2013 Year-End Review, Part II

Published: December 30, 2013

By Jim Lichtman
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Loveable Duck Dynasty graybeard Phil Robertson has had his “indefinite suspension”… suspended!

After Robertson came out in a GQ interview describing homosexual acts in crude terms and labeled it sin, A&E officials suspended him “indefinitely” after the patriarch’s comments embarrassed the cable channel, sponsors and offended much of the L.G.B.T. community. Upon hearing of the suspension, the remaining “cast members” of the Dynasty clan, announced that they would not continue the show without their beloved chieftain.

But wait… who rides to the rescue on cries of anti-Christian bias, none other than constitutional stalwarts Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal claiming that Robertson’s free-speech rights were violated. “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment,” the Louisiana governor said. After A&E reinstated Robertson, Jindal said, “Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty.”

Jindal is considered by many conservatives to be a top-tier candidate for president in 2016. So I started to reconsider, is this really a constitutional issue or am I out-to-lunch wrong?

In an ABC News report (Dec. 20), “Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said…’The First Amendment, like the constitution generally, only applies to the government, so if the government stops someone from talking or punishes them, that’s a First Amendment issue. If a private person says I won’t hire you or let you be on TV anymore, that’s not.’

” ‘The idea is we don’t let the government decide what’s a good opinion, but we do let individuals decide what they think is offensive and what should be rewarded and what should be discouraged. That’s the way the marketplace of ideas is supposed to work,’ he said.

“Roosevelt also pointed out that the U.S. has anti-discrimination laws that bar a company from firing someone for their race or religion, but allow it to fire someone if they have opinions the company doesn’t like.

” ‘There’s a line that is difficult to draw between religious beliefs and religiously motivated conduct, but what the Supreme Court has said is you can’t treat people differently because of their beliefs but if those beliefs lead them to engage in certain actions, you can treat them like someone who had engaged in those actions for a nonreligious belief,’ he said.”

“On Friday,” The New York Times reported (Dec. 27), “A&E bowed to the pressure and released a new statement, accompanying the news that Mr. Robertson would miss no episodes.

So, after an “interminable” 9 days of “indefinite” suspension, (I don’t think A&E knows what “indefinite” means), Robertson is back. As for Jindal, he may just want to brush-up on the constitution before any presidential run. Once again, money trumps morals. Bad

Speaking of Presidents –

Ronald Reagan had his gaffe: “trees cause more pollution than automobiles.” George H.W. Bush had his: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Now, President Obama has topped them both with, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

In “Whoppers of 2013,” FactCheck.org reported, “We said as far back as August 2009 that the president simply couldn’t make this promise to everyone.

“The Congressional Budget Office has been estimating since 2009 that at least a few million workers wouldn’t receive an offer of coverage through their employer due to the law, and clearly, Obama couldn’t guarantee that employers wouldn’t switch the plans they offered, whether the Affordable Care Actexisted or not. Also, as we wrote in 2012 those who buy private coverage on their own ‘may have to get a new plan if theirs doesn’t cover minimum benefit standards, which are yet to be determined. Plus, the insurance carriers offering these policies can change the plans without the policyholders’ blessing.’ ”

The President should have known and better informed citizens. Ridiculous and Bad

Judge Sides with NSA –

U.S. District Judge said Friday that the NSA program, which vacuums up practically all Americans’ phone records, does not violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.

Politifact.com reported that “conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox News Sunday that new spying techniques may be appropriate because ‘the threat has changed.’ ”

And yet, stronger safeguards against abuse need to be put in place both by NSA as well as congressional oversight. We don’t want another zealot having access to private information to support his own cause. Good decision, but much more needs to be done, and expect more legal appeals.

Cheers to …

… The Boy Scouts of America. After controversy and protests, on January 1, BSA will open its ranks to openly gay scouts. “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America,” the handbook reads, “is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes…” The time has come to practice what they preach. Good

…’Batkid,’ (aka leukemia patient Miles Scott) who saved Gotham (aka San Francisco), and Kudos to Make-a-Wish Foundation for making his dream possible. Good

… Pope Francis, Time magazine’s Person of the Year: whose mission is transforming the Catholic Church to be more inclusive and less dogmatic. Better

And nurses, once again, top the Gallup Poll’s annual list of “Honesty/Ethics in Professions” (Dec. 16), Pharmacists tied with grade school teachers at 70 percent, and medical doctors and military officers tied at 69. Trustworthy, dedicated, tolerant, caring and compassionate, we need more role models like nurses. Best!



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