Saturday, November 18, 2006

ILJ's One Year Anniversary

Anniversaries are personal touchstones. They allow us to reflect upon where we’ve been, where we are and what comes next. It happens that November 20th is the one-year anniversary of the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

A year ago I emerged from self-imposed apathy about politics and current events. I worked my butt off for the Kerry campaign in 2004. Kerry didn’t inspire me but I believed our national honor could only be salvaged by Bush’s defeat.

So I took bus trips to Pennsylvania and canvassed. I brushed off my telemarketing skills from the ‘90s and phone banked every night after work – even though I hated telemarketing and swore to myself I would never do it again.

The early excitement over exit polls turned to ashes in the mouths of progressive activists in November 2004. There was also the lingering suspicion that Kerry really won but the election was fixed. I angrily told people I thought what happened in the Ukraine also happened here. Nobody seemed to care. Worse I was forced to acknowledge that even if the election had been fixed – Bush enjoyed enough support to make manipulating the results possible. The same also had to be said about 2000.

My country had turned into a train wreck and if Americans were too dumb to change course I wasn’t about to invest anymore time and energy. Right or wrong that’s how I felt.

Then Hurricane Katrina happened. The callous rot of Bush’s rule was exposed and apathy was not an option. Too many of my fellow citizens in the Gulf Coast were condemned to death because they were black, poor or both. Katrina renewed debate about our direction and I wanted in.

My only familiarity with blogs was through a close personal friend. I suppose you could describe her as my blog guru. Her Corporate Ethics blog, is dedicated to exposing the corruption and crimes of Kaiser Permanente. More than a blog her site has become an information repository for standing up against an evil corporate giant.

My friend had been a Kaiser employee, was familiar with their dark underside and personally suffered because of them. I suggest reading her site to learn about her personal story. I read her blog regularly and was intrigued.

Occasionally I posted comments anonymously – when people attacked her I took it personally and still do. Among her accomplishments was a state agency in California fining Kaiser over $200,000 for exposing Medical Record Numbers of their patients on their website.

My friend has little money and since losing her job at Kaiser she’s scrapped together a living with freelance work. And yet she was making a difference and giving voice to people who had suffered at Kaiser’s hands. Her blog also intrigued me because I saw parallels between them and the Bush Administration. Out of control crony capitalism, a compliant press parroting Kaiser’s propaganda and regulatory agencies that mostly overlooked their crimes against the public. Even if she weren’t my friend her blog would’ve fascinated me. There was nobility to it and a sense of empowerment from reading it. She was fighting back.

I wanted to do the same and after Katrina my passion for the progressive cause returned. My original plan was to write about various topics in advance, investigate the world of blogging and get started in January 2006 with the material I had put together. I wanted my first post to be about civil liberties and promote the concept of liberals taking a more aggressive stand and ply libertarians away from the Republican Party.

But in November 2005 John Murtha rocked the political world and called for a redeployment of our forces in Iraq. It seemed the whole world was engaged about the merits of his position and I was on the sidelines. So, ready or not I had to jump in.

And I felt reinvigorated. How wonderful to discover a whole community of progressive bloggers standing up for peace, economic empowerment and social justice. Their vitality gave me hope as I sensed the path of renewal through the netroots.

Whenever reading about bloggers in the mainstream press I’m amazed at how we’re portrayed: “dangerous,” “extreme” and with subversive values. Recently at a Barnes & Noble I spoke with someone at the history section. Somehow the topic of liberal bloggers came up and I admitted I was one. Her response to me was, “oh you’re one of those people.” I had to laugh.

Yes I’m one of “those people” whatever that means. And who are we? True enough the blogosphere has characters I would rather not be associated with – inevitable considering its size. For the most part bloggers resemble your neighbors down the street.

If you take a look at my left sidebar, underneath “Friends of ILJ” you’ll notice Joe Irvin’s Blog. Joe was the first blog to link me. An editor of a small city newspaper for 35 years, Joe served in the U.S. Army and raised two children with his wife. Yes, I see why people might fear someone like that. Decent people with sense are dangerous.

There is also Deirdre Helfferich of Ester Republic – the second blog to link me. Deirdre is an Alaskan Green Party activist and she promotes clean government, clean air and clean energy. Yes, Deirdre is terrifying and must be stopped. Anyone who supports conservation and developing alternative sources of energy must be a terrorist. Tap her phones now!

The ubiquitous Jay Lassiter of Lassiter Space is also “one of those people.” A front pager at Blue New Jersey and Democratic Party and human rights activist who helped push Robert Menendez across the finish line in his Senate race. Jay believes gays should enjoy equal rights including marriage. His father served in Vietnam and Jay is committed to bringing our troops home as soon as possible. Jay has the temerity to believe our troops shouldn’t die in an immoral and ill-conceived war. Yes he must be stopped too.

Another “one of those people” is Bill Kavanagh of Big Bill’s Diamond Blog. Bill is a Massachusetts born New Yorker and obviously an elitist with his intelligent and cogent observations. Who the hell does he think he is? Somebody slap the cuffs on him please for his recent post about police abuse on the UCLA campus.

I look forward to the return of Bob Higgins of Worldwide Sawdust. Right now his link is dead but I understand he’ll return with his own community blog soon. Bob is a war veteran against the Iraq War from Ohio. His combination of poignancy and humor make him a very dangerous man. Bob is also “one of those people” you see. Everyday I check to see if his link is working again and can’t wait to receive an Email that he’s back in business.

If you were to put the bloggers underneath my “Friends of ILJ,” “Intrepid Voices” and members of the “Community Blogs” I list in a hotel ballroom the conversation would be lively. I suspect we would agree 90% of the time and incessantly debate over the 10% we disagreed about. That’s what progressives do. The give and take is our strength. We don’t fear debate. Debating ideas is fuel for true progressives.

Collectively, the voice of progressive blogs has become a critical mass striving for reformation and justice. We helped drive the debate and voter turnout during the recent mid-term election won by Democrats. Many bloggers such as myself either raised money, canvassed or phone banked on behalf of progressive candidates. It seems all the intellectual ideas and innovation about global warming, world peace, social justice and promoting an economy that empowers people is on our side. With progressives ascending and taking power on both the federal and state level our voice will be even more amplified.

I’m proud to be a part of it.
Special thanks to Nanette of the fabulous community blog Man Eegee for including me in their weekly roundup every Sunday. I'm proud to be an Eegian!


breakingranks said...

Holy cats - has it really been a year?

Thanks for the shout out on the Kaiser thing: the last few weeks have been really amazing - not only has Kaiser flaunted its serious management problems yet again, but now there's another person who actually knows what I've been through (well, except for the framing, the public denouncement by a State agency, and the lawsuit...). But at least there's someone else who knows the intensity with which Kaiser PR lies and attempts to smear critics and dissenters - and the extent to which the supposedly-credible media falls for this. Kaiser has the power to rewrite history, to completely overwrite a person's existence. Other corporations have that same power. I'm so grateful to know at least one other person that's experienced that now.

josephus said...

Rob, congratulations! It's a year well spent, from my perspective. Joe

Bill said...

HI Rob- Thanks for the shout out.

As an elitist snob from New Yaawk City by way of the great Commonwealth of Massachuu-sets, I'm also proud to be in the company of folks like yourself.

Say what you will about this crowd, at least we're not boring.

Congrats on a promising year of writing and podcasting. Your blog is a great new attraction on the information highway-- and you know it's all about location, location, location here in the blogosphere!

jay lassiter said...

happy anniversary brother and thanks for the shoutout!!!!!!!

Deirdre Helfferich said...

Hiya, Rob. I had no idea your blog was so new when I linked to it...blogging this last year has been fun, but it's way too easy to shoot my mouth off, so to speak--er, write. I've been learning from you and others out there how to take a more investigative and cautious approach. Blogging makes it really easy to be emotional, so those who aren't set a good example for the rest of us. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for fighting against this evil. Johns Hopkins with their MCO Priority Partners is doing horrible things , refusing to treat people on Medicaid and raking in tons of money by pretending they are doing a community service in being "the biggest provider of the poor in Maryland" as they state on their website.

liberal journal man said...

Rob, I can't agree more with everything you stated. Bloggers like you have brought insightful discussion and a necessary foil to the mainstream media. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Happy 1st Anniversary and hopefully many more. :)