Sharing Your Opinions

Sharing Your Opinions

In This Chapter:

  • Vent Your Spleen in CompuServe Forums
  • Discuss politics and other controversial issues
  • Explore Controversial content on the internet
  • Communicate with the Whit House and the rest of the Federal government.

When You want to share your opinions with people that count, CompuServe is the place to go!…….

if you think of CompuServe as a typical American town, you would expect to be able to walk right up to the town’s courthouse and talk with your elected officials. Well, believe it or not, you can do that with CompuServe; you can even talk directly to the White House! But if that’s too intimidating for you, feel free to vent in the lively debates that take place in some of CompuServe’s issues-oriented forums.

Sharing Your Opinions

Argue the issues in CompuServe forums

While most CompuServe forums inspire much debate (often over trivial issues), the bulk of the issue-oriented discourse takes place in a handful of hot forums. Check out the forums listed here if you want a look at the hottest of the hot.

  • Issues Forum (GO ISSUESFORUM)
  • (includes a special Rush Limbaugh section)
  • Global Crisis Forum (GO CRISIS) Political Debate Forum (GO POLITICS) Republican Forum (GO REPUBLICAN) Democratic Forum (GO DEMOCRAT) Religion Forum (GO RELIGION)
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation Forum (GO EFFSIG) (focuses on electronic freedom of speech issues)
  • Entertainment Drive Forum (GO EFORUM) CNN Forum (GO CNNFORUM)

Issues on the Net

CompuServe discussions look downright genteel compared to the free-for-alls you find in that wild and woolly West we call the Internet. Some of the best (i.e. the loudest and most vicious) discussions take place in USENET newsgroups. Crank up your CompuServe newsreader (GO USENET) and take a look at these groups:

  • alt.fan.rush-limbaugh, alt.flame.rush-limbaugh, and alt.rush­limbaugh: Three groups that generate some of the heaviest message traffic on all of USENET.
  • alt.philosophy.debate: A good place to discuss philosophical issues.
  • alt.politics.*: A collection of newsgroups covering Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and all the degrees in-between.
  • alt.religion.*: Dozens of newsgroups discussing all of the major religions—and some of the minor ones.
  • soc.religion.*: More newsgroups discussing religious issues.
  • talk.*: Hundreds of newsgroups discussing philosophy, politics, religion, abortion, the environment, and other controversial issues (a good place to start if you want to stir things up a bit).

Mr. CompuServer goes to Washington

Do you have an opinion you’d like to share with your representatives in Washington?

Well, all you have to do is turn on your PC (and that doesn’t stand for politically correct, buster!). By connecting to CompuServe, you can forge an electronic link with those government bozos you’re always complaining about.
Speaking your mind on the White House forum
When you GO WHITEHOUSE, you’re taken to the White House forum. This forum is broken down into sections based on such topics as Defense, Health Care, Economy, Environment, Commerce, and Social Security.

TIP

You should feel free to speak your mind in the White House forum. Even though the White House monitors the discussions to keep track of the pulse of the American public, it’s unlikely you will have to worry about the FBI preparing a file on everyone who leaves a message in the forum!

Searching for important documents in the library

No, you won’t find the Watergate papers in the White House forum’s libraries, but you will find other official documents. In fact, the libraries on this forum are loaded with official documents. (All files in the library come directly from the White House; no other uploading is permitted.)

What sorts of files are they? Just about every official announcement that comes from the President or Vice President ends up in these libraries. You’ll find radio addresses, official statements, briefings, speeches, and letters. All of these files are available for your reading pleasure—either online or at a later date when you decide to download.

Sending mail to the White House

We all know that the President doesn’t spend his entire day reading all the messages in CompuServe’s White House forum. So addressing a message to him on the forum might just be a waste of time. (Although members of the White House staff do supposedly review and respond to forum messages when appropriate.)

There is, however, a way to send e-mail directly to the President or Vice President of the United States. GO PRESMAIL, and you will be presented with the opportunity to send a letter directly to the White House.

TIP

You can also send a standard e-mail to the President at the address [email protected]
Sharing Your Opinions

All e-mail sent via CompuServe to the White House must follow a standard format. So when you initiate your message, you’ll be presented with the White House Mail window shown in Fig. 19.1. Select the recipient of your mail (the Prez or the VP) and your reason for writing. Then enter your real name and address and click the Create button.

Next you need to identify your topic and the guise under which you’re writing (whether you’re writing as a Business Person, a Student, or a Working Person, for example). You will need to enter the subject of your letter and the organization you’re associated with (if necessary).

Sharing Your Opinions

Finally, you enter the text of your message, which can be no more than 40 lines long. When you’re done, click Send Now, and it’s off to the White House with your opinions and advice.

Sending U.S. Mail letters to Washington

When e-mail isn’t enough, you can also use CompuServe to send U.S. Mail letters to the President, Vice President, and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. This service costs $1.00 per message.

To send what CompuServe calls a CONGRESSGram, GO GRAMS and select which branch of government you’re writing (White House, Senate, or House of Representatives). You’ll be asked for the recipient’s name and title (Sena­tor or Representative), and then you can start typing your message. (You can write up to 88 lines with 69 characters each.) When you’re done, CompuServe automatically prints out the letter and arranges for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver it.

Accessing the government via the Internet

There are lots of ways to access the government via the Internet. Begin by tracking the following newsgroups (GO USENET):

  • alt.politics.*: Where dozens of groups let everyone voice their opinons about current political events.
  • clari.news.gov.*: Contains a large amount of official government news in various groups.
  • soc.politics: A single group that focuses on political issues.

After you’re done there, it’s time to head to the World Wide Web. Many government and political organizations—including the White House—have Web sites. Look at this representative list (no pun intended):

  • AllPolitics (httpi/allpolitics.com/): A great political information site that’s jointly run by CNN and TIME (see Fig. 19.2).
Sharing Your Opinions
  • America Vote’s National Town Hall (http://www.americavote.com/ vote): A means by which you can send Washington your opinions on issues of the day. The site also provides information on Congressional bills and other related issues.
  • American Voter ’96 (http://voter96.cqalert.com/): A good site for discussion on the 1996 election.
  • CapWeb (http://policy.net/capweb/): An “unauthorized”—but comprehensive—guide to the U.S. Congress, with lots of contact information.
  • CBS Campaign ’96 (http://www.cbsnews.com/campaign96/): CBS News’ official Web site covering the fall elections.
  • Contacting Congress (httpi/astl.spa.umn.edu/juan/congress.html): An independent site at the University of Minnesota that lists contact information for each Congressperson.
  • Electronic Democracy Forum (http://edf.www.media.mit.edu/): Where you can read and discuss Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.
  • IRS Online (http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/prod/): A good source for tax information and forms you can download.
  • Library of Congress: Federal Government Page (http://lcweb.loc.gov/ global/legislative/congress.html): Has lots of links to other govern­ment and political pages.
  • Political Activism Resources (http://kimsoft.com/kimpol.htm): A page full of political information and links, from Korea (of all places).
  • Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet (http:// thomas.loc.gov/): In the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, this server provides the full text of current House and Senate legislation.
  • U.S. House of Representatives (httpi/www.house.gov/): Where you’ll find your congressperson online.
  • U.S. Senate (http://vvww.senate.gov:70/): A Gopher server for the Senate.
  • WebActive (http://wwvv.webactive.com/): A great site for Web-based political activism.
  • White House (http://wwvv.whitehouse.gov/): The official Web site of the President. (This page includes a tour of the White House and sound bites from Socks the cat.)
  • Yahoo’s List of Government Resources (http://vvvvw.yahoo.com/ Government/): The master list of government-related Net resources.
  • Yahoo’s List of Politics (http://vvvvw.yahoo.com/Politics/): A good place to start if you desire controversy.
  • Yahoo’s List of Society and Culture (http://vvvvw.yahoo.com/ Society_and_Culture/): Another good place to look for controversial topics.

I think it’s kind of neat how CompuServe, the Internet, and e-mail make it easy to communicate with the leaders of our government. The information superhighway truly is helping to bring democracy back to the people!

Sharing Your Opinions