the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 23, 2005

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!

July 21, 2005

Supreme Court Disinformation


In covering the Roberts appointment, the press is mostly ignoring the fact that they spent a whole day telling us the nominee was Edith Clement because confidential sources in the White House were telling them she was. Finally Howard Kurtz is talking about the issue, but he avoids the point that Atrios and Kevin Drum make: What’s the purpose of protecting a source who’s lied to you? And how does that work, anyway? When the same source calls a journalist again, does the journalist just pretend not to notice that the information was bogus last time? Or does the administration have an infinite supply of disposable sources ready to call journalists?

The White House apparently views the media, and by extension the public they’re supposed to inform, as an enemy in a war. Therefore it feels justified in using disinformation against them, and us. That’s a dangerous situation for a democracy. And if the Bush administration is willing to lie to us about such a small thing, what else are they willing to lie about? That question has been asked many times before, of course, on topics from whether Dick Cheney had ever met John Edwards to whether aluminum tubes were weapons of mass destruction. The answer seems to be that they’re willing to lie about anything. Lying has zero cost, as far as they’re concerned, so as long as they think there’s any benefit at all, no matter how small, lying is their first instinct.

There are other shameful aspects of how Bush handled the announcement of Roberts. How does Judge Clement feel about being used as a decoy? It shows a serious lack of respect and consideration. Also, originally the announcement was supposed to be made in a week or two, but the schedule was suddenly rushed, presumably to knock the Rove-Plame story off the front pages. Once again, this administration puts politics above everything else.

July 19, 2005

Kaine Fundraiser Tomorrow with Obama


For those of you who haven’t yet noticed, there’s an election this year in Virginia, and we’d like the governor to remain a Democrat. Tim Kaine is the Democratic candidate, and there’s an affordable fundraiser (starting level $35) for him tomorrow with a special guest: new Senate superstar Barack Obama! I’m afraid you will have to venture outside the District, but it’s on the Orange Line:

Clarendon Ballroom
3185 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington (Clarendon Metro)
Wednesday, July 20, 2005, 7:30–9:30pm
More info

(via Kathy at My Own Backyard)

Edward Lazarus at P&P


From the Politics&Prose web site:

Sunday, July 24, 5 p.m.
(Penguin, $18)
Lazarus, who clerked with Justice Blackmun, has updated his 1998 account of the inner workings of the Supreme Court. Lazarus writes about how differing judicial philosophies may affect current discussions about the appointment of justices.

This, of course, was not just another book on the Supreme Court. It’s a rare insider account, and very controversial among Supreme Court scholars. That he clerked for Blackmun, who was the author of landmark decisions on abortion and the death penalty, should make this a really action-packed afternoon.

For those of you who might have assumed that P&P book talks are quiet, tea-sipping events… umh, no.

Dupont Circle to Go WiFi


From the Washington Post:

District-based TechAssist LLC will provide free wireless Internet access in Dupont Circle starting Friday, the information technology consulting firm said yesterday.

The wireless access will work inside the area and may work on surrounding blocks, said Nick Vossburg, president of TechAssist.

Ladies and gentlebloggers, start your laptops.

George W. Bush, Champion of Workers’ Rights


Monday Bush modified his position on whether to fire those involved in exposing Valerie Plame:

Q Mr. President, you said you don’t want to talk about an ongoing investigation, so I’d like to ask you, regardless of whether a crime was committed, do you still intend to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case? And are you displeased that Karl Rove told a reporter that Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the Agency on WMD issues?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We have a serious ongoing investigation here. (Laughter.) And it’s being played out in the press. And I think it’s best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. And I will do so, as well. I don’t know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who’s spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.

It seems Bush is now embracing the idea that it’s wrong to fire someone unless they’ve been convicted of illegal activity. That’s far stronger job protection that any labor union has ever asked for. Do you think we’ve been wrong about Bush’s attitude toward workers all along? Or maybe it’s just that it’s okay if you’re a Republican.

July 18, 2005

Fame and Fortune Are Ours!


Today dcdl.org was mentioned in The Examiner. Okay, it’s a free paper, and maybe it’s not exactly liberal, but we take what we can get. As it turns out, the mention was in an editorial, “Scott McClinton”, that reproduced (badly) the table of repeated phrases from my “Analyzing the ScottBot” post of last week. Notice how they cleverly insert a jab at Clinton into their criticism of Bush — actually I guess it’s really just criticism of Scott McClellan. Still, it’s nice to be appreciated.

Speaking of fame and this blog, you may have noticed that we could use another blogger or two here. If you’re a semiregular (or at least an occasional) at DCDL gatherings and you’d like to contribute to the blog, leave a comment here, e-mail me (keith@dcdl.org), or find one of us at Timberlake’s Thursday.

July 17, 2005

Creationism, Science, and Doublethink


This weekend, I finished 1984 (mentioned in my previous post). I also caught up on reading Slacktivist. I go there most weekends to read Fred Clark’s obsessive but entertaining and often enlightening series of posts on Left Behind, which are now a weekly phenomenon, and to see what else he’s got to say as a member of the religious left (and what his commenters have to add).

This time Fred had four posts about creationism (one, two, three, four), starting with one about his middle-school science teacher, Mr. Caruthers. Like many of Fred’s posts, it includes a reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It also includes this passage about Mr Caruthers’ ability to believe in young-earth creationism and science simultaneously:

At root, there’s a deliriously strange, pot-think aspect to this view. It suggests a radical, unbridgeable, gap between perception and reality. But Mr. C. wasn’t worried about such philosophical matters. And so, even as he taught us that the world was not as it appears to be, he also taught us the science of the world we can see. As long as you don’t think too hard, apparent-age creationism allows you to pursue legitimate science, to experiment and theorize about the world as it appears to be.

Shortly after reading that, I came across this passage in 1984, in which O’Brien is explaining that the universe is no older than humans are:

“What are the stars?” said O’Brien indifferently. “They are bits of fire a few kilometers away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the center of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.” […]

“For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometers away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?”

The Party in Oceania is hostile to religion, but it seems they have something in common with some proponents of “creation science” or “intelligent design”.

I had been planning to post about another passage in 1984 and its similarity to the dismissive comments about the “reality-based community” by the Bush aide quoted by Ron Suskind, but Rob Goodspeed (a DCist contributor who for all I know may have shown up at DCDL some time) beat me to it by nine months.


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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