Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

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.

Read of the Day: Re-Reading the First Gulf War

Nora Eisenberg, whose excellent novel about veterans returning from the Gulf War, When You Come Home, will soon be reviewed on this page, has just penned a piece for Alternet on the lost lessons hidden in the way the Gulf Was has been remembered.

We highly recommend it -- as our Reading Liberally "Read of the Day" -- and will bring you more on her novel soon.

With rare exceptions, American politicians seem incapable of opposing an American war without befriending another in a different place or time.

Barack Obama, an early and ardent enemy of the Iraq War, quickly declared his affinity for a war in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan. And like so many Democratic leaders, he has commended Bush 41's Gulf War over Bush 43's, for its justifiable cause, clear goals, quick execution and admirable leadership.

Read the full article on Alternet...

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..."

State of This Union, No Longer State of Disunion

Our last President had used a State of the Union
to offer lies about uranium that conned us into Iraq.
Our new President used his first address to Congress
to talk honestly about the cost of Iraq & about ending it.

Bush used his major annual address
for such pressing topics as human-animal hybrids.
Obama used it to discuss investing in our human capital.

George suggested we send men to Mars.
Barack suggested we send America back to work.

And Bobby Jindal suggested the disaster of Katrina
somehow would have been better with less Federal support.
So if you miss W, don't worry -- his spirit lives on...

Obama offered us a realistic state of this union...
after Bush's constant state of disunion, it's a change.

Discuss the State of the Union, and be part of a reunion,
as you share debate, dialogue & a delightful drink
with your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you

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.

Prepping For Tonight's (Sort Of) State of the Union Address

Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth

As we joked last year, it used to be simple for Drinking Liberally to prep for the State of the Union address: guess where the Bush team would get creative (Human-animal hybrids! A new Mars mission! Uranium from Niger!), get ready to cringe so hard at our President that you required medical attention, and you were more or less set.

With President Obama at the podium tonight, it's a bit trickier: aside from the fact that it's not technically a State of the Union address tonight (oh, DC protocol...), and that we don't expect to hear Bush-caliber falsehoods and belligerent "tough" talk, there also hasn't been a SOTU address in a while where the size of our problems, and the President's interest in solving them, seemed to be even close to commensurate. As much as some of us critique and push the administration on the issues, a lot of us forgot what it's like to watch a State of the Union address where we weren't set to be strictly in cringe-mode throughout.

To make things a little more intuitive, we're bringing back our ever-dependable State of the Union Drinking Game after the jump, as well as a mini-game for the Republican response. And if you want to watch with progressive friends, check out whether your local Drinking Liberally chapter is hosting a watch party (in New York, we'll be at the Grisly Pear in Greenwich Village.) Check out the game (and hope the item about Sarah Palin doesn't come true), make predictions about tonight's address in the comments, and maybe we'll see you this evening.

Get Political For The Oscars!

Do you know which Best Director nominee donated $25,000 to the DCCC? Which nominated actress once worked at the Pentagon? What celeb once said: "If there weren't blacks, Jews, and gays, there would be no Oscars"?

Sunday is Oscar Night, but that's no reason to put politics aside. After all, it's one of Hollywood's most political evenings -- why shouldn't we wear our partisan stripes as well?

Whether you're rooting for a favorite flick, just channel-surfing through, or watching to make fun of the outfits, make your Oscar-viewing a little more entertaining with Screening Liberally Oscar Trivia. Host your own Oscars party (or join ours in New York), and enjoy! The rest of the quiz below the fold.

Three Hundred Thursdays

Drinking Liberally is big on our anniversaries. Maybe it comes hand-in-hand with the culture of drinking -- you always want to toast to something.

Now, how about a Weekiversary? May seem silly, but the original chapter of Drinking Liberally measures its life in weeks, not in years...because every week for nearly 6 years we have been meeting at the same time and the same bar.

For three hundred Thursdays in a row.

From the start, we very consciously weren't organizing only around special events -- we were creating a weekly routine. You wouldn't have to be on our email knew we'd be there. You could leave town for months -- or years -- and still find us. You never had to feel bad about missing one, because next week there'd be another.

We credit much of our growth to that regularity. We're like their laundromat, their grocery store, their coffee vendor...we're part of their everyday lives.

Or, at least their every-week lives.

So tonight marks the Tricent-weekial of the original chapter of Drinking Liberally -- our 300th week gathering, since May 29th, 2003, sharing an evening with old friends and new.

Come on out to Rudy's and make us part of your weekly ritual. In honor the occasion, there will be free Rudy's calendars and drink tickets. After all, we all something in hand for the toasts.