I know, it's really, really frustrating. But what can you do? Giving up should not be an option for the progressive movement (setting aside the progressive representatives, for a minute). I think this is one of those things where we have to demonstrate that there's sufficient electoral power behind universally-available Medicare to cause, at the minimum, a good deal of worry for incumbents.
That's an interesting point, and the implied legislative strategy (ie. getting to universal Medicare by continually dropping the buy-in age, as a negotiating strategy) is not a bad one. Of course, it'd be nice to build the necessary electoral power to make the system universal in one shot - both as a matter of basic justice and also because it would help make the system more stable.
Actually, nearly all of my "conversations" were with answering machines, so I have no idea whether or not they were effective. I hadn't, unfortunately, thought up an elevator speech until I got home - which is the one thing you really need when you're talking to an answering machine, naturally.
In any case, I tried a few different versions. At the end what I was doing most often was starting the message off by saying something like "we'd like to encourage Sens. Snow and Collins to support a strong public option to provide competition for traditional insurance companies", and ending it with something like "please call Sens. Snowe and Collins and make sure to stress that we need a strong public option, so that everyone can have quality, affordable health care."
I definitely know what you mean. There have been some real disappointments this year.
On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in the principle of crowdsourcing, i.e. the notion that many people working together on a large project can be effective. A large, well-organized group of people working together can beat a small group of well-heeled lobbyists, simply because there are a lot more of us than there are of them. We can learn new tricks more easily, we can be in more places at once, and we control the one thing that really matters (votes).
I'm not certain that we'll win this fight, but if we really can get massive and well-organized participation in the lobbying effort, then I'm hopeful.
I'm a little confused. I was under the impression that in most states, consumers pay by the kilowatt-hour and that the rates are basically constant with perhaps a few tiers for peak/off-peak consumption and the like, adjusted now and again by regulators for things like inflation. Under that kind of a regime, higher volume of consumption means more revenue - although certainly, utilities might still have legitimate reason to support energy efficiency (they may not be interested in undertaking a big power plant construction process, for example.) So far as I know California's decoupling policy does what you describe - i.e., allow regulators to set rates to reflect capital investment plus a reasonable rate of return. And I was also under the impression that the decoupling policy's been reasonably successful at reducing energy usage, although no doubt the efficient building standards and other regulations helped as well. The CPUC (which understandably has a pro-decoupling bias) claims that decoupling has led to reduced usage, and most of the critics I've read seem to agree; is there evidence to the contrary?
None of which is to say that facilitating ROI on renewable energy is a bad goal. But as far as I can tell, that is exactly what decoupling facilitates - as I mentioned above, all the buzz at clean technology startup presentations seems to be about the profit potential represented by the California decoupled rates.
I'm not saying that decoupling is the only way to discourage consumption while encouraging clean technology, but everything I've read and seen suggests that it's at least one successful approach. I'd certainly be interested to hear about others.
I can see how you might be frustrated with it, but I have to disagree with you on the technical merits of Drupal. Going under the hood with Drupal is quite easy and painless, once you've learned your way around, and it's quite easy to develop new features. Compared to Wordpress and Joomla, it seems to me that Drupal is a much stronger technical platform.
That is a good example, and in fact I'd say there have been quite a lot of good examples to come out of TPM over the last few years. Notice, however, that most of them have been driven by the front pagers to some degree (at least as far as I recall - it was Josh asking people to make the calls and get back to him with results, I think). Successful projects which are more or less completely reader-driven are much less common.
Thanks for your comment. I agree that ease of use is one of the most important aspects to a blogging platform, and is probably why Drupal has not made much headway in that sector. I certainly do intend to add ease-of-use features to the software in time, probably in Stage 2 of the roadmap (I'm now early in Stage 1).
In any case, the administrative role here is actually a usability improvement - it allows the owner to get around the system and see only the administrative features that she needs, and nothing extraneous. It's entirely possible that an owner could go weeks or months without needing to log in as the administrative user at all.
I developed a very simple module called Auto Promote which allows you to designate one or more roles as having permission to "write automatically promoted content". You also specify which types of content are automatically promoted, so that if a front pager edits a page (for example), it doesn't need to get promoted. I've submitted it as a contributed module, and hopefully it'll be accepted soon. Look for it under the code "autopromote".
I've also seen a suggestion to write a view which filters for all blog posts written by users with the front pager role, and make that your site's home page. That would work too, but I like the idea of using Drupal's native promote feature, since that's what it was meant for. Also, this method allows you to bump posts written by non-front-pagers in the usual way, i.e. by ticking off the promote checkbox on a one-off basis.
I wrote up an "Auto Promote" module which will allow administrators to designate certain roles who can write automatically-promoted content today. So you'll be able to create a front pagers role, give that role the "write automatically promoted content" permission, and then let your front pagers blog away. I'm working on getting that contributed right now.
Can you give me some more detail on what you mean by the various karma schemes not working well, and which ones worked best? I'll probably be working on something like this soon, so I'd be interested to hear what problems you came across. (This is in reference to issue 2).
I agree with you that a hosted blogging platform probably should be closer to $50 / month than $15 - if you're taking the hosting provider's point of view. But if you look at it from the blogger's point of view, that's $600 / year to launch a blog that might or might not be a success, might or might not need to be abandoned for more pressing concerns, etc. On the whole, it's definitely better to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible, both because it makes it easy for low-income folks to get on board, and because it encourages experimentation.
I didn't realize you had something cooking. I do know a bit of Rails, but at this point I'm quite rusty - I've been doing Drupal (and a bit of Wordpress) for a couple of years. I'm going to see what I can get done in Drupal, if nothing else as a challenge to myself, but I'm very interested to see what's coming down the pike in Rails!
To my knowledge, the closest thing to Advokit available for Drupal, and it's not very close, is CiviCRM. That's more for contact relationship management.
Adding campaign management features to Drupal, or perhaps on top of CiviCRM separately, might be really nice, but I think it's a little too far removed from this project. And it's also a much more complicated problem to solve than community blogging is. After all, we're talking about a blogging platform, not a campaign website platform. That being said, if there was a readymade campaign management module available for Drupal, it would be fairly easy for a blogger to add that functionality into the community blogging platform.