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Bloviating Zeppelin: Are You A Political Blogger? You'd Better Get An Attorney.

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Are You A Political Blogger? You'd Better Get An Attorney.

Here's the scenario:

Let' s say you have a blog on the internet. You post once a day or once a week -- whenever you have time or you feel motivated. You like the Democratic party, let's say, so you've linked up to it on the blogroll. It's early, you're enjoying your morning cup of coffee in your bunny pajamas and thinking about composing a post.

There's a knock on the door and you answer. Two men in dark suits and ties stand at the threshold. They're from the federal government. And you're under arrest. Out come the handcuffs. You'll have to sit in the back seat of their plain blue Ford Crown Victoria. You're booked. Fingerprinted and photographed. Your bail is $125,000.

It's a bad dream; this can't happen! You live in America!

Think again, fellow blogger, think again.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Online political expression should not be exempt from campaign finance law, the House decided Wednesday as lawmakers warned that the Internet has opened up a new loophole for uncontrolled spending on elections.

"Online political expression?" Who, me? I'm just some little person sitting at my home posting on the web. Sure, I like the (Green, Republican, Libertarian, Democratic, Independent) party, who doesn't? Campaign finance law? H.R. 1606? What is all this?

The vote in effect clears the way for the FEC to move ahead with court-mandated rule-making to govern political speech and campaign spending on the Internet.


Make no mistake - the Democrats killed The Online Freedom Of Speech Act last night. At the same time, we did get a majority in favor of the bill, but since it was brought under special rules - it needed 2/3rds to pass. Where do we go from here?Well - the first thing we need to do is pay close attention to the Republicans who voted against the bill. We need to do some more education. Let me say - some of these members may have voted against HR 1606 because of the procedure that brought it to the floor. Others may well have been swayed by the patently dishonest arguments from folks like Democracy21 and the Campaign Legal Center. Some may well have believed that HR 1606 was going to open the gates of soft money once again. That's not true. That's not true. That's not true.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Last night, the House voted 225-182 for a bill that would have excluded blogs, e-mail, and other Internet communications from regulation by the Federal Election Commission. That was 47 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed under a procedure that limited debate time and allowed no amendments.

The vote in effect clears the way for the FEC to move ahead with court-mandated rule-making to govern political speech and campaign spending on the Internet.

Before the vote, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), the main sponsor of the legislation, said: "If bloggers are compelled to hire lawyers to navigate this complex, gray, murky world of federal regulation, many would simply cease to operate. That would only leave the wealthier participants in this blogosphere."

He warned that without his bill, bloggers could be fined for linking to campaign Web sites or forwarding candidates' news releases to e-mail lists.

Bradley Smith, one of the six commissioners sitting on the Federal Election Committee, says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over. He warns that bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Licensing bloggers? You don't think that's coming?

"Okay, fine, waitaminnit ol' BZ," you say. "Take a big breath. Bring things down from 210/190. Take a large hit of CTFD. Think about it: what's the big deal about not being able to link to a campaign website. That's not so bad, is it? Certainly not! And forwarding some political hack's press release to others? Yeah, like you'll ever get that chance! What's the loss?"

Every loss! The crushing of our very US Constitution. Do the logical extension: the nature of any human being is to push and then push some more. So it is with government. I am all, and I mean ALL about free speech. I take the strictest constructionist view on the First Amendment. Free speech means just that. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have served or laid down their lives to protect that very concept. Why would any US citizen even remotely wish to consider the limiting of free speech? The internet is the very embodiment of same -- which is why relinquishing control of the internet to the United Nations scares me blue.

This wouldn't be just a Republican loss -- oh, no. It would be a Democratic loss, a Libertarian loss, a Green loss, a Tory loss, and a total abrogation of the First Amendment.

Hey, hold on a minute, will you? There's a knock on my door just now. . .


Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

11 03 05

Hello BZ: So the Repubs, for the most part are supporting free speech but the Dems are not? See my post on commies. These DEM dems are so lame! I appreciate your article because it really highlights how fragile our individual rights are when the majority of the world is erring towards socialism. It is scary to me because if the EU has its way, we will have no intellectual property rights, and no personal property. I HATE that pernicious philosophy and hope it dies a big death to the wonders of capitalism. Excellent post!

Thu Nov 03, 02:29:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

You know, I wish precisely I knew where it was going at this point, but I do not. The potential for free speech abuse is horrible here, and I can see the chance of free expression in my very own country ACTUALLY facing a national muzzle in hopes of accomplishing something entire different -- curtailing campaign spending. At best this HR 1606 is a despicable way to ensure equanimity or accountability in fundraising.

This actually has me very concerned. I thought this could only happen in Denmark, Canada or Norway.

Thu Nov 03, 04:49:00 PM PST  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

So is anyone saying what we can do to stop this? Who do we call? I am a very loyal Bush supporter but the one thing I am mad at him about is signing the Campaign Finance bill. And another reason why I despise John McCain.

Thu Nov 03, 07:15:00 PM PST  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Bloggers can be prosecuted but nobody cares about foreign campaign contributions.

The first thing that bugs me about this is that some republicans voted against the first amendment.

I wish I could be more persuasive to the congressmen. My guys all voted for it.

Finally, why the Hell does this take a super majority?

Thu Nov 03, 09:31:00 PM PST  
Blogger pappy said...

excellent post, I thought I spent 20 years in the military to defend free speech?

Fri Nov 04, 12:50:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Folks, to me the internet is ALL about free speech. Turning it over the UN so some other consortium of individually-agenda-driven nations can tear apart the communications-freedom giant called the internet is so far beyond foolish as to be bordering on comical -- yet it is being advocated and, if we do not stand fast, may occur.

British laws on libel and slander are far different from ours. Various other so-called civilized nations, INCLUDING Canada, have adopted speech laws.

And we, friends, are evidently about to adopt our own.

It is at this point that the Republican Party and myself frequently part ways, and I find myself becoming more Libertarian in my dotage.

I'm with YOU, Pappy: this is why YOU, this is why my FATHER served in the military, flew for the 8th AF as a B-17 pilot, managed to survive, came back, raised a family, rose to the rank of Colonel, gave me and my brothers a great start at life? So that our OWN homegrown politicians, years later, could throw the most basic of our belefs out the door?

You can call ME a moonbat if you will, but I am quite afraid this portends a serious thinking shift, a defective thinking shift, on both sides of the aisle, and I am not pleased or reassured.

I mean, really, so we can't link up to a given site or forward lists. Big Fat Hairy Deal. BABAGOI.

Oh so wrong, dear reader; humans being what they are, if this becomes the law of the land and, more importantly, enforced -- well, let's just say that the door will have been opened and we as a nation just walked through.

History shows that when we collectively and individually open a Big Door and pass the threshold, we seldom, if ever, walk back.

If we consider this to be restrictive, then I can only do the "logical extension" and envision even greater restrictions because what's past is prologue.

Fri Nov 04, 09:02:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Part II:

Take my post and forward it to EVERY blogger you know. Or write your own and forward that. Power is in knowledge and knowledge changes thinking and sometimes results in groundswell action. Link this post to a post on your own site. Mention it in your next post or write your own post about the situation.

EVERY blogger, on any side, with any thought, left, right, pink, purple, black, green or burnt umber, needs to know about this and there needs to be a surge and rise to the issue.

This simply cannot go on in the United States of America.

Fri Nov 04, 09:06:00 AM PST  
Blogger Eddie said...

Tell them to try and sic McCain-Spinelessgold on me and I will show them my rifle.

Fri Nov 04, 11:09:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Eddie, my friend, I must admit I find myself siding with you. . .

Fri Nov 04, 03:57:00 PM PST  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

You all feel angry that the law looks like it is going to apply to us.

Does this not demonstrate just how wrong McCain-Feingold is in the first place.

I don't just want to hang on to my right to post what I think. I want this bad law gone.

Fri Nov 04, 06:26:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

BWH: Once again you are succinct with words. I want it gone as well.

Sat Nov 05, 07:32:00 PM PST  

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