Sunday, May 25, 2008

Josh Silver on the Responsible Plan

By: Harry Waisbren

Josh Silver, the Executive Director of Free Press, made a particularly interesting point when I asked him about his opinions on the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq during our interview on the May 18th edition of Forward Forum:

In its efforts to end the causes of the war in Iraq, the Responsible Plan calls for "a first step towards restoring our independent media" through the adoption of new media ownership rules. This is why the plan's legislative passage includes S.2332: Media Ownership Act of 2007 which

would require the FCC to include greater public participation when changing regulations related to broadcast ownership, to do studies on the impact of such rule changes, and to establish an independent panel on increasing the representation of women and minorities in broadcast media ownership.

Although Silver said he is a fan of the plan, he argued that the plan addresses but one of the two ongoing fights that must be won in order to "restore public trust in media" as the plan stipulates. He argued that breaking up conglomerated media is not enough on its own, as there is a necessity to keep "an eye to the future, and that’s the internet and it’s also public broadcasting and non-commercial broadcasting."

Silver reminded Forward Forum's audience that even if we win this first fight, America would still "have the lowest funded per capita funding of our public broadcasting system in the industrialized world." He argued that this problem is compounded by the constant threats of even more budget cuts from "ideological members of congress who don’t like when PBS and NPR actually do real reporting."

I think Silver makes a great point here, as it is true that both PBS and NPR failed to provide meaningful coverage during the run-up to the war. Even supposedly independent media outlets such as PBS and NPR knew that if they would "raise a red flag" there would be even worse governmental reprisals towards their funding, and this certainly had an adverse affect on their funding. Establishing a less conglomeratized media system would far from completely alleviate the ability for politicians and conglomerations alike to use their political power to skew news coverage, which is why Silver argued that "all of these issues have to be worked on simultaneously."

This fight that must be waged simultaneously includes not only achieving adequate governmental funding for public broadcasting outlets that can not be hijacked at the whim of idealogues, but also winning the fight for the safety and continued evolution of the network-neutral internet. I believe Matt Stoller of Open Left, a crucial advocate of the Responsible Plan, would particularly agree with this sentiment about the internet, as he agrees with fellow Openlefter Chris Bowers that, in regards to the progressive movement as a whole, the Medium is the Movement.

However, the Responsible Plan does not address this dynamic at all, asserting that the adoption of S. 2332 is but the "first step". Grassroots activists should be aware of this dynamic as we move towards ending the causes of the war in Iraq, as if we do not engage both of these fights simultaenously, we may find alternate causes of wars just like Iraq occurring in the future.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 17th Edition of Forward Forum

by: John Quinlan

We open this week's show with a discussion with Suzanne Gordon about the ongoing nursing crisis. Gordon is a phenomenal expert to have discuss this topic, as she is the author of "Safety In Numbers: Nurse-to-Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care".

We will also have Peace Activist Allen Ruff and Erik Leaver of the Washington-based Foreign Policy Institute come on to discuss the Madison Area Peace Coalition's May 24th event Call to Action: Honor Soldiers & Civilians by Surging Against War and Occupation.

To close out the show, we will talk to Josh Silver, Executive Director of Free Press. Free Press sponsors the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis June 6-8th. All of us at Forward Forum will be attending and covering the conference, so we are certainly excited to get a first hand preview of it tonight!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mad Progress Events Page

June 21 Moveon Bake Sale

May 28 Moveon Bush-McCain Challenge

May 2nd Campus Progress True Cost of War rally

May 1st True Majority Responsible Plan delivery

April 24th Moveon Iraq and Recession report release

True Cost of War Rally

By: Harry Waisbren

Campus Progress's first True Cost of War event went very well, with about 50 or so participants joining in despite the weather being horrid until a few hours before the event. Here's our flickr page with all of the pictures from the event, but I'll go through some of the highlights below:

Here is Mitra and myself with State Rep. Mark Pocan right before he made his speech discussing the difficulties state governments are having providing desperately needed services due to the war---

Here is the front of our march emphasizing how much Madison has already spent on the war. Deeper in we had signs discussing how Madison may have spent our share of the Iraq war funding on education, health care, and the environment---

When we finished the march at the state capitol we met up with the man who most controls the allocation of our could almost call him the Decider---
Shortly thereafter, some of President Bush's best friends came to join the party. We had Vice President Cheney, Republican Presidential nominee McCain, and a bevy of corporate executives come thank him for his values over how he is spending our tax money...and then they stole more---

I really thought this event went well, especially since we looked at it as a test run for larger events we wish to have in the future. It was relieving to know that we have a functioning coalition able to pull this off, and the response we had from how we framed the issues couldn't have been better. People need to understand how devastating the war has been to our day to day lives, and we hope our dramatic interpretations over this dynamic will help solidify this in the minds of our fellow citizens.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Responsible Plan delivery

by: Harry Waisbren

Below is a picture of me delivering a copy of the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq to Rep. Tammy Baldwin's (D-WI) office as part of a campaign by True Majority. Sadly, I was unable to speak to her as she was in Washington, but I was able to give a copy to her District Director, Curt Finkelmeyer.

Finkelmeyer seemed genuinely interested in the plan and noted that Baldwin has already endorsed plan supporter Jared Polis. He promised to relay a copy to the congresswoman, and I certainly hope he can as it'd be great to have another true progressive like her on board.

Advocating this plan is one of the two goals for the Madison chapter of Campus Progress that I am helping to establish, and I plan on using Mad Progress to discuss it extensively in the future. Hopefully my writing will do this truly remarkable plan justice, and I plan on focusing much more of my attention on it following our True Cost of War kickoff event tomorrow.