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Why Rahm Was 100% Wrong

3:04 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

The Rahm Emanuel strategy was to cut deals with power brokers in Washington and ignore what liberals wanted. This was best illustrated when he called liberals "fucking retarded" for trying to push for real change. His attitude was that you could ignore progressive demands because – where could they go?!

Well, it turns out that the answer to that question is – home. Now there are several polls out showing a 5 to 10% difference between registered Democratic voters and likely Democratic voters. Democrats are basically tied with the Republicans on registered voters. But they get clobbered on likely voters. Why? Because voters who are disillusioned aren’t likely to vote.

Why are they disillusioned Rahm might ask when we gave them health care reform and financial reform? The answer is because they’re not nearly as dumb as you think they are. You think you can just call something reform and people are going to buy it? That’s not going to fly, especially in the new media age.

We all know that Obama struck the same exact deals with the big drug companies that Bush did. Obama had campaigned against those specific agreements, but once he got into office he was convinced that we couldn’t upset those deals and that we just had to shoot for a tiny bit of change. That we couldn’t change the way Washington ran, we could just play the old Washington game a little better. That is the essence of Rahm Emanuel. . . .

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Gibbs is Wrong: It Isn’t About the Professional Left

3:29 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

Now, it looks like I’m attacking the president from the left since I say he should be more progressive. And I have written in the past about the value of doing just that. But the reality is that this isn’t about left or right. That whole paradigm is wrong.

If I was more of a liberal, I might have been ecstatic about the 30 million new people that will have health insurance under Obama’s reform. That’s basically lower income people getting government subsidies.

If I was more of a liberal, I might be mad at Obama for dragging his heels on fixing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But I know he’s getting to that. As annoyingly political as his split the difference stances are on this issue and gay marriage (which he is comically opposed to), I can live with slow progress as long as we’re on the right road.

If I was more of a liberal, I might be mad at the amount of stimulus spending. They think it’s way too low. I’m a real deficit hawk, so I’m torn on that issue.

This isn’t about whether Obama is liberal enough. It’s about whether he’s actually going to challenge the system or just be a clog in it. The system is fundamentally corrupt. Our politicians and their staffs are bought by the highest bidder. They then use the government to funnel taxpayer money to the people who bought them. Conservatives are just as angry about that as liberals are.

So, that’s why so many of us are mad that the president didn’t fight for the public option. It wasn’t that the public option is some sort of liberal magic cure-all. It’s that it would have provided real competition to the private insurance companies. Instead Obama not only left the system exactly as it was, but instituted a mandate that would funnel even more people into the arms of those same companies.

The public option was a bellwether. It signaled which direction he was going in – and that turned out to be in a corporatist direction that leaves the system wholly unchanged.

We got more of the same when the drug companies got the same deal as they did under Bush – the government cannot negotiate prices with them and we cannot import drugs from other countries (i.e., another unnatural monopoly imposed by the government).

We got more of the same when the big banks got out of financial reform relatively unscathed. They’re still too big to fail. They’re still doing risky bets with taxpayer backed money. They’re still in charge.

The large defense contractors are also just as large as they were before. Actually, they’re bigger because Obama not only escalated the war in Afghanistan, but increased the already record breaking Bush budgets at the Pentagon. And the game remained the same.

Do you see a pattern here? Corporate and special interest money always wins out. That’s what we’re worried about! That is what we’re challenging Obama on – because that is not the change we voted for.

I guess the president and his staff think they’re clever because they played the same old Washington game a little better. I guess they think they couldn’t have done any better. I guess they think that this is the best they could do given the state of Washington. But that’s the whole point. We didn’t elect them to accept the Washington status quo as reality. We elected them to challenge and ultimately change that reality. And it seems like, on that count, they didn’t even try. That’s what we’re so disappointed by.

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Why Does Fox News Have More Power Than Any Progressive in the Country?

9:33 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

If the firing of Shirley Sherrod was the first time they had done this, then all of the criticism they have received might be a bit much. But as we have learned from this incident (which the rest of us already knew, with the apparent exception of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart), context matters. We’ve seen the rest of the tape on the Obama administration and it isn’t pretty.

Van Jones, ACORN, Dawn Johnsen, Shirley Sherrod. First sign of trouble, throw someone overboard. When they fired Van Jones, I said they were only encouraging Fox. But that wasn’t some genius prediction; it was only the most obvious thing in the world. Do you think the bully won’t take your lunch money tomorrow if you give it to him today?

Since this seems so obvious, why can’t the supposedly brilliant guys in the Obama administration figure it out? Why can’t they see it’s such a bad idea to keep giving in to Fox and bowing their heads? It’s so bad now, they’re bragging about their efficiency in genuflecting. Jim Messina, Deputy Chief of Staff, congratulated everyone the day after Sherrod was fired about the speed and agility with which they serviced Fox News. So, what’s the strategy behind what appears to be pathetic cowardice to the rest of us?

The idea is that Fox News is more important than any progressive leader or commentator (or even the majority opinion of progressives throughout the country, as evidenced by polls) because liberals have nowhere to go. So, that’s why you can abuse them, ignore them and even treat them with disdain — and they’ll still vote for you. What are they going to do — vote for Republicans?

That’s why Rahm Emanuel can call them "fucking retarded" and derisively dismiss them on almost every issue. They think there’s no price to pay. Whereas, if they cross Fox, all of Washington will be talking about it. And they’re obsessed with the Washington chatter. And they are under the grossly mistaken impression that the country gives a shit about what Fox says.

In Washington, Fox News is very important and you get judged by how quickly you handle the media maelstroms they create. That’s viewed as a barometer of how well you handle "bad news cycles." So, the rest of the Washington press corps judges you by how quickly you drop to your knees to end the "bad news cycle." Congratulations Obama administration, you’re now professionals!

But even more importantly, there is this insane belief that Fox News can swing centrists, which are the critical voters who decide elections. There is not a shred of evidence to that. In fact, the evidence shows that there is no audience in the country that is more deeply conservative and politically immovable.

Plus, the average age of Bill O’Reilly’s audience is 71 years old. The guy is doing a show out of a senior citizen’s center and Obama thinks he rules the world.

The only real damage that Fox can do is if they spread their poison to other news stations. That is why it’s so imperative to label them what they are — a conservative propaganda station (not that there’s anything wrong with that). They’re just not news. And they couldn’t have proved it any better than they did in this case. And what did the Obama administration do with this golden opportunity? They turned it into a massive loss. Who is fucking retarded now?

But the more important miscalculation is that liberals have nowhere to go. They do have somewhere to go — home. They can sit on their couch on election day, which according to the polling is exactly what they’re going to do. When a Bloomberg poll (pdf, Page 7) asked all voters which party they favored, it was a tie. When they asked likely voters, Republicans were up by eight points. Who’s fucking retarded now?

It’s high time that we stop giving the Obama administration credit for being some sort of genius tacticians. Maybe it was all David Plouffe. But one thing is for sure, they seem to have no idea what they’re doing politically and Fox News is handing them their ass on a daily basis. Glenn Beck came on after the Sherrod story became fully known and said that Obama shouldn’t have fired her. Don’t you get it, you feckless clowns, they’re going to criticize you no matter what you do? You cannot appease them. You must isolate and delegitimize them.

I understand the Obama team is playing the old Washington games and think they’re very clever at it. But those games don’t work anymore. Bad news cycles are not created by genuine mistakes anymore, they’re artificially created by Fox News channel. You can’t make them go away by giving into them. You’re just feeding the beast. And more importantly, you’re starving your own side.

It isn’t about fighting Fox News to make yourself feel better. It’s about ignoring their silly attacks so you can actually bring us the progressive change you promised. Otherwise, we would be retarded to come and vote for you again.

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Why Washington is More Right-Wing Than the Rest of the Country

2:55 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

We recently had John Avlon on the program and he is a devout "centrist." That used to mean that you were somewhere on the political spectrum between the left and the right. It now means that you set up false equivalencies between the left and the right and call everything even no matter what.

I’m an actual centrist. I used to be a liberal Republican from the North East. Of course, no such thing exists anymore. I’m against affirmative action. I’m a deficit hawk (except I believe we should balance the budget by not just cutting "entitlements" but also by cutting the Pentagon and raising taxes). I was for the Persian Gulf War but against the Iraq War. I am against Bush or Obama violating civil liberties or abusing executive authority.

So, in the country I’m right in the middle of the political spectrum. There is hardly a national poll that doesn’t agree with my political position. Hence, I am now considered a raging liberal in Washington. Apparently, I am so far left now that Obama is significantly to the right of me.

How does that make sense? It doesn’t, in any place outside of DC. But what’s maddening is that no one acknowledges two things: 1. How far to the right of the country Washington is. 2. How far the political spectrum has moved to the right.

Why is Washington more right-wing than the rest of the nation? Because that’s where power and the establishment reside. Power is by nature conservative — it wants to protect its current privileged position. That’s not nefarious, it’s natural. But not acknowledging that is silly. The establishment loves the status quo, because that’s what got them their current position. Why would they want to change that?

And how can anyone consider themselves a political analyst and not see how far to the right we have moved as a country? Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex. If he had said that now, people would say he’s weak on national security and doesn’t support the troops. And he was a Republican. Truman ran on single payer healthcare — Obama wouldn’t even consider that. Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency. Reagan sold arms to terrorists, negotiated with the evil empire, raised taxes eleven times, ran from Lebanon. Are you absolutely sure that Obama is to the left of Reagan?

Watch this debate with John Avlon, the author of Wingnuts, How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, and see if you really think there is such a thing as the hard left in this country and whether they are anywhere near as extreme as the hard right:

One other thing that we touched on in this conversation was the idea of corporatism. Being against corporatists doesn’t mean you’re anti-business. There is this absurd myth that liberals are anti-business. What does that mean? Liberals don’t want there to be any more businesses? Does anyone really believe that? Liberals, centrists and conservatives have no problem with business as long as they are not taking our taxpayer money!

Do conservatives want trillions of taxpayer money going to Wall Street banks? My understanding was that they hated the bailouts. Do conservatives want taxpayers rather than BP to pay for the clean up of the oil spill in the Gulf? Well, I hope not.

Maybe some of the conservative leaders who take money from oil companies want that to happen — but that’s the whole point. The politicians aren’t working for us anymore, liberals or conservatives. They are not driven by ideology. They’re driven by whoever pays them, which is the lobbyists. Seventy percent of campaign contributions come from corporations. Now who do you think the politicians are going to work for?

Being against corporate control of our democracy shouldn’t be a liberal position. It should be a universal position. It’s not that multi-national corporations are evil, it’s just that they’re amoral. They are unconcerned with American taxpayers or citizens; they are concerned only with profits. That is what they have to be by law. It’s absurd to argue otherwise.

Yet, the conventional wisdom in DC is that people who are worried about corporatist influence on American politics are far left crazies. They’re not crazy, they’re awake. And they’re not even liberals, they’re every American who is sick of their politicians being bought by the highest bidder. That’s all of us, except the "centrists" in DC.

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