the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

December 12, 2005

Does the ACLU Really Hate Candy Canes?


The ACLU is a favorite target of the people whipping themselves up into a frenzy about a supposed War on Christmas. Last week, for example, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council put out a radio commentary called “ACLU in Whoville”, which included the sentence

Feeling threatened by the ACLU and others, governments, schools and businesses have banned Christmas carols, candy canes and in some cases, even the words “Merry Christmas”.

It’s interesting that Perkins mentioned candy canes. Three years ago, Jerry Falwell wrote an opinion piece titled “The Case of the Offensive Candy Canes”, and in it he also called out the ACLU:

Seven high-school students in Westfield, Mass., have been suspended solely for passing out candy canes containing religious messages. […]

The fact is, students have the right to free speech in the form of verbal or written expression during non-instructional class time. And yes, students have just as much right to speak on religious topics as they do on secular topics — no matter what the ACLU might propagate. Quite simply, school officials may not censor religious or Christian messages solely because another person might be “offended.”

But was the ACLU involved in the candy cane case? The answer is yes, as you can see from an ACLU press release:

NORTHAMPTON, MA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts today asked a federal district court in Springfield to protect the First Amendment rights of high school students who were disciplined by school officials for distributing candy canes with religious messages just before Christmas.

“Students have a right to communicate ideas, religious or otherwise, to other students during their free time, before or after class, in the cafeteria, or elsewhere,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Jeffrey Pyle, the main author of a friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case.

The ACLU was involved — but on the side of the students. As is often the case with right-wing rants about the ACLU, Perkins and Falwell were responding to their own fantasy view of the organization, not to the real ACLU, which agreed with Falwell. The real ACLU defends the rights of religious people all the time. Unfortunately, many conservative religious folks are unable to distinguish between students expressing their own views and school administrations or other government bodies imposing religious expressions on captive audiences using public funds.

See Tom Tomorrow for another story about conservatives reacting to their fantasy satanic ACLU. Apparently they think sending Christmas cards to ACLU headquarters will cause the organization to spontaneously combust or something. Tom has an idea about where to send cards if you’re really interested in triggering a temper tantrum.

December 9, 2005

Patrick Gavin Follow Up


I wanted to thank Patrick Gavin for his talk last night at DCDL, and wanted to use the opportunity to follow up on one of his points. The point was that outside the beltway people don’t see the Plame scandal as a major issue. This may certainly be the case. I can certainly verify that this was a major topic of discussion in Massachusetts, which is certainly outside of 495, but perhaps not representative of the “outside the beltway” viewpoint.

What bothers me about the Plame incident is that a democratic government would use its power to smear a critic. To me, a government that acts in that manner is no different from a banana republic. (or a Gap, but that’s another story.)

As far as a bigger message goes, the Plame incident is a piece of a puzzle that includes the massive PR campaign before the Iraq War, the bogus Powell presentation to the UN, the fake news stories- both in Iraq and the US, the use of torture to extract bogus confessions that are then used as “evidence.” The “Freedom Walk” on September 11, the “Truth Tour” sponsored by the Pentagon, the staged “rescue” of Jessica Lynch. Profiteering by Halliburton, bombing Al Jazeera. It’s all part of the Big Lie.

Everything associated with Iraq has what Tennesee Williams called “the foul odor of mendacity” about it.

This is a point that needs to get hammered home. As more and more people realize they have been lied to, they will become increasingly angry. From Day 1 Iraq has been a betrayal of our trust. I wouldn’t underestimate the reaction that betrayal provokes.

December 8, 2005

Cillizza Update


Last week I wrote about an example of false balance in which Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza added an irrelevant Democrat to a list of scandal-plagued elected officials, apparently to make the corruption look like a more bipartisan problem. Now via Talking Points Memo I see that Cillizza has responded to readers’ questions about the incident:

This was an editorial mixup. In my original post, Ballance was not included since, as you rightly point out, he is not a sitting member of Congress. After an edit, Ballance was unnecessarily included for, frankly, balance. I did not read the final edit and therefore was unaware that Ballance had been added to the list. I apologize for my editor’s error (he’s been flogged). And let no man (or woman) say The Fix opposes full disclosure.

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has some remedial instruction for journalists about how such false balance is the opposite of journalistic objectivity. Unfortunately, her advice won’t be heeded by those who need it most.

December 7, 2005

How’d That Happen?


It’s been a few days at least since we’ve beaten up on the Washington Post, but Majikthise called my attention to an odd Post headline: “Cunningham Friends Baffled By His Blunder Into Bribery”. The article tells the heart-warming story of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), a likable guy known to make the occasional racist or anti-gay comment, who somehow found himself accepting $2 million in bribes. As Majikthise says,

Blundering into bribery. Don’t you hate it when that happens? You’re at a party, having a good time, and the next thing you know you’ve accepted a 42-foot yacht?

The Post story is a weird mix of condemnation and excuse making, but one thing’s for sure — there’s absolutely no suggestion that Cunningham’s troubles might be connected to any other Republicans. Not, for example, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), whose largest campaign contributor is MZM, the same defense contractor that got Cunningham into trouble, as Waldo Jaquith details. And certainly not Katherine Harris (R-VA), our friend Richard Pombo (R-CA), or the other Republicans who’ve benefited from MZM’s generosity (see Jane Hamsher at firedoglake).

December 6, 2005

Right-Wing Talking Points du Jour


One of the themes I notice as I glance through the websites of our colleagues on the right, is that the MSM (that’s the Mainstream Media, if you don’t know, which the right believes to exclusively pander to the promotion of liberalism, failed tax-and-spend rhetoric, bloated governments, and Hillary Clinton) is being mean. The MSM, so the accusation goes, is filtering out all the good news about the economy. Occasionally, the MSM slips up and lets a little good news out, but they have to say something mean right afterwards.

Like this bit from the NYT:

Productivity rose at its fastest pace in two years in the third quarter, far more quickly than earlier predicted, as output rose and labor costs fell, the government reported today.

As a measure of how much the economy produced per hour of work, business productivity rose 4.7 percent outside the farming sector from July to September, compared with an earlier reading of 4.1 percent, the Labor Department reported. Real hourly compensation, which adjusts wages and other benefits for inflation, fell 1.4 percent, unchanged from previous estimates.

See? They could have just said productivity rose, validating trickle-down Bushanomics, but instead, they have to point out that wages fell. The liberal media is so mean. Whine, rinse, and repeat.

Meanwhile, the cost of living here in the District is not falling. Take this WaPo article from November:

The report, commissioned by the Fannie Mae Foundation, cited indicators that even people with good jobs are finding it harder to secure an affordable place to live. And it is not only the cost of a house that has gone up: D.C. rents have risen more sharply than those in the area overall. One reason is supply. In the first half of this year, 2,500 apartment units were converted to condominiums, triple the number for all of 2004.

Though home sales have slowed in recent weeks, the report said it is unlikely that home prices will drop enough to enable many more lower- or moderate-income families to buy. More likely, it said, would be a stagnation that would soften high-end real estate prices for a while.

So, tell me. What part of salaries falling while housing costs soar out of control are our friends on the right missing?

December 5, 2005

Events This Week


Here are some local events that you might be interested in. I’m putting together an event calendar (linked from the sidebar), which is currently rather ugly but will be evolving. If you know of an event that should be included, let me know at keith@dcdl.org.

Monday, December 5

Tuesday, December 6

Wednesday, December 7

Thursday, December 8

Saturday, December 10

These announcements are not endorsements of the organizations or candidates mentioned.

December 1, 2005

Looking for Something a Little Off the Beaten Path?


A couple of events that this Hippo rates as must see:

Saturday, Dec 3, 7:30-9:30. Join DC for Democracy for ‘A Little Rebellion Now’:

Ever wonder how DC voting rights activists could take the battle to the next level? Want to seek inspiration from America’s Founding Fathers and lead the fight to have your vote count? Playwright Lisa Voss does just that with her play A LITTLE REBELLION NOW. Join DC for Democracy’s night on the town, December 3rd.

It tackles D.C. Statehood and the prejudices that fracture the city. Tired of working within the system, African-American community leader Nanni Johnson and gay DC resident Ron Davis forge an uneasy alliance with IMF-World Bank protestors. Nanni and Ron then lead the city in an attempt to secede from the Union. Branded as “terrorists,” the rebels soon find themselves facing down armed U.S. soldiers and resolve to stand their ground, asking the rest of the nation: without the right to rebel, are we really free?

Wednesday, Dec 14, 7:00 pm. Cinema of Norway, An Evening of Animated Shorts:

There’s something for the entire family in this showcase of animated short films: What a Hog! (For et Svin!) (1993, 8 min.), featuring Wally the warthog; Guggen—The Big Cheese (Guggen—Du Store Gauda) (2002, 16 min.), featuring Guggen the ratboy; The King Who Wanted More Than a Crown (Kongen Som Ville Ha Mer Enn En Krone) (1999, 30 min.), featuring the lonely king; and Grandpa Is a Raisin (Na Skal du Hore) (2005, 42 min.), featuring Grandpa and his stories.

Patrick Gavin on Plame and the Media at DCDL Next Week


Are you confused by the twists and turns of the CIA leak case? Fear not, Patrick Gavin has been following the Plame Affair obsessively from the beginning, and he’s generously agreed to explain it all to us next Thursday, December 8.

Gavin is the associate editorial-page editor for the Washington Examiner and a contributing editor for fishbowlDC, “a gossip blog about Washington, DC, media”. He’s also been known to blog at the Huffington Post.

He’ll be discussing all aspects of the Plame Affair but focusing on the problem of journalists reporting on a story they’re intimately involved in:

We’ll have free appetizers, and Timberlake’s is extending the happy hour discount on drinks.

Please join us at the usual time and place (6:30pm in the back room at Timberlake’s, 1726 Connecticut Ave) for a talk that’s sure to enlighten us and spark some interesting discussion.


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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