Archive for July, 2011

July 22, 2011

Oslo Terrorist is a Right-Wing Christian

by Ben Hoffman

The 32-year-old Norwegian man who allegedly went on a shooting spree on the island of Utoya has been identified as Anders Behring Breivik, according to multiple reports.

On a Facebook account that Norwegian media outlets have attributed to Breivik, he describes himself as having Christian, conservative views. He says he enjoys hunting, the games World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2, and lives in Oslo. He also lists political analysis and stock analysis as interests.

Read more…

July 22, 2011

Terrorist Group Claims Responsibility For Norway Attack

by Ben Hoffman

OSLO — Powerful explosions shook central Oslo on Friday afternoon, blowing out the windows of several government buildings, including one housing the office of the Norwegian prime minister. The state television broadcaster, citing the police, said 7 people were killed and at least 15 injured; a spokeswoman for the prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, said he was “safe and not hurt.”

Shortly after the explosions, which appeared to be a bomb attack, a man dressed as a police officer opened fire on a summer camp for young members of the governing Labor Party on the island of Utoya about 25 miles northwest of the city, and wounded at least five, a Norwegian security official said.

“The situation’s gone from bad to worse,” said Runar Kvernen, spokesman for the National Police Directorate under the Ministry of Justice and Police, adding that most of the children at the camp were 15 and 16 years old.

A terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, according to Will McCants, a terrorism analyst at C.N.A., a research institute that studies terrorism. The message said the attack was a response to Norwegian forces’ presence in Afghanistan and to unspecified insults to the Prophet Muhammad. “We have warned since the Stockholm raid of more operations,” the group said, according to Mr. McCants’ translation, apparently referring to a bombing in Sweden in December 2010. “What you see is only the beginning, and there is more to come.” The claim could not be confirmed. It is not uncommon for terrorist groups to advance claims of responsibility for high-profile attacks, only to have the claims prove to be spurious.

Read more…

July 22, 2011

Obama’s Approval Rating Hits 53% – America Loves Someone Who Will Stand Up For What’s Right

by Ben Hoffman

President Obama’s current job approval rating for May 22-24 is 53%. That’s his highest since Feb. 12-14, 2010 — more than 16 months ago. His previous high this year was 52%, reached at several points earlier this month after the May 1 announcement of the successful raid in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

Source

Obama is showing a bit of a spine with the debt negotiations. The vast majority favor a balanced approach to balancing the budget. We know that cutting spending at a time of high unemployment will result in people losing their jobs, and it will exacerbate the problem. We also realize that the government is bloated and would like it to be more efficient. We don’t want our tax dollars going towards corporate welfare. We’re tired of dumping trillions of dollars into Bush’s wars. We love our country and are willing to sacrifice in order to make it great. We want America to be exceptional again, which means fixing the problems created by Republicans. Republicans want a government that works for corporate interests. The majority of Americans want a government that works for the people.

July 22, 2011

Private Firms Take Over U.S. Space Exploration

by Ben Hoffman

Odyssey Moon Lander

Now that the last space shuttle has landed back on Earth, a new generation of space entrepreneurs would like to whip up excitement about the prospect of returning to the Moon.

Spurred by a $30 million purse put up by Google, 29 teams have signed up for a competition to become the first private venture to land on the Moon. Most of them are unlikely to overcome the financial and technical challenges to meet the contest deadline of December 2015, but several teams think they have a good shot to win — and to take an early lead in a race to take commercial advantage of our celestial neighbor.

For the Moon competition, Google put up $30 million. Of that, $20 million will go to the first team to land a spacecraft on the Moon, explore 500 meters and send back high-definition video and photos. The second team will win $5 million, and the remaining $5 million will pay for bonus prizes like surviving a frigid lunar night or traveling more than 5,000 meters on the surface.

Not all the competitors see dollar signs in the Moon. Rocket City Space Pioneers, a consortium of businesses, is using its Moon effort largely to market technology that will allow multiple payloads to share one rocket, greatly reducing launching costs. (In other words, as the lander headed for the Moon, it could drop off a few satellites in orbit.)

Read more…

July 20, 2011

Wealthiest Americans Are the Real ‘Job-Killers’

by Ben Hoffman

Paul Buchheit, a professor with City Colleges of Chicago, crunched some numbers using IRS data and found that “if middle- and upper-middle-class families had maintained the same share of American productivity that they held in 1980, they would be making an average of $12,500 more per year.” In other words, because the share of income going to the top has increased so dramatically, ordinary people have $12,500 less in their wallets today. Studies have shown that when wealthy people grab more post-tax income they’re more likely to bank it than to spend it, so much of that $12,500 also represents lost demand, and hence less jobs. Wealthy Americans’ avarice is a job-killer.

Read more…

July 20, 2011

Have You Ever Wondered When Home Lending Rules Were Relaxed?

by Ben Hoffman

Right-wingers are told to blame the sub-prime mortgage crisis on Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act, but the the real culprit was “consolidated supervised entities” program of 2004. That’s when lenders stopped asking for income verification (among other things) and started approving loans for anyone who could sign their name on a mortgage.

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a longtime proponent of deregulation, acknowledged on Friday that failures in a voluntary supervision program for Wall Street’s largest investment banks had contributed to the global financial crisis, and he abruptly shut the program down.

[…]

the S.E.C.’s inspector general released a report strongly criticizing the agency’s performance in monitoring Bear Stearns before it collapsed in March. Christopher Cox, the commission chairman, said he agreed that the oversight program was “fundamentally flawed from the beginning.”

“The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work,” he said in a statement. The program “was fundamentally flawed from the beginning, because investment banks could opt in or out of supervision voluntarily. The fact that investment bank holding companies could withdraw from this voluntary supervision at their discretion diminished the perceived mandate” of the program, and “weakened its effectiveness,” he added.

[…]

But the retreat on investment bank supervision is a heavy blow to a once-proud agency whose influence over Wall Street has steadily eroded as the financial crisis has exploded over the last year.

Because it is a relatively small agency, the S.E.C. tries to extend its reach over the vast financial services industry by relying heavily on self-regulation by stock exchanges, mutual funds, brokerage firms and publicly traded corporations.

The program Mr. Cox abolished was unanimously approved in 2004 by the commission under his predecessor, William H. Donaldson. Known by the clumsy title of “consolidated supervised entities,” the program allowed the S.E.C. to monitor the parent companies of major Wall Street firms, even though technically the agency had authority over only the firms’ brokerage firm components.

[…]

The investment banks favored the S.E.C. as their umbrella regulator because that let them avoid regulation of their fast-growing European operations by the European Union.

Read more…

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July 20, 2011

Murdochs Deny That They Knew of Illegal Acts (and Boston Strangler’s Brain Didn’t Know of Illegal Acts by His Hands)

by Ben Hoffman

In two hours of intense questioning broken only by a bizarre incident in which Mr. Murdoch was accosted with what appeared to be a foil pie plate filled with shaving cream, both he and his son James declared repeatedly that they had been shocked to discover something that has become increasingly apparent: that phone hacking and other illegal behavior were endemic at their News of the World tabloid, which is now defunct.

He did not know, for example, that his company had paid confidential out-of-court settlements of £600,000 and £1 million to two victims of phone hacking. Nor, he said, did he know that the company was paying the legal fees of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator under contract to The News of the World who was convicted in 2007 of hacking into the phones of staff members of the royal family.

James Murdoch said he had not known about paying Mr. Mulcaire’s legal fees either, and was “as surprised as you are that some of these arrangements had been made.”

Read more…

Corporations are people (as decided by SCOTUS in the Citizens United case). If the hand of a person commits a crime, no jury in the country would buy the defense that the brain didn’t know what the hand was doing and therefore the person is not guilty. Murdoch is the brain of this giant media conglomerate and if he indeed didn’t know about the phone hacking and payoffs, he should be able to find out who was responsible pretty quickly by making a few phone calls.

The buck never stops at those who are in charge when it comes to right-wing operations. We’ve seen that with the Bush administration’s Abu Ghraib scandal, banking scandal, and many more, as well as Reagan’s Arms for Hostages scandal.

July 19, 2011

Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene

by Ben Hoffman

It could be from inbreeding.

July 19, 2011

Global Warming Is A Hoax!!!

by Ben Hoffman


Source

July 19, 2011

Independents (Low-Information Voters) Most Influenced By Superficial Considerations

by Ben Hoffman

As long as there has been democratic government, skeptics have worried that citizens would base their choices and their votes on superficial considerations. A series of recent studies seems to validate these fears, suggesting that candidates who merely look more capable or attractive perform better in elections.

In this article, we examine the underlying process behind the appearance effect. Specifically, we test whether the effect of appearance is more pronounced among those who know little about politics but are exposed to visual images of candidates. To do so, we combine appearance-based assessments of U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates with individual-level survey data measuring vote intent, political knowledge, and television exposure. Confirming long-standing concerns about image and television, we find that appealing-looking politicians benefit disproportionately from television exposure, primarily among less knowledgeable individuals.

Source

Independents are also most likely to jump on the bandwagon if one candidate looks like a sure winner. These low information voters decide our elections. Right-wing propaganda convinced them that spending was out of control and that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a massive socialistic program. Any chance of winning back control of Congress next year must target these low-information voters. We don’t need to lie (as Republicans do). All we need to do is get the word out.

July 17, 2011

U.S. National Debt Facts or One of Many Inconvenient (for conservatives) Truths

by Ben Hoffman

July 17, 2011

Stimulus Facts or One of Many Inconvenient (for conservatives) Truths

by Ben Hoffman


Source: http://recovery.gov

Feel free to share this or make a better one.

July 16, 2011

What could be wrong with Bob? (Hint: Bob’s a Conservative)

by Ben Hoffman

By priernet
I once knew a guy who talked about building a machine using an electric generator and an electric motor connected in such a way that the motor would spin the generator and the electricity it generated would power the motor. He further suggested that through a belt and pulley arrangement the wheels on a go-cart could be turned to move the go-cart along. He was adamant that his theory would work. Unfortunately he did not have the manual skills or financial backing to build a model.

Bob has stopped talking about his perpetual motion powered go-cart. Today he is a Tea-partier proclaiming that reducing taxes for everyone making more than $400,000 a year, continuing corporate welfare to the oil companies, and cutting Medicare while privatizing Social Security will end unemployment, eliminate the deficit, and fill the government’s tax coffers.

Bob elects and blindly supports legislators that make foolish pledges that limit any innate intelligence, judgment, or problem-solving ability they could bring to their job. Bob is too busy and ill-equipped to understand or keep up with the political issues. He is easily confused and will likely continue to fall prey to the Tea Party blather and vote against his own best interest.

The debt problems facing our nation are serious, yet Bob’s heroes, in blind defiance, are refusing to take a balanced approach to dealing with the issues. If they keep this up we all lose, even those making more than $400,000 a year will suffer significant loss.

Source

July 16, 2011

Obama Meets With Dalia Lama – China Enraged

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama held a White House meeting Saturday with the Dalai Lama, a fellow Nobel Peace laureate, hours after China called on the U.S. to rescind an invitation that could sour relations with Beijing.

The Tibetan spiritual leader has been in Washington for an 11-day Buddhist ritual. Thousands of expatriate Tibetans joined a 76th birthday celebration Wednesday for the Dalai Lama, who’s just relinquished leadership of Tibet’s government-in-exile. Read more…

This is what has become of our once great country. We are now so indebted to China that we care about what they think about us and who our president can meet with. It wasn’t that way before George W. Bush granted China most favored nation trading status, which resulted in the massive flood of American manufacturing jobs to China. And before the Bush tax cuts, we didn’t have to borrow trillions of dollars from China to borrow money for the wars and to pay our bills.

America is in crisis. Our high unemployment is due to the flood of jobs overseas. During the 1990s, the Internet boom resulted in a huge surplus of jobs, many of which went unfilled because there weren’t enough people to fill them. We are still in the midst of a tech boom, but the jobs now are being created in China and India — not here, yet the large corporations are making record profits.

July 16, 2011

Conservatives Win, America Loses – Elizabeth Warren Passed Over as Head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

by Ben Hoffman

President Barack Obama has chosen a candidate other than Elizabeth Warren as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The president’s choice is a person who already works at the consumer agency, the person said today. Obama may make the nomination as soon as next week, another person briefed on the administration’s plans said.

Warren has been vigorously campaigning to keep the GOP-controlled House from diluting the bureau’s powers, including talking with community bankers in every state and meeting with hundreds of business and consumer representatives. Preparing for the agency’s opening, she supervised the hiring of more than 300 people.

The bureau cannot write rules to govern consumer finance until a director is nominated and confirmed in the Senate. After 44 Republican senators announced in May that they wouldn’t vote to approve any candidate to run the bureau without changes in its structure, with some calling for a five-person commission to replace the director position. Analysts said the White House might have to resort to a temporary appointment during a congressional recess. Sixty of the 100 senators are effectively required to vote for a nomination due to procedural rules. Read more…

Those “procedural rules” are a filibusters by the Republicans of nearly every single nomination put forth by Obama. They don’t want someone in there who will make substantial reforms, meaning oversight and new rules that will prevent abuses like the ones that caused the near total collapse of our economy. But what they do want is to be able to blame Obama for any future scandals and bailouts.