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January 18, 2012

Via Hacker News (not closed, greyed-out): For those looking to make a quick phone call to your representative about SOPA, it doesn’t get much easier than this. Get your own widget here.

2:32 // 2 years ago
January 17, 2012
Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February. I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property.
Rep. Lamar Smith • Noting that he will continue pushing SOPA hearings next month despite widespread frustration against the bill. “To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America’s intellectual property,” he writes, “we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy.” So yeah, SOPA not dead, just dormant.
16:09 // 2 years ago
January 5, 2012
Kennedy comeback? A new generation plans a Congressional run
A family legacy continues: A Kennedy has held a high position of power in D.C for 63 years - until the passing of Edward Kennedy in 2009 and the retirement of his son Patrick in 2011. Joseph P. Kennedy III has decided to run for Congress to fill the gap. The Spanish-speaking Stanford and Harvard Law graduate hopes to fill the Congressional seat of Barney Frank. He’ll have some big shoes to fill, in more ways than one. source
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A family legacy continues: A Kennedy has held a high position of power in D.C for 63 years - until the passing of Edward Kennedy in 2009 and the retirement of his son Patrick in 2011. Joseph P. Kennedy III has decided to run for Congress to fill the gap. The Spanish-speaking Stanford and Harvard Law graduate hopes to fill the Congressional seat of Barney Frank. He’ll have some big shoes to fill, in more ways than one. source

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22:53 // 2 years ago
January 4, 2012
Obama: Forget Congress; Richard Cordray’s my consumer agency chief!: Obama named Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a recess appointment while Congress was out of town. Some feel Cordray’s stalled nomination was less about Congress’ dislike of Cordray but their hatred of Dodd-Frank. source Follow ShortFormBlog

Obama: Forget Congress; Richard Cordray’s my consumer agency chief!: Obama named Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a recess appointment while Congress was out of town. Some feel Cordray’s stalled nomination was less about Congress’ dislike of Cordray but their hatred of Dodd-Frank. source

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10:51 // 2 years ago
December 23, 2011
John Boehner feeling pressure from caucus over payroll tax-cut fracas
Boehner also felt pressure outside his caucus to not listen to his caucus, because they were about to hand Obama the election. All sorts of pundits have been saying this. For example, Karl Rove: "I think the speaker retains the enthusiastic support of the vast majority of the people in his caucus. And the people who … in the last couple of days who have been upset with him are in no place to mount any kind of a coup or a leadership attempt." Protip, John: Listen to Karl Rove.

Boehner also felt pressure outside his caucus to not listen to his caucus, because they were about to hand Obama the election. All sorts of pundits have been saying this. For example, Karl Rove: "I think the speaker retains the enthusiastic support of the vast majority of the people in his caucus. And the people who … in the last couple of days who have been upset with him are in no place to mount any kind of a coup or a leadership attempt." Protip, John: Listen to Karl Rove.

20:34 // 2 years ago
December 22, 2011
Three ways Web sites and users have been protesting SOPA
People upset with the Stop Online Piracy Act have a small reason to cheer this morning. The anti-piracy bill, which many Internet users feel could have a chilling effect on the Web, got tabled until early next year, giving a brief respite and an opportunity for alternative bills (such as Rep. Darrell Issa’s OPEN act) to gain footing. Being a creative bunch, many users have taken to design tricks, boycotts, even music to protest what they feel is a dangerous bill. Here are just a few examples of SOPA protests online:
one Scribd, taking a bit of a cue from Tumblr but even more ambitiously, made the articles on their site disappear yesterday, word by word.
two A number of Reddit users have begun a movement to move domains away from GoDaddy en masse, in protest of their support of SOPA.
threeLeah Kauffman, the  songwriter who wrote “I Got a Crush on Obama,” just released an anti-SOPA protest song titled “Firewall.”
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People upset with the Stop Online Piracy Act have a small reason to cheer this morning. The anti-piracy bill, which many Internet users feel could have a chilling effect on the Web, got tabled until early next year, giving a brief respite and an opportunity for alternative bills (such as Rep. Darrell Issa’s OPEN act) to gain footing. Being a creative bunch, many users have taken to design tricks, boycotts, even music to protest what they feel is a dangerous bill. Here are just a few examples of SOPA protests online:

Follow ShortFormBlog

11:18 // 2 years ago
December 20, 2011
20:42 // 2 years ago

More on Intranet Quorum and Congress

justspeakeasy:

Ok… this is incorrect. This image is depicting the IntranetQuorum function for sending mass emails or letters (“batching”). The mechanism for receiving email is similar, yes, but with the sheer number of emails a given Rep gets daily, it’s not the most impractical program. On the average day we were getting between 400-1000 emails from Constituents. This system aggregates all the emails and saves them to the sender so it’s easier to respond to them. They are printed and every single one is read and sorted into an appropriate category so it can be responded to (the Rep I worked for aimed for a 100% response rate, we even had a form letter for people who sent him hate mail). No, it may not be as sexy as google, but why does it need to be? I’d rather see them make it more efficient that more aesthetically pleasing (for instance, they could easily be sorted into categories using keywords before they are read, especially considering 90% are just form letters). 

This is such a weird thing for people to have latched on. 

» SFB says: A couple things: We did some looking but could only find the one screenshot, the same one that the original article used. Had we had more options, we would’ve posted multiple screenshots to give the full thrust of the app. Given our options, though, it got across the point, which was not about the specific menu but the overall app. Second of all, the author of the piece is looking at the software from a user-interface perspective. Some of that is good design, but theoretically a good design should lead to a better user interface. But here’s the key thing: Why can’t representatives choose what works best for them, instead of something farmed out to a large government contractor? Because, you know, it’s likely that given the option, an open-source program available for free (considering we’re trying to save money …) would offer better functionality, efficiency and ease of use than an app that looks like it came to being during the Clinton administration. It’s 2011. Why doesn’t this app tap into Facebook or Twitter? While we see where you’re coming from, ultimately, Congress should have better software to do this job. Even if it makes sense after a while, a confusing interface is just another roadblock for end-users. — Ernie @ SFB

(Source: informationdiet.com, via amour-joie)

11:04 // 2 years ago
How Congress reads your e-mails
Earlier this week, we posted this wonderful Vice Magazine piece called ”Dear Congress: It Is No Longer OK To Not Know How the Internet Works,” which took Congress to task for not understanding the ramifications of SOPA and bending too quickly to lobbyists. But a funny thing happened on the way to ripping Congress a new one: Clay Johnson wrote a brilliant response titled “Dear Internet: It’s No Longer OK to Not Know How Congress Works,” in which he points out the structural problems that might cause Congress to focus more on lobbyists than actual constituents. “Lobbyists can manage the attention of our Representatives because they have the time and the resources,” Johnson writes. “But I’ve never met a member of Congress who liked constantly begging for money so that they could get re-elected. Nobody wants that.” He points out that this horrifically-designed software above, a Lockheed Martin product called Intranet Quorum, is how Congress reads constituent letters, and that contracts prevent them from going with something else. Not nearly as sexy as Gmail, is it? No wonder lobbyists get more mindshare than voters, right? There is a huge lesson here to take from BOTH articles. Read them both, if you haven’t. (EDIT: We got a good response to this, which we wrote back to.)

Earlier this week, we posted this wonderful Vice Magazine piece called Dear Congress: It Is No Longer OK To Not Know How the Internet Works,” which took Congress to task for not understanding the ramifications of SOPA and bending too quickly to lobbyists. But a funny thing happened on the way to ripping Congress a new one: Clay Johnson wrote a brilliant response titled “Dear Internet: It’s No Longer OK to Not Know How Congress Works,” in which he points out the structural problems that might cause Congress to focus more on lobbyists than actual constituents. “Lobbyists can manage the attention of our Representatives because they have the time and the resources,” Johnson writes. “But I’ve never met a member of Congress who liked constantly begging for money so that they could get re-elected. Nobody wants that.” He points out that this horrifically-designed software above, a Lockheed Martin product called Intranet Quorum, is how Congress reads constituent letters, and that contracts prevent them from going with something else. Not nearly as sexy as Gmail, is it? No wonder lobbyists get more mindshare than voters, right? There is a huge lesson here to take from BOTH articles. Read them both, if you haven’t. (EDIT: We got a good response to this, which we wrote back to.)

10:16 // 2 years ago
December 19, 2011
In case you wanted an excuse to rip out your hair this morning, here you go: House Republicans balked on the Senate’s payroll tax-cut extension, which passed their chamber without issue on Friday but now is suddenly the target of 11th hour drama in the House. The Senate’s already gone home, so re-herding the cats would be very tough at this point. But on the other hand, Democrats can easily pin the blame for this one. Anyway, House Republicans: Do you guys not know the definition of “Christmas”?

In case you wanted an excuse to rip out your hair this morning, here you go: House Republicans balked on the Senate’s payroll tax-cut extension, which passed their chamber without issue on Friday but now is suddenly the target of 11th hour drama in the House. The Senate’s already gone home, so re-herding the cats would be very tough at this point. But on the other hand, Democrats can easily pin the blame for this one. Anyway, House Republicans: Do you guys not know the definition of “Christmas”?

9:11 // 2 years ago