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.

Source

September 17, 2014

Boehner Calls Republicans “Knuckleheads”

by Ben Hoffman

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said he has “a few knuckleheads” in his conference.”

“On any given day, 16 of my members decide they’re going to go this way, and all the sudden I have nothing,” he said. “You might notice I have a few knuckleheads in my conference.”

In April, Boehner mocked some members of his conference for being reluctant to vote on immigration reform. “Here’s the attitude: ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,’ ” he said.

Boehner added in his comments on Tuesday that “dealing with Democrats is one thing, dealing with the knuckleheads is another.”

Read more…

Bobby Jindal called the Republican Party “the stupid party.”

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called on the Republican Party to “stop being the stupid party” on Thursday as GOP leaders promised fundamental changes to help stave off future losses.

Read more…

September 16, 2014

100% of Burlington, Vermont’s Electricity Comes From Renewable Sources

by Ben Hoffman

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s largest city has a new success to add to its list of socially conscious achievements: 100 percent of its electricity now comes from renewable sources such as wind, water and biomass.
With little fanfare, the Burlington Electric Department crossed the threshold this month with the purchase of the 7.4-megawatt Winooski 1 hydroelectric project on the Winooski River at the city’s edge.
When it did, Burlington joined the Washington Electric Co-operative, which has about 11,000 customers across central and northern Vermont, which reached 100 percent earlier this year.

Read more…

September 16, 2014

Two Years After Reckless Tax Cuts, S&P Downgrades Kansas Bond Rating

by Ben Hoffman

News that the state’s credit rating had been downgraded put a damper on Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Pat Roberts’ Republican unity celebration Wednesday morning.

Standard & Poor’s lowered Kansas’ bond rating to AA from AA+, citing the state’s unbalanced budget caused by income tax cuts signed into law in 2012.

“The downgrades reflect our view of a structurally unbalanced budget, following state income tax cuts that have not been matched with offsetting ongoing expenditure cuts in the fiscal 2015 budget,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst David Hitchcock in a release.

S & P also downgraded the state’s appropriation-secured debt to AA- from AA.

The rating agency gave the state a “negative” outlook on both ratings and projects that the state will face serious budget woes by the end of fiscal year 2015.

Read more…

September 14, 2014

The John Crawford III Shooting: Ronald Ritchie Admits He Lied

by Ben Hoffman

When Ronald Ritchie called 911 from the aisles of a Walmart in western Ohio last month to report that a black man was “walking around with a gun in the store”, he said that shoppers were coming under direct threat.

“He’s, like, pointing it at people,” Ritchie told the dispatcher. Later that evening, after John Crawford III had been shot dead by one of the police officers who hurried to the scene in Beavercreek, Ritchie repeated to reporters: “He was pointing at people. Children walking by.”

One month later, Ritchie puts it differently. “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody,” the 24-year-old said, in an interview with the Guardian. He maintained that Crawford was “waving it around”, which attorneys for Crawford’s family deny.

Crawford, 22, turned out to be holding an unloaded BB air rifle that he had picked up from a store shelf. After Ritchie said Crawford appeared to be “trying to load” the gun, the 911 dispatcher relayed to an officer that it was believed the gunman “just put some bullets inside”

They have pleaded with Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, to release the store’s surveillance footage of the shooting to the public. Having viewed it, they say that it disproves Ritchie’s version of what led to the deaths of both Crawford and a 37-year-old woman who collapsed and died in the ensuing panic.

DeWine has said that releasing the footage would be “playing with dynamite” and prevent any trial from being fair. He has assigned a special prosecutor from the neighbouring Hamilton County to handle the case. A grand jury will begin hearing evidence on it later this month. A Beavercreek police spokesman said in a statement: “Preliminary indications are that the officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.”

Read more…

September 11, 2014

Senate Republicans Filibuster Campaign Finance Amendment

by Ben Hoffman

Republicans blocked the Campaign Finance Amendment that would give people the freedom to limit money in our elections.

Here is the text of the amendment:

Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits
on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

Source

September 10, 2014

Bush Responsible for Release of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — Leader of ISIS/ISIL

by Ben Hoffman

“Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry, also known as ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’ was held as a ‘civilian internee’ by U.S. Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was released,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “He was held at Camp Bucca. A Combined Review and Release Board recommended ‘unconditional release’ of this detainee and he was released from U.S. custody shortly thereafter. We have no record of him being held at any other time.”

In short, according to the Defense Department, the man who heads ISIS was released in 2004, long before Obama took office, and was not recaptured.

<a href="http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/jun/19/jeanine-pirro/foxs-pirro-obama-set-isis-leader-free-2009/"Read more…

September 9, 2014

The ISIL/ISIS Crisis is Purely Political for Republicans

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday will begin laying out his case for an expanded military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria when he faces congressional leaders who are averse to taking an election-year stand but are being pushed by lawmakers who want a say in matters of war.

“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later,’ ” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, who supports having an authorization vote. “It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”

Read more…

September 8, 2014

Obama is the Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower

by Ben Hoffman

It’s enough to make even the most ardent Obama cynic scratch his head in confusion.

Amidst all the cries of Barack Obama being the most prolific big government spender the nation has ever suffered, Marketwatch is reporting that our president has actually been tighter with a buck than any United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Who knew?

Check out the chart –

So, how have the Republicans managed to persuade Americans to buy into the whole “Obama as big spender” narrative?

It might have something to do with the first year of the Obama presidency where the federal budget increased a whopping 17.9% —going from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. I’ll bet you think that this is the result of the Obama sponsored stimulus plan that is so frequently vilified by the conservatives…but you would be wrong.

The first year of any incoming president term is saddled—for better or for worse—with the budget set by the president whom immediately precedes the new occupant of the White House. Indeed, not only was the 2009 budget the property of George W. Bush—and passed by the 2008 Congress—it was in effect four months before Barack Obama took the oath of office.

Read more…

September 8, 2014

Scott Walker’s 2015-17 budget shortfall balloons to $1.8 billion

by Ben Hoffman

Madison — The expected shortfall for the next two-year state budget starting in July has risen to nearly $1.8 billion, or about half of what it was when Gov. Scott Walker took office in January 2011.

Meanwhile, the state’s projected gap in its current budget ending June has risen to $396 million — or about 1.2% of the spending planned for the 2013-’15 budget.

The Republican governor resolved a more than $3 billion budget shortfall in the months after taking office, but the latest projections show the state is running through the resulting surplus. The state is again facing a gap in the 2015-’17 budget because of tax cuts enacted by Walker and lawmakers and lagging growth in other state taxes in recent months.

Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive, seized on the new projections.

“Governor Walker’s fiscally irresponsible approach and his failed stewardship of a lagging economy have resulted in a state budget picture that is a mess,” she said in a statement. “I have spent my career balancing budgets and insisting on accountability; setting priorities and getting the biggest bang for the buck. Gov. Walker has spent money we don’t have. In the business world, if a CEO created this big of a financial mess, he would be fired.”

<a href=”http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/wisconsin-state-budget-shortfall-projected-at-nearly-18-billion-b99345660z1-274364501.html”>Read more…</a>

September 6, 2014

Obamacare Premiums Set to Decrease in 2015

by Ben Hoffman

MENLO PARK, Calif. – An early look at the cost of health insurance in 16 major cities finds that average premiums for the benchmark silver plan – the one upon which federal financial help under the Affordable Care Act to consumers is based – will decrease slightly in 2015. The new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation analyzes premiums in the largest cities in 15 states and the District of Columbia where information from rate filings is available.

Premiums for the second-lowest cost silver plan for individuals will fall by an average of 0.8 percent from current levels in these cities when open enrollment begins on Nov. 15, according to the study. The analysis finds that the premium for the second-lowest-cost silver plan is decreasing in 7 of the 16 areas studied – but also that changes in average premiums will vary considerably across areas. They range from a decline of 15.6 percent in Denver, Colorado (to $211 per month), to an increase of 8.7 percent in Nashville, Tennessee (to $205 per month). In both cases premiums are for a 40-year-old nonsmoker, before taking into account any tax credit. It is important to note that rate changes may be different in different rating areas in these states.

“There is variation, but so far, premium increases in year two of the Affordable Care Act are generally modest,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser’s President and CEO. “Double digit premium increases in this market were not uncommon in the past,” Altman added.

Read more…

September 1, 2014

Journalist Arrested By Off Duty Cop For Filming Public Republican Event

by Ben Hoffman


Saturday afternoon Johnny and Kathy Burt, owners of Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville, hosted a meet and greet for Governor Deal and Republican candidates. In attendance were, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Republican candidate for State School Superintendent Richard Woods, Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Attorney General Sam Olens, 9th District U.S. Congressman Doug Collins, Candidate for U.S. Senate David Perdue and Governor Nathan Deal.

[A] comment from Hudgens [about the Democratic candidate] noticeably changed the mood in the room about Tisdale recording the event, especially for Bearden. Hudgens introduced Richard Woods. While Woods was speaking Bearden went and sat next to Tisdale, and according to Tisdale he asked her to stop videoing or she would have to leave. Tisdale told him that she was invited and would not stop. When we asked Bearden for a comment he referred us to the authorities that arrested Tisdale for a comment.

As Woods continued to speak Bearden went to Deputy Wooten for assistance. I then watched Bearden go and speak to the property owners Johnny and Kathy Burt. By this time Labor Commissioner Mark Butler had started speaking. Bearden returned and said something to Wooten. At this time both Bearden and Wooten approached Tisdale. Wooten told her she had to turn the camera off. Tisdale refused and continued to video. Wooten started to try to remove the camera from Tisdale’s hands. When she refused and struggled to keep the camera running, Wooten started physically removing her from the event. Tisdale physically resisted being removed turning the camera on Wooten screaming, “identify yourself, who are you?”

Read more…

August 31, 2014

Conservative Mayor Violates Man’s 1st Amendment Rights

by Ben Hoffman

Winter Garden Mayor John Rees, a nonpartisan official leading an Orlando suburb of about 37,000, was caught on video demanding that an audience member stand for a prayer, which thanked God for “allowing us to live in a country where we’re free to believe, think, and pray.”

The audience member responded, “I don’t believe I have to do that, thank you.” After the prayer, Rees again instructed the constituent, identified by the Orlando Sentinel as Joseph Richardson, to stand for the pledge to the flag as “children have to in school.” Richardson again politely declined.

Read more, watch video…

August 30, 2014

Another Republican Law Ruled Unconstitutional

by Ben Hoffman

A federal judge in Austin, Tex., blocked a stringent new rule on Friday that would have forced more than half of the state’s remaining abortion clinics to close, the latest in a string of court decisions that have at least temporarily kept abortion clinics across the South from being shuttered.

The Texas rule, requiring all abortion clinics to meet the building, equipment and staffing standards of hospital-style surgery centers, had been set to take effect on Monday. But in his opinion, Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court in Austin said the mandate placed unjustified obstacles on women’s access to abortion without providing significant medical benefits.

The rule “is unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a pre-viability abortion,” he wrote.

Read more…

August 16, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas Is Indicted on Charge of Abuse of Power

by Ben Hoffman

AUSTIN, Tex. — A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts on Friday, charging that he abused his power last year when he tried to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office.

The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.

Grand jurors in Travis County charged Mr. Perry with abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant, according to Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/us/gov-rick-perry-of-texas-is-indicted-over-veto-of-funds-for-das-office.html

July 27, 2014

Lawmaker to Push Bill Requiring Right-Wing Propaganda Film Be Shown in Schools

by Ben Hoffman

A Florida state senator plans to introduce a bill that would make Dinesh D’Souza’s docudrama, America, required viewing for most teenagers in the state, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Friday.

Republican Alan Hays said he’ll introduce in November his one-page bill that simply states that students in the 1,700 Florida public high schools and middle schools are to be shown the film unless their parents object.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lawmaker-push-bill-requiring-dinesh-721053