Brian Sonenstein's blog

Rep. Keith Ellison Speaks to Minneapolis Drinking Liberally about Voter Suppression

Rep. Ellison (D-MN 5)stopped by the Minneapolis chapter of Drinking Liberally shortly before the election to share his thoughts on voter suppression and intimidation.

Minnesota is one of several states across the country grappling with voter intimidation issues at the polls this year. Some groups in the state are even offering 'bounties' for catching 'illegal voters' at the polls.

Rep. Ellison tells DL members that, while he believes strongly in fair election practices, Americans should be more concerned about getting their fellow citizens excited about voting than scaring voters with such threats.

Drinking Conservatively Gets a New Name

By Adam Bartel

Drinking Conservatively doesn’t have much of a ring to it. After all, who wants to be overly conservative when they’re enjoying a beverage with their friends. A group of Republicans in Seattle that are trying to duplicate the success of Drinking Liberally felt the same way, and decided to come up with their own name. However, their selection – as well as the group itself – leave more than a bit to be desired.

The CEO of a website called Red County ran a contest to see who could come up with the best name for the fledgling group, and offered a prize of “a paid for bar tab of up to $100” (I’m sure Justin & Matt offered up a similar prize when DL was created). After much consideration, the winning name was “Right on the Rocks”, which would be an excellent description of their electoral results in the last two congressional elections.

Where it gets more interesting is when you start reading about their events. Their second meeting (which they say had a smaller crowd than their kickoff event) featured speaker Lynn Brewer, a former Enron executive and current CEO of The Integrity Institute. The Economist lauded her as “the real whistle blower” at Enron, which is extremely impressive… until you do a simple Google search and realize that the only places where this quote appears are sites promoting her. Nowhere in the article in question does it ever refer to her with that moniker. In fact, there’s just as much evidence that she greatly inflated her credentials as both an executive and as a whistle blower.

Regardless of Ms. Brewer’s authenticity, it sounds like she gave a very impassioned speech about the sustainability of corporate cultures to the smaller than expected crowd that was gathered at… Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Because really, when you’re trying to show off your grassroots credibility and involve all members of the community, you want to do it at a restaurant where the average steak runs about $35.

In an election year where the Democrats should be making it a referendum on which party works for the common man vs. the well-to-do, it’s also important that we look at the differences between the social groups created by members of both parties. While Drinking Liberally chapters meet in bars with beer specials and cheap food so everyone can afford to attend, and host genuine guest speakers and politicians, groups like Right on the Rocks meet in venues where only the upper class can afford to attend, and bring in questionable former Enron employees to talk about integrity.

That’s a debate we’re willing to have any day of the week.

Drinking Liberally is for Lovers

The Drinking Liberally family would like to extend a most-enthusiastic CONGRATULATIONS! to Ted and Saskia of Lexington, Kentucky. The two were married last month after having met in 2007 at -- you guessed it -- their local Drinking Liberally chapter.

How did this come to be?

Mellow Mushroom pizzeria, downtown Lexington. Chance meeting at a gathering of our Drinking Liberally friends. Lots of pizza, eye gazing, and political sparring, um that means flirting. That was December 2007. Many beers and political debates later, the happy couple wants to get married, and we hope you will join us in celebrating the nuptials...

You can read more about how they met, see pictures of the wedding and even send your own well-wishes by visiting their wedding page at

On behalf of everyone at Drinking Liberally, we'd like to raise our glasses and toast Ted and Saskia as they begin their wonderful life together.

Did you meet your special someone at Drinking Liberally? Know someone else who did? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Even Conservatives Love 538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal

If you're at all familiar with what we do here at Living Liberally, this excerpt from Matt Lambash's Weekly Standard coverstory (that's right, the conservative magazine) should not surprise you:

As [Living Liberally founder Justin] Krebs writes, Drinking Liberally “has never been about drinking .  .  . it’s about progressive politics in a social setting.” It’s about all of us being “in this together.” It’s not just about “how you vote on Election Day.” It’s about “how you vote with your wallet every day.” It’s not just about “what you chant at a rally, but what you laugh at or rock out to on your iPod.” It’s about saying “it’s about” a lot, and then saying something real meaningful afterwards. Like this: “Living like a liberal is never just about making politics personal, but about making personal politics public.” It’s about alliteration.

As Lambash puts in plain terms, the goal of Living Liberally as a whole has been empower our every day activities by giving the more purpose and meaning. Indeed, despite the mocking tone this article takes, that's the task laid before readers of Krebs' new book, 538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal.

Luckily for us, Lambash decides to celebrate America's independence this past 4th of July weekend by summoning the bravery to put himself to the test. As a born again Liberal, he sheds his conservative garb and gives in to his most vulnerable "liberal tendencies, all of which are on Krebs’s list," before attempting to make at least some of the changes prescribed by each of the sections of Justin's book. And if you can wade through all the cliche, sarcasm and derision crammed between the margins, you may even discover Lambash inadvertantly celebrating some aspects of the Liberal lifestyle and enjoying a little liberal-living in spite of himself.

But the burning question remains: will our conservative protagonist survive this epic transformation? Check out this 'playful' piece at the Weekly Standard to get a glimpse for yourself. Then, grab a copy of Kreb's book 538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal to see what changes can be made in your own life.

You can help Justin promote 538 Ways by contributing to his book tour, here.

Katie Halper (VIDEO): Make it Rain: Michael Steele Voyeur Club Remix!

Check out this hilarious video sent in by Laughing Liberally comedienne Katie Halper.

From Katie's website:

Michael Steele, Republican National Convention of Drill Baby Drill fame, makes it rain! The RNC dropped nearly $2,000 at a bondage-themed night club and $17,000 on private jets in the month of February. Trickle Down Economics. Trickle Baby Trickle!

State Of The Union: Deep Twitter Thoughts on SOTU

BY KATIE HALPER, cross-posted from AlterNet.

Before the State Of The Union

  • kthalps: guys, the only way obama can repeal dont ask dont tell is if we dont ask dont tell. so shut up abt it. duh!

State Of The Union Starts

kthalps: I guess we’ll have accept third-place “I do not accept second-place for the United States of America.” -Barack Obama.#SOTU #Union address

  • kthalps: joe biden blinks a lot. Nancy Pelosi barely blinks. Between the two of them, they blink at an average rate. #SOTU
  • kthalps: did Joe Biden & Nancy Pelosi coordinate wearing purple (tie and suit, respectively)? And was that a reference 2 shades of blue/red = purple
  • kthalps: looks like America is united by collective desire to punish banks!
  • kthalps: u know Sandra Sotomayor had 2 use all self control 2 not slap Alito for saying “not true” #SOTU
  • kthalps: I wrote Sandra Sotomayor intentionally. I was honoring O’Conner 4 opening door for female judges like Sonia. DUH!

After SOTU

  • kthalps: Chris Matthews’ comments about forgetting Obama was black was so Matthewsian. #sotu

McDonnell Response

  • kthalps: Where did the Republicans find the three black people to stand behind Bob McConnell? #SOTU
  • kthalps: why does the asian guy in glasses behind mcconnell keep nodding? It’s like he’s a bobble head #SOTU
  • kthalps: sorry, make that mcdonnel. all white names look the same to me
  • kthalps:i think “we welcome ur ideas on facebook and twitter” was not a joke. But audience laughed. Awks
  • kthalps: oh snap! McConnel’s daughter was in the army. Can’t say that about Sasha or Malia, can you Barack Obama! Boooyakashah! #SOTU response
  • kthalps: oh nice! McDonnel is advocating torture! “foreign terror suspect given same rights as U.S. citizen” I love it when Republicans get rt to the point #SOTU response
  • kthalps: did they build this set especially for McDonnel’s speech? #SOTU response

Commentary after SOTU & response

  • kthalps: my mom on Anthony Weiner: “He was never married b4? Katie, find me a picture of his girlfriend online” #SOTU #thingsmymomsays
  • kthalps: david Axelrod needs to brush his eyebrows. They got all hot & bothered during #SOTU

How to Date a Corporation: Dating Rules for a Post-Citizens United World


The Supreme Court recently determined that corporations are entitled to freedom of speech because they are legally persons. The ramifications of this decision, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, cannot be overstated: it introduces an entirely new and untapped population into the dating pool.

Chances are you’ve never dated a corporation before. But don’t be intimidated. This can be a fun and exciting opportunity… as long as you follow the corporation-dating rules.

  1. Consider your options. There are a lot of corporations out there. Is this really the best corporation out there? Is this corporation “the one?” Or should you keep looking?
  2. Don’t seem too eager to get involved. Remember, corporations are predatory by nature and enjoy a chase.
  3. Do a background check. What kind of relationships has this corporation had in the past? What is the corporation’s history
  4. Investigate the company the corporation keeps. Who is on its board of directors? Have any been indicted?
  5. Check out the corporation’s assets and figures. How do they look? Are they appealing to you?
  6. Say that you’re fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Corporations find this very sexy.
  7. Make sure you wait before you give up any of your assets. Corporations lose interest when you give it up right away.
  8. Don’t over invest. Nothing hurts more than giving without getting.
  9. Resist the “urge to merge.” Mergers often look appealing but they tend to be messy and almost always hurt party.
  10. Assume the worst. Corporations have a one track mind and they can’t wait to get their hands on your goods.
  11. And last but not least…Protect yourself. Corporations can be very reckless and you never really know how many people this corporation has screwed.

Teabagger Surprise

We got this funny story in from our chapter in Idaho Falls and thought we'd share it with all of you.

Dan writes:

For those of you who miss our meetings, let this be a lesson for you.

I arrived about 15 minutes late to our latest Drinking Liberally meeting, and was pleased to see that we had two new visitors. An older, retired couple who had recently relocated to Idaho Falls was already exchanging small talk with our regulars. After talking a bit about the area in Oregon they had come from, and their reasons for moving, the conversation slowly drifted to our Teabagger Governor, Butch Otter, and his recent State of the State address. It was a fairly insane speech, and provided quite a bit of fodder for discussion. In particular, he is proposing the elimination of many social services provided by the state.

We discussed the question of how to provide care for people in need, and eventually came around to Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments about how his listeners should not contribute to relief for Haiti. One of our members ranted for a bit about the content of Rush Limbaugh’s character.

At that point, our newest male member stood up and proclaimed, “I’m in the wrong meeting!” and proceeded to gather his coat and walk out with his wife.

I assumed he was being playful, and said that we’d like to have them join us again. The woman answered with a brusk “I don’t think so.” As they headed out, the man turned and said angrily, “Rush was right, you know! And the terrorists don’t have to destroy America – Obama’s doing it for them!”

Needless to say, we were all briefly stunned. Then we began to talk about it, and realized how funny it was. The couple had arrived around 7pm, when just a few people were there. They asked, “Is this the Tea Party meeting?” Kym, who was dipping her teabag at the moment, assumed it was a joke – typical of our level of humor – and sarcastically responded “Sure is!” They were asked how they had heard of our group, and they said that they’d been getting our emails since the mid-summer. So we all assumed that they were on the same page.

They must have realized their error at some point in the first 20 minutes. They must have wondered why we were being so social, rather than planning for the big strike. I noticed them having a side conversation with Kitty, who was describing to them the philosophy behind Drinking Liberally. So they listened for awhile before the insult to Limbaugh was just too much for them to take.

[Later, we saw one of the local teabag leaders leave the restaurant, and realized that perhaps there was a teabagger meeting going on in the conference rooms, and our visitors had unwittingly joined the wrong meeting.]

Obviously, this was a wake-up call for us. We have some changes to make. At this point, we’ve decided to institute a new policy that will be strictly enforced. From now on, if someone has to leave the meeting early, he or she must stand up and declare indignantly, “I’m in the wrong meeting!” and storm out. [Thanks to Chuck for being the first person to impliment the new policy!]

Meet the Folks at DL Spartanburg

Back in July, we profiled our very own Drinking Liberally Spartanburg, SC chapter. They just sent us this video about their group, and we liked it so much we thought we'd share it with everyone else!

Got video or pictures of your local DL chapter? Let us know!

Still Looking for the Right Halloween Costume?

From the Huffington Post

Halloween is on Saturday and many (including myself) are scrambling to get the right costume put together at the last minute. Something simple. Edgy. Topical. Something people will really get.

Well Katie Halper has come to the rescue with some easy costume ideas that will not only make a statement, but earn you lots of candy as well. Click through to check out the list!

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