Archive for ‘American Crisis’

October 11, 2011

The Occupy America Movement – America’s True Patriots!

by Ben Hoffman


These protesters are fighting for a government for the people, as our founding fathers had intended. We now have a system that works only for a small portion of the population.

The Tea Party protesters were pawns of big money such as the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey who have them supporting policies that have brought our country to its knees. The Tea Party House members caused our country’s credit rating to be downgraded. That’s not being patriotic. That’s being anti-American.

Viva la revolution! Take our country back!

September 4, 2011

Labor Day Song – Scott Walker Blues

by Ben Hoffman

Scott Walker Blues – Ben Hoffman

There’s a crisis in the dairy land,
born from austerity.
100 thousand protesters
marched on the cheese city
to fight state budget cutting
laid upon the workingman’s back.
They lost the first battle.
Scott Walker won his power grab.

Early in the morning,
Mark Miller told Democrats
to bring along a change of clothes,
“We won’t be coming back,
until they stop this motion
to take away the worker’s rights.”
But Walker got his cronies
to undermine the Wisconsinites

The Budget Repair Bill
took away the right to strike.
They demonized the teachers union
said “They got the life.”
And pundits on Fox “news” say,
“State workers are uninspired.
Just how hard would you work
if you knew that you couldn’t get fired?”

Born to a preacher man.
A religious man is he,
Next on the agenda:
Legislate morality.
But church leaders don’t buy it.
They’re giving the worker’s a hand
by defending the unions
and helping out the common man.

There’s a crisis in America
born out of corporate greed,
and apathetic citizens
sit back and watch it bleed.
But one week in Wisconsin,
the anger could not be diffused.
There ain’t no doubt about it,
Wisconsin’s got them Scott Walker blues.

August 2, 2011

The Boston Tea Party Has Become a Symbol of a National Disgrace

by Ben Hoffman

The Tea Party version of the American Revolution is not just fundamentalist. It is also Disneyfied, sentimentalised, and whitewashed.

Here’s a monumental historical irony: a moment in the origins of the United States that every American schoolchild learns to view with pride, the Boston Tea Party, has now become a symbol of our (inter)national shame. In one sense, it is difficult to know what to say in response to the utter irrationality of the Tea Party’s self-destructive decision to sabotage the American political process – and thus its own country’s economy, and the global economy.

Last week, while the US government was locked in stalemate and risked defaulting on its national debt for the first time in its history (and thus also defying the Constitution that Tea Partiers supposedly hold sacred, which declares in the 14th Amendment that it is illegal for Congress to default), Michele Bachmann instructed her followers not to listen to those who attempted to “scare” them with untruths that the US would default if it didn’t raise the debt ceiling. When, of course, that is precisely what it would have done. But the Tea Party has never let facts get in the way of its belief system, and now that belief system is genuinely threatening the wellbeing of the nation they claim to love.

Mottos are supposed to express a philosophy: in so far as the Tea Party can be said to have anything so exalted as a philosophy, their motto is quite telling. They are one of the most inaccurately named movements in American political history, but that inaccuracy is itself emblematic of the party’s adamantine ignorance. Any American schoolchild can tell you the motto of the historical Boston Tea Party from which they take their name and – they mistakenly believe – their inspiration: “No taxation without representation.”

Impatient with those extra two words, evidently, the Tea Party has truncated this proposition to something simpler: “No taxation.” Never mind that the US has among the lowest levels of taxation in the developed world, matched only by Mexico and Chile (are these the nations the Tea Party would like to emulate?). Never mind that the nation’s actual Founding Fathers were perfectly prepared to pay taxes – they just thought those taxes should purchase them a democratic voice in their own government.

Tea Partiers love mentioning Thomas Paine because they think they share his “Common Sense” (otherwise known as a sense held in common) but they haven’t bothered to read it, and are clearly unfamiliar with essays such as “Public Good”, in which Paine wrote that, especially while at war (as America currently is, of course): “To have a clear idea of taxation is necessary to every country, and the more funds we can discover and organise, the less will be the hope of the enemy.”

The Tea Party version of the American Revolution is not just fundamentalist: it is also Disneyfied, sentimentalised, and whitewashed. It rests on a naïve, solipsistic and exceptionalist faith that for America it will all work out in the end, because America is “the greatest nation in the world”. They take solace in tautology: America is great – this they know – because Fox News tells them so.

Read full article…

August 2, 2011

Tea Party’s War on America

by Ben Hoffman


You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It only encourages them.

These last few months, much of the country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people. Their intransigent demands for deep spending cuts, coupled with their almost gleeful willingness to destroy one of America’s most invaluable assets, its full faith and credit, were incredibly irresponsible. But they didn’t care. Their goal, they believed, was worth blowing up the country for, if that’s what it took.

America’s real crisis is not a debt crisis. It’s an unemployment crisis. Yet this agreement not only doesn’t address unemployment, it’s guaranteed to make it worse. (Incredibly, the Democrats even abandoned their demand for extended unemployment benefits as part of the deal.) As Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of the bond investment firm Pimco, told me, fiscal policy includes both a numerator and a denominator. “The numerator is debt,” he said. “But the denominator is growth.” He added, “What we have done is accelerate forward, in a self-inflicted manner, the numerator. And, in the process, we have undermined the denominator.” Economic growth could have gone a long way toward shrinking the deficit, while helping put people to work. The spending cuts will shrink growth and raise the likelihood of pushing the country back into recession.

Read more…

July 28, 2011

Paul Krugmann: Right-Wing Extremism Is The Problem

by Ben Hoffman


The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.

Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read “Views Differ on Shape of Planet.” But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?

The answer, it turns out, is yes. And this is no laughing matter: The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. As you may know, President Obama initially tried to strike a “Grand Bargain” with Republicans over taxes and spending. To do so, he not only chose not to make an issue of G.O.P. extortion, he offered extraordinary concessions on Democratic priorities: an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility, sharp spending cuts and only small revenue increases. As The Times’s Nate Silver pointed out, Mr. Obama effectively staked out a position that was not only far to the right of the average voter’s preferences, it was if anything a bit to the right of the average Republican voter’s preferences.

But Republicans rejected the deal. So what was the headline on an Associated Press analysis of that breakdown in negotiations? “Obama, Republicans Trapped by Inflexible Rhetoric.” A Democratic president who bends over backward to accommodate the other side — or, if you prefer, who leans so far to the right that he’s in danger of falling over — is treated as being just the same as his utterly intransigent opponents. Balance!

The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.
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July 28, 2011

Bruce Bartlett: “the dirty secret is that Obama is a moderate conservative.”

by Ben Hoffman

Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan and H.W. Bush adviser, was on Hardball today. This is what he had to say:

When Bush took office, we had a debt of about $6 trillion. The projections from the CBO were that we were going to run a $6 trillion surplus. By this point, if we had done nothing, we would have paid off the debt, but we added about $3 trillion of tax cuts. We lost about $3 trillion of revenue because of the slower economy and added about $6 trillion of spending, largely due to two unfinished wars and a Medicare drug benefits and a lot of other things. So, instead of paying off the debt, we ended up with about a $14 trillion debt.

[…]

The dirty secret is that Obama is a moderate conservative. If I were a liberal democrat, I probably would be upset.

The Republicans keep saying the tax cuts are the key to prosperity. The 2000s are evidence that that is not true. We had booming economies in the 1980s and ’90s. If we went back to those taxes, we would be better off. I don’t see think any question we would have positive economic effects if we went back to the tax rates.

I think at this point, there’s nothing that can pass the House of Representatives. I think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so.

Watch the video

Reagan would be considered a liberal socialist by today’s GOP standards.

July 27, 2011

Republicans Seek Large Scale Destruction of Our Country’s Environment

by Ben Hoffman


With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation.

One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation. Another would severely restrict the Department of Interior’s ability to police mountaintop-removal mining. And then there is the call to allow new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.

There is little chance that all the 39 proposals identified by Democrats will be approved by the Senate, which they control, or that a substantial number could elude a presidential veto. In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill.

Read more…

Republicans have destroyed our economy, destroyed our standing in world affairs, started two unwinnable wars, so why stop there? Let’s just totally destroy everything good about our country for some simple-minded ideology.

July 26, 2011

Republican Leaders Voted for Debt Drivers They Blame on Obama

by Ben Hoffman

House Speaker John Boehner often attacks the spendthrift ways of Washington.

“In Washington, more spending and more debt is business as usual,” the Republican leader from Ohio said in a televised address yesterday amid debate over the U.S. debt. “I’ve got news for Washington – those days are over.”

Yet the speaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation’s debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry.

Together, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News, these initiatives added $3.4 trillion to the nation’s accumulated debt and to its current annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion.

Read more…

July 26, 2011

Another Inconvenient Truth: The Democrats Only Had A Super-Majority For About Three Months

by Ben Hoffman

A lot of people think the Democrats had a super-majority for the first two years of the Obama administration, but instead of two years, it was more like three months.

  1. Democrats achieved a super-majority on July 7, 2009 when Al Franken assumed office
  2. Congress was on recess from Aug 8-Sep 5
  3. Robert Byrd was extremely sick during fall and winter of 2009 and was unable to cast his vote during much of that time.
  4. Scott Brown (R) assumed Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate on February 4, 2010, thus eliminating the Democrat’s super-majority.
July 24, 2011

Norwegian Terrorist Was Just Your Typical Right-Winger

by Ben Hoffman

Norwegian news reports confirm that Anders Behring Breivik, the gunman detained in connection to the terrorist attack yesterday in Oslo and Utoya Island, has confessed and called his actions “necessary.” This afternoon, reports emerged that Breivik had recently posted a political YouTube video outlining why “Christian soldiers” and “cultural conservatives” should rise up against “multiculturalism,” Muslims, and what he viewed as Marxist influence in society. The video, which was taken down and subsequently posted on other YouTube accounts, also features President Obama as part of a threat Breivik referred to as “Cultural Marxist Deconstruction.” Source

Watch the video below:

July 24, 2011

Sunday Cartoon

by Ben Hoffman

July 20, 2011

Wealthiest Americans Are the Real ‘Job-Killers’

by Ben Hoffman


Paul Buchheit, a professor with City Colleges of Chicago, crunched some numbers using IRS data and found that “if middle- and upper-middle-class families had maintained the same share of American productivity that they held in 1980, they would be making an average of $12,500 more per year.” In other words, because the share of income going to the top has increased so dramatically, ordinary people have $12,500 less in their wallets today. Studies have shown that when wealthy people grab more post-tax income they’re more likely to bank it than to spend it, so much of that $12,500 also represents lost demand, and hence less jobs. Wealthy Americans’ avarice is a job-killer.

Read more…

July 20, 2011

Have You Ever Wondered When Home Lending Rules Were Relaxed?

by Ben Hoffman

Right-wingers are told to blame the sub-prime mortgage crisis on Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act, but the the real culprit was “consolidated supervised entities” program of 2004. That’s when lenders stopped asking for income verification (among other things) and started approving loans for anyone who could sign their name on a mortgage.

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a longtime proponent of deregulation, acknowledged on Friday that failures in a voluntary supervision program for Wall Street’s largest investment banks had contributed to the global financial crisis, and he abruptly shut the program down.

[…]

the S.E.C.’s inspector general released a report strongly criticizing the agency’s performance in monitoring Bear Stearns before it collapsed in March. Christopher Cox, the commission chairman, said he agreed that the oversight program was “fundamentally flawed from the beginning.”

“The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work,” he said in a statement. The program “was fundamentally flawed from the beginning, because investment banks could opt in or out of supervision voluntarily. The fact that investment bank holding companies could withdraw from this voluntary supervision at their discretion diminished the perceived mandate” of the program, and “weakened its effectiveness,” he added.

[…]

But the retreat on investment bank supervision is a heavy blow to a once-proud agency whose influence over Wall Street has steadily eroded as the financial crisis has exploded over the last year.

Because it is a relatively small agency, the S.E.C. tries to extend its reach over the vast financial services industry by relying heavily on self-regulation by stock exchanges, mutual funds, brokerage firms and publicly traded corporations.

The program Mr. Cox abolished was unanimously approved in 2004 by the commission under his predecessor, William H. Donaldson. Known by the clumsy title of “consolidated supervised entities,” the program allowed the S.E.C. to monitor the parent companies of major Wall Street firms, even though technically the agency had authority over only the firms’ brokerage firm components.

[…]

The investment banks favored the S.E.C. as their umbrella regulator because that let them avoid regulation of their fast-growing European operations by the European Union.

Read more…

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July 19, 2011

Independents (Low-Information Voters) Most Influenced By Superficial Considerations

by Ben Hoffman

As long as there has been democratic government, skeptics have worried that citizens would base their choices and their votes on superficial considerations. A series of recent studies seems to validate these fears, suggesting that candidates who merely look more capable or attractive perform better in elections.

In this article, we examine the underlying process behind the appearance effect. Specifically, we test whether the effect of appearance is more pronounced among those who know little about politics but are exposed to visual images of candidates. To do so, we combine appearance-based assessments of U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates with individual-level survey data measuring vote intent, political knowledge, and television exposure. Confirming long-standing concerns about image and television, we find that appealing-looking politicians benefit disproportionately from television exposure, primarily among less knowledgeable individuals.

Source

Independents are also most likely to jump on the bandwagon if one candidate looks like a sure winner. These low information voters decide our elections. Right-wing propaganda convinced them that spending was out of control and that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a massive socialistic program. Any chance of winning back control of Congress next year must target these low-information voters. We don’t need to lie (as Republicans do). All we need to do is get the word out.

July 17, 2011

Stimulus Facts or One of Many Inconvenient (for conservatives) Truths

by Ben Hoffman


Source: http://recovery.gov

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