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  • Nancy Pelosi vs. the Internet

    Posted by Zenpundit on July 8th, 2008 (All posts by )

    Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who would like very much to reimpose the old, so-called, “Fairness Doctrine” that once censored conservative opinion on television and radio broadcasting, is scheming 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.

    This was first reported to me by Congressman John Culberson (R-Tx) and I asked for approval to cite him and for any media links to this story. He provided the following link of regulations proposed by the Chair of the Congressional Commission on Mailing Standards (PDF) Congressman Michael Capuano (D-Mass) that was sent to Rep. Robert Brady, Chairman of the House Committee for Administration. The net effect of the regs would be to make it practically impossible for members of Congress to use social media tools to discuss official business or share video of the same with the public while creating a partisan disparity in what little approved messages might be permitted. It would be a very considerable error to assume that the House leadership intends to let dissenting Democratic members post any more freely than Republicans.

    Set aside the nakedly partisan aspect of this plan for a moment – on the technological merits alone this may be the goddamn dumbest thing I’ve heard of regarding the Internet coming out of Congress in a long, long time. The dinosaurs who are uncomfortable with computers, the unwashed masses being aware of their actions and free political debate want to turn the clock back to the 1970s. Except during the 1970s no one would have dared to propose controlling what a democratically elected member of Congress could say to their constituents. Doesn’t it register in the Beltway that they are talking about public information that already belongs to the people of the United States? Senators and Congressmen should be interacting with citizens more freely, not less; the U.S. Congress needs radical transparency not greater opacity imposed by the Democratic House leadership to better hide shady dealings

    It’s a brazenly Orwellian and most likely unconstitutional power grab by the Speaker of the House unlike anything dreamed of by any previous speaker – not Sam Rayburn, not Joseph Cannon. Nobody.

    Nancy Pelosi has finally arrived at a historical pinnacle – as an enemy of free speech and the public’s right to know.

    UPDATE:

    Given that I was somewhat intemperate in tone in my post and many questions were raised by the other side regarding the document, I’m highlighting my reply to those commenters who felt aggrieved:

    Briefly:

    1. The old rules were indeed worse than the new proposed changes. They were also not enforced and most members of the House posted as they pleased, much like the rest of us.

    2. Putting new, modestly less restrictive rules in place and actively enforcing them results in a de facto large increase in the level of restrictiveness to access social media.

    3. What larger public good is served by either the old or the proposed new rules?

    4. The complexity of this elaborate gatekeeping system is rife for partisan abuse and selective enforcement that would have a chilling effect on members of Congress using social media. If you think Pelosi is a saint then imagine the system in the hands of Tom DeLay. The pre-publication review is itself a significant barrier to access given the limited time Congressmen have in very busy schedules

    5. The rules that seem “reasonable” regarding content and external sites are subjective and are to be interpreted by the majority at the minority’s expense. Again, consider the shoe on the other foot.

    6. Changes in the rules of the House of Representatives are done only in close consultation with the Speaker, who appoints the committee chairmen, and the the majority leader and whip. The chance of Nancy Pelosi not being at the table here is about zero. That the issue is being pressed on the Senate side as well indicates that this is a coordinated leadership agenda and not minor tidying up by members themselves.

     

    99 Responses to “Nancy Pelosi vs. the Internet”

    1. Smitten Eagle Says:

      Good work uncovering this, Mark.

    2. fred lapides Says:

      i have read the PDF and it seems merely to update existing regulation because of new technologies and, that being the case,I am unsure why you call the Dems ol;d timers who know-nothing etc when in fact the Dems seem very adept in the current campaign in using the Net for political money raising.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      A dumb plan indeed. Let’s see how long it withstands public scrutiny.

    4. Zenpundit Says:

      No Fred, this would be prior restraint, violation of which would mean a possible charge before the Ethics Committee, in order to stop members from disseminating information that is already in the public domain. And would give the Congress the right to designate “qualifying” sites to receive such information – something akin to the Congress deciding to license “qualifying” newspapers.

      How exactly does a Congressman on Youtube come under the authority of the committee that deals with the use of franking ? It’s like saying they should also control his cell phone.

    5. deichmans Says:

      Careful, Zen, you might be giving Capuano more ideas… :-)

    6. Gina Says:

      Interesting. First, Jim McGovern (D, MA) is Pelosi’s go-between with FARC in Columbia. Now Mike Capuano (D, MA) is fronting her attack on free speech. What does Pelosi have on MA? Are they circling around Ted?

    7. Brian Says:

      I would imagine that resistance to this will be strong on both sides of the aisle so no worries on this particular initiative.

      However, this is just another example of the brazen power-grabs that we can expect should the Dems be granted carte blanche in the form of control of the White House and a solid majority in both houses of Congress.

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      I miss the good old days of my childhood when the pre-boomer leftist would rather be burned alive than see the worst of speech suppressed. Perhaps I’m romanticizing from childhood memories but the pre-68 American left was a different breed.

    9. Vince Says:

      The emotions this woman conjures in me are not healthy

    10. Smitten Eagle Says:

      “I miss the good old days of my childhood when the pre-boomer leftist would rather be burned alive than see the worst of speech suppressed. ”

      Indeed. TV-broadcasted filth is protected speech. But if it has to do with politics, well, then it’s subject to restriction (whether it’s McCain-Feingold, the Fairness Doctrine, or this crud that Zen dug up).

      The is precisely the opposite effect that the First Amendment was supposed to have.

    11. david foster Says:

      “Perhaps I’m romanticizing from childhood memories but the pre-68 American left was a different breed”…indeed, it’s hard to imagine civilized people like Orwell or Koestler (both socialists) wanting much to do with the present-day Left.

    12. Lexington Green Says:

      The old, pre-1968 Left were in fact a species of liberals. Socialistic liberals, yes, but still adhering to some kind of Enlightenment-derived liberalism. They were beaten on all fronts after 1968 by the New Left, which took over the Democratic Party in 1972, and has taken over the universities and much of the rest of American life. These people are not liberals in any sense. They are radicals who believe in power and not in freedom. Freedom, to them, is a mirage, a bogus term used to justify power relationships. The New Left do not believe in reason as the basis of policy, including public argument, since power shapes consciousness and arguments and logic are irrelevant and only power relationships matter.

      The Left as it is today is the successor to the old liberalism of FDR, Truman, Kennedy, etc., the “skinny tie” New Frontiersmen who got us into Vietnam and the Great Society, then were driven from power forever.

    13. Lunkwill_FOok Says:

      Ummmm…. people need to learn to read. The above poster was correct. The rules that you people are laughing about have already been in place. All this letter suggests is a method to follow those rules yet host large files (like video) offsite.

      But, whatever. Liberals are evil, etc, etc.

    14. Geoff Says:

      I think you need to read the PDF again. It doesn’t at all say what you are claiming. In fact, it specifically says….

      “Please note that nothing in these recomendations should be construed as a recommendation to change the current House rules and regulations governing the content of official communication.”

      They’re not trying to censor speech. In essence the document says Congressman really like posting videos, but the house.gov servers don’t have enough space to host them all, so we should approve some external sites for doing that, like other branches of govt do. But there should be some rules around which sites are allowed to be used to make sure Congressman don’t put their videos on sites they will later regret using. (Notice nothing here about content.)

      The rules are, to paraphrase:
      1. Make sure the video clearly states it is official Congress content
      2. Don’t put the video on a site whose content doesn’t comply with existing guidelines.
      3. Any link from house.gov site to an external site should make it clear they are leaving the house.gov site
      4. CHA should maintain the list of external sites that meet these requirements.

      Seems pretty reasonable to me.

    15. Anonymous Says:

      There is absolutely nothing in that correspondence about censorship.

    16. Harooo Says:

      The proposed regulations have to do with updating the rules about making official House of Representatives material available through non-House outlets, like providing video. Any Congressman can twitter on his BlackBerry all day long from his seat in the chamber, and these rules have no effect on that.

      Get it? It governs official House communications, not the communications of individual Congresscritters.

      Loosen the tinfoil next time and reread your sources.

    17. Anonymous Says:

      I’m sorry, did you actually read the regulation? This specifically allows people to post their youtube videos to their official sites. This is standard, and good.

    18. Kit Gerrits Says:

      IANAA(merican) and it’s been a decade sinde I studied political science in the US, but:
      Isn’t an elected official of the government supposed to stick to the party line?

      The moment you work for the government, whatever you say should reflect the official stance of the government.
      The only thing this bill does is make sure that Government Officials don’t make an *ss out of themselves or their party.

      Have you ever tried running a student board, or sports club, or even raising a child?
      One person can weaken the power of the entire governing body by going against the ‘party line’.

    19. Hellsbane Says:

      I say, give them all the rope they want. Lets relive the hayday of the Carter years all over again. In the end, we will get another Reagan…… and hopefully another Congress lead by someone like Gingrich at the same time.

    20. Chris_thecarguy Says:

      I must agree with anon here–I see nothing pertaining to censorship in that document, at least beyond what is already in place. The only censorship that could take place is the CHA determining what sites are allowed to carry official house content–and if they’re at all honest about it, at all vaguely intelligent about it, they’ll know they can’t go to an obviously liberal site.

      As far as I can tell, this correspondence is nothing more than a simple discussion of which external sites (such as youtube) would be allowed to host embeddable video content for the use of members of congress. The guidelines seem to be strict, but that is simply what this document is–a call that the guidelines used to determine which sites are allowed to host content be no different than those already in place for official House publications. I’m sure the reasoning behind this is that they don’t want political or endorsement ads running with those same publications–that would look bad to -anyone-.

    21. chrismurf Says:

      Your title and post are inaccurate and misleading based upon the content of that PDF. Having read the PDF in its entirety, the memo is first and foremost a set of /recommendations/. Secondly, it doesn’t mention or involve Nancy Pelosi in any direct way. Thirdly, it is about /expanding/ capabilities, not limiting. Currently the memo indicates it is a violation of (longstanding) regulations to post official content “outside of the house.gov domain”. The memo is discussing ways that members of Congress could use outside sites to host content that is displayed on House websites. Namely, it should be clear that the content is being officially posted (using taxpayer’s time and money) by a congressperson as part of their job.

      So – RTFM. This is about allowing house members to put YouTube videos and other forms of modern media on their webspace, while still maintaining clear distinctions about what is official communication and therefore subject to regulation. You should also note that these regulations are not about “keeping the truth from getting out”, but designed to (e.g.) help the public distinguish between when a Representative is representing, when they are campaigning, and when they’re just acting like a normal Joe with a blog.

    22. Anonymous Says:

      What a silly blog – there is no censorship proposed and nothing stopping any member from blogging or being quoted anywhere else. Take off your tin foil hats people.

    23. databyss Says:

      This is about fear mongering lies against the “left” and “liberals”.

      Don’t interrupt the illiterate with all this “facts” and “reason” and “logic” about how this regulation is nothing important.

      I’m gonna go back to watching and laughing.

      Commence craziness, crazy “conservatives”.

    24. Rainmac Says:

      Yes, it’s important for the right wingnuts to keep chasing any excuse to hate the lefties, no matter how lame and inconsequential. So now that this rant has been quashed, they’ll keep looking for the next liberal ‘controversy’. What they won’t do is consider that the very issue they object to here, censorship, is much more of a problem in the current Executive Branch.

      http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Bush_administration_fetish_for_government_secrecy

      because we must adhere to our rich fantasy life and scrupulously avoid confronting facts.

    25. Lefty-Lefterson Says:

      Ha!

      The author of the blog is apparently a factually-challenged right-wing nutjob whose reading comprehension places him or her at, generously, a 2nd grade reading level.

      Firstly, anyone who actually contends that the Fairness Doctrine targeted conservative viewpoints is so mindnumbingly stupid that it defies belief they have the opposable thumbs to actually type a blog. The Fairness Doctrine applied to both liberal and conservative viewpoints, and anyone who says differently is a liar.

      Secondly, even a cursory review of the letter disproves the blogger’s rant. The letter itself states that the recommendations do not change any of the rules governing members of congress in their official communications.

      Why do right-wing bloggers tend to be so stupid? I mean, stupidity isn’t restricted to any one side of the ideological spectrum, but for some reason on the internet the right-wing fruitcakes like the blogger in question exhibit such profound stupidity that it makes you wonder how they function in day-to-day life. I mean, you’d think their mental deficiency would result in them blowing themselves up or poisoning themselves, or getting run over by a train or something.

    26. thebestsophist Says:

      This post is terribly disingenuous to what is actually going on. Official government publications, and correspondences (in this case video clips) can not be published along with any commercial materials, because to do so could be considered a de facto endorsement of the commercial. So a congressperson posting a floor statement on youtube could be (legally) construed as endorsing whatever ads are on the page.

    27. Jim Says:

      I’m not seeing any form of censorship in that PDF letter. In fact, it looks as though they’re looking for an “official” external medium to make it easier to post official content to their own websites at house.gov. It seems as though it’s only meant for official content and not whatever the hell they want to say.

    28. James Says:

      Wow, the blog posters have missed the point to a spectacular degree. Let me summarize it:

      Currently, Official communications from House members to the public have to be on the house.gov web site. Each member gets his own section of that site, of which he or she controls the contents.

      The House web servers are overwhelmed and underequipped to handle new technologies such as video, while external sites such as Google/Youtube and Yahoo are equipped to provide such hosting services.

      This letter recommends allowing congressmen to use such sites, which they are not presently allowed to, for official communications.

      This has nothing to do with campaign or office web sites or social networks. If a congressman wants a facebook account, that has nothing to do with this. If he wants to comment on a Blog, that has nothing to do with this.

      What I don’t grasp is where censorship or Nancy Pelosi come into this.

    29. Bignurse Says:

      The original poster needs to stop frothing at the mouth and RTFA when he is not high on rightwing KoolAid. Basically, House Members find current tools for dealing with video to be hard to use, so now a Congressman is offering guidelines for those who want to post on sites outside of House.gov. Big fckg deal.

    30. Peter Says:

      As others have mentioned, the document you link to does not support your post.

      But of course, you aren’t lying and deliberately trying to spread mis-information.

      Of course not.

    31. Anonymous Says:

      more rethuglican bullshit. house rules ALREADY and long have prohibited Official Business being posted anywhere but on the house.gov site. These new rules would OPEN UP other possibilities. Official Business is NOT communication with their constituents. They can communicate however they like, Official Business being limited to house.gov sites has been LONG established and if the rethugs don’t like it they could have changed it while they were SO LONG in complete control.

    32. Anonymous Says:

      This article is total crap, which is just about all I get from my party these days. *sigh* Remember when we used to be *real* conservatives? The good guys, who were honest and reliable? What happened to our party? When did we start spewing so much propaganda? It’s because of f@#! ups like you that the Democrats have started looking like the good guys.

      I was hoping now that Bush was a lame duck, this kind of thing would be toned down a little bit.

    33. James F. Says:

      Let me guess. The people that want this are the people that also think Linux is a way of life… An operating system is a tool people!

    34. zenpundit Says:

      Transient but angry liberal commenters,

      Briefly:

      1. The old rules were indeed worse than the new proposed changes. They were also not enforced and most members of the House posted as they pleased, much like the rest of us.

      2. Putting new, modestly less restrictive rules in place and actively enforcing them results in a de facto large increase in the level of restrictiveness to access social media.

      3. What larger public good is served by either the old or the proposed new rules?

      4. The complexity of this elaborate gatekeeping system is rife for partisan abuse and selective enforcement that would have a chilling effect on members of Congress using social media. If you think Pelosi is a saint then imagine the system in the hands of Tom DeLay. The pre-publication review is itself a significant barrier to access given the limited time Congressmen have in very busy schedules

      5. The rules that seem “reasonable” regarding content and external sites are subjective and are to be interpreted by the majority at the minority’s expense. Again, consider the shoe on the other foot.

      6. Changes in the rules of the House of Representatives are done only in close consultation with the Speaker, who appoints the committee chairmen, and the the majority leader and whip. The chance of Nancy Pelosi not being at the table here is about zero. That the issue is being pressed on the Senate side as well indicates that this is a coordinated leadership agenda and not minor tidying up by members themselves.

    35. Lexington Green Says:

      Zen, good riposte.

      Calm, logical, respectful, far above what this lot deserve in response.

      It will have zero impact on this strange baying pack that wandered in here.

    36. Miki Ellis Says:

      Are you sure it was an actual pack and not just Fred?

    37. zenpundit Says:

      LOL! I like Fred.

    38. comt Says:

      are you crazy? This is nothing at all like what this post says. Why must you lie? Thinking people won’t actually research themselves?

    39. Ross Presser Says:

      I see. And all the censoring the Bush administration has done about actual facts — censoring scientific reports that don’t support the party line — is … what?

      Conservative nutjobs seem to have learned groupthink very well indeed…

    40. Lexington Green Says:

      “…all the censoring the Bush administration has done …”

      So, (1) there is no censorship at issue, so this is a rightwing smear campaign, but (2) Bush did (supposedly) all kinds of censorship so … what, exactly? That would then make it OK for the Dems to censor the GOP? But that would contradict (1)?

      Lefty nutjobs seemed to have learned coherent argument very poorly indeed?

    41. zenpundit Says:

      Various commenters using ad hominem and tu quoque fallacies:

      The minority leadership of the house and at least one Democratic member feel that these new rules proposed in the .doc are going to adversely impact their normal use of online social media in their capacity as elected representatives. As a result, and I agree with them, they are raising this issue in order to push the majority to reconsider the approach.

      What need is there really for a complex process here for technology that is used everyday by kids in high school ? Why should, say, Rep. Dennis Kucinich have to clear anything he might want to put up on The DailyKOS or youtube ?

    42. Steve Says:

      Zenpundit,

      Those draconian rules you are referring to are included below.

      The real issue with using youtube has to do with allowing commercial content to be mixed with Official Content. See Content e) below. In addition I believe that these rules pertain to what expenses a Congressman and their office can be re-embersed for. This implies that if they are willing to pay for distribution out of their own pocket that the rules do not apply.

      This has little to nothing to do with Pelosi and a lot to do with technology moving faster then congress. There is no requirement that all publication all speech has to be pre approved by the ranking democrats. The question is of where official documents can be published. Currently that shouldn’t be published on sites that have commercial content. Anyone who wan’ts to set up a site where pages open to

      Specifically the HCA rules on electronic communication can be found in their handbook
      http://cha.house.gov/committee_handbook.aspx#electroniccommunications

      Web Site Regulations

      General

      Web sites are a series of centrally maintained Web pages, accessible to the public via the Internet and stored on a specific host paid for with official funds. The home page is the first accessible page for that site.

      1. Ordinary and necessary expenses associated with the creation and continued operation of Web sites in support of official committee business are reimbursable.
      2. The minority and subcommittees shall be entitled to a separate page that is linked to and accessible only from the committee’s Web page. For any Web pages created under this policy, the Chair (committee or subcommittee) or Ranking Minority Member (committee or subcommittee) responsible for its content must be identified on the introductory page.
      3. Web sites must be located in the HOUSE.GOV host-domain and may be maintained either by House Information Resources (HIR), the committee office, or a private vendor.
      4. Committee Web sites may link to Member Web sites, but Member Web sites may not be located on Web sites paid for by committee funds.
      5. HIR will display an exit notice stating that users are leaving the House of Representatives, prior to linking to a non-House of Representatives Web site. The exit notice will include a disclaimer that neither the committee nor the House is responsible for the content of linked sites. Committees maintaining their sites on the Public web server are required to incorporate the exit notice into their external links.

      Content

      The content of a committee Web site may not:
      a. Include personal, political, or campaign information.
      b. Be directly linked or refer to Web sites created or operated by campaign or any campaign related entity, including political parties and campaign committees.
      c. Include grassroots lobbying or solicit support for a Member’s position.
      d. Generate, circulate, solicit or encourage signing petitions.
      e. Include any advertisement for any private individual, firm, or corporation, or imply in any manner that the Government endorses or favors any specific commercial product, commodity, or service.

      Name (URL)

      1. The URL name for an official Web site located in the HOUSE.GOV domain must be recognizably derivative or representative of the name of the committee.
      2. The URL name may not be a slogan or imply in any manner that the House endorses or favors any specific commercial product, commodity, or service.

      Security

      1. All House systems and devices with connections to the Internet must comply with network and security guidelines of the Committee on House Administration. These guidelines include the following:
      a. Offices must send a written request for access to Internet services to HIR. Technical requirements will be provided to each office by HIR.
      b. All users authorized access to the Internet must have unique identifiers and password security.
      c. Users must immediately report any unauthorized access or unusual system activities to HIR Security Office (x66448). HIR will investigate any breaches of the Internet security system.
      d. Internet access will be installed only after determination by HIR that anti-virus software has been installed on the committee’s computer system.
      2. Users with current anti-virus software provided by the House installed on in-office computers may download software, patches, and fixes. Users are responsible for complying with legal or contractual requirements from the owners of the software at least every six months.

    43. Peter Says:

      Zenpundit,

      Briefly:

      1. Nobody in their right minds thinks that Pelosi is a Saint. Considering her stance on the recently passed FISA bill, she’s probably more popular among Republicans than a large number of Democrats these days.

      2. In your “calm, logical, respectful” response, you don’t offer any evidence from your primary source that your post is even close to describing what the letter contains.

      3. You state that

      but there is absolutely nothing in Capuano’s letter that indicates this. If I’m missing some salient language in the original document, please point it out to me (and all the others who seem to have read a completely different document from the one you have read).

      4. You might want to read Geoff’s earlier comment that paraphrases Capuno’s recommendations, he makes them a bit less “complicated.”

      5. Then again, you can keep stating and re-stating erroneous information. I hear if you do that over and over and over again, it will magically turn into the TRUTH.

    44. Peter Says:

      Apologies for the html mistake. Obviously, my points 4 & 5 are not meant to be Zenpundit quotes.

    45. Anonymous Says:

      We see here the difference between journalism and blogging. Even ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine has fact checkers. Zenpundit just called an otherwise upstanding member of the community an enemy of free speech and accountable government. Serious charges indeed. Was there evidence to back this up? No, not really. Heaven help us if bloggers ever do become considered legitimate sources of information.

    46. phil Says:

      Lex & Zen
      “Zen, good riposte.Calm, logical, respectful, far above what this lot deserve in response.It will have zero impact on this strange baying pack that wandered in here”

      “Various commenters using ad hominem and tu quoque fallacies”

      This is true, but irrelevant because this is not about logic and its fallacies. This is political warfare and all these comments are just rhetorical tactics. Don’t approach this as if you’re are having a legitimate academic debate because that is not what this is. In political warfare there are no points for being respectful, logical and above what they deserve. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is. It took me a long time to realize that but eventually I resigned myself to it. These people are the progeny of Gramsci, Munzenberg, Alinsky, and Lakoff. This is actually an opportunity for learning. Let’s say you were writing a paper on the “art of political warfare” and you had printed these comments out as part of your research. What lessons could you learn from them?

    47. Jonathan Says:

      Zenpundit just called an otherwise upstanding member of the community an enemy of free speech and accountable government.

      Nancy? Is that you?

    48. Peter Says:

      Phil:

      Shouldn’t all of us be referring to the document that Zenripost is using as a source? Is it really unreasonable to call into question his conclusions if the source document doesn’t support them?

    49. Peter Says:

      Sorry – it’s been a long day and now I’m calling Zenpundit by the wrong name. I think it’s time for me to own up to my mistakes and call it a night.

    50. Peter Says:

      Just one more thought:

      Zen, if you go after Pelosi on her craven support of telco immunity, I’ll be right by your side!

    51. Steve Says:

      Hmmmm blogers and journalists….

      I do have an expectation for anyone who publishes anything other then fiction to.

      1) read the relevent material

      2) check with reputable 2nd sources

      3) ask for comment from the attacked side (The attacked side would like to respond http://www.cha.house.gov/view_press_release.aspx?r=20080709181113)

      4) have the courage to publish under your own name (ok common sense and all this rule is forgiven if your life and liberty are at risk)

      This article fails these tests. zenpundit should retract it using the “ohh never mind”.

      For disclosure I am a Libertarian and while I don’t mind reasonable articulate attacks on the powers that be, this isn’t one this is BS

    52. Vince Says:

      I guess the wave of clones has passed.

    53. rrr Says:

      “For disclosure I am a Libertarian . . .”

      Yes, and you’ve no doubt voted for Republicans/Libertarians and/or free-marketers for most of your life and now, low and behold, you’ve seen the light and will vote for the Messiah. Tell it to the MSM. They’re buying.

    54. Steve Says:

      James F. ,

      I do have to respond. What does this conversation have to do with any opperating system? This is about how members of the house of representatives can communicate with the outside world. There was never any requirement that they do so using gpl based code. Go back and read the rules. Not then and not under the rule changes. One question I have for you is should the government be required to release publications in a nuetral non-proprietary format. I think that should be the rule. Do you?

    55. Peter Says:

      Seriously, can anyone point to evidence in Capuano’s letter that supports Zenpudit’s post?

      And by evidence I mean actual quotes?

      Anyone?

    56. Anonymous Says:

      Looking at the letter, I think you (and apparently Rep. Culberson) have seriously misconstrued it. Those regulations govern “official” House communications, that is, messages which are paid for by the taxpayers. It is entirely appropriate for the House to set rules restricting such communications. For example, we would all agree that incumbents should not have unlimited franking (taxpayer-paid mail) privileges in the run-up to his reelection, used to send us all campaign literature at our own expense. As I read that letter, it does not claim to regulate ANY speech by Members of Congress on blogs or other websites, such as (among many others) their campaign web sites. It only applies to official content produced at taxpayer expense. If Rep. Culberson wishes to write his own blog on a private site, I don’t see anything in this letter which would stop him. If he wants to have his taxpayer paid staff write a blog on a private site, then these rules would apply… as they should.

    57. PatHMV Says:

      Sorry, that last message (10:24pm) was by me. I wasn’t trying to be anonymous, just forgot to put in my information.

    58. Steve Says:

      rrr,

      What are you talking about? I have voted for a republican 1 time. That was when one of the authors of CA prop 215 ran for govenor against Dan Lungren (Autorney general of CA). That primary election was the one and only open primary and rather then vote for Steve Kuby I voted for prop 215 against the State DA. I have also voted for the Alaska Independence Party. I also pretty much exclusevly run linux.

      So Rrr… sounds like a dogs growl to me. and your repourte smells like a foul hounds breath to. Is that best you can do? Any intellect in you? No? hmm

    59. zenpundit Says:

      I’ll thank Steve for the link to Rep. Capuano – that was interesting and informative.

      Disavowals of any intent to censor or limit access to communication are great whether you view that as have always been the case -as I’m sure you do- or as a tactical repositioning in response to today’s outcry. That there might be a cautious pause to think through all the implications of revisions of rules suits me fine. Rep. Capuano’s commitment in that regard will be applauded in public by me if he follows through.

      Earlier today, the last contact I had with Rep. Culberson indicated that he had a meeting with Rep. Capuano and Rep. Brady on this matter – not certain if that link was written before or after said meeting or what the results of the meeting were, if it came to pass.

      Regarding other comments:

      I am not an anonymous blogger and never have been any more than Marc Lynch’s use of Abu Ardvaark made him anonymous. In any event, this site permits anonymous postings and comments.

      I am not a “journalist” and Chicago Boyz is not a newspaper. I relayed an accusation by a member of the United States Congress who agreed to be quoted by name with the document he himself provided. He was concerned with how such rules would be enforced and interpreted and is himself an attorney.

      Here’s what an internet expert, Clay Shirky, wrote regarding the proposed rules:

      http://groups.google.com/group/openhouseproject/browse_thread/thread/1e8d9aa1c7a903d8

      “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.

      As an analogy, despite two decades of open access journals, academics
      still stick to closed access ones, even though those journals are
      organized to specifically thwart academic goals of sharing knowledge.
      The academics do this because the internal needs of the profession
      (which journals matter most for tenure etc.) actually matter more to
      them than the stated goals of the institution as a whole.

      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.”

      Speaker Pelosi is on record in supporting a revival of the Fairness Doctrine. Ask her office. In my view, she is a hands-on Speaker with a firm grip on the actions of her leadership.

      There is no obligation here on my part to be nonpartisan or neutral – though the GOP also raises my ire on occasion – the other side has been free to say whatever they wished in the comment section here. No one censored you or anyone else, despite many of the comments ( though not yours, Steve)amounted to name-calling drivel.

    60. Steve Says:

      zenpundit,

      Thank you for an open honest response. I agree “Chicago Boyz is not a newspaper”, but I still expect it and you to respect journalism or at least highlite your material as political oppinion.

      The house rules seem even handed and clear “do not use house funds to pay for sites that include commercial content”. If youtube desires to become a distribution point fro official house documents they can easily do so. I also suspect that the cable/sattelite companies that sponsor cspan could also do so.

      I am not a fan of Nancy Peloci. I think the US population spoke very clearly and told the Democrats and the republicans to get our kids out of Iraq. Nancy hasn’t listened. Even though I am a Libertarian, I reached into my pocket and I donated a few hundred dollars to the Cindy Sheehan campeign running against Nancy. I am no politically aliegned with Cindy on any other issue then I will fight to my last breath to insure my 15 year old son doesn’t share Cindy’s son’s faight!

      But when we speak clearly, we need to be absolutely honestly correct. When we kick these sobs out of office we will be doing so for just cause and not as a lynch mob!

      Unlike, the two pollitical parties that care more for how the spoils are devided, we must care for truth!

    61. Peter Says:

      Zenpundit:

      I agree with much of your last comment. However, you have still never used the actual text of Capuano’s letter to support any of your accusations. You offer Clay Shirky’s thoughts as evidence of your own, but he doesn’t reference anything in the original letter either.

      My question stands: can you use anything in your primary source to demonstrate your arguments?

    62. zenpundit Says:

      Hi Peter,

      To reiterate, Rep. Culberson’s concern that he expressed regarded how such regulations would be interpreted by the partisan machinery of the House – in particular in a literal and maximalist vein. Specifically Culberson pointed to the requirement for a disclaimer in the form of exit notices as being incompatible with, say, twitter and qik and the designation of “official” external sites as being objectionable.

    63. JohnMc Says:

      Well lets see I can think of three items that would invalidate this Polesi Plan.

      1) First Amendment right. As soon as that CongressCritter stepped off the Capitol Steps he can give Nancy the finger.

      2) I would consider that Act 1, Sec 6, Cl 1 — “and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.” might put a crimp in that thinking. Presuming ‘any other Place.’ also includes the internet.

      3) Technology makes it patently unenforceable. CongressCritter buys a Verizon EVDO card for a laptop and uses a internet handle. Whose to catch him then? He’s not even on the Capitol network.

      Give Nancy the dunce cap.

    64. James F. Says:

      The heat must be getting to me today. Sorry.

    65. PatHMV Says:

      Zenpundit, the problem is that nothing in that letter claims to prohibit or regulate any speech in any forum, internet or otherwise. The issue is not whether the proposed rules are “unpoliceable” or “unenforceable”, it’s a question of whether the rules actually claim to do what you say they do. They don’t. They are aimed only at “official” communications which, as I explained elsewhere, means prepared at taxpayer expense. There’s nothing in those rules which prohibit a Congressman from starting a blog and posting whatever he wants on it. But he can’t have his taxpayer-paid staff work on that unofficial blog, except in accordance with the rules of the House. And under those rules, if he posts a link to that blog from his official House of Representatives web site (also funded with taxpayer dollars), then the link has to include a disclaimer that the reader is being taken to a non-governmental website. That’s all as it should be; Congressmen shouldn’t be able to use their tax-payer funded staff to run campaign websites or the Congressman’s private blogs.

    66. Steve Says:

      Zenpudit,

      Are you speeking on your own behalf, expressing independent oppinions, or are you functioning as an un-official mouth peice for a republican congressman?

    67. Steve Says:

      JohnMc,

      What Polesi plan? the evidence provided so far says that this is much todo about nothing. A tempest in a teapot. Nancy Polesi has many legitamte claims against her but this one is rubish. Drivel… heaped upon rot draped over a house of cards. Those that continue to push it will soon feel that they are standing like Wiley Coyote, well past the brink of the cliff with nothing but open air under them until they crash down into the desrt rubble without even their own miss truths to cushen their landing. thump

    68. Vince Says:

      Why would anyone give the benefit of the doubt to Nancy Pelosi and the Leftists who surround her?

    69. Steve Says:

      Vince,

      Blaim Pelosi all you want but do it for real issues. This isn’t one. Don’t be so blind with hatred that you care not for honesty.

    70. rosignol Says:

      IANAA(merican) and it’s been a decade sinde I studied political science in the US, but:
      Isn’t an elected official of the government supposed to stick to the party line?

      # Kit Gerrits

      Maybe where you live, not in the US. Here, each elected official represents the constituency that elected them, and has the freedom to vote on each matter as they see fit.

      The moment you work for the government, whatever you say should reflect the official stance of the government.
      The only thing this bill does is make sure that Government Officials don’t make an *ss out of themselves or their party.

      # Kit Gerrits

      That is not how it works here, our elected officials are free to make @$$es of themselves and their party whenever they want.

      …and we like it that way.

      Have you ever tried running a student board, or sports club, or even raising a child?
      One person can weaken the power of the entire governing body by going against the ‘party line’.

      # Kit Gerrits

      We’re also inclined to think that there should be limits on how strong a governing body should be. That’s kinda the whole point of that ‘three branches of government, checks and balances, etc’ thing.

    71. Peter Says:

      Zenpundit,

      So you aren’t making this argument, you are simply passing along Culberson’s views on this? I say this because you still refuse to offer an argument using your source material, pointing to Culberson’s statements instead.

      Thanks for making that clear.

    72. Vince Says:

      Steve: I am bored by your type and your insidious rhetorical tactic designed to silence me, which declares me to be blinded by hate.

    73. Steve Says:

      If this is All Congressman Culberson has to back up his aligation then I can’t say I am impressed with him.

      What does he want? To have congress pay the costs of diseminating his political views? I don’t want my tax dollars spent that way by ether side. His right to speech has not been infringed and my right not to pay for his publications has not been infringed.

      Seems fair to me.

    74. Tim Says:

      I wonder why congress has an approval rating in the single digits. What a fucking joke.

    75. zenpundit Says:

      Verbatim quote from Rep. John Culberson regarding his meeting with Rep. Capuano on rules:

      “Capuano confirmed to me today that rule will limit Member video posts to approved sites w approved content w disclaimer & He said text/blogs/Twitter social media sites next. My analysis correct: we could only post approved content on approved sites w disclaimer. Twitter would be prohibited to Congressmen because We the People are free to post political comments recommending who to vote for or against”

      So essentially you have diametrically opposed statements now from Culberson and Capuano as to what is going to happen next and can evaluate who is telling the truth here by the subsequent events.

    76. Steve Says:

      Let me try it this way.

      If you are writting political comentary during your working hours to an internet site using company equipment your company has the right to tell you to knock it off. If you are writting political commentary to an internet site on your non-working time using your own equipment and your own connection then it is none of your employers buisness. The house rules limit what the house will pay for. The members are completely free to produce video on their own time using their own equipment and tranmitting that video through their own connection. Twitter is not prohibitted to congressmen just the use of house equipment, house bandwidth and house employees durring working hours to twitter on the tax payer nickle.

    77. Vince Says:

      Wow Steve.. such insight! I’m sure none of us ever encountered the policy you just revealed to us from on high.

    78. LotharBot Says:

      Steve,

      when dealing with the government, you can’t stop at what the rule SAYS; you have to think about how the rule will be APPLIED by a highly partisan government body. Would you trust Pelosi or DeLay to fairly enforce these regulations, or do you see potential for abuse?

      I see tremendous potential for abuse in the following ways:

      - selective enforcement. Message is from your party or in agreement? Look the other way. From the other party or dissenting? Bring down the hammer.

      - biased site approval. Imagine Daily Kos gets the stamp of approval, but none of the big righty blogs do. All of a sudden one side can get their message out while muzzling the other side.

      - imprecise definition of “working time” or “government property”. If a congressman uses his congressional laptop to process a video, is he in trouble? What if he uses his personal laptop during a “break” in his congressional office? What if he has an intern help with the filming? What if he posts the “approved” 30-second clip on an approved site, but wants to post the full-length unedited version to youtube? (And remember the thing about selective enforcement.)

      - imprecise definition of “appropriate content”. If a congressman produces a video about a particular bill, trying to get his constituents riled up about it (for or against), is that part of his job or is that “campaigning”?

      Remember, Congress members are crafty and devious. I’m certain whoever drafted the legislation had their own lawyers cleverly word it such that they could get away with many more abuses than I’ve outlined here. Is there anyone here who trusts them to restrain themselves?

    79. zenpundit Says:

      Culberson has asked the House Administration Committee for an amendment to exempt social media tools like twitter and qik.

      If there is no intent to block such services, as Capuano argues, this should not be a problem for the committee to approve.

    80. Steve Says:

      Lothar,

      Nothing prevents any member of Congress from putting information on any blog. The only restriction is the use of tax payer payed for equipment. A congressman is completely free to have staff from his election campaign not housed in a federal building not using government equipment publish just about anything they want to any site they want. This really is an extension of the Franking privileges and limits imposed when using franking privileges.

      For example, should a congressman be able to send out a fund raising letter and have the house pick up the mail costs? I don’t think so. Talk about giving an incumbent office holder an even more unfair advantage. How about if a congressman sends out a mailing with a commercial message? Should we the taxpayers have to pay for that?

      Spending taxpayer money to produce a video to convince voters one way or another is an abuse of government resources. Political content of that nature should be produced and distributed with non-government funds.

      Now for the internet. Should official committee documents be published on a web site that include advertisements. Such that for a member of the public to get at the official document they would have be exposed to those advertisements? I think I would have an issue with. I would like advertisement free access to official documents.

      I really think you all need to relax and think through this whole process. Yes it can be abused and maybe has been. If one side starts abusing a well established set of guidelines then you have something worth Complaining about. But this isn’t it.

      I also find it amusing that this is supposed to be a conservative blog site and yet I hear people arguing for allowing members of congress to use tax’s to fund more government.

    81. Vince Says:

      also find it amusing that this is supposed to be a conservative blog site and yet I hear people arguing for allowing members of congress to use tax’s to fund more government.

      I just have to roll my eyes at that one.

      Yeah, I’m going to care about 4,000 dollars.

      I’m laughing right now . The government is squandering trillians of dollars but now we’re hyprocites because the govt might have to pay someone’s 20 dollar service fee and we’re not up in arms about it.

      That just tells you how desperate these Lefties are to attack… from any angle possible..

    82. Steve Says:

      Vince,

      I believe you are to my left. And you are the one attacking Nancy for any reason real or imaginary. And if you are a Republican you are of the party of charge and spend having run up the highest deficits in History. Having sent armies of occupation to the far corners of the earth for flat out lies. I also have issues with Nancy. I believe the American voters spoke loud and clear about ending the occupation of Iraq. She hasn’t followed her instructions. She also passed a bill forgiving the telcos and their violation of our Civil Liberties. And was joined with both McCain and Obama in doing so. But these are off topic for this discussion and I only present them here to demonstrate REAL ISSUES.

    83. Steve Says:

      Vince,

      “The government is squandering trillions of dollars.” Well on behalf of my libertarian friends we would like to thank the republican party and the president who is of the republican party for running up the largest deficit in history. Not Nancy, Not Al, Not Bill but George W Bush.

      If being against warrentless government spying, against Congressional miss use of house funds, against the war of occupation based on flat out lies, in favor of reduced government size and spending, makes me a lefty, in your eyes, you seriously need to take your blinders off.

      Attacking Nancy over this is a clear clear example of your desperation. Can’t you find something real to attack her on?

    84. An Average American Says:

      It’s interesting to watch Pelosi, in her attempt to achieve an all-time record American disapproval of the job Congress is doing. But no House member will be able to post on their blogs without the Commisars’ approval … nice policy. I expect Congress’ approval rating to tank even further.

      Why aren’t we seriously discussing referenda on term-limits? We need referenda since the political class will never agree to them voluntarily.

    85. Vince Says:

      Steve: I stand for myself.. not for any party or politican. A word of advice: the people who run this blog dont take it so kindly when commenterers get all high and mighty and start dictating what they choose to write about. You’re a very rude guest. I wont be talking to you any more.

    86. LotharBot Says:

      Steve,

      I’m all for the government saying “we won’t pay for Congress members’ bulk mailings, ads, and so on.” I’d be all for a simple, straightforward, well-written limit on that. This is not it. And therein lies the problem.

      Of particular concern is the statement that official content should not be posted where it may appear with commercial or political information. This could disqualify sites like youtube, and would almost certainly disqualify political blogs based around a politician’s local area — exactly the sites politicians should be producing content for. And, as I said above, there’s great danger of selective enforcement, of sites friendly to party X being approved while sites friendly to party Y get the runaround. There has to be a better way to create reasonable limits without such avenues for abuse.

      (As a courtesy, would you please refrain from going off about Iraq, telecos, deficits, etc. “for illustrative purposes”? It’s an age-old internet trick to introduce an argument nobody can take the time to respond to.)

    87. Steve Says:

      Vince,

      Rudeness? Hmm putting a label on some one you don’t know. That is rudeness!

      LotharBot,

      Good idea. Why didn’t you ask for this when the republicans were the majority? Also, this whole conversation is about an argument that has no basis in fact. Yet you don’t mind arguing about. As I have suggested a few times this is a non issue. If you want to attack Nancy there are a large number of real issues. If you are going attack anybody on these flimsy type charges you deserve to be called out on the carpet for it.

    88. Steve Says:

      Vince,

      One last thought then I am out of here.

      You said “A word of advice: the people who run this blog dont take it so kindly when commenterers get all high and mighty and start dictating what they choose to write about.”

      Are you threatening that I am going to be censored by the people who run this blog? That would be the ultimate ironic end of this discussion.

      Thank you, for that funny idea. You just made my day.

    89. LotharBot Says:

      Steve,

      “Why didn’t you ask for this when the republicans were the majority?”

      Because I didn’t have the text of this particular change in front of me, nor did I have any other indication that members of Congress who wanted to put their message out had to jump through hoops to do it. Now that I’m aware, I’ve put my 2 cents in. (Not that you actually know what I was or wasn’t complaining about when the Republicans were in charge, mind you. That was a careless attack on your part.)

      “If you are going attack anybody on these flimsy type charges you deserve to be called out on the carpet for it.”

      I haven’t attacked anybody in particular — not Pelosi, nor anyone else. I’ve only pointed out the possible avenues for abuse, and why I don’t like this particular change in the hands of a highly partisan body. It may turn out to be a non-issue, but I don’t trust any party to rule fairly given the text I’ve seen so far. (Again, this is a careless attack on your part. You might find it easier to get your point across with less unnecessary hostility.)

    90. Steve Says:

      Lotharbot,

      So you didn’t complain when the Republicans were the majority. My assumption was correct.

      You certainly have accused the House of being a “highly partisan body” My mistake I thought those words constitute an accusation (another word for attack).

      Hostility? Vince implies that anybody who dares defend Nancy from any attack (justified or not) is a leftist.

      By the way did you see the breaking news out of Pennsylvania today? About the accusations of Democratic members of the state legislature engaged in election campaigning during the work hours they were getting payed by the state.

      Yes there is a reason for the house rules. It will be interesting to watch how the PA story turns out and what evidence is presented.

    91. LotharBot Says:

      Steve,

      “My assumption was correct.”

      The wording of your initial accusation suggests that I had a partisan motive for complaining now and not then. That assumption is incorrect, as I explained in my previous post. One of your series of unwarranted assumptions — that I didn’t complain — is correct, but not for the reasons you connected to it. Your focus on that assumption’s correctness, without acknowledgment of the wrongness of the connected assumptions, stands in sharp contrast with your rhetoric. You complain that others’ attacks on Pelosi are unjustified, while defending your own unjustified attack on me based on the correctness of a small part of it.

      “You … accused the House of being a “highly partisan body””

      Which is not the same as attacking any particular member of the House or Senate… nor is it incorrect. The house IS highly partisan, and both sides are capable of abuse, which is why it’s so important for them to have appropriate rules. This should not be such a difficult concept to accept.

      “Hostility? Vince implies…”

      And what Vince says matters between you and me because… ? There’s no justification for the level of hostility you’ve displayed toward me. (I find irony in your hostility toward me contrasted with your comment that being “censored” would be “the ultimate ironic end of this discussion”.)

      “there is a reason for the house rules.”

      I agree — as I said before, I’d be all for a simple, straightforward, well-written limit… but this is not it. Maybe it will be once it’s been revised a few times; maybe it’s already made it to that stage while we’ve been blabbing. But until I see a better version, I’m going to continue to criticize this one.

    92. Steve Says:

      Lotharbot,

      I see nor feal any hostility towards you. Looking backwards I fail to see it in my writting. Could you point it out?

    93. Anonymous Says:

      Sorry Pelosi is from California, She seems powerful, but does not one thing for the state. She is unhappy with parts of the Bill of Rights and wants to hamstring them with her Grandmotherly Niceness Doctrine.. .. If it ain’t Socialist or Impperialist in favor of Democrats then it ain’t NICE.

    94. Fred Says:

      Bipartisan politics in most case’s is all about the lust for raw brutal power. If you can’t buy your way (through media ownership) then you must find other ways to impose your rule and punish all who would defy you. This is why we few believe in small and limited government. This is also why they fear us and wish to silence any dissent and quest for liberty, for we have ideas and wills and are not afraid to use them. I no longer try as hard as I once did to convince people of the benefit of liberty. If they cannot desire it, they cannot comprehend it, and they will be unwilling or incapable to fight for it.

    95. Vince Says:

      May I add to this..

      Nancy Pelosi vs the American People

      http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0808/CSpan_Dont_blame_us_for_not_showing_GOP_revolt.html#comments

      C-SPAN: Don’t blame us for not airing GOP revolt

      C-SPAN, the network of congressional coverage, wants everyone to know that the GOP revolt on the House floor — Republicans don’t want to go home until they are allowed a vote on offshore oil drilling, even though the House has adjourned — is not their fault.

      C-SPAN has just issued this statement: “A number of media organizations have incorrectly referred to ‘C-SPAN cameras’ being turned off and not providing televised coverage of the GOP House members’ post-adjournment protest on energy policy being held on the House floor on Friday afternoon. Please note that cameras in the House chamber are under the control of the Speaker of the House and that all media organizations, including C-SPAN, wishing to cover events in the chamber must use the official House TV feed. No private media cameras are permitted in the House (or Senate) chambers.”

    96. Ross Presser Says:

      I am going to try again, and respond to exactly one line — the top line of the original post.

      “Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who would like very much to reimpose the old, so-called, “Fairness Doctrine” that once censored conservative opinion on television and radio broadcasting, is…”

      You make a broad statement here that paints the old Fairness Doctrine with an extremely ugly brush: that whether or not it was designed to do so, it had the effect of unevenly censoring conservative opinion as opposed to providing equality of opinion.

      I want some proof of that assertion, which all your fanboys seem to take as a given. It is a new concept to me, I admit; but you use it here without any backup, without even saying “as has been shown many times before” — and you use it to impute certain motives to Speaker Pelosi, again without documenting those motives.

      If you do not care to provide any proof, I will continue to ignore that and the rest of your post as unsubstantiated craziness.

      (My earlier comment contained an equally unsubstantiated assertion about the current administration’s tendency to censor scientific fact. I wish to withdraw that statement now, not because I do not believe it to be true, but because it does not factor in to the current conversation, and is off-topic.)

    97. Vince Says:

      >If you do not care to provide any proof, I will continue to ignore that and the rest of your post as unsubstantiated craziness

      Can we shake on that?

    98. william pennock Says:

      Who do you think you are, of yhe nerve of telling president bush you need more bail out money now! Who is going to bail me out? I work hard for a living like Joe the plummer and I do not approve of massive hand outs like AIG who went on a spa vacation in ca.-
      Are you going to grow the government to watch dog all these sleezy corporations? I beleive it is criminal the way they oporate anyway! If we are becoming a welfare country then I’ll hold my hand out too! Is this the right thing to do?

    99. Ross Presser Says:

      > Can we shake on that?

      No; I do not think I would care to shake your hand. It might burst into flame immediately afterwards.

      Adieu. I wish you health and long life — but not success.