Mitt Romney and voter supression

There’s so much voter suppression news I’m a little overwhelmed and tempted to just curl up in a ball and start crying, but this truly disgusting tactical move should probably be top-tier, so here goes.

First, the players:

Just how closely do you hug a controversial supporter? Especially a supporter who could be of a lot more help now than in the general election? It seems this is a problem Mitt Romney has been pondering ever since he was embraced by the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach. Kobach is perhaps best known as the lead architect of the divisive new immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama. This leaves Romney in a delicate situation: hugging him back now could help wrap up the GOP primary especially since the next hurdle is with the traditionally hardcore conservative base in South Carolina. However, if he doesn’t make some efforts to wriggle out of it before he has to start courting Hispanic votes, then it could become a bear hug. It seems we just had a preview of how one goes about squaring that circle. On Monday, ThinkProgress picked up on a Friday Hill report that Kobach would be appearing with Romney at a campaign stop. The story went wide for a holiday (it was Martin Luther King Day Monday), and that led to some rejoicing/pre-condemning from Latino groups who say Romney’s close connection with Kobach seals his fate with the Latino voter in November.

One would certainly hope so.

This is what Mitt Romney supporter Kobach is up to today:

Kansas is ill-prepared to ensure poor, elderly, minority and transient Kansans have convenient access to documents and ID cards that will allow them to cast a ballot in elections this year, voter advocates said this morning.
Louis Goseland, who represents the KanVote group fighting voter suppression, said he and others in Wichita have tested agencies to see if they’re prepared for voter ID laws now in effect and that those agencies seem uninformed and unprepared to help would-be voters.
“It’s just been one thing after another,” he told the House Elections Committee this morning.

Goseland’s assessment comes as part of the back-and-forth between advocacy groups and those who support Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s proposal to move-up the effective date of a new law that will require people registering to vote in Kansas for the first time to prove their U.S. citizenship with one of 12 forms of identification, including a birth certificate.

This is what you see if you’re a new voter and you go to the Kansas Secretary of State website, today:

If you’re a registered voter, bring one of these to the polls:
Driver’s license, military ID, Kansas college ID, Nondriver ID Card, Concealed Carry Gun Permit, Government Employee ID, or Public Assistance ID Card.
Changes in Kansas Voting Law
On April 18, 2011, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (S.A.F.E.) Act into law. Sponsored by the Office of the Kansas Secretary of State, this website contains information every voter should know about changes impacting elections under the S.A.F.E. law.
Starting January 1, 2012:
1. Kansas voters must show photographic identification when casting a vote in person; and
2. Kansas voters must have their signature verified and provide a full Kansas driver’s license or non-driver ID number when voting by mail.
Starting January 1, 2013:
Newly-registered Kansas voters must prove U.S. citizenship when registering to vote.

Romney supporter Kobach is trying to move that 2013 date up, in the hopes that new voters will be completely confused on voter registration, and not be able to vote.

To recap: anti-immigrant activist and Romney supporter Kobach pushed through new voting restrictions, to take effect in 2012. His office is not now prepared to administer those new restrictions properly. Not satisfied with that, Kobach is now hoping to push the date of the proof of citizenship requirement up, from 2013 to 2012, to coincide with the election where Barack Obama is on the ballot, in an election year where national conservative leaders have demonized immigrants and certain minority groups every single day.

Romney needs to wear this like a badge in the general election. It’s reprehensible.

82 replies
  1. 1
    The Moar You Know says:

    Here’s a thought. How can we suppress Republican votes?

  2. 2
    kay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    How can we suppress Republican votes?

    Depress Republican votes? Put Mitt Romney on the ballot.

  3. 3

    If we had a functional press, Rmoney would wear this badge of honor daily. Sadly, we do not.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Mitt Romney, and this Kobach fellow, are runny dog shit streaming down the rear window of a station wagon.

  5. 5
    The Moar You Know says:

    @kay: It’s serious question, kay. It’s not like they’re going to stop with this shit, not while any of them can control a state legislature, and there are at least ten states where the GOP will remain in power until a point in time that will occur well after I am dead.

    They want to rig the game, and they can. Fine. How do we rig the game in places where we are capable?

  6. 6
    Mino says:

    Speaking of Hispanic voters, Pete Wilson has been hugged by Mittens, too. Coloradans might want to know that.

  7. 7
    Mino says:

    @The Moar You Know: Require sanity hearings?

  8. 8
    Hungry Joe says:

    I try never to call something “anti-American” because doing so seems somehow anti-American, but suppressing votes is … anti-American. See, everybody gets to vote. Everybody. The trust-fund wastrel, the alcoholic jerk, the middle-school teacher, the guy out on parole, the E.R. nurse, the assistant night manager at Rite Aid. We don’t make it difficult, we make it easy: This is what democracy looks like. Suppressing votes is what fascism looks like.

  9. 9
    kay says:


    I love how there’s this assumption that Mitt Romney will “move to the middle” in the general election, to “court” voters outside his base.

    This is a fantasy. Look at the GOP House, or the GOP governors. Lot of “courting” going on? I mean, Jesus Christ. They run Super Bowl ads alienating certain voters. At what point do we let go of this misty-eyed yearning nostalgia?

  10. 10
    Martin says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Here’s a thought. How can we suppress Republican votes?

    Adopt the Ryan Plan and watch old people die faster. Seriously, the Republican vote is self-supressing because all of their demographics are shrinking, with the exception of white southerners – which isn’t enough to win the Presidency, but might be enough to re-enact the Civil War.

    That’s why the GOP is adopting these tactics more and more brazenly. They’re losing the demographics game to a large degree. Latinos are the fastest growing group in America, and they’re very strongly Democratic. Young people are registering Democrat by a 2:1 margin, and the GOP base, which is largely people who remember Reagan, can only get smaller.

    If Democrats turn out their side, they’ll win every time, and that job is only getting easier. They don’t need to do anything to suppress the GOP vote. In fact, they should use that as part of the GOTV effort and run against it: they don’t want you to vote. They’re afraid of having every American vote, because they know they’re on the wrong side of the issues. Turn out. Just vote. – that’d be a great job for the unions and the SuperPACs, opposing voter suppression without a strong pitch for a specific candidate.

  11. 11
    kay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    How do we rig the game in places where we are capable?

    We don’t.

    It’s not all bad. One of the things voter suppression efforts do is force the targeted Party to engage on the ground, at the precinct level. Democrats need to do more of that anyway. If Democrats are working with and talking to new voters, and Republicans aren’t, that’s a sort of investment.

    Republicans are running workshops on “detecting and combatting” voter impersonation fraud. But that’s not a real issue. They’re training activists to combat a problem that doesn’t exist. At some point, reality intrudes.

  12. 12
    Bruce S says:

    George Romney: “I don’t know what he believes in. Maybe he doesn’t believe in anything.”

    The elder Romney was aiming his contempt at Nixon, but his son has eagerly stepped in front of that bullet. I don’t think the old man would be proud.

  13. 13
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    O/T but an appeals court (federal or state, not sure) has struck down California Prop 8 as unconstitutional, just breaking, no details yet.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    kay says:


    Thanks for that.

  16. 16
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Not sure why my nym is showing up as “undefined” in #13 above. Strange.

    Fuck you, Weird Press.

  17. 17
    PWL says:

    Well, what can you say? Just another small step in the Republican effort to make this country a one-party state.

    Can you say “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer”?

  18. 18
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Prop 8 Ruled unconstitutional by Fed Court in CA according to my twitter feed.

  19. 19
    Litlebritdifrnt says:


    Ya beat me by theeeeeeees much.

  20. 20
    jacy says:

    Kind of OT: Thanks for all you do, Kay. I rarely comment on your posts, because you always make me feel under-informed. :) But I appreciate you keeping on top of these things. Your activism actually encouraged me to reach out to my local Democratic committee this week (In Louisiana — uphill both ways in the proverbial snowstorm), which I haven’t done since I walked door-to-door for Obama in ’08. Keep up the good work.

  21. 21
    Martin says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yeah, baby! The long arc of history…

    We fought hard against Prop 8. Lost friends over that fight.

  22. 22
    geg6 says:

    OT, and I haven’t read comments here yet but if it hasn’t been linked yet:


  23. 23
    kay says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    She’s pathetic. Do you know she was once a member of the Log Cabin Republicans? Do you know she went after PP in her last race because some RTL wackos beat her over the head until she capitulated and parroted whatever they told her to say? RTL Georgia accused her insufficient fealty to the dogma.

    The lunatics made her run Right, and now she’s fringe.

    Ah, ambition. It always trumps common sense and principle among conservatives. I’m sure they’ll get her another job ripping people off.

  24. 24
    scav says:

    HA! Head down, keep going but HA!

  25. 25

    @kay: Speaking of alienating Super Bowl ads, I saw this at

    Thanks to TPM for a tip to what you see if you examine the HTML code* of the Pete Hoekstra / Fred Davis “we take your jobs” video. The image of the “Chinese” girl in the video, who speaks American-accented English, is labelled as … yellowgirl

    Always classy, the Confederate Party. Fallows, whose copy was edited for ease of blockquoting. My apologies if this has been done to death, but I just saw it.

  26. 26
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I hardly ever get to do that! It’s good news and deserves the duplication.

  27. 27
    kay says:


    I think it’s brave to stand up in a southern state. I lived in both Georgia and North Carolina and didn’t do jack in either place, except vote.

    It’s appealing to work in a swing state, because you win 50% of the time. It’s harder to plug away in a state where you lose 90% of the time. When I look at southern state results, though, even if it’s 30% D, that’s a LOT of people. They should have a voice.

  28. 28
    rikryah says:

    1. I share your sadness, but am happy about folks like you who help spread the word.

    2. you really do a great service.

  29. 29
    4tehlulz says:

    Remember to properly thank Mr.Romney when TX is in play.

  30. 30
    kay says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    When I went down to Columbus to the Obama rally in 2010, there were an large number of Asians at the rally. Whole families. I knew they had an Asian population in that city, but I didn’t know they turn out like that. It was pretty impressive. It stuck with me.

  31. 31
    middlewest says:

    Box turtle bulletin has the pdf of the prop 8 ruling.

  32. 32
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Martin: Between this kind of news, and the whole Handel-SGK-PP outrage, and OWS, and “Halftime in America,” and the comicpatheticshitshow that is the GOP field, and the improving economic and jobs numbers — I’m sensing, if not optimism quite yet, at least a sense of resolve and determination that’s been absent for too long. Not that there aren’t huge obstacles to overcome, of which the thread topic is just one — but things, and attitudes, do seem to be shifting in important ways. And that makes me feel pretty good about Things In General.

  33. 33
    AA+ Bonds says:


    Agreed on her mercenary nature. It’s rough – a moral problem that the right has, but the left can learn pragmatically from the ideological mobility vs. the hobgoblin of little minds.

    I heartily suggest that anyone who read the story before to click on my link for the version so they can see the spin in action.

    They are running scared on this one.

  34. 34
    GregB says:

    It’s mourning in Redstate America.

    They are on the run.

    Just saw some NH polling showing the NH Democratic Governor with a 68% approval rating.

    The poll about voter concerns were.

    #1) The economy

    #2) The Republican Legislature

    Wingnuttistan is in full on running backwards rout mode.

    Which means the screaming and gnashing of teeth will get louder.

  35. 35
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    And after the entire debacle in Georgia where the birfers were on parade – they lose – to an empty chair!

  36. 36
    The Moar You Know says:

    @AA+ Bonds: Boy, Fox went out of their way to use the best looking picture of her they could find, didn’t they?

    Shit, I bet her own kids wouldn’t recognize her from that photo.

  37. 37
    kay says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    The thing about the Log Cabin Republicans was just humiliating for her. She had embraced them, and then she flat-out lied and abandoned them because the lunatics wanted her to demonize what they insist on calling “gay adoption”. An email was produced, proving two things: she’s a liar, and she’ll happily smear anyone, even people she knows personally, if it gets her what she wants.
    She sold her soul a long time ago. Hope she’s happy with the deal she made.

  38. 38
    scav says:

    Still more OT movement: FBI investigates News Corp over corrupt foreign payments So, bribery, not US-based phone hacking yet.

  39. 39
    kay says:


    I have to write about that. I had the funniest pre-trial afternoon with another lawyer who’s been following it. He’s very dramatic. He was playing all the parts, with voices, reading off his phone.

  40. 40
    Litlebritdifrnt says:


    Did he get Orly’s “hokay, hokay, hokay” down pat?

  41. 41
    AA+ Bonds says:


    I think it’s brave to stand up in a southern state. I lived in both Georgia and North Carolina and didn’t do jack in either place, except vote.

    Whenever I go home, I rock Teamsters, UMW, and SEIU gear everywhere I go. I suggest it for anyone in any Southern state who has the guts to engage people wherever you go, if they decide to say something (good or bad).

    Americans care what sports teams you like – they will pay attention if your “team” is a union.

    SEIU has some hip stuff, Gothic lettering, etc. and I recommend it if you are down with them. They get money, you get a union-made, American-made hat, hoodie, or bag, and you personalize the organized-labor issue for people who may just assume that they have never met or seen a union member or supporter.

    The best part of these is that many have prominent “Made in the USA” labels. If someone asks, “why Teamsters”, I usually start by wordlessly pointing to the American flag on the band of my cap.

  42. 42
    AA+ Bonds says:


    Yeah, that’s a major screw-up. If you want to be flexible, you have to either leave room for the transition, or play up the act of transition itself (the latter has provided a lot of cover for conservative Democrats who have moved left on gay issues).

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    Non-Fox link about Handel’s resignation.

    Republican politicians may be happy to sneer at public pressure, but the big corporations that actually need customers to buy their products are not going to ignore the kind of outcry from consumers that came after Komen’s announcement.

    Corporations think that Republicans are their allies. Time to put some daylight between them and make corporations realize that going along with Republicans means we can ruin them.

  44. 44
    Elizabelle says:


    The White House may be open to compromising on a new rule that requires religious schools and hospitals to provide employees with access to free birth control, a senior strategist [David Axelrod] said on Tuesday morning (on Morning Joe, MSNBC).


  45. 45
    AA+ Bonds says:



    This is an attempt to consolidate the Catholic vote . . .

    but if they want to do that, they need to STAND FIRM against the bishops on this one and start talking about how Catholics are split on the issue (which is still verboten for some reason)

  46. 46
    kay says:


    I figured they might. I think it’s a mistake, but it’s a distraction from what they want to be talking about, which are some fairly large successes in the health care law, real life, and as we know, no one wants to talk about health care in this country.
    I can live with it.
    It’s hard for Democrats to get all up in arms over the larger issue, which is “faith based” community service contractors, because Al Gore was one of the biggest drivers of that whole concept.

  47. 47
    Elizabelle says:

    @kay: @AA+ Bonds:

    Yeah, I guess it will be kind of OBE if and when Obama is re-elected and ACA is protected.

  48. 48
    slag says:

    @kay: Christ. It’s only a distraction because they let it be a distraction rather than using it as a jumping off point for a broadbased attack of the Republican approach to public health care. Specifically, their approach to women’s health care.

  49. 49
    kay says:


    I think it takes longer than that to develop the liberal argument. This whole issue is framed in conservative terms, and it’s been like that a long, long time, going back to Clinton.

    Look at how universally accepted the “fungibility” excuse is, and it makes no fucking sense, real world.

    I was having difficulty getting people to accept simple facts, like these are “large businesses” in the last thread. They kept insisting they were ‘charities” or someone’s “mission”.

    I don’t think we should hand them the hammer of “religious liberty” right now.

  50. 50
    kay says:


    I probably agree with you about one thing, though. There isn’t going to be any compromise. They’re going to insist on exemption from anything they don’t like in the health care law, and that’s a bad precedent.
    In that sense it’s a large loss.

  51. 51
    Martin says:

    @Elizabelle: This isn’t the hill the Democratic party needs to die on, and driving another tiny wedge between the business sector (who won’t get an exemption) and the religious sector (who are demanding one) isn’t a bad outcome for Dems.

    I know giving up policy for tactics is a bad trade, but I’ll take a little lemonade where I can. And the country really doesn’t benefit from losing the health care contributions made through charity.

    An interesting turn in this would be for a new charity partnership be created with PP to solicit donations to provide free birth control for employees of institutions with an exemption. Fight fire with fire, as it were. I can’t imagine it would require a lot of funds, but it’d be nice to see groups step up to meet the Catholic givers on the high ground.

  52. 52
    Gretchen says:

    I grew up Catholic. Everybody I knew was Catholic. This idea that they’ll lose the Catholic vote by making Catholic hospitals have inclusive insurance is just crazy. Everybody I knew used birth control, except for one or two outliers. It just wasn’t an issue to the average Catholic. They nodded along while the priest gave his spiel, and then went home and took their pills and told themselves it was none of his business; a celibate guy living by himself has no idea what having another baby crying all night would be like.
    They certainly are making it seem that the whole Church is behind them. The priests are reading denouncements at Mass. And people are walking out. I’m of two minds. They make it sound like they have something behind them, but the actual Catholics that I know are….not behind them.

  53. 53
    Mino says:

    @GregB: #2) The Republican Legislature

    That’s a smart set of voters. #2 encapsulates a lot of worry with just one word.

  54. 54
    Gretchen says:

    @Martin: fabulous idea.

  55. 55
    jacy says:


    I know I’m the only car in carpool line (private Catholic School in a small town) rockin’ an Obama ’12 bumper sticker!

    Dog, but I miss living in the West. Sigh.

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:


    I could see some room for a compromise, like by saying that a Catholic university’s primary mission is a Catholic education, so they’re more closely tied to the church’s aims and missions than a Catholic hospital that serves all comers.

    What the bishops are going to be fighting for tooth and nail is a compromise that says that their huge hospital systems can be exempt, so that’s where it’s gonna get real ugly if any offered compromise doesn’t allow that.

  57. 57
    Mino says:

    @kay: I saw that segment and the compromise Axelrod was talking about is the Hawaiian solution which works with PP and the church to provide the coverage. Hawaii has had universal coverage for a long time.

  58. 58
    kay says:


    It was stupid to take it on and then back down.

    What does this tell those large businesses that are not affiliated with religions?

    Christ. They must be cheering at Wal Mart. We accomplished three things with this. We cemented the idiotic idea that employee compensation somehow remains the property of the employer, that employers “give” employees compensation rather than employees earning it, we gave them free shots to bully women who use birth control, and we showed large businesses they can buck compliance if they scream loud enough.

    I can’t imagine what they were thinking. I can stand tactics and I can stand compromise (although there won’t be any compromise here, they’ll get everything they demanded, because they set it up so that compromise is impossible) but I cannot stand raising this and then fucking it all up.

    I suppose I’ll get a week and half break from womens health being the proxy battle for any and all abstract and unrelated issues, so there’s that to be grateful for.

  59. 59
    slag says:


    I think it takes longer than that to develop the liberal argument. This whole issue is framed in conservative terms, and it’s been like that a long, long time, going back to Clinton.

    There’s a lot of truth to this point. But at what point do we start to turn the ship around? In an election year? Not in an election year? When exactly?

    I’m trying hard not to overlearn from the Komen incident, but I want to believe that there is some value in actually fighting this fight rather than surrendering before it even begins. At some point, I want to see this Administration make the moral case for providing comprehensive health care for women. And if not now, when?

  60. 60
    Elizabelle says:


    This is what hit my buttons yesterday with “Name”‘s post on Kay’s “this isn’t all about abortion” healthcare policy thread.

    Is the Catholic Church the community of believers, American in this case?

    Is it the hierarchy, the priests and bishops and up? The institutional church? The one with bishops that threaten to excommunicate pro-choice politicians?

    Is it the faith itself, with its emphasis on social justice (which includes, one would think, access to healthcare and the opportunity to raise a healthy family when and IF one so desires)?

    Because I think the bishops are a stuffed tiger on this one.

    I see the wisdom of the Obama administration’s pickings its battles wisely.

    But I don’t think most Catholics that would be inclined to support Obama anyway, or consider doing so, would find this as troublesome as the bishops hope they do.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:


    Agreed, agreed.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:


    Meh. I’m not panicking yet, especially since the Axelrod quote that was in the news story was very non-committal. Sometimes you have to meet with people and hear out their concerns even if the ultimate answer is, “Sorry, no deal.”

  63. 63
    Mino says:

    @Elizabelle: The Catholic spokesperson as much as said that the Bishops think they’ve been pushed around and want to die on this hill out of pique.

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    Here’s the actual Axelrod quote that the reporter based the story around:

    “We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms, so we’re going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventative care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions,” Mr. Axelrod said.

  65. 65
    Steve says:

    @kay: The compromise will be that religious schools and charities get an out, but regular old employers who happen to be Catholic still have to follow the law.

    My understanding is that the administration’s controversial rule is the same rule that already exists in 28 states, including New York and California. If I’m right about that, it raises two points: (1) the administration has done a piss-poor job of defense on this issue, since adopting the same rule as 28 states is pretty close to following the status quo; and (2) if the other 22 states follow a different rule, then a compromise probably isn’t the end of the world. Now, maybe the deal is that the other 22 states don’t have an employer mandate at all, but I have no idea.

    I was talking to a conservative Catholic colleague who is pretty upset about this new rule. I asked him, “If you owned a company, would you have a problem with providing contraceptive coverage for your employees?” He said no. “Okay then, what’s the difference,” I asked. He didn’t have an answer, but he didn’t change his mind about the Catholic charities, either. So who knows, maybe a compromise like I suggested would work politically even though it doesn’t make any logical sense. I don’t know if this is a battle we need to fight right now.

  66. 66
    slag says:


    “We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms, so we’re going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventative care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions,” Mr. Axelrod said.

    I’m curious. Do laws against child molestation count as abridging anyone’s religious freedoms?

    I’m sorry the Church finds its prerogative in buggering boys while screwing over women, but really, that’s not my problem. I shouldn’t have to pay for that. I’m not a member of their flock.

  67. 67
    4tehlulz says:

    @Mnemosyne: So he said basically nothing, and the Times is stirring up shit.


  68. 68
    cckids says:


    They certainly are making it seem that the whole Church is behind them. The priests are reading denouncements at Mass. And people are walking out. I’m of two minds. They make it sound like they have something behind them, but the actual Catholics that I know are….not behind them.

    Yes. This. If they were going to compromise on this one, they needed to do it before the asshat bishops got so much publicity. I’m just fuming about the fact that these tax-exempt institutions can read outright political screeds week after week at a supposedly religious service & not pay a price for it. Get the fuck on one side of the fence or the other.

  69. 69
    Martin says:


    It was stupid to take it on and then back down.
    What does this tell those large businesses that are not affiliated with religions?

    I don’t think it was stupid. From a policy standpoint, this makes reasonable sense and appears fair. But there are practical considerations here, not the least of which is that if the goal is to reduce the cost of healthcare in the US, which has been the goal of PPACA from the outset, then these institutions are truly helping toward that goal. I point that not not to provide a place to cave to policy, but to point out that the problem is created, in part, because the private sector is getting something of a free ride here. These hospitals supported by charitable giving are are offsetting at least some costs that the for-profit hospitals and insurance companies and so on would need to cover.

    That sets up an interesting discussion to have when trying to resolve this. We shouldn’t punish those institutions that are helping toward solving the problem of healthcare, and there’s no way you can look at the church-affiliated hospitals and say, in aggregate, that they aren’t helping to a tremendous degree – even with their failings on dispensing emergency contraception or providing life-saving terminations where necessary. The proper path here might be say “We don’t want to punish the institutions that are helping solve the problem through charitable giving, because that offsets costs that the industry or the taxpayer would need to bear in their place, and we recognize their moral perspective, but a public policy problem remains as these employees deserve the same benefits as those working for non-affiliated hospitals. Therefore, the taxpayers will subsidize the cost of providing birth control, or we’ll use some of the mandate penalties levied on non-compliers from the non-affiliated hospitals to transfer that cost – a tax reflecting that they too benefit by not having to serve high cost communities thanks to this charitable giving.”

    The administration can actually have it both ways if they do it right. The costs to subsidize that coverage are tiny, and the number of employees that would need it are also relatively tiny. The administration doesn’t need to back down on the guarantee that employees get the benefit, merely on the means of how it’s paid for, and I think they can establish a consistent, understandable argument behind it.

    Now, we both know that the GOP and religious groups will still scream bloody murder because the ‘we object to these payments for moral grounds’ was true to some degree, but was also an excuse to object to birth control more broadly. And if they lose their excuse to scream, they’ll just invent a new excuse just as they did for going after the unions. But by taking the excuse away, it invites the religious groups to overplay their hand. Which is fine – we should welcome that. But I don’t see any real difficulty with the Obama administration being able to come back on this issue and say “Okay, if the objection is how it’s paid for, we’ll fix that, but the benefit to your employees stays.”

  70. 70
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    The Catholic spokesperson as much as said that the Bishops think they’ve been pushed around and want to die on this hill out of pique.

    By “spokesperson” you mean Bill Donohue, beautifully described by Kathy Griffin as “one guy with a computer”? If that fucker’s speaking for the institutional church, I want to see a fucking bishop standing next to him when he opens his fucking mouth.

  71. 71
    dawinsor says:

    I don’t see passports on that list of ID to take to the poll. Is a US passport seriously not a good enough proof of citizenship for the state of Kansas?

  72. 72
    kay says:

    I just don’t think it was smart to start the whole “large employer” fight HERE with handing out waivers, and a loss.

    That seems to me to be a terrible way to start what is going to be a huge battle, in terms of low wage employers.

    That’s what’s discouraging. It does not give me a whole lot of confidence that they’re going to enforce these regulations.

  73. 73
    HRA says:

    What the Catholic church is experiencing is people have left it in large numbers. Down the street and across the highway is a Catholic where I took my children every week until they had their confirmation. They had to add masses to accommodate the great number of parishioners. That was then. Now they cut the number of masses in recent years and the parking lots are empty. They must have started going through old memberships for they started mailing out money envelopes used during mass. They stopped when I ignored them.
    I could go on and on about this church along with Catholic charities, too. I’ll stop here.

  74. 74
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Most non-Catholics seem to underestimate the propensity of your average U.S. Catholic to question the bishops and the Church on pretty much anything they say (which is HUGE, btw)

    What’s astounding is that this tendency is old news, as Catholics know. It was already a wink-and-elbow joke to Walker Percy by the time Love in the Ruins went to press – in 1971.

    Just watch any episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that mentions religion. That’s the amount of kneejerk deference that your average Catholic in the U.S. shows to official Church statements on social issues.

  75. 75
    Martin says:

    @HRA: We’re seeing something similar. Across the street from my house is a Catholic church and we’ve had the priest stop by several times going door to door. When the Catholics are reading the Jehovahs Witness playbook for outreach, they must be in serious trouble – and this is in a city that is growing by leaps and bounds. They should be drowning in partitioners, and they’ve had no scandals whatsoever locally.

    Even though I’ve never been religious, I feel bad for how much trouble they’re having. I like having the church across the street, watching the wedding parties assemble, being reminded of what’s been lost when I hear the bagpipes, and we participate in the blood drives when they have them. I don’t welcome their difficulties, but I can’t excuse the church’s failings either.

  76. 76
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    By “spokesperson” you mean Bill Donohue, beautifully described by Kathy Griffin as “one guy with a computer”?

    That’s an unnecessarily flattering depiction of that slime, in my opinion – a responsible Church hierarchy would reprimand him publicly for his repeated false representation of Church doctrine

  77. 77
    AA+ Bonds says:


    I’ll tell you – my mother lost her job with the Church when it was eliminated due to lagging donations from my hometown diocese’s capital campaign. This was a managerial position – the entire office she managed was cut. (Yes, we are a Catholic family.)

    Looking at the headlines that year, she knew damn well why people stopped giving: the Church’s sometimes negligent, sometimes depraved behavior regarding sexual abuse by priests.

    She didn’t blame the donors who kept their money. She blamed the bishops for facilitating the abuse of children.

    This anti-health-care business won’t do them any favor with donors, either. But one thing y’all have to realize: the Church is not so much a “business” in the contemporary sense, in that its most influential members have fully absorbed a universalized system of thought that runs counter to capitalism. When the Church acts as a grift, it’s an inflexible one.

    In other words, the bishops will run the Church into the ground as a provider of social welfare, to make a really stupid point that U.S. Catholics don’t support at all.

    The good thing is that U.S. Catholics think, act, and vote independently. Look at Catholic-voter numbers on the 2004 election: it’s the same more-or-less-50/50 split that Catholics have maintained for years in America, despite the bishops’ unconstitutional all-out war on Kerry that year.

  78. 78
    AA+ Bonds says:

    To sum up: when you mention a bishop’s statement to a Catholic-on-the-street in the U.S.A., your most likely response is an automatic rolling of his or her eyes back to the spinal cord.

    A more polite version of this response – that’s the proper tack for the Obama administration to take.

    What I hope is that this “opening” is a honeypot for the bishops and nothing more. The best way for Obama to win another Catholic majority is to do what U.S. Catholics continue to do: stand up against the bishops when it comes to ridiculous, nosy orders about how to maintain our health.

  79. 79
    kay says:

    Martin, if this is going to be the quality of the defense of the health care law, we’re screwed.

    NINE DAYS they waited to address it.

    Nine days. No one understands it. No one has any idea how the large employer regs work, or what the point of them is, or how they fit into the

    They sent Martin OMalley out 2 weeks after there was already mass confusion, and now they're essentially saying he's in favor of infringing on religious liberty.

    We're two years into this and they're still fumbling for some kind of coherent plan to defend this law.

    How many times is this going to happen?

    No one could have predicted the bishops would go berserk, and we'd be in Round 476 of the Abortion Wars, right?

  80. 80
    kay says:

    You know Martin, I was on a conference call and I heard this stirring defense of the health care law.

    Just a normal person. She did a great job.

    What if we had, oh, A POLITICAL PARTY that employed hundreds of consultants and had millions in the bank to do that.

    They could run ads, or something crazy like that!

    What do they do all day? Wait for invitations to defend their law?

  81. 81
    Martin says:

    @kay: But this is all more of the same manufactured outrage, and just like the threat of a filibuster has turned into a filibuster, you don’t want the administration to have to proactively cave before each of these manufactured issues. This is a policy that’s currently in force in over half the states in the country, including the HUGELY Catholic dominated states in the northeast. And it’s been in place without significant objection.

    How much do we want HHS to have to set up maginot lines simply to head off Newt Gingrich latching onto todays iteration of death panels? And even if they had, they would have latched onto some other manufactured outrage. That’s what they do. Their job is is to promote the noble profession of victim.

  82. 82
    kay says:

    Well, Martin, I disagree.

    No one even knows they’re regulating large employers. They think they’re regulating Catholic hospitals.

    People don’t even understand the basic context, which is not “religion” but is instead “large employers”

    It’s like they have one employee in the
    Democratic Party, and it’s David Axelrod.

    Are they horribly short-handed, or

    They have this HUGE law to explain, and they send him out every three months to explain or apologize for one tiny piece at a time.

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