the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

September 7, 2005

HUD Joins Freedom Walk Promotion


With the administration’s post-Katrina blame-the-victims, blame-Louisiana, blame-New-Orleans PR efforts (with photo ops) in full swing, it’s hard to know whether the Pentagon’s “America Supports You” Freedom Walk on September 11 will be ignored by the media or successfully folded into Operation Revive the President’s Approval Ratings.

In any case, the administration continues to go all out in recruiting government employees for the propaganda effort. Another government department has joined those encouraging their employees to participate in the event:

The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Alphonso Jackson, will join members of the HUD staff, their families and all Americans to take part in the “Freedom Walk” sponsored by the Department of Defense on Sunday, September 11.

“Americans will never forget the extraordinary loss we experienced on September 11. The Freedom Walk is an opportunity to come together on the anniversary of this tragedy to honor those lost and pay tribute to those fighting the war on terrorism at home and abroad,” said Secretary Jackson.

The “Freedom Walk” begins September 11 at 10 a.m. in the Pentagon’s south parking lot. The route will wind two miles through the Arlington National Cemetery and over the Potomac River before ending at the Reflecting Pool. The walk will conclude with a free concert on the National Mall by country music performer Clint Black.

The Defense Department hopes to make it an annual event, with other communities holding their own “Freedom Walks” next year.

Note again that the idea of pre-election Freedom Walks in every state next year, which was removed from the Freedom Walk site last month, is still alive.

So what’s up with the slacker departments? Come on, Agriculture. Come on, Energy. Come on, Treasury. Do you want the other departments to show you up in support for Our Leader? I’m sure you’ll be putting out your own press releases in the next day or two.

September 3, 2005

Reporting Live From Eschacon


It’s half way through the Saturday program here at the first convention of Atriotes here in the city of Franklin, Stallone, and admittedly now the city of progressive blogtopia. I didn’t do a seat count but I’d ballpark the crowd at 150 from all over the US, though a heavy concentration between NY and DC.

Most of the morning was spent talking about the frustration of living under an administration that refuses to be held accountable. Bush is absolutely right when he says what’s been happening in New Orleans is “Unnaceptable.” It’s just that he doesn’t see himself in that loop. On a panel moderated by Thersites, including Atrios, NTodd, Spin Dentist (AllSpinZone), Susie (Suburban Guerilla) and Bob Fertik (democrats.com and afterdowningstreet.org) the events of the last few days post Katrina were reviewed in the context of a climate of consistent failure (as Bob Fertik put it: “They screwed up Iraq and now they screwed up New Orleans.”)

The afternoon started with a rousing speech by Rep Slaughter (D-NY) (which I videotaped, though I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with it). An interesting question after her speech concerned why the Dems in the House, who’ve been frozen out legislatively don’t stage a walk-out. She said she didn’t think those kind of tactics worked any more, but what might work is if a 100,000 people showed up at Lafayette Park. I’m pretty sure she was referring to the March on September 24 which she referred to explicitly in her speech.

Aside from many of the heavies of the lefty blogosphere, Times columnist Paul Krugman was in the audience to remind us that the media often takes its themes from the blogs they read. That’s why we do it after all.

Blaming the Victims


Part of the White House response to the political dimension of Katrina is apparently to spread the idea that the people remaining in New Orleans have only themselves to blame for their predicament (or their deaths). Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had this to say to Wolf Blitzer on Thursday:

Well, I think the death toll may go into the thousands. And unfortunately, that’s going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the evacuation warnings. And I don’t make judgments about why people choose not to evacuate.

But, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. And to find people still there is just heart wrenching to me because the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there. And so we’ve got to figure out some way to convince people that when evacuation warnings go out, it’s for their own good.

Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security, also made the point:

“The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster,” he said on NBC’s Today program. “Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part.

Now I expect this sort of absolute lack of empathy from Bush, but has he staffed his entire administration with other sociopaths? I don’t expect them to have spent a lot of time talking to poor, elderly, or disabled people, but can’t they exercise a little imagination and understand that not everyone has a car (or limo and driver) , a credit card, or perhaps multiple homes — that maybe some people don’t have much “choice” about evacuating when there’s no government help? Some of the people trapped in New Orleans are even relatively wealthy tourists who couldn’t get out after the airport closed.

Fortunately, although conservatives often view poverty as a sign of moral failure, not all Bush supporters are picking up the rhetoric. On Friday’s Diane Rehm Show, even the odious Tony Blankley — someone willing to hint last year that George Soros had been a Nazi collaborator — wouldn’t go along with it (my transcript):

Obviously for middle-class folks like us, if we have to run, we go to the Hyatt, we give them a piece of plastic, we sit up on the eighteenth floor, and we get room service. For a person who has nothing, their decision to leave their home isn’t only a decision to leave their home. If they have a choice between being homeless back home or being homeless in a strange town, you pick back home. So an awful lot of understanding has to be given to people who decided to stay who were poor.

I’m not sure how “middle-class” Blankley really is, but at least he’s showing a lot more compassion than the Bush administration he supports.

September 1, 2005

Freedom Walk Watch


That’s odd.

The line in the description of the Freeper, I mean Freedom Walk that used to say:

Participants are encouraged to arrive at the Pentagon South parking lot between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. for screening to avoid long lines.

Now says:

Participants are encouraged to arrive at the Pentagon South parking lot between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Does that mean that they’re not screening participants any more? Or does it just mean that they’re extremely attentive to the language used to describe the event? If I showed up wearing my “Bush Lied, People Died” t-shirt would I be screened, or wouldn’t I? What if I showed up wearing a t-shirt that said: “Dissent is Patriotic”? Conversely, how about a t-shirt that supported the Republican party?

I’m just wondering whether they’re planning to screen people or not. If so, what are the criteria?

White House Responds to Katrina With New Logo


DHinMI at the Next Hurrah points out that the White House site now has a “hurricane relief” title bar with a photo apparently representing Bush standing with a hurricane victim and an American flag. This would be unremarkable — except for the fact that Bush has yet to get any closer to a hurricane victim than to fly over in Air Force One.

In related news, the New York Times really didn’t like Bush’s speech about the disaster:

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

If you haven’t already, please donate to the Red Cross or other relief organizations.


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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