Thursday, August 25, 2005

DFNYC Research And Advocacy Group

I look forward to our meeting on the 31st. This kind of activism speaks to me. I am not "just a writer," or "just a thinker." I have been at the very forefront of electoral politics at times in the past. But for now all my political energies go to the movement for democracy in Nepal. And my personal career focus is on entrepreneurial stuff. But there is no curing a political animal. And even to entrepreneurship what I take to the table is vision and group dynamics. And the process of crafting legislation is of major corporate interests to me. As you can see, there is a lot of inter-connectedness. And DFNYC has been homebase of sorts to me in this chosen city of mine. The city's social progressive thrust speaks to me very personally. And DFNYC sits atop it.

"Where there is no vision, the people shall perish."

I am really interested in "the vision thing," as Bush 41 puts it. I think there are two aspects to it: the vision, the tools.

Vision is of central importance. And I took a first bite at it here: The Three Pillars (October 25, 2004). I feel the need to elaborate on that theme.

I first want to talk about the tools. Actually it is one tool: blogging! Oh my god, there is nothing like it. Fast forward backwards to the Howard Dean 2004 campaign. If Dean's 600,000 core supporters were all avid bloggers with the blogging tools available for free today - text, links, audio, video - old media would not have had the option to massacre the campaign. Dean's famous I Have A Scream speech, it beats me to this day as to how anyone could have been offended. I don't get it, I never did. I don't know if it is cultural because I grew up in a culture where people are loud, quick to celebration, where people wear colorful clothes, and I mean primary colors, not the American mainstream drab.

But imagine if only 20 people in that room that day were video bloggers, and online people had the option to watch the entire thing, the party in the foreground with all its noise: things might have turned out to be different. I am an avid video blogger myself.

This is really powerful stuff, because campaigns spend more money on TV ads than on any other thing. What a waste! Imagine if the next progressive presidential campaign has to spend NO money on TV ads! What then? Does that make us super competitive?

Every volunteer should be a blogger. I recommend Google's Blogger. Other than that Google is the sexiest company on the radar right now. One, when you blog at Blogger, the Google search engine immediately indexes your stuff, and that makes all the difference, since search engines are the most used "road signs" today. And there is a search engine just for your particular blog in the top left corner. That is the sexiest thing about Blogger. Links are copy and paste. I recommend you insert Google ads onto your page. Blooger beats Flickr when it comes to photos. Look at this cutie taken by yours truly: Flickr does not offer that large size, full screen option. Google's audio and video are both free, and you don't have to worry about memory space, it's infinite, and sure you can take them anywhere on the web, but why not keep it all in-house? And with Google's resources, they keep improving the whole thing on a regular basis. I think they should work on integrating MathML: but that is just me.

Blogging is fundamental. It means every single person is a potential media house with a potential local/national/global audience. This is huge.

But there is one thing that is more important: it is Face Time. There is screen time, and there is Face Time. Our in-house LinkUps are a great idea as are MeetUps. I think we should keep using both. LinkUps are for the veterans and the hard core. MeetUps are for the uninitiated and the casual onlookers. And both merge.

As we work on this Research and Advocacy stuff, I think we should make use of both Face Time and Screen Time. Best part about that: it keeps things really flexible. Individuals have the option to give as much or as little time as they want without feeling they are missing out on things because they did not show up for all the events. And I don't believe we ought to duplicate stuff. That is where links come in. If there are progressive think tanks that have done good work on specific issues, we should just link to those articles from our blogs. And we should link to each other's blogs. That's another thing that is good for your blog in the search ecosystem: the more sites and blogs that link to you, higher up you show.

Once we have this basic frame, then we can start talking. I feel like I have already made my main points online. So for me Face Time is more about listening to others. But you don't want me to get started on the talking thing. My blogs are proof I am on the verbose side.

For now, of the Three Pillars, I would like to focus on just the first one.

Democracy is a simple concept: it is one person one vote. And America does not have it.

I think I invented the concepts of total, transparent democracy and non-violent militancy.

  1. Total, Transparent Democracy: All political deliberations are to be posted and archived online as all votes that make decisions when consensus might not be possible, all expenses the same. Political parties are publicly funded based on the principle of one person, one vote.
  2. Non-Violent Militancy: To never resort to violence, but to use words like they were bullets, to use organizational acumen like knives, to use communications technology to the maximum, to use money with utmost efficiency, to always know the importance of message, to make the best use of dialogue and coalitions, and to use the state apparatus to great effect once acquired.
This is from my Nepal blog. But it can be applied anywhere, I think.

Just look at New York. Not far north from here in Boston several hundred years back a group of concerned people started a revolution with the slogan No Taxation Without Representation. That revolution founded a country called America. But in New York 40% of the people who pay taxes can not vote because, err, they are not "citizens." That has got to be offensive. The Mayor takes your money, but he does not need your vote. How ridiculous is that?

Maybe the idea of voter registration should be abolished. Instead there should be voter lists prepared by the state in a scientific manner to make it as inclusive as possible. All you got to do is show up at the polling booth. And there should be a law saying noone should have to wait more than half an hour at the polling booth. Right now they make people in the poorer districts wait hours. Is that a deliberate discouragement? I think so. That is racist.

Electoral votes should be abolished. Let the president be directly elected. How is that for democracy?

For the Nepal situation, I have suggested totally taking money out of politics. I think that could work wonders here too. (Proposed Constitution)

Let the country be divided into 100 constituencies of near equal populations for the seats in the Senate. No need to take consideration of state boundaries. They are imaginary anyways.

Lack of statehood for DC is an obscenity. If DC can represent the entire country, it itself needs to get represented in the Congress.

I think we could talk of several more specifics like that, but the concept is rather simple: one person, one vote.

So two words: blogging and democracy. That's what I want to touch upon right now.

Some Deaniac is getting into the White House in the 2010s. I think it is going to be Obama: the greatest political event of 2004. What do you think?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Simplifying Social Security Debate

I am no expert on the topic, and do not so pretend, but the outlines are quite plain, I think.

The Republican Party is no longer a small government party. They have been spending, and spending, and spending some more. That is what happens when you give all three branches of government to one party.

Deficits and debts are not good things. They can be temporarily incurred, but not forever. I don't know for sure why the Roman Empire collapsed, but America looks set to lose its number one position by overspending and overborrowing. The party is not going to end with a bang, but a whimper. You can't swipe a credit card forever.

On Social Security, instead of debating if the money thus collected should at least partly go to private accounts, why not encourage the rich (and famous) to save part of their earnings towards the same end? The stock market can always use some more money. That is how stocks go up, when people pump in more money into the stock markets. The demand and supply sometimes cuts itself off the real earnings and value of a company.

So you leave the social security tax for the purpose it is intended, and you encourage people to save in addition. You could even design tax credits and tax write-offs to thus encourage savings.

Social Security makes mathematical sense, statistical sense, just like car or health insurance. As soon as you drain away the pool, you are draining away the collective benefits. In non diplomatic talk, the Bush talk on Social Security Reform is an ideology taken too far, too much to its logical end.

There is parallel here between private accounts, and school vouchers. I am all for competition, but it should not be done in a way that students who are already strapped for resources will end up with even less resources. Vounchers, by definition, will benefit a select few at the expense of many others.

This is not to suggest I tow the Democratic line on these two issues. I don't.

The Republicans are wrong. The Democrats have not offered alternatives. Homework time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Some Suggestions To The Cesnik Campaign

I just got an email from Eric to "grab some beer" later on to talk more about "Dean as Goldwater." I spent a major part of today mulling over his campaign. And now I get to write it up.

Hillary once said her class at Yale Law School was full of people who were going to change the world, but "Bill" was the only one who actually went ahead and ran for public office.

I think Eric has potential. The mere fact that he is running for public office is a big step. I laud him for that. Over time I will get more of a hang over city politics, if only for entrepreneurial reasons - municipality provided citywide wireless broadband is a vision to which the City Hall will be key - and I might as well prepare some ground now.

Education came across as a major personal passion for Eric in my talk last night. And that is something with ramifications much larger than his particular district. Local is global. To run for City Council in a city that is the capital of the world is anything but local.

Eric, I am so impressed with some of the things you have said about the subway. How many New Yorkers actually go to City Hall? How many even go to parks on a regular basis? I like your suggestion that the subway is the most shared public space in the city, and has to be treated as such. A transformation could really strengthen the "we" feeling around here.

And some of your thoughts on public transportation and the city roads as more than "a thoroughfare for traffic" could have wider applications.

But enough rambling. Let me get to the point.

This is the bluest of the blue cities, but this election does not have to feel like it is a choice between Coke and Pepsi. Although it is a choice between Democrats, the differences are quite obvious. As a DFNYC-endorsed candidate Eric is the only one really trying to involve people in a real way. It is an involvement more intimate than that of machine politics. That is a key distinction.

Some Suggestions To The Cesnik Campaign

A typical New Yorker is mostly working. How do you reach them? I think there is face time, and there is screen time, and there is in between. The campaign is doing a great job with all three.

I would like to focus on the screen time part a little. The Cesnik campaign website is a great one. If it can end up in enough inboxes in ways that it will get looked at, that might be an effective way to get a lot of the non-political types to come out for him.

How about visiting all the bloggers in the district listed here, and going to their comments sections and imploring them to come out for Eric? The excited ones will email their personal circles, and that might get a viral campaign started.

Google spread word of mouth. They did not do ads. Not that there is anything wrong with ads.

This is in addition to actually meeting people in person, which has to be centerpiece.

Another suggestion would be to have a more engaging blog. Every event you do, take plenty of digital photos, even video clips. That way those who can not, did not make it to an event can also feel like they were there, almost. An example that could count for a shameless plug: Alliance Gathering At Queens Bridge Park.

An engaging blog also provides space for people to speak out more.

I hope to get involved myself. I think it would be great fun to drop by the office whenever. It would be great to meet and greet people by the roadside.

Eric Cesnik For City Council

Today I went to my first DFNYC Mixer. It is like this social event. MeetUps are to get the work done. And then you have this Mixer once a month. It is supposed to be more like a party. But I also saw a lot of work done.

There was this great vibe. Lots of introductions.

I met Eric.

Eric is one cool dude.

He was a top notch student at Dartmouth and at Harvard Law School. He was at some midtown law firm. And then he showed up for a MeetUp. This was one of the earliest ones. One where Howard Dean discovered Howard Dean. Next thing you know he moved to Vermont to become a full timer with the Dean campaign. He is one of those inspired people I read about when Dean was glowing hot, like people who biked across the country for Dean.

He is from Madison, Wisnconsin, a sister town to Bloomington, Indiana. A progressive island. I have been to Madison a few times. There's this really cool Nepali restaurant close to downtown.

And now he is running for City Council.

We talked about Dean. I said he might end up the Barry Goldwater for "our" side. Ronald Reagan claimed to have been inspired by Goldwater. Dean's impact might last a generation.

I am a I-don't-have-a-job-I-don't-want-a-job kind of aspiring entrepreneur. A rocket burns a lot of fuel during take off. But I hope to make some time to volunteer for Eric's campaign. There is a convergence between the fun of meeting people, and volunteering for Eric.

I am getting caught up with this thing. I mean, I consider myself to be a political person, and Dean is great, but I feel more comfortable with global and national politics. DFNYC has been a culture shock to me. I meet foreign names at every meet I show up for. And these are supposed to be major names. The office of a Public Advocate: I had never heard of such a thing. And the office is supposed to be second only to that of Mayor. Talk about Mayor, even the Bloomberg name feels provincial to me. Issues? I am like, the subways keep running. What could possibly be wrong?

But I will learn. These people will make sure. DFNYC has become sort of a homebase for me in the city. It sure is drawing me in.

Monday, August 08, 2005


I just got this wonderful forward in my inbox.

Letter to Red states from California

Dear Red States,

We're ticked off at the way you've treated
California, and we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get
Opry Land. We get Intel, Mac and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms. Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in
Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire. With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope wi
th 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you. Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazies believe you are people with higher moral standards than we lefties.


Blue State Member,



Friday, August 05, 2005

Dumb And Dumberer: Creationist Bush

Nothing puts me off like this easy litmus test. I have zero room for creationists. It is like someone said to a creationist arguing evolution is but a theory, so is gravity, so why don't you fly away!

Of course evolution is but a theory, that is the beauty of it. It is a sound theory that has so far stood the test of time, and is always open to the possibility it might get toppled by some better theory down the line, but that "theory" is not never going to be creationism, because creationism is not a theory, it is religious dogma.

So if God created the world in six days, is it six days or is it seven days? The Muslims say it is seven days, I think. So which is it?

The creationism Bush subscribes to is a religious concept propounded by one specific (of many equally valid) religions, or more accurately a sect within that religion, for many within that same religion do not let their minds get befuddled by the nonsense debate.

Evolution is a scientific theory. And so only another scientific theory trying to make sense of the same set of facts can compete with it. Creationism is not it. And so the two can not be said to compete. There is no debate, at least there is no intelligent debate on the issue.

What gets me though about creationists is that their stance on the issue is a symptom they deep in their hearts do not really have room for religious diversity. That is seriously problematic. And so Bush goes on record saying "if there were a law that would make people love each other, I would sign it." Meaning racial strife will just have to be plain tolerated. That is regressive.

Presidents come and go. Charles Darwin stays on.

Tracey Denton Of DFNYC

When I moved to NYC a few months ago, primarily looking for a "hometown," but also to reengineer my career path and go back to dreaming big, I made a point to give myself a fresh start socially. And guess what I turned to first: MeetUps.

The Dean surge got me to MeetUps. And I stayed on. I "landed" in Indianapolis early last year hoping to dig into the MeetUp phenomenon, but the city was not my size. It was a little too small for me. And so I "took off" again a few months later.

NYC is a different story. And the Dean connection landed me at the DFA MeetUps. I looked for the one with the most members - East Village - and just plain showed up, is all it takes. Last night was my second show-up.

And at DFNYC you have people like Tracey Denton. Getting on a first name basis with her has been another Hollywood moment for me. It is like meeting Scott, the CEO of MeetUp.

Tracey is razor sharp, and she is on a first name basis with the man himself, Howard Dean. I still don't believe it, but facts are facts.

I think I witnessed this Bill Clinton moment with Tracey last night. She hosted the East Village meetup. And she was so good with names. Reminded me of this Bill Clinton moment from one of his biographies. So Bill Clinton, this southern boy from Arkansas, comes to the East Coast to read a few books, and homeboy goes back to homestate to run for public office. Some of his contacts arrange a meeting for him with the local business leaders who might contribute to his campaign. Maybe 20 people are in the room. He leans over to the guy next to him and quietly asks for the names of all around the table. For the rest of the evening, he is addressing everyone in the room on a first name basis and surprising them. There is another story about Billie Clinton. The guy used to learn names at college the way students preparing for the SAT might learn words from the dictionary.

And so Tracey Denton is picking up names like there were cherries spread all over the room. Topping it off with names of people in Congress I had never heard of and have since forgotten. The only name I recognized was Charlie Rangel, so guess who I sent my letter to during the letter writing campaign segment of the meetup.

An ongoing conversation on every issue on the progressive blanket with everyone in the room. And I am like, wow. The obvious leader of a structureless group, designed to be, supposed to be structureless.

Not to say all the grunt work away from the glamor of Dean going "Where is Tracey? Where is Tracey?" at a public event.

I am just so delighted to be part of the conversation. A new guy in town figuring things out entrepreneurial, personal, political.

On The Web
  • Tracey Denton | Dean for America 2008: Pledge your support Because Howard Dean can win and can bring much needed change to our country. His record on healthcare, fiscal responsibily and many other important issues, along with his honesty, make him just the sort of candidates that Democrats can respect and America will support. I think it is clear that the standard strategy of the Democratic Party, chose nice boring polished candidates, is not working.
  • - Faces of Dean Nation from All 50 States :: Coming ... Tracey Denton continuing her tireless effort on behalf of Dean Dozens candidates in NYC. ... Tracey Denton (at right) chats with other Dean Democrats. ...
  • Elana & Elena's Blog 'Peter Acocella encountered Democracy for NYC at two letter writing parties at Phyllis Weiner's apartment with Tracey Denton. Along with other concerned New ...
  • New York's Premier Alternative Newspaper. Arts, Music, Food ... like artillery shells rooting out the last pockets of a tattered resistance army ....... As members speak of sister cells across town–"Has anyone been in contact with Brooklyn about Saturday?"–the scene smacks of nothing so much as a defiant underground guerilla group entering its final hour....... The soldiers of hellskitchen4dean–a subsection of nyc4dean–are, now as then, the true Deaniacs. With their money, time and energy, they sparked and helped sustain the Dean explosion of 2003. And tonight the loyal troops are vowing to continue the fight, if not for the nomination, then for convention delegates; if not for convention delegates, then for the future of the Democratic Party......... Until Dean throws in the towel–still an unspeakable thought–they will fight. Hard. Like the sewer rats of the Polish Underground, hellskitchen4dean is low on ammo–the group has only four bumper stickers left–but is determined to engage the enemy until each has died an honorable death against the "Kerry machine.".......... Manhattan theatergoers are discussed as if they are a vital Dean constituency......... "Remember," says one young woman, "Dean’s mother is a big supporter of the performing arts. This is a good thing to mention, especially to women." Tracey Denton, the high-energy leader of the cell, agrees that this is a good point......... The critical condition of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign has both toughened the group’s resolve and loosened its grip on reality....... "The DNC used the words ‘meet-up’ yesterday for the first time!" ...... Blitzer officially declares Dean a "distant third" at 18 percent....... Tracey Denton begins her long grapple with denial. "Wait–this could be good," she says, turning frantically from face to face. "An Edwards victory could slow down the Kerry machine!" ....... If anybody agrees, nobody says so. Nor does anyone walk over and grab her by the shoulders, shake her and scream, "Godammit woman! Get a grip! It’s over! It’s fucking over!!" .......
  • [PDF] * . CIAC : TCILDTC
  • April 6th Meeting with Howard Dean - New Democratic Majority ..... Tracey Denton (NDM Political Outreach Director), and I met with Howard Dean for 45 minutes at the Time/Life building in Midtown on Tuesday afternoon....... in the same spirit of pragmatic idealism...... He said that the reason progressives have been losing again and again is because we keep killing each other over semantics, or in Ted Kennedy's words, "letting the perfect become the enemy of the good." ....... We concluded the meeting with a group photo that we are now having digitized .....
  • Equal Exchange - Java Jive #25, Fall 2003 A Quality Investment by Tracey Denton, Equal Exchange investor
  • [PDF] [Working Title: Comparative Institutional Analysis in Cyberspace ...
  • The New York City Anti-Police Misconduct Meetup Group - "I worked on the Dean campaign here in New York City, and I'm now working with another political organization, and I would like to connect with other New Yorkers to find out how we can make police brutality an issue in elections."
  • Blog for America Tracey Denton, Executive Director of Democracy for New York City, spoke with Ronnie M. Eldridge on CUNY's Eldridge & Co. program about her involvement in the Dean campaign, Democracy for NYC politics and NYC politics in general. You can view the 30-minute segement in RealVideo or listen to audio-only in QuickTime.
  • - Faces of Dean Nation from All 50 States ... I always tell people that tracey Denton is the only person I know who speaks quicker than I do , and that's saying something
  • Denton County, Texas - Denton County Most Wanted
  • :: Athletics :: The University of New Mexico ... Tracy Denton has been a cheerleading coach at UNM since 1996. She is a graduate of the University of ...