Saturday, July 30, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 5:44 AM
Friday, July 29, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 7:36 AM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:30 AM
"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and
the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money."
--Nineteenth century Nēhilawē (Cree) proverb
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 5:36 AM
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:38 AM
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 8:24 AM
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 4:44 PM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 11:16 AM
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 3:07 PM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 9:24 AM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:15 AM
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 8:24 PM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 5:23 PM
Monday, July 18, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:12 AM
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 7:18 AM
Friday, July 15, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 7:01 AM
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 11:00 AM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:13 AM
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 7:20 AM
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
While the members talked of closing firehouses and firing teachers, the House yesterday approved a $17 billion increase in defense spending for next year. Here, from the Clerk of the House, is the tally of the final vote [Democrats in italics, Republicans in roman]. Sadly, among the Pennsylvania "aye" votes were these Democrats: Altmire, Schwartz, Brady, and Fattah. Among the leading liberals voting aye were Conyers, DeLauro, Dingell, Pelosi, and Rangel. Ron Paul and Barney Frank voted with us. We have our work cut out for us if we think we're going to change the conversation from cutting domestic spending to cutting military spending.
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:43 AM
Friday, July 8, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:40 AM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 6:25 AM
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The smart folks at the Institute for Policy Studies know a thing or two about smart security.
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 4:23 PM
Monday, July 4, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 10:40 AM
One night in May 2007, I was nattering on at the dinner table about reports of a monstrous new U.S. embassy being constructed in Baghdad, so big that it put former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s grandiose Disneyesque palaces to shame. On 104 acres of land in the heart of the Iraqi capital (always referred to in news reports as almost the size of Vatican City), it was slated to cost $590 million. (Predictable cost overruns and delays -- see F-35 above -- would, in the end, bring that figure to at least $740 million, while the cost of running the place yearly is now estimated at $1.5 billion.)
Back then, more than half a billion dollars was impressive enough, even for a compound that was to have its own self-contained electricity-generation, water-purification, and sewage systems in a city lacking most of the above, not to speak of its own antimissile defense systems, and 20 all-new blast-resistant buildings including restaurants, a recreation center, and other amenities. It was to be by far the largest, most heavily fortified embassy on the planet with a “diplomatic” staff of 1,000 (a number that has only grown since).
My wife listened to my description of this future colossus, which bore no relation to anything ever previously called an “embassy,” and then, out of the blue, said, “I wonder who the architect is?” Strangely, I hadn’t even considered that such a mega-citadel might actually have an architect.
That tells you what I know about building anything. So imagine my surprise to discover that there was indeed a Kansas architect, BDY (Berger Devine Yaeger), previously responsible for the Sprint Corporation's world headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas; the Visitation Church in Kansas City, Missouri; and Harrah's Hotel and Casino in North Kansas City, Missouri. Better yet, BDY was so proud to have been taken on as architect to the wildest imperial dreamers and schemers of our era that it posted sketches at its website of what the future embassy, its “pool house,” its tennis court, PX, retail and shopping areas, and other highlights were going to look like.
Somewhere between horrified and grimly amused, I wrote a piece at TomDispatch, entitled “The Mother Ship Lands in Baghdad” and, via a link to the BDY drawings, offered readers a little “blast-resistant spin” through Bush’s colossus. From the beginning, I grasped that this wasn’t an embassy in any normal sense and I understood as well something of what it was. Here’s the way I put it at the time:
“As an outpost, this vast compound reeks of one thing: imperial impunity. It was never meant to be an embassy from a democracy that had liberated an oppressed land. From the first thought, the first sketch, it was to be the sort of imperial control center suitable for the planet's sole ‘hyperpower,’ dropped into the middle of the oil heartlands of the globe. It was to be Washington's dream and Kansas City's idea of a palace fit for an embattled American proconsul -- or a khan.”In other words, a U.S. “control center” at the heart of what Bush administration officials then liked to call “the Greater Middle East” or the “arc of instability.” To my surprise, the piece began racing around the Internet and other sites -- TomDispatch did not then have the capacity to post images -- started putting up BDY’s crude drawings. The next thing I knew, the State Department had panicked, declared this a “security breach,” and forced BDY to take down its site and remove the drawings.
I was amazed. But (and here we come to the failure of my own imagination) I never doubted that BDY’s bizarre imperial “mother ship” being prepared for landing in Baghdad was the singular spawn of the Bush administration. I saw it as essentially a vanity production sired by a particular set of fantasies about imposing a Pax Americana abroad and a Pax Republicana at home. It never crossed my mind that there would be two such “embassies.”
So, on this, call me delusional. By May 2009, with Barack Obama in the White House, I knew as much. That was when two McClatchy reporters broke a story about a similar project for a new “embassy” in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, at the projected cost of $736 million (with a couple of hundred million more slated for upgrades of diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan).
Now, with the news in from Kabul, we know that there are going to be three mother ships. All gigantic beyond belief. All (after the usual cost overruns) undoubtedly in the three-quarters of a billion dollar range, or beyond. All meant not to house modest numbers of diplomats acting as the face of the United States in a foreign land, but thousands of diplomats, spies, civilian personnel, military officials, agents, and operatives hunkering down long-term for war and skullduggery.
Connect two points and you have a straight line. Connect three points and you have a pattern -- in this case, simple and striking. The visionaries and fundamentalists of the Bush years may be gone and visionless managers of the tattered American imperium are now directing the show. Nonetheless, they and the U.S. military in the region remain remarkably devoted to the control of the Greater Middle East. Even without a vision, there is still the war momentum and the money to support it.
While Americans fight bitterly over whether the stimulus package for the domestic economy was too large or too small, few in the U.S. even notice that the American stimulus package in Kabul, Islamabad, Baghdad, and elsewhere in our embattled Raj is going great guns. Embassies the size of pyramids are still being built; military bases to stagger the imagination continue to be constructed; and nowhere, not even in Iraq, is it clear that Washington is committed to packing up its tents, abandoning its billion-dollar monuments, and coming home.
In the U.S., it’s clearly going to be paralysis and stagnation all the way, but in Peshawar and Mazar-i-sharif, not to speak of the greater Persian Gulf region, we remain the spendthrifts of war, perfectly willing, for instance, to ship fuel across staggering distances and unimaginably long supply lines at $400 a gallon to Afghanistan to further crank up an energy-heavy conflict. Here in the United States, police are being laid off. In Afghanistan, we are paying to enroll thousands and thousands of them and train them in ever greater numbers. In the U.S., roads crumble; in Afghanistan, support for road-building is still on the agenda.
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 5:13 AM
Friday, July 1, 2011
Readers bewildered by AARP's willingness to discuss cuts in Social Security are reminded that AARP is primarily an insurance company. Its only concern for senior citizens is their paying membership dues. AARP has much to gain by picking up new retirement annuities from members. As Deep Throat used to say, "Follow the money!" And remember that there's nothing wrong with Social Security that can't be cured by raising the present $106,000 salary cap.
900 Montgomery Avenue APT 502
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
900 Montgomery Avenue APT 502
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 7:55 AM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 7:49 AM
Posted by Walter Ebmeyer at 7:33 AM