Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Very Own Senator "NO"

Recent Senate Votes
21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 - Vote Passed (62-37, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed its U.S. Postal Service overhaul bill. The bill seeks to trim the workforce by about 100,000 employees through attrition and delays efforts to eliminate Saturday delivery and close some post offices. The House has yet to pass its version of the bill. The postmaster estimates the agency needs to trim $22 billion in operating costs to remain in business.

Sen. Patrick Toomey voted NO......send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Bob Casey voted YES......send e-mail or see bio

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 - Vote Passed (68-31, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act for another five years. The 1994 law gives federal law enforcement agencies tools to combat crime against women. The reauthorization adds provisions relating to Native American and immigrant women, and sexual orientation. The House is likely to pass a bill similar to the current authorization.

Sen. Patrick Toomey voted NO......send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Bob Casey voted YES......send e-mail or see bio

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First Friday Film - May 4

"Capitalism - A Love Story" is the free big screen film at the Peace Center of Delaware County 7pm, Friday, May 4.  1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Boycott Amazon!

Among ALEC's supporters (to the tune of $10,000 in 2010) is Amazon, which has rebuffed calls for it to disengage.  ALEC of course is the right-wing outfit that brought you the new voter ID laws and the "Stand Your Ground" gun laws that killed Trayvon Martin.  Join the boycott!

ALEC Corporations
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) They fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Elected legislators who are active in ALEC, overwhelmingly right-wing politicians, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. It might be right. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door. Learn more at

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Europe's Terrible Blunder

It's as if John Maynard Keyes had never lived.  Europe's governments call for austerity and slashed spending.  It is all very reminiscent of 1925, when Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill put Britain back on the gold standard.  As in 1931, the only possible answer seems to be democratic revulsion.  In Greece, Spain, and Netherlands protests are getting the governments' attention.  In France the leading candidate sounds like a Keynesian. This commentary from the Guardian explains a lot.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Don't Close That Post Office!

There's been a lot of loose talk lately about closing post offices.  The bad news:  George Bush is behind the problem.  The good news: Senator Bernie Sanders is on our side.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Letter To The Main Line Times

Dear Editor,

Rosemary McDonough (“Real war on women waged by other women”) bravely carries the mantel of 87-year old Phyllis Schlafly, who, by some accounts, single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1980s. I thought perhaps Schlafly had retired, but I see she is still inspiring a new generation of extreme right-wing women like McDonough, willing to use Schlafly’s line (see McDonough’s headline) and Schlafly’s approach -- bad facts and anger -- to argue against real choice for women by pretending that progressive legislation would limit a woman’s choice to stay at home.

Bad facts: Hillary Rosen is a CNN pundit, not someone who can “whisper into the ear of the President.”

Anger: I don’t even want to repeat McDonough’s personal diatribe against the President and First Lady.

Here’s the irony: Candidate Romney has declared he’s in favor of requiring mothers on welfare to work full time. Presumably Mrs. Romney agrees. That’s their idea of choice for mothers?


Jane Swift Dugdale

Call Your Congressman Today!

There are two resolutions up for vote in Congress: SR 380 in the Senate and HRes 568 in the house. Both bills call for military action against "nuclear capable Iran" calling for the US NOT to negotiate. The resolutions undermine the use of diplomacy and are based on the fear that Iran is now capable of using nuclear weapons.

Remember our needing a preemptive strike in Iraq because of their weapons of mass destruction?

Call your Senators and tell them NOT to vote for SR 380.
Call your Representative and tell him/her not to vote for HRes 568
TOLL FREE NUMBERS FOR CONGRESS  866-338-1015, 877-210-5351 OR 877-851-6437
These numbers get you to a switch board - tell them where you are from OR the give the name of the Congressperson you wish to contact

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Drones Are Coming!

Wed., April 25 – Friday, April 27 - the National KnowDrones Tour ( comes to the Philadelphia Area. The KnowDrones tour consists of large bomber and surveillance drone replicas, inter-active displays, and forums. The tour is bringing to the public and our congressional representatives the dangerously expanding role and impact of these remote-controlled killing and spying machines on U.S. war policy and domestic civil liberties. The national tour is visiting the home districts of the fifty-five member Congressional Unmanned Systems (Drone) Caucus. U.S. Representative Bob Brady (D, PA District #1, covering much of Philadelphia and Delaware County) is the sole member of the Pennsylvania delegation on the large pro-Drone Congressional Caucus

*Wed, April 25,
- Noon - Photo-Op Display
in front of leading drone contractor and world's largest war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, in Valley Forge, PA
(behind King of Prussia Mall) followed by displays in Philadelphia at Congressional and Senate offices -
3:30p.m. - 6p.m.:
Senator Robert Casey offices, 2000 Market Street (20th & Market Sts.) Suite 1870, Philadelphia, PA 19103, and office building housing Senator Pat Toomey, 8 Penn Center, 1628 John F. Kennedy Blvd.,Suite 1702 Philadelphia, PA 19103

*Thurs., April 26,
- Noon - 2p.m.
- Drone Demonstration at University of Pennsylvania
one of the leading universities involved in drone technology and application research. Gather at noon, NE corner of 34th & Walnut Sts. for drone protest vigil, followed by short walk around University's Engineering Department buildings (33rd/34th, between Walnut and Spruce)

- 3:30p.m. - 5:30p.m. - Rush Hour Drone Display in front of Phila. 30th St. Train Station at Market Street Bridge, Market Street and Schuylkill Ave.

6:30p.m. - 8:30p.m. - Drones, Wars, and Civil Liberties: What You Need to Know (and what you can do) Forum at Friends Center, 1501 Cherry St., Phila., PA, with video shorts and panelists including:

- Medea Benjamin (Skype presentation), Code Pink national organizer, author of new book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control;
- Saadia Toor, Pakistan Solidarity Network, Associate Professor Sociology and Anthropology at College of Staten Island, CUNY;

- Ann Wright, International Peace Activist, former Army Lieutenant Colonial and State Department Diplomat who resigned her position over U.S. war policies.

*Fri. April 27, Noon - 5p.m.: Drone Demonstration Display at Independence Mall Visitors Center (lawn area), 6th & Market Sts.., Phila., PA. Rallies at noon (including Drone Death Walk through Phila. historic district) and at 4p.m. with music, speakers, and more.

Phila. Area Co-Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Brandywine Peace Community, Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Phila. Granny Peace Brigade, Peace Center of Delaware County, Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, Veterans for Peace, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Watch the KnowDrones Tour movie here
, Less Distance From War – YouTube.
For more information and details, go to website calendar at To volunteer for the display events, call the Brandywine Peace Community, 610-544-1818.

Brandywine Peace Community, P.O. Box 81, Swarthmore, PA 19081
(610) 544-1818

Trouble En Walmart En Mexico

Walmart's Mexican executives couldn't resist paying out copious bribes to get building permits to expand the chain in Mexico.  The trouble is that Bentonville, when it heard about it, chose coverup over honesty.  Always a bad choice.  Now the New York Times is on the case.

What's The Real Crime in Colombia?

Our friend, John Grant, discusses what happened in Colombia - whores, drugs, US agents - and suggests that it's time our government started representing the people and not the Drug War infrastructure.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Where Greece Spent The Money

Now it's coming out.  Greece's serious financial problems are not entirely the result of improvident domestic spending.  The Guardian exposes the enormous spending over the last ten years or so on military hardware, most from the United States, Germany, and France.  The Greeks bought many submarines, ostensibly for defense against Turkey, but in reality because there was a lot of money to be made by the military-industrial complex on Greek arms.  The hypocrisy of EU critics of the Greek economy is breathtaking.
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The Bishops' Letter

A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons; it requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly. from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops March 6, 2012 letter to US House and Senate.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coming To Philadelphia!

Amy Galtung

6 -7:30 PM – Public Event

Peace, Justice, Empire, and Occupation:

What are the connections between peace, justice, and economics?

What role do movements like Occupy play in building democracy and constraining empire? What are the prospects for peace at home and abroad? This lecture is free and open to the public.

5 - 6 pm: Reception: Join us for refreshments and frank conversation.

7:30 - 8:30 pm: Book signing of Professor Galtung’s new book, Reconciliation. Professor Galtung will be joined by his co-author, Diane Perlman, PhD. Many of Galtung’s books will be available for purchase and signing.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Does It All Mean?

If you think the Etch-a-Sketch analogy explains Romney, you have some more deep thinking to do that involves most of twentieth-century physics.  You'll enjoy this.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Get Ready For Tax Day

Is The Euro Doomed?

Paul Krugman seems to think so.  Countries like Spain, which did not take part in Greece-like over-spending, are suffering from a broken housing bubble inspired by German banks' enthusiastic lending practices.  Years ago, a country could protect itself by devalueing its currency.  The Euro makes that impossible, and the discredited policies of the central bank's economists makes Spain's outlook grim indeed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Who Is Romney Really?

This New York Times review of a new biography of Romney by two Boston Globe writers gives as good an insight into the probable Republican nominee for President we are likely to get.  Especially interesting is the contrast drawn between this "etch-a-sketch" candidate and his father, George, who grew up in relative poverty and was a leader of the moderate base of the old Republican Party.  Very good reading.

The Magic of Equity

Robert Reich makes it all clear.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why This Misogynist Debate Now?

John Shelby Spong is the retired Epicopal bishop of Newark, NJ.  He is amazed and appalled to see the new misogyny afoot again in 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Battle Of The Op-Ed Page

It's finally happened - warfare between columnists on the New York Times's op-ed page.  Paul Krugman and David Brooks are wrangling about Paul Ryan and the whole question of "centrism."  Our money's on Krugman.

National Tax Day In Philly

Join our demonstration for peace and attention to domestic  needs on Tuesday, April 17, Noon - 1pm.
Philadelphia City Hall
East Portal (Market & 13th Streets)
Sponsored by: Delaware Valley New Priorities Network

Including: American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (District Council 47), Asian Americans United, Brandywine Peace Community, Center for the Celebration of Creation (Chestnut Hill United Church),Catholic Peace Fellowship, Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia, Coalition of Labor Union Women, East Mt. Airy Neighbors, Fight for Philly, Granny Peace Brigade, Main Line Peace Action, Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, Neighborhood Networks, Pennsylvania Progressive Democrats of America, Philadelphia National Writers Union, Philadelphia United for Peace and Justice Delaware Valley Network Education Committee, Philadelphia Area Black Radical Congress, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Temple University Graduate Students Association,
US Labor Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Womens’ International League for Peace and Freedom

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bertolt Brecht Said It

Streetcars For LA

They're safer, they're more energy efficient, they're more comfortable, they're less polluting than busses.  And they will restore an old but valuable neighborhood of Los Angeles.  The car pictured above is in Portland, Oregon, but is the prototype for LA's plans.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The New Capitalism

This is the way Adam Smith's invisible hand works these days.  The executives give themselves huge pay raises, spend the company's income on stock buybacks, run the company onto the rocks, declare bankruptcy,  and unemploy hundreds of workers.  Not too long ago an executive whose company "failed" was disgraced.  Today it is just an amusing story to tell in the Cricket Club bar.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Get Ready For The 99% Spring!

Click the link to find out about hundreds of training programs being offered next week all over the country to get us ready for an exciting and effective non-violent direct action this Spring.  Move fast to sign up - the Wayne program is already full.

Do The Beatitudes Apply Or Not?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Remember Charley On The MTA?

Charley would be sad to see what's happening to Boston's MTA and mass transit systems all across America.  Fares are up - service is down.  This is no way to run a country.  If you let the MTA and other systems fall apart, you've cost many commuters their jobs, you've forced many to use their cars thus increasing demand for oil and polluting the atmosphere.  Or, as in Toronto, is the plan to privatize the transit systems and make even more money for the 1%?  The people of Boston are mad as hell.  The people of other cities had better get prepared.

All About The Fourth Estate

Your Easy Guide To Keeping Political News In Perspective:

1.The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2.The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3.The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5.The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could find the time — and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6.The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a poor job of it, thank you very much.

7.The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who’s running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8.The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated .

9.The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country, but need the baseball scores.

10.The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped, minority, feminist, atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.

11.The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12.Portland Oregonian
is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something to wrap it in.

Join Occupy Norristown!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Progress On Fighting Fracking

The point made by our friends in Beaver County is that we have a right to safe water, and fracking endangers that supply.  Those of us who live far from the fracking, need still to worry about its effect on our water.  But the courts are helping.

Coke & Pepsi Do The Right Thing

People for the American Way has been collecting petition signatures and distributing them among the companies that fund ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Committee), that foul outfit that writes offensive state legislation for lazy solons.  Well, it's working.  Coke and Pepsi have announced their withdrawl from ALEC.  Click the link, read all about it, and sign another petition.  We can put a stop to this nonsense.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chris Hedges On Non-Violence And Occupy

Chris Hedges and Kevin Zeese join in a debate with occupy followers of Black Bloc violence.

The Story Of Broke

Someone said "the government isn't broken, it's fixed."  This clever video says the economy isn't broke; the money is just going in the wrong direction.  Worth an 8-minute look.

Transportation Is A Right, Too

Among our more neglected means of transportation are long distance trains.  Yet the means of improving the service are well within reach and are favored by a knowledgeable public.  This is a good article about a train trip.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How To Spend A Whole Lot Of Money

Last night on Sixty Minutes, Harry Reasoner shook his head at some of the bizarre "art" things the super-rich spend their money on.  But they also spend on sports teams, most recently the Dodgers.

Another Homerun for the Walloping Wealthy
Behind last week’s record-smashing $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a global economy that’s enriching only the world’s super rich
The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t win all that many baseball games in the eight years owner Frank McCourt signed the team's player paychecks. But McCourt has now won plenty. The mega-rich developer last week emerged as the biggest financial winner in the history of professional sports.
On Tuesday, in a special bankruptcy auction, a group of deep-pocketed bidders agreed to pay $2.15 billion for the Dodger franchise, an all-time record for a U.S. pro sports team, nearly double the previous high-water mark, the $1.1 billion football’s Miami Dolphins fetched in 2009.
Out of that $2.15 billion, McCourt will have to pay off the $706 million in debt that his widely derided incompetence and greed saddled on the Dodgers. After that debt settlement, analysts estimate, he'll walk away with a crisp $1 billion profit.
The Dodgers rate as one of the world’s most iconic pro sports franchise, and last week’s sale spurred an endless and predictable stream of commentary about Dodger history and the economics of contemporary sports.
But last week’s sale amounts to much more than a sports story. McCourt’s windfall helps define and dramatize just how incredibly unequal our world has become — and how that inequality is turning our 99 percent into squeezed spectators of games only the super rich can afford to play.
What makes these games so expensive? Three powerful trends loom large behind last week’s record Dodger sale.
The first: The ranks of the world’s super rich have expanded enormously since the Great Recession first hit.
Wealth Report 2012The latest evidence for this enormous increase comes from the sixth annual Wealth Report from Citi Private Bank and the Knight Frank consultant firm. This latest global wealth tally, released last Wednesday, counts “63,000 people worldwide” worth at least $100 million.
The total global “centa-millionaire” population, Knight Frank and Citi calculate, has soared 29 percent since 2006. All combined, the world’s centa-millionaires hold an astounding $39.9 trillion in assets, an average of $620 million each.
The second key global wealth trend: The world’s rich don’t know what to do with all their money. In “normal” times, the super rich park a chunk of their hefty change in stock and commodity markets and another significant chunk in bonds that guarantee smaller but still healthy returns.
But today’s super rich see stocks as sucker bets, given all the world’s ongoing economic instability, and commodities have been alarmingly “volatile.” Yields on safe and secure government bonds, meanwhile, have sunk to record lows.
And things could get even dicier for the awesomely affluent. Global deep pockets are paying close attention to the Occupy movement, and they fear, observes Citi Private Bank senior political analyst Tina Fordham, that “dissatisfaction with income inequality” may “gain momentum.” In response, the super rich worry, governments will likely ratchet up tax rates on high incomes.
“It’s going to be a tougher playing field for the rich,” laments Citi Private Bank chief economist Willem Buiter.
In sum, the super rich face a world where fewer and fewer safe yet lucrative investments beckon. To “preserve wealth” in this world, Citi’s Luigi Pigorini noted last week, the ultra wealthy are plowing ever larger stashes of cash into property that sits in nations that respect “the rule of law and stability.”
“Those markets considered ‘safe-haven’ locations continue to attract private investors looking for both prime residential and commercial property,” explains Wealth Report editor Andrew Shirley. “Political and economic uncertainty across the world is only helping to exacerbate the trend.”
London has been this trend’s single biggest beneficiary. The super rich are buying up office and apartment buildings in the city’s ritziest neighborhoods at a frenetic pace. Other cities are also feasting off the super-rich investing spree, most notably Miami. The value of “prime property” in Miami — the penthouses and manses the super rich covet — leaped 19 percent in 2011.
The third trend driving the global uber rich: “Preservation of wealth” investment strategies can get awfully boring. No one with a heart that thumps gets kicks spending multi millions on office buildings in London.
In this climate, many of the world’s wealthiest have concluded that if we’re not going to be making much of a return from our investments, we might as well be getting some fun out of them.
The global wealthy, says the new Knight Frank-Citi Wealth Report, “are increasingly looking to combine their investments with something they can also enjoy.” This attitude has spurred a major uptick in “investments of passion,” everything from fine wine and art to fine athletes.
Pro sports leagues have traditionally “frowned upon ownership by consortiums of investors,” notes Knight Frank and Citi. But pro sports leagues today are doing less frowning, and pro sports ownership has become, as a consequence, much more inviting to far wider circles of super rich.
Billions are now flowing into sports ownership, all over the world. In South Asia, cricket’s new Indian Premier League sold its first eight franchises in 2007. Their total original value: $750 million. Their current value: nearly $4 billion.
The world’s biggest sports marketplace remains, of course, the United States, home to the world’s greatest concentration of wealth and income. In North America, says the new Wealth Report, a stunning 61 percent of individuals with at least $25 million available to invest now hold a pro sports ownership stake.
These rich all hope to preserve their wealth and have a little fun at the same time. That means less fun — in sports — for the 99 percent. The higher the cost to own pro sports franchises, the tighter the squeeze on sports fans.
Prices rise for tickets and ballpark beer. Cable companies that telecast our games charge higher monthly cable fees. And even 99 percenters who care zilch about sports end up paying more — as super rich franchise owners play off one city against another and demand lucrative government subsidies and tax breaks.
The alternative to this dismaying pro sports status quo? In the short term, notes sports writer Dave Zirin, we need more community controlled franchises, along the model of football’s Green Bay Packers.
And over the longer haul? We need in sports exactly what we need in every other facet of our lives. A much more equal world.
New Wisdom
on Wealth
Eduardo Porter, The Case for Raising Top Tax Rates, New York Times, March 27, 2012. Top tax rates could go as high as 80 percent or more, a growing body of research shows, without undermining the economy.
Robert Borosage, The 1% Strike Back, Campaign for America's Future, March 29, 2012. Building a new foundation for shared prosperity will require an end to the concentration of wealth and power “that cripples our economy and corrodes our democracy.”
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Who’s buying your TV station? Salon, March 29, 2012. U.S. media giants and local TV stations stand to pull in as much as $3 billion this year from political ads. But they're refusing to reveal the identities of the billionaires footing the bill.
George Irvin, Britain and France Differ over Tax Justice, Social Europe, March 29, 2012. A leading authority on Britain's super rich examines a fresh French idea for taxing the wealthy and their wealth.
Americans for a Fair Estate Tax Coalition Urges Congress to Restore Strong Estate Tax, March 29, 2012. Some 77 state and national groups, including the YWCA and the AFL-CIO, explain why the estate tax ought to be restored to inflation-adjusted pre-2001 levels.
Jared Bernstein, The Myth of the Myth of the Disappearing Middle Class, On the Economy, March 30, 2912. Debunking the latest thrust from inequality deniers.
In Review

Speaking Of Money In Politics

Ryan Budget Not Even Green Slime

Our favorite economist says green slime may be marginally nutritious.  The recently passed (but dead in the water) Ryan Budget isn't even that.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

And Now For Some Good News!

The famous Venezuelan music education program "El Sistema" has come to Philadelphia and is doing wonders already.  A few days ago, a million dollar gift to the program has made the future even brighter.  This is better than military spending.

Old Ship? Sink it!

What do you do with old warships that you don't need any more (because you're so busy building new ones)?  You use them for target practice and let them sink in the ocean.  Does that pollute the seas with asbestos, lead, mercury, and other foul things?  Yes, and the sickness rate from asbestos is rising in California and Florida, off whose coasts most of the ships get sunk.  Yet another advantage of military spending.