CampaignTrails.org launched (Ye olde text campaign archives)

Back in 2005 I found myself looking through the Dean blog archives and noticed that they’d gone missing for a time (they’re back now– with some comments missing here and there– I know because I have a 500MB copy of it.) In 2006, I poked around the early DailyKos/MyDD archives, and was frustrated with how difficult they were to navigate (compound by the fact that the early MyDD posts are onl

From politics to governance (no endorsement here)

Four years ago, I picked the hometown favorite for the Democratic primaries, albeit very late in the game,  long after he was all but crowned as the presumptive nominee.

How an FCC regulation allows anonymous political robocalls

Communications law in the United States is a little peculiar at times. If I buy time on for an advertisement on television or radio to reach thousands of people over the public airwaves, I have to abide by one set of rules. If. If I use an auto-dialer to reach thousands of people in their homes over the telephone (“robocalls”), I abide by a different set of rules.

Deval Patrick’s Issues

I caught wind before the weekend of Governor Deval Patrick’s bid to freshen up his image by unveiling a new website.

Dan Kennedy asks why he didn’t do it on Mass.gov?

I suppose it’s simply easier for him to post the information there. And the discussion on Blue Mass Group basically confirms this. But let’s look at the details:

The Talking Points Meme

Several months ago, I decided on a simple experiment: I’d stop reading most blogs I’d been reading, and just get news from my regular sources, and see if I’d be any less informed. I think I’ve stayed sharp. In this three-thousand exercise, I looked to see whether I missed anything in the U.S.

Constructive Activism, Part V: Mashup Petitions

The last part started with a reference to Ethan Zuckerman, and this one shall as well. Ethan wrote a nice summary of the first four parts, echoing my call for online activists. In this part we’ll go into some core examples of disruptive and constructive activism.

The Sock-It Veto

Since Ronald Reagan, U.S. Presidents have added "signing statements" onto laws to indicate how (or whether) they expect to enforce them. Two weeks ago in the Boston Globe, Charlie Savage reported on the 750 signing statements of the current President Bush, which have come at a pace several times that of his father and President Clinton. This story has caught on, but perhaps not as quckly as one might think, for a couple of reasons. First is that it has been just one of many troubles battering the current Administration. Second, and what interests me, is that the phenomenon has yet to win a pet name. The common name for the effective veto as described by Article I, Section 7 has been popularly known as the "pocket veto." This I’d like to call the "sock-it veto."

Waking up to UN Reform

I wanted to start the new year if with a modest proposal. But it would be immodest without some proper background. The subject for today is UN Reform, because here at Civilities we occasionally distract ourselves from the mechanics of media structures to find out how they apply in the real world, and furthermore whether there is any course of action we might take to better mankind.

The New York Times begins the year by giving an update on such a modest proposal: Officials at U.N. Seek Fast Action on Rights Panel. Paraphrasing the article, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan explains thus: some countries participate “not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others” with the consequence being that “a credibility deficit has developed, which casts a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.” The position of the United States, according to Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kristen Silverberg, is “to improve the membership criteria so that countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan were not eligible.”

Notes from the Massachusetts BlogLeft conference

I was at the Massachusetts BlogLeft conference this past Saturday– I should have posted a stub post earlier letting people know I’d be there. One of my readers, Bruce Wilson, told me about it a few weeks ago, and suggested to conference organizer Lynne Lupien, that I’d be a good person to lead a breakout session.


Meet the Fakers: Where are the good fake blogs?

I have a confession to make, which may surprise close readers of this space. Earlier this year, I wanted to actually start a blog– you know, write off the cuff like a blubbering fool about any topic that crossed somebody else’s mind. I needed help, some of my curmudgeonly correspondents to help breathe life into a made-up person named Fabio Folio. Nobody wanted to help, and then I discovered that a Google search revealed that “Fab Folio” was the name of a real person in Italy, so I retired the character. I’d like to say that my second choice was “Valerie Flame,” but I can’t find the piece of paper where I wrote that. I bring this up to expand on some points about fake blogs (flogs?).

2020 Democrats: Principles for a New Generation

On Sunday I went to hear Howard Zinn speak at the Boston chapter of the National Writers Union. He said that he sees more activism today that any time during the 1960’s.

I wasn’t there then, but it’s possible that the perception leads reality. Wherever one looks on the Internet, there is activism, though the physical evidence, and quantifiable acheivements, are harder to discern (Zinn did not admit to much web-surfing, let along blog-reading, other than reading his email).

Brookline Town Meeting 2004: Getting buried & tossed in the trash

There were two vacancies in the Tenth Precinct of Brookline’s, and three openings. My friend from temple, Jonathan Davis asked me to fill one of the vacancies. I could have avoided this problem had I thought to run last May, but I didn’t (I just hung around for the voting results). Now that the Presidential election is behind me, I’m thrilled to dive into the guts of local policymaking. It should be fun, Jonathan promised.

Brookline Town Meeting 2004: Discussion of the Warrant Articles

Here are the 25 Warrant Articles for the Annual Town Meeting. Also, here are the Town Meeting Members, which include 240 elected members and 8 at-large. The articles sure to generate the bulk of the discussion are #7 Underground Utilities, #11 on the cell tower (even though it recommends passing to a committee), and #21, a study to overhaul the 2-hour parking limit. I’m leaning against $7 for the cost. The Griggs Park Neighborhood Association is in favor of it. I’m willing to hear both sides.

I hate when liberals tell lies

I hate when liberals tell lies. I can’t stand those people who slander the President, with accusations of murder and worse. Those who never let facts get in the way of a good argument. I have a good reason to harbor these feelings: I’m a liberal myself, and I want liberals to never stray from their dedication to truth.

This worries me now because of the desperate times the liberals are in. For three years the Republican Party controls the White House and both houses of Congress; this is the most conservative (in every aspect but fiscal) that the government has been in modern times. One solution, guided by the Air America radio network, is to compete with the likes of Rush and O’Reilly on the partisan airwaves. But to do that best, one might embrace generalizations, innuendo, and then finds themself down the path of falsehood.

Fundraising Links

Here’s my list of current fundraising bundling efforts:

  • From the Roots — for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSSC)– help the Democrats capture 51 seats in the Senate
  • John Kerry Volunteer Center — one more month to raise money for Kerry for President.

Expanding on the idea of Meetups

Meetups may have been the biggest innovation of the Internet in the first stage of 2004 Election campaign, notable for its low-tech essence. People organized online in order to meet “offline”– in neighborhood bars and restaurants. The meeting in real life helped many volunteers build connections that would otherwise take more time to build in a strictly-online community. Meetups famously drove the Dean campaign to the front-runner for the last half of 2003. The question I want to consider here is how the idea of Meetups can be expanded for the future.

Dining Words: Who does the President eat with?

Christopher Hitchens left a particularly biting assessment of the fortieth President in Monday’s “Fighting Words” column in Slate, including this characterization:

“Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump. He could have had anyone in the world to dinner, any night of the week, but took most of his meals on a White House TV tray. He had no friends, only cronies….”

Where the outrage is over Nicholas Berg’s death

Many conservative commentators have asked where the outrage is surrounding Nicholas Berg’s death. The Boston Herald editorializing on Al Gore’s MoveOn speech, began so: "He never mentioned Nicholas Berg. Or Daniel Pearl." A reader of my Civilities piece on Abu Ghraib demanded, in effect, equal outrage for Berg.


Replacing Spam with Social Network Emailing

Here’s a mild proposal to consider as we bring people into the political campaign. When you signup for an organization– whether that person does it online, or at a meeting or meetup or at information booth, you should be able to specify your “captain”. This is the person who will email you, call you, and be responsible for your involvement. You may pick the person who brought you into the organization in the first place. You may pick the actual precinct captain. Or you may look at the list of people volunteering to be captains, and pick the most attractive one. Up to you. That’s democracy. That’s how real estate companies work. Big brand, personal agent.

Voting patterns of the Mories at Vote.com

Four years ago, the once-famous political consultant Dick Morris published a book extolling his vision of the future of politics– Vote.com, a system of deliberation-based Internet polling. Even if the conventional wisdom is that Internet polls are bunk, Morris has an interest in providing some analysis to the data in order mine some respectability out of the 55+ million “votes” in his database. None is apparent on the vote.com website, nor does his latest book hint at it. I thought I would take some time to do it.

From Abu Ghraib to Fire Rumsfeld — the Timeline of Petitions

When does a petitions become actionable, that is, when people decide that it should be the popular petition of the sort that they ask others to to attach their name to? Here’s a timeline of a number of directed petitions regarding prisoner treatment by U.S. forces; only recently, after the publication of the photos did they become popular petitions.

"Move On" — now the GOP Party Line

MoveOn had a great message, but recently it’s becoming twisted against them. Just to review the origination of the term: First they petitioned the Republican Congress to “move on” past the Clinton impeachment hearings (they failed). They revived it in urging President Bush to “move on” past the war threats on Iraq (failed again).

Since then, the GOP has blossomed into the party of no accountability. After all, accountability would be tantamount to admitting error, and admitting error would invite investigations, and that would just get in the way of the important things a government does, like wage war and cut taxes. As Dick Cheney said, in a Saturday night prepared release defending Rumsfeld: “People ought to get off his case and let him do his job.” Move on, indeed. The talking points from Republican Senators today (outside of McCain and Warner) were on that message: let’s not dwell on the past; let’s focus on the present, and the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have an incumbent President who campaigns on the same theme, to forget the past.

Wednesday at the Brookline Democratic Town Committee meeting

I went to the Brookline Democratic Town Committee’s legislative roundtable last Wednesday, which was my first official event. Though first I thought it helpful to give an introduction about the town.

A culture of torture… or of suppression?

What does the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities mean? Reading through the news, I came upon a couple of damning questions. Is there a culture of permissiveness in the government? Or of suppression of truth? And which is worse?

Griggs Road Candidates Victorious in Precinct 10 TMM Election

Griggs Road residents Christopher Koch and Michael Traister rolled to victory, knocking out an incumbent in yesterday’s competitive election for the Town Meeting Members of Precinct 10 in Brookline. With 16 precincts of around 1,000 voters, the winning candidates usually pull in about a hundred votes. Yesterday about 180 voters showed up at the firehouse to vote. Here’s the unofficial totals (incumbents*):

Campaign Motivations

What motivates people to work on campaigns? I wondered this while interacting with a number of organizers throughout the country on a few of the Democratic/Kerry mailing lists. I think it’s important for organizers to consider as they get people involved, and for volunteers to consider when choosing an organization to work with. Here’s what you should look for:

Democrats across the state

Jock Gill and Aldon Hynes of Greater Democracy suggested that people looking to volunteer with the party should check if their town commitees have any seats unfilled. I know that my Brookline’s Democratic Town Committee never short of candidates. So I thought it might be helpful to look into whether such a chart exists of opening across the state.

The Supremes cut a tape, and Totenberg retreats to the bench

For the longest time I thought that every Supreme Court justice sounded like Nina Totenberg, and never interrupted each other. That all changed in the last two days. NPR’s legal affairs correspondent gave her commentary and then ran the tape. Souter, Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, O’Connor, all let themselves be heard. It was like a Japanese citizen hearing the emporer’s voice for the first time after V-J day. The exchanges were fast but not furious, a little more intelligent than the Hardball slam-fest we’re used to.

and the real KerryCore March Madness winner is… anonymous

I never had an idea that I would place in the KerryCore March Madness contest (a last day effort garnered me second place). I figured that somebody out there must have bundled a lot of more money– like an order of magnitude more– but I had no idea of finding out. If you search Google for “March Madness” KerryCore, you find three links from the campaign website, and two to me.

And now I just learned (thanks to Matt Gordon) that somebody had in fact raised more money online– a lot more money: $75,000. He is the anonymous blogger Atrios, who pointed out on his blog afternoon that Kerry HQ had not included this contest entry until too late. This might also explain why the contest results were not readily publicized.

Push Campaigning: Datamart, the Voter Vault, and you

I’ve written on length about Social Network Fundraising, which is so called because it pulls people in to the network. The nature of this “pull” campaigning is that a relationship ties each person into another person closer to the campaign.

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