Under pressure from religious and conservative groups, the Obama administration has offered another compromise on the issue of birth control coverage within the Affordable Care Act. While exempting churches and some religiously affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and universities, from supplying the coverage, the new proposal calls for their employees to receive stand-alone private insurance policies providing birth control coverage at no cost. Insurance companies will foot the bill, but only the naive can possibly think the cost won't find its way back to the institution in the form of higher health premiums.
Numerous lawsuits filed against this and other portions of "Obamacare" will proceed and for good reason: the federal government seems intent on setting rules on matters of conscience and worse, defining what constitutes a church, or religious institution.
In a new Lean Forward promo spot for MSNBC, Politics Nation host the Rev. Al Sharpton invoked the language of the Pledge of Allegiance, sans the term "under God." In the spot, Sharpton rattled off a laundry list of pet issues that MSNBC obsessed over in 2012 as he dreamed of a "nation that is really living up to the creed of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." [MP3 audio here; Watch the video below the page break; Transcript follows page break]
A Google News search ths morning on "Harbaugh brothers Catholic" (not in quotes, sorted by date, with duplicates and originally omitted items), returned 24 items. A broader search at the Associated Press's national site on "Harbaugh Catholic" (not in quotes) came up empty. This is disappointing, given that both brothers are by all accounts very active in and devoted to the Catholic Church.
The stories found at Google News were predominantly from Catholic-oriented publications, with the most notable exception being one by Matthew Barrows at the Sacramento Bee, whose story comprised 15 of those 24 listed results. Excerpts from that Thursday piece, much of which was about the Harbaugh brothers as youths, are after the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
When it comes to discussing religious objections to President Obama’s contraception mandate, MSNBC decided this afternoon that prominent feminist and liberal darling Sandra Fluke is the best person to comment. Speaking with Tamron Hall on the February 1 NewsNation, Fluke appeared on MSNBC to hype, “the [Obama] administration's process of clarifying how women will have access to this important health care service."
Fluke, a Georgetown Law student who "testified" before a Democratic policy committee -- not a congressional panel contrary to popular belief -- became a recurring guest on MSNBC, and even spoke at the Democratic National Convention last year. According to Politico, under the new policy announced by the Obama Administration [See video after jump. MP3 audio here]:
No good (or at least spineless) deed goes unpunished. As the news broke that the Boy Scouts of America is considering allowing local charters to decide whether to admit homosexual scouts and leaders, the left just won’t let up. Networks like ABC and NBC have already called for more inclusivity this week and so has Washington Post guest writer Herb Silverman, a self-described “Jewish Atheist” and “founder and President Emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America”
If the Scouts do adopt that policy, Silverman suggested that the next “step forward” is to admit atheists as well. He wrote, “I look forward to a day when the Boy Scouts become as tolerant as the Girl Scouts, who have refused to discriminate against any girl for any reason because they regard lesbian and atheist girls as equals.”
The Washington Post's religion writers have been hard at work of late to boost the religious left's push for more stringent gun control legislation. On Thursday, for example, Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein treated readers of the paper's Metro section with a puffy front-page item celebrating the pulpit-pounding for gun control from the likes of the dean of the Episcopal Church's National Cathedral, Rev. Gary Hall, a self-described "left-wing Democrat." Hall has cravenly lumped gun control in with the message of the Christian gospel, using liberal applause lines like "I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby."
It's not very often that a federal judge begins a ruling by saying that "Sometimes even a person with excellent vision does not see the forest for the trees." That happened yesterday in a case involving former First District Democratic Congressman and sore loser Steve Driehaus, whose district mostly comprised the western two-thirds of Cincinnati's Hamilton County. Yet it's not news at Gannett's Cincinnati Enquirer -- or anywhere else, for that matter.
After his 2010 defeat at the hands of Republican Steve Chabot, Driehaus sued the Susan B. Anthony List in federal court for defamation and -- get this -- "loss of livelihood." Why? Because, during that campaign, SBAL told Driehaus's constituents -- correctly, it has since been proven -- that his vote for ObamaCare was a betrayal of his pro-life principles. Yesterday, despite his obvious conflict of interest as former president and director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati, Judge Timothy Black, a Barack Obama appointee, found a way to do what he should have done in the first place, and rejected Driehaus's nonsense.
An unbylined Agence France-Presse report Wednesday opens by telling readers that Japanese researchers "have succeeded in growing human kidney tissue from stem cells for the first time, in a potential first step towards helping millions who depend on dialysis." Another version of the report at another website identifies the reporter as Harumi Ozawa; an accompanying picture caption describes the achievement as a "potential breakthrough."
I perused Ozawa's dispatch to see what kind of stem cells were involved, and in the process came across a confirmation of what those of us who have been following these matters for several years have suspected for some time, namely that the supposed scientific justification for harvesting stem cells from human embryos -- supposedly because there is no other path towards combating many diseases and maladies -- no longer exists. The paragraph containing that confirmation, as well as an odd and likely nonscientific term Ozawa used in the previous paragraph, are in bold in the excerpt following the jump:
The producer of CNN's Belief Blog lauded President Obama as "exceptional" and a "religious pioneer" for supporting same-sex marriage and hosting his inaugural prayer service at National Cathedral.
"Well, I think it's part of what makes Obama exceptional. We think of him as a racial pioneer, the first African-American president, but I think he's also a religious pioneer," John Blake said of the choice of National Cathedral, which made headlines for announcing it will conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
During the monologue of Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, host Maher joked about wanting to see Texas Governor Rick Perry trying to defend himself from a killer using prayer, as he excoriated the Republican governor for suggesting that more religion could help reduce violent tendencies in people.
As he brought up the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and opposition to the left's proposed new gun laws, Maher went after the Texas governor:
As NewsBusters previously reported, Catholic League President Bill Donohue on Friday in response to some disgusting comments made by MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell said President Obama might want to swear on Karl Marx's Das Kapital during the upcoming inaugural festivities.
NPR contributing anchor Louise Schiavone took to her Twitter account Saturday asking the disgraceful question, "What is this group? Do they wear hoods?"
In yet another attempt to inject her liberal bias into a discussion on abortion, NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell insisted that pro-life Americans call themselves "anti-abortion" instead because the latter term is "more value neutral." Speaking on her MSNBC show Wednesday afternoon with Republican strategist Juleanna Glover, Ms. Mitchell decided that Glover’s self-identification as pro-life was inappropriate.
Mitchell, who consistently brings on abortion activists to rail against conservatives who are pro-life, told Ms. Glover that she is in fact anti-abortion, “To use the term that I think is more value neutral.” Ms. Glover who called herself deeply pro-life failed to challenge Ms. Mitchell on her categorization of the pro-life movement and instead when on a lengthy diatribe criticizing the Republican Party for many of its pro-life positions. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Forget the “Star Wars’ Last Supper” or even the “Simpsons’ Last Supper,” Bronwyn Lundberg has transformed the DaVinci classic into another type of spectacle: the “Lesbian Last Supper.” And her Sapphic sacrilege was celebrated in – where else? – the Huffington Post.
The West Hollywood artist illustrates a lesbian feast, where talk show host Ellen DeGeneres replaces Jesus and other stars, such as Portia de Rossi, Rosie O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow, and Wanda Sykes swap spots with the apostles.
On Monday, far-left director Michael Moore went on an anti-Catholic bender at an awards presentation, and also targeted "those who would deify Reagan and Pope John Paul II" as somehow to blame for "the deaths of thousands of people...because of their bigotry."
The New York Post's Page Six on Wednesday spotlighted how the Occupy Wall Street-supporting filmmaker served as a presenter at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Moore gave the Best First Film award to fledgling director Armond White, who made a documentary about the radical activist group ACT UP.
She had 12 paragraphs to play with, but in none of them did Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein find any space for a conservative Episcopalian or Anglican to voice objection to the decision by Episcopal authorities to permit same-sex wedding ceremonies in the historic Washington National Cathedral in Northwest Washington, D.C.
"In some ways, the announcement that is expected Wednesday morning is unsurprising for a denomination and a diocese that long ago took up the cause of marriage equality," Boorstein noted in the second paragraph of her January 9 story, but added that "the cathedral's stature and the image of same-sex couples exchanging vows in the soaring Gothic structure... is symbolically powerful."
Usually when President Obama’s opponents are handed a defeat, ABC, CBS and NBC are quick to crow about it. That’s why their silence on the Supreme Court’s Christmas ruling against retail chain Hobby Lobby is so curious.
Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, filed a suit against the Federal government earlier this year, arguing that ObamaCare’s so-called contraception mandate would “violate their faith by covering abortion-causing drugs or be exposed to severe penalties.” The Greens are evangelical Christians and wanted an injunction that would shield them from covering the abortifacients or paying monetary penalties while their case played out in the courts. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rebuffed the company’s injunction request, and on Dec. 26, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurred.
Most of the January 2 front page for The Washington Post was devoted to the resolution of the so-called fiscal cliff, but editors made sure to leave space for a gauzy 33-paragraph story entitled "History at the altar: Maryland sees wave of same-sex weddings as law takes effect."
By contrast, an uplifting story involving a non-controversial religious tradition in African-American churches was shuffled to the bottom of page A2, despite the tremendous historical significance of the 2012 New Year's Eve "watch night" celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
An unbylined Associated Press story at 1:34 p.m. (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) disgracefully covered a federal ruling which delivered a defeat (for now) against the enforcement of ObamaCare's contraception mandate.
Unlike the Hobby Lobby situation (covered earlier today at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), where the dispute is over certain portions of the contraception mandate requiring employers to cover abortifacient drugs and devices, the ruling in the case of Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza who is now has a property management business, involves the entire contraception mandate. Monaghan nevertheless was able to get a temporary restraining order (TRO). The full five-paragraph AP report is after the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
One of the establishment press's favorite tactics to diminish the perceived strength of a position taken by people or companies they are inclined not to favor is to take objectively true facts and statements and reduce them to things only those people or companies "say" or "believe."
Hobby Lobby's court battle against the ObamaCare mandates is a perfect case in point, with both the Politico and Associated Press providing recent related examples of this fundamentally dishonest tactic. In the December 26 item at the Politico, Jennifer Haberkorn and Kathryn Smith also falsely framed the situation as an argument over "contraception" (more on that in a bit; bolds are mine throughout this post). But first, let's look at how the pair employed the "they say" tactic:
In a Wednesday morning report, the Associated Press's Sarah El Deeb certainly did her best to continue the ongoing campaign to convince the West that there's really nothing about which we should be concerned in Egypt's newly approved Constitution. She characterized it as "a new chapter in Egypt's two-year transition from authoritarian rule" and quoted a group whose Facebook page doesn't exist (despite that page being the first item found in a Google Web search on the group's name) telling us that the country is in "a new phase of legal disputes over legislation and control of state institutions," and that "the battle won't be very clear to regular people." I'm taking that to mean: "Don't pay any attention to us while the Muslim Brotherhoood and Islamists consolidate their power."
The AP reporter also mentioned the opposition's fears that the constitution "enshrines a prominent role for Islamic law, or Shariah, in governing the country's affairs and reinforces Islamists' hold on power." It's more than an abstract fear, because Sharia(h) is mentioned several times in the document itself (bolds are mine):
Does anyone in the media ever attempt to read and understand the speeches of Pope Benedict? The New York Daily News account of his December 21 speech to the curia (the “Vatican bureaucracy”) is being mangled by the Daily Kos into “Pope gives special holiday hate speech against gays because it's Christmas.” The Mediaite headline (off London’s Daily Mail) is “Merry Christmas? Pope Benedict XVI Denounces Gay Marriage As A ‘Manipulation Of Nature’.”
Someone who reads the original would find the term “gay marriage” is missing, although there is a defense of traditional marriage. He denounced the idea that one's gender is not a fact, but a social construct. The pope was also taking on the notion that in the broader culture, men and women are afraid of making lifelong commitments:
While the Associated Press, New York Times, and the vast majority of the U.S. establishment press have avoided directly referring to Egypt's newly-approved constitution, spearheaded by ruler by decree Mohammed Morsi, as oriented toward imposing Muslim sharia law in that nation, the international press hasn't been so reluctant. Who do you believe, the rest of the world or your agenda-driven U.S-based news sources? Additionally, as will be seen, the constitution is so unabashedly socialist it would have been labeled communist if it had appeared any time prior to 1990.
Russia-based RT.com opened its coverage of fraud allegations Saturday as follows: "Egypt's new Sharia-based constitution has been approved in a second round of voting, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood party said." Its headline a week ago after the first round: "Egyptians vote on hotly contested sharia-based constitution." Meanwhile, the New York Times blew through over 1,000 words in "analyzing" the results, and did not mention sharia once.
Former This Week host Christiane Amanpour's reputation for biased reporting precedes her, despite her own denials. Despite this, ABC thought it fit to air a two-part special starting on Friday evening titled Back to the Beginning. The network's press release trumpeted, "Join...Christiane Amanpour on the ultimate road trip as she travels to the lands of the Bible....to investigate the roots of those stories that have created so much conflict, and at the same time so much of the healing she has seen across her career."
However, the last time the journalist put together a mini-series on religion, God's Warriors, for CNN in 2007, she gave Muslim "fundamentalists" in the U.S. sympathetic treatment, while showing "concern" for "right-wing" Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and discomfort towards the theology and practices of American evangelical Christians. Amanpour even equated one Christian youth group with the Taliban.
Yes, abortion rights activists have reached a new level of depravity. Apparently, as everyone indulges in the holiday spirit, the pro-choice camp decided to create abortion ornaments – or 'abornaments' – to be part of the commemoration of the birth of Christ. The fact that pro-choice Americans threw this in the face of those who practice religion, or hold pro-life beliefs, is offensive in the extreme. Steven Ertelt of LifeNews wrote on December 19:
The pro-life group Life Dynamics has been highlighting so-called “Abornaments” that pro-abortion activists are promoting. They are sharing the images of the sacrilegious ornaments on the popular image sharing web site Pinterest.
Most of the so-called Christmas ornaments pictured involve the manipulation and desecration of plastic fetal models depicting unborn children at various stage of development before birth.
“It’s that time of year again for ABORNAMENTS! Every year, the pro-choice community celebrates abortion at Christmas by selling Abornaments Anyone disgusted? We are,” the pro-life group says. “What were they thinking?”
“Americans trust their guns, not God,” and the gun lobby is sacrificing children to an ancient pagan god demanding child sacrifice. That’s the message of Washington Post ‘On Faith’ theological train-wreck Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite’s plea for gun control in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Thistlethwaite complained in a December 17 post: “It is becoming increasingly clear that Americans realize the unfettered flow of guns into our society is making us less free not more. These guns find their way far too easily into the hands of the mentally unstable and the school and mall-type massacres are increasingly the result. But these guns also circulate easily in cities like Chicago, and more carnage results. There are numerous deaths, including the deaths of children and young people, and they make horrifying statistics. Read this list of homicide victims, most of them from guns in Chicago, just from 2012. This must not be.”
Stephen Colbert lent his Comedy Central television platform on Thursday to one of the left's favorite religious figures, Sister Simone Campbell, to promote her ongoing battle against Rep. Paul Ryan's fiscal ideas. Campbell slammed congressional conservatives to the extreme point of hinting that they would have treated the Holy Family worse than the innkeepers in Bethlehem [audio clips available here; video below the jump]:
Today's starter topic: As many conservatives are aware, people who are non-religious are a growing voting bloc in America. Writing at National Review, Betsy Woodruff has an interesting piece exploring the question of how the right can appeal to this demographic without having to compromise too much. Her verdict? It is possible with the right approach. Tell us your thoughts in the comments about this subject or anything else you would like.
As voting on Egypt's constitution begins, an Associated Press story this morning by Aya Batrawy and Sarah El Deeb typifies how the U.S. press is only nibbling around the edges of its content. The headline reads "EGYPTIANS VOTE ON ISLAMIST-BACKED CONSTITUTION." In the story's content, the pair found an 23 year-old Egyptian engineer who told them, in their words, that "he felt the proposed constitution needed more, not less, Islamic content," and expressed a belief that "All laws have to be in line with Shariah."
Nice misdirection there. As Andrew McCarthy, "arguably the most important prosecutor in the War on Terror" and "among the most authoritative writers anywhere on the dangers of Jihad," explained at PJ Media on Wednesday morning, and as much of the non-U.S. press accurately comprehends, the proposed constitution is about institutionalizing sharia in Egypt, and the last-minute splitting of the vote, originally scheduled for only today but now taking place today and next Saturday, is about ensuring its victory at the polls (bolds are mine throughout this post):
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about hiring people to do Christmas chores like decorating the tree or buying gifts, the network's chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman suddenly broke into an anti-religious rant: "I don't like the religion part. I think religion is what mucks the whole thing up....I think that's what makes the holidays so stressful." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Snyderman's take-the-Christ-out-of-Christmas commentary was prompted by fellow panelist Star Jones explaining: "I focus on, honestly, the religion part of it. I really and truly do. So I can't out-source that part of it. I can send you to get my tree, but I can't help – you can't help me pray." When Snyderman launched into her attack on faith, Jones countered: "That's the only reason for me to have the holiday....We wouldn't have the holiday if it wasn't for the religion part."