Archive for May, 2010

May 17, 2010

Vows of Celibacy, Silly Costumes, Worship of an Imaginary Being… and Abuse? Imagine That!

by Ben Hoffman

Every week it seems that there are new accounts of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Usually these cases of abuse involve young boys. The Archdiocese has been protecting these perverts for decades, but they’re finally being called on it.

As with any religious cult, whether it’s the Heaven’s Gate and their comet Hale-Bopp, the Unification Church (and their Washington Times “news”paper, or the Catholic Church, there is always abuse. There always has been and there always will be.

A sure sign of a wacky organization is costumes. Wackos love to play dress-up. And the priest costumes don’t get much wackier. Their bishop costumes are pretty wacky, too.

These religious nuts are required to vow a life of celibacy if they want to be able to dress up in the wacky costumes and be the leader of the cult. (I wonder what their treatment is for blue balls.)

The church also has their share of bizarre beliefs, the main one being the story of a guy about 2,000 years ago who was born to a virgin mother, crucified, and then magically rose from the dead, and if you believe that story, you’ll go to a magical place when you die. (If you believe that one, I have some oceanfront property for sale here in Colorado you might be interested in.)

These religious nuts also believe that the earth is only about 6,000 years old.

Cults are extremely dangerous when they infiltrate our government, which was the case with the Bush and Reagan administrations. Cult members are inherently irrational and they make irrational decisions. Bush thought god told him to invade Iraq. Reagan used astrology to make decisions. With both administrations, the result was catastrophic failure. We’re now on the verge of collapse. China is poised to become the next economic super-power. We owe much of our debt to them. Currently we’re indispensable as a trading partner. Should that indispensability ever wane, we could be in big trouble.

We are now so far in debt, if we every get into another major war, we’re at the mercy of China to finance it. Should China be on the apposing side, we’re screwed. We’re paying some $400 billion a year just on interest on the Reagan/Bush debt.

Right-wingers try to blame it on Obama. The Republican party is also a cult. Take away the lies and they’d have nothing left. The only thing they lack is silly costumes.

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May 17, 2010

Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives

by Ben Hoffman

Just thought I’d repost my “differences” blog entry… 🙂

A liberal is willing to fight for liberty.
A conservative is willing to give up liberty for security.

If a liberal doesn’t believe that abortion is morally acceptable, she doesn’t have one.
If a conservative doesn’t believe that abortion is morally acceptable, he or she wants to prevent anyone from having one.

When a liberal asks where he gets his news, he’ll give legitimate sources such as the N.Y. Times or Washington Post.
When a conservative asks where he gets his news, he won’t usually answer because it’s not from legitimate news sources.

A liberal sees wrong and tries to right it.
A conservative sees wrong and if it involves another conservative, he claims it’s biased.

A liberal believes most foreign policy issues are best dealt with by taking diplomatic measures.
A conservative believes we should bomb first and ask questions later.

A liberal doesn’t mind his hard earned money going to legitimate government programs.
A conservative hates all things government, but doesn’t mind his hard earned money going towards multi-million dollar bonuses for CEOs.

When a liberal thinks about education, he thinks about college.
When a conservative thinks about education, he thinks about grade school and high school.

A liberal knows that a fact is information that is verifiable.
A conservative thinks a fact is something you can link to. It might be just somebody’s opinion, but if you can link to it, he believes it’s acceptable to use it as a “fact.”

A liberal debates with facts.
A conservative debates by insulting the other person.

A liberal evaluates information and forms an opinion.
A conservative gets his opinions from right-wing pundits.

A liberal debates by siting events that have occurred.
A conservative debates by predicting events he believes will occur.

A liberal debates using facts.
A conservative debates the facts.

May 16, 2010

National People’s Action: Protesting For America

by Ben Hoffman

Huge angry mobs converged outside bank employees’ houses on Sunday afternoon to demand banks stop lobbying against Wall Street reform.

“Bank of America: bad for America!” shouted community leaders outside the house of Bank of America general counsel Gregory Baer.

The Chicago-based grassroots organization National People’s Action, in coordination with the SEIU, bused more than 700 workers from 20 states to Baer’s neighborhood, one of the wealthiest corners of Washington. The action kicks off several days of protests targeting K Street for lobbyists’ role in financial reform.

Read more…

On May 17, everyday people from across the country will come to Washington DC to draw a direct line connecting unaccountable corporations, their lobbyists, and the Members of Congress who do their bidding. The big banks and other reckless corporations have hijacked our democracy and ruined our economy, and we are coming to Washington DC to take it back.

Read more…

This should be interesting. At least these people are protesting something. The dumb f*ck teabaggers don’t even know what they’re protesting.

May 14, 2010

Portland, Maine Public School Asks For Protection From Republicans

by Ben Hoffman

Anti-American Republicans ransacked a public school classroom they were using for a caucus. These people hate our democracy and hate that we don’t have an authoritarian right-wing government here.

PORTLAND – One School Committee member, saying she’s “appalled” by the behavior of some of the Republicans who used a room at King Middle School last weekend, wants to protect the city’s public schools from future harm.

Sarah Thompson said she plans to raise the issue when the committee meets on May 19. She has asked Superintendent Jim Morse to contact City Manager Joe Gray so the committee will have a clear understanding of policies and legalities related to the rental and public use of school buildings.

“We allowed them to use the space and I’m appalled that they would go through a teacher’s things, let alone remove something from a classroom,” Thompson said Wednesday. “We want the public to use school spaces, but they need to respect that it’s a school and understand that they should leave it the way they find it.”

The Republican State Convention was held at the Portland Exposition Building, which is on Park Avenue, near the middle school. Party members from Knox County caucused in a classroom used by eighth-grade social studies teacher Paul Clifford.

When Clifford returned to school on Monday, he found that a favorite poster about the U.S. labor movement had been taken and replaced with a bumper sticker that read, “Working People Vote Republican.”

Later, Clifford learned that his classroom had been searched. Republicans who had attended the convention called Principal Mike McCarthy to complain about “anti-American” things they saw there, including a closed box containing copies of the U.S. Constitution that were published by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Read more…

They called the Constitution anti-American just because it was published by the ACLU. The purpose of the ACLU is to protect our rights guaranteed by the Constitution. That’s as American as you can get. Right-wingers don’t like our Constitution except for a couple amendments. They hate our government, which is defined by the Constitution. They’ve done everything they can to destroy the democratically elected Democratic president, just as they did with Clinton. That’s anti-American. It’s one thing to be against policies and we have elections to change politicians who make policies, but they don’t accept the will of the majority who overwhelmingly rejected the Republican candidate.

May 14, 2010

In Defense Of Sarah Palin: She’s No Idiot

by Ben Hoffman

Last night, Keith Olbermann called Sarah Palin an idiot. Watch it here and named her the “worst person in the world.”

She’s no idiot. She realized that she could cash in on her new found celebrity and make millions from speaking engagements. According to several sources, Sarah made $12 million last year and continues to rake in the money. That’s quite an increase from her $125k salary she was paid as governor.

Right-wingers were desperate for a leader and they found one in Sarah Palin. She’s just like them… average intelligence, low information, religious, anti-government, plain-spoken, and that makes them feel good. Right-wingers are all about emotion.

No, Olbermann was wrong when he called Sarah an idiot. It’s her followers who are the idiots.

May 13, 2010

Big Corporations Avoid Paying Taxes By Transfer Pricing. They’re Fueling The Deficit

by Ben Hoffman

While Forest Laboratories Inc., the medicine’s maker, sells Lexapro only in the U.S., the voyage ensures most of its profits aren’t taxed there — and they face little tax anywhere else. Forest cut its U.S. tax bill by more than a third last year with a technique known as transfer pricing, a method that carves an estimated $60 billion a year from the U.S. Treasury as it combines tax planning and alchemy. (See an interactive graphic on Forest’s tax strategy here.)

Transfer pricing lets companies such as Forest, Oracle Corp., Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer Inc., legally avoid some income taxes by converting sales in one country to profits in another — on paper only, and often in places where they have few employees or actual sales.

Read more…

Forest Laboratories is being investigated for offering kickbacks to doctors for prescribing antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro and for pushing their use on children, which was not an approved indication.

Oracle reported $5.6 billion in net income last year, 14 percent more than it would have reported without foreign earnings taxed at lower rates, according to the analysis. Oracle recently bought Sun Microsystems, which had bought MySql a few years ago. So now Oracle owns MySql. In other words, they have a near monopoly on database systems.

But it’s these pharmaceutical companies that bother me, or should I say the flood of drug commercials around supper time. For a while, there was some talk of regulating them but nothing ever came from it. That would probably “violate” free speech.

May 13, 2010

Republicans Favor Bailout Of The Oil Industry

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Senate Democrats failed Thursday in a bid to quickly pass legislation that would dramatically increase oil firms’ economic liability after massive spills like the one soiling the Gulf of Mexico.

The measure, pushed by lawmakers from New Jersey and Florida, would raise the ceiling on damages an oil company could have to pay for things like lost tourism or fishing revenue from 75 million dollars to 10 billion.

Democratic Senators Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, and Bill Nelson sought immediate passage by the “unanimous consent” of all senators, but Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski objected, temporarily stalling the legislation.

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With a $75 million cap on damages, that means taxpayers will be left footing the bill, since it’s bound to cost far more than that to clean up an oil spill of this magnitude. This is socialism at its worst — socialized risks but privatized profits. We can’t afford to clean up their mess. Again.

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May 13, 2010

The City Of My Birth: Newburgh!

by Ben Hoffman

NEWBURGH, N.Y. — The authorities raided dozens of homes here early on Thursday in a major show of force against the Bloods and the Latin Kings street gangs, whose members have wreaked havoc in this small, troubled city along the Hudson River.

More than 300 officers and agents with the F.B.I.; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and the local and state police began gathering before dawn in a former National Guard armory here. By 6 a.m., heavily armed F.B.I. SWAT teams were breaking through doors across this city about an hour north of Manhattan.

Read more…

It was bad back when I was a kid and it’s gotten steadily worse. I remember listening to blacks talk about somebody getting stabbed in their neighborhood. They’d laugh as they’d describe the expression he made while he was dying. They had no regard for human life or property. I’m glad I got out when I did.

May 13, 2010

The Pitfalls of Privatizing Government Work

by Ben Hoffman

With all the fear mongering about socialism these days, the privatization of public entities almost always leads to corruption, lower paying jobs, and poor quality.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Nine people were indicted Wednesday on federal charges of accessing President Barack Obama’s student loan records while they were employed for a Department of Education contractor in Iowa.

The U.S. attorney’s office said a grand jury returned the indictments in U.S. District Court in Davenport.

All nine are charged with exceeding authorized computer access. They are accused of gaining access to a computer at a Coralville office where they worked between July 2007 and March 2009, and accessing Obama’s student loan records while he was either a candidate for president, president-elect or president.

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While right-wingers won’t have a problem with this since the actions of those accused were to help Republicans, and anything goes when it comes to helping Republicans, if the shoe was on the other foot, they’d be outraged.

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May 13, 2010

The Washington Times: Where Right-wingers Go For Propaganda er… News! (Yeah, that’s the ticket)

by Ben Hoffman

Just a little background on the Washington Times:

  • The Washington Times is a newspaper owned by Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church
  • Moon once said, “While the media can provide all the facts, they also have the responsibility to provide values to prevent confusion and to provide leadership and direction, especially today when the entire world is flooded with news and information. The Washington Times and its affiliated media properties are taking a leading role in this regard.”
  • During a sermon, Rev. Moon asked any Jews present to raise their hands. When they did, he told them to repent for having killed Jesus and went on to explain that it was as an indemnity for this that 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust.
  • Moon referred to gays as “dung-eating dogs” and stated that they will be “eliminated” by God.
  • Moon once said “I am God’s ambassador, sent to earth with His full authority. I am sent to accomplish His command to save the world’s six billion people, restoring them to Heaven with the original goodness in which they were created.”
  • “They have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity’s Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent. This resolution has been announced on every corner of the globe,” he said.
  • Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church played a key role in supporting the Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Million Family March in Washington D.C.

Source

May 12, 2010

New NBC/Wall St. Journal Poll

by Ben Hoffman

These are a few of the questions from survey results released today:

  • In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing as president?
    Approve: 50%, Disapprove: 44, Not sure: 6%
  • Do you generally approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing in handling the economy?
    Approve: 48%, Disapprove: 46, Not sure: 6%
  • When it comes to dealing with the war on terrorism, do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing?
    Approve: 48%, Disapprove: 42%, Not sure: 10%
  • In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that Congress is doing?
    Approve: 21%, Disapprove: 72%, Not sure: 7%
  • Opinion of the Democratic party:
    Positive: 37%, Negative: 42%, Neutral: 19%
  • Opinion of the Republican party:
    Positive: 30%, Negative: 42%, Neutral: 26%
  • Opinion of the Tea Party movement:
    Positive: 31%, Negative: 30%, Neutral: 21%
  • What is your preference for the outcome of this year’s congressional elections?
    Republican controlled Congress: 44%, Democratic controlled Congress: 44%
  • Do you think last year’s economic stimulus legislation is already helping improve the economy, will help improve the economy in the future, or will it not help improve the economy?
    Helping: 18%, will help: 20%, Will not help: 42%, Don’t know: 18%
  • Thinking about efforts in Congress to regulate financial markets and institutions, which would concern you more?
    Not doing enough to protect consumers: 55%, Doing too much: 38%
  • Would you be more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who says we should give
    the new health care law a chance to work and then make changes to it as needed, or a candidate for
    Congress who says we should repeal the new health care law entirely and then start over?
    Give it a chance and make changes: 55%, Repeal and start over: 42%
  • How worried are you that the United States will experience another major terrorist attack–very worried, fairly worried, only slightly worried, or not really worried at all?
    Very: 31%, fairly: 27%, slightly: 28%, not at all: 14%
  • How willing are you to give up personal freedoms and civil liberties to prevent another terrorist attack?
    Very willing: 18%, somewhat willing: 34%, somewhat unwilling: 21%, very unwilling: 23%

Just one comment for now… Ben Franklin once said, “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.” 52% of the American people are willing to give up some liberty for security. That’s pretty scary.

Comments?

May 11, 2010

GOP Wants Papers On Kagan From Clinton Administration: Clinton Should Tell Them To F*ck Off

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON – Republicans hunting for clues about what kind of justice Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would be said Tuesday they want to see papers from her time serving in the Clinton administration.

Read more…

Hopefully Bill Clinton has learned his lesson from the non-stop investigation into his personal life while he was president. He should not give the Republicans ANYTHING. Not one shred of paper. Not one file. They tried like hell to bring down his presidency and were almost successful. Although they didn’t remove him from office, they managed to turn enough of the public against Democrats to get Bush almost enough votes to win the 2000 election. And the “liberal” media was none too happy to keep the little scandals on the front pages of most newspapers.

The Democrats missed their opportunity to get a little revenge with Bush. He could have easily been impeached for invading a sovereign nation that was of no real threat to us. They could have gotten him for lying about it. Or they could have gotten him for insider trading back in his Texas Rangers days. Instead, they did nothing.

Obama tried his best to work with Republicans last year, but the only thing they care about is bringing down his presidency. If they regain control of either houses of Congress, we’re going to see more of the non-stop investigations.

Several Bush administration officials were subpoenaed to testify about various issues, such as the politicization of our justice department but they just said, “Naaaaa, we don’t want to.” The Democrats did nothing.

Clinton testified under oath about issues regarding his personal life. He had a little more respect for our government and abided. Little did he know that he could have just said, “Naaaaa, I don’t want to.”

Now that Republicans are asking Clinton for papers about Kagan, he shouldn’t budge an inch. He should just tell them to f*ck off. Of course, they’ll whine and scream and claim he’s trying to hide something. But they’ll just whine and scream anyway because that’s what they do.

May 11, 2010

Elena Kagan – Like Sotomayer, We Can Do Better

by Ben Hoffman

In 1997, Kagan urged Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions, which are extremely rare and used only when the live of the mother is at stake.

Now there is news that Kagan helped shield Saudis from 9/11 lawsuits.

The suits were filed by thousands of family members and others affected by the Sept. 11 attacks. In court papers, they provided evidence that members of the Saudi royal family had channeled millions to al Qaeda prior to the bombings, often in contravention of direct guidance from the United States.

But Kagan, acting as President Obama’s Solicitor General, argued that the case should not be heard even if evidence proved that the Saudis helped underwrite al Qaeda, because it would interfere with US foreign policy with the oil-rich nation. She posited “that the princes are immune from petitioners’ claims” because of “the potentially significant foreign relations consequences of subjecting another sovereign state to suit.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered a proposal to amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which Kagan cited as one reason the Saudi case should not be heard. Both senators said that US citizens should be able to sue foreign governments if they are found to be supporting terrorist activity.

Read more…

It’s hard to get enthusiastic about anything our government does. Mediocrity prevails.

May 11, 2010

It’s A Miracle! A Unanimous Vote In The Senate!!!

by Ben Hoffman

The Senate on Tuesday voted unanimously to require a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve’s emergency actions during and after the 2008 financial crisis as part of broad legislation overhauling the nation’s financial regulatory system, The New York Times’s David M. Herszenhorn reports from Washington.

The amendment, proposed by Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, above, would require the Government Accountability Office to scrutinize some $2 trillion in emergency lending that the Fed provided to the nation’s biggest banks. The vote was 96 to 0.

“At a time when the Federal Reserve has provided the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world, the largest financial institutions in this country, trillion-dollar institutions,” Mr. Sanders said in a floor speech, “the Sanders amendment makes it clear that the Fed can no longer operate in the kind of secrecy that it has operated in forever.”

Read more…

Holy crap! A pig just flew by my window!

Note: Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist, which makes it even more astonishing the Republicans voted for it.

May 8, 2010

Obama Administration’s Response To Deepwater Horizon Disaster

by Ben Hoffman

This from AP:

Word reached Washington at 10:30 on the night of Tuesday, April 20, that the floating drilling rig Deepwater Horizon was on fire. Its workers scrambled to be rescued. The Coast Guard sent a pair of ships and four helicopters.

For a time, it was a rescue operation, and nothing more. The president was alerted because of the potential for great loss of life.

Before noon the next day at the Interior Department, which oversees offshore drilling projects, the department’s No. 2 official, Deputy Secretary David Hayes, raced to grab a commercial jet for New Orleans without even time to pack a bag. He sets up shop at a government command center already monitoring events.

“We obviously knew this was a bad situation,” Hayes said in a recent interview. “But we were not in a mindset where we thought we were dealing with a major oil spill.”

Underwater surveillance showed no active leak from the wellhead. Oil on the water surface was determined to be residual from the pipe and the burned out rig, now floating precariously.

Hayes and other officials were confident the blowout preventer would keep any spill to a minimum. But it failed catastrophically, allowing 3 million gallons of oil into the Gulf so far.

Asked why he flew to Louisiana so soon after the explosion, Hayes said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was concerned about potential deaths of 11 workers, especially so soon after the April 5 mine collapse in West Virginia that killed 29 workers.

Two days after the fire erupted, Obama convened an Oval Office meeting to get the latest on what still was viewed largely as a major accident and rescue effort — 11 workers could not be found.

He asked departments to respond aggressively to help in the rescue and assess the environmental fallout. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in a statement called the response “the No. 1 priority.”

A team representing 16 agencies and offices that included the Pentagon, the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior and Homeland Security was formed. As a precaution, 100,000 gallons of chemicals to break up oil on the waster was sent to three Gulf Coast locations.

By Friday, the rig toppled to the sea floor. Efforts to rescue the 11 missing workers ended. BP, which leased the rig for exploratory drilling, insisted that based on remote monitoring, there was no leak from the well pipe. Officials believed they may have dodged a bullet.

But that changed abruptly the following day when Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the Coast Guard’s Gulf region, called Hayes, back in Washington, with some bad news. “We found a leak,” she told him.

A new centralized command was set up in Robert, La. While the possibility of a major spill never was dismissed, it now became a much greater worry.

Obama had yet to speak publicly about the issue.

For Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, later named as overall head of the response effort, the tipping point from rescue to potentially major environmental crisis came Thursday, April 22. That’s when the rig, with 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel, sank to the sea bottom, raising the potential for more damage to the pipe and a worse release of oil.

“At that point we knew this could go very, very bad. We were moving into a much more vulnerable potentially catastrophic situation,” he said in a recent interview.

——

Come Saturday, April 24, with the spill estimated at 1,000 barrels a day, containment efforts were stepped up. The number of vessels sent to the scene tripled to 30 and more chemicals were dumped on the growing oil slick.

By Tuesday, April 27, 20 more vessels had been added to skim oil and help out. In Washington, BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, and other company officials were asked to the White House to describe their latest efforts to plug the leak and their plans to mitigate the spill’s impact. Officials were told a relief well to stop the oil could take three months to drill.

Obama was briefed, although he did not meet with the oil company executives.

At the same time, an internal report at Homeland Security brought more ominous news. It concluded that marine ecology along the Gulf “may be significantly more impacted than originally estimated” by the volume of oil now believed being released with a high risk of environmental contamination in the Gulf.

The next day Interior Secretary Ken Salazar flew to the BP command center in Houston to review BP’s plans to deal with the leak and response efforts.

The news got worse on Wednesday, April 28.

In Washington, senior advisers and department officials were holding their daily meeting in the White House Situation Room when word came in from the Gulf of a third leak found in the submerged pipeline. Separately, government scientists monitoring by air the oil plume already on the water concluded BP’s estimate of release was far too low and revised the estimate to 5,000 barrels a day instead of 1,000.

That’s when the call was made to Air Force One.

On Thursday, the administration’s team participated in a news conference at the White House, followed by Obama in an appearance in the Rose Garden, where he commented publicly for the first time on what he characterized as “the worsening oil spill.”

The next day, Friday, April 30, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Salazar and other administration officials flew to the Gulf Coast. The Pentagon made available two C-130 aircraft to drop chemicals on the oil. A quarter-million feet of boom was on site, but in the coming days it grew to 1 million feet, and the number of vessels increased from 75 to 200.

Into the weekend, the weather turned rainy and the wind picked up, bringing the forward fingers of the oil slick within 9 miles Louisiana’s eastern wetlands.

On the rainy wind-swept Sunday, 12 days after the $350 million Deepwater Horizon was consumed by flames, Obama flew to the Gulf to get a firsthand look. He took a helicopter flight over the ecologically precious wetlands that may be tarnished by the oil.

Read more…