Archive for October, 2009

October 29, 2009

Free Snow Shoveling Lessons!!! Tomorrow Only!

by Ben Hoffman

We received about 1-1/2 feet of snow in the past 24 hours and this is the perfect opportunity to improve your snow shoveling skills! Learn the correct way to bend your legs when you lift and not hurt your back.

Plan on honing your technique for about an hour or so at my house and then go home and put these exciting new skills to use!

Bring a shovel and your enthusiasm!

Free Snow Shoveling Lessons
Friday Oct 30, 2009
The Hoffman Residence, 9:00 A.M.

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October 27, 2009

Are Republicans Really The Party Of Big Government?

by Ben Hoffman

Let’s look at a few recent events…

* Right-wingers believe that since ACORN has been accused of crimes, they are guilty of crimes, and should be prevented from being awarded any government contracts. In other words, right-wingers are ready to give up the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees no one shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law.

* Right-wingers believe the government should be able to tell a woman what she can do with her body when carrying a fetus.

* Right-wingers believe the government should determine who should be able to get married and who shouldn’t based on sexual preference.

* Right-wingers believe the government should determine who should remain on life support systems — not the legal guardian. (Remember Terri Schiavo?)

* Right-wingers believe the government should be able to indoctrinate our children with religion and devalue science in our schools.

* Right-wingers want to use our tax dollars to pay for religious symbols on public property, which violates the First Amendment.

* Right-wingers claim the Second Amendment includes all arms. Our founding fathers didn’t believe in a standing army in times of peace, but felt it necessary to guarantee the right to bear keep and bear arms for a “well regulated Militia” during the times when an army was necessary. Right-wingers don’t respect the wishes of our founding fathers.

* Right-wingers don’t mind our government spying on us, wire tapping our phones, or looking at our email in the “name of security.” The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

And then we have events further back in history…

* Republicans were responsible for Prohibition, which was also known as the “Volstead Act.” Andrew Volstead was, of course, a Republican.

* Republican Senator Joe McCarthy was, of course, the face of McCarthyism, which violated the Fifth Amendment on many levels.

… or maybe right-wingers just don’t like our Bill of Rights.

October 27, 2009

And Now For Some Good News: Plans Underway For “Smart” Electric Grid

by Ben Hoffman

During Obama’s election campaign, he made a promise to modernize the electric grid so clean energy sources such as solar and wind could more easily get electricity to consumers. $3.4 billion from the stimulus package will go towards that goal.

President Barack Obama will announce a $3.4 billion investment of stimulus funds to modernize the electric grid at an event in Arcadia, Fla., Tuesday, administration officials said.

One-hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and others will receive grants of between $400,000 and $200 million to help build a nationwide “smart energy grid” that will cut costs for consumers and make the nation’s electrical system more reliable.

The grants are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs – the administration did not say exactly how many – and also lay down the infrastructure to create a new renewable energy industry, one of Obama’s longstanding goals.

Source

Right-wingers have been whining that the stimulus package has done nothing to create new jobs. Taking a drive to the mountains here in Colorado over the weekend, I saw many highway projects in the works with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. There are also clean energy startups being funded by the act as well as the “smart” grid in the article above.

There are some good things happening. Things just move a little slowly sometimes in Washington.

October 27, 2009

Al-Qaeda Responsible For Baghdad Bombings

by Ben Hoffman

The al-Qaida umbrella group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s double suicide bombing in Baghdad, in which at least 155 people were killed.

In a statement posted on a website often used by militants, the Islamic State of Iraq said “martyrs … targeted the dens of infidelity”. It said it wanted to punish the “pillars of the Safawi and rejectionist state in the land of caliphate,” referring to the Shia government in Baghdad and its close ally Iran.

More than 700 people were injured in the attacks, which destroyed the justice ministry – referred to in the internet statement as the “Ministry of Injustice and Oppression” – and severely damaged the Baghdad governorate and a public works building.

Source

Our invasion of Iraq might very well be the biggest blunder in U.S. history. While it’s true that Hussein was a brutal dictator, there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq with him in power. There now IS Al-Qaeda in Iraq and only time will tell what will be the end result.

Thanks George W. Bush and all the right-wing sheep.

October 25, 2009

Georgy W. Bush’s Invasion and Occupation of Iraq: The Biggest Blunder in U.S. History?

by Ben Hoffman

Today in Baghdad, over 130 people were killed and at least 500 wounded from two car bombs. Our military forces were pulled out of Baghdad a few months ago after over six years of fighting where more than 4,000 of our soldiers have been killed. Iraq appeared to be stabilizing, but when you have a nation of religious nuts, stabilizing is always a relative term — even in times of peace.

We’ve spent about a trillion dollars on Bush’s war in Iraq and have gained little. While it’s true that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, with him in power, the country had at least some stability. What’s resulted from our invasion and removal of Hussein can only be described as anarchy. Bush had kids fresh out of college making major decisions about Iraq policy. He removed people who had a vision for the rebuilding the country and replaced them with cronies. After our invasion, he protected the oil wells but left museums and palaces to be looted.

Now our country is stuck in two wars with no good solutions, our economy remains on the brink of another depression, and we’re saddled with over twelve trillion dollars in debt from Bush’s and Reagan’s tax cuts and Republican deregulation.

October 24, 2009

Arizona To Privatize State Prisons

by Ben Hoffman

Since the Reagan presidency, the Republican’s answer to everything has been privatization. They privatized part of the military using Haliburton, KBR, and Blackwater and the result was abuse of power, fraud, shoddy work, and even murder.

Some 30 states have already privatized some of their state prisons under the assumption that it would save money. How do private prisons cut costs? They pay their employees less. A lot less. And with the lower pay comes poorly trained guards and abuse. Private prisons have a much higher rates of escapes than public prisons and the savings hasn’t gone to the states. It’s gone to the private prison companies such as Corrections Corporation of America as profits.

But ideologies die hard. Now Arizona is going to privatize their state prisons.

(Arizona) state officials will soon seek bids from private companies for 9 of the state’s 10 prison complexes that house roughly 40,000 inmates, including the 127 here on death row. It is the first effort by a state to put its entire prison system under private control.

[…]

For advocates of prison privatization, the push here breathes a bit of life into a movement that has been on the decline across the country as cost savings from prison privatizations have often failed to materialize, corrections officers unions have resisted the efforts and high-profile problems in privately run facilities have drawn unwanted publicity

Source

October 23, 2009

Obama! Stop Spending Our Money! The Deficit is $1.4 Trillion! What? It’s Not His Fault?

by Ben Hoffman

Just how much of that deficit can be blamed on Obama? There’s the 400 billion dollars from the 700 billion dollar TARP bailout — 350 of which was handed over to Henry Paulson before Obama took office with virtually no oversight. Almost 400 billion dollars a year goes towards interest on the Reagan/Bush/Bush debt.

That leaves 600 billion dollars.

200 billion dollars from the stimulus package has been spent so far. Because of the high unemployment, revenues have been greatly decreased. The money for the two wars was not previously included in the budget, but it is now.

So it’s a little dishonest to blame Obama for the massive defict.

October 22, 2009

GOING ROUGE: Sarah Palin – An American Nightmare

by Ben Hoffman

Authors of The Nation have written a book about Sarah Palin and it goes on sale next month.


The most honest, revealing account of the Palin story to appear this fall? You betcha!

Sarah Palin has many faces: hockey mom, fundamentalist Christian, sex symbol, Republican ideologue, fashion icon, “maverick” populist. But, above all, Palin has become one thing: an American obsession that just won’t go away. Edited by two senior editors at The Nation magazine, this sharp, smart, up-to-the-minute book examines Palin’s quirky origins in Wasilla, Alaska, her spectacular rise to the effective leadership of the Republican Party, and the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation’s political scene.

Source

October 22, 2009

General Paul Eaton: “Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters.”

by Ben Hoffman

“The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters. They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it. 2. Ignore it. 3. Bomb it. While our intelligence agencies called the region the greatest threat to America, the Bush White House under-resourced our military efforts, shifted attention to Iraq, and failed to bring to justice the masterminds of September 11.

“The only time Cheney and his cabal of foreign policy ‘experts’ have anything to say is when they feel compelled to protect this failed legacy. While President Obama is tasked with cleaning up the considerable mess they left behind, they continue to defend torture or rewrite a legacy of indifference on Afghanistan. Simply put, Mr. Cheney sees history throughout extremely myopic and partisan eyes.

“As one deeply invested in the Armed Forces of this country, I am grateful for the senior military commanders assigned to leading this fight and the men and women fighting on the ground. But I dismiss men like Cheney who inject partisan politics into the profound deliberations our Commander-in-Chief and commanders on the ground are having to develop a cohesive and comprehensive strategy, bringing to bear the economic and diplomatic as well as the military power, for Afghanistan — something Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld never did.

“No human endeavor can be as profound as sending a nation’s youth to war. I am very happy to see serious men and women working hard to get it right.”

Source

October 21, 2009

Right-Wing Terrorists Infiltrating Airport Securty

by Ben Hoffman

NEWARK, N.J. — A private security guard at Newark Liberty International Airport was arrested on charges of threatening Barack Obama the night before the president was to fly there.

A Continental Airlines employee reported overhearing John Brek make threatening comments at an airport coffee cart Tuesday afternoon.

[…]

Brek allowed police to search his Linden home and officers found 43 firearms, Kelly said.

Source

It’s just a matter of time before one of these right-wing nut-jobs kills someone else. Hopefully, it won’t be our president.

October 21, 2009

CNN Has a Liberal Bias? HA! Check Out This Piece Of Blantant Right-Wing Bias.

by Ben Hoffman

The headline of this CNN blog from the CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser reads

CNN Poll: Half the country disagrees with Obama on issues

It continues with: “For the first time since he took over in the White House, Americans don’t see eye to eye with President Barack Obama on the important issues, according to a new national poll.”

That sounds bad, right? A lot of bloggers are running with that part of the article as proof that people don’t support the president. But the rest of the article shows that people actually approve of Obama’s performance:

But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey does indicate that a majority approve of how Obama’s handling his duties as president.

[…]

Fifty-five percent of those questioned say they approve of how Obama’s handling his duties,

[…]

The poll also suggests that two out of three Americans say Obama has the qualities a president should have,

[…]

But seven in 10 are proud that a U.S. president won the prestigious award. (the Nobel Peace Prize)

Source

October 21, 2009

Obama Pushes For Wall Street Reform at Manhattan Fundraiser — Gets Laughed At

by Ben Hoffman

Obama, who is pushing stiff financial regulations, worked his way up to addressing the tension in the room, but he eventually criticized Wall Street in its own backyard and challenged the financial industry workers who paid $30,400-a-couple to attend the event to support his efforts.

“While I’m in New York, I want to stress something about this financial reform effort,” Obama said, pointing out that he believes the industry is “essential to a healthy economy”

“But we also know we should never again have to face potential calamity because of reckless speculation and deceptive practices and short sightedness and self-interestedness from a few.

“So if there are members of the financial industry in the audience today,” Obama said, eliciting chuckles and oohs from the well-heeled crowd, “I would ask that you join us in passing what are necessary reforms. Don’t fight them.”

Obama cast the reforms he’s proposing as ones that will benefit, not harm, the financial industry.

“This is important for our country and in the long run it will be good for the financial industry to have a level playing field in which everybody knows the rules and everybody knows the rules will be enforced,” he said.

Source

The opportunity for serious reform may have already passed. Wall Street — or at least Goldmann-Sachs — is raking in the profits and the bonuses are being passed around like cake at a child’s birthday party. With the current structure, crime does pay, and it pays very, very well.

October 20, 2009

Frontline: The Warning (how reckless derivatives trading went on unimpeded)

by Ben Hoffman

Warning: Watching this episode of Frontline may (and should) make you sick to your stomach.

“The Warning” is a Frontline episode that aired this evening about derivatives trading and the demise of our economy. The main players were Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Lawrence Summers — all Ayn Rand disciples who believed that all regulation was bad. They honestly believed that the markets would regulate themselves, even after the Savings and Loan Scandal of the 80s. They even believed that fraud shouldn’t be investigated.

The “warning” was made back in the mid 90s by head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Brooksley Born. The economy appeared to be humming along beautifully. The stock market was soaring. There was a huge surplus of jobs. We even had a balanced budget!

But it turned out, a cancer was growing. It was the completely unregulated derivatives market — a giant, multi-trillion dollar ponzi-scheme. Brooksley Born attempted to alert Congress to the pending disaster but was met with violent opposition by Greenspan, Rubin, Summers, and most of Congress. Not only was she not allowed to regulate the markets, her power to do so was taken away. And the market was further deregulated with the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 and the

Less than 10 years later, our economy completely collapsed.

But the really sickening thing about this story is, some of the people who caused the collapse of our economy are major players in the Obama administration. Lawrence Summers is now the director of the White House’s National Economic Council for Obama. Timothy Geithner, a disciple of Robert Rubin, is now the head of the Treasury Department.

Robert Rubin became Director and Senior Counselor of Citigroup during which time he earned more than 126 million dollars for his eight years of “service.” Citigroup has received 45 billion dollars from the TARP bailout money.

A lot of people have been ranting about our country becoming socialized. This seems more like corporatism to me. Something needs to be done.

First of all, we need to get rid of Geithner. Geithner and Rubin were both Goldmann Sachs alumni, which should have eliminated them from consideration in the first place. Maybe this Brooksley Born should head the Fed. She was one of the few people bright enough to see the impending disaster. And she actually tried to do something about it.

Watch the Frontline episode here .

October 17, 2009

AP Article Proves Obama Born In Kenya!!!

by Ben Hoffman

Kenyan-born US Senate hopeful, Barrack Obama, appeared set to take over the Illinois Senate seat after his main rival, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race on Friday night amid a furor over lurid sex club allegations.

Source

Right-wingers have been all over this article for the past few days as “proof” that Obama was born in Kenya. Considering they didn’t even spell his name correctly (it’s Barack, not Barrack), I’d say the article was haphazardly written and could not be considered “proof” of anything.

October 15, 2009

Greenspan Says U.S. Should Consider Breaking Up Large Banks

by Ben Hoffman

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) — U.S. regulators should consider breaking up large financial institutions considered “too big to fail,” former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.

Those banks have an implicit subsidy allowing them to borrow at lower cost because lenders believe the government will always step in to guarantee their obligations. That squeezes out competition and creates a danger to the financial system, Greenspan told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil — so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”

At one point, no bank was considered too big to fail, Greenspan said. That changed after the Treasury Department under then-Secretary Hank Paulson effectively nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Treasury and Fed bailed out Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc.

“It’s going to be very difficult to repair their credibility on that because when push came to shove, they didn’t stand up,” Greenspan said.

Fed officials have suggested imposing a tax or requiring higher capital ratios on larger banks to ensure the firms’ safety and reduce some of the competitive advantage from the implied subsidy. Greenspan said that won’t work.

“I don’t think merely raising the fees or capital on large institutions or taxing them is enough,” Greenspan said. “I think they’ll absorb that, they’ll work with that, and it’s totally inefficient and they’ll still be using the savings.”

‘Really Arbitrarily’

The former Fed chairman said while “just really arbitrarily breaking down organizations into various different sizes” goes against his philosophical leanings, something must be done to solve the too-big-to-fail issue.

“If you don’t neutralize that, you’re going to get a moribund group of obsolescent institutions which will be a big drain on the savings of the society,” he said.

“Failure is an integral part, a necessary part of a market system,” he said. “If you start focusing on those who should be shrinking, it undermines growing standards of living and can even bring them down.”

Source

I’ve been saying that for months! The government also needs to break up the huge media conglomerates. Come on, Obama. Earn your Nobel Prize! Bust some trusts!