Drinking Liberally Blog

2007: Year-in-Review or Year-of-Reruns?

Bush scored record unpopularity
yet stayed the course in Iraq,
& vetoed children's healthcare...twice

The GOP lost Congress but kept the power
to block the restoration of Habeas Corpus
& to keep spying on the American people.

The Conservatives proved a failure
yet the new AG won't condemn torture
& we nearly got tricked into war in Iran.

It must be the Writers' strike...
2007 was a rerun of right-wing flops
& a highlight reel of Bush's failures...
hopefully 2008 will feature new scripts.

And there were a few changes -- this time
Gore won something the Court couldn't take
...& Cheney didn't shoot anyone in the face.

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

A Progressive Victory?...It's a Christmas Miracle!

Verizon & AT&T wanted retroactive immunity
but instead they got a lump of coal in their stocking.
That's what they get for being naughty, not nice.

The Senate Dems pulled a Scrooge:
nearly screwing over the little guy for the rich,
but having a change of heart just in time.

And though Chris Dodd didn't come down a chimney
he deserves milk 'n cookies from us all
for a Christmas miracle: a progressive victory!
(...at least for now...)

We always knew this was a liberal holiday:
after all, what right-winger ever cared about
a poor Middle Eastern boy with an unwed mom?

Celebrate Santa Dodd & the seasonal spirit
with like-minded, left-leaners & libations
at your local progressive social club.

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

(And if you're in NYC, join us for the
5th Annual Drinking Liberally Holiday Party:
Thursday, Dec 20th -- 7:30pm onward
Rudy's - 9th Ave btw 44th & 45th
[backyard, in the HEATED tent]
We'll pour your first beer for the first hour free!

Grinches who have changed course are welcome
...Bushes who stay the course can stay home.)

It's The Giving Season...& Dems Are Giving It All Away

The American people gave the Dems Congress
in order to stop the war...but after a year,
of funding the war & not changing course,
Dems are close to giving the Iraq issue away.

AT&T & Verizon gave Bush illegal help
to spy on the American people...
& now Senate Dems are considering
giving those phone companies amnesty.

The Dems gave Mukasey the green light,
though he's still fuzzy on "torture,"
& gave the helm of the CIA to Hayden,
who admits they destroyed crucial tapes.

...Yet Dems give them both free passes.

It must be the holidays, "the giving season"
...because Dems are giving it all away.
What'll they give next: The White House?

Fortunately, the GOP's cast of clowns
is working just as hard to give that back.

Give yourself a night of cheers & beers
as you lift your glass & your spirits
at your local progressive social club.

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

Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth: Outcrafting the Opposition

Bill O'Reilly claims he has beaten back the dark forces that declared war on Christmas. Despite his best efforts, he may be surprised to find what a pack of proven progressives are saying about "his" holiday.

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Witness the gathering of Crafting Liberally that took place last Sunday in New York. Far from the heathen celebration you might imagine among self-identified liberals getting in touch with their handiwork, these quilters, jewelers and assorted other crafters were looking forward to Christmas. Lisa, teaching the art of folding an origami crane, even suggested using her creations as tree ornaments.

Is it any surprise that liberals enjoy the Christmas season? Giving, sharing...changing course (Scrooge), finding one's heart (the Grinch) -- lessons Bush and Cheney would benefit from.

And after all, what neocon ever gave a damn for a Middle Eastern boy born to a poor unwed mother?

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Liberals should never run from Christmas just because O'Reilly wants to claim it. This season is too full of strong symbols to cede to the other side.

But we don't need to out-argue him...we just need to out-craft him.

On this last night of Channukah, and in the full swing of the seasonal spirit, Happy Holidays.

Bush Shouts "Iran!"...Has He Ever Said "I Read"?

NIE findings say no imminent nuclear threat,
yet the President continues the drumbeat:
"Iran. Iran. Iran."

As Americans show outrage at the idea
of a never-ending Occupation of Iraq,
Bush changes the topic: "Iran. Iran. Iran."

And as the war & economy make him
one of the least popular Presidents ever,
W. obsessively continues: "Iran. Iran. Iran."

Maybe he's changing the subject...
or maybe he's describing his workout schedule.

Too bad when asked about the NIE report,
he couldn't have simply said, "I read."

Talk about what makes you different than W
-- your politics, ideas & that you read --
as you share your views and some booze.
with your local progressive social club.

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

Dodd & the Drinkers of Des Moines

One of DL's most dynamic chapters is the Des Moines, Iowa group that hosted our National Conference and has been visited by Governor Bill Richardson. So it's not surprising to us that another candidate will be meeting with some of its members.

Chris Dodd is going to Cup O' Kyptonite, a coffee and comic book shop owned by one of the DL regulars, for a little caffeinated caucusing tonight.

And, in anticipation, some of the Iowans put together a video:

Being a Republican's Just No Damn Fun

GOP hopefuls attack each other
for opposing waterboarding, supporting gays,
& letting immigrant children attend school.

Bush's Australian ally gets booted out of office
& his Pakistani pal gives up his military post,
leaving W with as few friends globally
as he has right here at home.

Trent Lott resigns to become a lobbyist
...because it's better than being a GOP Senator.

And Bush had to welcome Gore to the White House.

Being a Republican's just no damn fun.

Well, living in fear, hating Hollywood
& having no gay or black friends
...it just doesn't sound very fun.

...which makes it a very fun time
to share your views & a little booze
at your local progressive social club.

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

What We're Thankful For

Drinking Liberally is thankful for the dynamic network of volunteer hosts around the country who have led chapters, built communities and turned this into a national phenomenon.

So it tickles us to know that they are thankful for DL as well. As John from Addison, Texas, wrote on The Texas Blue:

Being a chapter leader expanded my friend base, as well as political connections. It is also what drew me into the Denton County Democratic Party. Since then I have lead party committees, attended trainings, lead trainings, and even run for political office. If not for Drinking Liberally, and drinking... liberally... I may not have done these things. I may have still been sitting here stewing in my hate of all things George W. Bush and not having an effective outlet. Groups like Drinking Liberally provide an outlet for grassroots change.

Check out the rest of his post...and find something you will be thankful for at a chapter near you.

Fifty Two Weeks

Fifty-two Tuesdays from today, Americans will go to the polls.  As the campaigns and other big institutional players spend hundreds of millions to get us to vote, there are lessons from past cycles that we hope they keep in mind:  that they don't need to reinvent the wheel, that effective electoral initiatives should support lasting infrastructure and...in the Living Liberally spirit...that some of the best ways to get people to vote are social.

Below are a few projects that got it right.  These programs in particular aren't necessarily the right ones for 2008, but they each had elements that make voter engagement and turnout effective, lasting and fun.

I'd also love to hear projects you all recommend that aren't included below.

Democracy in the Park - In 2004, a New York-based group realized that phonebanking didn't have to take place in a union hall or law office...you could organize your own call-in campaign from your cell phone.  Volunteers used weekend minutes as they hung out in Central Park.  It expanded, to include Democracy in the Quad (the campus version).  The positive energy generated from these sessions kept volunteers involved after the '04 race, as Democracy in the Park joined New York's ACT-Now, which still continues to mobilize activists (unlike ACT, the national group from which ACT-Now originally took its name, which disappeared soon after the election).

When MoveOn created a brilliant tool to allow anyone to phonebank from their own phone in 2006, they did another smart move:  they empowered anyone to host Calls for Change house parties.  While the freedom to phone voters on your own time is great, the opportunity to do so in the company of others helps commit you further.  Nothing wrong with a little positive re-enforcement and maybe some snacks while you work.

TheBallot.org - Just as ActBlue has allowed anyone to become a fundraiser, this program allows anyone to become a vote-getter -- giving you the tools to create your own voter guide.  Created by the League of Young Voters, it's a fun idea -- in San Francisco yesterday, someone handed me their personalized ballot for today's city elections and initiatives.  When there's a candidate or issue the major organizations are overlooking, a passionate individual can create her own guide...and help educate friends along the way.  (You can also find other guides that folks have created on the site).  When it comes to voting, peer encouragement goes a long way.  And shaping the voter guides shouldn't be left to large advocacy organizations and political clubs anymore.

It's a project that hasn't been too widely used yet, but has great growth potential.  And hey, it told me why Prop A is good and Prop H is bad in today's election.

Parties at the Polls - Community-oriented celebrations can boost voter turnout.  That's the concept behind this project that Working Assets (now CREDO Action) helped pilot last year, which organized social events with food, entertainment, guest speakers and kids games near polling stations on Election Day.  The idea is to draw people out, create a positive environment around the election and give them every incentive to vote.

In test precincts, it has worked, boosting turnout among unlikely voters and giving community groups a non-partisan way of engaging in Election Day.  If you want to poke around at the resources and rationale behind last year's pilot program, check out the 2006 site.

Do More Than Vote - Volunteering needs to be easy.  Furthermore, with so many organizations out there doing great work, sometimes the best thing you can do is point people to the right outlet rather than creating a new structure yourself.  That philosophy powered this simple, direct menu of volunteering opportunities that pointed you directly to campaigns and organizations in your area.  In the final days of the '06 race (which the website still shows), the effort was to plug people into field operations.  But throughout the summer and fall of '06, each page promoted a range of ways to get involved:  whether you had one hour (Calls for Change), one evening (a local phonebank), one weekend day (trips to contested areas) or longer, there were ways you could Do More Than Vote.

I was directly involved in DMTV and the Poll Parties, and big fans of the other programs.  All of them got it right.  Whether they should be created again for '08 is a separate question, but empowering individuals, making volunteerism fun and easy, and supporting infrastructure that will last beyond 52 weeks from now should be priorities for everyone.

So go ahead and use these ideas.  Bring them to your effort, your campaign.  Let's make this election year work for the progressive movement.

Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth: One Stitch at a Time

by Justin Krebs

Pick up your knitting needles and let's get political.

If that command sounds to you as though it suffers from multiple-personality disorder, than you might not want to check out Crafting Liberally, the newest project of Living Liberally, which debuts Sunday afternoon in New York City.

If, on the other hand, you want to get crafty with your comrades, stitch together some solid progressive narratives, and prove that liberals aren't afraid to work with their hands, then welcome to the club.

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We could get all high-minded and make some claim that Crafting Liberally is an homage to Betsy Ross, but we're actually just taking a community-building phenomenon that's already happening around the country and crafting a political identity around it.  To cite just one well-known example, the Stich-n-Bitch network, which hosts groups around the world, is just one reminder that people want to be social.  People are already gathering as they work on ther quilts and their scrapbooks...because working together is better than working alone.

While we'll spare you the obvious clever lines about quilts and scrapbooks as metaphors for America, there is something truly progressive about these groups.  It's not just that company is nice (though it is) - you learn from your peers, share tips and resources and help reaffirm for each other that this activity is an important part of your life.

And if we believe that a progressive agenda will move forward when our politics are fully integrated into our lives, then we need to bring liberal conversations not just to blogs and bars...but to sewing circles as well.

This is the first gathering, organized by New York activist (and crafter!) Claire Silberman...but who knows how else it will grow?  We'd love to hear your ideas on what other crafts we want to be sure to include, what other activities we should infiltrate with liberal charm, and what you plan on making at the first CL meeting.

Now get out there and start promoting democracy...one stitch at a time.