Rise of the right-wing double-speak machine and the Sandra Fluke affair


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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232 Responses

  1. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Damn, it’s a bad day to be a conservative at the LoOG. First the gut punch, now the upper cut.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Well, I don’t mean all conservatives – just the conservative-entertainment-movement apparatus.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Yah, that should go without saying but it needs to be said. On the other hand, who exactly are these moderate, traditional GOPers who we never seem to hear about? Maybe they’ve been so marginalized by the crazies that their collective voice is inaudible, or they aren’t really speaking up about what’s going on.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        Erik Kain March 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        Well, I don’t mean all conservatives – just the conservative-entertainment-movement apparatus.


        Rush Limbaugh is on his own on this one, Mr. Kain.  He’s probably big enough to brazen it out.  If Don Imus [“nappy-headed ho’s”] was Gary Hart, Limbaugh is Bill Clinton.

        And even Imus made it back into the game.  It was only talk radio and they were only jokes, after all.  Bad jokes, but just jokes nonetheless.  Talk radio, not real life.

        Bill Maher is a consummate douchebag.  Does that mean we should not re-elect President Obama?

        If I were a kool-aid drinker, I’d try to make that case with a straight face.  But I ain’t, and I can’t.

        Great post, Erik.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

    Failure to subsidize X is prohibition of X.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      Failure to subsidize X (when X is a subset of Y, where Y is generally subsidized without controversy)  is not as bad, but on the same continuum as, prohibition of X.


    • Avatar karl says:

      Mr. Kain is so on target it defies belief.

      I’m having a bit of trouble, though, deciphering your point — are you offering another trope (used by both sides!) to the listed three without comment or are there lines between which I should read?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Yah, me too. What he wrote doesn’t seem like an argument either side is making, so it’s hard to tell what the hell it means.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          This comment was written after Dan Miller’s.

          I’m always frustrated by statements that say “this doesn’t seem like an argument either side is making” when someone above made an argument that seems like that argument.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            I have to admit, I’m surprised you disagree with my statement (if indeed you do, and if you don’t I apologize).  It seems like it should be pretty non-controversial.

            Here’s my point–if you’ve got a problem with the government subsidizing health insurance at all, or setting minimum standards that all health insurance should meet, then you should say it explicitly.  It’s not an illegitimate position to take, by any means, but it’s a view that will attract little popular support and prove basically impossible to implement in the real world.  Them’s the breaks–this is an argument that you’ve already lost in the larger world.

            If, on the other hand, you concede that the government can subsidize and regulate health insurance, than to complain about subsidizing birth control makes it sound as if you’ve got a specific problem with subsidizing birth control as opposed to subsidizing arthritis medication.  I don’t think that’s your intention, although I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

            But here’s the larger point–by arguing that government should not subsidize or set minimum standards for health insurance, you’re lending your strength to those who believe that whether or not the government regulates health insurance, it certainly shouldn’t subsidize (gasp!) birth control.  You’re essentially Ralph Nader in the 2000 election in this argument–pushing your own principals (Green party/no govt subsidies for health insurance) at the expense of people who, if not perfect, are much closer to you than the plausible other option.

            The problem, Jaybird, is that you refuse to recognize that you’ve lost the larger war, and have no plausible way of winning it.  So when you act as if that’s a possibility, you don’t accomplish what you hope to.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I live in a state that has legalized medicinal marijuana.

              Drive up and down Platte Avenue, drive up and down Colorado, you will see a mind-boggling number of stores that specialize in selling marijuana to anyone who comes in with a card.

              I am one of those wacky “legalize it!” folks, myself… but then we get to the issue of “MMJ” and it seems to me that there are three attitudes:

              1. MMJ should not be available to anyone at all
              2. I don’t care if you use MMJ (or MJ for that matter) but pay for it yourself
              3. Money should be taken from us all, as a society, to subsidize your MMJ use

              It does not seem obvious to me, at all, that 2 is “on the same continuum” as 1. At all.

              And it doesn’t seem obvious that the numbers change, at all, when anything else is swapped out for MMJ.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                But let’s be honest–on health care, at least, we will never reach point 2 (I think this is a good thing, but YMMV).  So you’re faced with a choice between 1 and 3.  Most of the commentary I’ve seen from you amounts to opposition to 3–and in the current environment, that’s an endorsement of 1.  And I think, given your stated principles, that 3 is the better choice.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, so all I have to do is abandon my principles? SIGN ME UP!!!Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Well, no, but ideally your actions would take the actual state of the world into account, as well as your principles.  Frex: I consider the ACA to be inferior to a single-payer health care system (not least because it leads to arguments like these).  But if I’d have been in the Senate, I’d have voted for it gladly; moreover, I didn’t oppose the bill, or lend rhetorical cover to those who did.  Why? Because of the realistic options (ACA or nothing), the ACA was clearly the better choice.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Well, no, but ideally your actions would take the actual state of the world into account, as well as your principles

                At the risk of being caricatured, fundamental moral principles are fact insensitive.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                I am wary of getting into a philosophical debate with you, as it’s clearly terrain you’re more knowledgeable on than me.  That said, even if fundamental moral principles are fact insensitive, that doesn’t disprove my point–to say otherwise would completely obviate any political dealmaking or strategy.  Let’s assume that Jaybird’s preferences are 2>3>1 (this is a hypothetical only).  If he judges that 2 is impossible and that pushing for 2 makes 1 more likely than 3, he’s not morally obligated to push for 2.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                I am going to disagree on this. what we vote for is different from what we say. When we vote, strategic considerations do seem to matter. However, when talk and make arguments our primary purpose is to find out the truth. Intuitively (for whatever that is worth, which admittedly isnt much) there is a certain odiousness about lying in order to effect the better policy.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                “when talk and make arguments our primary purpose is to find out the truth.”

                Lying isn’t necessarily at issue, though.  After all, nobody is forcing hypothetical Jaybird to discuss this issue at all–he could simply surf over to the open thread or go read something else entirely or write a blog post about wrestling.

                I agree, there’s an intuitive ugliness about lying in a debate like this.  But there’s no sin in not stating your position at all, when you feel that that statement is likely to be counterproductive.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So I have the option of just looking the other way… hey, is it true that i would likely be rewarded by my peers (at the very least, not punished by them) as a potential outcome to this silence on my part?Report

              • Avatar lisa says:

                The birthcontrol they are talking about is not just like birth control pills or condoms, it is medical ABORTION, (murder of children). That is the main fight about this forced abortion medicine thru insurance. The left is trying to hide the fact that the problem is the abortion pill killing babies, saying the right is against normal birthcontrol, but its a lot more serious than just condoms. Big difference.Report

              • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

                Try looking at it this way: for the Catholic Church, being forced to pay for birth control is morally similar to forcing gun control advocates to subsidize uzi purchases.

                Now, a gun control advocate may wish that no one could buy an uzi; they may also believe that, under the current law, anyone who wants to spend their own cash on it is entitled to.

                But they can damn well object to being forced to pay for it.Report

              • Avatar Jon H says:

                “But they can damn well object to being forced to pay for it.”

                Then it seems the question is, when an organization funds healthcare for its employees, at what point does the money change from being the organization’s money, to being the employee’s money?

                If an employee of the Catholic Church only has income from the Catholic Church, then if that employee buys birth control, the Church is, in fact ‘paying for it’. The Church just realizes that they can’t demand control at that level, so they don’t require employees to submit all medical-related receipts or check employee genitals for latex residue.

                Seems the solution is simple. Arrange things so that when the Church pays for health insurance, the money becomes the employee’s money in some accounting sense, on its way to the insurance company or plan manager.


              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I tend to agree that contraception to exclude from a general subsidy is not on the same continuum with prohibiting it, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t/shouldn’t be quite unhappy about it.  YMM simply V. (You’ve still not shown where people are claiming lack of subsidy is tantamount to prohibition, rather than simply, by your lights, being inordinately upset about a lack of subsidy in a way you’d only be by a prohibition.)

                Now, this is all up to the individual to decide how upset to be about a given thing that is not subsidized when many other things, more or less a whole category of things like it, are.  You can be super upset about MMJ being excluded if you want, by all means.  But what people are upset about is the singling out of a mainstream medication for exclusion from subsidy because of a relatively inscrutable religious conviction.  If it weren’t for that objection, this kind of medication would almost certainly be included in these plans.  But the objections of a few are dictating otherwise for a lot of people who don’t share those objections right now.  That’s what has people upset – that an otherwise mainstream medication is being singled out over a parochial concern.

                With MMJ, that is not the situation.  MMJ is not a mainstream, accepted medical product.  It’s a legitimate medical product in my view, but it’s not mainstream.  A general attitude exists that it’s not something that is going to, absent special objection, be included in medical plans.  (I actually quite expect that to change over time, though likely only for delivery systems that don’t involve tarring one’s lungs quite so much.)  Now, I agree that this number flip doesn’t strictly change the notion that you can be as upset at this exclusion as people are about the contraception exclusion – you can! – but you don’t have the same access to an argument about a parochial objection controlling a whether a mainstream product is singled out for exclusion from subsidy in saying why being upset about its exclusion is reasonable.



              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                to exclude contraceptionReport

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            Just because someone is very exercised about something not being subsidized, and for you the thing would have to be prohibited in order for you to be exercised about it, does not mean that the simple fact that the person is very exercised about the lack of subsidy means they are claiming that the lack of subsidy is a prohibition (which is the only way your claim of Orwellianism is valid).  They can just be very upset about the lack of subsidy per se, and not be claiming that it is a prohibition.  Dan says in the case where something is singled out to be excluded from a more general subsidy, he feels that’s (I assume in some cases, depending what the reasons for the singling out might be) almost as bad as if it were a prohibition.  In other words, it’s 1) a factual assertion opinion that it’s not a prohibition, and 2) an opinion that, nevertheless, what it is is bad.  That’s not Orwellian.

            But, of course, you haven’t been at all clear about whom you have seen saying that a lack of subsidy is a prohibition, and where, so perhaps you can produce a different example.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            JB, noone in this debate is arguing the denying subsidies = prohibition. Not even Dan Miller made that argument.  I do think there’s an argument to the effect that denying subsidies would prevent some people from accessing birth control, but that’s a different argument, one which may have purely pragmatic merits.

            That isn’t to say that your point doesn’t have merits. It’s just that you’re arguing straw when making that point the way you did.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              It did show up the the conversation here. Below us there is a discussion on “The War on Contraception”.

              Is it really strawmanny?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                You’re still conflating your feeling that only prohibitions are worth freaking out over (using War On language etc.) with other people’s feeling differently. People can feel like, in a given context, an exclusion from a subsidy, seems as serious as a War On that thing.  They don’t need to be claiming it’s a prohibition.  That’s just how you feel.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I have no problem with people feeling however they want about anything. If I have somehow communicated that I oppose the feeling of things, then I have failed as a communicator.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Okay, they can feel it; can they say it? Do you agree that a person can talk about a War on Contraception without that being an ipso facto claim that a failure to subsidize is prohibition? If someone said somewhere in the other link you give that this failure to subsidize is a prohibition, then fair enough.  My point is just that this War On rhetoric is not a claim that failure to subsidize is prohibition.  As serious as it, perhaps, but that’s an individual judgement.  But not identical to it.  People can feel like a failure to subsidize in this context is as serious as to call it a War on Contraception, but that doesn’t mean they’re saying it’s prohibition. To they say are on that basis is strawmanny.  Fo course, if they said it in the other thread, then they said it.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Jaybird – this is a dodge given the actual context of healthcare in this country.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        The actual context of healthcare in this country is one of ever-encroaching entitlement and counter-arguments that take on the weakest arguments of the opposition without noticing the stronger ones.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          This nation has a gut full of this reactionary nonsense about government involvement in health care.   We’ve got government involved in regulating banks and insurance companies.  Care to opine on the need to regulate them?   How many times does the “free” market have to blow itself to bits before some people get a clue?

          Even the states oblige motorists to obtain liability insurance, but let common sense and statistics point to the need to create a larger pool of lives and lo do these innumerate jackasses rise to their hind legs to decry these Ever Encroaching Entitlements.   Never mind that they’re arguing against their own best interests, both financially and socially, put aside that the hugely profitable insurance companies are leading around by the nose, ever was it the case that mankind will eventually do the right thing once he’s exhausted every bad alternative.

          This is 2012.   Every other developed nation has some form of state involvement in health care.   It costs them less as a society and they have better outcomes.   Some people just won’t learn.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            And, again, the two choices are “force organizations to cover birth control” or “anarchy”.

            From what I recall of 2011, the living didn’t envy the dead, Blaise.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              I’ll thank you ever so much to never again put quotes around anything I didn’t say.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Pardon me. I’ll rephrase.

                Opposition to a recent change in policy grounded in religious freedom is argued against as if the person was opposed to any state involvement in insurance regulation at all culminating in: “This is 2012.   Every other developed nation has some form of state involvement in health care.”

                As if the two choices were between the change and anarchy.


              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                The matter has been easily settled.   Let the insurance company pay for those wicked old birth control pills.

                Is this religious freedom?   It looks more like religious constraint.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      More to the point, Jaybird, a failure to subsidize X is a War on X.Report

      • Avatar Liberty60 says:

        No we just subsidize A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,Y, and Z.

        X offends our moral principles.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Which makes it war, naturally speaking. Because we’re not paying for it.


          • Avatar Liberty60 says:

            I grant your point- that not funding something is not the same as declaring war on it.

            But there are two things going on here- one is the Church not wanting to offer health plans with contraception;

            The other is the conservative movement demonizing contraception and those who use it.

            Where they merge is the Church saying “we gladly offer health plans that cover Viagra but are morally offended by plans that offer contraception.”

            So yeah, calling it a war on women/ contraception is reasonable political phrasing.Report

            • Avatar Jak says:

              Well yes. But then the Catholic Church doesn’t like vasectomies or condoms either, and the former at least is not cheap, and well neither are Trojans.

              I’m not sure how this controversy has become about *women*, but it *has*. It didn’t have to be either.Report

              • Avatar lisa says:

                I’m a woman and it doesn’t cost that much money to get birth control. No insurance policy has EVER paid for my birth control in my entire life and I never expected it too, especially thru a church or a Christian employer or anyone who is against it. Any Christian being against it makes total sense to me, as I see the fed. government trying to force the purchase of something on someone that is against their religious beliefs . I’m a Christian and I don’t believe in the medical abortion pill or abortion at all. I’m not against some forms of birth control but I would not want someone pushing my church or any Christian individual to buy insurance that covered things that we ARE against. I do know how the left turned this thing into a “womans right” problem, b/c thats the only false argument they thought they could win, but they will never win this arguement, it isnt possible, they have no defense, period. I never thought I’d see the day when americans would literally go to war with each other for the ability to kill their own children, with someone elses money, even if it was the churches money. Shame on those women who argued for this law. They could get birth control for $50 that would last 5-10 years, or others that cost $25 per month max. What a bunch of political bologna, pushing abortion on Christians just to try to make Obamacare look legitimate while stripping even more of our liberties, day by day with this muslim in charge. Religious freedom was the main reason for forming this country, THE MAIN REASON!!! Forgetting history means you will repeat it. Shame on you people.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                This GOPish “Lisa” comment smells of sock puppetry.  Call in the LoOG IP address cops!  Seriously.  Sounds bogus, bigtime.

                Although it’s a pretty solid argument.  So much the tragedy of the internet’s democratization, particularization, and ad hominization of truth.

                I suspect “Lisa’s” real name is Jim.  Which blows the whole thing…


              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                I don’t know, at one point, I thought Robert Cheeks was a liberal pretending to be a conservative to make conservative looks as bad as possible (he’s just too good to be true, or too bad to be true, so to speak). It’s possible there ARE these types of conservatives, surely? They can’t all be as reasonable as you, Tom.Report

              • Avatar Jon H says:

                “Well yes. But then the Catholic Church doesn’t like vasectomies or condoms either, and the former at least is not cheap, and well neither are Trojans.”

                I wonder if Catholic Church health insurance covers Viagra for unmarried men.Report

      • Avatar BSK says:

        And saying Happy H is a War on C.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Which has always been ridiculous. And rightfully called so, I would wager, by those who are saying that there is a War on Contraception.


          • Avatar BSK says:

            They are both equally silly. Slogans tend to be.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            W on C has been called ridiculous based on a denial of a substantive case for there being any problem of note, not based on a rejection of hyperbolic  “War on” language.  If you can find an example of someone decrying the language itself in the case if WoC and then embracing it when it came time to talk about a War on Women, great, but denying the substantive case for the War on Christmas and then going on to use the metaphorical “War on” language when you see an instance where you think the substantive case to use that language on the terms it’s been used before (this time properly).  Of course, you can reject the language altogether, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who says there isn’t a War on X has rejected the metaphor generally.  They’ve rejected its applicability to a particular instance.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:


              I can accept War On on a metaphorical level. When used, though, it conveys an attempt to eliminate. The War on Drugs seeks to eliminate drugs. The War on Crime to eliminate crime. The War on Cancer… you get the idea.

              The War On wording, as it pertains to contraception, strongly implies Jaybird’s statement.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                A major political party just almost nominated Rick Santorum.  I think it’s a credible statement that the GOP is seeking to restrict access to birth control as much as is feasible, and that things like the Blunt amendment are part of this effort.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Dan, so your evidence of prohibionist aims is a proposal that declines funding (and preserves pre-PPACA law on contraception, if I am not mistaken) and a failing presidential candidate? I am not convinced.


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’d say it’s not specifically a War on Contraception, it more like a Battle against Contraception engaged in a broader War on Women. To put them feminazi’s back in their place.

                Yes, I’m willing to go there.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It’s almost as though different people have different interpretations of word-meanings. Like maybe, just maybe, one person’s “double-speak” simply is another person’s different perspective and preferred way of articulating that perspective.Report

              • Avatar Erik Kain says:

                This is all sort of beside the point. It’s all part of the culture war. Adopting warlike language is therefore inevitable and happens on both sides (war on religion vs war on contraception.) At a certainly point, arguing about it is a waste of time since nobody is going to agree. We should just call it all by the same name, which is all it is: the culture war, and its many fronts.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Maybe. But I think my use of the words is based on the actual policies proposed by conservatives. So I can actually give a semantics to it. I’m sure you think you can as well. So the issue really isn’t to determine whether the word ‘war’ as it’s normally understood applies to any of this stuff. I mean, that really is a semantical dispute. The issue is whether conservative, and in particular the movement conservatives who dominate the GOP, are trying to institute policies which harm women and restrict (roll back!) women’s rights and freedoms. It seems to me the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. You may disagree about the motive of those policies, but the outcome is pretty doggone clear.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Will, I didn’t take JB’s use of Orwellian allusion to be a rejection of of Erik’s, in the sense in which you recently pointed out that the whole structure is useless.  My sense is that JB is pretty enamored of the importance of pointing out doublespeak when he doesn’t like what it’s being used for, so when Erik did it in a way , he jumped in the fray pretty happily, and not to the end of subverting the Orwellian play like you would prefer.

                So just to be clear, you reject both Erik’s and JB’s appeals to Orwell’s authority on language perversion here, correct?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:


                It depends on whether we’re pointing out something said that seems wrong to us (or phrased wrongly), or whether we are associating this behavior with the identity of our political opponents. I am rather uncomfortable with appeals to Orwell to begin with, though, mostly due to a history of abuse.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I thought that the things that I said were equivalent were obviously not the same thing… even though folks (on this very website) have argued that they were.

                Saying that Catholic Hospitals shouldn’t be made to cover birth control was compared to poll taxes in the South (insofar as raising the price for the pill was analogous to raising the price for the vote).

                This is stuff that happened.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Jay, I think the equivalence he was referring to was between your example (“Failure to subsidize X…”) is the equivalent of the doublespeak that Erik is talking about.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I will say that mine was nowhere near as pithy.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I’m not sure how that shows that someone’s said that the lack of subsidy is a prohibition.   Or how it’s Orwellian.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                …But I’d have to see what they said in particular.  Obviously, a comparison can be the furthest thing from an equivalence… or it can be darn close to one.  All depends what was said.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I posted a link to the argument above in my 8:13 comment. I will post it again here.

                I do think that arguing that my not subsidizing birth control is the equivalent of denying people the vote *IS* arguing that (or, at least, something very close).

                Check it out yourself.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                @8:13 you said it “came up in the conversation,” but the link was just to the post, so I’m not going to go digging to that extent. Were you referring to the OP?

                Are you saying that Erik’s very loose comparison to the CRA is a flat statement that “my not subsidizing birth control is the equivalent of denying people the vote”?  It’s incredibly

                I guess I’ll just let Erik speak to whether that’s what he was saying if that’s your contention.

                You were able to reproduce your own words from a long time ago with incredible speed when you wanted to.  It you are saying that somewhere someone has said that what is happening here (exclusion from a subsidy) is the same as, or equivalent to (though let’s be clear, in your Orwellian appeal, you implied that the claim was, “Failure to subsidize X is prohibition of X.”), then why not just reproduce those words in addition to giving the citation so we’re sure we know what argument you’re talking about.  I still don’t know where to look in the document  you cite to find the thing you’re characterizing the way you are.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Sorry –

                ‘It’s incredible to me if that’s your claim,’ is what i trailed off on there.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You were able to reproduce your own words from a long time ago with incredible speed when you wanted to.

                I bet I was sober. But fine.

                My conversation with Ryan happened in the 50’s and 60’s. The thread I was thinking about began in comment 47.

                In comment 52, Ryan asked “Can you find a reason why a poll tax denies access to the vote using this rubric?”

                In comment 54, Ryan asked “So a poll tax doesn’t deny anyone access to voting? Is that your position?”

                In comment 60, Ryan asked ” Does the poll tax deny anyone access to the vote? Whether voting is a constitutional right hardly matters when you answer that question.”

                Is that sufficient to settle the question of whether folks made the argument that failure to subsidize the pill was on par with denial of voting rights? (Or “Failure to subsidize X is prohibition of X.”?)Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Thanks. I didn’t mean to be a niggling pest about it, but that cite was just simply inadequate to specify what argument you were talking about, period.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I will have to look closely to see what kind of analogy Ryan was making. Need to run now.  For the moment, I will just note that your claim has gone from that someone has argued that “Failure to subsidize X is prohibition of X” to that someone has argued that “Failure to subsidize X is equivalent to prohibition of X.” to that someone has argued that “Failure to subsidize X is on par with prohibition of X.”  (You put the last next to the first in this last comment, which is honest, but it displays the distance you’ve travelled in having to conform your characterization to the actual record.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                No, that’s a rhetorical trick I’ve used myself.

                “More detail! More detail! NOW EVEN MORE DETAIL!!!”

                And then, when the requested detail is provided, pointing out that, hey, I’ll get back to you later.

                Let me know if there are any more burdens of proof you need me to lift before you’ll address a counter-argument.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I literally did have to run.  It’s important to you that we do this now?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                But honestly, it’s not that I was asking for more detail.  It’s that you weren’t being remotely clear about whose argument you were saying was what you said someone argued. It’s not like there was something i could review but I kept pressing you for more, more.  I just wanted to know what the hell you were specifically referring to.  Now it’s not okay if I want a little time to look over the thing you’ve finally given a specific reference to?  I need to pronounce on it immediately, just because I asked for it?  That’s BS.  I’ll talk to you in the future sometime, maybe.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I mean, you say X was argued, and just because i want to know who? where? and keep asking until you actually say, that means I owe you something? Bull.  You’re supposed to say that from the outset, or at least be willing to provide the info when asked without acting like you’re doing someone a favor.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                So, it seems to me what Ryan was doing was merely how the logic you apply here would end up if it was applied to the poll tax.  How would this logic work over there? That’s supposed to be an equivalence between the two?  Pardon me if I’m mistaken, but that seems to be a mode of argument you use all the freakin’ time.  “What if instead of saying what you just said about this thing here, you said it about that thing over there? Do you like how that comes out?”  Are you saying that every time you do that, you are making an equivalence between the two things?  Or saying they are on par with each other?  Or saying they are each other?  It seems to me you do that frequently when one thing couldn’t seem more benign in its own context, and the other seems to be a monstrosity, just to make exactly the point Ryan was – that the logic might not be good in all situations.

                You’re going to have to say more to get me to see where there is an equivalence in Ryan’s argument there.  I’m still kind of incredulous that you’re saying there is.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                This is why I think that it’s important to distinguish, as I did in the comment thread, between “free as in speech” and “free as in beer”.

                Voting was “free as in speech” and, thus, raising the price of speech was significantly different from not subsidizing something that isn’t free in the first place (like, for example, norplant).

                I made this argument in the comments there too.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Yeah, the point was that there are significant differences.  This might well mean that you’re comfortable with your reasoning for why the other situation isn’t a good one to apply the logic you’re using here to, and thus that the result it gives if you do isn’t something we need to be particularly concerned with.  It doesn’t establish that Ryan was drawing an equivalence between the two.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                “Failure to subsidize X is prohibition of X.”

                How dare you?  If you were a face, I’d slap it.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Yo—Getting a virus warning clicking on who or what a “Rhoda Ozen”  is.  Our sockpuppets are getting indistinguishable from our real “commenting culture,” Erik.

                The sockpuppets are occasionally cuttingly—triumphantly—incisive and usually quite funny.  Mebbe LoOG should go completely for anarchy and egalitarianism, where what’s satire and what’s reality are left up to the reader.

                I see no reason to permit pseudonyms and prohibit sockpuppets around here.  I hear more truth from the latter bunch.

                Let’s go for it, and test our grasp on reality—whether Rhoda Ozen is real or a joke,  well, you’d actually have to think about what Ms. Ozen said.

                Me, I agree with her completely, chapter and verse, every word, jog, and tittle.  My private emails have convinced me to turn over a new leaf.  I agree with everything that’s written here @ LoOG until further notice.  Rock on.Report

              • Avatar Erik Kain says:

                Tom, I’m not really following you. Everything okay?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Well, I think it strongly implies something else… a different idea about what War On.. can mean.  because from what you’re saying, if people were saying pharmaceutical contraception should be prohibited, then it would be appropriate to use a locution that suggests there is an effort on to eliminate women.

                In other words, you seem to be saying, if people were saying that contraception should be banned, it would be valid to call it a War On Women.  But that contradicts your explanation of the meaning of War On language.  So if a War On Women doesn’t need to imply that people are trying to eliminate women as you initially suggested in your exposition of your vision of the correct use of War On phraseology, by what you’ve said about how that phrase should be used, how do we know that at least prohibition of contraception, not merely it’s singling-out as excluded from a general subsidy, is necessary for the phrase to be used?

                FTR, I think it’s a little over-the-top here as well, but I don’t have any hard-and-fast notion of why I think it’s flat wrong.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                …I think it’s being used more because there seem to be so many facets and theatres of action going on now on women’s health issues, unrelated except as to what can appear to be a somewhat coordinated party effort ot reignite these issues.  I’m not sure anyone would call merely the Catholic Church’s resistance to this mandate a war on women… but then there’s the national GOP response to it, the ultrasound legislation, the defunding & investigation of Planned Parenthood, etc.  Wars (big wars) have multiple theatres of action and battles in temporal sequence. Ergo the metaphor.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I was referring to War on Contraception, as War on Contraception takes on the same overtones to me as does War on Drugs.

                War on Women is a little bit different, in the sense that its absurdity makes a… creative interpretation… inevitable. Same goes for War on Men, a phrase I also hear. Both are transparently extreme hyperbole. War on Contraception is not.


              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Well, all of these locutions are hyperbolic, so that doesn’t make War on Women more absurd than others to my mind.  See my above explanation of the metaphor.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Regardless, War on Women cannot be construed the same way as War on Contraception can (like War on Crime, Drugs, Cancer, and so on). War on Contraception really lends itself, to me, as being analogous to Wars On Things We Want To Eliminate. I consider that the most straightforward interpretation (an interpretation that doesn’t seem wrong to Dan Miller).Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Will, as I say, I wasn’t aware we were talking about the War on Contraception phrase.  I honestly don’t remember encountering it in the wild – it’s just a thing we’ve created in the lab here to me.  I’m mostly familiar with the War on Women.  I don’t have a sense of how I’d construe it if I did encounter it, though I suspect that since no one is saying they’re trying to prohibit contraception, then I wouldn’t assume that that must be how the phrase has to be construed.  So I guess no, I wouldn’t prejudge so as to say that “War on Contraception” can only be used to fair effect if what is going on in the world wrt contraception is much like what is going on wrt illegal drugs.

                But again, I haven’t heard the phrase much, and I’m not a partisan of it.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Ah, okay, my mistake.  I’ve just seen War on Women much more.  Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve heard War on Contraception at all.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        The Blunt Amendment got 48 votes in the Senate.  I submit that a bill to completely eliminate all subsidies for anyone’s health care of any sort would get many fewer votes.  If you support the Blunt Amendment but not elimination of all healthcare subsidies, I think it’s fair to call that a war on contraception.  Do you disagree?Report

        • Avatar Dan Miller says:

          I mean, it’s a somewhat hyperbolic slogan, but that’s not a sin.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          And I think the Blunt amendment was in the background of the current hysteria over Rush’s comments. As I understand it, the Blunt Amend. would have permitted employers to restrict the services provided in the employee health plan based on moral or religious objections.  So it would have created an end-around to some of the conditions imposed by the ACA. That it got as far as it did is pretty scary. And frankly, I was surprised that the topic wasn’t FPed here since it seems a radical extension of employer power to control a service paid for by employees. Some other libertarian sites I checked were very down on it.Report

    • Avatar Whash says:

      What subsidies?  The women are paying for this via their insurance premiums.  And the insurance companies want to give it to them because it lowers birth rates, prevents/treats numerous medical conditions, and it far cheaper than either births or leaving the diseases untreated.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      Failure to provide a tax exemption for X is a war on religious liberty for Y.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I think that the Democrats could (and would) learn a lot from discussing removing church tax exemptions.

        For the record, I think that it’d be a tactical error to do it before the coming election rather than after it.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

          My point is. No one’s “religious liberty” is being infringed. You can believe contraception is immoral and not provide health insurance as a result. If that means you have to pay a tax you wouldn’t otherwise pay? That’s your own fucking choice.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Which brings us to what the policy was at time T.

            The policy at time T was X. The policy at time T-sub-1 is now Y.

            People are complaining that we should have the policy of X.

            You’re saying that, under Y, they still have a choice. Pay for the birth control or pay more in tax… options that, it seems to me, they always had before.Report

  3. Avatar BSK says:

    Hannity has further manipulated the issue. On his show today he talked about how Fluke was demanding government subsidized condoms. It is almost like they ran the original story back and forth through Babelfish a few times before reading.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Oh well.   Despite all the cacophony over Rush’s bloviating, America grows ever-more reactionary.   Rush and Fox News are doing land office business, every new embarrassment notwithstanding.

    How could things get this bad?   Well, it’s been seen before.   I’ve made numerous mentions of Andrew Jackson before, America’s Nazi.   Such comments never seem to attract much attention.   That’s okay, it was a while back, Jackson was a man of the people, a great hero of the people.   Woodrow Wilson sorta cuddled up to the Klan.  Nixon did his nasty little deal with his Southern Strategy.

    We can sit here and say Rush appeals to the worst aspects of American society, for all the good it will do us.    Ratings and share don’t lie,  Rush appeals to LOTS of people.   People just love this guy.   As America spins its tires in the mud, as half a dozen other countries eat our lunch, Rush screams bloody murder and America grimly nods its head.    He’s not alone.   Fox News can’t say enough bad things about the government.   They’re trouncing everyone else on ratings and share.

    None of this is news to anyone.   Just let’s not kid ourselves about how this sort of battle is fought and won.   Liberals and Libertarians are far too squeamish.   We lack the strength of our convictions.   Nobody around here is going to call Andrew Breitbart what he called Ted Kennedy, we’re just so niiiice.   We can clutch at our pearls and retire to the fainting couches over the odious Limbaugh but nobody’s got a message powerful enough to oppose him, because we won’t fight fire with fire.Report

    • Avatar karl says:

      Well, one reason for this state of affairs is the tiny number of leftist equivalents to Limbaugh.  Of the top of my head, Ward Churchill (of “little Eichmanns” fame several years ago) is only name I can come up with; more popular leftists like Katrina vanden Heuvel are more on a par with George Will and the like.  Such a small group is easily marginalized because they really are on the margin.  Tens of millions of Rush-loving crazies are not so easily dismissed — and neither is the money that supports them.

      Unfortunately, opposition to these forces consists of a long hard slog refighting the same issues with each new generation.  Now pardon me while I clutch something and faint.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        The Left, to put it baldly, is a feckless platoon of pussies.   Ward Churchill was a very silly man.   If memory serves, he was caught plagiarising and was always guilty of being a Special Pleader.   That’s not what the Left needs.

        My thought goes along these lines:   America really doesn’t have any Liberals left.   They’re completely discredited, associated with Communism and Statism and the like.   I hate the word Unfair, it’s a word only used by feebs and losers.   But the Left never stood up for itself after the era of McCarthy, never effectively reestablished its American credentials after it had been so thoroughly and mendaciously maligned.   Unions came under assault and there was nobody left to defend them.   Look at the Conservatives now, say the word “union” and it’s like someone said “Frau Blucher” in Young Frankenstein.   Neighing, whinnying, rantrant, frothfroth….

        The Libertarians are about as close as we’re going to get to classical liberalism in our times.   But they hate the unions, too.   They’re just impossible, they can’t win elections because they don’t know how to build coalitions, mostly because they see no advantage to any sort of collective activity.

        Eventually, some Liberal Limbaugh will appear, once things get bad enough — and they will get bad enough.   America’s dull, vaguely sensed outrage against their corporate masters will find a voice.   But not soon, and probably not before the republic has failed.   That’s coming, too.Report

        • Avatar karl says:

          Hey buddy, I’m with ya.  Sorta.

          1: Of course the left doesn’t need the likes of Churchill; his silliness (and more) aside, the appeal of the far left is just plain limited in this country — look how much sway Chomsky has.  I’d be happy to see more politicians and pundits on the traditional left make their cases more forcefully.  I’ve got Raul Grijalva out here in Phoenix, Bernie Sanders and Barnie Frank do (did) a good job of it back east but I’d like to see more.  Yeah, I know — boo hoo.

          2: The left did fine after the Red Scare: remember Voting Rights Act and Medicare?  How about the environmental legislation passed under an unsympathetic Republican?  And more.  I think the big problems came when Democrats lost the South (fortunately, the Republicans have lost the northeast) and didn’t have a plan to cope.

          C: Libertarians are in no way the answer; how can anyone who opposes government regulation of multinational corporations be taken seriously by the left?  But they might have some planks we can co-opt and hang our platform on.

          D: A liberal Limbaugh seems a contradiction in terms — and I don’t think things will get soooo bad that a demagogue ends up ruling the roost.  But then I’m a bit of a pollyanna.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            1.   Two words:  Air America.

            2.  LBJ was the last of the New Dealers.   His kind won’t be seen again.  Neither will any semblance of a Rockefeller Republican.   Olympia Snowe’s leaving Congress, the last of the Moderate Republican Mohicans.   Who’s left?

            The Liberals paid a terrible price for the War on Poverty.   They had to make all sorts of concessions to get any of it passed.   Instead of just tearing down slums and building new houses, we got Cabrini-Green and Pruitt-Igoe, warehousing the poor.   Law and Sausages: the War on Poverty might have worked, but what emerged from the legislative process was a dog’s dinner.   LBJ was losing all semblance of credibility over the war in SE Asia at the time and his domestic policy was reduced to a sideline item.

            Curiously, Truman had tried to put together some sort of health plan.    He wasn’t exactly Mr. Liberal either, but Ronnie Reagan was enlisted to oppose his plan, calling it so much incipient communism.

            Libertarians aren’t beyond enlightenment.   They just need to come to some conclusions about how individuals actually get what they need from the political process.

            The Liberal Limbaugh is probably worthy of a longer missive.   I predict a demagogue in our future.    It seems inevitable.Report

            • Avatar karl says:

              Forgot Air America is still around.  Still, I prefer politicians to be the spokespeople for my pet causes: media voices (aside from big gun columnists) are too often trapped in the echo chamber while public officials have their jobs on the line — when they are watched putting their money where their mouths are voters take a little more notice (does this sound too incredibly naive?).

              Reagan’s anti-medicare spiel was in the early 1960s, he was still a liberal during most of Truman’s administration.  In fact, he gave an excellent radio address in 1948 in support of Truman and Hubert Humphrey — it’s just the kind of explication of liberal values and policies that I’d like to see today.  Come to think of it, his speech can be used today with few changes; after all, we are still fighting many of the same fights 64 years later.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        Can anyone name a single national politician or head of national party who had to apologize for criticizing Churchhill? How many liberals had even heard of the guy before the rightful condemnation of his comments ?

        Exactly how much more relevant was the guy than a random blog commenter?

        I am ready and willing to learn.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Yup i had never heard of WC until the non-troversy. I’ve only heard of conservatives yakking about him.


          • Avatar karl says:

            Exactly.  His brief notoriety shows how insignificant and out-of-the-mainstream a leftist Limbaugh-type is.  You want a politician of that ilk?  Cynthia McKinney.  Radical leftists hardly exist in this country and they have no power.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        Ed Schultz is fairly close to Limbaugh on the left – similar attitude, and even had his own “slut” moment. But he has absolutely zero political pull on the left and most liberals (myself included) despise him.Report

  5. Avatar Scott says:


    Sorry, as if liberals like Russell are bringing up the level of debate when his title is “Rush Limbaugh hates women.”Report

    • Seems pretty self-evident to me, Scott.  Just like, if Mr. Limbaugh had blithely used a racial slur to describe a black person I’d feel pretty comfortable saying he hates black people, or if he’d called a gay person a nasty name I’d be comfortable saying he hates gays.  Deciding that it’s OK to counter a person’s public statements by calling her an ugly term of sexual degradation is as clear a sign of misogyny as I can think of, and I can’t imagine why anyone think it’s plausible to argue otherwise.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:

        Rush may be rude but I think his statement hardly qualifies as full fledged misogyny.  If so, your bar is very low. (like most liberals that are ready to cry racism or something else at the drop of a hat.)   You can focus on what Rush said but the bottom line is that this is another case of folks that want society to pay their way for them and the Dems that are more than happy to provide it.Report

        • You say “rude,” I say “degrading.”  I think a willingness to degrade someone is evidence of deep-seated antipathy.  We are almost certainly not going to agree.  Alas.Report

        • Avatar Sam says:

          “…this is another case of folks that want society to pay their way for them…”

          What are you talking about? This isn’t an issue of societal payment for birth control; this is an issue of women who don’t want to see their health insurance plans nitpicked by over-officious moralizers who have decided only recently that they have some objection to paying for health insurance that covers contraception. Note that few businesses anywhere were clamoring for the freedom to deny various forms of health insurance on moral grounds before this scandal emerged.


          • Avatar Scott says:


            The question is really simple though none of the liberals here can seem to answer it.  Why is any business of the gov’t to tell insurers what they have to cover or businesses what they have to offer?


            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              Why is it any business of an employer if a woman chooses to use birth control?Report

              • Avatar Scott says:


                Does your response mean that you can’t or won’t answer my question? Generally I don’t think it is an employers business but why should they be forced to provide it?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Scott, as I’ve said before in this thread, this is an issue where someone’s not going to get their way.  For me, the issue of the government is moot, because the thread I follow works like this:

                A. Health insurance acts as a way for people to spread out the cost of their healthcare expenses; sometimes they pay for it individually, sometimes as part of a group that includes an employer.

                B. Whatever decisions a woman makes about her reproductive healthcare – including exams, advice, testing, and contraceptive prescriptions – are a thing for her to choose with the council of her OBGYN, providing that those medical services are legal.

                C. An employer should not be able to dictate, coerce or financially penalize what kind of the above services their employee is entitled to – period.

                Now, is the government involved anywhere in the insurance mechanism?  Don’t know, don’t care, and as far as I’m concerned it’s a red herring.

                Honestly, I don’t know why people who (rightfully) fight so hard so that government can’t dictate what happens between them and their doctor are so okley-dokley with having their employer do it instead.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I can change my employer.

                Edit: I should say that the ability to change one’s employer is a dynamic that doesn’t really exist with one’s government.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                So?  you can change your employer if your sexually harassed, or refused a promotion because your Jewish, or told that you can’t have profit sharing because you’re a woman.

                That doesn’t mean I think it’s OK for employers to do that, or that we should set up a system where they are allowed to do so.

                (Also, I should add to my comment that you responded to that I think it’s OK for an employer to not give benefits for financial reasons.  It’s when an employer withholds benefits to dictate whether or not you choose to have sex with your partner that I think they cross a line.)Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                An employer, through arranging with preferred providers, can shape or dictate where a person gets their health care. Many people can change employers, assuming of course there are jobs, and they have enough skills, and live in a place with plenty of jobs (ie not rural) and don’t have preexisting conditions. But yeah aside from those caveats people can change jobs, but why does that make it just ducky for their employer to be able to stick their snoot in the employees private  business?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It doesn’t strike me as obvious that a person is entitled to particular remuneration with regards to insurance.

                I’m one of those people who thought that Obamacare should divorce health care from work though so what do I know?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Did I say that you have a right to a particular renumeration?  I certainly don’t think that.

                But there is a difference between saying this:

                “Sorry folks, we just can’t afford to pay for your health insurance any more!” (Or, for that matter, “Sorry folks, due to costs we have to cut the benefits included in our group plan.”)

                And saying this:

                “If you are a woman and working for us, we do not wish you to have sex outside of marriage; further, if you are married, we do not wish you to have sex unless for the purpose of making babies.  We have therefore created health insurance benefit plan that will disincentive you from seeking treatments that you are legally able to seek.  By the way, this is not a financial decision – we really want you to adapt your off-hours sexual behavior to a pattern that we approve of.”

                I don’t even get how the first is confused with the second.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Here’s two arguments wrt birth control restrictions which I offer with some reservations.

                The first is viewing birth control as an aspect of health maintenance. Personally, I don’t think contraception coverage is a right. But I do think that excluding (or prohibiting) birth control from insurance coverage violates a woman’s right to equal access to procedures and services necessary for the maintenance of her over-all biological health, one of which is having control over if and when she gets pregnant. So in that sense, I (tentatively) think the burden falls the other way – on the person arguing that pregnancy isn’t at least in part a biological health issue. And so I think the default position ought to be that government has a legitimate role to play in ensuring that women aren’t discriminated against wrt access to these services and procedures.

                Second, TVD’s argument is that preventing the natural consequences of voluntary sexual activity isn’t something other people ought to have to pay for. I think that’s wrong. There’s a difference between the two sexes with respect to those consequences – women, as an inarguable matter of fact, bear a disproportionate (and often exclusive) burden of those consequences. So if the natural consequences of sexual behavior is morally relevant issue in this debate, and women bear a disproportionate amount of that burden, then women in principle experience greater harms then men do from voluntary (and involuntary as well) sexual activity. And if so, then government has a role to play in ameliorating those harms.

                And to just stave off an obvious objection in advance, I don’t think this second argument requires that voluntary sexual activity be viewed as a right or liberty. It only requires a difference in the consequences between the sexes resulting from engaging in it.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Russell isn’t calling women sluts, Scott.Report

    • Avatar Sam says:

      In what world does Rush like women? He has been implying that every woman who uses contraception is necessarily a slut.Report

    • Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

      If Rush doesn’t actually hate women, he has no qualms about using such hatred for his “entertainment” purposes.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    A million years ago, I wrote a comment on one of Payne’s essays (it was a good one!) and, what the heck, I think it works here too.

    Here’s an insight I had a few years ago, then forgot, then remembered, then forgot, and recently remembered again (thanks to the discussions on this website). Try it on for size.

    These are not merely political discussions. They are moral discussions. Indeed, they are *RELIGIOUS* discussions.

    When discussing these topics, for my part, I find that I discover buttons I never knew I had. Reading an essay about, I don’t know, zoning and I stumble across an analogy to, I don’t know, abortion or something (e.g., “my building, my choice”) and finding oneself seriously offended. I step back and say “why in the hell am I getting incensed about an essay about FREAKING *ZONING*????”

    I dig, and I dig, and I dig down and find previously unexpressed opinions on abortion, on property, on slavery (on slavery???), on all sorts of things. The essay I was reading scratched that little tiny boil and I was amazed at the stuff that leaked out (and with such force!).

    I’ve reached the conclusions that, though post-Christian we may be, we still have our various totems and to see them molested by others (or worse, dismissed as little more than painted wood) calls forth the same adrenal response as our ancestors felt when they saw Catholics/Protestants acting like Catholics/Protestants. And older, when we saw the other tribe acting like the other tribe.

    We hold up our little gris-gris and *KNOW* that we are protected and luckier because of it… and nothing is worse than the guy who laughs and points and says that that’s just a woven bag and those are just rocks and a, well, it’s not a finger bone from an enemy, it’s a knuckle bone from a pig!

    And that mockery is all the worse when they hold up their own gris-gris and explain how you need a leather bag and grave dirt to make it work.

    For my part, I have found that the realization that “This Is A Religious Discussion” is one that is transcendental. It immediately frees me from my attachment to “winning” rather than exploring. If there’s a downside, it’s that a great many discussions that were “moral discussions” a moment before the insight immediately transformed into “SHRIMP IS BAD! LEVITICUS!” “NO IT’S NOT! ACTS!” and it becomes very difficult not to be overwhelmed by the giggles (and, eventually, nihilism).

    Now, of course, that insight may not work for you. That’s cool. I’d ask you to try it on for a second the next time you find yourself surprised at how attached you are to the issues raised in a discussion of, say, zoning.Report

    • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

      Oh sure.  All reason is simply post hoc justification of deep-seated, generally irrational emotional responses.

      But my post hoc justifications are more reasonable than theirs!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        No, not all. A surprising amount, however. When you start seeing the strings, it’s interesting to see what, if anything, they’re connected to.

        Ideally we’ll eventually run around like Pinocchio (if not as a real boy).Report

  7. Avatar mark boggs says:

    I know I’m stupid, but somebody help me here.  Do insurance companies have a stock set of options that they are willing to pay for based on the coverage purchased?  Do these insurance companies have cafeteria type plans where employers can go in and say, “I don’t want preventitive things covered or vision or gynecological stuff?”  Because it almost sounds like some people are saying that employers should not be forced to pay for an insurance plan that covers contraception.  Is it possible that the company can buy a plan that specifically doesn’t cover contraception? 

    Further, if insurance plans are a benefit of employment, a bit like wages you earn but directed toward a benefit, would the employer be able to say what I could spend my actual wages on?  I mean, they provide the incentive of health insurance for their employees, like they would offer competitive or superior wages, but they want to pick and choose what the employer uses the benefit for.  Could we then say they’d be justified in telling me my purchase of a box of wine or a trip across state lines to throw the dice with the benefit they provided is somehow something they’d rather not provide?  Could they also refuse to offer oncology treatment insurance for smokers?

    Somebody help me see where I’m totally off base.Report

    • Avatar clawback says:

      Can’t really help you, Mark, because your understanding is dead on.  There’s no important difference between an employee obtaining contraceptives through insurance provided as work compensation and her paying for them out of her paycheck.  In either case it takes some very twisted logic to say the employer is being forced to pay for it.  In reality, in both cases if the employer doesn’t want to pay for contraceptives they can try to talk the employee out of using them.  If she shares their “values” maybe she’ll go along.  Otherwise, it’s none of their damned business what she does with her work compensation.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        There’s no important difference between an employee obtaining contraceptives through insurance provided as work compensation and her paying for them out of her paycheck.

        This is what *I* have been saying!Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        There’s no important difference between an employee obtaining contraceptives through insurance provided as work compensation and her paying for them out of her paycheck

        Let me try to push back at this. When it comes to employee compensation there are 3 ways in which it could be done:

        1. Give people money which may or may not be used for contraception.

        2. Give people insurance where contraception is covered in lieu of money. People may or may not use the insurance to buy contraception

        3. Give people contraception in lieu of money. People again may or may not use that contraception.

        Obviously, churches are not against 1. And 3 looks straightforwardly objectionable. The question is of course whether 2 looks more like 1 or 3. One important way in which 2 looks like 3 rather than 1 is that the marginal premium to cover contraception cannot really be used for anything else. The marginal premiom is “locked in”. Not using the insurance for contraception is therefore a lot like not using the employer provided contraception. i.e. in 2 and 3 the contraception has already been paid for by the employer and it is only a matter of whether the employee uses the contraception or not. While in 1, the employer clearly has not paid for the contraception. Whether there is any contraception that is paid for is left up to the employee. The objection by the church is precisely that it is more or less being forced to provide contraception for its employees.Report

        • Avatar Murali says:

          The basic presumption is that if I pay you in kind, I shouldnt be forced to provide the kinds of kind that I would morally object to. Insurance is a kind of kind.Report

        • Avatar clawback says:

          Regarding 1, it’s not clear why churches are not against it.  Paying for contraceptives indirectly through their employees would seem to have the same moral status as paying for them through their insurance company.

          I don’t see how 3 is “straightforwardly objectionable.”  Company-provided contraceptives will be used only if the employee wants them; if they can convince her to share their “values” maybe she won’t use them and nothing morally objectionable will occur.  Otherwise it’s none of their business.  How can they be outraged about someone else’s moral choice?  They’re not responsible for what she does.Report

          • Avatar Murali says:

            I don’t see how 3 is “straightforwardly objectionable.”  Company-provided contraceptives will be used only if the employee wants them

            Its a ritual purity thing. Being vegetarian is one of the few religious stricutres I adhere closely to. I feel extremely uncomfortable handling meat. I also feel uncomfortable actually buying meat for my friends. However, I have less objection to lending or giving my friends money which I know they will use to buy meat. i.e. immediacy of contact matters when it comes to ritual purity issues.

            The point is not whether you should care about ritual purity or not. Its just that violating ritual purity causes a good deal of psychological pain. And it is for this reason that unless more fundamental rights are implicated, it is a good idea to religious preferences on a number of issues. The question of course then is whether having contraception is a more fundamental right than sparing people intense psychological discomfort.

            So, if we thought that people had a right to some kind of safety net, how would this work out vis-a-vis contraception? It seems the basic idea is that the kind of safety net that people would have a right to (if there was any kind of right to a safetynet at all) is one that protected health and not stuff like aesthetics or lifestyle issues.

            So, contraception qua preventing ovarian cysts is in while contraception qua birth control and contraception qua acne control is more a lifestyle and aesthetic issue and therefore out.

            Paying for contraceptives indirectly through their employees would seem to have the same moral status as paying for them through their insurance company

            There is also a free will issue here. Presumably because the employee could choose to do something else with the money, the company did not pay for the contraceptive even if the employee bought contraceptives. However, with insurance and directly giving the contraceptives, the company paid for the contraceptives even if the employee never actually used it.


            • Avatar clawback says:

              unless more fundamental rights are implicated, it is a good idea to [respect] religious preferences on a number of issues.

              No violation of the employer’s religious preferences occurs unless the woman chooses to take a contraceptive. Surely nothing objectionable could have occurred if contraceptive coverage were offered and no one availed herself of it. So the contention seems to be that a woman choosing to take a contraceptive somehow triggers an outrageous violation by the government against her employer. This is an absurd concept of a right.

              Your argument about causing psychological pain does not apply. The employer need not concern itself about whether the employee chooses to use contraception; it only needs to offer the coverage. A more correct analogy would be your lending a friend money vs. your lending her some special kind of money that can only be used to buy non-meat products. By the logic of the current debate the former should make you uncomfortable.

              However, with insurance and directly giving the contraceptives, the company paid for the contraceptives even if the employee never actually used it.

              Sorry, no, in both cases the employer only pays for the contraceptives if the employee chooses to use them. It keeps coming back to the absurd contention that a woman standing in her bathroom choosing to take a contraceptive somehow triggers a violation by the government against her employer’s rights.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                No violation of the employer’s religious preferences occurs unless the woman chooses to take a contraceptive.  Surely nothing objectionable could have occurred if contraceptive coverage were offered and no one availed herself of it. 

                The act of offering contraception can itself be problematic if I think contraception is sinful because by offering contraception, I am tempting people into sin, or participating fairly directly in a set of practices which is intimately tied up with sin.

                more correct analogy would be your lending a friend money vs. your lending her some special kind of money that can only be used to buy non-meat products.  By the logic of the current debate the former should make you uncomfortable.

                No, the correct analogy is between giving money to my friends and giving them a mixture of coupons, some of which can buy non meat products only and some of which can buy meat products only.

                Giving the non-meat only coupons is tempting, but I know my friends and most of them would tell me to go fish myself.

                in both cases the employer only pays for the contraceptives if the employee chooses to use them

                I’m going to disagree here. The marginal cost of covering the contraceptive has already been paid. Now it would seem that such would only be the case if the contraceptive is actually bought with insurance and that if it had not been bought, the marginal premium would just go towards the profit margin. However, if contraceptives were not covered, the insurance company could have offered a lower premium. At least some of that difference in premium is intended to go to paying for the contraceptive. That difference in premium would not exist if not for the additional coverage of contraceptives.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                Money itself is a temptation to sin, isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar clawback says:

                by offering contraception, I am tempting people into sin

                I’m afraid you have stretched the situation beyond recognition. You’re not offering contraception, you’re complying with a law that says you have to cover it.

                No, the correct analogy is between giving money to my friends and giving them a mixture of coupons

                No, prescription drug plans usually cover contraception along with most other drugs. They can indeed be most usefully seen as a coupon that covers just about any drug rather than as a set of individual coupons.

                The marginal cost of covering the contraceptive has already been paid.
                That difference in premium would not exist if not for the additional coverage of contraceptives.

                And here you contradict yourself within a single paragraph. But I’m not here to play gotcha but only to point out the absurdity of making a distinction between the employer “paying for” contraceptives through an employee’s paycheck, and them “paying for” the same contraceptives through her insurance plan.Report

          • Avatar mark boggs says:

            So, to be clear, all the hullabaloo is about an employer provided benefit that they (the employer) would like to cherry-pick a bit to limit what parts of that benefit an emplyee can enjoy?  So am I completely nuts to analogize that if an employee used the actual wages paid (the ultimate benefit of employment) to go do things that the employer objects to, would the employer be able to somehow cherry-pick what the employee chooses to do with that?

            Employer pays employee wages, employee does something not illegal, merely morally objectionable.  Employer has right of refusal on this?

            BTW, as a curious aside, if I’m a closeted gay man using my insurance coverage from Loyola University to buy Viagra and then have hot gay sex, is Loyola OK with that?  Obviously not the gay sex part, but the using of Viagra for non-procreative purposes?  Do they get a say in that?Report

            • Avatar Murali says:

               all the hullabaloo is about an employer provided benefit that they (the employer) would like to cherry-pick a bit to limit what parts of that benefit an emplyee can enjoy?

              I wouldnt put it that way. Rather, I would say that it is about the employer wanting to decide what kinds of benefits he/she provides

              .Employer pays employee wages, employee does something not illegal, merely morally objectionable.  Employer has right of refusal on this?

              This is slightly more complicated.

              1. Employers have the right to terminate said employee if avoiding such behaviour is part of the employment contract and that contract is legally valid.

              2. I wish employers weren’t so anal about such things

              3.  I dont know that there should be a law restricting such contracts.


            • Avatar clawback says:

              Yes, by the logic of the current debate the church should be objecting to insurance coverage of Viagra.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Yes it should. That it doesnt may be a sign of some kind of misogyny or oversight. But I am not here to police the church on what it should properly object to. All I’m arguing that as long as individuals or corporations like the church (broadly speaking it is a corporation) want to do things that don’t violate fundamental rights and duties, they should be allowed to do that.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                So they need to buy insurance packages that don’t cover contraception, right?Report

  8. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “This whole notion that Obama had Andrew Breitbart assassinated is even more absurd than Limbaugh’s “slut” remarks, but it’s also just the latest in a long series of crackpot theories about the president, his origins, his beliefs.”

    Wow – is this really a thing now?  It’s been a while since the RIght has surprised me with it’s level of nuttery, but I have to admit even I find this utterly surprising.Report

    • He was, no doubt, about to publish the secret Vince Foster files before they did him in.Report

      • Avatar Jak says:

        No, its obvious that Breibart had gotten hold of Obama’s *real* birth certificate, and so Obama whacked him off, I mean snubbed his snickerdoodle, dammit what’r the words I’m looking for?

        Cut his cheese?Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to group Alex Jones with the right; the guy actively talks about how bike-lanes are the United Nations’ way of taking over American land. Moreover, his shows don’t follow the usual pattern of right-wing resentment/entertainment that Kain is criticizing here because Jones actually talks about policy. Granted, he’s completely nuts in his interpretation of policy and he still accuses his enemies of being brown-shirts, but his core difference is policy not spirit.

      Listen to an hour of Infowars and you’ll mostly hear ravings on UN resolutions, treaties, the Bilderbergs, etc. Then listen to an hour of Limbaugh and you’ll only hear ranting against women as whores, poor people as dependent moochers, wealthy liberals as elitist hypocrites, etc. I mean, Mark Levin had an interview with Santorum that was billed as a hard-hitting, fact-based expose and his first question was about Michelle Obama vacationing in Aspen! The left invented identity politics but the right has certainly perfected it and it’s unfair to Mr. Jones to lump him in with that crew.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        I’m not sure it was your intent but this comment seems like a gold medal winning example of Damning with Faint Praise.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        “I don’t think it’s fair to group Alex Jones with the right; the guy actively talks about how bike-lanes are the United Nations’ way of taking over American land.”

        This is a pretty common belief among the grassroots right, according to what I’ve read.  The GOP’s candidate for governor of Colorado endorsed the idea during the 2010 race before walking it back.Report

    • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

      Oh, I don’t know.  The left still gets to own 9/11 was an inside job.

      Didn’t something like 1/3 of Americans subscribe to that at one point?

      This is mostly a function of the party out of power being more ready to believe insane things about their opponents.  I am starting to warm to the idea that Team Red is ready to believe crazier things, but I am not yet convinced this is something new under the sun.

      That being said, if Obama was killing Conservative pundits, I have a few ideas where he could start instead of Andrew Breitbart.


      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Are you lumping the notion that Bush had specific information about an attack with (far more specific than what he had) with the idea that it was an inside job, i.e. actually planned by part of the U.S. gov’t?  A third of the country believed that the U.S. giv’t was involved?  I’m dubious about that.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          Though crazy enough, no matter how many believed it, to be sure.  And while I’d agree that the Left owns it more than any other single faction, it’s definitely not total and complete ownership.  That particular brand of craziness is spread around a bit, in my experience.Report

        • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

          That lumps in everyone from those who believe that the US gov’t knew it was coming and let it happen, to the people who believe the towers fell to a controlled demolition orchestrated by space lizards.

          So no, mercifully, not that many Americans think that the gov’t was actively murdering its own citizens.  More passively.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      For me, the level of the Gonzo Right’s fascination with itself, today great enough to think that Barack Obama cared enough about Andrew Breitbart to have him offed, is a continuous revelation.Report

  9. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    I find it hard to believe that Vince Foster was humping Hillary, too……..oooou! But, I think Lee Harvey shot Jack. I’m just not sure where the other guy(s) were?Report

  10. Avatar ktward says:

    We can’t have a grown-up discussion about the problems facing this nation if one side refuses to participate. It’s just not possible. When the GOP is intent on ostracizing virtually every one of its members who refuses to speak the language of movement conservatism, how can we have an honest fight?

    We can’t of course. Right now, the “honest fights” are happening under the Dem umbrella. It is what it is.

    If the GOP is to right itself (crappy pun, not intended), it’s going to have to suffer resounding defeat first. There simply is no motivation for them to alter the crazy formula if it wins elections. In this respect, 2012 is rather a trial balloon on the heels of their 2010 shot of confidence. Evidently George Will’s upcoming Sunday wisdom to the GOP will be, I’ll paraphrase, “You’ve no doubt screwed the pooch on the White House, see if you can tone down the crazy and focus on salvaging the House and Senate runs.”

    Toward the aims of sending the GOP to the depths of defeat because it simply must be done, I actually hope Rush keeps making headlines over stuff like this. In a campaign year, he might nicely serve as a one-man PR machine for Obama and Dems among nearly every demographic other than his own*. Rush disgusts me, no question, but with a flick of my wrist I can turn him off. (Assuming I ever turned him on. Ew, gross. Bad choice of words. Brb, must shower …) Way more disgusting to me is the state of the GOP and its callous disregard for responsible, competent governance. Under the category of Disturbing Propaganda and Other Despicable Messaging, way more concerning to me than Limbaugh is Fox News.

    *Rush’s appeal is largely limited to old white conservative dudes, so saith Pew. But really, do we need a survey to tell us that? Meanwhile, he offends wide swaths of the rest of us. His sensationalism gets him way more media attention than he deserves, imo, but I’m fine with that as the GOP does itself no favors in paying him any deference.

    It occurs to me that the left does indeed have influential media voices (think Maddow), they’re just not on talk radio. Is Air America even still around? Thing is, with the ratings-driven state of broadcast news, I suspect it’s hard for the left’s media voices to out-sensationalize the right in competing for coverage. Olbermann, for example, is a loud blowhard so he’s got that going for him, but he can’t compete with Rush when it comes to “newsworthy” outrageous statements. Among the left’s talking heads, is there anyone who can?Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      Ms. Ward, the “honest fight” is over religious liberty and whether there’s a “right” to free contraception.  The rest of this is noise.Report

      • Avatar clawback says:

        Then I guess most of us aren’t engaged in an “honest fight” since the discussion involves contraception provided as a part of one’s work compensation, which is patently not “free”.Report

      • Avatar ktward says:

        I’ve no doubt you think so, Mr. Van Dyke. And I would no sooner attempt to disabuse you of your notions than I would a Limbaugh fan of his, whatever those notions might be. No doubt you and I disagree on what it is that constitutes noise, but like between music aficionados, it’s strictly a matter of opinion.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          Not atall, Ms. Ward, although your belief system apparently equates noise with music.  After all, they are all sounds, and to differentiate would be to discriminate, and we can’t have that.  We are egalitarians first and foremost.  One man’s noise is another woman’s music.

          As we see here today.  Rachel Maddow indeed.Report

          • Avatar ktward says:

            although your belief system apparently equates noise with music.

            What an inexplicably presumptive and, frankly, bizarre extrapolation from my altogether innocuous analogy. You must be very popular in debate circles. I don’t think you need concern yourself anymore over noise, however, because you seem to be digressing into babble.Report

      • Avatar Liberty60 says:

        If by “honest fight” you mean “Fox News talking point”, then sure by all means.

        Free contraception? in what way is it free? My health plan is a form of compensation, just like the way the company pays for my monthly rail pass; were they not to offer that, I would have negotiated a salary that was higher by that amount.

        As conservatives used to point out, there is no free lunch; contraceptive covereage is ultimately paid for by the employee in the form of lower wages or other compensation not offered.

        Its ironic that the people most likely to be conservative (the bidnessmen) understand that everything that is of value that you receive from your employer is “compensation”. If they offer you a health club membership, that is a wage under a different form; if you get a week in a ski condo in Vail, its as good as if they offered you cash. Yet we are now being told that contraceptive insurance coverege is something offered as charity.

        Religious liberty? In what way does a church get to decide that they can participate in the business world yet not abide by the same rules everyone else does?

        Doesn’t the church run soup kitchen still have to abide by the health code? Doesn’t the church hospital still have to comply with all other laws regarding medical facilities? In what way is insurance somehow exempt?

        Can hospitals run by pacifists refuse to serve military members? Can Muslim clinics refuse to treat Jews?

        Where are your boundaries of “religious liberty”?Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          Some very honest questions, Lib60.  High fives in the Amen Corner do get boring, eh?  I notice our libertarians have headed for the hills on this one, although I salute the couple pockets of resistance I see.

          Mostly they have been steered around by the more clever rafters.

          Oh, where to start on the adult conversation, then, the “honest fights”?

          Where are your boundaries of “religious liberty”?

          Not bad.  The Obama Admin would not have put Muslims in this coercive trap, I’ll tellya that much.

          Point of order, though:  Are you familiar with any of the religious liberty arguments on this issue, or must we start at the turnip-truck level, pretending we have both just fallen off it?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Dude, it’s Friday night. I’m drinkin’.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            “The Obama Admin would not have put Muslims in this coercive trap, I’ll tellya that much.”

            I’m not sure why you veered off in this direction, Tom.  Would you mind explaining to me why you think this?Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Dan Miller—The Obama Administration has started a fight with the Roman church on this.  If it honestly wanted free contraception for the otherwise uninsured, it would have found another way.

              It chose a fight.  This has nothing to do with the ‘health care” of women.  Let’s don’t pretend it does.

              Rush Limbaugh has nothing to do with any adult discussion of this.  One way or the other, pro or con.  Even Rick Santorum, the GOP presidential candidate who personally has lived his married life without contraception according to the teachings of his Roman church, vehemently denies he would ban contraception.

              This is all bullshit, Dan, a phony controversy.

              Except for the part here where the Obama Admin is bullying the Roman church.  That’s not good.  Even if the courts someday rule it legally passes First Amendment muster [I hope they don’t and I hope they won’t], it really doesn’t pass the spirit of it.

              And I’m frankly angry at President Obama for pushing this in an election year, or any other.  I think it stinks.  I disagree w/him on policy in general, but I think this controversy—that he started—has fouled the area that we and our American history has left as a “gray area.”

              “Tolerance” is the gray area.  It used to be, anyway.  President Obama is the aggressor here, not Rush Limbaugh.  Hint: one is our president, the other one is a talk radio host. If you can’t tell the difference, then you can’t tell the difference and you can”t hear a word I’m saying.


          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            Do Muslim mosques own any hospitals?Report

      • Avatar Simon K says:

        Who is talking about free contraception, Tom? We’re talking about contraception as part a health plan  that’s part of worker’s compensation. What are you talking about?Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          SimonK, the primary issue here is religious freedom per the First Amendment.  So let’s not lose sight of that.  Oh wait, have we already?

          Is contraception “health care”?  Is fertility a disease?  Is contraception a human right?  If so, then I guess we can legislate it down a religion’s throat and ignore the First Amendment.

          But I don’t think the above questions can be answered “yes” to the extent they trump the First Amendment. Not nearly.

          [Simon, I do hope you know I have no religious or philosophical objection to contraception whatsoever.  This ain’t about that.]



          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Tom, do you really believe that healthcare is only medical practices that cure existing maladies?Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              RTod, in reply to yrs—do you honestly feel this

              Tom, do you really believe that healthcare is only medical practices that cure existing maladies?

              addresses my previous?  If you wish to argue that contraception = healthcare, then pls simply do so and let’s see how that holds up.

              I wrote about far more than that narrow point.  My primary concern is religious liberty—even though I have no personal reservations about contraception.  I’m speaking on behalf of the religious liberty of others.

              Free—or insurance mandated—contraception to neutralize the effects of recreational sex, well, I’m not feeling the Constitution here, esp trumping the First Amendment and religion and all.

              Tom, do you really believe that healthcare is only medical practices that cure existing maladies?

              I’m not really anywhere near there on this, Tod, unless you can show me where I am. Got a colonoscopy coming up next month.  Bigtime.  What that has to do w/contraception I can’t charitably read you to, as much as I just tried.

              [I do know that you wish me luck on that, My Dear Scotch & Soda…]


              • Avatar greginak says:

                Why is “recreational sex” even in this discussion? How about wanting to control if they get pregnant even in a relationship for all sorts of reasons. Why, how often and with who women have sex with irrelevant to this.  Why are you even bringing it in to this? It suggests recreational sex is certainly part of the issue for you.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Your colonoscopy, health care.  Her birth control medication, not health care.

                And we wonder why they think there’s a patriarchy oppressing them?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Your colonoscopy, health care.  Her birth control medication, not health care.

                Yeah, unpack that some more, Michael.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Nah.  Preventive medicine.  Health care both.

                Anyway, the point is not whether  it is or isn’t.  The point is the second line.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                You’re welcome to say anything you want to say about it, though, of course, Tom.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:


                The point is not religious liberty. The point is the failings of the GOP machine behind the stark-raving-mad boastings of Rush “Contraceptions make girls sluts” Limbaugh. Just becausw YOU want to focus on the 1st dosn’t mean that is the foundation ofthis discussion.Report

          • Avatar Simon K says:

            I know where you’re coming from, Tom. I’m iffy on the religious freedom component of this. But let’s stay real – no-one is talking about entitlements to contraception or free contraception.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Wouldn’t that be a more elegant solution? Contraception as a public utility?Report

              • Avatar Simon K says:

                Where I grew up, healthcare is a public utility. It has its advantages and its drawbacks. But if the state is going to dominate purchasing in a market to the extent is basically controls prices  – as was the case even before PPACA – there’s certainly an efficiency argument that they should just take over provision and be done with it.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            Yes, contraception is health care.  And we’re not legislating anything down a religion’s throat.  We’re legislating a regulation of health insurance.  It’s not targeted at a religion.  Religious institutions are exempt.  Institutions that are affiliated with a religion but that clearly serve secular ends (such as providing health care) have a workaround that keeps them not directly involved with providing contraception (an accommodation which they have really no claim to, but it’s no skin off anyone’s nose, so why not?).Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            SimonK, the primary issue here is religious freedom per the First Amendment.  So let’s not lose sight of that.  Oh wait, have we already?

            Hey, you brought up the issue of “free” contraception, so just where do you find justification in telling someone else to ignore that issue?  If you think that talking about “free” contraception is losing sight of the issue, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself.

            From out here in flyover country, it looks like an awful lot like you realize you got caught in an error, and instead of copping to it you blame Simon for noticing it.

            There is no legitimacy in your response to him.Report

        • Avatar Rush's Oxycontin Dealer says:

          Apparently something gets lost in translation.

          I hear “health insurance covering everyone equally, regardless of religion, and letting them make their own procreative choices.”

          The other side hears “sluts demanding tax dollars pay for them to have sex” or something to that effect.

          Oh, and let’s not pretend “religious freedom” includes the ability to make other people follow your own particular cult’s religious edicts. We have separation of church and state for a reason. Didn’t someone round here point out there’s a big difference between a Catholic Church, which will have a severely limited number of employees and Conrad’s Catholic Burger Barn or something to that effect? We could take it to the logical extremes. Say someone is a Christian Scientist who owns a business, does that mean they get to claim a religious exemption and completely not cover ANY health insurance for their non-CS employees because CS’s don’t believe in modern medicine, vaccination, or hospitals? How about a business run by Scientologists, do they get to require that non-Scientologists can’t be covered to go to actual mental health professionals because the “religion” says that actual, licensed mental health professionals are the devil (for competing with the cult of scientology)?

          Devil’s in the details isn’t it?


          • Avatar Jon H says:

            Personally, I would prefer to favor the religious liberty of an individual, over the religious liberty of an incorporeal organization, in situations where the organization has some controlling relationship over the individual, such as employment.


      • Avatar Sam says:

        How will religious folks be unable to practice their religions tomorrow if their employees have access to contraception paid for by insurance plans?Report

  11. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    ‘Where are your boundaries of “religious liberty”?’

    When a religious organization, such as Islam, advocates the overthrow of the gummint. That was pretty easy.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      Psst, Mr. Cheeks—come over here for a second so I can slap you upside the head.

      Don’t go there, not because it’s not politically correct, but because it’s not quite accurate.  There is no “Islam” as you use it here.  Muslims on the whole do believe–or suspect, or hope—that humanity someday will submit itself to the perfect will of God: Islam, sharia, whathaveyou.

      But voluntarily.  This is no different than the bogeyman Dominionists of Rushdoony—“Christianists” in some parlance—who foresee a united states of America one day electing to become a United States of Christ.

      But lookee here—our lone Muslim in Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison, just stood up for the Christian/Muslim apostate that Iran is fixing to execute.


      This is a very good thing.  Religious liberty will not be achieved without everybody getting on board.

      Someday we’ll examine how religious liberty is perhaps the first and primary liberty, and how it became civil and political liberty in the Western world and eventually what we call ‘human rights” in this century.  It’s a fascinating story.

      And with over a billion Muslims on this earth, you—and we all—better start figuring out how to get everybody on board.

      [Which is why I’m exercised bigtime about this “religious liberty” thing re Obamacare.  I think we in this secular West take our incredible achievement of religious liberty, pluralism and co-existence for granted bigtime, and screw with it at our grave peril.  There’s a point where our gov’t will become illegitimate if it continues on this path of scorching the ideological earth.]




      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        So… a Blunt Amendment for every law, then?  A general Blunt Amendment?  Or just… interpret the First Amendment Blunt-style?  You don’t have to follow any law that requires you to do something contrary to your religion?  It’s certainly not a completely crazy reading of the First Amendment. Scalia disagrees (disagreed?). But so what?

        Otherwise, why is PPACA special?  There are other religious practices that have not been protected – are not protected – from the laws of the United States of America.  Was Obama/Congress just supposed to take special account of a particular religion when crafting this legislation (which they in fact crafted in the general interest, not with special regard or malice for any religious sect)?  I don’t think there’s a way to argue that the requirement to provide health insurance that includes contraceptives to employees as part of compensation if you have more than so many is more targeted at Catholics so as to restrict the exercise of their religion than the laws outlawing polygamy were actually laws directly targeted at a particular religious practice.


        • Avatar Murali says:

           You don’t have to follow any law that requires you to do something contrary to your religion?  It’s certainly not a completely crazy reading of the First Amendment. Scalia disagrees (disagreed?). But so what?

          Almost every law (we dont want the throwing of virgins into volcanos). The basic idea is freedom of consicence on everything except the most fundamental duties people owe to eachother and the state (respecting each other’s rights and paying their taxes). There is a worry about moral hazard and unintended consequences, but it looks like a good way put a backdoor into a more libertarian system.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            Well, I think I’m more or less aware of aware of what the libertarian would want – they wouldn’t want laws that do more than encode the fundamental duties (not harming each other, etc) in the first place.  So it conscience exceptions and liberal interpretation aren’t of interest as a firstorder matter.  I’m not particularly interested in your interest in this as way to get to a situation closer to this ideal.  I’m interested in what Tom, who i don’t believe is a libertarian – he says we do legislate morality, and I take him to mean that he thinks we should to a certain extent – sees as the ideal approach.  In other words, i don’t take him to have that much of a limited government view – occasionally the legislature will get it into its head to legislate something beyond what you mention, and i take him to be potentially okay with that subject to his substantive opinion on it (i.e. it’s not just presumptively invalid because it goes beyond that framework of constraint you give).  So what i want to know is, in his view, should the government be seeking out all the ways any law might require people of any one of the religions to do something against their teachings?  When they find one of these conflicts, should they

            – immediately abandon the idea?

            – find a way to change the legislation generally to avoid the conflict?

            – if they find that the basic aim of the legislation can’t be achieved while changing it in such a way that avoids all such conflicts, or think that the result of those changes results in a law not in the public interest, but that still pursuing this interest with this law is in the public interest, amend a religious conscience clause to the legislation to allow anyone with  religious conflict to opt out of complying with it?

            – or should they just pass the law that achieves the aim they want to achieve and let courts review whether religious liberty has been infringed? (For the legal eagles around here, as a mater of jursiprudence, can religious conscience exemptions essentially be enacted into laws through judicial review?  Meaning, if a court finds that someone’s free exercise has been restricted, but that the law has an aim that is not meant to do that, can it simply find that the government must not enforce the law against this person in that way, but that the law is not broadly invalid?  I take it they cannot, but what exactly is the reason they can’t – why are the options only, ‘Provision is constitutional’ or ‘Provision is unconstitutional’?  And why can the legislature do this but not a court?

            It’s odd that you would say what “the” basic idea is when I’m asking what Tom’s basic idea is.  I wouldn’t have thought you would consider yourself so much on the same wavelength with Tom as to be able to say what the basic idea is on a question posed to him.Report

  12. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Poor Sandra Fluke. Her friend’s lady parts were so troublesome she needed a massive dose of birth control pills, $3000 worth, else her ovary would grow a head and start talking.

    That’s not funny, Ms. Falani.  Well, actually it’s funny as hell.

    No, wait, it’s not funny.  I didn’t mean to laugh.  I didn’t laugh.  Not funny.  Never mind.

    But it was funny.  Because Sandra Fluke’s tales have absolutely nothing to do with the current controversy because nobody nowhere is talking about denying her friend’s ovary any necessary medical care whatsoever.


    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      “For my friend and 20% of the women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription. Despite verifications of her illness from her doctor, her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted birth control to prevent pregnancy … After months paying over $100 out-of-pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore, and she had to stop taking it … Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result.”

      Hilarious, am I right? It’s even funnier because it actually happened! And the amendment proposed by the GOP would entirely eliminate the exception requirement for any business. Hysterical!Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        There are better ways to handle insurance fraud than by preventing employers from customising the insurance they offer.

        The problem wih American legislation I think is that people move from there is a problem to something must be done to this particular thing must be done regardless of any other consequences it may have.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          Not the issue.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          …I mean, it’s an important issue in itself, but we considered it and went in a particular direction.  So that issue is settled now, at least to an extent.  Now we have to figure out how to implement it.  What I mean is, people who are fighting this are fighting for a broader exemption to the standardization, not fighting the fight about whether or not to standardize health plan offerings.  We did it, and I think peole do tend to like the idea that they know what they’re going to get from insurance, since being surprised about it was one of the biggest complaints that led to this aspect of the legislation (which, it’s true, doesn’t mean that this extent of standardization had to be the way to fix that.  But it’s what we did).  So, now we have to deal with it.  I guess you can be all ‘told you so’ about it, but it’s not clear to me we regret it yet.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          …I think replies are failing.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Well, it’s funny because it happened to the friend of a law student. Context is everything, right?Report

    • Avatar Jon H says:

      “Because Sandra Fluke’s tales have absolutely nothing to do with the current controversy because nobody nowhere is talking about denying her friend’s ovary any necessary medical care whatsoever.”

      Medical care for her friend’s ovary consisted of birth control pills, which she couldn’t afford, even though she was paying for insurance through the school, and required to do so.

      Please, get your facts straight.Report

  13. Avatar Rush's Oxycontin Dealer says:

    At the risk of being superficial, we have a conflict between two ideologies right now.

    Ideology #1 says: “If you don’t like (insert item or practice here), then don’t buy one or participate in it.”

    Ideology #2 says: “Our religion says (insert item or practice here) is sinful, therefore you (who aren’t a member of our religion) should be prohibited from doing it.”

    If only we could get to the point where the people who subscribe to Ideology #2 are so few that they really, really don’t matter – wouldn’t that be spectacular?Report

  14. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    As I said, not the issue.Report

  15. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Hell of a post, Erik.  One of those special moments when outrage, a substantive issue, and an eloquent explication come together in one powerful package.Report

  16. Avatar Liberty60 says:

    Maybe lets compromise-

    If the Church wants to offer health covereage to their employees, but exempt contraceptive coverage, then maybe they can offer a cash compensation equal so that the employees can purchase separate coverage on their own.Report

  17. Avatar LaurNo says:

    “Meanwhile those conservative pariahs who refuse to box themselves into the language of the right – the Daniel Larisons and David Frums of the world – will continue their trek along the fringe of that strange mechanical snow-globe, peering in at a movement long lost in its own linguistics, on the other side of that veil of words.”


    This is some excellent writing. Bravo.Report

  18. Avatar Mike says:

    Limbaugh didn’t throw a stop stick into the political discourse by using the word slut any more than Ed Schultz did by calling Laura Ingraham a slut.  That comment didn’t halt political discourse because it wasn’t noticed outside of the right blogosphere.  Limbaugh can make a comment and it’s run on the the 3 network’s nightly news shows, and I’m sure it will occupy a good deal of the Sunday morning talking heads coverage.

    The media notices what it wants to notice.Report

  19. Avatar Jon H says:

    Do many Republicans think Ann Coulter is a 50 year old virgin?Report

  20. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Alright, fine, turn your flamethowers in this direction, because I’ve now wasted an hour reading up on this whole shame spiral of controversy here and here and elsewhere and, as far as I can tell, here’s what happened: the Obama administration really fishing stepped in it in a very stupid way, which has led to Republicans running around in circles, screaming about how the very survival of the Catholic Church is at stake here- or, in other words, hey, let’s see how much bullshit point scoring we can get out of the other side’s fish up!

    In the course of that usual circular running and screaming, professional dumb asshole Rush Limbaugh said some pretty horrible things about a law student that were totally uncalled for, typical dumb asshole behavior, and the elected Republican real men are terrified of being hit if they stand up to a radio show host, which is pretty funny if anything- and this has led to Democrats running around in circles, screaming about how the very freedom of women to express themselves in public is at stake here- or, in other words, hey, let’s see how much bullshit point scoring we can get out of the other side’s fish up!

    Can I just venture a guess that, if I continue to ignore this for the next, let’s say year, that I won’t visit the states and find that Obama has revoked the Edict of Nantes or that women are walking ten steps behind their male partners?

    Okay, had to get that off my chest. Now, someone tell me (in a non-Rush Limbaugh way) what major pieces of the puzzle I’m missing here.

    Edit: Oh, and just to note: goddamn, some of you dudes have no idea how you sound when responding to female commenters here!Report

    • Avatar BSK says:


      All I will say is that some people (generally Republican but not exclusively, generally conservative but not exclusively, generally religious but not exclusively) raised legitimate concern about the contraceptive’s mandate impact on the autonomy of religious institutions for far more defensible reasons than scoring political points.  And that some people (generally Democrat but not exclusively, generally liberal but not exclusively, generally female but not exclusively) raised legitimate concern and offense about Limbaugh’s comments and the larger implications it had for the Republican party, women advocates, and the course of discourse for far more defensible reasons than scoring political points.  Rush Limbaugh continues to be Rush Limbaugh; I have yet to see a reasonable justification or defense of his language.  This, in addition to most of the rest of your comment, stand.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Yeah, I can see the legitimate concerns underlying both arguments, which I tried to suggest in the comment, but, let’s be honest, some of the people speaking in a hyperbolic way about these great threats to human freedom itself are, perhaps, being a bit disingenuous, no?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          I think not disingenuous so much as over-excited.  I think there’s something very primal in us that actually likes feeling outrage as part of a group.  Which isn’t to say that outrage isn’t sometime called for; just that I think we all sometimes find ways to convince ourselves that the survival of everything is at stake even when it clearly isn’t.  It’s sincere, just not well thought out.Report

        • Avatar BSK says:

          Oh, absolutely.  That is why I used the word “some”.  There was some light and a ton of heat.

          What I struggle with is figuring out who is being deliberately disingenuous and who is stark raving mad… I’d prefer to give the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not sure which one of those would qualify as such!Report

  21. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Welcome, Ms. Ozen.  You make my points better than I ever could.  Peace, I’m out.Report