Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – November 29, 2013

The recent announcement of a potential nuclear agreement with Iran should have been greeted with thanks as Thanksgiving Week began. But, predictably, it was not. Meanwhile, the Teapublicans are intent on portraying Obamacare as a “disaster” even though it is not. Perhaps if they say it long enough and loud enough it will be true? And speaking of Obamacare, in 2014 the Supreme Court of the United States will decide whether corporations can impose their religious ideals on their employees. No kidding.

Diplomacy 101

After over three decades of mutual enmity, the United States (and several other nations) and Iran have agreed to an arrangement that will severely curtail its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for modes reductions of the international economic sanctions that are battering Iran. That this agreement would come to pass while the chicken hawks on Capitol Hill have been clamoring for all-out war with Iran on this issue is nothing short than amazing and can only be seen as a positive.

But, think again, there are the predictable Teapublican chicken hawks crowing for bombs and battle from the safety of their congressional cocoon. But there are also relatively sane members of Congress who are also opposing this deal because it does not fully eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. The fact that every country engaged in negotiating with Iran (United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia) has nuclear weapons – as does Israel, doesn’t seem to factor into the discussion.

Moreover, it appears that there may be a need to reintroduce the concept of diplomacy to the members of Congress who seem to think that any compromise is a sign of weakness and a tactical error. Of course, as a matter of course diplomacy is only effective when each side gets something but doesn’t get everything.

Hopefully, the members of Congress will return to reality in time to recognize the historic and global importance of this agreement.

The Disaster that Isn’t

The Teapublican playbook seems to be based on the belief that if one says something loud enough and often enough, it will be perceived as true – even if it isn’t. In the case of the continuing saga of Obamacare, the Teapublicans who closed down the entire federal government and voted to repeal it about 5 million times are now claiming that the law that they always hated is a “disaster”.

Exhibit A has been, of course, the computer/website problems that began with the October 1st enrollment process. There are anecdotal stories of individuals who have lost insurance or are paying more for insurance and there is always a doctor somewhere who will stand in front of a camera and explain how Obamacare will ruin “the best healthcare system in the world”.

These same naysayers ignore the millions of Americans who have benefited from Obamacare since it went into effect almost four years ago. That is four years of people not being denied insurance because of pre-existing and catastrophic illness. That is four years of adult children being covered by their parents’ health insurance until they are 26. And that is four years of healthcare costs in this country finally trending downward.

But the Teapublicans never let the truth get in the way of a good “Bad Obama” story.

Religion Incorporated?

Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations enjoy the Constitutional protection of freedom of speech, we have waited to see when the other shoe might fall – or how many shoes there might be poised to fall in the further perversion of the United States Constitution.

The answer may be given in the spring of 2014. SCOTUS has agreed to hear a case based on the presumption that the religious freedoms of corporations can the subject of constitutional protection. Now you might not have realized that corporations, a legal mechanism created for commercial and organizational purposes, had any kind of religious affiliation.

We can all accept that Catholic Charities and the United Jewish Appeal have religious affiliations and those affiliations are recognized by the Internal Revenue Code. The idea that any commercial corporation could claim religious affiliation and “rights” is an awful concept and, a perversion of the concept of religious liberty that gave rise to it being constitutionally protected in the first place.

Imagine corporations determining what kind of healthcare their employees can have based upon the religious beliefs of the shareholders – no blood transfusions, no abortions, no contraception, no medical treatment at all – that would be the Brave New World of corporations as “people” as Mitt Romney so eloquently put it.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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