Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, February 25, 2005

LIFE IS LIKE A ROSE - BEAUTY AND THORNS

Sad news came to us today over the e-mail that our dear friend Satomi Oba in Hiroshima, Japan has died. Only in middle age and as active and vital as anyone, you can imagine the total shock it was to hear this news. Satomi was on the board of our Global Network and has been with us since our early days. She translated two of Karl Grossman's space videos into Japanese and then distributed them all over her country. Two years in a row she translated our Keep Space for Peace Week poster into her language and again made sure they were used all over Japan. No one could be more kind, gentle, have a more loving spirit than Satomi. Most of us last saw here when she came to Portland, Maine in 2004 for the Global Network's annual space conference. In 2002 when we had our annual meeting in Berkeley, California the organization gave Satomi our annual Peace in Space Award for her tremendous efforts on behalf of the peace in space movement.

The image that will always stay with me about Satomi is the vigil she would hold each year during our Keep Space for Peace Week at the famous dome in Hiroshima that remains as a symbol of the U.S. nuclear bombing of her city at the end of WW II. She and friends always held the banner that read Keep Space for Peace, written in Japanese and English. Her presence there was a chilling reminder that creating new arms races have consequences, something she lived with every day in her beloved Hiroshima. We will miss her dearly but we will never forget her.

But life is like a rose. The beauty and the thorns. Just as we got the bad news about Satomi we got a loving e-mail from another one of our board members Tamara Lorincz in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Tamara has been a key activist in her country during the past couple of years of intense organizing to prevent Canada from joining the Bush Star Wars program. Tamara wrote today to thank the Global Network board members for their active support to our Canadian friends during their historic organizing effort. But all the credit really goes to the Canadian peace movement. When some thought it a certainty that the Canadian government would join Bush on "missile defense" the peace workers there dug deeper and pushed their government harder.

The Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin wanted to join on Star Wars with Bush. But he was stopped. The peace movement throughout Canada organized bigger protest events, more conferences, more speaking tours, media events, promoted more books and the like. But most importantly of all they were determined that Canada would not turn over its national sovereignty to the U.S. Neighbors and friends - yes. Underlings to the U. S.? Never! They've taught us all a lesson about determination, tenacity, outreach, and belief in a high ideal. They have inspired us all.

Today was indeed one filled with emotion. The tears still easily come as I write these words. They are tears of sorrow for a lost dear friend and tears of joy in seeing the positive outcome of hard work and fierce will power. Let us all remember these moments and be inspired by the examples of these lives.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

BACK TO WILLIAM MCKINLEY'S TIME?

The Republicans are at last, after four years of Bush administration deficit creation, discovering the growing debt crisis in America. I've been monitoring "conservative" politicians statements in recent days and they are all following the pack, calling for massive cuts in social spending. "We can't saddle our children with this huge debt," they say. Funny they never worried about it when they were voting to create the debt by giving huge tax cuts to the rich and massively increasing Pentagon spending and throwing money at the war in Iraq like they were playing the Monopoly game.

The Republicans have of course done this on purpose. They created the debt crisis so they would then have to go to the people with their "final" solution. We've got to cut social spending across the board, they say, because we must reign in big government spending. They knew if they followed Ronald Reagan's perscription, cut taxes on the rich and increase military spending, they could finish the job that Reagan had begun in the 1980's. The right-wing sees this as their best chance ever to kill social progress in America and bring back the days of corporate domination of the people. I call it 21st century feudalism.

Bush's political advisor/guru Karl Rove says that his favorite president was William McKinley. Why McKinley? McKinley was the last president before we began to get social progress in America. Back in McKinley's day all we had was the poor house or the street. You lost your job - tough. You are sick and can't afford a doctor - too bad. You want public education for your kids so they can advance - no way. You need social security so you can survive in your old age -- tough luck. This is the vision for America that Rove and Bush and their team of greedy corporate operatives have.

Let's face it. The big corporations figure why pay some American $20 an hour to make TV's when they can go to China and pay someone 50 cents a day. So they move to China. Americans are left jobless and most importantly our local communities begin to feel the pressure as the local tax base dries up. No money for road repairs, no money for schools, etc... Then Bush cuts federal social spending and what do you have? Within one generation you have the Third Worldization of the U.S. It will happen before most people will know what hit them. Bush keeps saying "I'm optimistic" and about half the country believes him. Then one day they wake up to the whole shell game but it is too late. They are f_ _ ked.

I think most people, in their heart of hearts, understand what is going on. They can see the writing on the wall. But they were taught early on to keep their nose clean, don't rock the boat, climb the corporate ladder. They know that if you stick your neck out and say anything about all this you might get it chopped off in this corporate dominated society. They want someone else to do the dirty work for them.

It's what I call the "success mythology." Folks are more committed to being a "success" (fancy house, big car, big color TV, hot vacations) than they are to their children's future. They go along to get along. They tell people quietly behind closed doors, "Hey I am so glad you are out there working on these issues but I can't do it. I've got three kids to put through college you know." The problem though is that because they don't get involved they are getting ready to put their kids through the proverbial wringer.

So what is the answer? We've got to start talking about the success mythology and the responsibility of parents and grandparents to work NOW to protect the future generations from this impending economic tsunami. We've got to urge folks to muster up the courage to think of THEIR kids first.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

SIMPLY RIDICULOUS!

George W. was quoted in the news today as saying it is "simply ridiculous" that the U.S. is ready to attack Iran. He then went on to conclude that "And having said that, all options are on the table."

Bush is actually going to have Israel do the bombing but the U.S. will provide satellite technology to direct the attack. After all, now that Israel is going to give back some Palestinian land, Bush had to give Sharon something in return. "Ok, Ariel, you can blow up Iran," Bush likely said. "Just don't do it while I am in Europe."

When I was a kid I wanted to be an FBI agent. I wanted to fight organized crime. I took an FBI correspondence course when I was about 14 so I could get a head start on my new career. In it I learned about finger prints -- how to read them, etc. I also learned a bunch of definitions that I have long ago forgotten. Except for one. Modus operandi....method of operation. Every criminal has one.

So what is the M.O. of those in power today? They lie, they cheat on elections, they steal the public tax dollar, they mislead foreign governments, they plan takeover of the world on behalf of their corporate overseers. (There is more they do but I can't think of it right now.) But I think this is most of the worst of it..... Oh yeah, they invade other countries on false pretenses.

So when Bush says we won't be invading Iran I find it hard to believe him. It is a matter of trust. My detective instincts tell me to keep an eye on him. Park outside the White House to see who comes and goes. Who is he hanging out with? Stuff like that.

The Belgian peace group, For Mother Earth, did a preemptive strike today while Bush was in their country. They went to the Brussels headquarters of one of Bush's primary collaborators in crime, Lockheed Martin. A bunch of them in Bush masks went into the lobby of the HQ building and started playing some music. That was the diversion while 15 more of them in G.W. masks went upstairs and took over the office of Lockhhed Martin. They began asking questions of the office staff, interrogating them about recent crimes against humanity that the corporation had been perpetrating along with Bush. No arrests were made and they were evicted after about 30 minutes.

I am still gathering evidence of Bush crimes. Surely what he has already done is worse than pulling a Monica Lewinsky? In my little detective notepad I have written the following so far. See what you think - maybe you can help me gather evidence:

* Bush proposes cutting $489 million of clean-up funds at the Environmental Protection Agency
* The U.S. now ranks 17th in the world in high school graduation rates
* The U.S. is 49th in the world in literacy
* Jobs are leaving the nation like crazy being replaced by virtually nothing except Burger King hamburger flipper jobs
* Bush is a homophobe
* Bush cheated on two national elections
* Bush and Condi knew about 9-11 before it happened
* The water quality in America is dramatically worsening
* The air quality in America is dramatically worsening
* The cars in America are getting dramatically bigger while public transit is being defunded by Bush
* Bush allowed a pretend journalist, who runs male prostitute websites, into his press conference and picked him to ask a question
* Bush orders the torture of innocent people who have no access to legal counsel
* Bush is deploying "missile defense" systems that can't even get off the ground

Anyway, it's getting late. The list could go on. Really, please help me gather evidence for Bush's criminal prosecution. I think he did it.

Monday, February 21, 2005

OK BUSH - IS IT FRENCH FRIES OR FREEDOM FRIES?!

I'm very confused. We were told the French were the bad guys, old Europe, by Bush and his team of crazy people, but now Bush is sucking up to France's Chirac. Are we to eat french fries or freedom fries?! I can't take this uncertainty!

Bush is in Europe trying to repair his image with the Europeans. Will one trip where he plays nice and pretends he doesn't want to invade any more countries really do the job?

Let's be honest here. What Bush really is after is one thing. He is in BIG TROUBLE in Iraq and he is begging the Europeans to help bail him out. Bush needs Europe to send more troops so he can let the American National Guard and Reserves get back to their home towns, their families, and their regular jobs before he has a total troop revolt on his hands. Bush needs Europe to help pay for the occupation in Iraq and he also still is trying to round up European allies to help pay the enormous cost of Star Wars.

Then there is Iran. Bush wants to bomb them and Europe wants to negotiate. The Europeans have so much leverage over Bush. What about global warming? What about U.S. torture of innocent people in prisons in Iraq and Cuba? What about Europe's rejection of genetically modified food, and Bush's agri-business promotion of it? Can Europe really trust that Israel is serious about real justice for the Palestinians? How can this new "Berlin wall" between Israel and the Palestinian people be a postive step for peace?

This whole European trip is about public relations. Bush is weak around the world and he knows it. He's painted himself into a corner with his cowboy talk and now has to find his way out.

This Bush weakness might be news to some in the U.S. where the media allow him to get away virtually without a scratch when he lies to the American people. But it should be an awakening moment for the progressive community.

What this means for progressives back home in the U.S. is that NOW IS THE TIME TO STEP UP PRESSURE ON CONGRESS. Our international friends are doing their part. I loved the picture in the paper this morning of protests in Belgium yesterday that greeted Bush. Sign after sign listed the dates of U.S. military invasions around the world. The whole world is onto this gangster country of ours.

So instead of feeling like we are in eternal darkness we must light a flood of candles that will shine a light onto this weak and trembling George W. Bush. He has to to eat french fries, instead of crow, and I'm sure he is not enjoying it at all.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

HILLARY JOINS NEO-CON WAR IN IRAQ

Hillary Clinton, who hopes to become president, is on the Sunday morning talk shows saying that our troops might be in Iraq for some time to come. "We've been in Korea for 50 years," she said. "We are still in Okinawa," she told the TV cameras. Right wing Sen Lindsay Graham (R-SC), sitting next to Hillary during the interview on Faze the Nation, chimed in that even though "Sen Clinton and I are on different ends of the political spectrum, we both agree that our troops will be here for a long time."

That is it. Pack up your bags peace movement and just go home. Hillary has made the pronouncement. She is in sync with George W. Bush, the neo-con crowd, Haliburton, Bechtel....she wants to be president and she knows that the road to the White House has to pass through the gates of the military industrial complex....and the oil corporations....and the globalization crowd that intends to create a "market economy" in Iraq (read privatization of everything there.) Hillary has totally sold out.

The war in Iraq, and the very long presence of U.S. troops there, will bleed America to the bone. The Democratic party, with few very noble exceptions, is on their knees in loyal complicity with the war machine. How can any self respecting peace activist contemplate for a moment supporting such a party in the next election?

Hillary will try to rehabilitate herself with progressives by talking about social programs in the U.S. But how can we have social programs in the U.S. when we are spending our national treasury on an over bloated Pentagon and a disastrous war in Iraq?! How long will we be fooled by those "progressives" who claim that we can afford "guns and butter"?

The peace movement will get very little help from the Democratic party to put a stop to this "endless war" we are now in. We are going to have to step up the pressure on Congress by committing to a steady flow of opposition to our senators and congress members. We've got to sit in their offices, call out their names in our letters to the editor and public meetings, point out their inconsistencies when they claim we can have endless war and social progress at home. We are on our own now. Local activists are going to have to run against war supporters in upcoming elections. The Democrats might have let Howard Dean become the chair of their party but they will not stand up against this illegal and costly war in Iraq. They have sold their souls to the big corporations.

It was no different during the Vietnam war. Lyndon Johnson, the good Democrat, abandoned his own war on poverty in order to escalate the war in Vietnam. Republicans and Democrats climbed into bed together to bring "freedom" to the Vietnamese people. In the end they killed millions of them and thousands of American GI's too. The use of agent orange in Vietnam, to defoliate the jungles, still today negatively impacts the people there as children are born with mutations from parents who were exposed to the deadly toxin. So is the story in Iraq today, as the country is laid waste by depleted uranium which will cause severe health affects for thousands of years. And we hear no concern by either corporate political party.

It is up to the peace movement and we'd better get serious fast. We can't be so concerned about being nice, and not offending people. We'd better stop being so worried what our neighbors think of us. We'd better step it up quick and begin to resist this insanity that our government is perpetrating with our tax dollars. We'd better make a commitment to be a real part of the global movement for peace before this war spreads to Iran, Syria, and even North Korea.

The U.S. is being turned into a military culture. Our role in the world, in the new world corporate order, is going to be to export security. That means we won't have good paying industrial jobs in America anymore. We will send our kids off to foreign lands to suppress opposition to corporate globalization. The military is where our kids will find work. Endless warriors. You think we are hated now in the world....you haven't seen anything yet.

We've got to use every opportunity to bring this resistance message to the public. We can't sit on our fluffy laurels and fancy titles any longer. We've got to get into the garden and get our hands dirty. We've got to get into the soil of this nation and mix it up. We can't wait for our hired gardeners like Hillary Clinton to do it for us. We can't trust that Hillary will plant the kind of seeds we want in our garden. We've got to take on the job ourselves. The time has come to get real.