Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The People have spoken

From the moment the mid-term election results started coming in, Republicans have been repeating their new mantra that the people have spoken and the Democrats and their policies have been rejected.  With that in mind, the Democrats should stop trying to so hard to fix so many of the problems that are of the GOP's making.

First off, unemployment benefits.  My guess is that not everyone who is out of work today voted for Democrats in the recent mid-terms.  Perhaps it's time for them to learn what a Republican led Congress feels like.  Their unemployment benefits have expired and the GOP does not want to renew them without staggeringly irresponsible tax cuts for the ultra wealthy.  It's time for the Dems to stop protecting Americans from themselves and let them go into the new year with Speaker John Boehner and no more unemployment benefits.

Then there's the tax cuts.  To be more precise, a continuation of the tax cuts from 2001 and 2003.  Since the GOP rejected extending middle class tax cuts a few weeks ago, let the American people now see all their taxes go up because the Republicans want to give people like Bernie Madoff (before he was arrested) millions of savings on their tax bills.  Remember middle America, the Republicans didn't want middle class taxes to remain the same UNLESS the top three tenths of one percent of Americans could get a break on their estate taxes.  That's right, 99.7% of all Americans pay no estate taxes but the GOP is willing to put the economic well being of 98% of the country at risk in order to secure a lower tax rate for the top 0.3% of the population.

By rushing to the aid of the country that scorned them, the Democrats are merely setting the stage for things to improve under Speaker John Boehner.  If a majority of the country wants Republican leadership then let them have it.  Let them watch as the economy shrivels even more without the hardest hit receiving unemployment benefits.  Let them watch state governments are forced to lay off police officers, fire fighters, and teachers because of budget shortfalls.  Let them watch as China continues to fly past us in their super high speed trains carrying green manufacturing and the jobs that go with them.  Maybe by 2012 the American people will realize that they "made a huge mistake."  Or, maybe they'll just double down on their 2010 misjudgment and elect President Palin.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

President Obama: "This is the public option debate all over"

In his pathetic defense of caving in on the tax cuts issue President Obama brought up the criticism he faced from the left over his abandonment of the public option.  He was fielding a question about compromising too much and his defense was that while the health care bill did not include the public option it had so many other things that Democrats had been fighting for.  The problem with his memory or interpretation of those events is that the public option was not a holy grail for Democrats.  It was a watered down substitute for what we really wanted and that was a Single Payer Option.  But since the President and the Democrat super-majority Congress was too weak willed to push for that plan, the result was compromising on the compromise.

Now that the tax cut deal has been back-roomed to placate the GOP and their ultra-rich benefactors, similar criticisms are coming out that he did not negotiate tough enough and did not stick to his principles or his campaign promises.  The Republicans, meanwhile, get to hold up their banner of stubborn obstructionism and celebrate yet another capitulation by the spineless Democrats.

Again the fault for this travesty lies with the Blue Dogs in Congress who had threatened to vote against a tax cut for the middle class bill in the lead up to the elections, and to the Obama White House that did not push Congress to act before the midterms, and to the fickle electorate that somehow thought that putting people in Congress who care only for the rich would somehow help the country.

The next time you hear a Republican complain about losing their unemployment benefits, or about increasing deficits, remind them that 700-900 billion more dollars were just added to the deficit so that Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, and Keith Olbermann can save some money.

Where the hell is Joe the plumber?

Now that the Republicans have forced President Obama into doling out another giant wedge of American Pie, where is the anger one would expect from the Tea Partiers and Joe the plumbers everywhere? The GOP filibuster and the subsequent "deal" that was worked out to avoid raising taxes on the middle class will ultimately raise taxes on the lowest income earners in the country while giving massive tax break to millionaires and billionaires. The silence today from those pissed of "patriots" in their Benjamin Franklin costumes is so perfectly representative of the bullshit that the "deficit-hawks" spew. Apparently deficits only matter when Obama and the Democrats are trying to right so many of the systemic wrongs that have concentrated America's wealth in the hands of so few. It would seem that if deficits are incurred to give the Walton family a few extra billion dollars, or save the hedge fund managers who destroyed our economy from paying Uncle Sam what is owed then they don't mean shit.

Deal on Tax Cuts Will Aid Most, Especially Highest Earners - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And yet many of America's poor continue to vote GOP

Matt Finkelstein: Top Conservatives Turned Off By Tax Deal's Inclusion Of Unemployment Benefits

Taylor Marsh: Yes We Cave

While I think that more money for lower income Americans through an extension of the current tax rates would be helpful to drive demand, I think that the GOP needs a "waterloo" of their own, to use Senator DeMint's words. For that reason I hope that Democrats DO NOT cave in on tax cuts for the wealthy no matter how much it pains them to let unemployment benefits expire. This is a problem of the Republicans making and the Democrats need to stop slashing their own wrists in their attempts to fix it. Every single progressive group out there should be taking the CSPAN footage of Republicans voting AGAINST an extension of middle class tax cuts and they should be blanketing the airwaves denouncing the GOP for standing against the American people with tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. Expose this rabid crusade mentality that is driving the opposition to vote against 70% of the people (CBS news poll) to extend tax cuts for the ultra rich. I am so sick and tired of hearing them on the news shows talking about how money to the top creates jobs. If the bottom 97% can't afford to buy anything, then the top 3% aren't going to be creating jobs.

From the Huffington Post:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wishful thinking

Montreal gas prices jump overnight

"They are trying to bamboozle you (consumers)," McTeague said. "If you tried to pull this in the United States you would have every congressional member concerned and hauling these guys onto the carpet."

Apologies to the right honorable Mr. McTeague but it is not much different south of the border. Very little that should be investigated in the manner that you are suggesting ever does get that attention. Here's to hoping Mr. McTeague and the Canadian Parliament can get some answers on these gasoline price jumps.

GOP block Middle Class Tax Cuts

If you make less than $200,000 a year and you voted Republican, then you no longer have any right to complain about deficits or tax cuts for the middle class.

Senate blocks extension of Bush-era tax cuts

Friday, December 3, 2010

Can military handle a repeal of gay ban? - CSMonitor.com

If it can't, then what chance does it have in Iraq and Afghanistan? I think those conflicts are slightly more difficult than not firing people because of their sexual orientation.

'Don't ask, don't tell': Can military handle a repeal of gay ban? -

Still sneaking around like a thief in the night

Obama in Afghanistan: President Obama makes surprise trip to Afghanistan - latimes.com

Once again, President Obama has made a "surprise" visit to Afghanistan. Why the secrecy surrounding his trip? Because Afghanistan is still such a mess that it is too dangerous for him to announce a trip of that nature ahead of time. Whenever someone discusses winning or losing in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wish that those interviewing them would ask WHEN will an American President be able to safely announce a trip to either of those countries.

But the troops say they don't want it!

President: Go to Afghanistan.

Troops: Sir! Yes sir!

President: Go to Iraq.

Troops: Sir! Yes sir!

President: Now, allow your fellow soldiers to stop hiding who they are and allow gay Americans to serve openly alongside yo
u. I mean, c'mon, you probably already know who they are.

Troops: Sir...uh...sure thing sir. But a couple of us aren't totally on board...

Now that the Pentagon's study on repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell has been released, the Republicans have, predictably, attacked it and pointed out the branches of the armed forces where there is less than 50% acceptance of gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces. Well tough shit! After all, that's basically what the Republicans, and a lot of Democrats have been saying to those soldiers and veterans who were brave enough to speak out against the invasion of Iraq. It's the same thing that politicians of all shades said to the likes of John Kerry when he spoke out against the war in Vietnam. The fact is we as a nation have rarely asked our soldiers what they want to do. I'm sure many of them would rather not go to Afghanistan simply to pay for college, but Senator McCain doesn't care about those opinions. What the study shows, and what should have been the focus of the Senate hearings was that "70% of those surveyed felt that allowing gays to serve openly will have a positive, mixed or no effect on military readiness."

Why such a high number? Probably because the majority of the armed forces are young men and women who were not raised with the ignorance and prejudices that seem to have been John McCain's bread and butter. How dense is this man who's own wife and daughter have been strong advocates (though he managed to cajole his wife into backing him) for ending DADT and other LGBT issues? Well here's to things getting worserer for John McCain.

Canadians (sorry, The Comedy Network doesn't give embedding options):



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Way to go old people - this is why you'll lose your Social Security and Medicare

Apparently the majority of voters in the midterm elections were old, rich and white. Due to the massive failing of young people, African Americans, and Latinos to spend the effort to show up at the polls, senior citizens made up 21 percent of the electorate while accounting for only 13 percent of the population. And while the rich (those making $200k and up per year) grew 68 percent from their 2006 numbers, those making less than $50k shrunk.

So when the GOP votes to cut off Social Security and Medicare (which they've been wanting to do since those programs were created) you can thank America's grandparents for coming out and enthusiastically voting Republican, and you can blame the grandchildren for being too lazy to get off their asses and protect their interests.

If there's anything encouraging about these numbers it's that this so called GOP mandate is even weaker than initially believed. By far the biggest plurality in 2010 was not the Republicans or the Democrats. It was the non-voter with nearly 60 percent of eligible voters..

Monday, November 22, 2010

The TSA: Making Dumb People Feel Safe Since 2001

To any air travelers who have had their sunscreen, toothpaste thrown out, or their water bottles forcibly emptied at the security screening, the notion that the Transportation Security Administration's policy, and the TSOs that enforce them are stupid is nothing new. With all of the recent news about full body scanners and the enhanced pat-downs/groping that travelers are now facing, isn't it time that Americans asked themselves why they put up with this nonsense?

The reactive nature of the TSA is embedded deep in the heart of the problem. Once upon a time a man, on a flight from Paris, tried to light a fuse connected to explosives in his shoes. As a result air travelers must now remove their footwear and place it on the x-ray machines, walking barefoot across a filthy floor, possibly contracting all sorts of foot and skin infections. At the time the TSA also decided to ban cigarette lighters, but not matches, for all the sense that made. Perhaps the Bic lighter company had a good lobbyist, or perhaps the TSA is just plain stupid, but they finally reversed course on the lighter ban in 2007.

Next came a plot by more than 20 people from the UK, who intended to detonate liquid explosives on board transatlantic planes. Once again acting in a reactive manner, the TSA quickly banned all liquids and gels from carry on luggage. For some reason the TSA could not conceive of a way for the "evil doers" to detonate some liquid or gel explosives that are in checked baggage, but the end result is that if you want to plan ahead for your trip, perhaps by purchasing sunscreen or toothpaste before you get somewhere that you want to protect your skin or not have awful breath and gum disease, you'd better have a checked bag.

Finally, the Christmas day bomber with his underpants explosives rocked America's collective peace of mind. Another failed attempt but this one had the explosives moved from the shoes all the way up to Mr. Abdulmutallab's tighty-whities and so, once again American air travelers must submit to another demand by the TSA: get naked! Well, not exactly, but the images from the full body scanners make passengers appear naked. There is an alternative though, for those who are worried that images of their naked bodies will be misused and that is the all new all different pat-down. These invasive open-palmed searches of groin and chest have been likened to molestation and groping and humerously parodied by Saturday Night Live (sorry non-US readers, Hulu is not available but here's a description).

What all of these events demonstrate is that the TSA has no ability to thing proactively. They are only able to attempt to come up with rules and regulations to thwart the last attack. I mean, how many attempted shoe bombers have their been since Richard Reid? Many other countries do not require passengers to remove their shoes during security screening and yet somehow they have managed to not have their planes be detonated by shoe bombers.

The underlying problem is that the TSA is not actually trying to make passengers safer when they fly, but rather to make the majority of them FEEL safer. By telling people that liquids pose a risk, and then visibly removing liquids from passengers at the security gate, they create a false sense of safety for the dumbest among us. The same is true for removing footwear and placing it on the scanner. Once again the dumb dumbs get to think they are being protected as thousands more travelers contract foot fungi and other podiatric ailments.

Remember, you are not safer because I had to empty my Nalgene. I am not safer because you put your toothpaste in a plastic ziplock bag (which is disgusting by the way). And no one is safer because some TSO drone with a GED looked at their shoes in the x-ray machine. If we want to be secure, then we need to hire and train the right kind of people to screen air passengers. We should be looking to countries like Israel that have developed a very effective system of passenger interviews that allow them to detect potential threats based on their reaction and not from looking at their penis in a full body scan.

So let me just say this to the "evil doers" out there. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not stick explosives up your butt or place them in body cavities because if you do, and then the TSA finds out, it is not going to be a pleasant experience to fly from a US airport.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tax Cuts for the Rich = Senate Majority for the GOP

Hey there spineless democratic senators, how's it going? Bummed about the recent election? Having a hard time sitting down with all those GOP foot prints on your ass? Yeah, I bet that hurts. But you know what's going to sting even more? The 2012 elections if you sissies don't get your tactics figured out. Now that Nancy Pelosi has finally drummed up the courage to say they'll put forward a "tax cuts for the middle class only" bill before the end of the year, it is up to you, the deliberative donkeys to break a filibuster and pass the "dang" bill.

It seems to me that if your staffers have not made the case to you already, you should fire them all and get competent aides who can actually help you figure out what you need to do to help the country and keep your seats. If, and sadly it's not that improbable of an if, a few of you Senate Democrats decide to jump onto the GOP filibuster and say "but now isn't the time to raise taxes on anyone!" then you have assuredly handed control of the Senate and possibly the White House over to the Republicans come 2012. Your defection from your fellow Democrats will be seen as proof both to the GOP and the American public that tax cuts for the middle class only is wrong.

So instead of being gutless wimps and voting to prevent the tax rates on the richest 2% from returning to where they were under President Clinton (boy were those bad economic times, right?) dig deep and find some courage. Go borrow some from Bernie Sanders or Russ Feingold if you need to, and then vote FOR the middle class tax cuts. Even if the bill doesn't pass because you can't get a single Republican senator to help out the middle class, USE THAT! Plaster your states with advertising denouncing the GOP for raising taxes on the middle class. Get on CNN, MSNBC and even FoxNews and chastise your Republican colleagues for forcing a tax hike on the American people. BUT do not cave in before forcing them to vote no on tax cuts for the middle class.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Merry Xmas out of work America - Bye Bye Benefits

As the jobless crisis lurches on and record numbers of Americans are still looking for work, the holiday season will provide an extra kick in the nuts to those long term out of work citizens as Congress failed to pass an extension of benefits to the so called "99ers". While those who opposed the measure to extend the benefits claimed to do so out of concern for growing deficits and debt, they are largely the same people who would like to extend the current tax rates for the top 2% of earners.

Some numbers to consider are the $5-6 billion per month that extending the unemployment benefits would cost; and the $700 billion over the next 10 years in lost revenue for the treasury. Bear in mind that of the $5-6 billion that would go to the long-term unemployed would almost entirely be funneled directly back into the economy as those people, still struggling, purchase groceries, pay rent, and address other immediate family needs. The money that would go to the millionaires and billionaires, on the other hand, would have no such assurances. With the American economy in trouble, many of them might opt to invest their new found tax cuts in companies overseas or in corporations that are outsourcing jobs to China and India.

While there aren't many differences between the Dems and the 'Pubs, here is a stark contrast that voters should remember for 2011 and 2012. Those angry voters who were so upset with the lack of jobs and the feeling that Congress wasn't doing enough to help them, have just been shown a preview at what a GOP controlled Congress and White House would offer those struggling the most. Nada.

For further reading on the House's failure to pass HR 6419:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Simplify the tax code?

A very common argument that echoes through the halls of Congress is that the tax code is too complicated. The number of pages that comprise the tax code are often lauded by Senators or Congressmen looking to get on television. Those that would like to see a flat rate tax often use the length of the tax code as proof that it is bad. But so rarely is this lengthly tax code explained to the American people.

Well, listen up. The reason the tax code is so long and complex is because WE the people have continued to support politicians who give us tax breaks/cuts based on things we and our families do. Things like tax cuts for energy efficient home renovations; paying student loan interest; paying mortgage interest; donating to charities; and all the other thousands of things that people are able to claim every year in order to save some money on their taxes.

Simply put, those thousands of pages of the tax codes are thousands of pages of ways we Americans can SAVE money on our taxes, and so any effort to "simplify the code" will undoubtedly be met with strong opposition and the accusation that those trying to "simplify the code" are plotting a tax hike for hard working families. Many of the credits are aimed at the middle class which explains why the regressive taxers (those that want a flat tax across the board) are so keen to "simplify the code" and eliminate these tax credits for working families in exchange for lower tax rates on the rich.

As with all things parroted around the capitol and on Cable News, it is important to understand what the buzz words really mean in order to figure out the right course of action.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bush Lied...Literary Integrity Died

A nice little article about how George W. Bush's new book "Decision Points" contains many snippets and anecdotes that have been lifted from a number of authors who have written books about the Bush White House. Ironically, some of those works were, when published, accused by the White House of being inaccurate. I guess someone must have been lying back then.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not Far Enough...to the left

In the aftermath of Bloody Tuesday, in which over 60 Congressional seats, 19 State Legislatures, and at least 11 Governors have gone from blue to red, the pundits are saying over and over again that this is the result of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid cabal going too far to the left for the American people to stomach. While that feeds a great narrative if you are arguing that the GOP has a big mandate to roll back what little progress has been made over the past two years, it misses the reality of what happened this election. President Obama and the gang were not too far to the left, they weren't even on the left. They were barely in the middle.

As this NYTimes blog from last year points out, many progressives were very upset with the administration for its caving to Republicans and conservative Democrats in the healthcare legislation that violated many of the campaign promises then candidate Obama made in 2008.

Once again, the GOP have managed to move the markers for what constitutes the "left" and "center" of political discourse. By consistently lashing out at policies proposed by the administration and the Democrats in Congress as being far to the left when in fact they are right of center, the Republicans have waged an incredibly successful public relations campaign and if polled, many Americans would believe that the Affordable Care Act was far to the left but that's without a single payer system or even a public option. How can something so vehemently decried by real progressives as over compromised and a gift to the insurance industry also be some Maoist takeover of the American government?

What caused this dramatic swing in the electorate was not so much people changing their voting patterns from 2008 but rather so many of the Democrats' key supporters being disgusted with the horse trading that went on in the last year and a half. African Americans voters and young voters who show solid support for the President did not come out to vote on Tuesday. While some of that can surely be chalked up to the unreliability of young voters to show up at the polls with some celebrity urging them on, it looks like a larger part of it was simply voter disappointment with how the Democrats had compromised their legislation and themselves in the short time that they held massive majorities in both houses of Congress. This disappointment resulted in much lower turnouts in those core constituencies.

This further boosted Republican outcomes because those who disagreed with the fundamentals of helping your fellow citizens and ensuring that everyone has access to health care regardless of what pre-existing conditions exist were clearly fired up to come out and vote for the GOP, but those who were upset with the Democrats and saw little differences between the two parties are the ones who stayed home. And while I personally believe that not voting is one of the most cowardly acts a citizen in a democracy can commit, I understand the frustration that made people feel that packing the bong, playing another round of Madden on the xbox, and proving pundits right that young voters are unreliably AKA should be ignored, was the best thing to do on Tuesday.

The Democrats lost on Tuesday because the early economic predictions of bad times to come were too cautious, the stimulus was too small, the health care reform too conservative, and the financial reform too toothless. The Democrats, in an effort to woo independents who are too stupid to stick with one political direction for more than 2 years, lost their base and were abandoned on election day by the people who sent them there in 2008.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Might as well earn it

Why should someone like Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) be selected as the next leader of the Democrat minority in the House? Because Democrats might as well earn the characterizations that the Dems are presenting policies that are from the far left of American politics. Perhaps a few years of seeing an actual progressive politician in charge will remind America that killing the public option for the Affordable Care Act was not the result of some vast socialist conspiracy. Watering down the financial regulations at the behest of the banks was not part of some radical liberal strategy. And yet both the Dodd/Frank Act and the Affordable Care Act were made out to be the result of the Democrats in Congress forcing through a supremely leftist agenda. So if they're going to do that when the policies are already center-right to begin with, what more can they say?

If there's one thing I wish that the Democrats would learn from their Republican colleagues it would be that there's no inherent problem with advocating policies that are far from the middle, so long as you do a good job of making your opponent's most moderate proposals seem extreme, and you phrase your own arguments so that people can identify some familiar aspects of your policy. We've seen this with the Sarah Palins, Jim DeMints, and Rand Pauls who advocate very right wing policies yet attack anyone who opposes them as some far left wing nut.

Having a true progressive at the reins for a few years will remind people that they really are in favor of the so called "socialism" in America; from social security to Medicare, Americans like their government programs. Somehow the Democrats' messaging in the past couple of years was so weak that they allowed the GOP to take up the mantle of defending Medicare against spending cuts.

So now that Pelosi has to hand in her gavel, maybe it's time to take a real progressive activist, who almost voted against the Affordable Care Act because he recognized it was far too big of a gift to the insurance companies and not focused enough on providing quality care to Americans, a chance to lead his party and remind America about the differences between what the GOP offers and what the Democrats can offer. Maybe if the public could see what real liberal policies were, they wouldn't be so quick to accept Karl Rove's and Sean Hannity's instant labeling of so many moderates as extreme leftists.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wow! Washington State you people are idiots!

People earning under $200,000 per year vote to prevent Washington state from taxing those making more than $200,000. Way to go poor people! A thank you card is on its way from the Billionaire's club.

Washington State Rejects Income Tax on Wealthiest Residents - Bloomberg

Time to put the Blue Dogs down

Despite what the loud mouthed imbeciles who work for the cable news channels will no doubt be saying for the next week or so, the midterm elections of 2010 are not the result of Congress having been "too liberal" or "too far to the left." Republicans and their minions have been and will continue spinning their tales of how the electorate reacted to the liberal overreaching of a left-wing President, Speaker of the House, and Senate majority leader but that fantasy only works because of the immense vastness of American ignorance. In actuality, the Democrats lost the midterms because of their centrist policies and their incompetence at the bargaining table which discouraged the progressives while the racist subtext of the conservative movement fired up those hopeless fools who reliably vote against their interests in sending Republicans to Washington.

Beginning with the Stimulus Obama, Reid and Pelosi caved into the demands of the "No Sayers". Much of the blame for those capitulations rests in the hands of the Blue Dog Democrats, who either voted against, or threatened to vote against the bill without significant concessions; concessions that ultimately weakened the administration and the Democrats' positions in the eyes of the public. What better gift could the Blue Dogs have delivered to the GOP than the ability to say "See how bad the bill is? Even your own party is against it." So while the Stimulus bill should have provided large amounts of government money to repair our failing infrastructure and get people back to work, it instead turned into tax cuts (over $250 billion in tax cuts) that was largely unnoticed by the public.

The same problems came up during the Affordable Care Act debate as Blue Dogs once again demanded changes to the legislation that fed the GOP narrative that the bill was bad. In truth, the bill was bad but mostly because of the compromises that were made before even approaching the bargaining table. When Congress should have been discussing a "Medicare for all" piece of legislation, they were instead caving in to the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies to create a giant corporate handout in the form of mandated coverage. Because of the cowardice of the Blue Dogs not only was a "Medicare for all" option left undiscussed but even the public option was gutted to ensure the votes of Blue Dogs.

Despite all of those compromises, Republicans still stood firm, united as a group and blocked the bill with every parliamentary maneuver they could come up with; from attempting to derail the bill with an endless series of amendments to forcing the reading of lengthy amendments to run out the clock. They even went so far as to hold up funding for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to kill the health care bill. So when the "brave" senators from Nebraska and Connecticut could have sent a strong signal to the Republicans that their tactics of stalling and delaying the bill will not work Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman sent them the opposite message and began to waffle on the bill over minor provisions in the bill, allowing the GOP to once again rise up with another wedge issue (this time the specter of federally funded abortions) and made certain that the final bill would be an even more damaged piece of legislation than it was before. The longer the efforts to pass these bills dragged out, the more and more unpopular they became as pundits attacked while more of those polled were now unhappy with the bills for not going far enough as well as those who thought they went too far.

Beneath all of these policy debates though, was the strongest weapon in the GOP armory and that was Barack Obama's appearance. Had it not been for his middle name, Hussein, or the color of his skin, many of the attacks on Obama or the Affordable Care Act would not have been able to muster so much strength. Those opposed to this administration were able to profit from the subtext of "taking our country back," because they fed a narrative that Obama, someone who does not look like an American President had taken the country from them, those that do "look American." Couple that with the outrageous claims that Obama was not born in America, or that he was a secret Muslim, and all the ingredients for a reactionary racist revolution were in place.

So where does that leave progressives? We have a rough couple of years ahead of us as the Republicans resume hacking away at the little progress that has been made over the last 50 years. Along with new efforts to restrict access to abortions and non-abstinence sexual education, we can probably expect at least one serious effort to impeach President Obama. And while the minority Republicans were united in standing in the way of their opponents, the Democrats will likely cave on a number of issues as they always do, strengthening the GOP in the eyes of the electorate and rewarding their obstructionist policies of the past two years.

Not much of a surprise, but the young voters of America are mostly to blame for the results caused by their apathy that allowed the over 65 portion of the electorate to grow from 15% in 2008 to 25% on Tuesday. As much as any of us might love Grandma and Grandpa, for the most part, they have some ass backward policies. Whether that comes in the form of racism or other prejudices, voters aged 18-35 must not allow the over 65 crowd to determine so much of our elections.

But all is not lost. While many Democrats were defeated on Tuesday, a large number of those defeats were dealt to the Blue Dogs who got us into this mess to begin with. The once powerful caucus of more than 50 Blue Dogs has been neutered down to less than 25. And let us not forget that the Republicans are about to send some seriously crazy individuals to Congress like Senator Elect Rand Paul, who adamantly believes that private companies should have a protected right to discriminate on the basis of race and that government has no business stopping them. So let's look at 2010 as a wake up call to be less passive. Let's demand our representatives that are left do what's right for their constituents and explain to their constituents why it's the right thing to do. Democrats and other progressives need to get out there and talk to the people who election after election vote with the guy they think is on their side but is really on the corporations' payroll, like John Boehner who handed out checks on behalf of the tobacco lobby on the floor of the House.

So let's hang in there and wait for the openings that will surely come from another GOP controlled House. Let's keep an eye out for the gay-bashing congressman who sexually harasses a congressional page, or gets caught tap-tapping his foot in an airport bathroom, or the congressmen who will inevitably become mired in some corruption scandals a la Duke Cunningham. And let's remind those Democrats that are left in office that it's time to stand firm. If they cannot reign in their members they will once again appear weak as the remaining Blue Dogs vote with the Republicans and give their awful bills the air of bi-partisanship. Be strong...and I mean Jackass strong!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Voting, misunderstood - by Seth Godin

Voting, misunderstood

This year, fewer than 40% of voting age Americans will actually vote.

A serious glitch in self-marketing, I think.

If you don't vote because you're trying to teach politicians a lesson, you're tragically misguided in your strategy...

Read more at Seth Godin's Blog

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity

If you took a picture of this sign at the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear please comment with a link to the picture or email it to putridpundits@gmail.com.

Thanks and enjoy the sanity.

And now thanks to Iggy82, here is the first photo of the sign at the Rally:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grading 'Waiting for Superman' | The Nation

Grading 'Waiting for Superman' | The Nation

Here's what you see in Waiting for Superman, the new documentary that celebrates the charter school movement while blaming teachers unions for much of what ails American education: working- and middle-class parents desperate to get their charming, healthy, well-behaved children into successful public charter schools.

Here's what you don't see: the four out of five charters that are no better, on average, than traditional neighborhood public schools (and are sometimes much worse); charter school teachers, like those at the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles, who are unionized and like it that way; and noncharter neighborhood public schools, like PS 83 in East Harlem and the George Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, that are nationally recognized for successfully educating poor children.

Read More at The Nation

Monday, October 25, 2010

National Shame

On July 27th, 2002 a fifteen year old child was wounded and taken prisoner by American forces in the village of Ayub Kheyl, Afghanistan. During the firefight that preceded his capture, Khadr was shot twice in the back causing gaping wounds in his chest that would still require treatment 10 months later.

For the next few months he was held at Bargram Airbase, the site where much of the known harsh interrogation, or torture took place. It was there that the worst torture the 15, then 16 year old Khadr faced in detention was carried out. But it didn't end there. In October of 2002 Khadr was transferred from Bagram to Gitmo where he has languished for 8 long years. He is now the last detainee at Gitmo with a Western passport, and the only detainee captured on the battlefield to be tried for murder.

The mere fact that Canada is the last country to remove its citizens from the torture and abuse prone facility that is Gitmo is shameful enough, but that this detainee was a child soldier at the time of his alleged offense makes this a truly unforgivable dereliction of Canada's duty, and responsibility to its citizens. It is generally understood in the international community that child soldiers, even if they commit heinous acts, are themselves victims and should not be prosecuted as though they are adults.

In a decent society, the reason for punishing people who have committed offenses is that they had a choice and they chose to violate the law. But what choice did a teenage Omar Khadr have? His father took him to Afghanistan as a child. Once there, what were his options? He had none.

No...there is no justification for his treatment first by his father by bringing him into the world of Islamic extremism, then by his American captors for torturing him and denying him proper treatment as a child soldier, and finally by the Canadian government who could have requested he be repatriated as every other Western nation has done for their citizens in American detention.

After 8 long years in detention, Omar Khadr may well be a hardened Muslim extremist today, but if he is, then he is one of America's making. When he was first apprehended, at the age of 15, he was a child thrust onto a battlefield not of his making and should have been rehabilitated, not tortured.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting for Superman...part 1

I haven't seen it yet, so I'll keep this short. From everything I've seen so far about this new documentary that everyone talking about education is incessantly promoting, I can't help but feel like the anti-teacher establishment is getting ready to kick the union in the balls. That being said, I do plan to see this as soon as it arrives to a theater near me but people should consider the following when seeing this movie.

Teacher Evaluations
To say we should not have protections for bad teachers is an easy statement to make, but how do you determine what is or isn't a good teacher? For the last 10 years that has been almost entirely based upon student test scores on standardized tests. That is a terrible way to evaluate a teacher and provides almost no means to evaluate any teachers who do not teach math or language arts. Everyone should be in favor of rewarding "good" teachers and removing "bad" teachers but no one has been able to come up with a fair and decent way to make that judgement.

So long as we are basing teacher performance on students' standardized test scores, we create a disincentive for teachers to work together and learn from each other. Every teacher will be going after that performance based pay bonus and will be unwilling to share helpful advice with their fellow teachers. It is easy to attack the teacher's unions but it is much more difficult to come up with a better way to evaluate teacher performance.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Farewell Rick Sanchez, it was just a matter of time

Goodbye Rick Sanchez. After years of making a complete ass out of yourself you went a little too far in your rant about all those people like Jon Stewart who run things and aren't an oppressed minority.

While it's certainly a shame that CNN dismissed Sanchez for what was one part imbecilic inaccuracy (Jon Stewart is a bigot) and one part unthinking Jew-baiting frustration (people like Jon Stewart run the media) the fact is that Sanchez does not belong on a news network...unless perhaps Johnny Knoxville has started a news network.

Rick Sanchez had a lot to say last week about Jon Stewart, the intellectual elites and his own father's history of doing manual labor for a living to make a better life for his family. That last part is extremely admirable, but what I think Sanchez's biggest offense through his time at CNN has been his extreme waste of potential. Sure, by his own admission he didn't grow up in a highly intellectual environment but he made it all the way to CNN, and even if it was a temporary gig to hold an audience between Campbell Brown's departure and the Spitzer/Parker tag team (think that costs extra?) he did have a nationwide 8pm time slot on CNN. But he squandered it.

Instead of using his ability to connect with his audience and educate himself and the people watching his show, he just kept up with the same buffoonery that made him the target of all sorts of people, from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, to President Obama during the White House Correspondents' Dinner. But really, the saddest part of all this, is that no matter how dumb or circus-animal-like Rick Sanchez appeared, he's not the worst person the air by far. Probably not even the worst person at CNN.

Funny, for a guy who covered social media and the information age's capacity for disseminating knowledge, it almost seems like he didn't realize anyone would hear his comments on Pete Dominick's radio show.

Lastly, here's an interesting column by someone who worked with Sanchez at CNN.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

You don't need video games, your brain's already rotten

While this should not be a political issue, the frenzied screams of America's "value voters" has done an unbelievably stupid thing in forcing Electronic Arts to modify their upcoming Medal of Honor video game. For those who haven't been following this fiasco, EA's new Medal of Honor takes place in Afghanistan, a significant departure from their typical subject matter: World War II. The controversy with this newest game erupted when morons like Jack Thompson decided to try and censor the game by attacking their inclusion of "Taliban" as one of the playable options in multi-player mode.

For the benefit of you readers out there who are not familiar with "first person shooter" games, they typically consist of a single-player mode with a story that the player moves through. This often has cut-scenes, bits of dialog and other entertaining moments to give the player's twitchy fingers a bit of a breather, as well as provide the ears a break from the constant sound of gunfire. What "shooters" also tend to include in there, is a multi-player mode in which gamers can play either against each other in the room or against opponents over the internet. Here there is no story, no cut-scenes, no scripts. There is only killing the other players and staying alive.

With this new found understanding of "shooter" games, I would now like to point out the absurd substance of the complaints. Jack Thompson and his idiot think-alikes were outraged that in that multi-player mode, along with being a US soldier, a soldier from another NATO country, and maybe even an Afghan Army soldier, EA had put in the option for players to play as a "Taliban" fighter in multi-player mode. It is a pretty well established standard in the "shooter" genre to use the same characters that are in the single-player mode for the multi-player with obvious savings in programming and art design.

Now, let's imagine that the option is removed from the game. The Taliban is no longer a playable option in multi-player but multi-player is still part of the game. What does that really mean for the game play? Now players are all US soldiers running around killing each other. Is that so much better Jack? Would you prefer that people in multi-player mode run through the maps shooting other American or NATO soldiers? And it is exactly this kind of thoughtless argument that these "values voters" or religious extremists put forward that show how utterly moronic their viewpoints are.

So now EA has yielded to the pressure of these half-wits and is doing a "find/replace" on the word Taliban in their multi-player mode and replacing it with "Opposing Force." Maybe if these nuts had focused a bit of this energy on preventing real life violence (invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq) then EA wouldn't have based their game on Afghanistan and the Taliban. Congratulations Jack Thompson, you're a dumbass.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pledges, promises and black eyes

Don't get me wrong, I have long ago walked away, in disgust, from the cheering section of the Democratic party, but when Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republicans march up on stage and wave "A Pledge to America" to rally American voters back to the GOP, I can't help but think of Marlin Brando's epic role as Stanley Kowalski, or any abuser begging his victim to come back to him. Wake up Ameirca! The Republican party, with Bush and Cheney in the White House, Dennis Hastert in the House, Bill Frist in the Senate and the 5-4 advantage in the Supreme Court marched the country into two hopeless wars of occupation in the middle east killing more of our young men and women than the total death toll of 9-11. They gutted the regulatory bodies that oversee resource extraction contributing to mining tragedies, oil spills, and other problems that have yet to surface. These so called fiscal conservatives ballooned the deficits and the debts while giving away billions of dollars to the wealthiest 1% of the country. These are the black eyes, and the cuts and bruises that the GOP and their false promises to address the debt have inflicted on the American people.

And yet, like the victim of domestic violence whose bruises are starting to fade, and whose bones are starting to heal, the voting public is getting ready to rush back into the arms of the GOP and allow everything that has been done to help dig us out of the Bush messes be undone. The promises and the rhetoric coming from Mr. Boehner and his members are so full of buzz words and talking points that do not amount to single piece of actual legislative options. They repeat again and again that they want to return spending to the 2008 levels. Well, Mr. Boehner, tell us, what exactly are you proposing we cut? What popular entitlement programs will you announce that you would like to do away with? In interview after interview Republicans and their spokespeople have been echoing the same hollow lines without giving any specifics. And while the reason for the vague answers should be clear, it evidently is not to the majority of those polled.

I hate the health care reform bill, but the way to improve health care for all Americans is to strengthen the bill, create the missing public option and stop guaranteeing customers to a profiteering industry that cares more about quarterly revenues than patient care.

I hated the bank bailouts but in the end, most of that money has been or will soon be collected back from the recipients of that money. If that money could be put towards some real green jobs initiatives or other programs designed to truly help create jobs here at home then it would be even better. Taking the money that has been paid back and giving it to the top 2% of income earners through extending the tax cuts seems to be a very cruel move against the middle class.

To those in the top 2% of income earners who care nothing for the plight of their fellow citizens, I encourage you to stand firm with the GOP and vote for them this November since, after all, they are fighting hardest to protect your interests over those of the bottom 98%. To those arguing that giving the rich more money will result in more jobs here at home I have only this to say. What requirement is there in the tax cut legislation to ensure that the monies they receive will stay here? Once that money is returned to the wealthy tax payers, there is no stopping them from investing that money overseas or purchasing goods from abroad.

If Republicans were serious about helping American industries they would have helped pass an efficient, single payer health care system that alleviates the employer's concerns around health care costs. If they were serious about cutting the deficit they would have worked with Democrats to find a way to bring ALL of our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. If they were serious about securing America they would have joined in the efforts to eliminate Don't Ask, Don't Tell once and for all and allow our brave men and women to serve in the armed forces regardless of their sexual orientation.

So when John Boehner calls you up to say "baby, I'm sorry. I won't ever do that again. You know I love you," do what should have been done in 1994 and tell him to go fuck himself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Nation: The Big Green Buy

How the Obama administration can Go Green and make it easier for the rest of us to Go Green as well.

The Big Green Buy | The Nation

Monday, July 26, 2010

WikiLeaks and classified information

In the aftermath of Wikileaks' release of some 90,000 classified documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan (2004-2010) many have condemned the site for endangering our troops. Since its launch in 2007, WikiLeaks has been responsible for bringing us video of a helicopter attack on civilians and journalists, corporate documents relating to toxic dumping, and even a DOD intelligence report on WikiLeaks itself.

The notion that the site, which posts documents and information that is anonymously submitted, has been accused of endangering coalition troops in Aghanistan with this most recent release. I would ask those that are making this claim to explain how they believe the soldiers are being put at risk. Do they believe that an incident report from 2004 exposes any information that is still relevant to where the troops are today? Do they believe that there is strategic data in those reports that can be mined by Al Qaeda to target coalition forces? Or is it the even more ridiculous argument that the information in those reports is proof of civilian deaths at the hands of coalition forces and that somehow the publication will enrage the local population?

I deem the last argument to be the most ridiculous because if you had traveled through Afghanistan a month ago, long before these documents surfaced, the local people in the combat areas already knew of the civilian deaths accumulating under the occupation. These revelations are only revelations to the American people and are not new information to the Afghans. To believe that they are somehow ignorant to their neighbors deaths from coalition air strikes and firefights is so absurd that it borders on the delusional. The only people surprised by the information in the leaked documents are the American people and it's about time they knew the truth of the occupation of Afghanistan.

What we should take away from this document leak is that there are far too many items that are classified for no good reason. Hiding documents by classifying them as state secrets is a convenient means for the government to hide the truth from the voters, thus preventing them having the information necessary to be an informed citizenry. If the abuse of that authority were curtailed, then more weight might be given to documents deemed "classified," but so long as every slightly embarrassing document is deemed a state secret vital to national defense...well, we know what happens when you cry wolf.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Newsroom - Video/Audio: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)

Bernie Sanders takes on the Republican goal to eliminate the estate tax and give the Waltons a $33 billion tax break while denying unemployment benefits to out of work Americans.

Newsroom - Video/Audio: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The real problems with Teach for America

Just came across this great post on Teach for America's failings. A great read for anyone concerned with the state of our public education.

Tenured Radical: Is Teach For America A Program For The Poor Or For The Rich?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Companion Guide to WHPB

For those of you who watch Robert Gibbs' ever entertaining White House Press Briefings and don't always know who the questions are coming from, here's a list of the reporters in the room and what networks/newpapers they are affiliated with.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Obama's Katrina

The conservative establishment hacks have been eager to label the oil spill caused by BP's deepwater drilling operation "Obama's Katrina." Ignoring the fact that conservatives have been fanatically chanting "Drill, baby, drill!" since the summer of 2008, and ignoring as well the claims that they want smaller government with less interference and regulation, many are shouting now that the federal response was inadequate or not fast enough. They have attempted to draw parallels between President Bush's delayed efforts to get to New Orleans and President Obama's initially hands-off approach while BP said they had the spill under control.

While one might expect conservatives to support Obama's efforts to allow the private sector to remedy the situation they created, they have instead called for a "big government" response to the oil spill. Personally, I am in favor a massive federal cleanup effort with all costs being billed to BP down the road, but had the President taken such action initially, I can only imagine the outcry and screams of government takeover that would be going on right now at FoxNews by Hannity, Rove, Palin and company.

In a desperate effort to further connect the dots between the BP spill and Hurricane Katrina, the ever repulsive Neil Cavuto had former FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown on to share his thoughts on the drilling rig explosion and subsequent oil spill into the Gulf.

And here is Robert Gibbs' reaction to the Cavuto interview after FoxNews White House correspondent Wendel Goler asks about the spill being Obama's Katrina. Well done Mr. Gibbs.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Look who's asking for Big Government help now

All those tough, conservative governors that are supposed to be against a large federal government are lining up in droves to receive federal assistance. What a surprise...

Monday, April 5, 2010

A quick note on Religion

While reading Melissa Harris-Lacewell's "A Right for the Life of the Living" in the April 5th edition of The Nation, I couldn't help but puzzle once again people's strange invocations of "God's will" or "God's plan" in horrible situations. Suppose for a moment that you believed that God was this all-powerful, all-knowing being, and that whatever happened on Earth was part of his divine plan, then you would think that whatever happened was a) meant to happen, and b) God's will, and finally c) an inevitable part of God's plan. Believing that, from a religious standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense to punish criminals (they were just carrying out God's will), treat disease (interfering with God's will), or work to undue any damage done in the world since it all happened for a reason.

I realize that some people, mourning the loss of a loved one, or trying to make sense of a tragedy too awful to comprehend feel the need to turn to some superstitious nonsense and say things like "at least they're with God now" but it saddens me to think of how many seemingly rational people can think like this and make decisions about important things while believing this fairytale lunacy. No offense to religious doctors, but if you think your patient's cancer was given to them by God how can you effectively work against it?

The Real Difference: Tea Baggers vs Anti-war Rallies

NOTE: I started writing this a week or so ago and forgot to pick it back up so I figured I should just post it now and finish it later.

In an article today from Foxnews.com, the case is made that while there have been some nasty things shouted or written on posters by the Tea Party movement, it is no different than the nasty things that were said of President Bush during the anti-war protests leading up to and during the unnecessary Iraq war. While on the face of it that may seem true there are some striking differences that people should keep in mind when comparing the two.

When millions of people took to the streets AROUND THE WORLD in 2003 to oppose a US invasion of Iraq they did so not over trumped up charges of falsified birth certificates or allegations that "dubya" wanted to kill our grannies, but rather on the basis that the claims of WMDs were likely false or at least incorrect, and that going to war would result in killing millions of people (and thousands of Americans). Those have all been shown to be correct at this point, and were it not for the clever misinformation campaign led by Vice President Cheney to link Iraq/Al Queda/9-11 in public statements to confuse the public, we might not have had to go into Iraq.

The Tea Baggers, on the other hand, have as their end goal to lower the taxes on the rich bring back the usage of the N-word into the casual American vernacular. I would say that in a thoughtful society, a little more deference must be given to those trying to stop the unnecessary deaths of millions, against those in the highest income earners wanting to save a few bucks.

Another one of the Tea Baggers' claims is that President Obama is illegitimate and lying to the American people about his citizenship and his religion. While we here at PutridPundits think that religion is silly and whatever flavor of that silliness should never be the basis for support or opposition to a particular candidate, we do recognize how to the casual observer these claims might sound similar to those leveled against Bush after the contentious 2000 election. So yes, FOXNEWS would be correct in saying that both the anti-war protesters from the Bush era and the Tea Baggers today are accusing the President of lying and being illegitimate, but the substance behind those lies is important to investigate before saying they're all equal.

President Obama has been accused, way back during the campaign, of being a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya. Despite how ridiculous such allegations were, and despite releasing documents no white candidate for President has ever been so incessantly hounded to produce, there are still these fools shouting about Obama's mother secretly giving birth in Kenya and then Hawaii issuing a false birth certificate. Meanwhile, the accusations of Bush's illegitimacy stemmed from the contested Florida election in which recounting suspect ballots was prevented by George Bush's Florida campaign co-chair.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Obama sneaks in and out of Afghanistan

This weekend President Barack Obama snuck out of Washington with a Blackberryless entourage of journalists and flew to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan for a "surprise" visit. By calling it a "surprise" visit it almost seems as though that isn't the only kind of visit a President can make to Afghanistan or Iraq. When did President Bush ever announce ahead of time that he was heading to Iraq or Afghanistan? Will Obama ever have the luxury of declaring when and where he will visit? The fact that neither President has, in the 9 years of occupation, been able to announce a trip to that country is a black eye for the whole worthless mission of invading and occupying Afghanistan. If an American President is unable to safely visit either of our occupied countries without sneaking in and out, then clearly these endeavors have failed and we should acknowledge those failures and withdraw. Every day that American forces remain in Afghanistan and Iraq past January 20th 2009, is another day of failure that belongs to President Obama.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stop the lies!

Today on C-Span a caller (Irene from Connecticut) read aloud a letter she said she had received from Medicare. It was really sad to hear her on the phone as I don't believe she was trying to deceive anyone. I think she was honestly confused by the direct mailer that she was reading and thought it had originated from the government, and not some scheming health insurance lobbyists. While searching for it I came across this advertisement that contained several versions of the mailer she described. The company, ArmLeads.com proclaims itself to be a "senior marketing specialists" meaning that they are specialists at taking advantage of our most vulnerable citizens.

Here is Sherrod Brown's denunciation of these mailers:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Learn the lessons

Since the American people are not the smartest when it comes to voting, and since it is inevitable that over the next 2-4 years the Democratic majority in the House and Senate will decrease or possibly end, I hope that the party of FDR is taking notes on how to run a successful opposition. While the Republicans did not manage to stop the health care bills that crawled through both houses of our legislative body, they did manage to strongly influence both the eventual law and the public perception of the majority party.

Without casting a single vote in its favor, the minority managed to get over 160 amendments added to the senate health care bill and push the resulting legislation far to the right of what those of us who voted for "hope" and "change" wanted. The health insurance bill that Obama signed into law was a far cry from anything the late Ted Kennedy had strongly advocated for all those years that he was in office. It was a far cry from anything Representative Dennis Kucinich could support with a clean conscience. And it fell far short of what the country needs in order to say we have substantively improved our health care system.

One of the reasons was the failure of the Democratic leadership to fight back against the minority's talking points, and their fear of being seen as partisan after the GOP made such a big deal of how post-partisan President Obama had promised to be. But in this sad tale there is at least the redeeming element that perhaps a lesson can be learned. The party of Nixon and Duke Cunningham has shown that if you play the game correctly, 41 senators can be almost as powerful as a super majority. They have shown that withholding money from our soldiers in times of war can be done for political reasons without repercussions. And they have shown that despite years of leading the charge to kneecap the public insurance plans that exist today (Medicare and Medicaid) it is still possible to pretend to be its stalwart defender in order to confuse voters.

So I hope that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, and Tim Kaine have been taking notes because it probably won't be too long before they will be counted on to oppose Speaker Boehner, and senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and when they do, I hope they can do half as good a job at getting their way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Slope Radio music on the blog

Greetings readers,

I've heard some mixed reviews/reports about the slope radio widget on the page. Please vote and let me know whether you would like it to stay or go.


GOP Bullshit: It's absurd because you have been absurd

Senator Judd Gregg, who came very close to being a member of President Obama's cabinet, has been ranting on the floor of the Senate today about how unfair and absurd it is that seemingly good amendments are going to get voted down because the Democratic senators do not want the bill to have to go back to the House of Representatives. He tossed around the word absurd over and over again when referring to the lack of support for their amendments while in the same breath saying that HR 3590 (the Senate Health Care law) should be repealed. Even if everyone one of their amendments were accepted by the Senate, none of them would vote in support of the reconciliation or a conference bill that would be come back to the Senate from the House.

Perhaps, if the Republicans had not threatened to filibuster the reforms every step of the way, then the Democrats could have entertained some of their amendments into the bill. Unfortunately, they decided to obstruct rather than vote down the health insurance reforms that were put together by the Democratic leadership. Given that it has already taken more than a year to get this done, it is the opposite of absurd for the Majority to wish for an end to this debacle and get the bill through and reconciled in as quick a method as is available to them. If the actions of the Majority seem absurd to Mr. Gregg, perhaps he ought to look back through the c-span archives and see what he and his colleagues have been doing for the past 8 months. He might then have a different opinion of what constitutes "absurd".

GOP Bullshit: Colloquies with your own party are stupid

While the vote that the Senate will be taking some time this week (hopefully) is merely on a few fixes that everyone wants to see take place, anyone watching the proceedings would think that the whole big Health Insurance bill were still on the docket. It is not! It has been signed into law by President Obama and any further delay on the reconciliation fix is merely keeping in place elements of HR 3590 that everyone is opposed to.

Anyone watching C-SPAN 2 today got to see what may as well have been a replay of the "debates" that were aired back in December. In these sessions a couple of GOP Senators stand around and engage in a "colloquy" so that they can dramatically ask and answer each other's questions related to the Health Insurance law. It's slightly entertaining because of the way that the GOP Senators like Judd Greg of New Hampshire, Tom Coburn (the asshole who made the clerk read aloud Bernie Sanders' 700+ page amendment to stall the vote in December), and John "won't someone tell me I lost" McCain, have been asking each other exceptionally sarcastic questions to make their points.

Judd Greg probably has the best delivery when he asks Mr. Coburn extremely leading questions that imply that anyone helped by the new legislation will not be able to find a doctor, or those with Medicare and Medicaid will have even less access to doctors. Or McCain asking Mr. Greg "but isn't this deficit neutral?" to which Mr. Greg answers "no, it is not. It is a bit of a scam." These are their opinions which go against the CBO scores, and they've all made these positions known before so it's funny how they ask the questions in a tone that suggests they are honestly curious to know the answer and don't know what their colleague is planning to say.

It's really too bad because I could see where a colloquy could be used by members of Congress to have some fair and honest airing of ideas if it took place with members of different parties. If they were asking questions that they actually wanted to hear answers to, rather than just a forum to repeat what they've already been saying, it could be very useful to the country.

GOP Bullshit: More on Amendments

From Spare Candy

GOP Bullshit: Amending the bill

Anyone who has read my previous posts about the health insurance reform knows that while I support the passage at this point, I am no fan of the bill in its current form. The absence of a single payer system, or the dropping of the public option are two big failings for anything trying to be "health care reform." That being said, the bill has come this far and needs to get through the Senate with, or without GOP votes.

Making sure that they earn their status as the party of "No!" Republican senators have been introducing a slew of, frankly, common sense amendments to the current legislation. Is it because they realize that this is happening and they should not try to offer some constructive measures to improve it? Is it because they truly care about Americans' access to quality, affordable health care? If only that were the case. These insurance company backed weasels are offering these amendments because they know that if ANY of their amendments should pass, the whole bill will need to go back to the House for yet another vote, further threatening the likelihood of the reconciliation fixes taking place, which will allow them to keep tossing around terms like "corn-husker kickback", "gator aid", and "the Louisiana purchase."

Ultimately, even if their amendments are added to the bill they still aren't going to vote for the reconciliation. We can see the evidence for that in the original Senate bill HR. 3590 which did contain some Republican amendments but in the end, not a single Republican senator voted for it. So, if they aren't going to vote for it, no matter what amendments are allowed into the bill, because they are determined to say "No" to the American people and "Yes" to the insurance company lobbyists, then why should any of their amendments be considered? The GOP has no political interest in seeing this reform have a positive impact on the American people. In fact, the worse it is in the end, the better their political futures, so one must recognize that any action taken at this point is to delay, weaken, or kill the bill. It would be tantamount to allowing Toyota executives select the brake pedal manufacturers for GM.

Monday, March 22, 2010

From the Archives: Paul Krugman vs Bill O'Reilly

Let me just say that Bill O'Reilly is an ass. Here's something I found stashed away on my computer from 2004 that illustrates the point quite well.

Just in case you don't like reading, here's the video:

Copyright 2004 CNBC, Inc.
CNBC News Transcripts

SHOW: Tim Russert (10:00 PM ET) - CNBC

August 14, 2004 Saturday

LENGTH: 9495 words

HEADLINE: Bill O'Reilly of FOX News Channel and Paul Krugman, author of "The Great Unraveling," discuss Bush's economic and foreign policies

HOST: Tim Russert

Good evening and welcome again. Tonight, two observers and commentators on the American political scene. Both have books that are must-reads for Americans who are interested in public affairs. PaulKrugman, "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way In The New Century"--he writes his column for The New York Times every Tuesday and Friday.


Professor PAUL KRUGMAN ("The Great Unraveling"): Nice to be on.

RUSSERT: And, "Who's Looking Out for You?" by Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor" on FOX News Channel.


Mr. BILL O'REILLY (FOX News, "The O'Reilly Factor"): Tim.

Mr. Krugman, let me start with you. You have a simple premise in your book which says that George Bush is a radical. Why do you use a word like radical to describe the president?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, just look at the record, right? This is the first president in American history--in fact, first leader in any history, as far as I can tell--who cut taxes on the rich while fighting a war. This is a--they follow an extremely radical policy agenda. And if you look at the groups behind the administration, look at the think tanks, they make no bones about the fact that they want to roll us back to what we were before Franklin Roosevelt; that they want to get rid of these nasty things like Social Security and Medicare, privatize them. So, you know, this is a highly--this is a radical conservative movement. And just, you know, look at Tom DeLay, the most powerful man in Congress, who is certainly not somebody you'd call a moderate.

RUSSERT: Radical--fair word?

Mr. O'REILLY: You know, I think the Bush administration wants to impose a smaller government on the country. I think they don't trust the government to operate the funds. Obviously Social Security has been looted by the federal government. So, you know, one man's radicalism is another man's practicality. But I'm not here to defend the Bush administration; I want everybody to know that. They can defend themselves, all right? But obviously I don't see them as the harmful, pernicious influence that Mr. Krugman does.

Why not?

Mr. O'REILLY: Because I believe that Mr. Bush's philosophy is a philosophy that the Republicans have embraced for decades: smaller government; let the private sector drive the economy; let the folks have their money back; let the entrepreneurial class get a tax break, so they'll hire more people. And if you look at The New York Times op-ed on last Wednesday, you'll see George Shultz has a chart that the economy is rebounding after a tremendous blow on 9/11. So that's the supply side, that's the Republican philosophy. I don't see any deviation from what Ronald Reagan did to George Bush.

RUSSERT: Can't you make the case that tax cuts stimulated the economy?

Prof. KRUGMAN: George Shultz is a good economist and a partisan Republican. He's a good enough economist that he knows how to make a chart that is true but misleading. And what that chart shows you is just rates of change. Doesn't give you any sense of level. And what it's really telling you is that after three terrible years on jobs, we've had one year where the rate of change is OK. But that's like saying, 'Well, we're down 400 feet, and we've now climbed 100 feet, so we're back where we started.' And it's not true.

The fact is--simple comparison--in the 2002 economic report of the president, which they--you know, this is the Bush administration that's put out after 9/11, it's put out after the stock market crash--they said by--you know, on average in 2004, we're going to have 138 million payroll jobs in the United States. The actual number right now is about 131 million, so we're seven million short of where the Bush administration said we were going to be. And they said that after these blows. So it takes a lot of spinning to call that success.

And, you know, think above all--when people say, 'We want less government,' you know, let's talk about what that means. You actually go through the numbers, and the only way you can get a significantly smaller government, the only way you could bring spending in line with the amount of revenue that we've lost from the Bush tax cuts, is to cut deep into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid 'cause that's where the money is. The federal government--you know, a Bush administration official once said, 'The federal government is, basically, a big insurance company that's got a sideline business in national defense.' And if you're talking about smaller government, let's be clear, that's a euphemism for saying, 'Let's slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.'

Mr. O'REILLY: Well, I don't buy that all. And, you know, Mr. Krugman is a smart guy, but Mr. Krugman was absolutely dead 100 percent wrong in his columns two years ago when he predicted the Bush tax cuts would lead to a deeper recession. You can read his book and see how wrong he was.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Actually, you can read it. I never said that.

Mr. O'REILLY: Sure you did...

Prof. KRUGMAN: I said that it would lead to a lousy job creation...

Mr. O'REILLY: ...column after column after column. You made the point, in your book, OK, that these tax cuts were going to be disastrous for the economy.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No.

Mr. O'REILLY: They haven't been.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I'm sorry, that's a lie.

Mr. O'REILLY: It's not a lie.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Let me just say it's a lie. I said they were ineffective at job creation. And if you look at the Bush administration...

Mr. O'REILLY: Hold on, hold on. Hold it. Now 'ineffective at job creation,' what is that? Semantics now?

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it means that...

Mr. O'REILLY: The economy is based on job creation, and you're saying it's ineffective. Don't call me a liar, pal. That's what you do all the time, and I'm not going to sit here and take it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well--no. I'm sorry. You just did.

Mr. O'REILLY: 'Ineffective'? You can--that's the biggest bunch of spin in the world.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Find a place where I said that they were going to cause a recession.

Mr. O'REILLY: You said--you...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Find a place where I ca--said it.

Mr. O'REILLY: Look, you want to call it ineffective in job creation. What is a recession? A recession is when the GNP...

Prof. KRUGMAN: No.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...goes backward. Everybody knows it's going forward.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I...

Mr. O'REILLY: Pounded column after column: 'Disastrous for the economy,"Tax cuts are disastrous.'

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, I...

Mr. O'REILLY: It hasn't been.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I said the tax cuts were not going to be effective at creating jobs, and the job creation...

Mr. O'REILLY: And you were wrong.

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...record is lousy.

Mr. O'REILLY: In your opinion.

Prof. KRUGMAN: This is the worst...

RUSSERT: There has been a net loss of jobs.

Prof. KRUGMAN: There has been a net loss of jobs.

Mr. O'REILLY: Since when?

RUSSERT: In the Bush administration.

Prof. KRUGMAN: In the Bush administration.

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, 9/11 did it. Not happen? Did it not happen?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Again, 2002 economic report of the president, they said we were going to be seven million jobs ahead of where we are now.

Mr. O'REILLY: OK, they were wrong. I'll say, again, I'm not defending them.

Prof. KRUGMAN: They--the job creation over the last 10 months, the 1.5 million...

Mr. O'REILLY: Look...

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...which the Bushies boast about, that is a slower pace of job creation than Clinton had from ninety...

Mr. O'REILLY: We've got a 5.6 percent unemployment rate here. In the state of Florida, which is one of the states that's going to be the election (unintelligible), you got over 60 percent saying the economy is good or excellent. It's a state-by-state situation, all right? And I'm just tired of this stuff.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, I'm tired of...

Mr. O'REILLY: Look, if you think it's bad, fine.

Prof. KRUGMAN: You know...

Mr. O'REILLY: And if Bush made a mistake in his estimation of job creation, you're probably right.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Look, let's...

Mr. O'REILLY: But you paint Armageddon; so does your newspaper. And it's baloney.

RUSSERT: All right. We need to stop.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, this is what--yeah, OK. This is not your show; you can't cut my mike. Look, what...

Mr. O'REILLY: Oh, another cheap shot.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, I--well, it's true.

Mr. O'REILLY: You know, you're a cheap-shot artist, and you know it.

RUSSERT: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold on, hold on.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Good man.

RUSSERT: All right. Go ahead, you finish.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah, let's finish this. The--what we were saying--what I said--you know, people can read the book. Actually, what I want to do is sell books. Go ahead, buy the book, paperback edition. The--what I said was this was not the kind of stimulus program that was going to be effective. And if you gave any of my college sophomores the right to run budget deficits as big as what we're now running, any of them could do a whole lot better than this. What we have--look, these days Bush is out on the road boasting of 1.5 million jobs over the last 10 months; that's 150,000 jobs a month. The US economy needs 140,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. So that's just barely gaining ground, and that's after three terrible years. Right now you take a look, you say--the other comparison is under Bill Clinton, the economy for 96 months added an average of more than 230,000 jobs a month. So here we are with Bush with one year, which I admit is not bad--not great, but not bad.

Mr. O'REILLY: Did you predict that year?

Prof. KRUGMAN: After a couple of--no.

Mr. O'REILLY: Did you predict it?

Prof. KRUGMAN: No.

Mr. O'REILLY: OK, fine. There we go.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But compare me with anyone else, and I think my forecasting record is not great. Economists are not 100 percent. But the point is to claim that this thing...

Mr. O'REILLY: Economists are not 100 percent. Does that mean when Bush misanalyzed his job creation...

Prof. KRUGMAN: No.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...maybe you ...(unintelligible).

Prof. KRUGMAN: That job creation number was a guess at what it would--what success would look like.

Mr. O'REILLY: Right, and economists are not 100 percent.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I'm not saying they had to be right, and this doesn't...

RUSSERT: What's the next year's going...

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...look like success.

RUSSERT: ...to look like?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Damned if I do. I mean, to be honest, what it looks like--if you look at the growth rate over the last four quarters, you know, here's where--it's 7.4, 4.2, 4.5, 3.0. So it looks like something that started out great and is going down to sort of 'eh.' And my guess is that's what the next year will look like.

RUSSERT: We're going to take a quick break. We're talking to Paul Krugman. His book is in paperback, "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way In The New Century." Bill O'Reilly's book is still in hard cover, "Who's Looking Out for You?" A lot more right after this.


RUSSERT: And we're back. Paul Krugman of The New York Times; his book, "The Great Unraveling." Bill O'Reilly of FOX News Channel, "The O'Reilly Factor," "Who's Looking Out for You?"

Bill O'Reilly, what about deficits, the largest in history? Is that a problem for a conservative president?

Mr. O'REILLY: Sure, it's a problem. It's a problem for anybody. And I'm not a big spending kind of guy. I think Bush is pandering to the electorate by a whole bunch of programs. And you know that the No Child Left Behind Act and all the federal money that poured in to try to help the kids, which, you know, everybody wants to help the kids--Right?--states can't spend the money. Most of the states are going to have to give it back to the Treasury because they just can't spend the money. They're not organized enough. They can't get it to the right people. And I am, basically, a guy who says that both parties try to buy votes, and they have ever since FDR. They'll buy your vote by targeting certain segments and saying, 'We're going to create a big government thing to do this for you,' OK? So Bush basically doesn't like that but still does it, and then the deficits rise. But, again, the war on terror is such that we're living in a totally different time than we did in the '90s.

RUSSERT: Mr. Krugman has a theory in his book that there really is a group of Republicans who want to starve the beast, and that is if you drive spending up so high and you cut tax cuts, you'd be left with no choice but to cut...

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it's not--the driving spending up is not in there. It's just cut taxes, starve the beast; deprive the government of revenue, and then you can say, 'No alternative, we've got to cut...'

Mr. O'REILLY: I don't know how much taxes you want. I mean, that's...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Can we do a number here? I mean, we've got a deficit now which is probably going to be about $440 billion, $450 billion for this year; of that, $270 billion is Bush tax cuts. So when people talk spending, spending, spending, yeah, spending is an issue, but it's--the dominant force in this deficit is, in fact, tax cuts. And...

Mr. O'REILLY: My opinion is that without those tax cuts, we'd be in a deep recession right now.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah, but are those permanent tax cuts, right? Why aren't they temporary tax cuts to fight the recession?

Mr. O'REILLY: Good question.

Prof. KRUGMAN: And why are the tax cuts heavily targeted towards the people who are least likely to spend the money, which is people...

Mr. O'REILLY: Well...

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...at the top end of the income distribution.

Mr. O'REILLY: See, I don't believe that at all, and let me give you a personal example. I work my buns off, all right? I'm sure both of you do, too. And I make a lot of money. I like to make--now if they raise taxes on me any more--because I live in the most heavily taxed state in the union, New York, all right? I'm paying taxes like crazy. Every time I turn around, I'm paying more taxes. If they tax me any more, I'm knocking the radio out. I'm not going to do it, all right? Now how many people lose jobs then? Fifty because O'Reilly says, 'Not worth it. I'm not going to...'

Prof. KRUGMAN: Did you stop...

Mr. O'REILLY: You know, it's not worth my--wait a minute. I would give it up. That is the entrepreneurial class. And R&D is the same thing and corporate. You tax the people who are creating jobs and creating opportunities to over a certain point, they say, 'I got enough money. I'm not going to kill myself because right now I'm killing myself. And I'm not going to do it if the feds are in my pocket any more.'

RUSSERT: You think we're undertaxed.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, I think, yeah, right now we are. Look, I think Mr. O'Reilly had a show and did a whole lot of entrepreneurial work during the '90s when we had the Clinton-era tax rates. And nobody is proposing pushing those tax rates higher than they were in 2000. So if you--you've got to make a case that the '90s were a terrible time, when there was no entrepreneurialship, to say that just rolling back some of these recent tax cuts is a bad idea.

Mr. O'REILLY: Do you know...

Prof. KRUGMAN: And...

Why do you think we're undertaxed?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, because there are certain things we want. We want to make sure that everybody has health insurance. We want to make sure that we can sustain the programs we have, like Medicare and Social Security. And you go through, you do the arithmetic and you discover that, at this point, after all those Bush tax cuts, we are way short. We're probably about 20 to 25 percent short of the revenue that the federal government needs to provide just the programs that middle-class Americans currently count on. So...

RUSSERT: So what do you do?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, I think, look, the Bush tax cuts, it turns out they divide quite--because the way they were set up was the big tax cuts were all for very high-income people. And then they threw in middle-class sweeteners, so that they could roll out those tax families. So there's the Child Tax Credit, there's the marriage thing, there's the 10 percent bracket. And it turns out it's a nice 80/20 split: 80 percent of the tax cut is the stuff that doesn't touch the middle class at all but that only affects at all, really, 20 percent of the population. So what I would do--and this is further than Kerry is willing to go--I would roll back the non-middle-class portions. You can go to taxpolicycenter.org, and they have analyses. And they'll tell you--they now divide everything: middle-class tax cuts vs. non-middle-class tax cuts. I would roll back the non-middle-class tax cuts.

RUSSERT: And what would that do to the job creators in the country?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, you know, again, we're getting back only to the tax rates we had in 2000, you know, the tax rates we had all through the '90s. There's no sign--you know, the United States is the lowest-taxed, advanced country by far. Now...

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, because we're not a socialist country.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh, gosh.

Mr. O'REILLY: And when did the R&D blow and get into the go-go '90s? It happened when Reagan cut taxes, all right...

Prof. KRUGMAN: I love this.

Mr. O'REILLY: And all the corporations started R&D. I don't care whether you believe it or not.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Going to give...

Mr. O'REILLY: You're a quasi-socialist. You want a big government creating jobs. I want the private sector to create jobs.

Prof. KRUGMAN: We're going to give...

Mr. O'REILLY: It's a difference.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Reagan's '81 tax cut--credit for the prosperity in 1999.

Mr. O'REILLY: When do you think all that R&D took place?

Prof. KRUGMAN: So that means that everything good...

Mr. O'REILLY: Back during FDR?

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...that happened under Reagan is Lyndon Johnson's policies.

Mr. O'REILLY: OK. Wait a minute. When did the R&D that led to all of the technological advances take place, sir? When did it take place?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Actually a lot of it in the '90s right at the time...

Mr. O'REILLY: Oh, sure. OK.

RUSSERT: You said the only thing good in Ronald Reagan's administration was Lyndon Johnson's policies?

Prof. KRUGMAN: If you're willing to give Ronald Reagan credit for good things that happened 18 years later, then credit for good things that happened...

Mr. O'REILLY: All right.

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...under Ronald Reagan go to Lyndon Johnson.

Mr. O'REILLY: Call any corporation, any high-tech corporation in Silicon Valley, and just ask them when their R&D ramped up and when the machinery that has led the the United States and the world--when it started getting developed. They will all tell you it happened during the Reagan administration. When corporate taxes were cut, there was more income to devote to that. I mean, look...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Gee, what corporations...

Mr. O'REILLY: ...what Krugman is the government to run the economy. Kerry's going to create 10 million jobs or 30 million, whatever he's going to do. What I want is the private sector to drive the economy. There's a fundamental difference between him, Mr. Entitlement, and me, Mr. Self-Reliance. That's it.

RUSSERT: What about the deficits, though? What would you do about them, and how do you deal with them?

Mr. O'REILLY: What I'd do with them is I would reorganize the entitlements that are the bulk of the deficits, OK, reorganize it. And I believe in privatizing some of the Social Security, medical savings funds, all of those things, educational funds. He wants the government to pay everything. That, in a nation of 300 million, is impossible. Ask any working-class person. They're all in debt. They're all struggling to survive. You want to buy a house? Look at the housing prices, OK? When my father bought a house in Levittown, it was 8 grand after he got out of World War II. This same house is $250,000. They can't afford to buy a house and pay the property taxes, pay his taxes, pay the state taxes. It's ridiculous. The government has got to shrink. They've got to get smart. They've got to run it like a private business would run it, not Mr. Big Government because they can't keep track of the money. There's no waste management in the money. Corruption is rife. And he wants more tax money to waste. It's outrageous.

RUSSERT: Give him a chance to respond.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Let's talk about this. This is a wonderful thing because you're talking about this tax burden on middle-class people and...

RUSSERT: I'm going to take a break, Professor. I'm going to take a break.


RUSSERT: ...and give you a chance to fully respond, OK?


RUSSERT: Paul Krugman, Bill O'Reilly--a lot more right after this.


RUSSERT: And we're back. Paul Krugman, you'd like to respond?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah, the bait and switch. What we're talking about--what I was talking about was rolling back the high-end tax cuts, and all of a sudden you're talking about those terrible tax burden on middle-class families who can't afford a house. Look, the basic fact is the tax cuts we've had, which is the stuff that I want to roll back--I mean, I don't even want to roll back the middle-class tax cuts, which are small change. But the Bush tax cuts--the total amount of tax cuts for people earning more than a million a year, that's 0.13 percent of the population, are larger than the total tax cut for the bottom 60 percent of families, basically everybody earning less than $50,000 a year. So these people that you're saying are suffering under the burden of taxes got nothing from Bush. And it's people like you or me, if I sell more books than I have so far, who are the prime beneficiaries. So, you know, this is the bait and switch. This is not the real story.

And you take a look at anything I've written about economics, and I'm not a socialist. You know, that's a slander.

Mr. O'REILLY: I said quasi.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, that's a wonderful--then you're a quasi-murderer. I mean, why--what...

Mr. O'REILLY: I'm a quasi-murderer?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, quasi is a pretty open thing.

Mr. O'REILLY: That's ridiculous. All right.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Right. I'm nowhere close to that.

Mr. O'REILLY: I think we defined where we both are on this.

RUSSERT: Yeah. Let me go to Iraq. Mr. Krugman said--you wrote this--'Mr. Bush's war on terror has played with eerie perfection into Osama bin Laden's hands.'

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah. We couldn't have done it better, right? We neglected the pursuit of al-Qaida, and we might catch Osama in the next few months, but it's too late. That organization has now sort of, you know, spread like a cancer through the world. And instead we've diverted--look, there was this moment--we had Arabic-speaking Special Forces hunting for Osama in the mountains of Afghanistan. We pulled them off to go into Iraq. And instead we sent our Special Forces, who are Spanish-speaking, who are trained to go chasing druglords in Colombia, and sent them to Afghanistan because we needed those soldiers for Iraq. Boy, you know, talk about giving them exactly what they wanted.

Mr. O'REILLY: Look, the Iraq War was a big screw-up, all right? I think every clear-thinking person in the country knows it was. First of all, weapons of mass destruction did not materialize, which was the primary motivator for the war. All right? Now Mr. Krugman and his left-wing pals throw around the lie, 'Oh, they lied.' Do you believe Bush lied, by the way, about weapons of mass destruction? You still pumping that drum?

Prof. KRUGMAN: I've never actually said the word 'lie,' I don't think.

Mr. O'REILLY: No. You're clever in your rhetorical vices.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, so is Bush. You know, one of the things about his speeches...

Mr. O'REILLY: Wait. Do you believe he lied or not?

Prof. KRUGMAN: I believe he knew what he wanted to hear, and people found a way to tell it to him.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. So you're not going to call him a liar then.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Not on that.

Mr. O'REILLY: OK. Good. But you're...

RUSSERT: But you did say bait and switch to the war as well.

Prof. KRUGMAN: That's right. No, it was clear that what they wanted from day one after 9/11...

RUSSERT: Clear to whom, by the way?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Bush and the people running it. We have repeated accounts that top administration official and Bush himself immediately said after 9/11, 'Is there a way to tie this to Iraq? Is it Iraq?' And, you know, when the top guys keep on saying, 'I want to hear stuff about Iraq,' isn't that going to put a whole lot of pressure...


Prof. KRUGMAN: ...down the system?

Mr. O'REILLY: Now...

Prof. KRUGMAN: They weren't listening to the real evidence.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...I'm appointing Russert as president of the United States right now, OK? I talked to Tommy Franks the other night, and I said, 'You know, what's this weapons of mass destruction deal?' And he was the general that commanded the war. He said, 'Before we went to war, Egypt and Jordan told me,' Tommy Franks, all right, 'that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I passed that along to President Bush.' So you're sitting there in the White House, Russert, OK--frightening thought, but you are--and you're getting your top general going, 'I just heard from Egypt and Jordan weapons of mass destruction are there.' Blair's telling you, 'MI6--weapons of mass destruction.' Putin's telling you, 'Russian intelligence--weapons of mass destruction.' Your own CIA chief is telling you, 'Slam dunk weapons of mass destruction,' according to Woodward.

Now the 9-11 Commission harshly criticized Clinton and Bush for not doing enough to get bin Laden. That was one of their main thesis, and I believe that and I think everybody does. So you're told by Jordan, Egypt, Russia, Britain, your own guy, 'Weapons of mass destruction.' You know Zarqawi, a top al-Qaida lieutenant's, sitting in Baghdad because he just had a leg operation, all right? You know that. You know, as the 9-11 Commission pointed out, there's been repeated contacts between al-Qaida and Saddam. You know all this. And you don't move against Saddam? So they did have the WMDs. Say there was an anthrax attack on Krugman's apartment block, OK? You're sitting there, you had all this information, you didn't act. Impeachable offense. He had to act. That's the truth.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, the truth--look, you're talking all about commissions and governments that were under political pressure, and we have some independent stuff, right? The best reporting was actually by Knight Ridder, which was talking to the analysts off the record and not to the top officials. And this is the fall of 2002. And all the analysts said, 'You know, they're exaggerating this threat. We're under enormous pressure to go and find reasons to attack Iraq.' And you've actually got people who are close to the administration, like, you know, editorialists at The Washington Post, Jim Hoagland saying--boasting about how we're managing to put the screws on these CIA analysts who don't want to believe that Saddam is such a threat. So, come on, this is rewriting history. And the fact of the matter, as...

Mr. O'REILLY: Like I'm going to believe a Washington Post editorial writer over all the people I've cited.

Prof. KRUGMAN: He's writing this during the time; he's not writing it after the fact.

Mr. O'REILLY: The record says...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Even t--no. Come on.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...9-11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee...

Prof. KRUGMAN: And your faith's in Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB, is touching.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. I know. You're smarter than everybody. You'll reject all of that information. The 9-11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee..

Prof. KRUGMAN: Heavily politicized.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...both have said...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Heavily politicized, and you know it.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. There you go.

RUSSERT: Got to take a quick break. We'll be back. A lot more coming up. Paul Krugman, Bill O'Reilly and Iraq right after this.


RUSSERT: And we are back, talking to Paul Krugman, the columnist for The New York Times. His book is in paperback, "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century." Bill O'Reilly, you watch him every night on "The O'Reilly Factor" on FOX News Channel. His book, "Who's Looking Out for You?"

Bill O'Reilly, what about the nuclear threat, the mushroom cloud? Was that hyping up intelligence?

Mr. O'REILLY: I have no idea. I never bought that. I never bought they had nuclear. I was worried about anthrax and the other thing. But I just want to make one more point. You know, we left one guy out: Bill Clinton thought they had weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it was across the board and saw--like that.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Let me--can I just say...

Mr. O'REILLY: Go ahead.

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...let--WMD is one of the worst phrases we've ever invented, because it lumps together chemical shells, which are nasty things, but so is high explosives, with nuclear weapons, which is a real threat. You know, the fact that Kim Jong Il seems to have nukes now has me really scared. The fact that some guy has chemical warheads is not in the same league at all. And Bill Clinton thought, and I thought, everybody thought that he probably had some chemical warheads. They were probably still--you know, they had shells. They probably--maybe they had anthrax. Maybe they had this stuff, which is nasty and evil, but is not something that allows a minor...

Mr. O'REILLY: No, you've got to take anthrax and smallpox seriously.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, anthrax, smallpox...

Mr. O'REILLY: They wipe out hundreds of thousands of people.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Smallpox is a hugely different thing.

Mr. O'REILLY: All of those things...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Anthrax isn't contagious.

Mr. O'REILLY: All of those things can ruin an economy and create panic and you have to do it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it's not. Look, that's just...

RUSSERT: So let me go to Bill O'Reilly's question, Paul Krugman. If you're the president of the United States and all these people have laid out this in front of you, and you yourself acknowledged you thought he had biological and chemical, potentially anthrax, do you have an obligation as commander in chief to go after it?

Prof. KRUGMAN: You have an obligation to say, 'We want those inspectors back in,' and guess what? We had the inspectors back in, and we were telling inspectors where to search and they were going. And remember, we went to war when there was an effective inspections regime back in place. We did not have to actually go to war. We were doing--we were--we had Saddam pretty effectively caged...

Mr. O'REILLY: Well, not according to Hans Blix. He came on my program flat out and said, 'They're not letting us interview the scientists,' which was a key.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But...

Mr. O'REILLY: The scientists were the key. One...

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...there was no way for them to be effectively running a WMD program...

Mr. O'REILLY: No, listen, I know--look, I know that you know much more than I do and everyone else, but just let me get a sentence out here. Blix came on the program and said to me flat out, 'They aren't cooperating. We can't interview the scientists, and we can't go where we want to go.' They gave him all kinds of time, Saddam, to stop the nonsense. Seventeen violations of the Gulf War cease-fire, 17. The guy obviously was defiant. All the nations of the world should have come together--France, Germany, Russia, China, the United States--and said, 'You either let Blix do whatever he wants to do, or you're out of there.' If that had happened, Blix would have been allowed, but France and Germany and Russia wouldn't because they were being bribed by Saddam with oil for food. We know that scandal is bubbling. We're gonna get a lot more information on it.

Now if you put the whole thing together, OK, intelligence, intel on very deadly weapons, defiance by Saddam, al-Qaida presence in Iraq, you have to act...

Prof. KRUGMAN: O'Reilly, I need to get in here.

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, I know. Zarqawi's been proven was treated after he was wounded in Afghanistan, on the battlefield in Baghdad, then he went up north to Ansar al-Islam, OK, under the protection of Uday Hussein. So you say whatever you want. That's proven.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I--look, you know, there--we can go--I'm gonna wager that Blix--I don't--I don't have the record, but I'm gonna wager Blix told you that a number of months before the war.

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, he told me that before the war. That's correct.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well before the war. Before the...

Mr. O'REILLY: Well, it was a couple of months before.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Before Saddam opened up a lot more under pressure. And nobody disapproved of putting extra pressure on him. Me neither, right? But the really, you know--the--and the oil for food stuff, by the way, all of this, you know, might be true, but all of those claims that the French were being bribed, that the UN officials were being bribed comes from documents which are supposedly in the hands of none other than Ahmad Chalabi, right? We don't have any independent evidence of that.

Mr. O'REILLY: I think Volcker has copies of those documents right now.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, then let's hear from Volcker.

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I've reached no judgment that--I trust him.

Mr. O'REILLY: Why doesn't your newspaper, The New York Times, do some investigating? You did 48 Abu Ghraib front-page stories...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh...

Mr. O'REILLY: ...but you haven't been able to do any oil for food investigations. I wonder why.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Because nobody has any information, right?

Mr. O'REILLY: Nobody has any?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Nobody has anything except these claims of all this come from Ahmad Chalabi, who The New York Times has learned a little bit to be wary of.

Mr. O'REILLY: Well, maybe you assign a couple of reporters to do that, you know. I mean, Abu Ghraib, I think we got the story there.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, we didn't.

Mr. O'REILLY: Oh, we didn't? Forty-eight front-page stories, we still don't have it?

Prof. KRUGMAN: We didn't. No. Read the appendices. Read the appendices to the Taguba report. There's much, much worse than anything that most of the public has heard about yet.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. Well, maybe it's right. And if there is, I want to read about it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah. Well...

Mr. O'REILLY: And I know I will in your paper. But I ain't gonna read oil for food investigation there.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But let me just come back. The...

RUSSERT: Bill, why are you suggesting The New York Times won't be aggressive in pursuing oil for food?

Mr. O'REILLY: Because they use stories to bludgeon the Bush administration. They use their front page--here's the deal.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh God.

Mr. O'REILLY: Abu Ghraib, horrible story, awful, OK. Off-the-chart bad. Twenty-eight front-page stories in the Chicago Trib, no bastion of conservatism. Forty-eight front-page stories, all of the last 20 just repetitive, what we already knew, in The New York Times.

Prof. KRUGMAN: So you...

Mr. O'REILLY: They use that story to drive public opinion against the present administration, which the paper despises, and that's the fact.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I think if you look--well, I'm not gonna--you know, I'm not here to defend The New York Times, which has nothing to do with what I write in the column, all right?

Mr. O'REILLY: No, I don't think that's true of your column.

Prof. KRUGMAN: So I don't want to get into this one. But let me just--you know, let's just come back to this. We went--there's a lot of evil in the world and there are a lot of threats in the world, and the Bush administration chose to take this one, which everyone--you know, Saddam is an evil man. This was a nasty regime. It would no doubt hurt us if it could. But of all the threats in the world, they chose to go after this one, and what's really crucial is they chose to neglect the pursuit of the people who actually killed lots of Americans.

RUSSERT: Why? Why?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Because--well, you know, we can only speculate on that, but what we do know is that they had this fixation on Iraq right from the beginning, before there was any evidence, before there was anything at all, and we also know that they really just don't like stuff that doesn't look good on camera.

Mr. O'REILLY: See, I'm not buying that neglected to chase Osama. I'm not buying that. I mean, he is in a position where we'd have to violate Pakistani sovereignty to go in and get him. That would mean Musharraf would be overthrown. So I'm not buying that. Look, again, that's not--Krugman's opinion on this is not irrational, all right, that the tactical war against terror might not have been well served by the Iraq adventure. That's a legitimate debate, OK? What I object to is the lying charges, the slander and defamation that comes out of the Krugman wing, if you want to call it, of the social landscape. And don't give me that. Who are you appearing with today in your book signing?

Prof. KRUGMAN: I...

Mr. O'REILLY: You're appearing with Stuart Smalley, the biggest character assassinator in the country.

Prof. KRUGMAN: That guy you compared to Goebbels?

Mr. O'REILLY: You are in with the most vile form of defamation in this country.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Gee, I have some...

Mr. O'REILLY: You are pandering to it, and I resent it, sir.

Prof. KRUGMAN: There are some people who--well, we resent you, too.

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, I know you do.

Prof. KRUGMAN: That's...

Mr. O'REILLY: And you know what you'll do about the resentment? You'll lie about me and attack me personally. That's what you'll do.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Let's watch that, OK? As I said, this is kind of hard to have a reasonable discussion here. But...

Mr. O'REILLY: I think it's reasonable, and Russert would throw me out of here if it wasn't.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But I think--would he? I don't think so. Anyway--but look, let's just come back to this and say that the fact of the matter is, that with a lot of threats out there in the world, if you ask the foreign policy hands what had them really scared, what do we really need to do with for the last couple of years, they said, 'Well, we got to do more about al-Qaida and North Korea.' And you said Iraq, and they said, 'Why are we talking about Iraq? You know, that's a nasty thing, but that's a real second order'...

RUSSERT: You know, why fixation? You used the word fixation. Why the fixation?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, you know, we have a--I think there's a mixture of things. I think it's Karl Rove thought it would play well. I think there were a bunch of guys who were around at the...

RUSSERT: So it's pol--so it's politics?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Some of it was politics, and you'd be amazed how many--how many people, including former generals, believe that. Some of it was, a lot of these guys were on--were on the scene during '91 during the Gulf War, and they felt that somehow their manhood was impaired because Saddam got away in '91. Some of it was personal. You know, 'He tried to kill my father.'

RUSSERT: We're gonna take a quick break. A lot more of Paul Krugman and his book, "The Great Unraveling," Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor," "Who's Looking Out for You?" right after this.


RUSSERT: And we're back. Bill O'Reilly's book "Who's Looking Out for You?," "The Great Unraveling" by Paul Krugman.

"Fahrenheit 9/11," you wrote this: "It performs an essential service. It tells essential truths about leaders who exploited a national tragedy for political gain." That's a very serious charge.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I don't see how anybody looking at this can say otherwise. I mean, right from the beginning, the--we had first people around Bush, and then Bush himself, using the war on terror as a club with which to bludgeon the other side. You know, it's--look, I was fin--the worst mail I ever got was I wrote a column a few days after 9/11 where I said, you know, they're already trying to exploit this, and people did not want to hear it. But what I heard within 48 hours was, 'You're not gonna believe this, but the guys in the House leadership is trying to use 9/11, they're trying to use this terrorist attack to pass a cut in the capital gains tax. They're saying, "How can--how can you not give the president what he wants at a time like this?"'

And the political exploitation began right from the beginning. Just eight days after, Wall Street Journal had an editorial saying, 'You know, now that we've been attacked, it's time for the Senate to confirm some conservative judges.' I mean, this is a grotesque chapter in American history, and we need to know about that.

RUSSERT: Do you believe "Fahrenheit 9/11" performs an essential service?

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, for Fidel Castro, who broadcast it nationwide in Cuba. You know, for Hezbollah, who wants to distribute it throughout the Middle East. You know, I mean, look, this is "Triumph of Will." That's what it is, the Nazi propaganda movie. That's what chi--"9/11" is, cut and paste, show him, Bush, as a corruptor and reinforce all of Krugman's paranoid delusions. You basically have Richard Clarke repudiating the film. Richard Clarke's a flat out--no problem with the evacuation of the Saudis, no air space was given to them, the bin Ladens were vetted. This is Richard Clarke disenfranchising the movie, all right?

RUSSERT: Former head of terrorism in the Clinton administration.

Mr. O'REILLY: And then you go down the line. I mean, I'll give you one--the most vivid example. Now I don't know how any responsible journalist could actually say that propaganda is valuable. I just don't know how anybody could do it, and that's where Mr. Krugman is.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well ...(unintelligible) kill FOX News entirely. I mean, what the...

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, OK. Another cheap shot, by the way.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it isn't.

Mr. O'REILLY: Yes, it is.

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it isn't.

Mr. O'REILLY: Look, you may not like FOX News, but that is a cheap shot, and...

Prof. KRUGMAN: No.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...if you don't know what the definition is, I'll give it to you later. But let me give you one fact. In 9/11 after they got through with the garbage about the Saudis and bin Ladens being evacuated, then they go to FOX News, and they say, 'And who called the race for Bush in Florida? FOX News.' OK? Flat-out lie.

We, along with NBC and everybody else, first called the race in Florida for Gore, OK? That's not what Moore says. And then it goes along the line down, distortion after distortion after distortion after distortion. I sat on the set that night. I'm watching that movie, I'm going, 'What?' He's telling the world that FOX News was the leader in trying to win Florida for Bush, when we made the wrong call along with everybody else for Gore.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But FOX News was the first network to change its call...

Mr. O'REILLY: Yes, because we were right. And that call be...

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...and that was--and that--were you right?

Mr. O'REILLY: Oh, oh, oh, this is--no, I'm glad you brought that up.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Here.

All right, let...

Mr. O'REILLY: I'm glad he brought it up.

RUSSERT: Let him have a say. Mr. Krugman, go ahead.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah, because I've got you saying that, 'Everyone has said that no matter how you count the votes, Bush won Florida,' and that turns out to be flatly not true.

Mr. O'REILLY: Oh, is that right? How about The Miami Herald investigation?

Prof. KRUGMAN: OK. Here we are.

Mr. O'REILLY: How about USA Today? How about the University of Chicago?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Here we are. Published by AP in November 2001, the National Opinion Research group, they looked at statewide counts under six standards, prevailing standard, two-corner standard, most conclusive, least conclusive, county by county, Palm Beach standard, and under every one of those Gore won.

Mr. O'REILLY: OK. Look, if you want to think that, fine.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Hey, guys ...(unintelligible), Russerts...

Mr. O'REILLY: All right? Now I'll--hold it, hold it, hold it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...you can check this out.

Mr. O'REILLY: You can check this out.

Prof. KRUGMAN: You can get--do it by Google.

RUSSERT: But Moore has said every...

Mr. O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I gotta get this in.

RUSSERT: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Let me just...

Mr. O'REILLY: Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, USA Today and the University of Chicago investigation all went in and repudiate what he just read.

Prof. KRUGMAN: This is not true.

Mr. O'REILLY: Four--yes, it is.

Prof. KRUGMAN: It's not true. I mean, again, folks, this is the modern world. You can go check it.

Mr. O'REILLY: You can go check it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: You can do Google, you can check it. Look for--look for Florida recount. Now what is true is that if you'd done the recount that Gore wanted, which was a limited recount, Bush would have won. But at every statewide recount scenario had it going to Gore by tiny margins, but this is just not true.

Mr. O'REILLY: Look, I agree. You should go into and look at what those four investigations came up with and decide for yourself.

RUSSERT: Let me talk about another movie, "Outfoxed."

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah.

RUSSERT: What do you think of that?

Prof. KRUGMAN: You know, it's a--basically this is a guy who let his VCR--they did a lot of taping of FOX News and they produced a pretty--the kind of picture that you couldn't do on your own. It's a very cheaply made, very--you know, but it gives you a picture of a network that is very much a propaganda arm. And, you know, we can go through that lots of ways, but...

RUSSERT: Of whom? Propaganda of whom?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Of the right, of the Republican Party, or if you just like of Rupert Murdoch.

RUSSERT: And so the broadcasters and journalists on FOX News take marching orders?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Of course they do. I mean, if your fantasy was that there was a memo every morning that told you how we're gonna cover the news so as to slant it, their fantasy would be right. We've now got copies of the memo.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. Well, look, Mr. Krugman lives in a world of his own. He embraces propaganda of the worst kind, and that's why I have very little regard for his professional analysis. I'll give you one example about that stupid thing. They put together a collage of me telling people to shut up, OK? In one of the--and this is just one. I can give you a hundred, but I don't want to waste time on it. In one of the discussions I had, I was talking to a young gay guy who was in a lot of trouble because he had outed himself in high school. And I said, 'Why don't you just shut up about your sex life?' That's what I said to him. They cut it to, 'Why don't you just shut up?' That is about as dishonest as it gets.

I can take tape of you, Tim Russert, over the last five years and I can make you look like anything I want you--to make you look like. And you know it. You know how it's done. I can make you look like a Communist. I can make you look like a fascist. That's what this guy did.

The New York Times acts as a de facto publicist for these kinds of vehicles. "Fahrenheit," this stupid thing, Stuart Smalley's defamation, every left-wing book that comes down the pipe. You know, I've had three number-one New York Times best-sellers, they haven't reviewed any of them. Every left-wing smear book that comes down stands alone. They take stuff out, like he just did, and say, 'Oh, that FOX, it's a propa--oh, yeah, of course.' I have provable stuff of what they do, and I'll stand on it.

RUSSERT: Do you think that FOX News Channel has a conservative spin to it?

Mr. O'REILLY: If you look at the FOX News commentators in prime time, starting with Hume and ending with Van Susteren, it comes right down the line, OK? Van Susteren is a liberal, Colmes is a liberal, Hannity is a conservative, I'm a traditionalist, Shepard Smith is really nothing and--you know, he's just in--a neutral guy, in the neutral zone, and Hume, I would say that he's slightly conservative, but certainly no bomb thrower. All right?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Unbelievable.

Mr. O'REILLY: It is unbelievable because you don't know what you're talking about. We put more liberals on the air than conservatives. We put more liberal voices on the air than conservatives, and we can--we have a tally every day of what we put on. There is no talking points. There is no marching order. It doesn't exist. But these people, they want you to think that. But here's the bottom line. In the Democratic convention, "The Factor" killed CNN and MSNBC from 8 to 9. You've got to assume many Republicans weren't even watching that. It was an independent Democratic audience primarily. Wiped them off the face of the Earth. And the reason is, the people know we give voice to all sides, unlike this guy and his newspaper.

RUSSERT: I'm gonna come back and give you a chance to respond...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah.

RUSSERT: ...in full. Paul Krugman is here, "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century." Bill O'Reilly, "Who's Looking Out for You?" We'll be right back.


RUSSERT: And we're back.

Paul Krugman, you can respond.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah. Actually I just want to say a word about "Fahrenheit 9/11," just to talk a little bit about Bill O'Reilly's credibility on this. Bill has said on air that Michael Moore believes that we are an evil country, and if you saw the film, you know that's not true, and actually you denied in the same program that you'd said what you just said. But anyways, I think that's a little bit of something to look out for with credibility.

Mr. O'REILLY: You want to quote me and give me the date of the program?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh, sure. June 28th on "The Radio Factor."

Mr. O'REILLY: On "The Radio Factor."

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yup. Not the...

Mr. O'REILLY: You're taking it not out of context, are you?

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, not at all out of context.

Mr. O'REILLY: Michael Moore has gone around the Europ--in the European press and said...

Prof. KRUGMAN: All right. Oh, come on.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...Americans are stupid, OK?

Prof. KRUGMAN: That's taken out of context. This week--the radio clip's available, MediaMatters.org.

Mr. O'REILLY: It is. All right, fine.

Prof. KRUGMAN: So go ahead. Anyway, but let me--let me--want to talk about convention coverage for a bit. Couple of things about the convention coverage. I don't know who was watching which thing. I think anyone who didn't watch it--your boss is not gonna like this either--anyone who didn't watch it on C-SPAN unfiltered was just being a fool, because all of the--all of the coverage was--on the cable networks was a lot of commentators breaking over, talking over the speeches. It didn't--FOX showed less of the speeches than any--than either of the other cable news networks. Just less coverage. You know, Al Gore gave a speech. It should have been interesting to watch. Even if you hate him, even if you think he's a lousy guy, he did, after all, get more votes than his opponent in the last election. Be curious to see, but you went right over him.

Mr. O'REILLY: I had an advance copy of the speech. There wasn't anything in there that wasn't partisan stuff, and we're not gonna do it on the Republican...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh. What happened--could we report the other side?

Mr. O'REILLY: Well, I'm in analysis, Krugman.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah.

Mr. O'REILLY: If you don't get that by now, you're never gonna get it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, you know...

Mr. O'REILLY: It's just like you. You're an op-ed guy. You don't go out and report.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah.

Mr. O'REILLY: You write op-ed. I analyze.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Right. Exactly. So...

Mr. O'REILLY: All during the day we report what happens.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But that's the point. The question was: What was the coverage? Now in terms of...

Mr. O'REILLY: The coverage was what we wanted it to be, not dictated by you or anybody else...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Right.

Mr. O'REILLY: ...and we'll do the same thing with the Republicans.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, that's--well, let's see if you give equal numbers of hours...

Mr. O'REILLY: Absolutely. I will on my program.

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...let's see--will you?

Mr. O'REILLY: Yes, I will.

Prof. KRUGMAN: We're watching.

Mr. O'REILLY: And where did you get that little evil quote, by the way? You don't listen to "The Radio Factor."

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh, no, but I get--but they have video clips. They have--they have a clip.

Mr. O'REILLY: Oh, who--well, who gave it to you?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah, it is MediaMatters.

Mr. O'REILLY: MediaMatters. Oh, I see. A real objective Web site.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Hey, wait a second...

Mr. O'REILLY: Hey, Mr. Propaganda, you ought to take and do your own research, pal, and stop taking the left-wing garbage and throwing it out there for the folks.

Prof. KRUGMAN: What have I said that's false?

Mr. O'REILLY: Do your own research.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Come on.

Mr. O'REILLY: That's out of context, and you know it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: It helps me. It is not.

Mr. O'REILLY: It helps you, baloney.

Prof. KRUGMAN: They've got the clip. You guys can listen to it.

Mr. O'REILLY: You are about the most unobjective person on the face of the--MediaMatters...

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh, come on.

Mr. O'REILLY: Why don't you just call Fidel? Call him up and have at it. He'll tell you what's going on.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh, wonderful. Now that we got the great ...(unintelligible) ends up being a Communist.

RUSSERT: Wait, wait...

Mr. O'REILLY: MediaMatters. Oh, my--that's like me calling some Klan operation.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Hey.

Mr. O'REILLY: Why don't I call the Ku Klux Klan?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Here we go. Here we go. Here we go.

RUSSERT: Read the quote. Read the quote and...

Mr. O'REILLY: What a bunch of garbage, MediaMatters.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah, the quote is, 'So this is the United States, who has freed the world from communism, freed the world from fascism, from the axis powers, freed the Pacific from Japanese, OK? All of this, but according to Moore we bring sadness and misery to places all around the globe.'

Mr. O'REILLY: That's right. He said that.

Prof. KRUGMAN: 'This says Michael Moore. He believes this. He believes that we are an evil country.' Now I saw a film, a flawed film, a lot of things that were overstated...

Mr. O'REILLY: OK. Read...

Prof. KRUGMAN: ...but I think that there were a lot of things in that film that showed that this is a guy who really does love his country.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. You want to think he loves his country, you go (unintelligible).

Prof. KRUGMAN: And he loves the working pow--people of America, and if you could watch that...

Mr. O'REILLY: Hezbollah feels the same way that you do.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh, come on. Guilt by association.

Mr. O'REILLY: Come on what?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Somebody picks it up, somebody picks up, you know, there are--there are--there are actual--there are right-wing hate groups who like to quote you. Do you think that makes you guilty of everything that they do?

Mr. O'REILLY: You know what? I never call those right-wing hate groups up to get my quotes.

Prof. KRUGMAN: That's...

Mr. O'REILLY: You call the left-wing hate groups up to get your propaganda. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Do your own research.

Prof. KRUGMAN: This--somebody who runs a Web site that's the equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan?

Mr. O'REILLY: Do your own research. Do your own research.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Come on, guy.

RUSSERT: All right. To be continued. Paul Krugman. You can read him Tuesdays and Fridays in The New York Times. His book, "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century." Bill O'Reilly, you can listen to him every day on the radio, watch "The O'Reilly Factor" on FOX News Channel. "Who's Looking Out for You?"

Thank you, gentlemen, for a very interesting hour.

Mr. O'REILLY: Lively.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Exciting.

Mr. O'REILLY: Lively.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Exciting.

RUSSERT: Lively and spirited.


RUSSERT: See you next weekend.

LOAD-DATE: August 15, 2004

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