There's not much the state can do to fix a drought once we're in one, but I hope we've learned our lesson this time, and we can now start actually preparing for the next inevitable drought to hit California.
This is Jerry Brown's second chance to watch a climate disaster unfold and start doing at least some reacting for the future. The time to build cisterns, dams and desalinization plants is now. The time to build trains that will bounce from the north to the south half-empty is later.
Behold, the wisdom of a man who let his wife die because his religious beliefs conflicted with her medical needs, but disregarded those religious beliefs when his own life depended upon medical treatments. Sometimes, when you are a minority of one, it's because you're wrong and someone you love is going to die because of it. So be careful when you think you're the only one who is right.
My views of this man changed a lot when I saw Russell Brand's show, and he tells the story about how Gandhi let his wife die. I thought maybe he'd taken some liberties with the truth, but I read up on it and damn. He not only let his wife die, he belittled her for wanting medicine rather than putting her life in God's hands. Then, 6 weeks later, when his life was in God's hands, he said "Give me the medicine." Suddenly, I saw Gandhi as Biblical figure. The one Jesus told to remove the plank from his own eye before commenting on the sliver in his neighbor's eye. All that wisdom, and yet he caused his own wife to die. SMH.
I've noticed that usually when a post claims that something is going viral, I've never seen it before and never will see it again. Telling people your post is going viral is like giving yourself a nickname. It's not going to work and it just makes people think you're stupid.
And the governor of Connecticut is banning state travel to Indiana, because Indiana just passed a religious freedom bill that offends him. Of course, it's not quite as strong and offensive as the one that's been in place in Connecticut for the last 22 years, but nobody cares about that one.
In my opinion, good triumphed over evil today. But I noticed that some of my conservative friends think that Net Neutrality means ObamaNet, and oddly enough, I saw that Loretta Sanchez and some other very liberal faces were speaking out against Net Neutrality.
To my conservative friends who are not totally on board with Net Neutrality (or my liberal friends who stand with Sanchez against Obama and Steve Wozniak), I have a question.
This is a good thing. I now know that right after I sign my next 2 year deal for cable and Internet, I won't have to worry about getting a notice that says
We really want to give you the best Internet services possible, but YouTube refuses to pay us to bring you their content, so unless we strike a deal with them by the end of the month, you will not be able to view YouTube content as of midnight, March 2. We are so, so, very sorry about this, but blame YouTube. Those greedy bastards won't pay.
Sincerely, your new 2-year ISP provider.
P.S. Facebook is starting to talk shit about their next renewal fee, too. Start complaining to Facebook as soon as possible. P.P.S. Don't forget that you owe us a $300 cancellation fee if you switch to another ISP that offers YouTube, Netflix and Facebook. P.P.P.S. You're gonna have to start paying extra for porn, too."
You know that one friend you have on Facebook who is always posting some outrageous thing that pisses them off? That unbelievable thing that would piss you off, too, except you know that the source for that story - the Onion, the Daily Currant, whatever - is a satire bogus new site?
Don't you kind of think that this one friend is a bit of a moron?
The New York Times is a bit of a moron, too.
After posting a story about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, the Times had to post this retraction
In related news, there's probably a new job opening at the NY Times.
After poor ratings and a complaint letter from a lawyers group, NBC has canceled Bad Judge. Put another way, because of poor ratings, and entirely coincidental to a lawyers group hating the show, NBC has canceled Bad Judge.
My political post of the month: Props 45 and 46 are laws written to protect you and I - the consumer, the common person.. They are opposed by large profitable corporate interests. They are deceiving you into thinking these laws are about something that they are not and if you only watch the TV ads, you're going to vote against these propositions even if you are actually in favor of their goals.
So this was floating around my Facebook feed today:
And I thought, "I'd bet a large sum of money that this person has publicly commented at least once about a person's appearance." So I went to her Twitter account and did a quick search for the term "Limbaugh". Sure enough, the first hit was a jab at his looks.
Admittedly, Limbaugh is not a handsome man, but if you're going to have standards, one is better than two. Or, as Erin Gloria Ryan should say, you may not agree with a man, but to criticize his appearance - as opposed to his ideas or actions - isn't doing anyone any favors, least of all you....
So I'm sure, then, what to make of all the nazi and swastika stuff that you can buy on Etsy. Has Etsy made the editorial decision that nazis and swastikas are less offensive that the Washington Redkins? Or is Etsy just incompetent at enforcing its listing guidelines?
*In the interest of full disclosure, I am either 1/64 or 1/128 Native American, depending upon which family genealogy you believe. Although this makes me more Native American that noted Native American U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, I am not a registered member of any tribe and I do not really self-identify as a Native American. I like that part of my heritage, but it does not significantly affect my world view.
"When faced with a blinking red light, you're not going to BELIEVE what one woman did at a busy intersection..."
With photo of anxious female driver, like this:
"She let a pedestrian cross all the way before entering the intersection. 'There were people behind me honking', said Martha Smith, 'but I have just learned in traffic school that they have the right of way until they reach the curb."
[followed by boring traffic safety crap I already knew and would never clicked on had I known the article was going to suck like this]
[smacks self in face *hard* for having clicked a link to such a stupid story]
O Captain! My Captain! Rise up and hear the bells. Rise up, for you the flag is flung, for you the bugle trills.
How brilliant was Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come, August Rush, Insomnia, One Hour Photo and The Fisher King? But Show me 10 actors who were brilliant in more than one completely disturbing role, and I'll show you at least 9 actors who have a dark side and struggles and personal demons that you just don't about.
And yet, the duality of life was never more plainly shown than it was in Williams, who also showed his genius in the portrayals of inspiring characters like John Keating, from the Dead Poets Society.
"Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."
The people of Detroit should consider sending their kids to the southern border of Texas and telling them to claim they are from South America. At least then they would have water and shelter, instead of what they have now.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” unless the Government “demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” 42 U. S. C. §§2000bb–1(a), (b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” §2000cc–5(7)(A).At issue here are regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), which, as relevant here, requires specified employers’ group health plans to furnish “preventive care and screenings” for women without “any cost sharing requirements,”42 U. S. C. §300gg–13(a)(4). Congress did not specify what types of preventive care must be covered; it authorized the Health Resources and Services Administration, a component of HHS, to decide. Ibid. Nonexempt employers are generally required to provide coverage for the 20 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including the 4 that may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus. Religious employers, such as churches, are exempt from this contraceptive mandate. HHS has also effectively exempted religious nonprofit organizations with religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services. Under this accommodation, the insurance issuer must exclude contraceptive coverage from the employer’s plan and provide plan participants with separate payments for contraceptive services without imposing any cost sharing requirements on the employer, its insurance plan, or its employee beneficiaries.
In these cases, the owners of three closely held for-profit corporations have sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point. In separate actions, they sued HHS and other federal officials and agencies (collectively HHS) under RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause, seeking to enjoin application of the contraceptive mandate insofar as it requires them to provide health coverage for the four objectionable contraceptives. In No. 13–356, the District Court denied the Hahns and their company—Conestoga Wood Specialties—a preliminary injunction. Affirming, the Third Circuit held that a for-profit corporation could not “engage in religious exercise” under RFRA or the First Amendment, and that the mandate imposed no requirements on the Hahns in their personal capacity. In No. 13–354, the Greens, their children, and their companies—Hobby Lobby Stores and Mardel—were also denied a preliminary injunction, but the Tenth Circuit reversed. It held that the Greens’ businesses are “persons” under RFRA, and that the corporations had established a likelihood of success on their RFRA claim because the contraceptive mandate substantially burdened their exercise of religion and HHS had not demonstrated a compelling interest in enforcing the mandate against them; in the alternative, the court held that HHS had not proved that the mandate was the “least restrictive means” of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
Held: As applied to closely held corporations, the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA. Pp. 16–49.
(a) RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, and Mardel. Pp. 16–31.
(1) HHS argues that the companies cannot sue because they are for-profit corporations, and that the owners cannot sue because the regulations apply only to the companies, but that would leave merchants with a difficult choice: give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits of operating as corporations. RFRA’s text shows that Congress designed the statute t provide very broad protection for religious liberty and did not intend to put merchants to such a choice. It employed the familiar legal fiction of including corporations within RFRA’s definition of “persons,” but the purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of people associated with the corporation, including shareholders, officers, and employees. Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them. Pp. 16–19.
(2) HHS and the dissent make several unpersuasive arguments. Pp. 19–31.
(i) Nothing in RFRA suggests a congressional intent to depart from the Dictionary Act definition of “person,” which “include[s] corporations, . . . as well as individuals.” 1 U. S. C. §1. The Court has entertained RFRA and free-exercise claims brought by nonprofit corporations. See, e.g., Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficiente União do Vegetal, 546 U. S. 418. And HHS’s concession that a nonprofit corporation can be a “person” under RFRA effectively dispatches any argument that the term does not reach for-profit corporations; noconceivable definition of “person” includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but not for-profit corporations. Pp. 19–20.
(ii) HHS and the dissent nonetheless argue that RFRA does not cover Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, and Mardel because they cannot “exercise . . . religion.” They offer no persuasive explanation for this conclusion. The corporate form alone cannot explain it because RFRA indisputably protects nonprofit corporations. And the profitmaking objective of the corporations cannot explain it because the Court has entertained the free-exercise claims of individuals who were attempting to make a profit as retail merchants. Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U. S. 599. Business practices compelled or limited by the tenets of a religious doctrine fall comfortably within the understanding of the “exercise of religion” that this Court set out in Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U. S. 872, 877. Any suggestion that for-profit corporations are incapable of exercising religion because their purpose is simply to make money flies in the face of modern corporate law. States, including those in which the plaintiff corporations were incorporated, authorize corporations to pursue any lawful purpose or business, including the pursuit of profit in conformity with the owners’ religious principles. Pp. 20–25.
(iii) Also flawed is the claim that RFRA offers no protection because it only codified pre-Smith Free Exercise Clause precedents, none of which squarely recognized free-exercise rights for for-profit corporations. First, nothing in RFRA as originally enacted suggested that its definition of “exercise of religion” was meant to be tied to pre-Smith interpretations of the First Amendment. Second, if RFRA’s original text were not clear enough, the RLUIPA amendment surely dispels any doubt that Congress intended to separate the definition ofthe phrase from that in First Amendment case law. Third, the pre-Smith case of Gallagher v. Crown Kosher Super Market of Mass., Inc., 366 U. S. 617, suggests, if anything, that for-profit corporations can exercise religion. Finally, the results would be absurd if RFRA, a law enacted to provide very broad protection for religious liberty, merely restored this Court’s pre-Smith decisions in ossified form and restricted RFRA claims to plaintiffs who fell within a category of plaintiffs whose claims the Court had recognized before Smith. Pp. 25–28.
(3) Finally, HHS contends that Congress could not have wanted RFRA to apply to for-profit corporations because of the difficulty of ascertaining the “beliefs” of large, publicly traded corporations, but HHS has not pointed to any example of a publicly traded corporation asserting RFRA rights, and numerous practical restraints would likely prevent that from occurring. HHS has also provided no evidence that the purported problem of determining the sincerity of an asserted religious belief moved Congress to exclude for-profit corporations from RFRA’s protection. That disputes among the owners of corporations might arise is not a problem unique to this context. State corporate law provides a ready means for resolving any conflicts by, for example, dictating how a corporation can establish its governing structure. Courts will turn to that structure and the underlying state law in resolving disputes. Pp. 29–31.
(b) HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion. Pp. 31–38.
(1) It requires the Hahns and Greens to engage in conduct that seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at conception. If they and their companies refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, they face severe economic consequences: about $475 million per year for Hobby Lobby, $33 million per year for Conestoga, and $15 million per year for Mardel. And if they drop coverage altogether, they could face penalties of roughly $26 million for Hobby Lobby,$1.8 million for Conestoga, and $800,000 for Mardel. P. 32.
(2) Amici supporting HHS argue that the $2,000 per-employee penalty is less than the average cost of providing insurance, and therefore that dropping insurance coverage eliminates any substantial burden imposed by the mandate. HHS has never argued this and the Court does not know its position with respect to the argument. But even if the Court reached the argument, it would find it unpersuasive: It ignores the fact that the plaintiffs have religious reasons for providing health-insurance coverage for their employees, and it is far from clear that the net cost to the companies of providing insurance is more than the cost of dropping their insurance plans and paying the ACA penalty. Pp. 32–35.
(3) HHS argues that the connection between what the objecting parties must do and the end that they find to be morally wrong is too attenuated because it is the employee who will choose the coverage and contraceptive method she uses. But RFRA’s question is whether the mandate imposes a substantial burden on the objecting parties’ ability to conduct business in accordance with their religious beliefs. The belief of the Hahns and Greens implicates a difficult and important question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the circumstances under which it is immoral for a person to perform an act that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facilitating the commission of an immoral act by another. It is not for the Court to say that the religious beliefs of the plaintiffs are mistaken or unreasonable. In fact, this Court considered and rejected a nearly identical argument in Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 U. S. 707. The Court’s “narrow function . . . is to determine” whether the plaintiffs’ asserted religious belief reflects “an honest conviction,” id., at 716, and there is no dispute here that it does. Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U. S. 672, 689; and Board of Ed. of Central School Dist. No. 1 v. Allen, 392 U. S. 236, 248–249, distinguished. Pp. 35–38.
(c) The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is a compelling governmental interest, but the Government has failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Pp. 38–49.
(1) The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is compelling within the meaning of RFRA. Pp. 39–40.
(2) The Government has failed to satisfy RFRA’s least restrictive-means standard. HHS has not shown that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion. The Government could, e.g., assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives to women unable to obtain coverage due to their employers’ religious objections. Or it could extend the accommodation that HHS has already established for religious nonprofit organizations to non-profit employers with religious objections to the contraceptive mandate. That accommodation does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion and it still serves HHS’s stated interests. Pp. 40–45.
(3) This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice. United States v. Lee, 455 U. S. 252, which upheld the payment of Social Security taxes despite an employer’s religious objection, is not analogous. It turned primarily on the special problems associated with a national system of taxation; and if Lee were a RFRA case, the fundamental point would still be that there isno less restrictive alternative to the categorical requirement to pay taxes. Here, there is an alternative to the contraceptive mandate. Pp. 45–49.
No. 13–354, 723 F. 3d 1114, affirmed; No. 13–356, 724 F. 3d 377, reversed and remanded.
ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a concurring opinion. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined, and in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined as to all but Part III–C–1. BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., filed a dissenting opinion.
So if you travel to London and fall ill and slip into a coma, you might wake up in 25 years to a world in which you can smoke weed all over the place, but you have to buy your Marlboros from a sketchy drug dealer in a dark alley. And the signs in liquor stores would read "No one under the age of 39 may purchase cigarettes" and if you are 38, you are just screwed. You can't even buy them on your next birthday.