Rightbloggers Go to Holy War for Hobby Lobby, Against Abortion Pills, Lady Judges
Well, the Hobby Lobby lawsuit somehow made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The glue and glitter chain's argument, and that of other religious employers, that providing health care which might tempt their employees into pregnancy-free sex was against their religion was put forward last week by lawyers from the Becket Fund, named after Thomas Becket, who like Hobby Lobby was persecuted for his religion by a tyrant.
As typically happens when birth control is mentioned in their presence (see Fluke, Sandra) rightbloggers portrayed the case as one in which sluts forced the innocent to buy them slut pills.They also promoted stranger ideas -- for instance, that liberals were trying not just to enforce their so-called "law" but also to destroy religion, using health care coverage to that purpose (because what other purpose could it possibly have?).
Briefly: Under the Affordable Care Act employers have to provide their full-time employees with health insurance. Also under the ACA, health insurance coverage must include birth control if the insured needs and wants it. Jesus Christ told the owners of Hobby Lobby that to allow their employees to get contraceptives through their health insurance would be a great sin. Thus, this case.
Conservative legal authorities had their own game going, usually involving angels, pinheads, and dancing; for example, when the government asked why Hobby Lobby et alia didn't just opt out of providing health insurance and pay the $2,000-a-head fine, Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy ah-ha'd, this "demonstrates that the government actually does not view it as essential that people receive insurance through their employers as opposed to from other sources." Maybe Volokh favors single payer.
Volokh also proposed alternative remedies: e.g., "Employers with conscientious objections could compensate for not providing contraceptive coverage by adding other valuable coverage to the employees' plans, thus ensuring that the employer receives no financial benefit from the objection and that the employees bear no net burden." Come on, now -- Obama put changes like that in the contraceptive mandate already, and look where that got us. Satisfying logical concerns only works if your opponents are using logic.
Regular rightbloggers didn't bother with this, endeavoring instead to clear up a theological matter: That birth control and abortion are the same thing, at least for purposes of religious liberty litigation.
Ed Whelan at National Review reported that when the White House went to the Institute of Medicine (a liberal fascist "scientific" organization) for recommendations on health insurance requirements, IOM told them to include "among other things, all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that can kill an embryo." The embryo-killer he refers to is Plan B, which prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall -- which, though it does not generate bloody photos suitable for waving at terrified women at Planned Parenthood, is still an abortion to such as Whelan.
"Hobby Lobby is an abortion case," agreed Whelan's colleague Matthew J. Franck. The Obama Administration was "citing a brief filed by some medical professionals that 'explains' that no abortions are caused by any of the mandated drugs and devices" but, Franck insisted, "that 'explanation' rests on wordplay about 'pregnancy' and 'implantation.'" Franck had an explanation -- scare-quotes presumably missing -- from the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other such groups, and they see it as he does: Once that sperm fertilizes that egg, all rights are transferred from the female body surrounding it to the speck itself.
The more disciplined among the brethren made a point of referring to the birth control requirements strictly as "the Obamacare abortion-drug, contraception, and sterilization mandate," which mellifluous usage is apparently meant to sway people who wonder why Hobby Lobby doesn't just cough up the pills already. Others just brassed it out in their own way, e.g. Jill Stanek: "The mandate would require employers - despite their religious objections - to cover abortifacient drugs in employees' insurance plans, or pay heavy penalties." Not only aborty, but also facient, which sounds like "fascist," right?
Not everyone was so strategic. Some of the rightblogger arguments took the form of simple abuse, e.g., "Leftards Going The Extra Mile For Stupidity... Hobby Lobby Case Sends The Left Spiraling Towards Psychotic Dementia!!!" "To me, the outcome of this case should be obvious," declared Frank Camp of Reading The Score. "...I think liberals know this, so they have begun to set up straw man arguments -- many of which are comically stupid." Camp gave as an example Senator Barbara Boxer's comparison of Hobby Lobby's objection to birth control with a theoretical objection to Viagra. Explained Camp: "Barbara 'off with their heads' Boxer has set up a straw man which she believes will distract people from the real argument at hand. Boxer has shifted the debate to women's rights... Boxer is being intellectually dishonest if she thinks that what she is claiming is remotely believable. Either that, or she's just not that bright." OK, perhaps "explained" wasn't the best word for what Camp did here. (Later: "Barbara Boxer is a liar. She is an intellectually, and morally bankrupt woman who seems to have nothing better to do than lie repeatedly on national television." The title of Camp's post is "LIAR ALERT! SENATOR BARBARA BOXER DECEIVES IN HOBBY LOBBY CASE." Somebody prank-call this guy and tell him you need a character reference for Barbara Boxer.)
The religious-right bloggers were about what you'd expect. One assiduous follower of the case was National Review editor and devout Catholic Kathryn J. Lopez. "Do people who run businesses have a right to religious liberty on the job?" she asked, referring to, you guessed it, "the Department of Health and Human Services's Obamacare abortion-drug, contraception, and sterilization mandate." Lopez also attended demonstrations outside the Supreme Court and concluded from these that "what the Hobby Lobby case is about" is "sexual revolutionary values trumping freedom."
When President Obama visited the Pope, Lopez saw all sorts of Hobby Lobby visions. "The pope - who is not unknown for exuberant embraces - seemed to display a fatherly concern in his body language as he greeted the president," she said, and provided a photo just in case we thought she was kidding. Lopez exulted in what she perceived as the dwindling popularity of Obama -- "long gone are the days since the president has been heralded on the likes of the cover of Time and Rolling Stone" -- and the unstoppable power of the pontiff ("even Barack Obama wants something of what this Pope Francis has. Which is not a winning political agenda, but an eternal one: Christ"). But Lopez bristled when MSNBC referred to Obama and Francis as "champions of income equality." "Don't tell me President Obama is a champion of income equality," seethed Lopez, "when the Little Sisters of the Poor - women religious who serve the elderly poor -- are in court seeking the religious freedom that is our God-given right, and once a herald of our country." But what does that -- ah, forget it, she's rolling.
When Obama left the Vatican, Lopez summed up: "During Hobby Lobby week, is there a prayer our president left the Vatican willing to consider the un-American choice he's forced on the Little Sisters of the Poor?"
A number of the brethren had no such prayer, being convinced that the Obamacare defenders were not merely mistaken -- they were actively seeking to destroy America and/or God.
At National Review, Rich Lowry bade us get to know the smiling faces of "the Greens of Oklahoma City" -- David and Barbara, who run Hobby Lobby and, before the Obamakommando came after them, "weren't disturbing the peace, or denying anyone his or her rights. They were minding their own business -- quite successfully and in keeping with their Christian faith." (They were also paying for their employees' birth control. So much has changed since then!)
But "then one day Uncle Sam showed up to make an offer that the Greens couldn't refuse," continued Lowry, and "Hobby Lobby went from an inoffensive business to a scofflaw and an alleged combatant in the 'war on women' in no time at all -- and without changing any significant employment or business practice." Whoever heard of a law changing? Thanks, Obama -- or rather, per Lowry's thesaurus, thanks "coercive sweep of Obamacare," aka "the Obama-era project of running roughshod over moral traditionalists," which wants to "bring Hobby Lobby to heel" and thus assert "its pinched view of religion," which is that Big Gummint must "overawe any person, business, or institution whose beliefs run counter to officially sanctioned attitudes."
Lowry's colleague Yuval Levin told us what liberals, as imagined by him, believe: "that society really only consists of individuals and the government, and that the various institutions and power centers that lie between the two are inherently illegitimate and should either be seized or pushed aside when they get in the way of public-policy objectives." You know liberals, always pushing and seizing, especially when it comes to conscience exemptions -- like try withholding tax money because you don't want to pay for the military and see what they do to you! (Whereas Ted Cruz would totally let that shit slide.)
Because Justices Elena Kagen and Sonia Sotomayor had the temerity to ask questions during the hearings, Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom madsplained what they actually said: "fuck the First Amendment. And fuck natural, unalienable rights. We're in charge here, not some airy fairy notion of rights that we are not allowed to provide or take away," etc. After this lengthy monologue, Goldstein told us that "what we're witnessing is a coup" and that the Court's Obamacare decision in 2011 -- in which you will recall the Justices did not order Obama to be executed by Jeff Goldstein, but upheld most of the law -- "may prove to be the very last tug on the thread that unravels Constitutional protections, individual autonomy, and the entire Bill of Rights." Don't worry, folks, he does this every week, the prankster! (Amy Ridenour noticed Sotomayor asking Hobby Lobby about paying the fine, and portrayed it thus: "Justice Sotomayor may be willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater." What is it about liberals and murdering babies?)
When Kagan "asked whether a victory for Hobby Lobby would invite employers to object to other treatments, such as blood transfusions and vaccines," professional health-care-system wrecker Elizabeth McCaughey said at the New York Sun that "[Kagan's] vision of a uniform society where all are forced to put aside their diverse beliefs and march in lockstep with the government's mandates, sucked the oxygen out of the courtroom." Next thing you know they'll be putting fluoride in our water. McCaughey followed up, "What a contrast to the six male Justices, who, despite their ideological differences, searched for a way to accommodate the administration's goal without injuring the Greens and other employers spiritually opposed to abortion drugs." Lady justices ruin everything!
Sean Davis of The Federalist didn't care for the ladies' "ridiculous" arguments, either. When Kagan said Hobby Lobby had a choice of providing health insurance or paying a tax, Davis snarled, "Justice Nebuchadnezzar could not be reached for comment, but he would surely agree with Kagan's reasoning. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, after all, weren't forced to bow down and worship the golden idol constructed by Nebuchadnezzar. He gave them a choice. They could do this thing which violated their religion or they could do another thing. Thankfully, the Supreme Creator intervened on behalf of the three men and issued an injunction that stayed the mandatory furnace penalty." But soon it will be Kagan and all Obamatheist bitches who will face the fiery furnaces! Also, Plan B is abortion.
"Justice Kagan, You Gotta Serve Somebody," warned Francis J. Beckwith at The Catholic Thing. "The religion that the Greens, and many Americans, practice... is about who one is going serve. The attempt to capture it in the categories of law and economics, as Justice Kagan tries to do, simply distorts that reality." If anyone sees Beckwith outside chambers with a vial of "holy water," contact the authorities.
It got so that if someone spoke favorably of the female Justices, rightbloggers abused them: When Jeffrey Toobin said the women of the Court "rocked" the Hobby Lobby argument, noted legal analyst Ace of Spades growled, "I'm not convinced [Toobin's] smart enough to qualify as deceptive. When a dog poops on your couch, that's not dishonest.... these people who currently occupy elite positions? Are not elite. Who knows what would happen if these thick-witted, ignorant chair-holder-downers were pushed aside in favor of someone who knew what the hell they were talking about." Let of Ace of Spades write for The New Yorker, and he'll show you namby-pamby city-dwelling types how to deconstruct gender issues.
"What happens when the federal government seeks to replace God by defining 'church' and when life begins to have value, the latter having been done in Roe vs. Wade and subsequent court rulings?" asked cranky wingnut geezer Cal Thomas. Well, that answers itself -- what happens is the fascist dystopia we find ourselves in now! "Caesar needs to get back on his side of the church-state line," cried Thomas, but "it's going to take a Republican Congress and a Republican president with courage and a new health insurance plan to repeal Obamacare and start over with real reforms that protect religious believers and enhance health care." Plus Jesus. Don't forget Him.
At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson offered a column called "Antithought," showing President Obama under the gaze of Orwell ("George Orwell gave us some invaluable words: Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime...") and offering his customary opinion that liberals are Hitler squared, of which Hobby Lobby was portrayed as just another symptom. Apparently Paul Begala said that Clinton investigator Ken Starr's involvement in the Hobby Lobby case showed he remains "obsessed with sex." This may seem a feeble joke to most of you, but Williamson saw it as a jackboot-to-human-face-forever threat:
"Mr. Begala has enjoyed great success deploying the 'obsessed with sex' antithought for a decade and a half now," claimed Williamson -- well, who knows, we never watched Crossfire; maybe "obsessed with sex" was Begala's catchphrase, like "Dy-no-mite!" was for J.J. Walker. Anyway: "The Clinton machine began chanting it in the manner of an Arkansas-based cargo cult during the Lewinsky affair," Williamson continued, and used this chant to convince voters that the Republican prosecution of Clinton was creepy. Williamson, you will be unsurprised to learn, remains enraged that it worked. "President Clinton was so sex-obsessed that he was willing to risk his presidency and the national interest in exchange for treating the White House intern pool as his personal seraglio," he sputtered, "...but it was Ken Starr who was 'sex-obsessed'..."
Williamson went on to condemn the use of sarcasm against conservatives as a species of "antithought," in which "such content-free phrases as 'X much?' (e.g., 'Straw man much?' 'Issues much?' etc.), 'must have touched a nerve,' and the like pass for insight, even wit." How far our discourse has fallen since the Ciceronian age of George W. Bush. Orwell wept!
Williamson had previously expressed outrage that people laugh at Jon Stewart on TV; he seems to have internalized the conservative idea that when people laugh at Republicans it is not comedy, but Alinksy, and must be resisted with elaborate restatements of "that's not funny," which always works.
If you wonder how they get so hysterical about this stuff, the answer is, they work on it. Gaze upon the work of Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. Last week he told us that some liberal admitted some other liberals are intolerant, and Dreher took this as support for his long-standing contention that the atheists are going to put all the Jesus people in concentration camps. "One lesson conservatives are learning from all this is that liberals don't mean it when they seek 'dialogue' and 'tolerance,'" asserted Dreher. "They are only looking for a foothold, and when they get it, and feel strong enough, they will suppress conservative opposition in the name of justice and morality... Sooner or later, there will be a backlash against our own post-Christian American mutaween (the Saudi religious police). And it's going to be ferocious."
Not just fantasizing repression, but fantasizing the ensuing backlash to the repression -- that's some world-class crazy! Considering this is their default level of paranoia, it's no wonder they get freaked out when someone's right to decide what medical treatment their employees receive -- excuse us, Jesus' right to decide it -- is challenged.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.