ONE OF THE GREAT BEAUTIES OF THE DIGITAL ERA IS TO LIBERATE SPONTANEOUS CREATIVITY - IT MIGHT BE A CHAOTIC SPACE OF FREE ASSOCIATION SOMETIMES BUT THE CONTEMPORARY EXPERIENCE OF DIGITAL RE-MEDIATION IS ENORMOUSLY LIBERATING.
WE DON’T FEEL THE LEAST ALIENATED BY THIS;
APPROPRIATION AND RECONTEXTUALIZATION IS A LONG-STANDING BEHAVIOR THAT HAS JUST BEEN MADE EASIER AND MORE VISIBLE BY THE UBIQUITY OF INTERNET. IN A FEW WORDS:
WE ABSOLUTELY SUPPORT FAIR USE OF OUR MUSIC, AND WE CAN ONLY ENCOURAGE A NEW COPYRIGHT POLICY THAT PROTECTS FAIR USE AS MUCH AS EVERY CREATORS’ LEGITIMATE INTERESTS.
We were incredibly fortunate in New Hampshire with press. Every paper covered it, we got tons of TV time, and lots of radio. (You can see links to them all here). And beyond New Hampshire, we had some great coverage — Diane Rehm, The New Republic, even Le Monde. But I am very happy to see this piece that will run this weekend on Bill Moyers. Happy, and very proud to see my friends who I very much miss.
If you want to watch the old fashioned way, you can find times when the show will be played here.
Pelosi's great day; Pelosi's great opportunity: Listen to Paul Wellstone
Today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stands with House hero, John Sarbanes (D-MD), to introduce the Government By the People Act. After years of struggling, finally the Democrats (and at least one Republican) have lined up behind a fundamental reform of the campaign finance system. Small bore is out; fundamental reform is in. Congratulations to the Leader, and all who pushed the Democrats to lead (and at the very top of that list is Arnold Hiatt who has been fighting this fight for more than 18 years — see the story in the last chapter of Republic, Lost).
But a nagging bit to this debate remains: What is the problem that the Government By the People Act is meant to solve?
Last Thursday, Jon Stewart called it “corruption.” But Leader Pelosi denied it. “The system isn’t corrupt,” she told Stewart. “There is corruption in the system …” (watch beginning circa 5:50)
I can’t for the life of me understand why this incredible woman continues to insist on calling pure a system which obviously is not. Why, in other words, she insists on believing that the only way to use the word “corruption” is to speak of corrupt individuals.
But it seems that since time immemorial, Members of Congress (and the Supreme Court: see the upcoming decision in McCutcheon v. FEC) have been divided between those who see corruption in the system, and those who think the only kind of corruption possible is the corruption of individuals.
Senator McConnell — like Pelosi? and Justice Scalia? — is a corruption skeptic. Here he is in October, 1999, on the floor of the Senate, challenging John McCain who had begun to frame his presidential campaign around the “corruption” of “the system”:
And then Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) tries focus the debate with a great question — leading McConnell to a classic “oops-not-really-what-I-meant-to-say” moment (“I’m extremely grateful that these companies are giving us the opportunity to engage in vote buying” [sic])
But no one makes this point more clearly and powerfully than the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), as he responds to the squabble between McCain and McConnell about the meaning of the word “corruption.” And this is the clip that the Minority Leader really needs to watch:
The #NHRebellion walk is over. Sadness follows. It was an incredible team that walked more than 6,400 miles in aggregate, and I miss them already. After I catch my breath, I’ll write about what I learned. For now: stuff you can’t see from in front of a computer screen.
COME WALK the final day (of the #NHRebellion walk)
Friday is the final day of the #NHRebellion walk. We leave from Merrimack (details) at noon (*** NEW TIME ***) for a short 6 mile walk to Nashua. After we arrive, there is a party celebrating Granny D’s birthday. Come if you can. Register if you are (register for walk; register for party).
Tuesday, the anniversary of Citizens United, was a no walk, two presentation day — first at the Rotary Club of Concord, and then at an event at UNH marking four years since the Supreme Court’s best gift to this movement since Nixon. Cenk Uygur, moderating, John Sarbanes (D-Md.), with the best speech I’ve seen him give, Barbara Lawton, the new CEO of Americans for Campaign Reform, Jim Rubens, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who believes and defends public funding, and Diane Russell, cleanly-elected Maine state representative who stole the show from all of us.
Yesterday was a long 18 miles from Concord to Manchester. Cenk did the whole walk (insanely). Sarbanes did the morning. And last night Cenk, Buddy Roemer and I spoke at the Institution for Politics at St. Anselms. Donald Trump had spoken there the day before. More came to see us.
The last long day begins in less than an hour. And then tomorrow, the final day — a short 6 miles from Merrimack to Nashua for the Granny D birthday.
If you’re near, come walk the final day. The webpage will have the details of where and how.
The police here have been great. The second day, I reported on the ranger who thought me nuts when I asked him whether he was among the 4% who didn’t believe it important to reduce the influence of money in politics. Saturday, in our treacherous final 4, a police car passed us, doubled back, passed us again, doubled back again, and then passed us with his horn honking, thumbs up. And then yesterday, as we passed through a tiny village, a car pulled along and, after reading our signs, stopped and directed traffic as we passed through the town. It may be because we’re carrying the flag. Or it may be because they’re officers in a state whose constitution expressly protects the right of rebellion (see Article 10). Whatever, it is fantastic to see.
The group keeps growing. We were joined by a couple whose politics are split: he’s from the right; she’s from the left. This was the only activism they could do together. We continue to be joined by people who had walked with Granny D.
Today, on MLK Day, we continue our walk to Concord. King, like Granny D, was a walker. A much more difficult revolution grew from his action. We take smaller steps, for an easier cause. Yet one which today is just as important to realizing the dream of equality that he so powerfully defended.
Today began in Center Harbor, which I know well as we’ve spent a bunch of summers near there. We had an overflow of day walkers, beginning with about 50 walkers, including an 11 year old and his Dad, midway through, a favorite student from 20 years ago, who now writes for the Times, and the famous Ben Cohen from Ben & Jerry’s (and his dog).
This was to be our last 20 mile day. Thankfully. I increasingly think New Hampshire is an Escher drawing, as we seem to be only climbing hills as we descend from the White Mountains.
We made it to Laconia by around 2:30pm, and the advance team had pulled together a spontaneous event at the Vintage Cafe — an incredibly cool place with about 50 people packed together for lunch and two short talks from Ben and me.
This is the experience I wanted most on this trip: making the idea convincing in 8 minutes, and without a machine. And here was born a new meme for me: The GD Walker. (No no no: Granny D, not that). We are GD Walkers, exercising a different but amazingly potent form of political expression.
But then the weather turned against us. A blizzard was brewing, and we were still 4 miles from our hotel. So after deliberation and a vote, we split an expedition team of 6, who took off into the snow (with lights and vests and extra extra care), while the rest were shuttled to the endpoint.
The weather does not look great for the week. Cold mainly — really cold a couple days. We’ve been blessed so far. Blessings seem to be fading. There are mainly short walks ahead. But difficult short walks to be sure.
Day seven took us through the the incredibly beautiful Squam Lake region. My family has spent some summer vacations here, so it felt like coming home. The route was through many back roads, some unpaved. Maybe my favorite walk yet.
We were joined by many walkers from the area who joined for a couple hours, or stood by the side of the road in support. We have one more difficult day of walking — today — until the pace slows down as we enter the heavily populated area of the state.
Still searching for that 4% (96% of America thinks it “important” to reduce the influence of money in politics; part of the play of this trip has been to “find the 4%”). Someone from Wolf-PAC tells me he may have found one. A state representative, Democrat, told the Wolf-PAC representative she didn’t think corruption and dysfunction are a problem in Congress. Before Colbert sends John Oliver, I’m going to seek her out to find out what she means.
Today, Ben Cohen from Ben & Jerry’s will join us. Yesterday a team from Represent.US. Still with us, Kai Newkirk from 99Rise. And an incredible troop of through walkers.
We crossed the 1/2 way point today, ending at 95.2 miles, with 90 to go. We’re through the most difficult walks, sort of. 20 more miles today. 17 the day after. But then it slows down.
We’ve been staying in the homes of volunteers the last few days. More have been joining along the way. The cars keep honking.
There’s one thing I think I know after a week out here that I didn’t when I started this walk.
The thing I always wondered was why what ever pundit said about this issue seemed true: that people don’t care about it. “Care about it,” in the sense that they actually do something about it. That they don’t seems true.
This was a puzzle, for me, because as I’ve interacted with people, I’ve always been struck by the opposite: a yearning, almost passionate desire, that this problem be fixed. So is that just because of the peculiarities of the sorts I connect with? Or maybe just further proof of my winning personality?
But I realized as I thought through this along this walk that there’s two obvious reasons why people who care about something don’t do something about it. They either don’t care enough (the assumption of the pols) or they don’t think anything can be done. It seems clear to me now that it’s the second, not the first, that explains this issue.
Again, as we discovered in our latest polling, 96% believe it at least “important” that the influence of money in politics be reduced. 68% “very important.” 28% at least important. No other issue has this sort of support.
But we also found 91% believe the problem won’t be fixed. We want it fixed; we don’t believe it can be fixed — just as most of us would want to time travel, but most of us don’t do much to advance the cause of time traveling. Or just like most in Egypt or Iraq wanted a different government. But few did anything about it.
This means the real work here is simple: give people a sense that change is possible. Show them how, make it seem manageable. Because if we could crack the 91%, we could free the energy needed to make this change happen.
So this is difficult, it turns out. I guess that should have been obvious, but still, difficult.
Tuesday we did a short walk from Gorham to Pinkham Notch — basically straight up the mountain. As we arrived at an Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the rain began, and with it began an insane 36 hours.
My second kid’s birthday was Wednesday, so a volunteer took me to Hertz (thanks Dotti), and I drove three hours to Boston to surprise him. We played and celebrated his birthday, I did some laundry, went to bed (complete peace), got up at 4, and at 4:30 we (Kai from 99Rise was joining the march and had come up from NY the night before and crashed at our house), drove back to Glen. A volunteer picked us up at Herz (thanks again, Dotti) took us back to Pinkham Notch. We walked 17 miles in warm, brilliantly sunny weather, to North Conway. I grabbed a coffee and then spoke for an hour (with questions) to a large group from the community — no chance to shower, or even change the hiking boots. Dinner, aching legs, crashed.
That wasn’t the difficult part. After I put my son to bed, he woke, crying. He came to me, put his arms around my neck, and begged me to stay. “Why do you need to go,” he asked. “I’m trying to help make things better for all of us, puppy.” “How is walking across New Hampshire ever going to make anything better.”
day 3 finished, day 4 begins (of the #NHRebellion walk)
Warm, sunny, and stunningly beautiful: the 16 miles from Milan to Gorham (through Berlin) was the most encouraging time I’ve ever known in this fight for reform. The word about this march has spread. Cars (and trucks) were constantly waving and honking. And the very best moment for me was coming up over a hill and finding this sign set beside the road:
(click on this image and you can see our Flickr group, all CC-BY licensed)
There hasn’t been a single person along these 47 miles so far who has had to be convinced of the problem. At least some see this as the start of a solution.
day 2 finished, day 3 begins (of the #NHRebellion walk)
Our second day was perfect. A tough walk, but beautiful weather, in the most incredibly beautiful woods and fields of New Hampshire.
At this stage of the walk, we’re largely isolated. But the walk is clearly known, as people are constantly stopping along the road, or honking with their thumbs up as they pass. We did some door to door at the end of the day, waiting for a pickup. The guy opened his door (in really fancy pj bottoms), with: “hey, welcome, how’s the march?”
I’ve been having fun with one particular shtick. Our most recent poll found 96% of Americans answered “important” or “very important” to the question: “How important is it to you that the influence of money in politics be reduced?” (68% “very important,” 28% “somewhat important”). So I’ve taken on the challenge of finding the 4%. We met a couple state rangers who had just policed an ice fishing pond. “Are you,” I asked him, “one of that 4%?” “Hell no,” he told me. “And you won’t find any of those people in New Hampshire.”
We’ll see. So far, he’s right. Not yet met someone who identifies as anything other than a conservative. Nor anyone who doesn’t believe the influence of money should be reduced.
Today we have about 16 miles to cover on the way to Gorham.
It was a tough day one. It will be a long and even tougher day two.
We began in Dixville Notch, and walked 10 miles through the rain. (A “notch” is narrow pass between mountains; Dixville Notch is the narrow pass between before and after the primaries begin — assuming the renovations get completed in time. )
I guess rain was an appropriate mood for the day. That mood was balanced — it was saved — by the endless enthusiasm of the dozens who had shown up to march. Two women had driven from MIT to walk in memory of Aaron. One from New Haven (beginning at 3 am to get there in time). Their stories are incredible and I’ll be more careful today to get permissions to tell more about who these walkers are.
The best story from yesterday was at a logging site. The owner was an “independent” from the Tea Party. We explained what we were doing, and he shook with agreement. His issue was the debt. “We’ll never,” he told us on film, “solve the debt until we get the money out of politics.”
Today will be twice as long. It looks like no rain, but no doubt, there’ll be endless ice. We may get snow in the late morning. But the thing I’m worried about most is just the difficulty of the distance. Twenty one miles on ice won’t be easy. (Though neither will ending the system of corruption in DC…)
In December, I took my daughter (4) to Cinderella on Broadway. As I walked through the incredible beauty of northern New Hampshire, covered in snow, fog hiding just parts of the mountain, the refrain from the prologue kept returning:
"It makes you wish that the world could be as lovely as it looks."
A remix of Brian Boyko's great video about the #NHRebellion walk
Brian Boyko is a Texas Rootstriker (and founder of Blogphilo) who created this really fantastic 3 minute video explaining the #NHRebellion project:
With his help, I did a slight remix, emphasizing the critical McCain-like point: We’re talking about the “system of corruption” in DC. As McCain had said, “I am attacking a system that has to be fixed.”
Over the past couple days, walkers for the NHRebellion have been introducing themselves to each other on list. This one from Greg, speaking of Aaron hit hard:
From the first email announcement I have been happy to have been given the opportunity to do more in supporting the work Aaron has done.
I am a vet. I think of him as a brother vet.
I was in uniform, he did not wear one.
My friends and neighbors “selected me” to serve, I think others have also served, just not formally via a letter from their draft board.
I had the full weight and support of the government at my back, mostly… maybe… at least they said they would be…,
Aaron, I believe had it on his back. Far too much for any individual.
His memorial service in Manhattan changed me deeply by remembering my own life being on the line for my own young convictions.
I have not gone a single day since without spreading his name and message to anyone I have been able to speak to. By far an encouraging experience for me, but so terribly inadequate for who he is, and what he stands for, as do I.
This little hike in New Hampshire helps.
Peace, Greg. I’m looking forward to walking with you.
This is a favorite of mine, available on Senator McCain’s site. But it is so badly formatted on that site, it is almost impossible to read. Here’s a reformatted version (with apologies if the Senator believes there’s a copyright problem with this remix). You can see all McCain’s speeches here. I’ve added some emphasis in places. And you can read about the famous 1999 McCain v. McConnell debate on corruption here.
Bedford, New Hampshire, June 30, 1999 ;Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today delivered the following remarks regarding Campaign Finance Reform.
We are blessed to be Americans, not just in times of prosperity, but at all times. We are a part of something noble; a great experiment to prove to the world that democracy is not only the most effective form of government, but the only moral government.
And, at least in years past, we felt more than lucky to be Americans. We felt proud. But, today, we confront a very serious challenge to our political system, as dangerous in its way as war and depression have been in the past. And it will take the best efforts of every public- spirited American to defeat it.
The threat that concerns me is the pervasive public cynicism that is hurting our democracy.
I’m a conservative, and I believe it is a very healthy thing for Americans to be skeptical about the purposes and practices of public officials and refrain from expecting too much from their government. Self-reliance is the, ethic that made America great.
But healthy skepticism has become widespread cynicism bordering on alienation, and that worries me greatly.
Government is intended to support our constitutional purposes to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
When the people come to believe that government is so corrupt that it no longer serves these ends, our culture could fragment beyond recognition as people seek substitutes for the unifying values of patriotism.
We are a prosperous country, but many Americans, particularly the young, can’t see beyond the veil of their cynicism and indifference. They can’t imagine themselves as part of a cause greater than their self-interest.
And with every new Dow Jones record something gnaws at my conscience, telling me not to be lulled into a false contentment, that something is going wrong with the American way of life.
This country has survived many difficult challenges: a civil war, world war, depression, the civil rights struggle, a cold war. All were just causes. They were good fights. They were patriotic challenges.
Now, we have a new patriotic challenge for a new century: declaring war on the cynicism that threatens our public institutions, our culture, and, ultimately, our private happiness. It is a great and just cause, worthy of our best service.
But those of us privileged to hold public office have ourselves to blame for the sickness in American public life today. It is we who have squandered the public trust.
We who have, time and again, placed our personal and partisan interests before the national interest, earning the public’s contempt for our poll-driven policies, our phony posturing, the lies we call spin and the damage control we substitute for progress.
And we are the defenders of a campaign finance system that is nothing less than an elaborate influence peddling scheme in which both parties conspire to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.
I want to take our politics and our government back from the special interests. I want to take them back from people like Roger Tamraz, who gave $300,000 to the Democratic Party and when he didn’t get what he wanted, promised to spend “$600,000 next time.”
The opponents of campaign finance reform will tell you the voters, particularly Republican voters, don’t care about this issue.
They are wrong.
Most Americans care very much that it is now legal for a subsidiary of a corporation owned by the Chinese Army to give unlimited amounts of money to American political campaigns.
Most Americans care very much that the Lincoln bedroom has become a Motel 6 where the President of the United States serves as the bellhop.
Most Americans care very much when monks and nuns abandon their vows of poverty and pay tens of thousands of dollars to have spiritual communion with the Vice President.
I think most Republicans are outraged when our party abandons the fight to reform government, to make it smaller and less removed in style and substance from the people it serves.
Most Republicans are outraged when their leaders give up the fight that Ronald Reagan led in order to preserve a financial advantage over the Democrats.
I think most Republicans understand that soft money - the enormous sums of money given to both parties by just about every special interest in the country — corrupts our political ideals whether it comes from big business or from labor bosses and trial lawyers.
I am a conservative and I’m running for President to restore national pride and broaden our freedom by reforming the practices of government and politics. I want to reform our tax code. I want to reduce government by waging a relentless war against wasteful spending. I want to reform and protect Social Security and Medicare. I want to reform our failing education system. I want to restructure our military to defend us against the security threats of the next century. I want to reform our liability laws. I want to genuinely deregulate the telecommunications industry that is the engine of our current prosperity.
All these reforms and more are vitally important to America’s future.
But we won’t reform anything until we first reform the way we finance our political campaigns.
As long as special interests dominate campaigns, they will dominate legislation as well. Until we abolish soft money, Americans will never have a government that works as hard for them as it does for the special interests.
During hearings for the 1996 Telecommunications Act, every company affected by the legislation had purchased a seat at the table With soft money. Consequently, the bill attempted to protect them all, a goal that is obviously incompatible with competition. Consumers, who only give us their votes, had no seat at the table, and the lower prices that competition produces never materialized. Cable rates went up. Phone rates went up. And huge broadcasting giants received for free billions of dollars in digital spectrum, property that belonged to the American people.
In the last several years, while Republicans controlled Congress, special interest earmarks in appropriations bills have dramatically increased. The rise in pork barrel spending is directly related to the rise of soft money, as Republicans and Democrats scramble to reward major donors to our campaigns.
The American people want their-money spent on their priorities, and their priorities aren’t ethanol subsidies and free advertising for giant corporations.
Imagine the promises we could keep and the good we could do if politicians stopped treating the federal treasury as a duty free shop for soft money donors. For instance, if we stopped giving away ethanol and oil and gas subsidies we could use the money saved to support a three-year school voucher test in almost all of the largest school districts in America. Our failure to cut taxes as much as we should or begin the systemic reform of the tax code is not attributable solely to the opposition of the other party. For the sake of soft money we have put tax loopholes for special interests ahead of tax relief for working families, and we have made the tax code a bewildering 44,000 page catalogue of favors for a privileged few and a chamber of horrors for the rest of America.
Republicans should be proud that we have finally forced the Clinton Administration to stop making dangerous cuts in defense spending.
But we should be ashamed when we waste billions of dollars on weapons systems that have no use in the post Cold War era while 12,000 enlisted personnel, proud young men and women, live on food stamps.
We should be ashamed when campaign donations cause us to look the other way while sensitive security technology is transferred to countries that very well may use that technology to threaten Americans interests and values.
That’s the kind of defense that soft money buys us, and this country deserves better service from us than that.
In truth, we are all shortchanged by soft money, liberal and conservative alike.
All of our ideals are sacrificed.
We are all corrupted.
I know that is a harsh judgment. But it is, I am sorry to say, a fair one. And even if our own consciences were to allow us to hide from it, the people we are privileged to serve will not.
Most Americans believe we conspire to hold on to every political advantage we have, lest we jeopardize our incumbency by a single lost vote.
Most Americans believe we would pay any price, bear any burden to ensure to success of our personal ambitions - no matter how injurious the effect might be to the national interest.
And who can blame them when the wealthiest Americans and richest organized interests can make six figure donations to political parties and gain the special access to power such generosity confers on the donor.
I’ve been told that there is no room for this issue in Republican primaries. Well, I intend to make room for it.
I will call for the reform of our political system everywhere I go in this campaign.
I will ask my supporters to make campaign reform their top priority, and I’ll challenge my opponents to declare their independence from the political welfare state.
Because I’m not running for President to be someone. I’m running to do something. This is your country, my friends. And I’m running for President to give it back to you.
In the next few weeks, Senator Russ Feingold and I are going to attempt once again to force the United States Senate to abolish soft money. We’re going to fight as hard as we can. But we need your help.
The defenders of the status quo prevailed last time because they convinced the Senate that Americans don’t care about this issue. I ask every American who cares about our country’s future to let Congress know that you want us to put the national interest before the special interests. I ask every Republican voter to let my colleagues know that you still believe in the cause Ronald Reagan fought for, the cause you elected a Republican Congress to serve, the cause of less government and more freedom.
That cause should not be sacrificed for one more hour to preserve a campaign system that values money above principles and integrity.
Even if it were true that Americans don’t care about campaign finance reform- and I do not for one moment believe that it is - I would not give up this fight.
I would rather not be President than win that high office on false pretenses.
How could I ask Americans to enlist in the fight against national cynicism while I support the underlying cause of the public’s disgust with politics? We will never make any real progress in restoring the public’s faith in our government and politics until those of us privileged to hold office prove that we will act in the people’s best interests even if we must risk our own careers to do so.
My friends, I am for campaign finance reform, and I want anyone who might vote for me to know that if I am elected we will have campaign finance reform.
Anyone who is satisfied with the status quo should vote for someone else.
But anyone who believes that America is greater than the sum of its special interests should stand with me.
I stand my ground for this cause for my country’s sake, and also for the sake of my self-respect.
When I was a young man, and all glory was self-glory, I responded aggressively and often irresponsibly to anyone who questioned my honor. I still remember how zealously a boy attended the needs of his self-respect.
But as I grew older, and the challenges to my self-respect became more varied and difficult, I was surprised to discover that while my sense of honor had matured, its defense mattered even more to me than it did when I believed that honor was such a frail thing that any empty challenge threatened it.
I believe public service is an honorable profession. I believed that when I entered the Naval Academy at seventeen and I believe it still. I have grown old in my country’s service, and I should be content with a life that has been more blessed than I deserve.
But the people whom I serve believe that the means by which I came to office corrupt me. And that shames me. That shames me. Their contempt is a stain upon my honor, and I cannot live with it.
So for your sake, for the sake of your children, for the sake of an America that remains the greatest force for good on earth, and, admittedly, for the reputation of an American who has been privileged to hold a public trust for over forty years, please join me in this fight for freedom and reform.
Three questions from a recent graduate thinking about joining us on the march
(1) What are the plans for accommodations along the way? Camping?
We will find or provide a bed (and heat) for anyone who walks and needs one.
(2) I saw that your website mentioned the potential of a support van, are you planning on hiking with full camping gear? None at all? Somewhere in the middle?
People are free to hike as they wish (though there will be safety requirements everyone must follow). The van will make it possible for people to just walk if they want to. Anything else you need, the van can carry.
(3) How would you feel about having me along for the duration? I don’t want to impose if you were expecting more periodic drop-ins from participants.
We would LOVE more walkers along for the duration. Of course.
Anyone interested can sign up here. But if you’re thinking of joining us, please sign up. We need to begin a conversation about training and safety, and need to be certain we can meet the obligation in answer #1.
from the the-burdens-of-being-Lessig's-friend department
A letter sent to friends:
In January, I will join others in a march across New Hampshire (the long way). The march will last two weeks. We will cover 185 miles. And along the way, we will be recruiting citizens from New Hampshire to join the #NHRebellion.
The #NHRebellion was inspired by the late Doris Haddock, aka, Granny D, a citizen of New Hampshire, and who, at the age of 88, walked across the country with a simple sign on her chest: “campaign finance reform.”
Long before I came to the issue, Granny D was recruiting anyone she could to the critically important cause of changing the way campaigns are financed. She believed, as I do, that the current system is a kind of “corruption.” And she believed, as I have come to believe, that unless we find a way to change it, our government will be incapable of addressing sensibly any of the critical issues that it must resolve. Granny D devoted the last part of her life to this fight. The #NHRebellion will continue her work.
The point of the January march is to focus the citizens of New Hampshire on this critical issue of corruption, so that they in turn will focus the candidates in 2016 on corruption too. We will be asking people from across the state to ask the candidates they will inevitably meet over the next two years: “How will you end this corruption?” And the hope is that if New Hampshire makes this an issue, it might well become an issue for the nation as well.
The #NHRebellion plans to walk the state three times between now and the primary in 2016. I’ve agreed to participate in at least the first.
So on January 11 — the day my friend Aaron Swartz died — we will begin at the place the first ballots of the 2016 election will be cast. And on January 24 — the day Granny D was born — we will end with a party in Nashua. In between, we will have as many conversations with as many people as we can about the work Granny D started, and how we can now complete it.
I’m writing to ask for your help with this project.
Anything from simply sharing this email with people who you think might be interested, to helping to sponsor the walk, to actually walking with us, for part or the whole way — I’d be grateful for everything, as this will be a very difficult slog (not the walk, but to win this issue).
But why? Why would I walk for 2 weeks in the freezing winter of New Hampshire?
I’ve spent the last 6 years working on this question of corruption. Aaron Swartz convinced me to take it up. Since I did, I’ve spoken about it more than 250 speeches to thousands of people across the world. (Here’s a mercifully short example: TED talk).
But as I’ve done this, I’ve been struck by the claim of almost every “expert” that “ordinary Americans don’t care about this issue.” Not the sort of people who turn up to a lecture by a law professor. But the rest of America, with a million other concerns, working hard to ignore all things political.
I want to understand how to make this issue compelling to these people too, and face to face. I want to learn how to talk about it so that it connects and is meaningful. Because I am absolutely convinced that we must find a way to rally America to this cause. And I am reluctantly convinced that more of us need to learn how better to talk to America about this cause.
So that’s what I will be doing. We will have a number of events across the state. But the most important part for me will be the informal conversations and what it will teach me. I want to learn something from this about how to make this issue important. And I’d be grateful to you for your help in making it possible.
I’ve set up a wiki to gather wisdom about the best practices/prep for that walk. I’ll be migrating the advice I received before in the comments to the last post, but I’d be grateful to anyone with experience who can contribute.
[#tl;dr translation: Bing now let’s you easily filter on the basis of licenses, aka, the right to reuse (beyond the rights of fair use). Bravo, Bing!]
For years I have been arguing that there’s something ridiculous about the way search engines enable people to find and use content — given the rule of copyright. While Yahoo, then Google, then Bing all enabled people to dig deep into the bowels of “advanced search” to filter search results on the basis of the license, 99% of users don’t know how to dig (Minecraft notwithstanding). So we have a world the the law restricts reuse, but the architecture of search engines doesn’t make it simple for people to know which stuff they have the right to reuse.
The obvious answer, I have been arguing, is for the search engines to more easily permit content to be filtered on the basis of the right to reuse. So just as the Google Image search bar lets me filter on the basis of size, color, type and time, it should also, I’ve argued, make it easy to filter on the basis of the right to reuse.
I was launched on just such a tirade last week, when I was met by a puzzled look from a Microsoft executive. “Show me what you mean,” he asked. So I went to the Google Image search page, searched on “cats” and showed him all the ways I could filter those images of cats. The right to reuse was not on that list.
"Do the same search in Bing," he told me.
I did. And there, on the image search bar, it is: “License” — which, if you extend, gives you the full range of permissions paralleling the range of CC licenses.
I am completely embarrassed by my google-induced ignorance. And I’m completely committed to tying Bing now that it makes permissions so simple. I’m hopeful they can think more about whether “license” is the right word here. But regardless, Microsoft has taken an important step to make easier for users to use the content they are free to use, and respect the rights of copyright owners who don’t want their content reused.
I’ve begun some training for this 185 mile march through New Hampshire in January. But I’d be really eager for expert advice about how one prepares for this. I’m walking about 7 miles a day between now and then, in my boots, suffering the blisters already. But what else should one do? And how best should we be prepared?