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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Senator John McCain's Endless Campaign to Repeal the 1st Amendment

and get Hillary Clinton as his running mate in 2008???

Senator McCain has done what no one other person could have ever done...he united the forces behind the Daily Kos and Red State blogs. What has the esteemed Senator done that is responsible for this? He is proposing that the federal government regulate political blogs (such as this one) under the guise lobbying reform. The FEC has been ordered (by the courts) to regulate "electronic electioneering" on political blogs such as Kennedy v Machine. If the FEC steps in to regulate the blogs, then a dollar value would be assigned to each post and once you exceed that magical contribution limit, you are no longer allowed to post - you blog is (in essence) shut down! And regardless of how many posts/contributions, 30 days before the election you are shut down! Meanwhile, 527's like MoveOn are allowed to advertise freely until election day.

Enter our hero's (?) Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). Together these men (and 13 co-sponsors including Minnesotas own Mark Dayton and Mark Kennedy) brought us the Online Freedom of Speech Act (HR 1606 and S 678). These bills would exclude communications over the Internet from the defination of public communications. Some of the bills opponents claim that the bill is unnecessary since the FEC has been tasked with making this ruling. Others say that this leaves the door open for candidates to "co-ordinate with corporations and unions to spend unlimited soft money on the purchase of internet banner and video ads" on behalf of candidates. According to this post at Red State (written by Michael Toner the vice chair of the FEC) "this charge has no legal foundation". File the whole thing under the heading "politics does indeed make strange bedfellows".

HR 1606 is scheduled to be voted on by the House sometime next week (the FEC ruling that was due March 16 has been moved out to March 30). Please call your Representatives and Senators and ask them to support free speech on the Internet.

UPDATE: Late Friday night, the FEC released their proposed new rules. According to the report the proposed rules would exempt blogs and individual web users from regulation, but blog/web advertising would fall subject to McCain/Feingold regulations. While not perfect, this is a start. However, these are proposed rules...they are not set yet. Vigilance will still be needed to make sure that speech on the internet is not regulated by some government bureaucracy.


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