Grab Bag 6/25/11

Here’s today’s condensed grab bag, concurrently Tweeted and Facebooked:

I stopped regularly visiting the New York Times when they started charging for mor than, say, 5 article views per month. They’ve extended a special offer, and then a price thereafter that I think is a bit lower than the bar they first set, so I’m a digital subscriber again. I don’t know how NYT links in this blog count for those of you who click them, but I assume they’ll count toward your monthly free total.


Planned Parenthood got its injunction against Indiana funding cuts. NYT early story here. I have not tried to analyze the ultimate odds on this case, but the issuing of a preliminary injunction suggests that they judge thinks Planned Parenthood has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. Overnight, after I typed the first part of this paragraph, Doug Masson posted and quotes the opinion, which confirms the poor ultimate prognosis for the law, at least in the District Court before appeal:

This dispute can be distilled into a single question: Can the State of Indiana exclude PPIN as a qualified Medicaid provider because PPIN performs abortion services that are unrelated to its Medicaid services? The Commissioner argues that Indiana is free to exclude PPIN as a Medicaid provider because states have the authority to determine what constitutes a “qualified” provider. PPIN sharply disagrees, arguing that the defunding provision illegally limits a Medicaid recipient’s choice of providers.
. . .
Central to the present dispute, a state plan must provide that “any individual eligible for medical assistance . . . may obtain such assistance from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person, qualified to perform the service or services required . . . who undertakes to provide him such services…”. 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23) (emphasis added) (hereinafter, “‘freedom of choice’ provision”)
. . .
As enacted, the defunding provision of HEA 1210 prohibits PPIN from receiving reimbursement from Medicaid for services that would otherwise be reimbursable.


New York has redefined the public institution of marriage. I believe this is the first time a state has done so democratically and without a measure of judicial coercion (Vermont and Iowa, I believe, may have voted “under the gun” of court decisions mandating them to “fix this,” in effect).

I have thought too much about this issue — and about the issue of true justice and compassion for people who experience same-sex attraction generally — to let this go with a “grab bag” bit, so I’ve blogged it separately. I wish I could share the sunny outlook that this is temporary, but it’s temporary, I fear, only in the sense that a tsunami is temporary. This will leave devastation behind for a long time, but that does not make me despair or panic.


I’m always glad to see money put to good use, especially for the arts, and the arts community is getting new space in downtown Lafayette. I knew Jan André Bootsma and her first husband, the late Herm André, through Church, and served on Church Council with Herm. Retired from Great Lakes Chemical at a young age, and working as a venture capitalist, Herm pretty clearly was the wealthiest man in the Church — nobody else had picked up one of the Bhagwan‘s used Rolls Royces — but he did not use his money to buy undue influence, which is a risk in Churches. Heck, he spoke less than average in Church Council meetings, though when he spoke, he certainly did not blather, rather focusing in like a laser on the gist of an issue others had been blathering about.

The arts community is grateful for more downtown space courtesy of the Andrés’ business and investment prowess.


From the New York Times (so it may count toward your freebies):


The Great Corn Con


Thanks to Washington, 4 of every 10 ears of corn grown in America are shunted into ethanol.

Here is perhaps the most incredible part: Because of the subsidy, ethanol became cheaper than gasoline, and so we sent 397 million gallons of ethanol overseas last year. America is simultaneously importing costly foreign oil and subsidizing the export of its equivalent.

This is not “the free market at work.” It is (1) pork barrel politics and (2) crony capitalism.

Not that all is well in the energy world without alternatives (including conservation, dammit!). The Wall Street Journal piles up a bunch of hyperbole and make-weight arguments in favor of fracking, and then takes on, one by one, some of the objections. I’m not technically competent to respond beyond this: increasing the flow of natural gas temporarily does not have the “potential to transform U.S. energy production.” “Mother Nature” just isn’t making petroleum and natural gas as fast as we’re burning or otherwise consuming it. But feeding our cars with what we used to feed the world recently is worthy of the wrath of God (insofar as He’s wrathful).


I’ve commented on my growing appreciation for craft-brewed beer. The Smithsonian takes a timely look at the history of beer ingredients.


Father Stephen writes of fullness and “the invisible Church,” among other things.

Bon appetit!