Catholic Church and health care reform

I certainly get that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church wants the health care reform bill to subsidize abortions as little as possible.  Fair point.  What is beyond ridiculous is that based on this "pro-life" opposition they are willing to kill the whole effort that, no matter the flaws, will bring health insurance to millions more Americans and thus indisputably save lives.  Actually, I bet a little number crunching would likely find that extending health insurance saves far more lives than subsidizing insurance for the working poor leads to abortions.   Even with coverage, most people do not seem to want to put an abortion on their health insurance.   I find this infuriating:

Instead of staying neutral or remaining quiet about their concerns, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a grassroots campaign to oppose health reform,
sending out bulletin inserts and fliers to every diocese in the country
and urging priests to speak out from the pulpit last Sunday. In
addition, every bishop was urged to contact the congressional members
in their diocese and insist that they vote against health reform. 

It's almost as if they Catholic Church has entirely turned its back on its history of concern for social justice and is becoming little more than an arm of the Republican party. And now that they've gotten their way are they going to fight to ensure that million more Americans will have health insurance?  No!  From Yglesias:

Even if no House Republicans could be persuaded to vote “yes” then
surely single-issue anti-abortion activists will support it, right?
Wrong! With the exception of Democrats for Life, pro-life organizations
are praising Stupak but denouncing the bill anyway, citing imaginary provisions to euthanize seniors. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent out a press release urging passage of the Stupak amendment, but no release urging passage of the amended bill. 

Pathetic.  Maybe it's time for me to join one of those renegade Episcopal churches the Catholic church wants to suck up.

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What “Conservatives” believe

So, after a recent Gallup poll, Charles Krauthammer (I've not enough time to debunk all the fallacies and misinterpretions in the column) and some other not particularly bright individuals have been crowing about what a conservative country this is because on the recent poll, self-identified conservatives outnumbered moderates and liberals 40 to 36 to 20.  The problem with using these data to conclude that America is a conservative country is the fact that most people have almost no idea what it actually means to be conservative (or liberal, but especially conservative).  All they know is that they are a white Southern man, so they must be conservative, or they hate socialism, or that big government is bad, or something equally nebulous. A solid plurality of "conservatives" actually support increasing spending on social security and on public schools and keeping welfare spending the same or increasing it.  Not exactly the shrinking of government Krauthammer and all the right-wing pundits would have you believe.  The tea-party morons are a passionate, but truly small fringe of American politics.  Anyway, I ran some numbers using 2008 NES data to further make this point.  Among those who self identify as conservatives, the following:

  • 45% favor increasing SS spending; 38% keep the same
  • 47% favor increasing spending for schools and 35% favor keeping it the same
  • 28% favor increasing spending for "welfare" and 35% support keeping it the same
  • 26% favor increasing spending for health care and 20% for keeping it the same
  • 27% favor increasing spending for "government spending and services" and 25% for keeping it the same
  • 23% support abortion as "always a woman's choice" compared to 18% saying it should never be legal
  • 18% support gay marriage and another 34% support civil unions

Not exactly right-wing ideologues, eh?  Heck, even just favoring the status quo is clearly contravenes contemporary elite conservative ideology, but not only do most "ordinary" conservatives support that, but many seems quite ready to "expand government" when it gets down to specific issues.  Of course, one explanation could be that there's a lot of measurement error going on here and if we looked at liberals, we'd see plenty of them taking "conservative" positions.  Alas, not so…  Among liberals, 15% favor cuts to social security spending, 10% favor cuts to public schools, and 7% favor less government services and spending.  Not at all the opposite of the conservative numbers above.  My own theory (literally, I've got a PS paper on it) is for very many "conservatives" this is largely a social identity largely devoid of much genuine ideological content, as opposed to liberals, who are more likely to actually hold liberal beliefs.  Take-home point: any time anybody tells you how conservative this country is based on all these self-proclaimed "conservatives," don't believe them.

H1N1 vaccine irony

They've got H1N1 vaccine in Wake county today!  The nearest clinic is at Colonial Baptist church in Cary.  I went to the church's website and clicked on their "beliefs" section, where we get this:

Creation
We believe the Genesis account
of creation as being neither allegory nor myth but a literal,
historical account of the direct, immediate, creative acts of God over
six literal days without any evolutionary process; that man -spirit,
soul and body -was created by a direct work of God and not from
previously existing forms of life; and that all men are descended from
the historical Adam and Eve, first parents of the entire human race.
(Genesis 1-2; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16, 17)

Of course, if you are in complete denial of evolution, you probably should not be getting a flu shot.  I wonder if they realized that when they agreed to host the clinic. 

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