the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 16, 2005

Republican Crimestop


I’ve been reading Orwell’s 1984, DCDL’s book of the month, and for some reason a particular passage has been resonating lately — and I have a feeling the resonance may increase in the coming weeks (emphasis and paragraph breaks added, since Emanuel Goldstein seems addicted to page-long paragraphs):

A Party member is expected to have no private emotions and no respites from enthusiasm. He is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a skeptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline.

The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body. Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the Party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts.

The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.

Of course we don’t live in the world of 1984, and there is no threat of arrest, torture, or execution for those guilty of thoughtcrime. Instead people are training themselves in crimestop of their own free will. I’m not sure whether that’s better or worse.

The DCDL discussion of 1984 was postponed indefinitely. Are people still up for it? Do you have suggestions of other books we should read and talk about? If so, leave a comment.

July 15, 2005

Talking Back to Washingtonpost.com


As part of the reworking of washingtonpost.com, some of what used to be eColumns are now blogs. For example Campaign for the Supreme Court, covering the Supreme Court nomination, should be interesting.

Now that I’ve made at least a minimal attempt to blog this afternoon, I have a favor to ask. Can anyone recommend a good Mexican restaurant? Of the places I’ve tried so far: Alero, Guappo’s, the Cantina (next to the National Cathedral), the location has always been pretty good, but the food itself has been pretty unremarkable. The Cantina at least has draft Dos Equis, which counts for something in my book.

I ask hoping that you commentors-in-waiting, who no doubt have been intimidated by Keith and myself, will get whipped into a frenzy, and burn up the thread.

Politics Above Security in the White House: Did London Pay the Price?


The White House’s destruction of Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative (one investigating weapons of mass destruction) to punish her husband, Joe Wilson, for saying things the administration didn’t like is hardly the only time the Bush administration has weighed political advantage as more important than national security. Probably the worst example is Bush & Co.’s use of the September 11 attacks to divide the country for political purposes and alienate the rest of the world — squandering a unique opportunity to unite the country and make use of the sympathy from the global community to make us all safer.

For a more specific example, think back to the time of last year’s Democratic convention. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised the alert level to orange for some cities and financial institutions, and he politicized his alert by including the statement “the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President’s leadership in the war against terror.” When people were skeptical about the alert (which was based on three-year-old information), the administration — apparently desparate to show that the threat was real — revealed the name of a captured Al Qaeda member who was the source. Unfortunately, the informant, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, was cooperating and acting as a mole at the time (other Al Qaeda members didn’t know he’d been captured), and after his name was revealed his usefulness was ended. Undercover agents within Al Qaeda aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, but the Bush campaign/administration destroyed one to reduce a political embarrassment.

I bring this up now because Americablog has a long post detailing the connection between the Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan incident and last week’s London bombings (Juan Cole has more). It’s possible that if Khan had been able to continue as a mole the network responsible for the bombings could have been unraveled before they were able to kill scores of people. But that would have required the Bush folks to value something above scoring political points.

Free Talk on Media Bias Monday


SALSA (The Social Action & Leadership School for Activists of the Institute for Policy Studies) is holding a free “interactive discussion” on media bias Monday night. Sounds like it could be interesting:

Act Globally, Learn LocallyMyths & Monsters of News Media
Mon, July 18, 2005 — 6:45-8:45pm

Independent, aggressive and critical media are essential to an informed democracy. But mainstream media are increasingly cozy with the economic and political powers they should be watch dogging. Come learn how increasing corporate concentration and the effects of a thirty-year war on journalism, waged by the far right elements in society, have taken a toll on independent reporting. We will talk about how the charge that news media are liberal — a right wing strategy with no foundation in evidence — has distorted the news. SALSA presents Steve Rendall, Senior Analyst at FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) in an interactive discussion examining media bias and the threat to independent journalism. Learn what can be done about this and what alternative media already exists.

July 14, 2005

Steven Aftergood at DCDL Tonight


Tonight DC Drinking Liberally is back at Timberlake’s, 1726 Connecticut Avenue NW, a couple of blocks north of the Dupont Circle Metro (Red Line), from 6:30 to 8:30. Our guest speaker is Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, who will be speaking about Bush administration secrecy.

Steven directs the FAS Project on Government Secrecy, which works to reduce the scope of government secrecy, to accelerate the declassification of cold war documents, and to promote reform of official secrecy practices. He writes and edits the email newsletter Secrecy News, which is read by more than 10,000 self-selected subscribers in media, government and among the general public. In 1997, Mr. Aftergood was the plaintiff in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency which successfully led to the declassification and publication of the total intelligence budget ($26.6 billion in 1997) for the first time in fifty years. For Steven’s complete bio please visit http://www.fas.org/sgp/aftergood.html.

See you tonight!

July 13, 2005

“Fire Rove” Rally Thursday


If any of you are going to be in the area of the White House Thursday afternoon, you might want to attend this rally I just got an announcement about:

You’re invited to come speak out against Karl Rove’s abuse of power and demand that President Bush fire Rove. Join other MoveOn members and members of the community at a peaceful protest and picket, Thursday July 14, at 2:30 PM on Pennsylvania Avenue outside The White House.

Rove betrayed the identity of an undercover CIA operative forcing her to end a decade of important national security work. He did it to protect the Bush political agenda. Now, the White House is covering up this betrayal of our national security. The media is ready to report on public outrage about Rove. Will you show up and speak out?

Please join us tomorrow and let Bush, the media and Congress know that Americans are angry about Rove.

What: Protest and Picket to Demand Bush Fire Karl Rove

Where: The White House, Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC (Metro: Farragut West or McPherson Square)

When: 2:30 PM :: Thursday, July 14, 2005 (rain or shine)

Signs will be provided.

I’ll see you there. Thanks for all you do.

—Tom Matzzie
MoveOn PAC
Wednesday, July 13, 2005

P.S. If you want to come dressed up in costume as a spy and protest the media will love that. Think: trench coat, sunglasses and a little nametag that says, “Spy.”

July 12, 2005

“Taxation Without Representation” Banner at RFK


Latest news from DC Vote:

WASHINGTON — A gigantic 10 foot by 20 foot DC Vote banner with the phrase “Go Nats!” and the District’s motto “Taxation Without Representation” was permanently fastened to the west side of RFK Stadium in early July.

Made from a durable material, DC Vote hopes that the banner will act as a means to support the team and support the cause of DC voting rights at the same time.

“The first place Nationals have garnered attention from sports fans around the country,” said Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote. “Our hope is that the DC voting rights movement message and history travels with the team from city-to-city.”

The Nationals and the issue of DC voting rights are significantly tied to one another. The decision to name the team the Nationals as opposed to the team’s former name, the Washington Senators, came as a request from the District’s Mayor, Anthony Williams.

“We don’t have senators here [in Washington, DC],” the mayor said in October of 2004. “Give us two senators and I’ll be happy to call them [DC’s baseball team] ‘the Senators.’”

Okay, there’s a dangling participle there, but I say it’s a good thing that DC Vote is made of durable material, because DC residents have still got a long road ahead of us before we obtain the rights that other American citizens have.

Espionage Posters


For folks who like free downloads, you may like this collection of posters from the Office of the National Counter-Intelligence Executive.

Something about it needs updating, but I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the photo.

July 11, 2005

Analyzing the ScottBot


I can’t add much to the commentary by Hilzoy, Kevin Drum, Billmon, and others, but I can write a Perl program to analyze text. Here are phrases used by Scott McClellan three or more times during today’s press briefing:

9 get into commenting on
8 get to the bottom of
7 not going to get into
6 an ongoing criminal investigation
6 just not going to
5 not going to get into commenting
5 not get into commenting on
5 get into commenting on it
5 I’m just not going to
5 be glad to talk about
5 I will be glad to
5 to talk about it
5 it while it is
4 not going to get into commenting on
4 an ongoing investigation, and
4 the investigation is complete
4 I will be glad to talk about
4 get to the bottom of this
4 be glad to talk about it
4 the United States Senate
4 to get to the bottom of
4 at the appropriate time
4 get to the bottom of it
4 the fight to the enemy
4 that we not get into
4 as we move forward
4 on it while it is
4 in a serious way
4 we are going to
3 no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States
3 not going to get into commenting on it
3 get into commenting on it while it is
3 that we not get into commenting on
3 I will be glad to talk about it
3 be glad to talk about it at
3 take the fight to the enemy
3 in the United States Senate
3 it while it is ongoing

July 10, 2005

Follow Up on Supreme Court Party


I’ll be interested in hearing how Keith’s MoveOn.org event went. While Keith chose a Supreme Court party in his neighborhood, I went to one in the white wine and quiche section of the People’s Republic of Montgomery County.

DNC Vice Chair, Susan Turnbull was there, along with a yacht-load of high-priced DC attorneys. Politically aware, deeply angry at the Bush administration, refreshingly good at organizational skills, and not ones to take an activist anti-stare decisis judicial nominee.

We talked about Alberto Gonzales, reponsible for the newspeak equation of torture=fighting terrorism, as well as his questionable role in Texas Death Penalty review (good writeup here, by the way). And he’s the least objectionable candidate.

I know that when people outside of the DC area think of Maryland (and most likely, they don’t) they get images of what Dean euphamistically referred to as Nascar dads in pickup trucks. They are blissfully unaware of the grand socialist experiment of Montgomery County. Unlike most of the country, Montgomery County has a small city government, and a powerful County government. The result is a uniformly good public school system, arts and theater programs, a community college system, and a parks and recreation program unparalleled in my experience.

After a short meeting where we organized rapid response teams for an eventual Supreme Court nominee, we pigged out big time (or at least I did), trashed the Bushies, and watched the Pelican Brief.

Basically, my idea of a good time.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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