Tampa, Florida web developer Jon Gales mapped the city's new network of downtown surveillence cameras installed for the Republican convention, to empower fellow citizens to become aware of the encroaching surveillance society. City authorities have not responded to his queries about what will happen to the cameras once the convention ends.
Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez,
The Sunlight Foundation recently launched a free mobile app to help voters better know who is buying political ads this election year. Ad Hawk available for iPhone and Android, listens to campaign, super PAC and issue ads on the TV or radio and then lists information about who placed the ads, their campaign finance profile and other information.
Ad Hawk is simple to use: just listen, identify and learn. When you see a political ad on TV or hear one on the radio, open the app to have Ad Hawk start listening to the ad. In less than 30 seconds, Ad Hawk will create an audio fingerprint using open-source technology and start searching our database of thousands of ads for a match. We identify new ads by monitoring media reports and the YouTube channels of political groups and campaigns. When Ad Hawk finds a match, users will get information on their phone about how much money the ad's sponsor received or spent, where the ad is on the air and media reports about the candidate or political group.
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"My only argument with Ruben B. here is his apologetic tone for asking you to pay money for early access to his very good comics —- that is to say, something that YOU LIKE AND WANT. DO NOT APOLOGIZE, RUBEN." -John Hodgman, INNER HIVE member since two weeks ago Read the rest
Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez, "The Sunlight Foundation published a very detailed analysis of campaign contributions from the 2010 cycle with accompanying infographics and profiles of the top political donors that show just who holds the power in U.S. electoral politics. Our analysis reveals a growing dependence of candidates and political parties on this 'One Percent of the One Percent, resulting in a political system that could be disproportionately influenced by donors in a handful of wealthy enclaves. Sunlight's examination also shows that some of the heaviest hitters in the 2010 cycle were ideological givers, suggesting that the influence of the One Percent of the One Percent on federal elections may be one of the obstacles to compromise in Washington.
"How does their giving compare to the average American's wealth? In the 2010 election cycle, the average One Percent of One Percenter spent $28,913, more than the median individual income of $26,364. Additionally, Sunlight's analysis shows that lobbyists make up between 15 and 20% of The One Percent of the One Percent."
With the Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court turned money into a form of political speech, paving the way for enormous influxes of cash from the American ultra-elite one-percent-of-one-percent, and, to a lesser extent, organized labor (money given to the GOP by big business dwarfs labor's contribution to the Dems by a factor of about 2.5). The extent to which this has distorted American politics is only now becoming apparent, as statistics about SuperPACs and their "donations" are gathered and published. In this Salon report, Justin Elliott publishes some eye-opening figures about the new political reality in money-as-speech America.
Especially concerning: 80 percent of the money sloshing around in America's SuperPACs' warchests came from just 58 donors.
The Super PACs are not paragons of transparency, but what has been disclosed gives a sense of where the money is coming from and the interests of those giving it. Based on the donors and the origins of these groups, we can already discern what messages the Super PACs will generate in the home stretch of the campaign.
If you watched Rick Perry's viral campaign video Strong, perhaps you were struck with by how it seemed a little off (and no, I don't mean the fact that a blowdried asshole like Perry recorded a video of himself conducting a homophobic rant while wearing the gay cowboy costume from Brokeback Mountain). No, it was something more sinister and weirder. Something about a rant that goes, "$INFERIOR_HATED_MINORITY has infiltrated our soldiery, and what's more, our educational institutions have prohibited $DOCTRINE_THAT_WE_EMBRACE from being taught to children at government expense."
If, like me, you struggled for an apt comparison, perhaps you, like me, will discover what you seek in this simple bit of netmemery. Maybe this explains how Mr Perry came to produce YouTube's most hated video.
Mike from Mother Jones sez, "For our upcoming "dark money" print package, we chartified the known galaxy of outside political spending groups by their size. As you can see, we ended up with red giants and blue dwarfs."
If Citizens United was the Big Bang of a new era of money in politics, here's the parallel universe it formed: rapidly expanding super-PACs and nebulous 501(c) groups exerting their gravitational pull on federal elections. A group's size in the chart below is based upon all known fundraising or spending since 2010…so keep an eye out for dark matter. Come back for regular updates.
Democratic congressional candidate Ray Lutz was arrested for registering voters in San Diego's public Freedom Plaza (AKA Civic Center Plaza), where the local Occupy protest has taken place. The San Diego police arrested Mr Lutz for trespassing and confiscated his voter registration forms.
I've been skeptical of the "this is what democracy looks like" slogan (since mostly, democracy looks like boring things like long meetings, constituency consultations, and voter booths). But by any measure, registering voters in a civic square is assuredly "what democracy looks like." And arresting people who register voters? Well, that's something else altogether.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, is angry that a conversation between him and a rightwing candidate for Parliament was recorded by a cameraman - so angry that he's reported the matter to the police which is now going to raid TVNZ, Radio NZ, TV3 and another, unnamed media organisation.
Key set up a stage-managed meeting between him and John Banks from the rightwing ACT Party, with media in attendance. The meeting over a cup of tea was to discuss the candidate from Key's centre-right National Party folding in the wealthy electorate of Epsom, Auckland, in favour of Banks. National needs Banks to win Epsom, to form a coalition with ACT.
A cameraman was stopped from retrieving his microphone that he'd left on Key and Banks' table while media was allowed inside the cafe where the meeting took place, and says he recorded the "private" conversation inadvertently. The recording itself hasn't been published by anyone yet. Key and National has refused to give permission to publish the recording, but say it was "bland". In NZ, it's a crime to record other people without their knowledge.
I'm somewhat ambivalent about covert recording, but it seems clear that this isn't merely about investigating the act of recording, or punishing someone who broke the law. This feels like a campaign of intimidation against the institution of the press itself, whose subtext is, "Cover politics with kid gloves or we will make your lives hell." Meanwhile, Key has defended his use of police time by saying his government has done so much to eliminate crime that the police have spare time they can use to pursue his vendettas. Read the rest
After Herman Cain drew an utter blank when an interviewer asked him how he felt about Obama's handling of Libya, and proceeded to unconvincingly fake a response, Andrew Sullivan rounds up the responses of bloggers around the net, from Cain's supporters and detractors alike.
Drezner invokes the mercy rule:
There's a mercy rule in Little League, and I'm applying it here -- unless and until Herman Cain surges back in the polls again, or manages to muster something approaching cogency in his foreign policy statements, there's no point in blogging about him anymore. I can only pick on an ignoramus so many times before it feels sadistic.
Pamela Geller, who previously endorsed Cain, calls it an "unrecoverable moment":
This is just unacceptable, Herman. ... He is not ready.
Herman Cain sings Lennon classic “Imagine There's No Pizza ... Visualizing Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan to redistribute wealth from the ... Herman Cain sings God Bless America New Hermain Cain campaign video is, uh, well, oh I give up just watch. Read the rest
You may remember 2 months back when the Troy, Michigan Public Library faced closure due to declining revenue. It was particularly sad given that this libary only recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary. It is home to some amazing letters from some of the most prominent authors and people of the day when it opened in 1971 thanks to a very intrepid children's librarian named Marguerite Hart.Read the rest
Residents of Troy sprang into action to ensure that no effort be spared to prevent the library from closing. This included reaching out on line to rally library lovers throughout the world. Thanks to Cory, and our friends at Boing Boing, we raised almost 3 times our goal of $1200. This meant not only could we pay for our last mailing but we could afford a small TV buy for our existing web video. We won in no small part thanks to you!
Now our city faces a new challenge. Half of the City Council is up for election, and no sitting members are running. To make matters worse the forces who worked against our compromise solution to keep the library open and funded, have a slate of candidates who are determined to undermine our recent victory.
So I decided I couldn't stand by and watch these people undo our hard work. Now I am asking my fellow happy mutants / hacktivists to lend my campaign a hand. I face a unique challenge because unlike a library which people have an emotional connection, I am just a person, and not nearly as creative as Sean Teavis.
Power to the people is a popular theme in elections, but how do you get it there when the election process and rules can be complicated and difficult.Pennsylvania Political Campaign Management Database (Thanks, Richard!) Read the rest
David Lynn's answer was to create and freely distribute the Pennsylvania Political Campaign Management Database to make it easier for people to run for office in Pennsylvania. He hopes his completely free software (he doesn't even ask for your name) will encourage younger people to enter the political process as candidates.
Software and the willing efforts of programmers like David Lynn can be a way to hack the political system and make it easier for regular people to negotiate the often labyrinthine election statutes and get elected. More power to him.