Change.gov


Still wrapping my head around this, but it sure is interesting at first glance -- in part because of the speed in which it was launched. Change.gov is a website launched by the Obama team's Presidential Transition Project which documents the transition into power and solicits ideas from the public. Change.gov (Thanks, Nate Westheimer)

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  1. I saw this earlier today. Very smart and – hopefully – a sign of our new era of direct involvement of us all at the reigns of power. Let’s participate and see how far this goes and how long it lasts.

    Cheers.

  2. The marketer in me realizes this is all designed to make us feel more a part of things than we are, but the Mac user in me is itching to see Macworld keynotes taken to a global thermonuclear level. Perplexing.

  3. I am glad I saw this. Just today I started a Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=35583508245) to help keep people informed and involved in the whole process from here forward. I fear the choices for Treasury of Secretary are not looking good and it motivated me that much more. The election is over, but now we must work that much harder to remain involved in the democracy!

  4. I posted the site to my digg page and FB, I hope they keep it running after his inauguration. It will be a great accessibility tool for the public & brings the White House out of the stone age. Can’t wait to see how it develops!

  5. The speed is likely due to a number of pages and the general feel being taken from his campaign website.

    barackobama.com vs. change.gov

    Honestly, that is brilliant.

    They did change a number of things but the main devices around getting involved in the campaign have been translated.

  6. I used one of his little forms to tell him to consider Lessig for the FCC and Shneier for Homeland Security, as discussed in the open election thread. Please you guys do so too!

  7. Check out the additional issues page: Sportsmen (hunters and anglers) nestled right in there with Science and Transportation.

    Snark snark?

  8. Thanks for posting about this, Xeni, it’s great to get that reminder that things aren’t “over” simply because Obama won the election. What a wonderful way to begin his term …

  9. #

    Strengthen Federal Leadership on Cyber Security: Barack Obama will declare the cyber infrastructure a strategic asset and will establish the position of national cyber advisor who will report directly to the president and will be responsible for coordinating federal agency efforts and development of national cyber policy.

  10. I don’t trust him 100% (he’s still a politician) until he proves himself, but he’s far better than the alternative.
    Keep pushing them to make these improvements. Don’t let it just be a PR thing. Make them accountable.
    Don’t just sit back and do nothing just because he’s won. Help make it happen. Keep up the momentum!

  11. Sort of sad that there’s no mention of rolling back all the civil rights hits that Bush has put into play.

  12. Wow, nice! Can you believe we almost got stuck with a president who doesn’t use a computer? Here’s to the future!

  13. Masterful Marketers!

    Obama’s social media team and campaign staffers have formed the most impressive distribution channel I’ve ever seen from ANY political candidate.

    AdAge described the Obama teams savvy in positioning, not merely communicating, Obama stands for change.

    When voters thought about their desire for a change from the status quo, economy, price of gas -bing!- Barack Obama.

    Coke, Pepsi, CDW, and other corporations are discussed for their lack of a consistent, enduring message.

    Change is coming … now we get to see the corporate big budget marketing ‘mavericks’ try to hitch their ropes to a shining star.

  14. Sort of sad that there’s no mention of rolling back all the civil rights hits that Bush has put into play.

    Rather, ending the wars and restoring civil liberties goes without saying.

  15. I’m interested to find out what positions are being offered if you sign up in the ‘Jobs’ section.

    As for the hasty launch, I’m sure it was set and ready to go weeks ago. And it doesn’t seem like he is going to waste time with anything. On monday he’s holding a press conference. A first for any President-Elect!

  16. You know, my first thought was “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a wiki-like revision history on this” so we could see how his promises change over time.

    But then I realized that it’s probably better for somebody outside of the government to do that. To add an air of accountability to the whole thing.

    I do like how little easy practical tweaks to the system (like airing bills headed for the President for five days on the Internet) are slid in there along side big things that need to make it through congress (like spending ___ million on _____)

  17. here’s the core, start filing off serial numbers and adding appropriate lyrics;

    It never gets old, huh?”
    “nope”
    It kinda makes you wanna…break into song? Yupp
    I love the mountains, I love the clear blue sky
    I love big bridges, I love when great whites fly
    I love the whole world, and all it’s sights and sounds
    Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada
    I love the ocean, I love real dirty things
    I love to go fast, I love Egyptian kings
    I love the whole world and all it’s craziness
    Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada
    I love tornadoes, I love arachnids
    I love hot magma, I love the giant squids
    I love the whole world, Its such a brilliant place
    Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada, BoomdeyadaBoomdeyada, Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada, BoomdeyadaBoomdeyada, Boomdeyada, Boomdeyada,

  18. I think it’s worth noting here that you don’t need to be an American (or posing as one) to post your vision for a changed America.

  19. Well, count me as impressed.

    This is the kind of thing in government that should have come about around 2000. Nice to finally see it!

    As was already mentioned, I hope it persists post inauguration day.

    Maybe I’m a fool for letting myself be swept along, but I feel like I felt when I was in my early twenties rather than my soon to be forty self. Optimism over tired and ground in pessimism.

    Suppose this means I need to turn in my Cynics Platinum Card now. Bah.

    Anyway, took the time to submit what I hope was a thoughtful list of ideas for the near future. I know some over worked staffer will be the one to read it, but if enough of us hit on common and important themes then perhaps we’ll see them addressed and incorporated…or maybe I’m just some overly hopeful fool…but I’ll take that over the horrid pessimism I have had for the past way too many years.

    Thanks for pointing the site out to us, Xeni. Sent the info out to a number of folks who don’t read the Boing (at least not that I know of…).

  20. #15 Takuan:

    IIRC, this is the position that Eric Schmidt, Google CEO and Obama’s tech advisor, was rumored to be taking, but he denied it.

  21. #20 Zuzu:

    You should be right. But this is too important to let simply be taken for granted.

    and

    #9 Nora:

    You are my hero for the day.

  22. I realize my following question is directly related to this article trust Boing Boingers, so…

    What’s the true story about Obama’s “civilian army” comment? Feel free to email me privately so I don’t clog up this thread (or answer here). Everything I’ve seen online so far is far right-wing and reactionary.

    Dave
    davidabarak@gmail.com

  23. Does anybody know if they have any posters we can print out promoting the site? I would like to advertise that site in a few places around my town.

  24. From the Homeland Security Section: Barack Obama believes we must redouble our efforts to determine if the measures implemented since 9/11 are adequately addressing the threats our nation continues to face from airplane-based terrorism. Airline passengers are still not screened against a comprehensive terrorist watch list. Such a list must be developed and used in a way that safeguards passengers’ privacy while ensuring the safety of air travel.

    I wonder if he’s planning on scrapping the list that exists and using a smaller, more helpful list. I hope he plans on a massive restructuring of the crappy TSA we have now, if he doesn’t just scrap it altogether.

    I am impressed with the whole site though, and I hope it lasts into his presidency. I’m still very excited for this whole wave of change!

  25. #25 Marc Kelsey
    As a dirty foreigner, one of the issues that interest the must me are imigration policies. Those people crossing the desert should at least be treated with more respect. Also, the fences on the mexican border are an offence.
    Could someone with better skills with the english language post something like this there, and post it here too? Thanks!

  26. from Changegov.

    The Problem

    Undocumented population is exploding: The number of undocumented immigrants in the country has increased more than 40 percent since 2000. Every year, more than a half-million people come illegally or illegally overstay their visas.

    Immigration bureaucracy is broken: The immigration bureaucracy is broken and overwhelmed, forcing legal immigrants to wait years for applications.

    Immigration raids are ineffective: Despite a sevenfold increase in recent years, immigration raids only netted 3,600 arrests in 2006 and have placed all the burdens of a broken system onto immigrant families.

  27. Also:

    “””
    Work with Mexico

    Obama and Biden believe we need to do more to promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration.
    “””

    Now this is a progressive initiative.

  28. Marc Kelsey I would think they would filter out all non US IP addresses, but then what about Americans overseas? If you have some way of assuring only Americans input into the system that doesn’t require a passport, digital certs, etc., I am all ears. Besides, if the British government was to do this I would care less and not waste 30 seconds of my time with it.

    Time to step up people. This only works if you are willing to give to make your government work. Sitting back on your sofa in front of the boob tube or skiing at Sugarloaf won’t accomplish jack. Our problems are too big to simply let politicians and special interests solve on their own. Time to empower the right people to do the right thing and make sure that those that would be roadblocks are neutered.

  29. I want redistricting taken away from the politicians. Google Maps + verified local users draw out congressional districts right on the screen. Then haggle over the boundaries in a wiki.

  30. Here’s what I just posted as my “Vision for America”. It’s short, but sweet.

    I see a country that, when asked if we can fight terror without torture, when asked if we can defeat evil with good, when asked if we can preserve the American ideal of the rule of law even in this modern world — says, “Yes we can.” That’s the change I can believe in, the change that shouldn’t even have been necessary. The change back to the America I was taught to love.

    Why do the search terms “torture” and “Guantanamo” return 0 hits on this site?

    All that said, I still think I’m in love. What is this, interactive government or something?

  31. I’m trying not to hope. I want it to be real, but after the last 8 years I’m so cynical and filled with hate for greedy, manipulative people who think nothing of trampling on anyone and everyone so they can make a buck, that I can’t do it.

    I’ve lost my faith that there are enough good, compassionate people left in this country to make it a place where we can all have a fair shot at being happy.

    I won’t let that stop me though, they really might be giants.

  32. Mikelotus, Noen, Noren: Great suggestions! There have been a lot of really intelligent and positive comments in this thread. Wolfiesma@7: FTMFW!

    Daemon@17: Good suggestion too. Put it in, instead of asking why it’s not found. O has said as much, but it’s good to add your voice to the chorus. The ACLU has a few suggestions on this too, for starters.

  33. one of my friends put it this way: It’s like when the grinch first felt love, “What is this strange thing I feel? Is this… is this pride at being an American?”

    God, I hope these people (Obama and his team) are for real

  34. Everything this man and his team do, keeps giving me hope. I am starting to believe he fully understands the implications of failure, not just economically or by any other physical yardstick.

    He has inspired hope around the world like no other president elect. Everyone keeps talking about crying with joy and relief. Does anyone remember crying like this over any election, other than one lost? The whole world burst into spontaneous tears of joy, people were dancing in the streets in Indonesia, Africa, Europe, South America, everywhere, like it was a millennium celebration, which it was. This hope and goodwill cannot be squandered like it was seven years ago.

    I truly feel sorry for those that did not come to support this man, even late as I did. They cannot understand or share in this since of hope. They will spend the next four years doing everything to bring this man down. They refuse to look beyond their own self interest, their own borders.

    I have said this before, the core group of Bush/McCain supporters thinks the rest of the world just doesn’t get it. Even this outpouring of joy, from billions of people who could not vote, will not change their minds. The whole world held its breath waiting to see if we were going to build a fence or reach out to them. We did not disappoint. I believe he knows this like no other. This site proves it, I hope he uses it well.

  35. I’m with Xeni on that one: let’s put this under evaluation.

    I already striked out that this can ever be participatory government or even interactive government. It is just impractical to implement and I wonder if it would lead to anything else then wide spread ‘malcontentment’: every one would want his or her idea to prevail exactly as they expressed it (or worse as they weren’t able to express it), that’s only human, and any divergence from it would be resented.

    So I am with RStevens too: this looks like marketing and I’d add ‘most definitively’. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all: marketing is about finding the right product to sell, fine tuning it to the needs of the customer within the limits of the possible and closing the deal with the customer. Marketers know how to keep the satisfaction level as high as possible and how to come the closest to consensus possible. If political products start to sell like Ipods or John Hodgman who’s to complain?

  36. This is making me think about so many things. A memory just popped into my mind. The memory is one of standing in a hallway in the sixth grade, waiting in line at the water fountain. A *colored boy* in front had just finished drinking, the white boy behind him could not bring himself to drink after him. Cutting out of line, I stepped up to that fountain, and with no small amount of fear took a drink. This story is not about what I did, I probably just did it to appear brave, like taking a dare. This is about the fear that was implanted in me that drinking after this kid could harm me and how he must have felt that these kids would not drink after him. Tuesday, most of us cut out of line and took that drink together. The whole world watched and cried with joy.

  37. @Mikelotus I said that you don’t need to be an American to be able to comment, not that only Americans should be able to comment. As a non-American, I agree with you that, if it were any other country in the world doing this, I might not give a shit (well, maybe China :). Since it’s the States, though, I hope that my comments, however small, might encourage them to act like international laws matter, and the global environment matters, etc. etc.

    Of course, if I feel like travelling to the States ever again, my comments will be more thoughtful and even-tempered :)

  38. I will say that driving out to the beach yesterday, I suddenly realized that I was thinking favorably on the topic of Puerto Rican statehood for the first time since moving here.

    It was weird. I feel like my country, having left me, just looked back over its shoulder.

  39. I’m not sure what Obama thinks about gun rights, but he certainly seems to favor the shotgun policy style. Throw hundreds and hundreds of innocuous ideas out there, but make sure they don’t risk offending anyone or representing any real, fundamental change, and see what sticks.

    To what extent was he elected because people support his very active philosophy of governance, and what extend was it merely a repudiation of Bush? It’s an open question, and a valid one – because it is hard to argue that the problem with the Bush regime is that they didn’t do enough. No, indeed, they were plenty busy themselves as well.

    It makes me think of page 57 of the Tao Te Ching:

    “The more restrictions and limitations there are, the more impoverished men will be …

    The more rules and precepts are enforced, the more bandits and crooks will be produced.

    Hence, we have the words of the wise [ruler]: Through my non-action, men are spontaneously transformed.

    Through my quiescence, men spontaneously become tranquil.

    Through my non-interfering, men spontaneously increase their wealth.”

    or, to put it more concisely, again quoting Lao Tzu:

    “Governing a large country is like frying a small fish. You spoil it with too much poking”.

    Frankly, and a bit cynically, this site seems to be his campaign site copy and pasted to a nother domain, with a web form thrown on for good measure. Great marketing, feels good. Not any different from writing the white house conventionally. Welcome to the start of the 2012 campaign.

    As a side note, where is the talk of civil liberties, the patriot act? Isn’t that the #1 “Change” he is mandated to implement? Apparently it isn’t on the agenda. @20: Yes, changing these things “goes without saying”, hopefully they don’t go unsaid for the entirety of his term.

  40. I wrote in and asked that he abolish DHS and the TSA…and also to BANISH the word “homeland” when referring to the United States of America…that word has always had fascist overtones to many peoples ears. A new and independent investigation to 9/11 wouldn’t hurt either….this time with Bush and Cheney under oath.

  41. He keeps using that word (change). I do not think it means what he thinks it means…

    Seriously Emanuel as chief of staff? Look who he’s meeting with about cabinet positions. Since when does change mean bringing the old guard back into power?

  42. Since when does change mean bringing the old guard back into power?

    I have a hard time calling Obama ‘old-guard’ JUST YET. What ever do you mean? That he should only ally himself with people YOU’ve never heard of?

    Now is the time when we watch and discuss. Apparently it’s even the time we offer them feedback (that’s new). So please save your bottle and rotten veg throwing for Jan 21.

  43. Yes, changing these things “goes without saying”, hopefully they don’t go unsaid for the entirety of his term.

    Yeah, I meant that within BoingBoing comments specifically. Clearly restoring civil liberties must be at the forefront of the larger political dialogue / “mandate”.

    I wrote in and asked that he abolish DHS and the TSA…and also to BANISH the word “homeland” when referring to the United States of America…that word has always had fascist overtones to many peoples ears.

    Right. Basically, restore the nation to how Bill Clinton left it at the end of his presidency. Undo the past 8 years!

  44. Here’s a minor disappointment (in a sea of jope and happiness that the presidency and this website represent): the blog posts aren’t signed.

    Not that I expect them to be written by Obama, but that’s exactly the point: they are not written by Obama, but by leaving them unsigned they are making them out to be written by “the team,” which decreases personality but also accountability.

    I would much rather see that they were written by Joe Schmo, Junior Communications Director than not at all.

    Also, because if Obama or Biden ever were to contribute, it would be that much more important.

    It’s exactly the same as the fact that the emails were always written by somebody, a whole cast of somebodies in fact, which allowed us to get to know them and get to trust them.

  45. Can I just be an overseas curmudgeon here for a moment? Much the same thing happened in the UK in 1997: after 18 years of a right wing Conservative government there was a genuine feeling of hope when Labour were elected by an enormous landslide. There was talk that it could change the face of British politics forever, with the vastly discredited right sidelined and possibly even replaced by the perpetual third party Liberal Democrats as the opposition. Eleven years later, for all that Labour supporters would tell you about successful redistribution of wealth, the majority of the UK feels financially stretched, underrepresented by its government and increasingly repressed by the ‘security’ measures, while looking forward to the almost certain change in government at the next election – to the same Conservative party that appeared on the verge of extinction, and which for all its veneer of greenness and reform still advocates tax cuts, reduced public services, privatisation and ‘choice’ at its heart.
    I really hope something good comes out of the new US government, as it would have to work hard to do worse than the lizards that have run the US for most of the last 30 years, but the reality will be that there isn’t a huge amount of room to manoeuvre and that Obama and his cabinet won’t know what they can do until Bush chucks him the front door keys and goes off to finish colouring in his library. But for the moment, if you don’t mind, I’m sticking with my two cheers.

  46. “I have a hard time calling Obama ‘old-guard’ JUST YET. What ever do you mean? That he should only ally himself with people YOU’ve never heard of?”

    Quite the contrary. He should pick well known, well respected people. If he’s going to claim “change” though, at least some/most of them should be Washington outsiders. Not the Clinton administration mk2.

    I wouldn’t call Obama ‘old-guard’ either. But it’s an appropriate term for most of the people he’s picking to staff his administration thus far.

  47. Simon, the big difference between England in 1997 and the US today is when Labor was elected few outside England knew or cared. This Tuesday the world waited for our vote, then burst into spontaneous applause at our victory over fear and hate. My hope and belief is this American man’s connections to Africa and Indonesia will help him remember the billions of people in this country and around the world, many without hope, who found cause to celebrate this victory.

    This will either be the best opportunity to rehabilitate the United States image or he will turn his back not just on his own country, but every person in this world that took to the streets this week. I don’t think he is going to do that; I think the pressure is on Congress. The Congress is going to be his Achilles heel.

    I’m also counting on his sense of history. He is a very smart person and I don’t believe he is going to do anything to negatively affect his place in history and the hope so many have placed in him as the First American President of African-American descent.

  48. OK, so I realized something. Change.gov is just the issues page of his campaign website copied and pasted onto a .gov domain, with a web form tacked on. Hardly revolutionary. And it becomes more blatantly a marketing, rathering than outreach, effort. This supports my central belief about Obama: his #1 job is marketing the credibility of the office of president and the Federal Government. The change in perception will be dramatic.

    OK, going a bit more specific. Just off the cuff, positive and negative things, having read about half of it line by line, there’s a thin line between optimism and hubris.

    POSITIVE:

    +Actually encourages people from all over the world to put their voice in.

    +”Foreswears permanent bases in Iraq.”

    +Mentions removing the sentencing difference between coke and crack (which biden ironically sponsored 20 years ago).

    +Calls for reforming the military contracting process.

    +Calls for a “nuclear-free world.” But then says that “America will not disarm unilaterally.” So, wait for everyone else to, then promise to do it ourselves. OK. Says he will cut nukes if Russia does.

    +Calls for the creation of a “Privacy and Civil Liberties Board” with subpoena powers. In other words, instead of risking political heat for calling for specific changes, just make a panel to solve all the problems.

    +Middle class tax cuts, small business tax cuts, and tax code simplifications, all good things.

    +Talks about “amending NAFTA,” but without any detail of what this might mean.

    +$150 to create 5 million “green jobs.” OK, sounds good, the green economy certainly is one of the most promising waves of the future, but the feasibility of this proposal is suspect. Government contracts can only create so many jobs. Still, a positive.

    +Some other a few good economics points, and many that sound good. Conspicious in it’s absence is any acknowledgement of the fact that the #1 responsibility our government has for the economy is digging itself out of the financial hole which is going to result in a $50 Trillion bill in our mail in a few years time.

    +Create a database of lobbyists and contracts: If publicly searchable, this sounds like a great idea.

    +Openness in government, more records and communications positive: very refreshing that he brings this up, it would be a welcome change.

    +Call for ending the revolving door between corporations, lobbyists, political positions: fantastic. This is a change that almost anyone could agree would be positive.

    +Calls for more diplomacy with thorny regimes. Certainly far preferable to stony silence.

    Negative:

    -“Obama will responsibly end the war in Iraq and focus on the right battlefield in Afghanistan.” The right battlefield? Trying to subdue a people who have not been subdued in a millenia of bloodshed? This is his #1 homeland security initiative, not ending the war but moving it. Not a good start.

    -“Hate crimes legislation” which is the idea that a crime should be punished more severely judged on what the defendant is perceived to have been thinking at the time. Quite disturbing, and a back door for more police power.

    -Does not discuss the inherent racism of the War on Drugs other than the crack/coke sentencing disparity.

    -“Airline passengers are still not screened against a comprehensive terrorist watch list.” – really?

    -$1,000 rebate to Americans – all well and good, but how is it different from Bush’s $700 “stimulus?” Betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the cause of the crisis. Would be fine, except that it’s the #1 item on the Economic list, and is repeated twice. There’s vision for you.

    -Mentions the deficit crisis. And then provides some pathetically weak solutions to it. Good luck cutting $500B of pork barrel spending. It’s going to be the empire or medicare. Take your pick. Addings a host of new spending programs won’t help.

    -“Swap over oil from the strategic reserves to cut prices.” I’m not in America, but haven’t prices fallen a whole lot recently? Surely this wasn’t written in the last week? Oh, right, copy and paste job written over the summer. That being said, it’s amazing how light it is on environmental issues.

    -Manages to say basically nothing on his health care plan page. Which is probably good, because the last thing we need in America today is pharmaceuticals for everybody. If you are not talking about nutrition, you are not talking about fundamentally changing the shape of health care in America.

    -Says that Iran must stop its nuclear program, even though they are allowed a domestic nuclear energy program in the NPT that they signed. Also, makes the assertation boldly that Iran “denied the holocaust.” Talking about the “myth” of the holocaust is not denial. One could talk about the “myth” of the Beatles, without denying their influence in any way – just meaning that their story was carried by others and they took on a life bigger than themselves. Is going to say something about Russia, but sloppily cuts off mid sentence.

    -Calls for increasing the size of the military. Does not call for any reduction in funding. Calls for “strengthening” NATO. Does not question in any way the global military empire we maintain. This is the #1 reason why I feel that he is a false agent of change, in the service of the same old people.

    -No mention of toture.

    -No mention of Guantanamo.

    -No mention of any specific civil liberties changes.

    -No mention of domestic spying.

    -No mention of the Patriot Act.

    Now, all of these might not be important..he isn’t president yet, after all. But he sure finds room to discuss a whole heap of other stuff, and yet fails to mention the “change” that some of his most dedicated supporters have a burning desire for.

    Please note that I am holding him to a higher standard than I otherwise would, a standard that he has set for himself. He has marketed himself as being a bearer of epochal change for America. But examining the details of what he proposes, he does not deliver the goods.

    All starry eyed Obama fans should read his page on “defense.” It’s sobering. It is hard to imagine any real “change” without questioning the military/industrial complex. This is the primary reason why I feel that he is a false change agent, and primarily a more effective spokeman for the corporate class. If you are not questioning the military empire, if you are not questioning the budding police state, if you are not asking what to do about the Federal government’s impending bankruptcy, then you do not represent real change. Incrementally better than Bush is not “change” – at least not the change that people are expecting and deserve in this country.

  49. To all posting about the lack of mention on the website about the Patriot Act. Do something about it! Leave a comment about the exclusion of the Patriot Act, if there are enough comments, it can not be ignored. Make it become a priority. Just don’t biatch in a weblog about.

  50. This made me very, very happy this morning when I went to the site. I have supported Mr. Obama for some time now and my feelings continue to be enforced. As with #37, Cloudform above, the first thing that came to mind was what if McCain had won? Would we have ever seen something like this? I don’t think so. I wonder what Mr. McCain’s and Ms. Palin’s views are on net neutrality?

  51. I think this is flashy PR and a way to get “applicants” on a big mailing list that will be difficult to get off of.

    All the same, any form of governance that incorporates grassroots beyond the sole purpose of campaigning is a useful system.

  52. I added: My vision is for a country that doesn’t spy on its own people, doesn’t pass Draconian measures that don’t add value but only contribute to security theatre. My vision is for a country where the culture of fear is abandoned, and meaningful information is provided to allow informed decisions. My vision is for a country where “The Department of Homeland Security” is a distant memory, where the “Patriot Act” is an acknowledged failure, where transportation security wasn’t a group of thugs abusing the traveling public, where the environment isn’t raped by Presidential decree, and where America is again an example for other nations to admire.

  53. #68:

    I don’t know about the mailing list, but I’m fairly certain it’s PR. Just from a practical standpoint, if the site is popular there will be no way to sort through all the submissions to make sense of any of them. None of these will ever reach the President.

    It’s a PR stunt to make people feel involved (without actually giving them any real involvement).

  54. Ivan256@70: “It’s a PR stunt to make people feel involved (without actually giving them any real involvement).

    How can you be sure? Your cynicism does not make you an authority. Obviously they are going to get a huge amount of responses, but who’s to say the appropriate resources could not be tapped to parse the information? Identifying keywords that occur with a threshold of repetition would be a relatively easy thing to do, and filtering these down to reports that show what key issues people are concerned about would be pretty elementary as well. This is the least of the possibilities.

    These days the technology is there to even zero in on a great idea someone may have with additional granularity. I think it’s great that O is soliciting the opinions of the People. It is unprecedented. Such data would be too useful to be ignored. There are so many ways they could apply it, many of which have been mentioned previously in this thread. And what would you suggest? Simply asking is showing they are willing to try new approaches and don’t believe they know all of the answers, which is refreshing.

  55. The best thing about change.gov is it implies a dynamic presence for the administration. We web nerds are best when we’re helping point out oversights and putting pressure on things; with an online outlet, there’s little excuse for this administration to be unresponsive. Obama’s win may have turned the key, but we can all help steer.

  56. #72 How can you be sure? Your cynicism does not make you an authority.

    #73 “A dynamic presence”

    Umm..it’s a webform. It is something that has existed since 1993 or so. There is no difference whatsoever between entering something here and writing an email to “barack@whitehouse.gov”

    There is nothing collaborative or web 2.0 about this. It is a very top down affair – you write us, if we like what you say, we will listen. 100%, you will get a polite canned email in response and get put on a mailing list.

    He would at least get geek points if he had set up some kind of Wiki, or opened up all of his “Agendas” pages to public commenting. A web form that leads to some big inbox in D.C. does not change make.

  57. Zuzu: Because if the editors and many posting here thought it was simply business as usual, they would not have featured it or commented on it enthusiastically. Why do some people have to be such whiny naysayers when something comes along that might be cool and new if they’d give it a chance? It’s all too easy to shoot something down just because it doesn’t meet certain particular standards.

    The excellent moderators we have here have to work very hard to keep things civil here on controversial issues. Can you imagine moderating such an open and huge forum? I would not envy their task.

    Maybe simply the fact that the new team is inviting input in an easy and high profile format shows a sea change already in the way politics have been done in this country, especially for the past 8 years.

    To me this seems either very cynical, narrow minded or astroturfing, which is what I basically called it.

  58. Why do some people have to be such whiny naysayers when something comes along that might be cool and new if they’d give it a chance? It’s all too easy to shoot something down just because it doesn’t meet certain particular standards.

    Because people are also getting fanboyish about all this “hope”. We need more cynicism in politics, not less.

    In my view, things were most correct in the 1990s (post-Communism, pre-Terrorism), which Adam Curtis described as such:

    In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this, but their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered their people. Those dreams failed and today people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life

    I gave the webform a shot in the dark; but ultimately I believe Zyodei’s critique to be the most honestly accurate. It is just a webform, not an open society peer-review like a Wiki.

    Can you imagine moderating such an open and huge forum?

    Man, I remember USENET.

    Not to mention, there’s always P2P moderation such as Slashcode / whuffies.

  59. Zuzu: “We need more cynicism in politics, not less.”

    No. We don’t need more cynicism in politics. Healthy skepticism, like “Still wrapping my head around this, but it sure is interesting at first glance” is a good thing, but cynicism? No. Cynicism allows people to always think the least of a given situation or person; to always look at the worst side or worst case scenario. This is no more realistic than any other arbitrary point of view and often leads to Machiavellian tactics and false equivalencies of narrow minded short-sightedness. Cynicism will not imagine new ways to meet the challenges of the present nor the future. Cynicism creates no new possibilities or solutions. Cynicism is an old familiar, comfortable trap you use to stifle your hope, but it can never be satisfied. It will rob the joy from your life and leave you bitter and cold. Cynicism almost killed our democracy.

    So what the hell is wrong with a little healthy hope? What’s so funny about peace love and understanding?

    You have suggestions, so again I echo others here in this thread: you know where to put them.

  60. Thanks Phikus, I too have had my fill of cynicism, let’s at least wait a few more hours before returning our hope to it’s chest. It’s been so damn long in coming, I want to hold onto it a little longer.

    Zuzu, I think it is quite evident this group has a very healthy, some may even say pathological cynicism, can’t we just enjoy this for now. The people whose comments I enjoy here are likely to jump, and I love saying this, President Elect O’bama’s chit when the time comes.

    President Elect O’bama
    President Elect O’bama
    President Elect O’bama

    Doesn’t that feel great! I’m a fanboy, who barely got on the train in time, I ain’t gettin’ off just yet.

  61. It’s a PR stunt to make people feel involved (without actually giving them any real involvement).

    You know, there IS one big difference.

    The Bush admin was decidedly against listening, to the point of working against those who shared even slightly contrary opinions.

    So even if the staff-elect isn’t listening, at least they are “pretending to” listen rather than dictate to us.

  62. Doesn’t that feel great! I’m a fanboy, who barely got on the train in time, I ain’t gettin’ off just yet.

    Yeah, it’s definitely the fanboy part that bothers me, generally.

    Again, another Simpsons quote captures the realism I think we need to embrace as an ideal:

    Lisa Simpson: We’re the MTV generation; we feel neither highs nor lows.
    Homer: Really, what’s it like?
    Lisa: [shrugs] Meh.

  63. So even if the staff-elect isn’t listening, at least they are “pretending to” listen rather than dictate to us.

    Is this better? I think it’s worse. At least before we all knew we were being ignored. Now we’re just being patronized, which in turn actually makes it easier for them to shepherd us.

    “That sounds like a wonderful idea. I’ll be sure to look into it for you.”

  64. Zuzu, come on, why do you quote the last thing I say as though it was all I said. What about this part:

    Zuzu, I think it is quite evident this group has a very healthy, some may even say pathological cynicism, can’t we just enjoy this for now. The people whose comments I enjoy here are likely to jump, and I love saying this, President Elect O’bama’s chit when the time comes.

    If your not more careful people may start wishing that whatever it is that crawled up your ass, takes the stick in your ass and beats the crap out of you. We are just trying to enjoy a little break in the fukin cynicism. Ok?

    Just realized I made him an Honorary Irishman, hope he has more luck then we have enjoyed.

  65. Is this better? I think it’s worse. At least before we all knew we were being ignored. Now we’re just being patronized, which in turn actually makes it easier for them to shepherd us.

    Ask Phil Donahue or Dan Rather if they felt ignored for dissenting.

  66. Zuzu, come on, why do you quote the last thing I say as though it was all I said.

    I quoted the part that was pertinent to the reply. I’m fine with the other part.

    If your not more careful people may start wishing that whatever it is that crawled up your ass, takes the stick in your ass and beats the crap out of you. We are just trying to enjoy a little break in the fukin cynicism. Ok?

    Because it’s the cynicism that’s healthy. It’s the teetering between love and hate that empower politicians to do Bad Things, like a good-cop bad-cop routine, or rotating allergy medication due to acquired tolerance / desensitization.

    I’d argue that it’s more important for people to stay desensitized to any hope or fear that government lays at our feet, because neither are true. Again, echoing the Adam Curtis quote: neither Bush’s nightmares or Obama’s dreams have anything to do with reality.

    Ask Phil Donahue or Dan Rather if they felt ignored for dissenting.

    Fair enough, but mass-media has a somewhat different set of problems than the public at large. Mass-media is always a crony to the current administration and the government generally; that’s the whole point of Manufacturing Consent.

    (Part of that could be fixed if the FCC were dismantled however, ending the barrier to entry its regulatory capture has maintained for the major networks such as ClearChannel and NewsCorp.)

  67. Zuzu, as usual we agree in the main. And that is why the message I left on Change.com spoke to that concern, more than policy. Let me bore you with my message, which was mostly written on this thread. And yes, I still have enough cynicism left to know that my message will not be read, and not just because of the volume of mail they will receive. But I left it anyway, why not hope.

    Mr. President Elect Obama,

    Congratulations Mr. President Elect Obama! You have inspired hope around the world like no other President Elect. Everyone keeps talking about crying with joy and relief. Most people probably don’t remember crying like this over any election, other than one lost? The whole world burst into spontaneous tears of joy, people were dancing in the streets in Indonesia, Africa, Europe, South and North America like the millennium celebration. This hope and goodwill cannot be squandered as it was seven years ago when for a brief moment the world felt our pain as one.

    Your success brings to mind so many things. One is a memory of standing in a hallway in the sixth grade in 1968, waiting in line for the water fountain. A *colored boy* in front had just finished drinking, the white boy behind him could not bring himself to drink after him. Cutting out of line, I stepped up to the fountain, and with no small amount of fear took a drink. This story is not about what I did, I probably just did it to appear brave, like taking a dare. This story is about the fear implanted in me that drinking after a child of color could harm me, and how he must have felt when another child would not drink after him. Tuesday, most of us cut out of line and took that drink together, for all the right reasons. The whole world held its breath while we voted, then danced and cried with joy when our victory was announced. Please remember that moment when billions of people, many without hope, applauded our victory over fear and hate.

    Mr. Obama, please undo the last 8 years. Please burn Mr. Bush’s signing statements in effigy. Please close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Please use existing laws to prosecute people, not as terrorists, but as common criminals. Please stop the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, both of which erode civil rights. Please normalize relations with Cuba. Please rely on diplomacy, without threats. Please be honest as to what your goals are as President and why, and be honest when you must explain the reasons for failure to achieve those goals. Please don’t squander the hope billions of people around the world from the United States to Alego, Kenya and Jakarta, Indonesia have placed in your leadership.

  68. Zuzu, this website of theirs is not going to be so much about what people are saying, but that they are bothering to feel like it is worth saying anything at all. Even if all they do is use this site to graph volume, and count the yeas and nays, then it will be a useful barometer. The messages they receive in this heady period of victory will set the mark against which his Presidency will be measured.

  69. Foetusnail@ 90: You last paragraph made me cry. Your comment @91 “The messages they receive in this heady period of victory will set the mark against which his Presidency will be measured.” is the exact reason why I feel that the simple fact that they are asking for input makes all the difference in the world.

    ZuZu: I congratulate you on your steadfast cynicism. Hope it works out for you.

    Be as cynical as you like but it seems to me that there is no point in speculating what they are going to be able to do with the data obtained before they have even begun. You truly cannot really know, so belaboring the point is an act of boorish contrarianism.

    Obama would not even be in this position if he’d listened to folks like you. History is full of fools standing in the way of what might be because of such closed-minded thinking about what is. What would it hurt for just one minute to believe it might be possible that they are thinking outside of the box on this one?

    Skepticism is much more healthy in re-aligning one’s beliefs because it can run both parallel and in opposition to one’s hopes.

  70. It’s already looking like Obama may back out of Bush’s Polish missile shield nightmare. That would make me happy. I find Putin a little more of a credible threat than Ahmadinejad. Normalized relations with Russia would be a good start for the next administration.

  71. Thanks Phikus. I’m counting on this man’s intelligence and his sense of history. If anyone wants to be cynical, the asshats on the hill could use an e-mail flood.

    Antinous, I’m not as knowledgeable as a lot of people around here, so I’m at a loss to understand how they screwed up our relatiobnship with the Russians. Find it hard to believe there wasn’t some way to work together.

  72. RE #94:

    Our relations with Russia became strained when the missile defense shield was announced, among other things. Ostensibly the missiles are to protect the West against “rogue states” like Iran, but it’s also thinly veiled that it’s targeted at Russia as well (mainly dreamed up by older politicians in Washington who cannot shake their deeply engrained, Cold War-era Russia-hate). There is no need for it, considering the danger is in pissing off Russia once and for all, not them starting anything. The US and Europe currently have a lot of trade going on with them, and I don’t really get the impression the Russians want to mess with that.

  73. I’m at a loss to understand how they screwed up our relationship with the Russians.

    The Bush administration has decided that Iran is going to develop nuclear weapons. Which they might indeed do…in fifteen to twenty years. The solution is an European Missile Shield. The US got Poland to agree to house missile bases. Which would be, oops, incidentally aimed at Russia on their way to Iran.

    Russia admittedly has a chip on its shoulder since its fall from superpower status. Putin is pursuing a Strong Russia policy, which I generally support on the grounds that somebody needs to stand up to the US. If you combine a somewhat despotic Putin flexing his political muscle with a somewhat despotic Bush dazedly trying to remember his own middle name, military hijinx could ensue.

    Of course, we wouldn’t bomb each other. We’d use our avatars, like Afghanistan. In this game, bad moves spawn new independent players like the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

  74. I thought it is just about multi-billion dollar contracts for missiles that don’t work and will never be tested.

  75. Today hope hugged the entire human community in all its diversity, Our fears silenced, skepticism erased. It is a blank slate today what will be the first word on this renewed slate.

  76. people who have been shielded by the tax payer most of their adult life and have never had to be responsible for any thing have engage in loud verbal and intellectual assault on the taxpayer. I pay for my health insurance and is responsible for the health insurance of congressmen and senators, yet they are refusing me the right to negotiate for a better health insurance for me and my family. Is this not a testimony that they do not know what it takes to survive because some else is paying the bill for them ?

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