September 2008

Breaking: Congress limits constituents’ emails. Facebook to the rescue?

Jordy Yager reports in The HIll:

The House is limiting e-mails from the public to prevent its websites from crashing due to the enormous amount of mail being submitted on the financial bailout bill.

As a result, some constituents may get a ‘try back at a later time’ response if they use the House website to e-mail their lawmakers about the bill defeated in the House on Monday in a 205-228 vote.

A question I hope people are asking: why did they underinvest so badly in machine capacity?  And while we’re on the subject, am I the only person who notices that voice mail boxes get filled up by 8 p.m. in the evening?

It’s almost like they don’t want to hear from us or something …

Fortunately, a lot of politicians have Facebook pages.  For example, here’s a thread I set up on Nancy Pelosi’s discussion board a couple of days ago.  Facebook is pretty scalable; I bet they could easily handle a few thousand messages per politician per day.  Maybe more.

List-in-progress of politicians’ Facebook pages here.  If you know other links (on Facebook or MySpace), please add them!

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No blank check for Wall Street: announcing “an open letter to Congress”

No blank check for Wall Street is a group of people demanding accountability for Wall Street for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. We welcome those who oppose a bailout as well as those support a bailout with accountability.  Please see our website for more.  Our Facebook page and #nobailout on twitter are the best ways to follow events.  For earlier posts in this series, please see Jon Pincus’ page on Pam’s House Blend.  Help get the word out!

Executive summary

Partnering with MixedInk, we’re going to be working on two open letter on the Wall Street bailout

  • http://mixedink.com/letter_to_congress/no_blank_check_for_wallstreet/ is addressed to Congress, with our recommendations for legislation, to be delivered this week — so please get involved now!
  • next, we’ll write a follow-on letter to the presidential candidates, with our reactions to any legislation that’s passed and thoughts about next steps, and deliver it on October 14 — the day before the presidential debate on domestic policy.

As we make progress on the letters, we’ll be using Facebook as well as other mechanisms to make sure that politicians hear our feedback.  We think they’ll listen.

Please get involved — and please help get the word out about No blank check for Wall Street!

Details:

As An Assessment of Bailout Bill Options from a Former Congressional Staffer on Naked Capitalism (ooh!) makes abundantly clear, there’s no good way to predict what will happen next with the Wall Street crisis.  In the short term, the ball’s in Congress’ hands: the next vote’s expected Thursday or Friday, and public support for a bailout is dropping.  Even if some legislation passes, that doesn’t mean the crisis or the discussions are over — an obvious next milestone is the upcoming Presidential debate on the economy, and there’s talk about a lame-duck session of Congress in December.  Looks like No blank check for Wall Street might be around for a while.  I hope the web stays up.

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No blank check for Wall Street: now what?

no blank check for Wall Street logo“Now is the time for Congress to come together again and vote on a real, comprehensive plan that will solve the crisis while still protecting the taxpayers and restarting our economic growth.  I am prepared to stay here and in session as long as it takes, and I know many of my colleagues in Congress feel the same.”

— Washington Congressman Jay Inslee

Sunday night’s Treasury phone call provides a stark backdrop for the House’s shocking defeat of the modified Paulson bill.  We — the weird multipartisan coalition involving skeptics, conservatives, progressives, and nervous congresspeople in-close elections — won the battle.  With the Congress out of session Tuesday for Rosh Hashanah, there’s a brief hiatus.  Now what?

I’m not sure that No blank check for Wall Street’s 15 comments and counting on Nancy Pelosi’s profile had a lot to do with this vote … but they — and the handful of comments that are starting to pop up on other politicians’ Facebook pages — certainly lay the base for continued progress.  We continue to get more fans on Facebook, now up to 670.  And hopefully are now getting into a rhythm of checking their updates, too: 15 comments out of 670 people is a little over 2%, which is decent — not great — response rate.

No significant links yet as far as I know.  Oh well.  If changing the world was easy, everybody would do it.

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No blank check for Wall Street: Send a message to Congress!

The $700 billion dollar bailout legislation will result in a huge expense to taxpayers — with all the benefits going to corporations and large stockholders. Most economists  think that this plan will fail to address the underlying issues that caused the crisis. And there are many other issues for concern in the bill, such as whether the mechanism to prevent excess compensation will actually work in practice.

There’s no excuse for Congress to repeat the folly of the Patriot Act and pass half-baked legislation that creates huge problems for our country. Let’s send a mesasge to Congress: rather than allowing the decision to be driven by politics, false urgency from the Bush Administration, and Wall Street greed, we should take the time to have a full debate, making sure to include the input from economists AND consumer advocates … and make sure we’re not giving a blank check to Wall Street.

Here’s how you can help.

If you’re on Facebook:

  1. Sign up as a fan and watch your “updates” for what’s next
  2. reply to the No blank check for Wall Street thread on Nancy Pelosi’s profile
  3. share this link with your Facebook friends, and ask them to reply — and to forward it to THEIR friends

If you’re not on Facebook:

  1. sign up for our annoucement email list and check your email for what’s next!
  2. email this information to your friends, and ask them to help
  3. phone or email your legislators and tell them how you feel

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No blank check for Wall Street: How to get more coverage?

no blank check for Wall Street logoThe No blank check for Wall Street Facebook group is up over 500 people — excellent progress given the paucity of links!   Depending on the agreement of the bailout, and reactions to it on Monday, we may well try to ramp up the wall-writing campaign.   So it’s worth some time thinking about how else we might get more coverage.

The underlying dynamics we were originally hoping for were what happened with Get FISA Right (GFR) and 100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh.   After a high-profile launch, those groups got a little momentum, and a spate of blogging in the progressive blogosphere led to enough visibility that reporters at blogs associated with the mainstream media (MSM) started to cover them (1, 2).    Blogs like the Washington Post’s Clickocracy, the New York Times’ The Caucus, MSNBC’s First Read, Time’s The Swamp, and so are “in the echo chamber”: campaigns, pundits, reporters, and politicians all read them.  As well as this direct impact on opinion, this also increases the chance that the story will crack through and make it into print, cable, and maybe even network TV.

No blank check for Wall Street launched on Pam’s House Blend (PHB) and OpenLeft (OL), two places where I’ve had front-page posts in the past.  Alas, even though OpenLeft had multiple front-page stories on the bailout that evening, this story didn’t get front-paged.**  Fortunately, it did on Pam’s, which is a big deal.

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No blank check to Wall Street: Call to action!

No blank check for Wall Street is a multi-partisan group of people demanding accountability for Wall Street for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. We welcome those who oppose a bailout as well as those support a bailout with accountability.  Please see our website for more.  Our Facebook feed is the best way to track what’s happening; updates on the campaign’s progress in the first comment.

Also posted on Pam’s House Blend

Enough feeling powerless as a “crisis” spurs the government to talk about taking $700 billion out of taxpayers’ pockets with no oversight!  I know there are a lot of people out there who are just as angry as I am. So let’s do something about it.

A couple days ago, I launched the No blank check for Wall Street activism campaign by creating a Facebook page and a web site. The goal of our campaign is to send politicians a strong message:

  • Wall Street firms and executives should be held accountable, and should not be allowed to profit from misdeeds
  • Any government spending or loan guarantees to Wall Street as part of a recovery package must not be a blank check; it must involve meaningful oversight, accountability, and fair compensation to taxpayers.

To start with, we’ll give politicians feedback directly on their Facebook pages with a wall-writing campaign. (If you’re not on Facebook, don’t worry, there are still ways for you to get involved.)  Most politicians’ Facebook pages are usually fairly quiet. When they start seeing 10, 20, 50, 100 messages a day, all letting them know that we don’t want a blank check for Wall Street, they’ll take notice — and so will the media.

Here’s how you can help:

  • most importantly: let your friends and family know – by email, text, twitter, IM, or phone.  feel free to cut-and-paste as much of this as you want!
  • If you’re on Facebook: sign up as a fan and start writing on walls
  • If you know somebody on Facebook: please forward them the link and ask them to join us
  • If you blog: please mention No blank check for Wall Street and link to the Facebook page and our wiki

Now’s the time to act. Please join us!

jon

PS: the easiest ways to stay in touch are via our Facebook feed or our announcements email list. And if you’re on other social network sites instead (Yahoo!, MySpace, SecondLife, YouTube), stay tuned: we might do something there as well.

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Email lists for “No blank check for Wall Street”

Just a quick note: I’ve set up a couple of email lists for No blank check for Wall Street;

– announcements (low-volume): http://groups.google.com/group/nbc4ws-announce

– discussion (potentially high-volume as we get larger): http://groups.google.com/group/nbc4ws-discuss

please join, and let your friends know!

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No blank check for Wall Street! (DRAFT)

DRAFT!

Final version posted on OpenLeft and Pam’s House Blend

Executive Summary: please check out the No blank check for Wall Street Facebook page, add yourself as a fan, let your friends know, and blog about it.

How to help:

If you’re on Facebook, it takes next to no time to sign up as a fan.  While you’re at it, please post a link to wherever you’re reading this to your profile, and share it with your friends; and maybe even write a note about it.

If you’re on other social network sites, please check the current list.  If you don’t see your site, please help out by starting up a No blank check for Wall Street! page there as well.

If you’re a blogger or journalist, why not cover this as an emerging story?  If it pans out, you’ll have a scoop.  When you get a chance, please add your article to the coverage page.

And if you use email, please send mail to your friends and ask them to join!

Details:

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Rant: I hate software

also posted on Pam’s House Blend.
for a good time, compare and contrast
how Soapblox (there) and WordPress (here)
display the URLs in the quotes 🙂

As a “grand old man” of the software engineering field of defect detection, I sometimes take it personally when I run into bugs or usability problems.  My IM friends are never surprised when I switch from a conversation on another topic to a rant about how it doesn’t need to be that way and running commentary about my search for a workaround while lamenting that so few companies — or open-source projects — bother to go for the rather-obvious competitive advantage of making software that works reliably and well.  It usually ends in comments in something like

jon: doesn’t look like there’s any way to get around it.  i hate software

friend: lol.  looks like you picked the wrong profession then

Ha ha.

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Reflections: what I learned during my summer vacation

Apologies to my friends and relatives for being out of touch this summer….

Rather than going to the beach, I instead hung out in a variety of exotic online locales: my.barackobama.com, Wetpaint, Facebook, and the blogosphere (especially OpenLeft, Shakesville, Pam’s House Blend, and Jack and Jill Politics).  It was kind of a working vacation, engaging in and observing activism projects while thinking about the chapter on social network activism for Tales from the Net.   With the equinox and fall upon us, it seems like a good time to take stock.

Get FISA Right logoGet FISA Right‘s start as a group of Senator Obama’s supporters using my.barackobama.com (myBO) to put pressure on him, and then evolving to a “50-state strategy”, really highlights the power of social network-based movements.  We quickly became the largest group on myBO, and then Obama replied to our open letter* giving more details about his position on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendment than he had discussed with the press.  Even though he didn’t change his position, sometimes all you can say is “w00t w00t!”

At that point, we cracked the mainstream media (MSM) in a big way: The NY Times!  Time! Meet the Press!  And I did my part too: on Radio Nation’s Air America, mentions in a bunch of articles including the Washington Post and Wired, a brief snippet on CNN … fifteen seconds of fame 🙂

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Poetry Friday: A web 2.0 poem

In addition to being a co-author on Tales from the Net, my brother Gregory K’s also a poet — best known for Fibs, fibonacci poetry, which wound up getting him a book deal after being featured on Slashdot.

In his latest, for this week’s poetry Friday, worlds collide:

I’M PRETTY WELL CONNECTED
(a Web 2.0 poem)
By
Gregory K.

I’m pretty well connected:
Facebook’s got my face.
I AIM and blog.
Of course I vlog.
Come see me at MySpace.

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A wiki, saving democracy?

But what about the votes that don’t count? What about the systematic attempts to erect barriers between voters and the ballot box? What about voter suppression?

In order to educate, document and mobilize action, I’m excited to introduce the Voter Suppression Wiki.

— Baratunde Thurston, Announcing The Launch Of The Voter Suppression Wiki – Learn, Report, Act on Jack and Jill Politics

In May, I was on a panel on e-Deceptive campaign practices at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference, and all the panelists agreed that with partisan feelings high and the polls likely to be close, this election would be particularly nasty from a voting rights perspective. Sure enough, potential issues are already cropping up: absentee ballot applications sent to voters with the wrong return addresses, a lawsuit in Wisconsin likely to cause incredibly-long lines at the polls, another suit in Ohio attempting to prevent people from voting when they register, misleading warnings from county officials in Virginia with the apparent purpose of discouraging college students from registering, and apparent plans to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters in Michigan that’s sparked a lawsuit from the Obama campaign.   And it’s only September!

Many forms of voter suppression* revolve around voter registration: voter caging and other ways of purging legitimate voters from databases, discouraging or preventing people from registering.  Others focus on preventing registered voters from actually voting: spreading false information about polling places, not providing enough ballots, intimidating rumors such as “you’ll be arrested if you have any outstanding parking tickets,” and poll workers not respecting voters’ rights.

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