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Supreme Court Throws Out Part of McCain/Feingold

The Supreme Court Ruled 5-4 that McCain/Feingold violated an anti-abortion group's First Amendment right to free speech:

In what a pro-life group is calling a "tremendous victory for citizens," the Supreme Court on Monday upheld Americans' right to engage in grassroots lobbying on television and radio in the period leading up to primary and general elections.


The justices said a pro-life group should have been allowed to air an ad mentioning the name of Sen. Russ Feingold within 30 days of the Wisconsin primary.

"The Court soundly rejected the attempts by Senators McCain and Feingold and their allies to silence Wisconsin Right Life's efforts to inform the public regarding an important issue pending in Congress and to urge citizens to contact their elected officials regarding that issue," said Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life. "This is a tremendous victory for all citizens and citizen organizations," she said.

The case, FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, challenged part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that bars corporations and unions from using general funds for broadcast ads that mention the name of a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election.

"The court today has rejected the audacious attempt by Senator McCain and his allies to overturn the First Amendment's protection and empower incumbent politicians with the power to ban public criticism," said James Bopp, lead counsel for Wisconsin Right to Life.

It's being reported in the Times Online that John McCain might pull out of the Republican Primary by September because he's having such a difficult time raising money for his campaign. Well, he can thank McCain/Feingold for that. When conservatives look at John McCain, the only thing they think of is this horrible law. No matter how much McCain stands strong on Iraq, a point, I think, most conservatives appreciate, the Republican base just can't shake McCain/Feingold from the front of their minds. As far as the base is concerned, McCain sold out on Free Speech.


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Comments (53)

KimWhen cons... (Below threshold)

Kim

When conservatives look at John McCain, the only thing they think of is this horrible law

I agree, but don't forget the Gang of 14...lots of us remember that knife in the back.

McCain-Feingold BCRA... (Below threshold)
John in CA:

McCain-Feingold BCRA
Gang of Fourteen
Terrorist Detainee Rights
McCain-Kennedy Illegal Immigrant Amnesty
.
.
.
.
dropping like a rock in polls

I don't believe that spendi... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

I don't believe that spending should be considered speech because it's not equally available to all citizens.

I don't believe th... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
I don't believe that spending should be considered speech because it's not equally available to all citizens.

What?

Hamilton, no part of speech... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Hamilton, no part of speech is equally available to all citizens. You sound like a communist. Free speech does not equate to equal speech. Did your hero Stalin allow equal speech, Hamilton? Funny you should have the last name of one of our founders and yet stand opposed to what they stood for. Do you also not recognize Supreme Court decisions as final in this matter?

paul, nothing is, was, or e... (Below threshold)
ke_future:

paul, nothing is, was, or ever will be equally distributed to every person.

money is equally available to people. how much they get is determined by talent, drive, work ethic, background, and some luck.

this is one of the core differences between republicans and democrats. equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome. (another key difference is individuality vs. group collective).

are you suggesting that we limit the ability to use money to the lowest common denominator, which would be zero?

Paul Hamilton is off the ch... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Paul Hamilton is off the charts again. ww

ZR3,no supreme cou... (Below threshold)
ke_future:

ZR3,

no supreme court decision is ever final. sometimes they get it wrong. sometimes things change. courts and judges are not infallible.

Wow, that comment pushed a ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Wow, that comment pushed a few buttons...

What I meant was that every citizen has at least a potential opportunity to make their opinions known on political issues as anyone else. You can appear at meetings, call a radio show, or write a letter to your representative.

But unfortunately, cash has become the coin of the political realm and millionares have MUCH more influence than those of us who actually have to work for a living.

And this isn't a matter of equality of outcome either. Yesterday's highly-influential dot-com millionare is likely today's checkout clerk at Mickey D's. But according to the constitution, a person's wealth has no bearing on his status as a citizen. However, reality these days is that wealth buys access and influence.

That's the whole reason behind campaign finance reform in general. The wealthy 1% shouldn't have undue influence on the process at the expense of the 99%. And we shouldn't have a coin-operated political system anyway.

I'd like nothing more than to see campaign financing come solely from voluntary taxpayer contributions. That way, if people get disgusted with the politicians, they'll have less and less to sell themselves with. It would also encourage people running for office to appear in debates and public forums rather than just run carefully crafted media campaigns while scrupulously avoiding getting out among real people or becoming involved in situations over which they do not have total control.

Tell me truthfully, you guys -- do you REALLY think that politicians have become more honest or better qualified since the time when money in politics began to explode?

I don't believe that ... (Below threshold)

I don't believe that spending should be considered speech because it's not equally available to all citizens.

Posted by: Paul Hamilton at June 25, 2007 06:34 PM

Uh, Paul....people are reading this and lightbulbs are going on everywhere. Hmmmm, where have I heard that before?


only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

PaulTell me ... (Below threshold)

Paul

Tell me truthfully, you guys -- do you REALLY think that politicians have become more honest or better qualified since the time when money in politics began to explode?

That is what is politely known as a diversion.

Again, this is an example w... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Again, this is an example where the fundamentalist progessives are trying to use the power of the gov to silence critics and impose their vision of "clean" government on the rest of us.

Maybe I had a bad personal experience with the fundamentalist secularists, but the view of the fundamentalist progressives wrt free speec scares me also.

paul, nothing is, ... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
paul, nothing is, was, or ever will be equally distributed to every person.

Well, with the possibly exception of communism, where misery is equally shared by all.

no supreme court decision is ever final...

Except Roe v. Wade, which is sacrosanct. It came down from the Supreme Court Mount, chipped on a stone tablet, reverently carried by Warren Burger. Shall never be touched. It's super duper precedent. Even if demos have to inflict the dreaded litmus test (which, obtw, Republicans cannot have on the abortions issue) to ensure no justice to the SC is confirmed who may have doubts about it's absoluteness in Constitutional guarantee.

Paul,Do you want to ... (Below threshold)

Paul,
Do you want to experience when "money in politics began to explode"?
Read some history of a century ago. The playing field today is only beginning to level. As they say in sports,you want some home cooking? Try Vanderbilt, Morgan (who literally bought the US Treasury out of default) and Gould.

KE, as I said, I'd like to ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

KE, as I said, I'd like to see voluntary taxpayer contributions be the sole source of campaign funding. We're selling our politicians like cans of beans and that makes no sense. If Mike Bloomberg wasn't a billionaire, do you think ANYBODY would take him seriously as a potential third-party candidate?

It's all about the money -- look at the percentage of millionaires running for office in '08 compared to the population in general. Why would anybody think that wealth should be the prime consideration in whether or not a person is elected.

And besides that, it's disgraceful how much of OUR time that elected representatives spend doing nothing more than prostituting themselves. One campaign starts the moment the previous one is decided and with the trend toward a front-loaded primary season -- which I think is another abomination -- it's only going to get worse. We'll have a two year run up to the SuperDuperMegaPrimary Day and then an eight or nine month media deluge before the election. Can you even imagine how much that would cost considering the way campaigns operate today?

No, Hugh. The subject is c... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

No, Hugh. The subject is campaign finance reform in general. My case is that there is too much money in the game right now.

PaulHere's the probl... (Below threshold)

Paul
Here's the problem with your view. It's driven by emotion and poorly informed by history. This thread makes that point painfully clear.

As any attorney will tell you, listen long enough and the real truth will come out. You came as close as possible to quoting Marx with, apparently, no disdain for Marx's role in the death and destruction of millions of lives.

A knowledge of history, and a shared value of liberty, would caution you from making a staement like that.

Hugh said:>>The play... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Hugh said:
>>The playing field today is only beginning to level.

Thank you for making a terrific point for my side. If money were truly going for principle instead of influence, it wouldn't shift from one party to the other when power shifts. These wealthy individuals and corporations don't care about which party wins, all they care about is influence with whoever is in office.

The subject is campaign fin... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

The subject is campaign finance reform in general
-------------------------------------------------
The McCain-Feigngold didn't stop money flowing into politics because that is impossible. The reform that we need to have is OPEN DISCLOSURE so that we can know the source of the money like in this case
http://www.reversespin.com/?p=572

Everyone is free to contribute and form organization to promote their interest, but the contributions have to be made public in a timely fashion so that people can know the source and publicize it.

Union holds a lot of power.... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Union holds a lot of power. So union represents wealthy people?

PaulNo, Hugh... (Below threshold)

Paul

No, Hugh. The subject is campaign finance reform in general. My case is that there is too much money in the game right now

There was more money in the game then, Paul, and it was more concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few. But that's history, and you have shown your disregard for that.

Hugh, communism was a dicta... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Hugh, communism was a dictatorship by another name. Competitive elections were non-existent in those nations so claiming that campaign finance reform is Marxist is ridiculous on the face of it.

Since McCain-Feigold wealth... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Since McCain-Feigold wealthy people like Soros have more influence among the radical progressive caucus on the left.

Limiting the freedom of spe... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Limiting the freedom of speech of the Wisconsin NRL (to air their criticism of gov) smacks of Marxist tactics. I think this is the topic of this thread.

Paul, do you support this limit of speech wrt the Wisconsin right to life group?

LAI said:>>Union hol... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

LAI said:
>>Union holds a lot of power

Yes they do. So do corporations. My response to that is that nobody should be allowed to contribute to any politician they cannot vote for. Since unions and corporations have no vote, they couldn't contribute at all.

BTW, my representative in congress got 85% of his money from sources outside our district. Do you think that's healthy for the system?

And Thank You for making my... (Below threshold)

And Thank You for making my point:


Thank you for making a terrific point for my side. If money were truly going for principle instead of influence, it wouldn't shift from one party to the other when power shifts. These wealthy individuals and corporations don't care about which party wins, all they care about is influence with whoever is in office.

What do these numbers tell you Paul? Labor unions acting like capitalist pigs?


http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.asp?Order=A&View=P

LAI asked:>>Paul, do... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

LAI asked:
>>Paul, do you support this limit of speech wrt the Wisconsin right to life group?

It's not speech, it's spending, and see my 8:24 note. The group has no vote so I don't think they should contribute to anyone.

my representative in congre... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

my representative in congress got 85% of his money from sources outside our district. Do you think that's healthy for the system?
------------------------------------------------
As long as other people in the district has the right to air this source of money to criticize him 30 days before the election. McCain-Feingold is designed to protect your representative from criticism 30 days before the election. This is a form of silencing the citizens on behalf of the gov. It smacks of Marxist tactic.

Since McCain-Feigo... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
Since McCain-Feigold wealthy people like Soros have more influence among the radical progressive caucus on the left.

And since Soros was a BIG mover behind McCain-Feingold, we can fairly conclude this was the outcome he wanted.

Hugh, communism was a... (Below threshold)

Hugh, communism was a dictatorship by another name. Competitive elections were non-existent in those nations so claiming that campaign finance reform is Marxist is ridiculous on the face of it.

I never made that claim. Name the nations I cited.

LAI asked:>>Paul, do... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

LAI asked:
>>Paul, do you support this limit of speech wrt the Wisconsin right to life group?

It's not speech, it's spending, and see my 8:24 note. The group has no vote so I don't think they should contribute to anyone.
-------------------------------------------------
How can they make their views known publicly to other citizens then? Amazing that you advocated the silencing of the citizens of Wisconsin airing criticism of their senators. I begin to really worried about the progressive tendency to use the power of gov to silence people now.

>>How can they make their v... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

>>How can they make their views known publicly to other citizens then?

Hold a press conference. That would make their opinions a lot more public than throwing money at one candidate or another that most people would never know about at all.

When I think of McCain, I r... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

When I think of McCain, I remember his elevated roll as the "maverick senator" early in the Bush presidency and how he absolutely relished sticking it to the president at every opportunity. McCain/Feingold is just one bad act in a long string of them. I'm glad to see him twisting in the wind.

Come on, Hugh. Stand behin... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Come on, Hugh. Stand behind your own words. If you refute my notes by quoting Marx, then you are saying that my ideas are Marxist. That's fine with me -- I don't agree, of course for the reason I cited above -- but let's not start pretending that you never said it.

Hold a press conference. Th... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Hold a press conference. That would make their opinions a lot more public than throwing money at one candidate or another that most people would never know about at all.
-------------------------------------------------
Who is going to air or publish their press conference so that other citizens may know?

Here's PaulI... (Below threshold)

Here's Paul

I don't believe that spending should be considered speech because it's not equally available to all citizens.

AND

Here's Marx
only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

Paul, the economic distribution analogy is clear.
Read ke_future's post at 7:44 for another explanation.


>>Who is going to air or pu... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

>>Who is going to air or publish their press conference so that other citizens may know?

Good question. I guess if the conference was pointless except for hearing somebody spout off his political beliefs, then it wouldn't get much attention at all.

But if that same person gave a huge wad of cash, his opinion might not be any more valid, but it would have a much bigger effect even if nobody knew about it at all.

But maybe if these folks had to be very, very public about their contributions, as they would be if they gave a press conference, the voters would see that many of them are just buying influence, not standing up for anything.

Hugh, I want to DISCONNECT ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Hugh, I want to DISCONNECT the link between money and politics completely. If that were the case, the distribution of wealth would be irrelevant to the political system. You could have the same rich and poor distribution you have today but it wouldn't matter to the political system.

Gotta run guys -- real life is calling...

Gotta run guys -- rea... (Below threshold)

Gotta run guys -- real life is calling...

Great to hear from you Paul. If you succeed in DISCONNECTING "the link between money and politics completely" make sure you notify your friends:

http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.asp?Order=A&View=P

And good luck dismantling the great majority of the Federal bureaucracy, because money and politics are their life blood.


KevinThis blog is a ... (Below threshold)

Kevin
This blog is a veritable civil service, and Kim is worthy citizen.

McCain was a pal of Keating... (Below threshold)
kim:

McCain was a pal of Keating and is an ally of Soros. Giuliani was an out of control prosecutor from the SDNY. Romney's ancestor liked more women than our culture officially approves of, but fewer than Clinton. Whatever would make you think Romney has sufficient immorality to be President?
=====================================

>>Who is going to air or pu... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

>>Who is going to air or publish their press conference so that other citizens may know?

Good question. I guess if the conference was pointless except for hearing somebody spout off his political beliefs, then it wouldn't get much attention at all.

But if that same person gave a huge wad of cash, his opinion might not be any more valid, but it would have a much bigger effect even if nobody knew about it at all.

But maybe if these folks had to be very, very public about their contributions, as they would be if they gave a press conference, the voters would see that many of them are just buying influence, not standing up for anything.
-------------------------------------------------
Paul,
So who is going to decide whether a press conference is pointless or not? You are really trying to sidestep the question because you know that you are trying to limit speech. In the end, the people who run the media will determine whether they want to air a press conference or not. The politicians will have more access the public medium than normal citizens. I found it disturbing you want to curb the ability of citizens to pool the money together to buy ad to voice their political views.

It is even more disturbing to me that you are willing to support a politian (Feingold) in this case to pass a law to ban the citizens of his state to buy ads criticizing him right before the election. This is a clear disregard for free speech. This confirms my fear about the progessive tendency to use the power of government to silence critics. Truly disturbing!

but paul, i don't want my t... (Below threshold)
ke_future:

but paul, i don't want my tax money going to the democrats. and that pretty much kills for me the whole idea of tax payer funded campaigns.

if i want to put up a bill board on my property, or make a blog (which some people would liken to an in kind donation), or pay some money to get what i think is an important message out via radio, i damn well better have the right to do these things or this country will be in a lot of trouble. who are you to say that i can't spend my own, hard earned money to do these things?

let's just say you will never convince me on this subject.

Al Franken is having some t... (Below threshold)
John in CA:

Al Franken is having some trouble raising money for his fledgling Senate run in Minnesota. He recently complained about all the time he has to spend fund raising, instead of talking to the people. Frankenfluff suggested that was a good reason to have government funded campaigns.

I'm with ke_future above. I don't want my money going to fund a flake like Frankenfluff. Besides, does that mean that anyone who wants to run for office will get government funds? Sheesh, talk about opening a can of worms. The crazy lady down the street could get funds and campaign on free cat food for everyone with more than 100 cats.

I'm back for a little bit..... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

I'm back for a little bit...

LAI asked:
>>So who is going to decide whether a press conference is pointless or not?

Well, in these days of the internet and widely distributed dissemination of news -- think YouTube -- then the only people to decide would be the people themselves. There's really no such thing as a news filter any more -- the stories are just out there and if someone has an RSS or Googles a person or subject, the information will be there.

>>It is even more disturbing to me that you are willing to support a politian (Feingold)

I don't. I support TRUE campaign finance reform. The sort of thing that would cut the money in campaigns by 99% or more. M-F (talk about unfortunate initials...) was highly visible but really didn't accomplish that much as individuals and groups found ways around it almost immediately.

KE brought up a good point:
>>but paul, i don't want my tax money going to the democrats. and that pretty much kills for me the whole idea of tax payer funded campaigns.

Okay, how about if you could check Dem, Pub, or equal distribution on your form? But that creates a big problem for third parties. Obviously this idea needs more thought -- I was just tossing it out there.

>>make a blog (which some people would liken to an in kind donation)

If it was truly an independent blog, then it would have no cash value to the campaign and people could do that as they saw fit because it's speech. Like I said above about the press conferences, the internet is the future of politics. People like Howard Dean touched on it back in '04, and Fred Thompson is basing his whole pre-campaign around it this year. As time passes, candidates will learn to use it or be left in the dust by those who have. I think blogs are going to become more and more important as well -- they will be the meeting halls of the future and places where supporters of a candidate can not only hear from their candidate, but can also swap ideas and the like.

And if I can't convince you of anything, that's okay too. I just like to discuss... :)

Okay, how about if... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
Okay, how about if you could check Dem, Pub, or equal distribution on your form?

That's not a palatable option either. I would be pissed if those funds went to support some dolt like Lincoln Chafee.

One thing I really hate about the current system is campaign funds contributed to a certain candidate getting spread around. It irks me that I contribute to a certain candidate that I like, but they can send some of that money to another candidate, that I may not like at all. Therefore, by proxy, I've helped a candidate I don't support.

If I wanted that, I would donate to the NRSC or NRCC.

>>So who is going to decide... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

>>So who is going to decide whether a press conference is pointless or not?

Well, in these days of the internet and widely distributed dissemination of news -- think YouTube -- then the only people to decide would be the people themselves. There's really no such thing as a news filter any more -- the stories are just out there and if someone has an RSS or Googles a person or subject, the information will be there.
-------------------------------------------------
This is a cop-out. Citizens should be able to pool their money to buy servers, a website, or an ad on TV. That 's freedom of speech. Citizens should have access to all public medium You are trying to limit the right of citizens access to TV and printed media. Who knows may be the content of the internet sites will be next?

>>It is even more disturbing to me that you are willing to support a politian (Feingold)

I don't. I support TRUE campaign finance reform. The sort of thing that would cut the money in campaigns by 99% or more. M-F (talk about unfortunate initials...) was highly visible but really didn't accomplish that much as individuals and groups found ways around it almost immediately.
------------------------------------------------
In this case, you did support the silencing of the citizens of Wisconsin voicing their political views against a politician right before the election. That 's the fact.

Also you supported tax-payer funded campaign. Who gets to decide the tax-payer 's money? The people who run the gov. Again, you are advocating gov controlling election and political speech. This is not a respect for freedom of speen.

Like I said above about the... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Like I said above about the press conferences, the internet is the future of politics. People like Howard Dean touched on it back in '04, and Fred Thompson is basing his whole pre-campaign around it this year.
-------------------------------------------------
We shouldn't care whether the citizens want to voice their political views on the internet, TV, or printed media. IT is up to them. That 's what freedom is all about. You want to exclude citizens from TV and printed media now. What would prevent you from excluding them from the internet in the future?

really, the only solution i... (Below threshold)
ke_uture:

really, the only solution is to allow people to spend *their* money how *they* see fit.

it's interesting that in general those that supoort "campaign finance reform" also support higher taxes. i get the feeling that there are people out there who don't trust me with me own money.

paul, i can understand, and to so extent sympathyze, with wanting to get money out of the political process. but that just isnt' going to happen. i work hard for my money, and if i want to spend money rather than time in support of a candidate, i should be allowed to do it.

I think the beginning of th... (Below threshold)
lonetown:

I think the beginning of the end for the McCain 08 campaign was Romneys line in the first debate -

"McCain-Kennedy will do for immigration reform what McCain Feingold did for Campaign Finance reform"

I think that little meme resonates.

I appreciate your point of ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

I appreciate your point of view, KE, but everything I've seen about the explosion of money in politics has been bad. I agree *in principle* that the government should let people make their own spending choices, but in this particular case, the entire process is being corrupted by money and if the democratic process is to retain any legitimacy at all, the spending must be controlled. Otherwise, all we're going to have are billionaires like Bloomberg and politicians who devote 75% of their time in office to prostituting themselves. And the special interests will gain more power than ever. To me, there is simply no positive at all to continue down this path.

Paul, Are you still... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Paul,
Are you still saying that the citizens shouldn't have the right to use their money as they see fit to voice their opinion (critical of their elected officials) right before the election? Do you still say that the Wisconsin right to life folks shouldn't be allowed to air their ad 30 days before the election?

Remove all limits. M... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Remove all limits.
Make an Internet-searchable database that lists all donations a candidate has received.
That way, everybody can judge for themselves if the money is corrupting a candidate.

If a Dem gets a trillion dollars from a union and then tries to make laws in favor of unions, does that mean the $ corrupted the Dem or does it mean that the union gave their money to the politician most likely to be on their side?

If a GOPer gets a trillion dollars from a union and then tries to make laws in favor of unions, does that mean the $ corrupted the GOPer or does it mean that the union gave their money to the politician most likely to be on their side?

I would suggest that the answer to the first question is different from the answer to the second one.

Remember, an honest politician stays bought.




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