Photographer cannot decline to shoot lesbian wedding

“A New Mexico law forbids businesses open to the public to discriminate against gay people. Elaine Huguenin, a photographer, says she has no problem with that — so long as it does not force her to say something she does not believe.”

Your Bitemaster has no problem with blogging — or not blogging — about gay people. But he sure wouldn’t want the government to tell him which to do.

via Weighing Free Speech in Refusal to Photograph Lesbian Couple’s Ceremony –

Can a corporation have a religion?

“The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to consider religious objections made by corporations to a provision of the 2010 federal healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control. . . .

“The key question before the court in the two cases it agreed to hear is whether corporations should be treated the same as individuals when making free exercise of religion claims under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and a 1993 federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

via U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Obamacare contraception cases – NY Daily News.

Rush Limbaugh on Judicial Filibusters

December 24, 2004

  1. If the Senate Republicans aren’t prepared to end the unprecedented use by Senate Democrats of the filibuster rule against the president’s judicial nominees, the president will have a very tough time getting these re-nominated judicial candidates — and for that matter, Supreme Court nominees — confirmed.
  2. The so-called “nuclear option” — which should be called the Constitutional option — would end the use of the filibuster for judicial nominations. The Democrats are warning that if the Republicans change the filibuster rule, then all hell will break loose. I cannot think of anything worse than what they’ve done, and will continue to do — which is prevent the president from appointing judges to the federal court.
  3. The Senate rules have never been used to block presidential judicial appointments. By threatening to use the filibuster, or actually invoking it, the Senate Democrats are requiring that a super-majority of 60 senators must, in essence, confirm a judge. There are 7 instances in which the Constitution provides for super-majority votes — convictions related to impeachment, adoption of treaties, expelling members, overriding vetoes, amending the Constitution, 14th Amendment, and 25th Amendment.
  4. The Senate has, under the Constitution, an “advice and consent” role. But it cannot use that role to impose a super-majority requirement on the president’s nomination function or on the rest of the Senate. After all, all senators have a right, under the Constitution, to provide their advice and consent, which means the right to a simple majority vote on the Senate floor.
  5. At no time in over 200 years, until the prior Senate, did senators contend that the filibuster could be used against judicial nominees. The point is that is was understood that the Constitution did not grant 41 senators the power to thwart the president’s judicial appointment power. The way we conservatives read the Constitution is to try to determine what the words mean, what the framers intended — we don’t assign broad meanings to words or look for loopholes.
  6. One last point – if the Senate, which has the constitutional right to make its own rules, decides that it wants to require a super-majority vote to pass certain bills, such as tax bills, that’s perfectly fine. Such a rule would NOT infringe on a presidential power. But to do so when it affects a presidential power, such as the appointment of judges, that would be unconstitutional.

via Rush’s Bullet Points on Judicial Filibusters – The Rush Limbaugh Show.

Lhota campaign may have paid for Bill De Blasio atheist smear

Five sound trucks promoting Joe Lhota cruised the city before the recent mayoral election, saying, among other things, “Bill de Blasio says he doesn’t believe in churches — and he doesn’t believe in God either,” reports the NY Daily News.

Joe Lhota told reporters at the NY Daily News that he did not authorize the sound trucks, which appeared to be organized by Dany Esquilin, who paid $2,000 for the campaign. However, the Daily News reported that Campaign Finance Disclosures showed that Team Lhota had paid one Dany Esquilin more than $26,000 in two payments last month.

Mayor Elect Bill De Blasio Quashes Atheism Rumors, Says He’s Spiritual But Unaffiliated.

Boeing may shift work from Seattle after union ‘No’ vote

Now that Boeing workers have rejected a contract, Boeing is threatening to move production of the 777X jet out of state.

Your Bitemaster is torn here: On the one hand he believes that unions are necessary to push back against the blood-sucking bosses; on the other hand, you gotta know when your opponenent is going to call your bluff.

Boeing may shift work from Seattle after union ‘No’ vote – Nov. 14, 2013.

Republican Alternatives To Obamacare

I didn’t think there were any Republican alternatives to Obamacare, but the dogged journalists at America’s Finest News Source tracked them down:

  • Repeating the phrase “you can keep your current doctor” over and over until something happens
  • Loosening regulations to allow Americans to ship ill and injured family members to cheaper doctors overseas
  • Whatever the opposite of tyranny is
  • Allowing sick Americans to choose how they exhaust their life savings on a single medical bill, even if it’s out of plan
  • A true market-based solution—perhaps a convenient website—where uninsured people would pay for their own health insurance from private providers
  • $2,500 cash incentive to the first person who cures cancer
  • A health care law that won’t allow the disgrace of another Benghazi
  • Unsettling language and several ominous-looking graphs labeled “Obamacare” followed by a breezy smile and soothing, unspecific words,34445/

NYC high schoolers can’t earn ‘0′ even if they skip class

That’s right: The lowest grade you can get in a NYC high school is a 55. Why? Because it would make it “extremely unlikely that a student can recover if the semester gets off to a difficult start.”

“It is common practice in high schools to establish 55 as the lowest grade awarded to students,” superintendent Juan Mendez wrote in an email to a teacher complaining about the policy. . . . education officials told The News that the practice is routine at other schools . . . “This is not an issue of grade inflation,” said schools spokeswoman Erin Hughes. “Schools do not typically use the full 0-100 scale for the reason that doing so makes it extremely unlikely that a student can recover if the semester gets off to a difficult start.”

Just another example of Bloomberg cooking the books at the Department of Education.

via NYC high schoolers can’t earn ‘0′ even if they skip class, miffed teachers say – NY Daily News.

“How’re we doing?” International math scores

Usually, your BiteMaster contents himself with sticking it to some blowhard but occasionally we try to spice things up with a fact or two.

Today we bring you the results of a study by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. Every four years they conduct the ponderous Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS. In 2011, they did a study of math education in 63 countries. I would have called it The Big Ass Study O’ Math. But they rejected my advice and named it TIMSS 2011 International Results in Mathematics (which expands to Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011 International Results in Mathematics). Like Dickens, they’re probably paid by the word.

If you want to read the Executive Summary, you can find it here.

But if you’re lazy like us, here’s the Really Short Version: we’re getting our asses kicked by Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong SAR, Chinese Taipei, and Japan.


Good news, bad news, scary news

The good news is that NYC students are doing a teensy bit better on the standardized tests:

The bad news is that the scores are still piss poor (only 35%-40% are proficient in math or reading).

The scary news is — hey!  They’re on par with the rest of the country.

The new results, released Thursday by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, found that 32 percent of New York public-school eighth-graders were proficient in math, up 2 percent over tests given in 2011. Only 35 percent were proficient in reading in 2013, the same as two years ago.

The good news is that fourth-graders are doing a bit better. Forty percent of them were rated proficient in math, up 4 percent over 2011, and 37 percent were proficient in reading, an ­increase of 2 percent.

The national numbers:

  • Math — 35 percent for eighth-graders, 42 percent for fourth-graders.
  • Reading — 36 percent for eighth-graders, 35 percent for fourth-graders.

60% of NY students not up to par | New York Post.