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Showing posts with label david moon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label david moon. Show all posts

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What the Presidential Race Says About the Future of Maryland Politics // Through the Lens of Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders

GUEST POST - By Delegate David Moon

This year's presidential primaries have been taking place in the midst of the Annapolis legislative session. As a result, I've been far more focused on Maryland politics than the presidential race. But I've finally started tuning in to the national horserace, and I'm noticing some fascinating data points that Maryland politicos might want to consider. Indeed, without making any commentary or predictions on the presidential race itself, my thesis for Maryland is that the battle for the White House shows the impact of a recession-era (and growing millenial) electorate finally registering. Here are five emerging trends to note:

1) AMERICA'S DEMOCRATIC ELECTORATE IS NOW FIRMLY LIBERAL - I've noticed the historic wealth gap routinely discussed in the media, but we hadn't really seen the effects of this on Democrats nationally, in quite the same way the Tea Party has tilted the Republicans. It appears that is beginning to change. This clip from stands out: "Among the entrance poll numbers that help explain how Sanders became a serious threat to Clinton: 70% of Nevada's caucusgoers identified themselves as liberal. That's up from the even split in 2008 between liberals and those who called themselves moderate or conservatives. The movement mirrors the results in Iowa and New Hampshire, and make clear that the party's leftward drift is here to stay."
  • MY TAKEAWAY: It is a good time for Democrats to speak out forcefully on justice issues, and to do so with credibility. Doing so isn't a guarantee of victory in a 2018 General Election, but it seems harder for us to generate turnout from the base in Maryland, if we aren't speaking to our party's increasingly liberal instincts. At the same time, Maryland's would-be Democratic governors will have to find a way to address this "party-base" sentiment to win the nomination in 2018.

2) ESTABLISHMENT POLITICIANS ARE GOING OUT OF STYLE (THANKS TO INDEPENDENTS) - Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire (where Independents can vote in either party's primary), but only came close to a tie in Nevada (where only registered Democrats can vote in the caucuses). Granted, Nevada has same-day voter registration, thereby allowing people to change parties on caucus day, but confirms Sanders' commanding lead over Clinton among these voters: he won over 70% of Nevada's Independent-minded caucus participants. Indeed, unaffiliated voters are growing at a faster rate than Democrats around the nation, including in places like Maryland. But the challenges this can pose for state Democrats are evident from this single data-point in : "If former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg jumps into the race as a third party candidate against Sanders and Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Bloomberg would hurt Sanders more than either Republican." You heard that right, a bloc of voters would prefer either Independent socialist Bernie Sanders or Independent billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg to today's Republican candidates. This is a puzzling dynamic, given the two very different views of Bloomberg and Sanders. In a lower turnout gubernatorial election, these types of voters may be the key to victory in Maryland.
  • MY TAKEAWAY: All of this means, for example, to defeat Governor Larry Hogan during his re-election race, the solution might NOT be to simply find a more moderate Democrat. A better standard might be to find a candidate who is clearly NOT a party hack. In a 2018 General Election fight, a key question for Maryland voters will be "who actually stands for me?" For various reasons, I think Hogan answered this question better than Democrats did in 2014. But as the presidential race shows, only some of this message can be conveyed by substance, as opposed to style (or lack thereof). In my own case, people often say (without flattery) that I don't dress like a politician. But maybe that's exactly my point -- and I would never run for Governor, hahaha, but I myself like to vote for candidates who seem like "real" people. We often say that authenticity matters, but rarely do I see that statement followed-up with an explanation of why. This year's presidential race provides numerous opportunities to study this question, and we would be wise to pay attention in Maryland.

3) LATENT SEXISM IS ALIVE AND WELL IN PARTS OF THE ELECTORATE - If the race ends up being Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, Clinton's lead among women is somewhere between a tie and a 9-point margin. But the also notes, "Men vote anyone but Clinton by margins of 8 to 16 percentage points."  Yikes!  I've cautioned my Democratic friends against complacency with Clinton as our nominee, because I predict the vitriol we will see against her will be similar to what Republicans have done to Obama. So we have to choose between either a socialist candidate or a polarizing candidate to serve as the punching bag for Republican craziness. That's not an endorsement of either Sanders or Clinton, but one key lesson here is that the Democratic Party establishment should NEVER attempt to scare candidates out of these primaries.
  • MY TAKEAWAY: We should embrace an organic dialogue within the party, and let these dynamics play out. It might've been useful to have a few more candidates in the race this year, and in 2018 Maryland Democrats should not attempt to artificially narrow the gubernatorial field for a chosen establishment candidate.

4) MILLENIALS ARE OUR GENERATION'S DEPRESSION-ERA VOTERS - It is not always easy to see historical trends happening when you're standing in the middle of them, but I believe we're witnessing a shift right now. The Great Depression had a lasting impact on voters who came of age during that period, and I imagine we're seeing the same from the millenial generation. This write-up on a provides a snapshot: "Among college-aged Americans, 58 percent report a positive view of socialism and 56 percent a positive view of capitalism." While this may sound like conflicting data to many people, it actually sounds awfully similar to how Northern European social democracies work. is as follows: "Social democracy is a political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, and a policy regime involving welfare state provisions, collective bargaining arrangements, regulation of the economy in the general interest, measures for income redistribution, and a commitment to representative democracy."
  • MY TAKEAWAY: In the future, Democrats should increasingly embrace a populist economic justice agenda. Today's college students who DON'T often vote will be tomorrow's 40-year-old's who DO often vote. The millenials are an emergent very large voting bloc, and voting habits form early and can last a long time.

5) THE RISE OF MELTING POT POLITICS - We've all been hearing how America is headed to a majority-minority future. But just as we're seeing in ‪Montgomery County‬, that doesn't mean that the nation is rehashing a 1960's black-white paradigm; rather we are witnessing the formation of a multi-racial electorate with large disparate blocs of races and ethnicities. Clinton is crushing Sanders among African-American voters, Sanders is supposedly leading among Latino voters, and . We see these types of political changes manifest earlier in diverse places like Maryland.
  • MY TAKEAWAY: Democratic aspirants won't be able to take these groups for granted in the future. In the past, party politicians seeking a promotion have been quick to throw certain groups under the bus. Here are a few examples -- Democratic support for deportations, pandering to dismantle welfare, voting for foreign wars (Iraq, ahem), cultural cues like the Sister Souljah incident, and of course racially disparate "tough on crime" policies like zero-tolerance, crack-cocaine disparities and the drug war. Staying on this path would be a grave error. Indeed, I was in the audience at the Netroots Nation conference last year in Phoenix when speeches by Martin O'Malley & Bernie Sanders were disrupted by #BlackLivesMatter protesters. I sat astonished as neither candidate addressed the issues raised by the activists, though all the Democratic candidates today are singing a different tune.

That's all I got. Fire away. 


QUINNIPIAC FEBRUARY 2016 POLL: Below you can see a clip from the latest Quinnipiac poll ():
Presidential matchups among American voters show:
  • Sanders over Trump 48 – 42 percent;
  • Sanders tops Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas 49 – 39 percent;
  • Sanders leads Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida 47 – 41 percent;
  • Sanders beats Bush 49 – 39 percent;
  • Sanders edges Kasich 45 – 41 percent.
  • Clinton with 44 percent to Trump’s 43 percent;
  • Cruz with 46 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent;
  • Rubio topping Clinton 48 – 41 percent;
  • Bush at 44 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent;
  • Kasich beating Clinton 47 – 39 percent.
If Bloomberg mounts a third party run, results are:
  • Sanders and Trump tied 38 – 38 percent, with 12 percent for Bloomberg;
  • Sanders tops Cruz 39 – 33 percent, with 14 percent for Bloomberg.
Sanders’ leads among key independent voters range from 45 – 35 percent over Kasich to 52 – 33 percent over Cruz. By comparison, Clinton’s best score among independent voters is 42 percent to Trump’s 40 percent.
Sanders’ leads among women range from 9 to 16 percentage points. Men are generally divided except in the Sanders-Bush matchup where the Democrat leads by 6 percentage points.

Clinton’s leads among women range from a tie to a 9-percentage point edge over Trump. Men vote anyone but Clinton by margins of 8 to 16 percentage points.

American voters give Sanders a 51 – 36 percent favorability. Kasich gets a 35 – 18 percent favorability with Rubio at a split 39 – 37 percent score. All other scores are negative:
  • 37 – 58 percent for Clinton;
  • 37 – 57 percent for Trump;
  • 36 – 45 percent for Cruz;
  • 21 – 26 percent for Bloomberg;
  • 37 – 48 percent for Bush.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Maryland Juice Is Back! - Meet Our New Writer (And Hopefully More Soon) // So What Now? We Kind of Have An Idea....

Aaaaand we're back! Sorry for the 10 month hiatus, but Maryland Juice founder David Moon stepped away from his writing duties to learn how to become a lawmaker in Annapolis. During that period, a lot of good political news went uncovered, but in recent months some new blogs and local publications have stepped into the Maryland press void. We hope to re-join this community in the coming weeks -- but as always, we will do so from the lens of Maryland's progressive Democratic community, with a twist of civil liberties and justice blended into your juice. :)

Unfortunately (or fortunately), Maryland Juice 1.0 (David Moon) will be taking an indefinite hiatus from his writing duties and lining up new writers for the blog. During this transition period, he'll be helping the new writers understand the readership data for Maryland Juice, it's writing style, etc. The goal will be to keep the mission of the blog the same (eg: justice oriented Maryland political news), but to bring some new voices into the mix. That being said, all story ideas and press distribution should go to the new writers. Moon is going to be shifting into a passive role with the blog. We'll see where this takes us.....

OH SNAP, NEW WRITERS! - The first of the new writers under the Maryland Juice 2.0 reboot will be Matt Verghese, a Montgomery County-based Democratic politico. He's kicking us off with a handful of articles on voter suppression in MoCo, endorsements in Maryland's Congressional races, and a summary of recent state polling results. Add this guy to your press list & send him some juicy leads: .

Meet Matt Verghese, a Maryland Juice 2.0 writer

WHO IS THIS GUY ANYWAY? - Matt Verghese comes to Maryland Juice after a long stint in Annapolis - including working for the General Assembly, serving as Political and Communications Director of the Maryland Democratic Party, and as Lt. Governor Anthony Brown's Deputy Chief of Staff. He's been involved in a number of campaigns - including Governor O'Malley's 2010 reelect, serving as Deputy Coordinated Campaign Director in 2012, and the 2014 gubernatorial race. He currently works as a Senior Aide to Tom Hucker at the Montgomery County Council.

Matt is lover of all things Maryland - especially the Terps, berger cookies, crabs smothered in Old Bay, and local craft beers. He's opinionated (extremely so according to some), happily biased against outdated trickle-down reactionary policies and the politicians who espouse them, and a wonkish enthusiast of data, tables and charts. Matt lives in Montgomery County and is a proud graduate of MCPS. He received both his bachelor and master's degrees from the University of Maryland. You can reach Matt Verghese at .

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

MARYLAND JUICE UNPLUGGED: Attend Our 1 Million Views Party MON 11/18 in Rockville & Ask Elected Officials Anything

Maryland Juice writers David Moon & Dan Furmansky are pleased to announce a major new milestone in the short history of this upstart progressive politics blog: we've now crossed the one million reads mark!  We're celebrating the occasion by hosting a "one million views" party on Monday, November 18th from 6-8pm at the (near the White Flint red line Metro station). We'll be joined by a surprise line-up of elected officials and candidates who are willing to jump into the muck with Maryland Juice readers and take live questions from the audience. Details below:


YOU'RE INVITED: Please Join Maryland Juice hosts David Moon & Dan Furmansky for our first-ever reader party. We'll be providing tasty snacks, fun socializing with Maryland politicos, and unfiltered audience Q&A with elected officials and candidates for high profile offices. We'll provide details on the speakers line-up closer to the event.

Maryland Juice Unplugged : One Million Views Party
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH - 6 TO 8 pm
Paladar Latin Kitchen
11333 Woodglen Drive
North Bethesda, MD

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SPONSOR THE PARTY FOR A FREE AD ON MARYLAND JUICE: We are seeking sponsors to cover the food for this event. Event sponsorship costs $200 and includes a free ad on Maryland Juice for one month. We'll replace either our Norm Stone or Sam Arora ads with your on byrscdr.cn. We reserve the right to refuse any ads. Please inquire at: .

      

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

VIDEO & PHOTO ALBUM: Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Del. Al Carr & Activists Speak Out for David Moon's House Campaign

Maryland Juice blogger David Moon held his first fundraiser for a 2014 House of Delegates race in Silver Spring and Takoma Park's District 20. With Delegate Heather Mizeur vacating her seat to run for Governor, I've been preparing to take the leap from progressive activism to progressive legislative organizing. (excerpt below):
MARYLAND REPORTER: David Moon, the man behind the Maryland Juice political blog in Montgomery County, made it sort of official Saturday on the back patio of his Takoma Park home. He’s running for the House of Delegates, with a formal announcement to come later....
"I really believe he would be amazing," [Montgomery County Councilmember] Navarro said. "We also need to recreate and reorganize our campaign strategies," and Moon can do that. "There’s a real opportunity to add more progressive choices," said Del. Al Carr, D-18.

Among the changes Moon wants to bring on economic justice issues is removing the heavy hand of corporations in politics, promoting women’s pay equity, providing universal child care, and demolishing "mass incarceration and the failed war on drugs.... "We have an opportunity to show that there’s a new way forward," said Moon. Moon has achieved a wide following with Maryland Juice....
VIDEO COMMENTARY FROM SUPPORTERS OF DAVID MOON: For those who weren't able to attend my event, I quickly pulled together a video of testimonials from some of the officials and activists who dropped by. In the short movie below, you can hear statements from County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Delegate Al Carr, transit advocate Casey Anderson, and Dream Act student activist Jonathan Jayes-Green. Casey Anderson may have summed up the ethos of the event with his comment: "This race is a referendum on that idea, that we have turned a corner and people want something more from their politics - Democrats especially. And yet we've got legislators who would crawl through broken glass before they would take a tough vote...."


My campaign event last week was attended by a range of officials and progressive activists who were involved in some of the high-profile organizing campaigns of recent memory, including defending marriage equality and the Dream Act, advancing the Purple Line, and stopping corporate welfare. A few elected officials came out for the gathering, including Delegate Al Carr, County Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Valerie Ervin, and Takoma Park Councilmembers Seth Grimes and Terry Seamens. We even had a drop-in from Clarence Lam, who is running for Delegate in the Howard County region. :


Find out more at:



By Authority: Friends of David Moon. Chair: Marlana Valdez. Treasurer: Usman Ahmed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

CAT IS OUTTA THE BAG: Maryland Juice Blogger David Moon is Hosting a Brunch Fundraiser for a State House Campaign

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.  Maryland Juice blogger David Moon is simply weighing a run for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 20.  Indeed, I had to in recent months, but I'm now moving one step closer to making a decision. , and I thought some readers might want to drop by and chat about my future plans. An all-star host committee of progressive activists in Maryland and Montgomery County has signed up to support my efforts, including a number of folks involved in recent organizing efforts around supporting marriage equality, fighting corporate welfare, promoting voting rights and transparency, fighting for civil liberties, standing up for immigrants' rights, advancing smart growth and transit, and much more. State Senator Jamie Raskin's 2006 campaign chair, Marlana Valdez, has also signed on to chair "Friends of David Moon" (details below):
Please Join Us for a Brunch Fundraiser at David Moon's House

Saturday, August 24   |   12:00 to 2:00 pm
30 Ritchie Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20910

RSVP at

HOST COMMITTEE (IN FORMATION): County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, Marlana Valdez, Tamika Bennett, Dan Furmansky, Casey Anderson, Abigail Burman, Jean Athey, Sue Udry, Thomas Nephew, Martine Zundmanis, Usman Ahmed, Jonah Gold, Josh Gruenspecht, Rob Richie & Cindy Terrell, Tina & Don Slater, Lisa Polyak & Gita Deane.

In the meantime, I also produced a self-made video discussing why I'm thinking of running for the state legislature and telling viewers a little bit more about myself:




P.S. Don't worry, I'm not planning on junking up Maryland Juice with a bunch of news about my campaign. The dissemination of political news and mission of advancing social and economic justice will remain front and center for this blog.


By Authority: Friends of David Moon. Chair: Marlana Valdez. Treasurer: Usman Ahmed.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MARYLAND JUICE MILESTONE: Over 900,000 PageViews // Thanks for Reading & Helping Me Hack Maryland Politics

Maryland Juice is thrilled to celebrate a new milestone: last night our upstart blog earned over 900,000 pageviews, and we've only been at this for just under two years:


More below the fold.....

Monday, July 1, 2013

HACKING POLITICS: The Death of Aaron Swartz, The Birth of Maryland Juice & State Senator David Brinkley // Read My Book

MYSTERIES OF MARYLAND JUICE REVEALED


Dear Maryland Juice Reader:

Maryland Juice's alter-ego (David Moon) has just co-authored a new book called "Hacking Politics" [ available now & available on a "Pay What You Want" basis for a limited time]. The collection of writings from myself and numerous figures in tech policy and online organizing chronicles the 2012 battle to defeat Internet censorship legislation called SOPA/PIPA. But rather than post some self-congratulatory and shameless plug for the project, I thought it would be better to break my silence on a few matters in the fairly lengthy piece below. 

What does it mean to actually "be the change?"
INTRODUCTION: I thought it was about time for me to provide a little bit of context surrounding the circumstances of this blog's formation and explain why I volunteer my spare time to expose the inner workings of Maryland's political system. Along the way, you'll read some hints about my future plans, and you'll also hear a few untold stories about how my work on Maryland Juice relates to the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz and (oddly) to Maryland State Senator David Brinkley. The collective of political hackers called Anonymous even makes a cameo appearance (kind of). 

I've been steadily working on this piece over the course of the last few months but always found myself lacking the mental energy (and the time) to finish the job. In recent weeks, however, several incidents have pushed this persistent "almost-article" into the front of my mind.

It's been great meeting so many wonderful people around the area over the last year and discovering that they are readers of Maryland Juice. I am truly honored that you've chosen to spend time reading about Free State politics through this progressive civil libertarian's lens. But I've also heard from a few detractors who say my blog is biased, sometimes snarky, and might even have an agenda. Let me be clear: I think that's exactly the point.

Maryland Juice was formed in August 2011, a few months after I started working for an Internet activist group called Demand Progress. I had decided to take a pause from campaign work after several years of back-to-back election cycles on the trail for a range of candidates including State Senators Jamie Raskin & Rich Madaleno; Delegates Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutierrez & Jeff Waldstricher; MoCo Councilmembers Nancy Navarro & Hans Riemer; and the Maryland Democratic ticket in 2010. After that election cycle, I even applied for a job trying to bring my electoral reform experience (built up while working at a group called FairVote), to try and setup an election monitoring system in Tunisia. I needed to be working on something different.

But instead I ended up at Demand Progress, and the work I was doing there very quickly began to influence the way I approached how to use my blog. Remember that nationally Democrats had just gone through the bruising Tea Party cycle of 2010. So somewhere between the models of the Maryland Politics Watch blog and the aggressive activist tactics of The Tea Party, Occupy, Susan G. Komen protests, and more -- I started developing a new theory of change for progressive politics. I had already tried affecting change on the campaign trail, in nonprofits, through ballot measures, with a law degree, with a PAC, in primaries, in generals, and even from within the government itself. But weaponizing information (especially information that might go viral) was something new to me.

Naturally, Maryland Juice began coopting some of the tactics I saw providing some measure of success for online organizers and conservative activists. For example, when the political shaming strategies of Rupert Murdoch's rightwing NewsCorp were revealed to the world, I paid close attention. The curation of Maryland Juice is an experiment in learning from some of the aforementioned tactics -- but unlike some other pratictioners, I've been trying to use these strategies to promote social and economic justice. And during much of the time I've been writing the blog, I've had an entirely parallel activist life that I haven't talked about much on Maryland Juice -- until now.

The tragic events described below have made me impatient for change and determined to shock the conscience of voters into awakening. As a result, the blog itself has over time evolved into an aggressive attempt to hack politics. You and I are participating in an experiment in state-based progressive activism that I call Maryland Juice, and among the central theories driving this project are the ideas that to create change we must insist that decorum and inertia yield to justice, and that we must stop "waiting for Superman" to fix politics.

DECORUM MUST YIELD TO JUSTICE: This point was never so clear to me as it was last January, when my friend and colleague Aaron Swartz hung himself with a belt from the window of his Brooklyn, New York apartment. He was only 26 years old. 

Aaron co-founded and helped develop numerous cutting-edge sites and online information-sharing technologies including reddit.com, RSS 1.0, Creative Commons, and (as we discovered after his death) the New Yorker's online system for receiving anonymous news tips. His high-profile pursuits were noted as early as age 14, marking the arrival of one of the most interesting child prodigies of our time. This August Aaron is posthumously being inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame alongside titans like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and a documentary film is being made about his life (). Lastly, in response to Aaron's high-profile death, last month a bill called "Aaron's Law" was introduced in Congress to prevent future tragedies. 

You see, the U.S. Department of Justice (under Eric Holder's leadership) decided to try and make a criminal out of Aaron and threatened him with thirty-five years in prison for unbelievably trumped up felony "hacking" charges. In truth, if Aaron had been convicted, he would've been a political prisoner. I explain why down below.


"Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity."
 - Aaron Swartz 1986-2013


Practically the entire time I knew Aaron and worked with him, he was living under the cloud of a menacing prosecution. But he was intensely private about the whole affair and refused to do more than shrug his shoulders when I asked him about it. I would later come to discover that Aaron's friends were being dragged before federal officials to testify against him. All the while, Aaron kept his head high and continued his activist work and projects. He never stopped thinking about ways to make positive change on complex issues of justice. But in some ways I feel I may have let him down, as there would come to be signs that the prosecution was taking a personal toll on him.

MAY 2012: AARON SWARTZ FOR NY MAYOR? - One of the last times I saw Aaron alive, he had come to Silver Spring, Maryland (near where I live) to give the . I didn't arrive at the AFI Silver Theatre in time to hear his remarks, though the has now been viewed by over 400,000 people. Sadly, I couldn't have known then that this would be one of Aaron's final public addresses. Nevertheless, after his speech Aaron wanted a ride to Union Station so that he could catch the next train back to New York. And as soon as we got in my car, he asked plainly, "what's on your mind these days?" Aaron was always curious to hear more about what others were working on.

I described to him my frustrations with the lack of political courage on criminal justice reforms that would end the mass incarceration of Americans for non-violent offenses (who, by the way, are disproportionately poor and of color). I ranted about the fact that across the nation, Democrats had all but given up on challenging corporate power in our political system. And I also told Aaron I had been thinking about running for public office in Maryland.

Given Aaron's interest in open information, I tried to tickle his interest in experiments with activist legislating for the cause. In particular, I described to him some possible things an elected official could do to force complacent legislative leaders to grant the public access to information about what their government is doing. Maryland, for example, had only recently started publishing committee votes online. But why couldn't a diligent lawmaker simply have gotten some staff or interns to systematically scan and publicly upload all of the committee votes themselves? And just like that, we started gaming out different ways of going rogue to create disclosure of government proceedings that the public ought to be able to see.

It was at this time that Aaron told me he had recently plotted out a hypothetical run for New York mayor in his head, as he wanted to see what it would take to mount a serious bid. Though it didn't seem he was actually talking about running, it was clear to me that this was a continuation of a conversation we had the first time I met Aaron only one and a half years earlier.

DECEMBER 2010: HACKING POLITICS - In September 2010 Aaron co-founded the online activist organization Demand Progress with my high school friend, former Rhode Island State Rep. and congressional candidate David Segal (who grew up in Montgomery County). Aaron and David brought me in to serve as Demand Progress' "Washington Guy" a few months after launching the organization. Though Aaron is not able to see what's become of his work with us, I think he would be pleased to know that we now amplify the voices of 1.5 million members in the aggressive defense of civil liberties, progressive causes and Internet freedom.

At the time, Aaron was most widely known as an open information advocate, who happened to believe that access to taxpayer funded academic research should not be a luxury reserved for wealthy nations and institutions. He was also a wildly creative and idealistic activist who looked for opportunities to make real change. When PACER (the U.S. court system's database of federal court documents) announced a pilot project to provide free access to public records at some libraries, Aaron found a way to download millions of the court documents and upload them into the cloud. Like a modern-day Robin Hood, Aaron made the files publicly available and was investigated by the FBI for his activism. At the time, . 

Though Aaron's PACER stunt was discussed in the mainstream media, I didn't know about the law enforcement distaste for his tactics when I first started working for Demand Progress. A passage from describes the first time I met Aaron Swartz, and it also details the beginning of a running dialogue we had about how to get justice-minded candidates to seek public office (excerpt below):
DAVID MOON (VIA HACKING POLITICS) - [Demand Progress'] primary function is to mobilize the public to advance civil liberties and progressive causes. We do so primarily during key moments in the public dialogue, when the actions of a few can be leveraged into results for many more.... Our work to stop SOPA/PIPA ... fits the paradigm for activism today: harnessing grassroots disruption to advance social change....  The Arab Spring protests, Occupy, the Tea Party, and Anonymous have all illuminated this paradigm shift.

My involvement with Demand Progress began on December 20, 2010, when I met the young Internet activist Aaron Swartz for coffee in Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle. I had never heard of Aaron or his work -- but over time, I quickly saw that he was trying to trigger many of the same policy changes I sought to advance....

But my first meeting with Aaron wasn't even really about [Internet censorship legislation called] COICA or Demand Progress. Instead, I asked Aaron to describe his broad vision of what he hoped Demand Progress might achieve. Aaron expressed immense frustration with the political process and stated that his dream was to see well-meaning grassroots candidates running for office in every district in the nation. Privately, I thought the idea sounded a bit grandiose (at least in the context of trying to create a short-term strategic plan for an organization), but that was mostly beside the point: it was clear that I shared Aaron's sense of impatience with a broken political system and his desire to go big....

FEBRUARY 2012: A CAMEO BY ANONYMOUS (KIND OF) - By February 2012, Demand Progress was reveling in the glow of the unexpected defeat of the SOPA/PIPA legislation. That month I spoke on a panel at DC Social Media week titled, "." It was a great event and a community celebration for Internet freedom fighters, but after the event I was approached by a gentleman who handed me a business card that had no text on it and simply displayed a bizarre pattern of shapes. When I gave him a puzzled look, he stated, "I'm anonymous. But I may be in touch." I don't know if those were his exact words, but you get the idea. Given recent high-profile news coverage of hacktivism, I assumed my mysterious new acquaintance was affiliated with the Anonymous (eg: the one with a capital "A"). As it would turn out, I never heard from him again, but the run-in would cause some confusion weeks later.

Indeed, soon after speaking at DC Social Media Week, and I can't remember exactly when, I received a USB flash drive in an unmarked manilla envelope in the mail. When I opened the unmarked package and saw the disk drive with no accompanying note, I immediately gulped, as I conjured up all sorts of crazy stories about what was on the drive or what might happen if I inserted it into my computer. By this time, I was already aware of the federal charges facing Aaron, so I thought it best to explore the mystery of the flash drive at a later date. With that decision made, I took the envelope and flash drive and threw them into the trunk of my car -- where they sat for months. Life and work, as is normal, diverted my attention from extracurricular activities such as this new mystery.

JUNE 2012: DARK DAYS FOR AARON SWARTZ - In June 2012, I was invited to speak on a panel at the annual conference (the topic was SOPA/PIPA organizing again). I remembered that the USB flash drive was still sitting in my car and decided I would bring it to the gathering in Providence, Rhode Island. I was finally ready to explore its contents. 

At this point in time, Demand Progress was still trying to steady its fundraising operations, so I was trying to find other activists to share my hotel room with me. I ended up bunking with Aaron and his girlfriend Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. Taren and I were both speaking on panels at the conference, and Aaron's attendance was actually a last minute decision. As the story goes, Taren had boarded a train to Providence, and Aaron was feeling down and wanted to be with her. He happened to be near New York Penn Station when talking to her on the phone and realized that the next train to arrive would be the one that Taren was aboard. So Aaron jumped on Taren's train and joined us in Providence.

Admittedly, I found the living arrangements a bit awkward, as I wanted to give Taren and Aaron some personal space. Our first night together was fine, as we were mostly all tired upon arrival, and the next morning Taren and I woke up and departed to our various panels. Aaron, however, stayed behind in the room. When I returned sometime after lunch, he was alone in the room with the shades drawn shut in total darkness. When I asked if he was going to come out with me, he stated that he wasn't yet ready to partake in the conference. I didn't think much of this. 

But I returned yet again in the early evening as the famous Netroots Nation happy hours and parties were about to begin and demanded he come out to socialize with some of our activist friends. Aaron promised he would meet up with me at one of the parties being sponsored by this or that progressive organization, and then he disappeared back into the darkness of the cave he had created for himself. Today I wonder whether this was a sign of the mental toll the federal prosecution was taking on him.

For whatever reason, this situation didn't seem so bizarre to me at the time, as I knew Aaron to be a bit eccentric and often not interested in mindless socializing. In fact, he was staying with me once on my birthday, and during my party he shut himself in my guest room as soon as people started singing to Journey. "What's going on down there?" he asked like a father might. That weekend, he enjoyed himself much more in my company when others were not around. I introduced him to the HBO television show Bored to Death and the rock band The Black Keys, and that seemed more his speed. In any case, with that experience in mind, I decided to give Aaron and Taren some space during the rest of the conference. Rather than continuing to intrude on their time together, I slept on the spare bed in the hotel room of one of my friends and former colleagues (Vermont State Rep. Chris Pearson of the Progressive Party -- a disruptive catalyst for change in his own right).

FLASH DRIVE MYSTERY SOLVED BY SEN. DAVID BRINKLEY - The morning after I was exposed to Aaron's dark day of solitude in our hotel room, I went back to our shared quarters to fetch some things. It was around lunchtime and Aaron was sitting in bed clacking away on his laptop. This time he allowed sunlight to penetrate the room.

I told Aaron that I brought a mysterious disk drive with me to the conference, and I disclosed to him the story about the man with the wordless business card. He immediately jumped out of bed and insisted we go down to the business center to explore the contents of the device. Aaron's face lit up with curiosity, and he was alive like I hadn't seen him during the rest of the conference. This was, in fact, the first time I had succeeded in getting him out of the hotel room.

So Aaron and I marched down to the business center at the conference to borrow one of their desktop computers. After all, I had refused to open the flash drive on my own computer. Hilariously, I had my own laptop in my hand, and the clerk at the business center inquired why we needed to use his computer when we had our own. I hadn't considered that one might wonder about this, and I stammered some garbled words in response. I thought the jig was up. But I quickly recovered and stated something about needing to print documents from their machine, and we proceeded to rent one of their computers.

When I finally loaded the USB drive into the computer, my excitement turned into disappointment. There were exactly two files on the drive, and they were both labeled something like "David Brinkley 911 Call." It turned out that the mysterious package had nothing to do with hacktivsm or Anonymous at all. The real story behind the anonymous mailing was that Maryland Republicans were embroiled in a heated primary race for the 6th Congressional seat held by GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett at the time. A State Senator named David Brinkley was challenging Bartlett in the primary, and someone had sent me copies of 911 audio recordings relating to a domestic disturbance at Brinkley's house. Obviously, they were hoping I would post the tapes on my blog Maryland Juice. At the time, I had decided to start writing about and weighing in on the horserace aspects of the GOP primary battle, since the mainstream media was seemingly not doing too much in-depth coverage of the race. 

The primary was held during April 2012, but I was so terrified of the unmarked package that whoever sent it to me probably had no idea I wouldn't even look at the contents until well after the election was over. As a result, the anonymous sender was later forced to post the 911 call tapes on YouTube and send them to me by email. Though the resulting Maryland Juice story caused quite a stir in state politics, I didn't even bother to tell Aaron what was on the flash drive. Instead, when he asked what the files were, I didn't think he'd be interested in the story. So I just told him that the fiiles were related to my blog. But now I wish I told him the full story, as I think he would've been amused. Oh well.

JANUARY 2013: THE DEATHS OF AARON SWARTZ & NORM GLEICHMAN - Around 2:30 am on Saturday, January 12, 2013, I received a Google news alert informing me that my friend and colleague . Given our work together on Demand Progress, in pro forma fashion, I had subscribed to news alerts mentioning Aaron. I was out of the house the night of Aaron's death and didn't know that the multiple missed calls were attempts to reach me about the shocking news. But when I got home and realized what was going on, I quickly made a late-night phone call to my tired sounding Demand Progress colleague David Segal. After confirming that the news alert was in fact true, I went to bed stunned and emotionally numb.

After just a few hours of uneasy rest, I bolted awake the next morning and quickly grabbed my smartphone to read any email messages that may have come through while I was sleeping. Though I was seeking more information about Aaron's death, I was instead astonished to read a Facebook message from a friend in Takoma Park informing me that our mutual friend Norm Gleichman died suddenly and unexpectedly while on vacation with his family. I first met Norm, a senior attorney in SEIU's national office, while managing Jamie Raskin's insurgent campaign for State Senate in 2006, and though we both mingled in some overlapping political circles, I actually knew Norm mostly in a non-political context. I had been over to his house a few times to have dinner with his family and also saw him shine as a thespian taking on the lead role in the Greenbelt Arts Center's 2009 production of the play "Amadeus." One of my friends briefly dated Norm's daughter and yet another had been working with Norm in SEIU's legal department for the past couple years. So when my wife Melinda and I moved close to Norm and his wife Marie's house in Takoma Park last year, we were excited to reconnect with them and have them over to our house for dinner. We've finally completed a year of mayhem living in a house undergoing renovations and are ready to entertain, but alas we will now miss the company of Norm, too.

Aaron Swartz and Norm Gleichman died on the same day under wildly divergent circumstances, and attending the two funerals in quick succession left me with a lasting psychic scar. But somehow Aaron's voluntary taking of his own life rattled me more than perhaps I've been able to comprehend. I had only weeks earlier met up with him at the December 2012 RootsCamp organizing conference in Washington, DC. That was the last time I ever saw Aaron in-person, but in our final conversation together, we caught up on our discussion about my potential run for office and Aaron followed-up by connecting me via email to an academic he knew who was working on the issue of mass incarceration in America. We also talked about maybe getting together later that weekend, but again I got too busy to actually meet up with Aaron. That would've been my last opportunity to chat with him about anything.

Aaron did, however, contact me on Twitter ten days before his death with a warning to protect one of my own accounts, which was probably spamming him with nonsense. His final message to me (though helpful at the time) now means something more to me than its ordinary tone would suggest. With all that must have been going on in his head, I can't even believe that he spent a nano-second writing this message to me:


CONCLUSION: Aaron and I never had the opportunity to finish our ongoing conversation, let alone even continue it. And so now I am continuing this dialogue directly with you instead. Maryland Juice is obviously not a mainstream media outlet, nor are we just another news blog or online political column. This operation is yet another experiment in Hacking Politics ... one reader at a time. Much, much more on the next steps soon. In the meantime:

#OccupyLife


MORE DETAILS ON MY BOOK: HACKING POLITICS -  . I co-authored the book with former Rhode Island Rep. David Segal, and former George W. Bush webmaster Patrick Ruffini. The strategies and work style reflected in the chapters I wrote are a window into the ethos of Maryland Juice. Though the book widely concerns a policy battle over Internet Freedom, I hope it is a useful case study for thinking about organizing more broadly. Our coalition's efforts culminated in a dramatic Internet-wide blackout of websites including Google, Wikipedia, Craigslist, and Mozilla. Along the way, our ragtag coalition came to include technologists, Tea Partiers, progressives, businesses, civil libertarians, and literally millions of ordinary Internet users around the nation. including giants in the pharmaceutical industry, Hollywood, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- and we prevailed

Hacking Politics details how it all went down from the perspective of numerous key participants, and in doing so shines the light on the massive influence of special interests in Congress -- and how to fight back guerilla-style. The book includes colorful stories and insightful commentary from Aaron Swartz, lawmakers including Ron Paul and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, musicians like Erin McKeown and Jonny 5 of the Flobots, as well as advocates from a range of websites including Google, reddit, Megaupload, Cheezburger, Suicide Girls, and more. I hope you might check it out at:

You can also watch a crude trailer I previously made for the book below:



NOTE: I am doubtful that simply mentioning my interest in public office in a single article on a blog that predates the creation of my committee requires an authority line, but just in case, this particular article alone may be considered: .

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2014 MOCO EXEC: Doug Duncan Calls Himself a Progressive Leader, George Leventhal Calls Out Ike Leggett Double Standard

PLUS: WATCH MARYLAND JUICE DISCUSS THE 2014 COUNTY EXEC RACE ON TV

This week has marked the beginning of the MoCo 2014 County Executive race in a major way. We previously noted that incumbent County Exec Ike Leggett is delaying a decision on re-election (potentially until June), and that there are now signs of life from former County Executive Doug Duncan. Below we further update Maryland Juice readers on the rapidly emerging dynamics in the 2014 slugfest.

JUICE #1: GEORGE LEVENTHAL SUGGESTS DOUBLE-STANDARD WITH IKE LEGGETT'S DEFENSE OF VALERIE ERVIN - After an anonymous website emerged attacking potential County Exec candidate Valerie Ervin this week, . Soon after County Executive Ike Leggett and Councilmember Phil Andrews also released statements condemning the anonymous campaign. Notably, Andrews is another contender for 2014 County Executive.

But Councilmember George Leventhal smells political motivations behind these statements of condemnation. In response to Ike Leggett's statements about the anti-Ervin website, Leventhal posted the following message on :



JUICE #2: DOUG DUNCAN'S FIRST CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION CALLS HIM A "PROVEN, PROGRESSIVE LEADER" - Former County Executive Doug Duncan released the first public communication from his 2014 County Executive campaign this week. In the message below, Duncan calls himself a "proven, progressive leader":
DFCE banner

Juice,

It goes without saying that Montgomery County is special to me: I was born and raised here and my beautiful wife of 32 years, Barbara, and I have raised our five children here.   It is even more special because, over the years, your friendship and support have always inspired me to serve you, to make this the best county in America.

Working together for more than a decade, we accomplished many great things on behalf of the county we love.  Our community, however, is now at a critical crossroad, and we have a choice to make: either maintain the status quo and hope things work out or proactively engage and make the choices that will position our county to be a national leader.

After taking some much-needed time to focus on my health, I’m feeling better than ever. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and once again provide the kind of strong leadership that our county warrants.  Montgomery County deserves more than the blame-game politics that have become commonplace; Montgomery County needs more than ever a proven, progressive leader who would rather focus on solutions and is bold enough to execute them.

I’m concerned about our future; I’m concerned about growing jobs and strengthening our economy, about making our nationally recognized school system even better and about finding real solutions to our transportation challenges.  

There’s no doubt that we face serious challenges.   But we’ve tackled tough problems before—we revitalized downtown Silver Spring, we reduced class sizes, and we fought for our fair share of funding from our state government in Annapolis, for roads, transit, school construction, and community needs.   

You and I know from experience that Montgomery County can’t move forward by standing still.  I hope you’ll join me, once again, as we fight to keep Montgomery County the best place in America to live, work and raise a family.

Thank you for all of your past support; I’m excited about the prospect of working together with you again to move this great county forward.  Please go to dougduncan.com to contribute and volunteer. Your help is essential for our future.

I’m ready to get started. Are you?

Sincerely,

Doug Duncan

JUICE #3: MARYLAND JUICE ANALYSES THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE RACE ON TV - Last week Maryland Juice spoke on a panel for potential candidates for public office. After my part of the presentation, a reporter from Montgomery Community Media interviewed me about the 2014 election cycle. In the pair of short videos below you can watch me discuss the dynamics of the County Executive race and more:

VIDEO #1: David Moon on Election 2014 Races



 
VIDEO #2: David Moon on County Executive Race

Thursday, October 11, 2012

MARYLAND JUICE TV: David Moon on Political Pulse TONIGHT // PLUS: Join Me Sunday at a MoCo Marriage Equality Event

MARYLAND JUICE ON TV TONIGHT: Maryland Juice will be appearing on the to talk shop with host Charless Duffy. The show airs tonight at 9:00 pm on Channel 16 in Montgomery County and will be replayed Friday and Sunday at 6:00 pm. See the announcement below:
POLITICAL PULSE: David Moon, who is the blogger for byrscdr.cn - which covers mostly MoCo and MD politics - will be on the "Political Pulse" TV Show on: Thursday, October 11th at 9:00 p.m. and Friday, October 12th- Sunday, October 14th at 6:00 p.m.

Topics include:
  • 2012 Races (U.S. Congress - 6th District in MD; U.S. Senate in MD; School Bd District 2 in MoCo; Ballot Initiatives); and
  • Early jockeying  in 2014 Races (MoCo County Exec; MD Governor; MD Lt. Governor; MD Attorney General).
  • The interview will be available on-line after it airs (go to www.mmctv.org and click Videos tab, then click Political Pulse).  Political Pulse is on Channel 16 TV in Montgomery County, MD

MARYLAND JUICE HOSTS QUESTION 6 EVENT ON SUNDAY: On a somewhat unrelated note, Maryland Juice's alter ego (David Moon) is one of several hosts of a marriage equality fundraiser this Sunday in Takoma Park. Please join dozens of MoCo progressives, elected officials, and more to help raise funds for a "vote for" Question 6. You can RSVP online at





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