Donny Shaw's blog
This weekend in D.C. – it’s the “un-conference” of the year for #opengov heads & civic engagement developers. That would be Transparency Camp, organized by the Sunlight Foundation. By “un-conference”, it’s a straightforward-yet-refreshing take on usual conference get-togethers – panels are generally organized bottom-up, so actual tech developers can get-together in the same room and look at actual code & actual features & actual data & actual UIs & actual needs & actual opportunities. Well maybe not as much as would be ideal, but it’s still rather refreshing if you’ve spent months looking at a project management system like Pivotal Tracker or whatever & writing grant proposals in Google Docs.
David from OC & PPF will be there to demo our new major project: Read more
Writing from the plane headed to the National Conference on Media Reform in Denver, CO, organized by the terrific folks at PPF’s longtime friends at Free Press. My first time in Denver, look forward to seeing the mountains. Read more
The OpenCongress team has submitted a proposal to the Knight Foundation NewsChallenge for open-government projects:
OpenGovernment.org – a version of “We The People” for state, city, and local governments
… thanks to mentions from friends-of-PPF like Chris Hayes, Zephyr Teachout, Reihan Salam, and others, as of this writing we’ve risen in the ranks to the bottom of the first page of most-viewed projects overall. Currently ranked 20th most-viewed of 825 proposals, not too shabby – and we’re sixth most-applauded overall, which is awesome popular support. Lots of great #opengov submissions, more on that below. (Right: a sample of our new, clean design for Q&A on OG.) Read more
Our tiny non-profit team was plainly excited when we heard that the Knight Foundation NewsChallenge had an #opengov theme, viz.: How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact? Good Q! Read more
Happy Friday everyone. Two of the PPF team will be at SxSW Interactive this week.
I’ll be there to sneak-preview the recently re-designed OpenGovernment.org, for engagement with state & city government. I’m attending with James McKinney, the E.D. of the Canadian non-profit Open North, who is working as OpenGovernment’s technical lead. Here’s my draft pubilc schedule, feel free to suggest events. Ping me anytime to meet up to see the new OG user interface & give your feedback, we’re easy to reach & happy to chat. AIM / Skype: davidmooreppf, #opengovernment in Freenode on IRC, david at ppolitics.org over email. Read more
Barely a year after the defeat of SOPA, Congress is back to testing the waters for legislation that many internet users believe to be in violation of their fundamental rights to privacy and free expression.
CISPA, a bill that would make it easier for corporations and the government to share internet users’ personal data, was officially re-introduced in the House on Wednesday. It’s already being rushed forward in the legislative process. The House Intelligence Committee is holding a full hearing on the bill today at 10 am. They will hear from four witnesses — all from the business sector and all known supporters of CISPA. No experts with concerns about privacy issues in the bill were invited to address the committee. Read more
For updates on the State of the Union tonight, probably best-practice is to follow along with our lists on the micropublishing service ::
- #opengov & civic engagement & open-data leaders
For video background see last Sunday’s edition of ‘Up with Chris Hayes
’, the most substantive & empirically-accountable news show on cable TV. A lot of people prefer the popular social networking service, we keep a beachhead
there too. Read more
Public polling shows that a majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, but will Congress even consider taking pot off the banned substances list?
Today, two members of the House — Rep. Jared Polis [D, CO] and Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D, OR] — are introducing legislation to change the federal marijuana laws. One bill would regulate marijuana like alcohol, and another would establish a federal marijuana tax (article will be updated with links to bills shortly, so check back). The introduction of the bills is a first step, but it doesn’t mean that there is broader institutional interest in Congress for taking up the issue of legalizing pot.
There is one big reason why Congress is not likely to take this issue up: they don’t want to bother the corporations that they rely on for funding. Read more
Led by Harry Reid, Senate Democrats have officially squandered their best chance to bring more democracy to the Senate in years.
By a vote of 78-16 , the Senate last night approved a new rules package that keeps in place the procedural loopholes have turned the Senate into a brick wall for sensible legislation. Under the new rules it will still be possible for a single senator to halt progress on a bill, or even on a motion to proceed to a bill, simply by stating that they intend to filibuster. In recent years, this procedure, commonly known as the “silent filibuster,” has prevented the Senate from passing even the most routine, non-controversial legislation. Read more
One year ago today, thousands of websites and millions of internet users took action to stop major internet censorship bills in Congress, SOPA and PIPA. The protests changed the way many people think about politics by proving that bringing together an educated public to take action, online, can defaet the corrupt agendas of the most powerful interest groups and members of Congress. To celebrate this enormous, ground-shaking victory, we (PPF) are joining a bunch of the other groups that were involved in the SOPA fight in declaring today, January 18th, a new holiday — “Internet Freedom Day.” Read more
Since 2007, the year the Democrats re-gained control of Congress, the filibuster has turned into standard procedure for virtually everything that happens in the Senate. What was once considered a special rule to be used on rare occasions for personal dissent on an issue has become a routine matter of course for obstructing the other side of the aisle and gaining a political advantage.
The filibuster has been so abused that it stops the Senate from accomplishing even the most mundane tasks — like keeping the federal agencies funded and confirming non-controversial judges. It’s even used by the minority Republicans to block bills that they support, just because they want to make it more difficult for the Democrats to run the Senate. Because small and rural states are overrepresentated in the Senate – two senators per state regardless of size – it’s possible for 41 senators (the minimum needed to filibuster) from states representing just 11.3% of the U.S. population to basically shut down the Senate. Read more
Update, 7pm ET, Friday Jan. 4th, 2013: Data from the 113th Congress is now live on OpenCongress. Blog post coming soon on brand-new bills introduced over the past two days. Hey, if anyone wants to start an OC wiki list linking to profile pages of the 90 or so new members, feel free. Judging from our initial review, bill & member info is displaying correctly from GovTrack, and campaign contribution data from OpenSecrets (go team) will follow accordingly – we’ll keep our eyes out for bugs – if you noticed some slightly malformed info somewhere on the site, we’re happy to look into it – file a new ticket on our Lighthouse issue tracking system, assigned to me, drm, or email me at david at opencongress.org. We’ll get it fixed right away if anything looks amiss. Otherwise, feel free to browse bills & senators & reps off the top-hand navigation, and get familiar. Thank you for using OpenCongress, more to come. Read more
In late November, during a closely watched public debate, the Senate voted by a wide, bi-partisan margin to ban indefinite detention of American citizens. But now that the legislative process has moved behind closed doors, it’s a completely different story.
The vote in November took place on an amendment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D, CA] to the 2013 National Defense Authorization bill (2013 NDAA). It was designed to overturn Sec. 1021 of last year’s Defense bill, which provided congressional support and formal codification for the military’s presumed authority to detain American citizens who they suspect of being terrorists without charge or trial.
“An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States,” the amendment stated. Read more
I spend a fair amount of time on the Twitter micropublishing service, sharing links & ideas – to follow along, just click “subscribe” in the left-hand sidebar: Read more
Today is day one of the lame duck — that biennial tradition in which Congress, including dozens of lawmakers who were just given the boot by voters, come back into session one more time to try and finish up the year’s work. Lame duck sessions are notorious for producing results that are satisfying to basically no one. There’s no reason to expect anything different this time around.
The big topic of the lame-duck session will, of course, be the fiscal cliff, a series of tax and spending adjustments that are scheduled to take effect at the end of the year. Most economists agree that allowing the fiscal cliff to take effect would basically send our economy back into a recession, so Congress is likely to do something before that happens. It’s unclear how things will shake out, but the most likely ending is that Obama caves and the Bush tax rates will be extended once again, and a lot of the scheduled spending cuts will be put on hold. Read more