Wired Interview

Wired NewsThe campaign is on fire today due to a Wired News Interview by Eliot Van Buskirk and a subsequent Digg followup.

Many people from all over the country (and one American in Dublin) have been sending in their support, both financial and verbal. Thanks to all!

I returned yesterday from hitting my 16th Democratic county convention. The Deseret News covered my stop in Washington County. People are fighting mad over Divine Strake, as am I.

One thousand signs went out the door in April and another thousand are well on the way. This campaign is getting good traction everywhere!


Over the years of running XMission, I witnessed several instances of what became known as “Slashdotting”. A popular tech news site, Slashdot has such a large audience that they can bring powerful computer servers to their knees with an onrush of visitors. Thus the verb, “Slashdotting“.

At the beginning of the campaign it was not only a priority with me to get an article on Slashdot, but it was repeatedly suggested and attempted by interested people. These attempts were made to publish stories about local press coverage here, but they were all rejected by Slashdot editors. Yesterday, in response to a Linux Insider article published on Tuesday, Slashdot greenlit an article.

What is a Slashdot article worth politically? By the raw numbers, 3074 visitors came to the campaign website via the article. In comparison, a notable mention on Daily Kos garnered 2232 visitors in December. Now someone with a marketing background might be thinking, 3000+ visitors at $10 each, that’s $30,000! If only it were that easy. The raw contributed dollar effect of Slashdot has been $290 broken up over four donations.

The residual effect of Slashdot was remarkable. At first a flood of vandals hit the wiki and left their messes about. Almost instantly, a larger group of new volunteers came in and cleaned it up. Within 24 hours, these same volunteers went about reorganizing and contributing to wiki in ways that were utterly amazing to watch. The wiki is now stronger and better than ever.

A few bloggers picked up on the Slashdot reference, including someone in Japan. I enjoyed the Babelfish poetry that I was presented after translation.

This experience emphasizes what was clearly stated by Liza Sabater on Monday, “The #1 mistake advertisers, marketers, political strategists and fundraisers make when hitting the blogosphere is to think of bloggers and readers as just consumers.” So many candidates have and continue to look to Howard Dean raising a million in a day off the Internet as potential for their own campaign. Yet Dean donors weren’t driven by the Internet, they were driven to the Internet by other sources. The fact he was a presidential candidate was one, the other was the traditional media attention he received. The Internet is not a cash machine that can be turned on by simply activating a website. It can be a cash saver because of its open nature. The feedback I have received via the wiki and my first photo poll would have cost tens of thousands of dollars in “focus groups,” and I believe it is of a significantly higher quality.

Make no mistake, this campaign still relies on traditional techniques for reaching the electorate. As a result, it still has traditional needs best met by cash contributions. However, I am invigorated by seeing the ideas of open campaigning and the basis of “Democracy 2.0” flourish.

As my friend in Japan states, “Yesterday slashdot it was done, but it is being crowded calmly and that appearance, without either the circumstances which receive vandalism for the present, ã‚‹ pattern.”

Cuban, Hatch, and Copyright

In Sunday’s Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram, Mark Cuban weighs in on copyright law, while Makan Delrahim takes the counterpoint. Unfortunately, Mr. Delrahim’s response was lacking in research. What follows is my response to the editors of the Star Telegram.

Makan Delrahim’s op-ed of December 11th was short on truth. First, my Democratic campaign for U.S. Senate has not received one red cent from Mark Cuban.

Second, Mr. Cuban has not contributed any policy assistance to this campaign. Third, and most importantly, I have never personally met Mr. Cuban and my total correspondence has been limited to three emails which consisted of a total of 42 words from him.

Portraying me as a political foe of Hatch running with Cuban’s money is not only false, but insulting. Mr. Delrahim should at least pick up an FEC report before spewing such accusations.

Senator Hatch’s stands on copyright have been repeatedly one-sided; protect the recording and motion picture industries. In doing so, he has caused immeasurable harm to technology. My own Internet Service Provider business, XMission, has had to deal with being the media companies’ unpaid copyright police since Digital Millennium Copyright Act became law. Every week, we handle hundreds of spurious complaints with no compensation from these entities for doing so. We’ve also seen the DMCA levied by third parties attempting to thwart the business of their competitors.

Crediting Senator Hatch with the creation of iTunes is laughable when you consider his comments introducing the INDUCE legislation. What the Supreme Court upheld was existing copyright law, not preventing any technology able to infringe on copyright. Peer-to-peer networks and the iPod have legitimate legal uses, but to the recording and film industry lobbyists pushing Senator Hatch, they have none.

In addition, the DMCA criminalizes such sensible “Fair Use” actions as parents making copies of childrens’ DVDs so originals are not damaged. This favoritism towards the industry is not because Senator Hatch has an agenda against the Internet and technology, its because he listens to one side of the argument. As a constituent who attempted to write Senator Hatch to represent the technology side, I found that the only way to make my voice heard was to run against him.

Mr. Delrahim should realize there are people in the technology industry who feel the problematic effects of Senator Hatch’s legislation every day.

Lots of Coverage

I spent last Monday in Saint George, Utah. In the morning, I had the opportunity to talk with the Southern Utah Democrats club at their luncheon which was covered by the Saint George Spectrum. Later I talked with local officials and citizens, did an hour talk show with Bryan Hyde, and was interviewed by Tamara Lee on KCSG Channel 6. Thanks to all who made this visit possible. I look forward to seeing you again.

While I was in Saint George, Politics1.com reinaugurated its “Site of the Day” picks and made my site the first for “allowing richer public participation”. Many sites picked up on the recent poll; Daily Kos, DSCC “From the Roots”, MyDD, Western Democrat, and Swing State Project.

The Scarlett “D”

Last night, I was honored to be hosted at a gathering of moderates and conservatives by James and Jenica Humphreys. A Democratic candidate meeting with Republican-minded voters is something that KSL Radio considers newsworthy in Utah. In this radio piece, the Hatch campaign responded by saying, “Ashdown is just custom tailoring his message to his audience instead of taking a stand.”

This attitude from Senator Hatch is not surprising. Ted Kennedy is trotted out repeatedly as an example of “working across the aisle,” but Senator Hatch repeatedly demonizes Democrats for all of society’s ills. During a recent interview on KCPW, he claimed that it was liberals who came up with the “derogatory term”, “nuclear option” in reference to blocking Democratic filibusters in congress. According to the Wikipedia article on the subject it was Trent Lott who first came up with the term, although I liked their first choice better, “Hulk.”

Taking a stand is not exclusive of building consensus. The forum last night was one of the most productive campaign meetings I’ve been to. There was a minimum of rhetoric and a focus on problem solving. Roughly twenty people had taken their Saturday evening off to hear what I had to say and express their views to me. There was rarely a subject that everyone agreed upon, although the sad state of health insurance in this country was prominent. What impressed me about this group is that they were passionate about making America a better place to live. I believe most Americans are, regardless of party affiliation.

James joked with me after the meeting that the “Scarlett D” is what keeps conservatives in Utah from listening to anyone from the “other side”. Conservative bloggers in Utah have been agonizing over whether they can stomach voting for a Democrat since Urquhart left the race. Understandably, it is hard for anyone to put trust in a politician. Since I have never run before, you can judge me on what I have done with my business. I was honored that the most conservative guy in the room last night, Vince, wanted to get his picture taken with me because he admired how I run XMission. I have had many opportunities to sell XMission for considerable amounts, but I haven’t because I knew it would have been bad for my employees and worse for my customers. Why would I sell out my constituency for anything less?

What I have been advocating in this campaign is openess and transparency in government, along with open access for interested parties to give their input on subjects that concern them. Today’s Salt Lake Tribune has an editorial by BYU philosophy professor Jeffrey Nielsen about just this. Thomas Jefferson endorsed the idea of “peer councils” and it is only now through the use of the Internet we truly have the ability to put this into action.

Good solutions are non-partisan, they simply solve the problem. I believe the best way to fix America’s problems is for everyone to work on them rather than promoting partisan ideologies.

Senator Hatch 45% vs “Someone Else” 48%

A KSL/Deseret News poll by Dan Jones and Associates shows our efforts are paying off. Senator Hatch is currently polling at a 45% reelect against 48% stating it is time to give someone else a chance. The same poll also shows that Representive Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is the most popular politician in Utah.

This is tremendous news with a year to go until the general election, yet it is no time to cease our efforts. Right now, the most important help I can receive is continuing to spread the word to drive your friends and neighbors to the campaign website. I am also asking you to dig deep and consider donating to the campaign. The fact that we have gotten this far on the limited resources we’ve been given shows what we could do with more.

Thank you again for all your efforts. We are going to win this with your continued help.

Peering Through the Fog

Due the birth of my daughter on the 11th, I took some time off from the campaign office to spend with family. Although little Greta is very healthy, she still has no respect for people with a schedule. Most of the night is spent attempting to fill her stomach with milk or emptying her stomach of air. Robin and I were both apprehensive of the work we knew was coming with this baby. It was difficult five years ago with our boy Henry and we haven’t gotten any younger. When the alarm rings in the morning, the comforter feels as heavy as a coffin lid.

For those of you who are fans of baby pictures. Here are a slew of ’em.

While I was taking a break, I had the opportunity to visit with people in Uintah and Carbon counties. Whenever I go outside of Salt Lake County, its a real eye-opener to see what is affecting Utahns. Uintah has more mineral resources than any other part of Utah, yet their schools are crumbling. Carbon recently had the “Byrne” grant cut that provided the foundation for most of the drug enforcement in the area. Yet, Homeland Security decided that sending them thousands of dollars of unusable equipment was important. Prescription drugs are prevalent over all other drugs. Much of the distribution could be clamped down by having doctors use a database that verifies the fact that an individual got the same prescription from another doctor recently, but when was the last time our congress debated prescription drug abuse?

The recurring theme is that local governments can do better than the Federal Government at deciding how money is spent. The Feds make up a slow-moving ignorant beast that wastes more money than it effectively saves in cuts. I asked one mayor to name one thing that the Feds do that actually helps the area. He thought for a moment and named Community Development Block Grants and emphasized the that the money is simply allocated and local governments decide the best way to use it. It was stunning to know that not only was this the only thing he could name, it was the only thing they were doing right. From education to land-use to law-enforcement, locals felt they were cut out of the decision process to the detriment of their very lives.

On Monday I was interviewed by KOAL/KARB radio in Carbonville on these and other campaign topics. Now that I’m running WordPress, I will funnel interviews and other audio through an RSS Podcast.