Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

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.

If Our Government Ran Like The Banks...

If our government ran like the banks,
our leaders would resist oversight & transparency
as they wasted and abused public funds & public trust.

If the Prez acted like a bank CEO,
he'd keep in place a team that had failed
& even give them bonuses for their "great work"
that brought us to the brink of disaster.

If we took after these financial giants,
we'd argue against government regulation
...except when it pays off for our pals.

If our government were run like the banks would be the Bush Administration.

Let's hope our new President realizes that running
our country "like a business" may be a bad idea.

Join us at the bar for a night you can bank on:
good people, good ideas & a few good drinks
as we gather at our local progressive social club

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Thinking Liberally: Jerry Nadler, Howard Dean and You

by Rep. Jerry Nadler
(Jerrold Nadler, author of this guest post, represents New York's eighth Congressional district)

On Wednesday night I will be sitting down with Howard Dean, Kelli Conlin (NARAL Pro-Choice New York), Baratunde Thurston (Co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics and a comedian with Laughing Liberally) and Joel Silberman (who works with Media Matters) for a frank conversation about where we go from here with progressive policy and activism.

Since President Obama took office, I've worked hard to pass two forward-thinking pieces of legislation through the House. The first was an amendment to the stimulus package, which added $3 billion for new public transportation projects. The second bill which I co-sponsored and helped to write was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was the first bill that President Obama signed into law.

As Chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on the House Judiciary Committee, I will continue to hold hearings about abuses of executive privilege in the Bush administration. And, on that score, I recently introduced two important bills -- the Midnight Rule Act and the State Secret Protection Act -- in order to roll back some of the more odious elements of Bush's disastrous legacy. In the Judiciary Committee, we've again subpoenaed Karl Rove to testify and finally answer some questions on the flagrant politicization of the Justice Department under Bush. Hopefully Rove saw me on Countdown with Keith Olbermann recently making it clear that he will be held in contempt and arrested if he continues to ignore the law.

My questions to you now is: what else do YOU think I should be doing in the House for you? And what are progressive activists who gave Obama his historic victory doing to keep the administration accountable to progressives and making real change? How can our efforts intertwine to make a real impact? How do we convince the new administration to go forward with bold legislation as well as look back at the Bush years and hold those who disregarded our Constitution accountable?

We hope you can be there for this conversation on February 18th. But even if you can't, we want to hear what questions and issues you think should be covered in this dialogue about progressive activism both inside and outside government right now.

Please put your questions in the comments for me and my special guests in the comments.

Again, I hope you can join me on February 18th from 6pm-9pm at Tribeca Cinemas at 54 Varick St. in NYC. For more information/buy tickets for 2/18:

Abraham Lincoln & Charles Darwin Would Obviously Be Liberals

Two hundred years ago today, a person was born
who would lead the US through our greatest crisis
and in doing so, he would end slavery
& preserve a union of, by & for the people.

Another, also born 200 years ago today,
used science to challenge convention
and sparked an "Evolution" in how humans
understand our place in the world.

Now, in Congress, courtrooms & community groups,
two centuries later, conservatives still fight
against democracy & against science at every turn.

The Right-wing isn't just old-fashion --
they are 200 years behind the times.

And today, Abraham Lincoln & Charles Darwin
would, without a doubt, be called Liberals
(tho' maybe too extreme for the Democratic Party...)

Happy 200th Birthday, Abe & Chuck!

Raise a glass to these two great Liberals
& their revolutionary & evolutionary ideas
as your share a pitcher & share the night
at your local progressive social club

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Michael Lux's The Progressive Revolution

Last night, progressives gathered at The Tank to discuss the topic of Michael Lux's new book, The Progressive Revolution. In addition to Mike Lux, MoveOn's Eli Pariser and Atlantic Philanthropy's Gara LaMarche spoke about what Lux calls the next "big change moment." Moderated by Laura Flanders, host of GRITtv, these progressive masterminds spoke to a packed room (people stood in the back and sat on steps). At the end of the discussion, the audience was invited onto the stage to mingle with Mike, buy books and drinks, and chat with fellow audience members.

Mike's literary agent, consultant, and chief of staff all came to the event. From the audience, I met several lively liberals who required little encouragement to share their thoughts. Discussion topics varied, including responses to the talk, debate over the stimulus package, the future of feminism and worker's rights, and hopes and fears for Obama's term. Dedicated discussions closed down The Tank and were transplanted a block away to Drinking Liberally's regular haunt, Rudy's.

Photos after the jump...

The Day The Earth Caught Fire: the press and global panic in 1962 and now

The small library on the fifth floor of the New York Society for Ethical Culture was filled with several rows of chairs. A microwave in the back popped corn on a table full of little goodies while people guarded quickly disappearing seats. At the front of the room, the projector sat on a small table, showing us the DVD menu for Val Guest’s 1962 sci-fi film The Day The Earth Caught Fire. After a brief introduction, the lights were extinguished and the film began.

In a sepia prologue, a sweaty reporter stumbles through a nearly deserted world to his desk, where he dictates a story, transporting us to fourteen days earlier. In the same – now busy – newsroom, we follow the reporter, Peter Stenning. Bit by bit, we learn that two nuclear tests conducted simultaneously by the Soviets and Americans have altered the earth’s orbit and axis, and the world is moving towards the sun.

Peter aspires to write for the paper, London’s Daily Express, but his wishes are constantly ignored and he is given more menial fact-finding missions. On a day off, he runs into Jeannie Craig, a comely switchboard operator at the paper. His obvious advances are interrupted by a sudden fog that covers London, and the pair focus on making it back to Jeannie’s place safely. As soon as they do, Peter continues his blunt, forceful attempts to bed Jeannie, which she roundly rejects, banishing him to sleep the bathroom. Then, the second he stops trying, she inexplicably changes her mind.

Days later, Jeannie calls Peter to arrange a secret meeting, where she reveals to him off the record that she has overheard confidential phone calls confirming that the earth’s changes are the fault of the scientists testing the bombs. Betraying her trust, Peter reveals the secret and Daily Express prints the news.

The government responds to the crisis with loudspeaker announcements by the Prime Minister. As water supplies disappear, the government enforces rations and many urbanites flee to the countryside. Eventually the scientists decide to orchestrate additional blasts in Siberia in an attempt to return the earth to its natural orbit. The film ends moments after the new blasts occur leaving us to wonder whether they have worked - both versions of the story are at the press, ready to be printed.

While we’re now used to more sophisticated special effects, the winds, temperature surges, fog, melting ice caps, droughts and flooding certainly strike a modern chord. The drastic changes in weather are so close to our current global warming predictions that I don’t feel entirely comfortable calling the film science fiction. (Just last week, I read more frightening reports of droughts happening worldwide.) The film imagines government regulation of water, while in fact we currently have a water crisis essentially regulated by corporations (see documentary films like 2008 Sundance favorite Flow

After the film, our host led a discussion about the ethical dilemmas presented by Val Guest, naming freedom of press and confidentiality issues the most important. “Was it right for Peter to print what Jeannie said off the record?” She compared the situation to Deep Throat, the pseudonym given to the anonymous informant in the Watergate investigation. Many people concurred that Peter’s breach of trust was excusable because of the information’s importance: the world was ending. Okay, true. But what if the world wasn’t ending? Would the public deserve that information any less? That black-white line is rarely present in journalism, which is why Peter’s dilemma is so important.

One audience member actually disagreed, but on the grounds that they wouldn’t want to know if the world was ending. “I would be panicked for the rest of my time on Earth,” they explained. So, ignorance is the answer? I have noticed that many people – myself often included – prefer a general sense of doom to specific, identifiable terror. But that attitude is precisely what stops us from mobilizing to correct injustices; apathy and lack of information certainly make me feel ineffectual.

I was glad, then, that the film’s hero is a reporter: Peter and his coworkers represent an ideal public in that they are neither in power nor apathetic. I’ve noticed that many end-of-world films are told from - or heavily feature - the perspective of those in a position of power (Armageddon, for example, is told from the perspective of NASA and its recruits). Instead, we are kept out of this loop and experience the government from the citizen’s perspective: through the Prime Minister’s announcements and governmental regulations. And while those at the Daily Express are not making the decisions, they strive to unearth facts and inform others.

Another key issue brought up by the film lies in its premise. The series of events leading to Earth’s certain destruction is caused not by nuclear warfare, but nuclear testing. Without intending to, the world’s superpowers compromised the entire planet with both their weaponry and their rivalry. This victimized perspective is more strongly felt since the consequences are explored in London, where no tests were being performed. Is it ironic that the solution is to set off another bomb? Maybe. But it doesn’t detract from Guest’s suggestion: the world-saving blasts in the end are organized through international collaboration. The collectivism is driven home through a montage of the countdown occurring throughout the world. The point, then, is that technology can be used for good or bad, and depends on our intentions.

It was strange to see that there was never total chaos. Even after the papers began reporting the story, panic remained relatively contained. There was no protest to the government hiding facts; nobody seriously questioned the water rationing; what little chaos we saw was devoid of politics (young people throwing water around, looting, and looking pretty carefree). But the news reports did have some major impact: the government began speaking directly to the people, and the final blast countdown was broadcast to everyone.

That’s all well and good. What troubled me in the end was the way the newspaper dealt with the situation. As the paper prepares to take the story public, the editor tells the reporters to keep their tone positive. I chuckled, recalling mainstream media’s coverage of our current economic situation in the early fall: It’ll turn around soon, Don’t worry, Keep buying, It’s a fluke, It’s a recession not a depression…

And, more sinister was the ending. Sure, the bombs would work or they wouldn’t. Sure, the paper had to be ready. But how could they already know what they were going to say about it? Obviously the media, even then, had decided what the story was and how it affected the people before it even happened.

Laughing Liberally Lab February 4th

Here are some photos from last night's Laughing Liberally show at The Lab. I have never been to a comedy show before, and I was pleasantly surprised by the chuckles I shared with the rest of the audience. Seven great liberal comedians presented their final views of the Bush administration and their take on President Obama's (I still love typing that) first few weeks. Take a gander at the photos and come to our upcoming events if you do not already.

Harry Terjanian

Harry Terjanian

More Photos after the jump.

Five Cities We Want

If you were to do a quick scan of Drinking Liberally chapters from around this great nation of ours you would assume that the list would be prolific enough for us. But, after a little research earlier today(, I found that we are without Drinking Liberally chapters in five of the most populated fifty American cities. If you have left-leaning friends in these cities, please, get them to start a chapter. It is so easy and fun! Here is the list:

1. El Paso, Texas
2. Fresno, California
3. Mesa, Arizona
4. Tulsa, Oklahoma
5. Honolulu, Hawaii

Get Your Bush Out

Bush still makes us laugh. A sad laugh. Especially as this video relates to the culture of grab-what-you-can greed he instilled in the corporate cronies who are still plaguing and bankrupting us.

But it's still funny:

God Luv Ya, G. Dub'ya..! ~ director's cut

It was also funny when this song was sung by gophers:

Bitchin' Bush Ice Cream Flavors

Jay Hazen sent us this list of flavor names supposedly submitted to Ben & Jerry's for a Bush themed ice cream. Comment with your favorite one or submit your own!

- Grape Depression

- The Housing Crunch

- Abu Grape

- Cluster Fudge

- Nut'n Accomplished

- Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfu***r... Swirl

- Iraqi Road

- Chock 'n Awe

- WireTapioca

- Impeach Cobbler

- Guantanmallow

- imPeachmint

- Heck of a Job, Brownie!

- Neocon Politan

- RockyRoad to Fascism

- The Reese's-cession

- Cookie D'oh!

- Nougalar Proliferation

- Death by Chocolate... and Torture

- Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream

- Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder

- Credit Crunch

- Mission Pecanplished

- Country Pumpkin

- Chunky Monkey in Chief

- WMDelicious

- Chocolate Chimp

- Bloody Sundae

- Caramel Preemptive Stripe

- I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands . . . with nuts