the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 27, 2005

Somerby Savages Marshall


Maybe Bob Somerby just finds it hard to dig up real errors by the left when he’s looking for balance. Maybe he’s jealous of Democratic bloggers and lashes out from time to time with criticisms based on ludicrously hyperliteral interpretations of sentences. Who knows? In any case, yesterday Somerby devoted most of his Daily Howler to a long rant about Josh Marshall and what he’s written in Talking Points Memo about Rep. Pat Roberts.

The statement from Marshall that sets him off is this: “On CNN today, Sen. Roberts (R) said Valerie Plame couldn’t be covert since she was working at CIA headquarters at the time her identity was exposed.” Somerby claims that is “baldly inaccurate” and “flat-out wrong”. He then quotes what Roberts actually said (emphasis is Somerby’s):

BLITZER: I ask the question because some are suggesting she really wasn’t under cover any more. She had been working at the CIA in nonproliferation. She really wasn’t a technical—

ROBERTS: There’s a five-year period, OK? And whether or not that five-year period had been reached or not is still questionable. And I must say, from a common sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the CIA headquarters, I don’t know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert.

What is Roberts saying there? Is Marshall’s summary really unfair? Somerby says that Roberts is “plainly” only saying he doesn’t know. Try to believe that Somerby is actually so ignorant of how people use the English language to communicate.

I must say, I don’t know if Somerby really qualifies as being, you know, competent.

Bill Harlow, Watch Your Back


Today’s Washington Post has yet more confirmation that Valerie Plame was covert, this time from former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, who warned Bob Novak not to identify her:

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson’s wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak’s call, he checked Plame’s status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame’s name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified information.

But what does Harlow know? Surely not as much as a bunch of right-wing pundits and bloggers who have wide experience with Tom Clancy novels. In any case, we can expect to hear in the coming days about how Harlow is a partisan Democrat, voted for Gore and Kerry, was plotting against the White House from his CIA office, and certainly doesn’t have the credibility of upstanding citizens like Rove and Novak.


July 26, 2005

The DLC Rises Again


When Howard Dean became DNC chair, some of us hoped that the Democratic Leadership Council — which he famously called “the Republican wing of the Democratic Party” — would lose influence, allowing the party to embrace the values of its base rather than chasing the elusive center by embracing the values of the Republicans. Well, the DLC is back in the news, with a big boost from Hillary Clinton.

Conservatives throughout the blogosphere are linking to this Los Angeles Times article and ranting about how Hillary is changing her spots — apparently they’re under the impression that she’s really Dennis Kucinich or maybe Noam Chomsky. I first saw the article mentioned by Charles Bird at Obsidian Wings, who uses it as an opportunity to reinforce the talking point that Democrats are “the Party of No”.


July 25, 2005

A Small Sign of Spine


Today John Kerry and 25 other Democrats in the Senate formally requested a congressional investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity (read the letter). Now you may remember that there are 44 Democratic senators, so let’s see who signed and who didn’t:

Signed Didn’t Sign
Bayh (IN)
Boxer (CA)
Carper (DE)
Clinton (NY)
Corzine (NJ)
Dorgan (ND)
Durbin (IL)
Feinstein (CA)
Harkin (IA)
Inouye (HI)
Johnson (SD)
Kerry (MA)
Kohl (WI)
Landrieu (LA)
Lautenberg (NJ)
Levin (MI)
Mikulski (MD)
Murray (WA)
Obama (IL)
Reed (RI)
Rockefeller (WV)
Salazar (CO)
Sarbanes (MD)
Schumer (NY)
Stabenow (MI)
Wyden (OR)
Akaka (HI)
Baucus (MT)
Biden (DE)
Bingaman (NM)
Byrd (WV)
Cantwell (WA)
Conrad (ND)
Dayton (MN)
Dodd (CT)
Feingold (WI)
Kennedy (MA)
Leahy (VT)
Lieberman (CT)
Lincoln (AR)
Nelson (FL)
Nelson (NE)
Pryor (AR)
Reid (NV)

Surprising signers include Mary Landrieu and Ken Salazar, who were two of the six Democrats who voted for Alberto Gonzales as attorney general (the other four are in the “Didn’t Sign” column above). Surprising nonsigners include Kennedy and Reid — perhaps they missed a memo? Joe Biden failed to redeem himself from Friday’s embarrassing performance, and Joe Lieberman is where we all expect him to be.

Along with the request, Democrats revealed a leak clock and a Harper’s Index–style listing of facts about the Plame leak.

Meanwhile, Republicans had their own response to the Plame scandal. We’ve been waiting for the attack on the prosecutor. Well, it looks like it’s started, led by one of the White House’s congressional henchmen, Rep. Pat Roberts of Kansas:

[Roberts] intends to preside over hearings on the intelligence community’s use of covert protections for CIA agents and others involved in secret activities.

The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could hold hearings on the use of espionage cover soon after the U.S. Congress returns from its August recess, said Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little.

Little said the Senate committee would also review the probe of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years.

Josh Marshall has more — and more (update: and still more).

What’s The Matter With Book Discussions


Over at the TPM Cafe Book Club, Thomas Frank is discussing his bestseller What’s the Matter With Kansas.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, and he’s got a sharp yet laid-back wit. Here he reflects on a book reading in Kansas:

How has the book been received in Kansas? Well, at first there was a great deal of hostility from the local media, arising, I suspect, from a lot of bad impulses. My favorite example of this: I was in Wichita in May 2005 to speak at a bookstore, and a TV crew wanted to do an interview before I got started. First question: Are you “afraid” to be in Wichita? I laughed. Second question: Why did I “flee” the Midwest? I wrote the book while living in Chicago, I pointed out. Third question: Why was I doing only one reading in the state of Kansas? This was my tenth, as a matter of fact. You can easily decipher the journalistic narrative that they were plugging into here: Blue-state, east-coast, glasses-wearing elitist makes fun of the honest, God-fearing people of the heartland. Good thing they didn’t catch me swigging a latte or something.

Hopefully, we’ll get him as a guest speaker at Drinking Liberally at some point. During our own book discussion would have been nice, but what can you do. Speaking of which, any thoughts on a future book discussion?

July 23, 2005

The New Face of the Republican Party


Above you see a whole new brand of Republican: the Club Gitmo Republicans. They proudly sport t-shirts that openly celebrate the abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. More here.

The concept of Club Gitmo originated with Mr. Dittocontin himself, Rush Limbaugh. Dittohead Neil Boortz explains, or if you prefer, spews:

Milquetoast Democrats Strike Again


Bush’s approval ratings are lower than they have ever been, but congressional Democrats just can’t seem to absorb that fact. What are they waiting for?

Think Progress tells the sorry story of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting that was supposed to “grill” Bush crony Karen Hughes. Only two Republicans and no Democrats bothered to show up, though Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat, did sent a letter praising Hughes for her “energy and creativity”. Read the Think Progress post for a list of questions the Democrats should have been asking, about the Plame outing and other smears and propaganda. There’s also a followup post.

Biden certainly has a strange idea of how to build support for a possible presidential campaign. The Democrats on the committee who decided to give Hughes a free pass are

If you’re a resident of any of those states, please write your senator and ask why he or she decided to rubber-stamp Bush’s choice of Hughes rather than asking the questions that need to be asked.

Bush: Still Pro-Torture


Lots of Republicans still want to believe that abuse of prisoners by US personnel at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere has been the work of a few rogue guards and not a direct result of administration policies. Now they’ll have to contort their minds a little further to reconcile that belief with Bush’s talk and actions.

Senator John McCain and other Republicans (including John Warner and Lindsey Graham) are working on legislation to prevent prisoner abuse, but Bush is threatening to veto the defense appropriations bill if their legislation is included. (Bush, by the way, has never felt the need to veto a bill in his four and half years as president.) At the same time, the Defense Department is defying a court order demanding the release of photos and videotapes from Abu Ghraib.

See Hilzoy’s post at Obsidian Wings, titled “Unbelievable”, for more on Bush’s fervent opposition to ending torture.

July 22, 2005

Got Accountability?


I wanted to follow up on a conversation from last night’s Drinking Liberally happy “hour.” We were talking about Republican strategies and Democratic strategies for dealing with the situation in Iraq.

I brought up Rumsfeld’s track record on accountability vis a vis this recent story (Boston Globe):

The Bush administration yesterday came under more pressure to outline the number of American forces that may need to stay in Iraq over the next two years after the Pentagon failed to meet a 60-day deadline set by Congress to provide a detailed plan for training Iraqis and for likely US troop levels.

The report to Congress, due yesterday, was required under the $80 billion war spending legislation approved in May. It is intended to help answer one of the most pressing questions hanging over the American-led occupation: when the United States might be able to begin drawing down the estimated 140,000 forces in Iraq.

The White House and Pentagon are facing rising calls from Democrats and Republicans for a more detailed strategy in Iraq — calls that grew louder yesterday.

Rumsfeld missed the date to have a plan, and didn’t suggest a new date. Meanwhile, Bush is pushing the envelope of compassionate conservatism; he cares so much for his employees that he doesn’t want them to over-exert themselves over things like planning. Schedule? What’s a schedule?

I also like this bit at the end of the article:

The Army, meanwhile, also delayed the scheduled release of a study about the impact of the extended deployment, which officials said raises new questions about its ability to respond to other trouble spots around the world. Top generals needed more time to review the RAND Corporation findings before making them public. ‘’There is nothing to hide,” said a senior Army officer who asked not to be named. ‘’We wanted a chance to absorb it.”

What does your absorption have to do with timely public disclosure? When are you going to release the report? Hello? Anybody home?

Running for Change Kickoff Party Saturday


I hope you’ve kept your social schedule clear for Saturday night. Tomorrow DCDL and our friends at DC for Democracy are sponsoring a kickoff party in Adams Morgan for Running for Change, the political running club formerly known as Run Against Bush. RFC will be unveiling its new T-shirt and new campaign, and there’ll be a cash bar and door prizes. The fun starts at 7pm, July 23, at the (aptly named) Blue Room, 2321 18th St NW. Special guest Adam Shah, counsel to the Judicial Selection Project at the Alliance for Justice, will have a few words to say about the Supreme Court nomination fight. Even if, like me, you’re not a runner, come out and support your fellow liberals as they launch this new campaign.

See you there!


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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