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Federalists

Defeat Trump’s NBC death penalty threat with this F word

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On Wednesday, Donald Trump appeared to threaten the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) over its “Fake News,” unveiling the weapon of government license revocation.

Now, it’s an open question whether Trump was even serious, whether he is trolling the nation and tweaking the news media establishment. We’ve speculated before — going back to the 2016 election season — that Trump might just be doing some extended reality show in which America has been an unknowing participant and “sold a farce.

Or is Trump indeed some sort of unhinged Chief Executive with no concept of the basic First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press, or the basic premise that the Constitution is a document which limits the power of the government. (Note: For the latter proposition, don’t use that linked government document; try this instead.)

The problem is that this isn’t the first time Trump, or advisors close to him, have threatened such excessive executive action. Last year, Trump’s (and former Nixon) advisor Roger Stone suggested Trump “turn off” CNN’s license.

The solution involves . . . the F word: federalism.


Coverage From Elsewhere

This Forbes article explains that the Federal Communications Commission generally just doesn’t get involved in matters involving content distributed by broadcasters.

The trouble with Trump’s tweet, though, is the Nixonian undertone. (Or worse.) Cue up the dark Halloween/haunted house/horror movie soundtrack. This is from the Washington Post.

And the Peacock Network’s coverage of itself is here. Can you find why Ben Sasse won’t be happy?


Background

As a practical matter, never mind a legal one or a moral one, the President cannot unilaterally revoke a network’s broadcasting license, but only the licenses of individual station operators. The President also cannot take unilateral actions because the Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency which is generally loathe to act on issues of content. While the President can appoint members and pressure it, even if the FCC were obedient, its actions are subject to a host of regulatory procedures including the federal Administrative Procedures Act.

You’re kidding me? This is Washington, folks. This means . . . litigation!

As for those individual stations, NBC owns 11, covering most of the top ten media markets including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington. That means that an attack.


Takeaway

Trump’s tweets, if taken literally and seriously, illustrate one type of danger of government power, even when it opposes another danger.

Trump’s danger is the spoken implication that government power can be used — today, by him — to dictate outcomes even when core constitutional rights are involved.

The greater danger may come from the federal bureaucracy, “where administration and regulation replace politics as the ordinary means of making policy.” Trump’s ill-considered eruptions threaten to set precedents, both legally or culturally, for far greater abuses, by people in the administrative state (or Dark State) with far greater access to covert power and possibly with far more Leftist and sinister motives.

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Federalists

The most important thing George H. W. Bush said is a lesson for today

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The most important thing George H. W. Bush said is a lesson for today

All Presidents have their share of great quotes. Speech writers are paid to spin words in a way that is catchy, intellectual, and understandable. President George H. W. Bush said many great things in his life, but none were as important for today as his perspective on government.

The only addition I would make is that true governance under the Constitution starts at the individual level. He may not have been the biggest proponent of limited-government federalism the way his predecessor was, but that doesn’t change the importance of his message.

“The heart of our government is not here in Washington, it’s in every county office, every town, every city across this land. Wherever the people of America are, that’s where the heart of our government is.”

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Federalists

What Stacey Abrams gets right about moving forward from the Georgia election

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What Stacey Abrams gets right about moving forward from the Georgia election

Democrat Stacey Abrams possesses some pretty radical political ideologies. I completely disagree with her far-leftist rhetoric or the agenda she hoped to bring to Georgia as governor. Republican Brian Kemp is the next governor, which even Abrams admits.

But she refuses to concede that she actually lose the election. She’s clear that Kemp is the governor-elect, but she falls just short of saying that his victory is illegitimate.

That’s all political theater. Here’s what she gets right. Georgia and many states need to clean up their election practices. Laws should be passed. Other laws should be removed. Ballot access for American citizens must be protected and the process must be made as easy as possible without jeopardizing accuracy or opening the doors to fraud.

Most importantly, this must be done through a combination of the legal system and the state legislature. At no point should she or anyone else try to turn this into a federal issue.

People on both sides of the political aisle seem to be leaning towards fixing election problems at the national level. This would be a huge mistake. The states must clean their own houses. The residents of the states must be the catalyst. Keep DC out of it.

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Federalists

Be careful about calling for more national election laws

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Be careful about calling for more national election laws

We’re starting to hear rumblings, mostly from Republicans, calling for national standardization of elections. It’s understandable that people are frustrated by what’s happening in Florida. Arizona and Georgia also have some questionable happenings. But it’s imperative as conservatives that we allow the states to fix the problems no matter how bad they may seem.

The biggest reason: the more the federal government gets involved in just about anything, the easier it will be for voter fraud, counting mishaps, and election official corruption to occur. Take, for example, calls ringing out again for national voter ID. Would it make it harder for non-citizens to vote? Perhaps. But it also runs the risk of catastrophic failure when we centralize and/or digitize the voting system itself. Not only will all of our eggs be in one basket that becomes a single point of failure, but it also slows the process of adjusting against threats. Sophisticated vote manipulators in or out of the country would love nothing more than a federalized voting system.

Taking away the states’ responsibility to administer their voting protocols takes away their accountability as well. Calls for centralization of nearly every other component of administration, from education to the environment to healthcare, has resulted in horrific results that greatly overshadowed the localized problems they were intended to fix.

Some states are having major problems with elections. These states must fix their problems. When the federal government gets involved in sweeping changes that force solutions for isolated cases on the rest of the country, more problems arise. The benefits are greatly outweighed by the detriments.

Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes is incompetent, corrupt, or both. She needs to be replaced and the voting process in Florida needs to be fixed. Let Broward County and Florida replace her and fix their voting process. It may be hard to have faith in the county and state, but do we really have more faith in Washington DC? Should we be calling for more centralized voting laws and protocols because of a few persons’ gross negligence?

No.

It’s frustrating when local officials can affect national elections, but that’s why people can vote them out and force reforms. Where it’s broken, let those states fix it. Bringing in a DC solution will give us DC results, and that’s almost never a good thing.

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