Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.”     Lysander Spooner

March 15, 2006

A Tale of Two Bills

by Brad Warbiany

Using the near-impossibility that any bill entitled “ethics reform” will be rebuked, House members have proposed campaign finance restrictions be rolled into ethics reform:

House Republicans launched an election-year drive Wednesday to rein in political groups that operate with looser restraints than candidates and their parties, an attempt to blunt the activities of liberals such as billionaire George Soros.

Wealthy supporters, who make donations of $1 million or more to such groups, could contribute no more than $30,000 under the legislation, according to Republican officials. The organizations would be subject to more frequent disclosure requirements.

House Republicans indicated late last year that they wanted to limit the activities of loosely regulated political organizations, trying unsuccessfully to attach legislation to a must-pass bill setting overall policy for the military. They retreated under bipartisan fire.

At the time, the chairman of the House GOP campaign committee said the effort was designed to close “a loophole that is allowing big donor money into the process.”

How did freedom of speech become a “loophole”? Is that similar to how when they give us a tax cut, they count that as an “expenditure”? It used to be that individual rights were something inherent, and which were not to be infringed by the government. Now they’ve taken the stance that they’re the arbiters of all that exists, and they’ll parcel out to us those rights which they think we’re worthy of being granted.

The Bipartisan Incumbent Protection Act of 2003 is designed for one thing, and one thing only: to keep the message in the hands of people that don’t want to rock the boat. But as with anything, when there is that much power at stake, people will find a way to be heard, and 527 organizations fit the bill. Yet from a government standpoint, it was at least an improvement. While they couldn’t silence everyone, they were able to make sure all except the very powerful remained quiet. The powerful have an incentive to keep the status quo, lest they lose their power.

But some voices are bucking the trend. George Soros* has an established fortune (i.e. little fear of losing it, being fired, etc), and an agenda. To our government, Soros is simply too unpredictable and uncontrollable to be allowed to continue operating. They are desperately trying to continue their ability to control the message, and will take down the “whales” of political donations if necessary.

When you see that, you wonder whether our Congressman really want any part of the Online Freedom of Speech Act, set to come up for a vote tomorrow:

Redstate: We’ve been working for a long time on HR 1606 – The Online Freedom of Speech Act. It will come up for a vote on the floor of the House TOMORROW but as you read this – the campaign regulation community is hard at work – working the halls of Congress, lying about not only our bill – but “their” bill as well. And as far as their intentions go – well, I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to THEM bragging about protecting free speech – they are not to be trusted.

Of all the work you’ve done on this issue – no day is more important that today. Start with this list. Call the Republicans that wobbled last time 1606 was on the floor. And don’t stop there.

Congress doesn’t want bloggers speaking freely. They accept us grudgingly, although I’ll bet some of the lesser known folks on the hard-right, hard-left, or libertarian ends of the spectrum giving them assistance (as I think the blogosphere tends to be populated by ends of the spectrum, rather than the middle). But the vast majority see us as a threat. They saw the Patterico Pledge, and they understand the power of the press, even if it is simply online self-publishing.

It’s a sad day when freedom of speech has become a battleground. But it’s a battle we cannot afford to lose. Liberty must constantly be guarded, as there are always forces ready to snatch it away. Let’s make sure that if it goes, it goes with a bang, not a whimper.


*Obviously I have serious ideological opposition to George Soros’ positions. He does have just the same rights to speak as everyone else, and I don’t support discriminating against him simply because he’s wealthy.

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3 Comments

  1. [...] I have a post up on The Liberty Papers regarding HR 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act. If you want to see how Congress is talking out of both sides of their mouth when it comes to freedom of speech, check it out. [...]

    Pingback by The Unrepentant Individual » Online Freedom of Speech Act — March 15, 2006 @ 8:22 pm
  2. [...] I posted about how important of a vote this was on Wednesday, in anticipation of it happening yesterday. Looks like the vote didn’t happen, and the House isn’t in session today. According to the schedule, this should be the first order of business on Monday. [...]

    Pingback by The Unrepentant Individual » Online Freedom of Speech Act — Delayed? — March 17, 2006 @ 8:14 am
  3. [...] I posted about how important of a vote this was on Wednesday, in anticipation of it happening yesterday. Looks like the vote didn’t happen, and the House isn’t in session today. According to the schedule, this should be the first order of business on Monday. [...]

    Pingback by The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive » Online Freedom of Speech Act — Delayed? — March 17, 2006 @ 8:15 am

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