A little known fact about me is that before I entered the technology world, I studied constitutional law in graduate school. I was and am especially interested in privacy issues, so I’m quite excited to read Constitution 3.0, on how we’ll preserve our freedoms in the digital age.
One of the editors, Jeffrey Rosen, was recently interviewed on Fresh Air:
“Will the justices be willing to look beyond the existing Fourth Amendment categories, which have been inadequate to confront these new virtual technologies, and take a leap of imagination?” he asks. “Really, the leap they’re being asked to take is the one that Justice Brandeis took in the 1920s when the court decided for the first time the constitutionality of wiretapping.” Continue reading
Ryan Lizza has compiled some of Barney Frank’s best comebacks:
—to Jason Zengerle of New York magazine, after the reporter chuckled when Frank told him his question was “stupid.”
“What is this, some kind of idiotic contest? Most interesting? That’s idiotic. Ask me something substantive, and I’ll answer it.”
—to Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post, after he asked Frank about the “most interesting thing to arise in an A.I.G. hearing.”
“That is the kind of argument that people who do not have any idea what they are talking about like to make.”
—to Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes.”
Plenty more where those came from.
And he’s sassy about the current Republican Congress:
“It consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann … and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann.”
They’ve got tax strategies, for one:
Yet for Mr. Lauder, an heir to the Estée Lauder fortune whose net worth is estimated at more than $3.1 billion, the evening went beyond social and cultural significance. As is often the case with his activities, just beneath the surface was a shrewd use of the United States tax code. By donating his art to his private foundation, Mr. Lauder has qualified for deductions worth tens of millions of dollars in federal income taxes over the years, savings that help defray the hundreds of millions he has spent creating one of New York City’s cultural gems… Continue reading
If you’re wondering why Americans have so little faith in our leaders, the phrase “bitpartisan corporate influence peddling” might ring as true do you as it did to me. At its core, it’s why the Occupy movement exists.
The lineup promoting TransCanada’s interests was a textbook study in modern, bipartisan corporate influence peddling. Lobbyists ranged from the arch-conservative Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform to TransCanada’s in-house lobbyist Paul Elliott, who worked on both Hillary and Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaigns. President Clinton’s former Ambassador to Canada, Gordon Giffin, a major contributor to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential and Senate campaigns, was on TransCanada’s payroll, too. (Giffin says that he has never spoken to Secretary Clinton about the pipeline.) Most of the big oil companies also had a stake in the project. In a recent National Journal poll of “energy insiders,” opinion was virtually unanimous that the project would be approved.
Of course, that’s not exactly what happened, but close enough. The pipeline was moved away from crucial groundwater sources, giving even more credence to the prediction that Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.
Electing a candidate is the “epic win scenario,” but we need lots of intermediate waypoint “wins” in between now and then to create a culture of engagement that excites supporters more than ever before. The best possible guidance to building the next generation of political engagement and organizing tools is, surprisingly, the world of gaming. Continue reading
After President Obama was elected in 2008, I had the highest hopes for OFA and Democrats.org. They talked a big game about using these organizing tools to help enact the Democratic agenda. And they were right - If Democrats could harness the technology that helped the President’s revolutionary campaign and modify it to work at the state and local levels, we’d have a set of tools to help us win future elections and build a sustainable political movement dedicated to helping the middle class.
Imagine the innovative tools from Obama 2008 being brought to campaigns of every level. Revolutionizing phone-banking, outreach, engagement, etc. Of course, they didn’t do that, and instead the technology and organizing tools stayed dormant while we got trounced in the 2010 midterms. Here are a few things that could have made a difference: Continue reading
At breakfast with a smart colleague and veteran campaigner recently, I asked him what sounds like a relatively simple question – why hasn’t online organizing thrived?
We seem to be stuck in 2007, when online organizing meant gathering as many email addresses as possible and “blasting” supporters as often as they’ll tolerate, always with the purpose of raising money, and rarely more than that. I’d hoped that we’d be past that by now, and that the presidential campaigns would lead the way.
But no one has, and the world of digital advocacy has quickly become merely a collection of intermediaries focused on moving money from individuals to good causes, while taking their cut. Continue reading
I caught this quote from David Axelrod in this morning’s Trib:
“Our greatest imperative is to mobilize large numbers of Americans to work together in this campaign and I’m encouraged by the early returns,” Axelrod said. “You’re seeing people mobilizing and getting involved and that’s ultimately as important as the money itself.”
That’s a great acknowledgement, but it gets at a question I’ve been pondering for a while now – where is the tipping point that makes organizing dramatically more important than money? And with all the talk of money’s poisonous effect on politics, what innovations will hasten that day’s arrival? Continue reading
My friend and colleague Nancy Scola wrote an interesting piece wondering who will lead Obama’s 2012 new media efforts. Thus far, it seems like 2008′s team is either otherwise engaged or in some cases, not interested. That’s a shame, because I know a lot of talented people who worked on the campaign. But I can’t help think that the 2012 re-election effort needs some fresh thoughts and innovation.
As a keen observer and practitioner in the political new media space, it seems like we’ve stagnated over the past few years. The promise of better organizing and citizen engagement has devolved into list-building and fundraising. Can you name a congressional candidate or political party who did more than that in 2010? Or a consulting firm who innovated on behalf of their clients for the midterm elections? I can’t.
Innovation comes in fits and spurts, so the question is, will 2012 be a year of innovation or just more of the same? Continue reading