the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

March 3, 2006

Great Turnout Last Night


Thanks to everyone who came to Thursday Drinking Liberally last night! I believe it was the biggest turnout for a non-speaker night we’ve had since moving to Timberlake’s. Some people were in town for training for online organizers by the New Organizing Institute, and at least one was in DC for a Democrats Abroad meeting. Places represented include Kansas, Texas, California, and Ireland (a guy who’s in the process of starting Dublin Drinking Liberally, which we’ll have to organize a group trip to visit).

The locals attending included people from a new PAC called Blue Catapult that has a launch party in Adams Morgan next Wednesday that sounds like a fun way to support a good cause. And there were various unaffiliated people stopping by to see what Drinking Liberally is all about — I hope they enjoyed it and will come back soon.

If you’re reading this and live in the DC area, subscribe to our announcement list so you’ll hear about our events.

March 2, 2006

How to Clean Up Corruption — This Week’s Speaker


This week’s speaker, Craig Holman, is Public Citizen’s Congress Watch legislative representative and an expert on Congressional ethics. Senate committees are starting to mark up weak reform legislation last week and vote on the bill this week, but there’s still a chance to influence our legislators (if you don’t live in the District) to get a stronger bill or learn how you can become a clean government activist. I wrote about it at Huffington Post. This week the Senate will vote on whether to have an independent public integrity office. Unfortunately, they’re more interested in the fig-leaf of upgraded disclosure than real reform. Here’s the latest on what the Senate did last week week, from Public Citizen’s Joan Claybrook:

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee significantly improved a lobbying disclosure and reform bill today by adding a requirement that major lobbyists disclose the money they spend on grassroots lobbying. But the committee took a giant step backward — crippling the reform effort — by rejecting an independent Office of Public Integrity.

Overall, this measure is insufficient because it focuses on disclosing corruption, rather than deterring it. That’s like tallying the number of people killed in highway crashes instead of making safer vehicles.

The independent Office of Public Integrity is so crucial because it would conduct investigations and make recommendations to the Senate and House ethics committees free of political pressures. It would also regulate compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which has been subject to little oversight. The ethics committees operate in complete secrecy, so the public has no knowledge of what they do. No decisions were announced by the House or Senate ethics committees in 2005. The executive branch does not self-regulate; rather, it has both independent inspector generals in each agency and an Office of Public Integrity, located in the Justice Department and covering all federal employees. An independent office for Congress must be created.

Learn more next week when Craig Holman speaks.

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.)


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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