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The Grassroots and New Media

There are a couple of interesting pieces on new media and the grassroots at the Examiner.

First, Mark Tapscott alerts us to Nancy Pelosi's new effort to put restrictions on free speech. (Hey, I thought Democrats were supposed to be all for the little guy.)

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has cooked up with Public Citizen's Joan Claybrook a "lobbying reform" that actually protects rich special interests and activists millionaires while clamping new shackles on citizens' First Amendment rights to petition Congress and speak their minds.

Pelosi tried earlier this year to move H.R. 4682, the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006," which is now cited by Public Citizen's Web site as the vehicle it is helping the incoming speaker to craft for the new Congress. The proposal Claybrook is helping craft for introduction early in 2007 is expected to be essentially the same bill Pelosi put forth this year.

That is bad news for the First Amendment and for preserving the kind of healthy, open debate that is essential to holding politicians, bureaucrats and special interests to account for their conduct of the public business.

Read the whole thing to find out how it might affect you.

Also at the Examiner, Dan Gillmor looks at the way new media and old media can affect each other.

In a world of conversational media, the professionals recognize that the people who once were just an audience collectively know more, vastly more, than the journalists -- and that this is an opportunity to do better journalism, not a threat.

In this world, traditional media people welcome bloggers and other "citizen media" types and, naturally, try to co-opt the best ones. The ecosystem expands, and we all get better information in the end.

But not without messiness: The transition is already exposing fault lines in the business model that supported quality journalism in the latter half of the 20th century, as advertising revenues are separated from the actual journalism by businesses, such as eBay, that do a better job for advertisers and customers alike. That competition is more relevant to the future of newspapers and magazines than the journalistic competition, at least so far.

Comments (30)

"(Hey, I thought Democr... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"(Hey, I thought Democrats were supposed to be all for the little guy.)"

You'd have to have the intellectual development (or perhaps I should say, "lack thereof") of Lee, Hugh, or Mantis to believe something as stupid as that. Unless you believe multi-millionaire trial lawyers, union bosses, and corporate fat cats are "little guys", then it would be true.

"I thought Democrats wer... (Below threshold)

"I thought Democrats were supposed to be all for the little guy"

Awww, Lorie's concerned about the "little guy" lobbyists? That's right -- "lobbyists" is the word Lorie conveniently avoided, and instead couched this as as an attack on the "little guy". Wow, Maybe Little Guy Lobbyists (LGL tm) are already at work talking to bloggers, passing out $5 McDondald's gift cards perhaps? (after all - it's a grassroots thing).

Yeah, no surprise that the Republicans would leap to the defense of small lobbyists, since they've done so well over the last 12 years with the fat cat lobbyists lining their pockets.

But then, what's to stop the Republicans and the big fat cat lobbying interests from just forming small grassroot lobbying efforts, in order to circumvent the current McCain Feingold rules and other laws that govern lobbyists?

Pelosi and the Democrats, armed with a mandate from the voters, and the resulting HR 4682, that's what!

The words below belong to Mark Tapscott, the first writer Lorie linked to, who is an employee of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, but the emphasis is mine.

The key provision of the 2006 bill was its redefinition of grassroots lobbying to include small citizens groups whose messages about Congress and public policy issues are directed toward the general public, according to attorneys for the Free Speech Coalition.

The ability of a large group like, say.. the GOP, to encourage and foster the formation of smaller "citizen groups" in order to get around lobbying restrictions is what HR. 4682 addresses. It should come as no surprise that the lobbyists, and their protectors the Republicans, would be concerned about this. The Heritage Foundation's Tapscott is concerned (emphasis mine).

All informational and educational materials produced by such groups would have to be registered and reported on a quarterly basis. Failure to report would result in severe civil penalties (likely followed soon by criminal penalties as well).

In addition, the 2006 bill created a new statutory category of First Amendment activity to be regulated by Congress. Known as "grassroots lobbying firms," these groups would be required to register with Congress and be subject to penalties whenever they are paid $50,000 or more to communicate with the general public during any three-month period.

In other words, for the first time in American history, potentially millions of concerned citizens involved in grassroots lobbying and representing viewpoints from across the entire political spectrum would have to register with Congress in order to exercise their First Amendment rights.

What a minute, Mark - it's the members of small lobbying organizations that have to register, not all individual citizens interested in expressing their First Amendment rights. Apparently Mark's play on words was enough to fool Lorie into believing this is a First Amendment issue (or maybe Lorie is interested in protecting small lobbyists?), but this is not an "attack on the little guy", in any case.

Here's the important snippet from Mark's last sentence again:

...potentially millions of concerned citizens involved in grassroots lobbying...

Yes! Just like concerned citizen lobbyists connected with big lobbying organizations have to register and regulated, so would the lobbyists from small lobbying organizations, if HR 4682 is successful. No wonder Pelosi is under attack on this.

Yes, that's right. Little lobbyists would have to register and regulated just like big lobbyists! It's about time this truck-sized loophole in the law was closed... but the fact that conservatives are openly advocating and supporting lobbyists tells you exactly what you need to know.

- Despite the mandate from the public to stop the graft and corruption in Congress the greedy Republicans want to continue "business as usual"...

- Attempts to regulate (not stop, but regulate) small lobbyists as well as big lobbyists will be attacked as a "First Amendment" issue.

Don't you just love the way greedy lobbyists find ways to spread there culture of graft and corruption around, despite the expressed voter's will to the contrary? Lobbying interests and their protectors are wrapping themselves with the Constitution in order to avoid additional lobbing restrictions.... as if they even care about the Constitution and the rights of the people in the first place.

Lee you forgot to cut and p... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Lee you forgot to cut and paste this part:

"There is even more bad news here, though, because the Pelosi-Claybrook proposal includes loopholes big enough to protect Big Labor, Big Corporations and Big Nonprofits, as well as guys with Big Wallets like George Soros. Big Government, you see, always takes care of its big friends."

Sure, only Republicans care about protecting lobbysts. Yeah, right. Uh huh. Sure.

BOTH Republicans and "Democrats" are owned by the "big guys". Maybe different ones, but big money is the only thing politicians really listen too. You're a complete idiot if you think otherwise.

Since, I'm a liberal and th... (Below threshold)
Baby-Eating Liberal:

Since, I'm a liberal and therefore some kind of idiot, I'll talk real slow-like to make sure I understand you.

So, lobbying firms that are being paid to buy the votes of federal representatives, will now have to register with the Congress in order to continue buying the votes of federal representatives.

The only exception is lobbying firms that are paid less than $50K will be exempt, although since they are so pitifully endowed, couldn't have much sway.

However, they don't have to register with the Congress.

So, I don't quite see how this hurts >50K paid lobbying groups, since they can continue to do exactly what they are doing right now, only they need the sheet of paper that says 'we exist and are a lobbying group'.

I also don't see how this hurts the _actual_ grass roots groups, the ones that can't afford K Street offices, since they don't have to... you know... do anything different.

(Hey, I thought Democrats w... (Below threshold)

(Hey, I thought Democrats were supposed to be all for the little guy.)

Compared to republicans, that's totally true.

Compared to non-politicians, it well never be true, for either party.

Corporatists run both parties. Thankfully the republicans have distinguished themselves as extremely willing corporate fellators by pushing through Bankruptcy, Medicare Drug Plan, and oil executive welfare legislation. Items that most democrats (aside from the corporatists like Biden (D-MBNA)) opposed. So now we can do away with all the "they're both the same in the end" thinking that screwed Gore vis-a-vis Nader in Florida. Those silly hippies had no idea how bad things get when republicans have unchecked power compared to democrats.

Liberals = "Do as I say, no... (Below threshold)

Liberals = "Do as I say, not as I do, because we're so much better and smarter than you"

"Compared to republican... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"Compared to republicans, that's totally true."

Bullshit ME. They are at least the same, and a valid argument could be made that the Republicans are a lot better in this respect.

At least the corporations that own the Republicans contribute many valuable things to society. Look around you right now. Pretty much everything you see, be it in your home, or office, or anywhere else was made by some corporation. So is pretty much all the food you eat and the clothes your wearing. Even the building itself. Surely the computer your typing on was.

The trial lawyers, union bosses, and idle rich that own the "democrats" contribute nothing or next to nothing to society yet the TAKE a great deal of resources and gather them onto themselves. Take another look around you. Everything that you see, eat, wear, drive, etc. is 25-50% more expensive than it should have been and that money is going entirely to the worthless people who own the "democrats". Yeah it really helps poor people to have to pay and additional $4000 per year for essentials due to the cost of law suits that make everything more expensive.

And the democrats aid, and encourage this. They are far, far worse than the Republicans. Orders of magnitude worse.

Pull your heads out of your butts Lee and ME and try and see the WHOLE TRUTH for a change.

I see our usual leftist sus... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

I see our usual leftist suspects have jumped in to explain why it's OK as long as it's Democrats doing it.

Huh? P Bunyan has obviousl... (Below threshold)

Huh? P Bunyan has obviously been into the strong stuff this morning.

OK, I'm looking around me an am seeing things like: out of control drug prices, particularly for those who can least afford them. Thanks Big Pharm! Sky high energy costs across the board coupled with record shattering energy company profits. You Go Big Oil/Energy! A foreign policy driven by the need to maintain a constant war against Eurasia (or is it Oceania?) to feed the ravenous military industrial hegemony complex. Go Halliburton! Go KBR! Carlyle Group Rules! Just a few of the predominantly Repub-supported special interests driving this country into ruin.

I couldn't agree more that we have become an overly litiginous society and would support measures to control this problem. I'm curious about how you came up with the "25-50% more expensive" figure. I hope you're wearing a glove when you reach up there! It's just the kool-aid talking to suggest that Republican corporate interests are somehow more benign. It's this kind of blind partisanship that has us in the mess we're in today.

I'm more than willing to acknowledge that influence peddling has become rampant in both parties. If the new Congress can do something to cure this malignancy that has perverted our form of government, it will be the most beneficial thing legislated in the last two decades. Just don't try and minimize the most conspicuous and harmful greed merchants just because they wear the same uniform you do.

P. Bunyan, a "valid" argume... (Below threshold)
Teh INTErnetz:

P. Bunyan, a "valid" argument must be deductively true. Your argument is an inductive one. Inductive arguments are more or less persuasive, but never "valid", i.e. "If A, then B; A, therefore B". Please use words correctly and/or think harder. Thank you!

Hey "grouchy" you sound jus... (Below threshold)

Hey "grouchy" you sound just like old "pucker puss" (lee lee) and also must have a "ditto" key on your board. ("ditto" key is a key on all far lefties's keyboard that contains all the demo's talking points). Over and over and ov-------.

Thanks, j, coming from you ... (Below threshold)

Thanks, j, coming from you that's quite a compliment. As for my keyboard, it's just a plain old all-American version, same as everbody else has.

"Just don't try and min... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"Just don't try and minimize the most conspicuous and harmful greed merchants just because they wear the same uniform you do."

Funny you should say that groucho, considering your entire post was doing just that.

You lefties just think your conspicious and harmful greed merchants are actually benign. Oh, how blissful it must be to be a member of the fabricated reality based community... (Ignorace is bliss, after all.)

"out of control drug prices" Thanks mostly to trial lawyers and democrats.

"Sky high energy costs across the board" Thanks mostly to democrats blocking domestic oil exploration and development of refineries.

Yes, my 25-50% figure is a guess, it could be a lot more. I'd bet if anyone really tried to calculate how much you lefty leaches really cost society that person would end up like these people did.

P. Bunyan, mind checking th... (Below threshold)

P. Bunyan, mind checking this information out and let me know who the real "leaches" are.


If you can read, that is. You certainly can't write.

Since I'm certain you'll ju... (Below threshold)

Since I'm certain you'll just dismiss my source, here's another link.


Eventually, every person wh... (Below threshold)

Eventually, every person who writes their Congresscritter will have to register as a "lobbyist."

Angryflower,Perhap... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:


Perhaps you have the reading problem. You certainly have a reading comprehension problem if you think those websites you linked to in any way refute my argument.

(And if you waste time reading disingenuous, hate-filled, socialist-regressive sites like the first one you posted, I can see why you're angry.)

Let my try and explain why your charts actually support my side of the argument. I'll try to make this as simple as possible so even someone with a lefty's level of comprehension can understand...

The "blue" states have lots and lots of wealthy people. That's why they support democrats, as the democrats favor the wealthy much more so than do the Republicans. The weathier a state is, the more tax dollars they pay to Washington. The red states have lots and lots of middle class and poorer people. That's whay they support Republicans, as the Republicans somewhat favor the middle class and definitley favor the poor more than the democrats (who would prefer that such people stay poor). Since the "red" states are not as wealthy as the "blue" democrat states they pay less in federal taxes.

Now when the federal pot is doled out more or less equally between all the states, the poorer states ("red" or Republican states) will receive more than they put in and the wealthy states ("blue" or democrat states) will receive less.

I think that is a good thing and is the way it should be. Appently based on your post and on the website you linked too, you democrats think the rich should get more and the poor and middle class should be screwed, which is the point I've been trying to make all along.

I love it when you lefties ignorantly support my side of the argument while attempting to support your own socialist-regressive opinions.

"Eventually, every perso... (Below threshold)

"Eventually, every person who writes their Congresscritter will have to register as a "lobbyist."

Glad to see the "Moron Minority" have their new lobbyist busy at work. Congrats on the new gig JohnAnnArbor.

man, I LOVE this blog! onl... (Below threshold)

man, I LOVE this blog! only here can the argument be made with any seriousness at all that because the republicans are largely elected from poorer states, the republicans, therefore, SUPPORT THE POOR! this is incredible, INCREDIBLE logic! yes, indeed, with all this support Alabama is becoming a better and more prosperous state ALL THE TIME! religiosity, education level and ignorance have NOTHING to do with it! i love you guys- this is a humor site, right? in what way, exactly, is it that the republicans support the poor? i ask for only one.

hey Jo-are only libe... (Below threshold)

hey Jo-
are only liberals the hypocrites? what about conservative christians? ted haggard, anyone, hmmmmmmmmm????? ain't that the pot just calling the kettle black, my friend.

lovingDubya... if you clic... (Below threshold)

lovingDubya... if you click on the "these people" link in one of Bunyan's above posts you will gain further insight into what often passes for logic on this site.

"lovingdubya" sounds like h... (Below threshold)

"lovingdubya" sounds like he is from the "bay" area.

very original, jhow66. imp... (Below threshold)

very original, jhow66. implying i'm gay is a brilliant response. what's next, your dad can beat up my dad? i am neither gay nor from the bay. i am assuming you are from the closet, however. i am waiting for the one way the republicans support the poor. surely there must be one after all the bold claims from this site.

Ahem.Thank you so ... (Below threshold)


Thank you so much, John McCain. You are the reason we are in this muck today.

Righties: [and yes, lefties are in this too,]
If you can restrict the expenditure of private funds for advocacy, can you restrict the expenditure of private funds for firearms?

Lefties: Ditto, for abortion? Can we restrict a woman's choice to spend money on an abortion, while at the same time asserting that none of her rights has been abridged?

The assertion that these steps to regulate political speech are somehow allowable because they don't abridge those rights is one of the main legal [and here we speak loosely already] frauds being perpetrated in recent years.

Look, it's really clear. Congress shall make no law, etc. [paste function fouling up, dammit.]

In what way, exactly, is requiring people to REGISTER so they can spend money on political speech NOT in violation of the first amendment?..

Anyone? Anyone? And if anyone thinks it's in the compelling national interest to restrict speech for purposes of curbing corruption, well, there's nothing i can do about that except to hope they note the inherent contradiction. Less citizen oversight=less corruption. Fantastic. Good job. The republic is grateful.

Yes, money=speech. It also =firearms, =abortion, =property, it is a precursor to material life and material rights in this great country. My 50$ won't get me a TV commercial, but it might get me a membership in the NRA or NOW, but then again, my vote won't get me the president i like, but it might (or might not) help. There are already anti-corruption statues on the books... enforce them.

Sorry, it's late and I'm starting to ramble.
But I need to get up early so I can register this post with the local authorities.

If Sen. McCain wanted to enjoy the tender mercies of fascism and state thought police, he could have stayed in Hanoi. Importing those values to this country does nothing for wingnuts, moonbats, or anybody except the elite class.


I see no free speech issue ... (Below threshold)

I see no free speech issue here at all. Personally, if a group is spending more than 50K to educate/inform me or otherwise change my thinking I'd like to know what they're up to and why. Is it a "grassroots" organization protecting the local watershed or is it really a group bankrolled by the International Brotherhood of Liars and Profiteers who want you to elect another soulless moron who will do their bidding. As I understand it, this law would do nothing to restrict what's being said, only to shed sufficient light on the speaker.

Frankly I'm real tired of the government deciding what we in the public should or shouldn't know. I'm for less secrecy, more transparency all the way; maybe we could call it something like....a "representative" government. Yeah, that's the ticket...

lovingDubya,I know... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:


I know you SR's consider it blasphemy to question your religious dogma, but in this case your dogma, that democrats do more for the poor than Republicans, is clearly false. Someone once said "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime". I'm not sure who first coined that quote but I bet it was a true liberal not one of you socialist regressives who call yourselves liberals. That quote pretty much sums up the philosophies of the two parties towards the poor. The democrats want to give them fish, the Republicans want to teach them how to fish. You lefties may think the former is the best solution. I think the later is the best solution and the poor that I work with every day seem to agree with me.

I will however agree with you that there is plenty of hypocracy on the right side as long as you don't deny that there's plenty on the left.


I was using the "those people" link to show people who had suffered mysterious untimely deaths. The fact that all the people on that list had information that could have damaged St. Bill was merely coincidental. Now a logical person might begin to wonder why 40 or so people who had the goods on St. Bill and seemed about to spill the beans suddenly suffered untimely demises, but I wouldn't expect any logic from a socialist regressive like yourself.


I couldn't agree with you more. It was wrong when McCain & Feingold did it and what Comrade Nancy wants to do is just as wrong. Free speech must not be regulated under any circumstances.

Still this discussion diverted from that topic because of Lorie correctly pointing out the fallacy in leftist dogma that the democrats are all for the little guy.

P. Bunyan-Where did ... (Below threshold)

P. Bunyan-
Where did I say anything about the Democrats? I only ask for one example of the Republicans helping the poor. You certainly bring a lot of assumptions about how I think to the table- who are you to call me a Socialist Regressive?

lovingDubya,I sinc... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:


I sincerely apologize for assuming you were a member of the far left (a socialist regressive), if you in fact are not. You post just appeared that way to me.

And I did miss your request for an example but here's a few off the top of my head:

Renaissance Zones
Lower Taxes
Litigation Reform
School Vouchers
Personal Social Security Accounts

I know that not all of these things have passed into law, but that's not for lack of the Republicans trying -- it's do to democrat obstruction.

If I really put my mind to it, I could come up with many many more examples, but it still all boils down to teaching people to fish vs. giving them fish

"Personally, if a group is ... (Below threshold)

"Personally, if a group is spending more than 50K to educate/inform me or otherwise change my thinking I'd like to know what they're up to and why."

How small-government of you.
Dkos supporters?
RedState supporters?

By all means, if someone spends fifty-k+ on political speech, make them register.

Which means, by the way, basically running a television commercial or a couple days' worth of half-page ads in the NYT.

Yes, by all means, bring the government bureaucrates into the finances of DailyKos and RedState! That will cure the problem!

For example, the notorious Jack Abramoff! And William Jefferson! They would not have existed had we required these blogs (and wizbang might also qualify, not sure about that one,) to REGISTER WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT before excercising their first-admendment rights!

"Personally, if a group is spending more than 50K to educate/inform me or otherwise change my thinking I'd like to know what they're up to and why."

You and Kim Jong Il, fella.

There is a divergence revealed here.

If there is a group spending more than that amount, and you DON'T like the extent of their transparency... hold your breath here... don't listen! Or better yet, speak against them! Hold a rally, tell a neighbor, excersise your own rights! Do research at your local library or on the internet! Call your newspaper!

But no, these options are too arduous for you, apparently. Better to let the state tell you which groups are acceptable, which speech is allowed. We certainly don't want groups out there who might say something, if we can't know exactly what they're up to! Matter of fact, I want to see disclosure clauses on ballots! Let's make sure we know in whose interests the citizens are voting!

You make me sick, you lazy prick. If there's speech out there, there are better ways to fight it than simply crying for the government to come and control it at gunpoint.

Your bleating carries the unmistakable, cringing tone of one who, thinking his voice unheard, would strangle ours as well. Well, fuck you, sunshine. We'll not be having that.

I hope.

Right, guys?

"Since, I'm a liberal and t... (Below threshold)

"Since, I'm a liberal and therefore some kind of idiot, I'll talk real slow-like to make sure I understand you."

If you are talking really slow, how is that going to help you understand? My suggestion? Stop talking and start listening. Listening usually helps you understand far better than talking does.






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