Welcome to The Peace Action of San Mateo County Newsletter UPDATE

Peace Action of San Mateo County

presents

Excerpts from an Anti-nuclear Anniversary

Parts of a video event commemorating

the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Freeze rallies in

New York and San Francisco, June 12, 1982

Featuring talks by David Swanson,

Daniel Ellsberg (with parts of a new documentary film)

and Colonel Ann Wright

Sunday, July 31, 7 PM

on the Zoom platform

Go to www.sanmateopeaceaction.org for the link,

Or email smpa@sanmateopeaceaction.org  

Local

July 31 Virtual Event

Excerpts from an Anti-nuclear Anniversary

On June 12, 1982, amid fears of then-President Ronald Reagan embracing the cold war and much saber-rattling between the U.S. and the then-USSR, New York’s Central Park played host to an estimated one million people for a demonstration opposing nuclear weapons and the arms race. A similar rally, also spirited if not as large, took place in San Francisco. The theme was to freeze and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and transfer the money spent toward human needs.

The day was a kick-off of sorts for the Nuclear Freeze Campaign, which later merged with SANE, or Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, to become SANE/Freeze. Sometime later, the name of the organization was changed to Peace Action. Peace Action of San Mateo County began in 1982 as the Nuclear Freeze Campaign of San Mateo County, one of many state or local affiliates that sprang up across the country.

This past June 12, the Roots Action Education Fund commemorated the day’s 40-year anniversary with an online presentation called “Defuse Nuclear War”. The event featured a wide range of speakers, towards a goal to rededicate ourselves to stopping nuclear weapons in favor of more sensible priorities. Nearly 100 peace, disarmament and social justice organizations co-sponsored the day, including Peace Action.

On Sunday, July 31, one week before the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, PASMC will show a video with parts of the two-and-a-quarter hour event. (Our version will be about 35 minutes.) As is typical of the times, this will be on the Zoom platform.

We will begin at 7 PM; first up is a talk by author and activist David Swanson, offering salient points favoring the elimination of nuclear weapons. From there we have excerpts, presented by Oscar-nominated film director Judith Ehrlich, from her new video about Daniel Ellsberg – followed by more comments from Ellsberg himself. And we will conclude with anti-war activist retired Colonel Ann Wright, who spoke about the false alarm in Hawaii of a nuclear attack by North Korea. With the time left we will discuss what we have watched, and perhaps that will include comments relating to the Hiroshima anniversary as well.

And sometime during the evening, we will conduct our annual PASMC Board and Officer elections. We have a slate but we still have room; anyone with an interest in joining the Board should email smpa@sanmateopeaceaction.org. In any case, watch your email inbox for the Zoom link and we’ll look forward to seeing you on July 31 for interesting input about nuclear weapons.

Summary of April 24 Meeting

Peace Action and the Ukraine War

Peace Action Executive Director Jon Rainwater joined us for our April meeting on Zoom to offer our national organization’s approach to the unfortunate events in Ukraine. While the developments of the war itself have certainly changed, Jon’s and Peace Action’s thoughts remain similar to those in late April. He began by expressing his appreciation for all of our contributions to efforts for peace. His own activist experience going back to the days of the cold war with the USSR – exemplified by his protest of the idea of the “neutron bomb”, demonstrates, he said, “…we’re in this for a lifetime, we don’t get to create peace in five years or ten years. We have to bend that ‘arc of history’ over the long term.”

Jon said the Ukraine conflict is a different situation, entailing a different approach, than the “endless wars” the peace movement targeted following 9/11 and the “war on terror”. This war of choice, he said, is not by the U.S. but by Russia, and we are taking the U.S. side in advocating for the country that was attacked. Jon noted that messaging could be “tricky”, citing the use of “old scripts” such as echoing Russian claims (soon debunked) that it was being careful to avoid civilian casualties. Addressing the idea of credibility, “If we’re not careful”, he said, “we can get tripped up.”

It should surprise no one that Peace Action’s agenda in the war has been to push for a diplomatic solution – before, at the beginning, and now during the conflict. Jon noted this is a more difficult strategy in a full-blown war, but said “we have to keep trying” in order to save lives, adding “the alternative is unthinkable.” His hope, widely shared in a group such as ours, is for an agreement that would cause Russia to want to withdraw. He cited ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tsu, who suggested to “build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across”.

Jon knows it’s not that easy; after news of the destruction and death in places such as Bucha and Mariupol (both of which were dominating the news at the time), “no one wants to talk about diplomacy” despite its potential to prevent more bloodshed. There are also the arguments calling diplomacy “an insult to the brave people of Ukraine” and impossible with “a monster like Putin”. Jon said that Ukraine remains interested in diplomacy but may indeed be angling for a better military and territorial posture, while Russia doesn’t seem interested for now either. But if the fighting continues, (and it certainly has), he added talks should continue between the UK and other European countries, Russia, and of course the U.S.

Peace Action lobbying in Congress has encouraged less talk about weaponry and more talk about diplomatic solutions. These include such suggestions as a U.S. willingness to relieve sanctions in exchange for a Russian withdrawal. With the destruction and alleged war crimes, Jon asserted the need to make it for a “political purpose” – a “carrot” not a “stick” approach meant to protect Ukrainians. For their part, President Volodymyr Zelensky has shown an openness to security guarantees for his country in exchange for neutrality. “The recipe is there”, said Jon, adding that “we need to have a loud voice” for any hope of the U.S. in promoting it.

Peace Action also strongly (and obviously) opposes any efforts at escalation of the war, and deployments in the region of U.S. and NATO troops. There should be no encounters with Russian forces and no introduction of new weapons systems that would upset the security balance. A focus on protecting refugees is also central to our work. War is not just bombs and bullets, Jon said, but also “generations of trauma” for people who are displaced. Our duty to meet that with compassion entails calling on President Biden to lift caps on refugee admissions and increase funding for assistance – and that would include those from Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and other places.

At the time of his talk, Jon expressed some approval that half of a supplemental Congressional Ukraine funding package was for humanitarian assistance, but since then another $40 billion supplemental package was closer to 60% for military purposes. In any case, this brought him to the subject of the Pentagon budget, which rose sharply to cold-war levels with the “War on Terror”. After $14 trillion spent on various interventions that didn’t defeat Putin or the Taliban, bring peace to Iraq or achieve its military goals, the “only ones who didn’t lose”, Jon, said, were military contractors who received one-third to one-half of that spending. He cited recent increases in votes on amendments to cut the military budget, but said some progressives are getting “cold feet” in the face of the war. That likely led to the recent $40 billion package. In the coming year (and surely beyond), military spending will be a major focus for Peace Action.

Addressing the big picture, Jon mentioned a significant resolution from Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee and others: H Res 877, the Foreign Policy for the 21st Century Act. The measure calls for a foreign policy based more on diplomacy than war, arms sales, sanctions and other “coercive tactics”. He didn’t think the bill would get far this year, but advised that Peace Action and others keep pushing for a less destructive, more positive approach – not just say what we oppose (as much as there seems to be). “Even in this darkest time,” Jon said, “where there is this justification of militarism…we need to put out our positive vision for foreign policy, and H Res 877 is an embodiment of that.”

Ron Zucker

www.peaceaction.org 

 

Upcoming: Meeting with Rep. Jackie Speier

As part of the Peace Action Lobby Days for 2022, PASMC will be having a constituent meeting with Rep. Jackie Speier on the Zoom platform. The tentative date is Wednesday, July 20 at 11 AM…more details to follow in an upcoming email.

At this point the subject matter will be the 2023 military budget as proposed in the National Defense Authorization Act, as well as Congress’ part in decisions about the war in Ukraine. (Both matters are mentioned in this issue’s Action Alert section, beginning on page 6.)

There is limited space for being part of this meeting – possibly the last one for us with Rep. Speier before she retires in January. Anyone interested in being part of the meeting can email us at smpa@sanmateopeaceaction.org or call 650-799-1997.

Summary of May 22 Video Screening

An Academic’s Take on Ukraine

In May, PASMC screened a video segment featuring University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer, interviewed by journalist Zakka Jacob, on the origins of the Ukraine crisis and who’s really to blame in it all. Prof. Mearsheimer goes back to the 2008 NATO summit in Brussels where the general mood was that eventually Ukraine, which seemed to be gravitating more towards the West, would naturally join NATO and the European Union.

At that point the Russian Federation made it perfectly clear that it would view this as unacceptable and representing an existential threat to Russia’s security. These clear and cautionary statements appeared to just be ignored by the attendees at the summit. The ethnic tensions boiled over at about that time in the city of Odessa, resulting in the killing of ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine by right-wing ultranationalists. In 2014 even more serious conflicts broke out and Crimea was occupied by the “Little Green Men” as they were called – since they wore no insignia on their green Russian-style uniforms.

The Crimea was always prized by the Russians as one of their precious warm-water ports and a military necessity. Things simmered further until 2021 when armed conflict continued during the Trump administration, and was supported even more under the Biden era.

A common mythology in Western circles was that this represented Russia trying to reassemble the old empire through covert and increasingly overt actions. Prof. Mearsheimer rejected this as a poor reading of reality, in that Russia knew it didn’t have the power or really the inclination to fulfill any such vision. Instead, he sees it as Russia simply reacting to what it stated years earlier: that making Ukraine into a bulwark of Eastern expansion of NATO was unacceptable and that it could not abide that.

The arming of Ukraine all during this period made it a far more formidable force than Georgia and Chechnya years earlier. Mearsheimer feels all Putin wanted was an ironclad guarantee that Ukraine would at least remain neutral and not join NATO. As this assurance was not forthcoming and Russia saw it as a conflict it could not afford to “lose”, we now have a difficult situation where both blocs are invested in “not losing”.

Mearsheimer said he sees our country’s interests as lying elsewhere, and that forcing the Russians together with China – which also sees itself under threat by Western “containment” strategies – is a foolish outcome in that he considers the “China Threat” a far more realistic possibility than a resurgent Russia. At this point most of the viewers diverged from his approach to the world, feeling a definite need to see China as simply rejoining the great powers, since it existed for many hundreds of years and not as a usurper and danger to western values. Mearsheimer noted that “poking the bear in the eye” as we have been doing for twenty-odd years is foolish in the extreme, and India, Russia and the U.S. should be a natural alliance in countering a rising China. Most all the viewers disagreed with this final position, but it made for a lively evening.

 

Membership Report

PASMC thanks and welcomes back the following renewing members: Tom Banks, Max Bollock, Adrianne Lonzarich, Tom Newman, Edna Steele, Linda Whitley 

National/

International

A Turning Point on Nuclear Deterrence

By Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Today

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of possible use of nuclear weapons against any state that might interfere with Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine have reawakened the world to the dangers of nuclear war. The possibility of military conflict between Russian and NATO forces has significantly increased the risk of nuclear weapons use. Because Russian and U.S.-NATO military strategies reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first against non-nuclear threats, fighting could quickly go nuclear.

Putin’s threats violate foundational understandings designed to reduce the dangers of nuclear deterrence, including the 1973 Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, in which the United States and Russia pledged to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the other party, against the allies of the other party and against other countries, in circumstances which may endanger international peace and security.”

As egregious, worrisome, and risky as Putin’s nuclear antics are, the reaction of the international community until recently has been far too mild. The U.S. response to Putin’s nuclear threats, as well as those of Western governments that also embrace nuclear deterrence ideologies and rely on the credible threat of nuclear use, has been particularly underwhelming.

At the outset of the Russian invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden, answering a question about whether U.S. citizens should be concerned with a nuclear war breaking out, said, "No." Then, in a May 31 essay in The New York Times, Biden referred to Russia’s “occasional nuclear rhetoric” as “dangerous and extremely irresponsible,” implying that some nuclear threats are more responsible.

Fortunately, a much needed, more forceful rejection of nuclear weapons and threats of use emerged from the first meeting of states-parties to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) held in Vienna June 21–23. Citing “increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric,” the TPNW states-parties issued the Vienna Declaration, which condemns all threats to use nuclear weapons as violations of international law, including the UN Charter. The declaration demands “that all nuclear-armed states never use or threaten to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.”

The TPNW states-parties condemned “unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” Far from preserving peace and security, “nuclear weapons are used to coerce and intimidate; to facilitate aggression and inflame tensions. This highlights the fallacy of nuclear deterrence doctrines, which are based and rely on the threat of the actual use of nuclear weapons and, hence, the risks of the destruction of countless lives, of societies, of nations, and of inflicting global catastrophic consequences,” they added.

The declaration underscores that, for the majority of states, outdated nuclear deterrence policies create unacceptable risks. The only way to eliminate the danger is to reinforce the norms against nuclear use and the threat of use and to accelerate stalled progress toward verifiably eliminating these weapons.

Nevertheless, NATO leaders insist that the alliance must double down on its dangerous nuclear deterrence posture to prevent a Russian attack on NATO member states. In reality, U.S. and NATO nuclear weapons have proven useless in preventing Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. At the same time, Russia’s brazen nuclear threats have failed to deter NATO efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons needed to repel the Russian onslaught.

Instead, Ukraine’s partners have responded with political, economic, and diplomatic means to help Ukraine defend its territory. The conflict has demonstrated that even for a state or alliance possessing a robust nuclear arsenal, such as NATO, conventional military capabilities are the key to deterring military attacks and to ensuring battlefield success.

The more NATO rhetoric emphasizes the value of nuclear deterrence and of possessing nuclear weapons, the more legitimacy it lends to Putin’s nuclear threats and to the mistaken, dangerous belief that nuclear weapons are necessary for self-defense.

The next global gathering concerning nuclear weapons will take place in August at the 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). All states must seek to rise above their differences and work together to reverse today’s dangerous nuclear trends.

Non-nuclear-weapon states can build on the TPNW meeting by encouraging wider support for the norms against nuclear weapons. Rather than simply criticize Russian nuclear threats as “irresponsible,” NPT states-parties should condemn unambiguously all threats of nuclear weapons use. They must unite in demanding that the nuclear-weapon states undertake specific actions to fulfill the NPT’s Article VI disarmament provisions. This should include an explicit call for the United States and Russia to begin negotiations on new disarmament arrangements and for all NPT nuclear-armed states to freeze their nuclear stockpiles and engage in disarmament negotiations before the next NPT review conference, in 2025.

Given the growing risk of nuclear war, the first meeting of TPNW states-parties and the NPT review conference must become a turning point away from dangerous nuclear policies and arms racing that threaten global nuclear catastrophe.

www.armscontrol.org 

 

July 30 Conference for Peace & Planet

The Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security and the International Peace & Planet Network presents the International Peace & Planet Conference, on the eve of the 2022 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference – Saturday, July 30, 11 AM-5 PM EDT, All Souls Church in New York.

The conference is designed to provide a forum for the world’s peace movements, in order to 1) share positions and observations on the dynamics of an increasingly dangerous world disorder, and 2) organize common strategies for peace, disarmament, and human survival.

It will be structured with three panels and a breakout session – online and in-person.

Speakers from the U.S., Europe, Japan and the Global South will include Reiner Braun, Director of the International Peace Bureau in Germany; Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation, and Joseph Gerson of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security.

To register online, go to www.cpdcs.org/peace-planet-npt/ 

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Independence Day and the Imperial CEO

Though one year old, it’s as timely today as when published as we learn and feel the harms over the last 12 months caused by corporate entities…

By Daniel JH Greenwood, July 5, 2021, Common Dreams

On July 4, 1776, Americans rejected the divine right of kings, declaring self-evident truths: All men are created equal. Legitimate government is founded on consent of the governed. Government exists to support our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness – not to save our souls or pursue military glory. Now, those principles of limited government can tame imperial CEOs.

In 2021, opposition to freedom comes not from a foreign king and his aristocratic courtiers but from our own domestic elites – the uber-rich of the New Gilded Era and the multi-national corporations that dominate our economy. The new “malefactors of great wealth” (as Teddy Roosevelt called their predecessors) seduce politicians and regulators with the promise of lucrative jobs, and terrorize them with threats of negative campaign ads.

The result is crippling. Neither democracy nor markets can work if economic incumbents can transform their wealth into rules that guarantee them still more wealth.

Since 1980, median and minimum wages have lagged far behind productivity growth, even as growth slowed disappointingly. Simultaneously, corporate executives pay themselves dynastic sums – the average CEO of a publicly-traded company now takes home millions of dollars annually, 274 times median employee pay. The CEO of Palantir was paid over $1 billion during the pandemic – not bad for government work (half of Palantir’s revenue). 

At this pay, imperial executives live in a different world. And it shows in the corporations they run. Instead of focusing on good jobs for Americans, useful products and services or the common welfare, our firms treat us as mere tools to their pursuit of profit – as if they were colonial occupiers and we their subjects. Seeking to extract as much as possible from employees and consumers alike, they campaign to keep wages low while dodging responsibility for pollution, safety or taxes. Lord Acton said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Beyond corruption, unchecked power generates unchecked incompetence: leaders surrounded by sycophants or purchased loyalists mismanage our institutions. We should be able – like every other rich country – to provide medical care to those who need it, not just fatten the wallets of big pharma, insurers, and hospital executives. Self-rule depends on an informed populace, not disinformation from oil, tobacco, or finance companies protecting dangerous products, conspiracy mongering by clicks-for-profit algorithms, or politicians corrupted by the carrots and sticks of enormously wealthy institutions.

We created corporations, like governments, to help in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Yet they’ve escaped our control. In effect, we’ve let our creations rule us. But we need not remain enthralled to these modern idols.

The first step towards a more decent society is to extend the lessons of the Enlightenment’s liberal revolutions. They abolished the divine right of kings and the notion that government officials owned their offices. Now we need to defeat pretenses that executives are the corporations they run or that corporate profit is sacrosanct.

To start, we must clarify that the U.S. Constitution grants rights to people, not organizations. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court held – contrary to text and logic – that the Constitution requires allowing executives to use corporate money to influence elections. That is taxation without representation, not free speech. When we buy products or work for corporations, we entrust our money to corporate leaders for limited purposes – not to corrupt our politics or economy. The same is true of other rights the Court has invented for corporations: rights for firms generally disempower citizens. 

Corporate power is our power, not the CEO’s. No free people could allow its governmental officials to rule without popular elections, to make all decisions behind closed doors, to disregard countervailing popular sentiment, or to force subordinates to follow the officials’ religion.

Corporations are created by ordinary statutes, not constitutions. Ordinary law should also direct, restrain, and reform them. If the Court won’t allow this, we should amend the Constitution, as suggested by groups like Move to Amend, to reclaim the power of Congress and state legislatures to set corporate rights and responsibilities. Or, states should demand businesses waive the Court’s invented rights as the price of corporate privilege. 

Then, we need to extend the rest of the democratic-republican revolution to our giant corporations. Twitter and Facebook are too important for their executives to have unchecked power to decide whom to allow or exclude on their platforms. CEOs should be servants, not masters; employees and customers should be citizens, not subjects; free debate, open meetings, and job security should be the rule, not the exception.

Daniel JH Greenwood is professor of law at Hofstra University.  In addition to his internationally recognized scholarship on corporations and democracy, he has co-authored several Supreme Court amicus briefs, including in Citizens United.

A Sad Ukrainian Reality

Progressive congressmembers are morphing into war hawks without realizing it, while the Trumputinist wing of the Republican party appear the doves. Hard to believe things are working out that way. Rep. Speier and most all the Democrats are blindly marching to the war drums on Ukraine and Pentagon budget-busting allocations. The absolute need to mention and stress negotiations before ever mentioning more war cash has been receding into the mists of war.

No one doubts that Putin’s catastrophic decision to invade will haunt us all forever, but to allow the “kinetic technicians” (the Pentagon and their leaders) to run the narrative – and to have the progressives trying to outdo each other in the horrific poker game we’re getting ourselves into – is frightening to behold. The Minsk agreements, which were the answer to the present situation with Ukrainian neutrality and self-determination for the Russian-speaking East, have been totally derailed.

Hey, let’s reverse this movie and quickly…we don’t like where it’s heading. All statements need to be prefaced with the phrase “while negotiations are the only path forward…”, and then and only then state that certain weapons might be needed to stymie continued Russian advances. To talk of “winning” or punishing Russia to prevent similar acts in the future just brings us to the point of fighting to the last Ukrainian – which is immoral. We have to stand for solutions not victories. It’s sad to say in our winner-take-all culture, but there can be no winners in this sad situation, and that’s the awful truth.

Mike Caggiano

From the Twitter-verse

Arianna Huffington

@ariannahuff

So, to sum up the Supreme Court’s week: life begins at conception and ends in a mass shooting.

9:07 AM · Jun 24, 2022 

Action Alert

Military Budget –

More Than We Can Stand For

With the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on the upcoming Congressional agenda, the Biden administration and Congress are combining to propose raising military spending to again-unprecedented levels. Biden started the bidding at $813 billion, and the Senate Armed Services Committee added another $45 billion. These increases come despite the Defense Department failing its fourth consecutive audit last December…and despite the healthcare, infrastructure, clean-energy  and many other priorities that are going unmet.

Members of the SASC have floated the argument that we need to replenish the weaponry that has gone to the Ukrainian military. But U.S. military spending already surpasses more than the next 9 countries combined…while pumping more hardware into the Ukraine war decreases any chance of a peaceful solution. This will not bring real security for Americans…but it will bring really big profits for American weapons contractors such as Lockheed-Martin, Boing and Raytheon.

Defenders of the increases in Congress as well as these companies – whose CEOs make over $100 million per year – talk up the jobs that military (which they of course call “defense”) spending create. But recent research has an answer: Heidi Garrett-Peltier, an economist with Brown University’s Cost of War Project, concluded that “(i)ncluding both direct and indirect jobs, the military creates 6.9 jobs per $1 million, while the clean energy industry and infrastructure each support 9.8 jobs, healthcare supports 14.3, and education supports 15.2.” She also calculated that the money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could have created a net increase of between 1.4 and 3 million jobs had it been invested in other sectors of the economy.

With this in mind, East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee and Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan have introduced H.R.8040, the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022. Repeating their efforts in previous years, the bill’s goal is to cut $100 billion from the 2023 Pentagon budget, and reallocate those funds toward threats facing the nation that “are not military in nature,” such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, worsening inequality, etc.  

Lee and Pocan are acting in part on findings by the Congressional Budget Office that the Pentagon budget could be cut by $100 billion each year over the next decade without compromising U.S. military readiness. They could also cite May ’22 poll results from Data for Progress that 63% of voters oppose a Congressional increase in military spending above Biden’s budget request…which is already an outrageous amount.

Action: Contact Rep. Jackie Speier or Anna Eshoo, or whomever represents you, and tell them to cosponsor H.R.8040, the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022. Add that along with supporting Pentagon reductions, they should also vote to prevent any additional Pentagon budget increase above Biden’s request, and also vote against any NDAA that does not cut the topline budget request. You can also tell Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla to encourage and support an identical bill to cut military spending in the Senate. Suggest the proposed military budget is far more money for security than the Pentagon needs, and leaves far less than the American people need.

A Congressional Letter on Ukraine

Congress, including some progressive members who voted for it, has received some pushback from activists lately over the amount of military aid that was approved for Ukraine in the midst of the war Russia has been waging on them since late February. Amid that reaction, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal has drafted a letter to the White House which makes the case for a better direction with regard to the war than we have all seen.

At press time the exact details of the letter are not widely known, but we have an idea of a few things: It emphasizes the need for bilateral diplomacy and the pursuit of peace in the region. It suggests that with the request for aid met by Congress, it is necessary to also begin talking again. And overall, it is a way for Congress to use its collective voice to call for such diplomacy. The more members of Congress sign on to the letter, the bigger its impact will be as an alternative to a war or “support-for-war” footing.

Action: Contact Rep. Speier or Eshoo to ask for their signature on the Jayapal letter to Biden calling for more diplomatic efforts. Suggest that sincere diplomacy should never be abandoned, but rather employed whenever possible as an alternative to war and killing – and the letter represents a time for Congress to raise its voice on behalf of this idea.

More About “Keeping our Republic”

The hearings about the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are revealing the extent to which Donald Trump was ready to go to turn our government into something other than that “of…by…and…for the people”. As the hearings continue, we wait to see if they will result in consequences befitting a person who grabs onto power he or she has not earned.

We saw the signs during his administration. We watched as Trump abused the power of the presidency to enrich himself, how he shielded associates and family members from accountability, and how he attacked his opponents both in the press and in the political arena. In 2021, with the Protecting Our Democracy Act, Congress made an effort to curb such behavior with provisions designed to avoid future abuses.

The bill would, among other things:

Restore the balance of power between the federal government’s legislative and executive branches; prevent abuse of presidential pardons; make sure presidents and vice presidents can be held accountable for criminal conduct; strengthen enforcement of congressional subpoenas; and shield federal whistleblowers who uncover misconduct. The idea that codification of such provisions could even be necessary helps illustrate the bleak period we all went through when Trump was in the White House.

The Protecting Our Democracy Act, which passed the House in December (with exactly one Republican vote – Adam Kinzinger who was later named to the 1/6 committee), is now languishing in the Senate (as S.2921) and in need of a push. Since Sen. Feinstein is one of just 10 co-sponsors, that push from us would be toward Sen. Alex Padilla.

Action: Contact Sen. Padilla to urge his co-sponsorship of S.2921, to make sure future presidents play by set rules and do not jeopardize our system of government, with its necessary checks and balances. Suggest we do not want to go through an “imperial presidency” again. We can also thank Sen, Feinstein for her support for the bill – and ask her to also support getting rid of the filibuster to help facilitate its passage.

Ron Zucker

Directory                                        

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Senator Dianne Feinstein                                   

One Post St., Ste 2450       San Francisco, CA 94104      

(202) 224-3841                          fax: (202) 228-3954        

(415) 393-0707                          fax (415)393-0710

Senator Alex Padilla                                        

333 Bush Street, Ste. 3225 San Francisco, CA 94104
(202) 224-3553                         fax: (202) 224-2200

(415) 981-9369                        fax: (202) 224-0454

Representative Jackie Speier                            

155 Bovet Rd., Ste 780         San Mateo, CA 94402

(202) 225-3531                     fax: (202) 226-4183

(650) 342-0300                               (650) 375-8270

Representative Anna Eshoo                                                

698 Emerson Street               Palo Alto, CA 94301    

(202) 225-8104                            fax: (202) 225-8890  

(650) 323-2984                                   (650) 323-3498

Rep. Nancy Pelosi D-CA - Speaker of the House

(202)225-4965                                            (415)556-4862

President Joe Biden

The White House 

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW,  Washington, DC   20500                (202)456-1111:                         fax: (202)456-2461

www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Find out who your Representative is: www.house.gov

If you are not in California, identify your senators here: www.senate.gov

The Update is published quarterly by Peace Action of San Mateo County. We welcome all submissions and letters, and reserve the right to exclude or edit for content and other considerations. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the members of Peace Action of San Mateo County or Peace Action.

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot. -Czeslaw Milosz, poet and novelist