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Conservative Political Commentary

Quote of the Day

Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Come and Get Me, I Dare Ya
posted by Bathus

When it comes to restricting free expression of political views on the internet, the United States House of Representatives and the tyrants of communist China now officially see eye to eye.

In the Peoples Republic of China:
authorities have introduced scores of regulations, closed Internet cafes, blocked e-mails, search engines, foreign news and politically-sensitive websites, and have recently introduced a filtering system for web searches on a list of prohibited key words and terms.

Those violating the laws and regulations which aim to restrict free expression of opinion and circulation of information through the Internet may face imprisonment and according to recent regulations some could even be sentenced to death.
For the US version of similarly obscene restrictions on your fundamental right of free political expression, you can thank the so-called reforms of McCain-Feingold, which limited what kind of opinions can be expressed about federal election candidates, and who can express them, within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election.

And as of today you can thank the United States House of Representatives for eliminating any doubt about the power of the Federal Election Commission under McCain-Feingold to shut down your blog, fine you, and seek to have to jailed.

But you think McCain-Feingold restrictions on free speech can't possibly apply to your modest little blog?

Think again.

Before McCain-Feingold was passed, the ACLU (which for once is on the right side of an issue) warned that:
individual citizens who want to join together to engage in [issue] advocacy would be subjected to new and burdensome registration and reporting requirements under McCain-Feingold. And for citizen groups whose message is particularly controversial, such disclosure requirements are tantamount to placing a gag around their mouths and silencing them.
In other words, you and your pals on your little team blog that focuses on saving the wetlands or preserving Second Amendment rights are now exposed to FEC regulation, hefty FEC fines, and jail time if you and your fellow bloggers have the balls to join together online to express opinions about a particular federal candidate's position on your pet issue within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of general election. Even if you are so cowardly as to submit to McCain-Feingold's pre-election blackout on free speech, Hercules scissors won't be powerful enough to cut through the red of tape of reporting forms you'll be legally required to file if you are so bold as to use a paypal button to raise a little cash to support your blogging. And heaven help you if take it one more step and use your blog the way God intended to join with like-minded bloggers to support or oppose a particular issue or candidate: You will have then engaged in "coordinated activity," which is conduct subject to severe restrictions under McCain-Feingold, according to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly who apparently is thoroughly unimpressed by your First Amendment rights to free association and free speech.

That's right. Just as the ACLU warned, McCain-Feingold gave the FEC the power to regulate what you say about politicians and political issues on your blog, what you link to (especially around election time), and ultimately the power to shut down your blog altogether and have you tossed in jail if you resist.

Today the United States House of Representatives, by failing to exempt internet communications from the reach of McCain-Feingold, effectively confirmed that the FEC does indeed possess all that power and now has a green light to wield it against bloggers, big and small:
House Defeats Bill on Political Blogs
Thursday November 3, 2005 1:31 AM
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Online political expression should not be exempt from campaign finance law, the House decided Wednesday as lawmakers warned that the Internet has opened up a new loophole for uncontrolled spending on elections.

The House voted 225-182 for a bill that would have excluded blogs, e-mails and other Internet communications from regulation by the Federal Election Commission. That was 47 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed under a procedure that limited debate time and allowed no amendments.

The vote in effect clears the way for the FEC to move ahead with court-mandated rule-making to govern political speech and campaign spending on the Internet.

Opposition [to the bill to exempt the internet from campaign finance restrictions] was led by Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., who with Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., championed the 2002 campaign finance law that banned unlimited "soft money" contributions that corporations, unions and individuals were making to political parties.

"This is a major unraveling of the law," Meehan said. At a time when Washington is again being tainted by scandal, including the CIA leak case, "[exempting the internet from campaign finance restrictions] opens up new avenues for corruption to enter the political process."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said the federal government should encourage, rather than fetter, a phenomenon that was bringing more Americans into the political process.

"The newest battlefield in the fight to protect the First Amendment is the Internet,'' he said. "The Internet is the new town square, and campaign finance regulations are not appropriate there."

Without his legislation, Hensarling said, "I fear that bloggers one day could be fined for improperly linking to a campaign Web site, or merely forwarding a candidate's press release to an e-mail list."

Bloggers from liberal and conservative perspectives made similar predictions at a hearing on the subject in September. "Rather than deal with the red tape of regulation and the risk of legal problems, they will fall silent on all issues of politics," said Michael J. Krempasky, director of the Web site

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., writing Wednesday on a blog he recently started, said the bill "is about all the folks out in the blogosphere. It's going to protect what you say. It keeps the hand of the federal government out of Internet speech."

But Meehan said no one wants to regulate bloggers. He said he and Shays have an alternative that would protect the free speech rights of bloggers while closing the cyberspace loophole where a lawmaker could vote for a prescription drug bill and then ask pharmaceutical interests to write six-figure checks for campaign ads for them to run on the Internet.

FEC commissioner Scott E. Thomas said at the September hearing that some $14 million was spent on Internet ads in the 2004 campaign.

A federal court last year, amid the escalation of political activity on the Internet, instructed the FEC to draw up regulations that would extend federal campaign finance and spending limits to the Web.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has introduced a companion bill to the Hensarling measure, but the Senate has yet to take it up.
In accord with a long American tradition, and in accord with a somewhat more recent but no less impressive blogging tradition, I have just one thing to say to the United States House of Representatives, to the FEC, and most especially to George W. Bush for signing McCain-Feingold into law, after he admitted it was unconstitutional and promised to veto it:


Some other lawyers can worry themselves with sophistical niceties of the constitutional limits on FEC's regulatory powers over political speech. For me, the rule I follow in expressing my views about political matters on this blog is simple, just like the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law . . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.
And that applies to speech on the internet and to "peaceably assembling" with my fellow bloggers on the internet.

So here's my rule and my pledge: On this blog, when it comes to political matters, I say whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want, about whoever I want, to whoever I want. I will do all my free speaking and free assembling peaceably, so long as the government leaves me alone. But I will never, ever, so long as I draw breath, register this blog with the FEC or any other government entity. I will never, ever, so long as I draw breath, submit this blog to any legislation or government regulation that purports to place any limit whatsoever on my right peaceably to express my political views. It's that simple.

And if you folks at the FEC don't like it, you can come and get me.

Just try. I dare ya.

posted by Bathus | 11/02/2005 09:07:00 PM
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Post a Comment

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well stated!

Why don't you blog every day?

DC - Spring, Texas

11:20 AM, November 04, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

Anonymous asks, "Why don't you blog every day?"

Thanks for asking such a flattering question!

The answer is because . . .

(1) I just don't have the time.

(2) When I finally do get the time, it often happens that the subject I had it in mind to write about has been so thoroughly worked over by other good bloggers that I don't have anything new to add to the discussion.

12:23 PM, November 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Err...perhaps it's the folks at the FEC--not the FCC--to whom you should address your dare.

12:56 PM, November 04, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

Doh! (Them, too, dammit!)

6:16 PM, November 04, 2005  
Anonymous Phoenix said...

Agree, 100%.

But, purely out of curiousity: what is there in McCain Feingold, or any of the rest of the campaign finance laws, that would stop the following?

Mr. X (a wealthy fellow) wants to contribute more than the allowable amounts to his favorite candidate. Mr. Y (a poor schmuck, but not on welfare)likes the same candidate and would love to make a big contribution but hasn't the resources to give anywhere close to the maximum amounts.

Mr. X sees Mr. Y's name on a list of small contributors. He contacts Mr Y and proposes entering into a contract with him whereby Mr. X will pay Mr. Y say $1,100 in exchange for Mr. Y making a contribution of say $1000 to their mutually preferred favorite candidate. Obviously, Mr. Y would have to pay income tax but the extra $100 ought to cover that.

No doubt someone will say that this is fraud but, on a quick read of McCain Feingold and other campaign finance laws, I'd don't quite see where.

* The contract would not require that Mr. Y actually vote for anyone. (18 USC 594, 587)

* Mr. X does not make any of promise of appointment or employment to Mr. Y. (18 USC 599-601)

* Mr. Y is not on welfare (18 USC 604)

* The agreement wouldn't fall under the "fraudulent solicitation of fund's" prohibition unless Mr. X misrepresents himself as speaking on behalf of the candidate. (2 USC 441h)

* It doesn't look to me like the $100 (less whatever amount of taxes he has to pay out) that Mr. Y nets on the contract really fits the definition of "kickback" as that term is used 26 USC 9012 and 9042.

* It might be that Mr. X could have been deemed a "political committee" and found to have incurred an "unauthorized expenditure and contribution" under 26 USC 9012(f) except that the Supreme Court has found that prohibition to be unconstitutional on its face. FEC v. Nat'l Conservative PAC, 470 US 480.

Maybe you can enlighten me?

7:49 PM, November 08, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

Interesting question, Phoenix.

I'm claim no expertise on the arcaneries of campaign finance law, but I believe your Mr. X and Mr. Y would be crosswise with 2 U.S.C. § 441f:

2 U.S.C. § 441f
Contributions in name of another prohibited

No person shall make a contribution in the name of another person or knowingly permit his name to be used to effect such a contribution, and no person shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person.

2 U.S.C. § 431(8)(A) defines a "contribution" to include: "any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office."

Therefore, when Mr. X remits his $1100 to Mr. Y "for the purpose of influencing any election," he has at that very moment made a "contribution" even though he gives the money to Mr. Y instead of giving it directly to a candidate. (The presence of the contract between Mr. X and Mr. Y does not alter the fact that Mr. X hands the money to Mr. Y with the intent of influencing an election.)Then when Mr. Y carries out the agreement that $1000 of Mr. X's "contribution" will be re-contributed in Mr. Y's name, Mr. X and Mr. Y respectively violate the § 441f prohibition against making a contribution in another's name and permitting one's name to be used for such a contribution.

Your scenario is not unlike the arrangement with the Buddhist nuns that caused Al Gore such pain in 2000. Here is a brief the Solicitor General filed in U.S. Supreme Court on that case. See also the FEC action against Mattel and the FEC action against Centex Construction Group, in which the FEC opined that the § 441f prohibition "applies to any person who provides money to others to effect contributions in their names."

The courts and the FEC have regularly applied § 441f to disapprove sham transactions, straw donors, and reimbursement arrangements that aim to get around individual contribution limits. I doubt very much they would look more approvingly on Mr. X and Mr. Y's (albeit more open) arrangement to achieve the same end.

1:14 AM, November 09, 2005  
Anonymous phoenix said...

Not to quibble -- well yeah, really I am quibbling -- but: Even granted that the transfer of money from Mr. X to Mr. Y meets the definition of a "contribution", when Mr. X make that contribution he is definitely NOT "making it in the name of another person" nor "knowingly permitting his name to be used to effect SUCH a contribution (i.e. a contribution in the name of another). Mr. Y is openly and IN HIS OWN NAME making the contribution. And, when Mr. Y accepts it, he is NOT accepting a contribution made by one person in the name of another. Maybe the FEC opined that 441f applies to this scenario but IMHO, the words, as written, simply don't.

9:30 AM, November 09, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

The reality is:

X is arranging with Y to have Y make X's contribution under Y's name. That's the intent and the effect, which a court would spot in about 2 seconds.

Creating "legal fictions" to try to make it look like something else won't help.

10:55 AM, November 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an attorney with some (though by no means vast) experience with federal election law, I'm quite sure that Bathus is correct. I'm aware of situations in which § 441f in response to far less direct "contributions" than the one you describe (e.g. the provision by an entity which is prohibited from making campaign contributions (a federally-chartered bank) of a venue, at no charge, at which a fundraiser was held).

By layering on the contract, you've simply given the prosecutor more evidence for an additional conspiracy charge.

11:04 AM, November 09, 2005  
Anonymous phoenix said...

here I thought "legal fictions" was what loopholes were all about...

Anyway, Bathus and Annonymous, thanks to both of you for an enlightening mini-debate. Enjoyed it.

Bathus, if/when you find yourself in hot water with the FEC for your blogging, I'll willingly contribute to you legal defense fund - unless there are also rules forbidding that that I don't know about! ;)

6:08 PM, November 10, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

Pheonix, if that day comes, I'm confident that together we can figure out a way to let you give me your money!

Thanks for commenting, and please do drop by again.

10:44 PM, November 10, 2005  
Blogger Andrew said...

I had a little rant of my own on this subject. Enjoy.

1:31 PM, November 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Program on the emergence of civilization.

"14 species of large animals capable of domesitcation in the history of mankind.
13 from Europe, Asia and northern Africa.
None from the sub-Saharan African continent. "
And disfavor.

They point out Africans’ failed attempts to domesticate the elephant and zebra, the latter being an animal they illustrate that had utmost importance for it's applicability in transformation from a hunting/gathering to agrarian-based civilization.

The roots of racism are not of this earth.

Austrailia, aboriginals:::No domesticable animals.

The North American continent had none. Now 99% of that population is gone.

AIDS in Africa.

Organizational Heirarchy
Heirarchical order, from top to bottom:

1. MUCK - perhaps have experienced multiple universal contractions (have seen multiple big bangs), creator of the artificial intelligence humans ignorantly refer to as "god"
2. Perhaps some mid-level alien management
3. Evil/disfavored aliens - runs day-to-day operations here and perhaps elsewhere

Terrestrial management:

4. Chinese/egyptians - this may be separated into the eastern and western worlds
5. Romans - they answer to the egyptians
6. Mafia - the real-world 20th century interface that constantly turns over generationally so as to reinforce the widely-held notion of mortality
7. Jews, corporation, women, politician - Evidence exisits to suggest mafia management over all these groups.

Movies foreshadowing catastrophy
1985 James Bond View to a Kill 1989 San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake.

Many Muslims are being used like the Germans and Japanese of WWII::being used to hurt others and envoke condemnation upon their people.

They can affect the weather and Hurricane Katrina was accomplished for many reasons and involves many interests, as anything this historical is::
1. Take heat off Sheenhan/Iraq, protecting profitable war machine/private war contracts
2. Gentrification. New Orleans median home price of $84k is among the lowest in major American cities, certainly among desirable cities.

Our society gives clues to the system in place. We all have heard the saying "He has more money than god." There is also an episode of the Simpsons where god meets Homer and says "I'm too old and rich for this."

This is the system on earth because this is the system everywhere.
god is evil because of money.

I don't want to suggest the upper eschelons are evil and good is the fringe.

But they have made it abundantly clear that doing business with evil (disfavored) won't help people. They say only good would have the ear, since evil is struggling for survival, and therefore only the favored could help.

The clues are there which companies are favored and which are disfavored, market domination being one clue, but they conceal it very hard because it is so crucial.

I offer an example of historical proportions:::

People point to Walmart and cry "anti-union".
Unions enable disfavored people to live satisfactorly without addressing their disfavor. This way their family's problems are never resolved. Without the union they would have to accept the heirarchy, their own inferiority.
Unions serve to empower.
Walmart is anti-union because they are good. They try to help people address and resolve their problems by creating an enviornment where there are fewer hurdles.

Media ridicule and lawsuits are creations to reinforce people's belief that Walmart is evil.
Low-cost disfavored Chinese labor is utilized by corporate america to maximize margins. They all do it. Only WalMart gets fingered because they are the ones who help, and those who seek to create confusion in the marketplace want to eliminate the vast middle class who have a real chance and instead stick with a lower classes who may not work otherwise. So they dirty him up while allowing the others to appear clean.

The middle class is being deceived. They are being misled into the unfavored, and subsequently will have no assistance from their purchases with corporate america.

I believe the coining of the term "Uncle Sam" was a clue alluding to just this::Sam Walton and WalMart is one of few saviors of the peasant class.

Amercia is a country of castoffs, rejects. Italy sent its criminals. Malcontents.
Between the thrones, the klans and kindred, they "decided" who they didn't want and acted, creating discontent and/or starvation.
The u.s. is full of disfavored rejects. It is the reason for the myriad of problems not found in European countries. As far as the Rockafellers and other industrialists of the 19th century go, I suspect these aren't their real names. I suspect they were chosen to go and head this new empire.

Royalty is the right way to organize a society. Dictatorships and monarchies are a reflection of the antient's hierarchical organization.
Positions go to those who have favor with the rulers, as opposed to being elected.
Elections bring a false sense of how the world is. Democracy misleads people.
Which is why the disfavored rejects were sent to the shores of America::To keep them on the wrong path.

Jesus Christ is a religious figure of evil. These seperatist churches formed so they could still capture the rest of the white people, keeping them worshipping the wrong god.
And now they do it to people of color, Latinos and Asians, after centuries of preying upon them.

Since Buddism doesn't recongnize a god, the calls are never heard, and Chinese representation is instead selected by the thrones.
It was set up this way. Perhaps dyanstic thrones had a say, but maybe not.
Budda was the Asian's Jesus Christ::: bad for the people. "They came up at the same time for a reason."

Simpson's foreshadowing::Helloween IV special, Flanders is Satan. "Last one you ever suspect."
"You'll see lots of nuns where you're going:::hell!!!" St. Wigham, Helloween VI, missionary work, destroying cultures.
Over and over, the Simpsons was a source of education and enlightenment, a target of ridicule by the system which wishes to conceal its secrets.

Jews maim the body formed in the image of "god", and inflicted circumsision upon all other white people, as well as the evil that is Jesus Christ.
I think about how Jews (were used to) created homosexuality among Slavics, retribution for the Holocaust.
Then I think of the Catholic Church and its troubles.
What connection is here between Jews and the Catholic church???
If it is their sinister motives that’s behind the evil that is Jesus Christ are they being used at all?
Perhaps it is them who are pulling strings.
Their bondage in Egypt proves their disfavor. The ruling Jews decided to prey on the up-and-coming Europeans to try to fix their problems with the ruling elite.

I believe Islam is the one true religion, and those misled christians who attack "god's" most favored people will pay for it dearly one day.

10:26 PM, November 15, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

I was thinking of deleting this comment, but it's such a unique blend of historical error, religious fanaticism, bad grammar, hideous spelling, and insanely disconected nonsense that it has earned a permanent place for itself on this blog.

2:38 AM, November 16, 2005  
Blogger Tom said...

Re Program on the Emergence of Civilization:

Will all of it be on the final?

3:05 PM, November 16, 2005  
Blogger Christopher King said...

Okay, take a look at the facts of this case in NH and tell me what you think.

The "Live Free or Die" state. I'm going to be approaching the ACLU with our brief in the criminal case against their request (prosecutor against me, and in my civil case against them) to make me stop blogging. They started this whole thing with a very public bogus indictment of me for "attempted felony extortion" for writing a demand letter and threatening to call a press conference.

Turns out the coppers may have had probable cause, but Chief Dunn never told me that there was a Confidential Informant in the underlying case despite having weeks to do so.

11:14 PM, November 22, 2005  

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