the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

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.

February 28, 2007

Cheney Goes Further Off His Rocker


Dan Froomkin highlights the latest pointlessly deranged bullying from the Vice President for Torture:

After nine days of almost completely ignoring the small pool of reporters who diligently followed him around through seven countries, Vice President Cheney yesterday finally agreed to a short group interview. But only on one condition: The reporters would have to agree not to tell anyone that the person they talked to was him.

Cheney’s insistence on being identified as a “senior administration official” — even when the transcript shows he spoke in the first person — is in some ways laughably trivial.

But in other ways, the vice president’s decision to extort reporters into a ridiculous agreement reflects the contempt Cheney has for the press corps.

Ridiculous is right. Look at this paragraph from the White House transcript of the “Interview of a Senior Administration Official by the Traveling Press Aboard Air Force Two En Route Muscat, Oman”:

Let me just make one editorial comment here. I’ve seen some press reporting says, “Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.” That’s not the way I work. I don’t know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn’t know what I’m doing, or isn’t involved in it. But the idea that I’d go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.

What is going through Cheney’s head when he does something like that? He makes it obvious that he’s the one speaking, but still forces the press to agree not to say so. I know he’s obsessed with secrecy (and prefers to avoid telling the truth whenever possible), but isn’t that a little insane even for him?

February 27, 2007

Eric Boehlert on the Washington Post



The Post’s soft spot for conservative media players is well-known. Last year the paper lovingly profiled Fox News’ openly partisan anchor Brit Hume and announced, “He speaks deliberately, unhurriedly, making his points with logic rather than passion.” And in 2005 the paper equated factually challenged talker Rush Limbaugh with award-winning late-night satirist Jon Stewart.

But I think it’s time to acknowledge what has blossomed into one of the Beltway’s most dysfunctional media liaisons: the love-hate relationship between The Washington Post and right-wing bloggers. The Post loves the bloggers, but the bloggers hate the Post.


The one lengthy Post feature of a liberal blogger that I can find from the last 24 months was a page-one piece from April 2006 when the Post shadowed lesser-known blogger Maryscott O’Connor, who writes at My Left Wing. The Post portrayed O’Connor as a Bush-hating lunatic. Key phrases from the article: “angry,” “rage,” “fury,” “angriest,” “outrage,” “crude,” “loud,” “crass,” “inflammatory,” “attack.”

I’ve noticed the same thing about the Post. I’ve noticed the same thing in such denizens of the left as PBS. There is a tendency inside the beltway to be very critical of the left blogosphere (listen up Mark Shields and Nina Totenberg) but are deferential towards fairly extreme bloggers like Malkin.

Why is that? I’ve written to both the Post and WETA about this, and as far as I can get, they feel that Malkin, Jonah Goldberg, other writers at NRO, etc., represent a point of view that has sympatico with part of their readership or viewing audience, and therefore must be respected.

You’d think, though, that these highly visible media platforms would want to get both sides of the argument. Why the Washington Post (and, for that matter WETA) has been uniformly critical of the left blogosphere, and reasonably supportive of the right hasn’t been explained.

February 12, 2007

Marcy Wheeler this Thursday, Feb 15


On Thursday, February 15, 6:30–9pm, the DC Chapter of Drinking Liberally is proud to host a book signing for Marcy Wheeler’s Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy at Timberlake’s, 1726 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont Circle Metro), (202) 483-2266.

Happy Hour starts at 6:30 with $1 off all drinks. Free appetizers and drink discounts until 9pm.

At 7:30 Ms Wheeler will discuss her book with Q&A to follow.

Book sales handled by Olsson’s-Dupont Circle

February 11, 2007

Has Cheney’s Job Been Outsourced to Australia?


Via TPM, I see that we’ve found someone on the other side of the world willing to do Dick Cheney’s job, or at least the part of it that involves smearing Democrats as friends of terrorists. Australian prime minister John Howard is attacking Barack Obama and the Democratic Party:

The man who wants to be the first black US president has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008, a timetable Mr Howard believes is dangerous.

“I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory,” Mr Howard told the Nine Network.

“If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”

Looking into it, however, I see that because of the weakness of the US dollar, the Australian prime minister’s salary is actually a bit higher than the US vice president’s (around $240,000 versus $200,000). Plus we still seem to be paying Cheney. So whoever’s handling this outsourcing doesn’t seem to be doing it very well. No doubt Halliburton is involved.

February 6, 2007

Learn about Plamegate: Hear Murray Waas this Thursday, Feb. 8


Murray Waas, one of the country’s top investigative reporters, and the leading reporter on the ever-unfolding Plamegate scandal for such publications as the National Journal, will talk at this Thursday’s DCDL meeting (Feb. 8) on the Scooter Libby trial and other abuses of government — and media — power. His blog links to his prescient coverage on this scandal along with the latest, most thoughtful coverage of the trial by other reporters and bloggers. You can also catch up on some of Waas’s accomplishments at this Wikipedia site, including a link to Jay Rosen’s article in PressThink: “Murray Waas is our Woodward Now.”

For those seeking some of the most thorough coverage of the trial, also check out the live blogging at Firedoglake. And check back later each day or early evening for their video summary of the day’s events — with more attention to details than you’ll get on the network TV news.

Update: Slate does a good recap of the grand-jury tapes featuring Fitzgerald grilling Libby aired Tuesday at the trial; compare those with the excerpts of then-secret grand jury testimony Waas featured in a mid-January preview piece about the trial: “CIA Leak Probe: Inside the Grand Jury.” Waas, once again, scooped the rest of the national media. You don’t want to miss him give his views on the trial at this Thursday’s Drinking Liberally meeting.

Update II: After the presentation by Waas and his guest “Swopa,” Thursday night, you may want to check out the archived video recaps of the Libby trial featuring Swopa of Firedoglake and www.needlenose.com presented at politicstv.com . All of The Nation’s David Corn’s daily postings and analysis of the trial can be read at his Capital Games site. He is the co-author of Hubris, the most thoroughly reported book on how government insiders sold the fraudulent case for war.

Thursday, February 8
6:30pm (speaker starts at 7:30)
Timberlake’s, 1726 Connecticut Ave NW
(north of Dupont Circle)

To keep up to date on DCDL events, subscribe to our e-mail announcement list.

February 1, 2007

DNC Happy Hour Friday


DC Drinking Liberally (Dupont Circle and Capitol Hill) is teaming up with folks from the Democratic National Committee and the New Organizing Institute to host a happy hour for people attending the DNC winter meeting this weekend.

DNC members, bloggers, progressive organizers, grassroots/netroots activists, the Drinking Liberally crowd — all are welcome. The more the merrier. The fun starts at about 7 at Timberlake’s (1726 Connecticut Ave NW, north of Dupont Circle) and will run until at least 9.

January 31, 2007

Alexandria Drinking Liberally Moves to Arlington


Our just-inside-the-Beltway friends at Alexandria Drinking Liberally are moving a little farther inside, to Arlington. No word yet on a name change, but they may be considering “Northern Virginia Drinking Liberally” (though that could cause problems down the line if another NoVa chapter emerges).

The new location is Capitol City Brewing Company, 2700 S. Quincy St, in Shirlington. They’ll continue meeting on Thursday nights, like the Dupont Circle chapter. Subscribe to their e-mail list to keep up-to-date on their events.

By the way, there are currently three DL chapters in the slowly bluening state of Virginia. The others are in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.


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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