Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

OFA's "Time to Deliver" is Now; Watching Obama's Army Flex Its Muscles

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 20 2009

Today, President Obama is doing something no sitting U.S. President has done before. He is using his massive network of grass-roots supporters, which has been undergoing a reboot since Election Day, to go between the legs of Members of Congress and generate pressure from below on them to pass health care reform. Today is a big test of Organizing for America (OFA), Obama's political arm at the Democratic National Committee. OFA's leaders are calling on its supporters to generate a massive wave of phone calls to Congressional offices and district offices--100,000 or more in one day. They've got a barometer up showing more than 1,100 2,468 28,000 calls so far. (It jumped 1,300 in the 15 minutes since I started writing this post. And about 25,000 more in the last hour.) Will they succeed? And will the calls sway any wavering Members?

On the first question, a few fresh data points. First, OFA now has paid staffers in nearly all fifty states--Wyoming and Oklahoma being the last on the list. Since early June, when OFA began organizing in earnest around health care, it has amassed a quarter-million individual donations. Assuming an average of $30 per donation, that's a healthy war-chest. Its state staffers have been busy doing trainings with community activists and neighborhood team leaders. And the organization got its supporters into about 450 congressional town hall meetings in August.

While not nearly as robust as the Obama campaign organization, it's fair to say that OFA is now a new kind of political muscle, one that has troops in every state and, to some degree, a networked base that has the potential to influence what the leadership wants it to do. For example, in addition to continuing to use the myBO platform, OFA has been setting up state level Twitter lists and Facebook groups. But questions still remain among grassroots volunteers about how much this is still a top-down message machine, as opposed to a new kind of movement organization.

We'll save those questions for another day. Right now, here's the picture of what's going on today: just over 1,000 "Time to Deliver" phone-banking meetings all over the country, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Here's a somewhat clearer view, courtesy of Google Earth.

And here's a sample of the emails going out, this one from deputy director Jeremy Bird:

After months of negotiations, the health reform debate is about to move to the full Congress for the first time. With the insurance industry lobby pulling out all the stops to derail progress, we need everyone who supports reform to weigh in. So here's the plan: Set a new OFA record by getting 100,000 calls to Congress placed or committed to on a single day.

On Tuesday, October 20th, OFA volunteers will gather at "Time to Deliver" call parties and neighborhood outreach events across the country. We'll get together in living rooms and public locations, and reach out to friendly voters whose voices are particularly critical in this debate. We'll talk to them about the President's plan and then we'll ask them to call on their representatives to support reform.

President Obama will be joining a call party and then speaking directly to all the other events that evening via an exclusive live webcast, sharing the latest info on the fight for reform and our campaign for change.

It's an ambitious plan -- and it depends on you.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

GO

The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

GO

More