HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Twitter:
@digby56
@DavidOAtkins

emails:
Digby:
digbysez at gmail
David:
isnospoon at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news

Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
BagNewsNotes
Daily Kos
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Echidne
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
oilprice.com
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist


Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Friday, April 15, 2005

 
Response

I wrote this short little piece for In These Times about the difference between the right and left blogosphere. It is a very superficial sketch of how the two spheres operate differently. It evoked the expected furious response from the usual suspects because I quoted from Garance Franke-Ruta's investigative piece on the right wing blogosphere.

The first thing that seems to bother people is my description of what I believe to be the main difference between the right and the left blogospheres --- which is that the right is a fully engaged part of the Republican party infrastructure while the left is a unique political constituency. But, except for the fact that Republicans are indulging in dirty tricks like the Thune bloggers (and it looks like others coming down the pike) I'm not really making a value judgment about those differences. Indeed, I have my doubts about both systems and wonder if the Democrats wouldn't benefit from a bit more message discipline.

Be that as it may, let me answer some of Mike Krempasky's specific criticisms. First he comments that I have the FEC controversy completely bass ackwards when I say this:

Because of these successes, some progressives believed that the recent efforts by Republican members of the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) to regulate blogs as paid political speech may have been motivated by partisanship. As it turns out, the new proposed FEC rule changes, still subject to public comment, continue to exempt blogs from regulation.

With all of the potential for fundraising, “guerilla activism” and massaging, perhaps neither party wants to unduly inhibit their sector of the blogosphere.


First of all, I was incorrect in my characterization that Republicans wanted to regulate blogs, (although not wrong in stating that liberal bloggers believed that.) What Republicans wanted to do was give the impression that they had to regulate blogs. It is a small but important distinction and I should have been more precise. However, I stand by my assertion that this entire controversy was perceived to have been a partisan move and indeed, I think it was. The Republican commissioners who were so verklempt about the Democrats' failure to appeal the decision are the same Republicans who want to take another bite out of McCain Feingold and this was an opportunity to do that.

The whole thing began with this interview with Republican commissioner Bradley Smith on C-Net called "The Coming Crackdown on Blogging". He claimed that because the Democrats on the panel refused to appeal a judicial ruling that said that the internet had to be addressed under McCain Feingold, the sky was falling. It was a hysterical and overblown interview coming from a guy who does not believe in the FEC to begin with. Via Waldo-Jacquith here's this about our intrepid blogging advocate, commissioner Bradley Smith:

Brad Smith, a law professor at Capital University Law School, has devoted his career to denouncing the FEC and the laws it is entrusted to enforce in precisely those strident terms. He believes that virtually the entire body of the nation's campaign finance law is fundamentally flawed and unworkable "indeed, unconstitutional." He has forcefully advocated deregulation of the system. And, if the James Watt of campaign finance had his way, the FEC, and its state counterparts, would do little more than serve as a file drawer for disclosure reports.

These are not stray and ill-considered comments. Rather, Brad Smith has become the single most aggressive advocate for deregulation of campaign finance in the academy today. Ask any scholar of campaign finance who has spilt the most ink denouncing our current campaign finance laws; the answer will be Brad Smith. Ask any enemy of campaign finance laws to identify the most sought-after witness to make the case to Congress; Brad Smith, will be the top answer.


Now, I have no idea if Bradley Smith truly believes that blogs have an absolute right to free speech. I give him the benefit of the doubt and say he probably does. However, it seems pretty clear to me that his zeal to appeal that lower court's ruling was primarily because he wants to whittle away at McCain-Feingold if he can. There was no reason to assume that you couldn't get where he wanted to go through new regulations or legislation that clarifies the issue.

As for whether the new proposed rules, which are still in the comment stage, specifically exempt blogs, well, I'll leave that to the lawyers. But at the time I wrote this article, the press certainly seemed to think that the proposed rules exempted bloggers. Certain well known right wing blogs also indicated that the situation was not dire.

The Democracy Project wrote this headline:

FEC Draft Rule Looks Good for [Non Corporate] Bloggers


Wizbang wrote:

Today the members of The Online Coalition received the FEC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [PDF - Word], which we're still looking through. The mood is cautiously optimistic.


Election law expert Richard Hazen said:

At first glance, the Federal Election Commission’s draft proposal for regulating Internet-based election activity is good news for the blogosphere.


Professor Bainbridge praised Hazen's analysis.

Eugene Volokh had said earlier:

It would be good to clarify FECA to make clear that Weblogs and online magazines are exempted. But I think that, properly -- even literally -- interpreted, "other periodical publication" already includes blogs (except perhaps ones that publish intermittently and very rarely).


Pardon me for concluding that the proposed rules were not, in fact, going to end blogging as we know it.

To Mike Krempansky, however, they apparently are. And he seems to be making progress in creating an ongoing furor, based partially on a leaked early draft (to him, conveniently)of the proposed rules which are supposed to show the draconian Democratic attempt to have government shut down free speech on the internet. Luckily, the blogging masses, with a heads up from Bradley Smith, came to the rescue of America once again and saved the day. God bless bloggers.

"We are not the speech police," said FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat. "The FEC does not tell private citizens what they can or can't say on the Internet or elsewhere." FEC Commissioner Danny McDonald, another Democrat, said: "I've never seen so much ado about nothing at this stage of the process."

Among bloggers and political commentators, the reaction to the FEC's proposed regulations ... was mixed. Mike Krempasky, a contributor to conservative Web site RedState.org who attended the meeting, said: "Don't believe Ellen Weintraub when she repeats her mantra of 'Bloggers, chill out!'" Krempasky said the draft rules, if finalized, would create a "regulatory minefield" because they give individuals greater leeway than corporations.


I do not quarrel with the fact that there exists a regulatory minefield --- a topic which could not possibly be dealt with in a short 700 word essay. But it is clear that the intent was that the average blogger be exempted from the proposed regulations.

For the record, I'm not in favor of regulating speech on the internet in any way. I'm a free speech absolutist. But I also see the brave new world of right wing "guerilla internet activism" as a very handy way to conduct their patented dirty tricks and funnel big corporate and individual money into campaigns, thus thwarting the McCain Feingold rules. But, it was ever thus. Money is like water in politics. It will always find a way in. The internet is too unknown and growing in too many different directions to know as yet whether it will corrupt the political system more than it enhances it. I say leave it alone and if that means that congress should write a law specifically exempting it, then I'm for it.

As for throwing my lot in with Mike Krempasky, however, I think not. I believe that he is sincere in his work on this issue, but he is a right wing political operative trained by slime-meister Morton Blackwell. He's not just another libertarian, open source internet kinda guy. Somehow, I don't think he has my best interest at heart. Caveat emptor, bloggers.

Oh, and as far as Krempasky's little fit of the giggles that I said Morton Blackwell is finding the blogosphere "useful" I can only link to this web page from Blackwell's "Leadership Institute" that advertises its "Internet Activist School."

Apparently, Krempasky teaches some of these classes:

For example, Krempasky told “a conservative firefighter” that he should write about firefighting because that would be of interest to readers. Using that angle, he could build an audience. And if push ever came to shove, he could respond to an online dogfight from the unassailable position of being a firefighter -- and not as just another conservative ideologue. Krempasky then offered to help all the attendees set up their own blogs.


Call me crazy, but that seems like something that would be "useful" to the Republican Party, which Morton Blackwell has devoted his life and career to advancing. I never said he was a blogger. But he sure as hell is a legendary political operative and I have little doubt that his Leadership Institute is quite "useful" to the cause in many ways.

Again, I am not agitating against all this. But the thrust of my piece was simply that there is nothing like this on the left. There are no operatives running "blog schools" to teach people how to be activists. There is no rich partisan left wing media infrastructure that can pay for bloggers to write books and hit the lecture circuit and live off of nice sincures at think tanks.

Commenters at ITT claimed that Kos and Atrios fit that category, but that is patently not true. Their blog activism long preceded any involvement with the party and their clout today stems from their massive readership and ability to deliver money and votes to the party. They are the leaders of a constituency that operates as a pressure group and a grassroots organizing operation. None of them worked as political operatives before they became bloggers. The blogging came first.

There are some like Yglesias, Drum and others who also write for liberal magazines. But none of them can be guaranteed a book deal or a radio show or a fellowship to support them, because no network exists that trains and supports lefty writers, thinkers and public relations specialists in Democratic politics. It just isn't there.

But hey, I never said we shouldn't have such a thing or that it was wrong to do it. Indeed, I think we should. But that does not change the fact that we don't have it yet. (I do draw the line at dirty tricks schools, though. Not a good way to go.)

I hope, however, that the leftwing netroots maintain their activist independence to at least some extent. It's a valuable source of energy, new ideas and organization. As we are out of power and fighting for our political lives, keeping close contact with the people, even if the netroots are representative of only a small activist faction, is important.

I suspect the right would like to have some of that too which is why guys like Mike Krempasky are teaching conservatives how to be spontaneous grassroots activists. (Their people tend to respond best to direction from authority which is why the churches are so effective.) It's going to take a little bit more work for them to create a vital netroots. But they will probably do it. They take this stuff seriously. Luckily, we are beginning to do the same.



.

Search Digby!