A Fly in the Ointment

Howard Schultz  Running for President

howard schultz

There is always a fly in the ointment. This time it is former Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz announcement that he is running for president as an independent. The last thing we need is another old billionaire white guy as president. Now you might think that as an independent he doesn’t stand much chance of winning. But my concern is he could be a spoiler and throw the election back to Trump.

steve schmidt

Another concern is he just hired Steve Schmidt as campaign manger. Schmidt is a brilliant political operative who I greatly admire. With Schmidt at the helm Schultz has a chance. Things should be pretty interesting over the next few months as they develop. As if they hadn’t been interesting enough. Watch this space.

Colorado Baker

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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Justice Neil Gorsuch

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Right Commission. I thought these issues had already been decided but I guess I was wrong. The case centers on an anti-gay baker in Colorado who claims a First Amendment right to ignore state law and refuse service to same-sex couples. A key issue in Masterpiece is just how far the court’s conservative justices are willing to go in subverting civil rights law to protect the freedom to discriminate. Here is my opinion on the matter:

Restaurants are considered places of public accommodation. The primary purpose of a restaurant is to sell food to the general public, which necessarily requires them to follow equal protection laws. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. The laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as other people in similar conditions and circumstances. A violation would occur, for example, if a state prohibited an individual from entering into an employment contract because he or she was a member of a particular race. Furthermore there would be a violation if a restaurant owner refused service to a person because of their race.

 

These rights are spelled out in the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination by privately owned places of public accommodation on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Places of “public accommodation” include hotels, restaurants, theaters, banks, health clubs and stores. Nonprofit organizations such as churches are generally exempt from the law. The federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, so gays are not a protected group under the federal law. However, about 20 states, including New York and California, have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation. Colorado also happens to be one of those states.

Colorado law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation based on marital status or actual or perceived sexual orientation. According to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, “sexual orientation” means heterosexuality, homosexuality (lesbian or gay), bisexuality, and transgender status. Transgender status means a gender identity or gender expression that differs from societal expectations based on gender assigned at birth.

Therefore, the Colorado baker has clearly violated the civil rights of the gay couple and is violation of Colorado law. At issue before the Supreme Court is whether the baker’s right to free speech is being violated. Enter Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch queried the Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yager regarding the remedy imposed on Jack Phillips, the baker. His concern was that Phillips was to provide comprehensive training to his employees. Gorsuch viewed this as compelled speech which might possibly violate Phillips’ free speech. Yager responded by saying training is a common remedy in civil rights cases.

Gorsuch continued his questioning, “But this isn’t attending your training. The order was ordering him to provide training and presumably compelling him to speak, therefore, and to speak in a way that maybe offend his religion and certainly compel him to speak.”

This theory could seriously undermine civil rights law and have far reaching effects.

It is not unusual to have conflicts with respect to civil rights between parties. That’s why we have judges and trials to help sort these things out. My own view is that if you are in business to serve the public you must do so without discrimination. If you can’t or won’t, even for religious reasons, you have no right to be in business and you should close up shop and go home.

We are a secular country here in America with a clear separation of church and state. When you operate a commercial enterprise in the public sphere you must leave your religion at home if it causes you to discriminate against the public. When you are in business to serve the public you must serve all the public.

 

 

 

 

BLOOD AND SOIL

The Myth of Blood and Soil

According to Karl Popper, writing in his The Open Society and its Enemies, The Myth of Blood and Soil was originated by Plato and detailed in The Republic. Plato freely admits that the myth is a lie. It was a propaganda ploy used to bolster his idea of the ideal state which is totalitarian in nature ruled by a philosopher king and a racially pure elite.

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The Myth of Blood and Soil is based on two ideas: 1. In order to strengthen the defense of the mother country men are born of the earth of their country which is their mother.  2. Racialism: “God has put gold into those who are capable of ruling, silver into the auxiliaries, and iron and copper into the peasants and other producer classes.” These metals are racial characteristics. Any admixture of one of these base metals must be excluded from the higher classes. In other words, only those with racial purity may rule. Plato goes on to say that any mixing of the metals will lead to the fall of man. “Iron will mingle with silver and bronze with gold, and from this admixture variation will be born and absurd irregularity; and whenever these are born they will they will beget struggle and hostility; the city (state) must perish when guarded by iron and copper” and lead to the degradation and the fall of man. Remember, Plato admits that the Myth of Blood and Soil is a propaganda lie useful in persuading his rulers to follow his racial policies.

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Fast forward to Germany in the late 19th century where the phrase Blood and Soil was appropriated by the Germans to signify and glorify racialism and nationalism. The German translation reads: “Blut und Boden.” Rural life was idealized and combined with the ideas of racism and anti-Semitism. “Blood and Soil” became a key phrase of Nazi ideology.

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This phrase has been taken up and by neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups here in the United States as a rallying cry.  Nazis could be heard chanting the phrase, “Blood and Soil” on the streets of Charlottesville as they marched carrying their torches.

Charlottesville