Cenk Uygur

You Know You're a Bigot When . . .

You know you're a bigot when you can't take out the word "Muslim" from a sentence you stated and replace it with "Jew" and still have it be socially acceptable. Let's start out nice and easy. A sentence I get with great regularity:

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Cenk Uygur on NSA Scandal: ‘Barack Obama is a liar.’

In light of the reports that the National Security Administration has been collecting information from American citizens’ cell phones, Cenk calls out President Obama for false campaign promises to fight terrorism while protecting our privacy and civil liberties. “I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom,” Obama promised in 2008. “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens…that’s not who we are.”

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Noam Chomsky: Obama Would Have Been Called a ‘Moderate Republican’ in Recent Decades

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT, and one of the nation's leading intellectual critics of the US political, corporate and national security apparatus. In this long interview, Cenk Uygur of TYT and Professor Chomsky discuss President Obama, the rightward shift of US politics over the past few decades, drone strikes, the labor movement, Aaron Swartz, the role of the media and what hope we have for the future

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Obama Will Ride to the Rescue ... for Republicans

The Republicans have put themselves in a holy mess with this Plan B debacle. They now have less than zero leverage. They are a national laughingstock. A majority of the country now thinks they are "too extreme." They just got walloped in the election. And with the tax cuts set to expire the laws are rigged against them as well.

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Four Reasons Why the Public Health Care Option is Irrefutable

I'm not a healthcare wonk. Of course, I want the 46 million uninsured Americans to get coverage, but they have not been my primary concern in healthcare reform (even though I have been among the uninsured many times in my life). I have to admit I'm being a bit selfish here because I mainly want to have less expensive health insurance that still gives me decent coverage.

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Obama Makes a Terrible Mistake by Not Releasing Torture Photos

This is an unbelievable moment. Dick Cheney's PR offensive over the last month actually worked. Barack Obama just crumbled and will follow Cheney's command to not release the new set of detainee abuse pictures.

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The Most Racist Comments About Mexicans Ever Allowed On-Air

I am not quick to call something racist. In fact, I wrote an editorial pleading with everyone not to call the NY Post chimp cartoon racist. I went on MSNBC and defended that position. I’m afraid calling someone racist often times shuts off dialogue and should be reserved for only the clearest and worst cases. I also defended Don Imus and insisted he should not be fired for his comments.

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What if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Had Died?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. We practiced sleep deprivation on him for 11 straight days. I don't know how many times we smashed his head against a wall, slapped him in the face, put him in a stress position in a freezing room and/or put him in a coffin sized box in extreme heat. But the right-wing argues that it doesn't matter because none of this is torture. They are adamant in saying that it is not even open to interpretation.

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How the Toxic Asset Plan Will Magically Make Your Money Disappear

Under the Treasury Department's toxic asset proposal, the government puts in 85% of the investment in these assets through a loan given by the FDIC. The Treasury puts in another 7.5% of the money and the private investor contributes the final 7.5%

This is a guaranteed way of transferring money from the American taxpayer to the private investors. Let me show you how.

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When Will We Reach the Tipping Point on Guns?

How many shootings does there have to be in the news before we wonder about the wisdom of allowing just about anyone to get a gun in America? Our gun culture is completely out of control.

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Bush Drops Fake Cowboy Shtick

George Bush bought his "ranch" down in Crawford in 1999 shortly before he started running for president. And now that he's done with politics, he is moving out of there as soon as he possibly can. The Bushes have bought a new home in a tony neighborhood (and until recently a whites-only community) in Dallas. So, what happened to retiring down to the ranch?

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Black Republican Gets Enraged Over Katrina at RNC

The Young Turks have been broadcasting all week long from the Republican National Convention. We have had some really interesting interviews with Duncan Hunter, Heather Wilson, Bob Barr, Sen. Dan Coats, Rep. Bob Latta, Joe Klein, Michael Medved and the list goes on (you can check out a lot of these interviews on our You Tube Channel here).

Although there were great disagreements in many of these interviews, none of them got out of hand ... except one. The founder of HipHopRepublicans.com took exception when I suggested that George Bush might have been late in responding to Hurricane Katrina. He said he was shocked that I would suggest that late response might have cost some people's lives.

He proceeded to knock my mike down and then hit our camera on his way out. He also got within inches of my face as he stood over me.


White House Ordered CIA Forgeries to Wage Iraq War

Think Progress has the full story on Suskind's allegations.

Watch more at www.theyoungturks.com

And check out Cenk's new show: meetthebloggers.org

Senator Russ Feingold on the New FISA Bill

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) talks with Cenk Uygar of The Young Turks about the new FISA bill, which he personally plans to filibuster.

Senator Feingold sits on both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, making him a well informed voice against this disastrous attack on Americans' privacy.

Linguist and Political Powerhouse George Lakoff Talks About His Newest Book

George Lakoff, author of New York Times bestseller Don't Think of an Elephant discusses his latest work, The Political Mind, on The Young Turks.

Who Is the Iraqi Army?

Editor's note: Iraqi newsbloggers report that Badr militiamen are now openly fighting side-by-side with state security forces in Karbala.

Who is the Iraqi Army? That seems like a strange question. What do I mean?

The Bush administration claims the Iraqi Army is a unified force of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds who fight together for the centralized government of Iraq. That's complete nonsense.

In fact, the different divisions of the army are segregated by sect. The so-called Iraqi Army fighting in the south right now is mainly the Badr Corps. This is a rival Shiite militia to Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

The Badr Corps is connected to the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Don't get freaked out, they're theoretically the good guys. Well, at least they are the largest political party in Iraq and the ones we are supporting. Here's the problem -- they're not the good guys at all. They ran death squads and torture chambers out of the Interior Ministry throughout the period of ethnic cleansing in Iraq.

And get this, out of all the parties in Iraq, the one most closely linked to Iran is -- the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and their militia partners in the Badr Corps.

So, who is the Iraqi Army? The ones fighting Sadr's forces right now is the Badr Corps -- a Shiite militia with closer ties to Iran than Sadr.

Why are we backing the most pro-Iranian group inside Iraq? Two possible choices. 1) We don't know our ass from a hole in the ground in Iraq. 2) We don't really believe Iran is a threat to Iraq (or to us).

I understand that this is confusing to the average American. The only reason I understand it is because the preeminent expert on Iraq, Juan Cole, explained it to me in this interview (it's a little long, but in about twenty minutes Prof. Cole explains exactly who is who in Iraq and why our efforts are insanely counterproductive).

So, I'm not frustrated by the fact that the public isn't up on all this. I'm frustrated that our media hasn't even bothered to try to figure it out (by the way, one easy way would have been to do what we did -- ask Prof. Cole). The press has bought into this fiction that we are fighting against Iranian proxies.

Whenever Bush, Cheney or Petraeus says we are being bombed by Iranian backed militias, the press dutifully writes that down and never really questions it. Has anyone confirmed that Sadr is actually getting help from Iran? More importantly, has anyone looked into where the Badr Corps' sympathies lie? When is the last time you even heard of the Badr Corps in the mainstream press?

Has anyone done an investigation into who's in the Iraqi Army? How does it run? Do the Iraqi troops really fell like a unified force? (The best piece I've seen on it is by Nir Rosen in Rolling Stone and he shows clearly that they are nowhere near unified.) Are the divisions mixed or segregated? Where do the different sects patrol? In their own area or in other areas of Iraq? Who controls the Iraqi Army? And what is their purpose?

If you look into these questions, you'll find that the core of the Iraqi Army is simply another Shiite militia. In essence, we are supporting one Shiite militia over another. Worse yet, we're supporting the militia with more ties to Iran.

If you don't believe me, and for some bizarre reason you don't believe Prof. Cole, then by all means, please investigate and find out what's actually going on. In other words, I am encouraging the press to actually do their job.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like it's easy to do reporting out of Iraq. These folks are literally taking their lives into their hands by doing so. But it's one thing to say the situation is unclear. It's another to parrot government talking points because you don't know any better.

The press keeps talking about how they blew it in the lead up to the war, but then they act like they have learned nothing from their mistakes. One of the principal problems before the war was that the media unquestioningly accepted government suppositions as if they were true -- which is exactly what they're doing now.

These basic questions must be answered: Who are we really fighting? What is their goal? Who is on our side? What is their goal? And, oh yeah, what is our goal? Why are we backing one militia over another and how does that serve American interests? And how is any of this leading to "victory" in Iraq? And the one no one bothers to ask anymore - what the hell does victory in Iraq really mean?

This Is Not a Christian Nation

This post, written by Cenk Uygur, originally appeared on The Huffington Post

I am an American.

My name is not Jimmy Johnson, it is not Virgil Goode and it is not John McCain. But I am an American. No more, no less than any of these people.

My name is Cenk Uygur. And I am proud of it. It might sound a little different to your ear, but it doesn't make it any less American. That's the whole point of the country. If I wanted to live in a place where your race, ethnicity or religion mattered, there were plenty of other countries to choose from. I chose to be an American because I believed we were all equals in the eyes of the law.

Apparently, 42 United States Congressmen are not so sure. The House passed a resolution today celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The point of the resolution was to show that we are an open country and that a Muslim-American is equal to any other American. That we are all to be celebrated as Americans. Forty-two representatives couldn't get themselves to agree.

These Congressmen did not vote for the resolution, they voted "present" instead. Is this a silent protest? What are they protesting? Do they disagree that we should celebrate all of the cultures in the country? Do they disagree that we should have Muslims in the country at all?

One of them, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) has already said that on the record -- and refuses to apologize. He said we should have less Muslims in Congress and less Muslims in the country at all. His colleagues didn't see fit to correct him. Moveon takes out a newspaper ad questioning one general and Congress goes ballistic. A US Congressman says we should discriminate against a whole group of US citizens and not a peep.

When John McCain said he wanted a Christian president earlier in the week, I didn't pay much attention to it. I think we overemphasize gaffes on the campaign trail. I care how these people are going to lead the country, not how many errors they make while speaking 24/7 on the campaign trail.

By the way, how did a media so obsessed with verbal blunders decide that George W. Bush was the right man for the job - twice? We were told John Kerry misspoke too often. What a topsy-turvy world we live in.

So, I didn't want to get caught up in this game. At this point, I am unfortunately used to people deriding people of the Muslim faith in America anyway. It has become an ugly reality of our country. It's so common that it's taken for granted now.

A couple of days ago, Ann Coulter was on the Today show and she said the real problem with Senator McCain's comment was that he later said he would vote for a Muslim if he agreed with him. How dare he? Doesn't he realize that a patriotic American would never vote for a Muslim? They are the enemy. They are less than other Americans. They are not equal. This is a Christian nation!

You see, that's what bothers me. I am not a religious Muslim at all. In fact, I am agnostic. I don't participate in Ramadan. I don't need a resolution celebrating it. But once you bring it up for a vote, to purposely not vote for it is a clear sign. It is not a slip of the tongue or a miscommunication in the midst of a hectic campaign schedule. It is a deliberate act meant to send a message. And that's what I do care about. It is a sign that we are not welcome.

The surge just died

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has put the last piece of straw on the poor camel called Iraq. And its back is about to break. The keys to success in Iraq were never military strategies. Everyone knows this, well, except of course for George W. Bush. To be fair, even John McCain knows this -- and he hardly knows what planet he's on lately (he just came back from the planet where Iraq is a really safe place to shop).

Every week we have Michael Hirsh of Newsweek on the show. And every week he explains to us that even if the surge was going to work, it would take eight to ten...

A Quiet American Hero is Gone

We just got news that Maria Leavey passed away this weekend. A lot of you might not know who she is. Maria worked behind the scenes. She was champion of progressive causes, efforts and ideas. She was not some rich benefactor; she was a hard worker who did all the little things that were absolutely essential.

She was one of the people who quietly made up the heart and soul of a movement we all care about.

Maria didn't do it for the glory or the power or the riches. She did it because she truly cared. She believed.

On a personal level, she helped our show in countless ways and countless times. She always did it behind the scenes and never took credit or asked for anything in return. She did it because she cared, she believed.

I remember one time when she had us over for tea. She had gotten us into yet another conference and helped to set everything up. And instead of asking for anything back, she went out of her way to make sure she had us over for a little food she prepared. It's not like she was showing off, her apartment was humble and she showed us the old computer she got all her work done on and that always gave her trouble. And that afternoon we sat and talked about how important it was that the right ideas prevailed in America. There was no gain for her, no angle. She just really wanted to make sure the country was headed in the right direction. She actually cared.

These are the kind of people that conservatives sometimes make fun of, people who aren't in it for the money, liberal do-gooders trying to help save the world. I, on the other hand, can't think of a better way to spend your life. It's because of the quiet heroes like Maria that this country always finds a way back to the right course. The course of humanity, generosity and caring.

She never got enough credit while she was alive. And that bothers me. Maria is the kind of person we needed to celebrate before she passed away, before it's too late. She deserved all the praise and honor in the world. These days the Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to people who betrayed their country and led us away from our principles. But if ever there came a day again when we gave honorary awards to heroes who cared about what America really stands for, we'd give it to someone like Maria.

Someone like Bunnatine Greenhouse. Someone like Lt. Commander Charles Swift. Someone like Sgt. Joseph Darby. Someone like Maria Leavey.

These are the quiet heroes that help save the country when no one is looking. The heroes who fight for us when we don't even know it. And they do it because they believe in America and they believe the country is capable of a great kindness that it sometimes forgets.

That's why we all suffered a great loss this week. If you knew Maria Leavey and have anything you'd like to share, please add it here. Everyone knows a little story that others don't, so if we all shared it might help to remember her better. She was quiet on her own behalf, so I was hoping we can speak a little louder for her now.

The Ugly Truth About the President

You know it, I know it and the American people know it. But everyone is afraid to say it. They say it privately, but people are afraid of saying it publicly because you will be branded as a liberal, elite, intellectual snob. But believe me, you don't have to be an intellectual to see how painfully stupid our president is.

Just look at the conversation he is having with world leaders at the G-8 summit. Mikes picked up the casual talk between the world leaders. Forget that Bush appears to have three sandwiches in his mouth while talking. Forget that he calls out to the Prime Minister of Britain as if he is Flounder in "Animal House." Forget that he uses profanity. I don't give a shit about those things.

I thought it was ridiculous that people made fun of George H. W, Bush for vomiting on the Japanese Prime Minister. What was he going to do? He had to puke, so he puked. It happens to the best of us, and more importantly, has nothing to do with his intelligence or how capable he is as a leader.

But his son's verbal vomit does have a lot to do with his ability to lead this country and the world. What I found to be the most damning is the least quoted part of Bush's comments. As you read this transcript, remember that this is not a small child talking, but the President of the United States of America:

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The Civil War in Iraq Has Begun

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse in Iraq, Nic Robertson of CNN reports the most grotesque story I have ever heard in my life: "One international official told me of reports among his staff that a 15-year-old girl had been beheaded and a dog's head sewn on her body in its place; and of a young child who had had his hands drilled and bolted together before being killed."

My God, what have we done? What have we unleashed?

The answer, unfortunately, is all out civil war. There is no way we, or anybody else, is going to get this genie back in the bottle. Through our arrogance, carelessness and even malice, we started a sectarian battle between the different ethnicities of Iraq. And that battle has now blossomed into an absolute war.

If you're conservative or a Republican or just hopeful, you might think and wish I am wrong. But you can wish until your blue in the face and it isn't going to change facts on the ground. The bloodletting is in full effect and the results are horrific.

My God, will we please try to get on the right course instead of running into this brick wall over and over? Iraq is done. It's finished. We have to stop the bleeding. We have to separate these people into their respective corners; otherwise it's only going to get worse.

Our best hope is a semi-civil partition of the country into three areas. The later we start this process, the more violence and bloodshed we are going to see. Iraq has already turned into a house of horrors. And we're doing absolutely no good sitting there completely clueless.

If the idea that a civil war in Iraq has already begun, look no further than this New York Times article covering just one day's carnage in Iraq:

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Taking the message to the heart of the Democratic establishment

This post first appeared in the Huffington Post and is republished here with permission.

Peter Daou is one of the most astute and aggressive bloggers in the country. Senator Hillary Clinton is the poster child for equivocation and triangulation. So, it was interesting news when we found out that Senator Clinton has hired Peter Daou to be her web consultant. Hillary hiring Peter Daou is a little like Nixon going to China.

I know Peter and consider him a friend. I know for a fact that he understands the problems with the Democratic establishment and what needs to be done to fix it. And as much as anyone, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party establishment.

So, that sets up an interesting question. Will Mohammed go to the mountain or will the mountain come to Mohammed?

Neil Cavuto To Be Named Treasury Secretary

This post first appeared in the Huffington Post and is republished here with permission.

It is widely rumored that Treasury Secretary John Snow is the next person to step down during the White House shake up. Now, there is news of who might be replacing him -- Neil Cavuto.

The host of Fox News Channel's business program is a natural fit for running the business of America, according to White House sources.

With the hiring of Tony Snow, the administration has realized that funneling their paychecks through Roger Ailes at Fox was becoming a hassle. Now, the more streamlined process will simply cut out the middleman and most of the Fox anchors will eventually become official spokespeople for the White House.

The additional advantage of this more efficient system is that it will allow President Bush to add another three weeks of vacation to his schedule. Bust out the Schwinn, it's time for a bike ride!

Apparently, the rumors have everyone at Fox on edge as they start to position themselves for future cabinet openings. Greta thinks she's a natural fit for Attorney General ... of Aruba. But she thinks she might be able to handle the same position in the US. Alan Colmes is rumored to be eyeing Norm Mineta's eternal Cabinet post. "This is the first time I've been worried about my Cabinet position in the last thirty years," says Mineta.

If Rumsfeld ever steps down things could get ugly though. It is rumored that O'Reilly and Hannity are both angling for the job. O'Reilly was overheard shouting at Hannity in the halls of Fox News, "Where were you during the War on Christmas? I was willing to lay my life down for this country while you were getting deferments." They had to be separated as O'Reilly yelled, "Draft dodger!"

Nativists for Native Americans

This post first appeared in the Huffington Post and is republished here with permission.

I'm sick of all this illegal immigration into this country. I think we ought to send every illegal back. But instead of starting with the newest arrivals, I think we should start with the ones that have been here illegally the longest. After all, they've been breaking the law longer.

So, it's about time we threw those English bastards out. Send them back to where they came from! They crossed over into this land uninvited, with their guns and diseased blankets and slave trade, and settled in like they own the place. They didn't pay any taxes on the land, they just took it.

The settlers were the original illegals. They took all the good jobs the Native Americans were perfectly capable of doing at a fair market rate. They killed off all the bison that the Natives made a living from and they spread like a virus throughout the country. If we only had a good nativist movement back then. Nativists for Native Americans!

Maybe we could have stopped the original wetback - Christopher Columbus. He didn't just cross a river, he crossed a whole ocean. His back was drenched.

How many people on the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria had green cards? Besides they sound suspiciously Mexican to me. The illegals who snuck in here on those boats also refused to assimilate in to American culture. They wouldn't even learn the language! Send them back!

After the Spanish and the English, came the French, the Dutch and the Germans. All of them trying to take what belonged to Americans. They didn't just want our jobs; they wanted the whole friggin' country.

And that's all before the Italians came in with their criminal gangs and the Irish with all of their Irish flags. It's called America -- if you're going to wave any flag it should be the American flag! The whole thing was a repellent spectacle.

Send them back!

Of course, no one really gave the Native Americans permission to cross the Bering Strait either. I can guarantee you that the original occupants - the bison - weren't too happy to see them. In fact, that's it; let's give America back to the buffalo. They've been here the longest and they've certainly gotten screwed by illegal immigration the most.

But whatever we do, let's make sure we are fair and send everyone who has ever come here without permission back - and all their children. Is it fair that their kids get to stay when the parents crossed over illegally? Besides, they're a burden on the rest of us.

Throw the bums out. I know it sounds impractical, but what's fair is fair. It's about time we made a stand for real Americans - the buffalo!

Bush is done for

This post first appeared on The Huffington Post and is reprinted here with permission.

It's over. Bush's house of cards has just come crumbling down. We suspected it might just be a matter of time, but now it's officially over!

No one recovers from a 34% approval rating. I'll tell you why -- because even the most inept politician realizes you run away from a 34, not towards it. The entire United States Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have no choice but to run from this President -- as fast as they possibly can (ironically, some of the Democrats will be the slowest to leave this sinking ship -- and Lieberman will be the very last one on board).

George Bush is the quick sand that is pulling the Republican Party underground. If they don't realize that now, they soon will when they do the next poll in their home districts. No party can survive trying to pull up a President so universally disliked (let alone a Vice President that is nearly loathed at an 18% approval rating -- I don't think Pinochet was ever that low and I know Nixon wasn't).

The question the Republicans in Congress have to deal with now is -- do they go down with the ship and risk destroying the party all together or do they finally cut Bush loose like they did with Nixon? Could the Republican Party have survived if they decided to go to the bitter end with Nixon? We never found out because no party has been that suicidal since the Federalists.

I knew they were in trouble when Fox put up the banner: "All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?" That sounds so pathetically desperate that for the first time I felt sorry for Fox and the Bush administration.

There are some things that are unspinabble. A civil war is one of them.

This long slide downward started with the Terry Schiavo fiasco (politically; policy wise the slide down started when Bush ignored the "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States" PDB and stayed on vacation). The downward spiral built up momentum with the abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina. And it culminated in the Port Debacle. The Republican congressional leaders thought this might be a safe issue to distance themselves from the administration without doing too much damage, but when they pulled their finger out of the dam, the flood rushed in and the levees were breached.

It allowed die-hard Republican voters for the first time to feel that it was okay to criticize the President. Once they opened up to that possibility, the whole edifice of party loyalty (for the sake of party loyalty) started to crumble. And then someone pulled the critical card out of the house of cards ... the Iraqi Civil War.

Ronald Reagan once said, "Facts are stubborn things." It turns out they're even more stubborn than Fox News Channel and Karl Rove. It took a long time for facts to wear down spin, but it has, at long last, happened.

Several months ago I said that Bush's poll numbers would never recover and would not go back above fifty percent. Now, I think we are beyond that. At this point, there is a chance that this administration does not make it to 2008. The card has been pulled, this house is coming down. And we might all be surprised at how quickly that comes about.

How Jack Cafferty can save America

Jack Cafferty can change America. The number one problem in the country right now isn't the Iraq War, the grotesque budget deficits, the NSA Warrantless Spying Scandal or even the rampant corruption running roughshod through Congress. It is the lack of balance on cable news. I'll tell you why.

CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel are watched by a tiny amount of the population -- the audience of the worst rated nightly news program on the networks (CBS) triples the audience of the best rated primetime program on cable news (The O'Reilly Factor).

Despite this glaring fact, the cable news stations have an inordinate influence on the country.

Why? Because they are broadcast 24/7 in every other news organization in the country. Every newspaper, magazine, local television news and radio station in America is tuned into these three stations every single minute of the day.

So, what the cable news hosts talk about becomes what the country talks about. All of these newsrooms throughout America are inadvertently led to believe the cable news talk show hosts have a beat on what the average American thinks about.

Top 10 lessons learned from the Alito fight

1. There is no organization on the left side of the political spectrum. None. If the Democratic politicians, the old established DC groups and the liberal media (blogs and radio shows) don't come together, they will continue to lose every single fight.

2. The reason they will lose every fight is because every issue is settled the minute it is framed. The framing happens immediately on the Republican side. The White House and Fox News Channel coordinate (as they are on the NSA warrantless spying scandal right now). Then every other conservative host, "journalist," and commentator follows suit. Once the frame is set, it's game set and match. The Republican frame in Alito was that he was a well-qualified, mainstream, devoted and hard working judge who would interpret the law and not make it. The Democratic frame was ??? Nada. Zippo. No response whatsoever.

3. Once the Republican framing goes unchallenged, the media repeats it as if it is fact. If you do not counter attack in the media, you have no chance in persuading the public. Do the Democrats think the voters are going to get their point of view by telepathy?

4. The easy next step is to do a poll (sometimes by completely biased polling groups like Rasmussen and sometimes by legit polling organizations). The poll will show that the public supports the Republican position by a slight majority. It's amazing that it is only a slight lead on most issues when the other side hasn't even presented its case (and often times the Democratic position will win despite all these problems). Could you imagine if there were trials where only one of the lawyers spoke? Which side do you think would win more often?

5. Then comes my favorite step. Shove the poll in the Democrats face and tell them that they have no hope of winning and that the public is against them. Even more importantly, that they will lose their elections if they don't run to the "center" by supporting the Republican position instead. They will claim that the poll is definitive evidence that the public does not support their position so they better get on board with the Republicans otherwise they'll do to them what they did to Tom Daschle.

6. Then the most pathetic part comes...

Why Sam Alito threatens our Democracy

We are witnessing a rare event. The Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Sam Alito will test the very core of our country. Our republic is at stake. And I am very afraid that only a handful of people even realize it.

Usually, the Supreme Court confirmation process revolves around a carefully choreographed dance on abortion.

The right bobs, the left jabs. The left Roes, the right throes. The right hides, the left chides. The left hunts, the right punts.

The Republicans claim the lives of millions of children are at stake if Roe isn't overturned -- but they promise their candidate won't overturn it. Somehow that makes sense to people. I'm often amazed by what nonsense passes for rational discourse in this country.

The Democrats claim they care about judicial temperament and pubic hairs in Coke cans, when all they really care about is whether you are going to overturn Roe. They ask earnest questions about judicial philosophy, when all they want is for the candidate to say they will uphold the right to an abortion -- whether they will or not -- so they could go back to their constituents and say they tried.

But this time it's not about Roe!

First, to dispense with the abortion issue, let me tell you something everyone knows -- Alito will vote to overturn Roe. This is what Alito wrote earlier in his career: "I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that ... the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

If you believe the man who wrote that will vote to uphold Roe, your powers of self-delusion are nearly limitless. But I don't care. Because there's a much bigger fish in these waters. Roe is about one right, but Alito isn't going after just one right. He's going for "the whole thing."

The real constitutional issue to be decided in these hearings is the power of the executive.

Sam Alito believes the executive has the power to ignore laws he does not agree with. That is not an exaggeration. I wish it were. President Bush also believes this -- actually President Bush couldn't tell you what the "unitary executive theory" is on a bet, not even if you promised him a shiny new bike for his birthday -- much more importantly, Vice President Cheney also believes in this theory.

The President has cited his unitary executive power 95 times in bills he has signed. If I tell you what the implications of this theory are, you wouldn't believe me. If I told you it allows the President to circumvent every law passed by Congress, you would say I'm a crazy liberal (until five years ago I called myself a conservative, I think it is so sad that conservatives now consider defending the constitution a sign of weakness). If I told you the President has already used it to violate three different federal statutes, you'd say that couldn't be true.

So, I won't tell you, I'll let the Wall Street Journal tell you...

Mission Accomplished

It seems that the Bush administration is having trouble defining victory in Iraq. There's a good reason for that. That's because the war was pointless in the first place.

I'm not being flippant. I'm being literal. Remember, the top two reasons given for war was that Iraq had WMD and links to al-Qaeda. Neither of these things was true, so we won the war before we even started.

If our mission was to stop the imminent use of WMD by Iraq -- mission accomplished. It turns out that mission was accomplished about ten years ago. If our mission was to get Saddam to stop working with al-Qaeda -- mission accomplished. He was never working with them in the first place.

If we go with the third invented reason for the war -- bringing democracy to Iraq (no one in Congress voted for the war based on this reasoning -- it wasn't even presented). Then, they are about to have their eighteenth election in a row in Iraq. On December 15th, they will elect an official, constitutionally sound, government that will represent Iraq for the next four years. Mission accomplished.

In reality, democracy requires a balance of power. The United States creates an artificial balance of power by having an overwhelming force on the ground. And the power void we will eventually leave behind, no matter when we leave, will cause an upheaval in that balance of power and inevitably throw Iraq out of equilibrium and into violent conflict. But that discussion is for another day.

So, if all of our missions are accomplished, what's the problem? What this administration doesn't tell you (and the Democrats do a woeful job of explaining this as well) is that the reason people are arguing we should stay now is to clean up the problems we created by attacking in the first place.

The current problems in Iraq did not exist before our invasion. There was no sectarian strife spilling into the streets, there were no Sunni-Shiite battles, there was no Sunni insurgency, there were no Shiite death squads. It doesn't mean life was rosy under Saddam's dictatorship. But those problems didn't exist. And those problems are the ones we are fighting now.

By going into Iraq we created the problems we are now trying to fix by staying in Iraq.

Don't get me wrong, what's done is done. The Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish problems will exist no matter what from here on out and we have to figure out how to best deal with them. Withdrawal is not a plan. Staying is also not a plan. A strategy that entails us leaving whenever that strategy is accomplished is a plan.

It's important to remember that the reason we're staying has absolutely nothing to do with the reason we went in. Because if you are trying to achieve a victory that never was and that never could be, you are fighting the wrong battle.

So, when the President talks about fighting terrorism and the evil-doers in Iraq, ignore him. He's an idiot. The overwhelming majority of the insurgency is Sunni, as even the President admitted in his last speech. The Sunnis are not any more intrinsically evil than the Shiites. So, why are we siding with the Shiites in this new power struggle that has nothing to do with the original war?

For a long time, I was concerned about the foreign jihadists that had come into Iraq after the war began. I did not want the US to leave while those people could still establish a base and gain power in the area. I am now convinced the local Sunnis will wipe them out as soon as they no longer have a reason to work together, i.e. as soon as we leave.

The foreign terrorists have already picked a fight with the Iraqi Sunni insurgency by glomming on to their racketeering business in the Anbar province. This is no joke, racketeering and protection money from local businesses is one of the primary ways both sides raise money and they have now broken out in open gun battles on the streets because of this conflict.

Besides, if we left Iraq, we could give Sunnis the proper incentives to fight the foreign jihadists without endangering our own troops.

So, what is victory in the new war we are fighting in Iraq and how do we accomplish it? It won't be possible to answer that fully in this short piece, but let me start to answer. Victory is when the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds have achieved some meaningful balance of power without our presence.

As I explained before, if they achieve a balance now with our heavy presence on the ground, that is a false balance of power that will change as soon as we leave and stop tipping the scales to one side. That is useless. So, we must find a way to exit while we maintain a workable balance of power between all the parties

Calling it a democracy and going home might suit the Democrats purpose, and will soon also suit the Republicans as soon as they see their polls in their local districts. But it doesn't suit the purpose of peace and stability in the area.

A democracy in name means absolutely nothing if the government is not willing to act like a democracy. So, will the Shiite majority give Sunnis rights and share the oil revenue? That is the only thing that can appease the Sunnis, and thereby get them to slow their insurgency.

Right now, that is not what the Shiite power holders appear to be planning. They appear to be setting up a regime that will take as much of the power and oil revenue as they possibly can. We have to disabuse them of this notion. We have to make it clear to them that this is not in the region's interest, in our interest, and accordingly, their interest.

In other words, we have to lean on them. It will appear that we are at odds with the "democratically elected" government of Iraq. But in reality, we are just trying to keep a civil war from breaking out by keeping the Shiites from crushing the Sunnis.

The delicate balance of oil rich Kirkuk in northern Iraq, with all of its different warring ethnicities, is another enormous problem. Another enormous problem we didn't have before the war and one that certainly has nothing to do with whether we were about to be attacked by Iraq or the 9/11 attacks against us. Nonetheless, I have to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld -- we have the war we have, not the war we'd like to have.

There are a slew of incentives and disincentives we could give the Kurds to get them to ease up on the Arab Sunnis in the area (let alone the Turkmen - don't ask). But pretending there's a democracy that has nothing to do with all the oil in Kirkuk is preposterous. The Kurds are moving the Arabs out of town forcibly so that they could have more Kurdish votes in town to accommodate that "democracy." They are structuring the democracy around the oil rather than vice versa.

Yet, we have the President blathering on about the good guys versus the bad guys, and how we are fighting against people who hate freedom. Has there ever been a President whose rhetoric is more irrelevant? Bush certainly knows how to create problems, but it looks like he has absolutely no idea how to solve them.

I'm hoping there are a couple of people in government who are smarter and can get a grasp of what's happening in Iraq. It's time to get beyond the original war we thought we were fighting in Iraq and get on to the one we are actually fighting.

Torture in the Cheney administration

I’m so tired of writing about dreary topics. I’d like to talk about how poor Sylvester Stallone is going to make a fool of himself with not only Rocky VI, but also Rambo IV. I’d like to talk about how the Royal family coming to America this week is the single least interesting news story I have ever heard.

But alas, it is not meant to be. Just when I think it’s time to lighten up, the Cheney administration pulls me back in … and waterboards me.
The wacky group who brought dignity and morality back to the White House has not one, but two stories about torture in today’s papers. It’s a conspiracy to keep me talking and writing about torture. I live in LA, I have a radio show and a cute girlfriend – everything should be sunny in the world. I was late to the show today because there was an "Impeach Bush" rally right outside my house. They keep pulling me back in.

So, the day starts out fun with a piece in the Washington Post about how we have now taken over old Soviet style gulags in Eastern Europe and filled them with our prisoners. Remember when Senator Durbin got in trouble for saying we were running Guantanamo Bay like a gulag. It turns out he was wrong to use the word gulag … as a metaphor. It is now literal.

To be fair to the Cheney administration though, we can’t keep these secret detainees in prisons here because that would be a gross violation of US law. So, if we’re going to break the law, we have to do it somewhere else. When we torture people in Thailand, Jordan or Eastern Europe, hey that’s their problem, not ours. After all, you gotta put a secret prison somewhere.

An ignored consequence of our decision to torture and secretly imprison al-Qaeda figures in dungeons (again, this is literal) across the world is that we will never be able to "bring them to justice."

How are we going to bring them to open court after we broke just about every treaty on prisoner treatment? Are we really going to let them talk openly about the different torture techniques we used on them? Would we even be able to convict them now after we extracted evidence through coercion?

We never caught Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the two top al-Qaeda figures. This should be a lasting source of shame, but our president says he is unconcerned. However, we did manage to capture three important figures in al-Qaeda – Abu Zubaida, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. These men were an integral part of the team that planned and carried out 9/11. Their capture should be a tremendous source of pride for us.

Unfortunately, it looks like we might never be able to try them for the greatest crime in American history. After having tortured them and kept them in secret detention for several years, we have lost the moral high-ground to these cretins. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with them now. Are we supposed to keep them in secret jails for the rest of their lives?

I would love to bring them to the United States so that we can try them and put them next to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef, the men who committed the first attack against the World Trade Center in 1993. They’re serving life sentences in a maximum security prison in Colorado. Wait, how did we manage to put them away without secret prisons and abuse? Oh that’s right, that was back in the day when we believed in our laws, in the treaties we signed and the American justice system.

Speaking of our laws, that brings me to the second article from today. The New York Times details a debate within the White House on whether we should continue to torture people. That’s where the Vice President’s new Chief of Staff, David Addington warms up to the job by arguing that “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, humiliating and degrading treatment� will be just fine as US policy.

You think I’m kidding? Read the article. Addington had time to prepare as the Darth Maul to Dick Cheney’s Darth Sidious (I had to look it up, too), having served as chief counsel, torture-memo preparer and grand inquisitor for Cheney earlier. You think I’m kidding … okay, he didn’t physically waterboard people himself, but he did order it.

So, I have to ask this bothersome question again – is this what we have become? Are we comfortable with our Vice President actively lobbying for torture, converting old Soviet prisons into US dungeons, being above international law, abusing our authority and the trust of our allies, running secret prison systems throughout the world and denying people we capture humane treatment. Are we comfortable getting rid of our justice system for a system of secret detentions? Is this what we have become?

It makes me ill. Dick Cheney has presided over the degradation, humiliation and mutilation of the American system of justice. He needs to be removed from office immediately. He is a national embarrassment. He makes Joe McCarthy look like a Boy Scout. His name will go down in infamy.

If you’re a Republican who still supports these actions, you will live to regret what you have said exactly as the racists of the Old South did. You will claim you never really said those things and never really supported what this administration did. You will one day go to an event honoring Captain Ian Fishback or Joseph Darby, or maybe even Richard Clarke, and you will pretend you were always on their side.

I love America and I am sure we are better than this. I am sure we will straighten out the ship. But some irreparable damage has been done. It will take decades to win the trust of the world back. It will take years to be able to look people straight in the eye and tell them what America is supposed to stand for. To tell them of the noble experiment that was America. To, once again, be that shining city on a hill.

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