the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

November 30, 2005

Alternative Gift Fair Happy Hour


Having trouble getting in the mood for holiday shopping? Is Christmas commercialism getting you down? Looking for gifts that aren’t just another sweater or gadget? Well, on Monday, December 5, DC Drinking Liberally is partnering with other organizations to lift your spirits and solve your gift-giving problems! Here’s the announcement from our friends at Capital Action:

Join Capital Action, DC Drinking Liberally, DC EcoWomen, SustainUS, Hands On DC, and other folks in the DC area for a night of buying meaningful gifts of charity for your friends and family to support a variety of nonprofit organizations. Meet some friends for happy hour, cross those items off your shopping list, and help people and communities in need all at the same time!

Drink and food specials from 6 to 7pm: $2.75 draft, rail, and wine and half-price appetizers. At 7pm enjoy some free chicken wings, chicken tenders, and cheese quesadillas.


November 29, 2005

Cillizza Strikes Again


I complained a while back about a gratuitous attack on Howard Dean by Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza. Since then I’ve seen more indications of right-wing hackishness in his blog, The Fix, but haven’t bothered to write about them — until today, when I ran across the third example of a pattern I’ve come to recognize. Cillizza has a habit of throwing in an irrelevant fact (often statistical) to tilt a story in a direction that favors Republicans.

The first time I noticed was last month, in the first installment of his “Friday Line” roundups of races to watch. He listed 10 Senate seats he thought might change hands, and then ended the post with “If every Senate seat listed above changed hands in 2006 — and I’m NOT saying they will — the Republicans would still keep their majority.” But he listed 6 Republican seats and 4 Democratic ones, so if all changed hands that would be a net gain of only 2 for the Democrats — and a pretty bizarre political event. If just the Republican seats flipped — a much more likely event, though still very unlikely — that would give the Democrats the majority. The statistic about all seats changing hands was completely irrelevant.

Then yesterday Cillizza wrote about Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s resignation and included this:

The San Diego-area district is tough sledding for Democrats; President Bush won an 11-point victory there in 2004, outperforming his statewide showing by 21 percent.

Now, the 11-point win by Bush means something, but how is the statistic at the end relevant? A Democratic candidate hoping to take the seat doesn’t need to outdo Kerry’s California percentage but only needs to beat whatever Republican is running. It doesn’t matter how much more Republican the district is than California as a whole; the only thing that counts is how Republican the district is in absolute terms (and how enthusiastic those voters are currently about the Republican Party). The “21 percent” number is just a distraction that makes things look better for Republicans, at least if readers aren’t paying attention.

Finally, today Cillizza gives us something that could be useful: a “Political Scandal Scorecard”. But as you may have guessed, he manages to slant it with an irrelevant fact. It’s not that he excluded anything going on in the White House:

We limited the scorecard to members of Congress and governors currently in office to keep the list manageable.

It’s that he violated his own restriction when he found that otherwise he could only work in one Democrat (Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich):

Former Rep. Frank Ballance (D-N.C.): Yes, we said we’re limiting this list to current members, but this is a fairly recent case so we’re making a small exception to the rule.

Ballance (interesting name for someone introduced only to supply fake balance) resigned from the House in June 2004, so he wasn’t even a recently departed member of the current Congress. What possible excuse is there for inserting him into the scorecard, except to slightly thicken the veneer of bipartisanship in the scandal list?

November 23, 2005

Bush’s Bubble Expands


Looks like Bush’s bubble is expanding. Unfortunately, it’s not expanding in the sense of allowing in new ideas or different people, just getting bigger geographically:

CRAWFORD, Texas — A dozen war protesters including Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, were arrested Wednesday for setting up camp near President Bush’s ranch in defiance of new local bans on roadside camping and parking. […]

In August, hundreds of demonstrators camped off the road during a 26-day protest led by Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq last year. But a month later, county commissioners banned camping in any county ditch and parking within 7 miles of the ranch, citing safety and traffic congestion issues.

The next logical step is to ban protesters (or anyone disagreeing with Bush) from a 7-mile bubble around the White House, which nicely takes in all of the District and Arlington plus a some nice chunks outside the diamond:

7-mile circle around White House

Why, yes, this is a cheap shot. What’s your point?

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Let’s be thankful for the small signs we’re starting to see that the country may be getting back on track.

The Wednesday Drinking Liberally group has a Thanksgiving Eve meeting tonight at Mark and Orlando’s (2020 P Street NW), starting at 5:30 (one hour earlier than usual). The Thursday group is taking the week off and will be back on December 1. The Monday group in Arlington is taking next week off and will next meet December 5.

Have a safe trip if, like me, you’re leaving town, and have a great celebration wherever you are!

November 22, 2005

Cheney, Cheney Everywhere


Everywhere I look today I see Cheney’s mug. Leering as if to remind me: “You may have been right about Iraq. you may be right about torture. And maybe we did screw the pooch on this Plame thing. But remember: I’m barking dog mad. And, I know where you live.”

It makes me nostalgic for happier times. When Cheney would spend his days holed up in an undisclosed bunker.

Here’s some other little tidbits that might get overlooked on Cheney’s big day out:

Cheney Roundup


I caught David Letterman’s monologue last night for the first time in months. You know that the idea of a Vice President for Torture is established in the public mind when a late night comic jokes about Cheney having his Thanksgiving turkey tortured by the CIA. Unfortunately, I fear that despite the supposed resurgence of “moral values”, opposition to torture is not a winning political strategy with the US public.

In any case, Dick Cheney’s recent emergence from his undisclosed location to growl at opponents of the administration’s Iraq fiasco has sparked various responses in the blogs:

Update (2:30pm): Dana Milbank, who was criticized here a while back, gets in a few jabs at Cheney today. I like the opening:

Vice President Cheney protested yesterday that he had been misunderstood when he said last week that critics of the White House over Iraq were “dishonest and reprehensible.”

What he meant to say, he explained to his former colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, was that those who question the White House’s use of prewar intelligence were not only “dishonest and reprehensible” but also “corrupt and shameless.”

It was about as close as the vice president gets to a retraction.

New Book Club for Liberals


A new book club for liberals/progressives has been formed. The first meeting will be on Tuesday, January 24 at 7:00pm. The book to be discussed is “When Corporations Rule the World” by David Korten. The discussion will focus on Chapters 1-12, 18, and 22, so there is no need to read the whole book. The meeting is open to all.

We will meet at Cleveland Park Library at 7:00pm.

For more information see: http://progressivebooksdc.blogspot.com/

November 17, 2005

Happy Birthday, Howard!


Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, turns 57 today. I’ve been pleased with his strategy of rebuilding the party from the lowest levels in all 50 states (plus the District, where former Deaniacs were among those who threw out the incumbents on the DC Democratic State Committee last year). He’s also been good at speaking out against the administration when most Democratic elected officials have been too timid, and now some of them are finally standing up.

To thank Dean, today I’m finally getting a Democracy Bond — something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. If you feel the same, consider buying one for yourself.

And if you’re in the DC area, stop by our regular Thursday Drinking Liberally tonight at Timberlake’s (1726 Connecticut Ave, north of Dupont Circle on the red line) starting at 6:30 and toast Howard Dean with your favorite beverage.

Post Carrying Republican Spin, Again


The Washington Post is already letting me down in my (admittedly faint) hope that it would handle Woodward’s involvement with the Plame Affair properly. Today’s edition has a story headlined “Woodward Could Be a Boon to Libby” that starts like this:

The revelation that The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward may have been the first reporter to learn about CIA operative Valerie Plame could provide a boost to the only person indicted in the leak case: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Legal experts said Woodward provided two pieces of new information that cast at least a shadow of doubt on the public case against Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, who has been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

It continues in that vein for several more paragraphs. So the headline and first half of the story are devoted to spreading the latest chaff launched by the Republican noise machine: the bizarre idea that somehow Woodward’s recent comments get Libby off the hook for his false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice, even though Woodward said nothing relevant to any of the charges.

Those who persevere into the last part of the article will see that it completely contradicts the first part:

According to the statement Woodward released Tuesday, he did not appear to provide any testimony that goes specifically to the question of whether Libby is guilty of two counts of perjury, two counts of providing false statements and one count of obstructing justice. The indictment outlines what many legal experts describe as a very strong case against Libby, because it shows the former Cheney aide learned about Plame from at least four government sources, including the vice president — and not a reporter, as he testified before the grand jury.

Randall D. Eliason, former head of the public corruption unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District, said he doubts the Woodward account would have much effect on Libby’s case, and dismissed such theories as “defense spin.”

“Libby was not charged with being the first to talk to a reporter, and that is not part of the indictment,” he said.

Why is the Post presenting the Republican spin as the headline and lead of the story, with the actual facts and the contradictory analysis presented only many paragraphs in? It’s bad enough when the cult of “balance” results in articles giving equal weight to an outrageous lie on one side and truth on the other, but in this case the lie has become the story and the truth is relegated to a footnote.

Update (8:45am): Americablog looks at the New York Times story, which has a different take on the consequences of Woodward’s revelation. The Times headline is “New Disclosure Could Prolong Inquiry on Leak”, and it contains an interesting nondenial by Cheney’s office about whether the vice president leaked Plame’s identity to Woodward.

November 16, 2005

The Cancer on Journalism


The Plame Affair has eroded the credibility of many journalists and commentators, and it remains to be seen whether the New York Times can recover from the severe self-inflicted wounds it suffered because of its special treatment and lax supervision of Judith Miller (who is finally leaving the paper — no doubt for a lucrative new career as a right-wing commentator). Tim Russert has put himself in the position of interviewing people about events in which he is himself involved while acting as if he knows nothing. Bob Novak has become even more obviously a Republican hack than he was already.

Now the cancer is touching Washington Post celebrity reporter Bob Woodward, who testified Monday before Patrick Fitzgerald. Woodward has been a constant commentator on the case, always playing down its significance and defending the administration. Now he’s saying that he was a very early recipient of the leak of Plame’s identity, and that it came from someone other than Scooter Libby, someone he won’t name:

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

Why is this coming out only now? One thing that’s certain is that the Plame investigation isn’t over yet, despite the hopes of Republicans.

Let’s hope for the sake of our hometown paper (flawed though it is) that the Post does a better job of handling the Woodward situation than the New York Times did with Miller.


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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