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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.

Liberal and Patriotic in Idaho Falls

Drinking Liberally Shot of Truth
by Seth Pearce

Every Fourth of July, we liberals are tasked by the need to prove that you can be both liberal and patriotic. We argue that our dissent, our protest, our standing up for what is right when the government is wrong, makes us patriotic. They argue that if we don't subscribe to the ruling party's platform 100%, we're not patriotic.

So what's a liberal to do? March in the parade? Watch fireworks? Stay home?
Turns out that our own Idaho Falls DL chapter has the answer to this progressive puzzle.

On July 4th, a dozen Idaho Falls liberal drinkers and some of their families entered a float in the local July 4th "Spirit of Freedom" parade. Of course a Drinking Liberally would call a float in such a parade "Free Spirits of Freedom." But they add, "It's about thinking, not drinking."

Standing in front of a portable bar, the crew tossed about 40 pounds of root beer flavored candy to the crowd and mounted a "Stop War" sign to the front of their patriotic vessel.

In this way, the Idaho Falls DL expressed their liberal views loud and proud and managed to join in and celebrate with the rest of their community, some liberal, some conservative but all American.

Sounds like a great to celebrate July 4th. One that's liberal, patriotic, and most importantly: awesome!

Reading Liberally: Read of the Day

The one article every liberal must read today:

by James Chapman, The Daily Mail


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 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.

Blogging Liberally: News to Ruin Your Day

1. Naomi Woolf on how Gitmo and Abu Ghraib became institutionalized sex crime rings.

2. Check out Open Left's piece about why Obama shouldn't be afraid of being called a flip-flopper. No, wait! Actually, don't!

3. Slate wonders if Al Franken's history of "racy" jokes will harm his Senate campaign; meanwhile, Sasha Baron Cohen inspires hope for the future, dread of his inevitable new catchphrase (Niiice!)

4. It seems that some Iraq vets have been drinking a little too...liberally? Sorry, we know that's kind of offensive but we just can't stop punning off of our own name...liberally!

5. Former President Bush is the best high school civics teacher ever! Except he's not functionally literate and is always trying to waterboard you during detention.

6. We Made This linked to this Flickr set of the new series of Penguin Great Ideas book covers.