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Category: Policy

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.

It’s Been 46 Years, And Things Will Never Be The Same.

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The Vietnam War is, and was a highly controversial war because for the first time United States citizens were exposed to real images that of what it actually looked like to kill someone in war – and some of those images were of women, children, and the elderly. 46 years ago this week there was in extraordinary event by civilian standards, that would change the world and how wars would be faught from thence forth… After Americans, and citizens of the world saw these images the public opinion of the war shifted enormously, and the people like George Romney who had to disappear for changing their minds about the war would be somewhat vindicated, but their lives and careers would never be the same. Here is a video of that life/career changing decision to speak against what he’d seen in the war:

*This post is not meant to say that we were then, or are the “bad guys”, that is just not the case. However, it is meant to serve as a reminder, or informer that it’s not so simple. When we talk about going to war we need to look it in the face. I believe in our service members, and I believe in so much that they do. That doesn’t mean however that we should let ourselves forget our place in this world, and the realities of war.

WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC

 

via Wikipedia

The Mỹ Lai Massacre (Vietnamese: thảm sát Mỹ Lai [tʰɐ̃ːm ʂɐ̌ːt mǐˀ lɐːj], [mǐˀlɐːj]  /ˌmiːˈlaɪ/, /ˌmiːˈleɪ/, or /ˌmaɪˈlaɪ/)[1] was the Vietnam War mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. It was committed by the U.S. Army soldiers from the Company C of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division. Victims included women, men, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated.[2][3] Twenty six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Second Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served only three and a half years under house arrest.
The massacre, which was later called “the most shocking episode of the Vietnam War”,[4] took place in two hamlets of Son My village in Sơn Tịnh District of Quảng Ngãi Province on the South Central Coast of the South China Sea, 100 miles south of Da Nang and several miles north of Quảng Ngãi city east of Highway 1.[5] These hamlets were marked on the U.S. Army topographic maps as My Lai and My Khe.[6] The U.S. military codeword for the alleged Viet Cong stronghold in that area was Pinkville,[7] and the carnage became known as the Pinkville Massacre first.[8][9] Next, when the U.S. Army started its investigation, the media changed it to the Massacre at Songmy.[10] Currently, the event is referred to as the My Lai Massacre in America and called the Son My Massacre in Vietnam.
The incident prompted global outrage when it became public knowledge in November 1969. The My Lai massacre increased to some extent[11] domestic opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War when the scope of killing and cover-up attempts were exposed. Initially, three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and rescue the hiding civilians were shunned, and even denounced as traitors by several U.S. Congressmen, including Mendel Rivers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Only thirty years later they were recognized and decorated, one posthumously, by the U.S. Army for shielding noncombatants from harm in a war zone.[12]

What Will We Say About President Obama’s Legacy in 20 Years?

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Pres. Obama’s future legacy continues to be hotly debated and estimated, as it has been over the last few years. Considering how the pages of his biography will read is a fascinating to me. His first big policy agenda was about Health in America. This healthcare policy has been debated, is being debated, it likely will be debated for a long time. What seems important to note however is that one way or another this will reflect in large part how he is to be remembered.

What seems to many to most likely to be the next major policy battle is immigration reform. I think it will be interesting to watch with both parties reshuffling amidst some rather chaotic times – primarily the Republicans however with the splintering factions in the party. It seems possible that The Republican Party might find a rebound from struggling lately by sponsoring and helping to pass some type of immigration reform, but I personally don’t see this as likely with this new generation of warlike primary season. I suspect that the Democrats will probably push to pass this legislation, and I would imagine it will be the second half major legislation of this president’s term. I would love to see the Republicans talk about governing on this, because they care about border security, and that’s okay. So this is just my guess, but I think this is what we’ll be talking about next.

With all of that said what I think is a fascinating topic for us to be completely skipping over his guns. With 90% of the population seemingly supporting legislation for universal background checks it was blocked by a a minority in congress. Now hear me out my conservative friends, just hear me out. While I think securing our borders is important last year we had net 0 (people) with illegal immigration… and we can talk about the effect of immigrants and society, but that is unless the debate the mass violence in this nation. People are the talking points about guns, it is very sensitive subject – well I know it is in Oklahoma at least… one thing that we must all recognize though is that we always brag about how great America is, but we are killing each other with guns more than any other nation in this world. We need to have a grown-up discussion about this, especially with their having been so many mass shootings in the last few years. It’s finally on our minds, these deaths happen all the time, but when it’s one there, anyone there, and three there, nobody cares… We need to have some serious discussions from serious people about what we can do as individuals to make a difference.

I don’t know that we should pass more gun laws, I think we probably should (although I don’t know what they are), but I don’t think we can sit here and do nothing. Maybe we should get some friendly feedback and ask others around the world why they think we have so much gun violence and they don’t. It’s what you would do if you thought you had something in your teeth, you’d ask a friend to give you some feedback really quick so you don’t look like an idiot. And of course more people are killed by other means than gun in very poverty-stricken parts of the world, so that seems probable to skew the data pool. We’re the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of mankind, but to the world it seems that with these challenging issues we can’t stop hitting ourselves in the face.

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One reason that the gun debate has become so divisive is the attachment to the racial divide. Some people consider it to be a conversation about race bating, but while I think that race is a part of the conversation it’s not about one race against the another, other than the blind eye that we seem to turn towards gun ravaged communities in the inner-city. There is no question that “black-on-black” gun violence is the most prevalent gun violence in our nation, but we have to ask the tough questions about how we can change our inner-cities. Even with marginal improvements in many areas of the country we are still the most violent gun nation in the world, at least on record… That just doesn’t seem acceptable to me. The main problem seems to lie with hand guns. So outside of outlawing them how can we make a dent in this situation where people can so secretively be armed with deadly force?

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The unbelievable decorum, and disrespect in the public square is really astonishing. Maybe take this opportunity to think of someone who you disagree with, and will probably never agree with on something and you let them know that you love them. You know why? You should do it because they probably mean it too when they express their beliefs, and that alone is worth something. They probably earnestly care about and fully believe in the things that they say, even if it seems ridiculous to you. Tell them why you think they’re wrong, and ask why they believe what they believe. If they freak out move on, at least you tried, but remember there were defensive because they care about something. Just let them know that you’re interested in why they believe what they believe. If you find that your discussion isn’t getting anywhere it’s okay to move on, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to get to know someone a little better. Plain and simple the sooner we start learning how to engage with others who have different beliefs the sooner we can stop being the guy sitting in the corner pulling our own hair out.

I don’t think that I’m superior because I’m an American, but I think we have a great country and we can set a good example for the rest of the world. The way that we shoot each other, and the way that we govern each other we have to ask what kind of an example we are setting for the other 95.5% of the world. Well whatever is written in the history books it will seemingly fall on the shoulders of President Obama in the minds of many, or at least that’s how it’s worked in our past. So hopefully: healthcare will become less expensive as we become healthier, will figure out how to start having the conversation about immigration reform as adults should, and we stop shooting one another. Of course there are many other things that are on the table, but the seem especially pertinent. I hope that our president end’s up with a positive legacy, because that means that we will have done well.

 

I’m including a great investigative report by VICE about guns in Chicago “Chiraq”.

Risk Pools: Why It’s Dangerous to Swim in the Shallow End

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With the government shutdown well underway, and the debt ceiling looming, seemingly many people are still very confused about the Affordable Care Act (Obama care), and it seems like a good time to address what the actual philosophical principles are that are being disagreed upon. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize amongst such bitter fighting that there are ideas.

This fight has essentially been over the the government mandating that people buy private insurance, which is a law and has been ruled constitutional so long as it is considered a tax. This mandate as a philosophical idea is supposed to manipulate risk pools. You see, we seem to live in a world where it is becoming essential for us to have insurance for everything, and I personally don’t love that, but it’s apparent. The basic reason for this in regards to health is that as a society we aren’t willing to watch those who run into health bouts lose everything for having misfortunes. This is insurance at its most basic elemental, as insurance is a risk buffer. It’s like gambling, sometimes people will make a bet and then they will actually make a bet against that bet (like bonds and derivatives on Wall Street) so that they can minimize their probability of something bad happening.

One key component about risk pools is that the larger they are the more stable they are likely to be. Imagine the difference between throwing a rock into a lake rather than a bathtub, the lake is just affected less on the whole. Now this is oversimplified, but it paints a picture that I believe is somewhat helpful to those trying to understand why anyone would want this system, or even a single payer system.

The Affordable Care Act demands that we get private insurance, and as I wrote about recently they will be subsidizing some plans to make them “more afforadable” and thus those who currently don’t pay for healthcare will pay something, not to mention they will have insurance policies and receive better care that will prevent them from getting super sick and becoming an expensive part of the risk pool… The subsidized policies will also enlarge the risk pools and voilà, that should make for a more competitive pricing system (as we all know we could use considering the price of healthcare). As far as I can tell these 2 things should help with the reduction in the price of healthcare, other than one external factor, which is that doctor’s offices will get more crowded with people who were mostly getting care at the emergency room, and with a higher level of Scarcity doctors will be seeking higher paying clients / costumers. And thus healthcare will either become much more expensive all together, or some doctors will lower their prices to be more competitive.

Now the last factor that I find rather interesting about the cost debate of the Affordable Care Act is the outlawing of preexisting conditions for insurance coverage. This may seem like it would guarantee a larger risk pool, but one with larger (riskier/more expensive) waves. the only problem with this idea is that preexisting conditions cause 1 of 2 probable outcomes: we as a society pick up their tab as they receive specific preventative treatment for their specific ailment (which we already do), or they receive more expensive emergency care and live with a lower health and quality of life (which also already happens, and we also already pay for). We already pay for those who can’t pay by way of the emergency room care. We won’t essentially be changing who we’re paying for, we will be changing what we pay for.

The question of whether or not these changes will be for the better I’m not certain that we know for sure. However, we have the most expensive healthcare in the world, and we are not the healthiest, and we’re not even close. All that to say it must be noted that we also have the most profit driven system in the world. People come from around the world to receive catastrophic and major health treatment, and we have a health system based on haves and have nots, and it’s probably rather important to figure out whether or not your comfortable with that reality. One part of that reality is that there are even selfish advantages to more people having health insurance, primarily that with larger more stable risk pools we might see our overpriced system trim down a little bit, which might greatly boost our economy, as inflationary medicine has been an overall drag on our economy. But, the question really is simply whether or not we believe that as a society a group effort can make things better in regards to our health.

Ground Zero: Syria – VICE (WARNING: Very Graphic)

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Feel free to skip ahead and not read all of my thoughts if you don’t have that much time, the video is way more important. But WARNING, it is very graphic.

I generally get really excited when I start hearing people, and seeing people talk about current events. However, this time around in regards to Syria it has kind of broken my heart. It’s rather bizarre to see what it takes to get people interested, however they are now interested and it’s time to pay attention.

I hate war. I really hate war. Having believed in God pretty much my entire life I always try to see other people as an extension of myself, and I don’t want them to die, especially in the midst of hatred and violence. Part of that frame of mind has led me to not get so hung up on land borders, or social groups. One of the biggest talking points on whether or not we should go into Syria has been whether or not it’s in our nation’s best interest. I think that this standard misses the mark by quite a bit. The standard should be “is their oppression, and do we have evidence that we can help?”. In the past when we have tried to help it seems that we have often ended with an enraged population, at home and abroad, that then blames us for all of their problems.

I don’t want the United States to be the police of the world, we don’t need to be in charge of being everyone’s moral authority. However, being supportive of those who are oppressed and being brutally murdered is not simply being the police of the world. For all those who want us to be an isolationist country the only way that I can find that to be a real noble cause is if they somehow think that by example or through accumulated resources we will someday be able to help others in need. Maybe this would be comparable to securing your own oxygen mask before you get the mask for the child next you on the airplane, I’ve used this example before. If being isolationist is only for our own benefit, then I hope all with that belief system never find themselves at the end of the barrel of a gun of an oppressor with only themselves to lend a hand.

Syria is different from Iraq in multiple ways: chemical weapons were used in Iraq 15 years before our war started there, chemical weapons are being used now in Syria. Of course there’s still the debate of justice and punishing those who have hurt others in the past, but we need to have a conversation about eminent threats to mankind right now. I don’t want to go to war, but if there are actions that we can take to help the people in this video I think they need to be strongly considered. Forget about the politics, rhetoric, teamsmanship, tribalism, I don’t care about that. These are people… If you don’t care about them something is wrong with you. And if in this discussion your primary goal is to find out who is wrong in America you’re missing the mark. Before you come to an absolute decision on what is right and wrong in this situation please research all of the options. I know this is an unattainable quest, as we don’t have all the information, and we won’t have all of it. But please don’t make up your mind so flippantly, we’re talking about our brothers and sisters in humanity.

I’ll finish with this, I am no military mastermind but I don’t think that we should put troops on the ground. It seems as if we aren’t going to anyways. I also don’t think that we should arm either side, and of course the only side here that we would arm potentially is the rebels, or the “Free Syrian Army”. When we’ve armed groups in the past it is come back to bite us, and even if they are on the side of lesser evil the rebels still have extremists, just look at the video of the guy eating the Syrian soldiers heart. I think that if we are going to do some isolated strikes on military bases that are attacking their people I might be open to that, but boy does that make me uneasy… What will the repercussions be? In our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes have multiplied Terrorist responses against our troops by 10 times… This doesn’t seem to be helping anybody. I understand that I can’t know the military strategy as it would be silly to make it public, but for me to support any action I would need to know that it is founded in some sort of a logical approach that will not hurt civilians, as they will turn against us, and actually prevent Assad from hurting his people as soon as possible.

WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC

“No End in Sight” A Serious Conversation About Iraq Amidst A Syrian Invasion (Full Film)

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No End in Sight” Iraq’s Descent Into Chaos – YouTube.

With all of the recent discussion about whether or not to invade Syria I thought that it was would be very helpful for people to watch a film such as this. Charles Ferguson is a fantastic documentarian, and this is probably his best one. It’s a detailed look at mistakes that he believes that we made in our war in Iraq. Those same mistakes could be repeated. I want to clarify that I support American troops, yet I hate war.

I am proud to be an American citizen. I love our unique culture. But just as it is easy to criticize someone in your family, and lose your mind if someone outside of your family were to criticize that family member, I feel incredibly compelled to say that I’m tired of us coming out as the bad guys when we try to help around the world, yet we have to admit our mistakes to one another. The War in Iraq was filled with mistakes… I am still open to hearing why I might be wrong about this, but so far that is what I think. The United States had over 3,000 soldiers die, in the nation of Iraq had somewhere in the range of 120,000 citizens die, which seems very under reported to me… Not to mention this was a very expensive experiment.

Considering the fact that this film is on YouTube it might not last forever, but if it stops working somebody just comment and I’ll find a new version hopefully… It is a very powerful film, and it was nominated for “best documentary” at the Oscars in 2008. This film was made while we were still occupying Iraq, so it is designed with that in mind (hence the name “No End in Sight”).

I know that this is very sensitive, but I think that considering the current state of things in Syria, and this year marking the 10 year anniversary of the invasion it seems like a good time to have a conversation, and honesty it is vital that our nations citizens agree with our wars… I am open to there having been positive effects of this war, but the more that I watch and the more that I read the less I can believe that this was a good idea. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think Assad is not an asshole, I do. I’m just very hesitant to allow our nation to continue to feed our military-industrial complex. I do however think that we should do something, I just don’t know what it is. With over 100,000 men women and children dead from a corrupt government something must be done, I just don’t want us to end up being the bad guys in the eyes of the world due to some kind of mismanagement again.

“No End in Sight” is a film about the missmanagement of the War in Iraq, but I am also posting below the new film “Hubris” (which seems a bit more politically slanted, but still worthwhile), and it is more so about the inception of the war, and tries to identify proclaimed ‘false pretenses’. It is important to point out differences between Iraq and Syria on this front, Iraq had used “weapons of mass distraction” 15 years prior to our invasion, while Syria has just recently used them. If you are only going to watch one of these films I definitely recommend “No End in Sight”, I think that it is one of the most important films I’ve ever seen. Please feel free to comment or share.

 

Speaking with OK Representative Tom Cole

Last night I had the pleasure to sit in at the Town Hall meeting for United States congressman Tom Cole. I already had a rather favorable opinion of Mr. Cole, but last night reaffirmed the necessity of people like him in congress for me. Mr. Cole is a Republican, and I generally have trouble with the politics of the Republican Party of today… The moderation and willing participants of the party have become fewer and fewer. If Congressman Cole had been speaking in Boston I’m sure that they would consider him to be a complete hardline conservative, but those same people would not understand the culture in which Mr. Cole is a representative.

At the town hall there was probably about 30 to 40 % of the room that was made of of Tea Partiers who considered Mr. Cole to be a “socialist”, and I’m not being inflammatory, they were yelling this at him… Representative Cole happens to be regarded by many conservative organizations as highly conservative, and rightfully so. He resembles the Republican Party of 20 and 30 years ago that would not fit in today in the conservative caucus – people like Steve Largent, J.C. Watts, Bob Dole, and many more who do not look like today’s rhetorical hail storm.

Whether you live in Norman, Oklahoma or not I ask that you look for town halls for your representative, and go speak to them, and see who else speaks to them. There is a lot of disrespect, and a lot of anger. If you don’t think that the congress is sane (and I have major problems with our congress) just go see who they have to deal with when they come home… You might rethink the individuals and the system a little bit.

Well to wrap it up, I had an opportunity to speak with the congressman about joining up with the group No Labels, for whom I worked a few years ago. This group, as of today, has 82 members of the house and senate virtually equal from the parties, who are signed up to a commitment to make our government work for the people. It’s a seemingly easy promise to make, but it could be the first step in the process to ending this gridlock, or at least I believe so.

Don’t forget to look up the town halls in your area, and to reach out to your congressmen and women about representing you.

*These pictures were taken this April when I was visiting D.C. and had a chance to revisit the No Labels back office for the first time in 2 and a half years.

Just stopped by the @NoLabelsOrg back office to see old friends. Love the people, and the ideas. #FixNotFight

A post shared by Grady Carter (@gradycarter) on

Detroit is Going Bankrupt: Thanks Obama! No Seriously, The Auto-Bailout Was Still Necessary

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I have been seeing a lot of headlines like this. However, it over simplifies this issue for political purposes. President Obama said for a long time that he wouldn’t let Detroit go bankrupt, and they are going bankrupt. Obviously his words can be used against him for political reasons. His statements however were in regards to the life blood I Detroit, the car companies, staying afloat through a bailout, and presumably keeping the city afloat. Well, in this newer age of companies and few individuals prospering enormously, and most other stagnating or backsliding this was too hopeful of a statement for the President to make.

With that being said the alternative was not thought to highly of by most any expert in relation to this obstacle course. The alternative being the proposed approach by Republican Presidential hopeful Gov. Mitt Romney; who said that there should be no bailout. Since there was no private funding being offered without a government guarantee of a bailout this was simply not an option. The structured bankruptcy was the route that was eventually taken, but the private funds that were necessary only came once the bailout was eminent.

And with Detroit announcing a bankruptcy let’s not forget that we are talking about a municipal bankruptcy, not a cooperate bankruptcy.

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I have seen a lot of people post about this on my social networks since the announcement of the bankruptcy. Many of them are people who I love and respect a lot, but that doesn’t mean that this is being fairly portrayed.

Here is one of my beloved friend’s status updates, and my response.

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Yes. But this is more complicated than that. It’s first about trying to compare what has happened to what might have happened (and of course recognizing that what Romney was suggesting was just not going to happen – he wanted to save the car companies through private investment, and nobody wanted to be investors without some government support, just the truth).

Also, this is about a municipal bankruptcy, not the corporations being bankrupt, as they are not. You are comparing the wrong things, but there is a comparison to be made between enormous companies succeeding while society and communities are failing around them. Part of that is efficiency in the businesses, and part of it is businesses not living by the same rules.

If you are still trying to defend Romney’s approach to the car companies this isn’t necessarily indicative of anything, but there is plenty to talk about in regards to why this is happening, it is a really sad and complex story.

If you think I’m speaking misguidedly please help me understand. Where am I getting this wrong?

Detroit is Going Bankrupt: Thanks Obama! No Seriously, The Auto-Bailout Was Still Necessary

20130719-115103.jpg

I have been seeing a lot of headlines like this. However, it over simplifies this issue for political purposes. President Obama said for a long time that he wouldn’t let Detroit go bankrupt, and they are going bankrupt. Obviously his words can be used against him for political reasons. His statements however were in regards to the life blood I Detroit, the car companies, staying afloat through a bailout, and presumably keeping the city afloat. Well, in this newer age of companies and few individuals prospering enormously, and most other stagnating or backsliding this was too hopeful of a statement for the President to make.

With that being said the alternative was not thought to highly of by most any expert in relation to this obstacle course. The alternative being the proposed approach by Republican Presidential hopeful Gov. Mitt Romney; who said that there should be no bailout. Since there was no private funding being offered without a government guarantee of a bailout this was simply not an option. The structured bankruptcy was the route that was eventually taken, but the private funds that were necessary only came once the bailout was eminent.

And with Detroit announcing a bankruptcy let’s not forget that we are talking about a municipal bankruptcy, not a cooperate bankruptcy.

20130719-115124.jpg

I have seen a lot of people post about this on my social networks since the announcement of the bankruptcy. Many of them are people who I love and respect a lot, but that doesn’t mean that this is being fairly portrayed.

Here is one of my beloved friend’s status updates, and my response.

20130719-115941.jpg

Yes. But this is more complicated than that. It’s first about trying to compare what has happened to what might have happened (and of course recognizing that what Romney was suggesting was just not going to happen – he wanted to save the car companies through private investment, and nobody wanted to be investors without some government support, just the truth).

Also, this is about a municipal bankruptcy, not the corporations being bankrupt, as they are not. You are comparing the wrong things, but there is a comparison to be made between enormous companies succeeding while society and communities are failing around them. Part of that is efficiency in the businesses, and part of it is businesses not living by the same rules.

If you are still trying to defend Romney’s approach to the car companies this isn’t necessarily indicative of anything, but there is plenty to talk about in regards to why this is happening, it is a really sad and complex story.

If you think I’m speaking misguidedly please help me understand. Where am I getting this wrong?

“When Did It Become Unconstitutional to Exclude Homosexual Couples From Marriage?” – “May I Answer This in the Form of a Rhetorical Question?”

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Click on this image to see a post about why it might not be such a bad idea to allow gay parents to marry.

 

With the rulings of both Proposition 8 and DOMA in front of the Supreme Court going in favor of gay marriage equality I have found myself reflecting on the debate as I’ve remembered it over the last few months and years. I personally wish that my home state of Oklahoma would come out of left field and ‘stick it to the federal government’ by legalizing same sex marriage, as a way to say that the government needs to stay out of people’s business and allow them as much freedom as possible, and as a channel to capitalize on the economic benefits that would surely come from being the only state in the area to take such an action. I mean, it is a very pro business state…

On March 26, 2013 during an Oral Argument in Hollingsworth vs. Perry (the supreme court case about the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage in California) Justice Antonin Scalia made a statement that I have heard repeated multiple times by conservative pundits as the big ‘zinger’ in this hearing season on this issue. They seem to repeatedly forget to mention the response that immediately followed Justice Scalia’s comment. The exchange went like this:

 

JUSTICE SCALIA: I’m curious, when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted? Sometimes after Baker, where we said it didn’t even raise a substantial Federal question? When did the law become this?

MR. OLSON: When – may I answer this in the form of a rhetorical question? When did it become unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriages? When did it become unconstitutional to assign children to separate schools?

 

What Mr. Olson was referring to in the case of interracial marriage was the case of Loving vs Virginia, which there has been much news and media about since ever since it happened in 1967. I would imagine that the stories that we will be hearing over the next few days, weeks, and years might look something like this to our children and grandchildren. Ultimately whether it feels like it or not this seems to be the civil rights/liberties issue of our time, so think long and hard about what it means to you to desire a discriminatory government.

 

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