Archive for Fox News

Why Minutiae Might Not Matter

Posted in current events, opinion, politics, pop culture with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Everyone knows that words matter. All it takes is a simple turn of phrase or a well-placed capitalization to make a point. In reading Penn Jillette’s new book, God, No! and Other Signs You May Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales (book review coming Friday), Penn makes his atheism apparent not only by stating it several times throughout the book (and constantly name-dropping Hitchens and Dawkins), but also by refusing to capitalize the words “god,” “lord,” and “savior” when referring to Christianity.

It’s undeniable fact that words can be used for good or evil. It’s also an undeniable fact that, for the most part, people are reading into an agenda or argument that really isn’t there.

I was referred to an article on the Huffington Post where Sean Hannity ridicules President Obama’s intelligence because he mispronounced a word three times in a recent speech, pronouncing “corpsman” as “corpseman.”

I’m a firm believer of “things happen.” Sometimes you know how words are said but not how they’re spelled. I’ll freely admit that I had never seen the word “indictment” until I reached college, and felt like an idiot when I asked the person next to me what an “in-dickt-ment” was. I had used the word several times in conversation, and have heard it whenever the news was on in the background, but I had never seen the word. Obama probably had a similar situation. I’m not saying he did, I’m not saying he didn’t, but at this point, anything is possible.

I found another instance of this sort of nitpicking while browsing through the Fox Nation Twitter feed. It brought me to a tweet with proof that Obama can’t write. The link leads to an article from the American Thinker, which accessed a letter from 1990 that Obama wrote for the Harvard Law Record. Jack Cashill, author of the article, says that the letter is “classic Obama: patronizing, dishonest, syntactically muddled, and grammatically challenged.”

Common sense would lead me to think that the article is poorly worded and rambling, with many spelling and grammatical errors, indicating that Obama wrote this letter in a drunken rage, and probably used the word “poopyheads” a few times in reference to critics of whatever he was writing about. But it’s much worse than that. To quote the article:

In the very first sentence Obama leads with his signature failing, one on full display in his earlier published work: his inability to make subject and predicate agree.

“Since the merits of the Law Review’s selection policy has been the subject of commentary for the last three issues,” wrote Obama, “I’d like to take the time to clarify exactly how our selection process works.”

If Obama were as smart as a fifth-grader, he would know, of course, that “merits … have.” Were there such a thing as a literary Darwin Award, Obama could have won it on this on one sentence alone.

Really? A common grammatical error? That’s proof that Obama can’t write? Funny story–I can use the same tactic against you in the very same article:

Although his description of the Law Review’s selection process defies easy comprehension, apparently, after the best candidates are chosen, there remains “a pool of qualified candidates whose grades or writing competition scores do not significantly differ.” These sound like the kids at Lake Woebegone, all above average. (Emphasis added)

Clearly, if Cashill had done ANY kind of research, he would know that Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town is spelled Lake Wobegon. Clearly, anything Cashill wrote in this article can’t be trusted and should wholly be ignored if he can’t even spell a well-known fictional town correctly.

The point is, sometimes the little things matter, but for the most part, they don’t. Gaffes happen, and they shouldn’t be constantly thrust in the spotlight, because all it does is clutter the airwaves for more important issues.

It’s like the old saying goes, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can prove that you’re an incompetent loser.” Or something like that.

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Special Comment: Olbermann Indefinitely Suspended from MSNBC

Posted in current events with tags , , , , on November 5, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

It’s not often that I can comment on news as it happens, but this one is too frustrating to pass up. It was announced about an hour before this posting that Keith Olbermann, host of the MSNBC show “Countdown” will be indefinitely suspended from MSNBC because he made donations to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates without prior consent from NBC News.

Personally, it’s frustrating to me that Olbermann is being suspended. I’m a huge fan of the show, and look forward to it every day during the week. And it’s not frustrating simply because he was suspended. In doing a little digging into the story, it turns out that NBC News policy states that anyone affiliated with NBC News has to get prior approval before they can contribute to any political campaign, regardless of party affiliation.

No, this is frustrating because I know a lot of news media, and even people that I associate with every day, is going to misinterpret the story.

It seems that today, more than ever, America is a Headline Nation. We get all sorts of news and other information at lightning speed, and because there is so much of it, we feel like we don’t have time to read a whole news story. Instead, we skim headlines, and when we find an exceptionally fascinating title, we skim the first few paragraphs of the article, which we then use to describe it to our friends.

The problem is, with a lot of newspaper articles, the sensational information is located at the top of the article, to get you sucked into reading it, and the pertinent information is located at the end of the article. Which means that when you only skim the first few paragraphs of the article, you get broad statements, and maybe a few quotes. Then at the end of the article you get the numbers, statistics, and the things that actually matter.

Meaning that people reading about Olbermann will get extremely general information: Keith Olbermann donated $2400 to three different Democratic campaigns, and now he is suspended indefinitely from MSNBC without pay.

Initially, this article would have been a diatribe against MSNBC for suspending Olbermann. I would have mentioned that it is simply in poor taste to suspend someone simply because of their political leanings. It’s no surprise that Olbermann is a Democrat; anyone who watches his show should know that that viewpoint is painfully obvious. Olbermann can do what he pleases with his money, because his personal finances are his personal finances, and are not tied to a network.

However, one question can still be asked from my original idea to this idea: If Olbermann is being suspended for not getting prior consent for donating to Democrats, why was Fox News virtually ignored? After all, Fox News’ parent company, News Corp, donated one million dollars to the Republican Governers Association back in August.

“But Rupert Murdoch’s personal finances are his personal finances!” True, and if it was simply Murdoch donating to that organization, this would be a moot point. However, because News Corp itself donated to the organization, it makes everything affiliated with News Corp liable for the donation. That includes Fox News. Instead of being chastised or otherwise punished, it got a clever skewing over on Comedy Central, and then the issue was largely ignored.

I understand what issue is at hand, and I hope that whatever miscommunication happened between Olbermann and NBC News gets resolved quickly. As for the future, I hope that all news entities–anchors, reporters, and networks alike–who engage in similar activity are all held equally accountable. It’s not right that Fox News gets this free pass simply because they are a “force to be reckoned with.”

NAACP, Tea Party, and Racism

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

The biggest news among politically-minded blogs and websites is the NAACP’s charge for the Tea Party to remove and punish members of the party who use racist or vulgar language. It’s a harmless charge, one that should easily be implemented by the Tea Party, and anyone else who observes racism in speeches or signs by Tea Party protesters.

Harmless, that is, unless you work for a conservative news network.

Bill O’Reilly’s blog from 15 July, along with many other conservative news sources, seems to report that the NAACP has called the entire Tea Party racist. From his blog: According to the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, the Tea Party is chock full of racist people bent on harming African-Americans…. The NAACP picked a bad time to brand the Tea Party with the racist label…. By saying the Tea Party followers are sympathetic to racism when proof of that is scant, the organization has defined itself as irresponsible.

However, from the NAACP website: NAACP delegates passed a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.

There seems to be a huge difference between those two reports. And besides, I’m more apt to believe the report from the organization the report is about, rather than someone trying to defend the “attacked” organization.

In Bill’s blog, he also mentions Mr. Jealous talking about protesters holding signs that say “Lynch Barack Hussein Obama,” and that, after an “exhaustive search of media reportage about the Tea Party,” he could find no such signs. Even Sean Hannity is in on the talking points, saying that he can’t find any evidence of racism in the Tea Party.

Which is hilarious, because a quick Google search brought up some of these racist and otherwise inappropriate gems, all from one website:

From Huffington Post

A sign calling for several Congresspeople to be hung


From Huffington Post

A sign comparing American taxpayers to Holocaust Jews


From Huffington Post

A sign stating that Obama is the new Hitler


From Huffington Post

Obama loves taxes, bankrupting America, and killing babies


From Huffington Post

"Freeloading Illegals are Raping U.S. Tax Payers"

I wish I could post all of the signs I’ve found. I really do. But between the Huffington Post, Blue Ridge Muse, and several other websites posting pictures of these racist signs, and YouTube having several videos of racism within the Tea Party, it’s hard to believe that the movement is being marginalized and lied about.

Granted, the NAACP has looked away on several forms of racism from minorities. In glancing through the NAACP blog, there is nothing about racism caused by black people or Hispanic people. But at the same time, the Tea Party denying racism in their ranks is simply foolish. As hard as it is to say, racism is still in America today. It’s not as blatant today as it was in the 50s, but it still exists, now in code or cute little euphemisms.

In order to make even more progress with this whole race issue, we need to acknowledge it, and get rid of it. The moment the Tea Party acknowledges and rids itself of the blatantly racist, maybe more people would take it seriously as a movement.

The Presidential Blame Game

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Kyle Fleming
The Presidential Blame Game

Image from Jim Morin in the Miami Herald

It’s human nature to want to blame someone for the problems of the world. From the impoverished to the wealthy, there is always someone to blame for all of the wrongs in your life. Some people blame their parents for not raising them right, other people blame teachers or professors that they’ve had for not nurturing them as well as they should have. Still others blame God, because if God was truly watching out for God’s creation, then bad things would never happen to good people.

The latest in this trend goes toward politicians, and their trying to assign blame to a certain administration for certain terrible things that are happening to the country. It’s no secret that I believe that all politicians are children who never grew up, but this awkward, off-the-wall blame game that’s happening is extremely frustrating.

Take, for example, this video from the 29 June episode of the Daily Show. In it, Jon Stewart, with all of his wit and tact, shows different Fox News analysts and reporters blaming everything bad during the Bush administration, as well as part of the Obama administration, on the Clinton administration. Bad economy, 9/11, invasion of Iraq, the housing crisis, and the oil spill are all the fault of Bill Clinton.

The biggest problem I see with this whole debacle is that there is no reason to blame President Clinton for most of that stuff. Sure, there are some ties between Clinton and 9/11, in that he probably got some memos warning about a possible attack. But President Bush probably also received those memos as part of a “Welcome to Being President” package upon moving into the White House. I know that the new President gets all sorts of bomb codes and different secrets like that. Surely some memos of national security are bound to be included.

And while I could mention something hypocritical in the way that Fox News says, “Don’t Blame Bush” while simultaneously saying, “It’s Clinton’s Fault,” I’m not even going to touch that. It’s way too easy, and happens far too often.

Instead, why not focus on the real problem: the lack of personal responsibility. It a problem that reaches into all demographics of the world. No one wants to be the one that screwed it all up, so if they can think of a scapegoat, or can find someone else to share blame with, then they aren’t as bad as other people would think. It’s a tactic that is meant to keep up a cognitive bias known as Illusory Superiority, which is essentially the belief that people have that they are above average, even when everything else shows that they are not.

Fox News didn’t want Bush to be the worst President in history, so they blamed everything on Clinton, making Clinton the bad guy, and keeping Bush above average.

Fox News and conservatives can blame Clinton all they want, and they can shout down the Obama administration for “blaming Bush” for all of the bad things in the Obama Presidency, but the bottom line is: blame will fall where it is most justified. Any ill that comes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be Bush’s fault, because it was his decision to go to war, not Clinton’s.

The BP oil spill will be partly Bush’s fault, because he passed legislation that allowed oil companies doing off-shore drilling to use lower standards, but it will also be Obama’s fault because the clean up effort is a mess, and not enough is being done to have BP take responsibility.

Every President is going to have some things that are obviously their fault. Everything that happened after 9/11 in Bush’s presidency is Bush’s fault, because the honeymoon was over, and Clinton’s scent was far removed from the Oval Office. And I’m stating this for the record: everything that happens after this oil spill is going to be Obama’s fault, because it’s been over a year since he took office.

But the bottom line is: someone has to step up and say, “Yeah, that was me. Sorry. I screwed up.” Playing the blame game will only go so far before people stop listening and start making their own conclusions.

Obama’s Not Evil, Stop Marketing Him As Such

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I was wondering to myself today why I continue to watch Fox News when I know it upsets me. For everything else I’ve experienced in life, when I’m upset or frustrated with something, I remove myself from the equation. But for some reason, the torture I subject myself to when I watch Fox News makes me want to watch more. Secretly, I think it’s because I’m finally proud to be smarter or have more common sense than someone, but really, I’m not exactly sure what it is.

This was blatantly obvious when I was watching Fox last week, and the ticker across the bottom mentioned that Obama’s BP speech was the first time he addressed the nation from the Oval Office. It read, “Obama is the first President to not address the nation from the Oval Office within his first year.” W. Bush did it twice in his first year, including after 9/11. Clinton had also done it a couple of times in his first year.

Maybe it was because I was completely ready to be offended by something, or maybe it was because I was absolutely wiped from six hours of working with day camp kids, but to me, that read like Obama was a terrible President by not addressing the nation from the Oval Office. I mean, seriously, Bush did it twice. Why couldn’t Obama even do it once?

Probably because it doesn’t really matter where the President addresses the nation? The Oval Office is just as good of a backdrop as the Lincoln Memorial, or the Washington Monument, or the Gulf Coast. In fact, any backdrop that is at least relevant to the subject matter of the speech is a good back drop. Sarah Palin announced her resignation outside, next to a hydroplane, and not in her governor’s office. But no problem with that, because Palin is an outdoorsy sort of gal, so it made sense.

But it wasn’t just the location of the speech that got Fox News uptight, but the language used. Obama mentioned that we are “waging a battle” on containing the oil spill, and introduced a “battle plan” to fight it. “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got,” said Obama. “And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.”

Leave it to Fox News to call out Obama on his choice of words. “It’s too militaristic,” said Glenn Beck. All of the war metaphors were upsetting him. We’re declaring war on an Oil Spill? Isn’t that a little bit silly?

I’ve got three words for Glenn Beck: “Don’t Retreat, Reload.”

The “battle plan” from Obama is nowhere near the literal call to arms that was given to the Tea Party. Don’t retreat, reload. As in, don’t give up when people call you crazy; in fact, counter it with more crazy and violence. Bricks through windows not working? Try death threats and profanity. Not being noticed with your misspelled and grammatically incorrect (and factually untrue) picket signs? Feel free to spit on anyone you disagree with. And throw in a racial epithet while you’re at it.

Obama is not evil. He’s not trying to destroy America. That was Dubya’s job. Whatever crazy pills people at Fox News are inhaling, we better take them away, and hopefully the withdrawal symptoms are enough to knock some sense into them.

What BP Can Teach Us about Alternative Energy

Posted in current events with tags , , , , on June 21, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

It’s been over 60 days since the BP oil rig in the Gulf exploded, sending hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the water and onto the shores, and destroying much of that ecosystem. The images of oil drenched birds and turtles are infuriating, and are sending Americans into a rage, wondering when exactly we’re going to fix the damn thing.

I’ve not written about the oil spill, if only because everyone else is doing it. Every blog that I’ve seen lately has had an article or three on the oil spill, and the streaming video of the oil spilling into the water is on every major news network. Don’t get me wrong, I care about the environment. It’s just that everyone else is saying exactly what needs to be said, so why bother rehashing the same thing over and over again?

Because there are still some people out there that aren’t getting it.

Watching my buddy Glenn Beck last week, I was shocked to see him fully admit that the oil spill was awful, but then completely tear down those who are asking for more funding for alternative energies. It makes me wonder what is going on in that head of his. Is it really that bad to ask for research grants for safer forms of energy and prevent the waste that comes from accidents like BP’s?

Eventually the oil is going to disappear, plain and simple. There isn’t an infinite amount of dinosaurs buried under the surface of the Earth to make an oil shortage impossible. Especially if accidents like BP’s continue, it will run out faster than we care to imagine. What won’t run out, however, is the sun. Or wind. Or water. Or whatever geothermal energy comes from the Earth.

America’s dependency on oil is as frustrating as it is destructive; besides oil spills, there is also the destruction of ecosystems to build oil rigs on land. Sometimes the destruction of that ecosystem means that many species go extinct; it messes with migration patterns, mating rituals, and habitats in general. A lot of oil is wasted, in the form of plastics and the excess waste from gas and oil use in cars.

And yet, some people still think that moving to alternative energies is a terrible idea, and will ruin the foundation of America, a foundation, mind you, that had little to do with oil and a lot to do with freedom from oppression.

There are countries in the world that have already accepted the use of alternative energies. And in fact, many people talk down about alternative energies only when we talk about getting rid of oil. They have no problem with the millions of wind turbines that exist in America, and they hail the use of hybrid cars that run on electricity. But the moment someone starts talking about nuclear energy is cheaper and more effective than oil, it turns into a huge deal.

I say let’s cut the dependence on oil as soon as possible. Wind energy, solar energy, nuclear power, geothermal energy, water power, and all other forms of alternative energy is better for the earth in the long run. Some will cite studies that say that alternative energies aren’t as effective as oil, but that’s because they’ve never been allowed to surpass oil.

I believe that given time, alternative energies will be the norm, and we will wonder how we were ever addicted to oil in the first place.