the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

February 28, 2006

Lamont, Living Wage, Schools, and Iraq at DC for Democracy Wednesday


Speaking of Ned Lamont’s primary challenge to Joe Lieberman, our friends at DC for Democracy are holding their monthly meeting this week and will have a special guest: Lamont senior campaign adviser Aldon Hynes, who will “talk about why progressives are challenging Senator Lieberman and answer your questions about his campaign and the tactics of challenging an incumbent Democrat.”

In addition, people will be talking about DC4D’s efforts at the local level to improve DC public schools and promote a living wage for DC workers. If that sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to help with, show up and find out more.

In national-level politics, DC for Democracy will be continuing with its “Change the Course” campaign — reaching out to Democracy for America chapters across the country to lobby for discussion in Congress about how to end the US occupation of Iraq. The campaign has a specific plan, focused on a stalled bill in the House called the Homeward Bound Resolution. It’s still in its early stages and could use your help.

The meeting is Wednesday, March 1, at 7pm at Ben’s Chili Bowl, 1213 U Street NW (near the U Street Metro stop). For more information, see the RSVP form.

February 24, 2006

Will You Still Need Joe, Will You Still Feed Joe, When He’s 64?


Today is Joe Lieberman’s 64th birthday. Wonder if he can make it through the day without opening his mouth to support George Bush or attack Howard Dean or otherwise help the Republican Party or hurt the Democrats?

This year Lieberman has a richly deserved primary challenge from Ned Lamont. Lamont’s campaign is just getting under way, but it’s looking better than some expected. Lieberman is much more popular among Republicans than among Democrats, but Republicans don’t get to vote in the primary. Even if Lamont doesn’t win, it’s important to at least give Lieberman a scare to get him to think about the effect of his statements before speaking.

If you want to celebrate Joe’s birthday, consider a gift to the Lamont campaign — perhaps through the ActBlue Netroots page (where you can also give to former Texas congressman Ciro Rodriguez to help him regain his seat from Henry Cuellar, who seems a little confused about what party he’s in).

To learn more about the Lamont campaign, come to next week’s DC for Democracy meeting (Wednesday, March 1, at 7pm at Ben’s Chili Bowl), where a Lamont staffer will explain their strategy and answer questions.

February 23, 2006

How the Port Deal Relates to the NSA Scandal


There are several political blogs I read regularly that I haven’t added to the blog roll here because they don’t fit under the heading “liberal blogs” (I guess I should reorganize). The most recent one I’ve found is Unclaimed Territory by Glenn Greenwald. It would be particularly bad to list Greenwald as a liberal blogger because one of his recent themes has been the way Bush supporters label anyone disagreeing with Bush as “liberal”.

The controversy over the port deal has many interesting facets, but Greenwald points out one that ties it together with the issue of illegal spying by the NSA (an issue that’s probably much more important) and exposes a glaring contradiction in the positions of most Republicans in Congress:

It is really quite astounding to watch Congressional Republicans fall all over themselves advocating legislation, on the grounds of national security, to force the President to reverse his decision about who is going to operate our ports. Many of these same Republicans have been defending Bush’s violations of FISA on the ground that Congress lacks constitutional authority to restrict or regulate the President’s Article II power to act unilaterally with regard to matters of national security.

In a followup post he suggests that this contradiction opens up the perfect opportunity to pressure Congress on illegal spying:

The principal argument which has been invoked by the President’s apologists for suppressing investigations — namely, that we should blindly trust the President on national security matters and that Congress has no business investigating the President’s decisions concerning the “war on terror”– is entirely obviated by the port controversy. In response to demands for an NSA investigation, it will now ring intuitively false for any Republican Senator to claim that Congress has no role to play, or that the Administration should be trusted with no oversight, when it comes to making decisions about how to defend the nation.

I’m going to continue reading Greenwald regularly, and I recommend you do too.

February 21, 2006

An Unintended Consequence of the Bush Bubble


The Carpetbagger Report (via Kevin Drum) alerted me to a story that starts off as yet another example of a Bush event being restricted to only rabid supporters:

Command Sergeant Major Tim Walz is a twenty-four-year veteran of the Army National Guard, now retired but still on active duty when a visit from President George W. Bush shortly before the 2004 election coincided with Walz’s homecoming to Mankato, Minnesota. A high school teacher and football coach, he had left to serve overseas in Operation Enduring Freedom. Southern Minnesota is home to a large Guard contingent that includes Walz’s unit, the First 125th Field Artillery Battalion, so the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are naturally a pressing local concern — particularly to high school students headed into the armed services.

The president’s visit struck Walz as a teachable moment, and he and two students boarded a Bush campaign bus that took them to a quarry where the president was to speak. But after they had passed through a metal detector and their tickets and IDs were checked, they were denied admittance and ordered back onto the bus. One of the boys had a John Kerry sticker on his wallet.

The story goes downhill from there, as the Bush staffers subject the veteran to further disrespect. But it then takes an interesting turn: Rather than just complain to the media, Walz decided to run for Congress, as a Democrat. He’s now one of 53 and counting Democratic veterans running for Congress.

February 18, 2006

Civil rights novel reading Monday


Author Julian Houston, whose debut coming-of-age civil-rights-era novel, New Boy , got a rave in the New York Times, has a reading slated for D.C’s Politics and Prose on Monday, Feb. 20, at 4:30 p.m. ( The store’s located at 5015 Connecticut Ave. ) It’s a way to learn first-hand about the civil rights struggles in the South from someone who was there — and who also tells the story of the first black student at an elite Northeastern prep school.

Remember something called integration and voting rights? At a time when the Bush Administration has abandoned any interest in promoting social justice, it’s worth understanding what the fires of civil-rights activism were like.

February 17, 2006

Thanks and a Heads Up


First of all, I wanted to thank Chris Carney and David Willet of the Sierra Club for speaking last night. It’s always a good sign when folks want to hang out and chat long after the talk is over. I know I was there way past my bedtime.

We’re still waiting for final confirmation for our March speaker, and will post as soon as we know.

Now, some exciting news for April. I just got off the phone with Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies. I heard her on DemocracyNow discussing her new book: Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power, and managed to get in touch.

Here’s a short description of her book:

When millions around the world marched to protest the Iraq war and the U.S. drive towards empire, the New York Times dubbed global public opinion “the second super-power.” What empowered those protests was their alliance — if only for a brief moment — with governments unexpectedly willing to stand up to U.S. pressure, and with the United Nations itself, when it followed its Charter’s command to stop “the scourge of war.” Bennis tracks the rise of U.S. unilateralism and the doctrine of preemptive war, looking particularly at Iraq and Israel/Palestine, and examines both the potential and the challenges ahead in reclaiming the UN as part of the global peace movement.

I look forward to her appearance at DCDL on April 16.

February 15, 2006

About Thursday’s Speaker


Chris Carney is the Washington regional organizer for the Sierra Club’s Building Environmental Community (BEC) Program. Building Environmental Community is a decade-long effort to create a deeper community engagement in environmental issues, using traditional grassroots organizing methods by Sierra Club activists and organizers. The goal of this program is to influence the environmental policies of decision makers by creating a robust environmental community and strong public demand for environmental progress. No stranger to the marriage of drinking and activism, Sierra Club hosts monthly happy hours and recently launched its Sierra Club and Beer Night, inviting green-minded folk to come together for free beer and to become part of Sierra Club’s mission to explore, enjoy and protect the planet.

Wait a minute. Did someone say “free beer”?

Update: I put this out in the newsletter, but neglected to mention here, David Willett, National Press Secretary for the Sierra Club will be speaking about the lay of the land for national environmental issues in 2006.

February 12, 2006

Bush Diagnosed With Abramoffoma


This enhanced version of the first photo of Bush and Abramoff known to have escaped the scrubbing of evidence clearly shows a small head growing out of Bush’s left shoulder in May 2001. The president’s physician diagnosed it as a malignant abramoffoma, a parasitic growth that can invade the nervous system and actually affect the actions and decision making of the host. The growth had become so enmeshed with Bush’s vital processes that it was deemed too dangerous to remove it. By the time of the 2004 presidential debates, the abramoffoma had migrated to the center of his back and was mostly concealed by his jacket. No cure has yet been found, but White House staff are still looking.

(Thanks to Slartibartfast, commenting at Balloon Juice, for alerting me to this. I was going to try a Babylon 5 reference, but since I stopped watching the show when it moved to cable and so missed the relevant episodes, I’ll leave that to commenters.)

February 9, 2006

How not to smear somebody.


In any scandal involving bribery or undue influence, especially involving a sitting member of Congress, there is one key standard to meet: were the donations of someone espousing a particular cause matched and related to the actions of the Congresscritter in question?

In the latest smear job on Ried, I will yield to the words of Josh Marshall :

I rung up Reid spokesman Jim Manley. He said Reid was a “cosponsor of Sen. Kennedy’s bill; he spoke in favor of the bill on the Senate; he was a strong supporter of the bill.” When I pressed Manley on whether Sen. Reid took any action adverse to the bill or made changes in timing that lead to the bill’s demise, he said, “No.”

Then I got hold of Ron Platt, the lobbyist referenced in the passage above, on his cell phone while he was down at a conference in Florida. I asked him whether, to the best of his recollection, Reid had taken any action against the Kennedy bill. “I’m sure he didn’t,” Platt told me.

According to Platt, the purpose of his contacts was to see what information he could get about the timing and status of the legislation. Reid’s position on the minimum wage issue was well known and there would have been no point trying to get his help blocking it. That’s what Platt says. “I didn’t ask Reid to intervene,” said Platt. “I wouldn’t have asked him to intervene. I don’t think anyone else would have asked. And I’m sure he didn’t.”

Now, obviously, both Reid’s office and Platt are interested parties on this question. If there were evidence to the contrary you wouldn’t necessarily want to take their statements at face value. But as far as I can tell there is no evidence to the contrary. And that’s after speaking with supporters of the legislation who would probably know. They don’t seem to think Reid had anything to do with tanking the minimum wage bill. Nothing.

In this case, despite the AP story’s narrative of lobbyist contacts, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence whatsoever that Reid ever took any action on behalf of Abramoff’s Marianas clients.

Wasn’t that worth a mention?

Not only is the Party of Bacon getting sloppy about even pretending to conceal their mendacious ways, they’re getting worse at their swift-boating.

And to the MSM: couldn’t y’all go after someone with real issues?

With thanks to C&L.

February 8, 2006

Webb Enters Virginia Senate Race


Today saw an event long awaited among a large segment of Virginia Democrats. James Webb, who was secretary of the Navy under Reagan, decided to run for the Senate as a Democrat, aiming to replace Republican George Allen. And DCDLer Lee Diamond played a part in persuading Webb to run:

Webb has been the subject of an aggressive political draft effort on the Internet at http://www.draftjameswebb.com/ , which claims more than 999 signatures on his behalf.

The Draft James Webb movement was a project of Lee, together with Josh Chernila and Lowell Feld of Raising Kaine, and they’ve met with Webb and promoted him as a possible candidate for weeks. Looks like their persistence has paid off. Congratulations, Lee!

There is another declared Democratic candidate, Harris Miller, so there will likely be a primary in June. As an outsider, I’ll leave the choice up to Virginians (including all of my immediate family), but I look forward to seeing a serious challenger to Allen emerge.

I do like this bit from the Associated Press story:

Webb said his campaign will also focus on ways to help middle- and low-income families and “restoring the traditional role of Congress” by checking the growth of presidential authority since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

For celebratory coverage of Webb’s announcement, see my favorite Virginia blogs, Raising Kaine and Waldo Jaquith.


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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