the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

October 27, 2005

Not So Resolute After All


Bush has been forced into two prominent reversals in the past 24 hours. One of them promises hope, while it’s unclear what the other means for the future.

Yesterday afternoon the White House announced a reinstatement of a provision of the Davis-Bacon Act. Suspending it allowed companies doing post-Katrina reconstruction to pay their workers less, so Josh Marshall dubbed the move the Gulf Coast wage cut. The reversal was a response to a maneuver by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who put together a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans who were going to bring the issue to a vote in the House. Seeing that they were on the losing side in terms of both votes and political perception, the administration had no choice but to surrender, even though it caused some Republicans to say things like this:

“It’s the kind of thing that shows they’re turning their backs on the things that Ronald Reagan and those who built this party care deeply about,” said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.).

Then this morning came another sign of weakness with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers’s nomination to the Supreme Court. We can thank Harry Reid for helping get Miers nominated and thus widening divisions within the Republican Party. Unfortunately the withdrawal can’t really be viewed as anything other than a cave-in to the extreme right, so the next nominee will probably be someone more to the liking of that wing of the party (well, at this point it’s spread from the wing to take over the whole body). We’re not going to get someone else opposed by both left and right, and the opinions of Democrats won’t count. Let’s hope the political damage caused by the Miers nomination has enough long-term effects to make up for that.

October 15, 2005

Darkness and Light


Hello, y’all, this is my first posting here, so please be gentle. I promise not to swear too much like I do at home (so to speak), otherwise, there should be no surprises for anyone.

That having been said.

Murphy’s Law is an expression of frustration. Our memory tends to be inexact about what we’ve done right, and the ease with which we remember the very worst things about what has gone wrong is truly staggering. Murphy’s law is built on both this tendency, and on our very human need to find connections between everything. Keep that in mind through this little report, but I promise, it’s not going to be terribly difficult to spot the conflicts.

September 21, 2005

Protecting Government for the People


DCDL regular Lee was among those there today to protest Grover Norquist’s regular Wednesday meeting downtown. Working Assets and the League of Independent Voters (also known as the League of Pissed Off Voters) provided a mobile billboard with a photo of a flooded New Orleans overlaid with Norquist’s statement about getting the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub”.

Fiat Lux has a full report on Daily Kos.

September 17, 2005

Looting $249,999 at a Time


On today’s Weekend Edition, Scott Simon interviewed George Washington University law professor Christopher Yukins about government contracting for Katrina rebuilding (my transcript):

YUKINS: In the $52 billion bill, the administration included a key exception for contracting up to $250,000. That exception means that there will be no competition and no transparency whatsover. Approximately 60 to 65 percent of all federal contracting actions are actually below $250,000. You’d be astounded at how many small actions the federal government undertakes.

SIMON: And for what kind of jobs are these?

YUKINS: Services to clean out garbage, or a truckload of diapers. And, Scott, I’d like to emphasize that, in fact, it’s $250,000 per order, so it’s very common to see, unfortunately, companies and agencies will agree to split
requirements so that you always stay below a certain threshold — in this case, below $250,000.

SIMON: So somebody, for example, like a trash removal firm could do a whole series of jobs for $240,000 and never have to go through a competitive bidding process.

YUKINS: Exactly.

SIMON: But on the other hand, a lot of companies have to move quickly.

YUKINS: They do, and in fairness it is necessary to abbreviate the competition in a situation like this, but you really shouldn’t abandon competition and transparency entirely.

No accountability and no transparency for almost two thirds of the spending.

Josh Marshall is right. It’s been fun for left-wing sites to beat up on the few Republicans who voted against rebuilding funds, but pretty soon I think Democrats who voted for the bill are going to be regretting it as much as they now regret voting for the Iraq war.

Bush has put Karl Rove in charge of managing the reconstruction. The money is going to go to contractors who are connected to the administration. Bush promises that there will be appropriate oversight, but Billmon has the history of how well Bush’s watchdogs have worked earlier. It’s on track to be the biggest-ever Republican slush fund.

The one thing we can be sure of is that in 2006 Republican candidates will be hitting the jackpot on campaign contributions, as all the contractors kick back a fraction of the vast amounts of taxpayer money that went into their pockets.

September 15, 2005

Help Victims of Katrina at DCDL Tonight


Sorry for the late notice. Those of you on the e-mail list have already gotten this message from Cory.

Dulles Area Democrats are collecting items for survivors of Hurricane Katrina that they will drive from Virginia to food banks in Baton Rouge and Little Rock. Kat Zambon from DC for Democracy will be at Timberlake’s (1726 Connecticut Avenue NW) tonight to collect items from DCDL to hand off to the team in Virginia. They need nonperishable food items and toiletries — a specific list of items is below. Please contribute whatever you can. It’ll make a huge difference to the folks who need it. Thanks for everything you do!

  • “pop-top” items of complete meals (e.g., Spaghetti-O’s)
  • fruit cups
  • granola bars
  • bottled sports drinks
  • fruit juices
  • cookies
  • crackers
  • chips
  • candy bars
  • small boxes of dry cereal
  • canned vegetables (beans, peas, carrots, etc.)
  • canned soups
  • dried beans
  • canned meats
  • rice
  • pasta
  • peanut butter
  • baby food
  • soap
  • antibacterial sanitizers
  • wipes
  • shampoo (individual size)
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • blankets
  • pillows
  • towels
  • diapers
  • formula
  • small blankets
  • school supplies
  • adult diapers
  • deodorant
  • disposable razors
  • shaving cream
  • feminine hygiene products
  • nutritional supplements (including vitamins)

For more information, see the Dulles Area Community Network site.

September 3, 2005

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

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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