Friday, November 30, 2012

What's Bernie Saying?

Read up on what our favorite Senator is saying and doing.  It has to make you feel better.

Krugman On Class War

They couldn't keep their taxes low by pushing Mitt Romney, so now the plutocrats are pushing Bowles-Simpson and other strategies to raise the retirement age, cut medicare, and otherwise hurt the middle and lower classes.  Krugman says don't let them do it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

About Fixing The Senate

Speaking of the Senate, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said "a body like this runs on comity and common sense."  We fear the Senator has been spending too much time in the Florida sun.  As usual, Gail Collins had the last word.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Walter --
When the Senate's new session convenes in January, we'll have 55 members in the Democratic caucus, and the Republicans will have 45 members.
With that expanded majority, Democrats will be able to enact the kind of policies that Americans clamored for in the last election -- creating more jobs, protecting Social Security and Medicare, ending tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, implementing the DREAM Act, changing Citizens United, and so much more.
Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Because of the increasing abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, the kind of real progress demanded by the American people on Election Day will be difficult -- unless something changes.
That's where you come in.
Click here to help me build public support for vital filibuster reform. Sign my petition to my Senate colleagues today!
A filibuster is supposed to be used in rare situations when a senator strongly opposes a piece of legislation. My colleagues are supposed to take to the Senate floor and passionately defend their opposition, to build support for their point-of-view and make their objection clear for all to see.
That's how it's supposed to work.
But today, a single senator can simply threaten to filibuster, and the Senate's business comes to a grinding halt. The senator doesn't even have to show up or make their name public, for fear of defending an indefensible position.
When the Senate reconvenes in January, we will have the rare opportunity to change our rules, and return the filibuster back to its original form. If a senator wants to filibuster, come to the Senate floor and talk. And if the American people agree with them, they'll prevail. If their filibuster is not worth defending on the Senate floor, the new rule will allow the Senate to move on.
It's going to be tough -- we face a lot of Republican opposition -- but if you help me build public support, I think we can do this.
Click here to sign my petition, urging my Senate colleagues to pass filibuster reform when the new Senate convenes in January.
Since we retook the Senate in 2006, Republican senators have used this filibuster tactic more than 300 times to block Democratic priorities -- they've stood in the way of important judicial nominations and bills that would create jobs, end taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil… the list goes on.
It's time to break through the partisan gridlock. It's time to reform the filibuster.
Thank you for standing with me,

Dick Durbin
U.S. Senator
Take action
Paid for by Friends of Dick Durbin

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No Deal Is Better Than A Bad Deal

Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest should Not be extended - even for a short time

The hype about the "fiscal cliff" has lawmakers and others wringing their hands. However, the cliff (if approached) would be more like a slope, with damage to the economy beginning to happen over the following weeks and months, unless alternative are developed.

Congress is now considering a 2-stage alternative. House members are still determined to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for those who have the greatest wealth and income, in a short-term deal. They would then, later, decide how to pay for them. This is not acceptable.

A temporary solution needs to include:

  • Allowing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire on December 31
  • Further cuts to Pentagon spending

Please call and email your Senators. You can call between now and November 28, using this toll-free number: 1-888-743-1097.

Tell them to eliminate the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% in our nation, and fund social safety-net programs that allow people who need them to live in dignity.

You can send an e-mail message to your Senators and Representatives at

Monday, November 26, 2012

Warren Buffett On Tax Rates

Do you know someone who would pass up a good investment opportunity because of the taxes he might have to pay?  Neither does Warren Buffet.  He exists only in Grover Norquist's fevered imagination.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Triangle Fire Again?

This horror is just over a hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City started us on the road to safer factory conditions in this country.  But in Bangladesh (and many other countries) the crime goes on.  You can bet this clothing factory was not making garments for the Bangladeshi, but for Americans and other westerners who deal in these misbegotten goods.  When will it end?

Friday, November 23, 2012

How Old Is The Earth? Rubio Calls It A Mystery

Senator Rubio says the theologians haven't decided yet how old the earth is.  Theologians?  What about geologists?  The Republican party is very leery of scientists because they may teach children things contrary to their parents' religion-based prejudices.  This is no way to operate in the 21st century.  Our favorite economist, Paul Krugman, has a few interesting things to say.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tax Wealth In Addition To Income

Even a small tax (say 1.5%) on wealth would do wonders in ameliorating the gross economic inequality that dogs this country.

It's Good To Be Rich

This is about a pretty good birthday party featuring, among other things, Sir Paul McCartney.  Click on the link and you'll also get a free Beatles song.

A Letter To The Inquirer

Should look to Scandinavia

Why do people point to Spain and Greece as horrible models, but don't explain why the Scandinavian countries are doing so well? Readers of Kate Picket and Richard Wilkinson's book The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger know the reason: The Scandinavian countries work hard at limiting economic inequality. Until Greece and Spain and the United States do that, they're going to be in trouble.
Walter Ebmeyer, Bryn Mawr,         11/20/2012

Clean Up Our Elections And The Congress!

Get on board to support an act of congress written by Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.  It would change how elections are financed, control lobbyists, and impose new disclosure reuirements.  Click the link to learn more, sign up, and read the act itself.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, December 16, at 3 p.m.

Holiday Concert

at Peace Center of Delaware County...

1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064

Keith Calmes, Classical Guitar

‘Master Musician’

Guitar for Practicing Musician magazine


has multiple degrees in classical guitar performance, including from the Juilliard School of Music. He is the author of several books, including Guitar Music of the 16th Century and Gospel Favorites for Classical Guitar. He recently completed a recording of works written for him, All We Know Is Now, and has recorded six albums in the last two years with prominent Dutch composer Chiel Meijering.

Keith teaches guitar full-time at Wall High School in New Jersey and is a member of Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts. As winner of the Artists International Competition, Keith gave his Carnegie Recital Hall debut in 1992.

More at

2 p.m. — Pre-Concert reception

hot cider, refreshments, CD sales, holiday craft tables

Benefit donation for Brandywine Peace Community

More information or directions:

or call (610) 544-1818


Performing with Keith will be one of his students,
Dean Maola (above), a freshman at Strath Haven High School. Dean has studied with Keith since the age of six.

Friday, December 7, at 7 p.m.

Peace Center of Delaware County

1001 Old Sproul Rd., Springfield, PA


Joyeux Noel

‘Merry Christmas’

Christmas 1914, World War I rages across Europe. Soldiers on the front lines face unthinkable carnage. This Oscar-nominated "Best Foreign Language Film" is based on the true story of the unauthorized truce that inspired the song of "Christmas In The Trenches."

Winter winds blow across the no-mans-land as British and French troops hunker down in their trenches on one side of the divide, German troops in their trenches on the other.

The fates of a French lieutenant, a Scottish priest, a German tenor, and a Danish soprano will change forever, along with all the beleaguered souls who step out of their trenches this Christmas without guns. They greet their battlefield enemies with chocolate, a sip of wine, and a "Merry Christmas" — a sharing not to be tolerated by their superiors.

But, on this Christmas, they sing together a carol of peace!

2005. 116 mins. PG-13. Written and directed by Christian Carion. English, French and German with English subtitles.

Christmas Eve 1914

On a World War I battlefield, an event changed the lives of soldiers from France, Germany, and England.

Based on a true story.

Peace Center of Delaware County

First-Friday Film Series

Springfield Friends Meetinghouse

(Behind Mr. Car Wash, at the corner of Old Marple and

Rt. 320/W Sproul Road)

7 p.m. — Free — Large Screen

Doors open 6:30 p.m. for light refreshments.

After-film discussion


(610) 544-1818

Cosponsosred by Brandywine Peace Community


Directed by

Robert Redford

Coming Fri., January 4, 2013

In times of war, the law falls silent.


Twinkies And The Economy

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thoughts on Gaza

Sometimes the letters to the editor carry a great deal of wisdom.  These four impressively informed letters in today's New York Times deserve a read.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Roosevelt And The Blue Dogs

Franklin Roosevelt wanted to run for a third term in 1940, but conservative forces in  the Democratic convention (today we would call them Blue Dogs) were muddying the waters.  Finally, in this famous letter, Roosevelt reminded the convention that Democrats win when they act like Democrats - liberal, progressive, interested in the middle class and the workers.  He even threatened to quit if they didn't change their tune.  Democrats today should heed his words.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How Are The 1% Doing?

Nan HayworthThe top cheerleader for the 1 percent in Congress? Over the last two years, that may have been Nan Hayworth, the wealthy doctor who represents New York’s Hudson Valley. Hayworth in 2011 introduced legislation to repeal the Dodd-Frank act provision that requires corporations to disclose the ratio between what they pay their CEOs and what they pay their typical workers. Hayworth also bitterly opposes raising the minimum wage. One slight problem with her stance: The good doctor doesn’t even know how much minimum wage workers are currently making. In a speech shortly before Election Day, Hayworth put the minimum at ”$10 to $11 an hour,” about 40 percent higher than the actual $7.25 federal minimum. The good news? In a major upset, Hudson Valley voters last week refused to return Hayworth to Capitol Hill.

This is from, a publication of the Institute for Policy Studies.  You might want to see the whole issue and maybe start your own subscription.

More Obstacle Course Than Fiscal Cliff

Some enlightenment from our National Priorities friend, Chris Hellman.

Too Big To Fail Or Just Too Big?

This article is about an international study done before the crash about the concentration of economic power and wealth in the hands of a small number of corporations.  Worldwide, 1318 companies control 80% of global revenues.  But they are so interconnected that only 147 companies control 40% of total wealth.  Is this "market discipline" or " market terrorism"?  Listed here are leading companies in the United States.  You could have guessed them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Which Polls Were Most Accurate?

For many of us in the last weeks of the election campaign, the mantra was "Keep calm and trust Nate Silver."  He was proprietor of "538," the NY Times's poll-reading outfit, and the messages he drew from dozens of polls ended up being amazingly accurate.  This Times article is about which polls were most accurate and why.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Was The Romney Thing All About?

Before we consign Romney to the shades of history along with Wendell Willkie and Bob Dole,  we should consider that 48% of American voters chose him last Tuesday.  What was that all about?  Frank Rich has some ideas in New York magazine.

Bill Moyers on November 11

Bill Moyers and guests discuss the meaning of Tuesday's election and what it did to the conservative propaganda machine.  In Philadelphia, Noon, Sunday, on WHYY-TV, Channel 12, or click on the link.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fiscal Cliff, Sequestration, Debt, Tax Cuts, etc.

Here, from our friends at National Priorities, is information on the approaching fiscal cliff and how you can learn even more about it.  Even if you've never been particularly keen on budget and fiscal issues, for the next two months they will be issue #1.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Next From Obama?


This perceptive essay from Elizabeth Drew, though printed in the November 8, 2012 issue of New York Review of Books, was written before the election.  Nevertheless, it answers many of our questions about what to expect from the re-elected President.  In the looming fight over the fiscal cliff and sequestration and military spending and the "Budget for All," her insight into what we can expect from Obama now is invaluable.

Elizabeth Drew

Close observers of President Obama’s style of governing expect that a second term of his presidency, were that to come about, will likely embolden him in his dealings with Congress. Reelection may be sweet but it doesn’t guarantee that Obama will be a profoundly changed man. He accomplished a lot more in his first term than is generally understood—in part because it took him a long time to figure out how to talk about his successes. At times his rookiness showed. A reelection—a confirmation by the country—and a continuing economic recovery would provide him with a changed landscape, and opportunities to extend his reach.
His reluctance in his first four years to fight as hard for his programs as his allies thought he should—and in their view his willingness to cede too much ground to his opponents—were the most oft-voiced criticisms on Capitol Hill. There’s an abundance of speculation about what he will try to do in his second term, but history tells us that priorities tend to be sorted out on the run. Retrospective critiques of what Obama—or any president—should have done rarely take into account the flurry of information he was presented with, the quiet pressures applied by congressional leaders of his party, or the quality of the advice of his staff. One piece of advice or information that seems in hindsight the right thing to have done didn’t necessarily stand out; no flashing lights or buzzers went off.
Some second-term issues are inescapable, in particular the looming “fiscal cliff”: if Congress and the president don’t agree on a new federal budget by the end of the year, spending on every federally funded program will be subjected to a deep, mindless, across-the-board cut—or sequester of funds. At the same time, the Bush tax cuts and certain other breaks—for example the temporarily reduced payroll tax—are set to expire. This calamity, which Congress imposed on itself because it could not reach an agreement with the president, may be postponed beyond the lame-duck Congress. Meanwhile a number of proposals waft about, none of them easy—or the country wouldn’t be in this fix.
But on this issue the reelected president has an advantage. Unlike other legislation, the budget needs the approval of only a majority in the Senate. Filibusters not allowed. Through the all-encompassing budget Obama can put his stamp on the shape and obligations of the federal government. He is also expected to try to at last win an immigration program, both because he owes the Hispanics for their strong support and also because it needs to be done. This would be his own civil rights achievement. He will undoubtedly try to create more jobs, especially in infrastructure, and take other steps to recreate opportunity for the devastated middle class. The list will grow.
A more important question than what Obama will try to do is, how will he try to do it? Will his manner of governing be very different than it was in the first term? He will still be Barack Obama, a contradiction of ambitious and cautious. He’s simply different from the conventional politician. He’s more self-contained, less needy, than almost any president in modern times. (Certainly less so than Bill Clinton or Lyndon Johnson.) He’s quite evidently not displeased with himself—and there’s much to be pleased with himself about. And Obama’s unique personality affects his political dealings. He conducts the business of politics but keeps a certain part of himself in reserve, holds it back.
Barack and Michelle Obama during a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, August 2012
Why this matters is that Obama’s reserve can come across as aloof, be off-putting to other politicians, and translate into a reluctance to get his hands dirty by working with them. It can irritate businessmen who do not understand why he isn’t falling at their feet, doing whatever he can to win their approval.
Obama’s standoffishness can move to disdain and, unfortunately for him, in the first presidential debate he did little to hide his disdain—for the situation he found himself in and for his opponent. He has never liked debates, regarding them—with validity—as artificial tests of qualities that have little to do with governing. He resisted preparation in 2008, and this time he was up against a slick, hyper opponent who would twist the facts, say anything that seemed useful at the moment, determined to get under his skin, and disrespectful of the office of the presidency. Since he was obviously tired—preparation for a debate takes an absurd amount of time away from the responsibilities of governing—Obama’s dislike of Mitt Romney and debates, and his pride, caused him to seem to have checked out.
He did miss opportunities to confront Romney on some of his more preposterous statements. But his responses to questions made a lot more sense and if his resentment was set aside, his performance was a lot better than the second-guessers and those who rushed to judgment gave him credit for—just as the dubious nature of many of Romney’s statements was largely overlooked in the awe at his energetic performance. But debates have long been judged more by style than substance, one of the reasons Obama disdains them, so he has a lot to get past for the next ones. His campaign the next day, making fun of “this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney” and “what the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year” saying, showed that he knew that he had messed up.
Discussions of what Obama will do or should have done in his first term often overlook the fact that there was a Republican Party implacable in its opposition to virtually everything of any significance he proposed. This was without precedent in modern American politics; the system of governing came very close to not functioning at all.
Obama didn’t have the opportunity that Bill Clinton had to work with a dozen or so Republican senators to get things done. Republican senators with a modicum of responsibility, who have—or would have—cooperated with the president at all, are nearly extinct or living in terror of a Tea Party challenger to their nomination for another term. Republicans more inclined to work with Obama found themselves isolated, and some were bumped off in the primaries in 2010 and this year. After a while Obama found ways to work around Congress, for example with his executive order earlier this year allowing young people who had entered the country illegally with their parents to stay for two years if they met certain qualifications. He also took his own steps to make changes in the implementation of welfare and education laws. There are numerous ways a president can interpret or administer legislation to reflect his political position.
Since the congressional Republicans paid a price for their negativity over the last four years—their poll ratings have been barely off the floor—one would think that they would make a rational decision to work with the president and display a soup├žon of responsibility. But the House Republican caucus, in the grip of the Tea Party, has veered off into the irrational. There have been inklings that some Republicans get it, and whispers on Capitol Hill that maybe they won’t fight unto death to maintain the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
Other realities shape what a reelected Obama would be able to do. Those who have charged that he should have got more done in his first two years, when the Democrats nominally had sixty votes in the Senate—theoretically enough to break a filibuster—fail, deliberately or not, to take into account that in reality sixty votes were not really at his disposal on major issues. At least two or three Senate Democrats were truly conservative or truly scared of reelection challenges and so didn’t support him when it mattered most. He had to win the votes of at least a couple of Republicans, who usually exacted a price—or played the prima donna until they announced that they were going to do what they were going to do anyway.
No amount of speechifying on Obama’s part would have got him more votes on certain issues about which he has been attacked, particularly on the left, for not having fought harder; the senators involved had their own overriding exigencies. There simply weren’t the votes for adding a public option to the health care program. There weren’t the votes for a larger stimulus program, not to mention a second one.
Obama’s failure was larger, and here is where he can change the nature of his presidency in a second term: he offered no overriding vision; he didn’t inspire; he didn’t lead. His soaring campaign rhetoric in 2008 was tantalizing, suggesting that when he got to Washington he would mobilize the public and with them behind him he would smash the old “system.”
But faced with an economic crisis and having decided that providing health care to virtually all citizens would be his highest domestic priority, he immersed himself in dealing with the details of the matters before him—and lost his tongue. He never quite grasped the importance of governing rhetoric, which requires concrete explanation wrapped in larger purpose. He has acknowledged shortcomings in this respect, but whether he will adapt is another matter.
And so, quite remarkably, Obama lost the definition of the health care bill he was battling to get through Congress. The White House set up a special health care “message” shop that did little good. Though the president rattled off the key provisions of his proposal, from time to time, he didn’t do it in a forceful way, or with the stagecraft that is essential to the presidency—if it is got right. (Even if it is as simple as the “fireside chat.”) This failure on Obama’s part had consequences in the smashing success of the Tea Party in 2010, which changed the face of American politics.
Obama has been defending the health care law more effectively in this presidential campaign but he lost precious time and also the aura of leadership. A second term will show us how much he learned from his first one.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

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What About After The Election?

The weeks after the election - the Congressional lame duck period - and the beginnings of the new term and Congress will be crucial, and the man likely to play a major role is Jacob Lew, White House Chief of Staff,  former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and very likely the next Secretary of the Treasury.  This long article from National Journal tells us about who Lew is, where he comes from, and the likely direction he will take.  Well worth a read.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

“Broken On All Sides”

Movie Screening, Discussion,
& Activist Networking Event
"Broken On All Sides is a compelling documentary addressing racial
inequities within our criminal justice system and its devastating
collateral consequences."
- James E. Williams, Jr.

Saturday, November 17
2:30 pm
International House
3701 Chestnut Street

Endorsed by the Green Party of Philadelphia,

For more information, please contact 215-243-7103 and