Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

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 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.

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.


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.


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.

Convention Watch - NYC

Much more on this over the next week, but know that there will be a place in NYC for you to gather during the DNC and RNC.

Check out the complete schedule -- the abbreviated round-up is below:

Free Admission. Cheap Beer. Big Screens. Special Guests. Comedy. Trivia. Prizes. Oh, and Conventions.

Day-By-Day Schedule
All Events FREE; 7-11pm
at The Tank (except where noted)

Mon, Aug 25—Kick-Off Festivities with Laughing Liberally comedy throughout the night
Tues, Aug 26—– Let Your Voice Be Heard – (6pm) Open Mic on your vision for the next Prez streamed to Denver, hosted by the Manhattan Young Dems
Wed, Aug 27— Political Pub Trivia hosted by The Big Quiz Thing's Noah Tarnow
Thurs, Aug 28—Obama's Acceptance speech (and drinking game)

Mon, Sep 1—Bush's Last Stand & Labor Day Barbecue (4-7pm at Rudy's Bar – 9th & 44th)
Tues, Sep 2— Political Pub Trivia, hosted by The Big Quiz Thing's Noah Tarnow
Wed, Sep 3—Laughing Liberally (comedy throughout the night)
Thurs, Sep 4—McCain's Acceptance speech (and drinking game) – with special guest Markos Moulitsas Zuniga founder of Daily Kos, author of "Taking on the System"

Blogging Liberally: Aquaman Edition

1. Reading Liberally Page-Turner Nixonland by Rick Perlstein has been named one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon.

2. Michael Phelps: Another gold, another world record. That's 6 if you're counting.

3. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is expected to resign. I'd like to echo Matt's sentiments:

This is a nuclear-armed regime on the border of Afghanistan selling nukes to anyone with enough cash. Not good. At all.

4. The Russia-Georgia conflict is escalating. Poland agreed to host a US missile shield base. No links. Too depressing. Use the Google for more.

5. Obama reached the two-million donor mark, meaning that almost one out every 150 Americans has donated to the Obama campaign.

6. MUST READ: In the wake of Josh Green's dump of all the nasty and ugly emails from inside the Clinton campagin, the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg has finally dug up some secret memos from the Obama camp.

7. McCain's internet policy sucks.

Praying Liberally: Fired up, Ready to go

About a month ago, we announced the creation of Living Liberally's new network of religious progressives: Praying Liberally. Now, the first chapters are beginning to get off the ground starting with Wilmington, Delaware on Thursday, August 21st.

As Wilmington chapter leader Frank Bell puts it:

As I see it, the point of this thing is give persons of a reality-based persuasion a chance to look at issues from a perspective informed by faith without anyone's giving them funny looks because they profess a faith--and to allow those who may not have a religious perspective to participate in the discussion without penalty.

This is just the first of hopefully many groups of religious liberals organizing around the country to bring all the great community aspects of blogs like Street Prophets into a face to face setting. In this way we can create a sustainable, national, multi-faith social network of religious liberals.

As a I said before, Praying Liberally chapters will have weekly, semi-monthly or monthly meetings of local liberals from a wide range of faiths including, as pastordan so excellently phrases it, "those whose deepest faith is in the conviction that there is no God." At these meetings, faithfully-minded liberals could talk politics, say a collective prayer for "the least of these" in our community, our country and our world, and build community to organize around our common causes

Also, all chapters will receive a web site, chapter blog, listserv and other online organizing tools and support features from the Living Liberally national network.

Hosting a chapter is really easy. All it takes is deciding on a time and location, anywhere from a local religious space to the neighborhood cafe, and sending out a quick e-mail reminder before you meet - that's it. Overall, it's no more difficult than meeting up with your religious progressive friends to hang out and talk politics.

So, if you're in Wilimington next Thursday, be sure to check them out. If you're interested in starting one of the first Praying Liberally chapters email

Together, we can build a greater national community of religious liberals and finally put a stop to the Religious Right's monopoly on faith and politics.

Trouble the Water...coming soon

Screening Liberally is proud to announce that we'll be helping promote the film Trouble the Water as it rolls out its release nationwide.

Check out the current dates in NYC, LA & SF -- and more to come -- and return to our Trouble the Water / Screening Liberally page for more updates.