×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Bill to Treat Bloggers as Lobbyists Defeated

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the common-sense-prevails dept.

The Internet 537

Lawrence Person writes "The attempt to require political bloggers to register as lobbyists previously reported by Slashdot has been stripped out of the lobbying reform bill. The vote was 55 to 43 to defeat the provision. All 48 Republicans, as well as 7 Democrats, voted against requiring bloggers to register; all 43 votes in favor of keeping the registration provision were by Democrats."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

537 comments

Conspiracy theorize all you want (-1, Troll)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677302)

Freedom is still freedom. In this case I think freedom of the press applies.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (5, Informative)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677436)

This is not a freedom of the press issue. This would have required bloggers who receive money from causes to file as lobbyists. As CNet puts it:

certain political bloggers who make or spend $25,000 per quarter and who encourage readers to contact their elected representatives would be forced to register as lobbyists.

A blogger who gets money from coroporations, parties, or organizations to blog for them is a lobbyist and an astroturfer. This doesn't cover Billy Blogger who talks about the local sports team, or even unsponsored political blogs. It isn't a way to surpress dissent, any more than requiring the same of lobbyists is. "But it's on the Internet" does not change the fact that politically active bloggers with $100,000 salaries or budgets are lobbyists and should be treated like the normal K Street type.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (3, Informative)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677590)

Payment wasn't defined as getting money; it was defined as communications to 500 or more readers. The bill was essentially an extension of McCain-Feingold to try to distinguish critical dissent against incumbent politicians. I'm shocked that the Democrats were for it, and it's one more disappointment of the "first 100 hours." Perhaps you should actually read about the bill [prnewswire.com] :

"Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the
Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to
500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report
quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220
would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive
intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history,
critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself.
        "The bill would require reporting of 'paid efforts to stimulate
grassroots lobbying,' but defines 'paid' merely as communications to 500 or
more members of the public, with no other qualifiers.

This is pretty much proof that it's business as usual with the new Congress, and that Democrats are going to be even more idiotic than the last guys. And no, before you read my sig and think I'm a Republican, I'm a libertarian who just dislikes the left more than the right.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (5, Informative)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677748)

Perhaps you should actually read about the bill:

Perhaps you should actually read the bill [loc.gov] *. Note that the part labelled "definitions", a "grassroots lobbying firm" is defined as someone who "is retained by 1 or more clients to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of such clients; and receives income of, or spends or agrees to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period."

The "500 person" rule you're concerned about describes the action of influencing, not the influencer. Specifically: "The term `paid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof' does not include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500 members of the general public."

To be affected, you must be all three of these:
  1. An Astroturfer with 1 or more clients
  2. Reaching 500 people
  3. Being paid $100,000 a year


So if you're a regular blogger, you likely are safe.

*=if that doesn't work, search for S.1 on thomas.loc.gov

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (3, Informative)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677854)

Your link didn't work for me, but this one did [loc.gov] .

The phrase "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" is not specifically defined in the bill; however, it is specifically defined that the bill does not affect blogs with less than 500 readers. This means you simply have to be a blog with 500 or more readers. Contrary to your little list, there is no minimum defined payment amount in the bill.

You also conveniently left out that large lobby groups who don't rely on public communication are exempted! This means large corporations who spend millions on lobbying aren't even covered by the bill.

To quote the American Family Association's statement:

Under Senate Bill 1, AFA would have to report the issues, employees, contractors and dollars spent in what is called "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" (that phrase is not defined). This reporting requirement is triggered by two actions: (1) a lobbying "contact" - a personal or written communication with an individual in the executive or legislative branch of the federal government concerning public policy issues, from legislation to nominations; and (2) communications with grassroots (that's you) that "influence" them to contact the executive or legislative branches ("influence" is not defined, but it apparently doesn't even have to include a specific "call to action.") There is no minimum dollar spending requirement that triggers the reporting requirement by AFA for our efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.


It's an attempt to silence political bloggers.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (4, Informative)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677922)

The phrase "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" is not specifically defined in the bill; however, it is specifically defined that the bill does not affect blogs with less than 500 readers. This means you simply have to be a blog with 500 or more readers. Contrary to your little list, there is no minimum defined payment amount in the bill.

No. It's defined in Section 220 as "any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to influence the general public or segments thereof to contact one or more covered legislative or executive branch officials (or Congress as a whole) to urge such officials (or Congress) to take specific action with respect to a matter described in section 3(8)(A), except that such term does not include any communications by an entity directed to its members, employees, officers, or shareholders.". It's in Definitions 18-A, which is right at the top of Section 220.

The payment part is in the definition of a grassroots lobbying firm, which is also in the Definitions section (right below the previous definition).

The LOC links, by the way, only seem to work for 5 minutes.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (1, Informative)

forkush (982581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678018)

Actually, it's business as usual for Republican, hiding the facts: the bill applied only to astroturfers being paid over 100K. This wasn't a left-right issue, this was an attempt to control the power of money in campaigns. But if buying elections is part of the "free market," gosh, I guess some Libertarians don't have a problem with it.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17678410)

before you read my sig and think I'm a Republican, I'm a libertarian who just dislikes the left more than the right.
--
At least conservatives explain why they think you're wrong. Liberals spit and call you a Nazi.

Have you been living in a cave for the last six years? Liberals have been explaining why they think a plentiful number of major issues are wrong, while conservatives have been spitting and calling them unpatriotic.

I'm not saying there aren't idiots on all sides of the fence, because certainly the world has no shortage of idiots. But your signature is naively lopsided.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677902)

Dude, you're completely making up numbers. $25,000 or $100,000 salaries are not mentioned in the bill; there is actually no minimum specified, and "payment" itself is not even defined. Read it for yourself.

This bill would have stifled blogs from encouraging people to contact representatives. Good riddance to section 220.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (5, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677954)

I did read it. Here's what it says:
(19) GRASSROOTS LOBBYING FIRM- The term `grassroots lobbying firm' means a person or entity that--
`(A) is retained by 1 or more clients to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of such clients; and
`(B) receives income of, or spends or agrees to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period.'


$100,000 is an extrapolation of $25,000 over a whole year. The bill said simply that a person who makes $25,000 a quarter for political astroturfing ($100,000 a year salary) or is given the same amount to spend on astroturfing is a lobbyist. It's straightforward, true, and doesn't affect bloggers at all.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17678030)

All you Slashdot Socialists are amazing. You're the first to complain about digital freedom being impinged by DRM, and yet you don't think it's wrong to send Billy Blogger to jail for raising money to exercise political freedom; e.g., placing media ads. Billy can do the fundraising for free, no income whatsoever, and still go to jail.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678310)

politically active bloggers with $100,000 salaries or budgets are lobbyists

That's ridiculous. A blogger is not a lobbyist, unless you define lobbying as trying to influence the public's opinion -- in which case I'm lobbying right now. I always thought a lobbyist was someone who was talking to CONGRESS about issues -- that's what "lobby" means to me, although wikipedia disagrees with me and agrees with you. All these efforts to control lobbying and speech are doomed to backfire, squelching true speech and exempting the big money interests. The real problem is corruption in Congress and the solution is for us to pay attention and vote people out when we smell corruption. Unrealistic? Then we get what we deserve.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677548)

A quick note: This was not a "All bloggers need to be registered as lobbists" like the FUD headline states.

This was a "Paid fake bloggers need to register as corporate shills" bill.

This was a GOOD bill, guys. You can tell because the Republicans voted AGAINST it.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677988)

A quick note: This was not a "All bloggers need to be registered as lobbists" like the FUD headline states.

Not all bloggers, but bloggers who attempt to encourage grassroots support of something. Why should they have to register with the government? They have a free speech right.

This was a "Paid fake bloggers need to register as corporate shills" bill.

No, because corporate lobbying shills are exempted in the bill since they don't predominately use public communications. Since there is no minimum payment defined, nor is payment itself defined, political bloggers with readers of over 500 would have been affected.

Re:Conspiracy theorize all you want (1, Informative)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677978)

If you guys need proof of how crazy this was, even the ACLU sided with the Republicans on this one. Ouch!

Democrats (0, Flamebait)

BugDoomBug (965033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677308)

Why? Why do you want our side to look even more technology stupid than the Republicans?

In before series of tubes jokes.

Re:Democrats (4, Insightful)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677352)

Politicians are almost uniformly "technology stupid." (tube joke redacted) Their opinions of different technologies (and everything else) are based entirely on what lobbyists and the party platform tell them to support. Why would anyone think the two parties differ in this regard?

Re:Democrats (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677682)

Why would anyone think the two parties differ in this^W any regard?

FIFY.

Simply put (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678402)

Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians - names, personalities and goals are not important. At the end of the day, there's only one thing that matters: the spice must flow.

Re:Democrats (5, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677400)

I wasn't aware that "our side" was the Democrats. Did I miss the memo?

Re:Democrats (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677512)

Mod comment up please! Not everyone here is a sheep er.. I mean Democrat.

Re:Democrats (1)

magicchex (898936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677886)

What's wrong with it being his side? He didn't claim it was your side, just that it was his and his side's side.

Re:Democrats (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677454)

What does this have to do with technology? It's a social/political/media issue.

Is the reporting and journalistic standards of newspapers a technology issue? After all, your typical newspaper uses more advanced computing technology to publish their stories than the typical slashdot poster's computer. Just because it's on the interwebs doesn't make it a technology issue.

Re:Democrats (5, Insightful)

asuffield (111848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677800)

"Our" side? They are rich American politicians. You are posting on slashdot. They are not on your side.

It is a mistake to think of "us vs them" as "democrats vs republicans", whichever way around you think of it. Everybody in congress is on the same side, and it's not your one.

I feel a great distubance (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677310)

It's as if a 100 million free-speech loving liberals cried out and were suddenly silenced.

(Actually, they were silenced when their heads exploded like Dantooine when they found out that it was Republicans who blocked the bill.)

Re:I feel a great distubance (4, Insightful)

starwed (735423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677328)

Liberals are perfectly aware that Democrats are merely a lesser evil. ^_^

The difference btw. liberalism and libertarian n/m (0, Offtopic)

oSand (880494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677600)

Well perhaps I don't want to make a comment. Didja think of that, Slashdot? Didja think of that?

Re:I feel a great distubance (4, Funny)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677340)

I modded you funny then realized it was Alderan. Dammit. That was my last mod point.

Re:I feel a great distubance (4, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677390)

I modded you funny then realized it was Alderan. Dammit. That was my last mod point.

Dammit! You're right. "Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. But don't worry. We will deal with your Rebel friends soon enough." Damn Tarkin!

Sorry to make you cough up your mod point, but "What's in a name? That which we call a Alderan by another name would explode as sweet"

Re:I feel a great distubance (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677470)

That which we call a Alderan by another name would explode as sweet

You misspelled "kerplode."

Correction (0, Offtopic)

TravisW (594642) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677370)

Dantooine, the planet Leia named to Grand Moff Tarkin as the location of the hidden rebel base, was home only to an abandoned complex. Tarkin asserted that Dantooine was too remote to make an "effective demonstration" and instead destroyed Leia's (adopted) homeworld of Alderaan.

Re:I feel a great distubance (1)

scott_karana (841914) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678026)

Pff, you don't even need to be a Liberal to like freedom of speech.
(Though too America-centric a remark for my general tastes, this was conventiently demonstrated by the Republicans voting against this bill rather than the Democrats)

Astroturfing. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677332)

I freaked when I heard about the bill. Then I learned it was more about the astroturfing.

I hate fake campaigns. I think we are smart enough to learn and I LOVE the freedom to be told (about such things including hotchickonyoutube).

Now, can we get back some of our other freedoms, even if the government (or people) don't like them.

I promise I'll shutup about abortion if I can carry a gun and smoke in a bar.

Re:Astroturfing. (-1, Troll)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677668)

It wasn't about astroturfing. If you communicated to 500 or more members of the public, you had to register or face jail time. It was an attempt to minimize incumbent criticism and bolster a shaky Democratic party going into 2008.

Re:Astroturfing. (1, Redundant)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677772)

WRONG! Here is the conditional for this law to affect you: (astroturfer == true)&&(reach >= 500)&&(salary >= 100000)

Note the &&s (ANDs) there. They're not ||s (ORs) All three must be true, not just any one of them.

Re:Astroturfing. (1, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677986)

Could you please provide the reference for your claim? I looked at the bill and couldn't find anything that said that communicating to 500 people was sufficient to require registration.

Not typical democrat behavior? (3, Funny)

ChyGrrl (774162) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677334)

This really surprises me, I'd have expected the republicans to have been more interested in the panoptic registering of bloggers. Can someone explain why this bill was pushed by the democrats?

Re:Not typical democrat behavior? (4, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677366)

I could be wrong, but I think the target was talk radio and/or conservative sites that are advertiser funded like LittleGreenFootballs, but not MoveOn.org, which is funded by contributors (George Soros)

Re:Not typical democrat behavior? (4, Informative)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677500)

MoveOn.org is a PAC -- they're already very much "registered".

Re:Not typical democrat behavior? (0, Flamebait)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677726)

>I could be wrong, but I think the target was talk radio
>and/or conservative sites that are advertiser funded like
>LittleGreenFootballs, but not MoveOn.org, which is funded
>by contributors (George Soros)

      Exactly. Liberal blogs and liberal talk radio (such as it is) have been, with a few exception, unsuccessful while Conservative blogs and radio have done spectacularly well. Another move along these lines is to revive the "Fairness Doctrine" requiring broadcasters to present "all sides" of any political opinion, which is aimed directly at muzzling Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc. "Fair" as typified by borderline "Workers Daily" propaganda and socialist claptrap like the NBC Nightly News and NPR.

          Business as usual for liberals, who welcome and respect all opinions, as long as they agree with the weeks' talking points. Otherwise it's 'hate speech', the babblings of ignorant rednecks, or "fundamentalist dogma" and must be supressed.

        Brett

Re:Not typical democrat behavior? (0, Troll)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678236)


Exactly. Liberal blogs and liberal talk radio (such as it is) have been, with a few exception, unsuccessful while Conservative blogs and radio have done spectacularly well. Another move along these lines is to revive the "Fairness Doctrine" requiring broadcasters to present "all sides" of any political opinion, which is aimed directly at muzzling Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc. "Fair" as typified by borderline "Workers Daily" propaganda and socialist claptrap like the NBC Nightly News and NPR.


I'm sorry, you think NBC and NPR are examples of extreme liberalism?

Your extreme conservatives call for the DEATH of gays, judges, and whoever else they do not like.

I haven't heard NPR call for the death of any leading republican figures.

Too bad, the world would be a better place without so many neo-con arse holes around.

are you that naive? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677416)

Who wants to jail abortion protestors?

Who wants to stop churches from speaking out against lifestyles they find destructive?

Who wants to limit the freedom of pastors? Of street preachers ?

It's the "liberals". Now, granted these are a bit extreme and you may NOT agree with everything but dammit, they have a right (provided they don't blow up anything).

   

Retard. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677476)

I didn't know Rush Limbaugh knew how to post on slashdot. Exactly why computers should be more difficult to use: keep the retards off.

Re:are you that naive? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677654)

Who wants to jail abortion protestors?

Who bombs clinics, shoots doctors, and wants to jail anyone involved in abortions?

Who wants to stop churches from speaking out against lifestyles they find destructive?

Who wants to jail people for HAVING lifestyles they find destructive?

Who wants to limit the freedom of pastors? Of street preachers ?

Who wants to limit the freedom of the press? Who keeps insisting that one particular religion is innately tied in with government? Who wants to search every package, luggage, monitor your calls? Who wants to hold US citizens in secret, deny them access to a lawyer, deny them the right to a trial by jury? Deny them access to the evidence against them?

Hmmm......

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677534)

This post is not a troll- just b/c you disagree with the parent doesn't mean it's not accurate.

Re:Not typical democrat behavior? (2, Informative)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677640)

It boils down to them not wanting unrestricted Internet criticism of incumbents. Essentially, Democrats are worried about 2008. The election of so many conservative Democrats, the so-called "Blue Dog" caucus, has split the party, and the more liberal leadership is worried about alienating their base.

Consider it a little education. Your assumption that Republicans are somehow more idiotic and stifling than Democrats was wrong in the first place. If anything, Democrats are the folks who want the government to regulate everything--there is actually a draft bill in California make spanking your child a misdemeanor. You can't even smoke cigarettes in your own home anymore (better tell Barak Obama, a heavy smoker!).

Re:Not typical democrat behavior? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677728)

Piss off.

Re:Not typical democrat behavior? (5, Interesting)

rossifer (581396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677856)

It boils down to them not wanting unrestricted Internet criticism of incumbents. Essentially, Democrats are worried about 2008. The election of so many conservative Democrats, the so-called "Blue Dog" caucus, has split the party, and the more liberal leadership is worried about alienating their base.
Your speculation might have some merit if the typical blogger would have had to register under the act. As it turns out, however, the act would have only required bloggers who make and/or spend more than $25,000/year on a politics position blog to register. This article should be titled "Bill to Treat Astroturfing Bloggers as Lobbyists Defeated".

The actual grass-roots bloggers (and whatever their criticism of whoever they wanted to criticize) were never in jeopardy. But the Republicans and some Democrats made sure that astroturfers aren't in jeopardy either. Most of the Democrats were on the ethical side on this one. Sadly, they couldn't get a majority today.

Ross (registered Republican, but not very proud of that association right now)

Kudos to the party of Lincoln (1)

rmdir -r * (716956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677362)

Though it would have been nice to see more of this sort of thing over the past few years.

It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (5, Informative)

JudasBlue (409332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677382)

If anyone had bothered to read the text instead of buying the PR piece by a professional lobbyiest that went up yesterday as news, they would have seen that the provision in question only applied to blogging for pay by a client. Not getting money for your ads or anything else. This was aimed at astroturfing, not bloggers. And paid political speach, which is what we are talking about here, IS regulated already. This wasn't the evil to end all evils and an attack on blogs, it was an attack on lobbyists and it would have likely as not been a good thing if it had gone through.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (5, Informative)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677408)

Yep. From the text:

(19) GRASSROOTS LOBBYING FIRM- The term `grassroots lobbying firm' means a person or entity that--

(A) is retained by 1 or more clients to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of such clients; and

(B) receives income of, or spends or agrees to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period.'.


Doesn't sound like treating bloggers as lobbyists, it sounds like treating lobbyists posing as bloggers as lobbyists.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677646)

Actually it sounds more like treating lobbyists as the liars and scoundrels they are. They should not be able to pretend they are normal, well behaved people on the net or in any other public forum. Perhaps tattoos on the forehead and cheeks (both ends) would be appropriate a big L in red to denote a lying lobbyist whose opinions are for sale to the highest bidder.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678152)

Perhaps tattoos on the forehead and cheeks (both ends) would be appropriate a big L in red to denote a lying lobbyist whose opinions are for sale to the highest bidder.

Nah, use a big green H on the forehead to denote tham as Rimmer.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678346)

Naw, I'd settle for a "This opinion is not my own but was paid for by a corporation whose interests will be benefited by its spread" neon sign

Sorry but I'm a firm believer that bias should be declared or implicit in all political speech.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (4, Interesting)

MrWGW (964175) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677432)

Of course, then you run into a whole can of worms in the process of determining who was paid versus who wasn't. One can conceivably imagine the provision being used as an excuse for law enforcement (or worse) to rifle through bloggers' bank accounts to determine evidence of "illegal payment." This could cause all kinds of hassles, especially for bloggers who use their blog as a source of income and who might (as is often the case with self-employed workers) not follow proper proceedures for recording who paid them for what in terms of legal, legitimate advertising. Thus, it could be alleged that they had illegally accepted money for a political post on their blog without having registered as a lobbyist, and they could face jail time, et cetera. It is of course axiomatic that the ruling party of the moment could use this as a tool with which to quickly silence opposition.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (3, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677482)

Ok, but that's a non-unique argument. If government search standards are as low as you describe, there are dozens, if not hundreds of laws or regulations law enforcement could already use as an excuse to harass you. The issue in your scenario is the lax requirements for warrants, not the lobbyist law.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677446)

Mod parent up! The fact that this amendment actually targets astroturfers and not your average freedom loving blogger was corrected in the comments of the original post. There's no excuse for the follow up post to make the same omission.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (4, Insightful)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677508)

Yeah the grassroots protests against this are probably from political lobyists who get paid to write stuff in their blog. Interesting how well it works.

No, it was about stopping bloggers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677700)

The part you conveniently leave out is that payment wasn't defined as receipt of cash. It was defined as communicating to 500 or more readers. Dems didn't want any criticism.

Re:No, it was about stopping bloggers (5, Informative)

JudasBlue (409332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678276)

No, actually it was 25,000 a quarter and it required that you be retained by a client. Pretty clear. The 500 thing was totally different than the payment. Read the actual bill and not the crap spin that was spouted by a lobbyist on PR Wire and picked up here yesterday.

And I don't think it was dems not wanting competition. MoveOn.org is equal to anything the right has going in this area, and I can promise you the Dems sure don't want it to have to fall under K street kinda rules.

Ah, but you are a troll posting anonymously...

ack, moveon is already registered (1)

JudasBlue (409332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678294)

As another poster pointed out, I had forgotten that MoveOn is already a PAC. Bad me.

Re:It was about stopping astroturf not bloggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677782)

So, like George Soros funded stuff?

Disgraceful (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677410)

That it was such a close vote... and even more that most Democrats voted for it.

Re:Disgraceful (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677864)

Well Air America went down on flames. Time magazine laid off a couple hundred people. The Today show is in the dumps. Katie Couric is losing ground. Fake Memos cost CBS. The New York Times shareholders know Punch Sulzberger is killing the paper. The liberal media landscape resonates with failure all around - but they won't change. Instead they want to silence people who oppose them - or at least demand they automatically get equal time. These are the same people trying to force homo marriage on us and supporting Al Qeada. Democrat Party is no longer the party of Roosevelt. They are scum who would see your kid get blown up if they can get their agenda.

Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (0, Redundant)

rhinokitty (962485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677412)

Eeek! This is the first time since I can remember that I have agreed with republicans! I don't think bloggers should have to register as lobbyists. Why do Democrats? WTF!? There must be something that I am missing...

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677502)

What your missing is that the bill was never about making bloggers register as lobbyists - that was all spin, and slashdot nicely bought it hook, line and sinker.

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677530)

Ironic. We need bloggers to explain why the Democrats seemed to almost like that anti-blogger provision.

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678076)

Are you referring to me as a blogger? That's pretty ridiculous, as I've never blogged in my life. In fact, I detest blogs.

Of course, in the tradition of Voltaire, I defend the bloggers' right to write their insipid drivel - but it doesn't stop me from being disgusted by them, and the very word "blog."

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (0)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677732)

What about that part in the bill [prnewswire.com] requiring people who reached 500 or more members of the public to register, and that was enough to constitute payment?

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (1)

tmalone (534172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677814)

That part of the bill only applies to organizations that must register in the first place. If you qualify (if you are being paid to blog), then, every time you communicate to more than 500 people, you have to report the money that was involved with that communication. Amazing what happens when you read the entire bill.

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (5, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677838)

Please, read the actual bill. It says you must reach 500 people AND make $100,000 working as a paid shill. Not OR!!!

Please don't link to a propaganda piece by a professional conservative lobbyist [wikipedia.org] and claim it to be equal evidence to the above cited UCLA law professor and the above cited Orginal Bill. Payment and Reach were considered separately in the bill. Why don't you read the actual bill, and see if that alleviates your concerns.

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (5, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678098)

At least conservatives explain why they think you're wrong. Liberals spit and call you a Nazi.

That's head-spinningly ironic, given liberals' tendency to explain their position at length, and conservatives' tendency to use ad hominem in place of debate, and make their srguments up out of thin air. See your post that I am replying to as an example of such non-factual argument.

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17678296)

That's head-spinningly ironic, given liberals' tendency to explain their position at length, and conservatives' tendency to use ad hominem in place of debate, and make their srguments up out of thin air.

Oh, are you a conservative then?

Re:Can't resist... Agreeing with republicans... (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678274)

Today I'm left feeling dirty and betrayed having been opposed to that worthy bill yesterday... not that I could have made a difference in the vote anyhow. It's refreshing, though, that most of the Democrats supported it.

Goes to show... (3, Insightful)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677420)

That Republicans and Democrats are both equally serious about both the First and Second Amendments. And that they are on opposite sides on both issues.

The Second Amendment guarantees the First.

I smell a rat (-1, Troll)

shanen (462549) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677498)

No, not a Democratic rat, but a neo-GOP rat. [How many of you know about the neo-GOP marching orders not to use the proper adjectival form for the Democratic Party?] Of course it's difficult to penetrate the veil of secrecy around the neo-GOP, but all of them going one way on any real issue clearly says that directions came from on high.

Why? Well, first guess time. How many bloggers could you hire for a million bucks? Hey, a million bucks here, a million bucks there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money a la neo-GOP-style campaigning--the only asset the neo-GOP has left now that McCain has joined (and chucked his principles) and Colin Powell has basically defected (apparently wedged by his).

Re:I smell a rat (1, Insightful)

DrRevotron (994894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677570)

So, you bring up the Republicans' slang terms for the Democratic party, and yet you throw around "neo-GOP" like we're a bunch of Neo-Nazis. Smart, prove to the world that Democrats are truly hypocritical, in more ways than one. ("Oh, we can have numerous campaign sites and astroturfing sites, but you can't run Littlegreenfootballs.com because you disagree with us!" Smart, Dems.)

I'm out of mod points. Somebody wanna rate the parent post as a flamebait?

Re:I smell a rat (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678164)

like we're a bunch of Neo-Nazis.

That's funny, I thought it was a reference to neoliberals. Why is it that you only associate the "neo" prefix with Nazis, when it is used in many other contexts, and has its own meaning? I think it probably says more about you than the post you are responding to.

Re:I smell a rat (0, Redundant)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677760)

Why do liberals use the word "neo?" Is that supposed to be insulting or something? I've never understood it.

[How many of you know about the neo-GOP marching orders not to use the proper adjectival form for the Democratic Party?] Of course it's difficult to penetrate the veil of secrecy around the neo-GOP, but all of them going one way on any real issue clearly says that directions came from on high.


Hell, how many of you know about the marching orders to deflect any mention of Barak Obama's heavy smoking by referencing Mark Foley? We could go all day with this.

Why? Well, first guess time. How many bloggers could you hire for a million bucks? Hey, a million bucks here, a million bucks there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money a la neo-GOP-style campaigning--the only asset the neo-GOP has left now that McCain has joined (and chucked his principles) and Colin Powell has basically defected (apparently wedged by his).


Haha, after all, Dems never hire anyone or have millions to spend (hello, liberal Hollywood)...anyway, this bill was an attempt by Democrats to stifle criticism of incumbents going into 2008. They know they're already on shaky ground--all the new Democrats are conservative anti-abortion, pro-gun Democrats--and they wanted to require bloggers with 500 or more readers to register. It's a restriction of free speech.

Since you probably haven't even read it, here's section 220 [loc.gov] . The phrase "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" is conveniently not defined in the bill.

Re:I smell a rat (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678260)

I knew I should've said *something* when I heard about this on the Focus on the Family broadcast a week or so ago.

Sigh.

The Dems are making complete 180s (1, Flamebait)

DrRevotron (994894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677516)

Now that the Democrats have a majority in the legislative branch, they're starting to completely twist all their campaign promises. Remember the Democrats who were complaining about the price of oil? Well, they just approved about $15 billion in Big Oil taxes. And now they're trying to effectively restrict or silence the mainly-Conservative grassroots/astroturf efforts just in time for 2008. (I don't believe it's a coincidence that MoveOn.org doesn't fall under their definition of astroturfing.) Politicians (all politicians, mind you) will say and do anything to get re-elected.

Good (5, Insightful)

bmajik (96670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677574)

Can anyone explain why there are _any_ limits on political speech? Isn't that the most important kind of speech to protect? Why do you need to "register" as a PAC?

Isn't there already a law that limits how much political speech can happen leading up to an election and who can say it?

We can all find the bad in pretty much every law on the books. What i can't find is the "good" about any political-speech-restriction laws.

There are lots of voices out there that i'd just as soon not have to hear, but silencing them via government intervention seems pretty unAmerican (for historical values of "American").

Re:Good (0, Troll)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17677840)

Perhaps its because political speech is all about lies. If they weren't registered, who's to say that they couldn't actually held liable for the libel and slander they spread?

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

slizz (822222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678054)

Well it seems to me that if you are paid to express a certain opinion, that expression isn't comparable to the expression of a personal opinion, i.e. free speech. Putting restrictions on an idea that someone is paid to put out doesn't seem to be a restriction of free speech, because there is no restriction on the idea itself, just the "advertising" of that idea. "Advertising" seems to be a better way of viewing lobbying than "free speech," and there should be restrictions on advertising, I think (although it's definitely a murky issue).

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678064)

Amongst what the other reply to your post said, there are other reasons, whether or not most people think they are good or bad is a different issue.

Let's just consider a simple scenario, a very simple scenario that doesn't deal with many of the issues facing this problem. You are a voter who has decided to vote based on the opinions of 10 random people. You believe that this is a good representation of the public and want to vote the way the public does. If there are no lobbyists, then your vote will be based on the majority oppinion of the 10 people you talk to. If we add lobbyists to the scenario, then you can no longer say that about your vote. If one of your 10 people is a lobbyist, then you have essentially lost an opinion and have handicapped the other candidate. This obviously scales as you get more than one lobbyist. Now consider two cases: you don't know who the lobbyist is or you know who the lobbyist is. If you don't know which person is a lobbyist (or don't even know that you picked a lobbyist), then your vote is skewed in favor of the lobbyist. If you know which person is the lobbyist, then you can take that into consideration when forming your vote by discarding that opinion or getting a new one. If you then knew who paid that lobbyist, you might treat that vote differently by giving it more importance than the other votes if you agree with the organization or by counting against the candidate if you strongly disagree with the organization.

I think that part of what you were talking about is that more political speech means more information, which I agree is a good thing. But to get the most information, you need to know who is talking, along with why they are talking and whether or not they are paid to say the things they say. In another example that isn't completely related, consider being sued for something you do while working at a company. The company provides you with a lawyer. It would be in your best interest to know whether the company hired the lawyer for you or whether they gave you a lawyer that is on their payroll who might be acting in the company's best interest instead of yours (not that this is always the case by any means). Again, knowing who a person works for can give you insight into their motivation. This isn't about silencing voices, its about informing the people who are listening to the voices (not the ones in their heads).

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678118)

Can anyone explain why there are _any_ limits on political speech? Isn't that the most important kind of speech to protect?

1. We have important laws against lying about someone and presenting it as factual information. I cannot start a blog about bmajik or run commercials about you in which I call you a child molester, unless of course this is true. If you are a candidate for office, I still cannot create a blog or run commercials about you in which I call you a child molester, unless it is true. The Supreme Court has ruled that such things do not count as free speech, unless reasonable people believe it to be a parody.

2. We have serious problems with freedom of speech when corporations monopolize the process of distributing information. If enough corporations choose to unfairly favor one candidate or political viewpoint to the exclusion of other political viewpoints, then the freedom of speech of citizens is actually reduced in favor of the bias of the majority corporate viewpoint, which is in the hands of a select few individuals. This problem is present because the average citizen is financially unable to start a television station or cable news network, even if strongly motivated to do so. (There are also a limited number of broadcast slots available, and a limited number of cable lines which can be run in any one area without excessive disruption of life.) Thus, laws which ensure the fairness of the limited number of major gateways for political speech can actually increase freedom of speech. We may hope that the internet may eliminate this problem in the future, but for now it has only reduced it.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678178)

Can anyone explain why there are _any_ limits on political speech?

This is about money, not speech. You can say anything you want. But you can't get paid for doing anything you want. I think speech should be free - you don't need money to speak. If receiving money changes what you will say - then what's that all about? it's amazing how many people confuse money and speech, although I suspect the confusion is deliberate in many cases.

Re:Good (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678234)

I think one of the reasons political speech with regards to campaigns is regulated/restricted is to prevent money from having too much of an effect on election results.

Re:Good (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678268)

Because it's not on speech, it's on communications medium.

The bill in question would've put restrictions on anyone who was getting paid $100,000 or more per year to blog for political reasons from another group. Plus McCain/Feingold restricts the medium, not anything content wise. The idea here is to restrict the possibility that one would be able to outspend their opponent.

The fact that people can get paid $100k+ for this activity boggles the goddamn mind.

Re:Good (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678348)

Ok, I'm not even a U.S. citizen and I can guess that the limit of political speech only can/does apply to those registered as political lobbyists (as the bill attempts to do for those PAID for their speech)

You're asking the wrong question. (3, Insightful)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678354)

You're asking the wrong question. Why? Because here we're talking about laws that put restrictions on speech that is both political and commercial. Commercial speech, as I sure hope you already know, is not protected by the First Amendment in the USA. So the real question is whether we should restrict commercially produced political speech.

In both the case of PACs and the case of this proposed law, the idea is that such speech is restricted in a particular way: such speech is allowed, but it must disclose its commercial nature, i.e., the fact that somebody is paying to produce it. Why? In order to hold actors in the political field honest, and to enable the public to better judge political information that it receives.

Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17677776)

A slightly misleading headline, I would expect better. The bill entailed that all persons or organizations being paid by a separate organization and who spent at least $25,000 on their activities would have to register. While I still didn't support the bill personally its nice to see partisanship and deliberate misleading of people is still alive and well.

Whoah, that's one hella tendentious blurb. (5, Informative)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17678304)

Where the submission writeup says "previously reported by Slashdot," it should say "previously misreported by Slashdot." And presupposing that the way Slashdot "reported" it is right, as it happens, is a major piece of spin in this context. Because it's used to set up the rest of the blurb as an insinuation that Democrats were endorsing a bill that restricts freedom of political speech for bloggers (when in fact it's a bill that restricts commercial speech by people paid specifically to pretend they are unpaid advocates.)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...