the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

October 10, 2007

DC for Democracy’s Instant-Runoff-Based Endorsement Vote


[I wrote this for the DC for Democracy site but thought I’d post it here too for other people who might be interested in the endorsement method as well as the levels of support of various candidates among one segment of the progressive grassroots in DC (plus I haven’t posted anything here for a while).]

On October 3, DC for Democracy endorsed Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary. It was the first time the group used a new procedure based on instant-runoff voting (IRV) that they adopted last month. Since both DC4D members and outsiders may be interested in seeing exactly how the result was arrived at, as well as how much support various candidates had, I thought I’d go through the details.

The bottom line is that Obama got 53 percent of the first-choice votes plus another 16 percent from second-choice votes, for a total of 69 percent support (which exceeds the two thirds required for endorsement), and Edwards came in second, with 49 percent support (split evenly between first-choice and second-choice votes). See below for colorful charts and perhaps more than you want to know about the vote.


October 9, 2007

Tom Schaller at DCDL


On Thursday, Oct 25, the DC Chapter of Drinking Liberally is pleased to host Tom Schaller, author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, and co-author of Devolution and Black State Legislators: Challenges and Choices in the Twenty-First Century.

We’ll be in our usual spot in the back room of Timberlake’s, 1726 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont Circle Metro). Just for this evening, we’ll have a slight adjustment in our usual speaker night schedule:

6:30-8 Happy Hour.
8- 8:45 Talk, Q&A.
8:45-? People hang out.

To whet your appetite, here’s a recent Paul Krugman column quoting Prof. Schaller: (NYT)

And yes, Southern white exceptionalism is about race, much more than it is about moral values, religion, support for the military or other explanations sometimes offered. There’s a large statistical literature on the subject, whose conclusion is summed up by the political scientist Thomas F. Schaller in his book ‘’Whistling Past Dixie'’: ‘’Despite the best efforts of Republican spinmeisters to depict American conservatism as a nonracial phenomenon, the partisan impact of racial attitudes in the South is stronger today than in the past.'’

Republican politicians, who understand quite well that the G.O.P.’s national success since the 1970s owes everything to the partisan switch of Southern whites, have tacitly acknowledged this reality. Since the days of Gerald Ford, just about every Republican presidential campaign has included some symbolic gesture of approval for good old-fashioned racism.

More on Tom Schaller:

October 5, 2007

DC4D Endorses Obama


In case you didn’t hear it from Keith or Kim Thursday evening, DC for Democracy endorsed Barack Obama at its October meetup on Wednesday. We weren’t sure at all that we would endorse anyone, but Obama just broke the threshold. John Edwards came in second with about half as many votes. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson received a smattering of votes as well. Mike Gravel got a single second choice vote. Chris Dodd had a bad night. I didn’t vote for him myself, of course, but he is a good guy, and deserves more attention than he’s been getting.

Using a modified form of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) which allowed members to vote for up to 2 candidates (first choice and second choice) , Obama won 69% of the vote Wednesday. (Members also had the option of voting for No Endorsement.) Looking at first choice votes cast, Barack Obama received more than twice as many votes as the next candidate.

Before making our endorsement this year, DC for Democracy sent a questionnaire to all of the 8 major Democratic candidates. Responses received were then compiled with independent research on each of them, culminating in DC for Democracy’s first-ever Candidate Endorsement Guide (available in a series of issue-specific pdf files).

Now that we’ve endorsed, DC for Democracy will be working with DC for Obama (which succeeded in outraising all of the other Obama groups across the country this past quarter). Following some local canvassing later this month, we will be taking our operation to Las Vegas, Nevada in November for the Veterans Day holiday. (Nevada has the second primary in the country this year on January 19.)


Ombudsman, DC for Democracy

October 2, 2007

Anti-War-Pro-War-Anti-War Dems


Iraq is likely to remain a defining issue of the presidential race, given the waste of lives, resources and national security brought by Bush’s war. While all the Democratic candidates believe Bush’s current strategy is mistaken and that we must at least begin to bring our troops home, there are some significant differences between them. There is a serious debate about who has the best plan going forward, but for right now let’s look at the candidates on the issue of the invasion itself.

It’s worth recalling some history from the 2004 presidential campaign. Bush and his operatives worked hard to develop the myth that Kerry had supported Bush’s decision to invade — and Kerry’s lack of clarity on the topic of Iraq didn’t help.

It’s a fair bet that we will see some of this again (depending on the candidate, of course), and we should be ready.

When it comes to Iraq, candidates should not be judged on a single vote or a single timely statement. The continuum of views includes at least the following options:
1. Supported the invasion all along
2. Supported the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq (AUMF) and then invasion “after diplomacy failed”
3. Supported the AUMF but opposed invasion
4. Opposed both the AUMF and the invasion

So who falls into which category? Well, first of all, none of our candidates fall under #1 — I don’t think. A number of Dems who were willing to support the AUMF but never bought into the idea of invasion fall under #3, such as Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. Straightforward opponents of Bush’s entire foreign policy toward Saddam Hussein fall under #4.

And #2 — this is for those who supported the AUMF but almost certainly opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2002, but then somehow changed their minds in January, February or March 2003. I still remember Bush’s response to reporters who asked about ongoing weapons inspections in those final months, the lack of evidence of WMDs, whether that would influence his decision: “I’m sick of playing games!,” he barked back angrily. But anyway…. The candidates who fall under #2 today include proponents of a slower troop drawdown alongside proponents of a full, rapid withdrawal. All these candidates fall into a single category: They are the Anti-War-Pro-War-Anti-War Dems.

The AUMF was passed on October 10-11, 2002.
The invasion began on March 19-20, 2003.

So, that’s it. Here are the candidates, in their own words and votes (contradictory statements over time in bold):

10/10/02: Supported AUMF (passed 77-23)
10/10/02: Opposed Durbin Amendment requiring finding of “an imminent threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction'’ (failed 30-70)
10/10/02: Opposed Levin Amendment requiring explicit UN Security Council or Congressional authorization for military force against Iraq (failed 24-75)


I will vote for [the AUMF] because we should be compelling Iraq to make good on its obligations to the United Nations. Because while Iraq’s illegal weapons of mass destruction program do not—do not—pose an imminent threat to our national security, in my view, they will, if left unfettered. And because a strong vote in Congress, as I said, increases the prospect for a tough, new U.N. resolution on weapons of mass destruction, it is likely to get weapons inspectors in, which, in turn, decreases the prospects of war, in my view. (Floor statement)


So what should we do? … The option I would choose in this circumstance, even if we do not get world support, is to act. … [I]f Saddam does not give up those weapons of mass destruction and the Security Council does not call for the use of force, I think we have little option but to act with a larger group of willing nations, if possible, and alone if we must. (Floor statement)

Biden later explained:

Those of us who understand the value of international institutions and rules must also understand that when rules and institutions are flouted, they must be defended, and by force if necessary. That was, in my view, the underlying rationale to go to war in Iraq…. (Floor statement)


My colleagues will remember that, at the time, we voted to give the President a strong hand to play at the U.N. to get the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: let the inspectors back in and disarm or be disarmed. We thought that would make war less likely. But in the 5 months between our vote and the invasion of Iraq, the ideologues took over. The President went to war unnecessarily, without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work, without a real coalition, without enough troops, without the right equipment, and without a plan to secure the peace. (Floor statement)

10/10/02: Supported AUMF (passed 77-23)
10/10/02: Opposed Durbin Amendment requiring finding of “an imminent threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction'’ (failed 30-70)
10/10/02: Opposed Levin Amendment requiring explicit UN Security Council or Congressional authorization for military force against Iraq (failed 24-75)


In the 4 years since the inspectors, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members…. If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. … So Mr. President, for all its appeal, a unilateral attack, while it cannot be ruled out, on the present facts is not a good option. (Floor statement)


There is a very easy way to prevent anyone from being put into harm’s way, and that is for Saddam Hussein to disarm. And I have absolutely no belief that he will. (Address to Code Pink delegation. Full YouTube video available here.)

10/10/02: Supported AUMF (passed 77-23)
10/10/02: Supported Durbin Amendment requiring finding of “an imminent threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction'’ (failed 30-70)
10/10/02: Opposed Levin Amendment requiring explicit UN Security Council or Congressional authorization for military force against Iraq (failed 24-75)


If the President is going to order American men and women into battle he has to make a compelling case as to why all the other options have been exhausted and why the threat is so compelling that the US must act without the support of our key allies. (Floor statement)


I have never doubted for one moment that Saddam Hussein has chemical and biological weapons and has sought to acquire nuclear weapons. For me the issue has always been how best to address that threat. I don’t really believe that the Secretary [(Colin Powell)] addressed that question during his remarks. Seemingly, the Bush Administration has decided that the only way to do so is to invade Iraq, regardless of the potential consequences of such a decision. (Floor statement)


This morning U.N. Weapons Inspections chief, Mr. [Hans] Blix… reported that the inspections are making progress, that today inspectors are getting a lot more done than they did in the 1990s. We should listen to Mr. Blix and give his remarks serious consideration as we decide the next steps. (Floor statement)

10/10/02: Cosponsored AUMF (passed 77-23)
10/10/02: Opposed Durbin Amendment requiring finding of “an imminent threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction'’ (failed 30-70)
10/10/02: Opposed Levin Amendment requiring explicit UN Security Council or Congressional authorization for military force against Iraq (failed 24-75)


I believe that the risks of inaction are far greater than the risks of action. Saddam Hussein’s regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. … After 11 years of watching Hussein play shell-games with his weapons programs, there is little reason to believe he has any intention to comply with an even tougher resolution. (Floor statement)

2003 (pre-invasion):

This man has to be disarmed. If he doesn’t do something to start disarming, then yes, we have to disarm him, and we should be willing to do so militarily. (Chris Matthews College Hardball Tour, Central University, North Carolina. Video footage available here)

No definitive public statements from 2002-2003, but little doubt that he vehemently opposed the invasion.

Opposed AUMF (passed House 296-133) (61% of House Democrats opposed the AUMF)

Little doubt about where Kucinich stood.


I don’t oppose war in all circumstances. When I look over this crowd today, I know there is no shortage of patriots or patriotism. What I do oppose is a dumb war. (Address to Chicago anti-war rally. Video footage available here — it really is, keep watching)


[O]nly one more deadline, only one more chance for Saddam Hussein is going to be allowable. So I think the administration is wise in pursuing this course that says OK, total disarmament in two weeks and that’s it. (Interview, CNN. Transcript available here)

Richardson later explained:

We can also win by sending another strong message, and that is that we are, as Democrats, capable in maintaining and defending our country. We have to be able to use force when diplomacy fails and when our national security is threatened. (Keynote address to 2003 Democratic Leadership Council conference — available here)

From the introduction by the DLC’s Will Marshall that day:

I should say that Governor Richardson embodies a Democratic tradition of muscular internationalism. … He backed a war to oust the Saddam regime. (Ibid)

Email from the Richardson campaign:

Just like before their reckless invasion of Iraq, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been rattling sabers about Iran’s nuclear program….

DC for Democracy will be holding its vote on endorsement this Wednesday, October 3. Having sent its own questionnaire to each of the 8 Democratic candidates, DC for Democracy members took the time to develop their own Candidate Endorsement Guide based on the candidates’ responses to our questionnaire and on whatever other information was available elsewhere. If you’re a DC4D member, we hope to see you Wednesday.

September 25, 2007

Art Levine on Unionbusting


DCDL’s journalist in residence, Art Levine, went undercover at a seminar for business owners wanting to learn how to fight union organizing among their employees and wrote an article about the experience for In These Times. See Art’s blog post for more, including his radio interview with Thom Hartmann on Air America Radio yesterday.

September 19, 2007

First Freedom First at DC Drinking Liberally


We hope you can join us on Thursday September 20, 6:30-9, as we host Eric Shutt, director of First Freedom First, in the back room of Timberlake’s (1726 Connecticut Ave NW, Dupont Circle Metro).

First Freedom First is a partnership of two organizations — The Interfaith Alliance Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Their mission is to protect our religious liberty and separation of church and state.

Phil Donahue had this to say about First Freedom First: “The Founders were right. Never let the pompously pious politicians pretend they have God (and you don’t). First Freedom volunteers are today’s patriots, the ground troops in the fight against those who would make America a theocratic nation of one religion: Theirs.”

The evening will start off with happy hour from 6:30-7:30 followed by Eric’s talk and Q&A, 7:30-8:15. We’ll be hanging until 9 or so.

More about Eric Shutt:

September 13, 2007

Two Democratic Events on the Hill Wednesday Night


Jim McBride of Arlington Young Democrats sent along this announcement:

AYD’s “Democrats Collide on Capitol Hill” Networking Night & Young Voter PAC’s Celebrity Bartender Fundraiser
(two young dem events on the hill in one night!)

#1 “Democrats Collide on Capitol Hill” Networking Night
6:00-9:30pm Wednesday, September 19th
Capitol Lounge, 229 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington, DC (Capitol South Metro)

Sponsored by the Arlington Young Democrats’ Capitol Area Progressive Ambassadors (CAPA), join young dems (and the young-at-heart) from VA, DC and MD for another happy hour to get local progressives to socialize, network and build relationships for helping us win back Virginia’s General Assembly in 2007 and America’s White House in 2008.

The purpose of CAPA, which launched in July 2007, is to develop new alliances as well as foster stronger relationships among like-minded organizations in the D.C. metro area to unite us together to further a progressive agenda. If you would like us to add your organization as a co-host and CAPA Member, please let us know.

Please invite your friends!

Contact: Sarah Godlewski, 715-379-2511, publicity{at}arlingtonyoungdems.org

RSVP Today!

#2 Celebrity Bartender Fundraiser
6:00pm - 8:00pm Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Top of the Hill Bar, 319 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, DC

Before you hit the networking night, come get a drink from one of our previously endorsed candidates and other Democratic leaders who support the youth vote. Buy your ticket today (young dems $50) at www.youngvoterpac.org.

Confirmed bartenders include:

  • Rep. Harry Mitchell, Everyone’s Favorite Teacher
  • Rep. George Miller, the College Affordability Crusader
  • Scott Kleeb, the Hot Rancher
  • Celinda Lake, the Goddess Pollster
  • John Aravosis, America’s Blogger
  • Anthony Daniels, the Chair of Future Educators

After the fundraiser we will head to the after-party at Capitol Lounge for the “Democrats Collide” event.

RSVP: jane{at}youngvoterpac.org

Update (17 Sep): The headline was wrong. The events are on Wednesday, September 19.

September 10, 2007

DIA on the Troop Surge


Yesterday the AP cited figures from the Defense Intelligence Agency re: the levels of insurgent attacks in 2007.

Here are the charts (**Note: The DIA bargraphs don’t include specific numbers, so these numbers are approximations**):

From the AP:

Slightly more than 3,300 attacks were recorded in January and 3,143 were reported in July, the DIA said.

From the AP:

There were 946 attacks against Iraqi security forces in January and 850 in July.

From the AP:

According to the DIA chart, there were 897 attacks against Iraqi civilians in January and 808 in July.

The defense intelligence chart makes the point, with figures from Petraeus’ command in Baghdad, the Multinational Force-Iraq. Congressional auditors [(i.e., the GAO)] used the same numbers to conclude that Iraqis are as unsafe now as they were six months ago; the Bush administration and military officials also using those figures say that finding is flawed.

Reality-based conclusion:

Insurgent attacks against Iraqi civilians, their security forces and U.S. troops remain high, according to the document obtained by The Associated Press.

September 6, 2007

Why Republicans Hate Hillary: If Only It Were True


I heard To the Point today and was struck by this bit (my transcription):

ANN STONE (national chair, Republicans for Choice): Bottom line: conservatives desperately, desperately want to make sure that Hillary Clinton is never president. In the end, they’re going to go with whoever can stop Hillary. Right now the polls show Giuliani is the first person. Thompson also has a shot. The others fall way below that.

JIM STERNGOLD (guest host): Let me ask you this. That is an interesting point, which I’ve heard, and you make it quite strongly, but why would the Republicans let their race be shaped by the other party?

STONE: Because Hillary Clinton, unlike a lot of the liberal demagogues, actually believes the stuff that she’s talking about. She’s actually going to push a very aggressive agenda and probably do more to shape this country for the next, you know, couple of decades way to the left. She would put everything behind it. She actually believes what she’s saying.

So Stone’s fears about Hillary Clinton are pretty much the opposite of mine. If I thought Clinton was really the most liberal of the Democratic presidential candidates, that she really believed in a liberal agenda, and that she wanted to aggressively reshape the country, I’d feel a lot better about her being the front runner. Instead I think she’s the worst of both worlds: a candidate who’s really not that liberal (and so won’t bring the change that’s needed if she wins) but is viewed by much of the electorate as being far too liberal (and so will have more trouble winning than she should).

August 31, 2007

Links From Thursday Night


We had a great turnout at DC Drinking Liberally last night, and I thought I’d post a few random links related to conversations I had 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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