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#670 Musings Beyond the Bunker (Friday May 26)
A potpourri today…
ONE NATION OF RIGHTS OR FIFTY NATIONS OF DIFFERENT RIGHTS
We have fifty states, the District of Columbia and several territories, all with different laws. That said, they are part of a larger nation. As we continue to have states adopting different laws on some pretty basic subjects—like abortion rights, gun control, and voting rights—I have found myself increasingly asking the same question: “Are we one nation or merely a collection of states?”
It is a foundational premise that the Constitution protects some basic rights of the individual, rights referred to in the Declaration as “unalienable” and alluded to in the Ninth Amendment. Indeed, the debate over the Constitution and its adoption centered around the question of the codification of individual rights throughout the colonies. The intent of the Constitution was a careful balance to bind the original 13 states into a single nation that shares some consistent, agreed upon, values, while at the same time preserving the limited sovereignty of the states.
Lest we forget, among the most vehement defenders of states’ rights were those states wanting to maintain their sovereignty to preserve the “peculiar institution” of slavery. We had to fight a war to get that right.
Certainly, one of the most significant results of the Civil War was that the United States definitively was a single nation and that there were limits to what a state could rationalize within its own borders. The “United States” became a defined term, no longer a descriptive that a group of states were united in a loose sense. The emphasis was on the word “united” and less on the word “states.” I’m not sure how long we can go on as a nation with such fundamental conflicting views of what it means to be an American and such conflicting views about the rights of the individual. The libertarian ideal of limited government—that this nation protects the individual’s right to make reasonable decisions in their own lives, their own body, and their own safety—seems at greater risk every day.
Another disturbing phenomenon of recent months is how the judiciary increasingly is becoming one more political branch, not only prone to bend precedent (or abandon it) in the search to justify political and/or religious dogma, but also one exposed to the corrosive effect of money in politics. Not only do we have Justice Alito engaging in the extended sophistry of a history of abortion rights that simply isn’t true, but now we have a Supreme Court Justice accepting lavish trips, without regard for propriety or ethics. But let’s not blame Clarence Thomas alone; there were others, on both sides, although to date none quite so egregious. Meanwhile, we have a Texas Judge who issued an injunction against the use of the abortion pill, notwithstanding literally more than 100 studies that confirm its efficacy and safety and without legal justification, furthering his political perspective over stare decisis or the facts.
We have many rules governing behaviors in various settings. Many are written down and imposed by others. While the Justices voluntarily adhere to the Judicial Council’s guidelines, they honor these guidelines in the abstract, but often not in practice. I always expected that the Court had its own rules, less formal but no less important. One would hope they police their own behaviors and act as restraints on one another’s actions.
Would a fellow Justice ever have the temerity to suggest to another who is “way off the reservation” that he or she needs to rein in their politics? Will there come a time when the Supreme Court (and, for that matter, lower courts as well) would monitor its members’ behaviors, ethical lapses, and perceived conflicts with greater rigor? Should it be the sole decision of the Justice in question whether something constitutes a conflict? I would hope courts increasingly will be under pressure to reexamine their policies and impose a more robust system for mutual and self-regulation.
SOMETIMES CLEVER BEATS SKILL
There are great plays in baseball and then there are crazy great plays in baseball. Here, Ed Nahmias provides a great play at home plate in girls’ a high school softball game, worth the short watch:
MORE ODD RECORDS
Andy Licht shares some more baseball oddities unlikely to be replicated any time soon (some of the following commentary comes from an unidentified source, while some is my own):
Four triples by one player (done twice, most recently in 1897). Triples don’t happen that often. In 2022, Amed Rosario led the major leagues with 9 for the entire season. Getting five in one game seems very unlikely without returning to the huge parks and dead balls of the early days.
Three hits in an inning (done 5 times, most recently 2003). Breaking this would require a player getting four at bats in a single inning, which would require a minimum of 28 men (corrected math based on comments) to come to the plate. The current record in over 125 years of baseball is 23 men up in one inning.
26 innings pitched in one game (twice, done by pitchers in the same game in 1920). A long outing for a pitcher is now seven innings. A 27 inning game itself seems very unlikely, especially if MLB keeps the “man on second” rule to speed the game along in extra innings. There isn't a manager in the league that would risk a multi-million dollar shoulder pitching like this, and there probably is not a single pitcher crazy enough to stay on the mound even if the situation arose.
26 hits allowed by a pitcher (once, in 1912). Here is another one where pitchers are just used very differently now. Relievers were uncommon in the dead ball era. If you were getting shelled, you were just in for a very long afternoon.
Two triple plays in one game (once, in 1912). Triple plays are rare. Only five typically are turned in any season across both leagues.
Seven times on base without swinging the bat (once, in 2016). Getting 8 plate appearances is rare enough, but also getting walked or hit by a pitch each and every time without a single swing seems unlikely to happen again.
WHAT A KNUCKLEHEAD
Thanks, Mark Jarrell, for pointing out that the author of the great biographer is Robert Caro, and not Joseph Caro, as I incorrectly cited yesterday. Robert should not be confused with Joseph Karo, the great 16th century Spanish rabbi and codifier of the Shulchan Arukh (the seminal compendium of Jewish law) The rabbi from my youth (whom I continually challenged regarding matters of faith) no doubt would be proud of the mix-up…
Have a great day,
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