Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Revolution Now! Take Back America!

by Ben Hoffman

It’s time for revolution in the U.S. Conservative policies have destroyed our country and it’s time to rebuild. The people have little power any more. It’s all in the hands of big corporations.

The National Debt
In just ten years, our country went from having a balanced budget to massive deficits. At the Beginning of Bush’s first fiscal year in 2001, the federal debt was a massive 5.8 trillion dollars. At the end of his last fiscal year in 2009, the debt had ballooned to an enormous 11.9 trillion dollars! We’re now paying half-a-trillion dollars a year just on interest on the debt! The conservative tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 made us the biggest debtor nation in the world. Obama promised “change,” but not only did he extend the Bush tax cuts, he added more tax cuts!

Usury Interest Rates
Because of high unemployment and under-employment, many people are getting deep in debt. Banks, which are getting money from the Fed at zero interest, are charging what used to be usury rates, sometimes over 30% interest. People’s lives are being destroyed.

Funding For Illegal Wars
We were lied into the war in Iraq, yet nobody was ever prosecuted. There was never even a complete investigation into how we got it so wrong. 100s of thousands of innocent Iraqis were killed, as well as over 4,000 American soldiers. We’re dumping money into Iraq and Afghanistan and the total cost is expected to be over 3 trillion dollars when it’s all over. The 2011 military budget is over 700 billion dollars!

Health Care
It’s time for either a single payer system or a government option for health insurance. Simple as that. Health insurance is far too expensive with too much going towards administration with little value added.

Transportation
Build a national high-speed rail system. Europe and Asia are rapidly developing high-speed rail systems. Why? Because it’s better than air travel! The U.S. has gone from exceptionalism to mediocrity when it comes to transportation.

Bring Jobs Back To The U.S.
End tax cuts for outsourcing jobs to other countries, impose tariffs on goods made with slave wage workers, start a “Made in U.S.A.” promotional program. Patriotism used to mean buying goods made in America. We need to get back to that ideal.

Corporations Are Not People
We need an amendment to the Constitution declaring that corporations are not people and don’t have the same rights as people.

Enforce Antitrust Laws
Banks have become “too big to fail.” A few giant media conglomerates control nearly all the media outlets. Oil companies have merged into a few dominant players. Monopolies and oligopolies are antithetic to capitalism. They inhibit small businesses from entering industries and have too much control of our economy. We’re in dire need of some trust-busting.

Affordable Education For All
Tuition costs have skyrocketed over the past 15 years. An educated populace is an innovative populace. Everyone should have the opportunity to go to college without being saddled with massive debt.

Corporate Influence on Legslation
Get the big money out of politics!

Election Reform
Restore confidence in our voting systems. Our democracy has been privatized.

REVOLUTION NOW!!!

It’s time to take to the streets and make our voices heard! (Just as soon as it stops snowing)

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January 31, 2011

“Quarantine the Kochs”

by Ben Hoffman

Media update: 25 People Arrested in Protest of Billionaire Koch Brothers Secret Meeting

Today, thousands of everyday citizens from across the country converged at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, CA to protest a secret right-wing strategy meeting held by billionaires David and Charles Koch. Attendees, deputized as members of the “People’s Center for Disease Control”, occupied the intersection of Bob Hope Drive and Rancho Las Palmas as part of the demonstration to voice opposition to the Koch’s funding of climate denial groups, far-right political candidates, and anti-health care reform efforts. The entrance to the Rancho Las Palmas Resort was blocked off by several dozen members of a quarantine squad dressed in hazmat suits, holding banners and a 140 foot police tape marked “Quarantine the Kochs.” 25 arrests were made as part of the peaceful demonstration.

Source

January 31, 2011

Todd Palin admits to screwing hookers

by Ben Hoffman

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin recently confirmed an anonymous tabloid report that her husband, Todd, had been involved with a “massage therapist” who was running some sort of prostitution ring in Anchorage.

During an interview with Alaska-based radio program “The Bob and Mark Morning Show,” she called the allegations, made in the National Enquirer, “a true thing” and “that’s my Todd for ya” and said that she was somewhat befuddled by things that make sense to most people.

The Anchorage newspaper quoted Todd as saying, “Have you heard Sarah’s voice? God, it’s so annoying that I can’t even get it up any more with her. So I bought a hooker!”

“What hurts are the lies that come from Alaskans,” Sarah said responding to a question about how she felt about her low favorability ratings in her home state. “Look, I know I’m a complete wacko. I wouldn’t want to !@#$% me either!”

Earlier this week, the Anchorage Police Department investigated the matter and confirmed the allegations about Todd Palin, telling the New York Daily News that the Enquirer was “dead on” in their reporting.

But Palin seemed miffed that the situation ended up having to be addressed by the authorities.

“Heck, all they had to do was ask me or ask Todd himself, ‘Hey Todd, you been !@#$%ing hookers in Anchorage?’ and he’d tell them yes-sir-re-bob,” Palin said.

January 30, 2011

A sign of the apocalypse?

by Ben Hoffman

Protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, France, and others… Severe flooding in Australia and record snowfalls in New England. Mid-60s temperatures in January here in Colorado.

And now Nadal, Federer, and Murray all lose in straight sets in the Australian Open!

These are indeed strange days.

January 28, 2011

Who says nothing’s made in the U.S.A. any more?

by Ben Hoffman

(CNN) — A thick pall of chemical smoke hung over a crowd in Cairo on Friday afternoon. People ran, covering their noses and mouths to escape yet another volley of tear gas.

The same scene was being played out elsewhere in Cairo, in Alexandria and Suez. And several weeks back, Tunisian police used tear gas to try to quell protests there. It is one of the most common ways to used to disperse protests — but not everyone runs.

In both Tunisia and Egypt, some protesters stopped to pick up canisters, and posted photographs online. A few inches long, blue and silver, they include warning labels and then a set of initials: CSI, followed by “Made in the U.S.A.”

The photograph posted in Tunisia was of a 40 mm riot CS smoke projectile, made by a company called Combined Systems Inc., which describes itself as a “tactical weapons company” and is based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

CSI’s website describes the projectile as “a launched burning extended-range single projectile round that dispenses smoke or chemical agents via rapid burning. Used effectively during riots at safe stand-off distances to disperse groups or deny areas.”

Its warning label reads: “Danger: Do not fire directly at person(s). Severe injury or death may result.”

That warning is apparently not always followed. Lucas Mebrouk Dolega died in Tunisia on January 17, three days after being hit by a tear gas grenade at close range. The 32-year-old was a photographer for the European PressPhoto Agency.

On Thursday, a similar picture was posted on Twitter by a someone in Egypt, only this time it was of a grenade, not a canister. It, too, was made by CSI. The grenade appears to be an “Outdoor 52 Series Large Grenade” that “discharges a high volume of smoke and chemical agent through multiple emission ports. Specifically for outdoor use,” the website says.

CSI’s website (www.less-lethal.com) bills the company as the “premier engineering, manufacturing and supply company of tactical munitions and crowd control devices globally to armed forces, law enforcement, corrections and homeland security agencies.” Clients include the U.S. Army, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the U.S. Department of State, as well as Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israeli Military Industries — both of which are weapons companies based in Israel.

On January 1, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died in the West Bank during a weekly protest against a security barrier being built in Bilin. Israel considers the protests violent and illegal. Rahmah died of severe asphyxiation and cardiac arrest after Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters into the crowd.

In April 2009, Rahmah’s brother was killed participating in the same weekly protest when a tear gas canister struck him directly in the chest.

A spokesman for CSI says the company is operating well within the law by selling tear gas to countries like Tunisia and Egypt.

Read more…

January 27, 2011

Quote of the day: Socrates

by Ben Hoffman

The unexamined life is not worth living

– Socrates

January 26, 2011

Quote of the day

by Ben Hoffman

Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.

– Ramana Maharshi

January 26, 2011

Hey Obama: You can’t get there from here!

by Ben Hoffman

In last night’s SOTU address, Obama offered a dungload of rhetoric but nothing that’s implementable. You simply cannot get to exceptionalism from the road we’re on.

All we need to do is look back in history to a time when America was prosperous. That time was less than a dozen years ago when we had budget surpluses, low unemployment, and we were the leading innovators in the world (with the possible exception of the auto industry).

So what changed in just 12 years?

Some of our economic problems have their roots in the deregulation of 1999 and 2000 (see Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, otherwise known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which gave us the Enron Loophole). Those two acts of deregulation led directly to the Enron scandal and the housing bubble, and the subsequent collapse of our economy.

Then we had the huge tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which took us from budget surpluses to the huge deficits we’re experiencing today. We also had Bush’s “ownership society” where people were encouraged to buy more than they could afford.

There was lack of enforcement of existing regulations in the finance sector and the relaxing of lending practices. People applying for mortgages didn’t even have to show proof that they could afford to pay back their loans. It was the wild, wild west of the finance sector.

Now, what do you do when you’re heading down the wrong road? Usually you turn around and backtrack until you find the right road. Obviously, we made some bad decisions during the past 12 years, so we need to backtrack. Some good options would be to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act as well as the rest of the regulations the were done away with. That’s not going to happen.

We could have let the Bush tax cuts expire as they were intended to, since they were crammed down our throats with the procedure known as reconciliation where Republicans couldn’t even get a simple majority in the Senate. Dick Cheney had to cast the deciding vote in 2003.

None of those things are going to happen, though. The opportunity for strong regulation has come and gone with nothing of substance coming from it. And Obama not only extended the Bush tax cuts, he added more tax cuts!

Now we’re on the wrong road heading in the wrong direction, and the bridge we crossed to get to this point has been demolished so there’s no turning back. We’re on the road to the demise of our once great nation. We have a full tank of gas and running on all eight cylinders heading straight down into a deep abyss.

January 25, 2011

What to expect from the State of the Union address

by Ben Hoffman

Obama is expected to announce his switch to the Republican party this evening.

Barack Obama has embraced trickle down economics, escalated the war in Afghanistan, increased military spending, extended tax cuts for the wealthy, has provided a big giveaway for insurance companies while doing little to make insurance more affordable, has done nothing to reform our election process or to standardize voting machines, has appointed some of the worst banking thugs to high positions in his cabinet and ignored advice from respected economists, has done everything to appease the most radical conservatives while completely ignoring his base.

So why not just switch parties, you spineless wimp?

January 25, 2011

What’s wrong with Obama?

by Ben Hoffman

This video provides a good analysis by Cenk Uygur and Glenn Greenwald of how Obama did us wrong and why the Democrats lost big in the midterms.

January 23, 2011

Don’t be somebody. Be a corporation!

by Ben Hoffman

If corporations are people, people should incorporate to have the same rights as corporations.

January 20, 2011

Now We’re Talkin’: Vermont Lawmakers Lay Groundwork For Single Payer System In Place Of Obamacare

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — Vermont officials are beginning what promises to be a provocative push for a statewide single-payer health insurance system that would take the place of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the state’s lone congressman said Wednesday.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) told The Huffington Post that his state’s local and national lawmakers were “looking to get a waiver” so as to formally opt out of the federal system. Conversations have begun as to how an alternate health care policy might look like should the waiver be granted, Welch said.

“Vermont is very supportive of moving towards single-payer, you have the entire congressional delegation you have the governor who ran on the platform of single-payer and the legislature is very sympathetic to single-payer,” he said.

Read more…

January 20, 2011

Democratic Congressman Compares Republicans To Nazis, and He’s Right!

by Ben Hoffman

In an extraordinary outburst on the House floor, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) invoked the Holocaust to attack Republicans on health care and compared rhetoric on the issue to the work of infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

“They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels,” Cohen said. “You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That’s the same kind of thing. And Congressman Cohen didn’t stop there.

“The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it–believed it and you have the Holocaust. We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover,” Cohen said.

Read more

January 19, 2011

Republicans Pass the People Killing Health Care Repeal Act

by Ben Hoffman

House Republicans passed the People Killing Health Care Repeal Act, which, if enacted, will result in the deaths of millions of people.

The health care bill that the House would repeal allows parents to keep children on their health plans until the age of 26, bars insurers from denying service due to preexisting conditions, expands Medicaid funding dramatically and extends coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans by 2019.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has made it more affordable for small businesses to provide health insurance to their employees, which means it promotes job creation for small businesses.

January 19, 2011

American Heros: Judge John M. Roll

by Ben Hoffman

TUCSON — The chief investigator for the sheriff’s department here has for the first time publicly described the brief and gory video clip from a store security camera that shows a gunman not only shooting Representative Gabrielle Giffords just above the eyebrow at a range of three feet, but then using his 9-millimeter pistol to gun down others near her at a similarly close range.

The video, according to Richard Kastigar, the investigative and operational bureau chief of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, also reveals that Judge John M. Roll appears to have died while helping to save the life of Ronald Barber, a Giffords employees. Mr. Barber, who was near Ms. Giffords when he was shot twice, has left the hospital.

[…]

Describing the video, Mr. Kastigar said the judge was “intentionally trying to help Mr. Barber,” adding, “It’s very clear to me the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself.”

The judge guides Mr. Barber to the ground, shields him with his body, and then tries to push himself and Mr. Barber away from the gunman, who was no more than three to four feet away as he fired, Mr. Kastigar said.

“He pushes Mr. Barber with his right hand and guides him with his left hand. The judge was on top of him and is covering up Mr. Barber, literally lying on top of him, and his back was exposed,” Mr. Kastigar said.

The judge was shot in the back. Ms. Giffords remains in the hospital in serious condition, and doctors said Tuesday that she continued to improve.

Read more…