Josh Bolotsky's blog

Help Keep Our Lights On

Last year, Living Liberally needed your help to keep operating. You came through for us, and we have kept going strong, collaborating with organizations like the SEIU, spreading our chapters to over 350 cities and keeping the dream of progressive communities in all 50 states alive.

This year, we need your help to keep that dream alive. Donate today to keep aggressive activists meeting nationwide.

We are joining in this fundraising effort with a vital partner in the progressive netroots, Open Left. Open Left has been a progressive media powerhouse for the last three critical years in our movement. Just as we have changed the landscape of modern politics by building a network of aggressive activists, they have done so through efforts like getting every 2008 Senate Democratic challenger to come out in support of net neutrality. With both organizations facing a budget shortfall in the upcoming year, we've partnered to ask that you support the effort to build a progressive counterpoint to the tea parties and Fox News.

Contribute now to support progressive infrastructure like Living Liberally and Open Left.

Watch The Rally On Wall Street - LIVE

Watch live streaming video from aflcio at

Forget the Tea Party - We're Going to Throw a Real Party, with the SEIU & Marion Nestle

In New York, on Saturday, May 1st, the Living Liberally Annual Celebration promises to be a party that will put the Tea Party to shame.

Buy your tickets now, and learn more about why we're honoring organizing powerhouse SEIU and food policy activist Marion Nestle.

Markos Was Right About Us

Markos recently mentioned Living Liberally being a rare example of progressive netroots success.

We like to think that Markos was right about us - Living Liberally is as netroots as it gets, with two full-time employees and a few part-time volunteers maintaining a nationwide network. We certainly don't get rich doing this - we generally consider ourselves lucky to even keep such an effort afloat at all. With the Bush years finally over and many emboldened, vocal liberals bringing their case to Washington for the first time in eight years, it's more important than ever to have progressives in all 50 states ready to meet, socialize and, if they choose, organize for change. That's what Living Liberally means to us.

However, with one day to go until our 3rd annual fundraiser and celebration hosted by Sam Seder, there's a problem - remaining a success story, rather than one of the countless progressive infrastructure projects that had to dismantle due to lack of support, is becoming more and difficult.

On Our Own With Sunshine Cleaning

Screening Liberally Big Picture
By Josh Bolotsky

Sunshine Cleaning, the new film by Christine Jeffs and Megan Holley, has been done a great disservice, and that’s as good a place to begin as anywhere. A deeply moving, fiercely intelligent film about a working-class family struggling to stay afloat has been falsely presented, in an act of marketing malpractice, as a cutesy, oh-so-mischievous parade of twee and cleverness. Every trailer, poster and billboard, with their booming promise/threat of “From the producers of Little Miss Sunshine” and predictable heaping of quasi-indie-ready quirk, is a betrayal. Sunshine Cleaning is a portrait, worthy of pre-sappy James L. Brooks or post-sardonic John Sayles, of an American family suffering the worst of Bush’s ownership society, and still managing to cohere via some fragment of a belief in the basic goodness of people.

Oh, and it’s funny too.

There’s so much to appreciate about this simple, honest film, and so little space in which to express it. Let’s begin with the basic plotline: Rose, who isn’t played so much as embodied by Amy Adams in a bravura performance, is a single working mother in Albuquerque, New Mexico, living with her elementary-school-age son, Oscar (Jason Spevack), who gives some of the signals of high-functioning Aspergers Syndrome, her younger, twenty-something sister, Norah (Emily Blunt), who takes underachiever pride in staying at home and losing a variety of jobs, and her emotionally distant, deteriorating father, Joe (Alan Arkin). This is one of those long-forgotten families, forgotten by American movies at least, straddling the line between working class and working poor, their terror at the lack of a social safety net beneath them “should something happen” coloring almost every decision they make, doing their best to keep the basic family budget up and running. (When’s the last major-studio, national-release film you remember with such a backdrop? North Country? Erin Brockovich? Norma Rae?)

Virtually Speaking with Jimbo Hoyer (Katie Halper's virtual reality debut)

I'll be on Virtually Speaking with Jim Hoyer Thursday at 9PM (NY) and 6PM (LA). Apparently there are other cities and towns in the regions, but I wouldn't know because I'm an elitist who spends all my time in NY, and San Francisco and Hollywood with my liberal celebrity friends.

The show consists of "live, in-depth, intelligent conversations with opinion leaders before a virtual studio audience. Simulcast on BlogTalkRadio." You can listen on BlogTalkRadio or Second Life. Fellow Neo-Luddites, fear not. It is easy to do (and free.) Guests on previous and future shows include Juan Cole, John Dean (see left), Dan Froomkin, George Lakoff, -- you know, people you would naturally associate with me. I will be wearing an avatar, which is an online disguise.

Republican Idol: The Search for America's New Top Right Wing Renaissance Man (Vote Now!)

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying
by Katie Halper

My fellow Americans,

Some of the greatest talents in the country are undiscovered. But did you know that some of the greatest talents are in the GOP and/or Bush administration? Help us discover these unsung heroes and shatter the myth that liberals are the only creative ones. We would be remiss if we didn't take the time to honor the unsung artistic heroes of the outgoing Bush administration and outgoing GOP. And because the GOP is all about counting (certain) votes, Republican Idol counts on your civic participation. You get to vote for the nominees. (All ties will be brought to a supreme artistic council made up of impartial judges like Kid Rock, Kelsey Grammar, Drew Carey, Victoria Jackson, Patricia Heaton, and Hick Hop idol Cowboy Troy.)

Bush Will Be Remembered for His Rule of Law, Sense of Justice, and Clemency (for Turkeys)

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying
by Katie Halper

On Thanksgiving, The Dallas Cowboys beat the Seattle Seahawks 34 to 9. And the day before, when Bush spared two innocent lives, he achieved his own victory of 16 to 1. When Bush pardoned Pumpkin AND Pecan, who were about to meet the same fate as the turkeys televised behind Sarah Palin, he could boast of having 16 presidential poultry pardons under his belt. But Bush has also compassionately conserved human life, once. During his six-year governorship and eight-year presidency, Bush has pardoned one death row inmate, denied clemency over 50 times, and signed death warrants for 155 people, many of whom were innocent, mentally retarded, juveniles, recipients of unfair trials, and/or represented by incompetent and often narcoleptic lawyers.

Milk, The Biopic and The Lesson

Screening Liberally Big Picture
by Josh Bolotsky

We know what's going to happen almost from the very beginning, because the film tells us: Dianne Feinstein, long before she becomes a Senator, back when she was President of the Board of Supervisors for San Francisco, will speak at a press conference on November 27th, 1978, and announce that City Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man in the United States elected to a major public office, has been shot and killed by former City Supervisor Dan White, along with the Mayor, George Moscone. The crowd moans in shock, disbelief, anger. Cameras flash. This use of archival footage occurs maybe 90 seconds into Gus Van Sant's "Milk," and it's followed by a shot of Milk himself (Sean Penn), maybe a week before the shootings, sitting at his kitchen table alone, recording a tape to be played in the event of his assassination. Cue title card.

"Milk" somehow manages to balance the needs of two very different films for its running time. It is, first of all, an absolutely superb biopic which allows us to feel like we knew Harvey on a first-name basis, helps us to understand what others found so important about him and his work beyond the permanently-earned title of First Openly Gay Office Holder; and a very different film, a meditation on the responsibility activists have to the people who elevated them to position of influence, whether it be via the ballot box, the work of a concerned group of citizens or just the readers of a blog community.

The New Gulf War Syndrome

Reading Liberally Page Turner
by Nora Eisenberg

(We're honored that Nora Eisenberg, longtime friend of Living Liberally, award-winning novelist, and author of the soon to be published When You Come Home (Curbstone Press), the first American novel about the 1991 Gulf War and Gulf War illness, has allowed us to publish this special Veteran's Day post.)

What does a war injury look like? In the case of Iraq, we tend to picture veterans bravely getting on with their lives with the help of steel legs or computerised limbs. Trauma injuries are certainly the most visible of health problems – the ones that grab our attention. A campaign ad for congressman Tom Udall featured an Iraq war veteran who had survived a shot to his head. Speaking through the computer that now substitutes for his voice, Sergeant Erik Schei extols the top-notch care that saved his life.

As politicians argue about healthcare for veterans, it is generally people like Sgt Schei that they have in mind, men and women torn apart by a bullet or bomb. And of course, these Iraq war veterans must receive the best care available for such complex and catastrophic injuries.

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