Skip

I've been waiting for me
November 6, 2008 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Change.gov, office of the president-elect went live today. Submit your story. Share your vision. Get a non-career job in the administration, or get ready to get involved.
posted by cashman (188 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
Remember when you thought it was all going to stop on November 4? Heh.
posted by nitsuj at 2:34 PM on November 6, 2008


This is exactly what I hoped they would do. It would be foolish to take the huge network they built during the campaign and not build on it nationwide. I am so signed up!
posted by Biblio at 2:35 PM on November 6, 2008


New Plan:

1. Apply for non-career job with administration.
2. Get hired.
3. ???
4. Give Obama a bear hug and weep into his chest until I'm taken away by security.
posted by farishta at 2:37 PM on November 6, 2008 [50 favorites]


Cool.

How do you get a .gov domain anyway, and who owned change.gov before Barack did? Way Back Machoine has no entry for it. Funny that it has never been used until now.
posted by salishsea at 2:38 PM on November 6, 2008


Didn't you read Obama's email? He said he would be in touch in a few days. I didn't doubt he had Big Plans. I just hope we continue to get occasional YouTube things.
posted by Tehanu at 2:41 PM on November 6, 2008


I first heard about change.gov yesterday salishsea. There was nothing at a URL, but they mentioned to the press that it would go live sometime yesterday afternoon.

It is not ooooover. No precious.
posted by Tehanu at 2:43 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


My god.

He's using jQuery.

A .gov site that looks that good- I'm actually choking up.
posted by potch at 2:50 PM on November 6, 2008 [24 favorites]


Freakin' awesome.
One of my sincere hopes has been that Obama and the DNC wouldn't retire the massive machine they created back in the primaries; everything I've read about the sophistication of the volunteer organization has made me hope that it could be retooled for public service.

Also, it would be useful in keeping the Administration's feet to the fire.
posted by lekvar at 2:50 PM on November 6, 2008


I would like him to hire Eric Schmidt as CTO for the government.
posted by empath at 2:51 PM on November 6, 2008


I wonder if McCain's team had a similar website prepared. Nothing at statusquo.gov...
posted by Knappster at 2:53 PM on November 6, 2008 [26 favorites]


This is the first time ever that I've wanted to move to the US on politics alone. The weather would be a mere bonus. I can't wipe the grin off my face.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:55 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


No suitable nodes are available to serve your request.

Are 'nodes' like the opposite-spectrum version of 'dittoheads'? Because if so, they need a catchier name. I prefer Obamaniacs.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:57 PM on November 6, 2008


Yes! And I was wondering what I was going to do after the election. Looks like I might not have to go back to a real job so soon, after all!
posted by ignignokt at 2:59 PM on November 6, 2008


Knappster, no offense, but the election's over, we won. Let's stop campaigning and get down to business.
posted by jonmc at 2:59 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


What happened to my pants and my TV?!?!!?
posted by GavinR at 3:01 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


What does "non career" mean? A position as long as the current administration exists?
posted by mrmojoflying at 3:12 PM on November 6, 2008


This is amazing.

I'm actually considering applying for a job. I'd love to do something for Obama in communications. On the other hand...it might be just a little looneyball to uproot my life and begin anew in DC as a temp for Obama.
posted by Miko at 3:14 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


What does "non career" mean? A position as long as the current administration exists?
Yes.
posted by atrazine at 3:16 PM on November 6, 2008


The .gov top-level-domain (along with .fed.us and .mil, among others) is administered by the GAO. Qualifications. Mostly, they're formally constituted governmental entities, but aren't even limited to the federal government.

Although I would have preferred to exclude them, there are a handful of partisan websites such as www.dems.gov and www.gop.gov. "www.change.gov" frankly sounds a bit like keyword-squatting to me, and I wonder if it will be available to the next President-elect....
posted by dhartung at 3:17 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. I had expectations and I had hope for this administration, but this is simply an amazing and overdue idea. And I am more impressed than I was before.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 3:18 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


After 20 years of the GOP saying that everybody working for government is a lazy mooch, it'll be a refreshing change for people to consider it, you know, 'serving the country'. I'm tempted to go back to work for the federal government now. It should be an exciting time.
posted by empath at 3:19 PM on November 6, 2008


Fuck, they're good.
posted by gman at 3:20 PM on November 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


Barack Obama is my new bicycle.

Seriously, this is very cool. Just the appearance of openness is pretty amazing.

And I did apply for a job. Device55: Secretary of Furniture.

(the first thing we do is get rid of that old oak desk and replace it with a big round Herman Miller conference tables. Aeron chairs all around)
posted by device55 at 3:23 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is just the first step in a platform of government transparency. Let's not forget his proposal to post non-emergency bills online, for five days before signing, for Americans to comment on them and more:
To aid accountability, Obama said he would post all non-emergency bills online for five days before he signed them into law, allowing Americans a chance to weigh in on the legislation. In addition, he said he would post all meetings between lobbyists and government agencies online.

Obama said he would require cabinet officials to speak to Americans via national broadband town-hall style meetings to discuss issues at their respective agencies.
Like FDR, he's a president who's fully aware of the available technology and utilizes it, to aid his governance and give Americans a stake. This quality alone impresses the hell out of me. I'm just wondering when he's going to release his own OS (undoubtedly open source, to be sure).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:24 PM on November 6, 2008 [23 favorites]


... and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.

I'm dreaming, right? This is some kind of fatigue-induced vision of utopia, but I'm really unconscious?
posted by lekvar at 3:27 PM on November 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Just this morning we were speculating about how Obama was going to recruit his campaign volunteers into a service corps. We were joking that he would start the Yes-We-Can-Sketeers or some such. The lists of volunteer corps aren't that far off.

We know the logo-wear will be awesome.
posted by Miko at 3:30 PM on November 6, 2008


Hallelujah. This makes me happier than the election results.
posted by itesser at 3:35 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this were we tell Barry not to put fucking Larry Summers up as Treasury Secretary?
posted by afu at 3:40 PM on November 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Oratory *and* graphic design! I'm going to have to hire an aide to take care of all the crap I'm making in my pants.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:40 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm disappointed they don't have comments enabled.
posted by empath at 3:42 PM on November 6, 2008


Is this were we tell Barry not to put fucking Larry Summers up as Treasury Secretary?

Wow, 2 days and people are already bitching.
posted by empath at 3:44 PM on November 6, 2008


Filling this out and hitting "submit" is the first time in 13 years I've come even close to applying for a new job.

I love him so.
posted by tristeza at 3:44 PM on November 6, 2008


Knappster, no offense, but the election's over, we won. Let's stop campaigning and get down to business.

The 2008 election is over. I'm preparing the ground for the 2012 Obama/McCain rematch.
posted by Knappster at 3:44 PM on November 6, 2008


"The Obama National Service Plan: NEED CONTENT"

Hmmm... either the web team hasn't completely finished building the site yet, or President-elect Obama has contented all the country's needs in a mere 48 hours.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:47 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


I just hope we continue to get occasional YouTube things.

YouTube things
posted by wildcrdj at 3:52 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


The 2008 election is over. I'm preparing the ground for the 2012 Obama/McCain rematch.

With all due respect, one of the reasons I'm glad Obama won is that maybe the temperature of political rhetoric can cool down a tad. For the past 8 years, Bush & Co. have made it so that discussing politics is like stepping into a phonebooth full of angry bees and too often we've obliged them by responding in kind.

Also, two years of electioneering is too damned tiring. If I were in charge, I'd limit it to a year, just to give everyone a rest.

And I don't think McCain will run again. He looked almost relieved inhis concession speech, and politically speaking, Palin is toast.
posted by jonmc at 3:53 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would like him to hire Eric Schmidt as CTO for the government.
Who's Obama's Best Bet For Boosting U.S. Technology? -- "It appears that Silicon Valley will hold Barack Obama to his promise to consider naming a national technology czar/chief technology officer for his administration, and industry observers already have a few suggestions for the president-elect. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been mentioned as a contender, largely due to his public support for Obama, which included campaign appearances in mid-October."

Obama Names Tech Execs to Transition Team -- "Google.org's Sonal Shah and former InterActiveCorp executive Julius Genachowski are named to the president-elect's transition team."

John Doerr's Advice to Obama: Take Bill Joy -- "In an interview with John Heilemann at the Web 2.0 Summit here today, Kleiner-Perkins VC John Doerr, formerly a Hilary Clinton supporter, relayed the technology advice he would have for President-elect Obama."

Obama's Search for a CTO -- "As the president-elect's transition team assembles an administration, it could look to one of its own to fill the role of chief technology officer."
posted by ericb at 3:56 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


What's the opposite of shame and embarrassment? Pride? Something like that. It's new and unfamiliar, so I can't put my finger on it.
posted by mike_bling at 3:57 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


4. Give Obama a bear hug and weep into his chest until I'm taken away by security.

Has the Secret Service discussed the possibility of deadly love-ins and hugganations?


So what would it be like working in a Volunteer Corp like this? Will we be carrying large bushels of wheat, smiling toward the glorious future?

Cause I could be down with that.
posted by The Whelk at 3:59 PM on November 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.

That's a lot of corps (corpses? corpseses?). He's gonna need a Corps Corps to keep track of them all.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:07 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I humbly request Larry Lessig to be considered for a position. Maybe IP Czar? How hilarious would that be.
posted by naju at 4:12 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's the opposite of shame and embarrassment? Pride? Something like that. It's new and unfamiliar, so I can't put my finger on it.

IT'S DIGNITY. Haven't you ever seen DIGNITY before?

Alright, fine. YOU draw it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:17 PM on November 6, 2008 [23 favorites]


Shit, I was going to post the Blueprint for Change item-by-item to a website and keep tabs on what was achieved, along with a bigass counter of the days of his term remaining.

This is way awesomer.
posted by odinsdream at 4:21 PM on November 6, 2008


Wow, it all sounds too good to be true. If we actually do all the stuff they talk about, we might turn into Canada or something. Heck, if we accomplish even 10% of the agenda it will be a massive improvement. Is that too much to hope for?

I applied for a job too. I want to be Secretary of Crossword Puzzles.
posted by Quietgal at 4:22 PM on November 6, 2008


How do I get on that Clean Energy Corp? What can I do? Where do I start? SEND ME MY INDOCTRINATION MATERIALS AND COPY OF THE QU'RAN
posted by DU at 4:23 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


All this, and Free Stickers, too!
posted by empath at 4:26 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I used to doubt that Islam and Socialism had all the answers but those doubts are fading away.
posted by DU at 4:28 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Fantastic concept carried out with style. America, I think the world is going to be looking up to you guys again.

(And, yes, as someone living in a Commonwealth country moving to another Commonwealth country, I am a little bit jhellis right now).
posted by Megami at 4:31 PM on November 6, 2008


Wait wait wait. What I meant to say was: "I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and start hating America!"
posted by DU at 4:33 PM on November 6, 2008


Just noted here: The strong, strong contrast with the uncommunicative, lockdown Bush Adminstration. Even their whitehouse.gov page was often out of date, and the press couldn't get information out of them. This bodes well for a much different attitude toward public information.
posted by Miko at 4:33 PM on November 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


It's not just the internet. I can't believe how quickly Obama's troops are moving on the ground. We've been told to have workstations ready for transition folks by Monday! I don't think we made it on to the Bush calendar until about 5 months in.

What does "non career" mean? A position as long as the current administration exists?
Yes.


And you're not covered by most of the employment protections or competitive requirements that apply to career feds. You serve at the pleasure of the executive you work for--depending on who that is, it could be a dream job or it could suck ginormous, hairy balls.
posted by weebil at 4:46 PM on November 6, 2008


This site is brilliant and beautiful. I've never felt so in touch with the leadership of the country. Creating a direct line between the people and the administration reinforces the idea that we are the ones our leaders should be beholden to. But it also reminds us that we should be paying close attention to what they are doing in office.

Note the For the People, By the People page. It is similar to the "Your Vision" page but focuses on specific issues. Though I'm a bit skeptical, I really hope that the concerns and suggestions will be taken into consideration. In addition to this, I'd like to keep getting emails in my inbox from Obama and Biden. He says I can call him 'Joe.'
posted by inconsequentialist at 4:55 PM on November 6, 2008


We've been told to have workstations ready for transition folks by Monday! I don't think we made it on to the Bush calendar until about 5 months in.

Who is "we"?
posted by DU at 4:57 PM on November 6, 2008


Didn't actually read through the site earlier, just noted the fun stylistic and multimedia stuff.

Now that I'm digging around more, I do believe I am hallucinating. It's all the things we all keep saying they should be doing.... all in one fell swoop like a magic genie.

I just hope we continue to get occasional YouTube things.

YouTube things


OMFG. I want to make out with his web staff.
posted by Tehanu at 4:57 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's all great about the planning and organization and shit, but what's with the friggin' UFO landing over their shoulders? Looks like a scene out of Close Encounters.

Yeah, I know it's a dodged stadium light.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:03 PM on November 6, 2008


The Obama-Biden Transition Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.
God DAMN that is the most fucking awesome thing I have ever seen on a government web page.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:06 PM on November 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


I am filling out that application form RIGHT NOW.
posted by Tehanu at 5:09 PM on November 6, 2008


I'm waiting for the daughters to get a hold of the ChangeDotGov YouTube account and start sending their dad videos, thinking it's only to him, telling him that the dog pooped in his shoe, and they didn't clean it up, but they were sorry and that he shouldn't wear his shoes tomorrow. Or Obama making a LEAVE BIDEN ALONE! video, where they point out he's a bit crazy, and not always great with words, but he's MY VICE PRESIDENT!

You know, something more You-Tubey. Because fancy YouTube videos just feel kinda weird.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:09 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wonderful site, I too feel full of excitement and want to apply for something! Lesseee...what am I qualified for that is non-career? (scratches head)

... politically speaking, Palin is toast.

I'm not so certain of that...
posted by arnicae at 5:12 PM on November 6, 2008


And I'm imagining the Change.gov Agenda page being updated every 3 months, with the first revision looking something like this:

"Now that we've revived the economy, successfully nationalized health care, ramped up support of our education and social security systems, have not only defined but made significant progress towards to energy independence, ended the war in Iraq AND quelled sectarian violence, and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and converted Iran into an example of nuclear clean-up, we're going to have a nation-wide picnic next week. Spring is in the air, and things are looking good. So won't you join us, and enjoy the outdoors and the company of your neighbors? We'll start working on cleaning China's factories next week."
posted by filthy light thief at 5:16 PM on November 6, 2008 [14 favorites]


I miss those text messages from the campaign already.
posted by empath at 5:22 PM on November 6, 2008


We'll start working on cleaning China's factories next week.

This fall, join us on Mars and we hope to be at Alpha Centauri by Christmas. At that point we will have won Civilization and will be open to ideas for the next step.
posted by DU at 5:22 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


And I'm imagining ...

Yep, you are. It will take a lot of time, effort, and, yes, sacrifice/contribution of all Americans to address these issues and challenges.
posted by ericb at 5:24 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want a podcast of his weekly radio addresses.
posted by inconsequentialist at 5:27 PM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Not that that's a bad thing. Imagination is the first step towards change.
posted by DU at 5:27 PM on November 6, 2008


But then what will he do for days 101-200?
posted by yeti at 5:37 PM on November 6, 2008


as inconsequentialist points out, there's even a suggestion box. I'm astounded.
posted by lekvar at 5:38 PM on November 6, 2008


I'm afraid to type my ideas into the suggestion box. I mean I only think about them every day.
posted by Tehanu at 5:51 PM on November 6, 2008


Compare this to the DHS ready.gov site which took months to update and cost millions of dollars, yet ended up looking like a typosquatter site.

Imagine a world without no-bid pork for beltway web design firms? Yes we can.
posted by benzenedream at 5:53 PM on November 6, 2008


So far my only ideas for the new administration are (1) FREE STICKERS FOR EVERYONE and (2) sign up to take turns to walk the PresidentialPuppy. Far too embarrassed to actually submit them, though.
posted by brain cloud at 6:00 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, I just figured out what all those job applications will be for. They're gonna need people to read the crapflood of comments that will pour in from the suggestion box. Seriously, inviting the American people to give the government a piece of their mind? It's gonna be Democracy Meets YouTube.
posted by Quietgal at 6:06 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


What's up with the requirements of community service? 100 hours every year in college? That's two and a half weeks working 9-5. I'm all for community service but that seems like a lot, no?
posted by yeti at 6:13 PM on November 6, 2008


$25 billion rescue plan for states and small families.

$30 billion in arms aid to Israel!

When are we going to figure out that we can't afford Israel any more than we can afford Iraq?
posted by scarabic at 6:13 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I want a podcast of his weekly radio addresses.

My friends...

Wait, wrong winner.
posted by ryoshu at 6:15 PM on November 6, 2008


When they said "you are the change you seek", I figured it was just a rallying call. I didn't know I'd have to actually turn off the TV and ... ya know.. do stuff.
posted by revmitcz at 6:30 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want Obama's address introduction to be "What's up, you guys."
posted by inconsequentialist at 6:34 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's two and a half weeks working 9-5. I'm all for community service but that seems like a lot, no?

Is this a joke?
posted by DU at 6:47 PM on November 6, 2008 [20 favorites]


This makes speculating on Time Magazine's imminent Person of the Year choice, just about the most boring discussion.
posted by gman at 6:48 PM on November 6, 2008


Approx. 2/hrs week while in college. That doesn't seem like a whole lot considering the ways BO plans to help college students. Plus it will effect a HUGE surge in community service with far-reaching benefits.
posted by skammer at 6:50 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm a little worried about the alien spacecraft looming over Barry and Joe. You can't take them away yet!
posted by lukemeister at 6:57 PM on November 6, 2008


One of my pet theories has been that Obama might have been _too_ successful. For instance, after leading a massive $150-million-revenue-a-month organization, he might find leading a lethargic enterprise with a couple of trillions worth of deficit a bit stifling.
posted by the cydonian at 6:57 PM on November 6, 2008


yeti: "What's up with the requirements of community service? 100 hours every year in college? That's two and a half weeks working 9-5. I'm all for community service but that seems like a lot, no?"

Or possibly two hours a week for about a year. That, to me, doesn't seem too difficult.

On preview: Beaten to the punch by skammer.
posted by mindless progress at 7:02 PM on November 6, 2008


yeti: "What's up with the requirements of community service? 100 hours every year in college? That's two and a half weeks working 9-5. I'm all for community service but that seems like a lot, no?"

Or possibly two hours a week for about a year. That, to me, doesn't seem too difficult.


Or one day a month all year, or their holiday break...it's really not a lot to ask. And it's an indicator of how badly we need this that some might think it's out of bounds.
posted by lunasol at 7:07 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Who is "we"?

Ah..."we" would be a federal agency that administers a social insurance program affectionately referred to as the Third Rail of American Politics. We will not be leaderless on Jan 20 (as an independent agency, our Commissioner's term does not follow the presidential cycle) and, considering the economy and wars, we're not exactly a high priority, so I'm shocked that a transition team will be arriving so early.

Sorry for the obfuscation, but I would prefer to retain a degree or two of separation between username and employer.
posted by weebil at 7:07 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just get this giddy feeling after skimming through some of the agenda that America elected a dynamic and pragmatic President that's going to engineer one hell of an engine for change in the USA and the world.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:23 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The implications of this are simply revolutionary. First, they can effectively go around the media. There's an E-mail signup widget. Obama's foes launch a political attack? The answer is dropped in 150 million in-boxes. He literally changes opinion underneath them. The media is a for-profit entity--they will have to follow, not interpose.

Second--issue based social networking gets citizens engaged in government. It is interactive government. Obama's campaign was a culture of participation. Imagine the health-care rollout. Millions interacting on the questions of the day. The Obama Administration will be able to judge the temperature of the electorate on nearly any issue.

Let's step out internationally. Internet diplomacy. Conditions don't exist for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation? How about a U.S.-sponsored Middle East Peace social networking destination where Palestinians in internet cafes start a dialog with people on laptops in a Tel Aviv Starbucks. Want to diffuse radical Islam? The U.S. Information Agency can create a social networking page where the U.S. Government can, in super-slick mode, push a rapproachment between the Arab Street and America.

It all fits with Obama's world view. Much has been made about his interest in the views of Saul Alinsky and his idea that you must create the social and cultural conditions for change before making them. The Internet becomes the place where a real dialog could take place.

Your problem, of course, is moderation and the First Amendment.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:24 PM on November 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


John Doerr's Advice to Obama: Take Bill Joy

So charged a choice would hardly exemplify the inclusiveness and spirit of unity we were promised. I understand that Obama needs to differentiate his administration from the Lispy Clinton years, but I hope and expect that he and his team are not so foolish as to exacerbate the anger over the FISA vote by snubbing the editor that has been fighting NSA wiretapping since 1987. Mr. Joy: :q! and C-x C-c to you, sir!

Just kidding! Your editor is nice too.
posted by enn at 7:36 PM on November 6, 2008


Heh. The signup form is using "lorem ipsum" for its text. 99/100? :)
posted by adamt at 7:38 PM on November 6, 2008


I've applied for the position of Secretary of Procrastination. Well, I'm going to tomorrow, in any case. No later than the day after that, for sure.
posted by maxwelton at 7:40 PM on November 6, 2008


Is Secretary of Naps taken? Well, I guess that one will be offered to McCain as a courtesy, but if U.S. citizenship isn't a prerequisite I'd be a damn good choice.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:52 PM on November 6, 2008


Where was the link to that signup form?
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on November 6, 2008


Where was the link to that signup form?

heeeyah: http://www.change.gov/page/s/application
posted by brain cloud at 8:02 PM on November 6, 2008


The signup widget at the top of the page takes you longer sign up form if it doesn't like what you've entered.
posted by adamt at 8:04 PM on November 6, 2008


Some positions will require Senate confirmation while others will not.

Ugh, I hate it when jobs ask for Senate confirmation, the job market is bad enough, give us a break.

Oh, and, seems like some of us are still hungover (99/100).....
METAFILTER = Providing Quality Control for the Internet since 1999
posted by hazel at 8:05 PM on November 6, 2008


inconsequentialist: Obama was doing podcasts on his Senate site for awhile, but I think he prefers YouTube, as it gets to a larger audience quicker.
posted by Asim at 8:14 PM on November 6, 2008


Cool. We can watch as he appoints a parade of "centrists", republicans, and straight white men to top cabinet positions!
posted by serazin at 8:33 PM on November 6, 2008


But then what will he do for days 101-200?

Gladiatorial Games. Those imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay will get their trial in the arena mano e mano against members of the Bush Administration. Winners are absolved of all wrongdoing.
posted by clearly at 8:36 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I read that site, kinda scary. Like that feeling you get when you've got some cushy, but lame job that you complain about all the time, then some go-getter gets hired and goes ahead and implements all those changes you've been wanting, and now you actually have to WORK.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:42 PM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


What's the opposite of

.

?

Whatever it is, that's what I want to say. For America.
posted by alms at 8:46 PM on November 6, 2008


I find it very disturbing that they don't have an agenda for the environment. "Green jobs" is not adequate.

I think I will write one up and send it as a suggestion.
posted by fshgrl at 8:52 PM on November 6, 2008


OK, I have to admit I just submitted an Obamaidea, and it was a purely selfish one. I demanded a la carte cable.
posted by brain cloud at 9:10 PM on November 6, 2008


National Picnic Day is a really good idea no matter what.
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


National Picnic Day is a really good idea no matter what.

OMG YES, National Picnic Day! with free stickers for everyone
posted by brain cloud at 9:25 PM on November 6, 2008


Through all of the primaries, through all of the campaigning, through the whole kit and kaboodle including the vote tallying and the partying in the street, I've been detached from the whole thing. I paid attention, sure, and I ultimately decided that I wanted to vote for Obama, but I didn't "drink the kool-aid" as it were.

And then I read this...

... and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools...

...which is something I've been hoping the president would do for at least fifteen years of my life. And now, suddenly, I'm pumped. I'm excited. And I'm signing up for that Corps as soon as they figure out what it is and what I have to do to raise my hand and shout "me me me!"

A coworker of mine pointed out this site today, and called it "The New New Deal" and "Our generation's New Deal" -- I don't know if I'd call it that, but damn if I didn't lose some of my cynicism just now.

feels nice
posted by davejay at 9:54 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or one day a month all year, or their holiday break...it's really not a lot to ask. And it's an indicator of how badly we need this that some might think it's out of bounds.

Indeed, though there are folks making far worse claims about this than that it 'might be a bit much' - the libertarian/right wing (and remember we only won by 6% or whatever) think it's communism or a coming police state or something. Hopefully that wouldn't be a significant enough percentage to destroy the plan... I guess it would probably be done similar to like gym credits or whatever anyway, in that you could get the requirement waived if you really wanted, but you'd be expected to fulfill it.

I was disappointed not to see anything directly addressing LGBT concerns - it's sort of umbrella'd into "civil rights" with a reference to the Matthew Shepherd act, but that's it as far as I can see.

But overall, poverty, education, health care - it is great to be able to see some ideas in writing.
posted by mdn at 9:56 PM on November 6, 2008


Indeed, though there are fucks making far worse claims

FTFY
posted by cashman at 10:04 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Color me immediately impressed. I know Obama talked about government transparency several times during the campaign ("Google for Government" etc. etc.) but I didn't expect him to follow through on it as quickly as he did.

Even more encouraging is the establishment of the Change.gov YouTube channel. Wow. If this is anything like the campaign channel, it'll have everything but the kitchen sink. The YouTube and Flickr accounts were my favorite parts of following the campaign, just being able to see everything that went down behind the scenes (for better or worse) made me like this guy a LOT more.

I think there's an additional benefit to such transparency... it's a reminder that our politicians are human, just like us, rather than that all-too-common image of being larger than life. I don't know when I started thinking this, or if I've always been this way, but I've fended off any temptation to hate on our leaders for frivolous reasons by remembering that even with the best education and all the experience in the world, NOBODY is immune to screwing up here and there (even if at times they falter more often than one would like).

Short version: Yay Obama, yay for keeping the cameras rolling!
Hopefully he gets some footage of the upcoming First Puppy, too.
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 10:09 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm getting the feeling that Obama and the Dems might be thinking about moving a lot faster then people think. A second 100 Days to rival FDR. Why else do you have your transition team move so fast? Not a week after the election and you have your peole moving into the agencies. They aren't taking a break from the campaign at all.

BTW, do you all know how hard it is gonna be to get inaugural tickets? I live in DC and it is crazy here.

In reality, his greatest amount of political capital is when he takes his hand off the Bible. I could see them getting bills out there quick. If Pelosi goes along, they can work really, really fast. How about healthcare in six months?

Obama has got a level of political quickness I've never seen. Remember Hillary's 3 A.M. phone call ad? Obama had a response ad released using the same theme and some of the stock footage making his case that judgment is what is needed when that phone rings.

Hell, when McCain rolled out Joe the Plumber in the debate, Obama took the metaphor and ran with it, explaining that Joe would be better off under his tax plan.

I did field work on his campaign and was an attorney-observer at a poll. The operation was a marvel of speed, where turnout numbers were phoned in via entering the number with the phone pad directly in the database. When the polls opened we checked in. I can see a big map in Obama's HQ lighting up with every precinct reporting in. A real-time view of where there might be holes in the coverage or other problems.

These guys are looking to bring some revolutionary technical and mesaaging methods to the poltical/governmental arena. I'm not using that term lightly.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


They apparently have good judgment about potential staffers.
(mathowie)
hat tip mrzarquon
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:15 PM on November 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Are the hundred hours of community service for college students in the education policy the same hundred hours referred to on the America Serves page? Or would students receiving the tax credits be expected to do 200 hours? That would seem to be pushing it to me. Unlike the freerepublic posters I don't see "community service" and think "re-education camp" but the statement, as written on America Servers page, does seem like a one sided deal. I don't recall hearing the fifty hours for middle and high school mentioned during the campaign either so I'm not sure what to make of that.
posted by adamt at 10:52 PM on November 6, 2008


Cool. We can watch as he appoints a parade of "centrists", republicans, and straight white men to top cabinet positions!

With all due respect, the "it doesn't go far enough" brand of cynicism is as damaging as the "it's not going to work so why even try" brand.

I have worked for the federal government my entire adult life (Clinton-I, Clinton-II, 43-I, 43-II). My parents were feds as were my grandfathers, a great-uncle and a great-aunt. I've heard a couple of lifetimes' worth of stories. I've seen good people from both parties and bad people from both parties. I have worked directly for people appointed by Clinton and 43. I will work directly for a person or persons appointed by Obama. My personal political stance is quite a bit left of Obama's and, yet, one of the political appointees I most respect and would work with again, in a heartbeat, came from the Cato Institute. He is smart and dedicated; he holds very strong ideological beliefs. But when the data shows policies based on those beliefs will do more harm than good, he is able to step back, view the situation objectively, and make decisions based on facts rather than his personal creed. This is what we need more of in government--not people who are more comfortable with labels than with logic.

When it comes to cabinet secretaries, agency heads and upper level federal executives, I couldn't care less about their race, religion, national origin, gender identification, sexual orientation, political affiliation, marital status, disability, veteran status, dietary choices, reproductive choices, or whether they prefer cats to dogs. What I care about is the ability to set aside ideology to do what is best for the country and to the ability manage decisively and effectively. The last eight years have been marked by an inability to do the former; the eight before that saw a distinct lack of the latter.

Give me someone who will develop policies that benefit the people, not the party. Give me someone who will abide by a civil servant's form of the Hippocratic Oath. Give me socialists, centrists, or libertarians. Give me straights, gays, lesbians, bis, transgenders, hermaphrodites, or asexuals. Give me white, black, brown, red, yellow, or green with purple polka-dots. Just give me someone who can do the fucking job and do it well.
posted by weebil at 10:56 PM on November 6, 2008 [29 favorites]


Wow. I am overwhelmed. This is so amazing.

And is this a good place to confess how terrible I feel for anything negative I ever said about Obama back in the early days of Clinton vs. Obama? I was so wrong, and I take it all back.
posted by salvia at 10:57 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact that they thought of Matt to work on change.gov solidifies my belief that they are going to go all-out on the internet politically
posted by Ironmouth at 11:04 PM on November 6, 2008


They approached Matt. That's outstanding.
posted by painquale at 11:14 PM on November 6, 2008


Okay, feel free to call me stupid, but where does it say they approached Matt?

(I'm missing something somewhere)
posted by aclevername at 11:33 PM on November 6, 2008


I'm going to submit Bruce Schneier's resume and contact info. I've put him down for Director of the TSA and lead designer of the new federal voting machines*.

* The new machines will not be mandatory. However, they will be secure, reliable, and free to local governments.
posted by ryanrs at 11:35 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Taking a look at what various blogs are saying about change.gov, the right wing seems to be really jumping over the community service proposal. My first instinct was that, well, they sort of have a point about involuntary labor being wrong. But, first of all, you'd have to make a case for why things like compulsory education either a) are also wrong or b) are somehow fundamentally different from compulsory community service in a way that makes them not wrong. Second, if I'm not mistaken, the U.S. already has compulsory community service in high school. Have all the naysayers been as much in a fuss about what's already in place, or is the real problem the fact that the new proposal comes from Barack Hussein Tse Tung?

And like mdn said above, they could always leave some way to opt out, for those who, for whatever reason, really do not want to take part. They'd probably still get a lot done with this plan. I know I could've used a lot more actual work experience as part of my Finnish basic education, and I'd've gladly taken part.

... wait a minute. Who was that? mdn is back! Yay! Welcome! You don't know me, probably, but you're one of my fave mefites, and there are piles of threads on philosophy and religion in which I've intended to respond to you, but haven't had the time to write and think through such lengthy comments as it would have called for.
posted by Anything at 11:54 PM on November 6, 2008


I submitted an idea. I guess now I see whether or not I ever hear anything back? My bets are on no because it is the internet and the government combined, and that is probably going to make for a lot of form letters and auto-replies.

I really want my cynicism to be rectified though, don't get me wrong.
posted by aliceinreality at 1:26 AM on November 7, 2008


What kills me is that all this great stuff could have been done at any point in time during the past eight years. And wasn't. By fucking choice.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:37 AM on November 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


Compulsory community service beats the hell out of mandatory military service, practiced heavily in Israel, though the Right seems not to mind it.

And really. Most college students have at least a few weeks free on one end of the summer or the other. It's easy enough to catch a craigslist ride to Yosemite to lay down trail. Or put in a couple hours a week at a homeless shelter or after school program. This is a way to get people involved with the places they live in again. And to make such involvement (via 4-5 years of work) habitual.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:49 AM on November 7, 2008


When I first saw this post and went to the link I didn't get it. I really thought, "Ok so what?"

Because I didn't know this was not done before.

So freaking obvious it's genius and I am now properly wowed.

As for the community service thing, I am so annoyed with all the bitching about it. How the fuck have we become so selfish that putting in a few hours a week for betterment of our country/world is seen as some sort of oppression?

The middle school service thing is new, but for high school I thought that was pretty normal and most of my friends were all over that anyway because it padded our college applications (fair enough, I went to a bit of nerdy school). And for college students it's voluntary and you get a tax credit.

If it's religious zealots complaining, all the richer. You know what, I bet Jesus wouldn't mind if you spent a couple of hours slopping soup for the homeless. He might actually think you're onto something.
posted by like_neon at 2:28 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Okay, so the fact that they approached #1 means the former campaign/current transition team/future administration is at least marginally aware of Metafilter. And there's probably a good chance they have somebody reading it, and probably paying close attention to political posts in order to gauge reaction and public opinion, etc. If so, I have a message intended for the eyes of that official: please pass the following directly on to President-Elect Obama.

Dear President-Elect Obama,

OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE REALLY HERE EEEEEEEEEEE
posted by penduluum at 2:51 AM on November 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


When I saw the Health Care Corps . . . that's when I really became overwhelmed. I recently left middle college administration, someplace I wasn't so fulfilled, and with a background in the arts, am now back at university to be a nurse practitioner. I've known that it's service that's been motivating me, but I haven't been able to find a center for it--then this. The thing is, I know I'm not the only one who's been waiting for an opportunity to participate in organized, far-reaching, skilled service. The idea of teachers, veterans, health care practitioners, students working side by side in service for their fellow Americans . . . I just don't have words. I have these feelings though--rightness, peace, motivation.
posted by rumposinc at 3:26 AM on November 7, 2008


“We can’t be anti-Hispanic, anti-young person, anti many things and be surprised when we don’t win elections.” -Jeb Bush
posted by gman at 4:33 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Signups are $5
posted by poppo at 4:49 AM on November 7, 2008


Wednesday morning I woke up actually thinking that I had dreamed it. Alternately laughed and cried all day. Yesterday everyone I saw was just glowing. I thought Condoleeza Rice was going to start doing handsprings doing that press appearance, which just set me off again. Then I see this here this morning, and I'm choking up again. I'm so afraid to believe that this guy is the Real Deal, but all signs are good.

going back up to actually read the site and the thread now, but I just had to say that. Hugs all 'round.
posted by nax at 5:00 AM on November 7, 2008


Organization chart for the new administration (PDF)

Note that the president reports up to . . . . "the constitution." Beautiful.

Fuck. Yeah. This is change I can believe in.

No other issue was more important to me than a re-assertion of the constitution's limits on executive power. Here is my fondest wish for this administration, in graphic form, already.

Now if we can just have some trials for the Bush administration and especially the corrupt DoJ officials who ran our nation's justice department like a campaign office.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:08 AM on November 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's a full time job just trying to get people I know to set aside their cynicism for a few weeks.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:48 AM on November 7, 2008


I sent suggestions yesterday. No response so far. But, I'm OK with that. It's been a very long time since I thought that my opinion counted, so I am still surprised that I had enough faith in an administration to even think they cared. This, to me, is the most important gift of this transformation. There is reason for hope.
posted by mightshould at 5:49 AM on November 7, 2008


Note that the president reports up to . . . . "the constitution." Beautiful.

Even better, the vice president reports up to the constitution, too.
posted by alms at 6:14 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Now that we've revived the economy, successfully nationalized health care, ramped up support of our education and social security systems, have not only defined but made significant progress towards to energy independence, ended the war in Iraq AND quelled sectarian violence, and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and converted Iran into an example of nuclear clean-up, we're going to have a nation-wide picnic next week. Spring is in the air, and things are looking good. So won't you join us, and enjoy the outdoors and the company of your neighbors? We'll start working on cleaning China's factories next week."


Having solved all earth's problems by 2011. Obama campaigns in 2012 on a plan to terraform Venus as a "second earth". His opponent, Sarah Palin, calls the plan "fiscally irresponsible" and points out that "god put people on earth for a reason". but Obama counters that our 500 trillion dollar national surplus should cover the costs with plenty left over.

Anyway, the site is cool and obviously it's only been up for a day. But it is missing something, namely any kind of discussion and feedback. There's a suggestion box, but I'd really like a place where people can share their ideas about specific issues. I'd love to promote the "Lessig as IP Czar" idea, as well as propose government loans for solar projects, rather then just tax credits. Seems like that could fit into his infrastructure bank idea.

Obviously the site itself isn't fully flushed out, but right now it's a very one-way.

On the other hand, using a site like this for discussian could be difficult, since you couldn't really boot rightwing trolls who simply want to disrupt the site, it seems like you would have to let everyone express their opinion, even when they are not interested in being constructive.

Oh well, it will be interesting to see how it develops. They actually have an RSS Feed and hopefully they actually use it to announce new features.
posted by delmoi at 6:34 AM on November 7, 2008


My friends and I have gathered around bonfires every Saturday night for the past four months discussing education and pedagogy and how an Obama administration could address some of the problems we encounter as educators at the college level. We have a nice list of regular concerns and proposed solutions. Tomorrow night, I'm guessing we will actually write them up formally and submit them. Color me shocked and impressed.
posted by Heretic at 6:42 AM on November 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Second, if I'm not mistaken, the U.S. already has compulsory community service in high school.

Not that I've ever heard of.

I really dislike this proposal, mostly because in middle school, high school, and most of my one year at a community college I wanted desperately to work but could not legally do so, purportedly because it would have been exploitative of my tender age to employ me.

Guess it's only exploitation if you're getting paid and are allowed to quit.

Not that I don't admire the twisted political genius of drawing the forced labor to implement your programs largely from a portion of the population that can't vote, mind you.
posted by enn at 6:54 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Second, if I'm not mistaken, the U.S. already has compulsory community service in high school.

Some highschools do require their students to do community service, it certainly isn't any sort of federal requirement. I'm not a big fan of forcing people to do it, because how is it volunteering if you're forced?
posted by delmoi at 6:58 AM on November 7, 2008


Re: the students and service thing, I'm not sure why people are getting riled up about it (though I supposed they feel they have to pick something to be riled up about) -- my kids go to a Friends (Quaker) school, and from Pre-K on up through 12th grade the students participate in service to the community. For the younger kids, it's more school/classroom-based, and for the older ones, it becomes student-driven and external (that is, a kindergarten class may ask their parents to bring in canned foods or winter coats, etc., while a middle-schooler or upper-schooler will be researching what issues are important to communities in the area, coming up with ideas to help, and going out into the community to work and implement those ideas). So already at 6 and 9 they feel like this is just what people DO.

Along those same lines, this website is awesome not only for its all the practical/technical/ideological reasons, but also for its sheer message of inclusiveness. My kids (like everyone) have been buoyed by this historic election, but my 9-year-old (who shook Obama's hand when he dropped by their school unexpectedly last year) feels deeply left out as a kid, because she's too little to really be involved the way grown-ups are (so she has told us). She really wanted to vote (and coming into the booth to push the button for me seriously does not count). So when I showed her the website last night, she was incredibly excited -- she wanted to write in a whole bunch of ideas (#1: Let 9-year-olds vote) (#2 is likely "puppies for everyone!"), and she felt absolutely thrilled that she could write in, just like anyone else. I'm sure my kids will be disillusioned about the political process many times as they get older, but for now the fact that their Schoolhouse Rock DVD about government stuff actually seems relevant and meaningful is pretty awesome. Nevermind the fact that the person who has just been elected is someone who lives up to the ideals they are taught about every day as part of their school's guiding philosophy of inclusiveness, honesty, compassion, and service.
posted by mothershock at 7:00 AM on November 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, their Foreign Policy Agenda page is rather inadequate. They have Iran at the top but fail to mention the necessity of alllies in dealing with this. One of which is Russia, listed at the bottom and cast in terms of resurgent aggression. Another is Venezuela, which, along with the rest of Latin American, isn't mentioned at all.

There is a matrix of issues in our foreign policy challenges, from free trade agreements, to energy, to nuclear proliferation. Diplomatic solutions to these challenges are going to involve a wide field. The energy-financial-weapons axis of Venezuela, Iran, and Russia; Israel's nuclear weapons (yes, it needs to be said); Pakistan's and India's nuclear weapons; rebuilding Afghanistan with the help of Russia and Pakistan; securing Iraq with the help of Iran and Syria; pulling back from NATO expansion into former Soviet satellites, including breaking our agreement with Poland (sorry, Poland) for missile defense; and focusing on trade agreements with Latin America as an initial phase in the fight against global poverty and to divert Venezuela away from seeking alliances outside the Americas as a means of positioning themselves against us. Each of these situations are interwoven with the others.

I imagine they want to keep these things (the website) rather simple but I am really hoping the Obama administration can develop a comprehensive vision on foreign policy. I guess this weekend I'll work on a suggestion.
posted by effwerd at 7:06 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


because in middle school, high school, and most of my one year at a community college I wanted desperately to work but could not legally do so, purportedly because it would have been exploitative of my tender age to employ me.

Really? I went to work starting at fourteen by applying for working papers at my school. At sixteen we were allowed to seek employment without papers. Today, I employ students as young as sixteen. What laws prevented you from working?
posted by Miko at 7:08 AM on November 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'll second Miko on that sentiment. I was a newspaper delivery boy at like 12. Then helping my dad and neighbors with yard work for spare dollars. Then at 16, I could drive so I did pizza delivery through most of my 3rd and 4th years of high school.

During my middle school and high school years, I don't recall NOT working.
posted by vacapinta at 7:20 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


While we read change.gov, built for us by Obama, we can assume Obama is perusing the sites built for him:
Presidential Transition Resources
GAO Presidential Transition site (links to urgent issues)
posted by angry jonny at 7:27 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Community service is such a broad term anyway, why are people equivocating this with exploiting kids for slave labor? Hardly.
Community service for me was answering the phones in the school reception and working the mail room, just about an hour or two a week. It was fun, I made friends, it saved the school some money on admin staff, and gave me just enough experience to work part time in a law firm when I turned 16 (which incidentally, turned me off from being a lawyer).
I was also "forced" to do a beach cleanup which was more gross than hard (people are messy bastards) and it turned out to be a fun day out with friends.
The most grueling thing I had to do was the yearly service at the Run to the Far Side marathon to hand out water and snacks to the runners and it was only grueling because this teenager had to wake up at 5am on a weekend. Oh the atrocity.

Seriously what is wrong with people to think community service is such a bad thing?
posted by like_neon at 7:35 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Miko, my experience was that the maze of federal and state prohibitions on the type of labor performed and limits on hours worked for people between 14 and 16 were a de facto prohibition of employment since employers were unwilling to assume the liability of hiring anyone under 16. Also, it appears that working papers require parental consent (in New York State where I then lived, in any case).

I did work full-time after I turned 16 (and was no longer a student). I'm mostly referring in my earlier comment to people under 16 (and even under 14) who will apparently be required to volunteer under the proposed policy.

vacapinta, I did deliver newspapers at an early age as well. Newspaper carriers are usually paid on a piecework basis and so can be engaged as independent contractors not subject to employment law.
posted by enn at 7:36 AM on November 7, 2008


Seriously what is wrong with people to think community service is such a bad thing?

There's a whole hell of a middle ground between "a bad thing" and "should be universally mandated by federal law."
posted by enn at 7:40 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of distance between "should be universally mandated by federal law" and the facts too.

("Choose", "call on", "encourage"? These do not imply Guantanamo as an alternative.)
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Encourage" refers to "retiring Americans" (i.e., voters). "Require" is the word used for the high school and college community service. Yes, that's very vague and we don't really know what is proposed (at least, not from that page — if someone knows of a more detailed outline of the plan elsewhere I'd love to see it). It could mean that service is required to graduate, or that schools must require it to receive federal funds, or that there are criminal penalties for non-compliance. Guantanamo, I agree, is not a likely destination for those who resist.
posted by enn at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2008


There are lots of requirements to graduate that vary from school to school. I was required to pass a swimming test in order to graduate from a high school that did not even have a swimming pool. I was required to take 3 years of a foreign language. I personally don't see a reason to wring my hands over community service becoming a pre-requisite for graduation at any level.

I will give into the fact that it will be difficult to come up with appropriate community service activities at middle school level but I have a feeling with kids that age it's even easier to get them enthusiastic about the concept of volunteerism and even more important to instill that value at a young age.
posted by like_neon at 8:09 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of community service, but have some reservations as well. My experience with community service programs has been mixed. Implementation is everything.

Some examples: at my museum, we sometimes have students from the nearby university come in to do "community service" under a program meant to be corrective. Studens who had infractions at the university of one sort of another are assigned to complete X number of hours of loosely-defined "community service." Essentially, this is a punishment, although they don't call it that because it's meant to be restitutive. However, there's no question that a sullen and disaffected student who things the whole university adjudication process is a crock of shit is not providing a terribly helpful service to anyone. Our relationship with the university means we feel a need to support the program, but we usually give these kids simple work that keeps them out of our hair, like data entry for relatively simple data.

On the other hand, we also work with a community service fraternity from the same university. Those kids are awesome. They have 'opted in' to the idea of service and are obviously sold on it. We can give them all sorts of creative work, silly work, scut work, whatever, and they embrace it with energy and enthusiasm. We know they'll go above and beyond the call of duty, and they make it a pleasure to have them around. The voluntary nature of their committment does help make them a different population to work with.

The middle path between relying on purely voluntary service and requiring service in a punitive way is, of course, service learning. And that sort of approach is the one I'd like to see Obama's plan take, if it gets implemented. It means that service is approached as a part of the curriculum for students, no different than phys ed, science, English, or anything else. It is accompanied by some sort of curriculum (I would love to see an emphasis on civics). It applies to everyone: it's neither punitive, nor does it rely on the initiative of the already-convinced. It is evaluated, graded somehow, providing an academic incentive to take the work seriously and to succeed. We have a service-learning program at our nearby high school. STudents have to write their own plans of service, make contacts in the wider world to arrange their hours, and then fulfill their commitment. We provide supervision, consultation, and evaluation, which is rolled into their grades. This is pretty great for high school students - they are learning how to conduct themselves in the 'real' world, make and fulfill commitments, and give thought to causes and projects that interest them. They get real experience and work side-by-side with adults who have an interest in them. It's extremely positive. Volunteering also teaches a lot about teamwork, differences, scheduling, how things get done, etc.

In environments where community service is a value - like the Quaker schools mothershock mentioned - it becomes just part of the culture, part of the school' activities, part of the academic year, part of the curriculum. I think that integrated approach, which provides as much benefit for the student as for the service recipient, is the best way to approach a requirement for community service in public curricula. It works pretty well.

Plus, once people have done some volunteering, they tend to get a good feeling from it; they like it, and it makes them want to keep volunteering. A couple of hours a month on the cause of their choice from every American who could do it would be enough to transform the nation.
posted by Miko at 8:12 AM on November 7, 2008 [6 favorites]




I don't want to come across as some kind of anti-community-service crusader here. Like Miko, I've worked both with people performing community service as a punishment and with volunteers. It would certainly be nice if more people became involved in their communities.

What I don't like is the cynicism I see in implementing a program that makes everybody feel good while placing the burden only on an almost entirely powerless group which cannot cost the administration either votes or political support, and the hypocrisy in requiring people to work for free who are generally prevented from working for pay (the occasional exception like a paper route notwithstanding).
posted by enn at 8:54 AM on November 7, 2008


Obama and Biden will create a White House Office of Urban Policy...

I found my job.
posted by desjardins at 9:10 AM on November 7, 2008


If you accept the idea that the purpose of public schools is not just education, but producing citizens, then I don't think the idea of mandatory community service is so out-of-bounds. I mean, why have physical education classes? Strictly speaking, it's not necessary for educational purposes - you don't need to play football to know about it - but that's missing the point, isn't it? American schools are designed to provide more than education, they are oriented towards producing informed, productive citizens. That's why we have things like civics classes and PE (both requirements), and that's why I think a community service requirement would be appropriate.
posted by thewittyname at 9:16 AM on November 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


I had to perform I think 60 hours of community service in order to graduate from high school. This was in 1994 so it's not like this is a new idea. It was part of our senior year government/civics class and we could choose just about anything to fulfill the requirement. I helped paint a mural on a kick wall at a local soccer field, and worked at a Salvation Army thrift store.

I also had a part time job starting at age 16 and worked throughout high school and college... I worked retail, at a chocolate store. This was a real job, not "just" a paper route and I don't feel like it was an exception to the rule. Most of my friends worked part time too. Hell, I didn't have a license or a car back then and had to walk or ride my bike to/from work. In Buffalo. In the winter.

At younger ages, I could see it more as a "we as a class are going to the soup kitchen today" kind of thing, but once you're talking age 16 and up it's probably appropriate to let the kids choose what kind of volunteer work sounds best to them.
posted by misskaz at 9:18 AM on November 7, 2008


I think it would be hypocritical if by community service it included activities for commercial purposes. It should be for those services that people do voluntarily anyway.

I mean, if someone goes into a soup kitchen thinking, "chuh, they are so exploiting me because I do this for free when I can be paid for doing this at Burger King" they are kind of missing the point.

Cheap labor is not the point of community service.
posted by like_neon at 9:29 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I guess this weekend I'll work on a suggestion.
posted by effwerd at 10:06 AM on November 7


There I go crying again. That that now seems like a reasonable reaction - "Here's my thought on what's needed here; beyond telling the internet, I'll thoughtfully tell the administration, because they want my input and service, and my actions can make a difference" is...wonderful.

I know there'll be disappointments and challenges, but it's so nice not to feel like I'm trying to hold onto my idealism all alone anymore.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:30 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Indeed, though there are fucks making far worse claims
FTFY


well, fucks are still people, and really most people are fucks from time to time. I imagine if GWB had tried to pass legislation like this that there might have been some resistance by some folks around here. It can be useful to take a semi John Rawls approach to possible ideas - imagine you have no idea which president is making the proposal, and see if you still like it.

I still think it's a good idea, and if Bush had tried to increase community service after 9-11, for instance, I think he'd have won a lot of points from moderates and open-minded liberals. But some people might have taken it as more suppression of liberty etc, the way the freepers are reading obama...

hi Anything!
posted by mdn at 10:12 AM on November 7, 2008


I think what we're seeing here is the start of a different approach that I can only really explain like this:
old way: change_education 
new way: change_stuff('education','health','x')
One of the reasons why there's so much 'same old...' is the lack of mechanisms for change, I think I see an understanding of this and an intention to create mechanisms.

Gov 2.0?
posted by mandal at 10:15 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Most of these proposals that you guys are goggling over are copied directly from barackobama.com, where they've been available for months. You can actually get a bit more detail at the old site right now.
posted by designbot at 10:54 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know that 16-year-olds can and do work. I was one of them. Most of the people compelled to serve under this plan will presumably be under 16, since many people leave school at that age and many more do not attend college, and these are the people to whom I refer when I say I find the plan hypocritical.
posted by enn at 10:59 AM on November 7, 2008


But the argument is that enrollment in public school already compels people under 16 to do a great many things, a large part of them with no value to the broader community and only limited value to the students themselves.
posted by Miko at 11:13 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


and only limited value to the students themselves.

Or harmful, if you consider the time wasted and existing aptitudes overlooked by warehousing these students in public schools which substitute a certain amount of content delivered and assessed for critical learning.
posted by mrmojoflying at 11:29 AM on November 7, 2008


I imagine if GWB had tried to pass legislation like this that there might have been some resistance by some folks around here.
That's what I thought. In my country community service ("maatschappelijke stage") was recently introduced as a mandatory part of a high school diploma. Our (mostly christian) government is not that well liked at the moment, and people were more critical of the idea. I was surprised to read people be so enthusiastic about it here. I am not against it per se, but it does depend a lot on execution, so I would withhold judgement until I knew more. Voluntary community service as an exchange for tax credits does sound like a good idea.
posted by davar at 11:29 AM on November 7, 2008


Victory day photos of the Obama family. (Did someone already post these?)
posted by serazin at 11:38 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is there a section on that site to ask Obama how he gets his tan so even?
posted by gman at 11:43 AM on November 7, 2008


I think Miko and DaShiv should apply for jobs with the Obama administration.
posted by rtha at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2008


I'm just now finding out he has a Flickr acct?
posted by lyam at 11:47 AM on November 7, 2008




I had a work study grant when I was in undergraduate; the school 'subsidized' my education by giving me a 16-hour a week job for which they paid me minimum wage. (I was a drop in calculus tutor.) Or rather, they didn't pay me, but put the money towards my tuition costs. The Obama plan would have offered me twice as much towards tuition for a far smaller time commitment. In a ten-week term, I was working 160 hours, times three terms a year makes 480 hours. Multiplying by $8.25 Oregon minimum wage at the time yields just under $4000 (the Obama plan) for almost five times the hours.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:11 PM on November 7, 2008


Goddamn it, I just now realized that not only am I older than Barack Obama, I graduated from law school before he did.

So, I could have been president, but one of us had to take care of the whole fantasy-football thing. Have I ever mentioned that I was Fantasy Football Weekly's "Commissioner of the Year" in 1999?
posted by yhbc at 1:39 PM on November 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


On a tangent:

"In terms of speaking to former presidents, I've spoken to all of them that are living. Obviously, President Clinton -- I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances."

Heh. I'm so happy about how I spent my vote.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2008


Watching that live, I could tell Obama was searching for what to call "living ex-presidents", like there was some kind of awkwardness about saying something to the effect of "the ones that are still alive". Good joke to disarm the awkwardness, yay Obama.
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2008


I called in to Science Friday today to strongly recommend Francis Collins for the new science adviser. Unfortunately, Ira said my phone had too much "car noise" so I kind of shouted - "FRANCIS COLLINS! FRANCIS COLLINS FOR SCIENCE ADVISER!!" And then they hung up on me. I heard Ira go, "Huh - yeah... he's a good geneticist..." and then his stupid, stupid asshat guest said something like, "Yeah well, he'd be good except for the whole evolution thing." What evolution thing? What the hell are you talking about mr. science friday guest?! Seriously? I want Francis Collins to be the science adviser so badly - the guy isn't even working for anyone right now! He's just sort of waiting around for something to happen! He's a brilliant man of faith - an awesome, brilliant, church-loving liberal who can heal the divide between normal people and raving right-wing loonies who think science is automatically atheist.

I will be using this new change.gov website to lobby for Dr. Collins.

Francis Collins for science adviser!!!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:49 PM on November 7, 2008


I am pretty sure I have never in my life read an entire transcript of a politician's press conference. Until today.
posted by desjardins at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I called in to Science Friday today to strongly recommend Francis Collins for the new science adviser.

Heh. Now I know what a Baby_Balrog sounds like. And there was a lot of car noise, or was that your smoldering internal fire?

Nonetheless, the guest did go on to say Collins does a good job of reconciling his faith with science. And that he would be an "interesting" pick, which is of course the polite way to say it is unlikely.
posted by effwerd at 3:32 PM on November 7, 2008


Service is owed the community.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:14 PM on November 7, 2008


There is a basic tent of any charity-based endeavor, like community service, volunteering for a political campaign, giving money, et cetera, namely, that you cannot compel a charitable impulse. You're either a giver or you're not. The trick in all voluntary giving programs, be they time, money, whatever, is to match the service to the donor; in other words, to help the donor find the path to their own charitable impulse. That said, there is no "wrong" way to be. It is also okay not to serve. It is also okay not to give.

For some people, in fact for a LOT of people, it's religion. Whether they feel obligated, called or just too guilty to refuse, religion is a way to tap people's charitable impulse. For others, writing a check is easy, the "match" then becomes what do I give to. Some people find the arts a safe place to give, others might want to give to orphans, or homeless, or political candidates, or education, whatever.

School children are easy. You can in fact compel them to do this as part of their education, and I for one think it is an important thing to teach. Not, "you *must* give" but rather, giving/volunteering/caring, is an acceptable thing that will be rewarded, and the correllary-- not giving will not be punished. The best school-based community service programs allow kids to understand this choice, and to choose the path that works for them, in lower grades by having them try different ways of giving (canvassing? teaching reading? helping in younger classrooms? working admin somewhere? in groups and in controlled environments) as well as trying different ways of learning about the issues that confront society such as research and reading.

Older kids *should* be required to log community service hours, but they should be able to choose the path themselves, because, as I stated initially, you cannot compel the charitable impulse. It a young person knows there is a choice, knows what the choices are, and knows that society trusts them to make the choice that works for them, we will get far more involvement in community issues from the charitable ones, and far more knowledge about those issues from the ones who feel discomfort in giving.

I'm a lifelong professional development officer in the arts.
posted by nax at 6:34 PM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's interesting they're using YouTube still. Or are they not officially part of the government yet?
posted by smackfu at 6:56 PM on November 7, 2008


Second idea submitted: TRAINSSSSSSSSSSSS!!

I love trains. Joe Biden does too; maybe President Obama (oh, how I love to type those words) will put the VP in charge of it.
posted by brain cloud at 7:18 PM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I heard you on Science Friday, Baby_Balrog--just barely because of all the car noise. (Were you standing on the side of a freeway or what?)

Can you email me your autograph? I've never met anyone who was on Science Friday before. I did Car Talk once but that doesn't even come close to stacking up with the Big League you entered.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:08 PM on November 7, 2008


Actually, Bush just recently signed a $12 billion Amtrak funding bill. Amusingly, Biden didn't vote on it.
posted by smackfu at 8:08 PM on November 7, 2008


Actually, Bush just recently signed a $12 billion Amtrak funding bill. Amusingly, Biden didn't vote on it.

Huh...I suppose Biden was on the campaign trail that day? Cos I can't imagine him hatin' on the trains, yo.
posted by brain cloud at 8:20 PM on November 7, 2008


Wow, I hadn't given trains a thought in a while. If Obama/Biden could actually make Amtrak WORK -- that'd be awesome.

I love Amtrak, but it needs an organizational overhaul. It takes a lot of money to run a train system and they deserve a bunch of money. But it also needs to run on time, efficiently, and to useful places, without the common clusterfucks it's prone to. And the price needs to come down (in which case ridership will go up). I'd love to see this attended to. There are any number of trips for which I'd much rather have taken the train than the plane, but the cost comparison favored the plane. I know others who feel the same. Train travel is about the most comfortable way to go, and often the time is a wash unless you're going coast-to-coast. We could see a revival of train travel - more fuel-efficient than air - if anyone were committed to it.
posted by Miko at 9:00 PM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Liberal bloggers have been throwing around the term "SUPERTRAIN" as a catchall for train-based transportation policy lately.
posted by delmoi at 11:28 PM on November 7, 2008


One thing I'm hoping they move forward on--a free, national WiFi network. It would effectively be like mailing a $40 stimulus check to every household in the country each month.
posted by EarBucket at 6:47 AM on November 8, 2008


Miko, I'd second that suggestion about Amtrak. Every trip I plan I always take a peek at the Amtrak site and try to work something out. It's usually several hundred dollars more than air travel, and often would require additional driving at both ends to be useful.

I would much rather travel on a train than a plane, even if it was an extra four hours. Hell, if it was an extra day I'd still do it.
posted by odinsdream at 8:35 AM on November 8, 2008


It is obvious that our first priority as a nation of change is cheap fast trains, with WiFi on the trains! One step closer to Utopia.
posted by brain cloud at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


brain cloud, I read that as BRAINSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! and wondered if Astro Zombie had hacked into your account.
posted by desjardins at 9:59 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Even here in Europe, where public transport is generally good, long distance trains are almost always significantly more expensive than air travel. People who go by train do that for other reasons than cost. Flying is getting more expensive (recently a fly-tax was introduced for environmental reasons) so trains get relatively cheaper, but that doesn't help much of course.
posted by davar at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2008


So, I could have been president, but one of us had to take care of the whole fantasy-football thing

I think he did that too :)

posted by mdn at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2008


reminded me of this section of 'A Skeptic’s Case For Barack Obama' :P
Process Revolution.
Lawrence Lessig, a Constitutional law professor, suggests that throughout American history there have been a number of unusual “revolutions whose purpose was not to tear down the existing social and governmental structures, but to amend them in discrete ways.” He cites the Second Constitional Convention and the post-Watergate reforms as clear examples - and he suggests as a result of Bush’s legacy, we may be on the verge of another “process revolution.” Many of Obama’s proposals focus on reforming processes rather than achieving certain ends. For example, he proposes to increase transparency for all aspects of government and to allow citizens a more active role in responding to and shaping government policy. Neither of these changes in process necessarily further liberal goals - but they both help reform government in general.
also btw, yes we did!
posted by kliuless at 11:33 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older Dissent: Voices of Conscience   |   Oh, for F-bomb's sake Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post