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

 

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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.

70 Years Ago Anne Frank Was Captured by the Nazis. Could That Happen Today?

Sometimes I find that I compartmentalize different historical figures and events, often forgetting that many events occurred at the same time as other consequential things, and many historical figures lived simultaneously, yet my mind seems to place very differently. I guess it was only a few months ago that I discovered that Martin Luther King Jr. born the same year as Anne Frank. I think of them as different people by the fact that they were different ages at their most influential, and their influences are separated by multiple decades. While alive they were virtually the same age, but in death they seem crystallized as members of different generations, to me at least. They both represent a unifying ideal in the face of oppression, and when studied they are both proven to be very human individuals who had flaws.

My friend Gavin posted a very thoughtful blurb in regards to Ms. Frank and the 70th anniversary of her incarceration – which was on August 4th, 2014. I thought that it would be worth re-sharing:

On August 1, 1944 (about year after my Father Ron was born) Anne Frank wrote her last diary entry. Millions of lives have been changed by the writings of this typical teenage girl who was willing to be honest, vulnerable, and search for forgiveness. Tomorrow, on Aug. 4th, seventy years ago she and her family were arrested and later sent to concentration camps. -GR “Often, reading Anne Frank’s diary is the way in which young people first learn about the horrors of the Nazi genocide. Just as importantly, young readers understand that these crimes were visited upon a girl much like themselves and their friends — a girl who was often in conflict with her mother, a girl who kept vowing to be a more patient and forgiving person, a girl who fell in love for the first time. A girl who wanted to be a writer — and who was one.” -Francine Prose CNN‪ #‎neverforget‬

 

I find it maddening that we still live in a world where there are groups of people who don’t seem able to escape tribalistic oppression from their own communities, or from their assumed enemies. I don’t like to think of myself as tribalistic, but in those moments when I am faced with my own humanity out of fear I usually find that I can be rather tribalistic, and I think that we are generally built that way.

I have shared this video several times before, but it seems very relevant for those who have the time to watch it:

The outrage that is so often expressed for the senseless oppression of a child, and many more like her is what makes Anne Frank’s diary such an amazing artifact. What if that same oppression still existed today in different forms? How would you feel? What would you do differently? Pedigree, belief systems, and birthplace can quite literally doom adolescents everyday, as it did 70 years ago. And might we just for a moment address that just because someone is not a child does not make it any less heinous that they be killed senselessly. There are more human beings enslaved today than ever before… That means more slaves than at the peak of the Civil War or during the construction of the pyramids. Of course we have a lot more people in the world, but that is not hyperbole, those are real live numbers! Most of the slave trade consists of young girls, just like Anne Frank… And as the world again finds unrest in the Middle East, most predictably in Israel, there are children who are being killed every single day.

The current fighting in Gaza between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples is a tragic example of tribalism – and this fight in many ways has been overly simplified by many, the Western Media in particular. What if both sides have innocent blood on their hands, and that by inserting ourselves in the fight we are adding fuel to the flame? Wouldn’t that be a bad thing?

I don’t think that these sides are equal and opposite to one another, that would be far too convenient. I do however think that as long as we speak about intending to prevent human tragedies we should speaking honestly about real events and their real consequences. Far more innocent Muslims have been killed in this fighting. Are you ok with that, and if so why? I wonder how many Anne Franks might have been saved, regardless of race and creed, if we would have acted differently…

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The very real impact of Obamacare opposition, in one map – Vox

*Below there is a video, and an article which is much more informative than I. So if you don’t have much time please skip what I wrote and go straight to that.

The following video, and the article below it, were made by Ezra Klein (and whoever else Ezra works with). It describes some of the cost patterns associated with regulation and participation within the healthcare marketplace. Ezra describes the very real effects of people being able to opt out of a system that automatically promises to treat them (via: at the least Emergency Rooms). While I agree with virtually everything about this video (and I usually find him to be very informative), this is a Very complex topic, and thus there are items that could be essential information while considering cause and effect of the health care industry – in particular the cause and effect of prices. As people begin to debate what causes our nation to pay such an incredible amount (16.9% of our GDP, the highest in the world), and yet we aren’t even close to the healthiest.

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I support business leading the way on development, and infrastructure as much as it can, but some great ideas have been midwifed by our collectivist society through our taxes. And something that I can’t seem to explain well enough to some of my friends is that free markets, and libertarianism is based in access. Do people have access to what they want? That is one measure of “free market” capitalism – but within our markets we regularly build levies and dams to protect us. Debating regulation specifics, rather than whether or not we should have any regulation is really what this country needs.

The regulation changes over the last few years have been labeled a handout to insurance companies, and in while that is true in many ways the real catalyst in terms of our prices being so inflated in comparison with the rest of the industrialized world is our administrative cost from having a privatized system that so heavily supports the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the networks of hospitals with virtually no accountability on many levels. These arguments cannot be made against the entire healthcare industry, but they should be made against certain portions of it.

I don’t know which approach we should take exactly, I don’t love “Obamacare”, but it’s in many ways an improvement on what he had before. The following might help in understanding the most controversial part of the ACA (Affordable Care Act), the Individual Mandate (invented by the Heritage Foundation in the 1990’s).

-Grady

Vox’s Ezra Klein explains exactly how the individual mandate works

The individual mandate is the provision of Obamacare that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance coverage. It exists to encourage people who are unlikely to buy coverage — mostly healthy people who think premiums are a waste of money — to go ahead and do so. This is necessary, many health economists believe, in order to keep premiums low.Some people do get an exemption from the individual mandate, because they can’t find an affordable plan, for example, or have a religious objection to health coverage. But, by and large, most Americans are now required to carry health coverage or pay a penalty.The penalty for not carrying coverage in 2014 is $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is larger, and it goes up the next year and year after. The federal government recoups this penalty via the tax filing process. So someone who decided to go uninsured would file that information with the Internal Revenue Service, along with their income. They could have the penalty deducted from their 2014 tax return — the one that they file in the spring of 2015.Though the individual mandate was originally a conservative idea pushed in response to Bill Clinton’s 1994 health care plan, it became the subject of a lawsuit Republican attorneys general mounted against Obamacare’s constitutionality. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in June 2012 that the mandate was constitutional under the federal government’s taxing powers. You can read the decision here.

via The very real impact of Obamacare opposition, in one map – Vox.

“Help Me Help You”: The Secrets of Food Marketing – eTalks

Think you aren’t being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing’s secret weapon.No amount of marketing makes factory farming acceptable. You can stop the spin at http://www.ciwf.org.uk/truth

via eTalks – The Secrets of Food Marketing – YouTube.

 

So let’s pretend that we as a society collectively actually do believe that treatment of animals like this is ok (which I’m not confident that we feel that way at all) – shouldn’t we still at least have ways to address the health risks involved with this type of business practice? People are becoming more and more immune to antibiotics, and not just people who take antibiotics. I’m not saying that antibiotics are bad, but science tells us that our food is affecting our evolution/immune systems.

Do you ever wonder what it would take for us to actually make a change? I mean, what news do you think we would have to hear that would cause people to change how they live their lives? Organic food can be more expensive, at least at first. By the way that we subsidize the unhealthy food industry and “poor health” health care we actually end up paying more in many ways – oh and we’re less healthy… If you find this concerning then keep reading, or watching what you can find, that’s what I’m trying to do. Maybe you don’t feel that you can do much, but research where you buy, so you know what you buy.If you have time now or later I recommend watching the movie Food Inc., and I’ll be posting a related video below. You’ll have to find the full movie elsewhere, it may still be on Netflix.

P.S. We don’t need to be jerks to animals do we?… I eat meat, but can’t I still have remorse for their treatment? If you are really curious just look up PETA videos on youtube… Goodluck enjoying any meat for a while after watching those…

P.P.S. If you don’t want the government to step in a do any “social engineering” like limiting the container size in which you can sell soda pop (as NYC tried to do, not ban soda), then you need to vote with your wallet. We have a health crisis, and because we have a system that ties us all together through the “free market” insurance industry and emergency rooms end up being more expensive – while churning out patients who would have been better served with preventative measures…

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Skin In The Game: High Stakes on High Temps

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When there is a big debate I love to hear “the facts” as we know them, but I also love hearing about the passion with which those in close proximity to the item in question conveys their perspective. Does the person speaking have anything to gain or lose in this debate? Like when I hear people talk about the gospel: the most compelling argument (to me anyway) that Jesus was who people say that he says he was is that his disciples, who lived among him, were almost all reportedly tortuously murdered still claiming what they had been sentenced to death for proclaiming. They had “skin in the game”, and it didn’t shake their resolve. This matter of course still requires faith, just as many consequential aspects of life can require faith in planning, but they had first-hand experience with something and they were willing to die horrifically for that thing (or so it is told, and believing in these events does require faith).

This video describes multiple groups with “skin in the game” (whether it be professional, financial, or actual physical skin) in regards to the climate of our planet possibly changing – and they believe that the climate is experiencing change. One thing about “free markets” is that they can indicate much about items unknowable, yet consequential, and how those with skin in the game estimate they should act. Can we guarantee that people in the United States will continue to gain weight, and keep paying for care which allows them to experience less indigestion but maintain too much weight? No, but if you were to bet on it how would you bet? Billions of dollars are bet every year, by people who don’t like losing money, on the idea that people are not going to lose weight, and those people make a lot of money. If you were an insurance company would you haphazardly put billions of dollars at stake for something that is “laughable”? Well, those companies which have the opportunity to bet on whether or not the climate is changing detrimentally to some degree are making the bets that would indicate that they think we have a problem with the health of our little planet’s climate. I guess if the free market can’t inform some conservatives then I’m not sure that it’s going to happen anytime soon.

This speech from Senator Whitehouse is from December of 2013, and it seems to have just recently picked up some more traction in the social media world. He is speaking against Oklahoma Senator (and apparently very nice guy) Senator Inhofe. I have had multiple friends work for Inhofe, and the reports seem to be that he’s sincere, but that doesn’t mean that he’s right.

George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me – YouTube

Having grown up as I have in a very conservative environment, and in many ways I’m very grateful for that, I repeatedly find myself struggling with one a few inconsistencies that I find in the fabric of the culture. As human beings are imperfect creatures I think this would be the case wherever one is to have been from. But seeing as how I was raised as I was where I was I find that I can most easily point out hypocrisies, as well as triumphs, in my home culture.

The moral/cultural hypocrisy that I have repeatedly found myself most frustrated with has been reflected in this question: as Christian theology teaches that we are all imperfect how could it be that our nation and it’s history wouldn’t as well be tainted?

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Stephen Colbert wrote a book in 2012 titled America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t, which I firstly assumed was titled nonsensically just because he is funny, and he was intending to be “ridiculous”. However, after I heard him explain the title in an interview it made perfect sense. It is intended to be a “poke” at the conservative historicity of America for being the best that there ever was, and the best there ever will be – while also perpetually being in the process of going straight down the tubes. I could tell some anecdotal stories about trying to talk with some of my very conservative friends about some of the “wrong doings” of our nation in the past, and even the present, and how those conversations didn’t go very well. Rather however, I think it may be a better idea for me to just say if you don’t think that there is revisionist history about how we have treated human beings (not to mention animals or this marvelously inhabitable planet), I ask you to have a conversation with someone who you know has deep rooted conservative ideals about things like the dropping of the Atom Bomb, or reparations for Native Americans and African Americans. I know it’s a difficult conversation, but look into the history of some of our greatest shortcomings, lest we never forget and repeat them.

And for the record, I am most definitely aware that revisionist history and self-pleasing politics are not unique to Oklahoma, The South, or The United States. I know best about Oklahoma, and so that is the narrative from which my opinion is most founded. There is no question that the North had slave/racism, or any number of hot button items may have a partial or blinded perspective. I just hope that you can forgive me if I’ve hurt your feelings by seeming to bully my home – if I am doing that it’s unintentional.

Here is a story about one of our greatest injustices that seems rarely to be told, and fortunately for us it is being told by a very funny and well-liked American, George Takei.

via George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me – YouTube.

The Trials of Ted Haggard

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Over the last several months I have found myself trying to write, but sometimes I don’t feel that I can fully express what I’m trying to write about, and at other times I find myself discouraged by our scalding discourse. I go through different phases of curiosity, and they are often fueled by logic games and divergent philosophies. Over the last several months I’ve felt myself having a greater desire to hear people’s stories. For the life of me I can’t get passed this recent feeling of sorrow for people who believe in the sincerest of ideals, but they know that they cannot live up to those ideals. There has been one person who I have had trouble getting out of my mind as I think about falling short of great expectations, and that man has been Ted Haggard. I haven’t found that I agree with Mr. Haggard on plenty, but for multiple reasons I just can’t get his “fall from grace” in his community out my mind. I know i haven’t shared much lately, but I felt that this was worth worth sharing.

 

World’s Toughest Job Interview…

Well, this is awkward for a moment there… ;-)

Nazi-Era Snapshots and the Banality of Evil

The world of human life is complex, and articles like this really help me sit back and consider some of the challenges of the human condition.

 

Nazi-Era Snapshots and the Banality of Evil

No Lakotas in the picture. All photos courtesy of Daniel Lenchner’s collection.

“Do you know about the Lakota Indians?” asked Daniel Lenchner, handing me a slightly faded photograph from the early 20th century. It was a class portrait with a location printed at the bottom: Lakota, North Dakota.

“Now,” challenged Lenchner, “can you find an Indian in this picture?”

I scanned the rows of Caucasian faces.

“Not going to happen,” he continued. “We got rid of them, you know. No more Lakotas in Lakota. It looks like a class portrait, but you could also say that this is a picture of genocide.”

That theme of implicit absence dominates Lenchner’s found-photograph collection. Scouring flea markets, estate sales, and the internet, Lenchner has collected over 500 snapshots of Nazistaken by Nazis that document their daily lives: their families, their friendships, and their leisure activities.

As a Jewish man with ancestors who perished in the Holocaust, these intimate glimpses into the daily lives of his family’s persecutors bring him face to face with what political philosopher Hannah Arendt called  “the banality of evil.”

I met the 68 year old Lenchner last month in his sprawling New York apartment to look through his collection and discuss its implications.

VICE: What’s striking about so many of these images is that without the uniforms you really can’t tell that these people are Nazis, can you?
Daniel Lenchner:
 Yes, that’s really what my thesis is: These people are normal in appearance, but appearances are deceiving. There is the modern news phenomenon of people being interviewed in the street after they discover that their neighbor is a mass murderer. They’re always expressing surprise, that they didn’t realize it, that they should have known. The underlying assumption is that they could’ve known. But, if the truth is that there is no way to know, then you shouldn’t be surprised.

I interviewed the great-niece of Nazi leader Herman Göring once, and her family albums are filled with pictures like these. She talked about feeling the love that’s evident in so many of the scenes: fathers holding their children, spouses embracing, friends laughing. How do you confront the presence of those kinds of emotions?
Yes, these guys went home to their wives and children, and maybe they sang them nice German lullabies, but it’s not an exoneration. I mean, Hitler loved dogs, and he was a vegetarian. Great. But, it’s all kind of irrelevant. At the end of the day these things are reconcilable. No, not exactly reconcilable, but they coexist. The evil and the not-evil coexist in a person. But, in Nuremberg, it didn’t come up that they were nice to their wives because it didn’t matter.

It looks like the man in this picture wasn’t such a great husband. Is this a Dear John letter written on the back?
A Dear Johann letter, so to speak.

Can you describe what we’re looking it?
Well, here we have this handsome studio portrait of a German officer, and on the back is this message from a woman, apparently his mistress. She writes that she’s giving back this photograph because it’s brought her back luck. He’s a playboy. She refers to his “wanderings in Weimar,” and makes reference to his wife.

What do you like about this picture?
It’s just so normal, so banal, just a man screwing around on his wife—nothing so unusual there. He’s a regular scoundrel, but put him in a Nazi uniform and all of a sudden we have a special kind of scoundrel.

In this case, the story is right there on the image itself, but most of these pictures have very little context. How much of what you see comes from the pictures themselves and how much is your own projection?
That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Let me show you something that addresses that. This is one of the most stunning pictures I’ve ever bought and there’s absolutely nothing on the back. Take a look and tell me what you see.

I see a massacre.  
Yes, a little massacre, with what I believe is a rape. This is surely a woman with her babushka. She’s laid on this table with her legs splayed, and she’s been made a little comfortable with some straw under her head. I think everybody’s dead here: bodies, bodies, bodies. And, the Germans are done now. They’re heading to what looks like a small train station. Their backs are all turned away. “We’ve done our work and now we’re leaving.”

What might be most disturbing of all is this detail of putting the straw under the woman’s head. It looks like an attempt to make her comfortable as they raped and killed her. It seems like a recognition of her humanity.
Also, it looks like this dead man has his arm around this person here, in a protective pose.

As if he could shield them from bullets.
As I said, there’s nothing on the back of this photograph, but the story is very clearly there. I don’t think we have to read too much into it.

And yet, it’s hard not to project, isn’t it? This is not so different from the kind of war photography that we’re all familiar with…
Right, this almost could have been taken by Robert Capa.

The composition is excellent and the focus is razor sharp.
That’s right. One thing you can say about the Nazis is that they went to war with good cameras. They didn’t go with any goddamn instamatics. They went with Leicas: good cameras with good lenses. You can see the number on the train. You can see the blades of grass. You can see the dead man’s eyes.

It’s similar to a Robert Capa, as you say, but—and this goes back to projection—knowing who took this picture gives it an intimacy that takes it beyond photojournalism. The photographer is part of the photograph. That almost gives it the quality of a family snapshot, except instead of standing and smiling, everyone is dead.
And then, the question you’ll never answer: why did they take this picture?

Why do you think?
Sometimes you wonder, are they proud? Who knows. This I have no answer for.

Well, they certainly didn’t take it for your benefit. There’s something profoundly subversive about this ending up in your hands. I mean, the photographer could never have even imagined your existence.
No. But, who was it meant for? His superior officer, his friends, his wife, his children?

It’s jarring to see that photograph in the same collection as this other one here. This picture here seems delightful, really: a crowd of people laughing at something outside the frame.
Except, look there. Do you see the swastika? Suddenly it becomes sinister. What are they laughing at? We will never know. And, they are really cracking up. It’s great. You have examples of all the different ways that people laugh. Some people cover their face, and some bend at the waist, some hold their stomach, and here he’s leaning backwards, she’s covering her mouth, and she’s pointing to draw her friend’s attention.

You must be primed to see the swastika. It took me a second.
Yeah, that’s absolutely true. I’m so sensitive that I occasionally see swastikas where there are none.

With that kind of priming, what do you see when you look at the German people of today?
Well, I lived in Germany for five years as a college instructor for the American military. I taught comparative literature to GIs. That was during the mid-70s, so many of the people that I passed on the street had lived through the Nazi era. It was a little weird to say the least. You get on a German train and you can’t help but think about cattle cars packed with human beings. But, you’re also struck by all of the good things. The place is clean, and the trains run on time, and the people are so honest.

In what ways were they honest?
On the autobahn, for example, the bathrooms all had plates where you would leave a tip for the cleaning person. So, you walk into the bathroom, and there is a plate full of money. Now, you put that on the New Jersey Turnpike and it wouldn’t last three minutes. They’d steal the money and the plate too. But, in Germany not only do they not steal the money, but they put more in. You look at that and you think, Are these the same people responsible for the Holocaust? How can this be? Yet, some of those people must have been honest. They must have been honest in that narrow sense: placing money on the plate on their way to build a concentration camp.

The Lenchner family in Lodz, Poland in 1935. Only Daniel Lenchner’s father (back row, second from right) survived the war.

Roc’s new book, And, was released recently. You can find more information on his website.

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