The Sisters are Having Nun of It

The Little Sisters of the Poor had their day at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, and we wish them well for a variety of reasons.
The nuns of the venerable order are by all accounts a fine group of women who have devoted their lives to providing care for the elderly poor, and not at all the sorts who would ordinarily find themselves in any court of law, but in ordinary times the government wouldn’t be bullying them into buying contraceptive coverage in their health care plans.
As the Little Sisters have taken a vow of chastity they have no need for such coverage, and therefor object to paying for it, which strikes us as such a reasonable objection it would have ordinarily settled the matter. The notion that the government can force anyone to purchase whatever health care coverage the government deems necessary has already been settled at the Supreme Court, however, so the current case is more specific. There’s also the matter of whether people should be forced to subsidize behaviors they find morally objectionable, but that was largely unsettled by the Hobby Lobby decision, which involved some fine Protestant folks with similar objections, and the current case is unlikely to make that any clearer. Some legal legerdemain in some statement of policy authorized by some agency created and authorized to make policy under some sub-sub-section of the 2,000-plus page Obamacare law has supposedly freed the sisters from directly paying for their own contraception, but in a way that still contributes to the law’s stated objective of making contraception universally available to less chaste women. The Little Sisters of the Poor would rather not participate in that, for beliefs you might not agree with but which we think they’re perfectly entitled to hold, yet at this point it seems more likely to come down to a matter of whether the technicalities found in that 2,000-plus page and already affirmed Obamacare law allow such governmental bullying of such fine women who do all the humble work that the government somehow never gets around to.
Which is why even the most zealously secular sorts should be wishing the Little Sisters of the Poor well. What’s being challenged in the Supreme Court isn’t an act of Congress, but rather an act of an agency that was created by a Congress that hadn’t bothered to read it’s own unreadable act and probably had no idea that it would wind up with the Little Sisters of the Poor being bullied into chipping in so some less chaste women could party it up without consequence, and sooner or later that kind of government’s going to cut even the worst of us down.

— Bud Norman

Second Thoughts on a Sexual Revolution

One of the compensating advantages of growing older is that one’s sex drive eventually diminishes to a point it no longer overwhelms dignity, dispassionate analysis, common sense, simple courtesy, and other higher impulses of the human soul. At least that used to be so, until modern pharmacology and Madison Avenue started selling perpetually teenaged libidinousness, but now it seems that the older the United States of America gets the more its public square becomes obsessed with private parts.
The economy is contracting and the national debt is rising, murders are up in the recently burned-down sections of Baltimore and other cities where the police are in retreat, a head-chopping gang of Islamist psychopaths calling themselves the Islamic State are conquering more of the Middle East, and similarly significant stories abound for those still interested in finding them, but dip into a random magazine story or coffeehouse conversation and the subject is more likely to have something to do with sex. If it’s not the former Bruce Jenner’s glamour girl appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair or that hipster co-ed hauling a mattress around Columbia University to protest a “culture of rape” in higher education, it’s the latest court ruling on same-sex marriage or one of those stories that keep popping up lately about women teachers in the middle schools with an unaccountable attraction to schoolboys. There also the usual tawdry sex scandals in Washington and every state capital, all the tiresome and un-erotic babble about the intersectionality of race and class and gender categories and the fluidity of sexual identity and the rest of that cacophonous jargon one suddenly needs in order to be conversant down at the coffeehouse, and of course there are still plenty of those biennial election-cycle allegations about the Republicans’ insidious plot to revive the Comstock Law and restore the patriarchy and roll back the glorious sexual revolution that has brought about these happy times.
The entertainment media are similarly sexually obsessed, as we suppose they have been at least since the silent movie days of Clara “The It Girl” Bow, and judging by what we see on models on the high-fashion runways and the starlets at the award show red carpets and the scantily-clad women staggering on the cracked sidewalks outside the low places of our prairie hometown the entire women’s clothing industry is as well. Sit-coms, hip-hop records, television advertisements, magazine covers, “reality shows,” late night cable programming, all the fawning attention paid to that naked fat woman from HBO’s “Girls,” entire departments of modern academia, along with the rest of our culture, including the more up-to-date churches, all proclaim an age of unfettered sexual freedom and endless bacchanal and infernal bickering over the proper terminology and protocol to make it all go smoothly. People who used to explain themselves to strangers in terms of their occupation or denominational affiliation or number of children now identify themselves by their sexual preference or “gender identity,” any sexual predilection, no matter how arcane or disconcerting to normal sensibilities, now has a web site and a lobbying group and “community” of like-minded people to provide encouragement, and the Roe v. Wade decision and an Obamacare law that mandates contraception and abortifacient coverage for everyone from nuns to Baptist businessmen and a host of other public policies make it all official, and anybody who admits any discomfort with this state of affairs is routinely dismissed from polite conversation as a blue-nosed puritan.
So far as we can glean from the snippets of boisterous conversation we involuntarily overhear from the fashionably hirsute fellows and their tattooed but otherwise comely young women companions in the next booth at a coffeehouse where we drink beer and grouse about foreign policy and economics and baseball with a gray-haired pal of ours, and from the often tragic gossip we can’t avoid despite our best efforts in our infrequent social encounters elsewhere, as well as the conspicuous lack of non-political and non-sports conversation we share with our gray-haired friend, it doesn’t seem to be working out very well for anyone. As we read the news, with agedly skeptical eyes unaffected by modern pharmacology and largely immune to the blandishments of Madison Avenue, we find further confirmation that no one out there seems genuinely satisfied with the situation.
That campus “culture of rape” that the young woman with the mattress and the Senator from California and the editorialists at the big papers and the rest of the feminist establishment are so worried about doesn’t seem to be so much an epidemic of college boys forcing themselves with brute strength onto unwilling young innocents as it is a widespread regret with the consensual albeit slightly reluctant “hook-up” encounters that have become so common since universities stopped being in loco parentis and started being simply loco. We’re sympathetic to the young women’s plight, as our hazy memories still recall the social pressures that accompany sexual desire and how very powerfully they can affect someone who hasn’t yet acquired advanced age and diminished sex drive, and how very grave the consequences can be, yet we find ourselves averse to their cause. Unable to come right out and call for a return to chivalry and chastity and the rest of that religious ’50s-era repression stuff, the “culture of rape” critics and their friends at the Department of Justice are urging that due process be suspended for any college boy accused of letting his sex drive overwhelm his dignity, dispassionate analysis, common sense, courtesy, and other higher impulses of the human soul, even if it didn’t cross any established legal boundaries, and was well within the standards of unfettered sexual freedom and endless bacchanal that has been officially established as the societal norm, and we don’t believe that will work.
Nor do we believe that the former Bruce Jenner will likely find genuine satisfaction by having his penis and testes amputated, no matter how comely he might appear through the miracles of Vanity Fair’s photographic and make-up and air-brushing experts. That’s not just our admittedly uniformed opinion, as even a doctor at Johns Hopkins University, which was once the first hospital in America to perform “sex-change operations,” argues that the procedure doesn’t really change a person’s sex, tends to result in a suicide rate 20 times that of the general population, and is no longer done at his institution because some patients’ claims to be “‘satisfied’ but ‘still troubled'” are “an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.” The social consensus seems to be otherwise, what with the all-powerful ESPN sports network awarding the former Bruce Jenner its “Arthur Ashe Courage Award” rather than to an Iraq War veteran who became a successful athlete and “Dancing on the Stars” competitor despite the double amputations he endured from his service to his country, but we don’t think that will work, either.
All that blather about people basing their self-estem and personal identities on their sexual predilections seems equally futile, as a person’s occupation and numbers of children and denominational affiliation will ultimately have more important social consequences, and little of the rest of it makes any sense from our admittedly straight white Christian Republican conservative perspective here in the middle of America. Straight white male Christian Republican conservatives in the middle of America that we are, over the years we’ve had a number of dear friends who were homosexual or bisexual or something for which we’re not even sure what the currently polite terminology would be, but all had admirable attributes we found in common which seemed entirely unrelated to either their sexuality or ours. They seemed to find something in common with us as well, and some valuable friendships have resulted, so we are inclined to believe that social interactions are best conducted on such terms. By now we are inured to even the most lurid tales of heterosexual and homosexual and bisexual and whatever your might call it behavior, and you don’t even need to couch your back alley encounter in terms of “love,” as the homosexual lobby and broader sexual freedom movement routinely does, but we can’t help noticing that the tellers of these tales never sound genuinely satisfied, and that the fulfillment of their overwhelming sexual desires has come at the expense of some noticeable measure of dignity, dispassionate analysis, common sense, simple courtesy, and other higher impulses of the human soul. This surely marks us as blue-nosed puritans, but we suppose we’ll just have to declare that an oppressed identity and start a web site and hire some lobbyists and find a community of like-minded individuals to encourage such anti-social tendencies.
We have no hope or even any desire of reviving the Comstock Laws or restoring the patriarchy or rolling back the glorious sexual revolution that has brought us such happy times, nor do we believe that any other straight white male Christian Republican conservatives entertain such fanciful fantasies, but of course those allegations will continue. During the last presidential election the former Clinton family operative and putative American Broadcasting Company “journalist” George Stephanopoulos quizzed all the Republican presidential contenders about their stand on banning contraception, and despite all of those candidates’ obviously sincere confusion about what the hell he was talking about we were overhearing coffeehouse conversation about the Republicans’ attempts to revive the Comstock Laws and how it was far more important than the national debt or the deteriorating situation in the Middle East or the economy of any of that that asexual stuff. As a matter of fact, which is still out there for those who take in an interest in such outdated concepts as facts, the congressional Republicans are currently pressing for over-the-counter contraception deregulations that the Democrats and their doctor-lobby pals oppose, but in the end this will matter even less than the fact that former Bruce Jenner will still won’t be a woman even after his normal male organs have been lopped off.
We’ve also given up any hope of restoring the patriarchy, and won’t lament the worst of it, and we continue to wish our best to all those women who find fulfillment in the workplace and other non-traditional niches of our society but can’t help noticing that its passing is not without some unfortunate consequences. The patriarchy has already been quite thoroughly smashed in such places as those burned-out neighborhoods in Baltimore and the other murder-ridden jurisdictions where fathers are rare and even  the police are in retreat, and the social consequences don’t seem nearly so idyllic as what was promised, and we’re skeptical that whatever comes in its wake in the rest of the country will be any more successful. This will also mark us as blue-nosed puritans, but we suppose that we’ll just have to start a web site and hire a lobbyist and seek the company of like minded-indivuals as well as stocking up on whatever guns and ammunition are still legally available to deal with that.
Our personal inclination, after so many years of being young and libidinous and our many dear friendships with heterosexuals and homosexuals and bisexuals and whatever you’re supposed to call them, is to live and let live. That’s why we’re still affiliated with a Republican party that isn’t really calling for a revival of the Comstock Laws or fighting for the maintenance of an imperfect patriarchy or hoping to roll back the sexual revolution to the point that the married sit-com characters are still sleeping in separate beds, as Rob and Laura Petrie did on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” of our innocent youth, but we would appreciate a more agedly asexual and dignified and dispassionate and commonly courteous assessment of the rest of it.
The left’s reaction to oppressing gender discrimination of the Islamic world has been heartening to us, and we believe its revulsion of that culture’s murderous homophobia is entirely justified, but for the sake of solidarity we’d like to see it must some outrage about Islamism’s executions of Christians and Jews and the rest of the privileged people they’ve lately been executing. It would also  be nice if the oh-so-sensitive sensibiliies of the left would consider one parent homes affected those inner-city neighborhoods they claim to care about . We further suspect that the left’s indifference to the matter of national debt also derives fro the fact that it will eventually be dealt with by the children they never had, thanks to Roe v. Wade and all those contraceptive mandates and the rest of the popular culture and official mandates, and that all of these issues are being considered from the perspective of a society that by virtue of modern pharmacology and Madison Avenue are considering these issues from the perspective of perpetually teenaged libidos, and at the risk of sounding blue-nosed and puritan we’d like to see an end to that. It would be nice, too, if the left’s preference for unfettered freedom were extended beyond the bedroom and into the workplace and the rest of those boring areas of life. We’d also prefer that the facts of biology and economics and basic human nature prevail, and a world where women don’t freely admit to voting with their private parts rather than their brains, but that’s about as likely as a revival of the Comstock Law.

— Bud Norman

A Coming Issue

The Supreme Court has been hearing oral arguments in the case of Obergefell v Hodges, better known as the “gay marriage” case, and one exchange between the government’s lawyers and two of the Justices is worth note.
Chief Justice John Roberts started it by asking if a religious school that had married housing would be required to accommodate same-sex couples, and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli answered that it would be a matter left to the states, and when pressed by Roberts about federal law Verilli said, “There is no federal law now generally banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that’s where those issues are going to have to be worked out.” Justice Samuel Alito later noted that Bob Jones University had lost its tax-exempt status as a result of its rules against inter-racial dating by students, and wondered if institutions with traditional notions of homosexuality would be similarly affected, to which Verrilli replied, “You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”
Sometimes the big stories sneak up on a country, but in this case we have been duly forewarned by a remarkably candid Solicitor General. Whether or not any institution of freely associated Americans can continue to hew to a traditional ideal of sexual morality without penalty is going to be an issue. Most churches hew to a traditional ideal of sexual morality, as do most synagogues, and even the more moderate mosques are downright strict about it, which will raise all sorts of interesting multi-cultural issues for the sorts of people who concern themselves with such things, and many of the unchurched and apolitical are also reluctant to embrace the newly fashionable attitudes, so we expect it’s going to be quite an issue. There’s already a broader of issue about religious freedom, which includes another case awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision about Obamacare’s requirement that nuns purchase contraceptive coverage as part of their health care plans, and the debate about whether businesses should be compelled to participate in same-sex marriages, and elite opinion’s general disdain for Judeo-Christian western civilization, and a Solicitor General has made clear that there’s more coming.

— Bud Norman

What’s On All The Magazine Covers at the Check-Out Line

We have to admire Bruce Jenner’s courage. We don’t mean his publicly declared intention to undergo a sex change, which these days doesn’t entail any risk except fawning press coverage and a lucrative reality show deal, but rather his willingness to publicly state that he is a Republican and Christian, which does invite public public scorn and ridicule and economic consequences.
Jenner’s surgical transformation is big news, judging by all the celebrity magazine and gossip tabloids that adorn the checkout lines at our local supermarket, although we’re not sure why. Older readers with good memories for sports trivia will recall Jenner as the boyishly handsome and seemingly wholesome fellow who once won the Olympic decathlon and wound up on the Wheaties box, but that was way back when we were in high school, and we assumed he had long since faded into the obscurity that eventually awaits all but the most storied athletes of the professional ranks. Apparently he was living next door to some people called the Kardashians, whose lives are apparently broadcast on a television program that is apparently popular for some reason, and that and a 39-year-old Olympic medal are apparently enough to make his sexual identity issues a matter of national importance.
Once upon a less strange time we would have been quite content to regard it as a private matter what Jenner does with his impressively athletic body, but these days there are no private matters and some public opinion must be rendered about everything, so we find ourselves almost forced to give some consideration to such unsettling issues as that surgical genital mutilation Jenner intends to undergo, and to publicly admit our resulting uneasiness. We realize that bien pensant opinion expects us to celebrate Jenner’s choices, along with whatever other choices less celebrated individuals might make regarding their sexuality, but some hidebound Burkean aspect of our temperament can’t quite muster the requisite enthusiasm. At this point the sample of people who have undergone sex-change surgery is still smaller than any properly apolitical social scientist would draw any conclusions from, and it no doubt includes some who found that having their genitals surgically altered did not alleviate whatever happiness them to do such a thing, and almost certainly includes some who find themselves regretting the procedure, just as people often regret such far less drastic body mutilations as rhinoplasty and breast enhancements and tattoos, and we’ve not yet seen any convincing argument that surgically altering one’s genitals into an approximation of the opposite sex is ever a good idea. Social attitudes have previously been so negative toward the procedure that only the most determinedly “transgendered” have endured the stigma, so we expect there are some out there who are determinedly pleased with the decision, but one wonders what the numbers will be once those social strictures have been removed.
Nor do we believe that a sex-change operation actually changes a person from one sex to another, any more than having a prosthetic fin implanted on one’s back will make him a dolphin, but of course this runs up against considerable fashionable opinion from the cultural left about the liberating diversity of sexual identities, which are now seemingly more plentiful than the cable television channels on a premium package. All these expansive notions of human sexuality are new to us, so we can’t claim any definitive knowledge to disprove them, but they’re also relatively new to the rest of humankind, and we are unconvinced that anyone can definitively prove them. The old-fashioned dichotomy of male and female sexes is based on an easily observable biological fact, and has been recognized as such by every major religion of every successful society for the past many millennia of civilization, and informed their views on matters ranging from marriage to public accommodations to parental responsibility to the propagation of both the society and the species. All of which makes it unacceptable to the cultural left, of course, which hopes to replace such archaic biological facts with a brave new world of bacchanalian delights in exponentially increasing variations of sexual identity along with a rigid list of new regulations for every other aspect of your life. As imperfect as the past many millennia of human civilization have been, we have little confidence that this brave new world will fare any better. The cultural left might yet succeed in ridding humankind of religion, even if they’re likely to some more violent resistance in the Islamized portions the planets, which will create all sorts of multi-cultural dilemmas, but eventually biology will prevail.
Which makes it all the more imperative for the cultural left to assail the two sexes and the rest of that religious hoodoo, and all the more remarkable that Jenner would admit to an interviewer that he is not only a Christian and Republican but a Christian Republican. Bien pensant opinion regards Christianity and the GOP not only as the enemy of such such oppressed transferred souls as Jenner but anyone having fun outside a procreative marriage as evil, according to the cultural left, but worse is standing in the way of that rigid list of new regulations of every other aspect of your life. Lest one think we’re prone to straight white Christian male paranoia, we note that Catholic nuns are being forced to purchase contraceptive coverage as part of their health insurance, Christian businessmen are being denied the right to sell chicken sandwiches or work at the computer companies they helped found because of their religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage, and the woman widely presumed to the be the next President of the United States has declared that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed” to accommodate her views on abortion. The cultural left is more upset with Jenner for being a Republican than any Republicans are about him wanting to transition from a good-looking guy to a rather ugly woman, and the Republicans are certainly less likely to boycott the sponsors of any reality show that results from the whole affair, and eventually one has to ask which side is more intolerant.
Jenner can do as he pleases, as far as our hidebound Burkean selves are concerned, and we’re certainly not going to show up at the operating room in a suicide belt, and we wish him well and hope he’ll keep voting Republican, even if it does little good in California. We also hope that his Christian faith serves him long after his surgically-altered body has come to pass, but we would have preferred that he’d kept it a private matter. A certain public queasiness about this sort of thing is not inappropriate.

— Bud Norman

Polls, Politics, and Prioritizing Our Problems

All that “tranquility of the global community” the White House spokesman was recently boasting about dominated Thursday’s news, what with Israeli ground troops entering Gaza and a jet from the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines being shot down over Russian-occupied Ukraine, so it would have been easy to overlook an intriguing Gallup poll about what worries Americans most. The litany’s top top five doesn’t include the deteriorating international order, which should come as a relief to that insouciant White House spokesman, but neither does it include any good news for the Democrats.
Topping the list of most important problems is “immigration/illegal aliens,” which has shot up the charts since the recent invasion by unaccompanied minors from Central America, and the racist xenophobes of the Republican party are likely beneficiaries of the public’s concern. The Democrats and their media allies will have a hard time convincing anyone that the Republicans’ racism and xenophobia are what’s drawing tens of thousands of expensive illegal youngsters to the country, rather than the Democrats’ more compassionate and caring policy of holding out hope of amnesty and free stuff, and other polls indicate that most Americans are more inclined to the racist and xenophobic option of returning the invaders to their homelands.
Coming in a close second is the hodgepodge of “Dissatisfaction with government, Congress, politicians, poor leadership, corruption, Abuse of Power,” which is at least open to hopeful interpretations. The White House will prefer to read this as a righteous anger against those obstructionist Republicans in Congress who stubbornly refuse to rubber stamp the president’s agenda, but we expect that many respondents had in mind the Internal Revenue Service and Veterans Administration and National Security Agency scandals and any number of other problems that have more to do with the executive branch. Much of that dissatisfaction with Congress is caused by the Democrat-controlled Senate, too, and the Republicans in the other chamber don’t seem to have much power to abuse.
The “economy in general” comes in second and “unemployment, jobs” in third, and a sensible combination of these two would have probably come in first. The Democrats will argue that these problems could have been easily solved if only those darned Republicans had allowed them to rack up the national debt by a few more billion and add another million or so pages of regulations for the understaffed compliances offices of America’s corporations to comply with, but the Republicans should be able to get a few votes and a lot of laughs out of that.
“Poor healthcare, hospitals, high cost of health care” comes in fourth on the list, so the Republicans will have a head start on convincing the American public that Obamacare hasn’t solved all that. Despite an almost complete absence of news coverage, “federal budget deficit, federal” debt comes in at a surprisingly strong fifth place. The Democrats will boast that they’ve cut those deficits to less than the recent trillion dollar highs, even as they lambaste the Republicans for their stingy ways, but this far the public is not reassured. “Education, poor education, access” to education are the public’s sixth most pressing problem, and the teachers unions will need to spend a lot of dues money to convince any voters that they just need more funding and continued tenure and that federalized Common Core Curriculum to make things right at school. “Ethics, moral, religious, family decline” comes in eighth, and the party that would compel nuns to purchase contraceptives is not likely to appeal the people with those worries.
Democrats can take some hope in noting that “Poverty, hunger, homelessness” came in ninth, as these are the party’s traditional causes, but they’ll have to hope that nobody notices there’s more of all of them after six years of a Democratic presidency. It’s also good news for the Democrats that “foreign aid, focus overseas” barely made the top ten.
What’s missing from the top ten is also a problem for the Democrats. Only one percent of the poll’s respondents cited “race relations and racism” as the nation’s most pressing problem, and it’s probably a similar number who will take seriously the notion that racism is the sole reason for any dissatisfaction with the president. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision doesn’t rate any mention, even though it’s a staple of Democratic fund-raising and the Senate Democrats regard it as such a crisis that the First Amendment needs amending as a result. The Hobby Lobby decision is also unmentioned by any of the respondents, even though the Democrats are raising even more money with claims that it’s the first step toward the Republicans’ nefarious plot to subjugate women to bare feet and pregnancy. The even more nefarious plot by to Koch Brothers to do God only knows what was also overlooked, although that can cited by the fund-raising Democrats as further proof of how very ingeniously wicked is the conspiracy. We also note that income inequality and global warming and transgendered rights and all the other issues that seem to excite a certain sort of Democrat are not high on the list of what the general public is worried about.
We don’t have much regard for the general public, but is heartening to see that they have more sensible priorities than a certain sort of Democrat.

— Bud Norman

Nuns Dare Call It Conspiracy

When they’re not pursuing the economic policies that have brought female workforce participation rates to a post-feminism low, or chasing interns around the office, or bemoaning the Republicans’ “War on Women,” Democrats have lately been waging a war on the Little Sisters of the Poor. Surprisingly enough, the Little Sisters of the Poor seem to be getting the better of it.
For those unfamiliar with this fine organization, the Little Sisters of the Poor is an order of Catholic nuns who have been caring for the elderly since Saint Jeanne Jugan brought a blind and paralyzed old woman in from the cold of a French winter in 1839, and despite its good works in cities across America since arriving in Cincinnati in 1868 it went largely unnoticed until the Obamacare law mandated it provide contraception coverage for all its members and workers. The order’s vow of chastity rendered such coverage unnecessary for its members, and its strict adherence to Catholic doctrine made facilitating the use of contraception by any of its more permissive-minded employees a moral hazard, so it took its much-publicized case to court. Although the matter remains to be sorted out by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which will no doubt take its sweet time deciding if the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom still means anything, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Little Sisters of the Poor can continue their good works in accordance with their consciences until the case reaches a definitive legal conclusion. The injunction was issued without dissent, which bodes well for the Little Sisters’ chances when the case inevitably reaches the highest court.
That would be the highest secular court, of course, and the Little Sisters seem quite confident in winning on their most final appeal. They also stand a good chance of winning in the court of public opinion, which is almost as important and has more far-reaching political implications. Bullying a bunch of nuns who have devoted their lives to serving the aged and needy into subsidizing the swinging sex lives of libidinous young Democrats cannot be good public relations, even in this day and age, and the cautious tone of the mainstream press coverage suggests they’d rather not be talking about the at all. The very name of the case — “Little Sisters of the Poor, et al, V. Sebelius, Sec. of H&HS, et al” — is too damning for most reporters to mention.
Some Democrats are so reverent of government and hostile toward religion that they will instinctively side with the defendant, and for reasons we cannot quite ascertain they are especially annoyed by anything Catholic, but we hope this remains a minority view. Whatever one thinks of the Little Sisters’ theological reasons they cannot be faulted for their undeniable altruism for the neediest people of our society, as much as Democrats might resent the proof they have no monopoly on that virtue, and they make for a very sympathetic plaintiff. The more hysterical leftists are already alleging a papist conspiracy by the Court’s unprecedented Catholic majority, but they can’t deny that the majority is comprised of justices from both the right and left, that none of the Protestant minority offered a dissent, that the plaintiff’s “et al” includes numerous Protestant charities, that the main defendant and many of her own “et als” are Catholics, and that the underlying issue of freedom of religion is of vast importance to any person of faith no matter his creed.
Higher costs, less coverage, massive federal debt, bureaucratic bungling, and countless other practical problems are the main reasons for Obamacare’s widespread unpopularity and eventual repeal, but here’s hoping that its iron-fisted authoritarianism and lack of regard for individual rights has something to do with it as well. If the government can force the Little Sisters of the Poor to act against their highly-refined consciences, it will be hard for anyone to resist, and if the Little Sisters of the Poor can prevail, it will be a victory for everyone.

— Bud Norman

Hooray for Hobby Lobby

None of our hobbies require the kinds of materials that are sold by the Hobby Lobby chain, and thus we have never so much as entered one of its stores, but it has nonetheless joined Koch Industries and the Wham-O Corporation as one of our favorite companies.
Hobby Lobby enjoys a stellar reputation for the quality and value of its goods, and by all accounts treats is customers and workers according to the highest standards of business ethics, but the reason for our newfound enthusiasm is the company’s legal challenge to one of the more appalling provisions of Obamacare. The widely hated health care reform law dictates that all companies provide insurance covering abortifacients to their employees, and the same Christian convictions that cause Hobby Lobby’s ownership to treat its customers and employees by the highest standards of business ethics also oppose any form of abortion, so the company has boldly vowed to take its conscientious objections all the way to the Supreme Court.
Even the most administration-friendly media are expecting Hobby Lobby to prevail, and we hope they are right. Compelling people with a moral revulsion to abortion is tyranny, as well as an absurd contradiction of the left’s self-righteous claim of being “pro-choice,” and if it is allowable within the constitution it is impossible to conceive what is not. The Supreme Court has already decreed that a constitution clearly intended to impose restraints on government power does not restrain the government from forcing individuals to purchase insurance they do not want or need, and if anyone engaged in commerce can be compelled to act against his conscience there are no limits.
An administration bent on enforcing the most disastrous provisions of its signature legislative accomplishment, except the ones that are most likely to hamper its party’s chances in the next election cycle, will expect to reap political advantage from its totalitarian power-grab. They’ll cite the case as an example of the opposition’s “war on women” to strengthen a grip on the young and unmarried women’s vote, portraying Hobby Lobby as a corporate villain working in cahoots with blue-nosed and moustache-twirling Republicans intent on inhibiting the consequence-free sex lives of the more hip-and-up-to-date segments of modern society, and they’ll no doubt find a susceptible audience among the younger female cohort. So far as we can tell Hobby Lobby has no rules regarding its employee’s sexual dabblings, save for a refusal to pay for its outcomes, but this will be of little matter to women who regard federal subsidies for their already affordable contraception expenses a natural right. We constantly assure our distaff Democrat friends how ardently we desire to live in a society where their sexual practices and contraception needs are none of our damn business, but they continue to insist that it be a matter of public policy.
Hobby Lobby’s admirably pro-choice position deserves support, and we’re almost tempted to take up scrapbooking as a pastime so we’ll have reason to patronize their business.

— Bud Norman

Fair Play, Compassion, and Brass Knuckles

Modern liberalism prides itself on compassion and fair play, but modern liberals pursue these goals with a frightening ruthlessness. Two examples of this phenomenon have been featured in this week’s news.
One was the maximum pain that the Obama administration has sought to inflict on the public as a result of the partial shutdown of the federal government. Go ahead and blame that those uncompassionate and unfair Republicans in the legislative branch for the temporary furlough of the 17 percent of government employees officially deemed nonessential, but it is obviously up to the executive branch to execute whatever the people’s representatives do or do not decide upon, and the administration has chosen to go about it in the most callous ways possible. The Republicans have declared in open voting their willingness to fund cancer programs for children, air travel and other compensations for the family of fallen soldiers, and various other worthy government expenditures, but the administration and its allies in the Senate have chosen to decline the offer of a “piecemeal” re-funding in hopes of winning all its demands including full-funding and no delays in implementation of its widely hated Obamacare law. To further emphasize the necessity of unlimited government to a public that has barely noticed the brief absence of 17th of it the administration has also closed a variety of public monuments and lands, even when it would have been cheaper to keep them open, and resorted to what some would-be visitors have described as “Gestapo tactics” in doing so.
An even more chilling example is the latest revelation in the ongoing scandal of the Internal Revenue Service’s harassment of citizens opposed to the administration’s agenda. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has revealed to the invaluable Daily Caller internet publication that a top IRS official shared confidential taxpayer information about religious organizations opposed to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandates with the White House. Such violations of the law were considered an outrage back when President Richard Nixon was accused of it, but modern liberalism seems willing to make excuses when it is done in the name of compassion and fair play and subsidized contraception.
Perhaps the utopia that will surely follow from unlimited federal borrowing and Obamacare and free contraception for everyone justifies such brass-knuckled tactics, but it had better be good.

— Bud Norman

God, Women, and the Democrats

Even with professional football beckoning on another television channel, it’s hard to turn one’s attention away from the Democrats’ national convention. For bruising hits, strange behavior, and bizarre spectacle, even the National Football League can’t compete with the Democrats.

The highlight, thus far, was when a significant number of the assembled delegates booed God. This unprecedented moment in American politics occurred because earlier in the convention party officials had deleted a reference to “God-given rights” from the platform, leaving the document without any mention of the deity. Party poobahs were clearly rattled by the negative reaction from the more pious portions of the population, with Sen. Dick Durbin reacting to an interviewer’s seemingly innocent question about the matter as if the Spanish Inquisition were interrogating him, and they quickly asked the convention delegates to approve an amendment restoring God’s place in the party platform. After three tries God was ruled to have won a voice vote, although the “nays” certainly sounded louder each time and there was much booing, hissing and jeering throughout.

The Democrats can now insist that they officially have nothing against God, although if pressed they’d have to say that He is no Barack Obama, and a couple of subsequent speakers even made a point of mentioning God in what they probably considered a favorable light. Black Congressional Caucus leader Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver delivered a rousing sermon on the goodness, mercy, and bountiful blessings of big government, exhorting the president to “continue to hope,” then adding very specifically that “As long as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sits on the throne of grace, hope on!” A short time earlier the delegates had also contentiously approved a platform amendment restoring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and we assume that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have approved. Elizabeth Warren, the fake Indian affirmative action scammer and Massachusetts Senate candidate whose self-righteous anger stands out even at a Democratic convention, mentioned her past service as a Sunday school teacher and even recited some New Testament verses proving God is a socialist who hates Republicans, corporations, and religious people as much as she does.

The delegates were also treated to a speech by Sandra Fluke, the 30-year-old Georgetown law school student who demanded that her Catholic university provide her with birth control and became famous when a prominent radio host called her a “slut,” and so far as we can tell there was no mention of God. Fluke’s speech was part of the convention’s emphasis on issues of importance to women. Judging by the Democratic convention one might conclude that women are mostly interested in abortion, birth control, and sexual freedom, but in our unfortunate experience they seem far more interested in their jobs.

In keeping with the theme of how much Democrats love women, the convention followed up its tribute to Ted Kennedy with a much ballyhooed speech by serial sexual harasser and alleged rapist Bill Clinton. The man who gave America the subprime mortgage was called on because of the public’s lingering memories of the good times before the crash, and he spoke about how tough Obama’s had it and how hard he’s tried, but mostly it sounded very much like those trombone sounds that the adults used to make on the “Peanuts” television specials, and by that point the game was getting good.

Today’s big finale has been moved from the gigantic Bank of America Stadium, which had been re-named “Panthers’ Stadium” to avoid any embarrassing association with nasty old bankers, and depending on who’s talking it was either because of a forecast with a slight possibility of rain or a fear that they’d wind up with a lot of un-telegenic empty seats. Either way it was a lucky break for the Carolina Panthers, because they’ll be hard pressed to top the Democrats’ spectacle even if they make it to the Super Bowl.

— Bud Norman

Prophylactic News Coverage

In case you haven’t heard, the Catholic church is taking the Obama administration to court. That’s something you should have heard, given its rather extraordinary noteworthiness, but if you rely on the network news organization it might very well have escaped your attention.

When more than a dozen Catholic archbishops, the University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of America, Catholic Charities, and 40 other Catholic institutions filed a suit last week against the Department of Health and Human Services over a ruling that their insurance providers must cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients, the three major over-the-air newscasters all but ignored the story. The eagle-eyed observers at the venerable Media Research Center found that ABC’s “World News” and NBC’s “Nightly News” made no mention of the story whatsoever, while CBS’ “Evening News” devoted all of 19 seconds to the matter. Although CBS deserves some credit for at least a brief mention of the lawsuit it report could hardly have done the story justice, as it takes much of 19 seconds just to say contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients.

News judgments are vexingly subjective, and always dependent on what else happened on a given day, but it’s hard to find any of the usual journalistic explanations for this omission. A legal conflict between one of the world’s major religions — that would be the Catholics, not the Obama administration — and a president is clearly of importance, and not just to the significant number of Americans who are Catholic. All people of faith, including the Rabbinical Council of America, have a stake in the case, and anyone who holds opinions contrary to those of the Obama administration does as well.

Nor can the networks convincingly argue that they had more important things to cover. On the day the lawsuit was filed NBC found time to cover a solar eclipse that was visible only in a few parts of the world, and would have no discernible effect on future events, and ABC devoted three minutes and 30 seconds to the sentencing of a Rutgers student who had spied on a homosexual roommate. If anything else of greater importance than the lawsuit had happened that day, we’ve already forgotten about it.

One possible explanation for the network’s decision to ignore the lawsuit, which will seem plausible enough to the rationally paranoid conservative, is that they are devoted to helping the president and don’t believe the story will improve his political fortunes. We believe they are correct in this assessment, and ardently hope so, but we don’t expect they’ll succeed in keeping a majority of the public in the dark about the lawsuit. The networks all covered the administration’s contraception mandate with great enthusiasm back when the Obama campaign thought it had a winning issue, and there’s bound to be some lingering public interest in how that story plays out.

— Bud Norman