First Action on Nukes

Originally sent Jan. 3

There are 62 of you who wrote back to join this endeavor of ours, which is far more than I expected. Thank you all for joining this thing - it's incredible that, aside from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie, liberals and progressives on the national level have been so muted since the election; these early days are very key, and I think it's valuable to step up on the local level, to the extent we all can. Somebody's gotta speak up--

First, some housekeeping: I've created a Google list-serve, empirestateprogressives. Some of you have asked to remain anonymous, which I fully appreciate, and others have said you'd like to be part of the ongoing conversation and the list-serve. Either way, please write back to me with your preference, bcc'ed or on the list-serve. I can accommodate both options with no trouble, so let me know.  Also, either way please go to and tell me who your congressperson is. 

On to the "first action" - nuclear weapons. 

Post Trump's inauguration, the focus will be on the early spate of Republican legislation (Obamacare repeal) and some of the more egregious cabinet appointments (Justice, EPA, etc. - I'm open to suggestions). But in this interregnum period, an issue that I thought would be best to start with is to push back forcefully against this very serious and absolutely lunatic discussion of a nuclear re-buildup. This is an issue that really central to my fear about Trump as a completely reckless guy with vaguely authoritarian leanings. Talking about growing our nuclear fleet is nuts: our fleet is already massive, and his aggressive posture when it comes to nuclear weapons is, to be honest, very frightening. This really puts some meat around the notion that the "this is not normal" - world affairs are not a reality show and a nuclear arsenal is a negotiating chip to land some "great deal." Presidents shouldn't be talking so cavalierly about this stuff. 

A little background:

According to various sources, the U.S. currently has 3,000-4,500 nuclear weapons (bombs that go boom), and 1,900 "methods of delivery" (missiles that deliver the bombs). We've spent cumulatively $8.8 Trillion on developing nukes since 1940, and they cost a lot of money to maintain - I've seen estimates at around $35-50 billion annually.

Since 1991 we've been cutting our nuclear arsenal. Under Obama and the New START treaty with Russia, we've dropped our arsenal by over 75%. Which is good because these things are really really dangerous. 


Why does Donald Trump want more nuclear weapons? I don't know - maybe he thinks it's a strong counterpunch to Putin's similar call. (????) Whatever his intentions, growing our arsenal is really stupid, and needs to be called out as such.

This is a practice run, here, since we're just getting started. But over the next few days, you can:

Call or email your Senators and Members of Congress

A lot of people have asked me about 1) the experience of calling a congressperson, and 2) the value of doing so. I can speak to the value first - members of the House and Senate take their active constituents really seriously; they keep an effective tally of who phones or writes in to them. As for the experience, I figured that I'd try it myself. I called a few congressional offices today, and both senators. I spoke to Gillibrand's folks for a few minutes, to my congressman's for a minute or so, and Schumer's line was busy. It's very easy - really, you're just talking to staff-members who will tell you they'll pass along your concerns to the congressperson and the good thing is, they'll do so. Emails are also great; they don't need to be chock-full of facts, just clear and in your own words. If you want a good "script," try this from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

My campaign guru Mike Moschella tells me that Tweets are apparently very effective. Whatever you can do, feel free to do it! Feel free to shoot me a note afterward to tell me what you did and the response you got.

More to come shortly. I've really appreciated your feedback on matters big and small thus far so please keep it coming. 

Thanks folks,