Saturday, July 12, 2014

Last Call For A Winner Among Losers

The argument that the Hobby Lobby decision is somehow a "liberal" decision never fails to amuse me, but that's what Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Brett McDonnell posits in his article this week, chiding the left for being "close-minded" to the "freedoms" that the decision brings.

Is RFRA a conservative power grab giving religious lawbreakers a “get out of jail free” card?

History suggests otherwise. RFRA reversed Justice Antonin Scalia’s 1990 opinion that denied protection to Native Americans who used peyote in religious ceremonies. The dissenters in that case were Justices Harry Blackmun, William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall — three of the leading liberals in the court’s history. Those liberals lost in court, but Congress vindicated them three years later by passing RFRA.

Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House at the time, and RFRA passed by a 97-3 vote in the Senate and unanimously in the House. That is not a typo.

Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law.

Thus, liberal titans on the court, in Congress and in the White House vigorously supported RFRA’s strong protection of religious liberty.

Why? . Because RFRA reflects the core liberal values of toleration and respect for diverse viewpoints. In a world with a litter of laws and a rainbow of religions, even well-intentioned laws sometimes seriously burden some believers. If we can ease that burden by modifying the law while doing little damage to the law’s legitimate purpose, we make it easier for diverse groups to coexist.

The court plausibly found that a modest extension of an already-existing accommodation for some religious organizations to corporations like Hobby Lobby would avoid burdening religious beliefs without hurting the company’s employees.

What we have in Hobby Lobby is an opinion grounded in corporate social responsibility and respect for diverse points of view. The Supreme Court’s five conservatives have delivered a profoundly liberal opinion. Too bad so many liberals don’t seem to realize it.

Here's the problem that Prof. McDonnell clearly does not understand:  Hobby Lobby's religious freedom comes directly at the financial expense of female employees of the company.  They will now have to pay full price for contraception, something the the company itself gladly chose to cover while RFRA was in effect.  In fact, Hobby Lobby didn't change its tune until another law, the Affordable Care Act, was passed.  Only then did it become a "religious burden" to the company.

There is nothing "liberal" about the Hobby Lobby decision.  It penalizes financially only one class of employees -- women -- and does so in a way that allows multiple corporations to penalize employees at their direct expense, for a variety of reasons.

The decision has already been expanded to include all forms of female contraception, and leaves the door open for these "closely held" family owned companies to continue to push their beliefs upon employee at their monetary expense.

That's clearly unconstitutional, but what does an individual's right to freedom from religion?  It apparently no longer matters.

A Mess Of Your Own Making

Jewish Republicans are suddenly alarmed that with Eric Cantor gone, there won't be any Jewish Republicans in Congress anymore.  Keep in mind there are plenty on the Democratic party side, including DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and NY Sen. Chuck Schumer, but Cantor was it.  And that's got Jewish Republicans kind of upset.

The stinging defeat last month of Eric Cantor, the House majority leader and the highest-ranking Jewish politician in American history, has created the possibility of Republicans having no Jewish representation in the House or Senate for the first time in more than a half-century.
“Sometimes, a Jewish person just wants to be able to go to Congress and speak with a Jewish person,” Beverly Goldstein, a Republican donor from Beachwood, Ohio, explained in the hotel lobby after a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

“And Chuck Schumer is not it for us,” she added, referring to the Democratic senator from New York.

Excluding the soon-to-be-retired Mr. Cantor, there are now 31 Jewish members of Congress — 30 of them Democrats and an independent senator from Vermont, Bernard Sanders, who generally votes with Democrats.

And of course, the party of right-wing Christian Dominionist theology is having trouble figuring out why there's no room for non-Christians in it.

Decades after a Reagan era that was relatively rich in Jewish representation on the Republican side of both the House and the Senate, Republican Jews are grappling with what it means for a party that casts itself as the protector of Israel to potentially not have a single one of its children in Congress. Some Democrats, of course, depict Mr. Cantor’s loss as the removal of a final fig leaf from what has become a homogeneously Christian party with little room for religious and ethnic minorities. Others said the loss of Mr. Cantor, a conservative standard-bearer deemed insufficiently conservative by voters who preferred a Tea Party challenger, revealed the Republicans’ exclusion of moderates of any stripe.

There are Jewish candidates running for Congress on the GOP side this year.  Meet Adam Kwasman, proud Tea Party Republican.

Mr. Kwasman, a product of Jewish day school in the Tucson suburbs who says he tries to make Shabbat dinners with his parents whenever possible, is the Jewish candidate most affiliated with the Tea Party, opposing gun control and any form of amnesty on immigration and talking about bringing “Kosher Tea” to Congress. He was endorsed by Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff who has been the subject of a Justice Department investigation because of his crackdowns on undocumented workers. House analysts consider Mr. Kwasman the underdog against a more moderate Republican in the August primary.

No room for moderates here, regardless of your religious creed.  Maybe that's the message.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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