Benny's World

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thoughts about the Progressive Blogosphere Post JRE 2008

I have been watching the political blogsophere with keen interest for the past 4 years. I was completely new to blogging during the 2004 presidential campaign. One night while visiting California, I watched a debate between 9 Democratic contenders in Iowa a few days before the nation’s first caucus. I was torn between Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean as I thought both were for the working man and women. Dean’s anti-war message and better access to health care appealed to me, but I also had a soft spot for Gephardt, the union man’s champion. However, there was this one candidate, John Edwards, who was polished on the stump, and wasn’t afraid of taking on one of the great debaters, John Kerry. I thought Kerry was OK, but I was not happy that he and Lieberman had both ducked the final vote on the Medicare D bill, and I remember Edwards had stayed to vote no “on a bad bill.”

I wish I could remember what exactly Edwards said that night that captured my attention, but sadly I can’t. But it was his articulate delivery of his message, and Mr. Benny (who many know by now is a Republican) was struck by the same thing, and said, “Edwards is the most articulate out there, isn’t he?”

That was it. JRE was my candidate.

In the 4 years, I have been consumed by the passion of JRE’s message and his agenda for our country. Why in the hades anyone wanted the job of the presidency, was another story, but I figured if anyone could fix the problems, especially after all of the personal crises he and Elizabeth had been through, and helped so many others, he was the man to do it.

On a cold January 30th morning, 4 years later, the most progressive candidate suddenly suspended his candidacy. I was in shock, considering I had been on a conference call with Joe Trippi and Jonathan Prince two days before that, and they laid out their plans going into Super Tuesday. No, they didn’t expect JRE could win first place in the primaries, but he could garner enough delegates by taking 2nd place in states like Oklahoma and possibly Massachusetts. But I think JRE knew it was going to be next to impossible, with the media marginalizing his message. Despite winning most of the debates in the viewers’ and bloggers’ eyes, he didn’t have enough resources to win and he had already opted for public financing, which also dealt him some other unanticipated blows: Act Blue donations were not eligible for matching federal funds.

JRE got cornered. And if there’s anything that JRE knew about, it was when to walk away from a fight. Takes guts considered how many of us were working our hearts out for him and he didn’t want to let us down. But the truth of the matter was that issues didn’t matter: was the idea of forwarding a bi-racial or woman candidate by the Democratic Party. After all, we had fought for civil rights too long, and the wallets were open for them, but not for Edwards this time.

Read More!

Blogging and Blogs for JRE’s Message

I was in close contact with the Online Communications team as I was one of 5 stealth troll patrollers for the JEFP blog (actually OAC blog, then it morphed into the JEFP site). Admittedly, I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked as I was busy blogging or chasing diaries other places, mainly the Democratic Underground, the Daily Kos and MyDD, in which the two latter sites are part of the Hotline’s Blogometer of regular places they check and thus the national press did too. But I did clip my share of trolls and spam, especially around Xmas time when it was getting close to the Iowa Caucus.

During the first few days of February, I asked if there was a way to keep up the JEFP site, at least in a static sense, or donate it to Ibiblio.org. The team checked on the legal status, and the answer was no. During that time when the last post by Tracy Russo went up, tons of trolls came by. The troll patrol along with Joe Clarke, were clipping nasty messages right and left. Most of them were diaries or comments that said that JRE and EE were losers, and now it was time for us to join Clinton or Obama. I don’t have the blog to prove it, but my recollection is that it was mainly Obama supporters.

So, some of the regulars at JEFP scattered and formed their own groups after the Daily Kos became the Daily Obamakos, and MyDD became a Clinton site. The DU is probably more Obama also, but the criticisms lobbed at the Edwardses about not endorsing have been especially disturbing. They continue today, in which there is hardly a day I don’t see “Edwards needs to endorse or he won’t matter” or they criticize anything that is critical of Obama, especially in the health care agenda. Thus, these are the main community blogs I have seen that carry the progressive torch that John and Elizabeth handed off to us. I have them in my blogroll here at Benny’s World.

JREG

Since this is being cross-posted at JREG, I wanted to mention this one first. JREG is the Blogmother that picked up the ball and gave us a place for JRE supporters to go make their voices heard in 2004. Of all of the blogs, it is the most established and well organized. The administrative group is small, but nimble, and they fix problems very quickly. Xpanshun has made numerous improvements over time, switching software, and allowing videos and pictures to be posted. One uses code buttons to install links and emoticons, which saves a bit of typing. There is an opportunity to edit, which is great. The software is still more bulletin board style, and takes some getting used to, but I find it easy to navigate. I also liked it that they established rules of respect early on.

I like the private mail function too, something that not many blogs offer, except the DU, and at that, I think one has to be a donor to have that perk. I don’t offer it at my blog and another blog I am affiliated with doesn’t have that function either. A lot of it is because I don’t wish my e-mail addy to be broadcasted due to troll mails. I’ve known other bloggers who publish their e-mail addies, and I hear horror stories about the hate mail.

JREG focuses on issues, but they welcome any news about Democratic candidates, and as long as it is done respectfully, criticism of any politician is permitted. Membership is easy to obtain, and it’s nice that they have status, such as “senior member” and the number of posts, plus an anniversary date. JREG is commercial free and does not solicit donations.


John Edwards Movement Continues

JEMC’s blog is to JREG’s BB style format. Like most blogs, one can read the posts without being a member, but one has to sign up for membership in order to make a comment. I am not aware of their waiting period to make comments, but I did notice one can sign up as a guest and be online with them for a finite period of time, something I’ve not seen on other blogs.

The topics are very broad at JEMC and somewhat disorganized, but from observation, it seems to work for their community. But what is different compared to JREG and EENR (which I will get to in a moment) is they have no compunction to be critical of the other Democratic candidates’ and their supporters. I wonder how they keep the trolls out, but they must manage it somehow.

They would like to be the next semi-"One Corps" type community, whereby they think of action items they would like to pursue. Of all of the blog communities, this one is the most active as there are posts every day. This group is the newer generation of JRE supporters who were regulars on the JFEP blog and populated it with many diaries every day, even if the diaries weren’t much of substance (my only little criticism, and small one at that), but they cared about the people who blogged there and developed friendships, just as the JRE2004 and OAC’ers bloggers did. I commend them for working on action items directly and they are seeking to get an audience of some sort in Denver to talk about media and election reforms. This group has a good chance to survive, just as JREG has.

JEMC is commercial free, but it openly solicits donations via Pay Pal.

Edwardians Meeting Place

This group grew out of the DU (and to a certain extent, the Daily Kos) and formed shortly after JRE suspended his campaign. The DU is no longer very hospitable to JRE supporters, not even in the JRE forum as recently a thread was locked because of the bickering that went on about John Kerry and the Kerry Crats, who have no other place to hang out, carry weight at the DU. Like the Daily Kos, the DU got Obama fever, with Clinton supporters getting in a comment now and then. Two America’s got PB software that was identical to the first JREG 1.0 and set it up. There were some administrators and they were trying to organize it. However, within a few weeks, the admins group sort of imploded, and now it is just out there for the next couple of months. The blog is likely not to continue in the future, but I give them credit for trying. My observation is that most of them want to be back at the DU and will continue at the DU once a nominee is determined.

EENR Blog

The EENR brand was born in a year ago on the Daily Kos. It was a way to get the news out about the Edwardses since the media was already marginalizing the campaign. It had a strong following as many appreciated the positive message it sent about Edwards. Other groups soon followed suit.

When JRE suspended the campaign, the group temporarily disbanded as practically, Edwards was no longer going to be in the news everyday. The group re-emerged as the Edwards Evolution Next Revolution) and it posted on Sunday nights. However, too many Obama supporters trashed the diaries and after a certain point, it could not make it very easily on the recommended list. The group decided that it wanted to continue focusing on the issues.

The EENR group (Edwards Evolution Next Revolution) in late February launched a blog using Soapblox, the same software that many state blogs and Open Left use. Its functionality is not quite as powerful as JREG’s whereby you have to know most of the code, except Bold, Italic, Quote, Preview, and Save. There’s also capability to delete the diary without time limits. Front page diaries are changed during the day about every 2-3 hours, and at night, there is a late night open thread. The Front Page diaries are written by editors, but many of them are readers’ diaries that are promoted, similar to what they do at Open Left and MyDD.

In terms of content, the site is organized in 12 categories: health, international issues, national securities, candidates & causes, JRE news, progressive news, poverty, education, and the environment. Rants & Raves are for fun items, such as travel, humor, and sometimes a rant. The strength of the site is the draw of Congressional candidates who would like to be endorsed and links to their donation pages. EENR has done two live blogs so far with Charlie Brown of CA and Jerry Northington of DEL. However, the guidelines are clear that bloggers are discouraged in penning diaries that attack the two remaining candidates unless they are framed in criticizing their issues and not their supporters. EENR has to had ban a few folks because of repeated sexist and racist comments about the candidates or ones that invite pie fights.

EENR blog is commercial free and doesn’t solicit donations at this time.

Edwards Google Group (not on my blogroll)

NcDem Amy and Nannyboz set up the Edwards Google Group, a listserv. Although it is not a blog, it is a way to get news about Edwards. However, it also sends alerts to request swarming of diaries at the Daily Kos to try to get diaries on the recommend list. And if one wishes to vent about the two remaining candidates and their supporters the listserv is also an avenue. But it is not a substitute for a blog.


Blog Traffic is Low on JRE Sites? Why?

JRote posed a very interesting question yesterday at JREG entitled, “Where O Where” and had this for her opening paragraph:

have all the bloggers gone? We used to have so many conversations here and I want it back. I know there are lots of blogs out there, but JREG is tried and true and one of the best.


My observations are for Jackie’s and anyone else’s benefit in particular as I read her note intently. If I read her post correctly, she wondered out loud why more people weren’t back at JREG as it happened before in 2004. She is aware that EE is considering creating her own blog or having one that reunites One Corps. But most of all, she misses the community and the spirit of JEFP blog and is not comfortable with going to other places. She was also slightly off about EENR and how often the editors post or promote a community reader’s diary, but when she was one of EENR’s beta testers, there were front page topics very often, and it was only during the beta test period.

During the month of March, lot of people signed up at EENR, very parallel to JREG back in 2004. But EENR newbies were mainly refugees from the Daily Kos who were fatigued with the lack of issues and were tired of the worship sermons of Obama’s candidacy. But if you look at the amount of posts, there aren’t that many each day. The site is getting plenty of eyeballs, but personally, I think most bloggers are kind of tired of the primary season. They read, but the topics may not be of interest to them, or if they are like me, sometimes I’m not an expert on a topic, so I don’t comment. I also think they miss the adrenalin rush of the Daily Kos, whereby you would get a diary up and there was something thrilling about getting a diary on the rec’d list because Kos has over 150,000 readers.

But I would suggest to Jackie and others, it is tribal as to why the JRE traffic sites are low. I’ve described the groups and their migration patterns. Until a couple of weeks ago, the news about JRE was quiet and thus, a JEFP couldn't continue.

I suspect things will calm down at the Kos, the DU, and MyDD, whereby their long time community refugees will return and there may be some interested in downticket races. For Jackie, as she is not clearly interested in downticket races this year, my guess JREG is probably her best bet, with JEMC a close second.

Time will tell with Elizabeth and what she does about blogging. She would have to have a staff person to design the site and keep the trolls out, not to mention the legal implications, which again, why JFEP was not feasible in the long term. Going to the Center for American Progress is an excellent venue for her.

JREG, JEMC, and EENR will have some core supporters. But I don’t expect big amounts of bloggers at any of them unless there is a party rift. Then who knows.

Benny











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3 Comments:

  • test

    By Blogger helene, at 7:44 AM  

  • Benny,
    Sorry I had to test my username and password. Here's what I really want to say: you're the only place I found (and thank the gods I found you) for true blue JRE supporters to gather to talk about our guy and commiserate on the idiocy of the primary voters and/or the corrupt media. JRE would never in a million years have made the remark Obama did about rural voters. Obama wasn't ready, should've been JRE's running mate, and may lose the entire election for us (with the Clinton's help). I like you was rigid with shock and grief when the Edwards gave up. Every day shows how right we were.

    By Blogger helene, at 7:47 AM  

  • Welcome Helene,
    This post has received some mixed reactions, mainly negative via e-mail because they felt it was a downer. I was trying to give bloggers some information on community blogs which still tout the Edwardses' progressive ideas, but also to respond to one blogger's comment that she didn't understand why more people didn't hang out more at a particular community--or for that matter, all of the JRE inspired communities. I still think people go to the dances with the folks they know than venture out; kind of tribal thing. In her case, it is my sincere belief that she started out with a particular group and became well known there. She's beloved at that community and deserves a lot of credit, as she once got an autograph from Elizabeth (for me and for herself) and suffered a terrible fall. We all worried about her for long time and send her notes, etc. She still found the time to send me the autographed book, even as she was recovering at home.

    But where I differ from that person has to do with one thing Elizabeth said that she appreciated about my volunteer efforts was I was willing to venture places where I didn't know anyone, and sometimes in murky waters, mainly to debunk lies or mistruths about John Edwards' fight for the working poor and the middle classes. I took up for bloggers who were savaged because of their support for John and Elizabeth Edwards. And I will always do that, as long as John and Elizabeth continue to press the progressive agenda, and any news I find, I will share here and at EENR.

    And this blog is definitely dedicated to their vision of One America because I share it. Sounds like you do too.

    Pax, and come back to visit when you can.

    By Blogger benny06, at 1:24 PM  

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