Meeting UP

Like Mitch, I went to a Howard Dean Meetup last night, and you should when you can. Similar to Mitch’s experience, I found myself in a room full of angry but optimistic people–although our meeting was in the most crowded NY bar I’ve seen since the old days. Probably twice as many as at Mitch’s meetup.

<goodsign>The Republicans have done the impossible! They’re getting out the vote of passive non-Republicans and have solved the post- 9/11 NY bar depression</goodsign>

As I suggested here and here, the part of the blogging world that cares about policy should seek a few specific commitments from Dean on the issues that matter most to us: Fair Use, Unconstitutional search and seizure, Open Governance and a willingness to respond to issues that matter to those who are active in on-line democracy. Not a laundry list, but a focused emphasis on the things that matter to most people who take time to write online or read and comment online.

The obvious ones to hold such a meeting with Dr. Dean are Dr. Lessig and Doc Searls, but there’s probably no shortage of volunteers who know they’re qualified for such a mini-summit.

If Dean agrees to a coherent feedback loop, then people who care about the American Miracle (i.e., the Bill Of Rights) should spend the next year and a half making this the first Internet Presidency and the end of political business-as-usual.

Our commitment must be to help replace the money Dean would otherwise receive from the media who will cut him off when he endorses fair use. Further, we must commit to getting out the vote using the Internet, so money stops driving campaigns. When we calculate how that vision affects media’s profitability, we’ll understand how daunting are these demands.

Joe Plotkin

Joe Plotkin and his dad were there. Joe is the irrepressible marketing guy at, host to the NYC Wireless meeting last week where Doc introduced me to Drazen Pantic. BWay is an ISP which gives responsive service and charges for it. They also offer DSL packages through Covad and have learned how to hate the phone company, or as Joe puts it:

Hating Verizon is too simplistic. We resent their dominance because they hold hostage the public communications infrastructure — built as a regulated monopoly, the RBOCs are privatizing the benefits (promoting it as deregulation) while shirking the concomitant public obligations. It’s as if we built the Interstate Highway system and allowed the concrete contractor to own the tolls.


The real problem is that the RBOCs are allowed to be in a retail business while also being the monopoly wholesale provider of loops and other elements. There are anti-trust actions pending. One possible solution would create “structural separation” of the 2 functions — in which case, competitive providers would be treated as valued customers (to rent network elements) — instead of as competitive (retail) threats.

Joe and I are noodling around the idea of, a domain I tied down in January:


Politicians who need our votes are acting like they don’t. They’re behaving like the RIAA, pretending they can treat their customers like thieves. Why do we spend so much time worrying about the RIAA and so little time directly managing our elected toadies?

SeeMyVote would be based on our right to enforce full, fair and equal representation, establishing a protocol for translating individual hot issues into votes with teeth.

SeeMyVote would be a database of real people who have abdicated their secret ballot to advertise their real-time responses to current issues and current outrages. The database would match issues and outrage with politicians and their current actions. Voters would link their next vote with their current values and beliefs so that, for instance, a politician’s cynical work against choice would publicly guarantee my wife’s vote against him. Combined with other uppity women, some politicians would see that this particular form of political cynicism is foolish, at least in his district. (Cynical because few politicians give a rat’s ass about abortion. They do care about the votes of people who care about choice).

This is the kind of data which allows politicians to explain to each other why they can’t support each others’ favorite causes. They all know they’re in government in order to stay in government.

Sample SeeMyVote Report:
“The Fleemer amendment to HR 419 has caused a plurality of Mr. Fleemer’s voting constituents to commit to vote him out of office in November. Based on commitment data from 73% of registered voters, It appears that Rep. Fleemer will lose his seat by a 9% margin unless his amendment is withdrawn.

Those voter commitments have been communicated to Mr. Fleemer’s staff, other Republican and Democratic National Committees and major media outlets. The data are presented in detail at”

If you have any thoughts or suggestions on implementing this outrageous meme, Joe and I would love to hear from you.

George Morin

George Morin is a my-gen communications freelancer who was a Republican until he read enough history to learn how much blood was spilled to create the 40-hour work week, among other things. As a professional wordsmith, he’d like to help the Dean team craft its message, but he’d be happy to lick envelopes if that’s what’s needed. We huddled after the Meetup and wondered how we might contribute. There’s a lot of talent in this town, and it ought to be put to work on this campaign.

George and I are meeting tomorrow to tease out the idea of a Howard Dean NYC creative brain trust teaming up internet, print and broadcast pros who want to make a difference. The great thing about our political system is that every four years it foments new adhocracies of people who often end up running things. This is the first time the Internet can have a place at the grownup’s table, and it would be a shame if we sat around whining about what might be, when we’re now set up to help it be.

Chaordic Commonality – A Permission-free Zone

Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi, has embraced the Internet the way Harry Truman embraced the whistlestop campaign, which he used to defeat another undefeatable Republican, Thomas Dewey, in 1948.

A May 22
ABC News article, Howard Dean raises $1M via the Internet:

Dean hit the $1 million mark in Internet fund raising last week, becoming the first 2004 presidential hopeful to announce he has done so. Dean supporters also are using the Internet to organize volunteers across the country.

Campaign manager Joe Trippi said the Internet has matured to the point where people are comfortable using it to donate.

Trippi concedes that unleashing all those volunteers isn’t without risk; it’s impossible to be sure all will be “on message” with the campaign.

“It’s an almost military structure at most campaigns,” he said. “All the orders come from on high and it’s very regimented and you know exactly how many supporters you have in one state … Most campaigns view the Net as trying to impose military structure on chaos.”

This new chaordic reality forces Trippi to embrace its risks which he seems inclined to anyway. This campaign may demonstrate that chaos is the bright light shining the way to the White House. No longer can a campaign stop George Morin and me from helping in our way rather than the old way. A campaign manager can no longer tell a self-appointed NYC brain trust to lay off, even if he were inclined to. It’s sure to drive the political apparatchiks nuts, but the Internet changes so much that even politics is up for grabs.

Maybe Dee Hock, Mitch Ratcliffe and their fellow trustees can help the Dean campaign embrace chaos as the best way to reel into the present a future we can only imagine.

Eisenhower Republicans for Dean

George Morin was talking to a friend who, calling himself an Eisenhower Republican, said that Dean sounded to him a lot like Ike. Is Ike the bridge this country needs to return to civil discourse? Consider:

You do not lead by hitting people over the head-that’s assault, not leadership.

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

We merely want to live in peace with all the world, to trade with them, to commune with them, to learn from their culture as they may learn from ours, so that the products of our toil may be used for our schools and our roads and our churches and not for guns and planes and tanks and ships of war.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they never existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.

No easy problems ever come to the President of the United States. If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them.

When you appeal to force, there’s one thing you must never do – lose.

When you are in any contest you should work as if there were – to the very last minute – a chance to lose it.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.

We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.

There was a time when politics required the ability to form, question and communicate such thoughts. It was once a virtual requirement to have led men into battle and to earn your humanity, as Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated. He governed well by governing little, and led a life so full that he really preferred not to be president. It’s a shame we must send people to Washington who want to go, but if we need an enthusiastic ambition, Dean may be our best choice.

By then, George Bush may have demonstrated so well what we do not want in a leader that we’ll recognize one when we see one. And that may be his contribution to history.

2:54:05 PM    

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