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March 08, 2005


Jim Glass

"Well, the blogosphere scored a success with McCain-Feingold,"

Victory? Or are McC-F just going into "don't blame us!" CYA mode as preparation for when the Commission comes to register and fingerprint you, DeLong, Kos, Atrios, Mr. Baseball Crank...

[See the Commissioner's opinion on this in the comments next post down.]


Fingerprint me? I'll give 'em a finger to print, all right.


First, courts often rule that legislation means something different than that intended by its sponsors, whose personal intend (as opposed to the more voluminous legislative record) counts for nothing. Second, the press release dodges the point, which is that the press enjoys certain exemptions under McCain-Feingold. Do bloggers get them, or not? As with the shield laws, the serious bloggers are forcing a question that has long been substantially dodged: Does the First Amendment create only rights, or does it also describe a special class of citizens who have more rights than others? And even if the answer is that it describes no separate class, ought we designate one through legislation in the interests of more transparent government?



Sadly (from my point of view) I don't think Karl needed a stealth approach since there are enough Dems willing to vote for this bill.

Cecil Turner

"And even if the answer is that it describes no separate class, ought we designate one through legislation in the interests of more transparent government?"

I expect you've already seen this, but the recent Miller-Cooper decision had an interesting analysis of the state of "shield" laws:

The state legislatures have dealt with this vexing question of entitlement to the privilege in a variety of ways. Some are quite restrictive. Alabama limits its protection to “person[s] engaged in, connected with, or employed on any newspaper, radio broadcasting station or television station, while engaged in a newsgathering capacity.” ALA. CODE § 12-21-142. Alaska’s statutes protect only the “reporter,” a category limited to “person[s] regularly engaged in the business of collecting or writing news for publication or presentation to the public, through a news organization.” ALASKA STAT. § 09.25.300. The statutory privilege in Arizona protects “a person engaged in newspaper, radio, television or reportorial work, or connected with or employed by a newspaper or radio or television station . . . .” ARIZ. REV. STAT. § 12-2237. Arkansas’s legislature has declared the privilege applicable to “any editor, reporter, or other writer for any newspaper, periodical, or radio station, or publisher of any newspaper or periodical, or manager or owner of any radio station . . . .” ARK. CODE ANN. § 16-85-510. Delaware is perhaps the most specific, protecting a “reporter” . . .

I'm amazed (and somewhat relieved) you managed to spell "galling" without the "u".


I'm amazed (and somewhat relieved) you managed to spell "galling" without the "u".

We battle temptation on a daily basis.


there are enough Dems willing to vote for this bill.

I am intrigued by, across the blogosphere, we did not really see folks rallying behind this, yet it will pass anyway.

I saw a Times article today (Wed) where Duffy, speaking for the WH, gave the very classic economist's argument - tougher bankruptcy laws make credit *more* available for working class and low-income families.

And I suppose one might argue that some of the Dem populist add-ons, such as the amendment to limit abusive asset sheltering trusts for rich folks, are not really what is driving the loss rate in the credit card industry. (So what are these trusts for? Beats me - doctors who don't buy malpractice insurance?)

I will say that the whole discussion seemed to take place in two days, and was quite superficial - not the blogosphere's finest hour at all.

Or maybe I just did not look hard enough. Certainly possible, but that takes us back to, where was the outrage?

This incident (or the class-action scenario last month) might merit the sort of after-action review people gave the Eason Jordan / James Guckert stories. Power of the blogosphere - real or imagined?

Hmm. Having typed that idea, I sort of like it. Anyone who wants, feel free to steal it. Mention to me that you are stealing it, and maybe I will help with the research.


Some folks were all over this thing:

TJ Jackson

Yawn, outrage over enforcement of bankruptcy laws? The outrage of holding people accountable for their actions? This is the nation that is desecended from the brave men and women who braved the frontier? Whinning about credit card rates and bankruptcy enforcement?

Pardon me while I puke.


Some folks were all over this thing:

The *first* entry I see for Josh Marshall is March 6. That makes my point - you can't stop a bill one or two days before it is coming to a vote.

Here is some Times coverage:

February 18, 2005 Quick, Early Gains Embolden Business Lobby on Capitol Hill By STEPHEN LABATON

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 - These are heady days on Capitol Hill for business lobbyists. Just as the House of Representatives was completing work on one measure sought by some of the most powerful business lobbyists - which would sharply restrict class-action lawsuits brought against companies - the Senate began work on a second measure, to overhaul the bankruptcy system. It has long been sought by major banks, credit card companies and retailers and has its strongest chance of quick passage in years. It now heads to the Senate floor as soon as the members return from their recess in early March.

March 3, 2005
Bankrupt Bankruptcy Bill

With their strengthened majority, Senate Republicans have high hopes of finally legislating more stringent demands on harried credit-card consumers who seek relief through personal bankruptcy.

March 2, 2005
Proposed Law on Bankruptcy Has Loophole

(This is about the asset protections trusts, and we learn that:

"Asset protection trusts have become increasingly popular in recent years among physicians, who fear large medical malpractice awards, and corporate executives, whose assets are at greater peril now because of new laws. The Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, for example...

Bill to Limit Bankruptcy Moves Forward in Senate

Published: March 1, 2005

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 - Legislation sought by major banks and credit card companies that would make it more difficult for consumers to discharge their debts in personal bankruptcy made its way to the floor of the Senate on Monday, as some Democrats vowed to try to defeat or water down the measure.

And those were the highlights in the Times. Now, the key point of the Feb 18 story is that the Senate just started work on the bill then. Since the bill has been hanging around for years, I guess no one held out for lengthy hearings (and three Dems on the Finance Committee helped send it on its way to the floor.)


Atrios seems to have perked up on March 6, but he also makes a good point:

it was an absolute miracle when it failed to pass the last time, and we had more senators then.

That must be the 2000 Senate, with a Clnton pocket veto.


Kevin Drum picked this up on March 4/5


Permalink to March 3 editorial.

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