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The UK parliamentary farce over #DRIP showed us that, more than any other industry, the political machine is in dire need of disruption.
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During this week's blockbuster Indian election, @shubhragupta caught a great photo of the Indian Express for the day, which was rushed to press so quickly that its lead banner still read HEADLINE AWAITED. Every time I see something like this, I thank the universe that I work in a forgiving electronic medium where mistakes can be swiftly corrected and not committed to millions of stamped-out pieces of stupid, inert matter.
Update: Amulya writes, "Just so you know, it's The IndiaN Express, so you want to correct that first on your forgiving electronic medium. Secondly, context matters -- the headline was a funny meta statement on the election verdict to come, and made perfect sense to those who read it."
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At least 16 fraudulent sites attributed to the National Republican Congressional Committee have been discovered. These sites, whose domains are the names of Democratic candidates, use large type and photos that make them appear to be fundraisers for those candidates, though the small-print text makes it clear that these are actually sites set up opposing their apparent candidates. The NRCC claims these are all fair game and blame Democrats for not registered their candidates' names as for campaign sites. But when there's a site at AnnKirkpatrick.com, with the words ANN KIRKPATRICK FOR CONGRESS and a DONATE button beneath it, and when that DONATE button sends money to Ann Kirkpatrick's GOP rival, the intent to deceive is pretty clear.
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With election season coming up, the Internet Archive is looking to publish collections of political ads from earlier US campaigns. They have a massive archive of digitized US TV footage, along with searchable full-text closed captions. Now they're hoping someone can point them to some software to auto-extract the political ads from the corpus.
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GOP power-brokers have raised a $50M war-chest to fight the nomination of "fools" to GOP seats in the upcoming mid-term elections. Effectively, the Republican big-business-friendly establishment has declared war on the Tea Party, in an effort to ensure donors that the slate will not be full of what Matt Taibbi calls "a bottomless pit of brainless Bachmanns and Cruzes and Santorums, all convinced our Harvard-educated president is a sleeper-cell Arab and that Satan is a literal being intent on conquering Nebraska with U.N. troops."
Taibbi is, as always, fucking incandescent on the subject. He points out the delicious irony of svengalis like Karl Rove and Dick Armey -- who put GW Bush in the White House by gleefully pandering to the ignorant and prejudiced with "faith-based initiatives" to bring in "the nuts" (as Rove calls evangelicals when he thinks he's in private) and Swift-Boating -- now having to keep those people from derailing the party and scaring off all the millionaires and billionaires.
If they're going to keep on donating to the GOP, they need to be assured that the party's elected reps understand that gay marriage and no-abortion-for-rape-victims are just distracting side-shows to win votes, and should be set aside once in office to pursue the serious business of looting the nation and spying on everyone to prevent any kind of popular uprising.
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In the Guardian, Dan Gillmor ghost-writes a speech for any presidential candidate who wants to enter the 2016 race on a freedom and transparency ticket. It's a stirring air and is an outstanding piece of design fiction that implies a specification for a new American politics of freedom and transparency set against the corrupt cesspit of total surveillance and lies. In Gillmor's upcoming race, it's Freedom versus the unholy trinity of Orwell, Kafka and Huxley.
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The Icelandic Pirate Party has won three seats in its national Parliament in the Pirates' best-ever showing on the world stage. They form a small part of the opposition to the "center-right" Independence Party (Americans, please note that the Independence Party would be considered socialists by present US mainstream political standards). One of the new Pirate parliamentarians is Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the Icelandic MP who volunteered for, and campaigned for Wikileaks. The Icelandic Pirate Party is only
five nine months old!
The three new Icelandic lawmakers include Jón Þór Ólafsson, a business administration student at the University of Iceland; Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, a computer programmer; and Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a well-known WikiLeaks volunteer and former member of parliament from 2009 to 2013.
Birgitta is also one of three activists involved in a WikiLeaks investigation currently underway in the United States. In November 2011, a district court judge found that prosecutors could compel Twitter to give up specific information on the three accounts, including IP addresses, direct messages, and other data. In January 2013, a federal appeals court in Virginia ruled (PDF) that Birgitta and the two others have no right to find out which other companies the government sought information from besides Twitter.
The trio, along with other members of Iceland’s digerati (including Smári McCarthy, who also is one of the organizers of the International Modern Media Initiative), founded the party just five months ago.
Pirate Party wins 3 seats in Icelandic parliament for its best result worldwide [Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica]
Gmoke sez, "Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva and recent Green Party Presidential candidate (she came in third to force a run-off election) launched the Sustainability Network in Brasilia on 16 February, 2013 and seeks to collect the required 500,000 signatures by September 2013 to become a legally recognized political party. From Sustainability Network's political manifesto (PDF):
We believe that networks, as a means for meeting and organising, are an invention of the present that bridge to a better future. Therefore, it is through networking with society that we want to build a new political force, with alliances underpinned by an Ethics of Urgency, aiming to construct a new model of development: sustainable, inclusive, egalitarian and diverse.
(Image: José Cruz/Agencia Brasil (CC BY 3.0))
Earlier today, Ron Paul filed an international UDRP complaint against RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org with WIPO, a global governing body that is an agency of the United Nations. The complaint calls on the agency to expropriate the two domain names from his supporters without compensation and hand them over to Ron Paul.
On May 1st, 2008 we launched a grassroots website at RonPaul.com that became one of the most popular resources dedicated exclusively to Ron Paul and his ideas. Like thousands of fellow Ron Paul supporters, we put our lives on hold and invested 5 years of hard work into Ron Paul, RonPaul.com and Ron Paul 2012. Looking back, we are very happy with what we were able to achieve with unlimited enthusiasm and limited financial resources...
...At the same time we offered him RonPaul.org as a free gift so we could keep using RonPaul.com and he wouldn’t have to use something like RonPaulsHomePage.com.
Incredibly, Ron Paul’s lawyers are trying to use our FREE offer of RonPaul.org against us in an attempt to demonstrate “bad faith” on our part!
Of course, they also offered to sell him the .com domain and their mailing list for $250k.
Senior campaign staffers who worked for Michelle Bachmann in the 2012 race say that she's refused to pay them unless they sign an NDA promising not to disclose any criminal and unethical activity they witnessed on the campaign. Now it seems that some are fed up with dickering with Bachmann for what they're owed, and are just going to the feds with their tales of corruption and crime:
[Peter Waldron, a widely known evangelist enlisted by the Bachmann campaign for outreach to Christian conservatives], formerly Bachmann's national field coordinator, is accusing the campaign of improperly dipping into money from MichelePAC to pay longtime fundraising consultant Guy Short for presidential campaign work he performed in the critical final weeks ahead of Iowa's caucuses last year.
Waldron also alleges that the campaign concealed payments to Iowa state campaign chairman Kent Sorenson, a state senator who abruptly left the Bachmann camp to join then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's insurgent campaign. Under Iowa Senate rules, Waldron maintains, Sorenson could not perform paid work for a presidential campaign.
...One of those involved in the payment dispute is Barbara Heki, who sued the campaign last year over the use of a database listing the names and e-mail addresses of thousands of Christian home-school families. Although the campaign eventually agreed to pay $2,000 for the list, the lawsuit continues, as does a separate criminal investigation.
Ex-Bachmann aide alleges campaign finance violations [Kevin Diaz/Star Tribune]
A stirring editorial in Time by Michael Grunwald calls out the US press for failing to report on contradictions in the GOP's platforms (for example, condemning Obama for not cutting Medicare enough while also telling people to vote against him because he wants to cut Medicare). Grunwald cites many examples of this, and says that the press is so anxious to appear nonpartisan that they're simply unwilling to state the obvious: the party's strategy is based on saying whatever is convenient at the moment.
I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.
The next fight is likely to involve the $200 billion worth of stimulus that Obama included in his recycled fiscal cliff plan that somehow didn’t exist before Election Day. I’ve taken a rather keen interest in the topic of stimulus, so I’ll be interested to see how this is covered. Keynesian stimulus used to be uncontroversial in Washington; every 2008 presidential candidate had a stimulus plan, and Mitt Romney’s was the largest. But in early 2009, when Obama began pushing his $787 billion stimulus plan, the GOP began describing stimulus as an assault on free enterprise—even though House Republicans (including Paul Ryan) voted for a $715 billion stimulus alternative that was virtually indistinguishable from Obama’s socialist version. The current Republican position seems to be that the fiscal cliff’s instant austerity would destroy the economy, which is odd after four years of Republican clamoring for austerity, and that the cliff’s military spending cuts in particular would kill jobs, which is even odder after four years of Republican insistence that government spending can’t create jobs...
Whatever. I realize that the GOP’s up-is-downism puts news reporters in an awkward position. It would seem tendentious to point out Republican hypocrisy on deficits and Medicare and stimulus every time it comes up, because these days it comes up almost every time a Republican leader opens his mouth. But we’re not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day.
I'm all for pointing out this sort of thing whenever it arises -- including pointing out that Obama's "most transparent administration in history" is the most secretive in history. It's the press's job to hold politicians to account for their public utterances and to point out contradictions. If the press committed to calling out BS whenever it arose, we could, in fact, produce a who-lies-most scorecard, without letting anyone off the hook for lying less than the other guy.
Staffers for millionaire/wrestling magnate/failed GOP Senate candidate say they were stiffed, got bad checks and condoms: "you're screwed"
Linda McMahon (a wrestling magnate who built up the WWE with her husband Vince McMahon) is a failed Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut with a reported net worth of $500M, who has spent a reported $100M on a pair of failed Senate bids. She has also reportedly stiffed her staffers, who claim that they were sent bounced checks from the campaign, and, when they complained, were sent more rubber checks, along with a condom and a message saying "you're screwed." From CBS:
Campaign staffer Twaine Don Gomes was reportedly among the first to make the matter of the bad checks public knowledge through local news media – an action which allegedly inspired the campaign to send a second check with something extra.
“Basically he handed me a check with a condom in it, told me I was screwed,” Gomes told WTNH. “That’s the rudest gesture you can ever do to a person, it’s like spitting in a person’s face.”
This "candid" video of President Obama tearing up as he thanks his staff and tells them "I'm Really Proud of All of You" is interesting. The rate at which this became viral is astonishing. Why do we mock John Boehner (other than the fact he's orange, and an asshole) but laud this clip as an example that Obama is "human" and "has a heart"? The public reaction to this particular video, released by the Obama campaign team, is interesting.
Maybe I'm projecting, but I think he might be crying for all those innocent people in Pakistan who lost family members in the 300+ drone strikes he authorized during his first term as president. Or maybe the innocent not-terrorists who are detained at Guantánamo because our military held them as terrorists, but can't manage to figure out how to set free now.
Like many others, I am glad Obama won, and I agree that he seems more "human" than his opponent. But his first term was no golden age of transparency and human rights. May we all hold the government more accountable, and demand change, on these and other vital issues during his second term.
Remember Colleen Lachowicz, the Democratic candidate for the Maine senate whose GOP opponent attacked her for playing World of Warcraft?
Here's Robert Long on the Bangor Daily News:
Gamers from around the world soon rushed to her defense, making more than $6,300 in contributions via the website ActBlue to two political actions committees that supported her campaign. Those donations prompted the Maine Republican Party to file a complaint against Lachowicz with the Maine Ethics Commission.
The commission determined Nov. 1 that Lachowicz, a Maine Clean Election Act candidate, did not coordinate with the PACs for the fundraising and voted 5-0 not to proceed with an investigation.
As of Tuesday, outside groups had spent more than $184,000 on the contest, according to Maine Ethics Commission figures. That’s the fifth highest amount of outside spending for a 2012 Maine Senate race, according to the commission’s data. Of that total, more than $81,000 was spent to oppose Martin.