the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
It’s the end of the year, and the DCDL blog has been around for nearly seven months now, so I thought I’d do a little analysis. We’ve had 219 posts and 320 nonspam comments (plus more than 500 spam comments, almost none of which have penetrated our formidable spam defenses), and these are our ten most read blog posts for the year:
Progressive Iraq hawks are hardly some beleaguered minority. They compose maybe ten percent of the population at most, but count among their number the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, their 2004 vice presidential nominee, the last Democrat to serve as president, the minority leader of the United States Senate, the minority whip in the House, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the leading candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination, the ranking members of the House Armed Services and International Relations Committees, a majority of Senate Democrats, the country’s most prominent foreign affairs columnist, and all of the leading candidates for foreign policy jobs in the hypothetical Kerry administration.
Worse, despite having presided over the Democratic defeats in 2002 and 2004, these DLC types still blame their powerless leftish opponents and say they need to be given the reins in 2006 and 2008.
The “Republican wing of the Democratic Party” becomes more like the real Republicans every day. Now they’re replicating their own miniature version of the Republican Party’s long-term complaint that although they control the presidency, both houses of Congress, and much of the judiciary, they remain an unfairly oppressed minority.
Over at the Huffington Post, Patrick Gavin discusses the talk he gave at Timberlake’s a couple of weeks ago.
The comments he’s receiving illustrate an important point: What you get from hearing a live presentation is often different from what is conveyed by the written word. So, let me start by conveying an overall impression: I believe Patrick is doing the hard task of looking at all sides of an argument, and conveying an impression he reached by walking a mile in his neighbors moccasins, or more likely in the Dupont Circle area, Mephistos. If you have the chance to meet him, he will likely strike you as someone who has a fundamental perceptiveness about him. A basic integrity. We could use more of that from this air-brushed sect we call ” journalists.”
Here, I should point out that when we ask people to speak at DCDL, we’re not looking to reinforce some kind of a lefty bubble. We look for people who have expertise in their field, and enjoy the opportunity to get feedback. And some of that feedback is often lively. It’s not a Knitting Club, after all. Then, we’d have to call it Knitting Liberally. And hold it at a yarn store. And the Happy Hour specials at yarn stores totally suck.
To outline Gavin’s concerns with the Plame case we have:
1.) It’s neither sexy or simple.
2.) The personalities involved are hard to sort out from the facts of the case.
3.) It’s the War, stupid.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, a source of entertainment on visits to my parents is reading the editorials and letters to the editor in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which provide a view into a world different from that revealed on the equivalent pages of the Washington Post or even the Washington Times. During this Christmas visit, my attention was captured not by the latest right-wing ranting, but by something I noticed in a letter from someone who was not a Bush supporter:
U.S. Didn’t Suffer Under Clinton
Don’t ask me to stop bashing President Bush if you’re still bashing President Clinton! I take exception to my friend, Eula Randall Lucy, in her recent letter, “People Risk Lives for American Dream,” in which she states, “After the degrading years our country suffered through while the Clintons were in the White House, we are happy to have a President and First Lady with moral and religious values.”
This country was not suffering while Bill Clinton was President, unless of course you can’t get over Bill’s lack of morals. While it’s true that today with Bush we don’t have moral issues with the President, we just have issues about a war, an incredible deficit that grows daily, questionable folks in his administration, Bush’s selection of leaders, the government’s response to crises, gas prices, our reputation with the rest of the globe, etc., etc., etc. And how does one decide that the vitriol that we hear against this President and this country is unpatriotic?
I happen to think this President is a total embarrassment. I have a right to think so and that is the great thing about this country, and it’s the one thing Ms. Lucy and I can agree on. I, too, offer special thanks at this time of year for the privilege of living in the most wonderful country in the world where folks can disagree. I just don’t apply labels to those who don’t happen to agree with me.
I don’t want to single Mr. Bragg out, but he’s provided a useful example of a mistake I run across often in political discussions: buying into the Republican notion that morality is only about sex. Bragg says “we don’t have moral issues with the President” but then in the same sentence brings up war, passing on debt to the next generation, official corruption, treatment of the poor, and other issues, all of which are moral issues. But somehow too many people — even liberals — go along with the idea that morality is only about keeping your pants on at the appropriate times.
President Clinton, like all of us, had moral failings, and the ones Lucy is talking about greatly affected him and his family. But nonsexual moral failings can do just as much damage — or far more, especially if you are the president of the United States. Moral failings by a president in deciding matters of war, or economics, or the environment can do literally millions of times more damage than any sexual trangression a person could possibly commit. Keep that in mind the next time someone talks about “moral values” and elections.
And if you absolutely must have a Bush moral failing with a sexual angle, read Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings on how the administration can’t quite bring itself to stand up to defense contractors on the issue of human trafficking — including selling women as sex slaves.
The Shrub is fighting for the political life of the GOP, the Libertarian wing of the party now up in arms over the revelations regarding the Warrantless wiretapping (to say nothing about how most Liberals feel). I believe he is mounting three defenses, all three based on a series of “of course” conclusions that when looked at from beginning to end, are pretty damn ridiculous. What I like to characterize as “weasel words.” It’s interesting when people who claim to believe in strict construction of the Constitution interperet it so freely - and even more interesting when they interpret the laws with an even more cavalier disregard for consequences.
[Crossposted at Stealthbadger.net]
According to the Washington Post, Dick “Dick” Cheney is about to cut short a trip to Iraq so he can vote for drilling in the Arctic Reserve.
And, I quote:
“Vice President Cheney cut short a trip to the Middle East and rushed back to Washington overnight, preparing to cast a tiebreaking vote on budget cuts in the Senate today, as Republicans also make a high-stakes bid to approve oil drilling in the Alaska wilderness.”
Let’s put this in context. On Sunday, President Bush made a speech about progress in the Middle East. Meanwhile, he’s also pointed out that you’ve got to spy on, well pretty much everyone, to make progress in the Middle East happen. So, Cheney made a surprise visit on Sunday so that people understood that success in Iraq was the most important thing to the American people.
Yet today, Cheney is cutting short his diplomatic mission in Iraq to support drilling the remainder of the Alaskan coast so that Exxon-Mobil can have a really good year. This, needless to say, has nothing to do with the Middle East, except that it makes us look ridiculous there.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wonder if you can tell us today, sir, what, if any, limits you believe there are or should be on the powers of a President during a war, at wartime? And if the global war on terror is going to last for decades, as has been forecast, does that mean that we’re going to see, therefore, a more or less permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive in American society?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I disagree with your assertion of “unchecked power.”
Q Well —
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, please. There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law, for starters. There is oversight. We’re talking to Congress all the time, and on this program, to suggest there’s unchecked power is not listening to what I’m telling you. I’m telling you, we have briefed the United States Congress on this program a dozen times.
This is an awesome responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the American people, and I understand that, Peter. And we’ll continue to work with the Congress, as well as people within our own administration, to constantly monitor programs such as the one I described to you, to make sure that we’re protecting the civil liberties of the United States. To say “unchecked power” basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the President, which I strongly reject.
Q What limits do you —
THE PRESIDENT: I just described limits on this particular program, Peter. And that’s what’s important for the American people to understand. I am doing what you expect me to do, and at the same time, safeguarding the civil liberties of the country.
So Bush enumerates two checks on his power to torture, detain indefinitely without charges, spy on American citizens, or do whatever the hell he wants in the War on Terrorism. The first check is “people being sworn to uphold the law”. I’m sure we can all rest easy in the knowledge that no one who has sworn to uphold the law would ever think of violating that oath.
The second check is “talking to Congress”. The administration apparently actually talked to only a handful of members of Congress about the program of warrantless wiretaps on American citizens, and those members were prohibited from telling anyone about the conversations. So they couldn’t talk to other members (not even those who were also on the intelligence committees) and take congressional action. They couldn’t consult legal or constitutional experts. They couldn’t alert the public. The best they could do was write a letter of protest and file it away in secret. What sort of check could such conversations possibly provide?
I do agree with Bush when he says, “I am doing what you expect me to do”. It’s not what I’d hope for, or what I’d expect most presidents to do, but it is the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from Bush. He and his gang have made clear in the past that they believe a president has absolute power in a time of war — and that we’re now in the midst of a war that can have no clear ending.
Perhaps rather than checks the president would look better in stripes.
At family gatherings at my parents’ house, one of our pastimes is finding the most outrageous right-wing editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and there’s usually a good crop of them. So I was amused to see in Media Matters that the paper had run an editorial denying the existence of the War on Christmas, and even calling out Bill O’Reilly by name:
Yet to hear some voices — Bill O’Reilly’s, for instance — Christmas lies under siege. Unless defended, it even could disappear! What planet do these Scrooges inhabit? The removal of religious symbols from public places probably has gone too far. Officials have grown too skittish, courts too absolute. Christmas, nevertheless, is not endangered. And to refer to Christmas vacation as Winter Break in no way demeans an occasion blest best not by baubles but by souls in quiet communion.
Once upon a time many believers lamented the commercialization of Christmas. A complaint now seems to be that Christmas isn’t commercial enough.
Hmm, maybe O’Reilly’s shtick isn’t playing as well as I feared.
O’Reilly of course responded by attacking the editorial on his show — saying it was lying about him and expressing surprise that he was being criticized in Richmond, of all places:
O’REILLY: Now, this is a conservative city, Richmond. I mean, this is not Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan up there in the Madison, Wisconsin, media.
Will O’Reilly soon be adding the Times-Dispatch to his enemies list?
Ken Lay declared his innocence, demonized his accusers and asked ex-employee “truth sayers” to rally ’round him for his trial, in a luncheon speech today. […]
The former chairman of Enron told the sold-out crowd of about 500 at the Houston Forum that Enron was a great company and would still be great if not for the illegal conduct of a few — namely ex-CFO Andrew Fastow and his protege Michael Kopper, who Lay said committed “despicable and criminal deeds.”
“We did trust Andy Fastow and sadly, tragically, that trust turned out to be fatally misplaced,” he said. Lay said it was the misdeeds of Fastow and cohorts, hidden from Lay, that led to the company’s 2001 bankruptcy and the dissolved dreams of thousands of employees. […]
Flanked on the podium by Texas and U.S. flags, and a gold and red-themed Christmas tree, Lay read from a prepared text in which he attacked the Justice Department for prosecuting the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, destroying the company and then dropping the case. He said the prosecutors have been attempting to criminalize normal business practices.
So Lay is blaming all his troubles on underlings (essentially claiming that he was incompetent, not evil) and decrying a movement in the Justice Department to “criminalize” normal actions. Doesn’t that remind you of George W. Bush and today’s Republican Party? Does the culture of corruption that has infested government have its roots in the boardrooms of big corporations?
Last Sunday, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell attacked (2005 DCDL guest speaker) Dan Froomkin’s White House Briefing: (emphasis mine)
Political reporters at The Post don’t like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin’s “White House Briefing,” which is highly opinionated and liberal. They’re afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter.
John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, “The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset — our credibility” as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column “that we would never allow a White House reporter to write. I wish it could be done with a different title and display.”
Harris is right; some readers do think Froomkin is a White House reporter. But Froomkin works only for the Web site and is very popular — and Brady is not going to fool with that, though he is considering changing the column title and supplementing it with a conservative blogger.
There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny. I was prepared to take the same approach with John Kerry, had he become president.
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