Archive for November, 2009

November 29, 2009

Common Right-Wing Lies

by Ben Hoffman
  • A lot of right-wingers claim Obama promised that unemployment would not go above 8 percent if the stimulus was passed. Eric Cantor claimed: “We were promised. The president said we would keep unemployment under 8.5 percent (if the stimulus passed).”

    Here are the facts: The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan report included a graph that projected unemployment rates without the stimulus would peak at 9% and with the stimulus at just under 8%. That is not a promise; it is a projection, an estimate, a prediction. Claiming it was a promise is crazy talk. It’s like claiming the weatherman lied when he got a forecast wrong.

    Read more
  • Lie: Reagan’s tax cuts resulted in increased revenues.
    Fact: Reagan’s tax cuts resulted in decreased revenues. His tax increases resulted in increased revenues.

    1981 – the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981. The biggest tax cuts in U.S. history.
    1982 – The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. Repealed much of the tax cuts of 1981, raised unemployment taxes, doubled taxes on cigarettes, tripled taxes on telephone service.
    1982 – Highway Revenue Act of 1982 increased the gas tax through 1988
    1983 – Social Security Amendments of 1983. Increased Social Security taxes.
    1984 – Deficit Reduction Act of 1984. Increased taxes on exports and business expenses.
    1986 – Tax Reform Act (TRA) of 1986. Decreased individual taxes but increased corporate taxes.

  • Lie: Obama’s spending has resulted in a huge budget deficit.
    Fact: Obama is responsible for only a small sliver of the deficit.

    The recession resulted in reduced tax revenues and increased spending on safety-net programs. The federal debt was doubled during the Bush administration and now we’re paying almost 400 billion a year just on the interest on the debt. Obama has required Congress to pay for any new programs it passes in a restoration of the “pay as you go” system.

    Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.

    About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.


November 29, 2009

Right-Winger’s Guide To “Debating”

by Ben Hoffman
  • State your opinion as fact and provide a link to someone else’s opinion to prove you’re right.
  • Call the other person stupid. This derails the debate and the other person winds up defending his or her intelligence rather than debating the issues.
  • Throw out a bunch of talking points that aren’t related to the issue. This splinters the debate and you can use other talking points to defend those talking points.
  • No matter what the issue, look back in history until you find a way to blame it on Democrats.
  • If someone criticizes Bush or Reagan, call Obama their messiah.
  • Use the word socialist or communist whenever you can
  • When you’re proven to be wrong, accuse the other person of “drinking the kool-aid.
  • Above all else, debate with emotions because the facts are not on your side!
November 28, 2009

Senate Report Concludes the Bush Administration Let bin Laden Get Away

by Ben Hoffman

Lately, former Bush administration members have been making BIG lies about how they kept us safe. Cheney has been claiming they kept us safe for eight years and Dana Perino recently claimed there were no terrorist attacks during the Bush administration.

Not only did the Bush administration not heed any of the warnings of the impending attack, after the attack, they let bin Laden get away! Not only that, they released captured terrorist Ali al-Shihri to Saudi Arabia in 2007. He has since escaped and is now an al-Qaeda leader, responsible for the deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen as well as other murders of Americans.

Right-wingers have been complaining that Obama has taken too long to make a decision about Afghanistan — that he’s not “decisive” like Bush. I think they’d really like to see our country attacked again so they can say “I told you so.”

Here’s the article about how bin-Laden was allowed to get away:

Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says.

The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden’s escape laid the foundation for today’s reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.


“Removing the al-Qaida leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat,” the report says. “But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism.”

The report states categorically that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops at least. It says that a review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants “removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora.”

On or about Dec. 16, 2001, bin Laden and bodyguards “walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area,” where he is still believed to be based, the report says.

Instead of a massive attack, fewer than 100 U.S. commandos, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalize on air strikes and track down their prey.

“The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines,” the report said.

At the time, Rumsfeld expressed concern that a large U.S. troop presence might fuel a backlash and he and some others said the evidence was not conclusive about bin Laden’s location.


November 26, 2009

Important Legislation

by Ben Hoffman
  • 2003 – Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003

    The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (“JGTRRA”, Pub.L. 108-27, 117 Stat. 752), was passed by the United States Congress on May 23, 2003 and signed by President Bush on May 28, 2003.

    Among other provisions, the act accelerated certain tax changes passed in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, increased the exemption amount for the individual Alternative Minimum Tax, and lowered taxes of income from dividends and capital gains.

    Before the tax cuts were signed President Bush was urged by 450 economists, including 10 Nobel Prize Laureates, in the Economists’ statement opposing the Bush tax cuts not to implement his tax cuts[7]. Economists Peter Orszag and William Gale described the Bush tax cuts as reverse government redistribution of wealth, “[shifting] the burden of taxation away from upper-income, capital-owning households and toward the wage-earning households of the lower and middle classes.”

  • 2000 – Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000

    The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000(CFMA) is United States federal legislation that clarified that most ‘over-the-counter derivatives’ would not be subject to regulation by barring the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the states from regulating these products. It enacted into law, but also went beyond, the recommendations of a Presidential Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG) Report titled “Over-the Counter Derivatives and the Commodity Exchange Act.” (the “PWG Report”).

    Although hailed by the PWG on the day of congressional passage as “important legislation” to allow “the United States to maintain its competitive position in the over-the-counter derivative markets”, by 2001 the collapse of Enron brought public attention to the CFMA’s treatment of energy derivatives in the “Enron Loophole.” Following the Federal Reserve’s emergency loans to “rescue” American International Group (AIG) in September, 2008, the CFMA has received even more widespread criticism for its treatment of credit default swaps and other over-the-counter derivatives (“OTC derivatives”).

    In 2008 the “Close the Enron Loophole Act” was enacted into law to regulate more extensively “energy trading facilities.” On August 11, 2009, the Treasury Department sent Congress draft legislation to implement it proposal to amend the CFMA and other laws to provide “comprehensive regulation of all over-the counter derivatives.”

  • 1999 – Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999

    The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, (Pub.L. 106-102, 113 Stat. 1338, enacted November 12, 1999) is an act of the 106th United States Congress (1999-2001) which repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, opening up the market among banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies. The Glass-Steagall Act prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and/or an insurance company.

    The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms and insurance companies to consolidate. For example, Citicorp (a commercial bank holding company) merged with Travelers Group (an insurance company) in 1998 to form the conglomerate Citigroup, a corporation combining banking, securities and insurance services under a house of brands that included Citibank, Smith Barney, Primerica and Travelers. This combination, announced in 1993 and finalized in 1994, would have violated the Glass-Steagall Act and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 by combining securities, insurance, and banking, if not for a temporary waiver process. The law was passed to legalize these mergers on a permanent basis. Historically, the combined industry has been known as the “financial services industry”.

  • 1996 – Telecommunications Act of 1996

    The Telecommunications Act of 1996[1] was the first major overhaul of United States telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, a combination of technological change, court decisions, and changes in U.S. policy permitted competitive entry into some telecommunications and broadcast markets. In this context, the Telecommunications Act was designed to further open up markets to competition by removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to entry. However, the deregulations have led to a concentration of media ownership with fewer broadcasters competing in regional markets and the elimination of many local, independent and alternative media outlets.

November 25, 2009

Nut-Job Of the Day: Dana Perino!

by Ben Hoffman

Right-wingers are getting nuttier every day. Dana Perino made the claim on Sean “the angry nut-job” Hannity that we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during Bush’s presidency.

On Fox News, the former press secretary suggested President Obama was playing politics by refusing to describe the massacre at Fort Hood as a terrorist attack. “We should call it what it is,” she said.

“We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term,” she told Sean Hannity. “I hope they’re not looking at this politically. I do think that we owe it to the American people to call it what it is.”

What the hell was she talking about? George H.W. Bush’s term? We’ve heard Cheney make the claim that the Bush’s policies kept us safe for eight years, which also denies the attack on 9/11. These people think they can just make crap us and it will be fact. The fact is, they can make crap up and people will repeat it as fact, but that doesn’t make it so.

Obama has nominated Dana Perino to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors. That nomination needs to be retracted and Obama needs to stop trying to appease these nut-jobs.

November 24, 2009

The New Troop Surge Must Be Paid For With New Taxes

by Ben Hoffman

The biggest threat to our democracy is not Afghanistan; it’s the federal debt. We’ve passed the 12 trillion dollar mark and because of the economic crisis, the debt is increasing faster than ever. Interest alone on the debt is several hundred billion dollars a year. And the cost of the two Bush wars is about to hit the trillion dollar mark.

Because of the massive Bush tax cuts, the wars have been paid for with borrowed money. It’s time to pay for them and the only way to do that is with a temporary tax increase. That tax increase must cover yearly expenditures plus money to pay off the money we’ve already borrowed.

Obama’s plan to increase troops in Afghanistan will include a tax increase to pay for the increase in spending — some $40 million dollars per troop, but that’s not good enough. It should cover the entire cost of the war — not just the increase.

November 23, 2009

Denver Billboard Calls Obama a Jihad, Questions His Residency, References Ft. Hood

by Ben Hoffman

I caught this story on the Ed show this evening. An owner of a car dealership in a suburb just outside of Denver put up the following billboard:

Okay, first of all, the nouns don’t match. Obama is the president, but a person can’t be a jihad. A jihad is a religious war. He could be a jihadist, I guess, but Obama’s not really very religious. Bush was probably more of a jihadist. He thought God told him to invade Iraq. It was probably more like the nuts who claim to have seen UFOs, though. Those stories always begin with “we were sitting on the front porch drinking beer…”

But back to the billboard. Okay, the creator of the billboard, Jeff Wolf, believes Obama is a religious nut and he doesn’t believe our president was born in the U.S. But what’s the reference to the Ft. Hood shooting. The billboard reads “WAKE UP AMERICA! REMEMBER FT. HOOD” Is he blaming Obama for the Ft. Hood shootings? Sure, why not? Right-wingers are blaming Obama for the failed economy, the enormous federal debt, the two wars, and who knows what else. Why not blame him for the Ft. Hood shootings?

“I think the sign’s great. It’s showing what is true,” a right-winger commented. Hmmmm… Obviously a Glenn Beckite.

“I believe in it enough. I believe in America enough that I think it’s worth the risk,” Wolf said.

Evidently, Wolf believes in America enough to spread lies, rumors, and innuendos about our president. What a noble American! I don’t think I’d buy a car from this guy.

Read the story here

November 23, 2009

The Reagan/Bush Federal Debt Is Bankrupting Our Country

by Ben Hoffman

With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.

In concrete terms, an additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The potential for rapidly escalating interest payouts is just one of the wrenching challenges facing the United States after decades of living beyond its means.

The surge in borrowing over the last year or two is widely judged to have been a necessary response to the financial crisis and the deep recession, and there is still a raging debate over how aggressively to bring down deficits over the next few years. But there is little doubt that the United States’ long-term budget crisis is becoming too big to postpone.


Right-wingers have been trying to lay the blame for the debt on Obama, but the bulk of the debt was the result of Reagan’s and Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Reagan tripled the federal debt and Bush doubled it.

The only way out of this mess is to raise taxes on the wealthy. There’s nothing wrong with working hard and becoming a millionaire, but many of the uber-wealthy haven’t acquired their wealth by creating anything of value; they’ve done it by gaming our system. People like Stephen J. Hemsley are paid over five million a year from health insurance premiums — or more specifically, by raising health insurance premiums and denying coverage.

And then we have the massive bonuses and salaries paid to Goldman Sachs executives — the very people who helped bring our country to the brink of another great depression. Again, these people made their fortunes by gaming our system, and when the system went belly-up, they got bailed out using borrowed money that is paid for with our tax dollars.

The biggest threat to our country is not terrorism; it’s the debt. Right-wingers defend the very people who have bankrupted our country and now are trying to blame Obama. That makes them complicit because they’re blocking any action or reform to fix the problem. It’s all political. They love their party more than they love their country, and their “love” of their country takes the form of extreme nationalism. Fascist dictators throughout history have used extreme nationalism to gain power. We were heading in that direction under the Bush administration with the rubber stamp Republican Congress and came dangerously close. The 2006 elections saved us this time. Next time we might not be so lucky.

November 19, 2009

Palin Says We Need To Impose Sanctions On Iraq. Yikes!

by Ben Hoffman

Palin: Crack Down On ‘Iraq’ To Prevent Nuclear Iran

She also pronounces Ahmadinejad’s name wrong.

Sarah Palin has no understanding of foreign policy, economics, law, or pretty much anything that would even remotely qualify her to serve in public office. But she espouses love of God and country and that makes her good enough for right-wingers. She’s one of them.

It makes right-wingers feel good to see just an average Joe (or Jane in this case) in the national spotlight. It elevates their sense of self-worth. That’s why right-wingers loved George W. Bush. Although he came from a wealthy family, he showed them a facade of being just an ordinary guy without much education. And he was president. He was THEIR president. And that made them feel good.

With Obama, right-wingers see a highly educated, articulate, professor type, and that makes them uncomfortable. The fact that he’s black makes it even worse for their self-esteem. After all, they used to be able to blame their problems on poor people — mainly minorities, but now there’s a minority in the White House! It’s no wonder they’re so upset.

November 18, 2009

College Not Necessarily An Indicator For A Country’s Innovation And Economic Well Being

by Ben Hoffman

As this chart shows, Russia is ranked number one for pecentage of 25-34 year olds with higher degrees. Canada is second. Yet you don’t hear of a whole lot of innovation coming out of those countries. Russia is probably number one for computer espionage, hacking, virus creation, and other unsavory activities, and that could be considered innovation, but not exactly something a country should aspire to.

The U.S. in ranked 12th.

Do these rankings indicate the health or potential for innovation? We’ll try to find an answer to that question in the next post.

November 15, 2009

Palin’s Book Full Of Lies: “What Did You Expect? She’s A Conservative!”

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON – Sarah Palin’s new book reprises familiar claims from the 2008 presidential campaign that haven’t become any truer over time.

Ignoring substantial parts of her record if not the facts, she depicts herself as a frugal traveler on the taxpayer’s dime, a reformer without ties to powerful interests and a politician roguishly indifferent to high ambition.

Palin goes adrift, at times, on more contemporary issues, too. She criticizes President Barack Obama for pushing through a bailout package that actually was achieved by his Republican predecessor George W. Bush — a package she seemed to support at the time.


To quote myself after hearing that Palin’s book should be in the fiction section: “What Did You Expect? She’s A Conservative!”

November 14, 2009

36% Of Weapons U.S. Sent To Afghanistan Are Missing

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON (CNN) — More than one-third of all weapons the United States has procured for Afghanistan’s government are missing, according to a government report released Thursday.

The U.S. military failed to “maintain complete inventory records for an estimated 87,000 weapons — or about 36 percent — of the 242,000 weapons that the United States procured and shipped to Afghanistan from December 2004 through June 2008,” a U.S. Government Accountability Office report states.

The Defense Department spent roughly $120 million during that period to acquire a range of small arms and light weapons for the Afghan National Security Forces, including rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.


The military is unable to provide serial numbers for 46,000 of the missing 87,000 weapons, the report concludes. No records have been maintained for the location or disposition for the other 41,000 weapons.

What this means is, the insurgents we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan may be using our weapons to kill our troops. This is crazy. There were similar problems in Iraq with missing weapons, not to mention, 9 billion dollars unaccounted for.

It’s time to start looking back. There needs to be some accountability. We are a country of laws and no one is above the law, including the president.

November 13, 2009

Emotionalism vs. Pragmatism or Republican vs. Democrat – Part 1: Trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed In Civilian Court

by Ben Hoffman

There has been a lot of criticism of the decision by Eric Holder to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a N.Y. civilian court rather than in a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay. (Contrary to right-wingers, Barack Obama didn’t make that decision.)

Holder was on the News Hour this evening and Jim Lehrer asked Holder to explain his decision. Holder consulted with a lot of people (no, Obama wasn’t one of them) and came to his decision after weighing all options. It wasn’t an easy decision. Despite all the evidence against Mohammed, there are many legal problems involved since he was tortured into talking. The confessions probably won’t be allowed to be used and Mohammed’s legal defense will surely focus on the issue of torture.

Trying Mohammed in a public criminal trial has the possibility of turning Mohammed into some kind of hero among Islamic extremists. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to see our legal system in action and no matter what the crime, everyone in the United States is granted due process of the law. This view requires some level of confidence in our legal system.

There is little to no chance that Mohammed could be found not guilty, but if he were, he would simply be charged with other crimes and would never be allowed to walk free.

News Hour commentators Mark Shields and David Brooks commented on Holder’s decision. Brooks made the case that the 9/11 attack was an act of war. That may be the whole problem with how we’ve handled the aftermath of 9/11. The Afghan government offered to try Osama bin-Laden in Islamic court immediately after the attack but George Bush turned down the offer. Now, eight years after the attack, bin-Laden remains at large. Instead, we waged war on the people of Afghanistan and probably created more terrorists than we’ve killed.

Imagine having a war fought in your name. The war in Afghanistan was a war on one man: Osama bin-Laden. Had we taken the other route — that of treating the 9/11 as a crime — bin-Laden wouldn’t have been elevated to the hero status of radical Islamics. He also wouldn’t have been elevated to the villain status which propelled Bush to hero status in the eyes of many here in the United States, mainly due to his emotional rhetoric. “You can run but you can’t hide.” “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” “If America shows weakness and uncertainty, the world will drift toward tragedy. That will not happen on my watch.” These were the words Bush used in some of his speeches.

What if, instead, we did as Bill Clinton did with the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 and treated this as a crime rather than a war? Bin-Laden probably would have been lynched after a speedy trial. We could have used our newly formed alliance with nearly every country on earth to stamp out Islamic terrorism. We could have saved a trillion dollars that we’ve spent on the two wars, not to mention the nearly 5,000 lives of American soldiers and the 100s of thousands of Iraqi and Afghanistan civilian lives.

Of course, had we treated the 9/11 attack as a crime, right-wingers wouldn’t have gotten that warm and fuzzy feeling they get when they can hate and when they feel like they’re getting some kind of revenge. It goes back to the inferiority complex of a right-winger.

November 12, 2009

Bush Unveils Institute And Think Tank – No, This Is Not From The Onion!

by Ben Hoffman

This is hilarious! A Bush think tank! lol!

In a speech at the institute today, Bush announced “The center will be a platform for us to continue our public service for the rest of our lives.”

Great. How about helping out another country for a while. America can’t survive any more of your help.

He said the institute will deal with an array of public policy issues, foreign and domestic, focusing on four broad areas including education, global health, freedom, and economic growth.

Well, since Bush is ALWAYS wrong, all we have to do is do the opposite.


November 10, 2009

George W. Bush Was Responsible For The Ft. Hood Shootings

by Ben Hoffman

The FBI knew that Nidal Malik Hasan had contact with al-Qaeda and was an extreme risk, but the military wasn’t alerted.

Much of the blame for 9/11 can be placed on poor communication between various agencies. They weren’t sharing intelligence information. Many problems incurred during the response to the attacks were also due to communication problems.

Bush vowed to remedy those problems but after over eight years, very little has been done. Intelligence never was given much importance in the Bush administration.

As with 9/11, there were plenty of warnings with the Ft. Hood shootings: Hasan made threats on the internet, he attended the same mosque at the same time as two of the 9/11 hijackers, and one of his projects in medical school stated the war on terror was a war against Islam. That’s all we know about so far.

So how is it that there were so many warning signs but Hasan was still scheduled to deploy to Iraq? Bad communication, mainly. Bush didn’t do his job. Perhaps Obama will recognize this as a high priority and do something.