Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cool Chicks from History,, posted the following Washington Post article on Tumblr. When I read the piece two things struck me. 
First, society has come a long way from the protective paternalism demonstrated here.  Men imposed their notions of protecting women by shielding them from obvious facts. Those were the days when such things were not discussed. The editor of the Honolulu-Star Bulletin did not publish the article because it might further frighten the women of Honolulu. He is oblivious to the reality that humans communicate, and for a newspaper editor that is irony. Those women were already finding a voice and sharing their common experiences. Having their story published would have given cohesion to their initiation to war, serving to make permanent the record of events from their perspective.
Second, at the end of the article the author, Elizabeth McIntosh, told another story, that of the women who had known war, World War I. Those women remained prepared against the day when terror came calling. They were able to jump right in and assist in the war effort. Why, I wonder, didn't the editor give the reporter instructions to expand on that effort?
Here is the link to the video that accompanied the article:
Here is the link to the article:

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This piece was originally written for publication by a local newspaper.  The editor of that paper had invited me to write from a progressive perspective.  Unfortunately, he had a habit of forgetting to publish my work.  I withdrew permission for that paper or any of its affiliated papers to publish my work.

You probably saw the overly simplistic ad sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Louis demagoging the mandate that employers provide their female employees with a birth control option.
The first woman said: “You wouldn’t force an atheist to buy a Bible.  It’s that simple.” Then the second, “You wouldn’t force a vegetarian to buy you a hamburger. It’s that simple.” Finally the last intones  “Why, then, would you ask a Catholic employer to purchase your birth control?”
It is not that simple. No one is asking the Catholic Church, operating as a Church, to provide female employees with birth control.  The Church wants to be empire within the Republic.  By that I mean it wants not only to be the Church, but the dominant force in the hospital industry, and its own insurance company.
There is a long tradition of Catholic Hospitals, a good tradition.  And we are no longer in the age where nuns man the wards and work for nothing.  Today's Catholic Hospitals are modern facilities competing successfully in the marketplace.
Across the nation Corporate Healthcare is the template for Catholic Healthcare.  Wealthy Catholic systems purchase smaller hospitals, often to extend health services to the less fortunate, requiring Catholic standards regarding reproductive rights be enforced by secular institutions.  This imposes Catholic theology on institutions and employees that do not share Catholic beliefs.  In this respect the Catholic Church is trying to do an end run around the First Amendment rights of others.
As a practical matter strict bans on birth control and choice have not always worked.  The Catholic part of the equation has made arrangements for physicians to lease a floor of the hospital with a separate elevator entrance so that women had full access to their health care choices. Creating this Chinese Wall did not seem to violate Catholic religious liberty, as long as the revenue continued flowing.
Self-insurance complicates the Bishop's gambit to extend the cloak of religious liberty to traditional secular activities.  It also tossed a wrench into the compromise forged by the White House with the Catholic Church.  That compromise tried using the same Chinese Wall device permitting Catholic Hospitals to sidestep full access to women's health care by shifting the burden to a third party.  But the rub is that the insurance company is now the Catholic Church.
At the heart of the dispute is the definition of a religious employer.  Here it is:
Group health plans sponsored by certain religious employers, and group health insurance coverage in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive service.  A religious employer is one that: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section 6033 (a)(1) and section 6033 (a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii).  45 C.F.R. §147.130(a)(1)(iv)(B).  See the Federal Register Notice:  Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventative Services Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  (  The Bishops want a broader definition.
The dilemma with the Bishops' gambit is that push eventually leads to shove.  Ultimately the Courts are going to paint a bright line that says when the Church acts as a Church it has full First Amendment protection.  When the Church acts transitionally as a business those protections begin to abate.  As the Church fully engages in traditionally non-religious commercial activity, the protections of the First Amendment, as to religious liberty, do not attach.
The Bishops are overreaching.



Saturday, December 1, 2012

With thanks to Real Clear Politics, for their "create your own map" feature, see,, I wondered what would it be like if the result of the Presidential Campaign looked like the Powerball Map.  First, here is the map.

To begin with there are 538 Electoral College votes.  How, you ask did we get that number.  It is simple, there are 435 Members of Congress and 100 Senators.  Add those two numbers together and you get 535.  The three missing votes come from the District of Columbia.  As you remember, the minimum number of votes a state can have in the Congress is 3.  Each state gets at least 1 Representative to the House and 2 Senators.  Missing from this map are the U.S. Virgin Islands, which shows up on the Powerball Map but since they are not a state not on the Electoral College Map. 
What would be the circumstances that would cause Hawaii, California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming to join with two states from the Heart of Dixie, Mississippi and Alabama and be the losers in the Electoral College?  This is a big loss because the winner gets 449 votes to the loser's 89; And a victory of 449 votes is a landslide.
History shows us big wins (or losses depending on perspective).  In 1964 LBJ beat Goldwater by 486 to 52.  Goldwater was painted as an extremist and carried only Arizona, the Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the old Dixie States of Georgia and South Carolina.
In 1972 Tricky Dick Nixon rode his secret plan to end the War in Vietnam to a landslide victory over McGovern, who won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.  That margin was 520 to 17.  Nixon did not finish the term, he resigned in disgrace on August 8, 1974. 
Ronald Reagan swept into a 1980 victory with a populist conservative message and tough talk against Iran, who was holding Americans taken during a siege of our embassy.  Reagan defeated Carter by 489 to 49, and the hostages were released on inauguration day. 
Carter got more electoral college votes against Reagan than did his Vice President who lost four years later by a margin of 525 to 13. Regan easily handled Mondale in the Presidential Debates, sexism may have played a role as Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic Party's choice for Veep, and the negatives in the first term didn't stick to Reagan who was called the "Teflon President". Mondale won his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.
George H. W. Bush beat Dukakis in 1988 by 426 to 111 painting the Massachusetts Governor as a crime coddling liberal.  Dukakis carried Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.  Since 1988 no candidate has topped the 400 electoral vote count. 
Winning by large margins is not always good.  In a college level Political Science course, years ago, Southwest Missouri State's Professor Alice Fleetwood Bartee suggested the best wins are the closest wins.  Employing the theory of Occam's Razor, otherwise called the law of economy, she taught that winning the simple majority puts less pressure on the Administration to satisfy competing pressures.  So winning a great majority means that the President has to deliver on promises to competing groups, which often spells doom for reelection.
In 1928 Republican Herbert C. Hoover beat the Democratic candidate Alfred E. Smith by 444 to 87.  Smith carried Massachusetts, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Four years later FDR trounced Hoover 472 to 59.  Of course there was enormous economic pain following the Wall Street Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression.  In 1936 FDR continued on to another legendary win beating Kansan Alf Landon 523 to 8. Republicans started to make inroads in 1940 win they ran Wendell L. Willke, who only lost to FDR by 449 to 82.  In 1944 FDR again topped the 400 electoral college vote mark besting Thomas E. Dewey 432 to 99.  FDR died April 12, 1945, having won more electoral college votes than anyone else in history.
The 400 vote total didn't get topped until Ike ran in 1952.  The man who commanded the Allied Forces in Europe in World War II beat Adlai Stephenson by 442 to 89.  Four years late he did it again 457 to 73.