Lessig » ChangeCongress http://www.lessig.org Blog, news, books Sat, 12 Nov 2016 16:31:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.2 GSC: Senator Ben Nelson is angry (second in a series) http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/gsc-senator-ben-nelson-is-angr/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/gsc-senator-ben-nelson-is-angr/#comments Thu, 28 May 2009 20:38:40 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/gsc_senator_ben_nelson_is_angr.html Change Congress launched its second "good souls corruption" attack today, this time against Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. (Two Dems in a row; we'll be more balanced next time.) The attack has excited an hysterical response from the Senator's office. Read about the charge (here) and the response (below), and then please sign our petition to Senator Nelson. At the beginning of May, Senator Nelson was reported to have said that including a "public option" (giving Americans a choice to opt into a public system) in a national health care proposal was a "deal breaker," and that he would "form a coalition of like-minded centrists opposed to the creation of a public plan, as a counterweight to Democrats pushing for it." On May 7, our friends at Public Campaign produced a report that showed that Senator Nelson has received more than "$2 million from insurance and health care interests in his three campaigns for federal office." These two facts together expose Senator Nelson to the charge of "Good Souls corruption" -- legal, even ethical acts that reasonably lead the public to wonder whether it is the merits or the money that is driving this Senator's decision. Senator Nelson responded immediately to the attack by issuing the following press release. [Bracketed annotations are courtesy of me, not the Senator's staff.]
Ben_Nelson.jpg

NELSON: NEBRASKANS BEWARE OF MISLEADING FUNDRAISING GIMMICK

May 28, 2009 - The office of Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson today warned Nebraskans not to fall for a misleading fundraising gimmick by a special interest group called Change Congress. The group has issued a press release concerning Senator Nelson and said it was sending mailers to Nebraskans. Senator Nelson's spokesman Jake Thompson issued this statement:
"There's no doubt Senator Nelson understands the insurance industry's important role providing health care for millions of Americans. After all, he's been an insurance executive [The ever effective, "I'm a former insurance exec!" defense], an insurance industry regulator, a governor who created a children's health insurance program, and today he represents Nebraska, arguably the insurance capital of the world. [And no doubt the insurance industry fundraising capital of the world.] But let's look at this group closely. They claim, 'Ben Nelson said he may not support Obama's plan.' Can they send us a copy of the plan? [Maybe not, but we can certainly send you again to the report indicating he opposed a key element of the President's plan] No, because President Obama hasn't offered a specific plan yet. Next, they ask if people are ready to change Congress and 'take on special interests' and 'only donate to politicians who prove they are willing to do that.' Then, they promote an election law proposal they're lobbying for. So, let's get this straight: These people are endorsing something they haven't seen [No idea what this means: We're endorsing a bill introduced by Senators Durbin and Specter. We've seen this bill.], criticizing Senator Nelson for something he hasn't done [Interesting. Where is the press release denying the reports from the beginning of May?] and using health care as a fundraising gimmick [A "fundraising gimmick"? If he means we're fundraising around this issue, that's false. If he means our strike is a "gimmick," then what's he so upset about?] --to lobby for unrelated special interest legislation. ["UNRELATED"!?!! Are you kidding me? One can define corruption as unrelated to the objects corrupted, but that doesn't make it so.] These people have a political agenda that has nothing remotely [We have an agenda. It is to create a Congress where legislation is on the merits -- not, as it is today, guided by the implicit threat of large campaign contributors.] to do with helping Nebraskans get and keep affordable, high quality health care. Their effort is silly, sad and sophomoric. [Unlike this sort of name calling.] Nebraskans are far too smart to fall for just another special interest group grabbing a hot issue and misrepresenting both the president [Um, where did we misrepresent the President?] and Senator Nelson [And where was Senator Nelson's letter to Ryan Grimm complaining he had misrepresented him -- before we raised this issue?] to raise money to lobby Congress [And where is our effort to raise money to lobby Congress -- we've asked people to STOP giving money to Congress.]"
Here are some facts about Senator Nelson and health care:
  1. During his presidential campaign and recently President Obama has said Americans who like their private insurance will get to keep it, or have the option to join another plan.
  2. Ben Nelson agrees and he's eager to see more details from the president, and he wants to make sure that the 85 percent of Nebraskans who have insurance today will continue to have the option of staying with their existing plans.
  3. Senator Nelson believes that all Americans should receive health insurance and agrees with President Obama that those who currently have health insurance should be assured that it won't be taken away from them.
  4. Senator Nelson is spending much of the congressional break in Nebraska this week meeting with Nebraskans, listening to them discuss health care and reform ideas. He's listening to patients, providers, employers and others. He looks forward to hearing from many more Nebraskans on ways to strengthen, broaden and provide stability in America's health care system."
  5. [But please notice, Senator Nelson has not indicated that he supports a central idea in Obama's plan -- that Nebraskans will also have the freedom to choose a public option if (and imagine this) the private options are too costly.]
As I said, this is only the second in a series. (The first was Representative Conyers.) We will continue to call out members of both parties -- and again, I promise, a Republican is coming soon -- who make it too easy for Americans to believe (as 88% in my district believe) that money buys results in Congress. Congress could change this problem tomorrow -- by enacting the Trustworthy Government Now Act (aka, the "Fair Elections Now Act"). And of course Members can avoid the charge of "good souls corruption" by co-sponsoring that bill now. But meanwhile, we'll be working hard to make more enemies, by making the status quo very uncomfortable. Nice was for the 90s. CHANGE was the promise for today. Tell Ben Nelson to (be)come clean. Join our Donor Strike -- promising not to support any candidate who doesn't co-sponsor the Trustworthy Government Now Act. And finally, celebrate this good news just in: Senator Nelson now indicates that he has changed his view, and is now "open" to the public option. Bravo, Senator. Now about the system of funding that makes people wonder? ]]>
Change Congress launched its second “good souls corruptionattack today, this time against Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. (Two Dems in a row; we’ll be more balanced next time.) The attack has excited an hysterical response from the Senator’s office. Read about the charge (here) and the response (below), and then please sign our petition to Senator Nelson.

At the beginning of May, Senator Nelson was reported to have said that including a “public option” (giving Americans a choice to opt into a public system) in a national health care proposal was a “deal breaker,” and that he would “form a coalition of like-minded centrists opposed to the creation of a public plan, as a counterweight to Democrats pushing for it.”

On May 7, our friends at Public Campaign produced a report that showed that Senator Nelson has received more than “$2 million from insurance and health care interests in his three campaigns for federal office.”

These two facts together expose Senator Nelson to the charge of “Good Souls corruption” — legal, even ethical acts that reasonably lead the public to wonder whether it is the merits or the money that is driving this Senator’s decision.

Senator Nelson responded immediately to the attack by issuing the following press release. [Bracketed annotations are courtesy of me, not the Senator's staff.]

Ben_Nelson.jpg

NELSON: NEBRASKANS BEWARE OF MISLEADING FUNDRAISING GIMMICK


May 28, 2009 – The office of Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson today warned Nebraskans not to fall for a misleading fundraising gimmick by a special interest group called Change Congress. The group has issued a press release concerning Senator Nelson and said it was sending mailers to Nebraskans.

Senator Nelson’s spokesman Jake Thompson issued this statement:

“There’s no doubt Senator Nelson understands the insurance industry’s important role providing health care for millions of Americans. After all, he’s been an insurance executive [The ever effective, "I'm a former insurance exec!" defense], an insurance industry regulator, a governor who created a children’s health insurance program, and today he represents Nebraska, arguably the insurance capital of the world. [And no doubt the insurance industry fundraising capital of the world.]

But let’s look at this group closely. They claim, ‘Ben Nelson said he may not support Obama’s plan.’ Can they send us a copy of the plan? [Maybe not, but we can certainly send you again to the report indicating he opposed a key element of the President's plan] No, because President Obama hasn’t offered a specific plan yet. Next, they ask if people are ready to change Congress and ‘take on special interests’ and ‘only donate to politicians who prove they are willing to do that.’ Then, they promote an election law proposal they’re lobbying for.

So, let’s get this straight: These people are endorsing something they haven’t seen [No idea what this means: We're endorsing a bill introduced by Senators Durbin and Specter. We've seen this bill.], criticizing Senator Nelson for something he hasn’t done [Interesting. Where is the press release denying the reports from the beginning of May?] and using health care as a fundraising gimmick [A "fundraising gimmick"? If he means we're fundraising around this issue, that's false. If he means our strike is a "gimmick," then what's he so upset about?] –to lobby for unrelated special interest legislation. ["UNRELATED"!?!! Are you kidding me? One can define corruption as unrelated to the objects corrupted, but that doesn't make it so.] These people have a political agenda that has nothing remotely [We have an agenda. It is to create a Congress where legislation is on the merits -- not, as it is today, guided by the implicit threat of large campaign contributors.] to do with helping Nebraskans get and keep affordable, high quality health care. Their effort is silly, sad and sophomoric. [Unlike this sort of name calling.]

Nebraskans are far too smart to fall for just another special interest group grabbing a hot issue and misrepresenting both the president [Um, where did we misrepresent the President?] and Senator Nelson [And where was Senator Nelson's letter to Ryan Grimm complaining he had misrepresented him -- before we raised this issue?] to raise money to lobby Congress [And where is our effort to raise money to lobby Congress -- we've asked people to STOP giving money to Congress.]

Here are some facts about Senator Nelson and health care:

  1. During his presidential campaign and recently President Obama has said Americans who like their private insurance will get to keep it, or have the option to join another plan.
  2. Ben Nelson agrees and he’s eager to see more details from the president, and he wants to make sure that the 85 percent of Nebraskans who have insurance today will continue to have the option of staying with their existing plans.
  3. Senator Nelson believes that all Americans should receive health insurance and agrees with President Obama that those who currently have health insurance should be assured that it won’t be taken away from them.
  4. Senator Nelson is spending much of the congressional break in Nebraska this week meeting with Nebraskans, listening to them discuss health care and reform ideas. He’s listening to patients, providers, employers and others. He looks forward to hearing from many more Nebraskans on ways to strengthen, broaden and provide stability in America’s health care system.”
  5. [But please notice, Senator Nelson has not indicated that he supports a central idea in Obama's plan -- that Nebraskans will also have the freedom to choose a public option if (and imagine this) the private options are too costly.]

As I said, this is only the second in a series. (The first was Representative Conyers.) We will continue to call out members of both parties — and again, I promise, a Republican is coming soon — who make it too easy for Americans to believe (as 88% in my district believe) that money buys results in Congress.

Congress could change this problem tomorrow — by enacting the Trustworthy Government Now Act (aka, the “Fair Elections Now Act”). And of course Members can avoid the charge of “good souls corruption” by co-sponsoring that bill now.

But meanwhile, we’ll be working hard to make more enemies, by making the status quo very uncomfortable. Nice was for the 90s. CHANGE was the promise for today.

Tell Ben Nelson to (be)come clean.

Join our Donor Strike — promising not to support any candidate who doesn’t co-sponsor the Trustworthy Government Now Act.

And finally, celebrate this good news just in: Senator Nelson now indicates that he has changed his view, and is now “open” to the public option.

Bravo, Senator. Now about the system of funding that makes people wonder?

]]>
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a list of honor http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/a-list-of-honor/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/a-list-of-honor/#comments Wed, 06 May 2009 11:56:28 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/a_list_of_honor.html signed a letter demanding the existing system be scrapped, and that citizen funded elections replace it. Bravo. Reform begins at home.
Naomi Aberly Grant Abert Elaine Attias Amb. Elizabeth Bagley Smith Bagley Robert Bowditch William Budinger James Kimo Campbell Peter Copen Rosemary Faulkner Ron Feldman Christopher Findlater Murray Galinson James Gollin Lee Halprin Francis W. Hatch Arnold Hiatt John Hunting Greg Jobin-Leeds John S. Johnson Wayne Jordan Craig Kaplan Michael Kieschnick Steve Kirsch Arthur D. Lipson Henry Lord Anna Hawken McKay Rob McKay Sally Minard Alan Patricof Susan Patricof Doug Phelps Steve Phillips Drummond Pike Rachel Pritzker Abby Rockefeller Charles Rodgers Marsha Rosenbaum Manny Rouvelas Vin Ryan Deborah Sagner Guy T. Saperstein Dick Senn Steve Silberstein Alison Smith William Soskin Martin Stevenson Pat Stryker Ellen Susman Steve Susman Margery Tabankin Kate Villers Philippe Villers Scott Wallace George Wallerstein Marc Weiss Al Yates Joe Zimlich
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In my work to push citizen funded elections (the hybrid between public funding (which is citizen funds) and small-donor contributions (citizen funding)), I have been astonished and deeply depressed by the number of very rich souls who in theory should support this change, but who resist it because, as I sense, they don’t want to give up their own access to power.

These large Democratic Party contributors are different. They all signed a letter demanding the existing system be scrapped, and that citizen funded elections replace it.

Bravo. Reform begins at home.

Naomi Aberly
Grant Abert
Elaine Attias
Amb. Elizabeth Bagley
Smith Bagley
Robert Bowditch
William Budinger
James Kimo Campbell
Peter Copen
Rosemary Faulkner
Ron Feldman
Christopher Findlater
Murray Galinson
James Gollin
Lee Halprin
Francis W. Hatch
Arnold Hiatt
John Hunting
Greg Jobin-Leeds
John S. Johnson
Wayne Jordan
Craig Kaplan
Michael Kieschnick
Steve Kirsch
Arthur D. Lipson
Henry Lord
Anna Hawken McKay
Rob McKay
Sally Minard
Alan Patricof
Susan Patricof
Doug Phelps
Steve Phillips
Drummond Pike
Rachel Pritzker
Abby Rockefeller
Charles Rodgers
Marsha Rosenbaum
Manny Rouvelas
Vin Ryan
Deborah Sagner
Guy T. Saperstein
Dick Senn
Steve Silberstein
Alison Smith
William Soskin
Martin Stevenson
Pat Stryker
Ellen Susman
Steve Susman
Margery Tabankin
Kate Villers
Philippe Villers
Scott Wallace
George Wallerstein
Marc Weiss
Al Yates
Joe Zimlich

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the brilliance of Colbert; the corruption of Congress http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/the-brilliance-of-colbert-the/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/the-brilliance-of-colbert-the/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2009 13:47:28 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/04/the_brilliance_of_colbert_the.html A brilliant piece about the absurdity of payday-loan-gate. More good soul corruption destroying the way Congress works. Yet another reason to JUST SAY NO to any candidate for Congress who doesn't commit to citizen funded elections: Join our strike. ]]>

A brilliant piece about the absurdity of payday-loan-gate. More good soul corruption destroying the way Congress works. Yet another reason to JUST SAY NO to any candidate for Congress who doesn’t commit to citizen funded elections: Join our strike.

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my vote for a webby: opensecrets.org http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/my-vote-for-a-webby-opensecret/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/my-vote-for-a-webby-opensecret/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2009 18:14:15 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/04/my_vote_for_a_webby_opensecret.html
os_logo.jpg
The amazing folks at the Center for Responsive Politics' opensecrets.org have released (under a Creative Commons license) 200 million records to help the world understand how influence in Washington works. This is enormously good news. Even better is that today they were nominated for a Webby. Here's where you can vote to thank them in the best possible way. ]]>
os_logo.jpg

The amazing folks at the Center for Responsive Politicsopensecrets.org have released (under a Creative Commons license) 200 million records to help the world understand how influence in Washington works. This is enormously good news.

Even better is that today they were nominated for a Webby. Here’s where you can vote to thank them in the best possible way.

]]>
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Just Say No (in a simple link) http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/just-say-no-in-a-simple-link/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/just-say-no-in-a-simple-link/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2009 12:35:55 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/04/just_say_no_in_a_simple_link.html Change Congress (no money to any representative who doesn't commit to citizen funded elections). Here's a simple (and it's FREE!) link to send back to anyone asking you for money: http://change-congress/no Share freely. ]]> The donor strike continues at Change Congress (no money to any representative who doesn’t commit to citizen funded elections).

Here’s a simple (and it’s FREE!) link to send back to anyone asking you for money:

http://change-congress/no

Share freely.

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CC @ 100m; C-C @ $1.1m & 1 year http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/cc-100m-c-c-11m-1-year/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/cc-100m-c-c-11m-1-year/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2009 00:00:25 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/cc_100m_c-c_11m_1_year.html Creative Commons just passed 100,000,000 photos on Flickr. Change Congress just passed $1,100,000 withheld from candidates in our strike4change campaign. And a year ago, we launched Change Congress at an event hosted by the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, DC. Celebrate CC by buying one of Joi's limited edition "FreeSouls" books. Celebrate C-C by joining our strike. Or even better, by donating all the money in the world (b/c that's what this campaign stands against).]]> So Creative Commons just passed 100,000,000 photos on Flickr.

Change Congress just passed $1,100,000 withheld from candidates in our strike4change campaign.

And a year ago, we launched Change Congress at an event hosted by the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, DC.

Celebrate CC by buying one of Joi’s limited edition “FreeSouls” books.

Celebrate C-C by joining our strike. Or even better, by donating all the money in the world (b/c that’s what this campaign stands against).

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And again: the point: DEFINE: “Good Soul Corruption” http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/and-again-the-point-define-goo/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/and-again-the-point-define-goo/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2009 12:53:29 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/and_again_the_point_define_goo.html Ed Brayton. Ed says:
Lessig is arguing that that the bill is bad policy and that Conyers is being paid off by the publishing industry to get the measure passed.
No. No. And again, Ed, no. To be "paid off by the publishing industry" is a crime. It's called bribery. To be given a campaign contribution in exchange for introducing or passing legislation is also a crime. Any quid-pro-quo for legislative action is banned six ways to Sunday. But as I said and said and said, I am not accusing anyone of any crime. I'm not even accusing anyone of anything unethical. My charge is that by (a) introducing legislation that has no good public policy justification behind it and which (b) does not benefit your own constituents while (c) being disproportionately supported in financial contributions by the single industry that would benefit from the legislation, you invite the charge (as 88% of citizens in my district believe) that "money buys results in Congress." WHETHER OR NOT "money bought" this result, you have committed this wrong. The wrong is the relationship, and the suggestion the relationship begs. It is not -- and again, NOT -- that the person accused is "being paid off" by anyone. I make this point over and over again in the (now close to 1 billion) talks I've given about "corruption." They're collected at lessig.blip.tv. I understand how it is rational for no one (or very few) to spend the 20 to 60 minute necessary to watch those talks completely. But here's a four minute clip about another popular Democrat. Watch this, and maybe the idea of "good soul corruption" will become clearer.
What could a "good soul" do to avoid the charge of being "good soul corrupt"? Well, the simplest is to make sure the that the only time you introduce legislation that 33 Nobel Prize winning scientists believe would harm science (or the equivalent), it plainly benefits your constituents. A bit more difficult, but certainly appropriate: As a chairman of a committee, refuse to solicit or accept contributions from the interests your committee regulates. And most important, and ultimately: pass legislation that provides for "citizen-funded elections" -- so that when you support legislation with no good public purpose behind it, no one could believe it was because of the money. And what could a good soul citizen do to end good soul corruption? Join our donor strike -- strike4change.com -- and thereby refuse to support any federal politician who doesn't support this plainly corrupt system. ]]>
More people I admire missing the point (for which, as I’ve said again and again, I’m happy to take responsibility but which, again and again, begs clarification): this time, Ed Brayton.

Ed says:

Lessig is arguing that that the bill is bad policy and that Conyers is being paid off by the publishing industry to get the measure passed.

No. No. And again, Ed, no. To be “paid off by the publishing industry” is a crime. It’s called bribery. To be given a campaign contribution in exchange for introducing or passing legislation is also a crime. Any quid-pro-quo for legislative action is banned six ways to Sunday.

But as I said and said and said, I am not accusing anyone of any crime. I’m not even accusing anyone of anything unethical. My charge is that by (a) introducing legislation that has no good public policy justification behind it and which (b) does not benefit your own constituents while (c) being disproportionately supported in financial contributions by the single industry that would benefit from the legislation, you invite the charge (as 88% of citizens in my district believe) that “money buys results in Congress.” WHETHER OR NOT “money bought” this result, you have committed this wrong. The wrong is the relationship, and the suggestion the relationship begs. It is not — and again, NOT — that the person accused is “being paid off” by anyone.

I make this point over and over again in the (now close to 1 billion) talks I’ve given about “corruption.” They’re collected at lessig.blip.tv. I understand how it is rational for no one (or very few) to spend the 20 to 60 minute necessary to watch those talks completely. But here’s a four minute clip about another popular Democrat. Watch this, and maybe the idea of “good soul corruption” will become clearer.

What could a “good soul” do to avoid the charge of being “good soul corrupt”? Well, the simplest is to make sure the that the only time you introduce legislation that 33 Nobel Prize winning scientists believe would harm science (or the equivalent), it plainly benefits your constituents. A bit more difficult, but certainly appropriate: As a chairman of a committee, refuse to solicit or accept contributions from the interests your committee regulates. And most important, and ultimately: pass legislation that provides for “citizen-funded elections” — so that when you support legislation with no good public purpose behind it, no one could believe it was because of the money.

And what could a good soul citizen do to end good soul corruption? Join our donor strikestrike4change.com — and thereby refuse to support any federal politician who doesn’t support this plainly corrupt system.

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Karl: Missing the point http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/karl-missing-the-point/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/karl-missing-the-point/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2009 09:40:28 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/karl_missing_the_point.html writes: "Is Lessig Shilling Against Open Access?" He laments the "damage done to the goodwill of the other side by this baseless smear." This is missing the point, twice. The merits of the "open access" argument stand or fall on their own. There was a fear of some (but discounted by others) that Conyers had introduced the bill to enable it to be swept into another bill without further process. Whatever else, given he has now defended the bill to remedy the same lack of process that led to the rule the bill attacks, it is doubtful that will happen. But I do disagree with to the suggestion this is a "baseless smear." It is a smear, no doubt, in the sense that it is a criticism, not so much of the man, but of a system. It is this system that produces enormous cynicism about how government works. That Conyers receives money from the auto industry and votes with their interests isn't the sort of thing that produces cynicism, just as the fact that Senator Grassley receives money from farmers and votes with their interests isn't the sort of thing that produces cynicism. Those sort of contributions -- and votes -- are the very best one could expect in a system of privately funded elections -- funding that fits the interests of the district; votes that track the interests of the district. But if there's a very best, there's a very worst -- funding and votes that have nothing to do with the interests of a district. That's what this bill is. Are the votes of the 14th District in Michigan benefitted by a bill that will increase the cost of access to government funded research? Is protecting publishers the principle that got John Conyers elected to Congress? Is this really -- as Lenz suggests -- one of his "convictions"? Is John Conyers really a Congressman who has as a "conviction" the idea that we should pay for scientific research twice? That publishers whose business model conflicts with the best business model for science in the digital age deserve Congress' protection? The whole point in this criticism (aka, "smear") was that there was no good reason for the support of this bill beyond doing a favor to an important industry. And to do a favor for an industry by supporting a bill that has no good reason behind it (and 33 Nobel Prize winners, and the current and former head of the NIH against it) while receiving 2x the contributions of those who didn't sponsor the bill is exactly the behavior that produces such cynicism. So it is an attack, no doubt. But it is certainly not baseless. "Baseless" would have been to suggest Conyers was bribed. Of course he wasn't -- Conyers is a hero of mine and my kind (libs); we don't believe our heros are criminals. It is instead an attack on precisely the behavior that leads 88% of the people in my district to believe "money buys results" in Congress. Conyers voting to protect GM doesn't produce that cynicism. Conyers voting to protect a bunch of foreign publishers does. Now if you're someone like me who believes that this cynicism is THE problem in Congress today -- if you believe that eliminating it, by restoring a system that could lead people to believe Congress was doing what it doing because of the voters, or even because of stupidity, but not because of the money, was the most important thing that Congress could do now (and especially now when all the attention that should be focused on the importance of stimulus is now focused instead on 8,000 or more earmarks said to have "larded up" the bill), then what Conyers did is precisely the sort of thing that needs to be attacked. Not just him (we've got others coming). Not just Democrats (we've been criticized already for being too harsh on Republicans). But him and anyone else who gives us a chance to point to the kind of relationship that draws this critical institution into doubt. But I'll confess, this isn't a role I enjoy. It is my nature (nothing to be proud of, but this is the reality) to ingratiate, not criticize. I don't have the courage of a Stallman. Too many of my cycles are focused on how or whether what I do will affect whether others like me. I am more comfortable on the inside than on the outside. And when we tried to find allies in this battle, I totally understood those who didn't have the stomach for this. "Coward" is a name I've given myself more often than any other. But I really really mean what I said at the end of the first post on this "baseless smear":
This is no time to play nice.
Our government is corrupted. That is not to say members accept bribes, or that legislation is the product of a quid-pro-quo: fewer accept bribes today than at any point in our past; I doubt any legislation is the product of a quid-pro-quo. These are good people, in a corrupted system -- a system that doesn't focus where it should (on the views of the citizens of each district) but instead focuses where Members must (on where they need to raise money). No one not benefiting from this system could defend it. Each of us, I believe, has a duty to change it. And change here will require something more than happy, glad-handing, smiles - however miserable that makes wimps like me. ]]>
The usually exactly right Karl Lenz writes: “Is Lessig Shilling Against Open Access?” He laments the “damage done to the goodwill of the other side by this baseless smear.”

This is missing the point, twice.

The merits of the “open access” argument stand or fall on their own. There was a fear of some (but discounted by others) that Conyers had introduced the bill to enable it to be swept into another bill without further process. Whatever else, given he has now defended the bill to remedy the same lack of process that led to the rule the bill attacks, it is doubtful that will happen.

But I do disagree with to the suggestion this is a “baseless smear.”

It is a smear, no doubt, in the sense that it is a criticism, not so much of the man, but of a system. It is this system that produces enormous cynicism about how government works. That Conyers receives money from the auto industry and votes with their interests isn’t the sort of thing that produces cynicism, just as the fact that Senator Grassley receives money from farmers and votes with their interests isn’t the sort of thing that produces cynicism. Those sort of contributions — and votes — are the very best one could expect in a system of privately funded elections — funding that fits the interests of the district; votes that track the interests of the district.

But if there’s a very best, there’s a very worst — funding and votes that have nothing to do with the interests of a district. That’s what this bill is. Are the votes of the 14th District in Michigan benefitted by a bill that will increase the cost of access to government funded research? Is protecting publishers the principle that got John Conyers elected to Congress? Is this really — as Lenz suggests — one of his “convictions”? Is John Conyers really a Congressman who has as a “conviction” the idea that we should pay for scientific research twice? That publishers whose business model conflicts with the best business model for science in the digital age deserve Congress’ protection?

The whole point in this criticism (aka, “smear”) was that there was no good reason for the support of this bill beyond doing a favor to an important industry. And to do a favor for an industry by supporting a bill that has no good reason behind it (and 33 Nobel Prize winners, and the current and former head of the NIH against it) while receiving 2x the contributions of those who didn’t sponsor the bill is exactly the behavior that produces such cynicism.

So it is an attack, no doubt. But it is certainly not baseless. “Baseless” would have been to suggest Conyers was bribed. Of course he wasn’t — Conyers is a hero of mine and my kind (libs); we don’t believe our heros are criminals. It is instead an attack on precisely the behavior that leads 88% of the people in my district to believe “money buys results” in Congress. Conyers voting to protect GM doesn’t produce that cynicism. Conyers voting to protect a bunch of foreign publishers does.

Now if you’re someone like me who believes that this cynicism is THE problem in Congress today — if you believe that eliminating it, by restoring a system that could lead people to believe Congress was doing what it doing because of the voters, or even because of stupidity, but not because of the money, was the most important thing that Congress could do now (and especially now when all the attention that should be focused on the importance of stimulus is now focused instead on 8,000 or more earmarks said to have “larded up” the bill), then what Conyers did is precisely the sort of thing that needs to be attacked. Not just him (we’ve got others coming). Not just Democrats (we’ve been criticized already for being too harsh on Republicans). But him and anyone else who gives us a chance to point to the kind of relationship that draws this critical institution into doubt.

But I’ll confess, this isn’t a role I enjoy. It is my nature (nothing to be proud of, but this is the reality) to ingratiate, not criticize. I don’t have the courage of a Stallman. Too many of my cycles are focused on how or whether what I do will affect whether others like me. I am more comfortable on the inside than on the outside. And when we tried to find allies in this battle, I totally understood those who didn’t have the stomach for this. “Coward” is a name I’ve given myself more often than any other.

But I really really mean what I said at the end of the first post on this “baseless smear”:

This is no time to play nice.

Our government is corrupted. That is not to say members accept bribes, or that legislation is the product of a quid-pro-quo: fewer accept bribes today than at any point in our past; I doubt any legislation is the product of a quid-pro-quo. These are good people, in a corrupted system — a system that doesn’t focus where it should (on the views of the citizens of each district) but instead focuses where Members must (on where they need to raise money).

No one not benefiting from this system could defend it. Each of us, I believe, has a duty to change it. And change here will require something more than happy, glad-handing, smiles – however miserable that makes wimps like me.

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A Reply to Congressman Conyers http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/a-reply-to-congressman-conyers/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/a-reply-to-congressman-conyers/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2009 10:32:34 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/a_reply_to_congressman_conyers.html Mr. Conyers says I "cross the line." He says I label his motivations for introducing this bill as "corrupt," that I accuse him of "shilling," and that I "dismiss" his bill as nothing more than a "money for influence scheme." On the basis of this "one piece of legislation," he says I have waved away "forty years of fighting against special interests." He insists that he has "earned a bit more of the benefit of the doubt" and "that there is far more to the 'open access' story than [my] muckracking tale lets on." (Mike Eisen and my original posts are here and here. My blog post is here.) First, as to substance: As others have shown without doubt, there is absolutely no "more to the 'open access' story" than my and Mike Eisen's criticism let on. (See the rebuttals especially here and here.) This bill is nothing more than a "publishers' protection act." It is an awful step backwards for science -- as 33 Nobel Prize winners, the current and former head of the NIH, the American Library Association, and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access have all said. And Mr. Conyers knows this. Practically the identical bill was introduced in the last Congress. Mr. Conyers' committee held hearings on that bill. The "open access" community rallied to demonstrate that this publishers' bill was bad for science. Even some of the cosponsors of the bill admitted the bill was flawed. Yet after that full and fair hearing on this flawed bill, like Jason in Friday the 13th, the bill returned -- unchanged, as if nothing in the hundreds of reasons for why this bill was flawed mattered to the sponsors. Second, as to "corruption": There are corrupt Members in Congress -- fewer, I believe, than at any time in our history, but the Randy "Duke" Cunninghams or Ted "A Series of Tubes" Stevens mean there must be at least some. John Conyers is not one of that class -- and nothing in what I wrote said anything different. I neither accused him of "shilling" nor labeled his "motivations" as "corrupt." The word "shilling" appeared in a question, begged by the combination of a disproportionate contribution and sponsorship of a baseless law. The word "corrupt" described a system, not a Member. Conyers is not "corrupt." Neither are his motivations. He is instead an extraordinary representative, a hero to many of us, the last member of the Judiciary Committee to vote to impeach Nixon still sitting on that committee, and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is an extraordinarily good soul, like the vast majority who choose to serve in government today. But these good souls work in a corrupted system. For of course I believe that Congress is defined by a "money for influence scheme" -- as do thousands of others who have joined Change Congress's "donor strike," pledging not to give a penny more to candidates who don't support fundamentally reforming our corrupt campaign-finance system. (Join here.) And who could believe any differently? Not a "scheme" in the crude sense that people are bribed, or that there's a quid pro quo, this money for that legislation. But in the very real sense that money buys access, and that Members -- some of whom spend between 30% and 70% of their time raising money to get back to Congress -- develop a finely honed sixth sense, constantly aware of how what they do might affect their ability to raise money. Who could possibly think that this system doesn't corrupt what government does? Who could possibly believe it benign? The answer of course is no one -- not the least a Member like Mr. Conyers who has spent forty years watching an honorable institution dissolve into a cabal of overpaid telemarketers. Just think about it: While America is facing crises more severe than any in the past generation, many (and maybe most?) Members of Congress are spending most of their time raising money to get back to Congress. This is like firefighters who take a coffee break in the middle of rescuing a trapped child, or police officers who stop at Starbucks on the way to a robbery. What sane person can look at this system and not think something has gone fundamentally wrong? It is time that Congress take responsibility for the cynicism this system has produced. It is not enough for good souls to insist on their goodness. A good soul must act to change a corrupted system. Supporting citizens' funding of the nation's elections -- as Mr. Conyers has -- is an important first step. That one change, I believe, would do more than any other to restore trustworthiness in Congress. But that's not all you could do, Mr. Conyers. You have it within your power to remove any doubt about the reasons you have for sponsoring the legislation you sponsor: Stop accepting contributions from the interests your committee regulates. This was the principle of at least some committee chairmen in the past. It is practically unheard of today. But you could set an important example for others, and for America, about how an uncorrupted system of government might work. And you could do so without any risk to your own position -- because the product of your forty years of extraordinary work for the citizens of Michigan means that they'll return you to office whether or not you spend one dime on a reelection. Indeed, if you did this, I'd promise to come to Michigan and hand out leaflets for your campaign. Until you do this, Mr. Conyers, don't lecture me about "crossing a line." For I intend to cross this line as often as I can, the outrage and scorn of Members of Congress notwithstanding. This is no time to play nice. And yours is just the first in a series of many such stories to follow -- targeting Republicans as well as Democrats, people who we agree with on substance as well as those we don't, always focusing on bad bills that make sense only if you follow the money. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, you can help us. Join our strike4change, refusing to support any candidate who doesn't support citizens' funding of the nation's elections. Or volunteer to help us track down more examples like this one. We will take the heat from the elected elites. From you, we need just the support it will take to show enough that real change must happen -- now.]]> Mr. Conyers says I “cross the line.” He says I label his motivations for introducing this bill as “corrupt,” that I accuse him of “shilling,” and that I “dismiss” his bill as nothing more than a “money for influence scheme.” On the basis of this “one piece of legislation,” he says I have waved away “forty years of fighting against special interests.” He insists that he has “earned a bit more of the benefit of the doubt” and “that there is far more to the ‘open access’ story than [my] muckracking tale lets on.” (Mike Eisen and my original posts are here and here. My blog post is here.)

First, as to substance: As others have shown without doubt, there is absolutely no “more to the ‘open access’ story” than my and Mike Eisen’s criticism let on. (See the rebuttals especially here and here.) This bill is nothing more than a “publishers’ protection act.” It is an awful step backwards for science — as 33 Nobel Prize winners, the current and former head of the NIH, the American Library Association, and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access have all said. And Mr. Conyers knows this. Practically the identical bill was introduced in the last Congress. Mr. Conyers’ committee held hearings on that bill. The “open access” community rallied to demonstrate that this publishers’ bill was bad for science. Even some of the cosponsors of the bill admitted the bill was flawed. Yet after that full and fair hearing on this flawed bill, like Jason in Friday the 13th, the bill returned — unchanged, as if nothing in the hundreds of reasons for why this bill was flawed mattered to the sponsors.

Second, as to “corruption”: There are corrupt Members in Congress — fewer, I believe, than at any time in our history, but the Randy “Duke” Cunninghams or Ted “A Series of Tubes” Stevens mean there must be at least some. John Conyers is not one of that class — and nothing in what I wrote said anything different. I neither accused him of “shilling” nor labeled his “motivations” as “corrupt.” The word “shilling” appeared in a question, begged by the combination of a disproportionate contribution and sponsorship of a baseless law. The word “corrupt” described a system, not a Member. Conyers is not “corrupt.” Neither are his motivations. He is instead an extraordinary representative, a hero to many of us, the last member of the Judiciary Committee to vote to impeach Nixon still sitting on that committee, and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is an extraordinarily good soul, like the vast majority who choose to serve in government today.

But these good souls work in a corrupted system. For of course I believe that Congress is defined by a “money for influence scheme” — as do thousands of others who have joined Change Congress’s “donor strike,” pledging not to give a penny more to candidates who don’t support fundamentally reforming our corrupt campaign-finance system. (Join here.) And who could believe any differently? Not a “scheme” in the crude sense that people are bribed, or that there’s a quid pro quo, this money for that legislation. But in the very real sense that money buys access, and that Members — some of whom spend between 30% and 70% of their time raising money to get back to Congress — develop a finely honed sixth sense, constantly aware of how what they do might affect their ability to raise money.

Who could possibly think that this system doesn’t corrupt what government does? Who could possibly believe it benign? The answer of course is no one — not the least a Member like Mr. Conyers who has spent forty years watching an honorable institution dissolve into a cabal of overpaid telemarketers. Just think about it: While America is facing crises more severe than any in the past generation, many (and maybe most?) Members of Congress are spending most of their time raising money to get back to Congress. This is like firefighters who take a coffee break in the middle of rescuing a trapped child, or police officers who stop at Starbucks on the way to a robbery. What sane person can look at this system and not think something has gone fundamentally wrong?

It is time that Congress take responsibility for the cynicism this system has produced. It is not enough for good souls to insist on their goodness. A good soul must act to change a corrupted system.

Supporting citizens’ funding of the nation’s elections — as Mr. Conyers has — is an important first step. That one change, I believe, would do more than any other to restore trustworthiness in Congress.

But that’s not all you could do, Mr. Conyers. You have it within your power to remove any doubt about the reasons you have for sponsoring the legislation you sponsor: Stop accepting contributions from the interests your committee regulates. This was the principle of at least some committee chairmen in the past. It is practically unheard of today. But you could set an important example for others, and for America, about how an uncorrupted system of government might work. And you could do so without any risk to your own position — because the product of your forty years of extraordinary work for the citizens of Michigan means that they’ll return you to office whether or not you spend one dime on a reelection. Indeed, if you did this, I’d promise to come to Michigan and hand out leaflets for your campaign.

Until you do this, Mr. Conyers, don’t lecture me about “crossing a line.” For I intend to cross this line as often as I can, the outrage and scorn of Members of Congress notwithstanding. This is no time to play nice. And yours is just the first in a series of many such stories to follow — targeting Republicans as well as Democrats, people who we agree with on substance as well as those we don’t, always focusing on bad bills that make sense only if you follow the money.

Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, you can help us. Join our strike4change, refusing to support any candidate who doesn’t support citizens’ funding of the nation’s elections. Or volunteer to help us track down more examples like this one.

We will take the heat from the elected elites. From you, we need just the support it will take to show enough that real change must happen — now.

]]>
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Representative Conyers speaks http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/representative-conyers-speaks/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/representative-conyers-speaks/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2009 21:49:32 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/representative_conyers_speaks.html here. I've got a father-in-law's 70th birthday, and a reply brief to complete before a response. But stay tuned (and pitch in if you can). ]]> Read it here. I’ve got a father-in-law’s 70th birthday, and a reply brief to complete before a response. But stay tuned (and pitch in if you can).

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Earmark reform http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/earmark-reform/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/earmark-reform/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2009 10:05:15 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/earmark_reform.html
Hoyer to W.H.: Hands off our earmarks - Alex Isenstadt - POLITICO.com
Herein brews perhaps the first important battle of reform for this President. I have long thought the President should resign his membership in the Democratic Party -- not because he doesn't or shouldn't share the values of the Democratic Party, but because it is time we recognize we need a President above either partisanship (which got us the "Contract with America") or bipartisanship (which got us the Iraq War). But Hoyer's behavior here makes the point most starkly. Earmarks are a cancer: Not because they consume a large part of the budget -- they don't; not because we shouldn't be spending money -- we should. But because they feed the system of corruption that is the way Washington works. They are the cornerstone of a system feeding the worst of the lobbying mafia (another plug here for So Damn Much Money), which itself is the cornerstone of K St. capitalism. It was a mistake for Obama not to join McCain in targeting them during the campaign. It is a fantastic thing that he is beginning to target them now. Cancers can be benign or malignant. This cancer is malignant when it feeds K St. capitalism. It is benign when it is simply a locally informed direction to how the government's money (aka, the people's money) should be spent. And apropo of the benign form of this cancer: I've agreed to help Congresswoman Jackie Speier with an experiment for earmark reform. (Decidedly and clearly progressive) Congresswoman Speier voted against the appropriations bill because of the earmarks in the bill. But as reported in the SF Chronicle:
Speier is now trying a novel experiment: She's put together a citizen's oversight panel to recommend projects for federal funding, chaired by Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, a critic of earmarks, and including local elected, business and labor leaders. If the model works, she may offer legislation to expand it nationally.
The panel will meet in 3 or 4 public hearings over the next month of so to review earmark proposals. We will then report our recommendations back to her. The citizen panel idea is completely Speier's. It is a brilliant idea with enormous potential. More on the potential soon. ]]>
Hoyer to W.H.: Hands off our earmarks - Alex Isenstadt - POLITICO.com

Herein brews perhaps the first important battle of reform for this President. I have long thought the President should resign his membership in the Democratic Party — not because he doesn’t or shouldn’t share the values of the Democratic Party, but because it is time we recognize we need a President above either partisanship (which got us the “Contract with America”) or bipartisanship (which got us the Iraq War). But Hoyer’s behavior here makes the point most starkly.

Earmarks are a cancer: Not because they consume a large part of the budget — they don’t; not because we shouldn’t be spending money — we should. But because they feed the system of corruption that is the way Washington works. They are the cornerstone of a system feeding the worst of the lobbying mafia (another plug here for So Damn Much Money), which itself is the cornerstone of K St. capitalism. It was a mistake for Obama not to join McCain in targeting them during the campaign. It is a fantastic thing that he is beginning to target them now.

Cancers can be benign or malignant. This cancer is malignant when it feeds K St. capitalism. It is benign when it is simply a locally informed direction to how the government’s money (aka, the people’s money) should be spent.

And apropo of the benign form of this cancer: I’ve agreed to help Congresswoman Jackie Speier with an experiment for earmark reform. (Decidedly and clearly progressive) Congresswoman Speier voted against the appropriations bill because of the earmarks in the bill. But as reported in the SF Chronicle:

Speier is now trying a novel experiment: She’s put together a citizen’s oversight panel to recommend projects for federal funding, chaired by Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, a critic of earmarks, and including local elected, business and labor leaders. If the model works, she may offer legislation to expand it nationally.

The panel will meet in 3 or 4 public hearings over the next month of so to review earmark proposals. We will then report our recommendations back to her.

The citizen panel idea is completely Speier’s. It is a brilliant idea with enormous potential. More on the potential soon.

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Me @ Google RE: CHANGE CONGRESS http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/me-google-re-change-congress/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/me-google-re-change-congress/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2009 17:57:24 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/me_google_re_change_congress.html

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John Conyers and Open Access http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/john-conyers-and-open-access/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/03/john-conyers-and-open-access/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2009 12:23:18 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/03/john_conyers_and_open_access.html Huffington Post is running a piece about H.R. 801 (the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act"), the latest version of John Conyers' awful idea. The law would forbid entities like the NIH from requiring that recipients of government grants make the product of their research openly accessible. (The current practice requires articles be freely accessible after 12 months.) Instead, Conyers' proposal would require that after the American taxpayer has paid for the research, the American taxpayer must pay publishers to get access to the product of the research. The first important word to emphasize in the last sentence is "publishers." For unlike the ordinary market for creative work, here, the author isn't paid for his work through the copyright system. It is the government (indirectly) paying for the research that the author (a scientist) creates. Scientists write articles as part of their job; other scientists peer-review those articles (usually for free); and journals then publish those articles without paying the author anything. Those journals, however, then charge libraries across the world an increasingly high rate to get access to the research in those journals. As the industry has become more concentrated, those rates have skyrocketed -- rising much faster than inflation. The "open access movement" was born to create an alternative to this. Even if restrictive copyright was a necessary evil in the days of dead-tree-based publishing, it was still an evil. High costs restrict access. The business model of the scientist is to spread his or her knowledge as widely as possible. Open access journals, such as, for example, those created by the Public Library of Science, have adopted a different publishing model, to guarantee that all all research is freely accessible online (under the freest Creative Commons license) immediately, to anyone around the world. This guarantee of access, however, is not purchased by any compromise in academic standards. There is still a peer-review process. There is still even a paper-based publication. Pushed by scientists everywhere, the NIH and other government agencies were increasingly exploring this obviously better model for spreading knowledge. Proprietary publishers, however, didn't like it. And so rather than competing in the traditional way, they've adopted the increasingly Washington way of competition -- they've gone to Congress to get a law to ban the business model they don't like. If H.R. 801 is passed, the government can't even experiment with supporting publishing models that assure that the people who have paid for the research can actually access it. Instead, if Conyers has his way, we'll pay for the research twice. The insanity in this proposal is brilliantly described by Jamie Boyle in this piece in the FT. But after you read his peace, you'll be even more puzzled by this. For what possible reason could Conyers have for supporting a bill that 33 Nobel Prize Winners, and the current and former heads of the NIH say will actually hurt scientific research in America? More pointedly, what possible reason would a man from a district that insists on the government "Buying American" have for supporting a bill that basically subsidizes foreign publishers (for the biggest players in this publishing market are non-American firms, making HR 801 a kind of "Foreign Publishers Protection Act")? Well no one can know what goes on the heart or mind of Congressman Conyers. But what we do know is what MAPLight.org published yesterday: That the co-sponsors of this bill who sit on the Judiciary Committee received on average two-times the amount of money from publishing interests as those who haven't co-sponsored the bill. Now maybe that's just a coincidence. Maybe Conyers and his friends had a reason of principle to support a bill said by experts to "harm science in America." But if he did, then he more than anyone else should want a system for funding elections that makes it impossible for people like me to suggest that maybe it wasn't reason that led him to his silly support for such a stupid bill. Yet another reason to support citizen funded elections. Yet another reason to join the strike ("strike4change.com") Change Congress has launched. Promise not to give money to any candidate who doesn't support irrevocably citizen funded election. (Come on. You don't want to give anyway.) At the very minimum, ask Congressman Conyers to explain exactly why -- if it wasn't the money -- he's so keen to hurt science. ]]> The Huffington Post is running a piece about H.R. 801 (the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act“), the latest version of John Conyers’ awful idea. The law would forbid entities like the NIH from requiring that recipients of government grants make the product of their research openly accessible. (The current practice requires articles be freely accessible after 12 months.) Instead, Conyers’ proposal would require that after the American taxpayer has paid for the research, the American taxpayer must pay publishers to get access to the product of the research.

The first important word to emphasize in the last sentence is “publishers.” For unlike the ordinary market for creative work, here, the author isn’t paid for his work through the copyright system. It is the government (indirectly) paying for the research that the author (a scientist) creates. Scientists write articles as part of their job; other scientists peer-review those articles (usually for free); and journals then publish those articles without paying the author anything. Those journals, however, then charge libraries across the world an increasingly high rate to get access to the research in those journals. As the industry has become more concentrated, those rates have skyrocketed — rising much faster than inflation.

The “open access movement” was born to create an alternative to this. Even if restrictive copyright was a necessary evil in the days of dead-tree-based publishing, it was still an evil. High costs restrict access. The business model of the scientist is to spread his or her knowledge as widely as possible. Open access journals, such as, for example, those created by the Public Library of Science, have adopted a different publishing model, to guarantee that all all research is freely accessible online (under the freest Creative Commons license) immediately, to anyone around the world. This guarantee of access, however, is not purchased by any compromise in academic standards. There is still a peer-review process. There is still even a paper-based publication.

Pushed by scientists everywhere, the NIH and other government agencies were increasingly exploring this obviously better model for spreading knowledge. Proprietary publishers, however, didn’t like it. And so rather than competing in the traditional way, they’ve adopted the increasingly Washington way of competition — they’ve gone to Congress to get a law to ban the business model they don’t like. If H.R. 801 is passed, the government can’t even experiment with supporting publishing models that assure that the people who have paid for the research can actually access it. Instead, if Conyers has his way, we’ll pay for the research twice.

The insanity in this proposal is brilliantly described by Jamie Boyle in this piece in the FT. But after you read his peace, you’ll be even more puzzled by this. For what possible reason could Conyers have for supporting a bill that 33 Nobel Prize Winners, and the current and former heads of the NIH say will actually hurt scientific research in America? More pointedly, what possible reason would a man from a district that insists on the government “Buying American” have for supporting a bill that basically subsidizes foreign publishers (for the biggest players in this publishing market are non-American firms, making HR 801 a kind of “Foreign Publishers Protection Act”)?

Well no one can know what goes on the heart or mind of Congressman Conyers. But what we do know is what MAPLight.org published yesterday: That the co-sponsors of this bill who sit on the Judiciary Committee received on average two-times the amount of money from publishing interests as those who haven’t co-sponsored the bill.

Now maybe that’s just a coincidence. Maybe Conyers and his friends had a reason of principle to support a bill said by experts to “harm science in America.” But if he did, then he more than anyone else should want a system for funding elections that makes it impossible for people like me to suggest that maybe it wasn’t reason that led him to his silly support for such a stupid bill.

Yet another reason to support citizen funded elections. Yet another reason to join the strike (“strike4change.com“) Change Congress has launched. Promise not to give money to any candidate who doesn’t support irrevocably citizen funded election. (Come on. You don’t want to give anyway.)

At the very minimum, ask Congressman Conyers to explain exactly why — if it wasn’t the money — he’s so keen to hurt science.

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Jeff Flake is right http://www.lessig.org/2009/02/jeff-flake-is-right/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/02/jeff-flake-is-right/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2009 13:44:19 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/02/jeff_flake_is_right.html Untitled Jeff Flake (AZ-6, Republican) has introduced a resolution to call for an investigation about the relationship between earmarks and campaign funding. Having just finished Kaiser's amazing book, So Damn Much Money, I am confirmed in a suspicion I had before the election: that Flake/McCain were right to be so exercised about earmarks, and Obama/Dems were wrong. The point is not the total amount of earmarks. Indeed, for a liberal like me, I'm keen to see the government spend money (wisely, at least). The point instead is the corruption that the earmarking system engenders. The history of earmarks is the history of a business model, with lobbyists at the core, a Congress dependent upon campaign funding at the edge, and a world of staffers, bureaucrats and former Members keen not to upset their future employers (the lobbyists). But of course, one simple solution to this "problem" with earmarks would be to remove the corrupting connection -- to campaign finance. And the simplest way to do that would be to follow Teddy Roosevelt's other fantastic idea from 100 years ago -- Citizen Funded Elections. Thus, yet another reason to join the strike -- don't give money to politicians who don't irrevocably commit to citizen funded elections. ]]>
Untitled

Jeff Flake (AZ-6, Republican) has introduced a resolution to call for an investigation about the relationship between earmarks and campaign funding. Having just finished Kaiser’s amazing book, So Damn Much Money, I am confirmed in a suspicion I had before the election: that Flake/McCain were right to be so exercised about earmarks, and Obama/Dems were wrong.

The point is not the total amount of earmarks. Indeed, for a liberal like me, I’m keen to see the government spend money (wisely, at least). The point instead is the corruption that the earmarking system engenders. The history of earmarks is the history of a business model, with lobbyists at the core, a Congress dependent upon campaign funding at the edge, and a world of staffers, bureaucrats and former Members keen not to upset their future employers (the lobbyists).

But of course, one simple solution to this “problem” with earmarks would be to remove the corrupting connection — to campaign finance. And the simplest way to do that would be to follow Teddy Roosevelt’s other fantastic idea from 100 years ago — Citizen Funded Elections.

Thus, yet another reason to join the strike — don’t give money to politicians who don’t irrevocably commit to citizen funded elections.

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you can’t make this stuff up http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/you-cant-make-this-stuff-up/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/you-cant-make-this-stuff-up/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2009 21:01:13 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/01/you_cant_make_this_stuff_up.html The Huffington Post:
Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority. Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Trade Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill. ...Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republican senatorial campaigns were needed, they argued..."If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs," Marcus declared.
Not only are some of the most non-trusted companies in America blatantly trying to buy off Congress, but they're using our bailout money to do it. This will ONLY change when elections are citizen funded. Join our strike4change to (1) starve the beast, (2) just say no, or (3) fix this absurd system -- now. No money until a candidate commits to citizen funded elections. ]]>
Breaking news from The Huffington Post:
Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community’s top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call — including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG — were urged to persuade their clients to send “large contributions” to groups working against the Employee Free Trade Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

…Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republican senatorial campaigns were needed, they argued…”If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs,” Marcus declared.

Not only are some of the most non-trusted companies in America blatantly trying to buy off Congress, but they’re using our bailout money to do it.

This will ONLY change when elections are citizen funded. Join our strike4change to (1) starve the beast, (2) just say no, or (3) fix this absurd system — now. No money until a candidate commits to citizen funded elections.

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from Joe and me — join the strike http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/from-joe-and-me-join-the-st/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/from-joe-and-me-join-the-st/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2009 09:59:07 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/01/from_joe_and_me_-_join_the_st.html Do sex, campaign money, and Change Congress's new "donor strike" go together? According to U.S. News & World Report, they do. Here's an excerpt from their story, "Sex, Campaign Money, and Cleaning Up Politics":
Don't like how our politics are paid for? Some people who agree are pushing what I can only call the Lysistrata campaign finance reform plan. In the ancient Greek comedy, women withheld sex from their soldier husbands until they agreed to end an ongoing war. Substitute sex for money and you have what the folks over at Change Congress are pushing: that donors go "on strike," refusing to give their money to pols until a campaign finance overhaul is passed (specifically, they favor a system whereby people limiting themselves to small donations would get matching government funds). They say that they've gotten no-contribution pledges from people who gave $400,000 to federal candidates in the last cycle.
So, you heard it from U.S. News & World Report first! Change Congress is bringing sexy back...to the campaign finance reform debate. (Step aside, Justin Timberlake.) The "donor strike" has amazing momentum, but we need your help to keep going. There are two things you can do today. First, if you haven't already, join the strike. We're at $422,000 in donations withheld--can you help us get to $500,000? With every new striker, we are increasing the pressure on Congress to pass fundamental reform. It's easy, just click here. Second, because Change Congress is fighting the special interests, we don't get money from the fat cats. So we depend on people like you. We're setting a goal of raising $100,000 in the next month--starting today. This will allow us to really turn up the pressure on Congress -- including targeted events in local districts -- to make sure politicians are well aware of how much money they're losing if they oppose reform. If you care about cleaning up our democracy, please help us keep our successful "donor strike" campaign going by chipping in here today. The donor strike's also been featured in the Associated Press, National Journal, Huffington Post, ABC News, and Green Mountain Daily (Vermont). Working together, we're making progress on this fundamental reform issue--and your help today will greatly help us keep the momentum going. Thanks for helping to change Congress. --Lawrence Lessig & Joe Trippi]]>
From the Huffington Post:
Do sex, campaign money, and Change Congress’s new “donor strike” go together?

According to U.S. News & World Report, they do. Here’s an excerpt from their story, “Sex, Campaign Money, and Cleaning Up Politics”:

Don’t like how our politics are paid for? Some people who agree are pushing what I can only call the Lysistrata campaign finance reform plan. In the ancient Greek comedy, women withheld sex from their soldier husbands until they agreed to end an ongoing war.

Substitute sex for money and you have what the folks over at Change Congress are pushing: that donors go “on strike,” refusing to give their money to pols until a campaign finance overhaul is passed (specifically, they favor a system whereby people limiting themselves to small donations would get matching government funds).

They say that they’ve gotten no-contribution pledges from people who gave $400,000 to federal candidates in the last cycle.

So, you heard it from U.S. News & World Report first! Change Congress is bringing sexy back…to the campaign finance reform debate. (Step aside, Justin Timberlake.)

The “donor strike” has amazing momentum, but we need your help to keep going. There are two things you can do today.

First, if you haven’t already, join the strike. We’re at $422,000 in donations withheld–can you help us get to $500,000? With every new striker, we are increasing the pressure on Congress to pass fundamental reform. It’s easy, just click here.

Second, because Change Congress is fighting the special interests, we don’t get money from the fat cats. So we depend on people like you. We’re setting a goal of raising $100,000 in the next month–starting today. This will allow us to really turn up the pressure on Congress — including targeted events in local districts — to make sure politicians are well aware of how much money they’re losing if they oppose reform. If you care about cleaning up our democracy, please help us keep our successful “donor strike” campaign going by chipping in here today.

The donor strike’s also been featured in the Associated Press, National Journal, Huffington Post, ABC News, and Green Mountain Daily (Vermont). Working together, we’re making progress on this fundamental reform issue–and your help today will greatly help us keep the momentum going.

Thanks for helping to change Congress.
–Lawrence Lessig & Joe Trippi

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Change Congress launches a Funders’ Strike http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/change-congress-launches-a-fun/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/change-congress-launches-a-fun/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2009 03:16:52 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/01/change_congress_launches_a_fun.html
strike4change.003-002.png
Tomorrow, Change Congress is launching a funders' strike. We pledge NOT to give to any candidate who doesn't support Citizens' Funded Elections. Join us at change-congress.org or strike4change.org. ]]>
strike4change.003-002.png

Tomorrow, Change Congress is launching a funders’ strike. We pledge NOT to give to any candidate who doesn’t support Citizens’ Funded Elections. Join us at change-congress.org or strike4change.org.

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CHANGE.ORG round #2 — Citizens’ Funding (aka, Teddy’s idea) http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/changeorg-round-2-citizens/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/changeorg-round-2-citizens/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2009 23:06:09 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/01/changeorg_round_2_-_citizens.html Citizens' Funding of the Nation's Elections made it into round #2 at Change.org. Here's 7 minutes about why it needs to be in the final list as well. Voting runs from today till January 15. Vote here. ]]>

Citizens’ Funding of the Nation’s Elections made it into round #2 at Change.org. Here’s 7 minutes about why it needs to be in the final list as well. Voting runs from today till January 15. Vote here.

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within the top 3 http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/within-the-top-3/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/within-the-top-3/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2008 03:50:52 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/12/within_the_top_3.html

We’re in the top 3, but there’s still over a week of voting. Consider this carefully, and then register and vote.

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the only solution http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/the-only-solution/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/the-only-solution/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2008 02:44:43 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/12/the_only_solution.html Here's the latest argument for CHANGE (v2). It makes a strong push for "Citizens' funding of the Nation's elections." The idea is being discussed and voted on at change.org. Please support the idea there if you can. I need about 500 279 votes to get the idea into round two.
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Here’s the latest argument for CHANGE (v2). It makes a strong push for “Citizens’ funding of the Nation’s elections.” The idea is being discussed and voted on at change.org.

Please support the idea there if you can. I need about 500 279 179 votes to get the idea into round two.

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Obama and reform http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/obama-and-reform/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/obama-and-reform/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2008 01:19:35 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/11/obama_and_reform.html Change Congress supporter writes:
"I am a supporter of your Change Congress movement and have followed your work for a long time. I am also an Obama supporter. I am writing to urge you to share your thoughts with your blog readers about what an Obama administration might entail for the Change Congress movement, and whether you think Obama is committed to government reform...."
Great question. I think many of us are so used to disappointment, we're looking for it, and so not even a week after that extraordinary night, many are beginning to wonder what "change" here will really mean? But I think we need a certain kind of understanding, or patience here. Imagine, by analogy, a loved one has cancer. She decides to get chemo-therapy to deal with the cancer. But on the way to the hospital, imagine she gets hit with a bullet from a drive-by shooting. (Dark, ok, but you'll see the meaning here in a second). Now an ambulance comes and races this gun-shot victim with cancer to the emergency room. This sad story is a picture of us just now. The "change Washington" rhetoric of this campaign is the analog to the cancer. The financial collapse is the analog of the shooting. And just as with the cancer patient, the collapse is an urgent, immediate problem that must be solved before the more fundamental, long term problem can be addressed. This means we have to be a bit patient before the more fundamental issue gets addressed. Not that one shouldn't be critical of decisions that will make it more difficult to cure the cancer. But that the lack of an immediate push on that problem is not inconsistent with the design to cure it. I only hope they recognize that as with the gun-shot, cancer victim, there needs to be essentially two teams thinking about these two different kinds of problems. One focusing immediately on stabilizing the patient. The second on how the stable patient can be treated for the cancer. The skills of the former team are not necessarily the skills of the latter. And if Obama is to be the transformational president he can be, building a strategy around that transformation will be essential. Update: A good sign: Podesta:
“I’ve heard the complaint [that] we’re leaving all this expertise on the side, because we’re leaving all the people who know everything out in the cold. And so be it. This is a commitment that the American public expects, and it’s one that we intend to enforce during the transition.”
A Change Congress supporter writes:
"I am a supporter of your Change Congress movement and have followed your work for a long time. I am also an Obama supporter. I am writing to urge you to share your thoughts with your blog readers about what an Obama administration might entail for the Change Congress movement, and whether you think Obama is committed to government reform...."
Great question. I think many of us are so used to disappointment, we're looking for it, and so not even a week after that extraordinary night, many are beginning to wonder what "change" here will really mean? But I think we need a certain kind of understanding, or patience here. Imagine, by analogy, a loved one has cancer. She decides to get chemo-therapy to deal with the cancer. But on the way to the hospital, imagine she gets hit with a bullet from a drive-by shooting. (Dark, ok, but you'll see the meaning here in a second). Now an ambulance comes and races this gun-shot victim with cancer to the emergency room. This sad story is a picture of us just now. The "change Washington" rhetoric of this campaign is the analog to the cancer. The financial collapse is the analog of the shooting. And just as with the cancer patient, the collapse is an urgent, immediate problem that must be solved before the more fundamental, long term problem can be addressed. This means we have to be a bit patient before the more fundamental issue gets addressed. Not that one shouldn't be critical of decisions that will make it more difficult to cure the cancer. But that the lack of an immediate push on that problem is not inconsistent with the design to cure it. I only hope they recognize that as with the gun-shot, cancer victim, there needs to be essentially two teams thinking about these two different kinds of problems. One focusing immediately on stabilizing the patient. The second on how the stable patient can be treated for the cancer. The skills of the former team are not necessarily the skills of the latter. And if Obama is to be the transformational president he can be, building a strategy around that transformation will be essential. ]]>
A Change Congress supporter writes:
“I am a supporter of your Change Congress movement and have followed your work for a long time. I am also an Obama supporter. I am writing to urge you to share your thoughts with your blog readers about what an Obama administration might entail for the Change Congress movement, and whether you think Obama is committed to government reform….”

Great question. I think many of us are so used to disappointment, we’re looking for it, and so not even a week after that extraordinary night, many are beginning to wonder what “change” here will really mean?

But I think we need a certain kind of understanding, or patience here. Imagine, by analogy, a loved one has cancer. She decides to get chemo-therapy to deal with the cancer. But on the way to the hospital, imagine she gets hit with a bullet from a drive-by shooting. (Dark, ok, but you’ll see the meaning here in a second). Now an ambulance comes and races this gun-shot victim with cancer to the emergency room.

This sad story is a picture of us just now. The “change Washington” rhetoric of this campaign is the analog to the cancer. The financial collapse is the analog of the shooting. And just as with the cancer patient, the collapse is an urgent, immediate problem that must be solved before the more fundamental, long term problem can be addressed.

This means we have to be a bit patient before the more fundamental issue gets addressed. Not that one shouldn’t be critical of decisions that will make it more difficult to cure the cancer. But that the lack of an immediate push on that problem is not inconsistent with the design to cure it.

I only hope they recognize that as with the gun-shot, cancer victim, there needs to be essentially two teams thinking about these two different kinds of problems. One focusing immediately on stabilizing the patient. The second on how the stable patient can be treated for the cancer. The skills of the former team are not necessarily the skills of the latter. And if Obama is to be the transformational president he can be, building a strategy around that transformation will be essential.

Update: A good sign: Podesta:

“I’ve heard the complaint [that] we’re leaving all this expertise on the side, because we’re leaving all the people who know everything out in the cold. And so be it. This is a commitment that the American public expects, and it’s one that we intend to enforce during the transition.”

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Web 2.0 Presentation http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/web-20-presentation/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/web-20-presentation/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2008 02:05:38 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/11/web_20_presentation.html ]]>

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latest ccFamous http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/latest-ccfamous/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/latest-ccfamous/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2008 19:31:41 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/11/latest_ccfamous.html ccgwen.jpg From the CC site:
Pop star Gwen Stefani and her husband, rocker Gavin Rossdale recently welcomed a baby, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, into the world. Many celebrities contract with a magazine to arrange an exclusive photo session that debuts mother with newborn. But Stefani and Rossdale took a different approach and hired their own photographer and put the photo online for the public under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, along with some additional terms that allow all print magazines, newspapers, and blogs to use the photo - even commercially, with some restrictions. You can download a high-res version of the photo (and check out the additional terms the photo is available under) at Stefani’s site.
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ccgwen.jpg

From the CC site:

Pop star Gwen Stefani and her husband, rocker Gavin Rossdale recently welcomed a baby, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, into the world. Many celebrities contract with a magazine to arrange an exclusive photo session that debuts mother with newborn. But Stefani and Rossdale took a different approach and hired their own photographer and put the photo online for the public under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, along with some additional terms that allow all print magazines, newspapers, and blogs to use the photo – even commercially, with some restrictions. You can download a high-res version of the photo (and check out the additional terms the photo is available under) at Stefani’s site.

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A rare moment of agreement: Stevens must go http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/a-rare-moment-of-agreement-ste/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/a-rare-moment-of-agreement-ste/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2008 02:17:52 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/11/a_rare_moment_of_agreement_ste.html obama-stevens-mccain.001_400.png Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin all agree on one important thing: After his conviction, Senator Stevens has to go. Sign our Change Congress petition to ask him to resign, and help us, well, Change Congress.
obama-stevens-mccain.001_400.png
Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin all agree on one important thing: After his conviction, Senator Stevens has to go. Sign our Change Congress petition to ask him to resign, and help us, well, Change Congress. ]]>
obama-stevens-mccain.001_400.png

Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin all agree on one important thing: After his conviction, Senator Stevens has to go. Sign our Change Congress petition to ask him to resign, and help us, well, Change Congress.

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Preparing for CHANGE: Please help. http://www.lessig.org/2008/10/preparing-for-change-please-he/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/10/preparing-for-change-please-he/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2008 19:21:05 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/10/preparing_for_change_please_he.html
5.png
Just over 6 months ago, I agreed with Joe Trippi to help start a movement for fundamental reform in Congress. We understood that this was a long term project. But as we felt then -- and as the events of the last 6 months only confirmed -- we face, as Al Gore has put it, "a democracy crisis." And until we fix this, we won't fix any of the critical problems that face our society. Many of you urged me to do this. And so I'm asking now for a favor in return. We've started. We've made important progress. But we need you now to help us make an important mark before this election comes to an end. Our first project has been to get Members of Congress as well as candidates for Congress to take a stand on our issues of reform. We don't demand that they agree with any particular reform (yet). We simply call upon them to have the courage at least to say where they stand. The five people you see pictured above are the first five Members of Congress to take a stand: Barney Frank (D-MA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), and John Tierney (D-MA). Four Democrats, and one Republican have signed a pledge to support planks in our platform for reform. These 5 are joined now by more than 150 challengers who have taken a stand. That's a start. But it's not good enough. And so I'm asking again: please help us get Members and candidates to take a stand. You can join our "pester" campaign by clicking here, and we'll make it extremely easy for you to write, or call, or email members or candidates who have not yet taken a stand. This should be a simple thing in a democracy: Tell us, candidate, what you believe. It should be a hard thing to hide from. Yet in the politics of today, the simple thing is to hide. Help us make the simple hard. Meanwhile, here's a link to the latest version of the Change Congress talk. ]]>
5.png

Just over 6 months ago, I agreed with Joe Trippi to help start a movement for fundamental reform in Congress. We understood that this was a long term project. But as we felt then — and as the events of the last 6 months only confirmed — we face, as Al Gore has put it, “a democracy crisis.” And until we fix this, we won’t fix any of the critical problems that face our society.

Many of you urged me to do this. And so I’m asking now for a favor in return. We’ve started. We’ve made important progress. But we need you now to help us make an important mark before this election comes to an end.

Our first project has been to get Members of Congress as well as candidates for Congress to take a stand on our issues of reform. We don’t demand that they agree with any particular reform (yet). We simply call upon them to have the courage at least to say where they stand.

The five people you see pictured above are the first five Members of Congress to take a stand: Barney Frank (D-MA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), and John Tierney (D-MA). Four Democrats, and one Republican have signed a pledge to support planks in our platform for reform. These 5 are joined now by more than 150 challengers who have taken a stand.

That’s a start. But it’s not good enough. And so I’m asking again: please help us get Members and candidates to take a stand. You can join our “pester” campaign by clicking here, and we’ll make it extremely easy for you to write, or call, or email members or candidates who have not yet taken a stand.

This should be a simple thing in a democracy: Tell us, candidate, what you believe. It should be a hard thing to hide from. Yet in the politics of today, the simple thing is to hide. Help us make the simple hard.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to the latest version of the Change Congress talk.

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