International Cat Speculators Since 2006

I ran across this report earlier today.

I’ve seen some bad reporting over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article that seems to be deliberately designed to make people more ignorant.

Let’s look at a few points:

1. If you work at certain types of for-profit companies, they no longer have to cover the cost of any contraception that they say violates their religious beliefs

The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) requires most health insurance plans to cover birth control without cost-sharing. Without healthcare coverage, the pill can cost about $25 a month and an IUD (intrauterine device) can cost up to $900 (though it’s inserted once and lasts up to 12 years).

So my first observation is that they all but admit that this is about saving a measly $25 per month at worst. And there’s the elephant in the room that this is covering something that anywhere else would not be an insurance item.

They also tacitly admit that there was only 4 of the 20 methods covered. So really, it’s hard to see this being a very serious sort of issue. They also start out by talking about the Pill, giving the impression that that is one of the methods removed – but it’s not.

2. All three female Justices dissented, arguing that this ruling limits women’s rights

All of the women on the court are liberals. The liberals voted for less religious liberty, and only one of them is a man. Apparently (since this article is aimed at women) it’s important that you know that all the women on the court were rooting for you. Or something.

Then there’s this quote.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion and was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Stephen Breyer (the only male justice who dissented). “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage,” Ginsberg wrote

Here’s the thing about that. It’s complete nonsense.

It is not even remotely true. It is literally impossible for one simple reason: this decision has given employers of any sort precisely no, zero, zilch rights to determine what pharmaceuticals and employee might buy. That’s not a right employers have ever had, sought, or wanted, even in their wildest dreams.

Yet, that claim not only appears in a media report, but a supreme court decision.

3. The ruling may depress use of IUDs at some privately held corporations that deem it a form of emergency contraception

This is where we really get into the weird zone. I mean, who cared about the IUD use rate at privately held corporations? Seriously, that’s a really weird thing to say.

Now, it would be more useful to say, “this will reduce the use of this really effective method”. And they do try to say that… sort of.

But note this:

The IUD can also be used as emergency contraception if it is inserted five days after intercourse, hence the Hobby Lobby’s objection to it and not birth control pills.

That’s about as good an example of what the article does all the way through: skirts the core issue that this ruling is about abortifacients. Seriously, the word never appears yet that was the entire ethical objection that the court case was about.

4. Women’s rights groups are angry because they see the ruling as a loss of autonomy for women

Feminists don’t like this? Gee, who knew.

See what I mean about making people more ignorant?

Oh, and did you notice that having someone else pay for your birth control somehow = more autonomy. Feminism, gotta love it. (Seriously, you have to, it’s in the rules of modern liberalism.)

In fact, this point is so idiotic, it required detailed fisking.

Some women’s rights advocates have taken the argument even further than Ginsburg did. Up until this point the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been interpreted as a protection for individuals’ religious practices—not those of corporations. The Supreme Court just said that these protections also extend to for-profit companies,

Bzzzt. Wrong. It ruled that when you have a closely-held company, forcing a company to do something is forcing an individual (or a small group of individuals) to do something.

but didn’t protect a woman’s right to choose her method of birth control.

Bzzzt. Wrong. As pointed out above, this ruling says precisely nothing about that. It’s about who pays for it.

Thus, many critics argue, the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people, but women are not.

They may even honestly believe that. But I doubt it – I mean, they’re not that stupid, aren’t they?

Women’s rights groups say restricting insurance coverage for some types of contraception, or making coverage more difficult to obtain, undermines access to birth control in general and point to studies that have shown that offering greater access to contraception—rather than restricting it—leads to fewer unintended pregnancies and thus reduces the number of abortions by 75 percent annually.

That’s a true statement, they do say that. They also say that women are more autonomous when given $25/month worth of pills by their employer. Did I mention that? Yep… ok, just checking.

5. Under the ruling, some corporations could attempt to refuse coverage for other, non-contraceptive medications and procedures citing their religious beliefs

But even the people who wrote this admit almost immediately that it’s a bogus claim:

In the majority opinion written by Justice Alito, he specifies that the ruling applies only to the contraceptive mandate, and states that it should not be understood to include to other insurance mandates, like those for blood transfusions or vaccinations.

Fact is, if something else comes up, it’ll go through the courts again.

So there you have it. A report that never actually talks about the key issue, grossly insults women, tells incredibly silly lies, and then tells us about the most obvious thing ever written.

Modern journalism – gotta love it.

 (See also this post at Patterico)

This is from the “you’ve got to be kidding me” files. George Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC came up recently, and the same judge that appeared to be so biased against him during his criminal trial proved it by throwing out what is really a slam-dunk case.

In the audio played repeatedly by NBC on the air to a national audience, the dispatcher’s inquiry was spliced out, as was Zimmerman’s explanatory text of why it appeared that Martin’s behavior was notable:

Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good . . . He looks black.”

The doctored audio obviously suggests that Zimmerman purportedly believed Martin was “up to no good” solely on the basis of being black–prima facie racism.  Utterly fabricated, of course.

Despite this, Judge Nelson has dismissed Zimmerman’s libel suit against NBC on the basis that he had become a “limited public figure” in the controversy.  How so? Judge Nelson writes:

[Zimmerman]e voluntarily injected his views into the public controversy surrounding race relations and public safety in Sanford and pursued a course of conduct that ultimately led to the death of Martin and the specific controversy surrounding it.  Moreover, Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin rendered him a public figure in the ensuing controversy.

Yep, according to Judge Nelson, Zimmerman became a limited public figure unable to pursue a clear case of libel because, while doing nothing whatever unlawful himself, and conducting himself precisely as instructed by the police who managed the Neighborhood Watch Program in which he participated, became the victim of a vicious, life-threatening attack by Trayvon Martin.

More simply, if you are the utterly innocent victim of a violent criminal attack by someone of another race, and defend yourself, that makes you a limited public figure subject without recourse to deliberate libel by the news media.

Nice.

Of course, even as a limited public figure Zimmerman could still sue for libel if he could demonstrate malice. Judge Nelson deals with that by simply concluding that he cannot demonstrate malice:

Zimmerman cannot carry his burden of proving that the single, allegedly [?!?!--AFB] defamatory statement he challenges in the March 20 TODAY show broadcast was disseminated with actual malice.

She similarly dismisses other disseminations of essentially the same libelous content.

Go read the whole post. And yes, this is the exact same judge that ignored the law and threw out perfectly valid cellphone evidence, without actually telling anyone why (which would have made the judgement appeal-able).

Frankly I’m amazed that she, or the prosecution the Zimmerman case, are allowed in a courtroom at all.

I mean, seriously. If conservatives are so evil, show some real data and stop making it up.

Because if you don’t have real data, not only does that say something about the people you’re trying to smear, it also says something about you.

I’ve said many times, you should not trust a characterisation. Check the original source.

This is a classic example:

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who has an increasing reputation as a shill for the left wing, viciously attacked the Heritage Foundation in a column on Monday evening. The column, “Heritage’s ugly Benghazi panel” characterized the event as though it were a full-throated, Muslim-bashing hate-crime cleverly disguised as a public forum to discuss the Benghazi attack.

The video is in the post. Milbank’s characterisation is completely self-serving. 

For example, Brigitte Gabriel was talking about an attack on “our government” and then, by way of correcting herself, asked Ahmed if she was a US citizen. No big deal really.

But Millbank described that this way:

“Are you an American?” Gabriel demanded of Ahmed, after accusing her of taking “the limelight” and before informing her that her “political correctness” belongs “in the garbage.”

Not the inflammatory language – “demanded of”, while connecting it to a later statement about political correctness. 

This, my friends, is why people loathe journalists. They twist and turn and play gotcha games. Also, they make stuff up. A good editor in my past told me that he was always suspicious of reporters who rely on breaking up a quote multiple times and adding in their own words in between. It means they’re trying to force the speaker to say something. We can now call this the Milbank Rule. I mean, was everything quoted in his piece accurate? Absolutely. Were his words or description of what transpired accurate? Hell no.

The press has a lot to answer for these days. 

Anyway, go have a read, and watch the video.

There are people in the US who think that their country has too many guns. They’re probably right in thinking this.

Problem is, when those people get together to try and change that fact, they invariably make fools of themselves.

Take the latest example. An anti-gun group created a list of 74 supposed school shootings in the last 18 months. Problem is, only 15 are actually what most people would call “school shootings”.

Oops.

Actually, the 15 is CNN’s number. Charles C. Johnson from the Daily Caller reckons it’s more like 7.

In recent days, there’s been a lot of fuss over National supposedly doing something evil by “gifting” Epsom to ACT.

It’s all incredibly idiotic, given… well let’s have Idiot/Savant take up the story.

It doesn’t help that there’s the usual enormous helping of hypocrisy from Labour on this. Despite their claims to have been “principled and consistent” on the issue, they quietly gifted Coromandel to the Greens in 1999; their opposition is more recent, and based entirely on a desire to rob National of potential coalition partners. And in order to do that, they’re willing to make our Parliament less representative and rob their fellow citizens of a democratic voice. 

Someone on the left changing the law to put a spoke through their opponent’s vote, even at the expense of their supposed principles? Say it isn’t so!

Oh, and that’s before we have Cunliffe refusing to rule out the internet party as a partner.

But seriously, the entire problem (as Idiot goes on to say) is the 5% threshold. It’s entire purpose was to keep radicals out of parliament. Yet, the entire current debate has been kicked off because of one Hone Harawira, a man who’s so radical that he’s perfectly happy to commit crimes to keep the poor out of houses – while taking their votes of course. 

But the silliest thing is that parties do not own votes. Voters do – and they’ll vote for whoever they want to.

It’s ever so wrong when the rich people who send their kids to private schools don’t pay their full tax due.

But, if we don’t offer them free insulation, then National is evil!

 

Principles

Looking though my saved links, I noticed this.

AT SLATE, WILL SALETAN WRITES ON Brendan Eich and the New Moral Majority. “It used to be social conservatives who stood for the idea that companies could and should fire employees based on the ‘values’ and ‘community standards’ of their “employees, business partners and customers.” Now it’s liberals. Or, rather, it’s people on the left who, in their exhilaration at finally wielding corporate power, have forgotten what liberalism is.”

I think, rather, that their view of liberalism is like Erdogan’s view of democracy — it’s a bus that you take until you get to your stop, at which point you get off.

Ties in rather well with my previous post.

It also reminds me of the reason I dislike 24 year old politicians and speakers who have never been in opposition – neither really appreciate the value of integrity.

Ele of Homepaddock reminded me tonight of this story I saw today:

A 72-year old Southland woman has had her 30-year church membership revoked because she lives in a de facto relationship.

The Calvin Community Church, a presbyterian church in Gore, has revoked the membership of one of its long-term members because her relationship with a man she lives with was “at variance with what is expected of a member of Calvin Community Church”.

The woman said she was told “out of the blue” she had to either marry her long-term partner, leave him, or no longer be a church member.

She was still able to attend the church, but she has declined to do so because “they have discussed my private life around the table”.

“I was shocked. I was very upset at the way it was put to me, someone just phoned me out of the blue and I was told I had to either marry him or I can’t be a member of the church.”

“This is 2014, not the 1950s, times have changed.”

My thoughts:

1) Similar things to this have happened in churches I have been involved in – in fact one quite recently. The basic story – follow the rules if you want to keep your membership – is hardly anything exciting.

2) The most curious thing is the age of the woman. Usually such problems are had with much younger people. She has also been a church member for 30 years, yet it seems that she isn’t prepared to live her faith. Frankly, I find that bizarre. Why spend 30 years in a  (the) church if you don’t really believe it’s teachings? 

Actually, reading further it looks like she transferred to Gore in the last few years. In that case it sounds like she’s the “my parents did it” sort, who goes to church not because she believes it but because that’s just what you do.

3) If the process is as written in the article (“out of the blue”) it hasn’t been handled well at all. This sort of thing should go several steps, beginning with a sit down with the pastors and elders do discuss the sin that she has fallen into. What frequently happens is that the person under discipline rejects meetings and then you get the formal letter. But, given the letter is reported to state “You have said that your partner is not willing to marry you”, that suggests that this is not the first contact and that the “out of the blue” claim is untrue.

 

do know that church discipline is handled very badly in far too many churches. I heard of a case in a baptist church years ago which was extremely messy to my ears, yet I was also told it was regarded as the best handled in that church. Worse, it’s problem that feeds on itself – people who are not disciplined begin to act as though there are no standards to be upheld, and that appears to be the problem here.

4) I happen to know that this particular church has not been properly run in the past. My information is that decisions have not been taken by the session, but rather by a sub-group. It is possible that the new pastor is part of tidying this up, but possibly not.

5) This woman has been a church member for decades and is upset because “they have discussed my private life around the table”. Does she seriously think that the church takes no interest in it’s members? What does she think the leadership is there for? What does she think “spiritual shepherding” means?*

As I see it, she has several problems:

1) “This is 2014, not the 1950s, times have changed.” – She’s under the impression that the church should change to suit whatever sin is in vogue. Admittedly a common problem.

2) As a Christian, she said she would prefer to be married to align with her beliefs.”  - She sees avoiding sin as a preference, not a necessity.

3) “There is only one judge and that is God” – She rejects the authority of the leadership of the church. That alone is enough to have you removed from membership. Without looking it up, I’m quite certain that accepting the leadership and guidance of the elders is actually a big part of the oath of membership in our church. If you don’t accept the judgement of the leadership of a church, why on earth would you join it?

4) Why break up a happy relationship.” – Since when is sin something we avoid because it feels bad? If it felt bad, you wouldn’t be doing it in the first place, would you?

5) I’ve thought about it and prayed about it and I’m happy with my relationship.” – This comes back to the previous point, but also the one before that. She has prayed about her relationship, but not sought (or at least, taken) the guidance of her pastor. No one forced her to join the Calvin Community Church, or to put her under their disciple. Yet she has rejected their guidance when it has been given and is now complaining about it to the media no less.

(Personally, if I create a situation I prefer not to advertise it – but that’s just me.)

But the quote “I’ve prayed about it” sickens me. This isn’t some difficult ethical decision where either way may lead to the deaths of innocent people. This is personal pleasure vs. the clear teaching of scripture and the church. 

 

Overall, I’m actually reasonably impressed with the response of the church.

When rung by the Southland Times, pastor Keith Hooker, who has been at the church for 10 months, said he had written the letter on behalf of church elders.

In a written response to questions, Hooker said the woman remained welcome to worship at Calvin Community Church but church members agreed to lead a life consistent with their profession of faith as contained in the teaching of the Bible.

“No-one is ever turned away from our church. All are welcome to worship here.

This is an important point. This is not about her being welcome, it is about vows of membership.

But member or not, all are welcome at church. Period.

 

* Yes, I get that people who aren’t used to churches might find this irksome. But think about a rugby club – would you expect the coaches never to discuss player performance? Church is about live, elders and deacons end up working with members on a wide range of issues. 

There is such a thing as thinking too much

Update: There is also a thing called complete lack of self-awareness - aka, broken irony meter.

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