Tag Archives: Politics

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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How to Stage a Boycott, Hon

Most of you probably well remember the Great Hontroversy of December 2010, in which Denise Whiting trademarked the term “Hon” in various forms, and crowed about it in the media in an attempt to drum up publicity for her newly opened tacky souvenir shop, just in time for stocking stuffer season.

Ink was spilled and the fat was chewed (and not just in the restaurant), Facebook groups were formed and street protests organized, but in the end all it really amounted to was a collective “Yeah, fuck that lady.” Fast forward to June 2011: Honfest is upon us again, and Whiting has managed to piss people off even further by banning the sale of cat’s eye sunglasses and cans of hairspray and telling people that their political opinions and religious beliefs are not welcome. Everyone shall worship at the altar of HON, and all hail the mayor of Hon Town.

A visual approximation of our sentiments toward Honfest.

So we’re Skipping Honfest this year. This isn’t really news, since we’ve never actually been to any of the previous Honfests. Shitty grandpa music and overpriced Heinekens aren’t really our cup of tea, and we’re put off by anything that’s so cartoonishly self-referential and clichéd, especially when it’s organized by one of Baltimore’s most hated people. Honfest is not so much a festival to be enjoyed, but a product to be bought, paid for and consumed.

We wouldn’t call it a boycott though, and we bristle when we hear other people use the term. Most people in the modern age have a poor understanding of what a boycott actually is, let alone the skills or wherewithal to organize one successfully. Before you go calling for a boycott this weekend, or anytime, it’s a good idea to know what the keys to a successful boycott are:

  • Fight a grievous wrong. It’s difficult for any boycott to be successful without broad public support. It helps if what you’re fighting against is universally seen as an injustice. Child labor or unsafe working conditions are good grounds for a boycott. While Hon, Inc. has shown an incredible amount of hubris and alienated the community many times over, it’s hard to argue that there’s much actual injustice being done here. Some, but not much.
  • A pre-existing organizational structure. Some of the most successful boycotts in history haven’t been carried off by people coming together, they were won by people who were already together. The Montgomery bus boycott was only possible because churches and civil rights groups were already well organized, and were able to mobilize their members. Ditto with the California grape boycott, the core of which was the United Farm Workers’ Union. A Facebook group by itself is not an organization. It’s merely a tool for disseminating information among an organization.
  • Strong Leadership. At the head of every successful boycotting organization, there’s strong leadership. MLK. Cesar Chavez. Gandhi. Leading an actual boycott is a full time job. It’s not something to which you dedicate half an hour of internet time a few nights a week.
  • Dedicated foot soldiers. A true boycott of Cafe Hon, if it were to have any economic impact at all, would require people standing out on the Avenue morning, noon, and night wearing tee shirts, carrying signs, handing out literature, and making a case to the general public of the grievous wrongdoing we mentioned before. Any volunteers?
  • A manifold boycott strategy. You don’t just send an email blast, show up on a streetcorner and yell boycott. Who are you anyway, Jesse Jackson? A successful boycott requires a lot of advance planning. Even with something as small scale as a restaurant or a festival, if success is expected, there are enormous organizational, logistical, fundraising, and public relations challenges to consider. Do you just want to skip the festival, or do you want to boycott its sponsors as well?
  • An attainable set of goals. Part of that strategy should be a set of goals or reasonable demands. The idea of bringing the big bad evil corporation to its knees by crippling it economically is as cartoonish as the beads and beehives that are about to take over the Avenue. The goal of a boycott isn’t bankrupting anyone, it’s getting your target to change its behavior, e.g. integrating buses or paying farm workers minimum wage.
  • A viable alternative. Key to any boycott is not just saying “Don’t buy that” but saying “Buy this instead.” Fortunately, in the case of Cafe Hon, we’ve already got that covered.

Organizing a legitimate boycott is a lot of work, and can be a very long-term undertaking. When the faux-Hons invade the Avenue this weekend, we won’t be boycotting. We’ll be protesting in a truly homegrown Baltimore way- talking shit, holding grudges, and counting down the days to Hampdenfest.

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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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Not Just a Game Screening @ 2640 Space Tonight

The Chop is not a lawyer. We’re not a banker, a military officer, or a city councilman either. Somehow though, we ended up as one of these people for whom everything has political overtones. We make no bones about being a labor-loving, Secularist, pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-war Lefty. It’s a worldview that informs everything we do, and every decision we make, from the place we choose to live to what we read, watch and listen to, and even to what we eat. You can believe that those Few who have money and power approach everything politically, and until the rest of us begin to do so as well, nothing will ever change.

Not Just a Game will screen at 2640 tonight. 7:30 pm.

Dave Zirin realizes this as well. Zirin is sports editor at The Nation, and also the host of an XM radio show, columnist for other publications, and author of several books. He’s dedicated his career to the the coverage, study and understanding of sports. Zirin is nearly alone among sportswriters in comprehending that the games we watch and play inform every aspect of our social structure and interaction. From the ongoing NFL lockout to Luke Scott’s absurd love of guns and Orly Taitz, to whether your kid ends up playing basketball or lacrosse, politics is pervasive on every level of sports.

We say that Zirin is nearly alone in that world, because the increasingly-popular Deadspin will never hesitate to jump on a story with deep sociopolitical overtones. From Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged sexual misconduct to racism and gender bias on the PGA tour, Deadspin seems to understand that racism, sexism, homophobia and class warfare drives page views much harder than mere box scores. Zirin though is the polar opposite of Deadspin. Where the latter represents the worst in muckraking and questionable reporting reminiscent of the early days of the Hearst papers, Zirin is a sort of HL Mencken of the sports world, reminding us that the final score is irrelevant, not because we’re playing for fun, but because the only victories that matter are won away from the field of play.

Tonight the Red Emma’s collective will host Zirin at the 2640 Space for a Screening of Not Just a Game, which is based on his 2008 book A People’s History of Sports in the United States. The film explores the history of sport running head-to-head against politics in our culture, and Dave Zirin will be available for discussion and Questions afterward.

Even your mere attendance tonight is an overtly political act, as your $10 admission will go to benefit both the Baltimore Algebra Project and the United Workers, two local organizations which focus on social justice in Baltimore.

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Further reading: Bret McCabe interviewed Dave Zirin in this week’s edition of City Paper.

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