December 14, 2007

Romney, the Courts, and the Constitutions: The Dam May Be Breaking

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:36 pm

Finally, one of the other GOP presidential campaigns has caught on to what happened in Massachusetts while Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney was in charge — and on two fronts, no less.

Subsidized Abortion Services

Wednesday, the Fred Thompson campaign called attention to the subsidized abortion services included in Commonwealth Care, aka RomneyCare (bold is mine):

Thompson slams Romney on $50 abortions in Mass.
By David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers

Fred Thompson escalated the Republican presidential candidates’ war over abortion Wednesday by tying former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to “$50 abortions in Massachusetts.”

Romney, the governor from 2003 until January, helped create Commonwealth Care, a state-run and subsidized program for low- and moderate-income people. The state helps determine what services are to be covered, and its list includes a provision in which women can get abortions for $50 co-payments.

The legislation also created a MassHealth payment policy advisory board that gave Planned Parenthood a seat, but not an anti-abortion group.

“Romney claims to be pro-life,” the Thompson campaign said in a statement. “But under his health care plan, Massachusetts residents now have access to taxpayer-funded abortions for $50.”

The Thompson statement also said that Romney had used his line-item veto authority to strike eight sections of the bill, but not the terms guaranteeing Planned Parenthood board representation, “and he did nothing to prohibit taxpayer-financed abortions as part of his plan.”

The Romney campaign objected. Spokesman Kevin Madden branded Thompson’s claims a “distortion,” saying that under state law, if Massachusetts is funding health care benefits, it can’t refuse abortion coverage.

I know it’s too much to expect of an Old Media reporter, but the “war” isn’t over abortion. It’s over whether constitutions mean anything any more.

Here’s a simple question for Kevin Madden: WHICH LAW?

This is important, because I believe that before RomneyCare there was NO law (i.e., a statute passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor) mandating government-subsidized abortion services. The reason I believe this is the case is that, as I understand it, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) “ruled” that subsidized abortion services “should” be provided under Medicaid two separate times, once in 1981 and another time in 1997, as a result of specific individual cases brought before it.

Note that I said “ruled” and “should.” That’s because the SJC cannot, repeat cannot, order the Legislature or the governor around under Massachusetts’ Constitution. They can only, repeat only, render their opinions on Constitutional matters when deciding specific individual cases before them. Two such individual cases are what they apparently decided in 1981 and 1997. Those decisions applied to those two cases, and those two cases only. To make the decisions applicable to the entire state requires an actual law.

(8 PM update for crystal clarity, via John Haskins – “Court rulings (or opinions) are not ‘obeyed’ by the legislature or the governor (or, I would argue, the entire executive branch), because judges cannot order the two elected branches around. They are ‘orders’ when issued to private individuals or corporations — IF the court has jurisdiction.” Thanks, John.)

It was, and perhaps still is, up to the Legislature to enshrine the provision of subsidized abortion services into law.

IF (repeat IF), as I suspect, the Legislature never enshrined the provision of subsidized abortion services into law (bureaucrat-issued regulations not supported by specific statutes DON’T count), one of the following three things has to be true:

  1. Any subsidized abortion services provided by Massachusetts during the past 26 years have been illegal (literally not supported by a real law).
  2. If the provision of subsidized abortion services was included for the first time in the state’s history in the law that created RomneyCare, Mitt Romney, by not exercising his veto powers, enshrined the provision of subsidized abortion services into law for the first time, and at the same time significantly increased the number of state citizens to whom subsidized abortion services would be made available.
  3. If the provision of subsidized abortion services was NOT included in the law that created RomneyCare, Mitt Romney and his administration (and his successor) have continued a 26-year tradition of to provide subsidized abortion services illegally (again, literally not supported by a real law), and significantly increased the number of state citizens to whom subsidized abortion services would be made available.

Unfit Mitt has a lot of explaining to do. He’s called Unfit Mitt around here because I believe he can’t.

Memo to Kevin Madden: Unless you can cite a specific Massachusetts law that was in place before RomneyCare (not a court ruling, Kevin, a real honest-to-goodness piece of statutory law), your only choices are Door Number 1, Door Number 2, or Door Number 3. You might want to ask your boss which one he prefers.

Unilateral Implementation of Same-Sex Marriage

This one’s the hum-ding-danger, though I hope Team Thompson is just warming up (bold is mine):

Rival: Gay-wed certificates prove ex-gov’s a flip-flopper

GOP presidential contender Fred Thompson is charging that Mitt Romney flip-flopped on gay marriage because he approved hundreds of special certificates that allowed regular citizens to officiate scores of same-sex weddings during his tenure as governor.

Romney, who has cast himself as the staunchest Republican defender of traditional marriage, reportedly signed off on almost 200 one-day certificates allowing gay and lesbian couples to use unlicensed friends to preside over their weddings. Under an obscure state law, the certificates can be granted only to couples that get approval from the governor’s office.

“This is why Mitt Romney is having such a hard time in Iowa right now,” said Thompson spokeswoman Karen Hanretty, who called the license approvals another reason to doubt Romney “on matters of principle and conviction.”

….. A spokesman for the former governor dismissed the latest attack, saying it would have been illegal for Romney to deny the certificates to gay couples. “No one fought harder to overturn the court’s gay marriage ruling than Mitt Romney,” (no first name identified) Fehrnstrom said in an e-mailed statement. “Until that day arrives, we are all required to follow the law, even though we may disagree with it.”

Two words for M. Fehrnstrom: Horse, Manure.

Let me refresh readers on this very succinctly, with some reordering and paraphrasing, from this previous BizzyBlog post.

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You see, under Massachusetts’s Constitution, court rulings aren’t “obeyed,” because they aren’t orders.

(Clarification, consistent with the 8PM update above“Court rulings (or opinions) are not ‘obeyed’ by the legislature or the governor (or, I would argue, the entire executive branch), because judges cannot order the two elected branches around. They are ‘orders’ when issued to private individuals or corporations — IF the court has jurisdiction.”)

This is not arguable.

In fact, under the Massachusetts Constitution, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) didn’t even have the jurisdiction to take the case, and violated THEIR oaths of office by doing so.

Again, this is not arguable.

Even the SJC, in its Goodridge ruling, acknowledged that it could only advise the state legislature to pass an enabling law within 180 days of its ruling.

The legislature didn’t pass a law, and has not done so to this day.

Enter Mitt “he promised to obey the court’s ruling” Romney.

Even though there was no “ruling” to obey, only a court opinion that the legislature had not enabled into law, Mitt Romney extra-constitutionally, and in direct violation of his oath of office, imposed same-sex marriage in the Bay State.

This is not arguable.

Yet this is a man who has now been endorsed for president by some of the alleged leading lights of conservatism, even of social conservatism.

This is madness. It must be stopped.

I understand that Romney gave a speech recently about his (insert name of his religion) faith.

Understand this. I don’t care that Mitt Romney is a (insert name of religion).

I don’t care about what Romney has said, in isolation. I do care about what Romney has done, in comparison to what he has said. What he has consciously, proactively, and cynically done to break the oath he swore to the people of Massachusetts, and before God, while pretending now to be a warrior against the very thing he put into place, makes him objectively unfit to serve as president.

Our country’s Founders would agree.

And that, folks, is also not arguable.

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There’s more.

The New York Times report by Michael Luo cited at the beginning of that same BizzyBlog post shows that Romney consciously kept a 2002 campaign promise to the Log Cabin Republicans to (in typical Times mischaracterization) “obey the courts’ ultimate ruling,” and considered that promise more important than the oath he swore in January 2003, when he was inaugurated as governor, to uphold and follow the Massachusetts Constitution.

So on the matter of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, we’re left with two choices:

  1. Mitt Romney believes what he is now saying about same-sex marriage, but is too weak and/or craven to fight the fights that will need to be fought on these and other issues. He’ll fold on anything if the courts say “boo,” or to keep a campaign promise.
  2. Mitt Romney does not believe what he is now saying about same-sex marraige, and will therefore fight the fights that will need to be fought for the other side, even if it means, as was the case in Massachusetts, directly breaking the law, violating his oath of office, and ignoring the constitution he has sworn before God to uphold.

Again, Unfit Mitt has a lot of explaining to do. He’s called Unfit Mitt around here because, again, I believe he can’t.

Memo to M. Fehrnstrom: Ask your boss whether, in this instance, he prefers Door Number 1, or Door Number 2. Those two choices appear to be the only ones available. Either answer makes Mitt Romney objectively unfit to serve as President of the United States.

*************

Now that it’s joined the fray, Team Thompson needs to extend its arguments to constitutional law.

Kevin Madden and M. Fehrnstrom have thrown you two hanging curves, folks. Knock ‘em out of the park already.

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Previous directly related posts:
- Nov. 26 — Index to “Romney, the Courts, and the Constitutions” series and “Cliff’s Notes” Explanation
- Nov. 21 — Part 1: Abortion Coverage in RomneyCare
- Nov. 21 — Part 2: Mitt Romney and Same-Sex Marriage
- Nov. 23 — Part 3: Various Excerpts, Statements, and Comments
- Nov. 24 — Part 4: What’s Beck Got to Do with It?
- Nov. 25 — Part 5: The Next President and the Courts

Kelo-New London Update: Media Ignores Yet Another Six-Month Delay

As I said two weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog):

As an exemplar of a government-run enterprise stuck in the mud, it’s hard to come with a better example than what is happening in the area that was the subject of the infamous Kelo v. New London ruling in 2005. Nearly 2-1/2 years after the US Supreme Court ruled that the city could evict Susette Kelo and other holdouts from their homes, and 17 months after the final settlement between the city and the final two holdouts, very little has been done in the affected area.

Make that “nearly three years” (New London Day link requires registration after a short time, and a paid subscription after that):

NLDC And Developer Agree To Terms On Fort Trumbull
Corcoran Jennison gets six months to come up with financing — or else

Corcoran Jennison and the New London Development Corp. struck a deal Monday that will put the developer on a strict timetable to find financing for and begin construction on a long-delayed project on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.

The new agreement, forged Monday, allows Corcoran Jennison six months — until May 29, 2008 — to secure financing for the construction of 66 luxury apartments and 14 townhouses on a 4-acre tract formerly occupied by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

If financing is arranged, it would allow a late June 2008 groundbreaking and completion of the housing project by Dec. 26, 2009 — the same date required had the company met the original financing deadline last month, NLDC President Michael Joplin said.

If it fails to come up with the money for the housing portion of the project, the developer would forfeit all rights to that housing as well as two office buildings and a hotel it planned to build without litigation and would allow the NLDC to seek another developer.

Once again, Elaine Stoll’s article fails to include the word “Kelo.” Is she trying to avoid the search engines, displaying civic pride by avoiding the mention of a shameful episode in the city’s history, or what? It seems that you would have to try pretty hard not to mention the project’s origins and checkered history.

As was the case two weeks ago, this latest deferral is being totally ignored by the non-local press. There is blog coverage at Say Anything and by Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy (aptly entitled, “If You Ever Build It, Maybe Some Economic Development Will Come”).

As least one commenter at Stoll’s article remembers (currently the second comment, posted 12/11/2007, 8:43:31 PM):

If you want my opinion, and a lot of people have indicated that they don’t, I think we should have left the neighborhood the way it was. At least we had some tax money coming in. And we wouldn’t have had to be embarrassed in front of the whole country including New Jersey! So this is what I figure-CJ will default because that will be cheaper than building what they’re supposed to build but will probably fail if they do.

I wish no ill on the City, the NLDC, or the developer. But I’m not going to bet that the financing will be arranged on time, or that the project, which involves putting housing and apartments on land condemned with the “permission” of the US. Supreme Court — land that used to have, uh, houses on it — will be completed this time next year. If that is the case, the New London debacle will serve as a “landmark” example (as if it isn’t already) of how misguided the Supreme Court’s “landmark” decision was.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE, Dec. 15: Chuck Potter writes in a letter to the editor –

The sad irony is that the homes of people of modest means were given to a corporation that now contends its means are too modest to do what it promised.

He also can’t bring himself to use the word “Kelo.” It must be the equivalent of a “four-letter word” in New London.

SOBer Thoughts (121407)

It has once again been too long since my last comprehensive cruise through what I believe is the largest single-state blog alliance in the nation. So let’s get started on what will only be a surface scratch at a rich treasure trove of content.

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Trakas v. Kucinich in OH-10. Trakas will announce on Saturday, noted at Big World Blog.

Related: Mark Naymik of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says, oh-so-objectively, “The Cuyahoga County Republican Party has found its sacrificial lamb in the 10th Congressional District.” Really? If Trakas plays the prolife betrayal card on Kucinich in what I believe is still a heavily Catholic district, I wouldn’t be too sure, Mark.

And somebody in Northeast Ohio has to start answering for how lousy its economy has been. It can’t be Bob Taft’s fault; Metro Columbus is getting along very well, and Metro Cincy is doing OK, if not great.

Kucinich may not be directly responsible, but what if anything has he done to stop the bleeding? It’s more likely that he’s voted against legislation — lots of it — that would have helped, and for legislation that has been or would have been harmful.

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Bearing Drift jumped on yesterday’s Sharpton-FBI-IRS story.

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Read Wizblog’sAn Accident and a Murder,” about the disparate news treatment two French crime death stories received. Don’t miss his related follow-up items.

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Maggie Thurber, on Ohio’s lack of competitiveness:

Ohio ranked 47th out of 50 states in terms of our overall ranking (1 was the best) and 49th in the Economic Performance Ranking, which was based on the state’s performance (equal-weighted average) in the three important performance variables highly influenced by state policy: personal income per capita (47th), absolute domestic migration (45th), and non-farm payroll employment (48th).

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s index to all 50 state reports (all PDFs) is here.

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Smoke If You Got ‘Em weighed in on Taxman Blog’s critique of yours truly and Nix over payday lending. Taxman responded.

My take is that there is something wrong with a business whose only reason for existing is to prey on the ignorant. At a minimum, payday lenders should be forced to treat their “fees” as interest, and be subject to Truth in Lending disclosures. The fact that they aren’t only aids and abets their predations.

Capping rates and fees, even if there is adequate disclosure, is probably necessary too. Sorry — I don’t think we can stand by and watch ignorant people get taken. And I definitely don’t want to be represented by someone who has made his career in a business whose only reason for existing, again, is to prey on the ignorant.

Taxman’s point about state lotteries is a good one, and I think that on balance we’d be better off without them. But on the mistaken public policy scale of 1-10, I think payday-lending laissez faire (which is essentially the situation in Ohio) is a 10, while the lotteries are a 3.

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Justin at Right on the Right covers yet another Hillary time warp.

A related blast from past from Snopes: “Claim (by Mrs. Clinton): I was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. False.”

A more comprehensive look at Mrs. Clinton’s history of estrangement from the truth is at Liberally Conservative.

Porkopolis wonders when Mrs. Clinton’s apology for calling General Petraeus a liar (“willing suspension of disbelief) is going to arrive.

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King’s Right Site has a story about Montel Williams that got less attention than it deserved. Mr. Williams would appear to need a halo adjustment.

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Nix is the only Guy I’m aware of noting that John and Elizabeth Edwards homeschool their two children. Given Edwards’s party’s beholdenness to the NEA, that may not be a minor matter.

Related, sort of: Return of the Conservatives notes that Heisman winner Tim Tebow, positively covered here yesterday, was homeschooled.

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Nasty, Brutish and Short has choice words on the “green shopping” movement.

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One Oar is paddling furiously against against the government education syndicate. As should we all.

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Pro Ecclesia caught Pennsylvania’s supposedly prolife, profamily senator Casey getting praise from the state’s Planned Parenthood chapter for his voting record — And thereby betraying his brave father’s legacy.

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As usual, the top three items at Central Ohioans Against Terrorism are strong doses of reality that should rattle the complacent.

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“Video: abortionist tells med students he lies to patients”at Brain Shavings. Read it. View it.

Update: A link is also at Life News, and here’s some visual reinforcement:

AbortDrLicenseToLie1207

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Boring Made Dull shows that Ohio Governor Strickland knows when not to cross the line (even when he’d personally like to). Barbara Sykes has no such political sense.

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And finally, Conservative UAW Guy just did something I wish I had gotten around tochronicling the “almost too much information” debunking globaloney and those who promote it. He barely scratched the surface of what I have.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (121407)

Well, I guess the “inevitable” recession, or the one that most of us apparently think is already happening, isn’t a nationwide phenomenon after all. Colorado has opted out:

Colorado shouldn’t slip into a recession next year even if the rest of the country does, predicted Richard Wobbekind, an economist with the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

“Continued, moderate growth is on tap for the state. Colorado will definitely not enter a recession,” Wobbekind told an audience gathered Monday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Denver for the 2008 Colorado Business Economic Outlook.

Yes, there’s a contrarian view in the article too.

But it does remind me of something: Colorado is the home of the first statewide TABOR (“Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights”). You don’t suppose there’s any relationship between the state’s relatively rosy outlook and the fact that it’s been strictly controlling its budgetary growth for about 15 years, do you?

Two years ago, I looked at how Colorado’s economy had done compared to the rest of the country, and compared to Ohio, after its TABOR passed. Answer: Vastly better that the rest of the US during the first 5 years, as good as the rest of the country during the next 7; and 2-3 times better than Ohio during virtually the entire 12-year time frame.

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Speaking of Ohio, I’m seeing warning signs in the latest Office of Budget and Management report (PDF). Through November 30, the first five months of the current fiscal year, General Fund state spending before account transfers is $188 million more than planned; tax revenues before transfers are $117 million lower. That’s a total of $305 million worse than expected.

That’s a lot. There may be revenue and/or expense timing issues that mitigate the situation, but it bears closer scrutiny. Isn’t anyone in Ohio’s Old Media available for digging into the detail?

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This would appear to be evidence that the Fred ’08 folks are feelin’ it going their way.

Update: So is this“Thompson slams Romney on $50 abortions in Mass.” It’s about time somebody went after this. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if Thompson’s initial way-back posture on Iowa’s unimportance wasn’t a big head fake.

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I’m really starting to think that Microsoft is holding the economy back, and that the company should start catching some grief for it. Here’s the latest evidence (bold is mine):

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is warning customers that the soon-to-be released service pack for its Windows Vista operating system won’t fix the application capability issues that have plagued the software since its release in January.

“Applications that have compatibility issues with Windows Vista today will most likely continue to have the same issues with Windows Vista with SP1,” Microsoft warns in a new whitepaper on Vista Service Pack 1.

This means that many more users than expected are stuck in XP. That may be comfortable, but it is definitely holding back tech-driven productivity increases at companies across the land. That is not good.

Positivity: Electrocution survivor loses limbs but wins hearts with spirit

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Minneapolis-St. Paul:

Last Updated: 12/7/2007 10:21:36 PM

Benjamin Ruiz put his new prosthetic arms to good use at his farewell party at Regions Hospital’s Burn Center, as television news crews crowded around him to capture the shot.

And while the sight of a young man in a cowboy hat feeding himself enchiladas, strawberries and cake may not strike some as a miracle it’s nothing short of miraculous for those who saved his life and watched him fight to hold onto it.

“He was probably one of our bigger miracles here,” Nancy Evans, one of Benjamin’s nurses, remarked.

“It just makes you feel like if you have a heart and your mind’s there and you’re strong-willed you can do anything.”

The 20-year-old dairy farm worker arrived at Regions in September after being electrocuted in a car accident on the way home from work near Osseo, Wisconsin. Rescuers couldn’t reach him in the wreckage for 40 minutes, until the electricity was cut to power lines on his vehicle.

“It was pretty nip and tuck for quite a long while,” Evans recalled, “He was on the ventilator, critical status.

The burns were so severe doctors had to remove both of Benjamin’s legs, and most of both arms to save his life. Even then the odds were far from in his favor.

“The chance of him surviving his injuries, between his burns and shocks was maybe one or two in a hundred,” Dr William Mohr told reporters.

That Benjamin could be burned so badly he lost four limbs and yet still have his mind intact is a medical mystery.

As Dr Mohr put it, “I’d love to be able to tell you I know why, but I’d be lying.”

Go here for the rest of the story.