Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

The Daily Digest

1. Along with some journalists, attorneys and other organizations, the ACLU is suing the government.

Check out this video of a conversation with ACLU's Jameel Jaffer, The Nation's Chris Hedges and Human Rights Watch's Dinah PoKempner

2. John McCain’s top economic advisor Phil Gramm weighs in: "We’ve never been more dominant. We never had more natural advantages than we have today. We’ve sort of become a nation of whiners."

3. Journalists report Obama raised $30 Million in June; McCain raised $22 million. Some are underwhelmed, some are questioning the numbers.

4. Josh Bolotsky calls it "Obamadodd"

5. Democratic Campaign for the Congressional Committee releases its blueprint for ad marketing.

6. The Horror, the Horror, Iraq was for Oil, a Bill Moyers essay

8. Iran shows a missle test on TV. Washington reacts by preparing to deploy part of its antiballistic missile shield.

9. Lawrence Lessig: Obama’s vote on FISA is not surprising, but he did self-swiftboat

10. Veteran Affairs bans voter registration drives, making it difficult for veterans to vote

11. Psychedelics are again being considered a good medical alternative. The new scientific theory: take whatever makes you feel good.

Lunch at the Century Foundation

Today The Century Foundation hosted the first of three summer brown bag luncheons. Their lovely upper-east side building brimmed with bright, young, progressive, public-policy minded teens and twenty-somethings all eager to listen to a four-person panel discuss our country’s current economic conditions. Forecasts were grim across the board. Economic mobility is an elusive ideal, activist Amaad Rivera explained. Tamara Draut, Director of the Economic Opportuity Program at Demos painted an analogy: While our parent’s generation rode through the job market on an escalator, those entering the job market today will find themselves riding on a moving walkway. Journalist Daniel Brook zeroed in on the ever widening wealth gap. Our economy is unsustainable.

Hard words to swallow for young idealists such as myself. But of course, give the bad news first and save the glass of hope for last. Veteran journalist Jeff Madrick provided the rallying call: what we need is not idealism but pragmatism. "Vote, keep voting and don’t give up. Remember your vote counts," he concluded.

The Century Foundation is a great resource for young people, and their events are well managed and stress-free. I recommend going to the next luncheon. It will be on the impact of the youth vote. Bring your lunch, get a free drink and cookie and get some pragmatic advice. For webcasts and more information, check out their website .

The Future Majority of Praying Liberally?

Check out our discussion of the future of the religious left over at Future Majority. Here is a key section:

With interest in religion and spirituality rising on college campuses, andthe fact that the millennial generation is one of the most liberal ever, the community potential is there.

Plus, The fact is there are many progressive religious youth orgs, such as Mitzvah Corps, that get young people engaged in social justice and other progressive causes.

But unlike conservative religious youth groups, progressive ones don't usually self-identify in ways that would explicitly denote them as progressive organizations. Also, these groups haven't formed solid coalitions with the progressive movement, and in that they fail to act as a legitimate gateway for youth into the progressive movement. Introducing youth involved with religious programs into the greater movement was one of the Religious Right's key skills as they grew their power in the last decades of the 20th century.

The progressive movement needs to build connections with these progressive religious youth groups through more liberal faith communities such as the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist and Episcopalian churches, and the Reform and Reconstructionist Jewish movements. As well as the younger, more liberal generation of church-goers at traditionally conservative churches.

This relationship between "Church" and Progressive Movement could provide us with great new leaders, who like Barack Obama, would come to the progressive movement through their faith community. It could also infuse these religious organizations with new energy, connecting young people to faith in new ways and expanding the opportunities offered to them by their religious community as they see their church, synagogue, mosque or temple becoming more connected with their everyday lives.

Blogging Liberally: Bob Dole

1)The Pro-Viagra Ticket. McCain can’t quite remember why he wants Viagra so bad.

2)As Obama casts his vote to silence the debate on FISA. Is centrism a slippery-slope?

3)SUV sales are down, but carbon ain’t out.

4)It’s cute, it’s cuddly, It is the shiny happy polling results of an Edwards-Obama ticket.

5)Give me Beer, or Give me death! $46 Billion proves brewing and civilization are one and the same.

6)Screw the nuclear program, who let Iran get a hold of power point?

7) Jesse Jackson had a couple things to say about Barack’s nethers

Cavemen vs. Cave-ins

Senate Dems caved to a deeply unpopular Prez
by granting immunity to spying phone companies.
But it's the backward-thinking President
who made this plan his domestic legacy.

Congressional Dems consider off-shore drilling,
caving to pressures over gas prices...
but McCain's scrapping all environmental plans
& the Right denies climate change completely.

And Dems have still not changed course in Iraq.
But it's McCain's war-mongering sensibilities
that jokes about killing Iranians with cigarettes.

On one hand, anti-progress, war-like thugs.
On the other, a party that hasn't stopped them.

We definitely don't want to be ruled by Cavemen
...now let's figure how to stop these Cave-Ins.

Whether you're venting, ranting, escaping
or ready to push for a better America,
come share your thoughts & a pitcher or two
at your local progressive social club.

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

Calvin Williams is Living Liberally

Talking Liberally Progressive Parley
by Mazhira Black

Calvin Williams is a Fellowship Coordinator with Young People For, a People For the American Way Foundation initiative. He currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and spends his downtime performing spoken word, playing guitar, blogging, and occasionally brushing up on his b-boyin’ skills.

Mazhira Black: What does Young People For do and why is it important?
Calvin Williams: YP4 is a leadership development program for college students who want to create sustainable change in their communities now and identify their leadership role in the progressive movement in the future. We structure our program to support their leadership development no matter what work they want to do. It provides for our fellows the ability to identify what their leadership role will be and connects them to the networks, resources, and people who can help them take that next step.

MB: How did you get involved?
CW: I was in Montgomery Alabama teaching when I realized that my passions were pulling me deeper into social justice in a place where I could continue developing mentorships with students outside of the traditional classroom setting. I was looking for something that was grounded in the grassroots/popular education structure of allowing people to define what changes they want to see. A lot of issues connect on many levels personally and systematically; I wanted to be able to work with an organization that worked for the bigger picture without trying to create an ideology that everyone else needed to follow. I realized Young People For was what I was looking for as a student when I was trying to create organizations and build coalitions at LaGrange College. Had I known that there was a broad network of students experiencing the same situation and thriving, it would have been helpful to have that network. Looking back on it at that moment I knew it was the right fit the right time, filling the right need, two years down the road I still feel that way.

MB: How do you explain to family members what you do?
CW: First I have to give concrete examples through stories about the work I do with fellows. Then I can connect it back to how this would have helped me when I was in college. The last strategy is telling them about the inspiration I gain from the fellows. Nobody is surprised about the work I do, they expect it, that or law school.

MB: When was the last time you were in awe of something a Fellow did?
CW: Its almost as though I expect to be in awe; no matter what it is, every person brings something unique to the table. I could talk about Kevin Killer, winning his primary by five votes. Or about Kari Fulton who works with the EJCC and was instrumental in coordinating the Power Shift conference. The ones who are successful in this program are the ones who set up others for success. Its always amazing for me to see when fellows build each other up and connect back to the network. Every fellow has a story.

Blogging Liberally: Who needs comedians when you have John McCain?

1.) Daily Kos’s update on the FISA debate: Votes are going down today. Stay tuned for more of what Professor of Constitional Law Jonathan Turley terms the "evisceration of the 4th Amendment"

2.) John McCain once again proves how funny jokes about killing Iranians can be. Good thing Cindy was there to poke him in the back this time, so he could alert us all to his awe-inspiring sense of humor.

3.) If only this were also a joke: John McCain shows some confusion about the concept of social security.

4.)Forget TextTwist—Slate has a fun, interactive and even educational game that lets you narrow down the vice presidential candidates!

5.) Speaking of entertaining election-themed distractions, it’s fun to watch Open Left’s maps get increasingly democratic as they predict the benefits of an Obama/Edwards partnership.

6.) If you don’t like to think that your mom might have a more active sex life than you do, this article isn’t for you. For everyone else, check out Alternet’s article on middle-aged women finding random sex on Craigslist.

Reading Liberally: A Review of John Anderson's Follow the Money

In an election year, it's difficult to concentrate on anything but the future. And that makes sense: right now our focus should be on what Obama and McCain have to offer us. But we're also coming to the end of the eight-year stretch of the worst presidential administration in history and the damage that George W. Bush and cohorts have inflicted on this country is, unfortunately, all-too-relevant to our daily lives.

Which is why it's so interesting to read John Anderson's 2007 expose of the Bush administration Follow the Money: How George W. Bush and the Texas Republicans Hog-Tied America now, in GWB's twilight years. Anderson, born and raised in Texas, presents his painstakingly researched arguments with the narrative rigor of a historian and what emerges is a startling picture of the interconnected world of the Texas republicans. "Early on," Anderson writes in his acknowledgments, "I began by amassing voluminous files, both printed and electronic, labeled 'Delay' and 'Abramoff.' At a certain point in time, I realized just how overlapping their stories were. What I had before me, I realized, was a vast web of intrigue."

Web of intrigue, indeed. Anyone who, in the face of the new election, has begun to feel the sting of Bush's legacy fade would do well to read this book and remember how orchestrated, how purposeful and how incestuous the policies of this administration were.

FISA Fight Update

Today, our friends over at Firedoglake ran a full page ad in the Washington Post, paid for by their Blue America PAC and ColorOfChange.org PAC through grassroots donations, protesting the new FISA bill.

In 2006, the New York Times won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing Bush's illegal NSA spying program. That scandal will fade away this week with the Democratic-led Congress protecting the lawbreakers, covering-up what was done and retroactively legalizing many of the surveillance crimes that were committed.

In the U.S., punishment for lawbreaking is only for "the little people." This country has the largest prison population of any in the world, imprisoning over 2.3 million citizens. But when high-level members of the political establishment commit crimes -- Richard Nixon, the Iran-Contra criminals, Lewis Libby, and the engineers of Bush's illegal spying and torture programs -- the Washington Establishment protects their elite and exempts them from the rule of law.

This week's FISA "revisions" cement this two-tiered system of justice. The nation's largest telecoms broke our spying laws for years, but Congress, awash in telecom money and influence, is about to give them retroactive lawbreaking license.

Why? Because although a crime is a crime when common Americans commit it, the Washington Establishment justifies crimes that are committed by their own as benign "policy disputes" -- or crimes committed "for our own Good."

The fight to preserve the individual liberties that the FISA act would compromise has led groups like Blue America and Color of Change to start working with former Ron Paul supports and other pretty strangebedfellows, which is what they are calling themselves through the Accountability Now PAC.

On August 8th Strangebedfellows is organizing a MONEYBOMB, a day when many many people participate in an act of synchronized donating, to a cause, in this case the Accountability Now PAC, in an effort to make news and show the people in people in power that the American people are holding them accountable for their votes on the FISA bill.

August 8th also happens to be the day when Richard Nixon resigned from the office of the Presidency after breaking the law by using illegal surveillance methods.

On a similar note, Blue America just launched a click to call tool so that you can easily ask your Senator to support the Dodd-Feingold Amendment that would remove Retroactive Telecom Immunity from the the bill.

Just Say No To War With Iran


J Street, the awesome new pro-Israel, pro-peace PAC, has been a key voice in challenging the recent saber-rattling on Iran. Amidst the clamor of the election, there has been quite a bit of talk about a possible "October Surprise" from President Bush or another attack on Iran from America or Israel in the coming months.

That's why J Street, a partner of the progressive movement, is asking Members of Congress and candidates to come out strongly against a pre-emptive attack on Iran and in support tougher, more involved diplomacy from the US.

You can sign their open letter here.