the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 9, 2007

My Appearance on the CBS Evening News


A few days ago I got an IM from a friend:

gene: I saw you on CBS Evening News!
keith: ?
gene: Front and center at the DC vote hearings
gene: I have a tape of it; I’ll send it to you
keith: That would be great.
keith: I heard they were doing something, but I missed it.
gene: I thought you would have known but saved a tape of it just in case. Glad I did!
keith: There was one point when somebody put a camera in my face, but I didn’t know who they were with.
gene: It looked like the camera was 2 feet from you(!)
keith: It was.
keith: I was trying not to look at it and wondering what they were shooting.
gene: Here I am calmly watching the news, and suddenly THERE’s KEITH! and about fell out of my chair.

As it turns out I didn’t need to wait for the tape, since the segment (from June 1) is online. I appear for a second or two in a shot of the audience at Lieberman’s May 15 committee hearing on the DC House Voting Rights Bill (S. 1257) near the midpoint of a 3-minute report on DC’s situation. There’s even a closeup of my “Demand the Vote” button.

The piece was accompanied by a 1-minute Katie Couric editorial in favor of representation for DC. It’s good to see coverage on a major national program.

March 13, 2007

Salon Needs a New Headline Writer


Earlier this month Salon ran an article about Dick Cheney’s visit to Afghanistan and couldn’t resist the “clever” headline “How Cheney bombed in Afghanistan”, despite the tastelessness of punning on an event that cost 23 people their lives.

Today Salon has a perfectly good article by Robert Polner on the weaknesses of one of the Republican presidential candidates, but again it’s marred by an unfortunate headline: “How to Swift-boat Rudy Giuliani”. Of course the article is not about Swift-boating and is not calling for Democrats to spread lies about Giuliani. This is made clear in the article itself (emphasis added):

In 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth challenged the established image of John Kerry as a decorated, wounded Vietnam War hero. Democrats who had supported Kerry because they thought his military service made him electable were shocked to find a Republican-funded 527 group using spurious information and savage ads to create doubt in the electorate about the candidate’s war record. Should Rudy Giuliani be the Republican nominee in 2008, Democrats can create the same doubt about him, but without relying on distortion. They could instead use the truthful words of sympathetic subjects who credibly blame Giuliani for the loss of their loved ones on Sept. 11.

The important characteristic of the SBVT’s attacks on Kerry is that they were lies. By applying the term “Swift-boat” to ordinary political attacks on a candidate — attacks that the article itself specifically describes as truthful — Salon is legitimizing the SBVT’s lies and effectively condoning real Swift-boating as a tactic.

I don’t want to “Swift-boat” Giuliani, and neither does Polner, apparently — only the headline writer does. Let’s leave the Swift-boating to the Republicans.

Update (9:28pm): Victory! At some point today they changed the headline to “What an anti-Giuliani ad should say” (thanks to Paul in the comments for the heads-up).

Update (10:29pm): Here’s Mark Schone’s explanation from the comments on Salon:

I edited this piece and wrote the original headline. My intent in using the phrase “Swift-boat” in the headline was to underline the writer’s point about aiming an attack straight at what is thought to be Giuliani’s strength. That is what the GOP did to Kerry in 2004. Kerry was put on the defensive about the very portion of his resume that was thought to make him the most electable Democrat. As the piece points out, the difference between what was said about Kerry then and what could be said about Giuliani in 2008 is that there would be no need to distort Giuliani’s record in order to attack his strength. But I take seriously the comments of those who think that “Swift-boating” necessarily entails lying and distortion, so I’ve changed the headline.

February 28, 2007

Cheney Goes Further Off His Rocker


Dan Froomkin highlights the latest pointlessly deranged bullying from the Vice President for Torture:

After nine days of almost completely ignoring the small pool of reporters who diligently followed him around through seven countries, Vice President Cheney yesterday finally agreed to a short group interview. But only on one condition: The reporters would have to agree not to tell anyone that the person they talked to was him.

Cheney’s insistence on being identified as a “senior administration official” — even when the transcript shows he spoke in the first person — is in some ways laughably trivial.

But in other ways, the vice president’s decision to extort reporters into a ridiculous agreement reflects the contempt Cheney has for the press corps.

Ridiculous is right. Look at this paragraph from the White House transcript of the “Interview of a Senior Administration Official by the Traveling Press Aboard Air Force Two En Route Muscat, Oman”:

Let me just make one editorial comment here. I’ve seen some press reporting says, “Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.” That’s not the way I work. I don’t know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn’t know what I’m doing, or isn’t involved in it. But the idea that I’d go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.

What is going through Cheney’s head when he does something like that? He makes it obvious that he’s the one speaking, but still forces the press to agree not to say so. I know he’s obsessed with secrecy (and prefers to avoid telling the truth whenever possible), but isn’t that a little insane even for him?

January 6, 2007

Byron York Expected Pelosi to Pull Four Consecutive All-Nighters


I only just stumbled across this, but a month ago Byron York uncovered the dastardly fraud behind the Democrats’ plans for the “first 100 hours” of the new Congress:

Here’s a question: When House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi talks about what Democrats plan to accomplish in the first 100 hours when Congress convenes in January, does she mean 100 consecutive hours, as in, say, from a Monday at 10 a.m. until Friday at 2 p.m., or does she mean something else?

The answer is something else. Pelosi plans to enact the Democrats’ “Six for ’06″ agenda in 100 legislative hours — not real hours.

Here’s a question: Has anyone else who appears regularly on television and in newspapers and magazines (as opposed to some random wingnut blogger) said anything quite so stupid about the first 100 hours?

Let’s hope York never goes for a pilot’s license. Logging those 40 hours of flight time could be a problem.

September 9, 2006

Newspaper Endorsements for DC Primary


Newspaper endorsements have no effect in some races, but an endorsement from the major local paper (in DC’s case, the Washington Post) can sometimes cause people to pay serious attention to a candidate they would otherwise have written off, especially in a race with many candidates. Besides, reading the reasoning behind the endorsements can help you think through your own decisions, and sometimes endorsements are even entertaining.

I’ve searched out the endorsements for the September 12 Democratic primary from several local newspapers and put them into a table with links so you can read them. The big one, of course, is the Washington Post. The table omits the Washington Times because it has made only one DC endorsement, Marie Johns for mayor, but I did include our other conservative-owned paper, the Washington Examiner (which recently warned us about Muslims under the bed).

The Washington City Paper doesn’t have editorials, but its political columnist, Loose Lips, does make endorsements, so I’ve included those. Finally, the Northwest Current endorsed candidates, but it doesn’t put its content online, so there are no links for it.

Post Examiner Loose Lips Current
Mayor Fenty Fenty Fenty Johns
City Council, Chair Gray Patterson Patterson Patterson
City Council, At Large Mendelson Bolden Mendelson Mendelson
City Council, Ward 1 Graham Graham Graham ——
City Council, Ward 3 Cheh Goulet Cheh Cheh
City Council, Ward 5 Thomas James Ray ——
City Council, Ward 6 Wells Etherly Wells ——
Delegate to the House —— —— Norton ——
Shadow Senator —— —— Pannell ——
Shadow Representative —— —— Panetta ——

For links to the candidates’ websites, see the list of Democratic primary candidates.

August 10, 2006

Sundance’s “The Hill”


Tonight at DC Drinking Liberally, we got to see a preview of the first episode of The Hill. First off, it was like any documentary - the production values were a little roughened, the camera cuts a little sharp, etc. But it did what it meant to do - get a sense of the people across. I was fortunate enough to be in the room with at least three of the staffers, looking back and forth between the screen and them. Yes, the people on the show are people on Congressman Wexler’s staff, and he is there as well.

But I’ll be honest - the show is all about the staffers, and even if it wasn’t, they would have stolen the show right from Wexler.

You hear political opinions you might or might not completely agree with, but you see human beings in the process - and you get to see political opinions expressed on television that you just don’t outside of say, the Daily Show. You see people whose goals are sane.

The scenes leading up to and during the 2004 election… are worth seeing the first episode alone, even if it tears your heart out. It did mine, but those moments are FAR from everything wonderful about that half-hour.

I couldn’t stay for the discussion afterwards. I very, very much wish I didn’t have to bolt out at the end of the show, and I wish I had enough time to give you a real idea of just how uplifting this was - not because it was a slick production, but because it shows some of the very real feelings and frustration with living under a GOP government, and still evokes the tremendous fight still left in us.

August 8, 2006

Brace Yourselves, Netroots!


Chris Bowers at MyDD:

[N]o matter what happens later today, Wednesday will be the worst day of press for the progressive netroots in years. If Lamont loses, we will be branded as ineffectual, irrelevant, extremist, and destructive. If Ned Lamont wins, we will be branded as powerful, relevant, extremist, and destructive. Both descriptions are inaccurate and unfair because this goes so far beyond the blogosphere, but if I have to choose I would much rather have the second one be the story. If we are going to get trashed and be forced to take credit for the fantastic work of others, I would at least like to get trashed as powerful and relevant.

Things are going to get ugly (or uglier).

When Lamont’s challenge to Lieberman started, I thought at least that by giving Lieberman a scare we could get him to stop being such a Bush enabler. How wrong I was! Via Americablog I see that even now, on the verge of losing the primary, Lieberman is out there trashing Democrats, spreading the Republicans’ message that anyone opposed to the Iraq war is weak on defense and can’t be trusted:

[Lieberman] said a victory for Lamont will send a message to the country: “In the Democratic Party, there’s no room for strong-on-security Dems.” He said that would be disastrous for the Democrats. “You can’t win in this country,” he said, “unless you assure people” that you aren’t going to compromise on national security. He said he has backed the war on terror because he never forgets about the “radical Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and want to do it again.”

It’s going to be a nail-biting evening.

July 3, 2006

The Manchurian Secretary


The right-wing blogosphere has whipped itself into yet another delusion-based, spittle-flecked frenzy, this time over a puff piece the New York Times published in its travel section Friday about the vacation homes of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Glenn Greenwald has the details. It’s reminiscent of last year’s secret Islamic messages in the Flight 93 memorial, only scarier because it feeds into the extremist rhetoric the right has been increasingly using against journalists in general and the Times in particular — calling for treason prosecutions, life imprisonment, and even death. Now they’re actually saying the Times is working to help Al Qaida kill the secretary of defense and the vice president of the United States.

Today, Glenn follows up with a post titled “What is left of Malkin, Hinderaker and Horowitz’s credibility?” in which he reveals that Rumsfeld himself gave permission for the supposedly security-threatening photos to be taken. Presumably the next step is for Malkin et al. to claim that Rumsfeld has been subjected to advanced brainwashing techniques to get him to cooperate in a plot to kill himself.

Alas, the answer to Glenn’s question is that they still have just as much credibility as they ever did, but that won’t stop them from appearing on television.

Update (8:50pm): Yikes! The Times piece includes a bit of quaint history about Rumsfeld’s place:

The houses have names. Mr. Rumsfeld’s is Mount Misery and is just across Rolles Creek from a house called Mount Pleasant. On four acres, with four bathrooms, five bedrooms and five fireplaces, built in 1804, the Rumsfeld house is just barely visible at the end of a gravel drive.

Thomas M. Crouch, a broker at the Coldwell Banker office in town, says one legend attributes the name to the original owner, said to have been a sad and doleful Englishman. His merrier brother then built a house, and to put him on, Mr. Crouch supposes, named it Mount Pleasant.

But there is some historical gravity to the name, too. By 1833, Mount Misery’s owner was Edward Covey, a farmer notorious for breaking unruly slaves for other farmers. One who wouldn’t be broken was Frederick Douglass, then 16 and later the abolitionist orator. Covey assaulted him, so Douglass beat him up and escaped. Today, where the drive begins, Mount Misery seems a congenial place, with a white mailbox with newspaper delivery sleeves attached, a big American flag fluttering from a post by a split-rail fence and a tall, one-hole birdhouse of the sort made for bluebirds — although the lens in the hole suggests another function.

So Rumsfeld’s vacation house is the home of a 19th-century torturer — one who tortured Frederick Douglass? Rumsfeld isn’t responsible for former owners, of course, but it’s a bit, um, coincidental.

June 23, 2006

It’s Top Secret — and Everyone Already Knows It


Last month I posted a comment on Balloon Juice mocking the way right-wing bloggers and commenters were pushing two contradictory arguments about the USA Today story on the NSA’s database of phone calls:

Old news. Nothing to see here. This sort of thing has been going on forever, and we’ve always known it was happening. Anyone with half a brain knew the NSA was doing this. In fact, it’s practically the definition of what they’re supposed to be doing. No one would expect them not to be doing it.

Oh, and USA Today and the other media outlets reporting the story are traitors. Those so-called journalists should be hanged for endangering the country by revealing important secrets to our enemies — things our enemies had no way of knowing and could never have guessed.

I said in a later comment that unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find the two arguments being made at the same time.

Now, thanks to the uproar in the right-wing blogs about the Bush administration sifting through millions of banking transactions, I have an example. Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters manages to get the two inconsistent arguments into a single sentence (emphasis added):

Excuse me, but no one voted to put Bill Keller in charge of our national security, and the laws covering classification of materials does not have an option for journalists to invalidate their clearance level. The continuing arrogance of Keller and his two reporters has damaged our national security, and in this case on a ridiculously laughable story that tells us absolutely nothing we didn’t already know in concept. They keep pretending to offer news to their readers, but instead all they do is blow our national-security programs for profit.

Apparently it’s difficult for Bush supporters to grasp, but if these are perfectly normal, legal government operations that everyone already knows about, then clearly the terrorists already know about them and have taken what steps they can to evade detection. If that’s true, how does publishing the stories help the terrorists or otherwise endanger national security?

And if the operations are violating the law, isn’t it the job of journalists to inform the American people of that? Besides, do terrorists really care whether their actions are being monitored legally or illegally? They know the monitoring is happening, and they don’t care whether those spying on them have a warrant or are otherwise subject to oversight to prevent abuse.

June 9, 2006

“Stunt” Stunt at the Washington Times


Our favorite deranged-megalomaniac-owned newspaper provided a gift for wingnuts everywhere with this story by Amy Fagan yesterday:

Democrats call Zarqawi killing a stunt

Some Democrats, breaking ranks from their leadership, today said the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq was a stunt to divert attention from an unpopular and hopeless war.

Predictably, right-wing bloggers seized on the inflammatory language as yet another example of supposedly angry, supposedly unhinged Democrats. The problem is that the Times provides no examples of Democrats actually using the word “stunt”.

Someone must have called them on it, because there’s now a toned-down version of the article online, with the “stunt” references removed (though the original remains online as well):

Some Democrats dismiss air strike

Some Democrats, breaking ranks with their leadership yesterday, said the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq wasn’t significant and is being used to divert attention from an unpopular, unsuccessful war that should be ended.

Producing a corrected version allows the Times to pretend to adhere to professional journalistic standards, but at this point the damage has been done, and a new fake story for bashing Democrats has been established.


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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