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May 22nd, 2005:

HJR6 and common-law marriage

So now that we’re on the brink of enshrining a bit of bigotry in the state Constitution, it might be wise to ask: What are the unintended consequences of this? Will the proposed amendment affect common-law marriage? One person who testified before the Senate thinks so.

“It’s fiscally irresponsible and constitutionally reckless,” said Austin lawyer Robert Andrews, who says it could adversely affect common-law marriages in Texas despite lawmakers’ assurances to the contrary.

Under current law, he said, people file a Declaration of Informal Marriage to register their common-law status at a courthouse — and he thinks those declarations may be prohibited.

“They’ve gotten so overbroad with this, they’ve covered things they don’t know they have,” Andrews said. “I’m really concerned they blew it (in approving the resolution) . . . that they’ve covered three times as many people as they think they have.”

State AG Greg Abbott disagrees. I’m sure a judge will be forced to sort it out eventually, and get called “activist” for his or her trouble. I’ve reproduced Andrews’s testimony, as well as some other submitted written testimony, beneath the More link. You can find more here and here.

UPDATE: Marc Olivier puts it all together.

(more…)

Ron Paul

Yesterday’s Chron had a front page piece on the gentleman from CD14, Ron Paul. It’s mostly about he’s Not That Kind Of Republican, in the sense that he actually does vote independently some of the time – according to the Public Campaign Action Fund, Paul voted with Tom DeLay a mere 74.51% of the time, much less than the #2 “independent” Texas Republican, Henry Bonilla at 93.85%. Some of Paul’s highlights are listed in the sidebar.

So what do his fellow Republicans think about this? They think he’s kind of cute.

“There are times when I specifically disagree with him on the interpretation of the Constitution, but at least I know that he is voting his conscience,” said Galveston County GOP Chair Chris Stevens.

GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, of The Woodlands, said Paul “has a principle, whether you agree with him or not. I think the voters like that, even if they don’t understand it.”

[…]

Despite his discordant views, though, Paul said he has never felt any animosity from his Republican colleagues.

“People don’t come up and say, ‘What kind of idiotic vote are you casting?’ ” Paul said. “I don’t feel like it has ever been personal. I think I get more people respecting it and not necessarily being angry at me.”

[…]

Nowadays, national GOP groups tolerate Paul. In fact, the National Republican Congressional Committee only cares whether Paul votes to support Rep. Dennis Hastert to be speaker of the House, said NRCC spokesman Carl Forti.

They can afford to tolerate Ron Paul because they’ve got such a reliably lockstep caucus that his vote doesn’t matter. Go here, click on Full List, and then on Vote% to sort by that. Exactly five Republicans – Johnson and Shays from Connecticut, Leach from Iowa, the now-retired Boehlert from New York, and the party-switching Alexander from Louisiana, who will no doubt move up on this list, broke orthodoxy more often than Ron Paul. Anyone else here think they might have something else to say if the House were a bit more closely divided?

Keep that in mind as we look ahead to 2006. I’m told that there’s a strong challenger in the wings for CD14. Will the national party ride to Ron Paul’s rescue? Will he want them to if they try? We’ll see.

UPDATE: Oops. I coulda swore I heard that Boehlert had retired, but apparently not. My bad. Thanks to Mark in the comments for the catch.

Streaking

My sister Eileen sent me this article in which the Ten Greatest Individual Streaks in Sports are named, and she asked me what I thought of it. Bearing in mind that this sort of thing is always extremely subjective, I thought it was an okay list. If I were to quibble with anything, it’s with the top placement of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Not because it’s not an impressive achievement, but because I think the odds are greater than you might think of it some day being bettered. Ichiro!, for example, by virtue of getting lots of at-bats (leading off and not walking), as well as hitting for a high average, may have as much as a 4% chance to tie Joltin’ Joe if he hits like he did last year.

# 4.1: Percent chance of Ichiro Suzuki tying Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak, based on his 2004 statistics. Ichiro averaged 4.37 AB/G which gives him an 86.9% chance of getting a hit in a game (1-(1-.372)^4.37). Based on that percentage, Ichiro has a 0.039% chance of hitting in 56-games in a row. Assuming he plays 161 games again, that’s essentially 105 consecutive attempts at the record. 0.039%^105 is 4.1%. However, this doesn’t take into account the fact that with every hitless game, Ichiro drastically reduces the number of chances he has for a 56-game streak, so his odds are significantly lower.

# 0.3: Percent chance of Ichiro Suzuki tying Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak, based on his 2004 statistics. No, this is not a misprint. An alternative calculation, using the fact that Ichiro hit successfully in 134 out of 161 games (83.2% instead of the 86.9% above), reduces his chances by over 91%.

I didn’t say the odds were good, just not impossible. They’re lower now that the season is almost two months old, but there’s always 2006 and beyond. And there’s no law that says there can’t be another Ichiro!-like player on the scene some day.

One streak that never gets mentioned, but which in my opinion is a true Record That Will Never Be Broken, is Johnny Vander Meer’s streak of two consecutive no-hitters. Two in a row isn’t really thought of as a streak, but since it’ll take three straight no-nos to beat him, I’ll put that up there as a feat for the ages. It’s rare enough for a pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a career, rarer still for them to come in the same season. A hundred years from now, I expect Vander Meer to still be unique.

Beyond that, not much to add. It’s certainly a reasonable enough list. What do you think?

UPDATE: Bogey comments.