Archive for May, 2011

May 24, 2011

George W. Bush nearly hit by foul ball

by Ben Hoffman

In last night’s Rangers/White Sox game, Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski reached into the stands to try to catch a foul ball — and found himself face-to-face with former President George W. Bush.

Pierzynski was going for a foul pop near the Texas Rangers dugout in the sixth inning Monday night. The ball dropped into the owner’s box where Bush and his wife, Laura, sat with team president Nolan Ryan, whose wife, Ruth, had her hands over her head protecting herself. The ball didn’t hit anyone.

May 24, 2011

Shocking! Recent graduate with B.A. in art history has trouble finding job!

by Ben Hoffman

An article in the Huffington Post today tells about a dejected young woman who had to move back home with her parents because she couldn’t find a decent job, even though she had a degree in art history. A post from a few days ago described a man who graduated with a “B.S. in Bible” was also having trouble finding a job. Well, duh, if you get a degree in something in which there is no demand, you will have trouble finding a job, even in a robust economy.

According to CNBC, these are the most in-demand degrees right now.

  1. Accounting
  2. Mechanical Engineering
  3. Electrical Engineering
  4. Computer Science
  5. Business Administration
  6. Finance and Economics
  7. Information Sciences
  8. Marketing/Marketing Management
  9. Computer Engineering
  10. Management Information Systems

Source

When the economy is good, those who study art history might find work in an art museum or maybe write about art for a newspaper, but even then, the pay won’t be lucrative. To teach, one would need at least a Master’s Degree.

While the economy is indeed bad — especially for those who were laid off from manufacturing jobs — those with degrees that are in demand haven’t been hit as hard.

May 23, 2011

SCOTUS orders California to shed 30,000 prisoners

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. filed vigorous dissents. Justice Scalia called the order affirmed by the majority “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” Justice Alito said “the majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California.”

The majority opinion included photographs of inmates crowded into open gymnasium-style rooms and what Justice Kennedy described as “telephone-booth-sized cages without toilets” used to house suicidal inmates. Suicide rates in the state’s prisons, Justice Kennedy wrote, have been 80 percent higher than the national average. A lower court in the case said it was “an uncontested fact” that “an inmate in one of California’s prisons needlessly dies every six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.”

[...]

“Most of them will not be prisoners with medical conditions or severe mental illness,” Justice Scalia wrote, “and many will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym.”

In his statement from the bench, Justice Scalia said that the prisoners to be released “are just 46,000 happy-go-lucky felons fortunate enough to be selected.”
Read more…

The real question is: how will this affect the profits of the prison industrial complex? We can only hope they it won’t affect the CEO bonuses and salaries.

The United States is the world’s leading jailor with a current incarceration rate of 743 per 100,000.

Those numbers may actually be a bit off. The N.Y. Times reported the rate to be more than one in 100 are behind bars.

For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report by Pew Center on the States.

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.

Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are.

The report’s methodology differed from that used by the Justice Department, which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population rather than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department’s methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.

Read more…

May 22, 2011

American exceptionalism and the GOP – You can’t get there from here

by Ben Hoffman

Conservative policies have resulted in our country’s enormous debt and the near total collapse of our economy. Americans still do great things. We’re still king of innovation. But our country as a whole has lost its way. Money is the only thing that matters to too many people.

We have the military industrial complex keeping us in a perpetual state of war. We have the medical industrial complex driving up the costs of health care and keeping quality down. And there’s the education cartel bilking billions out of our school system rather than improving education.

American exceptionalism means a government working for the people — not just for corporate interests.

May 22, 2011

Joplin, Missouri hit hard by major tornado

by Ben Hoffman


JOPLIN, Missouri – A major tornado caused massive damage in Joplin, Mo. Sunday afternoon, leveling buildings, killing dozens and causing massive damage to many standing structures.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, at least 24 people have died from the tornado.

The tornado caused widespread damage to the city when it struck the town around 6 p.m.

St. John’s Regional Medical Center sustained major damage.There were reports of fires throughout the building and fears of an explosion occurring due to broken gas lines.

Many businesses were destroyed and power lines are down throughout the city.
Read more…

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May 22, 2011

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty throws his hat into the ring

by Ben Hoffman

Pawlenty is the latest Evangelical Christian to enter the presidential race. He’s an anti-abortion, anti-government programs, anti-tax, anti-gay, run of the mill Republican. He’s outraged over the huge debt and blames it on spending, but he is honest about wanting to cut Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs. Let’s see how far that gets him with the “KEEP YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE” crowd.

Pawlenty vetoed spending bills that would have shored up Minnesota’s infrastructure. The I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapsed in 2007 due to structural deficiencies. 13 people including 8 children were killed and some 50 people were injured.

This must be Pawlenty’s idea of moving America forward.

May 22, 2011

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. may enter presidential race

by Ben Hoffman

Huntsman, currently Obama’s Republican ambassador to China, staged a political coming-out party in Washington, D.C. over the weekend to test the waters for a presidential run against his boss. That would constitute insubordination in most businesses, but this is politics.

Huntsman is a Mormon and is distantly related to Mitt Romney. He is one of the more moderate Republicans and favors same-sex civil unions, believes in anthropomorphic climate change, and was for cap-and-trade policies to control pollution, although he now claims he’s against it due to the the floundering economy. Those things won’t go over too well with conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party members, and most Republicans in general.
Read more…

May 22, 2011

Illinois to pass education reform – Make it easier to fire bad teachers

by Ben Hoffman

The new bill to be signed into law by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn makes it more difficult for teachers to strike by requiring 75% of the teachers to go out on the picket line. But more important, it makes it easier to fire bad teachers. It streamlines the process from the current two years to a more reasonable three months.

The biggest problem with our public school system is teacher tenure. Once a teacher has tenure, it’s almost impossible to fire him or her. Even the most egregious acts of incompetence such as violence against a student or sleeping in the classroom generally aren’t grounds for dismissal because of the power of the teachers unions. We can dump billions and billions of dollars into the school system, but as long as we have bad teachers, student achievement and teacher morale of good teachers will remain low.
Read more…

May 22, 2011

Roger Ailes thinks Sarah Palin is an idiot

by Ben Hoffman

[Roger Ailes] thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she’s stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven’t elevated the conservative movement.”
Read more…

Hey, we agree on something!

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May 22, 2011

David Pogue hits wife with IPhone after she bites him

by Ben Hoffman

He told police his wife had bitten his left arm and that she had been filming the altercation with her iPhone camera. Arciola said David Pogue followed Jennifer Pogue into a bedroom and allegedly jumped on top of her and hit her in the head with a phone.

Both had evidence of the alleged assaults: David Pogue had a bite mark on his arm and Jennifer Pogue had marks on her head, Arciola said.
Read more…

May 22, 2011

Denver Mayoral Runoff: Michael Hancock turns out to be a pro-life creationist

by Ben Hoffman

Who says there are no pro-life Democrats? Hancock refused to admit that he’s pro-life and doesn’t believe in evolution, but he also refused to deny it. We don’t need a mayor who believes in children’s fairy-tails. Romer takes the reality based approach. Read more…

May 21, 2011

The Rapture has begun: 34 earthquakes reported so far

by Ben Hoffman


Source

The numbers don’t lie. It’s the end of days. In about another 30 minutes, good Christians in the eastern time zone will begin ascending into heaven. The rest of us (especially us Jews) will begin our descent into hell. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!

May 21, 2011

Political Headlines

by Ben Hoffman

The Poetry Foundation – for you poetry buffs
Bush tax cuts and wars responsible for nearly half public U.S. debt by 2019
Godfather Pizza CEO announces bid to run for president
Tennessee Senate passes bill that bans teaching children that some people are gay

More headlines

May 20, 2011

George W. Bush: Too busy to honor those who died when he allowed our country to be attacked, but now raking in millions

by Ben Hoffman

When George W. Bush declined President Obama’s invitation to a ceremony at New York’s ground zero after Osama bin Laden was killed, the former president cited his desire to keep a low public profile.

But Bush has been raising his profile in a different, and lucrative, way: He has raked in millions of dollars since leaving office by making scores of speeches that typically earn him six figures a pop.

In the week after Obama’s May 5 ground zero event, the 43rd president made time for three separate speeches to hedge-fund executives, a Swiss bank sanctioned for keeping secret bank accounts, and a pro golf event underwritten by the accounting firm involved in the Tyco International financial scandal.

Bush’s standard speaking fee is reportedly between $100,000 and $150,000.

David Sherzer, a spokesman for the former president, said that since Bush left office he has delivered nearly 140 paid talks, at home and abroad. Those speeches have earned Bush about $15 million, following in the golden path blazed by his predecessor, Bill Clinton.

Almost all of Bush’s speeches are closed to the press. Bush uses the Washington Speakers Bureau to arrange his paid speaking gigs.

To some presidential historians, Bush’s numerous high-priced speaking engagements don’t sit well. “I find it puzzling,” said Stanford University historian Robert Dallek. “He says he wants to keep a low profile. What is he doing except enriching himself? It sounds like it’s self-serving. It’s following the good old American adage to make as much as you can.”

Read more…

For right-wingers, it’s all about the money.

May 19, 2011

Why have health care costs gone through the roof?

by Ben Hoffman

We’ve traditionally relied on doctors to make such decisions. But the rise of medical technology means that there are far more ways to spend money on health care than there were in the past. This makes so-called “flat of the curve” medicine, in which doctors call for every procedure that might be of medical benefit, increasingly expensive.

Moreover, the high-technology nature of modern medical spending has given rise to a powerful medical-industrial complex that seeks to influence doctors’ decisions. Let’s hope that extreme cases like the one reported in The Times a few months ago, in which surgeons systematically used the devices of companies that paid them consulting fees, are exceptions. Still, the drug companies in particular spend more marketing their products to doctors than they do developing those products in the first place. They wouldn’t do that if doctors were immune to persuasion.

Read more…

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