Random thoughts, 03 April 2009

2009/04/03

Just a few thoughts today, mostly because my brain doesn’t want to do any substantial thinking at the moment.

The President apparently wants everybody to get along. [1] I suspect that he will have far less success selling this idea than he would probably like. OTOH, he may gain some traction as we continue to “evolve” towards Euro-style socialist government programs and entitlements. Maybe, if we show the Europeans that we’re just like them, they’ll be happier with us. Or not. Societal opinions are notoriously difficult to change in a short amount of time.

I also note that the news media is continuing its fine tradition of creating “news” where, frankly, there is none. I say this WRT all the coverage being directed towards the First Lady and her exploits overseas. Ah well. People like having their circuses, I guess. Government-provided bread goes down much better when one is entertained (of course, the aforementioned bread still goes down better than that which is earned by sweat and toil; why work for something, when you can just have your elected representative vote for it to be provided to you, gratis?)

On an unrelated note, the Iowa Supreme Court has just struck down a state law making same-sex marriage illegal. [2] Their justification is based on the equal protection clause of the state constitution. [3] Personally, I don’t much care about whether same-sex marriage is legal or illegal; I’m willing to leave it up to the citizens of each state to make that determination. Same-sex marriage supporters won’t be able to use this to challenge California’s Proposition 8, however, as Prop 8 was a constitutional amendment, meaning that it changed the constitution itself to illegitimize same-sex marriage. I also don’t think said supporters have much to fear in terms of a national amendment; the Federal Constitution requires a 2/3rds vote from both houses of Congress or 2/3rds majority of the states themselves, just to propose an amendment. It takes support of 3/4 of all states to actually approve an amendment, [4] and I doubt that such substantial majorities exist across the nation. California constitutional amendment procedure, OTOH, also requires a 2/3rds majority of the state legislature to propose an amendment, but only a simple majority of voters to approve said amendment [5] – hence, the success of Prop 8 last fall. Methinks that the Federal provision is probably the wiser of the two. The Constitution contains provisions for modifying its stipulations based on changing circumstances, but such modifications should not be undertaken rashly, and having such high standards for approval ensures this.

Bumped into a couple of polls on Gallup.com that may have some interesting implications for future policy decisions. First, American Catholics apparently do not differ substantially from secular citizens in their support (or lack thereof) for abortion rights and stem cell research. [6] I find this intersting, given the Catholic Church’s official stance on such forms of research, [7] but I’m also not entirely surprised by the findings, either; gone are the days of the heavily authoritarian instruction in Catholic schools (notice how few of these schools have nuns as teachers anymore), or the “fire and brimstone” sermons from the pulpit, so I suppose this was to be expected. The other poll indicates that there is growing support throughout the nation for nuclear power. [8] I find this encouraging, though we shall have to wait and see if this translates into new policy initiatives from the current administration. One of the major ironies of the environmental movement is that oppose nuclear power on the grounds that the waste cannot be effectively managed, but nuclear power can alleviate much of our dependence on fossil fuels, potentially far sooner than other “green” technologies.

Finally, it appears that a massive piece of one of the Antarctic ice shelves is poised to break off. [9] Alarmists should not worry, though; as indicated by the scientists mentioned in the article, the ice is already floating on the ocean, so it will not contribute to any rise in ocean levels. [10] I would be interested to see how the climate change “scientists” intend to prove that this shelf breakaway is the result of global warming. Keep in mind that scientific theory does not become fact merely because one’s theory matches the observed results. Considering that we do not have accurate data regarding the extent of the ice shelves prior to relatively recently (this century, I think, though certainly not more than a few centuries’ worth of observations could be available), I find it difficult to believe that they could conclusively verify that the ice shelf deterioration is the direct result of anthropogenic climate change, and not the result of another natural cause, or, for that matter, a combination of many causal factors. Of course, given that global warming now has majority support in our national government, I suppose that this will provide additional ammunition for the climate change fanatics.

Notes:

[1]: CNN article, 03 April 2009.

[2]: Yahoo news article, 03 April 2009.

[3]: Full text of the opinion available here. (PDF warning)

[4]: Article V of the U.S. Constitution. See here for full text of the Constitution, from the U.S. Library of Congress.

[5]: Article 18, Section 2 of the California Constitution. See here for the relevent section.

[6]: Gallup poll, 30 March 2009.

[7]: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Part III, Paragraphs 2292 thru 2295. And yes, for those of you who may be shocked by this, I do own a catechism, and I do occasionally read parts of it, even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic.

[8]: Gallup poll, 20 March 2009.

[9]: CNN article, 03 April 2009.

[10]: Recall fluid displacement from your chemistry / physics classes of yore. You may recall the experiment where you put an ice cube into a glass of water, fill the glass until the water level is at the top of the glass, then wait for the ice cube to melt. You can easily verify this today, if you’ve got an hour or so; since the ice has already displaced the full volume of water equal to its liquid volume (once melted), it will not contribute to any additional rise in the water level once it has melted.

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One Response to “Random thoughts, 03 April 2009”

  1. Bill Walker Says:

    For the author’s information. While the Constitution does not require that applications for a convention call authorized under Article V be for the same amendment issue, many of the 700 applications submitted by all 50 states do contain amendment issue/subjects.

    These applications can be viewed and read at http://www.foavc.org. The Constitution requires a convention call if 34 states submit 34 applications for a convention call. Obviously a convention call is mandated.

    Among the amendment issues is a right to life amendment. Thirty two states have such application on this amendment issue alone. FOAVC is a non-partisan organization. We support no amendment issue but do inform people in our discussion of supporting an Article V Convention amendment issues that the public record contains as they are discussed in public forums such as this.

    The author is correct. It requires a two-thirds vote in a convention to propose any amendment. However, he is misinformed as to amount of state support that exists as the public record demonstrates.


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