Posted by Paul Evans on February 7, 2009 at 2:34am
Guide to ProgressiveNews and Politics on the Web(As seen on MyBarackObamaand Daily Kos. Revised post election)Here we will explore where to look on the web for political content and news content which have a progressive flavor. After Obama's landslide win in the election, it is still crucial to keep up with the REAL news, and keep the heat on Washington. Since this is an introductory article, we will not be covering RSS feeds, newsgroups or environmental websites, although you can certainly find out a lot about the environment at some of the websites mentioned.Let’s start with Alternet. This is one of the largest, most highly regarded progressive websites, with truthful news, columnists, videos and blogs. Sign up for email newsletters on the topics which are of interest; you can do that with almost all of the websites listed here. There are many “threads” of discussions going on at any given time with quite a few of the articles. You can email or print anything and pages print with print large enough to read, even with Internet Explorer (6 or 7).[[[Aside: you really should get Firefox, the worlds best internet browser, and it's FREE. It's faster, more secure and it doesn't take forever before it decides to "do" something, the way Internet Explorer does. Once you've installed Firefox, get the add-on called "ie tab" which allows you to use the Internet Explorer rendering engine for sites like Microsoft which require it. Get it at Mozilla.com.]]]One of the finest blogs in existence for us progressives and for anyone concerned with the truth is Daily Kos, which is hosted by one Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. It gets a hefty traffic of a half a million readers per day. He and his contributors really tell the truth without embellishment, and this website can be counted on to separate the chaff from the wheat. Be sure you check out the "diaries." ...there are some conservative dissenting opinions in the open "threads," as well. As with many of these websites, you need to register with your email, providing a username and a password, for full-featured access.Another great one is Common Dreams, the non-profit news and views website with a couple of hundred links to news and blog websites and columnists. I must be an old curmudgeon; I liked their old page format better.....but it's absolutely one of the best liberal web sites out there.If you want a good dose of the real left, try Truthout, which has hundreds of news stories and turns up a LOT of dirt on the Administration. I understand America Online has restricted their users on this one, though I'm not sure.Now, about "the truth." There are a few websites which make it their business to check the media, politicians and candidates' statements and tell YOU, the (news) "consumer" just what is true and what is false, and to what degree. Here are a couple of the best: FactCheck (sign up for the email newsletters from this one) and from down in St. Petersburg, Florida (yes, Florida), Politifact. Even though the election is over, we all need to stay in tune with the truth about ongoing current events and what is going on in Washington. You will always get the truth from these two websites.One of the best progressive magazines is The Nation, and if you are of an intellectual bent you will like Harpers, which magazine has been around since 1850. Both of these are also print magazines, and the websites want you to subscribe but you can still read them online for free. One of my very favorite places to stop by is Talking Points Memo, where you have your own profile and blog. Be sure you read the news and check out such features as Muckraker, Election Central, the Café, and by all means read "The Horse's Mouth." If you care about the "spinning" of the news and corporate control over content, be sure to check out Media Matters for America.Recently I found a great resource, a magazine which has been around for 100 years, 1909 - 2009. The online edition of The Progressive is a wonderful collection of news and a lot of editorial content and columnists, including Will Durst, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower and Howard Zinn. There is also a radio station. Readers of mine will be seeing a lot of content from The Progressive on my own Liberal Politics pages.Also check out The Nation Institute, which is a very impressive website where you can learn a lot. A little more arcane is The Rockridge Institute, which is about "framing" the debate in American society from the progressive point of view. It is inactive now but very instructive. The Republicans were framing the debate before progressives knew what framing was!!Let me take a moment to relate something which was an important consideration in the election. Washington lawmakers are notoriously influenced by lobbyists, so I want to show how that pertained to the Presidential election, even though it is over. Lobbying is a regulated profession; you have to be registered to be an active lobbyist. We have all been suffering in the current financial meltdown, and perhaps it was partly because of the informed electorate's insight as to McCain's campaign staff makeup and its "ownership" by corporate America, that he lost. It couldn't have helped him - American's are fed up with lobbyists running Washington! Let's look at the Republican candidate, John McCain, in terms of the number of lobbyists who worked on this candidate's campaign staff. There were 83 (eighty-three) registered, Wall Street lobbyists working on McCain's staff, (Mother Jones, September 17, 2008; Alternet, September 18, 2008). (There were 127 registered lobbyists overall on his campaign staff.) Read the article on AlterNet yourself. So who do you think would have been running White House policy if John McCain had been elected?? Barack Obama is absolutely committed to cleaning up government in Washington and elliminating the influence of lobbyists. He did it during his eight years in the Illinois State Senate and progressives are counting on him doing his very best to do it in Washington. Let's keep the heat up, people!While the prevalence of lobbyists on McCain's campaign is to be expected from a Republican candidate, neither candidate took that much money from political action committees, although McCain took more than has Obama. Here is current information on McCain's campaign financing at Opensecrets.org, a wonderful resource.Here is the current information on Obama.Speaking of important current information - important even after the election - the latest polling information can be found at FiveThirtyEight and Pollster.com.Well, I suppose we need to cover Ralph Nader's website. You can find it at Public Citizen. Be sure and check the Press Room for current stories. Aren't you glad you didn't vote for him? However good he is or is not in his positions, only Obama had a chance at preventing "Bush III" -- which is what McCain would have been.Here are some more serious, very good progressive blogs and websites. You may ask, if these blogs are just online diaries, what can I really learn from them? Well, a blog can be just as much a serious vehicle as The New York Times is as a newspaper and (conventional) website. It's just that ANY website which takes the form of a dated series of communications, usually with an archive, and with the newest entry at the top is a blog, or weblog, by definition. A great blog you will want to check out is The Huffington Post, and also it's always a good idea to stop by Fired Dog Lake. If you want to check out the people who absolutely infuriate conservatives who know, go to, MoveOn.org. Seventy percent of the 3.2 million members of MoveOn.org who voted, asked the site to publically back Barack Obama in the primaries, and they actively campaigned for him as well as other progressive candidates in this last election. (Gosh, it's over isn't it?) This is also the site for people who want to get involved and put their name and email on petitions; just click the "Campaigns" button at the top.A great resource is The American Prosect, whose slogan is “liberal intelligence.” There is a definite tie-in here with liberal Judaism. A good progressive source for “commentary and analysis on politics in America” The Carpetbagger Repot, which unfortunately has closed up shop except for the archives. The new website which replaces it is The Washington Monthly. There is a LOT of good analysis there and the topics are very current from the news. When you load any of Taegan Goddard’s stories on the “Political Wire” on the left of the screen, be sure to check out the “Breaking News” stories from the button at the top.The New Republic is another essential resource which must not be missed. So is Politico, which has a LOT of content. Boy do Conservatives hate these two! You will learn a lot - check in with these frequently.Perhaps you’d like to see speeches by Barack Obama (or be infuriated by those of McCain, Bush and Cheney). Google’s video website YouTube, has free registration, after which you can search many millions of videos, make comments, save the ones you like or download them in Real Player format, and share links to them. You do have the free media player RealPlayer right? If not you can get it here. (Warning: with RealPlayer, any disc you burn, and any music or file you download, is in their own, proprietary file format, which is NOT compatible with a lot of older stereos and boomboxes. But you need it for the video downloads on sites like YouTube, unless of course you are using Firefox and get one of the free add-ons to download videos.... Also, you can get the free FLV Player which plays Real format FLV and also MPEG-4 video files, a safe download from CNET, here.) A search for “Barack Obama” on Google video just after he was elected yielded about 174,000 results, but the links to the most relevant videos are on the results page provided, simply from a search on YouTube. (Google owns YouTube and there are more comprehensive search results on Google than you get on YouTube. However most of the results of a search at YouTube are the relevant videos with the links provided.)If you feel so inclined and/or are among those who are getting up in years, try AARP, The American Association of Retired People. Be sure to visit AARP Magazine, and especially AARP Bulletin. You can join AARP for a modest fee if you are 50 or older, but the websites are completely free. AARP has been extremely successful at lobbying Congress about social programs. Back at the beginning of 2006 when the Bush administration was trying very hard to privatize Social Security, AARP ran a singularly effective campaign which squashed this attempt. By the way, McCain voted to privatize Social Security three times.Another great website to visit is NOW, which stands for the National Organization of Women. There is a lot of real news and factual information to be found there. They supported Hillary Clinton very strongly.Another group the Bush administration hated is the American Friends Service Committee. That’s right, the social action arm of the Quakers. You can find them and join their efforts for peace and relief at AFSC. Apparently being against the war in Iraq is enough to make you an enemy of that administration even if you are a notably Christian group! Ah, but not the “right sort” of Christian. I understood, if I am correct, that membership in the American Friends Service Committee was qualification for being put on the Terror Watch List. Oh, but didn't you know, there are approximately ONE MILLION Americans on Bush's Homeland Security Terror Watch List. Don't you feel so much safer?All conservatives reserve a special venom for the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union. When you’ve joined the ACLU, you’ve reached a certain level of status in the progressive movement. I will only note that this group defends the civil rights of everyone, including Conservatives. Related is TalkLeft, which is about the politics of crime and injustice. A very good opinion web site is Open Left, which also collects summaries of very good news stories.The New York Times infuriated its online readership when it began charging for full access a couple of years ago; the current day’s news is still free. The Washington Post is still completely free, although some would say it is not really a liberal newspaper. You need to create a username and password with these.Although you will not find too much news there with a progressive slant, there is good general news coverage at Yahoo news. It's certainly not a progressive source, but they do an OK, fairly complete job with the news. In other words it is a resource to check out the “mainstream” news. Any (minimal) progressive coverage is at the bottom of the page. Yahoo, which seems to have fought off a $44.6 billion plus takeover attempt by Microsoft, has been in talks with the media giant Rupert Murdoch. If Yahoo goes that route, you can expect any remaining evenhandedness in their news coverage to go out the window.The Center for American Progress is the website of a think tank that has become the most powerful voice inside the Obama transition. Time called it "Obama's Idea Factory." The President of "CAP," John Podesta, heads the Obama Presidential transition. The website has, besides the homepage, sections on national security, domestic and economy, the environment, media and culture, and others, in fact, the whole spectrum of current issues. It's a really good site that you should check out. There is a lot about a lot there, and this is a VERY influential think tank. There a currently a few issues over its undisclosed donor list, too.If you just want a summary of really insightful news, with links to the full articles, try the Progressive Blog Digest. Recently it has been the number one website listed in the search results for "progressive blogs" from Google; these are really good, in depth stories (at the links), with real research involved in digging them out of the media by one Nicholas Burbules, the owner. These are the inside stories, and if you had one site to really follow just what's going on, this one is pretty good. There are plenty of other unsung blogs out there. Check out Liberal Values, for example; this is a really good blog! Another one I have been really using is Liberal Oasis; you can find a LOT of good blogs via this web site.There is good news coverage and there are some great blogs at Mother Jones News. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek called OxBlog "a great read," and you should also check out Buzzflash, which is a whole family of websites. Try the general Buzzflash website and its great collection of articles. A favorite of mine here is Buzzflash.com’s GOP Hypocrite of the Week.Finally, let me conclude this survey of the progressive scene with Tom Paine's, "common sense," which can be found at Tome Paine. It's a gritty, well thought out website which should not be passed up. Thomas Paine, more than any other thinker, motivated citizens of the British colonies in America to rebel in the American Revolutionary War. A pamphlet called Common Sense was perhaps most influential. One of his sayings was, “When the government fears the people, you have liberty. When the people fear the government, you have tyranny.” By that definition, with the election of Barack Obama, NOW we have liberty!