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I was on the road yesterday, and was unfortunately unable to follow the action of the Online Freedom of Speech Act. But seeing how things panned out (the bill failed), it was definitely one of those days when we in the netroots got a chance to see who believed and supported our medium and who didn't.

Remember, this is legislation that was first proposed by Harry Reid in the Senate. This was the House version of the exact same Reid bill.

I found out that Common Cause, which had given me a personal assurance they would stay out of this fight, wasn't a trustworthy organization whose word I could trust. (In an email explanation to me, they claimed that despite their backstabbing, I had nothing to worry about anyway since this bill was going to pass easily.)

I found that Democrats like Pelosi hid behind a procedural argument -- that the way this bill was introduced prevented any amendments -- when the last thing this simple one-sentence bill needed was to be larded up with amendments. (Pelosi and Waxman's excuses are here, Adam B's perfect response is here.)

I found that "reformer" groups (e.g. Democracy 21) were making calls to hill staff claiming this bill would become a blanket exemption on the internet for all campaign finance laws, even (according to one staffer) suggesting that donors and corporations could circumvent the $2,100 campaign contribution limit if those contributions were made online. All lies, of course. If you want to know what this legislation is really about, read Adam's extensive writings on the issue. ( In short, we just want the same protections afforded to Fox News, Bob Novak, the Washington Times, and the Weekly Standard.)

But rather than dwell on the negative, I'd like to thank those Democrats who didn't fall prey to the fear mongering of the campaign finance groups. These are the Democrats who care about nurturing and protecting our nascent medium from those who'd rather destroy it.

Joe Baca (CA)
John Barrow (GA)
Howard Berman (CA)
Stanford Bishop (GA)
Earl Blumenauer (OR)
Dan Boren (OK)
Rick Boucher (VA)
Sherrod Brown (OH)
Michael Capuano (MA)
Dennis Cardoza (CA)
Ben Chandler (KY)
Lacy Clay (MO)
John Conyers (MI)
Jim Costa (CA)
Bud Cramer (AL)
Henry Cuellar (TX)
Lincoln Davis (TN)
Anna Eshoo (CA)
Chaka Fattah (PA)
Stephanie Herseth (SD)
Mike Honda (CA)
Steny Hoyer (MD)
Patrick Kennedy (RI)
Barbara Lee (CA)
(A special thanks to my local  congresswoman)
Zoe Lofgren (CA)
Jim Matheson (UT)
Cynthia McKinney (GA)
Charlie Melancon (LA)
John Murtha (PA)
Collin Peterson (MN)
Nick Rahall (WV)
Mike Ross (AR)
Tim Ryan (OH)
John Salazar (CO)
Loretta Sanchez (CA)
David Scott (GA)
Jose Serrano (NY)
Adam Smith (WA)
Ted Strickland (OH)
Mike Thompson (CA)
Mark Udall (CO)
Maxine Waters (CA)
Diane Watson (CA)
Lynn Woolsey (CA)
Albert Wynn (MD)

As for those congressman running for higher office:

OH-Gov: Ted Strickland voted for it
OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown voted for it
TN-Sen: Harold Ford voted against it
VT-Sen: Bernie Sanders voted against it

(Hypothetical NJ senate candidates)
NJ-Sen: Bob Menendez didn't vote
NJ-Sen: Frank Pallone voted against it
NJ-Sen: Rob Andrews voted against it

And the DCCC's Rahm Emanuel voted against it.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 02:20 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Pelosi a liability (4.00)
    I think Pelosi is as bad as Biden and Loserman.  No one can count on her to support the base on anything or to get and keep her house in line.  She definately needs to be replaced...............
    •  I wouldn't go that far (none)
      I'm just disappointed in her. On this issue, I just think she listened to the wrong people.
      •  link not working-can anyone explain what is it? (none)
      •  I agree (none)
        I get two things out of this.  First, Democrats have a hard time recognizing assets they can use to win.  Second, this is a symptom of an ongoing problem among Democrats and the left in general: we can't get our damned act together, and too often work against each other.

        Our diversity and free-thinking can be a strength.  But overall, this inability to get on the same page and see the big picture is likely the single biggest reason why we've been losing for the last 30 years.

      •  but it's systemic (none)
        As someone in the other thread showed, Pelosi and Waxman (though good in many areas) are tools of Hollywood.  They voted against this bill because Hollywood hates the Internet and the whole notion of freedom of communication.  It was not for some narrow aspect of the bill, it was the whole notion of removing information sources from corporate control that they are afraid of.  We see open communication as necessary for freedom, while Hollywood sees it as a threat to profits and something to be shut down.  As Dean put it (not about the internet), this is good vs evil, and we're the good.  
        I don't know how we can get Pelosi on our side but it's about the most important thing we can do.  She may well become President in 2007 if we can get rid of Bush and Cheney.
    •  Pelosi against, Hoyer for (none)
      I have always believed that the crap Hoyer takes on this site it undeserved.  He is occasionally bad on a high profile issue (like the bankruptcy bill), but often he's better than Pelosi.  This is another example.
      •  A lot of moderates on that list... (none)
        I agree that Hoyer gets a lot of criticism on this blog -- some warranted, some not so warranted.  He hasn't been with us on everything, but as this vote shows, neither has Pelosi.

        One thing that is interesting about the list of Dems voting for Online Freedom of Speech Act is that many of them are New Dems, Blue Dogs, or other moderates that are often attacked here.  

        Personally, I'm proud to call myself a progressive, but the fact that so many of our so-called friends voted against this thing shows how completely wedded our party is to the entrenched DC interest groups, and how a lot of their 'support' of the netroots is little more than lip service that comes when it's time to fill the campaign coffers.

        The fact is, when the gray hairs that run the DC constituency groups (like Fred Wertheimer at Democracy 21, for example) say jump, a lot of the progressives in the Congress reflexively say how high.  It's a problem that we've talked about -- how we're increasingly a party of constituent groups, rather than a party with a coherent vision about where we want to take this country.

        This is a good piece of legislation, and anyone foolish enough not to see how encouraging the development of Internet technologies can 1) actually reduce the amount of money needed to run a competitive campaign (by creating channels outside of expensive TV advertising to get out a message), and 2) provide the kind of revitalization needed in our party, is miserably short sighted.

        My guess is that many of the moderate Dems are used to voting against the entrenched interest groups, so they had no problem voting against Common Cause and the other groups who are more committed to preserving BCRA as written than actually reforming the electoral process.  The progressives found themselves caught between two constituencies -- the old line groups in Washington, and the blogosphere who is looking towards the future.  And now we know where a lot of our 'friends' stand when it comes down to choosing between us and them.

        Nine times out of ten, voting with the liberal groups is the right thing to do, but this is what happen when you have a party consisting of a cobbled together coalition of constituency groups rather than a party unified around a common vision.

    •  Pelosi a liability (none)
      I don't think Pelosi is a liability because she is a conservative like liberaman (and I disagree that Biden is a liability).  But as Majority leader I think she is a liability because she is not an effective messanger like Newt was for the republicans in '94.  It pains me to watch Pelosi speak because, A) It doesn't seem like there is a whole lot there and B) She doesn't seem to have the ability to convey a message effectively.

      Step aside Pelosi and let someone in there with the personality and speaking skills neccessary to win the house back on '06.

    •  I'm torn ... (none)
      One day, I think she's a rich snob who feigns giving a crap about regular Americans but really just cares about covering her own butt. The next day, I think she stands up and fights for good things for regular Americans.  I wouldn't mind a primary challenger to make her put her beliefs on the line Democrat vs. Democrat.
      •  Primary challenge? (none)
        She's in the goddamn Progressive Caucus.  You can't get much better on the issues than that.  Bernie Sanders, the most leftwing guy in the House, voted against this, I don't see anyone saying we should run a Democrat against him in the Vermont Senate race.
  •  My reps have sure been on the ball lately. (none)
    Byrd, Rockefeller, and Rahall. West Virginia trifecta, baby!

    Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Sometimes they run for President.

    by Sixfortyfive on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 02:29:33 AM PST

    •  I think its important to note... (4.00)
      ...some of the progressive Dems who voted against this:

      • Bernie Sanders
      • Dennis Kucinich
      • Sheila Jackson-Lee
      • Linda Sanchez
      • Barney Frank
      • Kendrick Meek
      • Wendy Wasserman Schultz

      and especially...

      • Maurice Hinchey - Founder of the Future of American Media Caucus
      • George Miller - A pillar of the anti-propaganda movement

      You have to ask yourselves, "Why?" This bill is not ready for passage.
      •  Yes (4.00)
        Because voting against it was the progressive position. This post is full of shit. Anybody who wants to exempt vast stretches of public communications from very reasonable campaign finance laws THAT PROGRESSIVES HAVE FOUGHT FOR FOR YEARS just doesn't understand what the progressive movement is about. DKos included.

        When you start seeing so-called liberals talking about the need to escape "burdensome regulations" and getting chummy with the corporate right, I would hope somebody would wake up and realize what's going on.

        This is anti-progressive, period.

        Reality-based progressive.

        by Pops on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 06:58:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Vichy Dems! (none)
        Kucinich is a Vichy Dem!  Wasserman Schultz is a Vichy Dem!  Pelosi is a Vichy Dem!  Bernie Sanders is a Vichy Independent!  We must purge them all!!!  I DEMAND IDEOLOGICAL PURITY!!!

        I'm kidding.  It's ridiculous to judge a representative based on one vote.  (I think they voted the right way, anyway.)

      •  It's clear (4.00)
        This is one of those cases where the progressive left and the yuppie liberal blogosphere are at odds with one another. Hopefully nobody goes nuts and declares internecine war on allies who are together 90% of the time. Personally, I care a lot more about issues like Iraq, SSI, voting rights, health care, marriage rights and such than about protecting a campaign finance reform loophole just because it favors our guys so far.

        I believe in pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will.

        by pHunbalanced on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 12:37:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting for me (none)
    I thought Collin Peterson(MN), was one of those blue dog Dems.

    "They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program." - G.W. Bush; 11/2/00

    by pilotweed on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 02:33:24 AM PST

  •  So bottom line (none)
    Is this just a card for them to play in the future? Some measure of control over the partisan blogosphere in the event that they need leverage?

    I understand the bill, its intent and the context, but I am somewhat confused as to what the actual motivation to vote "no" is. I'd hate to imagine that they are so clueless as to "play it safe", as it does seem as if their concerns were far-fetched. Then again, look at the current state of government.

    Anyone got a take I will be able to process?


    •  could anyone explain bill-not sure i understand it (none)
      •  fyi-Adams link in diary not working (none)
        •  it's fixed (none)
        •  Rayne nails it, spot on--worth quoting... (none)
          'If the real problem is corporate money buying undue and manipulative influence, doesn't it make more sense to concern ourselves with known problem areas?  What are the media that the most frequent and consistent voters consume?  Newspapers and broadcast, not internet.  What reduces diversity in these media?  Concentration of corporate ownership.  More specifically, what media most influenced the run-up to the Iraq War?  Newspapers and broadcast, not internet.  More specifically, what media most influenced the outcome of the 2002 and 2004 elections?  Newspapers and broadcast, not internet.  

          For these reasons I would like to see more effort spent on 1) reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine in broadcast media, since airwaves are publicly owned; 2) evaluation and possible changes to regulations on media ownership to encourage diversity.'

          Amen to that--spot on!

          •  Bullshit (4.00)
            That argument doesn't work in court -- "I know I broke the law, but look at other people who are breaking the law!"

            Progressives benefit when campaign finance is better regulated. They lose when it is not.

            There is a reason that the most progressive members of Congress oppose DKos and the blog "king makers." The DKos position is reactionary and runs contrary to years of progressive advocacy for better government.

            Look at who you're allying yourselves with on this issue. Real friends of the public interest, huh?

            Reality-based progressive.

            by Pops on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 07:00:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I hear ya-campaign finance in need of great reform (none)
              I hear ya. It's a point well taken. I agree campaign finance abuses are in need of reform and progressive causes and vital progressive voices are important and need to be heard.

              IMHO big money is a big problem and corporate media (and big money global conglomeration) is also in need of great reform--especially since deregulation has eliminated so many previous checks and balances from our broadcast/commercial media and eliminated public interest programming and the fairness doctrine that enabled a more fair arena to be provided for progressive public debate.

              In the absense of that currently, IMHO--with big corporate broadcasters and a concentration of ownership/media conglomeration where progressive voices are absent, censored, freeped or denied--I think the internet, and particularly a site like dkos, provides a valuable, essential arena for progressive voices.  

              Regulating the financial abuses and inequity is desirable, while defending, protecting, preserving essential free speech and open public debate no longer offered by corporate media. My concern is free speech because I think censorship is especially bad and dangerous in our current climate. (For example, I think corporatizing such a progressive public space as an internet blog like dkos with big money and/or constraining free speech and freedom of expression for democratic voices of progressive issues would also be bad.)

              IMHO. Free speech without big money scams and abuse. peace.

      •  Cold in here (none)
        Brrrrr. Chilly.
    •  The reason to vote no... (4.00) because a blanket exemption leaves a gaping loophole through which wealthy media interests, politicians, and partisans can use the Internet to engage in propaganda. Free speech must be reserved for the people, not corporations. The Santa Clara ruling that declared that were persons set the stage for generations of abuses.

      This legislation needs to be carefully drafted so as not to compound those problems with new media.

      •  oops...its late (none)
        ...declared that corporations were persons...
      •  Domination of the Internets (none)
        Yup!  There's a real danger that wealthy PACs and corporations could come in and spend a gazillion dollars and dominate all political communication on the Internets, drowing out all other voices.  Just like Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler have spent a gazillion dollars on their Internets presence and have come to dominate all porn on the Internets.

        Oh.  Wait.   Ummm . . . .

        Progressives encourage dissent to improve society through constructive engagement. Conservatives encourage dissent to identify and silence the traitors.

        by sxwarren on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 04:17:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  just one note (none)
        Corporations are treated differently under campaign finance laws, barred under making expenditures on behalf of federal candidates, under regulations which have been challenged and upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional.
        •  Fair enough... (none)

          • will it hold up with regard to the Internet?
          • what if the corp sets up a sham front group of citizens?
          • what if they don't take a position for or against any candidate? (You know, the old, "Call Rep. Smith and tell him to stop hurting our children," pitch.
          •  response (none)
            There's no reason why I could imagine it not being upheld under the same rationale; what's more, well, if it weren't going to be upheld, then it doesn't much matter what Congress does, does it?  And I'd argue that free speech on the Internet is the best bulwark against such accumulations of wealth.

            2 USC 441 bars "any corporation whatever, or any labor organization, to make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election at which presidential and vice presidential electors or a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, Congress are to be voted for, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held . . ".  They can't spend a dime.

        •  adam (none)
          I am not one for complicated legislation, but the sweeping broadness of this concerns me.  What about internet video conferencing - can campaigns now spend millions on that?  We tend to forget that messages sent across the internet are a growing campaign tool and i'm not sure we want a BLANKET exemption from campaign finance laws.
          •  Here's the thing (none)
            A campaign can spend money on what it wants.  Why it would spend so much on the Internet, when you can speak here so cheaply, baffles me.

            Now, if the question is whether (when HR 1606 passes) a labor union, PAC, state party, etc. could use soft money to pay for these things on a campaign's behalf, Bob Bauer explains that such fears are misplaced.  Basically, there are other regulations still involved, including those which would require hard money spend on everything that went into whatever ultimate went "over the internet".

            Personally, I'd support a bill that closed any potential "soft money" loophole if it also gave broad protections to citizen speech, as I've explained elsewhere.  The Shays-Meehan last-minute substitute bill doesn't do that at all.

  •  damn kos (none)
    you get up this early?!
    I'm just getting home.
    •  I've been staying up late (none)
      working on the book. But now I'm in DC, and its 3 a.m. PT, but 6 a.m. local time. And I'm supposed to "get up" soon for meetings and more work on the book. And I can't fall asleep.

      It's going ot be a long day.

      •  oh man (none)
        I was up late working on a project, now watching the sun come up, while getting ready for bed...but, not too uncommon for my schedule.
        Anyway, hang in there kos, and sock it to 'em! You'll be just fine today, you might be a bit overtired, but we're cheering ya on.
        Looking forward to the book.
        milwaukee, wi
  •  strange bedfellows here (none)
    i see a lot of blue dogs and lefties mixed up here, not sure exactly what the inside baseball of it is. i expect it will take a bit to know what exactly the deal way, but i'm not sure that it pans out simply into pro- and anti- blog votes. i'll be interested to hear sanders' explanation.

    crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

    by wu ming on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 02:52:40 AM PST

    •  Yea, I agree. (none)
      Either the whole story is yet to be told and/or this was a badly organized effort. My lefty rep Jan Schkowsky was not on the for list either.
    •  There's a reason progressives opposed it (none)
      It goes contrary to decades of progressive work to bring greater disclosure and accountability to campaign finance. The blog kingmakers are on the wrong side here.

      Lines like "the FEC doesn't understand blogs" and "all these confused new members will be coming on, oh my" miss the essential point.

      Disclosure and regulation of money in politics is a progressive position. Opposing it is not.

      Reality-based progressive.

      by Pops on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 07:04:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bullshit (none)
        citizen media is the progressive position. Giving legal protections to corporate media and not citizen media is not.
        •  The problem here is... (none)
 do you, in a law, codify the difference between "citizen media" and "corporate media"?

          The answer is: You can't, really.  So, either you allow the big guys the same freedoms the little guys have, or you deny them to both.  I'll allow for that.

          Personally, I'm against McCain/Feingold overall for free speech reasons.  In the end, this site and many like may have to be silenced because of it.  I believe that's unconstitutional, but I don't trust the Supreme Court enough these days to believe they will agree.

          •  if there was way 2 distinguish that would be fair (none)
            corporate conglomerate media is so inequitable and denies so many progressive voices beyond the blogshere, public interest programming and fairness doctrine used to provide some avenue for many progressive noncorporate individual voices; a shame we can't find an equitable solution of some kind that provides for progressive expression.
          •  agreed. free speech=most essential-primary concern (none)
        •  Where exactly did the bill (none)
          separate citizen media from corporate media?

          It didn't seem to me like it did. It seemed like it offered a huge loophole, especially considering the recent campaign contribution action against KVI radio here in Seattle. Yes, that was broadcast - but it didn't have to be. If it were a podcast, it suddenly wouldn't be subject to the same rules, but could be funded and disseminated by the same company.

          by Bensch on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 10:25:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tennessee Mixed Results (none)
    I'm really disappointed in Rep. Harold Ford - he has gotten caught up in rightwing politics and rightwing religion over in Memphis.  I'm not voting for him for the Senate, but will vote for any other candidate who's not a Republican.

    Surprisingly, my own congressman Lincoln Davis showed up in favor - great.  I've chastised him and tormented him assiduously since he was elected on all manner of topics, and he's come around on several in recent months.

    Kos, this wasn't a well-known bill out in the public, and I'm sorry it failed to pass.  I'm afraid it got lost in the noise of the moment in Washington.

  •  Lee (none)
    Barbara Lee rocks, she's great. Pelosi is weak I think, given she represents SF. I know she's a national leader now and has to be 'measured', but even when she was just a standard Rep it was a cautious and finger to the wind style.
  •  disappointed. (none)
    sad state of affairs.

    "Ain't nothin' any more righteous than a reformed whore..." anon.

    by realheathen on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 03:07:15 AM PST

  •  what's with the NJ folks? so what happens now? (none)
    what does it all mean at this point? they're not regulating internet blogs are they? that seems crazy. and if they do is it just regarding money or is it also constraining free speech and expression.

    (sorry, don't mean to sound dense, just wanna be sure i understand since it sounds important. could be my insomnia makin things a bit fuzzy...)

  •  Common Cause and Colorado Dems (none)
    This isn't the first time Common Cause had meddled in the wrong affars. Here in Denver they wanted to take our election commission and replace it with one county clerk and recorder who could be fired at the mayors whim. It failed after public scrutiny and technicalities.

    As far as Colorado Dems are concerned, I'm surprised to see John Salazar voted against it while his brother voted for it. Then there's DeGette, and her vote is a major disappointment because she's usually very progressive. Udall also has some future prospects,  possibly to be Governor in the future.

    All that and Tancredo voted for it?.

  •  The Washington Democratic Establishment (4.00)
    Is still afraid of (1) the Internet, and (2) grassroots.  Darn it.  Being an webmaster I have to say George W. Bush used his website far more effectively than John Kerry ever did (Kerry's was a "gimme mo money" meme), and so establishment Democrats are afraid that Republicans are going to beat them at utilizing the net.

    Secondly, the establishment is still weary of their own base.  They're worried about the grassroots gaining power and forcing the DLC types to do what we want them to do.  I mean look at what the DCCC is already doing in the California 11th CD race.  They have already crowned Steve Filson in the Democratic primary who is a favorite of Congresswoman Ellen Tausher.  This regardless of the fact that Jerry McNerney was the only one with guts to stand up to Pombo in 2004 (otherwise the Democrats were going to give that seat up without a fight), the fact that McNerney has a groundswell of grassroots activist support, and the Democrats in the district has not yet spoken on the 2006 race.

    Why are they doing this?  Because they are afraid of losing their power within the party, and they're worried that it's going to be taken over by, well, by us.  They want us our sweat and our money, but not our voice.  Fuck that.  They have got to stop doing this.

    •  exactly! (none)
      They want us our sweat and our money, but not our voice.  Fuck that.  They have got to stop doing this.

      And we have to stop letting them do it.

      That's one of the things we are trying to do with YearlyKos. We want to let our officials know that the progressive blogosphere ATM comes with a service charge. We expect service to the causes that are important to us, not just lipservice in pitch for cash.

      And we have to do the work necessary to make sure our voices are not ignored. It's up to us, and we can't keep waiting on the leaders to lead. We have to create the world we want.

  •  Still not sure of their concerns but dems seems to (none)
    have screwed themselves here. I want and answer on what they are scared of regarding this. Are they afraid of a right wing take over of the blogs good luck.. Money does not do it alone if it did you would have more traffic on conservative blogs. Makes little difference at this point the shays version seems weak..

    Lots of people see the world in Black and White. It is mostly just shades of grey.

    by Davinci on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 03:21:14 AM PST

  •  Bernie Sanders voted against (4.00)
    If Bernie voted against it, I am not inclined simply to accept Kos' or anyone else's representation that the nay-voters are simply against on-line democracy.  Does someone have any info on Sanders' reasons?  It's worth listening to his voice.

    "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

    by scorponic on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 03:29:48 AM PST

  •  I wish you could see both sides of this... (4.00)
    ...a little bit. There are good reasons to seek protection from wealthy and entrenched media interests. There does need to be some debate on this. Even Adam cited these in his response:

    • how would you protect group websites from being characterized as political committees?
    • how would you protect incorporated sites?
    • will you allow internet sites to qualify for the press exemption?  Under what circumstances?
    • what about volunteer activity, and the "safe harbor" rules for computer use in the office?
    • what about internet uses that aren't weblogs, like wikis or podcasting?

    If there is not some kind of oversight, the same big media conglomerates that dominate conventional news, will dominate new media. Take a look at who already owns the top online news sites:

    That's 9 out of 11 owned by the Corporate Media.

    Sensible legislation can protect us from the wealthy special interests and still preserve free speech. Like Pelosi said, "These goals are not mutually exclusive..."

    I don't think you and I disagree about the necessity of keeping blogs free, but it seems that you do not respect the very real danger that the old, yet still rich and powerful, media and their political bedfellows represent.

    •  Confused (none)
      Um, if I read it right, Adam brought those up to the people arguing an alternative.

      Really, think about it--the Internet is an immensely free medium. Regular people can publish, report, and disseminate their views. Do you honestly believe that if a web site--that was involved in politics at all--raised money for what ever purpose, bloggers and the probable campaign opponents wouldn't be all over it? Unlike the market in the real world, people online are on an equal footing--so why can't we have the same rights as the powerful media you are afraid of?

      I don't think your fear about a "take over" is rational. The only way corporate powers could really take over the Internet, I believe, is through denying regular people, or "bloggers", free speech rights and hitting them with SLAPPs. Unfortunately, the failed bill would have rectified that problem. (Right?)

      (And really, our campaign finance laws are a joke. The money always gets to where it needs to be.)

      Or maybe I'm just confused.

      •  The corporate powers are ALREADY... (none)
        ...taking over the Internet. Did you see the chart above? I think its naive to believe that we're on equal footing. We are not. Just because everyone can have a blog doesn't mean anyone will pay attention to it.

        For example...

        Maybe we'll win a lot of battles and expose the evil media. But we won't win all of them them and I don't want them to get away with their shit. Most Americans are not as attuned to these matters as the average Kossite. I wrote an item about Radio Ohio, a Clear Channel enterprise, that illustrates how the corporate media can use the Internet to manipulate and decieve. Even after they were outed, the promotion continued and it WAS effective.

        Please don't get me wrong. I'm not against the bill in principle. I just think it needs to be amended to target its protections to real people and  prohibit corporations and politicians from using it to propagandize.

        •  I'm no corporate stooge but... (none)
          corporate powers are not taking over the Internet. Just because they get more hits than a regular blog doesn't mean we aren't on equal footing--not every blog or news site makes it to popularity.

          But, I can guarantee you (Dkos and Indymedia being fine examples) that websites for and by the people do make it, (sometimes with little money or none to start with) and from then, if such a website is participatory, there's nothing that can hush anyone.
          Public participation is integral, that's why it's great that popular blogs encourage public participation. If you look at previous statistics, people outside of this community are tired of the mainstream media and they yearn for a voice they can relate to.

          And of course corporations will use the Internet for nefarious purposes, they use newspapers for that too and will always do it. But this time we're part of the medium. The only problem is regular people don't have the same protections as they do online.

          It's really a question of reliance and alternatives. People will come to us if it's built, and judging by the popularity of blogs, they are. Regulation by the government, in this case, is not the answer. (What major problems were there in 2004?)

          •  I know you're not a corporate stooge. (none)
            I'm sure we mostly agree on the outcomes. But newspapers were not always dominated by corporations. It evolved over time. The emergence of the Interet is a Godsend now that the conventional media is virtually dead (in terms of value). But the corporations will do to the Internet exactly what they did to newspapers, if given the chance.

            I just think we need to be vigilant and not leave it to the chance that we will prevail.

            •  It's not a "chance". (none)
              It's easier to get a computer than a printing press and advertisements. I believe that heavy regulation by the government (which has a lot to loose by such a free medium) would be a nail in the coffin. (Look at China or UAE)

              All I ask is that I have the same rights online that those in power do, if not more. Give that to us, and we can do the rest.

    •  "Top online news sites"? (none)
      Really, I'm not trying to beat on you (I snarked an earlier comment of yours).  You are raising points that are worthy of serious debate.  

      First, it might help your case a bit if you provided a link to the information supporting your claim about "9 of 11 top news sites."  What are the "top 11"?  By what measurement?  Does that "top 11" include Google News?  Does it include DailyKos?  I'm sure I'm not alone in using this site, in part, as a "portal" to other media sites like those of small-market newspapers like the Seattle P-I and the Toledo Blade - which actually gain more exposure through the Internet instead of being dominated.

      Second, if the likes of CNN and MSNBC generate a lot of pageviews for their sites, is it because of the amount of money they've invested directly in their sites, or is it the result of the amount of money they've invested in their "traditional" broadcast media presence (and the number of years that their broadcast media presence has been established) and in advertising directing people to those sites?  I think this is the crucial point in discussing the specifics of the FEC regs.  A candidate or a PAC can spend a gazillion dollars on a website (servers, bandwith, content, graphics, interactivity, etc.) to promote a message (propaganda), but if they don't spend money (hand over fist) promoting the site through traditional broadcast media, they'll likely capture few eyeballs with it.  And such broadcast media expenditures are already covered by other portions of the FEC regs.  And, meanwhile, a site like KOS or Media Matters can capture hundreds of thousands of eyeballs through (no cost) word-of-mouth.

      As I snarkily pointed out earlier (citing Playboy, Penthouse, etc.), the amount of money spent directly on an Internet presence, independent of other expenditures, does not translate into dominance.  All the major oil companies have web sites and yet discussions of bio-diesel and peak oil run rampant on the Internet.  If Exxon poured more money into their web site, does anyone really think it would put a stop to these contrary discussions or somehow drown them out?

      Progressives encourage dissent to improve society through constructive engagement. Conservatives encourage dissent to identify and silence the traitors.

      by sxwarren on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 05:05:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Click on the chart. (none)
        And ask yourself if you are certain that some of the sites you mention about bio-diesel are not actually run by Exxon.

        Am I paranoid? I can't speak for the Exxon suspicion, but I do know there have been sites that presumed to discuss the hazards of smoking, but were actully promoting tobacco. Were they uncovered? Yes. But how many kids got addicted to nicotine before that happened?

        •  There have always been scams (none)
          and misrepresentations that people will fall prey to and these are not exclusively the provenance of the Internet.  But I just can't buy into idea that one message or voice or set of voices, especially misrepresenting something, would be able to dominate the Internet or drown out opposing voices (as is possible in traditional broadcast media) simply through the expenditure of more money on an Internet presence alone.  And I don't believe that HR 1606 does anything to make that possible.

          Progressives encourage dissent to improve society through constructive engagement. Conservatives encourage dissent to identify and silence the traitors.

          by sxwarren on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 06:28:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It doesn't do anything to prevent it, either. (none)
            What's so bad about keeping propagandists from plying their trade? Maybe they won't succeed, but why give them a chance to try? Especially when preventing that doesn't interfere with free speech otherwise.
            •  The purpose of HR 1606 (none)
              is not to "prevent propagandists from plying their trade." Its purpose is to guarantee that political speech on the Internet remains free of arcane and complex regulation.  Its passage would not guarantee any success or even realistic new opportunities for wealthy propagandists.

              As has been said elsewhere, if we really want to take action to control the propagandists, there are plenty of issues regarding corporate ownership of traditional broadcast media to address, and there's always fighting to restore the Fairness Doctrine.

              Progressives encourage dissent to improve society through constructive engagement. Conservatives encourage dissent to identify and silence the traitors.

              by sxwarren on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 07:57:15 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  The ugly side of big government (none)
    shows itself when the defenders of freedom vote to muzzle their own partisans in an effort to hold on to their own power.
  •  Crap (none)
    And I was feeling pretty good about Ford from Tennessee. Now I'm pissed and he's gonna hear from me.

    The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.

    by JenD on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 04:02:24 AM PST

  •  Who Will Control the Internet? (none)
     From Foreign Affairs, November/December 2005

    Summary: Foreign governments want control of the Internet transferred from an American NGO to an international institution. Washington has responded with a Monroe Doctrine for our times, setting the stage for further controversy.

    KENNETH NEIL CUKIER covers technology and regulatory issues for The Economist.


    As historic documents go, the statement issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce on June 30 was low-key even by American standards of informality. No flowery language, no fountain-penned signatures, no Great Seal of the United States -- only 331 words on a single page. But the simplicity of the presentation belied the importance of the content, which was Washington's attempt to settle a crucial problem of twenty-first-century global governance: Who controls the Internet?

    Any network requires some centralized control in order to function. The global phone system, for example, is administered by the world's oldest international treaty organization, the International Telecommunication Union, founded in 1865 and now a part of the UN family. The Internet is different. It is coordinated by a private-sector nonprofit organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which was set up by the United States in 1998 to take over the activities performed for 30 years, amazingly, by a single ponytailed professor in California.

    The controversy over who controls the Internet has simmered in insular technology-policy circles for years and more recently has crept into formal diplomatic talks. Many governments feel that, like the phone network, the Internet should be administered under a multilateral treaty. ICANN, in their view, is an instrument of American hegemony over cyberspace: its private-sector approach favors the United States, Washington retains oversight authority, and its Governmental Advisory Committee, composed of delegates from other nations, has no real powers.

    This discontent finally boiled over at the UN's World Summit on the Information Society, the first phase of which was held in Geneva in December 2003 (the second phase is set for November in Tunis). Brazil and South Africa have criticized the current arrangement, and China has called for the creation of a new international treaty organization. France wants an intergovernmental approach, but one fundamentally based on democratic values.{See Footnote 1} Cuba and Syria have taken advantage of the controversy to poke a finger in Washington's eye, and even Zimbabwe's tyrant, Robert Mugabe, has weighed in, calling the existing system of Internet governance a form of neocolonialism.

    How did such a welcomed technology become the source of such discord? Everyone understands that the Internet is crucial for the functioning of modern economies, societies, and even governments, and everyone has an interest in seeing that it is secure and reliable. But at the same time, many governments are bothered that such a vital resource exists outside their control and, even worse, that it is under the thumb of an already dominant United States. Washington's answer to these concerns -- the Commerce Department's four terse paragraphs, released at the end of June, announcing that the United States plans to retain control of the Internet indefinitely -- was intended as a sort of Monroe Doctrine for our times. It was received abroad with just the anger one would expect, setting the stage for further controversy.


    One of the most cherished myths of cyberspace is that the Internet is totally decentralized and inherently uncontrollable. Like all myths, this one is based on a bit of truth and a heavy dose of wishful thinking. It is true that compared with the century-old telephone system, the Internet is a paragon of deregulation and decentralization. In four critical areas, however, it requires oversight and coordination in order to operate smoothly. Together, these areas constitute the "domain name system" of addresses, with which users navigate the Internet and send e-mail.

    First, there are domain names, such as Somebody must decide who will operate the database of generic names ending with suffixes such as ".com," ".net," ".info," and others (a privilege that promises handsome profits). Also, someone must appoint the operators of two-letter country-code suffixes (such as ".cn," for China).

    Second, there are Internet Protocol numbers, the up-to-12-digit codes, invisible to users, that every machine on the network needs to have in order to be recognized by other machines. Due to a technical decision made when the network was developing in the late 1970s -- in a world speckled with mainframe computers -- the system was set up to accommodate only around four billion potential Internet Protocol numbers, far fewer than are now necessary. Until the Internet is upgraded, accordingly, Internet Protocol numbers must be allocated sparingly -- and carefully, since accidentally duplicating them creates mayhem for routing Internet traffic.

    Third are what are called root servers. Some form of control is needed in the actual machines that make the domain name system work. When users visit Web sites or send e-mail, big computers known as root servers match the domain names with their corresponding Internet Protocol numbers in a matter of milliseconds. The database is the world's most important Rolodex. Yet due to a technical hiccup that occurred when the network was young, there can be only 13 root servers, some of which provide data to mirror sites around the world. As a result, somebody must decide who will operate the root servers and where those operators will be based. Because the system evolved informally, the root servers' administrators are diverse, including NASA, a Dutch nonprofit organization, universities, the U.S. military, and private companies. Today, all told, ten root servers are operated from the United States and one each from Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Tokyo.

    Fourth and finally, there are technical standards that must be formally established and coordinated to ensure the Internet's interoperability. They entail more than just the addressing system and involve everything from how routers send traffic to parameters so that video flows smoothly. Ultimately, the standards let the Internet evolve.

    If all this sounds outrageously technical, that is because it is. And it is the reason why, even after the Internet had become a mass-market medium, most diplomats and foreign policy experts remained largely unaware of these issues. But although the management of the names, numbers, root servers, and standards that constitute the Internet's infrastructure -- what techies call "Internet governance" -- seems nerdy, it can have an important impact on mainstream policy issues. For instance, countries that place restrictions on the types of domain names that can be used effectively hamper free speech. The personal information of registrants of addresses with generic suffixes such as ".com" and ".net" are made publicly available online, which jeopardizes people's privacy. Telecom operators need access to Internet Protocol numbers to deploy services, making them a major asset for companies and an economic interest of countries. Technical standards can be designed either to foster openness or to permit censorship and surveillance. In short, the Internet, before it is physically constructed from routers and cables, is made up of values. And the domain name system is the central chokepoint where control of the Internet can be exercised.

    For most of its history, the Internet has been administered by Woodstock-era American engineers and academics. As a result, the network has embodied the philosophy of that community: a political and economic liberalism led to openness on a technical level. The open infrastructure (with nonproprietary standards that let any network connect to any other, hence the "inter-net") has fostered free expression, low-cost access, and innovation. Its private-sector origins (despite initial federal funding) have made the Internet nonbureaucratic, particularly compared with state-run monopoly telecom carriers. And the fact that the Internet's networks carry streams of data rather than mainly voice calls has kept it outside of the purview of traditional telecom regulators.

    To be sure, the Internet's openness begets big headaches: it is difficult to track spammers, and the system is tremendously vulnerable to hacking. But the open network is like the open society -- crime thrives, but so does creativity. We take for granted that the Internet we enjoy today will continue to have these characteristics, but this is hardly certain. It all depends on who controls the domain name system and what priorities they choose to set.


    Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.

    by DianeA on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 04:05:13 AM PST

  •  I'm Confused! (none)
    Why would anyone vote to restrict Free speech?  And why, if a democrat voted for restricting free speech, would anyone follow.

    Please explain this to me.

    •  Lots of Democrats do all the time (none)
      Hillary and Lieberman, for example, want to restrict speech based on content.

      Feingold wants to restrict political speech.  That was a major portion of McCain/Feingold, and it's the worst thing he has ever done.

      This was a bill to create an exception to McCain/Feingold for Internet-based communications.

  •  Not sure (4.00)
    The internet is as susceptible to negative influences as traditional media.  For all we know, 90% of Kossacks might be paid by democrats to post favorable comments about them.  Now, I dont for a moment believe that this is true right now (though I do see inaccurate talking points of one prominent democratic candidate repeated many times by the same few names).  But if the internet becomes recognized as important, I could easily see blogs becoming mouthpieces of candidates and interest groups hiding behind screen names.

    I have not spent the time to study the ramifications of the proposed bill, but I don't think being blog-friendly necessarily makes it a good thing (sorry Kos).  As others mentioned, if Sanders is against it, I am not going to be for it without long study.

  •  My congressman (none)
    Here's the email I sent to Congressman Lloyd Doggett:

    I am bitterly disappointed with your vote on HR1606.  It makes me wonder if you are out of touch with new technology, and it makes you look old and technophobic.  Since I'm 55 myself, I feel like this reflects badly on all of us who are older.

    Usually I love you, but today you've disappointed me.

    Your constituent,

    (Karen in Austin)

    He travels fastest who travels alone. Speed kills.

    by Wife of Bath on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 04:23:06 AM PST

  •  If Bernie Sanders voted against it . . . (none)
    . . . and so few congresspeople reallies around it, there must have been something wrong with the bill.

    Rather than grumbling and directing disgruntled ire at the party, we should look at the bill and think about what it's problems are.  That way we can structure a bill that might win wider support the next time through.

    The most terrifying verse I know: merrily, merrily, merrily, merrilly, life is but a dream. Joan Didion

    by dbratl on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 04:37:32 AM PST

  •  He who has the money... (none)
    ...signs the checks;
    He who signs the checks makes the rules;
    He who makes the rules has the power;
    He who has the power has the money;
    If this be sin, most politicians serve it.

    Some poetic license taken there but you get the drift. Big Money buys Big campaign ads buys big re-elections. Since only so many can whore themselves out to the oil industry to destroy our environment for political gain at a given time, some have to resot to prostituting themselves to second-rate pimps like the MPAA and the RIAA, both of which are some of the most impressive warriors against freedom and privacy that we face in our country.

    When I picture the shadowy corporate heads of the MPAA, I picture the manager from the Daft Punk animated DVD. The evil cultist one. Yeah, him. The asshole.

    Somebody really needs to tell the White House that "1984" is a cautionary tale, not a political guidebook.

    by jabbausaf on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 04:38:39 AM PST

  •  Wow, I'm disappointed that Tim Bishop (NY 1) (none)
    is not on that list.
  •  w00t! (none)
    Go my guy!  Only one from the Philadelphia caucus, sorry to say, but it's something.

    In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for. As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. -HL Mencken

    by sq1 on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 05:28:28 AM PST

  •  visiting my class! (none)
    Hey Markos,

    I really want to thank you and Jerome for visiting my grad class last night.  It is really informative talking about lawmakers are trying to regulate a medium they don't fully understand.  (or that we really understand the full potential of either.  

    I agree with what you said, while it sound a bit cynical, Congress should wait until there are clear abuses and problems before passing regulations.

    and i hope the loud republicans in the class did annoy you too much!

  •  Sorry Kos (4.00)
    I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one. This was a controversial bill, it should have never been on the suspension calender. Dameocrats should have had the chance to offer amendments.

    This was a Republican bill with 20 minutes of debate time and no right to offer amendments. It should have been killed because of the process.

  •  Republicans opposing this bill (none)
    Charlie Bass (NH)
    Sherwood Boehlert (NY)
    Jeb Bradley (NH)
    Mike Castle (DE)
    Howard Coble (NC)
    Jo Ann Emerson (MO)
    Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)
    Elton Gallegly (CA)
    Wayne Gilchrest (MD)
    Paul Gillmor (OH)
    Joel Hefley (CO)
    Dave Hobson (OH)
    Nancy Johnson (CT)
    Timothy Johnson (IL)
    Mark Kirk (IL)
    Ray LaHood (IL)
    Steven LaTourette (OH)
    Jim Leach (IA)
    Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
    Tom Osborne (NE)
    Mark Petri (WI)
    Todd Platts (PA)
    Jim Ramstad (MN)
    Ralph Regula (OH)
    Jim Saxton (NJ)
    "The Wicked Witch of the East" Jean Schmidt (OH)
    Joe Schwarz (MI)
    Chris Shays (CT)
    Rob Simmons (CT)
    Chris Smith (NJ)
    Mike Turner (OH)
    Fred Upton (MI)
    Dave Walden (OR)
    James Walsh (NY)
    Zach Wamp (TN)
    Curt Weldon (PA)
    Heather Wilson (NM)
    Frank Wolf (VA)

    The bill failed with 225 Ayes and 182 Nays

    "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

    by RBH on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 05:49:07 AM PST

    •  Just Goes To Show You... (none)
      With all the demonizing of the wingnut faction of the GOP that goes on here, some of them are our greatest allies on some issues.

      For example, look at the Congress members who voted for lifting some of the more egregious provisions of the Patriot Act.  The GOP "moderates" who supported us on that issue were few and far between.  

      As infuritating as the likes of Hostettler and Tancredo can be they sometimes wander off the reservation in interesting ways.  Then the next day they do incredibly mean spirited or say something incredibly ignorant.

      So it's hard to know who to root for in today's GOP.
      All the more reason to throw em all out.

    •  Rule Question? (none)
      How does a bill fail when it gets 225 votes in favor of it?  

      I apologize in advance for my ignorance of government.

  •  Kos, get a laptop! (none)
    You were on the road yesterday and so you didn't see . . . man, in your line of work, don't you really need a laptop?
  •  I don't get it... (none)'d think that if Harry Reid supported a bill, it would be a) vetted to a fare-thee-well so that b) ALL the Democrats would line up behind it.  Or are some of the No-Voters just engaging in contrarianism?  "We're not stupid sheep like the GOP Caucus!"  Yeah, and you're also not in power like the GOP Caucus.


    Anyway.  Here's some Good News out of Colorado! (and I'm not talking about the marijuana thang, either).

    •  Chicago alderman once said (none)
      > b) ALL the Democrats would line up behind it.

      As the Chicago alderman is reputed to have once said:  "we weren't given any direction so I voted my conscience".  I suspect that there is genuine disagreement among Congressmembers that crosses party and chamber lines.  I see a 4x4 matrix of possibilities just on the surface, and a real analysis would probably require a multi-dimensional probability tree.  Kos is being a bit deceptive about this being a 1-line bill - note that the 2nd Amendment is only 1 line also!  

      But the fundamental analysis is probably along the lines of, who is comfortable with the current DC power structure, regardless of party?  For good or ill I think that is what drove the votes.


  •  Thank you Ben Chandler! (none)
    My congressman and should have been Governor.  Thank you Paul Patton.

    I hope Chandler runs against McConnel in '08 or Bunning runs screaming out of the Senate screaming, "ants! ants! they're all over me!" He's then forced to resign and Chandler runs for the seat.

    Never have so few taken so much from so many for so long.

    (-6.75, -3.85)

    by mapKY on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 05:59:23 AM PST

  •  They won't cut pork so they can (none)
    Cut food stamps. What makes you think they give a shit about the people in this country.

    Do you know the difference between a General and a Politician.   A General respects that his actions effect thousands, A Politician hopes noone notices his actions, and they effect millions.

    eating popcorn at the end of days

    by Fernando Poo on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 06:28:30 AM PST

  •  My present and former reps rock (none)
    Micheal Capuano is mine now, and Pat Kennedy was mine just before that

    "We bet him 5 dollars he would drown. A bittersweet victory."

    by bnanaman on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 07:04:43 AM PST

  •  BCRA Sunset Clause (none)
    This bill would have a side-effect of adding a sunset clause the the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
  •  Confused (none)
    Kos, I am sorry but your argument doesn't make sense to me.  

    1.  There is nothing in McCain-Feingold that regulates what can actually be said on talk radio, in commercials, on blogs, etc.  That would be a clear violation of free speech and the Supreme Court has ruled time and again in favor of this.  Not even this Supreme Court is likely to change it.

    2.  Contributions on the web.  This may actually be a legitimate issue that bears watching.  Things like the Kos Dozen can be used to bundle contributions to increase influence.  I can easily see interest groups and lobbyists setting up web logs and raising additional $$ for candidates.  They could go in to a member of Congress and say we gave $$ from our PAC plus we raised another $30K through our website.  Vote our way.  This is a clear violation of McCain-Feingold and something that needs to be monitored closely if not regulated today.

    3.  Web advertising by Candidates.  Is this exempt from campaign reporting requirements?  If it is, then it shouldn't be.  THe public has a right to know where money is being spent.  I am sorry if this impacts revenues to these sites but it should not be exempt from reporting laws and limits.

    4.  Workplace restrictions.  Some people may work in an industry where being on a weblog a large portion of the day is part of the day.  How would the FEC regulate that?  However, if a person works for an employer who doesn't want their employees on weblogs then they shouldn't be doing it on the employers nickle.  Would most employers would allow you to spend all day on the phone with personal calls?  This is an employer issue and that the FEC could not really regulate it.
    •  quick response (none)
      1.  And we want that same protection.

      2.  Contributions are regulated no matter through what medium, and this bill wouldn't change that.

      3.  Candidates have to report where their money was spent, even if it's on the Internet.  Heck, John Thune's June 2004 FEC filing had the "Thune bloggers" listed under disbursements.

      4.  Here's what we told the FEC on that:
      We recognize that the Commission has concerns regarding the use of corporate/labor
      facilities for political purposes, seeking to revise 11 C.F.R. § 114.9 accordingly to clarify that the prohibition on the use of  corporate/labor facilities also extends to the Internet. However, the majority of our readers surf the Internet, participate on our websites and exchange email from work or at school (many universities are, of course, incorporated). So the proposed one-hour-per-week, four-hours-per-months regulations, if strictly enforced, would basically serve to limit adult participation in political activity on the Internet to the unemployed and self-employed (and

      Let us suggest a different paradigm for work-related regulations: Corporations and labor organizations ought not coerce employees and members into participating in political activity
      while using company resources. Rules can properly prevent them from leveraging their power
      over employees and members into political influence. But voluntary Internet use should be left out of the scope of these rules.

      •  Still Confused (none)
        Your answers seem to confirm what my post which brings me back to why the Internet needs a specific exemption from McCain-Feingold?  I am lost and there seem to be a lot of smart, progressive members of Congress such as Jerry Nadler who didn't support this bill.  Meanwhile Denny Hastert does support it.  I don't get it.
    •  #1 is absolutely wrong (none)
      Under McCain/Feingold, I can not buy an ad (billboard, Internet banner ad, TV commercial, radio commercial, whatever) that said "Vote for John Shmoe" unless I am directly connected to the campaign.  This, in my mind, is a gross violation of the first amendment.
  •  Yeah Mine Voted For It!!! (none)
    John Barrow (GA)
  •  One issue doesn't define "friends" (none)
    I have seen kos argue persuasively that we should not use a single issue (often abortion) to decide who we support politically. (and totally slamming single issue groups who support Replicans- and with good reason). As much we might disagree with stance on this bill, does it really make Pelosi and Waxman not our "friends"?

    "If I am not for myself, who am I? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?" Hillel

    by aurora in canada on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 08:12:17 AM PST

  •  My Rep, Louise Slaughter voted No (none)
    She posts here sometimes.  Let's give her a "warm" welcome the next time she does.

    Not too "warm" mind you.  Just enough so that she knows that this issue is very important to the netroots and that we will be watching the Democratic caucus very closely to see whether they will work to get similar legislation through the committees or whether they will continue to be obstructive.

    •  If Louise Slaughter Voted No (none)
      That tells me this bill was a stinker.  

      The first Amendment ramifications of campaign finance are complex.  There are pros and cons on both sides of this particular debate.  If Louise Slaughter comes down on one side, that holds a lot of weight with me.

      •  Don't get me wrong (none)
        She's one of my favorite members of Congress.  But she's not perfect and it is possible she may have been misinformed on this issue.  

        If she happens to think that this particular bill was imperfect and will work to pass an improved version I'd like to hear her reasoning and her explanation of what the improved version would look like.  And if she opposes the idea on principle, I'd like to know why.

        And I would want to make she is aware of the concerns of people who are nervous about the FEC interfering in political organizing and political speech online.

  •  This bill had more Yes than No votes (none)
    Why did it need two thirds to pass?
  •  I'm emailing my Congresspersons (none)
    in California who supported this with positive emails.  Too often, I'll email when I'm pissed, and this is a good opportunity to let people know that this issue is important.
  •  Setting the record straight (4.00)
    Let's get a few facts straight here when it comes to H.R. 1606, also the bill defeated last night in the House known as the so-called "On-Line Freedom of Speech Act."

    First, this bill had nothing to do with protection of free speech over the Internet. Its purpose - promoted primarily by the House Republican leadership who thirst for more, more, more money in politics - was to poke a gaping hole in the federal campaign finance law. These are the same members of Congress who have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to nickel and dime to death the new ban on corporate and union money in federal elections. In the last three months, they have sponsored the same number of legislative proposals to (i) end the aggregate limit on contributions to political parties; (ii) allow incumbent officeholders to transfer unlimited funds to the parties; and (iii) permit corporate "soft money" on behalf of these officeholders and candidates to flow around the campaign finance law into the Internet.

    Those who believe in disclosure and reasonable limits on money in politics have stuffed these efforts each time.

    Second, no one - absolutely no one - wants to restrict or regulate in any way the blogging community. Blogging has provided citizens with an inexpensive and highly effective means to reach out to the world and communicate, argue and articulate political viewpoints and information. Those, like myself, who believe in reasonable limits and disclosure on money in politics, believe in exactly that: reasonable limits and disclosure of money in politics. Paid advertising on the Internet should be subject to the same disclosure and limits as paid advertising on television and radio.

    Sens. John McCain and Russell Feingold, Reps. Marty Meehan and Christopher Shays, who worked so hard to bring this campaign-finance loophole bill down, have offered their own bill (H.R. 4194) that (i) protects blogging activity from campaign finance laws, and (ii) subjects paid advertising on the Internet to disclosure requirements and the ban on soft money.

    H.R. 1606 was a fraud for monied interests dressed in free speech clothes. May it rest in peace.

    •  Response (none)
      [The poster above is a staffer for Public Citizen, which opposed the bill.]

      I don't want to hit every bad argument expressed above; I just want to focus on one -- the canard that H.R. 4194 "protects blogging activity from campaign finance laws".

      Could you please explain for us, then, whether would be protected under HR 4194, given that your allies in the "reform" community have made clear not just once but twice that a website that has a stated purpose of helping Democrats get elected merits no protection from campaign finance law.

      Then, if you have time, you can explain how HR 4194 would affect the following:

      • how would it protect group websites from being characterized as political committees?
      • what about internet uses that aren't weblogs, like wikis or podcasting?

      But really, it's the first question I'm curious about.
      •  To answer your questions... (none)
        Hello Adam:

        The language of HR 4194 -- the Meehan/Shays alternative to H.R. 1606 -- is a one-sentence bill that clarifies the definition of "public communication" subject to regulation. It reads that public communication "shall not include any communication made over the Internet, other than a communication placed on another person's website for a fee, a communication made by any person described in section 316 (other than a corporation described in such section whose principal purpose is operating a web log), a communication made by a State, district, or local committee of a political party described in section 323(b), or a communication made by any political committee."

        This means that Internet communications by Daily Kos and others -- even if it is express advocacy on the Internet -- does not qualify as a type of activity ("public communication") that would make Daily Kos a political committee. Only the converse is true: if you are a registered political committee (because you spend more than $1,000 on express advocacy or electioneering communications on television, radio or in print, then your communications on the Internet must also be disclosed on your campaign finance reports. If you are not a political committee, which Daily Kos and bloggers are not, then you are unaffected.

        HR 4194 treats Daily Kos the same way that HR 1606 would treat Daily Kos. They both protect bloggers, but HR 4194 would require candidates, parties and political committees to disclose all their campaign activity, including Internet campaign activity. Bloggers stand free and clear.

        •  That makes no sense (none)
          Because DailyKos is published by KosMedia LLC, which your allies would not characterize as "a corporation described in such section whose principal purpose is operating a web log."

          Unless I'm missing something about how this "principal purpose" test would be applied.

          Also, why wouldn't a group blog (such as the Volokh Conspiracy) be forced to register as a political committee, since it has > $1000 in server costs per year and occasionally promotes or opposes federal candidates for election?  

          (See, e.g., the Smith-Taylor colloquy on pp 170-172 from the June FEC hearings.)

          •  Re: Kos Media LLC (none)
            Hello again Adam:

            I did not realize that Daily Kos is a for-profit corporation. The intent of the campaign finance law, dating all the way back to the 1907 Tillman Act, is to prevent for-profit corporations from making expenditures to support or oppose federal candidates. That is indeed the purpose of HR 4914.

            HR 4914, and federal election law, provide a series of exemptions to this law, including exemptions for media and corporations whose primary purpose is operating a web log. Sounds like Kos Media LLC fits this exception. But Boeing Corporation, on the other hand, cannot spend corporate funds to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates. This is called "soft money."

            Regarding real bloggers, such as the Volokh Conspiracy, they are untouched by the law for any of their Internet activity, unless of course the Volokh Conspiracy makes campaign contributions to federal candidates or makes independent expenditures on television, radio or print expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates (and thus becomes a registered political committee). Any Internet activity by the Volokh Conspiracy does not count toward political committee status.

            To repeat: bloggers are free and clear.

            •  Sorry, but you're still flat wrong (none)
              So - tell me, where in that marvelous alternative does it spell out what it means to "operate a web log"?
            •  huh? (none)
              "Any Internet activity by the Volokh Conspiracy does not count toward political committee status."

              I think you're conflating pending rules at the FEC with your bill.

              In the absence of more clarity - why wouldn't hosting fees by a group blog that hit 1K be counted?

            •  please read my previous posts again (none)
              It's great that you claim "Sounds like Kos Media LLC fits this exception."

              It's just that your allies in the reform lobby, in both filed comments on the FiredUp AOR and in its specific references to DailyKos (all linked above), have stated that websites like this would not qualify for the media exemption because they believe such sites' primary purpose is to elect Democrats, and not to function as a media company.  They have made this argument explicitly, and neither you nor I ought to ignore it.

              See the problem?

              Regarding political committees, it's just not that simple.  As you know, the code defines a committee as "any committee, club, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions aggregating in excess of $1,000 or which makes expenditures aggregating in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year."  And, of course, an expenditure includes "anything of value . . . made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office."  This would include an in-kind contribution, such as blogging for free about candidates while allowing others to advertise on your site, plus the costs of maintaining the site itself.

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