Archive for December, 2011

December 21, 2011

The Origins Of Christmas

by Ben Hoffman

December 20, 2011

Republicans Block Tax Cut – Right-wingers Waiting To Be Told What To Think About It

by Ben Hoffman

Right-winger's Head Explodes

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Tuesday rejected a Senate bill that would have prevented a payroll tax cut from expiring on New Year’s Day, saying they wanted a year-long extension or no extension at all.

House Republicans accomplished that with a convoluted motion to reject a Senate compromise that would have extended the 2 percent payroll tax break for two months, voting 229 to 193 to send the measure to a conference committee.

Seven Republicans voted with Democrats, and no Democrats crossed the aisle. They were Reps. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.).

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Yep, the world of right-wingers has been turned upside down. For decades, they’ve been told to believe that tax cuts are the answer to everything, and now their party has blocked a tax cut, simply because it was proposed by Democrats. So now they’re waiting to be told how to react. Conservatives have difficulty handling ambiguity and this contradicts the basic tenets of conservatism, which is: tax cuts = good, regulation = bad. It’s only a matter of time before some right-winger’s head explodes.

December 18, 2011

Newt Gingrich: The Fascist Candidate

by Ben Hoffman


Newt Gingrich has plans to be a fascist dictator if elected president.

The former House Speaker held a half-hour phone call on Saturday during which he pledged to abolish courts and eliminate activist judges he believed were either outside the mainstream or infringing too deeply on the commander in chief’s authority. On Sunday, he followed that up by saying he would be willing to arrest a judge who he thought was out of line.

“If you had to,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” when asked if he would send a Capitol Hill police officer to round up a judge, “or you would instruct the Justice Department to send the U.S. Marshal.” His preference, he added, would be to impeach the judge in question.

“You have an increasingly arrogant judiciary,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “The question is: Is there anything we the American people can do? The standard answer has been eventually we’ll appoint good judges. I think that’s inadequate. The constitution promises a balance of the judicial branch, the executive branch and the legislative branch. The federalist papers say specifically the weakest of the three branches is the judiciary.

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According to Gingrich, judges with whom he disagrees are activists. We currently have the most activist Supreme Court judges in at least half-a-century with the Roberts court, yet because they support Gingrich’s agenda, he doesn’t have a problem with them. And in a Gingrich administration, he and will have judges he doesn’t agree with put in prison. Those are the words of a fascist. Gingrich is currently the leading Republican candidate with 30% support. This is scary how far to the right our country has gone.

December 18, 2011

New Feature: Live Music Sunday! – This Week: John Barleycorn by Traffic

by Ben Hoffman

Great song by Steve Winwood and Traffic. (It’s also a “how to” on how to make beer.)

December 16, 2011

Fannie and Freddie Executives Charged

by Ben Hoffman

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued six former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives on Friday for misleading the public about the mortgage giants’ exposure to risky subprime mortgages as the housing bubble deflated.

Former Fannie Mae chief executive Daniel Mudd and former Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron are the highest-ranking officials yet to be charged for their involvement in the housing meltdown that triggered the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. Along with four other former executives for the companies, they are accused of fraud, under-representing the amount of exposure the finance companies had to dodgy mortgages.

Also charged with fraud: former Fannie Mae chief risk officer Enrico Dallavecchia, former Fannie Mae executive vice president Thomas Lund, and former Freddie Mac executive vice presidents Patricia Cook and Donald Bisenius.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was,” said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, in a statement.

The SEC alleges that Freddie Mac systematically understated its exposure to subprime mortgages. Freddie Mac stated in its public filings that its exposure of subprime mortgages was only one to two percent of the amount actually held, according to the SEC.

In early 2007, with the housing market beginning its tumble, Freddie Mac claimed it held just $2 billion in subprime loans. The company was in fact exposed to $141 billion in subprime loans at the end of 2006, a number comprising 10 percent of its entire single-family portfolio, according to the SEC.

The SEC claims that by the summer of 2008 Freddie’s exposure to subprime loans had grown to $244 billion, comprising 14 percent of its single-family portfolio. That summer, Freddie allegedly claimed only $6 billion of its loans to be subprime.

Fannie Mae similarly excluded 90 percent — or $43.3 billion — of its subprime single-family mortgage portfolio from a public filing by labeling those mortgages differently in February 2007, according to the SEC.

In another instance, Fannie Mae failed to report 39 percent of its low-documentation loans in a May 2007 filing, according to the SEC. While the company publicly reported about 11 percent of its single-family mortgages were low-documentation loans, they in fact comprised 17.9 percent of its portfolio, the SEC alleges.

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This is what happens when you privatize public institutions and provide government insurance for their losses. We see fraud all the time in privatized institutions that should be run by the government. The savings never materialize but fraud sure does.

December 16, 2011

Republicans Lying About Number Of Jobs To Be Created From Keystone Pipeline

by Ben Hoffman

Advocates of the pipeline have pressed the case that thousands of shovel-ready jobs are being delayed by the administration’s inaction, with House Republicans including a shortened timeline for a permit in legislation extending the payroll tax cut.

By some accounts, the number of jobs that would be created could be as many as 150,000. But the State Department in August put the number of construction jobs at just 5,000 to 6,000.

TransCanada’s initial estimate of 20,000 — which it said includes 13,000 direct construction jobs and 7,000 jobs among supply manufacturers — has been widely quoted by lawmakers and presidential candidates.

[TransCanada chief executive Russ] Girling said Friday that the 13,000 figure was “one person, one year,” meaning that if the construction jobs lasted two years, the number of people employed in each of the two years would be 6,500. That brings the company’s number closer to the State Department’s; State says the project would create 5,000 to 6,000 construction jobs, a figure that was calculated by its contractor Cardno Entrix.

Opponents and proponents of the project have also disagreed over whether as many as 7,000 indirect supply chain jobs will be created. (That’s the rest of TransCanada’s 20,000 figure.) Much of that figure depends on where steel pipe will be fabricated, with opponents claiming that many of the jobs will actually be outside the United States.

But the biggest stretch in all of these figures is the biggest number: the 118,000 “spin-off” jobs that supposedly would be created from building the pipeline.

Among the list of jobs that would be created: 51 dancers and choreographers, 138 dentists, 176 dental hygienists, 100 librarians, 510 bread bakers, 448 clergy, 154 stenographers, 865 hairdressers, 136 manicurists, 110 shampooers, 65 farmers, and (our favorite) 1,714 bartenders.

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They forgot all the jobs created if the pipeline bursts and there’s a huge environmental disaster. That will create jobs for cleanup crews, environmental engineers, lawyers… These cleanups are paid mostly with government funding, though, which means socialism. So the Republicans are pushing for a socialistic program by mandating the approval of the pipeline.

The Republican’s plan to stimulate the economy is to allow corporations to pollute the environment and to fire government workers. That’s not going to work in our universe, but Republicans seem to live in some alternate reality.

December 16, 2011

The War In Iraq – What Exactly Did We Win?

by Ben Hoffman

We’re finally finished with our Iraq occupation. So far, it’s cost us over a trillion dollars and the lives of well over 4000 soldiers and over 30,000 wounded. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of a war waged for political gain.

In our Iraq excursion, we invaded a sovereign nation that was of no threat to us. The Bush administration allowed us to be attacked on September 11, 2001, and then he used that as an excuse to invade Iraq. Much of the rationale for going to war turned out to be based on lies or weak evidence, yet the investigation into how we “got it so wrong” has never been completed. We spent more on the investigations into Bill Clinton’s personal life during his presidency than we’ve spent on the investigation into how we were lied into this war — a war that some say may be the biggest blunder in U.S. history. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about his personal life, yet no one has been punished for lying us into this war.

The Bush administration used fear and hatred to advance his radical right-wing agenda. He got policies implemented that caused our federal debt to more than double, and some of which resulted in the near total collapse of our economy. Our government is now more polarized than it has been in at least 100 years. Our Supreme Court is stacked with activist political hacks thanks to Bush’s appointments.

So, after eight years of occupation, we leave Iraq with one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Violence is increasing, the government is headed by right-wing religious extremists, unemployment is high, and civic unrest runs rampant.

So what exactly did we win?

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December 13, 2011

Obama Proud of His Speech

by Ben Hoffman

December 13, 2011

Obama Fed Up After Giving in to Republican Demands

by Ben Hoffman

December 13, 2011

Overly Emotional Right-Wing Sheep Upset About The Scott Walker Recall Effort

by Ben Hoffman

Right-wing nut-job

Volunteers working to recall Gov. Scott Walker said they have proof of the harassment they’ve been getting from opponents.
Reports of harassment have come in from many areas, and on Monday night, Brookfield police arrested a man after one such incident was caught on tape.

“I just thought this guy is out of control. I could just see the steam coming off his head. So I thought, ‘Wow, this could be serious,'” volunteer Steve Nagel said.

Nagel said he immediately started recording the incident when Fred Frisby pulled up to the area along Bluemond Road where the volunteers were collecting signatures.

Volunteer Steve Spieckerman said, “He shouted out. He asked me, ‘What don’t you like about Scott Walker?'”
Spieckerman said Frisby jumped out of his truck when he refused to answer.

“Then he let loose with a torrent of abuse and obscenities,” Spieckerman said.

The video shows Frisby yelling, “Do you pay health care? No, you don’t pay health care. You mooching off the system?”
Frisby can been seen grabbing the camera before it goes dark.

“He turned around and he jammed the camera back in my chest and he put his fist up to my face and said, ‘How do you like that,'” Nagel said.

Read more…

December 11, 2011

Maybe We All Should Be Armed

by Ben Hoffman

JULESBURG — Steven Dye traced a finger across a row of damaged teeth — one of many injuries he says a sheriff’s deputy inflicted after stopping him for an improper lane change and then accusing him of resisting arrest.

“See, they’re all cracked,” he said. “I took good care of my body for 63 years. My mouth is a junkyard of broken teeth now. I still have backaches where I got kicked.”

He paused, hesitating to mention another ailment he attributes to a kick in the groin. “I can’t control my urine,” he said. “That’s really sad to say.”

In Sedgwick County, a burly deputy’s alleged July 4 beating of Dye, a disabled 63-year-old Julesburg man who lives with his mother, is fueling an unusual citizens’ campaign. Next week, county voters will decide whether to recall Randy Peck, the sheriff they elected just last year.

Critics of the new sheriff contend a wild-West law enforcement style has seized the northeastern corner of Colorado, in a county where one-fourth of its 2,379 residents are retirees and school vandalism is front-page news.

Jess Smith, a retired Colorado State Patrol officer who hopes to replace Peck as sheriff, points to the traffic stop that put Dye in an emergency room as exhibit A of deputies gone wild.

“I was in kind of shock,” Smith said. “I’ve known Steve for 10 years. He don’t drink. He don’t carouse. He don’t chase women. The highlight of his life is going to bingo games with his mother.”

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If Steven Dye was armed at the time, maybe he could have protected himself from the police brutality he suffered. Same for the OWS protesters. There has been a lot of blatant police brutality in Denver and other cities where peaceful protesters have been brutally attacked by over-zealous police officers. If all the protesters were armed, maybe the police would think twice about pepper-spraying them.

The police department is a socialized entity paid for with tax dollars. The police belong to unions and are paid salaries far higher than what the free market would bring. Most private police are paid less than $10 an hour. Maybe this is a case where privatization makes sense.

December 8, 2011

Republican Fascism: Do It Our Way Or No Way

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday blocked President Obama’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as filibustering Republicans who oppose the very powers of the new agency successfully challenged one of the administration’s main responses to the financial crisis.

The nomination of Richard Cordray was rejected after Democrats failed to achieve the 60 votes they needed to move his nomination forward. The vote was 53 yes, 45 no.

President Obama left open the option of a recess appointment, although Republicans have thwarted that tactic recently by staying in rump sessions.

“We are not giving up on this,” he said. “We are going to keep on going at it. We are not going to allow politics as usual on Capitol Hill to stand in the way of American consumers’ being protected.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said his party had made clear for months that it would not approve a leader for the watchdog consumer agency until the law that established it was amended.

Until three changes are made, he said, “We won’t support a nominee for this bureau — regardless of who the president is.”

One of those changes would put a board of directors in charge of overseeing the bureau instead of the director, abolishing the post. Others would subject the agency to the Congressional appropriations process — thereby giving lawmakers more sway over its policies — and give other financial regulatory agencies a check on its rules.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat, said that opponents’ “first loyalty is to Wall Street banks.”

While the agency can accomplish part of its mission, the protection of consumers from unscrupulous lending practices, without having a director in place, some of its new powers are vested by law in the director, so it could not expand into such realms as the regulation of pay-day lenders and other non-bank financial actors.

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Yeah, a committee with obstructionist Republicans on it would work real well. Republicans claim that government doesn’t work, and they do everything in their powers to make that claim true.

December 8, 2011

The Problem With Believing In God and Jesus

by Ben Hoffman

People who have the ability to believe in the supernatural have defective brains. They believe in things that defy logic. That’s why you have all these right-wingers who believe the $800 billion Stimulus caused the federal debt to increase by $5 trillion. They can’t process information like rational people. They’re exposed to little soundbites of information and whatever fits the Republican narrative, that’s what they believe.

December 7, 2011

Blagojevich Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison – Justice is Served

by Ben Hoffman

CHICAGO — Rod R. Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, was sentenced on Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison for 18 felony corruption convictions, including trying to sell or trade the Senate seat that President Obama left behind when he moved to the White House.

The sentence, which fell just short of what prosecutors had asked for, came about an hour after Mr. Blagojevich apologized in court to residents of his state, to the judge in his case and to his family.

“I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions, words, things that I did, that I thought I could do,” he said.

Mr. Blagojevich’s crimes carried maximum sentences that could have stretched into hundreds of years behind bars, but federal prosecutors had argued that he deserved at least 15 to 20 years in prison. Mr. Blagojevich’s lawyers were seeking far less, saying simply that they were advocating for “the lowest sentence possible.”

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Our country is based on democracy, and any time someone corrupts our elections, they should be put away for a long, long time. We have a few Supreme Court justices who should also be put behind bars.

December 7, 2011

The Values That Made America Great Are Not Shared By Republicans

by Ben Hoffman

Obama made a great speech this evening about American values. If you didn’t see it, you can watch it here:

He talked about American values and how we used to be a country where if you worked hard and were honest, you could make a good life for yourself and your family. Those days are gone. Now we’re a country that rewards reckless behavior and it’s every man for himself. The tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 benefited the wealthiest and put us deep in debt while the rest of the country stagnated. The deregulation and lack of enforcement of existing regulations led to the near total collapse of our economy. And Republicans are fighting tooth-and-nail for any new taxes to help balance the budget and for regulation to prevent another catastrophe. Republicans and right-wingers want to destroy our democracy, which will destroy our country. We’re well on the way towards fascism and so are several other countries as a result of the worldwide economic recession. Right-wingers lie to defend their party just as they did back in 1930s Germany. Time will tell if the result will be the same.