Saturday, March 31, 2012

Do You Know ALEC?

Ever wonder about the flood of anti-99% bills sluicing through state legislatures from coast to coast?  The bills are written by a "non-profit" called ALEC,  and all the hapless state legislator has to do is put his name at the top and put it in the hopper.  And there may be a campaign contribution in it for him.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't Miss Bill Moyers Sunday

Don't miss Bill Moyers & Company Sunday at Noon on WHYY-TV in Philly.

It's Good To Be Rich

Have state budget cuts made it impossible for all community college students to enroll in important courses?  That's easy.  Just charge more!  The 1% can handle that, and the 99% can stick with their McDonalds career.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's A CEO Worth?

When Janet Robinson of the New York Times Company and Craig Dubow of Gannett departed their jobs after less than successful tenures, they were rewarded with $21 million and $37.1 million separation packages respectively.  How does that work?

Why the Wars Will Not End

How the New American Empire Really Works


Great empires, such as the Roman and British, were extractive. The empires succeeded, because the value of the resources and wealth extracted from conquered lands exceeded the value of conquest and governance. The reason Rome did not extend its empire east into Germany was not the military prowess of Germanic tribes but Rome’s calculation that the cost of conquest exceeded the value of extractable resources.
The Roman empire failed, because Romans exhausted manpower and resources in civil wars fighting amongst themselves for power. The British empire failed, because the British exhausted themselves fighting Germany in two world wars.
In his book, The Rule of Empires (2010), Timothy H. Parsons replaces the myth of the civilizing empire with the truth of the extractive empire. He describes the successes of the Romans, the Umayyad Caliphate, the Spanish in Peru, Napoleon in Italy, and the British in India and Kenya in extracting resources.
Parsons does not examine the American empire, but in his introduction to the book he wonders whether America’s empire is really an empire as the Americans don’t seem to get any extractive benefits from it. After eight years of war and attempted occupation of Iraq, all Washington has for its efforts is several trillion dollars of additional debt and no Iraqi oil. After ten years of trillion dollar struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Washington has nothing to show for it except possibly some part of the drug trade that can be used to fund covert CIA operations.
America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars. So what is it all about?
The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from Americans to serve their profits and power. The US Constitution has been extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’ incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent. That is how the American Empire functions.
The New Empire is different. It happens without achieving conquest. The American military did not conquer Iraq and has been forced out politically by the government that Washington established. There is no victory in Afghanistan, and after a decade the American military does not control the country.
In the New Empire success at war no longer matters. The extraction takes place by being at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers’ money have flowed into the American armaments industries and huge amounts of power into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping Americans of wealth and liberty.
This is why the wars cannot end, or if one does end another starts. Remember when Obama came into office and was asked what the US mission was in Afghanistan? He replied that he did not know what the mission was and that the mission needed to be defined.
Obama never defined the mission. He renewed the Afghan war without telling us its purpose. Obama cannot tell Americans that the purpose of the war is to build the power and profit of the military/security complex at the expense of American citizens.
This truth doesn’t mean that the objects of American military aggression have escaped without cost. Large numbers of Muslims have been bombed and murdered and their economies and infrastructure ruined, but not in order to extract resources from them.
It is ironic that under the New Empire the citizens of the empire are extracted of their wealth and liberty in order to extract lives from the targeted foreign populations. Just like the bombed and murdered Muslims, the American people are victims of the American empire.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached through his website

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Time For Single Payer

Robert Reich is right again in this article in which he welcomes the death of Obamacare and looks forward to the establishment of single payer - Medicare for all. We can hope.  We'll know the Supreme Court's decision in June.  If, as appears likely, they strike down the mandate, the whole law will unravel and it will be time to move at last to medicare for all.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Ryan Budget vs. "A Budget For All"

Robert Borosage of Common Dreams spells out the incredible differences between what the Republicans have proposed and the budget suggested by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Watch Bacevich and Moyers

Those of us lucky enough to watch Bill Moyers & Company at Noon yesterday can tell you it is a program you simply cannot miss.  Bill and retired General Andrew Bacevich talked about growing militarism and endless war for three-quarters of an hour.  Not a dull moment.  Find yourself a comfortable chair, click the link, and watch right here.

The GOP War On Women

Frank Rich tells us all about the growing anti-women sentiment of the Republican party in the last few decades and what it means for the coming election. From this week's New York Magazine.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bigger Than The Gulag

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt of Fareed Zakaria's column
in this week's TIME Magazine.

By Fareed Zakaria

“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a
fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam
Gopnik. “Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional
supervision’ in America - more than 6 million - than were in the Gulag
Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”
Is this hyperbole? Here are the facts. The U.S. has 760 prisoners per
100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other
developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per
100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and
­Britain - with a rate among the ­highest - has 153....
This wide gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world is relatively
recent. In 1980 the U.S.’s prison population was about 150 per 100,000
adults. It has more than quadrupled since then. So something has
happened in the past 30 years to push millions of Americans into prison.
That something, of course, is the war on drugs. Drug convictions went
from 15 inmates per 100,000 adults in 1980 to 148 in 1996, an almost
tenfold increase. More than half of America’s federal inmates today are
in prison on drug convictions. In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans
were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or
larceny charges. And 4 of 5 of those arrests were simply for
Bipartisan forces have created the trend that we see. Conservatives and
liberals love to sound tough on crime, and both sides agreed in the
1990s to a wide range of new federal infractions, many of them carrying
mandatory sentences for time in state or federal prison. And as always
in American politics, there is the money trail. Many state prisons are
now run by private companies that have powerful lobbyists in state
capitals. These firms can create jobs in places where steady work is
rare; in many states, they have also helped create a conveyor belt of
cash for prisons from treasuries to outlying counties.
Partly as a result, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at
six times the rate of spending on higher education in the past 20
years. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons vs. $5.7
billion on the UC system and state colleges. Since 1980, California has
built one college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the
state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 a year.
The results are gruesome at every ­level. We are creating a vast
prisoner under­class in this country at huge expense, increasingly
unable to function in normal society, all in the name of a war we have
already lost....

Friday, March 23, 2012

How Much Is That Carrier?

The bad news is that the projected cost for the first Ford-class carrier has risen to $11 billion.  The good news is that it's expected to be completed on time.  Other news is that the new electro-magnetic plane launching system (to replace those old-fashioned steam cats) may or not work.  We'll know  after the launch, and if they don't work, the whole ship will have to be torn apart to put in those old-fashioned steam cats. You can get a lot of interesting action for $11 billion!

Gas Prices An Obama Plot?

Does any of this make sense to you?  Our favorite economist sorts through the craziness.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Economy In Service To The Military

The President's new executive order not only gives him sweeping new powers to subvert the civilian economy to the needs of the military, it also delegates those powers to cabinet officers.  For example, it would authorize the Defense Secretary to force civilian scientists to work on biological and chemical war projects. Read on.

Welcome To The Banana Republic

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Did Bales Kill 16 Muslims?

We assign different motivations and excuses to people who kill civilians - former football captains from Washington state are treated differently from hate-filled violent Muslims.  The excuses for Bales's massacre proliferate.  Please note that the all-American army sergeant was in Afghanistan.  The muslims were not in The Bronx.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why Are We So Crazy?

Professor Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia explains that our increasingly bizarre political behavior has to do with tribalism and sacredness.  Makes sense to us.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Santorum Said What?

Our friend, Upper Merion Supervisor Carole Kenney,  points out similarities between Santorum and Kyl's attitude toward facts

dangerous and desperate and delusional
that describes her to a D!
<<Charisma trumps experience; celebrity trumps substance; and, perhaps most disturbingly, anger trumps reason. >>
and, apparently, no need for truth either - the latest in ridiculousness:
Santorum's spokeswoman re: his absolute invented fantasies masquerading as facts about Netherlands' euthanasia laws: "He's just speaking from what's in his HEART"......
Sounds like Kyl's spokesperson, commenting on Kyl's fantastical Planned Parenthood attack: "his remark was not intended to be a factual statement"
So. Are we clear here? We don't need no stinkin' facts to get in the way of political discourse!
Just say whatever is in your heart, and don't worry your pretty little head about making silly ole factual statements......

Friday, March 16, 2012

How Many Oil Jobs?

Every night, during the news, a woman comes on and tells us about the wonders of "Drill, baby, drill."  She says we will not only have "energy security" but we will also create millions of jobs?  Billions of jobs?  Pay no attention.  She assures us there is "no question."   Our favorite economist, Paul Krugman, straightens it all out.  One wishes the TV lady would read him.

Afghanistan: Cut The Crap

Our friend John Grant argues forcefully that The Wheels Are Coming Off in Afghanistan, and it's time to stop lying and denying and obfuscating and just do what must be done:  bring the troops home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Experienced Trader Seeks Job

Yesterday's op-ed piece by former Goldman-Sachs exec Greg Smith provided considerable subject matter for water cooler gatherings.  Was anyone surprised?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Help Stop Gun Violence


Heeding God's Call, a grassroots interfaith group protesting gun violence, holds its annual Good Friday rally this year in the NE Philly Fox Chase neighborhood at Mike and Kate's Gun Shop, 7492 Oxford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111, on Friday, April 6, from 3:30 to 5:30 PM. For more information, contact Bryan Miller,, or Sue Smith,, who is organizing a Main Line chapter of Heeding God's Call. Or call Jane Dugdale for more information at 610 527 4170.

Also on Good Friday, don't forget Brandywine Peace Community's annual noon vigil at Lockheed Martin in King of Prussia:

Leave Afghanistan - An ABC/Washington Post Poll

This polling was completed and toted up the day before a US serviceman opened fire on innocent Afghan women and children.  It's time to come home.

Monday, March 12, 2012

John McCain On Wasting Money - Army Style

On March 8, Senator John McCain said that the Army’s notoriously inefficient acquisition has wasted more than $300 billion over the past decade. This means that the Army managed to waste more than 3/5 of the $ that the Pentagon is supposed to cut if automatic deficit cuts go into effect (after savings from interest are deducted).

The day before, Pentagon officials testified that automatic deficit cuts would literally force the Pentagon to shut down and stop operating.

- How can an outfit that wastes $300 billion claim that can’t find any more savings without turning off the lights? (thanks to Stephen Miles of Win Without War for this point!)

-And that’s just the Army. What about the billions that the other three service branches are still wasting on planes that can barely fly, ships we don’t need, and nukes that can blow up the world many times over?

-This is money we need in our communities to create jobs, save vital services, and get our economy back on track.

Is This Really Necessary?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Watch "The Corporation"

The Corporation is an award-winning 2003 documentary still important and worth its 145-minutes running time today.  This synopsis is from Wikipedia.

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions, to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. One theme is its assessment as a "personality", as a result of an 1886 case in the United States Supreme Court in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite[nb 1] led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The film's assessment is effected via the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV; Robert Hare, a University of British Columbia psychology professor and a consultant to the FBI, compares the profile of the contemporary profitable business corporation to that of a clinically-diagnosed psychopath. The documentary concentrates mostly upon North American corporations, especially those of the United States.
The film is in vignettes examining and criticizing corporate business practices. It attempts to compare the way corporations are systematically compelled to behave with the DSM-IV's symptoms of psychopathy, i.e. callous disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human relationships, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness (continual lying to deceive for profit), the incapacity to experience guilt, and the failure to conform to social norms and respect the law.
Topics addressed include the Business Plot, where in 1933, General Smedley Butler exposed an alleged corporate plot against then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt; the tragedy of the commons; Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning people to beware of the rising military-industrial complex; economic externalities; suppression of an investigative news story about Bovine Growth Hormone on a Fox News Channel affiliate television station; the invention of the soft drink Fanta by the Coca-Cola Company due to the trade embargo on Nazi Germany; the alleged role of IBM in the Nazi holocaust (see IBM and the Holocaust); the Cochabamba protests of 2000 brought on by the privatization of Bolivia's municipal water supply by the Bechtel Corporation; and in general themes of corporate social responsibility, the notion of limited liability, the corporation as a psychopath, and the corporation as a person.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Supreme Court Questioning Citizens United?

Russ Feingold says the Supreme Court is not unaware of the hugely negative reaction to their decision, and their hearing of the Montana Supreme Court's recent decision could cause them to take it back.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Keynes Was Right - Tell The Greeks!

The great brains of the European Union keep rubbing the noses of southern Europe in austerity, totally unaware that in recessionary times stimulus is the proper antidote.  The Greeks are getting hit especially hard.  They should remember Pericles and follow his example.

Things Are Bad

You've probably suspected that things are worse than they used to be.  This article will show you just how bad.

Vermont Votes Against Citizens United

On Primary Day, dozens of Vermont towns voted for resolutions calling for an overturn of the Citizens United decision that equated corporate campaign spending with free speech.  Resolutions will now start being submitted to Pennsylvania municipalities.

Gaslands At Ursinus March 14

UrsinusWeCan, Occupy Norristown, and Occupy Phoenixville present the award-winning documentary "Gaslands" Wednesday, March 14, at 7pm.  Olin Auditorium, Olin Hall, Ursinus College, Collegevillle, PA.  Free.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stop Corporate Election Spending

Once again Vermont, that laboratory of democracy, is attempting to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that unleashed huge corporate money.

A Threat To The First Amendment

New bills passed by both houses of Congress severely limit the rights of protesters at many events.  Read this short article and then sign the petition asking President Obama to veto.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ten Top War Merchants

The military contracting business gets better and better (for the stockholders).  Profits are up.  Here are the top ten.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jean Haskell's Letter To The Inquirer

Outrage over war
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said philosopher George Santayana. And now Tony Auth (Feb. 23) makes it graphic - as the fife-and-drum players emerge from the Revolutionary War to leave Iraq and Afghanistan in burning embers, soldiers lie in graveyards, and potential leaders of the free world march toward war in Iran.
I am outraged that presidential candidates would even think about bombing Iran. I am outraged that Israel would even consider bombing its neighbor, Iran, however unfriendly, an action that would inevitably lead to World War III. I am outraged that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would put "all options on the table."
I am outraged that those who advocate another useless, senseless war get all the media coverage while those of us who work for peace barely get noticed. When will they ever learn?
Jean Haskell, Philadelphia,

Jane Dugdale's Letter to Main Line Times

To the Editor:Rosemary McDonough can be congratulated, in my opinion, for “coming out of the closet” as a practicing Catholic who has used birth control. Congratulations for joining the majority of practicing Catholics. But she is wrong about so many other things she says that I cannot stay silent.

Catholics are “the last minority group in America that it is OK to make fun of”? Please. Tell me the last time you’ve heard someone say “That’s so Catholic” instead of “That’s so gay.” When have you heard of kids being beaten up for being Catholic? Plenty of kids are beaten up, not to say mercilessly made fun of, every day for being gay. The victim game does not work here; sorry.

Then she moves from “the church is merely saying that it will not facilitate this choice by paying for it” (which it clearly does not have to) to the accusation that the new contraception legislation “is infringing on our First Amendment right to freedom of religion.” Which is also clearly untrue. No Catholics are being forced to use birth control if they choose not to for religious reasons.

Right-wing politicians, financed by right-wing religious organizations, are flogging this “religious freedom” accusation that Rosemary McDonough is repeating. Unfortunately it doesn’t make sense and is not supported by the Supreme Court. Can I be exempted from paying taxes because I object that most of that money goes to war-making, which I oppose (and in this case, I am in fact paying for something I am religiously opposed to)? No, I am obliged to obey the law of the land. The right to contraception is the law of the land, approved by no less a Catholic than Justice Scalia in Oregon v. Smith, 1990.

Rosemary McDonough, and politicians and religious leaders whom she mirrors, are wrong to claim that their religious freedom is being infringed upon by having to accept that contraception is covered by their insurance plans. They are no less free to exercise their religious choices today than they were before this latest legislation was passed.



Bryn Mawr

$8,000,000,000 A Month!

Eight billion dollars a month is what we're spending in Afghanistan.  This article tells us what that money could do at home.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Global Warming And Politics

In this article, Naomi Klein ("The Shock Factor") says that the left believes in global warming and wants government action to stop it.  The right fears any government activism and so it denies global warming.  The Scandinavian countries and The Netherlands seem to have mastered the problem with a mixed economy that welcomes private investment but also supports government action.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Noam Chomsky on Iran

Dr. Chomsky knows what to do, and it involves establishing a Middle East zone that forbids weapons of mass destruction.  How about trying for that world-wide?

Make A Call, Stop A War

Please call the White House or 855-686-6927 to register your opposition to Senate Resolution 380 that would provide Senate pressure on President Obama toward military action against Iran.

Senate Resolution 380 ( promotes a more hardline stance on preventing Iran from acquiring "nuclear weapons capability" which is a long way from actually building a nuclear bomb. The resolution is being sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (D-PA).

Read more here about the resolution and its impact...
http://ww_news/817711/iran_war_watch%3A__new_senate_resolution_a_step_toward_war/ .

See what experts in Washington, DC are saying about the resolution.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is urging people to call their Senators - including our own PA Senators Robert Casey (one of the co-sponsors of the resolution) and Patrick Toomey (R, PA) - urging them to vote against Senate Resolution 380 by calling the special line which FCNL has set up: 855-68 NO WAR (855-686-6927). Make Your Call NOW!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Social Security Questions Cheerfully Answered

Not only is Gail Collins funny today (as always), she also explains what is to be done with Social Security better than anyone.  A must read (with added important information about President William Henry Harrison).

Happy With Walmart?

Who's getting rich?