Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Enjoy your time with God!

Being an activist can be stressful, and starting a nonprofit adds to that stress. We're often up till midnight preparing for meetings, writing talking points, and planning our strategies. Each day brings new challenges.

I enjoy and am grateful for this deeply fulfilling work, but I found myself getting so stressed that I was becoming testy and forgetful and "not myself." I realized that my life was out of balance and considered going back into therapy. But God had a different plan.

During the Christmas service at First Baptist Church, Pastor John talked about the desert monks of the early church and how a young monk had gone to an elder to ask for a "Word." By a "Word," he meant God's word for his life, a word of wisdom and direction. The elder monk replied, "Go to your cell and pray. There you will find your Word." This Quakerly advice spoke to my condition!

That night I was restless and couldn't sleep so I went into the living room to pray. I felt a lot of pain and confusion--the residues of too much work and not enough time to rest and reflect and process. Then my "angel of insomnia" spoke to me with a simple message: Meditate for 15 minutes each day. That was all, no more, no less. A gracious, not an onerous command. My heart said: I can do this!

I take such commands seriously. Ten years ago, I gave up alcohol and meat because I felt that was what God was calling me to do. Twenty years ago, God called me to fast during Ramadan and I have done so. I have tried to follow these commands faithfully and my life has improved as a result.

So I have been taking 15 minutes each day to meditate. I sit in my "prayer chair," read the Methodist Bible readings from the Daily Discipline, and also the daily passage from Sarah Young's Christian meditation classic  Jesus Calling. Then I set my timer and meditate for 15 minutes.  It's that simple.

I can't begin to describe how comforting this time of reflection has become. I look forward to it every day. It's like receiving a visit from one's Beloved. I now feel more in touch with myself and my Inner Guide. And I feel less stressed and more attentive to others.

It's an obvious truth, but we need to be reminded of it : exercise, whether physical or spiritual, makes a difference.

I also started a daily exercise program--10 minutes or so of Chi Gong and push ups every day. Chi Gong is a Chinese system of exercise that involved coordinating breathing (chi energy) with slow movements, like Tai Chi. I started doing Chi Gong 11 years ago when my wife Kathleen and I went on our cancer journey together. Chi Gong is a wonderful way to reduce stress and increase bodily awareness and fitness. I usually play meditation music as I do my Chi Gong movement.

When I started push ups in December, I was so out of shape  I could barely do 25. Now I do around 60.  As a result, my muscle tone has improved and I am feeling much better physically.

I am having similar results with my spiritual exercises, though they are harder to quantify. I am writing this blog as a note to myself to continue this practice, and hopefully encourage others to do likewise, if you find yourself stressed.

Yesterday, I missed my morning devotion because I had to get the an oil change. While waiting, I decided to go across the street to an Armenian church to see if I could find a place to meditate. I went to the office and the church secretary told me I could meditate in the lobby.

It was quiet and peaceful and I was meditating silently when a man came out of another office, saw me and  said in a friendly voice: "Can I help you? Are you waiting for someone?"

I told him I was waiting for an oil change and taking time to pray.

He smiled and said, "Enjoy your time with God."

I smiled back, and then settled back to meditating, feeling once again a sense of joy and peace and connectedness.

I hope you find time to enjoy being with God, the source of your life and happiness.

For those of you who value science (as I do), this article describes 12 science-based  benefits of meditation.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#section2

Friday, January 3, 2020

End Endless War: Close Guantanamo and Pursue Diplomacy, Not War, in the Middle East


ICUJP members with Carly Towne of Code Pink (in pink, of course)
Yesterday I was shocked, but not surprised, that our unpredictable and incompetent Commander in Chief reacted impulsively to the escalating violence in Iraq and has risked plunging our country, and the world,  into a catastrophic war.  The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, a high-ranking member of the Iranian government, could lead to a war between the United States and Iran, and even World War III. A breaking news report indicates that 3,000 American troops are being sent to the Middle East in response to this growing threat. 
After an excellent presentation by Carley Towne of Code Pink, I worked with my friends at ICUJP to prepare a statement that can help avert such a war.  We encourage you to speak out against this extra-judicial killing and the threat of war by signing an online petition at https://www.codepink.org/noiranwar_old
Also call, email or write your elected officials directly urging them to support the bipartisan legislation  “Unconstitutional War with Iraq." When you contact Senators Feinstein and Harris, please feel free to use text from our public statement  (see below) as talking points.
·        Senator Kamala Harris: 11845 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 1250W Los Angeles, CA 90064. Phone (310) 231 - 4494. Email: https://www.harris.senate.gov/contact
·        Senator Dianne Feinstein: 11111 Santa Monica Blvd #915, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Phone: (310) 914-7300. Email: https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me
You can also contact elected officials via fcnl.org.

Please also come to the Federal Building, 300 N Los Angeles St, 91102, on Jan 10, 2020, from 9:15-10:30 am for our CLOSE GUANTANAMO NOW event. See icujp.org for more info. 
ICUJP Statement to Our Elected Officials
After 9/11, the United States responded to a terrorist attack on our country by retaliating with endless wars in the Middle East and other parts of the world that have caused millions of deaths, displaced tens of millions of refugees, cost trillions of dollars, and made our nation and the world considerably less safe. As people of faith and conscience, we have not only opposed these endless and futile wars, we have also opposed the indefinite and unwarranted detention and torture of political prisoners at Guantanamo and CIA “black sites.”

Consistent with our belief that “religious communities must stop blessing war and violence,” we stand utterly opposed to political assassination as a tool of foreign policy. Killing foreign leaders doesn’t advance the cause of peace. It has the opposite effect: it provokes retaliation and further violence.

The current violence in Iraq is a result of our misguided decision to use force instead of diplomacy to try to resolve political conflicts in the Middle East. 

For this reason, we call upon our elected officials to speak out publicly and pass a resolution opposing the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, a high-ranking member of the Iranian government.   This assassination will further exacerbate tensions in the Middle East and perpetuate the cycle of violence. A breaking news report indicates that 3,000 troops are being sent to the Middle East in response to this threat. 

This dangerous escalation of violence can be seen as a direct consequence of abandoning the Iran Nuclear Agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and supported by the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, and  the European Union. Our withdrawal from this multi-national Agreement was unwise. We urge our elected officials to resume negotiations with Iran and be open to reducing sanctions and making other concessions as an expression of good faith.

We are concerned that this extra-judicial killing could lead to war between the United States and Iran and possibly even a World War. World War I was triggered by political assassination. Assassinating a high-ranking government official can be seen as an act of war and would be considered as such if a comparable American official were assassinated by a foreign power. We feel strongly that Congress needs to reaffirm its opposition to war on Iran, and also support repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which has been used by Presidents as a blank check to justify military interventions.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Reasons to dare to hope in 2020


Hope and despair: these are emotions that often come to the surface during this season of the year, when days are short, nights are long, and everyone is supposed to be happy and celebrating, whether we feel like it or not. During this season when we are expected to be cheerful, I pushed myself so hard that I felt exhausted and depleted, and hopeless. Nothing seemed to matter. I walked around in a stupor for several hours on the last day of the year. I realized that I was experiencing something that I rarely feel:  depression.

Early Christians called this “accidie,” a state of mental and spiritual torpor that was often
Monk in despair, weeping
personified as the “Noonday Demon.” Monks often spoke of being tempted by this demon into despair—the one sin that cannot be forgiven because it denies the possibility of healing.


That’s how I felt for several hours: utterly hopeless and beyond healing. I didn’t feel like doing anything, but I forced myself to do something that usually brings me joy: writing checks to good causes I support. As I wrote checks to groups like the American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Right Sharing of the World’s Resources, and nearly 30 more, I began to feel more hopeful.

In fact, I felt in a good enough mood to go to a New Year’s party with my Quaker friends! I was weary but able to engage with people I’ve known and loved for many years, and being with good people helped. I was even able to make fun of myself—a sure sign of spiritual health!

The next day I watched the Rose Parade with my wife and our friend Mark, and was delighted to see that the theme was Hope. And what a hopeful spectacle it was, with floats addressing relevant themes like homelessness and caregiving in an uplifting way. I was also impressed by the racial, religious and ethnic diversity, so many attractive and gifted young people who spent countless hours preparing to march and play and perform. By the end of the parade, after hearing Los Lobos and seeing interracial dancers obviously enjoying each other as they danced their hearts out, how could one not be hopeful? 
Los Lobos rocks the Grand Finale!

Yet it is awfully tempting to succumb to the noonday demon of despair and accidie during these Trumpish days when fear mongering and corruption have become the norm. I asked my wife and Mark to think of hopeful things for the upcoming year and they both drew blanks. So I took time to compile this list and hope you’ll add to it. We need to “dare to hope” during these troubling times if we are going to have the strength to bring about change—in our selves as well as in our world. 

Here are seven reasons that I am hopeful about 2020:

1)     Young people are rising up, especially when it comes to gun control and climate change. Greta Thunburg and Emma Gonzalez are just the tip of the iceberg: countless other teens are taking to the streets and clamoring for change. Surveys show that those under thirty are not interested in organized religion or traditional politics but they are eager to change the world. The spirit of this generation is captured in a show that Jill and I enjoy watching and recommend: “God Friended Me.” Young people embrace progressive values and want to make a difference.  That’s something to be hopeful about.
2)     Women are asserting their power and taking leadership in Congress.  Since the election of Trump, women have taken to the streets, organized politically, and gained power as never before. As of November 2019, there are 101 women in the U.S. House of Representatives (not counting four female territorial delegates), making women 23.2% of the total of U.S. Representatives. My hope is Trump’s nightmare: that women will claim their power and bring an end to the toxic patriarchy that is destroying our country and this planet.
3)     Locally and statewide, leaders are taking the homelessness/housing crisis more seriously.  Jill and I feel we have launched our new housing justice nonprofit at an ideal time, when people are finally waking up to the urgency of our affordable housing crisis. Candidates like Warren and Sanders are proposing major federal programs to address the need for the homeless and affordable housing. Governor Gavin Newsome has talked about launching a “Marshall Plan” to address this crisis and has supported strong state legislation that would increase the stock of affordable and homeless housing. Our city has approved 136 units of homeless housing this year, and increased the inclusionary set aside from 15-20%. The crisis is huge, but we have reason to be hopeful.
4)     People of faith are standing up for immigrants and for those experiencing homelessness. Muslims, Jews, and Christians of all denomination have been standing together to support DACA and oppose the vicious anti-immigration policies of the Trump administration. One of the most striking recent examples was the Claremont Methodist Church erecting a nativity scene with Jesus, Mary and Joseph  in cages unable to connect with each other. Religious groups have expressed similar concern for our homeless brothers and sisters. This is a good reason to be hopeful.
5)     Polls are showing the Trump’s popularity is waning in key states and among crucial demographics, such as women.  A new nationwide survey found that just 37 percent of women said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 63 percent said they disapprove. This is the lowest approval rating since his becoming President, and women are key to a Democratic victory. See https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/469922-trump-approval-among-women-hits-lowest-point-more-year-poll In an op ed piece in the LA Times, Jon Weiner writes that not only is Trump becoming increasingly unpopular nationwide, “in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, since Trump took office, his net approval ratings, which started out on the plus side, have fallen — disastrously. In Pennsylvania they decreased by 17 points, in Wisconsin by 20 points, in Michigan by 22 points. In the midterm voting, those three swing states all elected Democrats in 2018. Wisconsin elected a Democratic governor to replace a Republican, and reelected a Democratic senator; Pennsylvania reelected a Democratic governor and Democrats there took three House seats away from Republican incumbents. In Michigan, which the Democrats lost to Trump by 11,000 votes, the Democrats had a huge victory in 2018, sweeping the elections for governor and senator and flipping two House seats. Voters also banned gerrymandering and created automatic voter registration, which together will bear fruit in 2020. All this explains why I’m quite certain we’ll be free at last from Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2021.” Americans are waking up the fact that our President is a con man as well as unfit for office. Certainly that’s a reason to be hopeful!
6)     The Democrats are finally taking about important issues like climate change, health care and income inequality. I find it hopeful that Democrats at least agree on what’s important and are making serious policy proposals. These are the issues that most Americans care about (not cutting taxes for the rich, deregulating the fossil fuel industry, and making life miserable for immigrants and refugees.)
7)     Even though Trumpism has polarized the nation, and has bamboozled the Republican party, most American agree about key issues and lean towards progressive stances.An increasing majority of people, as Greenberg points out, believe “immigration benefits our country,” up from 50% in 2016 to 65% today. An increasing majority — now more than 60% — believe that the government should play a bigger role in addressing our problems, especially in healthcare. Free college tuition and a wealth tax have widespread support.” See https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-01-01/opinion-2020-will-be-the-worst-year-of-trumps-life


Just as the last election cycle saw Americans eager for a break from Trumpism, I see the next year as a chance to take back our nation from bigots and corporate crooks. Si, se puede. It won’t be easy and it will take our wholehearted commitment, but yes, we can if we have the audacity to hope and to take action!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas reflection 2019: "Peace on Earth begins with us..."



Dear Friends and Family,

On the eve of Christmas eve, I am writing this at the medical center in Arcadia where I have a view of the cloud-shrouded San Gabriel mountains. Jill is sleeping quietly while receiving an infusion of an anti-cancer med called rituxan. The good news is that Jill is cancer-free thanks to such meds. She has to have this maintenance dose every three months for the next year and a half to make sure she stays cancer-free, but the prognosis is good. I am deeply grateful to God and modern medicine that her cancer is in remission. Despite her health issues, Jill has worked so passionately for housing justice that she won an award from POP!

(Pasadenans Organizing for Progress) for being “Progressive of the Year” in Pasadena, with accolades from Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Assemblymember Chris Holden and Mayor Terry Tornek. I’m grateful and proud to have such an amazing woman as my wife and life partner! See Progressive of the Year   

          While my activist wife is sleeping peacefully, I have time to reflect and meditate and pray—something I plan to do more often in the upcoming year. I am coming to realize that instead of being a hyper activist, I need to take to heart Gandhi’s teaching: “Prayer, rightly applied and understood, is the most potent instrument of action.” When we practice holy silence, and take time to listen to our hearts, we can be more open to Divine Guidance, which leads us to do no more and no less than what God requires of us. This is an antidote to workholism and burnout.   By drawing closer to the Divine Source, we can also experience the “peace that passeth understanding.”   The glorious shalom proclaimed by angels at the birth of Christ!

As part of my morning meditation, I re-read Dr. King’s last Christmas sermon, written in 1967, the year that I graduated from Princeton High School, a time when the Vietnam war was raging and violence was breaking out on the streets of nearby Newark and other cities. King took a huge risk during the final year of his life by opposing the Vietnam War, and championing economic justice. Many say this was the reason he was assassinated. This sermon lays out the spiritual basis for King’s anti-war activism, one that I embrace, especially his belief that “war is obsolete" and peace must be pursued by peaceful means because we are all interconnected.  See King's Last Christmas Sermon.  

I work for peace through my involvement with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP). These two organizations are a source of great joy in my life.

Members of ICUJP with members of the local Parliament of the World's Religion,
another group that is part of the Beloved Community
For over 15 years I have been involved with ICUJP, serving on the Board of Directors and attending Friday morning meetings at 7 am. This stalwart and motley band of activists has become my spiritual and activist family. I help to organize ICUJP’s weekly Friday Forums, which draw speakers on a wide range of social justice issues including Black Lives Matter and white privilege, housing justice, immigration, the Middle East and Latin American concerns, the death penalty, etc. We make lobby visits with our elected officials and organize events and vigils, including our annual “Close Guantanamo” vigil coming up in two weeks (on Friday, Jan 10, at 8:00 am at the LA Federal Building) . I’m pleased we work in tandem with FCNL to “end endless war.” For more details, see icujp.org.

ICUJP vigil 
Coordinating the FCNL Advocacy Team has been another joy. For the last eight years I have taken part in the annual Quaker lobby day in Washington, DC, where other 400 Quakers and others gather to advocate for peace and justice. There are over a 100 FCNL advocacy teams throughout the US, all focusing on a particular issue each year. This year we focused on “Ending Endless War” and repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress after 9/11 and giving the President a blank check to wage war anywhere in the world. See fcnl.org.


California Quakers involved with FCNL
 at the office of Senator Harris
in Washington, DC
This has also been a year of disappointment. The AUMF wasn’t repealed despite our concerted efforts. (Like Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the only one who had the courage to vote against the AUMF in 2001, we haven’t given up, and never will!) But the biggest disappointment has been to see the rise of Trumpism and how it is poisoning America’s democracy with its endless lies and moral corruption. The US now supports autocracies instead of democracies and is the chief climate denier and enemy of life on our planet.  I am also disappointed that Pacific Yearly Meeting—a Quaker organization that I have poured my life into since coming to California 30 years ago--has remained silent in the face of Trumpism and has not spoken out on social justice or peace for five years. As PYM has drifted into quietism, I have become a lone voice calling for our Yearly Meeting to show moral courage and speak out against injustice. Please hold this Quaker body in your prayers. See Pacific Yearly Meetingl

I'm very pleased that my local Quaker meeting has been very supportive of peace and justice, and is thriving,  with young people becoming involved and bringing fresh perspectives and energy. In May we hosted an event called “Ending Endless War” at the Orange Grove Quaker meeting house and we have become the center for housing justice work in our community thanks to monthly meetings of the Greater Pasadena Housing Group (GPAHG). In January there will be a GPAHG Candidates Forum in our meetinghouse which will bring together the leaders of our community to focus on how to deal with our affordable/homeless housing crisis.  See GPAHG Candidates Forum.  

My sister-in-law Jana and my mother-in-law Donna sing
carols with neighbors 
It's a joy to be part of this Beloved Community that includes Quakers along with people of diverse faiths who are wholeheartedly committed to justice and peace. I am also grateful for the love and support of my family: my dear sweet 89-year-old mother-in-law Donna, my sister-in-law Jana and her husband Dwight, my sister Elizabeth (who totally surprised me by coming to my 70th birthday party this year) and her family, my brother-in-law Jim and his family (especially my talented fiddler nephew Edward), my delightful Greek cousin Alexandra and her poetical
My sister Elizabeth and her husband Richie totally surprised
me by flying out from NJ to be at my 70th birthday party.
What a wonderful gift!
husband Peter, and many more family members here in the US and in Greece, my father’s homeland. I am grateful for “adopted” family members like Mark (who lives in our back house) and Melissa, my homeless “daughter-in-Christ” and her boyfriend Shaun. Please hold our homeless brothers and sisters in your prayers.

The message proclaimed by the angels on the birth of Jesus is put into perspective by Howard Thurman, an African American mystic/prophet/teacher. Thurman studied with the great Quaker teacher/theologian Rufus Jones and became a teacher of Dr. King at my alma mater Boston University. Thurman's poem sums up for me how we need to carry through the work of Christmas throughout the year. I appreciate that he reminds us that in addition to pursuing justice and peace, we need to “make music in the heart.” This is the sweet harmony that comes from loving God and loving one’s neighbors!

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.




Thursday, December 19, 2019

GPAHG Candidates Forum on Affordable and Homeless Housing January 21, 2020



On Tuesday, January 21, 2020,  from 6-8 pm, the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG) will host a Candidates Forum at Orange Grove Quaker Meeting, 520 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104.

This will be a very significant election, which will take place on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, for the Office of The Mayor and City Council Districts 1, 2, 4, and 6. 

Candidates in our Forum:

  • Victor Gordo, Jason Hardin, Terry Tornek, Major Williams (Mayor)
  • Felicia Williams, Kevin Litwin and Patricia Keane (District 2); 
  • Charlotte Bland and Gene Masuda (District 4); 
  • Ryan Bell, Steve Madison, Tamerlin Godley (District 6);
Candidates will be asked questions about how they will address the city's housing and homelessness crisis, how they stand on issues such as Accessory Dwelling Units, gentrification, use of the Civic Center for affordable/homeless housing,  up-zoning, etc. Here is a list of questions that candidates have been sent. Their responses will be published when we receive them.



Questions for Candidates for GPAHG’s Candidates Forum

Opening question: Please discuss your vision for addressing the affordable/homeless housing crisis.

  1. Please share your thoughts about the new state laws that give homeowners the option to build a junior ADU inside the residence as well as an external ADU on the lot with fewer restrictions. Do you feel that the City should sue to prevent the state from preempting local control over zoning policies such as the building of ADUs?
  2. Many churches in this city have expressed interest in building affordable/homeless housing on their excess land, This might require changes in zoning and parking requirement. How do you feel about this?
  3. There is currently a debate about whether the Civic Center  should be used only for commercial use or for affordable/homeless housing as well as for commercial use. What do you feel is the best use of the Civic Center?
  4. There is a debate about whether new affordable/homeless housing  should be built in every district, including Northwest Pasadena where low-income people are being displaced due to gentrification. What is your opinion on this issue?
  5. Rising rents are a major cause of homelessness and displacement. Some say that rent stabilization will alleviate this problem, while others disagree. What is your view?  

Closing Question: Sum up your hopes for what you can accomplish during your term in office to address housing crisis, or one of question that you care deeply about and didn’t get a chance to answer


Friday, December 13, 2019

Join us for our special Christmas prayer vigil on Monday, December 16, at the Julia Morgan YWCA


Join us for our special Christmas prayer vigil on Monday, December 16, at the Julia Morgan YWCA (across from the First Baptist Church) from 5-6:30 pm. This vigil will be led by Pastors Juanita and Carlton Edwards of the Pasadena Community Christian Fellowship. This church does amazing work to help feed those who are low-income or homeless by providing tons of fresh food gleaned from grocery stores and farmer’s markets every Thursday. They also operate two Christian discipleship homes for spiritual support during transitions in their lives. The Edwards have a deep commitment to Christ and to loving our homeless neighbors.

You are also invited to our Homeless Subcommittee Holiday Potluck Party from 7 – 9 pm at our home, 1638 N Garfield Ave. This is a time to celebrate our successes, get to know each other better, and envision how we can end homelessness in our city.

Finally, remember to sign up for the homeless count which will take place on Tuesday, January 21 at 8:30 pm. https://pasadenapartnership.org/volunteer-homeless-count/

On that same night, from 6-8 pm, the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG) will host a Candidates Forum at Orange Grove Quaker Meeting, 520 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104.

This will be a very significant election, which will take place on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, for the Office of The Mayor and City Council Districts 1, 2, 4, and 6. Candidates include: Charlotte Bland, Joe Baghdadlian and incumbent Gene Masuda (District 4); Felicia Williams running unopposed (District 2); incumbent Steve Madison, Tamerlin Godley, and Ryan Bell (District 6); and incumbent Tyron Hampton running unopposed in District 1.

Four candidates are running for Mayor (current Mayor Terry Tornek, Councilmember Victor Gordo, former marketing executive Major Williams and local business owner Jason Hardin).

Candidates will be asked questions about how they will address the city's housing and homelessness crisis, how they stand on issues such as Accessory Dwelling Units, gentrification, use of the Civic Center for affordable/homeless housing,  upzoning, etc. 

The election will take place on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, for the Office of The Mayor and City Council Districts 1, 2, 4, and 6


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Repeal the Iraq Authorization for the Use of Military Force that gives the President a blank check for waging war

Pacific YM Friends signed a petition calling on Senators to repeal the AUMF
Are you concerned that the President has the power to launch a war anywhere in the Middle East without having to seek Congressional authorization? That's the current state of affairs, thanks to the 2002 Iraq Authorization of the Use of Military Force which has been used by Presidents to justify numerous military actions. Many  of us feel it's time to sunset this law. If you agree, please contact your Senators at  https://www.fcnl.org/updates/you-me-and-400-advocates-on-capitol-hill-let-s-lift-our-voices-for-peace-2464

I have just returned from Washington, DC. where along with 400 others, I advocated for the repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF. House and Senate negotiators are deciding on the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020.  This provides an important opportunity to repeal the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (2002 Iraq AUMF), which allowed the U.S. to wage war against the Saddam Hussein regime.

Unlike the 2001 AUMF, passed after the 9/11 attacks, the 2002 Iraq AUMF is not necessary for any current operations. However, keeping it on the books renders the 2002 Iraq AUMF susceptible to abuse from the executive branch to justify new wars that Congress has not authorized.

Repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF has broad bipartisan support. In September, 62 organizations sent a letter to the Armed Services Committees calling for the law's repeal, with signatories from a broad range of ideologies, including faith, civil liberties, and veterans groups. And in an August report titled "Building an NDAA that Strengthens America's Military," the Heritage Foundation stated that "Repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF is good policy as it is no longer necessary ... Congress needs to get back in the business of exercising its constitutional duty of deciding on whether to authorize wars."

Please tell Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jim Inhofe (OK) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (RI) to retain section 1270W of the House-passed NDAA in their final bill.

The Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the power to declare war. Repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF is the responsible course of action and would reassert Congress's constitutional powers over matters of war.

Our California Senators are basically supportive of repeal, as is my Congressional Representative Judy Chu, whom I visited last Friday. It's still helpful for them to hear from their constituents that we support them in their efforts to sunset this law, especially when we have a President in office who will do anything to stay in office, including going to war.  But even if we had a President who was wise and fit for office, the Constitution makes it clear that only Congress should have the power to declare war. It's time for Congress to reassert its Constitutional role and reign in the power of what has become an imperial presidency.