Follow the Money in AZ, and Keep Grijalva in Congress!

October 30, 2010

2010 Elections: Follow the Money in AZ

By Judith Le Blanc

Yesterday the truth came out. Corporations met, discussed, and voted on the language for AZ Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070) a law legalizing racial profiling. Then they colluded with the AZ governor and right-wingers in the legislature to pass it.

NPR broke the story on the two bedfellows who are playing a huge role in the 2010 elections in AZ and around the country: corporate greed and ugly, racist fear mongering.

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona SB 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.”

Last night on MSNBC, Congressman Raul Grijalva responded to the revelations saying, “We have been battered by the opposition for 6 months for our opposition to SB1070. It wasn’t about immigration or border security. It‘s about building private prisons, filling them and taking a profit from the federal government.”

I am helping to coordinate a phone-calling center for the Grijalva campaign in Tucson. It is energizing to see scores of folks coming to volunteer, young and old, all colors, sizes and ages.

A good number say they never volunteered before. They were afraid of what might happen, if they didn’t get involved this time.

I have the luxury of listening in on their conversations once I get them set up on the computers, which dial the calls. They make the most compelling arguments for why we need Raul in Congress. They sometimes list the causes he has championed. But today volunteers are saying that he was right to support the call for organizations to not hold their conferences or conventions in AZ as a protest boycott.  They proudly said that we need more elected officials, like Raul, who will stand up against the rich and powerful who try to divide the poor and working people.

Think Progress (a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a nonpartisan organization) found the same kind of ties between private prison groups and candidates or legislators in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Money has been pouring in from undisclosed sources for the Tea Party candidate Ruth McClung who is challenging Raul. You still have an opportunity to contribute what you can for the Get Out the Vote efforts here in AZ.




Last Chance!

October 29, 2010
The midterm elections are only a few days away. This is your last chance to help important peace candidates.  Please take the following actions now: 

First, give generously to these peace candidates who are in extremely close races and are in a severe cash disadvantage by visiting this website:

http://www.actblue.com/page/peace-action

Second, spend some time over the next several days volunteering for campaigns. You can visit the above website to see in-person and online volunteering opportunities.

Third, make sure you vote.  Peace Action knows you are the type of person who votes.  Your vote next Tuesday, November 2nd — or earlier — is crucial to electing peace candidates.  Voter turnout will be high on Election Day, so have a plan ready for getting to the polls. Take time to decide when you plan to vote during the day and how much time you need.  Or better yet, take advantage of early voting options that are available in many states.  Check up on your state’s requirements for voter ID, poll hours and election types. Be informed of your state’s absentee ballot and early voting deadlines. (For up-to-date state election guides, visit the New Organizing Institute at http://elections.neworganizing.com/guide/).

We have done the hard research and know that the candidates listed here meet the following criteria:

1.  They will work hard on the issues you and Peace Action care about

2.  They are in close races where your help can make a difference

3.  Their opponents have more money than they do and you can even the playing field

Please click the below link to help elect a more peaceful Congress:

http://www.actblue.com/page/peace-action

Thanks to your previous generosity, we are sending our top organizer, Judith LeBlanc, who has over thirty years of experience to work the final crucial days to re-elect Representative Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ 7th), now co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who has consistently represented your and Peace Action’s values by scoring high or perfect on our voting record.  His race is considered a toss up and we need your help.

We are also sending our own Jonathan Williams — one of the best youth organizers — to New Hampshire to support New Hampshire Peace Action’s work to re-elect Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1st) and elect Ann McLane Kuster to the second district.  Kuster is at a cash disadvantage and needs your help.

Other Peace Action affiliates are sending organizers to key races with peace candidates.  They are volunteering for campaigns, distributing voter guides and working to get out the vote.

Paid for by Peace Action PAC and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee

 


Child Soldiers and Nuclear Nonsense

October 29, 2010

The Washington Post and Associated Press reported yesterday the Obama Administration granted a waiver allowing continued US military aid to Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Yemen, even though those countries still employ child soldiers. The waiver was “necessary” because otherwise, military aid to those countries would have been cut off under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush, that renowned peacenik, near the end of his term. Somehow, I can’t imagine Obama voters thought this was the “change you can believe in” they voted for in 2008.

However, there is a perverse consistency here, as the US is one of only two countries (Somalia being the other) that haven’t  ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in part because we recruit 17 year olds into the military (though they can’t be sent into combat until they turn 18), which goes against the treaty. Shameful is the only word I can think of to describe these policies.

Then there is the nonsensical notion that the recent loss of communications regarding 1/9th of the US land-based ICBM fleet (50 out of 450 nuclear-tipped missiles, all with tens or hundreds of times  the explosive power of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945) is a reason to scrap the modest New START agreement with Russia, and/or to hand over even more of our tax dollars (in a time of tight budgets for seemingly everything except stuff that goes “BOOM!”)  to the nuclear weapons complex. The Obama Administration has already promised $180 billion over the next decade for nuclear weapons production complex and delivery sytems “modernization” in an attempt to gain Republican votes for New START ratification. The Administration is already negotiating with key New START opponent Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ, and he hates pretty much all arms control agreements) to see if they can shovel more money to the Dr. Strangeloves in our nuclear weapons establishment in order to get his support for New START.

Again, shameful. For a more rational view on the state of this Administration’s and the other nuclear states’ disarmament and non-proliferation policies, see the Arms Control Association’s latest statement and Report Card.


Money Talks, but Congressman Raul Grijalva Walks the Walk!

October 28, 2010

In July, after the Congressional vote on war funding, Raul Grijalva wrote a blog entitled, A Credit Card for War, But No Cash for Teachers. He said ” We find it unacceptable that this Congress places a greater priority on foreign wars than urgent domestic needs. We have compounded our moral short-sightedness with utter fiscal irresponsibility.”

Raul has stood firm on opposing the war and for the urgent economic needs of his constituents in AZ and communities across the country.

And has for years. That is why I am very happy to be here in AZ working on Raul’s reelection campaign. That is also why he urgently needs your support in these final days of the campaign.

In 2005, when I was the co chair of United for Peace and Justice, we invited Raul to speak to an anti war rally of hundreds of thousands in Washington, DC. He urged the crowd to organize in our communities to end the war because the true costs of the war, both human and economic, would haunt us for years.

Raul’s Tea Party opponent Ruth McClung, has a gazillion dollars and a media campaign of ugly, racist fear mongering.

But here at Raul’s campaign office in Tucson the spirit is high. Volunteers of all colors and ages are busy stuffing envelopes and making calls.

Raul has people power and a fired up base. The recipe for beating fear mongering is a good combination of people power and money. But the people power is not enough when battling a highly financed big lie media campaign.

In the final days, Grijalva’s campaign needs more money to get out the vote. Money is needed for gas to ferry seniors and handicapped to the polls, more money to add phone lines. And even more money to keep ads on the air in the final days to debunk the lies.

At a Grijalva campaign rally last Saturday, House Representative Barbara Lee told the crowd that if Raul is defeated, it would be a set back for the entire progressive movement. Not only a disaster for the constituents of Congressional District 7, but for the entire country. And I would add, for the peace and justice movements as well.

So please donate what you can: http://www.actblue.com/page/peace-action


Add Your Voice to a Petition Calling for The Participation of Women in Peace Negotiations Around the World

October 26, 2010

From our friends at the Global Fund for Women:

Too often women and children bear the greatest brunt of war. Violence against women is repeatedly used to break and humiliate women, men and communities in conflict areas around the world.

On October 31, 2000 the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on women and peace and security. But its implementation has been far too slow.

On this 10th anniversary the Global Fund for Women – the world’s largest women’s foundation supporting the advancement of women’s human rights – is asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the leadership of the United States in ensuring that peace processes around the world have the full participation of women at all stages. Women’s innovative and courageous actions to demand accountability for human rights violations during conflict, their role in sustaining their communities, and the alternatives they create to address conflict, must be recognized. Please take action and sign our petition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Thank you!
____________________

Christine Ahn
Senior Policy & Research Analyst
Global Fund for Women

222 Sutter Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94108

 


British MilBud Cut a Start, the US should follow, and Go Much Further

October 22, 2010

Nearly every day while I was in London (October 6-12), the newspapers carried stories about the new British government’s budget review. While there was  justificable consternation about proposed cuts to education, child benefits, pensions and other human needs programs, the good news was the Tory-Liberal Democrat government was facing up to the reality that cuts in the military budget were inevitable.

The cuts announced earlier this week were substantial, though many would argue they should have gone deeper. Overall, Britain’s military budget of about $59 billion per year (less than one-tenth the US military budget) will be cut by about 8% over the next four years. Ten percent of military personnel will be cut (though the government intends to maintain 10,000 troops in Afghanistan for up to five more years), and cuts to fighter jets, aircraft carriers, tanks and artillery were announced. Our colleagues at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the British-American Security Information Council were pleased (as was I) that the decision on whether to build new Trident nuclear weapons-carrying submarines was deferred for at least five years. Also, the government announced a 25% reduction in the operational nuclear warhead stockpile from 225 to 180.

Other than foolishly retaining a vestige of its colonial past when “the Sun never set on the British Empire”  by playing junior partner to the United States’ global military imperium, why in the world does Britain need any aircraft carriers, submarines or nuclear weapons?

Of course, the Big Cahuna in global military spending is the US, which spends about as much as the rest of the world’s countries combined. In December, a deficit reduction commission will report to the president and Congress its recommendations for spending cuts. We’ll need to stay tuned and get active to ensure the bulk of the spending cuts come from our outrageously bloated military budget, rather than from human needs programs and Social Security. More on this soon, as Peace Action and our allies are building an education and action campaign around the commission’s report, which follows on our participation in U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s Sustainable Defense Task Force..


We’re #1!

October 21, 2010

The U.S. is the #1 weapons dealer in the world, and weapons are the country’s top manufacturing export.  The Obama Administration has had a $60 billion weapons deal to Saudi Arabia in the pipeline for some time now, but it just officially notified Congress of the proposed sale, according to this morning’s Washington Post. Here is our intern, Katherine Mullen’s, take on the issue from the InSane feature in our upcoming newsletter:

What does new job growth and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East have in common? For the Obama administration, the answer is a nearly $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

 
As first reported by The Wall Street Journal in September, the administration is prepared to authorize the Saudis to buy 84 new F-15 fighters, upgrade 70 more and purchase three types of helicopters: 70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds. The foreign arms sale would be the largest in U.S. history.

 
Details of the arms deal surfaced as President Obama was set to notify Congress, where lawmakers can review the plan and possibly pass legislation to block the sale. By law, the president has to give Congress a 30-day notice before making a deal to the Saudis.

 
Defense industry analysts and lawmakers view the potential sale as a way to create domestic jobs and strengthen the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in containing Iran. As reported in The Washington Post on Sept. 14, military officials estimated that the arms deal would involve 77,000 direct and indirect jobs in 44 states for Boeing, which produces F-15s, Little Birds and Apaches.

 
Selling $60 billion worth of advanced fighter jets and helicopters for Saudi Arabia’s defense is not a smart path to international security and creating American jobs. It’s In-SANE.


New START Senate Vote – Wait ‘Til Next Year?

October 15, 2010

No, this is no Cub fan’s (or old Brooklyn Dodger fan’s) lament. The Washington Post yesterday quoted Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO)  as saying there is considerable sentiment in the Republican Caucus that a vote on New START ratification should wait until next year, and not be voted on in the “lame duck” session after the mid-term elections. (This after the Obama Administration has promised $180 billion over the next decade to upgrade the US nuclear weapons production complex and delivery systems, and after the nuke weapons budget got a 10% increase that almost no other government program got in the recent Continuing Resolution to keep the govt. operating, mostly at current budget levels, all of this supposedly to buy R votes for New START).

This is no big surprise, and it remains to be seen whether the R’s who feel this way will succeed in kicking the can down the road. If they do, the treaty, a modest but important step to cut the US and Russian arsenals of deployed, strategic nuclear warheads by between 1/4 and 1/3  to 1, 550 weapons each, will likely languish. Treaty ratifications require a 2/3 vote in the Senate, and finding 67 Senators to vote in favor would be even tougher next year if, as presumed, the R’s pick up Senate seats.

Harry Reid, John Kerry, and the Administration will need to stay firm on their plans to put the treaty to a vote in the lame duck session, if, that is, they are confident they have the 67 votes, which is by no means a sure bet.

Stay tuned.


London Calling!

October 13, 2010

Plaque at tree planted in memory of those killed by the Hiroshima A-bomb in London's Tavistock Square

Gandhi Statue in the middle of London’s Tavistock Square

Just got back from London, where I had a spectacular time at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s annual conference (yep, CND is the group known for the peace symbol!) and seeing quite a bit of that most enchanting city. I spoke about the chimera of Star Wars “missile defense” and how it harms efforts at disarmament, and also on future policy and organizing priorities for peace, in the US and internationally.

 
I also participated, with European and Japanese peace movement leaders, in a terrific planning meeting where we discussed possible future collaboration on ending the Afghanistan/Pakistan War, campaigns to slash military spending in order to reinvest in human needs, and international efforts for nuclear disarmament, including a potential campaign around the UN’s 2012 conference on a Middle East Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone.

 
While in England, it was clear the economic and opportunity costs of the wars (plural, Iraq is still a terrible mess) and addiction to militarism are perhaps even more politically salient in Britain, France, Germany and other countries than they are here. But also the reality is even if one analyzes the US/NATO policies in Iraq and Afghanistan on their (the war-makers’) terms (not ours) the situations in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are abject failures.

 

International Panel at the CND conference in London

My sense is the organizing climate to reach new audiences with our peaceful and just alternatives to these endless, calamitous wars and boundless military budgets — in many, many countries — is now as ripe as I can remember in quite some time. It should be clear to all we simply can’t afford these wars or this militaristic foreign policy anymore, in human and economic terms. 2011 could be a real turning point, not just in bringing about short-term solutions, but in striking a powerful, non-violent blow against the vile sickness of militarism.


Power to the People – Peace Activists Targeted by Obama Administration Snub Grand Jury

October 5, 2010

By now you’ve probably heard – the President of “change” and the “Nobel Peace Prize” and his administration refuse to even consider holding anyone in the previous administration accountable for war crimes and torture, but raided the homes of peace activists on September 24. Those activists, standing up for the rights of all of us, are refusing to testify before the grand jury that has summoned them. Here’s an Associated Press article with the latest.

Our colleagues at Defending Dissent Foundation have an action alert to contact your Member of Congress to protest this outrage, please let your voice be heard!


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