Archive for ‘Environment’

October 26, 2014

Thank Mark Udall for opposing the Keystone Pipeline

by Ben Hoffman

KeystonePipelineConservatives have been lying about the Keystone Pipeline for years. Here are some facts about it:

  • The U.S. State Department’s analysis says only 3,900 would be employed directly for construction of the Keystone Pipeline if it is built in one year or 1,950 per year if work is spread over two.
  • It would generate only about 50 jobs during operations once it’s built.
  • It would carry “the dirtiest oil on the planet.”
  • Tar sands is a form of petroleum so dense that at a temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit it is “hard as a hockey puck,” and must be heated or diluted with dangerous chemicals to be made to flow through pipes.
    Refining it into useful fuels also requires more energy — and hence more emissions — than lighter forms of petroleum.
  • Oil flowing through the Keystone pipeline would result in an increase in U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases equivalent to adding somewhere between 770,800 and 4.3 million passenger vehicles.
  • Pipelines are hazardous. An average of 97,376 barrels (4.1 million gallons) of petroleum and other “hazardous liquids” have been spilled each year in pipeline incidents over the last decade. These incidents have claimed an average of two lives per year and resulted in more than $263 million in annual property damage as well.

Read more…

Thank Mark Udall for doing what’s right for America rather than caving to the oil industry.

October 24, 2014

Studies show conservatives willingly accept lies as fact

by Ben Hoffman

gop logo

The new GOP logo

Authoritarian people have a stronger emotional need for an outlet like Fox, where they can find affirmation and escape factual challenges to their beliefs.

Studies show that conservatives are far more likely to be authoritarian followers than liberals. They hold their leaders up to be deities. Say something negative about George W. Bush and you’ll see a conservative fume. Say something negative about Ronald Reagan and a conservative will be ready to shoot you.

Conservatives deny the science of global climate change, which is supported by 97% of scientific studies, simply because they have been told to. Many claim “we don’t have a democracy here in the U.S.; we have a republic.” And of course, they are outraged over Benghazi because their authoritarian leaders told them to be.

There are many more examples, but Chris Mooney articulates them very well in his books and lectures.

This is an excerpt from Chris Mooney’s new book The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality.

In summary, then, the “science” of Fox News clearly shows that its viewers are more misinformed than the viewers of other stations, and are indeed this way for ideological reasons. But these are not necessarily the reasons that liberals may assume. Instead, the Fox “effect” probably occurs both because the station churns out falsehoods that conservatives readily accept—falsehoods that may even seem convincing to some liberals on occasion—but also because conservatives are overwhelmingly inclined to choose to watch Fox to begin with.
At the same time, it’s important to note that they’re also disinclined to watch anything else. Fox keeps constantly in their minds the idea that the rest of the media are “biased” against them, and conservatives duly respond by saying other media aren’t worth watching—it’s just a pack of lies. According to Public Policy Polling’s annual TV News Trust Poll (the 2011 run), 72 percent of conservatives say they trust Fox News, but they also say they strongly distrust NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN. Liberals and moderates, in contrast, trust all of these outlets more than they distrust them (though they distrust Fox). This, too, suggests conservative selective exposure.

And there is an even more telling study of “Fox-only” behavior among conservatives, from Stanford’s Shanto Iyengar and Kyu Hahn of Yonsei University, in Seoul, South Korea. They conducted a classic left-right selective exposure study, giving members of different ideological groups the chance to choose stories from a news stream that provided them with a headline and a news source logo—Fox, CNN, NPR, and the BBC—but nothing else. The experiment was manipulated so that the same headline and story was randomly attributed to different news sources. The result was that Democrats and liberals were definitely less inclined to choose Fox than other sources, but spread their interest across the other outlets when it came to news. But Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly chose Fox for hard news and even for soft news, and ignored other sources. “The probability that a Republican would select a CNN or NPR report was around 10%,” wrote the authors.

In other words Fox News is both deceiver and enabler simultaneously. First, its existence creates the opportunity for conservatives to exercise their biases, by selecting into the Fox information stream, and also by imbibing Fox-style arguments and claims that can then fuel biased reasoning about politics, science, and whatever else comes up.

But at the same time, it’s also likely that conservatives, tending to be more closed-minded and more authoritarian, have a stronger emotional need for an outlet like Fox, where they can find affirmation and escape from the belief challenges constantly presented by the “liberal media.” Their psychological need for something affirmative is probably stronger than what’s encountered on the opposite side of the aisle—as is their revulsion towards allegedly liberal (but really centrist) media outlets.

And thus we find, at the root of our political dysfunction, a classic nurture-nature mélange. The penchant for selective exposure is rooted in our psychology and our brains. Closed-mindedness and authoritarianism—running stronger in some of us than in others—likely are as well.

But nevertheless, it took the emergence of a station like Fox News before these tendencies could be fully activated—polarizing America not only over politics, but over reality itself.

January 18, 2013

Petition to Kick Texas Out of the Union — Please Sign!

by Ben Hoffman

kick Texas out of the Union. They are an embarrassment and should not be part of our great nation.
Texas continuously embarrasses the rest of our country by electing people who shouldn’t be allowed to run a lemonade stand, much less participate in our Congress or be elected president. They have caused far too much damage to our country and we can no longer stomach them to be elected to high levels in our government. For those reasons, and the fact that they talk funny, they should be kicked out of our Union and no longer be part of the United States of America, which many of them believe to be the “United Steaks of America.”
Click HERE to access the petition.

May 22, 2012

SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon Successful Launch 5/22/2012 HD

by Ben Hoffman

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early Tuesday morning, carrying the Dragon capsule payload that, if all goes according to plan, will dock with the International Space Station later this week.

This is the first time a private company has attempted to berth a spacecraft with the International Space Station.

This was SpaceX’s second attempt to launch the Falcon 9 rocket. A launch planned for early Saturday morning was aborted after abnormally high pressure was detected in one of the engine’s combustion chambers, causing the computers to automatically shut down the rocket’s nine engines less than one second before liftoff.

Over the next several days, the Dragon spacecraft, which separated from the rocket’s second stage fewer than ten minutes after launch, will orbit Earth and undergo maneuverability and system tests to make sure it’s fit to dock with the space station.

Then, with NASA’s approval, the Dragon capsule, which is carrying about 1,000 pounds of food, clothing and water, will attempt to dock with the ISS on Friday.

Read more…

May 9, 2012

GOP Newsletter Calls for Armed Revolution if Obama Re-Elected

by Ben Hoffman

In the “Whitehouse Watchdog” column, editor Ponch McPhee says that America cannot survive four more years under Obama, a “political socialist ideologue” who is “unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized.” McPhee argues that Americans will have no option “but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November:”


Good, that will give us an excuse to rid our country of some of these degenerates.

May 9, 2012

Tea Party Activist Threatens To Kill Claire McCaskill

by Ben Hoffman

An activist at a Tea Party Express rally near St. Louis implored the faithful in attendance to “kill the Claire Bear, ladies and gentlemen.” In a hyperbolic rant against incumbent Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, GOP activist Scott Boston exhorted the audience, “She walks around like she’s some sort of Rainbow Brite Care Bear or something but really she’s an evil monster.”

Police in the first-term senator’s home town of Kirkwood, Mo., were asked by federal officers charged with her protection to increase the local security detail. Not only is uncivil rhetoric dangerously taking society in the wrong direction, it is, incidentally, costing taxpayers money and resources. Last month, another branch of federal police, the particularly beleaguered Secret Service, investigated similarly incendiary comments against President Obama from 1970s rocker Ted Nugent.


May 5, 2012

Romney and the Republicans in a Nutshell

by Ben Hoffman

Romney and his “friends in Congress think the same bad ideas will lead to a different result or they’re just hoping you won’t remember what happened the last time you tried it their way,” President Obama told an audience in Columbus, Ohio today.

Read more…

Republican “solutions” are to give large corporations more power, allow them to pollute the environment, more tax cuts for the rich, fire government sector workers, ban abortion, oppress gays, cut spending on our infrastructure and education, and spend even more on defense. Those things do nothing to make our country better. They’re destroying our country.

May 5, 2012

How Republicans Have Stalled The Recovery

by Ben Hoffman

While Republicans are calling for tens or even hundreds of thousands more public sector workers to be axed, it’s clear that the public sector has already severely contracted even as the private sector recovers. Check out this chart (red is public sector employment, blue is private sector employment):

May 3, 2012

How Conservatives Decide Which Policies To Support

by Ben Hoffman

April 29, 2012

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.

by Ben Hoffman

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.


March 27, 2012

Massive Gas Leak in the North Sea

by Ben Hoffman

Exclusion zones have been put in place around the Elgin platform in the North Sea, which has been suffering a serious gas leak since Sunday.

Coastguards said shipping was being ordered to keep at least two miles away and there was a three-mile exclusion zone for aircraft.

A cloud of gas was reported to be surrounding the platform, which is located 150 miles (240km) off Aberdeen.

Workers from a second platform and drilling rig have been removed.

Shell has moved 120 non-essential staff from the Shearwater platform and Hans Deul drilling rig, about four miles from the Elgin, because of the drifting gas.

Read more…

Drill, baby, drill! If you want to destroy the world.

March 16, 2012

Obama Video: The Road We’ve Traveled (or the Destruction Caused by Republican Policies)

by Ben Hoffman

Republicans destroyed our economy and the world economy, allowed us to be attacked in 2001, got us into two unwinnable wars, rendered most regulatory agencies impotent (which led to the BP oil disaster), politicized the justice department, created most of the 15 trillion dollar national debt, and blocked nearly all efforts to try to fix our country’s problems. How anyone could vote for a Republican is incomprehensible after all the damage they’ve inflicted on our country.

March 15, 2012

NPR Will No Longer Balance Facts With Right-Wing Spin On Facts

by Ben Hoffman

NPR [now] commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of “he said, she said” journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being “fair to the truth,” which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.
Maintaining the “appearance of balance” isn’t good enough, NPR says. “If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side…” we have to say so. When we are spun, we don’t just report it. “We tell our audience…” This is spin!

There was nothing like that in the old Code of Ethics and Practices.

Read more…

January 25, 2012

Obama’s State of the Union Address

by Ben Hoffman

Obama needs to learn how to frame his comments a little better to penetrate America’s “bumper sticker” mentality. There are two central issues facing our country right now: high unemployment and high deficits.

The Republican “solution” is to fire government workers, allow businesses to pollute our environment, and allow banks to gamble with our money. And then when disaster ensues, they just blame it on the Democrats! Yeah, that’s good for our country!

Obama outlined his plan, which includes higher taxes on the highest incomes, which would help balance the budget and have little (if any) negative effect on the economy. Our infrastructure is in dire need of repair, and this is the ideal time to put people to work repairing it. We need huge cuts in military spending. The war on terror isn’t fought effectively with bombs; it’s fought with intelligence, which only requires a small fraction of the money required for traditional wars. We also need to repeal the Republican deregulation that caused the near total collapse of our economy, which means restoring Glass-Steagall.

If his SOTU speech was truly a political speech (as right-wing pundits claim), he would have called out Republicans on all the damage they’ve inflicted on our country. Republican deregulation resulted in the near total collapse of our economy. They allowed us to be attacked in 2001 and responded by invading and occupying two countries at a cost of thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. It took intelligence to finally get Bin-Laden — not wars. Republican tax cuts (the Republican stimulus) did little to create jobs but more than doubled the national debt. Obama’s Stimulus was 1/3 tax cuts, so why all the whining about spending?

January 20, 2012

14 Elements of Fascism

by Ben Hoffman

Dr. Lawrence Britt analyzed the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. While, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history, they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
  5. Rampant sexism.
  6. A controlled mass media.
  7. Obsession with national security.
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
  9. Power of corporations protected.
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
  14. Fraudulent elections.