ABA Journal


Constitutional Law

In Lopsided Vote, Montana Voters Express Disapproval of Citizens United

Nov 9, 2012, 02:17 pm CST


This is such a tricky issue for me.

For the sake of stability of our entire system, people can't just defy Supreme Court judgments.

But you have to wonder whether -- when the issue is something that affects the fundamental soundness of the democratic process -- there isn't more justification for resisting than when a state, say, doesn't want to integrate its schools.

It's also tricky because of the question of how easily our Constitution should be able to be amended to overcome a political decision by nine people.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 09, 3:37 pm CST

What a bunch of communists they are up in Montana! Corporations are people too! They have rights and they deserve a little respect for the hard work they do for the American People!

By Dark Lord of the Right on 2012 11 09, 3:42 pm CST

1. This discussion is highly academic since you'll never get the required three-quarters of the states to approve an amendment to the Constitution that would overturn Citizens United.

2. Yet, from an almost sentimental (yes, I know I am an old softie), traditional Federalism perspective, I would like to find a way to allow Montana to conduct its affairs as it sees fit. Heck, I since don't live in Montana, what business is it of mine what they do? It's the same sentiment that inspires me to take no position on the decisions of Colorado and Oregon to allow recreational marijuana use. (Want to smoke weed? Knock yourself out.)

My proposal would be to interpret the First Amendment as it was originally intended. As a restriction on the authority of Congress, i.e., the legislative body of the national government, only; the First Amendment would not longer be binding on states and instrumentalities of states.

My proposal might well get the required three-quarters approval since it will allow Montana to regulate political speech as it sees fits and will allow those of us who are blessed to live in dark red states to conduct our affairs as we see fit without regard that developed First Amendment jurisprudence that we find annoying.

Big Tent Federalism; I think we should try it. It is the only way to bring the Red and Blue states together again. It is as simple as You Leave Us Alone and We'll Leave You Alone.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

By Yankee on 2012 11 09, 4:36 pm CST

@3 - I'm posting in response here because your contribution here was a non-trolling contribution to the discussion and contains some interesting points.

I've heard people raise this "If you don't like it, move to another state" argument before, and I think you have to keep in mind that it's an argument that inherently benefits the privileged and discriminates against the poor.

Consider abortion -- When it is illegal, wealthy or middle-class white women simply go elsewhere to have them done safely, whereas poorer women, who can least afford to pay for childbirth and rearing, have access only to unsafe, illegal procedures.

Your endgame, then, would create a situation where only the privileged would be able to "shop" around for a residence in a state that protected their rights. And there would be no stability -- tomorrow, the state's majority could decide to eliminate or infringe on any right, leaving you again having to pull up roots and find another state.

I do not often use the overused and trite phrase "un-American," but I honestly believe it applies to that suggestion. It simply defies what *I* believe is the spirit of our liberty to suggest that a U.S. Citizen should have to leave his or her home and relocate simply to secure his or her fundamental rights.

There's also another piece of historical analysis that you're missing here regarding the Bill of Rights, which you can see in notes of the convention surrounding its drafting. We have to look back at why people objected to the Bill of Rights at all. No one objected to the rights themselves. They just thought it was ridiculous and unnecessary because **they did not believe that any government had the power to infringe those rights to begin with**.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 09, 4:47 pm CST

@4 I love how everyone forgets your last point in your post - mainly because their fears have come to fruition in many cases. ("It's not explicitly in the Constitution, so therefore you have no rights!")

I agree with your first post though, re: ambivalence. On the one hand, the decision in Citizens United was a complete joke, on the other hand, it's currently the precedent courts/governments must follow. It's no different than what Roy Moore did and to condemn him, but not condemn Montana would be hypocritical.

I take solace in the belief that, like most mistakes in the US, this will be sorted out down the road. I may have to live during the time period where it remains broken, but it won't always be. Mainly because that's been the history of the US - it may take 50+ years, but eventually we fix things.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 09, 5:29 pm CST


1. Abortion is an very odd example to use as the foundation for your argument given the fact that the text of the United States Constitution is so deafly silent on the issue. This is why Kennedy appointee Justice Byron White described the holding in Roe v. Wade as "An exercise of raw judicial power".

Your argument would have been much more compelling had it included one of the rights more universally thought to be contemplated by the 14th Amendment as within the gambit of "privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States". Had you cited one of those rights, you would have established the outside limits of Big Tent Federalism.

2. You state: "And there would be no stability—tomorrow, the state’s majority could decide to eliminate or infringe on any right, leaving you again having to pull up roots and find another state."

You're making a cultural/sociological argument rather than a legal one (that's not a criticism; just an observation)

From where I sit, the cultural in the states with which I am familiar (both red and blue) are far more stable and distinct overtime than you suggest. The factual basis for your observation from my perspective is factually incorrect.

3. A reasonable outsider might consider it patronizing for someone to think that the General Assemblies of the several states need the supervision of the National government in the conduct of their affairs. The voting age adults in Washington State and Colorado, and in Alabama and Georgia, should presumptively know what they are doing.

Human nature being what it is, there is corruption and bias everywhere. Likewise, human nature being what it is, there is a means to confront corruption and correct bias.

The folks in the National government are no better or worse than their counterparts in the state governments. They just come to the table with a very blue-ish cultural perspective - - - and that's the problem.

By Yankee on 2012 11 09, 5:33 pm CST

Revoking citizenship? They should call it the Reich Citizenship Law.

By Dr Phun on 2012 11 09, 6:07 pm CST

@6 I'm going to take a wild guess you have zero interaction with State representatives and/or State employees. The only people who are more incompetent are local political units. I'm not talking about political party in any way, shape, or form, there's like 1 in 100 that are not crap on both sides (compared to federal reps/employees). I deal with all levels of government on a regular basis and the great thing about the feds is they move slowly, but methodically. State and local are just giant crapshoots of insanity.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 09, 6:21 pm CST

@9 You guess: " I’m going to take a wild guess you have zero interaction with State representatives and/or State employees. "

You guessed wrong.

Although my interaction with Federal regulators is admittedly daily, I still have irregular interaction these days with state regulators (I used to have daily interaction with state regulators in a former life.)

Your observation that federal regulators/legislators "move slowly, but methodically" relative to state regulators/legislators doesn't match my experience in the niches in which I practice.

Putting the Feds and the states aside, I will concede that based upon stories I have heard the locals are truly insane. (I don't have to deal with them, thank God.)

By Yankee on 2012 11 09, 6:34 pm CST

@6 - You missed the point. This is not about abortion, it's about the effects of creating a system where the wealthy can travel to places where their rights are not infringed while the less wealthy cannot. Abortion is simply one scenario where this has happened as a matter of undeniable, objective, documented, historical fact.

Your premise about the stability is fundamentally flawed. You are judging from personal experience in a world in which the Bill of Rights *has* applied to the states and *has* created stability because it restrains those states.

This is NOT a red versus blue state issue. This is an issue of "without this, any state can alter your fundamental rights at the whim of whatever the majority is at a current time." There are a host of state laws that have been proposed that would have fundamentally and suddenly changed rights in those states if it were not for the fact that the law would have been unconstitutional under the extension of the Bill of Rights to the states.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 09, 6:34 pm CST


1. You assert: "You are judging from personal experience in a world in which the Bill of Rights *has* applied to the states and *has* created stability because it restrains those states. "

The Bill of Rights is just a piece of paper populated by text. Important text; historic text; noble text; text which if implemented will lead to good results. But just text none-the-less.

What has created that the stability of which you speak are the living, breathing human beings - - - both inherently flawed and inherently noble - - - who were committed to fairness and the Rule of Law (no doubt imperfectly understood), who have implemented the Bill of Rights over time.

These same human beings will still be around when we go the way of Big Tent Federalism.

(Remember: The 1936 Soviet Constitution had alot of noble text in it as well - - - text no doubt that the guest of the Soviet Gulag could read during their leisure time.)

2. Sometimes I wonder, Andy, who has the dimmer view of human nature: You or me.

Normally I would say it was me, although your seeming opinion that personal liberty in the Red States would immediately be put in jeopardy suggests that your view of human nature is much darker than mine.

What would be put in jeopardy if we went the way of Big Tent Federalism is the ability of the national government to control local affairs to the extent that they presently do. Given the cultural perspective within the Beltway (very blue), I fully understand why someone from a Blue state perspective would not want to let go.

By Yankee on 2012 11 09, 7:07 pm CST

@9 You must have hit the jackpot (not a big pot, but still.) - I have to deal with about 10 different State agencies on a regular basis (I work for a gov't contractor) and there's only 2-3 people I've worked with that are competent. The federal people I work with are also usually incompetent but they have tons of specific guidelines to follow, so much so a fairly average orangutan would probably be a star employee (and I'd happily work with him/her!).

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 09, 7:09 pm CST

@11 He can defend himself, but I didn't read his posts as suggesting that "personal liberty in the Red States would immediately be put in jeopardy ". I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion. I think what he said is fairly reasoned, and well founded, that local opinions change faster than national opinions and it is more difficult to change the federal Constitution and laws than ones at the State level. In this manner, people are more insulated from rash changes than if States were able to change/affect many of the rights protected by/reserved to the federal gov't.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 09, 7:24 pm CST

@11 -- You're starting to try to maneuver away from the point again. The subject is the Bill of Rights restraining the states.

Your experience with past stability took place in a legal framework where the Bill of Rights restrained those states and kept certain rights stable. That is objective fact. This means that when we project forward to a world where the Bill of Rights is no longer in place, your past observations are not a valid predictor of future events.

We can objectively POINT to the risk here. Despite how you love to criticize anyone who disagrees with you as a beltway liberal, this is not speculation based on some misconception about red states. First, this is NOT limited to red states -- it would include for example, a state that wanted to infringe on religious speech and gun ownership rights. We can POINT TO A) proposed legislation that was not enacted because of obvious conflict with the Bill of Rights and B) proposed legislation that was enacted and struck down because of the same. Not just the First Amendment, but the Second, the Fourth -- the whole lot.

This is NOT a red state versus blue state issue, despite your attempts to turn it into that for some bizarre reason. NO citizen in ANY state should be at risk of any sudden alteration of those rights based on the whim of the majority. The Convention Notes demonstrate that the Founders did not think that any government had that authority.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 09, 7:25 pm CST

@13 - Thank you. I appreciate you knocking down that strawman for me. I do respond when a valid discussion is going on, but if (when) it reaches the trolling point, I'll shut down.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 09, 7:27 pm CST

Yankee @ 3: W/R/T your assertion: "1. This discussion is highly academic since you’ll never get the required three-quarters of the states to approve an amendment to the Constitution that would overturn Citizens United."

When this game-plan comes back to bite the conservatives in the ass often enough, Citizens United will be overturned. Mitt Romney lost because of the financial efforts of superPACs whose reach was enhanced by Citizens United. After all, there's nothing that prevents the Democrats from playing this game as well--and the Democrats appear to be better at appealing to ordinary people. When FOX NEWS called the election for OBAMA, Karl Rove looked like he would have a coronary on national TV. It may take a few election cycles, but eventually, the public will get sick of the almost 24/7 media circus in election years and vote it down--assuming the Supreme Court doesn't come to its senses beforehand.

By BMF on 2012 11 09, 7:44 pm CST


1. ". . . a legal framework where the Bill of Rights restrained those states . . ."

Although we are bothobviously familiar with the incorporation doctrine as it was taught in law school the plain fact of the matter is that nowhere in the 14th Amendment does it say anything about incorporating any part of the Bill of Rights. It is truly inconceivable that a thing of such significance as the incorporation doctrine would be so veiled in mystery within the text of the 14th Amendment that it would take years before some Supreme Court judge divined that such a thing existed. I don't believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy . . . or the incorporation doctrine.

If you take the text of the Bill of Rights at face value, these ten amendments to the Constitution were primarily intended to restrain only Congress.

And if you take the text of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment at face value, this language was intended to restrain the legislatures of the several states.

In my previous comments, I didn't say anything about doing away with or modifying either the Bill of Rights or the 14th Amendment, but rather have them apply in the way they were intended to operate.

2. ". . . the whim of the majority . . ."

The "whim of the majority" can find expression whereever imperfect human beings are gathered and acting under the color of law, whether that be a national, state or local legislative body.

The only difference between national, state and local legislative bodies, is the scale of the harm that they can inflict. (Do you what you've done, Andy? You've got me caught up in your depressingly dim view of human nature.)

By Yankee on 2012 11 09, 8:11 pm CST

@14 - Very true -- incorporation is complete judicial artifact. It has some reasonable foundation in that we can see that the Founders did not believe *any* government could violate those rights by definition. But the formal incorporation is judicially manufactured.

Again, the issue is whether your past experience is a valid predictor of stability in a hypothetical world where we suddenly reversed course and read the Bill of Rights as binding only against the federal government. I hope you'll understand why I feel that your past experience is *not* a valid predictor. That past experience has occurred under a framework where incorporation *has happened*.

Now, the next logical step is then to say "Ok, well, was it stable *before* incorporation?" Perhaps so, perhaps not -- we'd need historical research. But I offer that even if it *was*, we are now in an era of mass media and flash opinions, where reasoned debate is quite simply drying up. So it would be doubtful if the old context was comparable to the present.

Is it possible that we could continue with stability without the Bill of Rights being binding on the states? Absolutely. But given the efforts of the states over and over again to pass laws in clear conflict with the Bill of Rights, I can't imagine that people will suddenly act reasonably.

HERE is what I would respond with, if I were you--
It's POSSIBLE that state legislators only PROPOSE obviously unconstitutional legislation because they know that they can do so *safely* because the federal courts will strike it down. So they can rant and rave and propose legislation that scores political points without any *actual* fear of *really* changing peoples' rights.

If that's the case, it's at least possible that if Incorporation somehow stopped, we'd see less extremely infringing legislation proposed.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 09, 8:28 pm CST

@2: Really? Name one single time a corporation got the death penalty for killing anyone. Or even got put in jail. I'd love to be a corporation -- I'd never get anything worse than a paltry fine no matter how many people I killed, how much money I stole, or how much property damage I inflicted.

By Twinkly Princess of the Left on 2012 11 09, 8:34 pm CST

@18 You propose: ". . . was it stable before incorporation? Perhaps so, perhaps not—we’d need historical research."

Yes, the historic research you propose would help inform a prediction on whether there would likely be cultural and legal stability within the several states if we moved in the direction of Big Tent Federalism.

But the issue is alot broader than that, and includes (in my opinion) a diminishing respect in the rule of law generally, and a decreasing trust in the Federal Judiciary, including the Supreme Court. (And from the comments posted on this Board, that distruct is expressed just as often by those on the left as it is by those on the right)

And, finally, as you note in the last paragraph of your note, increased authority at the state level as a result of the implementation of Big Tent Federalism, may result in more responsible legislating.

By Yankee on 2012 11 09, 8:44 pm CST

A constitutional amendment establishing that “corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights" would probably not go far enough to strike the holding in Citizens. After all, that opinion did not hold that corporations are human beings with constitutional rights, but rather that they are people.

Yankee @3, you state that you would interpret the 1st amendment as it was originally intended. Fair enough, assuming text ratified by thousands can have one discrete "original intent". But that begs the question, what was the original intent of the framers with respect to corporate campaign donations?

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 13, 5:29 pm CST

@21 - Well, I think it's actually two questions:
A) Would they have regarded the raw expenditure of money as "speech," and
B) Would they have regarded the First Amendment as applying to corporate entities.

Even if the answer to both is yes, he still loses under any originalist interpretation. Recall that the First Amendment did *not* apply to states. It's therefore actually *impossible* that any of the Founders intended it to restrain a *state's* ability to restrain corporate speech keep corporate interests from influencing elections.

So, for the "originalist," it's a bit of a pickle. Not only do you have to stretch the First Amendment, you also have to be willing to buy into the whole "incorporation" business.

Not that having to distort history and law to reach a politically preferred outcome has ever been a problem for originalists before...

By Another Andy on 2012 11 13, 5:35 pm CST

Well thanks Andy for taking all of the fun out of that set up. But seriously, you provide a very clear and concise job of presenting what the critical analysis would have to be in taking the "originalist" approach. Hopefully some will be educated by it.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 13, 6:21 pm CST

I do what I can.

Including, apparently, as I re-read what I wrote, dropping a preposition or two.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 13, 6:27 pm CST

@22 Originalists are not in a pickle. Indeed, my preference is that the Court had not taken the incorporation route years ago. Had the Court not done that, liberals would have a reasonable basis for concluding that Montana was not bound by Citizens United for state elections.

Indeed, it appears that liberals have been hoist with one's own petard in this case, namely, with the incorporation doctrine that they have long advanced. .

By Yankee on 2012 11 13, 9:34 pm CST

I realize you didn't mean it this way, but you're actually more accurate than you realize. Given that the root of "liberal" is "liberty," then, yes, Incorporation is a doctrine advanced by liberty-loving persons.

However, the way you likely *meant* it is probably not historically or intellectually honest. Both "liberals" and "conservatives" cherish many of the fruits of incorporation -- Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Search and Seizure, the Right to Bear Arms and Assemble... these parts of the American value system transcend your attempt to make everything a left-right binary. (And in fact, it's worth noting that most -- though not all, of course -- liberal causes involve the 14th Amendment which does, on its face, apply to the states. "Liberals" simply don't *need* incorporation to have a textual ground for equality.)

Whether you characterize it as a "pickle" or not, then, you've agreed with my point -- in order to reach that conclusion, you have to reject Incorporation, and precious few self-proclaimed originalists are willing to do that. If you are, then hats off to a small glimmer of consistency and intellectual honest amongst originalists. For the rest of them -- in order to keep their politically preferred outcome, they have to hang their hat on a decidedly non-originalist doctrine.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 13, 9:50 pm CST

One the other hand, one very happy result of Citizens United = the complete waste of scores of millions of dollars donated by clueless billionaires to impotent right wing superPACs whose candidates overwhelmingly failed to get elected.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 13, 11:10 pm CST

@27 Your right: The dollars donated to persuade people can't be the type of outright voter fraud that the political machines in cities like Philadephia and Cleveland can accomplish.

By Yankee on 2012 11 14, 1:30 am CST

AndytheLawyer @ 27: I have to disagree with your assertion that billionaires who donate millions to conservative--and other--causes are clueless. They know exactly what they're doing. (Or if they don't, they have highly paid lawyers and functionaries who will find out and ratchet the information down to their level of understanding.) These people really are NOT like the rest of us; they are motivated only by money, and the power, influence, and things that money can buy. Their homes are "status symbols;" their interpersonal relationships are "accessories;" their positions are "tools;" and any semblance of humanity they display is merely--e.g. their charitable donations--are a means to an end.

If Al Qaeda had simply taken out the 600 and 700 blocks of Park Avenue in NYC instead of the Twin Towers, they would have actually accomplished their stated goal with less loss of human life. As a side benefit, this country might not be in the financial mess we're currently enjoying, and there would be a lot less money influencing politics.

By BMF on 2012 11 14, 1:31 am CST

@26 Thank you. I stand corrected. In my earlier post, I meant "liberal" in its commonly accepted pejorative sense of a tyranny-tolerating, religion-hating elitist who seeks to build the state at the expense of the individual.

By the way, originalists on the Court have as their starting point the errant precedent of the incorporation. With that starting point, they had no choice but to apply Citizens United to Montana.

By Yankee on 2012 11 14, 1:36 am CST

Aaaand with those marvelous, broad, almost *magically* hateful generalizations that make the other side's case for them better than they ever could, I will bow out unless and until non-trolling discussion is offered.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 14, 1:55 am CST

@29 You claim: " . . . billionaires . . . are motivated only by money, and the power, influence, and things that money can buy. . . "

BMF: I will first point out that those are exactly the type of "hateful generalizations" that has compelled Andy @31 to warn us that he "will bow out" unless you cease and desist from saying such things. Please try to elevate this conversation.

And, yes, these billionaires of whom you speak - - - Arthur Blank, Warren Buffett, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, David Geffen, Charles Gifford, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Norman Lear, Penny Pritzker, George Soros, Steven Spielberg, Steve Tisch and Oprah Winfrey - - - are admittedly a loathsome and obnoxious bunch, but your claim that they are "NOT like the rest of us" is both cruel and untrue. They, like us, are loved by God dispite their many faults.

By Yankee on 2012 11 14, 2:34 am CST

Yankee @ 32: Where would the rest of us be without "chat room church ladies" and "self-appointed internet morality mavens" such as yourself? Apparently, in your haste to foist the blame for the results of your own remarks on others, you not only overlooked the fact that my remark covered billionaires who donated to conservative as well as other causes, but you've been so busy here that you missed out on that ABA article that links psychopathy to high profile and high income professions.

As for billionaires of any stripe being loved by God despite their many faults, I'm sure most of them will wholeheartedly agree--after all the money they donated to the cause. However, they will also no doubt cover all bases by trying to cut a deal with the devil to insure they have A/C and a really sweet penthouse overlooking the Lake of Fire.

By BMF on 2012 11 14, 5:53 am CST

Just stop expecting him to be consistent or acknowledge reality.

It hurts your brain less that way.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 14, 2:29 pm CST

@34 You: "Just stop expecting him to be consistent or acknowledge reality."

As much I hate to make you exert your brain (that's why it hurts, Andy), the fact of the matter is that Yours Truly live fully within the town limits of Realsville, USA. In my little town of Realsville (our population is growing daily), we recognize that the US National debt is $16.2 Trillion - - - almost $60K per US household. (And if you exclude the households on government assistance and divide the debt among households who contribute to society, you can triple that amount.) And this is without considering the many non-debt unfunded liabilities associated with commitments made by the National government.

In Realsville, we recognize that the overall unemployment has not improved since Obama was first elected. And there are reasons that can be easily discerned for what it is not improving. reason

In Realsville, our ability to reason in a clear headed fashion tells us that there are good reasons why old cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia are marked by violence, negative economic group, and social pathologies of various types. The woes suffered in these urban are not the result of happenchance.

And turning back to the article and my earlier comments, the country woudl benefit (both in terms of growth and national unity) if we turned back to the Big Tent Federalism envisioned by the Founding Fathers, which would would not view the First Amendment as a restriction on the General Assembly of Montana (or Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina etc). States, provided they have a republican form of government as required by the Constitution, can be trusted to do right by their citizens.

By Yankee on 2012 11 14, 4:05 pm CST

"People are making good points. I'd better say something bad about Obama to throw them off the trail."

By Another Andy on 2012 11 14, 4:36 pm CST

Ah Realsville, that wonderful place where people have no need for any brain tissue above the brain stem, where ignorance is bliss, and everyone is in a constant state of euphoria.

It's not a place for arithmetic, as its inhabitants are convinced that subtracting from a negative increases the remainder (and such is their plan for debt reduction).

It's not a place for basic economics, as they do not know (and have no wish to know) that macroeconomic indicators such as growth and employment lag behind the policies that affect them, and in any case have been on a noticeable upward trend.

It's not a place for political science, because in spite of the fact that Congress and not the President passes laws, all policy shortcomings there are blamed on the President.

It's not a place for honesty, as it's boomer inhabitants wring their hands in public about the national debt, while in private they love the benefits that this credit taken out in the name of their grandchildren has given them. They vow not to pay it back, and snarl at any such suggestion.

Yankee, I'll bet you're the mayor of that place.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 14, 4:54 pm CST

By "clueless billionaires," I meant extremely rich people who think that money alone and the negative ads it buys inevitably wins elections.

If any of us lawyers had a win/loss record like Rove this year, we'd be out of business.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 14, 5:18 pm CST

#37 You quip: "It’s not a place for basic economics, as they do not know (and have no wish to know) . . ."

In their report dated January 9, 2012 titled: "The Job Impact Of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan", Dr. Christina Romer, Then Chair - Nominee - Designee of the President's Council of Economic Advisors confidently predicted, over the objections of conservatives, an unemployment rate of 5.3% by the 4th quarter of 2012 IF Obama's Stimulus plan was enacted. (See, Page 5, Figure 1)

The Stimulus plan was enacted.

The unemployment rate today, well into the 4th quarter of 2012 is pushing 8%.

In Realsville, we understand economics. In Food Stamp-ville, not so much, huh?

By Yankee on 2012 11 14, 7:41 pm CST

The dimwitted denizens or Realsville are not big on causal logic either (unsurprisingly).

In their world, an argument along the lines of :"A person with whom I disagree on a subject was not able to make an accurate prediction in that field. Therefore, I understand that field" is a perfectly sound argument.

An absolute marvel, Realsville is.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 14, 8:20 pm CST

@40 - You're right. We all know it. Don't feed the troll more than absolutely necessary.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 14, 8:23 pm CST

@40 ". . . not able to make an accurate prediction . . ."

Holy smokes! The huge difference between what was predicted and what was achieved, goes well beyond a mere lack accuracy, and calls into question whether Dr. Romer and this Administration understanding of the market and the dynamics of the American economy.

The fact that this type of Stimulus program (in contrast to a tax rate cut) doesn't work has been long established. This is why Republican support for the Stimulus Bill was non-existent.

Tragically, Obama's understanding of economics hasn't progressed beyond 1936. Get into the 21st Century, Dude.

By Yankee on 2012 11 14, 8:39 pm CST

@42 - Factually untrue. A number of reputable economists with greater credentials than yourself support the idea of an economic stimulus as opposed to a tax rate cut.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 14, 8:44 pm CST

Another Andy @ 41: ...But feeding the troll appeals to my inner psychopath--and it keeps him from torturing the pets!

"Realsville" sounds like "Stepford" as re-imagined by Ayn Rand. Too bad the Realsvilleins haven't figured out that this country has been running a deficit since its inception; and if taxes on the wealthy and capital gains had remained at the same levels they were under the sainted Ronald Reagan, we might not be in our current financial bind.

Also, there have been several interesting financial instruments developed by Yankee's friends, the billionaire investment bankers--whom god loves despite their faults, because they donate so MUCH to the building fund--that have driven many "Realsvilles" to bankruptcy.

By BMF on 2012 11 14, 9:03 pm CST

I was thinking Realville is more like the Mad Hatter's tea party as imagined by Tom Petty....

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 14, 9:15 pm CST

@44 You muse: ". . . if taxes on the wealthy and capital gains had remained at the same levels they were under the sainted Ronald Reagan, we might not be in our current financial bind . . "

Increasing the tax rate on capital income causes capital to seek countries with lower rates. This results in a loss of jobs when the capital builds businesses elsewhere. Given the essentially voluntary nature of the capital gains tax and its destructive impact on capital formation, the very best economic policy would be to eliminate taxes on investment and savings.

Unfortunately, given the greed-based underpinings of the Leftist economic policy, the fact that a reduction or elimination of the capital gains rate would benefit the economy as a whole would make it a non-starter in the Obama Administration.

By Yankee on 2012 11 14, 9:34 pm CST



Two things. One, the date is wrong on the date you've provided for the report. Two, if you actually read the report, the number of caveats, limitations and other fine print surrounding that 5.3% number would do any lawyer proud, but like all fine print, most people failed to actually read it. But then again, you've never let fact checkers dictate to your campaign.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 15, 12:34 pm CST

@47 You're right: The date of the report is January 9, 2009.

And, yes, I did read this extremely thin report (more of a political sales piece, than rigorous economic analysis) including all of the caveats, limitations and other fine print, and it is nonetheless clear that Obama sold its foolish and expensive Stimulus program to Congress on the strength of how it would improve the unemployment rate. And it didn't!!!!!

By the way, why do you feel compelled to make excuses for this administration? Can you imagine any set of circumstances where you would hold them accountable?

By Yankee on 2012 11 15, 2:34 pm CST

@47 - The problem is, even by responding, you let him capture this thread and derail it into something about Obama, like he does with absolutely every discussion here. He's immune to facts and reason, we all know that.

The only way to deal with this problem is to ignore him unless and until he actually contributes something to the discussion. And yes, I'm guilty of it too. But if we work together, we can train him that he'll only get a response if he sticks to the topic and stays reasonable.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 15, 2:35 pm CST

@49 You assert: "He’s immune to facts and reason, we all know that."

You're immune to facts and reason and we all know that.

Obama layed down a very precise marker on January 9, 2009 (something he hasn't done since) and you simply chose to ignore it. Pretty much par for the course.

You're comments almost always spring from left-wing ideology rather than objective fact. In lieu of reasoning, what I see from you is snark and bullying.

By Yankee on 2012 11 15, 2:43 pm CST


I think the most interesting thing about the Montana vote is that it's the only time in living memory (that I could find anyway) that a constitutional amendment had been proposed by referendum of the people in a state.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 15, 3:51 pm CST

The referendum isn't specifically approving a proposed amendment but rather calling on the delegation to propose one to Congress, am I reading the article correctly? I'm sorry if it's buried in one of the links, but I couldn't find a link to the text of the initiative, does anyone have one?

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 15, 3:56 pm CST

@51/52 It happens all the time - about half of the states allow for what's called an "initiative" - it's just a statute or constitutional amendment that is placed on the ballot via petition. It proposes specific text.

Also, a referendum is a vote for the repeal of a law.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 15, 4:45 pm CST


I'm not sure if you were trying to be informative or sarcastic, so since I'm naturally optimistic by nature, I choose to believe informative. I was not speaking in my posts of State Constitution amendments being proposed at the state level in this manner, but rather a Federal Constitutional amendment.

Also, in regards to my usage of Referendum as a word, I direct you the fine folks at Merriam-Webster which defines a Referendum as:

1. (a) the principle or practice of submitting to popular vote a measure passed on or proposed by a legislative body or by popular initiative

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 15, 6:33 pm CST

I wasn't being sarcastic - this was a state initiative. They approved modification of their State Constitution. I think maybe the confusion is from the fact they amended their constitution to include a bit about Montana politicians advocating this position at the state and federal level...? I'm not sure why else you thought it had something to the Federal Constitution.

Also, I was describing referendum as it would be used in describing motions by the populous - initiative for new law, referendum for repeal of a law... Was solely to be informative.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 2:58 am CST

Since we're getting technical, the noun you were looking for is "populace"; "populous" is an adjective.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 16, 2:04 pm CST


I see your point, this sentence from the article gave the impression it was the Federal Constitution.

"According to the initiative, the state's congressional congressional delegation should propose the constitutional amendment establishing that “corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights.""

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 16, 2:17 pm CST

I'm sorry to again double post, but because it wasn't clear is why I wanted a link to the text of the initiative so I could read for myself what it said.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 16, 2:18 pm CST

@56 That's what happens when you're still at work at 10 PM...

@58 The courthouse news link (in the article above) has the text.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 5:23 pm CST

So it does. Apparently I should look into this "reading" thing.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 19, 4:36 pm CST

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