Will we learn to fund progressive infrastructure?

With Spring in full-bloom, I decided to do some spring cleaning this weekend and clean out the way-too-many saved emails I’ve been holding onto for some inexplicable reason and delete old internet “bookmarks” I haven’t looked at for months (beats cleaning out closets). In doing so, I came across a number of wonderful and informative places that have actually closed up shop for lack of funding. Sadly, but not surprisingly, many of them are progressive sites which simply ran out of money. It’s not that they were lacking for a solid readership. But readership alone doesn’t keep a site going. It takes money and commitment by progressive groups and individuals to keep internet activism alive in California. Infrastructure is never cheap, although the internet is probably the best dollar-for-result-invested that political activism has seen so far.
We know that one of the right-wing’s strategies has been to burn up progressive’s financial resources by depleting our dollars while we try to fund safety-net programs that the government no longer supports. We’re asked to contribute to so many worthy causes; to right injustice, to help the needy, protect the environment from corporate onslaught, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. And then there’s trying to keep the progressive message and its critical infrastructure alive. Poltical internet sites know this only too well. Most of California’s progressive sites continue pretty much on love and commitment to what we’re doing.
This isn’t a fundraising pitch for Speak Out California (although if it does move you to contribute to our site, we’d welcome it—all you have to do is click onto the header captioned “Donate ” at the top of our home page.) We’re not alone in our neverending need for support. Every day I get a request to donate to progressive sites like,Truthout, which serves as a sort of on-line clearinghouse for daily news and opinion of interest to the progressive community.
I know from talking with other California progressive websites that generate dialogue and information to California’s ever-growing progressive community that they, too, are struggling to stay alive; that they are able to continue by dipping into their personal savings or doing other work in addition to maintaining their websites. They’ve tried advertising and fundraising on line. Not enough comes in to pay the bills and provide them with a living wage for their efforts.
Organizations that create internet sites as a secondary aspect to their mission -for example to provide information on their own activities are often able to fund their sites, but the goal of internet infrastructure is to provide independent information seen through a broader “progressive” lense. While different groups are doing important work, they tend to have a single or specific agenda- for example, Eco-Vote. This well-designed site is intended to provide information on the work and programs of the CLCV (California League of Conservation Voters) whereas the goal of progressive infrastructure is to articulate over-arching and fundamental values that extend to a broad range of issues and topics.
On the other side of the spectrum, the right-wing propaganda machines are functioning quite successfully. Why? Simply because wealthy right-wingers and big corporations understand and appreciate the importance of developing strong informational and opinion infrastructure on the internet. They’re willing to put the money in to get their pro-business, anti-government message out wide and far. Their on-line networks get “advertising” at above-market rates or get large contributions from right-wing companies and individuals to keep going, broaden their networks and plug their agenda.
If we want to keep educating and informing progressives in California on the state’s important comings-and-goings, continue a strong and pro-active voice for positive change, and combat the right-wing propaganda machines, we’ve got to see a greater commitment to funding these efforts.
The right-wing has always understood that love alone, will not win the day. It’s about time the good guys realized that as well or our work and message will be just a faint whisper in California’s internet political discourse.

Conservative Failure Day

Campaign for America’s Future chief Bob Borosage sets up the big challenge for the Republican candidates as they’re headed in to their debate tonight: figuring out how to talk about their failed governing philosophy:

Each of Bush’s signature failures — the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, Enron and the corporate scandals, failed tax and trade policies, the attempt to privatize Social Security, the posturing around Terri Schiavo and stem cells — can be traced back not simply to the conservative ideology and ideologues that sired them — but to the basic concepts that Reagan championed. The Gipper can’t lead Republican candidates out of the wilderness because, to paraphrase, his conservatism is the problem, not the solution.

CAF is doing their part to bury the philosophy of conservatism dead like communism is dead. They’ve got a whole one day conference on just this going on today, with plenty of juicy updates at Rick “Before the Storm” Perlstein’s outstanding new weblog, The Big Con.
And Vanity Fair has another reminder of both this failed philosophy and why Giuliani is dangerous, despite his seemingly narrow chances of getting through the primary:

Rudy, arguably, is the most anti-family-values candidate in the race (this or any other). And yet, in some sense – which could be playing well with the right wing – what he may be doing is going to the deeper meaning of family values, which is about male prerogative, an older, stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway, when-men-were-men, don’t-tread-on-me kind of thing.

It’s all comes down to enforcing moral orders with conservatives, and the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want to live in the country that results from this kind of dog eat dog approach.
Update: Howard Fineman tunes right into the creepy lizard brain aspect of this:

Commenting on the candidates, Fineman said, “There is a hierarchical, there is, dare I say it, male, there’s an old-line quality to them that some voters, indeed a lot of voters, find reassuring.”

Now we must fund reproductive health care

As we see a woman’s reproductive rights being chiseled away on the national level, thanks to the currently Bush-stacked US Supreme Court, we have to rely more and more heavily on setting the standards for Reproductive Choice right here in California. But the anti-choice movement knows there are more ways than just stacking the court to reduce access to safe and early abortion and reproductive health care services……just squeeze providers financially and watch the number of facilities shrink so rapidly that these services become unavailable or at the very least, so stretched that the ability to obtain healthcare becomes dangerously delayed for patients from all walks-of-life.
Such is the story right here in California. And that is why Wednesday, May 2nd, when Planned Parenthood conducts its annual Lobby Day in Sacramento, it is critically important to support their efforts to obtain a committment to increase the Medi-Cal reimbursement rate for reproductive health services. Not just a promise from the Legislature, but the Governor as well. For all his bluster about being a moderate, “post-partisan” governor, there is nothing that will show that he has at least a modicum of moderation more than his supporting the increase in rates that haven’t been adjusted in almost 20 years!

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