The blogosphere is abuzz with news and rumors about the possible regulation of 'political' blogs by the federal government. John Sample explains why (and how) the damage will occur in a Reason article entitled,"Bloggers Beware: Threats to the status quo are always ripe for 'reform'." [T]he federal government is about to come down hard on bloggers. Here's why. In 2002, Congress passed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law which restricted political advertising by corporations and labor unions on television and radio. The Federal Election Commission -- the agency charged with implementing McCain-Feingold -- initially decided that Congress had not intended to restrict political speech on the Internet. Last fall, a federal judge said exempting the Internet from the law's restrictions on political speech would undermine McCain-Feingold. Now the FEC is back at it trying to figure out how to restrict political speech on the Internet. The McCain-Feingold Act was allegedly intended to prevent 'big money' and influence peddling in federal politics but in contained some particularly objectionable provisions that limited freedom of speech. For example, ads against opponents could not appear within a specified number of days from a primary or general election.
Now Bradley Smith, one of six FEC Commissioners, is trying to extend the Act to cover political bloggers. Recognition of the threat first emerged through an article by the incomparable freedom-of-speech advocate Declan McCullagh, whose March 3rd C/Net column"The coming crackdown on blogging" announced"Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over." A rather chilling interview with Smith follows in which Smith's answers are...informative in the terrifying sense of that word. For example, McCullagh asks, If Congress doesn't change the law [to exempt the internet], what kind of activities will the FEC have to target? Smith answers, We're talking about any decision by an individual to put a link (to a political candidate) on their home page, set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet. Again, blogging could also get us into issues about online journals and non-online journals. Why should CNET get an exemption but not an informal blog? Why should Salon or Slate get an exemption? Should Nytimes.com and Opinionjournal.com get an exemption but not online sites, just because the newspapers have a print edition as well? Smith has warned that"bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines."
A likely target and test case for regulation would be the immensely popular and influential DailyKos collective blog that operates almost as a branch of the Democratic Party. Last week the Weekly Standard ran an article on DailyKos, which was entitled"Kos Party: Is the Daily Kos infiltrating the Democratic party, or remaking it in their own image?" A dangerous question to ask aloud in this political atmosphere.
Meanwhile the San Francisco Chronicle reports on a disturbing development in Santa Clara. The article fron yesterday's SFC:"Bay judge weighs rights of bloggers: Journalists' shield claimed in response to Apple's lawsuit." It states,"Bloggers may be pushing the boundaries of online communication, breaking news and waylaying politicians and corporate executives, but are they journalists? A Santa Clara County judge is weighing that question this week, as are plenty of other bloggers, journalists and lawyers. Apple Computer has sued three bloggers ... in an attempt to uncover anonymous sources who may have illegally leaked some of Apple's internal trade secrets. Traditional journalists confronted with similar demands to reveal sources could rely on California's Shield Law, which protects reporters from having to reveal unpublished information, which in many cases includes the name of the source. Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg issued a tentative ruling last week that the bloggers who reported about Apple don't deserve the same protection. Kleinberg's final decision is due this week."
There may be rocky roads ahead. Keep informed. Stay rebellious. Stand free.
For more commentary, see McBlog
I was originally drawn to the book because I knew little of Paterson compared to other figures within the individualist feminist/libertarian movement of the Progressive Era through to WWII. Sadly, Paterson has remained undeserved obscure and known primarily for the classic"God Of The Machine." The reason? At least partly because she needed a concerted scholar who was willing to read volumes of (perhaps) antiquated novels to sort through their characterizations and themes for patterns. But much more than this, it was necessary to plough through an ocean of old newsprint which concealed the columns where Paterson's unfiltered voice spoke and where her opinions were concealed. Admittedly, the extraordinarily long-lived, influential column on literary news and criticism that she wrote for the Herald Tribune is probably now available on microfiche or microfilm. But is that an improvement for the scholar's eyesight or enjoyment? (I remember many evenings when I had to back away from researching Benjamin Tucker simply because reading Liberty on microfiche was too visually taxing.) Fortunately, Cox did the hard and thankless work to make this woman emerge.
The book is also remarkable because the biographer is uniquely suited to understand the subject matter; that is to say, Paterson required a biographer with an intimate knowledge not merely of radical individualism but also of literary principles/history. The portrait of Paterson as a literary critic and theorist is the real gift to me. Although the book does not yet use the phrase"art for art's sake" -- I am only 1/2 way through -- Paterson seems to be a fellow traveller if not an outright advocate of an aesthetic tradition that I've always found compelling: art for art's sake.
As I read"The Woman and the Dynamo", I continue to ponder a question that has haunted me for years. Why did and does the libertarian movement -- or radical individualism in general -- not celebrate and embrace its fiction writers in the same manner the Left did. Upton Sinclair, Lillian Hellman, Max Eastman, John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis...these writers and many more on the Left had a dramatic impact on the culture and politics of their day and -- at least from an historical distance -- they seem to have been treated as intellectuals on the same level as university professors, policy analysts, political aspirants/agitators, and such. It cannot be because libertarians are unaware of the power of novels; so many of us were inspired toward radical individualism by the novels of Ayn Rand who remains almost the sole exception to the movement's neglect of fiction writers. The many other fine writers in our tradition have been given little recognition by the movement proper; even those who have achieved high success in their own fields, as Heinlein has achieved fame in SF, do not receive anything but a passing nod and sometimes a snicker from those who say they wish to spread libertarian ideas. Have we become elitist?
Over the years, I have evolved several answers, some or all of which may be true depending on the circumstances involved. But, with reference to Paterson, the question arises in the form: has this women been ignored by libertarian history partly because so much of her legacy is fiction and literary criticism/theory? Frankly, I don't know.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
I trust a similarly sane motive underlies what otherwise is utter madness on the part of WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah who advocates the conquest of Mexico in today's edition of WND.
He writes,"A top-ranking Mexican official last week virtually declared war on the United States. Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said in a radio interview that an international strategy would be used if other attempts to reverse Arizona's Proposition 200 fail. In other words, the equivalent of the U.S. secretary of state is advocating meddling in the internal affairs not only of our country, but one of our 50 independent, sovereign states."
(Prop. 200 went into effect last week. Among other things, it denies most taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens and requires those who wrongly apply for such benefits to be reported to officials.)
Farah's subsequent logic may be correct: if it is proper for the US to jump an Ocean to bring"democracy" to Iraq and greater security to the America, then why it is wrong to truck a few miles southward to accomplish the same goals? If you buy the premise, you've bought the package. But the premises are drek. And the hypocritical chutzpah of his complaining about one nation bringing"international power to bear" on another is astounding.
I strongly dislike the"international tribunals" to which Derbez is"threatening" to appeal Prop. 200 but the correct response is for members to withdraw and for the world in general to treat the tribunals with contemptuous disregard.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
When added together with the following report of non-existent or broken cameras that are supposed to be monitoring the US-Canada border, the folly of attempting to control the longest border in the world becomes clear. All the more so, as much of the terrain from Pacific to Atlantic is virtually uninhabited. That's 6416 kilometres (2878 kilometres - land, 3538 kilometres - water; or, 3987 miles (4631 miles - land, 2199 miles - water). Stats and info on the various border areas are here. For more commentary, please see McBlog.
Also Rose Mary Woods, ex-President Nixon's secretary, has died. Woods infamously erased 18-minutes worth of conversation from key White House tapes subpoenaed by the Senate on the Watergate scandal. By accident (as she claimed) or through loyalty to Nixon (as critics allege)? The answer to that query and to what was in the erased gap has died with Woods. I wonder if anyone attempted to interview Woods before her death? The blogspot Scylla & Charybdis provides interesting commentary.
For more commentary from McElroy, please see McBlog.
Please allow me to extend thanks on behalf of Joan, as well. I have not been contacting her about the matter because of the poor state of her health and my desire not to upset her unduly. Your substitution for the term Lavendar Menace means that no upsetting news is likely to reach her about our exchange. For that, I am also grateful.
Your colleague, Wendy McElroy
Long explains,"The phrase ["lavender-menacing"] is explictly introduced in our paper to pick out the rhetorical strategy of"[dividing] the feminist world ... into the 'reasonable' (that is, unthreatening) feminists and the feminists who are 'hysterical' or 'man-hating' (so, presumably, not worthy of rational response)." This strategy we chose to call, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the"Lavender Menace" approach. We also said explicitly that McElroy and Taylor show" considerably more understanding of, and sympathy with, classical feminist concerns than the anti-feminists who employ this strategy" -- in other words, we were not atempting to lump them in with anti-feminists or lesbian-baiters?"
Nevertheless, the essay goes on to repeatedly make such statements as,"In her more recent writings, McElroy seems to have grown more committed and more wide-reaching in her use of Lavender Menace politics." Similar statements are made of Joan Kennedy Taylor's work. The clear message is that Joan and I are homophobic and that a key to our work is to view it as an expression of homophobia as a reaction to the Lavender Menace. I have already pointed out this utterly false and the opposite of what is true. Both Joan and I have argued consistently over decades for the toleration of all adult sexual choices.
As Johnson states in his response to my HNN post, the origin of the term"Lavendar Menace" is"Betty Friedan's attack on...lesbianism within the movement." The term now has an established meaning within feminism as an aggressively homophobic reaction to lesbians or gays in general. To use it in a manner that differs from its established usage is like calling Joan and I"anti-semites" then adding"but we don't mean they are anti-Jewish."
If Long and Johnson do not consider the homophobia message to be accurate -- and I appreciate both of them saying it is not -- then the error can be corrected as they would any other inaccuracy in an essay. The references with regard to Joan and to me on this point can be changed, especially in the online version or an unpublished one. Or, better yet, you can substitute a term without an established meaning that does not run counter to what you are trying to express about Joan and me.
The"solution" of putting a footnote that"takes back" the homophobic accusations in the text is not a solution at all. For several reasons, including... First, the text is what will be quoted and excerpted, almost certainly without the footnotes. The reputations of Long and Johnson will continue to be put behind the argument to the world that Joan and I are homophobes. Second, many readers do not refer to the footnotes. Third, the situation is similar to a newspaper announcing a crime in front page headlines and, then, issuing a retraction at the bottom of page 12. Fourth, the stain of the established meaning will certainly wipe off anyway and dirty the reputations of Joan and me. Fifth, if the footnote's purpose is to contradict the text, why not just change the text?
For those outside feminism, this may seem to be a tempest in teapot. You should understand that the accusation of homophobia within feminism if believed can severely damage careers and literally ruin reputations. A parallel situation would be if the accusation of anti-semitism were hurled at a journalist writing on the Middle East.
As I said, I do not know how to react because I do not know what will happen next. If Long and Johnson apologize on this small, comparatively private/obscure forum yet continue to publish the same accusations about Joan and me to the wider world...then I don't consider it a closed matter.
First, from conservative columnist Michele Malkin, a piece entitled"this Column is Not For Sale." As Malkin states,"There are no shades of gray about this, friends: the Bush Education Department subsidized a prominent minority conservative `journalist' with federal taxpayer dollars to sell black parents on the Teddy Kennedy-inspired No Child Left Behind boondoggle -- a program that represents the largest single expansion in federal education spending since Jimmy Carter created the Education Department." Point of correction: Williams is a commentator, not a journalist. But Malkin's main thrust is correct: Williams has cast a shadow on every conservative media person and, arguably, upon media people in general.
Second, after being dropped by syndicate Tribune Media Services, various papers have also dropped the now self-syndicating Williams.
And, then, there are inappropriate responses: for example, from the White House. This from Blue Lemur,"Armstrong Williams, the columnist paid $240,000 by the Bush Administration to surreptitiously promote Bush's"No Child Left Behind Law" remained listed on the White House website as a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships as late as Wednesday, RAW STORY has learned."
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
The statement has been poorly received. For one thing, why is a foreign ambassador announcing to the press what Canadian military policy will be? Especially when the Canadian PM continues to declare to all-and-sundry within hearing range that no decision has been reached? Martin rushed to inform reporters,"No such assurances were given."
It is a particularly sticky issue as Martin promised in his Oct. 5 Throne Speech to open Parliament to debate on the issue before signing on with the States. No such debate has occurred.
Canadian politics is a complex balancing act with at least four players who must constantly watch each other for reactions. The Liberals under Martin are in power but they constitute a minority government, which must look to Quebec for support or risk losing office. The Conservatives generally back the anti-missile defense system but they are bristling at not being consulted...indeed, at not even being shown the terms of an agreement into which Canada has -- perhaps -- already entered. The New Democratic Party (more left than the liberals) is adamantly opposed to the program as is the Bloc Quebecois and most of Quebec itself.
Nevertheless, sneaking the anti-missile program past Parliament at the last minute would probably have worked since the Conservatives would not have blocked it, and they're the only ones with sufficient numbers to act as a brick wall if they joined with other factions. But the prospect of easy, sneaky passage has been rendered more difficult by Celluci's statements. First, everyone is irritated at the US announcing Canadian foreign policy. Second, everyone is suspicious of Martin and his motives. Third, even politicians who agree with the plan are enraged at being kept in ignorance about it.
What on earth was Celluci thinking of? If there is/was a covert deal sliding through, then he's doing the best he can to jeopardize it.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
The breaking news from Bloomberg: "Viacom Inc.'s CBS said it fired four employees for a September report by news anchor Dan Rather questioning President George W. Bush's National Guard Service, according to a statement issued on the network's Web site. CBS senior vice president Betsy West, `60 Minutes' executive producer Josh Howard and his deputy, Mary Murphy, were asked to resign along with the producer of the story, Mary Mapes." As an immediate reaction: 1) the word"scapegoat" comes to mind; 2) will anyone ever again discuss the significant question of where Bush actual was during his '72 National Guard stint?; and, 3) this is a prelude to and part of the spin being placed on the much-awaited release of the MemoGate Report (the `independent' investigation into the scandal), which I expect shortly. On his Sunday show, Matt Drudge announced [audio file] that it should be released later today, complete with news of Dan Rather's replacement.
Of course, the CBS spin has been building for a while. The media watchdog site RatherBiased reports, "CBS Hires Liberal Activist to Spin Memogate Report. In the first public move indicating that the network is going to be releasing the report from the `independent' investigation, the network re-hired--according to TV Barn--one of its professional spinmeisters, Donna Dees. But CBS wouldn't be CBS if it were just any pr flack. This Donna Dees is the same woman who organized the anti-gun Million Mom March [MMM] rally in 2000 and was the sister-in-law of a Hillary Clinton advisor, who also organized the event. This comrade-in-no-arms of Rosie O'Donnell, says CBS, `will join our press office next Monday, Jan. 10, as senior press representative responsible for the CBS EVENING NEWS, the CBS EVENING NEWS weekend editions and FACE THE NATION."
When CBS reported on the MMM in 2000, it did not disclose that the event's head organizer had worked for CBS for the past six years. The network is carefully disclosing everything this time probably because - with so many spotlights shining - it can't get away with much.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.