Comments on: the day after Blog, news, books Thu, 12 Oct 2017 08:56:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: Richard Sexton Tue, 26 Feb 2008 03:13:16 +0000 Don’t do it Larry. Hold out for Cyberattorney General.

By: Serg Tue, 26 Feb 2008 03:01:40 +0000 Prof, as a faithful customer of Creative Commons products and services, best wishes on your efforts to do whatever it is you want to do.

By: Jonathan Mon, 25 Feb 2008 20:36:40 +0000 Well, today’s the deadline to file. PLEASE RUN! This is perhaps the most democratic district in perhaps the most democratic state. For a government role as important as US Representative to go unchallenged in this district would be a travesty. This election should consist of a debate about the issues, not an anointment of the next in line. This is exactly the problem we have in politics. It’s all about who has the most name recognition / popularity / influence, instead of who has the best ideas or leadership or strengths. I was going to run, but I thought that you had to live in the district in order to run for the seat. I just found out yesterday that you don’t! And this morning I leave on a business trip, so no time to gather the signatures and file.

You should run, but not just because you have a Change Congress initiative, instead because this district deserves a debate about our government’s role in our lives and America’s role in the world. Without a race there will be no debate, no discussion, nothing, just a passing of the mantle to next in line, like in a dictatorship.

I met Jackie Speier one time. No offense, but she is not the right person to walk in the footsteps of Tom Lantos. That would be a step backwards in the strength of Congress.


By: Jean-Jacques Dubray Mon, 25 Feb 2008 06:08:38 +0000 Prof. Lessig:

I take issue when you make this statement: “Let politics for once be a battle about something other than “character.” Let it be a battle about ideas, and which ideas matter.” (which every one should rally too of course) and you make a video like this one.

In this video, Prof. Lessig, you have censored the legitimate debate that should happen between candidates. You not only recommended strongly using “character” and “judgment” over ideas and facts. You also recommended to “trust you” based on your knowledge of “technology policies” (that’s it?). You recommended to follow the NY times who said… [whatever]. Are you just a politician? who can say face up anything and its opposite within days?

What is worse, Prof. Lessig, is that you are hi-jacking new technologies to create a “flash democracy”. Never in history have we had tools such as the Web and collaborative Web 2.0 tools to bring “we, the people’ and the people we elect together. Do you think that keywords and animation should prevail about ideas and discussions? You are inovating by creating a new movement: “popularism” even worse than “populism”.

Don’t you think that by hi-jacking these tools you are right off the bat killing the best -and only- thing that could impact lobbying? don’t you think that Web 2.0 is cheap? don’t you think that politicians would not need millions of dollars to be elected or reelected if we would level the field on the Web? i.e. if the Web was used, not as a propaganda media, but as a tool to make ideas and issue surface the mud?

I am very discouraged by your discourse, it simply does not fit your achievements or the ideas (and ideal) that you say you represent. It creates a precedent: the Web is a tool that brings people together not a debilitating media. Which side are you on?

Sincerely yours,

Jean-Jacques Dubray

By: 12th CD resident Sun, 24 Feb 2008 21:35:37 +0000 Building on Swivelchair’s comments above re: need for transparency in campaigns…

I actually live in the 12th congressional district and I don’t want to be represented by someone who wants to get elected only to promulgate his “agenda” (no matter how well intentioned) but I want to be represented by someone who will listen to, respond and take leadership on a myriad of community concerns.

I see many comments above from folks who support your “agenda,” but few from residents of the 12th congressional district. If the facts were made available, I’ll bet that 99% of your campaign contributions come from people outside the district. I’m not happy about the concept of people outside my district buying a seat in Congress so that their “agenda” can be advanced (is this much different – ethically – from PACs “buying” influence?).

If I’m wrong and you have strong support and contributions from inside the 12th CD, please prove me wrong by publishing the data (the ActBlue website states that detailed donor info is available to the candidate). Transparency?

By: Swivelchair Sun, 24 Feb 2008 01:30:58 +0000 Prof, as a faithful customer of Creative Commons products and services, best wishes on your efforts to do whatever it is you want to do.

Two points:

1. Corporate money is not bad. But — more transparency is needed. I disagree with removing bias from politics, I think it is a necessity. Let the voter’s vote for the person who their employer has paid for if it will let them keep their job. The trouble comes with lack of transparency. Fix that.

2. Legislating is a tough way to change behavior. The Executive branch can torpedo all good legislative intentions by agency back-room dealings. Agencies are where most of the lobbyists live and work. I won’t even get started about judicial review of Agency determinations.

3. OK, three points, but this one covers the other two: transparency, transparency, transparency. If you have credible, transparent, legitimate judicial, legislative and executive, then the world’s businesses will come here — rather than staying in their home country where they cook the books (see, e.g., India), execute agency heads who are corrupt (see, e.g., China) and have state take overs to prevent private parties from getting too powerful (see, e.g., Russia).

Prof – I’m biased toward you running for office, maybe just for sport — it sort of reminds me of professional wrestling, where there are two wrestlers in the ring, and the third one comes in and grabs the hair of the other two and smacks their heads together.

What a show — good luck!

By: A fan, but not convinced Sat, 23 Feb 2008 23:48:00 +0000 I’m definitely a big Prof. Lessig fan, but I’m not convinced this is the way to go.

I agree with Marilyn. If this would be a candidacy about the mis-use of money in politics (haven’t watched the video, but that’s what I gather from reading this entry), why spend so much money on a fight that will, in the end, be about a choice between two very similar candidates for 1 vote out of 435. To me it seems like something of a waste when there are so many serious problems and not enough money to fix them.

I’d also like to see more women in Congress, not fewer, and it’s hard enough to get them there – and to convince folks that they’ve done enough, that they’re experienced enough and competent enough. Jackie could win and she’d do a great job, and maybe someday she could move up to higher office where women are so seriously underrepresented — we need more women like Jackie in the pipeline.

I’m also not sure I agree with the premise that all PAC money is the same. Corporations are motivated exclusively by profit — and often, to me, seem to be motivated most by profit for a few execs. But something like a union PAC is different. It is essentially a giant aggregator of small donations from middle-class and lower-middle-class working people through an organization whose elected leadership is accountable to those people in regular local and national elections in a process that seems to me much more effective than shareholder control over corporate execs (especially in light of recent opinions that pension directors who advocate for socially responsible sh resolutions may be violating their fiduciary duties). I also think that at least in the case of Dems (the folks I care about) donations from corporate PACs are more likely to encourage a Dem to take a policy position s/he might not otherwise have taken if left to his/her own progressive whims, while a progressive Dem would probably support most (if not all) union initiatives to benefit working people even if s/he didn’t also receive union money.

I haven’t thought these issues through well enough to have a fully formed opinion, but I think I would probably be in favor of significant legislative reform of the electoral process that would affect both parties and go far toward taking the money out of politics on both sides. But as long as the current system remains in effect, what I care about most is getting progressive Dems in office so that they can change things for the better. And I’m not convinced that urging Dems to give up lobbyist / PAC money unilaterally is the right way to go, or that all PAC money is equal.

By: SF Maven Sat, 23 Feb 2008 22:48:46 +0000 Hello Professor Lessig: Congrats on the rapid fund-raising for your possible run for the U.S. Congress. In line with your views on campaign finance reform and candidacy transparency, I would suggest that you post (in real time or at least several times daily) detailed (de-identified of course!) information on your contributors thus far – especially zip code data. (easily available to you through ActBlue).

While I don’t doubt you could raise enough money to create name ID and make a credible run, I’m guessing (now this is a total guess here) that 95% of the funds raised so far come from outside the district.

If this is substantially true… accepting a significant amount of campaign funding from outside the district would create the impression that outsiders are attempting to run the congressional district not unlike PACs running Congress – and that in and of itself would become an enormous campaign issue.

At the very least, having you post the contributor zip code data now will help by having you bring the issue forward on your own rather than have your opponent lock onto it as her issue. I look forward to your campaign transparency by seeing the data posted.

By: john in california (milpitas) Sat, 23 Feb 2008 05:01:08 +0000 I watched both your interview and lecture and, as an engineer, agree totally with your premise that intellectual property protection has become a corporate protection racket. As much as the law is a problem, so is the patent review process and the lack of knowledgable people in the patent office, so I am predisposed to encourage you to run, however I have also watched Ms. Spier over the years and think she is the most able, honest legislator we have had in California. I think you would accomplish more by making common cause with her in removing corporate money from campaigns and fixing copyright and patent laws. (Personally, I wish she were running for Governor as we need someone with her integrity in Sacremento.) Thanks for creating CC, I hope it has great success.

By: Marilyn Alves Fri, 22 Feb 2008 10:32:03 +0000 I appreciate Larry’s ideas, energy and willingness to take on important issues, but I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of dollars ($ millions?) that he’d spend taking on an effective progressive like Jackie Speier in a primary could be better spent to great effect through his Change Congress initiative.

Jackie Speier not only has progressive ideas, but the experience and perseverance to see these ideas through to success. As State Senator for my district, I watched her introduce Privacy Legislation for FOUR YEARS in a row — fighting the banking, insurance and credit card industries all the way — until she finally had the best consumer Privacy protections in the nation. Please don’t give up your fight, Larry, but please use your talents where we most need them –

By: Phil Fri, 22 Feb 2008 06:45:58 +0000 I’ll keep my comment short, though the meaning should ring clear:

If California has an issue with you running, please feel free to come to Texas.

By: MrX Fri, 22 Feb 2008 03:00:50 +0000 I wholeheartedly agree with you here. I hope you can win and actually change this rotten system we have. I would like to hear what you have to say about whether it is easier/better to change things from the inside or not. You may have to actually win and be in office a while in order to answer that question, but it is an important question to answer for the rest of us. I find this question is similar to a question I have about everyday life…Should I work and try to get rich and THEN help people with the money I made, or should I just try to help people now and therefore will probably stay poor while doing that since helping others isn’t very well valued in the economy? For example, is it better to get rich (possibly working in something that hurts people like for-profit health insurance or the military industrial complex) and one day pay for a new hospital (maybe if I actually get rich), or just volunteer at a hospital daily?

By: staypuftman Fri, 22 Feb 2008 01:41:03 +0000 DO IT!!! You crash on my couch while you are looking for a place in town here. Don’t live in Georgetown…please.

By: Grant Henninger Fri, 22 Feb 2008 00:37:19 +0000 Professor,

I fully support the ideas behind Change Congress. However, I think by targeting it at “progressives” you are handicapping the entire progressive movement. By ensuring that only one side of the aisle will ever by into this (simply by labeling it a liberal movement), you give the other side a distinct advantage in raising funds. More broadly, this is the primary challenge behind this movement, how do you ensure that candidates who take the Change Congress Pledge are still able to raise the money needed to defeat candidates who do not take the pledge?

Undoubtedly you will be able to raise the same amounts of money that Jackie Speier if you choose to run, you are an internet rock star. But will the common man, your average politician, be able to do the same in other races? It’s something to think about and a problem to overcome.

By: Sean Robertson Thu, 21 Feb 2008 22:48:43 +0000 Larry, I agree with everything you’ve said. I also think we really need more technology-minded progressives in office. We need more of the kinds of people who will do things along the lines of Obama’s bill that created (which even has an API available).

By: Tony Leach Thu, 21 Feb 2008 21:55:41 +0000 Larry -

I’m glad you’ve decided to run. Congress needs the kind of challenge that you are ready to deliver.

In Northern California, our politics will almost always be about two progressive candidates. Honest and open conversations should be held every election cycle, and like you say, “Let it be a battle about ideas, and which ideas matter.”

Good luck – and I look forward to helping with your campaign however I can.

Tony Leach

By: TLB Thu, 21 Feb 2008 21:37:41 +0000 I’ve already discussed a very cheap, very quick, and very effective way Lessig could fight corruption. It wouldn’t involve campaigning, raising money, or anything like that. Simply go to campaign events and videotape the answers to difficult questions and then upload the responses:

Doing that would go a very long way towards cleaning up both politics and the media. Politicians would feel less willing to lie and mislead and would actually think their policies through. And, the MSM would feel pressured to ask real questions for a change.

Unfortunately, not too many people seem willing to get responses on video, but once a few do it and start getting a lot of hits it will probably become something of a trend.

Here’s one recent example:

Now, imagine if she’d asked this better question:

By: Jeff Thu, 21 Feb 2008 20:34:22 +0000 Larry, go for it. Consider some of the bigger effects this could have, even if you aren’t competitive. It could give some national attention to the ideas you promote. This has already been discussed on and Keep going, this is good. This is how movements begin. You lose, run again for something different. Each time you do, more of the model is laid out for the rest of us. You’ll start to see more people who wouldn’t normally get involved, jumping in based on ideas like your “pledge.” By documenting what you are doing, even if it ultimately fails in election this time, it could ultimately succeed in promoting the idea and giving a roadmap to people like me, somebody who is looking to change what they see as corrupt in government, by participating in a non-corrupt way. Roll up you sleeves and get in there.

-Jeff Coburn

By: Andrew Katz Thu, 21 Feb 2008 16:22:41 +0000 I’m not a US voter, so my perspective on this is: even if Larry makes not one iota of difference and fails utterly to influence any legislation or policy while in Congress, he will have been embedded in the legislative process in a unique way, and, as a result of that experience I am sure will be much more effective in marshalling his fact base and presenting appropriate arguements, and I hope, effective suggestions for reform.

He’s set out what his 10 year plan is, and asked for guidance as to how best to understand the issues surrounding economic influence and corruption, with a view, we hope to developing some possible solutions.

Many us have suggested (through his Wiki) relevant books for Larry to read, and possible avenues of research to pursue: but surely becoming a Congressman for a term (or longer) really is the most effective way, not only for Larry to find out about the system from within, but also to counter the inevitable argument which will arise after positing any possible solution..”ahh, that’s all very well in theory, but you see, politics and power don’t work like that in practice”.

As a Brit, influencing US legislation is of peripheral interest to me: what I’m much more interested in is Larry generating ideas which can be applied to our own problems here in the UK and, even more pressingly, the EU.

A Larry who’s had experience from within is, in my view, likely to generate more and better ideas than a Larry who hasn’t. So I say go for it!

By: Tom Poe Thu, 21 Feb 2008 12:42:51 +0000 Can we talk about funding? I’d like to see you run, and offer supporters an opportunity to contribute to your campaign in the following way:
Purchase one Meraki unit for $50, in return for sending in a $51 contribution. You get one dollar ($1), and the contributor gets a Meraki unit. If they live outside your immediate area, they have to include shipping and handling. When they receive the Meraki unit, they will act as a node on the Lessig “branded” network. As the network fills in, and people can “see” each other, they can participate in town hall meetings. Your up front cost to establish your community wireless mesh network for your constituents is a single $50 purchase of one Meraki unit. From that point on, the network pays as it goes.The network won’t require internet access, as it’s used for your work when elected. Democracy rules in such a world. :)

After you’re elected, you can use your office to expand the network to include decentralized broadband infrastructure leverage to negotiate reasonable wholesale pricing for Internet access for the network. I am trying to convince one of my elected representatives to champion such a broadband infrastructure where I live. It is a difficult sale, as Qwest is not happy about it.

By: Ryan Sandridge Thu, 21 Feb 2008 10:56:07 +0000 Larry, you are inspiring. I never heard of you before today, and I’ve spent more time than I had available soaking up all I could about you. I’m 36 and while I’ve voted in every election over the 18 years I’ve been eligible, I’ve never once felt compelled to contribute a single dollar to a candidate’s campaign, until today when I put my credit card info on that ActBlue site to support you (and I live in Virginia, so you won’t even come close to representing me).

The very reason I’m willing to contribute to your campaign, is the same reason the first commenter (Tim Myers) says he doesn’t think you should run. It is because you are not a typical political candidate. Further still, you are more level headed than the few alternatives we’ve had in the past to the typical political candidate. Tim is right that you may not like the world that you are considering entering; but your aim is to change that world. You know more about what the framers of our constitution intended than I do, but it is my perception that they did not intend to have career politicians, but rather more of a “tour of duty” by those successful and intelligent leaders from various disciplines. So while Tim’s point may be valid, I’d rather see you go do your “tour of duty”, and for once finally see some ethics restored to our government.

Do it. Make a difference. I’m sure you’ll always have a post in academia to return to when your tour is over.

By: Brian Schmidt Thu, 21 Feb 2008 09:56:45 +0000 Larry’s post sounds reasonable to me.

Here’s my question: would you encourage Speier to co-opt your position? Would you say to her, “if you take the following stances, I don’t see a great need to run for the position myself”?

By: miles archer Thu, 21 Feb 2008 09:02:54 +0000 I’m not in this district, though I am a N California voter. I don’t know what the fuss is about progressives., To me, it means liberals who have completely lost all rational thought (based on watching the so called progressives while in college at Cal)

Anyway, while I’m not in your district and usually vote libertarian, I would most likely vote for you if I had the chance. You are on the record showing common sense on a number of issues. I can’t say that about many other potential office seekers.

Good luck!

By: Gabe Wachob Thu, 21 Feb 2008 07:44:43 +0000 I completely agree that Jackie doesn’t “deserve it” in the sense that she’s owed the position.

I’m yet to hear, however, exactly how a campaign in the next 6 weeks is going to advance the change-congress agenda, especially since the Lessig name is largely unheard of outside the techie community.

Can someone spell it out for me? I like the idea of a real Lessig campaign (even if its very unlikely to succeed), but there’s only 6 weeks and thats practically tomorrow… what can be achieved?

By: Morgna Snap Thu, 21 Feb 2008 07:14:46 +0000 We need more and better progressives in Congress. For your own sake, consider well Tim’s words. For our sake, ignore him, please!

I take issue with “progressive is the PC word for ‘liberal’,” though. A progressive is committed to advancement, to progress. A liberal might just sit there getting nothing done, but holding good thoughts.