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 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.


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.


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.


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Were the American Idol Fans Thinking?

By sending home Michael Johns tonight:

Great rendition of an Aerosmith classic.

Rock on, Michael. I had a funny feeling you were going home, but still, I hoped.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

Billy Joel, love that man. My fav by him, always.

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Elizabeth Edwards Punches the 4th Estate

Rightfully so..


She is the first lady of the 5th estate.

Good report of the Harvard event is at the NYT blog. (no, it's not important enough to make the paper).

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MSM and Kos Are Overlooking Important Issues in Lieu of Personalities & $$

On Sunday, EENR blogger Edgery wrote about the Vets and how our country isn't doing its job to look after them and their families once they get back. John Edwards had a plan in taking more steps to ensure they and their families receive the care they need, and the plan was the centerpiece of Edgery's post. When this diary was posted at the Daily Kos, it was received in a lukewarm fashion or considered disingenuous. Thus, when David Mizner wrote about Kos, I empathized with him and that's why I posted his comments from HuffPo yesterday.

Apparently, John Edwards wasn't through speaking out for the vets. In a letter to the Editor at the NYT (which also isn't as focused on the issues between the remaining candidates at the moment), he penned:

In “For Wounded Veterans and Their Families, a Journey Without Maps” (Editorial Observer, March 24), Lawrence Downes missed an important opportunity to explain why both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are unprepared to care for the service members who have been hurt in the Iraq war.

The reason is that the frequently reported number of the wounded in action (29,320 as of March 1) does not include everyone who’s been hurt.

The complete number of nonfatal casualties in Iraq is 60,645. Most assume the wounded number includes all, but it does not. It leaves out another 8,273 injured and 23,052 who became ill and required medical air transport from the war zone. The Department of Defense releases two reports: one with the weekly numbers of those wounded and killed, and then another monthly report with the complete numbers. After five years, it is time for respected news organizations to use the complete number.

The public needs this information so that we can better prepare for the care of all of our veterans from this war and others. The struggle for them and their families your article addressed is happening all across this country. Nearly 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have already sought care from the V.A.

The system is broken. That is why so many veterans are still fighting for the care they earned. That is why their families struggle with paperwork and months of delay. And that is why 154,000 veterans sleep on grates or under bridges every night.

We have tens of thousands set to come home, and we aren’t prepared. Every day we should honor the more than 4,000 lives lost: every suicide, bullet or serious accident.

And every day we should honor those who have been hurt. That number is 60,645 and rising.

John Edwards
Chapel Hill, N.C., March 31, 2008

John's letter proves my point about Daily Kos or MSM: it took over a week to get this printed. Obviously, they aren't taking the situation very seriously.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

ACLU: Patenting Abstract Ideas Violates The Constitution

TomP, an excellent blogger and lawyer, penned this important piece at the Daily Kos and at Docudharma. As a business librarian and one who speaks for more information out in the open, this issue is a concern for for libraries as well as information brokers, bloggers, writers, and for small companies who are still in R & D phases. It's not to say that we should plagiarize, but this is a completely different issue.

With TomP's permission, I am reposting this here because the unitary powers our current Administration believes it has (and so anti-small business). Thank goodness for the ACLU.


The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend of the court brief today urging a federal court to uphold the denial of a patent that would, if awarded, violate freedom of speech. In the brief, the ACLU argues that Bernard L. Bilski is seeking a patent for an abstract idea, and that abstract ideas are not patentable under the First Amendment.

"The court must ensure that any test it uses in determining whether to award a patent is in line with the Constitution," said Christopher Hansen, senior staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group, who filed the brief. "If the government had the authority to grant exclusive rights to an idea, the fundamental purpose of the First Amendment - to protect an individual's right to thought and expression - would be rendered meaningless."


Privatizing damn near everything has long been the goal of the 1%ers and their lackeys in the Republican Party.

More from the ACLU on this:

In 2006, Bilski sought a patent for his idea that the weather risk involved in buying and selling commodities could be minimized if sellers had conversations with two buyers instead of one. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied his request and the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences affirmed the denial. Bilski appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the court has agreed to hear the case in a single joint session in May.

"Patent law prohibits the patenting of abstract ideas, but recently the courts and the patent office have been granting patents that consist essentially of speech or thought," said Hansen. "If the government continues to allow patents of speech or thought it risks violating the First Amendment.

"No one can have a monopoly on an idea or prohibit speech on a particular subject."


Link to the brief is here.

Because the patent at issue consists soley of speech or thought, the ACLU argues that it cannot be granted without violating the First Amendment.

We have seen how the privatizing regime has distorted patent law to the point that life, itself, is patentable:

You can't patent snow, eagles or gravity, and you shouldn't be able to patent genes, either. Yet by now one-fifth of the genes in your body are privately owned.

The results have been disastrous. Ordinarily, we imagine patents promote innovation, but that's because most patents are granted for human inventions. Genes aren't human inventions, they are features of the natural world. As a result these patents can be used to block innovation, and hurt patient care.

NYTimes: Patenting Life

A dangerous wave of privatisation of all biological diversity is presently taking place under the label of 'intellectual property rights', i.e. patenting of plants, animals and individual parts of DNA.


Patenting allows industry to take control of and exploit organisms and genetic material as exclusive private property that can be sold to or withheld from farmers, breeders, scientists and doctors. "Technology agreements" and fees on seeds deprive farmers of their generations-old right to replant and exchange their seeds. Vast, unsubstantiated patent claims on DNA deter scientists from research in areas that have already been "claimed" by big companies with large legal budgets. Patents on life create Bio-Piracy and a new form of colonialism: In the South, where most global food crops originate from, freely available seeds and specimens are analysed by genetic engineering companies and then patented to be sold back at high prices to those, who originally maintained and developed these varieties over generations.

Greenpeace opposes all patents on genes, plants, humans and parts of the human body and regards the biodiversity of this planet the common heritage of humankind.

Greenpeace: Patenting Life

Progress marches on. Life itself. Abstract ideas. Stop thinking: someone else owns that idea.

I'm glad the ACLU is fighting this.


And so is TomP and we will too.

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David Mizner Nails It about the Daily Kos

Not Worth the Paper it's Not Printed On

Last year, Markos Moulitsas remained defiantly neutral in the presidential primary. It was a mistake, I felt -- a blown chance for the most influential progressive blogger to help shape the race. I thought John Edwards was the best choice for progressives but realized that strong cases could be made for other candidates. Kos, however, coudn't pick a favorite and, to his credit, articulated his reasoning. He alternately bashed and praised the candidates, reserving the harshest and most persistent criticism for Barack Obama. After Edwards had opted to publicly finance his campaign, Kos said he planned to vote for Obama but retracted his support once he'd determined that Obama was "running to the right of his opponents."

Now, though, Kos is relentlessly pro-Obama and anti-Hillary, to the point where he offers no criticism of him and make serious, unsupported charges against her.

What happened?

Read the rest here...

It appears the DU has turned into the same thing, but at least the admins have been staying mum about whom they support.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards Joins Center for American Progress

Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) remains on the political sidelines but that isn't stopping his wife, Elizabeth, from rejoining the fray as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Elizabeth Edwards will be dealing with health care issues at the progressive think tank founded by John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. In her new role, Edwards, who has gained a considerable following in the liberal blogosphere thanks to her willingness to vocally oppose conservative politicos from Sen. John McCain to commentator Ann Coulter, will also be contributing to CAP's blog.

"As many can attest, I have an opinion on everything," Edwards said tonight about her new role. "But I am particularly concerned about the state of health care in America and I am grateful to CAP for giving me the chance to continue to advocate for universal and quality health care coverage for all."

Podesta, for his part, praised Elizabeth Edwards as one of the "most effective, tenacious, and caring spokespeople for progressive policies in the country."

There's more...

It turns out the source is Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post.

I will say, the Center of American Progress did little to help John Edwards and his agenda during the campaign, but maybe it has voters' remorse and this is one way to push the progressive agenda. Knowing EE, she wouldn't want me to complain. She would tell me to get back to work. :-)

I will be looking for the NPR clip as I heard she was on the program this morning.

Update: here's the NPR clip.

More buzz l8tr...

Update: she's supposed to blog on their Wonk Room. Can't find it but I expect it will show up at some point.

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