Category Archives: White House

Gay Rights: Not a Partisan Issue

Andrew Sullivan once wrote, in a heated blog post, (and I paraphrase) that equality for LGBT Americans is not a partisan issue. It is a human rights issue. His fervor gave me clarity and his observation stuck with me. So today, I’ll take it a step further because we are facing a symbolic moment in the journey towards equality.

Congress will be voting on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the next 48 hours. I’m asking my friends and family to call Capitol Hill and let their Representative know they SUPPORT LEGISLATIVE REPEAL in 2010. The phone number is (202) 225-3121. If you’re not sure what to say, you can take suggestions from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund here. You can also find out if your Member supports the legislation here.

Why do it? Too often do homophobic policies find their ways into national politics, making it difficult for people of all ages living in small towns, big cities and rural areas of America to live their lives fully and openly. They are paralyzed by fear of political and social retribution for being who they are. I know because it happened to me.

Learn more from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund and keep up with the latest news from the Advocate’s Washington, DC correspondent, Kerry Eleveld. Read her analysis of how we got to DADT here.

Finally, I thank you for doing your part. With integrity and compassion for others, I’m ready to take a stand. Are you?

West Wing Week: Direct-to-Voter Videos From The White House

I was completely intrigued when I stumbled upon this new weekly staple of the Obama Administration – “West Wing Week” – a six minute video, packed to the max with b-roll, substance and soundbites of how the President spent the last week. I have yet to see anything as pithy and tightly produced by the news outlets in the Press Corps targeted at to the 18-35 year old demographic – a demo growing in influence and worth an estimated $200 billion in consumer spending. Or, for the political world, a demo with the power to deliver enough votes to say, swing a reelection campaign. Smart man our President is.

The video only shows about 2,685 views on YouTube. (The White House does not release traffic data for WhiteHouse.gov.)

Posted via web from ericaamerica’s posterous

The Social Media Tug of War: SOTU Style

The State of the Union streamed faster online than any of the networks could achieve on Television.  In the world of Twitter, conversation around the hash tag #SOTU soared, accounting for thousands upon thousands of updates on the aggregating machine. On sites like the New York Times and The Washington Times, live bloggers updated, updated, and updated. People gravitated to the pixels on computer screens and smart phones like citizen zombies, edging in a commenta critiquea joke, to see if anyone was listening.

But was anyone listening to the President?

Social media consultant, Jen Nedeau, was part of an effort with New York media consultant, Dan Gerstein, to organize a group of live bloggers and spur a substantive online discussion around the State of the Union. Her answer to the question above – was anyone actually listening? Most likely, would be a resounding yes.

“Social media allows the conversation that used to happen in the family living room, over the dinner table or within the knitting circle expand into a global dialogue. As the President gives his speech tonight, we will all be tuned in – not only to what he is saying – but to what those around us are saying.”

Nedeau, who earned her social media chops as a digital strategist in Washington, D.C. and New York City, went on to say that the online conversation in-stream with the President’s speech, “creates the unique ability for political thought to expand and explode beyond the television broadcast.”

Could she be right? In the last decade, technology has soared to new heights – at the turn of the century, words like Kindle, Android, Tablet and Geotargeting were hardly in our language. But in a short period of time, boundaries have disappeared and with it, unspeakable progress has occurred. But have all the channels for talk brought about setbacks, too?

Gerstein, founder of Gotham Ghostwriters and a columnist at Forbes, takes the question above and colors in a different point of view. With Gotham’s live blogging effort, he says, average political junkies are given an alternative to the talking heads found on network TV.

“Before these tools were available, people had to listen to talking heads yak at them.  Now they can directly engage political pros and experts in a two-way conversation, ask them questions, and quite possibly enlighten them.”

Gerstein makes a point – and with it, speaks to perhaps the biggest success the President didn’t address in the State of the Union: WhiteHouse.Gov. A web site that has made press briefings available live, visitor records downloadable, daily photos accessible, and Q&A’s with Administration officials a mouse click away. Tonight WhiteHouse.gov live streamed the address (yes, faster than the networks could), held a live video Q&A afterward, and uploaded the official remarks and two blog posts (onetwo) after.

My point – which is not to ignore the fact that I, like Nedeau and Gerstein, use social media to engage others and to tap into a larger conversation – is that we are all in this pixilated society together. But what does it mean for moving a President’s political agenda forward – any President for that matter, post-social media? Can either side build up enough strength, enough collaboration, enough bipartisanship, to tug the social media rope hard enough and bring over to the other side?

To see a Flickr feed of the social media story from the State of the Union, click here.

How to #ModGov


ModGov Hash Tag

Originally uploaded by ericaamerica08

On Thursday, January 14, 2010, The White House convened the forum on Modernizing Government. They are off to the right start after taking the advice of Craig Newmark, creator of CraigsList.com, to make funnel all talk of the forums around the hash tag #modgov.

White House Blogger, Jesse Lee, wrote about it here, which includes a list of the the five break out sessions, the guest list (from CEOs to Labor representatives), and a link to their LIVE White House streaming channel. On the most fundamental level, the forum really (publicly) initiated a converastion about what it means to modernize government operations to increase productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. As I mentioned, the full guest list is linked above, but as a quick idea, the CEOs of Adobe, United Airlines, Facebook, Yelp, Staples, Cargill and Time Warner were all there.

Here is a video of the opening session with President Obama.

And for everyone interested in the full breakout sessions, feel free to watch them here.
  • Transforming Customer Service 1: Video recap. (Also worth noting, you can download each video as a mp4 or mp3).
  • Transforming Customer Service 2: Video recap.
  • Transforming Streamlining Operations 1: Video recap.
  • Transforming Streamlining Operations 2: Video recap.
  • Maximizing Technology Return on Investment: Video recap.

SFGate.com: Let's Collaborate

Every week the online news team at the San Francisco Chronicle publishes Helen Thomas’s weekly column. The Chronicle, or SFGate.com, is part of Hearst News Corporation, who Helen works for.

Today I decided to email one of the Politics Blog writers, Mr. Michael Collier. The reason? If SFGate.com’s audience is receptive to Helen’s columns, why not publish my video interviews alongside? We’ll see if Mr. Collier gets back.

Web 2.0 Managed News?

Two things. First, I am reading a book.  For those political media junkies, it’s “The Boys on the Bus,” by Rolling Stone journalist, Timothy Crouse. Crouse, at the time, who was barely old enough to drink, got the assignment of a lifetime to cover the 1972 Nixon | McGovern campaign.

As I look at the shape of our news media – the ecosystem if you will – I always consider lessons of the past to find a new way forward. And what Crouse writes in Boys, gives us a glance into the relationship between journalists, the news agenda, and the White House.

Second, Helen Thomas makes several cameos in the book as the UPI correspondent along for the ride. My favorite line so far is when she lost her restraint and said to Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s Press Secretary: “Lies. We get nothing but lies. And someday those lies are going to catch up with this Administration.”

Ziegler responds back with a jab. She gives him a “hard look.”

“I’ll say one thing for you, Ron. You’re never lied to us directly. But I don’t know how you stomach your job.”

So why do I bring this up? Well, like I said, the keys to the future are in treasures of the past. And two of those treasures – Boys on the Bus, and Helen Thomas, are telling us where to go from here.

Deviating from the Script to Understand Motives

On January 9, Salon.com writer, Glenn Greenwald, wrote a post about last week’s White House Briefing, where Robert Gibbs, Janet Napolitano and John Brennan addressed the White House Press Corps, about the Flight 253 bombing attempt. In his post, Greenwald focused on the question from Helen Thomas, who once again, parted from the restraint her colleagues share… and said point blank to John Brennan, “What is the motivation of the terrorists – where does it come from?”

In other words, how do American policies fuel terrorism?

Right away I went back to my video archives and pulled out an interview I did with Helen Thomas in July 2009. I had wanted to do something with it earlier – but the timing wasn’t right – and as you will see, the quality – of the video, unfortunately blew. (My fault for needing to use my back up Flip Cam). But regardless, I think this is an important interview – one that will help folks like Glenn Greenwald consider what it means when a Press Corps is intimidated, what questions don’t get asked, what questions get shut down- and what we can all do to get the process back up to the standard.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvqK387jG0c[/youtube]

Equal Rights: More Than a March

I just got back from the National Equality March that is taking place right now in Washington. Thousands of GLBT equality advocates have descended on Northwest D.C. and are in full force as they march from McPherson Square to the steps of the Capitol.

The march has been met with some skepticism, especially by openly gay Member of Congress, Barney Frank (D-MA), who told Associated Press: “The only thing they’re going to be putting pressure on is the grass.” He went on to allude to more effective ways the GLBT community could push their equality agenda – constituent lobby days and grassroots efforts in the states, such as Maine, where gay marriage will soon be voted on. But even with that valid point, the thousands of marchers in Washington had ample reason to be here.

Over the last two decades, our government has actually established legislation that prohibits equality. First there is Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), a ban of openly gay people in the military, which reduces military effectiveness. Then there is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which conflicts the Constitution by connecting church and state with a legal definition of marriage: between a man and a women.

On the other hand, you have the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), a piece of legislation that protects people from wrongful termination – except GLBT people. In fact, in 29 states, employers can fire or not hire someone based on their sexuality. And the list of policies that dictate civil rights for a minority group in America goes on.

In sum, our government is actively producing policy that makes some U.S. citizens less than equals. We all know that no matter what, it is not right. But somehow that message has not reached all of America. Here are some people who want to change that.

Helen Thomas to the President: Go Down In Flames for the Public Option

Just Released – Unedited, unfiltered interview with Helen Thomas about the health care debate. With more than 60 years of White House experience, Thomas dissects the interests against a “public option” in the health care debate: “Profiteering,” “Misinformation” and an “atmosphere of hate.”

This interview was recorded on Wednesday, August 19, 2009.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRaKNyn3v0M[/youtube]

Hunger Strike: Day 26

It was day 26 of the hunger strike at the White House and I decided last night to keep it up and go again. I talked to some young people this time about why they are involved. While I have frequently been asked by the organizers if I “support their cause,” (probably because I have been the only “media” there and they are anxious for attention), I have to quickly answer with this, “I am an advocate of anyone exercising their right to peacefully assemble and address issues with the government. It’s what this democracy is all about.”

I always get a calm smile and an invitation to film whatever I like.

Here is part three of the Hunger Strike series. Each has been considered for, or has been, aired by CNN:

Previous Reports:

Unwelcome at the White House, August 9, 2009 Currently 2, 315 views, 35 comments

Hunger Strike at the White House: Day 19, August 17, 2009 Currently 1, 404 views, 83 comments