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First POST: Grassrootsiness

BY Nick Judd | Friday, January 25 2013

How "grassroots" is Organizing for Action?

  • Democratic officials unveiling the Obama for America successor organization, Organizing for Action, said it would be able to accept unlimited contributions — and that it would disclose its donors. Perhaps it's shades of things to come, then, in today's Politico story that reports the day before a come-one-come-all kickoff event in D.C. at which grassroots activists were told they'd have to fund their own field offices and voter file access, a small group of big-dollar Democrats heard a different appeal:

    Dubbed the “Road Ahead” meeting, the conference was sponsored by a White House-allied trade association called Business Forward, which is funded by major corporations including Microsoft, Walmart and PG&E – each of which sent senior executives to participate in a panel on how to boost American economic competitiveness ... “We need you. This president needs you,” [former Obama 2012 campaign manager and Organizing for Action national chairman Jim] Messina said, adding Organizing for Action was “building a national advisory board filled with people in this room." ...

    ... Grassroots activists? They got their own pitch the next day at a bigger, no-invitation-necessary gathering called the “Obama Campaign Legacy Conference” held at the Washington Hilton. There, Carson told reporters that OfA would “absolutely” be funded mostly by grassroots donors like those Obama highlighted in his campaign, rather than big corporate donors.

Renew! Renew!

  • Republicans trying to figure out how to form a new coalition say it's their strategy that has to change, not their policies. At BuzzFeed, Zeke Miller tracks the GOP group that's publicly suggesting a new mix of technology and bottom-up organizing will save the party:

    The so-called "Growth and Opportunity Project" is considering structural recommendations to the party, but is shying away from suggesting new policies, officials said.

    "We're not a policy group," said committee co-chair and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, rejecting speculation that the group would advocate for more moderate policies on immigration and social issues. "We're not going to make policy recommendations to the [party]."

    "We need to learn how to develop the kind of local grassroots organization the Republican Party used to be known for," said New Hampshire committeeman Steve Duprey.

In a Google Hangout, Biden talks guns

  • Is "buy some shotgun shells" a thing yet? Speaking yesterday in a video chat moderated by PBS Newshour's Hari Sreenivasan, Vice President Joe Biden took his unique brand of retail politics to the web. White House officials have said they want to use the Internet as a place to engage with critics and mobilize supporters — Biden was clearly working towards both of those things in the approximately half-hour-long chat, going back and forth with someone who said she was an NRA member one moment and answering a softball question from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki the next.

Around the web

  • New Media Ventures is funding companies like Upworthy, NationalField, and TurboVote.

  • The Guardian is making full county-level results available from the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

  • More data nerdery: The U.S. Census Bureau announced yesterday that American Community Survey data is now available broken out by congressional district. Census data, including ACS, is also available via API.

  • Mark Zuckerberg will host a fundraiser for Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

  • Jeremy Bird, Obama for America's former national field director, is off to try to turn Texas into a blue state.

  • A whole gaggle of Obama for America — and Romney for President — alums are in New York today for "Political Innovation Summit," a one-day election retrospective and general tech-in-politics-and-civic-life confab hosted by Google. It'll be so nice to have every techPresident reader in one room ...

  • Also this weekend, in New Jersey, a hackathon for coders and journalists "to build innovative projects that can transform the way we use data and experience news in the Garden State."

  • Here are remarks on Aaron Swartz that Carl Malamud gave Thursday at the Internet Archive:

    Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations. An army that believes we must make justice and knowledge available to all—not just the well born or those that have grabbed the reigns of power—so that we may govern ourselves more wisely.

    He was part of an army of citizens that rejects kings and generals and believes in rough consensus and running code.

  • ICYMI: Susan Crawford's Wednesday op-ed in the New York Times, arguing for increased high-speed Internet access:

    At the heart of the problem lie a few powerful companies with enormous influence over policy making. Both the wireless and wired markets for high-speed Internet access have become heavily concentrated, and neither is subject to substantial competition nor oversight. Companies like Time Warner Cable routinely get their way when they seek to prevent local officials from encouraging competition. At the federal level, Verizon Wireless is keeping the F.C.C. in court arguing over the scope of its regulatory powers — a move that has undermined the agency’s authority.

  • Don't try to unlock your phone.

  • The Pope, you guys: The pontiff delivered remarks Thursday emphasizing that what happens online happens in the "real world:"

    "The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young," Benedict said in his message. "Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there."

  • Thursday's New York Times: "A French court on Thursday told Twitter to identify people who had posted anti-Semitic and racist entries on the social network. Twitter is not sure it will comply. And the case is yet another dust-up in the struggle over speech on the Internet, and which countries’ laws prevail."

News Briefs

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In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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