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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.

Nation Guide: Report From Chicago

On a bitter cold February night, close to 100 Chicago area liberals braved the weather to attend “The Nation Guide To Living Liberally”, a night of comedy, music, and guest speakers celebrating liberalism in Chicago and the release of “The Nation’s Guide To The Nation”.

The event, hosted by Chicago’s Drinking Liberally and Laughing Liberally Local 312 took place at the fabulous No Exit Café in Roger’s Park, which is featured in the Nation Guide along with it’s sister establishment, the Heartland Café. Another business featured in the Nation Guide, local book store Quimby's, was on hand to sell copies of the book.

The night featured stand-up comedy from the hysterical James Fritz and Carrie Callahan. The Accountants of Homeland Security, Chicago's Laughing Liberally Local 312, performed sketches including one envisioning a paranoid George W. Bush, six months from today, having completely fallen off the wagon and fearing prosecution for his war crimes.

"Nixonland" author and historian Rick Perlstein gave a talk on Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood worthy of any stand-up comedian. Tracy Van Slyke of the Media Consortium gave an fascinating speech on the new progressive media landscape.

Songwriter Lauren Maul serenaded the crowd with hysterical songs about the Wall Street bailout and shopping at Wal-mart.

And finally, yours truly, Matthew Filipowicz, had the honor of performing and screening some of my Headzup political cartoons.

After the show, as the audience and performers drank, mingled and talked politics, author, labor lawyer and IL-5th Congressional Candidate Tom Geoghegan stopped by to chat with all of us.

All in all, the night completely accomplished what Living Liberally and "The Nation Guide To The Nation" set out to do. It provided an opportunity for liberals from different backgrounds to connect with each other. To bring politics into their everyday lives. And to have a great time while they do it. Don't believe me? Take a look at the pictures and tell me that doesn't look like fun.

Creating a Good Villain

Every battle needs a good villain. Not sure if that's a line out of a comic book, or the advice Matt Stoller has often offered on these pages, but it's true.

There's some healthy debate about whether Rush is the right villain or the wrong target. Brave New Films has done a great job their War on Greed to make the likes of Henry Kravis into a known nemesis. And in New York, the proponents for Fair Share Tax Reform just realized: why create a villain, if the entertainment industry's already done it for them.

Enter Monty Burns from the Simpsons, a no-goodnik we love to hate, and the new face of the plutocrats looking to sink New York's working class.

In anticipation of a major rally on Thursday, the Working Families Party -- leaders of the Fair Share push -- have turned to satire. They've circulated a letter from Homer's boss to his fellow fatcats. Who wants to be on the side of Mr. Burns? Well, except for Smithers, of course.

The Fair Share advocates are targeting the Governor, but want to make an ally out of him, not an enemy. So they co-opted a more useful villain -- after all, would Paterson rather side with the owner of a nuclear power plant or with schools, hospitals and mass transit?

If you're in NYC, check out the rally -- and below, you can see the whole letter.

Comedian Rick Perlstein?

We're all big fans of Rick Perlstein, and know him best for Before the Storm and Nixonland.

So I was surprised to read in Time Out Chicago's coverage of this Saturday's "Nation Guide to the Nation" event:

Each Laughing Liberally show mixes stand-up with musical numbers and political discussion, plus other entertainments. This weekend, the free event includes appearances by comics Rick Perlstein, James Fritz and Carrie Callahan


Rick, is the march of right-wing institution-building that realigned our country really that funny?

The magazine's mistake is understandable because people don't think of history and comedy going hand-in-hand. But it's that kind of cultural blend that will be the recipe for this Saturday's event, dubbed "The Nation Guide to Living Liberally," a joint-venture promoting The Nation's handbook to liberal hotspots and hide-aways around the country, hosted by Chicago's Drinking Liberally chapter and Laughing Liberally affiliate, the Accountants of Homeland Security. Tracy Van Slyke of the Media Consortium will also be speaking, and there will be comedy, music and videos.

A bit of a jumble of elements, huh? Well, that's kind of the point. The Nation Guide spans from independent radio and bookstores to film festivals and historic trails to environmentally-friendly breweries. And Living Liberally reaches from scruptious suppers to meetups for religious progressives. Liberal culture isn't just one thing or another -- it's not just a peace group or just a independent weekly -- it's an entire lifestyle that offers something for everyone.

So check out the event. Check out the video of Dick Cheney promoting the book (created by the event's organizer Matt Filipowicz). Oh, and check out Perlstein's punchlines.

"So, a Southern Strategy walked into a bar..."

When Comedians Out-Class Commentators

We're regularly reminded by The Daily Show that comedians can make better journalists than newscasters.

This morning's clip on ABC, in which Laughing Liberally's Baratunde Thurston spent 5 minutes discussing the President's address, demonstrated that comedians can offer more serious commentary than most pundits as well.

Check it out.

Baratunde spoke about the satisfaction of having a President who focused on the economy, energy and healthcare rather than human-animal hybrids.

When the anchor asked him to tease Speaker Pelosi's outfit, he turned it around to how proud she seemed. When the anchor wanted to focus on the "bromance" between the President and VP, Baratunde instead talked about their working relationship to get the job done. And when she gave him an open shot to tease Governor Jindal, he took a serious moment about the amazement that the GOP would hold up Katrina as an example of too much government help.

Then he said Jindal sounded like he was speaking to 5-year-olds.

Baratunde hit a great blend of entertaining and relevant, something our news coverage sometimes misses (the latter, that is).

With all the talk about MSNBC's 10pm slot, maybe Baratunde's name should be entered into the mix.

The Stimulus Package and Republican Hypocrisy

by Michael Hayne, Laughing Liberally Morristown

Despite stiff opposition (or is it opposition from stiffs) from Senate and House Republicans, the $787bn stimulus package passed and was just signed by President Obama (love writing that) earlier today. Now, the entire GOP vehemently opposed this package on grounds that it was loaded with unnecessary spending on pet projects, resulting in many changes to accommodate them. I will readily admit that there were some expensive and unnecessary spending provisions in the original bill. But I would be criminally insane to believe republicans posturing when they ordered vast amounts of spending on pork back in 2005.

With a little research and a lot of red bull, I was able to find some unrelated details on then House majority leader Tom Delay and his fellow Republicans history of diverting federal monies to ridiculous special projects in order to ensure re-election.

$25,000 to study Mariachi music in Nevada (To be fair, Mariachi is known to improve a golf swing.)

$1.5 million for an Alaskan bus stop with heated sidewalks and electronic signs
(To pick up a guy and his caribou?)

$75,000 set aside for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wisconsin( that's 75,000 dollars for something that ulitmtaely winds up in Dick Cheney's shredder.)

$100,000 for a film festival in Rochester, New York.(Since when does a Republican appropriate money for something of aesthetic value?)

$50 million for an indoor rainforest in Iowa.(I guess they figured "we already slashed the original one..." )

$18,000 for a smoking booth at a private New Jersey airport.(Okay, this one actually makes sense [insert smoker's cough].)

$200,000 for a peanut festival in Alabama.(for all those herds of elephants in Alabama, perhaps?)

$200 million to build a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska to a nearby island with 50 inhabitants better known as "the bridge to nowhere".(Apparently, constructing a bridge that connects RNC Headquarters to the Cayman Islands proved to be too costly.)

Laughing Liberally Lab February 4th

Here are some photos from last night's Laughing Liberally show at The Lab. I have never been to a comedy show before, and I was pleasantly surprised by the chuckles I shared with the rest of the audience. Seven great liberal comedians presented their final views of the Bush administration and their take on President Obama's (I still love typing that) first few weeks. Take a gander at the photos and come to our upcoming events if you do not already.

Harry Terjanian

Harry Terjanian

More Photos after the jump.

Get Your Bush Out

Bush still makes us laugh. A sad laugh. Especially as this video relates to the culture of grab-what-you-can greed he instilled in the corporate cronies who are still plaguing and bankrupting us.

But it's still funny:

God Luv Ya, G. Dub'ya..! ~ director's cut

It was also funny when this song was sung by gophers:

Bitchin' Bush Ice Cream Flavors

Jay Hazen sent us this list of flavor names supposedly submitted to Ben & Jerry's for a Bush themed ice cream. Comment with your favorite one or submit your own!

- Grape Depression

- The Housing Crunch

- Abu Grape

- Cluster Fudge

- Nut'n Accomplished

- Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfu***r... Swirl

- Iraqi Road

- Chock 'n Awe

- WireTapioca

- Impeach Cobbler

- Guantanmallow

- imPeachmint

- Heck of a Job, Brownie!

- Neocon Politan

- RockyRoad to Fascism

- The Reese's-cession

- Cookie D'oh!

- Nougalar Proliferation

- Death by Chocolate... and Torture

- Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream

- Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder

- Credit Crunch

- Mission Pecanplished

- Country Pumpkin

- Chunky Monkey in Chief

- WMDelicious

- Chocolate Chimp

- Bloody Sundae

- Caramel Preemptive Stripe

- I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands . . . with nuts