Archive for January, 2010

January 29, 2010

Obama Visits House Republican Retreat – Ruins Their Vacation

by Ben Hoffman

As promised in his State of the Union Address, President Obama met with House Republicans for a question and answer session. The Republicans used all their talking points and lies and Obama knocked them down, one by one. Even after a year of dealing with the skunks, Obama still has hope that everyone can work together in peace and harmony. What he doesn’t realize is that right-wingers have nothing to offer but fear and hatred, so they’re not going to try to work with Democrats on anything.

Anyway, here’s the video… (The audio gets better after a minute or two)

President Obama Full Q&A

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January 29, 2010

Thanks To The SCOTUS Decision, Hugo Chavez Can Now Run Political Ads In The U.S.

by Ben Hoffman

Yep, Hugo Chavez can now pour millions of dollars into political campaigns in United States elections. If there’s a candidate who’s unfriendly to Venezuela, Chavez can run commercials on TV bashing him or her in an effort to influence the election.

CITGO was purchaced by the Venezuelan government-owned Petróleos de Venezuela in 1990, and since corporations are entitled to free speech, CITCO can finance political campaigns promoting the candidate of their choosing or to defeat candidates they don’t like.

The Saudi government also owns companies in the U.S, so they have the same rights of “free speech.” Same for China and many other countries.

The issue was raised by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent in the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: “It would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans.”

As President Obama said in his State of the Union address the other night, “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.”

Sometimes it takes a radical push from one side to get real reform. Maybe we’ll get some real campaign finance reform as a result of this radical ruling from the activist right-wing Supreme Court judges.

January 27, 2010

Elizabeth Warren: Change We Can Believe In

by Ben Hoffman

Barack Obama had a pretty mediocre first year, mainly because he continued many of the Bush administration policies and tried to work with the obstructionist Republicans, whose only desire is bringing down the Obama administration.

It’s not too late for Obama to get on track, but that means real change. Timothy Geithner needs to go for one, and Elizabeth Warren would be a great replacement. She would also be a good fit for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, since Ben Bernanke confirmation is up in the air.

I’ll write more on Warren in the next few days.

Elizabeth Warren

January 27, 2010

Obama’s First Year As President

by Ben Hoffman

Barack Obama took office during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He got off to a good start in February when he signed the $787 billion stimulus bill. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created or saved 800,000 to 2.4 million jobs. This is probably his greatest accomplishment so far.

In March, he signed into law major changes to the credit card industry, but we’re still not back to where we were before deregulation by the Bush administration.

He eliminated some wasteful spending, such as the F-22 Raptor program. He signed some equal rights protection bills, expanded SCHIP, protected wilderness areas, and improved transparency in government. He also eased restrictions on federal money for embryonic stem cell research.

But he could have done a lot more. Where is the major reform of the banking industry? Where is the trust busting? Why is Geithner still head of the Treasury? Where are the tax increases on billionaires to bring down the deficit? And where are the prosecutions of the Bush crime family?

As Shakespeare wrote: “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”.

Obama had the opportunity for greatness, but instead he chose the path of least resistance. What that got him was venom from the right-wing and disillusionment from the left. Few people are happy with Obama, but it’s not too late for him to be the real progressive we voted for.

We’ll see what he has to say about it this evening in his State of the Union address.

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January 26, 2010

Obama Administration Gets Good Grades For National Security

by Ben Hoffman

While there are still problems with the Homeland Security structure created by the Bush administration, Obama has received several ‘A’s and ‘B’s on their report card. From the report:

Conduct a comprehensive review of the domestic program to secure dangerous pathogens. A
Develop a national strategy for advancing bioforensic capabilities. A
Propose a new action plan for achieving universal adherence to the Biological Weapons Convention. B+
Strengthen the nonproliferation regime. B
Review cooperative nuclear security programs. B+
Designate a White House principal advisor for WMD proliferation and terrorism. A-
Create a more efficient and effective policy coordination structure by restructuring the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council. A-
Practice greater openness of public information so that citizens better understand the WMD threat. B-
   

The report card also gave a few Fs for failures to correct problems by the Bush administration — problems that the Bush adminstration failed to address, even after they allowed our country to be attacked, and that they had over seven years to address. Read more here.

Note: this post is as “fair and balanced” as the coverage Fox “news” gave this report card. 🙂

January 26, 2010

Obama: “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president”

by Ben Hoffman

Barack Obama told ABC’s World News anchor Diane Sawyer that he’d “rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” Source

Let’s take a look at Obama’s first year accomplishments.

After some two trillion dollars in bailouts including the 700 billion dollar TARP giveaway, there has yet to be any real banking regulation put in place to prevent another collapse. Obama should have immediately pushed for the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, which was repealed in the late 90s. Its repeal allowed banks to become high-stakes gamblers.

There were numerous laws broken by the Bush administration, yet there has been no action taken. Obama claimed he didn’t want to look back. Well, we are a country of laws and criminals need to be prosecuted.

The push to get the costs of health insurance reform down was a noble cause, but the current bill being considered will do little to reduce costs and is really just a giant giveaway to the insurance industry. All the work trying to get a few Republicans on board was a waste of time and ruined any chance for real reform. Republicans have no desire to reform the health insurance industry. Their only objective is to bring down the Obama administration, just like they did with Clinton.

The “too big to fail” corporations that were bailed out have gotten even bigger. They are reaping record profits while the rest of the country suffers. There needs to be some trust busting going on to break up these banking giants.

There has yet to be any election reform, which is desperately needed to assure honest elections. Now, with the recent SCOTUS right-wing activist judges’ ruling, our democracy is in even greater peril.

And where’s the leadership we thought we were getting? The general public responds to rhetoric. Ronald Reagan was one of our worst presidents, but because of his powerful speaking skills, people consider him to be a great president. He was a horrible president but a great orator.

So far, Obama has been a very mediocre president. I guess he’s shooting for a second term.

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January 24, 2010

Keith Olbermann Special Comment: Freedom Of Speech Has Been Destroyed

by Ben Hoffman
January 23, 2010

Cowardice and Politics

by Ben Hoffman

To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.

~Confucius

The Democrats are cowards and the Republicans don’t know what’s right. So where does that leave us? Up shit creek without a paddle, that’s where.

January 22, 2010

The Supreme Court Ruling Is One More Step Towards Fascism

by Ben Hoffman

Another name for fascism is corporatism, and that’s exactly where we’re heading. Corporate influence has prevented Congress from crafting a legitimate health insurance reform bill. The current Senate bill will do little to bring down costs, but is a giant gift for the insurance industry. Now, thanks to the corporatist right-wing SCOTUS chief justice, corporations will have even more influence.

Take for example the recent bailout of Wall Street. The TARP package had to be approved by Congress. Say a few Congressmen were holding up passage of the bill. Had the new rules — or lack of rules — been in place back then, the giant banks could have issued threats that they would spend millions of dollars to defeat those who were blocking the bailouts.

Here’s an article from 2001 that predicted our current path:

By Chris Floyd

11/10/2001″Moscow Times” — — It won’t come with jackboots and book-burnings, with mass rallies and fevered harangues. It won’t come with “black helicopters” or tanks on the street. It won’t come like a storm, but like a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality has taken its place.

As in Rome, all the old forms will still be there: legislatures, elections, campaigns – plenty of bread and circuses for the folks. But the “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small group of nobles who rule largely for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among this elite, and a degree of free debate will be permitted, within limits; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to govern or influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized – usually by “the people” themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by an impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, not thoughtful citizens, and left ignorant of current events by a media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

The rulers will often act in secret. For reasons of “national security,” the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, the murder of “enemies” selected by the leader, undeclared war, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new “security structures” targeted at the populace. In time, all this will come to seem “normal,” as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone.

Source

Read the full article about the move towards fascism during the Bush administration.

Fascism and totalitarianism reared its ugly head during the 90s when Republicans tried to remove the popular Democratic president from office. The ironic thing is Bill Clinton also did his part to promote corporatism with deregulation of of media ownership and the signing of deregulation that led to the collapse of our economy.

Right-wingers like to complain about elements of socialism in the Democratic agenda. That’s nothing compared to the fascist elements in the Republican party.

The SCOTUS ruling will be catastrophic for small to medium sized businesses that compete with large corporations. Those with the money will influence legislation to make it even harder to compete. It won’t be long before minimum wage laws are eliminated. Regulations that protect the safety of workers will be weakened. We’ll see more and more corporate welfare.

John Roberts should be impeached. When testifying before Congress, he promised to respect precedent. Instead, he is one of the most radical activist Supreme Court judges we’ve ever had. He lied to Congress and lied to the American people. That is a crime and an impeachable offense.

The N.Y. Times yesterday published an editorial entitled The Court’s Blow to Democracy about the radical SCOTUS ruling. Read it here

January 21, 2010

Activist Right-Wing SCOTUS Judges Overturn Decades Old Campaign Spending Limits

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads.

Source

The biggest problem with our elections is there’s too much money involved, and candidates become indebted to these big spenders, so what does SCOTUS do? The allow for even more spending!

Critics of the stricter limits have argued that they amount to an unconstitutional restraint of free speech, and the court majority apparently agreed.

“The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion, joined by his four more conservative colleagues.

However, Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting from the main holding, said, “The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.”

There are restrictions to freedom of speech. You can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded movie theater, you can’t slander someone, you can’t cause a public disturbance… There may be ways of fixing this, like requiring ads to display who paid for them.

January 20, 2010

The Real Reason Our Country Is Doomed: We Allow Idiots To Vote!

by Ben Hoffman

Part of why the guy with the truck won In Massachusetts was because Democrats were unenthusiastic about what’s-her-name and didn’t vote, but let’s take a look at reasons why people voted for Brown.

A majority of Obama voters who switched to Brown said that “Democratic policies were doing more to help Wall Street than Main Street.” A full 95 percent said the economy was important or very important when it came to deciding their vote.

The Republicans destroyed our economy and wrote legislation that allowed banks to become high stakes gamblers with our money. So what do the voters expect to accomplish by electing another Republican?

In a somewhat paradoxical finding, a plurality of voters who switched to the Republican — 37 percent — said that Democrats were not being “hard enough” in challenging Republican policies.

So let me get this straight… Democrats aren’t fighting hard enough against Republicans and that’s their reason for voting for a Republican?

The poll also upends the conventional understanding of health care’s role in the election. A plurality of people who switched — 48 — or didn’t vote — 43 — said that they opposed the Senate health care bill. But the poll dug deeper and asked people why they opposed it. Among those Brown voters, 23 percent thought it went “too far” — but 36 percent thought it didn’t go far enough and 41 percent said they weren’t sure why they opposed it.

36% thought health care reform didn’t go far enough, so they voted for the candidate who wants to kill reform all together? And then we have the low information crowd who make up 41% of people who switched. They don’t know why they feel the way they do; they just do. These are probably the “independent” voters who’s opinions change with the prevailing winds.

Source

We’re doomed!!!

January 19, 2010

“Democrats are in the nurse’s office because they glued their balls to their thighs.”

by Ben Hoffman

Is anybody else completely fed up with the Democrats in Congress and the President? John Stewart did a great bit about the Massachusetts election today:

“If this lady loses, the health care reform bill that the beloved late senator considered his legacy, will die. And the reason it will die… is because if Coakley loses, Democrats will only have an 18 vote majority in the Senate, which is more than George W. Bush ever had in the Senate when did whatever the fuck he wanted to.”

“It’s not that the Democrats are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing chess. It’s that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are in the nurse’s office because once again they glued their balls to their thighs.”

Watch the full video here.

Obama got off to a good start last year by passing the stimulus bill, which — contrary to the lies right-wingers pulled out of their asses — did indeed create and save a lot of jobs. It may have kept us out of another depression.

On the other hand, the health insurance reform effort has been a joke. Rather than go with simple reform, like limiting the amount of money insurance companies can use for administration, or even just prohibiting them from denying coverage if somebody gets sick, they create a thousand page monstrosity that’s a giant giveaway to the insurance companies.

I think a better metaphor would be: the Democrats are playing chess and the Republicans are playing dodge ball.

Pathetic.

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January 16, 2010

Scott Brown On The Issues: No Answers To The Problems Facing America

by Ben Hoffman

The Senate race in Massachusetts is too close to call. The gut-instinct voters see Scott Brown as a likable, intelligent, articulate candidate, and their gut-instincts tell them to vote for him. Many of the so called “independents” who’s direction is determined by the prevailing winds are also leaning towards this so-called moderate.

Let’s look at Scott Brown on the issues. I’m taking these directly from his website http://brownforsenate.com/issues

Health Care

Scott Brown is against the insurance reform legislation under consideration in Congress and will vote against it. He says “It will raise taxes, increase government spending and lower the quality of care, especially for elders on Medicare.”

It’s true that the legislation will raise taxes and increase government spending. All government programs increase spending and rather than borrow the money, taxes need to be increased to pay for it. But is that such a bad thing. If we’re paying less for insurance but more in taxes, as long as the tax increase is less than the insurance savings, we’re ahead.

The last part of that statement is a lie. There’s nothing in the legislation that will lower the quality of care. He’s using scare tactics to try to win votes, which is a common tactic of the right-wing. Republicans want a scared populace. Their’s is the party of emotions, and overly emotional people are often irrational.

Scott Brown claims he “support(s) strengthening the existing private market system with policies that will drive down costs and make it easier for people to purchase affordable insurance.” He offers no ideas for how to accomplish that, though. Republicans have no real desire to reform health insurance to make it more affordable.

Economy

Brown says: “I am a free enterprise advocate who believes that lower taxes can encourage economic growth. Raising taxes stifles growth, weakens the economy and puts more people out of work. Our economy works best when individuals have more of their income to spend, and businesses have money to invest and add jobs.”

Scott should read the news once in a while. It was the free enterprise policies that brought down our economy. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in the 1999 allowed banks to become high-stakes gamblers. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 allowed speculators to drive up the price of oil and food, which contributed to the destruction of our economy. Every time there is irresponsible deregulation, it is the American public that foots the bill. The same thing happened back in the 1980s with Reagan’s deregulation and the subsequent S&L scandal and bailout.

Scott repeats the same tired right-wing mantra that “lower taxes encourage economic growth.” That is only true if taxes are stifling the economy, which very seldom is the case. Bush was able to use the “war on terror” to push through his massive tax cuts, but they had little positive effect on the economy. On the contrary: they doubled the national debt. Clinton, on the other hand, raised taxes, and what followed was a huge economic boom. Reagan cut taxes, which did little to spur economic growth. We had a mini tech boom back in the 80s with the PC, VCR, and other technological advancements resulting in job creation here in the U.S. Remember the days when things were made here in America?

Energy and Environment

Brown says: “In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Scott claims, “I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities.”

Reasonable and appropriate? How about a fast paced plan that will spur economic growth? Few people want nuclear power plants in their regions, and hydroelectric facilities often damage the environment. So on energy and the environment, Scott has no ideas.

Education

Brown says: “I am passionate about improving the quality of our public schools. Accountability and high standards are paramount. I support choice through charter schools, as well as the MCAS exam as a graduation requirement. I have worked to ensure that all children have access to a quality education. I am a strong advocate for the METCO program, which provides lower income students with broader educational opportunities.”

What about higher education? We need a highly skilled work force. That means college education. Colleges and universities have become too expensive for many young people and students are graduating 10s of thousands of dollars in debt. How about some ideas on how to reduce costs for higher education? An educated work force will bring jobs back to America that have been outsourced to countries like India.

Immigration

Brown says: “I oppose amnesty, and I believe we ought to strengthen our border enforcement and institute an employment verification system with penalties for companies that hire illegal immigrants.”

How about going after companies that hire illegal aliens?

And finally, Scott Brown on foreign policy. He claims, “I support the bi-partisan Iran sanctions bill and believe that until Ahmadinejad gives up his nuclear ambitions he should be isolated from the rest of the world.”

Ahmadinejad is not the head of Iran’s military. That would be the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In other words, Brown is clueless when it comes to foreign policy.

Like almost all Republicans, Scott Brown has no answers — only the same old ideology that has destroyed our economy. Vote for America. Vote Democrat.

January 14, 2010

Barack “The Rock” Obama Tells Banks: “We Want Our Money Back”

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama told banks Thursday they should pay a new tax to recoup the cost of bailing out foundering firms at the height of the financial crisis. “We want our money back,” he said.

In a brief appearance with advisers at the White House, Obama branded the latest round of bank bonuses as “obscene.” But he said his goal was to prevent such excesses in the future, not to punish banks for past behavior.

The tax, which would require congressional approval, would last at least 10 years and generate about $90 billion over the decade, according to administration estimates. “If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses, they are surely in good enough shape to afford paying back every penny to taxpayers,” Obama said.

Source

Of course, right-wingers will be outraged that capitalism isn’t allowed to reign free and Republicans will vote against it because they vote against all tax increases. Some two trillion dollars has been spent by our government over the past few years to help out the banking sector. This is only $90 billion. There needs to be far more tax increases to recoup our money. Glass-Steagall needs to be reinstated. Commodity trading needs to be re-regulated.

January 13, 2010

A Moderate In The Repubican Party? Not so much.

by Ben Hoffman

While Senatorial candidate Scott Brown is pro-choice and believes same-sex marriage should be a decision left up to the states, he hasn’t a clue when it comes to economic policy. His only “solution” to the deep recession is more tax cuts. With the latest deficit at over $1.7 trillion dollars, cutting taxes more is a radical idea. But like the old saying goes, “when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Republicans fit the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Reagan’s tax cuts didn’t help the economy, but they did triple the federal debt. Bush’s tax cuts didn’t help the economy, but they did double the federal debt. Here we are with the federal debt at over $12 trillion and Republicans want to cut taxes even more. It’s bad for our country.

To the people of Massachusetts: vote for America. Vote Democrat.

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