Live Blogging Lessig on Change Congress


6:31 More Questions.

Why not a pledge for lobbyist? Pledge to give information but not money. This is a good idea and Larry seems to like it as well.

How do you protect this organization from abuse and give it trust? Ummm… Larry doesn’t know. I think the key is to try and keep it bipartisan and out of the ugly political trenches. Is that doable, I don’t know, but it should be a goal.

What is the future? What about gerrymandering? Who knows.

What is the real problem with PACs? They aggregate small donors into real donations. But the problem is the lack of transparency that ends with one entity have amplified power.

6:12 Questions.

Why don’t incumbents support public financing? I think that equal dollars being spent would make incumbents even harder to out.

What do we need? Some victories. That is true. But which issues should be first?

6:10 Congressman Cooper:

The system is hopelessly broken. We have to make change happen. (and he is done, wow that was quick).

6:07 – Is this destined to fail? Can we Change Congress? Perhaps, but nonetheless we need to try. </end>

5:59 – We need lots of people to make this work. People like YOU!

Reagan and Jefferson both feared capture of gov’t. But who is capturing gov’t? It is us. And this is profoundly destructive. (oh and there is the Mickey shout out I alluded to earlier).

5:48 – Earmarks. Not mostly a cost problem, but a corruption and corrosion problem.

Earmark example in OR. I find it interesting that he has used mostly democrat examples. I wonder if this was intentional so that it can’t be easily dismissed by people on the right?

Level 1 of CC (Change Congress, not Creative Commons although that is interesting isn’t it?). A way for candidates and citizens to pledge commitment.

Level 2 of CC. The wiki like tracking function. See Congressman Cooper here.
Level 3 of CC. Emily’s list model, become an organization driving for reform.

5:41 – 88% of people (in the Bay Area at least) believe that money changes outcomes. Even if it doesn’t actually change things everyone believes it. So what do we need to do? Change the role of money.

Public Financing of Elections. Why is gov’t so big? -> B/c congressmen must get elected. Now that is clever. I like it. Could public financing be shown to pay for itself by reducing the size of unnecessary gov’t?

Might this work with “safe” districts?

5:28 – Is the gov’t stupid? Larry says no. The system is just busted. Well doesn’t that mean the gov’t is stupid right now? It just doesn’t require that is has to be stupid forever…

Congressmen are good people just working in a system that drives them to do bad things.

Story about vaccines. The vaccine process might be good,the process just looks very bad. As a result some people don’t vaccinate their kids. That ain’t good.

Shout out to Maxed Out! You go Prof Warren. (ps. Unintentional puns are the best ones.)

5:22 – (c). Gov’t always extend (c) retrospectively. Why does the gov’t get this wrong? I think I saw an ominous Mickey Mouse shadow in the background of the last slide.

Sugar. Ok, that is just scary. But what is gov’t doing telling us what to eat anyway?

Global Warming.

5:18 – <geeks>. Larry was invited to MSFT? Wow. The 90s were crazy (and oh yeah baysian filters, those were the days). But geeks solve problems without thinking about law. I see east coast code vs. west coast code showdown coming (it sort of came…). Geeks think gov’t is hopeless (or just stupid?). My money is on the latter.

5:16 – <teachers>. Drug companies spend lots of money getting doctors to like their products. They also spend lots of money on “false science”. This is a corruption of science.

5:12 – <stories>. So raise your hand if you thought that Lessig would start with Ronald Reagan? I totally dig it but I feel like I might be in the minority on that one.

5:11 – Welcome Larry! (and the lights go down). Ok, the CA weather joke is getting old everybody. We don’t need to be reminded that the weather here sucks. We know every time we look outside.

5:07 – JP giving the introduction. 10th Anniversary of Berkman, happy to welcome back Larry (he has lots of history here). So, if Larry really wants to get this Change Congress thing moving he should probably head back to the East Coast. The shuttle makes it real quick to get down to DC Larry! I’m sure Dean Kagan would go for it. We’ve hired away all of UofC and a good chunk of Yale, we need to get started on Stanford.

5:05 – Tick tock? Congressman Cooper is in the house (or at least his doppleganger)

4:57 – More people watching: room looks ‘full’ though there are a good number of empty seats scattered around. Also, Larry and Terry Fisher have an uncanny resemblance. They were just standing together at the front of the room and but for Larry having his hair slicked back you might have thought they were brothers.

4:49 – A lot more people here now, I totally suck at guessing crowd sizes but I’d say at least twice as many as earlier (maybe even more). No one really exciting in the audience yet (aside from all the Berkman folks of course). However, I probably wouldn’t recognize many internet famous people anyway aside from the Tron Guy and only then if he was in costume.

4:39 – Got a quick preview of the deck, first slide is <stories>. Good looking group so far, I’d say more than 50 people all ready and we are still 20 minutes out.

Oh and Larry just walked in.


In a little bit (hopefully around 5?) I am going to be live blogging Larry Lessig’s presentation at HLS on “Building the Change Congress Movement”. However, in the mean time I’d thought I’d throw up some links for folks to check out if they are interested:

Live Webcast! (starting at 5ish obviously)

Berkman Center Announcement

Since this is being webcast, and I feel safe assuming archived, there will be less transcription and more commentary (yay or boo? let’s go with yay for now and reevaluate later).

1 Comment

  1. bepa

    April 6, 2008 @ 5:28 pm


    I thought this presentation was great – very inspiring. Just wanted to throw that out there.

    For those of you who didn’t get a chance to go, I’d definitely recommend watching it online!