Hobby Lobby reveals how public and private spheres have changed in the last few decades

Church rejects Obama as GodBack in the 1980s, when I was a good ol” liberal Democrat (sort of in the Kennedy mold), I kept hearing those Bible Thumpers in the Moral Majority bandy about a word: “Secularist.”

What the heck was that? Nobody I knew (and everyone I knew was a person of the sort-of Left) called him or herself a “secularist.”

What in the world did those zealots mean by labeling me that way and pretending that I’m doing something damaging to them? I understood what was really going on:  Very religious people were abnormal, and then there were the rest of us who were non-religious, or slightly religious in a genteel, non-obtrusive fashion.  The fact that our “religion”  closely paralleled the Democrat Party platform, meaning that laws were informed by our “religious” values was just a coincidence.

We were not foisting anything on them.  If anything, they were the foisters, especially with their stupid pro-Life values.

I’ve obviously come a long way from then, haven’t I?

One of the things that helped me on my journey to rationality was Stephen Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief. It was he who explained to me that to hold values in opposition to traditional Christianity is itself a value system.

Bingo! Light bulb moment. As of 1994, I finally understood what the Moral Majority was complaining about. I didn’t yet agree with the values they advanced, but I instantly became much more sympathetic to their complaints about Leftist, secular culture encroaching upon them.

The societal change Carter noted — that the absence of religious values (as opposed to religious doctrine) was taking over the public forum — has only accelerated in recent years. I actually hadn’t thought about it in any specific way until I read Megan McArdle’s very thoughtful post about the Left’s hysteria in response to the Supreme Court’s extremely narrow, common-sensical Hobby Lobby ruling.

For conservatives, even non-religious ones, the ruling’s correctness was a no-brainer:  The holding that government cannot compel people to purchase a product inconsistent with core doctrinal beliefs is true both to the Constitution and to the traditional American ethos of keeping the state out of people’s religion.

But what if the state itself is the people’s religion? McArdle believes that this trend, which sees public space co-opted by non-religious beliefs that have been themselves elevated to absolute “values” explains much of the hysteria, not among the professional Left, but among ordinary DemProgs.  The change in attitude McArdle notes explains both why Leftists cannot appreciate the seriousness of the issue for religious people and why they do not view the Obama administration’s actions as coercive.

I’m quoting McArdle at some length here, because the logic underlying her theory is so tightly constructed, it’s difficult for me to quote her without doing damage to her reasoning.  I urge you, though, to read the whole thing:

I think a few things are going on here. The first is that while the religious right views religion as a fundamental, and indeed essential, part of the human experience, the secular left views it as something more like a hobby, so for them it’s as if a major administrative rule was struck down because it unduly burdened model-train enthusiasts. That emotional disconnect makes it hard for the two sides to even debate; the emotional tenor quickly spirals into hysteria as one side says “Sacred!” and the other side says, essentially, “Seriously? Model trains?” That shows in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, where it seems to me that she takes a very narrow view of what role religious groups play in the lives of believers and society as a whole.

The second, and probably more important, problem is that the long compromise worked out between the state and religious groups — do what you want within very broad limits, but don’t expect the state to promote it — is breaking down in the face of a shift in the way we view rights and the role of the government in public life.

To see what I mean, consider an argument I have now heard hundreds of times — on Facebook, in my e-mail, in comment threads here and elsewhere: “Hobby Lobby’s owners have a right to their own religious views, but they don’t have a right to impose them on others.”As I wrote the day the decision came out, the statement itself is laudable, yet it rings strange when it’s applied to this particular circumstance. How is not buying you something equivalent to “imposing” on you?

I think you can understand this, however, as the clash of principles designed for a world of negative rights, in a society that has come to embrace substantial positive rights — as well as a clash between old and new concepts of what is private and what is public.

All of us learned some version of “You have the right to your beliefs, but not to impose them on others” in civics class. It’s a classic negative right. And negative rights are easy to make reciprocal: You have a right to practice your religion without interference, and I have a right not to have your beliefs imposed on me.

This works very well in situations in which most of the other rights granted by society are negative rights, because negative rights don’t clash very often. Oh, sure, you’re going to get arguments about noise ordinances and other nuisance abatements, but unless your religious practices are extreme indeed, the odds that they will substantively violate someone else’s negative rights are pretty slim.

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Alongside this development, as Yuval Levin has pointed out, we have seen an ongoing shift, particularly on the left, in the balance between what constitutes the private and the public spheres, and who has powers in which sphere. There’s a reductive tendency in modern political discourse to view public versus private as the state versus the individual.

In the 19th century, the line between the individual and the government was just as firm as it is now, but there was a large public space in between that was nonetheless seen as private in the sense of being mostly outside of government control — which is why we still refer to “public” companies as being part of the “private” sector. Again, in the context of largely negative rights, this makes sense. You have individuals on one end and a small state on the other, and in the middle you have a large variety of private voluntary institutions that exert various forms of social and financial coercion, but not governmental coercion — which, unlike other forms of coercion, is ultimately enforced by the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

[snip]

[O]utside of our most intimate relationships, almost everything else is now viewed as public, which is why Brendan Eich’s donation to an anti-gay-marriage group became, in the eyes of many, grounds for firing.

For many people, this massive public territory is all the legitimate province of the state. Institutions within that sphere are subject to close regulation by the government, including regulations that turn those institutions into agents of state goals — for example, by making them buy birth control for anyone they choose to employ. It is not a totalitarian view of government, but it is a totalizing view of government; almost everything we do ends up being shaped by the law and the bureaucrats appointed to enforce it. We resolve the conflict between negative and positive rights by restricting many negative rights to a shrunken private sphere where they cannot get much purchase.

Put another way, once upon time, things not directly within the government purview were neutral territory in which I didn’t impose upon or demand from you, and you didn’t impose upon and demand from me.  We might have thought the other excessively moral or immoral, but we danced together in uneasy harmony.

Beginning in the 1980s, though, the Left co-opted the public space, declaring that it was not neutral territory but was, instead, government territory.  Further, because Leftists deny that their belief in non-Christian values is itself a value, they insist that by doing so they’re not infringing on First Amendment rights.  They insist upon this denial even as they promote and guard their own secular faith with all the vehemence of a true religious zealot.

The Obama healthcare mandate reflects the fact that, for the Left, the distinction between your private religious space and all the other public government faith space has morphed again.  Now, as a person of faith, the only space you have that’s yours is within the four walls of your home.  Everything else is within the public purview, meaning that it’s under government control and government values (which are, by definition, statist, hostile to matters of faith, and identical to the Democrat platform).  With this rejiggered view of public and private, the government is not infringing upon your religion if it imposes obligations on you (even obligations that directly contradict your faith) as long as it is not constraining you within your own home.

Put another way, the DemProg interpretation of the First Amendment’s promise that the government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion boils down to this:  I can’t force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your own daughter (provided she lives in your house), but I am not impinging on your faith if I force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your neighbor’s daughter.   Under this definition, your objection to paying for or performing that abortion on the neighbor’s child constitutes an unreasonable attempt to enforce religious values in the public arena.

Hobby Lobby: Trying to get DemProgs to understand what it means

HobbyLobbyStowOhioImpressed by the ill-informed hysterical reaction that my “real me” Facebook friends had to the Hobby Lobby decision, I explained to them that the decision is very narrow and will not (a) ban contraceptives across America and (b) lead to anti-gay lynch mobs. Here’s a slightly revised version of my Facebook post, which still failed to satisfy their paranoia and inability to understand the law.  I’ve also added a little hypothetical that might open their minds.  (No, don’t say it.  It’s improbable, but not impossible, that a DemProg mind can open).

The Hobby Lobby decision addresses one thing only:  whether an administrative rule conflicts with a long-standing law.

In 1993, a Democrat Congress passed, and a Democrat president signed, the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (“RFRA”). RFRA holds in relevant part that the federal government may act in a way that substantially burdens the exercise of religion only if it can establish that its action is the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling government interest. Nothing in the Act distinguishes between individuals and corporations.

The administrative rule at issue is the edict from Health and Human Services (“HHS”) mandating that all corporations affected by Obamacare must provide their female employees with unlimited access to all contraceptives available on the market.

Hobby Lobby is a closely-held, family-run corporation. The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, has a strong Christian faith, and is open about the fact that it runs its company in a way that is consistent with the family’s religious beliefs. These beliefs affect every aspect of the way in which Hobby Lobby is run, whether it’s the fact that even the least of Hobby Lobby’s employees gets paid an hourly amount that’s almost twice as much as minimum wage, or the fact that many of the store’s craft products come complete with little crosses attached to them.

Hobby Lobby has long provided comprehensive insurance for its employees. As part of this insurance, it makes available to its employees 16 different types of contraceptives. Moreover, Hobby Lobby has never said (a) that it would stop covering contraceptives entirely or (b) that contraceptives should be outlawed in America. Instead, it made a very narrow protest to the HHS mandate:  It objected to the fact that the mandate would force it to offer, not 16, but 20 contraceptives to its employees.  The additional 4 contraceptives are or can be used as abortion-causing agents.  The Green family’s religious faith means that it is adamantly opposed to abortion, which it considers murder.

The HHS mandate put Hobby Lobby in an impossible position: It could either use its own money to pay directly for abortifacient drugs or it could pay $475 million a year in penalties. It was this dilemma, it argued, that constituted a substantial burden on its exercise of religion under RFRA. Put another way, Hobby Lobby argued that it faced a Hobson’s choice:  directly fund something it opposes on core religious grounds or go bankrupt.  On these facts, the Supreme Court agreed that Hobby Lobby had satisfied the “substantial burden” requirement under RFRA.

There was something else that the Supreme Court accepted as given: For purposes of the ruling, the Supreme Court accepted as true HHS’s claim that forcing corporations to pay for their female employees’ contraceptives (simply because the Obama administration says it’s unfair not to) serves a compelling government interest.

(As an aside, I was thinking about this “unfair” point. According to my DemProg friends, the demand that corporations pay for contraceptives arises because it’s not fair that women have to shoulder these costs, while men don’t. Let’s put aside the fact that the DemProgs can’t explain why it’s fair that corporations must bear contraception costs.  The really important point is that, if the reason to force corporations to shoulder the burden is so that women don’t have to pay more in costs related to their unique biology just because they are women, corporations should also be required to pay for tampons, sanitary pads and, most importantly, chocolate, all of which are costly menstrual necessities that burden women, not men.  Additionally, corporations should be entitled to learn which employees have gone through menopause, so as to scale back on those uniquely feminine costs.  And now back to the Hobby Lobby case…)

With the Supreme Court having accepted that Hobby Lobby had proved that it was being significantly burdened and that HHS had proved a compelling government interest, the sole issue before the Court was whether HHS was using the least restrictive means to advance its compelling interest. Based on this single, limited issue, the Supreme Court concluded that HHS’s birth control mandate did not meet the RFRA test. The Court had a very simple metric for proving this conclusion: HHS itself handed the Court proof that there was a less restrictive way to serve this compelling interest.

HHS created this less restrictive contraception mandate when religious non-profit organizations objected to paying directly for contraceptives and abortifacients. HHS said that religious institutions could avoid the mandate by signing a document stating that their religious beliefs prevented them from complying with the contraception mandate. With this document, the onus shifts to the insurance company to apply the mandate.  (The Little Sisters of the Poor are challenging this workaround on the ground that it cannot apply to self-insured entities.  Likewise, even if the religious entity has a third party insurance company, the insurance company will simply increase its rates, with the result that the money for the contraceptives and abortifacients will still come from the corporation that has religious objections.  The Supreme Court’s eventual decision should be interesting.)

With HHS having already figured out a less intrusive method for getting “free” contraceptives to women, the Supreme Court held that the same workaround that applies to religious non-profits can apply equally well to closely held corporations if the owners have a sincere belief in a core religious issue. And that’s it. That’s the whole Hobby Lobby decision.

My Facebook explanation was clear enough that those who have been brainwashed into being terrified by the Hobby Lobby decision had only two defenses left. The first was that religious fanatics will use the decision to justify myriad things such as banning birth control nationwide, revoking the rule that corporations must pay for women’s contraceptives, and refusing to hire gays (a fear based upon this letter from a religious leader who clearly hadn’t read the Hobby Lobby decision himself).

The second defense, which I’ll address in the remainder of this post, was that the entire decision is wrong because, as a predicate matter, it treats a corporation as a person. “Corporations aren’t people” my DemProg friends cry, as they’ve been programmed to do since the Citizens United decision.  In other words, Hobby Lobby has no conscience and therefore cannot be treated as a conscientious objector.

I came up with a hypothetical scenario — a probable hypothetical scenario — that should have DemProgs insisting that, yes indeedy, corporations can and should be people — or, at least, Leftist corporations can and should be people.

The year is 2026. Since 2020, Republicans have majorities in Congress and a president in the White House. The wars in Syria and Iraq long ago merged, starting a conflagration that constantly threatens to spill over into every region of the world. The result is the Islamist caliphate equivalent of the Cold War, with the U.S. trying to put out small Islamic fires all over the world in order to de-fang the Sunni and Shia monsters without having to engage them directly on American soil.

The military is more central to American life and survival than ever. Defense costs have therefore skyrocketed, so Republicans went looking for new ways to equip the military. To this end, they noted that America’s business class was arguably benefiting most from the military’s efforts, because businesses were able to carry on and profit primarily because the military kept the Islamists far from American shores. It therefore would be logical for corporations to subsidize a significant part of the war effort.

Based upon this reasoning, in 2022, the Republicans successfully passed a new law, known as the Act for an Affordable Military (“AAM”). The Acts’ supporters affectionately call it “Adopt A Marine.” Its detractors refer to it disdainfully as “America’s A Monster.”

AAM goes far beyond traditional military funding, which relied upon tax revenues funneled to the Pentagon. Instead, AAM directly engages corporate America as an essential part of equipping the American military. Immediately upon the Act’s passage, the Pentagon was tasked with creating rules under AAM (a 3,200 portmanteau document written in vague and broad terms) that would shift onto corporations primary responsibility for equipping troops.

The Pentagon immediately issued a rule mandating that henceforth every corporation will be responsible for outfitting Marines with everything a Marine at war could need:  uniform, pack, weapons . . . the whole megillah.  Moreover, the number of Marine Gear Kits (or “MGKs”) that a corporation must assemble will be equal to the number of employees the corporation has. Thus, a corporation with ten employees must put together 10 MGKs, a corporation with 50 employees must put together 50 MGKs, and so on. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision, this kind of . . . ahem . . . “tax” (i.e., forcing taxpayers to purchase a product, even if they don’t want it themselves) is perfectly legitimate.

Corporations that fail to comply with the MGK mandate will be assessed an annual tax equal to $10,000 per MGK, with no maximum cap. That means that, if a corporation with 50 employees refuses to put together its designated MGKs, it will pay an annual penalty of $500,000. A corporation with 30,000 employees could find itself on the hook for $300,000,000 annually.  Again, the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision legitimized this “penalty” for failure to “pay” the “tax.”

Something else has changed now that the Cold War against the new Caliphate is being carried out by Republicans:  The DemProg peace movement is resurgent. Two of the most active peaceniks, Sol and Luna Giggleweed started out in their home office in 2020 (when Republicans finally re-took Congress and the White House following Elizabeth Warren’s ill-fated four-year presidency), designing, creating, and marketing bumper stickers, window signs, mugs, toilet paper . . . anything that could advance the pacifist cause.

With business booming, the Giggleweeds incorporated, calling their new business “Pacifists United Together Zone” or “PUTZ.” They now have 50 full-time employees working in their green-compliant factory in San Francisco’s SoMa district.

Thanks to the Giggleweed’s business acumen, you can now walk into any trendy store and buy one of PUTZ’s $25 king-size mugs emblazoned with “Live Peacefully or Die.”  If that’s too expensive, for $10 you can get a set of 10 bumper stickers reading “Peace : The New Caliphate Wants It Too.” PUTZ also manufactures the usual complement of sweatshirts with peace signs on them; posters urging people to “Visualize World Peace” or “Pray for Israel’s Destruction”; and the ever-popular Naughty Underwear set, in both multigender and cisgender versions, with “Make Love, Not War” glitter-stamped on the crotch.

For the Giggleweeds, peace isn’t just a gimmick to make a motive; it’s also their core ideology. Both Sol and Luna attended the Bush-era anti-war protests, and they oppose Republican-led wars with every fiber of their DemProg beings.

Significantly, even the Giggleweed’s faith is driven by their pacifism. They are ardent members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (aka “PCUSA”).  In 2018, PCUSA’s governing board formally voted that “We, the PCUSA, oppose all wars, except for those wars dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

Nobody quite knows how it did it, but PCUSA asserted that this vote reflected a core religious principle derived from the Books of Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  PCUSA’s revised doctrine is immune to challenge thanks to the tattered remnants of the First Amendment (which, in 2018, was amended to state that “Except as to matters of human sexuality and gender identityCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .”).

PUTZ employees are as devout as the Giggleweeds. Indeed, many of them came to the Giggleweed’s attention during the Bush War protests.  Without exception, all of the employees belong to PCUSA or affiliated faiths. Their strong anti-war beliefs (unless, of course, the war is waged against Israel) infuse every aspect of their lives.  They are grateful to work at PUTZ, a corporation with a business model that puts pacifism on the front line, so to speak.

For these reasons, the Giggleweeds and their PUTZ employees were horrified when AAM became law and, even worse, when the Pentagon explicitly passed to corporations the responsibility for providing MGKs. PUTZ therefore joined with PCUSA and other like-minded churches and mosques, which are also on the hook for MGKs, to object to the mandate that they directly invest in MGKs or pay a substantial penalty to help fund the “Republican Anti-Caliphate War Machine.”

The Republican establishment was unmoved by anti-AAM protesters. Instead, it took great pleasure in reminding the protesters and litigants that, thanks to agitation from this same cadre of people in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, Congress in 2016 (Year One of Elizabeth Warren’s disastrous administration) amended RFRA to state explicitly that it does not apply to corporations, regardless of the corporation’s size or whether it’s publicly traded or closely held. There is no way out for the Giggleweeds and PUTZ: they either put together MGKs for the Marines, or they pay $500,000 so that someone else can put the MGKs together for them.

To the Giggleweeds and their ilk, the Republicans have only one thing to say:  It’s always nasty when your own chickens come home to roost.

Thursday late afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSorry for the long silence today. It’s just that, well, I’ve been busy. In addition to home maintenance and chauffeuring, I swear that someone has wanted to talk to me (by phone, in person, or through text) every 10 minutes all day long. Honestly, I don’t know why because I really am not that interesting.

Blogging is in my blood, though, and no matter how crazy the day, it’s going to ooze out. Here are a mish-mash of things that caught my eye:

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Nice Deb tipped me off to the fact that Ted Cruz has been tracking Obama’s lawlessness. It’s a long, long ugly list. It’s also a reminder that, although Dems like to say that Obama has issued fewer executive orders than other presidents, the issue isn’t quantity, it’s quality. The others’ executive orders were uninteresting procedural matters. Obama, on the other hand, has used his executive orders to create new law or violate existing law. (See Ted Cruz’s entire collection of lists here.)

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One of the reasons we have laws, especially border laws, is to protect public health.  Obama’s lawlessness means health outbreaks. The article to which I’m linking (one of many today about the scourge coming from the south) professes ignorance as to the source of TB, but I can tell you the sources of TB: immigrants and prisoners. Those are the two places in America that incubate the disease.

No wonder Eileen Toplansky makes a credible argument that Obama is president over the culture of death. Whether it’s his embrace of Islam, of abortion, or of illegal immigrants, or his abiding and manifest hostility to the military, Obama is doing what he can to get Americans killed.

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Daniel Pipes thinks that Bibi Netanyahu might be the right leader at the right time for Israel. I sure hope Pipe’s is right, because Israel no longer has America at her back. What’s ironic is that Obama has turned America-the-nation against Israel just as individual Americans are supporting Israel more than ever.

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Proving that it’s not totally immune to the death of teenage boys, the Obama administration breathed a sigh of relief when a 16-year-old teenage Arab youth turned up dead in Israel. Whew! The narrative is all good: Israelis are just as bad as Arabs.  After first being resolutely silent about the Israeli victims, and then softly castigating the “cycle of violence,” the Obama administration is in full throated weeping mode for that Arab boy (who may actually have been a victim of homophobia). Richard Baehr has more.

But of course, as my very dear friend Rob Miller says, to the Obama administration, Israel’s always in the wrong.

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I once had a friend who got into fights with everyone. At first, I accepted the friend’s version of events, which was that this person was mean, and that person careless, and the other person stupid, and the next person vicious. Eventually, of course, I figured out that the single common denominator in all the fights (often with people I knew) was my friend — who is a friend no longer. Daniel Greenfield’s post about Islam being the problem reminded me of that old, unhappy friendship.

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The Left’s war against the Redskin’s team name is not just a random happenstance. It is part of the way the Left functions, picking small battles so as to avoid large ones, fighting free nations so as to empower slave nations, and generally driving the culture down, down, down. Dennis Prager explains.

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I was going to label this link “everything you always wanted to know about political emails but were afraid to ask.” Then, having read the article, I realized you were right to be afraid. Pretty nasty fundraising forces are at work to frighten and harass the American people, and that’s true for both sides of the political aisle.  In an information age, he who screams most hysterically apparently gets the most money.

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We all dream of one day meeting our soul mate.  America’s shame is that its president’s soul mate is Bill Ayers.

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Daniel Henninger slices and dices Barack Obama’s totalitarian disdain for Congress.  (That link might be behind a pay wall.)  Sadly, the Left half of Congress agrees with Obama and is anxious to cede its power to the executive branch.

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Obama’s disdain for law has infected a lone Colorado court clerk who, in total violation of Colorado law, is issuing same sex marriage licenses just because she wants to. She’s totally correct that the 10th Circuit is going to change the law any minute but, until it does (a) those licenses are invalid and, let me say again, (b) she’s breaking the law.  The Republican state attorney is probably right, though, not to throw her Leftist derriere in jail.  She’d just become a martyr.  What would you do to punish her so as to avoid her martyrdom?

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Hillary will say anything to get elected.  If she needs to sell herself to America, she’ll hew slightly to the center.  But when the chips are down, she reverts to her intellectual home, which is the hard left.  Paul Kengor explains how Hillary readily abandoned both religion and intelligence in order to pander to the base about same-sex marriage and the newly discovered right that employers must pay for their employee’s birth control.

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On the subject of the Hobby Lobby case, I’ve got a cartoon and a few comments:

Not my bosss business

When I haven’t been talking to people today, I’ve spent a bit of time on Facebook trying to convince Lefties that (a) the Hobby Lobby decision is not five old white men denying women across America access to birth control and (b) that none of my hysterically unhappy friends has made a credible case explaining why it’s suddenly become a fundamental right that employers must pay for employees to have all possible forms of conception. I’m making no headway whatsoever. They’re in total paranoid hysteria mode and are not amendable to anything but a solid left hook, which I cannot deliver via Facebook.

(Ten minutes after I wrote the above, I got a message from someone who is Facebook friends with a gay man who imagines that concentration camps and gas chambers are around the corner, thanks to Hobby Lobby.  She was unable to comment directly on my post, since she’s not a friend, but she thanked me very much for my sensible, logical explication of the case.  I was grateful.)

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My DemProgs’ hysterically-based stupidity is fully equal to the stupidity of this New Yorker author, who tries to claim that Hobby Lobby is no different from the Taliban. The article shows (a) a complete failure to understand controlling law, which would support the governments compelling (and traditional) interesting in preventing epidemic diseases to trump an individual’s or corporation’s religious scruples, and (b) the Leftist impulse to say that there’s no difference between modern Christianity, which ended slavery, child labor, the 80 hour work week, etc., on the one hand, and the Taliban, which wants to enslave everyone it doesn’t actually kill, on the other hand.

Of course, no one really expects anything approach intelligence from the New Yorker anymore. In the old days, even when it was wrong, it was wrong in a smart way. Now it’s just plain ole stupid.

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Veterans died so Obamacare could live.

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Here’s an interesting bit of historic trivia: The baby whom the Nazis touted as the ne plus ultra of Aryan beauty . . . was Jewish.

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Oh, my goodness. I’m still laughing:

Hat tip: iOwnTheWorld

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I thought I’d end this post by throwing in a couple of old Irving Berlin videos, made back in the day when America knew her enemies were and was proud to fight them. Longtime readers have seen these chestnuts before, so I’ll just apologize for the fact that they’re sort of my go-to videos when I’m feeling I live in a country besieged.

Before you watch the videos, you may want to remember that the American character was different back then.

(In addition to my own efforts, many thanks to Earl Aagard for his help finding interesting material.)

Wednesday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s quite amazing watching DemProg heads explode on my “real me” Facebook page. To hear them tell it, the Hobby Lobby decision was four white religious men banning women’s right to contraception across America because a mean-spirited Christian corporation demanded that they do so.

I’ve been doing my best to say that (a) Hobby Lobby always provided a broad range of contraception coverage to its employees, and is only protesting the fact that the government is forcing it to pay for contraception that can be used to cause abortions; and (b) that the Court’s narrow holding said only that the Health & Human Services contraception mandate, which is not law under Obamacare, does not pass the test set by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which President Clinton approvingly signed. My comments are greeted with silence.

But there’s no room for silence here. I have a lot to say, and I delight in your comments. So off we go….

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I may as well start with a good Hobby Lobby round-up. All of these posts were very helpful when I was trying to craft a short, fact-filled response to confused DemProgs on Facebook.

Both Elizabeth Warren’s and Hillary Clinton’s responses to the decision show that (a) it’s amazing they graduated from law school, let alone, in Warren’s case, became teachers and (b) that they’re each as bad as the other, and that’s saying a lot. Let me say again what I learned from taking Warren’s Banking Law class a long time ago: she’s soft-spoken and mean; she’s a muddled thinker; she’s an incoherent communicator; and there’s a lot of anger there. (Warning:  this article might be behind a pay wall, but you can demolish that pay wall for a mere 99 cents per month.)

I found an exceptionally good trio of cases from the crew at National Review (which really excels at this type of analysis:

Charles C. W. Cooke points out that a great deal of the DemProg’s hysteria derives from the fact that they don’t understand that the Supreme Court’s role is to interpret law, not to enact it. That’s not surprising. DemProgs want their (not any, but their) president to enact law and, trained by Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade — both of which involved the Court creating rights out of whole cloth, for better or worse — actually believe that the court exists to enact a DemProg-approved agenda.

Ramesh Ponnuru explains how illogical, hysterical, and unrealistic Ruth Ginsburg was in her dissent — something that explains why DemProgs are so wildly excited by what she wrote.

Ross Douthat notes that DemProgs are exceptionally sore, and dishonest, winners. This reflects the fact that the Hobby Lobby decision peeled out a tiny corner of religious freedom in the face of a vast government takeover of . . . everything.

And finally, one of Jonah Goldberg’s best, in which he explains out that it wasn’t the Court putting the employer in women’s uterus, it was the Obama administration. That accurate analysis kind of puts a different spin on this poster, which DemProgs are excitedly passing around through social media:

Who makes medical decisions

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Obama’s a chart topper: After thinking it over, Americans agree that Barack Obama is the worst president this country has seen since the end of WWII (and Ronald Reagan is the best). The only problem with this confirmation of my bias is that, for me to be proved right, the country has had to suffer terribly. It’s no fun being Cassandra.

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On the subject of Obamacare, Kevin Williamson allows himself a bit of schadenfreude, and it makes for brilliant reading.

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When I heard about the IRS’s “dog at my hard drive” excuse for the missing emails from Lois Lerner and six other key employees, I immediately said “that’s spoliation” and it’s bad.  It turns out that  the IRS’s conduct was even worse than I remembered at the time I made this statement.

The IRS wasn’t just hiding stuff from Congress, which could be classified as political game-playing. By the time it lost the emails, the back-up and the hard-drive, it was engaged in litigation that placed upon it a heavy legal burden to do everything possible to preserve any material that could be germane to the lawsuits. A judge with any reverence for the law should come down on the IRS like a ton of bricks for this behavior, even if it was “merely” negligent, as opposed to a deliberate fraud on the court.

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The Founders did not imagine an America of incredible wisdom, by incredible wisdom, and for incredible wisdom. Madison readily envisioned that the government would be able to function despite man’s worst nature. However, even the Founders’ checks and balances didn’t comprehend a president and his supporters who would willingly cast aside constitutional governance.

Sadly, judging by changes made to the AP US history test, which drives US history curriculum at high schools across America, things aren’t going to get better any time soon. Since our children are prevented from learning the Founders’ wisdom, they can’t institute those ideas into their understanding of government.

And, while Boehner’s lawsuit is a step in the right direction, I remain dubious that it will accomplish anything. I’m with Andrew McCarthy in that I fear it will simply see the House cede power to the courts. At the rate Congress is ceding power to the other branches of government, it becomes nothing but an expensive Kabuki piece.

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The kind of people who vote for Hillary won’t care that, on July 4th, this potential presidential candidate has decided to spend her time with a British, America-bashing newspaper. That’s what DemProgs do, and they’re damn proud of it too.

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For years, people have been trying to figure out what the “Obama doctrine” is. Jeffrey Anderson thinks he knows: the Obama doctrine is Obama’s belief that, when Americans voted him into office, they got a twofer — both a president and a legislator.

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Earlier today, I posted that, whether one agrees or not with the cheerleader who is also a big game hunter, disagreement is not a basis for censorship. DemProg, chart-topping songstress Diane Warren has different idea altogether. She thinks that disagreement is a basis for murder. Assuming Warren survives the coming ISIS sharia takeover, she should fit in quite well with the Islamist mindset.

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I’m not a BBC fan, but this rap version of WWI’s origins is cute.

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And finally, pictures!

Democrats are brave enough

Me myself and I

Plenty of room on the calendar

Reasons for owning guns

Illegal immigrants displace veterans

(Thanks to Caped Crusader, the Family Back East, and Earl Aagaard for their help with this post.)

John Oliver manages to pack all the Left’s stupid Hobby Lobby arguments into one “comedy” shtick

HobbyLobbyStowOhioBecause my husband is an ardent Jon Stewart fan, he’s also a John Oliver fan and instantly started watching Oliver’s new solo HBO show, Last Week Tonight.  Moreover, because John Oliver appears to be slightly less doctrinaire than Stewart (which means that NPR ludicrously tries to cast him as a centrist), not to mention obviously more intelligent, I occasionally watch too in order to get the view from the Left.

Sometimes, Oliver manages to get it right, as happened last night when he pointed out how ridiculous it is for Obama to announce that the U.S. will invest $500 million in Syria’s “carefully vetted moderate militias.”  Oliver also got deservedly positive press from across the political spectrum for his rant against the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules.

Most of the time, though, Oliver’s just a garden variety DemProg with a nice British accent.  His most recent show was no exception.  For example, Oliver went on a lengthy attack against Uganda’s anti-gay laws.  I hold no brief for anti-gay laws, but I find the DemProgs’ recent obsession with them disgustingly hypocritical.

For decades, sharia-governed countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc., have had the harshest anti-gay laws in the world.  In the Palestinian territories, while the laws aren’t officially on the books, they’re routinely carried out, with the result that gay Palestinians are desperate to get to Israel, where they’ll safe.  Why so desperate?  Because in the Muslim world, the punishment for homosexuality is death and Muslim governments and militias aggressively execute those sentences.

Despite the egregious, and well-publicized, human rights offenses against gays in the Muslim world, DemProgs have been absolutely silent.  They may love gays, but not enough to challenge Islam over the issue.  I’ve searched, but cannot find any evidence that either Jon Stewart or John Oliver ever addressed homicidal Islamic homophobia on Jon Stewart’s show.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

What this means, of course, is that DemProgs will get exercised about homophobia only when it’s safe to do so.  Neither Russians nor Ugandans are going to hunt DemProgs down and decapitate them as the end to any argument.  Moreover, the attack on Ugandan homophobia gives DemProgs a nice double whammy, because it allows them to make blanket condemnations of Christianity while they’re at it — again, knowing that the attacked Christians will pray for their souls, rather than behead them.

Uganda reflects the DemProgs’ usual moral cowardice and hypocrisy.  The attack on the Hobby Lobby decision is worse, because it’s profoundly intellectually dishonest.  You can watch the video and then I’ll address the two worst logical fallacies packed into just a few minutes of Oliver’s mildly amusing and completely wrong rant (Warning: Not Safe For Work):

Oliver’s preliminary attack is made directly against Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, a closed corporation owned by Mennonites, that makes parts for kitchen cabinets. Oliver acknowledges that Hobby Lobby is a tightly held family corporation, that the owners are open about the integration between their faith and their business, and that their faith leads them to treat their employees exceptionally well, and to be extremely charitable. Of course, Oliver cannot end on that final note, so he then crudely attacks Hobby Lobby for selling products that customers can put to obscene or dangerous uses.

Oliver then accuses the Conestoga Wood owners of hypocrisy because they don’t want to pay for drugs and procedures that take a human life. He makes the nonsensical argument that their products can be used to kill people, so that they should have no standing to argue that the government cannot force to kill.

Both these arguments are red herrings, meant to district the audience from the intellectual failing in his core argument.  That argument, which flows from his direct attacks on Hobby Lobby and Conestoga sounds so reasonable on its face that many will miss how dishonest it is:  Oliver claims that Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections to the Obamacare birth control and abortifacient argument indistinguishable from the usual complaints people make about government expenditures:   “What these companies are arguing is that the sincerity of their beliefs should allow them a line-item veto over federal law. But government is not an a la carte system what you can pick and choose based on your beliefs.”

Having said this, Oliver then shows a short montage of people saying “I don’t want to pay for” such things as “Israel policies,” war, and “Mexican prostitutes.”  The audience laughs uproariously, understanding that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are just more whining taxpayers, indistinguishable from others who object to paying taxes to fund American policies.

Oliver weaves these topics together so skillfully that someone who isn’t paying attention might miss the fact that there’s a difference between tax dollars being pooled together and spent on a variety of things (and more on that later) and a government mandate ordering people to open their wallets and pay directly to the purveyor of something they find religiously objectionable. The two things are entirely different, with the latter being a direct affront on an individual’s sensibilities. (And, although Oliver would prefer to ignore this fact, closely held corporations are a business structure through which individuals operate.)

As an aside, and one that gives even more weight to Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections, one can make a very good argument that most of the federal government’s tax dollar expenditures vastly exceed the Fed’s mandate. The Founder’s understanding was that tax dollars would be used for traditional government operations: defense, transportation, a functioning judicial system, public health, etc. Under this reading, those Americans who object to non-traditional government expenditures are correct. But most certainly those who object to being forced to pay for a product that clashes with core doctrinal sensibilities are correct under both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which is the law the Supremes used in deciding the case) and the First Amendment.

 

Friday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesThe Taliban has hit Marin County (indirectly).  Marin County is headquarters for Roots of Peace, an admirable charity that seeks to advance agricultural development in poverty-stricken areas.  It has an outpost in Afghanistan, where it seeks to enable the Afghani people to feed themselves.  The Taliban can’t have that kind of thing happening in its country.  It therefore sent off some foot soldiers to attack the Roots of Peace Kabul office, killing a child in the process.  If radical Islam had a cable-TV station, it’s motto would be “All war, all the time.”  One wonders if this will be a bit of reality that mugs that peaceniks who are so self-centered that they cannot envision cultures that have, as their core value, a desire for perpetual warfare.

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David Clarke, Milwaukee’s Sheriff, made a splash when he encouraged Milwaukee’s beleaguered citizens to arm themselves:

Police chief get a gun

I think Clarke may have found a kindred spirit in Detroit Police Chief James Craig. During a press conference in which he discussed the rising numbers of homeowners (successfully) using arms to defend themselves, he had this to say:

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference last week that in his 37-year career, he’s never seen as many homeowners defending themselves by shooting intruders. Craig told The News in January he felt the crime rate could be lowered if more “good Americans” were armed, because he said criminals would think twice about attacking.

“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig said. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides. It’s interesting that these incidents go across gender lines.”

We want more law enforcement like Clarke and Craig, and less like Marin’s Second Amendment-challenged sheriff.

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I also want more of this:  An Ebony magazine editor went on a rant against conservative blacks; got called on it; claimed that the person calling her out was a white racist; when she learned that the person calling her out was black apologized for calling him white; and then doubled down on rants that were both anti-conservative black and anti-white.  (That’s not want I want to see more of.  It’s this next thing I like.)  Normally, Republicans would run away screaming from this type of confrontation, leaving the racist Leftist in control of the field.  This time, the RNC demanded an apology . . . and got it.

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Speaking of the Left’s racial obsessions:  Any half-sentient being knows that Stephen Colbert’s shtick is that he created a faux-conservative character who is pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc., and that Colbert, a marginally-talented generic Leftist, uses this character to claim that all conservatives are pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc.  That’s why it’s hysterically funny that, when his show tried to  highlight (non-existent) Republican racism by having his character ostensibly tweet out a crude anti-Asian stereotype, the Asian community got riled and demanded that Colbert be fired for being an anti-Asian racist.  Asians should stop getting their knickers in a twist about stupid TV shows and should start looking at where their real politic interests lie.  (Hint:  It’s not the Democrat Party.)

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Leland Yee has been around forever as a fixture in Bay Area politics.  As his name implies, he’s Asian, he’s hard Left, and he represents San Francisco and parts of San Mateo in the California legislature.  Since Sandy Hook, Yee’s been very vocal about being anti-guns.  He also just got indicted for gun running, including trying to sell arms to Islamist groups.  The MSM has been trying hard to ignore his story, as it’s been trying hard to ignore a bunch of other stories about spectacularly corrupt Democrat figures.  Howie Carr therefore serves a useful public service when he calls out the media, the Democrat party, and the crooks.

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Speaking of crooks, Harry Reid claims never to have called Republicans liars when it comes to Obamacare, despite footage of him calling Republicans liars because of Obamacare.  There’s some debate on the Right about whether Reid’s gone senile or is just trying out his version of The Big Lie.  My theory is that we’re seeing malignant narcissism in play.  As I’ve said a zillion times before in speaking about Obama, malignant narcissists never “lie” because their needs of the moment always dictate the truth of the moment.  That is, if they need to say it, it must be true.  (It’s nice to be your own God.)

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Keith Koffler identifies the four roots of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy.  I agree with him, although I would add a fifth, which is that Obama desperately wants to see America knocked down to size as punishment for her myriad sins.  Perhaps Obama should read the DiploMad, as he explains why Russia, the country before which Obama is now weakly doing obeisance, has always been much worse than America could ever be, both as a protector and an enemy.

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Adm. Jeremiah Denton, Jr. has died at 89.  The public learned about Denton during the Vietnam War when, during one of the forced confessions that the North Vietnamese liked to televise to the world, he blinked out a Morse code message — “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” — thereby providing the first proof America had that the Commies were torturing American POWs.  During the same interview, he bravely said he supported his country, a statement that led to more torture.  Denton was also America’s longest-held POW, spending almost 8 years in the Hell that was the Hanoi Hilton, and various related prisons.  During that entire time, he was brutally and repeatedly tortured and he spent four years in solitary confinement (where he was tortured).  My heart bleeds when I read what happened to him.  But Denton came home and he got on with a full, rich life, including six years in the U.S. Senate.  If anyone deserves to Rest In Peace, it is Adm. Denton.

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I don’t think much of Stanford.  It’s nothing personal.  I think all the big universities (and most of the small ones) have become intellectually corrupt.  However, Prof. Michael McConnell, at Stanford Law School, has somewhat restored my faith in Stanford by writing one of the clearest analyses I’ve yet seen of the problems facing the government in the Hobby Lobby case.  Of course, law and logic will not sway Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer, all of whom are activists much more concerned with making policy than with applying law.  As happens too often, Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote — a reality that places way too much power in the hands of a man who seems too often to blow, not where the Constitution takes him, but wherever his fancy for the day alights.

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And to end on a light note, two more ridiculously funny Kid Snippets, offering an inspired combination of kid wisdom lip synched by some remarkably talented adult actors:

 

Four links about abortion and government coercion *UPDATED*

Newborn baby seconds after deliveryI’m running late, but I had to share these four things with you:

First,  a New York Times opinion piece saying that it would be a gross travesty if the Supreme Court were to deny Hobby Lobby employees their absolute right to have a religious company pay for their birth control and abortifacient pills.

Second, an opinion piece by Pastor Rick Warren explaining why it would be a gross constitutional travesty if the Supreme Court were to hold that the First Amendment is limited to allowing people to attend a House of Worship, rather than to live their lives according to their faith.

I leave it to you to determine which of the two articles makes more constitutional, practical, and moral sense.

And to round things out:

Third, a news story from England about the fact that, not only did hospital’s incinerate fetus corpses (from both miscarriages and abortions) in a regular incinerator, two of them used the corpses to help heat the buildings.  I don’t think even the Nazis used the crematoria as heaters.

Fourth, a news story from England saying that the head of England’s largest abortion provider (and, presumably, a feminist) said that it’s perfectly fine to abort infants simply because they’re girls.  That is the reductio ad absurdum of abortion and feminism.

UPDATE:  AJ Strata has a lot of excellent thoughts about England’s newest energy source.