the other hand. Governmental imposition of such a choice puts the same kind of burden upon the free exercise of religion as would a fine imposed against appellant for her Saturday worship."
    "It is likewise clear that "substantial" is a very low threshold. In Wisconsin v. Yoder, for example, Jonas Yoder and Wallace Miller, the two fathers who refused to send their children to high school, "were fined the sum of $5 each."

    "Employers who violate the HHS mandate, and who thereby fail to provide the coverage HHS deems necessary under Obamacare, incur an annual penalty of roughly $2000 per employee. More precisely, as I understand it, the base penalty is $2000 x (number of full-time employees minus 30), and the base is increased each year by the rate of growth in insurance premiums. So, for example, Belmont Abbey College (one of the two plaintiffs already challenging the HHS mandate), which has 200 full-time employees, is facing an annual base penalty of $340,000. Colorado Christian University (the other plaintiff) has 280 full-time employees and is facing an annual base penalty of $500,000."

    "It's true, of course, that employers who object to the HHS mandate could avoid any fine by shutting down their operations. Likewise, Adell Sherbert could have stayed out of the labor market or worked part-time, and Jonas Yoder and Wallace Miller could have moved their families out of Wisconsin. The availability of that exit option plainly does not negate the "substantial burden" that each is subject to. To apply the Sherbert passage above to the HHS mandate:"

    "The HHS mandate forces Catholic employers to choose between following the precepts of their religion and incurring huge fines, on the one hand, and abandoning one of the precepts of their religion in order to stay in business, on the other hand. Government imposition of such a choice puts the same kind of burden upon the free exercise of religion as would a fine imposed against Catholics for their opposition to contraceptives and abortifacients."

    If the first two prongs of the RFRA are met then the court must proceed to analyze whether the law serves a "compelling interest" and is "narrowly tailored" to serve that compelling interest.

    Wendi argues: " In any case, the government interest in preventive health care is certainly compelling for the reasons stated in Spencer’s excellent post, and the regulation cannot be fashioned in a less restrictive way, short of making compliance with the entire law effectively optional, which is apparently what you envision."

    I am not entirely sure to what Spencer post Wendi is referring, but I think that it is this one:

    "It should also be highlighted that providing contraception relates directly to women's health, not just their ability to engage in sexual activity. If WLC and others actually paid attention to Fluke's testimony, they'd know this."
    "Birth control is directly and undeniably related to women's health. Birth control protects women from the risk of bearing children before they are ready. Birth control helps to ensure that women do not bear too many children or bear children too soon after their last pregnancy. Birth control is used to relieve symptoms of endometriosis, regulate a cycle, reduce acne, relieve symptoms of depression, reduce migraines, treat polycystic ovary condition, alleviate anemia, and even reduce the risk of some cancers."

    Mr. Whelen provides what I think is a more relevant analysis of "compelling" state interests when he writes:

    " The governmental interest that the HHS mandate is asserted to advance is increased access to contraceptives. For purposes of applying RFRA, I readily take for granted the legitimacy of that governmental interest. But there remain the interrelated questions (a) whether that governmental interest is "compelling," and (b) whether imposing the HHS mandate on an objecting employer "is in furtherance" of a compelling interest."

    "According to a June 2010 Guttmacher Institute "fact sheet" on contraceptive use in the United States, "Nine in 10 employer-based insurance plans cover a full range of prescription contraceptives." Further, HHS Secretary Sebelius's announcement acknowledges that even when employers "do not offer coverage of contraceptive services" to their employees, "contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support." Not to mention, of course, the countless pharmacies and doctors who dispense contraceptives. So no one can seriously maintain that there is a general problem of lack of access to contraceptives."

    "In this context, it is difficult to see how the government has a "compelling" interest in marginally increasing access to contraceptives by requiring employers to provide coverage of them in their health-insurance plans. As the Supreme Court stated just last year in an analogous context in the violent video-games case (emphasis added),

    "Even if the sale of violent video games to minors could be deterred further by increasing regulation, the government does not have a compelling interest in each marginal percentage point by which its goals are advanced."

    "Further, the proposition that the governmental interest in marginally increasing access to contraceptives is compelling is severely undercut by the fact that lots of employers have, for purely secular reasons, been exempted from the obligation that the HHS mandate imposes. Specifically, so-called "grandfathered" plans need not comply with the "minimum essential coverage" provisions of Obamacare, including the HHS mandate to cover contraceptives and abortifacients. In July 2010, in the very order in which HHS first set forth its interim final rules for coverage of preventive services under Obamacare (as well as in this contemporaneous HHS publication), HHS projected (as its "mid-range estimate") that 55% of large-employer plans would remain grandfathered in 2013 and that 34% of small-employer plans would remain grandfathered of that year. Large-employer plans accounted for 133 million enrollees, and small-employer plans accounted for 43 million enrollees, so HHS's "mid-range" projections anticipated that roughly 88 million Americans would not be subject to Obamacare's "minimal essential coverage" provisions in 2013."

    "If the government genuinely regarded marginally increased access to contraceptives to be a compelling interest, what possible sense would it make to exempt grandfathered plans from the obligation to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives?"

    "Similarly, under RFRA, how can the "application of the burden to the person"—that is, the application of the HHS mandate to an objecting employer—be deemed to be "in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest" when the government has found it unnecessary to apply the same burden to employers who don't have religious objections to the mandate? In this regard, I'll note that employers who employed fewer than 50 full-time employees during the preceding calendar year are not obligated to make any health-care insurance coverage available to their employees under Obamacare. 26 U.S.C. §4980H(c)(2). Like employers with grandfathered plans, they thus have no obligation to provide insurance that covers contraceptives and abortifacients, and they face no penalty for not doing so. (Unlike with grandfathered plans, if these employers don't provide qualifying insurance, their employees will be channeled into health exchanges, where the HHS mandate will apply.)"

    "It would seem that HHS has a greater interest in punishing religiously based opposition to contraception and abortion than it has in increasing access to contraceptives. And that punitive interest is not legitimate, much less compelling, under RFRA."

    Mr. Whalen further observes that these points could also be used to support a claim HHS mandate is not a neutral and generally applicable law for purposes of Free Exercise analysis under Employment Division v. Smith. I am aware that Jay Sekulow, a conservative Christian lawyer with a very successful tract record of litigating "free exercise" cases before the Supreme Court, has developed this argument in his pleadings already filed to challenge the contraceptive mandate.

    Finally, Windi argues that, " the regulation cannot be fashioned in a less restrictive way, short of making compliance with the entire law effectively optional, which is apparently what you envision."

    Mr. Whalen argues regarding this prong:

    "The governmental interest that the HHS mandate is asserted to advance is increased access to contraceptives. For purposes of applying the "least restrictive means" test, I will take for granted (i.e., assume for the sake of argument) that that governmental interest is compelling and that imposing the HHS mandate on an objecting employer furthers that compelling governmental interest."
    "The question under the "least restrictive means" test is whether imposing the HHS mandate on an employer who has religious objections to providing insurance coverage for contraceptives and/or abortifacients furthers the governmental interest in increasing access to contraceptives via the means that is least restrictive of the religious liberty of the objecting employer. The obvious answer to this question is no."

    "HHS Secretary Sebelius's own announcement of the HHS mandate acknowledges that "contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support." Pharmacies and doctors also provide contraceptive services. An enrollee who has insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients will go to one of these providers to receive the covered services. All that the HHS mandate does is force objecting employers to subsidize these services through the insurance plans they sponsor."

    "One simple alternative means by which the government could increase access to contraceptives is to directly compensate the providers for the services. In other words, an individual would receive the services from a provider for free, and the government would compensate the provider. This means would clearly be less restrictive of the religious liberty of the objecting employer, as the employer would not be required to sponsor an insurance plan that subsidizes services that he has religious objections to. (It is true, of course, that the employer would have an interest as a taxpayer in not subsidizing objectionable services, but the obligation on an individual to pay a general income tax is far less restrictive of his religious liberty than the HHS mandate is.)"

    "There are various other means of increasing access to contraceptives that are less restrictive of religious liberty than the HHS mandate is: for example, direct government provision of contraceptives; mandates on contraceptive providers; and tax credits or deductions or other financial support for contraceptive purchasers. (To be sure, there are plenty of reasons to oppose these alternatives, and I wouldn't support any of them. But the dispositive point under RFRA is that they are available as less restrictive means.)"

    "Because the HHS mandate doesn't satisfy the "least restrictive means" test, it violates RFRA."

    I think that it will be interesting to see how these cases are eventually decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, assuming that the regulations are not rescinded by the next President. I have learned long ago not to make such predictions. I think that it is clear, however, that Windi's claim that the contraceptive mandate does not raise substantial issues of religious freedom is not plausibly warranted.

  117. pauld says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 07:27 AM:

    I see that I neglected to place my nick-name on the above post.

    Also, I have quoted at length two pieces by Mr. Edward Whelen. I think that if one's pastes the the following links in a browser, it will pull up the relevant articles. If not, try googling Mr. Whelen's name along with the titles.

    "Inept NYT Op-Ed Defending HHS Mandate"
    http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/292018/inept-inyti-op-ed-defending-hhs-mandate-part-1-ed-whelan

    "The HHS Contraceptive Mandate vs. the Religious Freedom Restoration Act"
    http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubid.4654/pub_detail.asp

  118. pauld says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 07:44 AM:

    Professor Dwight G. Duncan of UMass School of Law Dartmouth provides the following advice that I think is relevant here:

    "A recent web posting gave "Four Strategies to Think like a Lawyer": "1) Accept ambiguity. 2) Don't be emotionally tied to a position. 3) Argue both sides. 4) Question everything." When it comes to this Administration's contraceptive mandate, I'd recommend skipping its first three strategies and just questioning everything. Judge for yourself."

    http://www.thebostonpilot.com/article2.asp?ID=14364

  119. pauld says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 11:03 AM:

    I will stop "interrupting" the prior discussion with one further post.

    I have addressed the issue of whether there is a plausible argument that the RFRA is violated by the contraceptive mandate above and I think that I have certainly established the plausibility of such a challenge. My other suggestion that the contraceptive mandate violates the "free-exercise" clause of the Constitution, however, has been brushed off by Windi. Although as I have indicated previously, I think that the Courts will likely use the RFRA to invalidate the mandate, if they are so inclined, I would like to examine the Constitutional issues more carefully.

    As Ed Whalen has noted above, the contraceptive mandate contains numerous secular exceptions such as "grandfathered" plans and "small employee" plans. This certainly raises a reasonable challenge that the law is not a neutrally-applied law of general application. This argument has already been raised in the pleading filed by Supreme Court litigator Jay Sekelow.

    If the mandate is not a neutrally applied general law then the holding of the Smith case does not apply, and one can certainly argue that a "strict scrutiny" standard must be used. This is the type of argument that Court's could easily apply to strike down the mandate without expressly overruling Smith. It is an interesting argument and we will have to wait to see how it fairs in the courts.

    I have further made a rather technical argument that the broad holding of the Smith case is dicta, which makes it non-binding under stare decisis as applied to the contraceptive mandate. "Dicta" is a legal term of art that refers to broad language that is contained in a case that was not necessary reach the specific holding of the case.

    In the Smith case, the Court addressed the question whether Oregon could ban the use of peyote without providing a religious exemption for its ceremonial use for Native Americans. The Court could easily have upheld the law simply by noting a long line of cases that have held that general laws cannot be challenged under the "free-exercise" clause when they merely prohibit acts that a specific religion permits or requires.

    For whatever reason, Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, decided to include much broader language that suggested that general laws could not be challenged on "free exercise" grounds when it compels a person to act contrary to a deeply held religious belief. In doing so, he did not specifically overrule prior cases that sustained such challenges, but instead placed a limited interpretation on them.

    Thus, for example, he noted that the challenge brought by the Amish against compulsory education laws did not simply involve religious freedom, but also involved a fundamental privacy right of parents to direct the education of their children. Likewise, he noted that cases that struck down laws applied to compel Jehovah Witnesses to say the Pledge did not simply involve their religious freedom. They also implicated cases under the free speech clause that have struck down laws compelling speech. What is critical to note, however, is that Justice Scalia could have reached the exact same holding without writing the broader language. In short, the broad language is "dicta".

    This type of highly technical reading of case law is not typically persuasive unless the Supreme Court has decided that it wants to revisit a prior ruling without technically overruling it. Accordingly, it is not likely to be persuasive in lower court rulings. Such hair-splitting is, however, used on occasion by the Supreme Court to explain its reconsideration of prior rulings.

    The question thus presented is "are their reasons to think that the U.S. Supreme Court may want to revist the Smith case ruling?" I certainly think that there are plausible reasons to suggest that this might be the case.

    First, I have noted that the majority analysis in Smith that the "peyote" case did not implicate "free exercise" issues split the Court closely. On this issue the decision was 5-4. The close split occurred even though the law merely prohibited what Native American religion permitted.

    Second, I have noted that the composition of the Court has changed significantly since the Smith decisions. In particular, Justices Thompson, Alito and Roberts, all Roman Catholic by the way, have joined the court.

    Third, I have suggesed that the Court may want to reconsider the ruling in a case with much broader public ramification than the cerimonial use of peyote.

    Fourth, I have noted that the decision was met with public outrage and resulted in a stunning, nearly unanimous Congressional rebuke with the passage of the RFRA that sought by statute to revive prior case law. The Act was supported from a broad range of the political spectrum including the liberal ACLU.

    I have suggested a number of reasons why the extraordinarily narrow understanding of the Free Exercise clause endorsed by the Smith case provoked such outrage. Many distinguished lawyers have contributed other criticisms.

    For example, Richard Epstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago, has observed:

    "The use of this neutrality test is a wholly inaccurate reading of the First Amendment Religion Clauses that pays no need to the structure of either the Free Exercise or Establishment Clauses. It has been widely attacked from all sides of the political spectrum for the grotesque interference with religious liberty that it imposes. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is but one indication of the bad odor that has attached to Smith from the day that it came down. There is good reason to think that its wings have been clipped since Hosanna-Tabor, and good reason as well to think that an explicit mandate that a religious organization perform what it regards as immoral actions, or else forfeit all federal moneys—collected in part from its members—is distinguishable from a decision that denied unemployment benefits to someone who used peyote in religious settings."

    As an example of the problems that Smith could hypothetically create, Professor Epstein notes:

    "if the United States decided to order all people to mix meat with milk for health reasons, it could enforce that rule on all citizens including those who follow Kosher or other dietary regimes that forbid that conduct. There is no effort to weigh the impact on the group against the putative public gain."

    He further quotes from Justice Robert's unanimous decision in the recent case, Hosanna-Tabor:

    "It is true that the ADA’s prohibition on retaliation, like Oregon’s prohibition on peyote use [in Smith], is a valid and neutral law of general applicability. But a church’s selection of its ministers is unlike an individual’s ingestion of peyote. Smith involved government regulation of only outward physical acts. The present case, in contrast, concerns government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself. . . . The contention that Smith forecloses recognition of a ministerial exception rooted in the Religion Clauses has no merit."

    Finally, Mr. Epstein observes about Hosana-Tabor, "No one should rely on Smith after it has received this explicit dust off. Smith is on the way out, and not a moment too soon."

    So I would conclude that there are very plausible reasons to be believe that a direct Constitutional challenge to the contraceptive mandate could be successful.

  120. KStret says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 06:00 PM:

    BJ,
    "You’re unreal. Yes – if you posted a story from a tabloid, it would be a textbook ad hominem fallacy to dismiss every single story in the magazine without reading it – unless I had reliable data that contradicts the claims in the magazine. As Spencer pointed out, the particular article in question was simply quotes from her testimony along with some quotes of right-wing commentators."

    You are missing my point. If you know someone who is a compulsive liar, you are not going to believe a word that person says. Not believing a person because they are a compulsive lair, is not an ad hominem fallacy.

    Media matters is a propaganda web site. They are left wing activists. They take quotes out of context and lie all the time. They coordinate with the DNC and White House. They wanted to blackmail people at Fox news. They pay people to listen to conservative talk shows and wait for the host to say anything they can use to get them kicked off of the air. They attack advertisers for conservative shows. That is what media matters does. You can not even say that Media matters is a web site with a liberal slant.

    "LOL @ you backing up Limbaugh and Hannity. I remember listening to Limbaugh once hanging up on a black woman caller after telling her to “shut up and get that bone out of your nose”. Do you have David Duke’s back as well?

    BJ, do you realize that you accused me of making an ad hominem fallacy and you just turned around and made an ad hominem fallacy?

    You also validated my point that you are special pleading. It is perfectly fine for you to dismiss points because they are coming from Hannity and Limbaugh but it's not ok for me.

    As for the Rush quote: You directly heard him say that and didn't pull the quote from a left wing website that came from a book?

    That wasn't one of the fake quotes that the media was throwing around when he was going to buy the Rams with a group of investors was it?

    BJ, you don't live in America do you?

    "You made a point about President Obama and I dismissed it as Fox News nonsense. I remember that. I think I said you were smoking the Fox News crackpipe to be exact. Is your point that you can commit ad hominem fallacies as long as I do it as well?"

    My point was that it was demonstrably false to say you would take an article I posted seriously that came from Hannity, Rush or any other conservative source.

    In other words, you post an article and I have to take that article seriously. If I post an article you will either ignore it or dismiss it because it comes from a conservative source and that is fine.

    If I do comment on the article and it is full of misleading points, you will just disappear like you did when you accused me of being on the Fox news crack pipe or when you couldn't answer a question about your own position on abortion.

    Are you, Spencer, or Rob going to disavow the Krauss article?

    Where did Rob go by the way?

  121. KStret says on Mar 21, 2012 @ 06:06 PM:

    Spencer,
    "Nope. Your question has been addressed - you just don't want to read it. "

    My question was not about her fake testimony. You answered a question about her testimony. It is false to say that you answered my question.

    Fluke was the past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. What is that group's agenda? They want insurance coverage for abortions, contraceptives for sexual reasons, and apparently for sex change operations.

    You are not answering the question deliberately because if you answer the question, it forces you to concede that Fluke believes that contraception for sexual purposes as well as abortions and sex change operations should be mandated coverage too.

    Once that point is conceded, let's look at what she said.

    First, which proves my point:
    "“I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. "
    ......... "Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown’s insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy"

    If Georgetown does provide contraceptive coverage for health reasons but doesn't provide contraceptives for sexual reasons, her points were not just referring to health issues.

    Secondly:

    “I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. And just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously-affiliated hospitals and institutions and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens."

    "“We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women."

    It's also important to note that when liberals refer to "woman's healthcare needs" it isn't referring to only actual health issues. When Fluke said, "meet the critical health care needs" that means abortions and contraceptives for sex.

    “And especially in the last week, I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear yet from another woman from Georgetown or from another school or who works for a religiously-affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage.
    “And so, I’m here today to share their voices, and I want to thank you for allowing them – not me – to be heard.
    “Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy."

    Notice she is not talking about serious health issues. She is speaking generally when she cited the 3000 figure.

    40% of Georgetown's female students have serious health issues that require them to take contraceptives? I think women should stay away from the drinking water at Georgetown.

    "“One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.
    “Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice."

    Dis she stipulate that these women have serious Health problems? No.

    “And some might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that’s just not true."

    Target sells birth control pills for 9.00. Target is also 3 miles away. What she said simply isn't true.

    "So name one example already. But even if you could, that changes nothing: it does nothing to undermine the particular article I linked to because (again) it consists mostly of just quotes from conservative critics and Fluke's actual testimony."

    Name one example but even if I do it doesn't count?

    They had a story on their web site that Bill O'Reilly was critical of President Obama over the gas prices but was not critical of President Bush. They posted a video of O'Reilly but edited out a portion were he was being critical of President Bush about the cost of gas.

    I don't know if you remember this or even heard of the story but a crazy guy took hostages at the Discovery channel. The insane man believed that the discovery channel wasn't doing enough to push the environmental agenda.

    A conservative talk show started joking around pointing out that if the crazy guy cited conservative reasons for his actions it would be all over the media and the left would be blaming conservatives for the man's actions.

    They were joking and said it was Al Gore's fault. They clearly said that the reason the man did what he did was because he was insane. They said that several times.

    Media Matters edited the segment and just had the clip where they blamed Al Gore. What was even more ridiculous is they predicted Media Matters would do that in the segment.

    After a few days of making fun of media matters in a clear example of how dishonest the organization is, MMFA quietly pulled the clip off their web page without a retraction.

    A conservative was interviewing a pastor and made a joke. He asked the pastor if Obama was the anti-Christ. The tone of voice and the way the question was asked made it clear that it was a joke. Media matters runs a story as if they were being serious.

    There are about 3 billion examples of this because that is all media matters does.

    "When did I say this? I objected to your baseless accusation that she was "clearly lying," which is is a personal attack."

    You accused me of making a personal attack. I believe calling someone a slut would be a personal attack. Having a personal opinion that someone is lying and giving the reasoning behind it is not a baseless personal attack.

    1. George Stephanopoulos asks a bizarre question about contraception to the republican that came out of left field.
    2. A month later the Obama administration attempts to force religious institutions to provide contractions.
    3. Fluke is rolled out.

    How does Fluke make her way to Pelosi's publicity stunt?

    Can you cite another example of the President of the United States calling someone who was insulted by a talk show host?

    Guess whose PR firm is representing Fluke for free? The firm of former Obama communications director Anita Dunn. She is the one who said Mao was one of her favorite political philosophers

    Guess who Fluke's boyfriend is? The son of Democratic money man William Mutterperl,

    This whole issue is manufactured and is a canard.

    The government has the right to dictate to private religious organizations and private insurance companies that they must provide contraceptives at not cost because a women might have to pay 2.73 a day in extra costs. Who wouldn't take that seriously?

  122. Windy says on Mar 22, 2012 @ 04:52 AM:

    KStret:

    Welcome back. I’ve missed your style and sense of humor. I wanted to let you know, if you don’t already, that legal briefs on the commerce-clause question are available online at the Supreme Court website. The first argument – which melds the commerce clause with the necessary and proper clause – is likely to be particularly important, since it appeals to a position previously taken by Justice Scalia in an earlier concurring opinion. As I read the Justice Department brief, it is heavily oriented to constitutional text and facts, rather than to precedent, so I thought an originalist would find it interesting. Enjoy.

  123. Pauld says on Mar 22, 2012 @ 08:18 AM:

    As I previously indicated the Smith decision was decided by a closely divided court. Although it is always risky to try to predict how Justices will vote, the following link provides an interesting analysis of Justice's Kagan's view of the Smith case based on positions she took within the Clinton adminstration. It is particularly significant because Kagan replaced Stevens who voted with the majority in the Smith case. http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2010/0623_kagan_rogers.aspx

    Here are two key paragraphs:

    "In the document dumps from the presidential library of Bill Clinton, there’s some suggestion that Elena Kagan thinks about these issues differently. If Kagan is elevated to the Supreme Court, and she does part ways with Justices Scalia and Stevens on these matters, it could mark the first time a critic of the 1990 Smith decision and its weak reading of the Free Exercise Clause replaces a supporter of that decision. This would move the Court closer to reinvigorating the Free Exercise Clause, and thus closer to providing additional protection for the peaceful practice of all faiths."

    "The Kagan nomination has not drawn much attention thus far, in part because it is assumed that she will vote in largely in the same way Justice Stevens has. But this may be one of those cases in which the substitution of Kagan for Stevens could result in a qualitatively different vote. If this flip does occur, it would move the Court closer to a substantive change in the interpretation of a fundamental constitutional right. In other words, after two decades in which there has essentially been a free-exercise stand-still at the Court, the Kagan nomination could get things moving again."

  124. BJ says on Mar 22, 2012 @ 08:35 AM:

    KStret,

    1. I get your point and your pencil needs to be sharpened. We’re not talking about a person, we’re talking about a magazine publication. You can’t just dismiss every single article by every single writer as a lie without reading it. I challenge you to go find any error in that media matter article – I won’t hold my breath.

    2. Where in the world did I make an ad hominem fallacy? What point did I dismiss because they came from Hannity and Limbaugh?

    3. I heard a clip of Limbaugh making that bone-in-the-nose comment, and I’ve heard him make similar comments basically every day. His program was always on before the SF Giants games in the 90’s. Do you actually listen to him or do you just blindly back him and every other right wing pundit?

    4. If you posted an article from a right-wing site I’d read it and find a problem with it before dismissing it. Not everyone is as close-minded as you, sir.

    5. You’re telling me I disappeared and yet we’re here exchanging words. I told you you were smoking the Fox News crackpipe and then you went on a rant about Van Jones being a communist -- am I supposed to spend an hour of my time trying to convince you that he's not? It's pretty clear your mind is made up.

    I answered all of your questions on my abortion position. Heres your partern: you ask questions, I answer, then you keep repeating the question over and over. I got sick of it. You answer my question and tell me why you’re not out bombing abortion clinics if you really think innocent children are being murdered.

  125. Windy says on Mar 22, 2012 @ 09:15 AM:

    KStret:

    I agree with BJ. Media Matters can be strident sometimes, but the article that was linked merely listed quotations from Limbaugh's own mouth to show that he didn't just use two unfortunate words for which he later apologized. He really was trying to demonize and really did say some extremely disgusting things over and over and over. That doesn't excuse anyone else's excesses (except maybe mine), but it is a fair point of criticism.

  126. KStret says on Mar 22, 2012 @ 05:58 PM:

    Windy,
    "I agree with BJ. Media Matters can be strident sometimes, but the article that was linked merely listed quotations from Limbaugh's own mouth to show that he didn't just use two unfortunate words for which he later apologized. '

    Media Matters is not strident. They take quotes all the time and dishonestly turn them into meaning something that that the person did not mean. When they do this, it is not a mistake. They do it on purpose.

    Secondly, they literally wanted to find information on people at Fox news to blackmail them. They want to shut down Fox news.

    Third, they target advertisers of conservative shows and attempt to get companies to drop their commercials.

    Their intent is to get the host fired and make it look like it was a grass roots movement instead of an orchestrated attack. In other words, they are not really big fans of free speech or a credible organization.

    I commented on Rob's article and what happened with that?


    Rob, BJ, and Spencer might as well say, "What article....Rob didn't post an article"

    The hypocrisy is laughable...

  127. KStret says on Mar 22, 2012 @ 06:00 PM:

    BJ,
    "I get your point and your pencil needs to be sharpened. We’re not talking about a person, we’re talking about a magazine publication. You can’t just dismiss every single article by every single writer as a lie without reading it."

    Obviously, you do not understand my point or understand what media matters is. It is not a liberal publication. It is not a web site that features liberal commentators.

    "I challenge you to go find any error in that media matter article – I won’t hold my breath."
    You don't think that media matters has any errors on it? That comment says it all.

    Here are a few examples that I posted in response to Spencer:

    They had a story on their web site that Bill O'Reilly was critical of President Obama over the gas prices but was not critical of President Bush. They posted a video of O'Reilly but edited out a portion were he was being critical of President Bush about the cost of gas.

    I don't know if you remember this or even heard of the story but a crazy guy took hostages at the Discovery channel. The insane man believed that the discovery channel wasn't doing enough to push the environmental agenda.

    A conservative talk show started joking around pointing out that if the crazy guy cited conservative reasons for his actions it would be all over the media and the left would be blaming conservatives for the man's actions.

    They were joking and said it was Al Gore's fault. They clearly said that the reason the man did what he did was because he was insane. They said that several times.

    Media Matters edited the segment and just had the clip where they blamed Al Gore. What was even more ridiculous is they predicted Media Matters would do that in the segment.

    After a few days of making fun of media matters in a clear example of how dishonest the organization is, MMFA quietly pulled the clip off their web page without a retraction.

    A conservative was interviewing a pastor and made a joke. He asked the pastor if Obama was the anti-Christ. The tone of voice and the way the question was asked made it clear that it was a joke. Media matters runs a story as if they were being serious.

    There are about 3 billion examples of this because that is all media matters does.

    "Where in the world did I make an ad hominem fallacy? What point did I dismiss because they came from Hannity and Limbaugh?"

    ""LOL @ you backing up Limbaugh and Hannity. I remember listening to Limbaugh once hanging up on a black woman caller after telling her to “shut up and get that bone out of your nose”. Do you have David Duke’s back as well?"

    You also verified that you dismissed my points by saying that I was on "the Fox News crack pipe."

    "I heard a clip of Limbaugh making that bone-in-the-nose comment, and I’ve heard him make similar comments basically every day. His program was always on before the SF Giants games in the 90’s. Do you actually listen to him or do you just blindly back him and every other right wing pundit?"

    You do not live in the United States, do you?

    The quote you are referring to came from a book that came out when Rush was going to buy the Rams. Before the deal was completed there were a bunch of fake quotes attributed to him that he did not say.

    Also, the "bone in the nose" quote has several different dates. One says he said that when he was starting out in the 1970's, another has the quote from the 1980s, and yet another has the quote coming from the 90s.

    All of the web sites that have that quote are far left and they do not cite a date of the program.

    If Rush did that that the audio clip would be all over the internet and they could site the show date. Why are they not doing that?

    "If you posted an article from a right-wing site I’d read it and find a problem with it before dismissing it. Not everyone is as close-minded as you, sir."

    That is why you dismissed my comments as coming from someone who was on the Fox news crack pipe? That is why you said, " LOL @ you backing up Limbaugh and Hannity."

    When I provided evidence to back up my opinion that included direct quotes coming directly from President Obama, what did you do? Did you say maybe I should look into that?

    You could not respond because you just assumed that what I was saying came from Fox news and because of that it has to be wrong. You disappeared and popped back up later to call me dishonest etc.

    "then you went on a rant about Van Jones being a communist -- am I supposed to spend an hour of my time trying to convince you that he's not?"

    Jones told the East Bay Express in 2005:

    "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th [1992], and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist.... I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.'"

    Van Jones organization called STORM was about communism. STORM is an acronym for Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement. STORM's own literature describes it as a "Maoist" organization. What do you think a Revolutionary Movement means, BJ?

    I provided you with a quote that comes directly from Van Jones. He is a self described communist. He started a communist organization.

    You just proved my point again. You dismissed that Van Jones is a communist. Why? because you think it comes from FOX news.

    However, it is clear that you know absolutely nothing about it. You made up your mind before you even looked into the issue.

    Wouldn't that be the text book definition of an ad hominem fallacy? Why is that perfectly fine for you to dismiss points but that doesn't apply to me?

    Can you provide me with a quote from Jones that disavows communism?

    I can give you another quote that comes directly from Jones that states he figured out that STROM's rhetoric was too radical and he needed to change the language but keep the goals the same.

    He also said:

    "I'm willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends...."

    "I answered all of your questions on my abortion position. Heres your partern: you ask questions, I answer, then you keep repeating the question over and over."

    Really? In the abortion debate, your position is that abortion is permissible until two months. You agreed that it doesn't make sense if a mother gets an abortion that is permissible for her but if a father stops the pregnancy it's murder.

    If a women is one month pregnant and the father puts something into her drink that causes a miscarriage, what should happen to the father?

    Your position is that you answered that question? If that is the case you should have no problem repeating your answer.

    What was your answer to my question?

    "You answer my question and tell me why you’re not out bombing abortion clinics if you really think innocent children are being murdered."

    My response to that was that you should also be out bombing abortion clinics because you stated that you think that an abortion after 2 months is murder. A large number of abortions happen after 2 months.

    That position dictates you should agree with me more than you do with the rest of the leftist house atheists. Yet, for some reason you agree with them more than you agree with me.

    If fact, you clearly stated you had absolutely no problem with the historical fact that abortion was part of the eugenics movement. It wasn't about women's rights, it was about stopping the less evolved women from reproducing. You had no problem with that.

    As for why I am not personally out bombing abortion clinics. Here are some thoughts:

    Wouldn't murder be wrong, BJ? Isn't there a commandment about that in the bible? You are a Christian, right?

    If you bombed an abortion clinic, is that going to stop all abortions?

    If you bombed an abortion clinic would that give the pro -abortion advocates ammunition against an anti-abortion position?

    Wouldn't that be a tad hypocritical to say that murder babies is wrong but it's permissible to murder people who work in an abortion clinics?

    Are there a large group of people out there who have been brainwashed into believing that abortion is a right and that there is an inanimate object with a heart beat growing in the womb until the baby is born?

    If there is a large group of people who have been brainwashed wouldn't the issue belong in the battlefield of ideas?

    Why aren't you out bombing abortion clinics?

    PS : I didn't see your response to my question about the Krauss article. Will you disavow the article that Rob posted that was clearly dishonest?

  128. Windy says on Mar 23, 2012 @ 05:42 AM:

    Before I bow out of this discussion, I would like to thank everyone for a lively and fun (most of the time) exchange. I particularly admire BJ, Spencer and Rob for being consistent voices of decency and good sense. And love the way KStret, though wrong about everything from the standpoint of God’s objective truth, nonetheless expresses himself with verve, tenacity, a willingness to take a joke, and the ability to give as good as he gets. I remain as convinced as ever that the real issue here is not about the First Amendment but about a simple regard for essential women’s health. Each new Republican initiative against women only confirms that, and I fear for our future when a law student cannot speak at a public event without being subjected to the kind of disparaging and insulting treatment, both gross and subtle, that originally prompted this thread.

    Since my brief observations on legal matters early in the discussion drew so much intense scrutiny from one late arrival, I will try, in the next couple days, to make one last post about the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Anyone bored by that stuff (which I suspect is everyone) is warned not to read it, or at least start with a glass of wine. But just to be clear about who’s a “committed partisan” around here, I note that I was the one who originally brought up the RFRA (dozens of posts ago) and for the specific purpose of assisting an opponent of the regulations better frame a discussion for which he seemed to be struggling for the right words. I like to win arguments as much as anyone else, but not by taking unfair advantage. And I also try to respect it when the discussion has moved on to topics of greater general interest and other people are trying to exchange ideas, even though I still have something to say that is really, really so much more important.

    And finally, folks, for the last time, my name is “Windy” (not “Wendy” or “Windi”). It comes from the immortal Sixties song that goes: “And Windy has storm-y eyes/That flash at the sound of lies.” For WLC to call a 30-year-old law student a “girl” while denying her the dignity of a name is bad enough. But to repeatedly garble the greatest name of all time is truly an unpardonable sin.

  129. pauld says on Mar 23, 2012 @ 08:08 AM:

    Windy: I look forward to your comments. In the meantime here are some additional thoughts to consider.

    It is interesting to review the prior writings and decisions of Justices to for hints on how they might rule in future cases. It does not always lead to accurate predictions. I have begun such an undertaking and so far my preliminary results have been interesting. I think that those who would like to see the contraceptive mandate overturned under the FRRA and the 1st Amendment have good reasons to be optimistic.

    The most interesting writings are those of Justice Kagan. She replaced Justice Stevens who voted with the majority in the Smith case. A letter in document dump from the Clinton administration provides indications that she would be particularly sensitive to the free exercise issues raised by the contraceptive mandate.

    Most significantly, she wrote a letter urging the Clinton administration to intervene to support a writ of certiorari on appeal from the California Supreme Court involving religious freedom. The writ involved a Christian landlord who was found to have violated state anti-discrimination laws when she refused for religious reasons to rent to an unmarried heterosexual couple. The California court found that she had failed to establish a "substantial burden" under the RFRA because “the landlords religion d[id] not require her to rent apartments, nor is investment in rental units the only available income-producing use of her capital.”

    Kagan wrote a letter describing this analysis as "quite outrageous" and urged the Justice Department to intervene on the landlord's behalf. She referenced an amicus brief that argued, "that the California Supreme Court had read the substantial burden requirement in a cramped and confused way, one that was “inconsistent with the language, intent and legislative history” of RFRA. In would note that the case involved a private individual challenging a general economic law, who would actually accrue economic gains by complying with the anti-discrimination law.

    Justice Alito while an appellate court judge wrote an opinion involving policemen challenged on free-exercise grounds a department regulation that required policemen be clean shaven. Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark, 170 F.3d 359 (3rd Cir. 1999). The regulation had a secular health exemption that the department argued was required by the American's with Disabilities Act, but not a religious exemption. Then Judge Alito ruled that because of the health exemption, the regulation was not a uniformly applied general regulation and therefore the Smith decision did not apply. Using a strict scrutiny analysis he struck down the law on 1st Amendment free exercise grounds. Justice Alito's interpretation of Smith leaves it an empty shell as nearly all laws contains some exceptions, including the contraceptive mandate, which exempts millions of people covered by grandfathered health plans and small-employee health plans.

    Justice Ginzburg prior writings and decisions do not provide clear clues, but she did testify at length on free-exercise issues shortly after the RFRA was passed overwhelmingly by Congress. In its summary of her testimony, the Senate Judiciary Committee praised her views on free-exercise issues, noting her “understanding of the values of religious pluralism and tolerance” and “her approval of the idea that government must accommodate religious practice in the absence of ‘special circumstances’—an idea directly in conflict with the Smith analysis. Assessing Judge Ginsburg’s testimony and her appellate court opinions, the committee concluded that Judge Ginsburg “shows sensitivity to the problem at the core of Smith and of modern free exercise clause doctrine—the problem of adjusting government action on religious practice in a pluralistic society.”

    For what it is worth, Justice Thomas's at his confirmation hearing was pressed hard by Senator Biden to acknowledge that the Smith case was wrongly decided. He responded with this answer:

    JUDGE THOMAS: "Senator, I think, as I indicated in prior testimony here, that when the Sherbert test was abandoned or moved away from in the Smith case, I think that any of us who were concerned about this area, because as we indicate, I think we all value our religious freedoms. And I think that there was a proper and appropriate reason for concern. And I did note, then, that Justice O’Connor, in applying the traditional test reached the same result. I cannot express a preference. I’ve not thought through those particular approaches. But I, myself, would be concerned that we did move away from an approach that has been used for the past, I guess, several decades."

    Lastly, it is worth noting that in the just decided Hosanna-Tabor case, a unanimous Supreme Court applied to RFRA to disallow a claim of retaliatory discharge against a religious school. The facts of the case are striking as the school had admitting firing a teacher because she threatened to file an ADA lawsuit rather than use internal church grievance procedures.

    In disallowing the retaliatory discharge claim, Chief Justice Roberts noted:

    ""It is true that the ADA’s prohibition on retaliation, like Oregon’s prohibition on peyote use [in Smith], is a valid and neutral law of general applicability. But a church’s selection of its ministers is unlike an individual’s ingestion of peyote. Smith involved government regulation of only outward physical acts. The present case, in contrast, concerns government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself. . . . The contention that Smith forecloses recognition of a ministerial exception rooted in the Religion Clauses has no merit."

    The distinction that Chief Justice Robert's makes is ambiguous as the school's decision did have the outward effect of removing a teacher from her job. Although I think he may be reading too much into the case, Professor Epstein from the University of Chicago's School of Law, observed of the case, ""No one should rely on Smith after it has received this explicit dust off. Smith is on the way out, and not a moment too soon."

  130. BJ says on Mar 23, 2012 @ 12:22 PM:

    KStret,
    1. Your absurdities continue . I asked you to find an error in the specific media matters article that Spencer posted with respect to Ms. Fluke’s testimony. You then go off attacking media matter’s generally credibility. That’s not what I asked. I’m sorry you didn’t/couldn’t/refuse to follow my very simple request.

    2. Me bringing up Limbaugh’s bone in the nose comment is not an ad hominem fallacy. It would only be an ad hominem fallacy is I said that something else he said was false because of him making the bone in the nose comment. You don’t appear to know what an ad hominem fallacy is.

    3. Saying that you’re on the Fox News crack pipe is not necessarily a dismissal of your point. The crackpipe metaphor is meant to articulate one’s extreme reliance on a product – in your case, Fox News’ talking points. It doesn’t mean that their points are false prima facie.

    4. I live in Jackson, MS. Would you like to know my street address as well? Are you trying to send me a birthday cake or something?

    6. I heard a clip of the bone-in-the-nose comment, sir. Keep lying to yourself if you’d like, but the fact is If I had a dime for every time he’s been rude and disrespectful to black callers, I’d have enough to put at least a quarter tank of gasoline in my car. If you have any decency you’ll stop defending that guy.

    7. I concede that Jones was admittedly a self-described communist for a short time. In the same East Bay Express article you cite, Jones went onto say that he came to realize that the communist movement was getting away from the changes he was seeking to implement. Have you read the Green Collar Economy? Page after page of pro-business, pro-entrepreneur talk. But of course you haven’t read it. You’re not going to read it. You’ve proven time and time again that you’re not interested in getting at the truth of these matters.

    8. If a father puts an abortificant into a pregnant womans drink, I don’t think he should be charged with murder. He should be charged with poisoning the drink and endangering the life of the woman. In any case, one typically needs to take 1 dosage of the abortion pill and another dosage the next day, in order for it to work properly.

    9. I changed my position. I don’t think abortion after 2 months is murder. I think abortion after two months is a gray that should be avoided. And that’s precisely what is happening with the advancement of the process – over 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester.

    10. If you kill a person who is in the act of murdering another person, that’s not murder. That’s defending an innocent person. If you saw a toddler being mercilessly beaten by an adult in the street, you would run and try to do something to break it up. Yet, that’s precisely what you believe is happening with abortions and you don’t believe using physical means to stop it is right.

    You are not being consistent sir. You don’t really believe innocent children are being murdered during abortions.

    11. I didn’t read the Krauss article, but I have no problem disavowing it if I felt that something in it was inadequate. I don’t just blindly back every single person on the left, like you do on the right.

  131. BJ says on Mar 23, 2012 @ 12:26 PM:

    Windy,

    Thank you for your legal insight and sophisticated humor. Out of curiousity, what would a man be charged with who puts slips an abortion pill into a pregnant woman's drink?

    KStret keeps asking me this.

  132. Spencer says on Mar 23, 2012 @ 12:53 PM:

    KStret,

    Sandra Fluke's Testimony

    "My question was not about her fake testimony. You answered a question about her testimony. It is false to say that you answered my question."

    It is not false in any way. Previously, you asked: "why has she been protesting Georgetown's contraception policy when she said that "technically" Georgetown's policy does cover contraceptives for health problems?" I then quoted and bolded the portions of her testimony where she explains her objections to Georgetown's policy, thus answering your question. Stop pretending otherwise.

    Let's also get one thing clear about Fluke's testimony: it was not about paying people to have sex (as many have dishonestly suggested). Contraception coverage for those with serious medical conditions (e.g. ovarian cysts) is obviously not connected to sex at all, and in cases where contraception is used as contraception, at most, what is being paid for is the means of avoiding pregnancy. Neither is the same thing as paying people to have sex.

    Regarding the $3,000 figure, again, Fluke was clearly talking about contraception for those with serious medical conditions.
    The figure was meant to illustrate how expensive contraception "can" be, not how expensive it generally is, and it makes perfect sense that those with serious medical conditions would require really expensive contraception. The upshot is that Fluke wasn't lying at all about her $3,000 figure: birth control can be that expensive, as you now seem to recognize. Will you retract your claim that Fluke was "clearly lying" about the $3,000 figure? No, you won't, because facts don't seem to matter to you.

    "Target sells birth control pills for 9.00. Target is also 3 miles away. What she said simply isn't true."

    Maybe you can try reading the whole paragraph for a change?
    From her testimony:

    -------------------
    You might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Women’s health clinics provide vital medical services, but as the Guttmacher Institute has documented, clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing and women are being forced to go without. How can Congress consider the Fortenberry, Rubio, and Blunt legislation that would allow even more employers and institutions to refuse contraceptive coverage and then respond that the non-profit clinics should step up to take care of the resulting medical crisis, particularly when so many legislators are attempting to defund those very same clinics?
    ----------------

    In other words, Fluke provided support for her claim that contraception is not always easily accessible for women in low wage jobs without contraceptive coverage. Nothing you wrote refutes her claim or her claim that her friend (with polycystic ovarian syndrome) needed to pay $100 per month for prescription birth control. Was Fluke "clearly lying" about the cost, as you dishonestly suggested? Quite the opposite -- she was clearly telling the truth, and since you know this, you've been trying (unsuccessfully) to divert attention from your accusation by changing the subject.

    Media Matters

    "Name one example but even if I do it doesn't count?"

    How long will you ignore my responses? The media Matters article I linked to -- "Did Anyone In Conservative Media Actually Read Or Listen To Sandra Fluke's Testimony?" -- consists of mostly just quotes from conservative commentators followed by Fluke's actual testimony. Can you point to a single instance of dishonesty in that article? Yes or no? (Of course, you won't answer this question).

    Regarding your examples of dishonesty, they are truly laughable. I wonder why you didn't to post the links so people can more easily search what you're talking about.

    1. "They had a story on their web site that Bill O'Reilly was critical of President Obama over the gas prices but was not critical of President Bush. They posted a video of O'Reilly but edited out a portion were he was being critical of President Bush about the cost of gas."

    I believe you're talking about this article: http://mediamatters.org/blog/201203050007

    The article simply pointed out that although Fox News recently blamed Obama for rising gasoline prices, back in 2008, it said that "no President has the power to increase or to lower gas prices." The article had absolutely nothing to do with Bush, so the charge of "dishonest editing" is utterly baseless.

    2. "They were joking and said it was Al Gore's fault. They clearly said that the reason the man did what he did was because he was insane. They said that several times."

    Are you talking about this article? http://mediamatters.org/research/201009020021 I see nothing dishonest about the reporting here. Can you point to the specific portion of the article you object to?

    "After a few days of making fun of media matters in a clear example of how dishonest the organization is, MMFA quietly pulled the clip off their web page without a retraction."

    What clip are you talking about? Why not post the clip here?

    3. "A conservative was interviewing a pastor and made a joke. He asked the pastor if Obama was the anti-Christ. The tone of voice and the way the question was asked made it clear that it was a joke. Media matters runs a story as if they were being serious."

    Are you talking about this article here? http://mediamatters.org/research/200803050008?f=s_search

    I really have no idea why you find article dishonest. Be specific. What portion of the article do you object to?

  133. Spencer says on Mar 23, 2012 @ 01:06 PM:

    KStret seems to be under the impression that generic birth control pills are sufficient for all women's needs, which is why he keeps referencing the $9 dollar figure.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/birth-control-cost_n_1334520.html

  134. Windy says on Mar 23, 2012 @ 06:56 PM:

    BJ:

    Criminal law differs from state to state. What you described sounds like maybe assault or attempted assault against the woman, but I really don't know. Maybe Pauld does.

    My opus is currently 1,180 words long. Does anyone know if that will be accepted? Divided into parts?

  135. Windy says on Mar 25, 2012 @ 05:24 AM:

    And now my promised treatise. Take a deep breath, gang. It looks as if your friend Windy may be in for a roasting in The National Review, alongside The New York Times, so words must be chosen with great (if boring) precision.

    Since my post has turned out to be pretty long, I will present it in three parts: a short introduction that will serve the general reader, and then a more specific discussion for the hard-core addict, and then some closing observations about what is really at stake here. If you’ve heard enough already then, by all means, skip the whole thing. There are a lot more interesting comments on this thread than mine.

    With respect to the First Amendment, UCLA law professor Adam Winkler has said it all: “One thing I think is crystal clear — there is no First Amendment violation by this law.” Much as I admire the brilliant Richard Epstein’s unique take on almost everything, he has said nothing to change my mind about this. I’m plain folks. I go by precedent, not by head counts, speculation or tea leaves. The decision in Employment Division v. Smith rings strong and true. Just read it, friends. It’s clear and cogent and written in Justice Scalia’s signature blend of impeccable scholarship (at least when he’s accurately communicating objective cosmic truth) and fire and brimstone. The Supreme Court would lose institutional credibility if it tried to zig and zag very far from its excellent analysis. So, for me, the First Amendment is simply a non-issue and deserves no more attention.

    The statutory argument based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is, as I said before, more interesting, but remains very unpersuasive. (Bear in mind this argument applies only to the private employers who we have been referring to as “widget makers.” It does not address religious institutions (churches, etc.), religious affiliates (universities, hospitals, etc.) or self-insured religious institutions and affiliates.) The issue turns primarily on the meaning of the phrase “substantial burden on the exercise of religion.” Opponents of contraceptive coverage appear to assume that such a burden is self-evidently presented here. I do not see it all. The first page of the U.S. Justice Department’s website has a link to the briefs and memoranda filed to date in Affordable Care Act cases. If people scroll to the table of contents, they can locate the sections that discuss the RFRA. Those materials are more complete and better informed than anything I could say in this humble venue. Go by them, not by me. As time goes on, the analysis will surely be supplemented. But for anyone whose hunger remains unsatisfied, a more detailed discussion of the RFRA will follow anon.

  136. Windy says on Mar 25, 2012 @ 06:07 AM:

    Now I will turn to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I certainly agree with opponents of contraceptive coverage that this is where the action is legal-wise. But I think they have skirted the most important part of the analysis. In my inexpert and doubtlessly inept view, the fatal weakness in their argument is simple: the RFRA does not apply to every law that merely conflicts with a social actor’s religious opinions. It states that the federal government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” unless that burden meets certain (admittedly high) standards. Those words can easily be applied when the government tries to coerce someone to say things he does not believe. They can be applied fairly easily when the government tries to control the substances consumed during church services. But I do not think they can plausibly be read so generously as to award every private employer – who voluntarily enters the marketplace knowing full well he may become subject to all kinds of regulation with which he morally disagrees – nearly carte blanche to disregard every employer-employee obligation that offends his religiously-inflected conscience or his church’s doctrinal teachings. The words “substantial” and “burden” are obviously subject to construction on a case-by-case basis, and while I lack the resources to do an exhaustive review of the existing case law (unless some sugar daddy will spring for some Westlaw time), it seems reasonable to presume that the “substantially” of a “burden” on a person’s “exercise of religion” diminishes dramatically the further one gets from a recognizable religious setting (such as an employee not wanting to work on a religious holiday (Sherbert v. Verner) or a person using certain substances in a religious ceremony (Gonzales v. O Centro)) and moves into a purely economic one involving secular employer-employee relations (especially when one as obviously good for society as comprehensive employee health coverage defined in terms of the medical profession’s expert concept of preventive medicine).

    In Wisconsin v. Yoder (which is mentioned in the RFRA), the plaintiffs were Amish people who were deliberately trying to separate themselves from society and going to extraordinary lengths to do so (even limiting their children’s public education). The plaintiff in Sherbert (which is also mentioned in the statute) wanted no more than equal respect for one faith’s Sabbath day. But those settings are a far cry from the owner of a chain of pizza restaurants who morally objects to working-poor mothers having insurance available through their employment to cover birth control pills essential for comprehensive preventive care (after all, sweetie, it’s so cheap, you get tips, and you can keep your legs together, anyway!). That sort of social actor is deliberately immersing himself in the secular commercial world, greedily seizing all its publicly-subsidized advantages, but then demanding to disregard any rules of the economic game he doesn’t like and play by his church’s rules instead. I don’t think that is the law, and I certainly don’t think it necessarily has to be the law. Re-imagine the issue with a Muslim owner demanding a right to comply with labor and other economic regulations only to the extent they are consistent with the superceding moral imperatives of his beloved Sharia law. Or the pieties of a white-racist Aryan Church. Or the notions of an Eastern sect that believes only in insurance for medicinal meditation. Or the convictions of a recent convert to a obscure Christian sect that conveniently opposes all medicine entirely.

    There has to be a stopping point that doesn’t open up all religious doctrine to judicial review on grounds of comparative insanity, and this bright line looks good to me: River Jordan deep but narrow; make a joyful noise inside your church, choose your own ministers, and conduct your own prayer life as you please. But know that the land outside is planted thick with laws – man’s laws, not God’s, as Sir Thomas More would say – and your morals don’t give you license to hack down every one from which Congress lacked the political courage to enact an express exemption from the RFRA.

    If that basic conclusion is correct, then piling up enough factual distinctions to distinguish this situation from others would devolve into the game lawyers play to make their clients think they’re getting their money’s worth. But, in this particular setting, the economics of the situation weigh heavily against the idea that there is a substantial burden on the exercise of a person’s religion. In the first place, the person isn’t church; he’s in business. The bottom line is Mammon, not religious practice. In the second place, gimme a break: what non-ridiculous religious doctrine holds that there is a morally important difference between an employer’s contribution to salary compensation and his contribution to benefit compensation? A restaurant owner who hands a paycheck to the hat-check woman who then says “Great! I’m having an orgy tonight and I need this money for birth control pills!” is headed for Perdition just as surely one who quietly contributes to comprehensive preventive care coverage. And he doesn’t even have to know about the sins. When the employer meets his Maker, I doubt he’s going to get away with saying that he was shocked, shocked to find any of those sweet little girls were buying birth control pills with the wages he so innocently paid them. The connection between contraceptive coverage and religion – already tenuous to the breaking point – becomes disingenuous.

    Moreover, economists tell us that contraceptive coverage does not even cost the employer money. It saves money because this prudent preventive care more than pays for itself in reduced payouts for unplanned pregnancies and their complications. What is being “forced” upon the conscience of the employer, then, should not be characterized as a burden but a benefit (lower premiums), and, if that’s the problem, I have a solution: The employer can compute the amount of his tainted benefits and send me a check every week in return for my personal guarantee of full absolution in the hereafter. Just kidding, of course. Once a month would be fine.

    Since there is no significant burden on the exercise of religion, merely an economic regulation with which a religious entity has a disagreement, the rest of the statutory test doesn’t matter. But I don’t think there’s much question that there is a compelling interest in promoting preventive care, defined as essential by the medical community, through comprehensive employer-based health insurance. I know of no authority for the proposition that an interest in a social goal is less than compelling if a regulation contains caveats or grandfather clauses or could conceivably be advanced in a different way. Really, folks, how many life-threatening complications from a preventable series of unplanned pregnancies does it take to hit the “compelling” mark? The tailoring part is admittedly harder but not insurmountable. One reason I think the Supreme Court gave the Smith decision the sweep it did is that the “least restrictive” analysis was unsatisfying, and the cases had been coming out every which way for years. If we get to that stage again, I suspect enthusiasm for a strict construction of the RFRA (carried into law by a wave of abject pandering to begin with, in my opinion) will wane. History is full of popular laws, passed in haste, that were later regretted.

    And, finally, who cares? If the “opt out” arrangement being worked out for religious affiliates is creates whatever additional separation between the employer and the coverage that might be deemed necessary to eliminate a burden on religion, then the same thing could be done for the supposedly conscience-ridden private employers. Big deal.

  137. Windy says on Mar 25, 2012 @ 06:29 AM:

    But the real issue here isn’t about law, is it? The podcast doesn’t carefully analyze precedent or statutory texts, does it? It is just another installment in the right wing’s relentless war against the reproductive rights of women, and another example of the lengths its devotees will go to disparage, belittle and demean anyone who dares to oppose their cause with factual information. If you think Sandra Fluke could have been clearer about upper-limit cost estimates versus average cost estimates, fine, just say that. But she’s no liar, she’s no fraud, and she’s no threat to respectable public discourse. And there was nothing untoward about the Democratic policy caucus turning the tables on those empty-headed House Republicans who couldn’t manage to hold a simple politically-motivated “hearing” for the cameras without making themselves look like misogynist clods.

    If some of my prose flashes purple, well, that’s just my way. It’s a color I wear proudly here. I think that religious exuberance lacks much that is useful in the way of factual relevance to the way the world is, but it is enjoyable, even beneficial, for many people. I say give it total freedom in its sphere. The point, though, is that social deference to church influence has to end pretty damn close to churchyard gate. For the everybody’s sake. The one I worry about is not the hell-bound believer who was “forced” to look the other way when access to birth control pills, which he knows full well his employees buy anyway, becomes included in the already heavily-regulated scheme of employer-employee relations. I worry about the working mom with four kids, trying told hold together a marriage with a hot-tempered husband who’s always in and out of jail. In a financial pinch, what is she more likely to do: scrimp on contraceptives she pays for out of pocket or scrimp on contraceptives covered by her insurance? That’s the part of the social contract I care about. She is our neighbor and her health comes first.

    Woof. Now I need that glass of wine.

  138. KStret says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 01:02 AM:

    BJ,
    " Your absurdities continue . I asked you to find an error in the specific media matters article that Spencer posted with respect to Ms. Fluke’s testimony"

    I found error in Rob's article and what happened with that? What article? Rob posted an article? Where? Rob has been in here defending the Krauss article hasn't he?

    If you allow me a ADD moment:

    Krauss was calling anyone who is a republican stupid. If you are going to smear someone would it be smart or stupid to post the references?

    If I waste my time and refute the article, what you are guys going to do? Pretended that there was no article.

    On top of that, you have clearly shown that if I did the exact same thing it is permissible for you to dismiss it and/or ignore it.

    I know what media matters is and it's not credible in any way.

    "Saying that you’re on the Fox News crack pipe is not necessarily a dismissal of your point"

    You dismissed my point because you believed I was on the Fox news crack pipe. You brought up Van Jones as evidence of this accusation. In other words, there is no evidence that Van Jones is a communist.

    It is clear that you knew absolutely nothing about the issue and dismissed that Jones was a self admitted communists because you believed the information came from Fox news. In other words, If it comes from Fox news, I must be smoking crack to believe it.(You usually spell it as Faux news don't you?)

    You dismissed something you didn't know anything about because you don't like Fox news but that isn't committing an ad hominem fallacy?

    It is not an ad hominem fallacy because you are doing it.

    "I concede that Jones was admittedly a self-described communist for a short time.....Jones went onto say that he came to realize that the communist movement was getting away from the changes he was seeking to implement."

    Did you read the article? He started his own communist organization and it lasted ten years. Is ten years a short time? If I was in a relationship with someone for ten years would you say it would accurately describe the relationship as brief?

    Do you think that I don't read the articles that I post and quote from? He never disavowed communism in that article. It said he disavowed Black nationalism but not communism. It also said he changed from black nationalism to communism.

    If you look at the organizations he founded such as Police Watch and the Ella Baker Center they didn't change any of their ideas.

    A women who helped start the EBC went on to join an organization that came from the Communists party USA called CCDS where I believe she is still a board member.

    She also sits on the board of Movement for a Democratic Society with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Hey that's weird.... it must be a coincidence

    ""I realized that there are a lot of people who are capitalists -- shudder, shudder -- who are really committed to fairly significant change in the economy"

    What does "shudder, shudder" mean? It means he is not a capitalist and doesn't like capitalism. If he doesn't like capitalism what economic system do you think he supports?

    "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th," he said. "By August, I was a communist."

    In 1994, the young activists formed a socialist collective, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, which held study groups on the theories of Marx and Lenin and dreamed of a multiracial socialist utopia. They protested police brutality and got arrested for crashing through police barricades. In 1996, Jones decided to launch his own operation, which he named the Ella Baker Center after an unsung hero of the civil-rights movement. Jones wedged a desk and a chair inside a large closet in the back of Paterson's office. He brought in his home computer and ran cables through the rafters to get the operation humming.

    "Eva was really my saving grace," said Jones. "She understood that I was a little rowdy and difficult to deal with, but she tried to find a way for me to fit into her system. She finally figured out that wasn't going to work, and then she went way beyond the call of duty helping me start my own thing."

    Paterson was surprised by the number of tattooed individuals suddenly passing through her office, but she didn't interfere. "He didn't need a lot of coaching; he just needed a place where he could have a desk and a phone, and a little infrastructure support," she said. She did give him one piece of advice. "I think I counseled him to be diplomatic," Paterson said. "I tried to convince him that you could be passionate, but you didn't have to talk about your opponent's mother. That you could be very, very committed and say what you had to say so that people listened."

    He realized that the language and rhetoric was repelling people so he incorporated progressive tactics. He put on a suit and used different language. He did not change his agenda or political ideology.

    ""Have you read the Green Collar Economy? Page after page of pro-business, pro-entrepreneur talk."

    Does the green collar economy involving giving billions of dollars of tax payer money to green corporations that have made large contributions to a certain party or candidate who are attempting to come up with green energy that is not economically or technologically feasible? That is not capitalism.

    If someone gave me 500 million dollars as an investment to my company, I would have to really work hard to get rid if that money and go bankrupt within a year.

    Do you know why they refer to the green movement as a water melon?

    "I'm willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.."

    What does the radical ends look like? Green on the outside and red on the inside.

    What does eco-equity mean?

    If you also notice in the quote where he shudders at capitalisms he realized that most people are capitalist.

    Selling communist cereal with a communist label wasn't working. He changed the label on the package but kept the cereal the same.

    "But of course you haven’t read it. You’re not going to read it. You’ve proven time and time again that you’re not interested in getting at the truth of these matters."

    You dismissed the points I made because you thought they came from Fox news and then conceded that you were wrong. You stated that Jones disavowed communism after a short period of time and that wasn't true either. Now you are accusing me of not being interested in the truth?

    Do you realize I could post a conservative book as a counter argument, ask you if you read it, and say the exact same thing? That is fine for you and not for me. You are special pleading.


    "If a father puts an abortificant into a pregnant womans drink, I don’t think he should be charged with murder. He should be charged with poisoning the drink and endangering the life of the woman. In any case, one typically needs to take 1 dosage of the abortion pill and another dosage the next day, in order for it to work properly."

    If you recall, in the hypothetical example I stipulated that the substance he was putting in her drinking would cause no harm to the women at all.

    If the substance he put in her drink caused no harm to the women, your position would be that nothing should happen to the father of the child?

    "I changed my position. I don’t think abortion after 2 months is murder. I think abortion after two months is a gray that should be avoided. And that’s precisely what is happening with the advancement of the process – over 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester."

    In other words, to get around the problem you changed you position.

    When do you think that an abortion becomes murder now? What is your new time frame?

    Why is it a gray area?

    Do gray areas have heart beats, brains, brain waves, hands, legs, toes, and fingers?

    Maybe it's a gray area because when a womens pregnant, you never know what's going to come out. You could get a soda can or a play station instead of a baby.

    Where would you be today, if your parents thought that you were a gray area and decided to remove an inanimate mass of cells from your mother's body?

    "If you kill a person who is in the act of murdering another person, that’s not murder. That’s defending an innocent person. If you saw a toddler being mercilessly beaten by an adult in the street, you would run and try to do something to break it up. Yet, that’s precisely what you believe is happening with abortions and you don’t believe using physical means to stop it is right......You are not being consistent sir. You don’t really believe innocent children are being murdered during abortions."

    Why are you not blowing up late term abortion clinics, BJ? Is that a grey area too?

    Let me save some time. The only way you are getting out of your own example not applying to you is to take the position that an entire pregnancy is a gray area and it is permissible to get an abortion for 9 months. Would you like to take that position?

    "I heard a clip of the bone-in-the-nose comment, sir."

    Really, sir? That is weird because that quote comes from a book. Left wing web sites use the quote but never cite the radio show or the book they took the quote from.

    Here is the problem: the book the moonbats take the quote from says that Rush told a listener to take the bone out of her nose the 1970s and he wasn't using the name Rush at the time. He was using the name Jeff Christie.

    Apparently this may or may not have taken place in Pittsburgh and they are not sure which radio station it was.
    No one actually heard him say that. He admitted saying that in a Newsweek article that they don't have a date from either.

    I wouldn't want to accuse you of be dishonest here.Are you sure you didn't here Jeff Christie say that in the early 1970s instead of Rush say that in the 90s?

    I am sure you would accept the exact same high journalistic standard to back up a point I was making.

    Special pleading is the fallacy.

  139. KStret says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 01:02 AM:

    Spencer,
    I can cut and paste too:

    My question was not about her fake testimony. You answered a question about her testimony. It is false to say that you answered my question.

    Fluke was the past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. What is that group's agenda? They want insurance coverage for abortions, contraceptives for sexual reasons, and apparently for sex change operations.

    You are not answering the question deliberately because if you answer the question, it forces you to concede that Fluke believes that contraception for sexual purposes as well as abortions and sex change operations should be mandated coverage too.

    Once that point is conceded, let's look at what she said.

    First, which proves my point:
    "“I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. "
    ......... "Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown’s insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy"

    If Georgetown does provide contraceptive coverage for health reasons but doesn't provide contraceptives for sexual reasons, her points were not just referring to health issues.

    Secondly:

    “I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. And just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously-affiliated hospitals and institutions and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens."

    "“We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women."

    It's also important to note that when liberals refer to "woman's healthcare needs" it isn't referring to only actual health issues. When Fluke said, "meet the critical health care needs" that means abortions and contraceptives for sex.

    “And especially in the last week, I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear yet from another woman from Georgetown or from another school or who works for a religiously-affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage.
    “And so, I’m here today to share their voices, and I want to thank you for allowing them – not me – to be heard.
    “Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy."

    Notice she is not talking about serious health issues. She is speaking generally when she cited the 3000 figure.

    40% of Georgetown's female students have serious health issues that require them to take contraceptives? I think women should stay away from the drinking water at Georgetown.

    "“One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.
    “Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice."

    Dis she stipulate that these women have serious Health problems? No.

    “And some might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that’s just not true."

    Target sells birth control pills for 9.00. Target is also 3 miles away. What she said simply isn't true.

    1. George Stephanopoulos asks a bizarre question about contraception to the republican that came out of left field.
    2. A month later the Obama administration attempts to force religious institutions to provide contractions.
    3. Fluke is rolled out.

    How does Fluke make her way to Pelosi's publicity stunt?

    Can you cite another example of the President of the United States calling someone who was insulted by a talk show host?

    Guess whose PR firm is representing Fluke for free? The firm of former Obama communications director Anita Dunn. She is the one who said Mao was one of her favorite political philosophers

    Guess who Fluke's boyfriend is? The son of Democratic money man William Mutterperl,

    This whole issue is manufactured and is a canard.

    The government has the right to dictate to private religious organizations and private insurance companies that they must provide contraceptives at not cost because a women might have to pay 2.73 a day in extra costs. Who wouldn't take that seriously?

  140. KStret says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 01:04 AM:

    Spencer,
    "that’s not true. Women’s health clinics provide vital medical services, but as the Guttmacher Institute has documented, clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing and women are being forced to go without."

    Do you mean the same Guttmacher Institute that was founded by Eugenicist Alan Guttmacher and is now the research arm for planned parenthood?

    Is that how you classify her supporting her position?

    Did anyone ask her for the study or check it out?

    They might want to do that because Guttmacher was recently claiming that 98% of catholics use contraception based on a well research statistical study that they concocted. The problem is that the study was flawed. Some might argue deliberately.

    What clinics are shutting down? How much of a demand?

    She can say whatever she wants and no one is going to check it out. You are assuming what she said is true.

    " How can Congress consider the Fortenberry, Rubio, and Blunt legislation that would allow even more employers and institutions to refuse contraceptive coverage and then respond that the non-profit clinics should step up to take care of the resulting medical crisis, particularly when so many legislators are attempting to defund those very same clinics?"

    As far as I know the Blunt legislation would keep the rules the same. If the rules are the same it would not allow more employers and institutions to refuse contraceptive coverage. It would stay the same.

    Legislators are attempting to defund clinics. Do you know what Planned Parenthood did to get the attention from Legislators? Check with media matters...

    Someone is pointing out the hypocrisy of the media. Their point is when a crazy guy who might be a conservative kills some one it's Fox news and talk radios fault but when a liberal does the same thing, you here crickets.

    A guy with major mental problems holds hostages because of environmental issues. If they applied the exact same standard it should be Al Gore's fault.

    Is it honest or dishonest to deliberately misstate and distort the conservative position as blaming Al Gore?

    They were not blaming Al Gore but pointing out the hypocrisy of the media.

    Was MMFA pointing out all the misinformation and ridiculous claims every left wing pundit was making when Gabrielle Giffords shot by a crazy guy who wasn't a conservative and didn't listen to talk radio, were they silent, or did they back the democrats up by taking one minute sound bites and distorting them?

    "The article simply pointed out that although Fox News recently blamed Obama for rising gasoline prices, back in 2008, it said that "no President has the power to increase or to lower gas prices." The article had absolutely nothing to do with Bush, so the charge of "dishonest editing" is utterly baseless"

    Would editing out a clip from the very same segment they used from the B O'R show that said the republicans let the oil companies do whatever they want in 08 be honest or dishonest?

    Are the conditions the same with the rise in the price of gasoline in 08 and today? No

    Did presidents Obama and Bush do the exact same things? No.

    The cost of oil is pegged to the dollar. When the United States government starts printing money it makes the cost of oil go up. The government is currently printing a lot money. Bush did start printing money but it was toward the end of his presidency.

    That is one factor that has an impact on the price of oil.

    "What clip are you talking about? Why not post the clip here?"

    How can I post a clip if they yanked it from their web cite?

    When the headline reads that Glenn beck seriously asked Hagee if Obama is the Anti-Christ or they edit a clip from a talk show to make it look like they were blaming Al Gore and they pull it after being made fun of, would you like me to pick you up in my time machine and show you the web site?

  141. KStret says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 01:05 AM:

    The government added the Catholic church to a list of potential money launderers.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2012/03/08/u-s-adds-the-vatican-to-its-money-laundering-concern-list/

    Guess what happened after that?

    JP Morgan Chase has announced that they are closing the Vatican’s bank accounts because of concerns over money-laundering

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/19/vatican-bank-idUSL6E8EJ1F920120319?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563

    How much stimulus cash did JP Morgan Chase receive?

    I'm sure it's all just a strange coincidence. Nothing to see here...

  142. pauld says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 02:43 AM:

    I decided to respond on this thread to some of the posts that I had read that suggested that there were no legitimate free-exercise issues raised by the contraceptive mandate. I think this is plainly wrong. I think that it is true that how one views the religious liberty arguments depends a great deal on one’s fundamental paradigms or worldview. For that reason, I would be cautious about making predictions either way of how these issues will be resolved in the courts. However, I continue to believe that the religious liberty arguments are strong.

    When the initial debate started, many analysts simply assumed that the contraceptive mandate was a neutrally-applied, general law that would be analyzed under the Smith decision. It is now clear from the pleading being filed that this position is being challenged head on. The lawsuits filed have alleged that millions of people of not covered by the contraceptive mandate for purely secular reasons that included discretionary administrative waivers, small-employee exclusions and grandfathered plan exclusions. The position that the Smith case does not control under such circumstances can be argued based on the reasoning written by then Judge Alito in Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark, 170 F.3d 359 (3rd Cir. 1999), a case I previously described.

    The application of the RFRA and the Ist Amendment analysis can result in endless back and forth arguments. For those who are interested in an analysis that would support the position that the contraceptive mandate violates the RFRA and the 1st amendment I would suggest reading two cases in particular. The first is SMITH v. FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING COMMISSION, 913 P.2d 909 (Cal. 1996) found here http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16497406734417202598. This case as I previously mentioned addressed whether California’s anti-discrimination housing law violated the religious freedom of a landlord who declined to rent to a non-married heterosexual couple. The majority held that the law did not substantially burden the landloard’s religious freedom, but that was the analysis that Kagan, then a Clinton attorney, described as ‘quite outrageous.” The dissent by contrast provide an excellent analysis of how the RFRA applied that I think is quite relevant to the contraceptive mandate and which apparently more closely reflects the views of Justice Kagan.

    The second case that is worth taking a look at is an extensive and well-reasoned district court opinion that recently struck down a Washington state law that required pharmacists to dispense the morning-after and week-after abortion inducing drugs without providing a religious exemption. Opinion here: STORMANS INC. v SELECKY ,http://www.wawd.uscourts.gov/documents/HomePageAnnouncements/C07-5374%20Opinion.pdf The law was struck down on purely 1st amendment free exercise grounds. The Court found that the Smith precedent did not apply, following Alito’s analysis in the FOP case. The court’s analysis of “substantial burden” and “compelling interests” are very analogous to the types of arguments that I would anticipate in the contraceptive mandate cases.

  143. Spencer says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 05:31 AM:

    KStret


    "My question was not about her fake testimony. You answered a question about her testimony. It is false to say that you answered my question."


    LOL. I quoted the very question you asked, then provided the exact portions of the text which answered it. So it is not at all false to say that your answer has been answered. Nice try trying to change the subject. I won't discuss the substance of Fluke's testimony until we resolve the "clearly lying" issue, which is what you seem to want to avoid. Was Fluke "clearly lying" about the cost? On the contrary. It's simply an empirical fact that birth control can be very expensive, especially when used to treat serious health conditions (e.g. ovarian cysts). Will you acknowledge this? Yes or no? (No, of course you won't.)

    Media Matters

    How long will you ignore my responses? The Media Matters article I linked to -- "Did Anyone In Conservative Media Actually Read Or Listen To Sandra Fluke's Testimony?" -- consists of mostly just quotes from conservative commentators followed by Fluke's actual testimony. Can you point to a single instance of dishonesty in that article? Yes or no? (Of course, you won't answer this question). As for the other Media Matters articles, I will refrain from commenting further until we've resolved this issue, because it is so transparently obvious that you want to change the subject at this point.

  144. robaylesbury says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 06:29 AM:

    I've just caught up with this thread. It appears to be entering a level of technical discourse well above my pay grade, and I think Pauld and Windy are doing a sterling job of articulating each other's viewpoints. Well done to BJ, Spencer for continuing the fight against inanity. You have so much more patience than I. I keep all responses deliberately taut in the forlorn hope that this might get the message across.

    Just think guys, if you had a national health service you would have so much more free time. Or you could have found something else to argue about.

    Its spring here in the UK. There's this strange yellow thing in the sky and its giving off heat. I'm going to stand underneath it now.

  145. pauld says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 10:14 AM:

    I appreciate robaylesbury observation that an analysis of religious liberty issues raised by the contraceptive mandate is very technical and likely goes over the head of everyone who does not have a sophisticated background in U.S. law. Even my head spins when I read some of the back and forth debate between various experts.

    Some of the nuances in the debate are illustrated well by the views of Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame Law School. Professor Bradley was actually one of my law professors before he went to Notre Dame and he is a professor for whom I have utmost respect and fondness. He is opposed to the contraceptive mandate, but thinks that it would be unfortunate if Affordable Health Care Act were repealed in its entirety by the political process or by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case presently being argued before it.

    Professor Bradley is an "orginalist" who believes that the Unemployment Commision v. Smith case was correctly decided. In his view of the original understanding of the free-exercise clause did not allow for religious exemptions from laws except in narrow circumstances. Even among "originalists", however, Professor Bradley's views are controversial. For example, Michael McConnell, a former federal court appellate judge and now a Stanford law professor, has examined the same issues of original intent and has reached an opposite conclusion regarding the correctness of the Smith decision.

    Even with Professor Bradley it is interested to note while some might want to cite his originalists view of the free exercise clause, his originalists views on the "establishment" clause are far out of the mainstream of modern Constitutional law. If they were adopted by a majority of Court, as Justice Thomas has advocated, the resulting howls of protest would make the outcry against the Smith decision seem quaint in comparison. If proponents of the contraceptive mandate attempt to pick and choose "originalists" views, I am sure their cafeteria-style method of Constitutional analysis will be duly noted.

    Although Professor Bradley's views on the free-exercise might preclude a constitutional challenge the contraceptive mandate, he does support striking the mandate under the RFRA. He recognizes that the contraceptive mandate presents profound problems for his employer. He has observed that Notre Dame University could not claim any of the proposed HHS exemptions and argues forcefully that:

    “No Catholic apostolate could buy into and make available to its employees a plan which covers contraception. Doing so would cause scandal, and doing so would obscure the clear and faithful witness to the faith which every apostolate must bear."

    His view is certainly shared by Notre Dame Universiy's trustees. Accordingly, it is hard for me to see how the contraceptive mandate would not be a "substantial burden" on Notre Dame University's religious mission.

    I personally think that the debate whether the contraceptive mandate is consistent with the RFRA will turn on the issue of whether the mandate is supported by a "compelling state interests". If one states the issues at a high level abstraction, most people might agree that the interests of protecting women's health and reproductive freedom is a compelling interests. If the U.S. courts uphold the mandate, they will frame the issue accordingly.

    On the other hand, the opponents of the mandate will force courts to look at the details of the law. It excludes tens of millions from the benefits of the contraceptive mandate by grandfathering large employer plans merely to keep a political promise that no one will be forced to lose their existing coverage. Also for administrative convenience it excludes ten of millions of people from coverage who are employed by small businesses. Finally, Obama administration has freely granted administrative waivers for a variety of secular, pragmatic and economic reasons.

    I personally think that it is extremely difficult to argue that there are compelling reasons to force Nortre Dame University to provide contraceptive services over its religious objections when there are so many secular exceptions that leave people without "necessary" contraceptive coverage.

    In fact, this type of analysis was used by the district court decision I previously cited to invalidate a state mandate that required pharmacies to dispense morning after pills over the owner's religious objections. The district court rejected the State of Washington contention that it had compelling interests in making such medications readily available, when the law provided a slew of secular exceptions that were justified for purely pragmatic and economic reasons.

  146. pauld says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 01:51 PM:

    "If you kill a person who is in the act of murdering another person, that’s not murder. That’s defending an innocent person. If you saw a toddler being mercilessly beaten by an adult in the street, you would run and try to do something to break it up. Yet, that’s precisely what you believe is happening with abortions and you don’t believe using physical means to stop it is right. You are not being consistent"

    This is a reasonable question.  In response, many pro-life Christians would acknowledge that there are some values that trump the protection of human life.  One of those values is fidelity to the rule of law.  Fidelity to the rule of law is supremely important because the existence of civilization depends upon it.  The law that allows that one can use force to defend others would not be construed by courts to allow violent force against an abortion doctor.

    Perhaps some theologians can help me out here, but I believe Calvin argued that as a general principle  Christians are obligated to follow the law unless the goverment becomes so evil that revolution is warranted. Christian theologian Dietrich Bonhoffer privately  wrote  of his struggles with these issues  before he joined the conspiracy to assasinate Adolf Hitler. 

    Many Christian would also accept that traditions of civil disobedience as advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr.  These may come into play on the contraceptive mandate, if the issue is forced.  I am not aware of any credible theologian who would extend civil disobedience to justify a violence against an  abortion doctor.

  147. BJ says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 03:02 PM:

    pauld,

    Thank you for engaging my argument with rigor and sincerity. I only wish others would do the same.

    Could you unpack “fidelity to the rule of law”? Certainly one could argue that Dr. King and others who took a non-violent approach technically broke laws in many situations – Rosa Parks comes to mind. But nonetheless, most would consider these breaches to be justified in spite of the law.

    I should probably find the relevant Calvin passage before commenting. But based on what you say here, how much more evil could a government get than to sanction the destruction of innocent babes? That is, granting the success of the pro-life personhood-from-conception argument.

    I'm thankful that most pro-lifers take your position on the matter, the same way I'm thankful that moral relativists don't exercise the logical depths of their position. But I don't see how you can talk your more radical partisons off the window ledge.

  148. BJ says on Mar 26, 2012 @ 04:20 PM:

    Kstret,

    1. I take your refusal to find error with the Media Matters Fluke article posted by Spencer as a concession. I’ll have no further comment on the matter unless you engage that particular article.

    2. You brought up me saying “LOL @ you backing Limbaugh and Hannity”. That was in response to you saying “Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are honest about where they are coming from. They are conservative commentators” Now explain to me how that is a good example of me dismissing a point you’ve made because it came from them.

    3. As for Van Jones, I don’t agree with your interpretation of “shudder, shudder”. I think he was saying “shudder, shudder” in the context of capitalism being unpopular among his radical social circles when he was younger.

    4. I don’t agree that the cereal is the same. He was a communist, and although he hasn't addressed the issue directly, he seems to now be a pro-business capitalist. Please read chapters 4 & 5 of The Green Collar Economy at your local library, B&N, or Kindle for $2 so that you'll have all of the information needed to make an accurate assessment of this.

    5. When does an abortion become murder? Certainly late term abortion is murder. I’ll join you in fighting that. I would go as far as to say abortions in the 3rd trimester without the woman’s health being at stake is murder -- but that hardly ever happens anymore. You present legislation that would ban abortions beyond the 1st trimester except for when the woman’s health at risk, I’d support it.

    6. Do gray areas have brains, heart beats, etc.? No. And neither do 1-day old zygotes.

    7. Where is there a late term abortion clinic in this country, and what percentage of abortions are late term abortions?

    8. I should be clear – I heard a clip of the bone-in-the-nose comment being played on a radio show around 15 years ago. The host claimed it was Rush Limbaugh. It sounded like Rush Limbaugh. Given other comments I’ve heard from Rush Limbaugh, it didn’t seem out of his league to say such a thing.

  149. robaylesbury says on Mar 27, 2012 @ 12:53 AM:

    On the issue of abortion, it has long since seemed to me that only a change of ethos is going to make a difference in the figures we see. We know a ban doesn't work, as numerous health organisations around the world have concluded. We know that restricting access to healthcare and education is also route one to keeping societies ignorant on the matter. As far as I can tell, and moving beyond all the hyperbole, we need a culture where parents have strong enough bonds with young adults to talk about intimate matters, and an education system that has an equally sensible attitude towards the matter. No reduction in terminations is going to be forthcoming without a combination response.

    And let's have a sensible discussion about the issue. A 21st century discourse. It makes me sick when people seek to use this difficult issue to make cheap points, sling mud, and simply fail to engage.

    We know the strategies deployed in those nations with low abortion rates. Why not look at them and see how they resolve the problem. Just be clear on one thing; if you ban abortion you lose critical visibility on the scale of the issue. Do we really want to heap ignorance upon ignorance?

  150. Blake says on Mar 27, 2012 @ 10:47 PM:

    >>> We know a ban doesn't work, as numerous health organisations around the world have concluded.

    Nonsense. Banning murder of born humans doesn't prevent all murder either. No legal prohibition of any behavior is 100% effective. Banning abortion does indeed prevent it in the majority of cases. Truth, the enemy of deceivers.

  151. robaylesbury says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 12:29 AM:

    Hello Blake. Please could you provide some evidence for your comments? And I don't take kindly to being called a deceiver. Please reflect on how you conduct yourself.

  152. João Batista de Lacerda says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 06:11 AM:

    "You can believe in God using reason" William Lane Craig
    Yes, this is possible.
    Many do not believe in God because of the many theologies around the world are full of faults, and, especially, are not in line with the ERA in which we live.
    You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.
    John 8:32

  153. Jeff T says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 05:37 PM:

    When I read posts from Windy, Spencer, and BJ I am reminded of Weston/"the Unman" from Perelandra. It's involuntary.

  154. KStret says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 06:34 PM:

    Spencer,
    You did not answer my question. You answered a question about her testimony. Once again that is not what I asked you. Her response has to do with certian legislating coming from congress.

    "Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy. Under many religious institutions’ insurance plans, it wouldn’t be, and under Senator Blunt’s amendment, Senator Rubio’s bill, or Representative Fortenberry’s bill, there’s no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs. When they do exist, these exceptions don’t accomplish their well-intended goals because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren’t, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body."

    As I have already stated, this portion of her comments are false and doesn't answer my question.

    The Obama administration is attempting to change the rules as they stand. They want to force religious institutions into mandated contraceptive coverage. That is not currently happening.

    To say that if particular legislation is passed contraception coverage would change is acting is if the rules is already in place.

    Nothing would change if these bills were passed. Religious institutions currently can make up their own policy.

    In other words, "University administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors" are deciding what their own coverage should be. That is the current situation.

    That does not answer my question. She was protesting the policy the minute she stepped foot in Georgetown. Georgetown covers contraception for health reasons. Her organization also stands for contraceptive coverage for sexual reasons.

    First, which proves my point:
    "“I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. "
    ......... "Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown’s insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy"

    If Georgetown does provide contraceptive coverage for health reasons but doesn't provide contraceptives for sexual reasons, her points were not just referring to health issues.

    Is it true or false to say that Sandra Fluke wants mandated contraceptive coverage for sexual purposes?

    If you believe that it is false to say that Sandra Fluke wants mandated contraceptive coverage for sexual purposes, why do you think that 40% of the women at Georgetown have health problems that require them to take birth control pills?

    "simply an empirical fact that birth control can be very expensive, especially when used to treat serious health conditions (e.g. ovarian cysts). Will you acknowledge this? Yes or no? "

    No, I will not. Using her own numbers, the figure comes out to 2.73 a day. That is really expense?

    Having a heart condition is a serious life threatening problem and the medication is more expensive. Yet heart medication is not offered without a cost.

    This is a red herring. The actual issue is can the government force religious institutions to provide contraception even though it goes against the teachings of the church or force private insurance companies to provide contraception at not cost.

    The argument boils down to the government has the right to dictate to private religious organizations and private insurance companies that they must provide contraceptives at not cost because a women might have to pay 2.73 a day in extra costs.

    A 2.73 a day in extra cost to someone gives the government the ability to force someone to X. That is a great argument. I don't want to live in a country that has that standard.

    "How long will you ignore my responses? "

    Where is it that you answered any of my questions? You didn't. You accuse me of not being interested in a honest dialog but you are incapable of answering direct questions or you answer a different question than what is asked.

    I am not playing the I answer all your question but you get to pick and choose what you will or will not answer game.

    You can answer my questions and I will answer yours. If you will not answer my questions you can not demand that I answer yours.

    I spend 30 minutes answering your questions about the examples of media matter's dishonesty and you think it's permissible to ignore the questions I asked you? I am not playing that game.

    Will you denounce the Krauss article as being dishonest?

    Do you think Rob is going to denounce it or attempt to pretend that he did not post the article?

    "As for the other Media Matters articles, I will refrain from commenting further until we've resolved this issue, because it is so transparently obvious that you want to change the subject at this point"

    You asked for examples of MM dishonestly and now you can answer my questions.

    You stated that you didn't have a problem with the MMFA article about the crazy environmentalist who took hostages at the discovery channel.

    The narrative that MMFA was using was that conservatives were arguing that Al Gore should be blamed.

    The conservatives were pointing out the media hypocrisy. Their point is when a crazy guy who might be a conservative kills some one, it's Fox news and talk radios fault but when a liberal does the same thing, you here crickets.

    A guy with major mental problems holds hostages because of environmental issues. If they applied the exact same standard, it should be Al Gore's fault.

    Is it honest or dishonest to deliberately misstate and distort the conservative position as blaming Al Gore?

    On the cost of Oil story MM's narrative was that Fox news was not blaming republicans for the cost of oil but was blaming Obama. Setting aside that there are different situations and actions at play, how accurate is that MM video clip?

    O'REILLY: When you hear a politician say he or she will bring down oil prices, understand it's complete BS. If Americans want lower gas prices, cut back.

    Here is the the entire context of what he said:

    O'REILLY: The Republican Party pretty much lets big oil do whatever it wants and refuses to rein in corrupt speculators who drive up the price of oil. So the next time you hear a politician say he or she will bring down oil prices, understand it's complete BS. If Americans want lower gas prices, cut back.

    It's transparently obvious why they edited out that portion of BO'R's comments. It goes against the narrative that MM is attempting float.

    The clip was about one minute long. The MM Oil segment was about 6 minutes long and had at least 5 to 10 clips if not more.

    If they are being dishonest in the O'Reilly clip, it is fair to believe that they are probably being dishonest in other clips. Do I have to go threw every clip in that MM segment?

    That is MMFA's modus operandi. They string together twenty 10 second clips that are taken out of context and attempt to fit the clips into the propaganda they are trying to sell to people who don't have the intellectual capacity to understand what MMFA is.

    Here is a post from MM smear watch:

    In 2004, Van Jones did sign a petition requesting further investigation into the 9/11 attacks. The petition did not suggest that the Bush administration “blew up the World Trade Center,” but rather that the response to the pending attacks was inadequate. Jones has stated that the petition does not reflect his views.

    In other words, Van Jones signed a petition that had nothing to do with 9-11 conspiracy theories. It was just a petition that wanted more of an investigation. That is all. Anyone who says otherwise is an evil conservative liar.

    This is a simple issue. One side is lying and one side is not. It should be really easy to determine who is lying. All you have to do is look at the petition. What did the petition say? Here it is:

    "An alliance of 100 prominent Americans and 40 family members of those killed on 9/11 today announced the release of the 911 Truth Statement, a call for immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur. The Statement supports an August 31st Zogby poll that found nearly 50% of New Yorkers believe the government had foreknowledge and “consciously failed to act,” with 66% wanting a new 9/11 investigation."

    The petition clearly states that they believed high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks. That is a 9-11 conspiracy theory and shows that MMFA was lying.

    That is setting aside the numerous examples of MMFA scrubbing stories from their web site when they have egg on their face, the fact the MM organizes orchestrated attacks of advertisers on conservatives shows,MM coordinates with the DNC and White House, and had a plan to blackmail people at Fox news.

    They are the most anti free speech organization in this country.

    Here is MM committing an ad hominem fallacy. When the late Andrew Breightbart broke the story about the Anthony Weiner scandal, the left came out swinging at Breightbart. They had to back off a few days after the scandal broke because it became pretty obvious what had happened.
    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201105310021

    Will you denounce this story from MM?

    Should I go on? I quote the great Vince from the Shamwow commercials, "I can do this all day."

    You doubted that I could even come up with one example showing that MMFA is dishonest. This shows that you believed(and probably still do) that MMFA's credibility is impeccable.

    Now that I have shown that it is not, we should drop the subject altogether and you don't have to answer any questions about that subject. That is the apotheosis Honest dialog!

    Your response will not answer any question, you will cut and paste the same thing, and say "when will the distortions end."

  155. KStret says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 06:34 PM:

    BJ,
    "1. I take your refusal to find error with the Media Matters Fluke article posted by Spencer as a concession. I’ll have no further comment on the matter unless you engage that particular article."

    Not all all. I read Rob's article and after pointing out the problems with it, what response did he give?

    "2. You brought up me saying “LOL @ you backing Limbaugh and Hannity”. That was in response to you saying “Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are honest about where they are coming from. They are conservative commentators” Now explain to me how that is a good example of me dismissing a point you’ve made because it came from them."

    First of all, you are avoiding your other comment about the Fox news crack pipe, which is a clear example of dismissing what I said because you don't like Fox news.

    It also turned out that you were wrong as you believed that Van Jones was not a communist.

    Secondly, Hannity and Rush are honest about where they are coming from. They are clear that everything they say is coming from a conservative view point.

    Media matters is not honest about who they are or what they do. It is one thing to be a political commentator and it another to be a propaganda outfit.

    Hannity and Limbaugh are not paying anyone to listen to liberal shows, wait for something that they can take out of context, and then attack the advertisers of the liberal shows to shut them up. Why? Because they believe in free speech.

    You laughed at that. Why because you don't like Hannity or Rush and you do like MMFA. In fact you like them so much you went there to see what they said about Van Jones being a communist and used those exact same points in here.


    "3. As for Van Jones, I don’t agree with your interpretation of “shudder, shudder”. I think he was saying “shudder, shudder” in the context of capitalism being unpopular among his radical social circles when he was younger."

    First, he is only a communist for a short period of time. That is not true at all. He started his own communist activist group that lasted for ten years.

    You said he disavowed communism. That isn't true either. He simply changed his tactics not his political ideology. That article clearly states that.

    Now you are trying to say that a guy who hates capitalism, is a self avowed communist, started a communist organization that collapsed in 2004 or 2005, and never disavowed communism used shudder, shudder in conjunction with capitalism and you think he was using that in the context that capitalism is unpopular among his radical social circles?

    You didn't read the article. You went to MMFA and read what they said which was based on the article from snopes.

    "4. I don’t agree that the cereal is the same. He was a communist, and although he hasn't addressed the issue directly, he seems to now be a pro-business capitalist. Please read chapters 4 & 5 of The Green Collar Economy at your local library, B&N, or Kindle for $2 so that you'll have all of the information needed to make an accurate assessment of this."

    VAN JONES: One of the things that has happened I think too often to progressives is that we don’t understand the relationship between minimum goals and maximum goals.

    Right after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, if the civil rights leaders had jumped out and said, okay, now, we
    want Reparations for slavery

    If they come out with a maximum program the very next day, they would have been laughed at. Instead they came out with a very minimum program: You know, we just want to integrate these buses. The students a few years later came out with a very minimum program, we just want to sit at the lunch counter. But inside that minimum demand was a very radical kernel that eventually meant that from 1954 to 1958, you know, complete revolution was on the table.

    ..And I think that this green movement has to pursue those same steps and stages. Right now we’re saying we want to move from suicidal gray capitalism to some kind of eco capitalism.

    Where, you know, at least we’re not, you know, fast tracking the destruction of the whole planet. Well will that be enough? No, it won’t be enough.

    What do you think he means by gray capitalism and eco-capitalism?

    You didn't answer my other question.What does eco-equity mean?

    It kind of sounds like he changed his language. Instead of saying the redistribution of wealth, he says eco-equity. Instead of saying that he incrementally wants to change from a capitalist system to a communist system, he says that we need to change from gray capitalism to eco-capitalism.

    "5. When does an abortion become murder? Certainly late term abortion is murder. I’ll join you in fighting that. I would go as far as to say abortions in the 3rd trimester without the woman’s health being at stake is murder -- but that hardly ever happens anymore."

    That is simply not true. Late term abortions happen more than you think. There was or is an abortion clinic in Kansas that performed late term abortions all the time for any reason.

    "You present legislation that would ban abortions beyond the 1st trimester except for when the woman’s health at risk, I’d support it."

    According to your own logic chain, you should be bombing all the late term abortion clinics here in the United States not supporting legislation.

    "6. Do gray areas have brains, heart beats, etc.? No. And neither do 1-day old zygotes.'

    The baby has a heart beat within three weeks. If grey areas don't have heart beats, how can abortion be a gray area after 3 weeks?

    "7. Where is there a late term abortion clinic in this country, and what percentage of abortions are late term abortions?"

    There is one in Kansas and there are others. Do you think they advertise that they specialize in late term abortions?

    "8. I should be clear – I heard a clip of the bone-in-the-nose comment being played on a radio show around 15 years ago. The host claimed it was Rush Limbaugh. It sounded like Rush Limbaugh. Given other comments I’ve heard from Rush Limbaugh, it didn’t seem out of his league to say such a thing."

    That is not what you said. You said that you heard it on Rush's own show before listening to a game.

    "I heard a clip of Limbaugh making that bone-in-the-nose comment, and I’ve heard him make similar comments basically every day. His program was always on before the SF Giants games in the 90’s"

    No one has the audio clip of him saying that. The quote doesn't exist. It supposedly came from a Newsweek article where he admitted saying that. The problem is that the Newsweek article was not cited. If he did say that, the audio would be all over the internet.

    I think accusing someone of being a racist without any evidence is reprehensible. I don't think being rude to someone quantifies them as being a racist.

    What other racist comment did he make? Please use the slavery quotes.

    Also, You claimed that you answered my question about the father causing a miscarriage. You did not.

    If you recall, in the hypothetical example I stipulated that the substance he was putting in her drink would cause no harm to the women at all.

    If the substance he put in her drink caused no harm to the women, your position would be that nothing should happen to the father of the child?

  156. KStret says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 06:35 PM:

    Rob,
    You posted an article from Krauss that was inherently dishonest. I pointed a few examples of this. Will you denounce the article that you posted?

    Please response with:

    I hope you all understand why I refuse to engage KStret... etc etc etc

    If that is your response, it is obvious why you will not engage in a discussion. The answer is you posted a dishonest article, you are constantly accuse me of being dishonest, and you can't defend the article but you can't admit that either.

  157. KStret says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 06:40 PM:

    Rob,
    "We know a ban doesn't work, as numerous health organisations around the world have concluded"

    No you don't. If that is the case why doesn't Ireland and Africa have the same abortion rate?

    How do you explain why the statistics are all over the map?

    Rob's response:

    I hope you all understand why I refuse to engage KStret... etc etc etc

  158. Spencer says on Mar 28, 2012 @ 09:12 PM:

    KStret,

    As I pointed out before, you're not interested in genuine dialogue, and to highlight this, I'm only going to focus on the following three points until those issues have been resolved.

    1. It's official -- you're now blatantly lying about not having your question answered. You asked: "If her problem has to do with health issues and not people's sex lives, why has she been protesting Georgetown's contraception policy when she said that "technically" Georgetown's policy does cover contraceptives for health problems?" (You are simply lying when you say: "Once again that is not what I asked you." Yes, it is - I quoted your question verbatim). I then quoted the exact portions of her testimony where she answers your question.

    -----------------
    Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy. Under many religious institutions’ insurance plans, it wouldn’t be, and under Senator Blunt’s amendment, Senator Rubio’s bill, or Representative Fortenberry’s bill, there’s no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs. When they do exist, these exceptions don’t accomplish their well-intended goals because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren’t, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body.


    For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy.
    -------------

    Confusion about why Fluke was protesting Georgetown's policy can only result from not wanting to understand her testimony.


    2. Initially, you claimed that Fluke was "clearly lying" about the cost -- specifically about the $3,000 figure. But it's simply an empirical fact that birth control can cost that much, so Fluke wasn't "clearly lying" at all. Will you retract your "clearly lying" charge? (No, you won't, because facts don't seem to matter to you).

    3. How long will you continue to ignore the Media Matters article that I posted ages ago ("Did Anyone In Conservative Media Actually Read Or Listen To Sandra Fluke's Testimony")? Why won't you try to identify a single instance of dishonesty in that article, given your insinuation that it is full of lies and distortions? As I pointed out over and over, the article just consists of mostly quotes from conservative commentators followed by Fluke's actual testimony, and yet, you completely dismiss it out of hand. Either withdraw your initial objection or identify something wrong with it. We can discuss the other Media Matters articles after you do this.

  159. robaylesbury says on Mar 29, 2012 @ 01:24 AM:

    Why would all countries have the same abortion figures? What a strange statement.

    Concerning Krauss and his rhetorical flourish, as always I allow others to make a judgement as to it's salience.

    Note a predictable trend with Kstret and Blake. There's no attempt to find common ground, no acknowledgement that as a society we may be able to work together despite disagreement in order to lessen the impact of troubling societal issues such as abortion.

    My general position has always been three pronged. Nurture strong family environments, deploy sound education strategy, and make healthcare options available. We can see the countries where these ideals are cherished because they happen to boast lower abortion figures. I'm not saying that we've not got work to do, or that improvements cannot be made, but I hope we're moving in a direction which results in the lowest possible number of terminations, and the growth of a culture that is self aware and informed as to the rights and responsibilities that come with human sexuality.

  160. pauld says on Mar 29, 2012 @ 07:16 AM:

    David Schaengold of the Witherspoon institute has written an interesting essay regarding conscience/religious exemptions to laws. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/03/5045 He does not attempt to analyze what the law is, but argues for what it should be. He argues for this underlying principle:

    "The state should never force anyone to perform an action he or she believes to be wrong, unless it has a good reason, not merely to have the action performed, but to insist that even those who find it wrong perform it."

    He develops this underlying principle with examples of what it would look like when applied to actual situations and describes what he believes are reasonable principles to define the outer limits of its scope: 1) first, the belief cannot be ad hoc; 2) second, the belief cannot have as its manifest aim the material interest of the objector; and 3) third, exemption cannot undermine the basis of government or civil order. Although people may argue how this principle would play out when applied to specific situations, I think that he does accurately articulate underlying principles that have historically informed public policy in the United States regardless of whether one believes that thes underlying principles are in embodied in the 1st Amendment.

    As he observes:

    "Legislatures that abide by this guiding principle and grant exemptions when allowed by these three criteria will do well—not only morally, but for the health of American society, which has always been composed of many diverse groups, some with strong metaphysical commitments, some without, pursuing the public good in the manner they see best."

  161. KStret says on Mar 29, 2012 @ 06:25 PM:

    Spencer,
    You did exactly what I predicted you would. You did not answer my questions about MMFA or fluke, re-posted the same thing, and accused me of lying. This should really easy to sort out who is lying.

    "It's official -- you're now blatantly lying about not having your question answered. You asked: "If her problem has to do with health issues and not people's sex lives, why has she been protesting Georgetown's contraception policy when she said that "technically" Georgetown's policy does cover contraceptives for health problems?"

    In other words, Sanda Fluke's objection has to do with women not being reimbursed for prescription birth control pills for health problems and other colleges not covering contraceptive coverage for health reasons. Is that correct?

    If that is your position you totally ignored my point. She was the former president of an organization who wants contraception covered for sexual reasons as well as abortion and sex change operations.

    In the beginning portion of her side show speech did she stipulate that her married "friend" or her "friend" who was humiliated when she found out that her birth control pills were not covered had health problems? No, she did not.

    If birth control for health reasons are "technically" covered, her "friend" who was humiliated would have been able to get birth control but wait to be reimbursed. The same thing applies to her married "friend." That is not what she said in the beginning.

    If you believe that Sandra Fluke only wants birth control for health reasons and not mandated contraceptive coverage for sexual purposes, why do you think that 40% of the women at Georgetown have health problems that require them to take birth control pills?

    The other point that you ignored is when liberals use the term "women's health" it applies to abortions, contraceptives for sexual reasons, and apparently sex change operations. Maybe, it would also apply to men who want to be women.

    Is it true or false to say that Sandra Fluke wants mandated contraceptive coverage for sexual purposes?

    It is demonstrably false to say that Fluke only wants contraceptive coverage for health reasons. The organization she was president of clearly shows this. That is part of their platform, which is why you would only focus on her testimony.

    Since you ignored that point, it is demonstrably false to say that you answered my question.

    Since she did not stipulate that her "friends" in the beginning of her speech had health problems and her claim that 40% of female students have problems paying for birth control pills, it is also not true that her only concern is for health reasons.

    "But it's simply an empirical fact that birth control can cost"

    If that is the case, you should have no problem providing me with a name of a birth control pill that costs that much and is unavailable as a generic drug. What is the name of the hormone?

    "Will you retract your "clearly lying" charge? (No, you won't, because facts don't seem to matter to you)."

    Facts are obvious really important to you. That is why you ignored the entire substance of my post. You are attempting to ignore the problem that Fluke was the president of an organization who wants birth control covered at no cost for female students who want birth control pills so they can have sex.

    "How long will you continue to ignore the Media Matters article that I posted ages ago ("Did Anyone In Conservative Media Actually Read Or Listen To Sandra Fluke's Testimony")? "

    I will ignore the MM article until you stop ignoring the questions that I asked you abut MM. When are you going to answer my questions? You believed that MM was a credible source that I could not find one thing that they lied about or distorted.

    I will ignore the MM article until you address the Krauss article.

    I provided you with several examples of MM's dishonesty and now you want to change the subject. Is that how you conduct an honest dialog?

    I take you also believe that if there was an article in a grocery store tabloid that have stories about aliens, it would not be permissible to dismiss the article because of the news paper. Is that correct?

    Do you know what MMFA is doing now? They are harassing small businesses that pay for advertising on local radio affiliates.

    Bob's automotive repair pays for an advertisement that appears on a local affiliate of Rush Limbaugh. Media Matters gets their lemmings to harass Bob. T

    hey have people harassing Bob calling from all over the country in such a volume that it interferes with Bob's business. That is called economic terrorism.

    Why are they doing that? It has absolutely nothing to do with misogynistic comments. If they were so concerned about misogynistic comments they would have unleashed their hounds on Bill Maher who has a said many things that are far worse than anything Rush said. They want to shut Rush up and conservative talk radio because they can't win any arguments.

    I am supposed to take an article that comes from that organization seriously? You would not accept that coming from me.

    What happens when I waste my time reading the article and debunking it? You will disappear, attempt to pretend there was no article, or change the subject.

    In other words, you will do exactly the same thing Rob just did.

    Hey wait....... you never answered my question about that.

    Seeing that you have so much integrity and care about the truth so much, you must have a major problem with the Krauss article that smeared Rick Santorum. Is that correct?

    If that is not correct or you continually refuse to answer this question, you are saying that it is permissible for anyone you agree with to lie and distort. Is that your position?

    Prediction:

    Your response will sound like crickets.

    If that is the case why would I bother to waste my time?

  162. KStret says on Mar 29, 2012 @ 06:27 PM:

    Rob,
    "Concerning Krauss and his rhetorical flourish, as always I allow others to make a judgement as to it's salience."

    Is it honest or dishonest to pretend that Santorum is talking about health issues when he was talking about the moral fabric of the culture?

    Is it honest or dishonest to portray Rick Santorum having the position that evolution is a fairy tale when he never said that and the article Krauss cited said was he though ID was a legitimate scientific theory ten years ago but changed his mind?

    If you do not answer these question, you are conceding that it is permissible for anyone you agree with to lie about someone's position that you disagree with.

    Your last response is indicative of someone who does not have the intellectual integrity to answer these questions.

    You have repeatedly accused me of being dishonest. You posted an article that is one of the most dishonest articles that I have ever read. Do you have the integrity to disavow it?

    "Why would all countries have the same abortion figures? What a strange statement."

    You made the claim that abortion being illegal doesn't work. What are you basing that on? Statistics that come from GI.

    If your theory that abortions being illegal actually cause more abortions, you should see a high number of abortions in every country where abortion is illegal. Obviously the numbers will differ but they should be high in all countries were abortion is illegal.

    Unfortunately, this is not the case. In Africa abortions are really high. In Ireland they are not.

    In America they are really low. However, the largest abortion provider is planned parenthood. PP has continually rigged their stats and coincidentally the group who preforms the statistic studies is affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

    To illustrate this, one year GI had the number of late term abortions at around 600 and another organization's stats were double the amount.

    Many times the stats are guesstimates and are not reliable.

    The notion that criminalizing abortions causes to abortions to go up isn't factual at all. You can not look at Africa's high abortion rate, compare it to the United States, and deduce that criminalizing abortion causes it to go up.

    I could say that a country's stability and economic health plays a larger factor in abortion rates going up or down.

  163. robaylesbury says on Mar 30, 2012 @ 01:49 AM:

    These are the articles Krauss links to concerning Santorum

    http://www.boston.com/Boston/politicalintelligence/2012/03/rick-santorum-could-benefit-southern-primaries-from-evolution-skeptics/5nYSM9LIxOnU5gpW52fhdI/index.html

    http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/santorum-climate-change-vast-left-wing-conspiracy

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57381029/santorum-obamas-worldview-upside-down/

    http://2012.republican-candidates.org/Santorum/Stem-Cell.php

    www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the-record/2012/02/17/santorum-defends-moral-versus-political-stance-contraception-while-caught-crossfire-super

    I am content to allow other's to weigh and measure this content against Krauss's observation.

  164. robaylesbury says on Mar 30, 2012 @ 02:05 AM:

    On now to the rest.

    Kstret observes that abortion rates in Africa are higher than in countries such as America and Ireland.

    He is emphatically correct. Access to healthcare and birth control is far better in developed nations. This appears to suggest that the pre-emptive approach is advantageous and actively reduces the volume of unwanted pregnancies.

    Communicate, educate, facilitate.

    The global abortion figures as used by the World Health Organisation are garnered via meta analysis. Lot's of studies by lots of people in different places. From these we infer that nations that ban abortion fare no better than those that allow it. Of course, those nations that do ban actually abdicate any real control over the issue because they effectively forfeit access to amenable data that might held us in tackling the issue.

    Once again, communicate, educate, and facilitate. We're all agreed that the current state of affairs is horrible, so rather than argue let's have a discussion as to what we can do to alleviate the issue.

    I'm happy to work alongside Christian's who want to advocate abstinence as one option among many. Kids should not be pressured in sexual activity, and I for one fear society has done a terrible job of getting this message across. Conversely, we need to be prepared to discuss these issues with our kids in a sensible and non threatening way. The real work at making a better society isn't done in lobby groups or churches, but in the home.

  165. Scott says on Mar 31, 2012 @ 11:10 PM:

    Hello all my fellow virtual thinkers,
    It's only fitting that I'm the first to post on April Fool's Day. I'm sorry I've been away. It's just that I'm a debataholic and have forced myself to go cold turkey. Once I start debating a subject it just sucks up my time and I can't stop. Frankly, I don't know how you people do this. Don't you people have lives??!!
    Also, you guys are far more informed than I am on the legal issues of this topic so I'll just kind of quietly browse what y'all have been up to the last few weeks and be educated. (Regarding your last post, Rob, I think much of it is right on target.)
    As I've been catching up I have noticed there is another Scott in this thread who wisely adds his last name. If you guys didn't seem so shady I'd probably add mine too but I know you all too well :o) Maybe I'll have to think of a new name which reflects the true, inner Scott but isn't shared by others.
    Windy, I apologize for calling you "Wendy." My screen reader pronounces the two words the same and it wasn't until you drew attention to it that I decided to have my screen reader spell it out letter by letter. It took me months to figure out that Rob's name is not "Rob Hillsberry."

  166. Mark O'Neil says on Apr 1, 2012 @ 03:56 AM:

    I believe there are some false assumptions that are implicit in Wendy's claim that contraceptives are essential healthcare. Here are some of the false assumptions that I believe are being made:


    False assumption #1: "All contraceptives are equal." This belief is making a universal generalization that all contraceptives are equal in their mode of operation, effect, applicable health benefits, etc. The common denominator which defines all contraceptives is either the prevention of pregnancy or the termination of pregnancy.

    For example, this point is critical because I see no direct health benefit of condomns being prescribed to women as essential healthcare, for which a medical valid alternative is not already available to them for no cost(free) by means of abstinence. The main purpose of condomns is to prevent pregnancy when elective to have sex and any other health benefits are secondary to the main purpose of the condomns.

    Furthermore if you are making the argument that condomns are essential to healthcare, then there is an alternative and even more fundamental way in which to prevent pregnancy which 1st Amendment adovcates do not object to on moral grounds such as abstinence, or if the use of condomns is not objectionable by 1st Amendment advocates on the grounds that condomns be only prescribed to married couples on both moral and healthcare grounds. What vital interest does the state have in promoting or giving incentive to sex outside of marriage?

    False assumption #2: "All contraceptives are an essential healthcare treatment all the time." Like any contingent good, there are times when it may be an appropriate treatment as healthcare to prescribe a specific contraceptive such as a birth control hormone to regulate a woman's hormone levels, but in this particular case the contraceptive has dual health purposes, one purpose is as a contraceptive and the other purpose as a hormone regulator. If the purpose of prescribing the contraceptive is for a purpose other than contraception such as hormone regulation then what is the objection. Furthermore if alternative medical prescriptions for hormone regulation come available which are cost effective and do not run afoul of 1st Amendment objections then these alternative medical prescriptions should be available between a doctor and their patient.

    This point goes back to false assumption #1 that not all contraceptives are equal. The original and main purpose of any "contraceptive" by definition is to prevent pregnancy. Preventing pregnancy can be done electively without any medical prescription for no cost (free) by any two sexually reproducing adults by simply abstaining from sex. This "healthcare" option ought to be universally recognized in any healthcare plan provided to the public (if healthcare becomes universally controlled or regulated by government).

    False assumption #3: "Abstinence is not a medically valid presciption as a contraceptive in healthcare to prevent pregnancy."

    Your line of reasoning implies that all 1st Amenment objections have no alternatively valid secular solutions to valid healthcare problems.

    False assumption #4: "There is no valid 1st Amendment objection to universal contraceptive healthcare." This false assumption is grounded in false assumptions #1, #2, and #3.

  167. KStret says on Apr 1, 2012 @ 02:04 PM:

    Rob,
    "These are the articles Krauss links to concerning Santorum"

    The links that Krauss provides do not back up his claims. I gave you two examples of this and asked you if you thought they were dishonest. You declined to answer my questions.

    The deafening sound of silence in your response shows a total lack of integrity.

    "I am content to allow other's to weigh and measure this content against Krauss's observation."

    Krauss is not making any observations. He is flat out lying. Apparently, you do not have any problem with lying as long as you agree with the person doing it.

  168. KStret says on Apr 1, 2012 @ 02:07 PM:

    Rob,
    "He is emphatically correct. Access to healthcare and birth control is far better in developed nations'

    You are assuming the cause of the statistics. Another factor could be the worse shape a country is in, the higher the abortion rates. That could be the main cause. There could also be a myriad of other factors that are playing a role.

    It is demonstrably false to say that criminalizing abortions cause the rates to go up.

    "The global abortion figures as used by the World Health Organisation are garnered via meta analysis. Lot's of studies by lots of people in different places. From these we infer that nations that ban abortion fare no better than those that allow it."

    You conceded my point and restated the same thing. Your own statics show that theory is wrong. Abortion is illegal in Africa and Ireland. Ireland does not have a high abortion rate.

    A case could be made with all the games being played in the United States with abortion stats, that the abortion rate in United States is much higher than the statistics show.

    The notion that criminalizing abortion causes the rates to go up is false.

    Meta analysis studies are not the Holy Grail of proving a point. Meta analysis studies have problems with them.

    "Once again, communicate, educate, and facilitate."

    Once again, this involves communicating, educating, and facilitating your ideas to my kids with out my consent. This topic is a parental rights issue.

    "I'm happy to work alongside Christian's who want to advocate abstinence as one option among many."

    Is teaching kids if they are going to have sex to wear a condom consistent with biblical values? You will work along side Christians as long as they agree with you.

    Once again, teaching abstinence coupled with teaching kids to wear a condom is a contradictory message.

    If your daughter was going on a date, would you tell her boy friend, "If you touch my daughter I will kill you but if you do decide to touch her wear a condom"? That doesn't make any sense.

    "Kids should not be pressured in sexual activity, and I for one fear society has done a terrible job of getting this message across."

    Pressuring kids to have sex is precisely what is being taught in sex-ed classes. They are doing that under the guise that sex is no big deal. This is being reinforced threw the cultural milieu.

    Again, there may be cultural differences at play. I don't know what the curriculum for sex ed in the UK looks like but in here it's frightening.

    There was a school system in NY that had a policy where if you wanted the school nurse to be able to administer aspirin you had to sign a parental consent form at the beginning of the year.

    If the parent signed a consent form, it gave the school the ability to give children as young as 11, birth control pills.

    I saw a "sex educator" debating this issue. She was asked where she drew the line and her reply was "I don't."

    In other words, she was fine with 11 year-old girls having sex and apparently doesn't have a problem with the age going lower.

    "Conversely, we need to be prepared to discuss these issues with our kids in a sensible and non threatening way."

    The sentimental that you expressed above is often conflated as being your child's friend instead of their parent.

    Keep the lines of communication open at all costs. When your daughter comes to you and says I think I want to have sex with my boyfriend, you should sit down as if this is her decision to make and help her go over the options.

    If she decides to have sex even though you expressed your opinion that she should not, that is her decision to make.

    That makes no sense. She isn't mature enough to vote, drink, see rated R movies, or watch adult movies but she is mature enough to engage in the activities that they perform in adult movies.

    Let's apply that same logic to drugs:

    If you child is thinking about taking drugs should you discuss the issue in a sensible and non threatening way and when your daughter tells you that she decided to try drugs you are going to leave the decision to her?

    Dr. Amy T. Schalet, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst(big surprise), gave a key note speech at a Planned Parenthood event, argued that parents should let kids have sex in the house like they do in the Netherlands.

    Americans are just uptight and old fashioned by not letting their kids have sex in the house. Dutch brilliance at it's best:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24schalet.html?_r=3