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Detroit Police Chief: Gun Ownership Deters Crime



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Detroit’s police chief on Thursday did something rare for a prominent cop: He spoke out in favor of gun ownership. 

At a press conference announcing a drop in the city’s crime rate — Detroit saw 333 murders in 2013, down from 386 in 2012 — James Craig spoke about his experiences in the Los Angeles Police Department and as chief of the police department in Portland, Maine. “Coming from California, where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs [concealed carry weapon permits], and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying,” Craig said. “That was my orientation. I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.” 

“When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits,” he said of situation in Detroit, “the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this Police Department.” Detroit has seen a 7 percent drop in violent crime in 2013. 

The Detroit News, which covered Craig’s press conference, spoke to a local firearms instructor, who noted the rarity of comments like Craig’s. Though rank-and-file cops are largely supportive of gun ownership, it is rare to hear the sentiment come from the mouth of a police chief. 

“It’s a huge, radical departure for the police chief to say good people should have access to firearms,” said the instructor. “I’m not ready to say he’s pro-gun just yet, but it’s vastly different from what police chiefs have said in the past.”

Comstock to Run for Wolf’s Seat in Va.



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Barbara Comstock will announce a congressional bid early next week, a source close to her campaign tells National Review Online. She’ll enter the race for retiring Republican representative Frank Wolf’s seat in Northern Virginia. It’s expected to be hotly contested, as Democrats see it as one of their rare good chances to pick up a House seat in 2014. And since it’s in the D.C. media market, the contest will be very pricey.

Comstock, who was just reelected to a third term in the Virginia House of Delegates, was the only Republican in the body to win a race inside the Beltway last November. Her district stretches from McLean, at the border of Washington, D.C., to Loudoun County.

Comstock was a formidable fundraiser in 2013, raising more than $1.3 million for her race — more than twice what her Democratic challenger pulled. She has a lengthy ré​sumé in national politics: She’s worked for Wolf, the Justice Department, George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign, and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Republican state senator Dick Black may also run for the seat, and has formed an exploratory committee. He tells NRO that he will probably decide within ten days, and that he’s leaning toward entering.

“I think things are looking very encouraging at this point,” he says.

Artur Davis, a former Alabama congressman who now lives in Virginia, has said he won’t run for the seat. State senator Jill Holtzman Vogel also tells National Review Online she won’t run.

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A Central Deception in the Obama Administration’s Case Against the Little Sisters of the Poor



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A key theme of the Obama administration’s 37-page response to the Little Sisters of the Poor’s request for an injunction against the HHS abortion-pill Mandate, boils down to this: It’s just a form. The case isn’t about liberty; it’s about paperwork.

Here’s their argument in a nutshell: The law merely requires the Little Sisters of the Poor to certify their religious objection to the third-party administrator of their self-insurance plan. Ordinarily, this certification would then require the third-party administrator to provide “free” abortifacients to the Little Sisters’ employees, but since the third-party administrator is exempt from this requirement (because they’re administering a “church plan”) and says it won’t provide the abortion pills, then this case is about nothing at all — nothing but a requirement that the Little Sisters fill out a piece of paper to get their government benefit.

Here’s the government’s brief:

Applicants cannot establish that it is indisputably clear that such a RFRA claim would succeed. Indeed, that reading of RFRA, if accepted, would seemingly invalidate any scheme in which an individual or entity with religious objections is required to complete a certification of entitlement to an opt-out in order to secure the opt-out. That cannot be correct.

But here’s the problem: The certification is not an “opt out,” it’s a document that actually empowers a third party to provide free abortion pills. In that way, it’s more like a voucher than an opt-out. Imagine if the government said to a religious employer, “We’re not going to require you to pay for abortions, but we will require you to provide employees with a document that entitles them to a free abortion at the Planned Parenthood clinic down the street.” Would anyone think for a moment that respected religious liberty? Yet that’s the essence of the government “accommodation” here.

The Little Sisters object to providing an abortion/contraception voucher — a voucher that could be redeemed for free abortifacients at the discretion of a third-party administrator.

So, no, this is not an argument about a form. After all, religious entities (including the Little Sisters of the Poor) fill out forms without objection all the time. It’s about power — whether the Obama administration can force a Catholic charity to empower a third-party to provide free medical services that indisputably and gravely violate the deeply-held religious principles of nuns who are doing good works for the “least of these.”

Web Briefing: July 22, 2014

High Spirits (Low Subjects?)



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Mona Charen and I are in pretty high spirits in our new podcast. She pulls me out of my Grinchiness, just slightly. For Mona, everything’s coming up roses. I concede that there are shoots, here and there — or an absence of thistles. We talk about MSNBC, Romney, and race. We talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton. We talk about Harry Reid and the erosion of democracy. We talk about New York City’s red dawn, in the form of the new mayor. We talk about a dreadful performance of Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera. And yet we’re still in high spirits. Go figure. And, again, go here, if you like.

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John Kerry Brings the Gospel of Global Warming to the World



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In the 19th century, European colonists set out across the world with Bibles tucked under one arm and blueprints of European parliamentary government under the other to teach the great unwashed the fundamentals of civilization.

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry is continuing that tradition — by preaching the Gospel of Global Warming to the rest of the world. 

“Shortly after Mr. Kerry was sworn in last February, he issued a directive that all meetings between senior American diplomats and top foreign officials include a discussion of climate change,” reported the New York Times this week.  “He put top climate policy specialists on his State Department personal staff. And he is pursuing smaller climate deals in forums like the Group of 20, the countries that make up the world’s largest economies.” 

What prompted the Times report was a sermon that Kerry delivered to the Vietnamese last week on the Mekong Delta. “Decades ago, on these very waters, I was one of many who witnessed the difficult period in our shared history,” he said in a gingerly reference to his Swift boat service during the Vietnam War. “This is one of the two or three most potentially impacted areas in the world with respect to the effects of climate change.” 

The Times gave ample space to Jake Schmidt, international climate-policy director for the Natural Resources Council, who enthused about the ways the rest of the world is responding to Kerry’s initiatives. “There’s a lot of scar tissue from the U.S. saying it will do stuff [about reducing carbon emissions],” said Schmidt. “They’re still waiting to see what we’re going to do, but the skepticism is much thinner than it was a few months back.”

Keep reading this post . . .

11 AGs Blast Obama Administration for ‘Flatly Illegal’ Obamacare Changes



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Eleven Republican attorney generals sent a harsh letter to Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying the Obama administration “must stop” sidestepping Congress to make changes to the health-care law.

“We support allowing citizens to keep their health insurance coverage, but the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action,” West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey wrote in the letter, according to the Hill. Along with Morrisey, attorney generals from Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia called the numerous changes “flatly illegal.”

In the past year, the Obama administration has unilaterally made changes to the health-care law, such as delaying the employer mandate, allowing for a hardship exemption for those who can’t afford a plan on Obamacare exchanges, allowing insurance companies to renew plans that had previously been canceled, and pushing back other deadlines.

Re: The Obama Administration vs. the Little Sisters



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The executive branch’s unprecedented, obstinate, and repeated refusal to obey religious-freedom protections in the Constitution and federal law should alarm every American. First the Obama administration declared that families don’t have religious freedom if they operate private businesses. Now it insists that nuns must designate someone else to go get abortion pills and contraception under a phony compromise that forces the nuns to pretend that they aren’t violating their faith while they are violating their faith. The administration falsely told the Supreme Court that the Sisters’ “certification” merely expresses religious beliefs. In fact, the certification explicitly tells the insurer they have a duty to go get abortion pills and contraception under the Sisters’ plan.

— Matthew S. Bowman is senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.

Lowry: Obama, de Blasio ‘Can Only Do Damage Trying’ to Address Economic Inequality



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Make sure to check out Rich’s latest piece on this subject, “The Great Equalizers.”

Director of Oregon’s Obamacare Exchange Resigns



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For the second time in as many weeks, an official associated with Cover Oregon, the state’s troubled health-care exchange, has resigned. Executive director Rodney King submitted his resignation earlier this week after a month of medical leave

In his letter, King explained that stepping down was “not an easy decision,” but cited the uncertainty of his health as his main reason. His resignation will go into effect in March when his medical leave ends.

Despite the set October 1 launch date, Cover Oregon does not yet have a functioning online exchange and has been exclusively operating with paper applications for enrollees. Cover Oregon and state officials have come under fire for the program’s woes, prompting the Oregon Health Authority’s chief information officer, who was tasked with building the online exchange, to step down in December.

Trending Toward Life: Roe v. Wade at 41



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Two primary facts emerge from a new analysis of state legislation regarding abortion over the past three years. First, elections matter. Second, 41 years on from Roe v. Wade, a majority of states, where a majority of U.S. women live, support new limits and protections for mothers and unborn children, rather than the permissive legal regime declared by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.

The new analysis, released by the Guttmacher Institute on January 2, accurately conveys the scope of the legislative tsunami over the past three years, with some of the favorite locutions of the abortion lobby tossed into the mix (e.g., the analysis sarcastically labels health standards for abortion clinics as “TRAP” bills, an acronym for “targeted regulation of abortion providers”). Every other legislative step is described in terms of “access,” at first glance a neutral term that in actuality treats abortion at all stages of pregnancy as a matter of opportunity rather than a grim act of personal or social desperation.

The wave of pro-life bills enacted from 2011 to 2013 reflects the 2010 elections and the reaction they represented to the Obama administration’s overreach on health care. In 2000, Guttmacher estimates 31 percent of U.S. women lived in one of the 13 states considered “hostile” to abortion. By 2013, nearly double that percentage, 56 percent, lived in one of the 27 states now labeled hostile to abortion. Twenty-four (if one includes conservative Nebraska, which has a nonpartisan legislature) of these 27 states have Republican legislative majorities and all but four have Republican governors.  This “troubling trend,” as Guttmacher terms it, is a fruit, for better or worse, the polarization that’s occurred on this issue alongside the decline of pro-life leadership in the Democratic Party, after the death of Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey in 2000.

The state-legislative surge for life has strong prospects for at least the remainder of this decade. First, it represents the results of redistricting decisions that will be with us until 2020. Second, it follows an independent surge in pro-life opinion: Gallup polling on the abortion issue has shown a majority of Americans labeling themselves “pro-life” six of the last nine times this question was asked in national surveys, including in May 2013. Finally, the specific pro-life measures being adopted in the states are, in the vast majority of instances, supported by strong, even super-majority, percentages of Americans. Recent Gallup and Quinnipiac surveys show that the polling winds are favorable for making abortion illegal during the second trimester (64 percent support), banning abortion during the third trimester (80 percent support), having a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion (69 percent support), requiring parental consent (71 percent support), banning partial-birth abortions (64 percent support), and providing for informed consent about physical and mental health risks of abortion (87 percent support). Banning sex-selective abortion has 77 percent support nationally.

For champions of ever-greater “access” to abortion, the new frontiers involve allowing non-physicians to perform abortions, making medical abortions available by remote prescription outside Food and Drug Administration guidelines, and, in a few states like New York, formalizing legal abortions up to birth. None of these is a mainstream proposal. Right-to-life advocates should be encouraged by the realities that so dishearten the Guttmacher Institute. Four decades after the revolution that gave the nation abortion on demand, Americans clearly want something better for women and children. The federal courts can slow down this momentum, but the nation will benefit if judges let the people rule and continue to seek a path that eschews the the most barbaric abortion practices.

— Chuck Donovan is the president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Re: Execution by Starving Dogs?



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Kathryn, the North Korean report about Jang Song Thaek being eaten alive by over a hundred starving dogs plumbs new depths even for a regime capable of unlimited barbarism. As a form of political terrorism, though, it is brilliant, if it is true that Kim Jong Un made over 300 officials watch Jang and his small cadre be devoured by hunting hounds. There are purges and there is the icy cold terror of calculated madness. It’s unbelievable even to say this, but Stalin and his NKVD henchmen were “civilized” in comparison to this: show trials and bullets in the back of the head.

The only question is whether the message will backfire on Kim. The open knowledge of such barbarity might push some to risk trying to get rid of him before they get devoured themselves. As I wrote yesterday about today’s “I, Claudius” dictators, the usefulness of being underestimated only lasts until they show their true colors. Then, they have either dominated their opposition or make themselves a target. Whatever the case, it is hard to see how the rest of the world deals from now on with Kim as anything other than a monster. Any hope of gradual reform in North Korea, or a bloodless change of regime, is now a mere fantasy.

Burke, Paine, Jonah, and Me



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Jonah and I recently taped an episode of C-SPAN’s “After Words” about my new book, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. It airs this weekend—Saturday at 10pm and again Sunday at 9pm. Details here

I was, as always, enormously impressed by just how much Jonah knows about all manner of arcane philosophy and conservative trivia. His excellent questions made for a great hour. And Hegel only came up twice.

Re: Drunk With Power



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I’m coming a day late to Andrew’s post about the new Illinois law imposing up to three years in jail for throwing cigarette butts on the ground. I don’t have much to add except this: For an allegedly compassionate blue state, Illinois has just passed an unbelievably punitive law aimed directly at the poor. Poor and working-class Americans are far more likely to smoke than the wealthy, urban liberals who constitute the Democratic policy-making elite. Are harsh criminal penalties for petty littering the best way to facilitate upward mobility or just another way to trap our fellow citizens — saddled with criminal records for no good reason — in a lifetime of dependency?

The Long and Winding Peace Process



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Berlin — Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Thursday in Jerusalem to push Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make “difficult decisions as part of an overall peace agreement. It is Kerry’s tenth visit to Israel since March. To his credit, he is dogged — and remains optimistic — about solving the nearly 70-year-old conflict.

But there’s reason to doubt anything will come of Kerry’s efforts. There are big question marks, for one, over whether Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas can deliver security guarantees to prevent terror attacks on Israel from the West Bank.

Abbas’s euphoric welcome of released Palestinian murderers as part of a negotiating confidence-building measures certainly suggests an uphill battle for Kerry. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked: “How can he say that he stands against terrorism when he embraces the perpetrators of terrorism and glorifies them as heroes?”

Moreover, Abbas has repeatedly threatened to go back to the anti-Israel U.N. General Assembly to bypass direct negotiations with Israel. This is not the conduct of a stable negotiating partner.

U.S. indifference to the ongoing Syrian civil war (over 130,000 dead) — and the growth of Shiite regional aims, via Hezbollah — has contributed to lowering the chances of Israel–Palestinian peace. The Sunni Arab League distrusts the Obama administration because of the Syria fiasco, so it’s probably unwilling to twist the arms of the Palestinians to make compromises.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with the anti-Western Islamic Republic of Iran sent shock waves through Israel because of the deal’s gaping loopholes. Key U.S. allies (Israel, Jordan, and the many of the Gulf monarchies) see the Iran nuclear pact as a pathway to a nuclear weapons device for the Iranian regime.

To reach a solid and enduring agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, a more sensible start for Kerry would be aggressively countering the Iranian-Hezbollah-Assad threat in the Middle East.

— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

 

Becket Fund Responds to Obama DOJ: Quit Bullying Nuns



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In response to the Department of Justice filing its official response to Justice Sotomayor’s temporary halt to the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization mandate as it pertains to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Becket Fund lawyer Mark Rienzi, who is representing the Sisters (and is no stranger to NRO readers), says in a statement:

“Unfortunately, the federal government has started the new year the same way that it ended the old one: trying to bully nuns into violating their religious beliefs.

“The government demands that the Little Sisters of the Poor sign a permission slip for abortion drugs and contraceptives, or pay of millions in fines. The Sisters believe that doing that violates their faith, and that they shouldn’t be forced to divert funds from the elderly poor they serve to the IRS.

“The government now asks the Supreme Court to believe that the very thing it is forcing the nuns to do—signing the permission slip—is a meaningless act.  But why on earth would the government be fighting the Little Sisters all the way to the Supreme Court if it did not think its own form had any effect?  The government’s brief offers no explanation for its surprising insistence on making the Little Sisters sign a form the government now says is meaningless.

“And now the government is asking the Supreme Court to look the other way while it coerces the Little Sisters.  If the administration believed its contraceptive mandate was valid, it would join the Little Sisters’ request for Supreme Court review because the government has lost almost all of the cases in the lower courts.  Instead, its brief today is devoted to trying to keep the Court out of the issue, which would leave hundreds of religious organizations subject to massive fines for following their religion.

“All of this is sad and unnecessary.  Our federal government is massive and powerful.  It can obviously find ways to distribute contraceptives and abortion pills without forcing nuns to be involved.”

More on the case here and here and here and here.

One thing that has sure been so glaringly consistent since this HHS mandate controversy began — even beyond the important religious-freedom issue — is how completely unnecessary it is. 

The Obama Administration vs. the Little Sisters



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The government’s response has been filed as requested, in opposition to the Little Sisters of the Poor request for relief from the Obamacare Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization mandate. 

What does the administration have against the Little Sisters of the Poor? Why shouldn’t they get relief from a mandate that violates their conscience? This is ideological. This is the institutionalization and codification of sexual revolutionary values (Think Sister Mary Cosmo.). As Ed Mechmann writes

Here are just a few of the exemptions that were incorporated in [the Affordable Care Act] itself:  people who can’t afford coverage, even with a subsidy; people with income levels too low to require filing a federal tax return; members of certain Indian tribes; people who can claim a hardship; people who will have a short gap in their coverage;  members of certain religious groups that conscientiously oppose insurance benefit programs (e.g., the Amish); members of a “health care sharing ministry”; people in prison; and people who are not lawfully in the United States.

In the last few months, with all the mess associated with the new health exchange websites, and all the other chaos associated with the law, the Administration has granted new exemptions:  people whose plans were cancelled can get a plan that is not compliant with the ACA; people who weren’t able to comply because of difficulties in signing up for a new plan won’t be penalized; and large businesses with over 50 employees will not be fined for failing to provide any health insurance.

Now, many of these exemptions make perfect sense, and reflect a healthy degree of flexibility in the implementation of a very complex law.

So, what does this have to do with ideology?  Well, despite all those other exemptions, waivers and extensions, one group has not been able to obtain an exemption, despite repeatedly asking for it, petitioning for it, and finally suing for it — religious organizations that have a moral objection to facilitating contraception, sterilization, and abortion, as would be required under the so-called HHS Mandate.

For these groups, there is no flexibility at all.  There is instead an adamant insistence that they will have to cooperate, regardless of their deeply-held religious beliefs.  The Amish get out of the law entirely, but when it comes to Catholic dioceses, schools and charities agencies, the government offers nothing except artificial and unsatisfactory “accommodations”.

Consider the absurdity of the government’s position.  As pointed out by Archbishop Kurtz, the president of the U.S. Bishops, under the Administration’s current policies, large businesses will be able to completely eliminate any health insurance for their employees, with no fine at all, but religious organizations that refuse to cooperate with moral evil will be subject to crippling fines of $100 per day per employee.  The government won’t even grant temporary respite while legal challenges are working their way through the courts.  They can’t even bring themselves to give a break to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who spend their entire lives caring for needy elderly people.

Why is this?  It’s not that hard to understand.  The current Administration is entirely beholden to an ideology of sexual liberationism that considers contraception, sterilization and abortion to be “sacred ground”.  They consider this ideology to be so central to life that they will brook no opposition, and will do whatever it takes to bring to heel anyone who opposes them.

That is an ideological obsession.  It is dangerous to the souls of those who suffer from it, and it is dangerous to any society in which they wield power.

 

 

Oh Those Tyrannical Nuns!



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The New York Times position is that the Little Sisters of the Poor are imposing their religious beliefs on Americans by wanting to operate their elderly-care homes in conjunction with their conscience. In America, though, we’ve long valued religious liberty. Is it really the American way today to say to religious sisters – the women who built health-care in America – that Catholic teaching is not just not fit for polite society but their own service work?

(And Matt Bowman preempted the Times certification argument here.)

Further, about the businessmen with their supposedly tyrannical, intolerant streak: The Green family that runs Hobby Lobby and religious bookstores — as with the Mennonite family that runs Conestoga Woods  seek to live integrated Christians lives, where their public witness is authentic to their private professions. That’s not some strange tick they are trying to introduce, that’s how the Gospel calls Christians to live! And there are other arts and crafts stores one can work at or shop at if closing early to get home in time for a family dinner and having Sundays off (how Hobby Lobby rolls) offends you.

2014’s First Miracle



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The Obama administration is supposed to respond this morning to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s temporary halt to the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, female sterilization mandate. Apparently upon seeing the name of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged on a court document involving a mandate that has supposedly been about women’s health and freedom, Sotomayor had the most reasonable reaction. 

It seems a bit of a miracle that people are now paying some attention to an ecumenical problem that has at various times over the last two years been dismissed, ignored, and lied about. It involves some of our most fundamental liberties, but is bound up in the White House’s persistent stubborn insistence that it knows best, conscience be damned. Truth, too. (By which I mean most basic facts and more shattering ones about what it means when we declare ending a pregnancy “preventative care” and treat women’s fertility as a disease.)

Of course one of the most misleading lines about this regulation is that it is simply about women’s access to contraception. Bishops and university presidents and businessmen haven’t been talking about religious freedom as an academic exercise. The Obama administration’s narrowing of religious liberty here has implications for the lives of people in need. Inner-city school children, the poor, and the elderly.

In September, the Little Sisters of the Poor went to court over the mandate because, as they put it in a statement:

the federal government has passed a regulation, known as the HHS Contraceptive Mandate, that would force us to disobey Catholic teachings by arranging our health benefit plans to provide no-cost access to abortion-inducing drugs or devices, sterilization, and all FDA-approved contraceptives.

We believe the government’s attempt to coerce us in this manner is wrong, and that it violates our religious liberty. So, like many other Catholic and religious institutions around the country, we felt the need to seek legal recourse. On September 24, 2013 the Becket Fund filed a lawsuit on our behalf asking federal courts to protect us from being forced to violate our beliefs. By filing this case we are simply asking for the right to continue with our ministry as we’ve always conducted it: caring for the elderly poor, and providing health benefits to our employees, but without coverage for abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

With God’s help, we are praying for a positive outcome in this case.

A few days later, I interviewed Sister Constance Veit, one of the sisters, for National Review Online. “For us, this has nothing to do with politics,” she told me. “It is a question of respect for every human life created in God’s image, and of fidelity to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and our religious vows.”

She continued:

Our lives are usually quite hidden and we never seek to be in the public eye. In April we filed comments with the government explaining how the HHS mandate would require us to violate our religious beliefs, and we hoped that the issue would be resolved in the final rule that came out in June. Unfortunately, the government would not give us a religious exemption, leaving us with no choice but to ask the courts for help so we can avoid IRS fines. We just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates our work.

As Sr. Constance reminds us, it is not breaking news that the Obama administration has forced this conscience clash that violates the religious liberties of Americans who oppose abortion and believe the use of artificial contraception to be something they can’t be a part of, among other things. This policy has been in the works since abortion activists drafted it on an Institute of Medicine panel in 2011.

Keep reading this post . . .

Friday links



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Nineteen GIFs of animals knocking down kids.

Florida man accused in banana assault, with bonus Monty Python self-defense-against-fruit skit. Speaking of fruit, today is National Fruitcake-Toss Day.

Artist creates “normal Barbie using the CDC’s measurements for the average 19-year-old.

stress analysis of a strapless evening gown.

Movie body counts: The 25 deadliest actors of all time.  Vaguely related, here’s the greatest kung-fu battle of all time.

Twenty kids who completely suck at playing Hide and Seek.

ICYMI, Tuesday’s links are here, and Isaac Asimov’s 1964 predictions about life in 2014 is here.

When Even the New York Times . . .



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Bill de Blasio’s inauguration as New York mayor is already in the history books as perhaps the rudest transfer of power for a major U.S. political office anyone can remember. A parade of speakers trashed outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg and delivered doses of divisive racial rhetoric.

It was all too much for even the New York Times’ editorial board, which has swooned over all things de Blasio for months. In the Timeseditorial today it praised de Blasio for articulating an “ambitious, admirable agenda” at his inauguration. But it then laced into the speakers he allowed to share the podium with him for a series of “backward-looking speeches both graceless and smug.” It singled out Letitia James, the new public advocate, who “made a prop of a 12-year-old girl named Dasani, who had to hold the Bible and Ms. James’ hand as . . . Ms. James turned her into Exhibit A of an Inauguration Day prosecution: the People v. Mayor Bloomberg.”

The Times also zinged other speakers for “pointless and tacky haranguing,” especially radical activist Harry Belafonte for making the “utterly bogus claim” that New York’s prison population was growing and its justice system was “deeply Dickensian.”

The Times couldn’t conclude without expressing the hope that because “progressive values run deep in this city” that Mayor de Blasio will “give a voice to the voiceless (and) ease the suffering of the poor.” But it’s clearly worried that — from the evidence of his rabble-rousing inauguration — some of his more bizarre allies will get in the way of his ability to govern and make it more difficult to turn New York into a showcase for  a “New Progressivism.”

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