The Flywheel

Next Meeting: September 2nd

Q: What do they have in common?

A 3-legged dog, a farmer's daughter, a priest, minister and rabbi, and at least one lawyer?

You guessed it. They're all likely to make an appearance at this Friday's Joke Day. How about you?

Bring your sense of humor and a joke or two. Can't tell jokes? No matter. Sit quietly and give thumbs up or down.

In the meantime, do you think this photo we dug up is a long-supressed image of Jim Beaver, age 2? Note the hair.


Meeting of Friday, August 26th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

On a bright day that rewarded us with views clear across the Bay, President EJ Shalaby brought the meeting to order. Doris Mitchell led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. Stoney requested, for those who are prayerfully-inclined, a moment of silent prayer for peace, freedom and justice . (As for the rest of us, a quiet moment to examine our shoes.) Nick Despota offered the Thought for the Day: Even as growing numbers of Americans have become discouraged about the capacity of the federal government to tackle big problems, people in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya struggle to build new democratic systems. The human appetite for freedom is strong and durable.

Rotarians with Guests

George Egan introduced his two guests, from Apperture Mobile: Ron Wilson and Art Swenson. Before the start of the meeting, Edgar De Leon walked in flanked by a couple men standing at least a head taller than him, one carrying a basketball. They were Edgar’s guests from the Richmond Rockets, of the American Basketball Association (ABA): Eric Marquis, Keith Hazell, and another gentleman whose name we missed. The Rocket’s Vice-President of Marketing, Pilar Bernard also joined the team.

Special Events

Joan Davis was pleased to award a Paul Harris to one of our newest Rotarians, Doris Mitchell. Doris received an enthusiastic round of applause from the membership. Congratulations, Doris.


Since neither of our reigning Masters of Recognitions were present today, the 40 or so people in the room had to be content with recognizing one another. They did and they were.

Happy and Sad Dollars

Josh Surowitz was happy that Rafael Madrigal again this year organized the Club’s trip to the A’s game. Josh brought his one-and-a-half year old boy to the event, and the kid had a great time. Who says you gotta understand something in order to enjoy it? (Ask lovers of Italian opera.)

Norm's Nonsense

"Doctor, I don't know what's wrong with me but I hurt all over. If I touch my shoulder here, it hurts; and if I touch my leg here, it hurts; and if I touch my head here, it hurts; and if I touch my foot here, it hurts."

Doctor: "I believe you've broken your finger."



The New Priorities Campaign

Program Director Jim Young introduced today’s presenter, Betty Brown, a life-long peace activist. Betty, in turn, introduced her friend, Grace Morizawa.

Together the two women laid out the goals of the New Priorities Campaign. The campaign is dedicated to establishing new federal budget priorities: spending dramatically less on military operations and reallocating this money for job creation and social programs. Guns or butter?

Betty presented a slide show that began with a quotation by Nobel Prize Economist Joseph Stieglitz, stating that the long-term costs of the war in Afghanistan will prove to be an order of magnitude greater than the billions allocated to these wars over the last several years.

U.S. military expenditures exceed those of all other countries combined. And while it is true that military spending creates some jobs, the presentation stated, it creates fewer decent paying jobs than many other non-military spending choices. What's more, the Stieglitz quote reminded us that military jobs come with heavy fiscal and social liabilities for the future.

Lest war-making be held solely responsible for our nation’s current economic weakness, the campaign slide show also asserted that the Bush era tax cuts, combined with Congress’s refusal (or inability) to increase taxes on our nation’s wealthiest individuals and richest corporations, are prime factors contributing to our ever-growing deficits.

The New Priorities Campaign is driven by four goals:

  • End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Set a date certain for complete troop withdrawal.
  • Cut the bloated Pentagon budgets by defunding weapons systems that even some generals (and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) claim are unnecessary.
  • Increase tax rates on the wealthiest individuals. Close loopholes that permit some of the largest corporations to pay no taxes at all.
  • Invest in our communities, fund programs that create jobs, restore funding for education and social programs, because thriving communities are the foundation of a sound economy.

In her closing remarks, Betty reported that recent polling has found majorities of Americans support both the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and higher levels of taxation for the wealthiest Americans. Popular sentiment and political will would therefore seem to be at odds right now.

To learn more about the New Priorities Campaign, or to see the narrated slide show that Betty presented, visit the organization’s website at Bay Area.

Editor's aside: This website also offers a 2-minute video by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, addressing the power of defense contractor lobbyists. Reich rails against the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which is undoubtedly increasing the influence of lobbyists by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money—much of which, in the case of the defense industry, is the tax-payer’s—all under the banner of "free speech."

-Occasional editor, Nick Despota