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Was Jared Loughner’s Act Political?

2:44 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

Was Jared Loughner’s act in shooting Rep. Giffords political? Apparently this is what’s being debated with a straight face now. Is this a joke? He shot a politician in the head. He called it an “assassination.” What part of that was unclear?

He didn’t shoot Gabrielle Giffords randomly and it turned out she just happened to be a politician. He sought her out, targeted her and then tried to kill her based on the fact that she was a politician. He thought the government was the problem and it was unresponsive to his psychotic demands on grammar and currency.

So, is Loughner a psycho? Obviously. And that’s not just because he shot all of those innocent people, but also because it is abundantly clear from his writings and videos that he has significant mental issues.

But why does the act have to be either psychotic or political? It’s obviously both. It was a psychotic act driven by his political beliefs. What’s so hard to understand about that?

Then, the next question is whether both sides are equally at fault. Again, I’m confused by this question. What the hell did the Democrats or liberals do here? Nothing, except get shot. How can the media possibly attach false equivalency to this? Are the Democrats equally culpable for getting shot as the conservatives are for shooting them?

Loughner shot a Democrat. Gee, I wonder which side he was on? He hated the government and thought they were out to get us. Gee, I wonder which side he was on?

I thought conservatives said liberals love big government. But now some have the audacity to claim Loughner was a liberal. But if one thing is obvious from Loughner’s political writings, it was that he hated the government. So, which one is it — do liberals love or hate the government?

Come on, this is all a smoke screen to make sure people don’t see what’s going on here. In the last two years, there have been dozens of attacks and shootings aimed at government officials and political organizations. Every single one of them was directed at liberals, Democrats or the government. Now we’re to believe that’s the world’s largest coincidence?

The conservative hate-mongers don’t create psychos. We get that there will always be disturbed individuals out there. But the right-wing directs these lunatics to a source. They channel their fear, anger and paranoia — and they point them toward the Democrats. They use them as hate seeking missiles.

They load them up them up with violent imagery, whether it’s talk of cross-hairs or second amendment remedies or the tree of liberty being refreshed with blood. Then when they get a violent reaction they pretend to be surprised and outraged that anyone would suggest they were the least bit culpable. The reality is that it is a simple formula — violence in, violence out. Violent imagery in, violent results out.

If pretending this isn’t political or that somehow it is both-sided doesn’t work (which they shouldn’t worry about because so far it has worked perfectly in white-washing their culpability in the media), then they say it’s political exploitation to point out what they have done.

How the hell are we supposed to point out the problem if we can’t mention the issue for fear of being charged with political exploitation? Would it be exploiting the tragedy of the BP oil spill to point out that maybe we should be a little careful about oil drilling? Or are we not supposed to make the most obvious points so that we don’t offend the other political side’s delicate sensibilities?

You know who exploited a tragedy for political gain? George W. Bush and the entire Republican Party. They used 9/11 as a gimmick to get re-elected. Then they exploited it to attack a random country that had nothing to do with 9/11. It is nearly impossible to exploit a tragedy anymore than they did with 9/11. And maybe that’s why they level the charge against us now, because they know that’s the first thing they’d do.

But pointing out that conservative commentators and politicians have been inciting their followers isn’t done to get anyone elected. I don’t even know whose election this would theoretically effect. This isn’t done to press some policy agenda (again, outside of gun control, I can’t even think of what agenda we are supposed to theoretically be pushing for). This is to point out an obvious fact that is getting people killed — if you incite violence, you get violence.

To pretend that isn’t happening all across the country everyday on talk radio, etc. is to be willfully blind to reality — and to allow it to happen again. And trust me, next time they’ll also say no one could have seen it coming and that whatever we do we mustn’t talk about it. Preventing another tragedy like this would be such terrible exploitation. Better to be quiet and let them do it again.

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I didn’t think these clarifications were necessary, but apparently they are for some. So, here it goes.

  1. I am not saying all conservatives are responsible. I got an e-mail from a conservative saying I am blaming him for breathing. I am not blaming him at all (unless he had a national platform and talked about “targeting” liberals, Democrats, etc.), let alone for breathing.
  2. I don’t believe the proper remedy is limiting anyone’s freedom of speech. I never suggested that. In fact, I am sure if anyone passed such a law, not only would it be unconstitutional, but it would be almost exclusively used against the left.

    Of course, I don’t mind Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin attacking Democrats. That’s their job. I am asking them to use some caution in how they frame their attacks and not to use violent imagery that eggs people on.

    On the show, I was very specific on what kinds of language I was referring to (I also have a link in the story above to examples). Here is the video where I list some of the examples of conservatives using violent imagery.

  3. I don’t think that Jared Loughner necessarily listened to an episode of the Glenn Beck show and then went and did this (although others, like Byron Williams did specifically do just that). I am saying that these conservative leaders are purposely creating an environment in which this type of violence festers.
  4. Lastly, I am not saying that these conservative leaders celebrated this news or wanted this specific outcome. I assume they are still human. But they knew, or should have known, that they were creating the environment that led to this kind of violence — and they didn’t give a damn.

What did you think was going to happen when you kept telling people to grab their guns, the government was endangering their family and way of life and that they should defend themselves? This was going to happen. Don’t pretend otherwise.

Ann Coulter vs. Sarah Palin

8:30 pm in Politics, Republican Party by Cenk Uygur

I recently interviewed Chris Barron of GOProud, a gay conservative organization that believes that the Republican Party is welcoming of gay Americans. The issue was that some prominent conservative organizations were boycotting the largest conservative conference in the country because they allowed GOProud to attend. Seems very welcoming.

The interview was heated (you can see it here). I think it is absurd to vote Republican if you’re gay. The party ran their whole campaign against gay Americans in 2004 and 2006 — and bragged about it. The GOP just overwhelmingly voted against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And there are only a million other examples of how Republicans are against every gay rights issue. Of course a gay person can be conservative on economic issues or on foreign policy, but to say you’re going to vote for a party that hates you is beyond irrational.

Well, apparently Ann Coulter doesn’t agree. She watched the interview, then tweeted:

Though I’m flattered that Ann thought it was a great video, there seems to be another issue here. Coulter called me a “retarded person.” Now, I am not the least bit bothered by that. In fact, I am greatly amused at Coulter challenging anyone else’s intelligence or cognitive abilities. But I do know someone who should be steaming mad about this — Sarah Palin.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

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. . . .

Read the rest of this entry →

The Problem With Elena Kagan Is Barack Obama

2:38 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

I have no idea what kind of Justice Elana Kagan is going to be, and almost no one else does either. She might be a terrific progressive or she might move the Court to the right, as some fear. My problem with her isn’t her stated positions, as she doesn’t have very many.

My problem with her is my problem with Obama. Cheney and Bush moved the ball 80 yards down-field, whether that was on executive power, warrantless wiretapping, pre-emptive wars or just about any other issue you can think of. And Obama’s bold and brilliant response is to move the ball 10 yards in the opposite direction. Not good enough. Not remotely good enough.

His every action drips of conciliation, compromise, gradualism and incrementalism. The conservatives take miles of ideologically territory and convert it into the status quo. Then Obama brags about converting inches back. This isn’t change we can believe in. This is pocket change.

So, when conservatives yelled at him about trying Gitmo detainees in civilian courts, his instinct was to back down. When they yelled at him for giving detainees Miranda rights, he is now on the verge of backing down. When they yelled at him about foreign wars, he escalated them. When they yelled at him about the $50 billion "bailout" fund in the financial reform bill, he asked to take it out. When they yelled at him about offshore oil drilling, he gave them more. How did that turn out?

Did you know that after Joe Wilson yelled out "You lie!" on the issue of how immigrants would be treated in the healthcare bill, they quietly gave into him and changed that provision? Is there anything that this guy can’t get bullied on? Well, of course, there is. Everything from the left.

So, that brings us to Elana Kagan. Bush picked arguably the two most conservative judges in the country to fill his Supreme Court vacancies. He easily shoved it down the throat of the Democrats. What has been Obama’s response – let me pick a centrist!

He can’t help himself. He loves establishment players. Look at nearly all of his appointments. Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke. These are the pillars of the establishment. What kind of change is this? He nominated for the head of the Fed the same exact guy who helped destroy our economy for George W. Bush. He can’t help himself. He is a politician through and through, and he desperately wants the approval of those around him. And those around him now are the power players in Washington.

So, we get the blank slate of Elena Kagan, with almost no record to speak of, except her affinity for executive power. Joy. Could she turn into a lion of progressivism? Sure. But why do we have to hope against hope on that? Why can’t we get a progressive Justice if we elected a progressive president? Because the ugly truth is that we didn’t elect a progressive president.

Obama (and Rahm Emanuel) are going to love it if progressives attack Kagan. They will brandish that as a signal that they are soooo centrist. They will crow to their Washington reporter friends that they are being attacked from the left and brag about how much credibility that gives them. And when they win this nomination (non)fight, they will declare victory again, as if they accomplished some major objective. No one loves beating up progressives and winning easy battles in DC more than this administration.

My guess is that at some future date this article will be misinterpreted to say that I argued against Elena Kagan. Except for executive power (where I am as progressive as anyone in the country), I am a judicial moderate. Kagan might wind up being exactly my kind of justice. And so far, Sonia Sotomayor has been great – and Obama picked her (which some will argue is evidence to "trust" him again). My point isn’t that Kagan is terrible or can’t do the job. My point isn’t that Obama secretly wants to pick a conservative (or a progressive, as his defenders would claim). My point is that Obama has no intention of burning up political capital (according to his perception) by publicly standing up and fighting for for his own so-called side and will defer to the center or right-wing given any opportunity to do so. And this is another example of that.

Elena Kagan – safe, no record, never challenged power in any meaningful way, never stood up for progressive ideology, beloved by the establishment in Washington – the perfect Obama candidate. I’m tired of it. The ball is down against our own goal line and the guy thinks he just scored a touchdown.

He is never going to throw the ball down the field. If you like two yard pick-ups by a running-back going straight up the middle, you’ll love Obama. It’s the Eddie George presidency. What he doesn’t seem to get is that the other side is eventually going to get the ball back and then it won’t seem like a major accomplishment that we went from our own two-yard line to our own twelve-yard line. It’ll be viewed as a tremendous disappointment.

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Jesse Ventura: MSNBC Tried to Shut Me Up

4:06 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

When it came to the topic of the media though, Gov. Ventura had an inside look on a conspiracy that was out in the open – MSNBC’s effort to shut down all voices against the Iraq War. The way they took Phil Donahue and Ashleigh Banfield off the air because of their views on the Iraq War is well documented. Now, Ventura explains his experience with MSNBC at the time:

Ventura: Well, the great example is myself. When I came out of office, I was the hottest commodity out there. I was the voice of the independent. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox got in a bidding war for me. MSNBC won. I went to do my show, they were putting together a five-day-a-week show for me, and then all of a sudden, a phone call came to one of my subordinates, and they said, "Is it true that the Governor doesn’t support the war in Iraq?" This was right before, as the Iraq war was going on, getting ready to hype up. And they said no. There was a deafening pause at the other end. They said, "Does New Jersey know about this?" And the person said, "I don’t know." And then they said, "Is there a chance he’d change his mind?" And this person that worked with me four years at the Capitol, he said, "I don’t think so." Because he said, the Governor’s pretty staunch when he gets, you know, you’d really have to sway him. And the war ain’t gonna sway him. Well, it turned out they wouldn’t put me on the air. They paid me for all three years, they pulled my show, and I sat and collected paychecks and I couldn’t say anything because my contract said I couldn’t do any cable nor any news shows for three years. Yeah.

Uygur: That’s really interesting because that’s exactly what they did to Ashleigh Banfield. When she made the speech against the Iraq War, they literally put her in a closet and paid the rest of her contract so she couldn’t talk to anyone else.

Ventura: Yep. And they did it also, if you recall, to Phil Donahue.

Uygur: That’s right.

Ventura: They had just hired Phil. Phil was their highest-rated show when they pulled him. Have you ever heard of a network pulling its highest-rated show? Never. And remember, this was at the time that MSNBC was trying to be Fox Lite. They weren’t liberal like they are now.

Uygur: Right. So, you know, I remember they put out a story at the time saying that you wanted to do the show from Mexico and that that’s why they didn’t want to do it.

Ventura: That’s a complete lie. All I did was I said the show, I wanted to do the show from Minneapolis because… And my reasoning was this. Not only was it my home and I didn’t want to relocate, and I had the power to do it, but second, I told them, look, all these shows take place on the East Coast and the West Coast. Why not get a Midwestern perspective for a change?

Uygur: So, but then what happened there? Because you know, MSNBC…

Ventura: They wouldn’t put me on because of my opposition to the Iraq War.

Uygur: I hear you, but so then MSNBC, you think, is not putting you on, and not putting all those people on because they’re against the Iraq War, but now their primetime, at least, not their morning but their primetime is progressive. So what do you think changed?

Ventura: Ratings. They finally realized they were never going to beat Fox, so then they made… Well, if you saw, when Keith Olbermann first came on, he was conservative. Then all of a sudden he made an about face 180 degrees and became a liberal.

Uygur: I’m sure he would contest that.

Ventura: Well, he might contest it, but at the moment he was hired, they were still a conservative station.

Get the full interview and transcript here.

The fact that MSNBC did this is fairly indisputable. The question is why? This is the same MSNBC that conservatives now claim is completely liberal (apparently a three hour block of conservative programming in the morning doesn’t count). Of course, there was a management change so that made a huge difference. But why did MSNBC care so much about shutting down opposition to the war back then? Have those executives at the time been held accountable enough? Have they ever explained whether they got direction from further up the management ladder at GE?

If there was real, independent media in this country, wouldn’t they be asking those questions? Maybe part of the problem is that everyone else in television did the same thing. Is Fox News going to complain about the media shutting down opposition to the Iraq War? Does CNN have clean hands? What did they do to voice dissenting opinions at the time? How about ABC? NBC? CBS? Any of them?

Ironically, MSNBC now employs the only people that might ask such questions on television. So, there goes that. Finally, isn’t that an amazing fact in and of itself? That MSNBC now has the only hosts in all of television that could challenge the media to not blindly support more wars? What happened to fair and balanced? Where is this so-called liberal media? All I see is a wall of conservative media organizations that helped to push us into wars before — and will do it again.

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