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:

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

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:

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:

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.


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