Monday, February 13, 2017

The launch of civ.works


We believe that our society is too often divided into political teams, polarized and paralyzed. We see a wave of negative political ads, stories of corruption, and simply tune them out in an effort to disenfranchise ourselves. We see government—not as a group of people that represent us—but as people separate from ourselves as citizens. We might feel the wealthiest Americans are not taxed fairly. We might feel overburdened with taxes, debt and regulation.

We claim the other side lives in a bubble.

The other side claims we live in a bubble.

This one-sided divide, however, isn’t always present. At times of great tragedy, for instance, we see the compassion and generosity of people who open their hearts to those suffering the consequences of an earthquake, flooding, or fire—regardless of party lines. During such times we see people around the world coming together as one, all sharing the same sky.

It’s not just in moments of tragedy when these divides close. Looking  inside a classroom and seeing children of different races, genders, and belief systems learning together shows how unified our country can be. The observation of two different families living under vastly different circumstances, yet yearning for the same things, immediately tightens the divide. Ultimately, we all want many of the same things: Safe, good tasting drinking water. Smog-free air to breathe under a blue sky. Opportunity for our children to receive an education, and learn a trade or a profession that leads them to live better lives and have more opportunities than past generations.

These are some of the thoughts behind civ.works. The idea that there are more things that unite us than divide us. That we want similar things for our families and our future.

WHAT WE HAVE BUILT
We are building a comprehensive web and mobile social platform for civic engagement. The social part of civ.works has launched. It is a privacy-protected, invite-only social network.

  • Privacy-protected means we do not sell your data to anyone. Your profile data, your likes, your comments and posts are all yours. This is very important. Many of you may know that political operatives used the data from major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to further manipulate and divide us with fake news and propaganda during the most recent election cycle.
  • Invite-only is important for a few reasons. We think it will help us control the number of people that sign on to social media to simply troll and and disrespect others. It also helps us cautiously grow and plan our data center needs so we can provide a good, responsive experience for the civ.works community.

The service costs $3.99 per month to use (however it is free to members of the academic community with .edu email addresses).
This is because we don't sell advertising or your data. When you sign up,you are helping us cover the costs of a small core staff, the hosting expenses, and most importantly:completing the rest of the software engineering for a comprehensive platform.

WHAT’S COMING NEXT
Next month (March) we will launch the "Action" part of civ.works.

Regardless of the party in power, a new administration leads to  policy changes that impact a variety of issues, including:
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Climate
  • Voter rights
  • Civil rights
  • Immigration
  • Women's Rights
  • Retirement security
  • Environmental issues
  • Foreign policy
  • Taxation
  • Local employment

If any of these issues are important to you, civ.works is the place for you to take action. We understand that with each issue there might be twenty different organizations competing for your time and money. There are a lot of civic action-based organizations out there, and the worst case scenario is a case of "action fatigue".

That’s why civ.works will focus on providing you with time-sensitive actions, aggregated and presented to you with clear options so you can engage t with only  the issues most important to you based on location. Instead of trying to keep up with many different lists,emails, or Facebook groups, civ.works makes civic engagement as easy, organized, and succinct as possible for the entire community.

Later this year we will add the "Aspire" part of civ.works. This is where we bring people together, to build consensus on the issues we have in common and work together toward societal outcomes, -whatever the issue,and regardless of political side. We don't believe you have to be a Republican to want a growing economy and you don't have to be a Democrat to want to enjoy a clear blue sky.

We hope you will join us and become part of our growing civ.works community. We are building something very powerful—together.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Once more unto the breach, dear friends




As we struggle with an effective way forward there are critical areas I will be working to address -and am happy to collaborate with all that believe as I do (regardless of political ideology) -that the incoming Executive Branch represents a clear and present danger to America and the world.


1. Protect and defend: When I think of our most vulnerable -I think of the impoverished, people of color, undocumented workers, refugees, Muslims, indigenous people and the LGBTQ community. I must now add a whole new sector of people -scientists. I had some recent discussions with people on the research edge -working to solve horrific disease such as ALS and Parkinson's or addressing catastrophic climate change. They are now under very real threat of being fired, ostracized or worse -without the protection they once had by our Federal government. These are people we should celebrate as heroes. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican -regardless -these brave men and women are trying to ease human suffering, improve our quality of life and help guide our decision-making so there is less risk to people and planet. I am deeply disturbed by this horrific new attitude toward those dedicated to the furtherance of human knowledge.

2. Educate and Inform: In a well-informed (predicated upon fact, not propaganda) and educated society -we would not elect and provide nuclear codes to a failed game show host. While some have said to be patient with the President-elect -his choice of Steve Bannon -and every Cabinet post selection has created nothing but extreme concern (with the possible exception of someone with the nickname "Mad Dog") -we know that there will be no room for negotiation -the intent is to assail American society on all fronts to serve as a distraction for the real objective -the consolidation of wealth and power. There must be meaningful conversations everywhere about the role of politics and economics in our daily lives -predicated upon facts. It can't just be in university classrooms or the left talking to itself. People do need to understand that when WalMart enriches its shareholders by $6.8 billion dollars while WalMart workers file for $6.2 billion in relief from poverty -THAT IS A TAX -and a tax of the worst kind -an externality. It is not creating value, strengthening America or growing the economy -it's merely moving money from working Americans to the wealthiest Americans. I am evaluating emerging platforms that provides a chain of custody for the flow of information such that it is not opinion built upon a foundation of propaganda to look like news.

3. Focus on Outcomes: When we begin from purely a liberal or conservative perspective and argue about social welfare versus corporate welfare, forests versus jobs, taxes as an investment versus taxes as a burden -what is it that we are really saying? I do not know any liberals that want a system that rewards unemployment. I can't think of any conservatives (with the possible exception of Dick Cheney) that would say -go ahead and inject toxic chemicals near our drinking water supply. We must work to agree on the results we all want for a strong, growing and united America. When we shift to outcomes -we have far more in common then when we argue about specific policy. Let's get back to what we have in common as Americans -then let's look at the best path to implement legislation and economic policy in a manner that is accountable, transparent and participatory for all.

4. Achieve Scale: A handful of people can help influence -however ultimately it is masses of people necessary to drive imperative change in government -in a sustained way. We will not agree with everyone on everything. We must remain focused on the greater good and remain united. Divided we are marginalized and conquered. One minute we are arguing about an email server -the next minute Rex Tillerson is being given the keys to the White House -and to drilling for Oil in the Arctic and everywhere else. Betsy DeVos is placed in charge of the public education system she seeks to destroy. We must understand the big picture. I will not get everything I want -but I will still work shoulder to shoulder with you to strengthen America and to improve the quality and dignity of life everywhere.

I'm presently looking at open source technology components and how to quickly amass capacity to build a platform for both on and offline methods to address the points above and am grateful for all that seek to extend, evolve and participate.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Wake the f*ck up America ...



















With the CIA report about Russia hacking both Democrats and Republican servers (but only releasing Hillary/Democrats email), Trump imploring Russia to hack Hillary's emails, Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort's ties to Russia and reporting of Trump computers communicating with Russian based computers -
How much additional evidence do we need to know that Trump encouraged Russian interference in the 2016 election, at a minimum people working for Trump had a financial stake in a favorable relationship with Russia and then Russian actors did interfere with the election.



During Gore v. Bush -as battles to stop the recounts by then Governor Jeb Bush, Secretary of State Katherine Harris and others -Democrats meekly accepted the results of a clearly tainted election -and as a result, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, two wars with no exit strategy, subsequent chaos in the Middle East (that we are still mired in today) and our economy on the brink of collapse.
Are we going to sit around and do the same thing 16 years later? The future of our children and grandchildren are at stake. We need a clear understanding from the President, the Department of Justice, the NSA and the CIA to assure us that we will have an elected President -not the installation of a Russian puppet.
The Electoral College should be legally precluded from voting until a full scale and thorough investigation is complete and that we have a path forward in these uncharted waters. Simply shrugging our shoulders and moving forward with Trumputin is spitting in the face of everyone that has suffered, bled and died for our aspirations of democracy.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Election 2016 -The Autopsy Report














The biggest failure I see is the continuing lack of resources for a sustaining engine for progressives/liberals. We have never developed a well-funded counter to the Lewis Powell memo -which built and continues to provide the engine for the GOP political machine that grows more powerful in every election cycle.

We continue to react to every fire that is started -instead of bringing together labor, environmentalists, women's rights organizations, youth groups, the LGBTQ community and many more. We work in silo's. We've abandoned some Red states completely.

Ask yourself this -in a well-educated, well-informed society could Trump (or a Tom Cotton, or a Dennis Richardson) happen? Could Oregon Measure 97 lose?

We can blame superdelegates. We can blame Hillary, We can blame Bernie. We can blame the DNC. But at the end of the day -we fund candidates. We provide resources (to great groups that deserve them when they are under siege -like NARAL Pro-Choice America or Planned Parenthood). But what are we doing really?

We are reacting to every battle in every cycle -trying to convince a less educated and less informed populace why progressive/liberal ideas are better for all of us. We give up or laugh at people with "Government out of my Medicare" signs. I do it. However -they each represent OUR FAILURE. When people think government is our problem (when we the people are government). When people believe that the Affordable Care Act is standing between them and affordable health insurance and actually causing rates to climb (without the understanding of the relationship between Insurance industry or Big Pharma executive pay and bonuses).

We will send $27 to Bernie. We will send $27 to Hillary. And that's still important -but we are reacting. The time to become proactive was after the 2000 cycle. It's been 16 years and what have we done? What have we built? Courageous people like Sheldon Drobny and Anita Drobny founded and built Air America -they poured their heart and their own resources into it -and it paved the road for two terms of President Obama. But when they tried to raise money for progressive media infrastructure -who was there for them?

We need a media platform, rapid response capability, a people's counter to ALEC (the people that unleashed "Stand Your Ground" -never forget Trayvon Martin), and an easy method for all of us to participate and engage politically and economically (participatory democracy and budgeting). The tools we need are out there -but if we don't bring them and people together -and fund the effort -we will be fire fighting until we are all consumed by fire. http://civ.works can help build a platform for our future -and bring people together across ideologies -and you may think it's an interesting concept -but will you help us fund it? Will you contribute $5, $10, $20 a month to help proactively build OUR machine -while I personally continue to reach out to Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, Revolution Messaging, Represent.us, the State Innovation Exchange and others to work cooperatively?

When we lose school board races and the right wing controls the textbooks -how do we reach into communities and counter the redaction of climate change? The removal of slavery, the trail of tears or other history from our textbooks in which our societal actions have been horrific (because they are not "patriotic" enough) is abhorrent.

We need our version of the "machine". And it doesn't mean we give up what we are doing -our architecture needs to allow local autonomy and action -but provide the mechanism for all of us to work together in a coordinated and cooperative way. If we don't begin now -we will continue to erode any hope or chance for the America we know we could build for the future that is possible -predicated upon opportunity, justice, courage and community.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Democratic Courage


Since 2003 I've been imploring progressive Democrats to produce a brief media piece that reclaims the values we share. We have allowed the right wing to frame us as "weak".


  • The reality is -we are not frightened of democracy -we encourage voting (as we've done in Oregon and California).
  • We are not afraid of refugee's seeking shelter from horrific violence against themselves and their children.
  • We are not afraid to pass laws -not to take people's guns away -but to do all we can to keep them from terrorists and criminals.
  • We are not afraid to trust women with decisions about their own bodies.
  • We are not afraid to demand that corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes.
  • We are not afraid of taking bold action to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • We are not afraid to protect retirement security for our seniors.
  • We are not afraid to properly invest in education and build a lifelong thirst for knowledge and truth in future generations.
  • We are not afraid of people that love or believe differently than we do.
  • We are not frightened of facts or science.
  • We do not hide behind walls, gated communities or fences.
  • Don't mistake our kindness and compassion for weakness or fear.
We are indeed, stronger together.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vote to Defend



















It's pure mathematics at this point -as described by Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis. You are either voting to preserve hard fought progressive wins dating back to and including the New Deal -or you are voting to blow up America.
And when you blow America up -who will suffer? Those with millions in offshore accounts? Or those that will die from hunger -because the Paul Ryan budget has cancelled food stamps. Those that die of disease -because the ACA has been repealed. Women that die from infections -from a coat hanger.
This is not about punishing the DNC. This is not about years of right wing attacks and innuendo. If we lose -the America that we all hope for will be gone forever and replaced with the Wal*Mart/Hobby Lobby/Exxon version that will persist for generations.
I know there are many who care deeply and see things from a more idealist and/or purist perspective. Nevertheless this a battle that has been fought over generations -sometimes we can go on offense -and make great gains (as society did in the 1960's). Sometimes we have to defend -while preparing for another assertive push.
My read is we must defend now. Failure to do so will obliterate any chance we will have -when SCOTUS is stacked with conservatives that believe the pursuit of profit and wealth is a priority over quality of life. When religious doctrine is held to be supreme -over civil rights and separation of church and state.
November 8, 2016 is a major battle -in a long unfolding war for the soul and direction of America. Some may think we can simply wait it out. However after the Reagan and post-Reagan concentration of power and wealth -we must defend with our votes now; and then build a strong progressive machine together. 
If we allow ourselves to be divided we will be crushed -and the America that is possible will forever be lost.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Indivisible We Are Invincible














I often consider America’s  future and how far apart so many Americans are -whether it is Trump vs Hillary, GOP vs Dems, Greens, Libertarians -I thought it important to weigh in with my observations.

We seem to have lost our way. We argue vehemently for Trump or for Hillary. Or some argue Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We fight about "Big Government", immigrants, guns and abortions.


When I think of all of the ways we are divided -the phrase that keeps returning to my mind is "focus on outcomes". And when we do -suddenly -we become united again.

Consider the following:
When we think of America's future -we know the world is a rapidly changing, competitive and volatile place. If we want a strong America -one outcome we need is to make sure our education system is among the best in the world. We know how to accomplish this -smaller class sizes, great teachers, curriculum focused on teaching and inspiring children to want to learn more throughout their lifetime.

When we think of campaign finance -no one I talk to wants candidates that are bought and purchased by the wealthiest Americans. Regardless of political side -we want political integrity as an outcome.

Regardless of how you feel about guns -we should all agree that the outcome we want is to feel safe in our homes or in our travel. And we don't want terrorists, the mentally ill, or criminals to possess weapons and use them against innocent Americans or law enforcement. We don’t want all of the accidental deaths we read about almost daily when a child finds an unlocked gun in the home.

Together we respect our elders -after a lifetime of work and responsibility -we want to make sure they have the financial resources they need to have a decent lifestyle -with affordable access to healthcare, housing and transportation.

None of us wants a "Big" Government. We want an effective and transparent government that is responsive to us -that provides the common services we need for all of America, Oregon and Lincoln County.

When we turn on our kitchen faucet -every American wants safe, good tasting water for themselves, families, friends and community -not a flammable toxic sludge or water tainted with dangerous chemicals. Similarly -when we breathe our air -we don't want our lungs to burn, eyes to water -taking in some dangerous pollutants from a nearby plant or refinery. When we buy food –we want food that is fresh, safe and free from dangerous chemicals.

Together we believe in an America where if every person works hard -they can improve the quality of their own life and family.

We believe there is great beauty in America –our coasts, rivers, valleys, mountains, forests and national parks. It’s part of what makes America a special place –and we believe in preserving and protecting them for future generations of Americans.

Most of us believe in the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty --"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" -we accept those fleeing from horrific violence with open arms and without fear.

We may have very different ideas about how to achieve the results we want -and that is what Democracy is about. We honor the fact that we can decide these things with our vote -and not with violence. America is not about Kings, Queens or Oligarchs. It is about all of us talking about what our vision of America is -and then electing people to represent us in shaping that future -while we stay involved to make sure they do represent our interest and vision.

Let’s stop yelling over each other with political slogans. When we consider and talk about the America we know is possible –we won't agree upon everything however I think you will find we have far more in common than not. And when we unite –together we can get closer to realizing the American dream for ourselves, families and communities.