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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Win For The Blogosphere

The Washington Post reports that the FEC has rendered a decision regarding their new rules.

The Federal Election Commission last night released proposed new rules that leave almost all Internet political activity unregulated except for the purchase of campaign ads on Web sites.

"My key goal in this rule-making has been to make sure that the commission establish clear rules to exempt individuals who engage in online politics from campaign finance laws," said Chairman Michael E. Toner, a Republican.

"We tried to craft a regulation that would allow the maximum amount of freedom for people as possible," said Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democrat.

Yes, the same freedom of speech enjoyed by anyone else within the political process. And make no mistake, the blogosphere is fully within the process. We have shown it often and repeatedly, and we have also shown that we are not the sort to be trifled with; Representative Blunt can attest to this after threatening certain blogger participating in a symposium "vetting" the House leadership candidates. The threat, while veiled, did not go unnoticed, and spurned outrage from bloggers.

Most bloggers, individual Web users, and such Web sites as Drudge Report and Salon.com are exempted from regulation and will be free to support and attack federal candidates, much as newspapers are allowed.

I find the low swipe uncalled for. We do not "attack" a candidate the way that the authors are perceiving. By "attack" I am sure the authors are referring to the sorts of low-blow, mudslinging tactics used by candidates. We stand back, and assess the candidates--strengths, weaknesses, record, etc.--but we do not engage in the personal, partisan attacks seen most recently through the political process.

For the most part, leading advocates of the blogger community welcomed the proposed rules.

"As a whole, these are rules that I think those who have been fighting regulations are going to be cheering," said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, who runs the Election Law blog. The rules provide "broad exemptions for most political activity on the Internet, and expand the media exemption to the Internet," he said.

I might be a tad slow on this, but if the media already runs certain websites, capable of shoiwing not only news but opinion, as well, then why any extra sort of protections for the media? They already possess First Amendment rights; rights that have been upheld in court. The media's exemption applies to print whether it is done with ink, or pixels, so I do not understand the expanded exemptions for the media, in general.

Hasen and others noted that as technology advances, the regulations will have to be modified.

In particular, Hasen said, "as the Internet and TV converge, the FEC or Congress will eventually need to rethink these rules to see if they make sense."

"Generally, it's in line with what I think bloggers ask for," said Jerome Armstrong, the founder of the liberal blog MyDD, an adviser to the Howard Dean for president campaign in 2004 and currently an adviser to former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner's political action committee. "They give bloggers the media exemption."

And why not? Political bloggers deal with news and information on a daily basis. We do nothing less than the MSM does, and we do it better and quicker than they do. We also cover topics that either they cannot get to, or those they have deemed "not relevant" (like the good news virtually unreported from Iraq). It is only natural that we gain the same exemptions that the media does because we are basically doing their job, as well. And, for the most part, those on the center-right of the blogosphere understand that what is not allowed on TV via FCC regulations should not be used on our sites. It lacks professionalism when such vulgarities appear on someone else's site.

Armstrong voiced concern, however, over potential difficulties that could result from a requirement that campaign ads have disclaimers. "The size of a Web ad and the size of blog ad is so small that having to put a disclaimer on it is going to take up all the space," he said.

The House last week put off consideration of a bill that would have similarly left online political activity largely unregulated. Mike Krempasky, who runs the conservative blog RedState, called the proposed rules "a complex legal and regulatory scheme" and called on Congress to pass legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.).

Since 2000, the Internet has grown geometrically as a force shaping virtually every aspect of politics from fundraising to get-out-the-vote drives. The Democratic and Republican national committees are attempting to amass millions of e-mail addresses of supporters and contributors, and candidates at all levels are building lists.

The FEC's six members generally support the proposed regulations, but individual commissioners are expected to offer amendments when they meet Monday.

The commission had been under court order to regulate campaign advertising on the Web. The only restrictions in the proposal require that ads for federal candidates be paid for with money regulated by federal campaign law. Campaign law restricts individual contributions to $2,000, and bars unions and corporations from donating.

Of which I doubt many center-rights blogs will even be tempted to violate. While Thomas and I have contributed to a couple candidates already, both here in Arizona and elsewhere, the law is as it reads. $2000 is the max for personal contributions, and we do not deal with unions or corporations. (Please, we may be good, but we are still small fish.)

In a two-page summary of the 90-page set of rules, Weintraub and Vice Chairman Robert D. Lenhard stressed that the proposals "explicitly exempt from regulation the Internet activities of unpaid individuals or groups of individuals" and "bloggers will not be regulated."

A blogger who gets paid by a campaign will not have to report the money to the FEC, but the campaign will separately have to disclose the expenditures, under the proposed rules.

And this I have no problem with. If Senator Kyl in the election season chose our blog amongst a number of others from the state of Arizona to run support for the campaign, or coordinate bloggers to cover his rallies in the state, then it should fall to the candidate to keep track of those financial records. A paid blogger, of course, would also have to keep track of that just in terms of tax purposes, alone. So, this aspect of the rules I have no problem with.

They would lift all restrictions on employee use of corporate and union-owned computers for political activities, as long as the work is done on employees' own time, not company time.

Looking over this, it seems to me that they gave the blogosphere precisely what it demanded. We wanted to be recognized as a media source, and we received it. We have virtually the same exemptions under the CFR laws as media outlets do, and even though we may be paid by a candidate, that payment does not reflect on us; we need not bother with worrying about the campaign finance laws.

Now is the time to throw down the gauntlet to the media. You plug your candidates. We will plug ours, and in the end we will see who does a better job at this. And while we are doing that, we will still report the news, disseminate yours, and continue to show why, as the Dinosaur Media, it is time to help down the road of extinction.

This will also give the center-right bloggers the freedom needed to support, and drum up support, for the candidates we wish to support--be it collectively, or individually--without the fear that we might be breaking a law somewhere. This does not necessarily mean the laws do not apply to us. Indeed they do. The difference is that we do not engage in slanderour or libelous attacks against people simply because we do not like them. No, we engage them. We engage their record and their ideology.

We show America why the modern Democrat Party cannot be trusted right now. They are wrong on the judiciary, wrong on taxes and the economy, and most importantly they are wrong on the war.

Not one dirty, little swipe. Not one word of slander or libel. We address the issues the candidates stand for, and where they stand as an elected representative. The centr-right is not affiliated with DailyKos, Atrios, MoveOn.org, or any other fringe moonbat crowd. We deal with issues. We deal with facts. And in 2006, America is going to see that from the blogosphere as we fully engage the Left this election season.

The Bunny ;)


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