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Change.gov Uses Google Moderator System 436

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-should-call-it-pigg dept.
GMonkeyLouie writes "The website for President-elect Obama's transition team, Change.gov, has unveiled a section called Open for Questions, which lets users submit questions and vote them up or down, in an effort to let the collaborative mind produce the questions that are the most important to the American populace (or at least the web-savvy portion). The page is powered by Google Moderator. It was unveiled yesterday, and CNet reports that when they went to post last night, '159,890 had voted on 1,986 questions from 3,255 people.'"
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Change.gov Uses Google Moderator System

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  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:32PM (#26077225)
    The republic be damned. This is true democracy in action: decision-by-mob!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      It's interesting that you mention that. I think most people think the US wasn't founded with a direct democracy simply because it wasn't practically feasible. Now that it is (with technology), people think it'd be a far better system. They should take a Greek political history course or something.

      • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:46PM (#26077449) Homepage

        They should take a Greek political history course or something.
        Like perhaps read the federalist papers or the major philosphical works of the political scientists of the time the Constitution was written? This is madness!

      • by johnsonav (1098915) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:56PM (#26077651) Journal

        They should take a Greek political history course or something.

        They don't even have to go back that far. They can simply read The Federalist Papers, specifically Number 10. The founders were nice enough, not only to give us a pretty swell constitution, but also a well thought out defense of the principals it rests upon.

        But you really only need study the actual text of the constitution to find out what they thought about direct democracy: senators chosen by state legislators, the electoral college, and the conspicuous absence of a national vote on anything but amendments (and even then, only sometimes).

        • by gumbobear (1429441) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:38PM (#26078389)
          The Federalist Papers were, objectively speaking, propaganda pieces written to persuade the states to adopt the Constitution. This is not to disparage them, but it's just a reminder that they were not neutral analytical pieces, they were persuasive works.

          The structural mechanisms described were put in place for 2 reasons. First, because many viewed the federal government as a creation of the states (not from we the people). Second, it protects state sovereignty against federal encroachment. Thus the states could reign in a national government that some were afraid would be less representative of the people.

          That's why the Bill of Rights does not, by a strict textual analysis, apply to the states. See Barron v. Mayor of Baltimore (a seminal John Marshall caase). At the time, no one suspected that the states would, in time, become the main oppressors of freedom.

          But that's why Federalist 46 is interesting. Madison argues that the power of all governments, both state and national, originate from the people, and if in the future the people should choose to place their confidence in one or another, they should be empowered to do so.

          So contrary to the popular "wisdom," the founding fathers were not as hostile to democracy as people like to claim. The Federalists (Adams) were afraid, but the Democrats (Jefferson) were all for it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by johnsonav (1098915)

            The Federalist Papers were, objectively speaking, propaganda pieces written to persuade the states to adopt the Constitution. This is not to disparage them, but it's just a reminder that they were not neutral analytical pieces, they were persuasive works.

            Very true, and not often enough said. But I would gladly trade that caliber of propaganda for what passes for political discourse today. That politicians of that time could think and write at that depth, and be persuasive, me wonder where we, today, have gone so wrong.

            So contrary to the popular "wisdom," the founding fathers were not as hostile to democracy as people like to claim.

            I don't think they were hostile to democracy, only tyranny. Democracy protects us from the tyranny of the minority. Limits on democracy protect us from the tyranny of the majority. They were trying to craft a system which wouldn't tear itself

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by theaveng (1243528)

            Well for me the simplest argument against democracy (rule by 50% +1) is the thought that it ignores the rights of the minorities. They have the same right to free speech as the majority does, but the majority could use its democratic power to crush & silence the minority voice.

            This is why the United States and each individual State consist of a Republic (rule by laws). The Law can not be trumped with a simple vote. The Law is much harder to overturn, and slower, which helps protect the minority and t

          • by Garrett Fox (970174) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @05:06PM (#26081143) Homepage
            The Federalist Papers were written by the Federalist faction, to persuade people to accept the Constitution and quell fears that it would create a tyrannical central authority. At the time, one of the debates was over whether there should be "prior amendments" to explicitly limit the new government's power. Author "Publius" (Madison & Co.) argued that a bill of rights would actually be harmful, because it would get misinterpreted to mean that freedom of speech &c. are the only limits on federal power. To avoid that problem, the Bill of Rights then included the 10th Amendment. Even so, Publius was correct in that point.

            If you look at the documents by which the states ratified the Constitution, and the vote counts for them, you can see the suspicion that Americans had at the time against the Constitution. Several prominent Founders, including Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine, argued against the Constitution, and others such as William Randolph of Virginia saw it only as better than nothing, as "Union or no Union."

            Madison & Co. argued in the Federalist Papers (around #41) that the Anti-Federalist faction was being paranoid for predicting that such clauses as "general welfare" and "interstate commerce" would be perverted into general-purpose powers for the feds to do absolutely anything. As you note, the Bill of Rights was added specifically to make it clear that there are limits on federal power, and that the federal government would have no powers but those specifically granted to it. Several states in their ratifying documents echoed that statement and even added that they reserved the right to secede! Still, the idea that the Founders supported absolute democracy is not quite accurate, because of their decision to limit what the new government could do. If they had really trusted "the people" not to elect representatives who would violate their rights, then there would've been no need for any limits on government power. Eg. Jefferson: "It is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power."

            Later, the 14th Amendment did impose some explicit restrictions on the states such as due process. But that only happened after several states tried to exercise their right of secession and the central government demonstrated that the union was no longer a voluntary one.
      • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:29PM (#26078207)

        While it may be technically feasible to do a true democracy. It probably isn't a good idea.
        1. Public opinion can change on a whim. There is no way we can be fully knowledgeable on all laws that are going on, even keeping track of all the summary of the laws while keeping a full time job. So all we need is some activist group to play a commercial with scary music, and a guy with a deep ominous voice. Showing children being effected can change majority of public opinion, without having to give any good evidence.

        2. Protection of the minority. In some way were are all a minority in one area or an other. Lets say for example there was a some populous unpopular actions happening on slashdot, with some Evil Music commercials convinces the majority of the population that we as a group are all bad. Thus create laws against all slashdot users.

        3. Group intellect usually favors the strongest voices not the correct idea. The more people you put in to make decisions the more often the chance that good ideas will be left out. People are not natural leaders, it is something that needs to be worked on. If given up to nature most people will assume the person with the strongest voice is correct and their idea must be wrong because he sounds so sure about it.

        4. Corruption: People will tend to vote for what is best for them, not what is best for the country.

        While our system isn't perfect it really is an attempt to balance these problems.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @06:21PM (#26082497) Journal

          Representative government suffers from all those problems. Why do you think putting an imperfect human in between the people and their authority will mitigate instead of exacerbate those problems?

          1) Our representatives don't even read the legislation they vote on. I don't see how the public could be much worse.

          2) Same thing happens with representative government. See the War on Drugs for instance. In fact, representatives make this problem worse, they have incentive to seize on issues like this for political points.

          3) Representatives also favor the loudest voices (i.e. lobbyists).

          4) Corruption is an even bigger problem in representative government, since fewer people make the decisions, each of them has more power to abuse and more to gain by doing so.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by baffled (1034554)
            How is this +5 Insightful? It's obvious to me that funneling the decisions into the hands of a much smaller group of Representatives is the correct mode of action.

            The fault lies in how these Representatives are selected. Logic would dictate they need to be resistant to 1) popular opinion 2) discrimination 3) group-think 4) corruption.

            Now here is where the average citizen laughs off the idea of a politician meeting such criteria. Instead, we should be asking how best to select such people.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:46PM (#26077453) Journal

      The republic be damned. This is true democracy in action: decision-by-mob!

      Asking the mob any questions about Democratic Governor Blagojevich is a quick way to get modded into oblivion.

      Which reflects why decision-by-mob doesn't always make for the most informed discussion.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The republic be damned. This is true democracy in action: decision-by-mob!

      Well, the working definition of a democracy is "the majority rules". But stop and think how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that. Those people are the majority. I'm quite glad we live in a republic, where the stupid elect those who have demonstrated they at least have machiavellian intelligence. It's fortunate for all of us that one breed of intelligence usually includes others as well. -_

      • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:03PM (#26077765)

        But stop and think how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that.

        I'm not sure which is worse: the stupid people who are completely ignorant, or the smart people who think they know it all and act, unknowingly, half-cocked at best.

      • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:06PM (#26077795)

        I'm not convinced a republic is any better. We sit starry-eyed at the fact that the hoi polloi don't get to bludgeon us with whatever bigotry is currently fashionable, but the republic system produces oligarchy very easily with the resulting party systems. Rising up in the party requires in-party connections and orthodoxy and without it you can't succeed. Like weeds, the big parties prevent smaller parties from emerging and gaining prominence in the media.

        We do not live in a true democracy, so we can fault it as much as possible, while we live in a republic and tend to be more tolerant of its flaws. I say neither works. And, nothing works. I think we're screwed no matter what we do, and I don't recommend ANYTHING (or nothing)...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by johnsonav (1098915)

          I'm not convinced a republic is any better. ...but the republic system produces oligarchy very easily with the resulting party systems. ... Like weeds, the big parties prevent smaller parties from emerging and gaining prominence in the media.

          The reason why the two party system inadvertently evolved (the framers certainly didn't design it in on purpose) in the US is the winner-take-all nature of the electoral college. I always thought, if the founders could have changed anything in the constitution, with the benefit of hindsight, they would have changed that. They really didn't like political parties at all.

          Unfortunately, political action universally devolves into the ideological shorthand of a party system. I can't think of a modern republic wi

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Rycross (836649)

            Correct me if I am wrong.

            The winner-takes-all nature of the electoral college is not codified in the Constitution. What is, is that states elect electors in a manner of their choosing, and those electors then vote on the president. What makes this a winner-takes-all system is that most, if not all, states have mandated that the electors vote for the president that the people voted for.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by johnsonav (1098915)

              What makes this a winner-takes-all system is that most, if not all, states have mandated that the electors vote for the president that the people voted for.

              You're not wrong at all. Winner-take-all is not codified, but is an unintended consequence. The constitution only specifies that the state legislatures pick the electors. Its just tough to come up with a different system.

              If the legislatures themselves picked the electors without consulting the people, we'd be in the same situation. The majority party in each state legislature would pick electors from the same party. Winner-take-all.

              If the legislatures put the election of each elector to a general popular vo

      • by m4cph1sto (1110711) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:31PM (#26078251)

        I'm quite glad we live in a republic, where the stupid elect those who have demonstrated they at least have machiavellian intelligence. It's fortunate for all of us that one breed of intelligence usually includes others as well. -_-

        Does it really? This report begs to differ. Elected officials are actually dumber than the general public, at least when it comes to civic literacy: Elected Officials Score Lower than the General Public In Civic Literacy Test [americanci...teracy.org]

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Yup. Ain't it wonderful?

    • by Foofoobar (318279) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:11PM (#26077889)
      And they best be scared... look at what has already ranked pretty high... http://moderator.change.gov/?embed=http://change.gov/openforquestions#9/e=8&t=open+source [change.gov]
  • I've got a question? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by feepness (543479) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:33PM (#26077243) Homepage

    1,986 questions from 3,255 people

    Either a couple thousand people asked the exact same question or some questions are being "lost".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:37PM (#26077295)

    The website allows for greater transparency... or greater ability to bury unwanted/uncomfortable questions while seeming more transparent.

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1208/Blagojevich_questions_censored_on_Transition_site.html?showall [politico.com]

  • by larry bagina (561269) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:37PM (#26077299) Journal

    President-elect Barack Obama's Transition today launched "Open for Questions," a Digg-style feature allowing citizens to submit questions, and to vote on one another's questions, bringing favored inquiries to the top of the list.

    It was suggested when it launched that the tool would bring uncomfortable questions to the fore, but the results so far are the opposite: Obama's supporters appear to be using -- and abusing -- a tool allowing them to "flag" questions as "inappropriate" to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama's website.

    The Blagojevich questions -- many of them polite and reasonable -- can be found only by searching words in them, like "Blagojevich," which produces 35 questions missing from the main page of the site.

    "Given the current corruption charges involving Blagojevich, will 'serious' campaign finance reform that takes money completely out of politics through publicly funded elections be a priority in the first term?" asked Metteyya of Santa Cruz, California.

    "This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate," reads the text underneath it.
    Also removed as "inappropriate":

    "In light of the recent corruption scandals (Blagojevich, Rangel, Jefferson, Stevens, etc) that have dominated the political scene,is there any ethics legislation being crafted to actually curb corruption and prevent another wave of nixonian cynicism?", a question from "lupercal," of Gainesville.

    And: "Is Barack Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama's top aides?", a question from Phil from Pennsylvania.

    Declaring a question "inappropriate" is different from merely voting it down; it's calling foul on a question, not just disapproving of it.

    Community reporting systems like this are often vulnerable to abuse from committed partisans -- YouTube has wrestled with a parallel problem -- and the only solution is conscious efforts to remedy it.

    So far, Obama's team does not seem to have stepped in to allow uncomfortable questions to rise to the top, and instead is allowing his supporters to sanitize the site.

    link [politico.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xclr8r (658786)
      looks like it needs the /. meta moderation system.
    • Whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

      by furiousxgeorge (1273392) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:49PM (#26077527)
      I voted on a few questions just to see how it worked, I saw at least 10 Blagojevich questions out of the 50 I voted on. If the wingnuts are gonna spam stupid questions they should be deleted when there are real questions out there. There were also five or so birth certificate questions. The Republicans are probably not going to have good luck winning elections anytime soon unless they realize people don't care about this bullshit right now, we care about the war and the economy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thrillseeker (518224)
        ahh ... so people keep asking these "bullshit" questions, yet ... the people don't care about these questions?
        • Re:Whatever (Score:5, Informative)

          by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:23PM (#26078107)

          Some people care just like there are some people who insist the Earth is flat. The vast majority don't care about these questions because they see these people as crackpot, rightly or wrongly.

          For example the questions about his birth certificate are vast and intricate. However simple facts have proven them wrong, yet with every bit of proof, the doubters come up with another assertion that proves false. But they keep trying not because there is a conspiracy to keep Obama's birth a secret, but these people will never accept that he was elected President no matter the proof.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by evanbd (210358)
          If there is a question near the top that is like yours, you're more likely to see it and not submit a duplicate. If all the duplicates of your question are already modded to oblivion, and you don't see them, you're more likely to submit it because you think it hasn't been asked and needs to be. I would therefore expect a disproportionate number of nutjob questions -- and that therefore the number of questions on a subject should not be taken as an indication about the relative numbers of people interested
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LandDolphin (1202876)
        They should be left to be voted on. IF the people don't care about them, they don't get voted to the top.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by greg_barton (5551)

        The Republicans are probably not going to have good luck winning elections anytime soon unless they realize people don't care about this bullshit right now, we care about the war and the economy.

        No! That violin on the deck of the Titanic is out of tune, and it fucking pisses me off!!

    • by bugnuts (94678) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:57PM (#26077661) Journal

      It's not the moderator system per se that causes such abuses, but the abuse of it by people who are given power to mod. It doesn't take many abusive people to break most systems, and as slashdot has found out over the years, people generally prefer to mod down when they disagree, no matter how valid the response, more often than they like to mod up.

      Similarly, the "flag as inappropriate" tends to be abused due to an overblown sense of justice and being too powerful of a tool, with no penalty to use it. People generally want to censor those with different views, but they know it's generally wrong (IMHO) ... yet they can do it here anonymously. There isn't a good way to avoid abuses by such people, without allowing other abuses to happen (the purpose of the flag as inappropriate tool).

      Something that might make it better is to implement a penalty when clicking that "flag as inappropriate" link. It should harm the person's votes, or be somehow detrimental (e.g. could only be done once a day and would also remove all your other votes). People will still self-sacrifice to remove something that's grossly inappropriate such as racial comments.

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:02PM (#26077743)

      You know, it's stuff like this that reminds me that 9 time out of 10, the Slashdot moderation system actually gets it right. We all know it isn't perfect (and often it is the 1 time out of 10 that is the most important) but it ussually does reward people that are trying to add to the conversation. Meta-Moderation weeds out at least some who would abuse the system. And most importantly, it doesn't actually censor (as in romove) things that are not valued by the community at large.

      I think the key is that mod points are relatively rare (at least compared to most other sites). That way, when you get mod points you are more interested in bring good comments forward than you are in moving poor comments to the back. I've never understood why other sites don't use a similar system.

    • Declaring a question "inappropriate" is different from merely voting it down; it's calling foul on a question, not just disapproving of it.

      Depends on what the purpose of the site. If the purpose was to solicit questions about how the new administration should be run, ideas about how to run the federal government, questions about healthcare, the bailout, etc, then questions about possible corruption in the State of Illinois might be deemed inappropriate for this forum. Some questions like from lupercal ar

  • Obvious? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I.M.O.G. (811163) <spamisyummy@gmail.com> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:37PM (#26077301) Homepage

    I understand our past presidents have been old... But really. Was there no person in their cabinets close enough/savvy enough to make it clear that a platform by which to hear from their populace was good and useful?

    Giving the appearance of being interested in the ideas/concerns of the populace garners support. Even if they don't pay any attention to it, people will feel like they have a platform to communicate their ideas.

    • Was there no person in their cabinets close enough/savvy enough to make it clear that a platform by which to hear from their populace was good and useful?

      I think the web makes this a unique situation. Whenever a controversial bill is to be voted on, legislators and the president are inundated with letters, phone calls, and recently, emails. Now feedback can be given on a web forum, for all to see. Where once, when someone got pissed off and "wrote their congressman", it was a relatively private act between a citizen and his representative.

      Now that private act is public, and serves as an advertisement for even more feedback. I don't think there is anything pa

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:39PM (#26077325)

    This story should have been tagged "Whatcouldpossiblygowrong". I mean, a moderation system that lets useful ideas float to the top and useless ideas to the bottom is based on the rather naive concept that the people voting are educated and unbiased. On behalf of the few educated and unbiased people present, I'd like to add the following comment to this idea: buwhahahahahahahahahaha--!!!

    People don't vote their conscience, they vote their prejudices. I thought that would have been clear by now.

    • by debrain (29228)

      People don't vote their conscience, they vote their prejudices.

      That is an astute observation.

      I thought that would have been clear by now.

      I thought your first paragraph made clear why it isn't. ;)

    • by cowscows (103644) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:00PM (#26077713) Journal

      Uhhh, I get what you're trying to say, but in this context, my response is something along the lines of "So what?"

      Obama isn't asking for policy decisions and then promising to enact the ones that get the most votes. They're asking for questions, and having people rank the questions. While I'd certainly be more careful about taking advice from someone less educated, I don't see what's bad about encouraging them to ask questions.

      Will certain politically charged questions get strongly upvoted? Most certainly. Does that make this exercise worthless or somehow harmful? Hardly.

      People as a whole aren't as stupid as you think. Don't be so biased against uneducated individuals. They have as much a right to address the government with their grievances as you do.

    • by RyoShin (610051)

      The tiny flicker of hope in this case is that the unwashed masses are not going to use change.gov. Most of them don't even know it exists. Change.gov is more likely to be used by those who are at least quite interested in government, if not educated to some degree. It doesn't throw out any possibility for bad judgement, but it does make it less likely. The flip-side is that many of the questions may come from outside the country, which has both good and bad connotations.

      And then there are trolls. Imagine

    • "On behalf of the few educated and unbiased people present"

      this instantly tells me you are extremely biased. as for "educated", unless you are talking about the hard sciences, this word means "indoctrinated into the clique"

      everyone is biased. the intelligent person is always on the guard for the bias they have, and admit and accept they have some unidentified bias. in such a way, they form opinions that are about as unbiased as possible, by constantly being on guard against it

      meanwhile, someone who is convinced they are magically incapabable of bias, for whatever idiotic reason, is leading forth with their biases on full display for everyone, utterly blind to how biased they are

      that's you

      the problem with saying that everyone is prejudiced and this is a bad thing is that it requires some sort of magical, omnipotent adjudicator of bias and prejudice somewhere. no such person or magical machine exists. as such, yes, we are prejudiced and baised in small and large ways, and this is just the way it is, and the way it will always be, and no one can ever do anything about that, so you just accept it as a fact of life, and it is not a problem to fix, but simply a fact of life to get used to

      and, here's the real powe rof democracy: everyone's biases and prejudices balance out

      meawhile, this sort of aristocratic opinion that there is an "us" few who are unbiased and fit for rule and a "them" who are hopelessly prejudiced and unfit for democracy is about as UNDEMOCRATIC and fascist an attitude as possible

      you should try living in some place like china, where they know the common man is unfit, and only a speicla class of technocrats is fit for rule

  • Is anybody else having issues with the change.org site in Firefox? All it is displaying for me is a bunch of garblygook, but works fine in other browsers. This is the only site I have had this issue with.

  • Lots of Negativity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thyamine (531612) <thyamine@o f d ragons.com> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:52PM (#26077565) Homepage Journal
    I can understand the general feeling of negativity or at least pessimism regarding this, but I'd like to think that its a good step to see them continuing to embrace the web as a way to allow more people to reach them. Is it just a PR thing? Maybe. But with the questions being so 'out there' to everyone to see, I would think it allows people to call them out on more topics.

    Sort of a 'Hey, on your own website people are asking questions about stem cell research. What is your answer? Don't pretend you don't see it's the number three question.'
  • I am very skeptical that even the "Web-savvy" general population is able to correctly identify the most important issues facing humanity. Even so-called experts often can't properly place that emphasis. Take the Sierra Club, for instance: overpopulation is the 800-pound gorilla of environmental problems, yet they only give it lip service and then spend all their money dashing hither and thither fighting the myriad symptoms of that. It's really the 800-pound gorilla thrashing around that is causing all th

  • in some superior future, google moderator itself is our government

    what i mean by that is, the citizens govern themselves via internet technology that groups, edits, and resolves the important issues and what to do about them, no representational system needed

  • by Rycross (836649) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:30PM (#26078233)

    Kind-of off-topic, but I'm really stunned at how this shows that people just don't understand our government. I'm seeing so many questions that assume that the president has control over state and local government issues, should be doing things that should be handled by local governments, or assume that the president has legislative or judicial powers. Seriously.

    • by Garrett Fox (970174) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @05:23PM (#26081473) Homepage
      The reason is that people now believe that the federal government has authority over all things, and that the President is the one in charge of it, as opposed to, you know, presiding. Because of the massive power grab by Washington over the last century or so, it really does have the power to, say, allocate a few million dollars to fix a bus station in your town. Not the legal authority, but the power.

      It's not an Obama-specific problem. All Presidential candidates these days boast about how when they're elected, they'll create new spending programs and fund this and that, as though Congress weren't involved. It's also standard practice to use executive orders as stealth legislation. Did you know, for instance, that the US has been in a continuous state of national emergency [whitehouse.gov] since 1979 due to the Iran Hostage Crisis?

      By the way, as little as I like Obama, I don't see any problem with him using the Net to solicit opinions. At worst it'll be like the UK petition site where the Queen's subjects protest and get ignored.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:37PM (#26078369) Journal
    I was able to sign in with a Canadian postal code instead of a US Zip code. Finally, we non-USians can have our issues with the American government heard.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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