« the mouse and the elephant | Main

March 05, 2005

It was the strawberries ... the strawberries ...

John McQueegFor good reason the blogsphere is rightfully alarmed by the threats coming from the FEC in regards to free speech on the Internet. Transcripts of the interview with FEC commissionar Bradley Smith can be found at Redstate.org.

She [Judge Koller-Cotella] orders us to regulate the Internet, again what I point out is -- it is in no way limited to paid advertising. In fact, it would be contrary to the tone of the opinions limited only to paid advertising. In another part of the opinion, she struck down one of our regulations where we exempted unpaid advertising. So, I, you know, this was, it’s – it’s in no ways limited to unpaid advertising ...

I note that we didn’t have enough votes to muster up an appeal of the judge’s decision, uh, on this particular issue, so obviously, uh, half of my colleagues [the 3 Democrats] at least feel that we should be doing more regulation of the Internet.

The McCain-Feingold Campaign "reform" bill was conceived and passed before I became a blogger. At that time, I posted on message boards, some on Yahoo!, where I argued vehemently against the bill as a direct assault on free speech. The idea that somehow if some speech could be defined as having "monetary value" then it could be regulated as "in-kind" contributions struck me, not as a noble exercise to keep so-called corruption out of elections, but as a fortification of the incumbents' ramparts against the challenging rabble. Indeed, the restrictions on all ads within the immediate time-period before an election is particularly egregious. Of course, one didn't see any particularly hard-hitting newspaper editorials opposing McCain-Feingold because such free-speech regulation reinforces the newspapers' traditional King-making power. Newspapers can still run their own editorial endorsements and, as we clearly saw in the last election, can slant their "news" coverage of the candidates in support of their editorial position.

The McCain-Feingold Incumbents Protection Act got its impetus during the 2000 campaign as John McCain railed, shrieked and gnashed his teeth over "dirty Texas money" financed independent ads sullying his sainted and clearly not-to-be-questioned record in Arizona. McCain was so incensed over individuals exercising their First Amendment rights on their own dime he figured it had to be a conspiracy that must be stopped. The MSM embraced the "maverick" McCain who's ostensible mantel of Republicanism allowed them to use his intemperate remarks and attacks on fellow Republicans as a figleaf for their own anti-Republican bent. They rarely questioned his red-faced podium pounding about "reforming" campaign "finances" and certainly didn't ask the tough questions on squaring the outright bans on "advocacy" with the First Amendment.

And now, in the wake of the 2004 elections and the success of the blogsphere, the sights of those who can't stand independent speech has been set upon the Internet and bloggers. The language of the McCain-Feingold used to piddle all over the Constitution in regards to "in-kind contributions" is being geared up as a firehose aimed at people who are using the Internet as a virtual townhall. It's not only Free Speech but Free Association that has arroused the continued ire of Capt. John McQueeg (as evidenced by his disingenuous attacks on the Swiftboat Vets who spoke out against John Kerry). For McQueeg and his fellow travelers in the FEC, people are allowed only to associate, trade information, debate the merits and demerits of issues and candidates when such activities ineffectual. There is little difference in kind between my advocacy speech in puting up a "Bush-Cheney 04" sign in my front yard and having the same graphic on my weblog. But McQueeg wants my weblog defined as a "monetary contribution." If I host a cocktail party for 25 neighbors to share campaign literature I received from a presidential candidate or I send an email to 25 people in my address book with the same information, McQueeg wants the FEC to "regulate" the latter.

As long as us little-people know our place on the good ship [Mc]Caine, Cap'n John won't punish us.

I call bovine excrement. This is a direct assault on the Constitution. And I don't want to hear about "end runs" around the regulations that call for bloggers to have to do something to "qualify" as the press so they can get an exemption. I have the right under the First Amendment to Free Speech and Free Association. No one, no McQueeg, no Judge Koller-Cotella, no FEC Democrat can take that away. My blog is my own piece of virtual real estate and if I can have a sign on my lawn or a cocktail party in my house than I can damned well do the same thing here.

I will not be shutup or shutdown. The last thing all the McQueeg's want to fool with is a pre-menopausal woman. I just am in no mood to suffer such mendacity.

Others discussing the issue:

Jeff Harrell rightfully points out that the Federalist Papers (a series of public relation advocacy releases written under a :::gasp::: pen name) would have been banned under McCain-Feingold.
Capt. Ed writes an open letter here
LaShawn Barber notes that this issue unites bloggers across the political spectrum here.
Powerline has been running with this across several posts, the latest on how McQueeg's mouthpiece is trying to deceptively quiet the great unwashed bloggers.
Michelle Malkin posts a nice roundup of related links.

You know, hyperlinks which the FEC thinks represents in-kind "contributions". Gosh, ya'think if I put a bunch of charity hyperlinks on my blog the IRS will let me deduct them as "in-kind" monetary contributions??

Of course, the irrepressible CITIZEN JOURNALIST weighs with a mini-manifesto and an update.

UPDATE Capt. Salty, while disclaiming any endorsement of McCain-Feingold, skates around the semantics of "advocacy" and "activism" while asking why shouldn't "activist" Screw-'em-Markos be regulated by campaign "finance" laws. Let me be perfectly clear and this is where my libertarian side (do notice the small "L") comes to the fore. As long as all financial arrangements are disclosed and transparent, IMHO any further "regulation" of campaign "finances" are an assault on the First Amendment. Limiting MY ability to use MY money, whether it's for a backyard BBQ for Bush or a weblog for the Governator, is a direct contradiction of everything the Founding Fathers were thinking when they drew up the Constitution.

Posted by Darleen at March 5, 2005 08:58 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference It was the strawberries ... the strawberries ...:

» Liberal and Conservative Bloggers United from La Shawn Barber's Corner
In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn... [Read More]

Tracked on March 5, 2005 10:13 AM

» Yes, Virginia, there is a blogosphere from The Liferaft of Love
So, yes Darleen, there is a blogosphere, and it will continue to be there long after The Big Trunk finds something else to try to give everyone the willies over. [Read More]

Tracked on March 5, 2005 02:29 PM


One suggestion, When you post images you should use hspace="10" and vspace="10" in the img tag to give the image some padding around it. That way the text is not touching the picture. It looks better.

Posted by: Joefish at March 5, 2005 04:04 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)