7/20/2020: Dear Friend,
Today we have a pop quiz for you:
1. There are 535 members of Congress. How many lobbyists for military contractors are there?
2. How much money did military contractors spend on lobbying in 2019?
a. $1.3 million
b. $55.4 million
c. $112.3 million
3. Approximately how much of the Pentagon budget goes to private contractors?
4. Approximately how much money went to military contractors in 2020, per dollar spent on lobbying the year before?
What is your score? Correct answers are all (c).
You Can Do Something About This! One lesson from our pop quiz–the only way we can ever hope to defeat “Daddy Warbucks” is if we out-lobby the paid lobbyists. “We” means you and me. Here’s the lowdown: Congress is currently debating the bill that will establish the funding level for the military for 2021 (the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA). “Bloated” doesn’t even begin to describe the current military budget; yet Congress will be voting in a few days to increase it to $740 billion, from its current mind-boggling level of $718 billion.
Meanwhile, we are facing a “rental tsumani,” with millions expected to soon become newly homeless, and even more people not knowing where their next meal is coming from. But the CEO of Lockheed Martin is taking home a cool $20 million this year, from a company that is 90% taxpayer funded.
Can you call Congress today and ask for a reduction of just 10% in the proposed military budget? Senator Sanders in the Senate and Representatives Lee and Pocan in the House have put forward amendments to the NDAA to cut the proposed military budget by just 10%, raising $74 billion for a grant program directed at local communities for health care, housing, education, and other pressing needs. While we know that a 10% reduction is not nearly enough, at least it is a start, and even if this amendment doesn’t pass the Senate, strong support for it by members of Congress, due to constituent pressure, will show that the people of this country are sick and tired of throwing away money that is sorely needed for our real security.
Please do this now: Call the Congressional switchboard at 1-202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to the office of one of your senators, and after your call, call the switchboard again to ask for the office of your other senator, and next for your representative.
Once connected, you can say: For Senator Van Hollen and Senator Cardin –
Hello, my name is (your name) and I am a voting constituent from (your city). I am calling to urge the senator to support an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act by Senators Sanders, Markey, and Warren, which calls for cutting 10% off the Pentagon budget. This important step would free up $74 billion for healthcare, affordable housing, and improvements to education programs. I look forward to hearing what the senator’s position is on this important issue.
For your House Representative – Hello, my name is (your name) and I am a voting constituent from (your city). I am calling to urge my representative to support an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act by Reps. Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan, which calls for cutting 10% off the Pentagon budget. This important step would free up $74 billion for healthcare, affordable housing, and improvements to education programs. I look forward to hearing what the representative’s position is on this important issue.
Your time to act is now. Please call your members of Congress today and demand a change. If you believe, like us, that a budget is a moral document, then you also know that this proposed budget is profoundly immoral. Let’s do something about that. (P.S. Please let us know that you called! Just reply to this email.)
7/2/20: Dear Friend,
On July 4, 1976, the World Council issued the Declaration of Interdependence. Signed by 128 members of Congress, the document highlights the interconnectedness of humanity and affirms a collective responsibility to create conditions of peace; address poverty; and act as good stewards of our finite natural resources.
Today it seems like a prophetic voice, given the heartbreaks of COVID-19 and the recent death of George Floyd and countless other African-Americans—coupled with the looming climate and nuclear annihilation concerns. We invite you to take a few moments to read the 2-page preamble and reflect on it as a vision for the many threads of our important work.
Below are examples of what we have been doing these past few weeks toward meeting our “collective responsibility” to the common humanity.
Lobby Visits – During Peace Action’s lobby week in June, local activists met virtually with staff at both Senators’ offices and four Maryland Representatives’ offices. We talked to them about reducing the threat of nuclear weapons, promoting diplomacy over economic sanctions, reining in Pentagon spending, and ending militarized policing. Here are the policy briefings that we shared with members of Congress.
PFAAs from Military Bases in MD — The Baltimore Sun recently published a front page article about how PFAS (toxic “forever” chemicals) are being released into St. Inigoes Creek in St. Mary’s County, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay region. The article only addresses toxins near the Patuxent Naval Base, but at least 16 other military bases in MD are also spewing these chemicals into surface waters around the state. The groundwater near one base, the Chesapeake Bay Naval Research Laboratory, is contaminated at 3,442 times above the EPA’s voluntery guideline for drinking water! Stay tuned for more activism to pressure Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment to provide oversight and ensure that the Chesapeake (and its oysters, crabs and fish) and our drinking water are safe. Please sign our petition to the Secretary, and click here for more information.
Virtual Ribbon Campaign – August will be the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima (6th) and Nagasaki (9th). Peace Action chapters throughout Maryland are developing local vigils and programs to commemorate these horrific events—and to say never again. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in its Doomsday Clock, puts the world at 100 seconds to midnight, reflecting recent heightened risks for nuclear devastation. We are promoting the Ribbon Campaign, designed to enable people everywhere to reflect on the danger and discern what we can each do about it. As a part of the Ribbon Campaign, we invite you, and your children, to create art on the theme of “What I love most and could not bear to see lost in a nuclear war.” We will help you upload a photo or video of your art to a Web site that will stream vigils, protests and special events world-wide on Aug. 6 and 9.
Deadly Exchange – Peace Action Montgomery is spearheading a campaign with Jewish Voice for Peace, Veterans for Peace and the National Lawyers Guild to end the practice of sending Maryland police personnel to Israel for training with military and intelligence agencies. As indicated on the campaign website, there have been two spy scandals in Maryland that were run by alumni of these training programs.
Police Departments and Military Equipment: And speaking of police, did you know that local police departments in Maryland have spent at least $11,077,495 on military excess equipment, provided by the Pentagon? Our Anne Arundel chapter head, Mike Keller, had an op ed published in the Capitol Gazette last week, laying out the rationale for ending the militarization of the police and stopping the practice of purchasing military items like automatic rifles and night vision goggles from the Pentagon. As Mike wrote, “The militarization of domestic law enforcement has poisoned the mindset and manner of policing in America.”
Maryland Guard Home — And finally, a couple of weeks ago, we organized a mini-campaign to bring Maryland’s National Guard home from DC, where Hogan had sent them at Trump’s behest to control protesters. Our petition, emails (thank you!), letters to the editor, and public protest all seems to have had an impact–we declare victory!
We hope you will join us in activities like these as we work for a more peaceful world.
6-5-2020: Dear Friend:
We call upon Governor Larry Hogan to rescind his deployment of Maryland National Guard troops to the District of Columbia. The deployment authorization came from the Governor after a request from the Pentagon. However, it was made without consultation with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. In fact, Mayor Bowser has stated, “We don’t want armed National Guard, armed military–we don’t want any of those things on D.C. streets. I would regard that as an affront to even our limited home rule and the safety of the District of Columbia, absolutely.”
The unprovoked tear gassing of peaceful demonstrators at the White House shows that the Trump Administration is not only prepared but already has used military force against activists who were peacefully gathering to urge an end to racism and police brutality. We don’t want Maryland citizens in the National Guard to be placed in the position of potentially attacking their peaceful neighbors, especially since some Guard members may have similar feelings about these injustices. Moreover, they are at heightened risk of contracting Covid-19 by taking part in these military exercises.
Gov. Hogan says that Maryland’s Guard is only there to “protect the monuments,” but he has no authority over the Guard once deployed. Besides, it is not monuments that are at risk in this country, but people, especially black people.
5-26-2010: Dear Friend:
You are receiving your first Action Alert from Maryland Peace Action. Please check out our new Web site and our Facebook page. We promise not to inundate you with email—we anticipate a maximum of two per month.
Let’s Decrease the Pentagon Budget: Healthcare, Not Warfare!
Last week, Representatives Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee sent a letter to the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee asking that Pentagon spending be reduced as the Committee begins deliberations on the critically important National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While military spending was already at an all-time high when Trump came into office, it has continued to soar, increasing almost 20% in three years. Yet, as a nation we can’t address the real threats that face us, including both the health and economic costs of Covid-19. We are asking Congress to redefine security by dramatically cutting the military budget and redirecting those funds to communities in need of food, health care, housing, and other social needs. We can afford to do it, as this chart makes abundantly clear:
Top 16 Countries
We were happy to see that two of Maryland’s representatives were among the 29 Democrats who signed the Pocan/Lee letter: Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. John Sarbanes. We urge you to thank them! Maryland’s other 6 representatives need to hear from all of us that increased military spending is not acceptable, that the Pentagon budget needs to be cut—a lot! Click here to contact your representative in the U.S. House.
Thank you for your support. We hope you and your loved ones remain safe during this challenging time.