Video Of The Week: Larry Lessig On MayDay PAC

In celebration of a huge July 4th in which over 10,000 people collectively donated almost $2mm to get MayDay PAC over its $5mm goal, here’s Larry Lessig talking about why all of this matters.

#hacking government

Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    It might be the money. But frankly I am glad the Republicans are standing in the way of many of Obama’s ideas. They suck. Obama doesn’t “negotiate” in the way Clinton or Reagan did. He proposes, then whines, and wants to dictate. If this group is serious about reforming government; then what they ought to do is shrink the size of government.

    1. LE

      Obama doesn’t “negotiate” in the way Clinton or Reagan did. He proposes, then whines, and wants to dictate.I’ll repeat my comment elsewhere because it’s appropriate to this.Obama pushed that through knowing that “time kills all deals”. And if he didn’t shove it through at all costs it would die over time.So he left no stone unturned and mowed over everything he could to get that deal done.Unfortunately he didn’t realize that by doing that there would be payback from using all the nuclear options that he did. And now we are all suffering from that payback (I don’t mean Obamacare I mean the gridlock that has resulted from shoving through Obamacare).You can’t ride roughshod and expect a large group of people to just bend over and grease up and not even cut their nose to spite their face to get back at you.So, to summarize my general philosophy: You use different negotiating tactics with someone that you are only using once (like the car dealer. I mean who gives a shit what he thinks – go for it! He’s not your friend and he doesn’t matter) vs. someone that you have an ongoing business relationship with. [1] Or play a game on an ongoing basis.[1] This is actually one of the reasons why people in small towns have to do better than people in large cities (like NYC). In a small town there are no do overs burn your bridges and you are done.

      1. JLM

        .To state the obvious — both Clinton and Reagan had been Governors and had had to advance legislation, including balanced state budgets, through negotiation.They both had developed that skill. They possessed that gear.Obama — just doesn’t have it. Whether that is organic or the product of limited experience is not important.Jordan could not hit a curve ball and Obama cannot engage. It doesn’t really matter why.JLM.

        1. LE

          Not to mention this valuable experience that Reagan had:…Street smarts.I would have definitely expected Obama to have more “street smarts” than he displayed. You know all those pickup games and all. But if I had to pick a theory as to why he screwed up here I would say he never ran into any real adversity with the street people he had to deal with. Since he was so clearly above them he must have had a halo that made him not even have to try very hard to get what he wanted. Kind of a curse of the intellectually gifted. Wasn’t it Obama who said he thought he could just sit down with the Israeli’s and Palestinians and “talk it out”. [1]What’s strange though (but maybe not really) is why the people that surrounded him didn’t know any better. I guess this is an artifact of that whole “best and brightest” thing that he was emulating in Kennedy. Or maybe Michelle perhaps.[1] When I was a kid in the 60’s my dad told me something like “the only thing they understand is getting hit over the head there is no talking”. (Could be true for Israel as well of course..)

          1. JLM

            .This cult of personality is a symptom of a narcissistic personality.There is almost no situation I can think of in the Obama administration wherein Obama’s personal leadership has carried the day.The guy even stripped the term “Obamacare” free of his name when it came up snake eyes.He is a thin skinned narcissist.JLM.

        2. awaldstein

          I’m sure you will quibble, but to hold Reagan, the individual who through head-in-the-sand stupidity tempered by homophobia is responsible for the spread of the Aids epidemic, as having good judgement is a huge stretch.

          1. JLM

            .The US took too long to wake up to the epidemic implications of AIDS. This is supported by the numbers regardless of who was President. The numbers are irrefutable.Reagan was good, not perfect.It was not just Reagan it was the entire medical health community. They missed the epidemic looming.JLM.

          2. awaldstein

            You are being way too generous.There was no medical action without drug testing and no testing without the DOH. Blame rests with the leader, no where else.Koch was no better btw.

          3. Dave W Baldwin

            Blame rests with the leader… I like that.So we can’t blame Carter.

          4. awaldstein

            Responsibility rests with those with authority.Blame or not, legacy and results for certain.

          5. Dave W Baldwin

            Just making joke related to “Blame Bush”.

          6. awaldstein

            I get this;)Sorry–deep into stuff already and just super focused.

        3. sigmaalgebra

          > Obama cannot engageYup, succinctly put. Key observation.> It doesn’t really matter why.Good point. I’ve collected lots of detailed info in an attempt to find an explanation, but your statement is correct. Maybe more details on why would add weight to the key observation, but such details, while seemingly explanatory, really have little predictive value. So, basically to heck with the details for ‘why’ and just keep the key observation.

  2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    So I’m not expecting an erudite calm non-partisan response from @JLMEqually I know he has it in him – Would love to hear it

  3. andyswan

    The GOP won elections based on one idea: Stop Obama/Pelosi. This wasn’t an accident.They have done a pretty good job on that promise, and they’ll be rewarded with even more seats this fall.I love “gridlock” in DC. We need less laws not more… A high bar is wonderful for liberty.You KNOW the GOP is on the verge of big wins everytime Plutocrats start whining about “money in politics” and ask for your money to solve it.Money isn’t speech but it can buy a megaphone… There’s no way I’m going to give Fox News and the NYT a monopoly on the distribution of political speech.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      You KNOW the GOP is on the verge of big wins everytime Plutocrats start whining about “money in politics” and ask for your money to solve it.Well said.The illegal immigration surge President Obama prompted will hurt the Democrats in November, as well it should.

      1. pointsnfigures

        They should have compromised on immigration-by letting foreign students that earned a college degree here to get on a quick path to citizenship. That would have been smart policy. Instead, Obama artificially creates a crisis at the border because he hates Texas and Arizona (Republican run) and the Democrats push for full amnesty in order to get more voters. Republicans demonize immigrants and don’t want people on entitlements.

        1. Richard

          Let’s not forget the laws of unintended consequences, supply and demand.

          1. pointsnfigures

            If we used supply and demand as now deceased Nobel winner Gary Becker proposed, we would charge a price for immigration and eliminate all the bureaucracies and rules around it.

      2. andyswan

        Long term winner for them though… Always looking to grow the underclass of dependence.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          > underclass of dependencefor the Democrats and exploitation for the Republicans. Then class conflict, in some cases, deliberate.Obama hates Great Britain, the US, and whitey and very much wants to ‘stick it’ to all three. He’s doing all he can get away with. He will spend all of his ‘political capital’ and leave office right on the edge of being impeached.

    2. JLM

      .Gridlock is also called “checks and balances”.Obama had the Senate and the Congress for two years and he squandered it.JLM.

      1. JonJonJon111

        Obama passed the ACA in those two years, which was a huge legislative achievement. By no means is that “squandering” a majority.Reread the Constitution, and you’ll see “gridlock” is not “checks and balances.” It hurts “checks and balances.” An example of this would be the recent SCOTUS decision, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency. It limited what carbon-emitting facilities could be regulated by the EPA. Regardless of your opinion of the ruling, this should have been left to the Legislative Branch. But because it’s in gridlock, SCOTUS, an unelected group of government officials, was forced to decide upon it. This distorts “checks and balances.” It doesn’t help it.

        1. LE

          Obama passed the ACA in those two years, which was a huge legislative achievement.Thanks for mentioning that because that was certainly one of the roots of all evil.Obama pushed that through knowing that “time kills all deals”. And if he didn’t shove it through at all costs it would die over time.So he left no stone unturned and mowed over everything he could to get that deal done.Unfortunately he didn’t realize that by doing that there would be payback from using all the nuclear options that he did. And now we are all suffering from that payback (I don’t mean Obamacare I mean the gridlock that has resulted from shoving through Obamacare).You can’t ride roughshod and expect a large group of people to just bend over and grease up and not even cut their nose to spite their facr to get back at you.

          1. JonJonJon111

            None of what you said was coherent.But, I’ll ask you this: do you think the ACA is not flawed legislation, but “one of the roots of all evil” (thanks, Larry, for clarifying to me that the ACA is a relative of genocide) because Obama is a Democrat, Obama is African American, or both?P.S. Don’t respond.

          2. pointsnfigures

            I think Obamacare was the wrong way to solve a problem. I also think Dodd-Frank was poor legislation. Both are already having significant negative repercussions on the economy. Any smart Congress and President would repeal both of them, and start over.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            Obamacare was intended to be just politics and to be repealed once Obama was out of office. Pelosi had great fun with Obamacare, but it was about as significant to her as a new fashion frock is to an overly emotional teenage girl. For Dodd-Frank, likely much the same — just short term, feel good politics to be thrown away once the ‘party’ is over.

        2. JLM

          .No question the three day effort to pass Obamacare, unread and on a straight party line vote was a huge legislative achievement.What about the remaining time?Squandered?JLM.

        3. JLM

          .The constitutional lawyer’s record in front of the SC is worth consideration.JLM.

        4. sigmaalgebra

          > Obama passed the ACA in those two years, which was a huge legislative achievement.To Obama, the ACA is just politics and not health care. As was easy to see as he was campaigning for the ACA, he doesn’t care about the health care aspects, e.g., made the gross, sloppy errors that got the big slap down by the American College of Surgeons, long at…but no more — I have a copy of the original. Some of the words were “uninformed, completely wrong, dangerous”. From that and more, Obama just doesn’t care about health care and, instead, just wants to push ‘socialized medicine’ as a principle of politics. He fully expects that the ACA will be repealed soon after he is out of office.The ACA was never designed to be an effective contribution to US health care but just a chunk of politics to be repealed once Obama is out of office.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        Between the death of Ted Kennedy, the sickness of Robert Byrd and the obstruction around the swearing in of Senator Franken, Obama’s “control” of Congress lasted 4 months. From September 24, 2009 (when Paul Kirk was sworn to fill Kennedy’s seat) through February 4, 2010 (when Scott Brown was sworn in).Not two years.

        1. JLM

          .You’re quibbling between absolute control and practical control.The Senate had a lot of left leaning Republicans like Olympia Snow who could be persuaded to wear their underwear outside their pants with the right argument.Obama had practical control if he had engaged.JLM.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            Being willing to vote across party lines by a strong argument to ones personal detriment is called being wise. We need more of that not less.I have met Olympia on quite a few occasions (Maine is a small state), do not for one second think she is a pushover. She is a tough old yankee.

      3. sigmaalgebra

        > he squandered it.In his mind, he ‘used’ it for his goals.

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      I’m watching all this as an outsider from Canada and from the out side I don’t see much”political speech”I just see lots of idealogical extremism !That left/right idealogical extremism looks and feels a lot like the religious extremism between Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, a no limits poison the well affair.You even have the gun toting militias hanging on the fringes.I think I can speak for most Canadians when I say.We love our American neighbours, they are for the most part, the best of neighbours. We rely on your political stability/rationalism and we wish you well.But the whole idealogical extremist thing is just getting scary to watch !

      1. sigmaalgebra

        We deliberately created a dependent, exploited underclass, and now we have class conflict. Obama wants the class conflict to be made more strong, strong enough to make whites in the US the underpowered underclass. Obama hates Great Britain, the US, and Whites. It’s class conflict, and it’s dumb.Many Whites in the US, e.g., ‘liberals’, have ‘white guilt’ (WG) and want to work and work and work to promote the Blacks to assuage WG, have everyone join hands, and sing Kumbaya.With WG, the Whites blamed themselves, but Obama is going a long way to showing the Whites that it was not all their fault.A big problem is, clearly there’s no solution on the horizon so that for the liberal Whites to calm down they will have to accept the ‘differences’ as ‘real’ in some sense, unavoidable, as part of inherited ‘social capital’, as ‘genetic’, etc., and any of those ‘explanations’ are repugnant, to nearly everyone, including me.My solution: Treat everyone fairly or maybe a little better, and otherwise just let be what will be and f’get about ‘why’. The liberal Whites have a way to go to accept this, but Obama is making the accepting much easier.

  4. William Mougayar

    Forgive my ignorance,- are these five to-be-elected Congress members Democrats / Republicans or from a new party? Do we know who they are?

    1. pointsnfigures

      There is only one way to get money out of politics. Shrink the influence government has over our lives. Ban anyone that works for the government from becoming a lobbyist-or if they do tax them at a flat tax of 50% (no write offs). Put every donation online and in a searchable database. There is so much hiding behind different PACs etc. People on the left hate the libertarian Koch brothers, and people on the right hate George Soros.

      1. awaldstein

        Honestly, there is no way to get money and influence out of politics just like there is no way to get it out of life itself.From your local representatives, to VCs with capital, to your investment in your local bar that guarantees a seat at the bar and smiles from the bartender.I certainly agree that government wise things suck worse than I can remember.Finding something pragmatic–gee even a leader that you can believe in is my issue and personal stalemate.

        1. JLM

          .Well said and well played while avoiding the banner of “ridicule”, my friend.I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.I cannot find many leaders in whom I believe who are electable.JLM.

          1. awaldstein

            I disagree with lots but don’t belief in ridicule nor vitriol as productive.I like people who act on their beliefs. I tire of people who hate and kvetch and consider that action.

          2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Voicing complaint is still one step up on resigned tolerance of wrongness – it can be a means to determine common interests and from those other things stem

          3. awaldstein

            People who think that just because they disagree they are invariably right are invariably not worth listening to.Nobody has this figured out.Some act, some talk it out, some complain. I learn from the former. I’m one of the middle category. From the latter I learn nothing.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            Nearly everyone agrees on the importance of a polio shot, flu vaccine, antibiotics, etc. Why? Because the rock solid scientific evidence is overwhelming.Politics? (1) We don’t have rock solid evidence for what the heck to do, even for some case of Pareto optimality (no one can do better without someone one else doing worse, that is, a situation so good that no change can raise all the boats). (2) ‘Politics’ and democracy are a way for people with irreconcilable differences to fight relatively peacefully at the ballot box instead of violently in the streets.

          5. LE

            I tire of people who hate and kvetch and consider that action.Agree. I do as well. Reminds me of all the ideas my dad gave me where he just gave me the idea which competed with the thousands of other ideas I didn’t have time for.But I’ve seen cases of where enough people kvetching causes others to take action and do the heavy lifting.Same way that kvelling can cause action as it, um, influences a child “oy! Syvia’s son!! He’s a Doc Tah! How lucky she is for that!”Along those lines why do we think Harvard is such a big deal?Not because we have personal knowledge (although we might) but because others in the chain of trust have kvelled about it. So it becomes reality.

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Hmmm seems rather an apposite question

  5. Richard

    A new method for building a buggy whip still results in a buggy whip.

  6. Salt Shaker

    Jeez, if I wanted to watch re-runs I’d turn on Seinfeld.

    1. fredwilson

      Maybe you should. This blog is this blog because I post whatever I feel like posting. There’s nobody forcing you to come here every day

      1. LE

        It’s funny when something someone does (for whatever reason they do it) starts to become like a “public trust”.It’s like “not this, that!”As if something that is as popular as (and done by free will like you do this blog) has some obligation to “protect and serve”. You know the comments that start to talk about how you should care about “this” and not “that”.Or spend your money on “this” not “that”.And now, what you write, should be about “this” not “that again!”.It’s like you are Bloomberg and were elected on some platform and you have failed the voters!

      2. Salt Shaker

        It was just a joke, Fred. Perhaps a poor one, but my intent certainly was not to offend. Surprised by your vitriol. Happy 4th to you.

          1. Salt Shaker

            I wasn’t being mean. It was (I guess) a poor attempt at humor. It was a joke about “re-runs” having seen the same video post for 2 consecutive days. I’m a very considerate person, who perhaps does humor badly. I emailed Fred privately. I guess an emoticon would have helped.

          2. Robert Holtz

            Fair enough. It is what it is. You’re right that a simple ;P would have definitely gone a long way to take the edge off of your initial comment. The “Jeez” didn’t help either.To be clear, Salt, it isn’t about you specifically and I fully believe the explanation you’ve since provided. But long ago Fred set down the ground rules for AVC and one of the core concepts is to keep things friendly around here. It just makes for a much easier, more open discourse and it prevents what happens at other blogs where mutual respect is not enforced and people are just flaming each other in the comment fields instead of advancing on the subject matter. The signal to noise ratio gets out of balance and the whole environment disintegrates.I stand up for Fred simply because I always remind myself that he is being unbelievably generous with all of us putting in the time to post things, to share his inner thoughts, and to respond to our many comments and questions. He doesn’t have to do that. He is not our vendor and we are not his customer. We are a guest in his home here. That’s why it is so key that all of us foster an “attitude of gratitude,” if you will.Just keep that mindset in the back of your mind when you post a comment so it informs what you say and how you say it. And again I am not trying to attack you with this response or even to lecture you so much as to invite you into vibe Fred has so carefully crafted. The goal is more overarching to just help us preserve what is so great about AVC. This is a special little hangout online and we are Fred’s guest.Fred has this metaphor for AVC that he is the bartender/proprietor of a friendly neighborhood joint (picture him wiping down the bar counter with his trusty white cloth) but the thing to remember is, the drinks here are free.Hope that helps. Peace.

          3. Salt Shaker

            Well said, thank you. I’ll take your advice to heart.

          4. Robert Holtz

            Thanks back at you and Happy 4th weekend. 🙂

  7. JLM

    .Let’s be clear about a couple of things.President Obama ran two beautiful WELL FUNDED campaigns in which one of the key ingredients was raising a shit pot of money. It was one of three key ingredients for victory:1. Enormous early funding advantage and huge amount of money — first billion dollar campaigns;2. Exquisite use of data driven polling — emphasis on quality of data used to target voters in the right states and the tech driven data shop; and,3. Phenomenal targeted GOTV effort driven by #2 and funded by #1.Shoot, move, communicate = fund, mine data, get out the voters in the states that matter. Win.This is not JLM speaking, this is Axelrod and Plouffe.Money was the fuel in the tank, the lubricant. The messaging was inconsequential. It was getting out the low information and no information voters for whom message is meaningless.When Democrats start suggesting they want the money out of the game it is because they are looking down the barrel of the winning combination but it may be on the other side.If the Republicans remember not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory 2014 is going to be a blood bath. It will be huge and well it should as the policies of the President — 2014 will be a referendum on Obama and his policies as shown by who is inviting him to campaign in their districts NOBODY — are simply not working either in foreign policy or domestically.So, yes let’s get the money out of politics indeed.JLM.

    1. Andrew West

      It’s ONLY about winning. There are no results. Why waste so much time, money and attention?

  8. Duncan Logan

    Doesn’t matter which side you support, which President you prefer, money in politics seems to be killing the political system for all parties, including “the people”.

  9. JLM

    .One wants to be careful in responding to a salon of such nice folks as here at in the spirit of not discussing sex, politics or religion at a dinner party or a wedding but hey who am I not to have a good time on a Saturday morning, no?This is all so goofy and naive as to be laughable.First, let’s remember this is about a law school prof (brilliant guy) who has never been in the trenches of a political campaign who thinks you can get the money OUT by putting money IN. That strike anyone as a bit silly?He is investing $12MM into a maelstrom of almost $2B and he is then going to have to actually message with the big boys. The big boys will eat him for breakfast and still be hungry.It is not enough to have the money, you have to craft the message. Remember Dukakis and the tank — if you can’t find and fund the right message you often fund the wrong message. You can lose elections with messaging even when you have money.Most elections are won today by great GOTV efforts which require the formation of armies of volunteers. You have to know how to run campaigns to understand this.Volunteers are primarily driven by party and candidates. They are not typically driven by a single issue. People do not come out to vote for single issues, they attach that issue to a candidate or party and come out to vote for that candidate. It is the candidate’s name on the ballot.The issues that candidates embrace are those which poll the best. It will be Obama and Obamacare. Not much more. The current polls show no traction for campaign finance reform. None whatsoever.The idea there are five races which are flying under the radar of political pros of both parties and guys like Karl Rove which will actually turn on campaign finance reform is goofy. No such races exist. If they did, Rove would be whipping them with his check book and he’s got a much bigger one.When looking at the polling data marking the battle lines for 2014, its is the economy and unemployment backstopped by a referendum on Obama and Obamacare. Note that no Democrats are inviting the Pres to campaign with them. Speaks volumes.Campaign finance reform is not even on the radar screen of the electorate. This will be a “pocketbook” election inflamed perhaps by the issue of immigration. The guy with a toolbox on his pickup is not voting to admit millions of low paid workers to further erode his income. That is why Cantor lost — he was polling +30% two days before and lost by 10% so somebody got it very wrong.Last point — who is not in favor of campaign finance reform before an election? Who? NOBODY.Who is in favor of campaign finance reform AFTER an election? The guys who lost not the guys who are now being spoon fed by K Street.Good luck.JLM.

    1. fredwilson

      I love it when people ridicule my investments. There is no stronger signal that I got it right than that. Thank you for making my day.

      1. JLM

        .Critical thinking is not ridicule and it is certainly not personal.When there is an intellectual basis for debating any subject better ideas emerge from the wrestling match.As an example — I agree completely with the objective. I disagree with the proposed solution. Why? Only because it is unlikely to actually work.Good debate requires 110SPF.JLM.

        1. LE

          Critical thinking is not ridicule and it is certainly not personal.Well, language like this would be interpreted as parental and ridicule. It’s not what you are saying but how you are saying it. [1] I have to catch myself all the time on that one. I think if you had left this out which was directed toward Fred [2] more or less he wouldn’t have reacted the way he did. (All very entertaining by the way so if it’s any conciliation as long as it’s not directed toward me keep it up.) In any case I interpreted it as directed toward Fred and his idealism by the way. But I think it’s that idealism that has allowed Fred to be successful. Just like my wacky ideas (that others laugh at) has put a bit of money in my pocket (on a much smaller scale obviously).To wit:This is all so goofy and naive as to be laughable.[1] I just replied to a comment yesterday and started it off “What in the world are you talking about?”. Then I realized I was letting my emotions get in the way of my point and I would immediately alienate the person I was replying to. So I toned it down. I mean I read things all the time and my first reaction is “that’s so fucking stupid”.[2] I would imagine that Fred’s dad is probably more similar to my Dad than your Dad. (But who knows). My Dad used to say shit like that all the time. Luckily I didn’t listen to him either. He thought I was wasting time writing to reporters in the 90’s and that paid off in droves. (As only 1 example). He laughed when I started my first business. And so on.

          1. JLM

            .In the spirit of being a peacemaker, I will rebid my cards to play no trump and to substitute:”unfounded and ill advised”for”goofy and naive”.Hopefully this will circumvent the “ridicule” standard.When a college professor professes to tell me that campaign finance reform has some bearing on the conduct of the Veteran’s Administration, an entity with which I have both first hand knowledge and actual field experience, I am tempted to categorize it as, well……….unfounded and ill advised.It has never even remotely crossed my mind the VA is impacted by campaign finance reform when I am waiting in line at the VA. Ever.Real solutions require real knowledge of the real problems, no?JLM.

          2. LE

            Makes more sense now.I think this row is as a result of your “goofy and naive” wording being linked to Fred as opposed to directed at Lessig and, most importantly, not for the reasons you suggested which clearly state a personal connection (and annoyance) to an actual issue of concern. Can’t even begin to imagine the frustration.Use of the “strike” tag would have allowed you to come really close to that line w/o offending Fred. (You can probably leave out the “college professor” part as well for that matter. That’s really not his “crime” after all. That’s more on others for pedestalizing him. If he was a law professor at a no name college nobody would listen to anything he says or did.)Anyway, this way is a good compromise but doesn’t gut the integrity of what you are trying to convey and still allows venting:When Larry Lessig professes to tell me that campaign fiance reform has some bearing on the conduct of the Veteran’s Administration, an entity with which I have both first hand knowledge and actual field experience, I am tempted to categorize it as, well goofy and naive unfounded and ill advised.Use of “Larry Lessig” seems less flip and more respectful and casual. Using “Professor” would seem flip and baiting.That said I now see where you are coming from which I didn’t know before based on the initial use of “goofy and naive” (and thinking it was a critique of Fred which is what I think got his goat). I liked the comment by the way but I understand why it bothered others.

      2. LE

        Want to point out that you are lucky people like JLM say what they feel (and I do that also although not like he does).Paul Graham’s machine is specifically engineered [1] to put dissenters and non sycophants in their place and highly discourages any opinion (randomly it seems actually) from surfacing.[1] Hell banning, outright banning etc.

      3. Guest

        You swung and missed on Americans Elect. I’m not saying the VC-Jesus Christ can’t hit a curve bal, but I’m taking JLM’s side in this beef.

        1. JLM

          .Not to pile on here or put mud in the wound, we are 4 months from the actual electionIf you don’t have your jock on by now — having missed virtually all the primaries — you are not getting into the game anyway.Too little, too late is already a foregone conclusion as to 2014.JLM.

          1. Guest

            The broader point is being a “centrist” is antithetical to being an entrepreneur or an early stage VC, both of which are deeply political and ideological acts, in the best possible sense of those words. “Centrism” is for people who want to appear like deep thinkers — politics as fashion; pseudo-intellectualism at its worst. Being centrist is defining your musical tastes by whomever wins American Idol, defining your culinary tastes by whatever is new on the menu at Applebee’s (never understood that apostrophe, but that’s a rant for another day). Politics will always feel broken — isn’t that part of its charm? If your team won the World Series every year, wouldn’t you get bored after a while? — but I look forward to the day when Professional Centrists move on to a new cause.

      4. kidmercury

        Oh snap….using the truth of contrariansm as a weapon in a beef. One of my favorite techniques.Though outside of admiration for your repsonse I do side with the skeptics. The problem is money supply and only addressing that directly will change things. That is where Ron Paul got it absolutely right.

      5. sigmaalgebra

        Your investment in Kickstarter easily can be good even if Lessig’s effort is not.My position: My loyally is to the US, its Constitution, and its main values, etc. I cannot conclude that Obama is part of the US to which I am loyal.I can like Lessig’s goal. For me, I don’t like Lessig’s video, but I admit that it might raise the money he wants.But otherwise, although I can’t be sure, @JLM might be correct, even in detail. JLM’s review of the issues seems about correct to me, and, if JLM is correct that campaign finance reform has no “traction”, then, at least in his five races, Lessig will have to develop some real traction. I’m skeptical he can.Also JLM is explaining the ‘process’, e.g., GOTV, how an ‘issue’ voter picks a candidate, what Rove might do, etc. where again JLM might be correct.Also, the support for Obama (with significant implications for the Democrats) is strange, in my view, unique in all of US politics: My view is that for winning elections and keeping up his approval numbers, Obama has only one thing going for him, ‘white guilt’ (WG), and its special case ‘affirmative action’. Due to WG, the liberal media, who very much does want our first Black president to be successful, keeps treating Obama with kid gloves, ignoring/suppressing some really severe negatives. There’s a LOT under the rug, e.g.,…alone will convince a lot of people that Obama hates the US, right, simply hates the US, no ifs, ands, buts, but just HATES. The details in the movies of Dinesh D’Souza, in Obama’s ‘Dreams from My Father’, Obama’s strong connections with various far leftists and Communists, etc. could be enough to bring out big marches on DC. With enough such protests, some of the objectively serious charges of impeachment might gain ‘traction’.So Obama, especially with some of his policies, e.g., immigration, Israel, Russia, Syria, Iran, is reaching a ‘tipping point’ where people will set aside WG and look at Obama directly and in detail, and then he can fall like a lead balloon; the negative stuff on Obama the liberal media has been keeping under the rug could run Obama’s poll numbers down to the teens with a huge layer of bitterness, outrage, contempt, charges of disloyalty and treason, etc. otherwise. We could get some really bitter class and racial divisions.Net, Obama’s actual support is quite narrow and otherwise is based just on WG. Have Obama’s negatives overcome WG, and he can quickly become a total bad joke of a president.And, whatever the liberal media refuses to do, the Internet can make up for.Again, Obama is unique among US presidents — the only significant support he has is WG which is absurdly narrow and easily lost.With Obama, the Democrats bet on a loser; he has not lost badly yet, e.g., was reelected, but he is well on the way to the tipping point and poll numbers in the teens.Then Obama will have severely weakened the Democrat party. Then Lessig will have less chance, and JLM will be correct.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      If at first you don’t succeed give up ?Sure the electorate will get fooled again and again and again . . . . but not forever !H.G. Wells“What on earth would a man do with himself, if something did not stand in his way?” and“Losing your way on a journey is unfortunate. But, losing your reason for the journey is a fate more cruel.”

      1. JLM

        .Nobody ever said anything about giving up.If slogans were horses…….JLM.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          Basic media ecology 101You get to send the message we get to decide what it means !and by the way when it comes to media ecologyslogans are horsesthat is exactly how big money wins election!

          1. JLM

            .Well, no, actually if you get it wrong I get to correct you as the author.I thought you were arguing for getting the money–the big money– out of elections.”Hope and change” got Obama elected to a substantial regret, no?Me? I’m still hoping for a change of sorts.JLM.

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            Right or wrong you still don’t get to change my decoding of your message.Because everything I know is true :-)Just kidding of coursebut seriously that is an unconscious trap we all fall into when we raise even our most sacrosanct beliefs to a status above temporary working conclusions.Cheers !

          3. JLM

            .Throw in our own bias confirmation and the fact we often listen to reply rather than listen to understand and we create all sorts of mischief.Cheers!JLM.

          4. Timothy Meade

            That’s simplifying the rhetoric and imagery around his first Presidential campaign, something that others have been far more guilty of. He represented a hope that the things that Lessig is proposing could happen within the existing system. That individual fervor for a candidate could drive the larger groups out while the people as a whole (or as a subset in this case) came together around a cause.His message was one of unity (but sadly only of uniting “red” and “blue”), of an essential re-balancing of the role of wealth in society where it had encompassed all other measures of personal success, family, “job security”, the “middle class”, “home ownership” and all of the other elements of the apocryphal American dream. With real wages falling we were quickly becoming one generation away from losing the middle class for ever. In the context of his opposition, his approach seemed to be the right one, at least for the “average” worker who only saw the prospects of losing his job, going deeper into debt, and sending his children off to work instead of college. It spoke to those here in Ohio who feared greatly for the fate of GM. As we consider the failure of some of the President’s programs, we have to consider the outcome of the alternative which cannot only be shaped by economic theories that have simply not been borne out on a macro level. I remember the proposal the President made to Congress when introducing the stimulus plan, it would be one-third tax reduction.Returning to my main point, the imagery of this President’s campaign was one of building a campaign of the people, using money from small donations, messaging that targeted the very issues that people care about, media that more directly reached voters, and a dream that this could be a new way of doing politics. The reality as we all know is something quite different, but the spark of desire is there within us to have a better system.I don’t know that this proposal will get us there, the idea of a trial run seems like it’s meant to gather data rather than actually test the feasibility of the idea. The messaging isn’t quite there, as you said, we largely don’t care about “campaign reform” and certainly not about “campaign finance reform.” But we do care about reducing the influence of larger corporations that don’t always directly align with their workers simply as a matter of rational self interest, we do care about the appearance of corruption stemming from things like legalized insider trading among elected officials, and the general adherence to our founding values even if we fall down greatly on privacy and personal liberty.

    3. Guest

      The misplaced focus on Obamacare notwithstanding, this is a brilliant comment.

    4. sigmaalgebra

      > not discussing sex, politics or religionGee, that’s what my mom told me! Later I was surprised when some of the girls appeared not to want to avoid the first!See my comment…just below.

    5. HanzP

      I stopped reading at “who has never been in the trenches of a political campaign” — you might want to read up on the political activists who shaped the internet over last decade. I can appreciate cynicism, but not simple naysayers and ne’er-do-wells.

  10. Guest

    The video is compelling, and sometimes I think I get smarter and savvier information from the commenters in this blog, than I get from conventional news (but we already knew that!).That said, I’d like to add my 2 cents, and question the premise of the video – and that premise is not “fix campaign funding”. It is the paradigm that supports that statement, which assumes that government itself, is the answer. One thing I heartily agree with is the 90% chorus that says government is broken. No one is arguing that. However, maybe the better answer than attempting to fix something as broken as that, is to create new things of our own.Because if the problem is indeed the conspiratorial relationship between government and the .00000001% (the people whose net worth is in the tens of billions, whom I assume the video is referring to), then trying to fix that problem, is a bit futile. I am sure they already have put contingency plans B, C, and D in place for the uprisings they foresaw, long long ago. Because here’s the thing – the .00000001% didn’t get that way because they didn’t know how to see every single move coming down the pike, a hundred steps in advance.So we can either play into that story, or head off the situation at the pass. It’s like a dare. In China (and as JFK pointed out), crisis and opportunity are 2 sides of the same coin. So the choice is to see this matter as one big massive crisis – or an opportunity.Perhaps We The People can form our own forms of governance – and I use that word very broadly to mean “structures of thought” – and architect and engineer our own constructs of reality – whether in economics, beliefs, culture. Structures that conform to the vision of the world that we want. And I’m guessing we have qualified people here to do just that – all the talented engineers that I assume read the blog of AVC. How about taking all that engineering STEM talent and applying that “construct of thinking”, to society itself?Because to me, whether one is a Friedman, Keynesian, Galbraithian or whatever combination in between, there in a common thread going on here – the presumption that Government Dictates the Vision of this Country. Why? Not only is this giving up our power, but forgetting how this country became great in the first place. The Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution that came out of it is not carved in marble down in Washington (though the stone pillars of Congress, Monticello and the White House give us all physical impression of that – and yes, they’re impressive!). But as former partner of an architecture firm, I will say this: all of things are simply the result of someone’s imagination, at some point in time. And so physical structures, are just that – and more so, just an illusion disguising the real governing structures underneath: freedom, imagination and the freedom to Create. It is no coincidence that the architects of the U.S. Constitution are the architects of Monticello, and all the imposing, impressive buildings of Washington. And it all comes from this: imagination, vision, and the willingness to give ourselves permission to create those structures (literally and figuratively speaking) for ourselves.The real structure of this country is, thus, the invisible one that binds us together – the U.S. Constitution, one of the most ingenious and profound treatises on the formation of civilized societies. Genius and profound how? Because it is comprised not out of the dictates of tyranny, but of Ideal for an open society of free individuals, free to do what our Founding Fathers did for themselves: Choose to Create. To gather at the table, a table of their own choosing, and create a Vision together of what the world could look like, for themselves, and posterity thereafter.So that is the true freedom here – choice. To choose to march in the streets, to enter the competitive market and extract as much from it in zero sum game fashion – and we have right to do that in the free market that is America. Which is the fundamental grudge going on here – that we feel that someone “above” has taken things away from us.But what if – in our wildest imaginings – we discovered that we not worry who is taking away or extracting or skimming off the rest. What if we turned the situation upside on its head to say – wait, we have the internet, we have freedom, why not use it as forum not for spreading campaigns against campaigns, but as a forum to conspire on our own – not in protest to what we already agree is a broken system, but to create new, better, more efficient, uplifting, generative, replenishing systems of our own?Live together, Die alone. We can either wait for the government to give us permission to do that – or we can create that permission for ourselves. I think the time to that, is now. Not to criticize broken systems, but create better ones of our own. To lead the way, and show ’em how its done! And isn’t this the ultimate coup? Not to tear down, but to create a new picture of the world. And you never know, maybe it is the people themselves who will lead the way after all, into the future. As it was supposed to be, all along.Happy belated Independence Day, to all.

    1. JLM

      .One may argue that the basic freedom conveyed by the formative documents of America is simply this — the unfettered unleashing of human potential.In that vein, it is never government which is the answer and therefore bigger and more powerful government which impedes the unleashing of human potential in any arena is ill advised.Smaller, less intrusive government seems to be the answer. The fact this will also be a less costly government is an added blessing.JLM.

      1. Angela Min

        I think unless one actually “needs” government, government is actually, not very intrusive – whether tiny or massive, efficient or bogged down in the mire. The paradigm of government, big or small, intrusive or laissez faire, is the very conversation we need to move away from (and my apologies to Mr. Wilson for my contrarian views as such). The better use of time is creating systems that work – and then the government comes to us. Let’s look at Elon Musk. He didn’t wait for permission from NASA to do his thing. He just did it, and now NASA comes to him. And he goes to NASA in return. It’s a Win-Win. So the challenge I pose is this, especially to those with higher degrees, writing skills and powers of reason. We all know the power of the internet – readers of this tech startup funding blog no less. What do we use that power to do? Continue a conversation that has been going on for longer than we have even been on this earth? Or create a new kind of conversation. The power of the internet can go two ways – and exponentially so.By the way, the question of “needs government” is of course, fraught with difficulty. Yes, we all need government, and I say this not to criticize need, in general. However, it is also a mindset. And until we move beyond the mindset of “need”, the problem will never be fixed. As we know, problems of this scale of massiveness do not arise out of superficial reasons, but fundamental systemic ones. And the most fundamental system that needs to be fixed is not “campaign financing”, which is a short-term band aid fix. It is to fix the very systems of beliefs of our culture. And I say this not in criticism, but in great optimism for this country – the only country in the world where this is possible.

      2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        OK Big Red – That’s the type of response I was looking for. However smaller becomes more pivotal. In reality no BIg Government can do everything wrong (though many try). The concern with reductionism is that you want to be sure you like the spirit of what you are distilling,

        1. JLM

          .There is some huge low hanging fruit if only we had the leadership to drive them.An example is the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.The story is too long to tell right now and I am headed out anyway but it is a great opportunity to reduce the size of government.JLM.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      The US is a ‘revolutionary’ country: We get to have a ‘revolution’ and ‘fundamental change’ each election day. So, if we change slowly, then that is because, in effect, the voters want us to change only slowly.

      1. Guest

        I agree that change happens slowly – even if people decide to take on a revolutionary spirit by creating things rather than waiting for election day. So you’ve raised a good point – and perhaps one of the more useful things we should be studying, rather than “campaign reform”. We should be re-orienting our very notions of Time. My observation is that in America, we have a “go go go” mentality to progress, trying to measure things that don’t matter, preventing us from stepping back to see the large sweeps of history and the global landscape of change. If we did, we’d realize that we are spending more time arguing petty left vs right, up vs down … than just getting down to work, to create. I have only word as to why America needs to put their differences aside and just get to bloody work: China.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Two remarks:First, your thinking is from okay up to quite insightful. But just as we can’t graduate 90% of the students in the top 10% of the class, we can’t expect 60+% of the voters to come close to your quite insightful thinking, at least not reliably about elections on election day. Part of the ‘fall back’ position is, if the government messes up too much, and at times it has, then enough voters will “throw the bums out”, and at times they have. E.g., recently the Republicans were just too darned eager to fight foreign wars and got thrown out.Second, on China, once they get at all close to the US standard of living, etc., then they will encounter many of the same problems as the US. Then they will see that further progress mostly can’t be dictated from Beijing and, instead, must come from the individual, creative efforts of highly motivated, free individuals. More broadly, centrally planned, directed economies haven’t worked well and can’t because just can’t expect the central government to have enough understanding.E.g., for my project, no way, not a chance, big belly laugh, would anyone in US government have even as much as a weak little hollow hint of a tiny clue about what I’m doing or why it is promising — not a clue. Similarly, I’m not the least bit afraid of China. China had an easy time copying Google, but they will have to scratch their heads a long time to copy my work — they just will not see how the crucial internals work.Yes, the US Federal Government has supported a lot of just excellent, world class, world leading research in technical fields, but just how that was done is interesting: A big part of the secret was some just astoundingly, bone breaking, head cracking, gut twisting competition as reviewed by experts and the NSF and NIH problem sponsors. Novelty, creativity, originality were all highly valued.E.g., yes, the US is the unique world military super power, but the key work did not come from the marching columns but from academic research, and the US DoD realizes this. Indeed, at the end of WWII, Ike said something like, “Never again will US academics be permitted to operate independently of the US military.”. Result: J. B. Conant, Vannevar Bush, etc. set up so many pipes to send money to high end US academic research that no way could all the money be turned off all at once; they did a good job sending money but not suppressing the crucial creativity.

          1. Guest

            I’m pretty sure China isn’t turning to America to figure out its growth model.Okay, I’m done on this matter, I should know better. Back to work I go!

  11. Matt Zagaja

    I donated more to MayDay than any PAC I’ve ever given to before. I also e-mailed Prof. Lessig last night to offer any “off-hours” help he might think is useful. To be honest I was going to the website and was nervous that he would not cross the threshold yesterday.My favorite part of Lessig’s e-mail note which I think is appropos to many risk takers in politics and entrepreneurship: “No one expected we could do this. Neither the $1M nor the $5M. Of course, when we crossed $1M, plenty said they knew we would — though most of them were quite sure we could never make the $5M. And now that we’ve crossed $5M, you can be sure there will be plenty who say they knew we’d do this too.”A few days ago I was asked to write up a report/analysis on winning a district for a candidate. We have some measurably effective techniques that can tip elections, you can outwork an opponent and beat them and statistics and data supports this. In some cases the spread is too large. The deck is stacked against you. The note I put at the end of these reports that tell candidates it will be difficult is that we already know what will not work; we already know what is not enough. However the limits of human creativity are without bounds, and there is no reason that a candidate or cause trying new things cannot have a chance at winning. After all, why lose doing the same things people have done before when you can lose doing something differently?Finally on a slightly related note, I watched the Aaron Schwartz documentary last night, and I think it’s worth the watch:….

  12. Andrew West

    It doesn’t matter, it’s just politics. During the last four decades we’ve changed parties many times and we have NO results.It’s sad, even delusional, to see half of all adult Americans believe politics matters, without any real evidence.It is a complete waste of time and attention.

  13. ErikSchwartz

    I am amazed at how some people can turn anything into a screed against whoever their favorite whipping boy happens to be.

  14. JLM

    .Mitt’s tech effort crashed the day before the election. Not only do you have to have the weapons, they have to work when needed.Give Obama — really Axelrod and Plouffe — his due. He was better at it than the other guys. PERIOD.If Obama had one tenth of the competence in governing as he had in campaigning, I would be in his Cabinet and have a tattoo on my butt.JLM.

  15. LE

    Hah. Just wrote this long comment saying the same exact thing.

  16. HanzP

    Yes, a simple exercise in cliché meets confirmation bias. The problem is it is good enough to make the cut for those inclined toward blame rather than civic responsibility.

  17. LE

    Obama’s success comes as a result of Oprah getting on board early in his game. [1] I remember when she introduced him and he was a nobody. I know you probably aren’t an Oprah fan and most likely aren’t on top of her power (of course you’ve heard about it for sure) but the minute I saw that endorsement and appearance I knew he stood a very good chance of that one factor alone allowing him to have a good chance of winning. Very possible that that was something that got him the help he needed as well. Oprah has more power than those unions that JFK’s father bribed or whatever happened with that.[1] The thing that leads to the thing as I say.

  18. JLM

    .There is no question the Oprah endorsement was huge. The obvious racial overtones are an interesting consideration.JLM.

  19. pointsnfigures

    I disagree about Oprah. I think that Obama really was able to sell the why without really articulating policy. There was peer pressure, and there was a movement. Oprah came on board and lost 50% of her viewers. She had never been very political before. The water was made safe by lots of people wearing their Obama buttons and saying it was time-and that he was articulate, smart etc. They never really examined where he stood. I knew economic conservatives that supported him.

  20. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Corrupting influence of self-interest is another thing, when it comes to agency.Imagine a young American who worked for the FBI is arrested because he has paymasters in German secret services. Americans would despise him and the corrupting influence of Germany. This weekend that boot is on the other foot – The US will pay a price in the Ukraine and elsewhere,Could it be that Snowden deserves some credit for attemting to limit growth of harmful US agency that acts outside US public interest.So is a traitor someone who acts against their people or for the people but against the corruption of their duly elected Government ?- Still not seeing a clean answer in the US

  21. JLM

    .Snowden revealed effective means and methods that the US took decades to develop.If he didn’t approve of the “take” he could have reported and protested that internally but to destroy the apparatus was a huge disservice.Criminal and punishable by death as treason.He destroyed a very effective tool box and in the process endangered real people and made us a lot less safe.We often knew the intentions of world leaders BEFORE they acted and now we do not. When we knew the intentions of world leaders before they acted, we could often block them in real time. Now we cannot.JLM.

  22. LE

    Well under that premise it would be ok if I personally broke into your house and found out you were doing something very illegal, serious and dangerous. But that is not the case. Unless there is an emergent reason I have to follow the process. The fact that I discover something bad doesn’t change the fact that I have broken the law. Although the public might feel differently but that’s not the way the system is supposed to work. Like in the mafia, we live by our rules. If a criminal gets off on a technicality you have to go with it.Also I wouldn’t trust anyone foolish enough to fuck their own life up (in the way he did) with any good judgement anyway. Like someone so egotistical that he thinks he is some kind of savior of the world or something like that. He wasn’t even the only one who knew about this either.While I agree that most people are lame do nothings (and often kvetch about that) as in the case of looking the other way (VA scandal) and not wanting to put their ass on the line (hey they have to feed their family) in no way shape or form, no matter how bad things are, do I want “some guy” deciding to take this type of thing into his own hands (oh yeah he was vetted by some newspaper reporters).

  23. JLM

    .I could not possibly agree MORE with you. The NSA is totally out of control. Know this — this has been going on for decades.The NSA has been totally unsupervised since its inception.When James Clapper lied to Congress with impunity under the notion that he told the “least” dishonest lie, you had the first inkling how bad this has all been.The head of the NSA hardly believes himself accountable to anyone. You have people with unlimited resources empowered to conduct “experiments” with unlimited powers of observation, technology and storage.As an example, the capability of the NSA to look through your video cam while your computer is OFF was an extremely highly classified capability as recently as 3 years ago.Anything they can dream up, they can get internal authorization to do as an “experiment”.None of this absolves Snowden of treason.JLM.

  24. JLM

    .You are a very smart guy and I would not want to insult your intelligence by stating the obvious.The US built up some incredible sources of information — humint, tech intel, means, methods — which allowed us to know what our enemies were going to do BEFORE they did it.It took decades.Almost all of this has now been compromised and destroyed. That is the treasonous action.This has exposed people who helped us who are now going to be killed or otherwise damaged.In our enemies walking their cats backwards they are going to quickly realize we had the cooperation of some very precious and specific folks — e.g. contractors who built buildings we wired for a heart beat, etc.The big proof — if Snowden were ever out in the open the line to put a bullet in his head by the intel community would be very long indeed.Remember this is a culture which lives in the shadows and does business with scumbags who are prepared to betray their country. Snowden is now walking on the wrong side of the street.JLM.

  25. JLM

    .In the despair which has now settled over the Obama administration, it has become abundantly clear there are some basic requirements for leadership at that level — accountability, leaning forward in your saddle, following through on threats — the man simply does not possess.I cannot summon up the umbrage to even be disappointed any more.Hillary Clinton’s recent drunk text/open comments decrying Obama’s competence and trustworthiness are what they are — intimate insights into the inner workings of the administration by a sycophantic former co-conspirator.They are also the truth.The man does not have some of the wiring required to do the job. It is really no longer a criticism, it is just a truth.JLM.

  26. Juest

    Come on! The big proof we generally don’t know what the F we’re doing is that 9/11 happened notwithstanding all of these miraculous breakthroughs (unless you are taking the Kid’s side here — which would probably cause a Fredland meltdown!). Plus, the shit shows that are Iraq and Afghanistan. Any day now, the “military-industrial” complex will come out and announce that gambling is occurring in casinos. Our technology is *almost* there to capture proof of this!! The government has contracted out to GeekSquad and we’ll soon get to the bottom of this!!! Of course, the day after that, our little “police action” on the Korean peninsula will probably end as well. We’ve been thirty days away from figuring that thing out — every thirty days for the last 65 years!But yes, yes, I agree the problem is Snowden 🙂

  27. LE

    I hate to back up my point by using online material because I have to tell you that I really feel really strongly about this regardless of whether anyone else (who has actually studied it) says it is so or not. Like economists as one example.In this case I did find someone who quantified it though:…As far as the fact that she lost viewers (assuming that is true at 50%) I don’t think that matters in terms of what I am saying. The point is Oprah put Obama on the map. She has tremendous reach and influence (even in the media itself) and when she called out his name he became a somebody. So that was the initial spark.Let’s take you or I as an example. One day out of nowhere Warren Buffett decides to bless either of us and say good things about us. (Or take anyone of equal influence say Steve Jobs). Do you really think that isn’t going to make a difference in terms of how we are treated or taken seriously in the world? Of course it will. It would open many doors.Now of course there is no doubt that if Obama had flubbed it (he didn’t “sell”) of course Oprah wouldn’t matter. Obviously. You can’t defy gravity but a leg up is a leg up.