Watch live streaming video from pdf2012 at livestream.com

"In an election here on Tuesday, residents of North Dakota will consider a measure that reaches far beyond any of that — one that abolishes the property tax entirely" - New York Times, 6/12/12 

The above video link is one that connects to the live stream of the Personal Democracy Forum 2012 in New York City. The two-day event is described as “the world’s leading conference exploring and analyzing technology’s impact on politics and government” where “hundreds of individuals interested in how technology is changing politics, governance and society will gather.”

Yesterday was the first day of the event and some of the discussion was pretty fascinating; from Alexis Ohanian's talk on the need for “heroes” to stand up for the rights of the Internet as was seen with SOPA to Jaron Lanier's proposition that the middle class may suffer from the proliferation of networks that don't take into account “micropayments” to the Sunlight Foundation introducing a pair of new tools — Scout and Call on Congress — to stay in touch with what is going on in Congress.

The list of attendees and speakers is impressive.

So listen in if you get a chance.

And here is an archive from some of the first day’s sessions.

— Spencer

On Fear & Common Sense

"Partisanship in America is at a 25-year high, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, with the majority of that movement to the two ideological extremes coming in just the last decade.” - Washington Post, 6/4/12

A quote we really like at skimmerhat is: “If we’re going to win our never ending war against the idea of being afraid, there are going to be casualties, including common sense.”

It can be applied to various aspects of one’s life — from talking to the pretty girl across the room to taking a new direction that breaks up the status quo.

The quote speaks to us on a couple levels. First, on beginning a business venture, something none of the current founders have ever done from scratch. It’s an adventure. And second, on beginning a business venture in a space as volatile and divisive as government and politics (we’ve written on a similar topic here).

Perhaps, the second point has never been more true than now. The excerpt from the Washington Post in italics at the top of this post displays as much. The article delves into the partisanship that seems to be taking a stranglehold on progress, especially in Congress.

They write:

What’s even more remarkable than that rapid growth in partisanship is the fact that there has been almost no noticeable change in other major demographic categories on Pew’s values question. White/black, men/women, religious/not religious — no matter where you fall in these demographic categories the difference between how you and your opposite broadly conceptualize values has not changed markedly since Pew started polling on this in 1987.

The partisanship that has been created has many layers and just as many reasons one could point to in how or why it has grown over the years — whether it’s the politicians, the citizens, the money, the media or a combination of everything.

But that isn’t a discussion for this blog post. The problem is staring us in the face — dissension and gridlock. The proper discussion is what will we do from here?

As Americans, we can’t be afraid to get our hands dirty and attempt something different. Fear of what could happen leads to acceptance of the present; it is the most efficient way to stifle change and progress.

We also must go ahead and throw common sense to the wind. A vision for the future requires us to loosen our grip on the world as it is now because if we are going to realize a different state, it isn’t going to make much sense to any of us at this point in time. Any great advancement in the history of the world seemed inconceivable to a group of people at one time.

This applies to our government and its politics. If Americans are to create the country we collectively think we can, we must be unafraid and accept the casualties, including common sense.

It will undoubtedly require a good bit of time and a solid dose of mental compromise as well.

At skimmerhat, we believe the sharing and discussion of ideas are at the core of this advancement, not party dogma or political rhetoric. Which is why we are building a platform dedicated to finding and funding candidates who share your ideas — the citizens and individuals who make our country what it is.

With this, we are cooking up a new primary feature for the site when we go live. It’s one that hasn’t been included in any of our videos or posts yet, but it embraces the concept of ideas. We will have more updates on this in the very near future, so please stick with us.

And as always, if you are interested in following skimmerhat, take a look at any of our social media links on the sidebar to the right or sign up on our email list.

— Spencer

"The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s chairman said on Tuesday that regulators plan to review allegations that Morgan Stanley shared negative news before Facebook’s initial public offering with institutional investors." - CNBC, 5/22/12

We’ve posted a good bit about open government and the movement behind it over the last few months.

But, the meaning of open government can get buried in the push forward, particularly when you begin talking about open data and other initiatives that can muddy exactly what open government is supposed to do. A clear direction and purpose is vital for open government to provide substantial and tangible returns, rather than become rhetoric.

Nathaniel Heller — a co-founder of Global Integrity — tackled this topic very well on his blog:

At its core, “open government” to me means three things:

  1. Information Transparency: that the public understands the workings of their government;
  2. Public engagement: that the public can influence the workings of their government by engaging in governmental policy processes and service delivery programs; and
  3. Accountability: that the public can hold the government to account for its policy and service delivery performance.

Into those three buckets we can then deposit many of the “open government” initiatives, programs, and interventions that are often invoked on their own as “open government.” What’s most important here, to me, is that none of these initiatives or interventions in and of themselves constitute “open government” alone. Rather, only when combined with the others do we truly see the potential for “open government” in its most powerful and holistic form.

Bucket 1 (Information Transparency): freedom of information initiatives; open data and Big [Public] Data efforts, including open data portals; procurement, budget, and policy transparency (e.g. voting records, meeting minutes, political finance transparency).

Bucket 2 (Public Engagement): e-government services; open311 and service delivery feedback loops; stakeholder fora and participatory processes (e.g. participatory budgeting, town hall meetings, both online and offline); electoral processes.

Bucket 3 (Accountability): anti-corruption mechanisms (e.g. auditing, ombudsmen); conflicts of interest and influence peddling safeguards.

It goes without saying that the world does not fit neatly into this clean paradigm. Electoral processes are as much a form of accountability as a form of engagement, and the distinction between information transparency and engagement blurs quickly when we talk about something like open311. But hopefully the general construct holds some water.

As for technology? I view technology agnostically in the context of “open government.” Some of the above interventions don’t work without technology — think open data, open311, or e-government services. Others work quite well without websites or apps. Technology can certainly be a powerful force multiplier in the context of open government, and it can take interventions to scale rapidly. But technology is neither open government itself nor required for open government to necessarily take hold, in my view.

We tend to agree with Nathaniel’s outline. As he intelligently points out, the world rarely fits perfectly within a clean set of parameters and technology is not always vital; however, reminding ourselves of the constructs of open government will only help in moving it forward with meaning and results.

- Spencer

What to Take from Americans Elect

Chicago police trying to keep the peace during the NATO summit may face their biggest test on Sunday when thousands of demonstrators were expected to march near the site where leaders of the military alliance begin a two-day meeting.” - Reuters, 5/20/12

On Thursday of last week, Americans Elect announced that the primary process to nominate an independent, Internet-driven candidate came to an end. The goal of Americans Elect, as described on its website, was to nominate a presidential ticket through the Internet that answers directly to voters—not the political system.

They wrote in their announcement on Thursday:

“However, the rules, as developed in consultation with the Americans Elect Delegates, are clear. As of this week, no candidate achieved the national support threshold required to enter the Americans Elect Online Convention in June.”

In response to this announcement, which has been bubbling for weeks, there was no shortage of ink to document the failure of Americans Elect.

The reasons for AE’s shortcoming are multiple depending on which pundit you chose to read – the weakness of moderates and/or independents, the fallacy of the Internet as a proving ground for change, the lack of transparency of the AE fundraising structure, the need for a big, name-brand candidate.

As with nearly all aspects of life, there is no one answer or reason for AE’s failure to nominate a candidate. Success involves so many intangibles – decision-making, timing and, even, luck – that to point to one area that caused AE’s outcome in 2012 would be an injustice to the work the organization put in and the challenge they faced.

However, with skimmerhat being an organization that is aiming to impact the political system and given the similarity of our core tenets – of providing the opportunity for education and a more powerful voice for individual citizens through an online platform – we would like to give our thoughts on AE’s situation.

Too Big, Too Soon

Americans Elect tackled a big problem – anger and discomfort with the current, two-party dominated political system. They wanted to change politics as usual.

And, who can really argue with that? Considering it’s been 15 years since Americans haven been as disgusted with the Federal government as they are today, according to a recent Pew survey.

They decided to do it through the Internet – a place that has flipped multiple industries on its head.

It seems, though, that AE might have gone too big, too soon. Not in the sense of the level of impact they wanted to make – because if you aren’t going big, then why are you doing it – but at the level of government they were trying to impact.

The presidential election is the Kentucky Derby of all elections – the crown jewel that even if you don’t pay attention to policy or campaigns at any other time, you watch presidential debates and commercials. It is high risk, high reward, when you consider the hurdles you have to jump to get a candidate on the ballot (looking at you, ballot access laws) and the fact that you can really only support one person in the end.

AE may have been better served trying to gain traction in Congressional or state elections, where the reward is still high – influence and possible election victories – but the risk is lower – namely the amount of money.

Look at Scott Brown’s election in 2010 or this year’s election in Indiana. They are Congressional elections and still attract national interest. We’ve seen movements like the Tea Party born out of passion in Congressional races.

As Dave Weigel of Slate wrote last week:

You don’t break the power of the parties by running in a presidential election. You start with Congress.”

With this, the system that AE built was large and bulky, though sharp and eye-catching. There were lots of layers, features and moving parts for the layman to make sense of, which is understandable considering the challenge of constructing a “non-party” party structure in a presidential election.

But you can’t always count on that type of concentration from users, especially early on before you are established. In becoming a delegate through Americans Elect, it took time to fill out information, even though a delegate may not have clearly known who they would be supporting.

In studying startups and the philosophy of “lean methodology,” we at skimmerhat have discovered the importance of testing your hypothesis through a minimum viable product and then adjusting from there based on reaction. Then build and test again. It decreases the range of time it takes to create the product that best fits a target audience with the most possible success. Though we are far from experts, we believe this can be applied to government and the political structure.

Americans Elect was anything but lean. It was large and massive – in scope, in its target focus (presidential elections), and in the actual system that was built.

Transparent as Possible?

There are an endless amount of complaints with the current political system from citizens across the country. It is difficult to encapsulate all the emotions of Americans on a wide variety of issues, but the best word that can likely do so is – distrust.

Citizens on a large scale do not trust D.C., whether it is in terms of decision-making or moral makeup.

Therefore, when an organization aims to change politics as usual, they must first begin by bridging the wide canyon of distrust between politics and citizens.

Americans Elect did not help itself in this regard when they chose not to release complete information about their donors/investors, who wrote checks to raise $25 million for the project.

AE rebuffed this dispute by writing on their website:

“We intend to pay back the bulk of our initial financing as we recruit delegates, so that no single individual will have contributed more than $10K.”

Honorable, but not transparent.

It is not an upfront way to run a campaign upon the angst of politics as usual. In fact, it kind of sounds like politics as usual.

CEO Kahlil Byrd had reportedly said one of the reasons AE did not share their donor info was “because of the political environment we are in now” and that investors in AE need to be allowed to choose whether to disclose their own roles.

Again, when running a large presidential campaign, there are a number of aspects that an organization must take into consideration and weigh the pros and cons, and then make the best decision for the good of the organization and for the country.

Transparency should have been the easiest part for Americans Elect. Maybe their donors would have been the target of partisan attacks. Maybe the release of investor info would give pundits and critics more material to try to chop down AE. Those are risks, but not risks an organization that wants to be a shining star for political evolution should avoid.

AE put itself in the line of fire when they decided to shun complete transparency.

With that decision, they shunned the trust of Americans looking for something truly different. No bridge was built.

Looking to the Future

When evaluating Americans Elect in 2012, it is easy to take a hard line and call it a complete failure. Many have done so and, as we outlined, have gone far enough to say that AE’s stumble is a comment on the future of third parties or the Internet as a game-changer in political discourse.

We’re not so sure that is the correct position, regardless of the interest we have in this sector because of skimmerhat. We have a larger interest in individual Americans gaining a stronger voice/influence and letting them do with it what they will.

Failures are necessary to success, especially when the success is measured by a drastic change in the social norm. It is too easy to take a few failures and cast a wide net to determine that a certain change will never happen because we’ve never seen it before or can’t conceptualize it in our head given current circumstances. The most excellent examples of social or political evolution all seemed crazy at one point to a large group of people, but then it happened.

So, first as a community who is trying to impact change in our government, we must accept failures, and be open to a vision that might not make total sense at this very moment. That is not easy, particularly given the pressure of outside critique.

There are things we can take from each stumble, however, and apply it to the future. We outlined two of the main aspects above – the scope and size of AE and its system and the transparency put forth.

We, perhaps, should think smaller in order to make bigger change. Begin impacting lower levels/regions and individual citizens. Take a bottom-up approach. From our vantage point, influential movements begin at a lower level and then bubble up to the highest levels.

Also, movements don’t always try to change the status quo from the start; they, at times, begin within the current norms and flood their way out.

With the Internet, we must build a system that supports, not leads, this approach – smaller, intuitive and prepared for rapid change. Let the system be guided and molded by the people; the Americans who are invested in the future of our country.

Given this relationship, we must be transparent and open at all times. Unfortunately, citizens do not expect transparency when it comes to policy or politics because it typically isn’t present. Similar to how Zappos placed customer service at the core of its business model because customer service often sucked, we must be refreshingly and surprisingly transparent. Even if transparency might mean receiving negative feedback or trouble in circles that don’t need disrupting – disruption is really the whole point.

We believe we are at the very beginning of finding out how Americans engage with our government and its political system moving forward. There will be change and shifts in the future. There is no doubt in that. However, we hope we – and everyone else in the cross-section of government/politics and technology – can apply lessons we have learned in order to help support the positive change Americans are looking for.

Americans Elect failed in 2012.

It is not a failure of our future or our potential.

- Spencer

The P Word in the Civic Space

"U.S. prosecutors and defense attorneys for five defendants in the September 11 attacks dug in on Sunday for a long legal battle that one lawyer said may never be resolved." - Reuters, 5/6/12

In our last post regarding Transparency Camp 2012 — a gathering of open data/open government activists hosted by the Sunlight Foundation — we touched on the concept that each of us has a role to play in the push for a better, more accountable government.

The initiative is a complex one. Just like the popular aphorism that “beauty is in the eye of a beholder,” to what extent “better government” looks like is visualized in many different ways by many different people. No single parameter defines what a better government means to every American.

The process itself is not easy, either. There are layers upon layers to our government, and all need improvement in not only how government serves citizens, but how it is held accountable as well. But, the multiple layers, divisions, sections, agencies, bureaucracies, and outside entities (such as government contractors) make government — from federal level down to local municipalities — too large, and too expansive, to be tackled in a single front.

And, that’s where we all have a role to play.

A Functioning Government

A better government won’t come from one place. It will originate from multiple initiatives through the cooperation of groups across the civic space. In the Gov 2.0 and open government movement, this is happening.

However, there appears to be one aspect absent. This missing element can be encapsulated in a tweet by Code for America Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka:

@pahlkadot:…technologists are more interested in getting the government to function than they are in getting their guy elected http://bit.ly/JQ5Iuf

The article Pahlka references in her Tweet is here. It largely discusses how open data and open government technologists are pushing Gov 2.0 forward. And, skimmerhat couldn’t be happier about this. But, the troubling part of Pahlka’s quote is that she seems to minimize the value of government policy and representation. This theme — we can help the government function through our ingenuity, sans politics – is inherent in Code for America’s overall branding.

Even more troubling is the trend to distance oneself from politics or political motivation, which seems to be pervasive throughout the Gov 2.0, open data and open government movements in the civic space.

It’s not that this separation isn’t understandable. Politics is complicated, divisive and in many cases, downright hideous. Politics has become such a “dirty word” that it is often avoided in conversation with family and friends.

But, we can’t afford to ignore politics, no matter how messy it may be. If we do, things will only worsen.

A recent Politico article titled “Congress: It’s going to get worse” sums up the state of our nation:

As it stands, Congress is more polarized than at any time since Reconstruction, according to data compiled by Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, political scientists who study congressional voting.

And getting more polarized, they correctly argue.

When presented with such a bleak picture, it makes sense that many technologists, hackers, and developers are reluctant to take a political stand when they can be effective in other areas that lack the divisiveness. They may also believe that they must first make an impact in other areas of government before tackling the political process or that too much emphasis is traditionally put on politics.

Unfortunately, this approach is much like trying to fix the engine on a car with a flat tire. It may run better, but you’re still not going to go real far.

Using the “Force”

Having an app for uncovering fire hydrants, or a platform to take a picture and report a problem with traffic lights are great examples of making government more efficient through civic hacking. And, creating APIs for data that previously were buried deep into a filing cabinet is indispensable for making government more transparent.

These endeavors compare to policy work on issues on civil liberties, tax reform and regulation — which are policy areas necessary to the lives of Americans across the country. And, this policy work is just as needed as the work of new APIs (as was discussed in the Hacking Society conversation a couple weeks ago).

Here’s why: In another recent Politico article, a Pew survey showed that it’s been 15 years since Americans haven been as disgusted with the Federal government as they are today:

Today, just one in three has a favorable view of the federal government — the lowest level in 15 years, according to a Pew survey. The majority of Americans remain satisfied with their local and state governments — 61 percent and 52 percent, respectively — but only 33 percent feel likewise about the federal government.

Voices aren’t being heard. People aren’t being represented.

It’s the car with a new engine, but a flat tire. Government may begin to run more efficiently — which benefits all citizens. But, if government isn’t listening to those citizens, we’re still not moving in a positive direction as a country.

Now, imagine applying the strength of Gov 2.0 — which already promotes engagement, transparency and accountability — to make better sense of the “p” word, and make sense of candidates involved in politics. And, not just on the “backend,” after candidates are in office, but on the frontend, too — when candidates are competing for votes in the electoral process.

Skimmerhat envisions this ideal in a system that allows Americans to find the candidates they want to believe in before they are given the limited slate of options on a general election ballot. And, to sidestep the current polarization of politics, we want to build a non-partisan way of finding these candidates.

Our idea uses the momentum of Gov 2.0 as a way for individuals and small donors to unite behind ideas, allowing individual citizens to directly influence the direction of the country — even in the age of PACs and Super PACs.

Imagine lowering the barrier to entry for citizens and candidates alike.

Then imagine this working in tandem with all of the other aspects of Gov 2.0, where data is more accessible and transparent, and where government is more accountable.

Would our government improve?

We think so, made possible through the power of citizen engagement — a core tenet of organizations like Code for America.

A Goal to Pursue Consistently

It won’t be easy. It will be infinitely more difficult than writing about it in a blog entry. After all, there is no utopia where Americans will be in 100 percent approval of the federal government.

However, just because it’s a challenge doesn’t mean we should avoid it, or ignore the problem altogether.

In a post by David Eaves — where he addresses Tom Slee’s post about the open data movement being a joke — he writes:

Open data is not the solution for Open Government (I don’t believe there is a single solution, or that Open Government is an achievable state of being - just a goal to pursue consistently), and I don’t believe anyone has made the case that it is. I know I haven’t. But I do believe open data can help. Like many others, I believe access to government information can lead to better informed public policy debates and hopefully some improved services for citizens (such as access to transit information). I’m not deluded into thinking that open data is going to provide a steady stream of obvious “gotcha moments” where government malfeasance is discovered, but I am hopeful that government data can arm citizens with information that the government is using to inform its decisions so that they can better challenge, and ultimately help hold accountable, said government.

As we mentioned at the outset of this post: there is no one approach to solving this problem. The solution combines multiple approaches that, when working together, can create a real plan for change.

Advocates of open data, open government and Gov 2.0 are creating the tools to arm Americans with more power, and creating them under the umbrella of a better, more accountable government. We’re building a process of finding and funding our representatives motivated by the same goal.

We’re all under the same umbrella.

Disruption as a Public Service

"Last year, almost 1,800 people followed Superman’s lead, renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their Green Cards. That’s a record number since the Internal Revenue Service began publishing a list of those who renounced in 1998." - CNBC, 4/16/12

A couple months ago, we signed up on an email list through Code for America to stay updated on a startup accelerator they were planning on announcing. For background, Code for America helps governments become more connected, lean, and participatory through new opportunities for public service — both inside and outside government — through the power of the web.

Today, they announced their accelerator, and it’s pretty exciting. You can check it out here, or below is an excerpt from the release we received in our inbox:

Starting today Code for America is officially accepting applications for its civic startup accelerator. The accelerator is designed to disrupt the massive $140 billion government IT market and provide new and better services to citizens.
This first-of-its-kind, four-month program will “turbo-charge” select civic startups by providing them a springboard to amplify market awareness of their product, additional funding, business mentoring specific to the “government 2.0” space, and introductions to a broad network of civic leaders and potential investors. Code for America has recruited experienced telecommunications and consumer software entrepreneur Ron Bouganim as program director. 
Applications will be accepted starting today until June 1: codeforamerica.org/accelerator
The accelerator has an estemed list of mentors and advisors including CTO of the United States Aneesh ChopraCaterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Pinwheel, Peter Schwartz, author and founder of the Global Business Network, and Ron Conway, angel investor and partner at SV Angel. (Read the full list.)
How the Accelerator works:
  • Three to five companies will be selected to participate in the program
  • The program will run for four months, beginning August 1, 2012
  • Each team will be granted $25,000 in funding as well as access to CfA office space for the term
  • Teams will receive guidance from high-profile civic and industry mentors and advisors
  • Teams can reside anywhere in the country, but will gather in San Francisco one week a month for “retreats” featuring intensive training and networking

With so many startup accelerators out there, it is awesome to have an organization that is already doing influential work for the Gov 2.0 movement to reach out and help other startups who want to make a difference in the civic space.

We are looking forward to seeing the impact it will make over the years. Judging by the people who are involved with the accelerator, it is sure to be positive, which is good news for America and our government.

— Spencer

A Sane Business

"A surge in tax refund fraud and identity theft has prompted the Internal Revenue Service to consider sharing more tax return information with police, a senior official told a congressional hearing on Tuesday." - Reuters, 3/21/12

We really love introducing skimmerhat and the concept behind it to new people. It is one of the best parts about building a startup, especially in our situation as the startup environment isn’t overloaded with companies trying to improve government processes.

To many we’ve talked to, they think skimmerhat sounds like a cool idea, finding and funding candidates in a non-partisan, non-traditional way. This seems increasingly true among those in our age bracket — between 20 and 30. 

However, it is even more fun when we get a chance to speak about skimmerhat with those who have been in the weeds of the political system and have the stories and scars to prove it.

We’ve been trying to connect with as many of these type of people as possible. While skimmerhat is a ‘cool idea,’ we don’t want to get lost in the reality of what we face.

That reality, as was phrased by a former state senator we spoke to, is that we are not entering a sane business. When he said this, he gestured to the fella sitting to his left and said, “This guy, he’s in a sane business. You are not.”

Now, you’re saying, “Of course. No one in their right mind thinks that the government, taken as a whole, is sane.”

And while some people certainly believe real estate, banking or law is insane, government is a different animal. By and large, as Americans, we believe that democracy, and thus our government, is the shining example of freedom, liberty and happiness. No one is saying that about real estate and banking (maybe a few?).

So how can our government — something that so many have pointed to as a model of how to run a country — also be insane?

That is the core of the message our state senator friend was getting to; it’s the belly of the beast. The part that very few want to see, and even fewer really want to fix.

People will come after you, he warned, especially if donations are gained and elections are won from those donations through skimmerhat. Even more so if it seems like a certain type of candidate is prospering from skimmerhat (to be clear, we truly want all candidates including incumbents, challengers, conservative, liberal or otherwise to benefit from skimmerhat) To us, however, that means we will have had an impact on the process, which isn’t guaranteed but is an opportunity we fully embrace.

We are aware (or as aware as you can be without experiencing it first-hand) of the implications of throwing a wrench in the system. In an application to a startup program, it asked “Who are your competitors? And who do you fear most?” We listed our marketplace competitors — some civic startups as well as bundling organizations like ActBlue and ActRight — and then we wrote that we do not fear our competitors.

We wrote that we fear politicians who might strengthen ballot access laws to make it more difficult for independent-type candidates to succeed. We also wrote that we fear gerrymandering, as it already occurs in crafting districts to create easier support and victories for a certain party or segment of people. But, then we wrote that we believe if given the right tools and the power to control our government — as Americans do and always have — citizens will make the right choices to prevent all of this from happening.

Sure, our fears might sound like paranoia, but, remember, we aren’t entering a sane business.

Even with that, though, as we noted, we have faith in Americans if they are given the appropriate tools to work with.

As we build skimmerhat, we believe we are one of the tools that will help form a more engaged citizenry. But luckily, we aren’t alone in making an impact on government in a positive way. Far from it.

There are resources like OpenCongress and POPVOX and OpenSecrets and plenty of others that are pulling open the curtain of government to give it to us, the people. Then there are organizations like Code for America and open data journalists like Alex Howard. The open data and open government/Gov 2.0 movement will supply citizens with the information and access that will educate them and allow them to take action. It will create transparency in a system that seems more muddied than ever.

So, while we know we aren’t entering a sane business, if skimmerhat, along with the others working for a better system, can incrementally improve government processes, we will gladly accept the insanity.

Being idealistic is hardly sane itself.

— Spencer

"Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.” - New York Times, 2/25/12
Andrew included this picture in a very good post from a couple weeks ago, but we wanted to re-post it because the message it conveys is the message we want to capture and share with skimmerhat. It’s about us, the American people.
— Spencer

"Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.” - New York Times, 2/25/12

Andrew included this picture in a very good post from a couple weeks ago, but we wanted to re-post it because the message it conveys is the message we want to capture and share with skimmerhat. It’s about us, the American people.

— Spencer