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Bob Franken: A new Independence Day needed

Posted: July 4, 2014 - 10:45am

Let’s be honest. While July Fourth is supposed to be a huge celebration of our nation, this one is a little more complicated. Half of those polled by Pew believe that the best years of the United States of America are behind us. Gallup reports the number of Americans “satisfied” with their freedoms is declining, and eight in 10 think that government is inherently corrupt. Flag-waving belief in “American Exceptionalism” is corroding.

Clearly, the years of political buffoonery and the never ending disclosures of government fecklessness, combined with private-sector cheating, has taken a toll — a serious toll. The sad results are on display in the many metrics that show us slipping. From education to health care to hunger to distribution of wealth, we’re down in the pack. No amount of jingoistic platitudes can cover that up.

On any given day, we see reports of agencies frittering away hundreds of millions — or billions — in taxpayer dollars, bungling their missions in the most obnoxious way. It has come to the point that when a study details how the Department of Veterans Affairs has betrayed the veterans who have given so much defending the American dream, we simply shake our heads. The sense of futility is the same when still another bank is slapped on the wrist for contributing to the economic collapse by breaking what flimsy rules exist.

We take as a given that the big-money interests control a system that is supposed to protect against their excesses. And when a challenge confronts them, whether it’s the Occupy movement on the left or the tea party on the right, the fat cats chip in to defeat the troublemakers.

Meanwhile, those in power make a mockery out of the longstanding claim that we have a right to privacy. We are regularly flogged with evidence that our spies spend a huge part of their time spying on us. Meanwhile, they’re surprised when a ragtag group of extremists suddenly takes over huge chunks of Iraq, startling our intelligence leaders with their emergence from plain sight.

Over at the Supreme Court, a majority of justices has given business favored status in this country with rulings that define corporations as people with more rights than the lesser people who work for them. The largest assault comes in the Hobby Lobby case, with the 5-4 ruling that the owners’ religious preferences trump the health of the women who work for them, allowing the company to refuse because of their faith to pay for contraception as required in the health-care law. What’s next, wondered dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Would the exemption ... extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?].”

Perhaps as they approached this July Fourth, they were thinking about the Declaration of Independence and its stirring proposition that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The problem seems to be that the all-male Supremes majority apparently took that to mean that only “men are created equal,” that protection for women isn’t a responsibility of employers who want to foist their beliefs on them. Granted, the Bill of Rights, with its Establishment Clause didn’t come until several years after the independence we celebrate, but it is supposed to be part of our nation’s fabric.

Those of us who are in love with this country and its ideals are mourning the fact that we seem to be unraveling. We need to remember our promises. This July Fourth may be the perfect time to start.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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hutchca 07/07/14 - 10:03 am
Hobby lobby

Reading along this opinion piece by Franken I could go along until he came to elevating the need for birth control and health care to the level of freedom of religion; the right to defend one self and family. There should be serious thought before the right to eliminate people (abortion) is elevated to an unalienable right recognized by the bill of rights!!

There may need to be clarification as to exactly which method of birth control is at issue in Hobby. It may be the issue is the morning after (abortion inducing) type contraception as opposed to the more preventive type of birth control.

Further, as for myself I do not believe there is a unalienable right to health coverage listed in the bill of rights. If the US government had not contributed, for the most part to date, to the destruction of the cultural foundation and moral fiber of this country, these issues would not be facing us today!

jford 07/06/14 - 08:57 pm
What do you mean, there may be a need for clarification?

Are you now pretending you can second guess the Supreme Court? The decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby clearly states what is 'at issue', I suggest maybe you read the decision before attempting to guess what may be 'at issue'.

And as for yourself? The US government hasn't contributed to the destruction of the cultural foundation and moral fiber of this country.

Have you tried reading any non fiction? Ever….?

Your description of reality is lamer than the next Discovery Channel reality show.

(….or maybe you think that's actually real also.)

The HobbyLobby ruling sets a terrible precedent, in the dissent it's noted that before the new precedent, " decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law, whether under the Free Exercise Clause or RFRA. The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities"

The new precedent says, "a corporation qualifies as a 'person' capable of exercising religion"

A corporation is not a person. A corporation, by design, is a legal entity created to relieve a person of liability. The Roberts Court has 5 certifiable idiots on board.

hutchca 07/07/14 - 10:17 am
Hobby Lobby

Thanks JFord for the response! I love the spin away from the issues of elevating birth control to the level of free speech and the lovely left leaning idea that the government has a right(?) to tell business, especially a Mom and Pop operation (5 family members doing day to day management) how they will run their business. Also love that spin away from even addressing the differences in the birth control options which I believe was the critical issue and not even touched on by Franken. There is doubt whether knowledge is even there on what those two options are.

But then all of these issues:
--birth control/health care as an unalienable right,
--government control of business; and,
--different types of birth control
are the issues we should be talking about as we watch the destruction of our county. And as true for most left leaners this is the REALITY chosen to ignore so someone can feel good about forcing victimization on women and government control into every aspect of our lives.

Thanks for the opportunity to clearly line out exactly where the hyprocritcal spin is so people can see some truth for the lies!

borninak 07/07/14 - 11:23 am
Nice hypocritical spin Hutcha

You want to talk about hypocritical spins? You say "forcing victimization on women"? Wow. Now that's a SPIN. Might it possibly be that you are hypocritically trying to tell women how to run their bodies from abortion to proper birth control? Because you being a man and all, certainly you know what's best for them. Most women I know despise the idea that egotists like you want to control what they do so I would suggest you pipe down and listen to what the women have to say. But you are a hypocrite, so instead you will invent this concept of "forcing victimization on women."

jford 07/07/14 - 05:16 pm
As I said, hutchca, you don't know what you're talking about.

Read the decision, you'll learn that it was specific as to what methods they were talking about. The decision itemizes the specifics. You're 'taking issue' with nothing other than your own misdirected imagination.

But then again, you reading the actual decision probably won't help you, why would I suspect you actually reading the decision would change anything in your preconceived misconceptions.

Good luck getting the country off your neck, must be a real drag to be you, what with all the oppression you suffer.

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