Democratic Underground

Blog Box

January 28, 2005
Compiled by Bucky Rea, The Brown Bag Blogger

Digital Democracy in Action

We got two examples of how the Internet can breathe new life into our abused democracy this past week. And the examples came from the two very best bloggers out there: TPM and the Bartcop. Let's do age before beauty.

Bartcop takes second place behind no one in the oughta-be-Olympic sport of monkey smacking. The Bartster suggests that you (yes, you personally) oughta go to Yahoo and email this Bush picture to everyone you know. Do that. Now! This column will be waiting for you when you're done.

(Soft elevator music plays in the background while Bucky taps his foot and looks at his watch.)

Welcome back and thanks for doing your part. Let me explain what's going on. Bart's mad scheme here is to place this image at the top of Yahoo's "favorites pile" so that the whole world can see the true face of public support for our glorious leader. Mr Bush may get sweet pillow talk from a recently tamed CBS News, but some of us still want to hold them accountable. He's your chance to help.

Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo is offering another way to remember your civics class lessons and start to make a difference. Already his rosters of the Fainthearted Faction and the Conscience Caucus (respectively, Democrats and Republicans willing to cross party lines for the coming attack on Social Security) offer a case study in online Congressional lobbying for the Internet age. In true small-d-democratic fashion, he keeps calling out to his readers to pitch in and keep your servants' feet to the fire. Partners, here's your chance to do hands on democracy. Read TPM, find an MC, and start nagging the Honorable Congressman Jellospine to protect our future.

Josh still remains the go-to guy for plowing through the curbloads of snow shoveled out by the Bushies in support of their grand looting scheme. Most recently, TPM reports, the White House is cherry picking quotes from Bill Clinton to justify their Chicken Little routine. "Social Security is falling! Social Security is falling!"

This is not an editorial column, so I won't go on and on about it. But folks, please don't be fooled. Social Security isn't in half the trouble the Republicans say it is and their "solution" to the problem is simply a Trojan Horse for the biggest legalized kickback in Wall Street history - the billions of dollars in commissions that stock brokers will make from privatized funds regardless of whether people make money or lose their entire retirement accounts.

Anyhoo, TPM's biggest contribution to the Social Security debate may not be the crossover rosters or Josh's deconstructions of administration hypocrisy, but the way cool "Privatize This" t-shirts TPM is giving away. And all you gotta do to win one is read your newspaper and spot the conservative bullshit. Now how hard can that be?

Social Insecurity

Speaking of cutting through the BS, Atrios notes an important point "missing" from the administration's efforts to use lower life expectancy figures for African Americans to rally support for their looting of Social Security.

To recap, life expectancy at 65 is fairly close for blacks and whites (2 year gap roughly). Much of the difference is due to differences is infant, childhood, and for males, young adult mortality.

Such people pay little or nothing in social security taxes. Many of them, however, receive social security survivor benefits.

Bush has yet to address the high infant mortality rate of African-Americans. Discuss.

Anyone making the argument that social security is "unfair to blacks" without pointing out these facts is a liar.

Folks, that's what we call a "quote of the week."

Classy blogger Matt Yglesias, as is his wont, gets to the simple truth with a more direct route. Reviewing the administration's ongoing word games on Social Security, Matt reviewed Bush's options as a fraud salesman on Monday:

One option would be to say what I take it that Bush and privatization's other advocates really believe, to wit: Using the government's taxation power to help people is immoral. But of course the people who believe that never say so if they want to win elections. So this leaves Bush with trying to convince people that even though they like Social Security, they have no choice but to destroy it.

Blue Collar Tragedy Hour

A few good Demo-bloggeurs are having a tiff about the relationship between labor unions and the Democratic Party. Folks, this is a long overdue debate. Chris Bowers of the MyDD crew got the ball rolling when he (by his admission) went into a drunken rant on Monday, saying:

I worry that we have come to the point as a party where, in order to be a Democratic standard bearer, it is okay to be anti-labor and pro-choice while it is not okay to be anti-choice and pro-labor. It is as though liberalism has been detached from labor.

But you gotta read the whole thing. And read the follow up comments, too. Sadly, this column is not called the Follow Up Comments Box, or I'd go there. Instead, let me draw your attention to Brad Plumer's high five to MyDD, which makes some good arguments, but seems to argue that we as a party can reclaim the middle class by payloading the intellectual pencilnecks who (supposedly) make up our New England base.

Nathan Newman's Labor Blog takes them both to task. He observes that Democrats are actually a good deal better at being pro-labor than they were in the 90s. Newman points to Max Cleland, who got absurdly painted as "pro-terrorist" because he voted against suspending union regs for the Department of Homeland Panicmongering. Labor Blog continues:

The ongoing union-busting in the airline industry has gone barely unmentioned by most liberal blogs and one outrage after another comes down from the National Labor Relations Board without comment. If similar decisions were happening on abortion or race, it wouldn't be blogged from the far ends of liberal opinion outlets, but most liberal [bloggers] just don't give a damn.

As both a pencilneck intellectual and a blue collar union slob (yes, I'm a Renaissance man!) I gotta feel a little torn here. Newman's right that Congressional Dems are better at voting for union interests then they were 10 years ago. But let's remember that this is happening under an aggressively anti-worker Republican president. Pro-union votes are pretty easy to cast in protest against Mr Bush's outright economic insanity. Give us another Democratic president (please!) and you will see those only slightly troubling votes brought back to docket.

On the other hand Plumer is talking about Democrats running away from identification with New England smartypantses, the one region in the country that consistently votes in our column. That can't be smart, even if it were possible to remarket ourselves that way.

I can't tell you who's right and who's wrong in this argument. After all, this is not an opinion column. But I will repeat that this discussion needs to continue. Strong unions built America's prosperity in the 40's and 50's and the decline of unions in the 70s and 80s marks the beginning of the hour-glassing of our nation's wealth. It's good to see to see bloggers blogging on the issues of economic justice and opportunity at the core of progressive politics.

Cheap Shots

The Poor Man has been keeping track of people whom Andrew Sullivan has labeled "enemies of the United States." Dagnabbit, why am I not on that list?

The New Republic's &c. blog got a good dig in on New Mexico governor Bill Richardson this week.

Item one:
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat who has been mentioned as a potential candidate for 2008, said: "You have a totally wide-open field with no leading candidate and no 800-pound gorillas on each side. You're seeing generation changes in both parties, and you're seeing totally new faces emerge."

Beyond the obvious self-serving thrust of this quote (you half-expected Richardson to add that he's seeing a real hunger among the Democratic rank-and-file for a half-Latino governor and former UN ambassador from the Southwest.)

The Etceterist was so amused with his little witticism that he felt compelled to repeat it three days later.

TNR folks are no fans of Richardson, it seems. Richardson is an ambitious, successful Democratic governor of a western state with a strong track record in foreign affairs and national security issues. Not surprisingly, he's floating his name for the 2008 race. But Richardson can be safely scoffed at because the Etceterist has already figured out the 2008 nominee is gonna be Edwards or Hillary. TNR reports and decides...

"The power center of the party has to be shared," [Richardson] said. "It can't be just Congressional Democrats or Senate Democrats. It has to include Democratic governors who are being elected in non-Democratic strongholds like the West and the South."

As [my] friend points out, whose fault is it that New Mexico isn't more of a Democratic stronghold?

Oooooh, dis!

Unless, of course, you actually consider the facts. The last Democrat who lost New Mexico was perfectly a TNR kind of Democrat-connected, sophisticated, insider, hawkish on defense, smart as a button, and nuanced out the wazzoo with think tank advice. The last Democrat who won New Mexico was, well, Bill Richardson.

(Please note that the Box ain't an endorsement column, either. I won't support any candidate from this space and certainly don't disparage people who want to put Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Edwards in the hot seat in 2008. My beef is with smug pundits who want to dismiss both the normal democratic processes of our party and the "upstart" candidates who are willing to show a little hustle out of a love for their country.)

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