Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Where are the Swarms for CFR?

One Rick Falkvinge has written a book entitled SWARMWISE The Tactical Manual to Changing the World.

The book can be found on the Internet here.

Team Lessig Social Media advocates Swarmwise as a method to follow and experiment with.

What swarms are there for the campaign finance reform movement?

Introductory paragraphs (found on pages 13-17) in Swarmwise, based on the author's  real life application of the swarm, say the following:
On June 7, 2009, the Swedish Pirate Party got 225,915 votes in the European elections, becoming the largest party in the most coveted subthirty demographic. Our campaign budget was fifty thousand euros. Our competitors had spent six million. We had spent less than 1 percent of their budget and still beat them, giving us a costefficiency advantage of over two orders of magnitude. This was entirely due to working swarmwise, and the methods can translate to almost any organized large-scale activity.This book is about that secret sauce. 
A swarm organization is a decentralized, collaborative effort of volunteers that looks like a hierarchical, traditional organization from the outside. It is built by a small core of people that construct a scaffolding of go-to people, enabling a large number of volunteers to cooperate on a common goal in quantities of people not possible before the net was available.
Working with a swarm requires you to do a lot of things completely opposite from what you learn at an archetypal business school. You need to release the control of your brand and its messages. You need to delegate authority to the point where anybody can make almost any decision for the entire organization. You need to accept and embrace that people in the organization will do exactly as they please, and the only way to lead is to inspire them to want to go where you want the organization as a whole to go.
When I kick-started the swarm of the Swedish Pirate Party, I had posted a rough manifesto on a rather ugly website and mentioned the site just once in a chat channel of a file-sharing lobby. That was all the advertising that ever happened; the next day, the party had hundreds of activists. Timing, social context, and message are crucial – but if you have those three, your initial swarm will form like bees to honey in hours. Growing it and maintaining it will also be crucial, but those are the next challenges in line. We take one challenge at a time.
 * * * * 
Perhaps most significantly, focus in the swarm is always on what everybody can do, and never what people cannot or must do. Focus in the swarm is always on what everybody can do. This sets it completely apart from a traditional corporation or democratic institution, which focuses sharply on what people must do and what bounds and limits they are confined to. This difference is part of why a swarm can be so effective: everybody can find something he or she likes to do, all the time, off a suggested palette that furthers the swarm’s goals — and there is nobody there to tell people how things must or may not be done. Rather, people inspire one another. There are no report lines among activists. As everybody communicates with everybody else all the time, successful projects quickly create ripples to other parts of the swarm. Less successful ones cause the swarm to learn and move on, with no fingers pointed. 
To what extent can the campaign reform movement  benefit from study of Swarmwise and from conscious efforts to apply its ideas. To what extent are there swarms being built, and at work? Which campaign finance reform organizations are exemplary in building a swarm?

Friday, September 18, 2015

You be a 2016 MAYDAY candidate

MAYDAY's stated goal is to elect a reform minded Congress by 2016.

Lawrence Lessig, who previously headed up MAYDAY, has left that in order to prosecute MAYDAY's mission at the Presidential election level.

Professor Lessig is running for President on the single issue that, if elected President, he will serve only as long as it takes to get Congress to pass the reforms necessary to fix our corrupt political system, and then he will resign. For more information, go to Lessig2016.

With Lawrence Lessig on this new course, it is unclear what actions MAYDAY will take regarding the 2016 Congressional elections.

MAYDAY's most recent pronouncement, from August 12th, is, "We have not yet decided what action MAYDAY will be taking in 2016 races." http://blog.mayday.us/post/126510302980/mayday-is-a-super-pac-lessig-is-a-candidate.

I recently tried to ask MAYDAY whether it could give an estimate about when it would decide, and no response has been forthcoming. https://www.reddit.com/r/MaydayPAC/comments/3jemqn/when_will_mayday_decide_about_2016/

I ran for Congress in 2014 in the Alabama 6th Congressional district. My candidacy was a single issue candidacy of fixing Congress first, as Professor Lessig is now trying to do at the Presidential election level.

I don't know whether Professor Lessig would consider it helpful to his campaign if there were Congressional candidates running in the 2016 elections who conduct similar, single issue campaigns about fixing Congress first.

Any Congressional candidate running such a single issue campaign probably has no chance of winning.

Such candidates, however, could contribute to publicizing the issue in their Congressional districts, and that alone could be a sufficient reason for being a Congressional candidate.

I have been urging, and I continue to urge, that persons who deeply believe in #FixDemocracyFirst should consider putting themselves forward as a Congressional candidate in their district.

This may not be as daunting as you think.

Please review my blog entry You be a Congressional candidate from April, and consider what I say there.

Edit 9/20: My attention has just been called to this August 24th Huffington Post article, in which Professor Lessig talks about "referendum" Congressional candidates. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-lessig/the-plan-part-2-referendu_b_8033838.html

Addendum for Sanders supporters

Getting Big Money Out of Politics is the number 2 listed issue on the Bernie Sanders list of issues https://berniesanders.com/issues/.

Candidate Lessig's position is that nothing can be done until democracy is fixed.

Candidate Sanders is pressing numerous other issues in his campaign, and these are very important to many of his supporters.

Anyone who want to fix democracy first should be desirous of there being many Congressional candidates publicizing the corruption issue to the voters. Sanders supporters should want that as well.

I think Sanders supporters as well can consider putting themselves out as Congressional candidates

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015


Dear United State of America,

I am a citizen, residing in Birmingham, Alabama.

There are millions of Americans who want our country and Congress to debate the demand for campaign finance reform that gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes put in the letter he tried to deliver to 535 members of Congress in April. (That letter can be read here.)

In the first Republican debate in August, Donald Trump said blatantly to millions of Americans, "Our system is broken." (A video of what Donald Trump said at the first debate is here.)

Our country and our Congress need to ramp up this debate.

This week of the second Republican debate is excellent opportunity for sounding the alarum louder.

Wednesday night should be crescendo time.

#DebateCorruptionWednesday, or just #DebateCorruption.

Rob Shattuck

If you agree, click here to send your own tweet:  

Ask CNN to ask question about corruption

According to Represent.Us, as of mid-afternoon on Monday, the 14th, nearly 13,000 people had added their names to demand that CNN ask a critical question during Wednesday night's presidential debate, to wit:
As president, what specific steps would you take to fix our corrupt political system?
Use the following Represent.Us link to add your name::
Represent.Us says: "If we're going to get our question into the debates, we'll need to make a big splash on social media too. CNN loves their hashtags, so don't forget to include #CNNDebate and #AskTheQuestion in your posts – otherwise CNN's team might not see them!"

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What is your personal CFR plan?

Professor Larry Lessig is certain to get his $1,000,000 to continue his campaign for President in the Democratic primaries, having as its mission to #FixDemocracyFirst, and his candidacy set up as a referendum for the American people to demand that our broken Congress, caused by the corruption of money in politics, be fixed on a first priority basis. For more information, go to Lessig2016.

There is dubiousness about Professor Lessig's single, first, root issue candidacy. He has explained why he believes nothing else can accomplish what is needed. See Frodo Baggins for President and On the Trustee President: Not EITHER/OR but BOTH/AND. Whatever "Hail Mary" Professor Lessig's candidacy is, he has chosen it and is going with it.

What Professor Lessig currently thinks about the 2016 Congressional elections is unclear.

It would seem that Congressional candidates could play a complementary role to Professor Lessig's Presidential candidacy. The campaigns of Congressional candidates could help in publicizing the goal of Professor Lessig's candidacy and why it is important to the American people.

There is a question of what kind of Congressional candidacies would work best for that purpose, and, in particular, whether single issue Congressional candidacies, such as Professor Lessig is endeavoring at the Presidential level, would work better, or whether more normal, multiple issue candidacies would work better.

As Professor Lessig's campaign proceeds, insight about that may develop.

This leads to consideration of where MAYDAY stands in prosecuting its mission to elect a reform minded Congress by 2016.

MAYDAY's most recent pronouncement, from August 12th, is, "We have not yet decided what action MAYDAY will be taking in 2016 races."  http://blog.mayday.us/post/126510302980/mayday-is-a-super-pac-lessig-is-a-candidate.

MAYDAY is not even giving an estimate of when it will decide. Or at least I tried to ask them a couple of days ago, and no response has been forthcoming.  https://www.reddit.com/r/MaydayPAC/comments/3jemqn/when_will_mayday_decide_about_2016/

I don't know what the explanation is for MAYDAY's tarrying at this point in time. I believe there are two or three difficult things that MAYDAY has to decide about, and it is possible MAYDAY has not yet been able to reach decisions about them. See Zephyr Teachout's conundrums.

If you have strong feelings about campaign finance reform, what are your options of things to dedicate personal efforts to?

One option, obviously, is to work on behalf of Lessig2016. (For an idea, please see the tweeting suggestion in the edit I made today on Tweet4Lessig.)

If you believe that supporting Bernie Sanders is a better way to advance campaign finance reform, please consider this Proposed messaging plan re: Congress.

If you are really ambitious, consider being a Congressional candidate yourself. See You be a Congressional candidate.

Without being a candidate yourself, consider trying to organize concerted targeting of the campaign finance reform issue in your own Congressional district. See FL 17th and 18th Cong'l districts picked.

Consider joining the CFR Tweet Squad to do organized tweeting into targeted Congressional districts or in other targeted ways. See Join the CFR Tweet Squad today.

There are several campaign finance reform organizations working in other areas than the Presidential and Congressional elections. These efforts are mainly at municipal and state levels, including to obtain state and municipal calls (or resolutions) for amendments to the U.S. Constitutions or to enact local anti-corruption laws. Your personal CFR plan could include working in these organizations' activities.

I have endeavored to solicit these other organizations to find ways to join forces better and particularly offered my tweeting ideas for adaptation and use in their particular efforts. The organizations have been largely unresponsive to my entreaties. You could consider making personal efforts to help in contacting the organizations.

Offer your own ideas for things that campaign finance reformers can dedicate efforts to from now until Election Day in 2016.

Here's hoping you develop your personal plan for helping advance the cause.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Keep Larry Lessig going

Currently Lessig2016 shows that Professor Larry Lessig has raised $896,192 of his $1,000,000 goal by Labor Day.

If that goal is met, Prof. Lessig will continue his campaign for President in the Democratic primaries, with the sole mission of Fixing Democracy First, by means of making his candidacy a referendum for the American people to demand that our broken Congress, caused by the corruption of money in politics, be fixed on a first priority basis. For more information, go to Lessig2016.

Those who despair that the United States cannot fix its broken Congress should take a minimal step of helping to keep Larry Lessig going past Labor Day.

Please donate something to him here: https://lessigforpresident.com/donate/.

Thank you.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Should CFR make an example of Clinton Cash?

Politicians and their self interest

The self interest of politicians cannot be eradicated. They are frequently confronted with conflicts between self interest and their public duty, and they sometimes choose self interest ahead of public duty.

Politicians may at times justify putting their self interest first, on the grounds that such is needed to get elected or stay in office, and that their intention is ultimately to do good in elected office for the public.

Generally it is imperative for politicians to hide from the voters the politicians' actions in which they put their self interest ahead of the public's interest. This is because of the risk the politician will not be elected or reelected if the voters know the extent to which the politician's self interest was put ahead of the public's interest.

In the current movement to "get money out" of politics, the complaint is that the politicians allow themselves to be corruptly influenced by campaign contributions, which they need to get elected and reelected.

The politicians will not own up to voters about this corrupt influence and will deflect the voters as much as possible away from the subject. This is because an honest addressing of the issue with the voters would likely lead to difficult problems for the politician, the politician's donors, and also for fellow politicians and their donors.

The Clintons since 2000

Peter Schweitzer's book Clinton Cash (subtitle The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich), published in May, investigates the activities of the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation they created after Bill Clinton left office in 2000.

It cannot be doubted that the Clintons have a great deal of self interest they have promoted for decades.

It is also not to be doubted they have undertaken much for advancing public interests.

In their careers, the Clintons have many times confronted choices between advancing their self interest and acting for the public interest. As with politicians generally, the Clintons have endeavored to keep hidden from the public information about actions of theirs that have advanced their self interest in derogation of the public interest. The Clintons may even deny it ever happened, and they are not going to cooperate to help the public learn adequate information about those actions.

In particular, the Clintons are not going to help the public understand the extent to which the Clintons have, since 2000, used their Foundation to advance their self interests to the detriment of the public interest.

If the Clintons are not going to help the public on this, the public, with the help of investigative reporters, can endeavor to learn and understand what it can about the Clintons' actions.

The Clinton Cash book is a helpful start.

It is impossible to get inside the Clintons' heads to determine the calculations made by them, starting in 2000, in creating and using the Foundation to advance their self interests, including gaining wealth and getting Hillary Clinton elected as President down the line. While it is impossible to get in their heads, adequate information and facts can provide a good basis for drawing important conclusions.

If the Clintons are not going to explain themselves to the public, first it is fair for the public to be skeptical about characterizations coming from the Clintons concerning the nature of their actions and be skeptical when Clintons endeavor to play up their their actions as being humanitarian and for the public good and avoid any discussion of how their actions advanced their self interests.

A starting place is a general recognition that there is huge corruption in some foreign countries.

It is also the case that the greater the  corruption in foreign countries, the greater the profits that can be made in finding ways to benefit from the corruption.

For the Clintons, there has been an opportunity that the most corrupt countries are also some of the poorest and most in need of humanitarian aid. The opportunity is that humanitarian activities could be used as a good cover for actions that seek to benefit from the corruption.

The exploitation of corruption in foreign countries has been curtailed by Western countries, including the United States, which have passed laws making it illegal to pay bribes to foreign officials in order to obtain commercial contracts. These laws need to be circumnavigated if one is going to attempt to profit from foreign country corruption.

As Clinton Cash narrates, the Clintons picked some of the most corrupt countries in the world for dispensing humanitarian aid through the auspices of their Foundation.

In entering these corrupt countries to dispense humanitarian aid, the Clintons brought along with them many business friends for introduction to the governments and the officials of these corrupt countries, and to establish contact with local businesses in the foreign countries which participate in the foreign country corruption. Clinton Cash provides extensive information about many transactions which the Clintons played key roles in bringing about, and in which the business friends the Clintons brought along were, together with corrupt foreign country officials and local foreign country businesses, able to profit enormously from corruption..

As a part of this picture, these Clinton friends and the corrupt foreign countries, and their officials and local business cohorts, made large donations to the Clinton Foundation.

In addition, Bill Clinton got huge speaking fees from such friends of his and from the corrupt foreign governments and their officials and local business cohorts.

The humanitarian activities of the Clinton Foundation potentially provided excellent cover of allowing the Clintons to play up the humanitarian activities, and to keep information hidden about the profiting that went on for the Clinton friends and the foreign officials and local business cohorts, who were making donations to the Foundation and paying Bill Clinton huge speaking fees.

Besides having to skirt laws prohibiting the bribery of foreign officials, the Clintons also needed to avoid United States campaign finance laws prohibiting foreign governments and foreign nationals.from making campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton. Donations that foreign governments and foreign nationals made to the the Clinton Foundation, and speaking fees paid to Bill Clinton, were not subject to such limitations.

To repeat, it is impossible to get inside the heads of the Clintons about the their plan, strategy and tactics they employed after 2000 in connection with the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton's speaking fees.

The only recourse for the public is to learn facts and information about the Clinton Foundation activities and the speaking fees which are sufficient to reach reasonable conclusions. The Clintons have not and will not be cooperative with the public in this regard and have striven and will strive to keep such facts and information away from public knowledge.

A noteworthy element is the huge entourage that surrounds the Clintons, and whose loyalty has essentially been purchased by the Clintons. These include untold numbers of persons who have been elevated in their professional careers by the Clintons. Other untold numbers have been on payrolls under the control of the Clintons. These persons are potentially an important source of information that would help the public to understand the extent to which the Clintons put their self interests ahead of the public good. The extent to which these persons are silenced by the Clintons is something else the Clintons will endeavor to prevent the public from knowing.

In addition to playing up the Foundation's humanitarian activities, Clinton Cash reports that Bill Clinton has argued that what the Clintons have done with the Foundation and the speaking fees is in the vein of public/private partnerships, and they are the wave of the future for addressing some of the world's problems.

It is fine to tout the value of public/private partnerships, but anyone doing so also needs to consider whether the public/private partnership paradigm can expand the quantum of corruption that goes on. It is doubtful that Bill Clinton has spoken much about how the corruption can be expanded under the paradigm or that he has offered much in the way of suggestion about what is needed to defend against the expansion of corruption growing out of public/private partnerships, such as have been pursued by the Clintons through the Foundation. Without Bill Clinton willing to be forthcoming about this, the public is relegated to what information and facts it can get to evaluate the extent to which the Clinton Foundation and the speaking fees have abetted and increased corruption..

Finally, it should be noted that the questionable nature of what the Clintons have been doing with their Foundation and the speaking fees has been sufficient to attract Congressional and executive branch oversight over the Clintons' activities. Whether such oversight was sufficiently rigorous, or whether it was compromised by Washington DC's  culture of corruption, needs to be part of the evaluation of what the Clintons have done.

What should CFR'ers make of Clinton Cash?

Campaign finance reformers, who are decrying the corruption of money in politics, and decrying the oligarchy of billionaires that, in the minds of campaign finance reformers, runs the country, should read Clinton Cash, and decide whether the example of the Clintons can be used in the campaign finance reform cause.

To me the book reveals money running amuck in United States political affairs in an unprecedented way. It is suggestive of  political corruption being abetted and expanded by the Clintons. It should open the eyes of Americans about how far the corruption of money may have been carried by a former President, who is held in high regard by Americans and who may have egregiously put the self interest of the Clintons and of their friends, based almost solely on money, ahead of the public interest. This is compounded by the power of the Clintons, and how they are insulated by that power and have purchased silence of their huge entourage. It offers a potential good case in point of the culture of corruption in Washington resulting in Congressional and executive branch oversight being wanting.

I think campaign finance reformers should pound on the example of Clinton Cash in trying to open the eyes of American people about the corruption of money in politics.

Bernie Sanders should use this in his Presidential campaign. If he declines to bring the corruption of the Clintons up, Sanders supporters should do so on their own, in order to advance the cause of campaign finance reform and to advance their candidate.

Update 1/17/16
If you received a tweet from me giving a link to this blog entry, and you want to learn what #DeclareForDemocracy is about, please go to  2016 Congressional candidates' Declarations.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is money speech?

To approach the "is money speech" question, it is helpful to start with a rephrasing.

To wit, just what is this "speech" that is the subject at hand?

At bottom, this concerns  the role for "speech" in the governance of our society.

One kind of governance is by coercion and force, practiced by some members of the society on other members, with the latter having no say.

That is tyranny.

Our country rejects tyranny. We believe governance is not to be effectuated through coercion and force.

Instead, in our democracy, people have a say about society's governance.

This say about governance is by means of the vote.

People have varying ideas about what they want in the governance of their society, they cast votes in various ways for what they want, and there is an agreement to go along with the outcomes of votes.

In this democratic process, instead of force and coercion, competing ideas and candidates are presented for consideration of the voters, relevant information and facts are adduced, and there is discussion and debate for trying to persuade others about the governance of the society and about how voters should cast their votes.

This presentation of competing ideas and candidates, the adducing of relevant facts and information, and the discussion and debate to inform and ultimately to persuade voters about society's governance, is the speech that is subject at hand. The First Amendment protects such speech from abridgment by the government.

The tricky part of the speech is not the mere formulation and articulation of competing ideas but rather the means for informing, and persuading or trying to persuade, voters about the competing ideas and candidates, and about the relevant facts and information.

It would be most copacetic if all the various ideas for the society's governance could, together with all relevant facts and information, be assembled and directly injected into the brains of everyone for their consideration, and then be evaluated  and decided on by each person as to what that person wants regarding society's governance, and acted on by votes being cast accordingly, with the outcomes of the votes deciding about society's governance.

That would be ideal, but the reality falls painfully short and is messy.

The realm of political speech is a gargantuan, cacophonous Tower of Babel. It is overwhelming to the average person to listen to and process the speech, including learning and evaluating relevant facts and information. There are disparate abilities, opportunities and willingness of people to listen to and process the speech. In the Tower of Babel, volume and repetition of speech are significant in affecting how people vote. Playing to people's biases and emotions also works well in getting votes. Organizing and deploying volunteers to propagate campaign messages are helpful to get votes. The tools of TV and other advertising are also of benefit, but cost significant money.

In this real world, it misses the mark to conceive of speech as mere formulation and articulation of ideas and to ignore the real world importance that speech cannot fulfill its role in determining society's governance without means for communication of the ideas, including relevant facts and information. Human and economic resources are needed to make the communication. These may be resources to recruit, organize and deploy volunteers in an election campaign, or money to pay for TV advertising.

The crux of this is that there cannot be meaningful speech in the political process if resources for making the speech are disallowed.

By the same token, if resources for making speech in the process are limited, that limits the speech.

In short,  meaningful speech in the political process cannot be separated from the use of resources that are needed in order to make the speech.

This is true whether the resources are money to pay for TV ads or are other resources for, say, recruiting, organizing and deploying volunteers in an election campaign.

Thus, the question "is money speech?" is not a helpful question.

The question needs to be "what resources, if any, should be limited or disallowed in the making of speech?"

In answering the question, rationales and justifications need to be advanced for why some, if any, resources should be disallowed or limited by the government in the communication of speech.

One thing that would seem certain is that, no matter what reform is implemented, people will not become equal in making and communicating speech. Inequalities will persist in numerous ways, such as in abilities and interest of people to formulate and articulate speech, opportunities to spend time and efforts to communicate speech, powers of persuasion, abilities in organizing a campaign for persuading people about political ideas and getting people to join efforts in the campaign of persuasion, status and position in the community, and access to  economic, human and other resources needed to make and communicate speech.

Also, in considering the question of the government disallowing or limiting resources which can be utilized in making and communicating speech, one ought to be attuned to the risk of lawmakers disallowing or limiting resources in a way which will help keep them in office. In the realm of redistricting and gerrymandering, lawmakers have exhibited reprehensible willingness to put their self interest first in keeping themselves in office, and failing to vindicate the public interest. How the politicians have failed the public interest on redistricting and gerrymandering should cause pause in considering how much politicians should be allowed to limit the use of resources in the making of speech in the political process.