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Government Politics

The First E-President 169

Szentigrade writes "Popular Science is running a letter by Daniel Engber of the online Slate Magazine in which he offers the US Presidential nominees advice on using the full potential of the Internet upon their election into office. Some examples discussed in the letter include: a project already being developed that speeds up the patent approval process, a UK site that aims to improve government-citizen interactions, and perhaps most importantly, a call for government information to be 'presented in a standardized and widely used data format, like XML, so that anyone — in or out of government — could use and reconfigure it however they pleased.' Will 2009 be the first year of the E-President?"
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The First E-President

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  • by russlar ( 1122455 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @10:04PM (#25550183)
    He's just starting to learn to use "the Google". And YouTube? He thinks the internet is just a big truck you dump everything on!
    • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @12:42AM (#25551119)

      The last thing that the neo-cons want is for more government-citizen interaction and less secrecy in their more 'sensitive' actions. The less that the citizens know, the better! All this government-citizen interaction just gets in the way of what they believe a government is supposed to do: give away hundreds of billions of dollars to sleazy corrupt hedge-fund managers and mercenary corporations, and to then just disappear when it's completely broke (along with everyone's pensions and 401-K plans).

          Would anyone want to be entrusted to have to try and explain anything technical to Sarah Palin? The first DAZ-MO president (dumb-as-shit mommy)! God, I've got hundreds of them trying to drive their space shuttles (huge SUVs) around town, occasionally flipping them over and crashing into poles because they haven't quite mastered the art of feeding the kids, dialing the phone, changing the DVD, and driving a huge truck-sized vehicle in dense highway traffic.

          And a Palin presidency? Just tell her that "this is what America wants and needs", make a huge payoff to the people who are really deciding the policies, and walk off with the billion-dollar no-bid contracts. Two months of a Palin presidency and even the staunchest liberals will be begging the military to take over the country. Just don't shoot us, please. Shoot them, instead. You know who we mean.


      • At this point the odds of a McCain presidency range from slim to nonexistent, depending on who you ask. According to CNN's electoral map, Obama has 192 electoral votes all but guaranteed, and can count on 85 more from states that are likely to go his way, giving him 277- and he needs 270 to win. So even if McCain wins every single red state, every single state that is leaning Republican, and all the races that are too close to call, he's going to lose. The Intrade prediction market predicts that Obama will
        • by dpilot ( 134227 )

          There are some tens of millions of voter registrations that have been thrown out over the past few years, predominantly by Republican secretaries-of-state, and predominantly from demographics that favor Democrats.

          Throw out enough of the right (or is that left, or is that wrong) votes, and McCain can still win.

          Chads and butterflies had little to do with the Florida results in 2000. Bush won because Katherin Harris, in the name of voter fraud, threw out some 30,000+ voter registrations in a wide dragnet looki

      • sleazy corrupt hedge-fund managers

        Like Chelsea Clinton []? Absolutely, the only respectable professions are either a teacher [] or a museum-worker [] (with the possible additions of working with AIDS patients in Africa []).

        I wonder, what you think of fashion designers [], though... Are those Ok?

    • by readin ( 838620 )
      Obama ran an ad about McCain not using email. A little bit of Googling on Obama's part (does he know about Google) would have informed him that McCain has trouble typing because of his war injuries. Perhaps McCain will be more sensitive to the needs of physically challenged Americans than Obama.

      As for McCain's ability to handle technology. Before becoming a Senator he operated in real time some of the most sophisticated machines on the planet. As senator he has been called the "Senate's savviest tech
  • Maybe you mean OOXML, that's definitely for documents.

  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @10:10PM (#25550239)

    If the "E" stands for "ebony", then yeah, probably.

  • in previous elections, grassroots fundraising was small time. dean certainly created buzz in 2004, and $, on the internet, but by far, obama has shown that internet fundraising is a tsunami. it dwarfs the old-boy network and other sources of funding

    i think a lot of us lament the influence of money in american democracy. but i think this is the first election you would ever have republicans siding with that sentiment

    • I've seen claims that Obama's average donation size is $80 and that he has refused corporate donations. I've heard McCain refused corporate/lobbyist money too, but nothing about donation sizes and sources.

      But what I would really like to see, from a place like, is a comprehensive breakdown of funding for both candidates by size, demographic, time frame and 'outside influences' like corps that lean on their employees to donate to a candidate or just a PAC - including the RNC and DNC and any oth

      • by Orne ( 144925 )

        But what I would really like to see ... is a comprehensive breakdown of funding ...

        The problem is, the Obama donations have been shown to not even implement the simplest of credit card validation. Their software readily accepts made-up names and addresses, gift cards, and doesn't even filter for credit cards sourced by American accounts (which is a violation of campaign finance laws to have contributions from foreign countries).

        • In early October, citizens [] began reporting fraudulent donations made to the Oba
        • my comment would bring out the partisan hacks

          • by Orne ( 144925 )

            Did you even read it?

            • Obama is a tool of foreign money!


    • Sorry to sound redundant, but let's not forget Ron Paul's record gains that one day. (I forget when it was)
      • by Firehed ( 942385 )

        Yeah, but that record I'm pretty sure has been broken several times by Obama since.

        I still wonder what the political ads would look like today had Paul somehow managed to get the Republican nomination (not that I honestly believe that the people whose votes actually count would have voted for him, regardless of the primary results). And I really wonder what the people who still approve of Bush would do, once they get out of the hospital for aneurism treatment of course.

    • by dpilot ( 134227 )

      As an aside, several have pointed out that Obama's site didn't do decent credit card validation, leading to the possiblity of fraudulent donations. I guess I can't fight that allegation, but I will bring out an important point about it.

      If there are fraudulent donations, there is no possibility for quid-pro-qou.

      In other words, maybe Obama is getting extra money because fraudulent donors anticipate that they will prefer his policies, but that is completely different from the case of donors making large contr

    • Um, you do know that the Republican candidate for President is one of the foremost sponsors of legislation to "get money out of politics"? That's why the most recent compaign finance law has his name on it.
      Additionally, I have seen several sources where people were able to donate to the Obama campaign with false names and addresses. There is no evidence that the Obama fund raising is made up of small donors. The only thing we know for sure is that is made up of small donations.
  • by Zouden ( 232738 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @10:16PM (#25550283)

    The government has a problem giving information to the people, so it decides to use XML... now it has two problems.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Suhas ( 232056 )
      Don't remember where I read it but....
      XML is like violence, if it doesn't work, use more.
      • by Firehed ( 942385 )
        It's crazy-verbose, but I think that kind of unnecessary clarification would be good coming from the government.

        Well, until you actually see the results:
        <law>screw you</law>

        I guess it would be a start anyways. No more spending $150k on wardrobes when you can just give a freelancer $150 for a new XSL, at the very least.
      • XML is like violence, if it doesn't work, use more.

        It's a sig of a regular here. Can't remember who though...

      • by Luyseyal ( 3154 )

        Those angle brackets do look pretty scary...


    • Better than inconsistently formatted HTML, if you want to parse it programmatically.
  • It won't work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robably ( 1044462 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @10:20PM (#25550315) Journal
    From personal experience of the UK gov petitions site - many times over - it has no effect whatsoever. It's a sham, a deflection for discontentment, a way of saying they are listening to your concerns without actually doing anything about them. All that happens - no matter how many thousands of signatures a petition gets - is that it ends and then a boilerplate response says how they understand your concerns but you're wrong. It has as much effect as all the millions of protesters in London had on us going to war in Iraq. It makes you realize how little say you have and it's very depressing. As has been said before about voting - taking part only legitimises a corrupt system.

    The real "full potential of the internet" is that it allows the government to ignore people on a more massive scale than ever before.
    • Re:It won't work (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mkiwi ( 585287 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @10:36PM (#25550401)

      As has been said before about voting - taking part only legitimises a corrupt system.

      Not trying to be too harsh here, but you would rather do absolutely nothing and ignore the problem rather than try to fix it in any way you could?

      • Re:It won't work (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @11:35PM (#25550755)

        Refusing to legitimise the broken system by taking part *is* doing something. With enough weight behind it, non-participation can cause a lot of change.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Refusing to legitimise the broken system by taking part *is* doing something. With enough weight behind it, non-participation can cause a lot of change.

          Yes, in the direction opposite of reform, unless you are willing to take up arms.

          I'm reminded of the first primes in SG1. They participate in an inherently evil system, but as they train their successors they teach them how to introduce moderation to the goa'uld's despotic tendencies.

          They could choose not to participate, but the snake head would just find someone else to do it, and that soldier probably won't have those values.

          By choosing to participate and do what little they can, they save thousands of l

          • Re:It won't work (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @05:19AM (#25552225)


            Sorry, but I don't buy that at all. Slow change from within is nonsense in the current situation, where embedded interests are perverting society slowly but enjoying the support of the citizenry.

            Were it a totalitarian state with dictators, yes, people willing to work within the system might help.

            Right now?

            Dems or Repubs are going to keep on winning. The only protest possible is to stay home.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Actually, the reason things are getting bad is because america is refusing to elect the alternating unified governments they did in the first half of the 20th century.

              Back then, things got done, and got done better.

              Republicans would get upwards of a decade, then democrats.

              This allowed them to actually implement, in full, their policies. They and the public got to see how they played out and apply correction where necessary.

              In a gridlock situation, or one in which unitary governments fluctuate every 2-6 year

        • by Nick Ives ( 317 )

          And I'm sure you can point to lots of examples where people changed the world by doing nothing?

          The reality is that inaction wont lead to change. If you want something different to the world we have now you have to get organised with other like-minded people, agree on what your alternative is and then work really fucking hard to achieve it. Staying at home wont solve anything and you're deluded if you think it will. People in power will just tell any journalists who ask that low voter turnout is a sign of ge

      • Yes, I'd rather not waste my time and effort on boot licking these management assholes to get things changed only to end up where I started, which is no where.

    • by Nursie ( 632944 )

      Agreed. It's the same crap you get from your MP when you write to them. A form letter that misses the points you raise and tells you that they know best so shut the hell up.

      The website just allows them to do it to everyone at once. It's a total scam.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Philotic ( 957984 )

      As has been said before about voting - taking part only legitimises a corrupt system.

      And not taking part allows the system to do whatever it wants with impunity. Do you suggest we relinquish what power we do have and suffer the consequences? Human systems will forever be imperfect. Refusal to participate guarantees that power will be in the hands of the most corrupt. I refuse to stand idly by while history unfolds itself without contributing my own efforts, however small they may be.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nursie ( 632944 )

        No, not taking part weakens the system to the point that change must happen because the government no longer have the mandate of the people.

        It weakens the government and makes some sort of societal reset more likely and widely supported.

        Not taking part is a legitimate political action, whereas voting not only gives your mandate to one or other set of sheisters, but continues to prop up and legitimise a broken system.

        • We must all come together and reset society by not organizing or legitimizing candidates who reflect our values in any way with our votes. The more obsequious the populace, the more threatened the ruling class. Am I doing this right?
        • actually this is not true.

          Systems like fascism and feudalism arise because a significant portion of the population actually support them.

          hitler didn't seize power alone.

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      I keep saying it : what is needed is a switzerland-like constitution amendment. There, if a petition about a law proposition gets signed by a proportion of the population (1%, 0.5%) a referendum has to be held. If the "yes" wins, the proposition becomes law. Yes it would scale (Switzerland population is a several millions and it works fine for more than 150 years). No people would not vote things like "no tax" because as they would really be asked their opinion in a meaningful way, they would get interested
    • by Mjec ( 666932 )

      The real "full potential of the internet" is that it allows the government to ignore people on a more massive scale than ever before.

      The full potential of the internet is in making information accessible. Imagine it - budget drilldowns from full budget down to agency expenditure. Everything that should be visible under FOI just a few clicks away.

      If this is done properly - and that's a big if - we could have the data automatically available. We could have truly transparent government. Anything put on file is instantly available online, unless it's given a security classification. Too much for you? How about just file indices. Knowing what

    • Your argument for greater action on petitions fails in the same areas as does the argument for a direct democracy (just above in this thread).
  • by Devil's BSD ( 562630 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @10:36PM (#25550399) Homepage
    Maybe they'll even appoint a Secretary of the Internet! []
    • Maybe they'll even appoint a Secretary of the Internet!

      Boy are you going to dissappointed when you read Part 2 [] and find out who they pick.

  • could use maybe a pdf, but I'm thinking xml makes tracking data changes too difficult. So:

    1) put the US budget proposals, including all the fat and pork online for one week before it gets a vote or passage
    2) put all expenditures (except the dark stuff) online in lists that can be viewed; maybe streamed.
    3) mandate all legislation gets to be downloaded for one week before it can be voted on, for public scrutiny
    4) mandate all trade agreements, and all bi-lateral information is published for a week prior to sig

    • by SL Baur ( 19540 )

      Wanna read something scary? Pick any one of the above.

      Am I missing something? Those are all positive things.

      Or did I miss your sarcasm tag?

  • from the Internet?

    Do we really want Anonymous Internet Trolls giving the next US President advice? That will lead to things like making "Chocolate Rain" as the new National Anthem and making it so that Plan9 is the official and only operating system to be used for the government and instead of being called The Commander In Chief the President will be called The National Idiot in Command.

    Good grief! They might even try to change the US Flag to a Goatse or Tubgirl motif. :)

    Anyway, yes we do need a standard fo

    • Good grief! They might even try to change the US Flag to a Goatse or Tubgirl motif. :)

      No, they'd never go that far. They might, however, change our symbol from the American Eagle to a pony. OMG! PONIES!!1! LOTS AND LOTS OF PINK PONIES111!!!!!11!!!!!lll

  • I'd love to see a congressional voting site where you can vote on X numbers of issues that come before the congress, before they come before the congress. Congressmen could then use or ignore that information when making decisions.

    Of course, that congressional divergence would be online for all to see. You could even see the %divergence between various senators and your personal votepoints on the issues. Does Feinstein really agree with your POV? Does Liberman? Now you can know.

    • by SL Baur ( 19540 )

      Does Feinstein really agree with your POV? Does Liberman? Now you can know.

      Di Fi represents only herself and her husband, though no one seems to care. I doubt putting up yet another website will change matters much. California is much changed from the days I grew up with Governor Reagan at the helm.

      Senators are pretty much tenured for life, unless they do something really stupid like Larry Craig themselves. Wide Stance's "crime" was being registered Republican not Democrat and NOT just for playing footsie in the bathroom ...

  • You know, I'd like to be a power broker too, but I'm just as irrelevant as this douche.

  • This is what I have proposed in OnlineGOAL [] - the Online Government Open Accountability Ledger.

    Opening up the (massive) pocketbook ledger of any level of government is going to significantly improve accountability for where the taxpayer's money flows (both in and out).

    Contact your local representative and find out when they're going to support this proposal (for whatever country or level of government they are in).

  • That UK site... (Score:4, Informative)

    by QJimbo ( 779370 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @07:06AM (#25552693)

    a UK site that aims to improve government-citizen interactions,
    Hahahaha. Have you ever read any of the replies to the petitions on the no.10 e-petitions site? I don't know of a single one that actually worked. Usually it's either "we're already doing this, honest" or "you don't understand the benefits of what you're signing against!"

    It really serves no other purpose other than to make people think they're doing something when really they're not.

  • People who run for office by saying:

    I don't need hundreds of millions of dollars to run for national office. Communicating via the internet is much cheaper than buying media time, and doing it this way doesn't leave me obligated to rich donors. Choose me based on my policy ideas, not how many times you saw my face on TV this week.

    Every time you see a billboard, a full-page ad, or a TV spot, you should be saying "Who paid for that, and how much of the candidate do they own as a result?"

    Maybe this will be p

  • We've seen people like Cheney and Palin intentionally avoiding email and other traceable electronic records. Plus dubious claims of "losing white house backup tapes". (No IT shop is perfect and some mistakes happen.) The internet is seen as the modern version of the watergate tape recording system. It could return to haunt politicians operating illegally.
  • Does anybody remember the first telephone President? Or the first steam President? Or the first TV one? (Clearly, Joe Biden doesn't []).

    Using/not using the Internet should not be the criteria...

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama