November 14, 2007  ·  Lessig

Barack Obama Logo

“DON’T DO THIS!” a friend wrote, a friend who never uses allcaps, a friend who cares genuinely about what’s good for me, and who believes that what’s good for me depends in part upon how easily I can talk to the next administration. “He is NOT going to win. She has it sewed up. DON’T burn your bridges before they’re hatched — so to speak.”

So was my suggestion that I come clean publicly about what many here will have intuited long ago — tha I support Barack Obama for President — met by my friend. But I said as much in March, 2004, though I expected this year would be four years later. Barack was a colleague from way back. I’ve supported every campaign since the first. And from the very first moments I knew the guy, I thought that he was precisely the sort we should be able to elect as President.

Friendship, however, isn’t the most compelling reason (for at least others) to support a candidate for President. I was therefore relieved and very happy that on substance, too, this is my candidate.

The closest leading competitor for my loyalty is of course Edwards. He’s got great views about technology and privacy. He’s got a fantastic commitment to changes that might well address the corruption that has become my focus. And he’s come around to the right views about the war. I’ve long admired his passion and conviction. And but for fears about his flirting with protectionism, he would, in my view, make a great President.

The other front running Democrat, however, is not a close call for me. (Saying this is what terrified my newly allcaps friend.) She supported the war, but as my support of Edwards last time round indicates, I can forgive that. The parts I can’t get over all relate to the issues around corruption. I signaled as much in my comments about her comments about lobbyists. We see two radically different worlds here. And were she President, I’d bet everything that we’d see radically little change.

But the part that gets me the most about Senator Clinton is the eager embrace of spinelessness. I don’t get this in Democrats generally. I never have, but I especially don’t get it after two defeats to the likes of George Bush (ok, one defeat, but let’s put that aside for the moment). Our party seems constitutionally wedded to the idea that you wage a campaign with tiny speech. Say as little as possible. Be as uncontroversial as you can. Embrace the chameleon as the mascot. Fear only that someone would clearly understand what you believe. (Think of Kerry denying he supported gay marriage — and recognize that the same sort of people who thought that would win him support are now inside the control room at ClintonHQ).

All politicians of course do this to some degree. And about some issues, I even get it. But what put me over the line with Senator Clinton was the refusal to join the bipartisan call that presidential debates be free. Not because this is a big issue. But because even on this (relatively) small issue, she couldn’t muster the strength to do the right thing.

Her failure here was not because her campaign didn’t know of the issue. I spoke directly to leading figures (or so they said) in the campaign. The issue was discussed, and a decision was made. And the decision was to say nothing about the issue. You can almost see the kind of tiny speak that was battered around inside HQ. “Calling for free debates might be seen as opposing copyright.” “It might weaken our support among IP lawyers and Hollywood.” “What would Disney think?” Better to say nothing about the issue. Better to let it simply go away.

And no doubt that was the safe bet, highly likely and politically sensible. But the issue of course didn’t go away. The legal threats that motivated us to launch this call for free debates materialized in a threat against Senator McCain. But that again gave the Senator an opportunity to say something true and principled and consistent with values she certainly ought to hold dear: That Fox should not not silence McCain, even if his words were an attack on her. Again, there was an opportunity for principled, and strong character. Again, it was frittered away by tiny speak among the very same sorts who frittered away 2000, and 2004.

We (Democrats) and we (Americans) have had enough of this kind of “leadership.” That (plus the Lincoln Bedroom) made it impossible for me, honestly, to support Senator Clinton. No doubt I would prefer her to any Republican (save, of course, the amazing Ron Paul). But I can’t support the idea that she represents the ideals of what the Democratic Party must become.

And that leaves Barack — an easy choice for me (except for the “trailing Clinton” part) for lots of reasons.

First, and again, I know him, which means I know something of his character. “He is the real deal” has become my favorite new phrase. Everything about him, personally, is what you would dream a candidate should be. Integrity, brilliance, warmth, humor and most importantly, commitment. They all say they’re all this. But for me, this part is easy, because about this one at least, I know.

Second, I believe in the policies. Clearly on the big issues — the war and corruption. Obama has made his career fighting both. But also on the issues closest to me. As the technology document released today reveals, to anyone who reads it closely, Obama has committed himself to important and importantly balanced positions.

First the importantly balanced: You’ll read he’s a supporter of Net Neutrality. No surprise there. But read carefully what Net Neutrality for Obama is. There’s no blanket ban on offering better service; the ban is on contracts that offer different terms to different providers for that better service. And there’s no promise to police what’s under the technical hood (beyond the commitment already articulated by Chairman Powell): This is a sensible and valuable Net Neutrality policy that shows a team keen to get it right — which includes making it enforceable in an efficient way, even if not as radical as some possible friends would like.

Second, on the important: As you’ll read, Obama has committed himself to a technology policy for government that could radically change how government works. The small part of that is simple efficiency — the appointment with broad power of a CTO for the government, making the insanely backwards technology systems of government actually work.

But the big part of this is a commitment to making data about the government (as well as government data) publicly available in standard machine readable formats. The promise isn’t just the naive promise that government websites will work better and reveal more. It is the really powerful promise to feed the data necessary for the Sunlights and the Maplights of the world to make government work better. Atomize (or RSS-ify) government data (votes, contributions, Members of Congress’s calendars) and you enable the rest of us to make clear the economy of influence that is Washington.

After the debacle that is the last 7 years, the duty is upon the Democrats to be something different. I’ve been wildly critical of their sameness (remember “Dems to the Net: Go to hell” which earned me lots of friends in the Democratic party). I would give my left arm to be able to celebrate their difference. This man, Mr. Obama, would be that difference. He has as much support as I can give.

(Oh, and to my allcaps friend, this was my reply: “Don’t be ridiculous. This isn’t about misplaced courage. Barack is going to win this one easily.”)

  • Callum

    His children attend Trinity United Church of Christ. Religion has no place in politics, I’m not sure that I believe Obama will keep them separate. Otherwise, he sounds like a great candidate.

  • B. Dewhirst

    Mr. Lessig, while I share your criticism of Senator Clinton, I’m quite taken aback that you support Ron Paul. While many of his stances seem sensible, his opposition to the first amendment’s separation of church and state is deeply troubling to me. I’d suggest the Libertarian Party frontrunner, George Phillies, as an alternative if you had to recommend not-a-democrat. (Disclosure, I’m a past student of his.)

  • John A Arkansawyer

    There’s a difference between supporting Ron Paul and calling Ron Paul “amazing” while suggesting you’re prefer him to Hilary Clinton. That said, I’m still taken aback by it.

  • Mark Lemley

    Right on, Larry! Go Barack!

  • Brad

    Too bad there’s some unfortunate comments in front of this one, but such is the internet.

    I don’t get to take part in your elections, but as a Canadian I have to say that Obama has struck me as one of the most interesting candidates in the democratic party, especially among the front-runners for both parties. I get the sense that his positions are thought out, not reactionary or poll driven. I think the willingness to talk to leaders of countries that the U.S. doesn’t have good relations with at the moment (like Venezuela or Iran) was a sign of this – a recognition that existing U.S. policy towards these nations isn’t working, and maybe even a chance to apologize for some less then brilliant things that caused these problems in the first place. I hope you elect him; I think he’d be a good President to be a neighbor to.

    And he seems to “get” some aspects of today’s culture (his appearances on The Daily Show for example) that put him more in touch with what’s actually happen then I’d hazard many candidates are (Ron Paul of course being another exception as well).

  • Outsource

    Strange English in the attacks. Wonder if the Attack Machine has been outsourced.

  • Andrew

    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. Obama is the most exciting presidential candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime. He has the intelligence and political skill to drastically improve this country on both the domestic and foreign fronts. It gives me great pleasure to see the Hillary=inevitable formula beginning to dry up (at least in the important early primary states). I truly believe Obama will win this nomination.

  • G

    Fired up!

  • Jayne Chapman – Boca Raton, Florida

    I have read up on Ron Paul and although some of his positions interest me, too many of them are too radical for now and well into the future – how do you eliminate social security and medicaire? I don’t get that – most seniors can’t get along now –
    Anyway, other than that, I agree whoehardedly in your assestment of Obama. I have been a supporter from day one. I started a local group for him and have heard him speak in person a few times and attended a luncheon where his wife was the speaker. I find them to be, in your words, and mine over the course of this experience “the real deal”. I think they truly are in this for all of the right reasons – to change the course our country has wrongly been on for too many years and bring the government back to the people. They are brilliant, decent people who love each other, their children and the country that they envision.


    You get it right.
    As an industry insider myself, based on policies, there is no other candidate for me other than Obama.
    He gets it.

    I’m fired up!! Ready to go!

  • Mark Billingsley

    Wow…nominating and electing a president because of their astrological sign. And people bashed Kucinich for admitting he saw a UFO? Hey psychic couple, if you had any power at all, peer into a dictionary and learn how to spell. And quit with the “radical Muslim” thing. Neither his real father, Barack Sr., or his STEP-FATHER Mr. Soetoro were radical Muslims. His father was an atheist and Soetoro, while Muslim, was not what you could consider a practicing Muslim and therefore certainly no Muslim. But you know all this already…you’re PHSYCHIC…LOL. More like psychotic.

  • Pete Tiarks

    No idea whether it’s misplaced courage or not, but my already sky-high respect for Lessig just went up a notch.

    And Go Barack.

    Also, hasn’t Ron Paul said that social security and medicare were actually pretty low down on his list of villainous government institutions to scrap? Always had the impression he wanted to spend most of his time sorting out the Fed. Just wondering.

  • obamafan

    Outsourced damage control lolol

    Go Hillary!

    As a Gore holdout I am now leaning to Obama, but haven’t considered a running mate yet.

    Any suggestions

    What would you look for in an Obama running mate, what weaknesses in the GE could the right running mate bolster.

    With the nomination secured would he be able to cut loose the beltway clintonites and chose someone like Howard Dean and still have the big money, big media support to take the GE

  • Lee Bryant

    I was visiting NYC this week (I am a European) and a very intelligent Caribbean cab driver told me that he was begging his friends not to support Obama, because in his view if he gets anywhere near the White House, he will be shot dead. I sincerely hope he is proved wrong, as Obama seems fantastic and would grace any country as its leader. But in a period of such blatant criminality in the US government, I find it hard to argue against the historical precedents put forward by the cab driver that suggest Obama would not be allowed to be President.

    I suspect you are more optimistic, and perhaps believe the Halibutons, Blackwaters, etc only operate outside these United States, and I hope you are right. Obama seems exactly what is needed at this juncture, especially if Al Gore really won’t step up to the plate.

  • t.a.

    opposing Obama because his children, ages 6 & 9, attend church? the majority of Americans, including the majority of liberals (i’m fairly confident) attend church, as do their kids. there is nothing in Obama’s political past that indicates he would be any kind of theocrat. not to mention his denomination is one of the most liberal in the country.

    there’s a difference between separation of church and state and being a person of faith within government. we all have some kind of spiritual faith that informs our work; with Obama, you see the results in the kind of work he does in the Senate.

  • Seth Finkelstein


    “It is the really powerful promise to feed the data necessary for the Sunlights and the Maplights of the world to make government work better. Atomize (or RSS-ify) government data (votes, contributions, Members of Congress’s calendars) and you enable the rest of us to make clear the economy of influence that is Washington.”

    Look at it this way: That data’s availability has gone way up in the past decade. Has the government gotten significantly less corrupt? If not, I think that’s your answer as to how much effect it has.

  • Boo

    You Obama fans are such children…. You remind me of the Nader raiders who lost the 2000 election for us and you are very hard to educate………

  • Susanna

    Thank you for writing this. Even though I support a different candidate (Edwards), your article does a good job of explaining why I think he’d make a better President than Clinton.

  • Danielle

    Integrity is very important to me, having the balls to go up against established systems that have damaged our country and culture is quite necessary if we are to see real change in our governance.

    That’s why there is nobody but Kucinich for me in ’08.

    It’s one thing to say the Bush administration misled the public it’s another to hold them accountable!

  • Phoebe

    ha ha! Hey Juliet of the Allcaps, Scorpio actually means Hillary is a paranoid grudge-holder, and Leo means Obama is a charismatic leader. Like Leo Bill Clinton. And while I loved Scorpio Dean, and still do, it was his Scorpionic behavior that lost him Iowa. Scorpions have been known to sting themselves fatally in their desire to attack their opponents.

    This information in this post is For Entertainment Purposes Only, of course!

  • Dan Garthwaite

    Just to clarify:
    Ron Paul _does_ wish to end Social Security and Medicare wealth redistribution — for you and me.

    He has never said that he wishes to end benefits for anyone receiving them, and he finds himself repeatedly correcting the confusion surrounding such a simple statement.. He just wants to end the program. Why so many make the cognitive leap that it will cause bedlam and chaos in the retired communities overnight is a mystery.

    I guess it’s just been that long since we’ve seen ANY government program retired. I’m 31, and I can’t name any. They just recently ended the Spanish American War telephone tax…. so I gues I have seen it in my lifetime.

    He has entertained the idea of a cash payout for those wishing it that are currently receiving benefits, but that isn’t his plan, just a damned good idea for those with the forthought to take advantage of it.

    Remember, your return on ‘SS investment’ of 15% of your income is about 1-2%. That’s the system he wants to terminate in an orderly fashion.

  • bob

    Ready to go!

    Wow, what is with the weirdo comments? Why on this site and not others?

  • Dan

    So Larry… why not Edwards? Is it because you don’t think he has as good a shot as Obama? Or is it because Obama is an old colleague? Or are there one or two issues that you happen to prefer Obama on?

    I like Obama a lot too, but I really like this policy on drug patents from Edwards:

  • Asa

    I just want to second what Susanna said. While I’m an Edwards guy all the way, your cogent argument definitely helps put Obama up as my backup choice.

  • Josh

    I tend to be a bit of an oddball amongst republicans, but even I have a problem supporting any of the current candidates. I tend to agree with Larry on this point – Obama and Edwards are very attractive to conservative voters who have other interests that compete with social interests (technology, patent policy, freedom of information, etc – as an aside, Obama’s talk to Google today was striking for me; well played!).

    Boo: I think you’ve grossly misinterpreted Hillary’s popularity amongst the populace. She is a deeply polarizing force which is the exact opposite of what the country currently needs. And to Larry’s point, her performance in the debates is doing everything but gather support. Also, the Nader comparison is a bit off – this is the primaries, not the election.

    ya momma illustrates everything I fear coming out in this election. And not just from “backwater country boys”…

  • lolita johnson

    i named my newest beloved chiquaqua prince obama for his potential presidency, whom could represent all the people. he is genectically for the majority of the people, with his mixed racial heritage. long live america!

  • Tom Hanson

    Ever since his electrifying speech at the Democratic Convention I have shared your optimism about Obama. I hope you are right, that he will win easily. The thought of having to decide in 2008 who to vote for from the two current national front runners leaves me a very hollow feeling.
    Tom Hanson

  • Jason

    Great endorsement.

    I support Obama because the core of his agenda is to change the process of government. Fixing the system — adding transparency and accountability and cutting off the primary means of influence-peddling — is the most important issue of the day. And Obama’s the only candidate for which it’s not just part of a laundry list of talking points, but it’s really his top priority. Fix the system, and fix it so well that the next George Bush who comes along can’t break it.

    The negative comments here are amazingly similar to some on Ben Smith’s blog on, which were also all pro-Hillary or anti-Obama. It seems some Hillary fan has unleashed a comment scraper/bot.

  • gj

    I’m not sure why I or anyone else should care who Larry thinks should be president, or why Larry, or his friend, think it matters if he “burns his bridges” with Clinton. Is he expecting a Supreme Court nomination or something?

  • Lee Stranahan

    Great endorsement.

    I was having a conversation today with another Democrat and we both said we didn’t much care for Hillary but we’d sure support her over any Republican….except Ron Paul.

    And I’m an ex-libertarian who understands all the problems with Ron Paul and those problems are myriad. I even believe that Libertarians helped get us into this Bush mess, by providing credible arguements that were twisted by Bushco in their mantra of ‘freedom, lower taxes, freeeeedom’….Bush says these words and doesn’t really mean them at all. Paul says them and does, but he makes it possible for people to not be able to tell the difference.

    But I’d vote for Paul over Clinton becuase I want the Bush / Clinton / Bush / Clinton dynasty stopped dead in it’s tracks. Paul would represent some CHANGE…

    But he’s my sixth or seventh choice, after every other Democrat except Hillary.

  • Alchemist


    Moonbats all’ round here, except for the relatively sane Canadian visitor who nevertheless has his facts (and politics) completely wrong.

    Thank goodness the foregoing commenters will have negligible effect on the country’s direction.

  • Matt

    …The American left has turned into a skittish, hysterical old lady, one who defiantly insists on living in the past, is easily mesmerized by half-baked pseudo-intellectual nonsense, and quick to run from anything like real conflict or responsibility.

  • corinne

    I’m afraid you’ll wish you had backed John Edwards instead of Barack Obama. He means well but it’s clear from his proposal that he has no real idea how government works.

    “As you’ll read, Obama has committed himself to a technology policy for government that could radically change how government works. The small part of that is simple efficiency — the appointment with broad power of a CTO for the government, making the insanely backwards technology systems of government actually work.”

    I have been in the Washington DC area full time since 1984, after attending college here. Do you have any concept of how many politicians have been elected on the promise that they can “change how government works”? If elected, Obama will become yet another in a long line of politicians–including George Bush–who wanted to “change how government works.” (Remember how Bush was the MBA president who was going to run the government like a business?)

    If you read the document, Obama touts his Internet campaign as transformational, when it has been nothing of the kind. In fact, he hasn’t exploited the technology as much as he claims.

    The data he claims are not available to citizens is indeed available. It is easily accessible? That’s another story. But the data are there. This in particular gave me a chuckle:

    Lifting the veil from secret deals in Washington with a web site, a search engine, and other web tools
    that enable citizens easily to track online federal grants, contracts, earmarks, and lobbyist contacts with
    government officials.

    Let’s address just one item in that laundry list: Online federal grants. Do you or Obama have any idea a) how many granting agencies exist, b) how many applications they receive in one year and c) how many of them are funded? The National Science Foundation alone receives 40,000 grant applications and funds 11,000. Want to know more about those grants? You can look them up at the NSF website. Here’s another:

    Giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five
    days before signing any non-emergency legislation.

    Guess what. Citizens should already be able to do this through their senator’s or congressman’s office. This is a redundant proposal. If the Senators and Congressmen aren’t adequately informing their constituents about pending legislation and soliciting feedback, that needs to happen.

    I could go on and on dissecting this document. Sure, it sounds sexy and exciting but it’s not based on any real-world understanding of how the federal government actually operates.

  • Menlo Bob

    If indeed your main concern is corruption, how would you square Barack Obama’s close relationship with Tony Rezko, the posterboy of corrupt politics in Illinois?

  • Karl K

    As a progressive libertarian (pro-choice, pro free markets, pro-intervention, pro Net neturality), I understand Lessig’s fascination with Obama. HIlary is a triangulating ambitious schemer.while Edwards is a demagogic hypocritical populist. Obama, on other hand, is trying hard to carve out policy positions on a number of issues.

    But, frankly, he has failed.

    My sensibility generally leads me to vote for Republicans because they often have bedrock principles that are intellectually coherent. The Bush administration has often been mendacious, anti-science, and incompetent, yet core principles, incompetently applied admittedly, do inform a lot of what they do.

    Barack Obama is not a fully formed thinker. He can wax poetic and eloquent, but if you drive down hard into his words, the language is vacuous. The article he wrote for Foreign Affairs — — is just a laundry list of empty bromides, often at odds with the facts of actual developments on the ground.

    I live in Illinois, and I voted for the guy as Senator. I might even do it again. And I have no doubt that, as Larry points out, he is a helluva nice guy. I think he can make a pretty good Senator. But in my view, he has the smallish mind of a community organizer trying to get his arms around big ideas. And he himself has greased the pole he is trying to climb.

    If he becomes President — a real possibility I think — we may be looking at the next Jimmy Carter.

  • zephyr teachout

    This is a wonderful endorsement, and an appropriate one, well-timed.

    I am skeptical of campaign pronouncements, and judging people on what they say is important to them; but when it comes to Obama and transparency, openness, and ethical government, there is every reason to believe him. He has fought this fight for a long time in Illinois and in the Senate.

    Once, when I was working for the Sunlight Foundation, I called up a (very helpful) staffer at Obama’s office about a particular provision we were pushing relating to getting bills online so that people could read them. As I started talking, the staffer stepped in to let me know that the provision we wanted would never go anywhere, and was unworkable, and Washington couldn’t function with such a provision. There was an awkward set of half-sentences, until I clarified to her that I was calling because this is something that Obama himself had already proposed, and I was calling to ask advice on other possible sponsors… He is so deeply committed to transparency that he manages to shock his staff.

    His leadership on Fedspending and other bills is just now showing itself, as journalists and citizens are starting to use the tools of transparency to take back ownership of government.

    My main reason for supporting him is his foreign policy, but this is a very close second, and I am thrilled at such a great endorsement.


  • Thomas

    If it’s all about “corruption,” you might explain your view of Rezko.

  • BobP

    Let’s examine for a moment the beginning of this post. Your friend the Hillary supporter says, “He is NOT going to win. She has it sewed up. DON’T burn your bridges before they’re hatched — so to speak.”

    Does it not bother anyone that Hillary and her supporters essentially threaten people? I know of no other democrat that tries to initimidate people into supporting them. It should tell you everything about Hillary that most other people already know. She’s ruthless, paranoid, and unethical. Translation: She’s precisely the opposite of what this country needs.

  • HOTI Dave

    Mr. Lessig, I wish I could be as optimistic as you are about what distinctions Obama makes regarding net neutrality. He may be nuanced in his speeches now, but if he did take office and did encourage a bill to be drafted, don’t you think it likely the would-be reformers will take it too far, and start requiring total packet equality? I don’t know if you follow the NN Squad listserv that just started a couple weeks ago, but there is an interesting split between the “all packets are created equal” crowd and the “we just want to avoid abuse” crowd.

    I generally take you to be among the latter, more thoughtful net neutrality supporters. I work for the Hands Off the Internet group, where we agree that abuse should be addressed but regulations specific to net neutrality should be avoided, lest they close off new business models from developing. So when it comes to Obama, I think there is a contradiction between his claim to support an OPEN Internet and a LEVEL Internet. Specific attempts to block ISPs from making deals to deliver faster service for some applications is hardly open.

    And I recall your Wired essay from earlier in the year, where you expressed regret about supporting the breakup of Microsoft. If memory serves, it wasn’t handled the way you had hoped. I wonder if Obama is elected, in 5 years will you be writing a similar essay about net neutrality.

  • Jose Castillo

    I can not vote for Barack for several reasons:

    1. Barack claims to be against the war, yet voted to fund the war numerous times. How can you be against something, and vote for it?

    2. Barack has not cloture voted any resolution to bring the troops home.

    3. When Congress was about to give amnesty to the telecom companies, it was Chris Dodd that stood up for Americans and held the telecom companies to the fire for spying on Americans. Where was Barack? Why didn’t he put a hold on the bill?

    4. He has missed 70% of the votes this Qtr. If you are running for President, make sure you vote in the Senate!

    5. He voted for the US PATRIOT act reauthorization!!

    So where is the change Barack??

  • Jared Peters

    Barack makes me believe in the original Democratic message. Clinton makes me believe that what the last 7 years have been showing us; that the Democrats have lost their soul. Clinton is the best shot the Republicans have in a general election. She’s a liability. If she’s able to inspire so much dissatisfaction from her own party, how in the world is she going to get the crucial independent votes that Kerry couldn’t get last time? If she were elected, how much could she really get done? The GOP would reunite their party to ensure a Republican congress. I’m voting blue either way, but I think Hillary is a mistake right now. Nostalgia and fear cannot be the democratic platform right now. It’s not enough.

  • Right Wing Nutter

    More power to your Obama election efforts. Pull your party as far to the left as you can. Keep pretending you’re running against Bush instead of Romney, Giuliani, or McCain. You’ve got to get the moderates in order to win the election, and Barak’s strident socialism combined with that of the Democrat controlled Congress is just the thing to push moderates to the right.

    I and the rest of us nasty old right wingers would like to see the government data in your third to the last paragraph made available. We’ve been working for that kind of transparency on for a couple of years now. However pigs will fly before your Congressional leaders allow it. To be fair, they would taxi for takeoff before GOP leaders allowed it.

  • David

    Here’s an interesting tidbit:

    $4,431,609 given by people who identified their occupation as “CEO”.

    $1,088,109 to Republicans $3,343,500 to Democrats


    Clinton seems to take the cake at donations with CEO for a title, and moreso than any of the other Democratic candidates. Nothing like grassroots support…

  • Alex Martelli

    Alas, I have to agree with Krugman’s article: Obama’s credibility has been dissipated in his absurd hopping on the bandwagon of the alleged “crisis” in Social Security. Anybody who so easily falls for such a transparent reactionary ruse, and can’t be bothered to check the facts with any sound economist or moderately good accountant before joining that shameful crusade, just doesn’t have what it takes to navigate the difficulties attendand to governing this country.

  • Lucian

    With Respect to Mr. Lessig and the Obama supporters, I have some concerns which none of you or the candidates are addressing.

    1. Who is going to pay for this war? I think Obama’s idea to raise income taxes are HORRIBLE. I prefer carbon taxes. So from that I take it Obama wants to spread the costs of the war as far as possible while the people who benefit from the war are a handful of billionaires. Why make the people who did not support the war pay for it?

    2. How is Mr. Obama going to pay for all this stuff? The economy is crashing, the dollar is collapsing, and we continue to keep printing empty paper and asking other countries to pay all our debts. Honestly, social security is not going to exist for my generation, and neither is medicare, so what is Mr. Obama going to do? Where will he get the money to pay or this war, the debt, and restore the economy? Are we going to have to switch to the Amero to save the Dollar? The Canadian dollar is worth more right now.

    3. Tax reform, all of the ideas for tax reform seem to be old ideas that never worked before and wont work now. Blanket taxes on the rich do not work, blanket taxes on the poor don’t work. Why don’t we try taxing corruption and crime? We don’t we try taxing pollution? And why don’t we make the tax code simple, good behavior = lower taxes and bad behavior = higher taxes.

    4. Complete lack of ideas, and lack of science in law making. A lot of laws that Democrats pass are emotional reactions to what the Republicans do, and so nothing ever really gets accomplished, it’s years of back and forth – action – reaction, in which the end result is worse in each generation because there are no really new ideas for how to govern. How about that carbon tax? It’s a start. How about using science and technology to aid lawmaking? Well the reason we don’t use all our computers and science to make more logical and efficient policies is because our laws aren’t about justice, or principles, but just about the bottom line for the ruling corporations. Thus we cannot solve problems like healthcare, and we cannot even attempt to solve it.

    So, in my opinion, the main problems are corruption, and the economy, and I think we can solve both through tax reform. Tax corruption and pollution instead of income, and the economy will drastically improve. Invent new systems for taxing which cannot be avoided, or just invent privileges which can be given and taken away based on individual behavior, so that a corrupt CEO loses more than he/she gains by being socially destructive. In order to reduce corruption, corruption must have a cost hat outweighs the benefit, and the government can do that through corruption taxes. An example could be, that income taxes could be based on how corrupt an individual is, and that individual could have a corruption rating.

    The corrupt CEO or employee convicted, could be sentenced to having their income tax doubled, or tripled for punishment. This extra money could go to removing the income tax for decent honorable citizens. This money could also be used to pay for stuff like social security, and universal healthcare. And of course this could be used to pay for the next war, but at least the right people would be taxed.

  • Lucian

    Think of my ideas on corruption as a form of risk management. The risk being corruption.
    Each individual recieves a rating, which decides how much of their income they pay in taxes.

    An individual convicted of public corruption should have a higher tax rating and pay more. If banks can operate this way to manage risk, I don’t see why the government can’t institute a type of corruption insurance. Social security was meant to solve the problems of yesterday, the problems of today are corruption, and until we have a big idea and reinvent the system, it’s going to fall apart just as Rome did.

    Since we are not all equally corrupt, we should not all equally pay for the damages caused by corruption. The corrupt should pay higher taxes simply because they cause broke it and should fix it.

  • Nick

    I am reminded of this post:
    Lessig for Attorney General!

  • Wisdom of Cowards


    Look at it this way: That data’s availability has gone way up in the past decade. Has the government gotten significantly less corrupt? If not, I think that’s your answer as to how much effect it has.

    Very good point, and we should be more skeptical because of it. But wouldn’t you expect a lag between data becoming available and the people figuring out how to use it effectively?

  • Seth Finkelstein

    WoC, if tomorrow never comes, then we get a perpetual “the State will wither away – someday” excuse. I think there’s enough eviidence in, to make a judgment.

    I have a joke about this:

    Me to web-evangelist: When can we make a determination that it’s failed?
    web-evangelist: As soon as I’ve gotten my buy-out and sold my stock-options.

    [Disclaimer: This doesn't apply to Lessig, who isn't looking for a buy-out, it's a generic bit of humor]

  • Yael

    I agrees with posters questioning Obama’s voting history. Where was he when this bill passed into law?

  • Jasper

    Although I like Obama, I must say his proposal to relieve senior citizens from having to pay income tax is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. It’s also one of the weirdest.

  • Yael

    Oh, That bill being H.R. 1955 which is being followed up with S. 1959.

  • peter haley

    Larry, please remind Barack (and yourself) about the details of the Marc Rich pardon. I am amazed you did not refer to that very corrupt action by Bill Clinton , which Hillary no doubt knew aboput in advance. Hillary should be asked in detail about this. Bill Clinton, Eric Holder and Jack Quinn deliberately acted to bypass Mary Jo White and the NY prosecutors of the disgusting Marc Rich to reward his eqaully disgusting wife ( and the less than fantastic Beth Dozoretz ) , another huge contributor, for their multi-million dollar contributions. Hillary should be asked in detail about this.

  • Enjoyer
  • Tom J

    I support Obama for a lot of reasons (the lack of “tiny speak” being one of them). What really crystallized it for me was Hillary’s new soundbite, “Turn up the heat!” Haven’t we had enough of that?

    I support Obama’s campaign of “More light, less heat”, specifically when it comes to making data available to the Sunlights and maplights, as you put it.

  • Michael

    Ready To Go!

  • Yvonne

    I am a member of CCmixter and a great believer in the Creative Commons movement. A few weeks back one of my band’s songs was used (under CC licensing) in a Youtube anti-Bush/Clinton video.

    The video is called Gender Bender . While it has nothing to do with Obama…it very effectively captures Bush-Clinton “more of the same” feeling. And as a PLUS…it’s funny, creepy, entertaining and a great example of CC in action.


  • Ray Jenson

    I’ve waited for a while and really studied Obama. However, I’m not sure he’s on the right side of the copyright issue. The only point at which I’m holding out is his reported support for the expansion of the draconian system of copyright that creates so much of the issues we have with regard to creativity. I support creativity, which is why I don’t support the current system of copyright.

    What we need is a return to reason. I realize that this return to reason is going to be a long and difficult battle, but that’s why I keep up with the Pirate Party. My position in the national party (as well as that of the Utah party) is to bring reason to the table, to show that the idea of copyright itself is a good thing, and that the idea of patent is a good thing. But my main concern is that by expanding copyright even further, it will cause a further rift between the two extremes and make the very idea of copyright non-viable.

    What we need is a reduction of copyright, a return to the traditional values surrounding it, and a commitment to genuinely explore this complex issue, with a moratorium on legal activities in either direction until findings can be arrived at. The idea of copyright is fundamental to the operation of a democratic society, which must seek to protect the rights of others in order to protect one’s own rights.

    I’m sure the RIAA and ASCAP will be against this idea. They have much more to gain by directly misleading lawmakers with fabricated data from questionable sources. The MPAA won’t like it because it means that they have to stop what they’re doing, as well. And the copyright abolitionists won’t like that very much either, because it means that they can no longer create a counter-offensive to stymie those who would sue not only innocent people, but those who agree with them that copyright should be abolished.

    I don’t think Obama should support the abolition of copyright, particularly because of its being mandated by the Constitution. But I also don’t believe that supporting the current regime of copyright is the way to go. Artists are not served by large companies who never pay them anything after the transfer agreement expires, and yet continue to collect based on copyright ownership. Artists are not served by the fact that there is no longer any work in the public domain. I’ve even stopped singing “happy birthday” to my children because it’s now against copyright law, and actually illegal to perform without paying a royalty, one which the original artist (now dead) will never be paid.

    What I think Obama should support is an exploration (and a truly empirical study) of the copyright issue that shows the impact of the current copyright system. I’d love nothing more than to sit across the table from the likes of Cary Sherman, Dan Glickman, Marilyn Bergman, Robert Holleyman, and whomever would represent their puppet, the Copyright Alliance. I’d love to stand there and explain to them for the four hours needed to show my position on copyright, which includes history back to Ancient Egypt. I’d love to challenge them to show their work and provide access to original receipts and bank records over the past 20 years (since I’m trained in accounting and I am currently writing enterprise resource planning software) so that I can either validate or refute their practices. I have no greater wish than to be able to study their side of it for myself and to either validate or invalidate their data. I currently believe in its invalidity because of the lack of data offered, the obvious faults in methodology, the shoddy bookkeeping that I’ve seen so far, and the tendency for members of those organizations whose heads I’ve named above to alternate between subterfuge and subversion. With my independent study of history, I am clearly not on their side.

    Professor Lessig, you should understand something of my esteem for you and your work (the TED talk in March was nothing short of brilliant, though I just watched it the past week or two after they released it on their web site). But I think your endorsement is early. I have yet to hear anything about the issue of copyright that I could support. Obama’s vague statement of expansion of copyright overseas, if I’m interpreting what I’ve read correctly, is bad for our country, bad for copyright, bad for creativity, and bad for the industries that depend upon it. Water is good for the human body, but if water is overabundant, the body in which there’s too much of it dies. This is what I see happening to copyright.

    While I support Obama on his numerous other issues (not to mention he’s got that “presidential” look down pat), I cannot support him outright until I hear his views on copyright, and whether or not he’d be willing to listen to the voice of reason so that he can avoid the extremism that plagues this issue.

  • Derak Jones

    Ben Stanfield is a political smear artist who is seriously involved in the Obama Campaign. Does Senator Obama know how often Ben Stanfield smears politicians and corporations like Apple computer via his MacSlash blog? Why are wackocrats like Ben Stanfield being allowed into the Obama Campaign?

  • I Like Moran

    Why is Obama campaign blogger Ben Stanfield trashing my progressive Democratic Congressman, Jim Moran?

  • DW

    Barrack has accepted $129,668 from Time Warner according to Of course, Hillary Clinton accepted $240,130. Does that mean Hillary is twice the threat to Copyright reform? Or maybe the money doesn’t make any difference at all….

    But I think we need to consider seriously the kind of “support” these entities can give…I sincerely hope that Barrack will lend his ear to friends with less than the following amounts of cash to share:

    1 Goldman Sachs $430,578

    2 JP Morgan Chase & Co $269,359

    3 Exelon Corp $266,600

    4 UBS AG $264,330

    5 Kirkland & Ellis $253,089

    6 Lehman Brothers $241,090

    7 Sidley Austin LLP $232,325

    8 University Of Chicago $209,356

    9 Skadden, Arps et al $204,971

    10 Citigroup Inc $203,000

    11 National Amusements Inc $199,800

    12 Jenner & Block $184,879

    13 Harvard University $179,350

    14 Citadel Investment Group $166,600

    15 Jones Day $158,400

    16 Mayer, Brown et al $155,806

    17 University of California $133,972

    18 Time Warner $129,668

    19 Morgan Stanley $127,425

    20 Credit Suisse Group $124,450

  • Janet Riehl

    Since you support Obama, you may find Alan Brody’s suggestion of a “1789 donation campaign” (in honor of Constitution’s adoption date) of interest on

    The entire headline reads:
    Clinton-Obama Spat provokes “1789 contribution campaign,” Alan Brody makes call to action after Clintons ignite a political brawl, reflecting on damage to Party and Country, and worrying over how another Clinton presidency might use extraordinary powers Bush has gathered in the White House. Brody calls for 1 million $17.89 donations to Obama (in honor of Constitution’s adoption date) to send a message to political attack dogs Republican and Democratic alike: “We want a new politics, and a President who will return to our Government civility, the rule the of law, and the integrity of our Constitution.”

    I hope your readers might join Alan Brody and myself in this campaign.

    Kind regards,
    Janet Riehl

  • Cindy

    Ben Stanfield is a political smear artist. Why is he on Obama’s Team

  • Ruth Calabria

    Conservatives Will Stop Obama.

    We’re Obama supporters, too! But we are sure they’ll find some way to stop him as Barack is against the war, a war the conservatives insist will go on. The way they stop him may be very very nasty. Read the details of what we think might happen on our website, down towards the last few paragraphs. If somebody can get our analysis to him, his strategists may be able to find a way around the conservatives’ death wish for him.

    Good luck to us all,
    Dr. and Mrs. Peter V. Calabria

  • sent

    Please America read Obama’s foreign policy vision and see whether you still think he is against war.

    While he supports an end to the Iraq invasion, he also supports an invasion of Iran for the same bankrupt reasons that got the US into Iraq. He states that “A strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace.” Sounds like the mantra of the current administration.

    Obama says he’s going to be tough on business when it comes to the environment. But his campaign outline explicitly states that he will ‘help automakers retool their factories’ – in other words he will be happy to let taxpayers pay for the auto industry to clean up their act.

    This isn’t an attack on Obama. All of the candidates have these sorts of contradictions when you look closer. But America has to stop believing the rhetoric of their leaders if they want real change.

  • Isabel

    Sorry, I don’t see anything new or interesting in that blog. However, I am pretty impressed with anyone that can actually understand what this guy is trying to say. His writing style has convinced me that he is a self-promoting narcissist. My friend told me I should read this and next time I will ask him that when he sends me pro-obama articles could he please make sure it is atleast well written; I have to endure enough mindless tripe at work (on things unrelated to politics).

    In the end, I think that’s one of the things that bothers me about Obama whenever his supporters want to talk about his issues all I hear is the same glowing babble with no real content in what they are saying. Except, “OH man, Obama is awesome!” People are just voting for a personality at this point and after seeing Jesse Ventura’s election in 98 I am completely against mindless promotion. You can attack me until you’re blue in the face for supporting Hillary but atleast I have a valid reason to support her and therefore you have something to attack.

  • Kenneth

    Okay, I have a question for you….since “global warming” is such a hot topic for the Dems, and with no deligates at stake in the Florida primary nor the Michigan primary, why didn’t the Democratic party, (Obama,Clinton, and Edwards) beg and plea with the Democratic voters to stay home, save fuel, keep the air clean, help save the planet?? Also, since we’re on the topic of global warming, with there being an estimated 10-12 million illegal immigrants in this country, (I’m sure that number is a lot higher), do you realize that is that many more automobiles poluting our air? And I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but the average illegal immigrant doesn’t drive a brand new Cadilac. Just food for thought. Go Obama! Power to the Muslim President. Power to amnesty. Power to same sex marriages! Power to higher taxes to pay for our “free” health care! Power to being voted the most liberal in Congress!

  • Travis

    Great entry! My name is Travis and I am a student at Stanford University. Because I believe Barack is the best candidate with the potential to revolutionize politics, I created a website – – so people like you can submit your favorite articles, videos and podcasts about Barack and vote on them. This site is extremely new (created Monday, February 13th) and is ready to gain momentum in spreading Barack’s message. With your help, this website can play an important role in helping Barack become the clear People’s Choice as the next President. Thank you and Yes We Can make a difference!!!

  • Kewagi

    As someone from outside the U.S., I have no say in this upcoming election, but since the United States play a very important role in world politics, the outcome of this race for presidency affects pretty much everyone around the globe. When I was a kid, my country was still under the impression of Allied occupation after WW2 – there was a strong pro-American sentiment all around, and during the cold war and the troubles that followed after the fall of the Iron Curtain, many here looked to America as a beacon of hope, liberty, sensibility and, first and foremost, freedom.

    After the Clinton administration, those feelings changed into disappointment, rejection and even pity, for the president your country had for the last years didn’t show any of the qualities we admired about America. Somehow, I’m even a bit grateful for him, because his politics taught us that, no, we won’t always have a smart big brother around, so we better get our shit together and turn this continent around. Nonetheless, concerns were voiced that the United States might fall into a dark age.

    With Barack Obama, for the first time in years I see a real possibility that this might be turned around, that America might be restored to the greatness it once had, and that your country, and the world, might actually become a better place in the following years and decades. He shows both a good heart and a great mind, characteristics rarely found in modern politics, if ever.

    So, please, when you go vote, think of all us strange foreigners around the globe who are rooting for you, and think of your country and where you want it to go.

    an old European

  • Ann California

    I don’t know why the news has not linked the Clintons with Rezko. If you go to / wiki / Antoin_Rezko you will see that it states he was one of Clinton’s contributors. When Hillary was asked about the picture of the Clinton’s arm and arm with Rezko she answered something to the affect,” I have taken so many pictures I don’t know who is who. I probably wouldn’t recognize him.” I’m sorry but either that was a cop out or a major SENIOR MOMENT. Then the discussion was dropped. That is a discussion that needs to go on as well as her TAXES. As a concerned democrat all I see her doing is prolonging the inevitable. She can’t win by delegates. Even if she wins all the rest of the states by 60/45 she still falls behind Obama in delegates. She is hurting our party more than helping. If anything she might as well be a Republican because she is doing all their work for them. We need to concentrate on one thing now and that is getting ready for McCain . McCain is out there getting ready while Hillary has her,”forget the party, it’s all about me, me, me” attitude. She’s wasting time and she knows it. If she continues this and let’s McCain gain his momentum then when we lose in November to McCain regardless if it is Hillary or Obama I will blame Hillary because of her lack of consideration to the party and the people. We need to devote all our focus on McCain now and if Hillary is for the people then she will rally with Obama and defeat McCain with all the Democratic might. Isn’t that the name of the game. Be a team player now Hillary. You know Barack agrees with alot of things you agree with so what are you doing to the party except harming it. Once again, if we lose in November because of your insistance to not bow out gracefully it will be YOUR FAULT. Don’t go out that way.

  • Cindy P

    For those Barack Obama supporters that would like to see John Edwards support the Obama campaign, here is the opportunity:

    John Edwards staff is taking the calls and tracking the voters choice~

    It is a quick 2 minute phone call, or a fax. When they answer the phone, you just advise them that you would like John Edwards to support Barack Obama and what state you are calling from. That is it…. make the quick call and pass the word~

    Phone: (919) 636-3131
    Fax: (919) 967-3644

    Hillary Clinton always seemed to be a great candidate also, but with the negative campaign tactics that we have seen these past few days, it shows her “politics as usual” style. DON’T WE WANT A CHANGE ????

  • Vista Drivers

    McCain is out there getting ready while Hillary has her,”forget the party, it’s all about me, me, me” attitude. She’s wasting time and she knows it. If she continues this and let’s McCain gain his momentum then when we lose in November to McCain regardless if it is Hillary or Obama I will blame Hillary because of her lack of consideration to the party and the people…

  • kenneth glover

    Booing in the crowd when Hillary endorced Obama tells me that America still has a very serious problem with race . And if you are racist and switch to Mccain because of the excuse that you don’t think Barrak is qualified and rather vote republican and keep our soldiers dying verses having a chance of ending this war, lowering these gas prices that the greedy Bush has imposed, you are a sad sad case.All i can do is pray for you because you are behind in time, essence, and spirit.

  • Grant

    Subject: Obama & McCain on taxes

    Here is why Obama is bad news and why he has no idea what he is talking about

    A few points to remember and consider: You
    > can verify the tax information at
    > if you’d like.
    > ELECTION.)
    > Time to consider your pocketbook:
    > MCCAIN:
    > 0% on home sales up to $500,000 per home
    > (couples). McCain does not propose any change in existing
    > home sales income tax.
    > OBAMA:
    > 28% on profit from ALL home sales
    > How does this affect you?
    > If you sell your home and make a profit, you
    > will pay 28% of your gain on taxes. If you are heading
    > toward retirement and would like to down-size your home or
    > move into a retirement community, 28% of the money you make
    > from your home will go to taxes. This proposal will
    > adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income
    > from their homes as part of their retirement income.
    > MCCAIN : 15% (no change)
    > OBAMA : 39.6%
    > How will this affect you?
    > If you have any money invested in stock
    > market, IRA, mutual funds, college funds, life insurance,
    > retirement accounts, or anything that pays or reinvests
    > dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of the money
    > earned on taxes if Obama becomes president. The experts
    > predict that ‘Higher tax rates on dividends and capital
    > gains would crash the stock market, yet do absolutely
    > nothing to cut the deficit.’
    > INCOME TAX (find your bracket)
    > MCCAIN (no changes)
    > Single making 30K – tax $4,500
    > Single making 50K – tax $12,500
    > Single making 75K – tax $18,750
    > Married making 60K- tax $9,000
    > Married making 75K – tax $18,750
    > Married making 125K – tax $31,250
    > OBAMA (reverse all tax cuts)
    > Single making 30K – tax $8,400
    > Single making 50K – tax $14,000
    > Single making 75K – tax $23,250
    > Married making 60K – tax $16,800
    > Married making 75K – tax $21,000
    > Married making 125K – tax $38,750
    > Under Obama, your taxes will more than
    > double!
    > How does this affect you? No explanation
    > needed. This is pretty straight
    > forward.
    > MCCAIN 0% (No change, Bush repealed
    > this tax)
    > OBAMA Restore the inheritance
    > tax
    > How does this affect you?
    > Many families have lost businesses, farms,
    > ranches, and homes that have been in their families for
    > generations because they could not afford the inheritance
    > tax. Those willing their assets to loved ones will only lose
    > them to these taxes.
    > New government taxes proposed on homes that
    > are more than 2400 square feet.
    > New gasoline taxes (as if gas weren’t
    > high enough already)
    > New taxes on natural resources consumption
    > (heating gas, water, electricity)
    > New taxes on retirement accounts, and last
    > but not least….
    > New taxes to pay for socialized medicine so
    > we can receive the same level of medical care as other
    > third-world countries!!!
    > Please spread the word. This will catch
    > a lot of families off guard.
    > In God we trust!

  • Crystal Reese

    McCain/Palin is the hope for a better America; they are the voice of change in Washington. They have the courage, wisdom and tenacity to follow thru with their promises. What of this hatred and racism that is supposedly coming from the Republican candidates? I have listened to speeches looked at websites and watched programs on TV. I have NEVER heard any of it myself from McCain or Palin. I agree with McCain in his stand on bipartisanism. It should really be more about who stands for what you believe is right and their ability to make things happen than what party they represent. When looking at the facts I do not understand how anyone could stand behind Obama and his ever wavering stances. He is not the type of candidate I would vote for due to his lack of character and strength. Even Biden doesn’t fully stand behind him. How is going to “change” Washington to the public serving office he suggests when the only thing that CHANGES his story every time he speaks to the crowd. I find it rather ironic how often it is overlooked. What truly scares me is that Obama could actually get voted into office. One thing can be for certain however. He is not the sincere man of character and strength that McCain is – Obama in office would be nothing more than a puppet on lobbyist strings. Sorry, Obama supports there goes your hope of “change”. But don’t worry there still time – educate yourself.

  • C

    Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar!!! Go Obama Go! And I have approved this message: A child of The King who has everything… Stay blessed Obama cause when the prayers go up, the blessings come down and they know this and that’s why the fear you. Be blessed, stay blessed and there you have it.