How Do you Fix the Deficit? End the Wars, Tax the Rich! Great Move the Money Rally in Boston last Thursday!

May 20, 2013

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

One of the great benefits of my job is traveling the country and observing/supporting/learning from the outstanding work Peace Action affiliates, chapters and activists carry out every day of the year. Last week I was in Boston for a terrific rally protesting sequestration and budget cuts to human needs programs, and calling instead for cuts to the bloated Pentagon budget. Hats off to Massachusetts Peace Action and their allies in the Budget for All coalition (which organized the wonderful referendum of the same name last November that passed overwhelmingly everywhere around the state it appeared on the ballot). The rally was energetic, diverse (people of color, labor, education, housing and education advocates all spoke and turned out their members, as well as Peace Action and American Friends Service Committee) and militant yet welcoming. Also some great slogans and songs (including the one in the title of this post). Enjoy these photos and be inspired to organize for peace and justice in your community!

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Action Alert: Pull the Pork from the Pentagon Budget!

February 20, 2013

As the debate continues on the automatic spending cuts, the deficit, and the 2013 federal budget, it may seem like there is no way forward.

Over a trillion has already been cut in the last two years to community services programs in the federal discretionary budget. The idea of  “sequestration” making 50-50 cuts between domestic needs and the Pentagon is a rope-a-dope, at best!

Congress has a choice to make! Let’s start by pulling the pork from the Pentagon budget.

On February 27, we are joining USAction and others in cities and towns across the country, to tell Congress to Pull the Pork

Have you heard about the Pentagon spending $1.5 million to develop their own beef jerky? Or how about the $9 billion being spent on the Osprey helicopter which has been fraught with problems for years? Some call it the “pork with wings.” When Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense he tried to kill the program 4 times and failed.

Some in Congress would rather cut first responders, education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid than cut the Pentagon budget.  But, across the political spectrum, new voices of reason in both parties are being raised to cut Pentagon waste. Without public pressure we won’t win.

On February 27, join us for an action in your community.  Find a location; download materials to hold your own event or fact sheets to write Letters to the Editor or question your Congressional representatives this week while they are at home for the Congressional recess. Go to http://pullthepork.org/

Move the Money from wars and new weapons, to fund jobs and human services.

Judith LeBlanc
Field Director
Peace Action


Dr King on Peace, Militarism and Internationalism

January 19, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King at a press conference.

By Judith Le Blanc – Field Director, Peace Action – A sermon delivered on January 13, 2013 to the Transcontinental Baptist Church and Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts on the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King. Every year, I enjoy the celebration of Dr King’s birthday because it reminds me of being young and militant and inspired.

Back in the day, we were mindful of having been too young to be involved in the Civil Rights movement. We were anxious for a way to continue the struggle. So we joined the struggle to make his birthday a national holiday: marching, petitioning, and pressing Congress and the Reagan administration.

The rhythm and blues artist, Stevie Wonder led the charge along with civil rights leaders He wrote a song about the struggle for a national holiday to honor Dr King.

We knew when we danced to Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday song in the clubs that we were dancing for justice and honoring the legacy of a movement that fundamentally changed the course of US history.

Nothing like it, to be out dancing in a club and reminded of what Dr King called the “beautiful struggle!” For me and many other young people of color, the fight for his birthday national holiday was really a search for way to carry on the struggle for racial justice. Then as now, we are so painfully aware of how far we must go to realize the dream of racial equity, economic justice and a world without wars.

In 1966, Dr King delivered the Ware Lecture at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, not too far from here, in Hollywood, FL.

Every year someone is chosen to deliver this address at the general assembly as a call to witness, a signaling of the most pressing issues of the day.

In Dr King’s Ware lecture, he said, “One of the great misfortunes of history is that all too many individuals and institutions find themselves in a great period of change and yet fail to achieve the new attitudes and outlooks that the new situation demands. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution. “

There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution!

And today we are in such a moment when the militarization of the federal budget is the greatest obstacle to justice at home and global peace. Fifty eight percent of yearly discretionary spending goes to the Pentagon.

We are in a moment when Dr King’s prophetic voice can fortify our resolve to break the cycle of weapons and wars being prioritized over jobs, education and diplomacy.

We, in the peace and justice movement, have come to a moment as Dr King and the Civil Rights movement did. We must break the silence on the impact of US militarism and how it holds back a more just and peaceful world.

In his Beyond Vietnam speech delivered at Riverside Church in 1967, Dr King outlined a rationale for why our country must end the war in Vietnam in order to change the US relationship to the rest of the world and address the urgent needs of our communities.

He spoke about those who had asked, “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, aren’t you hurting the cause of your people?”

He believed those questions revealed a ”tragic misunderstanding”. He had led a movement dedicated to ending legalized segregation and won, yet he and the movement were confronted with continuing obstacles to realizing “The Dream”.

He began to confront the main obstacle to true equality: the economic system. President Johnson began to turn back the war on poverty and build up of the war in Vietnam.

Dr King knew that as long as resources were being sucked into the conflict in Vietnam that there would be no investment in our communities. He said, “I am compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

He began to speak out in the face of, what he called “such cruel manipulation of the poor, the cruel irony of watching Black and white young people on TV as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.”

He said, “ I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

In his Beyond Vietnam speech, he spoke at length about the need to see human kind, other countries, not as enemies but as people with needs that mirror our own. He argued that demonizing the Communists could not rationalize our country’s war and occupation of Vietnam.

He began to develop a deeper analysis of the role of militarism in shaping US foreign policy. He called upon all those who believed in justice to question the fairness of our past and present foreign policies.

He said, “ Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady. If we don’t understand that reality, we will be attending rallies and marching without end.”

Why did his organizing and speaking out against the connection between poverty and war stir such controversy? Because he was pinpointing the root causes of injustice at home and abroad, he connected foreign policy and its impact at home.

He said,” When the bombs are dropped in Vietnam, they explode in our communities.” Dr King said the triple evils of militarism, poverty and inequality; cause our people and the peoples around the world to suffer needlessly. His prophetic teachings resonate today because it continues to be even truer now, than ever.

The bombs dropped in Afghanistan and Pakistan do explode in our communities.

US history has been consistently marked by wars and occupations. Constant wars or threats of wars.

Across the political spectrum a new awareness is growing that wars cannot solve the world’s most complicated problems. In fact wars and occupations worsen the crisis problems: climate change, hunger or democracy as examples.

Our country spends more on the military than any other country on the world, yet honestly and objectively: the US can no longer control the global economy nor politics with war. And can no longer afford to do so. It is the beginning of the end of US world domination.

Many of the realists on the Right are beginning to take note and are searching for ways to promote US interests through other means.

Realists among former generals and even neoconservatives and libertarians are calling for closing US bases, negotiating reductions in nuclear arsenals and ending the war in Afghanistan sooner than 2014. They are realists, not believers in Dr King’s vision, realists.

The Rand Corporation released a report in 2006 on the study of 648 terrorist groups and armed conflicts between the years 1968-2006. They found a majority ended the armed struggles by entering into the political process, and only 7% of those conflicts ended through military action. A majority of armed conflicts were ended through negotiations and a political process not military action.

Military action, as the leading edge of US foreign must, should and could come to an end. Democracy, economic development and protection of civilians cannot be achieved at the end of the barrel of a gun or with drones.

2013 is the moment for a national debate that starts club by club, church, synagogue and mosque, classroom by classroom, editorial page by editorial pages and talk radio shows. A national debate on the need for a fundamental change in US foreign policy.

The bombs are exploding in our neighborhoods, because the crisis problems faced globally cannot be solved through militarism, only worsened. War as Dr King said is the enemy of the poor of all countries.

In the next 2 months we have a call to action to carry forward the legacy of Dr King. We cannot afford to sleep through a moment where great changes, revolutionary changes are necessary and possible.

The stage has been set in Washington for a tough battle over the federal budget. Every dollar given to the Pentagon will be taken from food stamps, student loans and healthcare.

Some say that we should make the cuts 50% from domestic spending and 50% from the Pentagon.  But what they do not say is that over 1 trillion has been cut in the last 4 years from domestic programs while the Pentagon has grown.

The truth is that military corporations are making mega profits. They are in the mass media and on Capitol Hill driving the budget debate with fear mongering.

While they push for weapons systems such as the F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, which even the Pentagon, doesn’t want. There is waste, fraud, and abuse, which is where the cutting can and should start.

A consensus is building on sensible cuts to the waste in the Pentagon budget. It is a start. We must move the money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, human services and diplomacy.

When economic and racial inequality is growing dramatically isn’t that a very serious national security problem? When we hear from some the call for militarizing our communities, our public schools. Armed guards in our public schools?

More guns will not address the crisis needs of the poor, communities of color, immigrants and the middle class or the despair and mental illness that grows when opportunities or public services are denied.

Just as war will not solve the world’s most pressing problems neither will more guns in our communities.

The 21st century struggle for racial justice is for more equity, inclusion and dignity, a more loving society and world. Don’t we all need a little more love? 

It is time to change national spending priorities and move the money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, education and diplomacy.

We can deal with the debt by expanding the economy, helping the people in our communities to get on their feet and fund the diplomacy that can change the US relationship with countries around the world.

It will be no easy path in the next two months. Military corporations have nearly two lobbyists for every Congressional representative.

Some in Congress have pledged to cut essential human needs programs, put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block and protect the Pentagon from cuts.

We should do now as Dr King did and raise up the necessity that our government must, “Go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism as the path to a better world.”

Given the situation in our world: real danger of acts of terror or nuclear war, climate crisis, scarce resources. The truth is national security is no longer possible. Only collective global security is. Collective global security is achievable through international cooperation, respect for international laws and national sovereignty.

Our world needs more diplomacy, negotiations, and engagement, not threats of war. 

As Dr. King said ”Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to humankind as a whole, in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.”

Let’s mark Dr King’s birthday this year with some promises.

First, I hope you will do as I do. And every time you hear Stevie Wonder’s Birthday Song on the radio, you will get up and shake your tail feathers. And celebrate what Dr King called the long and beautiful struggle.

And I hope you will remember Dr King’s keen insight into social change when he said: “Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.”

In the next two months, we must meet the challenge of engaging in the fierce struggle to change national spending priorities and move the money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, education and diplomacy.

Because there is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution! 


Action Alert: Sign and Circulate the Jobs Not Wars Petition!

January 17, 2013

One of the best ways to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work.  It’s time to invest in our people, and our communities. Let’s create stable jobs at living wages, rehabilitate our nation’s infrastructure and invest in programs that serve the needs of people and communities, and develop a sustainable economy that protects the planet.

That’s why I’m asking you to sign the Jobs not Wars Petition.

The extreme right has used the fiscal crisis over the last four years to force deep cuts in discretionary spending on programs that make up the social safety net.  Now, they have their sights set on Social Security and Medicare.

I need your help to make a clear statement to those in Congress, and the administration, to Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund jobs and human services.

Peace Action’s Move the Money Campaign has been all about building common cause with unions, environmental advocates and anti-poverty and civil rights activists.

When I told you about our petition campaign last month there were just over 80 groups gathering signatures.  There are now 135 endorsing organizations working to remind Congress and the Obama administration we need to fundamentally change federal budget priorities from wars and ever more deadly weapons to jobs and meeting the needs of our communities.

So please sign the Jobs not Wars Petition.  Once you have, please forward this email. Ask your friends and family to join you in signing the Jobs Not Wars Petition.  Post this link http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA on your Facebook page and tweet it to your social network.  There is strength in numbers.

In November, we voted to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and end the wars in order to reinvest in our communities.

The pressure we are building is having a real impact on the debate on federal spending priorities.  With decisions on the debt ceiling and sequestration and votes ahead on both the 2013 and 2014 budgets, it’s critical we keep pressing.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


We Won’t Be “Fiscal Stiffed!” No Deal! More information and resources for letters to the editor and op-eds

December 19, 2012

You’ve called the White House (202-456-1111) and Congress (866-426-2631) and told them “No Deal!” loud and proud, yes? No get your friends, family and colleagues to call too!

 

Okay, here is more information and resources, especially for writing letters to the editor or op-eds.

 

We at Peace Action have been meeting with labor and economic justice groups daily to share information and figure out how to respond to the current status of negotiations between the White House and Congress on sequestration and/or a “fiscal cliff deal.”.

 

Of course, the back and forth is hot and heavy, but one thing is clear. We need to exert maximum grassroots pressure to say, “No deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid or ends the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest. And move the money from the Pentagon to fund jobs and human needs.”

 

The  proposed $100 Billion is not nearly enough but it is a first step in the direction that is necessary to address the crisis in the economy (the real crisis of jobs and wages, not the phony fiscal crisis). While at the same time it is a missed opportunity to cut even more and change national spending priorities at a time of economic crisis.

 

And it is a mainstream idea! Check out the letter in the Green Bay Press Gazette: Cut Military Budget to Balance Budget.

 

The Duluth City Council passed a resolution on Monday night. They said military spending is hurting their economy.

 

 

Resource and background material for letters to the editor or op-eds:

 

Center for American Progress on how $100 Billion cut from the Pentagon is a “down payment” on what can and should be cut from the Pentagon budget.

 

Paul Krugman: The Deal Dilemma: how to evaluate the deal.

 

From Politica: Some Republicans OK with Defense Cuts.

 

From Alternet: 7 Shocking Ways the Military Wastes our Money


Cut the Military Budget First

November 28, 2012

Let’s push the Pentagon off the fiscal cliff!

Well maybe that’s not a good metaphor. Regardless, in the nonsense about the “fiscal cliff” here in your nation’s capital, not enough scrutiny has been given to the gargantuan Pentagon budget, which is 57% of discretionary spending, has ballooned over the last decade, and is equal to the next 16 largest military budgets combined.

A few very good articles today aim to remedy that, and we’ll have more news soon on coalition efforts to cut Pentagon spending and actions you can take in support. Randy Schutt of Cleveland Peace Action posted the diary Cut Military Spending First on Daily Kos. David Rosman weighs in with Fiscal Cliff Debate Should Include Military and Social Spending in the Columbia Missourian. And Micah Zenko hoists Secretary of “Defense” Leon Panetta on his own petard with Offensive Maneuver: Why Does Leon Panetta hate Democracy in Foreign Policy.

Also, we’ll soon have a link for the Unified Security Budget which outlines specific Pentagon budget cuts.

We need a serious drumbeat here, since many in DC would love to use the phony “fiscal cliff” to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social spending while keeping the $1 trillion per year “national security” budget largely untouched. Please post other articles on cutting military spending and demand Pentagon cuts.


Call Congress: Super Committee Move the Money!

November 18, 2011

November 17, 2011, the 2-month anniversary of the start of the 99% movement, people have hit the streets in hundreds of cities across the country.

This morning, thousands surrounded the New York Stock Exchange. Hundreds were arrested, many for the second or third time since the start of the movement.

Among the arrestees was retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis. “All the cops are just workers for the one percent, and they don’t even realize they’re being exploited,” Mr. Lewis said. “As soon as I’m let out of jail, I’ll be right back here and they’ll have to arrest me again.”

The first in a series of ongoing actions, the protests are expected to continue throughout the day, with occupiers planning on taking their message into the subways throughout Manhattan this afternoon.

As their November 23 deadline draws near, the Super Committee did not escape the attention of the 99%. At a fundraiser for Senators Kyl and Hatch this morning, occupiers chanted “Put people first! Make Wall Street pay!”

Let’s amplify the message!Call toll free now! 888-907-1485

Tell your Senator and Congressional Representative: Put people first! Move the money from wars and weapons back to our communities! The rich and corporations must pay their fair share and move the money from the Pentagon to human services and create jobs.

Power to the peaceful,

Judith Le Blanc
Field Director
Peace Action


Nov 17: Power to the Peaceful 99%

November 16, 2011

You can’t evict the 99%. Agnes from Community Voices Heard, an East Harlem based organization of low-income people, working to improve the lives of the community said,  “Don’t get it wrong. They’re fighting for us, for my granddaughter.”

After the eviction of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park early yesterday morning, Agnes and thousands of labor, clergy and community groups flooded lower Manhattan in solidarity. We must all be there for Occupy Wall Street November 17.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “They can take away the tarps and the tents, but they can’t slow down the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

You can’t evict an idea whose time has come!

The 1% have created havoc in the economy, in our communities and around the world with wars and occupations. Time for economic and racial justice. Time to move the money from wars and weapons back toour communities. Time to take a stand in New York City on November 17.

Today we are challenged to become more than organizers for peace, we must be organizers for peace and justice.

1. Call 212-New-York or (212-772-1081) to express your outrage to NYC Mayor Bloomberg.

2. Mobilize for an outpouring of the 99% on Thursday, November 17.

Are you in CT, NJ, Eastern PA?  Come to NYC to make it the biggest action in the country. Or find a solidarity action in your area.

They can’t slow us down now. The Occupy movement has changed the political terrain. The systemic inequalities have been named. Now we must stand in solidarity with the right to occupy by making clear that we need to fund our communities and not the Pentagon, war profiteers or the rich and their corporations. We must organize the peace and justice movement for the needs of the 99%.

In New York City, we will gather at subway hubs in the 5 boroughs and Occupy the subways as we head toFoley Square for a 5 PM peoples assembly. Then a festival of lights will encircle the City Hall and proceed across the Brooklyn Bridge. Join us!

Power to the peaceful,

Judith Le Blanc
Field Director
Peace Action


Move the Money and Super Committee Toolkit

November 7, 2011

NEW Peace Action Move the Money Toolkit 

The US Labor Department announced that the economy created 80,000 jobs in October.  Economists say that twice that number of jobs need to be created every month for the next ten years to bring the unemployment rate down from 9% to 5%. There is no better argument for “moving the money” from weapons and wars to fund jobs creation and community services.

The Congressional bi-partisan “Super Committee” has been visited repeatedly by lobbyists representing the military industrial complex as the Pentagon decries a “doomsday scenario” if their budget is cut.

Maximum public pressure is needed now to press for cutting into the 58% of federal discretionary spending the goes to the Pentagon and for nuclear weapons complex.

Peace Action’s Move the Money Toolkit includes background and materials to use, if your Senator or Representative is on the “Super Committee’.

No matter where you live, send a message to the “Super Committee”  using the social media info in the toolkit.

As the Committee’s November 23 deadline approaches for sending their proposals to Congress, we need to gear up for the “full court press” on all the members of Congress.

Move the Money Toolkit has military budget background background information, educational materials and leaflets. Download leaflets and add your local contact information.

Circulate the link for the Move the Money Toolkit  http://www.peace-action.org/move-the-money-tool-kit on community and activist listservs.

We gathered  great material from Peace Action affiliates, created new pieces or borrowed from sister organizations. Thanks to Upper Hudson, NY, NH, NC, Montgomery County and NJ!


Super Committee: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?

September 7, 2011

 

By Judith Le Blanc

Peace Action Field Director

The Congressional Super Committee of 12, established in the deficit/budget deal is charged with proposing over a trillion dollars in cuts to reduce the national debt before the end of 2011.

In a sense they are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Or are they? Is it a dilemma without a logical solution? We don’t think so.

The choice is clear. The Super Committee either cuts programs that help the oldest, the youngest and sickest in our society or the Pentagon, the only part of discretionary spending that continues to grow and consumes the biggest percentage of yearly spending.

In the last 10 years the Pentagon budget has nearly doubled while the State Department and foreign aid has been slashed. Not only are new weapons and wars draining scarce resources needed for jobs creation and community services, funding is also being slashed from efforts that support diplomacy when we need it most to end the war in Afghanistan.

The creation of a Super Committee to make decisions that will affect generations to come, without a way for the people to be heard, is unprecedented.

In the August 29-September 5, 2011 edition of The Nation, Ilyse Hogue wrote, “the debt deal’s final resolution of what essentially amounted to a hostage crisis by that minority represents a complete unmooring of official decision-making from the will of the American people.”

The Super Committee’s time line is short for when these decisions will be made and voted on. Between September and November 23, the Super Committee will negotiate a plan that will be sent to the Congress for an up or down vote by December 23.

Can we leverage the majority opinion, reflected in poll after poll, to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes, close corporate tax loop holes and end the wars to bring the tax dollars home? How do we build a grassroots roar for moving the money from wars and weapons back to our cities and towns?

We must organize, educate and mobilize for real cuts in Pentagon spending to protect community services.

Peace Action says cuts can be made, and it is important that our communities get the facts and bust the myths surrounding cutting Pentagon spending. Download our fact sheets and a deficit/budget deal myth buster to use in your organizing.

Targeting members of the Super Committee, members of subcommittees in both Houses who will weigh in on cuts in Pentagon spending, and the Congress as a whole is a big job, but the economic justice and peace movements have already begun.

Grassroots mobilizing for Congressional town hall meetings and public events in August and continuing into the Fall are creating a stir.  People are raising their voices for “Jobs, not more weapon and wars!”

Peace Action is also on the move. We are organizing town hall meetings and bird-dogging the Super Committee members.

Last week we called on our supporters to use social media to send a message to the co-chairs. We Tweeted “Super Com co chairs @PattyMurray @RepHensarling. Start with cuts to Pentagon budget. Protect Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. “

We asked people to go to their Face Book pages: Senator Patty Murray and Representitive Jeb Hensarlingto raise our concerns. Let’s keep that up!

Peace Action Montgomery County, MD, helped to initiate the MD Coalition: Fund Our Communities, Bring the War Dollars Home which is sponsoring a town hall meeting September 20 in Silver Spring to “Take back the Budget Debate.”  The gathering will map out a plan for action including pressing Representative Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Super Committee.

North Carolina Peace Action is organizing in  Durham a Town Hall Meeting to
“Bring the War Dollars Home to Fund Our Communities on Saturday, September 1. Their goal is to line up support from local elected officials who are faced with budget shortfalls, to press the North Carolina Congressional delegation to change Federal spending priorities.

Massachusetts Peace Action has begun to “bird dog” Senator Kerry, one of the members of the Super Committee, with a leaflet and petition making the links between Pentagon spending and meeting the needs of our communities.

When Cab Calloway recorded “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” in the 1930’s, and later Ella Fitzgerald and after that George Harrison, it was a song about a dilemma without a logical solution in matters of the heart. Let’s not let the Super Committee or Congress sing the same song in matters of the politics of the Federal budget!

 

 


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