The Constitution puts faith in the Congress, trusting Congressmen to police themselves. Unfortunately, Congressmen have shown time and time again that that's something they are unwilling or unable to do.  The investigation of Mark Foley's pedophilia will not be any different unless the House establishes an independent ethics commission to serve this constitutionally mandated role.  Reports that there was a cover-up of Foley's habits are already circulating. To top it off, Dennis Hastert (R- IL) has personally handpicked members of the current Ethics Committee. This committee has not and obviously will not investigate anything thoroughly and seriously.  U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) recognizes this, and is calling for an independent ethics commission.

In his own words, "It should now be readily apparent that Congress is utterly incapable of investigating itself. The House leadership should take this matter out of the hands of the Ethics Committee and appoint an independent ethics commission comprised of well-respected leaders who the American people can trust to put their country before partisan politics." (October 5, 2006)

Common Cause is also calling for an independent commission. Please sign the Common Cause petition by following the link: cacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b =2114965

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Demos/Common Cause Lecture in NYC

I'm giving the Demos Forum / NY Common Cause Archibald Cox Memorial Lecture today (Tuesday) between 12:15-1:45 pm at Demos in NYC.  I'll talk about issues from Stealing Democracy:  The New Politics of Voter Suppression. The event is free and open to the public--please stop by and say hello.  For more info click here.

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The Right-wing Seeks to Take Your Internet

You can follow this in detail on Public Knowledge's blog or on the special section of Ed Markey's site dedicated to Net Neutrality.

Remember this interview with Edward Whiteacre, the CEO of SBC Communications?

How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google (GOOG), MSN, Vonage, and others?

How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?

The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! (YHOO) or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!

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Republican Prize Wife John McCain

Despite the progressive blogosphere's best efforts, liberals still love John McCain. This is meaningful, because without relatively high approval ratings among Democrats John McCain wouldn't be considered a strong candidate in 2008 and he wouldn't have a reformer mantle.  But why is it that John McCain is so beloved?  Well, one reason is that he has a lot of allies on the left, allies such as Common Cause, Democracy 21, and a whole host of 'reformer' groups interested in small process issues that find him useful as bipartisan arm candy.  For these groups, McCain is an easy ticket to bipartisanship, and though their sympathies lean left, their actions do not.  In local papers, in the news, on the cocktail circuit, these groups promote John McCain, because promoting him means promoting their image as bipartisan reformers.  This raises his numbers among liberals who tend to like good government groups.

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Regulating the Internet and An Affirmative Value of Freedom

Adam Bonin has done stellar work on the FEC and campaign finance reform - now the House is considering HR 1606, the online freedom of speech act, as well as a competing bill from 'the reformers'.  I have gotten behind 1606, and it's because I believe in the ideology of the netroots.

Common Cause sent an email out a few days ago asking its members to not allow a soft money loophole on the internet by supporing its own competitive legislation.  It had a scaremongering subject line, as good direct mail pieces should.  I respect this group for what they've done to fight corruption.  I respect them for their dedication, and I like what they fight on and how they fight on it.  Nevertheless, Common Cause was founded in the 1970s, and today we have a government that is more corrupt and money-dominated than it has ever been.  In other words, I think new strategies other than 'restrict!  restrict!  restrict!' are in order.

There are two ways to deal with corruption, and one is to attempt to limit the actions of citizens and corporations.  The other is to encourage participation so that citizens themselves check each other. That is my ideology.  I believe in participation and organization, because it works.  Freedom works.  It's pragmatic.  I don't want to restrict, I want more.  The answer to bad speech is more speech, not less.

That's why I'm behind HR 1606.

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