Patterico's Pontifications


The Most Unbelievable Clip You’ll See All Week

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am

This is a must-watch: Democrat Senator Tom Carper defiantly saying that of course he’s not going to read the health care legislation, because everybody knows it’s incomprehensible. So why would you bother to read that gibberish when nobody can understand it anyway?

You think I’m exaggerating?

I don’t expect to actually read the legislative language, because reading the legislative language is among the more confusing things I’ve ever read in my life. . . . When you get into the legislative language, Sen. Conrad actually read some of it, several pages of it, the other day, and I don’t think anybody had a clue, including people who had served on this committee for decades, what he was talking about.

You have to laugh, to keep from crying:

This is Exhibit A in support of Beldar’s proposed amendment requiring legislators to read bills they vote on:

Every time I deal with a federal statute in the context of giving legal advice to a client — which is an utterly basic function of being a lawyer — I have to actually read and then understand the statute. My failure to do so would be malpractice per se — something absolutely indefensible, something never excusable under any circumstances. As soon as I admitted or it was otherwise proven that I didn’t read and understand the statute, the only question in a malpractice case would be the size of the damage award against me.

But if that’s an utterly basic function of being a lawyer who merely advises private clients on how the law may or may not apply, shouldn’t it be an even more basic function of a law-maker, a legislator, who creates the laws that apply to an entire country?

Seems pretty basic to me.

42 Responses to “The Most Unbelievable Clip You’ll See All Week”

  1. That quote is going up on my office door.

    Nobody can fail to be outraged by this. Surely politicians have fallen far, far below used car salesmen, door-to-door peddlers, even panhandlers in the public trust level by now.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  2. You must submit to the government, Patterico. Why are you wasting your time thinking that you should participate. These are the experts. Leave it to them. Just put on a song, Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds, and let your mind go.

    Alta Bob (e8af2b)

  3. Once again, this is a shell game. Fools think they can beat it. Wise men and women refuse to play. Anyone who votes for this thing, is either a fool or is trying to fool the others. When you don’t know who is the mark, you are.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  4. If this continues, it must be researched as to whether or not a legislative mal practice suit could be filed against those who vote for something, as a representative, which they have not read or understand. Seems to me they are laying the groundwork for a recall and voiding anything they voted for.

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III (57cae1)

  5. Well, God forbid that they should have to do their jobs or something. The public reads the bill; Congress refuses to read it, and they call us stupid!

    Rochf (ae9c58)

  6. How do these fucking people get elected??

    Dopey (a812c5)

  7. If the legislative language is so convoluted as to be incomprehensible, if it requires a TRANSLATED version to be created just for those who wrote the bill, why are we using the legislative language in the first place?

    Shouldn’t everything be in English (of course with Spanish, French, Russian, Creole, Arabic, and Klingon translations available)?

    Who’s up for a class action lawsuit? Citizens of the United States v. United States Congress.

    Stoutcat (27f923)

  8. I think it should take a 3/4ths vote of the membership for either the House or Senate to waive the final reading. Out loud. Yes, it would slow business and keep bills much shorter, but I’m having trouble finding the downside in that. If it is really important, make it short or muster the votes.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  9. Someone today, I think it might have been Mickey Kaus, said that we have the worst political class in history now. I have to agree. Neither party is looking competent.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  10. There could be some excellent campaign commercials stemming from this.

    JD (cc3aa7)

  11. BTW, I know you can get the CFRs online, but are all federal statutes available in a searchable database, online, for free? Can I search with Google?

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  12. To be fair, though, he makes a point: the bill’s language includes many editing directions, insertions and deletions. The final result of the legislative language incorporates parts of current law and new language. It is that which lawyers read, not the very technical “change-bar” version.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  13. I’d like to see clips of Obama in Copenhagen – after they just eliminated Chicago from consideration

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  14. Teh Won just got his ass kicked, quite publicly.

    JD (cc3aa7)

  15. Why would he vote for something when he doesn’t even know what’s in it? How does he know it’s even a health bill?

    Choey (3ba8b2)

  16. Here is a cardiologist-blogger’s report on her reading of HR 3200. Health Care Reform Bill Part 1: The positives. (Part 2 link follows Part 1).

    After 22 hours of blood, sweat and tears, I can finally answer “yes.” Just go ahead and ask: “Have you read HR 3200?” No one made me do it. In fact, no one even asked me to do it, but I felt compelled by the massive number of protests led by many who have never read it…I made a terrible misstep early on by reading a preliminary 600-page document I thought was the bill in question. I teared up from frustration when I realized I had 1018 more pages of the latest draft to go. With the same enthusiasm as a dead man walking, I reopened my laptop and backed into the corner of my big overstuffed couch…

    I have disagreements with Dr. Walton-Shirley as to what constitutes “good” and “bad” provisions of this monstrous (her word) bill. But she read it, and I’ll bet she could read the Senate’s text too.

    For shame, Sen. Carper. And your equally feckless but less-honest colleagues in the same boat.

    But then why should the elites care what a citizen thinks, when Electing a New People, i.e. massive illegal-immigrant amnesty, is already on the board for 2010.

    A. Mackay (c822c9)

  17. One would hope that next election that these statements are used against these “people”. May the anger out there continue and grow until next Nov.

    LYNNDH (8d8b19)

  18. Geez – when will they come up with the obvious!?! If these are soooo long and soooo difficult to read: Write simplier, shorter laws. Heck, go the extra step and remove most of the older (poorly and over-written) ones and make things easier for everyone: the public, the courts, business.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  19. How do these people get elected?

    They lie.
    They never admit that they won’t enforce immigration law. They never admit they vote as they are told. They never admit that they support socialism. They lie to get elected, take an oath to enforce the law then do what they get paid to do by their lobbists/unions and ingore their oath of office.

    Next question?

    tyree (119dcf)


    Sorry, but I’m loving this to the nth degree – and the vast majority of Chicagoans DID NOT WANT THE OLYMPICS, period! Almost everyone polled here over the last year hated the idea, and these were primarily democratic voters. Everyone’s sick to death of the corruption, the sleaze, the arrogance, the insider deals that would benefit only the politically – connected. Awesome news, really.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  21. Maybe this is Carper’s method of crying out for help. He’s obviously in over his head.

    Watch his eyes – is he blinking out TORTURE in morse code?

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  22. I esp liked his contention that, even for his so-called “plain english” version, he says that only most of his fellow Dems can understand most of it. And that he might even bother to read it himself!

    Get that? It’s still not dumbed down enough for them, by his own admission. Next up: Punch & Judy present the Healthcare bill.

    ras (20bd5b)

  23. Karl, if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll do a separate post on the Olympic thang. I read a rumor last night that the Brazilian ambassador to the Olympics had been secretely bragging that Rio had it in the bag, due to our extremely pissed – off allies like Britain, Germany and France, who had promised Brazil that they’d vote against the US to give Teh One a facial that he wouldn’t forget.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  24. Comment by Stoutcat — 10/2/2009 @ 8:09 am

    I think it is time to irrigate the “Tree of Liberty”!

    AD - RtR/OS! (3d0577)

  25. Re #11,

    Kevin, although it does not contain all federal statutes that are in effect, the United States Code contains most of the federal laws in effect. The U.S. Code is available free online. Here are a couple of places (I recommend the first):

    Tim K (b3d397)

  26. Are the people (lobbyists and staffers, I assume) who write such “incomprehensible gibberish” able to understand what they are writing?

    And when the legislation is passed there must be an elite force of bureaucrats who are able to understand the language so they can implement the law via publication of a multitude of new federal regulations.

    icr (304f90)

  27. Off topic…but I couldn’t resist another round of “Name That Party.”

    The Tragedy of Detroit.

    Patricia (c95a48)

  28. It is the gibberish that gives the bureaucrats cover to write regulations that do whatever they (the ‘crats) want, regardless of any “Congressional Intent”, since what they have written is completely indeciperable.
    95% of what comes out of Congress should face an automatic veto by a President who has more respect for the Constitution than a desire to “get along”.
    It would be nice if we could find such a person.

    AD - RtR/OS! (3d0577)

  29. Why, that’s just crazy talk!

    mojo (8096f2)

  30. I read it, my 8th grade boy read it. We understand it just fine. Thus they must be one of:
    1) Lazy and decided to not read it on purpose
    2) Obtuse and reflexively defensive making common arguments they have heard by others
    3) A group of politicians having a lower than 8th grade reading comprehension

    Either way I’m sorely disappointed in their performance. The health of our citizens and they can’t even put up a modicum of effort?

    Mike (97c6e4)

  31. A couple of things:

    1) At least he didn’t do the dash to the elevator a la Burris or Murtha.

    2) The follow-up question that was not asked: If there are indeed 2 ‘versions’ of each law (‘plain English’ and legalese), how are the discrepancies between each version applied when applying said law after passage?

    3) Who writes the ‘incomprehensible’ version and who translates it into ‘plain English’?

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  32. 3) Who writes the ‘incomprehensible’ version and who translates it into ‘plain English’?


    Patricia (c95a48)

  33. If he can’t understand the legislative language of bills, he’s too stupid to be a senator.

    Zoltan (9263e5)

  34. I actually agree with part of what the Senator said.

    The BILL’S language is quite different from the LAW’S language. The bill is mostly how you intend to change things (strike that, add this, change the other thing) and since it usually doesn’t include more than snippets of the target text it is incomprehensible by itself.

    The “translated” version is the law as it would read after all the changes. That’s what the Senator said he WOULD read, and that’s what lawyers get and read.

    So Beldar’s test is pretty much off target and the Senator is pretty much on target (if you ignore wanting to vote for this idiot bill in the first place).

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  35. Kevin,

    Writing legislation is what legislators do. If they don’t understand it or can’t get competent legal advisers to explain it to them, they shouldn’t be in that job.

    DRJ (b008f8)

  36. Not only should they be required to read the bill, they should be required to get 80% on a 10-question multiple-choice quiz on what the bill does.

    Socratease (01a423)

  37. […] reading at Paterico for additional commentary … The Most Unbelievable Clip You’ll See All Week Current […]

    Democrat Senator Tom Carper: of course he’s not going to read the health care legislation (aa5200)

  38. Ir’s not just this d-bag…. none of them read the bills or care. I loathe the federal government.

    Jenn of the Jungle (1bc2c5)

  39. […] The Most Unbelievable Clip You’ll See All Week Hell I believe it!  The dingbats we have in Congress couldn’t pour water out of a boot with directions on the heel. […]

    Today’s Tidbits (788229)

  40. Not positive, but KittyKat may be folding up her tent and moving on. Earlier I took note of one of her rants posted over at Marcia Clark’s Daily Beast column concerning Polanski’s change of plea hearing.

    Notice that her comment is now gone. I’m not sure whether the Beast allows commenters to remove their comments or whether someone else took it down.

    Or maybe she is just going to reopen under a new name.

    Calfed (c9fe79)

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