Casual Evangelist

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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Grasshopr is Live!

Posted by Andrew on July 8, 2009

Grasshopr is live. A few of us have been working hard to develop this platform, which we hope will transform the way individuals and groups of all stripes and sizes interact with their government… specifically the legislative branch at the federal, state, and local level.

We created Grasshopr because the system (or lack thereof) of how constituents and their elected officials connect and communicate is badly broken. It’s broken because of issues concerning trust, unmanageability, and access. The status quo benefits a few, but for the most part, individuals, organizations, and elected officials lose.

Organizations can use Grasshopr to collaborate with their members and get them engaged in grassroots advocacy campaings. Individuals are matched to their elected officials and can communicate with them on current issues they’re following. And elected officials can connect with real constituents in a sustainable, authentic way.

There’s more on why we created Grasshopr here.

Let me know what you think, and how we can make it better!

logo_final

Posted in Politics, The Social Web | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Tropical Storm Gustav

Posted by Andrew on August 28, 2008

Sure, it’s a long-term track, but this bodes poorly for the opening day of the RNC Convention on Monday (in addition to the populations of the Gulf coast).

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What Matters in a Veep?

Posted by Andrew on July 31, 2008

Over at DecisionWorld, I have created a decision model designed to help Obama and McCain determine what really matters when considering who to name as their running mates.

Everyone can take part in the excercise…it takes about five minutes. Make it happen!

Go here!

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House Leadership Moves to Silence Twittering Members

Posted by Andrew on July 8, 2008

I’ve been following and interacting with two members of the US House of Representatives, John Culberson, Republican from Texas, and Tim Ryan, Democrat from Ohio. It has been great and refreshing to have this direct line of communication with these two Members of Congress and gain insights into what’s happening on Capitol Hill, often a black hole of mystery unless it’s your full time job to know what’s going on.

Rep. Culberson just sent a series of messages on Twitter indicating that the Democratic House Leadership is requiring that he submit each message for approval prior to posting. This move apparently invokes a little-known broader regulation that all Member communications posted on any public social networking site receive prior approval.

While I’m not even in a position to shed light on the Constitutionality of such a regulation, it surely flies in the face of government openness and transparency? What is the Democratic leadership trying to hide or keep from the public? The beauty of Twitter and similar platforms is that they are open communications for public consumption. I’ll spare any conjecture regarding potential motives behind such a move, political or not.

The Sunlight Foundation should explore this and weigh in to see if this is an attempt to silence public communication from our elected representatives in government.

UPDATE: Rep. Culberson got some clarity. Time to end centralized control and censorship of communications from government and elected officials. Thoughts?

Here’s Rep Capuano’s letter proposing changes. I’m a dolt…I can’t make heads or tails of which way this letter is going.

UPDATE #2: George Donnelly has a great list of articles and posts about this issue. Aaron Brazell has some comprehensive coverage of the issue.

Update #4: A site has been launched: LetOurCongressTweet.org – produced by The Sunlight Foundation. Way to go!

UPDATE #3: Boehner Gets Involved

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 9, 2008

CONTACTS: Michael Steel, Kevin Smith, Steve Forde – (202) 225-4000

Boehner Urges Speaker Pelosi to Shut Down Democrats’ Proposed Censorship
of the Internet

House GOP Leader Warns: New “YouTube” Rule Proposed by
Democratic-Controlled House Administration Committee “Would Amount to
New Government Censorship of the Internet”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today
wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), urging her to join him in opposing
a new rule proposed by the Democratic leadership of the House
Administration Committee that would require outside websites such as
YouTube to comply with House regulations before Members of Congress
could post videos on them. Under the proposal, the House Administration
Committee would develop a list of “approved” websites, and Members of
Congress would be restricted to only publishing content using these
sites. Calling it “new government censorship of the Internet,” Boehner
asked Speaker Pelosi to join him in opposing the proposed rule.

“The Internet is a powerful tool for promoting openness and transparency
in government,” Boehner wrote. “It has given individual Americans an
unprecedented window into the daily actions and policy debates of their
Congress. The result has increasingly been a better informed electorate
– better equipped with real-time information about what is happening in
their government, and more empowered to hold their leaders accountable.”

Highlighting the Democratic-controlled House Administration Committee’s
attempts to effectively shut down the free flow of information on the
Internet between Members of Congress and the American people, Boehner
assailed the proposed rule.

“If this proposed rule were to be implemented, Americans who currently
use free websites such as YouTube to obtain uncensored daily information
on congressional policy debates would suddenly be forced to visit
websites ‘approved’ by the House Administration Committee in order to
continue getting such information,” explained Boehner. “This would
amount to new government censorship of the Internet, by a panel of
federal officials that is neither neutral nor independent.”

Urging Speaker Pelosi to join him in opposing the Democratic-controlled
House Administration Committee’s planned actions, Boehner concluded,
“Millions of Americans get information about what is happening in their
government through the Internet and free websites like YouTube. I am
writing to seek your assurance that the Democratic majority does not
intend to deprive them of this right, and to request that you join me in
opposing the proposed new rules.”

Boehner’s full letter to Pelosi follows and is available by clicking
here
.

July 9, 2008

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

The Internet is a powerful tool for promoting openness and transparency
in government. It has given individual Americans an unprecedented
window into the daily actions and policy debates of their Congress. The
result has increasingly been a better informed electorate – better
equipped with real-time information about what is happening in their
government, and more empowered to hold their leaders accountable.

It has come to my attention that the Democratic-controlled Committee on
House Administration, at the recommendation of the Democratic chairman
of the Commission on Mailing Standards (Franking Commission), is
considering the adoption of new congressional rules that would
effectively shut down what has emerged as a free and helpfully
uncensored pipeline of real-time information between the American people
and their elected leaders. Specifically, the Committee is considering
the adoption of new rules that would require outside websites such as
YouTube to comply with House regulations before Members of Congress
could post videos on them. Under the proposal, the House Administration
Committee would develop a list of “approved” websites, and Members of
Congress would be restricted to only publishing content using these
sites.

If this proposed rule were to be implemented, Americans who currently
use free websites such as YouTube to obtain uncensored daily information
on congressional policy debates would suddenly be forced to visit
websites “approved” by the House Administration Committee in order to
continue getting such information. This would amount to new government
censorship of the Internet, by a panel of federal officials that is
neither neutral nor independent.

I believe Members of Congress should have the ability to choose
whichever service they believe will best assist in communicating with
their constituents, and not be limited to only services “approved” by
the House Administration Committee or any other government entity. We
must encourage, not restrict, the free and open flow of uncensored
information between the American people and their elected leaders over
the Internet.

Members should be allowed to use technologies, websites, and services
(paid or unpaid) to communicate with their constituents via text, video,
or audio, so long as the content posted by the Member complies with
House rules and Franking content regulations. Members should be allowed
to use free communications and networking services so long as those
services are available on the same terms and conditions available to
others. This view has been expressed formally to the Democratic
Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Robert Brady, by
the Committee’s senior Republican member, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), and
by Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Tom Price (R-GA).

Millions of Americans get information about what is happening in their
government through the Internet and free websites like YouTube. I am
writing to seek your assurance that the Democratic majority does not
intend to deprive them of this right, and to request that you join me in
opposing the proposed new rules.

Sincerely,

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)
House Republican Leader

#####

Posted in Politics, The Social Web | Tagged: , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Can Ron Paul Resurrect Unity08?

Posted by Andrew on January 23, 2008

Unity08, the effort launched by a handful of prominent Republicans and Democrats to field a centrist, bipartisan third party ticket for president, is facing hard times. The movement has been knocked down by a lack of funding, struggles with FCC regulations, and the departure of two key founders now working to convince New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to wage an independent run for the White House. Their Web site has been reduced to a sad, non-dynamic “status-of-the-movement” message.

Unity08 is down, but is it out?

In order to continue with their efforts and hold an “online convention” to choose their candidates, Unity08 needs two things very soon: an influx of money and energy. No shortage here – Ron Paul and his legions of supporters have plenty of both.

For a while I thought it plausible that, after exiting his quixotic yet surprisingly resonant effort for the GOP nomination, Paul and his supporters could swarm over the Unity08 convention. Now I think that they can save it, albeit with a change in mission away from the centrist focus while maintaining their aim for a “post-partisan” ticket. He would also dispense with the criticism that Unity08 is merely a party for rich, center-right donors.

Ron Paul has indicated that he will not support the eventual GOP nominee if they don’t support some key policy issues he holds based on his Constitutional interpretations – namely the war in Iraq and foreign policy. He’s left the door open to continue his campaign elsewhere.

Will Ron Paul bolt the GOP for Unity08? If he will, the time is near.

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Why Thompson’s Exit is a Mistake

Posted by Andrew on January 21, 2008

It looks like Fred Thompson will exit the race for the GOP nod and likely endorse his buddy John McCain (he’s just indicated that he’s not going to participate in the debate later this week). However, the last two debates have demonstrated that he’s pulled a Hillary and found his voice: A no-nonsense communicator and a deliberate thinker with little in the way of negatives in the eyes of Republican voters.

Let’s briefly recap the negatives of the nominees according to many GOP activists and conservatives:

  • John McCain: He’s a pro-war liberal who, as a maverick Senator, aligned himself with the left wing of the Democratic party issues such as taxes, immigration, and the judicial confirmation process. Conservative radio has opened fire on McCain now that he’s achieved frontrunner status. His success is due to significant support from independents, a factor that won’t play in many upcoming contests. Having your name attached to Kennedy and Feingold on major legislation infuriates the base. Threatens to undo the “coalition” if nominated.
  • Mike Huckabee: He’s a pro-life liberal populist who raised taxes, was soft on immigration, and sounds not unlike John Edwards when talking about the economy. He scares the hell out of the Wall Street wing of the GOP on the economy and scares the hell out of the libertarian wing with his talk of bringing the constitution into line with God. Also a regular target of conservative talk radio. Threatens to undo the “coalition” if nominated.
  • Mitt Romney: All the money in the world is required to keep Mitt’s head above water in this race (good for him he’s got it to spend). He’s a late-comer on some key social issues GOP voters hold dear, particularly abortion, and many don’t totally trust him. I’d like to think that the Mormon issue isn’t a factor, but who knows? He seems to come undone when challenged and knocked off of his game, and he’s gone negative. The establishment, including talk radio, seems to like the guy. Probably doesn’t threaten the “coalition” unless evangelicals can’t deal with the Mormon issue or social conservatives don’t trust his latter-day conversions on key issues.
  • Rudy Giuliani: He may not even be a player any more as his Florida -> Super Tuesday strategy is becoming increasingly suspect. Can someone who’s posting single digit returns in multiple state contests generate excitement in later contests? He’s unacceptable to many social conservatives despite his promise to nominate “strict constructionists” to the bench. He seems solid on national security and economic issues, but is vulnerable on immigration. Threatens to undo the “coalition” if nominated.
  • Ron Paul: Many find his ideas a refreshing addition to the debate, but voters don’t think he’s electable and he’s just too far out there. He’ll likely bolt the race (and the GOP) to unleash his legions of supporters on the Unity08 online convention and become a third party candidate.
  • Fred Thompson. He doesn’t seem to “desire” the presidency enough and doesn’t like campaigning

So the worst thing conservatives can say about Thompson is that he’s lazy. They do like him though. He’s probably the first choice on the talk show circuit, although they lament the fact that he got in late and stumbled badly early on. Lately, however, he’s been much stronger on the stump and has posted a couple solid debate performances.

With the GOP race so fractured and all four frontrunners so badly flawed according to various factions of the old Reagan coalition, serious reconsideration by voters is inevitable. But they need an alternative, and Thompson could be that alternative. Just a few more weeks is needed to determine whether there is a unique opportunity to capitalize on the high negatives of the frontrunners.

His exit is premature, and a mistake.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh stated on his radio program yesterday (January 21) that he may not be supporting the eventual GOP nominee. He’s presumably talking about McCain and Huckabee. The fault lines are now real.

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