Archive for November, 2009

November 10, 2009

Was Our Invasion of Afghanistan A Huge Mistake?

by Ben Hoffman

There’s widespread agreement that our invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake since the rationale was based on lies and false evidence, and because it turned into a costly quagmire with little benefit to our security. But what about Afghanistan? Was the U.S. invasion justified? At the time, most of the American public trusted the president’s judgment including all but one Congressman.

While it’s true that Osama bin-Laden had been operating out of Afghanistan, most of the planning for the 9/11 attacks were done in Germany. Bin-Laden and those who carried out the attacks were from Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda consisted of about 15,000 – 20,000 rouge fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan and bin-Laden, while having been successful in carrying out several attacks around the world, had not achieved world prominence.

Film critic Roger Ebert once said about heroes and villains in movies, “Each film is only as good as its villain.” Before 9/11, bin-Laden was definitely a menace, but hardly a villain worthy of starting two major wars costing a trillion dollars and thousands of soldiers lives.

After 9/11, we had the support of the world in going after those responsible for the attack. Even Iran was on our side. Had we gone after them methodically using our newly acquired allies, we could have hunted down bin-Laden and probably destroyed al-Qaeda. Actually, we didn’t even need to hunt down bin-Laden. The Taliban in Afghanistan offered to try bin-Laden under Islamic law, which can be extremely brutal in its punishments. The trial would have been on the world stage and justice more than likely would have prevailed.

Instead, Bush decided to elevate bin-Laden’s villain status and attempt to bomb Afghanistan out of existence. The evidence shows that Bush wasn’t even all that interested in capturing bin-Laden when our military had him cornered in Tora Bora. He was worth far more on the run to the Bush administration. It elevated the adversarial value of bin-Laden and elevated Bush’s hero status.

George W. Bush had plans to go into Iraq even before he become president. Once he took office, it only took about a month before he ordered the bombing of Iraq in an effort to antagonize Saddam Hussein into war. Hussein didn’t react. After 9/11, though, Bush was a hero and had the capital to go into Iraq. He also had the capital to pass huge tax cuts that resulted in the doubling of the U.S. debt.

We’re now in our ninth year of the war in Afghanistan. Bin-Laden remains at large. The two wars along with the tax cuts resulted in huge federal deficits. Our enormous debt is a bigger threat to our country than any terrorist attack.

Had Bush accepted the Taliban’s offer to try Osama bin-Laden in 2001, bin-Laden would probably have been executed by now. We wouldn’t be stuck in two quagmires that have made us less safe. And Nidal Malik Hasan wouldn’t have murdered 13 and injured 28 at Fort Hood a few days ago.

But trials don’t make for very interesting heroes.

November 9, 2009

Reagan Brought Down The Berlin War With Diplomacy, Not Threats

by Ben Hoffman

In his January 16, 1984 address, Reagan introduced a strategy for attaining cooperation and understanding between the superpowers. The first element of this strategy was the institutionalization of superpower dialog. “We must and will engage the Soviets in a dialogue as constructive as possible,” declared the only president in forty years never to have met his Soviet counterpart. “High level consultations should become a regular and normal component of U.S.-Soviet relations.” The aim of these meetings would be to reduce the threat of war and to rectify misunderstandings. “We seek genuine cooperation and cooperation begins with communication,” Reagan announced, “In our approach to negotiations, reducing the risk of war — and especially nuclear war — is priority number one.” Notably, the president did not link these talks to changes in Soviet international behavior. This directly contradicted the administration’s earlier position on summit meetings.

Reagan’s call for dialogue held a sense of urgency, as was evident in his assertion that Washington “must and will” enter into talks with the Kremlin. The president also proclaimed, “The fact that neither of us like the other’s system is no reason not to talk. Living in the nuclear age makes it imperative that we do talk.”


November 6, 2009

Tea-bag Protesters Were Bussed In Free Of Charge By Americans For Prosperity

by Ben Hoffman

The tea-baggers like to call themselves a grass-roots organization, but they’re really an astroturf organization funded by billionaire David Koch and others. And who is this David Koch? Well, he is a co-owner of a giant oil and gas conglomerate. Surprise, surprise.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the corporate front group founded in the 1980s by Koch Industries billionaire David Koch, worked closely with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to orchestrate the anti-health reform rally today. As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, AFP has been encouraging right-wing activists to board their buses — free of charge — to attend the rally. While AFP does not disclose all of its corporate donors, foundations controlled by David and Charles Koch provide millions in yearly funding, and David continues to chair the AFP foundation and preside over AFP’s annual convention.


November 5, 2009

John “the beaner” Boehner Doesn’t Know The Difference Between The Pre-amble To The Constitution And The Declaration of Independence

by Ben Hoffman

John “the House head dumb-f*ck” Boehner spoke at Barbara “Emily Litella” Bachmann’s dumb-f*ck protest at the Capitol this morning. John Boehner spoke to the protesters about how the Health Reform bill was the biggest threat to our freedom in U.S. history.

“This bill is the greatest threat to freedom that I have seen in the 19 years that I have been here in Washington, taking away your freedom to choose your doctor, the freedom to buy health insurance on your own. … It’s going to lead to a government takeover of our health care system with tens of thousands of new bureaucrats right down the street making these decisions for you.”

Okay… as apposed to the tens of thousands of private insurance bureaucrats now making those decisions for you? Personally, I’d rather not have someone making those decisions who makes a profit by denying coverage.

Boehner went on to talk about our founding fathers. He held up his pocket Constitution and pledged to “stand here with our Founding Fathers, who wrote in the pre-amble: ‘We hold these truths to be self evident …”


Wrong. That was from the Declaration of Independence you dumb-f*ck.

Boehner has been in Washington for 19 years and he still doesn’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Well, I guess when you hate the government as much as right-wingers do, the documents our government is based on are irrelevant.

And as always, the tea-bagger protesters showed class and intelligence. Here’s one of their signs. The caption reads “National Socialist Health Care, Dachau, Germany – 1945”

The greatest threat to our freedom is not health insurance reform. The greatest threat is allowing these dumb-f*cks to vote.

November 4, 2009

Goobers Win Gubernatorial Races – Dems Pick Up Another Seat In The House (Part 1)

by Ben Hoffman

Chris Christie was elected governor of “NEW JERSEY!!?” in a close election yesterday. In a recent poll, when New Jersey right-wingers were asked if Obama was the anti-Christ, 60% said either yes or not sure. That gives a bit of insight into the intellect of the people of New Jersey.

So just who is this Chris Christie? His wife is an investment banker — you know, like the kind that brought down our economy. He was a lobbyist for New Jersey’s electric and gas industry from 1999 – 2001 and pushed for deregulation. Yeah, that was a good idea. Remember Enron? He lobbied for the Securities Industry Association to block the inclusion of securities fraud under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act. He was one of the U.S. attorney appointments as part of the Bush administration’s politicization of our justice department. Not only that, but he is related to Tino Fiumara: a major figure of the Genovese crime family in New Jersey. His brother, Todd Christie, was involved in Wall Street fraud. The attorney assigned to the case, David Kelley, received a multi-million dollar no-bid contract from Chris and surprisingly decided not to prosecute Todd. Three others were indicted, as were eleven other traders. Christie faced censure for other acts of cronyism and corruption.

Christie used a clip from Monty Python in a campaign video without permission but claimed he didn’t realize that was copyright infringement. He’s either a liar or a completely incompetent lawyer.

Great choice, New Jersey.

November 2, 2009

The Civilian Conservation Corps — Economic Recovery Act of the 1930s

by Ben Hoffman

We’re currently reliving a lot of what happened in the 1930s. The disastrous policies of Republicans led to the Great Depression of the 30s as they led to the collapse of our economy last year. So far, Obama’s policies have diverted another depression.

The first thing Obama did was pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which has saved or created 640 thousand jobs, much like FDR’s work relief programs provided jobs and training during the depression. During the 30s, a lot of right-wingers were screaming socialism and claiming our rights were being eroded just like they are now.

There’s an American Experience special on PBS tonight about the Civilian Conservation Corps — one of FDR’s work relief programs.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program for unemployed men, providing vocational training through the performance of useful work related to conservation and development of natural resources in the United States[2] from 1933 to 1942. As part of the New Deal legislation proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), the CCC was designed to aid relief of the unemployment resulting from the Great Depression while implementing a general natural resource conservation program on national, state, county and municipal lands. 4) Flood Control: irrigation, drainage dams, ditching, channel work, riprapping; 5) Forest Culture: planting trees and shrubs, timber stand improvement, seed collection, nursery work; 6) Forest Protection: fire prevention, fire presuppression, fire fighting, insect and disease control; 7) Landscape and Recreation: public camp and picnic ground development, lake and pond site clearing and development; 8) Range: stock driveways, elimination of predatory animals; 9) Wildlife: stream improvement, stocking fish, food and cover planting; 10) Miscellaneous: emergency work, surveys, mosquito control.[3] A typical CCC enrollee was a U.S. citizen, unmarried, unemployed male, 18–25 years of age. Each enrollee volunteered, and upon passing a physical exam was enrolled for a six month term with the option to serve as much as two years. He lived in a work camp, received $30 a month (with a compulsory allotment $22–25 sent to dependents) as well as food, clothing and medical care. During a six month period an enrollee gained an average of .277 inches height and 7.23 pounds.

You can also watch it online at link

November 1, 2009

The Banning of Gay Marriage: A Slippery Slope?

by Ben Hoffman

In another post, I described the big government disposition and inclination of Republicans. One of the examples was their desire to tell people who can and who can’t get married based on sexual preference. Since there is nothing illegal about what gay people do, banning them from getting married has started us down a slippery slope.

If the government can ban gay marriage, what’s next? The banning of marriage by a man and a woman of different ethnic groups and races? Or maybe the government doesn’t like short guys marrying tall girls. Or how about couples of different religions? Or even different political ideologies? Should they be able to get married? Should our government really be making those decisions?

Just because we’ve started down this slippery slope doesn’t mean we can’t put the brakes on and correct our course.

November 1, 2009

Federal Health Insurance Mandates — A Bad Idea

by Ben Hoffman

One of the controversial issues regarding the proposed health insurance reform is the federal health insurance mandates that would require everyone to purchase health insurance. This is going a bit too far. While it’s debatable whether or not the requirement is unconstitutional, it’s not a good idea.

Some argue that when the uninsured get sick or injured, the public has too pay for their treatment at hospital emergency rooms. It winds up costing a lot more than if the patient had insurance, but it costs the state — not the federal government.

Some also argue that without 100% participation, the government insurance option couldn’t be efficient; it wouldn’t have the economies of scale. While there may be some who opt out of having insurance, if insurance was affordable, most people would carry it and there would be scale. Huge scale. As it is, it’s mostly the unemployed who don’t carry insurance, and included in the proposed reform is funding for the unemployed as well as the expansion of Medicaid for those in poverty.

But what it comes down to is whether or not the federal government should require us to buy something. States do that now with auto insurance. We are required to pay into Social Security by the federal government, but that’s a safety net that protects us from poverty in our old age and if we become disabled. While everyone should carry health insurance, it should be left up to the individual states to decide if it’s a mandate. States should also be able to opt out of the government option entirely.

Let the people decide through elections.