Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Obama Scores a Hat Trick Against Liberty, pt 1.

I spent most of last week with a head full of cold medicine, the hacking and wheezing made all the worse from watching as the Obama Administration scored its 'contraceptive' Hat Trick upon us. And after having watched the Keystone Cops (for those readers who have never seen the old silent comedies… just think of our current Eric Holder Justice Dept - same difference) level of responses to it on the part of the Right, and the Left, I find myself longing for more of that ol' foggy medicine headed feeling.

The Right has been busily dishing out headlines screaming about a new war on Religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular, and right on cue, The Left has followed that up by screaming about the Right's 'War on Women's health', perfectly illustrated by one left leaning friend of mine who linked to an article trumpeting how conservatives had rolled the clock back to the 1950’s. During all of this, while taking it all in and checking his schedule, Obama shook his teleprompter at the nation and chided people about the dangers of going overboard, and then, being the swell fellow he is, he offered to go ahead and generously offer an exemption to the church, out of the goodness of his heart, in order to make everything all better.

Isn’t that special? NyQuil please. And Sudafed too… oh to heck with the middlemen, I’ve got enough Kleenex stocked up...” Scotch!”

Obama’s Hat Trick.
1st Amendment:“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
President Obama’s Hat trick involves his successfully pitting the popular myths of one part of the 1st amdt, against the popular appearances of another part of the 1st amdt, while thoroughly undermining the actual foundation which all of the amendments, meaning your rights, rest upon (you look surprised... did you actually believe that your Rights start with the 1st Amendment?). Here’s his new chief of staff, Mr. Lew, giving us a glimpse of their patented 'Rights Reducing' technique in action, from last week on Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE:…The question -- where does the president get the power to tell a private company they have to offer a product and offer it for free?
LEW: Well, Chris, just to be clear -- the president has the authority under the Affordable Care Act to have these kinds of rules take affect. And the issue with this being for free is quite an interesting one. If you look at the cost of providing health insurance, it actually doesn't cost more to provide a plan with contraceptive coverage than it does without.
That is quite an amazing statement by Mr. Lew, but before getting into my reply, which I’m fairly certain will in some way unsettle all of my friends, left, right and center, let me give you a hint as to my take on this:
Religious freedom has not been attacked, liberty itself has been attacked, and it’s being attacked under the cover of the distraction of ‘religious freedom being under attack’.
But before digging in, let’s recap and dispense with some of the popular distractions first, I'll take it in order, going from left to right.

Left Behind
To hear the left describe it, this last week, President Obama came out with some bold proposals for ‘women’s health issues’, which have simply been misinterpreted as being offensive to Catholics and sooo unfairly too, since it was really all actually about the all-important topic of 'Contraceptive Health'. And that has been the meme of the week, hasn't it?… it’s all about women’s health, contraceptive care, etc, as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney emphasized:
This needs to be said, over and over, to put the discussion about contraception to rest, to place it back in the realm of public health, and to stop the stigmatization of all reproductive health care, which has not surprisingly gone well beyond abortion to include contraception.
And of course there’s that ‘Turning the clock back’ meme which my friend was promoting, “Very neatly, and on three separate fronts, conservatives in America turned the clock back to the 1950s with their rhetoric about women’s rights Thursday, according to women in politics on both sides of the aisle. This could be a big problem for the GOP when the calendar reaches November...”
IMHO, this has been less a case of the clock being turned back by conservatives, than it has been an example of what this administration does best: campaigning.

This ploy, begun months ago, looks to have been designed to take the media focus off of the dismal state of the economy and the President’s fumbling of it, such as with the Keystone Pipeline, etc, and putting it squarely back onto the easily accessible fears of the unfocused and unwary voter (IOW those who vote Leftist (yeah, rhetoric, so sue me)) and raising for each of them the very scary possibility of a Republican being elected president, which of course as everyone knows, means an impending Theocracy!

Silly as that sounds (you’re… not silly enough to think it doesn’t sound silly, are you?), I’d like you to think back, way back... when was the first instance in your recent memory, and I'm sure you could go back months, if not years, in searching your memory banks, when was it that you last recall the issue of contraception being publicly raised, let alone threatened? I don’t mean abortion, so spare me your links and articles, please, and I don’t even mean condoms being distributed in schools, I mean contraception being threatened with elimination or regulation through either a high profile legal case, or as the central focus of some piece of legislation or even as a vital component of your health care plan. Hmmm?
Anything? Anyone?

Have you heard about anyone seeking to outlaw or to prevent the production or sale of contraception? Have you seen the black helicopters swarming around your local pharmacy or convenience store and emptying the shelves of such things?

I’m thinking… probably... no.

And as far as health care goes, maybe it’s just me, but when I’ve heard people discussing their health care plans over the years, I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard them asking about whether or not an HMO or a PPO included the all-important bargain pricing on contraceptives… how about you? And please, no 'You're a Man! You don't Know!' complaints, they don't apply, I'm not talking about me - I don't think I've ever heard men discussing their health care plans, it's always been either the women I work with, or my wife or her friends, so how about it?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

Yet now we’re supposed to be suddenly faced with this oh-so urgent issue of contraceptive health in the public discourse,and it’s so vitally important an issue now that the President must step in and make a special ‘exemption’ to still the waters and put things to rights.

Really? Where did this come from? Where did it start?

It's my bet that the first time in recent memory that you likely heard the issue of contraception being raised at all, was during George Stephanopoulos’s bizarre and extended discussion of ‘contraceptive care’ at one of the republican debates, do you remember watching or hearing about that? It was so out of the blue and inexplicable... everyone I knew, and most of the pundits as well, were doing a serious head scratch over it... 'where'd that come from?'

I’m glad to see, now that I google it, that I’m hardly the first or only one to wonder that, or to be suspicious about it:
“… most everyone agrees that the moment where Stephanopoulos suddenly shifted the topic from job creation to hypothetical questions involving whether the states have a right to ban contraception was…odd (to say the least).
Yep. This was in the New Hampshire debate, January 7th, which the Daily Caller notes caused "... an impatient audience literally “boo” co-moderator George Stephanopoulos for a series of unrelenting questions to Mitt Romney about a hypothetical ban on contraceptives...". Here's part of it,
“Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?” Stephanopoulos asked the slightly bewildered-looking former Massachusetts governor.
“George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising,” Romney responded, “Do states have a right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so…Given that there’s no state that wants to do so, and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so, you’re asking could it constitutionally be done? We could ask our Constitutionalist here,” Romney said, gesturing toward Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
Stephanopoulos persisted.
“Do you believe states have that right or not?” he asked Romney.
“George, I don’t know if the state has a right to ban contraception, no state wants to! The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do, that no state wants to do, and then asking me whether they can do it or not is kind of a silly thing,” Romney responded, much to the crowd’s delight.”
It continued on from there for several minutes… and you 've got to ask, why? What in the past, let alone the recent past, prompted bringing that issue up? Answer: Nothing.

Stephy’s questioning only becomes even slightly sensible, if Stephy had foreknowledge of the upcoming HHS‘contraceptive health’ issue, and given George 'Stephy' Stephenopolous’s history with leading public opinion to benefit this administration (surely you haven't forgotten about JournoList and MMFA, have you?), that is hardly an issue that needs any sort of conspiracy theory to float it, it’s just the way he is used to operating. Especially, given recent events, it seems very likely that it came about as a result of Stephy's political insider trading which revealed to him that the matter of contraception soon would be an issue, and it was his hope to be able to conduct a pre-emptive strike on the GOP candidates and catch one or more of them with their pants down - so to speak.

And now surprise, surprise, here comes the HHS rule mandating that contraception will be provided, even if for free, no matter what. Suddenly the issue in the news is not about the economy, it’s not about the Keystone Pipeline, it’s not about questionable foreign policy positions around the world, or even about the fact that these HHS’s directives are examples of the govt forcibly abridging the rights of its people, no, no, no… it's all about 'contraceptive health' and the eeevil conservatives who desire nothing more than the opportunity to go on oppressing women.

And for their part, conservatives have been more than happy to play along.

Fools. Why? Let me ask you something, if you saw someone shooting at people, and then shooting at clergy, would you object to their shooting at the clergy? Or would you object to the caliber of gun they were using to shoot at the clergy... or would you object to the fact that they were shooting at People!? Hmmm? That'll have to do until next post, but... think about it... mmmkay?

The issue was doubled down on when the White House tried to ‘help’ by having President Obama ‘offer’ his generous exemption to Catholics; out of the goodness of his heart, he’s offered to force insurance companies to extend those same services to the same people in the same organization… but (supposedly) now they'll be 'offering' them for free.
What was the explanation for that? President Obama said:
"Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health," Obama said in a midday address at the White House.

"Now, as we move to implement this rule, however, we've been mindful that there's another principle at stake here -- and that's the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution," Obama said. "As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right."
So President Obama, mindful of those deeply cherished Rights (remember the 'Magician rule': Don't let your eyes follow where he directs your attention), and the left's deeply coveted privileges, or as HuffPo puts it:
Religious groups, particularly Catholics, fiercely objected, saying the federal government should not force institutions to violate the tenets of their faith. Women's advocates argued that employees should have access to birth control regardless of where they work.
, what was our constitutional professor's proposal to defuse this 'conflict of rights'?
Under the new plan, a religiously affiliated institution would not be required to provide contraception coverage. Rather, the institution's insurance company would offer the coverage for free and without raising premiums.
Now, even if you take his 'solution' as an actual attempt to offer something new (which is highly doubtful, I think Rep. Ryan had it right as "A distinction without a difference"), what it comes down to is that before the 'compromise', his administration proposed to mandate that religious organizations must provide 'contraceptive care' to their employees in their health insurance, and after his exemption... religious organizations must provide 'contraceptive care' to their employees in their health insurance, but... the insurance companies must pay for it.

That 'solution' was supposed to make everything all right? That these contraceptive items are being ‘offered’, mandatorily, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?, riiight, I mean, obviously, when it comes to issues of religious principle, the price of the materials involved have traditionally been the most important factor, right? "Free" fixes everything, right? Clearly, if contraception, or even abortion, were offered for free, Catholics and conservatives would have no more problem with the issue, right?

Could anyone, anyone, really think that offering to offer other people’s money to pay for the services they deeply objected to, would actually soothe anybody’s objections?

Can anyone really think that the White House was deluded enough to think that their actions would somehow not be seen as inflammatory to the right? On the other hand, there was one group was pleased:
"Sister Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association, an umbrella group for more than 600 Catholic hospitals, said Friday she was "very pleased" with Obama's compromise, which she said "protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions.

Keehan was a key supporter of the president's health care reform law -- against the wishes of the U.S. Catholic bishops -- but she had voiced strong criticism of the initial contraception regulations."
Big surprise there, right? 

"But... but... but..." you and President Obama attempt to say, "... she's Catholic! See! It's NOT a religious issue!", which I do agree with, or at least I agree that it's not primarily a religious issue... but I'll leave that for the next post, because for now the fact of the matter is that it has been taken as a religious issue by the Right, and by the left, which is exactly what the administration was hoping for to begin with.

It's also no surprise that people are now fired up along the preferred leftist battle lines of sex and diminished rights (‘women’s rights’, ‘religious rights’, etc), and that the media is obligingly painting conservatives into the corner of “the 1950’s”, not to mention the added benefit of there being very few still questioning the administration’s handling of the economy.

Imagine that.

And conservatives are the ones who are supposed to have turned the clock back? Please. Can you say 'Manipulation'? Ladies and Gents, the movers and shakers of the left knew what they were doing, they correctly gauged the reactions of the right, and the left, and chose this issue, and this timing, as not only a useful media meme to control the news cycle, but an effective campaign strategy as well - time will tell whether or not they misjudged - but I don't think that there's any doubt that this entire issue was raised with the Presidential campaign in mind.

And heads up to the Left - this campaign is a campaign against the American understanding of Liberty, and if you win it, you will lose a treasure you never realized you had.

As a final note until my next post, let me offer a clue to my Catholic and other religious friends – if you are thinking that you are going to battle this mandate and this ‘exemption’, without first undoing your support for everything that made it possible - ala Sister Carol Keehan:
"An ideal health care system would first of all provide everybody with high quality care. It would reach out to everyone, it would focus on preventive care, and it would give special attention to the vulnerable."
, and the Catholic Bishops:
"Since 1919, the United States Catholic bishops have supported decent health care for all and government and private action to advance this essential goal,” Bishop Blaire said.“Long before the current battles, the Catholic Church was persistently and consistently advocating for this overdue national priority."
, who supported ObamaoCare to begin with; for them to have a chance in hell to undo this or any of the rest of it will require a miracle to succeed.

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