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Vote Against Obama in Iowa

7:03 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a crime against our constitution. It allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens by the military inside the US – without a trial. It’s one of the worst laws ever passed in the US and it passed with nary a peep of opposition. I’m positive that a huge percentage of the population is not even aware of it, partly because the establishment media didn’t even bother covering it.

But it appeared for a while that the one guy fighting against it was President Obama. I was incredibly encouraged by that. I shouldn’t have been. It turned out at the end that he was threatening to veto the bill because he wanted it to have even more executive power, not less. This president has been a disaster for civil liberties. Every time I think about the fact that he used to be a constitutional law professor, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Indefinite detentions, summary executions of US citizens abroad without a trial, warrantless wiretapping and much, much more. All of the things we were outraged Bush did – and then some. Honestly, it makes me feel a little sick that I voted for him. At least, I could say that I fought tooth and nail against Bush.

And civil liberties abuses are the tip of the iceberg in disappointment with this president. Then there is the comedy of financial reform which doesn’t reform a damn thing. There are the zero prosecutions of the top bankers who destroyed our economy through their fraud, took our money and now spit in our face with it. There is the extension of the Bush tax cuts. There is the cave in on nearly every negotiation (the payroll tax cut being the exception that proves the rule (by the way, he “won” on more tax cuts, a profoundly Republican idea)). His crowning achievement of healthcare reform was a proposal originally written by the Heritage Foundation. There isn’t a Republican idea that President Obama didn’t want to cuddle with and adopt as his own.

Now, the argument goes that he might be bad, but the Republicans are worse. Of course. Right now, Newt Gingrich is on the campaign trail arguing that Mitt Romney isn’t kind enough to the rich. I’m not kidding. He is trying to make hay out of the fact that Romney takes capital taxes down to zero percent for only people making below $200,000. Newt thinks that’s discrimination against the rich and he would take it down to zero for everybody. Then he would make your kids clean the rich kids’ toilets in school.

I follow politics for a living; I’m not unaware of how hideous the Republican choices are. But that doesn’t mean that we should pretend that President Obama has been brilliant because we’re scared of the big, bad Republicans. That would be fundamentally dishonest.

And to be honest, I’m really disappointed that he does not have a primary opponent. This country is dying for someone who is going to take on the establishment. Who is that going to be on our side – Barack Obama? On that, I know whether to laugh or cry. Every time I think about the idea that President Obama might be against the establishment, I laugh and laugh and laugh. There is never been a guy who was this enamored with the establishment. If he had wrestling nickname it would be The Establishment.

The guy who appointed Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Larry Summers, Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley (and a list of hundreds of others, including two new Fed appointments, one of which is a Republican who worked for the Carlyle Group) is not a guy who is interested in changing the system at all. Change was a cutesy slogan he used to trick us into thinking he was on our side.

I would have loved a progressive alternative, but apparently we are not going to get one (except for Rocky Anderson running on the Justice Party ticket). Primaries are the perfect place to send a message without taking away votes in the general election. But it didn’t happen because the Democratic establishment says we must fall in line because we wouldn’t want to hurt the agenda of the president. The agenda of the president sucks and is deeply Republican. I’d love to at least get him to reconsider that agenda for a second.

But there is one thing we can do right now that doesn’t really hurt the chances of the president getting re-elected and doesn’t help Republicans one bit. It is an idea that Occupy Iowa came up with. In the Iowa caucuses you can vote for “uncommitted.” In fact, since the 1970′s “uncommitted” has won twice on the Democratic side and it beat Bob Dole in 1980. Of course, the Republican Party has shut down this option on their side. They say you can vote that way in the GOP field but they will not register those votes or send those delegates. Of course, they’re the GOP; they have no interest in your dissent.

But if all of those people were to go and participate on the Democratic side they might have an effect. If “uncommitted” beat President Obama on the Democratic side in Iowa that would make some news. That might even get the attention of The Establishment. So far, he has only responded to right-wing pressure. He is the consummate politician, so if there was actually a little bit of pressure on his left he might have to respond to it, especially during an election season. Wouldn’t it be amazing if President Obama acted like a progressive on some issue because he was worried about the voters?

By the way, this strategy also has the benefit of being accurate. I am “uncommitted” toward Obama. I’m uncommitted from supporting a guy that has walked all over our civil liberties, that thinks tax cuts are the only answer, that gave all of the money to the bankers and asked for nothing in return, that thinks the right-wing establishment has all of the answers. Uncommitted is the kindest word I have.

If you live in Iowa, please send a message to the President for the rest of us. We voted for change last time, apparently you didn’t hear us. If you don’t hear us soon, you might be the one that gets changed.

The Young Turks on Current

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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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 →

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 →

Unilateral Disarmament Has Destroyed the Democrats

5:22 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

President Obama spent the first two years of his administration practicing political unilateral disarmament. He laid down his arms to reach out to Republicans, and they ripped his arms off and clubbed him over the head with them.

This idea of playing patty-cakes with the Republicans is enormously naïve. When is this administration going to get it through their thick skulls that they will never work with you?!

Now, if attempts at bipartisanship had no downside, then of course I’d be in favor of it. As a theoretical matter, trying to reach out to the other side and reach consensus sounds lovely. But it does have a downside. You don’t get to make your own case as you’re playing nice with the other side. They’re hammering you day in and day out, and you keep your powder dry. You know what that ends up in — a massacre.

And that’s exactly where we are now as the Democrats are looking to get slaughtered in 2010. Gallup says the Republicans have a historically large 10-point lead in generic Congressional matchups. The president has gone from a 68% approval rating to the low 40′s. He’s lost nearly 25% of the country in his approval rating. That’s a disaster.

So, the president has fallen and he can’t get up. But more importantly, he can’t figure out why he fell. It’s because you let the Republicans push you down and you never even fought back. You only have two months left — take the f’in gloves off, Queensberry.

Here are how many people you will convince if you don’t argue your side of the argument — absolutely zero. Is the president aware that the Republicans are in the opposition party?

Now, it’s almost too late for this election. Partly because it’s hard to make that turn at this late juncture and because this is something you should have been doing all along so it’s already in people’s heads. But much more importantly, this isn’t about how you campaign; this is about how you govern. He needs to govern with an agenda of change — remember, that’s what he originally campaigned on? He needs to implement his agenda, whatever the hell it is.

Let me be specific. The CBO just came out with great numbers on the stimulus package. They said that it created up to 3.3 million jobs and added 1.7 to 4.5% to the GDP in the last quarter alone. How many Democrats have you heard talking about that? I haven’t heard any. Why?

Because they’re scared of their own shadow. Fox News beat them up on the stimulus package and a poll came out saying people are unsure whether it worked — and that was enough to send the Democrats scrambling. Hey, you know that you might win on that issue — if you actually fought!

I’m not convinced that a second stimulus is the way to go. It would depend on what they spent the money on. But if the president is convinced that we should try it, then he should convince us. If he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions, how the hell are we supposed to believe in them?

They should brag about what they got right, but it’s even more important to lead in the right direction from now on so we can have a reason to get excited about you. If I was the president, I’d nominate Elizabeth Warren, tell the big banks that there’s a new sheriff in town and if they don’t like it, they can eat dirt. Every poll in the country says the American people can’t stand Wall Street — and they’re right.

This isn’t about senseless populism. The big banks did rob us blind through the bailouts (AIG still owes us $178 billion that got funneled to the banks on Wall Street) and they continue to do so with nearly zero percent interest rates (and no lending to businesses in the meanwhile). Is the president going to do anything about it? Of course, not. Because that would make some people mad, and Obama hates that. This is the downside of No Drama Obama. A fight has drama, and a fight is what we need now. Punch them in the mouth. Leave a mark.

If the Democrats keep rolling over and being polite to Republicans because Obama wants to chase the myth of bipartisanship, his four years in office will be a colossal disaster. Here’s what happens when you lay down your arms in any competitive arena, you get your head removed. Pick your arms up, and throw a goddamned punch.

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Fox News Comes Out of the Closet

5:21 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

As I explain here, now that Fox News has come out of the closet, it’s hard to distinguish where Fox News ends and the Republican Party begins:

But there is one more factor here. It’s not just that Fox News has a point of view. Many publications and shows have a certain perspective as well, whether it’s conservative or liberal. It’s that Fox News does propaganda. What’s the difference?

They don’t just have a perspective, they have an agenda. And they drive that agenda until their political goals are met. So, they don’t just do the so-called Ground Zero Mosque story on one or two shows randomly depending on the host’s interests. They all do it. Their talk show hosts do the story. Their so-called news anchors do the story. They do it 24-7 until it spreads to the other cable news stations, and then thereby spreads into the whole media.

That’s not a coincidence, that’s a well thought out strategy. And it works like a charm. So, for example, people are confused as to why the Democrats always seem to get slammed in the summers. That’s because Congress is in recess, there is a news void and Fox fills that void with whatever propaganda they have decided will incite fear and loathing at that time. So, last summer it was death panels and Tea Parties. This summer it’s the "Ground Zero Mosque."

And next summer it’ll be something else, but here are the elements I guarantee it will have – a story that is covered non-stop, an incendiary topic that gets people talking, something that either stokes fear and/or hatred and involves a charge based on almost no facts. That’s the formula. Watch, come back to this article next August and you will see that’s exactly what happened again. The rest of the media is putty in Fox News’ hands. So easy to manipulate and control.

Don’t get me wrong, this happens year around, too. It’s just that the summer is their killing fields because of the dearth of other political stories.

And how about the poor Democrats that are the victims of this propaganda machine? They are so clueless and feckless that it’s almost hard to feel sorry for them. You begin to feel contempt. Is anyone ever going to fight back against this machine? Do you people even know what’s happening to you?

The longer the Democrats and the rest of the media treat Fox News as a legitimate "news station," the longer this will happen. And then everyone will sit around confused about how such a large percentage of the country could think Obama is a Muslim, or that ACORN stole the election for Obama or that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11. They will wonder how these demonstrably false stories could get so much traction. All the while as the Fox News propaganda machine hums in the background.

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Michael Moore: There’s Going to be a Second Crash (And Glenn Beck Can F–k Off)

10:55 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

We interviewed Michael Moore on The Young Turks today and he was not shy about sharing his opinions. Anyone surprised? He had very strong words for the Democratic Party, the state of our political system and Glenn Beck.

What he thinks of Democrats and Republicans:

You know, I tell you, these Democrats are disgusting. Wimps and wusses and weasels. You know, get some spine. This is why I have to admire the Republicans. They at least stand for something. They at least have the courage of their convictions. They get elected to office, they come into town, and they go "Get outta my way, there’s a new sheriff in town. This is the way we’re doing things. Get outta here." And then they do it. You know. I mean what they do is crazy. But dammit, they are good at it. We should take a page out of their book.

Can we fix the broken political and economic system in America?

It’s not going to get fixed. There’s going to be another crash. The commercial real estate bubble hasn’t burst yet. That’s going to burst. The credit card debt is so huge right now, it will never be repaid. That’s a house of cards waiting to fall. So the crash of ’08 is going to look like coming attractions. And we’re in for a much, much worse time.

What he would have said to Glenn Beck if he was in Van Jones place:

Fuck off! That’s what I would have said. But again, you mentioned Glenn Beck, and of course, he’s the guy that’s called for my removal from the planet Earth, so…

Watch the whole interview here:

Read full transcript here.

There’s one thing you know about Michael Moore, he’s going to come strong. Unfortunately, I share his pessimism about the system. But I believe there is hope at the end of that tunnel. And as corny as it sounds, that hope is with the American people. We have to stop letting corporate interests buy our politicians and government officials. Make a change.

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