Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Paid Coal Industry Shills

Those of us who took part in EPA hearings May 24 in Washington, didn't get paid $50 by anyone (though Sierra Club did give us free lunch).  Testimonies were limited to five minutes, and probably because of that the overall quality was outstanding.  We heard from mothers whose children have asthma, Massachusetts fishermen whose fish are laced with mercury, a lover of disappearing polar bears, and so many more - all day long.  Citizens who want cleaner air should make their feelings known to the Environmental Protection Agency.  Urge them to adopt the new carbon rule.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Robert Reich On Military Spending

We spend more on the military than China, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Germany combined.

Growing Income Inequality

This is a review by Benjamin M. Friedman (economics professor at Harvard) of Timothy Noah's new book, "The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It."  He ends by saying "How much inequality can the Republic stand before the social and political fabric frays?....The worst thing we could do to the Great Divergence is get used to it."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Homeland Security Just Grows and Grows

It is interesting to note that the vast complex of building designated to house the Department of Homeland Security is the former Coast Guard psychiatric hospital.

Join "Amend 2012"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

June 1 Brandywine Movie!

The First Friday movie for June 1 is "Incendies," an R-rated 138-minute film shown on the big screen, 7 pm, at the Peace Center for Delaware County, 1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield.  Click the trailer.

A Letter To The Philly Daily News

A letter to the editor from Jane Dugdale, leader of Main Line Peace Action.

Senator "NO" Strikes Again

Agency Confirmation - Vote Confirmed (70-24, 6 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Jeremy C. Stein of Massachusetts to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Sen. Patrick Toomey voted
......send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Bob Casey voted
......send e-mail or see bio

Agency Confirmation - Vote Confirmed (74-21, 5 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Jerome H. Powell of Maryland to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

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

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization - Vote Passed (78-20, 2 Not Voting)

This bill would extend the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States through FY 2014. It would allow the bank’s lending limit to rise incrementally to $140 billion (from $100 billion currently). Following House passage last week, the Senate cleared this bill for the president’s signature, narrowly avoiding the May 31 expiration of the bank’s charter. Passage followed several failed amendment votes, among them a vote to terminate the bank within one year.

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

Monday, May 21, 2012

Military Spending In The Senate

This letter from Mike Prokosch of New Priorities Network calls for messages to your Senators about a military spending bill.  If you want to send a letter to your local editor, you can get the address in the right-hand column of this blog under "Get Out The Word."

Dear activists,

Last week the House of Representatives passed a military spending bill that exceeded deficit reduction targets by $8 billion and President Obama’s budget request by $4 billion. This week the Senate armed services committee and subcommittees will mark up their own version of the bill. It’s expected to echo Obama’s request.

Please email or call your Senator if s/he is on one of the committees. The House-Senate switchboard is 202-224-3121. There will be fights over specific weapons programs and opportunities to shorten the US war in Afghanistan. The Senate budget process also leads to the final stage – a House-Senate conference committee that could actually cut military spending.

Meanwhile, a battle is raging for public opinion, and our message is at the center of that battle. When House Republicans slashed social programs to feed the Pentagon, they provoked a storm of criticism because they put the key question on the table: are we going to get global insecurity or community security? (They didn’t put it that way, but when you cut food stamps and Medicaid to fund useless weapons even the Pentagon doesn’t want, the choice is pretty clear.)

Please continue sending letters to the editor, approaching local elected leaders and community leaders, and finding ways to say publicly: cut the military budget so we can survive. Ample resources are on our website.

Mike Prokosch, coordinator

New Priorities Network

Romney & JP Morgan

Our favorite economist discusses the duplicity of Mr. Dimon and the more shocking cluelessness of Gov. Romney.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Remember "Senator No" ?

Recent Senate Votes
Judicial Confirmation - Vote Confirmed (91-3, 6 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Jacqueline H. Nguyen of California to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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

Cloture Motion: Student Loan Interest Rates - Vote Rejected (52-45, 1 Present, 2 Not Voting)

This bill would extend the current 3.4 percent interest rate on federally-subsidized Stafford loans to undergraduate students for one year. This extension would be paid for by eliminating a tax preference for certain shareholders of S-Corporations. The Senate failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to invoke cloture, and thereby end debate, on the motion to proceed to the bill. It is possible the Senate will hold another cloture vote on this bill. The House passed a competing version (H.R.4628) on April 27.

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

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tax Wall Street

If you missed Bill Moyers and Company on May 13, here's the segment featuring RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United.  After you've given her twenty minutes of  your time, you'll be totally sold on the Financial Transaction Tax (the Robin Hood tax) supported by not only NNU and thousands of others here, but also by Angela Merkel and leaders all over Europe.  Well worth your time.

These Things Cost $412 Million Each?

$412,000,000 is a lot of money to pay for a warplane that turned out to be useless in Afghanistan and seems to be killing our pilots.  Built by our friends at Lockheed-Martin, there is something wrong with the oxygen system, and the latest "fix" is to put on the pilot one of those clamp things the nurse puts on your finger when you go to your doctor.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Candidates Take Heed!


What Was Morgan Thinking?

JP Morgan CEO James Dimon has announced that Morgan's traders have been doing a sloppy enough job to lose the firm $2 billion.  He, of course, still opposes the Volcker Rule that would preclude such unbuttoned trading.  The federal regulators have until July to get the rule up and running.  This Wall Street Journal article explains what's going on.  But it raises some other questions: (1) does this prove again that the "Masters of the Universe" have very little idea what they're doing? (2) could this trigger a stock market slide that we've all been dreading? (3) will the government seize the opportunity to get Volcker in place? (4) will someone (anyone!) stand up and suggest that Jamie Dimon may be overpaid?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Get Ready For Mothers Day!

This is what Mothers Day is really about.  So, unless your mother is Phyllis Schlaffly, get out and march!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Who Pays For The SEC?

Many folks don't realize the U.S. had a Financial Transaction Tax from 1914-1966 and it didn't hurt prosperity a bit during the peak of the "American Century." We still have very small one:

United States (1914-1966)

The US imposed a financial transaction tax from 1914 to 1966. The federal tax on stock sales of 0.1 per cent at issuance and 0.04 per cent on transfers. Currently, the US has a very minor 0.0034 per cent tax which is levied on stock transactions. The tax, known as Section 31 fee, is used to support the operation costs of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In 1998, the federal government collected $1.8 billion in revenue from these fees, almost five times the annual operating costs of the SEC.[32]

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bet On The Nuns

The Vatican has set up a commission (headed of course by a male cleric) to get the New Ways Ministry, an order of nuns,  to stop helping gay Catholics and start working against things like birth control.  The nuns are thinking about just leaving the church and continuing their work.  We think they'll enjoy quite a bit of support.

About Activist Beauty

When an activist like actress Ashley Judd gets too close to her target, the response is often criticism of her appearance.  In the case of women, beauty is all that counts.  A few months ago Rush Limbaugh attacked Michelle Obama because he detected weight gain. Does it make sense for him to criticize weight?  But when did the crazy Right make sense?  This is part of the War On Women, and it's very real.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Federal Budget Pie

One of the ways to confuse people about the enormous cost of military spending is to compare it to all the spending the government does, including social security, medicare, and all the other non-discretionary items.  But those items have their own revenue sources (you pay for them out of every paycheck).  To see what a giant bite military spending takes out of the budget, just look at discretionary spending - the items Congress votes on every year.  There you can see that the military takes 57%!  For super information on the federal budget and how it affects you and your state, county, and town, go to - the people who study the numbers every day.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gov. Corbett And The Gas Industry

A long and mutually positive relationship between Pennsylvania's current governor and the natural gas industry to traced in this article from Beaver County Blue.

A Letter To Your Congressman

This letter, which you could and should send to your Congressmen, was developed by New Priorities Network.

Dear Members of Congress:


Federal spending restraints are a constant topic in the midst of both a struggling economy and concerns about the deficit and debt. While there is an effort to cut spending across the broad array of annual discretionary spending programs, Pentagon spending, which comprises 57% of the discretionary budget in the FY 2013 request, continues to absorb the lion’s share.  Without more cuts to Pentagon spending, even very deep cuts to all other discretionary funding taken together will fall far short of alleviating deficit spending and the rising debt.  Pentagon spending needs to continue to be on the table as we consider our fiscal future.

As a community of advocates, we are committed to creating good jobs here in America, providing our families with security and building a brighter future for our children.  If we invest some of the billions we spend on the Pentagon in other sectors of our economy, we would actually generate MORE jobs, strengthening the middle class and protecting essential services that help our families. Economists at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that public dollars invested in clean energy, health care, and education all create significantly more jobs within the U.S. economy than investing an equivalent amount in the military.** As we struggle with high unemployment rates across the nation, this is a critical point to consider.

We want a safe and secure nation. The safety of our residents is of utmost importance. Proposals to further cut military spending should not threaten that priority. But the Pentagon budget should not be immune from oversight and fiscal responsibility. Like any other department, the Pentagon must be held accountable for its spending and be able to prove that its programs are a worthwhile use of our limited tax dollars.

We believe budget decisions reflect our values, and we believe that we can responsibly reduce military spending without compromising our nation's security. We can shift from spending on outdated, unnecessary weapons to investments in projects that keep us secure and help us prosper- first responders, teachers, bridges, roads, and rails. As you face some of the most difficult budgeting challenges in our nation's history, we urge you to consider continued responsible cuts to military spending.


**The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis,

University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Department of Economics (December 2011)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brandywine Potluck May 13

Sunday, May 13, 4:30pm, the Brandywine Peace Community's Monthly Potluck Supper/Program – Mother’s Day Program: "Madres de Managua - La economia y la salud en Nicaragua" (Mothers from Managua - the economy and health care in Nicaragua), with Sylvia Metzler, just back from Nicaragua. University Lutheran Church, 3637 Chestnut St. Phila., PA 19104

Long time justice and peace activist, Sylvia Metzler, just returned from her twenty something visit to her "pais segundo" (second country). As a member of Medicines for Nicaragua, Sylvia returns yearly to the country where she lived and worked as a nurse practitioner from 1989 to 1991.

Brandywine Peace Community Monthly Potluck Supper & Program (2nd Sunday of the month), 4:30p.m., University Lutheran Church, 3637 Chestnut Street, Phila. Bring main dish, salad, or dessert to share. On-street parking in front of church and limited parking in the lot at the rear of the church. Easily accessible by Public transportation, e.g. SEPTA route #21 (
). Visit website calendar at for directions and more!

No! Get Out Of Afghanistan!

The President, after flying half way around the world to see Karzai, came to an agreement for mutual cooperation with Afghanistan until 2024!  President Karzai said he'd submit the agreement to his parliament.  Apparently Obama sees no need to involve the US Senate in what is clearly a treaty, and clearly will  cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives.  Here's what the national office of Peace Action, this nation's largest peace organization, had to say about it.