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During the Tuesday night broadcast of The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow ended the show by discussing Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and his recent comments regarding his state’s high uninsured rate. A recent survey revealed that Mississippi is the only state to have seen its uninsured rate increase since the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Overall, the country has seen a significant decrease in the number of uninsured people. However, Mississippi’s uninsured rate has climbed to 21.46%. Only Texas currently has a higher uninsured rate than Mississippi.

When presented with these results, Bryant decided that President Barack Obama and the ACA were to blame.

“If statistics show that the ill-conceived and so-called Affordable Care Act is resulting in higher rates of uninsured people in Mississippi, I’d say that’s yet another example of a broken promise from Barack Obama.”

Maddow highlighted Bryant’s refusal to work with any of the provisions of the ACA that would have helped bring health coverage to more Mississippians. The governor refused to assist in creating a state exchange even though his own state’s health commissioner, a Republican, had a well-designed exchange ready to be put in place. Due to Bryant’s intransigence, the HHS and other federal agencies were unable to work with the state exchange, and only two health insurance companies were willing to be placed on it. The governor also refused to expand Medicaid, which would have provided coverage to over 300,000 residents of his state. Instead, Bryant said that people have free coverage — the emergency room.

Rachel decided to use a visual metaphor to illustrate the effects of Bryant’s obstruction when it comes to Obamacare. The host brought out a model of a Lamborghini. The remote control car worked perfectly and she was able to drive it around the studio. After driving it around, she bashed it several times with a hammer. After causing severe damage to the car, she tried to drive it around again. Of course, it went nowhere. In mock outrage, Maddow kicked the car, called it a piece of junk and said nobody should get this car because it doesn’t work.

Below is video of the segment, courtesy of MSNBC:

In a short four-minute segment, Rachel Maddow destroyed Bryant’s declaration that the ACA is to blame for Mississippi’s high uninsured rate. The fact remains that red state Republican governors like Bryant and Texas’ Rick Perry have done everything in their power to ensure that the health care law is a failure in their state. However, when presented with the aftereffects of their obstruction, they turn tail and blame Obama or Democrats for the negative impact of their actions. Republicans take a jackhammer to Obamacare in their states and then call it a piece of junk when it doesn’t work as promised.

h/t: Justin Baragona at PoliticusUSA

crooksandliars:

Boehner's Lawsuit Turning Into Messaging Goldmine For Dems

Now this is more like it. House Democrats aren’t sitting idly by while John Boehner tries to assuage his angry right wing with a lawsuit instead of impeachment. No, they’re making Republicans pay for their folly by forcing votes that make them look like rubes and fools.

Steve Benen:

Democrats asked for a provision that would require Republicans to regularly disclose how much this lawsuit was costing American taxpayers. Republicans said no.

Democrats asked for a conflict-of-interest measure that would prevent lawmakers from hiring lawyers for this case who lobby Congress. Republicans said no.

Democrats asked for a separate conflict-of-interest amendment that would stop Congress from hiring a law firm for this case that has a financial stake in the implementation of the ACA. Republicans said no.

Democrats asked for a disclosure requirement that said congressional contracts with outside counsel would be disclosed before they’re approved. Republicans said no.

Democrats asked for a measure that would require Republicans to explain where the public funds will come from that will pay for the lawsuit. Republicans said no.

There were 11 proposed improvements in all, Each were defeated with zero Republican votes.

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See Also: Justin’s Political Corner: Michele Bachmann on OCU’s Faith and Liberty: Gays Want To Let Adults ‘Freely Prey On Little Children Sexually’ 


H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Michael McAuliff at HuffPost Politics

H/T: Jean Ann Esselink at The New Civil Rights Movement

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

Mitch McConnell: say one thing, do another. Let’s send him packing in November at the ballot box by replacing him with Alison Lundergan Grimes. 

H/T: Sahil Kapur at TPM

Much to the chagrin of women’s rights advocates, Hobby Lobby has won its legal battle — but claims of “victory” for religious freedom must be emended. Make no mistake: This is no victory for the freedom to exercise Christian principles. Though employers like Hobby Lobby are now free to deny women access to contraceptives through their employer-subsidized health plans on the basis of religious objection, they will be violating their own purported Christian principles if they do. While Christians are not compelled by their faith to engage in religious practices that impose upon the freedoms of others, they are compelled — by their belief that all persons, men and women, are created in the image of God — to oppose discrimination.

Employers are now free to deny women access to contraceptives through their employer-subsidized health plans, though they will be violating their own purported Christian principles if they do.

Some corporations that have objected to the contraceptive requirements of the Affordable Care Act, like Hobby Lobby, claim that they do not wish to discriminate against women by denying them access to contraceptives generally, and that their opposition is merely to abortion. However, their understanding of which medications act as abortifacients rests on an outdated understanding of medical science and is at odds with the facts of the matter. Use of these contraceptive methods is not tantamount to abortion, and moreover, providing women with access to safe, reliable contraceptives for free drastically reduces the actual abortion rate.

It is likely that women will ultimately retain coverage, anyhow, though religious employers are now able to legally withhold it. The Supreme Court assumed in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that the government has a compelling interest in ensuring that women have full access to preventive care. It appears that a majority of the court believes that this interest is compelling. The issue still under real legal dispute is how that coverage will be provided.

One suggestion is that the Obama administration extend to closely held, for-profit corporations the same accommodation already in place for religiously affiliated nonprofits. If a corporation objects, on religious grounds, to covering contraceptives in its health plan, it can fill out a two-page form, with five questions (two of which are providing a signature and the date), self-certifying that it meets the requirements for religious accommodation. By submitting this form, employees will be provided contraceptive coverage directly from their insurance company rather than through their employer.

This very exemption, however, currently faces its own legal threat from some Christian religious organizations, which claim that notifying the government of their objections to contraceptive use is itself religiously objectionable, as doing so will “trigger” the provision of coverage by a third party. The University of Notre Dame and Wheaton College are among several institutions that have brought such challenges. There is very little sense to be made of claims that your freedom of religion is substantially burdened by someone else’s providing services that you do not want to provide yourself. This suggests that the legal challenges are not merely aimed at allowing corporations to abstain from facilitating behavior they deem immoral but instead are seeking to effectively prevent women from engaging in that “immoral” behavior by keeping financial barriers for women, and administrative barriers for the government, in place.

This is economic coercion. Opponents to the contraceptive mandate have insisted that women remain free to purchase whatever health care services they choose, but this is woefully insensitive to the reality that low-income women and families face. For these women, there is a very large difference between what is available to them for purchase in principle and in effect. It is easy for those who do not regularly face desperate decisions due to financial insecurity or medical complexities to forget the difference. An intrauterine device, for example, can cost a low-income full-time worker more than a month’s wages. For some women, this is both the safest and most effective medical option, yet hopelessly unaffordable.

This kind of economic coercion is distinctly at odds with Christian principles. There is only one incident described in the Christian scriptures where Jesus is represented as employing coercive force, and it was not used to prevent people from engaging in sin. It was used, instead, to prevent people from dishonoring God by exploiting religious practice for personal gain. The gospels describe Jesus’ reaction to those who sought to profit from the Passover pilgrimage to the temple as fierce: “And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’” This is where corporations that claim their operations constitute religious practice of the Christian faith ought to take note.

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Hobby Lobby offered coverage for some of the contraceptives it now claims its religious faith forbids it to have any association with, until shortly after the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom asked it if it would be interested in filing suit. The company continues to profit from investments in the manufacturers of the “objectionable” contraceptives through the 401(k) plan it offers its employees. Recently, Hobby Lobby has faced legal trouble for false advertising. It has built a fortune, in large part, by selling goods manufactured in China, infamous for its poor labor conditions and related human rights violations. These are the practices of a corporation that will emphasize the Christian faith of its owners when convenient and profitable, but set that faith aside when it would be costly to do otherwise.

Hobby Lobby is not the only corporation which has objected to the law through what seems to be quite selective applications of Christian principle. Offering health care coverage as called for by the Affordable Care Act is morally permissible according to the Catholic philosophical tradition, and the sincerity of institutions like the University of Notre Dame is questionable.

The more pressing question religious corporations should ask themselves is whether denying women comprehensive health care while providing it to men, and so failing to respect women’s inherent dignity and equality, is consistent with their religious values. Since the Supreme Court focused on the practical effects at stake (that is, whether women would be able to obtain coverage elsewhere, and thus by a less restrictive means) rather than on the expressive function of the law, Hobby Lobby is now free to discriminate in its provision of health care. But the question remains, why would it want to?

H/T: Kathyrn Pogin at The New York Times' Opinionator Blogs

Holly Hobby Lobby Caught in More Lies, Her Son’s “Award-Winning” Cardiologist Isn’t Even Certified

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM

H/T: Sam Baker at National Journal

h/t: John Prager at AATTP 

thepoliticalfreakshow:

When the Supreme Court hands the LGBT community a victory, it’s hard to hide it. After all, allowing states to legalize marriage is not something you can sneak by the nation. But when the Supreme Court unleashes a nightmare, it’s not easy spot. But that’s exactly what the court did this week in a ruling that has the potential to wreak havoc on everything from marriage equality to HIV treatments.

The case involved the craft-store chain Hobby Lobby. The store had sued the federal government because it did not want to provide contraceptives to employees, as mandated under the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby objected on religious grounds, arguing that corporations have the same right to religious expression as individuals.

The Supreme Court agreed. In his majority decision, Justice Samuel Alito took pains to insist that the ruling applied only to “closely-held” corporations and even more specifically was “concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate.”

Don’t you believe it.

With the ruling, the Court has created a giant legal loophole that the religious right will exploit for years to come. And a lot of that legal challenge will be directed toward gay issues. It’s not a coincidence that the legal group representing Hobby Lobby, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, titles itself after the same principle that opponents of marriage equality keep trumpeting. 

Now Alito was careful to say that the decision didn’t allow corporations the right to “provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.” But Alito’s definition of illegal discrimination may not extend to LGBT rights. The only example he cited in his ruling involved racial discrimination. He was conspicuously silent on other types of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

That has opened the door to legal challenges from antigay opponents. Already, the impact of the ruling is expanding. The Justices granted Wheaton College, an evangelical institutionknown for its antigay policies, an exemption from responding to certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds, even though Wheaton is not a closely held corporation.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor complained that the Court had changed the playing field just three days after the Hobby Lobby ruling. “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

“The Supreme Court has ruled that for-profit corporations have religious rights and have accorded them religious exemptions,” said Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Despite their attempts to qualify that ruling, it opens the floodgates to claims by corporations for religious exemptions.”

Now that the floodgates are open, expect the challenges to follow. Here are five nightmare scenarios that are now possible because of the Hobby Lobby ruling.

1. A corporation refuses to offer benefits to same-sex married couples, even in states that recognize those marriages.

The Hobby Lobby ruling allows corporations raise objections to laws others have to follow because of “sincerely held beliefs.” Is there any belief more sincerely held by religious conservatives than that the state shouldn’t acknowledge same-sex relationships? Imagine the weight of a corporation brought to bear on HR policies regarding gay couples. It could make the debates about refusing to bake wedding cakes seem like small in comparison.

2. A business refuses to hire any openly LGBT employees. Alito said that the Hobby Lobby ruling denies that “discrimination in hiring, for example on the basis of race, might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction.” On the basis of race, perhaps. But not necessarily on other grounds. A business that is vehemently antigay would be willing to test supposition in court. They may not succeed, but there’s no guarantee that they wouldn’t. And it won’t be just hiring practices. The problem might not stop at the workplace: it could be extended to real estate transactions as well.

3. A company objects to providing HIV prevention drugs. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) dramatically cuts the risk of HIV transmission, and gay men by the thousands are signing up for the prescription medication (Truvada). But it’s expensive, and in most cases it needs to be covered by company medical insurance. But it could be considered a kind of HIV-prevention–like a condom. Companies run by antigay activists, who often cloak bigotry in religious terms, could easily argue that it is tantamount to encouraging sodomy. We already know how some religious conservatives feel about condoms. The Hobby Lobby decision doesn’t really differentiate among the types of treatments that can’t be challenged on religious grounds. Once again, it will be left to other courts to sort that out.

4. Trangender people are shut out of medical benefits. More and more, courts are recognizing gays and lesbians as a class that deserves protection under the law. However, not so for transgender people, for whom legal protections are still lagging. Jenny Pizer, law and policy director at Lambda Legal, says that companies could object to medical treatments that transgender employees need, using objections to the treatments themselves as the excuse. That would be an easier case to win, unfortunately, than one targeting employees for gender identity.

5. The proposed executive order banning workplace discrimination by federal contractors could be in jeopardy. Within a day of the Hobby Lobby ruling, an argument broke out about the proposed executive order banning workplace discrimination among federal contractors. “The government would be saying you can’t get the benefits of getting a federal contract unless you give up your religious liberty rights,” said Kevin Theriot, vice president of Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious right legal group. “It’s another form of coercion.”

There’s already talk about putting a big, fat religious exemption into the executive order,which would lessen its impact and enshrine the right of federal contractors to discriminate.