Category Archives: Bi-Weekly Political Roundup

Occupy Liam Flynn’s: Our Bi-Weekly Political Roundup

Tomorrow is the second Wednesday of the month, and as usual some of Baltimore’s finest progressives of all stripes will gather for pints and politics in Station North. The Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally meets twice a month at Joe Squared, Liam Flynn’s Ale House, which will be our new home for the Winter months. Meetings are 7 pm til whenever, and open to all. Just look for the big red, white and blue bottle on the table.

Of course the big story in the news right now is the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has now spread to more than 100 cities including our own. What was at first all but a non-story has become an ongoing top national headline for the last week or so. While much of that is attributable to those in the movement who are especially tech savvy, we suspect a lot of it has to do with just plain good luck. There’s not a whole hell of a lot else happening at the moment. The news has been pretty slow this week overall, so all we’ve got to blog about is Occupy.

We’re certainly no expert in protest and demonstration tactics, but we do know that the main thing in any protest is just showing up- boots on the ground, bodies in the crowd. The Participants have done a decent job of that, but unfortunately that’s about all they’ve done so far. It’s kind of like that scene in The Jerk where Navin is asked if he’d like to be president of Shell Oil. You don’t get to run the whole system just by showing up.

Ever since the movement came to Baltimore, we’ve been in an odd position. We’re actually very sympathetic to this cause, yet all we’ve done all week is find ourselves making snarky wisecracks at the Participants’ expense. We were at the harbor during the first day of the protest, when it was mainly 20-something kids from middle class backgrounds playing campout. Those kids are easy enough to make fun of, but the truth is we felt a little guilty about not participating. (Not much.) Stopping by again Yesterday morning though, the entire face of the thing had changed. people who are used to sleeping in nice beds and eating 3 square meals a day all seemed to have found their way out of McKeldin Square, and the only people we could see about all looked like they’d recently fallen off a boxcar.

Littered signs outnumber people down there now. There’s composting going on. People have staked out their own little areas and are going about their daily ablutions in a way that makes us think that they are not the 99% but are in fact the other one percent. The one percent that is perfectly comfortable not showering for a week on end; that eats food directly from cans, that actually sees itself as America’s happy, noble poor and likes it that way.

The real 99% don’t find anything particularly noble about living in poverty, and are not happy being poor. And things are going to have to get a lot worse for them before they start showing up to occupy.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Iraq and the Arab Spring Edition

As you know, we usually only talk politics every second and fourth Wednesday, in conjunction with the regular meetings of Baltimore Drinking Liberally. Drinking Liberally will happen as scheduled tomorrow (Joe Squared, 7pm), but we’ve got something else cooked up for then, so we’re waxing political today.

There’s definitely no shortage of topics to cover at the moment. The GOP seems to be having debates about once a week, and each one is more disgraceful than the last. Today though, we’re going to focus on one single idea.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally chapter will meet tomorrow at Joe Squared. 7 pm.

It may not be a wholly original idea, but it did occur to us quite on its own and we haven’t been able to shake it since. At any rate, it’s not a very popular idea- as we’ve never seen or heard it discussed anywhere in the media- and after we put it forth on our humble little blog here it probably won’t get much more traction because it’s frankly a very uncomfortable idea to accept.

Saddam Hussein never would have survived the Arab Spring.

On the face of it it’s a pretty simple thing, and most people might even shrug it off and say “Hm. Yeah, I guess so. Whatever…” But the more you think of it the more disturbing it becomes. It implies that the entire Iraq war effort was completely unnecessary. They likely would have come to the same result on their own.

Now, there were many, many people who said before the invasion that the war was wholly unnecessary. The Chop was among them, and we knew at the time that there were no WMD’s, that there was no collusion between Iraq and Al Qaida, and that Iraq presented absolutely no threat to the United States. But the point of this post is not to say we told you so. It’s to ask the question What if we’d known the Arab Spring was coming?

Of course, none of us has a crystal ball, and back in 2003 there wasn’t anyone anywhere who was predicting what’s going on now across the Arab world. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and it would be irresponsible of us as a nation not to examine our actions and motives in light of subsequent events. Saddam Hussein was not drastically different from any other Middle East dictator, and if anything the Iraqi Street was even more primed and ready for a revolution than most of the country’s neighbors.

A best-case scenario for Iraq would have been a revolution similar to that which occurred in Egypt. This is the type of regime change that was laid out by the Bush administration at the time; a quick bout of fighting with a minimal number of casualties followed by an orderly transition to democratic rule. Unfortunately, they couldn’t deliver on it. We actually passed through Egypt in July and the lower-level nonpolitical government officials we dealt with were not only still showing up for work and keeping things running smoothly, but there was actually less evidence of bribery and corruption about.

A more likely case for Iraq would have been what happened in Libya. The US already had a no-fly zone and a raft of sanctions in place in Iraq, and there’s little doubt that that the US, NATO or both would have been delighted to manage Libyan-style air strikes on Regime targets, even to the point of “shock and awe.” As soon as the first bomb fell the PKK would have seized complete control of the North, and the Shiite militias would likely have taken the south without much difficulty. The Republican Guard should have stayed loyal to Saddam, but regular Iraqi army units probably would have defected almost immediately, either remaining loyal to a cadre of generals or blending into militias.

Saddam himself would probably have done just what Gaddafi did, hiding out in or around Tikrit, or possibly attempting a run for the Syrian border. It’s entirely possible that his clown-show of a trial and his inhumane circus of a hanging would have happened exactly as they did, as there was little US or international involvement in either of those events. The “Sunni Awakening” might have been part an parcel of the larger Arab Spring, and in the end it’s easy to imagine that Iraq’s post-revolution government would be just as hapless and dysfunctional as its post-invasion government has been. The absolute worst case scenario would have been a bloody years-long nationwide civil war, but the Iraqis had that anyway, whether the neo-cons want to admit it or not. They could have just as well fought their civil war without us.

We have to mention too that Libya is a nuclear-armed country. That is to say, they have real, actual weapons of mass destruction. There are also large stores of chemical weapons there that were not used throughout the revolution by either side. The answer in Libya did not “come in the form of a mushroom cloud” so to speak.

But Libya isn’t even the worst-case scenario. We’ll grant that it is possible Iraq could have seen the horrific type of one-sided massacres that are still happening today in Syria. However, the situation in Syria is far from over. We don’t see any way that the Assad regime can come out of this in tact, especially given that he’s garnered the type of widespread international scorn and condemnation that Saddam never did.

Now, what about the countries that didn’t revolt? What about Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where blossoming discord was nipped in the bud?

The Saudis basically bought their way out of a revolution, giving everyone in the country a nice check and creating thousands of new jobs, primarily to be filled by men 18-25. It’s easy to fight on an empty stomach, and the Saudis are now making goddamn sure that every able-bodied fighting-age man has a bellyful of bread. Likewise, they’re exerting a lot of influence and pouring a lot of resources into their much smaller neighbor Bahrain. They even put Saudi troops on the ground there to keep the peace. After so many years of sanctions, Saddam simply didn’t have the money to buy his way out of a revolution, and no one else had nearly enough power and influence to offer protection to such a large country as Iraq.

So there we have it. Ten years on and the result in Iraq might have been exactly the same. Well, almost the same: without invading, we would have saved one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000.). We’d have saved the lives of over 4400 US service personnel and up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians. No Abu Ghraib. No Torture. No diversion of resources from Afghanistan. No war profiteering.

And George Bush says he has no regrets.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Weiner’s COCK Edition

Today is the second Wednesday of the month, and as usual Progressives of all stripes will be gathering on the patio of Joe Squared to swap stories, talk politics, and drink beers at the regular meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Meetings start at 7 pm and are open to anyone who wishes to attend. Just look for the table with the red, white, and blue bottle and introduce yourself.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at Joe Squared tonight. 7 pm.

Of course, the topic of Weiner’s wiener is bound to come up, but we’ve been tired of that pun for at least two weeks. We’re going to insist on calling it Weiner’s COCK if we have to talk about it at all. Come on… that’s how people talk anyway. When’s the last time anybody sent a wiener pic? No one ever has. People send cock pics. Weiner sent a picture of his cock.

As far as where that leaves us now… well, we still think Andrew Breitbart is a sleazy, sensationalist, predatory asshole. He just happened to be right, the same way a broken clock will be twice a day. It’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing much more of Weiner on programs like Maddow and sites like Twitter. He’ll be going about his job much more quietly from now on. As to whether or not he gets to keep his seat, that’s up to the voters to decide, but we’re thinking he does. As we pointed out two weeks ago, sex scandals happen all the time now, and you’ve got to be pretty sleazy these days to seriously raise eyebrows. We don’t think that being a horny 16 year old who just got his first Myspace page will ultimately prove that destructive to the distinguished gentleman from New York.

In non-Weiner’s cock related news, this is also a good day to talk about who will be the next mayor of Baltimore. SRB, Otis Rolley, Jody Landers, and Catherine Pugh are all officially in, and with 98 days left until the election, it’s not out of the question that Kweisi Mfume, Carl Stokes, Andre Bundley or some other dark horse candidate could throw his or her hat in the ring. Like 99% of the city, we haven’t even pretended to pay much attention at this point, but any one of those names is a huge step up from one of the most hated people in Baltimore, Sheila Dixon.

Being mayor of Baltimore is a really hard fucking job and honestly, we’re surprised that even that many people would want to do it. With more than one candidate that we’d actually consider voting for already in the race, we feel like we’ve already won.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: More Sex Scandals Edition

Well, the forecast for this week has not been good. It may not be Joplin-esque, and we may be a whiny pussy of a blogger for complaining about it, but we’re getting sick of rain. To hell with rain. Seriously. We want to do outdoorsy things, like go to festivals and swing golf clubs and most especially, enjoy the outdoor seating at Joe Squared tonight during the regular meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Hell, we might even like to walk there, you know? At any rate, we want to stay dry long enough to gossip about political sexytime. As you know, these things come in threes, and so there must be one more shoe soon to drop.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at Joe Squared tonight. 7 pm.

The news recently has been dominated by the sex scandals of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The GOP primary field is as boring as can be, and the Rapture was never a real story anyway, so sex and storms and sexstorms are all we’ve been getting lately. It’s all sort of boring, really. Most natural disasters all look similarly horrible on the news, and we’ve had so many sex scandals in recent years that you’ve got to try pretty damn hard to top Eliot ‘Raw Dog’ Spitzer, Mark ‘Appalachian Trail’ Sanford or Ted ‘I-only-tried-meth-once-and-just-asked-him-to-jerk-me-off’ Haggard.

As far as Schwarzenegger goes, we LOL all day long. Arnie oversaw the bankrupting of California, and now Maria Shriver is going to oversee the bankrupting of Arnold. Fair Enough. Most politicians leave office to ‘spend more time with their families,’ and we guess Arnie is no exception.

DSK, on the other hand, deserves not just jail, but a few good jailhouse soap-drops of his own.

Here is a man who claims to be a Socialist, but was more or less in charge of all the money in the world. We don’t know of many true Socialists who favor $3000 per night hotels, although the hotel itself is just the tip of the iceberg. You can believe that real Socialists aren’t staying in such luxury when they gather by the hundreds of thousands to protest the IMF and WorldBank meetings. They aren’t arriving at those meetings in limousines either. They’re marching together, as Brothers and Sisters should.

The thing about Socialism though, the thing that its detractors can’t quite wrap their fat heads around is that at the end of the day Socialism is about Equality. It’s not about tax rates or countries of origin or business regulations. It’s about respecting the rights of Workers, and respecting the Workers as human beings. Socialism is about protecting and elevating those among us in the lowest station, not dragging down anyone else.

Strauss-Kahn has made a habit of preying on precisely those in the lowest station. Time after time, and in this case especially, he has shown a plutocratic hubris and a sense of entitlement which would be disgusting in any man. As far as we’re concerned this is not a sex scandal of any sort, but is in fact a case of sexual assault and attempted rape. These are violent and serious crimes, and are unforgivable no matter who the assailant or the victim may be.

We expect that American justice will be served in this case, and we’re glad of it. This crime was not just a brutal and personal attack against an innocent woman, an American, and a Worker, it was an act of class warfare, and we regard it as such.

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Drinking Liberally meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. They’re free to attend and open to anyone interested in progressive politics or causes. The opinions expressed above are those of the Baltimore Chop blog, and are not sanctioned by Living Liberally, Drinking Liberally, or its Baltimore Chapter.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Bin Laden’s Still Dead Edition

Is it just us, or have the last two weeks gone by really, really quickly? What’s today? April 27th? The 28th maybe?

Fuck! It’s May 11! How is that even possible??? We sort of regret that the last two weeks of life elapsed in what felt like 2 days, but the good news is that if it really must be the 11th of may, that means it’s once again time for the regular meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally. And thank God and everything that is holy, we’re finally returning to Joe Squared, home of a hundred rums, delicious pizza, and one of the best outdoor seating arrangements around. If you’re driving across North Avenue tonight, see if you can spot the big red, white and blue bottle on the table, and if you do, feel free to sit down and have a drink.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at Joe Squared tonight. 7 pm.

One of the major reasons that time has flown so quickly recently is that the only thing on the news has been the death of Osama bin Laden. We’re cool with that. It’s been fully a week and a half now, and we’re still not even close to being tired of hearing about the bin Laden raid. It was awesome. There is not one single thing about that story that is not awesome. Whether it’s photos from inside the Situation Room, parachuting superhero special ops dogs, Pakistan left with its mouth hanging open dumbly, or the president on 60 Minutes being basically the biggest badass of all time.

This is the space where we usually discuss a couple of current political stories, but there’s nothing else to discuss this week, really. Osama’s still dead, it’s still awesome, and no amount of phony-ass quotes on Facebook is going to change that. If you posted one, you can go ahead and de-friend us any time. For the rest of you, here’s a real quote for your wall…

“Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.”

-Barack Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking of people who need to have their heads examined, one of the many, many stories that slipped through the media cracks these last 10 days was the first GOP Debate. It was the most clownish of clowny clowning, and only the snarkiest of blogs could even be bothered to make fun of it. Seriously GOP? Herman Cain? Ron Paul? Santorum? The debate was sponsored by and covered exclusively by Fox News. Every other news outlet in the world was too busy showing how awesome our president is. If the GOP had seen any of it, they’d understand that his re-election is an absolute lock.

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Drinking Liberally meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Joe Squared is at 133 W. North Ave in Station North.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Six Dollar a Gallon Gas Edition

The Chop is a longtime lover and admirer of the Great Outdoors. Not like hills and forests and all that crap, but we like sidewalks a lot. We’d rather climb a rooftop than a mountain, and rather cool off in an open fire hydrant than some crummy lake. (People pee in lakes! That’s gross!) We’ve been noted as one of the area’s preeminent urban outdoorsmen, which mostly means that we like drinking outside.

It’s for this reason we’re so excited that the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally will be meeting at the Laughing Pint tonight, and availing ourselves of the outdoor tables. Beer always tastes better when it is drunk en plein air, and Democracy is always the more the merrier, so consider yourself invited. Just look for the big red, white and blue bottle on the table.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at the Laughing Pint tonight. 7 pm.

We’ll be even happier when the meetings move back to Joe Squared, because we can easily walk there. In fact, we can walk to a lot of our favorite places and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing lately. We’ve only been averaging two car trips a week, and those being short ones, which is quite handy since gas is going to be SIX DOLLARS A GALLON very soon and forevermore.

Let’s talk about that for a minute, since with congress on Spring Break it’s one of the very few political stories happening at the moment. What is causing high gas prices? Well, what caused the fall of Rome? What caused World War II? What’s causing global warming? There’s no one thing you can point to to blame for the increase in gas prices. There’s not even any six things. It’s not Obama’s fault, not the refiners’ fault, not OPEC, not Wall Street, etc. It’s just the way of the world. The truth is that we’ve been overdue for six dollar gas for about a decade or two. We got (and get) a lot of free and cheap oil from the Kuwaitis, but not even that is a permanent solution, especially when it’s all burned up by humvees and jets in our other blood-for-oil adventure, which so far has netted us zero free barrels, and is unlikely to anytime soon.

So six dollar gas is going to be a fact of life, and we’re all just going to have to get used to it. If we sound a little smug about that, well, we are. We live in the city and like to walk. We’re even going to buy a bicycle when the time is right. We don’t even commute to work. When six dollar gas arrives, we’re fully prepared to put our shoe leather where our mouth is. We’re serious, and we wish everyone else was as well.

In the last few years in Baltimore we’ve seen a number of incremental improvements for car-free living. We have a Bike Czar now, new lanes and trails for cyclists, a Charm City Circulator, the MTA’s Charm Card, zipcars and the Red Line plan, which is coming- like it or not. None of these things are perfect, but as more people gravitate toward them with the rise in gas prices, they’re all bound to improve.

Perhaps the best part about the change that’s gonna come? We can drink. Liberally. After all, we’re not driving home.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Government Shutdown Averted Edition

We’re heading down to Midtown Yacht Club tonight to drink beer and talk politics in the regular bi-weekly meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Midtown has been a nice spot for us all winter, but we couldn’t be happier to hear that the group will soon be moving back to Joe Squared, with their awesome outdoor seating patio and rum selection, for our summer session. If you’re as excited about outdoor drinking as we are, feel free to drop by and say hello. The group’s table is open to all.

Drinking Liberally meets at Midtown Yacht Club tonight. 7 pm.

Since the last time we met, we came “this close” to having a government shutdown. Of course, a government shutdown isn’t like a rainstorm or a lunar eclipse… it’s not something that just happens. Someone is to blame, and in this case that someone is House Republicans.

This fight we just watched was not about the budget. No one really knows how to fix the budget, although the grown ups in the room do know that there is no magic bullet and you can’t cut your way to prosperity. No, this fight and the disaster it nearly caused was entirely about Planned Parenthood’s right to exist. It shocked us that not one single media personality was smart enough or brave enough to identify what was happening and say it in plain English. Some came close, but no one came right out and elucidated the Republicans’ strategy.

Right wingers and Evangelicals in this country hate Planned Parenthood. It’s not just that they hate abortions, and it doesn’t matter to them that not a nickel of federal money goes to fund abortions… they hate PP, and view the entire organization as an enemy to be destroyed by any means necessary.

The GOP doesn’t have any problem with cancer screenings or birth control or pap smears as some on the left have suggested. But if you cut out the funding that PP receives for those services, the organization will at best be reduced to a shell of what it is now, and may even be forced to fold as ACORN was when they lost federal funding.

If women’s health services and women’s actual lives have to be sacrificed to meet those ends, then so be it… the Right doesn’t give a fuck.

Of course, the past is prologue and now that this fight is over, the next one is going to be even worse. The debt ceiling fight will have people going through the roof.

And on top of that, we won’t have Glenn Beck to kick around anymore.

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Midtown yacht Club is at 15 E Center Street in Mount Vernon. Look for the table with the red, white, and blue bottle.

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