FEC, protect us!

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I, for one, admire and appreciate the FEC taking on this new challenge to protect all us easily-confused citizens from them wily old bloggers. I’ll be danged if I couldn’t use some oversight myself!

So here is what I propose: Let’s set up a trackback bot. Anytime somebody posts something dangerous (i.e. political, contains original thinking, etc.), send the bot a trackback. The bot will instantly generate a message to the FEC:

To: speechenforcement@fec.gov
From: Extremely Concerned Blogger <$$AuthorEmail$$>
Date: $$CurrentDateTime$$
Subject: Please protect my country from this EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SPEECH: "$$PostSubject$$"

My Dear FEC,

Thank you SO SO SO SO much for being right there on the front lines, protecting us VULNERABLE CITIZZENS [sic] from dangerous unregulated speech!

To assist you in this CRITICAL MISSION, it is my duty to report to you that I, myself, have just made a posting on my blog, $$BlogName$$. It is located right out there on the INTERNET where ANYONE CAN SEE IT. See for yourself right here: $$PostURL$$.

Why, this posting has all kinds of …THOUGHTS… in it, like this:


I must also inform you, Dear Commission, that this posting was NOT AUTHORIZED OR SCREENED BY ANYONE, including:

* My Congressperson
* Either of my Senators
* The President, or his Chief of Staff
* Howard Dean
* The Chief of Police
* The boys down at the Local 142
* The New York Times
* Not a single Justice of the Supreme Court, not even that Souter guy
* Heck, I can barely even get my wife to read these things

And I didn’t prescreen this content with YOU, MY DEAR COMISSION.

So PLEASE STOP ME before I speak again!



See where I’m going with this, folks?

For serious coverage of the issue, check out Cyber Conservative, who’s doing a bangup job.

Oh yeah, almost forgot: Hey Arizona, please pick someone other than McCain on next go around. (Now where do I send that trackback…)

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About Carpe Bonum

  • Thanks for the kudos! I can see the hit counter spinning wildly now. 😀

  • Eric- remember the recently past election cycle, where you put up a link to Al Barger’s US Senate campaign? I was delighted, of course, as a Libertarian and a friend of Al’s, but I expressed concern at the time that it could be a BCRA or McCain-Feingold concern.

    What I’m hearing now leads me to believe that bloggers will be able to link to campaign websites, but it will have to consider those links a contribution to the campaign, with a value assessment made on the worth of the link.

    McCain-Feingold was supposed to be in response to all the money that goes into campaigns. As we saw, it did nothing to limit the money, as new records were set in virtually every Federal campaign across the country. We also saw that it had the effect of silencing some traditional advocacy groups- unions especially- while empowering new advocacy groups- those 527s mainly.

    I do hope the issues arising over blogs and links to campaigns inspires a blogger backlash at long last. McCain-Feingold is hideous legislation that threatens the First Amendment on many fronts.

  • Mike, thinking of McCain-Feingold showed a lot of insight. I never would have of thought of that. The whole campaign finance thing is so stupid. Any restriction merely pushes the money around a different way. A lot of times it makes it even harder to find.

    What we need is full and real time disclosure, and a well-educated electorate capable of critical thinking. Then open the floodgates. If someone gets a little too cozy with a contributor, his constituents know about it and throw him out on the next go around.

    How bizarre and absurd to establish a new bureaurocracy to determine the value of a link on someone’s wewb page!

  • bhw

    Mike, thinking of McCain-Feingold showed a lot of insight. I never would have of thought of that.

    Now, I agree that Mike is often very insightful, but in this case, he wasn’t so very much ahead of the pack. 😎

    The McCain-Feingold law is the topic under discussion: it’s the thing that’s driving the FEC’s actions [or statements, to this point] about web links as campaign contributions.

  • What’s really absurd is that a legitimate news agency or a blogger (dare I draw the distinction?) might want to show a link to a campaign website as a means to merely make a point. “We were shocked at Joe Candidate’s provocative statement. See it for yourself at http://www.joecandidate4ohio...”. The linkage is a way to show journalistic integrity, by offering the reader the proof. The broad interpretation of the law could have the effect of weaking journalistic integrity by preventing the proof from being shown!

    It’s really just another case of the Law of Unintended Consequences on display. So many laws are drafted as a reaction to a perceived problem, without a whole lot of thought given to the total picture of the ramifications. The bureaucrats who then get to enforce the law start reading it and thinking it out, and then the applications are made. Well, if a link on a website is defined as a ‘campaign contribution’, a link is a link.

    Oh, for some common sense!

  • bhw

    Good points, Mike. How absurd would it be to have to be considered a campaign contributor to the candidate you’re NOT endorsing, simply because you link to that candidate’s site in reference to something you’ve written?

    A hyperlink is, in reality, just a cross-reference. Are all media cross-references now going to be considered campaign contributions? Isn’t just the mere mention of a candidate’s name a form of promotion, by this reasoning? What makes the hyperlink so unique?

    Also, could I get around this stupid rule by quoting what I want to quote and then, instead of hyperlinking to the source directly, give the google search string that would produce the source as the #1 result?

    Stoopid stuff.