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

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