Archive for July, 2010

July 7, 2010

Increasing Taxes Can Help Fuel Capitalism

by Ben Hoffman

Contrary to what right-wingers claim, raising corporate taxes can actually stimulate capitalism. If profits are taxed at a higher rate, businesses are more likely to reinvest in the company than to give the money to the government. That stimulates growth. Low taxes result in a focus on profits at the expense of long term growth.

Over the past decade and a half, corporations have been saving more and investing less in their own businesses. A 2005 report from JPMorgan Research noted with concern that, since 2002, American corporations on average ran a net financial surplus of 1.7 percent of the gross domestic product — a drastic change from the previous 40 years, when they had maintained an average deficit of 1.2 percent of G.D.P.

The reason for all this saving in the United States is that public companies have become obsessed with quarterly earnings. To show short-term profits, they avoid investing in future growth. To develop new products, buy new equipment or expand geographically, an enterprise has to spend money — on marketing research, product design, prototype development, legal expenses associated with patents, lining up contractors and so on.

Rather than incur such expenses, companies increasingly prefer to pay their executives exorbitant bonuses, or issue special dividends to shareholders, or engage in purely financial speculation. But this means they also short-circuit a major driver of economic growth.

So instead of pursuing budget retrenchment, policymakers need to create incentives for corporations to reinvest their profits in business operations. One way to do this would be to impose an aggressive tax on retained earnings that are not reinvested within two years. Another approach would be a tax on the turnover of corporate financial investments that would raise the cost of speculating with profits, rather than putting them into the business.

Read more…

July 6, 2010

Obama Tells Republican Senators To “Go F*ck Yerselves” – Uses Recess Appointment

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — President Obama will bypass Congress and appoint Dr. Donald M. Berwick, a health policy expert, to run Medicare and Medicaid, the White House said Tuesday.

Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said the “recess appointment” was needed to carry out the new health care law. The law calls for huge changes in the two programs, which together insure nearly one-third of all Americans.

Mr. Pfeiffer said the president would appoint Dr. Berwick on Wednesday. Mr. Obama decided to act because “many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points,” Mr. Pfeiffer said.

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Obama should use recess appointments for all nominees rather than dealing with the obstructionist Republicans in the Senate. The Senate needs to be eliminated. They’re not representative of the people and are not worthy of their salaries.

July 5, 2010

The Reason Republicans Don’t Understand Our Current Economic Situation

by Ben Hoffman

Sharon Angle claimed, “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.”

Senator Jon Kyle of Arizona claimed, “continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”

And a host of other ignorant statements that recently came from the mouths of Republican ignoramuses warrant this quote from Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary” — or, in this case, his hope of retaking Congress — “depends upon his not understanding it.”
Read more…

July 4, 2010

A Startling Discovery — The Sound Of A Fan Calms My Dog During Thunder And Fireworks!

by Ben Hoffman

My dog is scared to death of the sound of thunder and fireworks, but last night I noticed that with a box fan on, she’s not nearly as scared. There was a fireworks show last night and kids around the neighborhood were lighting firecrackers. We’re having a thunderstorm right now and she’s just lying in front of the fan, shaking a little, but not as bad as she usually is when there is thunder.

July 4, 2010

Loyalists Who Fought With The British AGAINST Our Founding Fathers Were Conservatives

by Ben Hoffman

Larabee (1948) has identified eight characteristics of the Loyalists that made them essentially conservative. Psychologically they were older, better established, and resisted innovation. They thought resistance to the Crown–the legitimate government–was morally wrong. They were alienated when the Patriots resorted to violence, such as burning houses and tarring and feathering. They wanted to take a middle-of-the road position and were angry when forced by the Patriots to declare their opposition. They had a long-standing sentimental attachment to Britain (often with business and family links). They were procrastinators who realized that independence was bound to come some day, but wanted to postpone the moment. They were cautious and afraid of anarchy or tyranny that might come from mob rule. Finally they were pessimists who lacked the confidence in the future displayed by the Patriots.

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July 4, 2010

Our Founding Fathers Rebelled Against Conservative Ideas

by Ben Hoffman

[We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal]

The Boston Tea Party was a revolt against England’s tax cuts for the British East India Company that gave them an unfair advantage in the American colonies. Recently, the Robert’s court, in their Citizens United decision, declared corporations are persons and can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. All men are not equal if corporations are declared to be persons.

[that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.]

Life and the pursuit of happiness required health. Conservatives are against assuring affordable health coverage or even mandating insurance companies pay for treatment of the insured. Conservatives also want to force women to have children they don’t want or can’t afford to take care of. Conservatives are also against helping people go to college. The old adage “teach a man to fish” is a progressive ideal, not conservative.

[That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,]

Laws are made by Congress, which is elected by the people. The House represents the will of the people and its members author bills representative of their constituents. (The Senate is another story.) Some of those bills recently authored were the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Conservatives try to claim that these bills are unconstitutional and have showed violent opposition to their passage, but the majority of the population favored reform. Conservatives would rather have an authoritarian right-wing government that one that is representative.

[Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;]

Conservatives impeached our popular Democratic president for lying about getting a BJ. Talk about a light and transient cause! They hate our representative democracy and do everything they can to bring down administrations when a Democrat gets elected. The conservative Supreme Court justices handed the 2000 election to Bush — an act that violated everything our founding fathers fought for.

[But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism,]

Conservatives would like nothing more than to have a despotic government, as long as it was right-wing. Many would also accept a plutocracy. They worship the wealthy and favor rules that allows the wealthy to get even more wealthy while destroying the middle class. It’s the middle class that is a threat to their sense of self-worth, not the wealthy, and conservatism is all about emotions.

Our founding fathers were progressives. They sought a better life for all and for a government of the people for the benefit of the people. They wanted our country to be the best it can be.

July 3, 2010

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

by Ben Hoffman

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;=
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I haven’t read that since I was a kid. What a great story, albeit more folklore than history. I wonder if it’s even read any more in schools. A recent study showed a large percentage of young people don’t even know who we gained our independence from.

July 2, 2010

It’s A Miracle! A Republican Told The Truth!

by Ben Hoffman

Here it is, a direct quote from Republican Michael Steele:

“You know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? Alright, because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed, and there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.”

Read more…

That’s exactly right. The Russians failed in Afghanistan. The British failed in Afghanistan. So why did Bush invade Afghanistan? Because he has no intellectual curiosity.

So what happens when a Republican tells the truth? All the other Republicans call for his resignation.

July 2, 2010

Scholars Rank Obama the 15th Best President

by Ben Hoffman

A group of presidential scholars has ranked President Obama as the 15th best U.S. president of all time, a new survey shows, while his predecessor, President George W. Bush, is relegated to the bottom five.

Mr. Obama also has an advantage in the rankings over President Ronald Reagan, who came in 18th, but President Bill Clinton beats them both in 13th place.

Read more…

How the hell did Reagan come in 18th. He was a horrible president.

July 1, 2010

“Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.” – Al Qaeda Propaganda Magazine

by Ben Hoffman

As the U.S. struggles to manage its efforts to influence opinion about Al Qaeda abroad, Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has produced its first English-language propaganda magazine.

It’s called “Inspire,” and you can read parts of it below. A U.S. official said early this morning that the magazine appears to be authentic.

“Inspire” includes a “message to the people of Yemen” directly transcribed from Ayman Al-Zawahari, Al Qaeda’s second in command, a message from Osama Bin Laden on “how to save the earth,” and the cover includes a quotation from Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who is believed to be directly connected to the attempt to destroy an airplane over Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day.

The table of contents teases an interview with the leader of AQAP who promises to “answer various questions pertaining to the jihad in the Arabian Peninsula.” It includes a feature about how to “make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”

The U.S. is quite worried about Al Qaeda’s new publishing ambitions, which mark a more sophisticated effort to engage the English-language world and to recruit English-speaking Muslims to join the cause.

Read more…

In a related story, Fox “News” also has a propaganda (online) magazine called The Fox Nation (thefoxnation.com).