Nancy Pelosi Orwell: The lady likes control

What kind of “liberals” are these? What sort of “transparency” is this?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Lady Liberty herself, who has in the past made noises about regulating free speech on the internet, has decided that her colleagues in congress have too much free speech, and they should be reined in.

And California’s Sen. Diane Feinstein seems to be cooking up a similar idea in the Senate.

How do people, supposedly committed to the first amendment and to free speech, discuss managing and controlling the communications of the people they’re supposed to be working with, “together” to “serve the nation”?

How does a conversation like that go?

Pelosi: We need to update our communications rules, to include new factors like blogs, internets, etc.

Feinstein: Probably a good idea to do a little housekeeping.

Pelosi: Yes, here’s our proposal.

Oh, yeah. Looks pretty innocuous. Just making sure that Congressman use approved channels for the dissemination of their thoughts and issues. What could be more tidy and careful?

Pelosi: (Smiling) Sure. You know, we can’t have our enemies -errr, our “colleages” just putting stuff up on YouTube; it’s not dignified.

Feinstein: Approved channels will have their own rules, of course. We can’t just allow anyone to throw any old thing up on the approved channels. They’ll need monitoring and oversight, to make sure that only absolute facts get out the public.

Pelosi: (Smiling wider) Yes, I’d thought of that. And facts, as you know, are such subjective things. Your truth and my truth might not be the exact same thing, and a Repulican’s truth would certainly be very different from either of ours; everything is relative. So it will be very important for some sort of oversight committee to either approve, disapprove or censor- um, I mean edit – what goes out across that channel.

Feinstein: Well, you know, we have to be careful about this; some of our enemies, I mean our “colleages,” may say we’re trying to inhibit free speech and the free exchange of ideas. I think Culberson is already making noise along those lines.

Pelosi: Well, naturally, but he’s a Republican – full of paranoia and sour grapes, as are they all – the press will see it for the blather it is, and they’ll ignore it. We can have this thing passed while everyone is worrying about the high price of gasoline and home heating oil – no one will care.

Feinstein: And besides, those higher prices are for the nation’s own good.

Pelosi: Exactly, drilling won’t help us, and they’ll eventually come to realize it. But in the meantime, this internet thing is an urgent bit of house management. Our own “environmental concern,” so to speak.

Feinstein: (Chuckles) Let me add my thoughts for a similar move in the Senate! (via Ed Morrissey at Hot Air):

* Under their scheme, the Senate Rules Committee would become the Internet speech police for everyone in the Senate.
o It will be up to the committee to “sanction” which websites and forms of communication they deem appropriate.
o The Rules Committee thus gets to pick winners and losers among various websites in terms of which are appropriate for use.
* The Rules Committee would get to regulate communication through any site not ending in “,” which would include sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. [Admin - and Daily Kos, too, one would think]

* The Rules Committee would require senators to moderate “any public commentary” which would likely mean regulating comments on guest posts and YouTube videos, among other things.

I see we are thinking along the same lines.

Feinstein: Quite. Quality-Control is important.

Pelosi: Quality-Control is my middle name!

Feinstein: Mine’s Svetlana!

(Freestyle girlish chuckling)

Pelosi: But seriously, this needs to be done. Communications are too free-wheeling and it is important for both houses to have a sense of uniformity.

Feinstein: Uniformity! That’s Barack’s middle name!

Pelosi: You’re thinking “Unity!” Unity and Uniformity are very different things. The soprano and the baritone sing their duet with unity, but the little people in the chorus march in lockstep, er, uniformity!

Feinstein: Ah, opera! Being “a little Italian Grandma” you’d know about it!

Pelosi: And we needn’t worry about these new, innocuous and simple rules being abused by the GOP because after this election…

Feinstein: Permanent majority! I was just thinking the same thing! A left-leaning Democrat in the White House, Democrat majorities in the House and the Senate, a few new new SCOTUS judges named by President Obama. It will be a new day in America! Tomorrow belongs to the people!

Pelosi: Excuse me, comrade, I think you mean tomorrow belongs to me!

Feinstein: (frowns) And me! All of us.

Pelosi: (smiling again and pointing to herself) Speaker of the House. Third in line, baby. Tomorrow belongs to me.

Ed Morrissey, who got the bit in the blockquote through a source, asks some pertinent questions:

* Would this rule extend beyond comments to posts on the site?
o Would it affect Slatecard & BlogAds?
o How about something like The Ed Morrissey Show, which has a live chatroom? Would that have to be moderated?
* The Rules Committee would get to act as the “Content KGB” since it can require the removal of content in violation of Senate Rules. And who determines what’s in violation? The Rules Committee.
o There are no similar controls on any other form of communication with the public, such as publishing op-eds in newspapers or appearing on radio or television.
[Emphasis mine - Admin]

These “liberals” do not resemble the definition I was raised with. Free speech, free exchange of ideas and the unencumbered dissemination of information is – or was – supposed to be a given, back then. It was understood to be the foundation of all of our rights, and the lifeblood of the nation.

I guess I was raised by different sorts of liberals.

We’ve been hearing for the last 8 years about “the fascist George W. Bush” and how he has “destroyed civil rights” in this country – although no one can say quite how – but he’s never tried to shut people up the way these “liberals” have.

Mark Tapscott has more thoughts on this issue

The GOP countermeasure is discussed here

This seems worth making a few phone calls, to me. 202-224-3121

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  • orlin

    Anchoress — hi. Nothing like free speech eh! It doesn’t surprise me though. This type of underhanded restriction has been attempted before.

  • orlin

    Hey Anchoress — I somehow was not able to sign-on to comment the last few days and I can’t figure out what happened. But I’m back now :) Must be divine intervention – ha!

  • fporretto

    If torches-and-pitchforks time hasn’t yet arrived, it’s pretty damned close.

    I for one have had enough abridgements of my Constitutionally guaranteed rights to start groping for my musket. When federal legislators start talking this way, it’s time for a purge.

  • saveliberty

    Terrific post, Anchoress, thank you! But I will quibble with you on Orwell. Yes he was a socialist, but he was honest. He wrote about the excesses of socialism.

    Naming Pelosi as Orwell presumes a greater competence than she possesses.

    [Agreed, but I used it to make a point. "Big Sister Pelosi" didn't have the same zing. - admin]

  • newton

    Wait a sec! Doesn’t the First Amendment say that Congress cannot forbid freedom of speech or of the press? And yet this Congress wants to dare?

    I concur with Francis. I don’t know how to handle a musket, but I can sure use a baseball bat…

    Fire. Them. All!

  • saveliberty

    That works for me!

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  • saveliberty

    I forgot to ask whether you’ve seen this story by Captain Ed Morrissey. I think this is what provoked her and it’s a wonderful lexicon.

  • rcareaga

    Reading that imagined dialogue, A, I was on tenterhooks, fearing that at any moment you might run out of straw. I have since reproached myself for my faithlessness. Please regard some appropriately wry emoticon as having been inserted at the close here.

  • TheAnchoress

    Ah, admit it, lad, there’s no place quite like this place and even though you want to, you can’t stay away.

  • rcareaga

    True dat.

  • TheAnchoress

    And besides – we’ve endured 8 years of you guys telling us Bush is the out-and-out devil and most evil man on the planet, with accompanying paranoid scenarios. You’re in power now. You’ll have to learn how to take a good natured ribbing or appalling satire, and roll with a few punches, or you’ll never survive! I speak from experience.

  • rcareaga

    We have also spent the time insisting (whenever this point has been contended) that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on earth. This does not oblige us to agree that this is debatable when someone suggests that the Appalachians are higher than the Himalyas

  • TheAnchoress

    Ah, so we merely switch places now. Should the elections go your way, I get to tell you (for some time in the foreseeable future) that YOU are in denial.

    Except, really, that would bore me! I’ve never been much for spite.

  • Jean

    Oh, I shouldn’t have read this post before retiring. I got so riled up that I couldn’t sleep. It seems like the people who want to revive the Fairness Doctrine have no idea what the original looked like – because, irony of ironies, it was set up to ENSURE free speech! And journalists. real journalists who went to j-school, should be HOWLING at the very idea of it.

    In fact, I got so riled up, I started typing a brief history for your readers. Then I realized it wasn’t brief and I’d be bloghogging the combox. So I posted it at my site, here:

    I hope it’s not rude to post my URL here. I’m not sure how to trackback or stuff like that, but I posted the link to your post in the text of mine. If I did it wrong, feel free to cyberpunch me in the nose! :)

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