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This Bill Maher and Ben Affleck Exchange Is Incredibly Important For Liberals and Conservatives

affleck_maher

Let me first just say that I’m not sure if keeping score on something like this is good for anyone… But Bill had a strong point to make, but so did Ben actually.

Wow… I love a good debate, and this really was a huge debate to watch. On one side you have the liberal force of “tolerance” so that we don’t lump groups in a distortion of their true character (represented by Mr. Affleck), and on the other side we have the liberal cornerstone of an activism that has zero tolerance for any social and economic oppression subjugated by any ideology (represented by Mr. Maher). This article sums up a good portion of how I feel, but I think there is more to it. I think that what Bill was saying is incredibly important, and I think that what Ben was saying is crucial to actually solving the problem. Bill was pointing out that renouncing your faith should not be cause for being put to death, which it is perceived to be for many people. He quoted that something like 90% of Egyptians felt that leaving Islam should result in capital punishment, and I thought I’d heard the same about Saudi Arabia. That is astounding to me, and assuming that the polling is correct I am left terrified of how we might bridge the divide in our cultures.

Ben however, was taking a firm stance that you can’t just throw entire regions and cultures out like this – which I find admirable in terms of how we may ever have to address this problem. Where I find myself frustrated on this front is the double standard between the Middle East and the Heartland of America. Liberals like Ben (and maybe not him more specifically) almost predictably take this stance of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater on people and their cultures, until it comes to the Christian coalition (not the necessarily the actual organization with that name) of people across this country who are reamed constantly by the media for having faith. Some groups and individuals who call themselves Christians probably deserve some harsh feedback, but we don’t usually hear this same kind of nuanced approach with Christianity in America.

If someone wants to go after religion they don’t necessarily hurt my feelings – society needs people like that so you don’t end up with a population that thinks we should kill people who don’t believe in what we believe in and can’t prove. BUT, if you are going to do it you should remain consistent, and nuanced in your value judgements of these differing groups and their ideas. I wish Bill wouldn’t be so willing to throw people out like he does, and I wish Ben would clarify his standard, as well as recognize that what Bill was saying is scary. If those poll numbers don’t scare you then you must not be paying attention…

I will actually be taking a trip in November with my good buddy Gavin to Egypt, and I just want to say that I can’t wait to meet these people who are often villainized by the media – and who like me don’t have the world figured out yet. I’m sure we could come up with some astounding polling from the United States over the last century, so to side with Ben for a second I hope that we can work on finding our common ground so that maybe we can work on exchanging our best ideas, and not just harp on our differences.

So, here is the exchange, and below is a very interesting article about the whole thing. Please feel free to give me your feedback:

And due to neither of these men being representatives of Islam I figured we’d throw in this Reza Aslan interview that would most support Ben’s thinking for before you read an article about why Bill is right:

The Daily Beast
 

Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0

The Real Time host’s spat with the Gone Girl star gets to the heart of a major and longtime problem within contemporary Western liberalism

Every once in a great while, something happens on television that you know while you’re watching it: Well, this is unusual. Those old enough to know what I’m talking about when I say “Al Campanis”  will remember that that was one of your more extreme cases. The exchange between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on last Friday’s Real Time wasn’t a Campanis moment, but I knew instantly—watching it in, well, real time, as it were—that this was going to spark discussion,  as indeed it has.

In case you missed it, the two—both committed and thoughtful liberals—got into it on the question of whether Western liberals can or should criticize Islam. Mentioning freedom of speech and equal rights, Maher said: “These are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.” Sam Harris, the atheist author, agreed with Maher and said, “The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. That is intellectually ridiculous.” Affleck, as if on cue, challenged Harris: “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?” And then: “So you’re saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing?” Right after, Affleck said that such criticisms of Islam were “gross” and “racist” and “like saying [to Maher] ‘you’re a shifty Jew.’”

It was cracking good TV, but it was more—it hit home because they were describing one of the most important debates within liberalism of the last…10 years certainly, as pertains to Islam, but 40 or 50 years as relates to arguments between the developed and the developing world, and close to a century when it comes to discussions of how culture should affect our understanding of universal, or as some would have it “universal,” principles. Reluctance to criticize the failures of other cultures has been a problem within contemporary liberalism, with negative consequences I’ll go into below. So this liberal is firmly on Maher’s side, even as I recognize that his rendering is something of a caricature.

Here’s some quick history for you. First, the Enlightenment happened, and humankind developed the idea of universal rights. ’Round about the 1920s, some scholars in the then-newish field of cultural anthropology started to argue that all rights, or at least values, were not universal, and that we (the West) should be careful about imposing our values on societies with traditions and customs so removed from our own.

A big moment here came with the debate over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserted the universalist position without apology and which was pushed mostly by mainstream political liberals (Eleanor Roosevelt most notably). There were many critiques of the declaration from what we would today call “the left,” but those voices had little juice in those days, and when the UN adopted the declaration, it was a great victory for liberalism.

Fade in, fade out. Then came the anti-colonialist uprisings of the 1950s, Frantz Fanon, postmodern political theory, Vietnam, the Israeli occupation, the intifada, et cetera et cetera. All of these and many other kindred events seeped into the liberal bloodstream, still rich in universalist cells but now also coursing with the competing cells of cultural relativism (invariably a pejorative these days, although it wasn’t always).

And so, yes, we have seen in recent years from liberalism, or at least from some liberals (a crucial distinction, in fact), an unwillingness to criticize the reactionary aspects or expressions of other cultures, expressions that these liberals would have no hesitation whatsover in criticizing if they were exhibited by, say, Southern white Christians.

The most obvious example that comes to mind is that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Muslim-African-Dutch-and-finally-American feminist intellectual. She of course is famous, now mostly for some of her more incendiary comments, but recall how she first became so: She and her collaborator, Theo van Gogh, had made a film critical of the oppression of women in the Muslim world. He was murdered, and she received death threats. She fled to the United States.

Now, here was a key moment: When she came to America in 2006, where was Hirsi Ali going to plant her flag? As she tells the story in her book Nomad, she met with liberal and conservative outfits. She says the liberal ones were “tentative” in their support for her and her ideas, but the conservative American Enterprise Institute embraced her totally, even though on certain issues (like abortion rights) she’s no conservative.

Hirsi Ali, of course, has subsequently gone on to say, quite controversially, that not just radical Islam but “Islam, period” must be “defeated.” But here’s the question: Before she started talking like that, why was she unable to find a home within American liberalism? It should be, and should have been, a core part of the mission of liberalism to support secular humanists and small-d democrats from all over the world, but from the Muslim world in particular. Most of these people are themselves liberals by Western standards, and they are desperate for the United States to do what it can to oppose the theocracies and autocracies under which they’re forced to live.

Maher, and certainly conservative critics, overstate the extent to which liberals fail to make common cause with such folks. Christian evangelicals who do work on, say, genital mutilation (which Hirsi Ali suffered) get a lot more attention in the media, because it’s more “interesting” that white conservatives give a crap about something happening to nonwhite women halfway across the world. But as the writer Michelle Goldberg pointed out in a review of Hirsi Ali’s Nomad for the journal I edit, Democracy, numerous women’s organizations and feminist groups do work to advance women’s rights in the Muslim world.

Goldberg wrote: “A few years ago, I visited Tasaru Ntomonok, which is the kind of place Hirsi Ali would probably love—it’s a Kenyan shelter that houses and educates girls fleeing female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Among its supporters are the high profile feminist Eve Ensler, the feminist NGO Equality Now, and the United Nations Population Fund, a bête noire of many conservatives. There are similar grassroots organizations working toward women’s liberation all over the world.”

Even so, Maher has identified a problem within Western liberalism today. Debates about multiculturalism are appropriate to a later stage of development of the infrastructure of rights and liberties than one finds in some other parts of the world. That infrastructure has existed in Western countries for a century, and it is the very fact that it was so solidly entrenched that opened up the space for us to start having debates about multiculturalism in the 1970s and ’80s.

But in much of the Arab and Muslim world, that infrastructure barely exists. So—and how’s this for a paradox?—to insist that our Western standards that call for multiculturalist values should be applied to countries that haven’t yet fully developed the basic rights infrastructure constitutes its own kind of imposition of our values onto them. A liberated woman or a gay man who lives in a country where being either of those things is at best unaccepted and at worst illegal doesn’t need multiculturalism. They’re desperate for a little universalism, and we Western liberals need to pay more attention to this.

via Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0 – The Daily Beast.

So You Think You Can Carlton?! – the reason I’ll probably watch Dancing With The Stars this season

Feast your eyes on my favorite thing on the internet right now!

Video by buzzfeed.

Lamborn starts losing allies over military controversy | MSNBC

Yes, this is from the blog of the partisan and divisive Rachel Maddow, but the topic being discussed is very interesting to me. It will probably become partisan by comparison of the different political parties, but let’s talk about what this congressman was saying. Is it a good idea for United States military commanders to walk away because of the Presidents so-called inaction? Is this different from liberals asking for anyone and everyone to walk away from perceived adventurous overaction by Commanders-in-Chief of either party in the past (minus Carter who was pretty much the only President who is claimed to have never “fired a shot” while acting as President – but including every other President since FDR in the 40’s)? Are we the world’s police? Should we go it alone? Even if so should congress first vote on it as the constitution demands (assuming it will last over 60 days, which would constitutionally mean that the President doesn’t have enough authority to conduct a war on his/her own, regardless of if we’ve done it in the past). What is the end game with this war?

You see, I find that this is all very complicated, and I actually very much appreciate that the President has been thoughtful about getting us back into another conflict in the Middle East, without a clear directive… I find that it’s hardly presumptuous to say that I’m not alone in feeling this way. I do think that the President has played some political games, but which President hasn’t done that, and let’s please be clear in defining what we think those games are. My biggest hang up was how he talked about a Red Line in the sand on chemical weapons in Syria last year, and when we discovered that they were used he seemed grasp at straws as to why we shouldn’t go to war. He, as well as the rest of us, were lucky that some reporter at a press conference asked Secretary Kerry what would stop us from going to war, and he incredulously said that we wouldn’t go if they handed the weapons over. Much to the shagrin of the warhawks around the world, they handed them over and we didn’t go to war… And now we are stuck trying to figure out how to disavow the Assad regime, as well as dismember their newest local rebellion “ISIS/ISOL”, which fills the vacuum that is left due to a lack of infrastructure and accountability around the border of Iraq and Syria.

I point all of these things out simply to say that I find it truly offensive that in a time like this, when we do have foes abroad who will need to be addressed (and hopefully with the compliance of the world community) that we have have members of our United States Congress publicly asking the leadership in our military to act as the leadership in congress has over the past several years by demanding non-compliance with the President of The United States of America for political gain… This is hardly a speculation, this is quite simply the truth. Again, I’m not saying that the President has been perfect, but I don’t even his job, and actually I truly appreciate that we haven’t rushed to war and repeated some of our mistakes of the last half century (primarily the last decade).

If you’re wondering what I’m going on and on about please feel free read the article I’ve posted below, or just click the link just below this babbling culmination of my simple understandings about geopolitical conflict.

*Ok, I thought I was done, but I would like to add one more thing – I am wary of how the President has treated the situation in Iraq (as well as Syria actually) with regard to the intelligence community. He seems to have responded by saying that information was misrepresented, while I was just hoping it was his overall caution with respect to conflict in the region. I am not sure how I feel about how he’s handling all of this, but I don’t envy his job, and I’m glad we didn’t go in sooner and do all of the things that team McCain/Graham would’ve preferred (I think we would’ve done our nation and it’s image a great disservice).

Rant Done

Lamborn starts losing allies over military controversy | MSNBC.

 

In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., speaks at the Capitol in Denver.
In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., speaks at the Capitol in Denver.
Ed Andrieski, File/AP Photo

Lamborn starts losing allies over military controversy

09/30/14 08:37 AM—UPDATED 09/30/14 09:21 AM

By Steve Benen

For any politician facing a political controversy, there’s one sure sign of trouble: the loss of political allies. Most political figures are accustomed to criticism from the other side of the aisle, and they expect scrutiny from journalists, but when members of their own party start turning on them, it’s a real problem.
Which brings us back to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who boasted last week that he’s urged active-duty U.S. generals to resign, during a war, in order to undermine the Obama administration.
The Colorado Springs’ newspaper, The Gazette, reports today that Lamborn is now facing rebukes from two high-profile Republicans from Colorado’s congressional delegation.
On Sunday night, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, tweeted a link to a story about Lamborn’s comments and said, “As a Marine and combat veteran, I know to keep my politics off the battlefield.”
And when asked about Lamborn’s statement, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, said: “There is no room for partisan politics when it comes to our men and women in uniform.”
To be sure, these aren’t sweeping condemnations, but let’s not overlook the context: with 35 days to go before Election Day, Coffman is in the middle of one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. House races, while Gardner is running in one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. Senate races. They’re both Republicans, but neither one of these congressmen are prepared to offer even a halfhearted defense for Lamborn’s controversial remarks.
Coffman and Gardner could have phrased this any number of ways to try and extend support to their GOP ally, but they chose to rebuke him instead. And while Gardner’s comments came in response to a reporter’s question, note that Coffman’s admonition was unprompted – he just wanted the public to know what Lamborn did was wrong.
How long until House Republican leaders are pressured to weigh in, too? For that matter, how long until House Democrats start pushing for Lamborn’s removal from the House Armed Services Committee?
This doesn’t appear to be going away. Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald published an item yesterday that didn’t hold back the emotional outrage.
Congressman Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, is an un-American demagogue, willing to sabotage this country for his own grandstanding narcissism. If his words are to be believed, this brigadier blowhard is thoroughly unfit for public office and instead should be rotting in jail on charges of treason. […]
Lamborn is the latest type of political muck America needs to scrape off the bottom of its national shoe: an officeholder so absorbed with his hatred of the opposing party that he is willing to do anything, no matter how much it damages our national security and the underpinnings of our democracy, if it will win him some applause and maybe a couple of votes.
The Associated Press, meanwhile, has also picked up on the controversy, and quoted a Lamborn aide saying yesterday that the congressman “was referencing prior occasions, such as the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy or budget cuts.”
The problem with the defense is that it’s still literally unbelievable. As we discussed yesterday, a voter made some bizarre anti-Obama comments at a local event, while urging the congressman to “support the generals and the troops.” The congressman replied, “[L]et me reassure you on this. A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. You know, let’s have a public resignation, and state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory.’”
All of this was in present tense. For that matter, the U.S. was still at war in 2010 (during the debate over DADT repeal) and in 2013 (during the debate over sequestration), so it’s not as if the defense is especially compelling anyway – for a congressman to push for wartime resignations to undermine U.S. policy is problematic no matter when it happens.
And so the questions for the Republican congressman remain the same: When you said “a lot of us” are pushing generals to resign, who else is involved in this effort? Which generals have you talked to “behind the scenes”? Why would it help U.S. interests for generals to resign during a war? Exactly how many times did you talk to the generals about this, and when was the last conversation?
The questions for House Republican leaders are just as straightforward: Doug Lamborn bragged publicly about basically trying to incite mutiny among America’s generals during war time. Is that acceptable behavior?

Do You Have Trouble Getting Up In the Morning? Maybe You Should Work Here – Tim’s Place: Where breakfast, lunch and HUGS are served! – YouTube

Are you kind of a Grinch and you know it? Well buckle up – I dare you to not love this! If you can pull that off let me know, I will see to it myself that we get you some help.

Tim’s Place: Where breakfast, lunch and HUGS are served! – YouTube.

 

Dumb And Dumber To (Trailer)

Dumb-and-Dumber-2

 

I’m sorry if you aren’t excited about this movie… I’m not sorry that it’s happening, I’m just sorry that you aren’t experiencing the same joy that I am. If you are excited about this movie then feel free to come over to my house, and let’s be friends.

 

via Dumb And Dumber To – TV Spot 1 HD – YouTube.

Aaron the Ripper?

Originally posted on gnostic bent:

The real Jack the Ripper (Beth Ivie-Allen)

The real Jack the Ripper (Beth Ivie-Allen)

In the fall of 1888, the Whitechapel district of London was terrorized by a serial killer who preyed on prostitutes and murdered them in the most brutal fashion: the infamous Jack the Ripper. And for more than 125 years, the identity of this vicious madman remained a mystery, despite there being a handful of potential suspects.

Well, it looks like the mystery has finally been solved—and not by a seasoned detective, but by an amateur sleuth named Russell Edwards.

The revelation came after Edwards acquired a shawl that was found at the crime scene of one of the Ripper’s victims, Catherine Eddowes. A world-renowned expert in DNA analysis—Dr. Jari Louhelainen—examined the shawl and was able to recover not only blood from the victim, but semen from her killer. He then used mitochondrial DNA—as well as samples from descendants of Eddowes and several suspects—to…

View original 135 more words

Saying Goodbye to Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers was one of the most crass and offensive comedians to ever be a part of mainstream comedy. This is just a fact. However, she paved the way for so many. As a big fan of comedy, and the progression of people being able to make an impact I have a big place in my heart for Joan, even though she manages to make me uncomfortable pretty regularly when I watch her. Joan was groundbreaking with all of her appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but after she hosted a competing show for a short time there was a long time ban on her appearing on the Tonight Show – that was up until recently on Jimmy Fallon’s first episode after taking over the show.

So, with Joan being who she was I’m posting the thing that probably most exemplifies her career (outside of her documentary “A Piece Of Work”, which is not available on YouTube), her Comedy Central Roast.

*WARNING: if you are easily offended this will definitely offend you.

The Roast of Joan Rivers – YouTube.

This Man Was Given 2 Years To Live With ALS In 1963, And He’s Still Alive… And That’s Not Even The Most Interesting Thing About Him.

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Stephen Hawking has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Did I just blow your mind? Discovering this bit of information was actually somewhat exciting for me, as I have always thought of the disease to be an absolute guarantee of death within a few years. I realize that a lot of people that I know do not like Mr. Hawking, and you don’t have to (no one can make you), but it is probably worth at least learning his story, and what makes him significant (other than the fact that he’s survived having ALS for half of a century). It will probably comfort a lot of my friends at least somewhat to know that Mr. Hawking isn’t as militant an atheist as some. He has actually been quoted saying:

“An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!” – Stephen Hawking

 

The recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has been unbelievably successful. Much of the success of this campaign is probably correlated with the fact that there seemed to be a very simple, and kind of fun activity that tangibly allows people to at least do something, other than give money. The other side of the campaign that is probably responsible for having raised $94.3 million, in less than a month (as opposed to $2.7 million in the same time period the previous year) is the outpouring of personal stories. I recently read the book “You Are Now Less Dumb”, and in this book David McRaney attempts to establish that the most basic of human instincts is to have a narrative – we must make sense of it all. He tries to explain how we tell ourselves simple lies sometimes just to make sense of our environment. It might seem like I’m bringing this up to say that religion is an opiate, but that is not my intent. I simply want to describe the importance in the human condition of relating to others. This is what Stephen looked like before ALS took over his body:

hawking

 

SO, here is my challenge to you: I challenge you to watch this and try to address your prejudices against Mr. Hawking, be they ideological or biological – or simply watch it and enjoy it. I believe there is a God, and that in principle is why I would want to hear as much from someone like Hawking as possible. If you don’t have time for the video I at least urge you to read about some of Mr. Hawking’s discoveries and theories, he is a pretty smart fellow. Now I think I’ll go listen to the audiobook for his record breaking best selling book “A Brief History of Time”.

via Hawking 2013 – YouTube.

Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictment | Fox News

 

Rick-perry3

Just to clarify, I don’t find this news to be something to celebrate. I do not hate Rick Perry, and it is sad to see stories like this. Nonetheless, I am not a big fan of his political career, and this is big news. I hope that he has a wonderful life, and that he gets this behind him, and also that he stops having such influence in public policy that affects so many people.

 

Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictment

Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictmentPublished August 19, 2014FoxNews.com0 Texas Gov. Rick Perry plans to turn himself into authorities Tuesday afternoon at a local Texas jail on the heels of his indictment for alleged abuse of power, a member of the governor’s legal team told Fox News. The governor is expected to be processed quickly and to leave. He is not subject to an arrest warrant. However, Fox News has learned Perry will have his mugshot and fingerprints taken. He plans to arrive at the Travis County Justice Complex in Austin at about 5 p.m. local time. Fox News’ Casey Stegall contributed to this report.

via Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictment | Fox News.

Jimmy Pays Tribute to Robin Williams – Tonight Show

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As a lover of conflicted, and conflicting people I regularly find that if I’m not laughing I’m crying. In all honesty I have experienced much of both laughter and crying over the last few days. I have been wondering what might be comparable as a lose for previous generations, and I’ve had trouble coming up with one… Maybe Will Rogers? He didn’t take his own life, and he was a different breed of entertainer, but he like Robin Williams caused great introspection for their audiences. I am trying to be happy for the great gift of Robin’s life, but I’m still feeling quite a bit of grief… I can’t wait to someday tell my kids about this madman of a comedian, and show them old clips like this one:

Jimmy Pays Tribute to Robin Williams – YouTube.

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