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Washington (CNN) – House Republicans have added a measure aimed at limiting contraceptive coverage to the spending bill coming up for a vote Saturday night, a spokesman for Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told CNN.
A senior House leadership aide confirmed that development.
The so-called “conscience clause” would allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women which they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. That prominently includes birth control, which most insurers are required to provide for free under current Obamacare rules.
With this move, House Republican leaders would give any employer or group health plan the ability to opt out of contraception coverage for the next year. That time frame syncs up with the larger measure in which this is included: a one-year delay of Obamacare provisions not yet in effect.
“This is a big deal for the congressman,” Huelskamp’s spokesman, Paul Nelson, told CNN. “He has been pushing for (the conscience clause) since he entered Congress.”
Democrats say the measure is unnecessary because the administration has granted exemptions to contraceptive coverage to religious nonprofit institutions. But advocates, such as Huelskamp, insist that all institutions should be able to opt out of any preventative coverage for women that they find objectionable.
The addition of the “conscience clause” ties a heated social issue to the already sharp shutdown debate.
Glancing through this stuff, I am struck as always by how precisely I can “place” a fellow Englishman. Dawkins is straight out of the upper-middle-middle-class suburban south of England. (Yes, yes, I know he was born in Nairobi and raised on a farm. Makes no difference.) His second-drawer boys’ boarding school education, his enthusiasm for the Oxford tutorial system and sentimental fondness for the Anglican Church (really), his insouciance towards the milder forms of pederasty, his ornery impatience with metaphysical flapdoodle, . . . I know this guy, in some way that I don’t know anyone that isn’t English (although I think I might get a good part of the way there with an Irishman, Welshman, or Scot), and in a way that nobody not English can know him.
I certainly can’t “place” Americans that well, although now well into my fourth decade of residence in this country. Yet this is a “cousin” nation, with a lot of cultural overlap.
The usual questions:
- Is this a peculiarly English thing? Or
- Is it an old-island-nation thing? Can Japanese and Icelanders “place” each other like this? Or
- Is it universal among old, long-coherent nations? Can Finns, Spaniards, and Thais do it?
- If mutual recognition at this level is a common thing in nation-states, what chance does anyone have of really understanding another country? Or
- Am I just exceptionally blind and deaf to unfamiliar cultural signals? Did my mental equipment for “placing” people just get stuck around age 20, while other people’s matured?
Over at the Washington Post, Michael Peppard writes:
Like 159,000 other people, I follow Pope Francis (@Pontifex) on Twitter—in Latin. I enjoy the chance to refine my declensions and conjugations while pausing in reflection on the beautiful words of Franciscus.
But Monday’s first tweet offered no succor. “Numquam plus bellum! Numquam plus bellum!” shouted my Twitter feed, like a shrill alarm on a groggy holiday morning.
…The “just war” tradition of the Catholic Church focuses on principles such as just cause, proportionality, last resort, and serious prospect of success, among others. In recent years, some have developed the principle of “responsibility to protect” as a corollary to the received tradition. Some usually progressive American Catholic voices, such as Michael Sean Winters, have argued that military intervention in Syria does qualify as just.
But from Pope Francis’s statements and previous writings, he leans away from the “just war” discourse and toward the just peacemaking school of thought—or outright pacifism. Conflict has been present from the time of Cain and Abel, he said in On Heaven and Earth, but “I believe that war must never be the path to resolution.”
Andrew Sullivan adds:
[J]ust war theory did nothing to prevent the disaster in Iraq. Christians may need, given the terrifying spread of religious terrorism and unimaginably advanced and increasingly accessible means for widespread destruction, to recalibrate toward a more pacifist position.
I’m not quite sure that I see the logic of that. The mess in Iraq was the product of many things, but a failure in the theory of just war was not one of them.
Sullivan is, of course, right to worry about the danger posed by the conjunction of spreading religious terrorism and increasing access to weapons of terrible power. And force is very far from being the only response to the challenge that this poses. Indeed, there are circumstances when it might be the worst response.
But to move from that idea to consider (Sullivan is careful to use the qualifier “may”) recalibrating “toward a more pacifist position” is to take a more than a few steps too far.
We are a species with an immense capacity for violence, and that will never change. And we are not always the most benign of creatures. And that will never change.
That means that it’s good for us to hear a loud voice calling for peace, but it also means that sometimes we will need to ignore it.
Obviously. In any case, if you want to read some sordid goings on in the ‘skeptic/rationalist movement’, check it out. You should be able to use Google from then on….
Cross-posted on the Corner:
So what have those scamps from Turkey’s “mildly Islamist” AK (the Economist) been talking about lately?
Here (reported in Hurriyet) is President Abdullah Gül, an individual generally seen as more emollient than thuggish Prime Minister Erdogan:
Islam and migrants have been a reality in Europe for centuries. As long as the continent of Europe doesn’t approach segments which are different from the majority with tolerance, particularly in regards to religion, an occurrence of new inquisitions and Holocausts, as well as incidents evoking Srebrenica, are probable.
Perfection it’s not, but Europe has, of course, handled its growing Muslim minority with a great deal of tolerance. Talk of new Holocausts is ludicrous. What Gül wants is deference, something else altogether.
And then there’s this (via Bloomberg):
The head of Turkey’s Capital Markets Board confirmed June 26 that his staff had begun an investigation into stock-market volatility during the protests. According to traders in Istanbul, the demands to hand over all e-mail traffic with foreigners, among other records, are unprecedented.
The board’s assurances that such investigations are routine might be easier to accept if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hadn’t promised to “choke” those he believes to have engineered the protests in order to cause a stock-market collapse. He has accused some companies of abetting “terrorism” and claimed that an ill-defined “interest-rate lobby,” committed to raising Turkish borrowing costs for profit, is part of the conspiracy.
Ah, “the interest-rate lobby”…
In recent days, Erdogan has threatened retribution against some of the country’s biggest banks and industrial conglomerates, leading to a steep fall in their share prices. He repeatedly said that Koc Holding AS, an industrial empire owned by a secularist family against which Erdogan bears deep grudges, “cooperated with terror” and “will have to account for it.” The alleged crime was opening the doors of one of the company’s hotels to protesters as they fled police.
Ugly though all this is, the fact remains that, despite a dip from previous highs, Erdogan is enjoying approval ratings of over 50 percent and his AK party is still the country’s most popular. That’s a matter for Turks to decide for themselves, of course, but, if, as Barack Obama, David Cameron and others would like, Turkey is admitted to the EU, the same electorate that so appreciates Erdogan will, thanks to its numbers, have a not insignificant influence on decisions that affect all EU citizens.
That does not strike me as a good idea.
Looking up something about postwar British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, I came across the following gem.
Attlee, in old age, is being interviewed by a biographer, Kenneth Harris.
Harris: Would you say you are an agnostic?
Attlee: I don’t know.
One of the more maddening aspects of modern discourse is the attempt to interject the concept of racism into internecine ideological conflicts where it really isn’t appropriate. For example, some anti-Zionists label Zionism racism, and the state of Israel a racist state. And yet conversely, some supporters of the Zionist project label those who reject or criticize aspects (or the totality) of the state of Israel anti-Semites, a subset of racism. Though some of these accusations are justifiable (e.g., many ‘National Religious’ elements of Israeli society exhibit views analogous to racial nationalism, while much of the anti-Israel sentiment in the Arab world is crassly anti-Semitic), in many cases the accusation is misleading, and dodges the substantive issues at the heart of the debate (Arabs are second class citizens in Israel, but non-Muslims are much more marginalized in neighboring states, making accusations of prejudice seem rich to me). For example I put myself in the category of someone who is skeptical of the long term project of a Jewish democratic state in the Middle East. Yet I also do not think the ‘Israel issue’ is particularly important in the grand scheme of world affairs, and believe that the fixation on the oppression of Palestinian Arabs specifically is driven by ethnocentrism (Arab Muslims privileging their own concerns, Muslims identifying with co-religionists) and the character of the oppressors (elite Israeli society is still Western oriented, and therefore Western critics judge it by the standards of Western society, not Middle Eastern society).
These issues are even more prominent today when it comes to the Muslim question. The reality is that the Islamic world is hell for non-Muslims, and fear of Islamic populations is justified on empirical grounds. Not only is the Arab Spring moving in an illiberal religious-populist direction, but atheists are being killed in Bangladesh, and anti-Christan pogroms are regular occurrences in Pakistan. Recently there has been a internet debate between Glenn Greenwald and Sam Harris on the question of “Islamophobia.”
Below the fold is a guest post on the issue from Jackson Doughart which I think is well worth ruminating upon.
Oh, what outrage some of our grievance-collecting friends managed to work up over the story of the Florida Atlantic professor who had asked students to write the name “Jesus” on a slip of paper and step on it. John Hawkins at Right Wing News declared that Prof. Deandra Poole had gotten his “just deserts” in being suspended by the university following days of talk show execration. Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit flatly described Prof. Poole as “far left,” on what evidence is not clear from his post. Fox News Insider informed readers that Poole was “also the vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party” — feeding their presumed expectation that a Democratic party official, even an African-American one in a southern city, will turn out when examined closely to be a devotee of Black-Mass-like sacrilege. The Catholic League’s insufferable Bill Donohue suggested that Poole would never have offered students a chance to write the name “Obama” on a slip of paper and step on it.
If you suspected the actual story would prove more complicated than the first reports made it out to be, you’re right. On Monday Poole told his story in an interview with Inside Higher Ed (also summarized at the Moral Compass blog). Sample:
Much of the critical commentary about Poole has suggested that he is anti-Christian. In fact, he said, he has been connected to churches all of his life, has served as a Sunday school teacher, and understands the power of the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper because he cares deeply about Jesus.
“I am very religious,” he said. “I see how the name Jesus is symbolic. For people like myself, Jesus is my lord and savior. It’s how I identify myself as a Christian.”
A few of the sites that had run coverage implicitly or explicitly blasting Poole as a crazy liberal atheist have noted these new details, and sometimes even walked the story back a bit. Others, however, haven’t bothered. Why should they, when they can instead move on to the next outrage to whip their readers up about?
Rod Dreher has some interests thoughts and link roundups to the idea of Natural Law, by way of explaining how non-religious people need Natural Law to construct a rational foundation for ethics. I think Hume is right on this:
Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.
For some reason, the asteroid’s near(ish) miss brought this to mind…