Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
March 28, 2013
LAW/POLITICS: Same Sex Marriage Is Not the Same As Opposite Sex Marriage

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At the core of the two same-sex marriage cases argued this week before the Supreme Court is the fundamental question of whether the Constitution requires the state and federal governments to treat same-sex marriage exactly the same as traditional, opposite-sex marriage for all purposes for all time, or whether it is permissible to draw reasoned distinctions between the two, ranging from California's simple reservation of the term "marriage" to opposite-sex couples to the federal government's comprehensive reservation of all federal benefits of marriage (including joint tax filings, Social Security benefits and immigration status) to opposite-sex couples. I respectfully submit that this should not be a difficult question. Common human experience, basic biology, and existing social science all confirm that there are significant differences between SSM and traditional marriage. Whether or not you support SSM as a political and policy matter, there should be no doubt as a legal matter that the state has the same legitimate right that it has always possessed to draw distinctions between the two in the many, many areas of law that touch on marriage and family life.

I have not, over the years, spent much time or energy on the battle over political recognition of same-sex marriage; while I don't think it's a wise idea, it is also not likely to have enormous consequences, for reasons I discuss below. Democracy works, however imperfectly: things done legislatively can be modified or undone the same way, can be adapted in different ways to the needs of different jurisdictions, and can be passed or amended with protections for conscientious dissent. Personally, for two decades, I've supported the "live and let live" option of civil unions, the moderate solution that allows people the freedom to choose whatever partner they want and make a life together, with the basic rights of contract, inheritance, hospital visitation and the like. Call it a marriage if you want, but without the official endorsement and coercive power of the state behind the name.

But the democratic process is one thing. A judicial determination that the Constitution prohibits recognition of any distinctions between the two institutions for all time would have much more far-reaching effects on our laws - effects we may not even be able to anticipate or foresee until creative lawyers have gone off to the races with this freshly-minted legal doctrine. We have seen, over and over, how changes in law and policy produce unforeseen or unintended consequences in the family and society; the institution of marriage in particular has buckled badly under a long series of liberal social experiments over the past five decades. You'd think that by now we would at least have learned to stop using irrevocable court decisions to open Pandora's Box.

It does the law no good to pretend things that are not so. Whatever the merits of SSM, it is not the same thing as marriage between a man and a woman, and the differences are neither irrational nor insignificant. Even if you support SSM, the only reasonable conclusion is that male-male or female-female marriage is not the same as male-female marriage. Let us count the most obvious ways.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:30 PM | Enemies of Science • | Law 2009-13 | Comments (32)
March 25, 2013
POLITICS: Christine Quinn and the NY City Council Punish The Creation of Jobs

Christine Quinn

It would be hard to design a more obvious example of why New York City employers should be terrified of Christine Quinn's Mayoral ambitions than the passage earlier this month of an unprecedented bill allowing lawsuits for damages by unemployed job-seekers against any employer that tries to hire in the City:

When the law takes effect in three months, the city will be the fourth place in the country with some form of legislation against discriminating against unemployed job-seekers. But it will be alone in letting applicants sue employers for damages over claims that they were rejected because of their joblessness.

The measure, backed by Quinn, passed over a veto by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg has made a lot of headlines with his social liberal nanny-state-ism, but he remains mostly a moderate on this sort of bread-and-butter business-climate issue; it can and will get a lot worse for New Yorkers if Quinn or one of the other Democratic aspirants becomes the first Democratic Mayor of New York since David Dinkins was run out of town on a rail in 1993, kicking off the city's economic, safety and quality-of-life renaissance.

Employment discrimination law is already a costly and dysfunctional mess, but at least there are legitimate reasons why we tolerate some of that in the name of deterring, say, racial discrimination. But being unemployed is not any sort of immutable characteristic subject to historic claims of discrimination, and what's more, some people are unemployed for good reasons that should set off prospective employers' alarm bells. It's in the self-interest of any employer to tell the difference between those applicants and people who got blindsided by a bad economy - and historically, when the job market heats up, employers get a lot less picky about hiring people who have been out of work. But creating a new right to sue for damages is a serious deterrent to hiring, given that each new job opening could potentially lead to multiple lawsuits, to say nothing of the levels of legal review that must be added to protect companies against such suits in advance.

New York City is alone in taking this step, but not for lack of trying by liberals characteristically oblivious to consequences:

Unemployment-discrimination laws have been floated around the country in recent years. President Barack Obama proposed one in 2011, and New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., have passed laws barring jobs ads that say applicants must be employed. New Jersey, which enacted the first such measure in 2011, has cited at least one company for an ad that excluded jobless applicants, its state Labor Department says.

But the concept has hit roadblocks in other states. California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed an unemployment-discrimination measure last fall, indicating he wasn't happy with changes made to it. At least 15 other states have considered the idea but haven't enacted it.

We are in the midst of an era of unchained liberal hubris, the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1970s. If Christine Quinn becomes the Mayor, expect New York to adopt still more ideas too pie-in-the-sky liberal for Jerry Brown or Mike Bloomberg.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:35 AM | Politics 2013 | Comments (1)
March 22, 2013
HISTORY: In The Midst of Great Evil

This Der Spiegel look at Albert Goring, brother of Hermann Goring, is really a fascinating piece of history.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:26 PM | History | Comments (0)
March 21, 2013
POLITICS: Ahead of His Time

Those of us who supported Rick Perry over Mitt Romney in 2012 can take a small measure of vindication in this look at how Perry was ahead of the curve on immigration, education, entitlements and other issues in terms of anticipating where the GOP would be headed next. That's without even mentioning Perry's tax plan or his stances on Turkey and Syria.

If Perry had been the nominee in 2012, it's hard to see what states he loses that Romney won; the worst that happens is that he ends up more or less with the same electoral results as Romney and possibly a worse popular vote margin. But how the race's dynamics unfold? That's unknowable. On the upside, we're finally done with Romney, and can have a Romney-less contested primary for the first time since 2000.

Perry has an outstanding record and resume, but my sense is that he's best off playing Goldwater to the next nominee's Reagan rather than trying to run again himself. There's plenty of younger talent ready to go, and he'd have an uphill battle to unmake his first impression.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:39 PM | Politics 2012 • | Politics 2013 • | Politics 2016 | Comments (5)
March 4, 2013
BLOG: Operational Issues

So, I'm still trying to get the comments section fixed, it seems of late that real comments are going to the junk folder (just finally got through that and approved a bunch of old ones, sorry about that) while tons of spam is getting through.

I'm also experimenting with some changes to the font and other layout items, but nothing too dramatic, I promise.

PS - what really threw me is not even getting email alerts of the comments that got sent to the junk file after I slightly increased the aggressiveness of the spam filter.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:21 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (4)