the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

August 31, 2005

Bosses Urge Government Employees to Participate in Freedom Walk


Karen, a reader in California, reminded me a few days ago about this announcement from the VA:

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has urged employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans, their families and all Americans to take part in the “Freedom Walk” that begins Sept. 11 at the Pentagon.

“This is everyone’s chance to salute the valor of ordinary Americans during the 9-11 attack and the extraordinary sacrifices of our service personnel in the Global War on Terrorism,” said the Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Karen notes that the Freedom Walk site itself never talked about the GWOT (or GSAVE, for that matter) and that the announcement mentions the 2006 pre-election plans for Freedom Walks in every state that were memory-holed a couple of weeks ago.

I suppose it’s not surprising that the VA, being closely connected to the Pentagon, would be pressuring its employees to attend the Freedom Walk. But now the Department of Commerce has joined in (and there’s even an audio version):

This is Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and I have a message for every Commerce employee in the Washington, D.C. area.

I’m asking you to join me and thousands of our fellow Americans on Sunday, September 11th as we stand up for our men and women in uniform. […]

I strongly encourage all Commerce employees to join together in support of our country and the brave men and women who defend it.

Are any other government departments making such announcements? If you work for the government (or even if you work in the private sector) and have gotten similar “encouragement” from your superiors, let us know in the comments or by e-mail to keith@dcdl.org.

By the way, I finally decided to create a “Freedom Walk” category, so you can now browse through all our posts about the event.

Update (Sept. 1): Via Kos, I see that Americablog has posted about a similar message sent to employees at the Department of Health and Human Services:

From: Announcements to all U.S. DHHS Employees
[mailto:HHS-STAFF@LIST.NIH.GOV] On Behalf Of News, HHS (HHS/OS)
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:57 PM
Subject: Commemoration of Patriot Day

In twelve days, we will commemorate Patriot Day, a day to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a day to honor members of the Armed Forces currently serving at home and abroad, and a day to reiterate our commitment to the freedoms we enjoy. I will honor Patriot Day by participating in the Freedom Walk, a memorial event sponsored by the Department of Defense. I invite you as employees of the Department of Health and Human Services to join me.

The Freedom Walk begins at 10 a.m. in the Pentagon’s south parking lot, winds two miles through Arlington National Cemetery and over the Potomac River, and ends at the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall where country music star Clint Black will perform. The walk is free, but people must register by visiting www.AmercaSupportsYou.mil

September 11 marked a change in the way we view our world, our nation and ourselves. The betterment of ourselves and our country is our response. In whatever way you choose to commemorate the horrendous acts of early September four years ago, let us once again renew our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy and reaffirm our commitment to tolerance, peace and liberty throughout the world.

They’re really going all out on the opponents-are-unpatriotic message, and at this point it looks like it’s in all government departments.

Update (Sept. 7): HUD has joined in.

August 30, 2005

New Freedom Walk Sponsors: AOL, McDonald’s, Washington Times


The list of sponsors for the Pentagon’s “America Supports You” Freedom Walk grew by two today, with the addition of AOL and McDonald’s.

Also, although it’s not mentioned on the walk’s website, the Washington Times has offered to provide free advertising for the event. It’s possible that the Pentagon is hesitant to accept such an offer from a newspaper owned by Sun Myung Moon, a billionaire Republican funder and self-proclaimed messiah who was crowned last year in a ceremony attended by members of Congress in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. But Republicans have never been shy about associating with the paper before, so my bet is they’ll be adding it to the sponsors in a later site update. We wouldn’t want Fred Phelps to be the only cult leader associated (though in his case as an opponent) with the Freedom Walk.

Drinking Liberally Blog Pioneers


David Alpert, the webmaster for Drinking Liberally, has a post on his blog (and on the Cosmopolity blog) about bloggers starting DL groups and then about DL groups starting blogs:

The ideas and energy have often flowed in the other direction as well, from drinkosphere to blogosphere; liberal drinkers from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Washington, DC started their own blogs, prompting the drinkingliberally.org Web team (i.e. me) to deploy a blog system on our server for chapters like Louisville and Cambridge, Mass.

So we played a small part in the birth of the DL blog system, which currently hosts blogs for five chapters:

Except for the Park Slope blog, which may not have gotten off the ground yet, they all seem pretty active. Check them out to see what DLers are blogging about in other parts of the country.

A Skunk at the Freedom Walk Party


Guess who’s going to be picketing the Pentagon’s “America Supports You” Freedom Walk? The Blue Voice informs us that Fred Phelps and his gang of cretins from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, will be coming our way September 11. They’re the folks who own godhatesfags.com (no link — you really don’t want to go there) and have been showing up at military funerals with signs saying things like “Thank God for IEDs!” Their “logic” is that God hates the United States because the country has become too accepting of homosexuality.

Regardless of what signs any peacenik demonstrators or freeper participants show up with, they’ll look good by comparison. But the danger is that any opposition may be painted as allied with Phelps.

August 29, 2005

Unity Walk


When Keith and I were discussing the “Freedom Walk” I kept wondering what an appropriate alternative might look like. The Unity Walk, organized not by the Pentagon, but by members of the local religious community sounds exactly right:

September 11, 2005: We will convene at 1pm with an opening ceremony at the largest synagogue in DC, The Washington Hebrew Congregation, located at 3935 Macomb Street - the corner of Macomb St. & Massachusetts Ave, NW.

The Walk begins at 2pm sharp, proceeding on Massachusetts Ave, up to Wisconsin Ave. and down Embassy Row, visiting faith communities along the way. These include: Christ Church of Washington, Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, the National Sikh Gurdwara, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, and the Community of Christ.

The Walk will stop at the The Islamic Center of Washington, 2551 Mass Ave. The Walk continues to its conclusion at the Gandhi Memorial at Massachusetts Ave., hosted by the United Hindu-Jain Temple Association.

Clint Black will not be singing “Iraq and I Roll” at the conclusion of the walk.

August 28, 2005

Dissension in the Ranks of the Anti-Sheehan Army


You’ve probably heard about the “You Don’t Speak for Me, Cindy” caravan sponsored by Move America Forward, the fake grassroots “nonpartisan” pro-war group run by Republican PR firm Russo Marsh and Rogers. (MAF also worked with the Pentagon’s Office of Media Outreach on the “Truth Tour” that sent right-wing radio hosts to Iraq.) Not surprisingly, the group heading to Crawford to confront Cindy Sheehan and her camp contains some yahoos that don’t play well in the media, so there’s some effort to keep those people under wraps.

But some of the more unhinged members don’t want to maintain the mask of civility, and one Ken Robinson refused to back down when confronted about his sign by Kristinn Taylor of FreeRepublic.com. (You know things are out of control when the freepers are the ones enforcing civility.) When the disagreement became physical, Robinson was arrested.

Another faction of the pro-war demonstration, the Protest Warriors, specialize in parodying left-wing signs. Unfortunately for them, right-wingers aren’t known for appreciating subtle humor, and other protesters misunderstood which side they were on when they held up a sign reading “Say No to War!” with “unless a Democrat is president” in smaller type. Police had to be called in to rescue the Protest Warriors from their confused brethren. TBogg has the story.

August 25, 2005

Republican Excuses


Is it just me, or are the excuses Republicans are making getting stupider? Let’s look at what’s happened just this week.

Monday WMAL radio talk show host Michael Graham was fired after refusing to apologize for saying “Islam is a terrorist organization” twenty-three times and making various other statements condemning the Muslim religion as a whole on his July 25 program. He couldn’t apologize, you see, because his motive in spouting the slurs was to help moderate Muslims and open a dialogue (see Obsidian Wings for more):

That’s the real tragedy here. The people who most need free speech and open dialogue on the issues facing Islam today are America’s moderate Muslims. These are people of good will who have the difficult job ahead of reforming and rescuing their religion. They need all the help they can get.


Last Trace of “Celebration” Disappears From “Freedom Walk” Site


The Pentagon has been so eager to avoid the idea that the September 11 Freedom Walk is celebratory (as the original descriptions suggested) that it actually changed “celebrate our freedom” into “commemorate our freedom” on the “About” page, implying that our freedom has died. But the “celebrate our freedom” phrase continued to appear on the site’s front page, in this sentence:

This September 11th, the nation will gather in Washington, D.C. to remember the victims, honor our veterans, past and present, and celebrate our freedom with the America Supports You Freedom Walk, organized by the Department of Defense.

On Wednesday, however, someone must have done a search for “celebrate” and realized that the word had to go. Suddenly the sentence was changed:

This September 11th, the nation will gather in Washington, D.C. to remember the victims and honor our veterans, past and present, with the America Supports You Freedom Walk, organized by the Department of Defense.

This time they’ve eliminated the phrase entirely, meaning that “freedom” is gone from the “Freedom Walk” description along with “celebrate”.

But if the organizers really don’t want to give the impression that the Freedom Walk is a party, they might consider doing something about that whole Clint Black concert thing.

August 24, 2005

How’s the DLC Ceasefire Going, Hillary?


Read this and guess who wrote it (emphasis added):

[O]ur forces and their allies have toppled one of the world’s most odious tyrants; upheld the principle of collective security; liberated a nation of 24 million; made possible Iraq’s hopeful experiment in representative self-government; and changed the strategic equation in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

These are considerable, and noble, accomplishments, but they could all be squandered if we give up and come home too soon. [… P]rogressives shouldn’t leap to the premature conclusion that we are doomed to failure in Iraq.

Democrats should also bring a sense of proportion to the prisoner abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. [… T]he revelation that some U.S. troops aren’t saints should not come as too great a shock, at least to grownups. By dwelling obsessively on U.S. misdeeds while ignoring the far more heinous crimes of what is quite possibly the most barbaric insurgency in modern times, anti-war critics betray an anti-American bias that undercuts their credibility.

Amnesty International likewise stumbled into the quagmire of moral equivalence in a report that absurdly analogized Guantanamo Bay, where 500 prisoners remain, to the Soviet gulags, where millions perished. The usually level-headed Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was forced to apologize after falling into the same trap. Activists rationalize such witless hyperbole by saying it’s the only way to get Americans to pay attention to what their government is doing wrong. But this is the political equivalent of a compound felony: insulting voters’ intelligence while offending their patriotic sensibilities.

Was it George Will? Charles Krauthammer? Bob Dole? Newt Gingrich? No, it was Will Marshall, co-founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, writing in the DLC’s Blueprint magazine.

I’d like to see some signs of that ceasefire Hillary Clinton called for last month. It seems to me that a good first step would be for the DLC to stop shooting at those in the party who were right about the war.

Update: Billmon points out that Marshall’s suggestion that the Iraq war helped with “the Arab-Israeli conflict” is the same sort of supposed “antisemitism” that the right has been claiming Cindy Sheehan is guilty of lately.

Operation Eternal Propaganda


This article from today’s Washington Post about using graves at Arlington Cemetary for the purpose of pro-war spin caught my attention:

Nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts. That was not the case with earlier wars.

Families of fallen soldiers and Marines are being told they have the option to have the government-furnished headstones engraved with “Operation Enduring Freedom” or “Operation Iraqi Freedom” at no extra charge, whether the service members are buried in Arlington or elsewhere.

The article goes on to mention that at least some families were not asked about the additions.

I’ve got a couple of questions. First of all, who came up with the name Operation Iraqi Freedom and when? Wasn’t this supposed to be Operation Keep Iraq from Nuking Us? Wasn’t that what Condi “Mushroom Cloud” Rice and Colin “Mobile Biowarfare Labs” Powell was telling us? My recollection was that only after the search for WMD turned up diddly did the Bush administration make the rhetorical adjustment to “spreading democracy.”

Second, does everyone in the Bush administration have a tin ear? Did no one question this decision? Did no one think something along the lines of: Using soldier’s graves to promote the war and ultimately the Bush administration is Kafkaesque to say the least, and more to the point sick.

Finally, does everyone at the Pentagon now serve the Republican propaganda machine? Is the next step to have Cheney/Rumsfeld 2008 printed on tombstones?


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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