Democratic Underground

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January 7, 2005
Compiled by Bucky Rea, The Brown Bag Blogger

Meet the Old Boss, Same as the Old Boss

You may have made a New Year's resolution to change for the better and I may have made a New Year's resolution to change for the better, but our friends and foes in Washington DC this week wanted to let the world know that they think they're fine just the way they are. And that is the only thing that could explain why both Republicans and Democrats met the opening week of 2005 by acting as absolutely predictably as they could.

Republicans protecting Tom Delay played the perfect hypocrites on governmental reform, flip-flopped on ethics standards, figured out a slinkier angle for covering his bug-smooshin' posterior, and then wrapped it all up in a smooth marketing campaign that hid the fact that they used the growing Delay scandal to effectively defang the House Ethics committee. Talk Left explains it for you.

And Congressional Democrats said next to nothing about it.

Daily Kos is chronicling the degeneration of the US Department of Random Retribution Justice from the days when the words "torture memo" might've implied things America was trying to prevent, or when the phrase "the politics of the torture memos" would mean which party could demonstrate the greatest moral outrage against torturing prisoners of war.

Today, of course, it signals a gentlemen's debate between rah-rah support and modest disapproval of the systemic physical and mental degradation of prisoners who just don't understand how moral our cause is.

Digby of Hullabaloo, meanwhile, is letting you know just how predictable all the Elephantine fireworks over Guantanamo Bay abuses are gonna be:

Why, the Republicans are going to say that the Democratic Party is soft on terrorism, oh my gawd! Peter Beinert will caution that we are giving up the moral high ground by failing to show that we are serious about fighting Islamic fundamentalism. Oh heck! ...

Many in the Republican party... are going to immediately attack with everything they have. (T)hey are uncomfortable with criticism and their reaction is to lash out viciously. (Quite a few of the wingnut "Year End" lists were quite adamant that Abu Ghraib was overblown by the liberal media.) They will get hysterical about the existential threat we face and talk about the constitution not being a suicide pact. They'll paint us all as a bunch of wimps who can't stand up to terrorism.

But, see, this is how democracy works: people stand up and speak their minds, make their cases, regardless of personal gain or security.

How democracy doesn't work is when one side says, "ah to hell with it" if it looks like they're not gonna win on a particular argument. For instance, can you guess what all the Democratic senators did when Barbara Boxer finally crossed the line and joined House members in questioning irregularities in the Ohio vote? Do the words "baa-baa" mean anything to you?

Nero Fiddled's Noah Diamond gives the best terse summary of Thursday's hearings and reminds us that the phrase "won't change the outcome" is a cop out, not a legal argument. You kids may want to remember that exact phrase in case you decide to dodge the draft next year. "Sure, your honor, I guess I could enter the army and go and fight those terrorist coddlers in Portugal. But even if I don't go..." (all together now) "... it won't change the outcome."

No harm, no foul, right?

Like other bloggers and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Noah fell for the short-lived announcement that Senators Dodd, Clinton, Reid, and Obama would join Barbara Boxer in challenging the voter abuses from Ohio. In the end, Senator Boxer stood alone on her side of Capitol Hill.

Gonzo Journalism

Speaking of not being able to make a difference, Alberto Gonzales announced this week "we must be committed to preserving civil rights and civil liberties" and Grits for Breakfast connected the dots, pointing out something that you never hear on the TV news:

(I)t was strategically wise for activists like not to give US Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales a free pass during his confirmation hearings... That means Gonzales' critics have successfully chased him off of some of the most regressive and scary legal and political positions ever taken by the Bush administration. Hurrah! It's an accomplishment well worth the price paid for standing up to reactionaries and race baiters who said he was above criticism.

Real Democrats (meaning, sadly, the ones who don't run for office) hammering Gonzales on his crazy torture opinions paid off. There's a lesson in that, if there are any actually elected Democrats watching the news out there. And that makes for this week's quote of the week.

Blogs in the News

Nature took these past two weeks to remind us just who's the real boss around here. The horror in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and around the Indian Ocean rim, was but a shrug to the forces of plate tectonics that hold our globe together.

As seems to be the case in so many big stories recently, blogs played important role in letting the voices of normal people be heard amid the crush of global events. While big news media kept the public informed on the status of all the plucky supermodels caught up in Indian Ocean tsunami, it fell to the weblogs of the region to remind the literate minority of the real human dimensions of the catastrophe and connecting the world to numerous charitable donation sites.

Blog of the Year? Really?

Bloggers who read Time magazine had more that just Dubya's Person of the Year award to confirm their deepest suspicions about "liberal media bias." Time also awarded its Blog of the Year award to Powerline for creating "Rathergate" and effectively diverting attention away from the main thrust of the "60-II" story on Bush dodging the draft. Fight the Power, baby! These three Twin City corporate lawyers have come up with the fresh idea of constantly whining about how liberal media bias makes life tough for conservatives. Whoa, boy, talk about cutting edge trendsetters!

Y'know, conservatives pundits kvetching about liberal media bias always kinda reminds your ol' brown bagger of those Lifetime Network Movies in which wife-beatin' husbands (played by Paul LeMat) gripe about how their long-sufferin' wives (Annie Potts) always burn the meatloaf (Meatloaf) or can't control their screaming brats (scrawny kid from Jerry Maguire). The brats have to scream, of course, because the grown ups are so dysfunctional and so self-absorbed, and, frankly, aren't doing any real work anyway.

But I digress.

Blog on Blog Violence

On the principle of fairness, although I have vowed never to award James Wolcott with quote of the week status, his take on Andrew Sullivan is the sort of thing they ought to include in English literature anthologies.

But you gotta give props to the molecularly unstable Sullivan for maintaining his consistent inconsistency in our turbulent universe. While everyone else is busy linking to tsunami relief fund sites, Sully's top line reads: "Please support this blog! Click here to make a donation."

You go, boy!

Know a hot blog that needs some coverage? Send your recommendations to Bucky.

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