Blogging The Midnight Oil

Originally published at NationalJournal.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Thanks to a snide sound bite from an uppity mainstream journalist, many people no doubt imagine bloggers doing their best work in pajamas. That perception may not have been far from reality at the tail end of last week, as Congress finished its pre-Thanksgiving legislative dash in the wee hours, and citizen journalists followed the action as dutifully as any credentialed reporters.

Bloggers touched on an array of issues. They vented about budget decisions, reported on a last-minute congressional pay raise, covered the latest campaign finance news, called attention to new legislation, and even highlighted obscure provisions tucked into larger bills.

But they reserved most of their commentary for Friday evening’s impromptu and vitriolic debate about the Iraqi war, a debate spurred by the sudden call for a U.S. troop withdrawal from defense hawk John Murtha, D-Pa.

The debate came on a nonbinding resolution urging the troop withdrawal. Republicans oppose that idea but forced the issue to the floor in an attempt to get Democrats on the record for the move. Democrats did not oblige. The vote was 403-3, with six other lawmakers voting “present.”

Several blogs opined on the House antics as the battle unfolded on C-SPAN. The live-blogging included the likes of Captain’s Quarters, Michelle Malkin and PoliPundit on the right, and AMERICAblog, Daily Kos and Seeing the Forest on the left. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., also shared her views in a post at RedState.

When Murtha took to the floor, John Aravosis of AMERICAblog encouraged other bloggers to join the fun. “He’s on C-SPAN now,” Aravosis wrote. “Blog it!”

At PoliPundit, the topic was so hot that when one entry spurred more than 300 comments, Lorie Byrd reignited the discussion with a new post. It promptly generated more than 400 additional comments.
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The U.N. As A Threat To Online Speech

Originally published at NationalJournal.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Bloggers of all political persuasions rallied online last week to defend their right to speak freely about American political candidates. But on the global question of who should oversee the Internet, an issue with potentially far broader ramifications on free speech, bloggers have been noticeably less vocal.

Internet governance tops the agenda for the World Summit on the Information Society meeting scheduled for next week in Tunisia. The primary focus will be whether to decentralize control over the Internet and give more power to the United Nations.

A report by a U.N. working group outlines four alternatives, three of which would change or eliminate the role of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The European Union also has proposed a “new international model of cooperation.” ICANN currently controls the Web via an agreement exclusively with the U.S. Commerce Department, and the U.S. government adamantly opposes a shift toward global management.

Blog-like tech publications such as ICANN Watch and Slashdot have covered the debate about Internet governance regularly, and tech-oriented bloggers like Andy Carvin of the Digital Divide Network and Steven Forrest at Free2Innovate.net have opined on the topic. Carvin even created WSISblogs, a clearinghouse for reports from bloggers who cover WSIS-related events.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds also has mentioned Internet governance periodically. But even with the heft of his influential blog, the issue has failed to gain the same traction as the blog swarm against Federal Election Commission plans to regulate the Internet.

Bruce Kesler called for more attention to the issue in a post at Democracy Project, where he decried the European Union for aligning with “such stalwarts of smothering Internet freedom as China, Cuba, Iran and several African states.”

“This issue, this outrageous putsch attempt, deserves an uproar heard around the world on the Internet,” he wrote.
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