Wednesday, July 9

Democrat Politicians Move to Control Congressional Internet Content

I don't want to hear Hillary Clinton supporters say to me, 'B-b-but Diane Feinstein would never do something like this.'

She wouldn't, huh?
Feinstein (D-CA) would have the [Senate] Rules Committee act as a censor board, forcing [congressional] members to get approval for the act of communicating on external websites. Further, it would appear that the Feinstein proposal would attempt to exercise editorial control over these sites, at least indirectly.(1)
Over on the House side, Nancy Pelosi wants to:
... impose rules barring any member of Congress from posting opinions on any internet site without first obtaining prior approval from the Democratic leadership of Congress. No blogs, twitter, online forums -- nothing.(2)
Also, the internet censorship rules being proposed for the Congress might extend to external web sites whose members communicate with Congress.(3)

If you tell me they can't do that, yes they can.

Now tell me again, my Democrat friend, that the First Amendment is perfectly safe

If you feel you must be in the middle of a bad dream -- wake up. There will be no more need for America's anti-democratic politicians to wear a liberal mask once Barack Obama is in the White House; emboldened by this fact, Pelosi, Feinstein and their fellow travelers in Congress are setting about to quash dissent from congressional Republicans and any Democrat stupid enough to oppose Obama's march.

As for the talk that Barack Obama is moving to the center -- the center of what? Somewhere midway between despotism and totalitarianism?

I went to all that trouble to put together a schema of associations for you, and which reveals the real Barack Obama. And you're talking to me about Left and Right?

Obama's "liberal" voting record was just playing to the fools who could put him in power quickest. There is no "center" political position in Obama's world; there is only a quest for power.

Note: sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting, "Lalalalalalalala I won't listen to you Pundita," is not going to change the reality that the Democrat party is deader than a doornail. It was destroyed from the inside, not from Republican onslaughts.

What to do? For starters I'd suggest you get on the horn with your congressonal representatives and yell yourself hoarse.

I think that Pelosi et al. are betting that the distraction of the presidential campaign will allow them to carry out their plan to muzzle democracy without the public noticing.

They should back off, once they realize that Netizens have caught them red-handed. And if they don't back off? Then we are farther down the road to losing the First Amendment than even I am willing to contemplate at this moment.

Thanks to ZenPundit Mark Safranski for alerting me to the attempt to control internet access for members of Congress.

1) Why do Congressional Democrats fear free speech? Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

2) Nancy Pelosi vs. Social Media, Free Speech and Democracy, Mark Safranski, ZenPundit

3) Open House Project (H/T Fantom Planet)
I don't have Trackback. (Let's face it, Pundita is a disaster when it comes to being a proper blog; most of the time my lazy assistant Tiffany even forgets to add keywords.*) And I rarely give an accounting of all blogs that link to one of my posts.

But on this occasion I want to give special thanks to all concerned for making room in their busy schedule to quickly respond to ZenPundit Mark Safranski's request, which I forwarded them, to help publicize moves in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to control how Congress interfaces with the public on the internet.

Thanks to Riehl World View, Gates of Vienna, and Free Mark Steyn! for linking to my post on the topic. And thanks to The Real Barack Obama for cross-posting my entry yesterday.

Thanks also to Hang Right reader Suek and OldCoastie reader at Firedoglake for linking to my post in those blogs' comment section.

Also, thanks to John Batchelor for snatching moments from his very hectic schedule to look into the issue.

If I've missed anyone, my thanks to you!

Also, ZenPundit and The Real Barack Obama have updated their own posts on the topic to include lists of other bloggers who have been writing on the topic.

An important post on the topic is found at a social networking site called Mashable. The comment thread is also illuminating. It's encouraging that Web tecchie sites are taking an interest in the issue.

Clay Shirky, a widely respected pundit/thinker for the Web 2.0 sector, has also weighed in on the topic; on Wednesday he made a comment (see second comment) for the Google Group discussion about The Open House Project. (The project is dedicated to using the internet to bring more transparency to government.)

Shirky answers skeptics who ask how the House Administration Committee could possibly enforce its proposed rules requiring outside websites, such as YouTube, to comply with House regulations before Members of Congress can post videos on them:
Don't make the mistake of assuming an unpoliceable rule is also unenforceable.

They can enforce it the way we enforce parking rules, which is to miss most violations, and then bring on draconian enforcement of enough violations to create a chilling effect. This would also allow the Rules committee to use enforcement as a selectively wielded stick.


YouTube et al threaten to bring openness to the House, and to normalize a channel in which franking privileges create no advantage for incumbents.

In a social environment as tight as the House, the threat of unlikely but serious punishment, for an activity that Members may not be in a hurry to embrace or defend anyway, will be enough to make discussion with constituents out in the open an edge case.
Of course the YouTube "threat" applies to both sides of the political aisle. So anyone who believes that Republicans are making a mountain out of a molehill about the issue is poorly informed.

This is one issue on which all Americans, no matter their political ideology, need to link arms. To reference the Hang Right blog's banner quote of Benjamin Franklin: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."


* Someday I really must find a way to thank Mark Steyn for recommending Tiffany so highly.

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