Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

Marriage Equality - Activism Beyond an Election

I've been asked many times since November 4th what Drinking Liberally does though a Democratic President would negate the need for a national network of progressive social gatherings. I respond that political communities -- and the activism and ideas that flow from them -- don't come and go with campaigns...they are needed between elections just as much.

But it's one thing to say that -- it's another to actually live it. And honestly, many of our chapters are in a little bit of a post-election hangover / holiday daze. We continue to meet, enjoy holidays and plan for the Inauguration, but it feels a little bit like we're waiting for our next moment.

However, one movement that isn't waiting is the marriage equality movement. Obviously Prop 8 served as a jolt that required the movement not to rest -- but at a time when I don't witness as much direct activism taking place, folks like Join the Impact are delivering creative, social, passionate opportunities -- from national rallies to vigils to guerilla activism.

In New York, we're hosting a screening tonight of the Oscar-winning documentary Freeheld. Its story -- about a dying police officer whose same-sex partner is denied pension rights -- resonates with the the chilling results of Prop 8. We're using it to prompt a conversation about how New Yorkers can promote the marriage equality fight in our state, which has a chance of passing it legislatively.

We don't want, in this transition time, to lose the activism momentum of the election. Hopefully clever ad campaigns like "This Is Reality" will take Join the Impact's lead and invest in local organizing opportunities that keep our troops active.

That is, after this tryptophan wears off...

75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition

Tomorrow is the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition.

It's kind of remarkable to realize that our country outlawed booze Constitutionally; then, 15 years later, Constitutionally fixed that mistake. We really do have the power to form a more perfect union.

There's a special side consequence of this day: it means that tomorrow is the 75th birthday of many beloved dive bars that started as illicit speak-easy establishments during the 20s, then came into the light on this day 75 years ago.

So places like Rudy's -- the home of the original Drinking Liberally, and home of one of the greatest Liberal Card benefits (free drinks!) -- turns 75 tomorrow. And this New York institution will be celebrating with $7 pitchers at night and $5 pitchers during the day (7 and 5 for the 75th).

Plus, at tonight's DL gathering, we'll lift our glasses to Rudy's...and to a Constitution that can correct our country's errors.

The Right: Still Wrong. The Left: Still Left Behind?

Obama crafts a cabinet crossing aisles & ideologies,
while Senate Republicans revel in their Georgia win
as they intend to tyrannize from a 41-seat minority.

Dems step up to bailout the GOP's banking buddies,
while the GOP balks at loans to the Big Three,
& spreads lies about how much auto workers make.

The new Prez pledges to first push legislation
with bipartisan consensus like children's healthcare,
& hedges on oil windfall tax & Bush taxcut rollback,
while the Right calls him a radical socialist.

And in it all, Dems let Lieberman keep his gavel.

When Dems offer conservatives compromise & comity,
& the GOP digs in to defy progressive promise,
the debate wrongly shifts Rightward
& Liberals are left standing to the side.

Even after an Election, the Right is still wrong
...the real question: will the Left be left behind?

Share your hopes as your share a few pitchers,
& raise your concerns as you raise your glass
and toast this momentous month of transition
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Howard Dean, Ed Asner and You

Happy Cyber Monday -- that's right, the newly-minted term for the big post-Thanksgiving day of online holiday purchases. While we often dedicate our column to cool organizations -- from Trick-or-Vote to CREDO -- that build social networks through activity...we though if ever there would be a day to talk about building social community through consumerism, it would be today.

So if you're mind is still wandering from your long weekend off, or if you've started surfing for stocking stuffers, we just have to suggest: The Liberal Card -- promoting liberal pride, liberal community and liberal discounts.

Who wouldn't want to open slender package beneath the tree, beside the menorah, or after the Festivus gathering, and find an attractive, personalized wallet card that declares the bearer a "Card Carrying Liberal" this season?

Your co-workers would enjoy it. Your family would boast it proudly in their wallets. And how do I know? Because even Howard Dean is proud of it (and don't get me started on Ed Asner! Adorable photo below the fold...).

Look how happy he is! Oh, to be clear -- that poster is not the actual Liberal Card. The card is small and fits in your pocket. But it comes in a clever poster packaging that unfolds to become your banner of Liberal Pride.

It's a good time to be a Liberal. And as many claim this is a center-right country, let's remind them that Liberals are loud and proud. Why be afraid to show it? There are a few other folks who are proud to be liberals too: progressive businesses that offer discounts to card-holders.

Recently Liberal Card members were invited for free to an advance screening of Milk. The movie was awesome; now people will pay $10 to see it; and if you were a Card-Carrying Liberal, you now have a smile on your face..

There's more: you get discounts at the online stores of an environmentally-conscious gift shop, a progressive publishing house, a hip tee-shirt producer...even at the Drinking Liberally store. You get bonuses with your Liberal Card when you buy DL schwag. It just keeps giving.

Or, say for example that you live in New York. You go to a new downtown music venue for your free drink in the afternoon, and stay for the show on a members-only ticket. Or you head to an evening play, where your card gets you discount tickets. You end up at a Hell's Kitchen dive for another free drink. That's a great day (maybe even a great date!) -- and it's recession-proof.

But don't take my word for it that The Liberal Card will make you happy. Just look at this face...and tell me you don't see genuine joy.

That's right. Ed Asner has his Liberal Card. Why don't you?

Bush Will Be Remembered for His Rule of Law, Sense of Justice, and Clemency (for Turkeys)

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying
by Katie Halper

On Thanksgiving, The Dallas Cowboys beat the Seattle Seahawks 34 to 9. And the day before, when Bush spared two innocent lives, he achieved his own victory of 16 to 1. When Bush pardoned Pumpkin AND Pecan, who were about to meet the same fate as the turkeys televised behind Sarah Palin, he could boast of having 16 presidential poultry pardons under his belt. But Bush has also compassionately conserved human life, once. During his six-year governorship and eight-year presidency, Bush has pardoned one death row inmate, denied clemency over 50 times, and signed death warrants for 155 people, many of whom were innocent, mentally retarded, juveniles, recipients of unfair trials, and/or represented by incompetent and often narcoleptic lawyers.

Milk, The Biopic and The Lesson

Screening Liberally Big Picture
by Josh Bolotsky

We know what's going to happen almost from the very beginning, because the film tells us: Dianne Feinstein, long before she becomes a Senator, back when she was President of the Board of Supervisors for San Francisco, will speak at a press conference on November 27th, 1978, and announce that City Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man in the United States elected to a major public office, has been shot and killed by former City Supervisor Dan White, along with the Mayor, George Moscone. The crowd moans in shock, disbelief, anger. Cameras flash. This use of archival footage occurs maybe 90 seconds into Gus Van Sant's "Milk," and it's followed by a shot of Milk himself (Sean Penn), maybe a week before the shootings, sitting at his kitchen table alone, recording a tape to be played in the event of his assassination. Cue title card.

"Milk" somehow manages to balance the needs of two very different films for its running time. It is, first of all, an absolutely superb biopic which allows us to feel like we knew Harvey on a first-name basis, helps us to understand what others found so important about him and his work beyond the permanently-earned title of First Openly Gay Office Holder; and a very different film, a meditation on the responsibility activists have to the people who elevated them to position of influence, whether it be via the ballot box, the work of a concerned group of citizens or just the readers of a blog community.

Bush May Pardon Some Turkeys, But We Have A Lot To Be Thankful For

What we're thankful for:

A strategy to boost the economy with jobs,
a bold plan to invest in green infrastructure,
a commitment to healthcare & stem cell science,
& the promise to close Guantanamo.

That the voters said no to fear & smears,
that John McCain is more natural on Leno again,
& that the video of Palin and the turkey exists.

That with the end of this era, we'll say goodbye
to Bush, Cheney, Rice, Mukasey, Paulson, Chao,
the imperial executive & signing statements.

And that the progressive movement keeps fighting
& Drinking Liberally is part of that.

So while we know Bush will pardon some turkeys,
we can enjoy our non-butterball free-range poultry
knowing that whether you're happy with the election,
or energized to keep pushing on new terrain,
there's a lot for liberals to be thankful for.

Start your festivities with friendly faces
of your family of left-leaning libation-lifters
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

How to Mark Inauguration Day

Central Park's been home to a lot of celebrations -- so why not an Inauguration Watch Party? Council Member Eric Gioia -- one of the more dynamic, progressive members of the NY City Council -- suggested setting up giant screens in the Park for the public to enjoy on January 20th.

As he quipped: "If it’s good enough for Bon Jovi, it should be good enough for the inauguration.”

Gioia is by no means alone in believing we should find ways to create shared, public experiences, even when there isn't a tradition in place or a day off from work. Living Liberally has already begun planning an Inaugural Ball in New York (because DC shouldn't have all the fun) for Sunday the 18th, and Netroots Nation is working with an array of progressive blogs and communities to throw an even on Monday the 19th in DC. We hear that DC is planning for millions of Americans to descend on the Mall...but how should the rest of the country mark January 20th?

Political events have become national moments: we watch the State of the Union in groups around the country, now playing the now-traditional SOTU Drinking Game. The primaries took on a feel of a sports tournament, and Super Tuesday felt like like the championship (turned out the competition had a few rounds left). More recently, it was obvious that Election Night events around the country would bring people together to watch and share the experience. And even after November 4th, CREDO has been turning Bush's lame duck period into a cause to celebrate by funding local parties.

But one main difference: Inauguration takes place during the day -- when kids are at school and most people at work. So if you're not pulling your child out and driving down to DC (as my parents did in 1993), and if you're not freelance enough to wander off midday, how do you find the way to share this historic day?

We're open to suggestions -- toss some in the comments and let's see what sticks.

Has Palin Been Pallin' Around With PETA?

Looks like plucky Sarah Palin is expanding her fan club from evangelicals to vegangelicals. Seriously, how could any animal rights activist not love the sight of Palin blathering to the press while a worker in blood-spattered overalls blithely slaughters turkeys a few feet away?

The media deemed it necessary to blur this bloody backdrop, in deference to the "unspoken covenant of ignorance" between consumers and the food industry that historian Ann Vileisis documents in Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need To Get It Back:

...we have ended up in the absurd situation today that most of us, as consumers, know very little about what we eat; and, sensing a "dark side" to our food production, many of us don't even want to know.

So now the blogosphere's a-Twitter with talk about "turkey carnage" and the "surreal... gruesomeness going on over her shoulder".

But you could argue that Palin performed a public service, however inadvertently. Americans are totally in denial about the way our livestock live--and die. Can you imagine the Food Network ever allowing Rachel Ray to slaughter a chicken in front of a live audience and millions of viewers, the way Jamie Oliver did back in January? After electrocuting the chicken, he told the visibly shocked audience:

"As far as killing anything's concerned, it's never nice. I was trained to do it, I don't feel particularly good about this. But, I eat chickens, and I'm a chef."

As the New York Times noted:

Mr. Oliver said that he wanted people to confront the reality that eating any kind of meat involves killing an animal, even if it is done with a minimum of pain.

Michael Pollan took it upon himself to learn how to slaughter chickens because, as he wrote in The Omnivore's Dilemma:

It seemed to me not too much to ask of a meat eater, which I was then and still am, that at least once in his life he take some direct responsibility for the killing on which his meat-eating depends...

...In the end I personally killed a dozen or so chickens before moving on to try another station...I wasn't at it long enough for slaughtering chickens to become routine, but the work did begin to feel mechanical, and that feeling, perhaps more than any other, was disconcerting: how quickly you can get used to anything, especially when the people around you think nothing of it.

Sarah Palin clearly thought nothing of the fowl play taking place behind her, and why should she? She may be disconnected from the "fake" America, but as someone who's comfortable gutting a fish or field dressing a moose, she's more connected to the food chain than most. The fuss over this clucked-up photo op says as much about our own willful ignorance as it does about Palin's blasé embrace of topless turkeys.

Inaugural Plans

Four years ago, Drinking Liberally threw an "Unaugural Ball" -- this year, we have happier plans. In New York City, we're hosting the Living Liberally Inaugural Ball on Sunday, Jan 18th...and check back to learn about other schemes developing around the country (or toss your own ideas in the comments thread).