Monday, 10/12/15

  1. Employer contraceptive mandate explained
  2. Slogans or Thought?
  3. Not a partisan platform
  4. Dignity
  5. Political forecast
  6. Blogging forecast
  7. A Reminder


Thanks to Matthew Franck and Judge Daniel Manion for helping clear the confusion wrought by a “complicated act of bureaucratic legalese and accounting tricks”:

Is it really true that the law independently imposes the contraceptive mandate on insurers and TPAs without implicating the employers of those who receive the services? Then why does the mandate impose the requirement “only on the insurers and TPAs the nonprofits have hired?” he asks. How can the notification of the employer, to either the provider or the government, be called “opting out” of the HHS mandate, when it is precisely the act by which nonprofits and their employees are “opted in,” and by which the insurers’ or TPAs’ legal obligations to these employees are triggered?

For the TPAs, Manion notes, the act the government requires of the employer “makes them legal instruments under which the nonprofit’s health plan is operated.” For a more conventional health insurance provider, “but for the nonprofit’s hiring of the insurer, and the nonprofit’s continuing contractual relationship with it,” there would be no obligation placed on the insurer to provide or cover the costs of a service that is “free” to the employees with (putatively) no expense passed on to the employer.

And how can the responsible relation of the nonprofit to the entire transaction be considered severed, when “the only way an employee receives coverage for contraceptive services under the accommodation is to enroll in the objecting nonprofit’s health plan”? The moral entanglement of the objecting nonprofits in the very acts to which they object is complete, all the way down, for “the offensive provision is inseparably imbedded in the nonprofits’ health plan.” Even the matter of who is really paying for the services is not so easily pushed aside, says Judge Manion, for “the nonprofits’ premiums are the only source of funding,” at least in the case of conventional insurers.

In short, “The HHS accommodation is a purposely complicated act of bureaucratic legalese and accounting tricks that enables the government to claim that the objecting nonprofits have nothing to do with the provision of contraceptive services.” But contrary to that claim, Judge Manion says, “It is the nonprofits which understand the operation of the HHS accommodation, not the court, and we must accept their sincere belief that it violates their religion.”

I had suspected that the “opt-out” was a sort of shell game, but hadn’t figured it out. Since several Federal Court of Appeals judges have had a similar problem (I don’t include Judge Richard Posner; he has just ceased even pretending to care about religious freedom), I can’t feel too bad about that.

It’s a much stronger case than this, much as I personally like it:

[J]udges have no business second-guessing the sincere judgment of a religiously informed conscience that a required act is morally wrong, because of its complicity or involvement in evils committed by others. That draws the judiciary into standing in the objecting parties’ shoes, doing theology in their stead and telling them they’ve gotten their own religious scruples wrong.


I missed or had forgotten this blast from 25 years ago:

Liberals wear buttons with slogans, not neckties with thinkers. Mr. Reich, clever as he is, does not stand on the shoulders of dead philosophers. In this he is typical of Democratic party policy intellectuals. One finds scant attention to dead political philosophers in the work of Michael Kinsley or in the front section of the New Republic. Robert Kuttner, one of the smartest of the Democratic thinkers, suffers from the same disadvantage.

The problem is that liberalism has become obsessed with money. On virtually any issue, whether it is housing, drugs, welfare, health care, transportation, or even forest management, liberalism has been reduced to a single question: How high is the appropriation? This is not a philosophy; it is the plaint of an interest-group lobbyist. For the past twelve years or so, Democrats have tried to reinvent a liberal “vision.” But visionaries cannot work in the employ of the AARP or the NEA. A think tank cannot revive a collection of special interests. No one needs a theorist to lobby for higher expenditure. On the contrary, he would get in the way.

(David Brooks, reviewing Robert Reich‘s The Resurgent Liberal: And Other Unfashionable Prophecies in 1990)

I think Brooks was onto something about the deracination of the Democrats, but the ensuing 25 years doesn’t appear to have been kind to thoughtful, rooted Republicans, either.


Is it possible for anyone besides a seriously religious person to hold these two insights simultaneously?

One of the great dangers of our modern technological, consumer culture is its use of technology to create false realities. The sexual revolution is primarily the application of technology to create a false sexual freedom. The total elimination of the natural consequences of sexual activity is itself a form of destruction and creates a false order. To have a culture where young men and women are sexually active and yet typically barren and marriage-avoidant is not natural, nor according to the order of things. It is a “new” world whose dark consequences are already revealing themselves.

The hoarding of great wealth is also destructive of the true order of things. Only violence (whether implied or potential) can maintain a deep disparity in wealth and power. The violence of poverty (often blamed on the poor themselves in modern culture) is probably the most widespread form of evil in the modern world. Some argue that there is an absolute “property right” taught in Scripture. This is not true. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” We do not “own” anything. We are stewards of what we have been given. Property law, generally a good thing, is nevertheless maintained through the threat of violence (police and civil court). Deep disparity cries out for justice.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman) The first has been anathema in the Democrat party since 1972. The second would get you crucified in the GOP. Both are true.

I’m tempted to think that a non-religious or superficially-religious person would discard one of the two for so the other kids won’t think they’re ugly and their mom dresses them funny.


Milou had lupus. She wanted a doctor to make her dead. Her GP vacillated to certify her eligibility:

Milou, at only 19, hung herself from a tree in an orchard, and her family has gone on a professional vendetta against the GP who prevented her from being made dead in a doctor’s office instead. Because being bumped off by someone in a white coat using a lethal injection is dignified, but hanging from an apple tree is icky, or something.

(Lydia McGrew, Safeguards? We don’t need no stinkin’ safeguards)

I’ll just leave it there except for one thing: what does this say about physicians as a sort of new priesthood?


Religious conservatives aren’t going to get any help from Republicans. Not on religious liberty, or anything else. The Left in Congress is in no mood to compromise, because they’re on a roll. There’s no stomach on the Right in Congress to fight, because business doesn’t want anything to do with it, and because if members say one thing wrong, they’ll be crucified as bigots in the media, and on social media.

(Rod Dreher)


The blogging forecast calls for little to no blogging this week unless I play hooky from work.


I continue to see Facebook friends from Left and Right throwing out garbage they find too good not to be true. Another false Right même between when I first wrote this and when I published it.

Please, people:

  1. Use your crap detector on yourself. We’re all subject to confirmation bias (and about 19 other biases).
  2. Bookmark Snopes or add it to your Google search before you spread nonsense.

Yes, you can slap me up side of da head if you catch me breaking those rules.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.