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, May 27, 2005

STAR BORES

I went to see the new Star Wars movie tonight. My review:

* Acting bad

* Story line - boring and predictable

* Action scenes - boring and predictable (Have not changed much since I was a kid watching pirate movies and sword fights. In Star Wars they just have more technology.)

* Morality play - overused and predictable. Evil forces, dark side stuff - same story line as the rest of the movies.

* Redeeming moments? One when Darth Vader says "You are either with me or against me" Reminds folks of George W. Bush.

Even though Lucas says it is his last Star Wars film, the ending was a set up for another one for sure. The dark side wins but two babies are born and the Jedi's will raise them to fight the dark side. They are the children of Darth Vader so here we go again.

Worst part of the night - popcorn was $6. Outrageous.

REMEMBERING KOREAN WAR

Last night our local PeaceWorks group showed a BBC documentary about the Korean war called "Kill Them All." It is a story about No Gun Ri, the place during the Korean war where the U.S. military ordered the killing of civilians by U.S. troops. The film showed this was official U.S. policy (many different military documents were uncovered that issued the orders to kill civilians) during that war and how civilians were slaughtered many different times by U.S. troops. Once Korean civilians were along a beach and were shelled by Navy ships. Other times U.S. war planes straffed innocent and unarmed refugees, other times U.S. troops mowed civilians down with machine guns.

We showed the film because the theme of our town's (Brunswick) memorial day parade this year is the Korean War. We had about 8 Korean war veterans show up, along with other interested people, for the film last night and had a great discussion afterwards. We asked people if they saw any similarities between the story in Korea and what is happening in Iraq today.

Our Veterans for Peace chapter will march in the Brunswick parade on memorial day as we did last year. We will be dressed in black and pull a float with crosses representing the dead in Iraq. Our banner will read "Abolish all war." The local PeaceWorks group will also join the parade dressed in black.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

TALKING TO THE GOVERNOR ABOUT CONVERSION

The Governor of Maine, John Baldacci (Democrat), was the guest on a one-hour call-in show today on Maine Public Radio (MPR). He was talking about how he is fighting the base closing process. The Pentagon is recommending the closure of the Portsmouth Naval shipyard (borders Maine & N.H.)and dramatically down-sizing the Brunswick Naval Air Station. About 6,000 jobs would head to the south.

I was the first caller to come on line and stated that local communities have become overly dependent on military spending. I said it would be good to see the governor spending as much time educating the public about the need for conversion of the military industrial complex. I went on to say that we need the governor to be more vocal and proactive about creating sustainable technologies development. Why can't we build windmills, solar systems, and rail systems for public transit, I asked? With gas prices rising the way they are we need to be looking toward public mass transit. Years ago Maine had a statewide passenger rail system. Why can't we be building one again?

I concluded the call by saying that creating new jobs in the sustainable technology field would make Maine more independent -- less reliant on the boom-and-bust cycles of military spending.

The second caller and the last caller raised these same points. Only one caller mourned the loss of military production in Maine. It reminds me of the story a friend recently told me. She is a business woman in southern Maine who was interviewed by MPR the day it was announced that the Portsmouth naval yard would close. The reporter went into her business and asked for reaction to the closing. My friend told her that she was glad it was closing and the state needed to get on with the task of developing jobs other than military production. The reporter told my friend that "Nearly everyone I interview is telling me that. Lots of people who call the radio station are saying the same thing."

Is it not possible that growing numbers of people are tired of the war economy? Is it possible that people are longing for the day when they can make a living doing something other than preparing for the destruction of the world? The time has come to move from a war economy to a peace economy. It is our tax dollars. What kind of a country and economy do we want?

Monday, May 23, 2005

SENATE CUTS BAD DEAL

The Democrats lost their effort in the Senate to block several of the worst judges that the Bush administration was pushing. William Pryor, Priscilla Owens, and Janice Rogers Brown will go before the Senate for an up or down vote. They will likely be approved. The filibuster won't be used against them. The Republicans lost in that they are not able to totally kill the filibuster but they will be getting the vast majority of the right-wing fundamentalist judges they wanted.

In the end the courts become more right-wing in America. I recently heard that Republicans control 12 out of 13 federal district courts. This "deal" will not change that.

This whole episode, to me, shows the dramatic weakness of the Democratic party. They could not keep seven of their most conservative senators from cutting the legs out from under their effort to hold the line on the courts.

The Republican controlled federal courts will continue to eat away at civil liberties, abortion rights, the separation between church and state, and environmental protection from corporate pollution. This "deal" by so-called moderates in the Senate came after it was clear the Democrats were going to lose on the filibuster issue. Maine's two Republican senators were under intense pressure not to support the "nuclear option" to kill the filibuster. They were happy to cut this deal because they could still support most of Bush's right-wing judges and not anger folks in our state who would have been furious if they had voted to kill the filibuster.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and the Minority leader, said on C-SPAN tonight that this is a victory because now the Senate can get on with its important business of funding our troops who are at war around the world protecting America. The Democrats are a party without backbone. They run from fights because in the end they are part of the oligarchy that controls this country. The Democrats are thrilled that they didn't have to have a real fight with Republicans over the filibuster.

The people once again get a glimpse at how the Democrats fire up the troops and then at the last minute pull the rug out from under us. If Pryor, Owens, and Brown were as bad as the Democrats have been saying for so many months then why could they not stand on principle and fight against them to the end? The reason is because the Democrats will always pull away as they come to the wall. They will always cave in and betray their constituents.

I recently spent a lot of time talking with a journalist in Ohio who wrote extensively about Bush's controversial election "victory" in that state in 2004. The journalist told me the story about massive vote rigging and cheating by the Bush team in Ohio and stated that there was ample evidence that John Kerry had won Ohio, and thus the election. Kerry was personally made aware of the facts and chose not to fight for the voters who had stood for hours in line and were never given the chance to vote. Why did Kerry and the Democrats not fight for democracy?

The answer is simple. The Democrats will always choose to remain loyal to the system. Their loyalty to the corporate dominated power structure comes before loyalty to the public.

This whole episode kept the media focused for months. Debate about the war in Iraq is virtually dead in the national media. Now that this deal is done, will the Democratic party work to end the war and bring the troops home? Will they filibuster the next $80 billion request Bush makes to fund the war?

We can only count on the grassroots people. The time has come for people to pop their heads out of the sand and speak up. We can't wait for politicians to save us. We have to start fighting now to protect our children's future. We can't give up.