Archive for April, 2011

April 30, 2011

Mitch Daniels knows what’s best for Indiana women

by Ben Hoffman

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels plans to sign a bill that will restrict abortions and make Indiana the first state to cut off all government funding for Planned Parenthood.

The move puts at risk $4 million a year in federal family planning grants likely to be cut off because of the bill. The legislation also would ban would abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless there’s a substantial threat to the woman’s life or health.

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Yes, decisions regarding women’s reproductive systems are best made by our government. Governors, especially male governors, are best able to make decisions regarding birth control and abortions.

It’s also an economically pragmatic move. Children who are born to mothers who don’t want them or are unable to care for them, often become criminals during their late teenage years or 20s. This will stimulate the economy by creating more jobs for private prisons, surveillance devices, gun manufacturers and retailers, and security guards.

Criminals are usually required to do a great deal of running, which also creates more demand for running apparel.

“It’s a win-win situation for all,” Daniels said at a press conference.

April 29, 2011

Arizona Now Has An Official State Gun!

by Ben Hoffman

PHOENIX — Arizona’s governor has signed a bill designating the Colt Single-Action Army revolver as the state’s first official firearm.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill without comment on Thursday. Legislative supporters argued that the designation was appropriate because the revolver was widely used during Arizona’s territorial days.

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Next month, Brewer is going to announce the official state beer!

Maybe it’s the heat down there that has fried everyone’s brains.

April 29, 2011

Science Wins Out Over Religion (Barely)

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — A divided federal appeals court has ruled that opponents of taxpayer-funded stem cell research are not likely to succeed in a lawsuit to stop it.

In a 2-1 decision Friday, the panel of the U.S. court of appeals in Washington overturned a judge’s order that would have blocked taxpayer funding for stem cell research.

The panel reversed an opinion last August by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who said the research likely violates the law against federal funding of embryo destruction.

The 1996 law prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars in work that harms an embryo, so private money has been used to cull batches of the cells. Those batches can reproduce in lab dishes indefinitely, and the Obama administration issued rules permitting taxpayer dollars to be used in work on them.


April 29, 2011

100 Incredible Lectures from the World’s Top Scientists

by Ben Hoffman

Unless you’re enrolled at a top university or are an elite member of the science and engineering inner circle, you’re probably left out of most of the exciting research explored by the world’s greatest scientists. But thanks to the Internet, and our list of 100 incredible lectures, you’ve now got access to the cutting edge theories and projects that are changing the world.

Watch videos

April 28, 2011

The Republican War on Science

by Ben Hoffman

There is overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are causing global average temperatures to rise. Conservative think tanks are trying to undermine this conclusion with a disinformation campaign employing “reports” designed to look like a counterbalance to peer-reviewed studies, skeptic propaganda masquerading as journalism, and events like the AEI luncheon that Crichton addressed. The think tanks provide both intellectual cover for those who reject what the best science currently tells us, and ammunition for conservative policymakers like Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who calls global warming “a hoax.”

This concerted effort reflects the shared convictions of free-market, and thus antiregulatory, conservatives. But there’s another factor at play. In addition to being supported by like-minded individuals and ideologically sympathetic foundations, these groups are funded by ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company. Mother Jones has tallied some 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to undermine mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or have maintained affiliations with a small group of “skeptic” scientists who continue to do so. Beyond think tanks, the count also includes quasi-journalistic outlets like Tech (a website providing “news, analysis, research, and commentary” that received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003), a columnist, and even religious and civil rights groups. In total, these organizations received more than $8 million between 2000 and 2003 (the last year for which records are available; all figures below are for that range unless otherwise noted). ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Lee Raymond serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees for the AEI, which received $960,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. The AEI-Brookings Institution Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, which officially hosted Crichton, received another $55,000. When asked about the event, the center’s executive director, Robert Hahn—who’s a fellow with the AEI—defended it, saying, “Climate science is a field in which reasonable experts can disagree.” (By contrast, on the day of the event, the Brookings Institution posted a scathing critique of Crichton’s book.)

During the question-and-answer period following his speech, Crichton drew an analogy between believers in global warming and Nazi eugenicists. “Auschwitz exists because of politicized science,” Crichton asserted, to gasps from some in the crowd. There was no acknowledgment that the AEI event was part of an attempt to do just that: politicize science. The audience at hand was certainly full of partisans. Listening attentively was Myron Ebell, a man recently censured by the British House of Commons for “unfounded and insulting criticism of Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientist.” Ebell is the global warming and international policy director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which has received a whopping $1,380,000 from ExxonMobil. Sitting in the back of the room was Christopher Horner, the silver-haired counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition who’s also a CEI senior fellow. Present also was Paul Driessen, a senior fellow with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow ($252,000) and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise ($40,000 in 2003). Saying he’s “heartened that ExxonMobil and a couple of other groups have stood up and said, ‘this is not science,’” Driessen, who is white, has made it his mission to portray Kyoto-style emissions regulations as an attack on people of color—his recent book is entitled Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death (see “Black Gold?”). Driessen has also written about the role that think tanks can play in helping corporations achieve their objectives. Such outlets “can provide research, present credible independent voices on a host of issues, indirectly influence opinion and political leaders, and promote responsible social and economic agendas,” he advised companies in a 2001 essay published in Capital PR News. “They have extensive networks among scholars, academics, scientists, journalists, community leaders and politicians…. You will be amazed at how much they do with so little.”

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April 28, 2011

We’re Not All In This Together – Exxon Posts Near Record Profit

by Ben Hoffman

Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. reported a $10.65 billion first quarter profit Thursday, a 69 percent jump from the same period last year that will fuel political battles over U.S. oil-and-gas policy.

The company is benefiting from higher refining margins, but also a surge in the price of oil that has led to $4 per gallon gas prices in the U.S. It’s also made oil companies a rich political target for the White House.

Exxon’s profits are its highest since its record 2008, when it posted profits of $10.9 billion in the first quarter, $11.7 billion in the second quarter, and $14.8 billion in the third quarter (and $45 billion for the year).

Major oil companies including Shell and ConocoPhillips are also reporting profit growth this week – earnings that are driving a fresh push by the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats to repeal an array of tax breaks that the administration says would be worth $4 billion in the first year.

“You know, for $4 billion, we could do an awful lot. And you know where we could get $4 billion is by ending taxpayer subsidies we give to oil companies and gas companies,” President Obama said at a Democratic fundraiser in New York City Wednesday night.

“That’s profits coming from your pocket into their pocket. They’re making enough profit. We should be investing in the energy of the future, not yesterday’s energy,” Obama added.

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April 28, 2011

Update: God Kills 200 People In Red States In Act of Revenge

by Ben Hoffman

God is really pissed at right-wingers who are destroying not only our country but the entire world. He wants people to be able to enjoy life, but conservative policies have created widespread misery and now they’re paying for it.

PLEASANT GROVE, Ala. — The death toll in five Southern states rose sharply Thursday morning to nearly 200 after devastating storms ripped through the region, spawning a deadly tornado in downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala., and leaving a trail of flattened homes and buildings in an area already battered by storms. States of emergency have been declared from Alabama to Virginia, and President Obama said in a statement that the federal government had pledged its assistance.

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April 27, 2011

God Attacks Red States As Revenge For !@#$%ing Up The World

by Ben Hoffman

Devastating storms swept through the South on Wednesday, killing at least 60 people and spawning a tornado that tore through downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala. The evening twister flattened homes and buildings and brought further damage and death to a region already battered by storms.

Across Alabama, at least 50 people were killed by storms on Wednesday alone, according to officials. The Associated Press reported an additional 11 deaths in Mississippi, two in Georgia and one in Tennessee.

The damage from the tornados was made worse by earlier storms, which left the ground so soaked that instead of the winds just snapping trees and branches, they uprooted entire trees and tossed them onto power lines, said Michael Sznajderman, a spokesman for the Alabama Power Company. He said at least 335,000 customers were without power, and with more storms on the way, “the number of outages could be as high as what we saw with Hurricane Ivan or Hurricane Katrina.”

The tornado was only the latest in a series that have struck the southern United States this week, causing heavy rains and flooding in an area stretching from Texas to Georgia, officials said Wednesday.

By Wednesday, the storms, which started Monday evening, had also left more than 50,000 people without power from East Texas to Memphis and destroyed scores of homes as the system moved east into Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The storms were expected to weaken before moving into the Carolinas and up the Eastern Seaboard on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

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The sad thing is, there was a lot of collateral damage and many innocent people are suffering — not just right-wingers.

April 27, 2011

Julianne Moore to Play Sarah Palin in HBO Film

by Ben Hoffman

Check out the first photo of Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in the upcoming HBO film, Game Change.

The actress nails Palin’s look with a bright suit, patriotic flag pin and similar glasses. She also ditched her trademark red hair for Palin’s brown style, which she wears in a look-alike updo.

Moore, in an effort to capture the true essence of Sarah Palin, plans to get a full cranial lobotomy. “It’s the only way I can convey Sarah Palin’s true persona,” Moore said.

Production begins on Wednesday for the movie, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong. Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are executive producers.

John McCain is played by a tree stump in the film.

Sarah Palin’s library is recreated in the film, which is the size of a football stadium. Sarah Palin reads all the books, magazines, and newspapers ever written, and an enormous facility is required to hold all that media.

April 26, 2011

Countdown With Keith Olbermann: June 20

by Ben Hoffman

Yep, Keith is coming back! He’ll be on Current TV and his new show will have the same name as his old show. More to come…

Watch his video

Okay right-wingers, throw your hissy-fits. 🙂

April 22, 2011

For Conservatives, the Dumber the Better: Matt Drudge Profile

by Ben Hoffman

I’ve been using the name The Drudge Retort for my blog for a few years, but I have to admit, I never looked into the background of the Matt Drudge character who provides thousands of right-wing sheep with their “news.” Well, here is a segment from Wikipedia, and it ain’t pretty.

Matthew Drudge was raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, near Washington, DC. His parents are Reform Jewish Democrats who both worked for the federal government, and he is their only child. His father, Robert Drudge, a former social worker who owns the reference site and his mother, a former staff attorney for U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, divorced when he was six. Drudge went to live with his mother. He had few friends and was an avid news reader and radio talk show fan. In his book Drudge Manifesto, Drudge reports that he “failed his Bar Mitzvah”, and graduated 341st out of a class of 355 from Northwood High School in 1984, thus giving himself, in his words, a “more than adequate curriculum vitae for a post at 7-Eleven”.

In an article for New York Magazine, Philip Weiss says Drudge was arrested on June 18, 1981, for making harassing telephone calls., and that Drudge went to live with his father on a farm on the eastern shore of Maryland. Weiss adds Drudge’s father sent him back to Washington to live with his mother, who was unemployed at the time. Drudge was placed in psychiatric treatment with Jewish Social Services and it was recommended that he be sent to a boarding school, “and if not the last choice will be a foster home” (from court papers).

Read more…

April 20, 2011

Breaking News! Marilyn Davenport Going To Hell!

by Ben Hoffman

Californian Republican Marilyn Davenport, 74, who sent out an email depicting President Barack Obama’s face on the body of a baby chimpanzee, issued an apology late Monday after a weekend of criticism. “I didn’t stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive,” Davenport’s apology read.

At a press conference, Davenport went on to say, “We all know that Negroes are very, very averse to work of any kind. The Negroes’ most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for them to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life.”

Lightening then struck a nearby tree.

“That does it…,” God spoke. “You’re going to hell, Davenport. You and the rest of your hate-filled lying ass right-wing lard-ass friends will have a special placed reserved for you in the valley of eternal torments of the damned. And don’t even think about redemption. You can go to your stupid little churches all you want and pray to Jebus, but you’re all going to rot in hell. Neener, freakin’, Neener.”

April 20, 2011

The Fall of Charlie Sheen

by Ben Hoffman

For the first time, Charlie Sheen’s Two and a Half Men co-workers describe his descent. “Gaunt,” “withered,” “strung out”—and “in denial.” Maria Elena Fernandez reports.

Not long ago, Charlie Sheen led a cushy existence as the highest-paid actor on television, making people laugh on TV’s No. 1 comedy, Two and a Half Men. But on Tuesday, the actor was the center of attention in two separate courtrooms.

In downtown Los Angeles, an upbeat Sheen fist-pumped his way through a swarm of photographers, accompanied by one of his so-called goddesses—but ultimately lost his bid for sole custody of his two children with Brooke Mueller. About 20 miles away, near Santa Monica beach, the actor’s lawyers fought to keep his $100 million lawsuit against his former bosses in a public courtroom while lawyers for Warner Bros. and the show’s producers argued for private arbitration. After six-and-a-half hours, the judge took the matter under advisement, leaving no end in sight to Sheen Mania.

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No, don’t worry… The Drudge Retort isn’t turning into a television tabloid blog, but this is an interesting story. ‘Two-and-a-half Men’ was hilarious. It ranks right up there with Seinfeld as one of the funniest sitcoms of all time.

April 20, 2011

Tax Dollars To Pay For Religious Indoctrination

by Ben Hoffman

Here we go: the privatization of the public school system. Douglas Country, Colorado, recently approved a voucher system that allows people to use public funds to send their children to private schools. In this case, a full 2/3 of those schools are religious schools.

About a quarter of the roughly 105 eligible private schools have applied to participate in the Douglas County School District’s pilot voucher program.

Douglas County School District officials said 27 private schools returned applications by the Friday deadline.

The school district accepted applications from private schools in the county as well as those within roughly 10 miles of the Douglas County border.

Of the 27 applicants, 19 are religious schools, most of which are Christian. One Jewish school applied for the program, which begins in the 2011-12 school year.

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Douglas county has one of the best public school systems in the country. Why destroy a good thing? And who’s protecting these children from religious indoctrination? Christianity is a dangerous religious cult run by a bunch of perverts.

This is just one more attack on American values and another action contributing to the fall of America as a great country.

April 19, 2011

Secret Memos Expose Link Between Oil firms And Invasion of Iraq

by Ben Hoffman

Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain’s involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair’s cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as “highly inaccurate”. BP denied that it had any “strategic interest” in Iraq, while Tony Blair described “the oil conspiracy theory” as “the most absurd”.

But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture.

Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.

The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

The minister then promised to “report back to the companies before Christmas” on her lobbying efforts.

The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq “post regime change”. Its minutes state: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity.”

After another meeting, this one in October 2002, the Foreign Office’s Middle East director at the time, Edward Chaplin, noted: “Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future… We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq.”

Whereas BP was insisting in public that it had “no strategic interest” in Iraq, in private it told the Foreign Office that Iraq was “more important than anything we’ve seen for a long time”.

Read more…