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Republicans Prove Their Commitment to White People

Republicans are shocked and appalled that a racist pin which reads "If Obama is President...Will we still call it the White House?" was sold at the Texas Republican Party convention. To show their commitment to combating racism, the GOP is donating the money raised by the vendor to help flood victims in the Midwest. They also stipulated that under no circumstances could any of the money go to Katrina victims who are still without homes, neighbors, trailers or security. The difference, of course, as Rush Limbaugh explains, is that the people of Iowa and Illinois are "the heartland...and the backbone of America," while people of the gulf coast, are the infected appendix of the U.S., and "a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters...shooting cops....raping people on the street...whining and moaning--where's FEMA, where's BUSH."

The Routine That Got George Carlin Arrested

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying

We'll have more on the passing of George Carlin later in the week, but we didn't want the day to pass without a small tribute to one of the most important anti-authoritarian comedians of the last 50 years. We present the routine that got Carlin arrested, and which found itself at the Supreme Court:

Why Do You Need a "Progressive" Book Club?

Reading Liberally Page Turner
by Justin Krebs, Living Liberally

Hooray! The Progressive Book Club is here! And in the next few days, I will receive three books -- including Cliff Schecter's "The Real McCain" -- for $1 each!

What might sound like a scheme on par with the treasure of deposed African dictators or a "Buy Now!" infomercial is actually a welcome and much-anticipated new cog in the growing progressive infrastructure: an organization that supports liberal authors and publishers, serves left-leaning literates, and rivals one of the right-wing's important tools.

And no, Cliff Schecter's not upset his book is being sent to me for a buck. Because if PBC takes off, there will be thousands of members exerting buying power together, giving authors dedicated audiences, and turning back the corrupting influence of right-wing groups that have helped push wingnuts into national notoriety.

But, when the reporter for this New York Times piece on PBC spoke to me (Living Liberally is a partner helping launch face-to-face Reading Liberally book clubs), she was skeptical.

"Why do you need a 'progressive' book club?" she asked. "Isn't it fair to say that like Hollywood, publishing already has a liberal bias?"

And that all-too-prevalent assumption is exactly why we need PBC. I suggested that the success of folks like Ann Coulter shows the power of collective book-buying to create successes, and thus give someone of thin resume and thinner morals a stepping stone to punditry prominence.

"So Coulter sells books -- when Al Gore writes a book that sells too. Are liberals really having a hard time being heard?"

Yes...she equated Ann Coulter and Al Gore.

For every Gore -- you know, your run-of-the-mill author with VP experience and a Nobel price -- there are dozens of talented progressive voices that never get heard. Some notable bloggers like Jeffrey Feldman and Michael Connery can thank independent publishers like Ig for having faith in them; but then those companies need help expanding their audience.

And that's where PBC fits in.

My father doesn't read blogs. He probably won't read this post. But he reads books -- and he reads the Times. The Times told him about PBC, and he just ordered books written by netroots notables for the first time.

I always remember as we started Drinking Liberally how people asked, "You live in New York...why do you need a liberal drinking club? Isn't everyone liberal?" The fact was those liberals needed an organizing structure which gathered and empowered them. And that's the same answer I'd give to PBC skeptics: yes, there are liberal voices, books, authors, publishers,, let's actually introduce them to one another.

And get 3 books for a dollar each in the process.

The GOP's 3 Deadly G's: Gays, Gas & Gore

As Americans feel pain at the pump,
they're open to new energy solutions,
but conservatives give the old answer: "Drill More!"

As couples in California express their love,
Americans increasingly recognize marriage equality,
but the right-wing still shouts: "Gays are Scary!"

And as the Republicans' old punching bag Al Gore,
endorses Obama, helping boost him in the polls,
the GOP just sputters: "But Gore's a loser!" McCain tries to dodge the President himself.

It's been said in the past that the Dems
have problems with Gays, Guns & God...

But as Americans views have evolved with the times,
the Right has its own 3-g problem: Gays, Gas & Gore.

And 1 more "G" -- the "GOP" --
may be McCain's biggest problem of all

Raise a glass to same-sex marriage and Al Gore
as you raise your voice, ideas & questions
with like-minded left-leaning libation-lifters
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Stopping War In A Sleepy Little Town in Idaho

Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth
by Dan Henry, Drinking Liberally Idaho Falls

We've gotten a bit of national press recently here in the sleepy little town of Idaho Falls.

First, a little background: four boys were arrested last October for vandalizing stop signs. The photo above shows some of their handiwork. Two were minors, and the details of their cases are not public. Alex and Craig, the 18-year-olds, pled guilty and were sentenced harshly – two days in jail, thousands of dollars in fines, and restitution based on the number of stop signs each admitted to stenciling.

This story has been covered a couple of times in the Post Register, our local paper (all its articles are behind a firewall, but some have been posted here.)

After paying restitution, the boys were able to take possession of the stop signs. I know that Alex got 20 signs, but I don't know about Craig. At least one of the minors got a lesser number of signs.

Last week, a local reporter picked up the story of the boys selling their stop signs. Two were sold to the Bonneville County Democrats to auction at their annual Truman Banquet fundraising dinner in May. (I bought one of the signs – we're going to use it on our Drinking Liberally Fourth of July float.)

A local discussion board posted about it. The original poster was outraged that the boys were allowed to sell their signs. I've been posting there as 'idahogie.'

But the big news is that AP picked up the local story, and Fox News ran it! So now I can say that I've been quoted by Fox News. But I still won't go on The Factor.

From the start, the case has spurred some real anti-war activism in our town. Many of us felt ashamed and embarrassed that we weren't doing enough to bring about an end to Bush's War. And it took the civil disobedience of these four boys to wake us up. My friend Debbie Troester-Solbrig said it best in our local editorial page:

"I wish I had painted 'war' on the stop signs. I wish I could say I moved people to think the way those stop signs moved me. How can these young people be criminals when they caused anyone who saw a 'stop war' sign to think about our brave soldiers, our dead, their dead and the world's loss? Every time I came upon a stop sign marked with the word 'war' in my everyday life, that one word brought the war closer to home – where it should be. Those three letters (w-a-r) caused me to stop, realize, think and contemplate: Our country is at war. Yet we go on living our normal daily lives, not thinking of the sacrifices being made each minute, each second, thousands of miles away."

The boys' action caused us to form a new group, the Snake River Freedom Coalition. We've held several peace rallies in downtown Idaho Falls. The first one drew about 140 people for two hours on a balmy 5-degree day in January. We spent Mother's Day on our local greenbelt, chalking names of casualties in Bush's War (this is a great activity to do any time, with no publicity or explanation – just start writing and be open to interaction with pedestrians). We've had lectures and movie events. We've also helped some local students to form a peace group in the local high school. And with the sale of t-shirts, we've raised over $2000 to help the boys pay their legal bills.

Our DL chapter recently sponsored the First Annual Loving Day Celebration and Progressive Awards Banquet here in Idaho Falls. It was my great honor to award Alex, Craig, and the other two boys with framed certificates that commemorate the gift they gave to us.

Lower The Heat To 350--Unless You Want To Broil

You know how those amps in the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap had a dial that went all the way to eleven? Twenty-four years later, we've become a nation of Nigel Tufnels, twiddling with the earth's thermostat and pushing it past its natural limits. This time, it's not so funny.

We're so busy worrying about $4-a-gallon gas--or the prospect of $140-a-barrel oil--that we've lost sight of a much more fundamental number: the amount of carbon dioxide, aka CO2, that's building up in our atmosphere. Right now, we're at about 385 parts per million, or ppm.

If we keep letting the C02 build up, we're heading for a Titanic catastrophe--except that there won't be any 'iceberg, right ahead!' There won't be any icebergs left at all.

Yeah, yeah, you've heard it all before, all this clucking from the Chicken Little/Cassandra contingent. Except that you haven't. There's something new. Our foremost experts on global warming, faced with mounting evidence that our climate is changing much faster than anticipated, have recently concluded that the European Union's goal of capping our CO2 levels at 550 ppm is insufficient, assuming we want to preserve life as we know it.

James Hansen, NASA's chief climatologist, put it in his stark but scholarly way:

"...if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm."

Hansen's been trying to get us to pay attention to this stuff for decades, along with a few other folks I can think of. Neil Young's been warning us for THIRTY EIGHT YEARS, going back to "After The Goldrush," when he sang, "look at Mother Nature on the run in the nineteen seventies." Now, he's amended it to "look at Mother Nature on the run in the 21st century."

And Marvin Gaye, were he only alive, could do a remake of his 1971 hit, "Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)" without changing a word:

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Where did all the blue sky go?
Poison is the wind that blows
From the north, east, south, and sea
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Radiation in the ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land?
How much more abuse from man can you stand?

How much, indeed? In 1989, Bill McKibben wrote The End of Nature, the first book about global warming for us non-wonks. McKibben warned us that we were changing the planet irrevocably and would have to make some fundamental changes in the way we live if we want life as we know it to continue.

OK, so here we are, a couple decades later, and I am pleading with you all, will you for once please just LISTEN to this guy? He wants to have a word with you. Or rather, a number. The number is 350. As in, 350 parts per million. That is the number that James Hansen and his climate change colleagues have established as the CO2 level we need to aim for if we hope to avoid six irreversible tipping points, including a massive rise in sea levels and huge changes in rainfall patterns (hello, Cedar Rapids.)

So McKibben's launching a new campaign,, with the help of a wonderful, wordless video from the folks at Free Range Studios, who gave us The Story of Stuff and The Meatrix. Because The World Needs To Know is a universal call to arms--or to legs, actually, as in, go ride a bike! Can we pedal our way to a CO2 level of 350 ppm? I don't know, but one thing's for sure: James Hansen's checked the coordinates, and this is one destination we can't get to by car.

Let’s Ask Marion: How Does Japan’s New Waist Management Plan Measure Up?

(With a click of her mouse, EatingLiberally’s kat corners Dr. Marion Nestle, NYU professor of nutrition and author of Food Politics and What to Eat:)

Kat: Japan recently passed a law requiring companies and local governments to measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. Those who exceed the government's limits--33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women-will be given three months to lose weight, and if that doesn't do the trick, "those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months," according to the Times, which adds that "the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets."

Obviously, this would never fly in the U.S., but do you think it's a good idea?

Dr. Nestle: I'm stunned by the proposal and hardly know where to begin. Talk about a cross-cultural experience! In Japan, we have one of the healthiest and long living populations in the world on the verge of putting on weight and developing heart disease and diabetes just like our society. But unlike ours, the Japanese government is taking the situation head on. The plan is so not American in this level of social engineering. We don't do things quite like this.

One striking similarity is the focus on personal responsibility. Where is the social responsibility? Not a word about that. What is the Japanese government planning to offer in the way of advice to eat less, control portion sizes, and move more? And does it plan to address changes in the food environment needed to promote healthier choices by individuals? Has the government thought about encouraging food companies to offer smaller portions, make healthier foods the default, promote traditional Japanese diets instead of fast food, and take other such actions?

Evidently, the Japanese government is serious about keeping its citizens healthy, and that's great. But is it serious enough to tackle the environmental as well as the personal determinants of overweight? Or, alas, is this another government that views weight gain strictly as a matter of individual responsibility without asking food companies, employers, and legislators to take some responsibility too. If so, maybe the Japanese are more like us than we think. I, for one, will be watching what happens there with great interest.

Sometimes a Liberal Just Needs to Laugh - When Drinking Isn't Enough

Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth
by John E, Square State/DL Denver

Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead recently paid a visit to our Denver Drinking Liberally chapter, and our long-standing host/blogger John E. provided us not only a full account, but his thoughts on humor as a progressive organizing tool - enjoy.

When the opportunity presented itself to see The Liberal Comic, Lizz Winstead, co-founder of The Daily Show and Air America Radio, perform in our little cow-town, how could we say no? When we were asked if we'd be interested in doing any other sort of Drinking Liberally event with Ms. Winstead, the answer wasn't yes, it was can I cook her dinner too?

Back in the real world, those of us liberal activists, bloggers, volunteers, etc, contend with slanted dead tree media political coverage, television political coverage where orders of magnitude more people would rather watch Rock of Love, and political mud slinging all while our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors are dying for what President Bush once had the temerity to call, "a noble cause". While lobbyist scandal after bribery scandal unfolds new connections are made to this corruption here in Colorado by the name of Bob Schaffer. During all of this we'd like to see solutions to heathcare, a responsible plan for Iraq implemented, a solution to global warming, and an economy cleaned up after just being dunked one more time in the toilet.

After all of that, drinking isn't enough. We need the kind of emotional release that only liberal comedy can give. Comedy that brings one to conclusions about reality one wasn't otherwise able to approach. You're brought to the same truth, just by a different path. Sometimes you'll get the same conclusion anyway, but with comedy you get there quicker and with a great belly laugh to boot. The other way comedy works is to put all these things going on in our lives, in our government, our country and the corrosive feelings they create are exhaled away from our body, away from the mind with a great big hearty laugh. There's a reason scientists tell you to laugh. It's good for us.

Last Friday Winstead was on fire joking about such things as the spectacle of comedy in our state legislature, the "recovering" but not forgotten evangelical preacher, meth thrower awayer, and massage getter from male prostitute Ted Haggard. Haggard jokes pretty much write themselves, don't they? I won't go through all her jokes, but a woman who can joke about one's first sexual experience and compare it to the Kennedy assassination is someone who makes me feel just a little better about life though comedy.

We didn't get to cook Winstead dinner, but we did share drinks until 2 in the morning:
A version of this post originally appeared on Square State.