Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Fox news”

Under The Mistletoe – Bay Area Style

Only in the Bay Area can we truly leverage technology and tradition so unpretentiously and flawlessly. Check out when two guys flew a mistletoe drone over Union Square in San Francisco.

Reactions:

Press Release from the White House: No American citizen was targeted on American soil for this initiative.

Dick Cheney responded that we have just spoilt his holiday fantasies.

Fox News: Highlights this as another example of the war on Christmas – no explanation is forthcoming, though it is rumored that Sarah Palin will explain in her new sequel.

Whatever spiritual path you follow, may you always have someone to smooch or platonically hug! Drone or no drone. Happy Holidays.

Original article – http://feedly.com/e/UWgmEkC2 .

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 Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of GalbriethThe First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

What’s In A Name – Obamacare, Shutdown, Blackmail, Extortion.

Tom kind of stole my post with his excellent Whose Shutdown Is It Anyway. Here are two memorable quotes.

“John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Fox “News”, and just about every Republican politician out there is trying to pin this shutdown on President Obama. This is due to the fact that Obama stubbornly refuses to accept a Republican-crafted budget that takes away the funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Obama and other Democrats worked for years to make the law of the land.”

“It’s OK to disagree about this. It’s OK to hold the opinion that Obamacare is a bad thing. But don’t shut down the government and then claim it was the other guys’ doing. Though we can continue to debate health care, out here in the world, the law has passed. We supposedly have majority rule in this country, and the majority want serious health-care reform, and the majority made Obamacare the law.“ 

imagesI really want to hear from a coherent, thinking Republican (and there are plenty around to be fair), how s/he can justify shutting down the government to object to a democratically passed law? And how can our representatives have the audacity to deny government workers a salary, but continue to pay themselves? Leading by example? I think not.

But there was one thing that stood out for me and, as I listened to various radio stations, read a couple of articles, it occurred to me, that the President and the Democratic Party have lost the war on language.

Look again at the two exerts above. One talks about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while the other mentions Obamacare. One of the biggest mistakes this government made was to use and allow the use of the term Obamacare. I have yet to hear someone offer a coherent opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act without using the term Obamacare, and using it often. 

images-1It makes for a nice legacy and might flatter our leader, but democrats should refuse to use the word. Every time a Republican uses that term, they should stop him/her and ask that the correct term is used. It’s easy. Just ask what Obamacare is.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not defined as only for democrats. It is an essential tool to offer what is a basic human right: healthcare without personal bankruptcy. 

If we are going to discuss language, how about ditching the Government Shutdown – if this was a union, we would be calling it a strike. So the Republicans have gone on strike. Good luck dealing with labor disputes in the future!

And while we are at it, perhaps there are a few other words we might want to begin using to describe the shutdown: how about blackmail and extortion? Maybe callousness and immunity to suffering?

Not that I’m in favor of inflammatory rhetoric or imagery. Who had the audacity to design this? Thankfully, let it be said, many Republicans have come out against the comparisons of President Obama to Hitler. 

imgres

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of GalbriethThe First Decree, Ashbar – Wycaan Master Bk 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

Whose Shutdown is it, Anyway? – Tom Rossi

The “debate” rages on. Are 1+1 really 2? Or are they 3? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear sh… Oh, forget it.

Here’s the “debate”: I want to cut off your legs with a chainsaw. What’s that? You don’t want to talk it over? You don’t want to sit down and negotiate? Hmmm… Well, let’s try something less extreme. I want you to give me 25% of your paycheck… every month. Whaaaaat? You don’t want to talk about that either??? Well, YOU are obviously the problem.

tom-toles-obamacare

John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Fox “News”, and just about every Republican politician out there is trying to pin this shutdown on President Obama. This is due to the fact that Obama stubbornly refuses to accept a Republican-crafted budget that takes away the funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Obama and other Democrats worked for years to make the law of the land.

cryingboehner

The right-wing wants Obama to just turn around, let go of victory, and be defeated. And they want the same from the American people. Republicans (publicly, anyway) agree that health costs are out of control. But instead of making it cheaper for people, they want doctors and especially big medical businesses to be largely free from lawsuits, even when they do something terribly wrong.

Obamacare may only be a B- victory for the average citizen of the United States, but it’s all we’re going to get. We will not have “single payer” health care within the foreseeable future (unfortunately) so we have to hold on to our hard-won compromise like grim death.

obamacare card

It’s OK to disagree about this. It’s OK to hold the opinion that Obamacare is a bad thing. But don’t shut down the government and then claim it was the other guys’ doing. Though we can continue to debate health care, out here in the world, the law has passed. We supposedly have majority rule in this country, and the majority want serious health-care reform, and the majority made Obamacare the law.

Obamacare-face-full

As a nation, we badly need to grow up. Countries with nowhere near our natural resource base have thriving economies and universal health care. Obamacare is an imperfect compromise, but a reasonable one. Let’s get on with our lives… and our health.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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A Black Mark on Obama – Tom Rossi

From The Satirical Gazeeter and Hand Fishing Review…

Fox “News” report:

Welcome to the Fox “News” (actually makes quote sign with fingers) morning report. I’m Spiff Albinoman and we’ve just received an investigative report. This just in from the (insani)Tea Party Gazeeter and Hand Fishing Review:

It’s recently been uncovered that President Barrack Hussein Obama… is, in fact, black.

gary-busey-dui

Or, as some prefer, “African American.” It turns out that we, er… I mean the large, highly intelligent group that has come to be known as the “birthers” was barking up the wrong tree. In fact, the answer was right in front of them, all along.

bush26_08

President Hussein may not, in fact, have been born in Kenya… but his father was. In fact Hussein Obama’s father was a full-blooded African and, in fact, black.

The meaning and significance of this can’t be overstated. This means that, irregardless of Obama’s mama and her national origins and/or race, Hussein is, in fact, at a bare minimum, half black.

tom-cruise-oprah-couch

Therefore, this fight over where Hussein was born is, in fact, moot. Constitutionally, a person of mixed race must have been the result of a mixed-race marriage and is, in fact, illegal. In fact, the whole marriage was illegal and any and all offspring from that marriage are, in fact, illegal.

glen_beck_crying

This fact, these facts, in fact outweigh all of the ridiculous attempts to “Monica Lewinsky” President Hussein. In fact, many wonder why these attempts are being made, now that Hussein is, in fact, “termed out.” He can’t be re-elected and these attempts will, in fact, certainly be useless if Hussein does, in fact, stage some sort of coup, in order to install himself as permanent dictator.

britney-spears-shaved-head-scary2-386x386

However, the revelation that Hussein is, in fact, simultaneously black and of mixed race, could and should be used to impeach him, in his present term.

Well, we certainly look forward to that.

Michele-Bachmann-300x184

Next up after the break: George Will uses the letter, “F.”

Cookiemonster2_FB

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Nuclear Energy – still safe?

You would think, given my blog post on Friday that the era of nuclear power is over. Actually, according to a recent poll, more people think that nuclear power is safe after what happened in Japan than a few years ago. In fact, only 40% of Americans believe that nuclear energy is unsafe.

All Smiles Despite Japan's Disaster

A few more interesting titbits from this survey: 60% of men believe in nuclear power, while only 40% of women. Also, the older you get, the more willing you are to accept nuclear power. What about the grandchildren, paps?

One brave columnist decided to take the 1986 meltdown of Chernobyl, Reactor 4, as the worse example in history. He honestly accepts that:

“Thirty-one people died soon after the accident, most of acute radiation exposure, with perhaps a few more in the years since. More than 100 others suffered radiation injuries. Some 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been diagnosed in Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians who were under 18 at the time, many likely stemming from radiation exposure via milk contaminated with radioactive iodine. However, only 15 deaths had been reported as of 2005 — thyroid cancer is readily treated.

“There’s evidence of increased leukemia and cataracts among recovery workers who received higher doses, but no health effects otherwise. (Experts project an eventual 4,000 additional cancer deaths among the 600,000 people most exposed — i.e., an increase of a few percent beyond the 100,000 cancer deaths you’d expect for this group.) An irregularly shaped “exclusion zone” of about 1,700 square miles around the plant remains off-limits to human habitation, 220,000 people had to be permanently relocated, and agriculture is restricted, but vegetation and wildlife for the most part have thrived.”(source)

…but then goes on to point out that: “Look, here was a five-star fiasco and the confirmed death toll is about the same as from 12 hours of U.S. traffic accidents. Is that an outstanding safety record or what?” (source).

If Homer can live with it...

Now I have to admit, the amount of fatalities from traffic accidents and drunk driving is astounding and there is no reason in the world to belittle it, but his comparison is chilling.

He then makes the comparison to coal. “Each year, on average, 35 U.S. coal miners are killed and 4,000 are injured. In China, 2,600 coal miners were killed in 2009, following 3,200 dead in 2008. (Recent U.S. uranium mining deaths: zero.) Coal-burning power plants release close to three times as much radioactivity as nuclear plants.” (source)

Sometimes I just hate statistics! How would you respond to this?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Oil Conspiracies

A few days ago I suggested that we phase out production and imports of cars that do not reach a minimum mpg of, let’s say, 35 mpg, within a couple of years. It makes so much sense that you have to ask what is stopping us? I posed this question to a couple of friends, admittedly people who might well be, okay, who are conspiracy theorists.

Shirt reads: Global oil industry = Weapon of mass destruction

Now before you click away to see how Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are doing, I want to warn you that there are two kinds of conspiracy theorists in the world – the crazies and the astonishingly smart. It is easy to differentiate between them: the former rants on and loses you before you realize you are gulping down your wine in order to excuse yourself to get a refill, while with the latter you are determined to crush their logic and simply can’t, no matter how you try. The worse part of interacting with the astonishingly smart is that you walk away, maybe even lie in bed a few hours later, wondering whether they might just be right.

Here are a couple of neat articles:

The Truth Will Set You Free

BP Oil Spill Conspiracy Theories

Even Fox News are happy to participate in the conspiracy world, though I can’t help suspecting ulterior motives.

I could go on just drowning in theories regarding the oil industry. When I wrote The Accidental Activist, in which an oil company’s policies and their power with governments are exposed, I was surprised to see how easy it is for big business to quickly become indispensable in the economy of smaller and poorer nations.

The question is: if an inspired President, backed by his party, did embark on such a policy as I outlined the other day, who would try to prevent him succeeding, and what weapons do they possess in their arsenal?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Osama Been Decayin’ – for about 48 hours now.

(part 3 of “Tax Mysteries Uncovered!” will appear next week)

It’s finally happened. Osama Bin Laden is dead.

 Yesterday, I received a call from a friend telling me to turn on the news. It had just been announced that OBL had been killed. I watched ABC network coverage of OBL’s death for about 45 minutes and started to get curious. I don’t get cable TV, so I went to the computer to check out Fox “News” Channel. There’s a big link to click on at the top of the page that says, “Watch FoxNews.com Live.” I clicked on it and what did I see? A replay of the coverage of the royal wedding.

 Wow.

 Just… Wow.

 I watched about 5 minutes to prove to myself that this was what Fox was really running, and then my Firefox browser crashed.

 Of course, I can’t know if it was just some technical difficulty that our “Fair and Balanced” friends were suffering, but somehow I doubt it. I still have questions about the complete story of 9/11 (Oh, to be a fly on the inside of George W. Bush’s skull right now. But let’s save that discussion for another day.) but one thing is for sure – this is just a huge victory (politically if nothing else) for President Obama. I’m sure it’s taking some time for ill-prepared Fox “News” spinners to concoct something negative or just to formulate a plan to keep the negativity flowing.

We’ll see if I’m right over the next few days. But for now, let’s just read a list of the dead:

 Osama Bin Laden

and…

 The 2012 presidential campaigns of:

Sarah Palin

Donald Trump

Mitt Romney

Michelle Bachman

Etc.

Etc.

Etc.

 By the way, I again tried the Fox “News” live feed on Monday morning at 9:05 am, Pacific time. All the other networks just can’t show enough about OBL. Fox live feed had a show on about how terrible the economy is and how hard it is to get a job.

 One thing of which I am completely certain: Obama haters will go on hating. That’s what they do.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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Google Personalization, the News Media and Politics

Almost every day, I hear and see more evidence that we will soon be free of the burden of receiving news we don’t really want to hear. You can now choose media sources based on their ideological slant. If you’re a so-called conservative, it’s Fox “news”, Rush Limbaugh, and an endless stream of conservative websites. If you’re a so-called liberal, it’s MSNBC, and an equal supply of web sites.

But the big smoking gun is Google. Google is now offering ever-improving personalization in your searches. Google says it will now use your web browsing history in order to refine your searches and present you with the options for which you have shown a preference. In other words, you will be shown more of what you already think.

For example, a person who frequents Fox “News” on the web and/or conservative blog sites will likely see this page: Limbaugh: ‘Obama has yet to prove he’s a citizen’ at the top of his search and not this one on Snopes.com: Birth Certificate . Sure, the other result will probably still be in the search results, but it’s well known that people don’t typically go too far down the list – most take what’s near the top.

So now you won’t have to worry about information contradicting your own opinions. You can think whatever you thought yesterday, and probably find some information source to back you up. Of course, it’s long been known that the internet is a place (in cyberspace) where you could do exactly this – look only at the sources that you prefer. But now Google is making it that much easier. Google’s personalization mechanisms have actually been in place for some quite some time, but the system takes a while to “learn” whether you’re a redneck or a longhair (or whatever delineation you like) so the effects are probably seeping into society slowly.

What will be the psychological effects of search-engine personalization (that is, beside the creepy sensation that you are being watched – you are!)? It seems to me that if what you already expect shows up in all the highest-ranked results of a search, you might start to feel like there simply is no reasonable, intelligent alternative to your version of the truth. Because you have seen lots of “hard evidence” backing up your views, people who think otherwise must be stupid or crazy or both, right? They obviously haven’t done any real “research”.

So what about the “mainstream media”? How do they please those who like to be pleased and, at the same time, anger those who like to be angered? Well, the major networks’ news departments seem to have adopted a teeter-totter approach, with a story that sounds liberal (like that people die in wars) followed by a story that sounds conservative (like that people are angry at the government over unemployment).

It now appears that the profession formerly known as journalism has been infiltrated by politics. When I watch the news, my neck gets sore from watching the ping-pong ball go back and forth: “Since we just offended the half of our viewers who think that facts are partisan, we will now offend the other half with this story about a senator, an underage girl, and a member of different species.” I’m offended, all right. I’m offended by the game itself.

Welcome to the new America – where the cows run free (at least some of them) but the people have their feet stuck in partisan cement.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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