Justin Krebs's blog

Making Your Vote Count More

In June, after Senator Obama disappointed me with his FISA vote, I told someone who had come to Drinking Liberally to promote a fundraiser that I was going to withhold my donation. It was my own way to signal that I disagreed with the candidate I would ultimately vote for anyway.

Hearing the Obama campaign raised $150 million last month may make me wonder whether my deferred $25 made a difference. But we do have to find ways to pressure Obama, his advisors (and, hopefully, his administration) if we want to push a progressive agenda. As David Sirota asked earlier today, "If not now, when?" -- when can we challenge Obama, who we support for President, to live up to our standards?

In New York State, there's one good answer: you can send that message by voting for Obama on the Working Families Party Line.

Their "Vote Change Like You Mean It" campaign allows you to add your vote to the Obama total, but also send a message that you believe in higher wages, expanded healthcare and progressive tax structure (and right now they are the leading voice against Bloomberg's power grab)...and at the same time you can increase the power base of a group that will scare safe, cautious Dems on the state level.

The WFP is a progressive third party in a state that allows fusion voting -- i.e., a candidate endorsed on more than one line receives the sum of each in his or her vote total. They can set higher standards for candidates to sign on to, and they can apply different pressure on people in office.

Largely, they cross-endorse Dems (although a WFP candidate did win a Council race over a Democrat a couple years ago)...but how they decide who gets the benefit of their tremendous field operation is one of their leverage points. You have to earn their canvass support, which has helped win Congressional and State Senate races as well.

This year, New York will see huge turnout. If people vote on the WFP line, it tells Obama something about your values. It also helps the WFP increase its influence in subsequent elections where, on downticket races, they can have even more impact.

They are not a perfect organization (many of us disagreed with their strategy to support incumbent Sheldon Silver over Paul Newell -- but we'll give them a year to prove that strategy was wise), but they are making a real run at shaking up Democratic politics.

And in a year when my $25 protest against FISA may not be heard so loudly, at least there's a way to continue my challenge at the ballot box.

Screening Towards Victory

Sometimes defeat is victory.

That will be the story when California's vile Proposition 8 gets defeated, leaving marriage equality in place in that state.

The folks on No On 8 are working hard to promote awareness of why Prop 8 is such a bad idea. But a political campaign isn't the only way to tell a story.

Films like Freeheld -- which tells the story of a police officer dying of cancer and her partner being denied benefits because they are the same sex -- help. It won the Academy Award, and now screenings around the country are calling attention to discriminatory laws and how they affect people in real ways.

San Francisco's Screening Liberally hosted a showing of Freeheld this weekend. Check out the trailer.

Discussing this film is one more way to remind people to vote No On 8.

Lee Camp on Good Morning America

Laughing Liberally regular Lee Camp got a chance to say good morning and tell America what he thought about the candidates' political performances:

Report from PA: Phone Calls & Meat Balls

I spent the day campaigning with the Obama team in Easton, Pennsylvania, one of thee three cities that make up the Lehigh Valley. Obama's campaign has been moving staff into PA -- making sure this state, which often boasts results closer than polls predicted, stays in the Democratic column.

I wasn't here with Drinking Liberally; I was here with the Krebs family, and scores of other New Yorkers who bused in to knock on doors. When the sun went down, we didn't go home -- we went to the phones -- in the sweet and photogenic storefront that hosts Obama's Easton operation.

What keeps this place going is a core of team members -- staff, fulltime volunteers, a 13-year-old kid that made calls next to me -- and, the secret to every good operation, plenty of food.

The staging area for canvassing was filled with sandwiches, birthday cake and hot coffee. And the office at night shows that munches together stays longer.

In particular, Pearl made delicious meatballs. Not to be confused with Pearl who is letting us crash at her home, with her husband Jonathan, the most welcoming hosts imaginable.

Today, we heard frustrating comments: one woman who heard the rumor that Barack Obama hadn't invited any white people to his wedding; men who slammed the door on us before we could talk to their wives; folks who told us there was no difference between the candidates.

But we also met people like a libertarian who was going to vote Obama instead of Bob Barr because of how scared he was of McCain; the children who shouted "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!" as we approached; to the woman who answered the door": "The Jesus people just came by and we ducked; when we saw you, I told the kids it was safe."

We also met people like Russ (pictured in the office), the fulltime volunteer who greeted us when we arrived yesterday, and was still there when I left at 9:30pm tonight.

The energy here is good. People are passionate. The operation is impressive. We were told that if we hit the phones -- after a 9 hour day of walking the turf) -- we could break 2,000 calls. Then they upped the number to 2,500, then 2,750.

When you have a goal, you work towards it; when you have a team, you stay energized; when you throw yourself into it, anything is possible.

Here's how the day ended up...

...let's see if this is the story that will get repeated daily around the country until November 4th.

Airing Our Grievances With Bloomberg

In New York City, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is trying to extend term limits so he can keep his job...but despite his high popularity, he doesn't want to let the public have a say in this decision.

We at Drinking Liberally don't endorse candidates -- but we do support democratic processes. And we kind of get worried when billionaires change the rules.

We've been voicing our concerns; last night, during the Presidential debate, the WFP aired our concerns on TV:

Check out "It's Our Decision" to see where the City Council Members stand. If you're not in NY, you may be wondering, "Why do I care?" Well, you've seen the wealthy try to circumvent the law before -- often, that's where lobbyists come into play. This is part of that same battle.

McCain's Just Full of Hot Ayers

Though he's attended ACORN events in the past,
McCain now slings mud at them & Obama...
instead of talking about the poor & working-class issues
their represent in their community organizing.

While Freddie & Fannie were paying his campaign manager,
McCain was railing against Obama's "connections" with them,
...instead of addressing the crisis they were part of.

He claims he doesn't care about "a washed-up terrorist,"
but McCain's campaign keeps the Ayers accusations central
...even though Americans have real problems to face.

Americans have turned against McCain's attacks...
they've come to realize he's just full of hot Ayers.

Share a real discussion, a big dream & a liberal drink
as we count down the weeks to Election Day
in the company of our local progressive social club.

DRINKING LIBERALLY
Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Fight Against Those Blue State Blues

"My vote doesn't matter, I'm in a blue state." I hate when people say that. Because your vote always matters. And in some states -- like California -- there's more than just the Presidential election at stake.

California voters are being asked to repeal the rights of same-sex couples to marry. We shouldn't be telling people how to love, and we REALLY shouldn't be stripping away rights that have already been granted. But it's closer than you'd think -- in part because a lot of wealthy right-wingers are against happiness...and in part because a lot of goodwilled left-leaners don't realize they have a real fight on their hands.

People, don't get complacent. You have to get out there and Vote No On Proposition 8. This one won't win on its own.

That's why one of our Living Liberally Leaders -- Greg Rae -- picked up and headed out to California to help out...to give his time, energy and skills to the campaign. We can all give too: by reaching out to Californians and reminding them that their vote counts.

TWiB #10

Elon is at it again -- telling you why the debates sucked, McCain sucks more and some black dude sucks the most.

Pulling the Left Lever

We like the Working Families Party.

Now, hold on: Living Liberally is a non-endorsing organization. That's true. We don't endorse any Presidential candidate, and party or any candidates at other levels.

But when we see something creative that works, we praise it.

The Working Families Party saw a problem in New York: many Democrats weren't being particularly progressive. So they took advantage of NY law that allows candidates to run on multiple party lines and receive the cumulative votes of those parties. And they started demanding candidates act progressive to get their endorsement.

This has led to some progressive victories; it's led to some otherwise stagnant folks taking bolder stances and facing real challenges; and this year, it will allow some New Yorkers to "Vote Change Like You Mean It."

You see, they are asking New Yorkers to vote for Obama on their line -- and The Nation has now endorsed this plan. This way folks who are disgruntled with Obama's "post-partisan" centrism and caution can elect him while still sending a signal that they want more.

Vote for whoever you want this election. But recognize the creativity and potential effectiveness of this move. And, if you're on the other side of the aisle, steal their idea; create a party of your own; and tell candidates they should never take anyone for granted.

Billionaires for Billionaires


Imagine if affairs in Iraq took a negative turn, or -- the worst case scenario -- there was a threat, or even attack, here at home, and President Bush announced that since he's the best "War President" we've got, he thought we should postpone the elections until things got better.

What would we do? We'd laugh him out of office faster than New Yorkers turned on "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani, when he suggested delaying the '01 elections shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Why then are so many New Yorkers cool with Billionaire Bloomberg's current power grab? Defying a twice-passed popular referendum establishing term limits; buying off the past chief supporter of term limits by offering him a seat on the reform committee; co-opting legislative support from a City Council that wants to keep their own jobs; and, oh yeah, claiming that it's because in these economic times, he is who we need.

If Bloomberg and his allies made an honest argument against term limits, that would be one thing; but to claim that this crisis compels them to serve is absurd. And...it required an absurd response.

That's why we're glad to see the Billionaires for Bush (and creators of Lobbyists for McCain) getting into the action: Billionaires for Bloomberg. They joined Council Speaker Christine Quinn (at a press conference her own Democratic colleagues didn't attend) to remind the world that billionaires are in favor of giving Bloomberg what he wants...and, through the laughter, challenging us to realize maybe it's not in all of our best interests.

Bloomberg is popular and many people may want him to keep serving; but City Council overturning a popular referendum, based on pretty thin, disingenuous arguments, isn't the way to do it. And sometimes it takes humor to cut through the groupthink.

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