Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

Trapped in Section 60: An Interview with the Directors of "Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery"

Screening Liberally Big Picture
by Katie Halper

(Disclaimer: Katie's interview subject, director Matt O'Neill, is also a co-founder of Living Liberally.)

Most Americans have never heard of Section 60, let alone visited it. But tonight, thanks to filmmakers Jon Alpert and Matt O’Neill, you can get a glimpse of the area in Arlington National Cemetery where the men and women who have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are buried. Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery is the third of a trilogy of collaborations between the filmmakers and HBO that capture the costs of the current wars. Section 60, in fact, picks up where Baghdad ER left off. The tragic death from shrapnel wounds of 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Robert T. Mininger comes at the unforgettable end of Baghdad ER. Their latest documentary opens with a mother visiting the grave of her son “Bobby.” Unlike like the action-packed Baghdad ER or the stylized Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, Section 60 offers an almost unmediated view into the lives of the men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, who, week after week, day after day, find solace, community, and a place to grieve visiting their lost loved ones in Section 60.

The Emmy Award-winning directors are based in NY out of DCTV. Yesterday they were in Washington D.C. to attend a special TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) screening of their film at the Navy Memorial. I caught up with Alpert and O’Neill over the phone as they got ready for the screening and talked to me about why Section 60 matters now, how making this film affected them in a way no other documentary has, and what it’s like feeling “trapped in Section 60.”

Check out Section 60 on HBO at the screening times linked here.

Pulling the Left Lever

We like the Working Families Party.

Now, hold on: Living Liberally is a non-endorsing organization. That's true. We don't endorse any Presidential candidate, and party or any candidates at other levels.

But when we see something creative that works, we praise it.

The Working Families Party saw a problem in New York: many Democrats weren't being particularly progressive. So they took advantage of NY law that allows candidates to run on multiple party lines and receive the cumulative votes of those parties. And they started demanding candidates act progressive to get their endorsement.

This has led to some progressive victories; it's led to some otherwise stagnant folks taking bolder stances and facing real challenges; and this year, it will allow some New Yorkers to "Vote Change Like You Mean It."

You see, they are asking New Yorkers to vote for Obama on their line -- and The Nation has now endorsed this plan. This way folks who are disgruntled with Obama's "post-partisan" centrism and caution can elect him while still sending a signal that they want more.

Vote for whoever you want this election. But recognize the creativity and potential effectiveness of this move. And, if you're on the other side of the aisle, steal their idea; create a party of your own; and tell candidates they should never take anyone for granted.

Billionaires for Billionaires

Imagine if affairs in Iraq took a negative turn, or -- the worst case scenario -- there was a threat, or even attack, here at home, and President Bush announced that since he's the best "War President" we've got, he thought we should postpone the elections until things got better.

What would we do? We'd laugh him out of office faster than New Yorkers turned on "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani, when he suggested delaying the '01 elections shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Why then are so many New Yorkers cool with Billionaire Bloomberg's current power grab? Defying a twice-passed popular referendum establishing term limits; buying off the past chief supporter of term limits by offering him a seat on the reform committee; co-opting legislative support from a City Council that wants to keep their own jobs; and, oh yeah, claiming that it's because in these economic times, he is who we need.

If Bloomberg and his allies made an honest argument against term limits, that would be one thing; but to claim that this crisis compels them to serve is absurd. required an absurd response.

That's why we're glad to see the Billionaires for Bush (and creators of Lobbyists for McCain) getting into the action: Billionaires for Bloomberg. They joined Council Speaker Christine Quinn (at a press conference her own Democratic colleagues didn't attend) to remind the world that billionaires are in favor of giving Bloomberg what he wants...and, through the laughter, challenging us to realize maybe it's not in all of our best interests.

Bloomberg is popular and many people may want him to keep serving; but City Council overturning a popular referendum, based on pretty thin, disingenuous arguments, isn't the way to do it. And sometimes it takes humor to cut through the groupthink.

Wall Street's Way to Forgive & Forget: We Give, They Get

We'll spend $850 billion for the health of Wall Street,
but the GOP is scared to spend a fraction of that
on the health of all Americans.

We'll rescue AIG with $85 billion & $38 billion more,
but the Right argues over whether to rescue families
who are facing foreclosures on their homes.

We've allowed an industry that rewards failed CEOs,
but conservatives think regular Americans
deserve to be punished when they fail to pay the bills.

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement,
it's appropriate to discuss forgiving & forgetting.
Thus Wall Street's for us giving & for them getting.

If you're fasting, come break fast,
& if not, come in a spirit of starting fresh
as you share drinks, share ideas & share an evening
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

The Reason Many Of Us Are In Politics

Exciting news -- next Tuesday, October 14th, Screening Liberally invites you to the NY premiere of W. - the Oliver Stone flick about the man who brought so many of us into politics.

We promise it won't be a lame night as we roast this lame duck. Come and join us.

You will need a pass -- and to get it, you've got to come to us.

Get your complimentary pass for two by coming to:
- Drinking Liberally - Thursday Oct 9th - 7:30 onward at Rudy's on 9th between 44th & 45th
- Laughing Liberally - Monday Oct 13th - 8pm at The Grisley Pear on MacDougal between Bleecker and West 3rd.

We'll be giving out 50 passes at each event. And passes don't guarantee admission -- you'll still need to get there a little early. While we can't yet tell you where it will be, we can say it will be at a midtown Manhattan theater at 7:30pm.

We will have a happy hour post-film TBA.

More about "W.":

Whether you love him or hate him, there is no question that George W. Bush is one of the most controversial public figures in recent memory. In an unprecedented undertaking, acclaimed director Oliver Stone is bringing the life of our 43rd President to the big screen as only he can. W. takes viewers through Bush's eventful life -- his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to his decision to invade Iraq.

Apocalypse John

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying
by James Adomian

In preparation for tonight's debate...

Other Fun Press

There have been events going on all around the country for the debates...and a few of them have gotten fun press.

The Salt Lake City chapter was covered by local TV -- you can see the article here (who knew that Utah residents were "Utahns"?!) and supposedly there's video but I'm too McCainiac in my tech skills to figure it out.

They make a nice contrast between how young progressives party, and how the young Republicans do it...which is also captured in this piece on Dutch TV. It's totally worth watching (the site's in Dutch, but click "Bekijk Item" to see it) as it juxtaposes the passed-appetizer, tie-wearing, buttoned-up conservatives with the sweatier, more raucous, more diverse party at The Tank (photo courtesy of Matt Stoller).

And lastly, a fun article out of Athens, Georgia about the local chapter. Because it's in a college town, it does a good job emphasizing that there are plenty of responsible ways to Drinking Liberally.

Booze, Boos & Camera Crews

There must have been something in the water at Rudy's...oh, right, it was beer.

The backyard where DL began 5 years ago was as packed as I've ever seen it -- and in addition to the Liberal Drinkers, there were some lurkers from the press. Three camera crews came by to get the DL perspective.

Here's what the local CBS station had to say (includes me being snide and former Living Liberally press guru Emily Farris doing a momentary Palin impression).

NY1 and Fox 5 were both there as well -- searching for NY1 footage now.

Did She Just Say "White Pajama"? No...She Didn't...

Last night was crazy in New York City. Drinking Liberally ended up hosting three events in Manhattan just to make sure we had enough space, and our venues still were packed.

Laughing Liberally comedian Elon James White captured the spirit of the night and repackaged it fast into today's episode of This Week in Blackness. Elon interviewed two groups of debate-watchers for their views: people of color, and white women.

Of course, white or black, man or woman, everyone shared one thing: they were drinking...liberally...