Sunday, November 12, 2017

Report of a meeting with an aide to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger

   On Tuesday, October 31 at approximately 1 PM, a delegation organized by Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility met in Washington, D.C. with Justin Brower, Military Legislative Assistant to Rep. C. A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, Second District of Maryland. Prior to the meeting, we were informed that the Congressperson was blessed with a fifth grandchild named Charles Albert.

  Our four-person delegation presented six asks to Brower.  Max Obuszewski, of PSR, led the delegation and thanked Mr. Brower for meeting with us.  In response to Dr. Dick Humphrey informing him that he is a retired Hopkins Hospital oncologist, Justin informed us that his father is a pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  As a constituent, Dr. Humphrey, urged the aide to ask Rep. Ruppersberger to co-sponsor the Lieu legislation, H.R. 669, which would prevent the First Use of Nuclear Weapons by a President. Such authority should be with the Congress. Dick outlined the horror of a nuclear attack and the need to eliminate nuclear weapons. He explained little can be done medically after a nuclear attack, so the only approach for the medical community is prevention. 

 He also spoke about the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and indicated that PSR is an ICAN member group. He added that the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1985 to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. PSR is also an IPPNW member organization.. 

   The aide did recognize that Trump is terrifying, but added what happens if there is a president “we” like. Of course, the delegation wanted to place the First Strike decision in the hands of Congress, regardless if the re-incarnation of Abraham Lincoln is elected president.  Justin did recognize that there are 65 co-sponsors to the Lieu legislation.

  Dick then urged his representative to support the Iran agreement.  We were informed that Dutch agrees with our position.  Max expressed his belief that the invasion of Iraq is probably the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history.  Justin added, “yes, it was a foreign policy disaster of epic proportions.”

  We asked Brower to urge his boss to co-sponsor H.R. 4140, designed to prohibit a president from going to war with North Korea without a Congressional declaration of war,  and to co-sponsor H. Con Res 81, which would remove U.S. forces from the Saudi war on Yemen.  The aide pledged that he would take these asks to the congressperson. He added that the congressperson did not believe that there would be a war with North Korea, as the only option is diplomacy.

 Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Roman Catholic woman priest, voiced her displeasure with the trillion dollar upgrade of the nuclear arsenal.  This is money desperately needed in Baltimore for repair of the infrastructure and to provide for the other needs in a city with some 25 percent of the people living in poverty.  She offered an impassioned plea about the dangers of possessing nuclear weapons. One of the issues raised was the B61, a nuclear weapon which can be dialed up or down to increase or decrease its payload.  The Military Legislative Assistant talked about the wars in Vietnam and Korea where the use of nuclear weapons was contemplated.  He added there was talk of a nuclear bazooka, and claimed that the U.S. does not have tactical nuclear weapons, while Russia does.  This must be re-visited as it seems the B61 has been deployed.  He also indicated that the president gives the order to use nuclear weapons, and that the commanders in the field have the discretion of how to use these bombs.

  The aide claimed that Ruppersberger is not in favor of the use of nuclear weapons.  However, one could sense that the representative believes in mutually assured destruction.

Janice also asked for Ruppersberger’s support of the United Nations nuclear weapons ban.  She also emphasized that military spending is out of control to the detriment of social programs.  Max added that the Pentagon is contributing heavily to climate chaos.  Brower said yes, as the top threat for the Department of Defense [sic] is climate change.  He added that the Pentagon has never been audited. The size and ferocity of the recent storms makes it very difficult to be prepared.  If FEMA can’t handle the situation after a major disaster, it can ask the DOD to send in troops, which happened in Houston and Puerto Rico.  He explained that this is a protocol. 

  Justin informed us that the surge of troops that Trump sent to Afghanistan was delayed because of climate chaos.  I interpreted that to mean that storms in the area delayed the troops.  Dick instead interpreted what the aide said was that the Pentagon had to use the troops, at least temporarily, to deal with the crises in Houston and Puerto Rico.  The aide will be asked for a clarification.    

 Justin received a request from Janice about the amount of tax dollars Loyola University-Baltimore receives to host a ROTC program.  His response was that he would do his best to gather such information, but that there may not be a specific amount per school. Instead it may be a lump sum for all collegiate ROTC programs. He emphasized that the spam filters in Congress are jacked up.  So if he doesn’t respond to an email, call him.

 We agreed to stay in touch with him about our issues.  Bernard Brown, with the group Healthcare is a Human Right – Maryland, expressed concern that the Republicans were getting vicious against the poor, especially regarding healthcare.  Brower explained his boss would be fighting to protect and strengthen healthcare, and then quoted Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the House, talking about President Reagan:  "He has no concern, no regard, no care for the little man [sic] of America." . 
  Max indicated that Sr. Megan Rice of the Transform Now Plowshares was unable to be with us as she was traveling.  However, he showed Justin a copy of ALMIGHTY, Dan Zak’s book, which tells the story of the development of nuclear weapons and how the Transform Now Plowshares engaged in a disarmament action at the Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge, TN.

 One part of the book deals with her Uncle Walter, a Marine who was sent to Nagasaki, whose life was changed by seeing the awful destruction of that city. Through the rest of his long life, he was active with groups such as Atomic Veterans and Radiation Survivors.

  Dick quoted from page 73 of ALMIGHTY the answer Daniel Ellsberg received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he asked how many global fatalities would occur from a nuclear first strike against Russia and China: “TOP SECRET Six hundred million.”  He also showed Brower the book RAVEN ROCK by Garrett M. Graff, which is about the inner workings of this compound just miles from Camp David, where government officials would be taken during a nuclear war. Presumably, those who started a nuclear war would be saved, while those of us protesters would be dead or taken into custody. 

  After a photo-op with Justin Brower, Max asked the receptionist about her college experience.  She graduated from the University of Maryland in May 2017.  Because her parents paid for her college education, she was able to accept an unpaid internship with the office of Representative Ruppersberger.  Unfortunately, many students are carrying some serious college debt, and others can’t afford to go to college.  But our government is willing to waste at least a trillion dollars on refurbishing a nuclear arsenal which can’t ever be used.  When will the elected members of Congress come to their senses and fund what needs to be funded, and de-fund military appropriations?

The notes were compiled by Max Obuszewski.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [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

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