Wednesday, March 16, 2005

MoveOn Org

If you're on the MoveOn mailing list, you've already seen this. If not:

Last summer, we surveyed MoveOn members to determine where folks stood on Iraq. An overwhelming majority of us agreed that we need to have a clear exit plan. And that consensus remains: in order to gain the trust of the Iraqi people, they must know that we don't intend to be there forever.
In the days ahead, we will work together to end the war, by pressuring the President to negotiate a binding exit plan with the Iraqi government. We will push to ensure that America doesn't establish permanent military bases in Iraq, which would send such a terrible message to the world about our motives there.
Together, we will demand that Congress root out the corporate corruption that has undercut the rebuilding efforts and washed billions we've already put into Iraq down the drain. This is especially crucial as Congress prepares to approve another $80+ billion for Iraq.
And we will counter the Bush doctrine of shortsighted, go-it-alone militarism by promoting healthy engagement with the international community--the best way to accomplish diplomatic goals, and address real security threats.
Finally, we'll organize to increase the political consequences for misleading the country into war. Future lawmakers must know that illegitimate wars come at a great political cost.

To participate in a peace vigil they provide a link to Sojourners that will let you know if there's one in your area.

Noting the above, which Gina e-mailed about this morning, is not an attempt on my part to head off discussion for anyone who wants to address this issue. Quickly, here's Danny Schechter's comments from Sunday that a few of you have been referring to:

As readers know, I was very distressed when the mighty movers of MoveOn declined to help us or even tell their readers about our film. I wondered why. I challenged them to discuss it. No one responded. I was later told that I pissed off one of their main team members by going public about my concerns with what I saw as a rightward drift (not in the ranks but among the leaders, perhaps in hopes of becoming powerbrokers and insiders.)
I figured, well, maybe the film was just not good enough or that this dispute was considered personal. Perhaps, I just wasn't a big enough celeb for them like the stars they like to hang with and trumpet. Perhaps the film is not partisan enough because it doesn't just just go after Fox but indicts the corporate media system -- a system they seem to support with all their advertising.
I didn't feel they owe us anything. They have a right to decide what to support or not support just as I have the right to lobby them as they lobby the public.
That's what I thought and after lots of queries -- from Mediachannel readers -- went without any response, I decided to move on and drop it. I do admire their impressive capacity at motivating and organizing. I wished MoveOn well.
[. . .]
[Then he read Norman Solomon's article -- link and excerpt provided immediately below the end of Schechter's post.]
Pragmatism strikes again to rationalize silence.
What's next? An alliance with the DLC? I guess to win brownie points or access on the Hill and in the inner circle they feel they have to move like Hillary Clinton and the others into a centrist CONsensus. You could see this coming when one time anti-war hero John Kerry felt he had to out-Bush Bush on the war to win. It didn't work, did it?
Whats especially troubling is that MoveON is dropping the war as an issue after a majority of the people (56% in a December poll) now say they now think Iraq was a bad idea. As anti-war sentiment grows and as the US military loses the initiative, MoveOn is pursuing its own "exit strategy." Could the positive but wrong media spin on the Iraq elections have convinced them to drop the issue?
So now read this article by Norman Solomon as introduced by Anthony Lappe of
Guerrilla News Network.

From Norman Solomon's article (also cited in a few e-mails):

Sadly, it has come to this. Two years after the invasion of Iraq, the online powerhouse -- which built most of its member base with a strong antiwar message -- is not pushing for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
With a network of more than three million "online activists," the MoveOn leadership has decided against opposing the American occupation of Iraq. During the recent bloody months, none of MoveOn's action alerts have addressed what Americans can do to help get the U.S. military out of that country. Likewise, the website has continued to bypass the issue -- even after Rep. Lynn Woolsey and two dozen cosponsors in the House of Representatives introduced a resolution in late January calling for swift removal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.
That resolution would seem to be a natural peg for the kind of kinetic activism that established MoveOn's reputation. A movement serious about ending U.S. military activities in Iraq could use the resolution as a way to cut through political tap dances and pressure members of Congress to take a stand. Down the road, generating grassroots support for a get-out-of-Iraq resolution has potential to clear a congressional pathway for measures cutting off funds for the war.
But, tragically, MoveOn's leadership is having none of it. Over a period of recent weeks, the word "Iraq" appeared on the home page only in a plug for a documentary released last year. Inches away, a blurb has been telling the website’s visitors: "Support Our Troops: Contribute your frequent-flyer miles so that American troops can get home." (But not stay home.) Many soldiers are returning to the killing grounds of Iraq, while a growing number are vocally opposed to this war.
Why won’t MoveOn "support our troops" by supporting a pullout of our troops from Iraq? "We believe that there are no good options in Iraq,"'s executive director, Eli Pariser, told me. "We're seeing a broad difference of opinion among our members on how quickly the U.S. should get out of Iraq. As a grassroots-directed organization, we won’t be taking any position which a large portion of our members disagree with."

[. . .]
When I asked Eli for clarification, he replied: "We've been talking with our members continuously on this issue. We've surveyed slices of our membership in January and in December, and surveyed our whole membership last spring. That's how we know there’s a breadth of opinion out there."

[. . .]
The 29 members of the House now sponsoring the resolution are hardly radicals. They recognize the kind of grisly consequences of equivocation that occurred during the Vietnam War: Refusal to speak forthrightly about the urgent need to end military involvement only fuels the war’s deadly momentum.
[. . .]
Among the emerging organizations is Progressive Democrats of America (, a fledgling national group with an activist focus on the Iraq war that is laudably straightforward. "We're organizing a new campaign in every Congressional District we can to call for the end of funding for war and occupation, and for the transfer of reconstruction assistance to Iraqis themselves," says Tim Carpenter of PDA. He contends that "public pressure can awaken Congress to an opposition role."

Read Schechter's comments, read Solomon's. And note that readers of Danny's blog have responded to his post on Sunday.

Whether MoveOn's e-mail makes a difference or not, I don't know. That's for you to decide.
I do know that Gina brought up in her e-mail this morning a time when someone had comments posted here (even after they were e-mailed about them by me saying they might want to reread what they were commenting on) they then complained, after their comments were posted, that they were made to look like a fool.

Reading Gina's e-mail and then the MoveOn e-mail, I agreed that if someone's not signed up or they don't see the e-mail and they respond, they may feel set up."

The e-mail for this site is and you can weigh in or not. It's not necessary that you read any of the three. But if you don't and your remarks (that you intend to be quoted) are posted, don't come back saying, "I was made to look like a fool!"

I want to add one thing that three members have brought up. I hadn't been to the MoveOn site in sometime but I went to it to grab the address for the site. (The address in the e-mail took me straight to Sojourner's.) Three people who have heard of MoveOn but had never visited it until recently expressed disappointment with the web site. It may be due to the fact that the organization is so known for it's internet work and reach. But the three members didn't feel there was much beyond action alerts. I never visit the site because I get the e-mails. But if MoveOn's rethinking anything at this time (and I don't know that they are), they might want to consider adding to their web site. Over at NOW, Kim Gandy writes columns that members speak of enjoying in their e-mails. Eli or Joan or someone else could do the same at MoveOn. As it is currently, one member said he was excited and thought it was a site he'd be visiting constantly but now feels it's a check in once a month kind of site.

[And consider visiting the links. MoveOn's e-mail is a press release -- that's not a put down -- so I was less concerned about fair use -- when you do a press release, you're obviously attempting to get the word out. I feel like I've edited some of Danny Schechter's finer moments out of the post -- but let's face it, I was committed to having that conclusion in there so that was staying regardless. I hope I didn't push it with Norman Solomon's excerpt but he's spoken to MoveOn and I know there are members who do not go to links. I didn't want to summarize my opinion of what Solomon was told and risk missing something or skewing it. I also felt the resources Solomon offered had to be included. If anyone e-mails the site saying, "You've quoted to much of my writing," I will edit it down. My apologies to all three if they feel they've been over quoted.]