the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 30, 2006

“Fascism With a Microsoft Face”


I’ve been trying not to waste too much time following every twist of the blog war The New Republic (TNR) launched against Jerome Armstrong (founder of MyDD), Markos “Kos” Moulitsas (founder of the Daily Kos), and eventually everyone in the liberal blogosphere. I look at MyDD and the Daily Kos every day or so, and I occasionally post comments (mainly on MyDD since the Daily Kos comments have grown too numerous to handle). But I don’t consider either site essential to my blog reading, and I certainly don’t accept marching orders from Kos or Jerome or agree with everything they write.

Maybe there’s some scandal involving one or both of them that’s somehow different from what happens every day among commentators in the offline media, but I doubt it. If there is, though, my online life won’t be affected much. (Though the relevation that Jerome is into astrology does make it harder for me to take him seriously as a leader in the reality-based community.)

TNR’s attempts to dig up dirt and smear liberals throughout the Internet are so far over the top — culminating in an extensive explanation by Lee Siegel that yes, he really did mean to call us fascists and thugs — that I’m not sure what to make of them. Maybe the people at TNR have an irrational fear of bloggers (even though they themselves blog). Maybe it’s a misguided attempt to defend Joe Lieberman from the netroots Lamont supporters. Maybe they just want to increase web traffic through controversy. Regardless, at this point they deserve every bit of ridicule they get. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has a ridicule rundown, and piles on more of her own. Tapped is now describing itself as “Non-stop blogofascism from The American Prospect’s staff.”

One of the many bizarre points in Siegel’s original rant was his description of blogs as “hard fascism with a Microsoft face”. The phrase echoes “socialism with a human face” from the 1968 Prague Spring, but in the earlier phrase, making socialism human was supposed to be something new and a bit surprising. Humanity was something far removed from socialism as people viewed it.

In Siegel’s phrase, there’s no equivalent seeming contradiction. Microsoft isn’t inherently fascist, but it’s certainly not the first thing I’d think of when asked for the opposite of fascism. Microsoft worldview is totalitarian, and that’s how it’s gotten where it is, regardless of Bill Gates’s philanthropy. Does Siegel somehow view Microsoft as warm and cuddly?

The other thing I wonder about the phrase is what Microsoft has to do with blogs anyway. Yes, lots of people use Microsoft Windows on the computers they read and write blogs with, but the vast majority of blogs, like the vast majority of websites in general, are running on open-source software that has nothing to do with Microsoft. Is Siegel one of those idiots who think Bill Gates invented the Internet?

June 27, 2006

Reid Says Minimum Wage Increase Must Come Before Congressional Pay Raise


Harry Reid isn’t going to let last week’s defeat of a minimum wage increase be the Senate’s the final word on the subject. He says Democrats will block an upcoming congressional pay raise if necessary to force the issue:

“Congress is going to have earn its raise by putting American workers first: A raise for workers before a raise for Congress,” said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Reid refused to spell out exactly how he will block a $3,300 pay raise scheduled for January 1 for members of Congress, who currently earn $165,200 annually. He said with 40 Senate Democrats backing the maneuver, “We can stop anything they (Republicans) try to do with a congressional pay raise.”

The Carpetbagger is delighted to see this move, and so am I. You’d almost think Reid was trying to give Amy Sullivan material for the “brilliant” side of Thursday’s “Democrats: As Lame as You Think or Secretly Brilliant?”

In the earlier vote, all the Democrats stuck together (except Rockefeller, who was absent recovering from surgery) and were joined by 8 Republicans, 4 of whom are up for reelection this year. All the other Republicans (except for Shelby, who was also absent) voted against the increase, and the amendment failed 52-46 — it required a 3/5 vote because of a procedural rule (something oddly missing from the Senate vote page).

Ten Republicans voted against the increase even though they’re up for reelection. In rough order of decreasing vulnerability, they are

Let’s hope their Democratic opponents ask them during the campaign why they opposed to giving a raise to the lowest-paid workers among us.

June 26, 2006

“Democrats: As Lame as You Think or Secretly Brilliant?” — Amy Sullivan at Drinking Liberally Thursday


The conventional wisdom seems to be that while Republicans have badly blown their time in government and are becoming increasing unpopular with the American public, Democrats are failing to take political advantage of Republican corruption and incompetence and thus will still have a hard time in this year’s elections. How much of that is because of Rovian political brilliance among the Republicans? fondness for Republican talking points among the media? Democratic cowardice and ineffectuality?

Amy Sullivan is a contributing editor at the Washington Monthly and author of a forthcoming book on religion and politics. Hear what she thinks at Drinking Liberally Thursday, June 29, at 6:30pm in the back room at Timberlake’s, 1726 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont Circle Metro). Her talk will be “Democrats: As Lame as You Think or Secretly Brilliant?” — riffing on the themes developed in her May article in the Washington Monthly.

As usual, we’ll have free appetizers and drink specials until 9. The talk will begin around 7:30, but get there early to be sure to get a seat — and to get in some socializing.

If you’re not on our e-mail list, subscribe to get announcements of future speakers and events.

June 25, 2006

Ron Suskind at Politics and Prose


In October 2004, journalist Ron Suskind gave us the term “reality-based community”, in a New York Times Magazine article. Now his new book, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11, is burning up the blogosphere with further revelations about the Bush White House.

Monday, June 26, at 7pm, Suskind will be doing a book event at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW. Several DCDL Thursday regulars will be going, and we’ll likely go out for something to eat or drink afterward. Join us if you like — look for the Drinking Liberally buttons.

Update (June 26): Suskind appeared on the Diane Rehm Show this morning. The audio should be available on the WAMU site within an hour.

Alexandria Drinking Liberally Launches This Week


David Swim stopped by DC Drinking Liberally Thursday last week to let people know he’s starting an Alexandria chapter. It debuts Thursday, June 29, at 7pm at Nick’s Nightclub, 642 S. Pickett Street (Van Dorn is the closest Metro station, but I don’t think it’s particularly walkable). Every DL chapter attracts its own crowd and evolves in its own way, and I’m sure this one will be quite different from our Thursday group at Timberlake’s, so if you live somewhere where either is an option, try both and see which fits you better (and don’t forget the Wednesday chapter at Mark and Orlando’s). The location is still within the Beltway, though (by several hundred yards), so it will share in the weird political radiations we experience here.

To follow this new chapter as it develops, read its blog, participate in its forum (which Dave plans to keep more active than the average DL forum), and subscribe to its e-mail list.

Good luck to Dave and the new chapter as they bring the gift of Drinking Liberally to those in Virginia who’ve been thirsting for it!

June 23, 2006

It’s Top Secret — and Everyone Already Knows It


Last month I posted a comment on Balloon Juice mocking the way right-wing bloggers and commenters were pushing two contradictory arguments about the USA Today story on the NSA’s database of phone calls:

Old news. Nothing to see here. This sort of thing has been going on forever, and we’ve always known it was happening. Anyone with half a brain knew the NSA was doing this. In fact, it’s practically the definition of what they’re supposed to be doing. No one would expect them not to be doing it.

Oh, and USA Today and the other media outlets reporting the story are traitors. Those so-called journalists should be hanged for endangering the country by revealing important secrets to our enemies — things our enemies had no way of knowing and could never have guessed.

I said in a later comment that unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find the two arguments being made at the same time.

Now, thanks to the uproar in the right-wing blogs about the Bush administration sifting through millions of banking transactions, I have an example. Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters manages to get the two inconsistent arguments into a single sentence (emphasis added):

Excuse me, but no one voted to put Bill Keller in charge of our national security, and the laws covering classification of materials does not have an option for journalists to invalidate their clearance level. The continuing arrogance of Keller and his two reporters has damaged our national security, and in this case on a ridiculously laughable story that tells us absolutely nothing we didn’t already know in concept. They keep pretending to offer news to their readers, but instead all they do is blow our national-security programs for profit.

Apparently it’s difficult for Bush supporters to grasp, but if these are perfectly normal, legal government operations that everyone already knows about, then clearly the terrorists already know about them and have taken what steps they can to evade detection. If that’s true, how does publishing the stories help the terrorists or otherwise endanger national security?

And if the operations are violating the law, isn’t it the job of journalists to inform the American people of that? Besides, do terrorists really care whether their actions are being monitored legally or illegally? They know the monitoring is happening, and they don’t care whether those spying on them have a warrant or are otherwise subject to oversight to prevent abuse.

June 22, 2006

“The Dark Side”


Tonight at Drinking Liberally we were talking about Wednesday’s Frontline episode on Vice President for Torture Cheney, but most of us hadn’t gotten a chance to see it. Fortunately, PBS has put the entire 90-minute program online, along with pages of supplemental text and charts that could keep you occupied for hours. Here’s the blurb from the site:

After 9/11, Vice President Richard Cheney seized the initiative. He pushed to expand executive power, transform America’s intelligence agencies and bring the war on terror to Iraq. But first he had to take on George Tenet’s CIA for control over intelligence.

The episode is called “The Dark Side”, taken from Cheney’s Vaderian statement shortly after 9/11, “We have to work the dark side, if you will. Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world.”

I’m just starting to go through it all now. I doubt Dick is happy about this, but then is he ever really happy?

Bush Defaces Flag (Again)


With the Congress gearing up to amend the Constitution to partially repeal the First Amendment in order to address the grave threat of flag burning, Bush decided to take out a little time in Austria to scrawl his signature on American flags for some fans. This is a repeat of a flag-autographing stunt he pulled in 2003, for which there is photographic evidence:

Bush signing flag

If desecrating the flag is such an outrage, shouldn’t these Constitution amenders be drawing up articles of impeachment?

June 18, 2006

Help Retake the House With Phyllis Busansky


DCDL Thursday regular Ian Fried is one of the people behind Blue Catapult, a political action committee whose philosophy is expressed on its “Why” page:

Incumbents of either party rarely have problems raising money. They can use their voting records to curry favors; they have developed campaign networks; they have people and interest groups who use contributions to gain access to them. Most challengers have no such advantages.

Blue Catapult PAC seeks to overcome this inequity by focusing solely on Democratic challengers against Republican incumbents or who are running for open seats. While other PACs and the DCCC want to defend their endangered incumbents first, Blue Catapult will aim at expanding the map of Republican seats under Democratic challenge.

Monday, June 19, Blue Catapult is holding an affordable fundraiser for Phyllis Busansky, who is running for the House seat in Florida’s 9th district — a seat currently occupied by Republican Mike Bilirakis. (Her likely opponent is the congressman’s son Gus Bilirakis, so you might support her simply on the principle of opposition to dynasties.) The event is from 7 to 9pm at Tabaq Bistro Lounge, 1336 U St NW (near the U Street stop on the green line). Suggested donation levels are $100, $45, and $25. RSVP to launch@bluecatapult.com, and find more details at the Blue Catapult site.

June 16, 2006

Drinking Liberally Presents Air America Host Sam Seder


Sam Seder

We are pleased and proud to present a post book-signing happy hour with Air America host and author of FUBAR, Sam Seder, this Tuesday, June 20, starting at 8:45 PM.

The happy hour will be held at Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse, 2001 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington VA (Court House Metro).

More on FUBAR at Harper Collins.


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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