Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, February 8th, 2012.

Frum on a Limb

Obama Administration

Those of you who enjoyed David Frum’s takedown of Charles “The Bell Curve” Murray will want to read Frum’s new piece, “What the Founders Would Tell Charles Murray.”

Unrelated, but this is so cute:

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Contraception: A New Third Rail?

Obama Administration

Last night Rachel Maddow argued that banning contraception is a losing issue, even in Mississippi.

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Rachel makes some of the same points about the HHS rules on contraception as part of employee benefit packages as Sarah Posner

Obama’s greatest sin, in this view: violating the religious beliefs of the Catholic hierarchy. Not the beliefs or practices of lay Catholics, or the Catholic and non-Catholic employees of Catholic institutions.

The fact is, the enormous majority of Catholic women have used birth control. Apparently a whopping majority of American Catholic lay women quietly have decided the bishops ain’t gonna go through labor and raise the baby, so they don’t get to make the rules.

However, Joan Walsh writes,

I knew the president’s decision would be controversial, but I underestimated the firestorm he would face. Since 98 percent of Catholics practice forms of contraception forbidden by the church at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control, I assumed many of them would speak out in favor of the new regulations. How could they expect the president to follow church teachings if they did not?

I was wrong. Too many Catholics are insisting that while they may personally disagree with the church on contraception, they defend the bishops’ opposition to the HHS moves as a matter of “religious liberty.” Others are silent. But silence lets the most right-wing forces of reaction prevail. It’s time for the 98 percent to speak up.

What cognitive dissonance hath wrought. But I suspect the silent ones will pay no more attention to the bishops in the voting booth than they do in the bedroom.

Further, I question whether standing up to the bishops would hurt Obama among non-Catholic religious voters who might otherwise vote for him. I suspect most Protestants and Jews respect the Catholic bishops about as much as they respect telemarketers.

So why does anyone care what the bishops think? Republicans are trying to make an issue out of the bishops, but Republicans seem to have entered a suicide pact on a lot of issues lately.

There’s a lot of talk abut whether President Obama will walk back the HHS decision for political reasons. I personally think he would lose more support than he would gain by doing so. The people screaming about it aren’t likely to vote for him anyway, and I think everybody else would be disappointed if he backed down. As the recent Komen for the Fail debacle showed us, a whole lot of people out there are getting fed up with letting a small bunch of screaming jack-booted whackjobs dictate public policy that impacts everyone.

See also:

Obama Weighed Religious Politics Before Contraceptive Decision

Public Health Includes Women

Many Catholic Universities, Hospitals Already Cover Contraception In Their Health Insurance Plans

Catholics, the Contraception Mandate, and Public Opinion

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World War I Veterans, 1860?-2012


The very last veteran of World War I has died.

At ease, troops. Well done.

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