the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

September 26, 2005

The Other Side


After marching Saturday, yesterday I went down to the Mall again to check out the prowar rally, which was organized by the same folks who brought you the “You Don’t Speak for Me, Cindy” caravan last month, including Move America Forward and Free Republic.

Not surprisingly the rally was somewhat whiter and maler than Saturday’s antiwar march. Also, it was a lot smaller. The smallest estimate in the media for the number participating in the antiwar march was 100,000. The largest estimate for the prowar rally was 400, and I think that’s about right — as long as you’re counting all the observers, curious tourists, and antiwar protesters who were gathered around too.

The speeches I heard included a mention of a letter of support for the rally from Senator Lieberman, a reference to participants in the antiwar march as “100,000 radicals” whose views don’t represent those of real Americans (that was from Senator Sessions, who was one of the speakers), and a call for the marchers to be shipped to Iran. I didn’t stay very long, and from StealthBadger’s report I apparently missed some excitement, though he’s pretty vague about it.

Photos follow.


September 24, 2005

Antiwar March Photos


AltHippo and I missed each other at today’s rally and march against the Iraq war, but I did get together with a bunch of people from DC for Democracy and other Democracy for America groups from across the country.

I took a few photos. The first is Cindy Sheehan being interviewed at Freedom Plaza before the rally. Click for larger versions.


September 23, 2005

DC for Democracy Happy Hour, Antiwar Rally


Our friends at DC for Democracy are having a happy hour tonight in preparation for tomorrow’s march and rally. Some of us from DCDL will be there too. Join us!

As many of you know, this weekend there will be a large anti-war rally here in D.C., which many members of DCfD — and Democracy for America — plan to attend. To help everyone connect at what will likely be a very large event, we have organized a happy hour for Friday night and a meeting point for Saturday morning. Details are below.

‘Social and Serious Drinking’ Happy Hour
Friday, September 23, 2005
7:00 p.m.
527 Eighth Street, SE (two blocks south of the Eastern Market Metro stop on the Blue and Orange lines)

Join DC for Democracy and Democracy for America members for an evening of “Social and Serious Drinking” prior to the anti-war rally at Marty’s on Barracks Row.

Meeting Place for DCFD & DFA Members Attending Anti-War Rally
Saturday, September 24, 2005
meet at 11:00 a.m., walk to rally 11:30 a.m.
Freedom Plaza (opposite the Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets, NW)

We hope to see you at these events!

And don’t forget about our efforts to elect progressives in Virginia for 2005. The single best way to get Congress to change its views on our issues is to let them know their jobs are at risk in 2006. A strong showing in 2005 will show them — and the media — that this is possible. Help set the narrative for 2006 by bringing in change in 2005.

Join the 2005 Virginia Action Team by signing up here!

August 28, 2005

Dissension in the Ranks of the Anti-Sheehan Army


You’ve probably heard about the “You Don’t Speak for Me, Cindy” caravan sponsored by Move America Forward, the fake grassroots “nonpartisan” pro-war group run by Republican PR firm Russo Marsh and Rogers. (MAF also worked with the Pentagon’s Office of Media Outreach on the “Truth Tour” that sent right-wing radio hosts to Iraq.) Not surprisingly, the group heading to Crawford to confront Cindy Sheehan and her camp contains some yahoos that don’t play well in the media, so there’s some effort to keep those people under wraps.

But some of the more unhinged members don’t want to maintain the mask of civility, and one Ken Robinson refused to back down when confronted about his sign by Kristinn Taylor of FreeRepublic.com. (You know things are out of control when the freepers are the ones enforcing civility.) When the disagreement became physical, Robinson was arrested.

Another faction of the pro-war demonstration, the Protest Warriors, specialize in parodying left-wing signs. Unfortunately for them, right-wingers aren’t known for appreciating subtle humor, and other protesters misunderstood which side they were on when they held up a sign reading “Say No to War!” with “unless a Democrat is president” in smaller type. Police had to be called in to rescue the Protest Warriors from their confused brethren. TBogg has the story.

August 19, 2005

“Freedom Walk”, “Truth Tour” Have Much in Common


When I first read this SpinWatch article describing the “Truth Tour” of Iraq I was skeptical. If correct, this would tie together right-wing radio personalities, a PR firm supporting right-wing causes, and an office of the Pentagon.

This office, the Office of Media Outreach, if it existed, would be acting as a propaganda arm of the Pentagon, a notion that was rejected when Secretary Rumsfeld had attempted to create an Office of Strategic Influence.

A search of the internet yielded no such office under the .gov domain, and was not contained in any DoD org chart. Yet, I was able to get in touch with Lynnette Ebberts, who confirmed that the Office of Media Outreach exists, and she was the director. There was no .gov website or any other internet presence for OMO , she explained in email, because the office had been created just after the November elections.

Yet, America Supports You, the Pentagon group organizing the September 11 “Freedom Walk” has an elaborate presence on the web. Like the Office of Media Outreach, America Supports You was created immediately following the November elections. The two groups have more than shared timing: They share staff as well. Ms. Ebberts, for example, is both the director of the OMO and a point of contact for America Supports You.

August 15, 2005

It’s All About Dubya


When asked about Cindy Sheehan in Crawford on Saturday, President Bush responded not that she should get past her grief and get on with her life (which would at least have recognized her feelings), but that he needs to get on with his life:

Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

“But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there’s somebody who has got something to say to the president, that’s part of the job,” Bush said on the ranch. “And I think it’s important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say.”

“But,” he added, “I think it’s also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.” […]

“I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy,” he said when asked about bike riding while a grieving mom wanted to speak with him. “And part of my being is to be outside exercising.”

(Via Atrios and Think Progress. And when searching Technorati for this story, I discovered that Princeton Drinking Liberally now has a blog and has posted about this.)

This self-absorption in the face of bereaved families reminded me of something Bush said at a press conference last year. It was April 13, 2004. The month was not yet over, but it was already on track to have the most US deaths of any month of the war to that point. Just four days earlier, 15 troops had been killed in a single day, and for more than a week the average had been far above the one or two a day that people had become (grimly) accustomed to. This is what he said about the period:

There’s no question it’s been a tough, tough series of weeks for the American people. It’s been really tough for the families. I understand that. It’s been tough on this administration.

He sympathized with the families who had lost members. He understood. After all, it had been tough for his administration too. To Bush, the political problems he was facing as people realized the war wasn’t going so well were comparable to the problems faced by those whose loved ones were being killed.

Has Bush’s completely sheltered life, from birth through the Oval Office bubble, left him incapable of comprehending that other people have feelings? That not everything is about him? It sure looks like it.

August 13, 2005

Chat Sours Post Columnist on Freedom Walk, but Management Still Claims It’s Nonpartisan


Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher had a Live Online chat Thursday, and the conversation turned to the Post’s sponsorship of the Pentagon’s “Freedom Walk” September 11 propaganda event (see AltHippo’s post). Fisher first responded like this:

Well, first of all, it’s the Washington Post as a corporate entity in this community that’s sponsoring the march, not the news operation. Second, I don’t see where this is a pro-administration rally. From the web site, it looks like a non-partisan expression of support for the troops and for the memory of those who died on 9/11.

I grant you that anytime our company sponsors events that are remotely controversial, it causes grief in the newsroom because it does indeed raise questions among readers about our neutrality and fairness. So if I were running things, I’d steer clear of any sponsorship of potentially divisive events. But in fairness, this seems to be more along the lines of a Veterans Day commemoration than a pro-war rally.


August 4, 2005

Pentagon Propaganda and Bad Headlines


Several times I’ve been on the verge of writing about this story, and now Jesse has nudged me over the edge by adding another wrinkle. On July 24, CNN reported evidence that the Pentagon is making up quotes for its news releases. Compare these passages from releases describing two separate attacks:

July 13 July 24
“The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the children and all of Iraq,” said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified. “They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists.” “The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the ISF and all of Iraq. They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists,” said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified.

The Pentagon claims the fake quotes resulted from “an administrative error”. On the Media ridiculed the story last weekend in its interview with Unidentified Iraqi.

The Washington Post, as far as I can tell, ignored the story until Tuesday’s edition, when it reported on a Pentagon memo about the quotes, and that’s where Jesse noticed it and called it to my attention as “a good example of bad news reporting”. More from Jesse:

Now, should this story have been called “Pentagon Rejects Use of Anonymous Quotes; Its News Releases Cited Nameless Iraqi”? — Or should it have been called “War Propaganda?; Pentagon Uses Same Iraq Quote 2 Different Weeks”. By essentially using the Pentagon’s press release as their story, the AP and the Washington Post are letting the Pentagon do preemptive damage control on a story few if any of us were aware of before (it’s also worth noting that the title of the article used in the Washington Post is probably not the original title used in the AP story, since papers routinely rename AP stories). Bottom line: the issue isn’t that the Pentagon used anonymous quotes — it’s that they fabricated anonymous quotes.

Jesse’s exactly right. I found that a slightly earlier version of the story on the Post’s site, but the headline, “Pentagon Says Anonymous Quote Use an Error”, also avoids mentioning the main point of the story. As Brad DeLong might say, why oh why can’t we have better newspapers?

June 19, 2005

Speaking Truth to Power


When I first saw the effort to “swiftboat” the Downing Street Memos (reported here by Washington Monthly), my first reaction was: it’s a shame that some folks feel they need to play games like this.

Thinking about this during the day I realized that this episode serves to illustrate a core Liberal belief: things like freedom of the press exist to speak truth to power. To hold the government accountable for their actions. To act as the balancing force between the ruling party, and the tendency for power to corrupt absolutely.

What Captain’s Quarters, NRO, etc., seem to be doing here is making clever, legalistic arguments to obfuscate the truth. What core belief does that illustrate? Trying to put myself in the shoes of the Bush supporters (like OJ’s glove, the shoes simply don’t fit), the best I can come up with is this: The right and the left are in an ideological war for political control. And, in war and love, all is fair game.

But isn’t this the same kind of moral relativism that the right accuses the left of? I’d be grateful if anyone can help sort this out.


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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