The Skewed Market

Childcare is hard to find in Minnesota – a state where daycare costs are already among the highest in the nation, per-capita.

And it’s even harder in Greater Minnesota.

Eight months before her due date, Angie Steinbach started calling day cares to reserve a spot for her baby.

Nobody had an opening as far as Marshall or Willmar — both a 45-minute drive away. Steinbach got on waiting lists “behind people who hadn’t even conceived yet,” she said.

When Steinbach’s boy was born, her husband — who had just earned a degree in computers — planned to stay home with their son. The couple didn’t find a way for them both to work until a relative tipped them to an opening at a child care in Granite Falls.

“You just don’t realize until you actually experience it firsthand just how bad the shortage is,” said Steinbach, community development director for the city of Montevideo.

Large parts of rural Minnesota don’t have enough child care for working families. Finding a place for newborns is especially difficult.

The piece does a fairly useful job of citing the economic problems that the shortage is causing.

What it doesn’t do is explain how the DFL’s strategy of raising the cost and crimping the supply of childcare with its daycare union jamdown is going to help anything.

Lawless

The second-biggest problem this nation faces today – behind the fact that our financial system, left to run the way it is today, is going to crash sooner than later – is the fact that too much of our government operates outside the law.

Of course, that fact grabs headlines when Obama’s administration tramples the law to oppress conservative groups – and by “headlines”, we mean “not in the mainstream media”, but headlines nonetheless.

It even gets notice on the retail level when government’s agents – the cops – make up the law as they go along.

But in the long term, it may be most toxic when the “justice” system decides it can operate outside the law.  Whether it’s a corrupt, pettifogging Mike Nifong bending the rules to help his re-election bid…

…or a piece of garbage in a judge costune who decides the law is what she says it is:

A judge has ordered Matthew Hindes to appear in court or face contempt, despite the fact that he’s out at sea and there’s a federal law meant to help those who are deployed.

Sailor Hindes already won custody of his daughter – four years ago.  Now he’s a crewman on, concidentally, the USS Michigan ,a ballistic missile submarine.

The Serviceman’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was designed to protect servicepeople from being ambushed by legal actions (foreclosures, lawsuits, and yes, custody battles) while they’re deployed and defending the country, frequently in situations where keeping focus on their jobs is a matter of life or death for them and – in the case of a submarine crew – 150 other men.   By law, judges are to stay all actions for a minimum of 90 days while servicepeople carry out their duty to this country.

But Hindes’ ex-wife filed a motion in their apparently ongoing custody battle.  And – SCRA notwithstanding – the judge has declared herself above the law, and is demanding that Hindes crap out a miracle:

But circuit court judge Margaret Noe in Michigan denied that protection for Hindes. The Daily Telegram quotes the judge, “If the child is not in the care and custody of the father, the child should be in the care and custody of the mother.” But sailor Hindes argues the child was taken from the ex-wife four years ago for neglect.

Let’s not mince words:  Judge Noe is a martinet, and a pig, and a “human” only in the strictest biological sense of the term.  She is unfit to walk on the same street as Hindes, much less suspend the law in regard to his case.   She is a piece of animal offal with two legs and a law degree.

Military lawyers are now joining the effort to get a delay in the case. In the meantime Hindes remains deployed serving his country.

I hope those military lawyers start with tossing Noe’s actions thus far.  And then impeach “her” from the bench.  And then clap her in the stocks to be pelted with garbage and jeers, especially from other serving servicepeople, not to mention the rare custodial father.  Then it’d be nice to deport her to North Korea, where she belongs and into whose ruling class she would likely fit nicely, at least ideologically.  And I hope they film the whole thing, to show it to any other petty government functionary who tries to operate like the law is their personal byotch.

That’d be merciful.  “Judge” Noe should be happy I’m not this nation’s absolute ruler.  Then, things would get nasty.

Hindes’ supporters have Facebook pages here and here.

In Re: The Matter Of Brandon Eich: Comment 1 Of Many

To:  Gay rights supporters doing the end-zone happy dance (to an impeccable techno beat) over the lynching of Brandon Eich
From: Mitch Berg, uppity libertarian-conservative Christian
Re:  Forgiveness and Memory

Dear activists,

To all of you who are doing the end-zone happy dance over the ouster of Brandon Eich as CEO at Mozilla?   A couple of points:

The “H” Word:  I’m one who believes the word is very, very over-used in our society today – but it applies here:  if you have ever, even once, said “politics is too nasty, vitriolic and rancorous”, but support the Eich ouster, then you are a hypocrite.

And The “F” Words:  A lot of libertarian conservatives – including, on some facets of the issue, yours truly – did battle with our own tribe on this issue, supporting the idea of same sex unions to one degree or another (in my case, I support civil unions, while wanting government out of the business of sanctioning civil statuses altogether).    I didn’t expect much better out of Big Gay – any more than I do out of any other Big Left movement – but I know a lot of libertarian-conservatives are feeling burned today.  Many of us will forgive, but we don’t forget.

Wind, Whirlwing, Et Al:   Read Matt Walsh’s piece on the subject.  We’ll talk.  Oh, yes.  We will.

That is all.

 

This Is What Democracy Acts Like

Most people – even pro-”choice” Democrats - h favor some sort of restriction on later-term abortions, like the proposed 20 week limit in Texas:

A recent WSJ/NBC news poll has some data that might shock Democrats: Wendy Davis and her sneakers aside, a plurality of Americans support 20 week abortion bans of the kind passed in Texas. Forty-four percent of respondents said they would support the ban, with 37 percent opposed. And the numbers get more interesting the further down you dig. WSJ:

The Journal/NBC poll showed a complexity of views on the bans. More women than men supported the state bans, 46% to 40%. Even college-educated women, a group that strongly supports abortion rights, tipped toward favoring the 20-week restrictions.

And, of course, when you expand the field of questioning from 20-week bans to late-term restrictions in general, the support gets even higher. As Gallup found, “One of the clearest messages from Gallup trends is that Americans oppose late-term abortion.”

As much as liberals genuflect to Europe, you’d think that the fact that even France and Germany put even tighter time limits on abortion – 10-12 weeks, the last I checked – would start even some of them thinking.

And maybe it has, if this poll tells us anything.

Hold The Straw

One of the least useful arguments against gay marriage was “so it’s about love?  So if you love your goat, or a child, you could marry them?”

Neither goats nor children (age of consent laws notwithstanding) have standing to sign contracts, of course.  It’s kind of a strawman.

But the other, inevitable part of the argument is “so what about polygamy?”

Remember – it’s all about love, and civil rights.  And groups of people most definitely do sign contracts.  So who are we to hold our antiquated “monogamous” standards over polygamists’ heads?

No, it’s not a strawman

What’s magical about the number two?

In fact, you could argue that there is an even better argument for polygamy than for same sex marriage. For one thing, there’s a long tradition (just look at the heroes of the Old Testament.) It’s also intimately tied to religious practice, which means that by prohibiting polygamy, we might also be undermining the “free exercise thereof.”

Why should we impose our values on others?

Now, you might say that there is historical evidence to support the fact that polygamy is bad for women and children. This is sophistry. The truth is that right now about half of all marriages end in divorce, and lots of kids are already struggling, so it’s not like traditional marriage is a panacea. Besides, nobody is forcing you to be a polygamist. This is a choice.

And unlike gay marriage, which is entirely a modern Western social construct, Polygamy has occurrred througout human history, including our own. 

There are practical reasons, too. It’s harder and harder these days to make ends meet. As a man, I can only imagine how much more efficient it would be to have one wife in the workforce and another wife at home with the kids. This would be much better for the children than shipping them off to some nursery school. And having three parents is a lot better than having just one … or none.

Yesterday’s SCOTUS decision, and last fall’s election in Minnesota, had clear-ish verdicts; “marriage” is “about love” and “civil rights”.

So what – legally - is the difference between a monogamous and polyamorous family unit, since those are the standards?

Rear Guard Action

The GOP minority in the Senate managed to filibuster the daycare union jamdown last night – as in “up until 7AM”.

It wasn’t a “filibuster”, per se – the GOP added over 80 amendments to the jamdown, and debated them vigorously.  As of sixish AM, they’d gotten through a couple dozen, with dozens to go, and Tom Bakk tabled the  bill.  There are other things to get done.

Like maybe a budget.

The jamdown may come back.  But so will the amendments.

Cross your fingers, and stay tuned.  The good guys may pull this one off.

Upside

I’ve long said that the upside to any change in the law recognizing “gay marriage” would be that finally, once and for all, we could dispense with the notion of the Magic Gay Couple; more loving, more solid, more just-plain-worthy than all of us dirty imperfect Breeders.

Cable TV host David Tutera and his, er, husband are well on the way toward resolving this cultural problem:

On Tuesday, People magazine reportedTutera is divorcing Ryan Jurica. They married in Vermont in 2003 and had a domestic partnership in California. The two had been together for 10 years and are expecting twins via a surrogate in July.

Tutera filed the divorce papers in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 19, citing “irreconcilable differences,” according to People. He has been separated from Jurica since Jan. 1 and is seeking full custody of the children. Tutera does not want to pay spousal support and requests Jurica take responsibility for the legal fees.

The breakup saga took a wild turn Wednesday when TMZ reported Jurica filed his own papers in Connecticut. He reportedly claims the TV host has a sex addiction and visits prostitutes.

 I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; gays will not be fully equal in our society until we’ve dispensed with the idea of the Magic Gay Couple.

Nobody Can Stop At One

Joe Doakes from Como Park writes to the Minnesota Bar Association:

To the Chairman:

The amendment to prevent gay marriage from being court-imposed on equal protection grounds, was defeated. Gay marriage is only a matter of time. Our statutes are mostly gender-neutral already, it won’t be hard to adapt to “spouse-spouse.” But after we substitute individual rights for Judeo-Christian tradition as our intellectual model for marriage, why should equal protection stop at two spouses?

A billion people live in plural marriages in Muslim nations. Minnesota has an active and growing Muslim population. Muslims in England and Canada have obtained government benefits for multiple wives on equal protection grounds. Why should equal protection stop at welfare benefits; why not all civil rights flowing from marriage, the same parade of horrors used to justify gay marriage?

Adapting the statutes for three spouses will be trickier than for two. Must the Senior Wife consent to adding a Junior Wife? Do the Junior Wife’s children receive less child support? When the Junior Wife divorces, does she get a third or only half of the Husband’s half? If one woman has two husbands, who pays child support? Who gets custody – the departing biological mother or the remaining primary caregiver?

Lawyers advise clients to make contingency plans; well, we should take our own advice. The Bar Association should establish a Plural Marriage Legislation Committee now, so we’re ready when the time comes. It’s only a matter of time.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

After all, why should be westerners be imposing our values on them?

And all those years we spent browbeating the H’mong out of child marriage?  What right did we have, really?

If two people – or five people, or one adult and a 13 year old girl – love each other, what right do we have to get in the way?

It’s about love, right?

Back To The Parental Plantation

On most issues, I’m pretty detached – clinical, really.  Politics, really, is mostly just politics.

But my blood shot from Scandinavian cool to full boil yesterday with the news that our plutocratic playboy rent-a-governor vetoed the Custody Reform bill we talked about earlier this week:

Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed the final bill of 2012, an attempt to change the child custody formula to guarantee parents more time with their children

“Both proponents and opponents make compelling arguments in support of their respective positions,” Dayton wrote in a Thursday letter to the Legislature, after opting not to sign the custody bill, essentially issuing a pocket veto of the legislation.

Right now, Minnesota law presumes that both parents in a custody settlement will get a minimum amount of time — 25 percent of the year — with their child. The bill would have increased that minimum to 35 percent.

Supporters of the change said it would give non-custodial parents more quality time with a child than every other weekend and two weeks during the summer — a breakdown that doesn’t even equal 25 percent of the child’s year.

The bill isn’t the bill that I wanted – which would have created a rebuttable presumption that joint physical custody was in the best interests of the children involve.d

No, this will merely created a presumption (rebuttable, of course) that children should have 35% of their time with the “non-custodial parent”, and that this calculation should be used in calculating child support. .

And that would have been very, very much in the “best interest of the children”:

Opponents said the new formula took control away from courts and was designed to represent a parent’s interest more than the child’s.

That is a completely meaningless phrase – one that the bill’s various opponents have been chanting mindlessly ever since the veto came out, and can only have come from someone who doesn’t have children, or has never dealt with chidlren of otherwise-capable divorced parents.

What could be more in the “best interest of the children” than spending more time with both parents?

In his letter to lawmakers, Dayton said there was too much uncertainty about how the change in the custody formula might affect children. But he urged lawmakers to take up debate on the issue again during the 2013 session.

When, he hopes, a DFL majority will make it a non-issue.  Otherwise, he’ll veto it again.

Look – Governor Dayton’s veto was loathsome unforgiveable, and I hope he answers to a higher power for it someday.  But it’s understandable; he’s acting at the bidding of the radical feminists who are among his most vital constituents.  And radical feminists hate any divorce reform – because that would involve reforming the transfer of money from men to women that has sprung from the de facto alimony system that the child support system has become.

But I’m not as angry with Governor Dayton  - who, let’s be honest, isn’t doing any of the thinking, he’s just doing what his shareholders tell him to do – as I am with the legislators of both parties who cut the guts out of the original reform proposal (which would have created the rebuttable presumption of joint physical custody).   They, not our playboy plutocrat rent-a-governor, are the ones who see and hear the pain caused by the barbarism of our current divorce system.

(Yes, I’m looking at  you, Steve Smith; if you run in the primary, I will do everything I can to see that Cindy Pugh crushes you without mercy).

Off In Limbo

With all of the billionaire-pork-bill signing and job-creation-bill-vetoing of the last week of the legislative session, there is one curious omission,.

It’s HF 322, the bill to change Minnesota’s family court laws to provide a rebuttable presumption of joint physical custody in divorce cases.

That means that unless there is a clear, compelling reason not to – substance abuse, criminal record, gross inability to raise kids, record of abuse and so on – that the parents will be presumed competent to share custody of the children.

That is as opposed to the current system, where the presumption is that full custody will be awarded to the parent that ticks off the greatest number of evaluation criteria from a list of about a dozen that judges use; whichever parent “wins” the most of those criteria “wins” physical custody, and child support, and the whole nine yards.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know it’s been a hot button topic of mine forever.  Raising kids is hard enough with a functional family. The number of social ills that trace back to the huge number of single-parent households is absolutely overwhelming.

The bill was presented to the Governor on May 11, with plenty of bipartisan support.

And it’s still sitting on his desk.

Of course, two key DFL constituencies – radical feminists and lawyers – oppose the bill.  The feminists dislike the loss of child support money and the fact that joint custody puts a legal hurdle over women taking “their” children and going anywhere they want to go regardless of the kids’ relationship to a father they deem unnecessary and seemingly (to look at their rhetoric on the issue) presume to be a drunk abuser anyway.

The lawyers’ line is “if a couple can’t agree on enough to stay married,  how are they going to agree on raising kids together”.  But the current system deliberately introduces the stress of a winner-takes-all system into the dissolution of the relationship – the prospect of “losing” ones’ children – which heaps piles of emotional stress (and the billable hours they bring!) onto an already awful situation.  Lawyers oppose the presumption of joint physical custody because it trims down the cash cow of divorce.

Why won’t the governor sign this bill?

Hope For Change

I’ve had not a few things to say about the family law system in this country, and in this state, over the years.  The disintegration of the family is a plague on the society – and needs to be addressed.

But while we’re working on fixing that, there’s some slightly-lower-hanging fruit to deal with; the divorce and child custody systems.

As I noted earlier this week, there’s a proposal in the Senate to create a “rebuttable presumption” that joint physical custody is, in fact, in the best interests of the children in divorces.

Joe Doakes – a lawyer – writes:

I was a divorce lawyer for a dozen years in the late 80’s-early 90’s. My experience and research is 20 years out of date but I think [the proposal to create a presumption of joint physical custody] is still good law.

Minnesota divorce law contemplates two kinds of child custody: legal custody (which parent makes decisions about the kid’s religion, education, medical attention) and physical custody (which parent does the kid live with).

Legal custody is usually shared because even if Mom and Dad can’t live together, they generally can set aside their differences long enough to make important decisions about health and education. The proposed law would not change that.

Minnesota’s physical custody statute 518.17, 2011 Minnesota Statutes, sets forth a list of detailed factors the Court must consider before awarding physical custody to one parent or the other when joint custody is sought. The fundamental test is “best interests of the child.” One of those factors is “primary caretaker” and the factors to determine who that was, were set forth by the Minnesota Supreme Court in Pikula v. Pikula, 374 N.W.2d 705 (1985) as:

“ . . . (1) preparing and planning of meals; (2) bathing, grooming and dressing; (3) purchasing, cleaning, and care of clothes; (4) medical care, including nursing and trips to physicians; (5) arranging for social interaction among peers after school, i.e. transporting to friends’ houses or, for example, to girl or boy scout meetings; (6) arranging alternative care, i.e. babysitting, day-care, etc.; (7) putting child to bed at night, attending to child in the middle of the night, waking child in the morning; (8) disciplining, i.e. teaching general manners and toilet training; (9) educating, i.e., religious, cultural, social, etc.; and, (10) teaching elementary skills, i.e., reading, writing and arithmetic. . . . “ Pikula, at 713. [case attached]

For convenience, I’ll call this the “primary caretaker” system as that seems to be the emphasis.

And these factors that undercut the notion that “the system is biased against men” – it’s really a matter of counting up how many factors each parent “wins” – and points you to the truth; it’s biased against traditional male gender roles.  Parents can be “tied” on every single factor in determining custody – every single factor - but if the children spend four days a week with Mom as the main caretaker, and three with Dad, then that’s the factor that’ll settle custody.

From what I’ve read in the news accounts, there doesn’t seem to be any dispute about the basic facts: the primary caretaker system gives Mom custody 85% of the time; single-mother households struggle with poverty; and children raised in poverty in single-parent households fare less well than children raised in poverty from two-parent households.

Mothers are different than fathers; there’s a reason humans evolved to have one of each in the “ideal” household.  Girls who grow up with impaired relationships with fathers statistically grow up with self-respect issues, depression and all sorts of trouble finding surrogate daddy figures in their lives.  Boys without fathers simultaneously grow up unable to process anger effectively and, perversely, risk averse; mothers are not generally temperamentally the physical risk-takers among kids’ parents.

There doesn’t seem to be any dispute with the conclusion that the primary caretaker system is an abysmal failure for many children.

From those facts and that conclusion, it seems fair to say that the primary caretaker system is NOT in the children’s best interests.

Now, saying the primary caretaker system is bad doesn’t mean this proposed legislation is good. But if we’re convinced the primary caretaker system is not in the children’s best interests, then it follows that we have a moral obligation to junk it. For the children.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

There are arguments against the presumption of joint physical custody.  Feminists insist that it’ll allow “abusive fathers” to raise children; the law would, in fact, allow proof of abusiveness to “rebut” the presumption – which would give men actual legal rights, which irks feminists.  Currently, as many as half of all allegations of abuse during divorces are shown to be false, raised purely to affect the custody process.  And it works.  Requiring allegations of abuse to meet a legal standard to rebut the presumption of joint custody would be a huge step forward.   That’s why feminists hate the proposal.

The “family law” lobby’s objections, if anything, are more cynical.  Their line is “if a couple can’t get along well enough to settle their differences enough to stay married, how can we possibly expect them to act in their kids’ best interest?”  Of course, one of the reasons divorces are so ungodly emotional is because it’s a winnter-takes-all system that costs hundreds of dollars an hour and ends with one party – usually the father – exiled from the kids’ lives.  The system – and the worst of the lawyers who earn their living from it – carefully fan that fear.

Any legislator, GOP or DFL, who opposes this proposal is going to get a molten-hot earful from me.

Marginal Notes On A Marginal Poll

I’m going to go back to Dave Mindeman’s piece at mnpACT, about the most recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of Minnesota politics, for the numbers on some issues that don’t pertain to Governor Dayton and the Legislature.

Minnesota’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is headed for a close vote. 48% of voters say they support it while 44% are opposed.

I neither support nor oppose the Amendment, but I have a fearless prediction; if the PPP poll, which trends a little left and features a left-heavy sample, calls it a four point race today, it’ll be 49-41 in November.

Let’s go back to the whole “people like their own bastards” bit:  Mindeman, mindful of the poll results, asks:

So, WHERE is the DFL candidates for MN-02 and MN-06 ? MN-03 and MN-08 seem to have multiple candidates in the mix …. if there are going to be any coattails from the top to help the State Legislature candidates, doesn’t there need to be someone in every district ?

There are two answers:  First, it’s further evidence that people like their own bastards; while national polling shows that Congress is less popular than Slobodan Milosevic, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to know that John Kline and Michele Bachmann will win their districts by 30 and 15 points respectively, even if the Dems endorsed Zombie JFK to run for the office.

“Even though Congress is unpopular?”

Yep.  As noted earlier today, polls of legislative bodies as a whole are almost always misleading.  Congress may be unpopular; Kline and Bachmann are not.

BTW … do you think the mature approach that Governor Dayton has taken on the Vikiings stadium has helped … even if the taxpayers don’t want to pay for it, they sure don’t want to the lose the business … and obviously the Governor is trying.

If by “mature approach” Mindeman means coming out of his closet long enough to croak “Uh want ivverbaddy to git to WOARK and sulve the prollum”, then retreating to the closet and letting the Legislature, the cities, the counties, the NFL and Wilf do all the work?  It may or may not be “mature”, but it’s certainly easier on the poll numbers.

Toss

The other day, Sally Jo Sorenson at snarkblog Blue Stem Prairie wrote:

Just this morning Bluestem observed that we simply can’t make this stuff up about the Republican Party of Minnesota when it comes to scandal and mayhem.

And if she could make stuff up, she’d be writing for Cucking Stool.

But I digress:

Tonight on 45 Local News’ 9:00 p.m. broadcast, Jay Kolls reported that Representative Steve Smith had an “inappropriate relatioship” with a staffer, who was reassigned to a different area of the House, before leaving employment at the chamber. The report is the be expanded on KSTP 5 at 10.

Well, here’s hoping the good, conservative citizens of Mound toss his ass and replace him with someone better.  Smith is an adequate Republican; his Taxpayers League score is on the low end of the GOP average; Mound can elect better.

But Smith has been standing smack in the face of shared-parenting legislation in the House for years.  Provided he’s replaced by a conservative Republican, I wouldn’t shed a tear if he was disappeared from the House this fall.  He’s been playing into the hands and filling the coffers of the Wahhabi Feminists for way too long.

Same Sex Marriage: “Shut Up”, They Explained

I’ve written about this before; I think the bill requiring a referendum on a Marriage Amendment is…:

That last is an important one; the gay marriage activists I’ve been talking to are really, really bad at it.

Indeed - without exception, the best,most intelligent, most articulate cases I’ve heard for defeating the amendment have come not from liberals and gay marriage proponents, but from libertarian conservatives like Rep. John Kriesel and GOP Comms guy, Craig “Captain Fishsticks” Westover.  Without exception.

As to the libs? These are the arguments I’m hearing:

“Proponents Are Nothing But Bigots!”: Well, some no doubt are.  For the vast majority, myself included, it’s more a matter of  ”you want us to fundamentally change an institution that, for all of humanity’s infinite variations, and all of the institution’s zillion permutations, has one consistent feature throughout every society on earth going back to when time was recorded verbally; they all feature a guy and a gal, sometimes at least one of each”.  There may be a reason to change our minds on that; being called a “bigot”, or any names, really,  isn’t one of of them.

“You advocate a Jim Crow , “separate but equal” law!”: We who advocate civil unions, but leaving the state out of “marriage” as a religious institution, have been getting this one lately.

It’s nonsense, of course; “Jim Crow” was about taking peoples’ rights away; civil unions do no such thing.  ”Separate but equal” was about keeping populations from  intermingling; it’d be absurd to claim that civil unions do any such thing, unless they’re performed at a “Gays Only” courthouse and could be adjudicated and dissolved only by gay judges.

This one leads us to the closely-related…

“You’re all hung up on a word“: There’s a smidgen of merit,here – and at least it veers away from browbeating.  But it peters out just past “smidgen”.

Most of us who oppose, on some level or another, Single Sex Marriage do so on religious grounds – but not everyone cares about religion.

Atheists can marry in our society, and most don’t bother with churches or their traditions.  They get married by justices of the peace, or by “Elvis” in Vegas, or ship captains or bus drivers or whatever authority signs civil contracts.  It’s “separate but equal”; it’s indistinguishable in every way from a civil union.  It confers no different rights than a church marriage – or a civil union.

There is no difference.

So I’m going to suggest that both sides are “hung up on the word” pretty equally.

“We do not vote on civil liberties!”:  Now, we’re getting somewhere.  It’s a good principle, in principle.  It’s also rubbish; we vote on civil liberties all the time.  It took activists eight years of nonstop smashmouth organizing to get the human and civil right to keep and bear arms put into Minnesota law in a meaningful way – and that’s a right that’s in the Constitution.  The real one, I mean.

No, the big question is, is there a “civil right”  to marry at all,  much less someone of the same gender?   On the one hand, someone – the tribe, the church/Islam/your tribe’s witch doctor/government/whatever people believe in –  has always said who could marry, and how; outside of whatever the institution was, people pretty much just shacked up otherwise.  Like they do now.

On the other hand, rights are not granted by the state; they are endowed to us by our creator, whatever you believe our Creator is.  And if you are a Tenther, you know that rights not specifically granted to the Federal government are supposed to be reserved to the states and The People.  Individual states have always taken on the whole notion of “who can marry whom”.

And so while in principle “we don’t vote on civil rights”, we do observe laws; we are a nation ruled by laws, not men (that’s another principle), even, hypothetically, if those men are judges.  And so whether you believe it’s right or nice to vote on civil liberties or not, them’s the facts.  Make your case.

———-

Anyway.

I’m ambivalent about the amendment,for reasons I’ve spelled out over and over on this blog.  I support civil unions.  And I doubt I’ll ever bother getting a state license to marry, even if I ever do marry again.  I oppose real, actual hatred aimedat anyone, gays included – and I have put more on the line to back that up than most people, “progressive” or not.

And so when the DFL and the gay movement’s “best” line in support of SSM is “you’re a bigot”, “you support Jim Crow” and “you are a moron”…

…well, let’s just say they may need to work on their messaging before 2012.

Chanting Points Memo: “It’s About Rights”

As I’ve pointed out in the past, I’m deeply ambivalent about pretty much everything in the Gay Marriage mix; gay marriage itself, sure, but straight marriage too, and amending the constitution to protect it as well.

Yesterday, if you were at the Capitol, you saw a Madison-like outpouring of support for gay rights and opposition to the Amendment.  And by “Madison-like”, I mean “largely Metrocratic”.

But while I’m ambivalent about gay marriage (I support civil unions, but don’t plan on ever getting a government marriage license, even if I do get married ever again), I think there is one uncontrovertible fact; the DFL’s motivations in opposing the Amendment were purely, and just a tad cynically, political.

Call From Pauline Kael:  The left’s approach on gay marriage, thus far, has been to get it instituted by fiat, either by politicians (former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome) or the courts.  It’s a fact that gay marriage has never passed a public referendum, not even in “progressive” cesspools like Oregan.

But there are polls that indicate that people are changing their tune; that people actually support gay marriage.

So is the landscape changing?  It depends on the polls you believe, of course; I’ve seen surveys of likely voters  that indicate most Minnesotans oppose it; there are others, of course.  We’ll see – in November, 2012.  I strongly suspect most people do, in fact, oppose gay marriage because…

What Happened In 2009? Last night, during the Madison-like surge of lefty outrage on Twitter, a “progressive” sniffed at me:

Sir- the agenda is Rights. DFL Benson: My conscious comes first, my constituents second, and my desire to be reelected, third.

Which makes a good chanting point.  But it doesn’t stand up to history.

Four years ago,the DFL took control of the government in Saint Paul.  Two years ago, the DFL had absolute control of Minnesota government, except for Governor Pawlenty.  Had they wanted to push a gay marriage law, they could have.  It would have been vetoed – but they’d have made their moral case to take to the voters.

And don’t forget that they could have  passed a constitutional amendment, as the GOP just did, and bypassed the Governor completely.

And yet they dawdled for four years, and made no significant effort toward Gay Marriage.  None. Zero.

If the DFL’s stance were “about civil rights”, about immutable libertarian principles, as Rep. Benson grandiloquently claimed, they’d have used their absolute majority to do something,

Contrast that to the GOP, which introduced the Constitutional Amendment immediately.

Leaving aside whether it’s good to vote on civil rights or whether Gay Marriage is a civil right, here’s a question: which is the stance of a party that believes that they are going to win a referendum?

I suspect the DFL ignored gay marriage (and their gay supporters) for four years because they knew the votes weren’t there throughout Minnesota; that if they voted for legislation pushing gay marriage, they’d get shredded statewide.   They’d be kissing any outstate seats goodbye; they’d shave some of their majority in the Arrowhead and in the Twin Cities; few people oppose Gay Marriage less than Afro-Americans and Latinos; they might even jeopardize Tim Walz’ seat.

My thesis – this was never about principles, about liberty, about fairness for gays.  This is about votes.  The DFL believes they’ll lose them – lots of them.

Theatre Website Of The Absurd

Further proof that my “Logic For Leftybloggers” series – especially the piece two weeks ago on the Tu Quoque Ad Hominem - is long, looong, lo-o-o-o-ong overdue comes in a piece yesterday at the Minnesota Birkeydependent where Andy Birkey, taking a rare break from covering Bradlee Dean, writes:

In testimony before Minnesota Senate and House committees last week, religious leaders and representatives from religious right organizations cited single-parent families and a skyrocketing divorce rate as reasons to protect marriage from being redefined to include same-sex couples by “activist judges” and “handfuls of legislators.” And GOP members rebuffed efforts by DFLers to include a ban on divorces in a proposed ban on gay marriage. However, a number of the legislators who say they want to protect marriage appear to have been divorced.

Right.  But in fairness, a number of DFLers aren’t really gay,aren’t on welfare, and haven’t had abortions either.

Note to DFLers and the writers writer at the MinnBirk: the fact that someone making an argument has not always been utterly consistent with their side of the argument is not evidence against the argument.

In a sense, we should be happy that this is the best George Soros can get for his money.

On the other hand, to 43% of our population, this is what passes for an argument.

Why The Marriage Amendment Is A Good Idea

In my “Why The Marriage Amendment Is A Bad Idea” post, I note that using the full weight and power of government to define marriage is noxious, if you believe in limited government.

Of course, the DFL side fully believes in using the full weight and power of government for everything;  they’d vacate the Rights of Man to stop bullying (of gay kids, anyway); they’d repeal the Bill of Rights to ensure automatic social-service budget increases; if they could sic the SEALs, the CIA and Chuck Norris on opponents of gay marriage, they would.

Of course, the “power of government” they prefer is the judiciary.  And Minnesota DFLers are second to nobody in their use of the imperial judiciary to force compliance with their policy goals.

So even if you think that government has no place telling people who or how to marry – and as I’ve written over and over, there’s a respectable libertarian case to be made against a Marriage Amendment – there are two very good reasons to refer this issue to the voters for inclusion (or rejection) in the State Constitution.

It’s Just Like Shakespeare Said, All Them Peckerheads Oughtta Be Dead (And Before Andy Birkey Or Eva Young Has  A Cow, I’m Referring To Lawyers): Actually, not just this issue; indeed, it could be any socially divisive issue that’s been enacted as policy by weasel lawyers and party-fed judges, from Roe V. Wade to John Finley’s judicial sniping at the Minnesota Personal Protection Act to the definition of marriage.

Any issue that drives these issue to a referendum that can withstand trivial, pressure-group driven legal challenges is a good thing.  And not just for the “winner” of the case.  Because…

Special Interests Need To Get Ready For Prime Time, Or Shut Their Vacuous Glitter-Flinging Pieholes:  As I’ve written in the past, I’m not unsympathetic with gay marriage advocates; I’d see a reason to meet them halfway (and, while I’m at it, never participate in the civil version of marriage ever again on basic principle, sticking with purely church-based ceremonies and eschewing the state license in the unlikely event I ever marry again).  But in turn I have found the arguments of gay-marriage proponents to be extremely illogical, unconvincing and frequently childish.

I was downright depressed to watch the people on TV from the Gay Rights rally a few weeks ago. A woman – apparently a lesbian who seeks to marry, well, another lesbian, and who has gotten air time on several TV news segments on the subject – when asked why she supported Gay Marriage, replied “we deserve it”.    Not once, but several times, on different newscasts.

And I deserve a foot massage from Scarlett Johannson.  But that feeling of entitlement is not a reason.   Still, it’s no worse than the arguments of most Gay Marriage proponents; they run the gamut from “opposition is bigotry” to “opposition is big bigotry”.

But chalk it up to “the wisdom of crowds”; gay marriage proponents know they don’t have to come up with a good argument, because heretofore “convincing” people has been a moot point; since the issue was going to be decided by a patrician imperial judge anyway, “convincing people” was about as relevant as “Mitch deciding what music to play when he gets Marisa Tomei back to his place”.

But now?  With, potentially a constitutional amendment in place, weasel-proofing the issue?  Gay Marriage proponents will have get their argument out of the realm of entitlement browbeating, and actually convince people.

And that would make democracy better.

Which is one of the reasons the left hates the idea so much.  Which will bring us to the next bit, down below.

The Duck Sounds Like A Dog

Tony Jones, writing at MinnPost,notes that M the “Marriage Amendment” is, as he says, a “ploy”:

Dear State Senator Geoff Michel and Representative Pat Mazorol,

Your party’s move to put to a statewide vote a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman is unnecessary (we already have a state law on the books that defines marriage as such).  It is also a political ploy, attempting to fire up the conservative base, bringing them to the polls in hopes of defeating Barack Obama.  I hope it backfires on you (and, if a recent poll is correct, it will).

The “recent poll” is just a Strib Minnesota Poll.  I’d normally say no more – Minnesota Polls are unfiltered DFL propaganda at worst, printed mulch at best.  Actual reputable polls disagree.

What this amendment campaign will do is flood our state with outside money from groups that thrive on an embittered and polarized electorate.

And I just looooove the way the DFLers are crying about that now.  The DFL spent the past two generations building an outside money machine; they’ve politicized our public employees, our teachers, our higher education system, turning all of them not only into DFL contributors, but spigots for outside money.  ”Outside money” is a huge reason we have a Governor Dayton.

But, most tragically, it will send a message to my friends (and your constituents) like Rachel, that she is not a valued citizen of our state.

And here we get out of “obvious” and into “cynical”.

As I’ve noted, Gay Marriage isn’t a huge issue to me, in terms of policy – but it’s also not a government issue.   So when people like “Rachel” write…

In more than 515 ways (and more than twice that federally) our marriage is inferior to that of my opposite gender counterparts.I am not asking anyone to bless what Karen and I have. God has, and will continue to do that. What I am asking is for our marriage to not be constitutionally banned. I am asking that the state in which I live and love and have my being to not put my right to ever be married to Karen to a vote.

So rather than change those “515 ways” “Rachel’s” “marriage” is “inferior”, we should impose her version of marriage  - which she believes is recognized by God, and I won’t argue, but it certainly isn’t recognized by any major religion, or denomination, or anything, anywhere in the world – on all the rest of us?

The proposed amendment protects absolutely no one. It does not create jobs or attract visitors and would be Minnesotans to our state.

Either do most of our laws.

Back to Jones, who closes with a strawman that I’m getting tired of:

Read her whole post and answer me this: How is Rachel’s marriage a threat to yours, or to our state?

It’s not.

Stop asking.

Her “marriage” is of no consequence to me – I wish them well, personally.  It’s all the more reason to get government out of the business of defining marriage; let people sign contracts (or not) and get them blessed (or not) by any religion they want (or not).

That may or may not be what Tony Jones wants.  It’s certainly not what Big Gay or Big Progressive wants.  It’s not about gays’ ability to marry; it’s about solidifying “progressive” control of society and all its institutions.

The Good Republican (As Of May 3)

Representative John Kriesel is getting plaudits from the crowd that normally wouldn’t spit on a Republican if he were on fire, because he opposes the GOP’s Marriage Amendment proposal:

John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, is the first Republican in the Minnesota Legislature to announce his opposition to a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage, according to the Star Tribune. The bill has cleared a committee each in the Minnesota House and Senate, and Kriesel said he’s working hard to convince his Republican colleagues that the amendment is a bad idea.

“I look at it as: We are all equal,” Kriesel told the Star Tribune. “It is not right. I can’t do it. I’m very upset about this vote. I don’t like it. I think it sends the wrong message. You live once in your life and I’ve learned that the hard way. You never know when it is going to be your time. People fight to find happiness….You find someone you love and now other people are saying because I don’t consider that normal, you can’t do it?”

Two things to set straight first:

One: I have nothing but respect for Rep. Kriesel.  He’s earned it, over and over.  The fact that he got elected to the House was one of the most satisfying victories of a very satisfying election season last year.

Second: As a libertarian-conservative, I’m perfectly fine with letting people live their lives their own way; I support legalizing many drugs, and support civil unions as a civil contract.

But I – along with a sharp majority of Minnesotans – believe Marriage is a fundamentally religious institution, above and beyond its status as a civil contract.  Every one of the world’s religions, barring the odd splinter (shaddap about Episcopals), agrees.

And when we say “marriage is, to us, a religious institution”, the best argument the gay marriage proponents have come up with so far is “no it’s not”.

Which is where I have to push back.  ”Marriage” is really two different things, depending on who you ask;

  • it’s a set of contractually-defined rights (from inheritance to power of attorney to standing in custody trials during divorce) and obligations (most noticable when things don’t go well)
  • It’s an ordination for one’s Creator that you and another person are ordained to be together.

Of course, not everyone believes in the same Creator, or even that there is one; notwithstanding this, we are all created (by whatever you think created us) equal before the law of the land.

Most of the gay marriage activists I’ve heard are after the former; the latter seems to draw fewer (although there are plenty of people who want to induce major Christian denominations to recognize gay unions).

So there’s the dilemma for the principled libertarian Christian; in a secular sense, I can agree with Rep. Kriesel, that in re forbidding gays from forming civil contracts

“It’s just wrong,” Kriesel said. “There is not anything that can move me on this.”

…while on the other hand being equally unmoved to renounce what I (and most Minnesotans) believe about the sacred institution of marriage.

In a sense, I think the Amendment would be a good thing for the proponents of gay marriage, inasmuch as it’d force them to state a case for radically changing the institution that sways the people.  The gay movement’s current strategy is to take everything to court (or to radically “progressive” legislatures), and chant that everyone that opposes them is a “hateful” “bigot”.  They desperately need to do better, if they want to convince anyone but a judge.

Especially someone like me – who doesn’t believe marriage is a “right” (or even necessarily a great idea), even for straight couples, but that equal protection before the law absolutely always is.

It’ll be interesting to see what issue it’ll be that demotes Kriesel back to “just another Republican” to the Minnesota Independent.  There’s always something.

Fighting Fighting With Wedges By Fighting With More Wedges

Lori Sturdevant demands that we “Just say no to wedge politics” in a piece called, conveniently, “Just say no to wedge politics…”

As six middle-aged, white male Republican legislators — all married in the eyes of Minnesota law — left the briefing room Tuesday after announcing their push for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, they couldn’t avoid passing DFL Sen. Scott Dibble on his way inside.

…bv invoking a really, really stupid wedge.

(Dibble is, by the way, middle-aged and very, very white.  He happens to be gay).

How does one look a colleague in the eye or speak a civil greeting, right after announcing an intention to make that colleague’s marriage forever illegitimate?

I craned my neck to see what expressions passed between them. Darn. Too far from the door to get a good look.

“They nodded,” Dibble, a three-termer from Minneapolis and currently the Senate’s only openly gay member, reported afterward. “One or two might have said ‘Hi.’ … That’s what makes it all the more odd that they are willing to effectively dehumanize me.”

We’ll come back to this in another post later today.

But hey, Lori  - good job avoiding those wedges.

Let’s be clear on this – the only reason the DFL (as opposed to gay activists, like Dibble) care about this is that when the vote comes for the amendment, the DFL is going to lose.  Maybe lose big.  As I pointed out during the election, there’s polling out there that suggests that Minnesotans strongly oppose changing the traditional definition of marriage.

If it were otherwise – if there had been any indication that Minnesotans craved single-sex marriage – the DFL would have introduced an amendment legalizing it in 2007, when they took complete control of the legislature, or in 2009, when their control became utterly stifling.  Even had Pawlenty vetoed it, they’d have gotten GOP votes on the issue made public, and hammered them on it in the ’08 and ’10 elections.  If there were a majority of Minnesotans who favored gay marriage.

But there is not.

And so the DFL is desperate to avoid being forced to put votes on the line on this issue.  Because they know that, along with the Cornish “Stand Your Ground” Bill and Voter ID, most Minnesotans, especially outstate, Gay Marriage is a loser for them – and since the DFL’s only hope is to expand outstate (they can hardly control the Twin Cities and Duluth and the Arrowhead more thoroughly than they do), this is not part of the plan.

More on Gay Marriage itself later today.

Submitted Without Comment

I am a firm believer in the sanctity of marriage.

So it’s a tragedy, truly, that Scarlett Johannson and, er, whatshisface are calling it quits:

“After long and careful consideration on both our parts, we’ve decided to end our marriage,” they say in a joint statement. “We entered our relationship with love and it’s with love and kindness we leave it. While privacy isn’t expected, it’s certainly appreciated.”

Johannson and that other guy. One might worry about the sanctity of marriage in Hollywood.

According to a source, the couple quietly split six months ago, and Johansson initiated the move. The actress began apartment-hunting in New York City and is currently in Jamaica with some girlfriends, the source adds.

Like I said.  No comment.

UPDATE:  Welcome, readers of PZ Myers’ Twitter feed.  The line you’re looking for is down in the comments. 

And, using the same logic Gavin Sullivan used in stating I “confirm” that your hero’s marriage was “ordained by God”, it’s fairly certain that Gavin Sullivan supports indiscriminate torture, since he pretty well waterboarded context.

Condolences

The death of ones’ child is every parent’s worst nightmare; it stalks every parent, I suspect, from birth until the parent isn’t able to worry about it anymore.  There is no lighter side, no joking, no redeeming quality to the subject, even when it’s just a nightmare that you can wake up from.

When it’s for real?

I don’t even want to think about it, to tell you the truth.

And so I give my simple, unvarnished condolences to Mike Hatch and his family.  And I urge you all to give them your prayers, or whatever it is you believe in.

The New, Hysterical McCarthyism

I was a little leery of tackling the Tom Hackbarth story last week.   

Not because I didn’t think I had the story right; Hackbarth’s behavior was unseemly, as was that of those who piled on to add detail to the story based purely on innuendo and supposition.  

No, I was leery mostly because whenever the topic of Planned Parenthood or any sort of offense against women is concerned, there are not a few people out there who would toss rationality to the wind, if they ever had it in the first place.  

I don’t know Rachel Nygaard, and she damned sure doesn’t know me.  Can she approach this, or any, issue rationally?  Well, she writes for Minnesota Progressive Project, which isn’t a good sign.  But that’d be a smear by association, and judgment by innuendo, and that’s the sort of stuff I condemned in my original piece on the subject.  

Of which more later.  

For better or worse, Nygaard does capably summarize the core of the local Sorosphere’s meme on the subject:  

“I understand why the police and the security guard thought what they might have thought, but it really was insignificant to me.” – Representative Hackbarth  

Tracking down a woman you met once while carrying a gun is an insignificant act? Even if you remove the fact that he was carrying a gun, a man that felt the need to track a woman down when he felt she wasn’t being completely honest with him is stalking behavior  

And if you leave aside the facts that Hackbarth was accused of no crimes, that there is no evidence that the target of his misplaced interest ever knew Hackbarth was looking for her, and that  the gun is irrelevant (Hackbarth has a permit, and permit-holders are two orders of magnitude less likely to commit any kind of crime than non-permittees like, well, Rachel Nygaard, among others), she’s right.  Hackbarth, by his own admission, was at the very least exceptionally clingy; at worst…  

…well, we don’t know, because there was no “at worst”.   Hackbarth parked his car – near Planned Parenthood.  He got out and changed jackets; a security guard saw Hackbarth’s legal, holstered gun, and called the cops.  But for that chance encounter with a closed-circuit camera, we’d have likely have known nothing of the story…  

…and, Rachel Nygaard will no doubt remind you, Hackbarth could have gone on to shoot the woman in a fit of rage.   

Which is, really, all she has.  Could-haves.  

Could-haves and dogma, of course:  

The ‘boys will be boys’ dismissal of his actions by the conservative bloggers astounds me.  When is this type of behavior ever okay?    

This is the GOP blogger Mitch Berg commenting on the Hackbarth issue.

Remember – in the world of domestic law, including “abuse”, “domestic violence”, “stalking” and the like, men are considered guilty until proven innocent.  

Going on to say that

Everything Is Stalking

He later qualifies his more offending statements (not those listed above) but the misogynistic attitude seethes from his post. 

Go ahead and read the article.  It’s nonsense, of course; there is no “misogynistic attitude” – not in the sense that a rational person would understand.  The only “offense” would be to those who find any questioning of The Narrative offensive.  

I won’t say “Nygaard is lying”, because “lying” implies knowing that she’s spreading a falsehood; I think that to Nygaard’s perspective, which (I’m going to go out on a short limb and guess) comes from marinading in Big Feminist dogma for an entire adult lifetime, men are guilty of misogynism, stalking, abuse, or whatever until proven innocent – and furthermore they can never be proven innocent! 

Of course, to Big Feminism (and I think it’s fair to say Nygaard is acting as an agent of Big Feminism), defending a man against even the most facile, unsupported innuendo, by introducing fact into the discussion (or, in this case, pointing out the lack of facts behind the innuendo thrown at Hackbarth), is itself “anti-woman”.   

Clearly, Mitch Berg and Rep Hackbarth have a different moral compass than the rest of us. 

Clearly. 

I believe that the guilty should be punished – and that people are innocent until proven guilty, and that “proof” means a lot more than innuendo, narrartive, and ideology-based assumptions.  I believe in empirical, observable fact, not dogma.  I believe that people are individuals with their own motivations and backstories and strengths and weaknesses and the dignity (and degradation) that comes from the exercise of their own free will  - not facile cartoons that follow pre-written narratives.

 And it’d seem that Nygaard believes that I’m a cartoon.  She puts it in as many words:

I truly hope that they educate themselves about domestic abuse and difficulties protecting women, men and children from domestic assault. 

Dear Rachel Nygaard; keep your prejudices, your narratives, your bigotry off my body.  You don’t know me.  You have no idea where I’ve been and what I’ve done in my life (and I’m not going to tell you any of it here, anyway).  Just as your idiot friends rushed to judge Tom Hackbarth based (as I showed) entirely on narrative, screed and innuendo, so you’re doing with me.  

That’s OK – I can take care of myself just fine, and it’d seem to be all you are equipped to do anyway, and we should expect no more.  

As I said in my original post; stalking is wrong.  Clinginess is a bad idea.  Separation and divorce are a bitch, psychologically as well as every other way.  

All clear?