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Remember two weeks ago, when we were all excited that the the FEC decided blogs could be just as entitled to the same press exception from campaign finance laws as are the New York Times, National Review and Sean Hannity?

Well, hold on.  Because in a concurring opinion issued today, two FEC commissioners indicated a desire to put severe constraints on how sites like this one operate.

I'll explain why in detail, after the jump:

There are basically two ways the FEC can decide on who gets the press exception.  The FEC majority (two Republicans, one Democrat) essentially said that as long as you're generally engaged in news stories, commentary and editorial, that's the end of the inquiry, adding:

The Commission notes that an entity otherwise eligible for the press exception would not lose its eligibility merely because of a lack of objectivity in a news story, commentary, or editorial, even if the news story, commentary, or editorial expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for Federal office. See First General Counsel's Report, MUR 5440 (CBS Broadcasting, Inc.) ("Even seemingly biased stories or commentary by a press entity can fall within the media exemption.")

For Commissioners Thomas and McDonald (both Democrats), however, the inquiry is a much more fact-specific one, that would go deeply into what the "major purpose" of the site is.  Remember our continuing tussle with Reps. Shays and Meehan over whether bloggers might be forced to file as political committees?  We are right to be scared, as Thomas and McDonald explain:

The facts presented in this matter also raise the concern that Fired Up may cross over into political committee status. The Act defines a "political committee" as "any committee, club, association or other group of persons" that receives contributions "or makes expenditures aggregating in excess of $1,000 a calendar year."  The terms "contribution" and "expenditure" are defined to reach funds given or paid "for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office." On its face, this term "political committee" would even reach a law firm that makes a single $2,000 contribution to a federal candidate. In construing the statutory definition of "political committee," however, the Supreme Court has held the term only includes an organization "under the control of a candidate or the major purpose of which is the nomination or election of a candidate."  Later, in FEC v. MCFL, the Court affirmed this limiting construction of the term "political committee" when it clarified that "should MCFL's independent spending become so extensive that the organization's major purpose may be regarded as campaign activity, the [organization] would be classified as a political committee. . . .As such, it would automatically be subject to the obligations and restrictions applicable to those groups whose primary objective is to influence political campaigns."
(Emphasis mine).  And what might reveal a site's "major purpose" as being campaign activity and not press activity?  These two Commissioner would look at facts like these:

Fired Up indicated that it "intends to endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of Democratic candidates for federal, state, and local office." ... Moreover, the request states that its web site "contains links to Democratic and progressive organizations." Id. (emphasis added). The request indicates that Fired Up "intends aggressively to support progressive candidates and causes at all levels." Id. at 7. Indeed, the launch of Fired Up and its role in Democratic politics has been described this way:

[Jean] Carnahan is returning to politics--not on the ballot but on the Internet. She and longtime Democratic operative Roy Temple have launched a new Web initiative called  Carnahan said the site would include an interactive blog of Democratic commentary (former Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton is among the first featured pundits). The site is also seeking to sign up 10,000 Democratic loyalists who are "fired up and fighting back," she added.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (March 7, 2005)(emphasis added). At this point, though, we can see no indication from Fired Up's activities that its major purpose has been other than to conduct the dissemination of news and commentary over the Internet.

All those italics are theirs, not mine.  In other words, these Commissioners have indicated that they believe a site that gets too partisan will have to file with the FEC.  Fired Up isn't there yet, they indicate, but it could be.  As could others -- like this one, clearly.

For those who were wondering why we're so virulently opposed to H.R. 4194, the Shays-Meehan internet bill, you see it here.  People engaged in online politics should not have to worry about having to submit themselves to a fact-intensive "major purpose" test to determine if their website has to register and file as a political committee.  Arguably, this opinion provides powerful ammunition for those who prefer H.R. 1606, which would provide more of a blanket exemption to speech online.

This concurrence also heightens the need to get behind Reps. Brad Miller and John Conyers on H.R. 4389, which would make clear Congress' stong desire to protect Internet speech broadly under the press exception.

Finally, it suggests we need to be vigilant when it comes to current vacancies on the FEC.  Reps. Shays and Meehan and Sens. McCain and Feingold have urged the appointment of commissioners who could turn the FEC into "a real enforcement agency", suggesting the reappointment of Commissioner Thomas specifically, so when the hearings do come up, it's worth asking potential FEC commissioners -- what kind of enforcement should bloggers be subject to?

I'm happy to try and answer any questions.  Congress comes back from recess next week, and they may well attempt something before year's end.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:04 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why wouldn't Fox News (4.00)
    fall afoul of these restrictions? Shouldn't Fox file as a PAC?
    •  Well . . . (none)
      . . . the argument would be that it's clear as to FoxNews that it's in the (biased, but that's okay) news dissemination and commentary business first, and aren't as concerned with who gets elected as, say, this site would be.
      •  Not so sure (3.80)
        If this site has a clear agenda as to specifically who should get elected, I have yet to see it. If we're united about anything, it's who should not get elected.

        Somebody tell me, exactly who is this site officially endorsing anyway? And how is it "official"? If Markos endorses someone, does that mean that's the view of

        And don't newspapers endorse candidates anyway?

        "Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right." - Salvor Hardin

        by Zackpunk on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:47:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well.... (none)
        Maybe you can make an argument here:

        news dissemination and commentary business first, and aren't as concerned with who gets elected as, say, this site would be.

        But I think it's pretty clear fox IS concerned with who gets elected.

      •  They ARE concerned with who gets elected (4.00)
        They even plant false stories, about a Kerry manicure, etc. They're trying to elect Republicans.
      •  I call b.s. (none)
        Fox is very clear on who it prefers. You don't need a crystal ball to figure out where they are coming from. WHEN IS THE LAST TIME THEY GAVE ANY INDICATION OF SUPPORTING ANYBODY OTHER THAN A RETHUG ?

        Fair and balanced my ass ! Just because they don't put links to R candidates on their website doesn't mean they don't spend 24/7 promoting that cause.

        Let's get some Democracy for America

        by murphy on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:21:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Contributions (none)
          Does dkos accept contributions? I honestly don't know. Ostensibly Fox does not accept PAC-like contributions, even though obviously biased toward one party. Dkos and Fox both accept advertising, but I don't know if that makes both arms of the press. We seem to be (mostly) biased toward one party, but not one candidate. In trying to isolate factors, it would seem that political contributions may be more important than bias or opinion. Is that what you think, Adam? If we don't accept much in the way of contributions, it might be a good move to clarify that we don't accept them at all and try to preserve our free speech.

          "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

          by martyc35 on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:46:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obviously . . . (none)
            . . . this site accepts advertising, from candidates and PACs, as does Fox.  When Markos performed consulting work for a campaign in the past, he voluntarily disclosed it in a box on the front page of the site.

            I don't know how you'd distinguish "contributions" from "advertising".

            •  You would distinguish contributions (none)
              from advertising the same way the press does. You refuse to accept contributions onsite, while providing URLs to sites that do collect. The newspapers and TV stations do this right now, in their news articles/programs.
            •  Really? (none)
              You don't know how you'd distinguish contributions from advertising?  Did you give money to buy an ad?  That's a purchase.  Buying an ad -- you have something to show for your dollars.  That's advertising.  

              Did you give money and get a subscription?  That would be services  such as an ad-free environment.  That's pretty clearly a purchase.  

              Did you give money and get nothing in return?  That would be a contribution.  

              Really, I'm not being patronizing, but I pretty much respect your opinion, so I am really wondering where the legal confusion would be.  I must be missing something important because it seems pretty cut and dried to me.

              The chips are down. Find your outrage.

              by sj on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 10:47:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Contributions vs. "Contributions" (none)
                I was speaking in the legal sense of the term "contributions" -- as having to do with money received from a regulated political entity.  I wasn't talking about money generally.

                If a campaign gives money to this site, regardless of whether it receives anything in return, that has to be disclosed to the FEC under current law.  Nothing about that will or should change.

                •  okay... (none)
                  ... I didn't realize you were talking about specifically about campaign contributions/expenditures.  That makes total sense.  But I read the original comment to be talking about funds received from private citizens or other members of the public.

                  So I guess I'm still confused.  That's okay.  Still lots to learn here.

                  The chips are down. Find your outrage.

                  by sj on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 11:30:18 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I could be wrong, (none)
              But I make contributions to the Dem Party, ACLU, etc., and they are not tax deductible. Advertising is a deductible business expense (not nec. 100%) for any corporation or business when it's going out, and an income asset when it is coming in. I was talking about political contributions, such as the kind accepted by political PACs, specifically to support a particular candidate, party, or issue. As a corporation, dkos should have no problem in accepting or paying for advertising (same with Fox, CBS, WaPo, and other media outlets). But for any corporation, it is now illegal to directly accept or make contributions supporting a particular candidate; that is why the big corporations pressure their employees to make individual contributions and then pass those along to candidates' campaign funds (which often go to lobbyists). Such pressure on employees must not be provable coercion, though. But the CEO or Board Chairman of any corporation may openly exercise his/her constitutional right to free expression (may endorse a particular candidate or party). So no matter what our stated bias may be, we have to keep the books straight for the IRS: no direct political contributions from the corporation to any candidate, and I think that means we should not be directly accepting PAC money from candidates' campaigns, either. A good lawyer should be able to argue to the FEC that dkos has more in common with Fox than it has in common with a PAC. And wouldn't that be ironic?

              "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

              by martyc35 on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 10:51:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  one glitch (none)
                I don't know that there's anything that restricts a corporation from receiving money from a campaign, though it's of course illegal for it to give.

                What this site wants is to be treated under the same press exception that governs FoxNews and the Washington Post.

                •  Of course (none)
                  there's not anything prohibiting a corporation from receiving money from a campaign--otherwise, how would a campaign make advertising buys, hire direct mail people, etc.?
                •  Receiving money (none)
                  I looked at the FEC regs, but I am not a lawyer, so I'm not positive I understand all of this, but it appears that the media corp. (Kos Media, LLC) can (of course) accept payments for advertising and this corp., being a membership corp., may accept contributions from members, as defined in the law. It's a little different from the standard corp. or labor union, and here is the wording I found:
                  "4. Membership Organizations: Solicitable Personnel Restricted Class of Membership Organization

                  "A membership organization or its SSF may solicit its restricted class at any time.  The restricted class includes: * Noncorporate members (such as individuals and partnerships) of the organization; * The organization's executive and administrative personnel; and * The families of both groups. 114.7(a). A member may be solicited only if the following two requirements are met: * The organization qualifies as a membership organization, as defined below; and * Its members qualify as members, as defined below."

                  Now, I doubt that dailykos accepts contributions from political campaign PACs, but if it does, I think that may be illegal. As pointed out elsewhere, why not just take advertising and contributions from members, preserve the media status, and get a good lawyer? I'll bet Markos has already done that.

                  "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

                  by martyc35 on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 12:05:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  No (4.00)
      Because Republicans are making the laws.
      They are only worded with the appearance of impartiality as a quaint formality which we may yet see abandoned along with all the real niceties.

      9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

      by NewDirection on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:08:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ironically (4.00)
        On this one, it's the Republicans who are on our side, and the Democrats on the Commission (and in Congress, generally) who are nervous about broad speech freedom.
        •  Conyers gets it... (4.00)
          ...but the establishment Democrats don't listen that much to him, alas.
        •  Seems to me that (4.00)
          this fact alone should be sufficient to demonstrate that we aren't totally partisan, and so shouldn't qualify as a PAC... ;-)

          Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth. -- Henrik Ibsen

          by mik on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:19:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well... (none)
            "partisan" is not a necessity of a PAC.  There are many, many, PACs that give to people on both sides of the aisle based on their stances on issues, though there are a substantial number that are "Democrats Only" or "Republicans Only" either in description or in effect.  The big issue to me is coordination, which I think can raise some legitimate issues.
        •  Sure (none)
          I was unaware of that but... I am not a democratic partisan. I wouldn't agree with the Republican Party on anything these days because I feel they will be a serious threat for the rest of my lifetime, but I have a number of concerns about the Democratic Party too.

          Basically, we see in the Republican Party what rough beast can enter through the door... the door which all of our politicians, media, and powerful, had a hand in opening.

          Neo-liberalism believes that regulation is not only the way in which the world should be shaped, but that it is always a good thing. It's a fundamental philosophical problem, I think. And I also think politicians (and activists) who think that they are pragmatic and have only the simplest, most non-partisan principles, are the ones most likely to be indoctrinated so deeply into a philosophy that they don't even know it.

          9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

          by NewDirection on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:22:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  There are two differences between Fox and dKos (none)
      i. Fox does not accept contributions onsite.
      2. Fox news articles are not reality-based.
      If Markos' company declares this site an online newspaper (and offsites contrib collections) the FEC will leave us alone, not because they want to but because they have to. See my post, elsewhere in this thread, about turning the community into a first-Amendment-protected newspaper.
      The off-siting of contribs and the declaration of news-organ status are the only changes Markos would have to make.
      •  CORRECTION: #1 is n/a (none)
        So, besides the reality thingy, the other difference is that Rupert M claims to be a news vendor, and Marcos G doesn't.
        Hey, Markos, 71,000+ Americans citizens of the planet declare you a news publisher! Claim your well-earned title.
  •  What about non-profits (none)
    that do single and multi-issue lobbying work?
  •  it's amusing (4.00)
    these Commissioners have indicated that they believe a site that gets too partisan will have to file with the FEC.

    to think of the Comissioners sifting through the 'Vichy Dem' posts that ultimately may need to be offered up as evidence that the site is not too partisan.

  •  This Is The Spin-Doctor's Frankenstein Monster (none)
    ...The assertion that a strong opinion is partisanship.
    Republicans still don't get it.
    We're not being partisans.
    We're being sane and trying to do what is necessary to literally save the world, whereas they are insane bastards.

    It's not six on the one hand, half dozen on the other. It's not partisanship.

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:06:37 AM PST

    •  Well, we ARE partisan (4.00)
      dKos is an unabashedly partisan Democratic site.

      The notion that this somehow disqualifies the site from a media exemption is a can of worms.

      I've got blisters on my fingers!

      by Elwood Dowd on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:17:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You see the problem. (none)
        Add to that the fact that this site is incorporated, and the restrictions that exist on corporate involvement in politics....
        •  And the unintended consequences (none)
          Partisanship continues with a fig leaf. Each site adopts a Zell Miller from the other party to maintain a veneer of bi-partisanship. Attacks are launched on particular politicians without mentioning their party affiliation.

          Political discourse becomes less honest and transparent.

          I've got blisters on my fingers!

          by Elwood Dowd on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:27:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not so, imho (none)
            In my opinion "political discourse becomes less honest and transparent" are entirely their intended consequences. This free speech thing is making a lot of Dems nervous as well. The blogs and investigations by bloggers are pretty much the only source of real news at this point and it's damned hard for the powers that be on both sides of the aisle to bring it under control without broad legislative edicts that might shut much of it down. Don't imagine for a moment that establishment types, either Repubocrats or Democlicans, like blogs and free speech. It's truly not in their best self-interest for us to know what reality is, especially when we can cross-check and prove what it is not.
        •  Ah... (none)
          ...So the site is a corporation.

          And yet the community is not. I say that the content posted on this site can no more be regulated by describing that content as Dkos the corporation, than could Mead notebooks, or MS Word, be the auspice under which what is written on them is regulated.

          9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

          by NewDirection on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:30:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not quite... (none)
            The site itself is owned and operated by a corporation, which allows relatively free access thereto to post and comment.  Saying "the site is a corporation" is a bit of an over-simplification.  (Though useful for making people's heads explode who think corporations are by definition evil.)
      •  So Fox and World Net Daily are OK... (none)
        ...and DKos is not?

        Do the dummies pushing this understand what's wrong here?

        I know, I know:  They fear a big ol' well-funded blog by Halliburton.  But guess what:  Those righty blogs swimming in subsidies already exist -- and they're losing market share and have been for over a year now.  Nobody outside of corporate media types and Congress takes them seriously any more.

      •  Furthermore... (4.00)
        ...The notion that individuals, and we are all individuals here not members of any organization, can be treated like a corporation just because we happen to associate with one another here, is wrong.

        There is no "DKos" really. There is Kos, some servers and software and help, and there is us: A lot of individuals who receive no recompense, take no orders from anyone, and do not even have any agreed agenda, really. You and Kos can say we are Democratic partisans but as I recall that didn't stop plenty of people here from promoting and voting for Michael Bloomberg, and by the same token whatever is said of him, John McCain always does distressingly well in presidential polls here.

        9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

        by NewDirection on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:27:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder... (none)
        How dKos users break down in terms of political party? I myself am a Green, not a Dem, but like the site because of its progressive tone. I bet we have a good number of Greens, Independents and other here.

        I know that Kos defines it as a Democratic site, but the users are more diverse, and their input makes up a huge part of the site. DKos is essentially a progressive discussion forum, where lots of topics are explored by a variety of participants, rather than being an organ which follows a narrow Democratic agenda.

        Renewable energy is homeland security!

        by lil bird on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:22:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which is exactly why we are (none)
          a deadly danger to Democratic [read DLC] Commissioners at the FEC. The GOP Commissioners want us around, because they know that we are mostly a threat to the GOP-lite types who presently control the Democratic Party [including the Dem members of the FEC].
          •  Huh? (none)
            This has nothing, NOTHING to do with the DLC.
            •  You forget... (none)
              that "DLC" does not mean (around here) "Democratic Leadership Coalition."  It means "people who identify as Democrats with whom I disagree."  Not everything the DLC says is bad (IMHO), nor is every idea with which I disagree advocated by the DLC.
            •  It has EVERYTHING to do with the (none)
              people who currently run our Democratic Party. They are the DLC. Where did the Democratic Commissioners who are pushing blog control come from? They aren't from the netroots. They weren't recommended to the prezinut by Dean or Conyers. They were recommended by the DLC controllers of the Democratic Party, who lead our caucuses in Congress.
              •  actually, no. (none)
                Both Thomas and McDonald have been FEC commissioners since the Reagan administration, prior to the DLC's existence (in McDonald's case) and certainly prior to its having any influence.
                •  Well, that pretty well negates my response (none)
                  to another of your posts to me on this issue [the one with clips from The Campaign Legal Center's website].
                  It also demands a sincere apology, from me to you, for wasting your time by not looking up that elementary fact before shooting off my uninformed mouth. Please forgive my stupidity.

                  I still think the FEC problem could disappear if they were hit with a our-blogs-are-officially-news-organs coup. I'm probably wrong about that too. Let me close by saying that a country which keeps the same unelected election commissioners for 17+ years is ripe for revolution. I would look up the law which makes such a farce possible, but why bother? A law which permits semi-permanent election commissions isn't intended to reform the election process. It puts me in mind of the fact that the first-named co-author of McCain-Feingold was one of the Keating Five.

      •  Unabashedly Partisan (none)
        publications abound: The Weekly Standard, for one, and it has media exemption.

        Partisan publications don't have to align themselves with one political party. They may be left, right, Demo, Repub, progressive, neocon, conservative, etc. Some have even been socialist or communist. Oops, I think the McCarthy era succeeded in killing the American communist newspaper, The Daily Worker, but tons of way left stuff is still out there.

        When I scroll to the bottom of this page, it says [copyright] 2005, Kos Media, LLC. I believe we may already have media exemption.

        "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

        by martyc35 on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 09:59:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The busybody party. (4.00)
    When you get too cold they'll tax your heat, if you want to walk they'll tax your feet, if you drive a car they'll tax the street, if you want to blog they'll tax your seat

    Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

    by AnthonySF on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:13:00 AM PST

  •  The magic A (none)
    I think you've less to worry about then you think

    Lets review the Supreme Court's definition:

     the Supreme Court has held the term only includes an organization "under the control of a candidate or the major purpose of which is the nomination or election of a candidate."

    Now those "A"'s are of critical importance.  The Mean, and rightly so in my opinion that a Blog where a candidate directly controls the content of the blog, or a blog almost entirely devoted to the election of One specific Candidate that spends more than $1k needs to register.  And this seems about right to me.  A blog dedicated to the election of a particular person is, in many ways part of his campaign.  

    Now Conversely a blog Devoted to the election of Democrats or Progressives generally would Not satisfy the Supreme Court's definition  and be entirely unregulated. The defintion said "a" candidate not  Candidates Plural.

    Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

    by Magorn on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:22:57 AM PST

    •  Except, that's not really the law. (none)
      You can be a multi-candidate political committee.  And as Thomas/McDonald drop in a footnote:

      "Based upon Buckley and FEC v. MCFL, the Commission has stated that "[w]hen determining if an entity should be treated as a political committee, . . . the standard used is whether an organization's major purpose is campaign activity; that is, making payments or donations to influence any election to public office." Advisory Opinion 1996-13, Fed. Elec. Camp. Fin. Guide (CCH) ¶ 6199 (emphasis added)."

      Do you really want a bunch of college kids who put $1000 together to establish a "Penn State for Kerry" website to have to file with the FEC?

  •  Release the hounds! (none)
    Have any attorneys taken a prospective look at where this might go and what constitutional avenues might be available for a challenge? I'd be curious to read some legal arguments on how this is shaping up. Ultimately, this remains a First Amendment issue, it seems to me.
    •  The diarist is an attorney, (none)
      and he helped draft the dkos request for an exemption. The entire McCain-Fiengold act is an exercise in speech restrictions. There are some(like me) who think the whole thing should be axed. This I would support.

      I will not get behind piecemeal efforts to carve out limited exemptions for the lucky few.

      Daily Kos is the worst form of liberal web-site, except for all the others that have been tried.-Roy Solomon(paraphrasing Winston Churchill)

      by roysol on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:41:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The question is... (none)
    ...what is the test?  Will they consider only front-page postings, which (hate to say it) are overwhelmingly partisan (though still primarily devoted to news analysis)?  Or will diaries come into play as well?  Diaries tend to be mostly about news items, and often are non-political (i.e. concerned with science, history, or non-reported items in the news).  And do recommended diaries bear more weight than ANY diary?

    I think since dKos is relatively unique among the high-traffic blogs in that we do allow diaries, it will be a sticky exception that needs to be closely scrutinized.

    I, for one, even though I am virunlently anti-Bush, and progressive, wouldn't necessarily say I'm always pro-Democratic party.  And the major reason I come to this site is to get the news analysis you just can't get anywhere else.  It's more about truth vs. propaganda for me.  If this blog were just like the left-wing equivalent of Powerline or something, I wouldn't bother with it.

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

    by viget on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:29:10 AM PST

    •  there are two problems (none)
      Obviously, there's the question of passing such a test -- but realize that the chilling effect comes with even submitting (or threatening to submit) websites to such tests.  If the FEC decides to investigate your site (or a complaint is lodged), you'll need to lawyer up just to present your case...
    •  Do the numbers (none)
      I doubt your assertion that front page posts are mostly partisan. I would guess that the plurality, even majority, are news -- e.g. poll results.

      I've got blisters on my fingers!

      by Elwood Dowd on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:35:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Useless. (none)
    NOBODY can protect the blog, not regulations, not self ndulging politicians. Sleasy politicians come and go and they will futz around with anything to gain their advantage. And the truth and free flow information are one of them.

    The only things that can protect the blog is technological solution. The blog has to use a system where the law cannot touch it without destroying things that isusefull to larger corporatins first (eg. phone company, silicon industry, etc)

    Trying to seek legal solution, is only delaying the inevitable.

    Technological solution folks. That is the only answer. You think Bush/GOP or democrat even won't ever adopt what the chinese government did to bloggers/web sites? (physical firewall and nationwide filter)

    mark my word, they will. There is no such thing as first amendment on the net, only technological moves and counter moves.

  •  The Internet is Worldwide, Just Move Offshore (none)
    If the government tries to fuck with us, then the simple solution is to move DailyKos offshore to a country that has no laws such as may be enacted.

    If there is no way to stop porn or gambling, then they sure as shit won't be able to stop sites such as this one.

    I volunteer to go to the Cayman Islands or some other beautiful place to help get things set up. Maybe we could all become part owners and then any time we take a trip to this destination, we could write it off our taxes. Now we're talking!

    •  Offshore (none)
      Since everything else in America is being shipped offshore, blogs should go too. Just tell me where to send my money to buy my share of DailyKOS so I, too, can write off my vacations like the big boys.
    •  Good point (none)
      In the digital age, without massive intrusion, it seems pretty impossible to stop a community like Kos.

      And that's good I guess... lord knows the powerful use this strategy to fist fuck the rest of us everyday.

      U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1998 it was 1:418.

      by Lode Runner on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:21:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The FEC should be more concerned with (none)
    the fact that our votes are counted in secret, by highly partisan private corporations, that won't share their secret software. Secret software that is extremely "buggy" and prone to "glitches" that almost universally favor the party of the voting machine corporate executives.

    How about Secretaries of State that are also the Chairmen of the B-C '04 re-selection campaign?

    Who would watch a football game where one team's head coach is also the lead umpire? That would, of course, be absurd, but for our election process, it's A-OK!

    I Supported the War When I Believed the Lies

    by bejammin075 on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:35:52 AM PST

  •  Logical Thug move is to Kill Blogs / Internet (4.00)
    who wants people having the freedom to associate, the freedom to speak, the freedom to petition for redress of grievance?  

    maybe we need a law to protect us?


    Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

    by rmdSeaBos on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:39:26 AM PST

    •  From thuigs such thuggery is can be expected (none)
      what about the DLC?
      •  LAST thing DLC needs is people (none)
        being able to organize without their approval.

        if that happened, there might be candidates they don't approve of !!

        if that happened, they might have to come up with stratergery for killing of competition other than whisper campaigns with media shills about "electability" !!

        if that happened, they might lose some important job for one of their living large ineffective pig buddies, like terry mcaulliffe !!

        if that happened, people might be able to select "leaders" who work for them instead of the fat cats in DC !!

        whew ... people being able to organize themselves ... the thought is horrifying !!


        Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

        by rmdSeaBos on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:01:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Let me see if I can understand (4.00)
    It is OK for corporations and other groups to hire K Street Lobbyists to buy off congressmen with campaign contributions from made up for the purpose organizations but some blogger can run afoul of campaign financing if his site is a little too partisan?

    Politics as usual.  No wonder congressional democrats are not benefitting from the current republican ethics violations.  It is all so Alice in Wonderland.

  •  George Will hits on this in Newsweek: (4.00)
    Of course he throws the idea that all liberals are for regulation, which is rediculous.  But for what it's worth:

    Free Speech Under Siege

    When writing regulations to implement McCain-Feingold, the Federal Election Commission in 2002 declined to bring Internet political speech, meaning bloggers, under the metastasizing federal apparatus of speech regulation. McCain-Feingold does not mention the Internet when listing forms of "public communication" (e.g., mailings, billboards) the FEC should regulate. But unregulated speech is an affront to today's liberalism. And a federal judge with an interesting theory of liberty—that whatever Congress does not specifically exempt from regulation should be regulated—decided that the FEC's exempting the Internet from regulation is impermissible because Congress was silent on the subject. She ordered the FEC to write regulations. This, even though Internet communication is limitless, virtually cost-free and, hence, wonderfully anarchic.

    So Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a 48-year-old Texan, tried riding to the rescue. Hensarling is a Republican, which means next to nothing nowadays, but also a libertarian, which means he believes, as Republicans once did, in limited government. He proposed the Online Freedom of Speech Act, to exclude blogs, e-mails and some other Internet communications from federal regulation. He got 55 percent of the House votes, but two thirds were needed to get expedited action. The speech rationers, a.k.a. the "reform community"—abetted by much of the unregulated mainstream media, which advocate regulating rivals—will redouble their efforts to clamp the government's grip on the Internet, and require bloggers to hire lawyers.

  •  When the law is wrong, break it (none)
    We should definitely try to fight this as we have been doing, but if the FEC passes this anyway, it changes nothing.  The FEC can not supercede the 1st amendment of the constitution, and I for one will not be censored.  Hell, if dailykos has to be hosted by a company in Russia just so we can have free speech (very ironic) it can be done.  As Howard Rheingold says, "The Internet reacts to censorship as damage, and routes around it."  There is no way that the FEC can win this, as long as we are willing to stick to our principles.  The right-wing blogs are just as against this as we are, and this is a bi-partisan grassroots issue.  The FEC and the rest of the government are our employees, and they MUST do what we tell them.  If not, they get fired.
  •  DailyKos needs a Republican Alan Colmes (4.00)
    Just one token rethug as a regular contributor to avoid the appearance of being completly one-sided.
    •  I'll do it! (none)
      Hi, I'm the Gryffin, and I'm here to tell you I'm a dKos Republican that believes in all the good things that America has coming to it because of the GOP's deeply moral and Christian-based beliefs.

      Now excuse me while I go lynch a nigger.

      (Is this convincing enough, or should I have thrown in something about raping twelve-year-old boys in secret prisons?)

      The revolution is ongoing.

      by The Gryffin on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 10:14:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Aww, Histo, man, (none)
        I'm an eeevil Republican, see? Doncha get it? For the greater good of dKos?

        Man, haven't I laid down enough edgy-yet-laughable daily snark around here to get some love from y'all? No?


        The revolution is ongoing.

        by The Gryffin on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 12:46:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're suggesting that Markos (none)
      change the nature of his site to avoid FEC strictures. First, that would not work in the long run; the FEC would find a counter. Second, he would destroy what he has "birthed." Thousands would leave. Thousands more wouldn't show up. there is another solution. I've posted on it, elsewhere in this thread [sorry, don't know how to link to my other post].
    •  Omigawd (none)
      Does this mean brunette Katrina at The Nation will have to share her seat with a (shall remain nameless) blonde Republican? Ouch.

      O'Reilly gets equal time at the Rolling Stone? Yuck.

      Time for plan B. I'm leaving for Canada--again.

      "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

      by martyc35 on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 10:18:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What they're doing (none)
    is trying to get around the Constitutional ban on abridgement of press by making their own determination over what constitutes "the press".  I wonder about the constitutionality of their self-appointed right to do this.

    I have no doubt that this entire matter will end up with the SCOTUS.

    Pack your bags, we're leaving/Earth, where hate is seething/nothing's worth believing. There's no time, make up your mind. Imperial Zeppelin!

    by Splicer on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:56:38 AM PST

  •  I guess I'll have to be the contrarian (none)
    I guess I'll have to be the contrarian

    I don't see what's wrong w/ the below standard.  Popular blogs that receive donations could easily become avenues for publishing candidate propaganda and that purpose could be tied to the sources of their contributions.  

    Why is it so unthinkable (impossible to imagine) that blogs can be co-opted and corrupted by political campaigns just like every form of media can be?  Why should we suggest that we are somehow immune?  Simply because we don't want to submit paperwork to the FEC?

    I don't get the objection of most of you here.  Can you explain it further?

    "In construing the statutory definition of "political committee," however, the Supreme Court has held the term only includes an organization "under the control of a candidate or the major purpose of which is the nomination or election of a candidate."  Later, in FEC v. MCFL, the Court affirmed this limiting construction of the term "political committee" when it clarified that "should MCFL's independent spending become so extensive that the organization's major purpose may be regarded as campaign activity, the [organization] would be classified as a political committee. . . .As such, it would automatically be subject to the obligations and restrictions applicable to those groups whose primary objective is to influence political campaigns."

    Dana Garrett

    by Dana Garrett on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 08:58:39 AM PST

    •  If Blogs can be co-oped what about Fox News? (none)
      The point is not that some blog won't be co-opted, but that an exemption is given to corporate broadcast and print media, but not to blogs.  The big differences between a blog like the DailyKos and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal are the cost of publication and the potential for immediate user feedback.  Both can be (and are) highly partisan. Both are highly partisan inorder to attract a targetted demographic.  

      In the case of the DailyKos, and unlike one direction dissemination of the Wall Street Journal, users actively participate in conversations about the issues of the day.

      Tell me why should Fox News (a traditional media outlet) get an exemption and the DailyKos not?

    •  Sure, there will be propaganda blogs (none)
      There are whole propaganda TV networks (Fox).

      Blogs, like other media, are not immune to corruption and propaganda.

      But, even with that caveat...

      We need free speech.

      I Supported the War When I Believed the Lies

      by bejammin075 on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:10:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure what you mean, exactly. (none)
      1.  If candidates advertise on a site, they have to disclose such payments.  If they pay bloggers directly, they do as well.  (See, e.g., the "Thune bloggers".)

      2.  The question is whether obligations should fall on the sites themselves as well as the candidates, when they don't in other media.  CNN doesn't need to file with the FEC to detail every ad dollar spent by a candidate on a station.  Bloggers seek equal treatment, not special treatment.

      3.  Under the Thomas/McDonald argument, this site and others like it might have voluminous filing and disclosure requirements, plus face the threat of complaint and investigation based on perceived failures to file.  For example, should Markos have to file with the FEC to indicate the amount of the "in-kind contribution" made every time a federal candidate posts here, based on the "size" of the post and the volume of page-views reached?
      •  But the staffer diaries are a concern (none)
        This week (and typically any given week), we've had several posted diaries from staffers, like the communcations guy from Hackett's campaign, for example.  Although his personal kos-page does disclose his job title when you dig around, his diary did NOT explicitly mention his affiliation. A casual reader wouldn't know about it and might be unduly influenced by what seems like an unbiased opinion from a community member, In contrast, consider Crystal from Kennedy's office, who posts often, but who is always up front about her staff affiliation. There's no way to misconstrue her goals and agenda.

        We get campaign-oriented communications (candidate/staffer diaries) aimed at potential constituents and/or supporters all the time here.  It's free, it's occasionally effective, but are candidates expected to report their use of what amounts to free online media time? I don't think so. It's different from their buying time in conventional media or purchasing online ads; there are opportunities for future abuse of this mechanism. This audience self-selects; candidates would otherwise be spending money to find such highly targetted groups for their communications. It's too tempting for them not to jump the shark.

        So far, it's my opinion that candidates' use of personal diaries hasn't been particularly abusive here, due in large part to spontaneous enforcement of community standards. However, we can't rely on this site's (or any other site's) community standards to police candidate behavior.  I agree that the onus of ethical standards in the use of online media should squarely be placed on the candidates and their staff, NOT the blogs.  However, it's unrealistic to assume that politicians won't seize on such tempting anonymous opportunities for outreach if they're not regulated in some way.

        "Our attitude was- the revolution can't start until we find our hair gel." Joe Strummer

        by histopresto on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:56:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the closest parallel (none)
          There was an FEC enforcement action a few years ago when a California talk radio station let B-1 Bob Dornan guest-host while he was starting to run for Congress again.  Majority of the FEC says, basically, "The talk radio station is legitimate media, engaging in news and commentary.  We're not even going to look at who the host is."  It's little different from a newspaper running commentaries from candidates on their op-ed pages.

          You're absolutely right that it should be up to us to enforce ethical standards of disclosure.  If we do, the FEC won't see the need to.

          •  The irony is... (none)
            ...that the Democratic FEC folks worry about a "Halliburton blog" -- a right-wing blog that's got tons of money behind it -- when the fact is that heavily-subsidized right-wing blogs already exist and are losing market share and overall readership even as the lefty side of the blogosphere grows by leaps and bounds.

            DKos, all by itself, is bigger than the top ten con blogs that get the vast majority of con readers.

            But the nimnulls haven't figured this out.

          •  There should be more explicit standards (none)
            We've got to head off this threat, because the coming election cycle is going to be brutal.  Candidates, elected officials and their staff should be REQUIRED to routinely disclose their identity when they post here (diaries or comments). Many do so of their own volition now (through UID or sig line). That's both ethical and prudent. Beyond that, it protects us from trollish behavior by poseurs.

            However, it's my fear that if Kos and other political blog-hosts don't establish such a community disclosure requirement, some silly staffer is going to go so far over the line that it's going to drag the blogs squarely into the sights of an FEC hit squad.  They will either be dumb enough to outright commit slander, or stupid enough to depend on an anonymous UID to protect them across various sites. If we don't set boundaries, they're going to go off into an ethical wilderness and drag us along with them.

            "Our attitude was- the revolution can't start until we find our hair gel." Joe Strummer

            by histopresto on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 11:48:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Further, I'm confused re: indiv. contris and blogs (none)
        Perhaps I misunderstand this, but I don't get why, if it's an individual contributing through a blog ad to a campaign, that the blog should be credited with contributing the money.

        I'm not an employee of DailyKos.... Is my registration to be seen as a membership?

        ~~This is Aaron G. Stock~~ (My Public Email is altered. Swap "g-ma-il" and "ace-pumpk-in", then remove dashes to email me.)

        by Ace Pumpkin on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 10:00:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Op-Ed Contributors (none)
        " For example, should Markos have to file with the FEC to indicate the amount of the "in-kind contribution" made every time a federal candidate posts here, based on the "size" of the post and the volume of page-views reached?"

        Statements contributed by candidates or campaign staffers could easily be treated as op-ed opinion pieces. Wouldn't it have been great for dkos to have run Joseph Wilson's op-ed piece here instead of in the NYT? Why not? I mean that as a rhetorical question. And anyone sending in a news report could be a member of this news outlet or a free-lance stringer, as in all the other news businesses.

        Also, Adam, do you seriously think the FEC's regulatory turf will extend to global perimeters? I belong to a news/chat e-mail group organized by a couple of crazy people who are bicycling around the world. China is currently regulating their speech, but I don't think the FEC could touch them, even though they do sometimes talk about American politics or even elections. Remember the Europe-based "We're Sorry" photo file after November 2004? People from all over the world contributed to that. I'd like to see the FEC stick its regulatory nose into that one. Am I missing something? I believe that W thinks he rules the world, but I don't believe the world agrees with him.

        "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

        by martyc35 on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 10:41:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Okay (none)
          These things would count as op-ed pieces only if this site crosses the preliminary threshhold of being treated as "press" -- otherwise, it's a political committee (or corporation) providing free advertising space for a campaign.

          On the jurisdictional issue, it's something we've raised before the FEC.

          •  Thanks (none)
            "On the jurisdictional issue, it's something we've raised before the FEC."

            Good, because it's beginning to look like that is your strongest point--I hope.

            "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

            by martyc35 on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 01:29:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  well... (none)
              ...what we said was, and you can read it here in full, ah, hell, here it is:
              Anonymity, Futility, and the Problem of Enforcement

              The architecture of the Internet is such that enforcement of regulations on all of the proposed areas might be quite difficult, even futile, and the FEC should be aware of the ways in which certain of its efforts might be evaded. Almost all of these proposed regulations have the potential to drive bloggers "underground" in order to avoid potential complaints. Unlike other media, the Internet allows for unprecedented levels of anonymity, in a way largely impossible to track down to an individual - especially not within the time it would take to rectify campaign abuses in any meaningful way.

              Cost-free blogging tools allow anyone to blog in complete anonymity, as both Black and Moulitsas did when they first began. More sophisticated sites can be set up in overseas servers beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement. Free email addresses can be set up via services such as Hotmail, Yahoo or Google to enable communication without surrendering one's identity or location. Nor need one's identity be revealed to have credence in this world: given that the blogosphere is a near-meritocracy, people's work is judged by the content of their writing and not their real-world characteristics. All three of us interact daily with fellow bloggers whose actual names, ages, occupations and locations are a complete mystery.

              In an over-regulated environment, bloggers would be able to avoid legal headaches and expenses by either returning to (or remaining in) the realm of anonymity. The vast majority of bloggers have neither the legal expertise nor the resources to deal effectively with frivolous or partisan- otivated complaints to the FEC. Given the ease of maintaining one's identity a secret, the choice won't be a difficult one. This is especially going to be the case if any kind of FEC-related liability is attached to the postings by others on one's site, as it will be impossible for us to police every item posted.

              Therefore, if a blogger plans on or fears of running afoul of the regulations - whether through nondisclosure of ties to campaigns or other means -- then there is no doubt that anonymity would provide the only technological shield needed to bypass the regulations.

              As such, it will be those bloggers who post under their real names who will bear the brunt of the regulations, not those truly seeking to use the medium in nefarious ways. Given the highly charged partisan atmosphere we operate under, we have little doubt that - unless given full and clear protection from these regulations - we will someday be bombarded with multiple frivolous complaints in order to distract us from our work or outright shut us down.

              In short, those who blog honestly will face the brunt of frivolous complaints, while
              those who seek to violate the rules can avoid any repercussions by remaining anonymous.
              The FEC must therefore focus its regulations on those entities which can actually be regulated - the sophisticated candidates, parties, PACs and other regulated entities which cannot hide

              •  Well, that rates (none)
                a PG-13, I guess. You are right, of course, but I think the FEC needs to have its nose rubbed in its jurisdiction again. Federal Elections of the United States, right? Regulating the global Internet, wrong. You pointed out that internet bloggers can run and hide, but I think you need to emphasize to the FEC that it has no jurisdiction where the international internet is concerned.
                Maybe Jerome a Paris has an opinion on that:-).

                "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

                by martyc35 on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 02:15:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Never gonna happen... (none)
    ...rush the lush and all those goons won't let it happen...
    •  Why would Rush stop it? (none)
      Or anybody else in the traditional media for that matter.  I have read that the blogs are really hurting traditional media.  Every advertizing dollar paid to the DailyKos is a dollar not going to the New York Times or CBS. Multiply that across the web and you can understand why the traditional media are not terribly upset. They have their exemption. Denying a press exemption to blogs not tied to traditional media is in the best interests of the traditional media.
  •  I am NOT a PAC (none)
    I am one of 70,000 voices sharing political information and opinion on a website that provides the means for such sharing. I am not a Democrat (nor Republican), yet I am welcomed here.

    To my way of thinking, this site is nothing more than a technologically advanced, real-time Opinion section of an electronic newspaper. The "Editorial Board" picks and publishes feature opinion articles, and the rest of us publish LTEs and responses to LTEs.

    The only difference is a political blog is a few thousand times faster than a newspaper and of relatively unlimited space, allowing for a fuller expression of ideas from countless more individuals.

    -6.63 -5.64

    I am I and you are you, and we are both each other too -- Clair Huffaker

    by xysrl on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:17:37 AM PST

    •  I'm stupid, (none)
      but how is this site different that meeting a bunch of your buddies and talking about what a dick Candidate So-And-so is?

      If it hinges on the technology making it easier for people to communicate over long distances, why aren't conference calls subject to the same rules?

      The revolution is ongoing.

      by The Gryffin on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 10:19:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't give a shit what the FEC (none)
    or Democratic/Republican Congressmen want to do with blogs.

    Fuck them. Fuck em all. We'll do what we want, when we want, for whoever we want online...

    they can eat shit and die if they want to fuck with that.

    The fact is they simply don't get to tell us what we are in an online community.

    Fuck the FEC. I don't give a damn what they think or legislate.

    If they can't or won't stop child porn or mp3/movie downloads on the net, I'd like to see them try to stop blogs.

    It's really so pathetically transparent how Dems and Repugs alike are so terrified by actual political control by the People.

    Fuck Congress and the FEC. I'd like to see them try to stop blogs.

    Bring it on you fucking corporate bitches.

    U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1998 it was 1:418.

    by Lode Runner on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:31:07 AM PST

    •  Conyers does get it (none)
      ...but too many of his colleagues don't.

      They fear a "Halliburton blog", a blog with millions poured into it.  But millions are already poured into the right-wing blogosphere -- and its readership is declining even as the started-on-a-shoestring lefty blogosphere outgrows it.  (Right now, there are between twice and three times as many lefty bloger readers as there are righty ones.  And we're still growing.)

    •  Probably another incarnation (none)
      I don't want to send anyone off planning Doomsday Solutions, but Markos is the one that gets bit on the ass if his corporation's site breaks some sort of new regulations.

      His exposure to legal action would have to be taken into account and DKos might have to undergo a rebirth of sorts -- I have no idea if, legally, that would require a name change or just a server change -- but I agree that there would be no way to kill the community itself.

      I think of this place as a well-researched editorial sheet, with real-time feedback.  Just because it provides info and opinions on various politicians and issues, doesn't mean I've contracted to vote for them.

      •  agreed... (none)
        Once Kos is in prison... what then?



        Actually I like Armando... and normally agree with him. I'm on his side... but the name isn't that catchy.

        U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1998 it was 1:418.

        by Lode Runner on Fri Dec 02, 2005 at 12:00:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is the ugly flip-side (none)
    to having the government regulate political speech.

    I know I'll catch hell for saying this, but political speech should not be regulated by the government.

    Let's face it: the government is hardly a disinterested party! They're a part of any fraud perpetrated on the American voter. The person who accepts a bribe is as much a criminal as he who offers it.

    I know, I know: the idea is to keep the nation's wealthy and powerful from dominating the political process. Maybe I'm cynical but I don't think it's working. I think the fat cats pretty much do as they please. I don't think the government could stop them, even if it wanted to (I don't think they want to). Look at the reelection rate of incumbents. They're gonna kill the goose laying those golden eggs?

    But even for those who think it does work, is it worth the price? Giving the government the power to regulate "their" speech also gives them the power to regulate ours. That's far too dangerous and they are far too untrustworthy.

    If I worry about the future, will the future change?--Quai Chang Caine

    by Enjoy Every Sandwich on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 09:58:40 AM PST

  •  There is a simple solution. (none)
    First, a summation of the problem that these Democratic FEC Commissioners see. These Dem Commissioners are DLC types who will never love, help or protect us. They realize that the netroots are their natural enemies. They don't want to lose control of a party which they and their special-interest masters have captured. Blogs like Daily Kos are their only real danger, and they know they will never control us. After all, Markos himself can't control the community he has made possible, not that he wants to.
    The GOP doesn't have this problem; an examination would show that the party leadership ultimately controls their bloggers. In turn, winger bloggers rigidly control their community of commenters. That is why winger blogs are losing market share. Internet users of any political stripe tend to resist control.
    We are never going to have Commissioners who want us to run free, because the very nature of their job [or commission] is all about control. Someone willing to be a Commissioner is, by his/her very nature, a control freak. S/he may fight the impulse but s/he'll always lose.

    There is only one way to get the FEC off the community's back. Markos can declare this site a community newspaper. The only change he would have to make is to not collect donations for specific candidates or the Democratic Party on the site. Nothing would prevent him from allowing news items about candidates or issues, complete with URLs to websites for those issues/candidates. Newspapers, both on and offline, do this right now. And the FEC couldn't touch us.

    •  two things (none)
      1.  This has nothing to do with the Democratic Leadership Council.  Our opponents here are folks like Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center and, sigh, Common Cause.

      2.  There have been a number of reasonable, pro-freedom folks on the FEC, on both sides of the aisle, whether it's former commissioner Brad Smith, current commissioners Michael Toner and David Mason (Republicans) or Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub, who really took this thing seriously and was critical in passing the FiredUp opinion.
      •  If one of your/our foes is (none)
        The Campaign Legal Center, please explain these excerpts
        Washington, D.C. -- In a recent interview with CNET, Federal Election Commissioner Brad Smith claimed that as a result of new campaign laws and and a recent court decision, online news organizations and bloggers may soon wake up to find their activities regulated by government bureaucrats. That would indeed be troubling, if it were true. Fortunately, Mr. Smith - an avowed opponent of most campaign finance regulation - is simply wrong. [snip]
        Mr. Smith's comments are obviously designed to instigate a furor in the blogosphere to pressure Congress to reverse the court decision requiring that paid political ads on the Internet should be treated like any other paid advertisements.
        from a 05/2005 posting on their site.
        I'm not trying to hassle you over this; I am genuinely puzzled by your assertion, since you point out, elsewhere in this thread, that dKos does comply with the reporting laws already.
        I am suspicious of some of Democracy 21's leadership's roots, and suggest that they might merit a close examination, by kossaks equiped to do this. For years, I've been convinced that Common Cause detests the Democratic Party only a little less than they despise the GOP.

        Now that I've asked that sincere question, and expressed those honestly-held opinions, let me [meaning no disrespect] point out a couple of things to you. You are thinking like a lawyer; your opponents are the persons who have expressed an adversarial position, vis a vis your position, in front of the "judge" [the FEC].
        But your putative opponents did not recommend the Commissioners who are making these anti-blog statements which you reported here in your diary. They were recommended by the Democratic leaders in Congress. If you think our Party's Congressional leaders aren't controlled by the DLC, I have a bridge over the Cuyahoga River which I'd like to recommend for your retirement portfolio. And it's fireproof.
        Profmatt to the contrary, not every kossak who talks about the DLC controlling the leaders of our party is a nut, or motivated by personal disagreements with their positions. Some of us are simply reality-based.
        Our last three candidates for POTUS, our Congressional caucus leaders, many Dem senators, and [until Dean] our party's National Chair, were all picked and promulgated by the DLC. I would hope that, even if one agrees with the DLC's positions, a reality-based person would at least recognize the truth of that and acknowledge it openly. I believe that a DLC supporter's unwillingness to admit the reality of the DLC's control of our party indicates a sense of shame, about that control.

        •  I'll answer part of that (none)
          The Campaign Legal Center has made it clear throughout this year that they believe in regulating sites like this one, and have engaged in alarmist tactics regarding any move to provide reasonable accomodations for grassroots internet political activity.  I do not have the time to summarize a year's worth of history for you; keep using Google.

          It is certainly true that on some of these issues we share the same results, if not the same intentions, as those who disfavor campaign finance reform generally.  That's politics for you.

          The DLC does not control our party.  If they did, Lieberman would've done a bit more in the primaries.

  •  how would this be enforceable? I can't see it (none)
    it strikes me as highly unlikely that this could be even remotely enforceable on a medium as dynamic as the Internet. The ease of creating a 'blog', coupled with the anonimity essentially provided unless explicitly declared, and the fact that any given blog's 'popularity' is generally determined purely by the catchiness of the ideas discussed on it, all compell me to wonder how in the hell a bearaucracy like our government could ever conceivably keep up with it.
  •  The real issue... (none)
    is that the democracy spawned by the internet is the greatest threat to the ruling class since the guillotine.  They (worldwide) will make every effort to "control" it. That means shut it down.

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