Update on Congress and Iran Accord: Sausage and legislation…

September 9, 2015


…are still the two things one doesn’t want to watch being made (well I’ve had some very good vegan sausages lately which one probably could watch being made but that’s beside the point). Opponents of the Iran nuclear peace accord are in a lather to try anything and everything to kill it, and they don’t have much time, what with other important congressional business staring them down, including another possible government shut-down at the end of the month. (Tempted to ask, all in favor say “Aye!”)

Long story short-ish: In the Senate, we have 42 senators (all Democrats) in favor of the Iran accord, which is better than we expected. This means the Iran deal will most likely survive. If both Houses actually vote to disapprove the deal, which is now somewhat in question as the next paragraph will explain, the 42 Senate supporters would uphold a presidential veto of the disapproval vote, and we expect we will have similar support of at least 1/3 of the House of Representatives (a 2/3 majority vote is needed to override a presidential veto).

The Senate plans to vote on the Iran accord tomorrow, 9/11, very cynical. There is some (un-) senatorial to-ing and fro-ing about procedure that is too arcane to bother with, so let’s just keep it simple. Please call your senators to make sure they know you support the agreement as negotiated with no funny business, no amendments. The Capitol Switchboard is at 202/ 224-3121. Calls only take a minute or two, ask to speak to your senators (this means two calls) and just let them know you support the Iran peace deal.

In the House, there is a revolt by members of the Liberty Caucus who claim, absurdly, at the 11th hour, that the vote cannot take place, and as a matter of fact that the congressional time period for acting (or not) on the agreement is in fact not over September 17th, as previously agreed all around, but that the 60 day clock has not even started since the Obama Administration did not transmit to Congress two “side agreements” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the White House doesn’t even have access to, as is customary in IAEA agreements with countries where it is inspecting nuclear facilities. Scratching your head? Don’t blame you.

This plan was hatched Tuesday night at a Republican conference meeting in the basement of a Tortilla Coast restaurant on Capitol Hill, overturning the Rules Committee’s agreement from that very afternoon on how to treat the vote. One is tempted to speculate it was after several pitchers of margaritas.

So now instead of the expected resolution to disapprove the agreement, it appears the House will vote Friday on the following three pieces of sausage, I mean legislation:

  • H. Res. 411—Finding that the President has not complied with section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (the bill that established the congressional review process and 60 day period). This is a non-binding resolution meant to set up a lawsuit against the president.
  • H.R. 3460—To suspend until January 21, 2017, the authority of the President to waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions pursuant to an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran (this would effectively kill the deal, but if passed would be vetoed by the president and upheld if an override vote were held).
  • H.R. 3461—To approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (this of course will fail since all Republicans at this point oppose the deal, and is meant to embarrass the president and the deal supporters).

Again, this is more than one could be expected to understand, even many of us who have done this kind of work for a long time. To simplify, just call your representative (same number as above) and tell her or him to ignore the tomfoolery and sausage slicing and dicing and support the diplomatic accord with Iran that is supported by most of the world.


Free State Peacemongers – Protest Sen. Cardin’s opposition to Iran Deal Monday!

September 4, 2015
MD peace proponents at Sen. Cardin's office two weeks ago, we'll have many more on Monday at the Labor Day parades!

MD peace proponents at Sen. Cardin’s office two weeks ago, we’ll have many more on Monday at the Labor Day parades!

Next week, Congress will take up the historic peace agreement with Iran, with votes expected in the House of Representatives and Senate by the end of the week. Our junior senator, Ben Cardin, has just announced that he will vote against the Iran accord.  In addition, he is planning to introduce legislation that will undercut the deal.  This is unacceptable, and we need to show Sen. Cardin that we are extremely disappointed in him—there is still time for him to change his mind.  Sen. Cardin is marching in two Labor Day parades on Monday. Please join us to tell him that we did not elect him to support Netanyahu’s right wing government over the interests of the U.S. and world peace!

WHAT: Members of Peace Action, Pax Christi, MoveOn, Code Pink, Progressive Maryland, Council for a Livable World, and other pro-peace organizations will vigil at two Labor Day parades (Kensington and Gaithersburg) where Sen. Ben Cardin will march.  We will urge Sen. Cardin and other undecided members of Congress from Maryland to support the nuclear agreement with Iran and to oppose any “poison pill” bills that will undercut the deal.  We will hold signs, chant, and distribute fliers.

WHEN:  Parades are Monday, Sept. 7 at 10 am in Kensington and 1 pm in Gaithersburg.

WHERE:  Meet up locations:

Kensington:  9:30 am at the Safeway Parking lot, 10541 Connecticut Avenue.

Gaithersburg:  12:30 pm at intersection of Odendhal and Russell (one of the corners of Lake Forest mall). U.S. Rep. John Delaney, undecided on the Iran deal as of today, will also be at this parade.

Bring your home-made signs supporting the Iran agreement! Bring a friend, or send and post this alert to your friends, family and social media networks.

BACKGROUND: Marylanders from across the state are mobilizing to encourage their Congressional representatives to support the nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement will restrict Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb and will likely prevent another war. Despite the fact that there are now enough votes in the Senate to sustain a presidential veto of expected resolutions of disapproval, the struggle is not over, as other legislation that will undercut the Iran accord is expected to be introduced next week. We need to keep the pressure on and fight these bills.

We need your voice for peace! Please join us on Monday!

Also, please call Cardin’s office at 202/224-4524 to express your displeasure at his opposition to diplomacy!

#TBT – To Yesterday’s National Day of Action for the Iran Peace Deal!

August 27, 2015
Peacemongers in Sarasota, Florida at the office of US Rep. Vern Buchanan

Peacemongers in Sarasota, Florida at the office of US Rep. Vern Buchanan

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” — The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace Action affiliates, chapters, associates, members and volunteers put MLK’s words into practice yesterday as part of a national day of action (over 200 around the country!) involving dozens of national and local peace groups. Here are just a few highlights:

Portland, Maine — Peace Action, Veterans for Peace and other local groups rallied to press Senator Susan Collins, considered the lone possible Republican supporter of the Iran nuclear deal, which generated this article in the Portland Press Herald. Also longtime Peace Action Maine leader Sally Breen had a letter to the editor published in the same paper, a great two-fer!

Buffalo, New York — Western New Yorkers protested Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s announced opposition to the Iran peace deal, and the local public radio station covered it. 

Is that deal opponent Sen. Chuck Schumer?

Is that deal opponent Sen. Chuck Schumer?

Newark, New Jersey — Peace Action led a rally and petition delivery of 15,000 signatures in support of the Iran deal to the office of Sen. Cory Booker, considered a key fence sitter. And they aren’t done, they have another rally planned for this Saturday! Two papers in Jersey ran articles on the event.

Wilmington, Delaware — About 50 peace advocates organized by our associate organization, Pacem en Teris, gathered to urge Sen. Chris Coons, a key “on the fence” senator, to support peace with Iran, and got good media coverage of their efforts.

Sarasota, Florida — activists gathered to press Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, who says he leans against the deal.


OhioCleveland Peace Action’s Norman Robbins had an op-ed in the Plain Dealer yesterday, and activists in Columbus paid a visit to the office of U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, shown here:


Detroit, Michigan – Peace Action and allies organized a rally at the office of Sen. Gary Peters, considered a key swing vote on the Iran agreement. The Detroit News article also covered an anti-deal gathering. See some of our folks’ photos on the FaceBook page for the event.


Pro-Iran Diplomacy Op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

August 26, 2015

by Norman Robbins of Cleveland Peace Action

Iran nuclear deal – the pros outweigh the cons

When arguments about the Iran nuclear deal rage over arcane matters such as the allowable kilograms of low enriched uranium, the reliability of Additional Protocol inspections, or whether Iran can reprocess spent fuel, most of us find our eyes glazing over. We really just want to know whether the nuclear deal has sufficiently blocked all pathways to building a nuclear weapon for a reasonable period. As adults, we know that a fair deal was bound to leave each side somewhat dissatisfied. But is the big picture positive or negative?

One way to decide is to evaluate the credibility of those holding differing views. When we do so, it appears that on balance, most qualified experts who have spoken out publicly favor the deal.

For starters, a great many published statements of support for the deal have come from eminent military, nuclear, diplomatic and nonproliferation experts, altogether totaling hundreds of individuals (see references at https://peaceblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/validators-of-iran-nuclear-deal/). The number of these experts, many who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, absolutely dwarfs the handful of bona fide experts (not including media pundits) who oppose the deal.

For instance, more than 80 Israeli former military and intelligence leaders support the deal or at least have advised Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop opposing it, and reportedly few Israeli military people say the deal is a major detriment to Israel.

So why should we listen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warnings of dire consequences? Do Israel’s military and intelligence leaders know or care less about Israel’s security than Netanyahu?

In stark contrast, Netanyahu, the leader of the charge to scuttle the agreement, has a long history of making confident predictions that have turned out to be dead wrong. From 1992 to 2012 (for 20 years!), he repeatedly predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb in three years or less.

Wrong! Since 2007, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, repeatedly affirmed that Iran has not worked on a nuclear weapon since 2003 and has not decided whether to do so.

Netanyahu ”guaranteed” Congress in 2002 that ”the Iraq War would have enormous positive reverberations in the region.”

Wrong! We all know how that fiasco turned out.

Netanyahu has demanded that a nuclear deal with Iran must compel Iran to totally dismantle its nuclear program.

Wrong! We know for a fact that precisely this demand undermined U.S.-European attempts at negotiation with Iran from 2003 to 2013. Numerous polls have shown that Iranians proudly consider their peaceful nuclear program as non-negotiable, especially in view of their dismal history of humiliating quasi-colonial interventions.

Stack up these major and repeated wrong-headed blunders, many contrary to the advice and opinion of experienced experts, and it is clear that one should set little stock by what Netanyahu and his followers claim, especially in the category of hyperbolic fearmongering (e.g., that Iran is going to attack the United States or Israel with nukes).

Those who oppose the deal assure us that we can get a better deal if we sack this one, but most experienced diplomats disagree. European, Chinese and Russian ambassadors have told members of Congress that the sanctions would collapse and no new deal could emerge if Congress sank the deal. Claims that the United States could impose ”secondary” sanctions on countries that resume trade with Iran have been countered by economic experts who point out that the resulting losses of trade (e.g. with China and Southeast Asian countries) would greatly harm the U.S. economy.

Again, naysayers assert that if the deal falls through and Iran restores its pre-existing nuclear capacity, we can always default to military action. Indeed, one of Netanyahu’s major U.S. financial supporters, Sheldon Adelson, publicly proposed dropping nukes on Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear program, and Netanyahu has never disavowed that genocidal proposal.

How credible are these people? Once again, 36 retired U.S. military leaders, who know well the dire unintended consequences of heedless military action, say we must try the diplomatic approach long before we contemplate military action.

We have some 20,000 American sailors and perhaps 10,000 soldiers on bases within easy reach of enormous numbers of Iranian ship- and shore-based missiles. Do we really want to put their lives at risk by refusing to listen to voices of reason and experience?

Will our still-uncommitted Ohio Congress members — Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur, Tim Ryan and Joyce Beatty — have the courage to resist pressure and be among those listeners? 


Robbins is an emeritus professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University and Iran consultant to Cleveland Peace Action.

Please Join Us – National Day of Action for Iran Deal this Wednesday!

August 24, 2015


What: National Day of Action for Iran Deal
When: This Wednesday Aug. 26
Where: Sign Up Here and Details

We’ve been waiting for this moment. Peace Action has taken action for a peace agreement with Iran for over a decade. Thank you for your consistent advocacy.

Finally that agreement is within reach.

But, as you know, the war hawks are spending millions on an advertising and lobbying campaign to kill the Iran deal. We simply cannot let them succeed.

We need to turn up the volume – especially in the key districts of undecided members of Congress. A strong grassroots showing can counteract the hawks’ cash, since we represent the majority of Americans who support this deal.

Will you join fellow Peace Action members and other pro-peace neighbors this Wednesday, August 26, at the office of key members of Congress?

Click here to sign up and for complete details.

Because the stakes are so high, we’ve joined in coalition with other progressive organizations like Credo, MoveOn, and Win Without War to organize this national day of action. We need to make sure Congress hears our voices loud and clear.

We’ll let Congress know the best way to stop a war is through proactive diplomacy long before the preparations for war begin. We must frame this for undecided members of Congress as a momentous decision between war and peace.

On Wednesday, August 26, at more than 200 events, Peace Action members and allies will gather at the offices of key senators and House members to deliver petitions, raise our voices for peace in local media, and send a national message—will you be there?

Click here to sign up and for complete details.

If this deal is voted down you know exactly what the war hawks will be pushing for. Many of the candidates running for president have already made clear that war is their Plan B. After over a decade of non-stop war we can’t let that happen.

Click here to join us on this coming Wednesday August 26.

Thanks again for making peace possible.

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – Please plan to join us on Wednesday and help spread the word via email and social media to folks you think would be interested in coming out. Who knows, you might make some new peace-mongering friends!

TV clip of Iran actions in MD yesterday

August 21, 2015

Featuring Peace Action’s own Jean Athey!


Maryland Rocks! Pro-Peace with Iran actions today at four of Sen. Ben Cardin’s offices.

August 20, 2015

Free State peace-mongers at Senator Ben Cardin’s Rockville office today urging him to support the Iran peace deal, part of coordinated actions at four of his offices including Capitol Hill, Baltimore and Bowie. Peace Action leaders also delivered over 5500 petition signatures in support of the Iran nuclear agreement. Cardin is a key vote as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and remains undeclared on the deal.

Peace Action's photo.


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