Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blogging, Democracy: "Framing" issues for "spam filters"

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers on Friday challenged
3,000 progressive activists and communicators to take
back the telling of America's story at the National
Conference of Media Reform in Memphis. He put his
finger squarely on the deep vein of discontent with the
way mainstream media is ill-serving American democracy.

Moyers, who is president of the Schumann Center for
Media and Democracy, went through a sordid litany of
corporate media malfeasance, from the lackluster and
largely non-skeptical reporting of the Bush
administration's launch of the war in Iraq to the lack
of attention paid to a domestic landscape of increasing
economic disparity and racial segregation. Virtually
uncontrolled media consolidation over the past decade,
he said, has meant a loss of independent journalism and
created 'more narrowness and homogenization in content
and perspective, so that what we see on our couch is
overwhelmingly the view from the top.'

It is in this environment that the Bush administration
can, for example, can 'turn the escalation of a failed
war and call it a surge, as if it were a current of
electricity through a wire instead of blood spurting
from the ruptured veins of a soldier,' Moyers said.

On the domestic front, 'the question of whether or not
our economic system is truly just is off the table for
investigation and discussion, so that alternative
ideas, alternative critiques, alternative visions never
get a hearing,' he said.

'It is clear what we have to do. We have to tell the
story ourselves,' he said.

What Moyers is calling for is a two-pronged attack.
Activists should continue pressing the established
media to live up to the public service obligations of
the Communications Act of 1934, obligations that have
been trampled in the past two decades as both political
parties succumb to the influence of enormously powerful
telecommunications and entertainment company lobbies.
At the same time, the Internet and digital
communication tools allow every citizen to become a
Thomas Paine, he said, challenging the establishment
with an alternative vision of social justice and
government for the common good. It makes it possible,
he said for citizens to say to those who seek to exert
imperial control over both government and the means to
be informed about government, 'you no longer own the
copyright to America's story.

Re: I wonder how this gets "framed?"

Where is George Lakoff when we need him?

I just got off the phone with Paul Cumings, the Legislative assistant
to Minnesota State Representative David Olin who represents my
district... I wondered why my e-mails have not been responded to.

It seems that Dennis Kerns who is in charge of the IT department
(Information Services) has installed a "spam filter" and programmed it
to filter out "unwanted e-mails." Such e-mails are e-mails that contain
"harsh" language. In other words... improperly "framed" e-mails.

When I asked for an example of what is meant by "harsh language" I was
told... "Well, let's put it this way; if you send an e-mail saying 'this
is a crappy day' our spam filter is going to catch that."

"Crappy" days are no longer allowed.

I figured there was a problem someplace when lots of people I was
talking to started telling me they were not getting responses from state
legislators who usually respond to their concerns.

Now, using the concept of "democracy" which does have something to do
with two way communication between legislators and constituents... how
do we "frame" what is taking place in the Cities?

I tried experiments today with several Minnesota legislators... I first
sent them my daily blog posting which covers the topic of health care...
none of the legislators were able to receive this e-mail.

Check out the disgraceful language I used:

I then sent an e-mail with just my name and address in the body of the
e-mail with the subject line "test, did you receive this?"

No problem... we were able to correspond in exchanging addresses and
phone numbers.

I then sent the e-mail with the same subject line but the body stated:
"End this dirty war in Iraq and use the funds to finance single-payer,
universal health care."

This message did not make it through the filters.

I then sent an e-mail which stated in the subject line: "Thank you." In
the body I wrote, "You are doing a superb job. Keep up the good work.
You have my vote."

This message made it through the spam filters installed by Dennis Kern
just fine.

So, if you have not received a response from your state legislator
recently you might want to call him/her.

You should also begin to study George Lakoff very thoroughly,
especially regarding learning how to "frame" your issues and the tenor
of your e-mails because first you must get by the "spam filter" that has
been programmed by Dennis Kern.

I was assured that my name has not been entered into the list of those
whose e-mails are being filtered out.

Please be kind in begging for your bones from Minnesota legislators or
you may have to speak more than once using a different method.

Does anyone want to take a shot at "framing" the word "democracy?"

Damn! I shouldn't have used the word "shot." I bet now this e-mail gets
filtered to the file that goes to the FBI and Homeland Security... as
for the "Damn," no doubt the e-mail will also go to a preacher that will
try to save me. I better learn to stop saying things like "this rotten
government is pissing away our hard earned tax-dollars on this dirty war
in Iraq instead of creating a world class single-payer, universal health
care system."

Mr. Kern doesn't like his telephone number given out, but what the
hell... here it is: 651-297-7502.

I don't suppose any of the legislators are receiving news of the
lynchings in Iraq? This would be way too gruesome for a system that won't
even permit a "crappy day."

Now that I know that Representative David Olin understands my concern
about single-payer, universal health care I can rest assured he will
find a way to "frame" his response properly so that it will pass the
"screening" test.

The moral of this story: Now you know why it is so hard to get a
straight answer from an elected official... they are trying to get by
the "spam filter."

Make the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights a living
reality for all people: End the war in Iraq, Universal Healthcare,
increase the minimum wage to a real living wage, defend and expand
Social Security, save the Big Bog;

Yours in the struggle,

Alan L. Maki
[Roseau County member of the state central committee, MN DFL]

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, MN 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432

Twenty-thousand Minnesotans go to work in smoke-filled casinos at
poverty wages without any rights under Minnesota or Federal labor laws.

Please check out my daily blog:


This is an e-mail I received from Nathan Hunstad who is in charge of the Minnesota DFL Caucus Information Technology Department regarding my e-mails not making it to my state Representative David Olin.

From: Nathan Hunstad
To: red_finn_minnesota_progressive@yahoo.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 7:23:29 AM
Subject: Re: [swan] Fwd: [Stumps] Lakoff on Truthout re Framing, Death, and Democracy, 20070116

This message made it through the spam filters just fine, despite the use
of the words "crappy", "hell", and so forth. I do not know exactly how
the spam filter works, but I would guess that it looks not only at the
words in the message, but the proportion of banned words to other words.
Thus, a message consisting only of profanities would not get through.


I have sent the following e-mail to members of the newsmedia

From: Alan Maki
To: members of the media;

The Legislative "Spam Filter" has been set by Dennis Kerns the head of the Minnesota Legislature's Information Technology Department so that Minnesota Legislators cannot receive many of my daily blog postings because of "content."

Please feel free to check out my daily blog postings to read what Minnesota legislators are being protected from:

Republican State Representative Tony Cornish initiated this "banning" of ideas.

This use of the Legislative "Spam Filter" to isolate our public officials from the views of concerned citizens is a very important question.

It is imperative that the line of communication remains open between legislators and constituents in Minnesotan with various concerns about many issues that affect their lives.

What is at stake is the democratic process itself. People have a right to participate in the decision making process; not simply being informed of the decisions that are made.

E-mail, and blogging, are now accepted component parts of the modern political process.

Politicians who do not wish to read nor understand the various points of view should look to more partisan political activity and not run for public office if they are so narrow-minded that they have to silence others in quest of their political goals and objectives.

Representative Tony Cornish has called me numerous names and is not capable of any kind of meaningful dialogue on issues relating to war and peace, the environment, the minimum wage, the rights of casino workers, and single-payer, universal health care. Now he has worked with Dennis Kerns to silence me and opponents of the corporate agenda.

How many legislators will now say they have not acted to promote single-payer, universal health care because they have not heard from their constituents; when in fact, their constituents' e-mail messages have been banned by way of "spam filters" being abused to subvert the democratic process.

Many of my daily blogs to my own state representative are not getting through the system "spam filter," how many other constituents are being blocked in the same manner? This is a legitimate question for all of us to be concerned about.

It is not a question of "if" this "spam filter" is operating in such a manner; Nathan Hunstad the DFL Caucus IT Administrator has acknowledged that in fact this "spam filter" operates in such a manner... and Dennis Kerns himself proudly admits responsibility for the operation of this "spam filter."

Certainly the words that I use are used by many other people on a daily basis; some of the words I use actually appear in many dictionaries.

Since much of what I write about is also addressed by many others... I think it is safe to assume that since both Dennis Kerns and Mr. Hunstad acknowledge that it is not my name, or the name of my blog, that is being blocked by the spam filters... that the e-mails from many others are not getting through to legislators, and perhaps even e-mails from legislators to their constituents are not making it through, either.

This is no small or inconsequential problem we are discussing. The media has a responsibility to investigate this matter of just what kind of "spam filter" is being used, and for what purposes; and the person, Mr. Dennis Kerns, who has been entrusted with the responsibility of programming this "spam filter" should be fired immediately. The House Ethics Committee should fully investigate Representative Tony Cornish's role in all of this.

Alan L. Maki

Please check out my daily blog:


I sent this e-mail to the following:

To: jragsdale@pioneerpress.com; jwelsh@pioneerpress.com; ncoleman@startribune.com; cdefiebre@startribune.com; sperry@citypages.com; nwatch@nwatch.com; rep.tony.cornish@house.mn

Cc: rep.david.olin@house.mn; rep.bernie.lieder@house.mn; rep.neva.walker@house.mn; rep.bill.hilty@house.mn; rep.brita.sailer@house.mn; rep.thomas.huntley@house.mn

I found out quite by accident that my e-mails to Minnesota State legislators are being banned by the "spam filter." If you have not received responses from state legislators to your e-mails, this may be your problem, also.