Blog Talk Radio (1/31): "The War to End the War"
by lowkell, Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 09:14:38 AM EST
For those of you who don't know, I'm Lowell Feld, former netroots coordinator on the Jim Webb for Senate campaign. Among other things, I'm now working with "Heading Left", an exciting new project by James Boyce of the Huffington Post, Nate Wilcox of Forward Together, and several others. My job, which I have (wisely?) chosen to accept, is to help spread the word about both "Heading Left" and also the way-cool "Blog Talk Radio". Anyway, I just wanted to highlight a great show that aired last night on Blog Talk Radio, "The War To End The War. Hear How Iraq War Vets And The Online Community Are Fighting Together."
To listen to the show in its entirety, please click here. Thanks, and enjoy!
James Boyce introduced the show, talking about "Heading Left." Boyce described Heading Left as "advocates of the Progressive community online," and stated his goal of supporting them, bringing them more into the party. According to Boyce, the concept of Heading Left is to be an "aggregative progressive community online," launching March 1.
Nate Wilcox described the aggregator is a "Digg" for politics. There will be a board of editors that will filter the blogosphere for recommended stories (something what like what Netscape does for its news). There also will be reader input so there will be a democratic element - people recommending the stories they find the most interesting. According to Nate, it "should be pretty hot, it's very Web 2.0!"
Boyce talked about blog talk radio being "remarkable" in that it's "going to give the blogs and the bloggers a voice." Anyone can have a show and it's very simple. Just sign up, join the conversation...it's truly remarkable.
Boyce discussed the rapidly changing communications and media world, including a story breaking yesterday that the New York Times Company just wrote down the value of the Boston Globe by $817 million. What's amazing is how fast technology is changing the media world, how the barriers are coming down for regular people, how the blogs are turning the entire country into citizen journalists... Today, everyone can write something on the internet. If you're good, you get read. If not, you go away. This is the ultimate Democracy in journalism. Nobody reads or listens to you if you're not interesting.
Nate ran through the top blog posts of January 31, such as Markos laying into Joe Biden; Matthew Yglesias on how Frank Luntz, the infamous Republican pollster, long ago "focus grouped" the term "Democrat Party" as a slur; and Marcy Wheeler's tremendous job live blogging the Libby trial. Boyce enthused about how great it is that on the blogs, you can get a former federal prosecutor like Marcy Wheeler explaining the legal situation and dynamics of an important case.
The discussion then shifted to the main topic of the evening, "How the netroots can work with the veterans groups to stop this escalation." Guests were Jon Soltz of VoteVets, Jonathan Powers the founder of War Kids Relief and Steve Gilliard of the News Blog. I'll just provide a few highlights here, but it's a fascinating discussion and you should definitely check it out if you have time!
*Jon Soltz discussed the launch of Vote Vets, its support for veterans like Wes Clark, Jack Murtha and Jim Webb as candidates, its "body armor" ad. Soltz said that today, "the stories are really coming from online" and not necessarily the mainstream outlets.
*The last line of the new Vote Vets ad really sums up the situation: "If you support the escalation, you don't support the troops." How does supporting the troops mean leaving them in Iraq?
*What resolution is the veterans' community looking for? Basically, the non-binding resolution is the first step in developing a political consensus and to put the President in a box. Then, Congress can go a lot further.
*Steve Gilliard of News Blog criticized the anti-war marches and the people who organize them, saying they are "incredibly unfocused." Gilliard added that "we have 21st century tools, and these people insist on using 20th century methods that didn't really work when they were used..." Gilliard added that "the problem with the anti-war marchers in general is that there's no leadership and no focus."
*Soltz said that if he were a Republican, "I wouldn't be standing with the Vice President, I'd be standing with Chuck Hagel; he's the guy who's fought in Vietnam." Soltz added that "Dick Cheney, the only combat he's seen is hunting quail in Texas or wherever he was when he shot his friend." Heh.
*Jonathan Powers talked about his War Kids Relief program in Iraq, how he went from "eating dinners at peoples' homes in Iraq to fighting Iraqis." Powers tells a sad story about how, eventually, one orphanage told the US soldiers not to come back, because the insurgents had threatened to come and kill the kids.
*Powers also noted that "this problem is so much bigger than just orphans," that "40% of Iraqi population under 14 years old," and that there is "very little focus on youth development." Powers sees the "same demographics in Iran" and "throughout the Middle East." He warns that "if we don't engage them in a positive way, we're gonna lose them and they're going to turn into jihadists."
*Steve Gilliard talked angrily about the fact that "people coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq are being treated miserably," and how "[w]e shouldn't allow people to serve our country and then be disposed of like garbage."
*Soltz blamed the old "dinosaur" veterans groups, many of which are "bought and paid for by the Republican Party," for not lobbying Congress harder at at time when "we're seeing tax cuts for richest Americans but we're underfunding VA by $2 billion last year."
*Nate Wilcox pointed out that the blogs helped carry Jim Webb over the line in the primary and then did a number on George Allen in the general election; really exciting to see the change. This wasn't the case just a few years ago. Now, the press very much uses the blogs now as an "early warning system." We're going to continue to see an evolution from an old media to a new media. Hopefully, Heading Left can be part of that evolution.
*James Boyce noted that just one year ago, nobody had ever heard of YouTube. Obviously, that was before the infamous "macaca" video. According to Boyce, we're "going to continue to see the destruction of traditional media." Most provactively, Boyce predicts that "by 2012, people are going to be running for office with very little concern that they can raise the $$$ for TV ads." Wow.
*Nate talked about the fact that TV ads not as powerful as they used to be, in part because today, bloggers can expose Republican dirty, "sleazy,""disgusting' dirty tricks.
*Steve Gilliard argued that "Congress isn't the only determinant on Iraq," and that "If the Iraqis determine that we're going to leave, we're going to leave. Any 30 days could be the end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
*James Boyce noted that reporters normally control the conversation, but that now, organizations like VoteVets can look at Blog Talk Radio and say, "well wait a minute, I can go out there and have a radio show every week and talk about war kids relief." This is a way to control the conversation, a potentially "powerful, powerful platform." Launched last August, the site has already had a million listeners.
*Boyce mentioned the Heading Left Hall of Fame, and Nate suggested naming them the "Mollies" after Molly Ivins.