Healthcare is a Responsibility 

Luke 10:29-37 (NABre)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.

I’ve long condemned the attempts by the GOP to repeal Obamacare. Mostly because they have no intention of replacing it with anything. As the above story illustrates, it’s patently immoral. They’ve tried to doublespeak their way around this by the canard “healthcare is a responsibility not a right” in line with the mantra of so-called personal responsibility. Notice the Samaritan nit only displays charity, he goes the distance and pays for the traveler’s care. No mention is made of the man’s ability to pay. And we can reasonably infer he cannot. And what does Jesus tell us to do? 

Go and do likewise.

Healthcare is a responsibility. Conservatives have it wrong whose it is.

Racism by the Numbers

The trouble with racism today is mostly in the averages. Specific instances add up over a population but are not evidence in and of themselves. Back in the day I took the Chinese view living day-to-day: expect the worst and hope for the best. Take the cops. I’ve had cops let me go when technically driving recklessly and I’ve had them follow for me for driving while black. I’ve had them give me a break on a speeding ticket because I was clearly distraught over a breakup and I’ve had them disrespect me and my wife in the street just to be a$$holes with power. These instance prove little unless you can see how they fit into the larger picture. 

Conservative racism deniers hate looking at the larger picture because a) it bucks their narrative and b) they refuse to take personal responsibility for the world they live in. (Ironic coming from the personal responsibility crowd.) They focus on instances saying they prove nothing. True. Halfway. Half truths are whole lies. That’s the game you have to play in when pushing for racial justice. Which is why I point to polls and studies. Evidence of the larger picture, reproduced PATTERNS, that put these instances in context. I’m a numbers guy by nature so this keeps me confident and grounded in reality.

So I get versed on the numbers. Understand the studies. Don’t get into shouting matches with falsely equivalent counterclaims. Answer myths with facts. Meet belief with morals. Crush stupidity with evidence based knowledge.

Tim Kaine, Abortion, and Faith

With Hillary Clinton picking Tim Kaine for vice presidential candidate, abortion and how Kaine reconciles his faith with the law and enforcing it is back as a front burner issue. I think his balancing act highlights the real moral dilemmas at play and why both sides of the issue are intellectually dishonest to the degree they claim sole hold on the moral high road.

But first, I categorically dismiss the charges that Kaine is “pro-abortion.” Not only is the charge partisan and worldly, it is a lie. You don’t have to support a law to enforce it. And for an elected official or civil servant, it’s your job. Civil disobedience is for protestors, i.e. private citizens. If you can’t do your job, the honorable thing to do is resign.

Basically, Kaine’s position is similar to mine. We agree that making abortion illegal is wrong. If my reading of his support of the Hyde Amendment is correct, then he feels the government should be neutral about abortion. It neither supports it through funding nor does it act against it by criminalizing the practice. It makes neither side of the abortion debate happy (but I don’t think they deserve to be).

I feel the same way with one proviso. I can accept the premise of saving lives by banning abortion if we apply that brand of justice equally. But be warned there is no free lunch. It would require a serious degradation of personal liberty to make an abortion ban fair and just. In short, if the government can commandeer a woman’s body to save the life of her unborn child, it can do likewise to mine toward equivalent ends. For example, I have two health kidneys, I can live with one and there is no shortage of people dying of kidney failure. Extreme I know but that’s what it would take to ban abortion and actually be pro-life rather than merely pro-unborn.  That’s why I object to abortion bans. Casual and unequal justice is no justice at all. Ends do not justify means.

So like Kaine, I’m “pro-life-choice.” Yes, women should be (and are) free to choose. But it is a fiction that that choice is without moral valence no matter what rationalizations of privacy we make or claims that the decision itself is deeply personal. Of course it is a private and personal decision. It changes nothing. Abortion at bottom is ending a life, and short of saving another life, I can think of no reason that would make such an act just. Having said that just because my faith teaches that an act is immoral, it doesn’t automatically follow that it should be illegal. My Catholic faith teaches marital infidelity is a grave sin. We could make infidelity illegal for all sorts of laudable goals but I doubt  anyone agrees that it should be done.

So save the charges of being pro-abortion or the need to be “educated” into thinking one’s moral convictions are false. What’s required is wrestling with the moral dilemma as anyone of good conscience should.

Why I Don’t Read Ideological Media

Coates’ great post, Dishonesty Is The Seventh Killer App:

You should read James Fallows’ takedown of Niall Ferguson deceptive case against a second Obama term. You should also read Andrew’s, and you should read Joe Weisenthal’s.

 
But one thing to keep in mind is there is no real penalty for respectable lying in our world of intellectual discourse. Ferguson will almost certainly continue to have a field for his thoughts, regardless of how little effort he puts into stringing them together. The Krugman rebuttal in which Ferguson claims he was only talking about the insurance end (it’s detailed in Weisenthal’s piece) is not a debatable opinion, but the sort of thing that would raise a red-flag for any fact-checker worth their weight.
 
When I first started wading my way into the world of ideas, I thought having a big university on your C.V. along a PhD held said something about your trustworthiness. I would have seen that Ferguson was a historian at Harvard and thought, “No way he’d fudge facts. He’s a Harvard big-shot who publishes in big magazines.” I would have been, of course, dead wrong. 
 
Dishonesty of this sort is insidious. It can’t be dismissed with the ease of plagiarism or manufactured evidence. As long you’re not egregious, you can actually make a career as respectable public intellectual, and occasionally lie. No one will stop you. Almost no one cares.

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates :: The Atlantic)

I do.

Democalypse 2012 – Romney Kills a Guy’s Wife


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Ringing a Bell for Liberty

That right there is how bishops are supposed to behave and speak! I was a bit proud of Chaput for doing speaking in a balanced manner but was taken aback by doing what he criticized.

Archbishop Chaput holds forth:

The public discourse of Catholics needs to be guided by charity and respect for others, but above all by truth. The truth can be difficult, so we often want to soften its edges. But this just wastes time and compounds our problems. Candor can be uncomfortable in the short run, but it’s much healthier in the long run.

The point is this: We need to be frank with each other as Christian adults, frank in our public witness and frank in our own self-criticism. Again, we also need to be prudent and kind — but not at the expense of courage, and not at the expense of speaking the truth.

via Ringing a Bell for Liberty – Interview – National Review Online.

That right there is how bishops are supposed to behave and speak!  I was a bit proud of Chaput for doing speaking in a balanced manner.  Given the absolute mess here in Philadelphia left by his predecessors we need this kind of leadership.  He continues:

Christianity is a “political” religion only in the sense that it has wider implications than the individual. Christian faith is communitarian; it places both personal and social obligations on the believer. It requires certain actions. It’s never merely private.

Which is why this Fortnight for Freedom is kind of a problem for me. Mind you I don’t have any real objection to the protest itself since it is quintessentially American to act up and speak up for one’s rights.  And Americans have a right to do so!  The First Amendment is the first for a reason.  The Founders knew these rights were important.  Liberties are precious and ought to be defended vigorously.

But as the bishop said above, Christianity isn’t really about freedom or liberty in a larger sense.  As a disciple of Christ, I have certain obligations, specifically “charity, justice, courage, [and] mercy,” as the good bishop said. I have freedom in Christ, but I’m not free to do as I please.  The irony here is that the other side of this HHS mandate debate is also acting up about liberty specifically the fundamental issue of a woman controlling her own healthcare.   So when Chaput said this:

The central issue in the HHS-mandate debate isn’t contraception. Casting the struggle as a birth-control fight is just a shrewd form of dishonesty. The central issue in the HHS debate is religious liberty. The government doesn’t have the right to force religious believers and institutions to violate their religious convictions. But that’s exactly what the White House is doing.

I winced.  The entire reason the bishops are leading this charge for religious liberty is to resist the government mandating they provide contraception.  So how exactly is birth-control not central to this issue?  If the Catholic Church encouraged the use of contraception as good sexual ethics, would we be here right now?  Would the Church be lauding the government for supporting good morality?  I think we all know the answer to these questions.  So while I’m loathe to check Bishop Chaput, I’m going to follow his lead and say that claiming the central issue isn’t contraception is also “a shrewd form of dishonesty.”  Honesty demands better.

Fortnight for Freedom

As a Catholic however this whole “Fortnight for Freedom” thing made me nervous. The timing of this battle, the vigor with which is waged, and the lack of compassion once again demonstrates how myopic the bishops can be and how their credibility (and the Church’s as well) is withering before the rest of the country.

The bishops in my church instituted a pitched campaign to resist the HHS mandate, as part of the overall healthcare reform known as “Obamacare,” requiring religious institutions to cover contraception to their employees.  The bishops teach that active contraception is wrong and argue that being forced to provide such violates the religious freedom of Catholics to practice their faith and live according to their consciences.  All this is par for the course in American politics. Our democracy is about a battle of rights, an ongoing fight about whose rights deserve protection and how.  If you are a constitutional buff, this is heady stuff and part of what makes this country great.  No guns, just words.

On the merits, this battle is worth fighting. Each side has a legitimate case to make.  And rights are at stake.  Make no mistake about it.  My problem has always been how the bishops have chosen to wage this battle as soldiers of Christ or as mere political prosecutors of war?

As a Catholic, this whole “Fortnight for Freedom” thing made me nervous. The timing of this battle, the vigor with which is waged, and the lack of compassion for our opponents once again demonstrates how myopic the bishops can be and how their credibility (and the Church’s as well) is withering before the rest of the country.  I am not alone in this view.  Here are the problems I see in a nutshell with trenchant humor from Jon Stewart to liven it up! Continue reading “Fortnight for Freedom”

Texas Republican Party Platform Calls For Repeal Of Voting Rights Act Of 1965

Numerous independent studies — including one undertaken by Greg Abbott, Texas’s Republican attorney general, who claimed there was an “epidemic” of electoral fraud —  have found voter identification fraud to be exceedingly rare. According to Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News, Abbott’s two-year investigation yielded 26 cases of alleged fraud, but two-thirds of those turned out to be technical infractions in which the voters were eligible to vote and their votes were legally cast. In all the fraud cases but one, the voters at question were black or Hispanic. All of them were Democrats.

via Texas Republican Party Platform Calls For Repeal Of Voting Rights Act Of 1965.

Voter ID laws are bullshit.

Paying for the Pill

Marty Moss-Coane looks at all sides of the decision and how it is influencing the 2012 presidential campaign with SALLY STEENLAND of the Center for American Progress and author MICHAEL SEAN WINTERS, who writes for The National Catholic Reporter.

Super program on Radio Times.

Contraception, the Catholic Church, the President and Politics:

Hour 1

The Obama administration announced last month that it would require religious hospitals, colleges and other institutions, like those affiliated with the Catholic Church, to provide health care coverage for contraception.  The decision has ignited a passionate debate over religious freedom, the conscience exemption and the rights of women to control their own health care. On one side are those who say that because the Catholic Church opposes birth control, it should not be required to cover it and that the administration’s attempt to require they do so can be seen as an intrusion of the government into the affairs of religious groups. On the other side are women’s health care advocates who say that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women and that allowing women to control their own bodies in accordance with their own beliefs is an example of religious liberty.  Not surprisingly, the issue has become a highly political one in this election year. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lashed out at the administration for seeking to curtail religious freedom, Newt Gingrich called the decision a war against religion, and Rick Santorum accused the Obama administration of being “hostile to people of faith, particularly Christians, and specifically Catholics.” We’ll look at all sides of the decision and how it is influencing the 2012 presidential campaign with SALLY STEENLAND of the Center for American Progress and author MICHAEL SEAN WINTERS, who writes for The National Catholic Reporter.

Listen to the mp3

Listen:
Download audio file (020912_100630.mp3)

(Via Radio Times.)

That Ain’t Right

Chris Rock drops science on my political philosophy.