Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Does It All Mean?

Do you have a question or two about the debt ceiling and default?  This ProPublica article provides links to many articles and tables that might help.

Will We Cut Military Spending?

Representative Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, says that as Republicans continue to oppose revenue increases, it becomes more obvious that military spending will have to be cut if we're to balance the budget.  As Willie Sutton said about banks, "That's where the money is."  Democrats are finding strange bedfellows like Tea Party members who are pushing for Pentagon cuts.  We'll take the help no matter where we find it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fairness Doctrine Gone Awry

Our favorite economist is right again.  If a crazy right-winger said the earth is flat, most of the press would say "Opinions Differ On Earth Shape."

Our Official Religion

Andrew Bacevich, author of "Washington Rules," is a retired Army colonel, now a professor at Boston University.

The Cree Had It Right

Thanks to Randy Shannon of Beaver Falls (PA-04) for sending this along.

"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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

October 6 in Washington!

Remembering Barry Commoner

This article by Carl Davidson is from Beaver County Blue.  We seem to have a serious water problem on our "big blue marble."  Our problems are all connected and so are our solutions.  At rallies we hand out stickers that say "Windmills Not Weapons."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Defense Cuts"

We're not cutting defense spending; we're cutting increases.  We're still spending more on military bands than we do on the Foreign Service.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Can Obama Raise The Ceiling?

Charles Evans Hughes, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, opined in 1935 that while the fourth article of the fourteenth amendment referred to Union civil war debt, its language permitted broader connotations.  Bill Clinton says that's enough to let Barack Obama raise the debt limit next week without Congress raising a finger.  You can count on Obama doing whatever his Wall Street friends think best.  But it is an interesting article, and we do live in interesting times.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Joe Pitts + Pakistan?

The article suggests that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI has been covertly sluicing money into the campaign chests of some members of the House.  Some went to Rep. Burton of Indiana.  He says he's shocked! Shocked!  Some went to Pennsylvania's Rep. Joe Pitts.  Should we be shocked?

Put An End To Coal

The Sierra Club has announced that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has pledged $50 million to the campaign to rid this country of coal-burning plants.  This exciting development opens worlds of opportunity to environmentalists and defenders of renewable energy.  Click on the link and find out how you can be part of this movement!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The True Cost of Iraq/Afghanistan

When President Obama tells us the wars have cost a trillion dollars over the last decade, he is grotesquely underestimating the facts.  When all the costs are considered it is questionable that we will ever see our nation paid up.  One of the interesting things about this interesting article is that it is by an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a right-wing if not libertarian think tank.  Evidence again that Ron Paul and Barney Frank were on the right track when they agreed to send out the "Dear Colleague" letter calling for major cuts in military spending.  We simply cannot go on spending in this fashion, and anyone, on the left or the right, who has given it any thought knows it.

Murdoch In Philadelphia

This NY Times article is about consolidation of media outlets in this country.  For instance: did you know that the local Fox station (Channel 27) and NBC station (Channel 10) share news collection?  Their reporters provide material to both stations, and they don't both cover any breaking story.  So is WCAU effectively a Rupert Murdoch station? Read on.   To learn more about media consolidation, google "Free Press".

Avarice As A Job Killer

Republicans will tell you (it is a mantra) that rich under-taxed people create jobs.  It is almost entirely untrue.  There may be a few underground sprinkler companies and jewelry stores doing well, but most of the rich people's  money is being banked or invested overseas and is not creating jobs here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Proletariat Or Middle Class?

This excellent short article is from our friends at Beaver County Blue in the western end of Pennsylvania.

Murdoch In The Morning

A delightful report on Rupert and James Murdoch before a Parliamentary committee as seen on FauxNews.

Monday, July 18, 2011

German-American Caucus

Representative James Gerlach (R-PA06) has invited other members of the House to join a new German-American Caucus to strengthen ties between German business and the United States.  We can understand how this would benefit German business, German lobbyists, and Gerlach's fundraising counsel.  But how does it benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania's sixth district?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trial By Jury

This really does sound like something out of Gilbert & Sullivan.  A Michigan woman is threatened with 93 days in jail for planting a vegetable garden instead of a lawn in front of her house.  You should read this and respond as suggested.

Real Democrats Win

A lesson our Commonwealth Blue Dogs should learn.  Read all about it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hatch: Tax The Poor!

Senator Hatch says it's unfair that the rich pay taxes but the poor don't.  There are quite a number of errors in that statement.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

$649,000,000,000 for Defense

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.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Do Republicans Deserve To Rule?

We  don't usually copy David Brooks on this blog.  In fact we have trouble reading him because he has in the past hewed so close to the GOP line.  But today he seems to make eminent sense asking if a party that takes an oath to refuse all new revenue is fit to govern.  You know that someone named Grover Norquist has been going around to Republicans and demanding that they sign a pledge to eschew all new taxes in all situations.  This pledge apparently takes precedence over the oath they take when taking office to uphold and defend the consitution of their state or nation.  Imagine what we would think if a congressman took an oath to vote against any Jewish nominee for a federal office.  Or an oath to vote only for spending bills aimed specifically toward his home state?  We would get him out of office.  But people are taking Norquist's oath seriously.  Obama seems to playing to their lunacy [see Paul Krugman's column below].  Should such a party run Congress?  At long last David Brooks thinks no.  A good read.

Read Paul Krugman Today

Right as rain again.  Why is Obama singing from the GOP hymnal?  And who is advising him?  Read on.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

PAX AMERICANA - Coming July 10

Brandywine Peace Community presents this 85 minute documentary and potluck dinner at 4:30pm, Sunday, July 10, at University Lutheran Church, 3637 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Move To Amend

This article is about the nation-wide effort to repeal the Supreme Court's decision that called corporations people and equated money with speech.  Contact MoveToAmend at 215-243-7103 or

Empire Building (see "Mother Ships")

This is from a Tom Englehardt article on infrastructure construction in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

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).
Simulating Ghosts
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.

A Garden Party For Justice

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Letter To Main Line Times

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.

Walter Ebmeyer

900 Montgomery Avenue APT 502

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010


America Tired Of War?

Andrew Bacevich suggests that we may be recovering from the trance-like fog of war.  A consummation devoutly to be wished!  His newest book, "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War," is now available in paperback.  A  very good book.

Stand Firm, Obama!

Our favorite economist talks today about the federal debt ceiling and what Obama should do about it.  It seems clear that the President should stand firm and let the American people know who is responsible for the crisis:  Congressional Republicans who will do anything to defend those who want to continue tax loopholes for corporations, low taxes for billionaires, and corporate jets for people we don't know.  A good read.