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Fred Wertheimer and Democracy 21 is at it again, screaming about the horrors of unregulated blogging. Hopefully, Adam B can write something up on the merits of Fred's rant, but this caught my eye in his letter to every U.S. congressperson:

The Washington lobbying scandal involving Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon has the potential to be the biggest congressional scandal in modern times. At the core of this scandal was the use by Abramoff and Scanlon of campaign contributions, including soft money, and other financial favors to buy influence with members of Congress [...]

This is a time when the House should be acting on legislation to respond to the campaign finance, lobbying and ethics scandals facing the Congress and the nation.

And of course, that legislation means shutting down the internet as a First Amendment zone, accessible to all on an equal footing, whether it's your Aunt Ethel or Jack Abramoff or Haliburton.

But this got me thinking -- is Fred really that concerned about using unregulated money to buy influence in Congress?

Because last time I checked, his letter to every congressperson was an effort to influence Congress. And his organization, Democracy 21, is well financed by unknown interests (organizations and foundations whose donors are not public). So it seems that Fred himself is funded by those seeking to "buy influence with members of Congress"? By his own words, Fred is corrupt and akin to Abramoff. Hence, we should pass legislation that would stiffle Fred's ability to influence members of Congress.

Right?

Indeed, Fred set up a war room inside Rep. Meehan's office to help defeat H.R. 1606, which would've ensure a free and unfettered blogosphere. You fund Democracy 21, you're buying yourself some serious influence in Congress.

Yet for an organization that is obsessed with stiffling Free Speech lest it potentially, sometime in the future, open up the potential of a corporate-funded BLOG (one of 20 million or so), Democracy 21 is sure quiet about its donors on its website. Not a single reference to its donors, nor links to its filings.

Seems kind of hypocritical to me.

That, and he's afraid of free and unfettered free speech.

Nice combination.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:14 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  not hypocritical, but inconsistent perhaps (none)
    wertheimer and CC have an essentially unblemished record trying to clean up the system occasionally, they have to play the game themselves. but their motivations are beyond reproach. you come off as a bit insipid on this, K.

    it is subject to criticism in that it has often been the blogs which have broken many of the corruption stories. they have no theory as to whom will do the MSMs job for them if blogs are curtailed.

    •  Missing the point (4.00)
      Their motive may be above board, but so are many bloggers, particular those of this blog. Yet here we have a person and group who, at their very core, are doing just what they are decrying as potentially damaging, influencing Congress while advocating denying us the same facility.

      I and numerous others (Kos for sure) see the capabilities of the blogsophere as an equalizing force which goes a substantial way towards empowering all of us to influence Congress in ways we see as serving the public interest. This is precisely what a free, self-government people should be able to do, and is at the very heart of the principles of our national founding.

      cheers,

      Mitch Gore

      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

      by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:54:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely agreed. (none)
        This is akin to one's using his position in Congress to help Congress become irrelevant.

        That Democracy 21 is doing exactly what it is criticizing is patently clear.  The reason for their actions is likely that that they recognize that, by its very nature, this medium is friendlier to their opponents  than their preferred media -- media which may or may not be among those unnamed donors.

        What is unclear is whether big media interests are funding this assault on blogs.  If so, Democracy 21's campaign is not a case of one blog undoing the blog in general, but more akin to the "kicking out the ladder" syndrome, whereby an established institution tries to eliminate the possibility of competition by altering the playing field.

        The AFP-Google row is an example of this latter "ladder" syndrome.  AFP was founded by a guy who translated and quoted foreign newspapers, and sold the results of his labors (which in the beginning did not include any real reporting, merely monitoring the world press) to Parisians.  Google monitors news outlets and gives the results away free, without making a cent on their news page.  So, AFP is trying to prevent Google doing for free what AFP once did for a profit.  You can look it up.

        It is doubtful that Democracy 21 is a citizen-run blog.  

    •  What you're missing (none)
      They are convinced that the correct paradigm is "we must regulate, unless we're absolutely convinced X fits into a narrow exception," as opposed to "we want to leave this field alone, except for the X known harms."

      They don't really care about freedom -- if they did; H.R. 4194 wouldn't look like it did.

      •  the don't really care about freedom (none)
        <gasp>!!!!

        maybe they're traitors.

      •  are you really on this slippery slope? (none)
        you should oppose all campaign finance reform then.

        BTW, full disclosure, i do. i believe money and speech are the same thing. i oppose mccain feingold and i oppose CC's initiatives here.

        but they are not corrupt, and their motives are very decent here, in a real sense.

        •  Wake up (none)
          Efforts to clip political blogs like this one do not check the undue influence of big money on our political culture, just the reverse.

          Think of the Hackett storm where Kos and others encouraged 10,000 rank and file people to donate $500,000 to him (average donation, $50). It was moving and humbling to read comment after comment here saying, "I just got paid and can't afford this, but just sent $10 to Paul." You want to talk about campaign finance reform? We have already achieved it through the blogs, more than McCain and Feingold dreamed possible with all the rule changing.

        •  No. (none)
          If H.R. 4194 provided full protection for grassroots activity online (through, say, a robust application of the press exception) while also stopping the soft money "loophole", I could get behind it.

          I'm against bad regulation, not all regulation.

  •  Hey Kos (none)
    I think somebody should close the bold tag around the WSJ/DeLay story.

    Or do something to not make the rest of the page show up in bold.

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

    by RBH on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:23:29 AM PST

  •  I never got how (none)
    saying that you support one candidate or anonother is, inherently, regulatable.

    I mean, what if I put a whole crapload of campaign stuff in my yard and all that. I dont know, but make a huge flashing neon "Vote for X!" in my yard.  Even if it costs $5000, that wouldn't be regulatable would it? The home owner wouldn't have to register as a PAC would he? Why should internet sites that do the same thing have to?

  •  DeLay's defense on money laundering (none)
    was that "funds" meant cash, not checks.

    no wonder people hate lawyers.

    Treason's Greetings from Karl Rove and Scooter Libby: Merry Fitzmas and Happy New Smear

    by seesdifferent on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:37:57 AM PST

  •  thanks for shopping. (none)

    Scooter wears indicty-whiteys!

    by skyterrain on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:40:15 AM PST

  •  a different sentence caught my eye (none)
    Read this carefully:
    We want to emphasize that our groups strongly support the free speech rights of individuals communicating on their Web sites.

    Note:
    • individuals, not groups (i.e., the political committee problem I've flagged)
    • "on their Web sites", as opposed to posting on other people's sites.
    In other words, they fail to understand the power and importance of the Internet as an aggregator of voices.

    They're repeating themselves, so let me repeat myself: H.R. 4194 is a flawed bill that does not protect what it claims to, and H.R. 1606 means protecting the status quo; it is not The Boogeyman.

    H.R. 1606 and especially H.R. 4389 are superior alternatives to what Fred Wertheimer is pushing.

  •  wither democracy 21 and common cause? (none)
    i consider myself a progressive, and pretty informed, and have been so for a while. though i'm only 30, how come i've never heard of these groups until they started riling up the blogosphere?

    who are they, and what do they really want? progress or influence? just curious.

    •  they are (drum roll) (none)
      Government watchdogs that have been around since the 80s, and are almost always the ones filing complaints against one member or another with the House and Senate Ethics committees, as members usually don't being charges against each other. They also bring complaints to the FEC for various campaigns and interest groups violating campaign finance law.

      However, I find this post rather remarkable. Regardless of a dispute on the merits of internet regulation, this quote was pretty distinctly intended to express a need to regulate lobbying, which should be, frankly, a no-brainer.

      "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

      by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:17:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for the helpful response (none)
        i couldn't find much info at their websites without digging around.  only so many hours in the day and all that...
      •  actually (none)
        Common Cause was founded in the 1970 by a Republican, John Gardner with the rallying cry "everyone is organized but the people."  it was one of the first watchdog lobbying organizations funded by individual donations.  hundreds of thousands of people sent in their dues so the organization could work towards getting the government to work in the interests of the people.  Common Cause has a long history of accomplishing governmental reforms, everything from sunshine laws to helping end the Vietnam war.

        for a decade in the 90s their almost cingular focus was enacting campaign finance reform, which culminated with the passage of BCRA (McCain-Feingold) in 2002.  since then they have broadened their issues, but continue to work on CFR issues like the blogs.

        Fred Wirthheimer used to be the president of Common Cause.  he felt that they lost some of their strident tenacity and went off to find Democracy 21.  the two groups continue to work together but do not always have the same opinions.

        Ann Coulter, the right-wing bully who seems too loud even when you mute the television. -NYT Magazine

        by juls on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:49:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True as well (none)
          Common Cause is also pretty much the source for state by state campaign finance law. Thus, when you hear about state legislatures reforming their laws, Common Cause is often behind that.

          "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

          by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 01:01:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes (none)
            they have over 30 state chapters and staff a fair number of them.  the rest are volunteer organizations, some of which are very active.

            (full disclosure, i used to work for CC at the national office)

            Ann Coulter, the right-wing bully who seems too loud even when you mute the television. -NYT Magazine

            by juls on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 01:20:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Blogs are organic, and evolving as we speak (none)
    what we see today as 'liberal' and 'conservative' blogs is a far cry from what we'll see by the time the 2008 presidential races come out.  Google bombs are a fun thing to do (Terrorist Sympathizers be damned)and pretty easy...but as technology improves, those in power will find ways to manipulate searches so that someone looking for a liberal blog may find themselves in an altogether different place (sorry about that one...leads to redstate, so don't click it)...and this will all be automated...I'm a bit of an automation nut myself...voted for Pat Buchanan 37,000 times in two hours using only 25 virtual users on my laptop...it was a stupid poll, and I resented the network putting that on their news website--so I freeped it with the most idiotic choice I could think of until they pulled the survey--which they did since what network would report on national TV that Buchanan was running a close 3rd to Gore and bush? (I didn't select bush because he was already in the lead--hence my opinion it was a stupid poll)

    The point is, the internet is an easy place to manipulate, and because most people come here to find "unfiltered" news, or to form their own opinions, the chances that they'll be manipulated by people who want to sway opinions in one way or another are very good...for (and I can't remember who said it so please remind me if you know) For manipulation to work, it is essential that those manipulated remain unaware of the manipulation."

    Anyway, I guess the thing to keep in mind is that the thing we know today as a blog won't be like this forever...or even for long...especially if the Thought Police keep getting more powers in the name of "National Security"...

    Thanks for reading...

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right

    by darthstar on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:44:55 AM PST

  •  Let me just stick up for Fred here. . . (none)
    . . . or, if not for Fred (since I don't know too much about his particular position) then for the proposition that the general kind of legislation being proposed is the outgrowth of the campaign spending laws already passed.

    Although I'm very uncomfortable with out of control campaign spending, as I think any civic minded person of any political persuasion ought to be, I've always been troubled by the "limiting spending is not limiting speech" argument.  That's because, fundamentally, I agree with the argument that spending is speech to some extent.

    That is, if I want to hire a skywriter to write "Screw Bush, vote Democratic" (or some more productive slogan) over Ohio in October, 2006, I'm just not sure I should be subject to whatever spending limits Ohio has decreed.  I thought it was silly having to count the stamps I bought to send letters for Dean in the primaries also.

    With laws that do require individuals and organizations to track their spending on behalf of candidates, I think a certain amount of broad-based, civilly offensive intrusion into free speech is to be expected.

    Please note that I'm not supporting the intrusion but rather, and definetly reluctantly, opposing the campaign finance laws that I think lead, inevitably, to the intrusion.

    It's true that arguments can be made that something like dKos is not subjec to the regulations and it's quite likely that, if litigated, it would prove to be so under the law.  But the laws are going to lead to that kind of litigation.

    There are creative ways to address out of control campaign spending, I'm just not entirely happy with the extremely technical, intrusive ones that have been adopted.

    Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

    by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:45:00 AM PST

    •  I'm not entirely sure (none)
      What you're saying here, and how it is sticking up for Fred........could you clarify?

      "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

      by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:19:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that. . . (none)
        legislation like that being pushed by Democracy 21 is a natural outgrowth of our current campaign finance laws.  If we're for those laws, we ought to expect this kind of legislation and we ought to expect to have to account for our spending in support of any candidate or party.

        Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

        by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:22:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which is the problem. (none)
          We shouldn't be regulating any of it. Candidates should have to publish lists of everyone who supported them monetarily. Websites should have to make clear who runs and funds the site. And that is it.

          Everything else is just clutter and obstacles designed to make it harder for the common man to make his voice heard.

          •  If it was that easy (none)
            The reason its not that simple is because of Watergate, simply put, and the idea that if say, 10 really wealthy people can run your entire operation in the final months of a presidential campaign, but not be disclosed until after the campaign, you are doing the public a disservice, and those 10 men will have undue influence in your administration.

            "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

            by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:33:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Could the presence of those men (none)
              be disguised in the twenty-first century, with the pervasive media and Internet? Probably not. And if they gave money to the candidate, they'd have to be disclosed.

              I just think all this talk of regulation is junk, both of the Internet and campaign financing.

              •  there already is disclosure (none)
                You can look up contributors on the FEC's website.  The search is cumbersome, confusing, and can have significant time lags.  I don't see how this solves any problems.  Besides, contributors can always hide their true contribution amounts by bundling their contributions (pledging a given amount to a candidate, but dividing that total figure amongst numerous supposed contributors), or their identities by contributing through an ambiguously-named PAC.  
              •  Of course they could (none)
                What about Coingate? What about Jack Abramoff? What about Duke Cunningham? Faith in the media and the internet is one thing, but there's surprisingly LITTLE caught by the public eye.

                Some other important points are that disclosure is not immediate. It's not released until after a certain period. So the last cycle of a campaign is never reported until AFTER the campaign is over. Therefore, if you pumped a bunch of bad money into last minute races, no one would know until after the race is over. Hell, the Senate doesn't even have electronic disclosure, so numbers posted for the quarter ending in July were unavailable to the public on Election Day.

                "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

                by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:53:08 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  I disagree. (none)
            Then you will have the domination of politics by high spenders (from your comment it looks like you would remove campaign contribution limits as well).

            It's all well and good to know that one guy is spending $100 million based on ten $1 million contributions while the other guy is spending $6.50 based on 65 contributions of ten cents each.  But all things being equal, the guy with $100 million is going to have something of an advantage.

            I don't think the way to deal with it is to institute all kinds of very technical restrictions on who can spend money on exactly what.  It leads to confusion, cheating, and legislation like that which Kos is objecting to.

            My personal preferred solution is a very high excise tax on political spending (not giving), with the money raised by distributed by some reasonably fair formula to the less well funded candidates.

            Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

            by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:40:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  He may have an advantage... (none)
              with the candidate. But when that is exposed to the public, will the candidate have an advantage with the voters?

              That's where I am coming from. At the end of the day, Halliburton could spend 100,000,000 dollars for Bush. But if I do my due dilligence, read as much as I can, make an effort to educate myself about the candidates...then I'll know he's a moron and not vote for him. Or I'll see how much Halliburton gave to him and decide I don't want a candidate who's in their pocket.

              It's up to the public to educate themselves, not have the government spoonfeed them.

              •  then surely (none)
                you've made use of the disclosure statements at www.fec.gov in previous elections?
              •  Still disagree. . . (none)
                If Osama bin Laden shows up on the contributor list then OK, it may be a disadvantage.  But for the most part, the people who show up are going to be executive nobodies.  For the most part, it won't make a different, even for those people who actually pay attention to this sort of thing.

                The truth is, some candidates are going to raise huge amounts of money in completely innocent ways -- whether it is in large contributions for a smaller number of givers or small contributions from a larger number of givers (if, say, Focus on the Family gets behind you).  The inequity still needs to be addressed.

                Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

                by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:52:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I disagree. (none)
                  Respectfully, but I do.

                  If the names on the list are executives, people can research who they work for.

                  And if people take the time to read about and research the candidates, then one candidate having 100M and the other 50M won't matter.

                  The money only matters if people let the TV and newspaper ads be the limit of their research. And if the voters are content to sit back and let 30-second sound-bites be their research, then we deserve the government we get.

                  Regulation breeds inequity in the process. We need less, not more.

              •  Will the candidate have an advantage? (none)
                Ask Mike Bloomberg.  $100 million can cover a multitude of sins.
            •  The real solution.... (none)
              ... is to:

              1) Give blogs the press exemption (which the FEC decided to do, but for which Wertheimer's slugging them) and 2) support the work of Public Campaign.

              •  Don't think so. (none)
                "Blog" is a legally meaningless word.  Say I organize a pro-Hillary "blog" which would raise money and publish pro-Hillary information on the internet.  OK with that as an unregulated campaign expense?

                Now, suppose as part of my blog activity, I print some of my choicer posts and mail them to a million voters as part of a project to promote traffice to my site.  So now I've sent out a million pro-Hillary (or maybe anti-someone-else) mailers as part of my blog.

                That loophole is large enough to drive a campaign bus through.  The problem is not the existence of blogs, it's these poorly thought out campaign finance laws.

                Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

                by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:57:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  once you fall out of the press function (none)
                  You fall out of the press exception.  For example, if a newspaper went beyond publishing an editorial endorsing a candidate to sending workers door-to-door to do GOTV, that would not be an allowable corporate expenditure.
                  •  I can't possibly see (none)
                    why a newspaper that endorses a candidate should be exempt from the laws as written, except that an otherwise nonsensical exception was carved out to protect them.  Delivering X million copies of an endorsement like that pretty clearly falls under the kind of speech that is regulated.

                    In any event, I think the exception is not so clearly due to blogs.  It might be -- but it doesn't seem open and shut to me, I would expect to have to deal with these kinds of challenges.

                    Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

                    by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 06:37:15 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Depends (none)
                  Say I organize a pro-Hillary "blog" which would raise money and publish pro-Hillary information on the internet.  OK with that as an unregulated campaign expense?

                  You are saying some conflicting things here.

                  What are you raising the funds for and how?

                  If the "money you raise" is simply punting people to her contribution page... no. Absolutely no regulation should impede you doing so. If she is paying you (directly or through blogads) it shows up on her FEC filings already.

                  I guess i have a hard time understanding the argument that Fox gets to have a website spewing whatever it wants, yet somehow individual citizens are forced out via misguided and de-facto exclusionary laws.

                  cheers,

                  Mitch Gore

                  Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                  by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 07:02:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  isn't the (none)
    blogosphere partly responsible for helping to shed light on corruption in government?  I don't get it. How are you going to regulate the internet in a few years when everyone has blazing fast internet connections and server space costs almost nothing? I think there has been a wake up call in D.C. for the elites to try and shut down the internet influence for fear that democracy actually might happen.  People might get involved and they certainly don't want that beyond taking your money.

    In the absence of fear, truth becomes absolute.

    by bohdi777 on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:45:48 AM PST

  •  Considering that the consensus (none)
    seems to be that in future the control of information is going to be as, if not more important arms in controlling the world, it's to be expected that there would be an effort to get the genie back in the bottle.

    Forget "GOD, GUNS, GAYS, GIRLS & GETS"

    by hannah on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:48:04 AM PST

  •  Great push-back (none)
    And spot on Kos. The hypocrisy is certainly there, but underscores the real problem at the core of the argument that we have to shut down and regulate online discourse in the name of campaign finance reform.

    It is, to my eyes, just like the bassakwards extent to which "journalists" have been arguing that Judith Miller and others are standing on principle by not reveling their sources. It is 180 degrees in opposite in service of the larger principle which anonymous sourcing came about. That being protecting a whistle-blower or source form retribution for getting the truth out in order to best serve the public interest. Not to hide behind that as a shield to lie to, smear and attack those who are in fact critical of the malfeasance of those in power who have harmed the public interest.

    This is similar to what we see here. People who have gotten wholly of-track as to what principle they are serving when all is said and done.  Fred Wertheimer and Democracy 21 are using the very methods they decry as a corrupting influence, to influence Congress to restrict access and filter the electronic public square which, is precisely what is Not in the public interest or good. We need freer, fuller more robust public discourse, not controlled and regulated discourse. Unfettered public discourse, particularly in the realm of politics, is precisely why it is enshrined in the very first of the bill of rights. Our founding fathers knew precisely the value and import of such discourse.

    This smacks of destroying the village in order to save it myopia, and framed in ironic hypocrisy.

    cheers,

    Mitch Gore

    Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

    by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:49:23 AM PST

    •  fred wertheimer is not corrupt (none)
      the diary starts with a completely false notion.
      •  I think he is (none)
        Based on his own logic that trying to influence members of congress is inherently corrupt.

        And he hates the First Amendment too. And he's a hypocrite.

        •  That's ridiculous (4.00)
          This guy has been the force behind most major post Watergate government corruption scandals.

          And the way the lobbying system is set up right now, yes, it is inherently corrupt, as the law is vague and hazy, and try finding one Hill staffer who understands it. It needs to be reformed, badly, because people break the law without intending to break it, and people can get away with truly swarmy things under the auspices of the law. The lobbying laws are terrible.

          Does that mean that because Fred is advocating his position, mostly through a melee of press releases and a series of meetings is a hypocrit? No! Of course not, any reform to the current law would clearly allow people to have meetings with congressmen. However, the junkets, the skyboxes? That needs to go, and Fred is NOT doing that sort of thing.

          "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

          by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:25:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You seem to be missing the point (none)
            That Democracy 21 is lobbying COngress (thereby being "corrupt" if you buy into the reasoning that paid for lobbying of COngress is inherently corrupt) while arguing that truly open and unfettered public discourse (blogs) be stymied and regulated.

            We can both agree that what the people at Democracy 21 have done has been fighting the good fight, but on this they are wrong and hypocritically so.

            cheers,

            Mitch Gore

            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

            by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 01:00:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And that is an intentional misreading (none)
              Of Fred's comments, as well as an intentional misunderstanding of the differences between paid lobbying and advocacy.

              Fred's comments referred specifically to soft-money laundering by paid lobbyists used to entice lawmakers to enact specific legislation. And to the fact that this is in large part caused by antiquated and ridiculously confusing lobbying laws that are vague at best and therefore prone to abuse by anyone who cares to do so and even some people who are just, well, sloppy.

              Democracy 21's "war room" etc., was the organization itself meeting with Congressmen, none of which will have or will ever receive donations from Democracy 21. They first of all represented themselves. Secondly, did not donate, and lastly, used no soft money. Under kos' definition of what is and what is not acceptable to Fred, no one would be allowed to visit their Congressperson to argue for an issue they care about, because that would be tainted lobbying. That's not at all what's being said. What's being said is that lobbyists should wine, dine, and buy Congresspeople through junkets, skyboxes, and donations wormed through third parties.

              I understand kos' frustration on the internet regulation stuff, although I respectfully disagree, but this is, frankly, crap.

              "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

              by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 01:09:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  WTF? (none)
                WTF? is this Kos?

                Warning: Posting rate exceeded

                You have exceeded this site's maximum posting rate. You are only allowed to post a certain number of comments or stories in a short period of time. Your user account is now locked from posting for five minutes, after which it will become normal again. Be warned though: if you attempt to post again while you're locked out, the timeout period will double, and this will keep happening as long as you keep trying to post. Walk away for a few minutes, have a nice cup of coffee, come back, and everything will be cool. Thanks.

                WTF kind of "posting rate" is this shit?

                I have posted at the following rate in the past hour:

                12/06/2005 13:14:36 PST
                12/06/2005 13:04:12 PST
                12/06/2005 13:03:33 PST
                12/06/2005 13:00:58 PST
                12/06/2005 12:57:20 PST
                12/06/2005 12:38:45 PST
                12/06/2005 12:36:22 PST

                What sort of whacky-low threshold has been immplmented?

                I have never run across any such rate warning/limiting here... ever.

                Is this some new policy?

                If so I really suggest you change the thresholds, because posting comments once in a 3+ minutes or so rate is hardly something that should be disabling someone.

                cheers,

                Mitch Gore

                Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 02:34:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ironically (none)
                  I received this replying to YOUR previous comment. I assumed it was because the site has been iffy all day, but perhaps the higher-ups are telling us to cool it.

                  "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

                  by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 02:56:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  bugged me (none)
                  but inevitable.

                  I wrote a dense and unreadable piece - but accurate - about this phenomenon.

                  Peer to peer politics, netroots, this rises like the other peer to peer phenomenon and then maxes out, a structure of cruft forms making a heirarchy out of the peer to peer distribution, and it protects the voice of the top, and the common voice diminishes.

                  It's attributed to "scaling" and is in fact the phenomenon "failing to scale".

                  No, large groups don't need that, large egos do.

        •  that argument (none)
          is too trivial for you kos.

          it's a gotcha.

          that's not the real difference of opinion.

          you have wandered into a pro-corporate area and so he's corrupt.

          no.

      •  are you sure? (none)
        He's a part of the old pre-internet political order. He had lots of power and influence then. Now he sees things changing and he wants that power and influence back. Who are his donors?  Kos brought that up in his piece. Just who are they?  Why won't he disclose? He should be embracing the blogs (and watching them) instead of opposing and proposing legislation. I see blogs doing a lot of what Werthiemer used to do and potentially a lot more effectively.

        "We ought never to do wrong when people are looking." Twain

        by dougymi on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:22:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  From their website: (none)
          Democracy 21 and Democracy 21 Education Fund are supported by contributions from individuals and from a number of foundations, including The Pew Charitable Trusts, Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Joyce Foundation and Open Society Institute.

          "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

          by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:27:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  lame pushback (none)
      "Corrupt Democracy 21".

      un-credibley put.

      This is a disagreement... I've not seen such a stretch for a long time, as that "but look, they're corrupt too for taking part in public debate and government".

      dkos is a corporation so corporations don't need regulation now.

      SHOCK!

      •  But that is PRECISELY (none)
        what Democracy 21 is in fact arguing when it seeks to put blogs under regulation. It fundamentally is working from the flawed thinking that bloging is corrupt if there is unregulated bloging. They are arguing that we are, by our nature, a corrupting activity (not that there is any substance to it) that therefore has to be regulated.

        Why should Democracy 21 be able to be privately funded to influence Congress, yet somehow we, the blogsphere have to be forced into a regulated tar-pit that will stymie the fundamental principle of free public discourse?

        While we may agree that folks like Democracy 21 generally do and have fought the good fight, in this they are fundamentally wrong, not to mention rather hypocritical.

        cheers,

        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:57:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The problem with regulation (none)
    is just that: we shouldn't even be trying to regulate any of this.

    Let's face a fact here and now: Money is not leaving the political process. Not now, not ever. No matter how many laws are passed, it will remain. Get used to it.

    Another fact: No matter how much money is spent, how many blogs express an opinion, how many letters are sent...none of that actually casts a vote. In the end, it is the responsibility of the voter to educate themselves and vote accordingly

    I say, bring on the corporate blogs, the party-funded blogs, the wealthy donor blogs...just make them clearly state who is running them and funding them.

    I say, let anyone spend as much as they want to fund a political candidate...just make the candidates print a list of every donor in the major paper of each state one week before Election Tuesday.

    All this argument about money is a crock. At the end of the day, its an easy excuse to let voters off the hook. Anyone who wants to learn about the candidates can do so if they have the will to follow through, money be damned.

    All this regulation does is make it harder for the common man and woman to support their candidates.

  •  Hartford Courant Senator Poll (none)
    Lieberman vs. Weicker vs. other. Go nuts!

    Scroll down and look on the right side of your screen.

    (-8.88/-7.64): I drink from the keg of glory, Donna. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land!

    by Joshua Lyman on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 11:58:23 AM PST

  •  If you don't (none)
    believe that more free speech is better for America then you don't believe in democracy, as usual the right is on the wrong side of Americas best interests, surprise, surprise, surprise.
    PEACE!
    •  so you don't believe... (none)
      ... in campaign finance regulation?

      all political spending is "free speech"... and you are on an equal footing with Halliburton because you both equally have "a right to spend your money".

      cause that's what it sounds like.

      •  So Kos should shut down? (none)
        That's what Wertheimer wants.
      •  Thats quite a leap (none)
        I state that I believe in more free speech rather then less or curtailing ones right to speak and you  equate that to not supporting campaign finance reform and siding with Haliburton, it sounds like you don't like speech that doesn't conform to your version of reality.

        Taking away the right to speak even by Haliburton isn't the way to reform, changing the way all concerned on both sides raise money is obviously the solution, although in our system there will always be a money disparity. Until the rules are changed I will continue to support free speech even when the speech I have to put up with annoys and infuriates me.

        Thats what makes America great, they piss me off and I have the right to respond in kind, as we are doing here. Thanks for the Haliburton compliment though, I will take it in stride and move on.
        PEACE!

        •  I'm not trying to accuse... (none)
          ... or ascribe positions to you.

          I'm saying that the idea that "more free speech" is better, in THIS context, is the same as the argument that political spending is "free speech".

          Why shouldn't Sinclair Broadcasting get to use THEIR soap box  if they want, they "earned it" they "own" it they "deserve" it?  Why not?

          Sorry to be loud about it but to me a lot of people are wandering about trying to act like there is some fundamental difference, the net is like a parallel universe where the laws of man and nature are different, and it's not.  It's self-interest and special interest and territorial reactionary behavior, I think.

          We're told our little blogspot blogs are going to be taken down.

          that's bullshit, and not only bullshit, but good old bullshit we should not fall for... this is not about little blogspot blogs, this is about dkos with 10,000$ ad buys!  this is corporation vs. corporation, and I for one don't like that chains of populism yanked for corporate purposes.

          sorry if I seemed rude... this bugs me.

          •  When any or anyones (none)
            right to free speech is repressed we all are affected no matter how vicious or unpalatable it might be, just as the Nazis have the right to march in Scoki Ill, we all have to protect the unpopular as well as the acceptable no matter how hard that is to do.

            If we on the left repress free speech we have become what we abhor and fight against everyday, we will have become the opposition and they will have won the battle over the agenda, and democracy will be lost at least for the short term if not longer.

            We may disagree but thats what its all about, allowing the other person to speak and not repressing that voice even though one may vehemently disagree, ain't America great.
            Have a great day and holiday season.
            PEACE!

  •  With all due respect... (4.00)
    ...This is the most unfair and inflamatory smearing I've ever seen here. I hope this is sarcasm because otherwise, it's just hysterical bashing of someone you disagree with.
    • ...that legislation means shutting down the internet as a First Amendment zone...
    • ...Fred himself is funded by those seeking to "buy influence with members of Congress"
    • ...Fred is corrupt and akin to Abramoff.
    • ...an organization that is obsessed with stiffling Free Speech.
    • ...he's afraid of free and unfettered free speech.
    Look I understand this is a sensitive issue for you, but this kind of attack, associating a life-long public advocate for citizens, voters, and consumers, is the kind of scorched-earth assault I'd expect from Karl Rove.

    Can't we please have a substance based debate on this? I also have concerns about corporations and propagandists gaining undue influence on the Internet due to their far greater financial resources and connections to power. But I repect your position. I know that the resolution I seek would be a difficult one to draft and could cause more harm than good if not done right. But I think its worth the attempt. I want free, unfetterred speech on the Internet (and everywhere else), but I don't want exploitation and propaganda flooding the blogosphere.

    •  Honestly (none)
      We've tried that.  We've engaged in substantive debate for months on these issues on this website.  We've made clear our willingness to work with anyone to put together a bill that both protected Internet free speech while closing the soft money loophole.  They haven't been interested, instead attacking our letters to Congress for "circulating on the Internet" while not addressing their substance.

      If Fred Wertheimer gets his way, this site ceases to function as-is.  It becomes a political committee with reporting and disclosure requirements, if it can function at all.

      So I understand Markos' frustration.

      •  Believe me, I do too. (none)
        This whole issue is frustrating. But "...akin to Abramoff...?"

        If we can't get them to produce an acceptable draft, I would lean toward doing nothing rather than doing harm. And I kow you've been trying (I nominated you to be a front-pager in Kos' previous post), but this is not the way to get respect from these people. Maybe I'm just too naive in thinking we can still persuade them of anything.

        •  Just (none)
          using Fred's own logic against him.
          •  I got that, I just think it went too far. (none)
            Maybe you need to lean hard to port just to get the boat level.
          •  your logic against you (none)
            why don't you just flip that coin and use your logic on you.

            You are for unregulated corporate political spending... therefore you love Halliburton.

            Sometimes you criticise them, but this proves you really want to help them out.  What a corrupt hypocritical hipoty hypocrite.

            come on kos, don't play it that way, it's pointless.

            If all those that differed with you were evil... you'd be conservative.

            •  SO you want Kos to shut down? (none)
              What happens to YOUR blog?  Wertheimer hates folks like you as much as he does Kos.
              •  Yes, he does. (none)
                He also hates America and puppies.  Possibly also apple pie and motherhood.
                •  Have you read Adam's posts? (none)
                  You're acting as if Kos is the main/only mover behind this (and that other, less-well-compensated bloggers don't exist), so you're saying that it's all about the money.

                  Well, as far as I know, Adam B doesn't get any money from DKos (aside from whatever compensation he may get for fighting legal battles), and is one of the go-to guys on preserving bloggers' free speech rights.  It's hard to make the argument that these guys are living high on the hog here.

                  And I can tell you that I certainly don't, because I don't take ads at all -- yet my own blog, which is little more than a series of Letters to the Editor, would fall prey to Wertheimer's proposals.

                  •  Let's put it this way. (none)
                    I don't buy the spin.  I don't believe that the FEC is going to regulate my little blog out of existence, or that Common Cause of Democracy 21 want that to happen, either.

                    I see this as hysteria along the lines of "The War on Christmas."

                    •  don't worry about "spin" (none)
                      Read their bill.  Read the actual thing.  The protections it seeks to offer political activity online are narrow.

                      Better yet, read their comments on the Fired Up advisory opinion request, which regarded how the FEC should treat a website little different from this one.  In particular, look at this argument from Democracy 21:

                      While some Internet-based entities provide a function identical or similar to classic media activities, and thus reasonably can be said to fall within the press exemption, others surely do not. But the test is the same for online entities as it is for off-line entities: is the entity a "press entity" and is it acting in its "legitimate press function"? Here, the requestor has stated that "Fired Up intends to endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of Democratic candidates for federal, state, and local office." AOR 2005-16 at 2. It also states that its Web site will contain links to "Democratic and progressive organizations." Id. It "intends aggressively to support progressive candidates and causes at all levels." Id. at 7.

                      In short, Fired Up's self-avowed purpose is to elect Democratic candidates to office, and indeed, to solicit campaign contributions for Democratic candidates. These purely partisan goals may be appropriate for a political organization, but they do not qualify a group as a "press entity."


                      Tell me how they'd treat this site.
                      •  this site (none)
                        is not the test.

                        this is a for profit site.

                        maybe the problem is the way kos has set up this site, if he wanted it to be considered differently than it is.

                        if it's a fundraising site, it should be treated as such, it's not "NOT a fundraising site" because it's on the internet, I know that's not the discriminatory factor, it can't be.

                        while I'm dissappointed in the way dkos has gotten, I still appreciate it and hope it succeeds, but I think it's dangerous to start using it as a litmus test... "is this law good for dkos"?

                        Maybe it WOULD be good for dkos, maybe dkos would have to change a bit for the better, I don't know the future or how kos would react to regulation.

                        I do know how people react to unfettered power though.

              •  please link the hate (none)
                I have yet to see it.

                Just like I don't see the corruption of having a position on legislation.

            •  um, no (none)
              No one here is for unlimited corporate spending on politics, or even limited -- 2 USC 441b prevents that from occurring, online or off, regarless of what Congress now does.

              The question is whether how to regulate political activity online, if at all.  We believe that regulation here should go after real and known harms, erring on the side of underregulation.  Wertheimer et al seem to believe that unless you fit into a tiny box of acceptable behavior, you might have to start filing FEC forms.

      •  Huh (none)
        As I read the minority concurrence on that ruling, two members indicated that even thought the site in question intended to be a wholly partisan platform for advocating the election of democrats, and was run by three individuals closely tied to the state Democratic party, including both elected officials and campaign professionals, that it was not either controlled by a political party or primarily engaged in campaign activities.

        Nonetheless they were unwilling to establish a precedent that any internet site was entitled to the press exemption regardless of its circumstances, and particularly to hold open the concern that Fired Up could come to fall in the restricted category. (If for example editor Roy Temple returned to the post of Executive Director of the State Democratic Party, or if the site became solely a campaign vehicle for a federal candidate).

        The facts of the Fired Up case are not very different from the circumstances of Daily Kos, and the unanimous decision of the commissioners was that it was entitled to the press exemption. There is nothing in this to worry about except your rhetoric.

  •  It is illogical for our government... (none)
    to attempt to control the internet.  That is because it is, in reality, an international structure, even though the US attempts to maintain control over it.

    Speech on the internet will eventually be gauranteed by an international coalition, simply because of an international blogger made statements concerning the US government, how could he be held culpable, especially if none of the information disseminated is stored in the United States.

    The freely available information on the internet will be recognized, eventually, as just that... free information that cannot be taxed or controlled.  It is the same as me proselytizing on the street corner.  You have people who nobody listens to, and a few that have entire 'congregations', for lack of a better word at the moment.

    •  Won't happen. (none)
      I dread the day the Internet is controlled by an "international organization" as efficient as the United Nations.
    •  Laissez Faire (none)
      If you all, not just you, but you all, are laissez faire faithful

      just realize that... ok?  this is laissez faire "philosophical" thinking.

      Guess what... anarchy and no corporate regulations lead to monarchy and dictatorship... which brings us here where we regulate stuff.  We're already here.  Let's move forward from here and not buy this bullshit about invisible hands making it all work out right when you let companies do whatever they want.

      •  Not exactly what Smith said... (none)
        His arugment was that when the playing field was level, if you allowed companies to compete under the same basic rules, everyone benefits.

        We have nothing close to that situation now. Be it in the economy or campaign financing. And more regulation will just make it worse.

        •  the way I see it (none)
          the "protect the internet from the law" crowd is the one that wants more regulation... I was fine with the FEC deciding what is the press in any given media, more or less how they do now.

          I think the only reason to be very worried about this is because some blogs are for profit or have, at least, revenue streams to worry about.

          I don't begrudge them that, but then, I don't get on my moral high horse because companies are subject to careful knowledge of campain law when they seek to help a campaign.

          •  here's the thing (none)
            Up until two weeks ago, it was unclear whether the FEC was going to treat websites as press at all.  And we know that 2/5 of the current FEC is lukewarm at best on the subject, and 3-4 new commissioners are coming.  Codification via H.R. 4389 would be a nice start.

            I don't believe that "Internet exceptionalism" is generally necessary to draw the right lines here, and it has nothing to do with protecting a site's profitability.  I do think that the Internet has exposed general flaws in the independent expenditure and political committee definitions that ought to be fixed, but I'm not interested in special treatment for anyone.

            Still, pyrrho: five kids at Texas A&M want to set up a "College Station Liberals" website, generally featuring news and opinion but clearly aiming to help elect Democrats and only Democrats.  Between server time and the software they use to put together some cool anti-Bush videos, it costs them $1002 in 2006 to run the site.   Should they have to file a single page of paper with the FEC?

            •  adam (none)
              first, I'm on board for a reasonable clarification, say, setting to paper how the interpretations should work, something not overly broad.

              second, your example, I don't want to weasle out but I think I would need more information.  Further complicating this is that I don't think all the law is perfectly crafted in terms of offline regulation either.

              My answer is then based on just this, however they are treated it should be the same as if they started a small liberal paper. If they would have to file with the FEC in that case, then same with the web site, otherwise no.

              If they take paid ads, but give the same ad space to candidates... yes, that's an in-kind contribution, otoh, if they give away links on their blogroll without ever charging, that's not an in-kind contribution (or is valued at $0 at any rate) and that more or less is how I think it should work.

  •  Its about advertising!!!!! (none)
    What a load of Crap!!!

    "Indeed, Fred set up a war room inside Rep. Meehan's office to help defeat H.R. 4194, which would've ensure a free and unfettered blogosphere. You fund Democracy 21, you're buying yourself some serious influence in Congress."

    Well no, Wertheimer was supporting 4194, which is Meehan's bill to "ensure a free and unfettered blogosphere."

    He was opposed to HR 1606 - which would also have eliminated all restrictions on buying advertising on the internet. Oddly you don't mention that in your rant, even though he lays it out plainly in the letter you link.

    Wertheimer also didn't have anything to do with 911.

    We expect better (ie honest) political rhetoric from Democrats.

    •  err, no. (none)
      Meehan's bill does not "ensure a free and unfettered blogosphere," for reasons I've stated far too many times.

      And HR 1606 would not have "eliminated all restrictions on buying advertising on the internet," as people here know by now.

      •  Err Kos' characterization not mine (none)
        Kos mixed up the bill numbers in the main post. I see it has now been corrected.

        While you disagree with the sponsors about whether 4194 truly "ensure(s) a free and unfettered blogosphere," the purpose of the bill is to limit the regulatory reach of the FEC, in response to concerns that the current law is potentially restrictive of free speech rights and unduly burdensome. Your opposition would be more honest if you would be clear that you beleive it is insufficient instead of portaying it as additional regulation in itself.

        As for 1606. It does exactly remove all restrictions on buying advertising on the web. It does not eliminate other restrictions on campaign fundraising and expenditures so direct spending by campaigns is uneffected, but it opens the door to unlimited coordinated expenditures by any entity which is not proscribed from political activity of any sort. As for why the loophole wasn't used more vigorously when it was opened by the FEC: the Net was less mature especially as a focus of political activity, and the regulatory interpretation was questionable at best so serious players probably didn't think it was worth the potential hassel.

        •  That's Not Right (none)
          1.  The FEC, acting alone, would be more protective of free speech online than would the world HR 4194 would create.  I've been over this before, but, basically, that bill would stifle non-"blog" technology, and I think poses real (and deliberate) threats to sites like this on the "principal purpose) test.

          2.  That's one guess I had on why the "loophole" wasn't exploited, but, still, given what others attempted with the '527 loophole', I think it's insufficient.  I just don't think there's much to be gained from online coordination or soft money spending.
    •  Adam covers it (none)
      but 4194 does nothing of the sort.
  •  what scares (none)
    Let get real here. What scares all these big wigs and corporate scum is the fact that the internet is an even playing field. Their money and influence can't buy any real huge advantages here. A good web design, server, and buzz can be created relatively cheaply and can rival anything these money grubbing whores can produce and it scares the hell out of them.

     We certainly can't own a network, or a radio station, but us tech savy people can certainly have our place here, and the "money people" don't like it one bit.  They are not used to playing fair, they are not good at it, plus playing fair shows them to be the whores that they are. Individuals with a voice scares them, since the can't buy us off like they have everyone else.

     A place for the common man to be heard is not what corporate america wants, so be aware they will do all they can in the coming years to curtail us.
     pss.  To bad that the internet is worldwide and US LAW means squat, it drives them bonkers.

  •  loop holes (4.00)
    first off, it's as if you are blind to the FACT that making exceptional status of the net can open loopholes.

    "And of course, that legislation means shutting down the internet as a First Amendment zone, accessible to all on an equal footing, whether it's your Aunt Ethel or Jack Abramoff or Haliburton."

    Equal footing... right, having money doesn't mean anything on the net, it's a utopian love fest where money plays NO ROLE.  Everybody is on equal footing!

    What a crock kos!  This is what republicans say about the economy in general, you could start your own Halliburton after all just like they did, it's an "equal footing"!

    And you can be drunk and coked up till 40 and become president!  It's because we all have equal footing, even the coke-heads.

    Think the net is totally different and all the rules of reality won't hold within it is NOT reality based thinking.

    It's bubble thinking.

    Don't bubblize online-politics.

  •  democracy? (none)
    where? America?  i don't see it.  that cute idea was bought and paid for looooong ago my friend.
  •  Stifling, Markos, stifling. (none)
    You're making me think that Wertheimer is siccing Stiffler's Mom's son on democracy...

    Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

    by pastordan on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 12:31:19 PM PST

  •  UN and the Internet (none)
    Need to be wary of anyone wanting to cozy up to the UN.

    They'll hand over control of the internet to the UN to foster an "atmosphere" of "sharing" and goodwill for the benefit of a truly "free information society." Ostensibly to move us closer and regain favor with the rest of the world.

    Kiss all the blogs goodbye, then.

  •  Regulate Diebold (none)
    Diebold insider alleges company plagued by technical woes, Diebold defends 'sterling' record

    Via Rawstory.com

    SNIP

    Concerns about Georgia, Ohio elections

    The insider harbors suspicions that Diebold may be involved in tampering with elections through its army of employees and independent contractors. The 2002 gubernatorial election in Georgia raised serious red flags, the source said.

    "Shortly before the election, ten days to two weeks, we were told that the date in the machine was malfunctioning," the source recalled. "So we were told 'Apply this patch in a big rush.'" Later, the Diebold insider learned that the patches were never certified by the state of Georgia, as required by law.

    "Also, the clock inside the system was not fixed," said the insider. "It's legendary how strange the outcome was; they ended up having the first Republican governor in who knows when and also strange outcomes in other races. I can say that the counties I worked in were heavily Democratic and elected a Republican."

    In Georgia's 2002 Senate race, for example, nearly 60 percent of the state's electorate by county switched party allegiances between the primaries and the general election.

    The insider's account corroborates a similar story told by Diebold contractor Rob Behler in an interview with Bev Harris of Black Box Voting.

    http://rawstory.com/...

  •  MarKOS, you are a demagogue (4.00)
    On all other issues you are thoughtful, articulate, and take the high road against the blustering nabobs.

    But on campaign finance, you throw it all out the window.  You use cheap attacks.  Yes, I really believe Wertheimer hates free speech.  Just like Muslims "hate freedom, hate our way of life."

    Yes, he is influencing Congress with his well-funded institute.  Exactly the same kind of bribery engaged in by the Cunninghams and Abramoffs.  I believe it was the junkets Wetheimer paid for to Athens that persuaded those slimy guys Feingold and Meehan to bend over and support his nefariously self-interested pork legislation.  Or maybe it was the "hospitality" brothel Democracy 21 was caught funding recently.

    You are noble and just, Markos, on many things, but when your bread and butter might be threatened, you use every tried and true Rovian (yeah, that's right, pal) mudslinging attack to fight back any perceived limits to freedom.

    I have honestly seen my own opinion on this issue evolve quite a bit.  I believe that every effort should be made to exempt as much online activity as possible.

    But that does not mean effectively gutting every principle in campaign finance legislation just to protect your paycheck.

    Yes, I believe the NRA, for example, deserves the press exemption to spend its money any way it wants spreading its message online.  But that does NOT include a license to gut rules intended to prevent unfettered, unregulated, corporate funds spent to raise money in support of federal candidates.  I think the recent Missouri case presents real concerns about where to draw the line on online activity.  Spending unregulated, unreported soft money to raise money for federal candidates using an invented loophole, just because the activity is online, should still be prohibited.

    You had better rethink your rhetorical strategy very soon.  You are convinced that your perceived opponents have nothing but selfish, irresponsible motives.  But you are the one who sounds like a cornered dog defending his bone.  I am fully aware that my own rhetoric here sounds overheated.  But I am sick and tired of your attack-the-messenger methods.

    Every time you wrap yourself in the flag, I hear Senator McConnell fighting McCain-Feingold, waxing patriotic in his defense of the right of the wealthy to dominate political discourse using unlimited funds to buy the candidates they deem worthy.

    •  Miss the point much? (none)

      cheers,

      Mitch Gore

      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

      by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 01:03:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So Adam B is Kos, too? (none)
      Adam B's not making any money from this site, AFAIK.  Yet he's the one who's done the lion's share of explaining why what Wertheimer is trying to do will kill the blogosphere dead.

      I note that the persons attacking Kos are assuming that he's just trying to protect his turf -- so they pretend that people like Adam B, or bloggers like me, who doesn't take ads and doesn't make a dime off my site, don't exist.

      If it's OK for Bill O'Reilly to use the media exemption to promote the GOP agenda in general and to bash Democratic rivals of GOP candidates, and if it's OK for me to write letters to the editor, then it sure as hell should be OK for me to have a blog, and it sure as hell should be OK for Kos to have one, too.

      Period.

      •  There's a stark difference (none)
        Between Adam B's rhetoric and Kos'.

        "If Kaine...can win by 6 points, then it's safe to say this is no longer a red state. Virginia is now a purple state" - Chuck Todd

        by VirginiaBelle on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 01:16:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with every single point you make here (none)
        This is not the point of contention.

        This is not a fight to regulate speech on the internet.  It is a fight to decide whether corporations should be allowed to spend unregulated, unreported, unlimited funds to raise money for the candidates of their choice, just because that effort is done on the internet.

        If so, then all campaign finance regulations should be scrapped and we should have a Wild West free-for-all, where anyone can give as much as they want to any federal candidate they want.

        All the screaming rhetoric that Wertheimer hates freedom ignores, or is unaware of, this point.

        •  The problem is.... (none)
          ...as Adam B, Kos, Atrios, and many others (including Congressman John Conyers) have stated, over and over and over again, we HAVE tried being nice and polite and reasonable, and explaining our position nicely, politely, and reasonably.

          BUT THEY WON'T LISTEN.  THEY REFUSE TO LISTEN.

        •  No. (none)
          No no no.

          Corporations cannot spend any funds for the candidates of their choice, online or offline.  2 USC 441b.  Wertheimer is deliberately wrong.

          •  So what do you think his motivation is, Adam?? (none)
            I understand the point about the corporate prohibition remaining in place.  

            But I am experiencing cognitive dissonance.  I reviewed your recent work supporting the bill cosponsored by Conyers and opposing the new Shays/Meehan bill regarding online activity.

            It looks to me like I am more or less in full agreement with you.  Especially with regard to sites in and of themselves.  No matter how much money is put into a site to make it look appealing, the audience has to actively choose to open the link and read the contents.  There just seems to be no threat to the basic regulatory regime, even if it doesn't fit within the old definitions of what constitutes an "expenditure," etc.

            The concerns I have would be banner/pop-up ads and unsolicited e-mails and who pays for them and whether they are coordinated with a candidate, and non-candidate sites that solicit and/or collect money for candidates.  

            What are the scenarios Shays, Meehan and Wertheimer envision where a basic, across-the-board press exemption for blogs and the like will be abused by nefarious, wealthy, corporate entities?  It just doesn't make sense.

            •  not a psychologist, and (none)
              I've never talked to him.  So I'm not going to speculate on his motivations.

              One of their fears, clearly, is the "Haliburton blog", which is just silly.  And I just think generally, it might be a fear of the unknown.

              But here's the thing, and it's a point I've made repeatedly, so I'll quote myself from when I think I said it best:

              In sum, the Internet fulfills through technology what campaign finance reform attempts via law. It magnifies the power of each citizen's voice to equal that of large corporations. Any speech, whether from a campaign, a wealthy PAC or a news report, can be immediately countered by any ordinary citizen-as the Internet's uncovering of the "Rathergate" scandal showed. . . .

              Wealth loses its corrupting power online because it cannot silence the opposition. If reducing money's influence on politics is the FEC's command, a vibrant online marketplace of ideas is the solution.

  •  Wertheimer beyond reproach?? (none)
    Bullshit.

    We've seen time and time again where some big company spends a load of dough on a website and it doesn't do any better than some kid with Flash.  Talk of regulating the Internet helps nobody.

    Don't think for a second that the Religious Right in this country wouldn't love to lock down the Internet.  In fact, I'll bet that if the Republicans hold congress in '06, that we've got maybe 10 years before the Internet is completely regulated.  And they'll do it in the name of "protecting the children".  Fact is, people in power just HATE the idea that anybody can say anything, and it can reach millions, and they can't do anything about it.

    If we don't get behind organizations like EFF, it's a matter of WHEN not IF we will lose the freedom that the Internet brings us.

    Yes, you dopes, it IS a level playing field.  When I open a web site, I cannot tell if there's someone enormously rich and powerful behind it or the kid with pimples next door.  That is its great strength.

    And you best believe that there are plenty of Democrats and so-called liberals who would also like to see the Internet regulated, but they're "protecting us from Hate Speech" blah blah.  If they have power, they want to keep it, and the system that gave them power, intact.  The internet threatens that system in ways we haven't even thought of yet, so in thier minds, it has to go.  Wertheimer can kiss my ass.

  •  Did YOU read Perlstein? (none)
    When a person, like Fred Wertheimer, does something that might effect you, he is corrupt? Did you even read the Perlstein comments? Fred Wertheimer has done a lot more for good government than you. (at least so far, I still have hope for you)
    •  All the more troubling (none)
      Nobody is denying Wertheimer's past efforts in fighting the good fight. On this one though, he appears to be wrong. ANd not just wrong, but by the definition of his own "logic" is inherently a corrupting influence.

      I and you may not think he is, but that is the basis of his argument and it is bunk. It also work contrary to the larger basic principles which we as a nation were founded on, unfettered public discourse (particularly in the realm of politics).

      cheers,

      Mitch Gore

      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

      by Lestatdelc on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 01:14:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  KOS lies (none)
      KJos did not tell everyone that other good government organizations were with Democracy 21.
      The letter was signed by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and US PIRG. All of these organizations are now corrupt? I think KOS is distorting the issue and lying by ommision. All to protect his power base?  Is it even threatened? Knowing these organizations - I doubt it.
  •  Aw. (none)
    I see that RedState has a similar post.

    You know, I can see why RedState would want to equate Democracy 21 to Jack Abramoff.  After all, they hate campaign finance reform, and would love to slime its advocates.  And they would love for the public to see the Abramoff scandal as bipartisan, or at least, not limited to Republicans.

    But I can't see why Daily Kos would want to do the same.

    •  Wertheimer wants to kill DailyKos. (none)
      Do you think he should be allowed to do so?

      Furthermore, Wertheimer wants to kill all blogs that dare talk about politics.  Kos, my blog, Susie Bright's sex-and-politics blog -- all gone.  Even if, like me, you DON'T take ads; in-kind efforts are still treated as "donations".

      Meanwhile, the media is exempt from all of this, and rightly so.  This is why it's possible to have letters to the editor, or for Bill O'Reilly to shill for candidates.  If you let one do it, let them ALL do it.  Why should I be forced to shut down a blog which is little more than a series of Letters to the Editor?

  •  Fire at will (none)
    Fire at will is pretty polite.
  •  once again Kos forsakes progressive principles (none)
    ON this one issue, Kos seems destined to turn, hulk-like, into a freeper monster every time.

    Look, I have Adam B's stuff and some of it makes sense to me and some does not. But at least he (sometimes) tries to make arguments and deal with specifics. Kos, why do you fail to realize or acknowledge that campaign finance reform and an end to influence buying by powerful interests ARE a progressive issue? Presumably, everyone on this blog supports the free speech rights of blogs, and the use of blogs to raise funds for candidates and causes. But a lot of us also believe in reducing the impact of concentrated money interests on politics, because we see that as a progressive value, a progressiveprinciple, that democracy should be open to the poor as well as the rich, to the organized many as well as the powerful few.

    Our task, then, is to try to balance the progressive power blogs confer on ordinary citizens, without creating a Trojan horse that undermines that very power. Yet you consistently paint anyone who is not a rabid true blog-believer, anyone concerned with the potential conflicts and issues here, as an idiot (I believe you called Garrison Keilor that, on a post almost completely characterized by misinformation on your part), a hypocrite (as in this post), or, most infamously, as a member of YOUR ENEMIES LIST. (I still think you owe everyone on this blog a huge mea culpa for that horrendous travesty; do you even listen to yourself on this issue?).

    Why don't you see that when you demonize the underlying value here, you sound just like all the enemies of more democratic politics? Why don't you see that you MUST  confront the difficult issues here, and can't hide from them by snarky posts like this one? Blogs and the blogosphere are not inherently good -- they are just tools like everything else. It should be the interest of every progressive to not want to create loopholes here in the progressive financing of campaigns. YOur shrieks against legislation you think would throw the baby out with the bath water (i.e., would undermine the free speech and organizing forums of blogs altogether) would have so much more force if you would offer alternatives that still validate the issue of campaign finance reform. But it seems that on this issue, you are just a complete free-marketeer, who views any encroachment on your God-given right to have your unrestricted acre of blog as some offense against the foundation of the universe itself.

    Kos, you can shout that as loud as you like. But, IMHO, it stinks when Norquist says it, and it stinks when you say it, and if you can't see how you morph precisely into Grover every single time you write on this issue, you have a big blind spot.

    "Scrutinize the bill, it is you who must pay it...You must take over the leadership." - Brecht

    by pedestrian xing on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 04:20:08 PM PST

  •  Gee So Called "reformers' being Dishonest? (none)
    What a shock!

    Fred and his gang want to tell us all how to act and behave and over-regulate politics in some vain attempt to get "their" people elected?

    What a shock.

    If he and his crew had been around in 1776 they'd have the publishers of the Federalist Papers jailed because they didn't play by the British Monarch's rules on comments regarding the stamp act.

    Screw him, and screw all the so-called reformers. They don't care about "reform," just making themselves more powerful at "regular people's" expense.

    ____ http://www.schadelmann.com http://www.dewar.us

    by schadelmannII on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 09:06:46 PM PST

  •  Wanker of the day: 'Kos? (none)
    But this got me thinking -- is Fred really that concerned about using unregulated money to buy influence in Congress?

    Because last time I checked, his letter to every congressperson was an effort to influence Congress. And his organization, Democracy 21, is well financed by unknown interests (organizations and foundations whose donors are not public). So it seems that Fred himself is funded by those seeking to "buy influence with members of Congress"?

    Oh, c'mon, 'Kos, that's a cheap shot and you know it. Anybody with half a brain can see the difference between sending a letter to Congress, aka "petitioning the government for redress of grievances," and bundling thousands and thousands in campaign contributions, aka "buying an election." You're just being deliberately obtuse (usually, that's a right-wing debating tactic).

    We get it, OK? You don't agree with Democracy 21's position vis a vis the Internet. Specifically, you favor H.R. 1606 while they oppose it.

    For what it's worth, I agree with the general principle (and by the way, I was an EFF supporter long before you discovered it). Blogs need not, and on First Amendment grounds, generally should not, be regulated. But lately, it seems you've decided to completely throw out the campaign finance reform baby with the Internet bathwater.

    Fine. We'll just go back to the "good old days" of unlimited contributions to any candidate for Congress or President. We'll cut out the "Ranger" and "Pioneer" middlemen and let Halliburton and Exxon-Mobil buy the next George W. Bush the Presidency directly!

    "Did I say 500 tons of sarin and 25,000 liters of anthrax? I meant 'weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.'"

    by Mathwiz on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 03:30:36 PM PST

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