Brief, in-exaustive, commentary on a few news items
1. Governor Larry Hogan’s Cancer: On Monday (6/22), Governor Larry Hogan announced that he had either Stage 3 or Stage 4 (“very advanced, very aggressive”) non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Surrounded by family and political leaders on both sides of Annapolis and Washington, the Governor declared, through humor and emotion, that he would fight the cancer and eventually beat it (though he admitted he would lose his hair in the process). It’s selfish in a sense to think that someone else’s great struggle gives you an opportunity to reflect on politics, but Governor Hogan’s public declaration of his personal struggle really does give Marylanders a chance to reflect that the day-to-day political squabbling sometimes causes us to lose sight of some of the more important things in our lives. It’s encouraging to see people of diverse backgrounds and politics reaching out to lend support to the Governor during this difficult time. Here’s to hoping that the Governor’s aggressive fight and chemo regimen will be enough to hold back and beat the spread of cancer. As the Governor so aptly put it, he has a better chance of beating cancer than he did becoming Governor of Maryland. Prayers and best wishes for Governor Hogan.
2. The Confederate Flag Issue: Also on Monday (6/22), Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina called a press conference to relate her decision that the Confederate Flag flying over the South Carolina State House should be removed. First, it’s baffling why the flag was up there to begin with. Ostensibly put up in 1962 to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War, it has remained flying since that time. Let’s be abundantly clear, the Confederate flag is both a symbol of hate to millions of Americans, but it is also the flag of a defeated, non-existent nation that’s sole purpose was to break apart the United States. While it is inflammatory to compare the Confederate Flag to the swastika, it should be noted that, following the Second World War, any Nazi symbolism was banned from Germany. The Confederate Flag is a necessary, but sad, part of American history. To compare the Confederate Flag to be synonymous with “southern pride” misunderstands the issues. The Flag is not merely pride, it was revolution. To think that, today, the battle flag of the CSA has any place flying over any public building in the country misunderstands what tens of thousands of Americans died for 150 years ago. Good for Governor Haley and it’s about darn time.
3. Pending SCOTUS Decisions: On Thursday (6⁄25) and Monday (6⁄29), the Supreme Court of the United States will likely hand down several major decisions that will affect the lives of average Americans. While the release date of the Opinions is unknown, we do know that the Court will be ruling on State Obamacare exchanges, disparate impact claims in the Federal Fair Housing Act, State redistricting provisions, and marriage equality. Smart money on the Obamacare exchanges says that the Court will neatly carve out the language that the States have found offensive in the law. This will, temporarily, shut down Federal exchanges in 34 states. Republicans and Democrats in Washington have had a few months to prepare for this eventuality. It looks likely that some degree of compromise language will be put in the law in accordance with the decision (the case is King v. Burwell) at least until 2017 (when there will be a new President). Most courtwatchers are also focused on the marriage equality decision (Obergefell v. Hodges [et al.]) that presents the baseline question of the legality of same-sex marriage nationwide. In what will, hopefully and definitively, put this matter to rest, the Court will likely find that the rights of gays and lesbians to marry is the same as anyone else in the country. Hopefully, Justice Roberts will also join in the Opinion to make the decision not a mere 5-4 (which opponents will declare overturnable with a new Court), but a 6-3 decision with conservative support. As any poll shows, the wheel of history has turned on the issue (thankfully), and the nation will be better for a decision that embraces dignity for all people.