What Did Obama Mean by Change?

No reporter has ever asked him as far as I know. I don't know if any will ask this time around. What did you mean by "Change" anyway? He ran a whole campaign on it and does anyone really know what Barack Obama meant he was going to change?

 

I'm in the camp that he hasn't changed a damn thing. People will counter with Lilly Ledbetter. It's a lovely law, but does anyone really believe that's what was meant by the grandiose statement "Change"?

Of course I use Lilly Ledbetter as a symbol. President Obama obviously has more accomplishments than that. He really did change the laws and many people's perceptions on gay rights for example. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is history. The government is no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act. And the President of the United States is finally for gay marriage. But did people really think Senator Obama meant he would change gay rights legislation? Is that what the 2008 election was about?

A little bit of financial reform (which so far has proven to be as ineffectual as progressive critics predicted) certainly doesn't qualify as "Change." Thirty million more Americans insured -- maybe, hopefully, by 2014 -- is a good thing. Is it transformational? Has Washington changed as we know it? Have we gotten "Change"?

Here is the common sense interpretation of what "Change" is -- changing the way Washington works. In fact, this is exactly what was promised, specifically by Barack Obama. He even made a campaign ad about it: http://www.youtube.com/...

That's an example of the same old game playing in Washington. I don't want to learn how to play the game better; I want to put an end to the game playing.

And by God, what have you done to that effect? I would venture to say, almost without refutation, absolutely nothing. Even the most ardent Obama supporter can't in good conscience or sound mental state argue that President Obama has changed the way Washington works. He's just played the game a little better, if you're being charitable on how you keep score on that count.

But here's what should really burn you up -- he hasn't even tried. Not even close. Has there been a single piece of legislation backed by the White House that would stop the way lobbyists or big corporate interests or any special interest groups buy our politicians? In 93% of the cases, the person with more money wins their Congressional race. Democrat or Republican. Obviously the controlling factor is not ideology, party or even votes. It's money. And it's obvious.

And the president has done what to "Change" that?

Nonetheless, I'm insanely optimistic and naïve. So, I say we give him one more chance. But there is no way you should just trust him and hope for the best. He has to actually do something this time instead of just hanging a campaign placard up.

Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky has introduced a bipartisan bill that would amend the constitution to say that money cannot control our elections. Will the president make this one of his top priorities? Will he campaign on it? Will he do everything in his power to pass it if he is re-elected?

If he does, then we should let bygones be bygones. The slate is wiped clean and God bless second terms and the concept of redemption. If the president makes a real effort on the campaign trail to emphasize this as one of his core issues, then progressives should turn out to do everything they can to get him elected, whether it's voting, donating or volunteering. We're not asking for much in return -- just deliver on your original promise.

On the other hand, if he can't even do this, then it's obvious that the Democrats will never, ever help us. It will be painfully clear that they are part of the same corrupt system and have no interest in ever changing it. In fact, they love that system because it is what keeps them in office.

But this is not a decision for me to make. It is for the president. Which way will he go? Will he continue to play small-bore politics? Will he continue his rhetorical games and hope we don't realize that he is being too clever by half? Will he play the same old Washington games and hope to play them just a little better? Or will he actually lead and bring us real change?

Despite all the broken promises and all the cute political tricks, I still have the audacity of hope. I'm just waiting for President Obama to put it out one last time, so we can really go to war against Washington -- all of it. Democrats and Republicans alike. The public has a pox ready for both of their houses and only one man has the antidote. Let's see what he does.

Watch The Young Turks Here and Here

 

Obama's Tipping Point

I have been saying for a long time now that President Obama is the world's worst negotiator and has absolutely no interest in fighting for progressive principles. I didn't make this up out of the whole cloth. I voted for the guy and I desperately wanted him to succeed. But my job is to cover politics and when you cover Obama all you see is him running for cover.

Let me give you a small example nobody talks about, but I think is telling. After Gabby Giffords was shot, his administration indicated that he would do a major speech on gun control ... later. I told my audience that was not going to happen. Why? Because I know Obama. He hates, hates, hates conflict. And he would never take on an issue where he did not have overwhelming support. It's not in his nature.

Of course, there was no major speech. Instead there was a small op-ed buried in a local Arizona paper (a lot of times they write op-eds when they don't want any video out there that can be used in campaign commercials or repeated on the evening news that night). But that wasn't even the telling part. There were about half a dozen issues he could have addressed on gun control. The major one after the shooting was how many bullets a magazine could hold. Would he address that? Of course, not!

It turned out that he advocated for every position that polled over 67%. But, alas, the magazine issue only polled at 51% -- not good enough for Obama. He has the majority of Americans behind him, this was the major issue being discussed at the time and he has an incredible moment to tell this story -- and he left it out of the editorial. It's hard to imagine a politician more timid. It's almost as if he is trying to be the exact opposite of Bush -- all brains, no guts.

These days many are also wondering about the brains part. Has he not been paying attention to Republicans at all? Is he awake? Could any sentient person actually believe they were going to compromise this time around, let alone the next time? He was out there this morning talking about how he is looking forward to compromising with Republicans again over the Super Committee.

Unfortunately, that is the only guiding principle Obama has -- compromise. But that is no principle at all. What if I wanted to sell you a car for $10,000 and you offered me $1? Would compromise dictate that I sell it to you for $5,000? For $2? What if the car is really worth about $10,000, should I compromise anyway? Compromise is a tactic, it's not a principle. It doesn't give you the right answer. It is sometimes necessary, but offers no guidance in what should be the final outcome.

Can anyone name Obama's principles? Something he will not bend on? A progressive priority he will defend to the end?

Does Obama even think of himself as a progressive? He once pointed to a glass half-filled with water and told Sen. Bernie Sanders, "That's the problem with you progressives. You see this as half-empty." You progressives?

But does anyone think that the guy who hired Tim Geithner, Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, William Daley, Peter Orszag, Ben Bernanke, etc. is remotely progressive? If you looked throughout the whole country, could you find more conservative, establishment Democrats? Barely, if at all. And, of course, some of those guys aren't even Democrats.

But finally, it isn't just us on the "professional left" pointing this out. After yet another unconditional surrender in the debt ceiling talks, he's hit his tipping point. Just go talk to any group of liberals in the country and see if half of them aren't incredibly pissed off at him. I do it all the time and their whispers of discontent has grown into a cacophony.

Finally, nearly every progressive commentator is talking about his profound weakness, if it even is that and not something worse (some have started to question whether he even wants to win on progressive issues or if he is fundamentally conservative).

Now, the Obama supporters won't believe this either. They'll blame the messenger as usual. But go ahead, ignore this message at your peril. Apparently, the people at the White House think they're such geniuses. "Did you know it turns out centrists decide elections?" This is the kind of politics you learn in third grade and they think they're playing three dimensional chess. Yes, independents are important, but they hate weakness in their leaders. Giving the Republicans everything they want every single time doesn't appeal to any independents and will lead to half of your own voters staying at home.

How did he not see that the Republicans would bludgeon him with the lack of jobs after he agreed to their spending cuts -- which would only lower the number of jobs in the country? How could anyone not see that and think they know anything about politics?

A young woman I talked to at the airport last week said that she will not vote in the next election. I hate to hear that. I think if you don't vote, you have no right to complain the next time around. You have voluntarily ceded your voice in this democracy. I told her that and she said, "After Obama, what is there left to hope for?"

If the clever guys at the White House don't realize they've hit their tipping point, they're in for a rude awakening when that tsunami washes over them. They're headed into the 30s in the polls and I don't think they have any clue how to get out of there. They don't even know that they're about to hit an iceberg. They think they're just one more compromise from turning the corner.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Like The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Bin Laden Dead - War Was Not the Answer

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.

Watch The Young Turks Here

"Like" The Young Turks on Facebook Here

 

 

Is Proxy Detention the Obama Administration's Extraordinary Rendition-Lite?

Shortly after taking office, President Obama announced he'd close CIA prisons and end abusive interrogations of terrorism suspects by U.S. officials. But the Obama administration has notably preserved the right to continue "renditions" - the abduction and transfer of suspects to U.S. allies in its "war on terror," including allies notorious for the use of torture.

Although the Obama Administration in 2009 promised to monitor more closely the treatment of suspects it turned over to foreign prisons, the disturbing case of Gulet Mohamed, an American teenager interrogated under torture in Kuwait, casts doubt on the effectiveness of those so-called "diplomatic assurances." It's also raised questions about whether the "extraordinary rendition" program conducted by the Bush administration has now been transformed into an equally abusive proxy detention program run by its successor.

There's more...

New Poll Confirms Country is Clearly Progressive

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.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter:www.twitter.com/theyoungturks
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads