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Daily Digest: You're Not the Boss of Me Now...

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, July 3 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Now that the MyBarackObama.com group created to protest Barack Obama's support for surveillance legislation containing telecom immunity has become the single largest group on the site, TechPresident's Micah Sifry has an insightful look at how the many limitations of the social-networking site's tools are shaping the protest. Is MyBO in any way transformative, or is it simply super-fueling the same, yawn, top-down politics of the past? Or perhaps "change from the inside the tent" is not even the point, given that the group's explosive growth has drawn a good amount of media attention to Obama's FISA position; MyBO might be helping to turn protestors from passive recipients of the news into co-creators of it, in a way that as late as the last presidential cycle might have required a street protest. But let's take a pause for a moment and consider whether this is a case of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss.' Raw Story's Nick Juliano interviews blogger and activist Mike Stark, who has helped to grow the group and seems to have admin rights to it. Here's Mike: "Once the FISA issue is dead, all I have to do is rename the group and I've still got 15,000 people." Mike might find that being told what to do is not what those many thousands of passionate protestors signed up for.
  • Behold the power of a t-shirt: Washington State Democrat congressional candidate Darcy Burner, locked in a tight race against Rep. Dave Reichert, ran out of her burning house on Tuesday morning wearing a shirt reading </war> -- computer code translating into "end war." Responding to the photo by calling the former Microsoftie and anti-war candidate "a geek at heart" and "family" Daily Kos's Markos Moulitsas called for the online left to bump up fundraising for Darcy, and in about 24 hours more than $80k came in for the candidate through ActBlue -- which Markos translated into more than two weeks she can focus on putting her life back together instead of raising campaign cash.

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Blog readers tend to cluster around ideological poles and are about as polarized as U.S. senators, finds a new study by a trio of political scientists at George Washington that includes Crooked Timber blogger Henry Farrell. The study which, we should note, used a data set compiled waaaaay back in 2006, finds that blog readers aren't reading much outside their own core ideological milieu. One other interesting takeaway: "Cross-cutting blog readers [i.e. conservatives who read progressive blogs and vice versa] are about as likely as left wing blog readers to participate in politics, and that both are significantly more likely than right wing blog readers to participate" -- which the authors attribute to social organizing among the online left.

  • Didja know that you can drive clear across the United States without ever laying tire tracks in a Democratic-held congressional district? Me neither. But the College Republicans say that is indeed the case, are a new project called Where is the Red is tracking the coast-to-coast travels of a handful of CRs to demonstrate enthusiasm for John McCain and a Republican Congress among youthful conservatives. They'll be interviewing candidates and voters and giving the whole trip the Flickr/YouTube/blog treatment. You can follow along with Where is the Read via Twitter at @whereisthered. Like we saw with the recently launched Real World Republicans blog, web-savvy Republicans are not quite ready to cede a demographic advantage among millennial voters to Democrats.

  • The progressive PAC Blue America has just launched Whip Count Call Tool to press Senators to support the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy Amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, now scheduled to come up for vote in the Senate just after the July 4th break. Here's how it works: you enter you telephone number and zip code and the call tool (built off of Advomatic's Click-to-Call app) pulls up the name of your senators. Then, through a combination of black magic and fairy dust, the tool establishes a connection to your phone, plays you a short introductory message, and rings up your senator's office -- all at no cost to you. Once your lobbying call is complete, it pops up a form that allows it to track your feedback. All in all, a pretty snazzy demonstration of how to use gadgets and gizmos to facilitate -- not replace -- human-to-human political interaction.

In Case You Missed It...

Michael Tate says that the McCain campaign is on the right track by posting campaign video exclusives on YouTube, but that they should start tapping the star in their midst -- John McCain himself.

The Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott reflects upon PdF '08 and offers this provocative thought: "Most of the people at an event celebrating a 21st century technology with profound implications for public pollcy [sic] came bearing a distinctly 19th century political outlook."

We're off tomorrow. A happy, safe, and celebratory independence day to you and yours!