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Get FISA Right gets partisan!

Get FISA Right logoThe new ad stars the Constitution as the main player, with the visual featuring a pan over founding documents. One version of the ad takes aim at the Republican Senators, who voted unanimously to extend the powers of government to listen to Americans’ phone calls and read their emails without a warrant; another highlights John McCain’s strong endorsement of the Bush Administration’s wiretapping policies over the last eight years.

— from Get FISA Right Directs Fire at McCain, GOP

Even though I push back on the media’s framing of civil liberties as a partisan issue — libertarians, greens, and “classic” conservatives value the Constitution just as highly as progressives — there’s no denying the Republican party’s party-line vote on FISA and McCain’s enthusiastic support for the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping efforts. With the conventions signalling a shift into high gear in the campaign, it seemed like a great time for Get FISA Right to complement our earlier non-partisan Don’t let our Constitution die ad.

As the discussion threads on the wiki page show, there were a lot of different ideas for what we might do. There was a tight deadline in order to get things ready to air by the RNC, so we wound up going with a very simple visual; and after some discussion, chose a couple of different voiceovers. We got the usual stellar help from saysme.tv, and I’m really happy with how the ads came out. Here’s one of them:

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One Million Strong: this week’s “other” convention

facebook logoEven without corporate sponsorships or prime-time coverage, the One Million Strong for Barack Facebook group’s online convention this week is a fascinating complement to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver.

Nobody’s quite sure how many of One Million Strong‘s 625,000 members are currently active, probably a few thousand. Unlike a lot of Facebook groups, there’s very active discussion: links to news, dissection of media and bias, and great real-time commentary during debates and speeches. There’s also plenty of socializing, off-topic Olympic threads, occasional trolling and rickrolling, and the longest-running group orgy I’ve ever been a part of — 2122 posts and counting!

The group’s main purpose, though, is action. During the primary campaign, the group focused on phonebanking, getting out the vote, and “know your rights” work. One of our most dramatic successes was during the confusing Texas primary/caucus where Monte got a call from somebody on the floor telling us how the information we had forwarded had saved the day. Another was when the group encouraged Matt, a 23-year-old, in a successful effort to become a delegate to the DNC, defeating a long-time party insider in the county caucuses.

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Evan Bayh: “Facebook me.” Progressives: “Sure!”

Written jointly with Ronit Aviva Dancis

Evan Bayh's stock price on the Intrade prediction markets

“Evan Bayh for Democratic VP Nominee” on Intrade Prediction Market

The last time we heard from Senator Evan Bayh was early July when he voted with the Republicans against all three amendments to strip telecom immunity from the FISA legislation. A month later, here was Max Bernstein’s Can Progressives Derail Evan Bayh’s VP Train via Facebook? kicking things off on Max and the Marginalized (“a band and a blog”):

At about 2am last night after a gig in Austin, we launched 100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP on Facebook. We have about 99,000 to go but we are growing at the rate of about 100 names per hour now.

FISA isn’t Bayh’s only issue in progressives’ eyes, of course; there’s also a few other minor matters, like him having co-sponsored the Iraq War Resolution, and the way his nomination would clash with Obama’s message of “change” (a point Mike Lux makes well in Opposing Bayh for VP) . So Max’ call struck a chord.

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Get FISA Right: Paging Clay Shirky


Wow, what a weekend. Friday, the Get FISA Right campaign was on CNN a couple of times (including a brief clip by me on American Morning that also got picked up internationally and a great discussion of Obama & Get FISA Right Activism by Ari Melber on CNN headline news where he challenged the left/right media narrative) and in TIME magazine. “That’s mainstream media, right?” I kept asking people; everybody reassured me the answer is yes. Over the weekend Laura Flanders talked with me and Ari on Radio Nation; and I heard we were discussed on Meet the Press today. Wow. Or did I say that already?

The overall situation is still what I described in my OpenLeft diary on Friday: now what? I’ve got my opinions of course; so do others. The discussion process over the next few weeks as we decide should be really interesting. See the Vision of the future thread on the discussion board for more, including my summary of the discussion so far and current thinking — and add your thoughts in as well.

There’s lots of other great stuff on the discussion boards, including planning for an organized attempt to influence the platform, meetups, and other activism ideas that may or may not pan out. There’s also a thread about the discussion of the direction of the email list, and that’s where Clay Shirky comes in. If you haven’t read his essay A group is its own worst enemy, now would be a very good time.

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It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re fighting for our civil liberties

Originally sent to the Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right mailing list.

I certainly don’t mean to trivialize the situation. There’s a huge amount at stake and the anger, frustration, and disappointment so many of us (including me) feel comes through in every post. Realistically, the odds are still against us.

Still. We have a chance. We’re in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and in a conversation with Barack and his aides. Like the vast majority of us who have weighed in so far, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the content of his response, and I wish it had come out earlier in the day, but even so … we’re managing to get our voice heard. We’re not out of it yet.

We could turn the tide; and even if not, at the very least we’ve succeeded in getting our message out. There are a lot of people in this country who care about civil liberties, and we are getting very tired of telecom donations being put ahead of the rule of law.

It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re fighting for our civil liberties. How cool is that?

jon

To celebrate Independence Day, the Get FISA Right wiki is currently featuring fireworks. I heart wikis.

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The first thing to do: set up a wiki

I remember hearing Zack Rosen of CivicSpace starting his talk about the team that put together the Katrina people finder by saying “one of the first things we did was set up a wiki” and it really struck a chord.

As an effort like Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right gets up and going, there’s a huge amount of information flying by in email (I think it peaked at well over 50 messages/hour), and new people constantly joining who need to get up to speed. Collecting information on a web site makes everybody more effective … and doing it on a wiki means that lots of people can contribute, not just me.

I had just started looking at Seattle-based Wetpaint* for another project, and it seemed like a good match for this: decent site templates, an easy-to-use editor, and the ability to put discussion threads on each page. So I figured it was worth trying.

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“What’s an activism campaign these days without a Facebook presence?”

Mail to the Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right mailing list. See the wiki for more context. 2200 members and growing

Update, July 1: 8600+ members on myBO — moving into #2 in the top 10 groups. Coverage in The Nation, Wired, Slashdot, The New Right, and zillions of other pages. See the wiki for more! The Facebook group has over 300 people so far …

what’s an activism campaign these days without a Facebook presence?

so I set up the “Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right” Facebook group to make it easier to do outreach there. Many of us have a lot more FB friends than myBO friends, and with 20 invites/day it’s great for viral spread. In fact there are already 17 people there. A lot of people (including me) complain about Facebook groups’ lack of functionality, but they can easily get hundreds of thousands of members fairly quickly.

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NYTimes criticizes, reinforces NYTimes smear on Obama, Muslims

NY Times LogoAn op-ed piece by Edward Luttwak the New York Times last week relied on a very questionable description of Obama as a “Muslim apostate” to argue that he’d have a hard time reaching out to Muslim leaders and would be at risk of assassination if he visited any countries with a lot of Muslims. It was widely criticized in the blogosphere.

Yesterday, Clark Hoyt, the “public editor”, weighed in:

I interviewed five Islamic scholars, at five American universities, recommended by a variety of sources as experts in the field. All of them said that Luttwak’s interpretation of Islamic law was wrong….

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E-Deceptive Campaign Practices: “Elections 2.0”

I’m at a tutorial on Tuesday discussing “elections 2.0” at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference, and one of the things I want to cover is Web 2.0 technologies’ positive role in countering deceptive campaign practices. I’m planning on using some examples from the Obama activism work I’ve been doing on Facebook, as well as some other sites I’ve tracked:

  • the “know your rights” work the One Million Strong for Barack group did for Texas and Ohio. group members got calls from a couple of people who had attended the Texas caucuses saying how valuable it was
  • the Courage Campaign’s “count every vote” petition in Los Angeles County, which led to counting most (not all) of the votes on the deceptive ballots
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Hillary Clinton Facebook group overrun by troll mob

a trollThe Hillary Clinton group got overrun with trolls last night. A Facebook bug — that’s been reported and unfixed since February — prevented the admins from being able to react. I saved a snapshot of a series of 25 threads with sexist (and in many cases racist) subjects; I won’t quote them, but trust me, they’re vile. In the middle of this was a plaintive plea for adult behavior by an Obama supporter — with a bunch of responses from trolls. Sigh.

Update: Will Bower’s Glitch-Plagued Clinton Facebook Group Cries Foul; Obama Page Glitch Free in the Huffington Post has administrator Candy Elizabeth’s excellent open letter.  Why yes, now that you mention it, that is the same Will Bower who was mentioned in comments in How to respond when Facebook censors your political speech on Tales from the net.  Small world!

Members of the Clinton group migrated to a private group, always a good thing to do in a situation like this. This morning, the board seems calmer but it’s hard to know whether that’s just a temporary lull. There are aftermath threads like since only the trollzz are here thread and (in the Obama group) The Hillary group has become a trollfest.

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This just in: Obama defriends Wright on Facebook!

facebook logoAndy Borowitz breaks the story in the Huffington Post:

In an act that campaign insiders said indicated an irrevocable break with his former pastor, Sen. Barack Obama today de-friended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Facebook.

It looks like all the fears about the divisiveness within the Democratic party are, if anything, understated. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. According to Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod:

“Every day, Rev. Wright was sending Sen. Obama new Facebook applications like ‘What Superhero Are You?’ and ‘What 1980’s Toy Are You?'” Mr. Axelrod said. “After awhile, enough is enough.”

Yeah really.

The One Million Strong for Barack group is reeling over the news. Discussion here.  Thanks to Wintana for posting this — there’s been a disgraceful lack of coverage in the mainstream media.

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“Election falsification” and other voting issues in Ohio (updated)

Update, March 27: The Columbus Dispatch reports statewide officials say prosecution for Limbaugh is very unlikely: “lying through your teeth and being stupid isn’t a crime.” Ari Melber’s Limbaugh’s Lying Voters Under Investigation on The Nation’s Campaign Matters blog has a lot more.

Kim Zetter’s The Mysterious Case of Ohio’s Voting Machines, on Wired’s THREAT LEVEL, has context for Ohio in general. From earlier in the month, Lingering questions in Ohio and Uncounted delegates & Ohio’s delegate math on Dan Tokaji’s excellent Equal Votes Blog cover the equally-important non-Limbaugh issues.

(originally posted March 7)

streets blocked outside the polling location

Art House Queen’s picture of the streets blocked surrounding the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections symbolizes voter disenfranchisement across the state. They ran out of ballots in Sandusky County and Franklin County; voting machines broke down in Montgomery County and no doubt elsewhere; a dozen computer memory cards spent the night in the back of a sherriff’s van in Lucas County before being counted; in Obama stronghold Cuyahoga County, voter privacy was compromised and huge numbers of provisional ballots still haven’t been counted.

The Secretary of State is “very pleased”, citing it as improvement over 2004 despite horrible weather; and very importantly, the move to paper ballots in Cuyahoga County went well, and the state’s pressuring Diebold to refund the $21 million for the decertified voting machines. Democracy in America, 2008. Nothing to see here, move along, move along …

Except …

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