Archive for ‘American Crisis’

July 16, 2011

Conservatives Win, America Loses – Elizabeth Warren Passed Over as Head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

by Ben Hoffman

President Barack Obama has chosen a candidate other than Elizabeth Warren as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The president’s choice is a person who already works at the consumer agency, the person said today. Obama may make the nomination as soon as next week, another person briefed on the administration’s plans said.

Warren has been vigorously campaigning to keep the GOP-controlled House from diluting the bureau’s powers, including talking with community bankers in every state and meeting with hundreds of business and consumer representatives. Preparing for the agency’s opening, she supervised the hiring of more than 300 people.

The bureau cannot write rules to govern consumer finance until a director is nominated and confirmed in the Senate. After 44 Republican senators announced in May that they wouldn’t vote to approve any candidate to run the bureau without changes in its structure, with some calling for a five-person commission to replace the director position. Analysts said the White House might have to resort to a temporary appointment during a congressional recess. Sixty of the 100 senators are effectively required to vote for a nomination due to procedural rules. Read more…

Those “procedural rules” are a filibusters by the Republicans of nearly every single nomination put forth by Obama. They don’t want someone in there who will make substantial reforms, meaning oversight and new rules that will prevent abuses like the ones that caused the near total collapse of our economy. But what they do want is to be able to blame Obama for any future scandals and bailouts.

July 14, 2011

The Emerging “delusional religious fanaticism in America”

by Ben Hoffman

Chris Hedges on the appeal of the Christian Right: “The rage is real…These people have transferred their allegiance to an ideological system which is not connected to the real world, and they have done so because the real world has destroyed them, you know the kind of love of apocalyptic violence within the Christian Right is a relishing of the destruction of those forces that almost destroyed them, and in some cases did destroy them.” Read more…

July 14, 2011

Fox “news” Analyst Doesn’t Remember the 9/11 Attack

by Ben Hoffman

“I Don’t Remember Any Terrorist Attacks On American Soil” Between 2000 And 2008
~ Fox’s Eric Bolling

From the July 13, 2011 edition of Fox News’ The Five: “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term”
~ Fox’s and former Press Secretary Dana Perino

Source

These anti-American right-wing pundits try to create their own reality where Bush didn’t allow us to be attacked on 9/11/2001.

Not only are they blatant lies, it’s extremely disrespectful to the victims of the attacks and their families, and to the soldiers who served our country in the wars that were started using the attacks as an excuse, their families, and to America itself. These SOBs hate America and should be run out of town. They’re the American Taliban.

July 13, 2011

News Corps Collected $4.8 billion in Welfare Over Past Four Years – Paid No Taxes

by Ben Hoffman

Rupert Murdoch: Welfare Queen

Over the past four years Murdoch’s U.S.-based News Corp. has made money on income taxes. Having earned $10.4 billion in profits, News Corp. would have been expected to pay $3.6 billion at the 35 percent corporate tax rate. Instead, it actually collected $4.8 billion in income tax refunds, all or nearly all from the U.S. government.

The relevant figure is the cash paid tax rate. This is the net amount of corporate income taxes actually paid after refunds. For those four years, it was minus 46 percent, disclosure statements show.

Even on an accounting basis, which measures taxes incurred but often not actually paid for years, News Corp. had a tax rate of under 20 percent, little more than half the 35 percent statutory rate, company disclosures examined by Reuters show.

Read more…

That means we borrowed money to pay for a handout to Fox “news” station, so they could pay Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck multi-million dollar salaries. Talk about hypocrisy.

July 13, 2011

Conservatives Are Destroying Jobs In America

by Ben Hoffman

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s state government shutdown is causing a big problem for brewing giant MillerCoors.

The state has told MillerCoors it needs to pull its products from stores, bars and restaurants statewide because of a licensing problem caused by the shutdown.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville said Wednesday that MillerCoors’ “brand label registrations” with the state have expired. The employees who process renewals were laid off when state government shut down July 1 in a budget dispute.

Neville says Chicago-based MillerCoors LLC has been told to come up with a plan for pulling its products in a few days.

MillerCoors officials didn’t immediately return messages from The Associated Press Wednesday.

Source

July 13, 2011

Polls Show Republicans Do NOT Represent the Will of the People

by Ben Hoffman

Contrary to Republican dogma, polls show that the American people strongly support higher taxes to reduce the deficit and improve income inequality. Following are 19 different polls since the first of the year that say so.

A June 9 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 61 percent of people believe higher taxes will be necessary to reduce the deficit.

A June 7 Pew poll found strong support for tax increases to reduce the deficit; 67 percent of people favor raising the wage cap for Social Security taxes, 66 percent raising income tax rates on those making more than $250,000, and 62 percent favor limiting tax deductions for large corporations. A plurality of people would also limit the mortgage interest deduction.

A May 26 Lake Research poll of Colorado voters found that they support higher taxes on the rich to shore-up Social Security’s finances by a 44 percent to 25 percent margin.

A May 13 Bloomberg poll found that only one third of people believe it is possible to substantially reduce the budget deficit without higher taxes; two thirds do not.

A May 12 Ipsos/Reuters poll found that three-fifths of people would support higher taxes to reduce the deficit.

A May 4 Quinnipiac poll found that people favor raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 to reduce the deficit by a 69 percent to 28 percent margin.

An April 29 Gallup poll found that only 20 percent of people believe the budget deficit should be reduced only by cutting spending; 76 percent say that higher taxes must play a role.

An April 25 USC/Los Angeles Times poll of Californians found that by about a 2-to-1 margin voters favor raising taxes to deal with the state’s budget problems over cutting spending alone.

An April 22 New York Times/CBS News poll found that 72 percent of people favor raising taxes on the rich to reduce the deficit. It also found that 66 percent of people believe tax increases will be necessary to reduce the deficit versus 19 percent who believe spending cuts alone are sufficient.

An April 20 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that by a 2-to-1 margin people favor a combination of higher taxes and spending cuts over spending cuts alone to reduce the deficit. It also found that 72 percent of people favor raising taxes on the rich to reduce the deficit and it is far and away the most popular deficit reduction measure.

An April 20 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that by a 2-to-1 margin, people believe that the wealthy should pay more taxes than the poor or middle class. Also, 62 percent of people believe that growing inequality of wealth is a serious problem.

An April 18 McClatchy-Marist poll found that voters support higher taxes on the rich to reduce the deficit by a 2-to-1 margin, including 45 percent of self-identified Tea Party members.

An April 18 Gallup poll found that 67 percent of people do not believe that corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and 59 percent believe that the rich do not pay their fair share.

On April 1, Tulchin Research released a poll showing that voters in California overwhelmingly support higher taxes on the rich to deal with the state’s budgetary problems.

A March 15 ABC News/Washington Post poll found that only 31 percent of voters support the Republican policy of only cutting spending to reduce the deficit; 64 percent believe higher taxes will also be necessary.

A March 2 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81 percent of people would support a surtax on millionaires to help reduce the budget deficit, and 68 percent would support eliminating the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000.

A February 15 CBS News poll found that only 49 percent of people believe that reducing the deficit will require cuts in programs that benefit them; 41 percent do not. Also, only 37 percent of people believe that reducing the deficit will require higher taxes on them; 59 percent do not.

A January 20 CBS News/New York Times poll found that close to two-thirds of people would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for Social Security or Medicare in order to stabilize their finances. The poll also found that if taxes must be raised, 33 percent would favor a national sales tax, 32 percent would support restricting the mortgage interest deduction, 12 percent would raise the gasoline taxes, and 10 percent would tax health care benefits.

On January 3, a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll found that 61 percent of people would rather raise taxes on the rich to balance the budget than cut defense, Social Security or Medicare.

Source

July 8, 2011

Eric Cantor Would Profit From U.S. Defaulting On Its Debt – I Believe That’s Called Treason

by Ben Hoffman

When Eric Cantor shut down debt ceiling negotiations last week, it did more than just rekindle fears that the U.S. government might soon default on its debt obligations — it also brought him closer to reaping a small financial windfall from his investment in a mutual fund whose performance is directly affected by debt ceiling brinkmanship.

Last year the Wall Street Journal reported that Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, had between $1,000 and $15,000 invested in ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury EFT. The fund aggressively “shorts” long-term U.S. Treasury bonds, meaning that it performs well when U.S. debt is undesirable. (A short is when the trader hopes to profit from the decline in the value of an asset.)

According to his latest financial disclosure statement, which covers the year 2010 and has been publicly available since this spring, Cantor still has up to $15,000 in the same fund. Contacted by Salon this week, Cantor’s office gave no indication that the Virginia Republican, who has played a leading role in the debt ceiling negotiations, has divested himself of these holdings since his last filing. Unless an agreement can be reached, the U.S. could begin defaulting on its debt payments on Aug. 2. If that happens and Cantor is still invested in the fund, the value of his holdings would skyrocket.

Read more…

July 8, 2011

Republicans Defy Will Of The People: Refuse To Consider Tax Increases; Want To Eliminate Jobs Instead

by Ben Hoffman

“The situation that we face is pretty urgent, as a matter of fact I would describe it as dire,” House Speaker John Boehner said at a news conference, emphasizing that “a debt limit increase that raises taxes or fails to make serious spending cuts won’t pass the House.”

He was backed up by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who said that deficit reduction talks held by Vice President Joe Biden that Cantor abandoned had ended because Democrats were insisting on raising taxes.

“Now it just does not make sense for Americans to suffer under higher taxes in an economy like this,” said Cantor, R-Va.

Read more…

That is blatantly defying the will of the people. Study after study has shown the majority of Americans favor raising some taxes to help balance the budget. Source

Cutting spending will absolutely, without any doubt, hurt the economy and result in higher unemployment. Increasing taxes on the wealthy will not have any negative effect and may actually help by instilling confidence in businesses that we have a sane government.

July 6, 2011

Fascism in Wisconsin: Supreme Court Justice David Prosser Tried to Strangle Fellow Justice

by Ben Hoffman

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers earlier this month, according to three knowledgeable sources.

[Observers] say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a law to curtail collective bargaining by public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Read more…

This isn’t the first time Prosser has flown into a rage.

Madison – As the deeply divided state Supreme Court wrestled over whether to force one member off criminal cases last year, Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a “bitch” and threatening to “destroy” her.

Read more…

Naturally, the national media hasn’t reported on any of this.

July 4, 2011

A Tea Party Independence Day

by Ben Hoffman
July 3, 2011

End Corporate Personhood! – Move to Amend

by Ben Hoffman


“We the corporations”
On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.

* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.

The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend.

July 3, 2011

14 Propaganda Techniques Fox “News” Uses to Brainwash Americans

by Ben Hoffman

1. Panic Mongering
2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem
3. Projection/Flipping
4. Rewriting History
5. Scapegoating/Othering
6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness
7. Bullying
8. Confusion
9. Populism
10. Invoking the Christian God
11. Saturation
12. Disparaging Education
13. Guilt by Association
14. Diversion

In debating some of these tactics with colleagues and friends, I have also noticed that the Fox viewership seems to be marked by a sort of collective personality disorder whereby the viewer feels almost as though they’ve been let into a secret society. Something about their affiliation with the network makes them feel privileged and this affinity is likely what drives the viewers to defend the network so vehemently. They seem to identify with it at a core level, because it tells them they are special and privy to something the rest of us don’t have. It’s akin to the loyalty one feels by being let into a private club or a gang. That effect is also likely to make the propaganda more powerful, because it goes mostly unquestioned.

One final observation. Fox audiences, birthers and Tea Partiers often defend their arguments by pointing to the fact that a lot of people share the same perceptions. This is a reasonable point to the extent that Murdoch’s News Corporation reaches a far larger audience than any other single media outlet. But, the fact that a lot of people believe something is not necessarily a sign that it’s true; it’s just a sign that it’s been effectively marketed.

As honest, fair and truly intellectual debate degrades before the eyes of the global media audience, the quality of American democracy degrades along with it.

Read full article…

July 3, 2011

Another Oil Disaster – This Time In Montana

by Ben Hoffman

LAUREL, Mont. (AP) — Hundreds of barrels of crude oil spilled into Montana’s Yellowstone River after an ExxonMobil pipeline beneath the riverbed ruptured, sending a plume 25 miles downstream and forcing temporary evacuations, officials said.

The break near Billings in south-central Montana fouled the riverbank and forced municipalities and irrigation districts Saturday to close intakes.
The river has no dams on its way to its confluence with the Missouri River just across the Montana border in North Dakota. It was unclear how far the plume might travel.

ExxonMobil spokeswoman Pam Malek said the pipe leaked an estimated 750 to 1,000 barrels of oil for about a half-hour before it was shut down. Other Exxon officials had estimated up to 42,000 gallons of crude oil escaped.
Duane Winslow, Yellowstone County director of disaster and emergency services, said the plume was dissipating as it moved downstream. “We’re just kind of waiting for it to move on down while Exxon is trying to figure out how to corral this monster,” Winslow said.

“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said Steve Knecht, chief of operations for Montana Disaster and Emergency Services, who added that the plume was measured at 25 miles near Pompeys Pillar National Monument. “With the Yellowstone running at flood stage and all the debris, it makes it dang tough to get out there to do anything.”

Read more…

July 1, 2011

Republican Quest To Destroy America: A Victory In Minnesota

by Ben Hoffman

After six months of disagreement and seven days of intense negotiations, the Minnesota state government shut down at midnight last night.

Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the Republican-controlled legislature have been in a standoff since the beginning of the legislative session over how to close a projected $5 billion budget deficit.

In an echo of the national budget fight, Dayton wanted to raise taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans. Republicans wanted to close the gap with spending cuts and accounting shifts.

[…]

Republicans offered a deal that included layoffs for some state workers and teachers along with some unrelated measures they have been unable to pass, including a voter ID law and abortion restrictions. The GOP also proposed delaying $700 million in payment to public schools, who are already owed about $1 billion by the state.

Read more…

Unbelievable.

June 30, 2011

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

by Ben Hoffman

Creationism. Intelligent Design. Faith-based this. Trust-your-gut that. There’s never been a better time to espouse, profit from, and believe in utter, unadulterated crap. And the crap is rising so high, it’s getting dangerous.

Idiot America is not the place where people say silly things. It’s not the place where people believe in silly things. It is not the place where people go to profit from the fact that people believe in silly things. Idiot America is not even those people who believe that Adam named the dinosaurs. Those people pay attention. They take notes. They take the time and the considerable mental effort to construct a worldview that is round and complete.

The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents — for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

Read more…