It is not often that you will catch me writing anything positive about the Federal Elections Commission. Today is an exception. The FEC unanimously issued an Advisory Opinion 2005-16 today, opining that blogs have the same rights as other forms of media.
At issue was whether blogs are to be exempted from campaign finance laws. The FEC Opinion states:
According to the House report on the 1974 amendments to the Act, the press exception made plain Congress’s intent that the Act would not “limit or burden in any way the first amendment freedoms of the press . . .” and would assure “the unfettered right of the newspapers, TV networks, and other media to cover and comment on political campaigns.”
The opinion came as a result of a request for an advisory opinion submitted by FiredUpAmerica.com. The FEC determined that online political commentary is clearly not considered a campaign contribution.
Thus, because Fired Up is a press entity, and neither it nor its websites are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate, the costs Fired Up incurs in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial on its websites are exempt from the definitions of “contribution” and “expenditure.” The Commission notes that an entity otherwise eligible for the press exception would not lose its eligibility merely because of a lack of objectivity in a news story, commentary, or editorial, even if the news story, commentary, or editorial expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for Federal office.
William Ernest Hocking perhaps said it best with, “Where men cannot freely convey their thoughts to one another, no other liberty is secure.”
A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders Thursday they will try to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination Senate-mandated protections against “unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance” in a House-Senate compromise.
“If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law,” GOP Sens. Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold and Ken Salazar said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees. [emphasis added]
Score one for rational lawmaking. I’m actually hoping they get the cold-shoulder on this so it will become big news and more senators will back them.
A new poll indicates bad news across the board for Bush, Republicans and even Democrats — from Political Wire:
President Bush’s job approval continues to fall, “touching another new low for his presidency,” according to the latest Harris Interactive poll. “Bush’s current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August.”
“Vice President Dick Cheney’s approval ratings slipped to 30% this month from 35% in August.”
However, Democrats also saw “one of the biggest dips in approval” in this poll. “Only a quarter of Americans polled give Democrats a positive rating in the latest poll, compared with 31% in August, while Republicans’ approval ratings fell to 27% from 32%.”
The 34% Libertarians need to win any 3-way elections is looking more feasible with each new poll, now we just need some star candidates and the money machine to back that up.
Evidently the Department of Homeland
Stupidity Security thinks that “terrorists” are going to infiltrate your local Bingo hall. Kentucky has been awarded a grant to protect it’s vulnerable citizens from this imminent threat.
But to some, the idea of protecting bingo halls from terrorists is nonsensical.
“It’s almost ludicrous,” said Rick Bentley, a Henry Clay High School sports booster as he volunteered last Thursday at a noisy, smoke-filled Lexington bingo parlor. “The thought would never even enter my mind.”
As a side note, the article presents an interesting factoid about Bingo:
With more than 1,300 organizations licensed to raise money through gambling, charitable gaming raised $51 million in 2003.
This could be a good way for your local Libertarian organization to raise some money. Given that being a Libertarian probably makes you an enemy of the state by default, you might as well give the DHS something to do with their free time.
Kudos to TheAgitator.com
Larissa came home tonight and told me that they were instructed to recite the Pledge of Allegience today at school. She said they had not been required, before today, to participate. She stood as instructed, but did not hold her hand over her heart or speak out loud. Her reason? “The pledge” means nothing today. She said that she did not feel like the patriotic intent was there. We spent some time discussing whether patriotism was to be loyal to a country, or if it was truly an inclination to be loyal to the individual self while protecting the freedom of another’s inclination. She explained that requiring the pledge has dulled its meaning. She, of course, knows that “under God” was not originally written, and she knows that America is very far from the spirit which inspired the words. She acted, in my opinion, very much as she should. She was contemplative and she dug deep into her own thoughts to determine why she would be required to recite words for good measure. She wondered why her pledge rather than her acts would make her a good person; an American. She questioned authority-respectfully. She questioned her role and she broke from the herd.
The Club for Growth informs us the notorious bridge to nowhere ($223 million in pork) has supposedly gotten the axe, yet the money still goes to Alaska to spend as they see fit:
However, this can only be seen as a small victory. The millions of dollars allocated for this pork project will go to the Alaska state government for them to spend as they see fit — instead of the money going to the Katrina relief effort — or, heaven forbid, back to federal taxpayers.
Radley Balko appropriately calls it “smoke and mirrors” and remains skeptical:
It’s a cheap stunt by the GOP to deflect public criticism that doesn’t really change much of anything. All the conference committee did was remove the earmark for the bridges. Alaska will still be getting the same obscene amount of money from the federal government, it’s just that the state won’t be required to use it to build those two particular bridges. It’ll be up to the executive and the state legislature to decide how to spend it.
He notes that the money could very well still end up funding the bridge (though it’s not unreasonable to suspect the new bureaucratic overhead will have a toll).
Frankly, I think we should take some victory from the buzz it’s generating — enough to get PorkBusters (wikipedia) some well deserved media attention and raise the public consciousness on federal pork handouts.
Words cannot express how unbelievably upsetting this is. I hope and pray this memo is a hoax. But considering that the PNAC paper called for a “New Pearl Harbor“, I won’t put it past them.
This memo scores a hefty 8.5 on the “What the hell were they thinking” meter. The key words are emphasized:
A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and “restore his image as a leader of the American people.”
The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”
I believe this fits this definition perfectly.
2 A person of a rapacious, predatory, or profiteering nature.
For these guys, another 9/11 is a wet dream. Their constituents will run to them for protection, while simultaneously forgiving them for screwing up the economy, our liberties, and frankly anything they touch.
This is not late breaking news, but more of a problem that our elected servants in Washington find kind of embarrassing and of little concern.
It’s been painfully obvious for many years that many of our nation’s soldiers that put their lives on the line, were left in Vietnam and Korea. Family members trying to find real answers are met with nothing but bureaucratic red tape. A concerned relative writes:
Two of the major corrupt politicians he wants to expose as liars and two-faced traitors, in what he calls the “biggest military cover-up in the history of our country,” are former Presidential candidate and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former Vietnam POW declared a national hero.
“He’s no hero,” said Dumas, 74, in an extended conversation this week from his Connecticut home. “He’s anything but a hero. Ask why he had the Senate, through Kerry’s influence, seal all his POW records in Vietnam? He had these records sealed for life and is hiding the true story of how he sided with the North Vietnamese to save his own skin.”
Even Ron Paul is calling for an investigation. I agree, it’s long overdue.
While I’m adamantly opposed to this war in Iraq, I certainly would forgo immediate departure to pick up all the remaining soldiers before leaving. Pretending they don’t exist is sooo dick, particularly when the administration is bemoaning the lack of recruits and the need to invade most of the Middle East.
Hey everyone, this is just a quick hit to see how many people we can get to join Upcoming.org (a Yahoo! brand) and become a member of the Libertarian group. Right now, the most popular group — Flickr — has a mere 267 members and I’m betting we could dwarf that in under a month or so.
Basically, Upcoming.org is the free version of the now commercial MeetUp. And even though it’s still not as full featured (it’s simply a scheduling service for groups and localities), you can bet the Yahoo buyout will make it a player over the next year.
And if you’re in Ohio, why not join the Peirce for Ohio group as well?
The United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union is hosting a world summit for the purpose of gaining control over the Internet:
The outcome could determine who eventually controls the technical and administrative infrastructure at the root of the Internet, which allows the computer network to function seamlessly worldwide.
Some officials fear the dispute could degenerate and eventually lead to the balkanisation of the Internet, breaking it up into a series of unconnected rival networks.
“The idea that the Internet is an unregulated haven, these days are finished,” a source close to the talks said.
Thank goodness. I was wondering when someone was going to come along and
censor regulate the Internet.
Update by Stephen VanDyke: Late-breaking news that we can let out a sigh of relief (for now) [via BuzzMachine]:
A U.N. technology summit opened Wednesday after an 11th-hour agreement that leaves the United States with ultimate oversight of the main computers that direct the Internet’s flow of information, commerce and dissent.
Wow, this takes the cake. A script has to be rewritten because a crazed member of the audience did not like a cigarette lighted as a play prop?
Arghhhh, I cannot think clearly enough to post — I am still regurgitating this tripe. I am truly sorry to Italy, a country that serves delicious tripe. (A Tuscan delight.)
If the intent of one especially law abiding member of the audience becomes the norm, we will no longer see a sword in The Count of Monte Christo. Tripe, has lost its appeal.
A recent Rosner Interactive Services poll shows that a large percentage of people are either becoming apolitical or they have recently discovered third parties:
In general, do you find yourself leaning more to the Democratic or Republican party these days?
38% – Democratic
32% – Republican
27% – Neither party
3% – I’m not sure
Let’s hope they discovered libertarianism.
I just installed a new Voice-Over-IP product today. And it wasn’t from Vonage.
MyPeople has a competitive product to Vonage; it it was the simplest technical installation I have ever been involved with. Turn the router off, plug the phone cord in the phone jack, plug the ethernet cable into the enternet jack, plug it in, and viola. The prices are competitive, and the service is superior.
On top of being extremely user friendly, the instructions are friendly and inviting. Their website is, too. Even after logging in and playing with the technical issues involved with the service, it was still friendly and inviting. The most complicated part was setting up the voice mail, but that was easier than T-Mobile’s latest voice mail system.
For those of you looking for new VOIP service, I’d suggest checking out MyPeople. And be sure to tell them I sent you (they track referrals by phone number or name). I’d like the free months of service for the referrals that you all are eligible to receive, too.
Give them a call at 1-866-5-mypeople and a real person (who actually knows what he or she is talking about) will answer right away. Or you can find out more online right here.
I feel kinda bad for Ralph Nader, the poor guy has become so irrelevant in politics that he has to dive into the niche market of frivolous sports litigation. Overlawyered gives us the low-down on Nader’s new career [via Independent Sources]:
Ralph Nader is arguing that the Philadelphia Eagles’ decision to suspend star wide receiver Terrell Owens (for, inter alia, publicly criticizing the team and quarterback, shouting at coaches, a physical altercation with a teammate, and then failing to apologize) is consumer fraud because season-ticket holders had an expectation that Owens would play for the team, which barely lost the Super Bowl last year, and was an early favorite this year.
Ok Nader, you wanna know where you went all stupid with this? You pointed your finger at the Eagles for the suspension instead of holding Terrell Owens responsible for his actions that got him suspended. Simple enough.
Update: Not to be outdone, Jesse Jackson chimes in (because you know… nothing says “I’m serious about politics” than taking cues from Nader). However, I have to somewhat agree with the rev (noted in the comments by kit) on this suprisingly libertarian point:
[…The NFL Players Association] wants the Eagles to cut T.O. if they are not going to reinstate him. I agree. T.O. has publicly apologized. His heart is contrite. If the Philadelphia Eagles’ owners do not find his apology acceptable and no longer aim to maintain an association with him, they should release him to the open market or free agency […]
Vice president Dick Cheney is something of a lightning rod for this administration, considering his ill-tempered demeanor towards detractors (and detracting senators). So it’s no surprise that his appearance — at an event honoring former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker’s 80th birthday coinciding with the groundbreaking for the Baker Center — spurred some protestors to infiltrate the gathering:
During Cheney’s brief remarks, about a half-dozen people protesting the war in Iraq yelled, “War, what is it good for?” and held up a large banner saying, “Peace Now.”
Cheney continued speaking and didn’t acknowledge the protesters, who were escorted from the ceremony inside the University of Tennessee’s basketball arena.
About 50 protesters, most of them appearing to be college age, demonstrated outside the arena. Several carried signs, including one that read “Honor Baker, Impeach Cheney.”
The first slogans mentioned are a tad cliche if you ask me (and there’s no word if anyone told Cheney to go “F” himself). Something tells me we’ll be hearing even more Cheney heckling in the future.
Previously: Gulfport Residents to Cheney: “Go F&%k Yourself — We’re Libertarian Now” video, Cheney Booed at Yankee Stadium, Cheney to Sen. Leahy: “Go Fu*k Yourself”
Elaine Ganley of the Associated Press reports:
President Jacques Chirac said Monday that the unrest in France’s poor, largely nonwhite suburbs revealed a “crisis of identity” that the entire nation must heal with firmness and with measures that combat what he called the poison of discrimination.
Chirac – speaking to the nation for the first time since the unrest erupted Oct. 27 — said France must instill values and hope in the “sons and daughters of the Republic” growing up in the poor, largely immigrant suburbs ringing French cities.
French law must be obeyed, he said, but all of France — its companies, unions and the media — must work to change decades of discrimination with new hiring policies.
“These events testify to a profound malaise … . This is a crisis of direction, a crisis of reference points, it is a crisis of identity,” he said. “We will respond by being firm, being just and being faithful to the values of France.”
One wonders what gave him the first clue. Now that Chirac finally gets it, perhaps he could teach a few of the American elite that we have similar problems here in River City. That is if he can break the attention of our power brokers away from their Hudson Valley foie gras and Dom Perignon lunches long enough to march them through the grim reality of places like nearby Southeast DC.
G. Edward Griffin, founder of Freedom Force International made a bold list of predictions 3 days after 9/11 on how the “War on Terrorism” would play out.
So how did he do? Well on my score card, he hit 13 out of 13. No, he’s not a psychic. He just understand the collectivist’s agenda. When you know you’re enemies’ playbook, you’ll finally have a chance to beat the bastards. Anyway, here is a quick summary of the first 3 predictions.
1. The first prediction is that we will not be given genuine options regarding the war on terrorism. We will have only two choices, both of which are disastrous. It will be similar to the Vietnam War in which Americans were expected to be either hawks or doves. Either they supported the no-win war or they opposed it.
2. Most American political leaders are now committed to world government, so the second prediction is that they will crow about how America will not tolerate terrorism, but they will not act as Americans. Instead, they will act as internationalists. They will turn to the UN to lead a global war against terrorism.
3. The third prediction is that the drive for national disarmament will be intensified. This will not lead to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, but merely to the transfer of those weapons to UN control.
Seems to me like he’s on to something.
I wasn’t aware that Bruce Willis was such a gung-ho Iraq war supporter, what with his comments about the media not doing enough to cover the “good” news in Iraq. But we have to give him some props for straying from the party-line that seems to ignore Bin Laden (and company) and the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan — in order to offer some additional bounty cash:
Actor Bruce Willis has offered $1 million to anyone who turns in al-Qaeda terror leaders.
The patriotic “Die Hard” star will pay out for information on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, Aymen Al-zawahiri or Abu Musab Al-zarqawi, the alleged brains behind the 9/11 atrocity.
The open bounty on Osama’s head is a reported $50 million, however authorities have been quick to arrest any private citizen trying to go and, you know… actually catch him.
Personally, I think there’s a void here begging to filled with a reality TV series covering the hunt for Al Qaida militants on the Afghan/Paki border.
I just spoke with our friends in Georgia, who had just spoken to Bryan and Mandy DuBois, who called from the court house where they appeared today.
If you don’t recall the story, Bryan DuBois is the editor of an Ohio based blog under judicial fire for being a judicial whistleblower. He and co-defendent Elsebeth Baumgartner were scheduled to be in court this morning. The entire chronology of the case is located here. Here is the latest from the courthouse, as Kathryn Weitzel of the Libertarian Action Network reports it:
In one of Ohio’s largest first amendment violation cases, the defendant taken into arrested in court right before the jury trial began. Elsebeth Baumgartner and Bryan DuBois have been under fire for exposing local corruption in Ohio. Their crime? Blogging.
Baumgartner and DuBois filed papers one week ago with the Ohio Supreme Court attempting to stay the trial because of judicial bias. Their affidavit claims a conflict of interest concerning the Judge that initially brought up charges against them.
Their trial was scheduled for 9AM this morning in the Cuyahoga County Justice Center. According to the second hand report, Judge Shirly Saffold revoked Elsebeth Baumgartner’s bond immediately after Baumgartner tried to file a motion of continuance to amend the affidavit in the case it was denied.
Baumgartner had spoken just three words when Judge Saffold, who had been walking away from the bench at the time, suddenly returned to the microphone and called for the deputy of the court. Saffold then said, “I’m revoking her bond, arrest her.”
As more information becomes available on this story, we will continue to report it. That is until they pry the First Amendment from my cold, dead fingers.
Update: A more complete rendition of what happened is now available at Erie Voices.
Every time Rev. Pat Robertson is in the news, the jokes practically write themselves. This time Robertson chastised the town of Dover, Pennsylvania for voting out the incumbent board of education after residents had enough of the intelligent design stuff being taught as science:
“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God. You just rejected him from your city,” Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club.”
[…]”God is tolerant and loving, but we can’t keep sticking our finger in his eye forever,” Robertson said. “If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.”
Haw haw, good one Pat… that’s almost as clever as that time you poked your finger in God’s eye for that whole “thou shalt not kill” stuff — calling for the assassination of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez.
Update: There’s more to why the residents of Dover (York County) kicked out the incumbents. Apparently there was a whole lotta don’t-question-mah-authoritah going on along with I-don’t-recall-itis according to this op-ed by a resident:
Mr. Buckingham started this whole mess. He refused to tell the public where the book “Of Pandas and People” came from. Knowing all along it was his doing. […] Tapes of meetings were destroyed. Since when do we destroy tapes of public school board meetings?
The Washington Post has a headline which reads: “Roberts: Iraq Will Affect Future War Votes”. A snippet of the article provides:
The Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said yesterday that one lesson of the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq is that senators would take a hard look at intelligence before voting to go to war.
“I think a lot of us would really stop and think a moment before we would ever vote for war or to go and take military action,” Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Senators “don’t accept this intelligence at face value anymore,” said Pat Roberts, left, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee. Sen. Carl M. Levin said Iraq became a center of terrorism after its invasion in March 2003.
“We don’t accept this intelligence at face value anymore,” he added. “We get into preemptive oversight and do digging in regards to our hard targets.”
I’ve tried to come up with some meaningful political insight on the issue, but the most profound libertarian commentary which comes to mind is “No shit, Sherlock”.
Kathryn Weitzel is truly an angel. She is a stay-at-home-mom political activist, and when I needed a personal assistant during the Badnarik campaign, Kathryn immediately jumped to the task and handled my e-mail and filtered some of my telephone calls, as well as assisting me in many other scheduling and administrative matters. She has also helped in a similar manner with other political activities of mine. Her tireless spirit and good nature (as well as thousands of hours of hard work) have forever endeared me to her, despite the fact that she left me for another man — Michael Badnarik. Since the last presidential campaign ended, I haven’t needed her assistance as much and she’s been doing a lot of these same sorts of services for Mike.
I saw her a few weeks ago and noted that she seemed healthy and had probably lost a few pounds since I had seen her last. You can imagine my surprise when Mike and I got an e-mail from her telling us about her new baby, Lucille. Here is an excerpt from her message:
I think I’ll call her Lucille, as in to lose seal, or loose seal — as in what it will do to the intruder’s intestinal movements. Hope all is well and I’m proud of you both — Kathryn
Lucille is a Taurus Millennium PT145, and weighs in at a healthy 22.6 ounces. Constructed with a hammer-forged slide and an injection-molded polymer frame, it is a pocket-size, extremely lightweight double-action-only autoloader which uses .45 ACP. It features a 10-round magazine capacity for 10+1 firepower — and is an excellent choice of a concealed weapon for woman of Kathryn’s physical size and shooting expertise.
Kathryn, all I can think to say is congratulations on the newest member of your family.
The Libertarian Movement Party in Costa Rica seems to be having some success:
The growing Costa Rican Libertarian movement, which controls some 10% of the country’s Congress, has announced it is the main party in 13 of the country’s 81 counties.
Quite impressive considering the party was founded in 1994.