THE BLOGOSPHERE VS. THE BIPARTISAN OLIGARCHY
Ayn Rand, the novelist-philosopher had a deft explanation for why wealthy people who, presumably, would be against governmental intrusion into the economy and civil society out of self-interest, often were at the forefront of promoting such schemes. They wanted, Rand wrote, ” …an Aristocracy of Pull” where the well-born and the politically connected parvenu alike could make common cause to institutionalize their comparative advantages. The Supreme Court, reflecting the attitudes our elite law schools, has been increasingly friendly to oligarchical policies , as exemplified by the Kelo and McConnell cases, that cement insider positions and hedge against the rest of us. The issue is not Left or Right but In or Out – and most of us by definition are ” Out” in terms of power.
And the Beltway political class aims to keep it that way. This trend is being driven by liberal Democrats in Congress and through various foundations and activist groups but they are being helped in no small measure by Republicans like John McCain and wealthy, GOP-supporting, corporations.
Bruce Kesler, who is dedicated to citizen activism, free speech and the spread of democracy, has pointed attention to this OpinionJournal piece “ Shut-Up They Explained” by Brian C. Anderson that delves into the attempt to silence and regulate the blogosphere and citizen political activism in time for the next election cycle – if not 2006, then certainly by 2008, ratcheting back internet-based free speech by the unwashed by increments until elections become the scripted shadowbox domain of the insiders once again:
“Campaign-finance reform has a squeaky-clean image, but the dirty truth is that this speech-throttling legislation is partly the result of a hoax perpetrated by a handful of liberal foundations, led by the venerable Pew Charitable Trusts. New York Post reporter Ryan Sager exposed the scam when he got hold of a 2004 videotape of former Pew official Sean Treglia telling a roomful of journalists and professors how Pew and other foundations spent years bankrolling various experts, ostensibly independent nonprofits (including the Center for Public Integrity and Democracy 21), and media outlets (NPR got $1.2 million for “news coverage of financial influence in political decision-making”)–all aimed at fooling Washington into thinking that Americans were clamoring for reform, when in truth there was little public pressure to “clean up the system.” “The target group for all this activity was 535 people in Washington,” said Mr. Treglia matter-of-factly, referring to Congress. “The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot–that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform.
…Campaign-finance reform now has the blogosphere in its crosshairs. When the Federal Election Commission wrote specific rules in 2002 to implement McCain-Feingold, it voted 4-2 to exempt the Web. After all, observed the majority of three Republicans and one Democrat (the agency divides its seats evenly between the two parties), Congress didn’t list the Internet among the “public communications”–everything from television to roadside billboards–that the FEC should regulate. Further, “the Internet is virtually a limitless resource, where the speech of one person does not interfere with the speech of anyone else,” reasoned Republican commissioner Michael Toner. “Whereas campaign finance regulation is meant to ensure that money in politics does not corrupt candidates or officeholders, or create the appearance thereof, such rationales cannot plausibly be applied to the Internet, where on-line activists can communicate about politics with millions of people at little or no cost.
But when the chief House architects of campaign-finance reform, joined bySens. McCain and Russ Feingold, sued–claiming that the Internet was one big “loophole” that allowed big money to keep on corrupting–a federal judge agreed, ordering the FEC to clamp down on Web politics. Then-commissioner Bradley Smith and the two other Republicans on the FEC couldn’t persuade their Democratic colleagues to vote to appeal.”
Read the whole thing.
Drafts that have emerged of proposed Federal regs for blogs [ Ed. note: ” The Congress Shall Make No Law…] appear to be vague, highly arbitrary, convoluted and expensive to contest if a blogger is accused of expressing a political opinion -err…I mean wrongdoing. Initiating a complaint against a blogger, however groundless, would be simple and free. It would also attempt to give the discredited and widely distrusted mainstream media special legal prerogatives that do not exist in the Constitution. Or, as Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote:
“The Court has not yet squarely resolved whether the Press Clause confers upon the ‘institutional press’ any freedom from government restraint not enjoyed by all others.”
In my preemptive campaign of civil disobedience I hearby declare ” Zenpundit” to officially be a newsmagazine and a journal of scholarly opinion. And as such, I shall report on the news and run op-eds all the way to election day.
This post was helpfully picked up by Topix.net. Thanks, guys !