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West Virginia, Where Art Thou?

Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth
by Justin Krebs

I need a friend in West Virginia...somebody I could have a beer with.

It's been nearly five years since we started drinking liberally in a backyard in Hell's Kitchen. In May, 2003, a few weeks after Mission Accomplished, progressives weren't very hopeful...and we regularly heard the joke: "Guess liberals need a few beers to dull the pain."

Our response: "No, we need a few beers while we organize." From the start, our social club wasn't about sharing depression -- it was about sharing ideas, energy and commitment.

People are now Drinking Liberally all over the country, and it spreads because local liberals grab hold and make it happen....sometimes in the unlikeliest of areas.

Our fifth chapter, beating out such liberal hotbeds as Boston and Austin, was Boise, Idaho, leading Atrios to demand of his readership why Idaho had a chapter and Philadelphia didn't. (A Philadelphia group launched within 24 hours of that blog post; the Boise chapter still meets, and has been visited by their Mayor.)

Salt Lake City -- in a deep red state not known for liberals or drinks -- has a booming chapter. There are two clubs in South Dakota, and three in Mississippi. The Idaho Falls chapter (it always comes back to Idaho) has been involved in local anti-war activism, as have our Wyoming groups.

So...what's the matter with West Virginia?

Actually: West Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Hawaii. Those are the four hold-out states left as we reach our five-year mark, with no spots for liberals to congregate and organize over a few drinks. But not for long.

Drinking Liberally turns 5 on May 29th. We're kicking off our anniversary month with a Living Liberally fundraiser this Saturday, May 10th, in New York City, honoring CREDO / Working Assets and their political director Becky Bond (with Open Lefters Matt Stoller and Mike Lux on the host committee). During the course of the month, we'll be launching a new website and new tools.

And we're going to hit all 50 states for the first time. If I have to raise a pint in North Dakota myself, we're going to do it.

But I'm hoping I won't have to travel to North Dakota (at least not this month). The 240+ chapters that exist weren't started by me -- they were started by you -- liberals that wanted to gather, build community, share stories and a few pitchers. And now we need you to help realize the social parallel to Dean's 50-State Strategy: our own 50-Bar Strategy, promoting democracy one pint at a time.

Know anybody in West Virginia?

Top 10 Outrageous Quotes From McCain's Spiritual Advisers

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying
by Katie Halper

Before Jeremiah "Obama's Pastor" Wright spews even more nonsense, and quotes even more ambassadors, we want to shed some light on the brilliant gems uttered by some of McCain's own spiritual advisers, Pastor John Hagee and Reverend Rod Parsley. When Hagee endorsed McCain, because he is a man of principle, McCain said he was "very honored by Pastor John Hagee's endorsement." Reverend Parsley calls McCain a "strong, true, consistent conservative" and McCain calls Parsley "a spiritual adviser." Because the liberal media refuses to give any credit to McCain, it is up to us to be fair and balanced. So here are the top 10 Memorable Quotes said by McCain's religious advisers:

1. "Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist."
- Pastor John Hagee in his book What Every Man Wants in a Woman (Charisma House, 2005)

2. "The Quran teaches that [all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews]. Yes, it teaches that very clearly."
-Pastor John Hagee

3. "I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans...I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that...There was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades.... The Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment."
-Pastor John Hagee

4. "The military will have difficultly recruiting healthy and strong heterosexuals for combat purposes. Why? Fighting in combat with a man in your fox hole that has AIDS or is HIV positive is double jeopardy."
- Pastor John Hagee on Don't Ask Don't Tell

5. "[Gay marriage] will open the door to incest, to polygamy, and every conceivable marriage arrangement demented minds can possibly conceive. If God does not then punish America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."
- Pastor John Hagee

6. "It is impossible to call yourself a Christian and defend homosexuality. There is no justification or acceptance of homosexuality.... Homosexuality means the death of society because homosexuals can recruit, but they cannot reproduce."
- Pastor John Hagee

7. "Only a Spirit-filled woman can submit to her husband's lead. It is the natural desire of a woman to lead through feminine manipulation of the man...Fallen women will try to dominate the marriage. The man has the God-given role to be the loving leader of the home."
- Pastor John Hagee in his book What Every Man Wants in a Woman (Charisma House, 2005)

8. "I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore."
- Rod Parsley in Silent No More (Charisma House, 2005)

9. "Gay sexuality inevitably involves brutal physical abusiveness and the unnatural imposition of alien substances into internal organs, orally and anally, that inevitably suppress the immune system and heighten susceptibility to disease."
- Rod Parsley

10. "Only 1 percent of the homosexual population in America will die of old age. The average life expectancy for a homosexual in the United States of America is 43 years of age. A lesbian can only expect to live to be 45 years of age. Homosexuals represent 2 percent of the population, yet today they're carrying 60 percent of the known cases of syphilis."
- Rod Parsley

A version of this originally appeared on Nerve Scanner.

Journalists and Scribes

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Reading Liberally Page Turner
by Amanda Milstein, Living Liberally

I was being interviewed by a radio station about a snarky article I’d written for a paper-and-ink (and also online) magazine, and they referred to me as “journalist Amanda Milstein.” This struck me as clearly false (although far be it from me to argue with them, given it sounds better than “part-time job-holding, part-time interning, soon-to-be grad student Amanda Milstein”) - and it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks so. One of the arguments made by Clay Shirkey in his new book Here Comes Everybody (which Matt mentioned here yesterday ) is that the title “journalist” is increasingly meaningless when anyone can write a blog post about an issue and publish it — and even if they are blogging about an issue as trivial as a lost phone, it is possible for them to get a large audience.

Shirky begins by describing a Gutenberg-era pamphlet written in defense of scribes, whose jobs were being taken over by the printing press. The pro-scribe argument was printed off on a printing press for maximum efficiency — it’s always bad if your chief defender can’t even be bothered to use your services. All much like how my childhood best friend’s instant messenger screenname was something like luddite77; if you’re bothering to have a screenname, you’re clearly not devoting yourself to smashing machines.

Shirky takes this prologue as a launching-pad to deal with multiple aspects of the internet community-building revolution, from the efforts of Wikipedians and lay-run online groups to help people navigate software, to the the power of informal online photo-sharing in areas where important news events are occurring. To hear Shirky extend the metaphor, as the masses are storming communication, those now called "journalists" may well soon be the scribes of our era. The ways we meet people, communicate with friends, form community and many other facets of our lives will dramatically change as well.

While I found the book a bit tedious to read, it was clearly well-researched, and had much to say that will help people understand the new dissemination of information we are witnessing in our society. If you're interested in a nibble of Shirky's ideas before you commit to the many-course meal of his book, check out his blog first.

Sometimes I wish I could cast off modern technology and just go hang out with people in the park, and potluck in my spare time. And then I run off to send those I will soon be picnicking with a frantic g-chat message to make sure that someone knows to bring plates, check my friends' blogs to make sure I am updated on the key events of their lives — and still kind of wish I could communicate via loud drum. But, as Shirky points out, the technological and communication revolution is irreversibly upon us, and we just need to figure out how to adjust to the huge new swaths of information that are now available. I personally plan on configuring my google reader to scream at me to go outside instead of keeping up on my friends' blogs — right after I change my screenname to luddite88.

One Small Step For Liberals, One Long Bike Ride For Houstonians

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Biking Liberally Pedal For Progressivism
by David Robertson, Drinking Liberally Houston

For tonight's look at promoting liberal ideas through living liberally, we wanted to highlight one of the coolest projects that've come out of our Drinking Liberally chapters in recent months - Biking Liberally, an effort to get Houston liberals to live their values through their mode of transportation. I'll let David, the main organizer, take it away from here.

One day at Drinking Liberally, I biked and another member biked as well. While here we were discussing the MS 150 ride leaving Houston, I asked, "Why not have a Biking Liberally group?" E-mails were sent and replies were received. The word was out. Biking Liberally was born.

As I am an avid biker of the roads, as are many of the other DL'ers, Houston has many trails to offer us. I thought as a group we could exploit these routes less taken. I realized the group would promote exercise and friendship one mile at bikekid.JPG
We met at Onion Creek, a local bar in the Heights, which hosted a benefit for the MS 150 ride later that day. The ride was small but fun was rampant. We had a strong showing of five people, including (I believe) the youngest member ever to come to BL or DL. (He is two years old.) We toured the David Addicks gallery, where you can find busts of former presidents. From there we visited Washington Cementary, a new park, Discovery Green, and finally the Menil Museum.

Back at Onion Creek, we partook in lunch and beer. Four more Drinking Liberals joined us and we had a great time talking about whatever.

I just never knew that biking and drinking could go so well back to back. I just really want more people to become familiar with all the trails that Houston has to offer and enjoy the city's beauty.

The future holds many more BL trips as people from the last DL requested it more frequently. My plans are to host at least one to two bike rides each month in hopes that this will help the group grow more bikers. I believe that, as the word gets out, this will happen - we are looking to expand into themes for each ride. a time, took the idea from a another biking group in town and made it my own extension of DL.

If Science Is For Liberals, Then So Is Bonk

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Reading Liberally Page Turner
by Amanda Milstein, Living Liberally

Today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding a hearing about the catastrophe that is Abstinence-Only Education. In honor of that, I am reviewing Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by Mary Roach, while filled with hope (OK, I am way too cynical to be filled with anything that even remotely resembles hope) that, in the future, science and sex will be more closely linked in classrooms around the United States.

"Since when did Science become a liberal issue?" a comic asked at last week's Laughing Liberally in NYC. I would guess that that occurred sometime between when Galileo got in trouble with the church and the Scopes Trial. But now the truth is oddly liberal, so I hereby claim Bonk for liberals and those with a high threshold for the somewhat alarming.

I was going to a Passover retreat with a left-leaning crowd and was placed in charge of books and games, so I decided Bonk would be able to entertain pretty much everyone for seventy-two hours. This was more than true — I at least entertained myself by interrupting discussions on Jewish law in order to read people quotes about testicular grafting surgery such as "At one point [the surgery-performing doctor] described curing a twenty-two year old youth of, among other afflictions, the 'frequent writing of incoherent, rambling dissertations on architecture.' It seemed no ailment stood strong in the face of another man's testis."

Seriously, is that funnier than what you can and cannot eat on Passover, or what?

I spent most of my time reading Bonk laughing so hard that I was either forced to read passages out loud or having people read over my shoulder because they wanted to know what was so funny. During a bus ride from New York to Silver Spring I read the book at the same time as a friend because we both refused to put it down.

Mary Roach discusses a variety of sexual experiments performed by such notables as Masters and Johnson, and weirdos like the great grand-niece of Napoleon Bonaparte. Roach is experimented on numerous times (she and her husband have sex in an MRI machine, she inserts a vaginal photoplethysmograph while being experimented on in a place called the Female Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory), she visits a sex-toy factory, and discusses historical sexual scientific advances and mishaps in a way that caused me to laugh so hard I thought I would sustain serious injury to my lungs. Bonk is a gleeful and hilarious exploration of the past and future of sexual science, and covers a variety of vital topics, from a discussion of the dangers of severed penises being eaten by ducks, bizarre cures for impotence, to everything else weird and related to sex that you would, quite frankly, never be able to imagine.

Maybe America's children don't need to know how to most efficiently stimulate pigs while artificially inseminating them (There are five steps that apparently include bouncing the pig up and down — I don't really want to describe the other steps), but it would be nice if they knew enough to know more than teens in Florida, a state with abstinence-only education leads sexually active teenagers to believe that "...drinking a can of Mt. Dew would prevent unintended pregnancy, or drinking a capful of bleach would prevent HIV/AIDS." Because the science of sex can be hilarious, but not knowing anything can be downright tragic.

'Scuse Me While I Eat The Sky

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Eating Liberally Food For Thought
by Kerry Trueman

Barbie and I don’t have a lot in common. For one thing, I’m biodegradable and she’s not. But we do agree on one thing; math is hard. For example, how is it that Lisa Simpson’s been a vegetarian for thirteen years when she’s only 8 years old? Is it possible that an anti-oxidant-rich plant-based diet has the power not only to delay the aging process but actually reverse it?

But while eternal tweener Lisa’s the token treehugger in the Simpson household, it’s Bart who’s got the perfect prescription for how to cool Mother Nature’s fevered brow: don’t have a cow. Literally. The less meat you grill, the more you help the planet chill.

Now, before you dismiss me as some kinda free-range Chicken Little, clucking about the catastrophic consequences of our fossil-fueled food chain, you should know that I’m not the only one warning that burgers do more harm than hummers.

Activist/author Anna Lappé’s been looking up at the sky, too, but while I’ve been running around squawking that it’s falling, her brand new campaign Take A Bite Out Of Climate Change looks up and sees a sunny solution--a plant-based food chain founded on the ultimate renewable energy source, solar power.

Lappé’s upcoming book, Eat the Sky: Food, Farming, and the Climate Crisis, will no doubt help spread the word about the wonders of foods grown through the natural miracle of photosynthesis instead of that man-made marvel, synthetic fertilizers, and the power of a naturally biodiverse, balanced ecosystem to protect plants from pests and disease instead of pouring on toxic pesticides.

But in the meantime, she’s put together a wonderful, non-wonky website that lays out for the layperson why switching to a diet dominated by locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables is one of the single most significant things you can do to curb your carbon footprint.

This is a huge public service and a tremendous boon to me, personally, because my endless chanting of the “eat-less-meat” mantra elicits plenty of puzzled looks from folks who can’t grasp the notion that a veggie-centric diet does more to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions than driving a hybrid car. I have been trying to get this message out for a while, now (which, in the interests of full disclosure, may be why Lappé put me on Take A Bite’s advisory council,) but now I can just say, “Go to takeabite.cc and see for yourself!”

Lappé is on a mission to liberate us from a food chain that relies on a systemic abuse of land, animals and people. Industrial agriculture is essentially a failed coup on Mother Earth, a tragically arrogant attempt to overrule the laws of nature, and now it’s coming back to bite us on our ever-expanding asses. It’s fouled our air, water and soil, spoiled our health and worsened global warming.

But Take A Bite’s raison d’etre is not to bum you out about the ecological disaster we call Agribiz; its purpose is to provide you with all the information and resources you need to lighten up your carbon footprint in the most delightful and delicious way. So thanks to Anna and her crew for stepping up to the solar-powered plate. Now even us Henny Pennys can look up and say, here comes the sun!

Chris Matthews Demonstrates Our Fourth Estate is Third Rate on Real Time (And Nobody Notices!)

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying
by Katie Halper

In case anyone missed Wednesday's tragic-comic debate and needs more proof that the fourth estate is third rate, Chris Matthews was more than happy to oblige on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher. Not only did Matthews contradict reality, he contradicted himself.

As usual, Matthews spoke from a position of fabricated and self-appointed authority, this time as as the spokesman of all blue collar men in Pennsylvania. And, once again, Matthews projected his own emotional baggage as fact, explaining that men go to diners in the morning because "they don't want to hang out with their wives for an hour and they want that hour away..."

Being the great comic that he is, Bill Maher segued seamlessly from Matthews' "Take my wife" set up into the following question:

Speaking of which, you have been criticized as being a little sexist about Hillary.... Don't you think she has a point that gender has actually been a bigger factor in this campaign than race?

Without missing a beat, a cocksure and visibly self impressed Matthews replied:

No, actually there are more women democrats than there are male democrats. That should help her.

What does his answer have to do with the question? How does a higher percentage of female Democrats prove that gender is not an issue in this campaign? But Matthews really showed off his reason-free reasoning when, he responded to Maher's question about why Hillary was "doing better with Catholics" by saying:

Chris Matthews:

That's a great question, that is a great one... 65% in Pennsylvania right now against 26%. I bet she goes up to 70, 75. I think that's just another word for Catholics, small town, middle class, I don't know I can't quite explain it. I don't know the answer to that.

BM: "Wow, I stumped Chris Matthews! I should win something."

Not to be outdone or stumped, the critically thinking Matthews surmised:

Maybe... Lemme find an issue you agree with the Pope on here. You're both against the war in Iraq. Catholics are generally against the war in Iraq, Hillary voted for it. Maybe that would be a logical reason, I'm not sure it's the real reason. But that would make sense.

What? Anti-war Catholic resentment of a war-voting Hillary WOULD make sense... If Matthews were explaining why Hillary is UNPOPULAR among Catholics. But since Matthews himself offers statistics demonstrating Hillary's popularity among Catholics, he just presented an illogical, contradictory explanation.

So why this explanation? In the words of Matthews, that's a great question, that is a great one... don't know the answer to that... Maybe the answer is that Matthews has a blinding anti-Hillary bias which prevents his brain from registering any Hillary popularity. Or maybe the answer is that Matthews just isn't the brightest crayon in the box, in spite of his fluency in statistics and stereotyping.

Bill didn't catch Chris's illogical explanations on gender or Catholics. But in all fairness, it's hard to keep up with Matthews non-stop cerebral flatulence. And Maher did call out Chris's inanity earlier in the interview, when the pundit waxed nostalgic about the 2004 election:

CM: They asked the question which one of the candidates would help you, Bush or Kerry, if your car was broken down on the road... would stop and help you. Neither guy got 50% but Bush beat out Kerry. And that was a disaster. Because if you're a Democrat and people don't think you're gonna look out for the other guy, you're finished because you're not gonna win on law and order, or national security or all that stuff--

BM: But Chris the president is never on the highway. That would never come up. It has nothing to do with how a president affects people's live

CM: I know. it's about is this guy on our side or not.

Well, if we were to ask ourselves if Chris was on our side or not, I'm pretty sure the answer would be no. If our side wanted truth over truthiness.

Pranktivism: Obesity Exchange

Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying

Our very own Lee Camp is here to talk about his solution for America's nutritional crisis.