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 “vote”

Vote with Your Apps Dollars – Roger Ingalls

Last year 1.6 million cell phones were stolen nationally and 50% of all theft crimes in San Francisco are now related to cell phones. The proliferation of crime related to these smart gadgets is going through the roof and it’s a big headache for local law enforcement.

There is a way to thwart these techno-hooligans but the big smart phone manufacturers refuse to side with legal paying customers. Apple, Samsung and the others generate a good portion of their revenue from replacing stolen phones. Essentially, in the minds of these companies, crime pays.

apps image

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon recently met with some of the cell phone manufacturers and asked them to voluntarily put permanent kill features into the phone so when reported stolen they are rendered useless forever. The stolen phone market would fade away because who’s going to buy a dead useless phone. However, the manufacturers ignored the request effectively endorsing the illegal market.

Garcon has now partnered with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and they are scheduled to meet with the smart phone companies again in mid-June. With mounting pressure, maybe this time the smart phone manufacturers will act responsibly and side with legal paying customers and not the criminals. If not, it’s time for us non-criminal smart phone users to take action.

If Apple, Samsung and others don’t act responsibly, we should boycott them by not purchasing smart phone APPS. So far in 2013, four to five billion APPS are downloaded monthly; now that could be a powerful vote!

Let’s help Garcon and Schneiderman significantly reduce smart phone crime. If the phone makers don’t want to play then we shouldn’t pay. Using our phones to text, tweet and run other social media tools, we could organize a “don’t buy APPS day” to send a message. After losing a few hundred million, they may get a clue.

Vote with your APPS dollars!

Get Off Your Butt and Vote!! – Tom Rossi

Today is election day! My message is simple…

Get to your polling place and vote!!!

I know I’ve come off as somewhat cynical on the subject of the presidential election. Well, it’s not a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, as was once suggested by the loveable little eight-year-olds on South Park. It’s more a choice between a giant douche (with gray sideburns) and a liver sandwich. Some people like liver and it’s probably sort of good for you, but let’s face it, it’s not too many people’s first choice.

But forget about the presidential race for a moment. Most of my readers are here in California, and if a few hundred Californians actually took my advice and wrote in Dennis Kucinich or Elizabeth Warren for president, nothing at all would change. California would still be a blue state and its electoral votes would all go to President Obama anyway. And besides, for my plan to work, people have to make it known that they want a more progressive government. If you just don’t vote, nothing will be accomplished.

Mitt Romney video:

watch?v=EQwrB1vu74c

No matter what state you are in, there are other races where your vote might make a difference. Here in California, we have several propositions on the ballot, some of which are very important (like prop 37 – YES!!!) and some of these are pretty much a toss-up as to whether or not they will pass, according to the polls.

In addition, in many states, important Senate and Representative races are hanging by a thread. There are actually some politicians out there that will put their shoulders against the gargantuan, immoveable mound of stone that is our beloved corporatocracy (and sometimes kakistocracy) and try to derail this train to the heart of dystopia.

So, NO EXCUSES! Your voices are important! I once saw an important bill in Colorado defeated something like 4,500 to 4,350. It was one of those bills that progressives would have cheered, but the “pro” side had almost no money, so it went down in tiny flames. Do your best to prevent this, wherever you live.

-Tom Rossi

P.S. Did you know that, in many states, your employer MUST give you time off to vote? Check it out here.

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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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Game On. Go Vote!

Today there are no fancy views, no links, no cool pics. Today there are no excuses for dithering – if you are undecided (really undecided) then you simply haven’t been paying attention ­– or you are denying something to yourself that only you can fathom.

Decide. This is too important a moment to pass up.

Breaking News: Left Coast Voices endorses Barack Obama! Actually, if this is breaking news to you, then you haven’t been paying attention to this blog!

I can understand the top 1%. They are voting for what best represents their interest and most people will do that. It is a rare individual who will put his/her country first and vote for the other guy because, in their heart, they know this country (and maybe the world) needs such a candidate. I want to declare my admiration for those 1%-ers who vote for President Obama.

But beyond the 1%, I am somewhat mystified why the choice isn’t clear. Mitt Romney is a proud Republican, so is Paul Ryan. They were members of a government that sent this country into massive debt and economic hemorrhage. That they have the audacity to use statistics on President Obama’s first day in office as a mark of measurement for the President is incredulous. That they don’t see it as a mark of shame is scary. That the media and social commentators aren’t calling them out for this is either pathetic or really scary.

The suggestion that eight years of Republican greed and irresponsibility can be fixed in a day, a week, or a month, is stupid and insulting to the intelligence of the populace. That it has taken four years to stop the hemorrhage and institute a measure of stability is an illustration of the gravity of Republican mis-governance.

Barack Obama not only saved the car industry, but also galvanized it to enter the 21st Century and compete with Toyota and Honda. This must be a model for how we govern. He is bringing us out of two wars that are financially bankrupting us, and laying the foundation for new financial and economic sustainability that will be appreciated by our children if not us. More than anything else: we owe it to our children to repair the damage. Let the sins of the fathers (and mothers), stay with the fathers.

Some are frustrated at the pace, at the emphasis, or the inability to create comprehensive policy in, for example, health care. But huge steps have been taken. If you are on the left and even contemplating not voting, or casting your vote for a candidate who, while genuine in their beliefs, are irrelevant to what we, the American people, have deemed a two-horse race, then you are not taking responsibility.

I am frustrated at the Obama campaign for not speaking out consistently at Governor Romney’s inability to provide a clear and understandable policy. His running mate, the ‘numbers man,’ has consistently and condescendingly told us that he has crunched the numbers but can’t share them with us because they are too complicated and time-consuming.

Mr. Ryan – the voter is your consumer and your boss. You owe us an explanation in a language we understand or you run the risk that either: WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU or WE THINK YOU ARE HIDING THE TRUTH – or possibly both.

Four More Years – in a world of instant gratification, this has almost become a curse. But the American people, fueled by Republican greed and public apathy, have allowed us to dig ourselves a deep hole. It is going to take time to fill the hole and cement a firm foundation.

Barack Obama has taken on this responsibility. His campaign would have been more effective if he had played the sugar daddy and promised to wave his magic wand and deliver vague and impossible dreams. But he is too principled for that – a rare trait in politics.

The reality is that we need four more years to continue the recovery and repair the damage. We probably need more than that, in truth, but we need to embrace consistency, rather than chase the magic bullet.

President Obama hasn’t been perfect, but he took office in a deep depression and he has remained a consistent and responsible leader. He deserves the opportunity to continue advancing everything he has built and he needs us to be honest partners, not only today, but for the next four years.

Tomorrow, he needs your endorsement. Your country needs you – GO VOTE!

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, 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).

Hope from Our Youngins – Roger Ingalls

I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with something to write about for today’s post. I wanted to do something positive because we’ve just concluded round two of the presidential debates and I was appalled at the inaccuracies by both candidates. President Obama didn’t create false statement but he exaggerated many points while Romney outright lied in traditional Republican grand standing fashion. The Republican leaders knows their followship will believe anything they say so truth doesn’t matter (it’s the conservative authoritarian belief system that creates blind followship).

I was about to give up on a positive subject and write about the stupidity of California Prop 30 but then a Facebook post caught my eye. An old friend posted a question to teenagers on her Facebook page asking which presidential candidate THEY would vote for, without influence from their parents.

Their responses were interesting. They almost apologetically assumed they were supposed to say Romney. All selected President Obama and their comments were telling. They were very logical and actually saw through the Republican Party’s false sound bites. I was amazed!

Here are a few of their comments:

1)      “It’s taken me more than four years just to pay off my little car loan, how is Obama expected to fix a trashed economy in such a short period of time”.

2)      “Obama inherited Bush’s mess, why is the Republican Party blaming him?”

3)      “Romney doesn’t truly believe in equal rights for all and would push back gains made by LGBTQ”.

Again, I was amazed. These young people were thinking critically and were not blindly following like many of their parents. They saw through the false sound bites; their brains were engaged.

This gives me hope…it really gives me hope.

Redefining the U.S. Government – Roger Ingalls

Picture from theviewspaper.net

How would an honest educator define the current U.S. form of government to a body of students? This is the question I’ve asked myself while trying to fall asleep, night after night. The key word in the above question is “honest”.

The U.S. is no longer a true democracy or republic. Our government has latently morphed over the past 30 years into a dual-form system. It’s similar to the Constitutional Monarchy found in the United Kingdom except the power and ceremonial aspects are reversed.

In a modern Constitutional Monarchy, the democratically elected politicians are the true governing body (Parliament, Congress, President, Prime Minister…) and the Monarchy or Royal Family act as ceremonial figures.

In the current U.S. form of government, elected officials are a ceremonial by-product of a ritual balloting process that provides no positive impact on the voting public. Casting a vote is now just a feel-good public ceremony that pays homage to the concept of democracy.

Unlike the United Kingdom, a group-Monarchy or, more accurately, Plutarchy is the real governing power in the United States. Elected politicians are controlled by the wealthy for the wealthy. They’re influenced and financed through campaign contributions by famous and influential individuals, CEOs, corporations, financial institutions and Wall Street players. Essentially, politicians are personal policy generators for the wealthy few.

Accurately defining our current form of government: Pseudo-Democratic Plutarchy is a form of government in which power effectively rests with the wealthy via financial control over political candidates and propaganda means (Main Stream Media). The wealthy finance their desired group of candidates which effectively pre-selects favorable agents. The final selection is left to the voting public in a ceremonial pageant resembling a democratic election.

Pseudo-Democratic Plutarchy: A product of conservative deregulation.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

13,609 Dead and Counting

Tuesday, September 20th 2011, thirty-five bodies were dumped beneath an underpass during rush hour traffic in a Mexican coastal city.  War on Drugs Update –  the Mexican death total for 2011 now stands at 13,644.

(picture from Getty Images)

Are we, citizens of the U.S., in anyway responsible for the deaths of so many people south of our border? Is our forty year war on drugs really working? Has the prohibition of anything desired by man ever been successful? The short answers: YES, NO and NO (respectively).

When a significant number of people want something, someone or some entity will provide it. The majority will go to a legal source. If a legal source is not available, they will go to an illegal source. If there are buyers, there will be suppliers. It is that simple.

So here’s the real question. Are responsible businesses practicing lawful commerce better suited to sell drugs or are criminal gangs that make up their own rules enforced by death and violence a better choice? When the U.S. started prohibition of alcohol in the early 1900s, drinking did not stop but criminal activity, violence and death increased dramatically. These negative elements went away once alcohol was made legal again.

The War on Drugs has cost the U.S. tax payers $1 trillion and the percentage of people that use drugs has not decreased; all the usage statistics are virtually the same. What has increased are the number of deaths at the hands criminals and the prison population of non-violent drug users. This Nixon-era policy has failed because you cannot stop the will of the people. Again, if a significant number of people want something they will eventually get it, legal or not.

(Mexican Drug War Death Map, WM Consulting)

Approximately 11,000 people die in the U.S. annually from illegal drugs, over 100,000 people die from prescription medication and alcohol is linked to 75,000 deaths per year. Perhaps the war is focusing on the wrong drugs.

Our War on Drugs is a crime enabler that results in the death of 10,000 to 20,000 Mexicans annually and who knows how many people elsewhere. If we eliminate the prohibition of drugs, the western hemisphere would be a safer place for all Americans – Canadians, Chileans and all of us in between.

Stop the insanity. History proves prohibition does not work. Say no to violence, no to criminals and no to enslavement by voting No on Prohibition.

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

One Dollar, One Vote. Lots of Dollars, Lots of Votes.

In a series of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the principle has been forwarded that the right to free speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, also applies to money that is spent on campaign contributions and political advertising. Justice Antonin Scalia even said, during oral arguments in the 2006 case in which the Vermont Republican party sued the state over campaign contribution limits, “When you say, ‘You can’t spend more than this on your campaign,’ you’re saying, ‘You can’t say more than this.’ When you say, ‘You don’t need any more speech than this,’ that’s an odd thing for the United States Government to say.”

In this statement, Justice Scalia, adorable teddy-bear that he is, did a great job of showing just how limited is his typical level of analysis (thin, simplistic analysis is both standard and necessary to the conservative way of thinking).

Laws that limit spending are not made for the purpose of limiting speech at all. They are in place to keep the playing field somewhat level by preventing someone with money from having more “free speech” than someone with less cash. If spending is limited, in principle a rich person would have one voice, as would a poor person.

Spending allows a political actor to reach, and ostensibly convince, more people more effectively. If you and I have opposing views on a measure up for approval in the next election, we can both stand up and shout in a bar or on a street corner, write letters or e-mails, talk to our co-workers, etc. But if I have a big stack of cash lying around, I can put ads on TV and on the radio. I can put up billboards and take out newspaper ads. Of course, these ads would feature slick public-relations-firm-concocted slogans being delivered by a thirty-year-old, smartly-dressed mom from her perfectly clean kitchen. You wouldn’t stand a chance.

As usual, the externalities in this situation are among the most important effects: As I (in my theoretical fantasy role) spend more and more money on advertising, advertising rates go up – until there is no possible way you, my opponent, can pay them (or maybe you can buy one commercial to my ten). This process can eventually make the underfunded opponents of the desires of the rich and powerful into permanent losers. This is especially true if, with my money and influence, I push through legislation that gives me and my empire of corporations an advantage.

The recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission signals the beginning of the unfettered ability of corporations to exercise just the advantage I’m talking about. In this case the Roberts Court took full advantage of the opportunity for conservative activism and went way beyond the scope of the case before it to give exponentially more political power to money.

The decision allows corporations and unions to spend what they please. Some might think this evens it out – unions vs. corporations, but there are two problems: Giving these two entities the same rights to spend is like allowing both Mike Tyson and an eight-year-old girl to put brass knuckles on their fists, under their boxing gloves. In addition, unions do not represent the sum of the opposition to corporations and corporate aspirations. Corporations (with VERY few exceptions) exist solely to make more and more money, not to build “The Good Society.”

Belt yourselves in – we’re in for a steep fall.

-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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Millennials – Think of Rome & Go Vote!

I love the millennial generation. I work with students on the campuses of San Francisco and I revel in their confidence, their optimism, their drive for hands-on philanthropy. But if I have one complaint it is that they have become accustomed to instant gratification. They have an almost naive belief that if you play by the rules then the system will do the right thing.

Buoyed by promise of change and a sense of empowerment at having come of age to vote, these fine young people put a candidate in the White House who promoted the same values – the system can work if we believe in it.

What the candidate and his staff forgot to mention is that he was taking office after eight years of chronic mismanagement the repercussions of which had not yet finished wreaking their damage. The candidate and his party assumed that it was understood that it would take time to right the ship.

The millennials didn’t understand that. Neither did they understand how destructive an opposition can be (neither do most of us it should be noted). Remember how long it took to build Rome, and how the empire was destroyed by its own apathy.

The Obama administration can make the changes it promised, but it needs support in the House and Senate. It is ironic that he might lose this opportunity not because of those who oppose him, but because of the apathy of a generation who gave him the chance.

Rome was not rebuilt in a day and President Obama needs you to go to the polls. For the sake of the country, whatever your politics – go vote!
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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 www.alonshalev.com

 

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