The Root of the Social Decay Problem | The Real Ratigan

People like to talk about the murder rate in Chicago. They like to talk about the volatility in the Middle East. They like to talk about the failures of our educational system. They like to protest our government and demand response from the mayors office. But until we understand that things like the murder…

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Unmanned Technology Does Not Belong in Modern Warfare | The Real Ratigan

If war is hell, war perpetrated by robots on remote is hell on steroids. If we cant take a lesson from what happened with the United States using a digital infrastructure when we could not see the building to bomb for an hour a hospital in a foreign country and reconsider our use of…

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Journalist shares tips on surviving in a war zone

Al-Jazeera producer Rosie Garthwaite explains the conditions U.S. troops on the frontlines in Afghanistan are facing.

Science vs. Spirituality

Dr. Deepak Chopra shares his thoughts on human behavior and other topics.

The Real Cost of Oil

Ashwin Madia of VoteVets.org explains how the wars over oil and “strategic interests” in the Middle East are having a negative effect on U.S. soldiers.

 

MSNBC TRANSCRIPT:

>>> as we look at these wars over oil and the strategic interest of the middle east costing us a lot more than money, thousands of american lives have been lost in the process, tens of thousands have been damaged in the process. 4400 dead in iraq, over 1500 dead in afghanistan. many more have been left wounded. nearly 32,000 in iraq, approaching 11,000 in afghanistan. and there are disastrous invisible wounds, psychological scars that are left by the trauma of war. as we use modern technology, airplanes, to bring people from the heart of a war zone to places like fisherman’s wharf or the mall in washington, d.c., and expect them not to suffer the incredible psychological pressures and damage that comes with releasing a soldier into a battlefield, encouraging him or her to behave in a way that requires a level of aggression that none of us can really comprehend, only to bring them back into our own nation with lgt or no adaptive or compassion compassionate care. here with us is the interim chairman at vets.org an organization that advocates for energy independence in america as a way to protect america’s soldiers. what is the soldiers’ view in your mind of their role relative to the strategic importance of oil. when you’re over there, are you over there in your mind for liberty, for freedom or for oil?

>> well, i think that, you know, for the opinion of the troops on the ground, i’d say the opinion is as gediverse as it is in our country. i think there’s some recognition that in some ways we’re funding both sides of the war on terror.

>> mr. woolsey just said that.

>> exactly. if you look at afghanistan and the taliban, al qaeda, i think it’s undeniable much of their funding has been coming from wealthy saudis who made a lot of their money selling the united states oil. and because of that, it’s literally insanity what we’re doing. we’re sending our own troops in to fight against weapons that have been purchased with money that we provided.

>> that’s insane. james woolsey declared it insane, any human being, boone will tell you that’s insane, the environmentalists will tell you that’s insane. at the same time, it has and continues to persist. what do you see as the barrier to mustering the will to change this?

>> well, a couple things. one, i think mr. pickens is doing the right thing by showing people you can make a profit off doing this. i think once americans are convinced that there’s money to be made in this, then we can generate some of the political will. but the other thing i’d say that goes more to the troops and that aspect of it is generating a sense of patriotism amongst people and convincing people that it’s patriotic to get off our dependence on foreign oil. one of the things john edwards said during his presidential campaign, no matter what you think of him now, i don’t think it takes away from the sentiment, which is we need leadership that will inspire people to be patriotic about something other than war. you know, we do a very good job in this country of saying we support the troops and sending care packages and putting ribbons on the trees and bumper stickers on the cars, but we need to explain to people that patriotism also means sacrificing something for the country we love. if we really care about these troops, we wouldn’t put them in harm’s way because of our dependence on foreign oil, particularly when we have the technology to make changes about that right now.

>> i could not agree with that more and that’s why i have people say why do you call boone pickens a patriot. i say because boone pickens is attempting to help us shatter the strategic importance of oil and at the same time protect our soldiers and express our patriotism through the seizure of our own independence as opposed to through the support of foreign war.

>> that’s exactly right. what i would say is if we can ask 18 and 19-year-old american kids to give their arms and their legs and sometimes their lives for this country, then we over here can certainly make our cars more efficient or weatherize our homes or demand an energy strategy from our leaders that will wean us off our dependence on oil. i think that’s the very least we can do. i think if it’s framed in those terms to the american people, i think that they would absolutely willingly, happily be glad to contribute. ike the american people are searching for a way to contribute all this. i think it’s frustrating for a way for a lot of people to feel so removed and the troops are so removed and they’re bearing all the brunt of this war on terror and we can’t do anything over here for. i think we just need leadership to inspire us that way and explain it to us.

>> we need bumper stickers that say fight a terrorist, turn off the lights.

>> exactly.

>> it’s a pleasure.

>> thank you so much.

Getting out of Afghanistan

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and author David Cortwright discuss President Barack Obama’s exit strategy from war-torn Afghanistan.

Fix America? Fix the Politicians

Today we ended Fix It week on my show, although we hope to keep this recurring theme. But the largest hindrance to solutions for all of the problems we’ve discussed — be it the Deficit, Energy, Education or the Wars — goes back to one place: the current political process in our country.

We practically all share the same list of problems, regardless of ideology: The undue influence of moneyed interest, the focus on inane culture wars instead of proper governance, the low quality of our politicians coupled with their high incumbency rates, the lack of ethics, disclosure etc. The only question left is how to fix them and then, how do we muster the will?

These are the questions I addressed for my entire show today — and just to get the ball rolling, here are four of my favorite solutions:
1. One for me, one for you

I don’t have to explain to anyone why we need to fix the campaign finance system. The question is how do we do it fairly. Publicly financed campaigns are one solution, but they seem to go against our very nature as Americans. After all, who wants to be forced into having their tax money going to politicians they don’t like? Meanwhile, infringing on the amounts people can donate gives an advantage to wealthy candidates. But I think there is pretty easy solution to this:

I propose that we make a law that charges a 100% fee on all political spending, with the that fee going into a public campaign financing fund that is given solely to candidates with low campaign coffers on a per petition signature basis. This means that if a well-moneyed candidate like Barack Obama wants to spend $740 million of campaign donations, $370 million of that can go to his campaign and the other half to a public campaign fund.

Even better, if a wealthy person like Michael Bloomberg wants to spend $108 million of his own fortune trying to get elected, half goes to other, less-moneyed candidates. As far as those “poorer” candidates go, the more valid petition signatures they have, the more money they should get from the fund.

In addition to curtailing the power of the dollar in elections, this would especially help new candidates take advantage of modern marvels like social networking etc. to jump-start a serious challenge to more-moneyed opponents.

And if you don’t want your money going to candidates you don’t like, then don’t get in to the game in the first place.
2. Disclose everything to all

It is a sad state of affairs when corporations, who clearly don’t work for us, are forced to disclose more to than politicians who do (or at least are paid by us). We need to put the legal onus on politicians to disclose every single potential conflict of interest, be it an invite to a BBQ or getting their nephew a job with a contractor. This means that if it could in any conceivable way be considered a conflict, it’s on them to disclose it even if there is no specific rule against it. Then, if they are found being negligent of material disclosure, they need to be fired, fined and possibly jailed.

Finally, this information MUST be updated weekly into open-source searchable databases. There is no shortage of smart, patriotic Americans who can take it from there.
3. Cool your heels for seven years

The revolving door from politics to corresponding positions of undue influence in the private sector has to be stopped. There needs to be a seven year cooling off period for all Politicians, staffers and regulators from working in any related industry or lobbying their former colleagues.

While this might sound draconian, ask yourself, do you really think we are getting high quality public servants with the current incentive structure? I am betting we will get much more capable public servants once we hinder their ability to get rich off of their service.
4. End the lefty-righty facade

As far as I can tell, at this point the major differences in the traditional Political Parties has basically become their stance on gay marriage — and even that looks pretty similar once they are in power. Both like to give away money they don’t have and are unwilling to stand up to the special interests that fund them.

Furthermore, the false choice of “Republican” or “Democrat” is keeping some of the best candidates from making it to the general election. If politicians want to align themselves into two Political Parties, that is their right. But the government shouldn’t allow them to hold separate primaries. Hopefully this recent move to open primaries in California will take off across the country.

The question now is how do we get these same complicit politicians to make the fundamental changes that we need to the system. My hope is that in the coming years, we will see more and more people deciding that they have had enough and will enter into the political spectrum or push their neighbors and friends to do so.

Also, I am waiting patiently for serious candidates in the United States to sign a legally binding contract guaranteeing that they will support initiatives like the ones outlined above. Don’t laugh, it’s already on its way across the pond.

Politicians held personally liable for breaking their promises to the voter? That’s change we all could believe in.

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