Obamacare’s contraception mandate, which the Supreme Court pared back Monday in its Hobby Lobby ruling that says bosses can deny employees birth-control coverage if it violates their religious beliefs, has long been framed as a battle over religious freedom. Requiring contraceptive coverage is of particular relevance to Catholics, as so many of the institutions that have raised objections to the rule are affiliated with the Catholic Church. But recent polling suggests it’s become as much a partisan issue as a religious one.
Polling published by Gallup in 2012 shows huge partisan gaps on birth-control coverage, with the overwhelming majority of Republicans (83 percent) sympathizing more with the views of religious leaders. The number of Democrats sympathizing with the Obama administration, at 76 percent, was nearly as high. Independents, tellingly, were evenly divided at 45 percent.
Of course, whether Americans identify as Dems or Republicans to begin with is correlated with how often people attend church, and Republicans on average are significantly more religious than Democrats. For example, a Values and Beliefs survey, found 42 percent of Republicans report attending church weekly, compared with just 29 percent of Democrats. So it’s little wonder that partisan attitudes on contraception track levels of religiosity so closely.
The question of which came first, the partisanship or the religiosity, then becomes a chicken-and-egg one.
In a 2012 interview with America magazine, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, the head of the domestic policy committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, worried aloud that the bishops’ confrontational approach was being exploited by political groups “very far to the right” who are trying to use the conflict with the White House as an anti-Obama campaign. “I think there are different groups that are trying to co-opt this and make it into political issue, and that’s why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops,” said Blaire, who opposes the contraception mandate for religious reasons.
Conservatives have used the issue as fodder in their unceasing attack on President Obama and his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Yet contraceptive coverage has enjoyed a substantial amount of support for some time. A Gallup Poll showed that 75 percent of Americans favored contraception use as early as the 1930s. That mood is not markedly different among Catholics. A full 82 percent of U.S. Catholics say birth control is morally acceptable, a number nearing the 89 percent of all Americans (and 90 percent of non-Catholics) who agree.
Those numbers are consistent with the findings from a recent United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. As Ronald Brownstein reported in 2012, when asked about disputes over health insurance coverage for contraception and prenatal testing, among other related issues, opinions among Catholics closely tracked attitudes among other Americans. According to Brownstein’s report on the findings:
Catholics backed the Obama compromise by 52 percent to 41 percent — actually a slightly wider margin for the president than the 48-percent-to-39-percent split among non-Catholics. Catholics split exactly evenly (43 percent to 43 percent) on the exemptions in Blunt’s proposal. More than three-fifths of Catholics supported the prenatal-testing mandate and three-fourths of them opposed cutting off Planned Parenthood funding. White Catholics showed little difference from nonwhite Catholics on those questions.The poll suggested that each side may motivate its base on these issues. Sixty percent of college-educated white women supported the Obama compromise. In sharp contrast, the plan faced plurality opposition from noncollege white men and women, and college-educated white men, all of whom are usually tougher audiences for Democrats. Likewise, two-thirds of whites under 34 supported the revised Obama plan — while nearly three-fifths of white seniors opposed it. Two key swing groups — white Catholics and white independents — tilted narrowly toward the Obama position.
Though the use of contraception is forbidden by Church doctrine, nine of 10 Catholics believe that Americans should make up their own minds on contraceptive issues rather than simply following the Church. When it comes to actually making up their minds on the Obamacare contraception mandate, partisanship seems to be as good an indication as religiosity.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”