Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

Working Together in the Progressive Movement

As part of our efforts to facilitate greater communication between progressive organizations, here is a guest post from Kathryn Fitzgerald of Young People For about their recent brown bag lunch panel on interconnectivity in the progressive movement. Enjoy!

These past few days have been full of firsts for me; my first metro north ride, my first blogpost, and most importantly hosting my first Brown Bag Lunch! On Friday, after weeks of preparation, Renia, another YP4 intern, and I hosted YP4’s first Brown Bag lunch of the summer.

We had speakers from Earth Day NY, The Harlem Children’s Zone, Young Democratic Socialists, and The National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights. It was a fabulous opportunity to hear what work is being done in areas of the progressive movement outside your own and to find out how to get involved in the work of other sectors of the movement. We started with everyone slowly trickling in, eating some pizza and mingling, building those bridges...

At 1:00 when we kicked off the event, Marianne Engelman Lado from The National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights started our panel portion of the lunch by highlighting for us the importance of the courts in the battle for equal rights; she was followed by Paul Kendrick from the Harlem Children Zone who talked about the important work being done in Harlem for disenfranchised children. He explained how HCZ works to create an educational community to ensure children are supported through every step of their education, from pre-K to college and beyond. Next we had David Duhalde from Young Democratic Socialists speak about the economic justice work being done around the country. Betta Broad from Earth Day NY closed the panel addressing what can be done in your own back yard to help the environment.

After the panel was over we opened up the discussion to the whole group to explore the different ways our issues intersect and the different ways we can work together so we all accomplish our goals. We had a great conversation and came up with several ways for progressives to come together and even more reasons why they should!

More after the jump!

Reading Liberally: Tips for Alleviating Those First-Time Nerves

Going in to host my first (and in fact, THE first in NYC) Reading Liberally last night, I was somewhat unaccountably nervous. Granted, I wasn't really thrown into hosting alone, as I was surrounded by my loyal posse of Living Liberally friends and coworkers. However, in the hopes of making Reading Liberally more of an established and regular event, I would like to bestow upon you my top tips for running a successful chapter meeting, garnered from our slightly attended yet ultimately satisfying meeting last night.

1.) Go for an intimate space where everyone can hear one another and feel connected, but make sure that wherever you go doesn't turn into an awkwardly quiet study spot at night-- this appeared to be the initial situation when I arrived at Earthmatters Cafe last night, but luckily all the nice people who were already surrounded by heaps of books and papers just shot me a few nasty glances before picking up and moving to the upper floor (so in this case, lots of extra space was a valuable asset!)

2.) Back to my previous comment about my nerves: make sure that you have at least a couple of cohorts to accompany you on your first time!

3.) Make sure that at least ONE person has read each book very well-- chances are, very few people that attend will have read any/all of the books, so the key to successful discussion in this situation is to make sure that you can summarize the book and easily move into whatever universally relevant political topic your book deals with. (On this note, it's best to have a few questions prepared for when conversation gets sparse!)

4.) Have a sign to mark your turf-- useful both in alerting the previously noted studious sorts, and in directing people to the table. I personally made a very bootleg sign by taking screen shots of the reading liberally logo and arranging them in a word document.

Finally, the most important thing is just to make sure that people come. In terms of starting a book group, the key to success (more than flyer-ing, or advertising, or random outreach) seems to be meeting people that genuinely want to experience progressive politics through literature. Here's to starting just such a Reading Liberally chapter!

Oh, and by the way, we read Free Rideby Dan Brock and Paul Waldman, both of which are worth considering for your first foray into group-friendly political lit.

The Daily Digest

1. Christian Bale arrested. Police were nice enough to wait until after London premiere of Dark Knight.

2. President Bush:
"Wall Street got drunk...and now its got a hangover"

more at ThinkProgress

3. Former advisor to George H.W. Bush schools the Bush Administration on diplomacy: 'Don’t talk about 'do we bomb [Iran] now or later?'…' By using such language 'we legitimize the use of force…and may tempt the Israelis'

Former advisor to President Jimmy Carter said 'I don’t want the public to believe a preemptive attack can be justified'

4. Barack Obama: "A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon"

5. Bush Administration thinks power plants do not emit CO2, therefore they should be further deregulated.

6. McCain Campaign Ad: Obama is the reason gas prices are rising, says McCain

7. David Brook's OpEd, The Culture of Debt

8. And one from the backfiles, Naomi Klein's fantastic article on Obama's economic ideology. Liberals be alarmed.

Praying Liberally: From Sudan to Haifa

Or Hadash is not your average Israeli synagogue. In the port city of Haifa, Or Hadash provides a home for the largest progressive Jewish community in Israel.

Rabbi Edgar Nof, the spiritual leader of the congregation, is a man deeply committed to Judaism and justice and for these purposes he has turned the synagogue into a home for all kinds of activities and community services, such as group therapy sessions for victims of terror, interfaith youth programs, immigration services for Ethopian immigrants and day care centers for local kids. He also has a contract from the City to perform Bar-Mitzvahs for youth with mental and physical disabilities.

Recently, Rabbi Nof has to take up an additional sacred responsibility. Over the past year, many refugees from Darfur have snuck into Israel to escape Sudanese genocide. This situation has cause quite a bit of debate in Israel, with some treating the refugees as enemies because of their illegal immigration from an enemy country, and others saying that as victims of the Holocaust, Israel is responsible for taking in and protecting these refugees.

Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, the Jewish state's Holocaust museum and memorial, recently wrote to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urging Israel to "show solidarity" with the Sudanese refugees and help find a solution.

"As members of the Jewish people, for whom the memory of the Holocaust burns, we cannot stand by as refugees from the genocide in Darfur hammer on our doors," Shalev wrote referring to the Nazi Holocaust, when six million Jews were killed during World War Two.

But the Israeli government has been unwilling to fully accept the refugees, jailing and deporting many of them. So when a Sudanese mother and her 3 year old daughter came to Nof's synagogue, he knew it was his duty as Jew to keep them safe. Nof enrolled the daughter in one of the synagogues preschools and gave the mother a part time job doing maintenance in the synagogue. Or Hadash also bought them an apartment and connected them to their immigrant services program.

The government recently took away the family's working papers with the threat of deportation but Nof, Or Hadash and their lawyers are fighting for the mother and her daughter's legal status. Just this week they sent a letter to Israeli authorities informing them that the family will be under the synagogues protection and they will shelter them and fight against any efforts by the government to make them leave.

Rabbi Nof and Or Hadash are great examples of a religious community that supports progressive action and liberal values. They truly are Praying Liberally.

From Upward Escalator to Flat Moving Walkway: Our Current Economic Prospects

My first introduction to the public-policy research institution The Century Foundation was indispensably informative-- I attended a lunchtime panel discussion, during which I was informed that my generation was in a startlingly dire economic situation.

Evidently, our generation (I'm 20, so a "millennial") is the first generation that is not expected to do better financially than our parents. What's more, we will face even more difficulty moving beyond class, race, and gender barriers-- despite the progressive action of more recent decades. Dismally shocking, and definitely action-inspiring!

Check out this video that The Century Foundation made covering the highlights of the panel discussion:

(the real highlight of which is obviously the brief clip of yours truly-- I'm the one in the purple dress proclaiming my newfound motivation to "do something")

The Century Foundation has more awesome youth discussions planned, so if you live in the New York area, make sure to try and catch one!

Daily Round-Up: You Provide the Blog Entries, We Provide the War.

1. Chris Hedges bemoans the decline of traditional media, hates the internets.

2. Feud Watch! Michael Savage has some strong words for "homosexual mafia group" Media Matters.

3. Doctors in South Dakota who preform abortions must now stick to a script claiming the abortion will "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being." Like the other famous pro-life script, Juno, it also features original songs by Kimya Dawson.

4. Here's the latest report on the mass Starbucks' closings. Looks as though some of these franchises will be caffeinating a little less...liberally?

5. Salon on how not to read.

Blogging Liberally: At Least Obama's Getting a Little Help from the Media

1.) High gas prices got you down? Blame Bush and Cheney! Pelosi does.

2.) Obama goes international and may even convince doubters that he knows a thing or two about world affairs (with the media's help).

3.) Bad financial times may have lasting effects on democracy as we know it.

4.) McCain humor watch: why bad jokes may lead to a bad president.

5.) In addition to enjoying stimulating democratic discussion, everyone at Netroots Nation in Texas can savor some of the highest-priced electricity in the nation! Thanks, deregulation!

6.) Evidently, both autism and athsma are the genius inventions of spoiled child extortionists-- at least according to conservative radio host Michael Savage.

International Law + Texas = Supreme Court Nightmare

Liberal Perspective
by Mazhira Black

Breaking away from his blundering diplomatic agenda, President Bush has urged the state of Texas to hold off on executing a Mexican national who is on death row and scheduled for lethal injection in August. The International Court of Justice, the highest court of the UN, has responded to an appeal made by the Mexican government for the United States review the cases of 51 Mexican nationals on death row.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the President does not have the constitutional power to issue a Memorandum demanding that the states review the files of the 48 remaining individuals eligible for review.

Although the Supreme Court recognizes the validity of the Judgment to the United States' standing in international law it has ruled that regardless of the Judgment and the President's Memorandum it is irrelevant to federal laws. Thus Texas is exempt from following the ruling.The Mexican government has requested that the United States step in to ensure that these nationals receive the review they are entitled to under the ICJ's ruling.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals chooses to treat the President's Memorandum as non binding and stands by the ruling that the President's actions are unconstitutional in trying to "pre-empt Texas state law, even in order to comply with an international law obligation".

Perhaps I'm missing something but shouldn't we be paying attention to real issues such as this loophole in the realm of federal law rather than Clinton's new part or McCain's humorless sense of humor? Is there a point to being a signatory state to the UN Charter if our judiciary branch allows individual states to override international court rulings? Thanks to this country's obsession with fleeting campaign season issues this Supreme Court ruling will fester long after the '08 buttons have left permanent holes in the garment of America.

Praying Liberally: Where do American Jews stand?

Today, J Street, the super awesome Pro-Israel Pro-Peace Jewish lobby, released their new poll of the American Jewish communities opinions on politics and American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Here's a run down of poll results:

  • 83% of Jews disapprove of George W. Bush.

  • Just 21% approve of the Iraq War.

  • 71% think Bush has done a bad job handling the Arab-Israeli conflict with 61% believing Bush has made Israel less safe and Iran stronger.

  • 60% are favorable towards Barack Obama as opposed to 34% towards McCain and 37% toward Joe Lieberman.

  • Barack Obama is also seen more favorably than the Democratic Party.

  • Only 38% are favorable towards AIPAC as opposed to the 44% favorable towards MoveOn.

  • Around 80% support a two state solution establishing a Palestinian state the West Bank and Gaza with 75% saying it necessary for Israel's security.

  • More than half want the US to tell Israel to stop expanding the settlements.

  • A plurality of Jews identify as Liberal (as opposed to Conservative, Moderate or Progressive)

The big takeaway: American Jews are Living Liberally.

They aren't, as the MSM tries to make you believe, old, crotchety, hawkish, conservative, Lieberman-lovers. It shouldn't be a surprise as the largest and fastest growing Jewish movement in the nation supports gay marriage, and has taken firm progressive stands on many issues.

One thing the media is correct about, however, is that American Jews want a strong Israel and a strong United States. And as J Street and the American Jewish community rightly realize, the only way to strengthen our countries is to establish some form of lasting peace, to negotiate with our current enemies, and to craft a US foreign policy that creates allies, instead of slighting them.

Thanks to J Street for showing that while the MSM would like to present American Jews as conservative or war-hawk moderate, the reality is that American Jews are liberal.

Blogging Liberally: All Newspapers Suck

1. The HIV Travel and Immigration Ban was repealed last night, meaning that HIV positive residents like Andrew Sullivan can now become citizens. Thanks to Senators Kerry and Smith who introduced the bill, and Biden and Lugar who put it through Congress.

2. In a big F U to the Wall Street Journal, Obama raised over 52 MILLION DOLLARS this month with an average donation of $68. Marc Ambinder sums up what this means.

3. Composting is the key to everything.

4. The bodies of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped at the outset of the second Lebanon war were returned.

5. John McCain thinks rape is hilarious.

6. John McCain thinks attacking teenage girls is hilarious.

7. John McCain thinks genocide is hilarious.

8. John McCain threatens fellow senators with waterboarding when they don't obey his will.

9. 30 Rock, which actually is hilarious, leads all sitcoms in Emmy nods.

10. TOP STORY: Hillary Clinton's new do.