the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

October 19, 2007

Free Beer and Environmentalism


Our friends at the Sierra Club’s DC chapter are having one of their “Sierra Club and Beer” nights on Tuesday, October 23, from 7 to 9pm at Temperance Hall (3634 Georgia Avenue NW, Georgia Avenue–Petworth Metro):

Enjoy free beer. Meet new people. Protect the planet.

Join us for free beer and become part of Sierra Club’s mission to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet. Meet other folks who care about local and national conservation issues, win prizes, and find out how you can help make DC a leader in the fight against global warming.

October 18, 2007

Bush: Vetoing to Be Relevant


There’s some controversy about why Bush vetoed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) bill. Was it a previously dormant desire to hold down government spending that suddenly awakened in him? Was he determined to do what he can to slow the unstoppable juggernaut of socialist medicine? Does he simply hate poor and sick children? Bush gave an answer at a press conference yesterday:

Q I wanted to ask you about S-CHIP and why you even let that get to a situation where it had to be a veto? Isn’t there a responsibility by both the President and congressional leadership to work on this common ground before it gets to a veto?

THE PRESIDENT: Right, as I said, we weren’t dialed in. And I don’t know why. But they just ran the bill, and I made it clear we weren’t going to accept it. That happens sometimes. In the past, when I — I said, look, make sure we’re a part of the process, and we were. In this case, this bill started heading our way, and I recognize Republicans in the Senate supported it. We made it clear we didn’t agree. They passed it anyway. And so now, hopefully, we’ll be in the process. That’s why the President has a veto. Sometimes the legislative branch wants to go on without the President, pass pieces of legislation, and the President then can use the veto to make sure he’s a part of the process. And that’s — as you know, I fully intend to do. I want to make sure — and that’s why, when I tell you I’m going to sprint to the finish, and finish this job strong, that’s one way to ensure that I am relevant; that’s one way to sure that I am in the process. And I intend to use the veto.

So it’s not about any of that. He’s just trying to remain relevant and “sprint to the finish”. What if it happens to be a Defense appropriation bill that lands on his desk next time he’s feeling a bit irrelevant and winded?

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.


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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