Tag: Culture War

Late Night Fight

Last week, Jimmy Fallon had Donald Trump on his show. As is his wont, he didn’t press Trump on any real issues, but mostly joked around and chatted.

Apparently, this is no longer acceptable:

On Monday’s Full Frontal, Bee called out her fellow late-night host Fallon for his widely-panned softball interview with Donald Trump.

“Why do so many Americans think playing footsie with fringe hate groups isn’t a disqualifier from polite society, much less the presidency?” Bee asked. “Maybe because that’s the message they get from entertainment giants like NBC,” she said, referencing how they fostered Trump’s image through The Celebrity Apprentice.

She said the network “tacitly condoned a race-baiting demagogue” even after they claimed to “sever ties” with him following his presidential campaign announcement. “If by severing ties, you mean inviting him on their flagship comedy programs to show millions of Americans what a fun guy he is.

Why did Trump host Saturday Night Live last fall? “I guess because ratings matter more than brown people,” Bee said. “Sure, he’s making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants, but hey, he’s good entertainment! Here’s a thought: when Holocaust survivors are telling you this guy gives me déjà vu, maybe don’t invite him up into your house to play with your adorable children.”

I guess “ratings matter more than brown people” might resonate with Bee, whose show is typically pulling in a bit under 700,000 viewers a night, placing her almost dead last in the late night derby. She’s drawing a fraction of the audience Fallon is and an even smaller fraction of the audience John Oliver is drawing on a pay cable channel. But sure, Sam. I’m sure the problem is how much you value brown people. We just don’t get you.

The thing is, this taps into something very important. Part of the appeal of Trump is precisely that he drives liberals crazy. In the Second Age of Political Correctness, there is a tendency for people, even young people, to stampede toward something different. Ross Douthat:

But the Democratic Party’s problem in the age of Trump isn’t really Jimmy Fallon. Its problem is Samantha Bee.

Not Bee alone, of course, but the entire phenomenon that she embodies: the rapid colonization of new cultural territory by an ascendant social liberalism.

The culture industry has always tilted leftward, but the swing toward social liberalism among younger Americans and the simultaneous surge of activist energy on the left have created a new dynamic, in which areas once considered relatively apolitical now have (or are being pushed to have) an overtly left-wing party line.

In late-night television, it was once understood that David Letterman was beloved by coastal liberals and Jay Leno more of a Middle American taste. But neither man was prone to delivering hectoring monologues in the style of the “Daily Show” alums who now dominate late night. Fallon’s apolitical shtick increasingly makes him an outlier among his peers, many of whom are less comics than propagandists — liberal “explanatory journalists” with laugh lines.

As Douthat goes on to point out, it’s not just late night television. Everything has becomes politicized. Awards shows, sporting events, movies, you name it. If you’re culturally conservative or just not down with latest in political correctness, you can’t turn on the TV or bring up a web page without some smarmy Lefty telling you, in condescending tones, how stupid and backward you are. Hell, I’m socially liberal and it annoys the hell out me.

(It must be said, Bee is actually one of the worst at this. I liked her on the Daily Show but her new show is unwatchable. I’m used to liberal late night hosts but Bee combines the idiocy of Bill Maher and the charm of Hillary Clinton. She says the kind of things that make smug liberals cheer — hence the frequent links from Vox — but make everyone else change the channel.)

Returning to Douthat, he argues that the monolithic cultural landscape has given the Democrats the illusion that they’ve triumphed and caused them to surge hard left. And at the same time, it has made conservatives feel like they are under siege. And we’re seeing a response culminating in the rise of Donald Trump. And that in turn is making the Lefties hysterical. Hillary Clinton is still favored to win the election, but, to listen to Democrats, you would think the apocalypse is upon us because the race has gotten very tight.

Note where Clinton is hemorrhaging support — young people. They are stampeding not just to Donald Trump but also to Gary Johnson. Why? Well, on Twitter, Robby Soave linked to his article that details how much young people dislike the current push toward political correctness and smarmy liberal self-worship. With the Left now establishing a cultural hegemony in entertainment and academia, being liberal isn’t an act of rebellion; it’s an act of conformity.

I despise this notion that everything in our society has to have a political context. This is an idea that originated with the Marxists. It was disgusting when it slithered into public consciousness and it’s disgusting now. As I’ve said over and over again, Donald Trump is not Hitler. He’s a venal, lying dumpster fire who has no business near the White House. But he is not so evil that everything in our culture must be requisitioned to oppose him. Jimmy Fallon (and SNL) decided to keep the politics out of their entertainment. I think our culture would be a darn sight better off if more people followed their example. And to judge by how thoroughly Fallon is stomping Bee in the ratings, most people agree.

Ashley Madison

A few weeks ago, hackers claimed to have stolen a wealth of data from the website Ashley Madison, a site that purports to enable people to have extra-marital affairs. They claimed this would reveal real-life details of millions of Ashley Madison users and threatened to release this data if Ashley Madison didn’t close shop. They then released it this week. Several prominent people have been outed as well as several not-so-prominent people and that’s just in the first few days.

One of the more interesting things to come out of this is a look at how Ashley Madison actually functions. There have been allegations for years that Ashley Madison was overpromising, to say the least. There were allegations that the gender ratio was massively skewed and that thousands of fake profiles were on the site to separate men from their money (you have to pay for interactions through the site). The release of the data seems to confirm some of these allegations, which would make Ashley Madison sleazy even by the standards of … uh … sites that enable adultery.

So how much adultery are we talking about here? Ashley Madison claims to have 37 million members, but most estimates I’ve seen indicate, at most, two million active users. Furthermore, a lot of them are just playing around and not actually having affairs. Dan Savage:

There are lots of “fakes and flakes” on hookup sites and apps. Talk to anyone who has actually looked for sex partners online and they’ll bitch about about the flakes and fakes who wasted their time. They’ll bitch about all the people—scores of them, some of them dogs—who exchanged text messages with them, swapped sexy photos with them, and shared their fantasies with them and then disappeared on them—went silent, ghosted them, blocked their numbers—when it was time to meet up and fuck. Sometimes they disappeared on them after making concrete plans to meet up and fuck. So finding spouse’s name on Ashely Madison—if you decide to search for it—doesn’t mean your spouse ever intended to cheat on you.

Of course, to a lot of people, especially women, the difference between a spouse who planned to cheat and one who actually did is academic. I have some sympathy for people who feel trapped in loveless or sexless marriages and want some intimacy. If people want to have open marriages or whatever, that’s their lookout (although the key word there is “open”, not deceptive). But in the end, the Ashley Madison users were people looking to have a cheap affair. Maggie, from my first link:

One of my serious university boyfriends (he was 28 when I was 19) once told me, “Maggie, nobody can take advantage of you unless you have larceny in your heart.” It took me a while to understand what he meant, which is this: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. Ashley Madison holds out the promise of something for nothing: Extracurricular sex without monetary cost, commitment or risk. But as with all such offers, it’s a lie: Pussy costs, and free pussy is the most expensive kind. And Noel Biderman, AKA “Ashley Madison”, has figured out a way to tack on a hefty surcharge.

Exactly. Ashley Madison makes money not just off of deception and infidelity but off of gullibility. Its users wanted to believe they could have an affair without complications or expense. Many bought into this fantasy so hard that they couldn’t be bothered to get an anonymous gmail or hotmail account, using their work e-mail accounts (including many government employees). Hell, I have two anonymous e-mails accounts and the only thing I’m cheating on is sleep.

Despite the vileness of Ashley Madison and the stupidity of their clients, I am however getting increasingly uncomfortable with the gloating over this. It’s really not my business what other people are doing with their lives. Rolling in the details of this mass doxing like a dog in a dead possum is just awful. So I will not be commenting on anyone whose name comes out, even if it’s some hypocritical religious right figure or prominent politician. Glenn Greenwald:

That the cheating scoundrels of Ashley Madison got what they deserved was a widespread sentiment yesterday. Despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are, tweets expressing moralistic glee were legion. Websites were created to enable easy searches of the hacked data by email address. An Australian radio station offered to tell listeners on air if their spouse’s names appeared in the data base, and informed one horrified woman caller that her husband did.

It’s hard to overstate the devastation to some people’s lives from having their names published as part of this hack: not only to their relationships with their spouses and children but to their careers, reputations, and – depending on where they live – possibly their liberty or even life. What appears on the internet is permanent and inescapable. All of the people whose names appear in this data base will now be permanently branded with a digital “A.” Whether they actually did what they are accused of will be irrelevant: digital lynch mobs offer no due process or appeals. And it seems certain that many of the people whose lives are harmed, or ruined, by this hack will have been guilty of nothing.

In short, everything is awful. Ashley Madison is awful for offering this service and milking desperate men for every dime they could get. The people who used Ashley Madison were greedy and stupid. The hackers are awful for putting this information out there, no matter how much they try to cloak it in social justice rhetoric. And the people digging through the database and gloating over the suffering of cheaters and cheatees are awful.

I don’t have any political slant on this. The government should go after people who hack databases no matter how slimy the victims or how noble the sentiment. It’s not like the hackers were exposing government abuses of power or something.

The Culture War Rout Is On

So, this week George Takei called Clarence Thomas a “clown in black face” for this dissent in Obergefell. He has since apologized for the remark, claiming that he said it in a moment of anger.

As you know, I’m not one for the Outrage of the Day. What set Takei off was Thomas’ argument that government can not take away your dignity no matter what it does; dignity is intrinsic. Thomas used the internment camps as an example and Takei, who was interred, was angered by that comparison. That’s understandable.

However …

The reaction to Takei’s remarks has little to do with him. It has everything to do with a racial smear campaign that has pursued Clarence Thomas since the day he joined the Court. Just as Takei’s comments have their origin in his long experience with racial and anti-gay discrimination, the backlash to them has its origin in 24 years of liberals slagging Clarence Thomas, all too often in racist language. Thomas is a race traitor. Thomas is an Uncle Tom. Thomas doesn’t know his history. Thomas is an idiotic sock puppet of Scalia (actually, the Scalia-Thomas pairing isn’t even in the top ten for SCOTUS). Thomas never writes any significant opinions (I recently cited his wonderful dissent in Kelo; he’s written many many others).

We’re told that Thomas doesn’t understand or care about race relations. We’re told this of a man who was born in the segregationist South; who experienced vile racism in his early life; who was and is an admirer of Malcolm X; who is thoroughly versed in our country’s racial history; who can cite you chapter and verse about how our country has perverted the law and the Constitution to screw over black people. Thomas is well aware of his race, conscious of it and proud of it. But he the temerity to disagree with liberals about how the Constitution should be applied to the law. And so none of that matters.

But there’s something here even beyond the usual Clarence Thomas race-baiting. Let’s take a step back. For the last week, numerous Republicans have been responding angrily to the gay marriage and Obamacare decisions. Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, among others, have questioned the Court’s legitimacy. We’re told that this is a sign of how insane Republicans are. But … you’ll see equal amounts of rage from the Left when the Court doesn’t go there way. Hell, just last week, people were responding to Scalia’s dissent with angry tweets and articles about Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, decisions which liberals responded to by … gasp! … questioning the legitimacy of the Court.

Look, it’s understandable that people get mad at the Court when it makes decisions they don’t like. Hell, I’m still upset about Kelo. That’s fine. I really don’t see anything unusual or alarming about anti-gay-marriage politicians being angry about the recent decisions. We have to accept the Court’s decisions as a matter of law; but that does not mean we have to accept them into our hearts. Be angry when you think the Court has gotten it wrong.

What’s striking, however, is how angry the Left gets when they win. Granted, most of the Left is just plain happy about last week’s decisions. But there’s a not insignificant faction that’s just furious that the conservative bench had the nerve to dissent.

As Clark at Popehat recently noted, the Culture War in this country has had two distinguishing features: an incredible series of wins for the Left and an even more incredible series of whinges about it:

The problem I have is that the blue alliance has been on a winning streak, and with recent Blue success in gay marriage, immigration of client populations, university-and-media roll-up, etc. I feel like the culture war is over and the victors are going around (metaphorically) humiliating and shooting survivors of the losing side, and conducting mop-up operations. Witness team Blue forcing bakers to bake cakes and forcing photographers to shoot photos for partnerships that they consider immoral. Witness blue team arguing that innocent people should go to jail for rape, because – and I’m quoting Ezra Klein here – we “need to create a world where men are afraid.” Red team men, I take that to mean. Football players. Frat boys. Not nice guys like Ezra.

Look at how the reasonable Left, who would never question the legitimacy of the Court, responded to last year’s Hobby Lobby decision. Just to remind you: the Supreme Court decided that the government could force almost all employers to provide unrestricted contraception coverage to their employees. But because of the RFRA, they decided that a small subset of businesses — privately owned or closely held businesses — could refuse coverage for a small subset of birth control methods that they considered abortificients. It’s exactly the kind of compromise that the Left always claims to want; one that respects our diverse and pluralistic country. In fact, it’s better: they got about 99.5% of what they wanted, with a small bone thrown to religious conservatives. Even better, the Court’s decisions was grounded in a law that can be repealed, not in any supposed First Amendment rights of corporations. By any definition, it was a big win for them.

And yet .. the “reasonable left” who would never question the legitimacy of the Court, responded by proclaiming that we were in a corporate theocracy. They disparaged Catholics on the Court. We were told that it turned back the clock on women’s rights. You can see a bunch of “reasonable” tweets here, including a comparison to Plessy vs. Ferguson (remember when Republicans comparing SCOTUS decisions to Dred Scott was over the line? Good times.)

That’s when they “lose” by such a tiny amount it’s really a huge victory. But last week, the Left won outright. And granted, most liberals are responding with jubilation. My FB feed filled with happy posts about the victory of gay rights. But there is a noisy faction that have spent the last week poring through the dissenting opinions to find something, anything to get in a tizzy over. Jon Stewart has done multiple segments mocking the dissenting opinions and the politicians who didn’t like the rulings. And then, of course, you had Monday’s afterbirth when liberals screamed that the Court has “struck down” limits on mercury emissions (it did nothing of the kind).

So, on it’s own, Takei’s remarks are nothing — something dumb said out of anger. But in the larger context, it was the intersection of two ugly trends: racial animosity toward Clarence Thomas and incessant left-wing whinging about a political battle they have won.

So, yeah, Takei’s apology is fine (Thomas, I suspect, does not care either way). But it’s nothing compared to the long smear campaign against Clarence Thomas and the vitriol with which far too much of the Left has responded to a decision that went their way.

The Culture War is over, guys. You’ve won. Hell, I’m on your side for most of these social issues. We’ve won. Do you really have to ride down your defeated foe?

Double Standard

Following along the same vein as my previous post about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom law, and Hal’s followup, I found this interesting.

Jack, of Castle Rock, Colo., is making national headlines over an experiment he conducted in the wake of attacks on Christian business owners who refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages.

Last year, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple who wanted a wedding cake. Jack Phillips, the owner of the cake shop, is a devout Christian, and his attorneys argued that to force him to participate in the gay wedding would violate his religious beliefs.  The Civil Rights Commission saw it differently.

So if Christian bakers who oppose gay marriage are compelled under law to violate their beliefs – what about bakers who support gay marriage? Would they be compelled to make an anti-gay marriage cake?

 Jack, who is a devout Christian, asked three bakeries to produce two cakes – each shaped like an open Bible. On one side of one cake he requested the words, “God hates sin – Psalm 45:7.” On the other side he wanted the words, “Homosexuality is a detestable sin – Leviticus 18:22.”

On the second cake he asked them to write another Bible verse: “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us – Romans 5:8” along with the words “God loves sinners.”  And finally, Jack wanted the bakers to create an image – two grooms holding hands, with a red “X” over them – the universal symbol for “not allowed.”

Now if you read the national news accounts of Jack’s experiment – you would’ve read that he wanted gay slurs written on the cakes. But that wasn’t true.

According to the commission’s own report, there’s no mention of Jack using any gay slurs – unless you consider Bible verses to be gay slurs.

Mark Silverstein, the legal director for Colorado’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, accused Jack of wanting obscenities written on the cakes.  “There’s no law that says that a cake-maker has to write obscenities in the cake just because the customer wants it,” he told the Associated Press.

Does the ACLU consider the Bible to be obscene?

As you probably guessed, the bakeries rejected Jack’s request for what some would call “anti-gay” cakes.  “If he wants to hate people, he can hate them not here in my bakery,” Azucar Bakery owner Marjorie Silva told 7NEWS. She called the writing and imagery “hateful and offensive.”

So Jack filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission – just as the gay couple did in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.  Using the commission’s logic – if a Christian baker is forced to violate his beliefs, shouldn’t all bakers be forced to violate theirs, too?

Absolutely not, says the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  It ruled that Azucar did not discriminate against Jack based on his creed. It argued that the bakery refused to make the cakes because of the “derogatory language and imagery,” The Denver Channel reported.

Seems like a pretty clear double-standard to me.  One cake maker was forced by the government to defy their beliefs.  The other cake baker was not forced by the government to defy their beliefs.  Because one was for religious reasons, and the other wasn’t, that makes it OK somehow?  The freedom of religion is guaranteed in the US Constitution.  Shouldn’t that make it even more sacrosanct in this regard?

 

No Pizza For You

Indiana has suddenly become the latest front in the Culture War. As noted by Xetrov below, Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Act similar to the federal RFRA. However, the association of several rabid anti-gay activists with the bill has raised concerns that it will allow discrimination against gays (even though no RFRA in the country does that). Pence wants to clarify this in the bill. In a reasonable world, that clarification would pass and we’d move on.

But what’s the use of being reasonable? Tarring and feathering some poor sap is just so much more fun:

Someone please tell me if my progression here is inaccurate in any way:

1) Family owners of small-town Indiana pizzeria spend zero time or energy commenting on gay issues.

2) TV reporter from South Bend walks inside the pizzeria to ask the owners what they think of the controversial Religious Restoration Freedom Act. Owner Crystal O’Connor responds, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no….We are a Christian establishment.” O’Connor also says—actually promises is the characterization here—that the establishment will continue to serve any gay or non-Christian person that walks through their door.

3) The Internet explodes with insults directed at the O’Connor family and its business, including a high school girls golf coach in Indiana who tweets “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” Many of the enraged critics assert, inaccurately, that Memories Pizza discriminates against gay customers.

4) In the face of the backlash, the O’Connors close the pizzeria temporarily, and say they may never reopen, and in fact might leave the state. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” Crystal O’Connor tells The Blaze. “I’m just a little guy who had a little business that I probably don’t have anymore,” Kevin O’Connor tells the L.A. Times.

Yelp has been working overtime to delete shrieking negative reviews of the place. Conservatives have responded with a GoFundMe campaign that has, at present, raised over $100,000 to help out the pizzeria owners.

This is insane. All the owners of this establishment did was answer a reporter’s question honestly and they’re suddenly being hounded by the entire Left Wing Echosphere. It reminds me of something Clark wrote over at Popehat (I’ll link when their site is back up). The Culture War is basically over and the Left has won the field. Gays are out of the closet, sodomy laws are dead and gay marriage is legal in 39 states. Birth control is so available that the government will force your employer to buy it and the Republican compromise position is to make it available over the counter. Despite a spate of anti-abortion laws, we still have one of the most liberal abortion regimes on the planet.

And is the Left responding to this with joy and reconciliation? They are not. As Clark put it, they are going around the battlefield shooting the survivors of the losing side. They hounded Brendan Eich out of a job, they’re boycotting the entire state of Indiana and now they’re hounding some poor restaurant owners whose crime was not realizing a reporter was baiting them.

Day After Thoughts on Hobby Lobby

So I’ve had a few days to digest the Hobby Lobby decision and wanted to put up some further thoughts.

First, a lot of Leftists are claiming that this decision “proves” that we need single payer to make all these issues go away. Of course, the Left saw yesterday’s World Cup game as proof we need single payer. But the argument from the Hobby Lobby case is so poor that even Ezra Klein sees right through it:

At the core of the case is the fact that Obamacare had to decide which health-care services absolutely needed to be covered and which services didn’t. One of the services Obamacare deemed essential was contraception. That’s what led to the Hobby Lobby case: prior to Obamacare, there was no federal law forcing employers who offered insurance to cover contraceptive care, and so no need for employers to seek exemptions to that law.

A single-payer system heightens the stakes on this kind of decision. The assumption behind some of the Hobby Lobby-based arguments for single payer is that a single-payer system would cover contraception and that would mean everyone’s insurance covers contraception. But a Republican-led government could decide that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be going to cover contraception at all, and then a single-payer system means no one’s insurance covers contraception.

An example comes from one America’s current single-payer systems: Medicaid. While Medicaid does cover contraception, Congress decreed years ago that it can’t, under any circumstances, pay for abortions. So while people buying private insurance can choose a plan that covers abortion if they want (and, in fact, about two-thirds of private health-insurance plans cover abortions), people in the Medicaid system have no option to choose a plan that covers abortion.

Ding! It boggles my mind that people can claim single payer will “take the politics” out of healthcare decisions. I have to believe that the “this supports single payer” claimants really mean something else: with single payer, Obama will be able to force a liberal vision of health insurance on the rest of the nation. That’s fine … as long as he’s President. But what will they say when President Santorum strips out birth control coverage and mandates coverage for gay conversion therapy? This is what conservatives and libertarians warned about from day one: the further you involve the government in healthcare, the more politicized healthcare decisions will become.

I oppose encroachments of government power. I oppose them even when I like the guy in office. The reason, as Lee pointed out endlessly, is because I know that he will not be in office forever. Eventually, someone I don’t like will be in. And he’ll have all the power we gave the last guy and take even more. See: Obama, Barack and Surveillance State.

Second, I am amazed at just how silly some of the commentary has gotten. Many commentators have clearly not read the decision or even vaguely familiar with its contents. Megan McArdle deals with some of the silliest talking points here. Eugene Volokh explains the narrowness of the ruling and why it was a statutory not Constitutional decision here. I’m hoping Ann Althouse, who has read the entire decision and is an expert on Constitutional Law and religion, will do some more blog posts on it. One of her first posts is this one, taking on the talking point that businesses can now do anything if they say it’s in the name of religion:

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, when the federal government imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion, it must justify that burden by showing that it is the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling governmental interest. In Hobby Lobby, the compelling governmental interest is comprehensive preventive health care for women, and the majority said that requiring the employer to include coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives in its health care plan was not the least restrictive way to to serve that interest. There are other ways the government could get the cost of contraceptives covered, ways that wouldn’t rope in the employer.

So the government’s interest could be served without imposing the burden on religion.

But when the government bans race discrimination, it is serving a compelling interest in banning race discrimination and there is no alternative way to achieve that end.

Exactly. The RFRA is designed to apply a common-sense limitation on government action where religion is concerned. It’s not a blanket that can allow human sacrifice or a refusal to pay taxes. In this particular case, the Court decided that the government can make sure women have access to birth control without requiring religious people to compromise their beliefs. And that was all it could rule on at this time.

Importantly, the Court did not decree that “corporations are people” or give them First Amendment rights (although they do have First Amendment rights in the context of free speech). They ruled that the people running closely-held businesses have First Amendment rights and that the RFRA requires the government to respect that. Don’t like it? All you have to do is revise the RFRA. Good luck with that.

Third, what’s amazing about the commentary is the number of catch-22’s the liberal intelligentsia places the Court in. When the Court ruled that birth control coverage could be refused for religious reasons, they started screaming, “Well, what about blood transfusions! What about psychiatry? What about gelatin? Huh? Huh? Huh?” But when the Court declined to specifically address those issues — because they can’t — the liberals then accused the Court of foisting their own religion on the country and ignoring everyone else’s.

They accused the Court of scientific illiteracy when they ruled on the methods Hobby Lobby believes are abortifacients (although, having poked around, I don’t the case that they aren’t is as ironclad as claimed). But when the Court clarified that coverage for all methods of contraception could be declined, they went ape again that the ruling was overly broad.

(I also must keep harping on this point: insurance-provided birth control is not “free”. You pay for it with your work. And you pay for it specifically with money your boss gives to the insurance company instead of you. Mother Jones — always a good source of mathematical garbage — put up a calculator showing how much birth control will cost a woman over her reproductive life. But she’s going to pay that price whether she is insured or not. In fact, there are good reasons to believe she will pay more by getting it through her insurance. What happens is that people get birth control through their employer’s insurance … and then wonder why their insurance premiums went up $50 a month.)

The one idea I keep returning to, however, is this: the Left should not be angry. Miffed a bit, sure. But they shouldn’t really be angry.

They should be ecstatic.

We now live in a country where insurance coverage of contraception is mandated by law for all but a small segment of employers. And those will almost certainly be covered when Obama expands the compromise that the Court gave their assent to (although he will probably let women swing in the wind until after the election). The conservative wing of the Court did not dispute that the government can provide birth control coverage. Nor did they dispute that insuring women have access to birth control was a compelling interest of the government. Griswold is in no danger of being repealed. A slight wrinkle has been thrown out in how birth control is paid for. And there are some states where Republicans are attacking programs that help pay for birth control for poor women. But overall, women are in a far better position with respect to controlling their reproductive systems than they have ever been.

I know people want to see this in terms of absolutes: that women have an absolute right to birth control. But living in a country of 300 million people means none of us get everything we want. There are no absolute policies that will work for the entire country.

And yet, with a near complete victory — the provision of almost “free” birth control; a goal they have wanted for decades — they are in hysterics because it wasn’t a complete victory. They are angry because a compromise was reached for people who have a moral objection to certain types of birth control. They are angry because they didn’t get everything they wanted. 85% of employers covered birth control before Obamacare. Nearly 100% will now and the remainder will get it through some kind of compromise. You can be a bit disappointed that it’s not 100%. But proclaiming that SCOTUS has now imposed Sharia Law and made women second-class citizens? Seriously?

Damon Linker:

Where once the religious right sought to inject a unified ideology of traditionalist Judeo-Christianity into the nation’s politics, now it seeks merely to protect itself against a newly aggressive form of secular social liberalism. Sometimes that liberalism takes the relatively benign and amorphous form of an irreverent, sex-obsessed popular culture and public opinion that is unsympathetic to claims of religious truth. But at other times, it comes backed up by the coercive powers of government.

That’s how the Hobby Lobby case needs to be understood: as a defensive response to the government attempting to regulate areas of life that it never previously sought to control. Like, for instance, the precise range of health insurance benefits a business must provide to its employees under penalty of law. Hobby Lobby doesn’t oppose contraception as such, as some Catholic businesses do. It merely opposes four out of 20 forms of contraception that the Obama administration wants to force them to cover — because its owners believe those four to be abortifacients.

From advancing an ideological project to transform America into an explicitly Catholic-Christian nation to asking that a business run by devout Christians be given a partial exemption from a government regulation that would force it to violate its beliefs — that’s what the religious right has been reduced to in just 10 years.

Exactly. The Left Wing has been running up victory after victory in the Culture War. Gay marriage just became legal in fricking Kentucky. Colleges are so eager to make birth control available, they’ll shove it down throat if you sleep with your mouth open. Marijuana is legal in two states and the edifice of criminalization is imploding. Public prayer has been reduced to few non-denominational utterances. Their only conservative “wins” have been a few recent restrictions on abortion and public funding for birth control, policy changes that are likely to be short-lived.

For a long time the Left has claimed that they are the side that wants to compromise and it is conservatives who are intransigent. Yet what is this but rejecting a compromise? What is this but going to tired “war on women” rhetoric at the slightest provocation? No one is being denied birth control. No one’s boss is interfering with their birth control. This is ultimate result of the Hobby Lobby decision: the Federal government will have to make a deal to provide birth control coverage for employees of a small fraction of businesses..

That’s a War on Women? That’s treating corporations like people and women like second-class citizens?

I humbly suggest the rhetoric over this decision needs to be toned down. Because if the Left shout down the heavens for something like this, who’s going to be listening when a state tries to outlaw abortion? Or repeal sexual discrimination laws? Or place heavy restrictions on birth control?

When it comes to long political struggles, you have to choose your battlefields. As much as I oppose much of what the religious right is doing right now, this isn’t the field on which the banners should be unfurled. Accept the near complete victory and move on.

The Avalanche Has Already Started; It Is Too Late for the Pebbles to Vote

The dam has broken. No matter what our opinions might be of it, gay marriage is becoming a fact of life. On the heels of recent decisions by either judges or legislatures in Hawaii, Oklahoma, Nevada, Kentucky, Virginia, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Arkansas, Idaho and Oregon, a judge in Pennsylvania today struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. That’s the fourth court victory for gay marriage advocates just this month. And this one, complete with a long and forceful opinion, was issued by a Bush 43 appointee whose appointment to the federal bench was approved by none other than Rick Santorum. (Judge Jones also wrote a long and stirring opinion against teaching creationism in public schools in Kitzmiller v. Dover). That makes 19 states where gay marriage is either legal or has won a recent court victory.

There is simply no putting this genie back in the bottle. Some of those overturns may be reversed by higher courts. Some may be turned over to referendums again. But even those are unlikely to pass. As I said when the Republican Party was pushing a wave of anti-gay-marriage amendments in 2004, their urgency was because they could see that they were losing support. It was then or never. The tide stopped in 2012 when Minnesota turned back an amendment in a tough battle. Now it has turned and is roaring back out to sea. California’s Prop 8 would not pass now. Some of the redder states would be able to keep it illegal, but even there, support is crumbling. Within ten years, gays will be probably be able to marry almost everywhere in this country. Maybe even less. This issue is basically dead (although, as I argued with the Brendan Eich case, I would prefer that people not gloat about it).

There is one question that sill lingers in mind however: whether this issue will haunt the Republican Party down the road. I’ve spoken of this before:

Back in the 1970′s, the GOP stepped back from their previous support for civil rights to support the so-called “Southern Strategy”: an effort to woo segregationists from the Democrats. The idea was not to embrace segregation, per se, but to jump on racially sensitive issues like welfare to build a power base in the South.

While it managed to get a few politicians to defect (Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond), it never really helped their electoral prospects. In Presidential races, they won the whole country in 1972, lost the South in 1976 and 1980, won the whole country in 1984 and 1988, split the South in 1992 and 1996. It was only in the mid-90′s that the South turned and, by that point, no one gave a crap about segregation issues. The turn was over economic issues. And by 2008, Barack Obama was able to dominate the South in the primaries and compete in the general election, winning three states.

Just to clarify this point: the Republicans took the South because the South was always conservative. The only reason the South hadn’t voted Republican up until the 90’s was because of the Democratic Party’s century-long history of racist politics. Growing up in Atlanta, I knew people whose family had never voted Republican. When George Allen was elected to the Virginia legislature, he was one of only a handful of Republicans. When the South went red in 1994, Republicans were winning elections in Southern states for the first time since the Civil War. The South was always conservative. They were going to go Republican eventually. It was only Johnson’s management of the Wallace faction that kept it blue for so long.

However, the Southern Strategy did have one palpable effect: both on its own and through liberal harping about it, the Southern Strategy alienated black voters to the point where the GOP is lucky to poll in single digits. This is despite a fair amount of conservatism among blacks, who are heavily pro-life and pro-school choice. P.J. O’Rourke said that Clinton’s popularity among blacks was because he allowed them to vote for a Republican without throwing up.

In the 40’s and 50’s, Republicans routinely drew support among black voters in the 20-30% range. If that trend had continued, more than a few elections would have gone differently.

I’m afraid the GOP is going down the same path again with their stance on gay issues. The country is shifting rapidly on these issues, especially among young voters — much more rapidly than it did on racial issues. Huge majorities oppose DADT, including a majority of conservatives. Gay marriage is closing in on majority support and large majorities favor at least civil unions. And barring gay adoption or gay sex simply isn’t on the radar for any but the most ardent cultural conservatives. Yet the entire GOP field supports DADT and DOMA, most favor the Marriage Amendment and Santorum favors just about every anti-gay measure you can think of.

Some of this support is in name only — the FMA, for example, has zero change of happening. But their vocal support for these policies is going to come back to bite them and probably not too far in the future. As more gays come out of the closet, as more people have gay friends and relatives, as more gays get married and have kids and as the world fails to end despite this, people are going to remember where the GOP was on this. People with gay kids are going to remember that the Rick Santorum wanted to deny their in-laws and take away their grandkids. People whose lives were saved by gay soldiers will realize they would have died had DADT been in place.

We are going to pay for this crap. And we are going to pay and pay and pay (literally, given the spending habits of the Democrats).

My fears have only strengthened in the three years since I wrote those words. While a number of Republicans have broken ranks — showing much more political courage than any Democrats, incidentally — I still fear that gay marriage will go down in history as a faint echo of the Southern Strategy debacle. A faint echo because the Republican opposition was at least partially built on principle. It was clear in 2004 that many Republicans were uncomfortable with their gay marriage position (you may remember a leaked phone call where Bush talked about how much he disliked taking the position) and that this was, at least in part, a cold political calculus from Karl Rove who thought opposing gay marriage would win a tough election. But most of the opposition was a principled opposition to changing one of the pillars of our civilization.

(The echo should be even fainter because Democrats opposed gay marriage until it became politically safe not to. But Democrats are never held to any standard, let alone the ones that Republicans are held to. Republicans still get beat up over their short-lived Southern Strategy; Democrats are absolved from their century-long embrace of Jim Crow.)

Still, I think the analogy holds. It will not be forgotten that Republicans were the face of the opposition to gay marriage and that the remaining opposition is from Republicans. Will this hurt them enough to matter in an election? There are a lot fewer gays than there are blacks and they are not as unified electorally. But considering how close some elections have been, it’s entirely possible that this will hurt us down the road, especially as the young people who support gay marriage today become the political force of tomorrow.

Purity Bear

Because you haven’t watched any video this week until you’ve watched this one:

If there were any justice in this world, the clip would end with the boy fucking the bear. Just to make the circle of creepiness complete.

This is from Liberty Counsel, a group that supports the usual nos — no sex, no sex education, no birth control, no HPV vaccines, no gays and, apparently, no acting lessons. This is in support their “Day of Purity” when teens will celebrate abstaining from sex. Having abstained from sex through high school — not of my own volition — this isn’t exactly something I would celebrate. I would have spent it more raging at my invisibility to the fairer sex and wishing I were dead (or played football).

But to each his own.

I just don’t see this being effective. If I were a teenager, this ad would make me run out and defile myself at once just to make sure I never ever encountered that damned bear.

Book Burners? Nah

I’ve previously made mention of the factually-challenged liberal blogger Amanda Marcotte. She’s the “feminist” blogger who, among other things, claims that polls showing that about half of women are pro-Life are biased because women are too stupid to know what pro-Life means (no, I’m not making that up.)

Last week, she wrote an article about the Tea Party moving to ban books which was forwarded me by about every liberal on the planet, including members of Amazon basin native tribes that have yet to make contact with western civilization. Funny thing, ha ha. Her article actually doesn’t present any evidence that the Tea Party, per se, is banning books, per se. The logic appears to be:

1) Tea Partiers tend to be socially conservative;
2) Some social conservatives want books they consider inappropriate for children removed from school libraries;
3) Therefore the Tea Party wants to ban books.

Jonah Goldberg has now looked deeper into this. And … well, do we really need to ask what he found?

So, in other words since the rise of the Tea Parties the number of “banned books” has actually gone down (not counting, of course, the incidents that the “group never learns about” which are no doubt legion). Neither USA Today story has anything whatsoever to say about the Tea Parties. And the second one titled, “Those challenging books find strength in numbers” is mostly about the apparently new controversy over risque content in advance placement testing.

Also, at least some of these challenges are coming from liberals who object to content they regard as racist and/or sexist.

For the record, my opinion on books, films and TV is that it should be age appropriate. I remember when Schindler’s List debuted, unedited, on television. Spielberg had a little video beforehand advising parents to exercise their judgement; that he wouldn’t let his young kids see it but would insist on his older children watching it.

I have no problem with fencing off controversial books into a section accessible either to older students or those whose parents have signed off. AP classes, by definition, are for mature students who can handle a little controversy but parents should be informed beforehand so they can decide whether or not to let their kids take the class. As long as everyone’s informed, we’re good.

Actually, my preference is to privatize the schools altogether, making this a parental rather than political issue. But even modest efforts in that direction are running into stiff resistance. If we’re going to have public schools, some accommodation for religious and or PC parents is not unreasonable.

In any case, the notion that the Tea Parties are gearing up for a massive book burning is ridiculous. I’ve spoken to — in person or electronically — Tea Partiers ranging from libertarian to moderate conservative to bible-thumping Religious Right. I’ve gotten an earful on every issue from the gold standard to the space program to gay rights. And I have never had anyone bring up books in school.

Nice try, Ms. Marcotte. But we’re a little too busy cleaning up the mess your political allies have left to bother with books right now.

New York, New York

In case you missed it, New York legalized same sex marriage tonight. It was a close vote that hinged on insuring the religious freedom of churches to not perform or recognize gay marriages if they didn’t want to. But in the end, four Republican senators showed the political courage that the President seems hesitant to show.

It was fairly remarkable event, covered heavily on twitter and the blogs and with the live TV feed — normally watched by about a hundred people — drawing over 40,000 viewers. I think the reason so much attention focused on it was because this really breaks the issue open. The third largest state in the union, with a Republican-majority legislature, has now jumped on the SSM wagon. It’s impossible to portray this as judicial activism. And impossible to turn back the tide.

I’m actually glad to see it. Gays are not going away and marriage — or at least civil unions — is the conservative way, as long as the religious liberty protections are kept. If gays start getting married, buying houses, starting business and paying taxes, we might just make conservatives out of them.