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Category: Bill Maher

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

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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.

“Killing Them Softly” – Bill Maher on how we kill people

I thought that this was worth a share. A lot of times more controversial, and carnal issues get the black and white treatment, but they are actually the issues that most need a nuanced approach. If we are going to kill people as a society how should we kill them?

-Grady

Killing Them Softly

January 30, 2014 

By Bill Maher

Hey, remember the Bill of Rights? Sock hops? Hot rods? Flat tops? A warm hand job and a frosty malted at Pop’s? Those were the days. Remember when we used to debate whether the death penalty was “cruel and unusual punishment” – back before drones and torture? Well, there’s still one problem with the death penalty: We do it in public – unlike torture, natch – and it gives people the creeps when it goes wrong or takes a long time, like recently, when a guy who’d raped and stabbed a pregnant newlywed was executed in Ohio, and he took longer to die than Ariel Sharon.

America tends to execute people by lethal injection. We’ve killed about 1,300 people since 1970; 1,200 of those by needle. But drug companies don’t like making lethal drugs. It looks bad for the brand. So Missouri state Representative Rick Brattin has a solution: He introduced a bill to add “firing squad” as an option in his state. Right now, Utah is the only state that uses firing squads, but they’ve only shot three people since 1977, which is more than I can say for Aaron Hernandez.

Why is shooting creepier than injection? It’s not like we’re one of those countries that doesn’t like bang-bang. Is it because we have an affection boarding on worship for the idea of solving problems with drugs?

If We Weren’t Laughing We’d Be Crying – The Night I Met Bill Maher

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That’s me on the right, and Bill Maher on the left. He shook my hand, and I thanked him for being the King of Nuance, to which he laughed.

Last night (April 14th, 2013), I got to shake hands with one of the people who has been on my bucket list to meet for a long time, Bill Maher. I ended up getting to sit on the second row in the middle of the stage, and it felt like he was looking at me several times. As a kid I was scared of Bill, and I thought that he was the absolute epitome of all that was wrong in the world, I’d never heard anyone talk or act as he did on national television, several times a week. Skipping a few steps in my story, I decided in my early adult life that there really was no such thing as a bad question, so started listening to videos and clips of people who I adamantly disagreed with, so that I could figure out how others could possibly believe things so different from what I believed. This list of people who I’ve listened to due to my disagreements on politics, religion, philosophy, and the weather has grown and changed several times, but Bill remains a part of that list. The funny thing is that I’ve found myself agreeing with much of his sentiment, but not always the snark. I have truly grown to appreciate his honesty, even when it hurts. I could talk about Bill Maher for a long time because of what it has meant to me to listen to his standup routines and panels and challenge myself to never stop asking questions, and to not get my feelings hurt so easily when someone disagrees with me or even calls me a name. Bill is guilty of the name calling, and he could tone that down – but I will also say that if he hadn’t called me names I wouldn’t have been challenged enough to ask the tough questions that I’ve needed to ask myself on several occasions.

I’ve decided in this post to include a couple more pictures and a few of his standup routines, but mostly I want to include the first episode of his new show (of which he is the head producer), that follows his show on Friday nights now. It’s called VICE, and it is Very challenging to watch… I must warn you it is very graphic, and you should not watch it at work, unless if you work at home, or actually want to get any work done for the rest of today. As I understand it they decided to start this show because of the disappointing lack of journalism in the Middle East being broadcasted in the United States, and as HBO and Bill are both tips of the spear for progression this show is incredibly well done.

So, thank you Bill for your candor and sincerity. If we weren’t laughing about some of the absurdity in the world we would be crying. However, if you watch this premiere of VICE it is likely that you’ll cry regardless.

I don’t agree with Bill on everything, especially his approach to faith (although I appreciate him forcing people to ask questions that they might not otherwise), and If you would like to know about my faith feel free to click on this recent post “And Then the Conference Uninvited Me To Speak”.

I’m sorry if your feelings are hurt by me saying anything warm about Bill Maher, but he has challenged me, and for that I’m grateful. When I shook his hand last night I thanked him for being the king of nuance, to which he laughed. Playing the “devil’s advocate” (poor term in my opinion) / asking questions even when it is unpopular or personally challenging is something that I intend to do for the rest of my life, so if I stop friends, family and strangers please remind me to start again.

-Grady

VICE Series Premiere

Thanks for reading, please feel free to give me some feedback.

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Here are just a couple of his standup routines, and I would like to remind you that posting this does not mean I approve of everything that he says, in particular about religion. But I do appreciate him making space for me to ask questions, which has been very liberating in my spiritual journey believe it or not…:

I’m Swiss (2005):

Crazy Stupid Politics (2012):

Bill Maher Says “Taxes Are Too High” – Washington Times

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By Cheryl K. Chumley

Liberal HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher says he may leave California, due to the state’s high tax rate.

“Liberals,” he said, during a recent broadcast,” you could actually lose me.”

He made the comments during a panel discussion of current Capitol Hill budget policy that included the participation of MSNBC Rachel Maddow, who blasted Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal as beneficial to the rich.

“The Ryan budget is a document that says the big problems in American right now are that rich people do not have enough money. They need relief from confiscatory tax rate,” she said, Newsbusters reports.

Mr. Maher answered: “You know what? Rich people — I’m sure you’d agree with this — actually do pay the freight in this country.”

Mr. Maher then cited statistics that California millionaires pay nearly 40 percent to the federal government and another near 15 percent to the state.

“I just want to say liberals — you could actually lose me. It’s outrageous what we’re paying — over 50 percent. I’m willing to pay my share, but yeah, it’s ridiculous,” he said, Newsbusters reports.

via Bill Maher threatens to leave California — due to high taxes – Washington Times.

 

Grady’s Comments:

Taxes are tragically one of the most divisive topics in our nations political hemisphere,  and there is more that the populist portion of this nation would agree on than there is for them to disagree on, if there is an honest discussion. Paying taxes is no fun, but investing in society can do great things! Unless of course if you don’t like the internet, interstate highways, etc… I mean, most people take advantage of, and seem to enjoy a lot that public investment has wrought. There is plenty of disagreement to be had, but there is a disconcertingly dishonest narrative, for the most part, that Democrats want TONS of taxes, and Republicans want 0% (ZERO) taxes… People in either party want a government that has basic functionality, and that isn’t free. Due to a toxic environment for debate and discussion I sadly think that people’s understanding of what it takes to have a government that works is very skewed. In polling people repeatedly show that they don’t know what is most expensive, and they don’t know what benefits they receive from paying taxes. And when people don’t realize they they are a part of the problem things can get ugly… It’s like dating someone who thinks that they are low maintenance  but they very clearly to everyone else are high maintenance… Why won’t their friends just say something?!!

Now, with all of that said – there is little disagreement from as far as I can tell that people almost across the board want a simpler, more flat tax code. And if rates are to be staggered the majority of people in polling that I’ve seen have said that they think that those with more should pay higher rates (Adam Smith himself thought this was best) – but there is a limit to this approach, and I think that popular opinion on this is also changing. I think that we are going to find our selves in the near future with a voting populous that wants an even flatter tax code, and they might call for more people to pay. This however will be increasingly hard to achieve with growing income disparity breaking barriers at increasing speeds.

At the end of the day I agree with Bill’s comments. I think that there are a lot of people with a lot of money who pay too much in taxes. However, there are a number of people who don’t pay near as much in taxes, in terms of their rate especially, and it’s a real problem not just because of simple fairness, but because of the side-affects of having such an imbalanced society. Our convoluted tax code allows for those who don’t work to pay half of the rate of those who do work (ie: capitol gains, and the carried interest), and that’s before they add in deductions which could dwindle those rates into oblivion with the right tax lawyers/ninjas.

As this is somewhat of a confusing conversation with so many contrasting stories about people who do and don’t pay taxes we simply need to recognize that our tax system is broken, and from there move towards a system where work should be incentivized. If you hear people talk about the “1%” take note of what they’re saying, and then consider that the real problem in having that stereotype continually repeated is that we are lumping together some people who do pay taxes, and some people who don’t. I want to talk about it, but I want to Really talk about it – it’s just not simple. Most of the people who don’t “pay their fair share” (pay a normalish rate) have so much money that they don’t look like the other 99% of the top 1%… We are talking about very few people, but a LOT of money. When a millionaire like Bill Maher (who is quite liberal) talks about paying too much in taxes he is getting at a very real problem that is very confusing to the public, because when it comes to paying taxes it’s a game, and if you’re reading this you are probably losing…

“Retaking the Initiative” – Bill Maher on State’s Rights / Special Interest Groups

I thought this was pretty well put, especially considering that idea that he is arguing for a preservation of the 10th Amendment (state autonomy), and a large number of his harshest critiques have to respect that, as it is one of their great causes. What do you think?

 

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Retaking the Initiative

March 14, 2013

By Bill Maher

Recently on Real Time we talked about Prop 37, a California ballot measure that would have required labeling of genetically modified foods. Monsanto, Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, General Mills and others formed a nutritional axis of evil and spent 45 million dollars to successfully defeat the initiative. And this is not the first time large outside interests have butted their noses — and wallets — into the state of California’s affairs. The same thing happened with Proposition 8, the initiative to ban gay marriage, which was on the ballot in California in 2008. Backers and opponents of the bill donated 83 million dollars in total. Donations rolled in from all 50 states and, ironically, the US Virgin Islands.

Those supporting the bill to ban gave 39 million dollars. Those against the bill gave 44.1 million dollars. Of the 39 million spent to pass the measure, 27.7 came from California; 11.3 million came from out of state. Of the 44.1 million spent to defeat the bill, 30.9 came from California; 13.2 million came from out of state. Prop 8 passed and gay marriage — which had been legal in the state for the previous five months, thanks to a California Supreme Court equal protection ruling — was no longer legal.

It’s time someone put an initiative on the ballot banning donations to state ballot initiatives from people who don’t live in that state.

Obama is hoping for a Democratically-controlled House in 2014, but it doesn’t really matter; special interest groups have figured out how to bypass the federal system and enact their agendas into law through state ballot initiatives. It’s also why Congress can get away with not working anymore.

Why should powerful wealthy groups and individuals be allowed to interfere with the way of life in an area where they don’t live? Isn’t that how America got started in the first place — to put an end to that sort of thing?

When are we going to stop allowing corporate interests or the Mormons or the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson to get all “King George” on us every election year?

Bill O’Reilly on The Late Show with David Letterman. – YouTube

Bill O’Reilly on The Late Show with David Letterman. – YouTube.

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I love watching interviews of my favorite shows when Bill O’Reilly is on, because even though Mr. O’Reilly can be a bully on his own show he is usually much better behaved and the best version of his TV self on other people’s shows. I always watch for him to appear on The Daily Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and Real Time with Bill Maher.

A Whisper in The Storm: The Final Reckoning – NYTimes.com

The Final Reckoning – NYTimes.com.

“Until there is a conception of participating in a democratic society, and a conception which is real – not just words and it means that we really are participating in a democratic society, until that’s the case discussion of taxes is fiddling with technicalities, and missing the point.” – Noam Chomsky, ‘An Inconvenient Tax’ (Film)

First of all I have to admit to having added to the title of this article. I added “A Whisper in the Storm” as an homage to how much I enjoyed this article.

Before you go any further I want to encourage you to read the article below… If you don’t have too much time, or you know that you might get bored with me please skip down to Mr. Brooks, I really doubt you’ll regret it.

Believing in something, or being defined by one’s background can often be a point of comfort and belonging. Having identity and individuality can be a very fulfilling thing, but people seem to perceive their individuality as reasoning why they can’t cooperate with others. This is The United States of America’s great identity crisis.

Americans want to be individuals, but they want to do it together, until it’s inconvenient… We have common cause and purpose in this nation, and in this world. Seeking commonalities seems like the best way to coexist. But finding out who you are can be just as important to a persons sense of purpose and worth. I like to classify myself as a social libertarian – which I think is actually much more in-line with the American electorate than either party, but you’d never know it from the 24 hour news cycle or the political gamesmanship we can’t seem to escape. One of the reasons I classify myself as such (as of right now) is that I believe in liberty based on a balance of a very democratically monitored and limited republic, while aiming to not allow my brothers and sisters of this nation and this world to live a forgotten and tragic life.

I don’t agree with Noam Chomsky all of the time, but I do have great admiration for him. His quote above symbolizes part of our struggle in my mind. Bill Maher is also someone who identifies as a social libertarian, regardless of how offensive he can be (I’m particularly don’t like how he makes fun of the middle of the country as he does). This post isn’t about my political philosophy so much though. Instead of going into petty politics (which is what happens anytime you put a face/name to any ideas) I would rather talk about the importance of sticking to talking about ideas.

David Brooks has my complete political admiration in his firm moderate grasp… I know I just said we should talk about ideas and not people, but David is one of the few people who knows how to talk about ideas so clearly that it can’t be personal. He’s good at his job… Before I really knew who he was I actually had the opportunity to meet him at the No Labels national launch, and I actually didn’t recognize him until after I’d spoken with him. He was incredibly kind, even though it was kind of my job at the time to know who he was… Well, this article moves me, and inspires me. Mr. Brooks is critical, and fair about the tone of today in my opinion. He is a moderate Conservative (which seems to be a rare bread in the mainstream anymore), and his words seem to lack all of the talking points that you hear in the main stream of the politics of today. I won’t attempt to explain what he’s trying to say, there’s a reason why he is so revered, he is good at using his own words. So, I would just like to remind you that this is a conservative man who has put into exact words how I feel about this election… I only say that because being from Oklahoma, and living in Arkansas it’s not all that difficult to be accused of being radically liberal, and I don’t think that I am (sorry for making it about me…).

Please, please share this article with your friends or family who are voting angrily (regardless of ideology), or who are seemingly lost in trying to understand what is happening in our country. I hope you enjoy the read, and I’d love (as usual) to get your feedback by whatever means you’d like.

Oh, one last thing. If you are ready to start hearing some voices that want to get our nation to get passed some of our shameful bickering I urge you to check out the wonderful organization No Labels. Perhaps you’ll enjoy their “12 Ways to Make Congress Work”, especially the No Budget – No Pay portion of their proposal.

-Grady

OP-ED COLUMNIST

The Final Reckoning

By

Jan. 20, 2009, was an inspiring day. Barack Obama took the oath of office and argued that America was in a crisis caused by “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

It was time, he said, to end the false choices between the orthodox left and the orthodox right. He called for “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. … In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

Obama acknowledged that some people questioned the scale of his ambitions, the scope of his grand plans. But, he continued, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

In some ways, President Obama has lived up to the promise of that day. In office, he has generally behaved with integrity and in a way befitting a man with his admirable character. Sure, he has sometimes stooped to the cynical maneuver. Contemptuous of his opponents, he has given himself permission to do the nasty and negative thing. But politics is a rough business and nobody comes out unsullied.

In moral terms, he hasn’t let us down. If he’s re-elected, his administration would probably remain scandal-free. Given the history of second terms, that is no small thing.

Moreover, Obama has been a prudent leader. He’s made no rash or disastrous decisions. He’s never acted out of some impetuous passion. His policies toward, say, China, Europe and Iran have had a sense of sober balance. If re-elected, he would probably commit no major blunders, which also is no small thing.

But the scope of Obama’s vision has contracted over the years. It has contracted politically. Four years ago, Obama won over many conservatives and independents. But he’s championed mostly conventional Democratic policies and is now mostly relying on members of his own party.

It has contracted managerially. Four years ago, Obama went to the White House with a Team of Rivals — big figures with big voices. Now the circle of trust is much smaller and political.

The mood has contracted. The atmosphere of expansive hope has often given way to a mood of aggrieved annoyance. He seems cagier, more hemmed in by the perceived limitations of his office. The man who ran on hope four years ago is now running one of the most negative campaigns in history, aimed at disqualifying his opponent.

Most of all, the vision has contracted. The arguments he made in his inaugural address were profoundly true. We are in the middle of an economic transition, a bit like the 1890s, with widening inequality, a corrupt and broken political system, an unsustainable welfare state, a dangerous level of family breakdown and broken social mobility.

The financial crisis exposed foundational problems and meant that we were going to have to live with a long period of slow growth, as the history of financial crises makes clear.

If Obama had governed in a way truer to his inauguration, he would have used this winter of recuperation to address the country’s structural weaknesses. He would have said: Look, we’re not going to have booming growth soon, but we will use this period to lay the groundwork for a generation of prosperity — with plans to reform the tax code, get our long-term entitlement burdens under control, get our political system working, shift government resources from the affluent elderly to struggling young families and future growth.

When people say they wish Obama had embraced the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, they don’t mean the specific details of that proposal. They mean the largeness that Obama’s inauguration promised and the Simpson-Bowles moment afforded. They mean confronting the hard choices, instead of promising more bounty for everyone with no sacrifice ever.

But the president got sucked in by short-term things — the allure of managing the business cycle so that the economy would boom by re-election time. Instead of taking the midterm defeat as a sign he should move to the center, or confound the political categories, he seems to have hunkered down and become more political. Washington dysfunction now looks worse than ever.

Sure, House Republicans have been intransigent, but Obama could have isolated them, building a governing center-left majority with an unorthodox agenda. Instead he’s comforted the Democratic base and disappointed sympathizers who are not in it.

One final thing. No one is fair to President Obama. People grade him against tougher standards than any other politician. But his innate ability justifies that high standard. These are the standards he properly set for himself. If re-elected, he’d be free from politics. It’d be interesting to see if he returns to his earlier largeness.

Bill Maher – “I Need Them To Admit The Historical Existence of George W. Bush”

“Republicans Don’t Have to Accept Evolution, Economics, Climatology, or Human Sexuality, But I Just Watched A Week of Their National Convention, And I Need Them To Admit The Historical Existence of George W. Bush.” -Bill Maher

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This is pretty funny, because it’s simply the truth… How in the world have they done such a good job of erasing W. not only from his connection to policies and ideology that has made impacts in our nation and world, but they seem to have made him disappear from the historical perspective of voters.

I found this at http://polentical.com/2012/09/04/quote-of-the-day-bill-maher-on-the-republicans-trying-to-shove-george-w-bush-down-the-memory-hole/

Neil Degrasse Tyson on Congress: “Where is the Rest of Life?”

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I’m not posting this to hate on lawyers, we need some lawyers in office, but I agree with him, where is everyone else?

 

Bill Maher: I Am So Unhappy With Obama ( New Rules )


Bill Maher: I Am So Unhappy With Obama ( New Rules ).

I know that Bill often offends a lot of people, but he does ask some great questions… In this case he asks conservatives what exactly they’re so mad about with Obama, considering that he is so unhappy with Obama… He can’t be that leftist having: ramped up the drug war, deported more illegal immigrants than any President before him, Wall Street was not only not punished but it was bailed out, we didn’t get universal health care, drone warfare, and there are plenty of other reasons why a liberal wouldn’t be happy with him… And I don’t know how true the chart below is, but he referenced it on his show.

(Scroll to the bottom for the text version of the New Rule)

Of course these numbers are only in comparison to what they each inherited, and while they each keep inheriting more even a smaller percentile can be a lot more money… Just to be fair I felt like I needed to say that. I don’t know how true this is, but it does come from the CBO, which isn’t known to be in the tank…

 

 

New Rule:

And finally, New Rule: Ted Nugent has to tell me what Obama has done that he’s so mad about so I have something to be happy about.   Now, I refer to the famous proclamation Mr. Nugent made last month, when he said that if Obama is re-elected, it would be such an unthinkable catastrophe that he, Ted, would “either be dead or in jail.” Or, as I call it, a “win-win.”   Now, Ted went on to say that Obama leads a – quote – “vile, evil, America-hating administration wiping its ass with the Constitution.” As opposed to Ted, who uses his hand.   Now, it somehow became an article of faith on the right that Obama is the most extreme president in American history. Although, when they say that, I think what they really mean is…he’s black.    But, let me give you some examples. Newt Gingrich called Obama “the most radical leftist president in history.” Senator Marco Rubio called him “the most divisive figure in American history.” Michele Bachmann said Obama is “the most radical president we have ever seen in the history of the country.” And when has Michele Bachmann ever been known to misjudge a man?    John Bolton said, “Obama just doesn’t care about national security.” Honestly, there are Mexican drug mules who don’t pull this much stuff out of their ass.    And, my question is, how can the same guy, Barack Obama, make these people feel that America has changed so completely, and yet make me feel like it’s barely changed at all? I travel all over this country doing stand-up, and since Obama has been president, what?! It’s still the exact same “Kentucky-fried country” it has always been!    I see it! People driving their cars to the mall, buying stupid shit, stuffing their faces, taking pictures. The only difference is, we bump into each other more, because now we’re all texting!    We haven’t lost our freedoms. I’m pretty sure the only things Obama has killed are Bin Laden and Donald Trump’s last shred of dignity. If Obama were as radical as they claim, here’s what he would have already done: pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us Medicare for all, ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Cheney over to The Hague. Here’s what Obama actually did. He cut taxes and spending. Look at this graph. [bar graph shown] These bars show the growth in federal spending for each president. Obama is at the bottom. Yes, the black man’s is the shortest.    He didn’t go on a spending spree. He didn’t break up the “too big to fail” banks. They’ve only gotten bigger and “fail-ier.”   That’s not what liberals wanted. That’s what conservatives wanted. At the 2008 convention, Sarah Palin chanted, “Drill, Baby, Drill.” Under Obama, there’s more drilling than ever. That’s not what environmentalists wanted. That’s what conservatives wanted. Obama spent most of last year conceding the Republican premise that government needed cutting. That’s not what progressives wanted. That’s what the Tea Party wanted. The Dow was at 7,949 when he took office. Now, it’s 12,000-and-over. Corporate profits are at their highest ever. If he’s a socialist, he’s a lousy one.    He could not be less threatening if he was walking home with Ice-T and Skittles.    So, the question remains, how can you guys be so unhappy with Obama when I’m so unhappy with Obama?!  You think you got coal in your stocking? I wanted single-payer healthcare, a carbon emissions bill, gun control and legalized pot. If you get to carry around all this outrage over me getting that shit, shouldn’t I have gotten it?!   So, just admit it. This isn’t about what Obama is. It’s about what you need him to be, because hating him is what gets you up in the morning. And, Ted, you don’t have to fear what happens if the Democrats are re-elected. Because they don’t have any ideas anyway.  I can understand your paranoia that they have a secret plan, because they sure as shit don’t have a public one.    Can anyone tell me what the Democrats want to do? The best I can come up with is, “Elect Us. We’re Lame, But the Other Guys Are Nuts.” -Bill Maher, May 25, 2012

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