Politics

What Senators Schumer & Gillibrand Need to Understand by Nate Westheimer

Next Wednesday, we are holding an Emergency NY Tech Meetup in front of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand's offices to demonstrate our opposition to PIPA and SOPA. Together, as a NY tech community, we need to come together, so please take a long lunch next Wednesday, bring your co-workers, and let's stop this thing.

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand need to understand that with a single vote in support of PIPA, and without publicly condemning and trying to stop the legislation leading up to the vote, they would be dead to the NY technology industry for good.

Why so harsh?

On patent reform, we understand that we can't get everything we want. We understand that there's a process. We'll press you hard, but we'll also be patient. We understand.

On immigration reform, we understand we can't get everything we want either. While our companies are starved for talent and our Country turns away job creators (who happen to be from a different country themselves) dying to grow the US economy and employ Americans, we will be patient as you try and navigate the political waters on this tough issue.

On capital gains reform, we understand that what's in our best interest as entrepreneurs is not always fair or easy to shoulder for the rest of the country. Again, we understand the process is difficult and ou are doing your best job.

But PIPA is wholly different. We will not understand. We will not accept anything short of public condemnation of the bill in its current form and pledges to vote "No" as long as damaging structural changes to how the Internet works exists in the legislation.

And without that condemnation, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand need to know they will permanently damage any credibility they had built as innovation-friendly representatives. PIPA is an appallingly damaging piece of legislation. Show us you get that.

See everyone next Wednesday. Together, let's stop this horrific bill.

Meeting Bill Clinton, Remembering Steve Jobs. by Nate Westheimer

I met Bill Clinton last night. Oddly, I get a similar feeling thinking about him as I do Steve Jobs. Maybe it's my association with the roaring 90s, or perhaps the monstrous charisma they both exude. Was balancing the budget the political equivalent to getting all of my music I ever owned on one little, beautiful device? It's all magic to me. Back to the event: I walked over to the President as he and Scott Heiferman were talking about the power of self-organized groups. They got kicked off on their conversation, of course, by talking about what Scott does, but when I fully poked my head into the conversation they were on to crowd funding and all the old regulation getting in the way of more crowd lending programs and domestic micro-finance programs. Super fun fact: President Bill Clinton is a big fan of Kickstarter. Also cool, but not surprising: the President still knows more about policy than 99.999% of people who talk about policy. The extensiveness of his knowledge on these issues was astounding. Details matter and are what good policy is made from.

Anyway, when the President introduced himself to me (he has this whole pivot, look you the in the eye, extend his hand and say 'hello' thing down pretty well), I wasn't quite sure what to say. I told him about the NY Tech Meetup for a moment (was cool to have Scott there next to me), but had actually come to the event knowing exactly what I wanted to say to him, if given the chance. So this is what I told him:

"I just wanted to let you know that when I was 9, in 1992, I had just started playing the saxophone, and to see a presidential candidate play the saxophone on national television was about the coolest thing ever. Thanks."

This is the video of the "Arsenio moment", if you've never seen it:

I've met "famous" people before, but I've never really known what to say, and when I do say something I usually think "I can't believe I said that!" Not this time. Telling him a memory from when I was nine and he wasn't elected president yet felt awesome and I think it was a fun story for him too. Of course, in Cliton's famous style, he followed up my story with an incredibly detailed story about jazz and the Elvis song played (Heartbreak Hotel).

Anyway, now that I have you in the mood, here's another video of the President playing saxophone. This time at the Newport Jazz Festival's 40th Anniversary:

And this brings me to Steve Jobs. If I had ever gotten the chance to meet him I would have told him about the fun my brother and I had playing the Voyage of the Mimi game on our Apple IIe. The game had all these cool peripherals, like a barometer and light meter. It turned our computer into a science kit. While Microsoft embraced business Apple aimed at education. And that's why I've always loved Apple: Spreadsheets? Any computer can run a spreadsheet. Not every computer, at least not ever computer in the mid-80s, made you want to learn something.

The Innovation Platform by Nate Westheimer

As many of you know, I've always been deeply involved in politics. I believe there is such thing has good government run by good politicians who write and pass good policy. It's with this in mind that I'm excited to announce my support for Reshma Saujani's campaign for Congress.

Reshma's first and biggest hurdle will be the primary election she has this coming Fall. As we get closer to the date, I'll be asking for your help in getting out the vote.

Right now, however, I want to point you to what has drawn me  -- along with Chris Hughes, Jack Dorsey, Alan Patricof, and many others in the startup community -- to backing Reshma: Her "Innovation Platform."

Click-through to the Innovation Platform and you can find new policy ideas from Reshma and her supporters. On this page you can find Reshma's stance on immigration reform, and on this page you can find my idea for increasing Scholarships for Computer Science.

Reshma's Innovation Platform is innovative both in terms of content and format. It's her platform mixed with ours.

So please, go add your voice to her platform. Let's change politics together.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Dancing to 'Hail to the Chief' and Sweating to the National Anthem by Nate Westheimer

Inauguation I believe my toes are still numb from yesterday's Inauguration; but my heart is warm for two distinct reasons:

The first was the sight of people dancing the The Presidential Anthem ('Hail to the Chief') for the first time in my lifetime (maybe ever?). 'Hail to the Chief' has always seemed somewhat inappropriate to me: not because we shouldn't revere our President, and give him the respect the Constitution allows him, but because the march seemed to highlight the outsized amount of Power held by such unfitting men.

When Obama exited the steps of the Capitol and the band struck up, people danced all around me. "Change We Could Believe In" became "Power We Can Celebrate." It's a newer, smarter Power, and I look forward to seeing it in action.

And if we are ready to dance to "Hail to the Chief" I think we should be ready to sweat to our National Anthem.

The second reason I am so moved is because I believe the call to National Service made yesterday will be met by my fellow Americans. Obama renewed the call for us to tackle our Nation's problems as if it was effort like going to the moon. To step up, "not because it is easy, but because it is hard."

I believe my work with the NY Tech Meetup is one form of service: hopefully our work will help create jobs and a stronger industry will stimulate technological advances which are good for all people.

However, it is not enough. So, this weekend I am going to start orientation to become a Big Brother. I've chosen Big Brothers and Big Sisters of NY (over great programs like Camp Interactive) for personal reasons (see below), but there are so many ways to serve society and this Country. I'm sure many of you already do serve in some way (and many work to serve their families in a way which cannot allow more work); but if you do not yet serve in some way, consider Obama's call to service, and consider joining me and sweating to the National Anthem.

Personal Note: I’ll point you to the inspiring story of America’s first Big Brother, as reported in the Cincinnati Post in 1999.

Here’s an excerpt:

The phrase ‘All men are created equal’ echoed in [Irvin] Westheimer’s mind, fresh from a re-reading of the Declaration of Independence that began his day. But the pitiful scene in the downtown alley struck him as a bleak contrast to Jefferson’s powerful eloquence.

Westheimer ran downstairs and introduced himself. The boy, friendly but somewhat wary, said his name was Tom.

That Irvin Westheimer, seen below presenting Richard Nixon with a plaque naming him an Honorary Big Brother, was my Great Grandfather. (Click image to enlarge and read the funny quip Irvin said to Nixon at the event)

One Week by Nate Westheimer

I awoke this morning with very strong feelings. One week.

It weighed on me. Today's Tuesday. Next Tuesday Barack Obama will be President.

As I got out of bed and got ready for work, I thought back so something Michelle Obama said a matter-of-factly times during the campaign season -- her word still rang true to me:

"Barack Obama will be the underdog until he is sitting in the White House."

One week, and Barack Obama -- and everything he stands for -- is still the underdog.

Getting this far was the unlikely story of my lifetime. Seeing Barack Obama speak at the 2004 convention, and then knowing he should be the next President, only to then become a part of that unlikely story and successfully change politics -- it's almost too much for a 25 year old to reconcile.

Were we, as underdog believers in a Different Democracy -- a Country throwing itself at the Future, rather than hiding and fighting under the cloak of its past -- really successful in our efforts to Change the world and elect Barack Obama? Will he, sometime in the early afternoon of January 20th, 2009, really sit in the White House?

Will our ideals go from underdog to topdog?

Not yet.

The fight for affordable healthcare, equitable taxation, Smart Power, green power, vibrant educational and competitive technological systems has just begun.

We were underdogs for this chance. But now we have our chance.

So, this week, let us celebrate -- one last time -- this accomplishment. Let us dance and sign one last time. The fight was hard and the victory was sweet. We won the Chance to Change.

But next week -- one week from today -- let's get to work.