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Bloggers Exempted From Campaign Laws 230

MaceyHW writes "The Federal Election Commission ruled today that the only online political activity subject to Campaign Finance Laws are paid advertisements on a third party site. Today's ruling extended the regulations to paid advertising as required by a 2004 Federal Court ruling, but explicitly exempted all other forms of online activity: 'For example, the rule says individuals can use union or corporate computers or other electronic devices for political activity, as long they do it on their own time and are not coerced to engage in such activity by the union or corporation. Bloggers would be entitled to the same exemption from the campaign finance law that newspapers and other traditional forms of media receive. "There will be no second class citizens among members of the media," [FEC Chairman Michael T.] Toner said.'"
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Bloggers Exempted From Campaign Laws

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  • Heh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @06:40PM (#15006709) Journal
    There will be no second class citizens among members of the media," [FEC Chairman Michael T.] Toner said.

    Poor Michael Toner -- you know half his emails get bounced by spam filters. He should change it to T0n3r.

  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@bea[ ]rg ['u.o' in gap]> on Monday March 27, 2006 @06:42PM (#15006726)
    Of course the problem is that the question had to be settled by the FEC in the first place. It should be a no brainer, since after all; "Congress shall make no law...."

    I await the day when we get enough strict constructionists on the Supreme Court to reverse their previous bad decisions, sweeping away McCain Fiengold and most other 'Campaign Finance Laws' that aren't limited to mandatory disclosure requirements. And even those have to go eventually, after all why can't someone donate anonymously? Yes we voters should normally be highly suspiscous of a candidate funded anonymously but I can theorize situations where it might be acceptable.
    • by LordKazan ( 558383 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @06:49PM (#15006785) Homepage Journal
      You do not have a first ammendment right to give money to your candidate for the very reason that Money IS speech. The person with the most money has more of a voice, violating the right to equal representation of the other people in the district.

      Not all exercises of a right are protected exercises: if that exercise infringes upon the rights of others then it is NOT protected - and SHOULD NOT BE.

      The only way to remove the corporate-whore money culture from washington is to REMOVE ALL INDIVIDUAL FUNDING of Candidates. All money for an election should go into one pool, then all the candidates on the ballot should get an equal proportion. Want your candidate to be heard more? ok, but all the others have to be too - if your so convinced of the merits of your candidate than this shouldn't bother you at all.

      At the same time we should switch to instant-runoff voting, and completely open sourced Evoting machines with strict auditing of code, and voter-confirmed paper audit.
      • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:04PM (#15006893) Journal
        This is not really about giving cash to candidates. Even under your scenario: suppose all candidates are funded equally from a public pool. I, a private citizen, wish to dedicate my time and my checking account to persuading as many people as possible that candidate X is the best choice. Under your proposed system, is this permissible? Does it change if I encourage others to join me? If I encourage others to help me by volunteering? Help me with cash donations? What if I voluntarily do the bidding of the campaign manager? What if I try to guess what the campaign manager wants, and do it? What if I take money from the campaign?
        • All your ideas are okay under the current campaign finance rules. You can go buy commercials, put posters up, write a blog, etc as and individual. But to give unlimited contributions directly to a presidental canidate or political party is wrong.

          And to add to the parent posters idea, I think political parties, presidents, and its members should be barred from doing fund raisers for their party. Our president, when not hanging out at his Texas ranch (where he spends the majority of his time) spends quite
          • All your ideas are okay under the current campaign finance rules.

            No, they're not all okay, that's what McCain Feingold is all about! For example, you can make som kinds of independent expenditures (so-called "soft money"), but you can't coordinate with the campaign while doing so. Also, there are now limits to what you can do within a certain time period of the election, and so on.

            But to give unlimited contributions directly to a presidental canidate or political party is wrong.

            There are already la

          • If you want to stop this, then say there is a time period, say 60 days before each election that currently elected members can campaign/fund raise for the candidate/party. Lots of presidents spend time away from DC (it sucks there!), but the Government is still with them. Each presidential retreat has excellent communications just as if he was at the White House. It's also a way to entertain people out of the eyes of everyone in Washington or discuss sensitive issues without "leaks" 15 minutes later.
      • Although I completely agree with you, I can't correlate your post with the fact that I believe bloggers should not be subject to any limitations on what they blog about.

        For that matter, publishers should be able to publish their opinion on political candidates.

        How do we ensure that these "Opinions" don't become paid advertisements?

        A serious question for the parent since you are passionate about the issue and we seem to have similar views.
      • "The person with the most money has more of a voice, violating the right to equal representation of the other people in the district."

        That's quite a stretch. When person A has more of something than person B, YES, there is inequality, but NO it does not mean that person B's rights are being violated. There's a difference.
        • In practice you'll find that my fundamental assertion is correct for the overwhelming majority of cases.

          More money = more representation in the candidates votes - the people with no money get no representation beyond the hotbrand issues which most of them aren't even fully informed enough on to make the correct decision and push their representative into having to make a poor one.
      • The only way to remove the corporate-whore money culture from washington is to REMOVE ALL INDIVIDUAL FUNDING of Candidates

        Wow, what a terrible idea. Like most attempts at regulating this, it won't change anything, just slightly alter the way its done. Under this system, expect to see ads like this:

        "Hi, my name is so and so, I personally enjoy extolling the virtues of candidate X.....virtue virtue virtue.... if you enjoy hearing me speak, please give me money.

        I think, however, it would be a good ide

      • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:13PM (#15006968)
        All money for an election should go into one pool, then all the candidates on the ballot should get an equal proportion. Want your candidate to be heard more? ok, but all the others have to be too - if your so convinced of the merits of your candidate than this shouldn't bother you at all.

        What makes you think campaign contributors are convinced of the merits of their candidates? Quite the opposite is true really, most campaign contributors know full well that what they want from their candidate is in their own best interests, and not in the best interests of the people in general.

        Corporations in particular don't give a crap about whats best for the electorate. Their millions in donations are, first to convince a candidate to turn his back on the people, and second to win that candidate the election.

        They likely wouldn't contribute any money at all in your system... which might very well be a positive side-effect. But its important to realize that probably the vast majority of all contributions are to support a candidate who will represent the contributors private agenda -- not because they are convinced that if the public could be made aware of his merits that they would select him.
        • What makes you think campaign contributors are convinced of the merits of their candidates? Quite the opposite is true really, most campaign contributors know full well that what they want from their candidate is in their own best interests, and not in the best interests of the people in general.

          That was exactly my point.

          They likely wouldn't contribute any money at all in your system... which might very well be a positive side-effect.

          exactomundo
          • That would be the Incumbency Protection Act.

            After all, incumbents get more publicity from exercising the powers of their office, and more free publicity from media members. Try getting the equivalent of a State of the Union address, for instance, without being POTUS.
            • I disagree - simply having your name out there in the news isn't enough to protect an incumbency if you had no more money to spend than you oponant.

              Especially if we tighten up slander laws relating to campaign advertising
      • The only problem with the system you suggest is that it favors the incumbents. Without cold, hard cash there is no way an unknown, but otherwise intelligent and capable person can run for a government office.

        For example, Vermont has a cap on spending in local government races. [burlingtonfreepress.com] Part of that cap includes a mileage reimbursement rate for driving your own car. Therefore, candidates in statewide or even countywide elections can blow their spending cap simply by driving from town to town to meet the voters.

        • The only problem with the system you suggest is that it favors the incumbents. Without cold, hard cash there is no way an unknown, but otherwise intelligent and capable person can run for a government office.

          No it doesn't because the incumbancy advantage is removed. I think you misunderstood my idea.

          Say the race is for president and the pool of money is $100m. There are three candidates -
          The Incumbent
          Challenger A
          Challenger B

          All three get 1/3 of $100m to spend on their campaign - no private money [includin
          • Merely disagreeing with somebody or speaking more often does NOT infringe the rights of others.

            There is no right to have your viewpoint equally represented. None. You do have the same right to vote, assuming that you're a citizen and are registered. You have the same right to use your resources as you'd like, within the content-neutral rules, as anybody else does.

            But if you're a fringe candidate whom nobody wants to listen to, and whose ideas are so unpopular that nobody else wants to back them, you have
            • I'm not talking about the candidates rights - i'm talking about the rights of the citizens they're supposed to serve.
              • Same principle. You have no right to demand that others subsizide your speech, nor to insist that others refrain from espousing their own.

                'Equal representation' is one man, one vote -- oh, and there are certain rules about being able to contact your legislators. That's it.
                • Same principle. You have no right to demand that others subsizide your speech, nor to insist that others refrain from espousing their own.

                  Nobody is being asked to refrain from espousing there own position here - i'm just advocating that they're just not allowed to buy favor from candidates anymore. It's the only solution I see.

                  'Equal representation' is one man, one vote -- oh, and there are certain rules about being able to contact your legislators. That's it.

                  The world according to Stonehand

                  However in Real
          • Right, but the incumbant will always be able to use government vehicles to go on "fact-finding" missions throughout the state/world. Or even just to have "face-to-face" time with local leaders. And oh, by the way, the media will probably be there for his Public Service Announcement, and local supporters can pay $100 a plate for a dinner with the incumbant while he's in town.

            There's nothing wrong with overpaying for dinner. This is a democracy.
            • let's take one of your examples

              what would they do with the money raised by the $100-a-plate dinner? Under the system i proposed it's illegal for them to use it to campaign - so what would they do with it?

              Id make penalties for violations MINIMUM: Felony, bared from elected/appointed government positions for life, jail term.
              • Great. So, suppose Senator Hoohoo is a "friend" of mine. He's coming to town.

                I throw a dinner and invite him as a "guest speaker". Dinners are costly, so the cost of the dinner is $100/$1000/whatever.

                I then use that money to publish a book/newsletter, etc, saying what a great guy Senator Hoohoo is and why everyone should vote for him.

                It's going to take quite a law or quite a court to say that I no longer have the right to assemble with people I want to (the senator and my guests) and that I don't have th
      • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:52PM (#15007255) Homepage Journal
        I agree partially but mostly disagree with you.

        You do not have a first ammendment right to give money to your candidate for the very reason that Money IS speech

        Actually, money is time -- you get money when you save someone time in doing a service or providing them a product. The money they give you their time saved -- they received in doing the same thing for someone else. Rothbard's (free e-)book available here [mises.org] offers a simple explanation of what money is.

        Because money is my time saved, I should be free to use my time (or time saved) as I want as long as I don't directly use that time to harm someone's person or property. If I want to use my time saved ("money") to promote something, I should be free to.

        The difficulty I have with campaign finance laws is that they were written specifically to prevent me from using that time saved in the way I want to. They were written to keep both parties more powerful than the individual, and to also block any third party from using a smaller crowd of individuals to finance their elections.

        The biggest problem with government today is that it is too powerful, taking over rights left to the individual. When a government gets powerful, it attracts the time-saved ("money") from powerful individuals. It uses this over-broad power to harm the masses at the profit of the few.

        If you want to fix the system, you need to remove the powers they've taken against their Constitutional and ethical limits. Ridding Congress and the Executive Branch of their excessive powers will remove most people's desires to finance the elections in order to get favoritism-treatment (ie, cronyism).

        The idea of public funding is bad because there are other laws preventing most people from getting on a ballot. The problem is not the funding, the problem is the power given to the elected.
      • > You do not have a first ammendment right to give money to your candidate for the very
        > reason that Money IS speech.

        Wow, that is doublethink of a quality not seen (other than as deliberate satire) outside of Daily Kos. You admit that money IS speech yet somehow in the same breath claim that makes it speech NOT protected by the 1st Amendment. Sorry, if it is speech then "Congress shall make NO law...."

        Yes, some people, some causes, will have more money than other people or causes. Some political mo
        • Wow, that is doublethink of a quality not seen (other than as deliberate satire) outside of Daily Kos.

          that is both an argumentum ad hominem, and you are ignoring the rest of the statement that explains that - allow me to state it again: The person with the most money has more of a voice, violating the right to equal representation of the other people in the district.

          This is an issue BEYOND partisanship, and you just revealed yourself as not being able to raise above partisanship ever - not even when the pre
          • Remind me which part of the constitution guarantees the rights of political candidates on the campaign trail equal representation?

            You couldn't possibly equate having more advertising time with equal representation under the law...

            If you're talking about any laws created after the constitution that somehow limit political campaigning, they're ALL unconstitutional.
            • Remind me which part of the constitution guarantees the rights of political candidates on the campaign trail equal representation?

              I'm not talking about the political candidates having equal time on the air with their adds

              i'm talking about the citizens they serve having an equal voice in congress/the presidency
              • They do... they elect the candidate. If they stupidly do that based on advertisements, it's their own fault.
                • This has nothing to do with advertising - this is about people buying favor with candidates which is EXACTLY what campaign contributions are - no matter WHERE they come from.

                  The person with money is buying the favor of the candidate and thereby effectively disenfranchizing those without money.
      • You do not have a first ammendment right to give money to your candidate for the very reason that Money IS speech. The person with the most money has more of a voice, violating the right to equal representation of the other people in the district.

        People who are famous also have more of a voice. Should there be restrictions on what famous people are and aren't allowed to do, so that they don't "violate the right to equal representation"?

        Equal representation just means that people are able to vote. If they ch
        • People who are famous also have more of a voice.

          In all the replies to my post people keep speaking as if I was speaking of the candidates voice - I am not speaking about the candidates voice - I am speaking about the peoples

          to ensure that third parties never have a chance.

          Yes because All individuals on the ballot receiving equal money - no more, no less favors the Republicans and the Democrats.

          I do that people atleast READ my posts before replying.
      • You do not have a first ammendment right to give money to your candidate for the very reason that Money IS speech. The person with the most money has more of a voice, violating the right to equal representation of the other people in the district.

        Pleased with himself, LordKazan went on to prove that black was white and promptly got himself run over at the next zebra crossing.
      • Stop worshiping the government. Allowing the government to control political donations and censor political advertisments is only going to give the corrupt people in power MORE POWER, not restrict them in any way. The small parties in America, who don't get a cent from corporations or special interest groups, are finding themselves in all sorts of legal and financial problems, when the big parties like the Democrats and Republicans it is buisness as usual. "Campaign Finance Reform" should be called "Third P
        • Perhaps if you bothered to READ MY POST you would realize it would be a BOON FOR THE THIRD PARTIES

          And you need to learn what the definitions of totalitarianism and fascism are my very ingorant foe.

          You do not have the right to buy the favor of your representatives and thereby disenfranchize your fellow man - which is EXACTLY what direct campaign donations is doing and anyone who denies such is full of it
          • And you need to learn what the definitions of totalitarianism and fascism are my very ingorant foe.

            Totalitarianism is a government that controls or regulates nearly everything in society. Most people think totalitarian means "bad", and that "I am not totalitarian, because I am not bad". But the term Totalitarian doesn't include any moral judgements. If you believe in a society where nearly everything is controlled or regulated by the government, you are totalitarian... you may percieve that the government r
      • At the same time we should switch to instant-runoff voting,

        I was with you until this. Instant runoff voting is a deceptively bad way to count ballots. It's easy to explain to a layman, but it has severe problems if you look beneath the surface. For example, it fails the monotonicity criterion [wikipedia.org], which means that sometimes, ranking a candidate higher in an IRV election can cause him to lose, when ranking him lower would cause him to win.

        There are also problems with the amount of data needed to transmit IRV bal
        • But, under Arrow's impossibility theorem [wikipedia.org], no voting system is perfectly "fair" - monotonic, non-dictatorial, et cetera ---- so long as there are at least 2 voters and 3 candidates.

          If no perfect system is possible, that's sad, but no reason not to go for a system that's better than today's risible mess.

          • But, under Arrow's impossibility theorem, no voting system is perfectly "fair"

            Correct. That doesn't mean, however, that all voting systems are equal. IRV fails most objectively defined criteria for voting systems.

            If no perfect system is possible, that's sad, but no reason not to go for a system that's better than today's risible mess.

            The fallacy of this statement is a false dichotomy: we don't have to choose between "today's risible mess" and IRV. There are many systems better than plurality voting, some of
      • Can't work and can;t be implemented.

        Oh and not because its not technically feasible, its because congress would have to close shop and all the approporation committees would be wound up if that happens.

        You are NOT living in Utopia to demand all these.

        Wake up !

    • I await the day when we get enough strict constructionists on the Supreme Court to reverse their previous bad decisions, sweeping away McCain Fiengold and most other 'Campaign Finance Laws' that aren't limited to mandatory disclosure requirements. And even those have to go eventually...

      They tried that already. It was called facisim.
    • Well, there's always the other opinion that any donation of money at all is bribery- pure and simple. I think that's what would result from your idea- a large amount of blatent bribery.
    • I can theorize situations where everybody holds hands and gets along and lives happily in an anarchistic Communist utopia. But the Libertarian notion that you can eliminate the influence of money in politics is no less naive than the Marxist assumption that a dictatorship of the proletariat will gave way to an egalitarian state.

      Yes, regulations on campaign financing should always keep in mind the rights of the contributors. But eliminating such regulation altogether isn't freedom--it's politics for sale,

      • > But the Libertarian notion that you can eliminate the influence of money in politics is no
        > less naive than the Marxist assumption that a dictatorship of the proletariat will gave way
        > to an egalitarian state.

        You assume we WANT to eliminate the influence of money. Not at all, we couldn't care less. Speech == money, money == speech, the two are interchangable and the more of both the better. As a nation we currently spend less electing a POTUS than deciding Coke vs. Pepsi or Tastes Great vs Les
        • If people have a right to free speech, and money is speech, doesn't that mean that the arguments of those in favor of forcing broadcasters to give airtime to people without compensation are valid?

          Money is power. People make money being good (or bad) businessmen, but it says nothing about their politics. You can aid a political campaign by giving money or endorsements. Notice that the latter requires that people actually care about what you have to say, that is, it is earned power. Money is earned economic

          • If people have a right to free speech, and money is speech, doesn't that mean that the arguments of those in favor of forcing broadcasters to give airtime to people without compensation are valid?

            Are you kidding me? Since when did the ability to speak freely include forcing someone else to provide you the venue from which to do it?

            If we're talking about idealism, then we should lay the blame of money buying elections squarely where it belongs: on the public electing people to office because of popularity i
            • Are you kidding me? Since when did the ability to speak freely include forcing someone else to provide you the venue from which to do it?

              If people have a right to free speech, and money is speech, doesn't that mean that the arguments of those in favor of forcing broadcasters to give airtime to people without compensation are valid?

              The argument is valid but unsound but not all of the premises are true. However, if they were true, as jmorris42 claimed, then it would be sound. I'm pointing out the absurdit

          • "Free speech" does not include a right to the medium. You cannot force a newspaper to publish your Letter to the Editor, unless it is explicitly under some obligation to do so.

            If the ads bother you, you're free to attempt to convince others that the ads are wrong. Since political ads are frequently chock-full of distortions through selective presentation of facts (outright slander being somewhat rare), this shouldn't be too difficult.

            At that point, you get to realize that it's not the lack of money that m
          • > If people have a right to free speech, and money is speech, doesn't that mean that the
            > arguments of those in favor of forcing broadcasters to give airtime to people without
            > compensation are valid?

            Someone is confusing Presses and Attorneys. You have the right to an attorney, if you can not afford one, one will be provided for you. On the other hand, while you also have the Right to a Free Press, A Press will not be provided to you for Free. However if you can afford 10.95/mo for Netzero and $
    • "Congress shall make no law...."

      In the consitution:

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      Not in the constitution:

      Congress shall make no law respecting donations to political campaigns.

      The Government has trampled on our 1st Ammend. rights, but to say that consitutionally they ca
    • Here's the thing. On television and radio, you can buy advertising time to the exclusion of the other party. This makes television and radio unlike "speech". No matter how much you speak, you can't keep the other guy from speaking. And no matter how much bandwidth you buy for your website, you can hardly expect to keep the next guy from opening his website.

      Conclusion: Internet like speech. Television, radio unlike speech. Hence the reason the FEC regulates certain things and not others.
      • > On television and radio, you can buy advertising time to the exclusion of the other party.

        In theory perhaps, but in reality I doubt it would ever be a problem. If one side was so well funded it could afford to replace most television programming with campaign infomercials, outbidding the opposing camp for the time no less, then it is a virtual certainty that side is probably going to carry the day some election time. Sorry if that offends your egalitarian sensibilities but that is reality for you.
        • Your neat little worldview doesn't match reality. Neither side was "in power" when the regulations where passed. The latest and most significant restrictions were passed by a Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate, signed by a Democratic President, and approved by a split Supreme Court.
          • > The latest and most significant restrictions were passed by a Republican-controlled House
            > and Democratic-controlled Senate, signed by a Democratic President, and approved by a
            > split Supreme Court.

            No, the first real 'campaign finance laws' were passed by Democrats in the aftermath of Watergate. This latest batch was rammed by Sen McCain(RINO-AZ), Sen Feingold(D-WI), and the MSM(D). Signed by a sometimes conservative President Bush(R) who stated that it was his belief that it was unconstituitio
    • by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:38PM (#15007142)
      I await the day when we get enough strict constructionists on the Supreme Court ...

      There are no strict constructionists on the Supreme Court and there never will be, because there is no such thing as a strict constructionist. When a judge thinks the text is ambiguous he makes a decision based on what he thinks is right. Sometimes, they will even do this when people disagree on whether the text is ambiguous.

      Scalia has done this. Thomas has done this. Rhenquist did it. Every single one of them has done it.

      So have fun waiting on your strict constructionists. You might as well wait for Godot.
      • I agree to an extent, but there's a point you need to reach when you say "Ok, I know what he meant."

        For example, confiscating land for "public use" is quite clear and is vastly different than "private use that might ultimately provide some public good." It didn't take much for 95% of the population to agree on that after the travesty that was the Kelo ruling.
        • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@bea[ ]rg ['u.o' in gap]> on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:08PM (#15008252)
          > For example, confiscating land for "public use" is quite clear and is vastly different
          > than "private use that might ultimately provide some public good." It didn't take much for
          > 95% of the population to agree on that after the travesty that was the Kelo ruling.

          Actually Kelo was a good example of strict constructionism at work. The 'good guys', as opposed to the nimrods who yank new laws fully formed from their asses, on the court ruled against an outcome they clearly would have preferred and stuck to the law as written. The state constituition in question clearly permitted the action and the US Consitituition as a general rule only limits what the US Government can do. So they upheld the taking and noted that if the state laws were different they would have ruled differently, whereupon the outraged folks in the various states looked at their local laws and are in the process of making changes where needed.
          • That's how I see this issue, too, and it's a viewpoint I've rarely seen elsewhere. This is a great example of federalism at work.

            What's weird is that it was the lefties who don't care about the Constitution who voted not to interfere with the land grab, and the conservatives who voted to stop it.

            I guess "conservative" doesn't mean what it used to; now they just vote for what they think is right.

          • The state constituition in question clearly permitted the action and the US Consitituition as a general rule only limits what the US Government can do. So they upheld the taking and noted that if the state laws were different they would have ruled differently ...

            The US Constitution is a "baseline" as far as rights go. State constitutions can provide more protection for individual liberties, but they cannot reduce the protections that the Federal constitution provides.

            For over a hundred years, the 14th Amen
    • I agree, although the last people I want to see on the bench are strict constructionists.
    • The real problem (Score:3, Insightful)

      by XanC ( 644172 )
      Everybody's complaining about you being a Utopian-ist (ugh, sorry) for suggesting this, and that it would quickly degrade into simple bribery. Maybe they're right, but that doesn't change the fact that campaign finance laws are unconstitutional, plain and simple.

      But the real problem is the federal government itself. The Founders didn't raise this issue because they set up a system where the states delegated a few, specific tasks to the federal government. It didn't (and shouldn't) matter who holds offi

    • While I overall agree with you, I would have very much liked it if bloggers were held to the same standard and were expected and required to disclose who, if anyone, was giving them money. Unfortunately we had on the table Crazy Draconian Measures or Jack Shit, so thankfully Jack Shit won.

      Of course, the last election proved that even newspaper columnists were not disclosing that they were paid tools even as they were presenting themselves as independent, reasonably unbiased news sources.

      And then there's FO
    • I await the day when we get enough strict constructionists on the Supreme Court to reverse their previous bad decisions, sweeping away McCain Fiengold and most other 'Campaign Finance Laws' that aren't limited to mandatory disclosure requirements.

      Check out the Constitution [archives.gov] before you call for strict constructionists.

      Article 1, Section 4: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at a

  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @06:44PM (#15006751) Homepage Journal
    My /. journal is hereby wide open for political discourse, with articles sold to the highest bidder! You want a heartfelt piece on the passion in "Compassionate Conservatism", or a call to arms to support the interests of your favorite disenfranchised minority through progressive legislation? Just open the checkbook and we'll work something out. No job too big, no job too small! Order today!
  • Michelle Makin will be gratefull to this ruling...
  • Misleading tone (Score:5, Informative)

    by kherr ( 602366 ) <kevinNO@SPAMpuppethead.com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @06:51PM (#15006802) Homepage
    The tone of this post is misleading, making it sound like bloggers (online sites, actually) get special privilege. Nothing is farther from the truth. The FEC decision is that the internet community is to be held to the same standards as traditional media. This is a great thing, I just hope it holds. The FEC commissioners now get that the internet is just another media outlet, like print or television. In fact it is more egalitarian; the corporate owners of Gawker Media (for example) can't dictate the political bent of internet content the way News Corp. (FOX) or GE (NBC) can with their large-scale dominance of the limited bandwidth of television. There are hundreds of thousands of web servers on the internet, but only a few hundred broadcasters on both over-the-air and cable television.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @06:51PM (#15006808)
    A politician / government employee used an ounce of common sense? This IS news!
  • Horn-tooting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rydia ( 556444 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:38PM (#15007141)
    I see a lot of triumphalism around the "blogosphere" about this... talk of the "netroots" and all those wonderful keywords, and how they changed the world.

    This went through because to turn it down made absolutely no freaking sense. That's it.

    I just don't get how they ALL can be drinking the kool-aid at once. You raise money for candidates. Woo! So does the phone, and dinners, and direct mail. But this is faster? Okay, it's more efficient and well-targetted. Does that give you political power? Maybe?

    No, it doesn't. Your audience is far too diverse, and while you may come together to raise money for someone, that doesn't mean you can even get a coherent message together to send that person, just that he's some kind of internet darling. Maybe a consultant job for the blogger, but what did the blogger do, really? Rant a bit, host a website, and find the right words to get people pissed off enough, usually. Difficult? Undoubtedly. But politically savvy? No. Just smart business sense and a dash of rancor.

    I keep seeing all these wonderful, starry-eyed monologues about how the internet will forever change the way politics is run, how it'll cure all ills and eventually (of course), those bastards that disagree with you will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. That isn't the sound of politics, because these people aren't politicians. It's the sound of religion- except now the religion is political invective.

    So, bloggers, great job. You succeeded in being the beneficiaries of the obvious and poking around a confused media because you're both shooting so hard from each side it has no idea what it can do. You've become gatekeepers to an enormous cash cow, but don't have the real clout to keep the floodgates closed, because there're enough important blogs that it doesn't take any sort of agreement or platform between them to give a candidate exposure. But, above all, you're creating little bubbles filled to the brim with a kind of group-mind, perfectly separated from true opposing viewpoints with a powerfully whispered "troll." Very soon the political blogs will either fall into two groups: shrill hive-like structures and unknown policy wonks, on both sides. You can't create a shining future when you're using all your might to run towards the inoperative, rotten present.
    • Well, that's one rather pessimistic way to look at it.

      I think that having more blogs is pretty much inarguably a good thing. Up until now, media didn't really approximate much of a free market. You can't compete with CNN because they have deals and control many of the channels to viewers.

      However, if you start writing a decent blog, it's easy for various people to try to evaluate how useful your blog is. Google does this sort of thing for webpages already, and I would expect techniques to only become more
  • by bagsc ( 254194 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:45PM (#15007190) Journal
    If you choose to go to a website, that's your choice. If they have a beowulf cluster with more bandwidth than God, with 100 live video feeds 24/7 for one candidate - you're choosing to go there, and it's not intruding on you. I don't care how they raised the money for it. IMHO, it's like visiting a campaign headquarters. That's public information.

    And if I see one damned ad on TV, I want tougher regulations. That's intrusive. Like all this damned political spam. One deserves to be unregulated and one deserves to be banned.

    Furthermore, if the RNC wants to have its own cable TV station (*coughox*) that it pays for, and the DNC wants one too, I don't see a problem with any amount of spending on that. As long as you can block those channels to prevent your kids from watching that trash...
    • If you choose to go to a website, that's your choice. If they have a beowulf cluster with more bandwidth than God, with 100 live video feeds 24/7 for one candidate - you're choosing to go there, and it's not intruding on you. I don't care how they raised the money for it. IMHO, it's like visiting a campaign headquarters. That's public information.


      If you choose to watch television, that's your choice. If they have constant commercials with constant feeds for one candidate, you're choosing to go there, and it
    • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @10:23PM (#15008067)
      And if I see one damned ad on TV, I want tougher regulations. That's intrusive. Like all this damned political spam. One deserves to be unregulated and one deserves to be banned.

      TV ads are no more intrusive than web pages. You do not have to watch stations with commercial advertisments if you dont want to. You could watch cable stations without commercial advertisments (or, ones that don't accept political adverts)... you could watch DVDs, etc. Throwing out the Bill of Rights because you don't like TV ads is a little extreme (the Bill of Rights makes no exceptions for political advertisment, and while things like pornography might be debateable there is no debate whatsoever that the First Amendment was supposed to cover paid political advertising. Paid political advertisments are political speech and undebatably protected by the First Amendment.)

      The real danger when it comes to political propoganda is public education, not TV commercials. It really is debatable if TV commercials are all that effective. But no-one can deny the effectiveness of the public school system in molding political thought and changing political beliefs... and in most places, public education is compulsary, unlike TV ads.
  • Can bloggers protect their sources, like "traditional media" journalists can?

    In that case, anyone can avoid (or much delay) testifying on anything, by posting online something semi-relevant to the case and, having thus become a blogger, refuse to testify...

  • Campaign finance laws were put into place to keep the playing field even. When the issue of others campaigning on candidates' behalfs arose, such as PACs, laws were put in place against "soft money" advertising, on the same principle -- no one candidate should be able to outshout the other by commandeering the limited number of media available.

    But there's now an unlimited number of resources available for speech. Let one party open as many blogs as they want to open, it won't stop the other party from o

  • but it doesn't necessarily make it 100% OK with your "corporation" or "union." For example, certain state agencies regulate this sort of activity [utexas.edu]. I'm certain a numbert of corporations have similar rules.

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