Thursday, February 9, 2012

Obama vs the Pope

What’s new Today

Our #1 story explains how the public is reacting to the government mandate on birth control.  #2 tells how Obama is ducking the questions about it.  #3 is a fascinating look at what the court decision in California means regarding the law.  #4 shows us how regulations can destroy the desire to create a business.  And these regulations aren’t protecting anyone.  #5 is a story that tells a number of glaciers in India are growing. 

1.  50% Oppose Gov't Mandate for Religious Organizations to Provide Contraceptives

Half of voters do not agree with the Obama administration’s action forcing Catholic institutions to pay for birth control measures that they morally oppose.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the government should require a church or religious organization to provide contraceptives for women even if it violates their deeply held beliefs. Fifty percent (50%) disagree and oppose such a requirement that runs contrary to strong beliefs, while 10% more are undecided.…

How many unpopular stands does Obama plan to take in this election? 

2.  Obama ducks questions on birth-control mandate

President Obama had a lot to say on Thursday. He praised a housing settlement at one event at the White House. He talked about No Child Left Behind at another.

But Obama didn’t have much to add about the looming contraception uproar that has plagued the White House in recent days.

Appearing in a photo-op with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon, Obama didn’t respond to two questions on the divisive topic.

“Do you stand by your contraceptive decision?” one reporter asked him, as he stood before a slew of television cameras.

“Is there anything you want to share with us about your contraception rule?" another reporter asked.

“Thank you, everybody,” Obama responded, ignoring the questions. “Thank you.”

Put these first two stories together and it looks like Obama is looking for a way out.  I think he did what he did in January so if it did go bad he could back away from it and hope that by November it will be forgotten.

3.  Proposition 8:  What does it mean?

….When evaluating the violation of fundamental rights, the court has often used a standard of "strict scrutiny" in cases involving racial or religious discrimination. By that standard, the petitioner frequently wins. In cases of gender discrimination, the court has relied on a kind of intermediate scrutiny.

The rational basis standard is a different bird. We were taught (as have been law students for a long time) that under the rational basis standard, the government would almost always win because the burden of establishing irrationality is so high. My liberal New York Jewish law professor taught us that the court would only find a state action irrational if it did something like declare that everyone must wear one green shoe on Tuesday.

The Ninth Circuit has now effectively said that to believe marriage is a matter for a man and a woman is to be so irrational as to declare that everyone must wear one green shoe on Tuesday.

Now, I understand that many readers may favor expanding marriage to include same sex unions. And there are reasons to support that move. But the case is not so overwhelmingly strong as to render the opposite conclusion nonsensical.

This is an important case. If a handful of individuals can declare a particular point of view completely irrational (a democratically expressed view), then we are not a republic. We are an oligarchy.

An interesting look at this controversial decision. 

4.  We all Scream….

The other day, The New York Times offered the story of Juliet Pries, who attempted to open an ice cream parlor in San Francisco:

Ms. Pries said it took two years to open the restaurant, due largely to the city’s morass of permits, procedures and approvals required to start a small business. While waiting for permission to operate, she still had to pay rent and other costs, going deeper into debt each passing month without knowing for sure if she would ever be allowed to open.

“It’s just a huge risk,” she said, noting that the financing came from family and friends, not a bank. “At several points you wonder if you should just walk away and take the loss.”

Ms. Pries said she had to endure months of runaround and pay a lawyer to determine whether her location (a former grocery, vacant for years) was eligible to become a restaurant. There were permit fees of $20,000; a demand that she create a detailed map of all existing area businesses (the city didn’t have one); and an $11,000 charge just to turn on the water.

I guess this is just government trying to protect you from tutti frutti terrorists.  We your liberal friends tell you regulations don’t hurt business, show them this story. 

5.   Glacier’s not melting?

The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

The study is the first to survey all the world's icecaps and glaciers and was made possible by the use of satellite data. Overall, the contribution of melting ice outside the two largest caps - Greenland and Antarctica - is much less then previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.

Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: "The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero."

These are the same glaciers that the IPPC said would be gone by 2035. 

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