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Blogging Liberally: How to recover from your patriotic hangover

1. Matt Yglesias shows what John McCain's economic proposals can do for you... if you are a big oil company. He also liked Hancock. We did too, more on that later.

2. Salon covers Sebelius's VP prospects. A female Mike Bloomberg?

3. The bible belt really eats liberally.

4. Conservatives "Ready to Battle" McCain thus proving that the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.

5. Obama will accept the nomination in a 75,000 seat football stadium on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech". Chills. 'Twill be awesome.

6. Need another reason not to attack Iran?

7. Amy Goodman tackles Obama's centrism.

8. It seems that the Iraqi government may set a timetable for withdrawal.

9. Ever wondered why my.barackobama is so much like Facebook?

10. California and New York (in 2010) are requiring new cars to display a "Global Warming Score", showing how "green" the vehicle really is. Apparently this is so people can throw things at cars with low scores.

A Dirty Picture For Patriots Of All Ages

Forget about science fiction; WALL-E is séance fiction—it channels the soul of our land-loving founding father, Thomas Jefferson. Now that a handful of loose wingnuts is denouncing WALL-E as a piece of pro-planet propaganda, I’d like to note, for the record, that Jefferson would have absolutely loved WALL-E.

Normally, I wouldn’t presume to speak for the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, but given Jefferson’s reverence for our most precious resource, i.e., the soil, he surely would have appreciated the underlying message of Pixar’s latest animated opus—that it’s our civic duty to be good stewards of the land.

Yeah, yeah, I know that WALL-E’s creator, Andrew Stanton, is insisting that WALL-E is first and foremost a love story, but the whole plot hinges on another relationship: the one between us and the dirt beneath our feet. Jefferson was an early advocate of maintaining soil fertility through such practices as crop rotation, and would doubtless be horrified by the pollution and depletion of our topsoil that’s become standard operating procedure since the advent of industrial agriculture.

(Of course, he’d also be appalled that the Fourth of July has turned into a giant meat-fest; Jefferson was an unabashed lover of fruits and veggies who maintained that produce should dominate our diet and meat should be used sparingly, as a “seasoning” or “condiment.”)

Set in the year 2815, 700 years after the Earth’s been trashed by mindless consumers and a monolithic corporation named Buy n Large, WALL-E depicts a nation whose excesses have launched it into perpetual astro-exile on a fleet of super-duper Buy n Large-sponsored spaceships. Its morbidly obese, infantalized citizens, too fat to stand upright, zip around aimlessly on their hovercraft-style loungers sipping sodas, playing video games, and awaiting the day the Earth will have detoxed enough to be “recolonized.”

Some folks are eager to dismiss this cautionary tale of a corpulent corporatocracy as a far-fetched scenario aimed at advancing some eco-extremist agenda, but it’s an eerie echo of the warnings from Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer-Prize winning UCLA professor of geography and author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In a precursor to Collapse that Diamond wrote for Harper’s back in 2003, he challenged the conventional wisdom that we have to weigh environmental concerns against economic considerations, citing the popular misconception that:

…we must balance the environment against human needs. That reasoning is exactly upside-down. Human needs and a healthy environment are not opposing claims that must be balanced; instead, they are inexorably linked by chains of cause and effect. We need a healthy environment because we need clean water, clean air, wood, and food from the ocean, plus soil and sunlight to grow crops. We need functioning natural ecosystems, with their native species of earthworms, bees, plants, and microbes, to generate and aerate our soils, pollinate our crops, decompose our wastes, and produce our oxygen. We need to prevent toxic substances from accumulating in our water and air and soil…Our strongest arguments for a healthy environment are selfish: we want it for ourselves, not for threatened species like snail darters, spotted owls, and Furbish louseworts.

In WALL-E’s world, mankind has failed to recognize this inexorable link, forcing a mass exodus into outer space and leaving behind a barren landscape littered with post-consumer crap and unable to support any vegetation.

Watching WALL-E trundle through this lifeless landscape on his daily rounds, compacting garbage and salvaging such manmade marvels as a spork and a Rubik’s cube, you realize that it’s not about saving the earth. The planet will, in all likelihood, be able to withstand whatever drastic alterations to its ecosystem we’ve unwittingly unleashed. It’s ourselves we have to save.

Will we figure this out in time to avert the kind of catastrophic future portrayed in WALL-E? As Diamond notes in Collapse:

:Perhaps the crux of success or failure of a society is to know which core values to hold onto, and which ones to discard and replace with new values."

If only we had a clue about what to discard and what to replace. After leaving a matinee of WALL-E last weekend, I stopped into the Chelsea Home Depot, which, in a rare concession to place, is housed in an elegant turn-of-the-century cast-iron building. On my way to the garden department to buy mulch for my windowboxes, I passed a display of cheap kitchen faucets with a sign reading, “Why Fix It When You Can Replace It?”

No wonder we’re the trashiest people on the planet. If the Great Pacific Garbage Patch grows any bigger, we’ll have to colonize it and declare it the 51st state. The signs that our habitat’s under siege are everywhere, but our “Drive All You Want, We’ll Drill More” culture motors on, oblivious. With the cost of a barrel of oil setting new records each day, more and more Americans reportedly support the idea of offshore drilling, despite the fact that it can’t possibly solve the underlying problem that demand is increasingly going to outstrip supply as China and India follow in our tire tracks.

Sadly, WALL-E’s anti-consumer, anti-corporate message is undermined by the regrettable array of cheap, mass-produced WALL-E tchotchkes destined for the garbage heap. It’s a shame that Pixar couldn’t pass on the obligatory merchandise tie-ins, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the film’s S.O.S: Save Our Soil. It’s a message that this nation of babies, big and small, needs to heed. Colony collapse disorder—it’s not just for bees!

Reading Liberally: Read of the Day

The one report that every liberal must read today

by Media Matters

Media Matters reminds us that General Clark did not criticize McCain. The mainstream media has picked up on and is trying to legitimize the McCain Campaign's talking points. As a liberal, you need to make sure the truth gets out there. Keep 'em honest.

Daniel Mintz is Living Liberally

Talking Liberally Progressive Parley
by Seth Pearce, Living Liberally Blog

Part of Living Liberally's mission has been to promote engagement and collaboration among progressive organizations. To fulfill this goal we at Living Liberally have decided to feature interviews with people involved in different parts of the progressive movement. Hopefully, through these interviews, we can learn about what progressives are working on today, and get a little more in depth about what its like to be a part of the progressive movement.

Our first interviewee, Daniel Mintz, is in Research and Development at progressive powerhouse Political Action. He currently lives in Brooklyn and every once in a while shows up at the Original Drinking Liberally. Enjoy!

Seth Pearce: So, what did your parents say when your organization was condemned by the US congress?
Daniel Mintz: I think, they, like a lot of people, were just blown away that with so many huge problems to tackle, the US Congress decided to spend so much time talking about a newspaper ad. Just like, whether you agreed or disagreed with the ad, what a manufactured controversy.

SP: What exactly do you do at MoveOn?
DM: Officially, I'm in charge of Research and Development, which is to say that I'm the R&D dept. (we're a pretty tiny shop). What that means in practice is that I get to have my hands in lots of cool stuff that we're trying out.

SP: Stuff John McCain would know how to use?
DM: Not so much.

SP: People think of MoveOn as this big shadowy progressive organization, running some kind of secret progressive world order- what are some specific things that MoveOn is working on right now?
DM: Ha. What are we working on right now?...Let's see...We're getting ready to run a massive get out the vote operation in the fall, hundreds of paid organizers working with tens of thousands of volunteers. We'll be essentially combining our 2004 program, Leave No Voter Behind, where people in swing states canvassed their neighbors, with our 2006 program, Call for Change, where MoveOn members across the country made more than 7 million calls to voters in key House and Senate races.

We're also working on FISA: Right now, we're asking thousands of MoveOn members to call their senators every day to tell them not to cave on the FISA "compromise".

And we're running a National Day of Action for an Oil-Free President at gas stations across the country in a few weeks. McCain is pretty darn tight with Big Oil. Many of the more than 100 lobbyists associated with his campaign are lobbyists for Big Oil. We wanted to highlight those ties and push for our next president to free himself and us of our dependence on foreign oil. So we're holding hundreds of gas station rallies where thousands of MoveOn members will show up at local gas stations to rally and call for a real, progressive solutions to the energy crisis.

Follow across the jump for more fresh Mintz.

Blogging Liberally: Daily Round-Up

1. Speculating on Obama’s running mate, Republicans are calling former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt their ultimate VP nightmare. Meanwhile a new poll ranks Gephardt 2nd most favorable running mate. #1 is Colin Powell.

2. Big Brother update: The government is illegally holding certain public records as "state secrets." On the hopeful side, Chief Judge Vaughan Walker just issued an opinion that leaves the case for telecom immunity somewhat undermined.

3. "President Bush Boosts Porn Industry With Economic Stimulus Plan” Supposed to generate jobs, the stimulus plan instead has generated demand for erotica.

4. Living Limbaugh: $400 Million Contract, Gulfstream, Scented Candles, And The "Business" Of Hating Liberals

5. Box office superheroes are a disappointment, some say. superheros

6. According to latest polls, campaigning in Montana is paying off for Obama.

7. Netroots activist Darcy Burner needs help. She's getting some, plus many compliments on her t-shirt.

8. "That's the most stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life." Stephen Baldwin on Fox News – endorses McCain, then unendorses himself.

9. Faceless couple attends Wimbledon. Other faceless people have been spotted. It is still unclear whether this gig is part of a new ad campaign or a grassroots protest.

10. Oil is at $146 a barrel.

11. is now a t-shirt and more historical than you might guess. Paul Thomas Anderson took Plainsview's milkshake speech straight out of a transcript from a 1924 congressional hearing on the Teapot Dome Scandal.

How to Enjoy a Dubiously Progressive Film

I should probably preface this post with an admission: I absolutely loved The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Despite the abysmally low expectations set by the first Narnia attempt, I sat through Caspian in a state of gleeful enthrallment. And from an entertainment perspective, it was a surprisingly great movie: the landscape was crafted with Peter-Jackson-level expertise, the Pevensie children have become less insufferably whiny, and the sexual tension between characters Susan Pevensie and Prince Caspian was cringe-inducingly hilarious.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the original story, Prince Caspian weaves the tale of the Pevensie children’s return to Narnia after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Since their last visit, over a thousand years have passed in Narnia and things have gotten really rough: a neighboring land has taken over everything, and all Narnians have been killed or driven into hiding. Enter attractive yet bizarrely accented Prince Caspian, the exiled heir to the throne—and Narnia’s only hope. Essentially, magical hijinks and epic battles ensue as good battles evil for power over Narnia.

Overall, Caspian is a satisfying fantasy adventure--which is not to say that the film is even close to being flawless—there were many moments when it veered into being ridiculously overwrought, unintentionally inspiring several hearty guffaws. Like the first moment that Aslan appears, beams of light triumphantly shooting out of his mane, in a blatant "Thank God! It’s Jesus!" moment. (C.S. Lewis’s original Narnia stories were modeled after Christian parables, with Aslan the lion serving as an obvious Jesus figure).

The movie versions of the tales are produced by Walden Media, financed by notoriously conservative Christian billionaire Philip Anschutz. Which had me, a staunch athiest, pseudo-maliciously poised to pounce on any thinly-veiled attempts at conversion. Of which there were surprisingly few. Most of what could be associated with a religious purpose was ambiguous. For example, a scene in which a river swells into the shape of a giant man, who then swallows the enemy army, is simultaneously a reference to the parting of the red seas and a harmless demonstration of cool Narnian magic.

(click "Read More" to see the rest of this post)

Praying Liberally: Ring the Bells

As part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the issue of Global warming, many New England United Church of Christ congregations have begun ringing their bells.

In collaboration with, the churches are attempting to ring their church bells 350 times by December 15th, the 350th day of the year.

Now, what's so special about the number 350?

Well, right now the Carbon Dioxide concentration in our atmosphere is 383 parts per million (ppm). This high number is the result of carbon emissions from cars, factories and basically anything that burns stuff.

The goal of is to lower our atmosphere's CO2 concentration to, you guessed it, 350 ppm.

It's really great that progressive movement organizations like are reaching out to these religious communities. In true Living Liberally fashion, they are bringing politics into places where we gather, socialize, learn, love and live.

Declare Independence...from "Independents"

Conventional wisdom says that Obama
caved on FISA & talked up faith-based programs
because he's appealing to "Independents."

Who knew independents oppose the Constitution?

Obama HAD to disavow Wes Clark's comments --
though Clark only questioned his experience as leader
& specifically honored his courage and will --
since "dishonoring" McCain would turn off independents.

Who knew independents are so ill-informed?

And McCain keeps saying he's a "maverick"
as he continues his "Straight Talk Express"
because these words appeal to independents.

Who knew independents liked slogans so much?!

If "independent" voters read only the spin,
& don't read the Constitution or the news,
maybe we shouldn't ask them to decide elections.

Or maybe "independent" really means something else.

And maybe "independent" candidates
who shy away from principled stands
aren't what we're looking for either.

It's time we take strong positions,
stop listening to the media's darling tales,
and Declare our Independence...from "Independents."

Celebrate the holiday in the most American way:
sharing an evening of spirited discussion
as you share a few pitchers of liberal libations
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Happy 4th of July!