Obama won’t be expecting the Spanish Inquisition

January 30, 2012

It isn’t bad enough that the majority of Americans oppose ObamaCare and want it repealed. No, the administration had to go and tick off the Catholic Church, too.

Background: As part of the implementation of ObamaCare, Secretary Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations requiring religious groups to provide health insurance that would cover practices and procedures, such as abortion,  diametrically opposed to their beliefs. The groups were given a year to comply. (Or else?)

This was too much for Catholic bishops to take, and a letter denouncing this move as an assault on religious liberty was read in thousands of  parishes across the land this last Sunday. Here’s an excerpt from one:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers,including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture,only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

Each bishop sent out his own letter, so there’s some variation. Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh said the HHS ruling amount to telling Catholics “to Hell with you:”

Kathleen Sebelius announced that the mandate would not be withdrawn and the religious exemption would not be expanded. Instead, she stated that nonprofit groups – which include the Catholic Church – will get a year “to adapt to this new rule.” She simply dismissed Catholic concerns as standing in the way of allegedly respecting the health concerns and choices of women.

Could Catholics be insulted any more, suggesting that we have no concern for women’s health issues? The Catholic Church and the Catholic people have erected health care facilities that are recognized worldwide for their compassionate care for everyone regardless of their creed, their economic circumstances and, most certainly, their gender. In so many parts of the globe – the United States included – the Church is health care.

Kathleen Sebelius and through her, the Obama administration, have said “To Hell with You” to the Catholic faithful of the United States.

  • To Hell with your religious beliefs,
  • To Hell with your religious liberty,
  • To Hell with your freedom of conscience.

Want to know how seriously the Church in America takes this? One bishop directed that the Prayer to St. Michael be read at services within his diocese (h/t PJM):

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen

Why is that significant? Between 1930 and 1965, when it was last included in regular services, the prayer was recited for the benefit of believers trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

This isn’t just opposition; this is a declaration of war.

It’s also incredibly risky (to put it nicely) for a president who badly wants reelection. Catholics amount to about 25% of the electorate and constitute significant voting blocs in several keys states. Naturally not all would agree with the bishops or think this as serious a matter as they claim. But I’m willing to bet that large numbers will, and that, combined with the already existing ire over ObamaCare and the economy, the President may well come to regret Secretary Sebelius’ highhandedness.

Especially on Election Day.

PS: About that subject line.

LINKS: Yuval Levin, Religious Liberty and Civil Society.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Gangster government in action

September 13, 2010

I wrote last week about HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ threat to put companies that criticize ObamaCare out of business by denying them access to the state-controlled health-insurance markets that begin in 2014. That same day, Michael Barone, who I believe coined the words “thugocracy” and “gangster government” to describe the Obama Administration, weighs in:

“Congress shall make no law,” reads the First Amendment, “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Sebelius’ approach is different: “zero tolerance” for dissent.

The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm someone’s business because they disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration’s transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.

“The rule of law, or the rule of men (women)?” economist Tyler Cowen asks on his marginalrevolution.com blog. As he notes, “Nowhere is it stated that these rate hikes are against the law (even if you think they should be), nor can this ‘misinformation’ be against the law.”

According to Politico, not a single Democratic candidate for Congress has run an ad since last April that makes any positive reference to Obamacare. The First Amendment gives candidates the right to talk — or not talk — about any issue they want.

But that is not enough for Sebelius and the Obama administration. They want to stamp out negative speech about Obamacare. “Zero tolerance” means they are ready to use the powers of government to threaten economic harm on those who dissent.

I’ve noted before that Barack Obama seems to have a problem with freedom of speech. Apparently Secretary Sebelius has that problem, too.

EDIT: I shortened the quote to remove some redundant information.


The Thugocracy in action, health-care division – UPDATED!

September 10, 2010

So, the whole point of ObamaCare (well, one of the points) is to put private insurance companies out of business and pave the way for single-payer national health care:

And yet, when those same targeted private insurance companies complain about ObamaCare and raise rates to meet the new costs it imposes, the President’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, gets annoyed and tells them to shut up and take it, or they’ll be put out of business even sooner:

President Barack Obama’s top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that the administration won’t tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law.

“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.

“Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections,” Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They’d lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.

In other words, company executives who dare exercise their First Amendment rights to speak the truth about the harm ObamaCare will do to their firms will… get hurt.

For some strange reason, I’m picturing Frank Nitti, backed by a couple of his goons, in an insurance CEO’s office looking around and saying “Nice company youse got here. Be a shame if something happened to it.”

Must be a coincidence on my part.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey see this as evidence that the entire administration is peevish, not just the President.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

UPDATE: Irony alert – The GAO says Secretary Sebelius herself is misleading Medicare recipients:

The Government Accountability Office says a Medicare mailer sent out by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, to Medicare recipients on the new health-care law isn’t accurate.

In fact, according to the GAO, the brochure, which cost $18 million in taxpayer dollars to publish and emanated from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, presented a view of the health reform law that is “not universally shared,” that it “overstated the benefits” of health reform,” and that it failed to note the possibility of less generous Medicare benefits and higher costs.

While the GAO cleared the administration of putting together a purely partisan or propagandizing brochure, it was nonetheless critical of its content.

Will this mean she has to put herself out of business?  Confused

(via Gabriel Malor on Twitter)


Maybe you should rephrase that, Madame Secretary?

August 31, 2010

When a majority of those surveyed believe that “socialist” is an accurate description of President Obama, saying that opponents of his health-care program need to be reeducated is perhaps not the best choice of words:

In an interview before the latest Kaiser results were released, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told ABC News that the sustained opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform efforts has mainly been a function of “misinformation.”

“Unfortunately there still is a great deal of confusion about what is in [the reform law] and what isn’t,” Sebelius told ABC News Radio on Monday.

With several vulnerable House Democrats now touting their votes against the bill, and Republicans running on repeal of the law, Sebelius said “misinformation given on a 24/7 basis” has led to the enduring opposition nearly six months after the lengthy debate ended in Congress.

“We have a lot of reeducation to do,” Sebelius said.

Get it? Opposition can’t be based on a principled objection to a statist takeover of the health-care system, the insertion of federal bureaucrats into the most intimate decisions about one’s medical care, or the tremendous economic costs this “reform” imposes. Nope, it’s got to be “misinformation” fed to gullible rubes, who need “reeducating.”

Presumably again and again until they get it right.

I assume Secretary Sebelius is unaware of the disturbing associations “reeducation” brings to mind, such as the reeducation camps in Soviet Russia, Maoist China (especially during the Cultural Revolution), and Vietnam, to name just a few totalitarian hell-holes. Now, obviously she didn’t mean “put them all in camps and subject them to reprogramming as in Clockwork Orange,” but the choice of words is unfortunate and culturally clueless.

It’s also revealing, because it shows once again the arrogance and condescension toward the common people that lays behind the progressive-statist mindset: “Government experts know what’s best for you, Citizen peasant, so trust us and let us tell you why you’re wrong to oppose us.”

Come November 2nd, 2010, Secretary Sebelius and her colleagues will be the ones getting a real –and needed– reeducation.

COMPARISON: If you find yourself reminded of the votes a few years ago over the proposed EU constitution and the attempts to force nations that rejected it to vote again until they approved it, you’re not having hallucinations. The statist attitudes of our (Social) Democratic leaders and the European Union governing classes really are that alike.

(via Reason)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)