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I have been monitoring the developments on this story (yes, monitoring naysayers) and think we can see where the FEC commissioners are lining up:

The Dems -

But it is unclear how much appetite the F.E.C., criticized in the past by advocates for election reform as being dysfunctional and ineffective, really has for trying to govern Internet activity. In interviews on Thursday, several commissioners warned about the complexities of trying to assign a dollar value to online campaign activity and said they hoped any new regulations would not stifle personal political involvement.

"People should not be alarmed," said Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic commissioner. "Given the impact of the Internet," Ms. Weintraub said, "I think we have to take a look at whether there are aspects of that that ought to be subject to the regulations. But again, I don't want this issue to get overblown. Because I really don't think, at the end of the day, this commission is going to do anything that affects what somebody sitting at home, on their home computer, does."

. . . Ms. Weintraub cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying the goal was simply to address the Internet in some way. "We are looking at whether there is something short of a complete exemption for Internet activity," she said."One really good question that needs to be asked is, 'How do you value this stuff?' " she said. "Because we only track money - campaign money that people spend on campaigns - not their thoughts or their beliefs or their statements. Just when they spend money. So if something is done really cheaply, it's not going to rise to the level where it will meet our regulations anyway."

The GOP -

Although the F.E.C. appealed several elements of the judge's ruling, the Internet provision was not among them, which means it must now address it.

"I don't know how we get out of it at this point," said David M. Mason, a Republican commissioner. "We have a ruling ordering us to go back and define a rule."

In an interview, Mr. Smith said he did not believe that the judge's ruling limited the F.E.C. to regulating only paid advertising on the Internet. "In theory, there's no reason why everything that goes on a blog advocating a candidate wouldn't be an independent expenditure and subject to regulation," Mr. Smith said.

The Republican commissioners interviewed agreed that it would be difficult to place a value on most political activity conducted online, and thus to determine whether it fell under the campaign contribution limits. "If you have a very successful blogger who attracts a lot of attention based on the commentary he or she is undertaking, and maybe that activity is coordinated with a candidate, what is the value of that?" said Michael E. Toner, the third Republican member of the commission.

"Everyone here believes this is one of the most important rule-makings the F.E.C. is going to do this year," Mr. Toner added, "mainly because the Internet got millions of people involved in politics. What we do here is going to have a major consequence of how people are involved."

Looks to me that it is the GOP Commissioners who are eager to regulate Internet political activity. So, does anybody think we don't need to keep a close eye on this?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:08 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As both sides acknowledge (4.00)
    how can we effectively value blog activity and consider it an in-kind donation with any coherence?

    Obviously, Republicans stand to gain by limiting blog and internet advocacy.  When open information is spread, and people are allowed to think for themselves and critically evaluate others' opinions, it never bodes well for the GOP.  Simply put, they aren't a popular party.

    But really, let's say the GOP Commissioners succeed in some sort of restriction here.  What's to stop a blog from moving overseas?  What if we develop a parallel technology based on something nearly impossible to track or regulate, like an encrypted P2P protocol?  How could they regulate the "pass-it-on" emails that constitute the majority of online political communication?

    It just seems like more GOP pissing in the wind, to me.  I'm not saying we shouldn't take it seriously and point out the futility (and hypocrisy), but in the end, what really could happen that would stop the netroots?

    Politics is like driving: R goes backwards, but to move forward, shift to D.

    by ubikkibu on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:08:54 AM PST

    •  Free Speech (none)
      The bigger issue is the regulation of speech in the first place;

      And, yes, that does include how one spends money.

      Although not opposed to taxpayer sponsored campaigns, the mechanics of taxpayer sponsored campaigns allow for the corruption to seep in.

      Disclosure is a better way to regulate free speech, whether it be words, money or in-kind contributions.

      •  They want TOTAL CONTROL of (none)
        all of us anyway they can do it And DAMN it they will- If we don't riot soon ...
      •  aoeu (none)
        Money ain't speech.  If money were speech then taxes would violate the first amendment.

        Bush wants to take our nest eggs and make scrambled eggs with them.

        by TealVeal on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:41:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  blogs = press; not ads ... (none)
        blogs, by their definition, should be consider a part of the press and not political advertising which needs to be regulated. they are, for the most part, personal prose and therefore protected by the first amendment and beyond regulation bounds of the fec. what the fec is saying is like saying that an endorsement - say the 26 kerry endorsements issued by the philadelphia inquirer or the blathering by sean inannity three hours a day, five days a week, rebroadcast on weekends - should therefore be considered political advertising which should be regulated. this stuff is getting a bit insane.
    •  Different from media (none)
      How is a blog's activety different then an overly partisan media?  Newspapers endorse canidates all the time, media like fox news etc are overtly partisan in there reporting, how is a blog any different?

      What do you want to do sexually? WikiAfterDark! Browse how to articles on a variet of adult related topics!

      by moofdaddy on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:44:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Give them Blogs in Exchange for Limbaugh's Silence (none)
      Fine... if THEY want to regulate the blogs...

      When are THEY going to "regulate" all the free airtime the likes of Rush Limbaugh (a self-labeled unpaid advisor the "Bush/Cheney 2004" campaign), Sean Hannity, et al?

      Tit for tat, I say.  Congressional Dems need to start the dialogue.  Let's see how fast the ReTHUGlicans stop bitching about left-wing blogs when they see we'll shut the blogs down if they shut Rush's pie-hole, too.

      •  I dont' want any pie holes shut. (none)
        I agree 100% with the first respondent. We win the knowledge war hands down.

        Another thread I started had a response that reminded us the of the fax machine's role in the collapse of the USSR.
        http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2005/3/4/154513/7101/4#4

        Once enlightenment has taken hold of ones head, people like rushhannity actually help to galvanize opposition.

        The Gannon affair will not go away like the Regan/Bush I homosexual prostitution scandal did. The internet won't let the truth be buried.

        Rushhannity is not worth it.

        If blogs do get regulated I'll offer Kos server space in Canada. He can then link to whoever he wants.

        I think Blogad's checks can be cashed Canada too.

    •  take it seriously (none)
      but not worry about it too much. the are many very active blogs on the otheer side of the ideological divide, which will start to make serious noise should this becomes a real threat. if they don't -- which i think is unlikely -- then we should get more concerned. worth watching, but not worth obsessing about.

      why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

      by gracchus on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 03:57:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  looks like Jerome over on MyDD (none)
    is organizing a group of bloggers to come together on this issue -

    http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/3/6/1230/25063

    get involved if you can.

    I blog here (music) because man cannot live on politics alone!

    by jdavidson2 on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:09:26 AM PST

  •  Why is it (4.00)
    That republicans are so concerned with regulating the Internets.

    But they'll refuse to tax it until they're blue in the face???

    I say, you don't regulate it before you bring it into the real world of community-supporting commerce.

    •  Because taxing internet commerce (none)
      hurts their favorite constituents: businesses that thrive because they can sell products to consumers sans sales tax.  That's why I cancelled my Amazon account and now order on line from Barnes & Noble (although I try to purchase books first from local book stores....we still a few in NYC).
  •  Indeed, this isn't about regulation, though.... (3.80)
    This is about a GOP that sees a threat from people it can't control...yet. There isn't anything the current GOP fears more than real democracy in action. They know we are force to be reckoned with and as with all things Republican, once they set their sights on us, there isn't any lie big enough for them to not tell.

    Not to mention, Blogs are one area of the propoganda sphere where they are losing. They have a tight grip in information control across the rest of the media, Air America and a few other liberal radio stations being the exception.

    The GOP would greatly love to limit us after the outing of Gannongate and where it might lead. This is the true threat they fear. Now they must find a way to put an end to it.

    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

    by Alumbrados on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:12:54 AM PST

    •  BLOGS ARE THE NEW 'VILLAGE COMMONS' (none)
      YES!

      BLOGS ARE THE NEW 'VILLAGE COMMONS'

      In the 60s and 70s, we saw a pust to 'mallify' America. that push was successful. there was a big debate about free speech in those privately-owned areas, and we lost.

      Private blogs are the new 'village commons'

      They are vitally important and should be constitutionally protected - even more than the media..

      BECAUSE THEY ARE INDEPENDENT...

      BLOGS ARE THE NEW 'VILLAGE COMMONS'

      DEMOCRACY DEPENDS ON THEM...

      •  If you just pull up a soapbox (none)
        on the Village Green you're exempt from McCain/Feingold. But if you spend over $150 to publicise your "Vote for Vermin Supreme" speech, and $200 to rent a PA, you've crossed the threshold at which your expenditure requires an FEC report.

        The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

        by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:47:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is another attempt to take us (none)
    yet another step closer to state-controlled media.
  •  Determining value of contribution (none)
    If the Repugs want to place a value on the blog site "contributions" to a campaign, then they should also have to place a value on every house party discussion, town hall meeting, and other form of communication which takes place pertaining to any issue and candidate, as these are just the "hard copy" forms of what blogging is:  a community discussion of peoples' beliefs and desires, etc., which happens to take place in cyberspace rather than in the park at a chess table or in a diner over coffee.  

    Funny, seems to me to be what we used to call Free Speech.

    'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant.   Beaumont & Fletcher

  •  the convention (4.00)
    As one of the organizers of the YearlyKos Convention, this is something that really makes me nervous. But I refuse to let it effect me. Fear is their tool of choice and I'm not going to let them beat me.

    It goes right to the heart of what Markos is trying to do with DailyKos, and what we are trying to do with YearlyKos.

    The internet is a way to organize across geographical barriers. I think of what we do on the blog is just like conversation. And they want to stop our conversation.

    What the heck are Dems doing saying there's no reason to panic? Have they not seen what the Bush administration does with power? Why do they want to empower them even more?

    There may have been a time when I would have thought there is nothing to worry about, but no more. We have to be vigilant and proactive.

    Anyway, we're going to need a hell of a legal team to keep up with this.

    Proud Member of your friendly YearlyKos Convention Team!

    by gina on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:15:26 AM PST

    •  the fallout of fear (none)
      Fear may be among their most effective weapons, but sometimes fear is nothing more than the product of a reasonable assessment of the possible outcomes of a volatile situation. In an environment where dissent is brazenly equated with treason in a manner and on a scale that evokes the McCarthy era for all but the most obtuse? I'm scared shitless.

      And in response to the rhetorical question: "have they not seen what the Bush administration does with power?" The leadership of the Democratic party has been so pathetically slow on the uptake. They've done almost nothing but empower this administration, and they could't even wait until Day One to do so, they started the moment FOX projected Bush as the winner in Florida in 2000.

      Fear can become a weapon in our arsenal as well - the source of our vigilance, sweat, and sacrifice. Fantasy isn't really an option at this point.

    •  not (none)
      The Administration will not have the power to enforce the eventual rules, this will rest with the FEC, which for the forseeable future will remain 3 Dem, 3 GOP. Worst case for the Convention will be a requirement to report the budget.

      The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

      by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:16:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Online Conference (none)
    Is anyone planning to attend the Online Politics Conference at GW this week?
  •  Alarming (none)
    This is one of the most alarming statements I've read on the subject:

    In theory, there's no reason why everything that goes on a blog advocating a candidate wouldn't be an independent expenditure and subject to regulation,

    Luckily, it's so laughably broad in its implications, it's hard to imagine giving the statement legislative life and breath.

    But the fact that this dumbass feels this way and is in the position he is in gives me some pause.

  •  this issue is a live grenade for us (none)
    If they do limit fundraising through blogs, we are a permanent minority.  I would hope that the ruling, if it comes to that, would not stand up to a court challenge.
    •  Heaven help us bloggers (none)
      If the DNC decides to side with the GOP on this one...

      Fat cat top down democrats might like the idea of "neutering" blogs...

      In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
      The truth? Complacency was easier

      by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:42:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  All the more reason to gain back at least (none)
      one, hopefully (oh god please) both houses in '06.  Needs to be a freakin' priority, they have way too much power and it makes me nervous...
    •  It already is limited . (none)
      .. as far as contributing to a candidate's campaign is concerned.  When I contributed to the Dean campaign, I had to fill out all the stuff normally required for a political contribution, and was limited to $2000.  So .. what other kind of fund-raising do we do on the blogs that might be regulated?  Contributions to candidates are already regulated, whether made through the internet or any other way.
  •  The internet is a threat (none)
    because in spite of all that is worthless on the internet, it is the last remaining source of information unfiltered by corporate media.  
    •  Exactly (none)
      and information joined with fact is the biggest threat to this administration.

      The MSM won't do the job, so the internet is, and those in power feel threatened.

      There is no freedom when speech is limited.

      "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

      by SanJoseLady on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:30:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So why not regulate partisan newspapers? (4.00)
    Why not regulate the editorial boards of newspapers then too? Do you really think the WSJ coordinates it's rantings with the Bush administration any more than Kos or any of us coordinate our posts with a Democratic campaign?

    Why can individuals bundle campaign contributions through fund raisers in which Bush administration people come and visit, earning the title of Ranger, yet a the same thing that happens under Act Blue should be regulated? Should Act Blue give people titles too? Would it be OK then?

    Typical Republican. If you can't win, change the rules of the game. The Dems better be on this or they will loose one of the few advantages they have.

    •  How about regulating Faux "news"? (4.00)
      What is the "value" of shills selling Bushco lies to the public 24/7? Now THATS huge and this should be the Democratic response.
    •  journalist exemptions (4.00)
      Editorial pages of newspapers, and in fact every other part of newspapers (and magazines), comes under the journalist exemption. Part of the Kottar-Kelly ruling, IIRC, is that bloggers and other Internet writers are not, per se, journalists.

      One of the odd possibilities for a future ruling, one Smith mentions in his interview, is a ruling that would restrict blogs and sites like this one not linked to non-electronic media, but give sites run by people who would be journaliists anyway, such as TAPPED or NRO, free rein. Bloggers could circumvent such a ruling by establishing links to print journals after the fact, I guess...consider Kevin Drum/ Calpundit/ Washington Monthly... this situation would put courts and FEC commissioners in the icky position of deciding, frequently, what and who counts as a real journalist.

      That--like half the rest of modern CFR-- would raise very troubling First Amendment questions. I hope it would sink the whole CFR-Internet project. But I'm not a lawyer.

      •  Problem With That... (4.00)

        If we're not media, and we're not an electoral organization... Then we're engaging in private, individual speech, akin to a house party.

        In other words, they're fucked. We're either media, with all the rights and privileges that come with that... Or we're individuals discussing politics in a public forum, and they can't touch us.

        It's like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

        by RHunter on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:02:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  House parties are not per se exempt. (none)
          Spend over $250 hosting one, (including the "rental" value of an evening in your living room,) and they're reportable electoral activity.

          The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

          by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:51:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  If bloggers (none)
        are not journalists in the true sense, no entity today is "journalistic"

        "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

        by SanJoseLady on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:31:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The answer is simple, (none)
      Print publications and television or radio broadcasts are specifically exempted in the Campaign Finance Law.  Somehow the blogsphere was overlooked.
      •  Does this include print publishers (none)
        on line newspapers?  The Washington Times on line?  If they are also exempt, shouldn't we be?
        I'm not sure what class we are in, since the internet sortof defies definition.  Since the internet is through communication lines, then why don't they regulate personal phone calls.
        If we aren't considered journalists, what are we?

        Stupid questions maybe, but just asking.

    •  Good point (none)
      But lets even set the MSM aside. What about the value of the in-kind contributions from Limbaugh, O'Reilly and that ilk? Blogs are worth but a few pennies in comparison. I doubt that's a battle they want to wage.
      •  If (none)
        the internet and bloggers are going to be "regulated" for "political speech" then a radion commentatory who is an ADVISOR to a PRESIDENTIAL campaign should be regulated as well.

        Media today is a 24/7 tool for the GOP, and if freedom of speech is given to the media, then it cannot be taken from the internet.

        "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

        by SanJoseLady on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:34:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  what's your take (none)
    on apple suing three blogs and forcing them to reveal blind sources? it's a different angle, but i thought it was interesting because the bloggers were arguing that they are journalists as such should be able to claim shield law protection. from what i've read, the calif. judge will be ruling against. them.

    The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. --Yeats

    by JaneKnowles on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:25:01 AM PST

  •  Soapbox... (none)
    I would hope at worst political blogging/internet community building, where not explicitly coordinated with a party machine or campaign, would continue to be protected under the 1st amendment.

    Anything else is lunacy of the highest order, of course.

    Hey hey, ho ho, irresponsible corporatism and social intolerance have got to go! Hey hey, ho ho!

    by kfractal on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:26:33 AM PST

  •  This isn't a partisan issue. (none)
    this diary claims that the nasty Republicans are the folks pushing for regulation.  That isn't entirely accurate.  There are a lot of establishment Democrats, including from what I have read, at least two members of the FEC, who are also eager to regulate the blogsphere.  Why? Well the blogsphere is the one place where the political elite doesn't have total control of the American political discussion. The people at the top are not stupid.  Since total control of the discussion is how they remain in power, they have to find a way to regulate the blogsphere. Never forget that the elite Republicans and the elite Democrats jockying for power in Washington have more in common with each other than either group has with the rank and file of their respective parties.

    This is a place where the right wing bloggers (Freepers) and the left wing bloggers (Kosacks) should join together against internet regulation.  There are many right wing bloggers wanting to fight FEC regulation just as badly as the folks on the  left of the blogsphere.      

    •  Did you read the quotes in the story? (none)
      Cuz reading your comment, it really seems as if you didn't.

      The GOP Commissioners say they HAVE to regulate blogs. The Dem commissioner said no they do not, beyond Internet advertising purchases.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:34:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's weirder than that (none)
        You get Smith saying (again) that they might have to  go nuts and regulate bloggers (very much as if he were trying to provoke people like us to speak out against it, or to lobby Congress) and Weintraub saying that it's probably no big deal.

        That's consistent with Rethugs wanting to regulate bloggers (but claiming they don't want to it, claiming they've been forced by a court). But it's also consistent with Rethugs not wanting to regulate bloggers (remember, the Rethugs wanted to appeal Kottar-Kelly's ruling) and Dems thinking everything will be rosy because whatever regulations emerge will be no big deal.

        If you don't want something regulated at all, you tell the media that if it's regulated, the rules will be scary and onerous (so Congress must act). If you think regulating something will be just fine, you tell the media that the rules will be easy to handle and won't change much.

        I can't tell what the partisan divide on the FEC is from the article. Not at all. But it's pretty clear that they're contemplating regulating the netroots, and that we'd do better if they didn't do that.

      •  This isn't the only story on this topic. (none)
        I didn't read it in that story, but I have read other stories on the subject.  Maybe you should too.  This whole thing started because a federal judge ruled that the FEC had to do something about the blogsphere.  They couldn't get the 4 votes. The FEC is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. It requires a bipartisan vote to act. The  FEC couldn't get a bipartisan majority to support an appeal. More Democrats voted against the appeal than Republicans, but people from both parties were to blame. At least that is what I have read.

        As I recall one of the other stories on this subject might have been a diary here at Kos. I might be wrong.

        •  Correction (none)
          There are 6 FEC commissioners.  It takes a bipartisan vote to appeal any district court ruling. Democrats specifically voted against appealing the judges ruling. The Republicans claim they are stuck with the ruling. The Democrats claim the ruling doesn't mean much.  Both sides have political cover if everything goes bad.
          •  The appeal time is over (none)
            The vote is long over.

            Now it will be rulemaking by the FEC.

            The GOP seems to see itself mandated  to regulate Internet political activity The Dem Commissioner says otherwise.

            Maybe you need to reread those "other stories."

            "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

            by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:59:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh "those other stories" (none)
          Oh you read the "other stories"? Well that settles it then. Thanks for link.  

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:58:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  nothing to see here (none)
        "People should not be alarmed," said Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic commissioner.

        I don't want this issue to get overblown.

        . . . Ms. Weintraub cautioned against jumping to conclusions

        Yeh, right. And torture is only going to be used on the bad guys.

        Just move right along...nothing to see here.

        How can any Dem expect this administration to act reasonably on anything?

        They don't want to give bloggers press credentials, and they don't want to let bloggers have their conversations as regular citizens.

        Dems supporting this process should think twice. Expect any legislation to look like bankruptcy reform...protect the corporations and limit the "abuses" of the little people.

        Proud Member of your friendly YearlyKos Convention Team!

        by gina on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:45:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, Armando (4.00)
        The Republicans are warning about what you're going to end up with if the rulemaking goes badly - if you try to apply "offline" regulations to online activity, the result will be a severe limitation to our freedoms.

        You can misinterpret the quotes - but don't ignore the actions - three Republicans voted to appeal this judges ruling - those three Democrats voted not to.

        Oh - and if you want to go a little better - you don't have four votes on the Commission for giving bloggers the press exemption - and that's a party line vote, too.

        Jerome at MyDD has been following this a lot more closely than you have. He's right and you're wrong.

      •  Armando (none)
        You ought to read the opinion - it is very much NOT limited to paid activity (which, by the way - is ALREADY covered by FEC regulations)
        •  Seconded. (none)
          McCain/Feingold requires reporting for in kind contributions, and independent activity, if the "value' is over $250. The FEC will have to decide between valuation as bandwidth, and valuation based on market price for paid advertising.

          The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

          by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:10:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The FEC (none)
          will decide that Mike. That's my point. It is now in the hands of the FEC, and the GOP commissioners seem to feel they have to comprehensively regulate Internet activity. Weintraub does not.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:42:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Comprehensive /= heavy handed. (none)
            Comprehensive means the rule should address all internet activity. It can exempt most activity and still be comprehensive.

            The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

            by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 12:38:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  At the risk of being to verbose... (none)
    duh.

    This runs parrallel to everyhting else the GOP is doing - redistricting in off-census years, "nuclear option" consideration and tort reform which'll cut off funding for the democratic party...  we have the best blogging infrastructure, Dems are the party of the professional class (the people most likely to organize online) and we've seen great success with Kos and Blog for America - success that R's have only glimpsed with their Thune blogs...

    this is a tough nut to crack though.  I mean, it is outrageous that the Thune bloggers used RNC and Thune resources...  they didn't do all that oppo research themselves...  further, they were compensated by the Thune campaign...  that shit should be looked at with a wary eye.  If there is a way for similar holes to be exploited, you can be sure that Delay and Rove will find a way to slither into those dark cracks and exploit any weaknesses...

    having said all that, I'm inclined to let the internet remain wild.  The truth is winning so far - at least on the net.  When that stops, well, then maybe we should figure out what's gone wrong and what protections need to be installed...

  •  I Disagree (none)
    When I read the Republican guys, they're running through a set of hypotheticals, and I don't assume that it means that these are things they actually want to do.  

    I do believe that when a blogger reaching 300K readers a day tells his readers to give money to a particular campaign, that such a method of targeted direct-marketing is something of value to the campaign, and is an independent expenditure which, if valued as aggregate >$250, ought to be reported.

    We can't have it both ways: we're not simultaneously The Future Of All Politics and Something So Small To Not Merit Any Regulatory Oversight.

    •  Not the same thing!!! (none)
      Kos is NOT DONATING money, he is merely suggesting people can do so VOLUNTARILY.

      It's no different than a popular actor or ball player suggesting people donate $$ to his favorite candidate.

      In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
      The truth? Complacency was easier

      by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:39:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  or (none)
        a bush "ranger" bundling a million dollars for the gop.
        •  If a Bush ranger (none)
          spends over $250, they're required to report. So long as McCain/Feingold is the law of the land, the logical place to valuate is bandwidth expenditure, prorated between the fundraising aspect and the pure editorial component.

          The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

          by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 12:43:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sure. (none)
        But it's free advertising targetted to prospective donors including a direct link to donate, something which -- if the campaign had to do it itself -- would cost a great deal.  (How much?  Well, how much does Kos charge a candidate to do it via advertising?)

        Of course it's different from a famous person suggesting donations.  We know that because we see how much more effective it is.

        •  Hanity, Rush, Coulter (none)
          will be fined as well ?

          In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
          The truth? Complacency was easier

          by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:24:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  again (none)
            They're covered by the media exemption as-is.
            •  So Blogs are NOT media ? (none)
              Is that the GOP's contention now ?

              In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
              The truth? Complacency was easier

              by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 12:07:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  no one's contending anything (none)
                Just that under the text of the current law, the Internet is not included. It's up to the FEC to figure out how to fill that gap.
                •  Do you have the text ? (none)
                  Does it specifically says "the media is exempt.. Internet is not media" ?

                  In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
                  The truth? Complacency was easier

                  by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 12:43:24 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  2 USC 431(9)(B)(i) (none)
                    "The term "expenditure" does not include--
                    (i) any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate"

                    link

                    •  Wooho, we're in the clear! (none)
                      Internet DEFINITELY is broadcasting. It just doesn't normally uses airwaves to do so (but it could and does in some wireless networks or wireless phones that are net capable).

                      So who will make our case to the judge ?

                      In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
                      The truth? Complacency was easier

                      by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 06:01:18 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  through the facilities of any broadcasting station (none)
                  anything transmited "through the facilities of any broadcasting station" is exempt

                  That's what the law says ?

                  Internet functions thanks to broadcasting stations, also known as routers.

                  Seems to me we have a strong case to be considered "media" and therefore exempt.

                  In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
                  The truth? Complacency was easier

                  by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 12:46:16 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  And if (none)
      THe New York Times or The Wall Street Journal printed the address of the same site?

      Pithecanthropus "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:50:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  then (none)
        Exempt under federal law.  It's not an expenditure on behalf of a campaign if it's a "communication appearing in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station[, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication], unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate."

        Now, suppose Wal*Mart had a "corporate blog" that encouraged people to donate to Candidate X.  Problem?

        •  Yes and no (none)
          If it is on their intranet, they are using their power over employees to influence them, a no-no.

          If it's on their public site I don't see a problem

          In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
          The truth? Complacency was easier

          by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:25:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Don't forget this one! (none)
    Bloggers not protected by Constitution, says Apple

    Journalists are allowed to protect their sources, bloggers are not

    In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
    The truth? Complacency was easier

    by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:35:05 AM PST

  •  Fairness Doctrine (none)
    Where are these conservatives when Hannity and Limbaugh are tightrope walking free speech/election issues to influence the voter?
    Let's see if they would like to discuss the effects  the Fairness Doctrine would have on their daily unchallenged message of fear, hate and lies.
    •  Agreed (none)
      I don't see any such regulation succeeding if it goes to a court challenge.  If the FEC regulates the internet but not the more biased cable news nets such as Fox, or the wing nut radio talk show hosts, then this will be a classic equal protection case, regardless of the first amendment issues (which I also believe favor bloggers).
      •  court challenges (none)
        but what about packing the court the way the Bush administration is trying to do now.

        Our most powerful lawyer in the land says torture is ok. I've lost my faith in the williness of the "courts" to protect us.

        Proud Member of your friendly YearlyKos Convention Team!

        by gina on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:55:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  So, what is it called when (none)
    all your blog does is MALIGN a candidate you don't like, without mentioning the one that you do?

    Is pointing out the faults of a Republican candidate going to be considered an in-kind contribution to his Republican-funded campaign, simply because you are bringing attention to the candidate?  If so, will that take funds away from the Republican candidate?

    Seems to me, if the sword cuts in that direction too, we could just focus on all of their faults ALL the time, and bankrupt them in the process.

    Or, am I misunderstanding the issue?

    •  Vote Against Ads (none)
      are considered Independent Campaign activities, and their sponsors required to register and report, it they hit the spending thresholds.

      The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

      by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 12:48:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  time to move to offshore servers? (none)
    I can see anonymous offshore political blogging becoming popular if this bs gets through.
  •  So long as we aren't directly collecting $... (none)
    the Supreme Court will just see us as free speach.  Granted we have a larger soap box than most civilians interested in politics in the past.  But, in the end we are just people debating the issues of the day.
  •  Given that cyberspace has been kind to Pubs... (none)
    ...so far, that is...

    ...the only reason I can think of for Pubs to get into the monitor/control speech game is if they recognize the tide of demographics is going to overwhelm their early mobilization, and they want to start raising barriers to lock out competition (and eventual subsummation) by Democratic and liberal and just plain reasonable people of all partisan stripes expressing view that the RNC has not vetted ahead of time.

    Hmm...well, maybe that's more than one reason. :)

    Real Democrats got the backs of Real Democrats. Where are you, DLC? Where are you?

    by cskendrick on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:49:23 AM PST

  •  Blogs Under Fire Wrap-up (4.00)
    Blog Under Fire Wrap-up

    ... here we have this recent string of stories which are alarming and, I think, worth noting:

                1. In a suit by Apple against three websites, a court has ruled that blogs are not entitled to the same first-amendment protection of sources (as traditional news media are). If upheld, the ruling would obviously have a chilling effect on all web-sources. I'm not a judge, but I'm sure what it is about putting words on a computer screen instead of paper that makes them less entitled to free speech protection. Engadget is understandably irked:

    ...Apple wouldn't be suing the New York Times if they'd published this same information. Ultimately Apple needs to realize that they can't have it both ways--you can't have enthusiast sites giving you tons of publicity and building buzz for your products and then be upset when they do their best to dig up info about unreleased products. Besides, most companies would be thrilled to have an army of bloggers trying to divine their next move. It's time to withdraw the suit, ok? We promise to still love you.

                2. Campaign finance laws are being extended to entangle (in ways unclear) any website that links to a politician's website or supports a campaign:

    ...the regulations are very specific that reproducing a campaign's material is a reproduction for purpose of triggering the law. That'll count as an expenditure that counts against campaign finance law.

    This is an incredible thicket. If someone else doesn't take action, for instance in Congress, we're running a real possibility of serious Internet regulation. It's going to be bizarre.

    I don't see the need to fine unpaid bloggers over their unsolicited support of a candidate. It seems rather like imposing campaign finance regulations on people who put campaign bumper stickers on their car.

                3. Bill O' Reilly is threatening to sue a blog for linking to one of his articles. This is hopefully not one to worry about, however; Everyone understands that O'Reilly is a total asshole who constantly sues people who are critical of him. He also constantly loses, and one would think that he'd learn. Apparently that's not the case.

    It's also interesting to note that, like any good GOP shill, O'Reilly supports tort reform. Tort reform! I can't think of anyone who's made more frivolous or harassing use of the legal system than himself. Reform begins at home, Bill, you fucking prick.

    Anyway, you know, any one of these alone could sort of ruin this blogging thing for everyone. Then what would you do, huh? Read a book? Let's pray it doesn't come to that.

    In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
    The truth? Complacency was easier

    by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:52:29 AM PST

    •  This is like putting (none)
      your head in a beehive.

         "Bill, you fucking prick!" That seems to be only thing that is clear!

        The thing I most don't understand is that GOP uses the internet to their advantage. Why would they want to regulate it, unless they plan to use the regulation as a weapon against the "new grassroots of the democratic party"? Then use underhanded means of getting around it. Like say designating your site as "this" which doesn't fall under the law?

        And how could they possibly monitor such a thing, that is the world wide web, let alone with the network of states on the web.
      A federal ruling that governs the web yet applies to visitors from other countries?

       

      People vote for sunshine, not for gloom and doom!

      by missliberties on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 01:50:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Blogs are a form of journalism (none)
    Just like the MSM used to be a form of journalism.

    Journalists fight. The bloggers are fighting. Bloggers will win.

    We are in a democracy still and bloggers have the numbers. The blogosphere is a 24 hour phenomenon - not just the limited hours spent working of much of our government. If nothing else the blogs will surround and exhaust them.

    The bloggers need a good target, and an FCC battle against blogs will be a wonderful opportunity.

  •  I'm tempted to say ignore them (4.00)
    because there's no way they can regulate what millions of Americans are doing on blogs on the internet. On the other hand, they seem to excel especially when we're complacent. Emphasis on the "they" and "we."

    But, if they are going to crack down on kos's relationship with Dean's campaign, for example, I'd suggest they alos crack down on any church that gets involved with politics at all. After all, dailykos isn't a non-profit blog. The churches, however, are non-profit.

    "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

    by upstate NY on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:59:56 AM PST

  •  What is a journalist? (none)
    There's no license procedure that I know of. A journalism degree isn't a requirement because if it was about 3/4s of the pulitzers ever awarded would have to be recalled. Freedom of the press, since it has clearly been expanded to broadcast media, must exist for all methods of publishing, including blogs. That question, whether a blogger is a journalist without connection to a hard copy press, has to be fought out hard and, to answer Armando's question, I think we need to keep more than just one close eye on this. If its true that the internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it, we need to get started on limiting and repairing this particular damage.

    Pithecanthropus "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:18:00 AM PST

  •  Democrat or just demented? (4.00)
    This one can potentially hit us bloggers as we are the ones who publicly discuss many conspiracy theories.

    Democrat or just demented?

    .... a group of Republican lawmakers is hoping that they can do something about the problem. When the 109th Congress convenes in Washington in January, Senator Bill Frist.. plans to file a bill that would define "political paranoia" as a mental disorder, paving the way for individuals who suffer from paranoid delusions regarding voter fraud, political persecution and FBI surveillance to receive Medicare reimbursement for any psychiatric treatment they receive.

    Wasnt_2Rick Smith, a spokesman for Senator Frist, says that the measure has a good chance of passing--something that can only help a portion of the population that is suffering significant distress.

    "If you're still convinced that President Bush won the election because Republicans figured out a way to hack into electronic voting machines, you've obviously got a problem," says Smith. "If we can figure out a way to ease your suffering by getting you into therapy and onto medication, that's something that we hope the entire 109th Congress will support."

    Conservatives Push for Psychiatric Diagnosis of 'Loony Leftists'

    Kudos to Soj for spotting it

    In the future people will wonder why most didn't challenge Bush's excesses
    The truth? Complacency was easier

    by lawnorder on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:19:59 AM PST

  •  Armando - completely wrong (none)
    I don't understand your conclusions at all with this post, Armando.

    All three Republican members (and one Democrat) voted to exempt all Internet activity from the regulations.

    A judge ruled that the rule ran afoul and ordered them to re-issue the rules.

    All three Republicans voted to appeal that ruling - all three Democrats declined to do so.

    The Republicans are WARNING of the dangers involved with this rulemaking, not eager to do so.

    •  Agreed (none)
      Note that to pass these "nuclear" regulations, the GOP would have to get at least one of the Democrats to vote with them on "going after the blogs."  Not going to happen.
      •  You're still not getting it (none)
        Slow down.

        The Republicans do not want to regulate Internet activity, and least of all blog activity. To say otherwise is to not understand this issue nor process at all.

        They have been ordered to do so by a judge. So, the rules will be drafted - if the Campaign Finance Reformers aren't happy, they will sue at it will go back the court.

        The Republicans have issued a warning, very simply: if you apply campaign finance laws to the internet, you HAVE to look at what blogs do, just to comply with the law. The Democrats could have appealed that ruling, they did not.

    •  Forget the case (none)
      The rulemaking is the issue and it seems the GOP commissioners want to view their mandate broadly, not narrowly,while Weintraub is viewing it narrowly.

      Agencies have great discretion - ask your lawyer friends at Red State about the Chevron rule.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:33:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Chevron (none)
        Funny you mention Chevron - for the judge actually interpreted Chevron in the reverse.
        •  The judge (none)
          interpreted Chevron to mean an agency cannot ignore the law, which is what she thought they did by making NO rules for the Internet. What we are talking about NOW is WHAT rules. And the GOP commissioner clearly see their mandate much more broadly than Weintraub.

          And the opinion is not quite that definite.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:46:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Republicans are just posturing. (none)
            They will write very restrictive rules which have no public support and are probably unconstitutional as a way to try and stop any regulation. They hope that either public outcry will change the law or the whole thing will be found unconstitutional. This is political and legal chicken with the Republican finger on the Doomsday button.
            •  You know this how? (none)

              "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

              by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:03:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  he doesn't. (none)
                The notion of Republicans on that commission writing and voting for restrictive rules is pretty laughable. Agree with them or not, folks like Smith have been pretty consistent in resisting regulation.
              •  I take them at their word. (none)
                You just wrote that the Republicans are taking an expansive view. Smith is out saying stop me before I kill again. Nobody is being very subtle here.

                This is always how this plays out. Have you followed any of the story of campaign finace reform. The Republicans oppose any reform, then they try an pile on lots of onerous and unconstitutional provisions to try and stop anything that might pass.

                This is the smae old game just moved to the internet.

                •  No (none)
                  You go beyond their word.

                  "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

                  by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:44:20 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  OK I take you at your word (none)
                    Your previous diary reported that Smith was out warning of onerous regulations coming for the Internet and calling for legal or legislative action to stopped them - you called him "one of the good guys" for trying to stop regulation.

                    Today you report that the Republicans are pushing for exactly those broad restrictions, while the Dems want narrow rules focused on blatant spending.

                    Even if they hadn't been playing this game for the last 20 years isn't it crystal clear what is going on?

      •  BTW (none)
        How hard is it to understand that this isn't an issue of WANT? They voted against it. But, now that they have to address it, they're pointing out what BCRA, applied to the Internet, demands.
  •  Here's what I think (4.00)
    and this is based on a lot of time spent this past year puzzling out FEC regulations, reading their manuals, reading Advisory Opinions, and talking with their analysts on the phone when I needed something clarified.

    The FEC has a certain self-consistent logic to the way they do things.  They make rulings and decisions with not only the literal word of the law in mind, but also the goals they are trying to accomplish.  They are not going to haul off and do something completely random and illogical, just because.

    People have been freaking out about this issue for quite some time now.  Every week or so there would be a diary about "OMG the FEC is going to try to control blogs!!!1" Almost inevitably, the diarist was quoting someone talking about coordination with campaigns in regards to expenditures for maintaining a blog, advertising, etc.  But these diarists completely missed the point and assumed it meant the FEC was going to regulate independent bloggers.

    Now this CNET interview has lent some credence to this panic, but I still don't take it very seriously.  Short answer: yes we should pay attention, but no we shouldn't panic.  The FEC does not have "controlling bloggers" or "pissing off the grassroots" as an organizational goal, no matter what some of you may think.  Keep an eye on the situation, but for god's sake, don't go ballistic and accuse the FEC and god and everybody of trying to trample your free speech rights and force you to wear plaid clothes from Walmart.  It only makes you look like a paranoid freak.

    What it comes down to... despite what they may think, bloggers are not the center of the universe.  So stop assuming that everything that is said and done that remotely touches on blogging is a direct attack on you, or even has anything to do with you.

    How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

    by furryjester on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:40:42 AM PST

  •  Blog posts = bumper stickers (none)
    If posts on a blog advocating a candidate can be counted as an "independent expenditure" then so can posting a candidates bumper sticker on your car.

    Ancient Chinese curse: May you live in Interesting Times

    by Chris Andersen on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:46:38 AM PST

    •  yes, but (none)
      When the candidate prints that bumper sticker, he has to account for it.  If you draw your own, it's fine, because you only have to report an independent expenditure that's over $250 in value, which this isn't.
    •  Doesn't map (none)
      A bumper sticker on your car is exempt, as under the $250 threshhold for reporting. make 50 stickers for your friends, and it's still exempt. Produce and pass out 5,000 stickers, and you're required to report. It's not the value of the car, but the printing bill that counts.

      The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

      by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:52:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, unless (none)
        you're doing fundraising - in that case, the FEC has interpreted the contribution to be related to the amount of money the campaign receives.
        •  If i make a bumpersticker (none)
          reading "Give to Vermin Supreme," how does the FEC know which donations came because of the sticker? Even if a donor follows a link on a blog, it's not clear if the donation would have been sent anyway. Now Markos practice of asking readers to donate (x dollars plus) $.01, with the intent that the recipient recognise the donation as dkos donation, does provide a marker for considering it an attributable donation, more than simply clicking a link.

          The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

          by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:03:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  True (none)
            You hit on the point - the offline rules for this stuff don't transmit well to the internet, which is why the FEC originally exempted this stuff. Unfortuately, the judge disagreed and ordered them to do it. That's the danger.
  •  What the regs will look like (4.00)
    Let's try mapping McCain/Feingold's impact on a print publication onto blog activity, for an idea of what FEC rules would look like.

    A newspaper's news coverage and editorials are exempt, but paid ads are reported as expenditures. The rules require ad space to be sold to all candidates at the same rate, or none.

    Map this, and original writing by as blogger looks like the editorial content of the paper, therefore exempt. Banners map to display ads. If the FEC tries to follow this model.

    There's perhaps a difference between a personal blog on political topics, which includes an endorsement, and "My Russ Feingold for President Blog." For the latter, the threshold as to whether reporting as an inkind contribution can be required would be set by the bandwidth (plus hosting bill?). For the former only Banner ads would count.

    The prohibition on corporate contributions complicates things for group blogs, if incorporated, whether as forprofit or nonprofit entities.

    Dailykos is an exceptionally sticky case. While xplicitly labelling it a "Democratic Party Blog," tilts toward the required to report model. On the other hand, since so much of the content, and traffic, is generated not by kos, but by individual diarists and commenters, thes pageviews can be reasonably seen as the posters' speech, not Markos'.

    I don't buy into the theory that the FEC Commissioners' actions on this are driven by partisan advantage. When they exempted the net they were ducking on spending a huge number of hours and staff resources trying to craft a set of rules that they knew they would, despite best efforts, not come out right. In declining to appeal the Court ruling, I think the Dem Commissioners went from an analysis that the ruling is correct, given the language of McCain Feingold.

    My prediction for the upshot: It'll take the Commissioners a year to come up with anything. Their final product will be thrown back to the Courts, an injunction will be sought, and granted, staying the rules as violating the 1st Amendment in their particulars. This injunction will last through the 2006 election. Eventually a very narrow set of rules will be upheld, enforceable in time for 2008.

    The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

    by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:47:39 AM PST

    •  Actually, FEC rulemaking will be done (none)
      Inside about two and a half months. They'll have a draft rule released to the public in about three weeks.
      •  Is this sourced? (none)
        or gossip?

        The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

        by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:56:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, (none)
          It was reported, I'll have to dig the link. But I also spoke to Brad Smith yesterday. The professional staff at the Commission are working on it now, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (I think that's the right term) should be posted last week of March, first week of April.

          Then follows a 30 day public comment period - which if it includes a public hearing (I can't believe that it won't) it will extend it another 30 days.

          •  And at that point (none)
            There's a decent chance they'd revise the draft ncorporating the feedback from the public comments, rolling things back at least another couple months. Then to the Courts, likely back to the FEC for more tweaking, and you're close to missing the 2006 cycle.

            The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

            by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:43:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Though frightening sounding--wouldn't it (none)
    in practical terms be about as effective as the records companies trying to control downloading of music from Napster?

    Also, how could unpaid bloggers be tantamount to journalists?

    There is a fine line between what a private chat is versus a website when you really think of it.  I mean couldn't, for instance, the DailyKos, turn itself into a private chat "by invitation only?"  

    When I spam my friends or post things on my website, whom my friends have referred other friends to, is that going to be constituted as a blog?

    I think it's way too messy and unenforceable.  

    In light of the democrats actually raising as much money for the GOP, due largely from the internet, I do see why the GOP wants to shut us down.  However, this tactic that they're trying to deploy doesn't seem workable.

    Any thoughts?

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 09:47:42 AM PST

  •  The three boxes of democracy (none)
         It has been written that our glorious American experiment has been the envy of the world because of the three boxes...the ballot box, the jury box and the soap box.

         In five years (give or take), George the Lesser, the SCOTUS, and Diebold have stolen the ballot box from us.

         Over the same period of time, legislation at both the state and federal level has been boarding up the jury box; most recently with the Orwellian-titled Class Action Fairness Act.

         While television and radio ownership has consolidated into the hands of reactionary interests over the the past decade and a half, we still have this wonderful outlet know as the internet. It is truly the soap box of the 21st century.

         Now, the czar, the czarina, and the Republicans who control and lead this nation want the third box, too. Their reach, like their collective greed, knows no boundary. I'll scream bloody murder on this, as will you. But don't be disappointed when your fellow citizens don't help. America has changed. I'm still loathe to admit it, but changed it has.

         "First they came to steal the votes, and I did not speak out because, Hell, I don't vote,and besides, voting doesn't matter, politicians are all the same.
         "Then they came for the plaintiffs and I did not speak out because, Hell, I've never sued anybody, and besides, it's only a way for lawyers and their malingering clients to get rich while I pay higher premiums;
         "Then they came for they came for the bloggers and I did not speak out because, Hell, I don't even know any bloggers, and besides, they're just a bunch of liberal pantywaists trying to tear this country down;
         "Then one day I was sitting on my couch watching Hannity&Colmes on Fox, and there was a knock at the door and they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me, and I've got to tell you, this came as a complete surprise to me."*

      (* With sincere apologies to Pastor Niemoeller. This is not meant to in anywise trivialize his warning-it still puts a lump in my throat-but a small attempt at irony/humor/hyperbole/ or something)

  •  Good luck (none)
    Hypothetically:

    Let's say I run a political site similar to Dailykos or MyDD and want to avoid this sort of thing.

    I register my site using a front entity or fake ID, my host resides in an off-shore data haven, and I require no personal information from my users, and I suggest they use anonomizers or come in from a foreign IP.  Every day we write in support of Candidate X, requesting that money be sent to them, or just spreading the word.

    Regulate that.  For all intents and purposes, nothing is occurring in the US.  The data haven will certainly not play ball with the FEC or any other US government agency.[1]

    People that sponsor laws that attempt to regulate anything on the "internets" have no idea what they are talking about, the wide-spread ramifications of their regulations [2], nor the vastness of the enterprise.  Hell, they think their computer is full of magic smoke that makes things work.

    They will have as much luck pursuing this as they would have clocking the minutes I spend verbally harranging the current administration and supporting the opposition.

    [1] Correct me if I am wrong in this assumption that off-shore information is not regulatory.

    [2] Take the poorly planned idea that all file sharing applications and software be banned, effectively making all forms of network communication illegal.

    •  Inside U.S. vs. Outside U.S. (none)
      The way I read your post, you're outlining two strategies:

      1. Move the servers offshore,
      2. Buy the server space, and post from it anonymously.

      Regarding number 1: Reading through these replies the last few days, the first one comes up a lot. It doesn't matter if your server is domestic or foreign, anymore than it would matter if a direct mail vendor were domestic or foreign. The law is concerned with the individual violating the rules, and not with how they go about doing it.

      Further, I don't think it'd take too much of this kind of activity for the government to pass a law blocking connections to the offending ip addresses; or just as likely, get all the major internet providers to block them voluntarily.

      Regarding number 2: This would simply be another violation of campaign law. With p2p and other examples, the internet has demonstrated an ability to do this well, but those opposing it are getting better all the time too.

      Finally, as attempts to flaunt the law florish, opponents will have an easy time framing public opinion against bloggers, and candidates will eventually hope to not be associated with these websites. Meaning that the bloggers will do more harm to the candidates they support, than good.

      In conclusion, there is not a viable solution to this problem outside of taking it on in congress, the FEC, and the courts.

      Wesley B

  •  Legally... (none)
    Legally, it's almost a non-issue.  The FEC can regulate money in political campaigns, not speech.  A bit of McCain-Feingold even got struck down by the Supreme Court on "money is speech" grounds, the result being that the money in question couldn't be regulated the way the bill called for, not that the speech in question could be.  Free speech protection trumps money.

    Now, the FEC can certainly say, if you pay for advertising, that's money spent on behalf of the campaign, whether the ad runs on a blog or a TV station.

    But if they try to regulate noncommercial political speech the courts will laugh at them so badly, O'Reilly vs. Franken would look like a serious case in comparison.  This is the absolute central core of the 1st amendment.  If a blog is getting money from a campaign, that is certainly open to regulation.  But what the blog says, or links, on its own desire, is very clearly not.

    Remember, the Renqhuist court struck down the Communications Decency Act 9-0, and its successor a few years later 9-0 again, and that wasn't even about political speech.

    •  It's not pure speech (none)
      When it's, say, distributing materials from a campaign, or soliciting money for a campaign.  When it goes beyond advocacy to things which are more clearly worth money, there's a difference.
  •  First amendment (none)
    It is a first amendment right, but not freedom of press as much as freedom of speech and freedom to congregate.
    As long as none of the parties give money to a blogger (oops republicans did, and that might be a violation. I think we are protected. In many ways this is not different than a community bulletin board.
  •  Effectively... (none)
    another step in the GOP's attempt to total control of the political process and to outlaw any opposition party, making the US a one-party totalitarian state.  They are engaged in a coup d'etat by degrees.

    Consider what is happening in Ohio, just one of many examples of the GOP power grab.  House Bill 1 would allow individual contributions of 10000 (up from 2500) to political parties and campaigns (children over the age of seven are included as individuals who can contribute 10K); at the same time it bans banded contributions from unions.

    Repeating what I have read many times on Kos: we are at war, and we are fighting for the survival of our democracy.

  •  On an unrelated note.. (none)
    Sorry to comment on something unrelated, but I'm trying to get a dialogue going between the religious and non-religious since this largely parallels the gap between Left and Right in this country- if anyone is interested please check out:

    http://voicesofreason.info

    Thanks,
    J.S.

  •  I don't understand (none)
    If a blog (like kos) charges people to post advertisements for political campaigns, how is that a donation?  

    If a campaign pays a radio station or a TV station to air ads, is that a donation?

    Are they saying bloggers can't express their own opinion of a candidate without that being a "donation"?  If I tell a co-worker why I like a candidate in a casual discussion, is that a donation?

    WTF?

    Sorry, I have nothing else to add to this conversation.

    by DawnG on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:26:49 AM PST

    •  Paid advertising (none)
      On the internet is already regulated as an expenditure under BCRA. The question becomes in-kind and coordinated expenditures, that may create the same kind of value for a campaign.
    •  "Independent" Expenditures. (none)
      This is about third party expeditures on behalf of candidates. McCain Feingold limits "coordinated" spending in the period before the election. The FEC provided rules for advertising by third parties in print TV radio etc. but exempted the Internet from any regulation at all. The Judge decided that internet ads were indistinguishable from other ads and ordered the FEC to extend the rules to cover them the same way.
  •  Hmm... (none)
    I read this:

    "Everyone here believes this is one of the most important rule-makings the F.E.C. is going to do this year," Mr. Toner added, "mainly because the Internet got millions of people involved in politics. What we do here is going to have a major consequence of how people are involved."
    As this:

    "The internet scares us and Howard Dean might have actually won! The internet got lots of people involved in politics in a way we can't yet control. Since our accepted delusion is that the Republicans will be in control of government forever and ever we can't just let this sort of thing go free..."

    The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

    by Shapeshifter on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:29:42 AM PST

  •  Thafs Fine (none)
    the GOP commissioners can regulate the Internet all they want.  I'll just go to another one.

    "I hear theres rumors on the uh..Internets" - Our President

    See what I'm talking about?  It'l take them forever to restrict speech across all of them!

  •  Armando asked... (none)
    "does anybody think we don't need to keep a close eye on this?

    Absolutely not!! Who amongst us would think we shouldn't keep a close eye on this?

    Or anything they do?

    These people can't be trusted. Period. We must keep close watch on everything they do no matter how innocuous it may seem.

  •  Get a Clue Please (none)
    Its not that this isn't a serious issue, its that you are being ridiculously naive in a way that is not typical for Daily Kos.

    The Judge ordered that web ads be treated like ads in other media. A blog whose sole purpose is evidently to advocate for a candidate would probably also fall under some limitation on independent expenditure. Anything beyond that is probably unConstitutional.

    The Dems want the ad limits extended to the web, the Republicans don't.

    We will see the Dems pushing for limited regulation that stops blatant large expenditures on behalf of candidates.

    The Repubs want no limits at all. Therefore they will offer regulations which impose draconian limits on free speech which are either not Constitutional or piss off so many people that the law gets changed.

    They must AGREE on something though or the court will force action, so most likely the Democratic version will pass, or the matter will reach an impass and the Court will order a solution probably after considering argument from the stalemated Commissioners.

    NO ONE wants to enact burdensome regulations on sites like Daily Kos. The Republicans are offering that as a bogeyman to try and stop all regulation.

    It is certainly possible that this Kabuki drama will generate regulations that are a real burden on Bloggers as the Dems and Reps on the FEC play chicken against a court imposed deadline so we need to be involved.

    BUT unless you support the Republican view that there should be no limits on spending we need to understand the game they are playing and work constructively to make sure that something workable and Constitutional finally emerges.

    •  wrong (none)
      Paid advertising on web is already covered by FEC. This is about in-kind and coordinated expenditures. The opinion is NOT limited to paid advertising.
      •  Candidate advertising is "regulated" (none)
        In the sense that all direct campaign expenditures are regulated. This is about third party advertising which looks just like print or TV where it is restricted but happens to be on the web - read the opinion, not the Republican spin.
        •  Ok (none)
          then respond to Smith, "She orders us to regulate the Internet, again what I point out is -- it is in no way limited to paid advertising. In fact, it would be contrary to the tone of the opinions limited only to paid advertising. In another part of the opinion, she struck down one of our regulations where we exempted unpaid advertising. So, I, you know, this was, it's - it's in no ways limited to unpaid advertising."
          •  As I read the opinion (none)
            She recognizes that the Internet offers lots of unique challenges, then specifically speaks to advertising which she notes realy isn't much different from other media and says OK, at least do this much.

            The Democrats want sensible rules that as much as possible keep big money out of the game. The Republicans don't. The Dems try and work out a deal which can draw at least some Republican support and pass Constitutional test. The Republicans try and break the deal by adding stuff that people don't want or that won't pass the courts. That's their strategy either nothing or too much. I don't think they really worry much about too much but sometimes when you play chicken you go off the cliff. From what I've seen lately the Republicans don't mind going off a few cliffs.

    •  Pfft (none)
      You contradict yourself in your last sentence.  Face it, you overstated your case few days ago and I had it right all along. Something to watch closely.

      You are not the best crow eater I've seen.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:58:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who should eat crow? (none)
        Do you disagree with my assessment?

        I reacted to all the "Republicans are the good guys" stuff the other day, because it was just wrong, and misses all the maneuvering going on here. Now that the Republicans are the bad guys I feel a little better, but you still haven't made clear what is going on in the main diary.

        There are a hundred comments talking about some sort of DC Dem plot to shut up the Dean web team. You know that is crap.

        By the way you have now posted this twice on the main page, and I gather you are a lawyer- I'll ask again, have you read the judge's opinion? I have, and it sure sounds like she specifically limited her comment on the Internet to advertising, but I'm an economist not an attorney. My big beef is that there is so much heat and so little light on this subject, especially anger directed at Dems on the FEC and one of our most Progressive senators and that is just what the Republicans want. If we can be manipulated so easily on a subject we should be personally familiar with, what are the chances for reality based politics in the broader electorate?

    •  Eco: (none)
      " NO ONE wants to enact burdensome regulations on sites like Daily Kos."

      Dkos is more vulnerable than 99.999% of blogs, both because of bandwidth expenditures, ad because Markos has tagged it as explicitly a "Democratic Party Blog."

      The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

      by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 01:02:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  By virtue (none)
    of such a requirement being easily bypassed, it is a mute point.  On a technicality, the reference is to links.  Listing a URL that cannot be clicked but must be copied can be argued to not constitute a 'link'.  Ignoring that, linking to off shore sites containing links does not violate this type of regulation.  Besides, both parties want supporters to link to thrir sites to spread their propaganda.

    Such an attempt would be unmonitorable and unenforcable, it would also constitue an infringement upon free speech, which even the comatose nut cases on the Supreme Court would have to uphold.

    I wouldn't sweat this one.  Although both the Demons and Repugs would like to stiffle criticism of their attempts to inflict good deeds upon us all, this one will fade away quickly, just like the Gannon non-story of several weeks ago.

  •  This would be sticky to enforce. (none)
     Maybe I didn't donate $20.06 to Dean because Markos said so - maybe I did so because I read a comment from Page. Or from Armando. Or from Carnacki. Or from (insert one of 40k commenters here). How could they track that - individual investigation of every single $20.06 contribution?

     Unenforceable is the word that best fits this case.

    If he really thinks we're the devil, then let's send him to Hell!

    by Anderson Republican on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:03:49 AM PST

  •  I see no way (none)
    that this passes free-speech challenges.  Not that we shouldn't be on alert.

    I think we can be heartened by the fact that the GOP's very fear of the blogs indicates that they feel our side is winning the battle of the internets.

    News is what powerful people don't want you to hear. Everything else is publicity.-Bill Moyers

    by jazzmaniac on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:11:27 AM PST

  •  I have a question? (none)
    Do people at least agree that Judge Kollar-Kottely made the correct decision that the Internet should not be exempt from all campaign finance regulations?

    Or do you beleive that I should be able to coordinate with a candidate and dump millions of dollars into Internet attack ads?

    There is no doubt that deciding on exactly how to regulate the 'net can be tricky, but it is equally clear that some sort of regulation is required.

    •  Haven't studied closely (none)
      but I think she was wrong actuawlly - the law exempted the Internet, whether she liked it or not.

      "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

      by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:19:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  MattR (none)
        You misstate the issue - paid advertising is already subject to disclosure and spending limits on the Internet.

        And no, she didn't get this one right, but that's not the point anymore, unforatunately.

      •  Two Separate Questions (none)
        1.  Whether the judge's opinion was correct as a matter of existing law.

        2.  How future FEC rulemaking should now treat the internet and fill the gap.
        •  #2 (none)
          is what we have to worry about. #1 is a moot issue. The time to appeal has passed. Law of the case now.

          "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

          by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:26:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  #1 (none)
            May be moot.  But I think the answer to this question is important to understand where people are coming from.  When I posed my original question, I did not mean it from a legal perspective.  I was more interested in whether people beleived that the Internet should be subject to the same regulations as other media.  The answer to that question will definitely drive what regulatins they feel are fair.
            •  Agreed n/t (none)

              "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

              by Armando on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 11:35:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I have to dig this up (none)
              But there's something wierd here. The commission approved the internet exemption 4-2 (1 dem, 3 gop) but deadlocked on appealing the judge's order overturning that very exemption. I have to look up to see which Dem changed tune.
              •  If there is (none)
                any one who can make sense out of the political activities in this or any country, I take my hat off to you.

                The most common thought I encounter is  "What are they thinking now?  Are they thinking at all?  How much is this boondoggle going to cost me?"  Seems to be a most pervasive interpretation of politics.

                Boy how I wish we had one house of Demons and one of Repugs!  When they fight each other they inflict less harm upon the rest of us.

  •  To be expected (none)
    Since that bastion of neoconservative propaganda, The Weekly Standard, has posted two articles on DailyKos here and here, both basically saying that the liberals have a stronger blogosphere, and considering that Dems tend to have a more net-savvy constituency, Rethug thinking may be that the Internet political activity hurts them more than it helps.

    They will stop at nothing to shut down dissent.

    •  This (none)
      is the dream of the Demons and Repubs.  It always has been.

      But now, if we can address the Mullas of the Supreme Court, rather than the games the parties play, we might get somewhere.

      Yea or Nay
      Either way
      When the vote is taken
      The people pay

  •  Concerned, but we have to clean up our own act fir (none)
    I'm very concerned about the effects that having the FEC regulate political speech via blogging would have on free speech. It just opens up a whole can of worms. But...(& I apoligize if anyone in this thread has already posted about this) we political bloggers have to get our own act together in terms of transparency if we don't want Big Bro' FEC breathing down our necks. Most of us are aware of the incredibly sordid, sleazy tale of pro-Thune bloggers who basically attempted to terrorize the S. Dakota major newspaper with a constant smear campaign both against the paper, its coverage of the Thune-Daschle campaign & Daschle in particular. 9 bloggers presented a united front in this campaign & 2 were paid substantial sums by Thune & never acknolwedged it until way late in the process. Back over at my blog I've suggested an informal set of standards that political bloggers should follow whereby they should tell their viewers every & any connection they have with political campaigns (whether they're paid, unpaid but coordinating w. campaigns, etc.). I don't like what the FEC is considering but if we don't do something about the Thuneite bloggers of this world, then we really have no one to blame but ourselves.
  •  Nothing's changed (none)
    Armando says:

    Looks to me that it is the GOP Commissioners who are eager to regulate Internet political activity. So, does anybody think we don't need to keep a close eye on this?

    Nothing's changed from a couple days ago.

    The Dems still want sensible regulation, the GOPers are still talking their scary over-regulation talk in order to kill sensible regulation, and all y'alls are still falling for the GOPers scam tactics.

    What needs monitoring is the levrohemiblogosphere's tendency to imitate lemmings.

    As I said before, you can never lose if you remember Rule #1 of Dem Strategy for Dummies:  

    If Repubs say we're making a mistake, we're on the right track.

  •  The right wing fascists (none)
    in our country don't believe in govt intervention when it comes to big business, racism, bigotry, hate crimes, civil rights etc, but when it comes to privacy in the bedroom between consenting adults, and free speech (internet), that is fertile territory for rules and regulations to take peoples rights away, boy its nice to live in a democracy isn't it, SAY WHAT!!!
    PEACE!
  •  rhetoric post (none)
    Not sure what it accomplishes either... yea I am, nothing usefull but muddying the picture.

    As I posted earlier, Don't listen to the ones saying the proposed regulation of internet activities isn't a big deal, or that this is only about Republicans that want to dismantle CFR. They are wrong.

    •  The more I read (none)
      The more your arguments parallel those of other non-Internet influence groups.  It sounds like you have realized that you have influence over politicians and you don't want to give it up.  And it is not just you.  Many of the posts against the FEC regulating blogs seem to be more concerned with how the rulings would affect them, rather than whether the regulations are right or wrong.
  •  What's next, Town Meetings? (none)
    My God, what if one person at a town meeting has an opinion and is capable of convincing her neighbors?  Should't the FCC consider that a campaign contribution?

    Sometimes you've just gotta throw the shoe and call a spade a MFing Liar! Yeeeeeeeearrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhh!

    by TeresaInPa on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 04:16:00 PM PST

  •  I am sorry BUT ... (none)
    to be honest I think that this is at least ONE issue the bloggers on both sides of the aisle should come together on.  To me that means we should avoid trying to politicize the whole issue by pointing fingers across the cyber-aisle.

    But given that you have chosen to do so, and having read the article your reference I feel compelled to highlight the following excerpts that you have chosen to leave out (all emphasis added by me):

    "It becomes a really complex issue that would strike deep into the heart of the Internet and the bloggers who are writing out there today," said Mr. Smith, who opposed regulating Internet activity when the commission originally addressed it in 2002.

    It is clear in the article that Mr Smith is a Republican.  Most of the context for the article seems to be bemoaning the fact that when they appealed the court's ruling they did not appeal the Internet portions, and hence they cannot see how they can now ignore the ruling which explicitly asks the FEC to address Internet activity.  See the following:

    After the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law was passed in March 2002, the F.E.C., which is in charge of its enforcement, issued extensive rules to accommodate the law's provisions, including a blanket exemption for all Internet activity. But a federal judge ruled last year that many of the F.E.C. rules were too lax and specifically asked it to address the question of Internet activity.

    and

    The six-member commission is divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans; their vote not to appeal the part of the judge's ruling dealing with Internet activity broke along party lines, with Democrats voting not to appeal.

    So you can say what you want, but at least as far as appealing the ruling went it seems the Republicans were in favor of fighting it whereas the Democrats chose to let it stand (and thus forced the FEC into a position to have the address it somehow).

    I think that you have to take the all of these comments (Republican OR Democrat) as being within the context of having to respond to the court order in some way.  It seems clear in the article that the Republicans have both opposed such regulation in the past AND would have preferred to appeal the decision now, but given the lack of such appeal (presumably due to the votes of the Democrats) they simply intend to address the substance of the court order with some amount of due diligence (would you expect less of them under the circumstances?).

    So, please, in the future lets all try to band together to try and keep the government out of the blogosphere regulation business.

    Just my $0.02.

    •  The ruling would stand (none)
      The Campaign finance statute directs the FEC to draft rules for the Internet. The Judge orders the FEC to comply with the Statute. Once rules are drafted, they may be challenged under the 1st Amendment, or overturned by the Congress.

      Smith's over the top examples, and his choice of McCullaugh, with his the audience of 1st Amendment absolutists, for 1st release are not coincidences.

      He's hoping full debate will lead to minimalist rules. That he gets to knock the already upheld sections of McCain/Feingold is gravy.

      The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

      by ben masel on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 06:01:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  PS (none)
    Does anyone know who the judge on this case was and who appointed them?
  •  You Are Seriously Being PLAYED! (none)
    This interpretation is simply not correct. The Republican commissioners do not WANT to regulate blogs, nor do they say they want to regulate blogs. What they, particulary Smith, want, is to undermine all regulation. They want you and others to BELIEVE that the law gives them no choice but to regulate blogs, and thereby you and all the Kossacks and all the comparable constituencies will be mobilized to join their side of a partisan debate about campaign finance regulation.

    Please do not let yourself be played. The law does not require any sort of regulation of bloggers, period. At the very most, the FEC is being asked to promulgate regulations for advertising on the internet that is closely coordinated with a campaign. In other words, if you form a committee that buys a lot of pop-up ads on popular sites running the George Bush message, should that be treated in the same way as if you bought a lot of TV ads? Obviously, that's an imporant question for them to answer.

    If you want to join Brad Smith's anti-regulatory crusade, fine. But don't expect anyone to listen when you complain about what a scoundrel Tom DeLay is. Because these laws are the only thing that hold him and his corporate sponsors back.

    See my own posts about this at:
    Could the Daschle v. Thune Blog Be Regulated

    and Will the FEC Ban Blogs?"

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