Tea Partiers do the Open Source Socialist Thing

Can code be political? If so, what does it mean that a new Tea Party site is built on Open Source software. Could their rigid opposition to all things collective be softening?

Diversitea home page

As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reports, the Tea Party is trying to demonstrate that the movement is more than a bunch of Angry White Folk and actually includes people of various backgrounds and ethnicities.

Tea Party leaders Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, both of the national advocacy group FreedomWorks, were discussing the movement’s success while having coffee with reporters this week, when one of the questioners asked about the Sept. 12 rally in Washington, yet another Tea Party event distinguished by a sea of white faces.

“I’m glad you brought that question up,” replied Kibbe, “because we have a project that we’re launching this week called DiverseTea.” He said DiverseTea would highlight “African Americans, Jews, Hispanics, others that have come to this movement, because there is this nagging perception that we are not diverse.”

They’ve launched a Web site to demonstrate such diversity and as of yesterday, Milbank tells us, “the list of ‘Diverse Tea Partiers‘ on the site had reached a grand total of five.”

The list is now eight (60% growth in a day!) but what catches our eye is the site platform. 

The site’s built on WordPress, the open source CMS, and the design is the freely available WP-Creativix Theme created by IWEBIX

There’s conspiracy in here somewhere. Opponents of Open Source say it’s anti-capitalist and if there’s one thing Tea Partiers love, it’s their capitalism. 

So what gives? Next thing you know they’re going to jump on the Net Neutrality bandwagon.

Rhode Island Politics

The joy of watching local political races heat up.

While waiting for NFL pregame, I’m watching a riveting debate on local NBC Providence with the candidates who are running for Congress from the 1st District in Rhode Island.

David Segal, who looks about 24, is the most articulate of the candidates.

Current Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline seems like kind of a douchebag from my first TV impression, principally because he pulled one of my least favorite politician moves. The last time I met / talked to / watched a Providence mayor on TV was during the Buddy era, so this was my first look at Cicilline.

After David Segal said he wants to bring the troops home and stop spending on the war, except for expenses which relate to support and protection of the troops, Cicilline then talked about what made him different from David Segal and said something to the effect of, “what makes us different is that I support our troops.”

Fortunately, the moderator called Cicilline out on the fact that his opponent had just said he supports the troops and wants to continue to provide funding to support them, both in battle and when they return home, to which Cicilline responded that he didn’t mean to imply that his opponent doesn’t support the troops. He then reiterated that the difference between him and Segal is that he supports the troops.

WTF?!?

Um, either you’re incompetent (retarded was my more offensive word) and can’t understand what other people say, or you’re disingenuous and intentionally choosing not to listen to others and misconstruing what someone else says.

Bill Lynch, another candidate at the debate, seems like a decent guy.

My brother then called and distracted me with software development chatter for the next 20 minutes.

As for the RI District 34 race closer to home, the one thing I know is that I wouldn’t vote for my next door neighbor in Narragansett, David Caprio. Sometimes, people who are politically powerful & connected do things that are so audacious that you can only surmise their egos are so big that they think they are above the laws of the land, or of common sense (see: Edwards, John).

I’ll bite my lip on what my beef is with the Caprios, tweedle dee (David) and tweedle dum (Frank), but I’d vote for David’s opponent, Teresa Tanzi, in a heart beat, and I don’t even know who she is. I’d also vote for Lincoln Chafee for Governor, who is running against tweedle dum.

Hopefully, our house won’t “mysteriously” burn down for saying that….

I will give the Caprios one thing, I did a lot of my most prolific underage drinking at the Coast Guard House. Thanks fellas for making The Coast Guard House a notoriously college kid friendly drinking establishment for so many years 🙂

Ok, time for Pats / Bengals…

Landline, Meet Dinosaur

As surveyors of our civic, cultural and political life continue to rely on landline-only polls, the portrait they leave of the public is increasingly skewed. A full 25% of the American population in now mobile-only.

The landline is going the way of the dinosaur

During the last half of 2009 approximately one quarter of US households used mobile phones instead of landlines, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The trend towards household mobile has been going on for years. Take, for example, a survey size of me: I haven’t had a home landline in ten years or so.

Need a larger sample size? Here’s what the NHIS has to say:

The percentage of adults living in wireless-only households has also been increasing steadily [see Figure below]. During the last 6 months of 2009, more than two of every nine adults lived in wireless-only households. One year before that (i.e., during the last 6 months of 2008), 2 of every 11 adults lived in wireless-only households. And 2 years before that (i.e., during the last 6 months of 2006), only 2 of every 17 adults lived in wireless-only households.

The percentage of children living in wireless-only households is also growing. In fact, for this population, the 4.6-percentage-point increase from the first 6 months of 2009 is the largest 6-month increase observed since 2003, when NHIS began collecting data on children living in wireless-only households.

And for the visually inclined, the NHIS provides the following handy timeline:

Other eye-catching statistics from the research shows that 49% of adults aged 25-29 live in a mobile-only home, while 30% of all US Hispanics are cellphone only.

While the landline to mobile trend will continuously affect how we communicate, receive and share information, more interesting — and more profound — is an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

It seems that pollsters and other surveyors of national life generally rely on the traditional telephone to conduct their research. It’s simply much less expensive to do so. As Pew points out, with large numbers of US household now off the landline grid, “non-coverage bias” creeps into polls of all sorts.

From Pew:

For some estimates, even a small amount of bias may have important substantive consequences for the political or social implications of the research. Since the decline of landline coverage has not been uniform across demographic groups, non-coverage bias among certain subgroups may be even larger than for the full sample. As a result, some key subgroups in surveys based only on landlines may be severely underrepresented.

Since we’re in an election year, let’s look at two political polls and how they effect news coverage.

  • In polls of landline users only, Republicans lead generic horse races. Once cellular-only adults are included, these races become dead heats.
  • When sampling both cellular and landline users, more people approve of President Obama’s performance than disapprove. Limit the poll to landline users and equal numbers approve and disapprove.

Polls drive political coverage and in general most polls referenced by major media exclude the mobile-only population. Pew shows that such exclusion has a significant effect on overall results which in turn shapes the news narratives we see bandied about as accepted wisdom.

With the mobile-only trend growing, it appears that “reality-based” coverage of our civic and political life will grow more skewed with large segments of the population unaccounted for.

How to prevent that? It’s a matter of dollars and cents. Money that pollsters are well advised to spend.

Former Huffington Post CEO Tells All

Register to attend our next live video webcast, a sit down interview with Betsy Morgan, former CEO of The Huffington Post and Avner Ronen, the opinionated founder of Boxee, a fast-growing media aggregation and social networking startup.

Provocative titles get attention.

Now that we have it, register to attend our next live video webcast, a sit down interview with Betsy Morgan, former CEO of The Huffington Post and Avner Ronen, the opinionated founder of Boxee, a fast-growing media aggregation and social networking startup.

This free video webcast is on Wednesday, July 15th.

Register now to get in on the conversation.

You can watch past episodes of Naked Media here.

Ask a Republican

I subscribe to the Adam Carolla podcast. I was walking down Market Street in San Francisco today, in the sweltering heat, feeling like I was on a death march.

I was walking down Market Street in San Francisco today, in the sweltering heat, feeling like I was on a death march, and listening to the Adam Carolla podcast on my iPhone.

Since I was staying in the business / tourist center (Union Square), I went on an adventure to find an interesting neighborhood to explore. 45 minutes later I was still walking down empty streets, not a cute neighborhood in site.

Fortunately, I found a coffee shop on the corner of Page & Octavia, where I’ve planted myself all afternoon. My noontime coffee turned into an early afternoon iced coffee, which itself turned into a late afternoon beer.

Anyway, today’s guest on the show was “Republican Congressman” Richard Martin. About 5 minutes in to the hour long episode I stopped, sat down, and contemplated skipping this episode for the next one. The guy was so horrible.

Fortunately, I didn’t skip to the next episode. It took me about half the episode to realize that Richard Martin is a character, similar to Stephen Colbert.

I’ve been watching some of his clips on Youtube. Funny stuff. Here’s one:

His web site is Ask A Republican.

Anchorman

I’ve always thought it would be brilliant for CBS to replace Katie Couric with John Stewart to deliver the nightly news like it’s never been done before. News Anchors just read the teleprompter. It would be nice if they delivered some objective commentary as well.

I’ve always thought it would be brilliant for CBS to replace Katie Couric with John Stewart to deliver the nightly news like it’s never been done before. News Anchors just read the teleprompter. It would be nice if they delivered some objective commentary as well.

On the one hand, network anchors deliver the facts without any commentary. On the other, Lou Dobbs sounds like a whiney broken record. Bill O’Reilly obviously comes across as totally partisan.

John Stewart delivers the facts and has an opinion, but his opinion doesn’t grate on me.

That is my John Stewart man crush moment.

In Case You Haven’t Been Paying Attention to Presidential Politics

Slate.com has a clever and crafty video that brings voters up to speed on the last two weeks of the presidential campaign, which, blessedly, comes to a close on Tuesday (Nov. 4). “The Power Recap” condenses the final weeks of the campaign into two minutes. It’s all here: Obama’s connection to William Ayers, who co-founderd the radical left organization the Weather Underground; accusations that Obama is going to peddle socialist policies (I thought the Treasury Department had taken care of that with the Bailout Plan); Joe the Plumber (who’s 15 minutes of fame are just about to run its course); Sarah Palin’s hunt for “small-town” America (and her ample budget for wardrobe); John McCain’s mea culpa for cancelling an appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and McCain’s insistence to NBC’s Tom Brokaw that he will win the White House (despite all of the electoral math being in Obama’s favor). Whew. What in heaven’s name are political junkies going to do come Wednesday morning? Remember to vote! It’s not a privilege. It’s a duty.

 

Political Debates: 140 Characters at a Time

Our political dialog of sound bites and gotchas reaches a logical conclusion over at Twitter where the Personal Democracy Forum has organized a debate between the Obama-McCain campaigns on all things tech. Deep and profound positions and answers to looming technological inquiries can be found — 140 characters at a time — over at Tweetboards.

Campaign ‘08: Media and Candidates Mixing It Up (Or Getting Mixed)

Video: Campaign strategists, grassroots activists and media organizations of all sizes are aggressively embracing social media tools and techniques to reach a generation raised online. Are their efforts driving voter engagement? Has video’s ease and availability really changed the game? Is social media leveling the journalism playing field? And has the online conversation about campaign ‘08 reached significant scale or is it just hype?

Campaign strategists, grassroots activists and media organizations of all sizes are aggressively embracing social media tools and techniques to reach a generation raised online. Are their efforts driving voter engagement? Has video’s ease and availability really changed the game? Is social media leveling the journalism playing field? And has the online conversation about campaign ‘08 reached significant scale or is it just hype?

Leonard Brody, Co-founder and CEO, NowPublic
Chuck DeFeo, VP and GM, Townhall.com and Salem News/Talk Online
Betsy Morgan, CEO, The Huffington Post
Manuel Perez, Senior Supervising Producer, CNN.com
Micah Sifry, Co-founder and Editor, Personal Democracy Forum/TechPresident

Moderator: Dennis Haarsager, Interim CEO, National Public Radio

Cause Caller — Get in touch w/ Democracy

Cause Caller uses open source technology to deliver on the promise of a participatory democracy by taking the hassle and difficulty out of organizing phone banks. Users of Cause Caller can create individual causes and associate new politicians to those causes.

Sweet. Caught this cute little wiki-app from Boing Boing called…err, Cause Caller, that allows you to create and dial phone lists for congress-critters based around certain bills, interests, laws, concerns, etc.

From the site:

Cause Caller uses open source technology to deliver on the promise of a participatory democracy by taking the hassle and difficulty out of organizing phone banks. Users of Cause Caller can create individual causes and associate new politicians to those causes.

You basically pick whatever cause your interested in (say, Border Control Laptop Searches) or you create your own from an extensive list of politicians and the committees that they sit on. After that, you simply enter your phone number and you’re on your way to giving politicos a piece of your mind.

Cause Caller will call you and ask you to press 1 to be connected with the first politician associated with the particular cause you’ve selected. The phone will ring, and you’ll be connected to the front desk of that politician’s office. You won’t have to worry about remembering phone numbers or keeping track — Cause Caller will take care of all of that for you. Once you’re done speaking with the first politician, don’t hang up on them, just press the * button. This will move you on to the second politician associated with the cause, and you’ll move down the list.

Oh, this is going to be fun…