Bush: Enemy of Internet Free Speech
Friday, May 21, 1999 --- New York (APJP)
-- GOP presidential hopeful George W. Bush Jr. -- or "BushBaby"
as we refer to him here in the APJ offices -- has been doing his level
best not to make known his specific views on almost any issues. While the
Texas legislature was voting on hate crimes legislation, there was nary a
word from BushBaby. School kids with easy access to guns killed or
attempted to kill other kids in Littleton and a suburb of Atlanta. "Dubya"
was dumbstruck. Social security, education and Kosovo are all hot-button
topics -- that is, to everyone in America but "Shrub."
But thanks to some ambitious planning and hard work on the part of his
supporters and attorneys, we now know BushBaby's number one issue.
He wants to quash your First Amendment rights on the Internet by any
means at his disposal -- and he's already enlisted the help of rich and
But thanks to some ambitious planning and hard work on the part of his supporters and attorneys, we now know BushBaby's number one issue.
He wants to quash your First Amendment rights on the Internet by any means at his disposal -- and he's already enlisted the help of rich and powerful pals.
What happens when you enter those domain names into your handy-dandy web browser in the hopes of having a good laugh at the expense of the ex-playboy turned Prez wannabe? Why, you get redirected to the official George W. Bush for President site.
Some of the other site names Mr. Rove has bought include georgewbushsux.org, goergebushsucks.org, and bushblows.net. Seems Mr. Rove has a bit of a one-track mind in the names he has chosen to buy up.
But then this is just another example of the Golden Rule -- he who has the gold makes the rules. As one of our readers wrote, it's "a foretaste of the ways the World Wide Web will be controlled in the future."
But every cloud has a silver lining -- and it comes in the form of some of the other domain names that Rove registered: bushwhitman.com, bushpataki.net, bushengler.com, and bushridge.net. Our sources tell us that Rove's registration of these domain names has actually infuriated a number of leading Republican party officials and raised the ire of key staffers for the theoretical "running mates."
Bush campaign officials have tried to maintain plausible deniability, pointing out that the names have not yet officially been "transferred" to the Bush campaign as were the bushsucks.org family of URLs -- in other words, blame Rove.
But you can bet your bottom dollar that Rove and some of the other "geniuses" in the Bush campaign decided this would be a great idea. Which it was -- if one was setting out to burn bridges to potential running mates and the grand high poo-bahs of the GOP.
A spokesperson for the Bush campaign added that the four names selected were "not necessarily a strategic decision by the campaign" -- which we can tell you is an outright lie. All four of the running mates are moderate GOP governors -- a choice that telegraphs Bush's plan to appear more moderate than, say, your average Texas GOP congressman.
We would bet that this move will also alienate the hard right wing faction within the GOP -- already, Greg Mueller, a spokesman for Steve Forbes, has commented that "This is an early indication by the Bush campaign that they intend to campaign to the more liberal wing of the party."
The Bush campaign has also opened a second front in their war on free speech, using an unusual venue: the Federal Elections Commission.
On May 3, Ben Ginsburg -- hey, wasn't he the satanic-looking balding and goateed Clinton-bashing talking head on MSNBC during the Lewinsky flap? -- filed a complaint with the FEC on behalf of BushBaby's exploratory committee against Zack Exley, the owner of gwbush.com. The kicker: Dubya's camp claims that Exley and his associates should be required to both post a disclaimer identifying who built the site and to file as a PAC with the FEC specifying the amount of money spent on the site.
Ginsburg's filing followed by about a month a cease-and-desist letter he had sent to the gwbush.com creators, who had at that time imitated the appearance and layout of the official Bush site but included content highly critical of Bush Jr. and commentary on censorship of political speech. They changed the look of the site -- in fact, they located just about the goofiest shots of Dubya that they could and started raising yet more questions about Bush's private, business and professional conduct. The background photo on the home page would make you believe that Shrub had just downed two quaaludes and a couple of shots of Jack Daniel's.
Ginsburg's problem: sites that are strongly critical of candidates but that do not urge voters to take action are exempt from the Federal rules, and gwbush.com has been very careful in the wording used on their site.
But it looks as if the efforts of Rove, Ginsburg and the like are backfiring already -- in the last week, a number of new domains have been registered (including two I especially found amusing, www.WhipNBush.org (I didn't know he was into the rough stuff) and www.TrimNBush2Shrub.org.
I'm looking forward to what these sites have to offer, and I especially hope that they emphasize the same point as the gwbush.com : that George W. Bush, Jr. is an enemy of free speech in the Internet age.