READER COMMENTS ON
"The Empire Strikes Back: Bloggers Under Fire"
(44 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 5:18 pm PT...
Didn't George Tenant make a comment in regards
to coming restrictions on blogs?
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 6:05 pm PT...
I thought blog content was something that the MSM found to be tin-foil trash and not worth the paper it wasn't printed on. Change of tune? Are they lobbying now?
Is it true that every time a print MSM entity mentions a political figure they should count that as political advertisement? What about the little faux news infomercials? The one-sided stories?
Ok, so we'll register overseas, ha.
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 7:15 pm PT...
How bizarre! I was ranting about this yesterday in a piece called "Bloggers May Be Stifled By Campaign Finance Law" on please don't read my blog. And now ... it doesn't make any more sense today than it did yesterday.
What's next? Will a sign on your front lawn count as a political contribution and be subject to limits and disclosure laws? Will they decide that "time is money" and start restricting volunteer work on the grounds that every hour spent working for a candidate or a party could be considered a contribution? This campaign finance law was supposed to outlaw corporate donations and limit the amount of money a person could donate. We were sold this legislation on the grounds that it would bring more democracy to the process. And now there is a possibilty that it could be used to cancel the First Amendment. Wow! How bizarre!!
It doesn't surprise me that John Conyers is in the forefront of the movement to allow the political commentary on the net to continue unfettered. He's gonna need all the support he can get on this. Hint, Hint!
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 7:53 pm PT...
The Iron Mouth has been covering this from the get go.
They have a different take on it, but it's wise to be ever vigilant. We are getting there attention because we are having an effect.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 7:59 pm PT...
In the true "land of the free" (Canada), this is not (now) an issue.
If this fascist protocol should come into effect in the U.S., perhaps American political bloggers can hook up with Canadian bloggers.
I, for one, would help create a blog to help our American friends.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 8:04 pm PT...
Hmm...Time to setup an offshore server company perhaps?...Hmmm...
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 8:09 pm PT...
Would the "server" be an issue or simply the fact that you're an American?
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 8:47 pm PT...
I wonder if we could launder our points of origin the way these crooks launder their finances-of-orgigin. Sure! I've heard that it's done. Al Qaida does it all the time. So do hackers. Let's ride the Freedom to Express!
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 8:50 pm PT...
My typos are driving me crazy. That's what comes of typing in the pitch-dark. "origin," Al Qaeda."
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 8:57 pm PT...
Legislation and laws do not determine what is right and wrong. Right and wrong exist and cannot be changed thru laws and legislation. You do what is right: Novak should disclose his source, because a crime has occurred, and a American patriot's life has been placed in potential danger. Brad should not disclose his source if this places the source's life in danger - perhaps in danger from people within the government itself. Laws and legislation put in place by criminals and fraudsters will not succeed in extinguishing the truth. In fact, attempts to silence the truth will make it ring out louder, and longer, and incessantly - until the injustices are rectified, and all traitors of the honor and integrity of the United States of America are forever removed from the government by the people, and for the people. To those who wish to extinguish FREE SPEECH in the United States of America, and IT WILL be your particular undoing. So, in words you may understand, BRING IT ON!!!
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 9:28 pm PT...
I like that..... Peggy #10.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 9:42 pm PT...
I think we might have the opposite problem with the blogosphere. As it's power and popularity grow, the more corporate advertising will want a piece of the action. Just imagine the monetary potential here. They won't interfere with that. But we will have to be on guard, so as not to fall into the big trap. That is probably the greatest threat, control wise. So maybe this will be a test of our real commitment to truth and our freedom.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 9:47 pm PT...
And of course, the more under fire the better. That means attention, and more readership. Free advertising. As Peggy said, BRING IT ON!!!"
Get your neurons cocked, everybody!!
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 11:00 pm PT...
One of the main things we have to keep in mind is that freedom of the printed press would be in equal jeopordy to the internet blogs of today from these NeoFascists, if it were also as new.
"Deep Throat"'s anonymity was protected by law. It's an old law, and it wouldn't be there, if these same people (who want blogs to be unable to protect their sources) had the power to do anything about it. They can't, but blogs are new. The blogs' freedom of speech will be attacked in an extremely virulent way.
If the traditional media did not have the constitution protecting it in such a traditional way, it would be under the same attack (do you think Apple wants to see the traditional media be able to protect its sources? Not a chance in hell!).
They have to keep up appearances, and not attack traditional media's right to protect sources, so they start a campaign to brand it as "liberal-biased" instead, attempting to neutralize it's effects (the Dan Rather debacle is a classic example: the fact that Bush was a draft-dodger/deserter got buried in the right-wing blitz of the questionable origin of some of the documents. And here you have Tom Feeney throwing victory parties for getting rid of him, inferring he's a communist. It's revolting!).
This is all about chipping away at our freedom, and it will never stop! Far too many of our citizens are being hypnotised into supporting a government who is actively working against their best interests.
These NeoFascists are at war against the protection our constitution affords the common man/woman. It's "pickpocket"/televangelisism mentality. The left hand is supplying rhetoric, playing to your fears, biases, intolerance, and greed, while the right hand is picking your pocket of your basic rights as an American citizen.
If you refuse to recognize it's a war, they will win. This is the way Hitler operated.
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 11:10 pm PT...
...Brad said on 3/5/2005 @ 8:04pm PT...
"Hmm...Time to setup an offshore server company perhaps?..."
Yes. There is always a danger in underestimating the ruthlessness of the people you're taking on - the "not in America!" mentality. You're considered an enemy by some very ruthless, dangerous people, and can't afford to lose sight of it. They want you GONE!
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 3/5/2005 @ 11:24 pm PT...
"Until recently, we had felt that any attempts to regulate blogging or "The Internets" would be quickly found unconstitutional even if mandated by legislative action."
I am afraid that NOTHING is unconstitutional anymore, Brad. Not with this Supreme Court. Otherwise the so-called PATRIOT Act would have been shredded a long time ago.
CYA and all your other parts as well, friends!
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 1:08 am PT...
I think attempts to crack down on the net would bring down this corrupt government quicker than the it's intended target. And it would have to deal with both sides of the poliitical divide. I think The Iron Mouth has a point when he says that Bradley Smith is a liar. He's a Republican, after all.
"So then why did Smith attempt to paint his hands as tied in this matter? Simple--he wanted to discredit the McCain-Feingold bill as a whole. If he can get left-wing bloggers to start up a "united front" with the rest of the denizens of the Internet, pressure might build for the repeal of the law."
The Apple case is a bit different. There is no political component and what these folks did was more akin to try using the first amendment as a shield in an innappropriate way. I am not a fan of secret and proprietary technologies, especially in the election process, but it does have a place in some instances.
There are several posts dealing with this issue at The Iron Mouth
"There will be no crackdown on blogging, despite what Bradley Smith says. Even if rules which strike at the heart of political blogging are drafted, there are things that we can do to shape those rules.
As many of you already know, Bradley Smith, former FEC Chair and current FEC Commissioner gave an interview to Declan McCullagh over at CNET News. CNET's editors provocatively titled the piece "The Coming Crackdown on Blogging." After "A" list blogger Atrios posted a link to the article, the blogs exploded. Unlikely alliances sprouted into being as rightists over at RedState.org and Kossacks from DailyKos joined hands to protest the new "rules."
But there are no "new rules." Smith, a single member of the Commission, was arguing that the decision by Judge Kathleen Kollar-Kotelly in the case of Shays v. Meehan would essentially tie the hands of the Commission and force them to regulate the blogs tightly. According to Smith,
The FEC in the late 1990s (in the Leo Smith case) that I don't think we'd hold to today, saying that if you owned a computer, you'd have to calculate what percentage of the computer cost and electricity went to political advocacy.
It seems absurd, but that's what the commission did. And that's the direction Judge Kollar-Kotelly would have us move in.
But that is expressly NOT what the opinion of Kollar-Kotelly said. Kollar-Kotelly's 157 page opinion deals with the Internet exclusion issue on pp. 48-58. The analysis involves the application of the Supreme Court's Chevron analysis of challenges of Agency regulations. Kollar-Kotelly held that Congress did not include the Internet as a definition of public communication, but that there was no evidence that Congress intended to exclude the Internet from “any other form of general public political advertising” as defined in the BCRA. See 2 U.S.C.§ 431(22). Thus, Congress intended all other forms of “general public political advertising” to be covered by the term “public communication.” p. 55-57.
The question then is whether links to candidate's pages on blogs, advocating for candidates on blogs or ads on blogs are "general public political advertising." According to Kollar-Kotelly, “[w]hile not all Internet communications do not fall within this descriptive phrase, some clearly do.” at 52. So who is to decide what falls under that umbrella? Kollar-Kotelly indicates that "[w]hat constitutes "general public political advertising" in the world of the Internet is a matter for the FEC to determine. p. 56-57. (Emphasis added).
Thus, Bradley Smith is pushing the truth a long way when he says that the judge is pushing the FEC to start going after every single link in every blog directing to a candidate's website. Whether or not that is the case is up to Mr. Smith and his cohorts, not Judge Kollar-Kotelly. I think it is highly unlikely that the FEC is going to come up with a huge scheme to monitor blogs for links to a candidate's web pages. The FEC could create a definition of "general public political advertising" that would only include obvious canned political ads provided by the candidate or third party which linked to a candidate's website. Mere advocacy and linking would not count as advertising. This would not prevent bloggers from advocating for whomever they wanted.
So then why did Smith attempt to paint his hands as tied in this matter? Simple--he wanted to discredit the McCain-Feingold bill as a whole. If he can get left-wing bloggers to start up a "united front" with the rest of the denizens of the Internet, pressure might build for the repeal of the law.
As I said earlier, the constitutionality of measures to control speech on blogs is dubious. The vast majority of them, like this one, are privately maintained journals not under the control of any organization or group. Second, the regulations against such speech must pass a legal test known as "strict scrutiny," the highest form of constitutional review. The regulation must be narrowly tailored to meet an overriding state interest. Furthermore, the least restrictive means must be used to effect the regulation's mandate. Here, banning of blog links or mandatory reporting of linking by bloggers would cover almost every type of non-journalistic internet political posting which linked to a candidate's website and would be extremely restrictive, because it would require reporting on a massive scale, along with fines. Chilling effect indeed.
Of course enforcement would also be a huge problem. An army of monitors would be required to follow up on leads regarding ads. The FEC's budget would have to grow by multiples just to hire the persons necessary to monitor and prosecute violations.
So what should bloggers do? Simple. Wait for the proposed regulations to come out. A comment period will follow. Someone should be in charge of monitoring rulemaking over at FEC. When the regulations come down, individual bloggers and committees should get together to flood the General Counsel of the FEC with plenty of suggestions regarding the regulations to ensure that regular advocacy blogging is treated like it should be--the man on the street saying his piece.
Update, Friday 1:49 As if you needed more proof, here's Instapundit citing Ed Morrisey:
McCain and Feingold have managed to foster real bipartisanship --- they've gotten liberal and conservative bloggers alike to detest them. Jerome Armstrong at MyDD, Atrios, and DailyKos all agree --- this legislation has become a serious threat to political speech, and John McCain and Russ Feingold have become two of the most dangerous politicians to American liberty since Huey Long. Jerome makes the point that the problem at the moment are the three Democratic FEC commissioners who appear intent on enforcing the law as McCain and Feingold insist, but both parties had a hand in creating this fiasco.
Morrisey has no idea what the Commissioners are going to do. Just because they voted not to appeal the decision, does not mean they will then vote to "crack down on blogging." The only person suggesting this is one Bradley Smith."
COMMENT #18 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 1:23 am PT...
Having said all that, (whew!) Brad does have reason to be concerned. However, I also think he would find legal representation available at little or no cost, if push came to shove, and the opportunity to engage in the mutual discovery process of litigation, depositions etc., with such people as Tom Feeney should be considered as a silver lining. Which is why we have yet to see Gannon sue anyone. That's the last place these folks want to be, involved in civil litigation. Don't worry, Brad. We will break you out of jail if we have to.
COMMENT #19 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 1:34 am PT...
Brad, do check out Iron Mouth, he is an attorney that practices in D.C. and the debate going on in the comments to his three posts on this issue will be of interest to you.
COMMENT #20 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 2:04 am PT...
Famous for Toblerone, Nazi Loot, Swiss Bank Accounts and soon, Servers for Bloggers who don't wish to be served!
COMMENT #21 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 2:06 am PT...
MyDD thinks it is a big deal, but has suggestions for dealing with it. It looks like we have to hold hands with the other side.
COMMENT #22 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 2:43 am PT...
Just set up your servers up out here in the free world, it might be entertaining to see them try to extradite someone for running a web site that they don't like. Actually, they'd probably just get the CIA to abduct them from their home nation and ship them out to Pakistan or Egypt for one of those "counselling" sessions they like so much, just like they did in Italy...
Just a thought, but as the GOP'ers always claim to hate big government, why (oh why, oh why) does every single idea that they come out with involve setting up MORE government departments?
Except Kyoto (or any environmental regulations come to think of it).
Or Landmine bans.
Or child soldiers.
Okay, my bad. :satisfied:
Keep the faith.
COMMENT #23 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 2:47 am PT...
As I mentioned to Brad above, they might apply the law regardless of where the server is. As long as it is owned / controlled by an American. I dunno?
The solution, of course, would be to have a foreigner's help (as the middle-man).
COMMENT #24 [Permalink]
Robert Lockwood Mills
said on 3/6/2005 @ 3:37 am PT...
Conyers has it exactly right, as usual. The key phrase is "provided the (blogger wasn't compensated..." If the G.O.P. can pay Armstrong Williams $250,000, catch momentary flak and then go about business as usual (Williams now has a new show, by the way), then politics is simply about who has the most money to throw around.
I don't agree that Congress should abandon oversight of blogs altogether. There are dangerous people out there, calling for violence. Give a kid a Molotov cocktail which he explodes in a train station, killing 100 people, trace his conduct back to something he saw on a blog, and you'll have public support for eliminating them completely.
COMMENT #25 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 7:04 am PT...
If they outlaw blogs, only outlaws will have blogs.
Breakin' the law, breakin' the law!
Breakin' the law, breakin' the law!
COMMENT #26 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 7:28 am PT...
In our last discussion on this (link here) I mentioned one must look at the jurisdiction involved, and also the the facts (criminal or civil issue).
This case came down in California in a lower court ruling. And california has an appellate system where the law in one appellate circuit is not always the law in the others.
In other words another california appellate court could rule the opposite way and they do all the time.
The law in the Fourth Judicial District does not have to be the law in the First Judicial District, and so forth. So this ruling is green, and applies to only one segment of California at this time.
So right away the jurisdiction, even if it goes to California's Supreme Court and is upheld (which is not at all certain), the effect is still limited to California.
Arizona, for instance, or Florida, or Indiana, etc., could have the opposite ruling. That is standard fare.
Also this case has factual scenario that can, in some circumstances be criminal (stealing by publication of trade secrets). So there is that factor.
So here are three points to remember in these cases: 1) the jurisdiction (area effected); 2) the type of case framed by the facts; and 3) the lawyers.
I want to expand on #3.
We are wise to be concerned. But we are unwise to accept defeat. This is embryonic at this point.
I strongly suggest that we hook up with the ACLU which has the most expertise in the arena of federal constitution law.
This is not the time to play with wanker lawyers ... get the big guns involved.
COMMENT #27 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 8:10 am PT...
I can't see how treating print different from web could possibly work.
First, if a mainstream newspaper prints an online edition with the same articles, do they lose their 1st amendment rights when they print it on the web? (our local newspaper does exactly that). One would presume it was protected.
If that is the case, if a blogger were to once a week dump their web page and print it out (along with comments?), and offer it as a local newsletter (say by putting a stack in a few local eateries) would that be protected?
If it is, how often do you need to "dump" your blog, How big does your circulation have to be? Can you circulate it among your thee best friends? If it isn't sufficient for protection, what about all those little papers. We have tons of little papers ranging from community newsletters, to "Out in the Mountains", a gay oriented newsletter, to real estate rags. Which ones of those are protected?
And of course, who has jurisdiction if a Canadian blogs about US politics?, if a US citizen uses a server in Canada, If a Canadian takes material written by a US citizen and posts it on their blog with a server in Canada?
I see a huge legal nightmare, unfortunately with two solutions. (1) extend the first amendment to all forms of communication, or (2) get rid of the first amendment everywhere. Fortunately, I see no way that the US can censor Canadian bloggers without the assistance of Canada short of violating international law.
COMMENT #28 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 8:43 am PT...
For heaven's sake Brad, while they were seeking comment from you for a story on blogging, why didn't you ask for a comment on the Ohio story or the Tom Feeney story, or so many others that have simply been ignored? Without you and others I would be taking the news from the Times or Post without question. Now I see the subtle shading of almost every news release. How many times have I heard the news about the journalist released in Irag and subquently shotat. Not ONCE have I read what she actually said about it...which puts an entirely differnt picture on what actually happened. Its more than annoying--its really frightening that control of one party has reached through not only the government bu the press as well. Is it even remotely possible that any change can occur?
COMMENT #29 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 9:22 am PT...
re #28 --- Yes it is remotely possible and in fact that's why we are trying so hard to get to the truth and spread it around. Nobody can do it all by himself [or herself] but if enough people know what's going on and are working for changes, then there will be no way to stop changes from happening.
This is only my opinion but I invite you to share it.
COMMENT #30 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 2:29 pm PT...
Winter P. #29
The momentum is already too great to stop the changes from happening. They are here to stay. We are witnessing a revolution in communication. NOTHING will stop it. Truth and lies exist equally in life. They balance one another, and will always exist together. We are the smart and lucky ones to be on the side of truth, as long as we remain vigilant, check our facts, stay rational, and keep the fear levels minimized.
It would be logistically impossible to implement control. And this forum has stuck a deep chord in the people. They absolutely love it, and will not relinquish the connection. If the government tried, it would trigger a huge and regrettable response.
COMMENT #31 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 3:20 pm PT...
I was at the hearing. The above link is to my blog where I detail what happened. I'm still optimistic the judge will reverse. I am also the new host for PowerPage.org.
COMMENT #32 [Permalink]
said on 3/6/2005 @ 10:34 pm PT...
"If a Canadian takes material written by a US citizen and posts it on their blog with a server in Canada?"
Thanks for echoing my thoughts. Now, does anyone have any opinion about that specific example?
That is, a foreigner being used as a journalistic "middle man" to the public.
COMMENT #33 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 8:17 am PT...
Yeah, okay... Just a question: What law? If you guys are dragged in, just say: "If the President can break the law; if Congress can; then the social contract is broken and I am not bound under the Constitution"
COMMENT #34 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 8:57 am PT...
Larisa --- you're a genius! We should compile a list of all the laws GWB has broken, Congress has broken, corporations have broken... you get the idea! When we are all arrested for real or imagined crimes, we will have this list at the ready!
Not that it would actually mean anything to those prosecuting (persecuting) the case...
COMMENT #35 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 11:35 am PT...
Marc Perkel #31 Thanks for the link. You did help frame the issue. Let us know what the judge does.
Charles #27 "And of course, who has jurisdiction if a Canadian blogs about US politics?, if a US citizen uses a server in Canada, If a Canadian takes material written by a US citizen and posts it on their blog with a server in Canada?"
Exactly. The bottom line is that the issue is going to have to move into the federal forum.
Congress. And even congress cannot regulate Canada or any other country.
So then it will have to move into international treaty law.
I think it is too much for them to handle at this time and we are not on the verge of anything substantial with this case.
COMMENT #36 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 1:39 pm PT...
US laws apply to US jurisdiction. Servers hosting and editing content in other countries are not bound by these laws.
If the Republican government passes such *controls*, hosting will simply move offshore - undoubtedly at the expense of corporations that derive revenue from such hosting arrangements. Somthing that will no doubt create conflict within the Republican hierachy.
Attempts to filter content, as in the case of China or Iran, will only result in circumvention by the willing and reduced profit for the unwilling. Again, something that will no doubt create conflict within the corporate-sponsored Republican world.
Seems like they lose any way you look at it. : )
COMMENT #37 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 3:14 pm PT...
I would let the judge in the California case know about "The White House Blogger" (link here) because it tends to improve the image of bloggers as bona fide journalists.
That blogger, incidently, is what neocon's would call a "lefty".
That is good news in the sense that Gannon had tarnished the reputation of bloggers.
Yes the image of the bloggers we have been criticising is image which the neocon Gannon had tarnished.
Honor and morality saved by the left !!!
COMMENT #38 [Permalink]
Tired of the Noise
said on 3/7/2005 @ 5:22 pm PT...
" the truth shall set you free" (lies will keep you in power!)
COMMENT #39 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 5:39 pm PT...
Agreed, the provisions of the Consitution and the Bill of Rights are considered 'quaint' by this Administration. I for one welcome regulation and fascist crackdown of the Internet - it would create a massive Internet underground! Maybe it's childish of me but I get excited by the idea of outlaw bloggers and journalists
COMMENT #40 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 6:02 pm PT...
Good day for bloggers. The AP carried the story of the new blogger in the White House Brief room, and outs Gannon (link here).
COMMENT #41 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 9:00 pm PT...
This is good news, establishing the legitimacy of blogs as a news-reporting entity.
COMMENT #42 [Permalink]
said on 3/7/2005 @ 9:27 pm PT...
You said it, Bob. And I never argue with a guy as smart as Bob!
COMMENT #43 [Permalink]
President of Peace and Positive Energy
said on 3/8/2005 @ 9:25 am PT...
Bloggers Report the news. they shall continue to bring the truth to us.
COMMENT #44 [Permalink]
said on 5/7/2005 @ 9:33 am PT...
There were extremely excellent scenes in the movie "The Empire Strikes Back".
Good originality and great imagination in this movie!
I'm very interested in science fiction movies.