I am going to try something new this week. Instead of writing about one issue, I will briefly look at and weigh in on a number of top issues in the news.
The Supreme Court and Wedding Cakes – The High Court is now hearing from both sides in this dispute between a gay couple who wanted a specific baker/artist to decorate their wedding cake and the baker himself who refused his services to a wedding on the grounds that he believes the marriage is proscribed by his religion. A federal court in Colorado has already ruled against the baker saying that his religious rights should not interfere with a legally recognized marriage. First of all, this should not be a Supreme Court issue. Any attempt to link the rights of the couple with the large 1960s efforts at desegregating lunch counters, city buses, and public facilities misses a fundamental point. The now-married men were not prevented from a legally-recognized wedding, their big day (nor, for that matter, their lives together) have not been infringed upon, and they presumably had plenty of other baking/decorating options. The baker claims he does not discriminate against gays or anyone else who come in for pastries etc. He just did not want to be a part of a wedding he did not recognize. Beyond one’s belief in the rights of gays to marry (I strongly support) and a businessman who rejects a nice gig (I am puzzled); this is not a civil right or a constitutional matter. There is only one simple solution – the baker has a right to be principled if backward. The couple could easily have gone elsewhere and said, “You don’t want to do this, we don’t want your f__king cake, anyway.” Now that is an exercise of rights and is more exhilarating. This does not impact either the gay community or the community as a whole. Why the Supreme Court?
Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel – the fundamental question is “why do this?” Previous US administrations have been smart enough to recognize the volatility of the status of Jerusalem, the holy city claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as its capital. While conservative Israeli governments have waxed about their capital and their right to claim the entire city as undivided, it is indeed divided and East Jerusalem is home to many Palestinians as well as the third holiest site to Muslims. President Donald Trump is allegedly recognizing the Israeli position as fulfilling a campaign promise he made, but a recent poll suggests that a substantial majority of Americans oppose this move, including 40% of evangelicals whose support Mr. Trump appears to be targeting on this policy. There is no short-term win. Israelis have been only paying lip service to the final status of Jerusalem and have not been making high intensity demands. The President has announced this recognition before his alleged blockbuster peace plans and already has caused the Palestinian Authority to withdraw from the peace process. The Saudis and other Gulf States need US support in their opposition to Iranian hegemony in the region, but they are worried about the broader impact of this policy on their own public opinion. So the key question that no one seems to be able to answer is why did the President do this? There just does not seem to be an upside – including for Israel which only has its position in the region worsened.
#MeToo – in many ways we are watching a revolution unfold in real time. This is not simply about bad male behavior in Hollywood, Washington DC, or Manhattan. This is the end of patriarchy, the male domination of humanity. That is a bold statement but it is true. It is not going to happen overnight, no revolution ever does. But it will be the end of the world as we know it. More importantly, it is the world our children and grandchildren will never know. Her name may be Rose McGowan or she may be anonymous – but she is as important as Thomas Paine, Harriet Tubman, or Malala Yousafzai. Like all revolutions there will be a backlash. There will also be some men caught like deer in the headlights – ignorance that past behavior was objectionable. But history marches on.
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Trump Report Card
From the Washington Examiner, by John Zogby
The economy seems to be spinning like a top. The unemployment rate is at 4.1%, 228,000 jobs were created last month, and a total of 2.2 million new jobs have been created since Donald Trump was inaugurated in January. The unemployment rate for Hispanics is at an historic low and in manufacturing at a rate not seen in decades.
The Dow is still over 24,000 and a few people who bought (or stole) Bitcoins this past week did very well. But all is not good. The President set off a firestorm by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, something no other nation on earth has done. He claims this will set the table for his blockbuster peace initiative to follow — but this week is only witness to the rage that saner diplomats and observers warned about.
The move was gratuitous at best, wrought with danger at worst. Thus, far, it looks like the worst case scenario is at hand.
Grade: C- (saved by the economy)