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Daily Digest: America Has a Few (Thousand) Things to Ask Obama

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, December 11 2008

  • Transition is Open for Questions -- Most of Them, At Least: Change.gov's Open for Questions feature opened for business just yesterday morning, as I reported. Already, its first scandal! A few dozen queries about the suddenly infamous deal-making governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, are being "censored," writes Politico's Ben Smith. What's happening is that Change.govers are flagging Blago Qs as "inappropriate," which hides them from the display of questions. As I wrote, Google Moderator just seems like the wrong tool for the job. Built by a Google programmer on his "20% time," Moderator is optimized for organizing questions during friendly tech talks at the Googleplex. For that cohort, it's up to snuff. But when it comes to moderating Americans, not so much. By the way, we're tracking the progress of Open for Questions on Twitter. Latest tally: 427,616 votes on 5,268 questions from 7,802 people.

  • Obama Flooding Inboxes with Deals: The Obama campaign has been hitting its email list plenty hard over the last few days, hawking, on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, everything from $35 four-year calendars to a rather cute knit cap, yours for $25 or more. Finding the flood of emails from the President-elect (one with a reported $30 million in the bank) off-putting? Poor list management? A savvy way to gin up cash that can go to paying off the debts of allies and would-be allies? Let us know your take in the comments.

  • Facebook is No Longer Favreau's Friend: Former Clinton Administration Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, who knows a thing or two about uncomfortable White House sexual situations, says on VanityFair.com that a recent Facebook photo of Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau fondling a cardboard version of a certain member of his boss's cabinet-to-be, "is no laughing matter." Says Myers: "It’s an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration. And it disgusts me." Complicated stuff, what with it being a private photograph that went public, though it's not as if no one could have predicted a posed party photo starring Favreau might make its way on the Internets. Myers is calling for Obama to take his staffer on a "very public trip to the woodshed" -- pictures of which will, of course, be immediately posted on Facebook.

  • A Diplomatic 140-Character Response to Al Kamen: The Washington Post's Al Kamen poked some predictable fun at the State Department's Twittering diplomat Colleen Graffy, whom we highlighted yesterday. Kamen's headline is probably all you need to know: "Live From Iceland, or Possibly Greenland, It's the DipNote Tweet Show!" When Graffy tweeted a bit ruefully about his gentle mockery, I suggested she ignore him, not change her ways. Graffy's response: "u can say 'drop the Al Kamens of the world from the equation, not openness' but I couldn't possibly."* Heh. All right then, consider it said. [*Corrected to fix an embarrassing punctuation error on my part.]

  • Canada, Facebook, Politics: A politician in Ontario reversed proposed restrictions on teenage drivers after the new rules sparked a Facebook protest group that grew to 150,000 members.

In Case You Missed It...

Gene Koo is keeping up his liveblogging of a conference on the Internet and politics happening at Harvard's Berkman Center this week. (There are a bunch of posts; just scroll down to see them.) The event is taking place under "Chatham House Rules," which calls for participants to stay anonymous. It makes reading Gene's liveblogging like overhearing a fascinating conversation at a party where you just can't quite place who's saying what.

Elsewhere, techPresident contributor Ari Melber has a recap of one session of the Harvard event featuring Obama campaign figures Jeremy Bird and Marshall Ganz.