Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

by Ben Hoffman

Creationism. Intelligent Design. Faith-based this. Trust-your-gut that. There’s never been a better time to espouse, profit from, and believe in utter, unadulterated crap. And the crap is rising so high, it’s getting dangerous.

Idiot America is not the place where people say silly things. It’s not the place where people believe in silly things. It is not the place where people go to profit from the fact that people believe in silly things. Idiot America is not even those people who believe that Adam named the dinosaurs. Those people pay attention. They take notes. They take the time and the considerable mental effort to construct a worldview that is round and complete.

The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents — for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

Read more…

June 30, 2011

Fascism Rising in America: Kansas To Shut Down All Abortion Clinics Friday

by Ben Hoffman

It’s official. Every abortion provider in the state of Kansas has been denied a license to continue operating as of July 1. As we reported last week, strict new state laws put in place this month threatened to close the remaining three abortion clinics in Kansas. The staff of one of these facilities, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park, initially thought their operation could survive the strict new standards. But on Thursday afternoon, Planned Parenthood announced that the Overland Park clinic have thus far been denied a license to continue operating—effectively cutting off access to legal abortion in the entire state. Read more…

The majority of abortions are performed on poor Blacks and Hispanics, so banning abortions will increase the poor Black and Hispanic populations, requiring more welfare, increasing crime, and accelerating the rate at which whites become a minority in the U.S. Read more…

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June 28, 2011

In Major Gaffe, Bachmann Confuses Ass, Hole in Ground

by Ben Hoffman

ARIZONA (The Borowitz Report) – In a fledgling campaign that has already produced more than its share of gaffes, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) today confused her ass with a hole in the ground during a campaign swing through Arizona.

Speaking to a group of supporters in Phoenix, Rep. Bachmann raised eyebrows when she said, “It’s great to be here in Arizona, the home of my ass.”

After her comment was greeted with confused murmurs from the crowd, Rep. Bachmann quickly added, “Oh wait, did I say my ass? I meant the Grand Canyon.”

Being unable to tell her ass from a hole in the ground, especially a prominent one such as the Grand Canyon, is only one of many challenges facing Rep. Bachmann in her quest for the Presidency, according to political science professor Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota.

“Michele Bachmann is a staunch believer in the theory of Intelligent Design,” he said. “However, Intelligent Design cannot explain Michele Bachmann.”

But Dr. Logsdon added that Rep. Bachmann remains an attractive candidate, especially for those Republican voters who find former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin “too cerebral.”

“When Sarah Palin looks at Michele Bachmann, she must feel the way the Jonas Brothers feel about Justin Bieber,” he said.

In other political news, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said today that “marriage must be defined as the union between a man, a woman, and the man’s staff member at the time.”

The Borowitz Report

June 28, 2011

Obama Reaches Deal With Congress To Ship More Jobs Overseas – WTF?

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — The White House said Tuesday that it had finally reached a deal with Congress to allow free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to move forward to a vote.

The deal includes financing through 2013 for a program that provides benefits, including cash payments, to workers whose jobs are shipped overseas. The administration had refused to submit the agreements to Congress until Republicans agreed to extend the program, known as trade adjustment assistance, or T.A.A.

“Now it is time to move forward with T.A.A. and with the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements, which will support tens of thousands of jobs,” the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said in a statement.

Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who is chairman of the Finance Committee, said that he would hold a committee hearing Thursday to consider the agreements.

Republicans issued statements that applauded the White House for moving forward with the trade deals, but said that worker benefits should be considered as a separate piece of legislation.

“T.A.A. should move through the Congress on its own merit and should stand up to rigorous Senate debate,” Orrin Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement.

Source

June 27, 2011

Second-Most Indispensable Hero of the American Revolution Was Gay: Baron von Steuben

by Ben Hoffman

Benjamin Franklin recruited Baron von Steuben to help train the American militia, fully aware of rumors of von Steuben’s homosexuality. A Prussian military genius, he trained George Washington’s bedraggled militia at Valley Forge, molding it into a powerful force that, to everyone’s amazement, fought the mighty British to a draw at the Battle of Monmouth. Many historians consider him to be the second-most-indispensable hero of the American Revolution after Washington. In fact, von Steuben’s ideas and techniques remained the foundation of the U.S. military for 150 years. Read more…

So those “patriots” who want to return to what our Founding Fathers had intended for our country might want to rethink their attitudes towards gays — especially in the military. We might be under British rule today had it not been for Baron von Steuben’s help during the American Revolution.

June 27, 2011

Planned Parenthood Fights Back Against Right-Wing Extremism

by Ben Hoffman

Four states have passed legislation defunding Planned Parenthood so far this year, but the family planning provider is not going down without a fight. A federal judge in Indiana sided with Planned Parenthood against the defunding law on Friday, blocking its implementation, and now the legal battle is moving to Kansas.

After a month of court hearings, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt decided to grant a preliminary injunction against a new law that blocks Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) from participating in the Medicaid program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services already denounced the defunding law in a letter issued earlier this month because the proposed change violates federal Medicaid rules by denying Medicaid patients the freedom to choose a qualified provider.

Pratt said the Health Department’s disapproval of the new law, which could jeopardize all $4 million of Indiana’s federal planning money, weighed heavily on her decision. Read more…

June 27, 2011

Several States Trash Constitution – Forbid Abortion After 20 Weeks

by Ben Hoffman

Dozens of new restrictions passed by states this year have chipped away at the right to abortion by requiring women to view ultrasounds, imposing waiting periods or cutting funds for clinics. But a new kind of law has gone beyond such restrictions, striking at the foundation of the abortion rules set out by the Supreme Court over the last four decades.

These laws, passed in six states in little more than a year, ban abortions at the 20th week after conception, based on the theory that the fetus can feel pain at that point — a notion disputed by mainstream medical organizations in the United States and Britain. Opponents of abortion say they expect that discussion of fetal pain — even in the face of scientific criticism — will alter public perception of abortion, and they have made support for the new laws a litmus test for Republicans seeking the presidency. Read more…

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June 27, 2011

Bernie Sanders To Call For Shared Sacrifice Today At 4:00PM – Sign The Letter

by Ben Hoffman

Dear Mr. President,

This is a pivotal moment in the history of our country. Decisions are being made about the national budget that will impact the lives of virtually every American for decades to come. As we address the issue of deficit reduction we must not ignore the painful economic reality of today – which is that the wealthiest people in our country and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well while the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing. In fact, the United States today has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth.

Everyone understands that over the long-term we have got to reduce the deficit – a deficit that was caused mainly by Wall Street greed, tax breaks for the rich, two wars, and a prescription drug program written by the drug and ins ur ance com panies. It is absolutely imperative, however, that as we go forward with deficit reduction we completely reject the Republican approach that demands savage cuts in desperately-needed programs for working families, the elderly, the sick, our children and the poor, while not asking the wealthiest among us to contribute one penny.

Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice. The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share. At least 50 percent of any deficit reduction package must come from revenue raised by ending tax breaks for the wealthy and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit large, profitable corporations and Wall Street financial institutions. A sensible deficit reduction package must also include significant cuts to unnecessary and wasteful Pentagon spending.

Please do not yield to outrageous Republican demands that would greatly increase suffering for the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. Now is the time to stand with the tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to survive economically, not with the millionaires and billiona ires who have never had it so good.

Respectfully,
Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sign the letter

June 26, 2011

Half of World’s Refugees Running From Bush’s Wars – Many Coming to the U.S.

by Ben Hoffman

America’s wars continue to account for many of the world’s refugees: 4.7m originate from Iraq and Afghanistan, almost half the world’s total, according to the UNHCR’s annual report. America also accepts more refugees for permanent settlement than any other country (71,400 in 2010).

Read more…

So not only have Bush’s wars contributed to our massive deficits, they are also contributing to high unemployment right here due to the flood of refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan. These refugees are primarily of the Muslim faith, and they are accelerating the rate in which whites become a minority in the U.S.

June 26, 2011

Despite 12% Unemployment, Republican Governor Outsources Bridgework To China

by Ben Hoffman

Next month, the last four of more than two dozen giant steel modules — each with a roadbed segment about half the size of a football field — will be loaded onto a huge ship and transported 6,500 miles [from China] to Oakland. There, they will be assembled to fit into the eastern span of the new Bay Bridge.

The new Bay Bridge, expected to open to traffic in 2013, will replace a structure that has never been quite the same since the 1989 Bay Area earthquake. At $7.2 billion, it will be one of the most expensive structures ever built. But California officials estimate that they will save at least $400 million by having so much of the work done in China.

California decided not to apply for federal funding for the project because the “Buy America” provisos would probably have required purchasing more expensive steel and fabrication from United States manufacturers.

Despite the American union complaints, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, strongly backed the project and even visited Zhenhua’s plant last September, praising “the workers that are building our Bay Bridge.”

Pan Zhongwang, a 55-year-old steel polisher, is a typical Zhenhua worker. He arrives at 7 a.m. and leaves at 11 p.m., often working seven days a week. He lives in a company dorm and earns about $12 a day.

Read more…

June 25, 2011

The Tea Party Recruitment Song

by Ben Hoffman
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June 25, 2011

The Stimulus Spending is $275 Billion

by Ben Hoffman

Right-wing pundits and politicians would have you believe that the Stimulus consisted of a trillion dollars in spending. The total Stimulus is $787 Billion with only about $275 Billion in spending. The rest is tax cuts and entitlement payouts such as unemployment benefits.

Source

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June 25, 2011

Progressives Are Today’s Patriots. Conservatives are Loyalists

by Ben Hoffman

When our Founding Fathers fought for our independence, they were standing up against the tyrannical rule of the King George III and the power of the church. America today is ruled — not by the people — but by large corporations and the Christian Church.

As did England in the 1700s, we now use mercenaries to provide a great deal of our security and fighting forces. Those mercenaries are provided by large corporations with multi-million dollar contracts. When Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776, he didn’t fight the British army; he fought mercenaries: the German Hessian soldiers.

The Church today dictates many of our laws. Take away religion and you take away the argument to ban abortion. Religious fanatics want the Bible taught as science in our schools. They want to take away funding for Planned Parenthood. They have dictated laws and that is in direct opposition to what is explicitly stated in our Constitution.

Our Founding Fathers were part of the Enlightenment Movement — also called the Age of Reason. That was a movement away from religion. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in Church and state. Those who fought for America’s independence would have been against the teaching of Creationism as science. They would have embraced the science of global climate change. They would have wanted us to be the leaders of renewable energy technologies.

The Loyalists in of 18th century America supported British rule and oppression by the Church. Today, conservatives support a plutocracy and laws dictated by the Church, which is even more dangerous. The merging of corporations and government is fascism.

Conservatives are today’s Loyalists. It’s time we took our country back — we being the people.

June 25, 2011

Indiana Law to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding Is Blocked

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled Friday that the State of Indiana could not cut off money for Planned Parenthood clinics providing health care to low-income women on Medicaid.

The judge, Tanya Walton Pratt of the Federal District Court in Indianapolis, blocked provisions of a new state law that penalized Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics performed abortions. The law, she said, conflicts with the federal Medicaid statute, which generally allows Medicaid beneficiaries to choose their health care providers. Read more…

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June 25, 2011

New Kansas Regulations Threaten Abortion Clinics

by Ben Hoffman

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One in a series of abortion limits approved in Kansas since Republicans took full control of the state government this year — a new license law — is raising uncertainty about the future of all abortion providers in the state.

Opponents of abortion say that the licenses — which newly dictate requirements for the size of rooms at abortion clinics, the stocking of emergency equipment, medications and blood supplies, and ties to nearby hospitals — will ensure at least a modicum of safety standards in a state that Troy Newman, the leader of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, said “had been the Wild West for abortionists for as long as anyone can remember.”

But abortion rights supporters, here and nationally, say the rules, which take effect next week, are onerous, have been rushed into place too rapidly and are actually aimed at ending abortion services at the only three places in the state now providing them, perhaps as early as Friday.

“These requirements range from the impossible to the absurd,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “They’re not designed to protect patient safety; they’re designed to shut down abortion providers.” Read more…