Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

Carnival vs. Police State

Haven't been blogging much these past two weeks. Traveling makes it difficult enough to sit down and write; the busy pace of Conventions makes it harder; and these two Conventions have been such extremes that I want to be wandering through them more than describing them.

Denver was a democratic carnival, where the main pedestrian drag of the Lower Downtown area was filled with suited delegates, young people, protesters (from the Left and the Right), vendors (Barack Obama action figure anyone), musicians, annoyed Denverites, bicycle cabs...and, yes, riot police. Their presence reminded you any moment there cold be travel; but they didn't block streets...they didn't separate the delegates from the protesters or the onlookers.

It was an open city for an open convention. While I was there, I felt aware of the cops...but not oppressed by them.

Then I came to Saint Paul. Maybe it's the layout of the city -- whereas the Denver Pepsi Center is on the outskirts of downtown, the Xcel Center is at the heart of this city...and thus the heart has been cut off from its body by barbed wire and barricades. A beautiful city becomes unwalkable. The locals, who love their home, are ashamed that this is the face they show to the world.

Walking with the peace protest on Monday -- the 10,000 that featured families, children, vets and no violence -- we were led through caged paths with high, black grates on either end. Police stood at the read as we slowly slogged through narrower avenues near the center. At one point a friend asked, "Should we be worried that they already have their gas masks on?" At another point, we wanted to peel off -- and a cordon of 30 shoulder-to-shoulder riot cops told us that we had to march the full parade route.

They don't seem to be wanting to do this. But in that environment, they are not individual police officers (residents of St. Paul keep telling us they love their police -- that they are "neighborhood cops"), but one side of a tense confrontation; and we protesters were made to feel like the other side. The tension mounted. Surrounded by my public safety officials, and by 10,000 people in agreement with me...I didn't feel safe.

That gloom and fear pervades the RNC. Hope and happiness charged the DNC. Maybe each party is just pushing its brand.

More soon...and check out Open Left where Matt Stoller has been photo-documenting much of this experience.

The Official Barack Obama Convention Speech Drinking Game

As Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President tonight, enjoy his address with drink in hand -- ready to toast, to celebrate and to share the experience...with drinking game rules, of course.

Take a Sip when
He Says:
- hope
- change
- community organizer
- Bush
- Hillary Clinton
or when:
- he says how much he loves America
- he tells a joke that actually makes you laugh
- he implicitly/explicitly compares himself to MLK
- compliments Michelle for being accomplished

Take a Gulp when:
He Says:
- Yes we can
- Iraq
- Kansas
- Cheney
- Bill Clinton
or when:
- he quotes a great American text or speech
- he talks about Joe Biden's lovely family
- he compares himself to JFK
- he compliments Michelle for being a good wife and mother

Take a Big Gulp when:
He Says:
- audacity
- glass ceiling
- bipartisan
- Rove
- swiftboat
or when:
- he quotes the Bible
- he uses the word "partisan" like it's a bad thing
- compliments a Republican (or Joe Lieberman)
- he compares himself to RFK

Chug when:
- he gratuitously compliments McCain's "service" and "courage"
- he jokes about John McCain's houses

Celebratory Toast if:
- he uses the word "partisan" like it's a good thing
- challenges McCain to a duel
- praises President Jimmy Carter
- he makes you cry

Finish Your Drink if:
- He mentions Reverend Jeremiah Wright
- He calls for Bush’s impeachment
- He threatens to bomb Iran.

(If you want to print out a version, you can click on the attachment link for the PDF below -- prints 2 per page)

It's Time To Barack The House

(Note: 2 locations for tonight's Convention Watch:
The Tank & Rudy's -- see below for details)

Michelle Obama's speech Monday night
& her personal story inspired a nation --
somehow we can't imagine Cindy McCain doing the same.

Hillary Clinton showed the force of a fighter
tenaciously battling for a better America.
Next Tuesday, Rudy 9iu11iani will tenaciously
offer us a "noun-verb-9/11."

Bill Clinton reminded us that a President
could compassionately put people first.
The GOP is putting George W Bush first...
and hoping nobody tunes in to see him.

We have the grit & guts of Joe Biden.
Romney? Crist? Rendell? Jindal?
We welcome that fight...

And tonight, it's time to Ba-rock the house.
Too bad it's past McCain's bedtime.

Come together to toast the night
that an America story steps center stage
as we all share this American Dream
at your local progressive social club.

DRINKING LIBERALLY
Find - or start - a chapter near you.
(In NYC? join our watch parties
at The Tank @ DCTV - 87 Lafayette St)

Beyond Denver: the RNC

There's no doubt about it: The Big Tent will be awesome. The folks out in Denver are pouring their souls into a remarkable hive of activity that will showcase the netroots and our partners during the Democratic Convention.

Lesser known is that there is a place for us after August 28th: The Twin Cities.

In 2004, it was the RNC week that brought bloggers, activists, protesters, performers together at The Tank. This year, a similar -- but larger -- operation will be in place in Saint Paul: a daytime work space for up to 170 bloggers hosted by The Uptake...and evening parties sponsored by the SEIU, hosted by Drinking Liberally and friends. (Details coming...stay tuned.)

I just had the chance to tour the space The Uptake is setting up -- you can see the Excel Center from the windows. You are inside the security zone. The marches will u-turn at the corner outside the building. And there will be plenty of space to create content...and I wouldn't be surprised if you could find yourself some delegates nearby.

Register now to get your spot in this center -- and stay for the evening parties (did I mention complimentary drinks)...plus the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is hosting trainings and workshops as well.

Don't forget the Twin Cities, where our progressive mark will stand out in sharper contrast. Also, these cities really can't stand the GOP. Former Saint Paul Mayor Norm Coleman didn't win a single precinct in his city when he ran for Senator. Sep 1st - 4th should be fun.

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.

Name Rachel Maddow's TV Show

The name, "The Rachel Maddow Show" is owned by Air America Radio. What should she call her show?

Also, can you pitch a segment or two?

To the first point, here are some quick suggestions:

  • Openly Liberal
  • Talking Liberally
  • Body Politic with Dr. Rachel Maddow
  • Rachel Maddow's Next Deal
  • TeeVee Machine with Rachel Maddow
  • Rachel Maddow's TV Show
  • Reality with Rachel Maddow
  • Openly Rachel Maddow
  • The Fight with Rachel Maddow

As for show segments:

1. "Bobbleheads"

a mix of the Abbreviated Pundit Round Up posts + "Talk Soup" snark + clips from other talking head TV shows

Run through a selection of clips from other political TV shows, pause them and point out the:
intellectual dishonesty
unintended irony
glaring omission
patent absurdity
pie-in-the-sky idiocy

2. "Your Liberal Media"

Point out glaring instances of IOKIYAR-ism on the teevee from DC's Gang of 500, ie. The Villagers.

Clearly I'd like Maddow to not hide the fact that she's a liberal on tv and I think the best way to do that is to show how there are so many hundreds more conservatives surrounding her.

Suggestions?

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.

Blogging Liberally: Maddow Mania!

1. The US makes Polish missile defense deal official. Russia is pissed.

2. Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential prick is going to speak at the Republican National Convention.

3. Rachel Maddow got her own show! The world rejoices.

4. Cindy McCain has not one but two forgotten half sisters.

5. Obama veepstakes speculation reaches fever pitch. Howard Fineman Joe Biden, while Ralph Nader calls it for Clinton. No cares who McCain picks, though it seems like right now he's leaning toward some guy whose name rhymes with Shmoe Shmieberman.

6. Orson Scott Card, author of many a great sci-fi novel, says that gay marriage marks the end of democracy in America. Wow.

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.