Got Bias? Does Bill Moyers ?


I’m having a great discussion with my good pal Keith about whether Bill Moyers is “biased”.   I think Bill Moyers has become an authoritative and articulate spokesperson for the mainstream American left.   To me, that is almost the definition of bias.   I like Moyers and agree with him on many topics  (see below) but I don’t like his virulently anti-corporate & anti-republican stridency.

Wild speculation Dept:   I think Moyers’ stridency is largely an overreaction to the guilt he feels about his prominent role during the Johnson Administration as Press Secretary. There, he helped with deceptions and promotion of the many illegal US activities in Vietnam.   Ironically I think I’d  cut him a lot more slack on this than he  would now that I’ve come to realize how well regarded the USA was by most of the Vietnamese people.

What do YOU think?  What is media bias?   Glenn Beck’s and Rush Limbaugh commentary is clearly a great example of right wing bias – could anybody disagree with that?

In my view, Wikipedia is often an excellent example of media approaching an *unbiased* standard.  Typically WikiP presents a lot of facts and then a very balanced discussion of the opinions about a thing or a person.   For contentious issues (e.g. Israel stuff) they often close the page to freewheeling edits but then provide a forum for people to rant or disagree, but that’s separated from the more reasoned analysis of the pages.

Here’s an excellent bio and, IMHO, a very good example of an unbiased discussion of Mr. Bill.    Wikipedia.org on Bill_Moyers

To me the article strongly supports the notion that he’s an authoritative and articulate spokesperson for the mainstream American left.   How can this not be called …  bias?   I’d agree Moyers’ views are not born of ignorant opportunistic nonsense like, say, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck’s views, but like those ignorant dudes Moyers also has strongly held opinions that seriously color his perceptions of many issues.

How does religion affect one’s world view?   My jury is still out on how much religious beliefs will color somebody’s reporting and commentary.   For a “progressive Christian” like Moyers  the world’s going to be seen very differently than for a Muslim, Buddhist, or Jew.    Is this bias and if so how does it influence reporting and commentary?

Help me out here – give examples of some biased *left wing* US commentary and why you think it’s biased.   How are you calibrating “American left and right”?

Surely we should not suggest that bias relates to agreement with OUR OWN ideas?   Don’t call me Shirley!

I would strongly agree with Bill Moyers on many topics – support for gay marriage, on promoting health and education internationally, on a progressive foreign policy, and many other things, but I share his “left bias” on those topics even as I don’t share it on economic topics.

But to me this political and economic view convergence/divergence is completely SEPARATE from the issue of bias!    I think I like the idea of folks reporting their political stances and then working to report as best as they can rather than trying to maintain the pretense of “no bias at all”.

I actually cite most of the reporting of big outlets as examples of fairly politically unbiased media reporting, though story selection leans to the superficial in all cases.

Biased outlets where there are political content constraints from above – FOX and Al Jazeera come to mind – are still pretty good on most topics.  Clearly they show some bias by *omission* of important stories.  On Fox we won’t see much favorable coverage of President Obama and on Al Jazeera we won’t tend to see a lot of negative discussion about theocracies and sharia law and abuses of power and wealth by those in power.

Fox is, to me, the definitively biased source but this is mostly in terms of the nonsense commentary from their foolish pundits like Sean Hannity.  Much of the news coverage by Anchors like Shepard Smith is actually fine in terms of reporting the facts on the ground without much political spin.

Standouts to me as “fairly non biased” reporting:
Most BBC non-UK coverage. In general the BBC seems remarkably unbiased to my way of thinking .
Charlie Rose (PBS and CBS)

Jim Lehrer (PBS)

Ray Suarez (PBS – I think he’s one of the best in the world at concealing his opinions).

FYI a huge standouts as “biased left” even as she’s one of my favorite pundits because she’s so sharp and funny is Rachel Maddow (MSNBC).

“Clearly biased right” would be Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity.
Mainstream Anchors like Brian O’Neil, Katic Couric, Anderson Cooper, etc, etc?   I don’t really like most of their reporting because I feel it’s very superficial both in coverage and topics, but I’d call them pretty politically balanced, though with the likely left of center sensibilities that are found by most studies of journalist’s political leanings.
Now,  I do maintain there is a lot of “bias” in almost all media towards “superficial but interesting” topics over “substantive” topics.
The really big global stories of our time relate to food, TB, malaria, intestinal parasites, literacy, oral rehydration therapy, etc, etc.  People grow tired of those stories quickly and won’t tolerate “too much” of that, so we get Lindsay Lohan and Obama’s Turkey Pardon.
Ommission of the simple solutions to major global suffering  is the most insidious form of bias and it infects pretty much all the news, but it’s not a conspiracy to keep the downtrodden down trodden.   We are programmed to pay more attention to stupid pet tricks and ignore distant suffering.

Obama’s Birth Certificate. Official Copy. Long Form. CASE CLOSED!


Another curious episode in the history of the democratic party  comes to a close today as Barack Obama released a photograph of the long form official vault copy of  his birth certificate.  Signed by all the responsible parties needed in Hawaii to verify an official live birth of a US citizen, this should seal the presidential deal for all but the kookiest of the kooks who have pursued this silly angle for years.    Although it is odd to me that it took so long to release this innocuous copy, I now assume the team was strategically holding back  in the hopes of derailing some candidates, collecting foolish quotes about Obama’s legitimacy, etc.   One would have expected them to wait a bit longer but the issue had gained so much traction perhaps they felt more harm was coming than they’d expected.

In any case, here it is:

Only the pathetically  gullible and/or irrational will dispute this any longer.   Unfortunately that includes …. more of us than anybody would like to admit.       Tribal thinking rules now across the USA and across the globe.   People believe what they are told to believe by fellow tribe members without bothering to think for themselves.  Conclusions define the facts for them.   It’s become unusual – even among many in the science commmunity – to apply the scientific and rational approach where facts define the conclusion.    Advocacy and activism have almost completely replaced reason, and things are not going to change anytime soon.

I blame the 60s.

Obama Tucson Memorial Speech Transcript


(As Prepared for Delivery)
To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona:  I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
 

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts.  But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight.  We mourn with you for the fallen.  We join you in your grief.  And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.

As Scripture tells us:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech.  They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders – representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation’s capital.  Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” – just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.

That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman’s bullets.  And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday – they too represented what is best in America.

Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years.  A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona’s chief federal judge.  His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit.  He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative.  John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.

George and Dorothy Morris – “Dot” to her friends – were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters.  They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon.  Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say.  When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife.  Both were shot.  Dot passed away.

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter.  A gifted quilter, she’d often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered.  A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together – about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy’s daughters put it, “be boyfriend and girlfriend again.” When they weren’t out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ.  A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux.  His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.

Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion – but his true passion was people.  As Gabby’s outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks.  He died doing what he loved – talking with people and seeing how he could help.  Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green.  Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer.  She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her.  She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, “We are so blessed.  We have the best life.”  And she’d pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing.  Our hearts are broken – and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.

Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday.  I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak.  And I can tell you this – she knows we’re here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.

And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others.  We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive.  We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload.  We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives.  And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt.

These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle.  They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength.  Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning.

Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us.  It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward.  How can we honor the fallen?  How can we be true to their memory?


You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless.  Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems.  Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.


But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.


Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding.  In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.”  Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.


For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack.  None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.


So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy.  We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.


But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another.  As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility.  Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.


After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose someone in our family – especially if the loss is unexpected.  We’re shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward.  We reflect on the past.   Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder.  Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us?  Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?


So sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.  We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives.  Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order.  We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.


That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.  For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong.  We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them.  In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners.  Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son.  In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law.  In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.


And in Christina we see all of our children.  So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.


So deserving of our love.


And so deserving of our good example.  If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.  Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.


The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents.  And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.  It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.


I believe we can be better.  Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe.  We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.  I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.


That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.  Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future.  She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful.  She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model.  She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.


I want us to live up to her expectations.  I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.  All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.


Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.”  On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life.  “I hope you help those in need,” read one.  “I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart.  I hope you jump in rain puddles.”


If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.  And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.


May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace.  May He love and watch over the survivors.  And may He bless the United States of America.

——————–

 

Dear President Obama …


Dear Mr. President, here’s the deal as I see it:  Most of the country – and I know I –  voted for you to *change* the course from an America that was too fueled by anger and intolerance and too little support for the disadvantaged.

We knew you’d bring a great deal of intelligence and leadership within the context of the country we all think is a great and powerful experiment in economics, freedom, and well-being for those of us fortunate enough to live here.

However most of us really did NOT want to bring in even more big government and “overly sensitive” left wing sensibilities.   We hoped you’d stem the tide of polarization and bureaucratic nonsense that has plagued the congress for some time.   For the most part we did not support the agendas of the new congress which was too reckless with our tax dollars and too quick to bring changes that would have unintended consequences.

That’s why folks are now voting in the Republicans – not so much because they think they have better answers, but to say “stop” to the current set of reckless congressional pork barrel politics.

The moral of the story?  One of the parties needs to get smarter, which means to adopt the basic founding principles (SMALL Military, SMALL Government, BIG Freedoms)  that fueled the economic and intellectual and cultural powerhouse we call the USA.

Founding  principles does NOT mean the agenda of the Tea Party, plagued by silly cultural conservatism, too many irrational thinkers, and an aversion to “true” conservative values like cutting military spending and common sense control of guns.   True conservatism (which we’ll all need very soon or we’ll break the bank)  will mean major cuts in both entitlements and defense.    And by “major cuts” I don’t mean the pussy footing drops in the bucket both Democrats and Republicans are proposing – I mean 20-30% across the board.    Ironically if the government cut spending people would NOT expect their taxes to be cut immediately.   Most of us understand the economic mess will take years to unwind, but we want government to be a lot smarter and a lot leaner … now.

A high percentage of  social service spending isn’t needed at all, and smarter defense policies that substitute infrastructure aid, cultural sophistication, and clever international marketing could save hundreds of billions annually.

Do that, and you’ll see support flow back to you faster than any of us can say   “CHANGE”.

President Obama’s Cairo Speech Transcript


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Cairo, Egypt)
________________________________________________________________________
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON A NEW BEGINNING
Cairo University
Cairo, Egypt
June 4, 2009
1:10 P.M. (Local)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I am honored
to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For
over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a
century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. And together, you
represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I’m grateful for your hospitality,
and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I’m also proud to carry with me the
goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in
my country: Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)

We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the
world — tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The
relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and
cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by
colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in
which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their
own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization
led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of
Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these
extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view
Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human
rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who
sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that
can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and
discord must end.

I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims
around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon
the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.
Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress;
tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there’s been a lot of
publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I
answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to
this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each
other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed
doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other;
to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be
conscious of God and speak always the truth.” (Applause.) That is what I will try to do
today — to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my
belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces
that drive us apart.

Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I’m a Christian, but my
father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I
spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and
at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many
found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places
like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the
way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim
communities — (applause) — it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the
order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and
printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic
culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished
music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout
history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious
tolerance and racial equality. (Applause.)

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to
recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second
President, John Adams, wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity
against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American
Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have
served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses,
they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won
Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first
Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our
Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers — Thomas
Jefferson — kept in his personal library. (Applause.)

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first
revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and
Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my
responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of
Islam wherever they appear. (Applause.)
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. (Applause.) Just
as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a selfinterested
empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that
the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were
founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled
for centuries to give meaning to those words — within our borders, and around the world.
We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a
simple concept: E pluribus unum — “Out of many, one.”

Now, much has been made of the fact that an African American with the name Barack
Hussein Obama could be elected President. (Applause.) But my personal story is not so
unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in
America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores — and that includes nearly
7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and
educational levels that are higher than the American average. (Applause.)
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion.
That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within
our borders. That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the
right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.
(Applause.)

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds
within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share
common aspirations — to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with
dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share.
This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words
alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly
in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our
failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one
country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are
at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all
nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are
endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that
is a stain on our collective conscience. (Applause.) That is what it means to share this
world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human
beings.

And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a
record of nations and tribes — and, yes, religions — subjugating one another in pursuit of
their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our
interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over
another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners
to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.
(Applause.)

Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the
opposite: We must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as
clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally
confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam.
(Applause.) We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave
threat to our security — because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject:
the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to
protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work
together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with
broad international support. We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I’m
aware that there’s still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. But
let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were
innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done
nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people,
claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive
scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These
are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Now, make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We see no
military — we seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young
men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would
gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were
not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many
Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

And that’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs
involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate
these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of
different faiths — but more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are
irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam.
The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as — it is as if he has killed all
mankind. (Applause.) And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if
he has saved all mankind. (Applause.) The enduring faith of over a billion people is so
much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in
combating violent extremism — it is an important part of promoting peace.

Now, we also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in
Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the
next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and
businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who’ve been displaced. That’s why we
are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver
services that people depend on.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that
provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that
the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also
believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build
international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (Applause.) Indeed,
we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will
grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future — and to
leave Iraq to Iraqis. And I have made it clear to the Iraqi people — (applause) — I have
made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory
or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. And that’s why I ordered the removal of our
combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s
democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July,
and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012. (Applause.) We will help Iraq train
its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq
as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never
alter or forget our principles. Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The
fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act
contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change
course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I
have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. (Applause.)
So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law.
And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened.
The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the
sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between
Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based
upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish
homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in
Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald,
which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and
gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed — more than the entire
Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is
hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews —
is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of
memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and
Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve
endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza,
and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to
lead. They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation.
So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And
America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity,
opportunity, and a state of their own. (Applause.)

For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations,
each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It’s easy to point fingers —
for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for
Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its
borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other,
then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides
to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and
security. (Applause.)

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest.
And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and
dedication that the task requires. (Applause.) The obligations — the obligations that the
parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for
them — and all of us — to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong
and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the
whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full
and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center
of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to
South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that
violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at
sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is
claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian
Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its
people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to
recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to
unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past
agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be
denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of
continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous
agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to
stop. (Applause.)

And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work
and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing
humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing
lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people
must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable
such progress.

And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an
important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict
should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.
Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the
institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and to choose
progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public
what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. (Applause.) We cannot
impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.
Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act
on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a
responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see
their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the
place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home
for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to
mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra — (applause) — as in the story of Isra,
when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of
nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic
Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my
country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold
War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian
government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostagetaking
and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather
than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my
country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but
rather what future it wants to build.

I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with
courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two
countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of
mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons,
we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It’s about
preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the
world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No
single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that’s
why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations
hold nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And any nation — including Iran — should have the
right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it
must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I’m hopeful that all countries in the region
can share in this goal.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. (Applause.)
I know — I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent
years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear:
No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the
people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions
of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as
we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an
unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind
and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal
administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the
people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are
human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)

Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear:
Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure.
Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of
all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree
with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments — provided they
govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only
when they’re out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of
others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by
the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your
power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and
participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your
people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without
these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address
together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and
Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout
Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we
need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based
upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for
religion to thrive, but it’s being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the
rejection of somebody else’s faith. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld —
whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. (Applause.) And if we are
being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims, as well, as the divisions
between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always
examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on
charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation.
That’s why I’m committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can
fulfill zakat.

Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from
practicing religion as they see fit — for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim
woman should wear. We can’t disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence
of liberalism.

In fact, faith should bring us together. And that’s why we’re forging service projects in
America to bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That’s why we welcome
efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in
the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith
service, so bridges between peoples lead to action — whether it is combating malaria in
Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.
The sixth issue — the sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights. (Applause.) I
know –- I know — and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about
this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her
hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is
denied equality. (Applause.) And it is no coincidence that countries where women are
well educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now, let me be clear: Issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for
Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we’ve seen Muslim-majority
countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues
in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons.
(Applause.) Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity — men
and women — to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the
same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live
their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. And that is why the United
States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for
girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps
people live their dreams. (Applause.)

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and
television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and
mindless violence into the home. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also
huge disruptions and change in communities. In all nations — including America — this
change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we lose control over our economic
choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities — those things we most cherish
about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions
between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their
economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the
astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In
ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of
innovation and education.

And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what
comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work.
Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are
beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that
education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century — (applause) — and in
too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I’m
emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America in the past has
focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader
engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one
that brought my father to America. (Applause.) At the same time, we will encourage
more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim
students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children
around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can
communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner
with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on
Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders,
foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities
around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological
development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace
so they can create more jobs. We’ll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the
Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on
programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean
water, grow new crops. Today I’m announcing a new global effort with the Organization
of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with
Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens
and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim
communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility
to join together on behalf of the world that we seek — a world where extremists no longer
threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and
Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for
peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all
God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But
we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many — Muslim and non-Muslim — who question whether we can forge
this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the
way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort — that we are fated to
disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real
change can occur. There’s so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the
years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I
want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country — you, more
than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we
spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an
effort — a sustained effort — to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for
our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It’s easier to start wars than to end them. It’s easier to blame others than to look inward.
It’s easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we
should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There’s one rule that lies at the heart
of every religion — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
(Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples — a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t
black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in
the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It’s
a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a
new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us: “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we
have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”
The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”
The Holy Bible tells us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of
God.” (Applause.)

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now
that must be our work here on Earth.
Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
(Applause.)

David Brooks on Different Economic Points of View


David Brooks of the New York Times is one of my very  favorite thinkers – he’s a calm and intellectual conservative who manages to maintain a great deal of respect for the reality of the sweeping political changes before us, but Brooks is wisely very cautious about the many pitfalls that come with the overwhelming power Americans have granted to the President Obama and the Democratic Party.

In my view Brooks, unlike “conservative” blowhards and political/media buffoons like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Sean Hannity,  articulates the kind of vision the founders of our American experiment would have appreciated very much.     They understood how important it was to debate, discuss, consider and reconsider and then use democracy within a constitutional framework as the key tool to resolve disputes.

On Charlie Rose Brooks made a several of observations I thought were really, really interesting.    The first is that Obama  – so sharp and confident as President and chief  manager – is at risk for overextending himself based on that level of self-confidence.   Brooks seemed to suggest (and I’d certainly agree) that this overconfidence is reflected in the governmental and budget optimism that is used to support what I’d call our massively irresponsible spending plans for the post-recession economy.    Almost every economist and politician now agrees that a large deficit is appropriate for a few years in an effort to stimulate the global economy, but there are huge differences of opinion about what to do after that stimulus … stimulates.

To me the answer is probably that we should return as soon as possible to the free marketeering mechanisms that got us to the incredible levels of prosperity we now enjoy, and should seek to reduce government … dramatically.    However this “small government” view has become so unpopular now that I’m going to avoid the stress and just sit back and watch as the huge government view now so prevalent is tested on the grandest scale in all of human history.     I still think we are pushing debts forward at massively unsustainable levels, but luckily we should have a good sense of how unsustainable within a few years as the projected benefits of massive spending fail to materialize.

Another point Brooks made was that Obama’s vision is that of a technocratic and effective government, bringing resources and people to bear on the host of regulatory, security, military, and economic problems Obama inherited from the past.    Brooks agrees that unbridled Capitalism needs to be kept in check but worries about the government as the mechanism for that balance.       Brooks prefers the ideas of UK Moderate Conservative party leader David Cameron who he suggested is trying to embed the necessary checks on capitalism’s potential for excess in non-governmental institutions such as competing sectors of the market, family, and community.

This “small governments, empowered communities” idea  is very provocative and I’d guess very much in line with what the founders would have liked to see, though I think it will take some time to catch on as we’ve spawned a generation of voters who will simply assume that massive government is the status quo.

Capitalism did what  it does so well and said  “damn the torpedos full speed ahead”.     From 1945 until 2008 the global economy dodged most of those torpedos and many – especially in the USA and Europe but also much of the developing world – enjoyed levels of prosperity unparalleled in all of human history.      In 2008 the global economy suffered direct hits from a *lot* of the torpedos we’d been dodging so well.      Governments failed to see them coming and I doubt they’ll succeed in restoring prosperity without torpedos (I’d argue that’s not even possible – the risks *created* much of all those rewards), but we’ll know soon enough.

In the meantime when you tuck your children into bed be sure to tell them “thank you”.   “Thank you for taking on our families share of the USA debt of $473,000 … while you slept” . Source for 473,000 is USA Today.

David Brooks on Charlie Rose:
http://www.charlierose.com/view/content/9335