Change you can believe in?

Here is a great quote from Obama from 11/08:

“It’s no coincidence that one of the most secretive administrations in our history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to the sunlight. As president I am going to change that.”

Now, did he do it?  According to the AP, he did not.  In fact, he is worse than Bush.

D.M., are you going to try to defend and rationalize this obvious hypocrisy?


54 Responses to “Change you can believe in?”

  1. D. M. Manes Says:

    I don’t exactly agree with your eventual conclusion, but I do agree with the sentiment.

    1. First, I am frustrated by the ongoing lack of transparency. According to the Fox News article you cite, the AP report shows that “17 major governmental agencies refused to release information, claiming legal exemptions, 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50 percent from the previous year, according to a review of requests conducted by The Associated Press. In 2008, the government refused 312,683 requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.” That is an absurd number of exemptions and most of them are probably unjustified.

    2. However, I don’t think Obama is the primary culprit in this problem. The AP reports in a separate article (not Fox News): “Among the most frequently cited reasons for keeping records secret: one that Obama specifically told agencies to stop using so frequently. The Freedom of Information Act exception, known as the “deliberative process” exemption, lets the government withhold records that describe its decision-making behind the scenes. Obama’s directive, memorialized in written instructions from the Justice Department, appears to have been widely ignored.”

    The president can only do so much when it comes to managing hundreds of executive agencies, and the White House cannot micromanage ever FOIA request. The agency decision-makers have their own set of incentives when they receive a FOIA request. A very small part of that is influenced by the president and his goals. Most of it has to do with finite resources (exacerbated during a recession) and a desire to avoid the release of information damaging to the agency. It is silly to think that all the decision-makers in all these agencies are working in some sort of grand Obama-led conspiracy to keep secrets.

    3. I didn’t think that all the agency decision-makers under Bush were in a secretive conspiracy either. Only silly people suggested that. You have to understand how government works and what life looks like from the point of view of a bureaucrat.

    4. All this means that we need to do more. Obama sent a memo and that’s nice, but we need some clearer laws and more resources put into transparency (it is expensive) to make it really happen. It isn’t good enough to just ask agencies nicely to be more open, although it is better than not asking at all. I hope that we can add to the FOIA to make enforcement easier and faster. Some exemptions will need to remain for certain reasons, but I think those exemptions should be extremely limited.

    5. I would like to see more information on this. I am curious about other years besides 2008 and 2009 since there are a lot of other factors here, especially the budget problems brought on by the recession. I would be curious to see data on FOIA requests and denials for the past decade, so if anyone finds that, go ahead and link it.

  2. Jenny Says:

    I think both of you have good points. I am sick to my stomach when I look back on the many, many quotes from President Obama on wanting more “transparent” yet he keeps going just the opposite way. I don’t think anyone can deny he has backed out of many of his campaign promises. Promises that were the reason I voted for him.

    The simple fact remains, if people are going to bash Bush, Clinton, whoever for their broken promises, they need to bash President Obama as well.

  3. D. M. Manes Says:

    Sick to your stomach? That’s a bit dramatic. These FOIA requests that were refused are mostly minor things – someone wants to read the internal e-mails that were exchanged in an agency before they issued some new regulation. zzzzzz

    I think bashing presidents for being inconsistent with their campaign statements reflects a great deal of political naivete. Candidates always talk higher than they can ever achieve in the real world of governing because once elected, they have limited political capital and have to confront entrenched bureaucracies, special interests, and opposition parties. It isn’t possible for them to ever do everything they wanted to do as candidates. That’s why I don’t often bash them for failing to live up to their campaign statements. If you are curious, Politifact has a good compilation of Obama’s promises and their status. Only 16 of 500 promises have been broken, so if you do care about that kind of thing, Obama is doing pretty well.

    Instead of criticizing a president for inconsistency with a campaign statement, I think it is better to criticize the president’s position or actions directly. I said I think Obama needs to do more concrete things to increase transparency. But transparency is a nebulous concept and not very easy to draw bright lines in. A lot of these FOIA requests are silly little things and the exemptions claimed in those cases doesn’t pose any threat to democracy or anything that dramatic.

    Then there is the big money issue… if we really want more transparency, we have to pay for it. When random people request mountains of documents, reports, memos, and e-mails, it takes some real government employee somewhere hours to find all that stuff, make copies, and give it to the random individual. It’s a good idea in theory, but it takes resources and whenever we have policy questions that involve limited resources like agency personnel and funds, the questions are going to be tougher than one liners like “more transparency!”

  4. Dude Says:

    D.M., sure..I’ll quit bashing them when the left and the media quit doing it. It’s done on all sides.

    I think the thing Roland and, perhaps, Jenny are pointing out is that this whole “transparency” thing was big for Obama. If it was just a small thing he mentioned once, that would be one thing but he talked about it up and down. He even spoke about it after becoming President, multiple times.

    If you really want to talk about the present, how about the fact he is mum on the fact Congress is trying to “deem” this bill passed when he said he wanted a straight up or down vote? Dont’ you think THAT is a bit hypocritical?

    Oh, and who are you to judge if Jenny gets sick to her stomach? I do all the time when I think of the debt my kids and grandkids are being saddled with due to Obama/Bush.

  5. D. M. Manes Says:

    Okay, but can you respond as directly as possible to the #2 and #3 points that I made above?

    I’ve already said that I agree that there really should be more transparency and that Obama and Congress need to do more to make it happen. We don’t disagree on that point. But I also said that this issue is more complicated than two sentences can encapsulate. You have to understand the process a little more, and especially the economic effects. I am curious to hear a response on these points.

  6. D. M. Manes Says:


  7. Dan The Man Says:

    D. M., with you being so big on how Government works, are you a bit dissapointed that the President told Fox News yesterday he doesn’t really care how the bill is passed, as long as it is?

    I was a bit put off with how indignant he got at the questions. He’s not used to being prodded. He is more used to softball questions.

  8. D. M. Manes Says:

    Yeah I think this “deem” it passed thing is really weak, but I don’t think it will come to that. A vote is expected today or tomorrow and the Democrats should have enough to pass the Senate version in the House. If they don’t, then we’ll agree that it was shady. There will probably be a constitutional challenge.

    Politically, though, he is right. Results matter much more than process. Nobody really understands the process anyway, as evidenced by all the ignorance flying around on the internet. When there haven’t been results for over a year, process is the only thing to write about, but once it is passed, nobody will care how it was passed. If it passes, I won’t care about the process. Will you? Will you like the new policy any more if X number of Senators vote on it again or if this or that parliamentary technique is used? Unlikely. Does anyone remember the process by which other major pieces of federal legislation passed? I don’t, do you?

  9. Legal Girl Says:

    Actually this so called “deem” rule is perfectly legal. It is part of the rules. Like it or not. Newt used it back in 1996. Usually it is part of lesser or smaller legislation, not on something this big.

    Shady? Sure. Ugly? You bet. Legal? Sure is. All day long.

    I, for one, care about the process. Not who voted for what and when but the process. The legal process. If we don’t care about the process, why have laws? Why have a constitution? We call ourselves a nation of laws but if we don’t follow the laws or the rules we have set up, we most certainly are not.

    If we are not concerned with the “process” then why have an election? Why not just take a poll and go with that?

    As long as they follow the rules they have set up and follow procedure and law, I’m fine. I may not like it but at least the protocol was followed.

  10. D. M. Manes Says:

    I know the deem strategy has been used before, but that doesn’t make it immune from constitutional challenge. The legislative veto, in which one house of Congress could veto some executive action, was widely practiced until INS v. Chadha. Then the Supreme Court held it to be in violation of both the bicameralism principles reflected in Art I, Sections 1 and 7, and the presentment provisions of Art I, Section 7, Cl 2-3.

    The Supreme Court has never ruled on the deem rule, but I think the closest precedent is Clinton Clinton v. City of New York. The court was pretty meticulous about the procedure that needs to be followed for language to become law. The court was obsessed with the “finely wrought procedure that the Framers designed” for enacting federal law, and emphasized that the constitutional violation was that the eventual law was different from the exact language voted on by Congress. I know that that case dealt with the line-item veto, and I’m not particularly fond of the court’s reasoning, but it has only gotten more conservative since 1998 and I think they would rely on this precedent.

    One this is for sure, if the deem rule is used, the bill will definitely be challenged in federal court. That will drag this disaster out even more, and it may be blocked from going into effect by preliminary injunction. The Democrats need to just get some balls and pass it. I mean come on, how much of a majority do you need before you actually DO something?

    I don’t mean that the process isn’t legally important because it is, especially when a constitutional challenge looms. But politically, almost nobody understands the process, nobody cares about the process, and nobody remembers the process. Even those who do usually recognize that the results are far more important than the process that got there.

  11. Legal Girl Says:

    I would disagree. Simply because people might not understand something is not a reason to not follow the set out procedures OR to go beyond that and say the end justifies the means. That’s just my two cents on a random blog.

    If they do pass this, I see the GOP gaining huge, unprecendented majorites in both houses. How long that will last though is another question.

  12. Jenny Says:

    Hey!! Another gal!!! lol.

    Listening to the President today, I am inclined to believe he literally hates private insurance companies and wants nothing else but their complete destruction.

    I find it sad that a President would denegrade a legal business so much. More and more it leads me to beleive he does not like private business, profits or anything of the like. I just cannot see how one cannot see that with what he says. Well, unless you are so blinded by your party.

  13. Robin Says:

    Big insurance, big oil, big wall street, big auto companies, etc. Every company is big and evil and so is capitalism as far as Obama and his cronies are concerned. Um, sorry, if we don’t have all those evil, profit making companies there won’t be anyone to work or pay taxes. Idiots.

  14. justthisgirl Says:

    HAHA! D.M. is SO taking Elrod’s place as Roland’s crush.

    And before anyone asks, no, I don’t have anything useful to add–or rather, I don’t intend to do it here or tonight. I’m tired, and it’s pointless to do it here. I like to read what smart people have to say, but I haven’t the patience they do to try to fight those battles here.

  15. D. M. Manes Says:

    We won! We won!

    That means that people like you who keep stubbornly saying irrational things (like the president hates profitable corporations) lost. We don’t have to convince you that these things you keep repeating in the face of reason and reality are wrong; we just have to convince enough other people to get the job done. Not only did you lose, but at the very end of the debate, you all looked very silly. People like Michele Bachmann make us all dumber when we listen to their rants.

  16. Robin Says:

    We all lost.

  17. Roland Says:

    Hmmmm…D.M. you said you were not on “sides” here before. How can that be when you “won”?

    Again, you ignore the direct quotes from Obama on corporations and profits. You try to explain away things he states such as being “behind enemy lines” when he worked in the private sector.

    Typical Liberal: You cannot stand when your words, your direct statements, get thrown back in your face.

    Yes, Robin, we all lost. Higher taxes, fewer public jobs, less choice and of course, being forced to buy a product you may not want nor need.

  18. Dude Says:

    Amen Brother!! Preach on! D.M., Roland makes a great point. If you’re not on any side, how come YOU won?

  19. D. M. Manes Says:

    Oh, Roland, sometimes I wonder if you understand what I write when I bother to comment here. If you do understand, then it really doesn’t make sense why you keep repeating the same things over and over instead of ever actually responding to what I say.

    Of course I am on a side. I clarified once that I don’t have any sort of personal loyalty to Obama or the Democratic Party, but I think this kind of reform is the best policy. What made you think I wasn’t on a side here? Just because I don’t check my brain at the door and put on a cheerleading outfit to root for a team just because its my team doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions. In fact, it means the opposite. I actually do think for myself instead of delegating that to others.

    I didn’t ignore any of the quotes from Obama. I did explain them as I saw them, but for some reason you decided to ignore my explanation. I’ll summarize it a little bit here:

    Politics isn’t about love, hate, or any other emotions. Democrats do not hate corporations and Republicans do not hate individuals. Government exists to legislate in the gray area where interests between parties conflict. With issues like pre-existing conditions and annual caps, there is a conflict between the interests of the insurers and the insured. Our government debated how to best resolve this conflict for over a year and decided on a certain set of detailed policies that seem to me to be pretty fair. Perhaps a few things could have been a little better, but that is what this reform is about. It isn’t about anything dramatic like hate or tyranny. It is about drawing fine distinctions of policy in order to improve health care overall. There are some other issues in the reform that don’t directly involve the tension between insurer and insured, like the individual mandate, but they follow the same rules. It is a collective dilemma when some people choose to engage in risky behavior and rely (by default) on the public for support when an emergency arises. That is what happens when an uninsured person has a horrible accident and requires expensive treatment. They are given the expensive treatment, but cannot pay for it, so the public foots the bill.

    You didn’t bring up any of my own words, my own direct statements.

    What taxes of yours do you think will go up? There are a few tax increases in the bill, but I doubt you even know what they are. If you did know what they were, you would know that they won’t affect you.

    If you think you have something worth saying Roland, respond to this comment directly. I went through yours line by line, as you can probably tell. So far you have just been “typical Roland,” dropping by your own blog a couple times a week to throw out random unconnected talking points and attacks without ever defending your positions or developing your arguments.

  20. D. M. Manes Says:

    Another thing. This debate looked like a debate between those who want health care reform and those who do not, but I think the much more significant battle was between those who want to discuss national policy rationally and those who are irrational.

    There were some rational arguments against the Democratic reforms. They were articulated by a few GOP politicians and conservative scholars. Often, they were not in direct opposition to the Democratic reforms, they just involved additional or alternate means of accomplishing the same ends. Many of these ideas and principles were absorbed into the final product. This reform package includes increased market-based competition to drive down prices for consumers, for instance.

    By and large, though, the majority of people who appeared to oppose the Democratic reforms were actually just ignorant and irrational. All the TEA party protesters babbling about socialism and tyranny are too disconnected from reality to be involved in real policy discussions. Anyone who makes idiotic claims like “the president hates profitable corporations” doesn’t deserve a seat at the table. The real battle, the one that matters for our country, was between the rational and the irrational. And on that front, WE won.

  21. Dude Says:

    Let’s see….Government is taking over a huge chunk of the economy, they are taking away rights (rationalize it all you want D.M. but when Governement mandates you HAVE to buy something, that is not more rights, it’s less) and are interferring in more of our lives…that sure sounds like Socialism to me.

  22. D. M. Manes Says:

    No, the government is not taking over a huge chunk of anything. There is no public option and the expansion of Medicare is slight. The only right that is being interfered with is the right to not have health insurance without penalty. You can still exercise that right, but it isn’t free anymore. Before this legislation, people who exercised that “right” passed on the risk to the rest of society and that’s not really fair.

    It isn’t “socialism,” it’s government. Government = laws = compulsion. We enact laws through the democratic process because they serve the common good, even when they compel individuals to do something they would otherwise prefer not to do. Do you know what socialism is? This is not socialism. And you are proving my point about the idiocy and ignorance with statements like that.

  23. Dude Says:

    “Fair”? Don’t make me laugh. That is the same strawman that is thrown up about Government making us wear seatbelts. That if we don’t, it causes insurance to go up. Not only can that no be proven but even if it could, Government should not be in the business of setting prices.

    Still, D.M., regardless if I am right or wrong on Socialism, the quote is STILL true, something you just cannot get right. This IS the first time we have been forced to enter a contract to buy something.

    BTW, I know what Socialism is and try as you will, you cannot avoid the fact that many of things Obama wants to do smack of socialism. You don’t like it because, as Roland pointed out, you are on his “side”.

  24. Jenny Says:

    D.M. I do like your points but I think that Roland (I don’t know about Dude) is correct in that quote. This is the first time.

  25. Jenny Says:

    Oops! Sorry..Roland didn’t quote that. It’s from someone else. Sorry.

  26. Dan The Man Says:

    Dude, actually, you are a bit off in some of your postings but still, I get the gist of what you are saying. Perhaps not socialism but, for sure, it is not capitalism.

  27. D. M. Manes Says:

    “…you just cannot get right. This IS the first time we have been forced to enter a contract to buy something.”

    Pay attention and I will be very clear: I recognize that this is the first time a law requires people to enter into a contract. But it isn’t the first time that a law has required people to do something they didn’t want to do, and it isn’t as significant of a thing as giving up your life or your income. So that observation, in and of itself, is not sufficient to discredit the reform.

  28. Jason the 13th Says:

    Yeah!!! Now I can get all the free health care I want!!!! It’s free!!!! Free!!!!!!!! Go Obama!! Go!!!!

  29. Freddie The Merc Says:

    Jason, you have no idea what you are talking about!

  30. Bubbles Says:

    Why not Freddie?

  31. Freddie the Merc Says:

    Um…because there is not this magic tree that money grows off of. Government has to get the money from someone…and it’s going to be YOU.

  32. Eric Says:

    Obama rules! Free healthcare for all!!!

  33. D. M. Manes Says:

    The bill is projected to save hundreds of billions over time by the CBO.

  34. Dude Says:

    D.M. if I have a right to bear arms does that mean that Government should provide me with a firearm? With all this talk of healthcare being a “right”, I should be.

  35. D. M. Manes Says:

    Dude, the government isn’t providing anyone with health insurance. No public option, buddy. Bad analogy.

  36. D. M. Manes Says:

    To fix your analogy…

    Let’s say major gun sellers like Wal-Mart had unfair and discriminatory practices that were interfering with citizens’ rights to bear arms. Let’s say these practices weren’t per se illegal, but they were widely criticized and viewed as bad for society, and they kept a lot of upstanding citizens from being able to buy guns, even though these citizens had done nothing wrong themselves to deserve this discrimination. Then perhaps it would be appropriate for legislation outlawing those practices.

    It was a really terrible analogy, though, so it took a big stretch to make it fit.

  37. karl Says:

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs…that sure sounds like what Obama is doing.

  38. Bubbles Says:

    You tell ’em DM! Obama Rules!!!

  39. D. M. Manes Says:

    I can sort of understand the initial ignorance behind something like “that sort of sounds like socialism,” but once it is clearly explained that it is not, then it becomes slackjawed idiocy instead of just innocent ignorance.

  40. Bubbles Says:

    Yeah! That’s right DM!!!! I’m going out today to get free health insurance!!!

  41. Dan The Man Says:

    So, D.M., you think healthcare IS a “right”?


  42. D. M. Manes Says:

    Dan, it’s difficult to answer the question and let me explain why.

    The word right can refer to specifically enumerated rights contained in the Constitution, like the right of free speech. It can also refer to rights that are implied by the text of the Constitution, even if it is not specifically enumerated, like the right of free association or the right to privacy. More broadly, the word right can refer to something to which universal access is a desirable thing.

    For me, health insurance is somewhere between the second and third of those definitions. I know it is not specifically enumerated as a right in the Constitution, but our political philosophy is not based on enumerated rights, it is based on natural rights (a philosophy with which I have my own separate problems). There are provisions in the Constitution and other founding documents that can be extrapolated to imply the right to health insurance, especially since it is so closely tied to life itself.

    For me, the strongest argument is in the last definition. I think it making sure as many people have health insurance as possible is a desirable thing, and people should not be denied access to it based on arbitrary or unfair circumstances. The majority of this country agrees with me on this point, and that is why we elected a Democratic president and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress who ran on platforms that included expanding health insurance. Access to health insurance is a right, but more of a rhetorical right than a Constitutional right. Does that make sense?

  43. Dan The Man Says:

    Actually, the majority of the polls show the American People do not support this take over but that is another discussion.

    “implying” rights is a dangerous course. We could say that the constitution implies that everyone have a 2000sqft house or have a $50,000 a year job.

    The rights of the Constitution exist between all peoples and do not infringe on others rights. My right to freedom of the press or speech does not infringe on your right of those items whereas a so called “right” to health insurance does. It infinges on my earnings to pay for the “right” of someone else to have the health care since Government has no money except for what it takes from us.

    You seem to imply as well that without this healthcare takeover that people will not get care which, they clearly do. It is the law they be treated.

  44. D. M. Manes Says:

    On the first (admittedly separate) issue, read FiveThirtyEight’s article on those polls:

    Implying rights is what we have always done. The Ninth Amendment reads: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Griswold is an example of how constitutional rights are implied and a good argument for why they should be. Of course, there is the Ninth Amendment – the people retain more rights than just the handful identified in the Bill of Rights.

    I agree that it can be treacherous navigating the waters of implied Constitutional rights, even though the concept must be admitted. That is why I prefer the philosophical “right” to the Constitutional “right,” and I tried to make that clear. I view expanding health insurance as a desirable goal, worth pursuing.

    Tell me, do you think that you have the right to drive your car from where you live across the country? If that is not a “right” of some sort, then the government could arbitrarily deny you that privilege without any justification. I think you do have that right, and a million other rights. Not only that, but I think that the ability of people to be mobile on a cross-country car trip level is a desirable thing, and I am glad that the federal government supported building highways that make that feasible. It’s good for everyone that the government builds and maintains highways, even if traveling cross-country in your car is not a specifically enumerated Constitutional right.

    Remember, neither cars nor highways were invented in 1776, and neither were hospitals and health insurance. There are some things that we have to make up as we go along because the founders provide no direct guidance.

  45. Dan The Man Says:

    Those crazy polls…here is one from today from CNN, hardly a conservative rag:

    Nope, I know I have no right to drive a car on the government mainained roads. It’s a privilge. We have zero “right” to drive on the roads. It’s the Government that lets us. They can revoke that and do when we abuse it. That is academic. That is basic constituional 101. Although, I am sure you will disagree and say it’s a right even though constitutional scholars agree it is not.

    Like I said, the rights in the Constitution do not infringe on others rights.

    This discussion is probably going to go nowhere because I think, from your last paragraph, you feel the constitution is a “living” document rather then a dead one, which it is.

  46. Legal Girl Says:

    Ah, Dan, reading some Walter E. Williams, I see. Very good and you are correct in your points.

    Driving, for sure, is not a right. Our rights only extend to the point that they deny someone else their rights. As with health care, as you pointed out, when they are taking money from me to pay for your health care that is no longer a right. It’s theft.

    I know, the government does it every day with welfare, social security, you name it. However, that does not make it right.

  47. D. M. Manes Says:

    Okay, Dan, I don’t think what I am saying is coming through, so let me back up and try again.

    I said that there are lots of ways to define the word “right” when you asked if I thought health care was a right. These are the three alternatives that I identified:

    1. Enumerated rights in the Constitution, like the right of free speech.
    2. Implied rights in the Constitution, like the right of privacy
    3. Philosophical rights, things that are desirable or valued

    Although I think there is a case for the second one, it requires more than a lay person’s understanding of Constitutional law (it requires a willingness to study Constitutional jurisprudence and not just listen to what commentators say about it). The case for viewing the “right to health care” in the context of definition #2 is good, but it is not compelling, and I am willing to drop it for the sake of our discussion here because it is creating problems for you.

    Under the third definition, yes, I think access to health care is absolutely a right. Society has already accepted this with laws that require hospitals to treat sick and injured patients who show up. If we viewed health care as a privilege, some hospital administrator could turn away sick, injured, and dying people who might not be able to pay. Thank goodness we don’t live in that world. This reform legislation modifies the way society as a whole takes care of a certain class of people (those who are above the poverty line, so do not qualify for current public programs, but do not have the resources to pay for private insurance). Now, instead of treating these people when they show up at the hospital with massive issues, they will have insurance covered access to preventative care and primary care physicians.

    Increasing access to health insurance is a desirable thing, and it has nothing to do with the Constitution under this definition. It is a right that should be guaranteed to every person, in my opinion.

    An analogy might be the right to have food to eat. It isn’t a right under definition #1 and nobody I know is making an argument for it being a right under #2, but it is something that we guarantee in this country. We have food stamp programs and other assistance programs that make sure that people can buy food to eat because we don’t want them starving on the streets in the wealthiest nation in the world. There are countries without safety nets like this and people really do starve. That’s why we started putting social safety nets in place during the Great Depression. There is very little difference between that kind of safety net (that guarantees people can survive with food to eat) and extending health insurance coverage to needy families (so they can survive illness and injury). You may have dreams of doing away with the entire welfare state, but don’t hold your breath. In this universe, time runs forward, and that debate has already been resolved definitively.

  48. D. M. Manes Says:

    Back to the popularity of the reform, did you bother to read the FiveThirtyEight article? I think it does a very good job of describing the current situation. I’m not claiming that polls show that the bill is popular right now. But just like always, polls need to be read with a grain of salt. Given the extreme circumstances of the past months regarding health care, that grain of salt is quite large. FiveThirtyEight has 14 points that have to be considered before making any claim that Democrats went against the public will by passing this legislation, and if you skipped reading it last time but still want to discuss this point, you need to read it so the dialog can go forward. You need to know where I am coming from.

    Speaking of polls, though, this one shows just how crazy our country has become.

    The Republican Party went totally off the rails in trying to defeat this legislation. Instead of pointing out the parts where they disagreed with the Democrats’ proposal or where they had alternate proposals, they fueled all sorts of ridiculous anti-government, anti-Obama anger. It’s the kind of irrational babble that has been happening on this blog (e.g. “the president hates profitable corporations”). Just look at how nutty Republicans have gotten:

    67% of Republicans believe that Obama is a Socialist.
    57% believe that Obama is a Muslim.
    45% say that Obama was “not born in the United States and is not eligible to be president.”
    38% say that Obama is “doing many of the things Hitler did.”
    24% say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”

    Maybe some of this craziness will cool off now that the matter is settled. Meanwhile, these completely ignorant people are saying they disapprove of the bill when they clearly have no idea what it is and what it does.

  49. Dan The Man Says:

    D.M., you must also believe we have a right to vote don’t you?

  50. Dan The Man Says:

    So, you believe we have a right to vote (I should add, in Federal Elections) even though the Supreme Court clearly stated we do not in Bush v. Gore: “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” ?

  51. D. M. Manes Says:

    “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the electoral college.” Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000).

    “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…” U.S. Const., Art. II, § 1.

    Every state has established by statute that popular vote will be the manner of directing the electors. A right established by statute is still a right. This is what I was talking about when I said this kind of thing may be too deep for amateur Con law.

    So that takes care of a right to vote (although it is statutory or state-level and not Constitutional) in presidential elections. What about other federal elections?

    “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.” U.S. Const., Art. I, § 2.

    “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof.” U.S. Const., amend 17, cl 1.

    Yeah, those are definitely guaranteed by the federal Constitution.

    Your Bush v. Gore point is entirely irrelevant to this discussion, Dude. If you read what I was writing, I was not talking about a Constitutional right in definition #3. What about that is not getting through to you? I’m not saying that an uninsured person in the US has standing to sue the government in federal court for denying the constitutional right to health care. Is that what you got from reading what I wrote?

  52. Legal Girl Says:

    Great point Dan. If one really wants to get to the bottom of what the problem with public education is, that is a great place to start. I can’t tell you how many people I run into that claim that we have a right to vote. D.M. and all his blather just doesn’t seem to get it. There is no constitutional right to vote. None. Zero. Just as there is no constituional right to health care. Or to driving for that matter. It just is not there and constitutional scholars, think tanks, professors ( and rational, sane people agree.

    If we have a right to vote, I wonder why felons cannot vote in most states. I also wonder why many groups want a constitutional ammendment to guarantee a persons right to vote if that right already exists.

    You can rant on and on and on but the law is the law is the law is the law. I guess if the Supreme Court doesn’t convince him, nothing will.

    This is Legal Girl, signing off. Your understanding is my success.

  53. D. M. Manes Says:

    Legal Girl, you utterly missed everything that I said in this entire line of comments. You don’t understand that I am talking broader than the Constitution (I am not arguing that there is a Constitutional right to health care). Furthermore, you and Dan are just wrong about the “right to vote.”

    You and he would have been right if you said simply “there is no Constitutional right to vote in federal presidential elections,” but the statement “there is no right to vote” is wrong for several reasons.

    1. There is a right to vote in federal presidential elections. It is established at the state level by state constitutions or state statutes. Every state has done this and any citizen in any state who is arbitrarily denied the right to vote has a claim under state law.

    2. There is a Constitutional right to vote in federal elections for House Representatives. I cited U.S. Const., Art. I, § 2.

    3. There is a Constitutional right to vote in federal elections for Senate. I cited U.S. Const., amend 17, cl 1.

    Do you understand these three points and why your repeated statement “there is no right to vote” is incorrect? What is your background, anyway? Do you have any real legal training beyond reading libertarian blogs? I can only assume from your comments that you have only a lay person understanding of the law, and not even a very good lay understanding.

    Your fundamental misunderstanding, as well as Dan’s, stems from your inability to grasp my most basic point: the word “right” has many different meanings. That word is not limited to definition #1 (as I defined above) or definition #2. I know this is a somewhat complicated philosophical area, but I didn’t think it would be this hard for you to get.

    As for public education, it is also a right. No, the federal Constitution does not establish it as a right, but most state Constitutions do. I live in Pennsylvania, for example, and the Pennsylvania Constitution requires the state to provide public education. “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” PA Const. Art. III, § 14

    Check your own state constitution or statutes and I bet you find some provision that requires the state to provide public education.

    If you don’t understand the simple concept that “right” can be more than just “federal Constitutional right,” then you may not understand this either. I don’t know how to make it any easier for you to understand, though.

  54. Dan The Man Says:

    Yes, D.M., I guess all these scholars and the Supreme Court are wrong and you and only you are correct.

    The fact is that the States cannot deny someone the right to vote based on race, gender, etc.. but it is up to the states whether you can even vote at all. They give you the right to vote. If they choose not to, that is up to them. The Federal Government cannot come in and require they give all citizens the right to vote.

    Again, I will give you that little quote from the Supreme Court, in case you missed it: “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.”

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