Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

Change You Can Feel: Air America/The Nation Offer Next Steps for Progressives

The first Friday after Inauguration, I was catching up with a close friend from college. We had planned on watching Inauguration coverage and celebrating together in New York, but at the last minute I decided to go to D.C. and join millions at the National Mall.

“It was so exciting,” I gushed. “I felt such a sense of community and collective joy.” I recapped my day: Struggling through to find a way into the Mall; watching Obama speak to us all on a monitor near the Washington Monument with the Capital Building in the distance. When Senator Feinstein spoke of this transition of power, I cried. Did I believe in democracy again?

I asked my college buddy, who spent the day with her family, what she thought of Obama’s speech.

“I couldn’t bear to watch it.”

When I asked her why, she said: “I want to be hopeful, but I’m afraid.”

I nodded. My own troubling thoughts and feelings had returned as well: Has anything actually changed? Are people energized, or are they exhausted? Does progressive politics stop with Obama’s election?

At last night’s Nation/Air America event, “Change For America? Obama & Progressives After January 20,” I found out what some of the progressive elite think.

To my relief, all of the speakers acknowledged and identified our fears. Obama could fail to meet our soaring expectations. Our goals might be ignored in favor of pressing economic and military concerns. And – perhaps most troubling - the grassroots might be as exhausted as I was on Inauguration Day.

For each fear, they asked us instead to rally to the promise we made ourselves during the campaign: Hope.

Opening remarks were made by co-moderator Mark Green. The 2001 Democratic mayoral candidate for New York City and president of Air America Radio introduced us to the event with some lighthearted jokes, a comparison between Obama and Jed Bartlet of NBC’s The West Wing, and a more serious image: that “the way to keep government upright is to lean on it from all sides.”

After her introduction by Green, Nation editor and co-moderator Katrina vanden Heuvel urged the audience to approach the coming months and years from a bottom-up standpoint: Instead of asking how Obama or his administration are doing, ask “How are we [the people] doing?” This simple shift of focus, she explained, enables us to set the terms of the debate and define the new Center, rather than allowing the government to do so.

Retaking the podium, Green encouraged us to think of our current political moment in historic terms. He called to mind the 20th century’s touchstones of political transformation: the landslide elections of FDR and Lyndon Johnson in 1933 and 1965.

Eli Pariser, Executive Director of, began the panel by encouraging us to keep hope alive. He reminded us that the movement that elected Obama was created by us; not the campaign. Pariser’s antidote for the mounting fear? To focus political energy on people-to-people connections instead of the isolating, panic-loving media.

Next, prominent political journalist William Greider suggested that since progressives are being largely excluded from the administration, our role should be even more focused on grassroots mobilization. Greider’s top issue was bringing an end to the corporate state by reforming the Federal Reserve system.

On the more administration-focused side of things, Patricia J. Williams insisted that we aren’t post-race, and Lawrence Korb prepared us for the daunting foreign policy debate that lies ahead.

The panelists were as realistic as they were energetic; I left the conference anxious about the same dilemmas with which I entered. I thought of all the voters who may continue expressing their patriotism only on Election Day; of the unproductive partisanship that persists within my own family; of how fleeting the victories of 1933 and 1965 were.

But I also felt something new: Determination to sustain a progressive movement beyond an election, beyond a time of crisis, and into the fabric of American life.

Stimul-Us vs. Stimul-them

Both parties helped to bail out the banks,
funds that have been unaccounted for & abused,
but when it comes to investing in stimulus,
House Republicans decide to sit it out.

Crossing the aisle, the Prez compromises
from bankruptcy reform to family planning funds,
and ends up winning zero GOP votes.

And now having passed with just Dems,
the package will be changed for the Senate win "bi-partisan" support.

Does the GOP prefer burning down to building up?
Or after 8 years of making government not work,
maybe it's all they know how to do.

Or they may just not care about regular Americans
& it's time we choose Stimul-Us over Stimul-Them

Who ever said a new President would make this all easy?

Come share your thoughts, a booth & a pitcher or 3
as we stimulate our talk with liberal libations
at your local progressive social club

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Inaugural Ball


For those of you who were not there this past Sunday night at the Living Liberally Inaugural Ball you should really consider not missing more events by us! Imagine walking into a three-story club to find a group of 400 liberals listening to Jim Dean talk about the future of our country! Imagine the drink tickets being traded for cocktails! Think of the politicos and interesting liberals that could now be your friends. It was truly an incredible Inaugural Ball.

Along with Jim Dean's call to action, other local politicos got up to speak to the crowd. State Senator Daniel Squadron spoke about his hopes for a progressive future. City Council Member Bill deBlasio talked to the group about his campaign for Public Advocate and continued the talk of the future of progressive politics not just in New York City, but nationally.

Pictures after the jump...

Presenting: The Official Unofficial Drink of the Obama Administration

As we dive head-long into these first 100 days of the Obama administration, we can't help but think of just how whirl-wind the last few months have been - seeing the Obama candidacy become the Obama administration-in-waiting become, as of Noon EST this past Tuesday, the Obama Presidency. By our count, there are 208 Drinking Liberally weeks to go before we do this whole Inauguration thing over again, and we wanted something special to remember this special time by - so we announced our quest for the Official Unofficial Drink of the Obama administration, and opened it up to your suggestions, awaiting some brilliant names and ideas.

And boy, did our chapters deliver - we received many dozen spectacular, hilarious, original, clever, and, even moving Drink recipes sent to us via e-mail, our website, blog comments on Open Left and Daily Kos, and even in-person suggestions. (Let's just say that people can be very open about their ideas at a Drinking Liberally meeting.) Some of you called on Obama's multifaceted heritage, putting together elegant multicultural concoctions which you might think wouldn't work, but do. Others got all punny, asking us to celebrate with humor the fact that Bush was gone and the Obama years had commenced.

The First 100 Minutes

With a short speech on renewing America,
a new President gave hope to a nation,
a new direction to DC, relief to the world
& a stern rebuke to the man on his way out.

Even before orders to close Guantanamo,
policies about lobbying and White House staff,
and directions to freeze Bush regulations,
his words set the tone to empower us to make change.

And yet, within those same first minutes of joy,
a seizure reminded how fragile liberal leadership is,
GOP schemed to block aid to children & working families,
and Fox asked whether Justice Roberts' stumbled oath
meant that Obama wasn't President yet.

We all talk about a President's first 100 days.
Obama's first 100 minutes showed how much changed
...and how much work there remains to do.

So let's dust ourselves off & restore America.

But first, how about a drink?
A toast to a new President, to new debates,
& one last chortle for the man finally gone
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

What's the Official Unofficial Drink of the Obama Presidency?

On Tuesday night, we'll all be raising a glass at one of the many Drinking Liberally parties or other Inaugural Bashes around the country.

But what, exactly, will we be liberally drinking?

Many of our chapters offered suggestions for the Official Unofficial Drink of the Obama Presidency. But now we need to hear from you: which is the winner?

We'll be announcing it on Monday, in time for you to make sure your local bartender is ready to brew it up. Tell us in the comments thread what'll quench your thirst.

The Spartanburg, SC, chapter held their own competition and here were some of their candidates:

"Yes We Caffiene"
- Coffee, Brandy and Chrystalized Pineapple

Team of Rivals:
- Kahlua, Cocoanut rum, Baileys, layered in shot glass.

Obama Mama:
- Vodka, Kahlua, Coconut Liquer,and Milk over ice.

Hope Float:
- Baileys, Butterschotch Schnapps, float Creme de Cocoa on top.

"How Sweet it Is"
- Southern Comfort, Grapefruit Juice, Grenadine

"Obama Drop"
- Vodka, Blue Curacao, Lemon Juice in shot glass rimmed with sugar

Obama Express-O:
- Expresso, Vodka and Baileys.

Washington Apple:
- Apple Pucker, Cranberry Juice, Sprite, and Crown Royal.

Obama Mama II:
- Vodka, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Blue Curreco, Cherry Garnish.

And more:

Barack O’Poma
[Jeni and Jim from Winthrop, Maine]
- Pour a dash of pomegranate liqueur into a champagne flute and top off with champagne.

Barack O-Pom-a (Same name, different drink)
[Mary Jack/LA-Westside DL]
- a pomegranate martini.
"We DL-ers have enjoyed it on many occasions, but never more so than on Election Night!"

Caribbean Sunrise
[Dylan, Salt Lake City]
- Three parts rum
- Six parts orange juice
- One part grenadine
"Rum comes from foreign islands, orange juice comes from the heartland of America, and grenadine originated in France, so it's a multicultural mix not unlike our President-Elect, but it was invented right here in the U.S.A., again not unlike our President-Elect.

Finally, the sunrise represent a new dawn, which is what our country needs right now."

Chocolate covered Cherry
[Millicent Lewis, Salt Lake City]
- In a tall glass filled with ice, pour the following double cocktail:
- 2.5 oz. Black Cherry Smirnoff
- .5 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
- 3 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
- Stir with a swizzle stick, strain if desired

And some classics from Liberal Mixology:

[Amy and Steve from Gardner, KS]
16 oz seeded and blended fresh watermelon
1/2 lime
6 oz tequila
3 oz triple sec
1 tbsp sugar (or as needed)
Liquefy watermelon in blender until there is about 16 oz. Add remaining ingredients, top with ice and blend until smooth. Taste and add sugar if watermelon is not sweet enough. Serve with sugar on the rim of the glass

Obama Bomb
[J.B. from Minneapolis, MN]
1 oz cherry vodka
1 glass Red Bull
Drop shot into tumbler and drink.

Barack on the Beach
[Carrie from Lawrence, KS]
2 oz Tuaca
Orange juice
Splash of pineapple juice
Combine over ice in shaker. Shake and strain into glass.

George Who?
[Gordon from Burien, WA]
1-1/2 oz Kahlua
1 oz tequila
1/2 oz Courvoisier
Serve over ice.

Democratic Landslide
[Tracy from Columbus, OH]
1 part Kahlua
1 part Baileys
1 part vodka
Mix and serve over ice.

Obama Slammer
[Tricia from Des Moines, IA]
1 part black sambuca
1 part peach schnapps
Fill a shot glass halfway with sambuca. Pour the clear schnapps over the back of a spoon to make two layers.

Dead Elephant
[Jenny from West Des Moines, IA]
1/2 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz grenadine
Splash of pineapple juice
Combine vanilla vodka and grenadine in a shaker with ice. Add a splash of pineapple juice. Shake and strain into a shot glass.

The Obama-52
[Patti from Greenville, SC]
3/4 oz Kahlua
1/2 oz Baileys
1 oz Grand Marnier
Layer in a shot glass and "Obama" it.

Remember, what we drink is up to you. Let us know. You have the power. Yes, we can...drink liberally.

Time to Inaugurate Liberally - Parties Across the Country

Last night, we announced that we're joining with terrific progressive partners to host over 3,500 Inaugural Parties around the country on Tuesday, January 20th.

With Civic Action, True Majority, CREDO, Color of Change, YDA and others, these parties will be across the country in bars and homes, restaurants and theaters, and will range from dance parties to potlucks as we celebrate a new day in America.

So check out the Drinking Liberally Inauguration 2009 page to see where our chapters are hosting events; find your local chapter to see what they're up to; or visit the directory of national bashes to find -- or host -- one that fits you.

Last Call for George W. Bush

After 8 years of Bush & Cheney,
of Ashcroft-to-Gonzales-to-Mukasey,
of Rummy & Rove & Heckuva-Job-Brownie,
of Iraq, Katrina & cronies & incompetence,
after this week, we won't have
George Walker Bush to kick around anymore.

Through 8 State-of-DisUnion Addresses,
2 UnAugurals, Presidential debates & the RNC,
we've had to raise a glass together,
because it was better than drinking alone,
not to toast the President, but to roast him,
to forget him & to find each other.

After 295 Thursdays of Drinking Liberally,
this is the last call in the Bush Years.
We can all drink to that.

The liberal drinking isn't over,
& the work continues over Thursdays to come,
but finally we'll kick a keg marked W.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Small Town Values in "Crawford"

"Screening Liberally Big Picture
by Jen Johnson

"Small Town Values." It's big time politics' winning slogan. But what exactly does that mean? And is it even possible for the political machine, so desirous of this wholesome image, to actually value the small town itself?

"Crawford", David Modigliani's documentary about the Texas town of the same name, attempts to answer that question by examining the aftershocks of then-Governor George W. Bush's wholly artificial move to the small hamlet as he prepped for the 2000 election.

Crawford: a documentary from Crawford: The Movie on Vimeo.

Remember Crawford? The quaint Texas burg where Bush publicized his brush-cutting, ranch-walking "roots"? In this film, Modigliani introduces us to the real town and its full-time residents. "Crawford" begins by introducing the audience to the town and a sampling of its residents. Each tells us when they moved to Crawford and why they're there, revealing a bit about themselves and the town: 10 years, good school district. 24 years, loving community. 44 years, Crawford native with six generations buried in the graveyard.

Then we cut to the newest Crawford resident, George Bush. And I couldn't help but wonder, along with the town, "Why?"

Whatever his motives, many townspeople saw his arrival as an opportunity to revive their flailing local economy, long suffering since a severe drought in the 1950s. And as the administration continued, business did pick up as the town experienced tourists of all kinds: political, gawkers, and eventually thousands of protesters.

By focusing on the people of the town rather than pundits or visitors, "Crawford" offers a unique perspective on the Bush administration, media, protests, and political awareness. We find out just where that typical news image of Crawford – the hay bales and farm equipment – is located, and examine whether it misrepresents the town or George W. We hear from fervent Bush supporters, like Crawford's souvenir shop owner, and from his critics, like the school's supposedly "blasphemous" history teacher.

Modigliani's editing heightens the audience's understanding of the residents' emotional journeys, at one point layering protest audio with residents' faces, at another cutting from a packed street to an empty town. Through the film, I felt each character's convictions, confusions, frustrations - whether I agreed with their politics or not.

"Crawford" wisely unfolds from the vantage point of the townspeople, favoring no single view or group. What does become clear is how difficult – and important – it is to be politically aware and active in a community, especially when you have a minority opinion. How does Crawford's history teacher wake up each day, knowing that most of her student's parents do not support her? How should we rise to our own political challenges? "Crawford" will inspire you to consider this, long after the Bush years are but a bitter memory.

Senate Rules & Senate Fools

Democrats are busy changing their minds
on whether to seat Roland Burris
confirming their stereotype as uncertain.

Republicans are digging in to oppose seating
declared, confirmed winner Al Franken,
confirming their rep as anti-democratic.

And the media's focused on Caroline Kennedy
more than on some of the insane reasons
the 41-seat minority plans to filibuster progress,
confirming they are obsessed with celebrities.

In times of crisis, transition & opportunity,
everyone is really sticking to their script.

And we're just reminded once more that
Senate rules create room for Senate fools.

Try to laugh off their foolishness
& share your views while sharing some booze
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.