Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Anybody But These Guys: Our Broken System

Two weeks ago, Newt Gingrich was cruising toward the nomination. His poll numbers were soaring and his advantage over Romney was growing. He became the inevitable candidate, and that was depressing. But then people actually started listening to him. Now Newt’s lead has collapsed and he’s headed in the other direction. Of course, that doesn’t help with the depression because none of the others are any better. Something is wrong with our system and I blame the media.

First, let us dispatch Newt.

There have been lots of signs Newt was in trouble. For one thing, there was the baggage he never managed to unload. It followed him everywhere. Then, when he started making his positions known -- things like amnesty for illegals and regulating global warming -- his upward moment stopped dead. Soon the nastiness reappeared and the crazy talk, and people were wondering if the old Gingrich was back. In truth he never left.

And that’s been the problem with Newt. The more you know, the more you fear the guy. Newt as nominee shoots from the hip and says stupid, offensive things. He comes across as nasty and is unpalatable to the independents we will need to win the election -- not because he’s a conservative, but because he’s nasty. Newt as President is even scarier. Newt thinks government can be used to remake society so long as the right people are doing the remaking. This is wrong. And with Newt’s ego over principle approach, it’s too dangerous to let him anywhere near the presidency.

The polls are reflecting this. Indeed, the last Gallop poll shows this:
In twelve days, Newt has gone from a 15% lead over Romney to a statistical tie and falling. Some Newt people claim this is only the result of negative ads being run by Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, but those ads are only being shown in Iowa. The truth is, Newt is poison and conservatives know it.

But if Newt is poison, then Romney is white bread -- substance free and bland. He’s no conservative and even if he was, he wouldn’t have the fiber to act on those principles. The rest are even worse. . . idiots and clowns with no understanding of conservatism, no grasp of what America means, and no ability to lead.

How did we get to this point? There has never been a better moment in time to get a genuine conservative elected, and yet there isn’t one in the race. Instead, we have fools and weirdoes. . . conservative pretenders. Why?

I blame the MSM first and foremost. They have turned the election process into a game show designed to find the very people who should never be trusted with power. They seek to destroy, not reveal. They see the candidates as targets to be attacked with phony narratives and dirt dug up from lying sources and then critique their responses. They attack the candidates’ families and harass their friends and business partners. They have turned the primary system into a non-lethal version of The Running Man and no one but megalomaniac scum would subject themselves to that process.

And as if that weren’t enough, the MSM ensure that only those without integrity can win. Indeed, to prevail in this contest, you must be prepared to slander and liable all around you and absolutely must be willing to promise the unpromisable and declare soundbite solutions to the questions that have plagued mankind for millennia. In other words, only the liars and the fools can thrive in this environment.

What’s worse, conservatives are to blame for falling for this. They should know better, yet they go along with it. They lap up all the crap the MSM produces and some even gleefully join this witch-hunt process in the hopes of destroying the competition to help their preferred candidates. It’s like sports fan praying for penalties on the other team rather than excellence from their own.

Candidates should win this process, not be the last man standing!!!
It is despicable that burger companies wage their wars for customers with infinitely more integrity than our politicians handle the electoral process.


Sadly, I have no answer on how to fix this except to keep making the point and to hope that people listen. And maybe it’s time to consider serious electoral reform? Maybe it’s time to have all the primaries on one day to stop the endless horse race and pandering? Maybe it’s also time to let politicians sue the media for their tactics. . . no more reporting unsubstantiated rumors, no more stalking politicians’ kids? Maybe it’s also time to end the debates and replace them with interviews? Heck, even infomercials might be better.

What do you think?


Newt Gingrich said...

We need to subpoena members of the media who behave in such a radical and destructive manner, and if they continue to be defiant, have them arrested. And I think the American people understand this.

Newt's Friend Newt said...

And judges. We should have them dragged before me too. In fact, I should have the power to drag everyone before me. Call the US Marshals!

AndrewPrice said...

Uh, thanks Newts. You guys make a strong case for me continuing to believe as I do regarding you.

Ed said...

Interesting question Andrew! I think I like the idea of politicians being able to sue. That might actually force journalists to get better at their jobs again.

Ed said...

Also, I saw the House rejected the payroll tax. Any thoughts on that?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, Joel's suggestion of a brokered convention is looking better and better to me at this point. Maybe then we'd get a good dark horse candidate, who the media would only have a couple months to do a hatchet job on.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think I like that too. I know there are free speech questions, but free speech does not extent to lies against nonpublic figures, so why not expand it to cover public figures too? I honestly don't see the harm, because if a journalist has a real source, then they can't be sued. It would tighten up the system.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I don't know enough about how it would work, but I would be for anything that cleans the deck and gets up some qualified actual conservatives.

Unfortunately, the system really is stacked against something like that every happening.

Any thoughts on letting politicians sue journalists?

Unknown said...

Andrew: I'm getting seasick watching all the second-tier candidates bobbing up and down in the polls.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I don't have any real thoughts on it because it's all theater. It was only a two month suspension of the tax, it was done purely for show -- not economic ideas, and frankly, I don't think the public will notice either way.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Well put. It's like whack-a-mole in the primaries.

TJ said...

It really is depressing. My mother-in-law asked me last night who I might vote for and I said I don't know because I don't really like any of them.

Tennessee Jed said...

I would have fewer debates. Each candidate would be given a 10 minute opening statement on each policy question being discussed. Then all candidates would be given 5 minutes to critique the policy of the other candidates. Two policy issues per debate, and maybe 5 or 6 debates total.

The media should be charged with coming up with a summary chart that outlines a candidates positions on the key issues. Flip flop positions would be asterisked, and reader referred to a footnote page for analysis of the rationale behind the flop. Dream on

AndrewPrice said...

TJ, I feel the same way. And I know that whoever I vote for won't be anyone I really want, they will just be better than Obama.

I find this really depressing that a country of 310 million highly productive, creative and fantastic people, can't do better than we're doing -- on both sides of the spectrum. And I firmly blame the media for that because they've made this something no one reputable would want to do and they've rigged the game in favor of the very people we should never pick.

I just wish I knew how to fix this.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, At this point, I frankly would rather do away with the debates entirely because I think they encourage the wrong kind of thinking -- they turn this into verbal combat rather than the promotion of ideas.

I would rather see a series of 30 minute interviews on one topic each (e.g. today we discuss unemployment, next week we discuss Iran) so they get a chance to expand upon what they believe without having other candidate screaming in their ears and needing to come up with cool one-liners.

On the point about their beliefs, I'm shocked someone like National Review hasn't done that. They should absolutely have a voters guide with each candidate's positions on each issue. And if there is a blank, they should go ask. The fact they haven't tells me that NR isn't any more serious about these candidates than the rest of the MSM.

Ed said...

I also like the idea of a brokered convention because I see that as the only way we get someone we can support. Unfortunately, we're just as likely to end up with Jeb Bush.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Don't say that name! I do not want to hear about Jeb Bush.

But sadly, you're right. It would be great if they grabbed a Rubio or a Ryan, but the reality is they would grab a Jeb Bush or a Christie.

CrispyRice said...

I think you're completely right, Andrew. It's pitiful what passes for candidacies in this day and age. And no one in their right mind would subject themselves to it, meaning we will never again have people of character running for office.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, Newtmentum is out, Jebmentum is in!

I don't know how I feel about politicians sueing journalists. The reason I like it in theory is the reason it will never work in reality--it would mean the media has to watch what it says or fight back with everything it's got, and guess which option it will pick. As they say, "never go after the guy with the microphone."

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, That's the core of the problem -- the people who should be running aren't running because the system is set up to trash and destroy them. That leaves only the people who should never be given power as the possible candidates.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, In England, it's actually be rather effective -- though they've probably over done it a bit. I think the key is setting up a system that allows the media to issue opinions, but not pass along unsubstantiated rumors or sourceless "facts."



I will NOT vote for another Bush. No way... not how.

Ed said...

Andrew, So you haven't made up your mind about Jeb?

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I think libel and slander are libel and slander. Period. When it comes to politics, reporters enjoy double immunity--being media figures reporting on public figures--and that is highly unfair. While I believe that a higher standard for libel/slander must exist in such a situation, what we have now is basically a case of "the best liar wins," and sometimes the winner is the media.

Unfortunately, I don't know that it would make much difference. The media is fairly clever about pushing the message they want to without actually saying anything. Take the recent Cain event for example. No "reputable" member of the media actually accused him of sexual harassment or having an affair, and when you scrutinize, the "accusers" that they eventually brought forward never did either.

And yet tongues all over were set wagging about whether Cain was capable of such things and do we really want a man like that as president and it's Cain's fault that we in the media won't stop talking about it so he mustn't be capable anyway.


ScyFyterry said...

I like the idea of being able to sue journalists because that gets their sources out in the open and lets people see who they are. It also stops these smear campaigns.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Am I speaking Chinese?

I believe I've said before, NO MORE BUSHES! I'm done with the family.

In fact, I'm done with all dynasties. Run a relative of some other politician at your own peril, I won't vote for them.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

I would've liked to see Herman Cain go after his attackers--relentlessly. What would he have had to lose? (assuming there was no "there" there.) I would've given money to his "defense fund". It might have sent a message for the next time someone tried to destroy a candidate that way.

T-Rav said...

Ed, I think Andrew's saying he's open to the idea of a Jeb Bush candidacy, he just needs some convincing. Or that we're on the verge of driving him into insanity; but I prefer the optimistic view. :-D

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think it's a fair question how much it would help. Politico began with an anonymous accusation. They may have couched it in terms of "do we really know?" but it was enough to satisfy a libel/slander standard if they had done that to a non-public figure because whether they said it or not, the intent of their statement was clear -- to imply he did something.

Other media outlets then backed this up by reporting on what Politico was reporting. To me, that's the same thing because it was pure rumor at that point.

When the women came forward, fine, at that point the media would have been off the hook, but here's the thing.... they only came forward because they knew they could get away with it. In a libel/slander world, without any proof except their own word, they would be sued and lose. And frankly, their attorney should have been on the hook at that point as well for bringing a suit without evidence.

This would eventually affect the thinking of everyone in the food chain and would change the way they do business. The problem is that right now the media thinks it's immune to spread rumor just by saying "it's being reported that..." without any sense of proof. That's what needs to change. And making them liable unless they have a legitimate source will start that change -- especially as the sources themselves no longer see this as a great way to get a payday.

AndrewPrice said...

ScyFyTerry, I agree. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, I agree. On the one hand, he had nothing to lose by trying it. On the other hand, I think they were lying and I would have liked to see him take them down and prevent them from profiting from their lies. By letting them get away with it, he has set up future Republicans for the same treatment. In fact, I would expect this becomes standard treatment when they can't destroy a candidate in any other way in the future.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think you just pushed my blood pressure up 20 points. Arg.

Lips... (typing)


tryanmax said...

One thing that really irritates me is that we have a lib media that picks its candidate and pushes him with everything they have. Meanwhile, the so-called conservative media refuses to even say who they like under the auspices of not "endorsing" anyone.

The excuse is that GOP candidates need to promote themselves "like Reagan did." The problem with that thinking is that, rather than promote candidates who espouse conservatism, the conservative media spends just as much time trashing GOP candidates as the legacy media.

I guess what I am saying is that it is easier to bring problems but harder to bring solutions. If I have one problem with conservative media, it is that they've taken the easy route too much.

The Bush Family said...

Come vote for us, Andrew.

Come vote for us....


And ever....

And ever.

Ed said...

T-Rav, I think you're right, I think Andrew is strongly considering endorsing Jeb Bush. I'm surprised.

AndrewPrice said...

Ow... my mind.

AndrewPrice said...

Dear Bushes,

I'm sure you're a perfectly nice family. But I do not vote for dynasties and I do not vote for RINOs. And I will not believe the sudden claims that Jeb is really the conservative one in the family.


Go rule Russia or something.

AndrewPrice, Registered Voter

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I have to admit I don't know what constitutes enough proof to establish a libel/slander case. I'll have to defer to you because I've always been told it is almost impossibly difficult, especially if one is a public figure.

In any case, whether one wants to make a distinction between public and private figures, I would say that political candidates are on equal footing with media personalities in that regard, so they should definitely be allowed to sue.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. I think the conservative media is doing this all wrong. They should investigate these candidates and then present the conservative public with the pros and cons of each.

Instead, they pick a favorite or two and then set about trashing the rest. Then they let the MSM lead them around by the nose from fake scandal to fake scandal, always playing right into the liberal narrative.

There was a time that places like National Review truly were an independent voice for conservatism. They cared about the ideology first and foremost and they spoke the truth about everyone they ran across.

But those days are gone. Instead, the conservative media with a few minor exceptions has become as brain-dead and insipid as the MSM.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed... grrr.

tryanmax said...

I also like the idea of interviews in place of debates. I actually felt like I learned a lot about Cain from that interview where they extracted the Libya question from. If Fox/Faux News really wanted to set themselves apart from the other networks, they would conduct those interviews (because I doubt the other networks would be keen to do that for GOP candidates).

T-Rav said...

Andrew, if it'll help take the pressure off your brain, I just read this afternoon that Santorum has broken into double digits into Iowa, and a lot of people think he could surprise everyone by winning the state a la Huckabee in '08. Does that help?

tryanmax said...

I also like the idea of all the primaries on one day because, as I've often lamented before, by the time Nebraska's primary comes around it's pretty much pointless. I sure would like my state and others like it to actually be a part of the process.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It's a different standard for public and private persons. For private persons, it's just saying something or implying something that is untrue and harmful to a reputation.... this can include opinion if it's stated in such a way to sound like you're being factual.

For public figures, it's basically knowingly telling a harmful lie.

Both are very difficult to prove and libel against a public figure is virtually impossible.

In Britain, the law is much more favorable to the individual being slandered. They've gone a little overboard, but all in all, it has proven to be effective.

tryanmax said...

The last thing we need is someone named "Jeb" entering a race already dominated by people with funny names like "Mitt" or "Newt" or "Rick."

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree, I thought that was a very good interview. Also, that's a more natural format for hearing someone's thoughts because there's less theater.

I agree about Fox. If they wanted to set themselves apart as a genuine friend of conservatism or even just as quality journalists, they should arrange such interviews. But then, they are entertainers first and foremost and they prefer feuding and Jerry-Springer-like shows to actual informative shows.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Are you trying to kill me today?

Actually, I'm not surprised, Iowa is full of idiots.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I like the idea of either all on one day or doing them all in three groups. Either system would work for me. But this state by state stuff just opens the door to pandering and deception. Basically, they paint themselves differently each week as new states pop up.

I think a one time shot would go a long way to making each individual state less important. And since Iowa and New Hampshire are two of the least representative states, that would help us a lot.

T-Rav said...

Don't worry, Andrew, I'm trying to deflect my own depression by tweaking others. If it helps, you can get back at me by singing Ron Paul's praises.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I know. Whatever happened to the real names like Kermit, Wendle and LaShawn?

AndrewPrice said...

You're a very cruel man, Mr. Rav.

I will say this for Paul, he doesn't scare me as much as he used to. But that's not a compliment, that's just a statement of how bad things have gotten.

DUQ said...

Looks like I missed all the fun! Were you guys trying to kill Andrew?

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I believe that was the intent, yes.

Doc Whoa said...

Excellent analysis Andrew and I like the idea of suing journolists, though I agree it probably wouldn't have helped Cain.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Doc. I'm not certain it wouldn't have helped Cain. What the media did was blatant slander and I don't think they would have had the nerve to do that if they could have been sued -- even with a source hidden in the background.

In effect, they would have been limited to only reporting what she actually said and that would have wiped out 90% of the coverage.

Russia said...

Don't send Bushes here. We already have glorious leader Putin!

AndrewPrice said...

Dear Russia, I'll trade you Obama for Putin?

Individualist said...


The probelm becomes in the end that try asw you might you cannot regulate integrity.

I see it with my job. I am an Internal Auditor. Before Sarbannes Oxley we did operationally based audits and there was a standard that an auditor must report everything that he has found.

After the bill thje job was politicized. Under the guise of enforcing the Executives to maintain proper internal controls the audits became compliance based and everything we do is scrutinized bu external audit for potential liability.

This has had two effects in my opinion. One it has made the consideration of what is "material to the financial statements" the highlight of controls audits. Prior to this we worried about reporting internal controls weaknesses and working with managment to correct them. Now even in audit there is the drive to analyze if "we should really be looking at it" before we audit it.

The second is that the audits have become even more cagey. Now management seems to spend a great deal of time avoiding audit issues that before with an operational audit designed to find improvements they never would.

We intend to regulate integrity and what we find is that this is impossible. With today's politics we have moved the government into much of our lives. We have allowed them to micromanage environmental issues, the banking system, our schools, and everthing else. We have granted this control to the government under the guise of correcting moral ineptitude. But as Jovenal says (which thanks to Lawhawk I know) "Who will guard the guardians".

The power centralizes in the politicians and bureaucrats and people react out of two goals. One is to avoid being sued and the other is crossing red tape. The Politiican becomes powerful as the arbiter of what is justice. The politicization means that getting elected can grant you and the cronies that back you a great deal of power. So the incentive to do what you are talking about Andrew is increased.

This is the problem. Until we can finally remove Washington's power the situation will never change.

So how do you put the Genie back in the bottle? I don't know.

Just my thoughts.. I have no answers really

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I know exactly what you are talking about regarding the audits and I've heard that a lot that SarbOx just made everyone more careful to see nothing. In fact, I've seen some audit reports where the auditors even disclaim their own math. It makes you wonder why anyone even bothers hiring auditors anymore?

And I think your point is right that you really can't ever legislate a way to make people do the right thing. BUT I think you can change small rules to let people change the world for you. I think letting journalists be sued is one of those because we don't need to pass a rule of behavior, that will happen as they get themselves sued and a natural rule will develop.

In any event, I think you're right that the real problem starts with there being too much power in Washington and they are primarily concerned with maintaining that power, not with doing things right.

And while I don't believe in vast conspiracies, I do believe in an alignment of interests and I think that's what we have going on -- we have a system of people (journalists, Republicans, Democrats, bureaucrats, lobbyists, big business, etc.) who all have an interest in keeping the current system just as it is.

Unless that changes, nothing will change.

Sadly, I don't know how to change that either.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, what are the differences b/w American and British law?

It's probably worth noting how the 24/hr news cycle compounded the problem. I remember when I was a kid and the 24/hr news station was in it's infancy. (CNN beat me into the world by 27 days.)

Back then, the Cain story on the evening news would have been limited to two or three sentences outlining the hard facts and boom, moving on... Back then, CNN basically looped an evening-news style program most of the day so, yeah, it would have been repeated every hour. But there wouldn't be endless commentary and there certainly weren't dozens of "conservative" radio hosts preemptively abandoning him.

Patriot said...

There is an answer to all this and it feels like we are getting to the point of no return where all it will take is the administration to have one more blatant abuse of power like F&F, Solyndra payoffs, "stimulus" billions to unions, etc.., before the bitter clingers take matters into their own hands. As someone whose ancestors came over on the 3rd boat to the New World, fought in the Revolution and was one of the firstEuropean settlers in California, this shit is reallybstarting to piss me off...and many, many of my contemporaries too. We have faithfully played by the rules for years (generations) and are fed up with how intrusive and corrupt government has become.

Now we come to find out that congress critters can enrich themselves by trading on confidential information they hear in testimony?! We have gone terribly wrong in this country and the people need to rid themselves of tyrants once again.

We are getting closer and closer to the people rising up and fertilizing the tree of liberty once again.

You're damn right I'm pissed.....and I bet there are millions more like me.

Government "leaders" won't like American Patriots when we're pissed off!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The difference is this. In the US, the statement must be provably false (plus the other requirements). Thus, e.g., if I say "Dr. tryanmax has killed five people" and you haven't, then that's slander. But in the UK, the law includes unsupported criticism. Thus, for example, if I say "Dr. tryanmax is a quack" or "alternative medicine doesn't work," then I can be sued for libel/slander in the UK.

In other words, whereas the US requires a statement of provable fact, the UK requires only an unsupported assertion that is harmful.

That works out to a be a very big difference.

Yeah, I think the 24 hours news cycle really has made this a million times worse. Not only does this stuff get blown way out of proportion, but the need to fill their air time drives them further and further into the really bad stuff.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, Welcome. And thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I honestly can't disagree with you. I think the establishment is playing a much more dangerous game than they realize. They have driven this country into the ground, jammed the government in all of our faces, and used the government to rob us blind. And then they offer us false choices and lie to us like we're idiots.

I suspect all those people who consider themselves Tea Party people are not going to be as calm as they have been if things don't begin to change. And if that happens, the establishment is in for a shock because political power can't save you when the people turn on you.

Patriot said...

.....Or am I just being hyperbolic? Should I just sit back and enjoy what freedoms we still have and let my grandkids deal with this corrupt government?

I like the way you regular guys think....and write on this site, so I look forward to hearing whether or not we are at the point where the citizens need to toss the bums out and start all over.

As a thought experiment.......can Arizona secede from the Union? They were a territory until just recently...historically speaking.....so if they see no benefits to staying a state in the Union, can they remove themselves voluntarily?

Patriot said...

.....or is statehood a death pact with our federal government and they must lose any sovereignty(sp?) they had once they signed up with Uncle Sugar?

tryanmax said...

I wonder what a middle ground between the US and UK standards might be. It does seem a little loosey-goosey to me, but definitely worth while to edge in that direction.

Peter from Ireland said...

"The Good Lord says I'll make it out okay.....but you're f'ed"

T-Rav said...

Patriot, it would be difficult for me to gauge the political temperature at the moment, so I won't try. As to whether Arizona can secede from the Union, I subscribe to the position that they "can," but it is extremely inadvisable as a practical matter--as proven between 1861 and 1865.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I don't see seceding as a realistic possibility.

The first thing you have to remember is that the vast majority of the public simply wants peace and quiet. That's human nature and has been true all over the world throughout time -- most people want no problems and won't agree to anything radical. So things like changing the constitution or a state seceding just aren't going to happen.

Secondly, there's no reason for people to even try something like that until it's obvious things have reached the point of no return.

Another Great Depression would probably do it. But the government just being more and more intrusive won't.

It's like Walter Williams always said, if you're going to boil a frog you have to turn the water up gradually. That's what's going on now.

That said, what to do about it is an interesting question. Right now, I think Tea Party people are working on the assumption that they will co-opt the Republican Party and then force change on DC. They may. If they don't, then I don't honestly know what they do next and I can't predict what they will do until we see how events transpire.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, In terms of a middle ground, the first thing we need to change is to eliminate the protection given to people who slander public figures.

In the US, you can basically say anything about a public figure unless they can prove you knew it wasn't true. That's the crack in which journalists hide right now. All they need is one person to make a suggestion and then suddenly the whole MSM is reporting "that a claim has been made that..." or "others are reporting that..." Basically, they get to report the thing as true while technically only reporting that someone has said it. That's where the mud gets slung.

If they had to comply with the same rules for non-public figures, then they would need to be prepared to back up their assertion with a genuine belief that the facts they were repeating were true.

That's what old school journalists and editors used to require -- check your sources, keep digging. It's only become in the past decade or so that they now routinely report unsubstantiated rumors. Then they toss those into the grinder and let all the news/talk shows play out the possibilities as if the whole thing was true and suddenly they have created a story from whole cloth.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, As a practical matter it would be a disaster. The states are so entwined with each other and so dependent on the Feds that breaking away would be an immediate disaster. What do you do about all the people who rely on Federal checks? What do you when a border gets thrown up and Arizonans can't go to neighboring states anymore? And that's before the question of whether Uncle Sam would even let you go.

tryanmax said...

Patriot, all I know is that is a topic of great contention. To the best of my understanding, the Constitution (understandably) doesn't address the issue beyond saying that no state shall lose representation in Congress except if it wants to. The implication is that it's allowable.

Of course, that was written with an understanding of a Federal government largely lacking in power as compared to the States. Under those circumstances, if a State just stopped showing up to Congress, there wasn't much else to it. Now the Fed has a large amount of power over the States, so I have no clue what the logistics would actually be.

That said, I just pulled out my pocket Constitution and this caught my eye:

Article. IV.
Section. 4.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government...

There are a number of arguments to be made that the United States has not upheld the guarantee. I shan't name any let alone discuss their merits, but I'm sure each of us can think of one or two.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's about how I feel. I think that those who advocate secession are on more or less sound footing in doing so, constitutionally speaking; at the same time, for the general good, I would feel bound to vote against them in any election.

I think some states could get away with it more than others. Alaska (and maybe Texas) could secede without an overwhelming amount of difficulty; California, Illinois, and one or two others can never do so. That said, it would be fun watching them try to be independent and then self-destructing.

tryanmax said...

That's the chink I was talking about when I said that reporters are double-protected and it needs to go. If an understanding could be developed that repeated repetition of a claim does not add distance from the claim, that would go a long way toward fixing.

In other words if Paper X reports a claim, and Paper Y reports that Paper X reported a claim, it should be as though Paper Y reported the claim itself. And even if Paper A reports that Paper B reported that Paper C reported a claim, they should all be considered equally near the claim since, presumably, they all have equal ability to investigate the claim.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The issue hasn't been legally decided, though I suspect there is a chance it will be in our lifetime. And no, I'm not thinking about Texas or Arizona. I'm thinking either:

1. A state like California tries to break in half, or
2. Hawaii tries to leave the union.

My guess is that it will be allowed if Congress approves it. But that's pure guesswork on my part.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I doubt Texas could do it. For all its size, it is still heavily reliant on the Feds. Also, keep in mind, all states are stuck with about 50% of their populations relying on federal money.

The states that I think could do it if pressed would be Hawaii and Vermont -- which could join Canada. The rest I suspect simply couldn't pull it off even if their populations wanted to.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, There's a New York Times case which actually held that very thing -- that you aren't protected just by claiming you were only repeating what other people already said. But it's never been followed. Basically, it's one of those rulings that is the law but gets ignored.

All in all, this is something I would genuinely like to see some politician slide into a bill somewhere.

tryanmax said...

Article IV. Section 3. expressly forbids California from splitting. However, we wouldn't have West by God Virginia if that had been strictly upheld. It's a puzzler. But I see no issue with Hawaii summarily seceding if they are willing to forgo Federal dollars. (And who knows how long those will be significant?)

AndrewPrice said...

The thing about Hawaii is I'll bet you they get to keep the federal dollars. What would happen would be that we would start paying rent on all the land "we" own in Hawaii. Last I heard, the Feds own 97% of all land in Hawaii.

Then they would get rent from the military bases and probably reparations for having been forced into our horrible union in the first place.

They'll make out like bandits.

On West BG Virginia, while the whole thing was illegal, I have no doubt Virginia isn't hankering to get the place back.

T-Rav said...

Regarding our dissatisfaction with the current jokers, I mean candidates, here's an interesting article from Michael Medved about how likely a brokered convention is and how it might turn out:


AndrewPrice said...

Thanks for the link T-Rav! I'll check it out soon. I'm trying to finish an article for tomorrow at the moment.

Here's the link: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Interesting article. He seems to think it would end up with Romney/Perry or Romney/Christie. Oh joy.

Notawonk said...

Primaries on one day, just like elections: i'm in.

most americans are sick to death of this ridiculous system. it's wearing and nauseating.

or maybe we should just go to cage fights. hell, we're almost there anyway.

Joel Farnham said...

I think that when an unsubstantiated rumor shows up, automatically a count-down should be started. The media have five days to research it and verify it or repudiate it. The consequences are that they can get sued to their eyeballs. If it still is true but missed the deadline, they can still be sued up to their necks.

Every time a reporter mentions it after it is repudiated, the reporter has to pay $5000 to the person for each instance. If the reporter mentions the rumor five times in five minutes, even if he states that it was an unsubstantiated rumor, he owes the person or company, $25,000.

I don't know the consequences, but I do know, reporters won't report things just to report. They will substantiate them first.

tryanmax said...

Joel, the only thing I have to say against that is that most of the "rumors" that the media starts have been brewing for weeks, months, in some cases years before they "break." So I say the deadline is the same moment the story goes out.

As it relates to the Cain thing, one of the criticisms against him was that the media contacted him several days before they broke the story and why wasn't he better prepared to refute it when he knew it was coming? Nevermind that from Cain's perspective there was nothing to refute.

Something also needs to be done about speculative reporting. You know, the whole "if it's true" style of news. I realize that is the bread and butter of commentary, but if reporters want to maintain the protections they have as reporters, then they need to steer clear of commentary rather than blurring the distinction. Bottom line, people can still do whatever they want, but there are risks associated with certain behaviors that aren't with others. You know, like life.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, Cage fights are the next phase the way things are going.

I go back and forth on the pros and cons of doing the primaries on one day, but in the end I think it would be worth it to prevent the kind of state by state pandering that goes on right now.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I would rather just make them libel even repeating it the first time, not give them five days to try to find evidence. I think the moment they say it, the target should be able to sue and if the reporter can't prove it's truth, then the reporter should be subject to the full harm the target suffers.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The other problem with the contacting issue is that they've changed what they consider contact. In the past, when they had editors, they were required to contact the source and get a response. To do that, they also had to tell them what they were going to report.

None of that is true now. Now they do things like call the guy's office at 2:00 am and then write "did not immediately return our call" when they publish -- even if they've been working on the story for months.

And many times all they say is something like what they did with Cain... "we have a story about you harassing someone, tell us what you did." That's a legitimate journalism, that's rumor mongering and trap baiting.

In the Cain instance, Politico would have been in trouble for several things if Cain could have sued them. In particular, they suggested 4-5 women when there were only 2, they suggested all kinds of bad conduct when all the one has ever said is "undefined harassment" and the other obviously can't prove her claims.

Ed said...

tryanmax, That is an excellent point that people criticized Cain for not being prepared to handle this, but he had no idea what was coming. That's essentially an assumption of guilt, that he should have known what he did and been prepared to defend it. How can you know what you did when you didn't do anything and what you're being accused of is being made up?

tryanmax said...

Not to mention that once it got around that the rumors were just that, the media then piled on Cain for not being able to (somehow) make them stop rumor-mongering. But quite literally, there was noting he could due. A modern-day trial by ordeal.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with Andrew that somehow this needs to change. (And I already agreed in the first place!)

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, good point about the assumption of guilt. I think that's right because it's implicit in the idea that he should have "defused this" that he would have needed to know exactly what was coming... which means they assumed he was guilty.

Koshcat said...

I will say this, Romney has been incredibly consistent and essentially unfazed by all the ruckus around him. I could live with Romney and he is certainly a better candidate than McCain ever was. Independents may like the idea of a Romney presidency as well sort of as a counter-balance to congress. I think many of them want to vote more republicans into both the House and Senate, but worry that when they get there, it will turn into right wing circus focusing more on gays and abortion and not the economy. With Romney, someone like Ryan will stand out and shine.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want Romney because he is "electable". But I am warming up to him as he doesn't have the weird baggage (LDS aside) these other yahoos have and at this point is the pragmatic choice. He also has weathered through a lot of crap and still standing firm.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Glad to hear it. I'm not a fan of restricted free speech but I do draw a line at fraud or falsehood. And I think what the MSM has done here is give themselves immunity from telling lies and using those lies to destroy people they don't like. Seriously, look at what they did with Cain:

1. Start with rumor of "harassment claim" without ever explaining who made the charge or what the charge even was.

2. Then blast Cain for not explaining this ephemeral rumor and thereby turn the rumor into truth.

3. Blast Cain both for his crime (still undefined) and his response.

4. Use the fact that "people are talking about it" as proof of its relevance, its importance, its truthfulness, and Cain's failure to handle the situation.

Every step along the way is pure media generated smear, and worse, they used the very fact they were smearing him to attack him.

And he's not alone. They did the same thing with Palin. Think back on the dozens of fake rumors used against her and how the MSM ran with each once and followed the exact same pattern above.

This has become a blueprint for MSM generated character assassination.

Letting candidates sue the media is the only way I see to get them back under control because the risk of losing lots of money will make people think twice. Nothing else will change the MSM.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, I'm actually warming to Romney too.

What is selling me is that I think Romney is a guy who puts his finger into the wind to decide how to act (like Clinton). And with the winds blowing strongly conservative, I think he will end up being an effective administrator who will willingly let himself be pushed right by the Congress and public.

The others worry me because they are too erratic. Newt, for example, has some good conservative ideas, but he's also got a lot of really bad non-conservative ideas. And I think Newt will do whatever he wants. I think that's a potential disaster. The others, I don't even know what they really want. The only thing they're clear on is how much they hate gays.

I agree with you too about the problem independents have with Republicans. I know a large number of independents and they are very much turned off that the Republicans always go right back to gays and abortion and knee-jerk opposition to all environmentalism at the first chance.

I think Romney will help detoxify that because he doesn't foam at the mouth about these issues.

Individualist said...


I guess the probelm I have is understanding why the MSM cannot be sued for their reporting. If it is liable.

The problem I see is that it is not just a legal issue. Let us take Cain for example. These Axelrod Bimbos have made statements that it appears they cannot substantiate. Can Cain go after them for their statements. Could Cain go after Axelrod if he knowingly helped them.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that although the media might have some indemnity that these people do not. Cain would be publicly escoriated for attacking people he victimized when they came forth. It certainly would not help him get elected and if he can't prove they are lying might not even be successful in court.

His best shot would be to explain to the media that he does not want damages in money but specific performance. He wants a public statement by these people stating the truth and their involvement. Then even if he loses the trial he can use the fact finding to declare his innocense. Even then though the same media will ignore the trial results or talk soin around it. So what does he win.

These women are losers by definition and have no money so unless he can implicate that players like Axelrod and that liberal hack attorney (Gloria something) in wrongdoing there is no one to sue.

Going after the media is one thing but it must not be abused. You could easily set up a situation where no one would report anything because of frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately I don't trust the courts of today. I have seen too much crap.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I'm actually concerned far beyond Cain because he's just the latest.

But to answer your question, what you say is problematic.

1. The media doesn't have immunity, what they have is that the law says that public figures are subject to a lower standard than private persons. In other words, the rules are much looser when going after a celebrity than when going after an unknown.

2. Cain can sue these women, but he has 0% chance of winning because it will come down to her word versus his, which is a draw. He might be able to prevail because the burden would be on her to support her statements, but it would be a really hard sell to the jury once her boyfriend says "she told me what happened at the time."

3. The only way to sue Axelrod would be if there is actual proof that he was behind there. There isn't any and there won't be any unless these women come out and claim he encouraged them to lie, which they won't.

And even if he could go after the women, it still doesn't change the real issue -- which is that the media can get away with this no matter what happens to them. That's why the law needs to be changed to make allow people to get the media for pushing stories that have no support, i.e. rumors.

Individualist said...


I understand your concern and I agree with you in part (actually in many parts). The problem I see it is a breakdown in integrity among the following players:

1) The Courts
I see the litigious nature of our courts as becoming a place for mercenaries to simply take from others without regard for true rule of law due in part to the “living” constitution arguments. Thus any attempt to create laws relying on suits means that this could be abused and will not work.

2) The Media
I see the main stream media as using their bully pulpit to drown out other voices as an excuse to engage in Orwellian rewriting of events. We have discussed this enough to understand the issues.

3) The Government
The political establishment has pushed their influence into so many areas that they do not belong and have been able to successfully use regulatory agencies to gain power. This affects this in that had these statements been made for instance against Harry Reid Holder would probably find a reason to go after the accusers criminally to the cheers of the talking heads.

So, what is the reason that we have this problem? Two facts that I have come across lead me to a possible answer. One I heard that the Kennedy Clan used a law that restricted ownership of newspapers and radio and TV stations to force a certain gentlemen to sell off his interest in a Boston newspaper when that newspaper enacted an editorial policy detrimental to Ted Kennedy. Evidently before this he had a waiver. The second is a piece of tax code I read as a young CPA doing research. It caught my attention because it was a tax break for a certain type of print media in a certain area of the country with so many specific details that while it did not name the newspaper directly you were almost certain there was only one paper that could apply for the deduction. I remember it to this day because it was weird even for tax code law.

In short, and I know I have been verbose, I state my opinion is that all of this is due to regulation controlling interests in the media, to force an oligarchy that would be more open and democratic (in the economic sense here I mean a “more free” market with more players by this term) without these regulations. Concentrate the power and you concentrate the corruption. In reality this is why they are so scared of the “new” media. With the internet it is darned hard to control the number of players.

This is why I am not so sure that simply making it easier to sue will matter. I think the court jesters (er… judiciary) put in place because they interpret law the way the establishment that likes the current arrangement wants will not set fair precedent but rather worry about the parties in the suit. I agree with your sentiment but forgive me I don’t think your fix will practically work because I don’t think the rest of your profession has the same ethics that I think you and Lawhawk do. You are more knowledgeable about this than me however.

AndrewPrice said...


A couple points.

1. The courts are not as bad as conservatives have been led to think. With rare exceptions, courts are in fact hostile to plaintiffs and criminal defendants and they almost never accept new theories. The idea of the "living constitution" has been largely exaggerated. That's something liberal college professors push, but which the courts have never adopted.

2. If we are required to rely on ethics then we are doomed. In any group of people, there are always enough who will ignore ethics that relying on ethics as a regulatory force simply doesn't work. So to me, talk of ethics is irrelevant. It is better to talk of incentives and how to curb them.

3. I agree with you about the establishment. They have concentrated power in all industries because it lets them control their empire. This is why I get so frustrated with conservatives who knee-jerk defend huge companies or who oppose the use of anti-trust laws to break up these massive empires. That is not capitalism, it is crony capitalism.

And you're right, what they are terrified about is the internet because it is giving normal people a way passed all the roadblocks the oligarchs have put in place. That's why they want to control it with Net Neutrality and SOFA (I'll discuss this in January).

The thing about letting individuals sue journalists (who are basically agents of the conglomerates) is that it returns power to the people and takes away the immunity these huge companies have to control who may speak and who may not.

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