Archive for June, 2010

June 30, 2010

Now Is Not The Time To Cut Gov’t Spending Says Wall St.

by Ben Hoffman

The world’s rich countries are now conducting a dangerous experiment. They are repeating an economic policy out of the 1930s — starting to cut spending and raise taxes before a recovery is assured — and hoping today’s situation is different enough to assure a different outcome.

In effect, policy makers are betting that the private sector can make up for the withdrawal of stimulus over the next couple of years. If they’re right, they will have made a head start on closing their enormous budget deficits. If they’re wrong, they may set off a vicious new cycle, in which public spending cuts weaken the world economy and beget new private spending cuts.

On Tuesday, pessimism seemed the better bet. Stocks fell around the world, over worries about economic growth.

[…]

The policy mistakes of the 1930s stemmed mostly from ignorance. John Maynard Keynes was still a practicing economist in those days, and his central insight about depressions — that governments need to spend when the private sector isn’t — was not widely understood. In the 1932 presidential campaign, Franklin D. Roosevelt vowed to outdo Herbert Hoover by balancing the budget. Much of Europe was also tightening at the time.

[…]

And just as households and businesses are becoming skittish, governments are getting ready to let stimulus programs expire, the equivalent of cutting spending and raising taxes. The Senate has so far refused to pass a bill that would extend unemployment insurance or send aid to ailing state governments. Goldman Sachs economists this week described the Senate’s inaction as “an increasingly important risk to growth.”

Read more…

The stimulus wasn’t big enough to make a dent in unemployment and there’s not much left the government can do to get us out of the deep recession. Republicans fight any and all reform, so there’s not going to be major change in our trade policies that might bring some jobs back to the U.S. The two wars were propping up the economy during the Bush administration, but the war in Iraq is winding down and Afghanistan seems like a lost cause at this point.

We’re screwed.

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June 29, 2010

Chris Matthews on High-Speed Rail: “President Obama… Just do it!”

by Ben Hoffman

If you’re looking for good news, I have one suggestion. Stop listening to Europe, stop listening to the conservatives, do what has worked in the past.

What got us out of the Great Depression was production: massive industrial production to support the allies in World War Two.

We need production for this country now. We need to build rapid rail to catch up to those allies from World War Two. France has the TGV. China is building its rapid rail system. It’s time we joined the movement. We need to go back to the future and become a country that builds things. It’ll create jobs. It’ll catch us up to the rest of the world. It’ll cut our reliance on oil. It’ll give us hope you can believe in.

Look, Lincoln built the continental railroads even in the midst of the Civil War. Ike built the inter-state highway system in the supposedly do-nothing Fifties.

President Obama… Just do it!

Read more…

Chris Matthews has it right. There has never been a better time for the U.S. to develop a high-speed rail line. F*ck conservatives and their no-can-do attitude. This country was built on the notion of American exceptionalism. It’s time to get back to that reality as apposed to it being just a slogan.

June 29, 2010

GOP: Protecting Big Banks/Destroying America

by Ben Hoffman

Once again, Republicans are blocking reform of the banking industry that destroyed our economy.

In an extraordinary move aimed at winning over reluctant Republican senators, the top Democratic negotiators on the Wall Street reform bill will reopen the conference committee Tuesday to swap out a controversial $19 billion tax on big banks, according to House and Senate aides.

The unusual development points to deepening troubles for Democrats in their push to finish the bill before the July 4 recess. The death Monday of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and the decision by Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to oppose the bill unless the tax was removed left Democrats several votes shy of Senate passage.

Read more…

Big banks cost our country an estimated two trillion dollars over the past few years, but a $19 billion tax is too much for Republicans. Their motto should be: “Screw America. We only help the rich get richer!”

June 28, 2010

The Democrats Ended The War In Afghanistan! No More Funding!!!

by Ben Hoffman

The House Democrat who oversees funding for Afghanistan’s redevelopment and reconstruction said on Monday that she is stripping money from her foreign aid bill in reaction to pervasive corruption. Dave Obey, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, supports the move made by subcommittee chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), according to an Obey spokesman.

Lowey cited pervasive corruption in Afghanistan as the cause for her decision to pull the funding from the appropriations bill working its way through her State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

“I do not intend to appropriate one more dime for assistance to Afghanistan until I have confidence that U.S. taxpayer money is not being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials, drug lords and terrorists,” said Lowey.

Read more…

Finally, a little common sense! There is no winning in Afghanistan so it’s time we stopped funneling all that money over there when our country is running huge deficits. Even if everything went perfectly and the Afghani government was able to stand on its own, that doesn’t accomplish a thing since the Karzai government is one of the most corrupt in the world — second only to Somalia!

That’s exactly how Democrats got us out of the war in Vietnam: they cut off funding.

June 28, 2010

Western Nut-Job Summit 2010

by Ben Hoffman

“RIGHT TURN, RIGHT NOW” is the slogan of the Western Conservative Summit 2010. (I could have sworn right-wingers just got done running and ruining our country, culminating in the near total collapse of our economy and waging two unwinnable wars.)

All the preeminent right-wing liars, hypocrites, and nut-jobs will converge on Denver in two weeks! Don’t miss it! Here are some of the headliners:

Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota (keynote speaker) – Bachmann is the nuttiest of the nut-jobs and one of the most hypocritical of the hypocrites. Before becoming a politician, she was a U.S. Treasury Department attorney and represented the Internal Revenue Service in hundreds of cases (both civil and criminal) prosecuting people who underpaid or failed to pay their taxes. Along with other parents, she set up a charter school and promoted the teaching Christian principles, which violates public school finance laws. She voted against the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, which Bush signed into law. In 2008, she advocated a McCarthy type witch-hunt, calling for the investigation of certain members of Congress including Obama, calling them “anti-American.”

Fmr. Rep Tom Tancredo, Colorado – Former presidential candidate, Tancredo admitted during one debate that he doesn’t believe in evolution.

Michelle Malkin (Author & Columnist) – Malkin is one of the right’s favorite liars, fear mongers, and hate mongers. Without her, many right-wingers wouldn’t know what to think.

Dick Morris (Fox News Contributor) – Morris is one of the biggest tax delinquents in Connecticut, owing a nearly a half million dollars in unpaid taxes and fees. In 2003 the IRS filed a $1.5 million tax lien against him.

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin – Discussing a U.S. Army battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia in 1993, Boykin told one audience, “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” Boykin is such a wacko, even George W. Bush distanced himself claiming that Boykin didn’t “reflect my point of view or the point of view of this administration.”

Those are only a few of the wackos and nut-jobs who will speak at the summit. Teabaggers have a big following here in Colorado — home of Focus on the Family. A good time should be had by all by promoting hatred and fear.

June 23, 2010

The Republican Federal Debt (Fiscal Conservatives? Ha!)

by Ben Hoffman

The current 13 trillion dollar debt is the result of Republican policies and we should begin calling it what it is: “The Republican Federal Debt.” Here is a good editorial from the Times Free Press:

When the Treasury confirmed last week that the cumulative federal debt had crossed the $13 trillion mark, Washington’s Republicans had a field day bashing the Obama administration for hitting that record mark. They were way off target. They should have been blasting George W. Bush’s profligate legacy, and themselves for all the help they gave him in running up the debt while inducing economic catastrophe.

It was President George W. Bush, statistical records show, who more than doubled the federal deficit, from the $5.7 trillion mark that prevailed when took office, to his final budget eight year’s later that pushed the federal debt to more than $12 trillion.

The budget mess he left Mr. Obama, moreover, had over $2 trillion more in deficit spending in the pipeline for his two credit-card wars, two rounds of deficit-fueling tax cuts for the super-wealthy, and an unfunded Medicare prescription drug bill.

Two other features of the Bush/Republican Congress era’s fiscal recklessness further compound the disastrous run-up in debt that George W. Bush continued from his Republican presidential predecessors — Ronald Reagan and his father, George Herbert Walker Bush.

One was the shift in momentum away from the Clinton era’s actual narrowing of the budget deficit trends that Mr. Clinton inherited from the 12-year Reagan and Bush I regimes of “supply-side” economics and trickle-down theory of tax cuts as fiscal stimulus. The other ominous Bush II factor was the financial implosion that occurred on his watch, which further wrecked the federal budget, and induced the global recession that now haunts the economy — and will continue to haunt it for years to come.

It was President Bill Clinton, as the year-by-year history of budget deficits show, who injected some fiscal sanity between the Reagan-Bush I and the Bush II tenures. He brought down the federal debt from the deficit heights hit during 12 years of the Reagan-Bush I: Together, they had quadrupled the federal debt, to $6 trillion before President Clinton took office. By the time he left office at the end of 2000, President Clinton had managed, for the first time in nearly 40 years, to turn in three straight years of budget surpluses, and to reduce the cumulative federal debt to $5.7 trillion.

That feat, moreover, did not include the hidden use of the substantial Social Security surplus, which the Reagan-Bush I administrations used to hide the full depth of their budget deficits. George W. Bush, of course, immediately returned to erecting soaring budget deficits.

The day that President Obama took office 18 months ago, the last Bush II budget, then carrying his $700 billion bank bailout bill, pushed the budget that the Obama administration inherited to over $12 trillion.

President George W. Bush not only more than doubled the federal debt with the unquestioning, complicit help of his Republican Congress. With GOP help, he also masked his full budget deficits by shifting the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars “off-budget” under the annual guise of “emergency spending” and masking some of that, as well, with the Social Security surplus.

President Obama has had to deal with the wreckage of the Bush era and its negligent financial deregulation. He’s done a rather remarkable job, especially given the demand for fiscal stimulus and aid to devastated states while dealing simultaneously with a recession-whacked revenue base and a deficit-stressed Treasury.

In addition, in his own first budget this year, he has largely put the enormous costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq back on the annual federal budget ledger, showing taxpayers the true costs of wars that his predecessor had hidden. That has added hundreds of billions of locked-in costs, in addition to vastly higher costs for unemployment benefits to laid-off workers, along with higher health care, food stamps and worker training costs– all on a federal revenue base that has been slashed by unemployment and depressed consumer spending.

It’s all too easy now for Republicans and Tea Partiers to say that the country needs to reduce federal spending. Of course that’s true. But timing is everything. With the recession still hobbling the economy and inhibiting new hiring, fiscal caution also requires a very careful racheting down of federal spending lest the economy be pushed into a double-dip recession.

Republicans did not exercise fiscal judgment and restraint when they were getting the nation into deep debt. They should be careful now not to make the recession worse by arguing too early for a retreat from the fiscal medicine that was needed to treat the debt disease and fiscal crash they inflicted.

Read more…

June 22, 2010

Gen. McChrystal Needs To Go!

by Ben Hoffman

KABUL — The top U.S. general in Afghanistan is headed to Washington to apologize for a magazine profile that includes for highly critical remarks by him and his staff about top Obama administration officials involved in Afghanistan policy.

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Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is a buffoon. He has the judgment of an imbecile and should be fired for insubordination. Last year he made a speech criticizing the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Now he’s running his mouth again. His loyalty is supposed to be to our country, yet he shows no loyalty whatsoever. His comments hurt our efforts in already difficult situations. It’s one thing to criticize policy in private meetings, but to go public with it is insubordination: plain and simple.

McChrystal needs to be fired.

June 20, 2010

Rahm Emanuel: It would be “dangerous” if the GOP held power in Washington

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s chief of staff is warning about what might happen if Republicans — who have defended BP over the Gulf oil spill — were to run Congress after the fall election.

Rahm Emanuel says the GOP philosophy is to paint BP as the victim, pointing to Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP for what the congressman called a White House “shakedown.”

“That’s not a political gaffe, those are prepared remarks. That is a philosophy. That is an approach to what they see. They see the aggrieved party here as BP, not the fishermen,” Emanuel said on ABC’s “This Week.”

It would be “dangerous” if the GOP held power in Washington, Emanuel said.

“I think what Joe Barton did was remind the American people, in case they forgot, how the Republicans would govern.”

Read more…

It IS dangerous to have the GOP in power. All we need to do is look back a few years at the disaster of the Bush administration and the Republican controlled Congress from 1995-2007. What we got was deregulation that resulted in the collapse of our banking/finance sector and sky-high oil prices, a housing boom and bust, the humongous media conglomerates, two disaster wars (not to mention our country being attacked on 9/11), the explosion of our national debt, the worst recession since the 30s, The Bush/Cheney administration allowed oil companies to write the rules, and as a result we now we have the worst environmental disaster in our history. We had President Bush congratulating the head of FEMA for doing a “heck of a job” while people went for days without food or water.

Right-wingers believe the government can’t do anything and everything should be privatized. Reagan once said, “The ten most dangerous words in the English language are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.'”

It’s insanity to expect competence from a political party that believes it is incompetent.

June 19, 2010

Obama Calls Out The GOP For Their Obstructionism

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Saturday pinned blame on Republicans for making life harder for the unemployed and for those who could lose their jobs without new federal intervention. He did so even as he sought to distance himself from the “dreary and familiar politics” of Washington.

His main concern was the rejection of a bill in the Senate that would have provided more money for the long-term unemployed, aid for strapped state governments and the renewal of popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals.

“If this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop,” Obama said. “Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home. All we ask for is a simple up or down vote. That’s what the American people deserve.”

The broad economic bill failed Thursday when Democrats could not muster the 60 votes needed to end debate. The 56-40 vote fell four shy of the total required to break the GOP filibuster. Republicans support many of the policies in the legislation but are demanding changes to shrink its toll on the deficit.

“We have an obligation to care for the next generation,” Obama said. “So I hope that when Congress returns next week, they do so with a greater spirit of compromise and cooperation. America will be watching.”

And Obama also said Republicans are the ones at fault for preventing votes on his nominees to key positions in the government. Former President George W. Bush often had the same complaint about Democratic lawmakers.

Read more…

Democrats didn’t block Bush’s nominees just for the hell of it; they blocked the nominees because they were radical choices. Republicans are blocking Obama’s administration just because they can, and that’s anti-American.

June 17, 2010

The Rise Of The New Right: MSNBC Documentary

by Ben Hoffman

Last night, MSNBC aired a documentary about the rise of right-wing extremism in America. You can watch it here.

People are angry and need a scapegoat. Even though the massive debt and deep recession began before Obama took office, right-wingers blame him. They hate Democrats and especially hate Obama since he’s black and has expanded entitlements for minorities with the recent passage of the health care reform bill.

Right-wing hatred is fueled by right-wing talk radio and of course, Fox News. Take a look at some of the headlines from thefoxnation.com: “Obama’s Manhood Questioned By Pundits”, “Obama Gives Back Major Strip of AZ to Mexico”, “Obama’s sham spill commission”, “Exasperated Jindal Smacks Obama”, “Obama=Carter” (video), “Obama Sends 17,000 Guard Troops To Gulf, But Only 10% Activated”, “Obama’s Radical Pick for Medicare”… And that’s just today.

If you look at the comments from those articles, you see mostly just hate. Fox “news” provides fodder for hatred and fear: the core components of the GOP. The Republican party is the party of emotion.

June 13, 2010

Afghanistan Is Rich In Mineral Deposits!

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

Read more…

So far, we’ve spent over a trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe we can get some of that money back. Probably not. We didn’t get anything from Iraqi oil after all the money and lives we spent there.

June 11, 2010

Kevin Costner Sells Oil-Water Separating Machines To BP – Waterworld: The Sequel

by Ben Hoffman

Well, actually Waterworld was a flop, but this technology is exactly what is needed to help clean up the Gulf oil spill. Watch the video on the link below

BP has given the green light for funding of a device that can separate oil from water.

Development of the machine, which uses a centrifuge to separate the fluids, has been backed by actor Kevin Costner to the tune of $25 million.

John Houghtaling, Costner’s chief partner in the project, told WWL First News that the oil company has ordered 32 of the devices for use in the Gulf of Mexico.

“In a matter of weeks, we can be manufacturing ten of these a week,” Houghtaling said. “So we’re hoping by the first of August to have all 32 of these things in the Gulf.”

Read more…

June 7, 2010

George W. Bush: The Biggest Blunder In U.S. History

by Ben Hoffman

Some have called the invasion and occupation of Iraq the biggest blunder in U.S. history. But that seems to be winding down now, even though violence is still prevalent.

Today marks the 104th month of U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, which makes it America’s longest war in history. Vietnam lasted 103 months. Our primary purpose for going into Afghanistan in the first place was to get Osama bin Laden. Because of Bush’s blunder in Tora Bora, bin Laden got away and remains at large.

Bush’s strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan showed a complete lack of intellectual curiosity. They believed that if we killed enough people and bombed enough facilities, we’d win. Well, it doesn’t work that way when you’re occupying a country that doesn’t want to be occupied.

We passed the trillion dollar mark last month for the cost of the wars. Over 1000 troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan and well over 4,000 in Iraq. Estimates of civilian deaths are estimated at over 100,000.

The Bush administration crippled the MMS’s oversight of oil rigs and now we have the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history. Right-wingers are blaming it on Obama, since the permits were granted after Bush left office, and Obama is at fault for not reforming the MMS, but government is generally reactive — not proactive, and it took the disaster to make apparent the corruption in the MMS.

We’ll be paying for the biggest blunder in U.S. history for a long time to come. That blunder is George W. Bush.

June 7, 2010

Bush Administration Experimented On Detainees

by Ben Hoffman

In the course of trying to prove that its “enhanced” interrogation program was legal, the Bush administration may have broken the law, according to a new report (PDF) by Physicians for Human Rights. The watchdog group claims that in an attempt to establish that brutal interrogation tactics did not constitute torture, the administration ended up effectively experimenting on terrorism detainees. This research, PHR alleges, violated an array of regulations and treaties, including international guidelines on human testing put in place after the Holocaust.

According to the report, which draws on numerous declassified government documents, “medical professionals working for and on behalf of the CIA” frequently monitored detainee interrogations, gathering data on the effectiveness of various interrogation techniques and the pain threshholds of detainees. This information was then used to “enhance” future interrogations, PHR contends.

By monitoring post-9/11 interrogations and keeping records on the effectiveness of various techniques, medical professionals could also provide Bush administration lawyers with the information they needed to set guidelines for the use of so-called “enhanced” interrogation tactics. For instance, attorneys in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) who were devising the legal rationale for the interrogation program could use the research to determine how many times a detainee could be waterboarded. Or, based on the observations of the medical personnel monitoring the interrogation sessions, they could assess whether it was legally justifiable to administer techniques like stress positions or water dousing in combination or whether these methods needed to be applied separately.

Human experimentation without the consent of the subject is a violation of international human rights law to which the United States is subject; federal statutes; the Common Rule, which comprises the federal regulations for research on human subjects and applies to 17 federal agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense; and universally accepted health professional ethics, including the Nuremberg Code… Human experimentation on detainees also can constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity in certain circumstances.

Ironically, one goal of the “experimentation” seems to have been to immunize Bush administration officials and CIA interrogators from potential prosecution for torture. In the series of legal papers that are now popularly known as the “torture memos,” Justice Department lawyers argued that medical monitoring would demonstrate that interrogators didn’t intend to harm detainees; that “lack of intent to cause harm” could then serve as the cornerstone of a legal defense should an interrogator be targeted for prosecution. In 2003, in an internal CIA memo cited in the PHR report, the CIA’s general counsel, Scott Muller, argued that medical monitoring of interrogations and “reviewing evidence gained from past experience where available (including experience gained in the course of U.S. interrogations of detainees)” would allow interrogators to inoculate themselves against claims of torture because it “established” they didn’t intend to cause harm to the detainees.

Read more…

More proof that the Republican party is fascist political organization.

June 6, 2010

Helen Thomas Fired From Speaking Agency For Anti-Semitic Remark

by Ben Hoffman

Sometimes old people are given respect when it’s not deserved. Such is the case with Helen Thomas. Thomas is of Lebanese descent, which probably explains her recent declaration that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland.

Lebanon, the country from which Helens parents migrated, has been haven for terrorists for many decades. To name a few terrorist organizations operating out of Lebanon: Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command—as well as the Abu Nidal Organization, al-Jihad, Asbat al-Ansar, the Japanese Red Army, Fatah al-Islam, and some local radical Sunni Muslim organizations.

‘Nuff said. Good reddens you old bat. May your career shrivel up like your face.