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Bin Laden Dead – War Was Not the Answer

5:19 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

A lot of people will make the point today that we should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible now that our top goal of going over there has been accomplished. This comes, ironically, eight years to the day after President Bush declared Mission Accomplished in regard to Iraq — and can anyone remind me what that mission was?

We declared two wars to target Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. They were in Afghanistan and Iraq. We killed bin Laden in Pakistan.

The idea that Iraq had anything to do with Osama bin Laden and the attacks against this country was comical and tragic at the same time. Now that we have killed bin Laden in Pakistan, can we ask the incredibly wrong neo-cons what Iraq had to do with 9/11 again? And will they apologize for leading us into Iraq when it turns out we were right, the enemy was many countries away?

But that’s obvious, though it will not be mentioned enough today. So, let’s talk about Afghanistan. Yes, we did chase bin Laden from there initially — about ten years ago. But since then we have been fighting a senseless war with the Taliban and God knows who else, when we knew or suspected that bin Laden was in Pakistan. So, what did all of those nearly pointless campaigns in different parts of Afghanistan accomplish when Osama bin Laden was sitting in a house in the suburbs of Pakistan’s capital?

Bottom line — endless war didn’t work. In the end, we found the man who authorized the attacks on 9/11 through good intelligence work and killed him with a very small, targeted strike with our best trained forces. We didn’t use an army battalion or a surge or huge ground troops backed up by Abrams tanks. It was a surgical strike pulled off by a small unit. Imagine if we had invaded Pakistan instead to accomplish our objective (they were only nominally cooperating with us — he was sitting right outside their capital). How little sense would that have made? Just about as much sense as the other wars made — not much at all.

War is the wrong strategy when fighting terrorism. Whether it was our tactical strike against an Al Qaeda leader in Somalia or this tactical strike in Pakistan, it’s obvious what the much better strategy is compared to big, lumbering, incredibly costly and casualty heavy wars that we have started in the past. I hope we learn from our mistakes and our successes.

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New Poll Confirms Country is Clearly Progressive

6:52 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

New poll out indicates that the country is clearly, massively, overwhelmingly progressive. While they talk about cutting so-called entitlement programs in Washington, the American people have completely different priorities.

When asked what’s the first thing they would do to balance the budget, Americans had an unmistakably clear answer — raise taxes on the rich. It came in number one by a mile, with a whopping 61 percent.

If that wasn’t progressive enough, cutting defense spending came in number two, with 20 percent.

And if all of that wasn’t clear enough, when asked about cutting Medicare, only 4 percent were in favor of it. Only 3 percent wanted to cut Social Security as a way to balance the budget.

I thought the country was center-right? That’s what all of the pundits tell us 24/7 on television. What happened now? Do those answers look center-right to you? They look decidedly center-left to anyone with a pulse.

Washington is going to hate this news because they were just getting ready to cut people’s Social Security. That’s what the president’s Deficit Commission suggested. That’s what all of the Republicans are massively in favor of. That’s what a lot of the Democrats are already saying is “necessary.” All the meanwhile, they just gave a $407 billion tax cut to the richest people in the country.

Well, apparently the American people disagree with Washington’s priorities. If the Democrats, Republicans and the president persist in trying to cut Social Security in the face of these numbers, then we will know that we have lost our democracy altogether. That the people in power couldn’t give a damn what we want. That the take over of the American government by the corporations, the rich and the powerful is complete.

Every time you hear any politician or pundit say we have to cut Social Security or what they derisively call entitlement programs (you paid into them your whole life, that is why you are “entitled” to them), send them this poll. And ask them why they don’t care at all about the will of the American people.

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GOP Not Allowed to Talk About the “Will of the Public”

10:19 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

John Boehner can’t stop talking about the “will of the public” these days. Now that the Republicans have won the House, he keeps saying over and over that the Democrats must go along with Republican plans from now on because they have to listen to the… will of the public.

Well, here’s what I don’t remember — the Republicans giving a damn about the will of the public after the 2008 elections. The American people spoke as loudly and clearly as I have ever seen in any election in my lifetime. They gave the House and the Senate by overwhelming margins to the Democrats. They also gave the Democrats the White House, and along with it, complete control of Washington. And did the Republicans listen to the will of the public, then? No, they blocked that will at every turn.

So, you’ll excuse me now if I’m not buying the sudden increased interest the GOP has in listening to the American people and the results of an election. They never for one second respected the results of the 2008 election. They didn’t give a damn what the American people wanted.

And that’s their right as the opposition party, but they don’t get to pretend now that they respect the results of an election and take it as a mandate to go in a certain political direction. And the Democrats would be damned fools if they fell for that trick.

By the way, the GOP has a funny definition of what the American people want. Here is the popularity, according to recent polls, of the different pieces of legislation they just opposed:

  1. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — 77%
  2. START Treaty — 67%
  3. Dream Act — 54%
  4. Tax Cuts for Only the Middle Class and Not the Rich — 67%
  5. 9/11 Responders Bill — 99% (no polling on this, but who on God’s green earth was against this)

By the way, the Obama administration has been given tremendous credit by the media for passing three out of five of these priorties. Really? Not one of the things they got through had popularity less than 67%. In fact, they conceded to the Republicans on an issue where they had two-thirds of the country behind them (no tax cuts for the rich).

The Republicans certainly don’t get any credit for these bills passing despite their best efforts. In fact, they opposed these universally popular proposals — and defeated some of them. And they spent the last two years completely and utterly ignoring the will of the voters. So, the next time they come with that nonsense line, someone should shove the real truth down their throats.

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Is it Time for Democrats to Fight Obama?

2:13 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

You want to hear something really depressing? If John McCain had won the presidency, there is almost no chance he could have gotten the Bush tax cuts extended for the rich. Think about it. How was a Republican president going to get an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate and House to pass those tax cuts that they hated under Bush?

No, only a Democratic president could get a Democratic Congress to agree to tax cuts for the rich. So, in this sense, progressives are worse off for having a Democratic president than a Republican one.

Then, at least we would have known who we were fighting. Remember, Bush could barely, barely get these same tax cuts passed when the Republicans controlled both the Senate and the House!

Funny how the rich and powerful win no matter who is in charge and what party they claim to be from. And think about how much the political spectrum has shifted to the right that Bush had to use reconciliation and then barely got the tax cut through a Republican Congress whereas now a Senate with basically 59 Democrats just passed the same tax cuts with ease. Washington has fallen off a right-wing cliff and the media hardly noticed.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said this about the estate tax provision:

“We had the president–George W. Bush–we couldn’t get it done then and we’re getting it done here.”

Ouch. Their victory is so overwhelming that the Republicans are brazenly bragging about how they couldn’t even get Bush to do what Obama has done for them.

Finally, you have to ask why Democrats who were willing to fight Bush are crumbling in front of Obama? He claims to be the leader of your party, but honestly who cares? If he is doing the exact opposite of what you claim to stand for, why does it matter what he calls himself?

Democrats would certainly have fought a surge in Afghanistan if Bush was in charge. They would be complaining about warrantless wiretapping if Bush continued that program instead of Obama. They would have hated the monopoly that drug companies got in the health care legislation (because they went nuts over it when Bush made the same deal). And they would have gone apoplectic over these huge tax cuts for the rich. But under Obama, the defense contractors, the rich and the powerful have gotten almost everything they wanted and nary a peep was heard from the Democrats in Congress.

Here is the new memo – fight him, he’s not on your side.

When I asked Rep. Jim McDermott some of these questions last night, he seemed at a loss for what to do next. You can feel his frustration and confusion as to how we got here with a Democratic president. Here are some of his quotes:

“Well, I think a lot of us are, in the caucus, we’re not quite sure why this is happening. It doesn’t make political sense what he did, and it doesn’t make economic sense.”

“I think that we are in serious trouble because the president simply does not seem willing to go after some things that I think he’s going to have to if he’s going to get anything done for the people of this country. He simply has, in my view, given up the willingness to fight for economic justice in this country.”

“I think it’s going to take us a while to get over what’s happened here, and I really think… it is very hard to think how you’re going to deal with the next round here, because the president has now shown that he can be bullied, and I don’t want my president to be bullied.”

“And I think he… we would be all much better if we were able to say, you know, that we’re not going to back down, and that there’s no excuse for us giving up like this. I mean, that’s the hard part for me, is that it’s giving up without a fight.”

“[W]hen you start giving in on the kinds of things he’s giving in on, you really worry that there is no way back from that. And I’m, I mean, that’s why I said it was… this was Gettysburg, because it really is… that was the turning point in the war. And it really is a question of how you continue to rally your troops if you keep giving in on things that people really care about.”

Until you get to a point where you’re not sure he has the same idea of what “people really care about.” He might have a different idea, a Republican idea. Or at the very least, a Washington idea of what people care about – so-called centrist compromises that somehow always benefit the establishment.

To watch the interview click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2dida2x3Sw

The Hidden Cost of Capitulation

2:27 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

Now that the president has signaled yet another collapse in agreeing to tax cuts for the rich, there is a hidden cost to this capitulation. He is now stuck defending this deal for the rest of his term. I predicted this on the show yesterday and today it’s playing out exactly the way I imagined, with the president sending out advisers to talk about what a great idea it is to give tax cuts to the rich.

Once you sign off on a political position, you own it. This could be a corollary to Colin Powell’s doctrine on foreign policy. Powell said if you break it, you own it. In this case, if you make it, you own it.

The president claims he will fight hard against these same tax cuts two years from now. It’s hard to stop laughing long enough to make a point against that, but I will try. If you are sending out your people to talk up polls about how the right the Republicans were on the tax cuts for the rich now, how are you going to send out the same people to talk about how wrong they were – and how wrong you were – two years from now?

These are the things that make me wonder if President Obama has a firm grasp on basic political fundamentals. Yesterday he said that the political reality is that he just didn’t have the votes in the Senate (by far his favorite excuse). He even said “I can’t win” in the Senate. That’s a damning reversal for a man who ran on “Yes we can.”  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Is Barack Obama Stupid?

5:49 pm in Government, Politics by Cenk Uygur

New CBS News poll out confirms every other poll we’ve seen on the topic – the American people are solidly against tax cuts for the rich.

53% of respondents said there should only be tax cuts for the middle class and no tax cuts for people making over $250,000. That’s the number most people in the media are using, but that’s not quite accurate. Another 14% said they don’t want tax cuts for anybody, including the top bracket. So, the reality is that an overwhelming 67% of the country don’t want tax cuts for the rich (including 52% of Republican voters!). Only 26% said that everyone should get a tax cut, including the rich.

So, let’s do the math for people who are a little slow. That’s 67% to 26%. That’s a crushing 41% lead. If it was an election, that margin would be so large they would think it was rigged. The group that doesn’t want tax cuts for the rich is more than two and half times the group that does.

If that weren’t enough, there is an internal memo being sent around to Democrats on the Hill by Anzalone Liszt Research that shows that 77% of Americans would let the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire if the extra money went toward helping small businesses and balancing the budget. 77%!!!

Now, as a politician, how stupid do you have to be on the other side of this issue?  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Why Can’t We Be the Job Creators?

9:10 pm in Government by Cenk Uygur

Civilian Conservation Corp workers in east Washington State during the 1930s - paid by the U.S. Government. (photo: Pictoscribe via Flickr)

The Republicans always use the excuse that we have to give the rich huge tax cuts because they are the “job creators.” Of course, the reality is that giving tax cuts to the rich is the very worst way of getting more money into the economy. The multiplier effect for tax cuts for the wealthy is the lowest of almost any stimulative program the government can try.

Plus, if they are creating jobs, it isn’t here. The money is flowing out of the country and into developing markets at an incredible rate. Between 2002 and 2008, the Bush tax cuts equaled $1.3 trillion. The amount of money leaving the United States in the form of investment in developing countries in that same time period — $1.9 trillion. It can be argued that all of the tax cuts to the rich went out of the country and then some (of course, it’s a little more complicated than that but obviously a huge portion of the extra money went into investment abroad).

So, if jobs are being created through tax cuts it’s probably in Shanghai or Mumbai. So, the Republican answer now is to give … more tax cuts to the rich. They want to give $700 billion in tax cuts to the top bracket over the next ten years. I have a revolutionary idea instead.

How about instead of giving the money to the rich and hoping that they create jobs, we just create the jobs! Imagine what we could build and how much good we could do for the country if we used that extra $700 billion to actually hire people directly. Imagine how many jobs that could create.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Cutting Social Security is the New TARP

1:15 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

Politicians who signed off on TARP lived to regret the day they did (especially Republican ones, just ask Bob Bennett and Mike Castle). Those votes will haunt the congressmen who supported the bailouts for years to come. That’s the same exact thing that’s going to happen to politicians who sell out the middle class by agreeing to cut Social Security.

Sign our Petition telling the President not to touch Social Security HERE

The chairmen of the Deficit-Reduction Commission just released a report that recommends that we cut benefits for current retirees by 3 to 6% and eventually raise the retirement age to 69. Why not make it 89 while you’re at it? At that point, Social Security will be completely solvent forever because only three people will live long enough to collect it. Remember, it’s not just that you can’t retire till later, it’s that you don’t get benefits for those extra two to four years – that’s a huge cut of your Social Security.

Plus, to add insult to injury they also propose to cap Medicare. Some worry this might even lead to rationing. This helps because the cuts to Social Security didn’t hurt enough.

These are all non-starters. Social Security currently has a $2.5 trillion surplus. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying. They have created a fake crisis about Social Security not being able to pay full benefits by 2037. So, the answer is to shred benefits now? How does that help?  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

How’d That Bipartisanship Thing Work Out For You?

5:58 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

I’d like to ask all of the people who thought trying to reach out to Republicans in a bipartisan manner would be a good idea — Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama in particular — how’d that work out for you?

Could the effort at bipartisanship over the last two years have been a bigger disaster? The Democrats allowed the Republicans to make their case for two straight years while Democrats laid down their arms. And it turns out the voters didn’t know why they should vote for the Democrats. Surprise, surprise.

The Republicans on the other hand went with complete and utter partisanship — and it worked! If the Obama White House trusts one more idiot in Washington who says they should try reaching consensus with the Republicans, then they deserve the ass kicking they’ll get next time around, too.

We had a Republican strategist on our show tonight and with incredibly honesty he admitted that the idea of “bipartisanship” is something that only benefits Republicans because they never really engage in it and they get the Democrats to do what they want (you can watch it here at the 6:39-7:48 mark). How stupid do you have to be to keep falling into that trap?

I guess as stupid as Mark Penn, who of course predictably calls for Obama to do just that — again — for the next two years. But Penn isn’t stupid (the Democrats aren’t stupid either, they’re just supposed to be the patsies that lose to the Republicans in this big corporate game that’s being played on us). Penn loves the corporatist, pro-Wall Street, Republican policies and is just using the results of this election to push for them as he did when he was running Hillary Clinton’s campaign. How did that work out for him? Oh yeah.

Rush Limbaugh pushed the Republicans to fight and not give an inch to the Democrats. That strategy unfortunately worked. However much you might love the idea of bipartisanship, it has proven to be a terrible political strategy. Exactly as we said in the beginning of the Obama administration, the Republicans had no desire to work with the president on anything. We said the only thing they would want to do is to tear him down. We were right.

That’s the Washington reality. If President Obama doesn’t adjust to that fact and start fighting back, the next two years are going to be brutal.

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Why Are Democrats Going to Lose When They Are More Popular?

1:10 pm in Elections, Politics by Cenk Uygur

There is a fascinating disparity in these 2010 elections. When asked which party will cope better with the issues facing this country over the next couple of years, Democrats win 42-38%. When asked who will handle the economy better, Democrats win 44-37%. When asked which party you approve of more in Congress, Democrats win 36-30%. Yet, they’re about to get wiped out.

Why? Obviously, it has nothing to do with the Republicans because they are the only thing that has lower approval ratings than the Democrats. A gigantic 67% of the country disapproves of the Republicans on Congress (a Congress they’re about to hand them). Nearly every poll shows general disdain for the Republican Party.

So, if it’s not that the voters like the Republican Party or find their answers to our problems particularly appealing (they lose on almost every issue in the polls), what is causing this possibly enormous electoral shift? I think the answer is two-fold.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →