Justin Krebs's blog

Taking OUT The System


My parents kind of get what I do. They have a sense of what blogs are and how they interact with the larger world of politics, though they don't read blogs (and definitely don't have user accounts). They have a sense, gleaned from the occasional New York Times article or conversation with one of my peers, that technology is tearing down barriers. But they probably haven't heard or used the term "gatekeeper" very often.

So Markos, thank you for writing a book for them.

Markos's new work, Taking On the System, is an exploration of how all of us have just been handed power...if we decide to grab hold. We can change media narrative by becoming our own media through blogging. We can become our own campaigns with simple cameras and free video hosting sites.

And it's not just in politics. Markos quite consciously weaves stories of other industries, most notably the music business, among his anecdotes from Senate campaigns, the anti-war movement, immigration rallies and other political efforts. In doing so, he creates an argument that doesn't just appeal to the political junkie but to anyone who wants to understand entrepreneurship, idea-generation and anti-authoritarianism in the digital era. He also does it in a well-written, fun, and at-times inspirational style that is full of examples and lessons, which are helpfully broken down into "rules."

My parents will understand the progressive movement -- and these times -- much better when they read it.

But it's not only aimed at the newcomer to these discussions. Marching through experiences from '06 -- including the Webb, Tester and Lamont campaigns -- and through other achievements of the Left -- changing the perception of Fox News -- Markos provides activists with a compelling narrative that suggests we are accomplishing things.

Sometimes in this line of work, that affirmation is important.

He also doesn't shy away from challenging us. Markos describes why Cindy Sheehan's heart-felt, authentic (and media-friendly) protest in Crawford was more effective than a half-million protestors in the streets in affecting the coverage of the anti-war effort (he criticizes the large-scale marches for being unoriginal, off-message and somewhat disorganized -- compared with the very effective, surprising and disciplined immigration marches).

He then turns on Sheehan, arguing that she lessened her impact as she veered onto other topics, changed her demeanor in the company of flashier activist groups and -- Markos argues -- allowed herself to be used...by players ranging from Hugo Chavez to Code Pink.

I instinctively stand to Sheehan's defense and thus found this section provocative. Markos wasn't out to tell me what I already believed -- he was willing to spark an argument. In the context of his "rules for radical change," he lays our a very compelling case that Sheehan did squander her capital. That's not to say that she didn't have the right to speak out on other issues as an individual; but as a symbol -- and so much of how we affect the world is through symbols -- she lost her way.

She has reason to be disappointed in Democrats, I believe...but I also came away agreeing with Markos that she's not as effectively focusing that frustration as she did her grief and anger in the summer of '05.

But this book -- and this review -- is not about Cindy Sheehan. Rather, I want to point out that Markos is at his best when he's unapologetically willing to stir up disagreement, but staking out an argument and sticking with it -- whether it's his arguments against the right-wing, his debates with other Lefties, or his battle against the "gatekeepers" throughout this book.

One of his teachings (not to make him sound too Jedi Master-esque) is to "target your enemy." If the title of his book doesn't tell you that the "System" is that enemy, then his frequent references to bypassing, influencing and "crushing" the gatekeepers make it clear who he stands against: those who would use their authority to limit participation, squelch dialogue, defund creativity and stand in the way of progress.

With the success of DailyKos, he has bypassed some gatekeepers. With the Penguin Press publication of Taking On the System, he has influenced others.

Now...let's get back to the crushing.

Markos will be speaking at the Living Liberally Convention Watch Party on Thursday, September 4th, the evening of John McCain's address -- at The Tank @ DCTV, 87 Lafayette Street, in Manhattan.

His book will also be available in September through the Progressive Book Club -- get your first 3 books for $1 each when you become a member.

They're All Better Than Dick Cheney

Obama-Biden? The Long-Talk Express
would run the "Straight Talk" off the road
...if McCain doesn't do it on his own first.

Obama-Sebelius? Popular in the heartland,
suddenly, nothing's the matter with Kansas anymore.

Obama-Bayh? Dems would get to ask McCain
"Hoosier Daddy now?" as Indiana goes blue.

Obama-Kaine? Virginia is for lovers,
& would not be for grumpy old conservatives.

Obama-Dodd? His silver hair's
more Presidential than McCain's.

Obama-Clinton? Watch right-wing heads explode.
Obama-Clark? McCain would get shot down again.
Obama-Gore? The world would let us rule them all.

And for those of you worried about Obama's pick:
anyone of them is better than Dick Cheney.

Celebrate the pick or keep speculating
as we drink, discuss, debate & dream
at your local progressive social club.

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

Why Maddow Matters

Why are we all so excited about Rachel Maddow? News of her being tapped for own MSNBC program has excited the progressive grassroots/netroots, leading Living Liberally's blog to be "All Maddow, All the Time" today in her honor.

So what's the big deal?

Well, first of all, Maddow demonstrations that someone can graduate from the world of "progressive media" into a role in the "mainstream" media. People across the country know Maddow -- if not from her stints on Air America, then from her confrontations with Pat Buchanan and take-down Joe Scarborough. She has become a brand, a recognizable name and face, and -- according to that ultimate arbiter, the bottom-line of business-driven MSNBC -- a bankable commodity.

This is a great success for progressive media, and the components of it that had promoted Maddow at different parts in her career. And it's a signal to other smart, funny, liberal personalities that there is an avenue to advance their careers and their ideas.

Second, Maddow is a team player. She respects and engages the progressive movement. We, at Living Liberally, experienced that friendship when she wrote a guest post for Screening Liberally on her recommended weekend video rentals, and when she joined us for our 5th Anniversary party in May.

When we've asked her to participate, she's participated. That's a great quality.

And finally, it a strong, left-leaning voice will reach the homes of many more Americans. Yes, there are satiric news programs that do a great job challenging right-wing dominance, and some broadcasters like Keith Olbermann who challenge the administration, but we're still short on proud progressive personalities in the spotlight. The right has them. Now we have one more too.

Part of building a progressive movement is ensuring there are structures that recognize and promote talent: whether candidates, organizers or commentators. Maddow's next move shows that some of these structures are in place...we need to keep making them work.

And we need to tune in to MSNBC on Monday, September 8th at 9pm to help keep Maddow on the air.

Congratulations.

Convention Events: Denver, Twin Cities, NYC

We'll be hosting daily events at the DNC in Denver, the RNC in the Twin Cities, plus 8 nights of activity in NYC. It's time you start Drinking Liberally.

Convention Watch - NYC

Much more on this over the next week, but know that there will be a place in NYC for you to gather during the DNC and RNC.

Check out the complete schedule -- the abbreviated round-up is below:

Free Admission. Cheap Beer. Big Screens. Special Guests. Comedy. Trivia. Prizes. Oh, and Conventions.

Day-By-Day Schedule
All Events FREE; 7-11pm
at The Tank (except where noted)

Mon, Aug 25—Kick-Off Festivities with Laughing Liberally comedy throughout the night
Tues, Aug 26—– Let Your Voice Be Heard – (6pm) Open Mic on your vision for the next Prez streamed to Denver, hosted by the Manhattan Young Dems
Wed, Aug 27— Political Pub Trivia hosted by The Big Quiz Thing's Noah Tarnow
Thurs, Aug 28—Obama's Acceptance speech (and drinking game)

Mon, Sep 1—Bush's Last Stand & Labor Day Barbecue (4-7pm at Rudy's Bar – 9th & 44th)
Tues, Sep 2— Political Pub Trivia, hosted by The Big Quiz Thing's Noah Tarnow
Wed, Sep 3—Laughing Liberally (comedy throughout the night)
Thurs, Sep 4—McCain's Acceptance speech (and drinking game) – with special guest Markos Moulitsas Zuniga founder of Daily Kos, author of "Taking on the System"

Trouble the Water...coming soon

Screening Liberally is proud to announce that we'll be helping promote the film Trouble the Water as it rolls out its release nationwide.

Check out the current dates in NYC, LA & SF -- and more to come -- and return to our Trouble the Water / Screening Liberally page for more updates.

John McCain Must Really Hate the Olympics

McCain's anti-Obama ads show that he sneers
when Americans cheer someone likable & popular
...boy, McCain must hate Michael Phelps.

His international policy is to go-it-alone,
& he scoffed when Germans gathered to support
an American that came in the spirit of peace.
...the torch ceremony must've made him nauseous.

He accuses Obama of elitism, though Obama
worked his way up from a humble background,
while McCain's family got him his placements
...impartial international judges must drive him crazy.

He's against enthusiasm, internationalism & meritocracy
...John McCain must really hate the Olympics.

Or maybe he wishes they were more like the old days
when men competed naked & women stayed home.

Come out to toast the Olympic spirit & global goodwill
& debate whether Obama or Phelps has the bigger fan club
as you share a night & a few drinks with fellow lefties
at your local progressive social club.

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

Anti-Conservation Conservatives & Anti-Rights Right-Wingers

Obama offers a comprehensive energy plan,
& accurately notes keeping tires pumped
saves more than offshore drilling will produce.
The reaction: Conservatives mock conservation.

The Bush team ordered a forged letter
to mislead America into invading Iraq,
deceiving Congress, distorting the press....
In short, Republicans subverted the Republic.

And in a military trial at Guantanamo
secret evidence & closed proceedings
are supposedly the road to justice.
Because the Right-wing opposes Rights.

Anti-conservation conservatives...
anti-rights right-wingers...
anti-Republic Republicans...

At least these lunatics are consistent.

Take a deep breath & enjoy a deep swig
and share deep debate or (light libations)
at your local progressive social club.

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

Joey Cheek, Living His Values

I met Joey Cheek last fall through an event sponsored by the American Democracy Institute (the folks who recently launched "I Vote, You Vote."

This tall, even-tempered, friendly guy seemed to have stature even greater than his height, and I soon learned why:

1. He's an Olympian (gold-medalist, in fact, in speedskating)

2. He's been using his window of celebrity to push for something greater than himself: awareness of Darfur.

Joey had started Team Darfur, an organization that enlisted other Olympians in promoting discussion of the atrocities in Darfur...and implicitly the responsibility of China, this year's host country.

He had donated his gold-medal bonus to the cause; but more impressively, he recognized that fame -- no matter how fleeting -- can be invested...and put to good use.

Well, Joey, you did well. If China is revoking your visa, it means you got to them -- which means you've raised awareness.

Sorry you won't be able to attend the games. But I'm proud to know there are members of the Olympic Team this year who are also members of Team Darfur.

How Will You Celebrate the 47th Birthday of our Would-Be 44th President?

Cake? Sing-a-longs? Champagne?

How do you mark the birthday of a man who would be President?

It's Senator Obama's birthday today. 47. That makes him younger than a lot of things. Most notably John McCain.

And in New York City, we'll be celebrating at The Tank (at its new home -- DCTV -- 87 Lafayette Street between Walker and White) -- with a comedy show in his honor.

Check it out -- join the fun -- and wish him a happy birthday.

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