Thursday, September 3, 2015

Baltimore Activist Alert - Sepyember 5 - 22, 2015

30] Challenge Southern Heritage Rally – Sept. 5
31] West Chester peace vigil – Sept. 5
32] Revolution in Rojava --- Sept. 5
33] Film SELICHOT – Sept. 5
34] See the film WALL-E – Sept. 11
35] Climate chaos, poverty & war actions – Sept. 22
36] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
37] Join Fund Our Communities
38] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
39] Do you need any book shelves?
40] Join Global Zero campaign
41] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
30] – Come to Upper Senate Park, Constitution Ave. NW, WDC 20001, on Sat., Sept. 5 at 10:30 AM for a lively and very loud counter-presence against the Southern Heritage Rally taking place at 11 AM. The Southern Heritage Rally is what appears to be a national convening to celebrate Confederate pride. Go to

31] –  Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

32] – On Sat., Sept. 5 at 7:30 PM @ Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, hear about The Revolution in Rojava: an evening on the situation in the autonomous cantons in the Kurdish controlled areas of Northern Syria. In the middle of a brutal civil war and the rise of ISIS, the Kurdish communities in Northern Syria are not only defending their autonomy, but building a social revolution.  The autonomous cantons are experimenting with new forms of communal democracy, designing much needed patterns for political and cultural freedom, and developing and drawing on a militant feminist critique of existing gender relations.  And they're under constant threat from almost all sides. Find out what's going on in Rojava from Golala Arya, Washington, D.C. area Kurdish activist, Ruken Işık, Gender and Women’s Studies, UMBC, and Omer Pacal, HDP (People's Democratic Party) member.  Call 443-602-7585.  Go to

33] –  See the film SELICHOT AT THE AVALON THEATER, 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW, WDC on Sat., Sept. 5 from 8 to 11 PM.  This is a BLACKS & JEWS, A TIKKUN OLAM STORY. In these days of heightened awareness regarding race and racism in America, the story of Julius Rosenwald and his support for African American schools and housing in the early 20th century is particularly timely. Rosenwald, who was a part-owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co., was influenced by the educator Booker T. Washington. He joined forces with African American communities in the Jim Crow-era South to build over 5,300 schools. Inspired by the Jewish ideals of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world), and a deep concern over racial inequality in America, Rosenwald used his wealth to become one of America’s most effective philanthropists.  Go to

34] –  The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee, Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings and Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES.  The DVDs will be shown at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218, usually on the First Friday.  After the peace vigil, there will be a potluck dinner. At 7:15 PM, from September through December, a DVD will be shown with a discussion to follow.  There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. The series theme is CAN WE HAVE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
On Fri., Sept. 11 see the film WALL-E (USA, 2008, 98 min.), an-animated comedy produced by Pixar Animation Studios.  Directed by Andrew Stanton, the story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up an abandoned, waste-covered Earth far in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity. The film is seen as a critique on larger societal issues. It addresses consumerism, corporatism, nostalgia, environmental problems, waste management, human impact on the environment, and risks to human civilization and the planet Earth. Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

35] -- The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance is planning an action on September 22 in the D.C. area. We will gather at 10 AM in Rep. Paul Ryan’s office to challenge him that the wars must end, that Mother Earth must be saved and that we must eliminate income inequality. We will occupy Rep. Paul Ryan’s office.

After delivering a letter and speaking with staff members, we will next gather for a rally in Murrow Park, before arriving at 1 PM at the White House.  There we will try to deliver a letter to the White House, raise the same issues and risk arrest. Let Max know if you can join us in D.C. for this action. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at

36] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email:

37] -- Fund Our Communities campaign is a grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with former Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget.  Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures.  Go to

38] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

39] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

40] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

41] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

How Obama defeated AIPAC on Iran.

How Obama defeated AIPAC on Iran

PETER BEINART Sep 02, 2015 3:04 PM

It’s now virtually certain that the Iran nuclear deal will survive congressional challenge. If opponents pass a bill rejecting the agreement, supporters have the votes to sustain U.S. President Barack Obama’s veto in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, a bill condemning the deal may not even garner enough votes to pass in the first place.

The interesting question is why.

The first, and most obvious, answer is that when a president really wants something in foreign policy, he’s hard to stop. After World War II, when America established a de facto global empire, the balance of power between the president and Congress tipped. The executive branch now contains a vast, semi-secret national security bureaucracy that makes split-second decisions — for instance, whether to launch a drone strike halfway across the world — without ever asking Congress. Members of Congress have become accustomed to deferring to presidents overseas in a way they don’t at home. Even when the Iraq War grew politically toxic, Congress never cut off its funding. Congress still refuses to vote on Obama’s war against ISIS; they’d rather leave it to him.

The Iran deal is unusual in that members of one party — the GOP — are refusing to show that deference. In fact, opposing the president on Iran has become a way for Republicans to rally their political base. But that merely brings us to reason number two that the deal is almost certain to pass: The more partisan the opposition to it becomes, the more Democrats rally behind Obama in response.

This is a huge problem for AIPAC. For years, the organization has worked to ensure that both Democrats and Republicans provide the Israeli government unquestioning support. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by embracing Mitt Romney in 2012, colluding with Republicans to organize a speech to Congress behind Obama’s back this spring and making Ron Dermer, a former GOP operative, his top representative in Washington, has made AIPAC’s work harder.

AIPAC itself has also changed. In the 1980s, when it was led by Tom Dine, a former staffer to Ted Kennedy, Democrats comprised a larger share of its membership. But over the decades, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have made hawkish Jews more comfortable in the GOP. Others have left the Democratic Party because of Barack Obama. Orthodox Jews, who vote overwhelmingly Republican, also play a larger role in AIPAC than they did a few decades ago.

As a result, while AIPAC remains immensely powerful, the distribution of its power has changed. Last year, the organization’s problems attracting liberal Democrats even led it to appoint a director for progressive engagement.

AIPAC’s power doesn’t come from its staff in Washington. It comes from its ability to mobilize influential people in a state or district, people who know their member of Congress well. But if fewer of the AIPAC activists in a given state or city are Democrats, their Iran views carry less weight with Democratic members of Congress. In the words of one Jewish official who has spent time discussing the Iran deal on Capitol Hill, “Members have commented on how AIPAC’s membership has changed. They say that when they walk into an AIPAC meeting, it feels to them like they’re walking into a conservative, Republican space.” Why should Democrats listen to Republican AIPAC activists who will oppose them no matter what?

But there’s a third reason Obama is going to win on Iran. By framing a vote against the deal as a vote for war, he’s effectively harnessed the legacy of the Iraq war. Before Iraq, ambitious Democrats considered hawkishness the politically safer bet. That had been the lesson of the 1991 Gulf War. Only ten senate Democrats had voted to authorize it. And after the war proved a triumph, two of them, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, were rewarded with spots atop their party’s presidential ticket in 2000.

The politics of the Iraq War proved exactly the opposite. It was his opposition to the war that led Howard Dean to come from nowhere to almost win the Democratic nomination in 2004. Opposing the war helped Obama beat Hillary Clinton in 2008. Opposing the Iraq War also helped make a force inside the Democratic Party, and it is MoveOn, more than any other single group, that Democrats fear crossing if they vote against the Iran deal today. Most senators fantasize about being on a presidential ticket one day. And as the Jewish official notes, Democratic senators are “keenly aware that there’s no candidate for president today running on their record of the support of the Iraq War.”

Barack Obama ran for president, in part, to change the politics of national security; to give Democrats the confidence to do what they believed was right. As he said in Iowa in late 2007, “I don’t want to see more American lives put at risk because no one had the judgment or the courage to stand up against a misguided war before we sent our troops into fight.”

Now, as Obama’s presidency enters its twilight, it is clear that he has succeeded. Republicans may be as hawkish as ever. But Democrats no longer feel the need to keep pace. They no longer worry as much that by supporting diplomacy, they look weak or soft.

On national security, Obama has changed the terms of debate. And there is nothing Benjamin Netanyahu or AIPAC can do about it. 

 © Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd. All Rights Reserved

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - September 3 - 4, 2015

21] Understanding the Iran Deal – Sept. 3

22] Film SON HOMBRE – Sept. 3

23] Limiting Nuclear Weapons – Sept. 4

24] Protest Saudi Arabia – Sept. 4

25] Peace vigil at the White House– Sept. 4

26] Black Lives Matter Vigil – Sept. 4

27] Film CHOCOLATE CITY – Sept. 4

28] Film MATEWAN – Sept. 4

29] Ballroom Dancing – Sept. 4


21] – Understanding the Iran Deal with Zia Mian is happening on Thurs., Sept. 3| at 7 PM at the Germantown Friends School, Yarnall Auditorium, 31 West Coulter St., Germantown/Philadelphia 19144. What are the major parts of the Iranian nuclear deal agreement and what would they accomplish?  What are the agreement's implications for nuclear weapons nonproliferation in the Middle East and the long term prospects for peace in the region? What if the agreement crashes and burns in the U.S. Congress.

Mian, a physicist and peace activist at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, will be addressing these concerns directly under the auspices of the Germantown Friends Meeting’s Adult Class Committee.  The talk is sponsored by numerous groups, including American Friends Service Committee & the Brandywine Peace Community.  Go to

22] See director Cary Fukunaga’s film SON HOMBRE [Mexico/USA, 2009,  96 mins.] on Thurs., Sept. 3 at 7:30 PM at the Creative Alliance at The Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore 21224.  Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a Honduran teen, hungers for a better life. Her chance for one comes when she is reunited with her long-estranged father, who intends to immigrate to Mexico and then enter the United States. Sayra's life collides with a pair of Mexican gang members (Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer) who have boarded the same American-bound train. Tickets in advance are $10 or $7 for members.  At the door, tickets are $12 and $9.  This screening is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Despues De La Frontera/After the Border on view at the Creative Alliance through Sept. 26. To schedule a tour, email curator Tanya Garcia at

23] – On Fri., Sept. 4 from 9 to 11 AM, Sharon Squassoni, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Andrew Kuchins, CSIS, Steven Pifer, Brookings Institution, Guy Roberts, former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy, NATO, and retired Col. Jeff MaCausland, will tackle "Limiting Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: Results of a Track II Dialogue." At CSIS, Second Floor Conference Room 212-B, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, WDC. RSVP at

24] – Come to the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, WDC, on Fri., Sept. 4 at 10:30 AM as the Saudi government is relentlessly bombing the country of Yemen, killing thousands of people. In Saudi Arabia, horrific punishments from beheading to lashings are routinely carried out by the government. It’s time to break the cozy relationship between our government and the Saudi regime!

There will be a march to the Ritz Carlton down the street at 11:30 AM where a day-long gathering of Saudi leaders will be taking place. A new coalition of human rights organizations--composed of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, CODEPINK, the Middle East Crisis Committee (Connecticut) and Peace Action (Massachusetts)--is calling on the United States to end its alliance with the absolute monarchy. Go to or

25] – On Fri., Sept. 4 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! The vigil takes place at the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. NW.  Contact Art @ or at 202-360-6416.

26] – There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on Sept. 4. Black Lives Matter. Though this is the First Friday, there will not be a potluck or a film.  The potluck dinner will occur on September 11, followed by a viewing of WALL-E.

27] –  Come to the ATU Union Hall, 2701 Whitney Place, Forestville, on Fri., Sept. 4 from 5 to 9 PM, as ATU Local 689 will be having a Cocktail Hour/Movie Night. Enjoy light refreshments and at 7 PM a movie called "Chocolate City."

"In 2003, over 400 families from the Arthur Capper's housing project in South East Washington DC were forced from their homes as part of a massive nation-wide redevelopment program.  "Chocolate City" explores the rapid gentrification of Washington DC through the eyes of a group of local women who are fighting to return to their neighborhood. Although living in the shadows of power, their story celebrates the strength of communities and the capacity of art to inspire change."

This event is open to EVERYBODY, please feel free to attend if you would like to have a drink, get to know members (and vice versa) and watch a really cool movie about organizing in D.C. and the strength of communities. Visit

28] –  Go to the Peace Center of Delaware County, 1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064 for the First-Friday Free Large Screen Film Series on Fri., Sept. 4 at 7 PM to see a special Labor Day weekend showing of a film classic, MATEWAN, based on a true story of  justice and struggle. A union organizer comes to an embattled mining community dominated by a mining company and its hired thugs.   Written and directed by John Sayles, the film stars Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell and David Strathairn. The screening is co-sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community. Go to or call 610-544-1818.

29] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at  8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Sept. 4. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Can you meet with a Sarbanes aide on September 3?/Six citizen activists engage with Sen. Cardin at JHU to support Iran Deal!

Are a constituent of Rep. John Sarbanes?  Can you come to D.C. on September 3 at 1 PM to meet with his foreign policy staffer?  Let me know ASAP.


Six citizen activists go to Johns Hopkins University to urge Senator Ben Cardin to vote for the Iran Deal!

  Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels invited thirty JHU students on September 1 to a discussion with Senator Ben Cardin on the proposed Iran nuclear agreement. Sen. Cardin requested an open conversation with Hopkins students. Cardin is the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Said Cardin, “Our young people have the most at stake when we consider questions of long-term global stability, so the opportunity to test my thinking on the proposed agreement with students will be an integral part of my decision-making process. Maryland’s universities draw some of the sharpest minds in the world, and I look forward to learning more about their views on the world.”

Recognizing that Sen Cardin has rejected my request for a meeting with peace and justice activists and my suggestion that he host a town hall meeting on the Iran Deal, I am cynical of the reason given for meeting with Hopkins students. As someone who has been to many lectures at Hopkins and at Goucher College, I have observed that many students lack the knowledge and information on the subject at hand.  They, like I was in college, are generally there to garner some understanding of the issue, and unlikely to challenge the speaker, especially a U.S. senator.  For example, at a lecture by a deputy director of the National Security Agency at Goucher College, I was there to challenge him for the NSA’s repeated abuse of the U.S. Constitution.  Almost all of the questions asked by the students were quite banal.  One even asked how can he get a job at the NSA. 

Nevertheless, around 9:30 AM on September 1, six citizen activists, Steve Buff, Charlie Cooper, Cindy Farquhar, Dick Ochs, Theresa Reuter and Max Obuszewski,  responded to the Pledge of Resistance’s call to greet Sen. Cardin during his visit to the Homewood Campus of Johns Hopkins University.  On May 8, 2012, eight members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance sat in President Daniels’ office for a about eight hours protesting killer drone research being performed by the university.  Since then, when we have tried to conduct a protest, security has chased us off campus. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory receives about $1 billion from the Navy to work on military contracts, and over the years this research has been met with protests.  On Tuesdays, just outside the campus, the Pledge of Resistance holds a protest condemning the university’s swarming drones research.

We were discreet when we went to Hodson Hall on JHU’s campus, assuming we might be removed before we had an opportunity to speak with Cardin.  However, it soon became apparent that security had no interest in stopping us from protesting.  We covered both entrances, and two people went inside.  I was outside when President Daniels walked by as he entered Hodson Hall.  Inside, Cindy asked him if we could attend the meeting.  He pretended to take the request seriously.  But of course, he eventually responded that the room was full. A representative of Progressive Maryland had also tried to get inside the meeting, but she was denied entry.  So she joined us for a while outside, and took a photograph of us holding our signs exhorting Cardin to support the Iran Deal.

While the meeting was ongoing, we gathered outside to query students about their opinions regarding the Iran Deal.  A vast majority of students indicated they had no opinion.  I did not hear of one student who was against the deal, but there was only one student who supported the agreement.  He was from North Florida and firmly in favor of the Iran Deal.  He was also a big fan of Bernie Sanders.

Around 11:15 AM, Cardin and his retinue left Hodson Hall.  Cardin was gracious enough to engage in dialogue with us.  Two of his staffers who were there met with us on August 20 outside Cardin’s Baltimore office. That day we were informed that Cardin will not reveal his vote until after the Senate returns to D.C. after Labor Day  Outside Hodson Hall, we indicated how important it was for him to voice support for diplomacy, not war.  My sign said Senator Cardin Support President Obama, Citizens of the USA, People in the Middle East. Vote for Iran Deal.

As we completed our civic duty for the morning, I was approached by Officer Long who was in plainclothes.  He reminded me that I was banned from the campus because of the sit-in in President Daniels’ office.  I indicated that I was not aware the ban was still in effect.  He said it was, so I suggested we take it to court.  He then backed off from his authoritarian position.  He then asked me to contact him whenever we planned to protest on campus.  He indicated that while he was aware that I was always respectful when engaging in a protest, other members of the security force might not be so understanding.

  At 5:30 PM on September 1, Cindy, I and others were outside the campus protesting drone research and conversing with students.  We were elated to find out that thirty three senators agreed to vote for the Iran nuclear agreement.  We just need one more to prevent an over-ride of Obama’s possible veto.  Will Cardin or Mikulski be the next in line?  Or will they vote for war?  Mikulski as a senator, and Cardin as a presentative, voted against the invasion of Iraq.     

 While we are hoping our senators and representatives do the right thing, MoveOn and others groups are planning vigils around the country on September 10.  Join us in supporting diplomacy, not war.

Max Obuszewski

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cornel West Talks Sanders, Trump and Black Lives Matter

Published on Portside (

Cornel West Talks Sanders, Trump and Black Lives Matter

Zeeshan Aleem

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Cornel West, one of America's most influential public intellectuals, has settled on his favorite candidate running for the White House: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

In a Facebook post Monday, West shared his thoughts on the 2016 presidential race, singling out Sanders and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump as the most electrifying candidates in the field. But he said that only one of them was bucking the establishment for the right reasons.

"Brother Bernie and Brother Trump are authentic human beings in stark contrast to their donor-driven opponents," he wrote. "Yet only Bernie has authenticity and integrity, whereas Trump is for real but not for right."

West described Sanders' focus on inequality as "prophetic," and said that his endorsement was based on the senator's record as "a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years." 

West's seal of approval is a significant development in light of Sanders' rocky relationship with racial justice advocates in recent months. His opinion holds a great deal of sway in the black community, and he's engaged in numerous high-profile acts of civil disobedience in response to police brutality. His backing should provide Sanders with credibility as he takes measures to shift his attention to issues of criminal justice reform.   

Mic spoke with West on the phone to ask more about his thoughts on the state of politics in America. He shared his views on what's unique and compelling about Sanders, Hillary Clinton's much-talked about exchange with Black Lives Matter activists, and the irony of Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric. Along the way, he explained why he wishes that Black Lives Matter disruptions had begun much earlier in the Obama administration, which he has not been hesitant to criticize.

The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. We used Genius to add annotations for context, which you can find by clicking on the words highlighted in yellow.

Mic: How did you decide to endorse Bernie Sanders? How do you think of him vis-à-vis Hillary Clinton or Martin O'Malley or the other candidates on the Democratic side?

Cornel West: In a way, it was not too hard because we've got so many mediocre candidates, both in the milquetoast Democratic Party and the decrepit Republican Party.

Source: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

It's just so clear. Hillary Clinton, she's been an exemplary neoliberal opportunist for a long time. Martin O'Malley strikes me as a kind of dyed-in-the-wool liberal. What we really need is a progressive to hit issues of Wall Street domination of the government. So in a sense it was very easy to endorse Brother Bernie. But we've got to always let him know that we keep the pressure on him.

Keep in mind, we're talking about a two-party system that is just so decrepit in so many ways. Radically inadequate. I was trying to talk about the interplay between the social movements, which is where I spend so much of my energy, and how it relates to electoral and political strategies.

In your endorsement, you said that Bernie Sanders is a "long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years." Yet a lot of Black Lives Matter activists have seen his emphasis on economic equality as either overlooking or downplaying issues of racial injustice. What do you say to those activists who have reservations about him?

CW: It's very important to put pressure on all progressive politicians, no matter what color. But we should always acknowledge that the issue of not just economic injustice, but class injustice, is so fundamental in terms of wrestling with the vicious legacy of white supremacy. 

"I can't conceive of talking about struggling against white supremacy without talking about class."

Any time we have a politician who's bringing a serious critique to bear on Wall Street domination of the government, a serious critique to bear on the role that big banks and big corporations play in shaping the nation — that is an integral part of any struggle for black freedom.

Bernie Sanders speaks to fellow students at a 1962 sit-in.Source: Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

There's no doubt Bernie Sanders and other progressive politicians need to hit issues of police murder and police terror. They need to hit issues of white supremacy across the board. But it's very important never to downplay the critique of Wall Street domination or downplay the critique of capitalism as a whole. In that sense, indeed, Bernie Sanders is a prophetic politician in his critique of Wall Street, in his critique of class inequality and economic injustice.

There's been a lot of discussion about the tactics of Black Lives Matter, and how they're going about holding candidates responsible, by disrupting events by Sanders and others. I'm curious what you think about those kind of tactics in a broader, strategic sense.

CW: I have no problem with certain kinds of politics of disruption. I do think that you want to do it with integrity, which means that you want to do it in such a way that you're not either demonizing or trashing or dismissing. You're just bringing a challenge to bear. There's no problem about that.

Marissa Johnson, left, continues to speak while surrounded by media members as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., looks on at right before leaving the stage at a rally Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, in downtown Seattle.Source: Elaine Thompson/AP

I should say this: I wish that we had had a politics of disruption during the Obama administration too. Because it's not as if he's been on the cutting edge of dealing with issues like the legacy of white supremacy. He wouldn't even talk about race with any substance for almost six and a half years. When you get it, of course, it's very symbolic gesture, he goes to a deodorized prison, and only talks to a small number of nonviolent offenders.

It was just three and a half years ago that black leaders emerged out of the White House and [he] said, There's no such thing as a black agenda. That it's all about America. I'm president of all America. I'm not president of black America. There's nothing specific about black people I need to address. Black people are Americans like everybody else.

You had wholesale agreements among the traditional civil rights organizations. Sharpton, the Urban League, the NAACP. Just a few of us were saying, "This is ridiculous. This is pathetic. That there is a racial specificity here." And of course that's exactly what the young brothers and sisters say in the Black Lives Matter: There is a racial specificity that has to do with white supremacy that needs to be addressed.

Obama himself had been pushing this kind of abstract universalism that overlooked the distinctiveness of white supremacist treatment and abuse and of course police murder and police brutality and police terror is one example we could talk about. The privatization of schools, the entire gentrification of black communities. We could talk about the various attacks on black gays and lesbians and trans folk. So that there's a racial dimension that needs to be acted on.

I'm glad to see young activists in the Black Lives Matter movement acknowledging the racial specificity that was completely called into question by almost six years of the Obama administration.

There's nothing wrong with politics of disruption. You just want to make sure you have a moral consistency when you do this kind of thing.

FERGUSON, MO - OCTOBER 13: Author and activist Cornel West protests outside the Ferguson police station on October 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

In that vein, Hillary Clinton recently met with a few Black Lives Matter activists at an event in New Hampshire. She made the point that she doesn't really believe in "changing hearts" to bring about change, and she's more interested in changing policy and laws. What do you think of her view of how social change works?

CW: I think that Brother Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report hit the nail on the head when he said that in that particular exchange, you had the young black activists who were talking very much about a change of heart — her heart. How has your heart changed, since the very ugly 1994 crime bill that you and your husband supported so vehemently?

But when you're engaged in that dialogue with a politician, you've got to lay out your demands. You can't just talk about heart. So she then ends up lecturing them, and I'm thinking, "Oh my God, she's the last person. By what authority is she going to sit there and lecture these black activists when she supported elimination of welfare in '96, or the crime bill in '94?" That was a strategic move by the young people that backfired on them.

I appreciate the audacity of the young folk, because I think the marvelous new militancy in the Black Lives Matter movement is a beautiful thing. And, as you know, it's in no way confined just to chocolate brothers and sisters. You've got a lot of vanilla brothers and sisters who are part of that movement. It's an awakening of the younger generation who are just tired of all of the lies and crimes overlooked by the powers that be.

In terms of specific policies they could have brought up, what do you think of the policies that you think are needed? Some Black Lives Matter activists recently released Campaign Zero, a list of demands...

CW: Yeah, [DeRay] McKesson and the others. I did, I did, and I welcome that kind of specific set of policy demands.

What really sits at the center of this has to do with poverty, labor, land. You've really got to talk about jobs with a living wage. That's what I like about Brother Bernie Sanders, when he talks about a Marshall Plan for cities — we have to have federal programs that generate jobs with a living wage. You've got to talk about full employment with jobs with a living wage.

Then you've got to talk about quality education. About the privatizing education that makes quality education available for a small few at the top. This notion of "rich kids get taught and poor kids get tested." We're talking about quality education across the board.

Then we're talking about land, having to do with gentrification. The dispersion of poor people and working people, especially poor working people of color. With this middle-class invasion into the cities. It's a land grab. It's a power grab that dissolves communities that too easily disperses people on just the market logic as opposed to democratic logic.

Cornel West and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, second from left, talk to students in a government class at John F. Kennedy High School Sacramento, Calif.,Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006. Source: RICH PEDRONCELLI/AP

So the basic kinds of issues here have to do with just jobs with a living wage, quality education, decent housing. Trying to hold off this market-driven transformation of communities called gentrification. I'm just glad to see Brother Bernie is very much aware and speaking to some of these things, and I think he'll continue to speak with real power to these issues.

One divide we've seen in the conversation about Sanders is between those liberals who emphasize racial aspects of inequality, and those on the more traditional, socialist left, who tend to emphasize issues of class. But talking about race and class aren't mutually exclusive. How do you bridge that gap?

CW: We've been wrestling with this question for many, many, many decades. For me, the issue of class is so fundamental — having to do with resources and asymmetric relations of power at the workplace, bosses versus workers. Therefore I can't conceive of talking about struggling against white supremacy without talking about class.

But the question is, how do we come up with a language that allows a coalescing to take place, so that we don't end up with narrow talk about diversity and inclusion within a neoliberal framework? That is basically what the Democratic Party is all about. It's about diversity and inclusion within a neoliberal framework.

That's got to be radically called into question. You can call it into question in the name of fighting against white supremacy. Wonderful. You can call it into question in the name of fighting against economic injustice and class inequality. That's wonderful.

But when it comes to movements, we've got to interweave the struggle against white supremacy with the struggle against economic injustice, with the struggle against homophobia, with the struggle against patriarchy, and any form of xenophobia. Anti-Jewish hatred, anti-Palestinian hatred, anti-Arab hatred, anti-Muslim hatred. How do we talk about all of those simultaneously?

Twenty-five years ago, people talked about it in terms of fighting for radical democracy. Once you have the empowerment of everyday people across the board, then you're able to wed what people traditionally call "identity politics" with what people call "class-centered politics" because the two are so inseparable that you can't talk about one without the other. I think there's something to be said for that position.

Speaking of xenophobia, one last question. What do you think is fueling Donald Trump's rise? Why do you think he's doing so well and seems not to be going anywhere anytime soon?

CW: I do think that Brother Bernie and Brother Trump share one thing in common: They speak to the anti-establishment impulse among those who are looking for some candidates who are for real, as opposed to the superficial, donor-driven politicians that usually are dominant in any election cycle.

Source: Charlie Neibergall/AP

I think the problem, as you can imagine, is, with Donald Trump, you've got somebody who is xenophobic shot through with a nativistic hostility toward immigrants. I mean, these attacks on our precious Mexican brothers and sister are just pathetic. Nobody really wants to talk about his blessed mother, Mary Anne with an "e" who was born in Scotland, or his grandfather Friedrich Drumpf — D-R-U-M-P-F. Trump is an Anglicized name from "Drumpf," but his grandfather arrived in 1885 from Germany, and if the nativistic voices had been in place when his grandfather or when his mother arrived, they never would've got here.

I come from a people who have been here for 400 years. Black people built America in so many ways, along with white immigrants. But especially the slaves' free labor built America. It's just amazing to me that somebody like Trump — who just got here — becomes, in his mind, the definitive definer of who ought to get here.

The same is true in terms of his complicity with plutocratic corruption. He says, I have been a donor, I have been a participant in this corrupt system for 30 years. But all of a sudden now he's going to make America great again?

No. Plutocratic corruption of government is unpatriotic. I don't know how you're going to be so much in love with America but you're participating in plutocratic corruption of the system and then you wake up now 30 years later and say, "Lo and behold, I'm going to be the savior of overcoming the corruption." No, that lacks integrity.

He has authenticity, but he doesn't have integrity. Bernie Sanders has authenticity, but he's also got integrity. Integrity, of course, doesn't mean that you agree with everything that a politician does. But it's just so rare that you get authenticity and integrity. With Trump, you get authenticity with no integrity.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Can you sign the letter to Rep. Paul Ryan?/Can you join us in D.C. om September 22?

Dear Friends,

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) is organizing an action in D.C. on September 22 as part of the week of actions of Campaign Nonviolence.  The action is "Sowing the Seeds of Hope: From Congress to the White House".

We will be visiting the office of Paul Ryan as one of the members of Congress who is doing so much to hurt the people of this country and of the world.  Then we will go to the White House where we will deliver a similar letter to President Obama and engage in an act of nonviolent civil resistance.

We will be mailing the following letter to Paul Ryan's office and then delivering it in person on September 22. Please let me know if you want to sign onto the letter at  Many of you have already signed onto a similar letter to Obama, but if you haven't and still want to sign onto that letter contact 

And please join us in D.C. on September 22.  We will begin the day in the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building at 9 AM and eventually go to Paul Ryan's office by 10 AM.  After some dialogue at the representative’s office, we will reconvene at the Edward R. Murrow park at noon for some very good speakers and then process to the White House where there will be an action of nonviolent civil resistance.  Please let me, Malachy, or Max know if you are able to risk arrest.

Peace, Joy


325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218

Representative Raul Ryan

1233 Longworth House Office Building,

Washington, D.C. 20515

September 12, 2015

 Dear Rep. Ryan,

As representatives of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), we are writing to request a meeting with you or a senior member of your staff.  At this meeting, we would express our concerns about our government’s continuing wars and military incursions around the world and how this impacts global poverty and the threat to our planet's climate and habitat.  The suggested date for a meeting would be September 22. We realize that you are on the opposite ideological spectrum from us.  For example, we believe in gun control, the necessity of raising taxes on the wealthy, citizenship for the undocumented and marriage equality.  Though we have major differences with your political perspective, we still hope that we can engage in dialogue.  We are in a crisis situation in this country and in the world, as the pope has written.

Therefore, NCNR has issued a call to action: “We call upon people of good will to come to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 to actively participate in a witness of nonviolent civil resistance calling on Congress and the White House to take meaningful action as we confront the climate crisis, the unending wars, the root causes of poverty, and the structural violence of the military-security state.” While the president has recently taken laudable steps to avoid war with Iran and reduce carbon emissions, significant action is still needed to end fracking, to stop the XL Keystone Pipeline, to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels by banning offshore drilling for oil including in the Arctic, and to address the planet's looming climate catastrophe.

Unfortunately, except on occasion, instead of using the State Department, our government instead orders the Pentagon to deal with conflict.  Such behavior in concert with our allies greatly contributes to a violent and destabilized world. The U.S. use of armed drones by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency has inflicted enormous human suffering, is unconstitutional, and is only creating more “terrorists.” Congress should cease its hostile rhetoric and sanctions against North Korea, Russia, and Iran. Furthermore, the US should seek a diplomatic solution to the civil war in Syria, disband NATO, and end the increasing military presence in Southeast Asia, commonly referred to as the "Asian Pivot," which threatens China. Furthermore, Congress must end all military aid to Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other countries in the Middle East. A new approach must be taken to free the Palestinians from over half a century of violent Israeli oppression. Diplomacy is the only answer to stop the cycle of violence. Violence and war are not the answers to conflict, as invariably noncombatants suffer the most. Diplomatic efforts to end the sanctions and hostile relations with Cuba are a good example of the positive path that can be taken and should be followed with other countries labeled as our enemies.

 Nuclear weapons can never be used, and the plans to use a trillion tax dollars to "upgrade" the nuclear arsenal is madness. A recent study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent think tank that works closely with the Pentagon, reports that the actual costs for updating the nuclear triad — the intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and aircraft capable of delivering nuclear warheads will cost $1 trillion dollars. This is beyond senselessly wasteful!  It is immoral and actually illegal under international law to possess such weapons capable of global annihilation thousands of times greater than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These tax dollars must be re-allocated towards reviving our sagging infrastructure and supporting social services desperately needed by the poor. 

  Almost half the people on this planet live off less than $2.50 a day and around 22,000 children die every day due to poverty according to UNICEF.  However, the U.S. has continued to expend half of the federal discretionary budget on warmongering.  Besides wasting tax dollars, untold number of lives have been lost or injured, millions of refugees live unsettled lives and ecocide is being committed on Mother Earth.  "Six years after the onset of the financial and economic crisis, hunger remains high in the United States. The financial and economic crisis that erupted in 2008 caused a significant increase in hunger in the United States," according to the World Hunger Education Service. As you know, the banks were bailed out, but the people  were left to suffer the consequences. In addition,  the World Hunger Education Service states that in the US "In 2013, there were 45.3 million people in poverty. This is up from 37.3 million in 2007. The number of poor people is near the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty statistics have been published."

  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty "More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families." Congress is seeking more than half a trillion dollars for the Pentagon 2015 budget.  Instead, the Pentagon budget must be radically reduced with the savings going towards programs to lift people out of poverty.

 We look forward to a meeting in order to discuss the issues raised in this letter.  We have detailed specific solutions which include severe cuts to the military budget, ways to alleviate income inequality and how to deal with climate chaos.  Of course, we vehemently reject the Ryan budget which takes from the poor and gives to the rich.  And your proposed budget calls for more military spending. We believe Pope Francis will address the U.S. Congress. As you know the pope has been a leader calling for serious steps to be taken to address the climate crisis. In addition, Francis has called into question our economic system and the resultant income inequality and the wars which have a direct impact on the poor and on our planet. We hope you will listen to him and follow his call for a nonviolent way of addressing conflicts.

 We have requested a meeting on September 22, as during that time Campaign Nonviolence is calling for a week of actions around the U.S. in which the issues of the climate crisis, poverty, and war are addressed. We, members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, are heeding the call on behalf of Campaign Nonviolence.   We look forward to your response to our request, and hope that there will be an opportunity for dialogue. As the majority leader of the House Ways and Means Committee, you must take bold action to confront climate chaos, inequality and militarism.  And we are prepared to work with you on these crucial matters.


Joy First

Malachy Kilbride

Max Obuszewski

National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Can you help greet Sen, Ben Cardin on September 1?/Declaring 'Power In Numbers', People Rally Nationwide for Peace with Iran

   President Ron Daniels is inviting 30 Johns Hopkins University students to a discussion with Senator Ben Cardin on the proposed Iran nuclear agreement. Sen. Cardin has requested an open conversation with Hopkins students. Cardin is the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Said Cardin, “Our young people have the most at stake when we consider questions of long-term global stability, so the opportunity to test my thinking on the proposed agreement with students will be an integral part of my decision-making process. Maryland’s universities draw some of the sharpest minds in the world, and I look forward to learning more about their views on the world.”

  Can you join the Pledge of Resistance at 9:15 AM outside Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles Street, on Tues., Sept. 1?  Then at 9:30 AM, we will march over to Hodson Hall on JHU’s Homewood campus.  It is hoped that we can engage in dialogue with Sen. Cardin before he enters the building for the meeting with 30 students. Should we be moved off campus, we will vigil at 33rd & N. Charles Street calling for Congressional support of the Iran deal.  RSVP to Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

Also note that office visits will occur again on September 10.  Let us keep the pressure on the legislators.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Declaring 'Power In Numbers', People Rally Nationwide for Peace with Iran

200 demonstrations sweep country in national day of action to support nuclear deal and say no to war

Demonstrators call on Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) to support the Iran deal at a town hall meeting in Denver, Colorado August 4, 2015. (Photo courtesy of MoveOn)

People across the United States are taking to the streets, rallying at their local representatives' offices, and submitting open letters on Wednesday calling on Congress to choose a path to peace, not war, by saying yes to the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

The national day of action was organized by a coalition that includes MoveOn, National Iranian American Council (NIAC), WinWithoutWar, and United for Peace and Justice, with over 200 actions from coast to coast. Brian Stewart, media relations director for MoveOn, told Common Dreams that tens of thousands of people nationwide also signed petitions, slated for delivery to lawmakers on Wednesday.

The coordinated mobilizations come as Congress nears the end of the August recess, after which lawmakers will vote on the pact—potentially as soon as September 9. As per recently-passed legislation, the U.S. House and Senate were given a total of 60 days to review the final deal.

If lawmakers were to vote against the deal, and amass the votes to override a presidential veto, Obama's hands would be tied on sanctions relief and the deal would sink. However, European Union nations are already showing more enthusiasm to engage, in what some say is a sign of the growing isolation of anti-diplomacy forces, from the United States to Israel.

Elham Khatami, national outreach director for NIAC, told Common Dreams that Wednesday's nationwide actions are the culmination of a month of mobilizing: "All of our organizations have been working through August to raise support, holding meetings and attending town halls. We've come together as a group of peace organizations today to try and make a really strong showing outside of congressional offices, because there's power in numbers."

Updates and commentary on the actions, still ongoing at the time of publication, are being posted to

#nowarwithiran Tweets

    The coordinated mobilizations are aimed at countering a well-funded campaign against the agreement. They come on the heels of numerous rallies and messages organized from within Iran, and the global diaspora, urging Congress to embrace the agreement—and cultivate peace with Iran.

  Dozens of Iranian civil society leaders and dissidents launched a social media campaign this week backing the deal, including those who have faced direct repression from the Iranian government, arguing that it will ease devastating sanctions and military escalation, and ultimately open up more space for social movements.

     "Those who have paid the highest price for the cause of democracy and human rights in Iran support the nuclear deal, not despite their pro-democracy and human rights activism, but precisely because of it," said Mohamadreza Jalaeipour, a former political prisoner, of the project.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs