Monday, May 7, 2007

Internet Freedom and Internet Independence 2008

AFP report by US Correspondent Linda Milazzo

The resounding moment of truth during Thursday's Reagan-raptured debate came when Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul said he preferred Internet reporting to mainstream media, then strongly defended the need for Internet freedom and independence.

When asked the question, "Do you trust the mainstream media?" Dr. Paul instantly replied:

"Some of them [mainstream media]. But I trust the Internet a lot more. And I trust the freedom of expression and that's why we should never interfere with the Internet. That's why I've never voted to regulate the Internet even when there's the temptation to put bad things on the Internet. Regulation of bad and good on the Internet should be done differently. But there's every reason to believe we have enough freedom in this country to have freedom of expression and that's what's important..."


What a welcome relief to hear a Presidential candidate willing to take on New Media, where establishment rules of "off limits" and "quid pro quo" no longer apply. Where predictable questions which candidates rehearse are replaced with relevant questions 'we-the-people' want to know.

As long as the Internet can sustain the freedoms espoused by Congressman Paul, we-the-people will play a pivotal role in the governance of this nation.

Two months ago, while attending a speech by Democratic Presidential
candidate John Edwards, I was taken aback when he didn't address the
millions of Americans who'd protested Government policy for the past
six years. I wondered if he'd paid attention to the massive organizing,
the heartfelt pleas, and the distances traveled by patriots who marched
and rallied across and beyond this land. I wondered if he cared.

That evening I wrote an article,
in which I proposed that all Presidential candidates be asked if they'd
paid attention to the millions who opposed the policies of the current
President. I proposed that they each be asked if they cared. Because if
they didn't care and they didn't pay attention, than the Presidency
shouldn't be theirs.

Old Media spent the entire presidency of George W. Bush suppressing
public opposition and concealing democracy-in-action. From its near
total blackout in 2005
, to
its scant exposure in 2007,
media owners like GE, which benefit handsomely from the military
industrial complex
, have no
profit motive to televise peace. They choose corporatism over
patriotism and money over country nearly every time.

But a window of truth has finally opened and some light is seeping in.
Thanks to the growth and empowerment of grassroots media and Internet
journalism, the words and deeds of politicians holding office and those
running for office, are monitored and broadcast freely over an ever
widening web of accessible sites. In the current Presidential election,
mainstream media swiftboating is less likely to succeed. And no
mealy-mouthed candidate will be permitted to retreat from battling

Who ever takes the people's mantle this time will be held to account by the people themselves.

At last weekend's California Democratic Convention at the San Diego
Convention Center, New Media were prominent, welcome and vital
participants. On the Convention floor, an central area was roped off
and specifically designated for the bloggers of Calitics, the community website for California
politics. Several Calitics bloggers played dual roles at the Convention
as Delegates and full-fledged members of the Press.

All eight Democratic Presidential candidates attended the event. John
Edwards, Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich were completely at ease with
New Media. They welcomed ALL questioners in their press conferences and
beyond. This time, John Edwards clearly acknowledged the active role
Americans play in their democracy. As he said in his closing remarks on

"The fact that you are here and that you are this involved and this
engaged, demonstrates your commitment to the country. But I think every
one of us have to ask ourselves, what are you willing to do? How much
are you willing to do? How much do you love America?

If you look at the big changes that have happened in this country — the
civil rights movement that began on college campuses in America,
speaking out against the war in Vietnam, bringing down this apartheid
regime in South Africa.

This movement to end the war in Iraq, the great movements that have
happened in America, they didn't start in Washington, D.C., they didn't
start in the Oval Office, they started right here with people of
conviction, and courage, and passion, who would stand up for what you
believe in, and what you knew is right. We need you again. We need all
of you — to speak out, to speak up, and to build the kind of America,
moral and just, that all of us believe in."

Thank you, John, for listening!

Chris Dodd was also quite gracious. At his press conference I asked if
being a first time father at sixty-two prompted his bid for the
Presidency. He responded that his two tiny daughters were indeed his
impetus, which led me to ask how he, a parent now himself, believed
George Bush had treated Cindy Sheehan. Dodd responded, "Terribly.
Demeaning people, belittling people who have a different point of view.
That's not right."

Yet one candidate was a bit uncomfortable with New Media. That was New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson.

At the very beginning his press conference, Governor Richardson
immediately called on a reporter from the AP who asked an
inconsequential gotcha question about deceased Supreme Court Justice,
Byron White.

Contrastingly, the next questioner from New Media asked whether Paul
Wolfowitz should resign. Then came a New Media "youth" reporter who
addressed issues important to youth. Another New Media questioner asked
about income disparity in America. New Media reporter, Kate Daniels,
from The Women's International Perspective (, asked
Richardson how he would develop new alliances and improve America's
image abroad.

Not long after came my question:

"Leading up to the war against Iraq, millions of people protested
around the world, possibly fifteen to thirty million. Millions
protested within the United States. Over the past six years this
government has shown disdain for people who exercise that First
Amendment right. What's your opinion of people who actively protest

Governor Richardson responded:

"Well, I'm for it. I think YOU should demonstrate as long as it's
peaceful. I think YOU should direct YOUR demonstrations to the Congress
because I believe that's where we need change...

Every president challenges the authority of the war powers act, but
it's the Congress that has the authority to make war, to stop war, that
is our Constitution...

Look, I'm for making sure YOU have that."

Interesting how Governor Richardson believes public protest should be
directed at Congress and not at the President, which would immunize him
from such actions should that Office one day become his. The fact is,
public protest should be directed at ANYONE who deserves to be opposed.
Be it the President. The Vice-President. Secretary of State.
Congressperson. Corporation. Or contractor.

Also interesting was how Governor Richardson used the pronoun YOU when
answering me, especially since I never included myself or the pronoun I
in my question. Nor was I biased in my tone.

Presumably, Governor Richardson was troubled by my question because
traditional or corporate media rarely ask it. But New Media will ask
this question and many more like it, because New Media cares that the
President who is elected honors the rights of those he or she

Immediately after answering my question, Governor Richardson mocked,
"This IS a press conference, isn't it? Has any member of the press not
asked anything?"

Yes, Governor Richardson, this was a press conference. And members of
all forms of press had something to ask. But your confusion stems less
from the unfamiliar faces present and more from the questions they
asked. This, Governor Richardson, was not YOUR traditional corporate
press conference.

It was a New Press conference with New Media voices who aren't
corporate owned. New Media voices who won't permit another President to
disregard the will of the people as the "Old Press" wantonly do. A New
Press with free unencumbered voices, much of which arise from the
Internet. A New Press that appreciate Congressman Ron Paul, who 'trusts
freedom of expression so much that he would never interfere with the
Internet' to uphold the Constitutional First Amendment ideal.

Bottom line, Governor, this ain't YOUR corporate Media any more!

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