The GOP Has Lost The Argument Over The HHS Birth Control Mandate

The argument over contraceptive coverage mandates has not gone well for conservatives.

Ever since the Obama Administration announced new regulations that would require all employers, including religiously affiliated institution (though not churches) to provide contraception coverage in the health care plans that they provide to their employees, conservatives have framed the issue as one of religious liberty. According to this argument, an institution affiliated with the Catholic Church (to pick the most prominent example) should not be forced to “pay for” coverage of something that consider to be morally unacceptable. Even when the Administration revised the proposal to provide that such employers would not be required to pay for the additional coverage but would still be required to provide for it, the objection remained the same. Nearly all of the Republican candidates for President have hammered away at this religious argument over the past two months, with Rick Santorum being perhaps the most strident in his objections.

I noted when this argument first came up that I was somewhat skeptical of the legal merits of the religious liberty argument. That was tempered a bit by a District Court ruling out of Washington State dealing with pharmacists unwilling to stock the Plan B “Day After” pill, but I’m still not entirely convinced that it’s the best legal strategy for opponents of the regulation to follow. But let’s leave the law aside for the moment. Let’s also leave aside the question of whether the regulation is right or wrong in general, or even whether its good politics. Let’s just look at the pure politics of this matter.

When the controversy first broke, Steven Taylor made note (here and here) of poll numbers that showed that the GOP’s position on contraception in general and the mandate in particular, and subsequent polling has confirmed that the public simply hasn’t bought into the conservative argument here. Now, Kristen Powers writes about another poll that seems to show that the GOP has, for all intents and purposes, lost the argument on the mandate:

Bad news for the GOP on the religious liberty vs. contraception debate:  Americans aren’t buying what you are selling.

A new Public Religion Research Institute poll released yesterday—which was done in partnership with Religion News Service—found that a majority (56 percent) of Americans do not believe that the right of religious liberty is being threatened in America today. Even worse for the right:  A majority of Catholics (57 percent) and independents (58 percent) do not view Obama’s contraception mandate for religiously affiliated institutions as an infringement on religious liberty.

They are also losing on the key argument of the GOP, led by superstar Senator Marco Rubio: that religiously affiliated institutions should have the same protections as churches. PRRI’s chief executive, Dr. Robert P. Jones, told me, “Americans do believe that churches are special. There is no demographic that thinks that churches should be required to [provide contraception]. But a majority of Americans and Catholics continue to think religiously affiliated institutions should be required to cover birth control with no cost.”

The raging public debate and drumbeat from Republicans that Obama is infringing on religious liberty has been largely ignored. Says Jones, “There hasn’t been much of a change since our last poll.  The numbers have been consistent. The bigger picture is most Americans and Catholics just aren’t connecting dots between the threat to religious liberty and the contraception debate.”

(…)

PRRI’s Jones points out that Americans care deeply about religious liberty.  It’s just that they don’t see the contraception rule as an infringement of it.  Of the people who cited religious liberty as being under attack in America, PRRI/RNS asked people to tell them in their own words where they thought it was being threatened. Contraception placed at the bottom, with only 6 percent of people citing it as a top religious liberty issue. The most frequently mentioned reasons are the removal or God and religion from the public square (23 percent), government interference in religion (20 percent), and hostility toward Christians or religion (10 percent).

What this indicates, of course, is two things. First of all, on the whole, Americans don’t see religious liberty as being seriously under threat in this country. Even the most widely cited example of an alleged infringement on religious liberty gets the support of less than one-quarter of the respondents, meaning that more than 75% of Americans don’t see it as a problem at all. Second, in the case of contraception, 94% of Americans don’t see the new HHS Mandate as an infringement on religious liberty. If you asked these people, no doubt, most of them would say that they consider it a health care issue instead.

What this suggests, of course, is that the right made a tactical error when it attempted to frame this as a religious liberty issue. Except for diehards, it’s not the kind of argument that’s likely to attract a lot of people, especially in an American where birth control is seen, quite rightly, as not a big deal at all.  For this reason, the Blunt Amendment, which would have given a conscience objection not only to religiously affiliated employers, but also any private employer who claimed a religious objection to “paying for” birth control, arguably went too far. People generally don’t like the idea of their employers having that kind of control over their private life, which is why the new legislation in Arizona that I wrote about earlier this week is even more incomprehensible. Then, when Rush Limbaugh opened his mouth, the entire conservative position on this issue went completely downhill and whatever chance they had of changing minds on the subject likely went out the window. Inexplicably, some on the right still dont seem to realize this, and they’ve spent two weeks now parroting Rush and doubling down on the personal attacks against Sandra Fluke. What they don’t seem to realize now is that they’re just talking to an echo chamber, and that they’re doing absolutely nothing to help their cause.

Some Republicans seem to have recognized the problem, and are looking for a way to pull back from the brink:

WASHINGTON — House Republicans, unsure how to proceed, have slowed their efforts to overturn a federal rule requiring employers, including religious institutions, to provide female employees with free health insurance coverage for contraceptives.

While most House Republicans still support legislation to broaden the exemption for religious employers, House Republican leaders are carefully reviewing their options on the issue, which Democrats used to political advantage in the Senate.

The goal of House Republicans has not changed, they said, but they worry about further alienating women in this year’s elections.

(…)

Aides to the House Republican whip, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, said they detected no urgency in taking up legislation. A leadership aide said the speaker was taking “a deliberative approach.”

Republicans in swing districts are particularly eager to defer votes, which they fear could be used to portray them as opponents of reproductive health care for women.

Representative Judy Biggert, Republican of Illinois, said, “We should keep our focus on economic growth and jobs, instead of getting sidetracked by issues that divide us.”

Representative Tom Reed, Republican of New York, disagrees with the president’s policy. But he said: “We have clearly staked out our opposition to it. It’s time to move on to other issues, like jobs and the economy.”

Republicans control the House schedule and could bring legislation to the floor at any time if they agreed on a proposal and saw political benefits in pressing the issue.

Or, they could just let it die, which seems to me to be the smart move politically no matter how much it causes problems with the base.

Whatever they decide to do, though, it’s fairly clear that, at least from a political point of view, the GOP has lost this argument and there is absolutely no political advantage to them in continuing to advance it. In fact, the more they talk about it, the more it’s likely to hurt them with the female and independent voters they are going to need in the core swing states in November.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, Health Care, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JeffG says:
  2. @JeffG:

    There’s at least a good argument that the NY Times Poll oversampled Republicans. And don’t get me started about Rasmussen.

  3. Jay says:

    “People generally don’t like the idea of their employers having that kind of control over their private life..”

    So, allowing an employer not to have to pay for somebody else’s birth control is the equivalent of the employer having control over their employees private life? Makes zero sense Doug.

    If an employee wants birth control pills they can go frigging pay for them. Good grief.

    Know what would be nice? The fucking government butting the hell out and not mandating employers do anything with regard to healthcare coverage for their employees.

    But it looks like, according to the polls, the lemmings are willing to cede even more control to the government in order to get something for “free.” And people snicker and laugh when others point out we’re starting a slow and steady march towards European style socialism.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    You sub-head: The argument over contraceptive coverage mandates has not gone well for conservatives. is quite a good example of droll understatement.

    Komen to Bishops to Virginia to Santorum to Limbaugh. Baby, it just don’t get any better than that.

  5. @Jay:

    Don’t blame me for the fact that the GOP has lost the messaging war. If you want to blame anyone, blame the people who decided that the best way to handle this issue was to attack the personal life of a law student. Once that happened, this debate was over.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Jay:

    Yes, because freedom is all about letting your employer screw you out of basic coverage in your health care plan. That’s why men died on Omaha Beach: so employers could cover Viagra and not birth control pills.

    And you guys are surprised there’s a 20 point gender gap and no one with an IQ above room temperature votes GOP anymore.

  7. NBH says:

    @JeffG:

    Except your article is a lie. They try and obvuscate it, but if you keep reading or look at the actual poll data, those poll numbers aren’t about daily birth control, but about the morning-after pill. In otherwords, it’s standard Lying-for-Jesus from some religious zealots.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    I’m being moderated!

  9. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Even the part about Ms. Fluke’s millionheir amour ???

  10. JeffG says:

    Uh huh.

    Just keep telling yourselves that.

  11. @michael reynolds:

    I cleared it. I think it was the word “screw” that got you put there. On second thought, it was probably “Viagra”

  12. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Why, is there a spam issue with V*agra? I should have just said “penis enl*rgement.”

  13. @michael reynolds:

    It does seem to be a common topic of the messages that actually are spam actually

  14. Scott says:

    This whole argument still points out the problem with Employer-provided healthcare. As long as we have this system where healthcare is part of the employees compensation, the employer is in the job of managing the employee healthcare and the government is in the business of regulating how the employer manages. One thing I don’t understand is why employers want to be in the business of providing health insurance to their employees? This system is one we need to move away from.

  15. Joe says:

    I just wish we’d get this resolved so that I can get my gender reassignment surgery covered.

  16. Kevin says:

    Republicans lost the debate? Pols suggest otherwise. I predict freedom of religion will win out in the end.

  17. anjin-san says:

    So, allowing an employer not to have to pay for somebody else’s birth control is

    Last time I checked, heath coverage was part of one’s job compensation – something earned via work, not a gift from lord to serf…

  18. anjin-san says:

    I predict freedom of religion theocracy will win out in the end.

    FTFY

  19. mantis says:

    If you want to blame anyone, blame the people who decided that the best way to handle this issue was to attack the personal life of a law student. Once that happened, this debate was over.

    Can you blame them, though? Their response is pavlovian. If a civilian offers testimony in support of or against a certain policy, they always, always attack him/her personally. It’s not even a decision, really. They can’t help themselves.

  20. Herb says:

    What this suggests, of course, is that the right made a tactical error when it attempted to frame this as a religious liberty issue.

    Oh, most definitely a tactical error, but a category error too. Catholic hospitals and pharmacies are not just religious institutions. Filling prescriptions is not a religious activity. Providing health insurance to your employees is not a religious activity. Denying contraception coverage to people who want it is not a religious activity.

    I think most people recognize, even on a subconscious level, that allowing religious institutions to make their preferences the law of the land is the exact opposite of religious freedom.

    As to why the GOP made this tactical error? Obviously it stems from their pro-life stance, but more than that, I think it stems from the fact that they know their sympathizers will embrace any specious argument they make without challenge. See Jay’s comment above.

  21. Out of curiosity, to the people arguing that “freedom of religion” prevents someone from complying with the law: Should the Church of Scientology, or any of its associated organizations, be required to provide insurance that includes mental health care?

  22. In one of the early OTB articles on this, I wondered why the Obama administration had pushed the issue to such prominence. I wondered if they were trolling, and if it was worth the risk.

    I was wrong, it was definitely worth the risk for them. It was a strategic coup.

  23. @Timothy Watson:

    We should have a National Health, with nicely obviates all these questions.

  24. Catholic hospitals and pharmacies are not just religious institutions.

    So you’re the one to decide the parameters of what the Christian call to serve entails?

    Last I looked the First Amendment spoke of Freedom of Religion, not freedom of worship.

    And, to tackle something else — how is it that anyone paying some attention to this further erosion of liberty NOT know why/how employers got involved in providing medical insurance???

  25. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Darleen Click:

    “So you’re the one to decide the parameters of what the Christian call to serve entails?”

    Yes, that’s absolutely right. We DO get to decide things in our society that affect other people. We don’t live in an anarchistic state, in which anyone gets to determine that they will or will not follow laws based on whatever religion they happen to have.

    “Last I looked the First Amendment spoke of Freedom of Religion, not freedom of worship.”

    So, you would be supportive of an argument that the devout Muslim man should be only subject to Sharia laws? After all, that’s exactly what their religion says should be the case.

    Somehow I doubt it.

    Irregardless, polling shows that your view is a rump one and the debate has been soundly lost by your side. There’s no more avenue for political movement on this before the election and there’s every indication that after the election there won’t be either. The issue will eventually go to the courts, and if the SC decides the rule is unconstitutional, fine. But until then, it’s the law of the land and you’d be better off getting used to it.

  26. Denying contraception coverage to people who want it is not a religious activity.

    I’m in awe that the refusal of one party to pay for something that another party wants – when the second party is fully capable of getting it on their own dime elsewhere – is tantamount to some sort of heinous denial.

    But hey, Christians don’t get to define what is or is not legit religious exercise anymore. Just some Federal bureaucrat granted The Power of Regulation.

  27. Cycloptichorn says:
    Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 12:33

    Wow, how does all that straw taste?

  28. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Jay:

    If an employee wants birth control pills they can go frigging pay for them. Good grief.

    YEAH !!!! Who do they think they are !!!???!!!

    I hear ya brother!!! AND …

    If an employee wants insulin for diabetes they can go frigging pay for them. Good grief.

    and…

    If an employee wants broken bones fixed they can go frigging pay for them. Good grief.

    and…

    If an employee wants heath care for their family they can go frigging pay for them. Good grief.

    and…

    If an employee wants open hear surgery they can go frigging pay for them. Good grief.

    and…

    If an employee wants to fight cancer they can go frigging pay for them. Good grief.

    and…

    If an American expects the GOP to stand for anyone but the 1%, They can go f’ themselves! Good grief.

    … Because Sosialaiasmm !!!!

    Q. E. D.

  29. anjin-san says:

    So you’re the one to decide the parameters of what the Christian call to serve entails?

    If a religious institution is in the health care business, there do indeed have to be parameters. Can a hospital run by a religious institution turn people it deems to be godless away from the ER? Can it deny prenatal care to pregnant women deemed to have sinful sex lives?

    These seem like idiotic questions, but idiocy is where the right has taken the debate in this country. Freedom of religion does not include the right of one person to impose their religious views on another.

    Health care is a service that is vital to the well being of society. Just as firefighters don’t get to choose who’s houses they will save, cops do not choose which neighborhoods they will protect, and soldiers do not get to choose which battles they will fight in, health care insurers/providers do not get to pick and choose what care will be provided based on religious beliefs.

  30. We should have a National Health, with nicely obviates all these questions.

    Because the NHS and NICE has been such a boon to the Brits. — You might want to see how they save money by refusing PAP smears to women in their early twenties, (and they are NOT allowed to get them privately)

    A few extra dead women a year saves the Gov some $$. Gotta break a few eggs for that omelet you know.

  31. Joe says:

    Nobody here cares about my inability to get my sex change paid for? I know that Sandra Fluke is in my corner, but I guess the rest of you don’t much care.

  32. @Darleen Click:

    what the Christian call to serve entails?

    Is the dividing line between service and a job a paycheck?

    We definitely have a flawed system right now, but it is trying to protect employees, and not parishioners.

    Again, from my perspective all this confusion is just a sign that making “employer health insurance” our solution for “health care” is a bad route. If we believe in health care for everyone, we should provide it, rather than requiring millions of employers to dot every i and cross every t.

  33. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Darleen Click:

    Lame non-response. Address the question of Muslims and Sharia law or admit that your argument is hollow and only for the benefit of people who believe what YOU do.

    The denial of a certain drug or medicine in a otherwise robust insurance plan isn’t an exercise of religion – it is controlling your employee’s life by directing how their compensation can be used. What about the right of an individual to not have their life controlled by a religion they don’t follow? To not be discriminated against by their employer for being of a different belief set than they are?

    The decision to use birth control lies between a woman and her doctor – and nobody else. Arguments that it can be purchased separately are specious; without a compelling reason to force women to do so, it’s likely illegal to discriminate against them in this fashion.

    And, as I’ve said, it IS the law now. And likely will continue to be for some time. You ought to get used to it.

  34. anjin-san says:

    I’m in awe that the refusal of one party to pay for something that another party wants

    What party of “total compensation” do you not understand? Employment based health care insurance is earned, repeat earned, by an employee’s work. It’s not a Christmas present. It’s not a perk that can be yanked back at an employers whim.

  35. Freedom of religion does not include the right of one person to impose their religious views on another.

    Yep, that goes both ways. In a society based on liberty, any business transaction, both parties get to consent.

    I have a vegan restaurant – you can come in and eat, but you cannot force me to offer up a beef hamburger. Take it or leave it.

    No one forces you to take a job at a Catholic hospital. You can look at what they offer as part of their compensation package and accept it or look for work elsewheres.

    Funny thing, not all business offer the same compensation packages. Some businesses don’t offer sick time off, some offer differing ways, if any, of paid vacation time. No one forces you to take a job.

  36. @Darleen Click:

    I prefer data on National Health outcomes, rather than scare mongering:

    How does US healthcare compare to the rest of the world?

    They do note there:

    During the campaign, the NHS became the butt of increasingly outlandish political attacks in the US as Republicans and conservative campaigners railed against Britain’s “socialist” system as part of a tussle to defeat the proposals.

    My question would be “were you misled by those outlandish attacks, or were you part of the effort?”

  37. Employment based health care insurance is earned, repeat earned, by an employee’s work. It’s not a Christmas present.

    And if you don’t like the package offered don’t take the job.

    It is profoundly dishonest to take a job then lobby the government to force your employer to provide you something that they didn’t when you accepted the job.

  38. Herb says:

    @Darleen Click:

    “So you’re the one to decide the parameters of what the Christian call to serve entails?”

    No, but I think that can interpreted in many ways by many different individuals. Why this particular interpretation should be enshrined in law, I haven’t figured that out yet.

    The first amendment allows for the freedom of religion by not leaning too heavily in favor of one religion or the other.

    “I’m in awe that the refusal of one party to pay for something that another party wants – when the second party is fully capable of getting it on their own dime elsewhere – is tantamount to some sort of heinous denial.”

    This is what I mean by “specious arguments.” Who is the first party? Who is the second party? The way I see it, if I’m paying my insurance premium, I’m paying for what I get from my insurance plan. Isn’t that the way it really works?

  39. @Darleen Click:

    No one forces you to take a job at a Catholic hospital. You can look at what they offer as part of their compensation package and accept it or look for work elsewheres.

    That is not the law. We have national rules on employment going back 100 years (starting first with child labor laws in the 1840s).

  40. Hey Norm says:

    I’d love to get away from employer provided health insurance. I believe the small businesses that would enable would be staggering.
    But don’t kid yourselves…the Republicans would just attack women’s access to health care through that system. You cannot look at the aggregate of the Republican efforts in this regard and think it’s anything but a war being waged against women.

  41. Herb says:

    @Darleen Click:

    “It is profoundly dishonest to take a job then lobby the government….”

    Said Congress to the Catholic Church….

  42. anjin-san says:

    And if you don’t like the package offered don’t take the job.

    Great, so if you are applying for a job at my company, I can say “We are offering you the job, but I am paying you 75% of what a man makes for the same work. You don’t like that? Fine, don’t take the job.”

  43. James says:

    Republicans in swing districts are particularly eager to defer votes, which they fear could be used to portray them as opponents of reproductive health care for women.

    Well, maybe they should stop opposing reproductive healthcare for women.

  44. anjin-san says:

    It is profoundly dishonest to take a job then lobby the government to force your employer to provide you something that they didn’t when you accepted the job.

    Let’s test your intellectual honesty. Would it have been “profoundly dishonest” for workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to lobby the government for safer working conditions? After all, they knew that building was a rat trap when they accepted their jobs…

  45. Ben Wolf says:

    @Darleen Click:

    It is profoundly dishonest to take a job then lobby the government to force your employer to provide you something that they didn’t when you accepted the job.

    The employer isn’t providing it, the insurance company is at the employee’s expense.

    Stop lying.

  46. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Perhaps we should all take a moment here to be profoundly grateful that Darleen has had the good taste to refrain from remixing her famous cartoon by replacing the Statue of Liberty with the Virgin Mary.

  47. Ben Wolf says:

    The employee pays for their insurance. The insuance company with which the employer contracts provides it. What right-extremists are really upset about is that the federal government has stepped in and ruled employers can no longer get between employees and their health coverage.

    But right-extremists will continue lying about it and falsely claiming employers are being robbed. It’s been said before, but when you have to lie and lie and lie to support your tribe, it ought to be a big wake-up call that your tribe has something seriously wrong with it.

  48. anjin-san says:

    I have a vegan restaurant – you can come in and eat, but you cannot force me to offer up a beef hamburger. Take it or leave it.

    Straw man. The real issue is that the restaurant owner can’t say “Sorry ni**er, we don’t serve your kind here.” The owner also can’t tell tell a health inspector, “buzz off pal, I will clean the kitchen when I feel like it.”

  49. swbarnes2 says:

    @Darleen Click:

    So you’re the one to decide the parameters of what the Christian call to serve entails?

    This is the “religious freedom” Catholic hospitals currently have, and want more of:

    I’ll never forget this; it was awful—I had one of my partners accept this patient at 19 weeks. The pregnancy was in the vagina. It was over… . And so he takes this patient and transferred her to [our] tertiary medical center, which I was just livid about, and, you know, “we’re going to save the pregnancy.” So of course, I’m on call when she gets septic, and she’s septic to the point that I’m pushing pressors on labor and delivery trying to keep her blood pressure up, and I have her on a cooling blanket because she’s 106 degrees. And I needed to get everything out. And so I put the ultrasound machine on and there was still a heartbeat, and [the ethics committee] wouldn’t let me because there was still a heartbeat. This woman is dying before our eyes. I went in to examine her, and I was able to find the umbilical cord through the membranes and just snapped the umbilical cord and so that I could put the ultrasound—“Oh look. No heartbeat. Let’s go.” She was so sick she was in the [intensive care unit] for about 10 days and very nearly died… . She was in DIC [disseminated intravascular coagulopathy]… . Her bleeding was so bad that the sclera, the white of her eyes, were red, filled with blood… . And I said, “I just can’t do this. I can’t put myself behind this. This is not worth it to me.” That’s why I left.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2636458/?tool=pubmed

  50. jukeboxgrad says:

    darleen:

    No one forces you to take a job.

    And no one forces you to hire a BC user. If a religious institution thinks that it’s immoral to fund BC use, then it can and should refrain from hiring BC users. This is a simple solution to the problem they are whining about.

    These institutions are perfectly content to hire BC users, even though they are then paying salaries which effectively fund BC use (and there is no moral distinction between funding BC use via salary as compared with via an employee benefit; they are both forms of compensation). They already have this moral problem, which they are making no effort to address. Here’s the most parsimonious explanation: they don’t care that much. Which means that no one else should take their complaint seriously.

  51. dennis says:

    It is the role of OUR government to “. . . promote the General Welfare . . .” Our government (supposedly) is “We, the People”; consequently, WE have an interest in ensuring the health and welfare of our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, etc. This most assuredly includes unobstructed access to contraception for medical and, yes, birth control reasons. But let’s hypothesize about two possibilities.

    1) What if the biblical accounts aren’t as genuine and authoritative as we would believe? What if the Rapture doesn’t hit, Jesus doesn’t return, or Armageddon doesn’t occur? Ever? That is the crux of U.S. Christian belief that has no basis in empirical evidence and, therefore, the government has no legal obligation to secure and promote the general welfare of its citizens based on the belief in this. That is not to say that government is absolved from protecting the freedoms of those who do believe it to practice.

    2) Barring the Rapture, Armageddon, Jesus’ return, self-annihilation through nuclear war, despoiling the earth’s resources to extinction or any other such event, imagine the technological evolution and horizons mankind will achieve. If we continue on this continuum of technological development, medical science alone will render this argument very silly and compare it to a tribe of Neanderthals arguing over the technical methods of hunting and gathering food.

    This is not to demean faith; who knows what’s out there? But it is not the government’s role to restrict any segment of its citizenry from enjoying the “blessings of liberty” based on an empirically-unproven belief of NOT ALL OF US.

  52. dennis says:

    I’m probably gonna get smoked for that one.

  53. LBascom says:

    I just don’t know how the human race survived without you champions of woman kind taking care of it. If it weren’t for you brave and noble people forcing the Catholic church to take responsibility for women’s reproductive health, heaven knows what would happen to the poor helpless and powerless wretches.

    I applaud you, I stand in awe at your untouchable sense of humanity and unselfish willingness to assign personal responsibility where it truly belongs, on someone… nay, everyone else.

    POWER THROUGH DEPENDENCE!! EQUALITY BY SUBJUGATION! I AM WOMAN. HEAR ME ROAR whimper.

  54. Stan says:

    @Darleen Click: “they [the National Health] save money by refusing PAP smears to women in their early twenties, (and they are NOT allowed to get them privately)”

    This factoid sounds absurd. Where did you get it?

    On a larger point, Canada and most countries in western Europe have had some form of universal health coverage for a long time. All of these countries are democracies and they all have conservative parties. None of the conservative parties in these countries propose scrapping their health plans and replacing it with the one we’ve had until passage of the Affordable Care Act. The Massachusetts Republican party does not call for repeal of the universal insurance plan passed during the Romney administration. Hawaii also has near-universal health insurance, achieved in a different way. The Hawaiian Republican party supports it, or at least doesn’t oppose it. Does this tell you something?

  55. Brummagem Joe says:

    Basically Doug is correct, but that this was an argument Republicans weren’t going to win was obvious from day one. So why did they persist? A deathwish? Either way they are not going to be allowed to forget it anymore than they are going to be allowed to forget their votes against equal pay for women; the Ryan plan to scrap Medicare/Medicaid; the willingness to let the auto industry go down the tubes; and all the other nonsenses of the last three years. Anyone who has seen that new Obama campaign video will know all these items figure prominently and are obviously going to be major campaign themes.

  56. LBascom says:

    Dennis, what if there is no God, no creator? The Declaration of Independence has it all wrong, and there are no unalienable rights?

    Well, gee, I guess you do what the strongest man in the region tells you to do. Your rights come from man, and from man they can be removed.

    Careful what you wish for.

  57. James says:

    @LBascom: For you

  58. sam says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m being moderated!

    The spamadenator thingy doesn’t like rhymes with Niagra.

  59. sam says:

    @Kevin:

    Republicans lost the debate? Pols suggest otherwise. I predict freedom of religion will win out in the end.

    You’ll lose.

  60. Roddy Boyd says:

    Ok, Let’s grant the premise that the fight is lost.

    What does victory and defeat look like?

    Is it a formal surrender? Do people who disagree with the premise of Sandra Fluke and the political organization behind her–we can agree that she is the thin end of a political wedge, that she is a handy “everywoman” contrivance, correct?–formally acknowledge the essential veracity of that set of views? Like those who disagreed over integration or forcefully standing up to Communism have often (but not always) been forced to address their fundamental mistakeness.

    In other words, per you, the disagreement with straw people and transparently partisan agendas is to be secondary to the calculus of short-term political benefit (as determined solely by a media and a political movement wholly sympatheic to Fluke.)

    In other words, people who call “BS!” need to put a sock in it lest they….what exactly?

    What if you legitimately think that Fluke has it screamingly, unambiguously wrong? Should you simply shut up because a talk-radio host described her rudely and inaccurately? (There’s no proof she’s sexually prolific–nor would it conceivably matter in the least–but there are ample indications she is a politically-driven liar.)

    Are Jeff G. and other’s like him–and I do suppose there has to be some sort of redefintion of classically liberal since what you see on Protein Wisdom is quite different to this place–simply to surrender in the face of one party’s obsession with forcing political conflict over the imposition of political mandates in traditionally private contracts?

    Just asking.

  61. sam says:

    @LBascom:

    If it weren’t for you brave and noble people forcing the Catholic church to take responsibility for women’s reproductive health, heaven knows what would happen to the poor helpless and powerless wretches.

    Yeah, it was sooo solicitous of the health of young boys.

  62. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    So why did they persist? A deathwish?

    It’s because the entire Tea Party/wingnut platform can be distilled to: They are taking from Me, so They must be stopped.

  63. anjin-san says:

    Dennis, what if there is no God, no creator? The Declaration of Independence has it all wrong,

    Please show me the word “God” in the Declaration of Independence (or the Constitution).

    I am a Buddhist. Please let the words of the founding fathers stand on their own, and stop trying to shove your interpretation of them down my throat. Its a bit of an infringement on my religious freedom.

    The founding fathers were bright guys. They worded things the way they did for a reason.

  64. dennis says:

    @LBascom:

    I’m not wishing for anything, LB. I threw those out there as food for thought and illustrate how really asinine is the whole argument. The government shouldn’t be in the business of dictating how faith is practiced or how it is not practiced; simply, it is to secure the responsibilities, rights and privileges of citizenship to each and every citizen, unbeholden to any religious creed or dictate.

    It is absurd of you to imply that, in the absence of a divine creator, those who do not believe in one rule according to strongest and fittest. The fallacy of your argument lies in the fact that many of those who DO rule and behave accordingly profess faith and religion. So, you can’t reconcile your argument against the hypothesis. Many people who do not profess any religion do what is morally and ethically right every day. But we’re straying off topic.

  65. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Roddy Boyd:

    In other words, per you, the disagreement with straw people and transparently partisan agendas is to be secondary to the calculus of short-term political benefit (as determined solely by a media and a political movement wholly sympatheic to Fluke.)

    Actually it has to do with living in 2012 and not 1912. And for someone who is concerned about strawmen you’re quite good at manufacturing them yourself.

  66. An Interested Party says:

    Just keep telling yourselves that.

    We don’t have to as women and independents will tell Republicans that in November…

    This whole argument still points out the problem with Employer-provided healthcare.

    Yet another good reason for a univeral single-payer system…

    I was wrong, it was definitely worth the risk for them. It was a strategic coup.

    Bingo…sometimes the President’s political enemies almost make it too easy for him…

    Nobody here cares about my inability to get my sex change paid for?

    Stick a pair of scissors down your pants…you could get the process started nicely all by yourself…

    If it weren’t for you brave and noble people forcing arguing that the Catholic church insurance companies to take responsibility should provide for women’s reproductive health…

    Happy to be of help…

  67. LBascom says:

    Please show me the word “God” in the Declaration of Independence (or the Constitution).

    Look it up yourself, I’m not your secretary.

    It is absurd of you to imply that, in the absence of a divine creator, those who do not believe in one rule according to strongest and fittest

    I’m just pointing out that your inalienable rights don’t come from man or mans government. The president doesn’t give you the right to freely exercise your religion, and he doesn’t have the authority to prohibit the free exercise of your religion. Neither congress nor the supreme court. If Catholic charities want no part of providing abortions, as it goes against their conscience, no one can force them.

    Well, not on legal constitutional grounds anyway…

  68. DRS says:

    Dennis – the Rapture is not in the Bible, even though that would shock people who love the whole Left Behind series of books, films, etc. Just FYI.

  69. dennis says:

    @LBascom:

    “I’m just pointing out that your inalienable rights don’t come from man or mans government.”

    Considering the fact that the document you are quoting is man-written, how do you know this?

  70. sam says:

    @LBascom:

    I’m just pointing out that your inalienable rights don’t come from man or mans government.

    Whether that’s true or not, what is true is that only man and man’s government can guarantee and enforce those rights in this life.

  71. dennis says:

    @DRS:

    I know that, DRS. The concept is from 1 Thessalonians 4. I am well-versed in the bible. As you can see, I’m experiencing a critical-thinking-induced crisis of faith! Lol.

  72. anjin-san says:

    Look it up yourself, I’m not your secretary.

    In other words, since it is not there, you can’t show it to me, but you just can’t bring yourself to admit it.

  73. anjin-san says:

    I’m just pointing out that your inalienable rights don’t come from man or mans government.

    If you look at the history of nations where any religion, Christian or otherwise, hold power over the government, the rights of man tended to count for very little.

    The rights of man became ascendent when our Constitution became the foundation for government and law in our newly formed nation. This was an act of men, not an act of God.

    The world “God” does not appear in the Constitution. The meaning of “Creator” is far more open to the interpretation of individuals. As the founders intended.

  74. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Darleen Click:

    As most stuff the American right thinks they know about Europe (Dutch euthanasia anyone?) this is complete BS.

    It is true that the NHS does not cover PAP smears (or rather, the superior HPV test that is standard in the UK) for woman under 25. They claim that cervical cancer in woman under 25 is so rare that it wouldn’t be cost-effective and cite studies that show no increase in mortality after they abolished the test. Certainly that may be disputed.

    However, no one prevents you from getting it privately as can be seen here for example. How would they? The UK is a free market economy.

    Which would mean that woman

    -under 25 with health insurance fare better in the US,
    -those under 25 without health insurance fare about equal in the US and the UK and
    -everyone over 25 is equally or better off in the UK.

    And all of this assumes that you don’t believe the NHS data on the usefulness of tests under 25. Not exactly a good example of the socialist hellhole UK imho.

  75. Janis Gore says:

    Mandate, schmandate. I want to be on the medical team before which men prove that they really need and truly want Viagra.

  76. george says:

    Again, from my perspective all this confusion is just a sign that making “employer health insurance” our solution for “health care” is a bad route. If we believe in health care for everyone, we should provide it, rather than requiring millions of employers to dot every i and cross every t.

    That’s basically it. The route Obama has taken is a poor one. There are a lot of good models for universal healthcare and private healthcare mixtures which have worked well in other countries; what being offered seems like a half-hearted effort designed to fail.

  77. An Interested Party says:

    The route Obama has taken is a poor one.

    I’m curious to know which other route would have made it through Congress…

    …what being offered seems like a half-hearted effort designed to fail.

    Aha! You’ve discovered the liberal conspiracy…

  78. G.A. says:

    I predict freedom of religion theocracy will win out in the end.

    Yup, a Satanic masterpice.

    We are well on our way.

    And no I am not just blaming lib/athiests but you may still vote me down, I want you to feel good about yourselves for a moment.

  79. G.A. says:

    I’m curious to know which other route would have made it through Congress…

    lol., you are acting like one did.

    Aha! You’ve discovered the liberal conspiracy… P…..

  80. James says:

    @G.A.: Gee that’s funny, because I’m pretty sure heatlhcare reform happened.

  81. Roddy Boyd says:

    Brum….Joe:

    I’m not sure I take your point. There is no straw men or charictature in my post; I offered no “either/or” analysis.

    I simply said that Sandra Fluke is an operative with a transparent agenda that is both congruent with and useful to, the Democratic party. Similarly, what does defeat look like here? Is all argument against the governmental imposition of mandates problematic, or, in the language of the post’s title, a political loser.

    Shorter version: I question the premise.

    You don’t. Fair enough.

    A snarky sort would note that the 1912/2012 bit is straw like–the cute attempt to frame this as a disgareement over birth control per se (I am big fan of the stuff, in all its forms)–as opposed to using government authority to needlessly broaden its regulation of private contracts.

  82. An Interested Party says:

    …as opposed to using government authority to needlessly broaden its regulation of private contracts.

    It is no strawman to mention 1912 in regards to the above statement…despite what some might not like regarding private contracts, we live in 2012 and the government regulates health care…

  83. Jenos Idanian says:

    The consistent message here is this: no one is allowed to not support the liberal’s agenda here.

    Republicans didn’t try to shut down Planned Parenthood, just stop giving them taxpayer money. They were demonized and defeated.

    The Komen foundation didn’t call for Planned Parenthood to be shut down, just wanted to stop giving them money. They were attacked and demonized and essentially blackmailed into resuming their support.

    And here, the Catholic Church’s position is pretty simple. “It’s literally none of our business if our employees use or don’t use birth control. We hold it to be a very serious sin, and have for ages. In this case, we don’t want to in any way support or subsidize it.”

    In all three cases, the parties aren’t trying to stop anyone from doing anything. They simply want to abstain from supporting things.

    And they are not allowed to abstain.

    Toss in the fights over gay marriage. People, groups, businesses were not allowed to stand on the sidelines. They had to declare their support for gay marriage, or be declared an enemy and treated as such.

    Remember how liberals mocked Bush for his simplistic “you’re either with us or you’re against us?” That’s precisely what is going on here — if you don’t actively support their side, you’re an enemy. And enemies must be brought to heel or destroyed.

    That tactic works really well — until it doesn’t. Until one resists, and survives. And then it comes crashing down very quickly and very brutally. All it takes is for the bully to pick the wrong target — the target with the will to stand up, and the resources to resist. And then those the bully has cowed in the past see weakness… and they aren’t so cowed any more.

  84. Pablo says:

    @anjin-san:

    So, you’ve never read the Declaration of Independence? And you’re making proclamations about it?

    I think it’s time you introduced yourself to that document. http://tinyurl.com/eabme

    You’ll find that both “God” and a “Creator” are both mentioned, the latter in one of the most often quoted sentences in American history.

    Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is really not bliss.

  85. Janis Gore says:

    Breitbart is here? Did he bring that snotwad O’Keefe with him?

  86. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Toss in the fights over gay marriage. People, groups, businesses were not allowed to stand on the sidelines. They had to declare their support for gay marriage, or be declared an enemy and treated as such. ”

    Yes, all those good “Christians,” just trying to stand on the sidelines, doing nothing — except passing constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.

    Does it hurt to be so stupid?

  87. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “All it takes is for the bully to pick the wrong target — the target with the will to stand up, and the resources to resist.”

    And in moron Jwest’s mind, the bully is a college student trying to make sure she and her fellow students have access to birth control under an insurance plan they pay for. Their poor, innocent victim is a multi-national organization with billions of dollars in resources that has spent the last three decades engaged in a criminal conspiracy to cover up the mass rape of innocent children.

    But then, to the JWests of the world, the people with power are always right, and are always the victims of those icky have-nots. It’s not that JWest actually is one of them — one suspects his great job in the oil industry involves asking “which pump?” a lot — but that he believes that if he sucks up hard enough, they’ll let him into the club.

  88. anjin-san says:

    @ Pablo

    Yes, I was thinking of the absence of the word God in Constitution, (the document that actually has the force of law). It’s been a while since high school civics.

    I did mention “Creator” at some length, so I am not sure what you are referring to there, and I think I already expressed my view that “Creator” does not necessarily equate to “God” At any rate, the line “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”, written by a deist, is something that does not jump out at me as an endorsement of Christianity. And I note your editing of Jefferson’s words.

    .

  89. Good luck ,Great post,y love you!Thanks for the info it had cleared out too many things in my mind. Your recommendations are really good.

  90. anjin-san says:

    @ WR

    I think I can tell us what Jenos is trying to say using very few words

    “Please pay attention to me, oh please, oh please.”

  91. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Janis Gore: I have a better idea Janis. I want to introduce a “Slut Tax” I mean “Wild Oats Tax” on condoms. Any purchaser must show photo ID, all transactions will be recorded AND posted on the internet so that all of our pure and innocent virgin Christain daughters can look and see if that nice, upright, young man who asked her out is as nice and upright as he seems to be.

  92. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    We hold it to be a very serious sin, and have for ages. In this case, we don’t want to in any way support or subsidize it.”

    But that position is logically incoherent. Money, and thus wages, are fungible. If they hire and pay people using birth control (i.e. woman), they will be support and subsidize birth control because the money paying for it will be provided by them. And the churches know that. Personally I don’t think honouring their need for a pretence of non-involvement is a question of religious freedom.

    The only question remaining is whether an employer should be allowed to impose a de facto wage reduction (“pay twice for it”) on people of whose private life they disapprove. Most people don’t think so.

  93. G.A. says:

    @G.A.: Gee that’s funny, because I’m pretty sure health care reform happened.

    Ya it happened lol….Poop happens, sad that only the 20%er’s wanted it. What does that make you when forcibly and illegally jam something down someones pie hole? And then tell them it was for there own good? lol… and then make them pay for it? And then call them a racist…

    Sigh….and double sigh…

  94. G.A. says:

    ****It I am willing to pitch in for birth control for all liberals but I want a daily test or video evidance to make sure that they use it and they must use it every day!!!! And no I will not pay for any dammed abortion pills or sex changes, you can save up for that.

  95. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Roddy Boyd:

    A snarky sort would note that the 1912/2012 bit is straw like–the cute attempt to frame this as a disgareement over birth control per se

    I guess one man’s snark is another man’s reality. This is an issue of access to birth control and not contract law in the context of a 2012 (not 1912) healthcare system that widely regulated and funded by govt.You obviously don’t like this (hard to know why since your parents either are or shortly will be recipients of Medicare) but as you observed reality has won the argument. The wider reality of course is that we live in an administrative state and these kind of kerfuffles are going to arise from time to time as rightwing ideologists of the cynical variety attempt to exploit the gullibility of ideologists of the stupid variety who think a return to a state of nature in governmental terms is either possible or desirable.

  96. Nikki says:

    @LBascom:

    If it weren’t for you brave and noble people forcing the Catholic church to take responsibility for women’s reproductive health, heaven knows what would happen to the poor helpless and powerless wretches.

    More of them would survive because they are now receiving adequate health care.

  97. I Callahan says:

    I’m sorry, but even in a bearded Spock universe, there’s no way 94% of the people in this country are for demanding that the Catholic church (and it’s ministries) being forced to supply birth control for its employees. Whether this fits certain moderates’ pre-conceived worldview or not.

  98. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Ebenezer Arvigenius: So, because the Church’s position doesn’t meet your high standards, they have no right to declare their principles and stand by them?

    They’re not asking for their will to be imposed on the nation. They’re asking to be left alone, to believe as they will and act according to their beliefs. They simply want to abstain — or, to use a phrase Obama is quite familiar with, “vote ‘present.'”

    On the flip side, if contraception is now a matter of public policy, then why can’t the government simply decide that condoms are the preferred method, and refuse to subsidize any other forms? Condoms, when used properly, are exceptionally effective. And, unlike other forms of contraception, also greatly reduce the chances of transmitting diseases as well. In the interest of using public funding the most efficiently and… er… “getting the most bang for our buck,” if you’ll pardon the expression, simply make condoms available for all. If you want your “Cadillac” contraceptive plans of pills and implants and surgical procedures, you can pay for it yourself.

    Finally, I’m tired of the “denied access” BS. If “I can’t get someone else to pay for it” counts as “denial of a fundamental right,” then I want someone to buy me a gun. The 2nd Amendment says I’m entitled to keep and bear arms, but I’m being denied the free exercise of that right because I can’t afford one. And I think I want a printing press, too…

  99. MBunge says:

    “If “I can’t get someone else to pay for it” counts as “denial of a fundamental right,””

    As about a billion people have pointed out so far, we are talking about health insurance policies that people either pay for receive as part of their compensation for work.

    Mike

  100. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @MBunge:

    It’s deliberate, Mike. He knows he’s wrong; he’s just kicking the hornet’s nest for his own perverse pleasure. He banks on the difficulty people have with letting outrageous lies go unchallenged. Sure, most people figure out what he’s up to in short order and stop responding to his troll bait, but there’s always going to be someone who can’t resist.

    I’m guessing his parents had an absolutely awful time with his toilet training, too. A steaming pantload is impossible to ignore.

  101. anjin-san says:

    It’s a reasonable bet the Jenos has neither a job, nor a girlfriend/wife. I don’t think we are going to be able to explain any of this to him.

  102. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MBunge: Split all the hairs you want; it’s not the workers who negotiate the terms of the coverage, who cut and sign the checks…

    And it is that level of involvement that the Church is arguing violates its principles. What the worker does with their income is entirely their business; it’s when the Church is directly involved that they say “no.”

    What no one wants to mention is the Church’s last resort — simply take their ball and go home. They can shut down all these entities entirely.

    Look what happened when Catholic Charities were ordered to place adoptions with gay couples. The Church didn’t demand that the law change to forbid gay adoptions, just that they not be forced to do so. When that happened, the Church simply got out of the adoption business entirely. Which was a great boon to orphans in those states.

    Anyone know what percentage of hospitals in the US are Catholic?

  103. LBascom says:

    Jenos Idanian ,

    The people you are arguing with want to shut down all these entities entirely.

    Whenever you hear “single payer system”, think European style national healthcare. It’s a socialist wet dream.

    Don’t play their game, don’t surrender your neighbors rights.

  104. dennis says:

    @LBascom:

    I don’t know, LB. Single payer, in which costs are distributed at a lesser amount per tax-paying individual, sounds sensible to me. As opposed to the billions we are spending now, and will continue to spend in unpaid ER and other med expenses.

    And I’m no socialist. You guys need to come to reality before we take ourselves over the cliff.

  105. anjin-san says:

    Looks like Darleen has fled back into the friendly confines of her own little right wing rant site, where she can spend her time shouting into the echo chamber…

  106. An Interested Party says:

    This thread has proven that the GOP is not alone in losing this argument…its conservative fellow travelers have also failed miserably…

  107. LBascom says:

    anjin-san , go to proteinwisdom.com and advance the world’s intellegence with your wisdom!

    You wouldn’t want to be accused of hording wisdom in your echo chamber, would you?

  108. Brummagem Joe says:

    @LBascom:

    anjin-san , go to proteinwisdom.com and advance the world’s intellegence with your wisdom!

    Are there any sites you can go to that will advance your spelling ability?

    Whenever you hear “single payer system”, think European style national healthcare. It’s a socialist wet dream.

    Actually the European single payer systems take various forms but share one common characteristic….they all cost half what ours does. Since you obviously love to pay over the odds car salesmen must welcome you with open arms.

  109. Seriously LB, when other countries have similar outcomes and spend half as much, that should make you stop and think hard. I mean there might be a reason our system is “better” in a practical sense, but that should be explained. Retreats to “but, but, socialism!” do not do that.

    And FWIW I haven’t heard good explanations for why we are better – just excuses for why we are worse … like “but, but, minorities!”

  110. anjin-san says:

    You wouldn’t want to be accused of hording wisdom in your echo chamber,

    I’m a centrist Democrat commenting on a Republican blog that is center/right. Which echo chamber are you referring to?

    I know its confusing for you because a lot of people here don’t have “Everything I know I learned from Fox News” tattooed on their foreheads, but try to cope.

  111. G.A. says:

    I’m a centrist Democrat commenting on a Republican blog that is center/right. Which echo chamber are you referring to?

    lol I believe you believe what you are but a center/right blog?

    gay rights gay rights gay rights………..abortion rights abortion rights abortion rights…..Rush sucks Rush sucks Rush sucks….evolution is our gospel evolution is our gospel
    evolution is our gospel…..racist racist racist….Jon Stewart Jon Stewart Jon Stewart….

    lol see echo chamber echo chamber echo chamber….

  112. jukeboxgrad says:

    LBascom:

    go to proteinwisdom.com and advance the world’s intellegence with your wisdom!

    Been there, done that, many times, many years ago. See here. That’s from 2005, and you can see it only because of the magic of google cache. Search for my name on that page.

    Jeff Goldstein is a dishonest hack. If you dare to show that he is wrong, he will ban you and delete your comments. What you can see via that link is a long rant he addressed to me, where he describes me as a “lefty serial-agitator.” That rant of his is enough to establish that I posted many comments there.

    Now try to find that comment of his, or any of my comments, on his actual site (either via a regular google search or via his own search feature). You will find nothing. Why? Because some of his archives are gone.

    You should go ask him why. I’m sure he will give you some impressive technical mumbo-jumbo about how the dog ate his homework and keeping complete archives online is just too hard. But I don’t think that’s the real reason. I think the real reason is that his history is so embarrassing to him, so he tries to hide the worst parts.

    what you see on Protein Wisdom is quite different to this place

    Yes, because this place is not run by cowards who ban folks just for proving they are wrong, and then hide their shameful history by taking large portions of their archives offline.

    Just for the sake of comparison, notice that what I posted here in 2005 can be easily found (example). Go ask your hero Jeff why he won’t let you see what I posted on his site in 2005. This exercise might help you learn something about how “Protein Wisdom is quite different to this place.”

  113. G.A. says:

    jukeboxgrad, that sucks. I would hardly ever agree with you but I know you put a lot of effort into explaining your positions with much depth.

    They are pretty good around here about not banning even the craziest fools:) Unless they threaten people I think,I have been around here for a long time and can only remember like two regular commenters that got it, it could be more, I have a bad memory for some things.

  114. jukeboxgrad says:

    I know you put a lot of effort into explaining your positions with much depth.

    Thanks for the compliment.

    But what you observed is exactly why I got banned: because I explained my position and backed it carefully with references.

    Jeff Goldstein is in good company, though. I had the same experience with these other fine wingnuts: John Hinderaker, Ed Morrisey and Tom Maguire. With those first two, it’s like what Goldstein did: the old archives are completely gone. With Maguire, the archives are there, but he deleted a bunch of my comments.

    All those folks have a problem when the wrong kind of person shows up “explaining your positions with much depth.” It takes work to create a real echo chamber, but I personally witnessed how they go about doing it.