the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

March 29, 2007

GSA Toady Comes to Capitol Hill


You may have already seen the video, but this was too good not to preserve as text.

On Wednesday, Lurita Doan, Administrator at the General Services Administration, came to talk to talk to Henry Waxman’s committee. She was there to answer questions about a meeting this past January between GSA and Karl Rove’s Office of Political Affairs, a meeting that was by all appearances a Republican strategy session held in a government agency that is supposed to be nonpartisan. That’s why this was probably an illegal meeting.

Bruce Braley (IA-1) is the freshman Democrat who led the questioning. His focus was the Powerpoint presentation on recent Congressional elections that was given at this meeting by Karl Rove’s deputy, Scott Jennings.

BRALEY: Let’s look at Slide 578. This is the slide that has at the top “2008 House Targets Top 20″. … This slide is depicting Republican targets that identify Democratic seats that are vulnerable in 2006. Isn’t that what it says? … And it shows district by district the individual what the percentage of that district was in the 2004 election and what percentage that particular Democratic candidate received in the 2006 election. Correct?
DOAN: Yes, it appears… I-I-I honestly, I have not seen this chart until yesterday, I don’t remember, I mean, I really truly don’t remember seeing this chart until yesterday when I tried to dig it up and I have to say I don’t know what the explanation was that accompanies this. I truly do not remember this part of the presentation.

DOAN: [T]his was not my meeting, I did not convene it, I didn’t run the agenda of it, I did not invite… Scott Jennings to the meeting, I actually didn’t have any involvement in it.
WAXMAN: You were just there, though.
DOAN: I did attend the meeting. Yes, I was there, and I-
WAXMAN: Well I’m going to let Mr. Braley continue.
BRALEY: You would agree that a reasonable interpretation of this slide is that it was a political attempt to try to target the top 20 Democratic candidates for defeat in 2008.
DOAN: No, I would not say that. I would say that this was a slide that says “2008 House Targets Top 20.” I do not want to try to speculate what was intended by Mr. Jennings on the slide. I really think you have to ask him.

Sniff-sniff. Smell something?


March 27, 2007

Wednesday Political Events


Those of you who are interested in politics and plan your schedule at the last minute are in luck. The evening of Wednesday, March 28, is chock-full of exciting events:

March 25, 2007

DNC Reception with Howard Dean and Eleanor Holmes Norton


In 2005, when Howard Dean became DNC chair, he launched the Democracy Bonds program, in which grassroots Democrats set up monthly contributions to support the party. Obviously not everyone can afford to make such a commitment, but you don’t have to be rich to do it, either. I’ve been a Democracy Bond holder for nearly a year and a half now, and I was very pleased in November with the return on my investment as the Democrats took back both chambers of Congress.

Monday, Democracy Bond holders are invited to reception with Governor Dean and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (fresh off her latest appearance on the Colbert Report). Hear what Dean has to say about the future of the party, and what Norton can tell us about the status of DC’s hoped-for vote in the House. If you’re not yet a bondholder, you can become one or make a one-time contribution of $50 to attend.

Monday, March 26
Human Rights Campaign
Equality Forum Room
1640 Rhode Island Ave NW

RSVP at www.democrats.org/dcgrassroots or contact Casey Breitenbeck at breitenbeckc@dnc.org or 202-863-8023.

March 22, 2007

Max Blumenthal at DCDL


Join us in the back room of Timberlake’s this Thursday, 6:30 to 9. (1726 Connecticut Ave NW, north of Dupont Circle). This is our monthly guest speaker night, and we are proud and pleased to host Max Blumenthal.

Max Blumenthal is a Nation Institute Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow whose work regularly appears in the Nation. He is a Research Fellow at Media Matters for America.

You may want to check out his March 19 article in the Nation: The Porn Plot Against Prosecutors. If you’re interested in the prosecutor purge story, there’s fresh material here that’s definitely worth a read.

March 20, 2007

Bush Denounces “Show Trials”


From Bush’s press conference today:

We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants. The initial response by Democrats unfortunately shows some appear more interested in scoring political points than in learning the facts. It will be regrettable if they choose to head down the partisan road of issuing subpoenas and demanding show trials.

Bush knows a thing or two about show trials, considering he has people “voluntarily” confessing to lists of crimes in Gitmo right now. I don’t think demanding that witnesses testify under oath is quite the same as waterboarding, though I can see how it might seem that way to people from an administration as allergic to truth telling as this one.

March 19, 2007

The Real Reason Americans Hate Muslims, According to David Frum


Today the radio show To the Point discussed “America and Islam: Four Years Later”. One of the guests was David Frum of the American Enterprise Institute, who was asked to give his expert opinion on such topics as whether Barack Obama is now or ever has been a Muslim and whether Obama might be targeted for death by the Islamic world for being an apostate. I love listening to “liberal” public radio.

Later in the program Frum provided this bit of insight (my transcription):

The best survey of American attitudes toward the Muslim minority is conducted by Pew, and they’ve done a series of — the Pew Charitable Trust Fund, which has lots of money — and they’ve done a series of these, and what they found was overwhelmingly positive American attitudes toward Muslims. Actually, attitudes became more positive after the 9/11 attacks, if you can believe it. The inflection point — the point at which the attitude becomes much more skeptical — is the Danish cartoon controversy, where a group of imams based in Denmark whipped up this agitation all around the world against people exercising very ordinary free speech rights, and that is the moment where you can see Americans suddenly reconsidering and where if you plot these things as trend lines, the trends change.

While the reaction to the Danish cartoons was a big event in the blogosphere, I somehow doubt that the average American was obsessing about the story, much less that it affected American attitudes more than 9/11 did. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the Pew survey, but even if by some miracle it actually shows significant changes in the directions Frum claims, I doubt the right wing’s favorite cartoons are the explanation.

March 17, 2007

Bush Weighs In On DC Voting


In case you didn’t see this, the Decider-in-Chief has ruled out voting rights for the District: (Washington Post)

The White House declared its opposition yesterday to a bill that would give the District its first full seat in the House of Representatives, saying it is unconstitutional, and a key Senate supporter said such concerns could kill the measure.

“The Constitution specifies that only ‘the people of the several states’ elect representatives to the House,” said White House spokesman Alex Conant. “And D.C. is not a state.”

Then, Conant added: “Let them eat cake.” Not really, but it’s very easy to imagine him dressed up like Louis XIV.

My question is: when did Bush become pro-Constitution? My whole memory of the legal proceedings at Guantanamo was Bush trying to find the best way to avoid having the Constitution apply to him.

And, if I’m not mistaken, doesn’t the Supreme Court exist to decide what is and what’s not Constitutional? True, some of them are more duck-hunting partners for the VP than legal authorities, but still, wouldn’t it be polite to at least ask them what they think?

On the other hand, as Scalia once put it: “Quack, quack.”

March 15, 2007

How’s the troop surge going? What troop surge?


While there seems to be less news from Iraq than ever recently, we are hearing occasional stories cautiously suggesting that the violence is down a little. An AP story Wednesday reported that bombing deaths in Baghdad are down 30% over the last month.

But according to The Brookings Institute’s Iraq Index, violence overall is way up:

“Iraqis Killed in Multiple Fatality Bombings”:

July: 490 (record high)
November: 580 (record high)
December: 574
January: 442
February 704 (record high)

“Iraqis Wounded in Multiple Fatality Bombings”:

July: 1161 (record high)
November: 1010
December: 1254 (record high)
January: 1081
February: 1684 (record high)

And about that troop surge:

September: 144,000 US troops (+18,000 foreign troops)
October: 144,000 (17,200)
November: 140,000 (+18,000)
December: 140,000 (+15,200)
January: 132,000 (+14,650)
February: 135,000 (+14,010)
March: 141,000 (+14,035)

In other words, there are less troops now than there were in December prior to the “troop surge”.

I assume this is largely because of troop rotations. We’ll have to see where the troop levels are in a couple of months. But so far, the “Year of the Troop Surge” was 2005. US forces were at 150,000 or more for 6 months out of 2005 (all-time high was 160,000 in November and December 2005). If I were John McCain, I’d be asking the White House if we’re ever going to get to those levels again. What followed our efforts in 2005, of course, was a dramatic increase in violence in 2006. (Troop levels ranged from about 130,00-144,000 in 2006.)

Bottom line, the violence in Iraq continues unabated.

March 13, 2007

Salon Needs a New Headline Writer


Earlier this month Salon ran an article about Dick Cheney’s visit to Afghanistan and couldn’t resist the “clever” headline “How Cheney bombed in Afghanistan”, despite the tastelessness of punning on an event that cost 23 people their lives.

Today Salon has a perfectly good article by Robert Polner on the weaknesses of one of the Republican presidential candidates, but again it’s marred by an unfortunate headline: “How to Swift-boat Rudy Giuliani”. Of course the article is not about Swift-boating and is not calling for Democrats to spread lies about Giuliani. This is made clear in the article itself (emphasis added):

In 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth challenged the established image of John Kerry as a decorated, wounded Vietnam War hero. Democrats who had supported Kerry because they thought his military service made him electable were shocked to find a Republican-funded 527 group using spurious information and savage ads to create doubt in the electorate about the candidate’s war record. Should Rudy Giuliani be the Republican nominee in 2008, Democrats can create the same doubt about him, but without relying on distortion. They could instead use the truthful words of sympathetic subjects who credibly blame Giuliani for the loss of their loved ones on Sept. 11.

The important characteristic of the SBVT’s attacks on Kerry is that they were lies. By applying the term “Swift-boat” to ordinary political attacks on a candidate — attacks that the article itself specifically describes as truthful — Salon is legitimizing the SBVT’s lies and effectively condoning real Swift-boating as a tactic.

I don’t want to “Swift-boat” Giuliani, and neither does Polner, apparently — only the headline writer does. Let’s leave the Swift-boating to the Republicans.

Update (9:28pm): Victory! At some point today they changed the headline to “What an anti-Giuliani ad should say” (thanks to Paul in the comments for the heads-up).

Update (10:29pm): Here’s Mark Schone’s explanation from the comments on Salon:

I edited this piece and wrote the original headline. My intent in using the phrase “Swift-boat” in the headline was to underline the writer’s point about aiming an attack straight at what is thought to be Giuliani’s strength. That is what the GOP did to Kerry in 2004. Kerry was put on the defensive about the very portion of his resume that was thought to make him the most electable Democrat. As the piece points out, the difference between what was said about Kerry then and what could be said about Giuliani in 2008 is that there would be no need to distort Giuliani’s record in order to attack his strength. But I take seriously the comments of those who think that “Swift-boating” necessarily entails lying and distortion, so I’ve changed the headline.

March 12, 2007

Environmental Happy Hours in DC


As of last month, there are two monthly happy hours in DC for people interested in environmental issues, and both are happening this week.

The Sierra Club happy hour is on the second Monday of each month at different locations. Tonight, March 12, it’s in Adams Morgan at the Reef (2446 18th St NW), in the street-level bar, 5:30–7:30pm. It’s an opportunity to socialize with local environmental activists, hikers, and Sierra Club members, and this time there’s a presentation as well:

Representatives from the Sierra Club Inner City Outings (ICO) will be available to answer questions about the program. ICO provides wilderness adventures for people who wouldn’t otherwise have them, including low-income youth of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, hearing or visually impaired individuals, and the physically disabled. ICO promotes personal development by linking cultures, fostering respect of self and others and providing leadership skills.

For more information, see the DC Sierra Club site or e-mail Chasta Piatakovas at cpiatakovas{at}netzero.com.

The newer happy hour is Green Drinks, which meets on the second Tuesday of the month (March 13 this time), 6–8:30pm, at Local 16 (1602 U St NW):

GOAL: To bring together all who share a passion for the environment, sustainable/green living, energy efficiency and green power, green transportation, green product-sourcing, environmental legislation and advocacy, LEED architecture, and, well, you get the picture.

PRODUCT: The creation of a green community network, a sense of place, and connections with like minded people.

WHAT: These events will be very simple, unstructured and mostly FUN! We’ll meet monthly, same time and place.

For more information, contact Tina Schneider at indigoblue2{at}verizon.net.


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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