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Obamas First Amendment assault
President Obama's desire to control the internet is an assault on the First Amendment, says Rick Manning.

The Obama Administration and their cohorts launched a double-barreled assault on the First Amendment weeks ago.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dumped 330 pages of regulatory Super Glue on the operation of the Internet making clear their intention to turn the greatest source of democratized communication since Gutenberg invented the printing press into a public utility.

Perhaps jealous of their speech regulator counterparts, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) held a hearing to begin the discussion of how they can regulate political speech on the Internet.

Here's a newsflash to the FEC - you cannot.

The blogs, articles and political information sources that the Democrat appointees on the FEC find so abhorrent are no different than the newspapers, radio or television broadcasts that they have no control over the content placed on them. Political news and commentary websites, whether using a link-driven system like the DrudgeReport, a news-oriented one like or HuffPo, or a commentary-based blog like, provides First Amendment-protected information to people who a generation ago got their news from dailies and news anchors.

It is this exact information expansion that drives the left crazy. While supporting the First Amendment when it applies to friendly news anchors and "all the news that's fit to print" newspapers, the left sees talk radio and an open and free Internet as being a threat to their ability to appropriately shape the narrative.

Yet, Internet bloggers are a much more accurate depiction of what the Founding Fathers were seeking to protect. In an environment where small towns had their own newspapers, and Patrick Henry self-published his seminal work, "Common Sense" that helped fuel the revolutionary fire, the men who wrote the Bill of Rights specifically were trying to prevent the government from determining what political speech was allowed.

The current occupant of the White House has proven exactly why the Founders had this concern.

Under Obama, the IRS has targeted conservatives and potential conservative donors. And then, not to be outdone, the Treasury proposed formalizing what the IRS had done with an enormous intrusion into the ability of non-profits to engage in political discourse.

The FCC tried to place news monitors into newsrooms to make certain approved topics were receiving enough coverage.

The federal government staged an early morning raid of a Washington Times reporter's house under a false guise, and in the process seized her notes that included the names of whistleblowers within the Transportation Security Administration. Fox News and New York Times reporters have been subjected to federal investigations and court proceedings simply because they were doing their jobs. Associated Press reporters had their phones bugged by the Justice Department in a government leak investigation.

Senate Democrats even voted to neuter the First Amendment and replace it with language that would allow them to severely restrict speech, ending forever the illusion that they were defenders of the right to free speech, religion and protections for petitioning the government.
And the list goes on.

As Congress looks at the net neutrality rules being proposed to turn the Internet into a public utility, and the FEC's attack on political speech in the context of the rest of this Administration's actions, it should change their view forever. This continuing assault on the First Amendment is not benign, it is an orchestrated attack on the most basic of all political rights, the right to dissent.

Rick Manning is the president of Americans for Limited Government.