Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

Today's News Round-Up

North Korea tensions remain high. The U.S. prepares Hawaii for possible missile launch.

A saddening series of photos over Iran's disputed election.

The Senate passed a resolution apologizing for slavery.

In honor of Father's Day, Obama plans a weekend of special events highlighting fatherhood.

On the lighter side, Obama swats a fly and PETA gets upset. Be sure to watch the video in the article!

Living Liberally Upcoming Events in NYC

Living Liberally has a great line-up of events for our Summer Series at The Tank. We'll add more soon, but here’s a taste of what we have to offer in the next few weeks. Take a look, grab some of your progressive pals and come check them out!

Thursday, June 18 (Tonight!)—7 PM
SCREENING LIBERALLY SHORT FILM OPEN MIC & FILMMAKER MIXER
Join Screening Liberally and guest speaker Negin Farsad to watch short films from progressive filmmakers in the the NYC area at our open mic showcase. See event page for more details!

Wednesday, June 24—9 PM
LAUGHING LIBERALLY “OFFICE POLITICS” INTERN SHOW
All interns and like-minded progressives are invited to join our Laughing Liberally comedians for a great night of comedy—stuff you’ll want to be talking about at the water cooler.

Sunday, June 28
PICNICKING LIBERALLY AT THE GAY PRIDE PARADE
Join us in the park before and during the parade as Living Liberally spends a day "out."
Location & time: TBA (contact [email protected] for details)

Wednesday, July 1—7:30 PM
LIVING LIBERALLY PRESENTS BOB MOSER & “BLUE DIXIE”
Political writer Bob Moser, author of the book “Blue Dixie,” examines the progressive roots of the “Republican” South with comedy, live music, and free beer (see more info about this event here)

Wednesday, July 8—7:30 PM
SCREENING LIBERALLY PRESENTS “EXCUSE ME, MR. SPEAKER”
Come and watch this documentary about Paul Newell’s 2008 run against NY assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. Then, join in a discussion about the challenges facing insurgent primary candidates.

Wednesday, July 15—7:30 PM
LAUGHING LIBERALLY NIGHT OF SUPREME COMEDY
Laughing Liberally comedians providing their own spin on Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings.

Thursday's Must-Read

The discussion of health care reform, particularly in coverage by the news media, all too often perpetuates the idea that a public health care option is “controversial” amongst the American populace. The Right and those in the insurance industry have been more than willing to sell this line, and Democrats have too easily capitulated this point.

The only problem is the rhetoric doesn’t match the facts. According to several recent polls, a majority of Americans across the political spectrum favor a public health care option. So why then are we continually told to prepare for a street fight over health care? And whose interests are driving this disinformation?

Let Bob Cesca over at Huffington Post answer these questions and more!

And if you're feeling inspired, help Sen. Bernie Sanders make single-payer a reality because health care is a right, not a privilege.

The Yuengling Catastrophe, and What to Drink in the Meantime

Mike Elk over at AlterNet posted an article that broke our hearts yesterday about how Yuengling (which, ironically, I had always perceived to be the “working class beer”) recently busted their union in a big, illegal way. But, as Elk expertly perceives, the blame should not fall solely upon the brewery (follow the link; it’s a great article):

Quickly I found my outrage shifting from beyond Yuengling to the lack of U.S. labor law protecting workers from such abusive, unfair practices [...] While threatening to close a plant if a union wins such an election is highly illegal, the Yuengling Company has been able to get away with due to the weakness of U.S. labor law. According to a study recently released by Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University, employers threaten to close facilities in 57% of union elections if workers choose a union, despite the fact that this threat is carried out only 2% of the time. This is because under U.S. labor law the penalty for threatening to close plants or firing workers during a union election is that the boss merely has to post a piece of paper saying they broke the law.

The Employee Free Choice Act, which has a tumultuous history in our legislature, would most likely eliminate a lot of the threats that dissolve unions like the one at at the Yuengling Company, by bringing stronger penalties to employers who don’t follow the rules. By neutralizing the employer’s ability to threaten and therefore sway union elections, it is likely that more laborers would join unions knowing that their jobs would not be in jeopardy.

And, as Dr. Gordon Lafer pointed out in his 2008 speech to Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, the idea that a ‘secret ballot’ would signify more democratic union elections is a myth if not a pure fallacy, since employers would continue to enjoy unparalleled access to voter rolls that they could use to intimidate a worker’s choice in the booth. In the words of Alexander Hamilton (which Dr. Lafer employs) “power over a man’s purse is power over his will.”

We here at Living Liberally thought we could maybe help our fellow pining liberals find a new brew to sip that would satiate their progressive thirsts. Here are some brews we’ve noted for their green & sustainable practices, but to be honest, we’re not so sure about how they fare in terms of labor standards.

Know any good progressive brews? Got any background on these or any others you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments section.

Daily News Round-up!

By Brian Sonenstein

  • The debate continues as to whether or not the outcome of the Iranian election was fraudulent. The Washington Post (among others) have reported that Ahmadinejad’s re-election should not be quite the surprise everyone is finding it to be, as polling data collected before the election seems to indicate that the incumbent enjoyed a wide margin of support. If you’re still trying to figure out how you feel about all this, check out this article from Juan Cole’s blog “Informed Comment,” where guest-writer Monsoor Moaddel picks apart the statistics.
  • The NY Times reports that President Obama has disbanded former President Bush’s bioethics panel for its tendency to favor ideology over practicality. The commission, which exists primarily at the presidential level, is given the task of informing the public on new advances in technology while providing the administration with guidance on hot-button issues like cloning and stem-cell research. President Obama plans to reconvene a new panel with a mandate to present the administration with ‘more practical policy options.’
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with a report on arms trafficking to Mexico. It can be summed up by a quote by Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D., NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, who has been tasked to hold hearings (starting today, June 18th) on arms trafficking: "It is simply unacceptable that the United States not only consumes the majority of the drugs flowing from Mexico, but also arms the very cartels that contribute to the daily violence that is devastating Mexico."
  • Think Progress has compiled some evidence to corroborate Obama’s insight that Fox News has chosen to represent the “voice of opposition” in American media (surprise!). Some Fox contributors have even decided to speak out about it.
  • CBS News points out that the US Veterans Affairs Dept. (VA) is reaching a benchmark that it would rather avoid—1 million claims to be processed by veterans of multiple wars. Most importantly, it highlights how badly claims systems in this country must be reformed, and how our nation’s wounded heroes are still missing out on the care they more than deserve.

The Prez Gives "Bold" Whole New Meaning: "Cautious"

The President "boldly" extended some benefits
to same-sex partners of federal employees
while his Department of Justice defends DOMA
despite his campaign claim he opposes it.

He's making "bold" healthcare reform a key fight,
but nixed single-payer before the debate began.

He revealed proposals for the financial industry
& proclaimed them the "boldest" reforms since FDR --
which just doesn't say much about reforms since FDR...

Obama is giving "bold" whole new meaning: cautious.

Talk about affairs in Washington, Tehran
& even our own democratic battlefield in Albany
as you share a drink & a night
at your local progressive social club.

DRINKING LIBERALLY
Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Intriguing Gallop Polls

By Jenny McCartney

Gallup has released a few interesting polls in the last few days that are definitely worth checking out.

A poll posted yesterday shows that a year ago in 2008, 50% of Iranians were confident in the election system while 40% were not. The poll also shows that rural citizens had significantly more faith in the elections than people living in urban areas and older people had more confidence in elections than younger people.

This health care poll evaluates the American people's level of confidence in various players in the health care debate. Americans trust doctors and university professors the most, trust Obama more than Democratic leaders in Congress, and trust Republican leaders in Congress the least.

Wednesday's Must-Read

Maybe it’s because The Age of Stupid, Franny Armstrong’s new global warming film, won’t leave my mind, but this Op-Ed from the New York Times seems an essential read today. Check out Screening Liberally's review of The Age of Stupid here.

China and the US are the worst greenhouse gas emitters the world over. Any legitimate solution on climate change needs to be inclusive of all nations, but without serious commitments from key carbon producers, that solution will be an exercise in stop-gap futility. For too long these industrial behemoths have been stalling on cutting emissions, circling one another like boys at camp, daring one another to eat a bug. “I’ll only do it if he does it first.” But none of us, from Cincinnati to Shanghai, can afford to keep up this dance. We must take the first step, fully committing to December’s summit on global climate change in Copenhagen. Find out what you can do.

Daily News Round-Up

• The Huffington Post has a live blog going about the Iran crisis. It’s appropriate since technology is playing such a key role in the rebellions.
• The Washington Post reports that Obama plans to overhaul the financial regulation system. New deal anyone?
• Think Progress’s Andrea Nill posts a study that shows a close correlation between the immigration debate and the number of hate crimes Latinos. This proves an interesting connection between policy debates and social consequences. And it’s kind of terrifying.
• The AP reports that Obama will extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, a big step for gay rights from a President who hasn’t done much in the area yet.
• Feministing has an interesting guest blog from Audacia Ray about HIV in the porn industry.

State Dept Urges Twitter to Remain Open

By Brian Sonenstein

Twitter has emerged as an invaluable organizing tool in the wake of the Iranian elections. Supporters of Mir Hossein Moussavi have been using the application extensively to organize protests and marches against the alleged election-fraud of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs. While the Iranian government has blocked text messages and Facebook in hopes of dispelling these popular uprisings, Twitter has been left more-or-less untouched.

Twitter had originally scheduled maintenance last night that would have rendered the service temporarily unavailable, and journalist Andrew Sullivan (who has been blogging day and night about the events unfolding there) was not the only one who complained (via Reuters):

A U.S. official said meanwhile that the U.S. State Department had contacted Twitter at the weekend to urge it to delay a planned upgrade that could have cut daytime service to Iranians.

"We highlighted to them that this was an important form of communication," the official said of the conversation the department had with Twitter. The official, speaking in Washington, declined further details. The request was made despite the Obama administration's stated concern not to meddle in the post-election dispute.

You too can follow Moussavi on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mousavi1388 and the hash tag #IranElection.