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The Grassroots Blogging Provision's Real Purpose 227

ICantFindADecentNick writes "The Register carries a report on the defeat of Section 220 of the reform bill (the grassroots provision). In an all-too-familiar scene, bloggers, Slashdot readers and several news outlets were taken in by the hype surrounding a provision in the Senate ethics reform bill that would have required grassroots lobbying firms to register with the US Congress. To be fair, some commenters did see through the deception but the campaign, organized by Richard Viguerie, still succeeded. From the article: 'Viguerie, for those not familiar with the tarnished panoply of backroom players in American politics, pioneered the use of direct mail techniques for conservative causes, and has been called the "funding father" of the modern conservative movement. His ad agency currently handles direct mail campaigns for non-profits seeking to stimulate grassroots activity or raise funds from the general public.'" This is, of course, The Register. Still interesting to look back at the news from another point of view.
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The Grassroots Blogging Provision's Real Purpose

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  • Re:right... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:05AM (#17722846)
    "it also makes me wonder how many posters here are paid shills of a misinformation campaign"

    Well, those are exactly the people this bill would have regulated, so it seems pretty likely that they do exist (here and on most large forums).

    A lot of Americans have been living in a fantasy world lately, where the rich and powerful are there to do good and benevolently oversee us plebes. If they open their eyes, though, they'll see commercial databanks whose sole purpose is to spy on us and sell whatever is discovered, a government which purchases this data in order to bypass laws against domestic spying, and a gargantuan propaganda machine which convinces everyone it's no big deal -- in fact, convinces everyone it's necessary. It would be downright naive to think that Slashdot is immune to the same sorts of underhanded marketing tactics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:18AM (#17722986)
    Just for reference, political statements (i.e., burning the flag, ranting on your blog) are heavily shielded by the First Amendment. Political statements paid for by a campaign to get someone elected are NOT heavily shielded by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has upheld that fact again and again.

    They have? Cite one example.

    The Federalist Papers were funded by quantifiable donations (either by newspapers donating space to print them or by people donating money to distribute them) and they were used to promote political change. Would they not qualify today for 1st amendment protections?

    "Congress shall make no law..." means Congress shall make no law.
  • So, in list form: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wilson_6500 ( 896824 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:24AM (#17723070)
    1) Senate proposes bill. Bill contains provisions that businesses will probably not like, but Senate feels pressure to do so from the public (?).

    2) Influential conservative stirs up "public opinion" against bill's provisions.

    3) Bill's provision is struck. Senate cites "will of the people" and shrugs. Senate gets to say "we tried, you didn't want it." Businesses keep astroturing. Everyone wins except the public who, as always, loses.

    Just how often are the provisions of bills being discussed in Congress truly struck out because the people got wind of what was going on and spoke out--without some mouthpiece or rein-holding group to speak "for" us, or some vague poll number or other inaccurate metric telling the Congressfolks what we think, or some massive letter-writing campaign by just 2000 very angry people?
  • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:27AM (#17723094) Homepage
    Who exactly were the Federalist Papers trying to get elected again?
  • Re:right... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:50AM (#17723334)
    Yes. I was actually in a position in which I was quoting and citing large sections of the bill, only to have people dispute that that was what the bill said, despite my source being the Library of Congress. Some stupid astroturfer's press release was given as large, if not larger, a sway as THE ACTUAL BILL.
  • I smell a rat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:43PM (#17724666) Homepage Journal
    I don't have a completely fixed opinion on the astoturfing bill except that is was vauge and thus dangerous, but apparently the IRS is getting into the same game so there is more going on I think: [].

    I think you need to be logged in to see this link.

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