the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 10, 2005

Where Is Home?


Okay, ridiculing over-the-top right-wingers who are already self-parodies may not be productive or morally upright, but it can be fun to take an occasional break from seriousness. The Poor Man’s newest parody of Power Line explains why the London bombings aren’t actually a refutation of Bush’s “flypaper” strategy (and what that means for those of us in DC):


Mewling, traitorous liberals won’t even wait until the bodies from the London terrorist bombings are cold before using them as props in their endless propaganda war against Bush and America. According to these liberals, the bombings are somehow evidence that Bush’s masterful “flypaper strategy” isn’t working. Come again? The whole genius of the flypaper strategy is that by invading Iraq, we can fight the terrorists abroad instead of at home. Last time I checked, my home wasn’t in London, nor was it the home of any self-respecting American. I would much rather fight the terrorists in Baghdad, Kabul, London, and have daily terrorist attacks in hundreds of cities and towns all over the world — provided that none of these places are in America — than have to fight them at home.

But what these rabid Bush-haters don’t understand — or pretend not to understand — is that the flypaper strategy has been in effect since Bush’s first day in office, and has been an unqualified success since day 1. While Clinton spent 8 years cribbing his anti-terror strategy directly from the Neville Chamberlin playbook, the worst domestic terrorist attack in American history occured in the center of America’s heartland, Oklahoma City. However, under the Bush strategy, the worst terrorist attack in human history occured in New York City and Washington DC, a thousand miles away from America’s heartland! Think about it: wouldn’t you rather fight the terrorists in NYC and Washington — coastal enclaves from where the decadent Left form what amounts to a fifth column — than at home? The choice for patriotic Americans is obvious.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

July 9, 2005

Your FBI at Work


This American Life devotes its entire hour this weekend (the archived audio won’t be available till next week) to the bizarre case of Hemant Lakhani, a 70-year-old Indian small-time salesman and braggart who the FBI decided was a major arms trafficker worth hundreds of millions of dollars — thanks to the work of an unreliable informant. The FBI informant, pretending to represent a terrorist organization, approached Lakhani and asked him to procure weapons. Lakhani assured him he could get whatever he wanted — armored personnel carriers, submarines, plutonium — but they settled on acquiring a single shoulder-launched antiaircraft missile to start with.

After more than a year and a half of Lakhani’s being unable to get anything — and accidentally alerting Russian authorities during his bumbling attempts — the FBI became impatient and eventually cooperated with the Russians to supply Lakhani with a fake missile, then arrested him when he delivered it. The August 2003 arrest was trumpeted as a great victory in the war on terrorism by US Attorney Christopher Christie, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and of course the president:

“We are doing everything possible to protect the homeland,” said Mr. Bush. “And the fact we are able to sting this guy is a pretty good example of what we are doing in order to protect the American people.”

I have little sympathy for Lakhani, who did after all think that he was supplying a missile that would be used to blow up a civilian airliner, but I really hope that Bush is wrong and that this farce was not “a pretty good example” of what’s being done to protect us.

Note what happened. This was not a case where a fake terrorist approached real arms smugglers and made it possible to round up a gang of people who might supply weapons to real terrorists. Nor was it a fake arms smuggler approaching real terrorists and thus allowing the arrest of a dangerous terrorist cell. This was the resources of the American and Russian governments being used to have a fake terrorist get a fake missile from fake arms smugglers, through a real middleman recruited more or less at random — someone who had no previous connections with terrorists. No real terrorists or real weapons were involved, and no crime would have taken place if the FBI hadn’t made one happen through the use of untold amounts of money and agent time.

I realize that mistakes happen, but I hope that the other people among the few dozen “terrorists” actually convicted in law enforcement’s part of the war on terrorism are a bit more of a threat to the United States than this schmuck.

Update (7 Jul 2006): Here’s the link to the archive.

July 8, 2005

Party for the Supreme Court


With two Supreme Court retirements pending, MoveOn is organizing more of its famous house parties this weekend, combining a previously planned movie night with efforts to oppose extremist nominees:

We need to make sure that the president, the Senate and the media all know that the American people won’t stand for a radically conservative nominee. So we’ve changed the name of Progressive Movie Night and added some time to develop our campaign to counter the right. Over the weekend of July 8-10 MoveOn members across the country will be holding over a thousand Supreme Court house parties. Meet up with other MoveOn members to create a neighborhood plan and watch a progressive movie about the rights we’re fighting to protect.

Find a house party in your area or start a party of your own.

July 7, 2005

London, July 7


UK Flag

On September 11, 2001, I was in England — in Salisbury at the time of the attacks (having just seen Stonehenge) and going back to London later — and I still remember the kindness of the British people to a party of Americans at that terrible time. A few days later I was in Covent Garden as the whole street full of people paused for three minutes of silence to commemorate those killed. So this morning my thoughts are in London, and especially with any British people feeling lost and alone in the US.

July 6, 2005

Cooper, Miller, and Ethics


Mark Kleiman brings up something I’ve been thinking about:

Had it been known during the campaign that the presidents most important political advisor, the designer of this political strategy, had committed a felony and jeopardized the national security of the United States, this would have been a very significant issue in the campaign. It is, arguably, something the public really needed to know to make an intelligent decision about whom to vote for.

There is now NO real political consequence to the actions that administration officials engaged in (there is a legal consequence, perhaps, but no electoral consequence). So in that sense, these journalists not only flouted the law, they caused an election to occur without the full information the citizenry needed.

Anyone who questions the right’s assertion that the MSM is liberal is promptly treated to a derisive snort. (Here, I like the way Jon Stewart puts it: the facts themselves have a liberal bias.)

What we’re seeing here, however, is that the MSM is neither conservative or liberal. What drove the media, at least in this specific case, is careerism. Less speaking truth to power, than speaking security to career.

Cooper and Miller put their jobs over, as Kleiman puts it, “full information the citizenry needed.” They are currently defying the contempt order not to prevent the abuse of power by the high and mighty, but to ensure it.

I differ from Fitzgerald in sending them to jail. More fitting that they spend the next few months in community service. I would bet that 90 days spent cleaning up after the horses in Rock Creek Park would improve their writing skills immensely.

Dueling Democracy


DC VoteTonight you have your choice of two events by local political groups occurring simultaneously a few blocks apart. First, DC Vote is celebrating the call by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for congressional representation for DC residents:

DC Vote is dedicated to bringing in new faces, supporters and voluteers to our cause as well as giving our current supporters an opportunity to join the DC Vote staff and fellow supporters in an informal setting. We want the community to have a chance to check us out and learn about our volunteer programs and advocacy efforts.

DC Vote will hold it’s next “American Democracy for America’s Capital” Monthly Happy Hour on Wednesday, July 6 at 6:30 PM at the brand new Bar Pilar at 1833 14th Street, NW (on 14th Street between S & T Streets, NW). The closest Metro stop is U Street/Cardozo on the Green Line.

To RSVP or get more information about the happy hours, contact DC Vote Program Assistant Zainab Akbar by e-mail at zakbar@dcvote.org.

DC for DemocracyStarting half an hour later (at 7) and a couple of blocks away (at Ben’s Chili Bowl) is the monthly meeting of DC for Democracy — which features a representative from DC Vote:

Hot on the heels of Independence Day, our July MeetUp will focus on freedom here at home. Guest speakers include DC’s Shadow Representative to the US House, Ray Browne. What does a shadow representative do? And what does this have to do with voting rights? Come and find out.

Also with us will be a representative from DC Vote, a non-profit organization that works toward educating the public both here at home and around the country on the need for DC voting rights.

We’ll also roll out a new subcommittee to focus on DC Voting Rights, and we’ll give an update on our Northern Virginia Election Action plans.

DC for Democracy’s MeetUps always draw a crowd, so don’t miss out — make a date to meet some cool new friends on our combined July 6th MeetUp at:

  • Ben’s Chili Bowl — 1213 U St NW (Metro Green Line: U Street) — RSVP today!

Attend one or both, and suggest that next month the groups coordinate their schedules.

And of course, don’t forget DCDL’s Reading Liberally discussion of Orwell’s 1984 at Mark and Orlando’s (2020 P St NW, Dupont Circle Metro) tomorrow at 6:30.

July 5, 2005

Follow Up on DC Voting Rights


Just got this in the mail:

With overwhelming support, the Third Committee of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution that calls on the United States Congress to grant the residents of Washington, DC, equal voting rights in Congress in accordance with its OSCE human rights commitments. The United States is the only country in the OSCE where residents of the nation’s capital are denied full representation in the national legislature.

What does this mean practically speaking? I doubt that Denny Hastert and Bill Frist lose any sleep over an OSCE resolution.

Yet, it does keep the question visible: why doesn’t DC have the right to vote? It would appear on the surface it’s because the DC community would vote for Democrats. If that’s the case, I don’t see any way you could argue that this is consistent with democratic principles. I don’t see how you could see this as other than legalized voter suppression.

July 4, 2005

No to Torture, No to Gonzales


On Independence Day, it’s appropriate to reflect on what the United States stands for and whether we’re living up to those ideals. In the past, our nation has been a leader in human rights (although it’s never been perfect), and one of the worst transgressions of the Bush administration was to stain the United States by making it into one of the countries that uses torture. Yes, Bush has mouthed some condemnations of torture, and a few bad apples have been punished. But the people responsible for the policies of prisoner abuse and torture have not only escaped punishment but have been promoted, the network of detainment facilities continues as before, and the policy of shipping prisoners to thuggish regimes to be tortured is still in place.

Now there’s a lot of talk of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a possible nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy opened up by the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor. It’s true that the prospect of Bush nominating someone who’s not fanatically opposed to abortion rights is driving the religious right crazy (John Cole has a selection of the reactions), but we must not be fooled into thinking that anyone they hate that much can’t be all bad. Nat Hentoff detailed “nice guy” Gonzales’s connections to torture in a Village Voice column when Gonzales was nominated for attorney general (the Center for American Progress has more). Nothing has changed since then. This is, after all, the man who wrote, “In my judgment, this new paradigm [the war on terrorism] renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”

The six Democrats in the Senate who voted for Gonzales’s confirmation should be ashamed,* as should all of the Republicans (especially John McCain, who has experienced torture first hand). As attorney general, he will be gone in three and a half years, but as a Supreme Court justice Gonzales will be with us for decades. We must do all we can to keep the stain of torture away from the nation’s highest court. Gonzales is not acceptable.

* For the record, the Shameful Six are Landrieu (D-LA), Lieberman (D-CT), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), and Salazar (D-CO). Please remember, not Obama.

July 2, 2005

Congress as City Council?


Congressional Republicans are engaging in one of their periodic encroachments on the District’s right to local government — though local government is something Republicans supposedly favor in general. This time it’s yet another attack on DC’s gun laws, which has passed the House but with luck will still be defeated in the Senate, as similar bills have been before.

It was interesting to see that we do have a Wisconsin Democrat on our side:

David ObeyDuring the debate on the gun law, Rep. David R. Obey (Wis.), senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, proposed his own change to the city budget: forcing members of Congress to draw their pay from D.C. funds and cut their annual salary to that of D.C. Council members, from about $162,000 to $92,500.

“The citizens of the District of Columbia have no vote in this body, and as long as that is the case, we have no right to tell them what their laws are going to be,” Obey said, adding that he opposed the city’s handgun ban but found opponents’ tactics “ridiculous and abusive.”

“If the people in this House want to act like your D.C. city councilman, then they can be paid like a D.C. councilman,” he said. Obey withdrew his amendment after a procedural challenge.

Save the Date: Guerrilla Film Fest 6


Check out Guerrilla Film Fest 6, July 16 at the Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, 730 21st, NW (21st and H), DC.


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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