Liberal activists flock to new website to organize on Twitter

Though some liberal bloggers recently admitted that conservatives have used Twitter more effectively than them as an organizing tool, a new website has popped up that may help liberal activists online to take a greater foothold on the microblogging site.

The site, called TweetProgress, bills itself as "the directory of progressives" on Twitter. It intends to allow liberal activists to share projects and thoughts on the social networking site. So far, 1,280 people have added their account to the directory, and that number increases by the minute.

"We want to help progressives find each other on Twitter and coalesce around progressive issues and actions," TweetProgress co-founder Tracy Viselli told The Hill. "There is a huge pool of progressives out there doing very cool stuff already on Twitter, but not everyone knows about what they are doing. We hope to use TweetProgress to do that."

The site went live just in the last couple days--against the intentions of Viselli and the site's co-founders.

"Overnight we got 1,100 new people joining the directory--before the site was even live," she said. "There are worse things than having the site go viral before we were ready."

"There is as much interest out there or building the progressive infrastructure as we hoped when conceptualizing the site," she added.

The creation of the site from planning to launch happened over the course of just three weeks.

Viselli said that the concept for the TweetProgress was originally to promote a hashtag, an abbreviation that marks a topic on Twitter, for liberal tweeters.

TweetProgress co-founder Jon Pincus and Viselli created the hashtag #p2 (progressives 2.0), but Viselli said that it did not catch on widely enough on Twitter, especially compared to the conservative hashtag #TCOT (top conservatives on Twitter).

She said another progressive online activist Jim Gilliam contacted the duo to suggest constructing a directory site that would allow liberal activists to organize.

The creation of TweetProgress underscores the increasingly integral role Twitter plays in political activism and the differing approaches liberals and conservatives take in using the medium.

High-profile Democratic entities such as the White House and the DNC(@BarackObama) reach over one million Twitter followers, but many more conservatives use #TCOT than liberals use #p2.

"It's funny that the tables have turned," Republican new media consultant David All told The Hill, noting that liberals had dominated conservatives in their use of political blogs long before conservatives took to Twitter.

All recognized that TweetProgrss would help "progressives brand their hashtag" and serve as means to unite liberals around #p2.

"They see how well we are using [Twitter]," he added.

But liberals want to stand apart from conservatives on Twitter. Whereas #TCOT has a website that ranks tweeting conservatives under the categories "most followers," "most interesting," and "most follows," TweetProgess aims to help liberals share issues and actions.

"I think we've always seen ourselves as different from conservatives on Twitter," Viselli said. "First, TweetProgress is not built around there being an elite like [#]TCOT is. We want everyone to join the progressive fold and help us get our message across."

All said that the competitiveness of the #TCOT concept is "what drives conservatives to participate."

In that spirit, All said that the two sides are engaging in "sort of an arms race" on Twitter, trying to outfox one another in effective ways to reach the most people.

TweetProgress' launch will "help inspire our team to get involved even more," All said.

"We are tired of getting beat. This isn't a game to conservatives," he added.

Cross-posted to the Twitter Room

Suspicious package leads to Longworth evacuation

The Longworth House Office Building was evacuated on Wednesday afternoon because the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Hazardous Devices unit was inspecting a suspicious package, according to Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for Capitol Police.

Capitol Police evacuated the building and relocated Members, staff and visitors to the Cannon House Office Building after initial tests on the package by the Hazardous Devices unit were "inconclusive."

"Virginia State Police will assist USCP in safely transporting device to Quantico to render safe."

-Jordy Yager

Ambassador returns to Venezuela to resume ties

The State Department announced today that Ambassador Patrick Duddy will return to Venezuela after President Hugo Chavez expelled U.S. diplomatic staff last fall. DipNote, the State Department's official Twitter, tweeted:
Briefing Notes: Amb Patrick Duddy returned to Caracas to advance more open, direct, productive communications between the U.S., Venezuela.

Last Thursday, the State Department announced that it would send Duddy to Caracas.

Duddy's return may be a hot-button issues amongst liberals and conservatives. Last September Chavez threw out U.S. diplomatic staff accusing the U.S. of disrespecting Latin America. In return then-President Bush expelled the Venezuelan ambassador from Washington.

But when President Obama attended the Summit of the Americas in April, Chavez made overtures to him that raised some eyebrows. Chavez handed Obama a copy of his book, which criticizes American intervention in Latin America, and shook his hand.

Republicans highlighted the exchange as an example of Obama's weakness in foreign policy, while Democrats downplayed it. Will this action garner as much press coverage as 'the handshake' did? Or will its coincidence with the Fourth of July weekend put it out of focus?

Cross posted to Twitter Room

Sanford thought about resigning

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) thought about resigning but decided to remain in office to restore the public's trust in him, the South Carolina governor told the Associated Press today.

"Resigning would be the easiest thing to do," Sanford said.

Sanford gave the interview from his home on Sullivans Island, where he is staying with his wife and children as he attempts to repair his marriage.

More from the AP:
When it comes to his critics--most notably state Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia--and their calls for him to step down, Sanford said he understands where they are coming from.

"I don't begrudge the Jakie Knottses of the world," Sanford said. "He's going to do what he's going to do. I gotta do my part."

As far as his wife, Sanford said they are working on their relationship.

"If there wasn't healing going on, I wouldn't be here," he said, pointing to his beach house, where he had dinner with his family Saturday night and where he took a run at sunrise on the sand with one of his sons.

Wife discovered affair from letter; Gov. asked to see mistress

Jenny Sanford discovered her husband's affair after stumbling across a letter he had written to his mistress, the first lady said in an AP interview on Friday.

She was "shocked and obviously deeply hurt. I didn't think he had it in him," Mrs. Sanford said. "It's hard to find out your husband is not who you thought he was."

Jenny Sanford also said her husband asked permission to visit his mistress in the months after the affair came to light.

"I said absolutely not. It's one thing to forgive adultery; it's another thing to condone it," Sanford said.

And regarding the Governor's strange disappearance:
"He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her," Jenny Sanford said in a strong, steady voice as she sat in her oceanfront living room Friday. "I was hoping he was on the Appalachian Trail. But I was not worried about his safety. I was hoping he was doing some real soul searching somewhere and devastated to find out it was Argentina. It's tragic."

Read the whole thing here.

Palin-Kerry smackdown!

Yesterday, John Kerry made a somewhat bungled joke about the Mark Sanford affair:
"Too bad," Kerry said, "if a governor had to go missing it couldn't have been the governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin."

Well, Sarah Palin has responded in kind. Speaking to troops at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo today, Palin took a shot at Kerry's visage:
"Senator John Kerry makes this joke, I don't know if you saw this, but he makes this joke saying, 'Shoot of all the governors in the nation who disappeared, too bad it couldn't have been that governor from Alaska.'

But the way he said it, he looked quite frustrated, and he looked so sad, and I just wanted to reach out to the TV and say, John Kerry, why the long face?"


The remarks come during the last 20 seconds or so of this video:

Shocking Poll: Affairs considered immoral

OK, not really shocking, but Gallup sure picked a good day to re-release a poll testing the perceived morality of various "taboos."

Turns out 92% of Americans consider extramarital affairs to be morally unacceptable. If anything, that number must be a little higher in conservative South Carolina.

In fact, cheating is considered the MOST morally wrong of all the taboos included in the poll, topping (if that's the word) suicide, abortion, polygamy and human cloning.

Opinions about the morality of affairs remain virtually unchanged since 2001. The percentage of respondents calling infidelity "morally wrong" has remained between 87% and 93% over the last eight years.

Sanford, wife were on 'trial separation' during trip

Mark Sanford's wife did not know his whereabouts during his trip to Argentina because the couple was in the midst of a "trial separation," South Carolina's first lady said in a statement this afternoon.

Jenny Sanford's revelation comes after a dramatic news conference in which Sanford emotionally admitted to an affair with an Argentinian woman.

The Governor said this afternoon that his wife became aware of the affair five months ago and that they were in the process of trying to repair their marriage. But Ms. Sanford's statement suggests things hit a low point recently.

"We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago," Mrs. Sanford said. She added: "Because of this separation, I did not know where he was in the past week."

Sanford reportedly left South Carolina for Argentina last Thursday, approximately one week after his wife and he agreed to separate.

Jenny Sanford said the separation was intended to help repair the marriage, and that it is still her hopes that their relationship can be saved.

"I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage," Mrs. Sanford said.

Read the full statement after the jump.


More strange details on Argentina

The latest version of Mark Sanford's excellent adventure is that he was driving along the coastline in Argentina to clear his head after a tough legislative session.

But a few more strange details are emerging. For example, ABC reports that Sanford did not notify anyone in the U.S. Embassy about his trip:
ABC's Joe Goldman reports that a US embassy official in Buenos Aires tells him that the embassy had "absolutely no idea" that Sanford was in Argentina. The embassy official added that this comes "from out of left field--it would be extremely odd that a US governor would not check in with the embassy."

Meanwhile, The State updates its original story with this great tidbit:
Trying to drive along the coast could frustrate a weekend visitor to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the Avenida Costanera is the only coastal road, and it's less than two miles long. Reaching coastal resorts to the south requires a drive of nearly four hours on an inland highway with views of endless cattle ranches. To the north is a river delta of islands reached only by boat.

So Sanford spent four or five days driving a 2 mile strip of highway?

The 2pm press conference should

White House keeps visitor logs secret, as Bush did

The Obama administration is denying requests to make public the White House visitor logs, adopting a Bush administration policy and drawing the ire of ethics watchdogs.

Both and the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have been denied access to the logs, which would reveal who met with various White House officials. CREW is filing a lawsuit this afternoon to seek access to the documents.

"The Obama administration has now taken exactly the same position as the Bush administration, telling us the visitor logs are presidential records," Anne Weismann, the legal counsel for CREW, told the Washington Post. "I don't see how you can keep people from knowing who visits the White House and adhere to a policy of openness and transparency. The discrepancy between the rhetoric and the policy is especially great."

A federal judge rejected the Bush administration's plea to keep the documents secret, and it's unclear what has changed this time around.

Asked about the controversy today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs defended the secretive policy.

"The policy, as you know, and I think many of you know...visitor logs have been involved in some litigation dating back to sometime in 2006," Gibbs said at his daily briefing. "The White House is reviewing that policy based on some of that litigation."