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People like Mark Warner.  I like Mark Warner.  I once participated in a town hall teleconference call of his.  He came across as open-minded, willing to listen to other points of view.  A Republican delegate in the General Assembly when Warner was governor said that he was very friendly and easy to work with.

 

Warner has branded himself as a moderate, willing to compromise and work with both sides of the aisle. He calls himself a radical centrist. This seems to be the voting public’s perception.

 

If only it were true.  Warner’s five-and-a-half year Senate voting record shows that he has voted almost exclusively the Democrat party line, otherwise known as President Obama’s agenda.  The numbers bear this out.  The Virginia GOP claimed that Warner voted for Obama’s stated positions 97 percent of the time.  Politifact investigated and ruled this claim as true.  In 419 senate roll call votes, Warner voted for Obama’s expressed position 406 times.

 

But wait.  That’s only 28 percent of Warner’s 1,473 roll call votes.  What about the other 72 percent?  Couldn’t those votes show Warner as much more conservative than the average Democrat?

 

Some people think so. The National Journal and Open Congress both conducted voting studies which show Warner as one of the most conservative Democratic senators.  Warner has sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to approve the Keystone pipeline and to permit drilling for oil and natural gas offshore of Virginia.  Unfortunately, this legislation never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.  Warner’s complete voting record, however, shows that saying that Warner is one of the most conservative Democrat senators is like saying Joe Smith is one of the most progressive members of the John Birch society.

 

According to Open Congress, Warner has voted the Democrat party line 92 percent of the time in the current Congress.  Over his entire senate term, he has voted against the party 243 times out of about 2700 votes, which still has him voting the party position over nine times out of ten.  If one factors in the times he abstained (101), which is not actually voting, his support for Democrat positions climbs to 94.5 percent.

 

Eliminating every vote except for actual passage of bills (no votes for amendments, procedural motions, impeachments and nominations) presents a different picture.  Since 2009, Congress has passed 752 laws according to Congress-summary.com.  Warner voted against the Democratic position on three of those laws, hence, supporting the Democratic position 99.6 percent of the time.  The three bills were supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, a trade agreement with Columbia, and the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.

 

This means that Warner has voted for virtually all major Democratic legislation.  He voted for Obamacare, providing the 60th vote and making it filibuster-proof.  He has voted for all of the debt ceiling increases and all of the spending bills that have added over $7 trillion to our debt in just over five and a half years.  He’s not a budget hawk, at least not with his votes.

 

My subjective perception of Warner is that he has a moderate temperament.  Perhaps he was able to use amendments to make some legislation less progressive.  Regardless of how moderate his temperament is, it hasn’t translated to his votes.  His efforts to bring more moderate legislation to the Senate floor have largely failed, which was perhaps inevitable in a senate run by Harry Reid.

 

In any case, Warner’s record lets us know where he stands on issues when it matters—when it’s time to vote.  Regardless of his rhetoric, a vote for Mark Warner is a vote for the progressive Democratic agenda of Barack Obama and Harry Reid.  He will vote to keep Obamacare, should it come up for repeal.  He will vote to raise the debt ceiling and for budgets which add hundreds of billions to our national debt every year.  Over 700 of his votes confirm this.

 

We don’t know how Republican Ed Gillespie will vote should he be elected.  He says all the right things at the moment.  Like so many other politicians, unfortunately, he could go back on his word.  Nevertheless, there is a chance that Gillespie will consistently vote for lower spending, reform of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, repeal of Obamacare, and other measures necessary for fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government.  We need to vote to give him the opportunity.

At first face, the persistence of those who want the Redskins to change their name seems admirable.  Neither Daniel Snyder  nor Redskins fans appear to be budging at all.  Nevertheless, the protesters keep pressing and continue to pick up supporters, Phil Simms and Tony Dungy for example.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the protesters are right.  Say that “Redskin” is a horribly degrading epithet, like “nigger,” “spic,” or “wop.”   The movement to change the name continues to gain steam, and somebody convinces Daniel Snyder or the next owner to change the name.  What happens next?   There are parties in the street.  The protesters congratulate each other and get lots of good press from the media.  Perhaps the few Native Americans who found “Redskins” offensive are interviewed and talk about how much they like the change.  And then the next 24-hour news cycle takes over.

Beyond the name, what has actually changed?  Nothing, at least regarding life for Native Americans.  The name change has not resulted in any reduction in alcoholism, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, unemployment, suicide, high school dropout rates, or any other social ill on Indian reservations.  For hundreds of thousands (millions?), life will be just as wretched as before.

Given the very real problems that cause actual misery, pain and death for Native Americans, what would be more admirable for the Redskins protesters to do would be to help them to overcome some of these problems.  Perhaps they could start Alcoholics Anonymous  and Narcotics Anonymous chapters on the reservations.  Or the businessmen among the protesters could mentor Native Americans in starting businesses and developing sustainable economies on the reservations.  Others could help fathers and husbands learn to connect with their families and stop the cycle of family dysfunction that spiritually and psychologically cripples the next generation.

If the protesters gave real help to Native Americans and challenged Redskins fans to do the same, there wouldn’t be victory parties with dancing in the streets.  There would be very few, if any, television interviews.  There wouldn’t be a single moment when everybody could declare victory and go home.

However, life would be a lot better for some Native Americans.  More of their children could go to bed in a house with both their mother and their father sleeping under the same roof.  More would finish school and successfully provide for themselves and their families, giving the next generation some hope.   Somehow, that just seems better than the symbolic victory of a name change.

Redskins protesters, if you want to do Native Americans some good, do the hard work that will actually make life better for some of them.  If not, just keep doing what you’re doing and smile for the cameras.

I’m just copying this from Momdot.  I have nothing to add except to question the teacher’s and principal’s sanity.

 

About 5 minutes ago one of my very good blogger friends shared that a family member of hers was allegedly sent to in school suspension for saying ‘Bless You’ in a high school class today.

Bless you.

As in someone sneezed and she said “Bless You.”

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High School Sr Kendra Turner

 Did this seriously just happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave?? 

I am so glad that we have our priorities straight,  America. 

Now listen- I get that we have to be super politically correct for fear of actually teaching kids (in an educational facility of all place!) that some people (gasp!) have religious beliefs, but this one takes the major cake.  While saying “Bless You” is a form of religious stance for this young high schooler who has every RIGHT to be religious, the reality is that its also a common every day courtesy that is often rooted in nothing more than being polite.

I am blown away that in a society that claims itself to be so progressive and free, we have stripped away our religion so far down to the roots that our kids cannot say Bless You without fear of retribution.

I was so shocked about this situation that I asked Kendra to reach out to me and she did.

Here are her words on what happened today:

A girl sitting right next me sneezed in class. I said “Bless You!”  My teacher, (Name redacted by Editor) asked “Who said that?”  I said “me.” She said “Why did you say that?” I said “Because it is courtesy.” She said “Says who?” I said “Says my pastor.” She said “Well we don’t say that in my class.”

I asked her why it was a big deal to her. She yelled at me and said “We will not have Godly speaking in my class!” That is when I stood up and said “My pastor said I have a constitutional right -1st amendment freedom of speech.”  She said “Not in my class you don’t.”

 I said “I will defend my religion.” She said “You will not in my class because I trump everyone.” Then another student stepped in and said “You don’t over trump God.”  So she sent me to the office and the assistants principal said “if I didn’t want to respect my teachers rules then maybe My pastor should teach me because my freedom or speech and religion does not work at their school. 

Then they sent me to ISS (in school suspension). After I left the class room all my class mates stood up and defended me the teacher had to call assistants principal to control the class.

Now I could sit here and go on a serious rant about our freedoms and rights and even our education system not being very educational, but I’ll throw it to you instead…did Kendra deserve suspension for saying ‘Bless You’ to a classmate?

~Trisha

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Here are additional news stories that have come out:

Edited to add: This is the story told to ME, which is why I published it from her own words. I am not a news organization or a journalist, but rather a concerned parent whom brought this to my website to share with other parents as was told. I fully understand that this could be untrue, true, or a version of the truth. Everyone has a story, including the school and teacher. A representative of this site attempted to call the school for a statement and were told throughout the day that they principal was in meetings. A call to the superintendent office was disconnected once we got him on the phone. I know there are other news organizations involved and if I get an updated article from a larger news source that includes a statement from the school,  I will edit to add them but as of now the only statement we have heard is the one in the clip above. You are welcome to debate your opinions in the comments as long as everyone is respectful. Thankyou.

craigcomess:

This is worth a read.

Originally posted on everybody has a right to my opinion:

I feel a little embarrassed by this.  I’ve heard Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals referred to numerous times and was familiar with Rule 13, but I’d never read all of the rules, much less the book.  Now I feel compelled to get the book as these rules look way too familiar to me.

Rule 13 is particularly disgusting.  In debating progressives over various issues and incidents, I’ve seen this belief–one side is all good and the other all bad–far too often.  Unfortunately I encounter it on both sides.  Republicans believe that all Democrats want to destroy the country, and Democrats believe that Republicans just want to eat the poor.  I thought that it was just immature thought.  It amazed me that adults could possibly think that they were right about every issue 100 percent of the time while the other side was completely wrong and stupid.

Now I see that…

View original 730 more words

I feel a little embarrassed by this.  I’ve heard Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals referred to numerous times and was familiar with Rule 13, but I’d never read all of the rules, much less the book.  Now I feel compelled to get the book as these rules look way too familiar to me.

Rule 13 is particularly disgusting.  In debating progressives over various issues and incidents, I’ve seen this belief–one side is all good and the other all bad–far too often.  Unfortunately I encounter it on both sides.  Republicans believe that all Democrats want to destroy the country, and Democrats believe that Republicans just want to eat the poor.  I thought that it was just immature thought.  It amazed me that adults could possibly think that they were right about every issue 100 percent of the time while the other side was completely wrong and stupid.

Now I see that fostering this belief is part of a strategy to divide people and keep ill will stirred up between political opponents.  This is evil.  Abraham Lincoln addressed the consequences of division in an 1858 speech.  The title of his speech was “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand.”  Like all good writers, he borrowed his best material.  This time it was from someone who spoke, as the people of His day said, with authority

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: ”  Matthew 12:25

In one of the introductory quotes from Rules for Radicals, Alinsky acknowledges at least one inspiration for his radicalism.  He states, “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history… the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishmentand did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.

People who encourage division and strife in our nation to achieve some ideological goal need to be stopped.  The radicals succeeded in stirring up strife in Nazi Germany, brought in a dictator to solve the problems they helped to create, and then watched as their nation fell and many parts burned to the ground.  The Nazi radicals were a small minority, but the peaceful majority failed to stop them from dividing the people into small groups the Nazis could conquer and so take over the nation.

We who want a strong, stable nation and government that protects the rights guaranteed to all citizens in the Constitution must not fail to expose those who would attempt to divide and conquer us.  We need to know the “Rules for Radicals” and recognize when they are operating.

 

1. “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”

2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat…. [and] the collapse of communication.

3. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.”

6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time….”

8. “Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.”

9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.”

11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside… every positive has its negative.”

12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”

13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.  In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’…    “…any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When you ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’

     “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” (pps.127-134)

The Redskins will face the Patriots in a pre-season game tonight, but another game that’s already making some noise is the Redskins’ away game at the Minnesota Vikings on November 2.

The Vikings are renting the University of Minnesota’s stadium for the next couple of seasons while their stadium is being built.  At $250,000 a week for the next two years (16 home games=$4 million), the university is no doubt very happy with the deal.  What university officials are not so happy about is that they will have to host that team with the awful, offensive name that must not be mentioned.  To avoid the university having anything to do that “hateful slur” as Minnesota U.S. Representative Betty McCollum termed it in a letter to the Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, officials are “seeking to avoid using the nickname of the Washington Redskins ‘on promotional and game date materials.'”

That will teach the Redskins and their fans quite a lesson.  As McCollum wrote in her letter to Wilf, “The time for debate has ended — the name of the Washington franchise is clearly an offensive racial slur.”

Is it now?  I’ve participated in debate in high school and coached it as a teacher.  In order for a real debate to happen, as opposed to a baseless exchange of unsupported assertions, the debaters have to give evidence to support their position.  It’s called making a case.   When preparing a case, debaters research the evidence for and against their position(s).  When they present their case, they have to use logic and specific examples to illustrate their points.

Representative McCollum presents no such evidence in her letter.  Not an iota.  Not one mention of any instance in which the word Redskin was ever used as a racial slur.  No column I’ve ever read by others who claim that Redskin is a racial insult has included any examples.

In the interests of full disclosure and integrity, I searched a Wikipedia article about the history of the controversy.  As so many people are interested, the article was very well documented with 382 citations.  The results were ambiguous. American Indians used the term to refer to themselves simply as a descriptive term, neither good nor bad.  Apparently in literature between 1875 and 1930, the word was used both positively and negatively, but, again, no specific examples were given. Interestingly, the name “Indian” was also used both positively and negatively in the same literature.

Assuming the contributors to the article to be honest, that would place the name Redskin in the same category as Jew, Black, and White.  These are all benign, descriptive names in and of themselves.  People can use them as slurs even though that is not their meaning.  I’m a Jew.  If I were walking down the street and somebody started calling me “Jew,” I’d get a little concerned, specially with the rise of anti-Semitism around the world.  In that context, I would be reminded of pogroms and gas chambers.  I’d also feel a little insulted because that person would be identifying me personally as my ethnicity rather than who I am individually, as though my ethnicity were more significant than my character.

On the other hand, if somebody named a football team the Jersey Jews, I wouldn’t feel insulted.  As I’ve said before, people don’t pick team mascots to dishonor them or pick names that are inherently dishonorable.  Notre Dame has the Fighting Irish, not the Mighty Micks.  As far as I know, the Fighting Irish don’t make people think of negative Irish stereotypes.  I doubt a commentator has ever said, “the Irish are passing the ball as much a Mick tosses back pints.”  Would a commentator say that the Jersey Jews are being as “stingy” with the ball as Jewish money lender?  I think not.  If anything, they’d be compared to the Israeli Defense Force, which would be anything but an insult.

What is actually offensive about this whole Redskins name controversy is the utter waste of it all.  People are putting time and energy into solving a non-problem that won’t making any real difference in anybody’s lives when real problems that have real effects on real Indians get little to no attention.  Indian reservations have horrible rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, fatherlessness, unemployment, high school dropouts and every other social ill.

I don’t see anything in the press about those problems.  Why? Those problems have been around for decades and have proven very difficult to solve.  Outside of a move of God, which could happen, people would have to work for decades to fix those problems.  There wouldn’t be a moment when we could all say, “The alcoholism problem is fixed.  Native Americans have better lives now that the alcoholism problem has been solved.”

If the Washington Redskins were to make the poor decision of bowing to political and social pressure to change their name, the Political Correctness police could all celebrate in the streets and shout, “Glory Hallelujah,” congratulate themselves on their self-righteousness, and then move on to the next pointless project of forcing somebody to change a name.  In the meantime, some three-year-old Native American girl is going to wonder where her father is after he commits suicide or is arrested after beating her mother in a drunken rage.  Somehow, I don’t think the Redskins changing their name would mean much to her.

This morning, I was asked to explain my philosophy and how it shapes my view of public policy in 150-250 words.  It seemed like a good idea for a post.

 

I am a fiscal, social, and foreign policy conservative because I believe in truth.  Truth can be known because God has given us minds able to perceive reality, including moral truth, through the senses, reason, and revelation.  Biblical Christianity is true given that it corresponds with reality.  The Bible says that people were originally created perfect but are fallen and tend to sin, causing the vast majority of our problems.

            Original sin, as G.K. Chesterton put it, is a fact “as practical as potatoes.”  Because of man’s fallen nature, we can’t produce utopias.  Our utopias inevitably become killing fields and gulags where we see the violent deaths of millions and the enslavement of millions more.  The French Revolution, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, Cuba, and Cambodia prove this.    

            Because of man’s fallen nature, power concentrated in the hands of too few is dangerous.  As Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Hence, I believe in limited government with the power delegated to as many people as possible with the private citizens having as much freedom as we can stand. 

            I am a fiscal conservative because it is wrong to spend the money of people not yet born.  I am a social conservative because Judeo-Christian morality prevents social problems that require big government and that make many citizens miserable.  I am a foreign policy conservative because terrorists and other bullies respect only strength and relentless determination.       

Last week, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, and Reince Priebus asked for my ideas on how to reduce federal spending and indicated that they would like to discuss them over lunch.  Yeah, right.  Actually, it was a fund-raising e-mail that did ask for suggestions from the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people on their distribution list.  Nevertheless, I bit.  I’m pretty sure I told them more than they wanted to hear.  Here’s what I wrote.

 

There is no one simple and painless solution.  Whatever you decide upon will need to be sold to the American people as necessary, albeit painful. 

 1)  Cut your salaries, perks, and office expenses.  If Americans don’t see you as willing to share the pain, they won’t be on board. 

2) Reform Social Security.  People are living longer, so the age at which benefits start needs to be raised.  People need to expect to work longer.  Means testing should be considered, at least for the wealthy retired.  It’s not fair as they’ve paid the most into the system, but it’s something the wealthy should be prepared to sacrifice.  Also, phasing out  Social Security over several decades should be considered.  Roosevelt’s actuaries told him that the program was financially unsustainable.  Given our demographics, it’s even less so now.   

3)  Reduce health care costs using the following measures.

a.  Reform tort law to reduce doctors’ medical malpractice costs, savings they could pass on to their patients.

b.  Allow health insurance companies to do business across state lines.  This would make the market more competitive.

c.  Change Obamacare so that health insurance companies can offer lower-cost insurance that doesn’t cover routine doctor visits or medication.  This would lower doctors’ overhead by eliminating the need to most medical coding for reimbursement from insurance companies, again allowing doctors to charge less.  When consumers pay out of pocket for medical care, they will shop around for the best care, medications other medical products at the best price, encouraging doctors and pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices.

3.  Reform Medicare and Medicaid by giving vouchers to purchase private insurance for emergencies and for routine doctor’s visits.  The beneficiaries would have the power to choose, and doctors have more incentive to keep their fees low.

4.  Reform welfare much like you did in the 90s.  People need to know there are limits to government compassion. 

 None of this will work if Americans are not willing.  Americans need to be persuaded that the deficit and debt are serious, and fixing it will require that we change how we live.  We will need to take responsibility to plan and provide for our own retirement through saving and investing as opposed to retiring on government welfare.  People should be willing to live in multi-generational households in order to help their parents and pool resources to help build wealth in the family.

We need to take care of our families by working very hard and living within our means.  We need to stop having children out of wedlock and getting divorced unnecessarily; single-parent homes headed by women are statistically the most likely to be poor.   One out of three children lives without his or her biological father, which is a predictor for all kinds of social pathologies which increase the cost of government at all levels.

We, individuals, need to take responsibility to help the genuinely needy, especially within our own families.  By its nature, the help would be temporary and would come with accountability for those able to work.  Private charities and faith communities would respond when the family fails, and local and state government when they fail.  Those unable to work would need to be taken care of on a permanent basis.

Citizens need to stop believing that government can manage the economy or create jobs.  We need to know that we don’t need you to fix the economy.  You can’t, and we can, so you could stop spending money on bailouts and job creation programs.

I won’t be waiting by the phone to hear from Rand, Paul, and Reince.

Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby II

 

Women should not be forced to jump through extra hoops to secure the fundamental health care they need.”              Nancy Pelosi

 

No woman should have to choose between necessary health care and having to pay their bills.

U.S. Representative Tim Ryan

 

Successful people use powerful words and images to connect with their listeners’ emotions.  The idea is to move people to belief or opinion by moving them emotionally.  The audience’s intellect need not be involved.

In a cynical mood, I might believe that politicians would prefer that we not use our intellect at all, at least when they are pushing some policy position or energizing their base.  When we do engage intellectually, politicians’ words are often revealed to be more verbal slight-of-hand than honest discussion of the issue.

Pelosi and Ryan, echoing the Administration’s position about Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, assume that contraception and abortifacients are “fundamental” and “necessary health care.”  To get us to make that assumption as well, Pelosi gives us a picture of women being “forced to jump through extra hoops” to get that basic health care.  We’ve all been through bureaucratic mazes before.  For example, we may have tried to get information from the IRS about taxes or gone through all of the steps required to get a building permit for an addition on a house.  Getting bureaucratic approval for a medical procedure may cause the need for further medication.  Getting approved for immigration or a welfare benefit at least used to be time-consuming and difficult.  We feel the trouble women having to go through all those extra steps to get basic health care on a gut level.

But when we engage the intellect regarding Pelosi’s statement, it makes no sense in the context of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby.  The decision simply says that Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to pay for contraception or abortifacients because of a religious and moral objection.  The result for women on employers’ health plans does not require any additional bureaucratic hoops.  When a woman (or man) wishes to purchase contraceptions or abortifacients, all he or she has to do is go to the drug store, select the contraceptive or abortifacient, and then pay for it with cash or plastic.  No muss, no fuss.

Tim Ryan uses another powerful image that most of us can relate to:  paying bills.  We’ve all been at the kitchen table sorting through the mortgage, electric, water, and trash bills.  We know what it feels like when we have to choose either which bill we will pay or what necessity or want that we might need to forgo for a while.

However, the image distorts the truth again.  Yes, paying out of pocket for contraception does cost additional money   But it doesn’t have to be much money.  There is a variety of contraception with a variety of costs.  People could choose a low-cost option, say condoms.  A quick perusal of the condom prices on the Walgreen’s website shows that condoms can cost as low as a dollar or so apiece.  A condom and some spermicidal gel shouldn’t break anybody’s budget.

But wait.  Can’t that additional expense add up and be another burdensome expense?  It could.  If people have sex 60 or 70 times a month, it could put a crimp in a modest budget.  All the same, people choose to have that much sex or use a more expensive contraceptive.  It’s not another bill one has to pay in order to keep the lights on.  Of course, with the cost-curve of health care bent up for most of us, any additional expense may be burdensome.

The verbiage “necessary” and “fundamental health care” is more dishonest.  First, health insurance does not cover all basic health care.  Insurance doesn’t usually cover dental hygiene products or over the counter medication for pain and illness.  Most would agree that these items would be part of fundamental health care.  We could go further and define gym memberships, healthy food, eyeglasses, and decent mattresses as necessary health care.  Insurance generally doesn’t pay for those, so why should it pay for contraception?

Second, people can choose not to use contraception and remain perfectly healthy.  They would just need also to choose to take care of their health by not having sex with people they are not married to and be willing to rear a child should they become pregnant.  If people choose to sleep around, they are choosing to endanger their health.  Why should employers and the other people on the insurance plan buy protection for people if they choose to indulge in risky recreational activities?

Regardless of what one thinks about the decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, the debate should be honest.  Misusing words to frame the debate reveals that one doesn’t believe that an honest statement of one’s case is defensible.

Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.   George Orwell

During his presidency, Bill Clinton continually assaulted the English language.   He would make statements that sounded as if he meant one thing when in reality he meant something very different.  As a student and teacher of English, I found this deeply offensive.

When one of his nominees for the Justice Department, Lani Guinier, was criticized for some of her radically leftist opinions, Clinton defended her saying “right now” she “is” his nominee.  In hindsight, after she withdrew her nomination, some pointed out that the phrase “right now” indicated that his willingness to stand behind her was meant only for that specific time.

Speaking directly to the American people during a press conference about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  Almost anybody would understand that to mean that he didn’t engage in sexual activity with her.  Not so.  By “sexual relations,” he meant sexual intercourse only.  Nothing else qualifies as sexual relations, so everything else he and Lewinsky did-which was quite a lot as further events revealed- was not addressed in that statement.

Clinton also challenged the very the nature of language and communication.  During grand jury proceedings, he was asked about statements his lawyer made as to whether Clinton had sex of any kind with Lewinsky.  His answer was  “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”  He focused on the difference in meaning between verb tenses, which is technically true.  However, like the previous two statements, he used language to mask meaning rather than communicate truth.

Many have copied Clinton’s example as revealed by the Clintonesque abuse of language in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby. 

Here are the facts of the situation.  The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision said that private employers, at least of closely held companies, were not required to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients they had a religious objection to.   Hobby Lobby is owned by the Green family. They are Christians who object to to abortifacients which destroy already fertilized eggs, which they consider to be human life.  The Greens had no problems providing 16 forms of contraception on the company insurance plan, just not the four abortifacients required on all health insurance plans by Obamacare.

Here are some statements made by people opposed to the decision:

Hillary Clinton declared it “a serious breach of a woman’s right.”

Charles Trentelman said, ‘it is not right” for an employer “to control the health choices of its employees” and “refusing to pay for valid health care is not okay, it is using employer power to control people.

National Abortion Rights Action League President Ilyse Hogue stated, “Allowing bosses this much control over the health care decisions of their employees is a slippery slope with no end.”

The speakers all use language deceptively in order to frame the debate in terms of their position on the issue.  The first three speakers indicate that an employer not paying for contraception is violating a woman’s right to use contraception, i.e. to control the woman.  This is patently, nakedly, obviously, and without question false.  Women are not being denied the right to purchase or use contraception.  They are denied what some people are trying to make into a right:  having other people pay for their contraception.

Regardless of what is covered in a health insurance plan, nobody is stopping a woman from going to drug store and buying condoms, spermicidal creams or gels, or a morning-after pill.  The woman just has to pay for it from her own funds, not her employer’s funds and the funds of her fellow employees who also pay for the plan.  The employer cannot lift one finger to prevent a woman from going to her gynecologist and getting fitted for a diaphragm.

Yet the language the speakers use paints a picture of bosses as religious prudes pointing a finger and forbidding a woman from obtaining birth control.  In other words, the Supreme Court’s decision will take us back to the days before Planned Parenthood, when women were not legally permitted to purchase contraception.  Now women will have to stay at home and raise all these babies that the employers caused by denying these women access to contraception.

Clinton, Trentelman, and Hogue are using political language as Orwell defined it, misusing words such as “right” and “control,” to indicate that something is happening-employers controlling the health care choices of their employees—that is not happening.  They are trying to solidify wind, blowing smoke at us.

 

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