Monday, October 5, 2015

The GOP's logic on the Iran deal and same sex marriage escape me

There are some public policy positions being promoted by a variety of politicians that just do not seem logical.  Often good politics trump reason, especially when they  invigorate the juices of their political bases.  Take the examples of the failed attempt in Congress to block the Iran nuclear deal and some freedom of religion arguments advanced by the GOP.
 The logical element of the Iran deal is that it will keep war from happening immediately, and maybe even in a distant future, though much can change in a decade for better or for worse.  On the other hand, failure to pass the deal would have freed all other participants to drop any sanctions and they had made that clear they would do so. Clearly sanctions by one country, the US, would not be effective in changing Iran’s behavior any more than they were against Cuba. Sanctions by the larger international community were the only leverage against Iran.  Iran could develop nuclear weapons in a few months. Past cyber  attacks, assassinations of scientists, and bombing runs caused only temporary setbacks.  With the deal, violations of sanctions will trigger automatic reinstatement of international sanctions and military action is still an option. There will be constant monitoring of nuclear sites capable of nuclear weapons production and supply lines, with some level of inspections lasting past the ten year period. 
 Opponents to the deal ginned up fear, not reason. Their argument:  Iran’s government had bad policies toward its people and was untrustworthy. The deal does not rely on trust or love. Inspections are regarded by the international community as the most stringent ever imposed on any country.  Unable to refute that, the opponents just ignored or distorted  the inspection protocols in their multi- million dollar ad campaign full of misleading statements and instead, scared the public into opposing the deal.
In preparation for the 2016 elections, a fear mongering ad is running against Colorado Democratic Senate incumbent, Michael Bennet claiming he will be responsible for a nuclear holocaust caused by his vote in favor of the Iran deal. This ad, with multi lingual countdown by children, is similar to the one Democrats used effectively against GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964 who had indicated a willingness to use nukes. It depicted a child counting daisy petals followed by a nuclear blast.  Bennet has a reasoned case to make the Iran deal would immediately make a nuclear war less likely.
Also illogical is the GOP’s freedom of religion argument that same sex marriage destroys religious freedom.  Same sex marriage is contrary to religious beliefs held by many who would like government to force others to uphold their views and step on others ’rights. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled same sex couples must be allowed to marry nationwide regardless if state laws permit marriage only by heterosexual couples. The ruling was particularly pertinent to officials issuing marriage licenses. A county clerk was jailed when she refused to issue licenses to same sex couples because it violated her religious beliefs. She has always been free to resign or run for another office, and she is still protected by the Constitution to continue her crusade elsewhere. Noticed: the ruling did not prevent heterosexual marriage.
For more, visit, especially the July 19, 2015 posting “The GOP comes out swinging against the Iran deal….    Also see the 8/2/15 blog posting: Heads up, spinners at work on the Iran deal....for a critique of the anti Iran deal ads

Felicia Muftic is a former Denver County Clerk who was sworn in to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

John Boehner's and the Pope's Balancing Acts: Boehner's act fails; the Pope succeeds

Circus balancing acts nearly always succeed. It they do not, performers do not stay long in the business.  Politics is another story. Last week saw balance take a back seat to extreme views when House Majority Leader John Boehner threw in the towel, foreseeing a collision with a forty  member Tea Party caucus wanting to hold hostage the functioning of government to a single issue.  Pope Francis with great delicacy delivered messages in person to the American people and Catholics in a way that would make a tight rope walker proud.

In past eras, the middle, the balance between poles, was once the substance of the business of governing.  It is rare now when balance works and often imbalance is cheered by partisans holding less than a majority vote when they roll over their opposition without having themselves to budge an inch or take a political penalty at the ballot box.

Boehner quit, he said, to save the institution of Congress. He probably meant that Congress was structured to force compromise. I suspect another reason was that he wanted to come to the aid of the Republican Party.  Most right wing Tea Party members of his GOP Congressional caucus were protected from political repercussions by representing safe districts with constituents who agreed with them. The Tea Party had failed to get their way on defunding Planned Parenthood when the House votes were counted.  Never mind federal laws already prevented federal funds from being used for abortions. They cared little if their actions would deprive the service of any federal dollars to provide other low cost women’s health services.  They threatened to block approval of the entire federal budget, resulting in shutdown of government services.

Boehner had been there, done that. In 2013, the GOP dominated House engineered an actual shutdown for two weeks over a single issue, defunding Obamacare.    The result: The economy took a $12 to $24 billion hit. The GOP got the blame in spite of their attempt to cast blame on a stubborn President.  Polls showed Americans believed the GOP was responsible over Democrats 39 percent to 19 percent.

In order for Boehner to stop this government shutdown, he would have had to draw on Democratic votes, an anathema to Republican extremists.  They had attacked Boehner in the past for relying on the enemy and Boehner was facing some very contentious moments if he did it again. Clearly he was just tired of it and he, humming “ Zip-a-dee-doo dah”, quit.

On the other hand, Pope Francis was last week’s balancer in chief, giving pronouncements on his visit to the US about what he considered to be the moral course on critical governmental issues, some of which warmed the hearts of conservatives with his family focus, and cheered liberals with issues such as caring about income inequality, humane treatment of immigrants and refugees, caring for the poor, and global warming.   While he did not propose legislative directives of “thou shall or shalt not” to Congress, he urged compromise and dissed extremism. Nonetheless, he made his points without adding to the political polarization he so deplored. Perhaps the Pope inspired devout Catholic  Boehner to turn his disgust with extremists into the action he took. 

The edited version appeard in the Oct 1, 2   2015 Sky Hi Daily News

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Services celebrating Michael Muftic, MD's life, will be held at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center Hotel in Denver at 5 PM on Tuesday, September 15 and at the Church of Eternal Hills in Tabernash, Colorado at 11 AM on Saturday, September 12. There will be receptions after both services. In Denver, after the reception there will also be a no host dinner at the hotel's restaurant, Altitude. The hotel requests that reservations for the dinner should be made in advance at 303 486 4434.